By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
More politics in a bit; I got wrapped round the axle reading up on the Boeing story. It’s still developing! –lambert UPDATE Done!
“Why the US–China trade war spells disaster for the Amazon” [Nature (Allan)]. “We forecast that a surge of tropical deforestation could occur as a result of the fresh demand being placed on China’s other major suppliers to provide up to 37.6 million tonnes of the [soya beans] (that is how much China imported from the United States in 2016). Already, two decades of growth in the global market for soya has led to large-scale deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.”
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune
Harris: “The Human Costs Of Kamala Harris’ War On Truancy” [HuffPo]. “[Cheree] Peoples had been arrested for her daughter [Shayla’s] spotty school attendance record under a truancy law that then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris had personally championed in the state legislature…. [Peoples] has a soft manner and voice and has dedicated most of her adult life to caring for Shayla — who has lived with sickle cell anemia, a serious genetic illness that causes her acute pain and requires frequent hospitalization and medical procedures, since birth. Shayla frequently missed school because she was in too much pain to leave the house or was hospitalized for long-term care. Her school was aware of these circumstances; it had records on file from the regional children’s hospital explaining that Shayla’s condition would necessitate unpredictable absences and special educational accommodations.” • Watch out for those pot-smoking joy seeker DAs. They turn on you.
O’Rourke (1): “Beto O’Rourke Hires Former Obama Aide as Campaign Manager” [New York Times]. “Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, a data expert who was Mr. Obama’s deputy campaign manager in 2012, said in an interview Monday that she was going to work for the 46-year-old former Texas congressman because he represents ‘a new generation of leadership I think we need.’… Ms. O’Malley Dillon, who had been working on a voter data project for the Democratic National Committee… said she had not planned to get involved this early in the 2020 race but said she was moved by Mr. O’Rourke’s message.” • ThisDNC voter project….
O’Rourke (2): “The Politics of Beto and Amy O’Rourke’s Marriage” [WaPo]. “And then there were the pranks: the remote-controlled cockroach in the kitchen, the “Psycho”-style scares in the shower. One time, according to a friend, Beto collected an especially verdant turd from one of their kids’ diapers and put it in a bowl, telling Amy it was avocado. (Neither would confirm this, though Beto did allow it sounded like something he’d do.)” • Playful! Reminds me of Bush the Younger, who exploded frogs with firecrackers.
Sanders: “The Liberal Case Against Bernie” [Eric Alterman, The Nation]. “A Sanders nomination would, I fear, deliver the country to Trump. It would depress turnout among all the groups I mentioned; increase support for the likely spoiler in the race, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz; and keep a significant number of swing voters in Trump’s column. Additionally, some of the moms and grandmas who make up the backbone of the #Resistance told researcher Theda Skocpol that, owing to Sanders’s harsh treatment of Clinton in the 2016 election, they might sit out 2020 if he’s the nominee.” • Lol. I knew all that #Resistance talk about “unity” was bullshit.
Trump: “Trump’s Approval Rating Is Incredibly Steady. Is That Weird Or The New Normal?” [FiveThirtyEight]. “Trump’s approval rating has the least variation of any post-World War II president. Granted, Trump hasn’t yet served a full term, but changes in his approval rating have been remarkably small…. It could have everything to do with personality. Lara Brown, the director of the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University, said that the small movement we see in Trump and Obama’s approval ratings ‘may be the ultimate expression of the personalization of the presidency.’ That is, loyalty to the president rather than loyalty to the party could be driving the intensely polarized views of the latest presidents.” • “And Obama.” Another way of saying “personalization of the presidency” is “authoritarian followership.” And as we’ve seen with RussiaGate, that’s not confined to conservatives.
Yang: “The Trailer: 2020 has its candidate for people who hate politicians” [WaPo]. “The campaign is not lackadaisical. Yang has staff in early states, takes meetings with local Democratic leaders and gets a seat at the table at Democratic events….’When people start talking about the happy talk about record GDP, well, what good is record GDP?’ he asked. ‘People are literally dying younger and dying of despair in many cases. They talk about the unemployment rate being at a record low, or they say it’s near record lows. But what that masks is that the labor force participation rate is at 63.2 percent in the United States right now, which is the same levels as Ecuador and Costa Rica.'”
