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2024 Honda Civic Si First Drive: Much more than nostalgia

Every automaker in recent years has been keen to repackage our nostalgia for classic sports cars for a new generation. The resurgence in throwback styling, the revival of long-discontinued nameplates, the callbacks to brand heritage on and off the track – they all acknowledge that we miss the long-gone days of fun, affordable cars that could commute five days a week and carve canyons on the weekends. And, with the Gen X’ers that grew up idolizing the sports icons of the 80s finally possessing the cash – or credit – to dictate new model offerings, manufacturers at last have an incentive to bring back the days of yore.

In an era of stringent crash standards, EPA requirements, and increasing expectations of comfort and roominess from consumers, though, it’s rare that any of these nostalgia-laden models offer an experience that resembles their namesakes in anything but… well, name.

Image: Victoria Scott / SlashGear

So, when Honda brought out a third generation Civic Si – the very first Si model ever produced – and parked it next to the brand-new, eleventh-generation 2023 Civic Si as inspiration illustration of the newest installment for the long-running platform, I was skeptical. I’ve been a fan of vintage Hondas ever since I got a driver’s license; I drove an ’88 Prelude Si 2.0 to work every day for years. The attributes I love the classic creations of Soichiro’s company for – the airy cabins, the light and tossable on-road demeanor, and the motors that adored revs – all seemed off the table with this newest Civic Si, at least from a glance at its spec sheet.

Image: Victoria Scott / SlashGear

After all, the eleventh generation has gained fifty pounds over the outgoing model, putting it just shy of 3,000 pounds total. At the same time, it lost five horsepower, down to a flat 200 HP at the front wheels, and gained 1.4 inches in the wheelbase. Now nearly 108 inches, it’s over a foot longer than the diminutive hatch from ’87. And, although the displacement of the ’22 is the same as its ancestor from ’85 thanks to a 1.5 liter VTEC-equipped inline four under the hood, it’s now turbocharged, something that Honda had famously eschewed during their glory days of the 80s and 90s. Sum up these facts and it seemed like the newest iteration would be less like its ancestors than ever.

Image: Victoria Scott / SlashGear

Visually, at the very least, it is a return to form for Honda. The eleventh generation Civic is vastly prettier than the outgoing model, with the boy-racer tackiness of the tenth-gen Si done away with in favor of strong, uncomplicated body lines and uncluttered bumpers. It might not be the most stunning sedan on the market, but it’s undeniably handsome, and my test car finished in Si-exclusive Blazing Pearl Orange metallic paint was downright striking.

Along with the new sheet metal, the interior has gotten the complete refresh it sorely needed, and the cabin is much better for it. All of the strengths of the newest base model Civic introduced earlier in the year are carried over to the Si. The center stack has been decluttered and the standard 9″ touchscreen is now vastly easier to use, and comes equipped with also-standard wireless CarPlay and Android Auto.

Image: Victoria Scott / SlashGear

The stunning honeycomb vent trim bifurcating the dash is crisply emphasized with trademark Si red accenting, and the seats are supremely comfortable, with hip and lower back bolstering taken straight from the 10th generation Type R. As a bonus, the standard sound system – a 12-speaker Bose setup, complete with a subwoofer – is by far the best I’ve ever heard in a car anywhere close to this price point. At a $27,300 base price (plus $1,015 destination), with the only possible option being a $200 summer tire upgrade, it punches hard for its segment.

Image: Victoria Scott / SlashGear

Image: Victoria Scott / SlashGear

I was incredibly pleased to find that, in motion along routes that even supercar owners covet, the newest Si came together with a lively joy and easy-to-fling demeanor that brought me right back to those heady days of early Honda sports coupes. That redesigned cabin isn’t just packed with amenities, it’s designed to allow for as much greenhouse visibility as possible: the narrow, pushed-forward A-pillars allow for some of the best sight lines I’ve ever witnessed in a car that still needs to pass a roof crush test. Hairpin apexes were easy to spot without any of the unfortunate torso bob-and-weave routines that some modern cars require, due to their chunky pillars, and the downright airiness of the cockpit brought me back to my days of freeway off-ramps in my old ‘Lude.

