Looks like IEEE has finally renamed their sustainable tech conference. Now it’s “IEEE SustainTech Expo.” Not only is it a bit clearer than the old name, but ever since Among Us came out, “SusTech” always made me giggle a bit. I doubt I was the only one.

Update: apparently I was mistaken, and SustainTech is entirely separate from SusTech, which is still going on. Looking at it a bit more, it seems that SustainTech is more of a marketing/trade show, while SusTech continues to be a technical conference.

Found the eclipse glasses from 2017. Checked for scratches. Looks like they’ll be usable for Saturday’s solar eclipse!

It’ll be partial here in California, covering ~78% of the sun’s diameter. The annular shadow passes from Oregon diagonally to Texas, crosses the gulf to Yucatan, then follows Central America and crosses Brazil from west to east at its widest part.

Time and date calculator for when it starts, peaks and ends in your area, and how much of the sun will be covered.

This is fascinating: Researchers looked at variations in the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes of people who had confirmed cases of Covid before the vaccine rollout and also had genetic records on file.

Those with a particular variation were twice as likely to have been asymptomatic.

Having that same variation from both parents made them 8.5 times as likely to have been asymptomatic!

They looked at two more cohorts and found the same results.

And then they looked at T-cells collected before the pandemic, and found that the ones with this allele responded more actively to SARS-COV2, despite never having been exposed to it before. That lends weight to the hypothesis that some people’s immune systems were able to recognize it as similar to more run-of-the-mill coronaviruses.

Next they want to broaden the study more to include people with a wider range of ancestry.

It doesn’t come close to explaining all asymptomatic cases, and they didn’t look at how it might stack with immune responses that are actually targeted at covid (vaccines, prior infections), or whether it also reduces the chances of long-term damage from covid.

But wouldn’t it be great if someone could come up with a supplement based on what this HLA variant produces that’ll cause your immune system to generalize better? Even if it’s just within coronaviruses?

I think there’s been a lot of talking past each other on privacy lately because there are so many layers to it.

Google or Dropbox keeping your cloud files from showing up on someone else’s drive or a public share is one layer. Keeping your data from leaking in a data breach is another. Protecting messages in transit from your device to their service. Google and Meta (Facebook, Instagram, and now Threads) are good at those.

But then there’s ensuring that Google or Meta doesn’t misuse it themselves, or sell it to someone who will.

And, well, to put it mildly, they’re not so big on that aspect!

Continue reading

Imagine a small village near a valley, so isolated that they just call themselves “the people.” One day they find out about another village on the other side of the valley, and they start calling them “the people across the valley.” They can keep talking about “the people,” but sometimes they need to make a distinction: right now, we’re talking about the people on *this* side of the valley, not the people on both sides.

Not incidentally, the Latin prefixes for “this side of” and “the other side of” are cis- and trans-. English uses trans more frequently, as in transport, transform, transmit, transnational etc., all of which involve something crossing a divide. Sometimes it’s quite literal, like the old terms Transjordan and Cisjordan referring to the lands on the far and near sides of the Jordan river. Or more modern terms, like the cis- and trans- forms of a molecule that can have more than one structure. Or in space exploration, translunar space (beyond the moon) and cislunar (including the moon’s orbit and Lagrange points). (Who’s that contractor for the new moon missions, again?)

Come to think of it, the moon’s another good example of the same sort of thing. When we’re just talking about life here on Earth, we can say “the moon” and it’s clear which one we mean. But if we’re talking about the whole solar system, and how Earth’s moon compares to Titan or Europa, we have to specify which one we mean.

So if we’re talking about transgender people and their experience compared to non-transgender people and their experience, the clear term to use based on English grammar is cisgender, and just as transgender is often abbreviated as just “trans,” cisgender is abbreviated as “cis.”

It’s a description, just like “acoustic guitar.” They’re still guitars, but when you need to talk specifically about non-electric guitars vs. electric ones, that’s the term we use.

“Cisgender” or “cis” isn’t a slur, no matter what Twitter’s owner thinks. It’s not casting negative judgement any more than “acoustic” is casting negative judgment against the guitar, or insisting that space on one side of the moon is better than the other.