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Cryonics, brain preservation and the weird science of cheating death – CNET

Linda Chamberlain works just down the hallway from her husband. She walks past him every day. Occasionally she'll stop by to check in on him and say hello.

The only problem is, Fred Chamberlain has been dead for eight years. Shortly after he was pronounced legally dead from prostate cancer, Fred was cryopreserved -- his body was filled with a medical-grade antifreeze, cooled to minus 196 degrees Celsius and carefully lowered into a giant vat of liquid nitrogen.

So when Linda visits Fred, she talks to him through the insulated, stainless-steel wall of a 10-foot-tall preservation chamber. And he's not alone in there. Eight people reside in that massive cylinder along with him, and more than 170 are preserved in similar chambers in the same room. All of them elected to have their bodies stored in subzero temperatures, to await a future when they could be brought back to life. Cryonically preserved in the middle of the Arizona desert.

This story is part of Hacking the Apocalypse, CNET's documentary series on the tech saving us from the end of the world.

Linda Chamberlain is cheerful as she shows me her husband's perhaps-not-final resting place. She places her hand on the cool steel and gives it a loving pat. Being in a room with 170 dead people isn't morbid to her.

"It makes me feel happy," she says. "Because I know that they have the potential to be restored to life and health. And I have the potential of being with them again."

Alcor proclaims itself a world leader in cryonics, offering customers the chance to preserve their bodies indefinitely, until they can be restored to full health and function through medical discoveries that have yet to be made. For the low price of $220,000, Alcor is selling the chance to live a second life.

It's a slim chance.

Critics say cryonics is a pipe dream, no different from age-old chimeras like the fountain of youth. Scientists say there's no way to adequately preserve a human body or brain, and that the promise of bringing a dead brain back to life is thousands of years away.

But Alcor is still selling that chance. And ever since Linda and Fred Chamberlain founded the Alcor Life Extension Foundation back in 1972, Linda has watched Alcor's membership swell with more people wanting to take that chance. More than 1,300 people have now signed up to have their bodies sent to Alcor instead of the graveyard.

And when her time is up, Linda Chamberlain plans to join them.

Hacking the Apocalypseis CNET's new documentary series digging into the science and technology that could save us from the end of the world. You can check out our episodes onPandemic,Nuclear Winter,Global Drought,Tsunamis,CryonicsandEscaping the Planetand see the full series onYouTube.

Photographs of "patients" line the walls of Alcor's offices.

From the outside, Alcor's facilities don't look like the kind of place you'd come to live forever.

When I arrived at the company's headquarters, a nondescript office block in Scottsdale, Arizona, a short drive out of Phoenix, I expected something grander. After all, this is a place that's attempting to answer the question at the heart of human existence: Can we cheat death?

I've come here to find out why someone would choose cryonics. What drives someone to reject the natural order of life and death, and embrace an end that's seen by many, scientists and lay people alike, as the stuff of science fiction?

But after a short time at Alcor, I realize the true believers here don't see cryonics as a way to cheat death. They don't even see death as the end.

"Legal death only really means that your heart and your lungs have stopped functioning without intervention," Linda Chamberlain tells me. "It doesn't mean your cells are dead, it doesn't mean even your organs are dead."

Alcor refers to the people preserved in its facilities as "patients" for that very reason -- it doesn't consider them to be dead.

In Chamberlain's view, the idea of death as an "on-off switch" is outdated. People that died 100 years ago could well have been saved by modern medical interventions that we take for granted in the 21st century. So what about 100 years from now? Alcor hopes that by pressing pause on life, its patients might be revived when medical technology has improved.

"Our best estimates are that within 50 to 100 years, we will have the medical technologies needed to restore our patients to health and function," says Chamberlain.

We're killing people who could potentially be preserved. We're just throwing them in the ground so they can be eaten by worms and bacteria.

Alcor CEO Max More

Alcor CEO Max More agrees. In his view, cryonics is about giving people who die today a second chance. And he says our current views about death and burial are robbing people of a potential future.

"We're killing people who could potentially be preserved," More says. "We're just throwing them in the ground so they can be eaten by worms and bacteria, or we're burning them up. And to me, that's kind of crazy when we could give them a chance if they want it.

"If you think about life insurance, it's actually death insurance -- it pays out on death. This really is life insurance. It's a backup plan."

An early copy of Cryonics magazine sits in Alcor's offices, showing the inside of one of its preservation chambers.

Alcor hasn't exactly mapped out how its patients will be brought back to full function and health, or what revival technologies the future will bring. Its website speaks about the possibility of molecular nanotechnology -- that is, using microscopic nano-robots to "replace old damaged chromosomes with new ones in every cell."

But that level of cellular regeneration isn't something Alcor is working on. The company is in the business of selling preservation, but it's not developing the technologies for restoration. In fact, no one currently working at Alcor is likely to be responsible for reviving patients. That responsibility will be handed on to the next generation (and potentially many more generations after that) -- scientists of some undetermined time in the future, who will have developed the technology necessary to reverse the work that Alcor is doing now. It seems like a convenient gap for cryonics: Sell the promise in the present without the burden of proving the end result.

Our goal is to have reversible suspended animation, just like in the movies. We want it to be that perfect.

Alcor founder Linda Chamberlain

Chamberlain herself admits the future is ultimately unclear and that they "don't know how powerful the revival technologies are going to be." But she does know the end result Alcor is aiming for.

"Our goal is to have reversible suspended animation, just like in the movies," she says. "We want it to be that perfect. We're not there yet, but we're always working on improving our techniques."

The science behind cryonics is unproven. The procedures are highly experimental. No human -- specifically, no human brain -- has been brought back from death or from a state of postmortem preservation. Alcor points to research in worms and the organs of small mammals that it says indicates the potential for cryonics. There are famous names associated with the movement (Alcor admits famed baseballer Ted Williams is a patient), but there aren't exactly any human success stories who've awoken from cryonic preservation to hit the motivational speaking circuit.

James Bedford, the first man to enter cryonic suspension, according to Alcor. Bedford was preserved in a "cryocapsule" in 1967 (five years before Alcor was founded), before being transferred into Alcor's facilities in 1991.

Even More isn't making any promises. He acknowledges that the company may not even exist when it comes time for its patients to wake up.

"There are no guarantees," he says. "We're not promising to bring you back on May 27th, 2082, or whatever. We don't know officially this will work. We don't know for sure that the organization [Alcor] will survive... We don't know if an asteroid will land on us. There's no guarantees. But it's a shot. It's an opportunity. And it just seems to be better than the alternative."

The way the Alcor team sees it, you have a better chance of waking up from here than you do if you're sent to the crematorium.

One of the central questions of cryonics is how you preserve a dead body if you hope to revive it.

Even if they don't know exactly when or how patients will be brought back, the team at Alcor knows one thing is vital: They need to preserve as much of the brain and body as perfectly as possible.

While they may be clinically dead when they arrive in the operating room, Alcor's "patients" are intubated and kept on ice while a mechanical thumper (shown here on a dummy) keeps blood flowing around the body, all in a bid to preserve the body as thoroughly as possible.

That life-saving mortuary practice takes place inside Alcor's operating room -- a sort of hospital-meets-morgue where the organization prepares bodies for "long-term care."

When patients come through the doors at Alcor, they've already been pronounced legally dead. Ideally, they haven't had to travel far to get here and they've had their body put on ice as soon as possible after clinical death. According to Chamberlain, that hypothermia is vital for "slowing down the dying process." I didn't think I'd hear someone say that about a dead person.

During the first stages of cryonic preservation, bodies are "perfused" with a medical-grade antifreeze, all in a bid to prevent ice crystals forming. From here, the body vitrifies, rather than freezing.

(I also didn't expect to see a dead person in the operating room. At least, that's what I thought when I saw a human dummy waiting in the ice bath by the door. One of Alcor's employees picked up the dummy's hand to wave at me and I genuinely think that moment shortened my life span by two years.)

The ice bath is the first step in the preservation process, and it's here where the patient is placed in a kind of post-death life support. Drugs are administered to slow down metabolic processes, the body is intubated to maintain oxygen levels, and a mechanical thumper pumps the heart to ensure blood keeps flowing around the body.

The team then prepares the body to be cooled down to its permanent storage temperature. The blood is replaced with cryoprotectant (think of it like medical-grade antifreeze), which is pumped through the veins, all in a bid to (surprisingly) prevent the body freezing.

Freezing might sound like the natural end goal of cryopreservation, but it's actually incredibly damaging. Our bodies are made up of about 50 to 60% water, and when this water starts to freeze, it forms ice crystals which damage the body's organs and veins.

But if that water is replaced with cryoprotectant, Alcor says it can slowly reduce temperatures so the body vitrifies -- turning into a kind of glass-like state, rather than freezing. From here, the body is placed in a giant stainless steel chamber, known as a dewar. And Alcor says a cryopreserved body can be stored in this "long-term care" for decades.

I missed something when I first walked into the operating room. At the back, behind the ice bath and medical instruments (including surgical scissors and, chillingly, unexplained saws), there's a clear box, about the size of a milk crate, with a circular metal ring clamped inside.

It's a box for human heads.

This is designed for patients who've elected to preserve their head only, removed from the body from the collarbone up. These preserved heads are referred to as "neuro patients."

This small perspex box in the Alcor operating room is used to clamp human heads in place for cryopreservation.

If putting my whole body on ice was a bridge too far, then cutting off and preserving my head is beyond anything I can fathom. But it's a choice some of Alcor's patients make. The neuro patients are stored in small, barrel-sized vats while they wait for long-term care. The moment I lifted the lid on one of these vats -- nitrogen gas billowing out, human head obscured just inches below -- will stay with me forever.

Each preservation chamber can hold four bodies (positioned with the head at the bottom, to keep the brain as cool as possible) and five "neuro patients" stacked down the center.

It's cheaper if you elect to preserve just your head. Alcor charges only $80,000 for the head, compared with $220,000 for the full body. But there are also pragmatic reasons for choosing this more selective form of cryonic preservation.

When Alcor cryopreserves a body, the main priority is to preserve the brain and cause as little damage as possible. After all, the brain is not only the center of cognitive function, but also long-term memory. Essentially everything that makes you who you are.

You might be attached to your body now (both figuratively and literally), but many people at Alcor believe that, by the time medical science has advanced enough to bring a person back to life, their full body won't be needed. Whether you're regenerating a human body from DNA found in the head or uploading a person's consciousness to a new physical body, if we reach a point where cryonic preservation can be reversed, potentially hundreds of years in the future, your 20th or 21st century body will be outdated hardware.

That's certainly a view Linda Chamberlain takes. When she goes, only her head will stay.

"There's a lot of DNA in all that tissue and material," she says of the human head. "A new body can be grown for you from your own DNA. It's just a new, beautiful body that hasn't aged and hasn't had damage from disease."

In fact, when Chamberlain thinks of her future body, she doesn't want to limit herself to the kind of human form she has now.

"I hope that I won't have a biological body, but I'll have a body made out of nanobots," she tells me. "I can be as beautiful as I want to be. I won't be old anymore."

I hope that I won't have a biological body, but I'll have a body made out of nanobots.

Alcor founder Linda Chamberlain

I tell her she's already beautiful. She laughs.

"But if you have a nanobot swarm, it can reconfigure itself any way you want!" she replies, completely serious. "If I want to go swimming in the ocean, I have to worry about sharks. But after I have my nanobots body, if I want to go swimming in the ocean, I can just reconfigure myself to be like an orca, a killer whale. And then the sharks have to look out for me."

Waking up 100 years from now as a fully reconfigurable, shark-hunting nanobot orca sounds like fun.

But this kind of future is possible only if the process of going into cryonic preservation doesn't damage your brain. The brain is a staggeringly complex organ, and storing it at subzero temperatures for decades at a time has the potential to cause serious cellular damage.

And according to some scientists, that's the main issue with cryonics. Before you even get to the issue of reanimation, they say, cryonics doesn't come close to delivering on the promise of preservation.

Surgical instruments in Alcor's operating room.

Neuroscientist Ken Hayworth is one expert who's highly skeptical. Hayworth isn't opposed to preservation -- he was a member of Alcor before he left to found the Brain Preservation Foundation with the goal of building dialogue between cryonicists and the broader scientific community. He wants brain preservation to be a respected field of scientific study. And in 2010, he laid down a challenge to help build that credibility.

"[We] put out a very concrete challenge that said, 'Hey, cryonics community, prove to us that you can at least preserve those structures of the brain that neuroscience knows are critical to long-term memory, meaning the synaptic connectivity of the brain," he says.

"The cryonics community, unfortunately, has not met the bare minimum requirements of that prize."

Hayworth says he's seen examples of animal brains preserved using techniques very similar to what cryonics companies say they use, but the samples showed a significant number of dead cells.

"I take that to mean that there was probably a lot of damage to those structures that encode memory," he says. "It was like, 'We're looking at something that doesn't look right at all.'"

We're looking at something that doesn't look right at all.

Ken Hayworth

However, Hayworth has seen a technique that successfully preserved a brain so well that it was awarded the Brain Preservation Prizeby his foundation. This prize recognized a team of researchers for preserving synapses across the whole brain of a pig. But the technique, known as "aldehyde stabilized cryopreservation," has two limitations that differ from the promise of cryonics. Firstly, it requires the brain to be filled with gluteraldehyde, a kind of embalming fluid, which means the brain can never be revived. And secondly? It's a lethal process that needs to be conducted while a mammal is living.

"It almost instantly glues together all the proteins in the brain," says Hayworth. "Now you're as dead as a rock at that point. You ain't coming back. But the advantage of that is it glues all of them in position, it doesn't destroy information."

