|<<>>|11 of 56 Show listMobile Mode

Links and Notes for September 17th, 2021

Published by marco on

Below are links to articles, highlighted passages[1], and occasional annotations[2] for the week ending on the date in the title, enriching the raw data from Instapaper Likes and Twitter. They are intentionally succinct, else they’d be articles and probably end up in the gigantic backlog of unpublished drafts. YMMV.

[1] Emphases are added, unless otherwise noted.
[2] Annotations are only lightly edited.

Table of Contents

COVID-19

Four year old dies from COVID-19 in Texas as cases in children skyrocket across the US by Alex Findijs (WSWS)

“Similar thoughts were expressed by Dr. Bryan Kornreich, a pediatrician from Frederick County in Virginia. Kornreich explained to WUSA9 that there has been a surge in pediatric COVID infections since schools opened, and that, “I’m worried we’re just going to run out of COVID tests, because now the number of tests we’re going through a day, it can’t be sustained… and the manufacturer can’t keep up with the demand.”


A Backgrounder on the Proposed OSHA Vaccination Mandate and Likely Legal Challenges by Jonathan H.. Adler (Reason)

“One challenge for OSHA may be in demonstrating that the continuing spread of COVID-19 poses a grave threat to employees in covered workplaces. For starters, OSHA will likely have to focus on unvaccinated workers, because it would be hard to argue that COVID poses a “grave danger” to vaccinated employees. I expect it will also argue that the presence of unvaccinated employees is the source of that grave danger. (Note, however, that the risk to workers comes from their own behavior or from other workers is not a problem, as that’s often the case with risks controlled by OSHA rules.)”
“Not only must the ETS focus on a grave danger to employees at the workplace, it must also be “necessary” to reduce that risk. Here, too, I could see OSHA having some problems. As described by the White House, the ETS will require employers to mandate vaccination or conduct testing. But what if employees work remotely? What if they are not coming into contact with other, potentially unvaccinated, employees? Can it really be said that a workplace vaccinate-or-test requirement is “necessary” to control the risk of workplace spread to people who are not in the workplace?”

Economy & Finance

Be Careful With Your Financial Influence by Matt Levine (Bloomberg)

“By the way, surely Keith Gill has done more to teach ordinary people about the financial system than every other “financial wellness educator” in the history of the world combined? Like GameStop was very much a teachable moment, in a way that whatever In Good Company was up to probably was not. (Do you know what In Good Company was up to?) The guy explained how stock trading works to Congress. Ooh, he violated a social-media policy, who cares.”
I am a long-time skeptic of “financial literacy” education, which consists essentially of giving people quizzes about compound interest as a substitute for a decent social safety net. At Axios yesterday Felix Salmon had a very good column skewering “the financial literacy industrial complex,” and I recommend that you read it. He writes: “The main reason that teens get targeted is they’re a captive audience for financial education campaigns, many of which come with branding from large financial services companies.””
“The purest possible mechanism of “financial literacy” is (1) a banker comes to your school, (2) the banker tells you that to have a good life you need to start depositing money in the bank, (3) your teacher nods approvingly, (4) you believe them and deposit money in the bank and (5) the bank steals it.”
“[…] technically the rule says “a security,” not “a penny stock.” And while the over-the-counter stock market is basically a place to fleece retail investors with penny stocks, the over-the-counter bond market is just the bond market. If you buy a corporate bond or an asset-backed security, you do it over the counter, based on a dealer quote. “Securities that trade on the OTC market are primarily owned by retail investors,” says the SEC release updating Rule 15c2-11, which is just not at all true! It is true of stocks that trade OTC, but those are small; the bond market is very big, very institutional, and very over-the-counter.


Concerns over financial stability behind Beijing’s moves against Alibaba by Nick Beams (WSWS)

“There are undoubtedly political considerations in the moves against the high-tech and financial moguls, not the least being Xi’s desire to clip the wings of some of the richest individuals in China, all of them multi-billionaires, in order that their wealth and international financial connections not become the basis for a political challenge to the ruling CCP.


