Links 10/24/21

Links for you. Science:

Association of a Clinician’s Antibiotic-Prescribing Rate With Patients’ Future Likelihood of Seeking Care and Receipt of Antibiotics
Binge Drinking Among Adults, by Select Characteristics and State — United States, 2018
Mortality, Length of Stay, and Healthcare Costs Associated With Multidrug-Resistant Bacterial Infections Among Elderly Hospitalized Patients in the United States
Individual bacteria in structured environments rely on phenotypic resistance to phage
County-level Predictors of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Cases and Deaths in the United States: What Happened, and Where Do We Go from Here?
The impact of the COVID-19 response on the provision of other public health services in the U.S.: A cross sectional study

Other:

Dozens of Oregon law enforcement officers have been members of the far-right Oath Keepers militia
Joe Manchin Is Killing Our Future
When he claims he’s not a climate science denier, Joe Manchin is lying through his teeth
A Jan. 6 ‘blood flag’ and a Bond villain in the Senate — it’s no time to go back to brunch
Colin Powell’s death is a reminder that vaccination is about every person, not just one person
Biden administration moves to curtail toxic ‘forever chemicals’
No surrender: Progressives must not compromise on tax hikes for the rich
He Is Us
Manchin’s work requirement for child benefits would throw grandparent-led families under the bus
We Built DC Into an Urban Fortress After 9/11. And January 6 Proved It Was Penetrable.
Senate Democrats Remove Spending Bill Provision That Blocked D.C. From Legalizing Marijuana Sales
‘Nuremberg 2.0’: Why COVID Conspiracy Theorists See This Lawyer As Their Saviour
The Decision That Could Doom Democrats for a Decade
The Absolute Simplest Explanation for America’s Supply Chain Woes
It’s OK To Be Angry. How Else Will We Change the World?
Bates College Administration Censors Student Reporters Covering Staff Unionization (cancel culture tho)
Joe Manchin Versus West Virginia
Joe Manchin Doesn’t Like What Joe Biden Is Doing
Cops who joined Oath Keepers double down after being exposed as far-right extremists
The nation can’t afford two presidents. Biden has to deal with Manchin
Kentucky’s backroad churches may be key to saving hospitals overwhelmed by COVID
Colin Powell’s legacy: How his WMDs lie led to Donald Trump’s Big Lie
HERE’S CHARLIE WARZEL BOTHSIDESING THE JOE ROGAN/SANJAY GUPTA INTERVIEW

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D.C. Box

Observed at the corner of 14th and R, Logan Circle, D.C.:

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Links 10/23/21

Links for you. Science:

Defend the deep
Sea Otters Are Adorable Stewards Of Underwater Sea Grass Meadows
If You’ve Had Covid, Do You Need the Vaccine?
Drug lord Pablo Escobar smuggled hippos into Colombia. Officials are now sterilizing the invasive species.
Urgent, Comprehensive Federal Action Needed To Stem Mortality and Medicare Costs Associated With Antimicrobial Resistance
Mask Effectiveness for Preventing Secondary Cases of COVID-19, Johnson County, Iowa, USA

Other:

School board candidate’s unrepentant antisemitism seems to be a plus for Idaho Republicans
The problem with America’s semi-rich’: America’s upper-middle class works more, optimizes their kids, and is miserable. (also why housing is so expensive)
NYC Cops Log Millions of Overtime Hours. New Yorkers Don’t Feel Safer.
‘Proud Boys started showing up.’ N.H. government roiled by protests over COVID mandates
An insider’s view of China’s Communist Party: Corruption and capitalist excess
The Cross of Gold – populism, democratic iterations and the politics of money
They Gave Black Mothers in Mississippi $1,000 a Month. It Changed Their Lives.
As Manchin Blocks Climate Plan, His State Can’t Hold Back Floods
Who Is Empowered (the first sentence is critical; Manchin hasn’t played honest from the get-go)
Pramila Jayapal Won’t Let the Biden Presidency Fail
‘Hours of my life I’m never going to get back’: As offices reopen, workers resist bringing back the commute
Colin Powell Had the Chance to Be a Great Man in a Crucial Moment. He Chose to Be a Loyal Apparatchik.
Where the Suburbs End. A single-family home from the 1950s is now a rental complex and a vision of California’s future.
Sinema sells out to GOP donors and Mark Kelly still eclipses her fundraising numbers
Amid Recall Fight, One Loudoun County School Board Member Resigns
The QAnon movement was always based on neo-Nazi conspiracies. Now the mask is slipping
Racial disparities may be emerging in breakthrough infections. We must track them better.
The last days inside Trailer 83
‘Outraged, frustrated, and scared’: Pa. residents ask authorities to protect their data from GOP election review
Eric Adams Once Led Sexist Smear Campaign Against a Whistleblower Cop
Threats, Resignations and 100 New Laws: Why Public Health Is in Crisis
Backlash
Dan Snyder Still Isn’t Being Held Accountable

