31 May, 2020

Priest supported closing churches during 1918 flu pandemic, lamented loss of Mass

Ah, brethren, let us today reflect on the meaning and the history of that great sacrifice at which we may not assist, a sacrifice that links us with the saints and sages of every age from Christ’s time till now, and let us beg God in his mercy to remove from us that sickness that keeps us deprived of the great sacrifice, so that soon we may again with glad, worshipful hearts, meet in our churches and assist in offering to the All High that clean oblation, seen by the prophet Malachy in vision,[3] that sacrifice that is offered in every place from the rising to the set of sun.

Rage, fear, and confusion

There was a young data scientist that pulled me aside before a meeting on how data and technology might be able to help on community policing. He showed me data that he had cobbled together from multiple systems where he showed the rate over time of how police stopped white vs blacks and it was about equal. And then he showed me the search rates after they were stopped and they were staggering. It showed how much more likely you were to be searched if you were black. As we dug in, he showed how you could tell which officers contributed to doing the most searches and matching it to those that had the most complaints. When I showed his results to the other police chiefs they all asked how they could get that kind of data so get those officers off the streets. The chiefs didn’t have the basic data systems to know which officers were a problem.
What gets measured gets fixed. Yet, we won’t track even the basics of policing.

Now is the moment to sign Colin Kaepernick

It was only in the second preseason game that an NFL Network reporter, an employee of the league, noticed it and reported the story. Once it broke, https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/29/opinions/now-is-the-moment-to-sign-colin-kaepernick-lockhart/index.html
Kaepernick worked with a former Green Beret, Nate Boyer, to find a more acceptable way to protest, and the National Anthem kneel -- "taking a knee" -- was born.
That played out for the whole 2017 season. Some players joined Kaepernick, but by the end of the season, there were only a handful of players kneeling. But those protests started important discussions within the league, specifically involving Goodell, during the offseason. I participated in several long conference calls where the commissioner and leaders of the newly formed Players Coalition grappled with how to use the NFL's vast platform to promote racial justice in America.
The new season started with very productive dialogue and work proceeding between the players and the league. That all changed on a Friday night in Alabama at a rally for Republican Senate candidate Luther Strange, where President Donald Trump called for kneeling players to be fired.
NFL owners should respond to those players "taking a knee" (who were overwhelmingly black) by saying "Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he's fired!" he told the crowd.
That one rally changed everything. Although Kaepernick had not been signed in the off season, players' protests to that point were primarily off the field -- not during the anthem or on the field during games. But starting the following Sunday, hundreds of players were now kneeling and a full-blown battle with the President was drawn.

I’m a CEO, a retired Army officer and a black man

I shudder with each death of a black man killed by a police officer. I often shed another tear, reflecting upon the times I was stopped, for little more than driving while black or being followed while shopping in stores. I’ve been stopped and searched far more times than my white colleagues and through intimate discussions with them, most simply can’t or won’t try to understand.
Sadly, I have grown accustomed to being profiled and treated like a criminal for no legitimate reason.
It happened during high school in Palm Beach County.
Following my freshman year in college it occurred when I returned to Florida.
As a young Army captain following my nearly five years serving overseas it happened.

On a cold rainy night in South Georgia I was stopped for speeding in my new truck. The young white police officer screamed and pointed his pistol in my face while my hands were on the steering wheel. I yelled repeatedly, “I am an Army officer.” He removed me from my vehicle and pressed my face against the hot truck hood. I never resisted him, but that situation quickly spiraled out of control until his supervisor arrived and acknowledged the big mistake. They quickly backed down and ushered me away in the rain while I sobbed for 45 minutes with mixed emotions; feeling lucky to be alive and quite upset that I was treated with such violence and disrespect.

30 May, 2020

Why those sometimes annoying launch, landing weather rules exist

Some of those launch operator-specific weather criteria include how close rain can be to the pad at launch, wind speed and direction, upper level wind shear limits, and others.
Two of these launch-vehicle specific criteria gave the U.S. the absolute hardest lesson it has had to learn about space flight on 28 January 1986 when the Shuttle Challenger was launched in near-freezing temperatures that were 20℉ colder than the lowest certified operational limit of the Solid Rocket Boosters.
The cold temperatures caused the failure of the primary and secondary O-Ring seals on the aft field joint of Challenger’s right-hand Solid Rocket Booster.  The failure method caused a temporary seal to form as O-ring material became jammed in the hole.
This temporary seal was shattered when Challenger encountered the most-intense upper-level windshear ever for a Shuttle (even through to the end of the program). 
Overriding those two vehicle-specific weather rules resulted in the loss of seven people that January morning.


