Links 12/8/22

Links for you. Science:

Covid vaccine trials didn’t monitor menstrual changes. Researchers say it’s part of a bigger problem.
Gradual emergence followed by exponential spread of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant in Africa (note that there’s some reasons to think this is contamination; these sorts of studies are very twitchy)
It’s a Wonderful Life
Individual bat viromes reveal the co-infection, spillover and emergence risk of potential zoonotic viruses
Multi-drug resistant E. coli displace commensal E. coli from the intestinal tract, a trait associated with elevated levels of genetic diversity in carbohydrate metabolism genes
Effectiveness of mRNA Booster Vaccination Against Mild, Moderate, and Severe COVID-19 Caused by the Omicron Variant in a Large, Population-Based, Norwegian Cohort

Other:

Matty Taibbi’s Dick Pics
The GOP’s “New Direction”: More Extremism
Return on Investment of the COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign in New York City
The Disturbing World of the New GOP
TSA now wants to scan your face at security. Here are your rights.
The Many Confessions of Sam Bankman-Fried
He got off Mass. and Cass. Now, he’s working to beat the odds and stay sober.
Why Do So Many International Students Leave the US?
It’s OK to diss the Nazis
Should a Single Trump Judge Have the Power to Void Biden’s Policies?
The 2024 presidential race is only starting. And the Democrats just created a logistical mess.
Kanye West, Elon Musk, Donald Trump, and the Mainstreaming of Nazism
When journalists are the target of high-tech espionage
The Rise and Fall of the American Fraudster
The Boss is Watching
Evictions are rising again. It’s time to get creative.
How Social Media Ensures that No One Hears Amber Heard
The GOP Can’t Hide From Extremism
Who’s Watching: The evolution of the right to privacy
‘Outright Betrayal’ Over a Music Industry Windfall
Jiang Zemin, who opened China to markets and corruption, is dead
Paying for Dinner: How Republicans have been trying to spin Donald Trump’s meal with Ye and Fuentes.
Inside Putin’s War of Attrition: Munitions are running low on both sides of the Ukraine conflict as military suppliers race to keep pace with Russia’s furious, WWI-like shelling. The artillery-heavy strategy is forcing the Pentagon to rethink its very notion of modern war.
Winning Hand

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Masking and Communications

To follow up on Tuesday’s post about the CDC very tentatively asking people to mask, the legacy media have a role to play here too. There’s no reason why they couldn’t have led with headlines like “Faced with hospitalization surge, CDC asks people to voluntarily mask.” Instead, we got nothing. I find it hard to believe this is accidental either. As best as I can tell, the prominent dailies, on the whole, think worrying about long COVID is for ninnies and, as for for the immunocompromised, well, fuck ’em amirite? Not exactly covering themselves with glory here.

The other point is that prominent public health people in safe positions–hypothetically, let’s say a former CDC director (hypothetically, of course)–need to stop tiptoeing around their recommendations. It’s ok to you think people should be masking. You don’t have to do the ‘you-do-you but you might want to consider’ weasel crapola. Just say, “Kids can’t get emergency treatment right now, so we need you to wear a mask.” I get not wanting to add “YOU FUCKING COWARD” to the end of the previous sentence, but stop hemming and hawing. Just say what you mean.

I will now go outside and yell at clouds.

Posted in COVID-19, Fucking Morons, News Media | Leave a comment

Links 12/7/22

Links for you. Science:

Two minerals never before been seen on Earth found inside 17-ton meteorite
In praise of research in fundamental biology
COVID-19 and Excess All-Cause Mortality in the US and 20 Comparison Countries, June 2021-March 2022
Shifts in global mobility dictate the synchrony of SARS-CoV-2 epidemic waves
Ashkenazi Jews Have Become More Genetically Similar Over Time
A low-cost, open-source evolutionary bioreactor and its educational use

Other:

Skin in the Game: How Antisemitism Animates White Nationalism (excellent; made similar points here and here)
Which medieval Jewish stories must we tell? Recent studies of Jewish bodies emphasize violence, and in this era of rising antisemitism that feels important. But is it also too limiting, making our whole history of these people a story of loss?
Why some tech CEOs are rooting for Elon Musk: They’re skeptical of their workers, too.
Robot Landlords Are Buying Up Houses
Gambling On A Post Senate Career
The GOP Elite Are Getting into Some Weird Shit. Militant Catholicism for Example.
Uh, Politico? Biden didn’t make Marjorie Taylor Greene “the face of the GOP” — Republicans did
The Climate Villains of the Rail Strike
Railroad Engineer on the Imposed Contract: “It Really Fell Short of Railroad Workers’ Needs”
Why Are Middle-Aged Men Missing From the Labor Market?
On the Wrong Track: Why Biden Abandoned Rail Workers
L.A. County COVID surge raises prospect of return to indoor masking order
St. Louis Can Banish People From Entire Neighborhoods. Police Can Arrest Them if They Come Back.
A 1957 photo of Jerry Jones reminds us how recent America’s past is
More Republicans Died Than Democrats after COVID-19 Vaccines Came Out
Sam Bankman-Fried, Effective Altruism, and the Question of Complicity
Their wealth was built on slavery. Now a new fortune lies underground.
How Did Star Wars Get Serious?
Winners From the Midterms? The Supreme Court’s Right Wing.
Doctors Should Break the Law to Offer Abortions Sometimes, Says New Guidance From Medical Leaders
Tax filing websites have been sending users’ financial information to Facebook
You will never be as cool as this gorilla.
Elon Musk doesn’t believe in Free Speech
Blockbuster thread reveals that Twitter had content moderation policies that applied to trivial pseudo-scandal

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Warnock Wins

This is good. It helps with a whole bunch of procedural issues, such as appointing more judges. Of course, if professional Democrats hadn’t fucked up in multiple ways regarding the House, we would be much better off.

