Links 11/23/20

Links for you. Science:

2 Companies Say Their Vaccines Are 95% Effective. What Does That Mean?
Scientists Create a Buzz With the First Ever Global Map of Bee Species
What the data say about asymptomatic COVID infections
Public Health Programs See Surge in Students Amid Pandemic
As COVID-19 soars in many communities, schools attempt to find ways through the crisis


Been Around This Block Before
Save America’s Restaurants: A fresh round of federal aid can keep restaurants in business during the winter months while protecting public health.
America’s Best-Prepared Hospital Is Nearly Overwhelmed
Entire Staff Quits (Again) Over Coffee Shop Owner’s Alleged Sexual Harassment and Covid Denials
Biden’s top unification task: Expose Trump team wrongdoing, restore trust in government
The crackpot factor: Why the GOP is worried about turning out the vote after Trump
If Biden Wants to Be Like F.D.R., He Needs the Left
GSA official blocking Biden’s transition appears to privately plan post-Trump career
Scotland inches closer to investigating Trump for money laundering
I Suffered, Therefore So Must Others
Social distancing is a luxury many can’t afford. Vermont actually did something about it.
‘Reach Out to Trump Supporters,’ They Said. I Tried. (it’s time for them to do the work)
Biden’s Mr. Austerity: Bruce Reed
A Popular Political Site Made a Sharp Right Turn. What Steered It? (though it was always conservative, just not The Federalist, which is deranged)
“Other countries have social safety nets. The U.S. has women.”
How Trump and Netanyahu made American antisemitism come alive. For four years, Netanyahu has equated Jews with the Israeli government, while Trump has made common cause with white nationalists. I wish more Israelis understood why this was so terrifying.
Congressional Progressives Are Revamping Their Caucus With an Eye Toward 2021. With nearly 100 members, the CPC’s large size and loose requirements have been an obstacle to its ability to be a cohesive force.
Things are shipshape at the Army and Navy Club on Farragut Square in D.C.
Census takers say they were told to enter false information

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The State of COVID-19 in D.C.: Our Response Is a Kinder, Gentler Trumpism

Needless to say, that means the state of the state is not good. It was another disastrous week for COVID-19 in D.C. The entire city and all wards, including the ‘low prevalence bastions’ of Ward 2 and 3, are now well above the German rollback threshold of 50 new cases per 100,000 per week (0.05% in the second column below):

Ward one-week prevalence one-week % pos two-week prevalence two-week % pos
1 0.143% 2.3% 0.249% 2.3%
2 0.131% 1.5% 0.254% 1.6%
3 0.074% 1.6% 0.158% 1.8%
4 0.179% 4.1% 0.351% 4.4%
5 0.197% 3.9% 0.343% 3.8%
6 0.205% 2.7% 0.404% 3.1%
7 0.188% 6.4% 0.317% 5.4%
8 0.169% 5.2% 0.309% 4.9%
D.C. total 0.164% 2.8% 0.300% 2.8%

For context, in column two, the ‘good place’, which is one new case per 100,000 people per day, is 0.007%. We’re nowhere near that now. The ‘best’ ward, Ward 3, is ten times higher than that. Worse, in Wards 4, 5, 7, and 8, the percent positive rate is too high, meaning the counts in those wards are likely significant underestimates. In every ward, except for Ward 3, the prevalence has increased. And of course, we’ve blown by the phase 1 rollback metric of 15 news cases per 100,000 people per day in every ward, except in Ward 3.

I actually think we might see a leveling off next week or even a modest decrease, since we had a cold snap that keep a lot of people home, potentially lowering transmission. But Thanksgiving likely will lead to a spike in cases. Unfortunately, the deaths coming down the pike are baked in–if we’re lucky, and we might be since many of the cases seem to be occurring in the under fifty set, we’ll likely have ten deaths this week.

This is where D.C. is right now: our COVID-19 response plan appears to be exhorting people to wear masks even more than they are (though they’re not contacting people directly) and hoping for inclement weather. That is, there’s no plan.