Image: Victoria Scott / SlashGear

But it got better. Leaning onto the throttle out of those hairpins felt truer to the quintessential Honda experience than its engineers have ever achieved with a turbocharged motor before. The 200 HP four-cylinder is no longer naturally-aspirated, no, but Honda has taken pains to flatten the turbocharged peaks of the torque curve so that all 192 lb-ft it can deliver are on tap from a mere 1,800 RPM, then stick around all the way to 5,000.

Horsepower doesn’t climax until 6,000 RPM and, as a result, the Civic kicks early and pulls hard all the way to its 6,500 RPM redline. Even when I’d dip way down into the revs for exceptionally tight corners, it never felt like it was lugging its way back towards peak boost. It’s the traditional torque curve vintage VTEC votaries adore: floor it early, and let it rocket ’til the rev limiter beckons.

Image: Victoria Scott / SlashGear

Even when I had to throw down one more gear, the Civic handled blipping the throttle for me without complaint. It did occasionally lead to a bit more rev-hang than I would prefer, but it was nothing intrusive enough to interrupt my bliss as I wound through curve-etched canyons in Southern California.

Image: Victoria Scott / SlashGear

No matter how hard I pushed the Si, it eagerly devoured the blacktop. Honda has done away with the adaptive dampers of the previous generation, deciding instead to simply put stiffer springs, a stronger torsion bar, and more structural rigidity into the newest Civic, and the handling is outstanding as a result. The steering feels weighty without losing an ounce of road feel; the chassis is so brilliantly communicative, it could have a job in public relations. Whether it’s the beautifully-bolstered seats, the fantastic steering, or the steel-girder stiffness of the chassis, no matter – driving the newest Civic felt like wearing it. The center of rotation simply felt like it was my hips, and the entire car was orbiting around me.

Image: Victoria Scott / SlashGear

As I wrung it out relentlessly through the hills and got the summer-tire-option Goodyear Eagle F1s warmed up to temp, I could feel the sidewalls flexing before the car would break traction. When the Honda finally did begin to skitter across the pavement it did so with complete poise and an extremely neutral demeanor, with just a hint of understeer on the tightest corners that was easy to correct by letting off the throttle. It was sublime at the limit, because it would warn me long before any real danger and keep me from doing anything too stupid; it just was having fun right along with me.

The dirty secret of reviewing, though, is that nearly any car is fun to review at the ragged edge of its limits; what’s more incredible is when a car can make a pleasure cruise feel engaging. After my pulse-pounding romp, I laid back, blasted that ample Bose system, and made my way up the coast of California, and the Civic Si was still unrivaled amounts of fun. At the time, I couldn’t pin it down to any specific factor – was it the comfortable interior? maybe it was that eager drivetrain, thrilled to race up to redline? perhaps the compelling steering feel?

Image: Victoria Scott / SlashGear

Honda’s machines of the 80s were not parking-lot heroes with the statistical provenance to win arguments. Curb weight, torque curves, 0-60 times – those are irrelevant data in this context. Its finest cars have always been cohesive experiences that are far more than the sum of their parts. Honda’s best cars have always been fun at 30 MPH dawdling through traffic or 65 attacking corners like the Senna of the streets, and the newest Civic carries on that tradition with one of the most fun driving experiences a modern car can offer, at any speed.

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June 2023 Broad Core Algo Update: It’s More Than E

Two high authority websites have lost traffic from the June Core Algorithm Update. Their losses challenge the conventional thinking that expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T) were the path for recovering from an update.

High “Authority” Websites Lost Rankings

Authoritative websites are said to have lost rankings in the June 2023 Core Algorithm Update. This exposes a weakness in the theory that factors such as E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness) are directly associated with ranking declines.

These sites had no problems with expertise, authority or trustworthiness.

A UK news site, The Daily Mail, suffered major traffic declines due to Google’s June 2023 algorithm update.

Now, a bitcoin news site, chúng tôi is reporting that they are shutting down because of the Google Update.

