within the world

This truly makes me think of the good humanity can do… that and the fact that cellphones are now becoming more and more waterproof… pretty soon we’ll be able to push people into pools again.

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The Justice Department plans to bring an antitrust case against Google as soon as this month […] A coalition of 50 states and territories support antitrust action against Google […]

Alphabet was an obvious antitrust target. Through YouTube, Google search, Google Maps and a suite of online advertising products, consumers interact with the company nearly every time they search for information, watch a video, hail a ride, order delivery in an app or see an ad online. Alphabet then improves its products based on the information it gleans from every user interaction, making its technology even more dominant.

Google controls about 90 percent of web searches globally, and rivals have complained that the company extended its dominance by making its search and browsing tools defaults on phones with its Android operating system. Google also captures about one-third of every dollar spent on online advertising, and its ad tools are used to supply and auction ads that appear across the internet. […]

Makan Delrahim, the head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, had pushed the department to investigate Google but was recused from the case because he represented the company in a 2007 acquisition that helped it to dominate the online advertising market.

In an unusual move, Mr. Barr placed the investigation under Jeffrey A. Rosen, the deputy attorney general, whose office would not typically oversee an antitrust case. Mr. Barr and Mr. Delrahim also disagreed on how to approach the investigation, and Mr. Barr had told aides that the antitrust division had been asleep at the switch for decades, particularly in scrutinizing the technology industry.

Mr. Rosen does have a tech background: He was the lead counsel for Netscape Communications when it filed an antitrust complaint against Microsoft in 2002.

In October, Mr. Rosen hired Ryan Shores, a veteran antitrust lawyer, to lead the review and vowed to “vigorously seek to remedy any violations of law, if any are found.”

Mr. Barr also had a counselor from his own office, Lauren Willard, join the team as his liaison. She met with staff members and requested information about the investigation. She also issued directives and made proposals about next steps.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

platinum print { Robert Mapplethorpe, Coral Sea, 1983 }

Congratulations to drugs for winning the War on Drugs

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Gendville met Brooks-Church in an Area Yoga class, according to a person who has known the couple for more than a decade. He was “this sexy Spanish guy,” a flâneur type. He had grown up mostly on the resort island of Ibiza, the son of outlaw parents, hippies hunted by the Feds for two antiwar bombings in the ’80s until his mother turned herself in and his father reportedly got caught in Arkansas trying to pick up $6 million in cocaine. Brooks-Church became an adherent of Human Design, a pseudoscience combining astrology and chakras, which was created on Ibiza in 1992 by an advertising executive named Alan Krakower, who claimed to have received messages on the meaning of life from an entity called “the Voice.” […]

Brooks-Church, 49, was a “green builder” with a construction company called Eco Brooklyn who had spoken about sustainability at the Brooklyn Public Library; he was a vocal advocate for designating the Gowanus Canal a Superfund site, making it eligible for environmental protections. He did CrossFit. Gendville, 45, was the owner of a restaurant called Planted Community Cafe and a local chain of yoga studios, spas, and children’s stores called Area — a “mini-mogul,” according to the New York Times. The pair were currently renting out a brownstone they owned on Airbnb not five miles away, with a tree house and turtle pond, for nearly $800 a night. What could drive two yogic, environmentally conscious, vegan brownstoners to kick out their unemployed tenants during a global pandemic? […]

Though they own two businesses and six properties in one of the country’s most expensive real-estate markets, the landlords were apparently homeless.

{ NY mag | Continue reading }

‘Mathematics is the simple bit. It’s the stuff we can understand. It’s cats that are complicated.’ – John J. Conway

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{ Pete, the pet squirrel, who was a pet of U.S. President Warren G. Harding, 1922 }

‘there is light somewhere. it may not be much light but it beats the darkness.’ –Charles Bukowski

During the Tang dynasty, a golden age for poets, Empress Wu Chao forced every male dignitary who had an audience with her to wash his mouth with rose water and practice cunnilingus on her. Diplomats and courtiers had to do their best so that their requests were met, and even then it was not a guarantee, since Chinese politics have always been cunning and inscrutable, with oscillations between the sun and the shadow of yin and yang.

{ Taki’s Magazine | Continue reading }

related { Wu was the only empress regnant (or female emperor) in the history of China. }

Today a man knocked on my door and asked for a small donation towards the local swimming pool, so I gave him a glass of water

{ as part of his 5 day long experiment into ‘modern survival’, the artist recorded every single search and order placed using his smartphone }

Was his help inshored in the Stork and Pelican against bungelars, flu and third risk parties?