One thing that hurt Walker, compared to Trump, is Walker wasn’t filtered by the political press corps: people could see his incoherence unfiltered and that really hurt him. Trump’s coverage often excerpted the (relatively) coherent parts, making him seem less ridiculous and more intelligent than he was. Democrats need to figure out how to make what Walker experienced happen more often.

Also, Warnock is a very talented politician, and, in a state like Georgia, his ability to code as a ‘non-threatening Black man’ is a huge political asset: even many Republicans think he’s a decent person. He wouldn’t be a bad presidential candidate some day. Just saying.

Also, Democrats should make Georgia, not South Carolina, an early state.

Damn, the Democrats needed to hold the House. Instead, we’re going to have batshit lunacy for (at least) two years.

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Links 12/6/22

Links for you. Science:

Emergence and Evolutionary Response of Vibrio cholerae to Novel Bacteriophage, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Visa bureaucracy makes scientific conferences inaccessible for too many researchers
Long-term immune protection against SARS-CoV-2 escape variants upon a single vaccination with murine cytomegalovirus expressing the spike protein
Frederick P. Brooks Jr., Computer Design Innovator, Dies at 91
An elegant way to stop deadly Hendra virus spillovers from bats to horses … to us
SARS-CoV-2 infection produces chronic pulmonary epithelial and immune cell dysfunction with fibrosis in mice

Other:

Originalism is bunk. Liberal lawyers shouldn’t fall for it.
Why America’s Railroads Refuse to Give Their Workers Paid Leave
In Legislative Elections, Democrats Defied Recent History
Pandemic Year 3: Who’s Got the Power? Has public health failed us? Or have we failed public health?
D.C. Council Wants To Make Metrobus Fares Free
Musk’s Beloved Twitter Polls Are Bot-Driven Bullsh!t, Ex-Employees Say
The end of an error
What We Ask of Black American Athletes
Trump Brought Nazis Into the GOP. DeSantis Won’t Expel Them. White nationalism is not just a Trump problem.
Democracy Was Tried And Failed, Thus Two D.C. Races Will Be Settled By A Game Of Chance
How to Hate a Jew Like a Jew
The Communist Party Is Losing China’s People
How to Start a Fire: In the wake of the mass shooting at a Colorado gay bar, a reactionary media has blood on its hands
OMG, a Right-Wing Jerk Can Buy Twitter! Media Concentration Matters (don’t really agree with Baker’s solution; would prefer interoperability standards)
Emperor Charles V’s secret code cracked after five centuries
Tucker Carlson made Ye a right-wing hero. Now he’s praising Hitler and Nazis.
Which siding are you on? Through the historic district looking glass (the board member leading the charge in this ridiculousness is named, I kid you not, Outerbridge Horsey VII)
The pregnancy test is positive. Abortion is restricted maybe even illegal. What now?
What would Harry Reid do right now? Threaten to cancel Christmas to save the country
The problem with scarcity
As Boise officials announce investigation into racist police captain, extremists voice their dismay
A Hacked Newsroom Brings a Spyware Maker to U.S. Court
COVID boosted anti-vaccine propaganda. Now measles and other childhood diseases are on the march
D.C. Council Wants To Make Metrobus Fares Free In The District, Expand Service Overnight

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Interrupting Our Lives for Hallucinations Has Been Happening for a Very Long Time

Tom Nichols makes a good point but he misses one critical thing. First, what Nichols gets right (boldface mine):

Even before January 6, 2021, I wondered about the kind of people who live the classic American paranoid life, the citizens whose politics, as Richard Hofstader described them almost 60 years ago, are a stew of “heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy.” I first encountered this mindset when I worked in the U.S. Senate as personal staff for the late John Heinz of Pennsylvania: I would field calls from constituents who demanded to know whether the senator was in league with the Trilateralists or the Bilderbergers or the one-worlders. I was barely 30 and taken aback at speaking with people who seemed to be living on some other planet.

…As I followed these [insurrection] trials, I kept thinking of a scene from the HBO World War II miniseries Band of Brothers. At the end of the European war, an American soldier named Webster is riding in the back of an open truck, watching the defeated German prisoners trudging along the road. In a fit of rage, he begins shouting at them, “What were you thinking? … Dragging our asses halfway around the world, interrupting our lives. For what? You ignorant, servile scum! What the fuck are we doing here?”