It’s obvious what needs to happen: we need to tighten restrictions. The city won’t do that, however, because it needs revenue, so people will get sick and die for money. I’m not surprised Bowser has adopted this line because I expect Bowser to do her usual when faced with a crisis: hunker down and hope it resolves itself or is forgotten.

Unfortunately, you can’t bullshit the virus.

But the D.C. Council also is failing–if nothing else, members have a political opportunity here–and there’s nothing wrong when opportunism is aligned with good policy. My hunch about the D.C. Council’s actions is that it is one part hunkering down and one part stone cold ignorance of biology and math. They know lots of things, such as the ins and outs of housing policy. But here isn’t anyone on the Council or their staffs (or enough people on staff to break through) to know what to ask and how to ask it.

So we are left with a kinder, gentler Trumpism.

I’ll end with my usual, and remind everyone that, even with these horrible data, we still could be only four to six weeks away from returning to normal-ish, but we intentionally remain four to six weeks away from safely returning to normal-ish because we’re unwilling to do what it takes to make that happen.

Anger isn’t the appropriate emotion, rage is.

Posted in COVID-19, DC | Leave a comment

Links 11/22/20

Links for you. Science:

Government-Funded Scientists Laid the Groundwork for Billion-Dollar Vaccines
Cautious optimism: Early vaccine data suggests COVID-19 nightmare really will end some day
These Four-Foot Lizards Will Eat Anything—and They’re Invading the Southeastern U.S. (murder hornets?)
What Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine results mean for ending the pandemic
2 Companies Say Their Vaccines Are 95% Effective. What Does That Mean?


D.C. Launches Tool That Lets Renters Search Outstanding Housing Violations
The Other America: The New Politics of the Poor in Joe Biden’s (and Mitch McConnell’s) USA
Trump’s Capitol Death Grip Worsens COVID Surge. “We’re going into a very dark winter,” says President-elect Biden. By spring there could be nearly half a million COVID-19 American deaths.
Salad Days Will Take You Out of Your House and Into the Punk Scene
Divided Government Will Doom the Economy. As Washington dithers, the country will suffer.
After excess police overtime topped $40 million, D.C. Council moves to increase oversight
Dr. Céline Gounder, Adviser to Biden, on the Next Covid Attack Plan
White women didn’t desert Trump in the election. Polls show some white men did.
The Pandemic Safety Rule That Really Matters
Amy Coney Barrett’s Faith? Off-Limits. Raphael Warnock’s? Fair Game.
States Need Federal Money to Do the Right Thing
Rahm Emanuel Is Pushing for Transportation Secretary Post: Emanuel and Biden’s complicated relationship goes back to tensions around the 1994 crime bill.
The Campaign Against Raphael Warnock Is Already Shot Through With Unreconstructed Racism
Far-right rhetoric around election ratchets into violent threats against political, media figures
40 Years of Republican Politics Came to a Head at the Wayne County Board of Canvassers
The Republican Party Is Dead. It’s the Trump Cult Now.
And Here I Had Some Faint Hope for Biden
A Democracy Needs Imagination as Much as It Needs Elections. The coming collapse of the Arecibo telescope, an icon of The Space Age, feels simply disastrous in the current American moment.
Joe Biden’s Four-Year Plan. It’s deceptively simple: help as many people as you can, as quickly and as transparently as you can. (we’ll see…)
Inheritance, not work, has become the main route to middle-class home ownership

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Creepy Donnie

Though when isn’t he creepy? Observed at the corner of 16th and P Streets NW, Dupont Circle, D.C.:


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Links 11/21/20

Links for you. Science:

Bolivia’s Tsimane people’s average body temperature fell half a degree in 16 years
Unwanted guests: Stink bugs set to invade DC-area homes
349 Locals Have Helped Researchers Discover A Lot About COVID-19 Vaccine
D.C. Researchers Spent The Last Two Years Taking Photos For The Cat Census
With strong data on two Covid-19 vaccines, we have more answers about the road ahead — and questions too
One in six Texans infected with COVID-19, study estimates


