What Happens When We Give Animals Our Diseases? | Quanta Magazine
While it’s understandable to focus on the diseases affecting humans, it’s important to study how our illnesses may affect animals.
“If we want to minimize disease, we need to better understand the organisms in our shared ecosystems. While it’s understandable that our focus is mostly on humans, that focus may ultimately prove costly both to us and to those who share our planet.”Posted on 2022-04-30T11:04:57+0000
Lies we tell ourselves to keep using Golang
In the two years since I've posted I want off Mr Golang's Wild Ride , it's made the rounds time and time again, on Reddit, on Lobste.rs, on HackerNews, and elsewhere. And every...
The author's prior article on golang issues went viral this week (to much outrage - again) so they wrote a follow up. I am not an expert in Go (haven't written much if at all) but thought this was a reasonable and enlightening take.
"We've reached the fifth stage of grief: acceptance.
Fine. It may well be that Go is not adequate for production services unless your shop is literally made up of Go experts (Tailscale) or you have infinite money to spend on engineering costs (Google).
But surely there's still a place for it."Posted on 2022-04-29T22:11:59+0000
Be careful with that thing, it's a confidential coffee maker
Just keep it under wraps.
“The only coffee available in the building came from a vending machine that accepted a large amount of money and produced in return an undrinkable brown liquid. The Microsoft employees chipped in to buy a cheap coffee maker and put it in their shared offices. But it was identified and cited as a fire hazard and security violation.”Posted on 2022-04-28T11:12:55+0000
Where Are All the Matriarchies in Fiction?
Fiction is always a work of imagination, but speculative fiction—science fiction and fantasy—is the genre where we can truly let our imaginations run wild. Fire-breathing dragons hoarding treasure,…
“But that’s dozens of novels out of thousands, hundreds of thousands, in the genre. Obviously we can imagine matriarchy, and we can write about it. So why is the number of these books so comparatively small?
The easiest reason—or excuse, depending your perspective—is that in nearly all of recorded history, men have held power. Kings run kingdoms, which are still called kingdoms even when run by queens. “Posted on 2022-04-27T15:18:14+0000
The surprising afterlife of used hotel soap
Hotel guests leave behind millions of half-used bars of soap every day. A nonprofit is on a mission to repurpose them.
“Thanks to these efforts, hotel toiletries that otherwise would’ve ended up in landfills have been given a second use case.
Seipler has seen mothers cry with joy when they’re given soap. The small, commonplace things we often take for granted, he said, can make a world of difference when reallocated.
“I know it sounds funny,” he said, “but that little bar of soap on the counter in your hotel room — that thing can literally save a life.””Posted on 2022-04-27T05:07:17+0000
… and 75% of kids. Whoa.
“The blood test data suggests 189 million Americans had covid-19 by end of February, well over double the 80 million cases shown by The Washington Post case tracker, which is based on state data of confirmed infections. Clarke said that’s because the blood tests captures asymptomatic cases and others that were never confirmed on coronavirus tests.”Posted on 2022-04-26T20:41:08+0000
In Pakistan, Rooh Afza scents memories and refreshes souls
In 1907, a herbalist in Old Delhi made a cordial to refresh his patients, inadvertently launching a scarlet empire.
Really interesting read on the origins of Rooh Afza and how it’s been developed over the years.
“Hakim Majeed could not have known on that summer day in 1907 that in 40 years, India as he knew it would cease to exist, as the subcontinent was cleaved in two and his own family was split between India and the new country of Pakistan. He could not have guessed that his work would survive the bloodshed of partition. That in the decades to come, Rooh Afza would travel far beyond the lanes of Old Delhi to 37 countries. That in the alchemy of his simple ingredients was the beginnings of a scarlet empire.”Posted on 2022-04-26T09:56:56+0000
Elegant Six-Page Proof Reveals the Emergence of Random Structure | Quanta Magazine
Two young mathematicians have astonished their colleagues with a full proof of the Kahn-Kalai conjecture — a sweeping statement about how structure emerges in random sets and graphs. or
It’s motivating to read about an open problem being solved in a week (with effectively the bulk of it being one night) by a pair of grad students.
“When the mathematicians Jeff Kahn and Gil Kalai first posed their “expectation threshold” conjecture in 2006, they didn’t believe it themselves. Their claim — a broad assertion about mathematical objects called random graphs — seemed too strong, too all-encompassing, too bold to possibly be true. It felt more like wishful thinking than a reflection of mathematical truth. Even so, no one could prove it false, and it quickly became one of the most important open problems in the field.
Now, more than 15 years later, a pair of young mathematicians at Stanford University have done what Kahn and Kalai thought borderline impossible: In a surprisingly short preprint posted online just a few weeks ago, Jinyoung Park and Huy Tuan Pham have provided a complete proof of the conjecture.”Posted on 2022-04-26T08:51:39+0000
India's first openly gay prince endured years of torturous conversion therapy. Now, he's fighting to make the practice illegal.
After coming out, Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil faced public death threats, conversion therapy, and family dishonor. Now, he's fighting for LGBTQ+ rights.
"Today, Gohil is at the forefront of the demand for a ban on the unethical practice. In that, he is not just fighting for a ban but is also battling decades of regressive mentality, ignorance, and judgment. "It's important for people like me who have a certain reputation in society to continue the advocacy. We can't just stop because the country repealed Section 377," he said, explaining that a law being passed in India doesn't always mean that people will immediately start accepting or following it.
"Now we have to fight for issues like same-sex marriage, right to inheritance, right to adoption. It's a never-ending cycle. I have to keep fighting.""Posted on 2022-04-25T22:23:30+0000
Why Success Is Often Elusive at the Highest Echelons
During recent discussions with friends, one common theme that crops up very frequently is how success has remained rather elusive to recent…
Worth pondering and thinking about. Great read as always from Cindy.
- innovation is hard without the right support structure and context
- execution is hard without being well-versed in the culture
- culture often has a steep learning curve”
Pondering the Bits That Build Space-Time and Brains | Quanta Magazine
Vijay Balasubramanian investigates whether the fabric of the universe might be built from information, and what it means that physicists can even ask such a question.
