Smartphone data reveal which Americans are social distancing (and not)

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D.C. gets an ‘A’ while Wyoming earns an ‘F’ for following coronavirus stay-at-home advice, based on the locations of tens of millions of phones

 Location data firm Unacast identified places where residents are engaging in more social distancing in green — and less in orange.

If you have a smartphone, you’re probably contributing to a massive coronavirus surveillance system.

And it’s revealing where Americans have — and haven’t — been practicing social distancing.

On Tuesday, a company called Unacast that collects and analyzes phone GPS location data launched a “Social Distancing Scoreboard” that grades, county by county, which residents are changing behavior at the urging of health officials. It uses the reduction in the total distance we travel as a rough index for whether we’re staying put at home.

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Man “walks” dog with a drone while in quarantine

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This is some next level problem solving

As preventative measures against COVID-19 are increasing around the world, more and more folks are staying inside. This is especially fantastic news for pets. They have no idea what’s going on, but suddenly their humans are home all the friggin’ time. Literally pet heaven.

However, stricter lockdown rules mean those pets are in danger of becoming just as bored and stir crazy as their owners. Just because pets can’t contract or infect humans with coronavirus, (the strains that affect humans and animals are completely different) pet owners are still under strict social distancing orders and cannot all congregate in the same place. So no more human-run dog daycares, no more pet playdates, no more busy park visits.

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How smoking could make you unemployable

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Intrusive ‘wellness’ policies and rules on off-duty behavior are becoming widespread.

 Nearly a decade after she stopped smoking, Mabel Battle still has the last pack of cigarettes she ever bought. She keeps it as a reminder of all the gray Ohio winter workdays she spent standing outside her office with the other shivering smokers getting a nicotine fix.

The cigarette pack is a testament to her willpower, she says: after countless failed attempts, she finally quit. However, her success at giving up is also a striking result of a contentious corporate experiment. What finally prodded her into her decision was a fear that her habit might threaten her employment. “I wanted to keep my job more than I wanted to smoke cigarettes,” says Battle.

The Cleveland Clinic, where Battle works as a health unit coordinator, has been a leader in corporate anti-smoking initiatives. It first banned smoking on its 170-acre campus in 2008, and followed that up with a new policy to chemically screen job applicants for nicotine and refuse employment to those who test positive. Workers such as Battle who were on staff before the ban would not be fired for smoking in their free time, but she could see the culture changing.

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The Bullshit-Job Boom

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For more and more people, work appears to serve no purpose. Is there any good left in the grind?

Bullshit, like paper waste, accumulates in offices with the inevitability of February snow. Justification reports: What are these? Nobody knows. And yet they pile up around you, Xerox-warmed, to be not-read. Best-practices documents? Anybody’s guess, really, including their authors’. Some people thought that digitization would banish this nonsense. Those people were wrong. Now, all day, you get e-mails about “consumer intimacy” (oh, boy); “all hands” (whose hands?); and the new expense-reporting software, which requires that all receipts be mounted on paper, scanned, and uploaded to a server that rejects them, since you failed to pre-file the crucial post-travel form. If you’re lucky, bullshit of this genre consumes only a few hours of your normal workweek. If you’re among the millions of less fortunate Americans, it is the basis of your entire career.

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What would your ‘future self’ want to do?

 

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Prepare Yourself, It’s Unlikely To Be Comfortable

An internationally acclaimed keynote speaker & bestselling author, grab a copy of Margie Warrell’s fifth book ‘You’ve Got This! The Life-Changing Power of Trusting Yourself’ (Wiley Publishing)

I attend a lot of conferences and regularly sit on panels. One of the more popular questions I’ve seen asked, and been asked, is “What advice would you give your younger self?”

It’s not a bad question. However, it has limited utility. After all, we can’t wind the clock back and change the decisions we’ve made, the actions we’ve taken, or (often more relevant) those we’ve failed to take. It’s why I believe a more useful question is to consider what advice our “future self”—us in the final chapter of life, with all those years of accumulated wisdom—would want to whisper in our ear if it had the chance.

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Why aren’t more highly intelligent people rich?

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 A Nobel Prize-Winning Economist Says Another Factor Matters a Lot More

Intelligence is important, but intelligence without effort is sometimes wasted.

Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman likes to ask people how great a role innate intelligence plays in financial success. Like how much the difference between my income and yours, for example, is based on our relative IQs.

Most people say about 25 percent. Some go as high as 50 percent. (For a long time, I would gave guessed even more.)

But Heckman’s research reveals something else entirely. Innate intelligence plays, at best, a 1 to 2 percent role in a child’s future success.

