Corruption Is A Contagion That Can Not Be Contained: The Ferguson, MO Edition

In my experience, bigoted and racist local governments are usually the most corrupt: you can’t decide that laws will be applied unequally and not have that spill over into other areas of governance. An honest government would not use traffic infractions to acquire one-quarter of its fundingwhich hits the poor the hardest. At the same time, corrupt people will use racism and bigotry to their advantage. I’m certain that even a precursory examination of the good burg of Ferguson will find tons of sleaze, if not outright illegality.

The rot infects root, branch, and stem there.

Posted in Bidness, Racism | Leave a comment

Surprisingly, The Targets of Our Militarized Police Are Being Forgotten

I recently tweeted this:

Unbeknownst to me, Steve M. was thinking the same thing (boldface mine):

The “left” and “right” in this debate will be: do we get rid of the MRAPs and BearCats and keep the rest of our usual tactics? Or do we keep it all?

It would be lovely to think that Rand Paul, by joining liberals in condemning the racial inequities of our justice system, has helped move the discussion to the left. But as I told you on Thursday, even Paul stressed the military hardware rather than the racism in his Time op-ed. And now those of his conservative brethren who are willing to acknowledge any problems whatsoever in how we deal out criminal justice are going to limit themselves to talking about tanks. So, outside MSNBC, that’s all we’re going to talk about.

What is increasingly being left unsaid in the whole discussion about the transformation of our security forces into forces of occupation is that it has two main targets: minorities and left-of-center non-violent dissent–and, yes, opposition to police brutality, especially against minorities, has historically been a liberal, not conservative, cause, though there are exceptions. You haven’t seen any anti-abortion protestors teargassed, and the Bundy Ranch white riot (in which high-powered rifles were aimed at government officials) was met non-violently. At some point, if this is not gotten under control, someone will get it into his head to react with organized violence.

So I’m glad conservatives are joining in. Not only will that make it more likely that something might be done, but it will help the usual targets of police violence. But we need to remember that it’s not just the particular methods used, but that it is considered acceptable to treat some groups differently than others.

Posted in Conservatives, Civil Liberties | 4 Comments

Links 8/18/14

Links for you. Science:

Scientists retract narcolepsy study linked to GSK vaccine
Snark Week: Moose are dopey and dangerous! (I once blundered into a moose–we saw each other about 30 feet away. Absolutely terrifying)
Replication costs money
The Fame Trap


White people don’t talk about racism
The great historic house museum debate: Do we have too many? The surprising fight over a quirky, dusty, and endangered American institution
The Internet’s Original Sin
Try Setting a Good Example Abroad After Ferguson, America
Don’t Let Rich People Own Apartments They Don’t Live In
Seattle’s former police chief speaks out on Ferguson and police militarization
White America Has Outlawed Existing-While-Black
What We Know About Michael Brown’s High School
Lucky Duckies and Fortunate Sons
Iraq Yazidis say neighbours enabled jihadist attack
Was an Accusation of Plagiarism Really a Political Attack?

Posted in Lotsa Links | 1 Comment

I Really Hope This Isn’t How Development Works

So Cell published this cover:


If this how things work, we should all be dead:

1) In every city I’ve ever been in, the Red Line is always screwed up.
2) The Green Line is always fucked.
3) The Blue and Orange Lines always have off-rush hour repairs.

Intelligent Design, my ass.

This ends a Very Serious Post.

Posted in Humor, Transportation | Leave a comment

The Weakest Link in Any Secure System Is a Human: The CDC-Influenza Edition

As you might expect, the CDC released its report on how its influenza lab managed to accidentally ship an influenza sample contaminated with avian influenza late in the day on an August Friday. Shocking, I know (and pdf format makes it that much easier to work with too! Or something).

