Friday Links

Using two different free protein-predicting AI algorithms, computer scientists were almost able to model Omicron before the coronavirus variant had been physically mapped.

Deceptive review practices cheat consumers, undercut honest businesses, and pollute online commerce," Samuel Levine, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement this week. "Fashion Nova is being held accountable for these practices, and other firms should take note."

[when children "at heightened risk of severe injury or death from COVID-19" are present, holds the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.]

The persistence of the gender wage gap suggests it may have roots extending back into childhood. Using data from a US longitudinal survey, this column examines how gender differences in adult earnings correspond to various childhood behaviours. Results indicate that women (but not men) who exhibited headstrong behaviour as children incurred significant earnings penalties as adults, while men (but not women) who exhibited more dependent behaviour as children were penalised.

"The core fundamental principle of clinical ethics tells us that once a person enters the hospital as a patient, whatever got them there is no longer part of the equation," said Vardit Ravitsky, who teaches bioethics at the Université de Montreal and Harvard Medical School. "The most extreme example I have ever seen was when I lived in Israel and a suicide bomber detonated on a bus, killing and injuring civilians around him. Somehow he was not killed by the explosion and he arrived at the hospital with his victims.

Friday Links

The British government's PR campaign to destroy popular support for end-to-end encryption on messaging platforms has kicked off, under the handle "No Place To Hide", and it's as broad as any previous attack on the safety-guaranteeing technology.

Reported by us well in advance last year, the £500k campaign aims to destroy public support for end-to-end encryption (E2EE) as part of a wider strategy.

500,000 deaths are not made 500,000 times bigger than one, they are made smaller than a single death.

But more than a critique of the NYT’s front page, this is yet another realization of the limitations of data visualization, of my own craft. This is about the proverbial hammer seeing nails everywhere. What needs to be done may not be a data visualization.Perhaps a full profile of the 500,000th death. If we want to use the data, perhaps a collection of 50 profiles proportional to the distribution of deaths in the population, by age, by race, by level of income, etc. Something that reveals individuals.But not 500,000 dots.

We don’t talk too much about the fear of needles, but it honestly may be the elephant in the room here. What got me thinking about this was this study, appearing in JAMA Network Open that looks at the effects of placebo in randomized trials of vaccination. What struck me most was the startlingly high rates of adverse responses to placebos - often called the “nocebo” effect. Remember – vaccine trials occur in healthy individuals – the placebo adverse event rate should honestly be pretty low.

At the end of the 1960s, the cost of living went up a lot in Ireland. Most employers increased workers’ wages to account for this increase, but the four major Irish banks (the “Big Four”) did not. So the banking staff went on strike… and it was an enormous strike. All unionised banking staff, in all the banks in Ireland, stopped working at the start of May, 1970. They stayed on strike for more than six months.

If your official name is YATES, you can't (and presumably needn't) file a petition to change it to Yates.

The whole woke debate about whether a novelist can ever write through the point of view of someone else threatens to destroy historical fiction entirely.

The existence of good bad literature--the fact that one can be amused or excited or even moved by a book that one's intellect simply refuses to take seriously--is a reminder that art is not the same thing as cerebration.

Perhaps the supreme example of the "good bad" book is UNCLE TOM'S CABIN. It is an unintentionally ludicrous book, full of preposterous melodramatic incidents; it is also deeply moving and essentially true; it is hard to say which quality outweighs the other.

Be glamorous. “Investors are attracted to stocks that have emotional ‘glitter’” says Alok Kumar. We’re also attracted to people who glitter. We’re apt to trust good-looking ones even if they don’t deserve it – a fact Ms Holmes used on Henry Kissinger.

Of course, Johnson doesn’t have physical attraction on his side. But his schtick of raffish charm, bumbling good humour and optimism appeals to some. You’d rather go for a drink with him than Theresa May, even if you would have to buy it yourself.

Friday Links

Jared Moffat, a campaign manager for the Marijuana Policy Project, said a state’s market usually takes six to 12 months to stabilize after recreational cannabis becomes legal. One reason marijuana markets are unstable is that possessing and distributing the drug remain illegal under federal law, so moving products across state lines is not an option for dealing with a shortage. Everything that is sold in a state must be grown in that state.

More than four-in-10 U.S. residents live in a county that was struck by climate-related extreme weather last year, while more than 80% experienced a heat wave, according to a new report.

