lofi smash mouth radio - beats to relax/study to

Courtesy Griffin McElroy and the game Fuser, an extremely cursèd DJ set: lofi smash mouth radio - beats to relax/study to

Fuser is basically Rock Band, only for DJs, and is available for Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Hard to say what's most cursed about this set, but Griffin laughing at around 10:34 because he's just created Killing in the Name of Call Me Maybe is a strong contender.

Trump Fears His Campaign Legal Team Composed of ‘Fools That Are Making Him Look Bad’

Dan Mangan, CNBC:

Trump is worried that his campaign’s legal team, which is being led by his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, is composed of “fools that are making him look bad,” NBC News reported Monday.

That group, which has unironically called itself an “elite strike force team,” to date has failed to win any legal victories that would invalidate votes for Biden, the former Democratic vice president, even as they tout wildly broad claims of fraud for which they have offered no convincing evidence.

The Trump legal team unceremoniously parted ways with attorney Sidney Powell, who, just last week, explained how the election was rigged by Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013.

Trump worrying now that his legal team is a bunch of crackpots making him look bad is like the moment when the captain of the Titanic, already half submerged, said, “Hey, I’m starting to think this ship is not unsinkable.”

Link: cnbc.com/2020/11/23/trump-fears-giuliani-and-other-biden…

Every level is different

the world on the back of an elephant on the back of a turtle on the back of a turtle on the back of a turtle...

The world rests on the back of a great elephant.
The elephant stands on the back of an even greater turtle.
“What does the turtle stand on?”
Oh, another turtle. It’s turtles all the way down.

probably from William James
How far is all the way down?

Maybe the quantum level. Here, quarks experience unfamiliar forces like the strong and weak nuclear interaction. These quarks form particles in the nucleus of an atom.

Atoms who meet cares a lot about electrostatic forces. How many electrons in the outer layer? What other atoms and compounds are nearby? This determines how atoms combine into molecules. Carbon atoms have 4 electrons (leaving 4 free spots) in their outer electron layer, so they’re good at forming big molecules: proteins.

In protein interactions, shape matters. Then proteins combine, construct more proteins, and build up into cells.

Cells interact by passing messages. Cells combine into tissues, which (in mammals) draw on supply systems like blood vessels for what they need, bones for structure, nerves to signal distress.

Organs, in their interactions, somehow support consciousness.

Then we have people.

People, individuals, who interact with language and combine to form teams. Teams that might build software.

Software, that is composed of programs interacting through messages over a network.

Programs, that are composed of objects (in Java), which contain functions calling functions.

Functions, composed of expressions and statements, which are expanded by the compiler into constituent machine instructions.

Machine instructions, executed in silicon. Silicon, like carbon, has 4 electrons spots in its outer electron shell. Like carbon, it is abundant in the Earth’s crust. It combines well into transistors, which combine into CPUs that execute machine instructions.

Of course, it’s more complex, with more layers than this.

At each level of scale, things work differently. We think differently.

When a cell combines proteins, it doesn’t handle each quark.

When we touch a button in a GUI, we don’t consider each machine instruction.

The forces and abstractions that matter are different.

Quantum forces matter to quarks and atoms. Electromagnetic forces matter to molecules and proteins. At macroscopic scales, we work with gravity.

Machine instructions interact through registers. Functions interact with the call stack, and through shared memory. Programs interact with network calls.

When we try to scale an abstraction past the level where it works, we get problems.

Functions only work within a process. When you try to scale them out, you get RPC (remote procedure calls), and that is a mistake. Data across the network has different problems than data in shared memory.

You don’t change the amount of fatty tissue in your abdomen by changing the amount of fat you ingest. Person-level decisions don’t translate to tissue behavior.

When a communication strategy well for a team of five people, that doesn’t mean it works for a company of five hundred.

People form teams, and teams form organizations, and organizations form companies.

Developing software as an individual is different from developing it in a team. My head is ruled by perception and action. My team flourishes on relationships. Like network calls, communication is not reliable; we check for understanding frequently, and consciously maintain common ground.

The original agile methods of pairing, daily checking in, and regular reflection in retrospectives work well for teams. There’s no reason to think the same techniques will work at the organizational level.

The forces, considerations, interactions, and abstractions are different at every level of scale, both downward and upward.

A casual manner of speaking builds relationships within a team. Within an organization, some of that helps, but so does a clear agenda. The farther up the scale of social systems, the more formal and deliberate the communication. Misunderstandings are easier across diverse contexts, and checking for understanding is much harder. Writing skills are crucial at wider levels.

