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Links for 2020-08-26

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Links for 2020-08-24

  • Interchange fee

    TIL about credit card “interchange fees” — an additional fee levied by credit card companies and banks, roughly 3%, mainly in the US (the EU regulations cap it at 0.3%). ‘Imagine a consumer making a $100 purchase with a credit card. For that $100 item, the retailer would get approximately $98. The remaining $2, known as the merchant discount[13] and fees, gets divided up.’

    (tags: fees credit-cards interchange-fees us money)

  • How I helped fix Canada?s COVID Alert app

    Nice writeup of using mitmproxy to detect unwanted accesses to a Google endpoint in an iOS app

    (tags: mitmproxy mitm https ios apps reversing)

  • interesting results on children and COVID-19 — high asymptomatic infection rate

    ‘METHODS: We conducted a prospective cohort study of children and adolescents (<21 years of age) with a SARS-CoV-2-infected close contact. We collected nasopharyngeal or nasal swabs at enrollment and tested for SARS-CoV-2 using a real-time PCR assay. RESULTS: Of 382 children, 293 (77%) were SARS-CoV-2-infected. SARS-CoV-2-infected children were more likely to be Hispanic (p<0.0001), less likely to have asthma (p=0.005), and more likely to have an infected sibling contact (p=0.001) than uninfected children. Children ages 6-13 years were frequently asymptomatic (39%) and had respiratory symptoms less often than younger children (29% vs. 48%; p=0.01) or adolescents (29% vs. 60%; p<0.0001). Compared to children ages 6-13 years, adolescents more frequently reported influenza-like (61% vs. 39%; p<0.0001), gastrointestinal (27% vs. 9%; p=0.002), and sensory symptoms (42% vs. 9%; p<0.0001), and had more prolonged illnesses [median (IQR) duration: 7 (4, 12) vs. 4 (3, 8) days; p=0.01]. Despite the age-related variability in symptoms, we found no differences in nasopharyngeal viral load by age or between symptomatic and asymptomatic children.'

    (tags: covid-19 sars-cov-2 papers preprints kids children)

  • Children in close contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19 were not contacted for nine days

    ‘Children who came into close contact with a confirmed case of the coronavirus at a summer camp run by Ireland’s lead sporting authority were not contacted by the HSE regarding the issue for nine days, it has emerged. Sport Ireland, the State authority charged with the development of sport in Ireland, has been running childrens’ summer camps at the National Aquatic Centre campus in Blanchardstown, Dublin, where SI itself is headquartered, since June 29th. At one such camp on Friday, 14 August, a nine-year-old boy participating apparently came into close contact with a case of the virus. However, he heard nothing about the contact until nine days later on August 23 when his mother received an automated text message stating that the contact had occurred and that he had been referred for a Covid-19 test.’

    (tags: sport-ireland ireland contact-tracing covid-19 kids hse children)


Links for 2020-08-20

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Links for 2020-08-17

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Links for 2020-08-14

  • Air pollution is much worse than we thought. Climate change is far from the only problem with fossil fuels. – Vox

    “Over the next 50 years, keeping to the 2°C pathway would prevent roughly 4.5 million premature deaths, about 3.5 million hospitalizations and emergency room visits, and approximately 300 million lost workdays in the US.” All that prevented death, illness, and lost productivity adds up to a lot of savings: The avoided deaths are valued at more than $37 trillion. The avoided health care spending due to reduced hospitalizations and emergency room visits exceeds $37 billion, and the increased labor productivity is valued at more than $75 billion. On average, this amounts to over $700 billion per year in benefits to the US from improved health and labor alone, far more than the cost of the energy transition. Importantly, many of the benefits can be accessed in the near term. Right now, air pollution leads to almost 250,000 premature deaths a year in the US. Within a decade, aggressive decarbonization could reduce that toll by 40 percent; over 20 years, it could save around 1.4 million American lives that would otherwise be lost to air quality. Of the potential yearly deaths prevented, Rep. Robin Kelly of Illinois remarked at the hearing, “That’s a huge number. That’s nearly three times the number of lives we lose in car accidents every year. It’s twice the number of deaths caused by opioids in the past few years. And it’s even more than the number of Americans we lose to diabetes each year.”

    (tags: pollution air energy environment climate-change air-quality health decarbonization)

  • ESB PVC Ducting Pipe Red 50mm x 6M

    decent weatherproof ducting for running cables to garden sheds etc.

    (tags: ducting sheds garden home wiring cabling cables)

  • Excellent thread on the Ofqual justification for the UK’s current approach to estimating A-level results

    Some prime quotes: ‘You can’t infer the correct grades at an individual level from the prior year’s distribution of grades, no matter how hard you clonk away at the abacus.’ ‘The data *doesn’t* allow that. ThIs puts idea that grade inflation, school level results and maintaining the distribution shape is more important than the fairness of individual results.’ ‘I don’t blame Ofqual, but they’re being asked to correctly estimate the size of each egg that went into an omelette, based on a different omelette.’

    (tags: ofqual uk education covid-19 estimation a-levels grades schools)

  • Robust T cell immunity in convalescent individuals with asymptomatic or mild COVID-19: Cell

    Good news for ongoing immunity:

    SARS-CoV-2-specific memory T cells will likely prove critical for long-term immune protection against COVID-19. We here systematically mapped the functional and phenotypic landscape of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell responses in unexposed individuals, exposed family members, and individuals with acute or convalescent COVID-19. Acute phase SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells displayed a highly activated cytotoxic phenotype that correlated with various clinical markers of disease severity, whereas convalescent phase SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells were polyfunctional and displayed a stem-like memory phenotype. Importantly, SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells were detectable in antibody-seronegative exposed family members and convalescent individuals with a history of asymptomatic and mild COVID-19. Our collective dataset shows that SARS-CoV-2 elicits robust, broad and highly functional memory T cell responses, suggesting that natural exposure or infection may prevent recurrent episodes of severe COVID-19.

