WTF Weekly for Apr 13, 2020
Another week of social distancing, but it hasn’t exactly slowed things down for me at work. Semiconductor test is already pretty hands-on, and more so when you’re in development. I’m not one of those people who suddenly has more free time to watch movies and tv and read books and listen to podcasts. The vast majority of my work is still on-site, and while a lot of people are working from home, that hasn’t stopped them from pestering me constantly.
I have, however, been staying at home, grocery shopping aside, on my days off. And it’s going to take a long time before I’m tired of it. I’m built for this. I have more projects than time, and all I need is my iPad and occasionally my iMac to do all of them.
I do miss restaurants, but empty roads and empty buildings at work make me happy. It’s like it used to be around here 20 years ago.
What is wildly different than 20 years ago is the state of this country I currently call home. It is run by corrupt incompetents, and it is not prepared to deal with anything less than the best of times, and we are not living in the best of times.
Japan has been a fascinating contrast to much of the world during the Covid-19 pandemic. Japanese haven’t apparently adopted what the rest of the world thinks of as social distancing measures, and yet has been portrayed as having largely avoided an outbreak of Coronavirus cases. But it’s hard to judge the reality from outside the country.
In fact, just last week Abe declared a state of emergency for several prefectures. It could well be that Japan was complacent about its own vulnerability to the virus.
I haven’t decided if I believe the world will change once the worst of the virus is over, or if I believe it will all just go back to normal. I hope for the former; I fear the latter.
One thing I do know is that the lifestyle we’ve carved out for ourselves, with the vast majority of adults driving or riding public transportation at the same times and being forced to all show up at work during the same hours is insane. The reason everyone at work constantly looks like they want to kill themselves is because they do. We all do. Something has to give.
The pandemic has forced numerous universities to move classes online, prompting calls from students for reimbursements of tuition and expenses. If, come fall semester, universities are still teaching online, what percentage of those students will re-enroll at pre-crisis tuition levels? The worldwide remote learning experiment that is currently underway may demonstrate that higher learning can function effectively at a fraction of in-person costs. If it does, it may lead to a reckoning that transforms the delivery of higher education, particularly for less-selective universities, as students re-weigh the costs and benefits of a four-year residential experience.
If nothing else changes based on this current pandemic, I hope this one does. If it doesn’t, it won’t be long before only the very wealthy are educated in the U.S., and those people who are the exceptions will be laden with tuition loan debt their entire adult lives.
The news that a tiger in New York had caught the coronavirus was eye-catching. Who the hell did a tiger know to get tested so quickly?
This is both fascinating and vaguely frightening. I guess it’s not that weird for viruses to jump back and forth between humans and animals, but it still is troublesome.
Another one from Wired, and this is fascinating: the story of how Apple and Google are teaming up to enable Covid-19 contact-tracing in a privacy-considerate manner.
Look, let’s just accept the facts: the only way for society to get back to anything resembling normal in an age of pandemics is lots of testing and lots of understanding about social interactions by people who are sick.
The nightmare scenario, of course, is that governments just track us all and monitor all of our interactions and never turn it off whether or not there’s a raging worldwide pandemic. Apple and Google want to head that off, and their answer is something that respects privacy as much as possible and is under complete control of their respective iOS and Android platforms.
One potential weakness born of the desire for privacy is that it depends on self-reporting. If someone reports themself, then people can be notified that they’ve potentially contacted this person based on beacon numbers.
It will be interesting to see if this method falls victim to either failure of people to self-report when they should or, conversely, for people to falsely claim to be ill in order to disrupt the lives of everyone whose paths they’ve crossed.
Tonight we ate pizza and watched Apollo 13. It’s a great movie that has aged extremely well, and it does a pretty good job of sticking to historical reality, although naturally some creative license was applied to the film.
More fascinating, of course, is the actual Apollo 13 mission and the people involved.
“Problem solving with the system we had was suited to what we had to get done, as every mission had problems to deal with,” Haise said in an interview with collectSPACE.com. “But we never considered an explosion, in the sense of being able to work around that.”
“Normally, that would manifest in a loss of the vehicle and crew,” he said.
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