Links 9/26/21

Links for you. Science:

Amazing photos show a family of wild boars organizing a cage breakout of 2 piglets, demonstrating high levels of intelligence and empathy
The world’s tallest populace is shrinking, and scientists want to know why
Viral Sequencing to Investigate Sources of SARS-CoV-2 Infection in US Healthcare Personnel
Why Remdesivir Failed: Preclinical Assumptions Overestimate the Clinical Efficacy of Remdesivir for COVID-19 and Ebola
Predictors of Test Positivity, Mortality, and Seropositivity during the Early Coronavirus Disease Epidemic, Orange County, California, USA

Other:

NO, MR. MAGA, I EXPECT YOU TO DIE.
The Middle-Aged Sadness Behind the Cancel Culture Panic
The Liberation of Paris From Cars Is Working
Is It Time to Rethink Hyper-Minority Districts?
Related
Why Biden Bet It All on Mandates
Progressive slams Manchin, bad Dems: “I feel sorry for them. And politically, it’s ass-backwards.”
Why America needs vaccine mandates
Longtime Black Homeowners Feel Pressured to Sell Houses
Conservatives are killing themselves with COVID, and no, it’s not our fault
Dark Omen in Rep. Anthony Gonzalez’s Retirement
The Liberal Attack on Government: The left criticized administrative power, and then lost control of both the government and the narrative that surrounded it.
On 9/11, Was W. AWOL? The mysterious case of the president’s dysfunctionality on the day the U.S. was attacked
CMS unveils new tool for public to compare nursing home vaccination rates (not that easy to use, but better than before)
Dave Zirin: You Can’t Separate Sports and Politics
“Men’s Rights Asians” Think This Is Their Moment
It’s All or Nothing for These Democrats, Even if That Means Biden Fails
Why ‘Hell of a Hat: The Rise of ’90s Ska & Swing’ Makes the Case for a Maligned Genre
Trumpists Don’t Need Rallies Anymore
Ominous new details about Trump’s coup attempt require Democrats to act
Peter Thiel Gamed Silicon Valley, Donald Trump, and Democracy to Make Billions, Tax-Free
Go Fast Or Go Home

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Georgetown, Transformed

Observed on Prospect St NW, between 36th and 37th, Georgetown, D.C.:

Transformers

Transformers

Transformers

Transformers

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Links 9/24/21

Links for you. Science:

Coronaviruses with a SARS-CoV-2-like receptor-binding domain allowing ACE2-mediated entry into human cells isolated from bats of Indochinese peninsula
Wildfire threatens historic trees at Sequoia National Park. Fireproof blankets are the defense.
Sorry, a Coronavirus Infection Might Not Be Enough to Protect You
mRNA Covid-19 Vaccines in Pregnant Women
Vaccine nasal sprays aim to ‘shut door’ on virus

Other:

A Detroit community college professor is fighting Silicon Valley’s surveillance machine. People are listening.
There’s No Good Reason FBI Director Chris Wray Still Has a Job
Chris Christie’s nephew’s bar mitzvah leads to COVID-19 outbreak, NJ school closure (such arrogant, selfish people)
AOC Would Have Cast the Winning Vote for Drug Price Reform: But top Democrats blocked her in favor of centrist Kathleen Rice—who voted with Big Pharma instead.
Venal “moderate” House Dems torpedoing Biden’s agenda
Joe Manchin Giveth on Voting Rights—and Joe Manchin Taketh Away
We mandate vaccines for Alabama children. It’s time for adults to do their part
NYT Prints Highly Misleading Piece Against New Child Tax Credit
Minneapolis Inches Closer to Disbanding Its Police Department
Sister-in-law of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp passes away due to COVID-19 complications (and yet he won’t even do the basics to stop the spread of COVID. What a sociopath)
To save American democracy, take all the fun out of lying
Florida GOP Bookkeeper Who Railed Against ‘Faucism’ Dies Of COVID-19: Now the Hillsborough County GOP is bracing to miss its federal filing deadline.
The Filibuster’s Fate Is Already Decided. Just Look To The 2022 Democratic Senate Candidates.
Nurses have had enough of this nonsense
Old Boston versus New Boston: Annissa Essaibi George is not the future
https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/09/15/business/new-balance-chairman-jim-davis-his-495000-bet-annissa-essaibi-george/?p1=HP_Feed_AuthorQuery
Trump gave six months extra Secret Service protection to his kids, three officials. It cost taxpayers $1.7 million.
Space Age furniture in Sci-Fi films
A New Covid Testing Model Aims to Spare Students From Quarantine
Shabbat Terror in the West Bank
The End of Excellence

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Links 9/25/21

Links for you. Science:

Exploratory study of the global intent to accept COVID-19 vaccinations (U.S. results don’t account for race/ethnicity so…)
Battalions of armyworms are chomping up fields across the nation — sometimes overnight
Almost 10,000 people tested negative before flying. Just one was positive after landing, a study shows.
The unlikely protector against Bangladesh’s rising seas
All The Lions And Tigers At D.C.’s National Zoo Have Tested Positive For COVID-19. The big cats are also showing symptoms such as coughing and lack of appetite.