A few days ago, Mozilla Foundation invited netizens on Twitter to send in cryptocurrency donations via a new payment service provider.This move by the Firefox browser maker rapidly drew criticism, including that from Jamie Zawinski – who named the Mozilla project and was one of the original Netscape developers.

Mozilla has accepted crypto-coin donations for years, perhaps as part of its long-ongoing efforts to alienate its own users: it's only the payment provider that changed lately, it seems.

There really is research showing that there is no significant difference between various outcomes of online learning and on campus learning.

“We’ll gift each of you $10,000 in cash,” he said, looking at the camera. “You heard me right.”

They were told to expect a direct deposit the next day or pick up a check in person. Hildreth, an expert in infectious diseases who helped lead Nashville’s pandemic response, explained that this gift with no strings attached was money from the CARES Act, a major covid-19 relief law passed by Congress in 2020. He asked only that they be “good stewards” of the windfall.

Andreas Nelson fell silent, he recalled later. He went to his banking app and stared in disbelief. “$10,000 was sitting just in my bank account. It was astonishing,” he said. “I was literally lost for words.”

The Chicago native is finishing a master’s degree in health and science at Meharry with hopes of entering its dental school. The average student loan debt in the program totals more than $280,000. So, undoubtedly, 10 grand won’t make much of a dent in the debt.

But the money in his pocket eases his top concern of making rent each month. Nelson said it feels as though he’s being treated like an adult, allowing him to decide what his greatest needs are in getting through school.

Since you left me, Ondine, all the things my body once did by itself, it does now only by special order. […] I have to supervise five senses, two hundred bones, a thousand muscles. A single moment of inattention, and I forget to breathe. He died, they will say, because it was a nuisance to breathe.

Almost 80% of people in the lowest income category,  report having gotten at least one shot—51% have gotten two and 22% have gotten three. This is the lowest of any income category, and the share rises as you go up the income ladder. It tops off at 95% who’ve gotten at least one shot among the $200,000+ set.

By the way, racial gaps have largely disappeared; 82% of blacks and 84% of whites have been vaccinated.

Saturday Links

The fact that Bodley could raise the status of Oxford’s library so rapidly is also indicative of the poor conditions of university libraries throughout Europe. Most universities were founded without a library. Some, like Louvain and St Andrews, had several college libraries, but lacked a central university library for almost two centuries after their foundation. The Sorbonne at Paris had no central library until 1762, 500 years after it was first established. Others, like Oxford, assembled a library in the medieval period, but saw their libraries damaged, confiscated or destroyed in the early upheavals of the Reformation.

Vocational education advocate Eugene Davenport argued in 1914 that separate vocational schools would represent a “most powerful step toward the segregation of people according to vocational lines, and from that time it is inevitable that the stratification of society will proceed by leaps and bounds.” Instead, he argued, the goal should be the “cosmopolitan high school,” in which students would spend a quarter of their time specializing in a trade and the rest learning general subjects with a diverse group of peers.

To coordinate the colossal cortex contest, the researchers turned to the Great British Intelligence Test – an online battery of tests of various cognitive domains from memory, to planning, to object manipulation. I tried it myself. It’s pretty hard, but it’s not contract law.

In this sense, “woke snowflakes” and opponents of migrants have more in common that either would like to admit. Both are trying to screen out dissonant elements in an attempt to preserve a static purified identity.

“A form of punitiveness tends to take shape in those who have not been sanctioned or who have forgotten their own crimes.”

Friday Links

The politicization of COVID is one of the main reasons for the pandemic's horrific death toll in America. Public health professionals usually blame it on former President Donald Trump and his allies. Trump deserves a good deal of the blame. But so does public health, I think.

“massive over-payment of academic publishers has enabled them to buy surveillance technology covering the entire workflow that can be used not only to be combined with our private data and sold, but also o make algorithmic (aka ‘evidence led’) employment decisions.”

Scientists assume the additional shots will offer significant protection from the new variant, though they do not know for certain how much.

Friday Links

For many there was a shared experience at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that led to a collective outcry over the newly imposed limitations on people’s lives. Yet, ironically, many amongst the disabled, chronically ill and/or neurodivergent community thrived....