    (tags: immunity covid-19 sars-cov-2 diseases immune-system t-cells)

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Links for 2020-08-12

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Links for 2020-08-11

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Links for 2020-08-10

  • The effect of school closures and reopening strategies on COVID-19 infection dynamics in the San Francisco Bay Area: a cross-sectional survey and modeling analysis | medRxiv

    New preprint, modelling COVID-19 transmission in Bay Area schools.

    Large-scale school closures have been implemented worldwide to curb the spread of COVID-19. However, the impact of school closures and re-opening on epidemic dynamics remains unclear. Methods: We simulated COVID-19 transmission dynamics using an individual-based stochastic model, incorporating social-contact data of school-aged children during shelter-in-place orders derived from Bay Area (California) household surveys. We simulated transmission under observed conditions and counterfactual intervention scenarios between March 17-June 1, and evaluated various fall 2020 K-12 reopening strategies. Findings: Between March 17-June 1, assuming children <10 were half as susceptible to infection as older children and adults, we estimated school closures averted a similar number of infections (13,842 cases; 95% CI: 6,290, 23,040) as workplace closures (15,813; 95% CI: 9,963, 22,617) and social distancing measures (7,030; 95% CI: 3,118, 11,676). School closure effects were driven by high school and middle school closures. Under assumptions of moderate community transmission, we estimate that fall 2020 school reopenings will increase symptomatic illness among high school teachers (an additional 40.7% expected to experience symptomatic infection, 95% CI: 1.9, 61.1), middle school teachers (37.2%, 95% CI: 4.6, 58.1), and elementary school teachers (4.1%, 95% CI: -1.7, 12.0). Results are highly dependent on uncertain parameters, notably the relative susceptibility and infectiousness of children, and extent of community transmission amid re-opening. The school-based interventions needed to reduce the risk to fewer than an additional 1% of teachers infected varies by grade level. A hybrid-learning approach with halved class sizes of 10 students may be needed in high schools, while maintaining small cohorts of 20 students may be needed for elementary schools. Interpretation: Multiple in-school intervention strategies and community transmission reductions, beyond the extent achieved to date, will be necessary to avoid undue excess risk associated with school reopening. Policymakers must urgently enact policies that curb community transmission and implement within-school control measures to simultaneously address the tandem health crises posed by COVID-19 and adverse child health and development consequences of long-term school closures.

    (tags: covid-19 bay-area schools kids transmission models)

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Links for 2020-08-04

  • Nisreen A Alwan: What exactly is mild covid-19? 

    What is now becoming clear is that mortality is not the only adverse outcome of this infection and our surveillance systems must keep up and reflect that. I am advocating for precise case definitions for covid-19 morbidity that reflect the degree of severity of infection and allow us to measure moderate and long term health and wellbeing outcomes. At this stage of the pandemic, it is vital that we accurately measure and count all degrees of infection, not only in research cohorts, but as part of population-based routine surveillance systems. This includes people like me who were not tested at the time of their initial infection. Death is not the only thing to count in this pandemic, we must count lives changed. We still know very little about covid-19, but we do know that we cannot fight what we do not measure. 

    (tags: covid-19 diseases fatigue symptoms medicine bmj)

  • Georgia camp outbreak shows rapid virus spread among children

    Between 44% and 75% of the people at this summer camp were infected. ‘258 staff gathered for three days before the camp started with no precautions. Then on day 1 of camp someone [felt] chills. By day 6, the camp was closed.’ 597 attendees, 344 tested, 260 positive.

    (tags: covid-19 symptoms summer-camps pandemic disease georgia kids schools children)

  • “Three new important studies came out in the past week about kids & COVID-19”

    Good twitter thread from Megan Ranney MD: * ‘South Korea study — Older kids most likely transmit #COVID19 to their household at rates similar to adults. And younger kids transmit the virus, too. But: no masks or distancing, since this took place at home.’ * ‘Chicago — the level of the virus in kids is AT LEAST as high as the level of virus in adults. (Caveat: we don’t know whether this virus is infectious. But this data matches what we know about other respiratory viruses. The next step will be studying test swabs to see if kids’ virus can reproduce. I suspect it can. […] We can’t let kids ignore #SocialDistancing & #MaskUp just bc they’re kids.)’ * ‘States with early closure of schools had reduced levels of #COVID19 compared with states with late closure, *even after* adjusting for policies like “stay-at-home”. […] Once #COVID19 infection rates start to rise, it would be foolhardy to keep schools open IRL. And we should be planning NOW for how to keep kids healthy, safe, & fed, because that moment will likely come for every state.’ ‘Realistically, we MUST control levels of community transmission of #COVID19 if we want kids & teachers in schools. We may be able to send kids back, but we need PPE & regular, random testing of kids & teachers, whether in elementary, middle, high school, or college.’

    (tags: parenting kids schools covid-19 transmission pandemics viruses sars-cov-2)

  • The UX of LEGO Interface Panels – George Cave

    love it

    (tags: lego ux ui design funny)

  • RCP8.5 tracks cumulative CO2 emissions | PNAS

    Today in “we are still fucked” news:

    RCP8.5, the most aggressive scenario in assumed fossil fuel use for global climate models, will continue to serve as a useful tool for quantifying physical climate risk, especially over near- to midterm policy-relevant time horizons. Not only are the emissions consistent with RCP8.5 in close agreement with historical total cumulative CO2 emissions (within 1%), but RCP8.5 is also the best match out to midcentury under current and stated policies with still highly plausible levels of CO2 emissions in 2100.
    RCP8.5 is the model associated with a planet where a good chunk of the globe is rendered uninhabitable.

