America’s Vaccine Rollout Is Already a Disaster
Vaccines should bring the end of the pandemic, but we’re bungling their distribution just as badly as the rest of our coronavirus response.
I don't even... we are letting the vaccine doses expire due to incompetence?!
"Presumably, the American pace will accelerate somewhat even before then. But on the current pace, by that point about 6 million Americans — perhaps 10 million — would have been vaccinated. And, depending on local bureaucracy and storage capacity, perhaps many million doses will be set to expire."Posted on 2020-12-31T18:24:55+0000
Opinion: Timnit Gebru’s Exit From Google Exposes a Crisis in AI
The situation has made clear that the field needs to change. Here’s where to start, according to a current and a former Googler.
“This crisis makes clear that the current AI research ecosystem—constrained as it is by corporate influence and dominated by a privileged set of researchers—is not capable of asking and answering the questions most important to those who bear the harms of AI systems. Public-minded research and knowledge creation isn’t just important for its own sake, it provides essential information for those developing robust strategies for the democratic oversight and governance of AI, and for social movements that can push back on harmful tech and those who wield it. Supporting and protecting organized tech workers, expanding the field that examines AI, and nurturing well-resourced and inclusive research environments outside the shadow of corporate influence are essential steps in providing the space to address these urgent concerns.”Posted on 2020-12-31T17:17:12+0000
Riding the Indie Business Rollercoaster
My 2020 year in review
Interesting read on one person’s perspective trying to make it as a solo dev. Gotta respect the hustle.
“The other big decision I’ve made about 2021 is that it’s time to flip the narrative of what I’ve been doing.
For the last four years I’ve thought of myself as a professional developer/freelancer who also played around on the internet trying to make money from side-hustles.
But barring an unexpected turn of events—I expect 2021 to be the first year I make the majority of my income from my own businesses. A change I hope just might hold for the rest of my life.
In other words, the side hustles have become the main hustle. I’m no longer a side-project entrepreneur. I’m a mother-fucking real entrepreneur.”Posted on 2020-12-30T22:30:51+0000
Girlfriend warned Nashville police Anthony Warner was building bomb a year ago, report shows
Nashville police got a report 16 months before a bomb exploded in the city on Christmas that a man named in the blast was building a device in his RV.
“On Aug. 21, 2019, the girlfriend told Nashville police that Warner "was building bombs in the RV trailer at his residence," the MNPD report states.”Posted on 2020-12-30T05:55:09+0000
The Very Real, Totally Bizarre Bucatini Shortage of 2020
What the hole is going on?
Big Pasta strikes again.
“Ultimately, I had more questions than I did answers. I did not, for example, understand who from Big Pasta had targeted De Cecco and why. I was also slightly worried that I had inadvertently made myself a target of Big Pasta. And more importantly, I did not know if I would get to taste De Cecco’s brilliant, sentient noodle ever again. At time of press, I am still waiting for the fruits of my FOIA request, as well as for literally anyone from De Cecco to reply to me. De Cecco, if you’re reading this: Please contact me immediately, then also put 2.1 milligrams of iron into your freaking bucatini and help rescue us from this national nightmare.”Posted on 2020-12-29T19:23:44+0000
A Racial Slur, a Viral Video, and a Reckoning
A white high school student withdrew from her chosen college after a three-second video caused an uproar online. The classmate who shared it publicly has no regrets.
“But the story behind the backlash also reveals a more complex portrait of behavior that for generations had gone unchecked in schools in one of the nation’s wealthiest counties, where Black students said they had long been subjected to ridicule. “Go pick cotton,” some said they were told in class by white students.
“It was just always very uncomfortable being Black in the classroom,” said Muna Barry, a Black student who graduated with Ms. Groves and Mr. Galligan. Once during Black History Month, she recalled, gym teachers at her elementary school organized an “Underground Railroad” game, where students were told to run through an obstacle course in the dark. They had to begin again if they made noise.
The use of the slur by a Heritage High School student was not shocking, many said. The surprise, instead, was that Ms. Groves was being punished for behavior that had long been tolerated.”Posted on 2020-12-29T05:15:42+0000
The 30-Year Mortgage is an Intrinsically Toxic Product
The crash didn’t pop the bubble
Pretty good read on the financial system in the US, mortgages, and how it all came to be.
