31 July 2020

The Guardian: “Deep trouble: can Venice hold back the tide?”

The next day, another acqua alta of 1.56 metres broke a record, flooding 75% of the city, giving Venetians a real scare, but now, a year on, that has paled in the face of a new record flood recorded on 12 November 2019, of 1.87 metres, the highest in more than 50 years, flooding over 85% of the city. Lesser record highs hit in the following days. The flood caused millions in damage, and two deaths – one man who tried to restart a water pump was killed by electrocution, and another was found dead in his home. The extended flooding has disheartened many among the city’s depleted population of 53,000, with some now thinking that there is no future for Venice.

But the threat from flooding has been growing for some time. The problem first came to global attention on 4 November 1966, with the record 1.94 metre acqua alta flooding 96% of the city. The city was unprepared, and waist-high, stinking, muddy, oily water destroyed housing, shops, goods and art treasures on all the islands and lagoon shorelines.

Neal E Robbins

Speaking of places in imminent threat from global warming and rising ocean levels, Venice is probably the most high profile example. The issue is known for well over half a century, but mitigation measures have been slow and inadequate, both technologically and administratively, according to this article. It is a poor indicator of our future response to the growing threats posed by climate change.

28 July 2020

Official Blogger Blog: “A better Blogger experience on the web”

Since 1999, millions of people have expressed themselves on Blogger. From detailed posts about almost every apple variety you could ever imagine to a blog dedicated to the art of blogging itself, the ability to easily share, publish and express oneself on the web is at the core of Blogger’s mission. As the web constantly evolves, we want to ensure anyone using Blogger has an easy and intuitive experience publishing their content to the web.

That’s why we’ve been slowly introducing an improved web experience for Blogger. Give the fresh interface a spin by clicking “Try the New Blogger” in the left-hand navigation pane.

In addition to a fresh feel, Blogger is now responsive on the web, making it easier to use on mobile devices. By investing in an improved web platform, it allows the potential for new features in the future.


Unexpected, but welcomed update from the Blogger team. It is certainly reassuring to see sporadic signs of life from one of Google’s most neglected products – the previous post on the official blog is from January 2019

27 July 2020

Popula: “Heaven or High Water”

The sea level in Miami has risen ten inches since 1900; in the 2000 years prior, it did not really change. The consensus among informed observers is that the sea will rise in Miami Beach somewhere between 13 and 34 inches by 2050. By 2100, it is extremely likely to be closer to six feet, which means, unless you own a yacht and a helicopter, sayonara. Sunset Harbour is expected to fare slightly worse, and to do so more quickly.

Thus, I felt the Sunset Harbour area was a good place to start pretending to buy a home here. Amazingly, in the face of these incontrovertible facts about the climate the business of luxury real estate is chugging along just fine, and I wanted to see the cognitive dissonance up close.

I did not say this; I said nothing, because I did not have to, because—fiddling attractively with a circular gold pendant at her tan throat all the while—she continued to talk. The scientists, economists, and environmentalists that are saying this stuff, they don’t realize what a wealthy area this is. She said that she lived here and wasn’t leaving, and that the people selling Miami were confident, and all working on the same goal as a community to maintain this place, with the pumps and the zoning and raising the streets. There were just too many millionaires and billionaires here for a disaster on a great scale to be allowed to take place.

Sarah Miller

Insightful story about the prevailing attitude in Miami regarding climate change and the likely sea rise in the area. The same reckless arguments and viewpoints have stalled the response to the coronavirus pandemic: ‘it won’t happen here in the US’; ‘someone will find a solution before things get really bad’; ‘scientists are too alarmist’. And we already know how well that turned out for Florida

23 July 2020

Nikkei Asian Review: “Sony CEO Yoshida navigates coronavirus and activist attacks”

Its emphasis on recurring revenues has pleased many investors. Sony is the only Japanese electronics company to have surpassed its profit levels [from] before the Lehman crisis. Yoshida knew the company had to become sustainable and continuity in growth was valuable. That is why he made ‘recurring’ a keyword, said Masahiro Ono, an analyst at Morgan Stanley MUFG Securities. I believe this makes him a successful CEO.

