Friday Links

Today the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted full approval to the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine made by Moderna, which will now be known as Spikevax.The vaccine had been authorized for emergency use for more than a year and has been a mainstay of the US vaccination campaign.

The researchers found that in six out of the seven countries (Germany was the exception), the algorithm significantly favoured the amplification of tweets from politically right-leaning sources.

[p]ersonal heating sources with similar effects as hot water bottles could save a great deal of energy while maintaining and often even improving thermal comfort. For example, one study revealed that lowering the air temperature in an office from 20.5°C to 18.8°C (69°F to 66°F) and giving employees a heated chair to compensate for the discomfort leads to 35% less energy use and consistently higher scores for thermal comfort.

The NSPCC isn’t seeking franchises in other countries where the law requires charities to be more equivocal about the issue of cruelty to children. It’s not looking to be flexible about that and so perhaps change its name to something less controversial like the National Society for the Prevention of Killing Children, or even the National Society for the Prevention of Killing Too Many Children, in order to build a client base in a new territory and expand the global outreach of its collection boxes. It’s a powerful reminder of how institutions with charitable status behave when they happen actually to be charities.

Some of those with a penchant for irritating spelling call it the "smol web." It's light enough for vintage computers, and easy to create both clients and pages. It's not designed to replace the web, but as an adjunct to it. It also makes it much easier to host your own site. As the project points out, it's "heavier than gopher... lighter than the web, [and] will not replace either."

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

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

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

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

“The key is the data that I have in my possession. Data is not clean of the sins of the past.”

Earlier in the pandemic, fully virtual students were paired with teachers at their home schools who guided them through a full day of classes — from math to gym — often alongside their pre-pandemic classmates.

But this year, after the state prohibited that kind of remote learning, San Diego launched a standalone virtual academy with its own virtual teachers. Students get some live instruction and teacher check-ins, then spend the rest of the time doing work on their own.

Another change? The level of interest. Last year, 44% of students ended the year online. But so far, less than 1% have chosen the virtual academy, though the district is still working through applications.

“Our projections consistently foresee a positive future for wild cacao in Peru as the current suitable area is expected to largely remain suitable and to further expand in the future,” explain Ceccarelli and her colleagues.

The research team cautions that despite the positive findings, chocolate lovers shouldn’t celebrate too soon. Even if wild cacao does fare well in the forests of a warmer world, that does not mean that it would grow well enough under cultivation to replace domestic cocoa as a cash crop. And their model didn’t try to incorporate other possible knock-on effects of a changing climate, such as increasing pests and disease.

These concerns about credibility are overblown. Credibility is whether others think you mean what you say in a given situation. It is context-specific; because circumstances can vary widely, credibility is judged on a case-by-case basis. How a state has behaved in the past is an important component of its credibility, but it is not the only one. The Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan will affect these calculations the next time the United States commits to an extraordinarily costly venture in a place not vital to the country’s core security interests, but it is unlikely to sabotage U.S. credibility writ large.

Credibility is different from reputation, however. If credibility is whether others think your deeds will match your words, reputation is what others think of you in the first place. On this count, the consequences of the U.S. withdrawal will likely be considerably greater. The pullout has been messy and chaotic: the Taliban took control of Afghanistan more quickly than the Biden administration had publicly predicted, and members of a regional branch of the Islamic State (or ISIS) launched a deadly bomb attack at the Kabul airport as Afghan and foreign citizens attempted to evacuate the country.

Reputations are, in essence, beliefs—they exist only in the minds of others. The formation and maintenance of reputations therefore has an important psychological component, and the psychological evidence is relatively clear that observers pay attention to past actions when predicting future behavior. Experimental studies I conducted with Jonathan Renshon and Keren Yarhi-Milo on both members of the public and elite decision-makers found that when asked to assess a country’s resolve in a foreign policy crisis, observers consistently focus on behavior in previous disputes, even when presented with countervailing information about capabilities and interests. The question is not simply whether allies and adversaries will doubt U.S. resolve because Washington backed down from a 20-year stabilization effort in Afghanistan. It is whether their existing doubts will grow stronger than they would have had the United States continued fighting.

Americans are exhausted by educational disruption. That's the message of a new survey by the journal Education Next. According to their poll, support for virtually every proposed innovation has dropped since 2019 (a few items were flat). That includes both highly popular measures, such as annual testing, and more controversial policies, including charter schools. 