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In Case You Missed It…

…a week of Mad Biologist posts:

Birthday, Unfinished

De Facto General Strikes and Liberation from Fear of Falling

My Real COVID-19 Concern about Schools: What We Can Learn from D.C.’s Minimal School Testing

The State of COVID-19 in D.C.: Getting Better

We Could Mint a Platinum Coin to Deal with the Debt Ceiling

Why I Dislike Email

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Links 10/22/21

Links for you. Science:

What can masks do? Part 2: What makes for a good mask study — and why most fail
The National Zoo Started Administering COVID Shots To Animals This Week (a lion, two cheetahs, and an Allen’s swamp monkey have gone to court, seeking an injunction against the mandate)
One reason men often sweep the Nobels: few women nominees
Airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2
Virginia’s first offshore wind turbines have become a haven for marine life
Virologic features of SARS-CoV-2 infection in children

Other:

Manchin and Sinema are forcing truly terrible choices on Democrats
Vaccine mandates stoked fears of labor shortages. But hospitals say they’re working.
Britain’s Covid Missteps Cost Thousands of Lives, Inquiry Finds
Scared Students Are Using An Anonymous Twitter Account To Blast The Lack Of COVID Protocols At Their University
We must ‘boost’ COVID vaccinations to prevent a winter surge
Unemployment isn’t a good ‘fix’ for inflation
How a Librarian and a Food Historian Rediscovered the Recipes of Moorish Spain
Chartbook #46: West Virginia – the historic roadblock to US climate policy.
Pressure mounts on ex-DoJ official Jeff Clark over Trump’s ‘election subversion scheme’: Former assistant attorney general faces possible disbarment and charges after report details machinations on Trump’s behalf
He Attacked Cops At The Capitol. The FBI Interviewed Him. Then He Rejoined The Army.
Waymo’s Self-Driving Cars Are Mysteriously Flocking to a Dead-End Street in San Francisco. No one seems to know why these confused Waymo cars love this one street.
Trump’s Coup Attempt Is Far From Finished
Kyrsten Sinema’s allies in the Democratic Party ‘don’t exist anymore’ (Manic Pixie Dream Senator!)
In Russia, experts are challenging official pandemic figures as too low. They refuse to be silenced.
The right-wing operatives orchestrating the attack on America’s school boards
He Helped Bring Down a Top Trump Crony. Now He’s Driving for Uber
No, We Don’t Have to Pick Just One Policy to Help Kids and Families!
Justice Alito complains, but the evidence is clear: This Supreme Court was built by dark money. Alito wants us to believe everything is going great at the Supreme Court. And so it is — for big Republican donors
Means testing is bad policy and bad politics. Keep it out of the Build Back Better Act.
A Secretive Hedge Fund Is Gutting Newsrooms
Who is the real problem when it comes to climate change?
They Resisted Getting Vaccinated. Here’s Why They Changed Their Minds.
Get The Damn Shot
Every would-be mayor promises to blow up the BPDA. Will the next one actually do it?
New Zealand to cast out its official wizard

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Why I Dislike Email

While there is a small cottage industry explaining why email is awful, my HAWT TAEK is the HAWTEST. The real problem for me isn’t the format, though it does leave something to be desired. It’s that there’s too much of it. It’s not just that it’s a chore to slog through all the damn emails, but, more importantly, one misses important emails: too much noise is swamping out the signal.