"Attention conservation notice. This jeremiad is all about financial policy, which I know is not a topic all of my readers are interested in. This piece is only relevant to you if you own a home in the US (because mortgage rates matter) if you rent in the US (because market rents are set in comparison to the cost of owning), or if you save and/or borrow money anywhere in the world (because of the US mortgage system’s effect on long-term interest rates. Readers who live in monasteries, survivalist compounds, or the Sentinel Islands can safely skip this one."Posted on 2020-12-29T02:18:35+0000
Aiming for correctness with types - fasterthanli.me
The Nature weekly journal of science was first published in 1869. And after one and a half century, it has finally completed one cycle of carcinization , by publishing an art...
Continuing the Rust hype train, this was a good example of how to model correct code by construction - utilizing the type system.
"But also, restructuring your program so that state is neatly separated, so you don't get into heated discussion with the borrow checker. Fields will start being grouped by "mutation affinity" rather than by "theme", as you may have done in other languages previously. You'll end up naming quite a few structs State.
It really is a wonderful journey, and even if you still have to write other languages for your day job, the experience you'll acquire learning Rust is applicable in other languages too - even C++!"Posted on 2020-12-29T02:04:23+0000
Abstracting away correctness - fasterthanli.me
I've been banging the same drum for years: APIs must be carefully designed. This statement doesn't resonate the same way with everyone. In order to really understand what I mean...
This was a very long read, but oh so worth it - capturing a lot of thoughts I've had over the last couple of years when designing new APIs to ensure they are ergonomic and hard to get wrong.
(also inb4 Rust fanboy-ism - the type system definitely does make it easier to enforce these patterns)
"But there is a silver lining - once you have experienced "good design", it's really hard to go back to the other kind. Even after acknowledging that "good design" inevitably comes at a cost, whether it's cognitive load, compile times, making hiring more challenging, etc."Posted on 2020-12-29T02:01:16+0000
🤓 Build your own (insert technology here). Contribute to danistefanovic/build-your-own-x development by creating an account on GitHub.
[Report] Skin in the Game, By Avi Asher-Schapiro | Harper's Magazine
Wall Street’s answer to the student-debt crisis
So much rage all through reading this article, sadly.
“Simien has watched the ISA market grow with bafflement and anger. “All this buzz is so weird,” he told me. “It’s gonna come out how much they are screwing people.” Looking back, Simien recognizes that he should have been more skeptical. He had thought the ISA would allow him to do what many of his new, wealthier San Francisco neighbors had done: go to school without assuming crippling debt. His disappointment in how things turned out has become more acute in recent months. He’s been unable to work during the lockdown—a problem San Francisco’s remote-working software engineers have largely avoided. When we last spoke, he sounded especially despondent. “In this city, people are deaf to what’s going on in other people’s lives,” he said. “If you have just a little bit of something, there’s always going to be someone ready to take it away from you.”Posted on 2020-12-27T18:25:43+0000
Debugging an evil Go runtime bug
I’m a big fan of Prometheus and Grafana. As a former SRE at Google I’ve learned to appreciate good monitoring, and this combination has been a winner for me over the past year. I’m using them for monitoring my personal servers (both black-box and white-box monitoring), for the Euskal Encounter...
Pretty intense debugging story - I like it because it exposed me to a bunch of concepts while being a good reminder to not take anything for granted and continue debugging until you really know what’s going on.
The conclusion was also quite satisfying.
“Unsurprisingly, upstream’s first guess was that it was a hardware issue. This isn’t unreasonable: after all, I’m only hitting the problem on one specific machine. All my other machines are happily running node_exporter. While I had no other evidence of hardware-linked instability on this host, I also had no other explanation as to what was so particular about this machine that would make node_exporter crash. “Posted on 2020-12-27T06:05:24+0000
Reverse Engineering the source code of the BioNTech/Pfizer SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine - Articles
ελληνικά / Deutsch / Português Welcome! In this post, we’ll be taking a character-by-character look at the source code of the BioNTech/Pfizer SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine. I want to thank the large cast of people who spent time previewing this article for legibility and correctness. All mistak...
The coronavirus vaccine, explained using analogies to computer security and programming. Very well written and worth a read.
“We are now reaping the benefits of fundamental scientific research performed in the past. The discoverers of this Ψ technique had to fight to get their work funded and then accepted. We should all be very grateful, and I am sure the Nobel prizes will arrive in due course.”Posted on 2020-12-27T05:15:08+0000
She Noticed $200 Million Missing, Then She Was Fired
Alice Stebbins was hired to fix the finances of California’s powerful utility regulator. She was fired after finding $200 million for the state’s deaf, blind and poor residents was missing.
