Software developer at a big library, cyclist, photographer, hiker, reader. Email:
22285 stories

New Gray Wolf Pack Confirmed in Tulare County

1 Share

Read the whole story
Share this story

Masked email is a killer feature for Fastmail


Painting of different emails flowing into one

I last sang the praises of Fastmail in 2018, writing about how it’s pretty easy to avoid Google now that Google’s products are relatively middling. I’ve been using Fastmail exclusively since then and have only good things to say about it. The user interface is rock-solid and fast, and there have been very few times that they’ve had a server outage. But it’s just been qualitatively better than Gmail, not differentiated by a feature.

Masked email

That’s changed: I think that Fastmail’s “Masked Email” is a good reason for the Gmail-faithful to switch. It’s both a fantastic way to manage spam sources and a real win for privacy.

Masked email works best when you also use 1Password. You can then link your 1Password and Fastmail accounts, and whenever you see a signup form on the web, not only will 1Password offer to generate a password, it’ll also trigger Fastmail to generate a new, unique email address. That email address connects to your existing inbox, and also has a note for why it was generated – so you can easily identify senders that sold or leaked their email lists. Then, you can just block that email address.

I’ve been using the heck out of this feature: I have over 100 masked email addresses and use a masked email for basically every new service I try out or newsletter I subscribe to. It’s taken the concept of disposable email addresses that was floating around for years in the form of guerillamail and others and formalized it into a system in which it’s easy to default to using a disposable email address for everything.

This isn’t just good for dodging spam: when you sign up for services, they can use contact enrichment tools like Clearbit to connect your email to your identity elsewhere. A primary email address can be the key to cross-referencing all of your internet presences.

Plus, attacks like credential stuffing are based on the idea of shared email & password combinations. Even if you studiously avoid sharing passwords between websites, you can do even better by randomizing email addresses so that attackers don’t know either part of the email & password combination.

Hide my email

Apple has a similar service called Hide my Email, which I also use when I’m on a phone – that acts as a relay service between your generated email and your own. It works well, but the only way I’ve found to use it on the desktop is with a third-party Chrome Extension. If you use and like iCloud services and aren’t going to switch to Fastmail, that seems like a viable option.


One quirk of these generated email addresses - for Fastmail and iCloud both - is that they’re both generated with their email providers’ domains by default. Hide My Email addresses are under the domain and Fastmail’s are under This does change how easily you can migrate away from a provider. Migrating a single custom email address from one provider to another is simple, but if you have nearly one email address per account, it’s harder.

Thankfully, Fastmail lets you generate masked email addresses under a custom domain. I will probably do this in the future, so that if I ever have to switch away from them, I can just add a catchall email address at that domain to keep receiving the emails.

Addresses & phone numbers

It’d be nice to have these kinds of anonymized versions of the rest of our personal data.

You can get a separate mailbox with Earth Class Mail or as part of your business’s registered agent with Northwest.

I’d love to have a similar service for phone numbers: because I was an early employee at a few startups and foolishly used my own phone number when we signed up with some providers, I get calls from salespeople trying to reach my long-ago employers. I’m trying out Burner, which issues additional proxied phone numbers, so I don’t have to give my personal phone number for everything.

Read the whole story
Share this story

Florida Black churches teaching an unfettered African American history - The Washington Post

1 Share
Read the whole story
Share this story

Road Diets and Older Adults - NextSTL


America is getting older [1], and American drivers are getting way older [2, Figure below]. This seachange in the demographics of those operating motor vehicles is incredibly important (and, I would argue, underconsidered in the urbanist world).

Older adults driving in complex environments (e.g. complicated traffic patterns, lane changes, turns, and congestion) have a much higher crash risk than the average driver. Older adults are also far more likely to die when involved in an automotive crash due to preexisting comorbidities. The risks associated with driving affect not only these older drivers, but everyone around them.

I study Alzheimer’s Disease at Washington University in St. Louis. One of the ongoing studies at WUSTL is a naturalistic driving study called DRIVES, led by Ganesh Babulal. Participants in the DRIVES study are enrolled in research at the Knight Alzheimer Disease Research Center (ADRC) and consent to having a small data logger placed in their car (very similar to the Progressive Insurance Snapshot Program). Through their participation at the Knight ADRC we collect blood, cerebrospinal fluid, MRI/PET images of their brains and perform cognitive testing. Through their participation in the DRIVES study, we get information sampled every 30 seconds of their lat/lon coordinates and driving speed.