Retaining that information is vital because, according to Hayworth, it could allow you to re-create a person's mind in the future. Forget transplanting your head onto a new body. Hayworth says the information from a preserved brain could potentially be scanned and uploaded into another space, such as a computer, allowing you to live on as a simulation.

You might not be a walking, talking human like you once were. But, in Hayworth's view, that's not the only way to live again.

"I think there's plenty of reason to suspect that future technologies will be able to bring somebody back -- future technologies like brain scanning, and mind uploading and brain simulation."

Being preserved long enough (and well enough) that you can live on as a simulation may be one of the end goals that cryonicists hope to achieve.

But there are plenty of critics who say we won't reach that point anytime soon. They say there's no way to know whether cryonics adequately preserves the brain, because we don't fully understand how the mind works, let alone how to physically preserve its complexity.

Ken Miller is a professor of neuroscience and co-director of the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience at Columbia University in New York. He's spent his life trying to understand the complexity of the human brain.

"Some people say [the brain] is the most complicated thing in the universe," says Miller.

"The most basic answer to how the brain works is, we don't know. We know how a lot of pieces work ... but we're very far from understanding the system."

It's at least thousands of years before we would know and really understand how the brain works.

Ken Miller

According to Miller, while we know a lot about parts of the brain -- how the neurons function, how electrical signals travel to the brain -- the complete picture is still a mystery.

"In my opinion, it's at least thousands of years before we would know and really understand how the brain works to the point where you could take all the pieces ... and put it back together and make a mind out of it," says Miller.

"It's just the complexity. Levels and levels and levels and levels -- it's beyond the imagination."

And what if we reach that point? What if, a thousand years from now, science was capable of restoring my cryonically preserved brain and uploading it to some kind of simulator -- would I still be me?

Sitting in his office, I put the question to Miller. And in the kind of meta way that I've realized is normal when speaking to a professor of theoretical neuroscience, I see the cogs of his mind working. His brain, thinking about another brain, living on as a simulated brain. My brain is melting.

"I think so, but it's a funny question," he says. "Because of course, if it was all information that you got up into a computer... making something feel like Claire, we could have a million of them on a million different machines. And each of them would feel like Claire.

"But immediately, just like twins -- immediately, identical twins start having divergent experiences and becoming different people. And so all the different Claires would immediately start having different experiences and becoming different Claires."

Back in Arizona, with the vision of a million computerized versions of myself enslaving the human race far from my mind, the promise of cryonics still feels like a dream.

I'm walking through the long-term care room as waterfalls of fog cascade from the cryonic chambers. These dewars need to be regularly refilled with liquid nitrogen to make sure patients stay at the perfect temperature, and today's the day they're getting topped up.

As I slowly step through the fog, stainless steel chambers loom large around me. Visibility drops, so I can barely see my outstretched hand in front of my face. For just the tiniest moment, as my feet disappear beneath me and I'm surrounded by reflections on reflections of white vapor, I lose my bearings. I feel like I'm having an out-of-body experience.

Walking through Alcor's long-term preservation room is a surreal experience.

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Cryonics, brain preservation and the weird science of cheating death - CNET

Editorial: Getting historical on YouTube – News – The Review – The-review

For readers looking for an educational and fun way to beat both the heat and the coronavirus blues this summer, the Alliance Historical Society may just have an answer.

The society has launched "Marking Time in Alliance," a series of videos on its YouTube channel, called Alliance History. The videos are the brainchild of Karen and Jim Perone, who long have been affiliated with the group.

Karen, a past president and current board member of the historical society, and Jim, a former board member, told The Review they have been uploading entries in the series for the past six months. They were inspired by similar videos in other communities.

Now, thanks to their industriousness, residents can learn of the Stark County connection to the Sultana tragedy, when a steamboat exploded near Memphis in 1865. Other videos include lively, entertaining lessons on the Main Street Caboose, the intriguingly named Goat Hill, and the Lexington Quaker Cemetery.

Having watched several, we can attest that they make viewers see familiar landmarks with fresh eyes and an increased awareness of the role they have played in local history.

We look forward to future installments, especially if one includes an abbreviated history of Alliances most visible landmark, Glamorgan Castle, and the citys connection to the scarlet carnation. And, while were in a requesting frame of mind, weve always wanted to know more about the infamous olive poisoning of 1919.

With no Greater Alliance Carnation Festival this summer or its informational tours at various historical sites, these videos are the best way to increase our knowledge of local history.

Applause all around to the Perones for their willingness to research, write and record these video nuggets and extend the Alliance Historical Societys reach online.

Color us ready for coronavirus relief

Gov. Mike DeWines release of a color-coded system for virus threats provides necessary clarity to Ohioans during the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the system, counties are assigned the color yellow if they are at level one (active exposure and spread), orange for level two (increased exposure and spread), red for level three (very high exposure and spread) or purple for level four (severe exposure and spread).

Stark and Mahoning counties, and thus much of The Reviews readership, are both orange at the time of this writing. This means, according to the state, that residents should "exercise [a] high degree of caution."

DeWine has issued orders for mandatory face coverings in public for counties designated red or above. (No county is yet purple, although Franklin County is close.)

Readers are reminded that, in the considered medical opinions of many experts, masks are one of the best ways to limit the spread of the virus. They may not be mandated in public for Alliance residents, but this doesnt mean they arent highly recommended.

Based solely on anecdotal evidence, recent days have seen an uptick in the number of local folks who are wearing masks in public. This is terrific, as the more people who do so, the better the chances of putting this virus in our rearview mirrors.

And despite strong differences of opinion about coronavirus, one thing everybody can agree on is that we cant put it behind us soon enough.

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Editorial: Getting historical on YouTube - News - The Review - The-review

This Brand Is Turning Art Exhibition Posters into Graphic Tees – Gear Patrol

Graphic tees are an art form. The medium is ink and the canvas is cotton jersey, screen printed and heat pressed (among other methods) with a message to say. Whether that message is profound or not, is another question.

It could be a tee to represent your alma mater or your local pizza joint, to commemorate an event, or to support a movement like Black Lives Matter. For many, it's a way to show your allegiance (or sense of irony) to your favorite band.

Band tees have been pumped out for every album release, world tour and local show, but what about other artists? What about pivotal art exhibitions? That's what the team behind Flat File had in mind when creating the brand.

Courtesy Flat File

The side project of the denim brand 3sixteen's Andrew Chen and Wesley Scott, and graphic designer Jordan Butcher, Flat File launched this year with the approach of making something like a concert tee, but for artists. The team released their first capsule in late April and featured exhibitions of Isamu Noguchi, Sol Lewitt, Ellsworth Kelly and Alexander Calder. The second release drops today and includes Constantin Brancusi, Donald Judd, Henri Matisse and Jackson Pollock.

To learn more, we talked with Wesley Scott about the project.

Learn More: Here

What is Flat File? Whats the concept?

We think of Flat File as a bootleg art merch project. On multiple occasions, Andrew and I left museum exhibitions or gallery shows wishing there was some sort of merch we could buy that was well-designed. I think that harkens back to buying merch at a concert. There's that feeling of leaving a show with something to memorialize the experience that is so impactful.

For Flat File, were making merch for shows we never had the chance to see. Its our way of memorializing some of these major events in the art worlds history. For example, we have a Donald Judd t-shirt this drop from his first solo sculpture show. That show marked huge shift in his career and for us, as Judd fans, its exciting to be able share that moment through a t-shirt. All of us at Flat File come from graphic tee backgrounds in some form so t-shirts are the vehicle to share our interests. Our graphic designer, Jordan Butcher, has an incredible ability to take exhibit or show posters and flyers and distill them down to something that feels reminiscent of the bootleg tees we love without losing the artists ethos.

Courtesy Flat File

How do you select the artists and posters for each drop? Do you think of the artist first? Do you come across an art exhibit poster first?

Honestly, it all starts with a good poster. We have a Slack channel and Pinterest board where we are constantly uploading photos and screen grabs of great exhibition posters. For each release we might have 25 posters we are discussing until we eventually land on four.

Sometimes, though, it does start with the artist. Like this Brancusi tee for example. We knew we wanted to do a Brancusi tee and found a show that resonated with us. Given how long ago he was showing, its much harder to find information on his shows than others we do so that took more digging to pull all the elements from this show in place rather than just pulling from one poster.

Courtesy Flat File

What else is coming up for the future? Can we expect to see more lesser-known niche artists, or even up-and-coming contemporary artists?

Were definitely going to be releasing some niche artist pieces in the future. Initially, we wanted to share some heavy-hitters that we love, but with each additional release there will be more niche artists or movements appearing. The three of us have a wide variety of interests, so Im excited for some surprise that will come in future releases.

Our dream one day is to get the opportunity to design and produce promotional merchandise for museums or galleries in the same vein as what weve been doing.

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This Brand Is Turning Art Exhibition Posters into Graphic Tees - Gear Patrol

H.266 is coming and your video files will be half the size they are with H.265/HEVC – DIYphotography

Video compression tech doesnt seem to change all that often, but when it does it sure takes some big leaps. H.264/Advanced Video Coding (AVC) was first introduced back in 2003. Its still pretty prevalent today, despite H.265/High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) being released a decade later in 2013. Now, the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute has done it again with H.266/Versatile Video Coding (VVC), cutting the files sizes down to a quarter of H.264.

The lack of h.265 adoption has largely been due to patent issues but it brought massive benefits over its predecessor, including higher quality footage with a big reduction in filesize. H.265 also has some pretty demanding hardware needs and its taken a while for some companies to catch up. Premiere Pro, for example, only really started to get GPU acceleration for H.265.

But H.265 allowed you to get a similar level of quality at half the file size of H.264. The new Versatile Video Coding engine, also known as H.266 looks set to cut those file sizes in half essentially offering you the same level of quality as H.264 but at only a quarter of the file size.

According to The Verge, Fraunhofer says that VCC could be the path forward for the industry. It will allow companies to completely skip H.264 and H.265 without having to deal with patents, royalties and licensing headaches.

Through a reduction of data requirements, H.266/VVC makes video transmission in mobile networks (where data capacity is limited) more efficient. For instance, the previous standard H.265/HEVC requires 10 gigabytes of data to transmit a 90-min UHD video.

With this new technology, only 5 gigabytes of data are required to achieve the same quality. Because H.266/VVC was developed with ultra-high-resolution video content in mind, the new standard is particularly beneficial when streaming 4K or 8K videos on a flat screen TV. Furthermore, H.266/VVC is ideal for all types of moving images: from high-resolution 360 video panoramas to screen sharing contents.

Primarily, the benefit mentioned is on the bandwidth requirements for mobile networks. But it has further implications. I know people who still dont even upload to YouTube in 4K because of the file sizes required (4x larger than 1080p if you want the same level of quality). The new H.266 codec would bring those 4K videos down to the same file sizes as their current 1080p videos, making it much easier to deal with those higher resolution upload times, especially on slower connections.

And with the push to 8K (which would be 16x larger files than 1080p at the same codec and relative bitrate) very few will be uploading in that resolution, even if theyre able to shoot it, due to the massive data requirements. And phones are shooting 8K now, too, even if its pretty terrible. So H.266 would allow you to save some of that precious storage space especially as so many Android device manufacturers seem to be ditching microSD card slots now.

Fraunhofer says that the Media Coding Industry Forum (which includes companies such as Apple, Canon, Intel and Sony) is working towards chip designs that can support H.266 at the hardware level. Itll probably be at least a couple of years before we see any serious implementations but it sounds very promising for the future of video delivery.

[via The Verge]

Link:

H.266 is coming and your video files will be half the size they are with H.265/HEVC - DIYphotography

The rise of Thirst Trap culture among Gen Z Indian women – ETtech.com

This practice of picture-posting is referred to as sharing thirst traps. The Cambridge dictionary defines thirst trap as a statement by or photograph of someone on social media intended to attract attention, or to make people who see it sexually interested in them.

Thirst-trapping is a pronounced culture in the US, popularised by influencers like Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner over the last couple of years. At least 150-200 thirst trap tweets are posted every hour on Twitter on a daily basis and more than half of these are from the US, as per analytics portal Hashtagify. The practice is age-agnostic, with celebrities in their 60s, like Madonna, making headlines for posting thirst traps on Instagram earlier this week.

Thirst trap culture has gained traction in India recently. Google Trends India suggests the interest for the term has peaked thrice in the last six months, indicating its growing influence among Indian social media users. The last spike was seen in May 2020.

These Gen Z women are part of over 470 million people in the country as per Bloomberg analysis born roughly between the year 1996 and 2010. They were born alongside the birth of the internet. Growing up, theyve had their accounts on every social media platform from Facebook to Instagram. And their internet habits are very different from their predecessors, the millennials.

According to Facebooks advertising vertical, Facebook.com/Ads, over 4 million women Instagrammers from India in the 18-24 age group show interest in human sexuality as a topic, as opposed to 2.7 million in the 25-31 cohort.

Theyre fluid about their identity online, notes Ishtaarth Dalmia, an anthropologist and AVP at digital agency Dentsu Webchutney. Most of these womens social media bios don't reflect their names but have emoticons or random words instead. They are quick to open and shut social accounts. They have private Instagram accounts dedicated to posting thirst traps that have several thousand in followers.

Seeking Validation

Thirst trapping is also a shortcut to getting validation, an important marker of identity formation for Gen Z.

This generation feels so overwhelmed by its inability to control everything thats going on in the world that fetching likes and shares brings in a sense of control to them. Its something they can rely on, says Dalmia.

Influencers like the Kardashians glorify this idea as well. They are indirectly sending this message that posting provocative content can make you the next youngest millionaire, says Sascha Kirpalani, a Mumbai-based psychologist.

