Thursday, March 18th, 2021


Your Face Will Give You Away

Advances in facial recognition technology are making it as easy to track you offline as it is on the internet. In fact, the photos you share online are being scraped to better identify you as you move through the terrestrial world. On one hand, law enforcement is more likely to catch criminals with these technologies. On the other hand, our minute to minute anonymity could be blown to smithereens. The NYT's Kashmir Hill has tracked this story as well as facial recognition software is tracking you. Your Face Is Not Your Own. (How good is this technology? Someday soon, you might find yourself logging on to the internet for a little privacy.)

+ The real story of tech is that it can do amazing things and it can do troubling things. Let's end this section with the amazing part. The New Yorker: The Pastry A.I. That Learned to Fight Cancer. "In Japan, a system designed to distinguish croissants from bear claws has turned out to be capable of a whole lot more." (I worry my kids could use this technology to find out what happens to all the ice cream bars after they go to sleep.)


Surge Supressor

"The US may be on the cusp of another Covid-19 case surge, one expert says -- but the mass vaccination of the most vulnerable Americans is likely to limit its human cost." (This pandemic has been a nightmare, but imagine what it would look like if the vaccine wasn't created in record time or if kids were as victimized as the elderly.)

+ EU agency says AstraZeneca vaccine is 'safe and effective.' Will this statement be enough to get people to roll up their sleeves?


Spa Shootings

NYMag with the Message From the Heart of the Atlanta Attacks: "America is getting worse. We just hope America goes in the right direction and not the wrong one." There's a bizarre public debate about whether this crime was about Asian hate. Of course it was, and there's been a major increase in such crimes during the pandemic. It can be a sex-related crime, a mental illness crime, and an anti-Asian crime at all once. (What we know it wasn't was just a "bad day" for the shooter.) But it's also about America's relationship with guns and violence. "The police said they had caught the suspect, Robert Aaron Long, 21, as he was on his way to Florida to carry out similar violence on a business tied to the 'porn industry.' They were able to track his phone after his parents called in the tip. Mr. Long had been found with a 9-millimeter gun when he was stopped, the police said. Matt Kilgo, a lawyer for Big Woods Goods, a gun shop and shooting range in Canton, Ga., said Mr. Long had bought a gun legally from the shop on Tuesday before the shooting." Here's the latest from the NYT.

+ WaPo: The long, ugly history of anti-Asian racism and violence in the U.S.

+ We've had a big increase in anti-Asian acts in the Bay Area. One ended a little differently than most. This Elderly Asian Woman Beat Her Attacker With a Stick and Left Him Bloodied.


Filibust a Move

Joe Biden has indicated his support for some filibuster reform. So this is good time for an AP explainer: What's the Senate filibuster and why change it?


Qwerty Dancing

"In a crosswalk at rush hour, you thread your way through the oncoming crowd, your eyes passing over the faces before you. This wayfinding might feel like something you're doing on your own. But scientists who study the movements of crowds have found that a simple trip through a crowd is much more like a dance we perform with those around us." But if you're looking at your phone during that dance, you end up turning the waltz into a box step. NYT: If You Look at Your Phone While Walking, You're an Agent of Chaos.


Indiana’s Jones

"Sixty-eight college basketball teams have converged in Indiana this week for the NCAA men's tournament. It is an unprecedented condensing of a nationwide tourney, an audacious attempt at pulling off March Madness in pandemic times, a logistical leap of faith and hope. They've come to the right place. The only place, really." Sports Illustrated: For Indiana, Hosting March Madness Renews an Epic Tradition of Hoosier Hysteria.


How He Rolled

"Hoyt first pushed Rick, who is quadriplegic and has cerebral palsy, in a 1977 race and entered their first Boston Marathon in 1980 using a special racing wheelchair. They competed in a total of 32 Boston Marathon races as well as other competitions. Hoyt became famous for his commitment to including his son in the races however he could." Boston Marathon icon Dick Hoyt, who pushed his son in wheelchair, dies at 80.

+ Here's a great HBO Real Sports edition on Dick and his son.


Alone Together

"If loneliness comes about when there's a discrepancy between the amount of quality time you want to spend with other people and how much you actually get, being aloney is a mismatch between the amount of quality time you would like to spend all by yourself, and how much you're actually able to do so." Vice: We Feel ‘Alonely' When We Don't Get Enough Time By Ourselves.


They’re Slaying Our Song

"As the population of the critically endangered regent honeyeater plummeted over the years, some young birds could no longer find older ones to teach them to sing, a new study reports. As a result, the birds have failed to learn the songs they need for courtship and other evolutionary business." NYT: How Does That Song Go? This Bird Couldn't Say. "We find that some males, if they're not paired, just spend all their day singing, looking for a mate." (These birds are basically reliving my college experience...)


Bottom of the News

"Cheese skipper flies, Piophila casei, lay their eggs in cracks that form in cheese, usually fiore sardo, the island's salty pecorino. Maggots hatch, making their way through the paste, digesting proteins in the process, and transforming the product into a soft creamy cheese. Then the cheesemonger cracks open the top -- which is almost untouched by maggots -- to scoop out a spoonful of the creamy delicacy." Casu marzu: The world's 'most dangerous' cheese. (I suffer from maggot intolerance.)