Links 8/11/20

Links for you. Science:

Immunology Is Where Intuition Goes to Die: Which is too bad because we really need to understand how the immune system reacts to the coronavirus. (good basic introduction to immunology, accessible to non-biologists)
Virginia Is the First State in the Nation to Offer Contact Tracing Through an App: COVIDWISE will tell you if you’ve been within six feet someone who’s been diagnosed with Covid-19.
From ‘brain fog’ to heart damage, COVID-19’s lingering problems alarm scientists
Ventilation should be part of the conversation on school reopening. Why isn’t it?
There Are Two Ways Out of a Frog. This Beetle Chose the Back Door.


Breakup sex
Governor, my father’s death is on your hands
A Well-Connected GOP Strategist Is Helping Kanye West Get on the Ballot in Wisconsin
Jewish, Black historical Virginia cemeteries vandalized with Nazi symbol
D.C. debates whether low-income students should get preference in the school lottery system
The Police Lie. All the Time. Can Anything Stop Them? Would the criminal justice system collapse if cops were forced to tell the truth?
Unbundling the Police in Venice Beach, California. You shouldn’t have to call 911 for problems related to homelessness.
The Truth Behind A Viral Picture Of A Reopening School Is Worse Than It Looked (nightmare)
Welcome to the #Markeyverse
I Know Why Ed Markey Is Running. I’m Still Not Sure Why Joe Is.
China Uighurs: A model’s video gives a rare glimpse inside internment
It’s Time to Get Real About Zoning
Inside the Project Veritas Plan to Steal the Election
The Pandemic Workday Is 48 Minutes Longer and Has More Meetings
Hey Joe, Maybe Don’t Bring Up ‘Cocaine Junkies’ Here
This May Be The Most Absurd, Trumpian Drama Ever
Richie Neal Rolls Out Nancy Pelosi Ad to Save His Re-Election (Neal is horrible)
Medicaid Expansion
If Biden wins, the post-Trump corruption purge will have to be epic
The Supreme Court invented qualified immunity. Now, a judge’s blistering opinion shows why it must go.
Study Points To Significant Racial Disparities In COVID-19 Among Children
‘The economy is a bigger mess than Covid’: Kentucky fears new shutdown (search for “colored”…)

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Why I’m Nervous about the 2020 Presidential Election: It’s the Map, Stupid

And if Oliver Willis stumbles across this, he might yell at me for being pessimistic. Onward comrades…

Leaving aside Biden’s flaws–and he still has them, but that’s preferable to a mass murderer–what worries me is the Electoral College. Consider this map, which seems a pretty reasonable estimate of where things currently stand:

Screen Shot 2020-08-06 at 3.44.37 PM

This map does not feel me with optimism. Other than Arizona, I find it hard to believe that Biden can win any of these states or the swing votes in Maine and Nebraska. And between mail-in voting, a lack of appeal to young voters, and Republican chicanery, Wisconsin seems optimistic. Losing all the ‘brown’ regions and Wisconsin yields a two vote Electoral College victory for Trump.

Yes, the polling suggests a Biden victory, but it also suggests a ten point win, and I don’t think that will hold (already, the political press corps is emphasizing Biden’s idiot eruptions–and we told you this would happen). Given the map, it’s very possible that Trump wins the electoral college, even as Biden gains an actual majority–not a plurality like Clinton, but a majority.

I’m willing to admit I’m completely reading the moment wrong, and that Biden can hold Wisconsin, and one or more of the ‘brown’ states. If Biden takes Georgia, then he’ll haven taken most or all of the swing states in a landslide. But the map combined with some gap-closing makes a victory really hard.

Posted in Democrats, Voting | 7 Comments

Links 8/10/20

Links for you. Science:

“Zombie cicadas” infected with mind-controlling fungus return to West Virginia
Statement from Yale Faculty on Hydroxychloroquine and its Use in COVID-19
I Was Wrong: We Can’t Skip Phase 3 Vaccine Trials
Masks Do More Than Protect Others During COVID-19: Reducing the Inoculum of SARS-CoV-2 to Protect the Wearer
A Viral Epidemic Splintering Into Deadly Pieces