However, the motivation behind posting thirst traps is a lot deeper, she quickly adds. It is a means to self-expression for a lot of women in this generation, a form of feminism, of reclaiming power over their own body.

To some, like Pooja Mishra from Mumbai, it implies breaking away from the repression theyve seen the previous generations of women go through.

I dont mind sharing thirst traps. Its a part of me, not my entire personality. That's my face and body I walk around with 24x7. I shouldn't have to hide it in the online world because of the threat of someone being creepy, says the Gen Z chartered accountant.

Even its predecessors note that this cohort is far more vocal about its sexuality and love for erotica, both in words and visuals, than they are. What you see them post online is actually a manifestation of what we used to write in our diaries, says Shreemi Verma, a Mumbai-based content creator in her late 20s.

A lot of these women post thirst pictures via their alt-accounts (alternate accounts). Perhaps thats why they find it to be a safer space as it doesnt come with judgement from peers or family, Verma reckons.

Changing Perceptions

Gen Z women are now having an outsized influence on the way women, in general, express their sexuality online.

Before Gen Z Twitter became popular, hardly anyone spoke of erotica. People labelled it as explicit content, notes Srishti Millicent, a digital marketer based in Chandigarh.

Now these 18-23-year-olds put thirst traps and they go viral, she adds.

By the way, Millicent is only 25. But she too feels it's the "younger" girls who make her feel more comfortable about posting thirst traps online now.

On Twitter, thirst traps start with one person from this Gen Z community tweeting and urging others to post their pictures, notes Kejal Shah, a 27-year-old HR professional from Mumbai. Thats how it starts trending. You dont feel awkward doing it because everyone else is getting on board as well.

Shah herself has posted an occasional thirst trap on her social media accounts in recent times.

Pune-based Ira, a 24-year-old radio jockey, sees this trend as part of an attempt where Women make online spaces safer for women.

Ira shares a story of a fellow Gen Z woman who was recently harassed by a man about one of her pictures online. She traced him to his Facebook account which led her to the guys mothers profile. She then confronted him with screenshots of his inappropriate messages, asking if she should show his mother what her son is up to. The guy was profusely apologetic.

Across social media platforms, these women have now created a sorority of their own.

Every Gen Z woman in India, who is comfortable posting thirst traps online, is likely to follow several others like her. Inside this tiny community, people hype each other as enthusiastically as they cancel a member who isnt genuine, says Ira.

They operate under pseudonymous accounts, but a look at the list of people they follow gives an insight into their minds. It has artists, poets, activists, fake news and misinformation fighters. Satire and irony are dominating themes of their content.

For advertisers targetting Gen Z, this segment is still an enigma theyre trying to decrypt, notes Dentsu Webchutney anthropologist Dalmia.

Some of them also post pictures of celebrities they are thirsting for. Others highlight the problematic nature of 365 Days, a Polish erotica movie streaming on Netflix that has been trending on the platform in India for weeks now arguing that it glorifies molestation and abduction.

Many have developed a thick skin when it comes to receiving unwarranted comments from men on their posts. However, some question if these lot are indeed being anti-feminist since they eventually end up catering to a male fantasy of women.

Many thirst trappers end up deleting their pictures after uploading them, fearing negative attention. Some of them also worry they may attach their self-esteem to the number of likes they get on these pictures for good.

They say thirst traps are part of the larger realm of body-positivity content. But they also know that while every thirst trap is body-positive, not all body-positive posts are thirst traps.

On social media, however, all are happily welcome to co-exist.

(Illustration and graphics by Rahul Awasthi)

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The rise of Thirst Trap culture among Gen Z Indian women - ETtech.com

With No End in Sight to the Coronavirus, Some Teachers Are Retiring Rather Than Going Back to School – TIME

When Christina Curfman thought about whether she could return to her second-grade classroom in the fall, she struggled to imagine the logistics. How would she make sure her 8-year-old students kept their face masks on all day? How would they do hands-on science experiments that required working in pairs? How would she keep six feet of distance between children accustomed to sharing desks and huddling together on one rug to read books?

The only way to keep kids six feet apart is to have four or five kids, says Curfman, a teacher at Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg, Virginia, who typically has 22 students in a class. Her district shut schools on March 12, and at least 55 staff members have since tested positive for the coronavirus. Classrooms in general are pretty tight, she says. And then how do you teach a reading group, how do you teach someone one-on-one from six feet apart? You cant.

So Curfmanwho has an autoimmune disease that makes her more vulnerable to COVID-19consulted her doctor, weighed the risks of returning to school and decided to retire early after 28 years of teaching. At 55, shes eligible for partial retirement benefits and will take home less pay than if she had worked for a few more years, but the decision gave her peace of mind.

Its either that or risk your health, she says. Its kind of a no-brainer.

Recent surveys suggest shes not alone. Faced with the risks of an uncertain back-to-school plan, some teachers, who spent the last few months teaching over computers and struggling to reach students who couldnt access online lessons, are choosing not to return in the fall. The rising number of coronavirus cases in many parts of the country, and recent evidence that suggests the virus can spread indoors via tiny respiratory droplets lingering in the air, have fueled teachers safety concerns, even as President Trump demands that schools fully reopen and threatens to cut federal funding from those that dont. (Trump has said that older teachers, who are more vulnerable to the virus, could sit it out for a little while, unless we come up with the vaccine sooner.)

About 20% of teachers said they arent likely to return to teaching if schools reopen in the fall, according to a USA Today/Ipsos poll conducted in late May. EdWeek Research Center surveys conducted around the same time found that more than 10% of teachers are more likely to leave the profession now than they were before the pandemic, and 65% of educators said they want school buildings to remain closed to slow the spread of the virus.

But the pressure to reopen schools is strong. Recent studies show that students have likely suffered significant learning loss during this period of remote schooling, worsening the achievement gap between affluent and low-income students. Meanwhile, research shows that children are much less likely to suffer the most severe health effects of the virus. The American Academy of Pediatrics released guidance on June 25, recommending that all back-to-school policies aim to have students physically present in school, citing the importance of in-person learning and raising concerns about social isolation, abuse and food insecurity for children forced to remain at home. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the countrys top infectious disease expert, agrees. I feel very strongly we need to do whatever we can to get the children back to school, he said during testimony before the Senate on June 30.

But the health risks are greater for some educators and other school employees, including bus drivers and custodians, than they are for children. Adults over age 65 account for the vast majority of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. And 18% of public and private school teachers and 27% of principals are 55 or older, according to federal data. Thats why researchers at the American Enterprise Institute warned of a school personnel crisis, recommending in May that school districts provide early retirement incentives or create a virtual teaching corps for those who feel safer working remotely.

I still have not seen any state really address this in their reopening plans. Theres passing references to schools needing to do something for their vulnerable population, but you just dont see the activity that would match the personnel challenge that schools are going to face, says John Bailey, an American Enterprise Institute visiting fellow, who wrote the May report. We shouldnt be putting teachers in a situation where they have to decide between their financial security and their health security.

In Connecticutwhere a union survey found that 43% of teachers think theyre at higher risk for severe illness if they contract COVID-19 because of their age or an underlying medical conditionAndrea Cohen, who is over 65, decided to retire as an elementary school social worker. The decision was driven by concerns she could bring the virus home to her 95-year-old mother and to her grandchild, who is due to be born in September. I felt like this was the safest thing to do, she says.

I trust that theyre going to try to come up with some good system, but I just didnt know what the system was going to be, and I couldnt visualize how it was going to work for me in my school office, Cohen says. All I could see was me in my tiny little office, with six kids, and how it wouldnt be safe for anybody.

In Michiganwhere 30% of teachers told the Michigan Education Association they were considering leaving teaching or retiring earlier than planned because of the pandemicTheresa Mills, 58, decided to retire after an anxiety-ridden spring of teaching literature remotely and trying to build relationships with students online. The whole idea of being remote and disconnected was equally daunting as the fear of not being safe, she says about the upcoming school year.

Many school districts are considering hybrid plans that involve students rotating between in-person classes and remote learning on different days of the week. But Education Secretary Betsy DeVos criticized those plans during a call with governors on Tuesday, urging schools to be fully operational with in-person instruction five days a week, the Associated Press reported.

Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia, the district where Curfman taught, is planning for students to attend in-person classes two days a week and learn at home the rest of the time, but it is also allowing parents to opt for full-time remote learning.

Curfman says about five families have already asked her to privately tutor her former students and their siblings at home on distance-learning days. Its one example of the nontraditional approaches to schooling caused by the pandemic. As long as she can do so safely, Curfman is considering it.

Theres no evidence that teachers are retiring en masse. In the middle of an economic crisis that has left millions unemployed, including public school employees, many teachers arent looking to flee the profession, despite their concerns about this fall.

I kind of dont come from a family that retires, says Vicki Baker, a 64-year-old math teacher at the Philadelphia High School for Girls, but she wants to feel safe when she returns to her classroom. I feel like we have one time to get this right because theres so many things at risk, she says. If somebody gets sick because theyre at school, the students bring it home to their families. I bring it home to mine.

Rachel Bardes holds a sign in front of the Orange County Public Schools headquarters in Orlando, Fla., on July 7, 2020, as teachers protest a mandate that all public schools open in August despite the spike in coronavirus cases in Florida.

Joe BurbankOrlando Sentinel/AP

College professors have raised similar concerns. Hundreds of Georgia Tech faculty members called for the continuation of remote learning this fall, arguing in an open letter that no faculty, staff, or student should be coerced into risking their health and the health of their families by working and/or learning on campus when there is a remote/online equivalent. Professors at the University of Notre Dame asked that they be allowed to decide individually whether to teach in-person or online.

Meanwhile, the surge in coronavirus cases from Florida to Texas to Arizona has added urgency to the need for safe back-to-school plans.

Before the pandemic, Caren Gonzalez, a chemistry teacher at Tuloso-Midway High School in Corpus Christi, Texas, was planning to retire next year, having promised the Class of 2021 that she would be there to teach them AP Chemistry. During the last few months, she shifted her lesson plans online, uploading videos of herself writing out chemical equations and offering students one-on-one help over Zoom, sometimes meeting as late as 10:30 p.m. to accommodate their schedules. These are not normal times, she told them. You dont need to apologize.

But Gonzalez, who will turn 60 in July, questioned whether it would be safe to return to school before theres a coronavirus vaccine, and she decided to retire now. Its just the uncertainty, she says. Nobody knows quite whats going to happen.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that schools space desks six feet apart; seat only one child per row on school buses; discourage students from sharing toys, books or sports equipment; close communal spaces, such as cafeterias and playgrounds; and create staggered drop-off and pick-up schedules to limit contact between large groups of students and parents. On Wednesday, Trump said he disagreed with the CDCs very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools. While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things.

Guidance released Tuesday by the Texas Education Agency requires schools to hold daily in-person instruction, but allows parents to opt for remote learning instead. The guidelines say schools should attempt to have hand sanitizer or hand washing stations at every entrance and in every classroom, should keep windows open to increase airflow when possible and should consider spacing desks six feet apart.

Gonzalez worries that such guidance will be difficult to implement on the ground and that students or teachers will suffer the consequences.

Six feet apart becomes three feet apart, becomes Dont worry about it at lunchtime in the lunch room, so it just kind of degrades, Gonzalez says. And its not because the districts are trying to cheat teachers or their students or anything. Theyre just trying to do what theyre told with the resources that they have.

Without a boost in state or federal funding, many school districts might not have the resources they need. An analysis by the American Federation of Teachers estimated that the average school will need an extra $1.2 million, or $2,300 per student, to reopen safely. An analysis by the School Superintendents Association estimated it would cost less, but still nearly $2 million for the average school district to buy enough hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and masks and to hire more custodial staff and nurses or aides to check temperatures regularly.

I dont think anybody is going back, thinking, This is fine, everythings normal,' Gonzalez says. I think everybodys got a little bit of apprehension if theyve been paying attention.

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Write to Katie Reilly at Katie.Reilly@time.com.

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With No End in Sight to the Coronavirus, Some Teachers Are Retiring Rather Than Going Back to School - TIME

ISI admission test 2020 postponed again – Times of India

NEW DELHI: Indian Statistical Institute admission test 2020 has been postponed again. The ISI admission test 2020 which was earlier scheduled to conduct on August 2, has now been postponed. The rescheduled date for the exam will be released later.An official notice issued in this regard available on the official website says that "The ISI Admission Test 2020, which had earlier been rescheduled to August 02, 2020, is postponed. In view of the uncertainty prevailing on account of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is not possible to declare a firm date for the Test at this time, but it is not expected to be held before the second week of September 2020. Announcement of the exact date will be made after proper assessment of the situation, bearing in mind the well-being and safety of the candidates, and ensuring that they are able to appear for the Test without any risk or hardship. Candidates will be duly notified of the new date for the Admission Test well in advance."Once the exam date is announced, the registered candidates will be given an option to change their exam centre preferences and uploading pending documents such as results of qualifying exams (if appeared in 2020). The notice further reads that As soon as the date is announced, all registered candidates will be provided a small window for making changes in their centre preferences and uploading pending documents like results of qualifying examination (if appeared in 2020), and those related to reservation category (OBC- NCL/SC/ST/PwD), GATE and INMO, by logging into their accounts on the online Application portal.

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ISI admission test 2020 postponed again - Times of India

Moyra Davey and Kate Zambreno on Writing As If You Were Dead – frieze.com

Moyra Davey:Drifts [2020] is your most voluptuous and sensuous work to date, even though much of the novel is about struggle and feeling at a miserable impasse with the book you are writing. You manage to both write the problem and, simultaneously, provide the solution. You talk about block, but the writing feels like its opposite: flow. You invoke the [new] texture of boredom, the energy of the internet, its distracted nature and wonder how to invest the writing with these particular drives, how to replicate the mind wandering. You name the affect you crave for your novel and, immediately, the writing serves it up. You have found the perfect form: a novel made up of fragments, using the note-taking practice you find so vital.

