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The Monday 6 - August 30, 2021

The Monday 6
Hi there, friend.
It’s been a bit hectic of a week, so my apologies for this hitting your inbox a bit later in the day.
The platform I use for this newsletter (Revue, owned by Twitter) was kind enough to feature The Monday 6 in their weekly newsletter. Cool!
Here are this week’s 6:

1. COVID-19 Status Update
The Delta variant is no joke, and with so many yet to be vaccinated and the increased breakthrough infection rate in the vaccinated, it feels like we’ve collectively taken a few steps back.
I’m more convinced than ever (as are others) that COVID will not vanish but just be another risk we all need to live with collectively. “C” below aligns with many of my thoughts here.
Sharing 3 pieces I’ve read recently, a bit outside of the normal news you’ve likely already heard or read about the current state of the pandemic.
A. UK kicks off the first human challenge trials of COVID-19
From The Wall Street Journal, emphasis mine:
Researchers in the U.K. have deliberately infected 30 volunteers with the virus that causes Covid-19, in the first human challenge study of the disease. Infecting the volunteers—who are healthy, unvaccinated and range in age from 18 to 30—will allow the scientists to observe in real time how the virus attacks the body and, from the moment of exposure, how the immune system responds.
Many have decried human challenge trials as inherently unethical. I, for one, think they’re collectively a great idea.
Unlike Clinical Trials, New Covid-19 Study Needed Only a Few Volunteers - WSJ
B. Does prior infection offer durable immunity?
The major caveat here is that this study from Israel is still awaiting peer review, but the implications would be big if confirmed. From Bloomberg:
People who recovered from a bout of Covid-19 during one of the earlier waves of the pandemic appear to have a lower risk of contracting the delta variant than those who got two doses of the vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE.
The largest real-world analysis comparing natural immunity – gained from an earlier infection – to the protection provided by one of the most potent vaccines currently in use showed that reinfections were much less common. The paper from researchers in Israel contrasts with earlier studies, which showed that immunizations offered better protection than an earlier infection, though those studies were not of the delta variant. 
I’ve seen 2 reactions to this, both of which seem motivated more by prior beliefs than anything else:
  1. You read this and are immediately skeptical, and people who’ve been infected before should still get vaccinated.
  2. You read this and use it to justify why vaccines should not be mandated or maybe even recommended.
To be clear, I am in camp #1. BUT, if the results of this study are confirmed, this is hard to see as anything other than good news. Very morbidly, we’re simply running out of bodies for this virus to touch.
More likely than not, we’re all getting exposed to this virus at some point; you can either be very provably protected (via vaccination) or not. If this study is confirmed, either path you choose (and assuming you survive round 1), you should be pretty okay when you reencounter the virus. That’s a good thing.
Previous Covid Prevents Delta Infection Better Than Pfizer Shot - Bloomberg
C. COVID will be around forever, won’t it?
M.G. Siegler isn’t an epidemiologist nor virologist, but his rather sobering and realistic take on his blog stuck with me:
So we move on. We keep living and some people, sadly, keep dying. But it’s hard to see a legitimate alternative at this point. We won’t force vaccinations. And the rules and recommendations about masks and everything else can only cause so much whiplash. We have grown collectively, if not comfortably numb. COVID is never going to end, the best we can hope is that it morphs over time into a truly benign disease. And we live with it just as we do with so many others.
Worth a read.
The Common COVID by M.G. Siegler
2. Mesmerizing Picture Of The Milky Way
We’re just a hurtling through space on this tiny rock. Beautiful.
Sky-stabilized Milky Way timelapse. Captured by Eric Brummel in August 2016.
Sky-stabilized Milky Way timelapse. Captured by Eric Brummel in August 2016.
3. In Wisconsin, They Just Put Cows In Buicks
No further commentary needed.
Only in Wisconsin: Cow spotted in drive-thru lane at McDonald's in Marshfield
Only in Wisconsin: Cow spotted in drive-thru lane at McDonald's in Marshfield
4. Get A Travel Router
If you travel to any modest degree, I recommend getting a travel router. Link to the one I use below. Here are a few reasons why:
  1. Improved security. This is especially true if wherever you travel has completely open WiFi. Creating your own sub-network helps shield you from any bad actors that could be attacking the public network.
  2. Better performance. This is especially true if your hotel/Airbnb offers an ethernet cable.
  3. Bypass login gateways. When you join some public WiFi networks, you know you need to enter in your email/press connect/whatever? You need to do this just once on the router directly and not worry about it again with a travel router.
  4. Run a VPN directly on the router. If you want/prefer to use a VPN for privacy or geo-location reasons (aka watch Netflix while abroad), you can do so.
  5. Bring along a Chromecast/FireTV/etc. Most streaming dongles are super portable but often have issues with login gateways, rendering them useless even if there’s WiFi at your place. With your own network, however, then run just as they normally would.
I’ve had a travel router for a couple of years and have been served well by the GLI GL-AR750S model (Amazon). It’s $69 minus an $8 off coupon right now.
GL.iNet Gigabit Travel Router
5. AI Is Now Writing Code
Last week I shared how AI is starting to create art. Well, OpenAI also released what they’re called OpenAI Codex, which will translate human-readable text directly to code in many programming languages.
In this demo below, some of the engineers on the team do a live demonstration of OpenAI Codex creating a rudimentary game, just from some bits of English telling the AI what to do.
Incredibly impressive.
OpenAI Codex Live Demo
OpenAI Codex Live Demo
6. A Clock Made Of Clocks
I have to admit this looks pretty cool, but I’d be super frustrated to have to stare at the damn thing for half a minute actually to know what time it is.
A clock made of clocks. A digital clock made of analogs 🕥
A clock made of clocks. A digital clock made of analogs 🕥
That’s it for this week. If you found anything useful or fun, let me know! And if you have any suggestions, shoot them my way. 😊 See you next week!
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Kyle Petzinger
Kyle Petzinger @kylepetz

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