“Google’s June 2023 Core Update rolled out on June 3th 2023 and CCN’s traffic from Google searches dropped more than 71% on mobile overnight.

Our daily revenue is down by more than 90%.”

In a blog post explaining why they are shutting down, CCN noted that another bitcoin news site, CoinDesk, was also losing traffic:

CoinDesk is a leader in their space. So it would be remarkable if they too have lost traffic due to Google’s June 2023 Broad Core Algorithm Update.

Is Trustworthiness a Problem for the Daily Mail?

“…the Daily Mail tends to publish stories utilizing sensationalized headlines with emotionally loaded wordings such as “Woman, 63, ‘becomes PREGNANT in the mouth’ with baby squid after eating calamari”, which is obviously a fake news story.”

Sounds pretty outrageous, right?


The article is based on a real incident. The authoritative source of the information was the United States government’s National Institute of  Health.  That was not an “obviously fake news story” as MediaBiasFactCheck reported. Had MediaBiasFactCheck actuall fact checked the Daily Mail article (like I did), they would have found this link to chúng tôi that relates the true story of baby squid attaching themselves into a woman’s mouth.  It’s not fake news. It’s real.

According to their FAQ:

Media Bias Fact Check, LLC is a Limited Liability Company owned solely by Dave Van Zandt. He also makes all final editing and publishing decisions.

Dave Van Zandt obtained a Communications Degree before pursuing a higher degree in the sciences. Dave currently works full time in the health care industry. Dave has spent more than 20 years as an arm chair researcher on media bias and its role in political influence.

I will leave it up to you to decide whether MediaBiasFactCheck is a trustworthy source of information.

What Does Pulitzer Prize Winner Politifact Say?

One last thing to consider, here is what Wikipedia says about the Daily Mail:

The Daily Mail has been widely criticised for its unreliability, as well as printing of sensationalist and inaccurate scare stories of science and medical research, and for copyright violations.

The Daily Mail has won a number of awards, including receiving the National Newspaper of the Year award from the British Press Awards seven times since 1995.

Is the Daily Mail, the second most read newspaper in the UK, not trustworthy?  Is that what contributed to their traffic decline?

I will leave it up to you to form your own opinion as to the matter of trustworthiness and whether or not it played a role the Daily Mail’s Google update situation.

Google Webmaster Help Forum Fails to Help

“We have tried to find out why our stories are no longer visible on Google by asking for guidance in Google’s Webmasters Forum. While we appreciate the help of the experts from the Google Forum, their theories for why Google has decided to basically “shut down” CCN does not appear to be entirely accurate.”

“The website has no information about the valid organization of the publisher.

The website has information about some organization with the name CCN, however, this brand does not have unambiguity and a fragment of Google Knowledge Graph in the SERP.

● Who (what individual, company, business, foundation, etc.) created the content on the page.”

Like Talking to a Chatbot

The answers focused on download speed, mobile friendliness and again, Authorship:

“The information about the author such as Martin Robinson is contrary to the following Google recommendations for publishers…”

As for the site not being mobile friendly, that’s incorrect. As you can see below, the site is mobile friendly.

There are some page loading errors but those are scripts that are blocked by third party ad servers, something common across the Internet. The rest are warnings about things like deprecated scripting.

Is that enough to kill the rankings by 50%? What do you think?

Google’s Algorithms are Not Summed Up by Quality Raters Guidelines

Google’s Algorithm updates cannot be summed up by what’s in the Quality Raters Guidelines. So why do SEOs depend on it to solve Google update problems?


Danny Sullivan tweeted that the Quality Raters Guidelines can be used as a reference guide for creating quality content.

He said to focus on making quality content.

Here is what Danny Sullivan tweeted:

“We tell lots of things to do. Improve site speed. Consider secure. Etc. But that’s not what this update was about. It’s broad. And respectfully, I think telling people there’s no particular thing to “fix” is indeed helpful. It means, hopefully, they think more broadly…”

Followed with:

“Want to do better with a broad change? Have great content. Yeah, the same boring answer. But if you want a better idea of what we consider great content, read our raters guidelines. That’s like almost 200 pages of things to consider: “

An SEO responded to Danny by correctly pointing out that the Quality Raters Guidelines is for content creation, not for diagnosing why a site is no longer ranking in the search results:

“The guide is GREAT for creation guidelines, not diagnostics. Especially if you just dropped off the map.”

