No, not the Dunning of Kruger fame; Dunning, the community area on the far northwest side of Chicago.
Workers building a new school in the neighborhood discovered that not only was it the former site of a poor house, but also that 38,000 people may be buried there:
“There can be and there have been bodies found all over the place,” said Barry Fleig, a genealogist and cemetery researcher who began investigating the site in 1989. “It’s a spooky, scary place.”
Workers have until April 27 to excavate and clear the site, remediate the soil and relocate an existing sewer line. The school is scheduled to open in time for the 2019-20 academic year, though a spokesperson for Chicago Public Schools would not say what type of school it will be.
Fleig said he’s “nearly certain” there are no intact caskets buried underneath the proposed school grounds — bodies were primarily buried in two formal cemeteries, though scattered human remains have been discovered during previous construction projects near the campus.
In 1854, the county opened a poorhouse and farm and gradually added an insane asylum, infirmary and tuberculosis hospital to the property. At its peak, a thousand people were buried on the grounds each year.
The state took over in 1912 and changed the official name to Chicago State Hospital. Buildings were shuttered in 1970 and operations moved west of Oak Park Avenue to what is now Chicago-Read Mental Health Center.
In 1854, the site would have been a few hours' ride from the city. So I'm glad to see that the American tradition of dumping the poor in places where they can't possible thrive was as strong then as now. I'm a little shocked that a pauper's cemetery acquired so many corpses in sixty years, though.
In addition to crapping on the norms of office that have kept our Republic functioning for centuries, the Trump Administration has lowered the bar for standard written English in politics:
Amid all the chaos in the White House — including West Wing personnel drama, the Stormy Daniels scandal and Mueller’s Russia investigation — some wayward spellings and inaccurate honorifics might seem minor. But the constant small mistakes — which have dogged the Trump White House since the president’s official Inauguration Day poster boasted that “no challenge is to great” — have become, critics say, symbolic of the larger problems with Trump’s management style, in particular his lack of attention to detail and the carelessness with which he makes policy decisions.
On Monday, for example, the White House rolled out an executive order from Trump aimed at cutting off U.S. investment in Venezuela’s digital currency as a way to pinch strongman Nicolás Maduro’s regime. But in the headline on the public news release, the White House wrote that Trump was taking action to “address the situation in America.”
“Freudian slip????” wondered Rosiland Jordan, a reporter for Al Jazeera.
Liz Allen, who served as White House deputy communications director under President Barack Obama, said in an interview that the press office under the 44th president sought to be as rigorous as possible. Releases typically were proofread for accuracy and content by at least four or five people. Announcements that dealt with domestic policy issues and foreign affairs were vetted by experts at federal agencies and the National Security Council, she said.
“We felt a burden and responsibility to get it right,” Allen said. “We were acutely aware of the integrity of our platform. We took it seriously. No one should meet a higher bar than the White House. They are the ultimate voice.”
Read through to the punchline.
But Allen makes the main point, I think. The Administration's written communications reflect a deeper antipathy to "getting it right." They just don't care. And our allies and adversaries alike have noticed.
About a year ago, a number of American diplomats and their families in Cuba were injured by what our military speculated might be a sonic weapon. A sonic weapon directs sonic energy at a target to disable, but not necessarily permanently damage, the person. Over a few months, people reported "blaring, grinding noise," hearing loss, speech problems, nausea, disequilibrium...exactly what a sonic weapon could cause.
Via Bruce Schneier, a team at the University of Michigan working in association with the IEEE has published a paper speculating on the variety of weapon how it might have worked:
On the face of it, it seems impossible. For one thing, ultrasonic frequencies—20 kilohertz or higher—are inaudible to humans, and yet the sounds heard by the diplomats were obviously audible. What’s more, those frequencies don’t propagate well through air and aren’t known to cause direct harm to people except under rarefied conditions. Acoustic experts dismissed the idea that ultrasound could be at fault.
Then, about six months ago, an editor from The Conversation sent us a link to a video from the Associated Press, reportedly recorded in Cuba during one of the attacks.
To make the problem tractable, we began by assuming that the source of the audible sounds in Cuba was indeed ultrasonic. Reviewing the OSHA guidance, Fu theorized that the sound came from the audible subharmonics of inaudible ultrasound. In contrast to harmonics, which are produced at integer multiples of a sound’s fundamental frequency, subharmonics are produced at integer divisors (or submultiples) of the fundamental frequency, such as 1/2 or 1/3. For instance, the second subharmonic of an ultrasonic 20-kHz tone is a clearly audible 10 kHz. Subharmonics didn’t quite explain the AP video, though: In the video, the spectral plot indicates tones evenly spaced every 180 Hz, whereas subharmonics would have appeared at progressively smaller fractions of the original frequency. Such a plot would not have the constant 180-Hz spacing.
Of course, to this day, no one knows exactly why the attacks occurred, and even to say "attacks" makes a reasonable but not certain assumption.
Crain's reported yesterday on the latest business-school rankings from US News and World Report. University of Chicago tied with Harvard at the top spot and Northwestern landed at #6:
The magazine labels its ranking a year in advance, so this is the 2019 list. While it started the rankings in 1990, it has historical data reaching back only to 1994, but it was confident this was the first No. 1 showing for Booth.