I want to get the email from my building that the water will be shut off for twelve hours (akshually, I don’t want that email, but I do need it). But most of the other emails just aren’t important, so filtering doesn’t even help.

What’s worse is that ‘sending the email’ is considered due diligence. “Well, we sent you that email about the water shutoff.” They did send that email, but between the other crap they send, along with all of the other crap everyone else sends me, there’s a good chance I’ll miss it. This is a case where putting up a sign–everyone would see that–is a way to cut through the information clutter, even if it’s not very hi-tech (or tech at all).

I will now go outside and yell at clouds.

Related: A water shutoff isn’t one of the things that led me to write this. It’s just become clear that I receive too much stuff, requests, alerts, and so on for one Mad Biologist to handle (and most of it is bullshit anyway).

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Links 10/21/21

Links for you. Science:

Newly Discovered Bat Viruses Give Hints to Covid’s Origins
When a fisherman pulled in his line, he knew he had ‘something weird’: A 40-pound alligator gar
Genomic characterization and epidemiology of an emerging SARS-CoV-2 variant in Delhi, India
K-12 schools without mask mandates in Michigan saw 62% more coronavirus spread
How Can You Talk Effectively to Anti-Vaxxers, Flat Earthers, and Climate Deniers? (good, but ignores the specific and sustained anti-vaccination campaign over the last 30 years; propaganda matters)
What can masks do? Part 1: The science behind COVID-19 protection

Other:

Let’s never go back to the office
Sen. Bernie Sanders: Let’s stand together to protect working families (this op-ed completely panicked Manchin)
Conservative Democrats pit vulnerable communities against each other, as usual
The Dems Are Wasting a Winning Platform With a Losing Message
Biden’s Supreme Court commission proves to be the farce we all expected
Reverse Baseball!
U.S. Senate Candidate for New Hampshire Pledges Not to Vote to Certify 2024 Election Results if Trump Objects
ESPN didn’t care and doesn’t care about now-former Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s bigotry
Protest much?
Who Needs the Office?
Publix heiress, funder of Jan. 6 rally, gave $150,000 to GOP attorneys general association
For Essaibi George, husband’s real estate holdings present a quandary (‘quandary.’ Lol)
Shame forced Jon Gruden out of the NFL. Daniel Snyder needs a push.
Hours on end at the most woeful corner of the city
Advocates worry Biden is letting U.S. democracy erode on his watch
With Boston Public Schools in crisis problems are mounting. Can the system save itself?
Finally Understand Kyrsten Sinema in 360 Easy Steps
Where Exactly Is All The Corruption
Why Isn’t Steve Bannon in Jail? Ask the Democrats.
Economists to Cattle Ranchers: Stop Being So Emotional About the Monopolies Devouring Your Family Businesses
Democrats Are Ready to Abandon Black Voters, Again. The data scientist David Shor is urging Democrats to dump their racial justice message if they want to maintain any power. That’s a terrible idea.
Well If It Isn’t the Power of the Strike. Workers everywhere from John Deere to Hollywood have brushed the dust bunnies off the picket line.
Congress will soon have oversight over U.S. Olympic leadership. Top gymnasts want a factory reset
How Serious Is The Inflation Situation?
House Progressives to Pelosi: Reject Divisive Means-Testing in Favor of Universal Benefits

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We Could Mint a Platinum Coin to Deal with the Debt Ceiling

While Congress has kicked the debt ceiling can down the road for a couple of months, it will be back (the debt ceiling is the maximum amount of money that the United States can borrow cumulatively by issuing bonds). And next time, if Republicans decide to be dicks about the debt ceiling–that is, threaten global financial collapse– Bden should do an end run about them and mint a trillion dollar coin.

While that sounds crazy, in an interview with Rohan Grey, Philip Diehl, former Director of the United States Mint under President Bill Clinton from 1994 to 2000, describes how this would work (boldface mine):

Grey: But not only that, there’s actually been instruments that the Federal Reserve issues – interest earning term deposits, which they started issuing in 2009 – that pay interest, are a legal obligation of the government, but are not included in the debt ceiling. And so there’s a lot of instruments out there – including the Greenbacks that Lincoln authorized, that are still legal on the books at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing – that are not included in the debt ceiling. We could call them debt, we could call them a means of financing, but they are no “Debt Subject to Limit” in the same way. And this coin would be very clearly in that category, not in the category of debt subject to the debt ceiling, because that’s a very narrow category. And that’s sort of one of the other confusions. People say, “oh well this is basically violating the spirit of the debt ceiling law.” Well, no more than issuing a quarter is, right?