People with disabilities, chronic illnesses and/or neurodivergences have had life-long experience of their realities and truths being underestimated, indeed negated with statements like “it’s in your mind” or “I’m tired, too”. They have had life-long experience of balancing external pressures of conforming with expectations against internal forces of maintaining health and wellbeing. They have had life-long experience of “socialising” virtually and remotely, which in their case is in a bid to maintain energy-levels high enough to continue to function and to avoid additional illnesses, as for some a simple cough or cold may aggravate other conditions. A snapshot of these experiences were poignantly highlighted in two twitter threads published in March 2020 and a few weeks later in April 2020....

I still hold on to that optimism and hopefulness, though perhaps more sobered. At the time of writing that conclusion it was still early days in the pandemic. I was able to see the massive improvements the technological development brought to the lives of disabled, chronically ill and/or neurodivergent academics. Twenty months on the political, economic and societal push towards “normality” and calls to “return to offices” become increasingly louder. Already, despite the fact that we are still in the pandemic, we are seeing conferences and meetings being organised as in-person events only. With presenteeism taking hold once again, I worry that the many changes for the better become unravelled and undone.

Young and old alike are affected — more than 80% to 90% of those diagnosed with the virus, according to some estimates. While most people recover in a few months, 16% take half a year or longer to do so, research has found. According to new estimates, up to 1.6 million Americans have chronic smell problems due to covid.

Most people aren’t aware of the extent to which smell can be diminished in later life. More than half of 65- to 80-year-olds have some degree of smell loss, or olfactory dysfunction, as it’s known in the scientific literature. That rises to as high as 80% for those even older. People affected often report concerns about safety, less enjoyment eating and an impaired quality of life. That rises to as high as 80% for those even older. People affected often report concerns about safety, less enjoyment eating and an impaired quality of life.

Essentially, the chickens are our early warning system. Small flocks of young chickens are housed in strategic coops spread around the area to be monitored. At regular intervals health workers test those chickens for viral antibodies. If antibodies for West Nile virus show up in the sentinel chickens, that means the virus is probably present in the wild bird population. People in the area are at risk.

The US instituted a travel ban on South Africa and seven other countries Monday. But I’d honestly be very surprised if it isn’t here already. 

The omicron variant, officially known as B.1.1.529, surfaced in November in several southern African nations. It set off alarm bells worldwide when public health officials in South Africa saw it beginning to outcompete the previous reigning variant, delta. This suggested that omicron could eventually spread widely. Indeed, omicron has since been reported on multiple continents, likely due to international travel by people unknowingly infected.

I always assumed it went with the territory of a popular art form that it’s the art’s job to grab people’s attention rather than the consumer’s job to concentrate.

In Alberta, it is illegal to make a u-turn in many circumstances, including at any intersection with traffic lights. Even so, Apple Maps will demand you make a u-turn if you deviate from the route it has selected; it is the only way it seems to know how to return you to the route. Because I am not interested in committing traffic offences, if I miss my turn, I will make three rights in a row to get around the block, and then make a left turn to get back to where I started. That is a completely sensible alternative that Maps simply will not suggest, nor does it ever seem to re-route in a way that will let me follow the current road to a different intersection.

Friday Links

There are certain things that people say that sound so true that others repeat them credulously without feeling the need to cite evidence. Two covid-era favorites: everybody’s working from home (WFH). And people have decamped en masse for the hinterlands, thanks to WFH. Neither is really true.

I wrote about the slim WFH numbers in September. In July, which was the most recent month available then, 13.2% of the employed were teleworking, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ favored term. In October, that had fallen to 11.6% (graph below). Their ranks were still dominated by highly credentialed professional and managerial workers. The miserably paid couriers who brought (and still bring) them food and other essentials were most certainly not working from home, though they easily fall out of some people’s conception of “everybody.”

Despite these surveys finding what should be obvious to anyone with an operating brain cell, that many hourly workers want more pay and/or better conditions (as in more realistic job loads and pacing), employers think the answer lies in finding more desperate prospects...

TikTok also uses shared URLs to establish personal network connections and suggest accounts users can follow. Yet another violation of users’ trust by a big social media company that will have virtually no consequences for it or the managers who decided to make this change.

This train had no tracks; it was designed to run on carpet or other flooring. It leaked a lot, hence the name. (And hence also its alternative description, the piddler.) The train had no steering mechanism, so if it hit something and fell over… well, it would spread burning methanol all over the floor.

I have made numerous inquiries to determine who has jurisdiction over adverse coverage decisions by Medicare Advantage plans, including to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. No responses!

My warning to those turning 65 is “caveat emptor.” Unfortunately, the public is not provided with the comprehensive information they need to make informed choices.