This seems to be a pretty messed up case of government incompetence with some (implicit) corruption. Sigh.
"They said the agency chief misled the public by asserting that as much as $200 million was missing from accounts intended to fund programs for the state’s blind, deaf and poor. At a hearing in August, Commission President Marybel Batjer said that Stebbins had discredited the CPUC."
"But an investigation by the Bay City News Foundation and ProPublica has found that Stebbins was right about the missing money."Posted on 2020-12-27T04:09:26+0000
How mRNA went from a scientific backwater to a pandemic crusher
For decades, Katalin Karikó's work into mRNA therapeutics was overlooked by her colleagues. Now it's at the heart of the two leading coronavirus vaccines
“Karikó has been at the helm of BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine development. In 2013, she accepted an offer to become Senior Vice President at BioNTech after UPenn refused to reinstate her to the faculty position she had been demoted from in 1995. “They told me that they’d had a meeting and concluded that I was not of faculty quality,” she said. ”When I told them I was leaving, they laughed at me and said, ‘BioNTech doesn’t even have a website.’”
Now, BioNTech is a household name, following reports last month that the mRNA Covid-19 vaccine it has co-developed with Pfizer works with more than 95 per cent efficacy. Along with Moderna, it is set to supply billions of doses around the globe by the end of 2021.”Posted on 2020-12-27T02:14:06+0000
Alki, or how we learned to stop worrying and love cold metadata
In this post, we introduce Alki, a new cost efficient petabyte-scale metadata store designed for storing cold, or infrequently accessed, metadata. We’ll discuss the motivations behind building it, its architecture, and various aspects of how we were able to rapidly prototype and then productionize...
Interesting technical read.
“Today, Alki serves roughly 350 TB worth of user data (pre-replication and not counting indexes), at about 1/6 the cost of Edgestore per GB per year. This was made possible by leveraging the inexpensive storage costs of cold blob storage.”Posted on 2020-12-26T23:59:13+0000
Host of 'The Daily' Clouds 'N.Y. Times' Effort To Restore Trust After 'Caliphate'
The New York Times issued a big mea culpa, and returned a Peabody award and a citation as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize after retracting the core of its hit podcast series Caliphate.
So glad I already canceled the other day. Oof.
“Privately, Barbaro repeatedly pressed at least four journalists Friday to temper their critiques of The Times and how they framed what happened. I know, because I was one of them.
So was NPR host and former Middle East correspondent Lulu Garcia-Navarro, whom he admonished to demonstrate restraint and warned was hurting the feelings of people at the newspaper.
Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple also received multiple direct messages from Barbaro, especially about his use of the word "retract" on Twitter to describe what happened.”Posted on 2020-12-26T23:00:07+0000
How to Make Your Code Reviewer Fall in Love with You
Best practices for code review when you're the author.
Pretty sage advice here that summarizes a lot of the usual advice I give out.
"Reviews drastically improve when both participants trust each other. Your reviewer puts in more effort when they can count on you to take their feedback seriously. Viewing your reviewer as an obstacle you have to overcome limits the value they offer you."Posted on 2020-12-26T00:59:14+0000
Nashville Explosion Appears Intentional, Authorities Say
An explosion linked to a vehicle sent debris and shattered glass into the streets, and has injured three people.
This is insane
“Police responded to reports of gunshots around 5:30 a.m., and encountered what they believed was a suspicious vehicle, according to Don Aaron, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department. Officers called in a hazardous devices unit, or bomb squad, which was en route when the vehicle exploded. They had also been knocking on the doors of nearby apartments on Second Avenue to evacuate residents before the explosion.”Posted on 2020-12-25T17:52:05+0000
Chinese Producer of Netflix’s ‘The Three-Body Problem’ Is Poisoned in Suspected Murder Attempt
The chairman of China’s Yoozoo Group Lin Qi, an executive producer on Netflix’s upcoming high-profile sci-fi adaption “The Three-Body Problem,” is currently hospitalized in Shanghai after what a po…
“The chairman of China’s Yoozoo Group Lin Qi, an executive producer on Netflix’s upcoming high-profile sci-fi adaption “The Three-Body Problem,” is currently hospitalized in Shanghai after what a police report indicated Wednesday may be a deliberate poisoning carried out by a colleague involved in managing that IP.”Posted on 2020-12-25T17:46:59+0000
Google told its scientists to 'strike a positive tone' in AI research - documents
Alphabet Inc's Google this year moved to tighten control over its scientists' papers by launching a "sensitive topics" review, and in at least three cases requested authors refrain from casting its technology in a negative light, according to internal communications and...