As much as I enjoy the phrase “turtles all the way down,” I must admit it doesn’t work. It’s never turtles all the way down. It’s different animals at every level.

the world on the back of an elephant on a turtle on an alligator on a seal on a crab on a deer on a cat with a guitar on a tiger on a rabbit

Pictures combined from Gordon Johnson, Clker-Free-Vector-Images, OpenClipart-Vectors, bknis, 13smok from Pixabay

Latria Graham: On Being Black in the Outdoors

In May of 2018, journalist and avid explorer of the outdoors Latria Graham wrote an essay for Outside Magazine, We're Here. You Just Don't See Us. "We are doing it. We are out there. We always have been. My Instagram feed is filled with people of color tackling V12 climbs, ascending mountains, teaching their children how to read the sky," she wrote. Responses to her essay overwhelmed her, and readers wanted to know how they could be safe in spaces that aren't always welcoming to people of color. In September of 2020, Graham answered: "The unraveling of this country in the summer of 2020 has forced me to reckon with my actions, my place in the natural world, and the fact that as a Black woman writer in America, I am tasked with telling you a terrible truth: I am so sorry. I have nothing of merit to offer you as protection." Out There, Nobody Can Hear You Scream.

Found via Think, from KERA; November 23, 2020 episode, She Escaped To Nature — But Racism Followed (downloadable podcast).

Two reports raise questions on early autism treatments.

Hot on each other's heels, an umbrella review from Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (based in Australia) and a meta-analysis from Boston University have flagged a range of concerns.

An umbrella review of "the findings of a decade of non-pharmacological intervention research" from Autism CRC, according to its authors, did find "evidence for a number of interventions" but also found that "quality of life outcomes were rarely assessed". (Link to umbrella review.) Meanwhile, Boston University researchers conducted a meta-analysis "to determine whether psychoeducational therapies for young autistic children are effective" and, say its authors, found "three ethical problems": poor study design, failure to disclose conflicts of interest, and a "lack attention to adverse outcomes". (Link to Psychological Bulletin page.)

Emphasis here is mine.

Four Quick Links for Tuesday Afternoon

This video introduced me to NF, a rapper who doesn't swear, doesn't beef w/ others, raps about mental illness, and wears his vulnerability on his sleeve. [youtube.com]

Margaret Thatcher in a private audience with the Queen. (Literally laughed until I cried watching this...) [twitter.com]

"The reconstructed infectiousness profile of a typical SARS-CoV-2 patient peaks just before symptom presentation." [science.sciencemag.org]

The gadget comeback of 2020. "Did you expect to spend your summer trying to figure out if an air purifier made by a Bluetooth speaker company was going to be sufficient to clear the atmosphere in your isolation pod on an increasingly hostile planet?" [nytimes.com]


Note: Quick Links are pushed to this RSS feed twice a day. For more immediate service, check out the front page of kottke.org, the Quick Links archive, or the @kottke Twitter feed.

SoundCloud’s Phoenix Rises

It wasn’t that long ago that, along with many others, this blog was contemplating the possibility of SoundCloud’s demise. Yesterday it was announced, via an annual report, that SoundCloud just achieved its first profitable quarter. I’ve always rooted for SoundCloud, so I’m happy for the previously troubled company. 

We can guess at multiple factors for this success. Kerry Trainor’s guidance as CEO looks valuable. As he was previously in charge of Vimeo, many hoped he would bring SoundCloud’s focus back to creators after its short attempt to rival other streaming platforms. SoundCloud’s strength and distinction is its creator community. The shift back to those roots under Trainor (helped by the phenomenon of SoundCloud Rap) put the company back on a lot of radars.

SoundCloud’s integrations and partnerships added value to the service, creating more income opportunities and Pro-level subscribers. Distribution via Repost to the likes of Spotify, AI mastering through Landr, and integrations with multiple DJ software partners (including Pioneer, Serato, and Native Instruments) — among other features — offer an attractive proposition for artists. Platforms like Spotify and Apple Music are wary of such integrations, presumably to keep us within their walled gardens. But users love to tie together the multiple apps and services they use, especially when sharing and promoting music. SoundCloud is smart to welcome these third-party collaborators.

In Music Business Weekly, SoundCloud boasts of 250 million tracks on the platform, versus the 70 million-ish songs on Spotify. Of course, these aren’t all polished songs — this number counts all the demos, goof-offs, DJ mixes, spoken content, and sound collages found on SoundCloud. But this brings out another factor for SoundCloud’s renewed success — the pandemic. In the report, SoundCloud says COVID-times have presented “a true mix of tailwinds and headwinds” (perhaps the understatement of the year). It seems advertising income is the central area of uncertainty. In the ‘tailwind’ category, artists and budding artists in lockdown are adding more music than ever to SoundCloud. Subscriptions are on the rise, as are paying users of the Repost distribution service (estimated to number at 80,000 artists this month). 

