On reading the internets

“The pandemic has prompted some affluent Americans to wonder whether cities are broken for them, too. It has suspended the charms of urban life while accentuating the risks, reviving an hoary American tradition of regarding cities with fear and loathing — as cesspools of disease, an image that all too easily aligns with prejudices about poverty and race and crime. Even New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, has described New York City’s density as responsible for its suffering.”
The Cities We Need, by NYT Editorial Board, NYT, 11 May 2020

“PRH Ups Digital Efforts in the Covid Era: Publishers are facing a new normal when it comes to their events businesses: digital or bust. At Penguin Random House, the efforts to pivot are manifold.”
Covid-19 Impact Listing: Cancellations, Closings, Policy Changes, and More, by John Maher and PW Staff, 08 May 2020

“SophosLabs just published an informative report entitled Maze ransomware: extorting victims for 1 year and counting. Although this ransomware has existed for more than twelve months, it was originally known simply as ChaCha, after the encryption algorithm it used. From May 2019, however, the criminals behind it adopted the name “Maze”, and have even come up with their own visual ‘branding’:”
Maze ransomware one year on – a SophosLabs report, by Paul Ducklin, Sophos Blog, 11 May 2020

“People used to worry that the fossil-fuel industry would hit “peak oil” and we’d run out of crude. It now seems far more likely that it’s going to run out of money instead. Thanks to Covid-19 and the lockdowns, oil-laden tankers swing at anchor outside major ports hoping demand and price will go up to justify offloading their cargo. But long before the pandemic kicked in, the economic future had begun to sour for the petroleum majors, in a way that’s becoming clear as we move into shareholder meeting season this spring.”
Thanks to Climate Divestment, Big Oil Finally Runs Out of Gas, by Bill McKibben, NYR Daily, 12 May 2020

“Twelve years later, with Mr. Biden the presumptive 2020 Democratic nominee, the frenetic final months of the 2008 race stand as perhaps the most consequential stretch of his campaign career. It is a chapter at once critical to understanding Mr. Biden’s present thinking, according to former aides and allies — a moment, like this one, shadowed by grave national uncertainty and economic crisis — and freshly relevant after his pledge in March to name a woman to the ticket.” ~snip~ “Still, Mr. Biden was often uncharacteristically careful when discussing Ms. Palin on the trail, rarely mentioning her explicitly and conceding that their meeting might be fraught.” ~snip~ “At one event in Ohio, he had summarized their differences like this: ‘She’s good-looking.'” Well… she was… y’know, better looking than J Biden… or something. GM
Joe Biden’s Time in Sarah Palin’s Shadow, by Matt Flegenheimer, NYT, 11 May 2020

“Scientists have found evidence for mutations in some strains of the coronavirus that suggest the pathogen may be adapting to humans after spilling over from bats. The analysis of more than 5,300 coronavirus genomes from 62 countries shows that while the virus is fairly stable, some have gained mutations, including two genetic changes that alter the critical ‘spike protein’ the virus uses to infect human cells.”
Scientists concerned that coronavirus is adapting to humans, by Ian Sample, The Guardian, 10 May 2020

Maybe then it will stop killing us: a sort of viral détente.

“She then called the unemployment office and waited 6½ hours on hold. As long as the wait was, the advice she ended up getting was helpful. She was told that her rejection was likely related to the unusual filing situations of Davidson and her boyfriend: Their Uber roles are considered non-wage jobs, and their consultant positions are seen as independent contractors. Complicated unemployment filings from people in those positions can’t be greenlighted as easily, and first-time rejections are common. Davidson’s adviser told her that the unemployment office would need more time to implement a better-fitting set of filing options for non-wage employees.”
This Part-Time Consultant And Uber Driver Navigated Through Filing For Unemployment, by Chris Herring, 538, 11 May 2020

Only an agency designated to help people would keep someone on hold for 6.5 hours. I was never on hold for 6.5 hours, but last time I was on California unemployment, I’d obediently thread my way through their voicemail FOREVER only to get to a message (paraphrasing) “There’s no way to leave a message here” and then get hung up on. Yeah.

