Saturday, June 13th, 2020


Track Star

"I was seeing a lot of people talking but not doing anything but post something on Instagram. I thought I should use my platform and actually do something more. I started the website to help." Avi Schiffmann built the web's preeminent Covid19 tracking system, one that Anthony Fauci described as "essential." He's now followed that feat with a site that tracks protests around the country. Oh, did I mention that Avi Schiffmann is just seventeen, if you know what I mean. MIT Tech Review: A teenager's guide to building the world's best pandemic and protest trackers. This is really impressive. Most kids that age are easily sidetracked. (When I was Avi's age, I hadn't even learned to pun...)


An Open and Wingnut Case

"Florida's Department of Health on Saturday morning reported a new daily record high of 2,581 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 — surpassing the previous high by 679. The previous high was hit on Friday. And the high before that was hit on Thursday." Sensing a trend? Well, you (and Floridians) may have sensed it much earlier if state leaders weren't distorting the data. Miami Herald: A Numbers Game.

+ Florida fired its coronavirus data scientist. Now she's publishing the statistics on her own.

+ "The pressure reflects the Trump administration's approach to the pandemic, providing largely voluntary guidance and leaving states to set strategies. That has produced a patchwork of policies and cleared the way to reopening of high-risk places like casinos and bars." Bloomberg: Record Virus Numbers Thrust States Into Life-or-Death Choice.


Experimental Case

"Even if most individuals prove resilient, the toll of the ­COVID-19 disruptions and the sheer numbers involved have experts warning of a mental illness 'tsunami.' People face a multiple wallop: the threat of disease, loneliness of isolation, loss of loved ones, repercussions of job loss and ongoing uncertainty about when the pandemic will end. Depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress will undoubtedly follow for some." Scientific American: The Biggest Psychological Experiment in History Is Running Now. (And we're the guinea pigs...)


Blast Times at Ridgemont High

WaPo: "For years, civil rights activists have worked to remove police officers from the nation's public schools, arguing that they pose a greater risk to students of color than the intruders they're supposed to guard against. But in the wake of George Floyd's death, a shift that seemed impossible only a few weeks ago is underway: Several major school systems have canceled their contracts with police, and others are under mounting pressure to do the same." WaPo: Fueled by protests, school districts across the country cut ties with police.

+ Here's an LA Times headline that captures the trend of having militarized hall monitors: L.A. schools police will return grenade launchers but keep rifles, armored vehicle. (As a former high school teacher, I don't know how schools can be expected to motivate kids to get their homework in on time without grenade launchers.)

+ For now, the big question is not whether police will be in schools, it's whether kids will be. And much of the work in that area is falling to "two former education secretaries under Republican and Democratic presidents [who] are taking prominent roles in talks with stakeholders around the country on how to safely return children to school in the fall."


Cadet Consolidation

Following a 14 day quarantine for cadets (and a 14 day period when the president got a lot of pushback from the military, inside and outside of the administration), President Trump delivered a graduation address at West Point: "It is not the duty of U.S. troops to solve ancient conflicts in faraway lands that many people have never even heard of. We are not the policeman of the world, but let our enemies be on notice: If our people are threatened, we will never, ever hesitate to act. And when we fight, from now on, we will only fight to win." (Translation: We're gonna surrender to the Taliban, but we're gonna kick ass in Lafayette Park.)

+ "Many of my African American friends and supporters have reached out to suggest that we consider changing the date out of respect for this Holiday, and in observance of this important occasion and all that it represents. I have therefore decided to move our rally to Saturday, June 20th." After a lot of outrage (and a dog whistle already sent), Trump postponed his Tulsa rally by a day.



"Flor, 70, who came so close to death in the spring that a night-shift nurse held a phone to his ear while his wife and kids said their final goodbyes, is recovering nicely these days at his home in West Seattle. But he says his heart almost failed a second time when he got the bill from his health care odyssey the other day." Seattle coronavirus survivor gets a $1.1 million, 181-page hospital bill.


Tired of All The Winston?

There have been a lot of statues pulled down or defaced during the protests. But where do we draw the line? Churchill statue 'may have to be put in museum', says granddaughter.


Light Conversation

"It allows anyone with a laptop and less than a thousand dollars of equipment—just a telescope and a $400 electro-optical sensor—to listen in on any sounds in a room that's hundreds of feet away in real-time, simply by observing the minuscule vibrations those sounds create on the glass surface of a light bulb inside. By measuring the tiny changes in light output from the bulb that those vibrations cause, the researchers show that a spy can pick up sound clearly enough to discern the contents of conversations or even recognize a piece of music." Spies Can Eavesdrop by Watching a Light Bulb's Vibrations. (This is why I always play Ella Fitzgerald when sharing secrets.)


Me and My R.V.

NYT: Worried About Social Distancing When Traveling? Join the Crowd and Rent an R.V. (Just what my family needs after three months of sheltering in place. A smaller space to quarantine...)


Feel Good Saturday

"Looking at hundreds of campaigns over the last century, Chenoweth found that nonviolent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns. And although the exact dynamics will depend on many factors, she has shown it takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change."

+ Woman attempting suicide in Tokyo has life saved by 20 sumo wrestlers. (This gives me hope of still becoming a lifeguard...)