This November, I’m working on several book proposals. I’m taking a third run on one topic. Three times a charm! To get some quality work done, I’ve been working at the local Barnes and Noble and at the town library. It’s really nice to get out of the house.
It looks like schools in NYC are going to close on Monday.
I’m really into inexpensive home furnishings lately. Including these great rugs — Chris Love Julia — on Amazon. This weekend’s home project? I’m framing some old ads from vintage women’s magazines for my new laundry room.
Tonight on the tube: Mandalorian and episode 2 of Queen’s Gambit.
Newsletters are the new blogs. I subscribe to at least a dozen right now. I’m adding Matt Yglesias’s new newsletter to the mix. (He’s leaving VOX, because he wants to be able to speak his mind freely. He owns his own web company. This is really sad, you know.)
33 thoughts on “SL 811”
David Shor, the guy who got fired from his data analytics job after retweeting some material about violent protests in the 1960s causing Democratic losses, has been having a great week!
It sounds like he’s a smart, honest guy with a lot of interesting ideas, and he’s landed on his feet.
I hope everybody learns the lesson here about not shooting the messenger!
Really interesting articles about David Shor.
Polling seems to be broken in more places than the US.
Everywhere it seems that liberal voters outweigh their conservative rivals in polling – only to have the gaps narrow or even reverse when it comes to elections. [NZ seems to be an outlier here, but our election was more about Ardern as leader, rather than political parties as such – it’s a massive vote of confidence in her Covid leadership, which has spilled over onto her party, rather than an endorsement of her policies]
I found the theory that people who answer polls are significantly different to the general population, quite compelling. I certainly know that my liberal friends are much more articulate on social media than my more conservative ones (I’m speaking here ‘socially’ rather than necessarily ‘politically’ – political party affiliation is fairly rare here, and most people don’t identify as a supporter of any party) – and, I would have thought, much more likely to give their time to pollsters.
However, I’m one of the people who certainly doesn’t tell the truth to the pollsters – I figure out what they’re polling about (and if I don’t care, I don’t engage), and if I do care, then slant my answers to push the outcome I want.
A friend of mine, who is a senior director at a market research company, was *horrified* – and told me that people like me are her worst nightmare!
Ann said, “However, I’m one of the people who certainly doesn’t tell the truth to the pollsters – I figure out what they’re polling about (and if I don’t care, I don’t engage), and if I do care, then slant my answers to push the outcome I want. A friend of mine, who is a senior director at a market research company, was *horrified* – and told me that people like me are her worst nightmare!”
My parents still have a landline. Every time I call, my father sounds hostile and suspicious, because it’s usually not a useful caller–it’s sales calls, scam calls, charities looking for donations, and pollsters.
We can set aside the question of why they don’t screen their calls. They have gotten a call from someone who claimed to be their grandson in prison. My father had the perfect question to ask: “which grandson are you?” to which the scammer asked, “don’t you recognize me?”
Apparently, if you answer the phone, you end up on lists for people who answer the phone. If you fall for a scam, there are lists of gullible people who fall for scams.
And then there is the entirely legal, but infuriating, business of data brokers. Data brokers sell information about people for literal pennies. https://www.webfx.com/blog/internet/what-are-data-brokers-and-what-is-your-data-worth-infographic/
As it turns out, consumer data is worth a lot of money. The average email address is worth $89 to a brand over time, so it makes sense that they are willing to pay for that kind of information. Now, data brokering is a $200 billion industry, and it isn’t showing any signs of becoming any less profitable.
But how do they make their money? Different companies operate in different ways, but they generally sell the information in the form of lists contact information for people that fall into specific categories. Most of the time, these lists are sorted by interests and characteristics like “fitness enthusiasts” or “new parents.” In some cases, however, the lists are a bit more questionable. One company actually sold lists with information from 1,000 people with health conditions like anorexia, substance abuse, and depression for $79.
I have, over time, been threatened with arrest unless I call back the recorded message, told my social security number has been suspended unless I call back, nothing is wrong with my credit, but there is a note on the file, told my vehicle warranty is running out, etc., etc. etc. At least I can’t understand the messages in Chinese. At some point, enough is enough. If it’s a scam, I block it.