Quality Raters Guidelines are Not a Diagnostic Tool

The quality raters guidelines is helpful. But Google’s algorithms do more than check if a page passes a “quality” test.

Google’s mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. ” Web page quality is one part of that. Relevance and usefulness to a user making a search query is a major part of the algorithm.

So if a site has lost rankings, while content quality may be an issue, of higher concern is figuring out why the site is no longer relevant to a user. Google’s algorithm focuses on returning the most relevant content, regardless of coding errors or whether the article author has their contact information listed somewhere.

The Raters Guidelines are helpful. But the SEO community is clearly on the wrong path by relying so heavily on Google’s Quality Raters Guide for answers to algorithm related ranking problems. There is more nuance to ranking in Google than what’s in the Quality Raters Guidelines.

Quality Raters Guidelines is not an SEO cheat sheet

Google’s algorithms do more than obsess over E-A-T

Quality Raters Guidelines are Not a Diagnostic Cheat Sheet

The Quality Raters Guidelines is mostly a document about web page quality. Page quality is highly important.

But Google does not primarily rank pages because they are high quality. Google ranks pages because they are relevant and useful to users.

There is a tendency to seek answers in the Quality Raters Guidelines for update related ranking problems. This is a mistake. A broad core algorithm update encompasses a wide range of improvements designed to help Google understand search queries, understand and rank web pages, and to be useful to users.

Page Quality is just one ranking factor out of many other factors.

Broad Core Algorithm Updates are Not Solely Focused on E-A-T

Some SEOs continue to recommend that publishers hurt by an algorithm update should add more information to their About page, add more author information to the articles, in order to increase their E-A-T scores.

Goodness… Do people truly believe that hacking Google is as easy as improving author credentials?

Apparently so. As ridiculous as this may sound, that’s what some in Google’s Webmaster Help forum offered as a solution to The Daily Mail, a well known news organization.

The focus on E-A-T to solve Google update problems is a mistake because it ignores the fact that Google’s algorithm is larger than just expertise, authoritativeness and trust. Those are just three factors out of over 200 factors.

Wide Scope to Algorithm Update

It’s called a Broad Core Algorithm Update. The word “broad” is defined as having a wide scope, covering a large number of topics.

Focusing on E-A-T as the root cause of update problems is a huge mistake.

Nothing to Fix

What that means, that there is nothing to fix, is that there is nothing wrong with your site.

When an SEO recommends E-A-T to solve an update related ranking problem, they are saying that the reason the site doesn’t rank is because there is something broken that needs fixing.

But Google says there is nothing to fix.

One is right. One is wrong.

Google’s guidance that there is nothing broken on your site to fix is a huge clue. So why ignore it?

What Does Nothing to Fix Mean?

Nothing to fix means don’t expect that fixing “quality issues” will solve your Google Update problems.

Nothing to fix means that there is nothing wrong with your expertise, authoritativeness or trust.

“Nothing to fix” means that Google is doing more than “targeting” low quality signals.

Nothing to fix can mean that:

Google is improving natural language processing tasks

Google is improving how it ranks links

Google is improving how it understands search queries

Google is improving how it understands a part of a web page that exists within a larger part of a web page.

Google has improved the speed at which it identifies low quality links and ignores them.

As you can see, there are so many areas that Google can improve in an algorithm, the list could literally run to thousands of improvements.

If the list of things that Google could improve is so long, why in the world does the search industry focus on the same four things, Quality, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trust?

As can be seen by the plight of major sites like CCN and the Daily Mail, the idea that Google’s Broad Core Updates could be reduced to four baby-food level ranking factors is not helpful.

When trying to diagnose a solution, it may be more helpful to expand the set of factors looked at. Start with the search results pages themselves. How can you diagnose a ranking problem without looking at the search results?