Such diversity is more characteristic of a Japanese conglomerate than a Western company, and Yoshida emphasizes the financial value of having a broad portfolio of products with differing life cycles. As well as entertainment, we have businesses to support people, like medical or life insurance. The time scale is long in medical equipment, quite opposite from smartphones. This diversity stabilizes the company.

John Gapper & Jada Nagumo

I was quite surprised to learn a couple of years ago that Sony had a sizeable business in financial services and life insurance – it represented two thirds of Sony’s profits in 2013 at the low point of its post-Lehman crisis. While the company may not be recognized as a global player compared to US tech giants, their long-term strategies of diversity and recurring revenues are increasingly being adopted in Silicon Valley:

22 July 2020

Truth on the Market: “Is Amazon Guilty of Predatory Pricing?”

Notably for a piece of analysis attempting to explain Amazon’s business practices, the text of Khan’s 93-page law review article does not include the word “cash” even once.

The problem with this argument should be immediately apparent. For the moment, let’s ignore the classic recoupment problem where new entrants will be drawn into the market to win some of those monopoly prices based on the new AVC that is possible. The real problem with his logic is that Sussman basically suggests that if Amazon sharply lowers AVC — that is it makes production massively more efficient — and then does not drop prices, they are a “predator”. But by pricing below its AVC in the first place, consumers in essence were given a loan by Amazon — they were able to enjoy what Sussman believes are radically low prices while Amazon works to actually make those prices possible through creating production efficiencies. It seems rather strange to punish a firm for loaning consumers a large measure of wealth. Its doubly odd when you then re-factor the recoupment problem back in: as soon as other firms figure out that a lower AVC is possible, they will enter the market and bid away any monopoly profits from Amazon.

Kristian Stout & Alec Stapp

Interesting counterargument in the antitrust discussion around Amazon. It basically states that Amazon has lower prices because it plans to be more efficient than the competition – and always investing into becoming more efficient, just as any model capitalist company should. They are cash-flow positive and the retail business in the US is overall profitable, so there are few arguments to sustain a case for predatory pricing. Of course, that does not mean Amazon is not engaging in other anticompetitive practices, such as discriminating against third-party sellers on its online store, and vertical integration.

19 July 2020

Wired: “The Food we’ll eat on the Journey to Mars”

Psychologists have no idea how the so-called break-off phenomenon—the sense of detachment that can arise when our planet slips from view—will affect future astronauts’ mental state. What’s more, any communication with the now-invisible Earth will be subject to as much as a 45-minute lag. Kelley Slack, one of the experts on NASA’s Behavioral Health and Performance team, recently told NBC, It will be the first time that we’ve been totally disconnected from Earth. Since the summer of 1975, when NASA convened a group of experts to discuss permanent settlement in space, researchers have warned of a psychological condition called “solipsism syndrome”, in which reality feels dreamlike and lonely astronauts become prone to self-destructive mistakes. Mars could be the theory’s first real test.

Food assumes added importance under all conditions of isolation and confinement because normal sources of gratification are denied, Jack Stuster, an anthropologist and NASA consultant, wrote in Bold Endeavors, his 1996 book on the behavioral issues associated with extreme environments. Usually, the longer the confinement, the more important food becomes. Managers of offshore oil rigs, supertankers, and Antarctic research stations all appreciate the importance of food to maintaining group morale and productivity in isolated, remote, and confined situations. Stuster noted that food has become such an important element onboard fleet ballistic missile submarines that, for years, meals have been served at cloth-covered tables in pleasant paneled dining rooms.

