Deanonymization

from arstechnica:
Google has access to detailed health records on tens of millions of Americans

Google quietly partnered last year with Ascension—the country’s second-largest health system—and has since gained access to detailed medical records on tens of millions of Americans, according to a November 11 report by The Wall Street Journal.

The endeavor, code-named “Project Nightingale,” has enabled at least 150 Google employees to see patient health information, which includes diagnoses, laboratory test results, hospitalization records, and other data, according to internal documents and the newspaper’s sources. In all, the data amounts to complete medical records, WSJ notes, and contains patient names and birth dates

From the comments:

I’m minded of a couple who went to a tropical island, got a tropical disease, came home and the story didn’t publish their names.
But the general location of the couple’s residence, when they were in the tropical island, their ages and other identifying data was published, and in no time at all, the couple were outed on social media.
It doesn’t matter if names and addresses and such aren’t applied. It’s easy enough to figure it out form a bit of social media and a good memory.

Thoughts and How You Feel

In fact, your thoughts often have much more to do with how you feel than what is actually happening in your life.

This isn’t a new idea. Nearly two thousand years ago the Greek philosopher, Epictetus, stated that people are disturbed “not by things, but by the views we take of them.” In the Book of Proverbs (23: 7) in the Old Testament you can find this passage: “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” And even Shakespeare expressed a similar idea when he said: “for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” (Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2).

Burns M.D., David D.. Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy 

Object Oriented Programming – how to avoid duplication in processes that differ slightly depending on a variable

Something that comes up quite a lot in my current work is that there is a generalised process that needs to happen, but then the odd part of that process needs to happen slightly differently depending on the value of a certain variable, and I’m not quite sure what’s the most elegant way to handle this.

See a few different approaches -> stackoverflow

Big Business Is Overcharging You $5,000 a Year – The New York Times

Figuring out why has become a core part of Philippon’s academic research, and he offers his answer in a fascinating new book, “The Great Reversal: How America Gave Up on Free Markets.” In one industry after another, he writes, a few companies have grown so large that they have the power to keep prices high and wages low. It’s great for those corporations — and bad for almost everyone else.

Many Americans have a choice between only two internet providers. The airline industry is dominated by four large carriers. Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are growing ever larger. One or two hospital systems control many local markets. Home Depot and Lowe’s have displaced local hardware stores. Regional pharmacy chains like Eckerd and Happy Harry’s have been swallowed by national giants.

David Leonhardt, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/10/opinion/big-business-consumer-prices.html

Bowie at Concert for Berlin

A decade later, when, in 1987, Bowie returned for the Concert for Berlin, a three-day open-air show in front of the Reichstag, he chose “Heroes” for his performance. By then the city’s Soviet-dominated East had become safer, but it had not become more free. Rock music was treated as a destabilizing threat.

But the wall couldn’t keep out radio waves; the West German–operated, US-run radio station Radio in the American Sector was popular in the East, and had secured rare permission from the performing acts to broadcast the show in its entirety. (Record labels typically opposed this in the 1980s, knowing listeners would record the broadcasts, undercutting album sales.) The concert was held near enough to the border that many East Berliners crowded along the wall to listen to the forbidden American and British music wafting across the city, allowing these two halves of the city to hear the same show, divided but together.

When Bowie performed on the second night, he began by telling the crowd, in German, “We send our wishes to all our friends who are on the other side of the wall.” He sang “Heroes,” the song he’d recorded in Berlin a decade earlier amid the city’s Cold War fear and violence.

Max Fisher, https://www.vox.com/2016/1/11/10749546/david-bowie-berlin-wall-heroes

6 Jaw-Dropping Moments From James Lipton’s ‘Inside the Actors Studio’

No ordinary TV host, Lipton took a journalistic approach to his job. He spent two weeks preparing for every interview, watching every film and TV show in which a guest appeared. The actual interviews lasted four to five hours (edited down for television). And Lipton arrived at every taping with his trademark blue index cards, ready to interrogate guests.