“The Google paper for which authors were told to strike a positive tone discusses recommendation AI, which services like YouTube employ to personalize users' content feeds. A draft reviewed by Reuters included "concerns" that this technology can promote "disinformation, discriminatory or otherwise unfair results" and "insufficient diversity of content," as well as lead to "political polarization."
The final publication instead says the systems can promote "accurate information, fairness, and diversity of content." The published version, entitled "What are you optimizing for? Aligning Recommender Systems with Human Values," omitted credit to Google researchers. Reuters could not determine why.”Posted on 2020-12-23T19:04:21+0000
Reboot the Computing-Research Publication Systems
The virtualization of conferences due to COVID-19 has sharpened my conviction that the computing-research publication system is badly broken and in need of a serious reboot.
“If we have learned anything from COVID-19 it is that dealing with major societal challenges requires collective action. The U.S., with its tradition of "rugged individualism" and under meager federal leadership, is handling the pandemic quite poorly. But enabling collective action is exactly why we have established professional societies. They must lead the way.
It is a cliché that everyone wants change, but no one wants to change. Let us collectively agree to change. We deserve a publication system that meets the needs of science, of scientists, and of society.”Posted on 2020-12-22T20:19:42+0000
Astronomers Get Their Wish, and the Hubble Crisis Gets Worse
We don’t know why the universe appears to be expanding faster than it should. New ultra-precise distance measurements have only intensified the problem.
““Gaia’s [new data release] is providing us with a secure foundation,” said Madore. Although a series of papers by Madore and Freedman’s team aren’t expected for a few weeks, they noted that the new parallax data and correction formula appear to work well. When used with various methods of plotting and dissecting the measurements, data points representing Cepheids and other special stars fall neatly along straight lines, with very little of the “scatter” that would indicate random error.”Posted on 2020-12-22T01:46:21+0000
"If it Hadn't Been for the Prompt Work of the Medics": FSB Officer Inadvertently Confesses Murder Plot to Navalny - bellingcat
Bellingcat and its partners reported that Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) was implicated in the near-fatal nerve-agent poisoning of Alexey Navalny on 20 August 2020. The report identified eight clandestine operatives with medical and chemical/biological warfare expertise working under the ...
You can’t make this shit up. This guy has balls of steel.
“Bellingcat can now disclose that it and its investigative partners are in possession of a recorded conversation in which a member of the suspected FSB poison squad describes how his unit carried out, and attempted to clean up evidence of, the poisoning of Alexey Navalny. The inadvertent confession was made during a phone call with a person who the officer believed was a high-ranking security official. In fact, the FSB officer did not recognize the voice of the person to whom he was reporting details of the failed mission: Alexey Navalny himself. “Posted on 2020-12-21T20:37:37+0000
Super Covid is Here, and You Should Be Very Worried
The Next Phase Isn’t Just About Vaccines. Mutant Strains of Supercharged Covid Are Emerging, and They May Be Here to Stay
“Super Covid is something that never needed to exist. It was something that allowed to happen because, in Britain, the virus was allowed to spread. And when you let a pandemic spread, it will mutate.”
:/ scary times aheadPosted on 2020-12-19T23:05:37+0000
EXCLUSIVE: The Sacklers’ group chat of pain
The Ink reviewed the WhatsApp text thread of a family behind the opioid crisis, as they faced — and refused to face — the walls closing in
“In other words, become the solution to a problem the company was still causing.
Indeed, seemingly only once in the messages viewed by The Ink did the thought occur to a member of the family that they could solve the problem by sacrificing their own profits. “Posted on 2020-12-19T22:57:53+0000
'New York Times' Retracts Core Of Hit Podcast Series 'Caliphate' On ISIS
After an internal review, The New York Times now says it built the 2018 podcast Caliphate on a story it cannot vouch for. It says star reporter Rukmini Callimachi will no longer cover terrorism.
Damn. And I’d liked and recommended this before. Kudos for issuing a retraction and returning awards (though I am not sure if that’s too warranted - I don’t know if NYT kept denying it until this was unavoidable)”
“The Times did not remove the episodes from its site or feeds. Asked whether its actions constitute a retraction, Baquet pauses and says, "I guess for the parts that were about Chaudhry and his history and his background. Yeah, I think it is. Sure does."