“NBC News poll: Americans split on who will win in 2020” [NBC]. “According to the poll, most Americans believe that it will not matter to the candidate’s chances if the Democratic nominee is a woman (65 percent) or is nonwhite (69 percent). This feeling is shared uniformly across partisans and independents. Only about a quarter of Democrats (22 percent) believe that nominating a woman for president will help their party’s chances of winning. A similar percentage of Democrats (21 percent) believe that nominating a nonwhite candidate will help them take back the White House in 2020.” • Obviously, it’s important to double down on identity politics. Voters just don’t get it.
“Republicans May Find They Have Become The Boy Who Cried ‘Socialism'” [HuffPo]. “‘This socialism fearmongering smells like desperation,’ said Jared Bernstein, once the top economist for former Vice President Joe Biden. ‘Does it work anymore? I don’t think so.'” • They called Obama a socialist…..
“Twitter Isn’t Anything Like Meat Space: The Democratic Primary Twitter” [Mike the Mad Biologist]. “[I]f left-ish Twitter were to be believed, Sanders and Biden shouldn’t be getting any black support, whereas the reality is that black voters are supporting them at the same rate as everyone else. Mind you, just because an opinion is on Twitter doesn’t mean its bad–I remember in the run-up to the Iraq War being in the minority, and I don’t think we were wrong. Still, when someone claims to speak for a group of people, it should probably be taken with a grain, if not a boulder of salt. ….Twitter is great for finding diverse voices; it’s usually not representative at all of the actual popularity of those voices.” • Very true.
“Judicial Watch Sues for Records of Communication Between James Clapper, John Brennan and CNN” [Judicial Watch], “Judicial Watch announced today it has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) seeking records of communications between former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan and CNN around the time the Clinton-Democrat National Committee Trump dossier was being pitched to key media outlets… Judicial Watch is also seeking records of communications between Clapper and Obama CIA Director John Brennan regarding the dossier , which was authored by former British spy and FBI payee Christopher Steele.” • Payback begins. And speaking of payback–
— Sara A. Carter (@SaraCarterDC) March 28, 2019
I don’t think laundering oppo into FISA warrants is a good idea, so I would like to know how it happened, and who signed off on it.
— The Democrats (@TheDemocrats) March 27, 2019
Our Famously Free Press
“Why Losing Our Newspapers Is Breaking Our Politics” [Scientific American]. “We then measured the percentage of votes cast for the Democratic and Republican candidates for president and Senate in every American county, allowing us to compare the level of split-ticketing in newspaper closure counties to the level in areas that had not experienced a closure. We used a procedure called genetic matching to construct a set of 77 comparison counties. These counties were statistically indistinguishable from the counties that did experience a newspaper closure on a host of important variables: population, income, education, broadband penetration, racial demographics, and more. : in 2018, the U.S. House races in Minnesota’s 1st district, Utah’s 4th district and Illinois’s 13th district were all decided by less than that margin.”
Realignment and Legitimacy
AZ: “A paint-by-number portrait of Arizona’s nebulous independent voter” [The Sentinel (Arizona Slim)]. “[I]ndependents often vote sporadically, showing up at the polls in smaller percentages than voters in the two major parties to perhaps largely vote Democratic one election, and a different gaggle of independent voters perhaps largely voting Republican in the next election. And, so it goes. The only candidates for whom independent voters aren’t voting? Fellow independents, but that’s not necessarily by choice. Election laws written by the two major parties take various formats around the nation, with Arizona largely keeping independents off the ballot due to prohibitively high numbers of petition signatures required for ballot access (independents must secure versus Rs and Ds)…. [T]he prevailing statement captured in focus groups for the Morrison Institute study on independent voters still resonates today: ‘We’re not a party. We’re a mindset.’ There are still some researchers who believe there really is no such thing as ‘independent voters.’ But independents are beginning to claim space in the mind of many numbers-savvy campaigns of Democrats and Republicans alike in Arizona.””