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We can expect that we’ll continue to see a doubling of cases every 6 days (this is a typical doubling time across several epidemiological studies). Here I mean *actual* cases. Confirmed cases may appear to rise faster in the short term due to new test kit rollouts. We’re looking at about 1M US cases by the end of April, 2M by ~May 5, 4M by ~May 11, and so on. Exponentials are hard to grasp, but this is how they go. As the healthcare system begins to saturate under this case load, it will become increasingly hard to detect, track, and contain new transmission chains. In absence of extreme interventions, this likely won’t slow significantly until hitting >>1% of susceptible population. […]

The US has about 2.8 hospital beds per 1000 people. With a population of 330M, this is ~1M beds. At any given time, 65% of those beds are already occupied. That leaves about 330k beds available nationwide (perhaps a bit fewer this time of year with regular flu season, etc). Let’s trust Italy’s numbers and assume that about 10% of cases are serious enough to require hospitalization. (Keep in mind that for many patients, hospitalization lasts for *weeks* — in other words, turnover will be *very* slow as beds fill with COVID19 patients). By this estimate, by about May 8th, all open hospital beds in the US will be filled. (This says nothing, of course, about whether these beds are suitable for isolation of patients with a highly infectious virus.) […]

[T]he doubling time will start to slow once a sizable fraction of the population has been infected, simply because of herd immunity and a smaller susceptible population.

{ Liz Specht | Continue reading }

The median incubation period was estimated to be 5.1 days, and 97.5% of those who develop symptoms will do so within 11.5 days of infection.

{ Annals of Internal Medicine | Continue reading }

related { How the drug industry got its way on the coronavirus }

photo { President Xi Jinping of China, right, was briefed at the Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan on Tuesday. The hospital was built in a matter of days in February to treat coronavirus victims. | NY Times }

Arms apeal with larms

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The madman theory is a political theory commonly associated with U.S. President Richard Nixon’s foreign policy. He and his administration tried to make the leaders of hostile Communist Bloc nations think Nixon was irrational and volatile. According to the theory, those leaders would then avoid provoking the United States, fearing an unpredictable American response.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

The author finds that perceived madness is harmful to general deterrence and is sometimes also harmful in crisis bargaining, but may be helpful in crisis bargaining under certain conditions.

{ British Journal of Political Science | Continue reading }

black smoke shells fitted with computer chips { Cai Guo-Qiang, Wreath (Black Ceremony), 2011 }

This is Rooshious balls. This is a ttrinch. This is mistletropes. This is Canon Futter with the popynose.

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For more than half a century, governments all over the world trusted a single company to keep the communications of their spies, soldiers and diplomats secret.

The company, Crypto AG, got its first break with a contract to build code-making machines for U.S. troops during World War II. Flush with cash, it became a dominant maker of encryption devices for decades, navigating waves of technology from mechanical gears to electronic circuits and, finally, silicon chips and software.

The Swiss firm made millions of dollars selling equipment to more than 120 countries well into the 21st century. Its clients included Iran, military juntas in Latin America, nuclear rivals India and Pakistan, and even the Vatican.

But what none of its customers ever knew was that Crypto AG was secretly owned by the CIA in a highly classified partnership with West German intelligence. These spy agencies rigged the company’s devices so they could easily break the codes that countries used to send encrypted messages. […]

“It was the intelligence coup of the century,” the CIA report concludes. […]

The program had limits. America’s main adversaries, including the Soviet Union and China, were never Crypto customers.

{ Washington Post | Continue reading }

related { How Big Companies Spy on Your Emails }

Everywhere erriff you went and every bung you arver dropped into, in cit or suburb or in addled areas, the Rose and Bottle or Phoenix Tavern or Power’s Inn or Jude’s Hotel or wherever you scoured the countryside from Nannywater to Vartryville or from Porta Lateen to the lootin quarter

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On Monday, the Justice Department announced that it was charging four members of China’s People’s Liberation Army with the 2017 Equifax breach that resulted in the theft of personal data of about 145 million Americans.