Baquet also acknowledges that Murphy's review will yield additional corrections of Callimachi's past work. However, he says nothing rose to the level of the mistakes in judgment made in Caliphate.”Posted on 2020-12-19T17:46:57+0000
Google Cloud Status Dashboard
This page provides status information on the services that are part of Google Cloud Platform. Check back here to view the current status of the services listed below. If you are experiencing an issue not listed here, please contact Support. Learn more about what's posted on the dashboard in this FAQ...
So many things had to go wrong in the perfect combination here. Always fun reading engineering outage post mortems.
Note that this is the cloud outage from last week and not the gmail outage the day after (still waiting to read that one!)Posted on 2020-12-19T16:37:33+0000
Stripe’s payments APIs: the first ten years
Abstracting away the complexity of payments has driven the evolution of our APIs over the last decade. This post provides the context, inflection points, and conceptual frameworks behind our API design.
Pretty good read on what it takes to design a clean, simple, powerful API
“We locked ourselves in a conference room for three months with the goal of designing a truly unified payments API. If successful, a developer would only need to understand a few basic concepts in order to build a payments integration. Even if they hadn’t heard of the payment method, they should be able to just add a few parameters to a few specific points in their integration. To enable this, the states and guarantees of our APIs had to be extremely predictable and consistent. There shouldn’t be an array of caveats and exceptions scattered throughout our docs.”Posted on 2020-12-18T04:15:13+0000
Elderly patients 23% more likely to die if their emergency surgery takes place on the surgeon's birthday
New study finds elderly patients whose emergency surgery took place on the surgeon's birthday were 23% more likely to die within a month.
correlation != causation and all other biases not withstanding, this is pretty insane
“The 30-day mortality rate (defined as death within 30 days after surgery) for the “surgeon’s birthday” group was 6.9%. This was 23% higher than the 5.6% rate for the “other day” group.”Posted on 2020-12-17T05:24:34+0000
Texas Wedding Photographers Have Seen Some $#!+
They know what you did this summer.
This story just got more depressing by the paragraph.
“The photographer who got sick after shooting the COVID-positive groom said her experiences throughout the pandemic have left her a little depressed. She recalled one conversation from that wedding, before she left the reception. “I have children,” she told a bridesmaid, “What if my children die?” The bridesmaid responded, “I understand, but this is her wedding day.””Posted on 2020-12-17T04:23:06+0000
Life of a Netflix Partner Engineer — The case of extra 40 ms
By: John Blair, Netflix Partner Engineering
Interesting bug investigation- though I’ll admit I saw “extra 40ms” and like every hacker news commenter I immediately went “wait how does someone at Netflix not know about the Nagle algorithm delay?”Posted on 2020-12-15T05:12:28+0000
Introduction - Futures Explained in 200 Lines of Rust
This book aims to explain Futures in Rust using an example driven approach.
Bookmarking again for future reference. This was a pretty solid intro to async programming and made a few things click for me re: the rust implementations of async / awaitPosted on 2020-12-12T02:59:43+0000
Small Data, Big Implications
What we can learn from the latest indoor dining study
“If you just want the results: one person (Case B) infected two other people (case A and C) from a distance away of 6.5 meters (~21 feet) and 4.8m (~15 feet). Case B and case A overlapped for just five minutes at quite a distance away. These people were well beyond the current 6 feet / 2 meter guidelines of CDC and much further than the current 3 feet / one meter distance advocated by the WHO. And they still transmitted the virus.
That’s the quick and dirty of it. But there’s a lot more detail here, and like many stories, it is best told through a picture:”Posted on 2020-12-11T05:05:02+0000
Mathematician Solves Centuries-Old Grazing Goat Problem Exactly
Mathematicians have long pondered the reach of a grazing goat tied to a fence, only finding approximate answers until now.
This was an engaging read, though I wish they’d put the equation in the article to avoid having to find the solution on Wikipedia.
“Complex analysis has been around for centuries, but as far as Ullisch knows, he was the first to apply this approach to hungry goats.
With this strategy, he was able to transform his transcendental equation into an equivalent expression for the length of rope that would let the goat graze in half the enclosure. In other words, he finally answered the question with a precise mathematical formulation.”Posted on 2020-12-11T04:09:23+0000
Stealing to survive: More Americans are shoplifting food as aid runs out during the pandemic
Mikyung Lee for The Washington Post By Abha Bhattarai and Abha BhattaraiReporter covering the retail industryEmailBioFollowHannah DenhamHannah DenhamBusiness reporterEmailBioFollowDec. 10, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. UTCEarly in the pandemic, Joo Park noticed a worrisome shift at the market he manages near d...