This was an inspirational read. Goes into a lot of scientific tidbits, with a sprinkling of various human interest nuggets.
“What was your first encounter with scientific reasoning?
When I was in second grade we lived in Calcutta, India, and would go shopping for vegetables on the weekend. We would pass these booksellers with stalls built into the walls of buildings. I treasured the books I was able to get my hands on. My dad made a little bookshelf out of packing crates from local shops, and I would line up my handful of books and count them. My ambition in life was to someday own 100 books.
One day I picked up a book called The How and Why Wonder Book of Famous Scientists. In particular I remember Antonie van Leeuwenhoek. He didn’t have a degree. He didn’t work in a fancy place. He was a lens grinder. But he was an intelligent and curious guy, and so he used his lenses to assemble the first microscope and discovered the entire world of microscopic life. I remember reading this and realizing that science was a thing you could do. It wasn’t received wisdom from ages past. From then on, I knew what I was going to do in life.”Posted on 2022-04-25T03:40:08+0000
Severance and the Religion of Work
As a premise, Severance’s seems simple: you can choose to go and work for the Lumon Corporation, but part of the catch is that your work…
Severance was such a good show, and very refreshingly different when compared to most recent stuff out there. It gave me lots to ponder about how we all perceive work and life.
“Severance is the extreme version of the consideration of how we derive the meaning of our lives from work, and the unhealthy attachments we form with our subordinates and managers. In the world of the severed, Lumon acts as their parents, their teachers and their government. Outside of their workmates and Mr. Milichick, the severed rarely if ever meet another person.”Posted on 2022-04-24T05:18:10+0000
Is NIMBYism On The Way Out?
California Planning & Development Report
This piece is a bit more optimistic than I am, but it was refreshing to read nonetheless.
“As for the NIMBYs themselves, whether they self-identify as such or are de facto fellow travelers, we can only hope that they think carefully about how they want to wield what little power they have left. They can, of course, keep filing lawsuits, badgering planners, and spinning conspiracy theories at Livable California meetings if they want to. (Everyone needs a hobby.) Alternatively, they could accept that the state’s tastes, needs, and demographic composition have changed. they could help ensure that cities change accordingly and for the better, by participating in consensus-building discussions that acknowledge the realities of growth, equity, sustainability, and--yes--livability. California will still need dissenting voices, varying opinions, and civic watchdogs, of course. Many NIMBY advocates could ably and usefully serve those functions without resorting to extremism or antagonism. And they can still enjoy themselves and be thankful for their windfall wealth and tax subsidies.
I could be wrong. You never know what the next lawsuit will bring or what odd alliance is going to emerge. But, just as any sensible household needs to plan for retirement, so should the NIMBY movement. It's about time.”Posted on 2022-04-24T04:29:51+0000
Canetti et al's Paradoxical Encryption Scheme - Cronokirby
- Read more: https://cronokirby.com/posts/2022/04/canettis-paradoxical-encryption-scheme/
Great read on cryptography. It takes a simple question: “do there exist cryptographic schemes which are secure under the random oracle model but are insecure when implemented with a concrete hash function?”, and answers it while explaining a bunch of the theory from the ground up.
“At this point, one question should be: can proofs in the random oracle model be trusted? I think I want to say yes to this question. Obviously, we shouldn’t take the random oracle model as a trivial assumption, and if a proof can avoid relying on it, that’s all for the better. On the other hand, there are now many proofs relying on this model, and the only major flaw I know of resulting from the use of this model is perhaps the presence of Length Extension Attacks, and other similar issues with message concatenation.
There are assumptions that we have to rely on in Cryptography, like the hardness of certain problems, and maybe the random oracle model is just one of the assumptions we’ll have to concede.”Posted on 2022-04-24T02:47:09+0000
Neurodiverse Candidates Find Niche in Remote Cybersecurity Jobs
The Covid-19 pandemic forced many employees to work from home, leveling the playing field for people with conditions such as autism, who might not fare as well in office settings.
““The pandemic helped level the playing field by creating working conditions that are the same for everyone and better controlled through the use of technology,” said Daniel Clayton, vice president of global security operations at Bitdefender Inc., a Romania-based company that makes hack prevention and response tools.
Supporting a neurodiverse workforce takes no more effort than having the empathy necessary to support all employees, Mr. Clayton said: “This is just understanding what somebody needs to be successful and then setting conditions for them to be successful.””Posted on 2022-04-23T23:45:59+0000
Singal and the Noise • Protean Magazine
Journalist Jesse Singal has made a career out of “just asking questions” about gender dysphoria in youth. His arguments have proven appealing to reactionaries eager to demonize and harm trans people, writes M.K. Anderson.
“To that end, we must hold the media—which helped create this crisis, which regularly passes over trans perspectives, which disseminates transphobic distortions—to account. Jesse Singal is both a propagator and a reflection of mounting public anxieties that have accompanied the increasing public visibility of trans people. Singal didn’t invent transphobia, and he’s far from the only transphobic contrarian in the discourse. But what the media says and does is enormously consequential. There are vicious bigots who are eager to seize upon any ideological rationale that might facilitate their campaigns of hatred. Media outlets must stop platforming ideologues who—whatever their excuse—are undermining the perspectives and concerns of trans people. Time and again, we have seen our legitimacy questioned, our identities derogated, and, in the end, our lives placed under genuine threat.”Posted on 2022-04-23T09:05:01+0000
New Proof Reveals the Hidden Structure of Common Equations | Quanta Magazine
Van der Waerden’s conjecture mystified mathematicians for 85 years. Its solution shows how polynomial roots relate to one another.
“Even if Bhargava’s techniques don’t lead straight to the next number theory breakthrough, Thorne believes the paper will have a more intangible impact. “To read this paper, I think, is to realize that these results are out there to be proved,” he said. “[Bhargava] dared to believe it was possible, and he showed the world that he was right.””Posted on 2022-04-22T23:27:56+0000
Americans Don't Really Hate Density
They hate other Americans
Pondering this today.