    (tags: rcp8.5 grim-meathook-future future climate-change co2 pnas papers models climate)

  • Evidence for sustained mucosal and systemic antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 antigens in COVID-19 patients | medRxiv

    While the antibody response to SARS-CoV-2 has been extensively studied in blood, relatively little is known about the mucosal immune response and its relationship to systemic antibody levels. Since SARS-CoV-2 initially replicates in the upper airway, the antibody response in the oral cavity is likely an important parameter that influences the course of infection. We developed enzyme linked immunosorbent assays to detect IgA and IgG antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (full length trimer) and its receptor binding domain (RBD) in serum (n=496) and saliva (n=90) of acute and convalescent patients with laboratory-diagnosed COVID-19 ranging from 3-115 days post-symptom onset (PSO), compared to negative controls. Anti-CoV-2 antibody responses were readily detected in serum and saliva, with peak IgG levels attained by 16-30 days PSO. Whereas anti-CoV-2 IgA antibodies rapidly decayed, IgG antibodies remained relatively stable up to 115 days PSO in both biofluids. Importantly, IgG responses in saliva and serum were correlated, suggesting that antibodies in the saliva may serve as a surrogate measure of systemic immunity.
    That last line, in particular, is good news.

    (tags: covid-19 immunity disease assays antibodies sars-cov-2 papers preprints)

  • Harvard-UC Boulder Portable Air Cleaner Calculator for Schools

    A handy calculator spreadsheet to estimate how big of a portable air cleaner would be required to protect kids/teachers/admin staff at a typical US school, based on room size, ceiling height, etc. More info: (Catherine Lalanne notes: “Airflows in this sheet are about half the Irish regulations, American regulations are pretty weak.”)

    (tags: air-cleaners filtration spreadsheets covid-19 schools kids air-quality air)

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Links for 2020-07-31

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Links for 2020-07-30

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Links for 2020-07-29

  • US Spring school closures tied to drastic decrease in Covid-19 cases, deaths in model

    Their projection found that, if schools had stayed open, there could have been roughly 424 more coronavirus infections and 13 more deaths per 100,000 residents over the course of 26 days. Extrapolate that to the American population, and the country might have seen as many as 1.37 million more cases and 40,600 more deaths, explained Samir Shah, the director of hospital medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and one of the authors of the paper. “These numbers seem ridiculously high and it’s mind-boggling to think that these numbers are only … in the first several weeks,” said Shah. “That’s bonkers.” He warned, though, that those numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. While their statistical model attempts to pinpoint the impact of schools staying open or being closed, the method can’t actually establish any sort of causal relationship.

    (tags: models modelling schools reopening covid-19 kids us)


Links for 2020-07-28

  • School openings across globe suggest ways to keep coronavirus at bay, despite outbreaks | Science | AAAS

    When Science looked at reopening strategies from South Africa to Finland to Israel, some encouraging patterns emerged. Together, they suggest a combination of keeping student groups small and requiring masks and some social distancing helps keep schools and communities safe, and that younger children rarely spread the virus to one another or bring it home. But opening safely, experts agree, isn’t just about the adjustments a school makes. It’s also about how much virus is circulating in the community, which affects the likelihood that students and staff will bring COVID-19 into their classrooms.

    (tags: covid-19 education schools pods children kids)

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Links for 2020-07-27

  • AWS User Data is Being Stored, Used Outside User’s Chosen Regions

    Wow, this is staggeringly inappropriate usage. Bad move, Amazon!

    [AWS] is using customers’ “AI content” for its own product development purposes. It also reserves the right in its small print to store this material outside the geographic regions that AWS customers have explicitly selected. It may also share this with AWS “affiliates” it says, without naming them.

    (tags: via:corey-quinn aws amazon machine-learning corpora training data data-privacy data-protection)

  • The Scourge of Hygiene Theater – The Atlantic

    On the pointless “deep clean”:

    To some American companies and Florida men, COVID-19 is apparently a war that will be won through antimicrobial blasting, to ensure that pathogens are banished from every square inch of America’s surface area. But what if this is all just a huge waste of time? In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidelines to clarify that while COVID-19 spreads easily among speakers and sneezers in close encounters, touching a surface “isn’t thought to be the main way the virus spreads.” Other scientists have reached a more forceful conclusion. “Surface transmission of COVID-19 is not justified at all by the science,” Emanuel Goldman, a microbiology professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, told me. He also emphasized the primacy of airborne person-to-person transmission.

    (tags: covid-19 air aerosols transmission cleaning surfaces fomites hygiene)

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Links for 2020-07-26

  • Sputum testing provides higher rate of COVID-19 detection | EurekAlert! Science News

    Li and his colleagues scoured the literature — both preprints and published papers — for studies that assessed at least two respiratory sampling sites using an NP swab, oropharyngeal swab or sputum. From more than 1,000 studies, they identified 11 that met their criteria. These studies included results from a total of 3,442 respiratory tract specimens. The team examined how often each collection method produced a positive result. For NP swabs, the rate was 54 percent; for oropharyngeal swabs, 43 percent; for sputum, 71 percent. The rate of viral detection was significantly higher in sputum than either oropharyngeal swabs or NP swabs. Detection rates were highest within one week of symptom onset for all three tests.

    (tags: sputum covid-19 testing swabs)

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Links for 2020-07-25

  • COVID Dogs

    Scent dog identification of samples from COVID-19 patients – a pilot study, in BMC Infectious Diseases:

    The dogs were able to discriminate between samples of infected (positive) and non-infected (negative) individuals with average diagnostic sensitivity of 82.63% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 82.02–83.24%) and specificity of 96.35% (95% CI: 96.31–96.39%). During the presentation of 1012 randomised samples, the dogs achieved an overall average detection rate of 94% (±3.4%) with 157 correct indications of positive, 792 correct rejections of negative, 33 incorrect indications of negative or incorrect rejections of 30 positive sample presentations.

    (tags: dogs good-dog covid-19 detection testing smell scent)

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Links for 2020-07-23

  • Top Scientists Just Ruled Out Best-Case Global Warming Scenarios – Bloomberg

    “A group of 25 leading scientists now conclude that catastrophic warming is almost inevitable if emissions continue at their current rate.”

    (tags: global-warming climate-change future climate science)

  • 20 Questions to Ask before Sending your Kids Back to School – Schools For Health

    An excellent checklist.