Alzheimer’s Disease is a slowly progressing neurodegenerative disorder. Although (sadly) many of us are familiar with the “clinical manifestations” of this disease – forgetfulness, difficulty with navigation, and progressive decline in cognitive functioning, this disease actually begins much earlier. 15 – 20 years prior to these observable symptoms, things called amyloid plaques are already developing in the brain. Presence of these plaques can be detected with appropriate PET radiotracers, isolated from cerebrospinal fluid, and – as of relatively recently – with blood.

Prior research has established that cognitively normal drivers with amyloid plaques in the brain exhibit many changes in driving behavior, including: less aggressive driving behavior, smaller driving space, less seatbelt use, late responses to changes in the driving environment, more driving errors on road tests, and reduced driving speeds  [3 – 8]. Driving behaviors are so characteristically modified by the presence of amyloid plaques that one of my colleagues was even able to predict whether or not someone had amyloid in the brain solely from their driving data [6]!

Driving is an incredibly complex task – you have to deal with constantly changing stimuli, adjust to dynamic conditions, engage in navigation and planning, and just generally try not to kill anyone around you. For people with amyloid plaques gunking up their brain, this is particularly hard. The average older adult actually stops driving roughly 7 years prior to death [9] and while hanging up the keys may seem like a positive for road safety, this results in lower social participation and increased isolation and depression [10]. A large body of literature exists arguing that road diets are a key design choice that can be made to increase pedestrian safety for older adults [11 – 12].

Let’s review what we know:

  • Older adults are driving at greater rates than generations prior
  • Driving is particularly deadly for older adults
  • Older adults who cease driving see major degradations in quality of life
  • The federal government suggests that complete streets treatments (e.g. road diets) will help protect elderly pedestrians

Reviewing that list leads me to ask – what the heck is our plan for older drivers? If older adults are not getting out of their cars (which, given current land use policies, they kind of can’t), shouldn’t we be curious about what the effect of complete streets will be on the aging driver?

So that’s what we set out to do. We looked for natural experiments – instances where road diets had been implemented at some point during the DRIVES study (2015 – present) where a relatively large number of research participants had driven through the road segment of interest. After doing this, we identified three road diets that we could study: Maryland Ave in Clayton, Pershing Ave in U City, and Natural Bridge Road spanning both St. Louis City and St. Louis County.

NextSTL has already had great detailed coverage of Natural Bridge Road. Cross-Sections of Maryland Ave (which started as a 4 lane road and was transformed into a 3 lane road with parking protected bike lanes) and Pershing Ave (which started as a 4 lane road and was transformed into a 2 lane road with buffered bike lanes) are shown below.

What we found was kind of amazing. Overall, implementing road diets resulted in slower speeds on each of the three streets. We also observed a pattern consistent with the literature – drivers with amyloid plaques in the brain drove more slowly than drivers without. What was surprising, though, was that implementing a road diet caused the healthy (amyloid free) drivers to slow down but there was no slowing of the drivers with amyloid plaques. This differential effect was unexpected, but may help explain why road diets are so frequently associated with major decreases in car crashes – the design of the road forces all drivers to a consistent speed. All drivers are now driving at a rate that feels comfortable to a mildly impaired older adult.

This finding set up the conclusion of our paper: [Road diets] could empower older adults to continue driving while maintaining the safety of other road users both inside and outside of vehicles. Given the current state of the United States’ auto-dependency, lane repurposing could translate into much higher quality of life for older adults without sacrificing the safety of the individuals around them. We recommend that policymakers consider lane reduction solutions to facilitate older adults’ ability to age in place.

As a person who predominantly travels the city by bike, I am a big fan of the parking protected bike lanes on Maryland Ave and Union, and I would love to see more of those. I felt that way before I studied them, but on an academic level – after considering the problems associated with our city layout and aging populace, I am an even bigger fan. I invite the readers of NextSTL to check out the full manuscript, Differential Impacts of Road Diets on Driving Behavior among Older Adults with and without Preclinical Alzheimer’s Pathology which is available at Transportation Research Part F.

