Links 1/26/23

Links for you. Science:

Cooperative hydrodynamics accompany multicellular-like colonial organization in the unicellular ciliate Stentor
When M.D. is a Machine Doctor
Risk of debilitating illness from long Covid could grow – epidemiologist Michael Baker
Codetections of Other Respiratory Viruses Among Children Hospitalized With COVID-19
‘Extinction crisis’ of sharks and rays to have devastating effect on other species, study finds
Lab-leak fears are putting virologists under scrutiny

Other:

New research about gas stoves ignited intense online debate last week about the politics of regulating American homes (dull title, excellent piece with bonus Yglesias dunking)
New Mexico shooting suspect shows Republicans seek a violent solution to rejection. From the Big Lie to Twitter to their families, Republicans refuse to peacefully admit that they’re unpopular
The Supreme Court’s sham leak investigation exposes John Roberts as a partisan hack: The Supreme Court still does not deserve our trust
When It Comes to Twitter, Mainstream News Outlets Should Take a Cue From Fox News. Seriously.
Nurses Are Burned Out and Fed Up. For Good Reason.
Elon Musk’s Appetite for Destruction
Asymmetrical Conspiracism Is Hurting Democracy
I Hate Everybody
You’re Not Negotiating “in Good Faith” When You’ve Got a Gun to the Economy’s Head
The Priesthood
Kathy Hochul gives multi-billionaire $850 million in state money because reasons
Can somebody heighten this contradiction?
The Calls for More Progress on Space Governance Are Growing Louder
Biden should stop worrying and learn to love the platinum coin (yes, he should)
Former smol synagogues
America, the Bland: Across the country, new developments are starting to look the same, raising fears that cities are losing their unique charm. But in the current housing crisis, does that matter?
Speaking of Riding the Bus, Uh
Supreme Court to Poor People: Have You Tried Being Less Poor?
The Enduring, Invisible Power of Blond
Elon Musk Can’t Solve Twitter’s ‘Shadowbanning’ Problem. For several years, social-media users have expressed anxiety about algorithmic suppression. Now they’re getting some unexpected clarity.
Behold the Full, Completely Real Resumé of George Santos. OK, it’s hard to say “full” when there are new items dropping every day. But here’s what we’ve got so far.
My conversation with Brazilian Drag Queen Eula Rochard
What the Supreme Court Left Out of Its Dobbs-Leak Report: Did they talk to Alito? Who can say?
Why does Tucker keep identifying fascists and violent insurrectionists with ordinary conservatives?
Blue states can show us a way out of red state culture-war madness

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COVID and Streptococcus

Over the last few months, there has been quite the internet kerfuffle about whether COVID infections result in a subsequent susceptibility to other infections (I’m trying to avoid some of the terminology used because it often has been used very imprecisely). I’ve been on the fence: the RSV data from several countries suggests that, for RSV, its severity has risen post-COVID, but there are other straightforward explanations for other pathogens such as influenza (lack of exposure and lower vaccination rates).

With that as prelude, there’s a recent study from Israel that compared various long COVID-related symptoms in people who were and were not infected (the uninfected provide a baseline as a control). Here’s what they found, and for this post, focus on the panel that has streptococcal tonsilitis:

Template (research)

Until seven months after infection or so, those who have been infected, have a 10%-30% higher rate of streptococcal tonsilitis–and that peaks at around four months. This is not a case of a higher risk for a few weeks after infection, which is well known (and not surprising) for multiple pathogens.

Mind you, that’s the relative increase for all people in streptococcal infections. Here’s how it breaks down by age–and the significant effects are found in children (boldface mine):

In the 12-18 years subgroup (supplementary tables S4c and S4i), streptococcal tonsillitis remained significantly high during early and late phases (early: hazard ratio 1.68 (1.40 to 2.02) and risk difference 37.4 (21.5 to 53.3); late: 1.55 (1.33 to 1.81) and 57.3 (33.2 to 81.4) respectively) whereas anosmia and dysgeusia (hazard ratio 23.50, 5.48 to 100.86; risk difference 15.6, 10.1 to 21.0), dyspnoea (1.70, 1.36 to 2.12; 32.4, 17.9 to 46.8), and weakness (1.66, 1.41 to 1.96; 55.2, 35.7 to 74.7) were significantly high during the early phase only.