Other:

The Look of Gentrification: If you think of gentrification as coffee shops and bike lanes then you don’t understand gentrification at all. It’s about what’s inside, not outside.
Why I violated Texas’s extreme abortion ban
What Is Political Writing For?
What Boston thinks it is and what Boston is
The days of full covid coverage are over. Insurers are restoring deductibles and co-pays, leaving patients with big bills.
The Fake Vaxx Card Next to You: In the city, counterfeit proof is easy to buy as weed.
‘The pay is absolute crap’: Child-care workers are quitting rapidly, a red flag for the economy
How Accounting Giants Craft Favorable Tax Rules From Inside Government
Georgia Is How American Democracy Falls Apart
A murky battle over religious beliefs and COVID-19 vaccination continues
Facebook keeps researching its own harms — and burying the findings
Can American Politics Allow for Long-Run Investment?
A 5-year-old was killed while riding her bike. A video taken the next day has, rightfully, left people furious.
Apartments Built on an Assembly Line
Abort the Illegitimate Court: End the Filibuster and Pack it
For one Capitol reporter, Jan. 6 was the final straw — but he had watched a crisis brew for years
Texas Democrats Have an Opportunity
The housing crisis is the top concern for urban residents
The only language McConnell understands is power. Act accordingly, Democrats.
Remaining unvaccinated in public should be considered as bad as drunken driving
Peter Thiel’s Origin Story: His ideology dominates Silicon Valley. It began to form when he was an angry young man. (the people who govern us are seriously fucked up)
After Afghanistan: No Post-American world

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In Case You Missed It…

…a week of Mad Biologist posts:

Male Gaze

Why We Need Vaccination Requirements: The Monoclonal Antibody Ignorance Edition

Why We Need Vaccination Requirements: The South Dakota Edition

The State of COVID-19 in D.C.: A High Plateau

The Courage of Our COVID Convictions

The ‘Centrist’ Canard

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The ‘Centrist’ Canard

If you want to distract yourself from the ongoing pandemic, you always can take a break by looking at U.S. politics. One of the fictions that has been accepted as dogma for decades is that ‘centrist Democrats’ are savvier than the left wing of the party, who are a bunch of naive idealists. That, as Brian Beutler points out, is bullshit (boldface mine):

If you cover Democratic politics for more than a few months, you’ll eventually hear a trope about the ever-changing cast of House centrists whose only consistent ideological project is tanking aspects of the party agenda that don’t have bipartisan support (which is to say almost all of them). The trope is that these members—who generally win elected office in wave elections then lose them when the tide recedes—have a deep and special understanding of their frontline districts, and (thus) that we should trust their political instincts; not let our frustrations with them boil over.

There is basically no evidence to support this theory, and if you cover their campaigns, you’ll quickly realize that most of them are flying as blind as the rest of us, nervous about what to say and do, reliant on a semi-permanent class of consultants in Washington for guidance, deleting their Met Gala takes within seconds of posting them.

And there’s no reason it should make sense! The nature of swing districts is that no one represents them for very long, which means the swing-district delegation is over-represented by inexperienced politicians, many of whom have started thinking about their next gigs before they’ve even been sworn in. Their political incentives are pretty clearly misaligned with those of their party at large.

Yet through a mix of cynicism and poor thinking the Democratic leadership has lumbered ahead for years as if the party’s best interests are served by catering to centrist concerns. It isn’t just that centrists wish the party would make bipartisan cover a high priority, the leadership has consistently indulged them. The past six months of the Biden presidency—basically everything that’s happened since the American Rescue Plan passed—has stemmed from that indulgence, and it’s been a comprehensive failure.

To her credit, Pelosi has, on occasion, told her caucus that they are there to ‘take votes’–that is, pass legislation. On the other hand, she (and the rest of the House leadership, along with the Senate leadership) have pushed candidates whose temperament and lack of experience make them prone to being centrists. Add to that, the DCCC and the DSCC require new candidates to rely on an approved group of consultants and you wind up with enough ‘centrists’ to make life hell for the rest of the party.