Read the whole story
Share this story

PTSD, Booze, and Me

1 Share

Editor’s note: We always promised The Counteroffensive would be a version of a reporter’s notebook. So here is my reporting… on how reporting on a war changed me. 

Because it’s so personal, I’ve made it for paid subscribers only. 

We have been stagnant on the number of paid subscribers over the last two months, and we really need your support to keep going. If you aren’t already a paying member, I hope you’ll join us and read along!

There was a time, in August 2022, when I left Ukraine and swore I would never go back.

I was drinking heavily, five or seven beers a day, to ease the stress and anxiety. It was so easy, since we were always staying at hotels with bars.

And there was always something to be stressed about.

I like to say that the hardest thing to resist in life is the line between three and four drinks. Three, and it’s a refreshing morning tomorrow. Four drinks… is actually seven.

My team and I had just finished the final reporting for what would ultimately become an eight month project. It was an investigative piece where we tried to solve a war crime from scratch — and it was the hardest story I’ve ever worked on.

I mean this both in terms of difficulty — collecting evidence of an atrocity in a war zone through a language you don’t speak — and in terms of processing the traumatic content.

In order to investigate the alleged crime, we had to sift through videos and photos of the dead body of a man who I had vicariously gotten to know through loved ones.

Being a former combat medic, blood doesn’t really upset me that much. Neither does gore. But the thing that gets me the most is women crying.

And that story featured a lot of that.

This was in addition to all the accumulated stress since I landed in Kyiv on the night of the full-scale invasion. I had gone through multiple rotations, every time interviewing people who were often having the worst day of their lives.

When I got out of Ukraine, I went on vacation to surf, which is a sport I desperately love. But I couldn’t feel any joy from it in Portugal, one of the world’s premiere surf spots.

I felt terribly depressed. If I wasn’t sad, I would exhibit a short temper. I couldn’t get out of bed, but when I wanted to, I felt absolutely exhausted. My closest friends began expressing concern about my mental state.

Rumblings from trucks and street cars would put me on edge.

Loud noises would have my mind running on overdrive.

“Hyper-vigilance is a symptom of PTSD, you know,” said a psychiatrist that I saw. I later recognized the other symptoms too, and it’s easy to see in hindsight: emotional numbing, irritability, depression, anxiety, nightmares.

I was never formally diagnosed with PTSD, even when I asked to be — “only necessary for health insurance purposes,” another doctor said.

So I tried to turn my reporting skills towards understanding what was happening to me.

Some of the predisposition for PTSD is genetic, Dr. Kathleen Chard, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Cincinnati, told me.

“Temperament [also] plays a role: people who are more sensitive to the world around them,’’ are more susceptible to PTSD, said Chard. Trauma is change, “so people who are less sensitive [to change] and can handle change better” also handle traumatic events better .

I dove head-first into trying to recover; I started to understand why I had anxiety around people, or left events early.

“If you're worried all the time, it begins to change the way you think and feel about the world. Everything's a danger,” Chard explained. So you think to yourself: ‘I can't get close to people.’

I’m also fully aware that I have it easier than some others who have covered brutal conflicts. The war correspondent Chris Hedges told me that he had a nervous twitch in his face after years of covering the war in El Salvador, for example. Others never come home. And I’m aware of the privilege that outsider journalists have, in that they can leave a war zone.

Over time, I just… started feeling better. I began taking medication, which helped lessen my anxiety and depression. Talk therapy sessions helped bring me gradually out of my state.

I also drank significantly less alcohol. I’ve tried to adopt my friend Nic Robertson’s rule – as a correspondent for CNN he told me he never drinks in any conflict area. I haven’t been able to fully realize this aspiration, but I don’t drink very much at all nowadays. 

Another friend, the great war correspondent Kim Dozier, suggested I listen to this Andrew Huberman podcast about what alcohol does to your health. What struck me is the evidence that it creates anxiety that pops up even on days you don't drink. You slowly dig a hole that only alcohol can fill, and for a long time I was digging vigorously.

