Resident Alien is coming back for a fourth season. This is NOT some bullshit.

Kevin Drum provides a brief rundown of lessons learned from the Covid pandemic. What worked and what didn’t? Masking, closing schools, remote work, far-UVC lighting, restaurant shutdowns and more.

We should be working right now on a Manhattan Project to install better ventilation universally to prepare for a future pandemic. This is especially true in schools, workplaces, and other high-traffic areas.

This was what we did in reaction to the flu pandemic of 1918 and it worked. If we could do it in 1918, we can do it today.

Sinclair is flooding local news websites with hundreds of deceptive articles about Biden’s mental fitness.

The articles are based on specious social media posts by the Republican National Committee (RNC), which are then repackaged to resemble news reports. The thinly disguised political attacks are then syndicated to dozens of local news websites owned by Sinclair, where they are given the imprimatur of mainstream media brands, including NBC, ABC, and CBS.

🦆Today’s ephemera: Every ceiling fan I’ve ever used

I’ve been using my iPhone as my webcam and it works great

I have been using use a feature called Continuity Camera to turn my iPhone into a webcam and I’m very happy with the result.

When it’s time for me to start a video call or meeting, I take my phone out of my pocket and put it on an inexpensive magnetic mount on top of my display. My MacBook automatically connects and I’m in the meeting using my phone’s rear camera.

I previously had this Logitech webcam (was $70 when I paid for it and now it’s $60) and that worked fine, but the video quality on the iPhone is better.

Continuity Camera supports a few special effects, but I’ve only used one of them: Framing adjustments. My home office is a cluttered mess, and videoconferencing often shows too much of that. Using Continuity Camera’s built-in controls, I can zoom in so other meeting participants see just my face plus enough surrounding office background to look natural. I can also pan or automatically recenter to get my face in just the right location.

The magnetic mount I use to attach the iPhone to the display is this one. ($23). It’s made of metal, and it rests securely on top of the display without adhesive or screws. The mount uses the phone’s MagSafe magnets to hold the phone in place. Mounting the phone takes about 30 seconds; just position the phone in place on the mount and magnets do the rest.

Of course, because I’m using the phone’s rear camera for the meeting, I can’t see the screen to see what I look like. But the Continuity Camera software on MacOS mirrors the camera view to my Mac.

This system has one significant drawback: I can’t use the phone when I’m using it is a webcam. This is usually not a problem, because most things I need to do on the phone are things I can also do on the Mac. I do occasionally get a notification on the phone that doesn’t show up on my Mac; for example, from the Amazon app. When that happens, I just wait until the meeting is over and deal with the notification then.

📷 Julie and I went to Old Town, where we saw these T-shirts. I was tempted to buy a couple but decided I’m not badass enough. Perhaps an aspirational purchase.

How to make diner coffee: a delightful Reddit thread

A delightful Reddit thread from a former foreign student who studied in America and misses diner coffee.

… I used to study abroad in the states and I miss those coffees from american diner. I know it’s shitty to some people and I’m no connoisseur and I just enjoy what I enjoy. Does anyone know how to make them? I have little to no coffee-making knowledge.

The answers do not disappoint:

… 92% of diner coffee is about the thick walled mug that has been washed 12,000 times in the last 6 years.

The coffee taste and smell is ingrained the cup. It’s like 75yr old cast iron cookware.

Serious answers:

… Use a basic drip coffee maker and a medium roast, pre-ground coffee like Folgers or Maxwell House. Measure 1 to 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds per 6 ounces of water, depending on your strength preference. Place a paper filter in the coffee maker’s basket, add the coffee grounds, and fill the water reservoir with filtered water. Brew the coffee and serve it in a thick-walled ceramic mug, which is very common in these diners

You forgot “let age 1-2 hours in the carafe on the burner before serving.” It’s really the key, even when I do high end coffee in a high end drip brewer it tastes like diner coffee after an hour or so.

It gets that extra burnt kind of flavor that is the hallmark of diner coffee. The old bunn o matic. It takes me back to hunting trips with my grandfather and stopping at the rural diner out in bumble and having diner coffee and bacon and eggs or pancakes the crack of ass in the morning. Lol. Good times.

What happened to utopias?

We dreamed about utopias and created utopian communities in the 19th Century. Why’d we stop?

Rohit Krishnan:

What was the magic in the 1800s, that many somehow internalised the belief that a few people could come together and figure out the perfect society? Enough that day convinced their followers to move across the known world to try and build something from scratch. An entire economic ideology, political ideology, way of life.

This is the type of ambition that we don’t see anymore. Even the undercurrent of the possibility of the belief is clouded in questions about feasibility and desirability and minimum viable product. In skeptical questions and rational inquiry that nevertheless stubs out the little flames of spirit.

Why is that? Why is it that there was a time in our history not so long ago when smart intelligent people legitimately thought that they had the ability to recreate paradise, and then moved heaven and earth to make it so.

This doesn’t seem to happen anymore. Our culture is not suffused by people thinking they can make humans better, or that they can create a utopian society. We seem stuck in incrementalist thinking, or sometimes believing in technology to help save us when we’re not busy blaming technology for having created a world that we need saving from.