“Buffet restaurant Souplantation announced yesterday it is permanently closing all 97 of its restaurants and laying off 4,400 people. Here in Southern California, where the chain started, the sadness is palpable.”
People Are Souper Sad About Souplantation Closing — And What That Means For Buffet Restaurants, by Elina Shatkin, LAist, 08 May 2020

This is sad; they had great mushroom soup.

“A hacker has put up for sale the dates of birth, genders, website activity, mobile numbers, usernames, email addresses and MD5-hashed passwords for 3.68 million users of the Mobifriends dating app The threat actor “DonJuji” was the first to post the hacked logins—for sale. Then, another threat actor posted them on the same popular dark web hackers forum, but this time, they were offered for free. Based in Barcelona, Mobifriends is an online service and Android app designed to help users worldwide meet new people online. As of Monday, Mobifriends hadn’t yet provided a comment on the stolen user data.”
Dating app user logins found on hacking forum, by Lisa Vaas, Sophos Blog, 12 May 2020

Just wear the mask, people, please. GM
Coronavirus: California Cases and Deaths Rising Quicker than Expected, by news round-up, Los Angeleno, 11 May 2020

“Oliver explained how most of its problems are related to a 2006 law known as the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. It requires the USPS to pre-pay healthcare benefits for retirees on a 50-year schedule which equates to $5bn a year for 10 years, an ‘aggressive obligation’ which has been crippling. The law also put price caps on things like first-class mail so as they have been losing money, they haven’t been able to make any more. ‘In hindsight it seems like a pretty clear death sentence,’ Oliver said.”
John Oliver to Donald Trump: ‘The postal service is not a joke’, by John Oliver, The Guardian, 11 May 2020

Can you even have a country without a Post Office? Darrell Issa, Republican Congressman from San Diego, gets some political mileage out of being a jerk to the USPS now and then. I haven’t heard much about him lately. (Issa’s also the guy who financially backed the Gov. Gray Davis recall in 2003 thinking he, Issa, would be the next Gov. of CA, and then the Republican CA leadership did a switcheroo to Arnold Schwarzenegger. I almost got schadenfreude poisoning. Heh. Anyway.) The USPS is a private business that needs Congressional approval to do business (insert your own joke). You can thank R Nixon for privatizing it.

“But before the political fighting gets too ugly, lawmakers really ought to look at the evidence. Numerous studies have arrived at the same conclusion: Voting by mail doesn’t provide any clear partisan advantage. In fact, as states have expanded their use of mailed ballots over the last decade — including five states that conduct all-mail elections by default — both parties have enjoyed a small but equal increase in turnout.”
There Is No Evidence That Voting By Mail Gives One Party An Advantage, by Lee Drutman, 538, 12 May 2020

See? Post Office! America! Apple Pie! Or something!

“The state of California announced Tuesday that it’s suing Uber and Lyft, alleging that by treating drivers as independent contractors, the companies are violating a state law that mandates those workers be treated as employees.”
California Is Suing Uber And Lyft Over How They Treat Drivers, by David Wagner, LAist, 5 May 2020

Aaaah, disrupting the disruptors. Oh, where will it end? Hopefully with Uber and Lyft drivers getting unemployment benefits.


As we are, so we associate. The good, by affinity, seek the good; the vile, by affinity, the vile. Thus of their own volition, souls proceed into Heaven, into Hell.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

As we grow old, the beauty steals inward.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

At 30 a man should know himself like the palm of his hand, know the exact number of his defects and qualities, know how far he can go, foretell his failures – be what he is. And, above all, accept these things.
Albert Camus

At any street corner the feeling of absurdity can strike any man in the face.
Albert Camus

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
Albert Camus

Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Basically, at the very bottom of life, which seduces us all, there is only absurdity, and more absurdity. And maybe that’s what gives us our joy for living, because the only thing that can defeat absurdity is lucidity.
Albert Camus

Beauty is an outward gift, which is seldom despised, except by those to whom it has been refused.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time.
Albert Camus

Beauty without expression is boring.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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