To this day I remain a “key worker”, paid £10 an hour to sit in a chatroom – alone, lost, without support or help. Despite what the government is saying, it seems the relentless problem “with the system” is another pandemic without a cure. Motivated as I am to help out during this difficult time – and after two weeks of doing “pretend” work on the track-and-trace programme – I have decided to quit and try to find a real way to help people. 
If Boris Johnson or Matt Hancock are reading this, I’d ask them to please go into the chatrooms you created and read what people are saying. You will see a lot of anger and confusion from a lot of people. And none of them have any faith that we’re properly set up to fight any increase in infection rate from this pandemic.

25 May, 2020

Why the media is so polarized — and how it polarizes us

Misperceptions were particularly high when people were asked to describe the other party. Democrats believed 44 percent of Republicans earned more than $250,000 a year; it’s actually 2 percent. Republicans believed that 38 percent of Democrats were gay, lesbian, or bisexual; the correct answer is about 6 percent. Democrats believed that more than four in 10 Republicans are seniors; in truth, seniors make up about 20 percent of the GOP. Republicans believed that 46 percent of Democrats are black and 44 percent belong to a union; in reality, about 24 percent of Democrats are black and less than 11 percent belong to a union.
Here’s the kicker: As the charts below show, the more political media people consumed, the more mistaken they were, in general, about the other party. This is a damning result: The more political media you absorb, the more warped your perspective of the other side becomes.

The little-known story of Vietnamese communist leader Ho Chi Minh’s admiration for the US

Ho Chi Minh's admiration for the US is most clearly seen in the language he wrote in Vietnam’s own declaration of independence, which he issued on Sept. 2, 1945, just as the Japanese empire was crumbling in defeat. The first line of that declaration is a direct quote from the American version: "All men are created equal; they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."
It’s likely this was partly sincere, and partly a play for US help in decolonization, based on Franklin Delano Roosevelt's anti-colonial rhetoric.
This has all led some writers to speculate counterfactually, that the US missed an opportunity to "flip" Ho Chi Minh, and thus could somehow have avoided the Vietnam War. Most historians think that's a step too far. Ho Chi Minh was a committed communist from the 1920s. He was persecuted for it and yet stuck to his guns. And however much he may have liked America's anti-colonial history, he could never have been a sincere partner for the US. The anti-communist forces in South Vietnam were much more natural partners for the US.

24 May, 2020

We Chat, They Watch: How International Users Unwittingly Build up WeChat’s Chinese Censorship Apparatus

In this report, we present technical experiments which reveal that WeChat communications that are conducted entirely among non-China-registered accounts are subject to content surveillance. We found that documents and images that were transmitted entirely among non-China-registered accounts were analyzed for Chinese political sensitivity. Upon analysis, files deemed politically sensitive were used to invisibly train and build up WeChat’s Chinese political censorship system. We also conducted analysis of WeChat’s public-facing policy documents, made data access requests, and engaged with Tencent data protection representatives to assess whether those methods could also explain, or uncover, the content surveillance carried out towards international users’ communications. We found that none of the information WeChat makes available to users explains the rationales for such surveillance or the transmission of content hashes from WeChat International to WeChat China.

How ‘Jakarta’ Became the Codeword for US-Backed Mass Killing

In total, it is estimated that between five hundred thousand and one million people were slaughtered, and one million more were herded into concentration camps. Millions more people were indirect victims of the massacres, but no one came around to inquire how many loved ones they had lost.
Their silence was the point of the violence. The Armed Forces did not oversee the extermination of every single communist, alleged communist, and potential communist sympathizer in the country. That would have been nearly impossible, because around a quarter of the country was affiliated somehow with the PKI. Once the killings took hold, it became incredibly hard to find anyone who would admit to any association with the PKI.
Around 15 percent of the prisoners taken were women. They were subjected to especially cruel, gendered violence, which sprung directly from the propaganda spread by Suharto with Western help. Except for a tiny number of people possibly involved in the planning of the disastrous September 30th Movement, almost everyone killed and imprisoned was entirely innocent of any crime. Magdalena, an apolitical teenage member of a communist-affiliated union, was innocent.
The rank-and-file card-carrying members of the unarmed Communist Party, who made up a large proportion of the victims, were also entirely innocent. They didn’t do anything wrong at all, yet they were condemned to annihilation, and almost everyone around them was sentenced to a lifetime of guilt, trauma, and being told they had sinned unforgivably because of their association with the earnest hopes of left-wing politics.

