Improvised filtration devices

I knew I had encountered a list of filtration efficiencies for a number of materials. The point was that in a contamination episode, you had access to any number of improvised filters that were better than nothing. I finally found a book of the handouts for my Physics 468-B class decades ago, and lo and behold!

Respiratory protection provided by common household and personal items against aerosols of 1 to 5 µ particle size

Item# of thicknessesResistance: mm H2O# of ObservationsEfficiency, Geometric mean99% confidence, lower99% confidence, upper
Handkerchief, man’s cotton16363294.292.6395.5
Toilet paper3133291.489.892.8
Handkerchief, man’s cotton8183288.985.591.6
Handkerchief, man’s cottoncrumpled3288.185.190.5
Bath towel, Turkish2113285.183.386.8
Bath towel, Turkish153073.970.778.8
Bed sheet, muslin122327268.874.9
Bath towel, Turkish1 (wet)33170.26872.3
Shirt, cotton1 (wet)>150 (a)1565.957.972.3
Shirt, cotton273065.560.869.6
Handkerchief, woman’s cotton4 (wet)84 (a)326357.358.7
Handkerchief, man’s cotton1 (wet)98 (a)3062.65767.5
Dress material, cotton1 (wet)180 (a)3156.349.662
Handkerchief, woman’s cotton4 (wet)23255.552.258.7
Slip, rayon16325046.253.6
Dress material, cotton153147.641.453.2
Shirt, cotton133234.62939.9
Handkerchief, man’s cotton123227.52232.5

(a) Resistance obtained when checked immediately after hand wringing. This resistance began to decrease after about one minute when the material started to dry.

I’m not sure of the original source. It may be an old version of an OSSHA handbook.

Who Would Google Vote For?

Study: Google bias in search results; 40% lean left or liberal

Source

[snip]

In order to assess how fairly search engine results portray political candidates and controversial issues, we collected over 1,200 URLs ranking highly in Google.com for politically-charged keywords such as “gun control”, “abortion”, “TPP”, and “Black Lives Matter”. Each URL was then assessed for political slant by politically active individuals from both the left and right. Finally, we used CanIRank’s SEO software to analyze how each URL compared in dozens of different ranking factors to determine whether Google’s algorithm treated websites similarly regardless of their political slant.

Among our key findings were that top search results were almost 40% more likely to contain pages with a “Left” or “Far Left” slant than they were pages from the right. Moreover, 16% of political keywords contained no right-leaning pages at all within the first page of results.

Our analysis of the algorithmic metrics underpinning those rankings suggests that factors within the Google algorithm itself may make it easier for sites with a left-leaning or centrist viewpoint to rank higher in Google search results compared to sites with a politically conservative viewpoint.

[snip]

In our sample set of over 2,000 search results, we found that searchers are 39% more likely to be presented information with a left-leaning bias than they are information from the right.

But for some keywords, the search results are even more egregious. Does it make sense, for example, that someone researching “Republican platform” should be presented only the official text of the platform and seven left-leaning results highly critical of that platform, with zero results supporting it?

For other controversial keywords like “minimum wage”, “abortion,” “NAFTA”, “Iraq war”, “campaign finance reform”, “global warming”, “marijuana legalization”, and “tpp”, no right-leaning websites are to be found among the top results.

Search results for keywords like “Hillary Clinton seizures” and “Hillary Clinton sick”, on the other hand, were dominated by right-leaning websites and YouTube footage.

The proportion of results with a left-leaning bias increased for top ranking results, which typically receive the majority of clicks. For example, we found that search results denoted as demonstrating a left or far left slant received 40% more exposure in the top 3 ranking spots than search results considered to have a right or far right political slant.

[snip]

Lots of really good comments, and the author hangs around to respond.

A shortage of jobs?

One of the things people like to fret about is that with automation, artificial intelligence, and so on, there will be a shortage of jobs. In fact I’ve been seeing essays worrying about such a shortage for three decades now, and I’m sure there were plenty before then.

Don Boudreaux has a contrary view:

Strictly speaking, there will always be jobs to do as long as humans have unfulfilled desires and demands.

If you imagine a future where no one has to work, it’s because it’s a future where everyone’s needs are met. If all your needs are met, whether it’s by Autofac, the Krell machine, or an army of robot slaves, do you really care if you have a job?

By the way, “all your needs” would have to include the human need for meaning in life.  “All” means “all”.

Net Neutrality – Where is the problem?

From City Journal:

Who’s Really Censoring the Web?

