Friday, October 23, 2020

How to Tell If Socializing Indoors Is Safe


 The greatest enemy of authority, therefore, is contempt, and the surest way to undermine it is laughter.

— Hannah Arendt, born in 1906

We all experience loneliness, but we experience it differently. For Hannah Arendt, it was the essence of totalitarianism  

How to Tell If Socializing Indoors Is Safe - The Atlantic: “…No indoor gathering will be perfectly safe. Although many states have allowed indoor public settings such as gyms and restaurants to reopen at least in some capacity, experts don’t recommend spending a lot of time indoors with others, especially in situations where masking isn’t possible. The odds of catching the coronavirus are about 20 times higher indoors, and private, indoor gatherings have been linked to several coronavirus outbreaks. In June, a surprise birthday party in Texas resulted in18 coronavirus cases. In July, a house party in Michigan led to 43 cases, and a family gathering in North Carolina led to 40 cases because the attendees “went about their daily lives” before they started showing symptoms. In some places, in-home gatherings are now responsible for the majority of new coronavirus cases. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report showed how a chain of family gatherings in Chicago led to three deaths. But it’s unrealistic to expect Americans to stay inside all winter without seeing anyone. Even if people could do that without going batty, it’s likely that, with January feeling endless and no stay-at-home order in place, people will take their chances. “Making a rule that says zero indoor gatherings until we have a vaccine is totally impractical,” says Julia Marcus, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School. In the absence of such a rule, “we have a mishmash of risk communication and guidelines from different entities,” Marcus told me, “and people are continuing to muddle through. It’s funny, because now I’m sitting here thinking, What are the rules in my city? I actually don’t know.”…

'Door ajar for corruption': ICAC head says grant processes 'raise serious questions'

Greens MP David Shoebridge said the NSW government used "public money to bankroll their election campaign".

"The Greens view this behaviour as corruption, with the Premier and Deputy Premier's fingerprints all over it," Mr Shoebridge told the upper house.

One Nation leader Mark Latham described the distribution of the government's Stronger Communities Fund as the "mother of all rorts" and an abuse of "other people's money".

"One gets the impression they did this because they could," Mr Latham told the Parliament.

In one case, Ryde Council received funding of more than $2 million for a skate park before applying for a grant, while Hornsby Council, which was not amalgamated, received $90 million to turn a quarry into a park. Both councils are in Coalition-held seats.

Don Harwin: NSW government dealt embarrassing blow as leader kicked out of upper house

Adding complexity, taxes the issue of equity – Part 1

More sensible than the Government’s Stage 3 tax cuts would be the approach put forward by the Henry Tax Review of an explicit and high tax threshold and no means-tested ‘tax offsets’. Continue reading 

How The Church Of England Bought Into Beyonce’s All The Single Ladies And Justin Timberlake’s Sexyback

Wait a second, those royalties are going to whom? Well: “The church is one of hundreds of investors in a company called Hipgnosis, which, for the past three years, has been hungrily snapping up the rights to thousands of hit songs.” – BBC

Freedom on the Net 2020: The Pandemic’s Digital Shadow – “The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating a dramatic decline in global internet freedom. For the 10th consecutive year, users have experienced an overall deterioration in their rights, and the phenomenon is contributing to a broader crisis for democracy worldwide. In the COVID-19 era, connectivity is not a convenience, but a necessity. Virtually all human activities—commerce, education, health care, politics, socializing—seem to have moved online. But the digital world presents distinct challenges for human rights and democratic governance. State and nonstate actors in many countries are now exploiting opportunities created by the pandemic to shape online narratives, censor critical speech, and build new technological systems of social control. Three notable trends punctuated an especially dismal year for internet freedom.

  • First, political leaders used the pandemic as a pretext to limit access to information. Authorities often blocked independent news sites and arrested individuals on spurious charges of spreading false news. In many places, it was state officials and their zealous supporters who actually disseminated false and misleading information with the aim of drowning out accurate content, distracting the public from ineffective policy responses, and scapegoating certain ethnic and religious communities. Some states shut off connectivity for marginalized groups, extending and deepening existing digital divides. In short, governments around the world failed in their obligation to promote a vibrant and reliable online public sphere…
  • Second, authorities cited COVID-19 to justify expanded surveillance powers and the deployment of new technologies that were once seen as too intrusive. The public health crisis has created an opening for the digitization, collection, and analysis of people’s most intimate data without adequate protections against abuses. Governments and private entities are ramping up their use of artificial intelligence (AI), biometric surveillance, and big-data tools to make decisions that affect individuals’ economic, social, and political rights…
  • The third trend has been the transformation of a slow-motion “splintering” of the internet into an all-out race toward “cyber sovereignty,” with each government imposing its own internet regulations in a manner that restricts the flow of information across national borders. For most of the period since the internet’s inception, business, civil society, and government stakeholders have participated in a consensus-driven process to harmonize technical protocols, security standards, and commercial regulation around the world. This approach allowed for the connection of billions of people to a global network of information and services, with immeasurable benefits for human development, including new ways to hold powerful actors to account…”

Why Do Certain Artworks Get Stolen Over And Over Again?

Munch’s The Scream has been carted off by thieves twice, there are three Dutch Old Masters paintings that have been stolen three times each in the past 50 years, and the poor old Ghent Altarpiece has been taken an unlucky 13 times. Such works become famous, and thus very hard to fence, so why would they be repeat targets? Because, say two experts, stealing them can get the thieves clout — clout of more than one kind. – The Art Newspaper

Good Governance Paper No. 4: Oversight of the Intelligence Community JustSecurity. As always, check the Board


Canadian soldiers’ fight against disinformation ends up alarming residents Straits Times

 Who Elected Donald Trump? Counterpunch (JH). Very good.

Income Composition Inequality Marco Ranaldi, Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality


4 Democratic senators demand Jeff Bezos respond to allegations that Amazon spies on staff and undermines their right to unionizeBusiness Insider 


The Town That Went Feral The New Republic. In a totally “rights-respecting manner,” no doubt

Barilaro back from leave, says he is worried for Premier's mental health