Read cryptocurrency news site announcement: CCN is Shutting Down after Google’s June 2023 Core Update

2024 Lexus Gs F First Drive

2024 Lexus GS F First Drive

The car we’re seated in will arrive in showrooms in December, and when it does, it will continue the industry trend towards upmarket, increasingly niche segments. For its part, the luxe Japanese automaker has largely avoided following in the footsteps of the big German three in that regard. In many ways, the GS F will look to make its own way as well, all 2,000 of them slated to arrive in America.

Seemingly every Mercedes, BMW, and Audi has a corresponding AMG, M, S or RS model. Not one to be left out of the party, Lexus has played the variant alphabet-soup-game too, with F-Sport models adding distinct aesthetic touches, but the true performance F models have been limited to three. These include the IS F, the brand’s halo in the LFA supercar, and most recently, the RC F Coupe. And now? We’ve got a day to evaluate number four.

“Shouldn’t be more than twenty-five minutes,” I say, looking down at the nav. In retrospect, the impressions formed in that first half-hour in the morning may have been more important than those on track. While the GS F is the performance variant, we honestly can’t see anyone walking out of a dealership thinking “I’m going to track this.” Thankfully, Lexus doesn’t either.

The 2024 Lexus GS F is slated to be priced at $85,380 after delivery. That’s priced, not starting. We make the distinction because the GS F comes loaded with features, and the only options are orange brake calipers, or the fancier Mark Levinson audio system (audiophiles and creamsicle lovers, rejoice). That’s it. Again, Lexus is deviating from the course laid by the Germans, who offer attractive starting prices, but bundle most content and the options you want into pricey add-on packages that add features only as you pry open the wallet further.

In actuality, the GS F is more on par with very well-equipped versions of the Audi S6, or BMW 550i M Sport. Which brings us back to the directive of this car.

“It’s meant to be a fast road car, but capable on the track,” says Yaguchi-san, Lexus Emeritus Chief Engineer. That, it very much is. The GS F’s 5.0-liter V8 is good for 467 hp and 389 lb.-ft.—tuned and rebalanced from the RC F—and paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Peak power will arrive at 7,100 rpm, just below the 7,300 rpm redline. With a manufacturer estimated 0-60 mph time of just 4.4 seconds, and a quarter-mile time clocking in around 12.8 seconds, that’s a lot of metal—4,000 pounds worth—going very fast. And it’s track-capable, thanks to a few tricks.

First, engineers nailed the suspension. On the road, the GS F is composed, comfortable, and sporty when you want it to be. On the track, the GS F benefits from a torque vectoring differential, standard on all models. Two planetary gear packs in the rear help distribute torque to the optimal wheel, meaning more power is automatically transferred to the inside wheel when entering a corner, and sent to the outside wheel on exit. And it really works, too. During our laps of the circuit, race instructors toggled through the various settings, of which there are several.

First, there are the drive modes. Eco does what most Eco modes do: taper back throttle inputs and reduce the air conditioning in the name of saving fuel. Around town, Eco is your friend. Next is Normal, the name really gives it away. A Sport mode taps into the powertrain’s capabilities a little further, but it’s the Sport Plus (S+) mode that makes the GS F happiest. Here, throttle is maximized—with the Active Sound Control helping you appreciate the V8 with “desirable sound notes” piped right into the cabin—and even the electric power steering is wound a little more tightly.

Couple the drive modes with the TVD system—which boasts Normal, Slalom, and Track modes—and the GS F is a hyper-specific, precisely-tuned machine. In addition to TVD, Lexus has outfitted its top GS with a “G-Force Artificial Intelligence” system that detects driver inputs, and adjusts the car to maximize performance. If you’re hard on the throttle, it’ll detect that and ready higher gears for quicker upshifts, for example.

The 15-inch front and 13.58-inch rear brake calipers help the 19-inch Michelin Pilot Super Sports cut speed without drama after Jarama’s long straight, just before the circuit’s hard-right. Picking speed back up in Sport Plus is easy, power comes on fast, and shifts between gears are smooth. All of this is to say that the GS F will drop a few genuine grins on your face if you do find yourself on the track. But for those that just want a luxury sedan with performance at the ready when they want it, you’ll find quite a lot to like.