Time will tell if this profitable quarter is a fluke for SoundCloud. Spotify only recently achieved occasionally profitable quarters, but its finances still hang in the balance. However, I blanch at writing about profits and earnings reports in this blog, especially as a success measure. What’s important to me is the persistence of this vital tool for sound-creators and their communities. SoundCloud remains a piece of the music ecosystem puzzle and a necessary stomping ground for new and emerging artists worldwide.

🔗Soundcloud’s Revenues Jumped 37% to $166m in 2019 – and It’s Just Posted Its First Ever Profitable Quarter

The post SoundCloud’s Phoenix Rises appeared first on 8Sided Blog.

The Brotherhood Of Steel are coming to Fallout 76 a week early

You’d think it’d be hard to get anywhere early, weighed down by all that power armour. And yet, despite all odds, the Brotherhood Of Steel has marched into Fallout 76 a little earlier than planned. After accidentally gifting Xbox players the gift of technophilic paladins, Bethesda have chosen to just give the update to everyone rather than roll back the update and have folks wait another week. Nice!


A Framework for the Equitable Allocation of a COVID-19 Vaccine

Now that the preliminary results of various Covid-19 vaccine trials are coming out (and looking promising), attention is turning to the eventual distribution of the vaccines. The logistics of getting the doses out to hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices is one concern but so is the question of who should get vaccinated first. Supplies of the vaccines will be limited at first, so we’ll need to decide as a society what distribution method is most fair and is of the most benefit to the greatest number of people.

To this end, and in response to a request by the CDC and NIH, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine formed a committee to produce a report called Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine. The 252-page report is available to the public for free to read online or download.

In addition several recommendations — including that the vaccine be distributed to everyone free of charge — a central feature of the report is a four-phase system of vaccine distribution, summarized in this graphic:

Four-phase framework for the equitable allocation of a COVID-19 vaccine

I’d like to stress that this graphic does not show all groups of people included in each phase — please consult the text of the report for that before you go sharing that graphic on social media without context. For example, here’s the full description for “high-risk health workers” in Phase 1a:

This group includes frontline health care workers (who are in hospitals, nursing homes, or providing home care) who either (1) work in situations where the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission is higher, or (2) are at an elevated risk of transmitting the infection to patients at higher risk of mortality and severe morbidity. These individuals — who are themselves unable to avoid exposure to the virus — play a critical role in ensuring that the health system can care for COVID-19 patients.

These groups include not only clinicians (e.g., nurses, physicians, respiratory technicians, dentists and hygienists) but also other workers in health care settings who meet the Phase 1a risk criteria (e.g., nursing assistants, environmental services staff, assisted living facility staff, long-term care facility staff, group home staff, and home caregivers). The health care settings employing these workers who are at increased risk of exposure to the virus may also include ambulatory and urgent care clinics; dialysis centers; blood, organ, and tissue donation facilities; and other non-hospital health care facilities. Finally, there are community and family settings where care for infected patients occurs. Not all the workers in these settings are paid for their labor, but, while they are caring for infected people, they all need to be protected from the virus.

Situations associated with higher risk of transmission include caring for COVID-19 patients, cleaning areas where COVID-19 patients are admitted, treated, and housed, and performing procedures with higher risk of aerosolization such as endotracheal intubation, bronchoscopy, suctioning, turning the patient to the prone position, disconnecting the patient from the ventilator, invasive dental procedures and exams, invasive specimen collection, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. In addition, there are other frontline health care workers who, if they have uncontrolled exposure to the patients or the public in the course of their work, should be in this initial phase. This group includes those individuals distributing or administering the vaccine — especially in areas of higher community transmission — such as pharmacists, plasma and blood donation workers, public health nurses, and other public health and emergency preparedness workers. The committee also includes morticians, funeral home workers, and other death care professionals involved in handling bodies as part of this high-risk group.

The report declines to list specific industries which would be covered in Phase 2’s “critical workers in high-risk settings” but generally says:

The industries in which these critical workers are employed are essential to keeping society and the economy functioning. Since the beginning of the pandemic, millions of people have been going to work and risking exposure to the virus to ensure that markets have food; drug stores have pharmaceutical products; public safety and order are maintained; mail and packages are delivered; and buses, trains, and planes are operating.