“Nearly 26 million adults — or 1 in 8 Americans — reported not having enough food to eat as of mid-November, according to the latest data from the Census Bureau. That figure has climbed steadily during the pandemic, and has hit record highs since the government agency began collecting such data in 1998.”
Only one word summarizes this feeling: angerPosted on 2020-12-11T02:56:59+0000
Dianne Feinstein’s Missteps Raise a Painful Age Question Among Senate Democrats
Older lawmakers’ foibles and infirmities are coming under new scrutiny, violating an unspoken culture of complicity and coverup.
I try very hard not to be ageist but, ugh... this in general makes me think we should have term limits (regardless of age) or checks of mental well being (again regardless of age)
“ Some frustrated younger members argue that this has undermined the Democrats’ effectiveness by giving too much power to elderly and sometimes out-of-touch chairs, resulting in uncoördinated strategy and too little opportunity for members in their prime.
A glimpse of the discontent became visible last month, when Sheldon Whitehouse, of Rhode Island, who at sixty-five is considered a younger member,”Posted on 2020-12-10T05:59:20+0000
NYPD Cops Cash In on Sex Trade Arrests With Little Evidence, While Black and Brown New Yorkers Pay the Price
Some NYPD officers who police the sex trade, driven by overtime pay, go undercover to round up as many “bodies” as they can with little evidence. Almost no one they arrest is white.
This whole story is so infuriating.
“One officer, known only as Undercover 157, has developed a reputation among defense attorneys for the stories they hear about him from their clients. In multiple cases, the defendants said they never agreed to sell sex for money and thought the man with the confident smile and well-kept dreadlocks was courting them for a date.
One woman told her lawyers he had been texting her for days when she got into his car one cold, winter afternoon after he offered to drive her to the pharmacy to get asthma medication for her daughter. She said he took her to a hotel parking lot instead, near the shelter where she was staying, and offered her $100 for oral sex. She said she declined at least twice but was arrested anyway.”Posted on 2020-12-09T04:41:15+0000
Scaling Datastores at Slack with Vitess - Slack Engineering
From the very beginning of Slack, MySQL was used as the storage engine for all our data. Slack operated MySQL servers in an active-active configuration. This is the story of how we changed our data storage architecture from the active-active clusters over to Vitess — a horizontal scaling system fo...
“This success still begs the question: Was this the right choice? In Spanish, there is a saying that states: “Como anillo al dedo”. It is often used when a solution fits with great exactitude. We think that even with the benefit of hindsight, Vitess was the right solution for us. This doesn’t mean that if Vitess didn’t exist, we would have not figured out how to scale our datastores. Rather, that with our requirements, we would have landed on a solution that would be very similar to Vitess. In a way, this story is not only about how Slack scaled its datastores. It is also a story that tells the importance of collaboration in our industry. “Posted on 2020-12-08T05:11:00+0000
'Flexing their power': how America's richest zip code stays exclusive
Atherton, California – home to Silicon Valley heavyweights – isn’t technically a gated community. But its laws create walls of their own
“Some Atherton residents think their town gets unfairly judged. “You look at the statistics, and it’s easy to make a bunch of assumptions based on the statistics,” said Seabolt, of the Menlo Circus Club.
But after living in town for 25 years, Seabolt has found that a sense of community and generosity also exists here. When his neighbors’ hens got loose, he and another neighbor went door to door to find out who they belonged to. Afterwards, as a thank you, that hens’ owner and her two children baked them chocolate chip cookies. “Last summer, our neighbor’s rabbits got loose, and we were all out there with flashlights, looking for them,” he said.”Posted on 2020-12-07T06:01:49+0000
You'll Never See the Iconic Photo of the 'Afghan Girl' the Same Way Again
A photographer's plan to pay tribute to the 1985 National Geographic cover has revealed the disturbing truth about what is reflected in Sharbat Gula's eyes.
“When the photograph was first published in 1985 and the magazine circulated to millions of readers worldwide, it had only one sentence about her (besides the original caption, ‘Haunted eyes tell of an Afghan refugee’s fears’). It said her eyes were “reflecting the fear of war”.
This is false, Northrup says. The fear in her eyes is that of a student interrupted at school by a male stranger invading her space, her personal boundaries and her culture and leaving without even having learned her name.”Posted on 2020-12-07T01:06:18+0000
thought leaders and chicken sexers
From the moment I started paying attention to the tech industry, Paul Graham was there. My first job out of college was in SoMa, around the corner from the Justin.tv offices, and his essays were just floating around in the ether, impossible to ignore. His popularization of Lisp was a small part of w...