In the 5-11 years subgroup (supplementary tables S4b and S4h), streptococcal tonsillitis was significantly higher during early and late phases (early: 1.25 (1.15 to 1.36) and risk difference 50.7 (17.9 to 83.5); late: 1.12 (1.05 to 1.21) and 50.0 (−1.5 to 101.5), respectively), whereas risk of conjunctivitis was significantly higher in the early phase (hazard ratio 1.24, 1.07 to 1.43; risk difference 35.7, 9.1 to 62.3) and sore throat during the late phase (1.54, 1.20 to 1.97; 29.7, 10.5 to 48.9).

In the youngest 0-4 years age group (supplementary tables S4a and S4g), we observed elevated risk for conjunctivitis (hazard ratio 1.18, 1.08 to 1.29; risk difference 147.3, 51.3 to 243.3) and dyspnoea (1.22, 1.11 to 1.35; 121.9, 47.8 to 196.0) only during the early phase.

So parents with elementary school-aged kids, you might not be imagining things. Depending on their age, kids who have had COVID are roughly 50% more likely to get streptococcal tonsilitis according to this study.

The good news is that this elevated risk in kids isn’t very high in absolute terms: it’s around 0.5%*. That said, the absolute effect averages across seasons; if the increase is concentrated at certain times of the year, that ‘surge’ will be difficult to handle. From a public health perspective–in particular, keeping hospitals from being overwhelmed–is that “1-most” (which is the percentage of sick kids) is very dependent on the size of most: small changes in the likelihood of illness can overwhelm hospital capacity, even though most kids will still be fine (not require hospital treatment).

It’s also unclear how general this effect is. Is it a few kids who are very susceptible or a more general modest increase in susceptibility? We also don’t know if this applies to other respiratory infections. Unfortunately, they don’t have data for RSV or influenza, though those weren’t very common during much of the study period.

From a policy perspective, if we’re de facto going to ‘lie back and think Biden’**, which is to say, tolerate having multiple COVID infections every year, we should consider a rise in childhood infectious diseases to be very possible. It’s not TEH AIDS!!, but it very well could make a lot of other things worse.

*I think the sample sizes are too small, but vaccination doesn’t appear to do much in this case.

**Ick.

Posted in COVID-19 | Leave a comment

Links 1/25/23

Links for you. Science:

New insights into deadly fungal invasion in people with compromised immune systems (paper here)
Comparative Proteomics of Outer Membrane Vesicles from Polymyxin-Susceptible and Extremely Drug-Resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae
The Last Of Us Fungal Outbreak Is Terrifying, But Is It Realistic?
Data Snapshot: Are we overcounting Covid-19 deaths? No. (paging Dr. Leana Wen…)
“I was appalled to see the prime minister making those comments”: A U of T epidemiologist on the myth of immunity debt and the real reason everyone’s getting sick (Canadian media seem much more open to the possibility of some kind of post-COVID immune system function)
There’s Been An Uptick In Canine Influenza Around D.C. Here’s What To Know

Other:

Matt Yglesias and the secret of blogging: How to be a successful content entrepreneur (the other thing–might have to blog about it–is not getting caught up in what you write or taking it seriously, which is a problem when you have his reach)
This 22-year-old is trying to save us from ChatGPT before it changes writing forever
J.D. Vance and the Myth of White Exceptionalism
Free speech or out of order? As meetings grow wild, officials try to tame public comment.
The Stationary Object Problem
Ron DeSantis Proposes Permanently Banning COVID-19 Mandates
Skipped court dates suggest Patriot Front members aren’t taking Idaho rioting charges seriously
Extremely Hardcore: Twitter’s staff spent years trying to protect the social media site against impulsive billionaires who wanted to use the reach of its platform for their own ends, and then one made himself the CEO.
Preening Self-Important Assholes Desperate To Be The Main Character
Why The Ongoing Nick Fuentes-Ye Alliance Is So Dangerous
What happens when you reject the idea that the system actually works?
“Gas stoves!” freak-out is the least convincing fake Republican outrage ever. Suddenly the party that despises kale and Dijon mustard wants to pretend they’re precious about culinary techniques
‘They’re here! They’re here!’: wild pigs are trying to take over Canada (30-50 at a time?)
7-Eleven store owner uses classical music to drive away homeless people
WHERE ARE YOUR FREE SPEECH GODS NOW
The Hamline files
The plan to ‘Trump-proof’ US science against political meddling
The big con
Threats to blow up the debt ceiling aren’t normal, and they aren’t coming from ‘both sides’
Supreme Court Releases Report On Dobbs Leak, Fails To Find Suspect
The IRS, Fake Populism, and the Conspiratorial Right on the Beach
Reasons for Receiving or Not Receiving Bivalent COVID-19 Booster Vaccinations Among Adults — United States, November 1–December 10, 2022
Does Kathy Hochul Really Want to Go Down With Hector LaSalle’s Sinking Ship?
Kathy Hochul’s Bad Bet: New York Gov. Kathy Hochul tried to strongarm her own party into giving her a judge. Her failure speaks volumes about how the State Senate has changed.
Websites Selling Abortion Pills Are Sharing Sensitive Data With Google

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Another Democratic Crisis

And I mean democratic with a little ‘d.’ Over the last week, several items crossed the transom that all share a common theme:

  1. The Pittsburgh police chief unilaterally decided that he would ignore City Council legislation to stop pulling drivers over for eight minor offenses, in part because he believes it would demoralize police officers.
  2. 74 Illinois sheriffs have stated they won’t enforce the Illinois ban on assault weapons.
  3. Multiple op-ed pieces recognizing that little concrete action has resulted from the Black Lives Matter campaign.

Essentially, multiple police forces (#NotAll…) have decided that they should no longer be under civilian control. We’ve witnessed multiple NYPD revolts against Democratic mayors over the years (that’s how Giuliani came to power). In 2020, Portsmouth, VA police drove political opponents who wanted to shift money from the police to other services out of office.

Meanwhile, during contract negotiations, the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association is firing off hyperbole about how “We do not want to be Seattle, New York City, Minnesota, or any other community where crime and violent crime continues to spiral out of control”: I suppose this makes him a moderate.

As some asshole with a blog noted a couple of years ago (boldface added):

This is partly a result of a failure of governance:

What has been made clear over the last couple of weeks is that, in many cities, there has been a complete loss of control by ‘civilian’ authorities over local security forces. I put ‘civilian’ in quotes because the police are supposed to be civilians, even if many of them act as if they were occupying military forces. Sure, #NotAllCities, but if you look at many cities, such as New York, Seattle, or Philadelphia, the most charitable interpretation of events is that police are ignoring elected officials.

The inability to control local and state internal security forces means there is an unelected and unaccountable branch of government, with a near monopoly on violence. It has its own ideology, and because it does not have to respond to voters–that is, their fellow citizens–they are free to pursue their own ideology, even at the expense of those they govern.

As I noted last week, the creation of this unaccountable branch of government occurred in many places, including those dominated by Democrats.

I have no idea if or when things will blow up again–individual catalysts are hard, if not impossible, to predict. But Democrats need to get their supposedly civilian police forces under control, at least in the places where they are trying to do so. So far, they haven’t been successful.

Posted in Democrats, The Rule of Law | 5 Comments

Links 1/24/23

Links for you. Science:

COVID-19 vaccines and sudden deaths: Separating fact from fiction
Antimicrobial Resistance: A Major Threat To The Promise Of Healthy Aging (no mention of surveillance or diagnostics though)
Immunological memory to SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 vaccines
Protection conferred by Delta and BA.1/BA.2 infection against BA.4/BA.5 infection and hospitalization: A Retrospective Cohort Study
The Who-Ate-Whom of Terms in Biology: Virovory
Do elephants puke?