AZ: “Dems see Arizona desert blooming blue” [The Hill]. “Both Democrats and Republicans have added new voters at about the same rate in recent decades. Republicans held a voter registration edge of about 111,000 people in 2000, when about 2.1 million people were registered to vote. Today, among Arizona’s 3.8 million voters, the GOP has a 140,000-voter advantage. But the number of voters who do not align with a party has skyrocketed, from just 382,000 in 2000 to 1.2 million today. While independents once skewed toward Republicans, in 2018 those voters broke toward Sinema by 3 percentage points.” • Sinema who just voted against the Green New Deal…
“Shining a light on presidential libraries — the unrenowned pay-to-play scandal” [Open Secrets]. “As they’ve grown in size — and cost — oversight measures haven’t kept up, making presidential libraries one of the best avenues for wealthy donors to stealthily gain influence with a sitting president…. Though the Obama Foundation lists its donors — sixty-eight donors have given more than $1 million according to its website — numbers are given in ranges, actual amounts are unknown and no information is given about each donor. Additionally, the foundation has accepted several large contributions from donor advised funds such as Fidelity Charitable, obscuring the true source of the contribution.” • I’m shocked.
“What Americans Think About Reparations And Other Race-Related Questions”” [FiveThirtyEight]. “Reparations: A July 2018 survey from the left-leaning Data for Progress found that 26 percent of Americans supported some kind of compensation or cash benefits for the descendants of slaves. A May 2016 Marist survey also found that 26 percent of Americans said the U.S. should pay reparations as “a way to make up for the harm caused by slavery and other forms of racial discrimination.'”
“Reparations: Democrats renew debate over how to heal the legacy of slavery” [Guardian]. “As the field of candidates continues to expand, at least four in the current crop have signaled some degree of support for reparations. It marks a significant contrast to previous Democratic campaign cycles, as both Hillary Clinton and the country’s first African American president, Barack Obama, voiced explicit opposition…. [Jesse Jackson] describes reparations as part of the final step in ‘four stages of struggle.’ ‘We say stage one is fighting legal slavery, stage two is fighting legal Jim Crow, stage three is the right to vote, and the fourth stage is , industry and technology. We are early in the morning in this phase.'” • Hmm.
GDP, Q4 2018: “The fourth quarter was a solid one, coming in at a revised and as-expected 2.2 percent annual rate” [Econoday]. “And leading the strength was, despite a very weak December for retail sales, consumer spending that rose at an annual 2.5 percent rate and showed favorable and steady balance between services and goods, both durable and non-durable…. What is surprising in today’s report is the GDP price index which was revised 1 tenth lower to a final 1.7 percent, a result none of Econoday’s panel expected. This is a very subdued reading and underscores the general lack of global inflation right now. For policy, today’s results are upbeat, that a quarter which looked dangerously weak at times came in very well and one that points to solid momentum going into the first quarter.”
Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index, March 2019: “The year-end slump seems to be over for the Kansas City Fed’s manufacturing sample” [Econoday]. “On net, this report is positive and joins an emerging group, that also includes the Philly Fed, reporting improved activity.”
Jobless Claims, week of March 23, 2019: “easily beat expectations” [Econoday]. “February’s painful and abrupt slowing in nonfarm growth…. has raised the question whether the economy’s central strength — the labor market — had suddenly turned south. But jobless claims, though up-and-down and after an unfavorable shift earlier in the year, are back at very low levels that are consistent with strong employment growth.”
Pending Home Sales Index, February 2019: “After surging suddenly in January, the pending home sales index for February edged lower as expected” [Econoday]. “Housing is always the most volatile of any economic data and stepping back for a longer look points, after a year-long slump, to a rising curve.”
Corporate Profits, Q4 2018: Rose year-on-year [Econoday]. “Taxes on corporate income…. fell 29.7 percent year-on-year in a reading that offers a central measurement of the 2018 corporate tax cut.”