Trump actually doesn’t appear to understand how bad the pandemic is
How the coronavirus pandemic helped the Floyd protests become the biggest in U.S. history (wondered about this; also easier for people working at home to attend too)
I am begging’: New Jersey judge pleads for more privacy protection when son shot, killed at home
If districts defy mandate on 50% in-person learning, Iowa governor says students won’t get credit
Trump’s Interview With Axios’s Jonathan Swan Was Frost/Nixon Mixed With Spinal Tap
The Schools
Mary Trump has a stark warning about the political ambitions of Ivanka and Don Jr – and the possibility of a Trump dynasty
Some Members Of Congress And Staffers Aren’t Wearing Masks. That’s Worrying To Their Capitol Hill Neighbors
What helped Ed Yong write the sentence of the year? Make that the semicolon! It’s a maligned mark in the journalism world but it enabled the Atlantic reporter to build a breathtaking 212-word sentence.
DC’s Luxury Apartment Market Is Really Feeling the Effects of Covid-19
Blumenthal Tweets an Ominous Message – Time for a Leak
‘The kids will forget’: Custodians, housekeepers and other support staff brace for college reopenings
Washington Going Full Andrew Mellon as Stimulus Talks Drag, Inadequate Support Guaranteed
Maryland And Virginia Join A Six-State COVID-19 Testing Agreement
Preserve Our Post Office, Before It’s Too Late
Trump’s Unreality Forcefield: A new interview makes clear that the president is unwilling or unable to understand the threat of the pandemic. (narcissists gonna narcissist)
Democrats warn GOP: Don’t fill a Supreme Court vacancy in 2020 or we’ll retaliate (Democrats should do that anyway)
The Theological Roots of White Supremacy
Can we stop telling the ‘corona kids’ how little they are learning?
Thousands of Texans are getting rapid-result COVID tests. The state isn’t counting them.
Teachers Aren’t Sacrificial Lambs. No Essential Worker Is.

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The State of COVID-19 in D.C.: Not Heading in the Right Direction

It’s a mixed bag, Wards 1, 2, and 3 are doing better, while the rest are holding steady or getting worse. “Holding steady” is doing a lot of work, as the city as a whole and Wards 4 – 8 are above the German rollback threshold of 50 new cases per 100,000 per week (0.05% in the second column below):

Ward 1-week prevalence 1-week % pos. 2-week prevalence 2-week % pos.
1 0.040% 1.6% 0.092% 1.6%
2 0.028% 1.1% 0.056% 1.0%
3 0.027% 1.0% 0.046% 0.7%
4 0.102% 3.8% 0.210% 3.4%
5 0.090% 3.0% 0.172% 2.3%
6 0.063% 1.6% 0.113% 1.3%
7 0.093% 4.8% 0.210% 5.3%
8 0.104% 4.2% 0.204% 3.9%
D.C. 0.067% 2.4% 0.134% 2.2%

It’s also worth noting that we’re back to one or two deaths per day again, which should be expected after several weeks of higher daily new cases (deaths lag new cases). We really want to be below a two-week prevalence of 0.01% (about 70 new cases over that period), but even a one-week prevalence of 0.01% would be good. What’s frustrating is that a city-wide reduction would probably require four weeks of serious restrictions, and then we could be back to normal-ish.

I understand Bowser’s desire to keep businesses afloat–and the lack of a federal support package means we can’t do the public health interventions needed–but we’re just going to keep limping along. And for those turning to test-and-trace, it’s not working in D.C. Most cases can’t be linked to quarantined individuals–this probably means we’re not finding the initial patient (and massive street parties of hundreds of people aren’t helping), even though we’re doing enough testing (percent positive rate < 0.05%), though it’s probably not rapid enough.

We really need to rollback–If we did this now, we could be in a good place come October.

Unfortunately, our national strategy appears to be a kinder, gentler version of herd immunity, so, as a prominent local politician would put it, it is what it is.

Posted in COVID-19, DC | 3 Comments

Links 8/9/20

Links for you. Science:

School closures in spring linked to drastic decrease in Covid-19 cases and deaths
With coronavirus keeping commuters at home, soot pollution in Cleveland, Akron down significantly
California COVID-19 cases spiked after July 4th. Family gatherings helped the spread, experts say.
A coronavirus vaccine won’t change the world right away
Health illiteracy is nothing new in America. But the pandemic magnifies how troubling it is.