Rahmbo And The Space Karen
Trump Has Appointed 2 White Nationalists To Government Roles Since Losing The Election
Joe Biden Must Not Look for Unity in Mitch McConnell’s Obstruction
We need an investigation into Lindsey Graham’s intervention in Georgia
How We Can Stop the Spread of COVID-19 By Christmas (overly optimistic, but more testing is desperately needed–defense in depth should be the strategy)
A Game Designer’s Analysis Of QAnon
My No. 1 Thanksgiving tip: Don’t gather this year
Democrats need to bring retirement back to politics
How to Save the Pandemic Generation.Canceling student debt will prevent irreversible wealth loss in younger Americans. But they’re not the only ones who would benefit.
Donald Trump and Being Deplorable
More than a third of 83 people who attended Ohio wedding test positive for Covid-19 (note that nothing illegal was done; we need tighter restrictions)
Kimberly Guilfoyle offered lap dance to big-ticket fundraiser who gave Trump the most money
Trump’s presidential library will be a shrine to his ego
Pfizer vaccine’s success is great news – but don’t expect life to ‘return to normal by spring’
Rapid Testing Is Less Accurate Than the Government Wants to Admit
Alaska votes to become the first state in America to adopt the ‘top-four’ primary system
America doesn’t want unity. It wants absolution without restitution
I Have Moved on From Resenting the President’s Enablers to Resenting the Enablers of His Enablers
The President Lost Handily and He Hates the Job Anyway. He Should Resign.
Ivanka Trump Was My Best Friend. Now She’s MAGA Royalty
What happened to that ‘blue wave’?
I Am Living in a Covid-Free World Just a Few Hundred Miles From Manhattan

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In Case You Missed It…

…a week of Mad Biologist posts:

Stead Sunset

The State of COVID-19 in D.C.: We Need to Rollback

“Defund the Police” Isn’t a Crisis, It’s an Opportunity

It’s 2020, and Democrats Still Don’t Understand Their Voters

Will There Ever Be Specifics in Political Journalism or Reverse Cletus Safaris?

Some Friday Schadenfreude: the Voter Suppression Edition

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Links 11/20/20

Links for you. Science:

8 Stories of People Who Recovered From Covid—and Still Deal With the Consequences
The Batteries of the Future Are Weightless and Invisible
How Bunny the dog is pushing scientists’ buttons
A nest filled with hundreds of ‘murder hornets’ was destroyed ‘just in the nick of time,’ officials say
Baraka, the zoo’s giant silverback gorilla, gets a checkup — inside and out


Metro considers buyouts to stave off 1,400 layoffs due to pandemic-created financial crisis
Gray Wolves — The Fascists Nobody Wants To Talk About
Biden Fills Economic Posts With Experts on Systemic Racism
How a Minneapolis Suburb Turned Blue, Despite Trump’s Law-and-Order Pitch
Donald Trump’s Disastrous Presidency Was A Conservative Failure (the COVID-19 response was a typical conservative failure)
Abolish the electoral college
Can Mitch McConnell do the right thing just once?
The District provides more hotel rooms for some of its most vulnerable residents during the pandemic
Why the Left Should Ally With Small Business
A covid-fighting tool is buried in your phone. Turn it on. Millions of Americans now have access to free, anonymous coronavirus exposure notifications. Too bad so few people use them. (D.C.’s version is here)
The long goodbye to Donald Trump
What You Think Is Important Isn’t, Stupid Activists
Trump May Need to Be Impeached and Removed Before Inauguration Day. The president will not stop trying to steal the election. At the very least, he will do untold damage to the country leading up to January 20.
Open The Floodgates
Covid Denialism
How a Deadly Police Force Ruled a City. After years of impunity, the police in Vallejo, California, took over the city’s politics and threatened its people.
America needs to close down. The US is losing the fight against Covid-19. The only way to win quickly is closing down.
Student-Loan Debt Is Immoral
Drawing All the Wrong Lessons From Media’s Election 2020 Failures
Our Society Is Built On Lying And Breaking Faith
House Leadership Keeps Inexplicably Rolling Along
Congrats to Everyone in the Trump Administration Who Will Face No Consequences for Their Crimes. They will never experience an ounce of retribution from the systems that have the power to hold them accountable.
The Littlest Prince: Donald Trump will leave the White House in a blaze of truthless tweets and hapless coup attempts. Did we really expect anything else?