Banks: “Fear for Barclays jobs as Tim Throsby disappears” [eFinancialCareers]. “In the two years since Throsby became CEO of Barclays’ investment bank, the business has been on a hiring binge…. Throsby’s aspiration was to achieve a 10% return equity at Barclays’ investment bank. The hope was that all those hires, all that risk taking, and all that new capital would drive higher revenues and that these in turn would feed through to higher returns. Fast forward sixteen months and the divisional return on equity at Barclays’ investment bank is still just 7.1%. Equities revenues were up 29% on 2016 last year, but – after all that hiring – fixed income currencies and commodities revenues were down 18%…. In his statement today on Throsby’s exit, Barclays’ CEO Jes Staley said the bank needs, ‘a more granular execution focus’ on the corporate and investment bank if it’s to drive returns above the cost of capital.” • “A more granular execution focus.” Brilliant!
Manufacturing: “Boeing to make safety feature standard on 737 Max planes” [The Hill]. • That there’s even a headline like this… It’s not a good look, is it?
Manufacturing: “Lack of redundancies on Boeing 737 MAX system baffles some involved in developing the jet” [Seattle Times]. Another blockbuster: “Boeing has long embraced the power of redundancy to protect its jets and their passengers from a range of potential disruptions, from electrical faults to lightning strikes. The company typically uses two or even three separate components as fail-safes for crucial tasks to reduce the possibility of a disastrous failure. So even some of the people who have worked on Boeing’s new 737 MAX airplane were baffled to learn that the company had designed an automated safety system that abandoned the principles of component redundancy, ultimately entrusting the automated decision-making to just one sensor — a type of sensor that was known to fail. Boeing’s rival, Airbus, has typically depended on three such sensors. ‘,’ said one former Boeing engineer who worked on the MAX, who requested anonymity to speak frankly about the program in an interview with The Seattle Times. ‘That is just a huge system engineering oversight. To just have missed it, I can’t imagine how.'” • Presumably, the lawsuits will uncover this (unless Boeing decides to get out front of this and clean house, which seems unlikely). And speaking of that single sensor–
Manufacturing: 737MAXArticle.pdf – Google (PDF) [Greg Travis]. “That no one who wrote the MCAS software for the 737 MAX
seems to have even raised the issue of using multiple inputs, including the opposite angle of attack sensor, in the computer’s determination of an impending stall is mind-blowing. As a lifetime member of the software development fraternity, I don’t know what toxic combination of inexperience, hubris, or lack of cultural understanding led to this. But I do know that it’s indicative of a much deeper and much more troubling problem. The people who wrote the code for the original MCAS system were obviously terribly far out of their league and did not know it. How can we possibly think they can implement a software fix, much less give us any comfort whatsoever that the rest of the flight management software, which is ultimately in ultimate control of the aircraft, has any fidelity at all?” • Good point. This is a long article, but written in layperson’s terms and very interesting. I would be interested to know what our pilots think of it.
Manufacturing: “Software Won’t Fix Boeing’s ‘Faulty’ Airframe” [EE Times]. “The saga of Boeing’s 737 MAX serves as a case study in engineering incompetence, and in engineering ethics – or the lack thereof… The Boeing 737 MAX tragedies also recall the engineering decisions that led to the shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986 and the Apollo 1 fire in 1967. Boeing’s haste in responding to the Airbus challenge reminds Travis and others of the group-think curse called “Go Fever” during Project Apollo that eventually killed the crew of Apollo 1 during a launchpad simulation. In that case, crew safety was sacrificed in the name of schedule.”
Business as usual?
Boeing is trying hard — very hard — to present itself as unfazed by the crisis that surrounds the companyhttps://t.co/JATvYJaKC9
📷 A tightly-managed media tour of Boeing's Washington factory where the 737 MAX plane is made pic.twitter.com/RiFYi0ecn3
— AFP news agency (@AFP) March 28, 2019
Retail: “The Enormous Numbers Behind Amazon’s Market Reach” [Bloomberg]. “Perhaps more than any other U.S. technology company, Amazon has come to resemble a conglomerate, with a growing presence in multiple markets.” • Hmm. This was a long time ago, but didn’t the conglomerate business model fail? Meanwhile, lots of statistics.