“White Americans want an endlessly appreciating asset and the ability to police who their neighbors are and what they do. Housing segregation, suburban sprawl, and planned communities are how they won those things, and how they protect them. Automobile dependence is mainly a necessary side effect. Housing preferences have less to do with how people want to get around than they do with the level of control white Americans want to have over who can live near them, largely for the sake of property values.”Posted on 2022-04-22T18:02:20+0000
COVID outbreak as nearly 100 prom goers test positive
Dozens of high school students in California contracted COVID-19 after attending their prom.
And the school leaders are saying they’d continue to do the same thing and don’t have regrets. Sigh.
“San Mateo High School held the party on April 9 at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, about 18 miles away. Following the event, however, 90 out of the nearly 600 students who attended tested positive for the virus.”Posted on 2022-04-22T10:11:02+0000
Sheryl Sandberg reportedly used Facebook resources to help embattled Activision CEO
Meta is reportedly investigating whether Sheryl Sandberg broke company rules in her dealings with a publication that was reporting on Activision CEO Bobby Kotick.
“According to the report, the British tabloid MailOnline was pursuing a story based on allegations made by a former girlfriend of Kotick’s, and a temporary restraining order she had received against him. But Sandberg and Kotick worked together on two separate occasions, in 2016 and in 2019, to strategize on how to “persuade the Daily Mail not to report on the restraining order.”
The report states that Facebook and Activision staff were both directly involved in the effort, and that there was concern internally at Facebook that the story would “reflect negatively on her reputation as an advocate for women.””Posted on 2022-04-21T19:38:06+0000
Prussia meets Versailles: a review of Moral Mazes
Managers rarely speak of objective criteria for achieving success because once certain crucial points in one’s career are passed, success and failure seem to have little to do with one’…
Definitely need to read this book now.
“Making decisions is dangerous, and managers will avoid it when possible, even if this costs the organization in the long run. Jackall tells an anecdote about a large, old battery at a plant. The managers did not want to be on the hook for the decision to replace it, and so problems with it were patched up. Eventually, it failed completely, and the resulting cost to replace it and to deal with costs related to EPA violations and lawsuits was over $100M in 1979 dollars. And yet, this was still rational decision-making on behalf of the managers, because it was a risk for them in the short-term to make the decision to replace the battery.”Posted on 2022-04-21T19:09:09+0000
Changing std::sort at Google’s Scale and Beyond
TL;DR; We are changing std::sort in LLVM’s libcxx. That’s a long story of what it took us to get there and all possible consequences, bugs you might encounter with examples from open so…
Great read on sorting algorithms and incrementally upgrading a massive codebase (and the adventures learnt during that process). I loved the bit on adding more safety/randomization in code in debug mode, to avoid hitting Hyrum's law - it's a pattern I've seen in the past too (and, in the context of sorting/hashtables, funnily enough!)
"Consider randomization for the APIs that can be relied on at least in testing/debug mode. Seeding the hash function differently for not relying on the order of iteration of hashtables. If the function requires to be only associative, try to accumulate results in different order, etc."Posted on 2022-04-21T00:45:51+0000
To advance equality for women, use the evidence
These are three mistakes universities make when they attempt to improve gender equity.
“A second mistake is emphasizing training for individuals, instead of overhauling systems and cultures. Again and again, I see women offered extra coaching to encourage them to take career risks, overcome ‘impostor syndrome’ and boost their skills in leadership and grant writing. But the evidence is clear: it is not women who need fixing, but entrenched systems of inequality.”Posted on 2022-04-20T07:59:07+0000
Onoda: The man who hid in the jungle for 30 years
A new film tells the strange story of Japan's controversial WW2 hero. Its themes of nationalism and fake news still resonate, writes James Balmont.
People are complex, interesting, and fascinating. And so is history.
“But the trailer for Stewart's film highlights the significant truth that is perhaps understated in other accounts of this story. The war didn't end in 1945 for Onoda; but it didn't end there for the Filipinos on Lubang, either. And the voice of the Filipino people needs to be heard, "so as to counter the image of Onoda as a hero, and to bring attention and justice for the victims and their families," she says.
Stewart encourages every person who comes across Harari's film or Herzog's book to seek out her documentary. And perhaps, with a story as complex, compelling and controversial as Onoda's, this simple conclusion is also the most logical. There are several sides to every story – the truth, however bizarre, or fantastic, or terrible we decide it to be, requires a consideration of all of them.”Posted on 2022-04-20T07:35:47+0000
The More You Know, The More You Know You Don’t Know
A Year in Review of 0-days Used In-the-Wild in 2021 Posted by Maddie Stone, Google Project Zero This is our third annual year in rev...
Great write up on 0days in 2021 from project zero.
“Unfortunately, these 2 bugs shared a singular characteristic with the Android in-the-wild 0-day seen in 2019: all 3 were previously known upstream before their exploitation in Android. While the sample size is small, it’s still quite striking to see that 100% of the known in-the-wild Android 0-days that target the kernel are bugs that actually were known about before their exploitation.”Posted on 2022-04-20T05:52:36+0000
Google’s AI-Powered ‘Inclusive Warnings’ Feature Is Very Broken
A feature rolling out this month uses algorithms to suggest edits in Google Docs, but falls into the same bias traps it’s trying to prevent.
Quote from one of the reporters on this on Twitter:
“New: Google has introduced "inclusive warnings", pop-ups in GDocs. Google said "landlord" was not inclusive; Google had no notes when we uploaded full text of an interview of former KKK leader David Duke in which he says N-word and hunting black people”Posted on 2022-04-19T19:50:24+0000
U.S. will no longer enforce mask mandate on airplanes, trains after court ruling
The Biden administration will no longer enforce a U.S. mask mandate on public transportation, after a federal judge in Florida on Monday ruled that the 14-month-old directive was unlawful, overturning a key White House effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
No words. Sigh :|
COVID is already spiking again across the US and this will make it so much worse.