Prior to the 1960s and 1970s, writes Ensmenger, computer programming was thought of as a “routine and mechanical” activity, which resulted in the field becoming largely feminized. The work wasn’t particularly glamorous; “coders” were “low-status, largely invisible.” They were only supposed to implement the plans sketched out by male “planners.” Ensmenger quotes one female programmer, who recalled, “It never occurred to any of us that computer programming would eventually become something that was thought of as a men’s field.”

Google readily (and ironically) admits that such ubiquitous web tracking is out of hand and has resulted in “an erosion of trust... [where] 72% of people feel that almost all of what they do online is being tracked by advertisers, technology firms or others, and 81% say the potential risks from data collection outweigh the benefits.”

“Research has shown that up to 52 companies can theoretically observe up to 91% of the average user’s web browsing history,” a senior Chrome engineer told a recent Internet Engineering Task Force call, “and 600 companies can observe at least 50%.”

Friday Links

When it comes to Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716), I do a lot of gushing.

We have maintained that cryptocurrencies do have a fundamental value, arising principally from their ability to potentially provide greater privacy and anonymity compared to the conventional banking system. But that feature is difficult to value, which makes cryptocurrency exchange rates volatile and subject to bubbles. In addition, that very feature makes these assets desirable for the conduct of illegal activities, which is likely to invite increasing surveillance and regulation. In turn, those controls will work to reduce the value of cryptocurrencies, not only for use in illicit transactions, but for legitimate users as well.

“One of the problems we face as scholars of lying is that everybody thinks they know how lying works,” says Hartwig, who coauthored a study of nonverbal cues to lying in the Annual Review of Psychology. Such overconfidence has led to serious miscarriages of justice, as Tankleff and Deskovic know all too well. “The mistakes of lie detection are costly to society and people victimized by misjudgments,” says Hartwig. “The stakes are really high.”

We have learned since [2008] that the present generation of economists has not figured out how the economy works …

The journal’s first issue was published recently and it contains 10 button-pushing essays that supply answers to questions including whether it’s OK to commit violence in order to save animals (yes), whether criminals should be be placed in medically induced comas (maybe), and whether in the end our lives have any meaning at all (no).

“I think this is good for a lot of us math teachers because it’s forced us to rethink what assessments are supposed to accomplish,” said Matthew Rector, a math teacher and department chair at Grant Union High School in Sacramento. “In the past, most of us have thought about assessments as ranking tools—give a kid a grade and move on. Assessments should be about moving mathematical knowledge forward.”

By the 1930s, the UCI had some reasons to be skittish about technological changes to the bicycle. The authors write that it was under pressure from bike manufacturers, which were ramping up production of safety bicycles to satisfy a growing Depression-era demand for cheap transportation.

Friday Links

The idea that education acts as a Matthew Effect that disproportionately benefits those who start with most is an uncomfortable but well-understood phenomenon. Everything we do in schools either widens the advantage gap between the most privileged and least privileged students, or narrows it. This is, I think, a real dichotomy: anything that, on balance, appears net neutral is in fact acting to keep the gap a yawning chasm of inequity.

Leaving a sock on the ground is a manifestation of a concept from physics you may have heard of: entropy. Entropy is a measure of how much energy is lost in a system. If a system loses too much energy, it will disintegrate into chaos. It takes only a little bit of energy to pick up one sock. But if you don’t take care of your yard, let pipes stay clogged and never fix electrical problems, it all adds up to a chaotic home that would take a lot of energy to fix. And that chaos will leach away your time and ability to accomplish other things.

ACP President Jacqueline Fincher, MD, MACP, says the new guidance reflects several years' worth of data that suggest that shorter antibiotic courses for these infections are just as effective as longer courses, and the growing recognition that overly long prescriptions are among the factors driving unnecessary antibiotic use and promoting antibiotic resistance."These are common infections that physicians and other clinicians treat every day," Fincher told CIDRAP News. "This is the low-hanging fruit that we can go ahead and grab and do something about while we look into other things."

Experts warn we are about to enter a new period of flux as the school year ends and more teachers consider whether to leave after another year of heightened stress. That could lead to a small but meaningful uptick in teachers leaving their schools.

