Wherefore Heart Thou?
January 28, 2022
It’s time to play… Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader (if that 5th grader read a TON of news). Test your knowledge of recent world news with this short quiz. Submissions must be made by 12pm EST Monday, 1/31. The winner, announced Wednesday, will win bragging rights for the week as well as a free Daily Pnut t-shirt.
“Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.” – Dwayne Johnson
Whatever Floats Your Remote
In July 2012, Marissa Mayer, a former tech superstar at Google, was hired as Yahoo’s president and CEO. At the time, hundreds of Yahoo staff worked from home. In September 2012, Mayer gave birth to her first child; two months later she moved the baby and a nanny into the nursery she’d built next to her office suite. Then in February 2013, Mayer banned remote work and ordered all Yahoo employees back to the office, at a time when flexible work arrangements, telecommuting, flexible schedules, and condensed workweeks had become important tools for people to better juggle work and family responsibilities. Advocates saw remote work as the wave of the future; opponents still believed it would hurt productivity, even as a UCLA management professor noted that “a variety of studies show that telecommuting and working from home is associated with higher productivity.”
The pandemic upended everyone’s normal life. To explore the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses, economists conducted a survey of over 5,800 small businesses between March 28 and April 4, 2020 to “understand how businesses are adjusting to the crisis.” The results showed the pandemic had “necessitated a rise in remote working, but many challenges to its broader adoption remain.” The researchers acknowledged situations where remote working had been shown to improve employee productivity. But they said this: “[The] transition to remote working is uneven, with businesses in industries with higher income and better educated employees more likely to transition to remote working. Productivity effects are also uneven, with many firms becoming less productive as a result of the transition.”
We’re now heading into year three of living with the coronavirus, and companies are still grappling with uncertainty in the workplace. Many have attempted to reopen their offices, only to be stymied by new variants or outbreaks that necessitated yet another shutdown or a delayed re-opening. So some businesses are removing the guesswork altogether by deciding to remain fully remote – permanently. When David Cancel started sales and marketing software company Drift in 2015, he and his co-founder believed strongly in an in-person work culture. “We were very strict about that. No one worked remotely.”
But when the pandemic hit, offices across the country – including Drift’s headquarters in Boston and three satellite offices – closed, and work became entirely remote. “It was a huge panic,” Cancel said, because “we were against [remote work].” Adjusting the company’s culture to a remote model was a challenge. But when forced to do it, the advantages piled on – the workforce became more diverse, employees were happier, and teams worked more efficiently than ever. It was then that Cancel said “Oh, we should do this forever.” (Forbes, voxeu.org, hbr.org, CNN)
Who, What, When, Where, Paraguay
- A group of mostly German, Austrian, and Swiss immigrants have created an ideologically-driven settlement in one of the poorest regions of Paraguay. El Paraiso Verde, the Green Paradise, is a 4,000-acre gated community in Caazapa, a rural region dominated by cattle ranching in lush eastern Paraguay.
- The project’s website describes the colony as a refuge from “socialist trends of current economic and political situations worldwide,” such as “5G, chemtrails, fluoridated water, mandatory vaccinations, and healthcare mandates.” According to the owners of El Paraiso Verde, the population will eventually “swell” from 150 to 3,000, making it “by far the largest urbanization and settlement project in South America.”
- Immigration to the project has stepped up since the start of the pandemic, from four German residents in 2019 and 101 in 2021. El Paraiso Verde residents interviewed on its YouTube channel attributed their move to skepticism about the virus and vaccines. (Guardian)
Puff, Puff, The Law Passed
- This week, Thailand became the first country in Asia to approve the de facto decriminalization of marijuana, although authorities have left a grey area around its recreational use. Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced Tuesday that the Narcotics Control Board had approved the removal of cannabis – a plant species to which both marijuana and hemp belong – last month from the list of illegal drugs under Thailand’s Narcotics Law.
- In 2020, Thailand became the first Asian nation to decriminalize the production and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. But a tangle of related laws means that production and possession of marijuana remains regulated for the time being, leaving the legal status of recreational marijuana use in a grey area. The health minister has been the driving force behind decriminalizing marijuana with the goal of cannabis products becoming a major industry in Thailand. (ABC News)
Additional World News
- ‘It’s Russian roulette’: migrants describe nightmarish route across Florida Straits (Guardian)
- Harris heading to Honduras under pressure to find a reliable partner in Northern Triangle (CNN)
- Netherlands lifts toughest Covid curbs with Denmark and France set to follow (Guardian)
- Journalists throughout Mexico say enough to killings and crimes against press (LAT, $)
- Denmark says its troops are in Mali on basis of “clear invitation” (Reuters)
- WHO chief makes case for 2nd term as Ethiopia criticizes him (ABC)
- World Bank berates Lebanon’s elite for ‘zombie’ economy (Reuters)
- Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, 83, appeared at the White House Thursday with President Biden to formally announce he’ll retire at the end of the Court’s current term in June. Biden had said during the campaign that, given the chance, he would appoint a Black woman to the Court.