Nicola Twilley

A vital topic for humanity’s long-term space exploration plans, food is inextricably linked with morale, since other sources of satisfaction will be severely limited. In some sense we experienced a lighter form in recent months during the lockdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic – and cooking was a source of comfort for many people. Somehow I doubt Elon Musk is taking any of this into consideration when drafting his grandiose plans to colonize Mars

The Guardian: “How Turkish TV is taking over the world”

Based on the life of Suleiman the Magnificent, the 10th Ottoman Sultan, Magnificent Century told the story of the sultan’s love affair with a concubine named Hurrem, whom he married, in a major break with tradition. A largely unknown historical figure, Hurrem is believed to have been an Orthodox Christian from modern-day Ukraine.

When it first aired in Turkey in 2011, Magnificent Century claimed one-third of the country’s TV audience. The foreign press called it an “Ottoman-era Sex and the City” and compared it to a real-life Game of Thrones. It had multiple historical consultants and a production team of 130, with 25 people working on costumes alone.

Magnificent Century was so popular in the Middle East that Arab tourism to Istanbul skyrocketed. Turkey’s minister of culture and tourism even stopped charging certain Arab countries broadcasting fees. Global Agency estimates that, even without counting its most recent buyers in Latin America, Magnificent Century has been seen by more than 500 million people worldwide. It was the first dizi bought by Japan. Since 2002, about 150 Turkish dizi have been sold to more than 100 countries, including Algeria, Morocco and Bulgaria. It was Magnificent Century that blazed the way for others to follow.

Fatima Bhutto

My late mother was a big fan of Turkish television, as are many others in Romania. But there is more to the story than writing emotional drama and making money: for Turkey, these dizi project cultural influence in the Arab world and beyond, some of them promoting the image of Turkey as important regional power by associating historical leaders of the Ottoman empire with the current president Erdoğan. Their influence was deemed so large that they were banned by Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia a couple of years ago. Their portrayal of women, far from the conservative norm of Islamic society, would be reason enough for a ban in Saudi Arabia – and paradoxically Turkey retains many of these customs, even while projecting a more progressive image on the TV screens of the world.

18 July 2020

The New York Times: “The Jungle Prince of Delhi”

“India Princess Reigns in Rail Station”, a Times correspondent wrote in 1981, describing her “genuine commitment to redeem the ancestors, to right wrongs suffered over centuries and to obtain justice.” People magazine recorded her declaring, “Let the world know how the descendant of the last nawab of Oudh is treated.”

Foreign correspondents arrived, one after another, and readers began to send letters from all corners of the world, expressing outrage on her behalf. The begum imposed stringent conditions — she “could only be photographed when the moon was waning”, United Press International reported — and journalists complied, delighted with the Gothic peculiarity of it all.

In 1984, her efforts paid off. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi accepted their claim, granting them use of a 14th century hunting lodge known as Malcha Mahal. They left the train station roughly a decade after they first appeared there. Wilayat never appeared in public again.

Ellen Barry

Fascinating story about a reclusive family in Delhi who presented themselves for decades as the last surviving heirs to the princely state of Oudh in northern India – and an exceptional example of investigative reporting! Since publication, the story has been expanded with new information from readers and government documents, and Amazon has purchased the rights to develop it as a drama series.

17 July 2020

Vox: “Paul Krugman on climate, robots, single-payer, and so much more”

But I’m not sure that it’s actually about values versus efficiency. There are a lot of things where public provision is just plainly more efficient than private. I think we learned from the history of the 20th century that you probably don’t want the government running auto companies and steel mills.

On the other hand, publicly run utilities actually have a pretty good record. Public K-12 education has always been the bedrock of our education system (and the track record of for-profit private schools is horrifying). A lot of higher education has historically been done really well by state run institutions as well. On health care, if you actually ask what system delivers the best results at low cost, it’s genuine socialized medicine. The NHS is actually a pretty good system and damn cheap.

