asia

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 }

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 }

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 }

I wish I was little bit taller I wish I was a baller

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A Japanese hotel offers a room that costs only $1 per night, but there’s a catch — the guest’s entire stay is livestreamed on YouTube.

{ UPI | Continue reading }

The largest set of matryoshka dolls in the world is a 51-piece set hand-painted by Youlia Bereznitskaia of Russia, completed in 2003

Chinese businessman Tan Youhui was looking for a hitman to take out a competitor, Wei Mou, and was willing to pay 2 million yuan (£218,000) to get the job done. The hitman that Mr Youhui hired decided to offer the job to another hitman for half the original price. The second hitman then subcontracted to another hitman, who then subcontracted to a fourth, who gave the job to a fifth. However, hitman number five was so incensed at how much the value of the contract had fallen, that he told the target to fake his own death, which eventually led to the police finding out about the plot, Beijing News reported.

{ Metro | Continue reading }

Can’t hear with the waters of. The chittering waters of. Flittering bats, fieldmice bawk talk.

The U.S. government is in the midst of forcing a standoff with China over the global deployment of Huawei’s 5G wireless networks around the world. […] This conflict is perhaps the clearest acknowledgement we’re likely to see that our own government knows how much control of communications networks really matters, and our inability to secure communications on these networks could really hurt us.

{ Cryptography Engineering | Continue reading }

related { Why Controlling 5G Could Mean Controlling the World }

Facebook algorithm can recognise people in photographs even when it can’t see their faces

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In Shenzhen, the local subway operator is testing various advanced technologies backed by the ultra-fast 5G network, including facial-recognition ticketing.

At the Futian station, instead of presenting a ticket or scanning a QR bar code on their smartphones, commuters can scan their faces on a tablet-sized screen mounted on the entrance gate and have the fare automatically deducted from their linked accounts. […]

Consumers can already pay for fried chicken at KFC in China with its “Smile to Pay” facial recognition system, first introduced at an outlet in Hangzhou in January 2017. […]

Chinese cities are among the most digitally savvy and cashless in the world, with about 583 million people using their smartphones to make payment in China last year, according to the China Internet Network Information Center. Nearly 68 per cent of China’s internet users used a mobile wallet for their offline payments.

{ South China Morning Post | Continue reading }

photo { The Collection of the Australian National Maritime Museum }

Jambalaya!

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For every 100,000 inhabitants, Okinawa has 68 centenarians – more than three times the numbers found in US populations of the same size. Even by the standards of Japan, Okinawans are remarkable, with a 40% greater chance of living to 100 than other Japanese people. […]

one of the most exciting factors to have recently caught the scientists’ attention is the peculiarly high ratio of carbohydrates to protein in the Okinawan diet – with a particular abundance of sweet potato as the source of most of their calories. […]

Despite the popularity of the Atkins and Paleo diets, there is minimal evidence that high-protein diets really do bring about long-term benefits.

So could the “Okinawan Ratio” – 10:1 carbohydrate to protein – instead be the secret to a long and healthy life? […]

The typical Okinawan centenarian appeared to be free of the typical signs of cardiovascular disease […] Okinawa’s oldest residents also have far lower rates of cancer, diabetes and dementia than other ageing populations. […]

Genetic good fortune could be one important factor. Thanks to the geography of the islands, Okinawa’s populations have spent large chunks of their history in relative isolation, which may has given them a unique genetic profile. […]

It is the Okinawans’ diet, however, that may have the most potential to change our views on healthy ageing. Unlike the rest of Asia, the Okinawan staple is not rice, but the sweet potato. […] Okinawans also eat an abundance of green and yellow vegetables – such as the bitter melon – and various soy products. Although they do eat pork, fish and other meats, these are typically a small component of their overall consumption, which is mostly plant-based foods.

The traditional Okinawan diet is therefore dense in the essential vitamins and minerals - including anti-oxidants - but also low in calories. Particularly in the past, before fast food entered the islands, the average Okinawan ate around 11% fewer calories than the normal recommended consumption for a healthy adult.

{ BBC | Continue reading }

photo { Stephen Shore, New York City, New York, September-October 1972 }

Baloo: [tugging on Bagheera’s tail] C’mon, Baggy, get with the beat!

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The Chinese made 50 times more mobile payments in 2016 than U.S. consumers did, tripling to $5.5 trillion in China while U.S. payments only grew 39 percent, to $112 billion. […]

David Rennie, Beijing bureau chief for The Economist, gets somewhat closer to the truth in his forecasting exercise, projected to 2024. Like Rolland, Rennie starts by imagining a dystopian negation of the West. China’s intelligence services, working with the country’s technology firms, have turned millions of cars in America, Europe, and Asia into remote spying devices, letting Beijing track vehicles in real time and identify passengers with facial-recognition technology. […]

The Chinese order will break with the Western model by moving decisively away from Enlightenment ideals of transparency and public knowledge. Even in its formative stage, the Belt and Road Initiative is an exercise in the opacity of power. There are explicit plans and an esoteric practice where deals are agreed upon, often with no written evidence, and rigid hierarchies of access and knowledge. Some of the participants know only the broadest strokes of the plan, sufficient to defend it and to communicate with lower levels; others know nothing; and only a few can see months or years in advance. Or, as you sometimes hear in Beijing, just as every individual has a right to privacy, the party also has a right to privacy. The Belt and Road Initiative is like Holy Writ—never revealed completely and all at once, but only bit by bit and over many decades. […]

When we describe a new Chinese world order, we have to keep in mind there will be other shareholders, other shapers, and other balancers. The West will diminish in reach and influence, but 30 years from now it will continue to offer a powerful alternative to the Belt and Road Initiative, even if it may also be expected to evolve in response to the Chinese challenge.

{ Foreign Policy | Continue reading }

chromogenic print, mounted on gatefold layout board { Hope Dworaczyk, First 3-D Playmate of the Month, June 2010 }

‘Never offend an enemy in a small way.’ –Gore Vidal

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{ Border wall prototypes in San Diego | Richard Serra’s ‘East-West/West-East’ in Qatar }

The veripatetic imago of the impossible Gracehoper on his odderkop in the myre

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{ She was told all bags had to go through the X-ray machine, but she refused to part with her handbag }