“If the economy accelerates with all the government spending, as I anticipate it will, outside-of-teaching opportunities are going to look pretty good, so we may well face some staffing challenges,” said Dan Goldhaber, a leading researcher on teacher quality issues at the University of Washington. But, he emphasized, such challenges likely won’t be felt across the board, but rather in subjects like special education and math and science, as well as in schools with more low-income students and more students of color.

Actual incidents of intentional smallpox infection “may have occurred more frequently than scholars have previously acknowledged.”

Friday Links

Regrettably, the jet pack would never truly take off: Rocket belts were too expensive, not fuel efficient, and had an extremely short flight duration. The military stopped funding the project, and the rocket belt became a novelty.

Briefly, the researchers found a vas deferens between men treated with phosphodiesterase five inhibitors, like Viagra, and those treated with alprostadil.

Public health experts and the CDC agree that if you are vaccinated and in the company of people who aren’t — or if you don’t know their status — you should continue the safeguards of masking and maintaining your distance.

Putting all these developments together, "it is not unreasonable that we might have the capacity to develop a human embryo from fertilization to birth entirely outside the uterus," Paul Tesar, a developmental biologist at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, told the Times. "Whether that is appropriate is a question for ethicists, regulators, and society."

Now, real Going Medieval heads know of course that there is no such thing as a chivalric code, and that chivalry in general has absolutely nothing to do with the treatment of women. Luckily, I have already written that for you, so I don’t need to do it again. What I do want to talk about is that while the idea of chivalry and knights on horses coming to the rescue of damsels in distress is made up, actually the comparison of knights to police is not actually so far off.

That is not, however, a good thing.

Friday Links

By 1941, the Russian dandelion, Taraxacum koksaghyz, supplied 30% of the USSR's rubber. During the Second World War, shortages of Havea rubber prompted other countries, including the United States, Britain and Germany, to begin cultivating dandelion rubber. Once the war was over and supplies returned to normal, these countries — including, ultimately, the Soviets — switched back to Hevea tree rubber because it was cheaper.

Giving at scale by the super-wealthy has done little to redistribute wealth from rich to poor, helping perpetuate social inequalities rather than remedying them, while paying considerable dividends to donors in the form of privilege and influence in society and politics, new research shows.

Corporal punishment in state schools in the UK was made illegal in 1986. This is the story about how it was eliminated in one Local Education Authority, Oxfordshire, before that.

My dad became CEO of Oxfordshire in 1978. He was young, and opposed corporal punishment, but knew, as he puts it, that “in a time of cuts, if I went to the politicians and asked them for money for canes they’d ask me how many I wanted, and did I want the luxury versions”. So he didn’t talk to them about corporal punishment.

“The toll of death is simply staggering — worse than I would have predicted,” said Arthur Caplan, founding head of the division of medical ethics at the New York University School of Medicine. “Covid has been nothing short of the worst failure of public policy in modern memory.”...

All other causes of death pale in comparison to the coronavirus death toll. So far, the coronavirus has killed roughly three times as many people as accidents, lung ailments, stroke or Alzheimer’s disease did in 2019. And the coronavirus has outpaced the number of deaths from diabetes, kidney disease, pneumonia and suicide by even larger multiples.

Prosecutors who want to hold police accountable should seek the bird in the hand, not the two in the bush. They should select charges in these cases so that conviction is a real possibility and, therefore, a real constraint on future police behavior. One "guilty" verdict on manslaughter will do more to reshape officers' behavioral calculus than an endless stream of "not guilty" decisions on murder.

Bottom line: Many people don’t like needles, and that could further slow vaccination efforts as winter turns to spring when supplies are expected to multiply and efforts to get the hesitant to sign up for a dose will intensify.

“Fear of needles was one of the barriers that was a significant predictor of people saying, ‘I don’t think I will get this vaccine,’” said Jeanine Guidry, an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who researches visual communication and conducted a survey of 500 people in July.

Mather had learned about inoculation more than a decade earlier, from an African man named Onesimus, whom he enslaved. When he asked if Onesimus had ever had smallpox, the man showed him a scar on his arm and explained that his community in Africa used infected material from one person to inoculate others against the disease. A few years later, Mather read a report from Turkey describing a similar procedure.