23 May, 2020

Formal federal prosecutor Jonathan Kravis ’99: Consider government service

The first piece of advice: Consider government service.
I know from my own experience how rewarding a career in government service can be. I spent 10 years as a prosecutor in the U.S. Department of Justice. In that job, I had the opportunity to work alongside talented and dedicated lawyers and agents to serve the mission of the Department, first by prosecuting violent crimes, and later by investigating corruption by federal, state, and local officials. I went into work every day knowing that my job was to serve justice, to do what was right to the best of my ability. 
You will have similar opportunities. Now more than ever, our country and the world need talented, dedicated, hardworking public servants. Federal, state and local governments are facing unprecedented challenges. Whatever your chosen field — law, medicine, science, education, business — you can help. For some of you, the chance to serve in government may present itself in the natural course of your career. For others, you may have to look a little harder to find it. Either way, government service will allow you to serve a greater good and to help make your community a better place.
And this brings me to my second piece of advice. When you do find the right opportunity to work in government, remember why you took the job in the first place. 

22 May, 2020

thebigschnoz on rights

Honestly, this is less draconian than quarantines of the past. Most of you don’t know that because we haven’t had to do this in a very long time, like 75 years long time. But back before we had vaccines to a lot of things, if the government so much as suspected you had measles or smallpox, you would get your house sealed up and you didn’t go anywhere for two or three weeks while they shoved a few casserole dishes under the door. They’d put a big sign on the door that says “no entry or exit” and if you tried, some burly men would “politely explain” to you why that was not permitted. You didn’t go out for essentials. You didn’t go out for a walk. And they didn’t have Netflix or Instacart back then.
There is no constitutional right to own a business or go to work. Not in there. I’m sorry some of you are suffering, and I feel for you. I legitimately get that some of you are going to lose a lot from this and possibly everything you built. But it’s not a right. You didn’t have that right before, which is why people go bankrupt or get laid off or have their business ventures fail.
Again, you have been temporarily inconvenienced, not oppressed.

20 May, 2020

SASN Faculty and Staff Honored for their Exceptional Contributions

The Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching is awarded annually to non-tenure-track, full-time faculty members in the arts and humanities, sciences, and social sciences who have demonstrated outstanding teaching skills in classroom instruction, clinical instruction, curriculum development, or mentoring. Diane Jammula, Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Physics is one of five winners in this category.

 Jammula recently led an overhaul of the Physics Department’s introductory physics courses for science majors, which serve 450 students per semester, to be interactive and aligned with the cutting edge of physics education research, including a research-based instructional approach designed by Distinguished Professor Eugenia Etkina (Rutgers-New Brunswick); space renovation; instructional technology; new scheduling; and instructor training. Tenured, tenure-track, non-tenure track faculty, and part-time lecturers and doctoral students participated in trainings and taught and helped troubleshoot the newly designed courses. The non-tenure track faculty designed the curriculum, led the trainings, and are evaluating the reform. “I spearheaded this project, but the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching is a win for the whole department,” said Jammula, who also credited the SASN Dean’s Office, Academic Scheduling, Technology and Learning Spaces, and the Rutgers Learning Center, for making the project a success.

 She added that she was grateful to Physics Chair Michele Pavanello, who nominated her for the award and was a strong supporter of the overhaul from the start. “When I faced resistance, Dr. Pavanello came to my office and said, 'Not everyone likes what you're doing, but I support you because I think it’s important to take risks.'” The project has since been a great success, among students and faculty and staff alike.

 “The students are the center of our work,” said Jammula, “Our world will be a better place with them as our future leaders, and we seek to offer them a first-class physics education built on love and care.”