I know from the conversations between you and your friends in Drifts that, like me, you prize your relationships with writer-friends, the (usually women) interlocutors who prod us, open doors and offer sympathetic guidance, often with lightning speed. Try to be with flowers, the poet Bhanu Kapil says to you in Drifts; later, in an exchange with the writer Sofia Samatar, you talk about empty[ing] a text in order to fill it. This speaks to a particular difficulty Im having with a shapeless, bloated text, about which Ive come to feel phobic. I wondered if you could expand on that particular point: the emptying out that might lead to structure.

Kate Zambreno:Theres something monstrous to the shapeless. I have a fear of it as well. I like to think of writers block, the dread of it, as resulting from too much material too many notebooks filled up. For the period I dramatize in Drifts, it was also about the desire for my work to feel private and ongoing rather than being instantly published and commodified to be read only by my correspondents, my addressees, entirely women and non-binary writers.

In the book, one of the characters, Anna, says to the narrator that the notes are the work. I tend to gravitate towards writing that is about process yours, Kapils, Samatars, Herv Guiberts and W.G. Sebalds. I dont think about structure, per se, or story, but I am interested in narrative and form and repetition. Theres such an organic flow to the form of your books Les Goddesses/Hemlock Forest [2017] and Burn the Diaries [2014] the titles, the places, the sense of travelling through that every writer who reads them begins to mimic it. These books read like they were written in the time they were conceived and are about time. When my writing feels shapeless and bloated, like it does now, malingering for years around the study of Guibert I have been working on, which was supposed to be a short text, I realize that writing is time, and must take the time it needs.

Ive always been drawn to the suspense in Thomas Bernhard, Sophie Calle, Guibert and Sebald. Their works are note-like and documentary, but also read like detective stories. Theres an atmospheric moodiness or tension, also something thats withheld from us throughout. In The Compassion Protocol [1995], Guiberts narrator says Im paraphrasing here that he most feels like hes writing fiction when hes writing in a diary. Theres a noir or speculative quality to Drifts the sense of a coded reality that the narrator is trying to figure out.

MD:The last line of Drifts mentions beauty not knowing what beauty is, but that it adheres to many things. I wondered how you would end this book, as it builds towards an almost unbearable tension: your fear of not being able to finish it, mounting material anxieties, your pregnant body about to explode. The pressure seems almost uncontainable. And then there is a pause, a muting and you re-emerge using the beautiful device of simply noting a date, 7 December, to mark the event of your daughters birth. It is the opposite of Maggie Nelsons choice to narrate the minutiae of giving birth in The Argonauts [2015], but your laconic version is extraordinary in its own way, communicating something momentous with a rare economy of means. It shifts from the compulsive, yet no less compelling, uploading of life that characterizes most of the book. Drifts gives the fantastic impression of living and writing life simultaneously, and of doing it without shame, or perhaps doing it in such a way that shame becomes beautiful.

KZ:Originally, the ending included more of the duration and exhaustion of my labour; I was in prodromal labour for almost a month. I had already written about this fugue state in Appendix Project [2019], and I always imagined Id pick it up again in Ghosts, the as-yet-unwritten novel thats supposed to be its sequel. Vertigo the second half of Drifts is elliptical and fragmentary; less an exhaustive recitation of the facts of a life and more about the claustrophobic intimacy of it. It was important to me that the book didnt show a journey of motherhood; I didnt want a baby to solve the main protagonists existential crisis, which is a crisis of the book she is trying to write. It was Samatar who told me that too much of the baby even the joy of her overdetermined the book. In a way, it goes against what some readers might want. Also, I am resistant to the ways a birth story is often told as a coherent narrative. Trauma is more fragmented, remembered later, in glimpses.

MD:The few details you give us wholly convey this bewildered state, but you make the experience completely your own. Your tender, yet slightly detached, observations of the baby and the hilarious depiction of the postpartum, scatological scene of retention/expulsion are consistent with all the earlier, non-maternal writing in Drifts. Ive read quite a bit of the literature of motherhood and your voice is like no other Ive encountered.

KZ:I want to hear more about writing and shame, its relationship to beauty, as its something I think about a lot. I wonder if its why we are both so drawn to Guibert, Kapil and David Wojnarowicz. Theres this moment at the end of Drifts where I cite you, trying to reference a work of yours, Dr. Y., Dr. Y. [2014], in which you are naked and pregnant in bed with your dog. A line from Anne Sextons Words for Dr. Y. [1978] frames the central image: Why else keep a journal, if not to examine your own filth? So much of your work, both the videos and the writing, engages with the diary or notebook the intimate space of the domestic. But theres also an intriguing opacity in your work that I identify with, in tension, perhaps, with this beautiful transparency of the daily: the refusal to go back to trauma or childhood, that space of memoir you refer to as the wet in Les Goddesses/Hemlock Forest.

MD:Shame is only ugly when its hidden. It can be breathtakingly beautiful when a writer puts it out there without fanfare. Im quite preoccupied with shame, so I home in on authors whove found ways to write it. Thats what good literature does: in the right hands, shame doesnt even exist because it becomes something else. I think it was Nadine Gordimer who said: Write as if you were dead. This is something I try to do, but I am not there yet. The artwork with my dog and me in bed is surrounded by little photos of her shitting. I thought the curve of her arched back mimicked my pregnant belly; I was no doubt projecting onto her defecation a wish to empty myself out. The unofficial title for that piece was Ante-Partum Document. I showed it to my gallerist at the time, Colin de Land, and he recoiled from it, compared it to the worst of feminist art. I dont hold any of this against him, but I was ashamed and put the piece away. I have Gregg Bordowitz to thank for encouraging me to revisit it nearly 20 years later and remake it using the Sexton quote. I was reading Sexton for another project, the video Notes on Blue [2015], and came across that line in Words for Dr. Y., which is dedicated to her analyst. Entirely coincidentally, Dr. Y. was the name I gave my shrink in the video Fifty Minutes [2006], so I titled the new piece Dr. Y., Dr. Y.

KZ:So much of your art seems to be about The Problem of Reading, to quote the title of a 2003 work of yours.

MD:There are many problems of reading. There is the research problem trying to put your hand on the right thing, and often not knowing what that is. I met a graduate student in Toronto, named Kate Whiteway, who used the expression: Being in the Eros of research. My oldest friend, the writer and translator Alison Strayer, spoke of that zone of reading as a state of bliss, when theres never a question, where one thing leads to another. But, for me, there is also the problem of being over-identified with reading, and so I am trying to change it up. In my latest work-in-progress, I originally decided there would be no citations, but then I felt utterly compelled to write about Hilton Als, Carson McCullers and Christa Wolf. I dont know that Ill ever write something that is not dependent on communion and connection.

KZ:I also feel Im often over-identified with reading. It seems people sometimes read my work to get a bibliography out of it. Which is perverse because I frequently go through periods of extreme reading allergy. So much of Drifts involves searching for books to read but finding everything too porous. Its a relief when I am reading ecstatically, when I have the time and space. Especially when Im pregnant Im again in my second trimester I cant read much. I spend a lot of time looking and thinking and feeling, and then eating and sleeping. I become like my dog. Which reminds me of that moment in Burn the Diaries, where you describe Eileen Myless passage about her dog, Rosie, shitting and you feeling a kinship looking at your own dog, Bella. I felt such an uncanny affinity reading that passage, because so much of my notetaking was observing dailiness. Im inspired by the way your mind makes connections over texts. Much of Drifts came from walking around my neighbourhood and the city, desiring to take series of photographs, whether of my dog on the porch or the bark of the trees or the feral cats or Halloween decorations. Throughout, I was thinking about images, like the 16th-century prints of Albrecht Drer, Peter Hujars photographs of animals [1960s80s], Sarah Charlesworths Stills [1980]. The book includes not only some of my amateur photographs but also collages and diptychs. I admire how you use and philosophize photography, including your own, in your writing. Was your writing practice always concurrent with your image-making practice?

MD:For a long time, I only made photographs, and dabbled in the moving image. I didnt really start to write until after editing Mother Reader [2001], at which point I wanted to take a break from photography and focus on writing and video. My most recent photographs are black and white images of chickens, horses and dogs taken with my late-1960s Hasselblad. The series was spawned partly by a recent film project and partly by a desire to actively channel Hujars animal portraits. That was a humbling learning experience. Its uncanny how we have overlapping spheres of influence and projective desire for certain artists and writers, even down to the title of your forthcoming book on Guibert, To Write as if Already Dead. I love hearing that the impulse to write Drifts was so strongly linked to your photographic drive. Maybe that is the answer to my bloated, stalled text: to reconnect again with images, as filtered through writing.

This article first appeared in frieze issue 212.

Main image: Moyra Davey, Jane (detail), 1984, gelatin silver print, 5141cm. Courtesy: the artist, greengrassi, London, and Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne/New York

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Moyra Davey and Kate Zambreno on Writing As If You Were Dead - frieze.com

What Makes A YouTube Video Hit The Trending Tab? This Data Scientist Broke Down Every Single Video That Trended In 2019. – Tubefilter

Ah, the Trending tab. YouTubes showcase of videos that a wide range of viewers would find interesting. Like many other facets of the platforms content recommendation algorithm, the Trending tab has been a frequent target of suspicion from creators who want to know more about its inner workingsnotably how and why it surfaces some seemingly popular videos, but not others.

Well likely never get a true peek under the hood from YouTube itself. But thanks to data scientist Ammar Alyousfi, we now have a massive amount of data about every single video that hit the tab in 2019, as well as corresponding conclusions about what qualities these videos tend to share.

To compile his report, Alyousfi ran an automated script that scraped data from YouTubes Trending tab every day throughout the year. According to YouTube, Trending isnt personalized and displays the same list of trending videos in each country to all users so he didnt have to account for the possibility that different videos might show up for users in different regions.

Alyousfi found that over the course of 2019, YouTubes Trending tab displayed 11,177 unique videos. If that sounds smaller than expected, its because Trending actually displayed 72,994 total entries, or around 200 videos per day, but a number of those videos trended for multiple days. For the purpose of his report, Alyousfi chose to examine data on all of the 72,994 trending videos, not on unique trending videos only, he said. The reasoning behind this is that we are interested in videos considered trending by YouTube. So if a video is considered trending for 3 days, then we believe it has more trending power and more trending characteristics than a video trending for 1 day only; thus, it should have more weight. So we include the 3 occurrences of that video in the analysis.

So, which videos had the most trending power? In 2019, six videos appeared on the Trending tab for a staggering 30 days:

Perhaps unsurprisingly, three of them are music videos, and two are related to mega-popular kpop band BTSwhich was also behind YouTubes most-watched Trending video of 2019. The music video for Boy With Luv, its Halsey collaboration, had 195,376,667 views when it first appeared on the tab April 23,Alyousfi found. (For scale, he found 90% of videos hit Trending for the first time when they had less than 2,752,317 views. The smallest number of views a Trending video had when it entered was 53,796, and the average view count was 1,387,466.)

None of the longest-trending videos came from YouTube channels that most frequently produced trending content. Alyousfis data showed that, globally, the top Trending channel of 2019 was Canadian YouTuber Linus Sebastians Linus Tech Tips(11 million subscribers, 120 million views per month), which had a whopping 365 uploads appear on the tab. His channel was closely followed by cooking-focused Binging with Babish (7.3 million, 70 million), which produced around 360 Trending videos.

Other top Trending channels include: culinary magazine Bon Apptit (likely thanks to its incredibly popular, recently controversial series Bon Apptit Test Kitchen) with 355 videos; life hack channel The King of Random (12 million, 40 million) with 350; tech creator and YouTube Original star Marques Brownlee (11 million, 60 million) with 350;WWE (62 million, 1.5 billionyes, seriously, 1.5 billion views per month) with around 345; and Tati Westbrook (9.3 million, 10 million) with 330.

Here are all 19 top Trending channels:

Creators have long wondered whether uploading on specific days or at specific times, using all caps in their titles, or having lengthy/link-riddled descriptions affects the reach of their content. Alyousfi broke down these and a few more hypotheses to find out if any, well, trends show up amongst videos that appeared on the tab.

He found that Trending uploads were spread pretty evenly across days of the week. Tuesday, with 11,986 trending videos, was the highest posting day, while Saturday (7,345) lagged noticeably behind all other days. As for time of day, he found that videos uploaded between noon and 2 p.m. Eastern were the most likely to hit Trending, while videos uploaded between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. Eastern were the least.

With that in mind, though, its worth noting that the majority of videos did not appear on Trending on the actual day they were published. On average, a video appears on the trending list after 5.6 days of publishing, Alyousfi wrote. Also, 95% of the videos took less than 13 days to appear.

His data showed several additional trends among video titles, including: a full 50% of Trending videos had no all-caps words in their titles; titles were generally between 36 and 64 characters in length; and the most common words used in Trending titles were official, video, 2019, vs, trailer, music, game, new, highlights, first, and challenge. (Also, the fire emoji was the most commonly used on Trending videos.)

One of the last findings Alyousfi discusses is video tags. He says almost all Trending videos used tags, and the average number used per video is 21. But, he notes, YouTube tells creators that, Tags can be useful if content in your video is commonly misspelled. Otherwise, tags play a minimal role in helping viewers find your video.

But if that was true, why would YouTube add a lot of tags to their videos? he asks, pointing out that YouTubes 2019 Rewind video had 39 tags. He didnt reach any concrete conclusions about whether tags affect video surfacing, but said that just 3.5% of Trending videos had no tags.

You can see his full report here.