Jack Lemmon
The legend appeared on Lipton’s show in 1998. While discussing the film Days of Wine and Roses, Lipton mentioned a scene where his character admits he’s an alcoholic.

What happens next isn’t on YouTube, but even as just a transcript, it’s still one of the most powerful moments in the show’s history.

Lemmon: “Which I am, incidentally.”
Lipton: “Who?”
Lemmon: “Me.”
Lipton: “Are you talking as Clay [Lemmon’s character] now or as Jack Lemmon?”
Lemmon: “No, as Jack Lemmon. I’m an alcoholic.”

John Bonazzo, New York Observer

Live from NYC: Adoption, a Plane Crash and a Busload of Lutherans

A special live edition of The Moth recorded at The Players Club in New York City. A professional who works with adoption services details the personal reason she was drawn to her work, a son desperately seeks a connection with his father after a near deadly plane crash, and a Lutheran minister visits The Middle East and combats her intense fear of heights.

Moth episode

Ivan Ilych’s life was the most simple and most ordinary and therefore the most terrible.

The self that dies is radically separate, not only from the material world but also from other selves. My consciousness is essentially private; I cannot directly experience the mind of another. I may know everything public about another conscious being, but I cannot experience being that other. Knowing from direct experience is one thing, and knowing about, from an outside perspective, is quite another. Mortality therefore entails unspeakable loneliness.

Itself a narrativized apothegm, Tolstoy’s novella contains several of his most-cited lines. Ivan Ilych has lived as if his public role exhausted his identity, but in his mortal illness he discovers the private self, inaccessible from the outside, that he has overlooked. He senses with horror that his role will go on but his “I” will die.

None of us can really grasp this fact, but for Ivan Ilych it is all the more terrible because he is losing the self just as he realizes he has it. He has thought of himself as his “place” (mesto), a word that means not only physical location but also job (position) and social role (place in society). He has assiduously avoided doing anything “inappropriate” (literally, out of place). But the self is not a place, and so he has missed it until, when dying, he recognizes that besides what is here and now, there is something else.

What Ivan Ilych takes to be the glory of his life, his amazing ability to “fit in” with others, depends on a “virtuoso” erasure of self. But as he will learn, nothing can be worse than success in such a venture. That is the meaning of the frequently cited apothegm that begins Chapter 2: Ivan Ilych’s life was the most simple and most ordinary and therefore the most terrible. (GSW, 255)

Morson, Gary. The Long and Short of It: From Aphorism to Novel

State of RTD, Westword on

Over the course of a single weekday, people in metro Denver collectively travel more than 110 million miles — greater than the distance between the Earth and the sun. More than 1.8 million employed adults and 650,000 students need to get to work or school and back, and over 2 million passenger cars, freight trucks, buses and other vehicles clog the region’s streets and highways. Though it’s currently only responsible for moving a small fraction of these commuters through this vast transportation network, the RTD system has to balance a staggering array of competing needs and priorities.

During any given morning rush hour, perhaps 100,000 people board an RTD bus or train, bound for 100,000 destinations across a service area the size of Delaware. Eight hundred buses, driven by 800 operators, work their way between nearly 10,000 passenger stops along 169 fixed routes. Two hundred rail vehicles are weaving through downtown traffic or speeding through railroad crossings from Wheat Ridge to Peña Boulevard.

RTD Sees a Future That Runs on Transit — but First, It Has to Weather a Crisis
Chase Woodruff, Westword

Separation of Tasks

PHILOSOPHER: All you can do with regard to your own life is choose the best path that you believe in. On the other hand, what kind of judgment do other people pass on that choice? That is the task of other people, and is not a matter you can do anything about.

YOUTH: What another person thinks of you—if he or she likes you or dislikes you—that is that person’s task, not mine. Is that what you are saying?