“The ruling comes as COVID-19 infections rise again in the United States, with 36,251 new infections reported on average each day, and 460 daily deaths, based on a seven-day average - the highest number of reported total COVID-19 deaths in the world.”Posted on 2022-04-18T23:58:53+0000
The Expanding Job
Some problems even a wife can't fix
“Employees struggle to adequately perform work that, if someone were to look closely and objectively, are so obviously the work of more than one person. But because these are salaried jobs, generally but not always without union protections, that level of work — within the organization, but also within an industry — is just….the way things are. Workers have no choice but to hunker down and do it, because if you don’t, you’re “not a good culture fit.””Posted on 2022-04-18T23:55:17+0000
The best engineering interview question I’ve ever gotten, Part 1
It’s been a while since I was on the receiving end of a software engineering interview. But I still remember my favorite interview question. It was at MemSQL circa 2013. (They haven’t even kept their name, so I assume they’re not still relying on this specific interview question. I don’t fee...
This two part series was a good read. I’d certainly find the question enjoyable and I can see how it can provide a lot of valuable signal - beyond what you’d normally get from a leetcode style exercise.
“It’s been a while since I was on the receiving end of a software engineering interview. But I still remember my favorite interview question. It was at MemSQL circa 2013. (They haven’t even kept their name, so I assume they’re not still relying on this specific interview question. I don’t feel bad for revealing it. It’s a great story that I tell people a lot; I’ve just never blogged it before.)”Posted on 2022-04-18T03:42:29+0000
California can’t be a haven for others until it builds more housing for everyone
California leaders say they want to make the state a haven for people fleeing oppression...
““We have gotten to a point in California,” Wiener said, “where we say we want to welcome people, but then our actions are pulling up the drawbridge because ‘I don’t want a duplex in my neighborhood.’ Or ‘I don’t want more people trying to park on my street.’Or ‘I don’t want more kids in my child’s classroom.’”Posted on 2022-04-17T21:26:05+0000
Vaccines are no match for long Covid. Treating it is science's next great challenge | Danny Altmann
Failure to recognise the need for a response could be a blunder we rue for decades to come, says professor of immunology Danny Altmann
“Our thinking about Sars-CoV-2 and long Covid – and our response to it – has had to shift and readjust, virtually on a monthly basis. This is now a highly infectious, upper-respiratory virus able to reinfect repeatedly – an outcome that wasn’t expected early in the pandemic. If we renege on mitigations as each round of infection draws more of all ages into chronic disability, this may be the blunder that we rue for decades to come. Even after the original wave of lockdowns and deaths has become a distantly remembered nightmare.”Posted on 2022-04-17T17:53:10+0000
Scientists Unravel How the Tonga Volcano Caused Worldwide Tsunamis | Quanta Magazine
The Tonga eruption in January was “basically like Krakatoa 2.” This time, geophysicists could explain the tiny tsunamis that cropped up all over the planet, solving a 139-year-old mystery about Tonga’s predecessor.
“Volcanic explosions as fearsome as Krakatau’s and Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai’s are extraordinarily infrequent on human timescales. And so far, it seems as if such monstrous bellowing is incapable of causing severe wave peaks worldwide. When it comes to tsunamis caused by the atmosphere, “weather-driven meteotsunamis are still really what we’re concerned with from a public safety standpoint,” said Dusek.
Tonga’s marine manifestation wasn’t a horror show. But it did remind scientists that nature’s deployment of even the smallest quirks of physics can lead to global consequences.”Posted on 2022-04-17T08:30:39+0000
State Foster Care Agencies Take Millions Of Dollars Owed To Children In Their Care
In at least 36 states and the District of Columbia, child welfare agencies use a child's benefit checks to offset the cost of foster care, often leaving them with a tattered safety net as adults.
No words for this one. Holy crap.
“The Marshall Project and NPR have found that in at least 36 states and Washington, D.C., state foster care agencies comb through their case files to find kids entitled to these benefits, then apply to Social Security to become each child's financial representative, a process permitted by federal regulations. Once approved, the agencies take the money, almost always without notifying the children, their loved ones or lawyers.”Posted on 2022-04-16T21:47:40+0000
Teacher Job Satisfaction Hits an All-Time Low
Just 12 percent of U.S. teachers are very satisfied with their jobs, a new survey finds.
The rate of change here is really scary.
“Otherwise, teachers warn they and their colleagues won’t stay in the profession long-term.
“Our experiences are so universal, and it sounds like we’re complaining,” said Dina Ley, 39, a high school English teacher in Pennsylvania who is considering leaving at the end of the year. “We’re not complaining, we are hurting. … Teachers truly, truly love their jobs. It’s sad to see how many of us are so disillusioned with it all.””
Major Insurers Are Scamming Billions from Medicare, Whistle-Blowers Say
Billing for illnesses that don’t exist, like prostate cancer in a woman.
The scale of fraud here is impressive. Examples include billing the government for a woman with prostate cancer (because they would just bill both people in a marriage for each condition…).
“In 2017, the Justice Department intervened in a case against UnitedHealth, the largest Medicare Advantage provider. It sued Anthem in 2020. A whistleblower suit against Cigna was also unsealed that year. The companies are fighting the cases and have disputed allegations of wrongdoing. CVS Health and Humana have also both disclosed investigations into their risk adjustment practices and said they’re cooperating with the probes. UnitedHealth and CVS declined to comment for this story. Representatives for Anthem, Cigna and Humana didn’t respond to requests for comment. The Department of Justice declined to comment.”Posted on 2022-04-16T10:16:24+0000
The book that sank on the Titanic and burned in the Blitz
A jewel-encrusted book sank on RMS Titanic on 15 April 1912 - but this was not the end of the story.
“"So like with the Titanic, you think, 'What's the safest way to possibly send this book to America - surely the unsinkable ship is the safest way to send it?' And so this book kind of consciously conspires against you and the more you try, the worse the result."”Posted on 2022-04-16T10:10:38+0000
The Unravelling of an Expert on Serial Killers
Stéphane Bourgoin became famous through his jailhouse interviews with murderers. Then an anonymous collective of true-crime fans began investigating his own story.
Absolutely fascinating human interest story on a so called expert on serial killers who - depending on your perspective - made it all up, or faked it till he made it. Goes into the psychology behind such a person, serial killers, and investigations of fraud.