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What Makes A YouTube Video Hit The Trending Tab? This Data Scientist Broke Down Every Single Video That Trended In 2019. - Tubefilter

This Brand Is Turning Art Exhibition Posters into Graphic Tees – Gear Patrol

Graphic tees are an art form. The medium is ink and the canvas is cotton jersey, screen printed and heat pressed (among other methods) with a message to say. Whether that message is profound or not, is another question.

It could be a tee to represent your alma mater or your local pizza joint, to commemorate an event, or to support a movement like Black Lives Matter. For many, it's a way to show your allegiance (or sense of irony) to your favorite band.

Band tees have been pumped out for every album release, world tour and local show, but what about other artists? What about pivotal art exhibitions? That's what the team behind Flat File had in mind when creating the brand.

Courtesy Flat File

The side project of the denim brand 3sixteen's Andrew Chen and Wesley Scott, and graphic designer Jordan Butcher, Flat File launched this year with the approach of making something like a concert tee, but for artists. The team released their first capsule in late April and featured exhibitions of Isamu Noguchi, Sol Lewitt, Ellsworth Kelly and Alexander Calder. The second release drops today and includes Constantin Brancusi, Donald Judd, Henri Matisse and Jackson Pollock.

To learn more, we talked with Wesley Scott about the project.

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What is Flat File? Whats the concept?

We think of Flat File as a bootleg art merch project. On multiple occasions, Andrew and I left museum exhibitions or gallery shows wishing there was some sort of merch we could buy that was well-designed. I think that harkens back to buying merch at a concert. There's that feeling of leaving a show with something to memorialize the experience that is so impactful.

For Flat File, were making merch for shows we never had the chance to see. Its our way of memorializing some of these major events in the art worlds history. For example, we have a Donald Judd t-shirt this drop from his first solo sculpture show. That show marked huge shift in his career and for us, as Judd fans, its exciting to be able share that moment through a t-shirt. All of us at Flat File come from graphic tee backgrounds in some form so t-shirts are the vehicle to share our interests. Our graphic designer, Jordan Butcher, has an incredible ability to take exhibit or show posters and flyers and distill them down to something that feels reminiscent of the bootleg tees we love without losing the artists ethos.

Courtesy Flat File

How do you select the artists and posters for each drop? Do you think of the artist first? Do you come across an art exhibit poster first?

Honestly, it all starts with a good poster. We have a Slack channel and Pinterest board where we are constantly uploading photos and screen grabs of great exhibition posters. For each release we might have 25 posters we are discussing until we eventually land on four.

Sometimes, though, it does start with the artist. Like this Brancusi tee for example. We knew we wanted to do a Brancusi tee and found a show that resonated with us. Given how long ago he was showing, its much harder to find information on his shows than others we do so that took more digging to pull all the elements from this show in place rather than just pulling from one poster.

Courtesy Flat File

What else is coming up for the future? Can we expect to see more lesser-known niche artists, or even up-and-coming contemporary artists?

Were definitely going to be releasing some niche artist pieces in the future. Initially, we wanted to share some heavy-hitters that we love, but with each additional release there will be more niche artists or movements appearing. The three of us have a wide variety of interests, so Im excited for some surprise that will come in future releases.

Our dream one day is to get the opportunity to design and produce promotional merchandise for museums or galleries in the same vein as what weve been doing.

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This Brand Is Turning Art Exhibition Posters into Graphic Tees - Gear Patrol

Editorial: Getting historical on YouTube – News – The Review – The-review

For readers looking for an educational and fun way to beat both the heat and the coronavirus blues this summer, the Alliance Historical Society may just have an answer.

The society has launched "Marking Time in Alliance," a series of videos on its YouTube channel, called Alliance History. The videos are the brainchild of Karen and Jim Perone, who long have been affiliated with the group.

Karen, a past president and current board member of the historical society, and Jim, a former board member, told The Review they have been uploading entries in the series for the past six months. They were inspired by similar videos in other communities.

Now, thanks to their industriousness, residents can learn of the Stark County connection to the Sultana tragedy, when a steamboat exploded near Memphis in 1865. Other videos include lively, entertaining lessons on the Main Street Caboose, the intriguingly named Goat Hill, and the Lexington Quaker Cemetery.

Having watched several, we can attest that they make viewers see familiar landmarks with fresh eyes and an increased awareness of the role they have played in local history.

We look forward to future installments, especially if one includes an abbreviated history of Alliances most visible landmark, Glamorgan Castle, and the citys connection to the scarlet carnation. And, while were in a requesting frame of mind, weve always wanted to know more about the infamous olive poisoning of 1919.

With no Greater Alliance Carnation Festival this summer or its informational tours at various historical sites, these videos are the best way to increase our knowledge of local history.

Applause all around to the Perones for their willingness to research, write and record these video nuggets and extend the Alliance Historical Societys reach online.

Color us ready for coronavirus relief

Gov. Mike DeWines release of a color-coded system for virus threats provides necessary clarity to Ohioans during the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the system, counties are assigned the color yellow if they are at level one (active exposure and spread), orange for level two (increased exposure and spread), red for level three (very high exposure and spread) or purple for level four (severe exposure and spread).

Stark and Mahoning counties, and thus much of The Reviews readership, are both orange at the time of this writing. This means, according to the state, that residents should "exercise [a] high degree of caution."

DeWine has issued orders for mandatory face coverings in public for counties designated red or above. (No county is yet purple, although Franklin County is close.)

Readers are reminded that, in the considered medical opinions of many experts, masks are one of the best ways to limit the spread of the virus. They may not be mandated in public for Alliance residents, but this doesnt mean they arent highly recommended.

Based solely on anecdotal evidence, recent days have seen an uptick in the number of local folks who are wearing masks in public. This is terrific, as the more people who do so, the better the chances of putting this virus in our rearview mirrors.

And despite strong differences of opinion about coronavirus, one thing everybody can agree on is that we cant put it behind us soon enough.

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Editorial: Getting historical on YouTube - News - The Review - The-review

H.266 is coming and your video files will be half the size they are with H.265/HEVC – DIYphotography

Video compression tech doesnt seem to change all that often, but when it does it sure takes some big leaps. H.264/Advanced Video Coding (AVC) was first introduced back in 2003. Its still pretty prevalent today, despite H.265/High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) being released a decade later in 2013. Now, the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute has done it again with H.266/Versatile Video Coding (VVC), cutting the files sizes down to a quarter of H.264.

The lack of h.265 adoption has largely been due to patent issues but it brought massive benefits over its predecessor, including higher quality footage with a big reduction in filesize. H.265 also has some pretty demanding hardware needs and its taken a while for some companies to catch up. Premiere Pro, for example, only really started to get GPU acceleration for H.265.

But H.265 allowed you to get a similar level of quality at half the file size of H.264. The new Versatile Video Coding engine, also known as H.266 looks set to cut those file sizes in half essentially offering you the same level of quality as H.264 but at only a quarter of the file size.

According to The Verge, Fraunhofer says that VCC could be the path forward for the industry. It will allow companies to completely skip H.264 and H.265 without having to deal with patents, royalties and licensing headaches.

Through a reduction of data requirements, H.266/VVC makes video transmission in mobile networks (where data capacity is limited) more efficient. For instance, the previous standard H.265/HEVC requires 10 gigabytes of data to transmit a 90-min UHD video.

With this new technology, only 5 gigabytes of data are required to achieve the same quality. Because H.266/VVC was developed with ultra-high-resolution video content in mind, the new standard is particularly beneficial when streaming 4K or 8K videos on a flat screen TV. Furthermore, H.266/VVC is ideal for all types of moving images: from high-resolution 360 video panoramas to screen sharing contents.

Primarily, the benefit mentioned is on the bandwidth requirements for mobile networks. But it has further implications. I know people who still dont even upload to YouTube in 4K because of the file sizes required (4x larger than 1080p if you want the same level of quality). The new H.266 codec would bring those 4K videos down to the same file sizes as their current 1080p videos, making it much easier to deal with those higher resolution upload times, especially on slower connections.

And with the push to 8K (which would be 16x larger files than 1080p at the same codec and relative bitrate) very few will be uploading in that resolution, even if theyre able to shoot it, due to the massive data requirements. And phones are shooting 8K now, too, even if its pretty terrible. So H.266 would allow you to save some of that precious storage space especially as so many Android device manufacturers seem to be ditching microSD card slots now.

Fraunhofer says that the Media Coding Industry Forum (which includes companies such as Apple, Canon, Intel and Sony) is working towards chip designs that can support H.266 at the hardware level. Itll probably be at least a couple of years before we see any serious implementations but it sounds very promising for the future of video delivery.

[via The Verge]

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H.266 is coming and your video files will be half the size they are with H.265/HEVC - DIYphotography

The rise of Thirst Trap culture among Gen Z Indian women – ETtech.com

This practice of picture-posting is referred to as sharing thirst traps. The Cambridge dictionary defines thirst trap as a statement by or photograph of someone on social media intended to attract attention, or to make people who see it sexually interested in them.

Thirst-trapping is a pronounced culture in the US, popularised by influencers like Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner over the last couple of years. At least 150-200 thirst trap tweets are posted every hour on Twitter on a daily basis and more than half of these are from the US, as per analytics portal Hashtagify. The practice is age-agnostic, with celebrities in their 60s, like Madonna, making headlines for posting thirst traps on Instagram earlier this week.

Thirst trap culture has gained traction in India recently. Google Trends India suggests the interest for the term has peaked thrice in the last six months, indicating its growing influence among Indian social media users. The last spike was seen in May 2020.

These Gen Z women are part of over 470 million people in the country as per Bloomberg analysis born roughly between the year 1996 and 2010. They were born alongside the birth of the internet. Growing up, theyve had their accounts on every social media platform from Facebook to Instagram. And their internet habits are very different from their predecessors, the millennials.

According to Facebooks advertising vertical, Facebook.com/Ads, over 4 million women Instagrammers from India in the 18-24 age group show interest in human sexuality as a topic, as opposed to 2.7 million in the 25-31 cohort.

Theyre fluid about their identity online, notes Ishtaarth Dalmia, an anthropologist and AVP at digital agency Dentsu Webchutney. Most of these womens social media bios don't reflect their names but have emoticons or random words instead. They are quick to open and shut social accounts. They have private Instagram accounts dedicated to posting thirst traps that have several thousand in followers.

Seeking Validation

Thirst trapping is also a shortcut to getting validation, an important marker of identity formation for Gen Z.

This generation feels so overwhelmed by its inability to control everything thats going on in the world that fetching likes and shares brings in a sense of control to them. Its something they can rely on, says Dalmia.

Influencers like the Kardashians glorify this idea as well. They are indirectly sending this message that posting provocative content can make you the next youngest millionaire, says Sascha Kirpalani, a Mumbai-based psychologist.

However, the motivation behind posting thirst traps is a lot deeper, she quickly adds. It is a means to self-expression for a lot of women in this generation, a form of feminism, of reclaiming power over their own body.

To some, like Pooja Mishra from Mumbai, it implies breaking away from the repression theyve seen the previous generations of women go through.

I dont mind sharing thirst traps. Its a part of me, not my entire personality. That's my face and body I walk around with 24x7. I shouldn't have to hide it in the online world because of the threat of someone being creepy, says the Gen Z chartered accountant.

Even its predecessors note that this cohort is far more vocal about its sexuality and love for erotica, both in words and visuals, than they are. What you see them post online is actually a manifestation of what we used to write in our diaries, says Shreemi Verma, a Mumbai-based content creator in her late 20s.

A lot of these women post thirst pictures via their alt-accounts (alternate accounts). Perhaps thats why they find it to be a safer space as it doesnt come with judgement from peers or family, Verma reckons.

Changing Perceptions

Gen Z women are now having an outsized influence on the way women, in general, express their sexuality online.

Before Gen Z Twitter became popular, hardly anyone spoke of erotica. People labelled it as explicit content, notes Srishti Millicent, a digital marketer based in Chandigarh.

Now these 18-23-year-olds put thirst traps and they go viral, she adds.

By the way, Millicent is only 25. But she too feels it's the "younger" girls who make her feel more comfortable about posting thirst traps online now.

On Twitter, thirst traps start with one person from this Gen Z community tweeting and urging others to post their pictures, notes Kejal Shah, a 27-year-old HR professional from Mumbai. Thats how it starts trending. You dont feel awkward doing it because everyone else is getting on board as well.

Shah herself has posted an occasional thirst trap on her social media accounts in recent times.

Pune-based Ira, a 24-year-old radio jockey, sees this trend as part of an attempt where Women make online spaces safer for women.

Ira shares a story of a fellow Gen Z woman who was recently harassed by a man about one of her pictures online. She traced him to his Facebook account which led her to the guys mothers profile. She then confronted him with screenshots of his inappropriate messages, asking if she should show his mother what her son is up to. The guy was profusely apologetic.

Across social media platforms, these women have now created a sorority of their own.

Every Gen Z woman in India, who is comfortable posting thirst traps online, is likely to follow several others like her. Inside this tiny community, people hype each other as enthusiastically as they cancel a member who isnt genuine, says Ira.

They operate under pseudonymous accounts, but a look at the list of people they follow gives an insight into their minds. It has artists, poets, activists, fake news and misinformation fighters. Satire and irony are dominating themes of their content.

For advertisers targetting Gen Z, this segment is still an enigma theyre trying to decrypt, notes Dentsu Webchutney anthropologist Dalmia.

Some of them also post pictures of celebrities they are thirsting for. Others highlight the problematic nature of 365 Days, a Polish erotica movie streaming on Netflix that has been trending on the platform in India for weeks now arguing that it glorifies molestation and abduction.

