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

Interestingly, hundreds of plant species in sand dunes have evolved sticky surfaces, suggesting utility in that habitat. Windblown sand coats these sticky surfaces – a phenomenon known as psammophory, which means “sand-carrying” in Greek. While a sandy coating may limit light from reaching plant surfaces, it also likely protects plants from abrasion and reflects light, reducing leaf temperature. It also defends plants from hungry predators.

Why isn’t it considered bad behavior to sit in front of a wall of screens filled with flashing numbers making bets on those numbers? Would it attract the cultural scolds if the people making those bets were drinking tall boys in brown bags, rather than sipping bespoke lattes?

Read the latest reports concerning Covid-19 and academia and it has become clear that the inequalities and representation of women have worsened. Women are submitting fewer preprints, dropping enrolments in university programmes, missing from pandemic-related scientific committees, and experiencing pressure during lockdown periods to take on traditional caregiving and domestic responsibilities. These are not simply temporary setbacks, but a call to reflect on longstanding social schemas. What this suggest is, that it is time for research that considers a wider array of variables.

“The joy of games like Hitman for me is that they’re presented with an incredibly straight face, but allow you to do incredibly silly things,” he told Polygon over email. “I’ve previously killed 553 people using only a fish in the game, so it just seemed like a natural progression for the freezer challenge.”

A website that claims to sell ad space for Covid-19 vaccinations has triggered both laughter and existential dread, with many expressing despair over the possibility that the absurd gimmick could actually be real.

There is a right way and a wrong way to do a diet study.  The wrong way is to send a survey to a few thousand people asking them to recall what they eat and linking those responses to outcomes down the road. That’s how we get studies that tell us that eggs kills you, or keep you healthy, or something. The right way is to do what the good folks at the NIH did in this study appearing in Nature Medicine – lock people in a room for 28 days and measure absolutely everything.’

To answer that requires explaining the concept of short selling, which most civilians find nearly incomprehensible. A short sale is a bet that a stock (or any other speculative asset, like bonds or gold) is going to decline in price. But to make that bet, you have to sell something you don’t already own, which is not normal behavior. To accomplish this, you have to borrow the stock from somebody who does own it. As with any loan, you have to pay interest on the borrowed asset. And you also have to keep some collateral on deposit with your broker as an assurance you’re good for the money. The hope is that the price will fall, and you can buy the shares — cover the short, in the jargon — at a lower price. Your profit would be the difference between the original sale price and the closing purchase price, minus any interest paid on the borrowed asset.

But what if you’re wrong, and the price rises? Then you’re in trouble. When you buy a stock, your risk is that you could lose the entire purchase price — but no more. With short selling, if you’re wrong, there’s no predetermined limit to how much you can lose if the price keeps rising. And if the price keeps rising, your broker will demand more collateral in the form of real money. You have a choice between giving up — covering the short and taking the loss — or keep pouring more collateral into a losing position in the hope that things will finally turn your way.

But the researchers wanted to know whether there was a reason for the cats to go wild, beyond pure pleasure. That is when one of the scientists heard about the insect-repelling properties of nepetalactone, which about 2 decades ago was shown to be as good as the famed mosquito-stopper DEET. The researchers hypothesized that when felines in the wild rub on catnip or silver vine, they’re essentially applying an insect repellant.

If you were an adherent of the ceiling view, you might reasonably say, look, even if the effect of income on happiness is linear in the log of income, that’s basically the same as saying it’s not linear in income, and that above some threshold or ceiling you’d need to increase your income by a lot in order to see any substantial increase in happiness.

So you can see why an advocate of the threshold or ceiling view of income satisfaction might be unconvinced that the log-linearity of happiness in income is much to be concerned about. Sure, it’s still growing, but after the initial steep increase in happiness that comes with getting some money, across most of the range of achievable incomes the increase is negligible.

Enslavement in the northern states is often glossed with a statement about how the practice was ended in such and such a year. The reality is more complicated. Emancipation was piecemeal, gradual, and, when it came to visitors from other states and even nations, often ambiguous.

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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