Re: ublica 2017 – Maciej Ceglowski: Notes from an Emergency

[Note:  This item comes from friend Mike Cheponis.  Well worth a watch!  DLH]

re:publica 2017 – Maciej Ceglowski: Notes from an Emergency
May 16 2017

The Trump administration and the political movement it represents pose a unique challenge to the tech industry, which is mostly based in the United States and controls enormous amounts of sensitive data on entire populations.

Maciej Ceglowski

Video: 27:43 min

The place where old-fashioned malls are beating Amazon: Small-town America

The place where old-fashioned malls are beating Amazon: Small-town America
By Jill Rothenberg
May 20 2017

Hair freshly done from the beauty parlor on a recent Friday morning, Ada Clark, 93, and her daughter Carol, 63, met in front of the J.C. Penney in the Pueblo Mall, about 100 miles south of Denver. Their afternoon plan: a walk around the mall, followed by lunch at Red Lobster. 

When the mall was built in 1976, Pueblo was a booming steel town. The Colorado Fuel and Iron Co. was the city’s largest employer, and a now-empty meatpacking plant also offered good wages. The mall — with its 1,100 retail jobs — has outlasted them both. It’s also the social hub for the city — and for the many small towns east to Kansas and south to New Mexico. 

“Any time I get out of town to go to the mall and maybe to Sam’s Club, I guarantee that within an hour or so, I’m going to run into someone I know,” said Steve Francis, 60, of Lamar, a town of nearly 8,000 people 120 miles east of Pueblo near the Kansas border. “You take your family, your neighbors, and you make a day of it. The Pueblo Mall isn’t just the only game in town two hours away, it’s the only game in town for three counties.”

The Pueblo Mall is an outlier in the age of, when socks and laundry detergent and televisions — nearly anything you can think of — can be delivered to your front stoop within hours. The rise of online shopping has summoned a death knell for some of the old standard-bearers of retail. (Jeffrey P. Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon, owns The Washington Post.)

Macy’s and J.C. Penney, for instance, have in recent years reported crippling losses and widespread store closures. When those big anchor stores close, suburban malls find it hard to replace them. Many ’60s- and ’70s-era enclosed malls have been abandoned, razed or reimagined. 

“With department store closings, many malls will have to get creative with how they utilize space,” said Amy Raskin, who follows urbanization trends as chief investment officer at Chevy Chase Trust. She said many malls nationwide have converted space into multifamily residential units, whereas more rural malls may take on nonstandard anchor tenants, such as a Walmart. 

Despite Pueblo’s three Walmarts and the arrival of a Dick’s Sporting Goods and an Ulta Beauty store, the Pueblo Mall is bustling. On weekends, its nearly 3,000 outdoor parking spaces fill up. Inside are a few relics of the golden age of American malls: Amy’s Hallmark, Claire’s, Kay Jewelers. And in the food court is an Orange Julius, with its old-school classics and a modern update: smoothies.

The mall does not track visitors, according to manager Timothy Schweitzer, but based on sales trends, he says traffic has increased 3 percent to 5 percent in the past year. He said the mall’s average sales per square foot are healthy, holding at around $400 over the past six months. He attributed this to the bigger-name tenants that have opened in recent years, including Bath and Body Works, Victoria’s Secret, Charlotte Russe, Hot Topic and Zumi. 

It draws kids from all over on the weekends. “It’s still not ­unusual to see out-of-town teams from La Junta [65 miles], Rocky Ford [54 miles] or Walsenburg [53 miles] walk around the mall after soccer or basketball games,” said Carol Clark, who works for the CW Railway and lives 25 miles south in Colorado City.

Clark says that when the mall was built, downtown Pueblo suffered and many of its stores closed. The mall became Pueblo’s new town square.


Re: 4 Reasons Allergies Are Everywhere These Days + How To Deal

[Note:  This comment comes from friend Steve Schear.  DLH]

From: Steven Schear <>
Subject: Re: [Dewayne-Net] 4 Reasons Allergies Are Everywhere These Days + How To Deal
Date: May 20, 2017 at 10:12:38 AM PDT

Worm Therapy: an apparently effective remedy to hygiene-related autoimmune diseases and allergies

The Political Spectrum: The Tumultuous Liberation of Wireless Technology, from Herbert Hoover to the Smartphone

[Note:  This item comes from friend Tom Hazlett.  DLH]

Hi Dewayne,
You are thanked for your yeoman’s service keeping your whole tribe fat and happy with sectoral news and information.  I hope the shout out does not cause you grief.  The book is officially published this coming Tuesday.  Short Amazon summary below.  Advertising appreciated.  If you’d like a review copy, please send an address.