Which is to say that perhaps people who aren’t answering random callers are targeted by unwanted callers for some other quality—people with certain types of insurance, some age range, some other data, or even credit card usage. Something that correlates with voting patterns.
By the way, freeze your credit at the reporting agencies. You can do that online. Write down the password, of course.
Another worrying thing is that some places use your credit report to verify your identity. So get a copy of your reports–save it in a file–in case you need to verify your identity.
Cranberry wrote, “I have, over time, been threatened with arrest unless I call back the recorded message, told my social security number has been suspended unless I call back, nothing is wrong with my credit, but there is a note on the file, told my vehicle warranty is running out, etc., etc. etc. At least I can’t understand the messages in Chinese.”
I’ve gotten a number of telemarketing calls in Russian…in Texas–I believe they were trying to sell me some kind of calling plan. I’ve gotten the social security messages, too, and have been told that the IRS is looking for me. There are also been collection calls for people who don’t live here and may never have lived here.
It actually mystifies me that anybody is talking to pollsters at this point. We keep a landline for emergencies (my husband uses it as a backup if he can’t get through to me on my cell), but we don’t give the number out, and if we’re all safely at home, I normally just pick up the phone and hang up, because there’s an astronomically low chance of it being worth picking up. I used to say hello and see what it was for, but then my husband told me that talking to them at all puts you on the “gullible” list that will get you more calls later, even if you hang up.
The people who are talking to strangers on the phone at this point have to be some combination of a) old and/or b) very lonely and bored and/or very naive.
We have a landline because I can’t bear to talk to my mother on a cell phone. I hate the constant lag/talking over each other. I also fear my cable/phone company. I can see them throttling my data if they’re pissed off at me. A landline is the price I pay for reliable internet. It’s kind of like paying protection money to the mob.
I use Nomorobo to screen scam calls. It will ring once, then Nomorobo will pick it up and it won’t ring any more. In the first month of the lockdown (Mar-Apr), our phone was SILENT. It was like the week after 9/11, when there were no planes in the sky.
We also have caller ID. I know a bunch of the scam numbers and will answer then hang up immediately. It works about 75% of the time. I taught my mom that trick, and now I am her favorite daughter.
Wendy said: “We also have caller ID. I know a bunch of the scam numbers and will answer then hang up immediately. It works about 75% of the time. I taught my mom that trick, and now I am her favorite daughter.”
I’ve also been known to say, “Just let me turn off the stove” – and then go away and leave the phone hanging. It warms my heart to think of the scam callers wasting their time, just as much as they want to waste mine….
My mother (lives on her own, 80+) now says “I don’t have…. [whatever the scam call is]” e.g. I don’t have the Internet, I don’t have a car, I don’t have an account with…..
[At one stage, I actually heard her say “I don’t have a phone!”]
And then hangs up.
But seriously, I do not know why telecommunications companies can’t block these overseas calls. They *must* be obvious in the phone logs – massive call load from a single number from overseas.
There must be something in this situation which benefits the Telcos – because it sure doesn’t benefit their customers.
I do that too, say “I don’t have a computer.” (Or “I don’t have a car,” which happens to be true.) I must admit, however, that it never occurred to me to say “I don’t have a phone.”
Ann fromNZ: You ask, But seriously, I do not know why telecommunications companies can’t block these overseas calls. They *must* be obvious in the phone logs – massive call load from a single number from overseas.
There must be something in this situation which benefits the Telcos – because it sure doesn’t benefit their customers.
First, until very recently, US carriers were required to complete every call. It took an FCC rule change to allow telecom companies to start blocking calls. https://www.npr.org/2019/05/15/723569324/fcc-wants-phone-companies-to-start-blocking-robocalls-by-default
Scammers are using VOIP (voice over internet protocol), and spoofing numbers. So there isn’t a massive call load. It doesn’t show up as an international call. They can spoof your bank’s phone number so that it shows up as a call from your bank on caller ID: https://blog.malwarebytes.com/social-engineering/2020/10/scammers-are-spoofing-bank-phone-numbers-to-rob-victims/
I could put up many links to descriptions of attack trends. In general, the blogs of different internet security companies are good resources for general knowledge, because they assume people aren’t experts in the field. Other good resources are the SEC and Krebsonsecurity.com.
