Monday, December 13th, 2021


Me, Myself, and AI

"Researchers have tried to study talking therapy for years to unlock the secrets of why some therapists get better results than others. It can be as much art as science, based on the experience and gut instinct of qualified therapists. It's been virtually impossible to fully quantify what works and why—until now." Saying the right thing to the right patient at the right time can be a game changer when it comes to therapy. Now, researchers are aiming AI at piles of data from therapy sessions to see if there's a way to assess what works. "The aim is to give therapists better insight into what they do, helping experienced therapists maintain a high standard of care and helping trainees improve. Amid a global shortfall in care, an automated form of quality control could be essential in helping clinics meet demand." MIT Tech Review: The therapists using AI to make therapy better. I spend all day browsing news sites. My therapist needs all the help he can get.


Won’t You Stay Just a Little Bit Longer?

"PepsiCo [will] invest $190 million in northern Central America through 2025, including improvements to its manufacturing plants in the region ... Cargill, a global food corporation, would invest an additional $150 million in the region with the aim of improving 'farmer livelihoods and building economic resilience' in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador." WaPo: VP Harris announces private-sector investments as she seeks to address migration from Central America. (Interesting photo choice given that it's a positive story.) It will be interesting to see if the US can stem the tide of northern migration by making conditions better in Central America. In the words of Tracy Chapman: Give me one reason to stay here, And I'll turn right back around.


Tragic Tornados

"The Koon family huddled together in the bathroom, knowing a twister was tearing a path of destruction toward them. They were 'thinking we were going to die,' Jackie Koon said. And then it arrived. "We all went flying and ended up way on the other end of our neighbor's house." We all went flying,' Kentucky family says after tornado sucked them out of bathroom.

+ ‘We have to find her.' A tornado warning, a phone call, then a day of searching in Mayfield.

+ "Burton can't imagine a single family here not mourning. Theirs is the sort of town where everyone is connected to everyone else." ‘Y'all pray for Mayfield': Town grieves in tornado aftermath.

+ Those are just a few of the countless brutal reflections on the insane tornados that ripped through Kentucky and neighboring states, flattening towns and killing at least 100 people. Here are photos, some drone footage, and the latest from CNN.

+ Deadly collapse at Amazon warehouse puts spotlight on phone ban.

+ This man drove half an hour with a grill and a truckload of food and parked right in the middle of Mayfield.

+ A photo from a tornado-damaged home lands almost 130 miles away.


Postcards From the Edge

"The weekend outbreak illustrates an extreme scenario of what can happen when all the ingredients that cause devastating tornadoes come together in spades." Tornado outbreak offers a grim climate warning. Of course, we don't need any more grim warnings at this point. The NYT with an incredible interactive look at 193 stories that show the reality of climate change, in every country in the world. Postcards From a World on Fire.


Battle of the Vigilante Bands

"The Texas law allows private citizens to enforce the ban, empowering them to sue abortion clinics and anyone else who 'aids and abets' with the procedure." California's Gavin Newsom says if Texas is going to empower private citizens in this way when it comes to abortion, he's going to do the same when it comes to guns. California's governor pledges to model an assault weapons ban on Texas abortion law.


Care Bear Market

"Americans are leading their lives as if COVID is over, and they have been for a long while. In my part of rural southwest Michigan, and in similar communities throughout the country, this is true not despite but without any noticeable regard for cases." The Atlantic: Where I Live, No One Cares About COVID. (Where I live, no one understands this attitude and we've got 800,000 pieces of data to bolster our position. Also, in the county where I live, we currently have zero Covid patients in the ICU.)

+ How about where Boris Johnson lives? "It's spreading at a phenomenal rate, something that we've never seen before -- it's doubling every two to three days in infections." Britain battles Omicron 'tidal wave,' as infections double every two to three days and first death from variant is recorded.


The Night We Never Met

"On Thursday, the Met released a short statement saying that 'seven named exhibition spaces in the Museum, including the wing that houses the iconic Temple of Dendur, will no longer carry the Sackler name.' It was not the first museum to take such action (the Louvre had already done so), nor was it the first major American institution (Tufts University took the name down in 2018, followed by New York University last year). But the Met is in a class of its own. Not only is it the premier art museum in the United States, it is the museum with which the Sackler family has the longest history." The New Yorker: An Astounding List of Artists Helped Persuade the Met to Remove the Sackler Name.


Like a Hen in a Fox House

"In his sign-off Sunday, Wallace said his next adventure would let him 'go beyond politics to all the things I'm interested in.' He didn't say what exactly that new role would be, but within hours CNN announced he would anchor a weekly interview show on its new subscription streaming service." Chris Wallace announces abrupt departure from Fox News. I know Chris Wallace was supposedly one of the good ones at Fox News. That might have meant something before 2020 when Fox committed countless media crimes against humanity. At this point, it's too late to quit. It's too late to be let off the hook. And it's too soon for CNN to give him a gig. Meanwhile, the move is further evidence that Fox News is getting rid of all the sanity so the monsters can have the full schedule. (I preferred the Succession season finale.)


Fob Mentality

Car companies are all about subscriptions these days. But Toyota is taking it to extremes. Toyota owners have to pay $8/mo to keep using their key fob for remote start. In this case, the mob is making you an offer you can refuse.


Bottom of the News

"'Just dropping some friends off at the pool,' the 50-year-old zillionaire informed his 66 million Twitter followers on the evening of Nov. 29, having previously advised that at least half his tweets were 'made on a porcelain throne.' After an interval—21 minutes, if you must know—an update: 'Splish splash.'" That was just one aspect of his personality that landed Elon Musk on top of Time's throne as the 2021 Person of the Year. (The Time Person of the Year Award comes with a free trip to Mars. One way.)