Diehl: Yes, that’s exactly right.

Grey: And you mentioned, you know, that this was a sort of bullion coin program initially. And I think this is one other confusion – we were just talking about this earlier – people often think, well, bullion coins have to represent the underlying metal value and nothing more. And the reality – correct me if I’m wrong – is that a lot of bullion coins are sold, you know, over their face value because the metal is more expensive.

But there’s nothing that says the face value couldn’t be more than the metal, and we certainly aren’t on a gold standard, or a metal standard in general. And it’s the face value of the coin that matters. In fact, I pulled up a couple of statutes – 31 U.S.C. § 5112(q)(4), which concerns the sale of $50 denominated gold bullion coins, says that the bullion coins shall be sold for an amount the Secretary determines to be appropriate, but not less than the sum of the market value of the bullion, and the cost of designing the coins, including labor, materials, machinery, et cetera.

So even with regular bullion coins – and there’s another one for § 5112(o)(4)(A), which governs the sale of $10 denominated commemorative gold coins, that says that bullion coins shall be sold at a price that is equal to or greater than the sum of the face value and the cost of designing the coins. So even when we think of bullion coins, we’re not thinking of something that can only ever be the value of the metal. That might be a floor, but it’s not necessarily a ceiling. Does that sound correct to you?

Diehl: Yes, that’s exactly right. And it’s only by practice, and sort of practicality, that the U.S. Mint sells bullion coins at a small premium over the spot price of gold, that represents those costs of production, of marketing, sales, and all that. And that’s because the purpose of the coin is to compete in marketplace with other bullion coins. And so those sorts of price constraints apply because of the intent, and the intent of the product, and the circumstances in which the product enters the marketplace. None of that applies to a trillion dollar coin. Its purpose is very different. And so it wouldn’t make sense for it to follow that model, because it is so different.

The other thing that’s important is there is no language in that provision of law that authorizes the platinum coin that says anything about pricing.

Grey: That’s right – other than that the Treasury Secretary has absolute discretion, right?

Diehl: Yes, yes. So the restraints that are in the statute, that apply to gold and silver bullion coins, aren’t there for platinum.

Grey: And I believe it was Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe that talked about this. He said, you know, if you look at all the other statutes, and they have constraints. And then you look at one that doesn’t. And it was intentionally written to not have the same constraints as the others. Then you have to take that seriously as a matter of statutory interpretation. You can’t say, “oh, they meant it to have similar constraints, they just forgot.” You wrote it! You didn’t forget. You made it.

Diehl: [Chuckling] Yeah, no, it’s a feature not a bug.

But what about TEH INFLATIONZ?!?! Well…

Diehl: …But the key to this – and to address another knock that we hear that is fallacious on the coin – the key is that the coin does not, and of course, can not go into circulation. It has no impact on the money supply. And that is the rap, is that all of a sudden, it’s going to be like Venezuela. All of a sudden, you’re increasing the money supply by a trillion dollars, and you’re going to have all of these disasters and consequences. You know, it never goes into commerce. It’s not like other coins, or currency, or QE [Quantitative Easing] for that matter, in which money is being inserted into the economy. This coin is produced at the United States Mint, goes to the Federal Reserve, stays in a vault. There will be, when sanity prevails and the debt limit is increased, that trillion dollar coin can come back to the U.S. Mint, just like any other coin. That seigniorage is taken off the books, and the coin is destroyed.

Grey: Right. The only spending that would happen is the spending that Congress has already said needs to happen, that should be happening anyway, and in fact is constitutionally required under the Fourteenth Amendment.

It’s a silly thing to do, but the debt ceiling–and using it as a hostage is equally ridiculous–so MINT THE COIN!