Many have developed a thick skin when it comes to receiving unwarranted comments from men on their posts. However, some question if these lot are indeed being anti-feminist since they eventually end up catering to a male fantasy of women.

Many thirst trappers end up deleting their pictures after uploading them, fearing negative attention. Some of them also worry they may attach their self-esteem to the number of likes they get on these pictures for good.

They say thirst traps are part of the larger realm of body-positivity content. But they also know that while every thirst trap is body-positive, not all body-positive posts are thirst traps.

On social media, however, all are happily welcome to co-exist.

(Illustration and graphics by Rahul Awasthi)

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With No End in Sight to the Coronavirus, Some Teachers Are Retiring Rather Than Going Back to School – TIME

When Christina Curfman thought about whether she could return to her second-grade classroom in the fall, she struggled to imagine the logistics. How would she make sure her 8-year-old students kept their face masks on all day? How would they do hands-on science experiments that required working in pairs? How would she keep six feet of distance between children accustomed to sharing desks and huddling together on one rug to read books?

The only way to keep kids six feet apart is to have four or five kids, says Curfman, a teacher at Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg, Virginia, who typically has 22 students in a class. Her district shut schools on March 12, and at least 55 staff members have since tested positive for the coronavirus. Classrooms in general are pretty tight, she says. And then how do you teach a reading group, how do you teach someone one-on-one from six feet apart? You cant.

So Curfmanwho has an autoimmune disease that makes her more vulnerable to COVID-19consulted her doctor, weighed the risks of returning to school and decided to retire early after 28 years of teaching. At 55, shes eligible for partial retirement benefits and will take home less pay than if she had worked for a few more years, but the decision gave her peace of mind.

Its either that or risk your health, she says. Its kind of a no-brainer.

Recent surveys suggest shes not alone. Faced with the risks of an uncertain back-to-school plan, some teachers, who spent the last few months teaching over computers and struggling to reach students who couldnt access online lessons, are choosing not to return in the fall. The rising number of coronavirus cases in many parts of the country, and recent evidence that suggests the virus can spread indoors via tiny respiratory droplets lingering in the air, have fueled teachers safety concerns, even as President Trump demands that schools fully reopen and threatens to cut federal funding from those that dont. (Trump has said that older teachers, who are more vulnerable to the virus, could sit it out for a little while, unless we come up with the vaccine sooner.)

About 20% of teachers said they arent likely to return to teaching if schools reopen in the fall, according to a USA Today/Ipsos poll conducted in late May. EdWeek Research Center surveys conducted around the same time found that more than 10% of teachers are more likely to leave the profession now than they were before the pandemic, and 65% of educators said they want school buildings to remain closed to slow the spread of the virus.

But the pressure to reopen schools is strong. Recent studies show that students have likely suffered significant learning loss during this period of remote schooling, worsening the achievement gap between affluent and low-income students. Meanwhile, research shows that children are much less likely to suffer the most severe health effects of the virus. The American Academy of Pediatrics released guidance on June 25, recommending that all back-to-school policies aim to have students physically present in school, citing the importance of in-person learning and raising concerns about social isolation, abuse and food insecurity for children forced to remain at home. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the countrys top infectious disease expert, agrees. I feel very strongly we need to do whatever we can to get the children back to school, he said during testimony before the Senate on June 30.

But the health risks are greater for some educators and other school employees, including bus drivers and custodians, than they are for children. Adults over age 65 account for the vast majority of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. And 18% of public and private school teachers and 27% of principals are 55 or older, according to federal data. Thats why researchers at the American Enterprise Institute warned of a school personnel crisis, recommending in May that school districts provide early retirement incentives or create a virtual teaching corps for those who feel safer working remotely.

I still have not seen any state really address this in their reopening plans. Theres passing references to schools needing to do something for their vulnerable population, but you just dont see the activity that would match the personnel challenge that schools are going to face, says John Bailey, an American Enterprise Institute visiting fellow, who wrote the May report. We shouldnt be putting teachers in a situation where they have to decide between their financial security and their health security.

In Connecticutwhere a union survey found that 43% of teachers think theyre at higher risk for severe illness if they contract COVID-19 because of their age or an underlying medical conditionAndrea Cohen, who is over 65, decided to retire as an elementary school social worker. The decision was driven by concerns she could bring the virus home to her 95-year-old mother and to her grandchild, who is due to be born in September. I felt like this was the safest thing to do, she says.

I trust that theyre going to try to come up with some good system, but I just didnt know what the system was going to be, and I couldnt visualize how it was going to work for me in my school office, Cohen says. All I could see was me in my tiny little office, with six kids, and how it wouldnt be safe for anybody.

In Michiganwhere 30% of teachers told the Michigan Education Association they were considering leaving teaching or retiring earlier than planned because of the pandemicTheresa Mills, 58, decided to retire after an anxiety-ridden spring of teaching literature remotely and trying to build relationships with students online. The whole idea of being remote and disconnected was equally daunting as the fear of not being safe, she says about the upcoming school year.

Many school districts are considering hybrid plans that involve students rotating between in-person classes and remote learning on different days of the week. But Education Secretary Betsy DeVos criticized those plans during a call with governors on Tuesday, urging schools to be fully operational with in-person instruction five days a week, the Associated Press reported.

Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia, the district where Curfman taught, is planning for students to attend in-person classes two days a week and learn at home the rest of the time, but it is also allowing parents to opt for full-time remote learning.

Curfman says about five families have already asked her to privately tutor her former students and their siblings at home on distance-learning days. Its one example of the nontraditional approaches to schooling caused by the pandemic. As long as she can do so safely, Curfman is considering it.

Theres no evidence that teachers are retiring en masse. In the middle of an economic crisis that has left millions unemployed, including public school employees, many teachers arent looking to flee the profession, despite their concerns about this fall.

I kind of dont come from a family that retires, says Vicki Baker, a 64-year-old math teacher at the Philadelphia High School for Girls, but she wants to feel safe when she returns to her classroom. I feel like we have one time to get this right because theres so many things at risk, she says. If somebody gets sick because theyre at school, the students bring it home to their families. I bring it home to mine.

Rachel Bardes holds a sign in front of the Orange County Public Schools headquarters in Orlando, Fla., on July 7, 2020, as teachers protest a mandate that all public schools open in August despite the spike in coronavirus cases in Florida.

Joe BurbankOrlando Sentinel/AP

College professors have raised similar concerns. Hundreds of Georgia Tech faculty members called for the continuation of remote learning this fall, arguing in an open letter that no faculty, staff, or student should be coerced into risking their health and the health of their families by working and/or learning on campus when there is a remote/online equivalent. Professors at the University of Notre Dame asked that they be allowed to decide individually whether to teach in-person or online.

Meanwhile, the surge in coronavirus cases from Florida to Texas to Arizona has added urgency to the need for safe back-to-school plans.

Before the pandemic, Caren Gonzalez, a chemistry teacher at Tuloso-Midway High School in Corpus Christi, Texas, was planning to retire next year, having promised the Class of 2021 that she would be there to teach them AP Chemistry. During the last few months, she shifted her lesson plans online, uploading videos of herself writing out chemical equations and offering students one-on-one help over Zoom, sometimes meeting as late as 10:30 p.m. to accommodate their schedules. These are not normal times, she told them. You dont need to apologize.

But Gonzalez, who will turn 60 in July, questioned whether it would be safe to return to school before theres a coronavirus vaccine, and she decided to retire now. Its just the uncertainty, she says. Nobody knows quite whats going to happen.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that schools space desks six feet apart; seat only one child per row on school buses; discourage students from sharing toys, books or sports equipment; close communal spaces, such as cafeterias and playgrounds; and create staggered drop-off and pick-up schedules to limit contact between large groups of students and parents. On Wednesday, Trump said he disagreed with the CDCs very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools. While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things.

Guidance released Tuesday by the Texas Education Agency requires schools to hold daily in-person instruction, but allows parents to opt for remote learning instead. The guidelines say schools should attempt to have hand sanitizer or hand washing stations at every entrance and in every classroom, should keep windows open to increase airflow when possible and should consider spacing desks six feet apart.

Gonzalez worries that such guidance will be difficult to implement on the ground and that students or teachers will suffer the consequences.

Six feet apart becomes three feet apart, becomes Dont worry about it at lunchtime in the lunch room, so it just kind of degrades, Gonzalez says. And its not because the districts are trying to cheat teachers or their students or anything. Theyre just trying to do what theyre told with the resources that they have.

Without a boost in state or federal funding, many school districts might not have the resources they need. An analysis by the American Federation of Teachers estimated that the average school will need an extra $1.2 million, or $2,300 per student, to reopen safely. An analysis by the School Superintendents Association estimated it would cost less, but still nearly $2 million for the average school district to buy enough hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and masks and to hire more custodial staff and nurses or aides to check temperatures regularly.

I dont think anybody is going back, thinking, This is fine, everythings normal,' Gonzalez says. I think everybodys got a little bit of apprehension if theyve been paying attention.

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Write to Katie Reilly at Katie.Reilly@time.com.

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With No End in Sight to the Coronavirus, Some Teachers Are Retiring Rather Than Going Back to School - TIME

Moyra Davey and Kate Zambreno on Writing As If You Were Dead – frieze.com

Moyra Davey:Drifts [2020] is your most voluptuous and sensuous work to date, even though much of the novel is about struggle and feeling at a miserable impasse with the book you are writing. You manage to both write the problem and, simultaneously, provide the solution. You talk about block, but the writing feels like its opposite: flow. You invoke the [new] texture of boredom, the energy of the internet, its distracted nature and wonder how to invest the writing with these particular drives, how to replicate the mind wandering. You name the affect you crave for your novel and, immediately, the writing serves it up. You have found the perfect form: a novel made up of fragments, using the note-taking practice you find so vital.

I know from the conversations between you and your friends in Drifts that, like me, you prize your relationships with writer-friends, the (usually women) interlocutors who prod us, open doors and offer sympathetic guidance, often with lightning speed. Try to be with flowers, the poet Bhanu Kapil says to you in Drifts; later, in an exchange with the writer Sofia Samatar, you talk about empty[ing] a text in order to fill it. This speaks to a particular difficulty Im having with a shapeless, bloated text, about which Ive come to feel phobic. I wondered if you could expand on that particular point: the emptying out that might lead to structure.

Kate Zambreno:Theres something monstrous to the shapeless. I have a fear of it as well. I like to think of writers block, the dread of it, as resulting from too much material too many notebooks filled up. For the period I dramatize in Drifts, it was also about the desire for my work to feel private and ongoing rather than being instantly published and commodified to be read only by my correspondents, my addressees, entirely women and non-binary writers.

In the book, one of the characters, Anna, says to the narrator that the notes are the work. I tend to gravitate towards writing that is about process yours, Kapils, Samatars, Herv Guiberts and W.G. Sebalds. I dont think about structure, per se, or story, but I am interested in narrative and form and repetition. Theres such an organic flow to the form of your books Les Goddesses/Hemlock Forest [2017] and Burn the Diaries [2014] the titles, the places, the sense of travelling through that every writer who reads them begins to mimic it. These books read like they were written in the time they were conceived and are about time. When my writing feels shapeless and bloated, like it does now, malingering for years around the study of Guibert I have been working on, which was supposed to be a short text, I realize that writing is time, and must take the time it needs.

Ive always been drawn to the suspense in Thomas Bernhard, Sophie Calle, Guibert and Sebald. Their works are note-like and documentary, but also read like detective stories. Theres an atmospheric moodiness or tension, also something thats withheld from us throughout. In The Compassion Protocol [1995], Guiberts narrator says Im paraphrasing here that he most feels like hes writing fiction when hes writing in a diary. Theres a noir or speculative quality to Drifts the sense of a coded reality that the narrator is trying to figure out.

MD:The last line of Drifts mentions beauty not knowing what beauty is, but that it adheres to many things. I wondered how you would end this book, as it builds towards an almost unbearable tension: your fear of not being able to finish it, mounting material anxieties, your pregnant body about to explode. The pressure seems almost uncontainable. And then there is a pause, a muting and you re-emerge using the beautiful device of simply noting a date, 7 December, to mark the event of your daughters birth. It is the opposite of Maggie Nelsons choice to narrate the minutiae of giving birth in The Argonauts [2015], but your laconic version is extraordinary in its own way, communicating something momentous with a rare economy of means. It shifts from the compulsive, yet no less compelling, uploading of life that characterizes most of the book. Drifts gives the fantastic impression of living and writing life simultaneously, and of doing it without shame, or perhaps doing it in such a way that shame becomes beautiful.

KZ:Originally, the ending included more of the duration and exhaustion of my labour; I was in prodromal labour for almost a month. I had already written about this fugue state in Appendix Project [2019], and I always imagined Id pick it up again in Ghosts, the as-yet-unwritten novel thats supposed to be its sequel. Vertigo the second half of Drifts is elliptical and fragmentary; less an exhaustive recitation of the facts of a life and more about the claustrophobic intimacy of it. It was important to me that the book didnt show a journey of motherhood; I didnt want a baby to solve the main protagonists existential crisis, which is a crisis of the book she is trying to write. It was Samatar who told me that too much of the baby even the joy of her overdetermined the book. In a way, it goes against what some readers might want. Also, I am resistant to the ways a birth story is often told as a coherent narrative. Trauma is more fragmented, remembered later, in glimpses.

MD:The few details you give us wholly convey this bewildered state, but you make the experience completely your own. Your tender, yet slightly detached, observations of the baby and the hilarious depiction of the postpartum, scatological scene of retention/expulsion are consistent with all the earlier, non-maternal writing in Drifts. Ive read quite a bit of the literature of motherhood and your voice is like no other Ive encountered.

