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Downgrading my competence estimation: Taiwan and Singapore's current coronavirus surge should serve as a warning to Australia (ABC Australia). Excerpts:


Taiwan's status for having successfully contained the virus was challenged in April ... Rules had been relaxed prior to the outbreak, allowing pilots to quarantine for three days instead of the full 14.

At first, infections were reported from pilots, hotel workers and their family members. ... Taiwanese were staying at the same hotel as the quarantining pilots. From there, the virus is believed to have made its way into Taipei's Wanhua district, known for its "tea houses" ... Many who tested positive were unwilling to declare they had visited such adult entertainment venues, making contact tracing more difficult.


Even as Singapore was being celebrated, cases were quietly spreading through the island's one vulnerable location: Changi International Airport. It's believed that airport workers who came into contact with travellers from high-risk nations may have contracted the virus before visiting Changi's food court, which is open to the public.

Many of the cases linked to the airport cluster were later found to have a highly contagious Indian variant, known as B.1.617. ... "It's not like everything was relaxed in Singapore. It's not like behaviour has changed in the last six months. But I do think we've got a less-forgiving virus, which is more easily transmitted,"

Only 29 per cent of Singaporeans have received one dose. ... They're now considering lengthening the time between doses and vaccinating younger adults.

How a similar scenario would play out in Australia

What the recent outbreaks in Singapore and Taiwan show is that successful containment strategies can be thwarted by complacency and a failure to identify and act quickly to contain quarantine breaches.

Musing on a piece in Communications of the ACM lately (Changing the Nature of AI Research) - I find this level of ~reframing or insistence on a mathematical perspective quite frustratingly political. ISTM that this just isn't how software or AI systems work! (at least, those which can survive outside academic papers)

Taking a step back, Four Cultures of Programming (a fantastic 75-page read) discusses hacker culture, engineering culture, managerial culture, and mathematical culture in programming. I'm so deep in hacker/engineer culture that it's hard to see out of that, even if I use and appreciate (some) of the conceptual and technical tools from managerial and mathematical cultures.

(and if you want to learn more about the early history of software engineering, Arguments that Count is excellent; see also the much shorter Are we really engineers? essay series by Hillel Wayne)

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