“A person who was once close to Bourgoin told me that he was an “excellent actor” and “extremely convincing, because, when he lies, he believes it very strongly, and so you believe it, too.” At the table, though, Bourgoin was diffident. He didn’t seem to be putting much effort into making me—or, possibly, himself—believe what he said. Or maybe he believed it so deeply that the delivery was no longer relevant. When I asked how many killers he had actually interviewed, he replied, in English, “It depends. Each time I was going to a jail, I asked to meet serial killers other than the ones I was authorized to film or interview. So sometimes at Florida State Prison I met in the courtyard during the promenade—I don’t know, two? five?—other serial killers.” He was just as evasive on other subjects.”Posted on 2022-04-16T10:00:13+0000
NYPD Was Powerless to Stop Brooklyn Shooting — Yet Mayor Calls for Doubling Cops in Subway
They might as well double the number of churro ladies, who did as much to prevent the subway attack as the cops.
“In a society more open to letting evidence guide policy and less invested — financially, culturally, psychically — in police as a civic cure-all, the reaction to Tuesday’s tragic events might have unfolded differently, with greater circumspection. Instead, New Yorkers and the country got to watch in real time, as a story about a tragedy that the police were powerless to prevent was speedily reframed as a story about the need for even more police.”Posted on 2022-04-15T05:44:24+0000
Analysis | Stop Asking Women of Color to Do Unpaid Diversity Work
Leading corporate equity and inclusion efforts is a full-time job. But new research finds that technology companies don’t see it that way.
“Let women of color do the technical work they were hired to do. Provide administrative support if they’re recruiting speakers for employee resource groups or other diversity efforts. Hire an office manager to restock office supplies, or establish a rota system. Don’t ask computer scientists to play HR.
And at a minimum, pay them for their extra work.”Posted on 2022-04-15T01:17:25+0000
Why did it take NYPD so long to find subway shooting suspect? The inconvenient answer
Within 12 hours of the shooting, Mayor and former police officer Eric Adams declared his intent to double the number of police on the subway. His announcement failed to note that he had already added 1,000 NYPD officers to the subway system during his first three months in office — bringing the to...
So glad this is being written about - the more I read about the subway shooting the more I think it’s the perfect argument for defunding the police. The NYPD gets 10 billion a year (if it was a military, it would be the 24th largest in the world) and has 3500 cops on subways. Yet:
- the cops at the station failed to stop the shooter or identify him
- They claimed they have 10k cameras all over the city in stations and the three on the station in question were the only ones broken that day
- A cop failed to follow protocol, letting the shooter get away
- radios weren’t working so a cop asked people to call 911 instead
- they only identified the shooter because he dropped his credit card and keys at the scene
- the shooter called in his location and cops failed to show up until a security camera installer found him and called him in (go Zach!)
- this location was just a block away from where the counter terrorism unit was harassing homeless people
I could go on and will edit in a few more things, but… sigh.
“And New Yorkers see this daily. We see police playing on their phones while they lounge around subway stations; we see them unmasked in our stores; and we see them parked in our bike lanes, always ignoring our requests to change their behavior. So when the Mayor says he plans to double the number of police officers in the subway, New Yorkers are right to be skeptical. We know too well how they don’t keep us safe, from mass shootings or otherwise. And we know that real answers like housing, mental health provisions, and education might actually help us build a safer, less violent world.”Posted on 2022-04-14T20:03:00+0000
US likely 'dramatically undercounting' current COVID-19 resurgence, experts say
Since last summer, dozens of states, alongside the federal agencies, have opted to scale back on regular COVID-19 data reporting.
“"I think that we're dramatically undercounting cases. We're probably only picking up one in seven or one in eight infections. So when we say there's 30,000 infections a day, it's probably closer to a quarter of a million infections a day," FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said during an appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday. "They're concentrated in the Northeast right now. And that's because a lot of people are testing at home, they're not presenting for definitive PCR tests, so they're not getting counted."”Posted on 2022-04-14T01:17:39+0000
The Scoop: Inside the Longest Atlassian Outage of All Time
Hundreds of companies have no access to JIRA, Confluence and Atlassian Cloud. What can engineering teams learn from the poor handling of this outage?
The more I read about this Atlassian outage the more disappointed I get.
Surprised their stock hasn’t tanked yet. (Disclaimer: I just put in a sell order for all my holdings, which I should have done earlier).
“What I found disappointing in this handling was the radio silence for days, coupled with how zero Atlassian executives took ownership of the incident in public. The company has two CEOs and a CTO, and none of them communicated anything externally until day 9 of the outage.
One of Atlassian’s company values is Don’t #@!% the customer. Why was this ignored? How did leadership ignore this value for 9 days and why did they do it?
What does this type of passive behavior from executives imply about the culture at the company? Why should a customer put its trust in Atlassian when its leadership doesn’t acknowledge when something goes very wrong for hundreds of its customers and tens, or hundreds of thousands of its users at those companies?”Posted on 2022-04-14T01:08:28+0000
Deep Learning Poised to ‘Blow Up’ Famed Fluid Equations | Quanta Magazine
For centuries, mathematicians have tried to prove that Euler’s fluid equations can produce nonsensical answers. A new approach to machine learning has researchers betting that “blowup” is near.
“Unlike traditional neural networks, which get trained on lots of data in order to make predictions, a “physics-informed neural network,” or PINN, must satisfy a set of underlying physical constraints as well. These might include laws of motion, energy conservation, thermodynamics — whatever scientists might need to encode for the particular problem they’re trying to solve.
Injecting physics into the neural network serves several purposes. For one, it allows the network to answer questions when very little data is available. It also enables the PINN to infer unknown parameters in the original equations. In a lot of physical problems, “we know roughly how the equations should look like, but we don’t know what the coefficients of [certain] terms should be,” said Yongji Wang, a postdoctoral researcher in Lai’s lab and one of the new paper’s co-authors. That was the case for the parameter that Lai and Cowen-Breen were trying to determine.”Posted on 2022-04-13T23:44:34+0000
Economies face ‘long COVID’ threat as data shows rates surging
Patients call for more research and support as an estimated 1.7 million people in the UK are found to have long COVID.
It’s sad that it took “the economy is suffering!” for this to be taken more seriously, but I’ll take it. Better late than never.
“Close to half of those reporting symptoms beyond four weeks have suffered for over a year. The most common symptoms are fatigue, brain fog, breathlessness and muscle pain, but there are now around 200 known symptoms affecting almost every organ in the body, according to Brendan Delaney, a GP and chair in medical informatics and decision making at Imperial College London.