Alluring sheetmetal and handsome styling, make the GS F stand out: large air intakes, the infamous spindle grille, LED lights, attractive quad-exhaust pipes in the rear, there’s a lot that helps distinguish the GS F on the road. Inside, unreasonably comfy seats, a beautiful 12.3-inch screen with attractive graphics, and the best head up display we’ve seen yet—sharp, visible in direct sunlight and with bold readouts—make the interior as nice as any in the segment.

Interestingly, when we asked Lexus why they didn’t opt for an adaptive air suspension, they said that while the technology was interesting, it didn’t meet internal reliability standards in testing. If nothing else, the GS F can count on the automaker’s long reputation for quality and reliability.

In many respects, the 2024 Lexus GS F plays by its own rules. The German competitors all count on turbochargers, while the Lexus goes the classic route with a large, naturally-aspirated V8. The Germans have air suspensions, Lexus makes a pliant one and calls it a day. Mercedes, Audi, and BMW have several content packages, Lexus gives you a loaded model and charges you up front for some of it.

In many ways, the Lexus GS F stands alone. And for the 2,000 buyers that will opt for one, the combination of sportiness, style, comfort, and technology will leave them happy. The GS F feels genuinely special.

Trampolines Are More Dangerous Than You Think

Kids have no fun anymore, amiright? Back in the day we used to play in the streets! We chased cars! We climbed trees and we fell and sometimes we got hurt—but that was okay! If only we could go back to those days. Life was so great when we didn’t really understand the risks involved in cherished childhood activities.

Sadly, we don’t live in that time anymore, so it’s time to break the news to you: trampolines aren’t safe. They’re giant bouncy surfaces for kids with undeveloped coordination to fling themselves around on. This actually isn’t news, but it has been in the news lately because a mother put out a now-viral picture of her three-year-old in a cast after he broke his femur at a trampoline park. When she took her kid to a doctor, she was told that kids under six shouldn’t even be allowed on household trampolines, much less set loose to bounce around at a trampoline park with a ton of other people. And more to the point, she was told that all of this was already in the safety recommendations written by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Is the AAP made up exclusively of killjoys? Maybe. Then again, trampolines put kids in the hospital every year, and it’s the AAP’s job to try to prevent those injuries. Activities like swimming or biking definitely hospitalize more kids than trampolines, but since those are much more popular than trampoline-ing we don’t know whether that’s because swimming and biking are actually more dangerous or just more widespread. Either way, let’s not kid ourselves here: trampolines aren’t super safe. Are they the most dangerous childhood activity? No, of course not. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take some precautions.

Learn how to take turns

Three-quarters of all trampoline injuries happen when multiple people are on board. Bouncing alone means you’re in control of how high you’re going, and there aren’t any stray vibrations to turn your controlled flip into a flying cannonball off the side. Plus you’re not tempted into the inevitable competition to see who can go the highest. And most importantly, your kid won’t bounce their noggin off another kid’s noggin if they’re jumping solo.

Sorry, but that padding on the springs isn’t going to keep you from fracturing your collarbone. Maybe it will prevent some scrapes, just don’t expect it to keep you totally safe. A lot of the padding that comes with trampolines breaks down quickly. You’re supposed to replace it regularly, but when was the last time anyone did that? The role of every trampoline is to sit in the backyard rusting away, losing crucial joints and shedding padding until your parents pawn it off on whoever is willing to drag it away.

And the nets aren’t much better. Yes, they’ll keep you off the ground, but most trampolines injuries happen on the thing itself. You’re landing on a solid—albeit stretchy— surface with more force than a normal fall, and you’re flailing around as you do it. Of course you’re going to land funny and break some bones once in awhile. And to add insult to literal injury, lots of kids see a net as more of a challenge than a safety feature.

Little kids have fragile bones

As it turns out, small children were not designed to withstand strong forces. This includes falling from any significant height, which is essentially the objective of playing on a trampoline. As such, trampolines are not ideal places for little kids.

