Inside Track

That New-Car Smell

That New-Car Smell

By Eric P. Harding

It’s mid-June as I write this editor’s note, and school has just let out for my two youngsters. As in, their last day was Friday, and I’m writing this on the following Wednesday … and they’re already bored. Not to fear, though—we have day camps set up for them starting as soon as next week (“Primitive Skills” camp!), and they’re earning extra money doing daunting chores around the homestead (I believe I’ve mentioned our sprawling garden; it’s fair to say that it doesn’t weed itself).

Yes, we’re settling into the rhythms of the summer—a stately pace of backyard barbecues, fireflies, and (soon) brown-bag lunches. But what I’m most looking forward to is our now-annual trip to northern Michigan.

You see, my elder son is a dramatic sort, and I’m not talking about a predilection toward tantrums regarding brussels sprouts. He’s a budding actor, and this will be the second year that he goes to Interlochen, a prestigious arts camp. I grew up in Ohio, so I’d long heard that northern Michigan was lovely in the summer, and reader, I can confirm that the rumors are true. Fine temperatures, lake breezes, no humidity—it’s extremely pleasant in late July and early August.

This year, we have a decision to make: Will we take the tried-and-true minivan that ferried us northwestward last year, or will we take the new vehicle in the fleet? You see, my beloved olive-green Nissan Cube recently gave up the ghost, prompting me to get a new set of wheels. At the urging of some of my co-workers (hi Laurie!), I selected a Subaru Outback with all the features.

This car is pretty slick. It has all the latest technology—adaptive cruise control, lane assist, collision avoidance—and it can even tell if I take my eyes off the road for more than a few seconds. (In truth, this car yells at me a lot. It seems I have developed some bad habits whilst driving here in the D.C. region.) But we’re considering it for our Michigan trip because the Outback acts as a WiFi hotspot. In the kids’ calculus, in-car internet > DVDs, it seems.

My wife had the fancy new vehicle for a number of years, now I guess it’s my turn. That’s the way of things—technological change continues apace. This issue’s features all concern themselves with technology and change, and the challenges and opportunities that come along for the ride.

In our cover feature, “An Actuary Takes On Wordle” (page 12), author Glenn Meyers sets himself to the task of “solving” Wordle, the viral-hit word game that millions of people around the world play every day. His methodology is equal parts algorithm and artistry—read on for the whole story. (Some readers may recognize this piece as the “sneak peek” feature from June on Be sure to look for these web exclusives so you stay current with all our best content.)

Our second feature this issue, “Insurance and the Metaverse” (page 18), examines the brand-new technological space of the metaverse and imagines how the traditional realm of insurance might layer atop this nascent arena. It’s a broad landscape look at a fascinating new technology—take a look.

In our final feature, “Innovation and Long-Term Care Insurance” (page 26), author Robert Eaton posits that new technology will improve the value proposition throughout the lifecycle of this product. Long-term care insurance (LTCI) is ripe for disruption; this piece suggests that new tech on the horizon could make LTCI more affordable and desirable for many Americans.

Thank you, as ever, for reading. May your summers be pleasant, the mosquitos be scant, and the roads be open before you.

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