Note also the text at the bottom of the graphic: they recommend that within each phase, priority be given to geographic areas where folks are more socially vulnerable in situations like these (e.g. as represented in the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index).

In developing this phased approach, the committee focused on those who are at the most risk of exposure, severe illness or death, and passing along the virus to others as well as critical workers:

Risk of acquiring infection: Individuals have higher priority to the extent that they have a greater probability of being in settings where SARS-CoV-2 is circulating and of being exposed to a sufficient dose of the virus.

Risk of severe morbidity and mortality: Individuals have higher priority to the extent that they have a greater probability of severe disease or death if they acquire infection.

Risk of negative societal impact: Individuals have higher priority to the extent that societal function and other individuals’ lives and livelihood depend on them directly and would be imperiled if they fell ill.

Risk of transmitting infection to others: Individuals have higher priority to the extent that there is a higher probability of their transmitting the infection to others.

You should read (or at least skim) the full report for more information about the plan and the rationale behind it.

On a personal parting note, as someone who is squarely in the 5-15% of Americans covered in Phase 4 — more specifically: as a 40-something straight white man who non-essentially works from home, isn’t low-income, doesn’t socialize widely even under normal circumstances, and should probably be the very last person on this whole Earth scheduled to be vaccinated under an equitable framework — I am content to wait my turn should the US adopt this framework or something like it.1 Distributing vaccines to those who need them most is absolutely the right thing to do, both ethically and from the standpoint of getting society “back to normal” as quickly as possible and with as little additional death and suffering as possible.

  1. Being that equity often isn’t America’s thing, especially during the pandemic, I could see this going either way. And even if this framework is adopted, those who can afford it will undoubtably be able to procure themselves a dose right alongside those medical workers in Phase 1a.

Tags: COVID-19   medicine   science   USA   vaccines

If You’ve Ever Wondered About My Sense of Humor, Here’s a Good Example

Athena ScalziAs a teen, I really liked adult cartoons, like South Park, Family Guy, and American Dad (and I was in my early teens when Rick & Morty came out, but didn’t watch it until I was about sixteen). I’m not really a big fan of most of those titles anymore but they were hilarious to me when I was younger. However, there was one adult cartoon that I saw when I was eighteen that was gold called Final Space.

Final Space is a hilarious, action-packed space opera created by Olan Rogers. I highly recommend it (the first season at least since I have yet to see the second), but this post is not about Final Space (though if you do want to know more about the show you can read my recommendation here)! I am actually going to share one of the creator’s videos from YouTube with you. He does like, little story time videos where he talks about funny stuff that’s happened to him, and this particular story got animated by a user named Cranbersher.

This video honestly made me cry laughing the first time I saw it, and it’s made me laugh every time I’ve seen it since. The animation is so good, plus the hilarity of the story itself, it’s just two powerful forces combining into one amazingly funny video that I hope you will enjoy. I’ve shown this video to like, five other people, and none of them find it nearly as funny as I do, but I’m hoping one of you will! So without further ado, here is The Bad Apple.


Part of the reason I actually decided to post this is because in the beginning he mentions that his grandpa always came to visit around Thanksgiving, and guess what! It’s around Thanksgiving! So I thought it’d be a good, wholesome, holiday-ish themed family friendly thing to share with y’all.

Anyway, if you’ve ever wondered what kind of stuff really gets me cacklin’, here it is. This is comedy gold. Peak hilarity. I hope you liked it! And as always, have a great day.


Chinese American

While most Chinese Americans vote Democrat, right-wing Chinese Americans have been spreading conspiracy theories and disinformation among Chinese-language speakers (Foreign Policy), aided in part by Steve Bannon (NYT). Shen Lu reports how sites like Chinese American and North America Headlines are starting to fight back; what happens when you're kicked off Weibo; and the new wave of Chinese-language progressive podcasts.


The astonishing cinematics of Shadowlands’ Maw opening experience left us hungry for more

We’ve talked before about how Battle for Azeroth used cinematics to expand on its storytelling, but I have to say, watching how Blizzard has merged its various kinds of cinematics in Shadowlands is nothing short of breathtaking. The mixture of rendered cinematics that use in-game assets with the special in-game cinematics that include your character gives the entire...

Microsoft Flight Sim's second world update spit-shines the USA

Yee-haw, pilots. Lasso the young’uns to their seats, because Microsoft Flight Simulator‘s next stop is the grand old US of A. The massive aviation sandbox just pushed its second world update, granting a number of states with improved resolutions, laying down some hand-crafted airports and 50 spruced-up points-of-interest to make your stateside tours an absolute treat.


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