The Political Spectrum: The Tumultuous Liberation of Wireless Technology, from Herbert Hoover to the Smartphone 

Yale University Press * Hardcover – May 23, 2017

From the former chief economist of the FCC, a remarkable history of the U.S. government’s regulation of the airwaves

Popular legend has it that before the Federal Radio Commission was established in 1927, the radio spectrum was in chaos, with broadcasting stations blasting powerful signals to drown out rivals. In this fascinating and entertaining history, Thomas Winslow Hazlett, a distinguished scholar in law and economics, debunks the idea that the U.S. government stepped in to impose necessary order. Instead, regulators blocked competition at the behest of incumbent interests and, for nearly a century, have suppressed innovation while quashing out-of-the-mainstream viewpoints.
Hazlett details how spectrum officials produced a “vast wasteland” that they publicly criticized but privately protected. The story twists and turns, as farsighted visionaries—and the march of science—rise to challenge the old regime. Over decades, reforms to liberate the radio spectrum have generated explosive progress, ushering in the “smartphone revolution,” ubiquitous social media, and the amazing wireless world now emerging. Still, the author argues, the battle is not even half won.

– – – “A masterpiece of wisdom and wit , The Political Spectrum proves that, when applied to the airways, the higher the stakes, the higher the waste. Tom Hazlett’s narrative is comprehensive, incisive, and characteristically hilarious.” —Vernon L. Smith, Chapman University, 2002 Nobel Laureate in Economics
 “In this book, Thomas W. Hazlett shows how administrative management of the radio spectrum has always been inefficient and, with the mobile and digital revolutions, the costs of not allocating spectrum by the market are rising dramatically. This is a deadly serious subject, but Hazlett’s engaging writing style vastly enlivens it.” — Martin Cave, author of Spectrum Management—How to Get the Best Out of the Airwaves for Society and the Economy
“A masterful book written in an agreeably informal and non-technical style, this is essential reading for anyone interested in the law and economics of spectrum allocation, from Marconi to the Internet.”—H.E. Frech III, University of California, Santa Barbara
“Among [the] proponents of a market for spectrum, none is more vocal and persuasive than …Thomas Hazlett…. Hazlett has done an extraordinary service demonstrating the harm of government-managed spectrum.” — Lawrence Lessig, The Future of Ideas
“Few understand spectrum, and yet few things are more important to our networked future. Tom Hazlett covers it all superbly.  A monumental work.”—Gerald Faulhaber, The Wharton School and School of Law, University of Pennsylvania
“Tom Hazlett describes convincingly and clearly how federal regulation of the radio spectrum epitomizes crony capitalism in the U.S.  With colorful writing and extensive research, The Political Spectrum demonstrates how spectrum regulation provides politicians and regulators with a goody bag of campaign contributions while in office and high-salaried jobs afterwards, all at the expense of the general welfare.”—Bruce M. Owen, Emeritus Professor of Public Policy, Stanford University
“Leading policy scholar Thomas Hazlett presents a stinging critique of rules governing ‘spectrum’—and tells us how to improve things. Insightful, witty, and chock-full of rich historical accounts, the book is illuminating and a pleasure to read.—Marius Schwartz, Professor of Economics, Georgetown University, and former Chief Economist, FCC
“An insightful, entertaining account of U.S. communications policy history. All serious students of regulation  in practice will benefit from Hazlett’s dissection of the Federal Communications Commission’s leading decisions and its failure modes. I read it twice, cover to cover.”—Peter Pitsch, former Chief of the FCC Office of Plans & Policy
“Understanding wireless demands expertise in science, economics and government, requiring a top-notch, ambidextrous analyst. Tom Hazlett has plowed all the ground. What can’t be learned in this riveting and instructive tour d’horizon is likely not worth knowing.”—Fred S. McChesney, University of Miami “Tom Hazlett shows convincingly that, with the best of intentions (and often not), artificial limits on spectrum use have limited access news, information, public service and arts and culture.”—Adam Clayton Powell III, Director, Washington Programs, USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, University of Southern California

Thomas W. HazlettHugh H. Macaulay Endowed Professor of Economics * Clemson UniversityDirector, Information Economy Project @ Clemson

I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs. Frederick Douglass (1817-1895)
Order from  Official publication date May 23, 2017.

