Week InReview
Friday | Jan 14, 2022
Get your sleep back on track.
Illustration: Efi Chalikopoulou/WSJ
TWO YEARS of pandemic-related habits are making sleep challenges worse, with many people struggling to fall asleep and waking up more often. There are daytime steps that can prime us for better nights – like moving more, limiting caffeine and reducing stress – but they don’t always ensure a restful sleep. What you do at night matters too. Among experts’ recommendations: Avoid screens before bed and keep office or gym activities out of the bedroom.

— The Wall Street Journal
let's recap...
Photo illustration: 731; Photos: Getty Images; Alamy; Federal Reserve
U.S. consumer price growth rose at the fastest pace in almost four decades in December, stoking the Federal Reserve’s fears about the threat of elevated inflation and its consequences for the economic recovery. The consumer price index (CPI) increased at a 7 percent year-on-year pace last month, a step up from the 6.8 per cent rate registered in November and the largest jump since June 1982. (Financial Times | Jan 13)

News flash: The coronavirus isn’t going to be public enemy No. 1 for the global economy in 2022. The biggest dangers this year will stem from inflation and the risk that policymakers will call the post-Covid recovery wrong. This is the year we’ll find out whether the global economy is robust enough to get by with less help from governments and central banks. And whether inflation is a temporary byproduct of Covid or a more persistent problem. (Bloomberg Businessweek | Jan 12)

A key group of bipartisan lawmakers is calling on Wall Street’s top derivatives regulator to do more to rein in cryptocurrencies, which may be welcomed news for industry executives who prefer the agency to have a bigger role. In a letter to the chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the top Democrats and Republicans on the Senate and House Agriculture Committees say the watchdog has a “critical role to play“ in regulating digital assets. (Bloomberg Politics - Crypto | Jan 12)

You don’t have to look far to see how algorithms and machine learning can influence a market: Ask your kitchen smart speaker to play some Taylor Swift, and before long a computer formula will likely rack up songs by another artist her fans tend to like. What if a similar bit of black-box code could nudge you into buying a popular stock? U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler says that question might not be hypothetical for long. The pandemic hastened the already rapid rise of cryptocurrencies, robo-advisers, and apps that make it easier to trade and invest. In a recent speech – where he made the comparison to music streaming algos – Gensler said the changes “could be every bit as big as the internet was in the 1990s.” (Bloomberg Businessweek | Jan 11)

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell called high inflation a “severe threat” to a full economic recovery and said Tuesday the central bank was preparing to raise interest rates because the economy no longer needed emergency support. Powell said he was optimistic that supply-chain bottlenecks would ease this year to help bring down inflation as the Fed takes its foot off the gas pedal. But he told lawmakers at his Senate confirmation hearing that if inflation stayed elevated, the Fed would be ready to step on the brakes. (The Wall Street Journal | Jan 11) see also Powell says new rules for financial trades will be in place 'imminently' (The Hill | Jan 11)
the cyber cafe
Photo: The Wall Street Journal
White House convenes open-source security summit amid Log4j risks
The Biden administration hosted a meeting of major technology companies, federal agencies, and nonprofits Thursday to discuss cybersecurity problems with open-source technology, amid concerns that free, but flawed, software could leave critical infrastructure open to attack. Widespread use of open-source technologies and their maintenance by small groups creates national-security concerns, officials say.

The FTC wants companies to find Log4j fast. It won't be easy.
On December 9, when the Apache Software Foundation disclosed a massive vulnerability in Log4j, its Java logging library, it triggered a cat-and-mouse game as IT professionals raced to secure their systems against cybercriminals looking to exploit a huge, now-known, issue. Among them were clients of George Glass, head of threat intelligence at governance and risk company Kroll. “Certain companies we spoke to knew there were applications that were impacted,” he says. The problem? They didn’t have access to them.
— Wired

Log4j: How hackers are using the flaw to deliver this new 'modular' backdoor
Iran-backed hacking group Phosphorous or APT35 is using the Log4j vulnerability to distribute a new modular PowerShell toolkit, according to security firm Check Point. Microsoft, which tracks the group as Phosphorous and has called it out for increasingly using ransomware in attacks, found it had operationalized a Log4j exploit for future campaigns less than a week after Log4Shell's December 9 disclosure. 
— ZDNet
binge reading disorder
'We conclude' or 'I believe?' Study finds rationality declined decades ago
Study finds rationality declined years ago. Scientists from Wageningen University and Research (WUR) and Indiana University have discovered that the increasing irrelevance of factual truth in public discourse is part of a groundswell trend that started decades ago. While the current "post-truth era" has taken many by surprise, the study shows that over the past forty years, public interest has undergone an accelerating shift from the collective to the individual, and from rationality towards emotion.
— PhysOrg

The best fitness apps for working out at home
Sure, connected-gym hardware offers an integrated, distraction-free, sensor-laden social experience. But it has high upfront costs plus a monthly subscription, and often runs proprietary software that doesn’t work with other content providers. Fitness apps, on the other hand, can be customized to work at home or in a gym, with or without equipment, as well as outdoors. They can make working out from home, or wherever you are, easy, fun and effective — as long as you pick the right one.

Cannabis compounds prevent Covid infection in laboratory study
Cannabis compounds prevented the virus that causes Covid-19 from penetrating healthy human cells, according to a laboratory study published in the Journal of Nature Products. The two compounds commonly found in hemp – called cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA, and cannabidiolic acid, or CBDA – were identified during a chemical screening effort as having potential to combat coronavirus, researchers from Oregon State University said. In the study, they bound to spike proteins found on the virus and blocked a step the pathogen uses to infect people.
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