Using the personal data of millions of Americans against their will is certainly alarming. But what’s the difference between the Chinese government stealing all that information and a data broker amassing it legally without user consent and selling it on the open market? Both are predatory practices to invade privacy for insights and strategic leverage. […]

Equifax is eager to play the hapless victim in all this. […] “The attack on Equifax was an attack on U.S. consumers as well as the United States,” [Equifax’s chief executive] said. […]

According to a 2019 class-action lawsuit, the company’s cybersecurity practices were a nightmare. The suit alleged that “sensitive personal information relating to hundreds of millions of Americans was not encrypted, but instead was stored in plain text” and “was accessible through a public-facing, widely used website.” Another example of the company’s weak safeguards, according to the suit, shows the company struggling to use a competent password system. “Equifax employed the username ‘admin’ and the password ‘admin’ to protect a portal used to manage credit disputes,” it read.

Though the attack was quite sophisticated — the hackers sneaked out information in small, hard to detect chunks and routed internet traffic through 34 servers in over a dozen countries to cover their tracks — Equifax’s apparent carelessness made it a perfect target.

According to a 2019 class-action lawsuit, the company’s cybersecurity practices were a nightmare. The suit alleged that “sensitive personal information relating to hundreds of millions of Americans was not encrypted, but instead was stored in plain text” and “was accessible through a public-facing, widely used website.” Another example of the company’s weak safeguards, according to the suit, shows the company struggling to use a competent password system. “Equifax employed the username ‘admin’ and the password ‘admin’ to protect a portal used to manage credit disputes,” it read.

The takeaway: While almost anything digital is at some risk of being hacked, the Equifax attack was largely preventable.

{ NY TImes | Continue reading }

related { The End of Privacy as We Know It? }

related { The FBI downloaded CIA’s hacking tools using Starbuck’s WiFi }

This is the Hausman all paven and stoned, that cribbed the Cabin that never was owned that cocked his leg and hennad his Egg

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Many New Yorkers are familiar with the iconic Waldorf Astoria, which sits on Park Avenue. But they might be surprised to learn that this is the second iteration of the luxury hotel. The original was located along Manhattan’s fashionable Fifth Avenue, and the structure took up the entire block between 33rd and 34th streets. But in late November 1929 — after the stock market had crashed and the slow slide into the Great Depression began — workers began demolishing it. […] The demolition of the old hotel, completed by the winter of 1930, made way for the construction of the ultimate expression of the city’s architectural ambitions: the Empire State Building.

{ CNN | Continue reading }

The original hotel started as two hotels on Fifth Avenue built by feuding relatives. The first hotel, the 13-story, 450-room Waldorf Hotel, designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh in the German Renaissance style, was opened on March 13, 1893, at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street, on the site where millionaire developer William Waldorf Astor had his mansion. […]

On November 1, 1897, John Jacob Astor IV opened the 17-story Astoria Hotel on an adjacent site, and leased it to Boldt. The hotels were initially built as two separate structures, but Boldt planned the Astoria so it could be connected to the Waldorf by an alley. Peacock Alley was constructed to connect the two buildings,[21] and the hotel subsequently became known as the “Waldorf-Astoria”, the largest hotel in the world at the time.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

Just bees and things and flowers

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{ Khi Solar One, the first solar thermal tower power plant on the African continent }

Inhale the future, exhale the past

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For China’s chronically underpaid physicians (the average starting salary for a junior physician was $730 a month in 2018), the best route is to avoid becoming a low-paid general practitioner, especially in the countryside, and opt for a career as a higher paid specialist. And if that career choice doesn’t work, pharmaceutical company kickbacks commonly do. And if kickbacks don’t suffice, many doctors simply accept “red envelopes” of cash to ensure basic services are rendered correctly.

These well-known practices deepen patient mistrust and cynicism, and have led to an epidemic of patient violence against Chinese doctors and nurses, including an attack on an opthamologist last week in Beijing (the weapon was a “vegetable chopper”). As far back as 2008, 48% of Chinese hospitals reported violent attacks against health workers. In a recent survey of general practitioners in Hubei Province, the source of the new coronavirus, 18.9% of respondents reported exposure to physical workplace violence in the preceding year.

Low pay, low status and the threat of violence has predictably depressed interest in the caring professions. In 2018, China had two doctors per 1,000 inhabitants, compared with 2.6 in the United States, 2.8 in Canada, and a world-beating 5.2 in Austria. More alarming, the profession is aging. […]

For now, China can treat Wuhan’s shortage of doctors as a health crisis and mobilize qualified personnel from across China to work in the city. Indeed, 6,000 medical workers from across China have either arrived in the Wuhan area or will soon, and they will alleviate much of the pressure building up in hospital corridors.

{ Bloomberg | Continue reading }

oil on painting { Pablo Picasso, Buste de Femme (Dora Maar), 1938 }