Friday Links

A surcharge is added on top of a ride fare if a passenger takes longer than two minutes to enter a vehicle after it arrives. Uber added wait time fees in some US cities in 2016 before expanding the policy across the country.

These fees, however, discriminate against people with mobility or visibility issues, federal prosecutors argue.

To David Graeber, it was a matter of plain fact that things did not have to be the way they were. Graeber was an anthropologist, which meant it was his job to study other ways of living. “I’m interested in anthropology because I’m interested in human possibilities,” he once explained. Graeber was also an anarchist, “and in a way,” he went on, “there’s always been an affinity between anthropology and anarchism, simply because anthropologists know that a society without a state is possible. There’s been plenty of them.” A better world was not assured, but it was possible — and anyway, as Graeber put it in Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology, “since one cannot know a radically better world is not possible, are we not betraying everyone by insisting on continuing to justify and reproduce the mess we have today?”

Eastern Gateway Community College spent the past few years riding a tidal wave of enrollment growth, but its rapid rise has now put the college’s accreditation at risk.

Richard Kronick, a former federal health policy researcher and a professor at the University of California-San Diego, said his analysis of newly released Medicare Advantage billing data estimates that Medicare overpaid the private health plans by more than $106 billion from 2010 through 2019 because of the way the private plans charge for sicker patients.

Kronick called the growth in Medicare Advantage costs a “systemic problem across the industry,” which CMS has failed to rein in. He said some plans saw “eye-popping” revenue gains, while others had more modest increases. Giant insurer UnitedHealthcare, which in 2019 had about 6 million Medicare Advantage members, received excess payments of some $6 billion, according to Kronick. The company had no comment.

In other words, does long-COVID occur because people survived a really bad illness? After all, studies from the before times show that 2/3rds of people who survive an ICU stay have persistent symptoms. But is COVID uniquely bad – uniquely harmful to a variety of organ systems, out of proportion to severity of illness?

In the early 20th century, millions of chickens wore rose-coloured eyeglasses so they wouldn’t turn into cannibals.

Several strategies WHO endorsed — educating people about ageism, fostering intergenerational contacts, and changing policies and laws to promote age equity — are being tried in the United States. But a greater sense of urgency is needed in light of the coronavirus pandemic’s shocking death toll, including more than 500,000 older Americans, experts suggest.

In October, a group of experts from the U.S., Canada, India, Portugal, Switzerland and the United Kingdom called for old age to be removed as one of the causes and symptoms of disease in the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases, a global resource used to standardize health data worldwide.

Aging is a normal process, and equating old age with disease “is potentially detrimental,” the experts wrote in The Lancet. Doing so could result in inadequate clinical evaluation and care and an increase in “societal marginalisation and discrimination” against older adults, they warn.

Rules such as 'cause no harm to humans' can't be set if we don't understand the kind of scenarios that an AI is going to come up with, suggest the authors of the 2021 paper. Once a computer system is working on a level above the scope of our programmers, we can no longer set limits.

Friday Links

One of the most interesting things about computers is the way they hold a mirror up to us, a mirror that reflects not nature but our conception of nature. Attempts to create artificial intelligence force us to grapple with questions about our own natural intelligence — what it is, where it comes from, what its limits are. Programs for natural language processing raise hard questions about the origins and character of natural language. And in our attempts to create virtual worlds with virtual inhabitants — the metaverse, for instance — we confront profound questions about our being: What is a world? What does it mean to be in a world? What’s the relationship of mind and body? As Michael Heim wrote in his 1991 essay “The Erotic Ontology of Cyberspace,” collected in the book Cyberspace: First Steps, “cyberspace is a metaphysical laboratory, a tool for examining our very sense of reality.”

Ken Adam, the set designer for many of the early films, paralleled Bond’s prewar traditionalism with an affinity for classical architecture. The British intelligence agency where Bond works is usually housed in a classical building. Likewise, Bond’s apartment, of which we catch a glimpse in Dr. No, is located in a Georgian-style building. The architecture that Bond inhabits resembles a kind of self-assured, institutional power, comparable to the status of the British before WWII.

Over 60% of all jobs in the U.S. typically require a high school education or less and pay accordingly. And for at least several decades, data from the New York Federal Reserve has shown what all college faculty and many parents and workers have long known: A large minority of bachelor’s degree holders are consistently underemployed, working in jobs requiring less formal education than they received. The educational attainment levels of the population, which are at historic highs, far exceed what the labor market requires. This is the real economy.

