Wednesday 13 May, 2020

Quarantine cat #1

So… are you gonna feed me or not?

Summary of Boris Johnson’s Guidance to the British public

That’s about it.

Ian Berry’s Leica M3

A real workhorse, used by a great Magnum photographer. Illustrates why people buy Leica gear. My M4 is still going strong. But then it hasn’t had that kind of battering.

From Douglas So’s collection of vintage Leicas.

(Apologies to non-photographers: this post should be categorised as ‘camera porn’. As Miss Jean Brodie used to say of chemistry: “For those who like that kind of thing, that is the kind of thing they like”. In 2014 I wrote a long essay about my lifelong — and expensive — relationship with Leica cameras.)

How Covid-19 spreads

Erin Bromage is a Comparative Immunologist and Professor of Biology (specializing in Immunology) at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth who balances Teaching, Research and Public Service (that is, when she and her colleagues are allowed in their labs). “This past semester”, she writes, “I taught a class on Ecology of Infectious Disease to undergraduate students. I always like to have a current disease example as a common thread throughout the course. So in January, when I was putting the syllabus for my course together, I saw a pathogen emerging in China and decided to incorporate it. Since early January my students and I have been developing and updating a huge notice board of information outside my laboratory on the new research findings to track the pathogen’s progression.”

Her blog has expanded greatly both in content and readership since she started it. I was particularly struck by a set of case studies she includes about how the pathogen spreads in different settings. Here’s the ‘Restaurant’ one:

Restaurants: Some really great shoe-leather epidemiology demonstrated clearly the effect of a single asymptomatic carrier in a restaurant environment (see below). The infected person (A1) sat at a table and had dinner with 9 friends. Dinner took about 1 to 1.5 hours. During this meal, the asymptomatic carrier released low-levels of virus into the air from their breathing. Airflow (from the restaurant’s various airflow vents) was from right to left. Approximately 50% of the people at the infected person’s table became sick over the next 7 days. 75% of the people on the adjacent downwind table became infected. And even 2 of the 7 people on the upwind table were infected (believed to happen by turbulent airflow). No one at tables E or F became infected, they were out of the main airflow from the air conditioner on the right to the exhaust fan on the left of the room.

Click on the image to see a bigger version.

Not good news for restaurant owners, I’m afraid, as we emerge from lockdown.

Facebook will pay $52 million in settlement with moderators who developed PTSD on the job

From the Verge:

In a landmark acknowledgment of the toll that content moderation takes on its workforce, Facebook has agreed to pay $52 million to current and former moderators to compensate them for mental health issues developed on the job. In a preliminary settlement filed on Friday in San Mateo Superior Court, the social network agreed to pay damages to American moderators and provide more counseling to them while they work.

Each moderator will receive a minimum of $1,000 and will be eligible for additional compensation if they are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or related conditions. The settlement covers 11,250 moderators, and lawyers in the case believe that as many as half of them may be eligible for extra pay related to mental health issues associated with their time working for Facebook, including depression and addiction.

This is long over due. Content ‘moderation’ is horrible and disturbing work. But all of the workers receiving compensation on this settlement are based in the US. There are many thousands elsewhere in the Philippines and other places — as viewers of The Cleaners will know. Will Facebook now compensate them? I’m not holding my breath.

Quarantine diary — Day 53


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