Kids under six just shouldn’t be on trampolines, period. Let their little bones (and their sense of coordination) develop a little more before you put them up there.

Let’s be realistic, you’re all still going to jump on trampolines

Doctors tell people not to smoke and only to drink in moderation—that doesn’t mean people don’t do those things. Life involves inevitable risk, and no one is saying you shouldn’t ever bounce. They’re saying, “bounce your heart out! Just remember that this is kind of dangerous and you should treat it as a risky activity.” They’re also definitely saying not to let toddlers on there. And that if you go to a trampoline park, remember that there are zero regulations for running them, and that the 20-year-old who signed you in cannot and will not protect you from harm.

Now bounce away! Cautiously.

It More Stressed By Email Problems Than Divorce

Corporate email systems are driving IT workers crazy. Really.

A new study reveals that more than one-third of IT staffers say the loss of email is more

traumatic to them than a car accident or getting divorced. With American workers more

dependent on email than on the telephone when it comes to business communications, keeping

the corporate email system up and running is really stressing out the IT department.

The study, which was done by Veritas Software Corp., a storage software company based in

Mountain View, Calif., also shows that 68 percent of IT workers say users get irate within

as little as 30 minutes without email access. And one-fifth of IT managers say their jobs

would be on the line if the system was not back up within 24 hours.

”Saying it’s worse than divorce may be a little overdone, but it is accurate,” says Sara

Radicati, president and CEO of The Radicati Group, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based market research

and consulting firm specializing in messaging systems. ”People get very emotional over the

loss of email. They get frantic and feel disconnected. Then that pressure is put on the IT


A full 34 percent of IT staffers surveyed said a week without email would be harder to deal

with than a car accident or divorce. Despite that fear, when unplanned downtime does happen,

only 4 percent of IT managers say they can restore it in less than an hour. Fifteen percent

say it takes a full hour, and 41 percent say it takes more than an hour to restore the whole

system. The Veritas report notes that 39 percent say they don’t know how long it would take

to get their email systems up and running again.

The roll of email in the enterprise becomes more critical when business executives and IT

managers realize that it has become the most important communication tool in the office.

A wide majority of business people rely on email more than the telephone when it comes to

business communications, according to a recent study from Meta Group, Inc. The report shows

that 80 percent of the business people surveyed say email is more valuable to them than the

telephone. Meta Group, an industry analyst firm based in Stamford, Conn., also reports that

74 percent of those surveyed say being without email would present more of a hardship than

being without phone service.

That means IT workers are under a tremendous amount of pressure to keep that email flowing,

says Chris Williams, an analyst at Ferris Research, Inc., an industry analyst firm based in

San Francisco.

”When a company email system goes down, IT is under the gun to get it back as quickly as

possible,” adds Williams. ”When email goes down for a company, it is a big deal and it’s

an all-hands effort to get it restored.”

Williams also notes that workers have become tied — from both a business and an emotional

sense — to their email. Without it, they’re frantic. And when end users become frantic,

it’s not long before they share that feeling with IT.

”Look at the volumes,” says Williams. ”People spend all day with their email up and

world… Saying it’s very useful is an understatement.”

Analysts note that problematic email systems are causing undue stress in the workplace.

”Email has become far more than a communication tool, placing a huge responsibility on

organizations to ensure that email is always available,” says Mark Bregman, an executive

vice president at Veritas. ”When IT managers fail to keep the systems running, they inhibit

the ability of the entire organization to conduct business.”

A Choir Of Angels And So Much More

A Choir of Angels and So Much More CFA stages opera adaptation of epic Angels in America

Benjamin Taylor (CFA’16) portrays a man dying of AIDS in the CFA opera Angels in America. Photos by Oshin Gregorian

Tony Kushner’s rich, sprawling play Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes is nothing if not operatic, so it was perhaps inevitable that it would be adapted as an opera. Set in 1985 and staged in two parts, Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, Kushner’s Pulitzer- and Tony-winning drama became the unsparing morality play of the first, devastating decade of the AIDS epidemic. Its transcendent themes of love, death, good, and evil are played out by a cast of characters—real and imagined—spanning the contemporary American experience. The AIDS epidemic was a tragedy of epic proportions, as those who witnessed the agonizing deaths of loved ones can attest.