When I added up all of the things that were there, there’s a pretty strong case that the public sector actually is better, it’s 25-30 percent of the economy. So fairly straightforward economic logic actually says that a significantly mixed economy with a pretty big public role makes a lot of sense.

Paul Krugman

Interesting interview with Nobel Prize winner economist Paul Krugman (from late last year, another one of the articles I read and made notes about, but haven’t found the time to share on the blog). The observations remain very relevant though, from climate change policies, to the concentration of monopoly power in the US economy driven by the arrival of the Internet, to the role of robotics and automation in the future. These concentration trends may even accelerate considerably because of the current pandemic – a handful of technology giants account for the majority of stock market gains this year – and the forced adoption of working from home – already Facebook is considering adjusting salaries for employees who relocate out of the Bay Area, thereby reducing its personnel costs.

15 July 2020

The Atlantic: “Donald Trump, the Most Unmanly President”

The best example of women giving him a pass was after the Access Hollywood tape came to light in the fall of 2016. Trump had been caught on audio bragging about being able to grope women because he was famous. Republican leaders panicked; surely this level of vulgarity, they reasoned, would kill Trump’s chances with female voters.

Instead, women showed up at rallies with shirts featuring arrows pointing right to where Trump could grab them.

Melania Trump, for her part, dutifully defended the boyishness of it all. Sometimes I say I have two boys at home, she said at the time. I have my young son and I have my husband. But I know how some men talk, and that’s how I saw it. Female Trump supporters were interviewed on national television and—in a tragic admission about the state of American families—seemed confused about why Trump would be considered any worse than the men around them.

Donald Trump is unmanly because he has never chosen to become a man. He has weathered few trials that create an adult of any kind. He is, instead, working-class America’s dysfunctional son, and his supporters, male and female alike, have become the worried parent explaining what a good boy he is to terrorized teachers even while he continues to set fires in the hallway right outside.

Tom Nichols

An interesting observation, although equating the presidency with an expectation of ‘manliness’ seems… problematic. I am obviously no expert in American mentality, but I think a better explanation is that a sizeable portion of the electorate secretly admires this ‘boyishness’, identifies itself with it, wishing on a deeper level that the world around them would be as simple as back when they were kids, that their adult responsibilities would vanish and they could go through life without worrying about consequences – as Trump does every day.

14 July 2020

Charged: “Apple wants to kill the ad industry. It’s forcing developers to help”

Apple sign-in is the ultimate lock-in, along with everything else new we’ve seen this year, from an iPhone-only credit-card, to a plethora of exclusive subscription services, only available on Apple’s own hardware. Apple sign-in seals that deal, binding users to Apple’s hardware for the long haul, making it tedious to log in to services on any other device (there is support for web logins, but it’s poorly documented and notably omits the “seamless login” line shown on every other page).

All of the largest tech companies have switched gears to this model, including Google, and now sell a narrative that nobody can be trusted with your data–but it’s fine to give it all to them, instead.

There’s bitter irony in Apple denouncing other companies’ collection of data with a sign-in service, then launching its own, asking that you give that data to them, instead. I definitely trust Apple to act with my interests at heart today, but what about tomorrow, when the bottom falls out of iPhone sales, and the math changes?

I’m not arguing that any of these advertising practices are right or wrong, but rather that such a hamfisted approach isn’t all that it seems. The ad industry gets a bad rap–and does need to improve–but allowing a company that has a vested interest in crippling it to dictate the rules by forcing developers to implement their technology is wrong.

Owen Williams

Another story from last year I have been meaning to comment on; I have been reminded of it by a recent blog post explaining why AnyList won’t supportSign In with Apple’. Launched last year, the feature became mandatory for App Store apps starting June 30th – in typical Apple fashion, not only is it mandatory for iOS apps offering third party login services, it should be placed above rival buttons from Google and Facebook. Another piece of the puzzle in the ongoing rivalry between Apple and Google around online advertising and the direction of the web, and continues an established trend of Apple limiting web tracking in favor of in-app activity under the pretense of improved privacy for users.

