The rich poop different: measuring inequality with sewage

In Social, demographic, and economic correlates of food and chemical consumption measured by wastewater-based epidemiology, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, a group of researchers in Australia and Norway present their analysis of a 2016 Australian sewage census, which sampled 22 waste-water treatment facilities and looked for 42 biomarkers. Read the rest

MIT Sloan Management Review drops its paywall for 72 hours

Sara from MIT Sloan Management Review writes, "The entire site is free today through Thursday. To help you make progress on the problems you’re facing right now, they’ve unlocked their site for 72 hours. Every article, research report, and webinar is free to access." Read the rest

Why haven't cyberinsurers exerted more pressure on companies to be better at security?

For decades, people (including me) have predicted that cyberinsurers might be a way to get companies to take security seriously. After all, insurers have to live in the real world (which is why terrorism insurance is cheap, because terrorism is not a meaningful risk in America), and in the real world, poor security practices destroy peoples' lives, all the time, in wholesale quantities that beggar the imagination. Read the rest

Adding pink seaweed to cow feed eliminates their methane emissions

One of the major contributors to greenhouse gases is the methane that cows belch up as they break down cellulose, but five years ago, research from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) found that adding small amounts of a pink seaweed called Asparagopsis to cows' diets eliminated the gut microbes responsible for methane production and "completely knocks out" cows' methane emissions. Read the rest

A deep dive into how parasites hijack our behavior and how we evolved to resist them

On Slate Star Codex (previously), Scott Alexander breaks down Invisible Designers: Brain Evolution Through the Lens of Parasite Manipulation, Marco Del Giudice's Quarterly Review of Biology paper that examines the measures that parasites take to influence their hosts' behaviors, and the countermeasures that hosts evolve to combat them. Read the rest

Training bias in AI "hate speech detector" means that tweets by Black people are far more likely to be censored

More bad news for Google's beleaguered spinoff Jigsaw, whose flagship project is "Perspective," a machine-learning system designed to catch and interdict harassment, hate-speech and other undesirable online speech. Read the rest

New York City raised minimum wage to $15, and its restaurants outperformed the nation

After NYC raised its minimum wage from $7.25/h to $15/h this year -- the largest pay hike for low-waged workers in half a century -- the city's restaurants boomed, posting the highest growth levels in the country. Read the rest

Atomik Vodka: distilled from grains grown in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Atomik Grain Spirit is a (largely) (radiation-free) moonshine vodka distilled from grains grown in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone as part of an experiment to determine the transfer of radiation from soil to crops; so far, the University of Portsmouth researchers behind the project have only made one bottle, but they hope to go into production and remit 75% of the proceeds to charities in the Exclusion Zone. Read the rest

Stephen Wolfram recounts the entire history of mathematics in 90 minutes

Stephen Wolfram's podcast features a 90-minute lecture that he delivered at the 2019 Wolfram Summer School (MP3), recapitulating the history of mathematics from prehistory to the present day. Read the rest

Hospital checklists work really well -- except when they're not used

Atul Gawande (previously) made an enormous shift in the practice of medicine with his research on checklists, summarized in his book The Checklist Manifesto; Gawande identified a core paradox with checklists, which is that surgeons hate to use them, finding them reductive and tedious, but overwhelmingly, surgeons would prefer to be operated on by other surgeons who were using a checklist to guide the procedure. Read the rest

Survey finds high levels of harassment in multiplayer games, as well as white supremacist recruiting attempts

The ADL surveyed 1,045 US adult gamers (oversampling Jewish, Muslim, African American and Hispanic/Latinx individuals) and asked them about their experiences in multiplayer games: on the one hand, they found that playing these social games brought many benefits: friendship, support, fun, connection and romance; on the other hand, they found that a very high proportion of gamers experienced harassment of varying kinds, that many players had quit games because of harassment, and that some games were home to much more harassment than others. Read the rest

Corruption is contagious: dirty cops make their partners dirty

Police unions have systematized and perfected the process of ensuring impunity for crooked cops, ensuring that even the most violent, lying, thieving, racist, authoritarian cops can stay on the force; at the same time, apologists for police violence and corruption tell us not to blame the whole force for the bad deeds of a few rotten apples. Read the rest

Make: a solar hot-dog oven (then learn the science)

Making a solar hot-dog oven is a science fair standby, but JohnW539's CNC-milled Sundogger Instructable really digs into the classroom portion, drawing on the creator's experience as a physics/astronomy/computer science prof at Middle Tennessee State University. Read the rest

Open archive of 240,000 hours' worth of talk radio, including 2.8 billion words of machine-transcription

A group of MIT Media Lab researchers have published Radiotalk, a massive corpus of talk radio audio with machine-generated transcriptions, with a total of 240,000 hours' worth of speech, marked up with machine-readable metadata. Read the rest

A generalized method for re-identifying people in "anonymized" data-sets

"Anonymized data" is one of those holy grails, like "healthy ice-cream" or "selectively breakable crypto" -- if "anonymized data" is a thing, then companies can monetize their surveillance dossiers on us by selling them to all comers, without putting us at risk or putting themselves in legal jeopardy (to say nothing of the benefits to science and research of being able to do large-scale data analyses and then publish them along with the underlying data for peer review without posing a risk to the people in the data-set, AKA "release and forget"). Read the rest

Because Internet: the new linguistics of informal English

Conversational language is not the same as formal language: chatter over the dinner table does not follow the same rules as a speech from a podium. Informal language follows its own fluid, fast-moving rules, and most of what we know about historic informal language has been gleaned from written fragments, like old letters and diaries -- but now, the internet has produced a wealth of linguistic data on informal language, which is explored in Canadian linguist Gretchen McCulloch's new book, Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language. Read the rest

Using university syllabi to map the connections between every scholarly and scientific discipline

Joe Karganis writes, "This is the 'Co-Assignment Galaxy' created by David McClure. It maps the top 160K titles in the new Open Syllabus 2.0 dataset, based on the frequency with which those texts are assigned (reflected in the size of the dot) and assigned together (reflected in the location and clustering of the dots). It's US centric given the composition of the syllabus collection, but also a unique representation of human knowledge as a collective, connected project. Read the rest

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