The format of this announcement is interesting. It tries desperately to strike a positive tone, with several paragraphs citing specific examples of the benefits of facial recognition and only gesturing to the potential for harm and abuse. I am glad Facebook sees so many great uses for it; I see them, too. But I wish the company were anywhere near as specific about the acknowledgements of harm. As it is presented, it looks defensive.

These presentations had the familiar vibe of an overly-ambitious video game reveal.

Facebook may be entirely invested in these efforts, but we have not yet come to terms with what the company represents today. It can parade its research projects and renderings all it wants, but the fact of the matter is that it is a company that currently makes the de facto communications infrastructure for much of the world, and frequently does a pretty poor job of it. Is this really the figurehead we want for the future of personal computing? Is this a company that we trust?

If you are like me, you may be thinking that it is sort of weird that this advertising company thinks it can create the mixed-reality future in software, hardware, and developer tools.

Let me start off by saying that MMORPGs are not typically good games....While many other kinds of games could be said to be based around "go here and kill things", the MMO needs to do it in a flatly consistent way due to the online shared world – hundreds of players running around the same sort of things – so they cannot be presented in a particularly interesting way outside of some flavour text.

Stiles argues that “the now-familiar trope of the mad scientist…traces its roots to the clinical association between genius and insanity that developed in the mid-nineteenth century.” In the early 1800s, the Romantics saw the condition as a “mystical phenomenon beyond the reach of scientific investigation.” The Victorians took a more detached and critical approach. “Rather than glorifying creative powers, Victorians pathologized genius and upheld the mediocre man as an evolutionary ideal,” Stiles writes. “All aberrations from the norm could be seen as pathological, including extreme intelligence.”

Friday Links

The inexpensive antidepressant fluvoxamine reduced the need for a long emergency department (ED) observation or a hospital stay among high-risk, symptomatic COVID-19 outpatients treated within 7 days of symptom onset as much as 30% to 65%, finds a Brazilian platform clinical trial yesterday in The Lancet Global Health.

Here are a few reasons why emailing during the weekend might be bad. First, the sender might think they are not imposing any expectations on the receiver, but that might not be how the receiver experiences it. In that case, they are infringing on the private time of their co-worker. Second, if the sender has some sort of power over the receiver (being their boss, supervisor, etc.), then this might even be more so. Third, if people regularly email during the weekend, they are effectively signaling/telling that one can’t do this job without working at least part of the weekend, and it might be problematic to convey that message to those who aspire having such a job in the future (e.g. PhDs or postdocs receiving messages from professors during the weekend), since it might put off those who want to have healthy/balanced lives to stay in that sector. Finally, perhaps an argument could be made that it is a collective protection/self-binding strategy to not send emails during the weekend in an attempt to contain the working week to Monday to Friday. But I am not sure that argument works, give that there are so many other work related things we can do and do do during the weekend.

It is terrible that four-year institutions are advocating against the passage of an inititiative that would benefit so many low-income students. 

Is it worse that our current system of higher education makes lobbying against free community college an entirely rational, perhaps even necessary act for the sake of those individual institutions.

One of the reasons I advocate for free public higher ed period – two and four-year institutions – is because of this exact scenario. It is difficult to get people to do the “right” thing when it may not be in their immediate interests.

Disability is the largest minority group in the U.S. and is a community that anyone can join at any time. Its civil rights movement coincided and collaborated with the Black Panthers, The United Farm Workers of America, and the Butterfly Brigade. Disability and diversity, experts say, go hand in hand.

“We have so many students passionate about social justice, yet when I mention disability as social justice work, it seems like a surprise sometimes,” she said. “We have to get people engaged to make sure disability is a part of their daily diversity conversations.”

Some nine schools in North Ayrshire, which is a Scottish authority that includes the Isle of Arran, were scheduled to start processing payments for school meals via facial scanning technology.

This was intended to speed up the delivery of lunches from an average of 25 seconds to five, and potentially reduce COVID-19 infections compared to card payments and fingerprint scanners.

However, campaigners told The Reg last week that using facial recognition in canteens was the wrong solution given the highly sensitive and personal nature of the data, which was to be stored on school servers.

A new article, appearing in PLOS One shows us what is, I think, an equally plausible reason some people choose not to get vaccinated. It’s not that they overestimate the risk of vaccination, they underestimate the risk of COVID. Or, as the authors put it, they feel invincible.