Ann said, “My mother (lives on her own, 80+) now says “I don’t have…. [whatever the scam call is]” e.g. I don’t have the Internet, I don’t have a car, I don’t have an account with…..
[At one stage, I actually heard her say “I don’t have a phone!”]
And then hangs up.”
My now-departed (and very missed) grandpa enlivened his sunset years by trolling telemarketers.
The scammers would tell him that there was some kind of problem with his computer and grandpa (who had never owned a computer) would respond, “Oh! Then I should throw it out!”
Wow, freedom to speak your mind. Sigh. Maybe when I retire. I don’t mind the insult and vituperation–you can see I pay it no mind here–but I need the income for a few more years.
Oregon is shutting down all dining (including outdoor dining) for at least 2 weeks and probably longer.
Many restaurants had spent thousands of dollars upgrading their space to allow for outdoor dining.
OK. So an update on Covid from isolated NZ.
One of the benefits of being so far away, and having stamped out community transmission of Covid – is that when it comes through the border (as it inevitably does) – is a ‘one-off’ so we can isolate the exact chain of transmission – and see just how it spreads.
We’ve just had another mini-outbreak. A male defense-force worker (they’re doing the security of the Covid isolation hotels) – caught Covid from one of the people in isolation. It happens. All the protection in the world can only reduce the chances of infection, not eliminate it.
Before he was symptomatic (but still infectious), he visited several cafes/restaurants, had face-to-face meetings with colleagues (and infected one) who then traveled from Auckland to Wellington by air (just an hour flight – we’re not a big country!). This second colleague then infected a third colleague. So all cases in Defense staff (families isolated as precaution – but so far no infections there). No further infections in colleagues. Not a super-spreader event.
4 days later a part-time shop-assistant (fashion shop) and student came down with Covid. It’s been genomically linked to the Defence worker: i.e. it’s exactly the same strain, with no mutations, and is highly likely (scientists never say certain) to have been a single step transmission – from defense worker to shop assistant.
This young-woman lives and works in the CBD – the same area the defense worker was visiting cafes – but there is no evidence (so far) that they were in the same place at the same time. It’s not at all the kind of shop that a busy professional would have been browsing through – and he’s given a pretty thorough account of his movements. Her account has been a little complicated by language difficulties (her first language is Mandarin), but so far there are no shops/locations that they share in common (so it can’t even have been a surface contamination).
So, still a real mystery.
As a consequence – all CBD workers were encouraged to work from home on Friday (while the health officials did contact tracing, and businesses affected did deep cleans).
I don’t work in the CBD – so not personally affected. But we *did* go in for dinner (13th birthday at a favourite Italian restaurant). I made the assessment that there wasn’t likely to be an overlap in social circles between the shop-assistant case and the restaurant.
Interestingly – almost no masks being work (despite a strongly-worded encouragement from the Minister of Health)
It all looks as though it’s fizzled out now.
However, this kind of situation is likely to be the death knell for CBD businesses – who are highly dependent on trade from city workers. We’re already seeing the hollowing out of the CBD – as businesses either close or re-locate. And this is even in a city/country where we’ve effectively had no community transmission for months.
Oh, and it also raises the issue of marginalized workers – and their incentive to isolate, rather than going to work.
There is a discrepancy in accounts between the shop assistant and her manager.
The shop-assistant initially said that she came down with symptoms, went to her health clinic, who tested her and told her to self-isolate until the test results came through. She called her manager, and was persuaded to come into work, and wear a mask.
Manager says this is all lies, and she was never told about the Covid test. Shop assistant has now retracted her story and blames translation difficulties (translator was available and sat in on the interview, but wasn’t needed because shop-assistant’s English was clearly understandable – even if not idiomatic)
So issues raised:
* Sick leave availability for part-time/marginal workers.