13 July 2020

ongoing by Tim Bray: “Break Up Google”

Why break it up? · There are specific problems; I list a few below. But here’s the big one: For many years, the astonishing torrent of money thrown off by Google’s Web-search monopoly has fueled invasions of multiple other segments, enabling Google to bat aside rivals who might have brought better experiences to billions of lives.

When? · The best time would have been sometime around 2015. The second best…

Tim Bray

Going back through my archive of blog posts, I was mildly surprised to discover I wrote about this back in 2018. I guess that should not be very surprising, considering the European Commission was already delivering fines against Google on antitrust grounds. As US authorities are finally gearing up for investigations and possible measures aimed at tech giants, Google is still leveraging its market power against less powerful companies – in a recent example, it threatened to cut off European publishers from a lucrative flow of ads if they block Google from harvesting data about their readers (which is, as far as I understand, a GDPR requirement…).

12 July 2020

Approaching Pavonis Mons by balloon: “A long-form interview with Reaktor magazine”

Reaktor: If you woke up in one of the settings or worlds you have written about, which would mean a “whoa, cool!” awakening and which would be an “oh no…”?

AR: I think there are bits of both in all the settings and worlds – places and times where it’s fairly comfortable, bordering on utopian, and others where it’s very much the opposite! Although I’m very content with the time and place into which I was born, I could see the attraction of living in the epoch of galactic civilisation depicted in House of Suns, in which a group of relatively happy-go-lucky humans are given this awesome technology of interstellar travel and basically just told to go out there, explore, learn things and have fun. On the other hand, although I really love writing in the setting, I’ve never had any desire to live in the Revelation Space universe. It’s like the Dark Ages, with plagues, madness, and apocalypse at every corner.

Alastair Reynolds

In other words, basically living in 2020

11 July 2020

Forbes: “Kanye West says He’s Done with Trump”

If it all sounds like a parody, or a particularly surreal episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, West doesn’t seem to be in on it. Calling from his ranch near Cody, Wyoming, where he says that he registered to vote for the first time on Monday, West denies it is a publicity stunt for his upcoming album. (I give my album away for free.) A few weeks after he ended two separate text chains with me with the message “Trump 2020” and a fist raised high, he insists he’s lost confidence in the president. It looks like one big mess to me, he says. I don’t like that I caught wind that he hid in the bunker. West also says that he contracted the coronavirus in late February, though he maintains that had nothing to do with his thoughts on running this year.

That said, he won’t say much more against Trump. He’s much less shy about criticizing Biden, which certainly won’t tamp down the idea that the Birthday Party is a ruse to help reelect Trump. I’m not saying Trump’s in my way, he may be a part of my way. And Joe Biden? Like come on man, please. You know? Obama’s special. Trump’s special. We say Kanye West is special. America needs special people that lead. Bill Clinton? Special. Joe Biden’s not special.

Randall Lane

It’s hard to imagine a worse Presidential candidate than Donald Trump – but somehow America managed to find one! Another celebrity with no political experience (the most damning thing about Kanye West on this aspect is that he admits he never voted before – why would you entrust the highest public office to a person who refused to participate in the democratic process?!), with no clue about his future foreign policy, an antivaxxer and believer in ridiculous conspiracy theories, an opposer of the separation of Church and State. And… he is supported by Elon Musk – which tells me more about Musk than any of his other statements and achievements.

10 July 2020

Coronavirus in Romania – back to square one?

Almost two months into the gradual relaxation period following the stricter lockdown, the situation does not look particularly good for my country. Just this Wednesday Romania announced an all-time record of daily confirmed COVID-19 cases, 555 – a record that was immediately surpassed a day later. The case numbers were already increasing steadily throughout June. The first week of June coincided basically with the lowest point in the curve with 119 cases on June 3rd, afterwards cases climbed back into the 250 to 400 range, back to April levels. This was reflected in the reproduction number, even if it is not a perfect measure of disease spread – which climbed above 1 in the last week of May and now is already above 1.1 – and coincides with greater mobility of the population – most activity metrics recorded by Google Mobility Trends have nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels. For the time being there is no discernible increase in deaths, but this is a lagging indicator that could spike in the second half of July if cases continue on this trajectory.