Friday Links

More experience and equipment are required to create a cup of Cometeer coffee than any other halfway plausible cup of coffee, literally ever. (You can tell the MIT, Apple, and Tesla scientists and Princeton-educated coffee-masters did a good job of brewing your coffee with proprietary machinery in Gloucester, Mass., flash-freezing it in liquid nitrogen, packing it in dry ice, and shipping it to your home for you to store in your freezer, because it tastes like you spent five minutes making it yourself using techniques that predate the advent of antibiotics.)

The famous legal phrase caveat emptor (“let the buyer beware”) entered common law because of a 17th century dispute over a magic bezoar stone.

There’s a lot of creepy consumerism here. Beyond the details that come out in McMillan Cottom’s description, the online tour of the house reveals stylized décor that romanticizes a simpler time when one could easily travel to distant vacation destinations with children. The kids’ room includes a climbing rope so homeowners will be well-prepared to exercise their children the next time public parks close and kids without backyards or indoor climbing equipment are again relegated to streets and sidewalks and parking lots for their outdoor recreation. These houses are clearly marketed to people who have the means (or hope for the means) to get as much of their skin out of the future pandemic game as possible.

It is hard to know who to sympathize less with: the person who claimed to be a certified psychic who could remove an ex-girlfriend curse (among the most powerful curses known to man) for just $5,100, or the person who claims he believed that person and gave her money to uncurse him. Ideally, no one would win this case. Unfortunately (unless it settles), someone probably will.

If such a high rate of resignations were occurring at a time when jobs were plentiful, it might be seen as a sign of a booming economy where workers have their pick of offers. But the same labor report showed that job openings have also declined, suggesting that something else is going on. A new Harris Poll of people with employment found that more than half of workers want to leave their jobs. Many cite uncaring employers and a lack of scheduling flexibility as reasons for wanting to quit. In other words, millions of American workers have simply had enough.

Friday Links

Nicknamed LANtenna, Guri's technique is an academic proof of concept and not a fully fledged attack that could be deployed today. Nonetheless, the research shows that poorly shielded cables have the potential to leak information which sysadmins may have believed were secure or otherwise air-gapped from the outside world.

Sometimes, it makes sense to move first and wait for laws and policies to catch up. Facial recognition is not one of those times. And, to make matters worse, policymakers have barely gotten started in many jurisdictions. We are accelerating toward catastrophe and Clearview is leading the way.

Users will be prompted with a dialog inviting them to "allow suggestions" before the feature is enabled. The dialog is an example of a dark pattern, with three options, one highlighted to encourage a reflex click, one in discouraging grey for customising settings, and sneaked in at top right, a small "Not now" link.

Firefox and the work of Mozilla is important to the web community since it is an independent browser with its own engine, unlike most others which use the Google-sponsored Chromium engine. These sponsored links sit uncomfortably with Mozilla's claim to be privacy advocates – yet like many other open-source companies, Mozilla is in the position where it cannot charge directly for its products so looks for other means of monetising them. Much of its income comes from Google, which pays to be the default search engine in Firefox.

But the truth is more complicated than that. In reality, herd immunity is really a local phenomenon. If the level of immunity in your local social group is very high, transmission rates within that group are very low. It’s not perfect, of course – we live in an interconnected world, but embracing the idea of local herd immunity may help us more appropriately figure out where life can return to normal most quickly.

Now, there is a fairly glaring limitation in this analysis – one that I was shocked to see was not addressed in the paper, which is otherwise really nicely analyzed. How do we know the non-immunized family member is really non-immunized? The authors define immunization based on vaccination or a positive PCR test for COVID, but I have to imagine that some family members may have been infected but not tested – either because they were asymptomatic or because it was obvious what they had. That prior infection could certainly protect them from future infection – so maybe what we’re seeing here is just misclassification of susceptibles.

Millions of unfilled job openings, workers quitting en masse, soaring wages (at least in some sectors)—wild time in the job market. Here are some graphs to make the point.

Facebook’s products are more than just a social network for hundreds of millions of people globally. Beyond being communication tools, the company’s platforms are e-commerce resources, storefronts, and health and emergency aids. In some regions, Facebook is the internet. Seven users from around the world described the impact of the seven-hour shortage to Rest of World, and a user from Nigeria said, “It’s painful.” 