"Drink socially, not medically. If you want to drink socially because the Celtics game is on, go ahead,” Chard said. “Don't do it because you're anxious and you can't go to the family reunion without having a couple beers." 

As I started to feel better, I also began to think about how urgently I wanted to return to Kyiv.

It’s sometimes hard to explain to friends how I went from pledging never to go back to Ukraine… to moving and living here.

Hedges had one possible explanation: “There is this kind of, you know, how close can I get [as a] moth to the flame kind of thing,” he told me. “The fact is, in war zones, you just live very intensely. I mean, everything is heightened. The colors are even heightened.”

There’s some part of this which is true. But there’s a limit. I’m not an adrenaline junkie. You will not find me jumping out of planes or via bungee. I have no interest in visiting a dangerous place for its own sake.

Here’s what I came up with: as I recovered, I began to realize that reporting on the war in Ukraine may be the most meaningful thing I ever do in my life, and that I can make a small difference here. 

And so here I am.

After I launched The Counteroffensive, I asked Dr. Chard whether there was a way to build resilience before a traumatic event, and whether there are scientifically backed ways to stave off PTSD before it gets a hold.

She made a couple suggestions: understand that you cannot always control life events, for one. You need a gut check, she said: ‘Am I okay when I don't get when I get my way? Am I okay with changing the plan?’ 

This is a tough one for Type A control freaks like me. I worried tremendously about where we should get an apartment in Kyiv, for example. If someone ever got injured because the apartment building was attacked, I’d find it very hard not to find myself responsible (Ross, on the other hand, chuckled at my concern over this). 

Chard used this analogy to counter my line of thinking: If you kill your friend while driving by swerving from a deer and hitting a tree, you need to realize that you aren't the deer, and you didn't plant the tree. 

After a traumatic event, or series of events, caffeine and alcohol don't work particularly well, she added. Sleep to recover does. 

But most important is perceived support. 

The thing that helps most is positive support from your social circles, creating an environment that isn't blame-, shame-, or guilt-inducing, Chard said. And building one that is accepting.

Thank you to my friends and colleagues for helping lift me out of the darkness by beaming me that positivity on late night calls, or Zoom catch-ups, or over cups of coffee. 

And to you, our subscribers, for being part of our supportive social circle. 

I read virtually all your comments, and try to respond to any questions. Your encouragement means everything to our team.

Thank you for reading The Counteroffensive.

Good morning to readers; Kyiv remains in Ukrainian hands. 

But parts of southern Ukraine are slowly slipping from Russian control after four months of Ukraine on the offensive.

This week has seen progress for Ukrainian forces along the southern Zaporizhzhia front, as they break through Russian defenses near the town of Verbove. Verbove lies east of Robotyne, which was liberated by Ukraine last week. 

“The main thing is not to lose this initiative,” said General Oleksandr Tarnavskiy in an interview with CNN. 

The Ukrainian military officer said that coming cold weather in the fall will not affect the way they fight, which right now is primarily without vehicles. The town of Tokmak, believed by Ukraine to be an important strategic position, is within 20 kilometers of the frontlines. 

While dealing with Russian invaders in the south and east, Ukraine has also been in the midst of a diplomatic row to their west all week. 

Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia refused to accept any more grain from Ukraine one week ago, citing fear that a large influx of Ukrainian grain would undercut local farmers. Ukraine has been unable to transport very much grain through traditional Black Sea shipping routes, so its neighbors have received much more than average through land routes. 

In protest of these bans, Ukraine filed complaints with the World Trade Organization.

In a rally Friday, Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki told Zelenskyy to never "insult Poles again." It's worth noting that there are Polish elections in a few weeks, and rural agricultural voters are a key part of the ruling party's coalition.

Following this dust-up, Poland said earlier this week that it would stop sending additional packages of military aid to Ukraine. The United States has now stepped in, asking for  clarification from Poland on the extent of the reduction in support. 

Poland also signaled that it will cut support to the approximately one million Ukrainians refugees now residing in the country, Bloomberg reported. This includes things like work permits, as well as access to health care and schooling.

Poland has been one of the most prolific supporters of Ukraine, and a crack in their relationship with Ukraine could spell disaster for continued international unity. 