    There is no such thing as “zero risk” in anything we do, and certainly not during a pandemic. There will be some risk to students, teachers, staff, and families. As such, it is important to reduce these risks to the extent possible. Returning to school should not be “school as usual.” We prepared the following set of questions as a guide for parents, teachers and school staff who may not be sure what to ask or look for at their school. While we offer some insight into the responses you might receive, and expect, each school’s response will be different because there is no “one size fits all” plan for COVID-19.

    (tags: schools teaching covid-19 health kids children)

  • Schools Will Eventually Need to Reopen – Schools For Health

    We recognize there are immense challenges. There is no perfect plan to reopen schools safely, only “less bad” options. There is no “one size fits all” strategy that works for every school. Schools have limited budgets and staff. Compliance will be imperfect. Learning will be different. There will be disruption. Schools may need to re-close unexpectedly depending on local conditions. No one knows with certainty what the fall will bring in terms of this pandemic. Despite these challenges, the enormous individual and societal costs of keeping schools closed compels us, a team focused on Healthy Buildings and exposure and risk science, to present a range of control strategies that should be considered in discussions of school reopenings.

    (tags: health schools reopening covid-19 teaching kids children)

  • Facebook Employee Leaks Show Betrayal By Company Leadership

    Wang opted for a clip of himself speaking directly to the camera. What followed was a 24-minute clear-eyed hammering of Facebook’s leadership and decision-making over the previous year. The video was a distillation of months of internal strife, protest, and departures that followed the company’s decision to leave untouched a post from President Donald Trump that seemingly called for violence against people protesting the police killing of George Floyd. And while Wang’s message wasn’t necessarily unique, his assessment of the company’s ongoing failure to protect its users — an evaluation informed by his lengthy tenure at the company — provided one of the most stunningly pointed rebukes of Facebook to date. “We are failing,” he said, criticizing Facebook’s leaders for catering to political concerns at the expense of real-world harm. “And what’s worse, we have enshrined that failure in our policies.”

    (tags: activism ethics facebook work policies nazis trump)

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Links for 2020-07-21

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Links for 2020-07-20

  • Cancel Culture and the Problem of Woke Capitalism – The Atlantic

    ‘How Capitalism Drives Cancel Culture: Beware splashy corporate gestures when they leave existing power structures intact.’

    (tags: cancel-culture cancelling capitalism society)

  • The inside story of how the UK government failed to develop a contact-tracing app

    A classic Tory fuckup. Spoofing, over-promising, a behind-the-scenes desire to collect a database of citizen’s private medical info, and hubris.

    (tags: nhsx palantir bluetooth covid-19 uk tories data-privacy nhs)

  • Ireland donates its contact tracing app to the Linux Foundation

    This is awesome. Congrats to NearForm and the HSE for making some great choices here:

    Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) announced today that it is donating the code for the COVID Tracker app as Open Source to the not-for-profit Linux Foundation. This will enable jurisdictions worldwide to quickly build and deploy their own contact tracing apps using a wildly successful proven base. The donated app has been named COVID Green. […] The rapid adoption of the COVID Tracker app in Ireland exceeded all expectations. One million people installed it in the first 36 hours, and the app currently has over 1.3 million installations. That figure represents more than 30% of people in Ireland with compatible devices. The code is also being used in the app for Gibraltar and the upcoming apps for Northern Ireland, other jurisdictions in EMEA and multiple US states. NearForm continues to enable public health authorities to get a contact tracing application into production within four weeks of project start. By donating the source code to the new Linux Foundation Public Health (LFPH) project, under the Apache License 2.0, the HSE is playing an active role in helping to fight Covid-19 worldwide. Source code for the COVID Green mobile app is available now on GitHub and soon will be followed by all matching backend code. The Linux Foundation is dedicated to building sustainable ecosystems around open source projects to accelerate technology development and industry adoption. LFPH is launching with a mission to use open source software to help public health authorities (PHAs) around the world combat Covid-19 and future epidemics. One of the roles of LFPH is to serve as a forum for collaboration between PHAs, developers, technology companies and academics to ensure the implementation and dissemination of best practices, including privacy and security.

    (tags: hse nearform covid-19 contact-tracing exposure-notification apps mobile open-source linux-foundation lfph)

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Links for 2020-07-17

  • Turkey Now Has Swarming Suicide Drones It Could Export – The Drive

    Well, this is pretty scary — swarming autonomous kamikaze drones are actively in production right now:

    It seems very possible that, in addition to providing these improved Kargu [drones] to the Turkish armed forces, STM could also seek to export them, proliferating this capability further around the world. STM has already said that it has received serious inquires about the Kargu series from at least three unnamed potential foreign customers. Turkey, as a whole, has become a powerhouse of drone development and production, employing larger types to great effect in Syria and Libya just this year. This is precisely the type of weapon we have been warning about for years now. The fact that it is already here and potentially exportable should be yet another wake-up call to the level of threat low-end drones pose to U.S. and allied forces, as well as domestic infrastructure and VIPs.  “I argue all the time with my Air Force friends that the future of flight is vertical and it’s unmanned,” U.S. Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, said at an event hosted by the Middle East Institute last week. “I’m not talking about large unmanned platforms, which are the size of a conventional fighter jet that we can see and deal with, as we would any other platform.” “I’m talking about the one you can go out and buy at Costco right now in the United States for a thousand dollars, four quad, rotorcraft or something like that that can be launched and flown,” he continued. “And with very simple modifications, it can make made into something that can drop a weapon like a hand grenade or something else.”

    (tags: drones war terrorism ai autonomous scary kargu kerkes turkey stm)

  • interesting data on COVID-19 rates among school-age kids

    Twitter thread:

    Highest COVID-19 rate (18.6%) for household contacts of school-aged children and lowest (5.3%) for household contacts of kids 0-9; – School closure and distancing reduced rate of COVID-19 among contacts of school aged kids. What does this mean? – I believe this further supports that we need to have low rates of community transmission before we consider opening up schools; – Per this data kids 10-19 had highest rates of contacts with COVID-19; – This is scientific data, let this lead our decision.