‘The Internet Is Broken’: @ev Is Trying to Salvage It

‘The Internet Is Broken’: @ev Is Trying to Salvage It
May 20 2017

SAN FRANCISCO — Evan Williams is the guy who opened up Pandora’s box. Until he came along, people had few places to go with their overflowing emotions and wild opinions, other than writing a letter to the newspaper or haranguing the neighbors.

Mr. Williams — a Twitter founder, a co-creator of Blogger — set everyone free, providing tools to address the world. In the history of communications technology, it was a development with echoes of Gutenberg.

And so here we are in 2017. How’s it going, Mr. Williams?

“I think the internet is broken,” he says. He has believed this for a few years, actually. But things are getting worse. “And it’s a lot more obvious to a lot of people that it’s broken.”

People are using Facebook to showcase suicides, beatings and murder, in real time. Twitter is a hive of trolling and abuse that it seems unable to stop. Fake news, whether created for ideology or profit, runs rampant. Four out of 10 adult internet users said in a Pew survey that they had been harassed online. And that was before the presidential campaign heated up last year.

“I thought once everybody could speak freely and exchange information and ideas, the world is automatically going to be a better place,” Mr. Williams says. “I was wrong about that.”

The Silicon Valley entrepreneur first drew notice during the dot-com boom, for developing software that allowed users to easily set up a website for broadcasting their thoughts: blogging. By the time Google bought the company in 2003, more than a million people were using it.

Then came Twitter, which wasn’t his idea but was his company. He remains the largest individual shareholder and a board member.

After fame and fortune come regrets. Mr. Williams is trying to fix some things. So, in different ways, are Google and Facebook, and even Twitter. This is a moment for patches and promises.

The trouble with the internet, Mr. Williams says, is that it rewards extremes. Say you’re driving down the road and see a car crash. Of course you look. Everyone looks. The internet interprets behavior like this to mean everyone is asking for car crashes, so it tries to supply them.

His goal is to break this pattern. “If I learn that every time I drive down this road I’m going to see more and more car crashes,” he says, “I’m going to take a different road.”

But a new road may have other problems. It may, for instance, be a dead end.

Mr. Williams isn’t the only one trying to fix this mess, of course. If he and others can’t find a path forward, if they can’t solve what he calls “the architecture of content creation, distribution and monetization on the internet,” there are unsettling implications for the future of news and ideas. Maybe it will be all car crashes, all the time. Twitter already feels like that.

For five years, Mr. Williams has been refining a communications platform called Medium. Its ambition: define a new model for media in a world struggling under the weight of fake or worthless content. Medium is supposed to be social and collaborative without rewarding the smash-ups. It is supposed to be a force for good.

“A beautiful space for reading and writing — and little else,” Mr. Williams called Medium at its public debut in 2012. “The words are central.”

Early chatter was enthusiastic, based on Mr. Williams’s track record and the site’s ease of use. But Medium, which began out of step with nearly all other media, now seems to inhabit a different universe.

At a moment when buzz can appear to be everything, Medium is not afraid to be dull. (“How to Expand Your Vocabulary” was featured on the “Popular on Medium” page.) As news becomes more visually oriented, the site stays focused on words. And it continues to strive for the broadest possible reach, welcoming all sorts of untested writers, though that may be changing.

Medium’s latest incarnation, unveiled in late March, included a $5 monthly subscription for premium writing. The reaction was underwhelming. “Ev Williams Has Lost His Goddamn Mind,” ran the headline in The Next Web, an online publication.

Critics say Medium is less a company than it is Mr. Williams’s 85-employee hobby. “The notion that you’re going to succeed as a writing site simply by putting quality first is not compatible with venture capital revenue expectations,” said Bill Rosenblatt, a media technology consultant. “No one would have funded this if it weren’t by Ev Williams.”

Mr. Williams’s supporters say that it is a feature, not a bug, and that publishing needs all the experiments it can get. But they concede the road will be difficult.


4 Reasons Allergies Are Everywhere These Days + How To Deal

4 Reasons Allergies Are Everywhere These Days + How To Deal
By Robin Nixon Pompa
Apr 7 2017

Clinically diagnosed food allergies are thought to have doubled in roughly the last decade, with now as many as 15 million people—and 8 percent of children—affected in the United States alone. Simultaneously, hospitalizations for severe allergic reactions have increased seven-fold. Why? Here are the top four reasons allergies are on the rise: 

1. Outdated erroneous guidelines

Guidelines used to urge parents to avoid major allergens like nuts, fish, and eggs until toddlerhood, but scientists now think this advice may have accelerated the current food allergy epidemic. The immune system likely has a critical period to learn that all foods—especially allergenic foods—are safe. If exposure is delayed or inconsistent, an allergy can develop. 