‘Congress’ Is Not Flailing. Republicans Are.
How the Trump campaign came to court QAnon, the online conspiracy movement identified by the FBI as a violent threat
The White House Has Become a Militarized Island in Downtown DC
There’s Growing Panic That Trump Will Rush A Vaccine To Save His Presidency. That’s Unlikely.
Eight Shocking Secrets I Learned While Working on Private Jets
Trump Is Filling the Government With an Army of Kooks
Body Bags and Enemy Lists: How Far-Right Police Officers and Ex-Soldiers Planned for ‘Day X’: Germany has woken up to a problem of far-right extremism in its elite special forces. But the threat of neo-Nazi infiltration of state institutions is much broader.
A D.C. teacher uses his stimulus check to start a nonprofit, so he can take kids fishing
Trump’s Racism Won’t Win the Suburbs. But It May Diversify Them.
What Does Mike Pence Care About Missouri’s Crooked Former Governor?
Few People in History Can Genuinely Be Called Peacemakers. John Hume was one. He died over the weekend at 83 years old.
Vote Markey
Experts urge rollback of reopening as COVID-19 cases rise in Mass.
Trump Is Bad And Has Brain Worms
Two Black moms took their kids to the Mall. Secret Service officers confronted them with guns, they said.
Hogan issues emergency order that bans blanket private school closures in Montgomery County (but Hogan is good something something)
The Never Trumpers Have Already Won: They’re not trying to save the GOP from a demagogue. They’re infiltrating the Democratic Party.
Confused Trump can’t understand how many Americans are dying of coronavirus in shocking interview
Many Americans Are Convinced Crime Is Rising In The U.S. They’re Wrong. But their fear makes everyone less safe.
Even for This President, the Axios Interview Was a Spasm of Deranged Narcissism
“They are dying. That’s true. It is what it is.” Trump’s Axios interview was a disaster.

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Urns in a Garden

This is perhaps my favorite yard in D.C. I’ve never been able to do it justice–and I don’t think this shot does either–but this picture is better than most I’ve managed. Observed on 16th Street NW, between Vermont and T, Dupont Circle, D.C.:

Favorite garden June 2020

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Links 8/8/20

Links for you. Science:

What the government must do to successfully administer a covid-19 vaccine
To save the hemlock, scientists turn to genetics and natural predators
The antiseptic Miramistin: a review of its comparative in vitro and clinical activity
Additive uncorrelated relaxed clock models for the dating of genomic epidemiology phylogenies
Association Between Statewide School Closure and COVID-19 Incidence and Mortality in the US


‘I’m sorry, but it’s a fantasy’: Jeff Gregorich, superintendent, on trying to reopen his schools safely
How the Pandemic Defeated America: A virus has brought the world’s most powerful country to its knees.
Ten bucks left, no place to go: How the pandemic and a broken unemployment system are upending people’s lives (this is why all the YASS KWEEN bullshit for Bowser wasn’t really echoed locally–FFS, the unemployment office is optimized for Internet Explorer after receiving millions of federal dollars to fix that)
Republicans Resume Fear-Mongering About The Debt. Don’t Believe Them.
Data isn’t just being collected from your phone. It’s being used to score you.
North Dakota GOP’s Platform Is So Anti-LGBTQ Nobody Will Say Who Wrote It
Biden’s VP Pick Should Not Determine the Democratic Party’s Future
Hurricane Isaias Keeps Trump From Pocketing More Campaign Money – For Now
How the legal fight against big tech is like the fight against organized crime
A Climate Plan in Texas Focuses on Minorities. Not Everyone Likes It.
In 1950, my family suffered a different outbreak in our town: A polio epidemic
These Elite Contact Tracers Show the World How to Beat Covid-19
Senate GOP Copied & Pasted Cuomo’s Corporate Immunity Law Word-For-Word. While raking in cash from health care industry donors, Beltway Republicans just spliced a controversial New York law word-for-word into their new COVID relief package.
What the ‘cancel culture’ zealots get wrong about Twitter
Pac-12 football players threaten boycott if health and social justice demands are not met
“THIS IS NOT ON TEACHERS.” Mic drop by a school counselor.
‘This Push to Open Schools Is Guaranteed to Fail’: It is time to stop pretending. Our children are staying home.
How a little-known 1980 law slashed pay for millions of truck drivers and created big-box retail as we know it
Where will America’s new remote workers live? (I think this underestimates the importance of face-to-face contact though)
USPS Workers Concerned New Policies Will Pave the Way to Privatization
Mail delays are frustrating Philly residents, and a short-staffed Postal Service is struggling to keep up
Proposed system would gather data about helicopter noise in the D.C. region

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In Case You Missed It…

…a week of Mad Biologist links:

Pink on Swann

The State of COVID-19 in the District Is Not Good, Especially East of the River

The Ongoing Problem with National Democrats

We Should Reset, and How It Should Work

An Indescribable Crime

Why I Will Try to Vote in Person

Posted in Weekly Roundup | Leave a comment

Links 8/7/20

Links for you. Science:

Only 1950s Kids Will Recognize This Endangered Fish
The Doctor Behind the Disputed Covid Data
Report: Coronavirus infected scores of children and staff at Georgia sleep-away camp (short, easy-to-read paper here)
What are coronavirus risks from riding trains? A new Chinese study analyses passenger data
As temperatures rise, a ‘nightmare’ of toxic algae plagues the hidden gems of Cape Cod