    (tags: contact-tracing south-korea schools reopening covid-19 transmission children)

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Links for 2020-07-16

  • ‘Only those with plastic visors were infected’: Swiss government warns against face shields – The Local

    Via Zeynep Tufekci: ‘A study of an outbreak in Switzerland found that only those with plastic face-shields were infected, and everyone wearing masks was protected. Face shields may still help with source control, but masks may well also be protecting the wearer to some degree.’

    (tags: switzerland covid-19 facemasks masks aerosols transmission epidemiology)

  • ‘Blitz spirit’ was a myth

    The report, The Mental Stability of Hull, was based on interviews with hundreds of survivors. These case studies showed that people developed serious psychosomatic conditions, including involuntary soiling and wetting, persistent crying, uncontrollable shaking, headaches and chronic dizziness; men were found to indulge in heavy drinking and smoking after a raid, and prone to developing peptic ulcers. One woman was bombed out of three different houses, and watched the death of her sister and her five children. Her symptoms indicated an exceptional level of nervous collapse. Nevertheless, the conclusion from Hull was that its mental stability was nothing to worry about. The government papered over the evidence of the physical and psychological effects of being bombed and focused instead on the stories of British resolve. The propaganda film London Can Take It! reinforced the view that British people were not to be terrorised into submission. The famous photograph of a milkman picking his way through the ruins to deliver the milk was widely distributed, but it was a fake – the milkman was in fact the photographer’s assistant, wearing a white coat. The public face of the “blitz spirit” concealed the awful reality of being bombed.

    (tags: coronavirus epidemic fear pandemics blitz covid-19 ptsd propaganda)

  • Test sensitivity is secondary to frequency and turnaround time for COVID-19 surveillance | medRxiv

    this makes a whole load of sense to me — Michael Mina, one of this paper’s authors, is interviewed on TWIV, , talking about frequent, cheap, fast-turnaround COVID-19 tests, suitable for countrywide, daily testing. Less accurate than the RT-PCR swab, but good enough for this purpose

    (tags: epidemiology covid-19 testing swabs rt-pcr twiv virology models papers)

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Links for 2020-07-15

  • Nice heatmap dataviz of Florida COVID-19 cases, over time, by age bracket

    Be?v?a?n?d on Twitter: “I love this heatmap?? It represents over 100,000 individual datapoints. These are Florida COVID-19 cases, over time, by age bracket. I published open-source code to make it: The recent case surge is driven by 20-24-year-old Floridians. 1/N” / Twitter

    (tags: dataviz heatmaps graphics charts covid-19 analytics)

  • UASP makes Raspberry Pi 4 disk IO 50% faster

    The more recent USB storage protocol — definitely worth using if available. ‘Without UASP, a drive is mounted as a Mass Storage Device using Bulk Only Transport (or BOT), a protocol that was designed for transferring files way back in the USB ‘Full speed’ days, when the fastest speed you could get was a whopping 12 Mbps! With USB 3.0, the BOT protocol cripples throughput. USB 3.0 has 5 Gbps of bandwidth, which is 400x more than USB 1.1. The old BOT protocol would transfer data in large chunks, and each chunk of data had to be delivered in order, without regard for buffering or multiple bits of data being able to transfer in parallel.’ (everyone’s already blogged this, but I’m lodging it here for bookmark purposes ;)

    (tags: uasp usb storage disks hardware raspberry-pi io ops)

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Links for 2020-07-13

  • Thread on how US universities are planning to tackle COVID-19 in the fall

    Michael Otsuka on Twitter: “Notre Dame is the latest example of a US university that is devoting serious planning and resources to making their campus safe for in person instruction.” This thread is full of good points on how educational institutions — not just third-level! — need to think about how to handle COVID-19 when they reopen. Key points: comprehensive testing of staff and students; contact tracing, isolation and quarantine protocols; physical distancing and mask requirements; and facilities to isolate positive staff and students and their contacts. Also, some facilities are planning to PROVIDE face coverings if students don’t have, or forget, their own. Brown University are planning to conduct “rapid testing for covid-19 for all students at regular intervals. Testing only those with symptoms will not be sufficient.” — this is a point that Columbia U. Prof Vincent Racaniello, of TWIV fame (@profvrr), has been making repeatedly — pervasive mass testing is needed.

    (tags: testing covid-19 reopening education universities health schools)

  • Wearing masks may reduce severity of COVID-19, if it is caught

    Bob Wachter on Twitter: “I heard [an] interesting new theory by ID expert Monica Gandhi @UCSF: wearing masks may not only prevent disease, but – if wearer does get infected – it may be with a lower viral dose and thus cause milder disease. Some support for this from studies in mice and hamsters (below)…” / Twitter

    (tags: covid-19 bob-wachter virology masks facemasks theories viruses infection)

  • Fixers Know What ‘Repairable’ Means—Now There’s a Standard for It

    European standard EN45554 ‘details ”general methods for the assessment of the ability to repair, reuse and upgrade energy-related products.” In plain English, it’s a standard for measuring how easy it is to repair stuff. It’s also a huge milestone for the fight for fair repair.’

    (tags: repair ifixit eu en45554 standards europe)

  • The EU General Data Protection Regulation explained by Americans

    Bashing the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) seems to have become one of American activists’ favourite hobbies in the tech field. Some criticism is entirely justified. But many claims that the GDPR is “counterproductive” or “misses the point” are based on misconceptions, rather than an accurate understanding of European data protection laws. As a result, several US privacy advocates have therefore suggested alternative principles or rules… many of which, actually, have been part of EU data protection law since 1995.

    (tags: gdpr privacy data-protection eu data-privacy us-politics)

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Links for 2020-07-12

  • The implications of silent transmission for the control of COVID-19 outbreaks | PNAS

    ‘In our PNAS study, we demonstrate that the majority of COVID-19 transmission is ‘silent’: from asymptomatic cases or from cases during the presymptomatic phase. Consequently, symptom-based control, such as temperature checks, is not sufficient.’