Parents are now encouraged to introduce potential allergens, especially peanuts and eggs, to babies as young as 3 to 6 months old—assuming they are developmentally ready for food. And then it’s recommended that they continue to feed them allergens regularly (perhaps up to twice a week) for the first five years of life. If your baby has severe eczema or a family history of allergies, you may want to have them evaluated before exposing them, but don’t delay. Early and regular exposure may be particularly important for high-risk babies.

2. Lack of sunshine

While the outdated recommendations almost certainly contributed to the rise in food allergies, they are unlikely to be the only culprit. Many immune system disorders including allergies, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, and Parkinson’s disease increase as you get farther from the equator and some scientists suspect the cause is inadequate amounts of sunshine. 

These studies can sometimes smack of astrology: One undertaken in Boston found that people visiting a hospital due to food allergies are more likely to have an autumn or winter birthday. The reason, however, is not the alignment of the stars but perhaps exposure to one star—the sun. These patients may have received too little sunlight in infancy, inhibiting the production of vitamin D, an essential immune system ingredient, which may have made food allergies more likely. 

Unfortunately, the answer does not simply lie in vitamin D supplementation. Vitamin D supplements have problems of their own and have even been linked to increased rates of allergies. Moderate exposure to sunshine is likely the best bet.

3. The hygiene hypothesis

The development of a healthy immune system may also suffer from an overly clean environment. I am, unfortunately, not saying that basic housework is the problem here. Our world is “too clean” due to many necessary sanitation measures that eradicate pathogens and provide us with luxuries like clean water and uncontaminated food. These measures have curbed infectious diseases and infant mortality rates and improved life spans. But with the good also comes some bad. The immune system evolved receiving stimulation from pathogens during its development. An immune system that largely develops without these challenges may act paranoid, reacting to a peanut as if it’s poison.


Arctic stronghold of world’s seeds flooded after permafrost melts

Arctic stronghold of world’s seeds flooded after permafrost melts
No seeds were lost but the ability of the rock vault to provide failsafe protection against all disasters is now threatened by climate change
By Damian CarringtonEnvironment editor
May 19 2017

It was designed as an impregnable deep-freeze to protect the world’s most precious seeds from any global disaster and ensure humanity’s food supply forever. But the Global Seed Vault, buried in a mountain deep inside the Arctic circle, has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel.

The vault is on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen and contains almost a million packets of seeds, each a variety of an important food crop. When it was opened in 2008, the deep permafrost through which the vault was sunk was expected to provide “failsafe” protection against “the challenge of natural or man-made disasters”.

But soaring temperatures in the Arctic at the end of the world’s hottest ever recorded year led to melting and heavy rain, when light snow should have been falling. “It was not in our plans to think that the permafrost would not be there and that it would experience extreme weather like that,” said Hege Njaa Aschim, from the Norwegian government, which owns the vault.

The Svalbard seed vault: safeguarding the world’s crop varieties
“A lot of water went into the start of the tunnel and then it froze to ice, so it was like a glacier when you went in,” she told the Guardian. Fortunately, the meltwater did not reach the vault itself, the ice has been hacked out, and the precious seeds remain safe for now at the required storage temperature of -18C.

But the breach has questioned the ability of the vault to survive as a lifeline for humanity if catastrophe strikes. “It was supposed to [operate] without the help of humans, but now we are watching the seed vault 24 hours a day,” Aschim said. “We must see what we can do to minimise all the risks and make sure the seed bank can take care of itself.”

The vault’s managers are now waiting to see if the extreme heat of this winter was a one-off or will be repeated or even exceeded as climate change heats the planet. The end of 2016 saw average temperatures over 7C above normal on Spitsbergen, pushing the permafrost above melting point.

“The question is whether this is just happening now, or will it escalate?” said Aschim. The Svalbard archipelago, of which Spitsbergen is part, has warmed rapidly in recent decades, according to Ketil Isaksen, from Norway’s Meteorological Institute. 

“The Arctic and especially Svalbard warms up faster than the rest of the world. The climate is changing dramatically and we are all amazed at how quickly it is going,” Isaksen told Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet.

The vault managers are now taking precautions, including major work to waterproof the 100m-long tunnel into the mountain and digging trenches into the mountainside to channel meltwater and rain away. They have also removed electrical equipment from the tunnel that produced some heat and installed pumps in the vault itself in case of a future flood.