Boards Have to Pay Attention by Matt Levine (Bloomberg)

“I don’t want to suggest that public stock markets are perfect, but they are, in some sense, perfected. A lot of the large-scale problems are solved, and very smart people compete fiercely to execute trades 1 millisecond faster than each other. You can trade as much stock as you want, basically instantaneously and basically for free, and even the problem of picking which stocks to buy is so thoroughly analyzed at this point that lots of people just index.”
“[…] stock with a low multiple but high earnings growth —“both a growth stock and a value stock” —will be somewhere in the middle and will have some weight in both the growth and value indexes. Meanwhile a stock with a high multiple but low earnings growth —“neither a growth stock nor a value stock” —will be treated about the same.”
“I dunno, man. I think *finance* draws in more facts about the world than set-theoretic geometry does. Maybe the parts are worth more than the whole because more people can pay $1 for 1/100,000,000th of the thing than can pay $10 million for the whole thing. Maybe the parts are worth more than the whole because it’s a pump-and-dump where people can trade a tiny fraction back and forth at increasing prices, while you can’t print big trades on the whole thing.”


Don’t Buy the Bad Data by Matt Levine (Bloomberg)

“I think that this is a subtle insider trading case, and the SEC was clever to pursue it and to correctly identify the bad guy (App Annie, which lied to hedge funds to sell illegal data, not the hedge funds, which were deceived and bought the data). But it is not obvious. And I suppose that if you are a hedge fund lawyer, now you are on notice that you should be asking your alternative data providers some tougher questions.
“Robinhood Markets Inc., the go-to trading app for young investors, wants its user base to get even younger. The digital brokerage is kicking off a nationwide marketing campaign Wednesday that is designed to turn more college students into Robinhood customers. Robinhood will give students who sign up for brokerage accounts using their school email address $15 to trade, and enter them into a $20,000 giveaway. Robinhood executives will tour campuses of community colleges and historically black colleges and universities this fall.”

Public Policy & Politics

The Met Gala: America’s elite celebrates death and destitution by Andre Damon (WSWS)

“This year’s Met Gala shows where social revolutions come from. The American oligarchy and affluentia, with greed, self-absorption and cluelessness feeding upon each other, use the occasion of mass death and economic destitution to throw a celebration of wealth and privilege. As Sophocles wrote long ago, “Evil appears as good in the minds of those whom the gods lead to destruction.”


Eviction filings in US spike in week following end of moratorium by Chase Lawrence (WSWS)

Rental assistance funds of $46.5 billion have been allocated, but the vast majority of the money has not been distributed. Treasury Department Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that she would begin to move funds from jurisdictions that have failed to distribute assistance by the end of September to ones that did. In other words, the Biden administration will allow poor renters in areas with unwilling local governments to be deprived of federal rental assistance.

“In a hearing on Friday, California Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters said state and local governments have only distributed 11 percent of the emergency rental assistance funds available. “There is no question that the funds are not reaching landlords and renters quickly or widely enough,” she meekly complained.”

“One of the major reasons for the failure to distribute the funds is resistance from landlords themselves who have exploited the landlord-friendly character of the measure, which gives them veto power over whether to accept it or not.

“The solution the Congressional Democrats advocate would be even more favorable to landlords. The Expediting Assistance to Renters and Landlords Act of 2021 bill, introduced by Waters, would allow landlords to directly apply for back-rent themselves, in what essentially amounts to a bailout of the landlords.

WTF are you talking about? Of course that’s how it should work. The landlords are a business whose customers are unable to pay. What benefit is there to give the money to the customers so that they can pay the landlords? You can argue that the landlords should get no money because they are rent-seekers, but that’s a completely different story. You can’t mix arguing that distribution didn’t work well (or barely at all) with “dismantle the whole capitalist system”. We’re talking about a fund that was there to bail out landlords, not renters.

“By contrast there is a vast governmental infrastructure for the various bailouts of the financial and corporate oligarchy, which has received trillions of dollars looted from the public treasury. This includes the bailouts following the 2008 global financial crash and many other “small” bailouts of individual industries, such as the airlines in 2001, as well as GM and Chrysler in 2009. The bipartisan CARES Act has funneled trillions more to the largest corporations, including purchases of their bad debts, and the Federal Reserve pumps $120 billion in virtual free credit into the financial markets every month .

