Wednesday, April 27th, 2022


Pain and Buffering

Everybody hurts sometimes. With those three words, REM may have written the truest phrase in rock history. But everybody doesn't hurt equally, and some people hurt all of the time. For those not in chronic pain, it might come as a surprise to learn just how common it is and how often opiates and other pharmaceutical solutions fall short. Is there a chance that the answer could be virtual reality? "Chronic pain is generally defined as pain that has lasted three months or longer. It is one of the leading causes of long-term disability in the world. By some measures, 50 million Americans live with chronic pain, in part because the power of medicine to relieve pain remains woefully inadequate. As Daniel Clauw, who runs the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center at the University of Michigan, put it in a 2019 lecture, there isn't 'any drug in any chronic-pain state that works in better than one out of three people.' He went on to say that nonpharmacological therapy should instead be 'front and center in managing chronic pain — rather than opioids, or for that matter, any of our drugs.'" NYT (Gift Article): Can Virtual Reality Help Ease Chronic Pain? If you're a chronic pain sufferer, any reality, virtual or otherwise, is preferable to the one you're living in.


Outpouring of Support

"All around Demydiv, a village north of Kyiv, residents have been grappling with the aftermath of a severe flood, which under ordinary circumstances would have been yet another misfortune for a people under attack. This time, it was quite the opposite. In fact, it was a tactical victory in the war against Russia. The Ukrainians flooded the village intentionally." They Flooded Their Own Village, and Kept the Russians at Bay.

+ Russia is trying to expand its war in terms of geography and tactics. The latest: cutting off fuel to Poland and Bulgaria. If past is prologue, this strategy will backfire and cost Russia customers once this heinous invasion ends. Here's the latest from BBC.

+ Ukraine war to cause biggest price shock in 50 years - World Bank. (Surprising that BBC calls this "Ukraine War" in a headline. It's Putin's invasion.) More from The Conversation: War in Ukraine is pushing global acute hunger to the highest level in this century. While the American right will attempt to pin these price hikes on Biden, most of the sane world will place the blame where it belongs: Putin.


Hire Island

"He talks about nurturing the community as if he's creating a thriving town in The Sims. 'Don't try to force it ... You have to create infrastructure, but you don't own it. You have to give the power to the nomads as soon as possible.' Hall goosed things along by offering sunset hikes and afternoon swims, but eventually the newcomers took to the channel to organize their own activities. Before long, Hall says, 'Nomads were managing the nomads.'" On a sun-dappled island in the middle of the ocean a group of digital nomads is engaged in a novel experiment that might foretell the future of work. David Kushner in GQ: Escape to Zoom Island. "Tourists come to Ponta do Sol for its seafood: succulent shrimp and luscious limpets bathed in fresh olive oil and garlic, and its spears of perfectly grilled local lamb. But since about one quarter of nomads are vegetarian or vegan, restaurants had to get with the tofu and the veggies. At Steak & Sun, Freitas added vegetarian options to the menu, or, as she wrote in English: 'Betrayal of the Meat.'" (That's also the title of my unpublished memoir about my love life during college.)


Everything in Moderation

"Indeed, what struck me about his views is how much they sound like what the techies who originally created social media said in the early days. And here's the important bit: all of them eventually learned that their simplistic belief in how things should work does not work in reality and have spent the past few decades trying to iterate. And Musk ignores all of that while (somewhat hilariously) suggesting that all of those things can be figured out eventually, despite all of the hard work many, many overworked and underpaid people have been doing figuring exactly that out, only to be told by Musk he's sure they're doing it wrong." Mike Masnick on just how hard it is to get content moderation right. (Since I've haven't posted for 72 hours, it's a little easier to moderate Twitter than it has been in the past.)

+ How are people reacting to the new boss? Follow the follower counts.


Extra, Extra

Ploys Will be Ploys: "Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill Tuesday explicitly prohibiting the use of nonbinary gender markers on state birth certificates, a ban experts say is the first of its kind in the nation." This is part of a trend I call Ghost Governing. GOP states across the country are spending time making laws that affect almost no one (and those they do affect are all harmed) to rile up the voting base. Sad it happens. Sadder it works. Sometimes, it backfires, like it will if DeSantis goes through with his plan to remove Disney's special status in Florida. The real calculations will overwhelm the political ones.

+ Dose-y Doe: "New guidance from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says people over the age of 60 should not start taking daily, low-dose aspirin to prevent cardiovascular events like heart attacks or strokes." (Given how often this kind of advice is reversed, I might start taking aspirin now.)

+ Phase Out: "Nearly 60% of the population — and almost 75% of children 11 and younger — now have antibodies to it in their blood." That's one of the reasons we've exited the pandemic phase and entered the this just sucks phase.

+ 42 Be or Not to Be? "Title 42 is a previously little-known section of US health law that allows the US government to temporarily block noncitizens from entering the US." Title 42, the Trump-era border policy dividing Democrats, explained.

+ When Being a Partisan Was Good: It's Holocaust Remembrance Day. I suggest you mark the day by buying my dad's book. Trust me. It's amazing. Taking Risks: A Jewish Youth in the Soviet Partisans and His Unlikely Life in California.

+ Kebab Pics: A photo of a kebab seller surrounded by smoke won the international food photo contest. There are several great shots.


Bottom of the News

"But the loudest racket comes from columns of fast-moving traffic lining both sides of the street, which runs from the infamous ring road surrounding Paris known as the périphérique and into the city center: the two-note sirens of police cars, the diesel rumble of buses and, worst of all, the high-pitched wail of motor scooters that speed by every few seconds." To combat the ill effects of urban noise pollution, Paris is deploying automated sensors and cracking down on the loudest vehicles.

+ Researchers at MIT have developed a paper-thin speaker that can be applied to almost any surface like wallpaper, turning objects like walls into giant noise-cancelling speakers.