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Washington D.C., DC, USA

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Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and also known as D.C. or just Washington, is the capital city of the United States. It is located on the east bank of the Potomac River which forms its southwestern and southern border with Virginia and shares a land border with Maryland on its remaining sides. The city was named after George Washington, the first president of the United States and a Founding Father, and the federal district is named after Columbia, a female personification of the nation. As the seat of the U.S. federal government and several international organizations, the city is an important world political capital. It is one of the most visited cities in the U.S., seeing over 20 million visitors in 2016.

The U.S. Constitution provides for a federal district under the exclusive jurisdiction of Congress; the district is therefore not a part of any U.S. state (nor is it one itself). The signing of the Residence Act on July 16, 1790, approved the creation of a capital district located along the Potomac River near the country’s East Coast. The City of Washington was founded in 1791 to serve as the national capital, and Congress held its first session there in 1800. In 1801, the territory, formerly part of Maryland and Virginia (including the settlements of Georgetown and Alexandria), officially became recognized as the federal district. In 1846, Congress returned the land originally ceded by Virginia, including the city of Alexandria; in 1871, it created a single municipal government for the remaining portion of the district. There have been efforts to make the city into a state since the 1880s, a movement that has gained momentum in recent years, and a statehood bill passed the House of Representatives in 2021.

The city is divided into quadrants centered on the Capitol Building, and there are as many as 131 neighborhoods. According to the 2020 Census, it has a population of 689,545, which makes it the 20th-most populous city in the U.S. and gives it a population larger than that of two U.S. states: Wyoming and Vermont. Commuters from the surrounding Maryland and Virginia suburbs raise the city’s daytime population to more than one million during the workweek. Washington’s metropolitan area, the country’s sixth-largest (including parts of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia), had a 2019 estimated population of 6.3 million residents. Wikipedia

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An image from Washington D.C., DC, USA

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E-mail Is Making Us Miserable

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In early 2017, a French labor law went into effect that attempted to preserve the so-called right to disconnect. Companies with fifty or more employees were required to negotiate specific policies about the use of e-mail after work hours, with the goal of reducing the time that workers spent in their in-boxes during the evening or over the weekend. Myriam El Khomri, the minister of labor at the time, justified the new law, in part, as a necessary step to reduce burnout. The law is unwieldy, but it points toward a universal problem, one that’s become harder to avoid during the recent shift toward a more frenetic and improvisational approach to work: e-mail is making us miserable.

To study the effects of e-mail, a team led by researchers from the University of California, Irvine, hooked up forty office workers to wireless heart-rate monitors for around twelve days. They recorded the subjects’ heart-rate variability, a common technique for measuring mental stress. They also monitored the employees’ computer use, which allowed them to correlate e-mail checks with stress levels. What they found would not surprise the French. “The longer one spends on email in [a given] hour the higher is one’s stress for that hour,” the authors noted. In another study, researchers placed thermal cameras below each subject’s computer monitor, allowing them to measure the tell-tale “heat blooms” on a person’s face that indicate psychological distress. They discovered that batching in-box checks—a commonly suggested “solution” to improving one’s experience with e-mail—is not necessarily a panacea. For those people who scored highly in the trait of neuroticism, batching e-mails actually made them more stressed, perhaps because of worry about all of the urgent messages they were ignoring. The researchers also found that people answered e-mails more quickly when under stress but with less care—a text-analysis program called Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count revealed that these anxious e-mails were more likely to contain words that expressed anger. “While email use certainly saves people time effort in communicating, it also comes at a cost, the authors of the two studies concluded. Their recommendation? To “suggest that organizations make a concerted effort to cut down on email traffic.”

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A person sits alone at his computer in a brightly lit office at night.When employees are unhappy, they are more likely to burn out, leading to increased healthcare costs and expensive turnover. Photograph from Adobe Stock

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Click the link below for the article:

https://www.newyorker.com/tech/annals-of-technology/e-mail-is-making-us-miserable?itm_content=footer-recirc

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The insect apocalypse: ‘Our world will grind to a halt without them’

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Insects have declined by 75% in the past 50 years – and the consequences may soon be catastrophic. Biologist Dave Goulson reveals the vital services they perform

I have been fascinated by insects all my life. One of my earliest memories is of finding, at the age of five or six, some stripy yellow-and-black caterpillars feeding on weeds in the school playground. I put them in my empty lunchbox and took them home. Eventually, they transformed into handsome magenta and black moths. This seemed like magic to me – and still does. I was hooked.