19 May, 2020

My favorite example of the power of translation (Emily Wilson)

The opening of the Odyssey (2 old translations and one from a few years ago from Emily Wilson, the first woman to translate the Odyssey):
Tell me, Muse, of that man, so ready at need, who wandered far and wide, after he had sacked the sacred citadel of Troy, and many were the men whose towns he saw and whose mind he learnt, yea, and many the woes he suffered in his heart upon the deep, striving to win his own life and the return of his company. Nay, but even so he saved not his company, though he desired it sore. For through the blindness of their own hearts they perished, fools, who devoured the oxen of Helios Hyperion: but the god took from them their day of returning. Of these things, goddess, daughter of Zeus, whencesoever thou hast heard thereof, declare thou even unto us.

Tell me, O Muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide after he had sacked the famous town of Troy. Many cities did he visit, and many were the nations with whose manners and customs he was acquainted; moreover he suffered much by sea while trying to save his own life and bring his men safely home; but do what he might he could not save his men, for they perished through their own sheer folly in eating the cattle of the Sun-god Hyperion; so the god prevented them from ever reaching home. Tell me, too, about all these things, oh daughter of Jove, from whatsoever source you may know them.
Tell me about a complicated man.
Muse, tell me how he wandered and was lost
when he had wrecked the holy town of Troy,
and where he went, and who he met, the pain
he suffered in the storms at sea, and how
he worked to save his life and bring his men
back home. He failed to keep them safe; poor fools,
they ate the Sun God’s cattle, and the god
kept them from home. Now goddess, child of Zeus,
tell the old story for our modern times.
Find the beginning.

18 May, 2020

Facebook post on the virus

We don't have to fear this and by heeding the advice doesn't mean that you fear it that means you're showing wisdom during this epidemic time. Looking back I should have wore a mask in the beginning but I didn't and perhaps I'm paying the price for it now but I know that if it was me that gave it to my wife I know that she forgives me and I know that God forgives me. Whether man forgives me or not that's out of my control but as long as I have the assurance that God forgives me and my wife forgives me I am good. So just think about what I said and if you have to go out please use wisdom and don't be foolish like I was so the same so the same thing won't happen to you like it happened to me and my wife.

16 May, 2020

De-risking custom technology projects

Only 13% of large government software projects are successful.1 State IT projects, in particular, are often challenged because states lack basic knowledge about modern software development, relying on outdated procurement processes.
State governments are increasingly reliant on modern software and hardware to implement federal programs and deliver essential services to the public, and the success of any major policy initiative depends on the success of the underlying software infrastructure. Government agencies all confront similar challenges, facing budget and staffing constraints while struggling to modernize legacy technology systems that are out-of-date, inflexible, expensive, and ineffective.2 Government officials and agencies often rely on the same legacy processes that led to problems in the first place.
The public deserves a government that provides the same world-class technology they get from the commercial marketplace. Trust in government depends on it.

14 May, 2020

Louis Farrakhan and the Black Lives Matter protests

To speak of what Farrakhan gets right about racism is to risk lending credence to all he gets wrong. For just as he has been correct in his indictment of white supremacy, so too have his critics been correct in their indictments of him. Farrakhan’s ample critical gifts have always come packaged with abundant bigotries: hatred of Jews, mockery and fear of homosexuals, denigration of women. I have heard occasional attempts to deny Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism, but these defenses approach lunacy. Farrakhan’s distrust of and anger toward Jews are as central and constant as any other aspect of his philosophy; anyone reading over his speeches for examples of anti-Semitic rhetoric will quickly find herself spoiled for choice. Jews control the banks, they control the media, they control the government, Israel knew 9/11 was coming.

Babies among 24 killed as gunmen attack maternity ward in Kabul

Gunmen stormed a maternity hospital in the western part of the Afghan capital Kabul, setting off an hours-long shoot-out with the police and killing 24 people, including two newborn babies, their mothers and an unspecified number of nurses.

07 May, 2020

Are the Lockdown Orders Constitutional?

04 May, 2020

The tears of the choir world

I asked a simple question on my Facebook status.  The post was, “I’m seeing it from every choir director.  The grief is profound.  I’m curious.  How many of you in a different career are heavily grieving the loss of the way you did your job?  And I’m curious how many of you are actually thriving in this new way.”  There are presently 65 comments and and side comments, and it’s still growing. Some professions and hobbies work through an online medium. My choir director friends are grieving. The grief I read on choral forums is so thick. It hurts.
There are only two ways to do this right now.  One way involves risk.  The other, technology.  The risk?  Get together and social distancing by God knows how many feet and sing through a mask.  Or, enter the world of Virtual Choir.  For me, I’m trying to figure out a world where both exist until we can get back to something…..whatever it’s going to be. I, unlike the cynics out there, believe that choirs will come back and will be what they were – a thriving community of people who want to join their voices together to create the most beautiful sound there is.  I’m not giving up on that. It’s too good.  History says so.