Net neutrality advocates have it backwards.
Aaron M. Renn
November 29, 2017

Major Silicon Valley companies and their supporters are outraged that the FCC is poised to repeal the Obama administration’s so-called net neutrality regulations—but if anyone should be subject to regulation in the name of preserving a free Internet, it’s them. As FCC chairman Ajit Pai put it, Silicon Valley social-media giants like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube “are a much bigger actual threat to an open Internet than broadband providers, especially when it comes to discrimination on the basis of viewpoint.”

In 1996, Congress passed the Telecom Act to establish regulations for the dawning Internet era. Rather than treating Internet service providers, or ISPs—companies, like Verizon or Comcast, that provide the web service in your home or office—as it had treated the telephone company, Congress decided that ISPs should be exempt from the regulatory morass. An ISP was classified as an “information service.” Under the Obama administration, the FCC, looking to ensure “net neutrality,” reclassified ISPs as telecom providers.

The basic idea of net neutrality makes sense. When I get a phone, the phone company can’t decide whom I can call, or how good the call quality should be depending on who is on the other end of the line. Similarly, when I pay for my cable modem, I should be able to use the bandwidth I paid for to surf any website, not get a better or worse connection depending on whether my cable company cut some side deal to make Netflix perform better than Hulu.

The problem for net neutrality advocates is that the ISPs aren’t actually doing any of this; they really are providing an open Internet, as promised. The same is not true of the companies pushing net neutrality, however. As Pai suggests, the real threat to an open Internet doesn’t come from your cable company but from Google/YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and others. All these firms have aggressively censored.

For example, Google recently kicked would-be Twitter competitor Gab out of its app store, not for anything Gab did but for what it refused to do—censor content. Twitter is famous for censoring, as Pai observes. “I love Twitter, and I use it all the time,” he said. “But let’s not kid ourselves; when it comes to an open Internet, Twitter is part of the problem. The company has a viewpoint and uses that viewpoint to discriminate.” (Twitter’s censors have not gotten around to removing the abuse, some of it racist, being hurled at Pai, including messages like “Die faggot die” and “Hey go fuck yourself you Taliban-looking fuck.”)

Google’s YouTube unit also censors, setting the channel for Prager University to restricted mode, which limits access; Prager U. is suing Google and YouTube. YouTube has also “demonetized” videos from independent content creators, making these videos ineligible for advertising, their main source of revenue. Much of the complaining about censorship has come from political conservatives, but they’re not the only victims. The problem is broad-based.

Yet sometimes Silicon Valley giants have adopted a see-no-evil approach to certain kinds of content. Facebook, for instance, has banned legitimate content but failed to stop Russian bots from going wild during last year’s presidential election, planting voluminous fake news stories. Advertisers recently started fleeing YouTube when reports surfaced that large numbers of child-exploitation videos were showing up on supposedly kid-friendly channels. One account, ToyFreaks, had 8 million subscribers—making it the 68th most-viewed YouTube channel—before the company shut it down. It’s not credible that YouTube didn’t know what was happening on a channel with millions of viewers. Other channels and videos featured content from pedophiles. More problems turned up within the last week. A search for “How do I . . . ” on YouTube returned numerous auto-complete suggestions involving sex with children. Others have found a whole genre of “guess her age” videos, with preview images, printed in giant fonts, saying things like, “She’s only 9!” The videos may or may not have involved minors—I didn’t watch them—but at minimum, they trade on pedophilic language to generate views.

And yet, these are the same companies—censoring anodyne political channels like Prager University, while letting their sites be used for child exploitation and Russian propaganda—that want to lecture the FCC on net neutrality. Silicon Valley companies want to regulate ISPs even as they continue to benefit from their own special legislative exemptions from regulation and liability—including Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects companies like YouTube from liability for the content posted on their sites.

It should come as no surprise that another key net neutrality backer is the porn industry. Pornographic videos at “tube” sites like PornHub generate massive traffic and eat up tons of bandwidth. It would be entirely appropriate for ISPs to put these sites at the bottom of the priority list for network traffic, or make them pay up. Valid reasons exist to prioritize one kind of traffic over another.

Net neutrality is a ploy from Silicon Valley companies to hobble the only entities—the ISPs— powerful enough to push back against their Internet hegemony, by tangling up those ISPs in federal red tape. To date, there’s been little to no abuse by ISPs that net neutrality would have addressed; Pai is right that it should be repealed. Further, Congress and the FCC should immediately launch investigations into the censoring practices of Silicon Valley social media giants, which cut off the public’s access to content that they find politically objectionable.