Daily Archives: Jun 19, 2021 at 07:44 am EDT

Book Bits: 19 June 2021

Shape: The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy, and Everything Else
Jordan Ellenberg
Essay by author via The Atlantic
The fact is, binary classifications such as “safe” and “not safe” mostly don’t exist in real life, and those who seek them may well be led astray. No government agency or Anthony Fauci lieutenant ever said you can’t catch the coronavirus from six feet and one inch away—six feet was always an arbitrary “good enough” standard established so that the grocery stores knew how far apart to put the shoe stickers on the floor. But many people nonetheless experienced the recommendation as a sharp-edged boundary: danger within the six-foot circle, safety outside. This kind of all-or-nothing thinking reached its absurd climax in high schools in Billings, Montana, last October. Responding to guidance that coronavirus transmission was a danger when students spent at least 15 minutes within six feet of one another, the schools introduced a new mitigation strategy: Everybody changes desks every 14 minutes.

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