“Recently, however, his writing has taken a reactionary turn which is hard to ignore. He’s written about the need to defend “moderates” from bullies on the “extreme left”, asserted that “the truth is to the right of the median” because “the left is culturally dominant,” and justified Coinbase’s policy to ban discussion of anything deemed “political” by saying that it “will push away some talent, yes, but not very talented talent.”
I went back to the essays I had read a decade before, to see if I had missed something. It turned out that I had. There was a consistent intellectual framework underpinning all his writing, from his very first essays on Lisp and language design. In many ways, those early essays contained the clearest articulation of his framework; it just took me ten years to see it.”Posted on 2020-12-07T00:27:24+0000
It Wasn’t the First Time the NYPD Killed Someone in Crisis. For Kawaski Trawick, It Only Took 112 Seconds.
Trawick was alone in his apartment when an officer pushed open the door. He was holding a bread knife and a stick. “Why are you in my home?” he asked. He never got an answer.
“When situations do escalate and people get hurt, the NYPD resists scrutiny. Citing its internal investigations, which often drag on, the department withholds crucial details. When the investigations are finally done, rarely are there consequences for officers, commanders or the department itself.
“It’s baked into the culture of the NYPD to make excuses before you make change,” said one NYPD commander who helped craft the training.”Posted on 2020-12-06T20:59:47+0000
The U.S. Has Passed the Hospital Breaking Point
A new statistic shows that health-care workers are running out of space to treat COVID-19 patients.
“But ominous no longer fits what we’re observing in the data, because calamity is no longer imminent; it is here. The bulk of evidence now suggests that one of the worst fears of the pandemic—that hospitals would become overwhelmed, leading to needless deaths—is happening now. Americans are dying of COVID-19 who, had they gotten sick a month earlier, would have lived. This is such a searingly ugly idea that it is worth repeating: Americans are likely dying of COVID-19 now who would have survived had they gotten September’s level of medical care.”Posted on 2020-12-06T18:32:58+0000
Fixing a 3+ year old bug in NVIDIA GeForce Experience
Background A few months ago, I thought I ought to try Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. The facsimile of our planet that Asobo had created w...
Reverse engineering a binary to patch it so your computer can go to sleep properly. Hmm..
(Worth a read to understand all the tech behind it)
“But NVIDIA Share wasn't asking for raw input from the joystick.
Not directly, anyhow. NVIDIA Share is partially built upon CEF, Chromium Embedded Framework. Why be happy with only wrapping your head around esoteric desktop development when you can throw frustrating web development into the mix? The more the merrier, I say. We didn't need that RAM anyway.”Posted on 2020-12-06T18:11:18+0000
The West Gave Up On Wiping Out Covid — And That Was Its Big Mistake
The West Faces a Brutal, Bleak Covid Winter — While Normalcy is Returning in the East
Well put and quite an interesting take. This makes a good point but is a bit depressing to read.
“Contrast that attitude with almost every Western country. America’s an egregious example, and Americans blame Trump for their Covid nightmare. The fault, though, isn’t just his. It’s a larger failure of American institutions, society, the American mind — to this day, you won’t read a single media column or see a single pundit saying that Covid should be eliminated. Joe Biden won’t say it. Nobody will. And so what do you expect? The average American acts like the world’s biggest idiot, precisely because nobody is educating him or her not to be. Teaching them that the way to deal with pandemics is to wipe them out.
If I wrote a column tonight entitled: “America’s goal should be zero Covid cases,” and sent it to the NYT — it’d get swiftly rejected. You see how deep the problem goes. Nobody much is willing to face reality in America to the point that basic ideas that make other societies successful aren’t even part of society’s and the individual persons’ thought process anymore.”Posted on 2020-12-06T17:51:42+0000
InstaHide Disappointingly Wins Bell Labs Prize, 2nd Place
[What follows are my thoughts on some recent research in machine learning privacy. These are my thoughts, and do not represent those of others.]
“In the award ceramony [sic], the Bell Labs researcher presenting the award explicitly said he doesn't understand how InstaHide is secure, but, and I quote, “it works nonetheless”. No! It does not.”
Sigh...Posted on 2020-12-06T05:19:21+0000
Colombia Is Considering Legalizing Its Massive Cocaine Industry
A new bill in congress suggests the government buys up and sells cocaine.
This is an interesting proposal.
“Does Colombia have the right to do what it wants with cocaine?