Anyway, it looks like a combination of all too-human errors and pressures led to the contamination (pdf; boldface mine):

The Team 1 laboratory scientist involved in the incident indicated that the following procedures were used: inoculation of the MDCK cell culture with the H9N2 virus; decontamination of the biosafety cabinet (BSC) using a standard protocol; and then inoculation of the MDCK cell culture with the two H5N1 viruses. A minimum of 1.5 hours (30 min for inoculation of H9N2; 30 min for decontamination of the BSC; and 30 min for inoculation of the two H5N1 strains) would have been required to process the specimens as described by the Team 1 laboratory scientist. Additional time would have been needed for set up time at the BSC, movement of materials from the BSC to the incubator, showering out of the BSL3-E laboratory suite, and other actions required to complete the work.

The card key readers indicated that the Team 1 laboratory scientist entered the BSL3-E suite at 10:13 AM, and accessed the freezer with the H5N1 and H9N2 virus strains twice (at 10:50 and 10:54 AM). The Team 1 laboratory scientist manually signed out of the BSL3-E suite at 11:45 AM. A total of 51 minutes elapsed from when the Team 1 laboratory scientist accessed the agents in the freezer to when this staff member exited the BSL3-E suite. During the 51 minutes, the Team 1 laboratory scientist also would have been required to shower out of the suite and change into street clothes. Therefore, the time that this staff member performed the cell culture work was substantially less than the 1.5 hours that would have been required if the protocol had been followed.

Because there is no written documentation (i.e., a laboratory notebook or other notes), it is not possible to say conclusively what actions the Team 1 laboratory scientist did and how they were done. However, the 1.5 hour-protocol could not have been followed during the 51 minutes that the Team 1 laboratory scientist was in the BSL3-E suite. When interviewed, the Team 1 laboratory scientist acknowledged being rushed to attend a laboratory meeting at noon. The Team 1 laboratory scientist also indicated being unable to specifically remember the events since they had taken place almost 6 months previously. The Team 1 laboratory scientist further described following a “best practices” protocol for temporal separation of LPAI and HPAI virus propagation; however, this laboratory did not have a written, approved laboratory team-specific SOP for the work that the Team 1 laboratory scientist was doing.

The Team 1 lead, the Team 1 laboratory scientist who conducted the cell culture inoculations, the VSDB Branch Chief, the ID Director, and others noted the Division’s heavy work load at the time of the incident. The ID laboratories were under substantive pressure to generate data for the upcoming WHO Vaccine Consultation Meeting in February 2014. The ID typically provides 50%-75% of the data reviewed at these meetings.

While there are some good recommendations in the report, including the testing of samples, the real problem here was human nature: someone was rushed, and the team was worked very hard.

But I’m sure this has no relevance whatsoever to the debate around recreating the Spanish influenza strain. Couldn’t possibly happen again.

Posted in CDC, Influenza | Leave a comment

Links 8/17/14

Links for you. Science:

Dialing it up to eleven
How Much Logging Can Tropical Forests Withstand? (one thing to remember is that much of the tropical rainforest has already been affected by humans centuries ago; in some places, especially near rivers and floodplains, the ‘wild’ forest is reclaimed farmland)
Phengodidae Sp. (glowworms)
Insects eat up more urban trash than rats do—and they’re dying out


Phosphorus and Freedom: The Libertarian Fantasy (excellent)
The New Racism: This is how the civil rights movement ends (excellent)
Why is enterprise software so bad?
Washington DC from murder capital to boomtown
Midwestern Police Trying New ‘Shoot All Black People’ Approach
We Have a Rape Gif Problem and Gawker Media Won’t Do Anything About It
That problem from Hell again
A culture of envy
Republican fear-mongering on Iraq isn’t going to work
The creator of Godwin’s Law on the inevitability of online Nazi analogies and the ‘right to be forgotten’
Why Black Campaign Staffers Get Screwed
A school choice advocate argues for a student assignment proposal that no longer exists (not a bad proposal but Boston’s is better)
The Entitlement of the Very Rich

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The Universal Explanation For Any Child-Related Problems

You might have seen similar sentiments on this blog once or twice:


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