KZ:I want to hear more about writing and shame, its relationship to beauty, as its something I think about a lot. I wonder if its why we are both so drawn to Guibert, Kapil and David Wojnarowicz. Theres this moment at the end of Drifts where I cite you, trying to reference a work of yours, Dr. Y., Dr. Y. [2014], in which you are naked and pregnant in bed with your dog. A line from Anne Sextons Words for Dr. Y. [1978] frames the central image: Why else keep a journal, if not to examine your own filth? So much of your work, both the videos and the writing, engages with the diary or notebook the intimate space of the domestic. But theres also an intriguing opacity in your work that I identify with, in tension, perhaps, with this beautiful transparency of the daily: the refusal to go back to trauma or childhood, that space of memoir you refer to as the wet in Les Goddesses/Hemlock Forest.

MD:Shame is only ugly when its hidden. It can be breathtakingly beautiful when a writer puts it out there without fanfare. Im quite preoccupied with shame, so I home in on authors whove found ways to write it. Thats what good literature does: in the right hands, shame doesnt even exist because it becomes something else. I think it was Nadine Gordimer who said: Write as if you were dead. This is something I try to do, but I am not there yet. The artwork with my dog and me in bed is surrounded by little photos of her shitting. I thought the curve of her arched back mimicked my pregnant belly; I was no doubt projecting onto her defecation a wish to empty myself out. The unofficial title for that piece was Ante-Partum Document. I showed it to my gallerist at the time, Colin de Land, and he recoiled from it, compared it to the worst of feminist art. I dont hold any of this against him, but I was ashamed and put the piece away. I have Gregg Bordowitz to thank for encouraging me to revisit it nearly 20 years later and remake it using the Sexton quote. I was reading Sexton for another project, the video Notes on Blue [2015], and came across that line in Words for Dr. Y., which is dedicated to her analyst. Entirely coincidentally, Dr. Y. was the name I gave my shrink in the video Fifty Minutes [2006], so I titled the new piece Dr. Y., Dr. Y.

KZ:So much of your art seems to be about The Problem of Reading, to quote the title of a 2003 work of yours.

MD:There are many problems of reading. There is the research problem trying to put your hand on the right thing, and often not knowing what that is. I met a graduate student in Toronto, named Kate Whiteway, who used the expression: Being in the Eros of research. My oldest friend, the writer and translator Alison Strayer, spoke of that zone of reading as a state of bliss, when theres never a question, where one thing leads to another. But, for me, there is also the problem of being over-identified with reading, and so I am trying to change it up. In my latest work-in-progress, I originally decided there would be no citations, but then I felt utterly compelled to write about Hilton Als, Carson McCullers and Christa Wolf. I dont know that Ill ever write something that is not dependent on communion and connection.

KZ:I also feel Im often over-identified with reading. It seems people sometimes read my work to get a bibliography out of it. Which is perverse because I frequently go through periods of extreme reading allergy. So much of Drifts involves searching for books to read but finding everything too porous. Its a relief when I am reading ecstatically, when I have the time and space. Especially when Im pregnant Im again in my second trimester I cant read much. I spend a lot of time looking and thinking and feeling, and then eating and sleeping. I become like my dog. Which reminds me of that moment in Burn the Diaries, where you describe Eileen Myless passage about her dog, Rosie, shitting and you feeling a kinship looking at your own dog, Bella. I felt such an uncanny affinity reading that passage, because so much of my notetaking was observing dailiness. Im inspired by the way your mind makes connections over texts. Much of Drifts came from walking around my neighbourhood and the city, desiring to take series of photographs, whether of my dog on the porch or the bark of the trees or the feral cats or Halloween decorations. Throughout, I was thinking about images, like the 16th-century prints of Albrecht Drer, Peter Hujars photographs of animals [1960s80s], Sarah Charlesworths Stills [1980]. The book includes not only some of my amateur photographs but also collages and diptychs. I admire how you use and philosophize photography, including your own, in your writing. Was your writing practice always concurrent with your image-making practice?

MD:For a long time, I only made photographs, and dabbled in the moving image. I didnt really start to write until after editing Mother Reader [2001], at which point I wanted to take a break from photography and focus on writing and video. My most recent photographs are black and white images of chickens, horses and dogs taken with my late-1960s Hasselblad. The series was spawned partly by a recent film project and partly by a desire to actively channel Hujars animal portraits. That was a humbling learning experience. Its uncanny how we have overlapping spheres of influence and projective desire for certain artists and writers, even down to the title of your forthcoming book on Guibert, To Write as if Already Dead. I love hearing that the impulse to write Drifts was so strongly linked to your photographic drive. Maybe that is the answer to my bloated, stalled text: to reconnect again with images, as filtered through writing.

This article first appeared in frieze issue 212.

Main image: Moyra Davey, Jane (detail), 1984, gelatin silver print, 5141cm. Courtesy: the artist, greengrassi, London, and Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne/New York

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Moyra Davey and Kate Zambreno on Writing As If You Were Dead - frieze.com

ISI admission test 2020 postponed again – Times of India

NEW DELHI: Indian Statistical Institute admission test 2020 has been postponed again. The ISI admission test 2020 which was earlier scheduled to conduct on August 2, has now been postponed. The rescheduled date for the exam will be released later.An official notice issued in this regard available on the official website says that "The ISI Admission Test 2020, which had earlier been rescheduled to August 02, 2020, is postponed. In view of the uncertainty prevailing on account of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is not possible to declare a firm date for the Test at this time, but it is not expected to be held before the second week of September 2020. Announcement of the exact date will be made after proper assessment of the situation, bearing in mind the well-being and safety of the candidates, and ensuring that they are able to appear for the Test without any risk or hardship. Candidates will be duly notified of the new date for the Admission Test well in advance."Once the exam date is announced, the registered candidates will be given an option to change their exam centre preferences and uploading pending documents such as results of qualifying exams (if appeared in 2020). The notice further reads that As soon as the date is announced, all registered candidates will be provided a small window for making changes in their centre preferences and uploading pending documents like results of qualifying examination (if appeared in 2020), and those related to reservation category (OBC- NCL/SC/ST/PwD), GATE and INMO, by logging into their accounts on the online Application portal.

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ISI admission test 2020 postponed again - Times of India

What Makes A YouTube Video Hit The Trending Tab? This Data Scientist Broke Down Every Single Video That Trended In 2019. – Tubefilter

Ah, the Trending tab. YouTubes showcase of videos that a wide range of viewers would find interesting. Like many other facets of the platforms content recommendation algorithm, the Trending tab has been a frequent target of suspicion from creators who want to know more about its inner workingsnotably how and why it surfaces some seemingly popular videos, but not others.

Well likely never get a true peek under the hood from YouTube itself. But thanks to data scientist Ammar Alyousfi, we now have a massive amount of data about every single video that hit the tab in 2019, as well as corresponding conclusions about what qualities these videos tend to share.

To compile his report, Alyousfi ran an automated script that scraped data from YouTubes Trending tab every day throughout the year. According to YouTube, Trending isnt personalized and displays the same list of trending videos in each country to all users so he didnt have to account for the possibility that different videos might show up for users in different regions.

Alyousfi found that over the course of 2019, YouTubes Trending tab displayed 11,177 unique videos. If that sounds smaller than expected, its because Trending actually displayed 72,994 total entries, or around 200 videos per day, but a number of those videos trended for multiple days. For the purpose of his report, Alyousfi chose to examine data on all of the 72,994 trending videos, not on unique trending videos only, he said. The reasoning behind this is that we are interested in videos considered trending by YouTube. So if a video is considered trending for 3 days, then we believe it has more trending power and more trending characteristics than a video trending for 1 day only; thus, it should have more weight. So we include the 3 occurrences of that video in the analysis.

So, which videos had the most trending power? In 2019, six videos appeared on the Trending tab for a staggering 30 days:

Perhaps unsurprisingly, three of them are music videos, and two are related to mega-popular kpop band BTSwhich was also behind YouTubes most-watched Trending video of 2019. The music video for Boy With Luv, its Halsey collaboration, had 195,376,667 views when it first appeared on the tab April 23,Alyousfi found. (For scale, he found 90% of videos hit Trending for the first time when they had less than 2,752,317 views. The smallest number of views a Trending video had when it entered was 53,796, and the average view count was 1,387,466.)

None of the longest-trending videos came from YouTube channels that most frequently produced trending content. Alyousfis data showed that, globally, the top Trending channel of 2019 was Canadian YouTuber Linus Sebastians Linus Tech Tips(11 million subscribers, 120 million views per month), which had a whopping 365 uploads appear on the tab. His channel was closely followed by cooking-focused Binging with Babish (7.3 million, 70 million), which produced around 360 Trending videos.

Other top Trending channels include: culinary magazine Bon Apptit (likely thanks to its incredibly popular, recently controversial series Bon Apptit Test Kitchen) with 355 videos; life hack channel The King of Random (12 million, 40 million) with 350; tech creator and YouTube Original star Marques Brownlee (11 million, 60 million) with 350;WWE (62 million, 1.5 billionyes, seriously, 1.5 billion views per month) with around 345; and Tati Westbrook (9.3 million, 10 million) with 330.

Here are all 19 top Trending channels:

Creators have long wondered whether uploading on specific days or at specific times, using all caps in their titles, or having lengthy/link-riddled descriptions affects the reach of their content. Alyousfi broke down these and a few more hypotheses to find out if any, well, trends show up amongst videos that appeared on the tab.

He found that Trending uploads were spread pretty evenly across days of the week. Tuesday, with 11,986 trending videos, was the highest posting day, while Saturday (7,345) lagged noticeably behind all other days. As for time of day, he found that videos uploaded between noon and 2 p.m. Eastern were the most likely to hit Trending, while videos uploaded between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. Eastern were the least.

With that in mind, though, its worth noting that the majority of videos did not appear on Trending on the actual day they were published. On average, a video appears on the trending list after 5.6 days of publishing, Alyousfi wrote. Also, 95% of the videos took less than 13 days to appear.

His data showed several additional trends among video titles, including: a full 50% of Trending videos had no all-caps words in their titles; titles were generally between 36 and 64 characters in length; and the most common words used in Trending titles were official, video, 2019, vs, trailer, music, game, new, highlights, first, and challenge. (Also, the fire emoji was the most commonly used on Trending videos.)

One of the last findings Alyousfi discusses is video tags. He says almost all Trending videos used tags, and the average number used per video is 21. But, he notes, YouTube tells creators that, Tags can be useful if content in your video is commonly misspelled. Otherwise, tags play a minimal role in helping viewers find your video.

But if that was true, why would YouTube add a lot of tags to their videos? he asks, pointing out that YouTubes 2019 Rewind video had 39 tags. He didnt reach any concrete conclusions about whether tags affect video surfacing, but said that just 3.5% of Trending videos had no tags.

You can see his full report here.

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What Makes A YouTube Video Hit The Trending Tab? This Data Scientist Broke Down Every Single Video That Trended In 2019. - Tubefilter

Employer Use of Contact Tracing Apps: The Good, the Bad, and the Regulatory – JD Supra

Employers struggle with COVID-19 for any number of reasons. However, perhaps one of the main challenges they face is how to keep employees safe, even when one of them tests positive for or is exposed to COVID-19. They are looking for innovative ways to stay a step ahead of the curve. One of the innovations employers are currently considering are contact tracing apps.

In general, a contact tracingapp is downloaded to a Bluetooth/Wi-Fi enabled device and allows users to be aware of potential exposure to COVID-19 and enable them to self-quarantine for the incubation period or seek medical diagnosis. Is an employers implementation of a contact tracing app in the workplace a good or bad idea? Are there any legal requirements in play one way or the other? This post will discuss some of the various considerations employers should remember.

At the end of the day, employers may decide to utilize contact tracing apps to augment their own safety protocols and procedures to maintain a healthy work environment amidst the pandemic. However, it is important to remember that there are risks and limitations associated with the use of these apps.

First things first. There are currently no specific federal- or state-level laws specifically prohibiting employers use of contact tracing apps. As the EEOC has noted, COVID-19 constitutes a direct threat under the ADA, so employers may make more robust medical inquiries than would normally be allowed. Certain state-level laws might impact employers use of the apps, though, such as Californias general prohibition of electronic tracking devices, requirement that employers reimburse employees for necessary expenditures and losses, and prohibition of employer requests for access to personal social media accounts of employees. State-level laws are varied and, of course, rapidly developing, so employers are well-served to monitor relevant jurisdictions closely and consult with their legal counsel before requiring employees to use contract-tracing technology. Generally, however, employers in the United States are, as of this post, permitted to use these sorts of apps, provided they follow various rules and best practices to manage the associated risksnamely, privacy risks.

With that in mind, why would an employer want to take the risks associated with contact tracing apps?

Simply put, employers are struggling to find an efficient path to protect employees, while remaining open for business. Employers are generally required, under OSHAs General Duty Clause, to provide workers a work environment free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm. OSHA has expressed that COVID-19 fits this bill, such that employers must affirmatively act to reduce and manage COVID-19-related hazards in the workplace. As weve reported previously, OSHA suggests employers implement some combination of (among other things) personal protective equipment (PPE), cloth face coverings (which OSHA is clear are not PPE), administrative controls, and engineering controls, depending on the level of employee exposure risk involved. Local public health authorities may also impose an added layer of workplace precautions and protections.

In light of this guidance, perhaps one of the most persuasive reasons to utilize contact tracing apps to reduce and manage COVID-19-related hazards in the workplace is in the arguably flexible and efficient technology itself. After installation on a Bluetooth and/or WiFi enabled device, contact tracing apps transmit (usually) anonymous user identification numbers to other app-installed devices within range using the devices Bluetooth or WiFi features. If a user reports a positive COVID-19 test, the technology alerts other app users who received the identification number of the positive user due to proximity. Some apps may have a geolocation feature that creates maps of impacted areas or otherwise only tracks contacts within a particular geographic location (e.g., a workplace). That said, Google and Apple do not use location tracking in their joint Exposure Notifications System (which allows contact tracing apps to notify users who have likely been exposed to COVID-19). Certainly, the apps may have other features that employers may want as well, such as pre-shift COVID-19 symptom reporting.