This is the thing. Anti-drug policy doesn’t have the same effect for a country like the United States or a European country as it does for Colombia. We’re the producers. That means this is destroying the lives of our youth, of our soldiers and police. The economy is totally disfigured because of this business. And look at the problems of corruption. It’s brutal. Our current anti-policy is destroying Colombia.”Posted on 2020-12-04T05:09:19+0000
How to Buy Gifts That People Actually Want - Will Patrick
Every year, we buy more bad gifts than we realise and nobody tells us about it. Here's how to avoid the most common pitfalls and to use psychology to drastically improve your gift-giving game.
A useful guide since I'm terrible at buying gifts.
"Unless you are absolutely convinced that you are god's gift to... well, gift-giving, then you're probably seeing the same loss of value with your own gifts. Or, to put it another way, a lot of your gifts probably suck whether you realise it or not."Posted on 2020-12-03T05:02:01+0000
The psychology behind ‘revenge bedtime procrastination’
Many young Chinese workers prioritise leisure time over sleep after long work days – even though they know it’s unhealthy. What’s driving this behaviour?
“Heejung Chung, a labour sociologist at the University of Kent and an advocate for greater workplace flexibility, sees the practice of delaying sleep as the fault of employers. Tackling the problem would benefit workers but also help ensure a “healthy, efficient workplace”, she points out. “It’s actually a productivity measure,” she says. “You need that time to unwind. Workers need something to do other than work. It’s risky behaviour to do only one thing.””Posted on 2020-12-02T05:01:53+0000
An iOS zero-click radio proximity exploit odyssey
Posted by Ian Beer, Project Zero NOTE: This specific issue was fixed before the launch of Privacy-Preserving Contact Tracing in iOS 13.5 in...
Long, detailed and really interesting read of an end to end exploit.
“Of course, an iPhone isn't designed to allow people to build capabilities like this. So what went so wrong that it was possible? Unfortunately, it's the same old story. A fairly trivial buffer overflow programming error in C++ code in the kernel parsing untrusted data, exposed to remote attackers.
In fact, this entire exploit uses just a single memory corruption vulnerability to compromise the flagship iPhone 11 Pro device. With just this one issue I was able to defeat all the mitigations in order to remotely gain native code execution and kernel memory read and write.”Posted on 2020-12-02T04:02:48+0000
AlphaFold @ CASP13: “What just happened?”
Update: An updated version of this blogpost was published as a (peer-reviewed) Letter to the Editor at Bioinformatics, sans the “sociology” commentary. I just came back from CASP13, the…
This is from the CASP-13 results from two years ago. I wonder what the author thinks of the latest results. The indictment of academic science is damning and even scarier is the indictment of big pharma below it.
“An indictment of academic science
I don’t think we would do ourselves a service by not recognizing that what just happened presents a serious indictment of academic science. There are dozens of academic groups, with researchers likely numbering in the (low) hundreds, working on protein structure prediction. We have been working on this problem for decades, with vast expertise built up on both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific, and not insignificant computational resources when measured collectively. For DeepMind’s group of ~10 researchers, with primarily (but certainly not exclusively) ML expertise, to so thoroughly route everyone surely demonstrates the structural inefficiency of academic science. This is not Go, which had a handful of researchers working on the problem, and which had no direct applications beyond the core problem itself. Protein folding is a central problem of biochemistry, with profound implications for the biological and chemical sciences. How can a problem of such vital importance be so badly neglected?”Posted on 2020-12-01T04:41:23+0000
‘The game has changed.’ AI triumphs at solving protein structures
In milestone, software predictions finally match structures calculated from experimental data
This is two years since CASP-13 and this looks to be an even bigger breakthrough in technology. Wondering if these folks will get a Nobel for this (seems likely).
“All of the groups in this year’s competition improved, Moult says. But with AlphaFold, Lupas says, “The game has changed.” The organizers even worried DeepMind may have been cheating somehow. So Lupas set a special challenge: a membrane protein from a species of archaea, an ancient group of microbes. For 10 years, his research team tried every trick in the book to get an x-ray crystal structure of the protein. “We couldn’t solve it.”
But AlphaFold had no trouble. It returned a detailed image of a three-part protein with two long helical arms in the middle. The model enabled Lupas and his colleagues to make sense of their x-ray data; within half an hour, they had fit their experimental results to AlphaFold’s predicted structure. “It’s almost perfect,” Lupas says. “They could not possibly have cheated on this. I don’t know how they do it.””Posted on 2020-12-01T04:39:23+0000