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The secret to winning the war for talent

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In the long siege known as the war for talent, employers need a new battle plan. Instead of trying desperately to recruit from the outside to fill a growing skills gap, companies should turn to the resources that exist within their own workforces.

This is a build versus buy strategy, with greater emphasis placed on training to develop skills in-house to meet the organization’s current and future needs. As a recent Harvard Business Review article observed, rather than spending billions to acquire talent, a better approach is investing in the talent that’s already in place. “Poach-and-release is no longer a sustainable model for talent acquisition,” the authors write.

There is a greater-than-ever need for effective and efficient corporate training as the shortage of skilled workers heightens to an urgent business issue. At an education conference I attended recently, Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) told the audience that the concern he hears most frequently from employers is the difficulty of hiring enough workers.

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New theory of complex emotions

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We updated Roger Hargreaves’s Little Miss and Mr. Men universe as a suggestion to include some of our new emotions. Illustration: Zohar Lazar

 If You Can Say It, You Can Feel It Some scientists believe we have infinite emotions, so long as we can name them.

Sometime last year, I came across the word hangxiety, a neologism for hangover-induced anxiety. I cringed when I read it; it felt so phony.

The most mental distress I’d ever experienced during a hangover was some light teasing in a group chat. And then, last fall, the morning after a night of drinking, I woke up with a racing heart and a constricted feeling across my chest, as if I’d been sleeping under a dozen weighted blankets. I thought about the things I’d said and done the night before, and the physical sensations intensified.

This happened again, and then again. I haven’t had a hangover in months, largely because I’m terrified of them now. Was this always the way my brain and body responded to hangovers? Or did learning about hangxiety somehow influence the way I experience a hangover? I’d like to think I’m not that suggestible, but some emerging, somewhat controversial research on how and why we feel our feelings argues that language doesn’t just describe a feeling. It can also change it.

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In 2019, more Americans went to the library than to the movies. Yes, really.

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The US film industry may have generated revenues somewhere in the region of $40 billion last year, but it seems Hollywood still has plenty of work to do if it wants to compete with that most hallowed of American institutions: the public library

Yes, according to a recent Gallup poll (the first such survey since 2001), visiting the local library remains by far the most common cultural activity Americans engage in. As reported earlier today by Justin McCarthy:

“Visiting the library remains the most common cultural activity Americans engage in, by far. The average 10.5 trips to the library U.S. adults report taking in 2019 exceeds their participation in eight other common leisure activities. Americans attend live music or theatrical events and visit national or historic parks roughly four times a year on average and visit museums and gambling casinos 2.5 times annually. Trips to amusement or theme parks (1.5) and zoos (.9) are the least common activities among this list.”

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A survey of 20,000 creatives suggests brainstorming is a giant waste of time

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Perhaps more than any other category of professionals, creative types are expected to thrive in brainstorms. In the public’s imagination, their offices are filled with fidget toys and Post-it notes in an array of colors, all meant to absorb some of the energy of a group of fast-thinking, well-dressed hipsters deep in ideation mode.

But a new report based on a survey of 20,000 creatives from 197 countries suggests that, in fact, a majority of these professionals—including writers, musicians, photographers, and podcasters—find that brainstorming is largely unhelpful for solving a creative challenge.

The survey, commissioned by the Dutch file-sharing company WeTransfer, attests to the perils of this form of groupthink. “In the creative world we hear an awful lot about collaboration, but it seems that while working together is essential to bring an idea to life, it’s not that good for shaping ideas in the first place,” notes Rob Alderson, WeTransfer’s recently departed editor in chief.

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The coming surge of separatism

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Why splittists will be on a roll around the world

FROM CATALONIA to Kashmir, and from Hong Kong to Scotland, separatist movements will make headlines in 2020. At best, this will lead to political turbulence and tension. At worst, it could lead to violence.

Across the world, two types of identity-driven movements are increasingly clashing—and feeding off each other. On the one hand, there are separatist groups that seek to break away from their nation-state and establish new countries; on the other, there is the outraged and assertive nationalism of existing states, determined to crush separatism.

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88% of Americans use a second screen while watching TV. Why?

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Second screens and the sickness unto death.

 When it comes to tech, I like to think I’m a pretty hoopy frood. I added the System Tuner UI to my Android phone’s settings. I’ve crimped my own ethernet cables. I got Wing Commander III running, back when that required the dark arts of HIMEM.SYS tweaking. What I’m trying to say is: I am with it!

Except when it comes to staring at screens while staring at other screens. I just don’t suss it. But apparently 88 percent of Americans do.

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