Facebook’s reach and dominance in much of the world is largely by design. As part of its strategy for exponential growth, the company has made internet access in the Global South — through the use of Facebook products — a priority.

In 2015, the company launched Free Basics, which gave users access to Facebook products for free or reduced their cost through partnerships with telecommunications companies. The program expanded and, in 2020, went on to include Discover, which allows users to access a text-only version of Facebook.

One problem with figuring out what symptoms are seen in COVID, is that most studies look at people who test positive for COVID, and most people get tested when they have symptoms. This means certain symptoms might become an almost self-fulfilling prophecy. The only way around this is to do random, population-based screening for COVID, and that is exactly what this paper, appearing in PLOS Medicine does.

Sounds like they're really pushing for it to stay a restaurant. Encouraging.

The bidding process will score proposals based on eight categories worth 15 points each, with points awarded based on how "advantageous" the proposal is in that area. For example, under the opening "Use of Diner" category, four points or less will go toward proposals with "any private use." Publicly accessible uses not tied to a diner would be worth five to nine points, and only those proposing an actual diner or other restaurant use would land between 10 and 15 points. Another category awards five to nine points for anything within 10 miles of Salem and the highest allotment of points if the diner is "located within Salem, MA city limits.""Ideally, we'd like to have the diner remain in Salem. Ideally, we'd like it to be an operating eatery," Collucci said. "We know people really have an affinity for the diner and so many great memories."

In the 1940s, Ikeler writes, many sales clerks received extensive training to provide personalized service, sometimes in formal schools such as the New York University School of Retailing. While employees were closely monitored, they could choose how to engage customers and try to make a sale.

Friday Links

Generally, I think exhortations to people to get out of their bubble and to speak across divides are a waste of breath. But put people in different circumstances with others with whom they disagree and they will find ways to rub along and communicate, with a mix of challenge and restraint.

Zuckerberg’s letter is behind Facebook’s login wall; since I do not have an account, I cannot access it. Thankfully, the Verge has reproduced it in full for those of us who think that the public statements of the CEO of a major company should be, you know, public

On September 16, the Journal published an analysis of moderation-related documents indicating that the company prioritizes growth and user retention, and is reluctant to remove users.

One of the hardest parts of recovering from workaholism is having colleagues who still are active workaholics, constantly go above and beyond, and have very few boundaries. I don’t worry much about how my performance looks compared to theirs (though I used to), but I sometimes feel like I’m abandoning them.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been thinking about something I call slow librarianship. It was in response to the realizations I had about my workaholism and the ideas I explored around ambition, striving, productivity, self-optimization, and achievement culture on this blog two years ago. It felt like the answer to all this was to slow down, to notice and reflect, to focus more on being true to our values than innovating, to build relationships, to really listen (to our communities our colleagues, and ourselves), and to be in solidarity with others.

In American society, we still have a mind-set that we hold the power to forgive people for their poverty, as if the poor created the conditions in which they were born and live. Until we change our beliefs about the nature of poverty, we will end up in circular arguments about whether someone deserves $10,000, $50,000 or whatever in debt relief.

When biologists approach general questions about life, development and disease, they study particular organisms, such as mice, fruit flies or specific viruses.

In my new book Model Cases: On Canonical Research Objects and Sites (Chicago University Press, 2021), I argue that scholars in the social sciences and humanities also draw on some cases more than others. The selection of research objects is influenced by a range of ideological but also by mundane factors. Eurocentrism and historicist ideas about development over time, convenience, schemas in the general population and schemas particular to specific scholarly communities all sponsor some objects over others.

Friday Links

I’m worried about losing a feature of virtual learning: our ability to turn off our Zoom cameras, our power to shut down the gaze. In 2020, I was anxious about teaching a special topics course on makerspaces virtually -- a class that is centered on shared tools, hands-on building and in-person collaborations. Fast-forward to 2021, and I am trying to imagine what it would look like to turn video off in a face-to-face classroom.

Having a virtual classroom with the ability to turn off our cameras offered a generative, unusual sweet spot for learning. It’s an environment where students were not only together but also alone. It’s an environment where students were supported but also weren’t being observed by their instructor or peers -- one where we could take a collective exhale from the performative demands of the classroom with a simple click of the “stop video” button.

Since the pandemic began, about 1 in 434 rural Americans have died of covid, compared with roughly 1 in 513 urban Americans, the institute’s data shows. And though vaccines have reduced overall covid death rates since the winter peak, rural mortality rates are now more than double urban rates — and accelerating quickly.