While this is partly an ideological concern, it’s worth noting that Sen. Jon Tester is not a Bernie Sanders clone, yet he doesn’t try to tank the party. Speaking of tanking the party (boldface mine):

Given this picture of the ideological divide within parties, a casual observer might assume that in the struggle to move President Biden’s agenda through Congress, the chief obstacle (beyond Republican opposition) is the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and its demands for bigger, more ambitious programs. Biden was, after all, not their first choice for president. Or their second. He won the Democratic presidential nomination over progressive opposition, and there was a sense on the left, throughout the campaign, that Biden was not (and would not be) ready to deal with the scale of challenges ahead of him or the country.

But that casual observer would be wrong. Progressives have been critical of Biden, especially on immigration and foreign affairs. On domestic policy, however, they’ve been strong team players, partners in pushing the president’s priorities through Congress. The reconciliation bill, for instance, is as much the work of Bernie Sanders as it is of the White House. As chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Sanders guided the initial budget resolution through the chamber, compromising on his priorities in order to build consensus with other Democrats in the Senate.

Progressive Democrats want the bill to pass, even if it isn’t as large as they would like. They believe, correctly, that a win for Biden is a win for them. Moderate Democrats, however, seem to think that their success depends on their distance from the president and his progressive allies. Their obstruction might hurt Biden, but, they seem to believe, it won’t hurt them.

This is nonsense. Democrats will either rise together in next year’s elections or they’ll fall together. The best approach, given the strong relationship between presidential popularity and a party’s midterm performance, is to put as much of Biden’s agenda into law as possible by whatever means possible.

As Beutler noted, swing seats, well, swing back and forth. If these ‘centrists’ don’t want the swing back to hit them, they need to get with the program. I do find it interesting that these ‘centrists’ often use party-approved consultants, who don’t seem to get blacklisted even when their clients endanger seats, while progressive consultants often get de facto blacklisted (and at one point, officially blacklisted) for working with Democratic primary challengers.

Anyway, what a fucking mess.

Posted in Conservatives, Democrats, Fucking Morons | 3 Comments

Links 9/23/21

Links for you. Science:

A vaccine veteran steps away from the NIH, looking out toward the world
The Best Photos Taken Through Microscopes Will Blow You Away
Recent Ebola outbreak emerged from someone infected 5 years earlier
Infectious SARS-CoV-2 in Exhaled Aerosols and Efficacy of Masks During Early Mild Infection
Pediatric Diabetes Surge in Mississippi: Doctors Concerned COVID-19 Is To Blame

Other:

The Olympians Laid Out the Worst FBI Malfeasance Since the Days of Whitey Bulger
Josh Hawley, Clownish Menace
The Arizona Supreme Court Took a Lead-Lined Gavel to the Cyber Ninjas Yet Again
This story from Texas is a perfect illustration of how Republicans have failed America
The California Recall Results Were a Resounding Win for Common Sense
This pastor will sign a religious exemption for vaccines if you donate to his church
There Are Too Many Underemployed Former Spies Running Around Selling Their Services to the Highest Bidder
Gen. Milley Was Forced to Act Because Others Didn’t
Here’s Some Research for the Do-Your-Own-Research Crowd
A Texas Republican’s vile rant shows ‘great replacement’ is becoming GOP dogma (or they’re reverting to 1990s California Republicanism…)
Men Working in Abortion Care Know It’s Their Fight, Too
‘Asshole’ Sergeant Bullies and Harasses Officers in Housing Authority Police Department, Officers Say
The Symptoms Show American Culture Is Transitioning into a Violent Oligarchy
The Fatal Elitism of the Time’s Up Charity
This Is Life in Rural Afghanistan After the Taliban Takeover
I’ve Always Been the Haggler in My Family. During the Pandemic, It Saved Us.
The Bronze Lie: Why Should We Care About the Ancient Spartans?
Carmine’s Hostess Attacked After Asking Tourists for Vaccination Proof to Dine Inside
Unvaxxed Teen Councilman Who Attacked Mask Mandates Now Battling ‘Terrible’ COVID Pneumonia
Indignity Vol. 1, No. 20: The nice kind of calipers.
Why College Professors Have Had Enough (if they were the campus radicals the right claims they are, we would be seeing strikes nationwide)
Black people are about to be swept aside for a South Carolina freeway — again

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The Courage of Our COVID Convictions

Earlier this week, I described the absurd simultaneous acceptance of monoclonal antibody therapy and distrust of the COVID-19 vaccines and the sharp partisan divide in South Dakota, in which Republicans think vitamins are more effective against COVID-19 than masking or vaccination.

The reality voters and elected officials must confront is that too many people have demonstrated that they are incapable of making a sensible decision about vaccination. It does not matter why they make that decision. At this point, their beliefs–or our opinions on those beliefs–do not matter, because they do not matter to the virus.