“In other word, a well-oiled infrastructure exists for distributing aid to the ruling class, which has enriched itself during the pandemic, while tens of millions of people are being threatened with destitution and homelessness.

That’s an excellent point. That’s always the way it works, though, isn’t it? Money goes to money whereas those without have to jump through an order of magnitude more hoops.


Occupy Wall Street at 10: It Was Annoying, But It Changed the World by Doug Henwood (Jacobin)

“Nor was there any sense of how the larger world would be transformed along Occupy’s principles; there was no serious theory of social change circulating. Some participants saw the occupied parks as the new society in embryo, but it was hard to imagine how these autonomous zones would ever be able to feed themselves without the continued existence of money and supermarkets.
“The movements of the 1990s that culminated in Seattle were lively but never moved beyond a niche market. With Occupy, the idea of the 1 percent was suddenly on everyone’s mind. The problem is larger than the top 1 percent; among other things, percentiles 90 to 98, what might be thought of as the mass base for the ruling elite, must be contended with too. But shifting popular focus to the tiny sliver that owns and runs society was a major accomplishment.


Does America Hate the “Poorly Educated”? by Matt Taibbi (TK News)

“The explosive and uncomfortable message at the heart of The Tyranny of Meritocracy is the idea that the resulting political divide is now less about ideology than education. Sandel deserves credit for taking on a subject that almost no one in high society wants to hear about, let alone those in the academic world. Forget red versus blue: he shows the real gulf is between those who have diplomas, and those who don’t. The subtext is that people with the right degrees deserve to be rich, and have health insurance, and good schooling for their kids, and dignified work, while those who threw away their books after high school deserve failure, in the same way smokers deserve lung disease — especially if they make unsanctioned political choices.”
“Moreover, university graduates now dominate positions of influence in a way not seen for generations. If even in the early 1960s a fourth of all members of congress lacked a college degree, by the 2000s, 100% of all Senators and 95% of House members had one. Also, as Sandel notes, almost no one in a position of power in today’s United States knows what it means to have ever had a working class job. “In the U.S., about half of the labor force is employed in working class jobs, defined as manual labor, service industry, and clerical jobs,” he writes. “But fewer than 2 percent of the members of congress had such jobs before election.””

What percentage of America has a diploma? According to U.S. Census Bureau Releases New Educational Attainment Data (Census.gov), it’s about 40% (see the link for more details and breakdown by immigration background).

“He notes that two-thirds of the students at Harvard and Stanford come from the top fifth of the income scale, while “despite generous financial aid packages, fewer than 4 percent of Ivy League students come from the bottom fifth.””
“Similar studies in America also showed respondents had the most negative feelings of all about the less-educated. Unfortunately, “smart” in the last decades also began to mean different things to different sectors of American society. To politicians of the pre-Trump era, Wall Streeters were whip-smart experts. To the rest of America, they were depraved amoral scum who’d robbed the country and whose walls full of degrees only added to the insult.
“The public seethed even more to see that the supposedly genius-level intellects of bank executives mostly got used to ask pals in government to bail out their sociopathic, and often comically stupid, investment decisions.
“In other words, audiences correctly grasped that the stupidity of political debates on TV did not mean America’s actual politics were stupid. They just surmised the more substantive debates were being hidden from them, with the assent of the news media. This only increased their fury toward all of these groups.”
The other group sees class mobility as entirely or mostly a fiction, rages at being stuck sucking eggs in what they see as a rigged game, and has begun to disbelieve every message sent down at them from the credentialed experts above, even about things like vaccines.”