For these reasons, contact tracing apps may provide a flexible and efficient method to augment employers current workplace safety protocols. Use of the apps and an exposure notifications system would, arguably, be quicker and more efficient than traditional contact tracing investigations at identifying exposed individuals in the workplace and isolating them before they can infect others. In this way, employers hope to reduce, or even avoid, the COVID-19 curve in their workplaces.

As with any enhancement tied to technology, there are risks and limitations. Further, just as the technology itself provides the most persuasive reason to implement the use of the apps, it also ironically supplies the biggest limitation. That is, the reliability and accuracy of the technology is only as good as its user.

Consider the reality of the modern workplace, be it a factory, office, or other setting, as well as the modern employee in any of those settings. Employees may choose (or be required) to leave phones in their lockers or private workspaces before going to the factory floor, production yard, or conference room. Employees may choose (or be required) to turn their phones off during meetings, or may experience weak WiFi or cellular signals in some workplaces. Or they may forget to charge their phones or even lend them to colleagues or family members. Employees may also be lax or inaccurate in their own manual input of information pertaining to exposure and/or positive COVID-19 tests. In any of these instances, the employees actual exposure and contacts (or lack thereof) would not be accurately and reliably recorded in the app.

The obvious risk with this is the potentially dangerous false sense of security the apps could inadvertently provide where all of an infected employees actual contacts are not notified of exposureor conversely, the false alarm and unnecessary business disruption they could create, if someone is notified of exposure when not really exposed. Keep in mind that most of the apps in the marketplace and being developed would create random identification numbers for users, so there is no reliable way to verify accuracy without an independent investigation. Regardless, employers would generally be relying on employees truthful uploading of information about testing positive.

Of course, verification of reliability and accuracy is only part of the risk. Privacy is, frankly, the bigger consideration.

It is worth mentioning that employers often ask about HIPAA when they consider employee medical information. But, in reality, HIPAA only applies to Covered Entities (i.e., health plan, health care clearinghouse, or health care provider transmitting health information in electronic form with a covered transaction) and Business Associates (i.e., health information organization transmitting PHI to covered entities; person offering personal health records to individuals on behalf of a covered entity; or a subcontractor creating, receiving, maintaining, or transmitting PHI on behalf of another Business Associate). Most employers would not fit the definitions of either of these phrases.

Nevertheless, the EEOC has cautioned that, while employers may ask employees about whether they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and take employee temperatures upon entering the workplace, they must maintain the confidentiality of any information collected regarding employee illnesses and keep any related records for certain periods of time. In the employment context, this means keeping the medical records and information separately from other personnel records and information and limiting access to the same.

In addition to federal EEOC guidance, certain states may have applicable privacy laws as well. For example, California has the Consumer Privacy Act (CPA), for which the California Attorney General just submitted final proposed regulations on June 1, 2020. Under Californias CPA, consumers have various rights pertaining to personal information collected by a business, including a right to disclosure of the information to be collected, deletion (upon request) of the information collected, and to be free from discrimination for exercising these rights. Similarly, the Illinois Biometric Information Protection Act (BIPA) may impose notice and record retention obligations on employees or the app developers themselves. Employers with employees in these and other states with similar laws should therefore ensure these rights are communicated to and permitted to be exercised by employees. Employers should consult their own legal counsel prior to endorsing contract-tracing app use and seek to work with the app developer, where possible, to ensure laws like these are accounted for in the app technology through disclosures, disclaimers, acknowledgments, and consents.

Lastly, and relatedly, a lot of individuals, companies, and governments are racing to develop contact tracing apps. So, employers may have to make a difficult decision on which app by which developer is most appropriate. With this decision comes the consideration of the risk of choosing incorrectly and inadvertently opening employee information to data mining or scams.

In light of these risks and the current lack of federal law pertaining to the apps, there is some effort in Congress to manage the use. In early June, several Senators introduced a bipartisan bill, called the Exposure Notification Privacy Act, that would regulate the use of contact tracing apps. Among other things, the bill makes participation in the exposure notification systems voluntary, limits the categories of information collected, limits the use of the same, and contains various enforcement provisions. The full text of the bill can be viewed here, and a one-pager summarizing the bill can be viewed here.

Other partisan groups of Senators have introduced related legislation as well, including the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act (Republican) and the Public Health Emergency Privacy Act (Democrat). There are significant differences between the three bills in terms of consent, use, and enforcement, and the bipartisan Exposure Notification Privacy Act is certainly narrower in its approach to these issues. However, it is currently unclear how or whether those differences will be resolved. Employers should therefore monitor this sort of federal legislation in addition to staying on top of local and state requirements as well.

For its part, the CDC has published some general guidance on digital contact tracing tools. The CDC suggests that the tools should, among other things, ensure data is secure and confidential, be able to receive input from public health authorities, facilitate identification of known contacts, and be able to send notifications of exposure in multiple electronic formats. While these guidelines currently appear to be geared towards use of digital tools by public health departments, the tenets outlined are worth noting and considering because they are generally consistent with best practices for employers using the apps.

In light of the above considerations, if an employer implements a contact tracing app in the workplace, the employer should do at least the following:

In this way, employers will be best suited to manage the various risks associated with the use of contact tracing apps.

[View source.]

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Employer Use of Contact Tracing Apps: The Good, the Bad, and the Regulatory - JD Supra

People In Melb’s Locked Towers Are Sharing Their Situation On TikTok – Pedestrian TV

Dekas North Melbourne apartment block was shut down without warning last Saturday. The 17-year-old was at work when her phone suddenly blew up with missed calls from friends and family.

Her building was one of the nine towers locked down by police due to a surge in coronavirus cases. After finally getting home, making TikToks was the last thing on her mind, but when when she saw what narrative was being painted by outsiders, she started uploading.

I thought, you know what, let me just say what Ive got to say, Deka told PEDESTRIAN.TV.

TikTok has a way of getting things out to people compared to other social media platforms.

Being stuck at home all day, her videos cover everything from from showing how rough her situation is, to answering peoples questions on camera, and even just making memes out of all the chaos.

While plenty of residents, as well as their friends and family, have been posting updates about the massive police presence and lack of essential goods on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, many of these posts havent gained too much traction outside of their immediate circles.

Thats not the case on TikTok, where the mysterious algorithms of the For You page spread new and interesting videos like wildfire.

Watching the news is something different to what Im actually experiencing, she added.

By making the TikToks, Im controlling what I post so I get to show what Im actually experiencing.

The response has been massive. In the space of a few says, Deka has gotten thousands of likes and followers, and even had to disable comments because she was getting too many notifications.

Theres been a lot of support but theres also been a lot of hate, but the hate doesnt even get to me I just use it for new TikTok ideas, she said.

Shes not the only one, either. Other TikTokers trapped inside the towers have gotten as much as 400,000 views on their videos explaining the situation.

Just because we have less privilege does not mean we have no human rights, one user said in a video.

The main point Deka and many others want to drive home is the shitty food situation. She said her family has received nothing from the DHHS and was only able to get donated food from local volunteer group AMSSA after waiting for two days.

While the community has stepped up massively with food donations, police initially stopped volunteers from entering the buildings with the food. One volunteer was even arrested earlier in the week.

In response to one person asking where they could donate to in the comments, Deka made a video explaining that while the foods important, she and many others are way more concerned about being able to leave their own building.

I wanted these TikToks to show that we want an opportunity to go shopping for ourselves, because its hard calling other people, she told P.TV.

Id prefer to go to the shops myself and get the stuff I need.

Now that the rest of Melbourne has gone back into Stage 3 lockdown, videos like this are more important than ever to show how different communities are still being treated by the state government.

A lot of people also have been commenting on my videos like, were all going into lockdown today anyway, so why are you complaining?' Deka said.

But its not the same lockdown because they can go out for essentials, they can go an exercise, they can work and study.

They also had a day to prepare.

Nobodys certain when residents will be able to leave the towers again. Until then, Deka says shell keep making TikToks to show what things are really like.

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People In Melb's Locked Towers Are Sharing Their Situation On TikTok - Pedestrian TV

Exclusive: Lachy Wiggle and James Harkness Dish On The Wiggles World – Moms

Finding new stuff to keep our little ones entertained is getting harder the longer we're home. Many of us parents are relying more heavily on screentime to get us through, but even then, trying to find new stuff can be a challenge. Thankfully, we have The Wiggles and their stream of constant content. If you're looking for something new, they're uploading clips from their latest show The Wiggles World to their YouTube channel for us.

The show, which was available previously only in Australia, is a new creation of the super group. Filmed back in 2019, it's a completely new series that introduces some new faces but still has the same Wiggles flavor. Moms.com was lucky enough to talk to Lachlan Gillespie (aka Lachy Wiggle) and the star of their new segment 'Le James Cafe,' James Harkness about the flair of this new world they've created.

"There's so much color there's so much singing and dancing and it's a really nice statement," Lachy says of The Wiggles World.

In The Wiggles World, kids get to get to visit 'Le James Cafe' along with The Wiggles to learn about new foods and cultures through their signature blend of song and dance.

"James's cafe segments are a different food each day," Lachy explains. "So the child has to go through that with one Wiggle sitting at the cafe and work out the clues for what food you're going to be served up. What's the meal of the day."

Like much of their content, this was all the brainchild of the blue Wiggle himself, Anthony Feld. Anthony is the founding member of the group, who have been ground for almost 30 years! Educating kids is the driving force of their content, and it's a passion for Anthony.

"I think it's one of the great strengths of Anthony. His big thing is letting children have an experience with in so many different cultures and languages," Lachy explained.

One of the easiest ways to expand kids' world is to introduce new people. The Wiggles have created quite a little universe in itself, but this new series introduces us to new people like James, Australian ballet dancer Paul Knobloch, who plays the cafe's waiter, Shirley Shaun the Unicorn and the cartoon Wiggles!

Lachy was really excited about the addition of the new folks, but especially getting to work with James on the cafe segments' music and vision. "It's just a really, really great experience to work with someone talented like that," he says.

But who is the proprietor of 'Le James Cafe'? James Harkness is an American stage actor, known for his performances on Broadway. In the fall of 2018 while on a tour stop in Toronto, The Wiggles caught a performance of Ain't Too Proud: The Life and Time of The Temptations, in which James stars as Paul Williams. Anthony Field was so inspired by the performance, he began a friendship with James via Instagram.

"I didn't know who The Wiggles were," he explains. "But I was like, well, this is actually really cool. And it's educational."

As Anthony was developing the idea for The Wiggles World, he knew that James would fit perfectly into this new world. James posts a variety of things on his Instagram, including his love of music, dance and food.

"[Anthony says] 'I see, I know you love food, and I have this idea. Would you be interested in coming to Australia?'" James explained.

RELATED:EXCLUSIVE: Anthony Wiggle Talks All Things Potty With 'The Toilet Song'

A veteran of the entertainment business, James was aware that sometimes things don't play out the way they seem. So his excitement at the prospect of working with The Wiggles was tempered with the reality that it might not actually happen.

But then he explained that a few days after their initial conversation, Anthony called back to set up James's trip. Because of his Broadway work schedule, they had to cram two weeks' worth of work into five days. But he was up for the challenge.

"I was actually really nervous about it because they're a big entity. And I'm like 'you are, you are putting a lot of faith in someone you don't know'," James said.

But Anthony knows what he's doing. The process creating the 'Le James Cafe' segments were incredibly collaborative, giving James the chance to share his songwriting skills and offer them to the group.

"I would say,' hey, do you think' and each time he would go, 'hey, yeah, that's great.' And the third time, there was a little bit more of a in his voice to let me know, I trust you. This is a collaboration. You do your thing, and we are going to come to the table and create something that is going to be really cool. And that was an incredible things in experience."

With The Wiggles World, Anthony knew that he wanted to expand on the normal Wiggles crew. His inclusion of James was intentional, and not just for his overwhelming talent, which would have been more than enough. Inclusion was at the front of his mind too.

"He was like, 'I want kids, not only in my country, but in other countries to see other skin types, and to know that they can look at the TV screen and go: Hey, that guy looks like me'," James explained.

In the first 'James Cafe' segment posted on YouTube, you can see that inclusion is important to The Wiggles. There are dancers of various races, showcasing different styles of dance. Anthony and The Wiggles have always been great about presenting kids with that diversity, but it's nice to see, especially as the conversation about diversity is really taking front and center.

"He wants, kids across the world that are Wiggles fans to see that there is a lot more out there in the world," James says.

Right now The Wiggles World is only available in full in Australia, but they'll be adding new video clips to their YouTube channel in the coming weeks, so keep checking back.

READ NEXT:EXCLUSIVE: Anthony Wiggle Talks His Three Year Health Battle, And The Wiggles' Upcoming US Tour

Raven-Symon On Her Struggles Of Coming Out In The Entertainment Industry

Sa'iyda Shabazz is a mom and freelance writer who lives in Los Angeles. She is a pop culture fanatic who loves to cook and bake in her spare time. She is also a writer for Scary Mommy, and has had written for sites including, HelloGiggles, The New York Times and the Washington Post. She graduated with a degree in Theatre Studies before deciding that she wanted to trade the stage for the page. Find her on Twitter:@xoxsai or on Facebook: Sa'iyda Shabazz, Writer.

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Exclusive: Lachy Wiggle and James Harkness Dish On The Wiggles World - Moms


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