- When Biden said he would keep his campaign promise, it caused histrionic Fox media host Tucker Carlson to accuse Biden of playing “identity politics” and “believing all Black women are the same.” The always hyperbolic Carlson baselessly alleged that Biden was not even considering his potential picks’ qualifications, suggesting that Bridget Floyd, the sister of George Floyd, would be the “obvious choice.”
- “She is not a judge or a lawyer or whatever, but in this case, who cares? Clearly, that’s not the point anymore – this law stuff,” he gushed. Media Matters researcher Nikki McCann Ramírez tweeted: “Tucker Carlson’s response to the possibility of nominating Black women to the Supreme Court is to doubt if any of them are actually qualified.” (NBC News, Salon)
Wherefore Heart Thou?
- The family of D.J. Ferguson said officials at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital told the 31-year-old father of two that he was ineligible for a heart transplant because he hasn’t been vaccinated against Covid-19. “We are literally in a corner right now. This is extremely time sensitive,” the family said in a fundraising appeal. “This is not just a political issue. People need to have a choice!”
- Citing privacy laws, the hospital declined to comment about Ferguson’s case, instead pointing to a response it posted on its website that said the Covid-19 vaccine is one of several immunizations required by most U.S. transplant programs, including a flu shot and hepatitis B vaccines.
- The hospital said research shows transplant recipients are at higher risk than non-transplant patients of dying from Covid-19, and that its policies are in line with recommendations of national health organizations. There is a scarcity of donor organs, so transplant centers only place patients on the waiting list whom they deem are the most likely to survive with a new organ. (NBC News)
Additional USA News
- US to hold surprise plant inspections targeting pollution in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley (Guardian)
- Biden recruits CEOs in push to revive social spending plan (Axios)
- Black, Latino students could see outsize effect from affirmative action decision (NBC)
- Democrats walk out of confirmation hearing for Florida surgeon general (The Hill)
- Florida State Senator Lauren Book pushing for new law after being threatened with extortion over nude images stolen from her (CBS)
- San Jose, California, is poised to take a step closer to first-in-the-nation gun ownership requirements (CNN)
- Crime concerns behind neighborhood’s idea to secede from Atlanta (ABC)
A Repeat Customer
- Sarah Palin started our week off, so maybe it’s apropos that she end it as well. To quickly recap, Palin was supposed to begin her long-awaited libel trial against the NYT on Monday, but because she tested positive for COVID-19, the trial was postponed. Palin is not vaccinated, and two days earlier she ignored the city’s dining mandate by eating indoors at Elio’s, an Italian restaurant on the Upper East Side, without a mask or proof of vaccination.
- Anyone who tests positive for the virus is supposed to quarantine for five days. Elio’s faced a lot of blowback over the Palin incident on Saturday, and Anne Isaak, Elio’s owner, was firmly opposed to having Palin return to dine at the restaurant. Nevertheless, the fiercely independent – or maybe just selfishly reckless – Palin did return to Elio’s on Wednesday night, dining outside in a heated area. Come to find out, Palin had eaten at another Italian restaurant, Campagnola, on Tuesday night.
- New York City Hall spokesman Jonah Allon said in a statement that, “By repeatedly flouting CDC guidelines, Ms. Palin has shown a complete disregard for the health and safety of small business workers and her fellow patrons. The city offers multiple resources to support isolation for those who test positive for COVID-19, and we encourage Ms. Palin to join the 98 percent of New Yorkers who report they have followed guidance on isolation and have helped New York City stop the spread.” Palin has said publicly she would only get vaccinated against the coronavirus “over my dead body.” Unfortunately, it’s not just her body’s death she’s selfishly risking. (WaPo, $)
- SpaceX Rocket Part to Crash Into Moon 7 Years After Launch (NYT, $)
- Unknown space object beams out radio signals every 18 minutes (CNN)
- A New Study Helps Untangle the Role of Tau in Dementia (Wired)
- Methuselah: oldest aquarium fish lives in San Francisco and likes belly rubs (Guardian)
- 72 hours of unpaid work? ‘Unacceptable,’ say dancers and critics of Super Bowl halftime show (LAT, $)
- Ghostly monkey, twin slug snake and “stink bug” among 224 new species in Mekong region identified by World Wildlife Fund (CBS)
- ‘Navalny’ Review: A Must-See Doc About the Anti-Putin Freedom Fighter (Variety)
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