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Links 10/20/21

Links for you. Science:

Hearth site in Utah desert reveals human tobacco use 12,300 years ago
These Butterflies Full of Wasps Full of Microwasps Are a Science Nightmare
Chestnuts Used To Be A Staple Part Of The American Diet. Could They Be Again?
How many people get ‘long COVID?’ More than half, researchers find (even if this is off by a factor of ten, we’re still talking about millions of people in the U.S.)
American bumblebees have disappeared from these 8 states. Now they could face extinction.
‘I hope you die’: how the COVID pandemic unleashed attacks on scientists

Other:

Sure, Nick
Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White Is Running for Mayor (sure, D.C. needs an anti-vaccination mayor…)
You lost. Stop acting like you won
A record number of Americans are quitting their jobs. Here’s how they make money after they quit.
Wokery
Demolition Has Started At McMillan, But The Legal Saga Continues
The Dwindling Choices on Build Back Better
Republicans, the Anti-Business Party
Of course unvaccinated people should be barred from receiving transplant organs
Why Many Black Americans Changed Their Minds About Covid Shots
GOP lawmaker, banned from flying Alaska Airlines over mask mandate, tests positive for coronavirus
Jeffrey Clark Is Looking Like the Perfect Fall Guy for Trump’s Operation Overturn
Biden can save Christmas and the Postal Service by finally giving DeJoy the boot (Democrats don’t govern)
Fear Itself: In the post-9/11 era, police departments blur the lines that separate them from spy services. More and more Americans get the treatment the CIA gives our non-American comrades (the Boston BRIC has been like this for years)
The Power of ‘Nobody Knows’
But What Are “WE” Supposed To DOOOOOOOOO
The Unvaccinated May Not Be Who You Think (I’ve been pointing out for months that vaccine hesitancy isn’t due to MAGA CHUDs in D.C.–we don’t have enough of them. This is why we need mandates)
Haaland announces key Biden administration move to combat climate change (it’s a start)
But What Can Biden DOOOOOO
Capitol Police Officer Charged With Obstruction Of Justice For Allegedly Messaging Jan. 6 Insurrectionist (thin blue line tho…)
This Is Just Another Unsolved Bureaucratic Homicide: Biden’s Supreme Court reform commission has rendered a vital issue dead in the water. (New Democrats never want to govern)
New study shows vaccine refusal’s staggering cost in human life (analysis here)
‘Just looking out’: Capitol police officer indicted after using social media to help insurrectionist
Parents Are Suing Schools for Throwing Their Kids in a ‘COVID Snakepit’

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The State of COVID-19 in D.C.: Getting Better

Though with a significant caveat. Before we get to that, only Wards 2 and 3 are below the German rollback threshold of 50 new cases per 100,000 per week–which also is the threshold the CDC suggests schools for all grades can reopen (0.05% in the second column below; n/a is not available):


Ward one-week prevalence one-week % pos. two-week prevalence two-week % pos.
1 0.073% n/a 0.160% n/a
2 0.041% n/a 0.104% n/a
3 0.043% n/a 0.086% n/a
4 0.106% n/a 0.223% n/a
5 0.098% n/a 0.223% n/a
6 0.080% n/a 0.204% n/a
7 0.131% n/a 0.293% n/a
8 0.146% n/a 0.370% n/a
D.C. total 0.090% 1.4% 0.207% 1.8%

Most wards had large declines, except for Wards 3 and 4 (Ward 3 was low to begin with). Overall, the city had a twenty three percent decrease in new positives. That said, Tuesday’s numbers were very low, so hopefully this isn’t a data reporting issue (e.g., a big bolus of positives tomorrow). We lack percent positive rates for each ward, however, so there’s no context for these numbers. City-wide, the percent positive rate is alright, but we don’t know how each ward is doing.

Vaccination is still trundling along at 0.1% per day, and we haven’t seen any effect of the federal vaccination mandate (there are over 120,000 federal employees in D.C.). We had three deaths in the last week, and hospitalizations continue to decline. We still have no significant vaccine requirements for patronizing indoor establishments, and none seem on the horizon.

At the same time, it’s clear that the D.C. government doesn’t understand the problem unvaccinated kids with unvaccinated parents presents. So while I don’t think fall and early winter will be bad, we seem to be heading towards a kinder, gentler Great Barrington Declaration in terms of policy.

Rage is still the appropriate emotion.

Posted in COVID-19, DC | Leave a comment