Add to this the overwhelming amount of data–2.5 billion doses given and rising–that the vaccines are both safe and effective, and the conclusion is obvious: we need vaccination requirements for many activities. Like it or not, we have bumped up against the de facto limits of convincing people to be vaccinated. Having followed anti-vaccinationists for years, if the MMR vaccine for children were not required for school, I would be shocked if even 75% of kids would be vaccinated; while 75% seems like a lot, but that wouldn’t be high enough to limit the rare outbreaks we do have. Requirements are effective and necessary.

While it is clear Republicans won’t do anything, Democrats could (so we’re clear, many, but not all, requirements will have to be enacted at the state and local levels). Democrats will have to behave counter to form, and pass these requirements. Unfortunately, it’s not clear if most Democrats have the courage of their convictions, even though there are few issues where the right policy is so obvious.

Requirements do work, we already have them, and they would get more people vaccinated.

The question is if Democrats–because Republicans are lost on this–will enact them.

Posted in Conservatives, COVID-19, Democrats | 1 Comment

Links 9/22/21

Links for you. Science:

What animals think of death
‘You bloody fool’: Duck mimics human sound during mating display
Komodo Dragons Are Now Endangered and ‘Moving Toward Extinction’
A.I. Can Now Write Its Own Computer Code. That’s Good News for Humans.
“Things Are Looking Good and Going According to Plan”: In an interview, BioNTech founders Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci explain why booster shots are needed to combat the Delta variant of the coronavirus, and they say that a vaccine for five- to 11-year-old children is on its way.

Other:

The Lives Lost to Undervaccination, in Charts
I was supposed to have life-saving surgery. Tennessee’s covid-19 surge cost me a hospital bed.
Build Back Better
Infrastructure Summer: The Sophie’s Choice of the Reconciliation Bill
Traffic violence wreaks havoc on our city and its residents. But it doesn’t have to.
Teaching Without Mask and Vaccine Mandates
Do A Few Things Right
D.C. Unveils Go-Go Mural At The Apartment Building Where #DontMuteDC Began
George Packer’s Center Cannot Hold
How Amy Coney Barrett might know she’s a political hack
I Am Begging Sports Commentators To Teach Me The Nuts And Bolts Of The Game
Why do Covid rapid tests cost so much even after Biden’s push for lower prices?
Covid-19 and the new merchants of doubt
How the Budget Rules Hobble the Progressive Imagination
Mitch McConnell’s debt limit game-playing is lunacy, and we should say so
Missouri Is the Next Front in the COVID Culture War
How a key Biden tax idea got crushed
What’s Behind the Wave of Immersive Van Gogh Exhibits
How the English Basements of Washington, D.C., Came Into Their Own
The McMansion Hell Yearbook: 1980
The Republican concept of the upper middle class
Ten Months After Senate Election Loss, Sara Gideon Still Has $10 Million in Unused Campaign Funds

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The State of COVID-19 in D.C.: A High Plateau

Better than another week of increases though. Before we get to that, no wards 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 0.180% n/a 0.318% n/a
2 0.145% n/a 0.331% n/a
3 0.072% n/a 0.173% n/a
4 0.164% n/a 0.322% n/a
5 0.189% n/a 0.441% n/a
6 0.195% n/a 0.395% n/a
7 0.348% n/a 0.660% n/a
8 0.457% n/a 0.848% n/a
D.C. total 0.218% 2.8% 0.438% 3.2%

Wards 1, 7, and 8 had increases, while Wards 2,3, and 5 had decreases, with the entire city essentially unchanged. 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 (historically, Wards 7 and 8 have had high percent positive rates).

As was the case last week, we have had four deaths in the last week, but hospitalizations for COVID-19 remain level. Vaccination is a little higher than the 0.1% increase per day for the entire population we’ve seen for the last few months. Hopefully, the federal worker vaccination mandate will lead to increased vaccination over the next few weeks (the ‘drop dead’ dates for beginning vaccination at many agencies are early to mid-October). That said, D.C. needs to limit certain indoor non-essential activities to the fully vaccinated because we do not have time to wait for people to reach the right decision since this rate of vaccination still isn’t fast enough.

As some asshole with a blog noted last week:

Even though some wards are doing really poorly on vaccination, such as Wards 7 and 8, it bears repeating that no wards are at eighty percent or higher fully vaccinated, even if we make some assumptions about how the ‘missing fully vaccinated’ are distributed. Mayor Bowser and the gormless Council need to fucking govern, and pass vaccination requirements. They needed to do this in August: at this point, the best we can hope for is that November isn’t dreadful. That won’t happen without vaccination mandates. How, for example, can D.C. allow indoor dining without requiring a vaccination requirement, given the prevalence of COVID-19? We either need a vaccination requirement or we need to ban indoor dining–this is an utterly insane policy.

None of this needed to happen.

Rage is the appropriate emotion.

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