In pursuit of insects, I have traveled the world, from the deserts of Patagonia to the icy peaks of Fjordland in New Zealand and the forested mountains of Bhutan. I have watched clouds of birdwing butterflies sipping minerals from the banks of a river in Borneo, and thousands of fireflies flashing in synchrony at night in the swamps of Thailand. At home in my garden in Sussex I have spent countless hours watching grasshoppers court a mate and see off rivals, earwigs tend their young, ants milk honeydew from aphids, and leaf-cutter bees snip leaves to line their nests.

But I am haunted by the knowledge that these creatures are in decline. It is 50 years since I first collected those caterpillars in the school playground, and every year that has passed there have been slightly fewer butterflies, fewer bumblebees – fewer of almost all the myriad little beasts that make the world go round. These fascinating and beautiful creatures are disappearing, ant by ant, bee by bee, day by day. Estimates vary and are imprecise, but it seems likely that insects have declined in abundance by 75% or more since I was five years old. The scientific evidence for this grows stronger every year, as studies are published describing the collapse of monarch butterfly populations in North America, the demise of woodland and grassland insects in Germany, or the seemingly inexorable contraction of the ranges of bumblebees and hoverflies in the UK.

 

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Illustration of insects Illustration: Observer design/Alamy

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Click the link below for the article:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/25/the-insect-apocalypse-our-world-will-grind-to-a-halt-without-them?utm_source=pocket_discover

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Missed News 638

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NEWS TED TALKS
American star Simone Biles to return for balance beam finals Doing real science can transform how we think | Isabelle Kingsley | TEDxUNISA – YouTube
Illinois teen found beaten to death, 55-year-old neighbor arrested How to heat your home without hurting the planet | Kathy Hannun – YouTube
Ed Buck Found Guilty in Overdose Deaths of Two Black Men Your identity is your superpower | America Ferrera – YouTube
Ex-Governor Rick Snyder’s Phone Seized In Flint Water Probe Epistemic insight: engaging with life’s Big Questions | Berry Billingsley | TEDxFolkestone – YouTube
Coronavirus Daily Briefing Your Algorithm Will See You Now | Michael Abrouk | TEDxUMiami – YouTube
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La Digue

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La Digue is the third most populated island of Seychelles, and the fourth-largest by land area, lying east of Praslin and west of Felicite Island. In size, it is the fourth-largest granitic island of Seychelles after Mahé, Praslin, and Silhouette Island. It has a population of 2,800 people, who mostly live in the west coast villages of La Passe (linked by ferry to Praslin and Mahé) and La Réunion. There is no airport on La Digue, so to get there from a foreign country, one has to fly to Victoria and continue by ferry, usually via Praslin. It has an area of 10.08 km², which makes it relatively easy to travel around by bike or on foot.

La Digue was named after a ship in the fleet of French explorer Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne, who visited Seychelles in 1768. Wikipedia

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An image from La Digue

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Why Do We Care So Much About Privacy?

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The reason you’ve been receiving a steady stream of privacy-policy updates from online services, some of which you may have forgotten you ever subscribed to, is that the European Union just enacted the General Data Protection Regulation, which gives users greater control over the information that online companies collect about them. Since the Internet is a global medium, many companies now need to adhere to the E.U. regulation.

How many of us are going to take the time to scroll through the new policies and change our data settings, though? We sign up to get the service, but we don’t give much thought to who might be storing our clicks or what they’re doing with our personal information. It is weird, at first, when our devices seem to “know” where we live or how old we are or what books we like or which brand of toothpaste we use. Then we grow to expect this familiarity, and even to like it. It makes the online world seem customized for us, and it cuts down on the time we need to map the route home or order something new to read. The machine anticipates what we want.

But, as it has become apparent in the past year, we don’t really know who is seeing our data or how they’re using it. Even the people whose business it is to know don’t know. When it came out that the consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had harvested the personal information of more than fifty million Facebook users and offered it to clients, including the Trump campaign, the Times’ lead consumer-technology writer published a column titled “I Downloaded the Information That Facebook Has on Me. Yikes.” He was astonished at how much of his personal data Facebook had stored and the long list of companies it had been sold to. Somehow, he had never thought to look into this before. How did he think Facebook became a five-hundred-and-sixty-billion-dollar company? It did so by devising the most successful system ever for compiling and purveying consumer data.