    (tags: covid-19 research papers epidemiology transmission symptoms)

  • Why School Reopening Is Absurd and Dangerous

    I love the public schools my kids attend, but I also know they can’t handle a lice outbreak on a good day and are not equipped to handle COVID on a bad one. School principals and superintendents are not epidemiologists or virologists and can’t possibly be expected to make plans like they are. So who should be making decisions? To start, the CDC. So, when the vice president of the United States says, as he did this week, that “we don’t want the guidance from the CDC to be the reason schools don’t open up,” what he’s really saying is that the government is abandoning children, parents, and all the people who work in schools.

    (tags: coronavirus usa children pandemics covid-19 schools)

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Links for 2020-07-05

  • Rapid, inexpensive home testing for COVID-19 may get us out of this mess before a vaccine

    We should welcome [rapid covid] tests, even if less accurate, and broadly adopt them for widespread community use. Here’s why: They will be cheap. Estimates are that they would cost between 1 and 5 dollars. That’s around the price of a cup of coffee. They can be done on saliva. No brain biopsy required. They can be done frequently. Every day for college students, or healthcare workers, or bus drivers? Every third day for everyone? They will answer the key question — am I contagious to others right now? Finally, and most importantly, they will answer this last question quickly. Results back in less than an hour. Anyone with a positive test can self-isolate, be reported to public health officials, participate in a contact tracing program, and be monitored for symptoms. Maybe pre-emptive antiviral therapy will prevent severe illness. We can choose to do a rapid home test any day we go to work, or to the gym, or to meet friends in a restaurant, or to attend a concert, or to pray in a house of worship, or to visit an elder loved one, or indeed partake in any activity we do in groups that now sadly may sustain the pandemic. And for those worried about lack of sensitivity, two items of reassurance. First, false negatives are less likely when people have the highest amounts of virus in saliva and respiratory secretions — and this is when they’re most contagious to others. If the test is falsely negative due to low titers of virus, it may not matter very much. Second, this modeling study finds that the frequency of testing is the key determinant of how well a broad testing strategy will limit the spread of the virus. It’s even more important than test sensitivity, and evidence that imperfect testing is better than no testing at all.

    (tags: testing covid-19 pcr rt-pcr false-positives false-negatives viruses)

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Links for 2020-06-29

  • Understand Wi-Fi 4/5/6/6E (802.11 n/ac/ax)

    Some excellent advice regarding the currently available wifi devices out there, 802.11ac, 4×4 MIMO, beamforming, and DFS channels. Top recommendations are the Ubiquiti nanoHD AP and the Netgear R7800

    (tags: wifi 802.11n 802.11ac networking wireless home mimo mu-mimo dfs)

  • ????? (revenge bedtime procrastination)

    “a phenomenon in which people who don’t have much control over their daytime life refuse to sleep early in order to regain some sense of freedom during late night hours” Welcome to my life. (aka parenting)

    (tags: day night life kids parenting procrastination bedtime sleep china)

  • Witnessing the unthinkable

    According to this new [analysis of the latest generation of climate models], led by scientists at the CSIRO and [Australian] Bureau of Meteorology, the worst-case scenario could see Australia warm up to 7°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. On average, the results from 20 models show a warming of 4.5°C, with a range of between 2.7°C and 6.2°C. [….] Another profoundly significant result is buried 16 pages deep into the paper. The scientists show that this revision now means that 2°C of global warming is likely to be reached sometime around 2040 based on our current high-emissions trajectory. The implications of this are unimaginable – we may witness planetary collapse far sooner than we once thought.
    This is horrific, if those are solid estimates… those warming levels will mean Australia (and parts of the rest of the world) becomes pretty much uninhabitable.

    (tags: australia future grim climate-change models warming)

  • Weak bits floppy disc protection

    Amazing anti-piracy scheme from the BBC Micro era, devised by Simon Hosler of Sherston Software: “Weak” or “Flaky” bits, caused by “a weak signal or non-existent magnetic signal on the disc surface. You might also see the term no-flux area (NFA), which is the same as a non-existent signal. Weak bits are almost always a non-existent signal, as opposed to a weak signal. The flaky nature of weak bits actually comes out of the drive electronics: when there are no clear flux changes, the drive just amplifies harder until it starts seeing and signalling ghosts within the noise.” Simon Hosler wrote: “Soft lock (was what we called it) was actually my system, so what I remember… This came about because I lived next door to an electronics geek! So break the write data line of the parallel disk cable. Add a bit of electronics to this line. (thank you Mike) Most of the time this electronics does nothing – lets the data go through as normal. If you turn it on (I think I did this through the serial port) and write to a single sector – it would count the bits going through say 256 – and then stop the next 256 bits going through”

    (tags: bbc-micro microcomputers history copy-protection anti-piracy piracy weak-bits hardware hacks simon-hosler)

  • The Center for Land Use Interpretation

    More than 30 uranium disposal cells have been constructed over the last 25 years, primarily to contain radioactive contamination from decommissioned uranium mills and processing sites. They are time capsules, of sorts, designed to take their toxic contents, undisturbed, as far into the future as possible. Uranium disposal cells are unusual constructions because they are built to last far beyond the lives of most engineered structures, to isolate their radioactive contents from the environment for hundreds of years. They are generally low geometric mounds, sometimes as high as a hundred feet tall, covering a few acres or as much as a half mile, and composed of layers of engineered soil and gravels designed to shed rainwater and limit erosion. […] The contents are not considered high-level radioactive waste, like spent fuel from nuclear reactors. That material has yet to find a permanent home. What these cells contain is radioactive tailings from uranium processing sites, as well as the demolished buildings and apparatus from the mills themselves. The amount of radioactivity in these cells varies, but is generally considered harmful to people if exposure takes place over sustained periods. Most of the radiation comes from uranium 238, which has a half life of 4.47 billion years, nearly the age of the earth itself.