What is now starting to get governments’ attention is that the majority of those suffering from long COVID are in the prime of their lives — and careers — between the ages of 35 and 49.”Posted on 2022-04-13T05:20:44+0000
Welcome Back to the Office. Isn’t This Fun?
Tech companies really want their employees to be happy — or at least less annoyed — about returning. So they’re providing concerts, food trucks and other perks.
“On Memegen, an internal company site where Google employees share memes, one of the most popular posts was a picture of a company cafeteria with a caption: “RTO is just bumping into each other and saying ‘we must grab lunch soon’ until one of you quits Google.””Posted on 2022-04-13T03:56:22+0000
How Japan Built Cities Where You Could Send Your Toddler on an Errand
The Netflix show Old Enough! offers a glimpse of an alternate reality.
“Needless to say, if the show were set in the United States, the parents would be under investigation by child protective services, and the children in foster care. Like many things about Japan, it would be easy to attribute Hajimete no otsukai (literally, “First Errand”) to some cliché about Japanese essentialism. But the Japanese are not so different from us. They’ve just made policy choices that make it possible for kids to run their first errand a decade before their American counterparts get to do the same.”Posted on 2022-04-12T20:36:14+0000
The New Thermodynamic Understanding of Clocks | Quanta Magazine
Investigations of the simplest possible clocks have revealed their fundamental limitations — as well as insights into the nature of time itself.
““What we’ve done is to show that even if time is a perfect, classical and smooth parameter governing time evolution of quantum systems,” Huber said, “we would only be able to track its passage” imperfectly, through stochastic, irreversible processes. This invites a question, he said: “Could it be that time is an illusion and smooth time is an emergent consequence of us trying to put events into a smooth order? It is certainly an intriguing possibility that is not easily dismissed.””Posted on 2022-04-11T01:03:31+0000
Water, weed and racism: why Asians feel targeted in this rural California county
An inquiry into the pattern of discrimination revealed that Asian drivers have been pulled over at disproportionate rates to the population
“The traffic stop records, which were obtained by the ACLU and the Asian Law Caucus, showed that though Asians make up just 2.6% of the population in the county, they accounted for 27.4% of all traffic stops in 2021 in which officials identified the people stopped.”Posted on 2022-04-09T22:42:03+0000
The remarkable brain of a carpet cleaner who speaks 24 languages
In a city where diplomats and embassies abound, where interpreters can command six-figure salaries, where language proficiency is résumé rocket fuel, Vaughn Smith was a savant with a secret.
Such an amazing and impressive human interest story. The best part here is that 24 is an understatement!
“He’s bouncing as he talks about all the connections he made in a single day with the researchers and the strangers he’d introduced himself to in a coffee shop. All the people who were, as he would say, “hit with a splash of happiness.” This is what I’d discovered getting to know Vaughn: By putting in the effort to learn someone’s language, you’re showing them that you value who they truly are.
I’m wondering if Vaughn will ever see that same value in himself.”Posted on 2022-04-09T02:01:49+0000
Nikole Hannah-Jones teaches Chris Wallace about white people
One of the things that infuriates me about most Hollywood versions of Black history is how they cast crotchety, old white dudes as racists.
The original video was painful to watch, and this goes into why
“Instead of employing law enforcement agents, Hoover preferred to hire military veterans with experience in surveillance and counterintelligence. After World War II, the FBI agents came exclusively from the ranks of military veterans. According to the book Enemies: A History of the FBI, these young, dogged G-men formed the spine of the greatest generation of FBI agents because they targeted “enemies” like W.E.B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall and the leader of every movement for freedom and justice for the next 50 years.
Too bad there isn’t a movie about this.”Posted on 2022-04-08T23:47:54+0000
Internet ‘algospeak’ is changing our language in real time, from ‘nip nops’ to ‘le dollar bean’
To avoid angering the almighty algorithm, creators on TikTok and other platforms are creating a new vocabulary.
“This doesn’t mean that all efforts to stamp out bad behavior, harassment, abuse and misinformation are fruitless. But Greer argues that it’s the root issues that need to be prioritized. “Aggressive moderation is never going to be a real solution to the harms that we see from big tech companies’ business practices,” she said. “That’s a task for policymakers and for building better things, better tools, better protocols and better platforms.”
Ultimately, she added, “you’ll never be able to sanitize the Internet.””Posted on 2022-04-08T22:09:35+0000
A Rust web server / frontend setup like it's 2022 (with axum and yew) - Robert Krahn
Walkthrough of setting up a full web project that includes the setup for a web server (using axum) and a frontend (using wasm / yew).
Bookmarking for future reuse in case I port some of my existing projects over.
“In this walkthrough I will describe my current default project setup for web projects that use Rust for frontend and backend. It is suitable for typical single-page web apps that use WASM/JS for rendering and routing. I have used it for dashboards, browser games and such but it should be suitable for any web app that wants to use a Rust server and frontend. I am choosing axum for the server part and yew for the frontend but it should work similarly with other choices.”Posted on 2022-04-08T06:52:18+0000
Fermilab Says Particle Is Heavy Enough to Break the Standard Model | Quanta Magazine
A new analysis of W bosons suggests these particles are significantly heavier than predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics.
“The painstaking work of experimentalists in honing their precision measurements makes researchers more optimistic that a long-awaited breakthrough is coming.
“It overall just feels to me like we’re getting close to the point where something’s going to break,” said El-Khadra. “We’re getting close to really seeing beyond the Standard Model.””Posted on 2022-04-08T06:46:33+0000
Americans Don’t Have the Luxury of Being Picky Eaters Anymore
We’ve been spoiled rotten, but the days of avocados in December are over.