Today’s ephemera: The Demolished Man

Homebrew reader brings paper tape programs back to life — “ … the storage media of yesteryear has so much more personality than that of today. … there’s a certain charm to a mass storage device that can potentially slice off your finger.”

Goblin band is an attempt to replicate the collective creative energy that happens on tumblr and take it to the fediverse.” Looks intriguing. There’s a lot I love about Tumblr but I dislike that it’s steadily moved away from the open web and toward social siloing, like Twitter and Facebook.

I love jwz’s capsule movie and TV reviews. I made a list of about nine movies and series to check out.

CSP leaders don’t fear losing jobs to AI, according to a Fierce Network survey — Despite gloomy prognostications from the experts, communication service provider (CSP) leaders think the outlook for AI and jobs is bright: Over two-thirds of CSP leaders surveyed believe AI and automation will increase or minimally impact job numbers, not reduce them. My latest on Fierce Network.

Why Dining Rooms Are Disappearing From American Homes

M Nolan Gray at The Atlantic

The dining room is the closest thing the American home has to an appendix–a dispensable feature that served some more important function at an earlier stage of architectural evolution. …

Americans now tend to eat in spaces that double as kitchens or living rooms–a small price to pay for making the most of their square footage. But in many new apartments, even a space to put a table and chairs is absent. Eating is relegated to couches and bedrooms, and hosting a meal has become virtually impossible. This isn’t simply a response to consumer preferences. The housing crisis–and the arbitrary regulations that fuel it–is killing off places to eat whether we like it or not, designing loneliness into American floor plans.

The transition from the classic dining room to the great room mirrors the changes in gender norms and family formation that have occurred over the past 125 years. The dining room emerged in the early 20th century, when an ascendant upper middle class hired migrant laborers as servants. Many American homes from that era were designed around creating a separate sphere for “the help,” with sectioned-off kitchens, laundry rooms, and servants' quarters….

In households where servants were unaffordable, domestic work fell to women. Separate dining rooms and kitchens thus reinforced the segregation of male and female spaces, while allowing generations of newly minted homeowners to ape the design norms of yesteryear’s elites.

“For the most part, apartments are built for Netflix and chill,” Bobby Fijan, a real-estate developer and floor-plan expert, told me. “The reason the dining room is disappearing is that we are allocating [our] limited space to bedrooms and walk-in closets.” Even though we’re dining at home more and more—going to restaurants peaked in 2000—many new apartments offer only a kitchen island as an obvious place to eat.

This is partly a response to shrinking household size. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the share of one-person households more than tripled from 1940 to 2020.

We eat our meals at our computers or the TV. I’m a little ashamed to admit that. I read this article at my Mac over lunch.

Former President Donald Trump led House Republicans through a gripe-filled closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill on Thursday, airing grievances about his legal and electoral challenges, attacking his critics in the room, and only briefly addressing policy matters like abortion and taxes, according to multiple GOP lawmakers in the room.


Trump doesn’t care about abortion, taxes, immigration and other issues Republicans care about. He only cares about revenge.

The US has the rich world’s most expensive healthcare system, and that system delivers the worst health outcomes of any country in the rich world. Also, the US is unique in relying on market forces as the primary regulator of its health care system.

— Cory Doctorow, The health industry’s invisible hand is a fist

The Oklahoma Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit brought by the survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre.

The legacy of slavery and America’s history of racism is still alive. Structural racism is a pervasive force in American society. Racism is still prevalent.

American Blacks have significantly less generational wealth than whites, simply because of centuries of white people building wealth on Black slave labor. White people in America have a head start of centuries.

America’s response: Too bad, so sad, nothing we can do about it.

Reparations may well be neither practical nor just. But that’s not what this case is about. This case was about actual victims of a specific event suing for damages, and Oklahoma told them to piss off and die. Which is exactly what happened because the plaintiffs were centenarians when they sued.

An end to the climate emergency is in our grasp — Good news/bad news from Cory Doctorow Renewable energy is set to double by the end of the decade. But it needs to triple.

Clean energy is going through the same kind of boom that transformed the Internet and other emerging technologies in the last century—though in the case of past emerging technologies, big business drove demand while in the case of clean energy, the big fossil fuel companies are slowing it down, Cory says.

According to research, we’ll hit peak demand for fossil fuels this year or next, says Cory, adding:

The reason for this is that so much renewable energy is about to come online, and it is so goddamned cheap, that we are about to undergo a huge shift in our energy consumption patterns. This past decade saw a 12-fold increase in solar capacity, a 180-fold increase in battery storage, and a 100-fold increase in EV sales. China is leading the world in a cleantech transition, with the EU in close second. Cleantech is surging in places where energy demand is also still growing, like India and Vietnam. Fossil fuel use has already peaked in Thailand, South Africa and every country in Latin America.”

Federal judge strikes down Florida ban on medical treatments for transgender kids — In overturning a barbaric Florida law blocking medical care for transgender children U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle said the law’s advocates failed to find “a single adversely affected Florida patient.”