For Short-Staffed Employers, Prison Labor Is a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card by Erin Hatton (Jacobin)

“[…] reports also reveal another, more sinister response to the current labor shortage. Instead of improving job quality, some employers are hiring structurally vulnerable workers such as incarcerated and formerly incarcerated workers, or immigrant and foreign “guest workers” who cannot (or are significantly less able to) insist on higher wages and better benefits. So much for the automatic market mechanism that supposedly forces employers to improve jobs when workers are in short supply.
“The nearly five million Americans who are not in prison but are still entangled in the criminal justice system (via probation or parole) face similar forms of coercion. As University of California, Los Angeles legal scholar Noah Zatz and colleagues find, the formerly incarcerated can be required to maintain employment as a condition of their freedom. Thus, they labor under the threat of incarceration, which effectively compels them to accept and keep any job, no matter how degraded.
“Intentionally seeking out marginalized workers is a time-honored employer strategy to undermine worker solidarity, lower wages, and diminish labor standards. Indeed, corporate America went out of its way to help create many of the structures that produce populations of workers vulnerable to extreme forms of exploitation.
“Until we eliminate conditions of exceptional vulnerability for some worker populations, labor shortages will simply be an excuse to seek out more exploitable workers rather than improve jobs across the board. As ever, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.””


TV election debate in Germany: All candidates stand for herd immunity, mass layoffs and welfare cuts by Christian Vandreier (WSWS)

“Laschet demanded “creativity instead of regulations and bans.” He wants to speed up the approval process for construction projects and relieve companies of red tape—in other words, eliminate environmental and worker safety standards. Baerbock also presented climate policy as an opportunity for big business. Even the Financial Times, the authentic voice of European finance capital, noted with satisfaction the extent to which the Greens had submitted to the interests of business.
In the debate they sought to outdo one another in declarations of support for strengthening the Bundeswehr (armed forces) and implementing an aggressive foreign policy that, in the words of Green candidate Baerbock, “does not duck away.””


Dirty Work Shows the Toll Bad Jobs Take on the People Who Do Them by Alex N. Press (Jacobin)

“Press’s point is that many of the people who take these jobs do so because they are relatively powerless: they are undocumented, people of color, members of communities with few other opportunities to make a decent living. And on the rare occasions when abuse is revealed — at Abu Ghraib, for instance, or in prisons — it is the people lowest on the ladder who take the blame, while those overseeing the system, mandating abuse and directing it, remain untouched. It is inequality, violence, and unfairness all the way down.
“The high-tech killing conducted by drone operators happened not because targeted assassinations were essential to national security, Blomé told me, but because of the outsize influence of the military-industrial complex, a cabal of for-profit contractors and special interests that distorted America’s priorities and profited from its endless wars.
“Political leaders often follow the preferences of the rich and powerful: lobbyists, donors to political campaigns, employers in their home districts, friends in their social milieu. Short of revolution, working-class people’s best means of determining policy is through collective institutions — unions, for instance, not to mention an organized left that can push for radical change — that have been weakened by a decades-long offensive by those very same people. Even a massive show of force can prove powerless: lest we forget, millions of people in the United States marched against the Iraq War, to no immediate effect.”


Democrats Swoon Over George W. Bush, In Match Made in Hell by Matt Taibbi (TK News)

Bush by any rational measure was a hundred times the monster Trump was, his administration having created a machine for unrestrained violence and institutional bigotry that made us the shame of the world — imagine Stop-and-Frisk with drones — yet to the Beltway consensus, Bush at least represented an establishment legitimacy absent with Trump. Assassinate, kidnap, blacklist, torture, and invade, but do it within the framework of officialdom, and you’re suddenly less the villain.
The new Domestic War on Terror, which is afoot whether or not there’s ever a formal bill passed with that name, simply continues Bush’s concept, with “DVEs” (domestic violent extremists) inserted as the stand-in for “terrorists.” Of course, we can’t limit the scope of this new campaign to those guilty of actual violence, or even conspiracy to violence, since even in our times this would be a relatively small number of people that the current roster of federal alphabet soup agencies — DHS, FBI, ATF, etc. — would be more than equipped to handle.”
“The War on Terror was always above all a power grab, about the expansion of extralegal authority and secrecy for its own sake. Modern Democrats have seamlessly taken over the mission, because they’re now the same exact people the Bush Republicans were, only many times over more sanctimonious and insufferable.”