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Some Friday Schadenfreude: the Voter Suppression Edition

In the midst of…[gestures wildly at everything], we shouldn’t deny ourselves the pleasures of schadenfreude. As you might have guessed, this is a post about Donald Trump.

We go to the state of Georgia (boldface mine):

In an interview with WSB, [Georgia Secretary of State] Raffensperger said there were 24,000 Republicans in Georgia who voted in the June primaries, but “did not vote in the fall either.”

“They did not vote absentee because they were told by the president don’t go to absentee, it’s not secure,” Raffensperger said. “But then they did not come out and vote in person.”

“He would have won by 10,000 votes,” Raffensperger said. “He actually depressed, suppressed his own voting base.

Womp womp. This should probably get more play, though it shouldn’t take away from the spectacular efforts of so many Georgia GOTV people.

(Akshually, a few of the Republicans might have changed their minds, but, even so, Raffensperger still is probably correct.)

People shouldn’t engage in voter suppression: I do want everyone to vote, even if they’re stupid, but when vote suppressors who have done horrible things screw themselves over, schadenfreude is ok. If it’s going to happen, might as well take down the cheating assholes who want to suppress voters.

Also, we’re really lucky Trump et alia are very stupid. I’m afraid the next crop won’t be quite as stupid.

Posted in Conservatives, Fucking Morons, Voting | Leave a comment

Links 11/19/20

Links for you. Science:

Digging the Rabbit Hole, COVID-19 Edition: Anti-Vaccine Themes and the Discourse Around COVID-19
Cytokine storms play a limited role in moderate-to-severe COVID-19
Key senator raises doubts about 2024 human lunar return
Did This Building Grow a Beard? Nope. Those Are Legs. Daddy longlegs will sometimes collect in large groups. Don’t mistake their dangling limbs for fur.
Multiple COVID-19 Outbreaks Linked to a Wedding Reception in Rural Maine — August 7–September 14, 2020


The Enraging Deja Vu of a Third Coronavirus Wave: Health care workers don’t need patronizing praise. They need resources, federal support, and for us to stay healthy and out of their hospitals. In many cases, none of that is happening.
During the Trump Era, Everyone and Everything in America Failed
How the Black Lives Matter memorial wall was resurrected after Trump supporters tore it down
Facebook Knows That Adding Labels To Trump’s False Claims Does Little To Stop Their Spread
The Substackerati: Did a newsletter company create a more equitable media system—or replicate the flaws of the old one?
Republicans livid over Trump’s plan to reduce troops in Afghanistan (Biden won’t, but he could use this as a pressure point with Republicans)
America’s anti-democratic Senate, by the numbers
Madison Cawthorn has tried to convert Jews to Christianity
A Lack of Transparency Is Undermining Pandemic Policy. Official guidance seems handed down from on high, rather than based on studies. That will make it harder to beat Covid-19.
A student debt jubilee should be a no-brainer
Madison Cawthorn arrives in Washington: The 25-year-old Republican upstart defeated his opponent Moe Davis in the race to represent western North Carolina
Guardian Detroit Bank (1930) Brightmoor, Detroit, MI
Trump will leave office soon. But we can’t let him escape accountability for his misdeeds.
‘No One Is Listening to Us’. More people than ever are hospitalized with COVID-19. Health-care workers can’t go on like this.
What is not your fault may be your problem
D.C. Construction Giant CBG Is Being Sued For Wage Theft
More than 130 Secret Service officers are said to be infected with coronavirus or quarantining in wake of Trump’s campaign travel (not helping D.C.’s COVID problems…)
Big John Fetterman Can Save the Democratic Party — if the Democrats Let Him
Trump’s election madness: The press gives Republicans a pass
As coronavirus surges across the country, Fox propagandists are fighting new efforts to slow its spread
How Biden swung the religious vote. Trump’s team thought religious-minded voters would save him in key states. They now appear to have turned away just enough for him to lose.
A Republican Senate Would Be Bad for Business. What’s bad for America would be bad for corporations, too.
Stop romanticizing divided government. If McConnell is majority leader, there will be no progress.