* Skeleton staffing for most small businesses – especially in the CBD where profit-margins (if any) are razor thin (so staff member sick is a huge staffing issue)
* Pressure on minimum-rate employees to work through sickness. Coming from fellow staff (who know there is no replacement) and management (who don’t want the cost).
* Pressure on employees to agree to management story (or you’ll never work again) – no joke, it does happen. Especially if immigrant visas are involved.
* Immigrants employing immigrants (on wages/conditions which are not acceptable in NZ) – we’ve had several high profile prosecutions over this.
* International students working under the table (student visas have very limited right-to-work provisions)
* Illegal or socially undesirable workers: e.g. prostitutes (not saying this is the case here – but the principal holds) – have zero incentive to tell the truth about contacts or employment relationships, and are easily able to be blackmailed by their employers.
This ‘grey-market’ culture slips entirely under the rails of the official Covid enforcement and policies.
Really wish I could edit. I do know the difference between “principal” and “principle”!
We believe you! I’ve done worse.
“Oh, and it also raises the issue of marginalized workers – and their incentive to isolate, rather than going to work.”
I’ve been wondering about the role that illegals and human trafficking are/will be playing in the US. We had an incident a couple years ago where an Asian buffet restaurant was raided and closed because they were essentially imprisoning a large number of buffet workers (both Asians and Latin Americans). I believe coyotes sometimes use safe houses, where living conditions are pretty tight.
There are a lot of below-the-radar situations like that (and the ones you describe) where there’s not going to be a lot of social distancing and mask-wearing going on, let alone testing and isolating, and they are unlikely to cooperate well with public health people.
bj wrote, ““illegals”?”
Illegal aliens. I don’t know that that sounds nicer than “illegals.”
Well, you now me from this comment section. I use “undocumented immigrant”. But here’s a quote from a Quartz article that argues for “inadmissible aliens”.
“In the Immigration and Nationality Act, “illegal alien” is only used to refer to immigrants who have been convicted of a felony.
The most common wording used in US laws to describe people who don’t have permission to be in the country is actually “inadmissible aliens.”
This is one of those ‘lost in translation’ things.
Here in NZ “Alien” means Extra-terrestrial.
So we all have visions of your immigration department chasing down Bug-Eyed-Monsters who have failed to get their documentation in order (very Men in Black).
NB: we know what you mean by ‘alien’ – it’s just we’d never use this word to describe Homo Sapiens.
What matters is not what you call people, but how you treat them. That said, like Will Rogers, all I know about immigration policies is what I read on the internet. https://web.archive.org/web/20191228060302/https://thespinoff.co.nz/society/12-05-2017/is-our-refugee-quota-really-all-that-bad-yup-its-trump-level-bad/
Ann said, “Here in NZ “Alien” means Extra-terrestrial.”
It mostly does in the US, too, except in immigration.
(My husband is a legal alien.)
Ann from NZ, you should have your own blog/newsletter/column. So interesting to compare the situation with here.
I do really enjoy Ann’s posts about New Zealand, too, even when I don’t have a comment to make. I was telling my family how I find the tracing there to be a mentally satisfying puzzle (down to the genetic matching of the virus strain). Family said i should try to apply to be a contact tracer in New Zealand. 🙂
bj said, “I do really enjoy Ann’s posts about New Zealand, too, even when I don’t have a comment to make. I was telling my family how I find the tracing there to be a mentally satisfying puzzle (down to the genetic matching of the virus strain). Family said i should try to apply to be a contact tracer in New Zealand. 🙂”
I believe I’ve heard that some US contact tracing is done by volunteers.
I think it’s the comparison that makes it interesting.
I don’t have much to contribute at home in the NZ context – everything I discuss is ‘normal’ for us – it’s only the contrast with your ‘normal’ that makes it interesting.
[Also, I sort of have to be non-controversial here in NZ, because of the day job – hence not publishing my surname]
However, we do have Siouxie Wiles – a microbiologist who is one of the major commentators on epidemiological control, and really good at translating science into bite-size pieces for non-scientists.