    (tags: nuclear uranium history waste toxic-waste radioactivity u-238 radioactive structures land-use)

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Links for 2020-06-26

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Links for 2020-06-25

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Links for 2020-06-24

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Links for 2020-06-23

  • The Trump 2020 app is a voter surveillance tool of extraordinary power | MIT Technology Review

    Trump’s casino-like campaign app seems to be his own attempt to create a “one-way tool of propaganda.” Its deployment is part of a global trend, piggybacking on years of unresolved privacy and security issues within the app ecosystem. As researchers studying the intersection of technology and propaganda, we understand that political groups tend to lag behind the commercial ad industry. But when they catch up, the consequences to truth and civil discourse can be devastating.  The array of data-gathering tools the Trump and Modi apps use are a legacy of a “freemium” social-media and app landscape that is manipulative, non-transparent, and purposefully addictive, with a mentality of “collect data first and ask question later.” For the last five to 10 years, the pervasiveness of these tools and their use in data scooping has been well documented. Sporadic, state-by-state data regulations have been the only response. In Europe, the GDPR was a big step toward meaningful consent and transparency, but the Official Trump 2020 App does not fall under its jurisdiction. A global perspective is now critical to understanding the implications of data-fueled political manipulation and preparing for the next wave of disinformation. Countries must work together to create effective regulation, and citizens must demand this of them. It took about five years for Modi’s strategies to jump from India to the US, and in the next few years we are on track to see the arrival of strategies used in the dark-money disinformation campaigns of Mexico and Latin America. The Mexican journalist we’d interviewed for our study put it this way: “I think what’s coming all around the world is going to be very chaotic, at least in [the US], I think you’re on the brink of a sort of civil war in one or two years … You’re going to have a lot of work to do.”

    (tags: trump politics apps surveillance advertising voting modi gdpr privacy data-privacy)

  • Abolish the #TechToPrisonPipeline – Coalition for Critical Technology

    ‘As per a press release, Springer will publish “A Deep Neural Network Model to Predict Criminality Using Image Processing.” Sign our letter to urge all publishers to refrain from feeding the #TechToPrisonPipeline with physiognomy 2.0.’ (via Niall Murphy)

    (tags: via:niallmurphy crime prediction image-processing springer research prison law ai ml)

  • Automating safe, hands-off deployments

    Great doc from Clare Liguori about current AWS best practices around deployment. A fair bit of it is similar to what they were doing by the time I left; this “wave” concept is a good new approach though:

    Each team needs to balance the safety of small-scoped deployments with the speed at which we can deliver changes to customers in all Regions. Deploying changes to 24 Regions or 76 Availability Zones through the pipeline one at a time has the lowest risk of causing broad impact, but it could take weeks for the pipeline to deliver a change to customers globally. We have found that grouping deployments into “waves” of increasing size, as seen in the previous sample prod pipeline, helps us achieve a good balance between deployment risk and speed. Each wave’s stage in the pipeline orchestrates deployments to a group of Regions, with changes being promoted from wave to wave. New changes can enter the production phase of the pipeline at any time. After a set of changes is promoted from the first step to the second step in wave 1, the next set of changes from gamma is promoted into the first step of wave 1, so we don’t end up with large bundles of changes waiting to be deployed to production. The first two waves in the pipeline build the most confidence in the change: The first wave deploys to a Region with a low number of requests to limit the possible impact of the first production deployment of the new change. The wave deploys to only one Availability Zone (or cell) at a time within that Region to cautiously deploy the change across the Region. The second wave then deploys to one Availability Zone (or cell) at a time in a Region with a high number of requests where it is highly likely that customers will exercise all the new code paths and where we get good validation of the changes. After we have higher confidence in the safety of the change from the initial pipeline waves’ deployments, we can deploy to more and more Regions in parallel in the same wave. For example, the previous sample prod pipeline deploys to three Regions in wave 3, then to up to 12 Regions in wave 4, then to the remaining Regions in wave 5. The exact number and choice of Regions in each of these waves and the number of waves in a service team’s pipeline depend on the individual service’s usage patterns and scale. The later waves in the pipeline still help us achieve our objective to prevent negative impact to multiple Availability Zones in the same Region. When a wave deploys to multiple Regions in parallel, it follows the same cautious rollout behavior for each Region that was used in the initial waves. Each step in the wave only deploys to a single Availability Zone or cell from each Region in the wave.

    (tags: automation ops devops amazon aws deployment waves az multi-region ci cd)

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Links for 2020-06-22

  • FlexBuffers | Hacker News

    Fairly decent discussion on various binary encoding formats, with or without schemata, and with or without zero-copy

    (tags: flatbuffers flexbuffers json encoding data formats file-formats avro protobuf zerocopy sbe schemas)

  • _Measurement-Based Evaluation Of Google/Apple Exposure Notification API For Proximity Detection In A Commuter Bus_

    Douglas J. Leith, Stephen Farrell School of Computer Science & Statistics, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland 15th June 2020: ‘We report on the results of a measurement study carried out on a commuter bus in Dublin, Ireland using the Google/Apple Exposure Notification (GAEN) API. Measurements were collected between 60 pairs of handset locations and are publicly available. We find that the attenuation level reported by the GAEN API need not increase with distance between handsets, consistent with there being a complex radio environment inside a bus caused by the metal-rich environment. Changing the people holding a pair of handsets, with the location of the handsets otherwise remaining unchanged, can cause variations of ±10dB in the attenuation level reported by the GAEN API. Applying the rule used by the Swiss Covid-19 contact tracing app to trigger an exposure notification to our bus measurements we find that no exposure notifications would have been triggered despite the fact that all pairs of handsets were within 2m of one another for at least 15 minutes. Applying an alternative threshold-based exposure notification rule can somewhat improve performance to a detection rate of 5% when an exposure duration threshold of 15 minutes is used, increasing to 8% when the exposure duration threshold is reduced to 10 minutes. Stratifying the data by distance between pairs of handsets indicates that there is only a weak dependence of detection rate on distance.’

    (tags: papers bluetooth contact-tracing exposure-notification covid-19 accuracy testing buses radio gaen mobile)

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Links for 2020-06-18

  • This War of Mine to be added to school reading list in Poland

    This War of Mine, which was first released in 2014, drew on the experiences of the Bosnian people during the Siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s. It won widespread acclaim for its realistic portrayal of the human cost of war, and had sold more than 4.5 million units in April 2019. The game will be included in the Polish reading list for the 2020/21 academic year, but will only be available to students aged 18 and above due to its age rating in the country. It will be recommended for those studying sociology, ethics, philosophy, and history, and will be available to students of those subjects for free.