But the truth is that Venus Cloacina was probably not the patroness of privies that Swift and his contemporaries imagined. In fact, the famous Roman sewers she patronized were probably not really sewers, at least not in the sense in which we use the term today. The Cloaca Maxima was more of a massive storm drain, used to direct rainwater out of the streets and into the Tiber, and most Roman toilets were probably cesspits, unconnected from the sewer.

In fact, the famous Roman sewers she patronized were probably not really sewers, at least not in the sense in which we use the term today. The Cloaca Maxima was more of a massive storm drain, used to direct rainwater out of the streets and into the Tiber, and most Roman toilets were probably cesspits, unconnected from the sewer.

By withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the administration of President Joe Biden sought to create a sense that the United States’ string of exhausting and counterproductive interventions in the Middle East and South Asia was coming to an end. But the truth is more sobering. For all its commitments to end “forever wars,” the administration has given no sign that it is preparing to pivot away from the use of military force to manage perceived terrorist threats. Its ongoing counterterrorism policy review appears to be focused more on refining the bureaucratic architecture around drone strikes and other forms of what the military refers to as “direct action” than on a hard look at the costs and benefits of continuing to place military force at the center of U.S. counterterrorism policy.

The problem, according to his provocative argument, is not the war’s brutality but its relative humanity. Moyn does not at all advocate a return to brutal methods or so-called total war, but he does suggest that in vilifying torture, reducing casualty counts, and otherwise focusing on how the United States conducts hostilities, lawyers and advocates have stunted public criticism and diverted energy from the peace movements that might otherwise bring it to an end.

Moyn sees precisely this dynamic at work in the war on terror, especially the years that immediately followed the 9/11 attacks. Humane’s account of this period is in many ways the emotional core of the book. There is some irony in this line of argument, in that Bush’s response to the attacks is remembered more for its brutality than for respecting humanitarian protections: the era’s totemic images remain those of shackled detainees in orange jumpsuits at the makeshift U.S. detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and of prisoners suffering vicious torture at the hands of U.S. service members at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Nevertheless, Moyn argues, the administration’s abuses need to be viewed alongside the reaction they provoked. Scholars, lawyers, and advocates rallied in protest. They flooded the courts with filings, took their cases to international bodies, and worked passionately to close legal loopholes to make sure such things never happened again.

In so doing, Moyn intimates, they may have missed the forest for the trees. Yes, they secured a combination of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, executive orders, and new statutes that reined in torture. But they did little or nothing to address the underlying conflicts in which the torture took place. Why didn’t the same lawyers who shook with fury in the face of custodial abuse harness the same energy to oppose the wars that created a pretext for it?

Herein lies my problem. If we take only the economic perspective we are guilty of capitalist realism, of failing to imagine an alternative to inequalities. But if we take only the latter perspective, we are guilty of at best wishful thinking and at worst recklessly endangering the livelihoods of the worst off.

In the same way that electricity went from a luxury enjoyed by the American élite to something just about everyone had, so, too, has fame, or at least being known by strangers, gone from a novelty to a core human experience. The Western intellectual tradition spent millennia maintaining a conceptual boundary between public and private — embedding it in law and politics, norms and etiquette, theorizing and reinscribing it.

Even with identical credentials, first-generation graduates have more trouble getting jobs than their better-coached and -connected classmates, according to new research by scholars at Michigan State University and the universities of Iowa and Minnesota.

Throughout his adventures, William Dampier jotted down meticulous observations of the natural world while his shipmates pillaged, plundered, and raided just a few miles away. Caribbean scholar John Ramsaran quotes one scholar, who imagines Dampier “writing up his journal, describing a bunch of flowers, or a rare fish, in the intervals between looting a wine-shop or sacking a village.”

In the pages of his notebook, Dampier expressed a great curiosity about the world—and a great keenness for eating basically any animal he came across. This included shark (which his men ate “very savorily”), wallaby (a “very good Meat,” similar to raccoon), flamingo, and many, many sea turtles.

Overall, about 63 percent of virtual for-profit schools were rated unacceptable by their states in the latest year for which data was available, according to a May report by the University of Colorado’s National Education Policy Center (NEPC).

About Me

Developer at Brown University Library specializing in instructional design and technology, Python-based data science, and XML-driven web development.

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