“I’m not too proud to admit that I did not grow up liking squash. I didn’t like the steamed yellow chunks served with pasta or the zucchini strips dressed up to look like pasta. It wasn’t a problem; I just ate something else. A vast archipelago of capitalists, workers, processors, shippers, and sellers allowed me to be picky, and for some strange reason my preferences lined up pretty well with industrial agriculture’s outputs. (I came of age during “peak sugar”; quitting candy was much harder than quitting cigarettes.) But if you’re shopping at the farmers’ market and you live in North America, then for many months of the year you’re eating some squash, because it grows here. That’s what it has meant to eat food on this continent for almost the entirety of our history, and the more squash I ate, the more foolish I felt for imagining I was an exception.”Posted on 2022-04-08T04:59:55+0000
US: Man impersonated agent, claimed ties to Pakistani intel
Federal prosecutors say one of two men accused of impersonating federal agents and giving actual Secret Service agents gifts and free apartments in Washington has claimed to have ties to Pakistani intelligence and had visas showing travel to Pakistan and Iran
The more I read about this case, the crazier it gets. Still hoping we’ll eventually learn more about how this all came about.
“The plot unraveled when the U.S. Postal Inspection Service began investigating an assault involving a mail carrier at the apartment building and the men identified themselves as being part of a phony Homeland Security unit they called the U.S. Special Police Investigation Unit.”Posted on 2022-04-07T21:04:39+0000
Perspective | Republicans thought defining a ‘woman’ is easy. Then they tried.
Josh Hawley, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Madison Cawthorn did their best, but there’s no getting around the fact that womanhood is a complex thing to define.
“As for Josh Hawley, I’ll say only that I can’t wait to inform my mother that since her uterus was removed when she was 35 via a medically necessary hysterectomy, she hasn’t been a woman in 26 years. Perhaps she will be consoled if I add that the senator sounded like he hadn’t really thought very hard about it: In the same exchange reported by HuffPost, he seemed to change his definition of “woman” to require not a uterus but a vagina: “I mean, a woman has a vagina, right?””Posted on 2022-04-07T18:55:19+0000
Climate scientists are desperate: we’re crying, begging and getting arrested | Peter Kalmus
On Wednesday, I risked arrest by locking myself onto an entrance to the JP Morgan Chase building in downtown LA. I can’t stand by – and nor should you
Harrowing read. And equally worrying that LAPD came out in full riot gear to stop this peaceful protest composed of scientists.
“Martin Luther King Jr said, “He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” Out of necessity, and after exhaustive efforts, I’ve joined the ranks of those who selflessly risk their freedom and put their bodies on the line for the Earth, despite ridicule from the ignorant and punishment from a colonizing legal system designed to protect the planet-killing interests of the rich. It’s time we all join them. The feeling of solidarity is a wonderful balm.”Posted on 2022-04-07T09:47:24+0000
After Gridiron Dinner, a covid outbreak among Washington A-list guests
After the elite Gridiron dinner, Garland, Raimondo, Schiff, Castro, and several other officials or journalists tested positive.
Sigh… this is a pretty good approximation of how the US government is approaching Covid-19 precautions.
“The dinner was supposed to reflect a return to normalcy after being canceled the past two years because of the pandemic. Few guests wore masks or observed social distancing, according to people in attendance. Only the serving staff was consistently masked throughout the evening. While organizers asked attendees to show their vaccination cards at the door, there was no requirement to be tested.”Posted on 2022-04-07T06:29:41+0000
Why the WHO took two years to say COVID is airborne
Early in the pandemic, the World Health Organization stated that SARS-CoV-2 was not transmitted through the air. That mistake and the prolonged process of correcting it sowed confusion and raises questions about what will happen in the next pandemic.
““We’re really talking here about two failures, not one,” says Sandman. “Being reluctant to change your mind, and being reluctant to tell people you changed your mind.” Like other public-health and scientific organizations, the WHO “are afraid of losing credibility by acknowledging that they got something wrong”, he says.”Posted on 2022-04-07T04:40:58+0000
Researchers Identify ‘Master Problem’ Underlying All Cryptography | Quanta Magazine
The existence of secure cryptography depends on one of the oldest questions in computational complexity.
“The paper has set off a cascade of new research at the interface of cryptography and complexity theory. While both disciplines investigate how hard computational problems are, they come at the question from different mindsets, said Rahul Santhanam, a complexity theorist at the University of Oxford. Cryptography, he said, is fast-moving, pragmatic and optimistic, while complexity theory is slow-moving and conservative. In the latter field, “there are these long-standing open questions, and once in every dozen years, something happens,” he said. But “the questions are very deep and difficult.””Posted on 2022-04-07T04:17:27+0000
Oklahoma Legislature passes bill to make performing abortions a felony
Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, said he would sign any anti-abortion rights bill that comes to him.
Absolutely no words.
“"It's terrifying to think that we're going backwards in time, that we're actually watching in real time getting our rights taken away from us," said Kristin Williams, a participant in an abortion rights rally Tuesday in Oklahoma City, the capital.”Posted on 2022-04-06T03:42:44+0000
Father-Son Team Solves Geometry Problem With Infinite Folds | Quanta Magazine
The result could help researchers answer a larger question about flattening objects from the fourth dimension to the third dimension.
“The pair started collaborating when Erik was 6 years old. “We had a company called the Erik and Dad Puzzle Company, which made and sold puzzles to toy stores across Canada,” said Erik Demaine, now a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Erik Demaine learned basic math and the visual arts from his father, but eventually taught Martin advanced math and computer science. “Now we’re both artists and both mathematicians/computer scientists,” Erik Demaine said. “We collaborate on many projects, especially those that span all of these disciplines.””Posted on 2022-04-05T19:37:55+0000
UN warns Earth 'firmly on track toward an unlivable world'
BERLIN (AP) — Temperatures on Earth will shoot past a key danger point unless greenhouse gas emissions fall faster than countries have committed, the world’s top body of climate scientists said Monday, warning of the consequences of inaction but also noting hopeful signs of progress.
“Such warnings were echoed by U.N. chief Guterres, citing scientists’ warnings that the planet is moving “perilously close to tipping points that could lead to cascading and irreversible climate impacts.”
