During the COVID-19 crisis millions of people became unemployed and Congress responded by passing the CARES Act which, among other things, provided extended federal unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for folks in addition to the UI benefits provided by their states. The two types of federal assistance are pandemic emergency unemployment compensation (PEUC) and pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA). PUA benefits are primarily for the self-employed and independent contractors. Here are some North Carolina numbers from an article in the Winston-Salem Journal:
$8.16 billion in state and federal UI benefits were paid from late March through Sept. 30
$670 million were paid from Oct. 1 through December 5, indicating that many people have exhausted their benefits
31% of the 4.35 million North Carolinians considered part of the state’s workforce as of mid-October have filed a state or federal unemployment claim, according to DES.
North Carolinians, at most, could have collected 34½ weeks of state and federal UI benefits, broken down as: 12 weeks of regular state-funded benefits; 13 weeks of federal pandemic emergency unemployment compensation; and between six to 9½ weeks of federal extended benefits.
Unemployment insurance recipients who qualified for up to 22½ weeks of federal extended UI benefits likely began exhausting them in early November. Most of the rest will be done Dec. 26 unless an extension is passed by Congress during its current lame-duck session.
The study, a meta-analysis of nine other studies tracking nearly 45,000 people, found that those who were most sedentary risked dying prematurely. But even when people sat as much as 8.5 hours a day, getting just 11 minutes of moderate exercise significantly cut that risk. Thirty to 40 minutes of exercise was even more helpful.
“It doesn’t matter if you accrue it in 30 minutes or one-minute bouts over 30 occasions,” says Keith Diaz, an assistant professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University and one of the coauthors of the study. “The guidelines historically used to recommend that it had to be 10 minutes or more time, and we found that that’s just not the case. Any movement, no matter what duration, is beneficial, as long as you accrue enough of it.”
Who knew that you can draw a direct line from Cap’n Crunch to the development of the iPhone? From Today I Found Out:
One such prize was offered by Cap’n Crunch in the 1960s: a seemingly innocuous whistle. Styled after naval bo’sun whistles used to transmit orders on a sea vessel, the plastic instrument happened to be able to produce a tone at exactly 2600 hertz. This is important because AT&T phone systems functioned on a series of tones that indicated which line was to perform a given action. Producing the right tone at the right time gave one control over part of the system, such as the ability to make free long-distance calls.
The culture that grew around learning to manipulate this infrastructure became known as “phreaking.” One of the most important phreakers was John Draper, who was not coincidentally aliased “Captain Crunch”, thanks to the aforementioned whistle. Moving beyond whistles and instruments, Draper, along with several others, ultimately constructed what came to be known as “blue boxes”- devices capable of emitting the various tones necessary to take advantage of AT&T phone lines in various ways.
Phreaking was arguably the beginning of what would later develop into the computer hacking subculture. Among the members of this burgeoning group were two young men who were inspired by John “Cap’n Crunch” Draper, sought him out, and learned his whistling ways. Of course, these two took it a step further when one of them realized that they could monetize the concept.
Their names were, of course, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs (founders of Apple), who created their first business together making these blue boxes, which were incredibly valuable not just for prank and free calls, but also to criminals the world over thanks to the fact that the free calls could be made in such a way as to be incredibly difficult to trace.
Before the COVID-19 crisis began, food insecurity in the US was the lowest it had been in more than 20 years, and yet 35.2 million people, including 10.7 million children, were food insecure.
The current crisis is likely to reverse the improvements that have occurred over the past decade as millions of people are newly experiencing food insecurity, alongside those who were experiencing food insecurity before the COVID-19 crisis began. Nationally, more than 50 million people, including 17 million children, may experience food insecurity in 2020 because of COVID-19.
FYI, here in North Carolina the food insecurity rate is predicted to reach 17.6%.
Popular Science has an article about why some people can smell ants, and why the most common ant in the eastern part of the US smells like bleu cheese:
The most common type of ant that people find in their homes on the East Coast and in the Midwest is called the odorous house ant, and when squished, it releases a pheromone that smells like blue cheese. This odorous chemical belongs to a group of chemical compounds called methyl ketones. It’s also produced by the Penicillium mold that grows on rotting coconuts and it’s what gives blue cheese its distinctive, pungent odor.
Don’t feel like having a big Q-tip shoved up your nose to be tested for COVID-19? Want to be tested from the comfort of your own home? Well, there is an at-home saliva test available from multiple sources, including Costco and Vault Health. The negative is that it will likely run you about $120 and it could take a few days to get results, but given the wait times for swab tests lately it might be worth considering.