I remember last March, about three days into the shutdown when my Facebook newsfeed was filled with hilarious memes from parents who had been home teaching their children for a few days. The memes praised teachers, joked about suspending their own children, and immediately needing a vacation. As I saw these posts, I laughed along with them but thought to myself “this won’t last long”. And how right I was. People got amnesia and quick.

While all viruses find ways to evade the body’s defenses, a growing field of research suggests that the coronavirus unhinges the immune system more profoundly than previously realized.

A billionth of a century is approximately pi seconds. The diameter of the Earth is roughly half a billion inches. (Incidentally, one millionth of a century is about 52 and a half minutes. This microcentury is apparently the optimal time for a lecture: long enough to get into depth and detail; not so long that people fall asleep.)

In our view, as education researchers who specialize in science education, the learning sciences and educational assessment, we see an abundance of reasons to let states off the hook for testing this year....

Unfortunately, national experts and research findings indicate that high-stakes testing does not live up to its promise. Instead, research has shown serious negative side effects.

Friday Links

There are 365 days in a year, 366 in a leap year. But if you put 70 people into a room it’s almost certain that two of them will have the same birthday. In fact, if you put just 23 people into a room there’s at least a 50% chance that two of them will have the same birthday.

This is known as the birthday problem, or the birthday paradox. (It’s not an actual paradox, just a surprising and counterintuitive result, like the kidney stone paradox or the false positive paradox.) The math behind it is a little opaque, but one intuitive way of explaining it is that the number of potential combinations of people in these groups is large – 70 people equals 2415 different pairings – and any one of those pairings could be a matching birthday.

In fact, other studies have confirmed that people who are suspicious of climate change often remain stubbornly unmoved by firsthand experience with extreme weather. That may be for two overlapping reasons. First, there’s the myth that any kind of cold weather is incompatible with the overwhelming scientific consensus that current global warming is real and caused by people. The frigid snowstorms gripped Texas and the eastern U.S. about six years to the day after a U.S. senator brought a snowball onto the Senate floor as proof against the reality of global climate change. (Each year since then, the U.S. has suffered at least ten billion-dollar or more climate catastrophes, with a record-setting twenty-two such events in 2020.)

One of the really rampant myths that I deal with on a regular basis is about life expectancy in the medieval period. What gets trotted out, over and over, is the idea that “the average life expectancy in the medieval period was 35, so when you were 32 you were considered an old”. Friends, this is extremely not true, and this myth is also damaging to us now....

To write anyone’s life off as excess or frivolous is, quite frankly, monstrous. Medieval people would not have accepted the death of everyone over a certain age as inevitable or excusable. To say that we should now because of their average life expectancy make no sense, and is nothing short of thinly veiled eugenics. If you feel like relating to life and pandemics this way, then I am afraid you are actually treating people more brutally than they were treated half a millennium ago. Reflect on that and do better.

In 1968, a small group of Black Chicago officers—all relatively new to the department—founded the Afro-American Patrolman’s League. Unlike Black police organizations in other cities, the AAPL wasn’t primarily concerned with the officers’ own working conditions. They saw their mission as fighting racist policing from inside the department....

Not surprisingly, the police department did not take AAPL’s actions well. Its leaders were falsely accused of crimes, suspended, and given humiliating assignments. Fellow cops targeted the family of one league leader, Renault Robinson. They called the elementary school where his six- and seven-year-old boys were enrolled, threatening to murder them. The FBI also surveilled the AAPL, building a dossier of more than 500 pages by the end of 1968.

It was in this climate that Child struggled to get back into mainstream publishing. Her next major work was a collection of her columns from the National Anti-Slavery Standard, written between 1841 and 1843. The original abolitionist columns, however, were “too radical for the uncommitted public.”...

As Karcher notes, government censorship, while not unknown, has been fairly rare in America. But there has long been what she calls “censorship American style.” This is a varying mix of market forces—what the public will buy, or what gatekeepers think the public will buy—and conformist opinion about legitimate topics for discussion. Ostracized by “respectable” opinion and threatened by violent anti-abolitionists, Lydia Maria Child felt she had to censor herself to get her message out to a wider audience.

For several decades in the middle of the 20th century, nuts and its facetious cousin nerts were deemed so inappropriate that they were forbidden—along with, but not limited to, whore, SOB, damn, hell,  fanny, and slut—in the scripts of Hollywood movies.