Other:

Progressive Policy Concern Trolls (excellent)
Driven by Election Deniers, This County Recounted 2020 Votes Last Week (bugshit crazy)
Democrats respond to GOP calls for debt ceiling negotiations: No
Dwindling Snow Leaves Swiss Alpine Villages Staring at an Identity Crisis
Newspaper Prints Heavily-Edited, Sanitized Version of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” Speech
Arizona city cuts off a neighborhood’s water supply amid drought
Why the U.S. Will Lose its Next War
NCAA
NYPD’s Track Record on Overtime Spending Casts Doubt on Budget Claims (it’s already twice as much as the NYC public library budget)
Alarmed by A.I. Chatbots, Universities Start Revamping How They Teach
Biden just outmaneuvered MAGA Republicans — and they barely noticed
For Folks Who ‘Back the Blue,’ House Republicans Sure Seem Skeptical About Enforcing Laws
Election Deniers Were Never Going to Stick to the Courtroom. One disturbed candidate in New Mexico is the local manifestation of the political violence we saw at the national level.
Ohio’s Internal Battle Reveals New Fronts In The Abortion War
Former President of FTX US breaks silence, says SBF was insecure, volatile and spiteful, threatened to “destroy my professional reputation”
All In The Family: Fringe NY Political Group Paid George Santos’ Sister And His Other Associates
Why Mark Zuckerberg Should Face the Threat of Jail (for better or for worse, this would eviscerate social media’s current business model)
Tesla video promoting self-driving was staged, senior engineer testifies
‘There’s a real crisis in American Jewry’ — a new book warns of worsening deadlock in U.S.-Israel relationship: In ‘We Are Not One: A History of America’s Fight Over Israel’, the historian exposes uncomfortable truths about the two nations’ unique relationship
Buying Influence
This Sure Looks Like George Santos In Drag As Kitara Ravache
SBF, Bored Ape Yacht Club, and the Spectacular Hangover After the Art World’s NFT Gold Rush
Congress should be able to function in a crisis; Republicans just made that more difficult
Florida Man Calls the Thought Police
The White House Is Considering Broad Actions to Expand Tenant Protections

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We Should Offer Boosters Every Six Months, Not Yearly

This week, FDA advisors will be meeting to discuss, among other things, if the COVID vaccine should be switched to a yearly schedule. I think this is a bad idea, and instead, we should give people the option to get boosted every six months.

The reality of our current COVID (non-)response is vaccination is the only mitigation strategy we have in the U.S. Unlike Davos attendees, most Americans have not experienced improvements in ventilation. Tests are still too expensive (in no small part due to the new White House Chief of Staff Zients), and many employers frankly don’t care if you test positive. Masking is non-existent in most places in the U.S. (and even actively discouraged in some places–because too many people are assholes). Meanwhile, we are not funding a Warp Speed 2.0 for either intranasal vaccines or vaccines that also contain nucleocapsid as an antigen.

So, like I said, vaccination is the sole prevention strategy. People can not afford to miss work for two to three weeks as the COVID safety net has been slashed, never mind what would happen if they contract long COVID. Others have caretaking responsibilities–and I doubt the FDA advisory board is going to pitch in and make some visits on your behalf.

To the extent a booster shot provides additional protection against infection (not just severe acute disease), even if only for a few months after the booster, the lived reality for many Americans is they need that protection as limited as it is because they have been abandoned.

You can’t make vaccination the centerpiece of your COVID (sort of) prevention strategy, and then not let people access it.

Unfortunately, the FDA advisors, throughout the entire pandemic, appear to have normative assumptions (what ought to be) that are massively out of sync with many Americans, so I’m preparing myself to be disappointed once again.