“​​You help either Ukraine or Russia. There will be no mediators in this war. By weakening assistance to Ukraine, you will strengthen Russia,” Zelenskyy said in a speech in Toronto at the end of his North American tour yesterday.

And now we’ve reached the end of today’s issue. Usually we have a reporter’s notebook section here, but the whole article was a reporter’s notebook! So we’ll leave the way we always do.

Today’s dog of war is via our friend Alessandra Hay, who took this photo of a friend’s adorable pup in Lviv. His name is Jimmy!

Stay safe out there. 


Read the whole story
Share this story

Wow, You Can't Even Pound A Quart Of Whiskey At The Airport For Less Than $60 Anymore | Defector

1 Share

Sometimes I forget that David Brooks exists. There is a form of irrelevance available only to a certain caste of sinecured New York Times opinion writers, those whose express job is reassuring aging moneyed whites that they're right to distrust and be disgusted by every person or movement or sensibility that reached their attention any later than their own first gray hair. This grim, world-killing work will be done, and will be done in the opinion pages of the Times, and will never so much as iterate in any meaningful way, which means that its individual practitioners can just kind of disappear into the field's great gray bulk. What does it matter that any one of them ever was called "Pamela Paul" or "Bret Stephens" or "Thomas Friedman" or "David Brooks"? You don't need to know each serac's name, or even whether any of them have names at all, to recognize a glacier.

Personally I have not thought even once about David Brooks since the deranged 2019 column in which he invented a wholly fictional character with no relationship to reality—"one of those fanatics on the alt-right and the alt-left, the ones who make online forums so vicious, the ones who cancel and call out, the minority of online posters who fill the air with hate"—so that he could paint, like, college progressives who think that billionaires ought to pay taxes, or that sex creeps should face social consequences, as equivalent to explicitly genocidal fanatics on the far right, and then told readers about how this imaginary character would have come to be, if he had, which he had not. (No points for guessing that it involved parental indulgence and lax morality.) This website didn't even exist back then! God only knows how many totally normal 22-year-olds Brooks has portrayed as harbingers of the apocalypse and/or abandoned his family for since then!

In any event, I am sorry to say that I have once again recalled David Brooks's existence this week, thanks to this tweet:

Here we have pretty much the hackiest expression possible. First of all there is the quintessential tenured Times columnist move: Here is a thing that happened exactly once, to me, which conveniently happens to explain an entire widespread social phenomenon. All it's missing—for now—is some made-up bullshit fake-sociological category to go with it. If Brooks has a stylistic signature beyond a generalized fussy dismay, it is his tendency toward the taxonomic identification and explication of imaginary mini-tranches of humanity like Airport Burger Boomers. The last of the true political independents in these polarized times. The Airport Burger Boomer vote will be crucial to the 2024 election. They are very concerned about tradition, it turns out.

Then there is the shallow, stupid diagnosis. "Americans think the economy is bad because airport food is overpriced." Not because of the hyper-concentration of wealth, or the worsening contingency of employment, or because the vast majority of us live within one single unexpected hospital visit of penury and ruin, or because all of that is the open undisguised desire of the small number of unaccountable sneering psychopaths who control every lever of power in our society, but because of expensive airport food. This is roughly like skimming the top 0.2 millimeters of foam off the top of a tide pool at the beach, examining it for three seconds, and being like I know what octopi think of the ocean.

And then there is the hilariously misplaced arrogance. The thing is, people fly in and out of Newark all the time. It is one of the busiest airports in the United States. There are only so many restaurants in it. Even if the half-full glass of brown liquor in the photograph weren't a dead giveaway, eventually somebody was going to figure out, with reasonable certainty, where David Brooks ate, and how he wound up spending $78 on his meal.

Burger and fries: $17
Quadruple airport whiskey: $61
Someone who is good at the economy please help me budget this. My pubescent second wife and my liver are dying.

Don't give this stuff away on Twitter, Dave! Pad it out with a complaint about your waitress's nose piercing and 700 words on the decline of the classical western moral tradition and publish it in the Times. That's what they pay you six times the median American's annual salary for, buddy.

Read the whole story
Share this story
Next Page of Stories