The Bezzle: “Tainted Pills Force FDA to Tighten Drug-Safety Regulations” [Bloomberg]. “Currently, the FDA mostly relies on the industry to police itself, only sporadically inspecting manufacturing sites. That approach has been strained by the increasing proportion of generic drugs and drug ingredients made for the U.S. market in countries like China and India, where the regulator has few boots on the ground. The proposed rule changes will focus on the raw materials used to produce drugs. Active pharmaceutical ingredients, or API, are basic building blocks that make drugs effective against diseases and disorders. If they don’t meet certain specifications for strength and purity, then the medicines made from them may not work.”
The Bezzle: “Facebook Accused by HUD of Housing Bias Over Targeted Ads” [Bloomberg], “Facebook enables and encourages discrimination based on things like race and religion, as well as sex, by restricting who can see housing-related ads on its platforms and across the internet, HUD said Thursday in a statement. ‘Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live,’ HUD Secretary Ben Carson said. ‘Using a computer to limit a person’s housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone’s face.'” • Poor Mark. Everybody’s piling on. Somebody even woke up Ben Carson!
Tech: “Robocalls: What AT&T, Comcast and Verizon are doing about them” [CNN]. “Verizon plans to make its spam detection and blocking app free for its wireless customers in the next few days. AT&T and Comcast also recently announced that they tested a new tool for identifying “spoofed” calls, which have allowed robocallers use fake numbers. Most major telecom companies plan to put the new technology to use by the end of the year…. But there’s a problem: The apps flag and filter calls based on whether the incoming phone number is listed in a database of known spammers, and that database is extremely unreliable, [Jim McEachern, a senior technology consultant at telecom industry association ATIS] said.”
Tech: “An Analysis of Pre-installed Android Software” (PDF) [Julien Gamba, Mohammed Rashed, Abbas Razaghpanah, Juan Tapiador, and Narseo Vallina-Rodriguez]. “In this paper, we present the first largescale study of pre-installed software on Android devices from more than 200 vendors. Our work relies on a large dataset of real-world Android firmware acquired worldwide using crowd-sourcing methods. This allows us to answer questions related to the stakeholders involved in the supply chain, from device manufacturers and mobile network operators to thirdparty organizations like advertising and tracking services, and social network platforms. Our study allows us to also uncover relationships between these actors, which seem to revolve primarily around advertising and data-driven services. Overall, the supply chain around Android’s open source model lacks transparency and has facilitated potentially harmful behaviors and backdoored access to sensitive data and services without user consent or awareness.” • Oh, good.
Tech: “Internal Documents Show Apple Is Capable of Implementing Right to Repair Legislation” [Vice]. “As Apple continues to fight legislation that would make it easier for consumers to repair their iPhones, MacBooks, and other electronics, the company appears to be able to implement many of the requirements of the legislation, according to an internal presentation obtained by Motherboard. According to the presentation, titled ‘Apple Genuine Parts Repair’ and dated April 2018, the company has begun to give some repair companies access to Apple diagnostic software, a wide variety of genuine Apple repair parts, repair training, and notably places no restrictions on the types of repairs that independent companies are allowed to do. The presentation notes that repair companies can ‘keep doing what you’re doing, with … Apple genuine parts, reliable parts supply, and Apple process and training.'” • Good news if true!
Regulation: “”Happy to Do It”: Emails Show Current FAA Chief Coordinated With Ex-Lobbyist Colleagues on Policy” [Pro Publica]. “A month later, [the man who is now acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration, Dan Elwell] initiated another [email] exchange. He emailed JetBlue executives, asking them for help with ‘an airport privatization issue.’ He later asked if the airline had ‘any luck finding a JetBlue exec we can throw to the lions, er, I mean, introduce to a nice reporter to say nice things about airport privatization?’ JetBlue, the airline lobbyist and the FAA then coordinated on talking points for a story about privatizing management of St. Louis Lambert International Airport.” • Refreshingly direct in his approach.