Posted in COVID-19 | Leave a comment

Links 1/23/23

Links for you. Science:

You May Miss These Parasites When They’re Gone
At NASA, Dr. Z Was OK With Some Missions Failing
Even a Little Alcohol Can Harm Your Health
NSF still won’t track sexual orientation among scientific workforce, prompting frustration
Shifting Mortality Dynamics in the United States During the COVID-19 Pandemic as Measured by Years of Life Lost
See the Largest Flower Ever Found Encased in Amber

Other:

Will It Be Morning in Joe Biden’s America? (for me, the dark horse is long COVID. For many reasons, I hope I’m wrong)
What the Jan. 6 probe found out about social media, but didn’t report
‘Dismay and anxiety’ on college campuses as DeSantis ramps up anti-CRT campaign
The ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ Bubble Is About to Burst
The Disappearance of the Hit-Driven Business Model
Proposed Bill Would Give D.C. Residents $400 Or More In Rebates For Electric Bikes
Drone Photography Celebrates the Beauty of Historic High-Rise Buildings in the U.S.
Did Long Island Send A Brazilian Citizen And Russian Agent To Congress?
Skipped Showers, Paper Plates: An Arizona Suburb’s Water Is Cut Off
Wastewater Infectious Disease Surveillance Pilot Study Established at Toronto Airport
TikTok Walmart retirement isn’t cause for celebration, it’s a dystopian nightmare
I asked Chat GPT to write a song in the style of Nick Cave and this is what it produced. What do you think?
Several celebrities test positive for COVID after Golden Globes
Forever Covid
“We’re relying on each other to carry us through” – Faculty at Hamline Speak Out
The World Is Made Of Smoke So I Stink
For long covid fatigue, a strategy called ‘pacing’ helps, but at a cost. Taking a lesson from people with chronic fatigue, many patients with long covid are scaling back daily activity to cope
Slipping
How Eric Adams Started Mentoring a Con Man
PROJECTpipes Solidifies D.C.’s Reliance on Methane
Justifying attack on Social Security, House Republican claims people ‘want to work longer’
6 things people believe about politics that are totally wrong
Three Reasons the Republican Party Keeps Coming Apart at the Seams (#2 is pretty good)
Who Are the Christian Nationalists? A Taxonomy for the Post-Jan. 6 World
Man Attempts to Build Giant Mechanical Hexapod Spider

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Well, He Did Such a Great Job Combatting COVID

It would appear Jeff Zients will be Biden’s new White House Chief of Staff.

And, no, he did not do a good job with COVID. Not at all. He was bad. Yep.

Also, Zients seems to have done some very questionable fraudlent things as a healthcare CEO.

Naturally, the Biden administration is hoping Democratic ‘influencers’ will make this choice more palatable.

(Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for our incompetent political press corps to ask Biden et alia what percentage of vaccinated and boosted people with breakthrough infections will contact debilitating long COVID).

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Links 1/22/23

Links for you. Science:

Long COVID: major findings, mechanisms and recommendations
Long Covid can be debilitating, even for healthy kids
Scientists inch closer to learning origins of mysterious ‘fairy circles’
In California, a drought turned to floods. Forecasters didn’t see it coming.
The moon beckons once again, and this time NASA wants to stay
Peter Hotez on new COVID XBB1.5 variant: ‘People are saying this will be mild. It’s not mild’

Other:

Kraken, Elon Musk and dead Canadian doctors: Disinformation surges 3 years into the pandemic
Inflation Is Slowing — Without the Higher Unemployment Larry Summers Said Was Necessary
The GOP’s New Crusade Is Destroying America’s Comeback
Merrick Garland Has Risked Justice by Betting on Impartiality
The Dangerous Decline of the Historical Profession
Kevin McCarthy Wants to Hold China Accountable. His Top Aide Lobbied for Alibaba.
Kathy Hochul Will Do “Everything” to Force an Anti-Union Judge Onto New York’s Highest Court
Lear’s two daughters: Which doth love America most?
Twitter’s Latest ‘Feature’ Is How You Know Elon Musk Is in Over His Head. It’s the Cautionary Tale Every Business Needs to Hear. Musk is making changes that are actively hostile to Twitter’s users.
‘People aren’t taking this seriously’: experts say US Covid surge is big risk
Kellyanne Conway and The New York Times, perfect together
The widening Jair
How a War on Porn Is Endangering US Sex Workers
The New York State Democratic Party
Australian governments have kept much of their COVID research and modelling secret. Why?
The debt ceiling is an absurd problem. Only an absurd solution can save us.
How Restaurant Workers Help Pay for Lobbying to Keep Their Wages Low
What Does It Mean to Reinvent Journalism?
Former GOP candidate arrested in shootings at N.M. Democrats’ homes
How to fix the Supreme Court: Congress has the power, and simply isn’t using it
Get a Spine; Trump’s a Crook, Biden’s Not
Should Insurrectionists Permanently Forfeit Their Electoral Rights?
Failed Republican candidate arrested in shootings targeting Democratic politicians’ homes
Our Split-Level NeoFascism
The Getty Family’s Trust Issues

Posted in Lotsa Links | 1 Comment

Links 1/21/23

Links for you. Science:

One-year cardiovascular outcomes after coronavirus disease 2019: The cardiovascular COVID-19 registry
Finally read that “disruption paper” everyone is talking about. Key missed point: “While the share of disruptive papers has fallen, the number of highly-disruptive papers hasn’t.”
When Darkness Falls, Three Friends Find Ancient Art. Some Norwegian hobbyists are having a great time uncovering hundreds of Bronze Age carvings. Their discoveries have lent weight to theories about what the mysterious images mean.
Effectiveness of the Bivalent mRNA Vaccine in Preventing Severe COVID-19 Outcomes: An Observational Cohort Study
Is ‘Long Covid’ similar to ‘Long SARS’?
Dolphins Can Shout Underwater, but It’s Never Loud Enough

Other:

The missing workers who are never coming back
An Appeals Court Wants to Bring Back Bump Stocks, Beloved by Mass Shooters
Iowa GOP Official’s Wife Charged For Voter Fraud Scheme
COVID’s not exactly back, because it never went away
Florida High School Cancels Production of Indecent; Students Say It’s Because of ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Laws
Getting lung cancer to own the libs: House Republicans want to make smoking great again
Are Cities Too Reliant on Twitter? Social media platforms have become key communication tools for government agencies. The recent suspension of the DC Metrobus account shows the perils.
Mint the Trillion-Dollar Platinum Coin, Dark Brandon! The debt ceiling is a legendarily ridiculous problem. Fortunately, there is a ridiculously legendary solution. (got there first about the absurdity)
Harbor City called George Santos a ‘perfect fit.’ The SEC called the company a fraud.
Debt Ceiling
The happiest, least stressful, most meaningful jobs in America
If your job title is something like ‘carpet shampoo manager,’ it’s a red flag for wage theft
Brazil’s military blocked arrests of Bolsonaro rioters, officials say
New House Homeland Security Committee Chair Has History Of Anti-Muslim Comments
NYT Moves to ‘Stack the Deck of Justice’ Against Its Subscribers
The Deep State Awards. Want a government contract? Act like the corporate lobbyists at the Information Technology Industry Council. Invent an award and give it to public officials in charge of handing out contracts.
Why Do Documents Marked Secret Keep Showing Up in Strange Places?
Wife Slapper Dana White Has Suffered Enough? Legal jurisprudence has a new standard and crime is now the punishment.
Sick and Alone: Fighting the pandemic through individual choice meant not fighting the pandemic.
Why Republican Politicians Still Hate Medicare
I Didn’t Do It
Santos’s Lies Were Known to Some Well-Connected Republicans
America Will Never Put Its Teen Curfews to Bed
MacKenzie Scott is shaking up philanthropy’s traditions. Is that a good thing?
Hate speech rises on Twitter in its largest markets after Musk takeover

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