People are going to great lengths to get one of these Windows 95 ugly Christmas sweaters.

Lame is the new cool because we are nostalgic and sad. Or, maybe Windows 95 is just still that cool.

Irony is fun. References are amusing. But when do you crossover into just feeling bad that the innocent joy of life doesn’t show up like it used to?


These are the kinds of questions prompted by Microsoft’s new giveaway, which has fostered, right on cue, an online clamor of questionable wisdom. “Lucky fans” of Windows95—yes, nostalgia has come to this—were instructed on Twitter to check their DMs for one of just 100 purposefully ugly and tacky sweaters plastered with the operating system’s still-instantly-recognizable logo.

Want one? Well, you’ll have to have demonstrated (to whichever Microsoft people are making these judgments) that you’ve engaged with the mighty brand and—quote—“shared” your “authentic love for Windows.” No casual encounters here, please.

Without a doubt, this is one of those potted internet happenings that’s got a life span comparable to a fruit fly in AP Biology. On the other hand, it’s super symbolic of our weird cultural moment, defined by a wistful look back at the late-90s tech era when our little devices were a lot bigger, a lot clunkier, and a lot more endearing.

Back when flip phones weren’t a protest against the Man, and the worst grind gamers faced was feeding their Tamagotchi.

By now, young and youthful consumers are more than accustomed to normcore culture and its offshoots wending their way through our lives and our tastes.

We’ll always, for instance, have Seinfeld reruns. But there’s still a big difference between flexing those nondescript white dad shoes and having your SO gram you gazing off in a limited-run Windows-emblazoned sweater.

What is that difference? It might be hard to pin down, but that speaks to the problem. Brands have gone so hard into the online game that it’s getting too hard—and too boring—to pick apart which interventions are clever and on-trend and which are inessential or off target.

Once upon a time, it was easy to say hey, if people enjoy it, why not let them? But now, the layers of irony and reference are so deep, and the emotional signals so mixed, that the prevailing feeling is one of uncanny loss. Has it really been this long? Are we really still doing this? Is there anywhere left to go from here? And will whatever come next care about us at all?

These sad and nervous nostalgic feelings are putting the celebration of the lame, normie, and ugly into a more uncomfortable context.

Idealizing the not-too-distant past is part of being human. But kitsch can’t shelter us forever from the future we used to look forward to when we were kids. Maybe when the next trend in cool arrives, we won’t even know it happened until after it’s already gone.

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$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


Working parents have always had the challenge of juggling career and kids. But during the pandemic, that juggling act feels like a full-on, three-ring circus performance, complete with clowns and rings of fire and flying elephants.

With millions of kids doing virtual learning, our routines and home lives have taken a dramatic shift. Some parents are trying to navigate working from home at the same time, some are trying to figure out who's going to watch over their kids while they work outside the home, and some are scrambling to find a new job because theirs got eliminated due to the pandemic. In addition to the logistical challenges, parents also have to deal with the emotional ups and downs of their kids, who are also dealing with an uncertain and altered reality, while also managing their own existential dread.

It's a whole freaking lot right now, honestly.

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$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

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via msleja / TikTok

In 2019, the Washoe County School District in Reno, Nevada instituted a policy that forbids teachers from participating in "partisan political activities" during school hours. The policy states that "any signage that is displayed on District property that is, or becomes, political in nature must be removed or covered."

The new policy is based on the U.S. Supreme Court's 2018 Janus decision that limits public employees' First Amendment protections for speech while performing their official duties.

This new policy caused a bit of confusion with Jennifer Leja, a 7th and 8th-grade teacher in the district. She wondered if, as a bisexual woman, the new policy forbids her from discussing her sexuality.

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Courtesy of Tiffany Obi
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With the COVID-19 pandemic upending her community, Brooklyn-based singer Tiffany Obi turned to healing those who had lost loved ones the way she knew best — through music.

Obi quickly ran into one glaring issue as she began performing solo at memorials. Many of the venues where she performed didn't have the proper equipment for her to play a recorded song to accompany her singing. Often called on to perform the day before a service, Obi couldn't find any pianists to play with her on such short notice.

As she looked at the empty piano at a recent performance, Obi's had a revelation.

"Music just makes everything better," Obi said. "If there was an app to bring musicians together on short notice, we could bring so much joy to the people at those memorials."

Using the coding skills she gained at Pursuit — a rigorous, four-year intensive program that trains adults from underserved backgrounds and no prior experience in programming — Obi turned this market gap into the very first app she created.

She worked alongside four other Pursuit Fellows to build In Tune, an app that connects musicians in close proximity to foster opportunities for collaboration.

When she learned about and applied to Pursuit, Obi was eager to be a part of Pursuit's vision to empower their Fellows to build successful careers in tech. Pursuit's Fellows are representative of the community they want to build: 50% women, 70% Black or Latinx, 40% immigrant, 60% non-Bachelor's degree holders, and more than 50% are public assistance recipients.

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