You Live and You Learn, Hopefully

Lines At The Top

Well, you likley won’t get COVID while hiking Mount Everest from the China side. “Beijing plans to draw a line on the summit of Mount Everest to prevent climbers from the China and Nepal sides of the world’s tallest mountain from coming into contact with each other. Generally, climbers can reach the 29,032-foot summit of Mount Everest from Nepal or the Chinese region of Tibet. But as Nepal faces a surge in COVID-19 cases, authorities over the border want to impose strict social distancing rules on the top of the world. In order to prevent them from making contact with those on the Nepal side of the mountain, a team of local guides will put a “line of separation” on the summit before climbers set off for the peak in mid-May. Vice: China Will Draw a Line on Mount Everest To Enforce Social Distancing I find this hilarious. I mean if you can’t social distance without help on Mt. Everest, we are all screwed. But, as it turns out there have been COVID outbreaks on Everest. Officials have received reports of 17 confirmed cases from hospitals in the capital Kathmandu, where a number of climbers have been sent from the base camp and higher camps to be treated. 

Blame Unemployment

Republicans have been whining for weeks about unemployment benefits. Friday’s job numbers being lower than expected add gasoline to the fire. Thus, “President Biden has ordered the Labor Department to ensure that unemployed Americans cannot draw enhanced federal jobless benefits if they turn down a suitable job offer. Republicans blamed the jobs report numbers on a provision in the America’s rescue plan that extended a $300-per-week federal supplement for unemployed Americans. They say those benefits are depressing hiring by discouraging Americans from returning to work. So, Biden stated, the Labor Department will work with states to reinstate work search requirements. Twenty-nine states have already reinstated them, and the Labor Department will “work with the remaining states, as health and safety conditions allow, to put in place appropriate work search requirements as the economy continues to rebound, vaccinations increase, and the pandemic is brought under control.”  New York Times: Biden Defends Unemployment Benefits, Provided Workers Accept Job Offers  Here is the fallacy of the Republicans argument: if a person is making more on unemployment (because of an additional $300/ week or $1200/month) than they would taking a current job. The problem is NOT the worker the problem is the job salary. That’s it. I mean how many people are we really talking about here. I do not believed it is a lot or even the majority of people on unemployment.

No one is getting rich and buying yachts with an extra $1200. It’s not happening. So let’s look to the businesses. As Biden pointed out at this same press conference, “the last Congress gave businesses over $1.4 trillion in Covid relief.” So they gave businesses a lot of money to float them and keep them operational during COVID in order to keep jobs. So why don’t we look to the companies to do their part. Republicans love to say companies/small businesses create job growth so let’s see that. Biden also said, “My expectation is that, as our economy comes back, these companies will provide fair wages and safe work environments.” He said that if they did, “they’ll find plenty of workers.” I have to agree. 

Broadband, Where?

The above map is a map of broadband. The blue areas are “US counties where less than 15 percent of households are using the internet at broadband speed, defined as 25Mbps download speed. Most large-scale assessments of American broadband access rely on notoriously inaccurate FCC data. Even as the commission tries to close the broadband gap, its maps have been misleading policymakers about how wide the gap really is. The above map drew on an anonymized dataset collected by Microsoft through its cloud services network.”

“The disparity between FCC reports and the Microsoft data are huge. In Lincoln County, Washington, an area west of Spokane with a population just a hair over 10,000, the FCC lists 100 percent broadband availability. But according to Microsoft’s data, only 5 percent of households are actually connecting at broadband speeds. Other areas stand out for the sheer scale of the problem. Nine counties in Nevada fall under the 10 percent threshold, covering more than 100,000 people and the bulk of the area of the state. Most of Alaska is a similar dead zone — understandably, given how rugged the state’s interior is — but similar gaps pop up in southwest New Mexico or central Texas.” Verge: THIS IS A MAP OF AMERICA’S BROADBAND PROBLEM President Biden has proposed $100 billion in broadband funding as part of the American Jobs Plan. That amount is more than twice what the FCC estimated would be necessary to bring broadband to 98 percent of households. However, this map shows that they are working off of faulty data. Additionally, I have little faith the federal government will actually lay fiber in the places that really need it. 

Reading is Fundamental

Facebook is doing something I actually agree with for once. They are encouraging users to read articles before they share them. This has always been a personal rule of mine. Welcome aboard Facebook! “The social media company announced on Monday morning that, starting today, it will test a new feature prompting users to actually open and read articles before sharing them on the platform. Facebook will start testing the feature on around 6 percent of its global users on Android. Twitter started testing a similar feature in June of last year and rolled it out to all its users more broadly in September.” Vox: Facebook will push you to read articles before you share them This is Facebook’s latest attempt to slow down the spread of misinformation on their sites. Hopefully, this slows down reasonable people. So, they can at least read the mess before they spread it. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.