“But high-emitting governments and corporations are not just turning a blind eye; they are adding fuel to the flames,” he said, calling for an end to further coal, oil and gas extraction. “Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness.””Posted on 2022-04-05T19:06:16+0000
This Is What Happens When There Are Too Many Meetings
Why a 9-to-10 is the new 9-to-5
“We need a deeper theory of work and time. When we say “That meeting should have been an email,” we’re not just saying “My boss wouldn’t stop talking.” We’re also saying “I think the information from that synchronous event would have been more productively shared as an asynchronous communication, so that an hour of necessary work wasn’t shifted later into the workday.” Our late-night mini workdays are not just an expression of benign flexibility. They’re also the consequence of inflexible managers filling the day with so many meetings that we have to add a “worknight” to do our job.”Posted on 2022-04-04T16:43:22+0000
Beyond the Second Law of Thermodynamics | Quanta Magazine
Thanks to the power of fluctuation relations, physicists are taking the second law of thermodynamics to settings once thought impossible.
“This is the core of fluctuation relations: Properties of a system far from equilibrium participate in an equality with equilibrium properties. My colleague Chris Jarzynski at the University of Maryland discovered this in 1997. (He’s so modest, he calls the equality the nonequilibrium fluctuation relation, while the rest of us call it Jarzynski’s equality.) Although the DNA experiment provided one of the most famous tests of this principle, the equation governs loads of systems, including those involving electrons, beads the size of bacteria and brass oscillators that resemble centimeter-long tire swings.”Posted on 2022-04-04T13:10:57+0000
Evaluation of science advice during the COVID-19 pandemic in Sweden - Humanities and Social Sciences Communications
Sweden was well equipped to prevent the pandemic of COVID-19 from becoming serious. Over 280 years of collaboration between political bodies, authorities, and the scientific community had yielded many successes in preventive medicine. Sweden’s population is literate and has a high level of trust i...
This is effectively state sanctioned murder right?
“The Public Health Agency labelled advice from national scientists and international authorities as extreme positions, resulting in media and political bodies to accept their own policy instead. The Swedish people were kept in ignorance of basic facts such as the airborne SARS-CoV-2 transmission, that asymptomatic individuals can be contagious and that face masks protect both the carrier and others. Mandatory legislation was seldom used; recommendations relying upon personal responsibility and without any sanctions were the norm. Many elderly people were administered morphine instead of oxygen despite available supplies, effectively ending their lives.”Posted on 2022-04-03T23:01:50+0000
The CDC is beholden to corporations and lost our trust. We need to start our own | The People's CDC
We’re epidemiologists, nurses and physicians, artists and biologists. We have come together with a common anger at the US government’s handling of Covid
“We demand a layered, collective, and equitable approach to the pandemic. We recognize that none are safe from contagious disease until we are all safe. It is with this understanding that we will continue to share the latest on the state of the pandemic, toolkits for action, and recommendations on what to do, developed for and together with community organizations. For it is only through collective power that we can create a new, more equitable world that can not only control outbreaks but also prevent them from emerging in the first place.”Posted on 2022-04-03T20:27:39+0000
Here’s How We Beat Amazon
Amazon workers in Staten Island have achieved the most important labor victory in the United States since the 1930s. Here’s an inside account of how they did it.
This, and the broader story of how Amazon workers fought to unionize and won against all odds (and a ton of frankly repulsive actions taken by Amazon) has been inspiring. More power to the workers, and I hope more unions follow - across companies and industries.
“Those one-on-one conversations were so important because Amazon told a lot of people we were a third party. And in the end, that bit them. At first workers would come up to us and be like, “How are you guys able to be in the building? You guys don’t even work here.” Then we’d literally show them our work badge and say, “We do work here — everyone that’s in the union here right now works here.” So they’d be curious at that point. And by the end of our conversations, they often felt bamboozled by Amazon because they realized that they had been lied to.”Posted on 2022-04-03T00:16:42+0000
Why Rust mutexes look like they do - Cliffle
One of the common complaints I hear from systems programmers who try Rust is about mutexes, and specifically about the Rust Mutex API. The complaints usually go something like this:
Great read combining a language comparison and a discussion of API design tradeoffs.
"Now that we understand why the Rust API is structured as it is, it’s worth asking – why is the C mutex API structured in a way that is hard to use and trivial to misuse, requiring elaborate comments or even static analysis to get right? This, despite the standard API being designed circa 2010, well into the era of commodity multicore processors.
The question is simultaneously fair and unfair. There are important language features missing from C (and C++) that make it impossible to implement a Rust-style mutex API with the same guarantees – lack of explicit lifetimes, absence of an equivalent to Sync, lack of well-defined “move semantics” for ensuring that values end their lives at controlled moments (like with MutexGuard). So, it’s unreasonable to expect the C standard to define a safe mutex API.
But it is not unreasonable to use better tools."Posted on 2022-04-02T20:06:48+0000
How the far-right is turning feminists into fascists | Xtra Magazine
ANALYSIS: The terrifying confluence of anti-trans thinkers, American evangelicals, anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists and global purveyors of dark money poses a much bigger threat than you might realize
The exponential growth of anti trans activism on the far right (which is now becoming scarily normalized by certain parts of the US media and politics; and extremely common in say the UK) has been very worrying to watch and read about and fight against. This goes into some of the origins of the movement.
“I keep going back to my conversation with Lavin about the Hirschfeld archives. Burning them was one of the first things the Nazis did, but it certainly isn’t what we remember them for. The fact that trans people make an easy first target doesn’t mean we will be the last or even the most important ones. The longer I look at all this, the more information I assemble, the more my mind drifts back to that long-ago fire.
The thing is, fire always spreads. Look around you and see what’s already burning. “Posted on 2022-04-02T03:32:59+0000
FORCEDENTRY: Sandbox Escape
Posted by Ian Beer & Samuel Groß of Google Project Zero We want to thank Citizen Lab for sharing a sample of the FORCEDENTRY exploit ...
This is just amazing, both the exploit itself and the analysis of how it works.
"The advent of Memory Tagging Extensions (MTE), likely shipping in multiple consumer devices across the ARM ecosystem this year, is a big step in the defense against memory corruption exploitation. But attackers innovate too, and are likely already two steps ahead with a renewed focus on logic bugs. This sandbox escape exploit is likely a sign of the shift we can expect to see over the next few years if the promises of MTE can be delivered. And this exploit was far more extensible, reliable and generic than almost any memory corruption exploit could ever hope to be."Posted on 2022-04-02T00:42:56+0000