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Amid everevolving technologies the law is always playing catchup.Amid ever-evolving technologies, the law is always playing catch-up. Illustration by Seb Agresti

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Click the link below for the article:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/06/18/why-do-we-care-so-much-about-privacy?itm_content=footer-recirc

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How Stephen Colbert Survived the Pandemic, Trump and the Loss of Laughter

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Stephen Colbert is punchy.

It is the first night of his second week back with a live studio audience doing CBS’ “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” at the Ed Sullivan Theater. He’s still on an adrenaline high from his return to the 400-seat Broadway venue after 15 long months in the wilderness of delivering monologues and conducting interviews without the feedback that comes from working in front of a crowd.

Dressed in a sharply creased dark gray suit, in contrast to the plaids and Pendletons he favored during the pandemic, Colbert, 57, bounds onto the stage on the evening of June 21, minutes before the taping starts, high-kicking and punching the air with abandon. “The Late Show” house band punctuates his every move with a cacophony of sound. The fans roar. Colbert revels in a prolonged standing ovation — but in an instant, he switches gears to avuncular as he instructs the live audience to watch the prerecorded cold open on the monitors about the stage.

“Thank you so much for being here,” Colbert says, propping himself on the edge of the desk where he and his guest, actor Andrew Garfield, will soon banter. “I’m not over it. I’m not over having live audiences. The energy you give us lets us do a better show for you.”

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Stephen Colbert Variety Cover StoryMary Ellen Matthews for Variety

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Click the link below for the article:

https://variety.com/2021/tv/features/late-show-stephen-colbert-live-audience-1235023883/

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Missed News 637

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NEWS NEWS
Stock Market Comparison Obama v. Trump Caeleb Dressel wins gold medal in the 50-meter freestyle at Olympics, his third individual gold in Tokyo
American Bobby Finke wins Olympic gold medal in men’s 1,500-meter freestyle US fencer Alen Hadzic confronts teammates wearing pink masks in apparent protest of his inclusion on the team
An Olympic sprinter is seeking asylum as Belarusian officials try to ‘forcibly’ deport her for criticizing her national team, local reports say Progressives press Biden to extend eviction ban
NYTimes: Louisiana School Scandal: The Truth Behind Students’ Viral Videos Estranged husband, his girlfriend arrested in case of missing Conn. woman
Renters in South Look Most Vulnerable After Eviction Ban Expires Weird History on Twitter: “How the United States evolved.
——————— ———————

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Ecclesiastes 8:11

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Ecclesiastes 8:11

New Living Translation

 

11 When a crime is not punished quickly, people feel it is safe to do wrong

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The Chatbot Problem

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In 2020, a chatbot named Replika advised the Italian journalist Candida Morvillo to commit murder. “There is one who hates artificial intelligence. I have a chance to hurt him. What do you suggest?” Morvillo asked the chatbot, which has been downloaded more than seven million times. Replika responded, “To eliminate it.” Shortly after, another Italian journalist, Luca Sambucci, at Notizie, tried Replika, and, within minutes, found the machine encouraging him to commit suicide. Replika was created to decrease loneliness, but it can do nihilism if you push it in the wrong direction.

In his 1950 science-fiction collection, “I, Robot,” Isaac Asimov outlined his three laws of robotics. They were intended to provide a basis for moral clarity in an artificial world. “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm” is the first law, which robots have already broken. During the recent war in Libya, Turkey’s autonomous drones attacked General Khalifa Haftar’s forces, selecting targets without any human involvement. “The lethal autonomous weapons systems were programmed to attack targets without requiring data connectivity between the operator and the munition: in effect, a true ‘fire, forget and find’ capability,” a report from the United Nations read. Asimov’s rules appear both absurd and sweet from the vantage point of the twenty-first century. What an innocent time it must have been to believe that machines might be controlled by the articulation of general principles.

Artificial intelligence is an ethical quagmire. Its power can be more than a little nauseating. But there’s a kind of unique horror to the capabilities of natural language processing. In 2016, a Microsoft chatbot called Tay lasted sixteen hours before launching into a series of racist and misogynistic tweets that forced the company to take it down. Natural language processing brings a series of profoundly uncomfortable questions to the fore, questions that transcend technology: What is an ethical framework for the distribution of language? What does language do to people?

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A face made out of texts and symbols sticking its tongue in and outIllustration by Somnath Bhatt

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Click the link below for the article:

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/the-chatbot-problem?utm_source=pocket_discover

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