Mr. Market: “Treasury yields climb along with stocks as trade talks resume” [CNBC]. “Treasury yields traded slightly higher on Thursday, after the benchmark rate hit its lowest level in more than a year, as trade talks between China and the U.S. resumed. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note traded at 2.391 percent while the 2-year note yield climbed to 2.234 percent.”
“Fukushima contaminants found as far north as Alaska’s Bering Strait” [Reuters]. “Analysis of seawater collected last year near St. Lawrence Island revealed a slight elevation in levels of radioactive cesium-137 attributable to the Fukushima disaster, the University of Alaska Fairbanks Sea Grant program said. ‘This is the northern edge of the plume,” said Gay Sheffield, a Sea Grant marine advisory agent based in the Bering Sea town of Nome, Alaska. The newly detected Fukushima radiation was minute. The level of cesium-137, a byproduct of nuclear fission, in seawater was just four-tenths as high as traces of the isotope naturally found in the Pacific Ocean. Those levels are far too low to pose a health concern, an important point for people living on the Bering Sea coast who subsist on food caught in the ocean, Sheffield said.”
“Climate–land-use interactions shape tropical mountain biodiversity and ecosystem functions” [Nature]. “Here we show that the interacting effects of climate and land use reshape elevational trends in biodiversity and ecosystem functions on Africa’s largest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania). We find that increasing land-use intensity causes larger losses of plant and animal species richness in the arid lowlands than in humid submontane and montane zones. Increases in land-use intensity are associated with significant changes in the composition of plant, animal and microorganism communities; stronger modifications of plant and animal communities occur in arid and humid ecosystems, respectively. Temperature, precipitation and land use jointly modulate soil properties, nutrient turnover, greenhouse gas emissions, plant biomass and productivity, as well as animal interactions. Our data suggest that the response of ecosystem functions to land-use intensity depends strongly on climate; more-severe changes in ecosystem functioning occur in the arid lowlands and the cold montane zone.”
“A Healthcare Industry Built on Premature Death” [In These Times]. “The industry is an architecture of misery, extracting profits from suffering. According to a report published in 2017 by The Doctor-Patient Rights Project, insurance companies “denied treatment coverage to one-in-four (24 percent) patients with a chronic or persistent illness or condition; 41 percent of the patients denied coverage were denied once, while 59 percent were denied multiple times.” Thirty-four percent of patients who had been denied coverage were forced to put off treatment, despite having a chronic illness. An astounding 70 percent of treatments for a chronic illness denied by insurers were for conditions referred to as “serious.” The grim reaper disguises himself in many forms, in this case that of an insurance agent.”
The reformist case, sadly paywalled:
U.S. universal coverage can be achieved by expanding Medicaid in all states, increasing assistance for buying coverage in the marketplace, ensuring that people enroll in affordable coverage for which they’re eligible, and addressing coverage for undocumented immigrants.
— NEJM (@NEJM) March 27, 2019
Leaving $400 billion in administrative costs on the table, all to keep the health insurance companies alive while they try to kill us. And remember the horror stories I published yesterday? This approach would address none of that.
“As All States Streamline Medicaid Enrollment and Renewal Processes, New Eligibility Requirements Pursued By Some States Could Increase Administrative Complexity and Reduce Coverage” [KFF]. “All states continue to implement new Medicaid enrollment and renewal processes that can connect individuals to coverage more quickly and reduce administrative paperwork, finds KFF’s annual 50-state survey of Medicaid eligibility and enrollment policies. At the same time, some states are pursuing new eligibility requirements, such as work requirements and monthly premiums, that would push in the opposite direction, increasing the complexity of enrollment processes and potentially reducing coverage.”