“In popular mythology, the American West stands as a kind of ultimate free labor landscape,” continues Smith, but the reality of indentured servitude, contract labor, and debt peonage, as well as the persistence of chattel slavery, “fits uneasily within familiar narratives of western history.”

If I were asked to give a succinct description of my work (for that, believe it or not, is what writing four or five days a week is) I would say that I am an entertainer and that journalism is simply a form of mass entertainment, like Hollywood or Major League Baseball, albeit one with somewhat lower average earnings potential....

To repeat a suggestion I made on Twitter, I contend that text-based websites should not exceed in size the major works of Russian literature.

This is a generous yardstick. I could have picked French literature, full of slim little books, but I intentionally went with Russian novels and their reputation for ponderousness.

“Today’s interim report from the UNFCCC is a red alert for our planet. It shows governments are nowhere close to the level of ambition needed to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement”, Secretary-General António Guterres said on the report’s findings. 

My home computer in 1998 had a 56K modem connected to our telephone line; we were allowed a maximum of thirty minutes of computer usage a day, because my parents — quite reasonably — did not want to have their telephone shut off for an evening at a time. I remember webpages loading slowly: ten to twenty seconds for a basic news article....

So, with an internet connection faster than I could have thought possible in the late 1990s, what’s the score now? A story at the Hill took over nine seconds to load; at Politico, seventeen seconds; at CNN, over thirty seconds. This is the bullshit web....

An honest web is one in which the overwhelming majority of the code and assets downloaded to a user’s computer are used in a page’s visual presentation, with nearly all the remainder used to define the semantic structure and associated metadata on the page. Bullshit — in the form of CPU-sucking surveillance, unnecessarily-interruptive elements, and behaviours that nobody responsible for a website would themselves find appealing as a visitor — is unwelcome and intolerable.

Friday Links

I can’t put my finger on it, but maybe I’m just really tired of the coronavirus pandemic, which wasn’t mishandled as some people say but in fact shown to be rationally handled by a group of insulated wealthy individuals who can pursue their greedy desires with the full knowledge that a vast percentage of Americans are economically superfluous and thus willing to fight among themselves for scraps?

Public colleges and universities have long served as engines of social mobility for low-income students in the United States, yet the rising cost of higher education in the past few decades has diminished that role.

"Each speech act takes place in the context of a given social understanding."

Horrocks saw a bird and wanted to shoot it. His shotgun was loaded with the wrong kind of shot for birds, so he got his pack camel to sit down and began to change out the ammunition. As he was doing so, Harry the Camel pushed to one side. The camel’s pack snagged on the shotgun trigger. Horrocks, in the firing line, lost a finger, part of his cheek, and several teeth to the shot.

A charlatan espousing popular beliefs can lead laypeople to choose to follow her advice rather than the advice of a genuine expert. This is true even in the face of increasing negative evidence regarding the accuracy of the charlatan.

Sometimes, you learn about an idea that really sticks with you. This happened to me recently when I learnt about “legibility” — a concept which James C Scott introduces in his book Seeing like a State.

Scott uses modern forestry practices as an example of the practice of legibility. Hundreds of years ago, forests acted as many things — they were places people harvested wood, but also places where locals went foraging and hunting, as well as an ecosystem for animals and plants. According to the logic of scientific forestry practices, forests would be much more valuable if they just produced timber. To achieve this, they had to be made legible....

Peter Prater’s family wasn’t thinking about covid-19 when the call came that he had been taken to the hospital with a fever.

It was April, and the Tallahassee Developmental Center, where Prater lives, hadn’t yet had any covid diagnoses. Prater, 55, who has Down syndrome and diabetes, became the Florida center’s first known case, his family said. Within two weeks, more than half of the roughly 60 residents and a third of the staff had tested positive for the virus, according to local news reports.

Mathematics is a continuum; what used to be called pure mathematics and applied mathematics are these days so closely intertwined as to be inseparable. One cannot engage in cutting edge applications of mathematics in isolation from people working on foundational problems, and vice versa.

[Mathematics] has been considered essential in higher education for over 2000 years and is widely viewed as a pinnacle of human thought. It has never been more prominent in popular intellectual culture, especially among young people. For a university to cut itself off from this tradition would seem to us to be a significant step away from what it means to be a seat of academic learning and scholarship, and so to risk severe reputational damage.

About Me

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

Tags