New York City finally figured out what to do with all its old phone booths.

New York City's phone booths are about to be replaced.

By what? You may ask.

By these:


A LinkNYC Wi-Fi hotspot outside of Jay Zs home. Photo from YouTube

That, my friends, is a public Wi-Fi hotspot. And it's free.

They may look like the monolith from "2001: A Space Odyssey," but instead of providing light-speed, mind-expanding information access to a species of primates, the Wi-Fi hotspots will ... actually, they'll sort of do exactly the same thing! (Humans are primates for those of you who slept through biology class.)

Starting this summer, Wi-Fi terminals from a project called "LinkNYC" will start appearing all over New York City.

Since at least 2012, New York has been trying to figure out what to do with all the old pay phones. They launched a nationwide competition looking for solutions, and the idea to turn them into Wi-Fi hotspots was the winner.

The project is run by CityBridge and funded in part by three tech companies: Qualcomm Technologies Inc., a smartphone chip maker; CIVIQ Smartscapes, a networking company; and Intersection, which has backing from Google's parent company Alphabet.

CityBridge plans to install 500 of these hotspots in July 2016, with the eventual goal of 7,500 appearing throughout the city.

Cities have tried in the past to provide free public Wi-Fi, and CityBridge plans to leave those efforts in the digital dust. LinkNYC terminals will provide a whopping 1,000 megabits/second (mbps) Internet speed with no ads. That's a lot faster than a typical wireless carrier offers. (One of Verizon's more expensive wireless plans is only 50 mbps.)

That's great news for New York City's many cafe writers, Instagrammers, and public porn-viewers.

Lots of New Yorkers go to coffee shops to use free Wi-Fi and pretend they're working. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

This is also great news for the wireless market in general.

New York City offering such blazing fast Internet for free will force all Internet carriers in that market to step up their game.

“This is creating all kinds of competition,” Colin O’Donnell, CityBridge’s chief technology officer told the Wall Street Journal. “This is going to set a new standard for speed, drive pricing competition, and set new expectations for data caps."

Since New York City is one of the countries largest Internet markets, competition is beneficial to all. Among the chief providers of Internet service in New York is Time Warner Cable, which has been rated as the most unpopular company in America.


They were even voted worse than Skynet, a fictional company that literally ended humanity. Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Three hand clap emojis for New York City setting yet another major precedent.

After all, this is the same city that successfully banned trans fats and invented salt warnings for the sake of public health, recently gave working parents and caretakers legal job protection, and even planted 1 million trees to improve the environment.

Now, NYC is setting a high bar for information access in the age of the smartphone.

In 2011, the UN declared Internet access a human right, calling "upon all states to ensure that Internet access is maintained at all times, including during times of political unrest."

Starting summer 2016, all of New York City's residents can enjoy that human right free of charge and free of hassle. Perhaps it could set an example for other cities to do the same.

Frankly, it'll just be nice to have something in the city without Donald Trump's name on it.

The only question left is: Where is Superman supposed to change now?

Sorry, buddy. DISCLAIMER: May not actually be Superman. Photo by Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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