After 9/11, the US Tried to Force Its Will on the Rest of the World. It Failed. by Deepa Kumar (Jacobin)

“In place of the standard self-representation of the United States as a force of liberty and benevolence in international relations, the Trump administration marked a turn toward what has been called “illiberal hegemony.” Unlike his Republican predecessors, Trump did not operate through covert dog-whistle forms of racism; he threw away the whistle and adopted overt forms of racism consistent with that of the far right Islamophobic network. Moreover, if the neocons were liberal interventionists on steroids, as Stephen Walt claimed, Trump was a neocon on steroids minus a liberal human rights cover. Liberal imperial racism was replaced by blatant racism for a period.”
The key element of the Bush Doctrine was that it proclaimed the United States’ unilateral right to wage preemptive war — to attack another sovereign nation not because it directly threatened the United States but because it could potentially pose a threat. It gave the president discretion to determine what constituted a threat. Thus, if a nation “harbored terrorists,” developed weapons of mass destruction, or otherwise acted in ways that went against US interests, it would be subject to attack and invasion.”
“[…] there is enormous diversity of opinion in the Muslim world. Many Muslims disagree with American values as well as American policies, but that does not mean that they agree with bin Laden.
“It doesn’t occur to the likes of Nye, Albright, and Haass that it is for ordinary people in the Middle East and Central and South Asia to make decisions about their societies. This belief that the United States can and should shape the destinies of other nations is a central frame in the ideology of anti-Muslim racism. Self-determination does not enter their framework — and “benevolent supremacy” remains unquestioned.”


Twenty Years Ago, the Saudi Government Got Away With the Crime of the Century by Branko Marcetic (Jacobin)

There was more than enough evidence to warrant a comprehensive investigation, with the results released publicly — and, at minimum, serious diplomatic and even economic consequences for the House of Saud if their complicity was confirmed beyond doubt.”
“In the grand and utterly delusional plans Bush officials and pundits immediately drew up after September 11, just about every Middle Eastern state was listed as a future target for regime change or attack: Syria, Algeria, Libya, the Palestinian Authority, and, of course, Iraq and Iran. Saudi Arabia was never even mentioned, except as a reliable partner for Washington to pursue this madness.
“[…] intent on flexing US military muscle by toppling the Afghan government, Bush officials like Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld shamelessly courted the Saudi leadership, which soon cut ties with the Taliban, backed the US “war on terror,” and begrudgingly allowed the US military to use the country as a base for its attack, ironically one of the major issues that had animated bin Laden and his ilk to attack the United States to begin with.
“The war on terror and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq should never have happened, for reasons entirely unrelated to Saudi government culpability for the attacks: they were not only counterproductive and catastrophic but an immoral collective punishment of millions of innocent people for the sins of a few, the same twisted logic embraced by the terrorists Washington has spent this century hunting.


Day of the Planes: A 9/11 excerpt from ‘The Management of Savagery’ by Max Blumenthal (The Gray Zone)

“Through familiar, trustworthy faces like Rather, the American public was seeded with the mentality of interventionism and military unilateralism.”


Roaming Charges: Taxing Representations by Jeffrey St. Clair (CounterPunch)

The issue isn’t taxes but how the tax revenues are spent. Why support raising taxes on anyone, if the tax money goes to building a new generation of…nuclear weapons, aircraft carriers, F-35s, super-max prisons, river-killing dams or any of the other dangerous boondoggles Congress usually appropriates tax money to fund. Remember the “defense dividend” of Clinton time, heralding the end of the cold war, which ended up with the destruction of welfare and more B-2 bombers to annihilate an “enemy” that no longer existed?”
“According to Brown University’s Cost of War project, the cost of the interest alone on the Afghan war debt will reach $6.5 trillion by 2050–or $20,000 for each and every U.S. citizen. At this point, I think it’s safe to say that Ike’s farewell speech on the military industrial complex was taken less as a warning and more like an investment strategy for Wall Street and American corporations.
“ Until liberals understand that vaccination politics has an economic as well as political dimension, we’ll never bring the pandemic under control, assuming it can be brought under control. As hard as it may be to believe most of the unvaccinated don’t listen to Tucker Carlson’s nightly exploitations of COVID for political advantage and ratings. Most of the unvaccinated are the working poor, who have little experience in dealing with the American medico-pharma-insurance complex and the encounters they’ve had have been miserable, expensive and unsatisfying. Covid should have propelled National Health Care to the forefront of the political agenda. Instead, the Biden administration has chosen to empower the very system that has failed to provide basic health care to Americans for the past century. No wonder the poor are skeptical. It’s convenient to blame Murdoch, Trump, and the GOP for these failings, but the rot goes much deeper and closer to home than that. Take the profit out of human misery and you’ll get much closer to “healing” the country.”
“[…] if you want to understand the consequence of US foreign policy, consequences which are explicitly stated in Bin Laden’s fatwas. The US didn’t need a 9/11 event to justify what it had been doing for 50 yrs. People forget, or never wanted to know, that Clinton bombed Iraq once every three days over his 8-year term. They forget that the Patriot Act was pretty much already in place in the form of the Clinton era CounterTerrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. Bush and Cheney didn’t need 9/11 to do exactly what they did, internationally or domestically. Clinton had done the same, as had Poppy Bush, as had Reagan. The continuity of American Imperial policy has been uninterrupted since WW2. 9/11 was blowback to that very history.”
“Oil and coal companies have been writing environmental policies under administrations from both parties for decades, Monsanto hacks have run the Agriculture Department since the Clinton Administration approving one carcinogenic compound after another and this CDC official is ousted for “colluding” with the teacher’s union on safety in schools? No wonder we’re fucked as society.”