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Will There Ever Be Specifics in Political Journalism or Reverse Cletus Safaris?

One of the undercovered ‘results’ of the 2020 election is the victory celebration phenomenon: in many metro areas, people were ecstatic, as if we had just destroyed the Death Star or won a war. Despite that reaction, there are no calls for reporters to travel to the hinterlands of the Bronx to do the whole ‘Trump supporter in a Midwestern diner’ interview (aka Cletus safaris). One problem with these types of interviews is they don’t really deal in specifics:

While it would be ugly, maybe we should be much more upfront about what we mean when we say that a candidate can appeal to non-college educated white people in rural-ish areas (there are also gender and religion aspects here too). Because that statement implies that certain candidates do not appeal to non-college educated white people in rural-ish areas. For reasons. Instead of useless Cletus safaris, getting at why they don’t like a certain candidate–and some of that dislike will be ugly (racism and sexism)–would help. As I’ve been writing since November 2016, a significant fraction of the Democratic vote comes from white bigots, even as they are clearly voting in opposition to and in spite of their bigotry (to use the pollsters’ term, it’s comparable to the entire ‘Hispanic, non-white’ Democratic vote).

So, maybe being upfront–at least reporters, if not candidates, could do this–would help. If nothing else, we would be clearer about what the various components of the white working class are. At least, we would understand why many non-college educated white people in rural-ish areas don’t like certain Democrats.

Dan Froomkin makes a similar point regarding Trump supporters as a whole (boldface mine):

What upsets me most as a journalist is that even after a seemingly endless, four-year parade of articles about how Trump supporters still support Trump, we continue to lack anything like an accurate, widely agreed-upon consensus about what motivates them.

Those articles almost exclusively entail credulous stenography, passing along quotes from Trump supporters that – if you stop to think about them – don’t really explain their support at all.

Much of the time, these supporters say things that simply aren’t true – like Kathleen Skeins, the Michigan voter who told the New York Times that over the past four years, Trump had been “straightening out” government corruption. Or like the Ohio construction worker who told the Economist that Trump “got health care done, which the Democrats could never do. He built the wall.” (More examples here.)

Profiling Trump supporters like this Nebraska farmer, reporters at the Times engage in euphemisms: writing about a “sense of Trumpian kinship,” for instance, rather than openly addressing white nationalist feelings of victimization.

Journalists need to stop buying transparently bogus explanations for why people support Trump and figure out what’s really going on.

As I’ve written before, this requires a different – actually, more empathetic, and certainly more time-consuming – kind of interviewing style. It means taking a more sociological approach, asking about formative moments, about cultural background and value systems, about education, and, perhaps most importantly, about media diets. It means diving deep into the “comforting simplicity of tribe,” as the Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan put it.

Froomkin is correct, but there’s another issue as I alluded to earlier: there are very few, if any, stories going the other direction. That is, while coastal news outlets will send out reporters to Trumpist strongholds, the converse doesn’t seem to happen. Part of the reason is economic–these outlets might not have the money to do that. But it needs to happen as it’s pretty clear that people living in Trump strongholds also have no understanding of what motivates other people (though it’s not clear at all if they care to know). Remember how Portland and D.C. were supposedly on fire night after night?

This is important, because faced with a resounding defeat, conservatives also need to start the ‘healing’ work, and they won’t be able to do that without understanding Democratic areas.

Posted in Conservatives, Democrats, News Media | 1 Comment