COVID-19 Hospital Data System That Bypasses CDC Plagued By Delays, Inaccuracies (told you this would happen)
How To Pretend That You Are Smart
Why we need to talk about caste in America
Paul Graham Is Asking to be Eaten: yet another bad poem in my ongoing bad poetry series.
I’m so tired of the “big government” argument.
Class Struggles: Labor strife and “mommy wars” loom as some push to reopen schools
Playing War While Dressed to Kill in Portland: Trump’s agents are outfitted as military special operations, not just soldiers. Their violence is no surprise.
Onward, Christian Cowboys
Progressives Have a VP Short list: Barbara Lee, Nina Turner, Karen Bass (Barbara Lee would be great, which means she won’t be chosen)
Bill of Health: How market logic hobbles the nation’s hospitals
Congrats, Dems: You Just Let Trump’s Chief Henchman Off the Hook
Pay People To Remediate Homes In Their Communities
You Deserve To Be Protected At Work
The NYPD Took a Step Toward Fascism When It Kidnapped Nikki Stone
The Job Guarantee and the Unemployment System
If Biden wants to govern well, Karen Bass is the right pick
Reopening schools is a lose-lose dilemma for many families of color
What the Experts Say About COVID-19 Risks
D.C. pastor tests positive for coronavirus, as health officials struggle to stop its spread
Is the Subway Risky? It May Be Safer Than You Think. New studies in Europe and Asia suggest that riding public transportation is not a major source of transmission for the coronavirus. (guessing a big part of this is low prevalence)
Interview: Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor on Why Racism Has Been Profitable
Fear of a White Riot: In Germany, policing and xenophobia go hand in hand
The Growing Fight Against the School Death Trap
On a call with SEC leaders, worried football players pushed back: ‘Not good enough’

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Why I Will Try to Vote in Person

The Democratic push to get people to vote by mail is making me a bit nervous. While ballots can be invalidated at any step, it seems easier for someone to disqualify your vote when it’s done absentee (signature challenges and so on). It seems I’m not alone in this either. The pandemic has led to a shortage of poll workers so many polling places will be closed. All that said, this is why I worry about much higher than usual absentee voting (boldface mine):

It is the late evening of Nov. 3, 2020—Election Day. The race is tight. It’s come down to the three states that President Donald Trump barely won in 2016: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Most in-person votes have been counted, and Trump holds a small lead in each state. But there are millions of mail-in ballots that election officials have not yet processed. Hundreds of thousands of voters dropped their ballots in the mail days ago, but they haven’t been received. Meanwhile, thousands of ballots that were mailed in time have been rejected due to alleged technical defects. The outcome of the election turns on all these outstanding votes. But Trump, on the basis of the results so far, declares victory and dismisses the remaining mail-in ballots as fraudulent and illegitimate. The Republican-controlled legislatures of all three states agree, assigning their electoral votes to the president. Trump has secured a second term in the White House.

This scenario is not paranoid or outlandish. It is now chillingly plausible. Trump has spent several months laying the groundwork to steal the 2020 election this way….

All these complications work to Trump’s advantage, which is presumably why Republican legislators refuse to address them. Thanks in no small part to Trump’s endless demonization of mail-in ballots, there is a sharp partisan split on the issue: Far more Democrats than Republicans plan to vote by mail in November. So a majority of rejected absentee ballots will probably contain votes for Democrats, including Joe Biden. Moreover, these ballots are frequently counted after the in-person vote; in Michigan, officials cannot even open them until Election Day. (Republican legislators have rebuffed Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s pleas to change this pointless law.) If the in-person vote is disproportionately Republican, then Election Day returns could show Trump ahead in the key swing states. At that point, he can declare victory and proclaim the uncounted ballots are fraudulent. He has previewed this tactic for months now and openly cast doubt on the legitimacy of mailed ballots.

If I lived in a swing state, I would try to vote in person, despite the possible health risks. That is worth the risk (and the Wisconsin experience suggests there might be a risk). It’s voting, not bar hopping*; this is when you take the risk.

The only constant throughout the Trump administration era is that one should never underestimate its malevolence. If they are not stopped directly, they will stop, since they have no internal workings that tell them something is immoral.

We need a plan to halt this, and, much to the chagrin of the professional Democratic class (because they can neither control nor profit from it), it will likely involve street action.

*If Trump somehow wins D.C., then we know the whole thing is rigged.

Posted in Resistance Rebellion And Death | 1 Comment