“The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business tied for No. 1 this year due to its strong placement data, meaning it had the highest percentage of employed students at graduation and, among the very top ranked schools, the highest percentage of graduates employed three months after graduation,” Robert Morse, the magazine’s chief data strategist, said in a statement. “The mean starting salary and bonus of Booth graduates was one of the highest among top schools.”
Duke dropped to #11 in the full-time rankings, but stayed at #5 in the Executive MBA list.
I expect they care more about this in Durham than I do here in Chicago.
Late afternoon on Tuesday, with so much to do before the end of the week, I can only hope actually to read these articles that have passed through my inbox today:
And now for something completely different tonight: Improv and Arias. Which is why I wonder whether I'll actually get to read all of the articles I just posted about.
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, The Daily Parker will participate in this year's Blogging A-to-Z Challenge. Today's the official Theme Reveal day. My topic will be: Programming Concepts using Microsoft C# .NET.
My topics will include:
- Compilers vs Interpreters
- Human factors (and errors)
...and will finish with a real-world practical example on April 30th.
I will also keep up my annoying political and Parker posts through April. And, full disclosure, many of the 26 A-to-Z posts will be technical and more involved than just linking to a Washington Post article. Because of that, and because I want a consistent publication cadence, I'm going to write them ahead of time, even if it's just the night before.
A-to-Z posts will start at noon UTC (7am Chicago time) on April 1st and continue through the 30th, with Sundays off. You can find them directly through their A-to-Z Tag. Enjoy!
The New York Times last week suggested that people who sleep with their dogs sleep just as well as those whose dogs sleep elsewhere:
The dogs wore a device called a Fitbark, an activity tracker that attaches to the collar and records whether an animal is at rest and sleeping or active and at play. The people wore an Actiwatch 2, an activity monitor that records people’s movements and whether they are sleeping soundly or not. Both monitors were set to sample movement every minute, while the humans also kept a sleep diary.
Over seven days of testing, the researchers found that with a dog in the bedroom, both the humans and the dogs slept reasonably well. Humans had a mean sleep efficiency, or the percentage of time spent asleep while in bed, of 81 percent, while dogs had a sleep efficiency of 85 percent. Levels over 80 percent are generally considered satisfactory. People slept slightly better when the dog was off the bed; dogs slept the same whether they were on the bed or in another location in the bedroom.
Dr. Carlo Siracusa, a veterinarian and the director of animal behavioral science at Penn Vet in Philadelphia, added that a dog sleeping in the same room or bed with humans won’t make Sparky think he’s top dog. “Dogs can distinguish between the relationship with its human fellows and other dogs, and the way in which they regulate their interactions with humans in the house is not trying to establish a hierarchy,” he said.
First, don't think for a moment that I haven't considered getting a Fitbark for Parker. I've always been curious what he does at day camp; I suspect he sleeps about 90% of the time.
Second, no matter how well Parker sleeps, there are sometimes days like last Thursday when he woke up with an urgent matter that he immediately discussed with the bedroom floor, even though I could have gotten him outside in seconds had he asked.
An article in this month's Atlantic points out that we humans can wonder how we got here only because we got here:
After all, there are 100-mile impact craters on our planet’s surface from the past billion years, but no 600-mile craters. But of course, there couldn’t be scars this big. On worlds where such craters exist, there is no one around afterward to ponder them. In a strange way, truly gigantic craters don’t appear on the planet’s surface because we’re here to look for them. Just as the wounds of the returning planes could reflect only the merely survivable, so too for our entire planet’s history. It could be that we’ve been shielded from these existential threats by our very existence.
“Observer selection effects are really the kind of effects where the data you get is going to be dependent, in some sense, on survival, or that you as an observer exist,” [Anders Sandberg, a senior research fellow at University of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute] says. “Now this gets really interesting and scary when we apply it to our own survival.”
“Maybe the universe is super dangerous and Earth-like planets are destroyed at a very high rate,” Sandberg says. “But if the universe is big enough, then when observers do show up on some very, very rare planets, they’ll look at the record of meteor impacts and disasters and say, ‘The universe looks pretty safe!’ But the problem is, of course, that their existence depends on them being very, very lucky. They’re actually living in an unsafe universe and next Tuesday they might get a very nasty surprise.”
If this is true, it might explain why our radio telescopes have reported only a stark silence from our cosmic neighborhood. Perhaps we’re truly extreme oddballs, held aloft by a near-impossible history—one free from lifeless water world.
We see this on smaller scales when, for example, extremely lucky people start to think they succeeded entirely because of their own efforts. But that's a different topic. Sort of.
In the last seven days, these things have happened:
Can't wait to see what the next week will bring...
Saturday and Sunday, the Apollo Chorus sang Verdi's "Requiem" three times in its entirety (one dress rehearsal, two performances), not including going back over specific passages before Sunday's performance to clean up some bits. So I'm a little tired.
Here are some of the things I haven't had time to read yet:
Other stuff is going on, which I'll report when I have confirmation.