Probably the only country in the world with a popular science commentator with pink hair.
Regarding the NYC 3% rule for schools–I’ve seen a number of people pointing out that the weekday and weekend NYC positivity numbers are quite different, due to the mandatory random testing that goes on on weekdays. They were saying that there’s always a weekend spike, due to the change in the composition of people being testing.
Locally, we’ve gone from a long plateau (early August to late October) of about 20 cases per 100,000 per day, bumping up to 40 cases and then 60+ cases per 100,000 per day over the last 2+ weeks. I can’t say yet whether this is the top.
Matt Welch has thoughts:
“Mayor Bill de Blasio is getting ready to pull the plug because the city’s test positivity rate, which had been hovering around or below 1.5 percent since June, shot up over 2 percent at the beginning of November, and will soon cross 3 percent, which is de Blasio’s threshold for shutting schools down. How did he arrive at that number? He pulled it out of his ass.”
“The World Health Organization recommends a 5 percent community positivity threshold before closing schools, as does New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Europe is keeping schools open with rates well north of that, citing the still-very-low numbers of kids testing positive.”
“Through all of this comedy of errors, the political and educational establishment in New York is still cloaking its decision-making process in the exalted language of equity, inclusion, and combating privilege. There is no gentle way to say this: The people who are about to shutter New York schools should never mouth those words again.”
“My family will adapt. (Hey look, the 5-year-olds are learning French five feet away from me!) But most do not have my options. I do not want to hear one word about my “privilege” again from the people who are consciously making the anti-scientific, politically driven decision to deny basic equitable opportunity for poorer families.”
“City residents filed 295,103 change of address requests from March 1 through Oct. 31, according to data The Post obtained from the US Postal Service under a Freedom of Information Act request.
“Since the data details only when 11 or more forwarding requests were made to a particular county outside NYC, the number of moves is actually higher. And a single address change could represent an entire household, which means far more than 300,000 New Yorkers fled the five boroughs.”
“From just March through July, there were 244,895 change of address requests to destinations outside of the city, more than double the 101,342 during the same period in 2019.”
“The escape from New York is fueled not only by coronavirus concerns, but economic worries, school chaos and rising crime, experts say.”
“[Manhattan Institute’s] survey of six-figure earners in July and August found that 44% of respondents had considered moving outside the city in the prior four months. They cited cost of living as the biggest reason. More than a third, 38%, said they thought the city was heading in the wrong direction and only 38% rated the quality of life as good or excellent. More than half, 53%, said they were very concerned about sending their kids back to school.”
“Major crimes have been on the rise this year with the number of murders in the Big Apple hitting 344 by October, surpassing the count for all of 2019. The number of shootings through Nov. 8 is up 94% over 2019.”
“The postal data shows that many fleeing New Yorkers simply crossed the border to Long Island, Westchester or New Jersey.”
You can certainly count us among the 44% thinking of leaving and the 38% who think things are going downhill. I still don’t understand why liberals aren’t moving in (high taxes, no police presence, it should be paradise), but they don’t seem to be.
We finally know who died in the Minneapolis pawnshop that was burned down during riots two days after the death of George Floyd.
It was 30-year-old Oscar Lee Stewart Jr., a black factory worker and father of several children. It’s unclear what happened that night, but he bought an item at a pawnshop the night he disappeared. He apparently died trapped in the burning building–bystanders heard cries from inside, but were unable to reach him. It took 8 weeks before his family was able to figure out that his body had to be in the wreckage of the burned-out pawnshop.
The police have a suspect in the arson that killed Stewart.
I recommend following the link to the FBI document in this article: https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2020/09/03/vishing-scams-use-amazon-and-prime-as-lures-dont-get-caught/
As so many people are working from home, criminals are using data to impersonate employees.
Here is likely more information than you really want: https://us-cert.cisa.gov/ncas/tips/ST04-014
Other tips? Use 2 factor identification. Use a password safe, like LastPass or 1Password. Don’t reuse passwords. Turn off location data for the camera(s) on your mobile phone.
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