“Here’s what the GOP plans for health care look like” [CNN]. “While the party hasn’t coalesced behind a health care plan, there are policies that Republicans have long supported. Yet some Republican think tanks, particularly the influential Heritage Foundation, are looking to drum up interest on Capitol Hill in their ideas to overhaul the health care system.” • Wait. We gave their “ideas” a chance in 2009, right?
“No sleep, no sex, no life: tech workers in China’s Silicon Valley face burnout before they reach 30” [South China Morning Post]. “Tech firms in China typically expect their employees to work long hours to prove their dedication. That means a so-called 996 schedule: 9am to 9pm, six days a week…. The boundaries between work and private life are further blurred by company perks like free meals and shuttles, on-site gyms and barber shops, as well as many other entertainment and leisure options. Although Silicon Valley giants like Google and Facebook offer similar benefits, some Chinese tech workers say they feel exploited… Such “benefits” do not make employees stay longer. The average tenure for tech workers in Silicon Valley is 3.65 years, whereas in Chinese tech firms, state telecoms operators excluded, the figure is less than 2.6 years, according to data from Maimai, the Chinese equivalent of LinkedIn.”
“The Unexpected Philosophical Depths of the Clicker Game Universal Paperclips” [The New Yorker]. “In later stages of clicker games, flies quickly past velocity into what physicists call ‘jerk, snap, crackle, and pop,’ and the thrill is buttressed by the rarity, or impossibility, of failure. Advancement is registered as the ability to click new, more powerful buttons.” • I can’t put my finger on it, but this seems like a familiar dynamic… . I was reading recently about children’s games in Papua New Guinea, where the object of the game — follow me closely, here — is to have all the players end up with equal shares.
“In narrow victory, Miami Dade College adjunct professors win right to form union” [Miami Herald]. “The adjunct faculty at Miami Dade College have officially won the right to form a union. The part-time professors, who make up a majority of MDC’s total faculty, won a narrow 14-vote victory on Wednesday to form a union with the Florida arm of the Service Employees International Union to lobby for increased wages, health benefits, added transparency in course assignment and — most importantly — negotiating power… Adjunct faculty make $2,460 per three-credit course and are not eligible to receive medical benefits. Wadle said adjuncts can teach a maximum of nine courses per semester, but that the allocation process lacks transparency. It’s common for adjuncts to teach at multiple colleges, which poses a challenge in gridlock-riddled metro areas like Miami.”
News of the Wired
“Reading Programmes: the art of reading for the OED” [Oxford English Dictionary]. “An evidence-based approach to lexicography requires evidence. From the Oxford English Dictionary’s inception, this has been supplied by recruits to its Reading Programmes, whose task is to read books (and other texts) and note down potentially interesting instances of word use. Without their work, the OED simply would not exist in the form it does…. Our readers hail from different countries and various backgrounds and their connections with the OED were formed in diverse ways. But one thing they have in common is a sensitivity to the English language – an ability to spot a word being used for the first time, or in a new way, which the most advanced software cannot replicate.”
“Researchers estimate it takes approximately 1.5 megabytes of data to store language information in the brain” [Medical XPress]. “A pair of researchers, one with the University of Rochester the other the University of California has found that combining all the data necessary to store and use the English language in the brain adds up to approximately 1.5 megabytes. … Francis Mollica and Steven Piantadosi describe applying information theory to add up the amount of data needed to store the various parts of the English language. To make their calculations, the researchers assigned quantifiable size estimates to the various aspects of the English language…. Adding it all up came to approximately 1.56 megabytes—close to the amount needed to store a single digital picture.” • Which means digital pictures are pretty dumb, doesn’t it?
The most Philly thing ever:
A MITES ON ICE GOALIE ATTACKED GRITTY pic.twitter.com/JSRGnaVrDM
— Sarah McLaughlin (@sarahemclaugh) March 27, 2019
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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (via):
“Halophytes, or salt-tolerant plants, are found in a number of environments: seashores, mangrove swamps, salt marshes & swamps and saline semi-deserts. This image primarily features saltgrass (Distichlis spicata) with perhaps some alkali-grass in the upper right corner.”
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