PHILOSOPHER: That is what separating is. You are worried about other people looking at you. You are worried about being judged by other people. That is why you are constantly craving recognition from others. Now, why are you worried about other people looking at you, anyway? Adlerian psychology has an easy answer. You haven’t done the separation of tasks yet. You assume that even things that should be other people’s tasks are your own. Remember the words of the grandmother: “You’re the only one who’s worried how you look.” Her remark drives right to the heart of the separation of tasks. What other people think when they see your face—that is the task of other people and is not something you have any control over.

Kishimi, Ichiro. The Courage to Be Disliked: The Japanese Phenomenon That Shows You How to Change Your Life and Achieve Real Happiness

Sentencing Reform in Oklahoma

TAFT, Okla. — Julie Faircloth walked out of an Oklahoma prison near the head of a line of nearly 70 women who were freed on Monday, as part of one of the largest single-day releases of prisoners in the nation’s history.

They were greeted by screams of joy from relatives who had gathered outside the prison, a minimum-security facility southeast of Tulsa. Hugging first her mother, then her husband, Ms. Faircloth, 28, said she was overwhelmed. “I can’t even put words to it,” she said.

Across Oklahoma on Monday, 462 inmates doing time for drug possession or similar nonviolent crimes had their sentences commuted as the first step in an effort by state officials to shed the title of the nation’s incarceration capital.

 

Voters forced the hand of Oklahoma lawmakers in 2016 when, by a wide margin, they approved a plan to shrink prison rolls by downgrading many felonies to misdemeanors, including simple drug possession and minor property crimes.

Nearly 500 Prisoners Freed on a Single Day
Oklahoma has one of the nation’s highest incarceration rates, but a law downgrading minor crimes is the first step in an effort to change that.
Kristi Eaton and Richard A. Oppel Jr.
NY Times

Your Consumer Rating and History

As consumers, we all have “secret scores”: hidden ratings that determine how long each of us waits on hold when calling a business, whether we can return items at a store, and what type of service we receive. A low score sends you to the back of the queue; high scores get you elite treatment.

Every so often, journalists lament these systems’ inaccessibility. They’re “largely invisible to the public,” The New York Times wrote in 2012. “Most people have no inkling they even exist,” The Wall Street Journal said in 2018. Most recently, in April, The Journal’s Christopher Mims looked at a company called Sift, whose proprietary scoring system tracks 16,000 factors for companies like Airbnb and OkCupid. “Sift judges whether or not you can be trusted,” he wrote, “yet there’s no file with your name that it can produce upon request.”

As of this summer, though, Sift does have a file on you, which it can produce upon request. I got mine, and I found it shocking: More than 400 pages long, it contained all the messages I’d ever sent to hosts on Airbnb; years of Yelp delivery orders; a log of every time I’d opened the Coinbase app on my iPhone. Many entries included detailed information about the device I used to do these things, including my IP address at the time.

Sift knew, for example, that I’d used my iPhone to order chicken tikka masala, vegetable samosas and garlic naan on a Saturday night in April three years ago. It knew I used my Apple laptop to sign into Coinbase in January 2017 to change my password. Sift knew about a nightmare Thanksgiving I had in California’s wine country, as captured in my messages to the Airbnb host of a rental called “Cloud 9.” 

I Got Access to My Secret Consumer Score. Now You Can Get Yours, Too.
Kashmir Hill
NY Times

Compare and Despair

But no matter; I could still find a way to make my relationship with Facebook dysfunctional.

I started using it in a manner many people, alas, seem to: as reading material as I pored through other people’s posts in order to, as people in recovery say, “compare and despair.” Everyone I knew, it seemed, had a book being made into a movie, a perfect husband and even more perfect child or the best friends in the world. Even though I understood that Facebook life wasn’t entirely reflective of real life, I still allowed myself to either seethe with jealousy or, far more commonly, use what other people seemed to be achieving as an emotional sledgehammer to beat myself up.

I’m relieved to report that my compare-and-despair habit diminished exponentially once I realized that we all have issues and most of us wouldn’t trade ours for anyone else’s if we actually knew other people’s real stories.

David, Anna. How to Get Successful by F*cking Up Your Life: Essays on Addiction and Recovery