Kushner’s play was made into an HBO miniseries in 2003, and a year later composer Peter Eötvös and librettist Mari Mezei created an opera based on the play. Rarely staged, the opera had its American premiere in Boston in 2006 at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts. Tonight it returns to the city with a mainstage production at the Boston University Theatre, presented by the College of Fine Arts School of Music Opera Institute and School of Theatre, one of CFA’s two annual operas performed and designed by students.

Like the Angels plays, which one critic described as marrying the extravagant and the mundane, the opera dances all over the human landscape. “No one will leave unscathed,” says stage director Jim Petosa, a CFA professor of theater and School of Theatre director. He and conductor William Lumpkin, a CFA associate professor of music and Opera Institute artistic director, have interpreted Eötvös’ Angels with minimalist sets that make riveting use of light and reflective surfaces and a cast of gifted singers whose most important passages are actually spoken. For Lumpkin, the production demands an edgy, jazzy mix of musical performance combined with electronically generated sounds, including bells and sirens. The angels chorus “smacks you in the face with sound,” says Arielle Basile (CFA’15), who sings the part of the Angel. “It’s otherworldly.”

The opera, being performed with alternating casts, combines and condenses Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, which together run seven hours, into two and a half hours. Like Kushner’s drama, Eötvös’ plot swirls around the visions of a young man dying of AIDS and is woven from a tapestry of characters, dead and alive, singing multiple roles, ranging from the obscure—a closeted gay Mormon, a former drag queen, and an elderly Orthodox rabbi—to the historically prominent, among them Ethel Rosenberg and Roy Cohn. And of course, those angels.

Quoting Ezra Pound—“To condense is to transcend”—Petosa admires Eötvös’ deftness at distilling Kushner’s sprawling drama into less than half the original running time. New York Times critic Bernard Holland writes of Angels the opera that “if the opportunities to ruminate have been curtailed in Mari Mezei’s libretto, the death clock of the AIDS epidemic sounds with an even more urgent tick.” And in the program notes Eötvös writes, “Hallucination and reality merge perfectly in Angels in America. It is precisely this characteristic of Kushner’s play which has inspired me most to work on this piece. In my opera version, I do not focus so much on the political aspect of the piece, but instead emphasize the passionate relationships and the dramatic suspense created by the strong writing, as well as the shapeless condition of the hallucinations.”

“It takes all of us out of our comfort zones,” says Jesse Darden (CFA’16), who sings the role of young Jewish New Yorker Louis Ironson. “This piece has us going from opera singers to singing actors.” Singing the role of Prior, the lead character dying of AIDS, tenor Ben Taylor (CFA’16) says the piece is a challenge, not only because the singers wear microphones, something their former opera roles didn’t demand, but because the music stretches the range limits of the singers. For John Allen Nelson (CFA’16), the alternate Prior, the opera is particularly challenging, because the spoken parts must be delivered rhythmically; they are, in a sense, scored. “It turns the piece on its head,” Nelson says, describing the opera as pervaded by “a sense of unease.”

“It’s such an exciting, different kind of experience,” says Petosa. “It’s got anger, it’s got radical thinking, it’s got self-loathing, and it’s viscerally human.” And although much of it is heartbreaking, Angels ends on a note of hope.

Angels in America runs tonight, February 19, Friday, February 20, and Saturday, February 21, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, February 22, at 2 p.m., at the Boston University Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave., Boston. Tickets are $20 for the general public, $15 for BU alumni, WGBH members, Huntington Theatre Company subscribers, and senior citizens; $5 for students with ID. Members of the BU community can get two free tickets with BU ID at the door on the day of performance. By public transportation, take an MBTA Green Line trolley to Hynes Auditorium or Symphony, or the Orange Line to Mass. Ave. Purchase tickets here or call 617-933-8600.

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