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FAREWELL, SECRET GARDEN. HELLO, PUBLIC PARK.
Internet tech companies are sailing into choppy waters thanks to new legislation coming from the European Union. Per Wired,
On November 1, the European Union’s Digital Markets Act comes into force, starting the clock on a process expected to force Amazon, Google, and Meta to make their platforms more open and interoperable in 2023. That could bring major changes to what people can do with their devices and apps, in a new reminder that Europe has regulated tech companies much more actively than the US. “We expect the consequences to be significant,” says Gerard de Graaf, a veteran EU official who helped pass the DMA early this year. Last month, he became director of a new EU office in San Francisco, established in part to explain the law’s consequences to Big Tech companies. De Graaf says they will be forced to break open their walled gardens. “If you have an iPhone, you should be able to download apps not just from the App Store but from other app stores or from the internet,” de Graaf says, in a conference room with emerald green accents at the Irish consulate in San Francisco, where the EU’s office is initially located. The DMA requires dominant platforms to let in smaller competitors, and could also compel Meta’s WhatsApp to receive messages from competing apps like Signal or Telegram, or prevent Amazon, Apple, and Google from preferencing their own apps and services.”
It will be really interesting to see how the companies deal with this. Their “walled gardens” have been in existence for so long that it’s hard to imagine a world without them. https://bit.ly/3FBAm08
The politics of Covid-19’s origins rears its head again. A Senate report with 0 scientists at the helm doubled down on the Republican-favored narrative that the pandemic was the result of a lab accident in Wuhan. Per Science,
The Republican minority staff of a bipartisan Senate committee set up to probe the origin of SARS-CoV-2 issued an “interim report” arguing for the narrative that the virus entered humans because of a lab-related incident and not a natural jump from animals to humans. Many virologists and evolutionary biologists who have studied the origins of outbreaks dismiss the lab-leak hypothesis, but other scientists have complained that the possibility was too readily downplayed, and it has become increasingly popular among conservative media outlets and some Republican politicians. “Based on the analysis of the publicly available information, it appears reasonable to conclude that the COVID-19 pandemic was, more likely than not, the result of a research-related incident,” the minority staff concludes in its 35-page report. That conclusion stands in sharp contrast to those of other panels, including from the World Health Organization and U.S. intelligence agencies, which have deemed a zoonotic jump more likely or remained neutral given the lack of direct evidence on the origin of the virus. Senator Richard Burr (R–NC), the ranking member of the Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), wrote in a foreword to the report that the minority oversight staff spent 15 months reviewing scientific studies and interviewing experts. The goal, Burr wrote, was “to provide a clearer picture of what we know, so far, about the origins of SARS-CoV-2 so that we can continue to work together to be better prepared to respond to future public health threats.
Virologists and evolutionary biologists take exception to the report’s conclusions, claiming that many of the conclusions are the result of cherry picking facts or “honest misunderstandings” of the evidence. This debate will never go away. https://bit.ly/3h4tb64
SOMETIMES, THINGS JUST SUCK.
How many times has someone told you that if it doesn’t kill you, it only makes you stronger? Well, there might be meager evidence of this at best. Per the Associated Press,
There’s an old saying that adversity makes you stronger. Real life shows that’s not always true, but the adage highlights an evolving debate among scientists about resilience. After traumatic events and crises such as child abuse, gun violence or a pandemic, what explains why some people bounce back, while others struggle to cope? Is it nature — genes and other inherent traits? Or nurture — life experiences and social interactions? Decades of research suggest both play a role, but that neither seals a person’s fate. Although scientists use different definitions, resilience generally refers to the ability to handle severe stress.
So basically, sometimes, when things suck, they really just suck. https://bit.ly/3sLSjBl
NOT SO FAST…
Finally, with Halloween done and dusted, there are tons of pumpkins laying around waiting to be disposed of. Rather than just dumping them in the trash, there’s a more planet-friendly option. Again, from the AP,
Hold off before throwing that porch pumpkin into the trash along with Halloween candy wrappers. Those jack-o’-lanterns don’t have to end up in the local landfill. Consider composting pumpkins in the garden, donating them to community gardens, farms or even a zoo, or simply leaving them as a snack for backyard wildlife. Gardeners can add pumpkins to the compost pile after removing any remaining seeds and being sure to cut off decorative material such as glitter, paint, stickers and candle wax. Slice the pumpkin into smaller pieces, scatter and bury them into the pile. And don’t worry if the pumpkin has already started getting moldy — those microorganisms aid the composting process.
Pumpkins are a good source of nitrogen. So, yeah, think before you trash it. https://bit.ly/3SZrg02
Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.