    (tags: war history bosnia sarajevo games gaming poland school)

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Links for 2020-06-17

  • _Opportunistic Paper about COVID-19 using my Favorite Theoretical Approach_

    lol science: Mason Porter on Twitter: “I am here to help.”

    _Opportunistic Paper about COVID-19 using my Favorite Theoretical Approach_ Abstract: COVID-19 is a disease that is killing a lot of people. It really sucks. To help save the world (or at least add to my publication list), I examine the dynamics of COVID-19 transmission using my favorite theoretical approach, whether or not there is any justification or relevance for it. I do some curve fitting with previous data, and my theory seems to match the data pretty well (at least for some parameter values). I also find some evidence for universality, which may be interesting from the perspective of fundamental theory. A more practical application of my work is its influence on the signal-to-noise ratio of COVID-19 papers on preprint servers. I am here to help.

    (tags: funny papers preprints science physicists pet-theory latex argh)

  • “Internet folklorist” tracks down the origins of a “heart shaped honeycomb” meme

    A South African beekeeper called Brian Fanner created it by routing a heart-shaped pattern into the lid of a hive:

    ‘The things that come up are really funny from how bees have “artistic sensibilities” to bees creating that shape “to increase airflow”. I’ve seen companies using it in their websites and so many claiming it came out of their hive somewhere in the world. I used this board, routed in the slots… a rush job I’ll admit… waxed in some foundation strips into the slots and screwed inside a deep langstroth hive lid and stuck it on the hive. The bees made do best they could… The lines are slots into which a foundation wax with the comb pattern on it can be placed…secured with melted beeswax. Normally…a sheet…to guide the bees as to where to build. So they just come across this weird pattern of foundation strip and start building onto it. After that they just fill it out best they can. It’s a simple manipulation. The bees are Capensis. The honey was most likely early season succulent type plant called a ‘vygie’. I called the image ‘a sweet heart’ dedicated to my wife…per the very first post of it on my Facebook page in 2013.’

    (tags: beekeeping hives honey honeycomb history folklore facebook social-media brian-fanner bees)

  • A Shared File System for Your Lambda Functions

    AWS Lambda can now attach an EFS NFS filesystem. This is pretty cool tbh

    (tags: aws serverless lambda storage efs nfs ops)

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Links for 2020-06-16

  • Umarell

    I love this:

    Umarell (Italian pronunciation: [uma?r?l?]; modern revisitation of the Bolognese dialect word umarèl [uma?r??l]) is a term popular in Bologna referring specifically to men of retirement age who pass the time watching construction sites, especially roadworks – stereotypically with hands clasped behind their back and offering unwanted advice.[1]
    (via Mltshp)

    (tags: via:mltshp umarell building construction building-sites work spectators old funny words italian bologna)

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Links for 2020-06-13

  • The hidden patterns behind the Covid-19 map of Dublin

    Excellent article analyzing COVID-19 patterns here:

    The four new classes defined by Robert Reich might also apply to Ireland. The results of the analysis of Dublin infection cases from the HSE map which show the so-called Remotes are definitely present in the Irish society as the economic wealth is clearly related to chances of being infected. Recently published information shows that 1030 of Covid-19 deaths had happened inside of the nursing homes and other facilities caring for older. This represents 63% of total deaths from Covid-19 in Ireland and suggests that the so-called Forgotten class has suffered the most from the mismanaged public health policy which disregarded their specific life situation. The exact structure and divisions between the new classes of the Irish society in the new Covid-19 world can only be known with the extensive research and dissemination of data related to Covid-19 infections and deaths. It is crucial to abandon the current practices of omitting the data. We must apply the principles developed by John Snow in the 19th century which aim to collect and disseminate as much data as possible. This is the only way we will be able to develop the public health policy which will defeat the virus without scarifying the wellbeing of those who lack the privilege of having high economic and social status.

    (tags: covid-19 mapping society ireland dublin class)

  • Interpreting Covid-19 Test Results: A Bayesian Approach

    This is very clever — it hadn’t occurred to me at all, but of course it makes sense. tl;dr: prevalence, the prevailing rate of infection in the community, is a key factor in Covid-19 testing.

    a brief tutorial on Covid-19 testing, with an emphasis on a Bayesian approach. After presenting the basics, we’ll walk through four confusing Covid-19 testing scenarios, just to give you a feel for the kinds of pickles we often find ourselves in.

    (tags: prevalence covid-19 bayes bayesian statistics testing)

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Links for 2020-06-09

  • How We Solved the Worst Minigame in Zelda’s History

    a lovely bit of RNG hacking in this YouTube speedrun vid

    (tags: videos youtube rng prng hacks cool via:reddit)

  • The Climate Case for a Jobs Guarantee

    Kim Stanley Robinson on a Jobs Guarantee:

    It would mean that governments would set a higher minimum wage than ever before, and if that minimum were a true living wage, private enterprise would have to match it to attract workers. And then, suddenly, everyone would be both employed and making a decent living. Private enterprises would therefore have more prosperous customers, and all would then rise in a virtuous cycle. Given the immense stresses that climate change is sure to bring, finding useful work for people would not be a problem. There will be a lot to do. Recall that 5% unemployment is often said to be the “natural” level, such that markets get nervous when the jobless rate goes lower than that. Unemployment at 5% is said to create “wage pressure,” which it definitely does, because millions of people are thereby living in fear and will take any job they can get, even ones that don’t pay enough for a secure life. The phrase “wage pressure” is yet another indication of how markets exert power to keep power. In this context, a Job Guarantee would erase wage pressure (meaning fear and misery), and the less fearful and more productive populace that resulted might thrive in a feeling of security.

    (tags: jobs work unemployment economics economy qe future ksr scifi climate-change)

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