It is worrying that infections are multiplying while restrictions and precautions remain in place, with case spikes across multiple counties. Indoor restaurants were not allowed to reopen, despite vociferations in Parliament by our current major opposition party. On the other hand, gyms have opened on June 15th, but with restrictions allowing only individual sport activities and a 10 sqm area reserved for each customer. Masks are still mandatory in closed public spaces and public transportation – from my limited experience this requirement is generally respected, and promptly enforced by shop keepers. Two representatives, again from the socialist opposition party, made news because they refused to weak masks in a fast food, but the police were called in and the representatives were fined.

06 July 2020

Dan Wang: “2019 Letter”

I spend most of my time thinking about China’s technology trajectory. The main ideas can be summed up in two broad strokes. First, China’s technology foundations are fragile, which the trade war has made evident. Second, over the longer term, I expect that China will stiffen those foundations and develop firms capable of pushing forward the technological frontier.

In my view, there’s not yet much terribly impressive about China’s technology achievements. It’s true that the country leads on mobile payments and the consumer internet, as well as the buildout of infrastructure projects like a high-speed rail network. These however have more to do with differences in the social environment and regulatory regime. More importantly, much of China’s technology stack is built on American components, especially semiconductors. Failure to develop more foundational technologies has meant that the US has had an at-will ability to kneecap major firms, and to be able to impose at least significant operational hassles on Huawei. Over the medium term, US controls will disrupt the ability of Chinese firms to acquire leading technologies. And so long as substantial US tariffs stay in place, Chinese firms will have worse access to the world’s largest and best consumer market, meaning that they’ll be exposed to less export discipline.

Dan Wang

Interesting perspective, and quite different from the majority of opinions coming from US media, which tend to view Chinese tech companies as a rising and significant threat to Silicon Valley’s dominance. My guess is that, since China is relatively opaque for outside observers, both because of different culture and their more recent authoritarian structures, it makes the perfect canvas for many to project their fears and perceived shortcomings, to imagine China as a constant threat, always on the verge of surpassing the West.

05 July 2020

CNN Travel: “What happened on Santorini when the tourism ‘machine’ stopped”

The complete absence of visitors has allowed several major projects to be completed. The new terminal at the airport is now operational, says Filippidis. The new road which connects Oia with the airport and part of Athinios port has also been completed, so getting round the island is going to be much easier.

For a destination that was second only to Venice with its cruise-ship issues, the fact that very few of these enormous vessels – if any – will return in 2020 is considered to be good news. With each ship disgorging up to 3,000 people onto minibuses, these floating hotels clogged up Santorini's roads.

Indeed the privacy model that made Santorini so successful as a honeymoon destination could well work to its advantage.

Rather than huge hotels with large public spaces, most of Santorini’s suites have private entrances and sunlit balconies with a dedicated pool or Jacuzzi that is cleansed and chlorinated daily, says Filippidis. Breakfast is served in your room, not in a dining hall. This is ideal for guests who want to feel safe. Unlike in big resorts we're not having to put up perspex screens between sun-loungers.

Adrian Mourby

I have visited Santorini two summers ago for a short, one day trip via ferry from Heraklion. The scenery in Oia and other towns is awesome, though it was a little disconcerting to see how mundane and bland the rest of the island looked. Walk for 5 minutes away from the cliffside covered in brilliant white buildings and you find yourself in a basic rustic surrounding, hot, dry, and dusty. The worst part of the trip, leaving aside a sudden wisdom tooth ache, were the tourist crowds – especially annoying since I like photography and I could barely find a composition without people intruding. It would be great if the island can move towards more balanced and sustainable approaches to tourism, even during this crisis.