03 May, 2020

Why the Coronavirus Is So Confusing

SARS-CoV-2 is the virus. COVID-19 is the disease that it causes. The two aren’t the same. The disease arises from a combination of the virus and the person it infects, and the society that person belongs to. Some people who become infected never show any symptoms; others become so ill that they need ventilators. Early Chinese data suggested that severe and fatal illness occurs mostly in the elderly, but in the U.S. (and especially in the South), many middle-aged adults have been hospitalized, perhaps because they are more likely to have other chronic illnesses. The virus might vary little around the world, but the disease varies a lot.
This explains why some of the most important stats about the coronavirus have been hard to pin down. Estimates of its case-fatality rate (CFR)—the proportion of diagnosed people who die—have ranged from 0.1 to 15 percent. It’s frustrating to not have a firm number, but also unrealistic to expect one. “Folks are talking about CFR as this unchangeable quantity, and that is not how it works,” says Maia Majumder, an epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital.
The CFR’s denominator—total cases—depends on how thoroughly a country tests its population. Its numerator—total deaths—depends on the spread of ages within that population, the prevalence of preexisting illnesses, how far people live from hospitals, and how well staffed or well equipped those hospitals are. These factors vary among countries, states, and cities, and the CFR will, too. (Majumder and her colleagues are now building tools for predicting regional CFRs, so local leaders can determine which regions are most vulnerable.)
The variability of COVID-19 is also perplexing doctors. The disease seems to wreak havoc not only on lungs and airways, but also on hearts, blood vessels, kidneys, guts, and nervous systems. It’s not clear if the virus is directly attacking these organs, if the damage stems from a bodywide overreaction of the immune system, if other organs are suffering from the side effects of treatments, or if they are failing due to prolonged stays on ventilators.

Even Naked, America Cannot See Itself -- In a time of plague, willful blindness is a coping mechanism.

I was asleep when one of the tornadoes missed our house by a handful of miles. That it charted its particular path, sparing my family but killing others, and leaving others still with spoiled food stockpiles and home damage they might never recoup, taught me little about tornadoes except that they behave like tornadoes — that is, they function in ways that are neither malicious nor cosmically edifying on their own terms, even as they cause tremendous damage to humans. It’s not personal for them. How societies mitigate the pain they cause at the margins is far more revealing — how much we invest, as Americans, in catching the vulnerable when the floor is ripped from beneath them. We may tell ourselves the pandemic is asking this question of us, but if we had the courage to look clearly, the answer was evident long before this crisis: in how our society distributes suffering, the stories we tell to make it compatible with our national self-regard; how aggressively so many insist on overlooking the foreseeable. The depth of havoc that the coronavirus wreaks on its inevitable victims was, and is, within America’s capacity to determine. We have few insights into the path it’s cutting today that we haven’t had for years and that we weren’t already ignoring.

The president created a leadership vacuum. China intends to fill it.


Carl Bildt—a Swedish prime minister in the 1990s, a United Nations envoy during the Bosnian wars, and a foreign minister for many years after that—told me that, looking back on his 30-year career, he cannot remember a single international crisis in which the United States had no global presence at all. “Normally, when something happens”—a war, an earthquake—“everybody waits to see what the Americans are doing, for better or for worse, and then they calibrate their own response based on that.”

This time, Americans are doing … nothing. Or to be more specific, because plenty of American governors, mayors, doctors, scientists, and tech companies are doing things, the White House is doing nothing. There is no presidential leadership inside the United States; there is no American leadership in the world. Members of the G7—the U.S. and its six closest allies—did meet to write a joint statement. But even that tepid project ended in ludicrous rancor when the American secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, insisted on using the expression “Wuhan virus” and the others gave up in disgust. Not only is the president talking nonsense, not only is America absent, but the nation’s top diplomat is a caricature of a tough guy—someone who throws around insults in the absence of any capacity to influence events.