Roaming Charges: When the Whip Comes Down by Jeffrey St. Clair (CounterPunch)

“In its drive to expand offshore oil drilling, the Biden administration has declared that the IPCC climate change report “does not present sufficient cause” to halt its plan open 82 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico to oil companies.”

Journalism & Media

Meet Josiah Zayner, America’s Most Censored Person by Matt Taibbi (TK News)

“In modern capitalism, a whole galaxy of decisions that once upon a time would have rested solely with regulatory agencies, licensing boards, or the courts may now be addressed in one stroke by the inaccessible executives of tech oligopolies.

“That dynamic is changing, and the remote unsupervised farm is fast being replaced by a vast, searchable electronic grid. Before, if you wanted to gobble mushrooms and invent Mormonism, who could stop you? Now we’ve got a class of experts who think even enlightened self-abuse can’t be tolerated on their watch.

““That’s the other crazy thing,” Josiah says. “I have a PhD in this stuff from the University of Chicago. So it’s really weird when people point and say, the experts don’t like this. Technically, am I not one of the experts? Don’t I get a say?””


The Indictment of Hillary Clinton’s Lawyer is an Indictment of the Russiagate Wing of U.S. Media by Glenn Greenwald (SubStack)

“Look at the blatant scam that happened here. Both Hillary and Jake Sullivan were pretending that they had just learned about this shocking story from Slate when, in fact, it was Hillary’s own lawyers and researchers who had spent weeks pushing the story to both the FBI and friendly journalists like Foer. In other words, it was Hillary and her team who had manufactured the hoax, then pretended that — like everyone else — they were just learning about it, and believing it to be true, because a media outlet to which they had fed the false story had just published it.”
Foer knew that it was the Hillary campaign planting the story, but did not bother to disclose that in his story. It was Hillary’s own campaign and its operatives who concocted the story at the time she and Jake Sullivan pretended that it was Slate which uncovered it. And Hillary’s own lawyer was trying to convince the FBI to investigate the fake connection while concealing from them that he was doing so on behalf of Hillary’s campaign.”

Science & Nature

Recent Ebola outbreak emerged from someone infected 5 years earlier by John Timmer (Ars Technica)

“A large international research group released a paper today suggesting that Ebola viruses can emerge from five years of dormancy to trigger a new outbreak of infections. While this isn’t the first instance in which Ebola re-emerged from a previously infected individual, the new results extend the timeframe of risk substantially.

“At present, we have little idea how and where the virus persists in the human body. But there are now tens of thousands of people who have survived previous infections, so it’s an area where more research is urgently needed.

“The situation may be changing, however, as two vaccines against Ebola have recently been approved for use, and others are in testing; they have been deployed to help contain outbreaks over the last few years. Along with changing the public health situation in Africa, these vaccines may begin to shift the social perception of those infected, as well.”