04 July 2020

The New York Review of Books: “The Most Ignorant and Unfit: What Made America’s Worst Ever Leader?”

Being president, former First Lady Michelle Obama has said, doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are. In this moment, we may also need to acknowledge that presidents also reveal much about who we are.

Acknowledging that Donald Trump is very likely the worst president American democracy has ever produced and that we, as citizens in that democracy, must accept a general responsibility for choosing such a man, is only the first, and perhaps easiest, step we can take in remedying the situation. If the worst presidents are produced by their historical moment, enabled by their parties, and reflective of deep divides and flaws in American life, simply voting them out is insufficient. We must address the root causes that enabled a man as profoundly flawed and corrupt as Trump to win high office.

Trump is a sign that we as a nation have lost our way. Just as Hamilton warned, a confusion of celebrity for leadership, fame for accomplishment, and popularity for genius has given us “a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune”. Seizing the opportunity, unscrupulous “insolent men” have pandered to the lowest common denominators of fear and greed to win power and exploit it for a small elite. November’s election is a judgment day for this nation’s form of republican government. Or else, only “civil commotion” awaits us.

David Rothkopf

In my ever growing reading list I saved an article, by now almost two months old, that sought to blame Donald Trump and his failures as President for the massive – and growing – coronavirus crisis in the United States. It is, unfortunately, quite easy to blame this on a single person while ignoring the contribution of the Republican party to the election of Donald Trump and to the polarization inside the United States, the weak opposition from the Democratic party, and the structural issues left unaddressed for decades.

02 July 2020

The Wall Street Journal: “Masks Could Help Stop Coronavirus. So Why are they still Controversial?”

In Asia, the majority of people voluntarily use face coverings and it is mainly Western expatriates who are reluctant to adopt them, said Prof. Yuen Kwok-Yung, a leading coronavirus expert who advises the Hong Kong government.

Hong Kong, with 7.5 million residents, is one of the most densely populated places on earth, but recorded only six deaths from Covid-19 despite having no lockdown and receiving nearly three million travelers a day from abroad, around half of them from mainland China, where the virus originated.

The key secret of Hong Kong’s success, Prof. Yuen said, is that the mask compliance rate during morning rush hour is 97%. The 3% who don’t comply are mainly Americans and Europeans, he said.

The only thing you can do is universal masking, that’s what stopped it, Prof. Yuen said.

Bojan Pancevski & Jason Douglas

Another article published in a major newspaper that starts from a biased premise and blatantly ignores facts that contradict it. The statements above are clearly false (either taken out of context by the journalists or misinformation spread by the quoted ‘expert’), as there have been multiple reports about other measures taken in Hong Kong to contain the coronavirus pandemic: aggressive testing and tracing, stricter border controls and screening of incoming travelers, followed by mandatory 14-days quarantines under threat of fines and six-month imprisonment.

01 July 2020

ZDNet Zero Day: “Apple declined to implement 16 Web APIs in Safari due to privacy concerns”

Apple claims that the 16 Web APIs above would allow online advertisers and data analytics firms to create scripts that fingerprint users and their devices.

User fingerprints are small scripts that an advertiser loads and runs inside each user’s browser. The scripts execute a set of standard operations, usually against a common Web API or common web browser feature, and measure the response.

Since each user has a different browser and operating system configuration, responses are unique per user device. Advertisers use this unique response (fingerprint), coupled with other fingerprints and data points, to create unique identifiers for each user.

Catalin Cimpanu

Most of the APIs mentioned in the list are widely available to native iOS apps (things like Bluetooth and NFC access, battery status, ambient light sensor, and background geolocation), so Apple’s argument feels disingenuous. It is certainly possible that the WebKit team does not have the resources to work on implementation – after all, it happened at Microsoft before – or to build privacy controls around those new APIs.