The Messy Truth About Carbon Footprints by Sami Grover (Undark)

“For far too long, media discussions around climate change have focused primarily on the individual scale. And too often, those discussions have shifted attention away from holding the powerful to account. Say one word about the need to reduce carbon emissions or divest from fossil fuels, and you’ll soon be met with a question about how you traveled to work today, or where the electricity powering your computer comes from. And if you are just starting out on the journey to climate awareness, chances are you’ve received more advice on changing your diet or refusing straws than you have on activism, advocacy, or organizing. In other words, you’ve been told how to contribute less to the problem, but not necessarily how you can be most effective in actually fixing it.
“[…] we can build a diverse movement that accepts that few of us can do everything, but that all of us can do something. Together, we can move forward with the recognition that each of us is working — however imperfectly — toward a shared common goal.”
“In so doing, remember to cut yourself, and those around you, some slack. We are not each on an individual journey to slash our footprint to zero. We are on a collective mission to shift the only true footprint that matters: that of society as a whole.


Beware Berkson’s Paradox by Freddie DeBoer (SubStack)

“[…] in many scenarios we can’t have data before selection; if you’re a college administrator you only have data from your own students, and not from those who don’t enroll, and anyway “college GPA” is not a variable that exists for people who don’t go to college. This is one of the tricky elements of dealing with this kind of problem, asking yourself “Am I really interested only in the relationship within my sample, or am I in any sense extrapolating to the broader population?””
“But what does that really tell us, given what we know about the vagaries of sampling in such a scenario? I would be very careful when drawing inferences from data with so many selection effects/cutpoints. In general I suggest we all think about basal rates, cutpoints, and excluded portions of sampled populations as we continue to stumble our way through this pandemic.”


Fossil Fuel Capitalism Is Cutting Our Lives Short by Eleanor Salter (Tribune)

“[…] the harms of air pollution are not evenly measured out per global citizen. Instead, industrialising parts of the developing world bear the brunt of the damages. For example, AQLI estimates that Londoners are losing a few months of life on average. Meanwhile, on the Indo-Gangetic plains of Northern India (population 480 million, including Delhi and Kolkata), inhabitants are predicted to die over nine years early if 2019 pollution levels persist. These devastating statistics are the reality of life and death under global fossil capitalism.”
The report celebrates China’s accomplishments since they declared ‘war on pollution’ in 2014: particulate pollution dropped by 29 percent between 2013 and 2019. These gains account for three quarters of the reductions in air pollution across the world. Although poor air quality still robs 2.6 years of life off the average Chinese citizen, strong policies such as restrictions on coal-fired power plants, iron and steel making, and numbers of cars in cities has made strides forward.”
“Transforming toxic air around the globe requires urgent action and—in the first instance—a restructuring of climate finance to secure support for the Global South. These countries are most dependent on fossil fuels and most fatally impacted by both climate breakdown and dirty air. An inhabitable earth is within grasp, with clean air so all of us can live longer and healthier lives.”

Art & Literature

Space by Maria (Crooked Timber)

“Counting backwards, slowed exhalations, body-scan, imagining being in the sea and slipping under, imagining being an albatross flying for weeks, forgetting how land smells, half asleep and instinctively surfing currents of wind. Nope. Still awake, failing to sleep. Still addled, raddled, unable to generate sufficient nothingness to swoop down into even as, swooping, you become not-one-thing and fizz out into air. Still here in this bed, this room, this house, hoping for relief that will almost certainly not come.

This is a wonderful description of insomnia. Poor Maria must be intimately familiar with it.

Programming

The latency of making a coffee cup (Oren Eini)

“In the same manner, when I see people trying to hide (RPC, database calls, etc) behind an abstraction layer, I know that it will almost always end in tears. Because if you have what looks like a cheap function call go to the store for you, the end result is that you have to wait a lot of time for your coffee. Maybe enough to (gasp) not even have coffee.”


Why Authorization is Hard by Sam Scott (Oso)

“I come back to my original claim that the three hardest problems in authorization are:”
  1. Enforcement, which comes down to separation of concerns
  2. Decision architecture, which comes down to how you bring together authorization logic and the data it depends on
  3. Modeling, which comes down to a tension between abstract patterns and the details of your application
“While these are hard problems, it’s great to see that we’ve gone from “Isn’t this a solved problem?” to “What’s the best way to solve them?””