During the Oath Keepers’ trial, I found myself wanting to yell at the television like Private Webster: For what? The life of a great democracy was endangered why? I wasn’t doing this because Rhodes and his band were the Axis, but because, like Webster, I found it incredible that we had to interrupt our lives for a movement built on lies and political hallucinations….

And just what did the Oath Keepers intend to do had they won the day? Perhaps they expected Donald Trump to strut out onto the south balcony and declare martial law. Maybe they thought that they would march into Congress and be greeted as liberators, perhaps with medals bestowed by one of the rebel princesses. But in the end, it was a rebellion about nothing. Or, more precisely, it was a rebellion born in affluence and boredom and a desperate search for meaning in otherwise ordinary lives.

I’ve written before about the threat to democracy stemming from this profound need to feel in control, to feel important, to find some heroic mission in life. I have long been haunted by the writer Eric Hoffer’s 1951 warning that the most dangerous people in a society are not the poor and desperate but the well-off and bored:

There is perhaps no more reliable indicator of a society’s ripeness for a mass movement than the prevalence of unrelieved boredom. In almost all the descriptions of the periods preceding the rise of mass movements there is reference to vast ennui; and in their earliest stages mass movements are more likely to find sympathizers among the bored than among the exploited and suppressed. To a deliberate fomenter of mass upheavals, the report that people are bored stiff should be at least as encouraging as that they are suffering from intolerable economic or political abuses.

…Such aimless people are at the foundation of the global crisis that modern democracy is in. They believe that they are the enlightened and brave among us, because they need to feel enlightened and brave instead of confused and frightened. They need a purpose in life and they are shopping for one among the dumpsters of the internet and television, egged on by political opportunists who would gladly waste their lives—and ours—for their own advancement.

The problem is that January 6th, or, for that matter, Trump, is part of a long-standing, ongoing procession of batshit lunacy. Did the claims that ‘Sharia law’ would reign over these United States come to pass? Did gay marriage ‘undermine the sanctity of marriage’? (straight politicians seem to do their part to undermine marriage all by their lonesomes). All of the conspiracies about Bill Clinton dissolved into a tawdry affair. There is all sorts of lunacy pumped into the body politic from the right, and it never ends.

It is exhausting–which is entirely the point (boldface mine):

What stopped me in my tracks was his [Biden’s] obviously correct acknowledgment that “silence is complicity”—as a means of calling out the many Republicans who have refused to distance themselves from a former president who casually dines with Nazi enthusiasts. But the corollary, of course, is that the rest of us should not be silent, and yet I confess that if ever I have to say one more single word about Ye, Trump, Jones, Tucker Carlson, or any other racist oxygen-hogs, I will catch fire like a former drummer from Spinal Tap. My silence is not complicity, it is some combination of exhaustion, boredom, and a line-in-the-sand refusal to engage with idiots….

I can’t watch or listen anymore because every time I do, it steals a part of my soul and giving these monsters even the tiniest corner of our souls is its own violence. But maybe, in lieu of silence, we just keep proclaiming the truth: The Holocaust happened, Hitler was an atrocity, racism is real, the law matters, the former president should probably be in jail, and the fact that we spend vast swaths of our lives saying these things over and over is a tragedy.

A large part of the problem is that there is no accountability for the purveyors of these hallucinations (even Alex Jones is still pumping bile into the discourse). The same people keep doing this over and over, and the same media outlets and personalities keep treating them like they are good faith interlocutors, instead of saying at some point enough, and ignoring them.

I don’t know how to fix that last problem.

Posted in Conservatives | 3 Comments

Finally, the CDC Asks People to Wear Masks

About fucking time (boldface mine):

The Centers for Disease Control Prevention on Monday encouraged people to wear masks to help reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses this season as Covid, flu and RSV circulate at the same time.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, in a call with reporters, said wearing a mask is one of several everyday precautions that people can take to reduce their chances of catching or spreading a respiratory virus during the busy holiday season.

We also encourage you to wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses,” said Walensky, adding that people living in areas with high levels of Covid transmission should especially consider masking.

Also, this is good:

The CDC director said the agency is considering expanding its system of Covid community levels to take into account other respiratory viruses such as the flu. The system is the basis for when CDC advises the public to wear masks. But Walensky encouraged people to take proactive action.

They’re continuing to encourage–not that you would know it–people to wear masks while using mass transit (planes, trains, and buses).

It will be interesting to see if the White House tightens its mask wearing policies…

Posted in CDC, COVID-19, Influenza | 2 Comments

Links 12/5/22

Links for you. Science:

Why Wild Turkeys Hate the Wild
Vitamin B1 is Not a Mosquito Repellent. So Why Do Doctors Prescribe It?
Why Are Lots of Kids Likely to Be Sick This Holiday Season?
Bird flu prompts slaughter of 1.8M chickens in Nebraska
Sequence type diversity amongst antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains is lower than amongst antibiotic-susceptible strains
The Pandemic Broke the Flu … Again. COVID knocked flu, RSV, and other respiratory diseases out of whack. When will they be back to normal?

Other:

Twitter ends its ban on covid misinformation. Doctors and public health officials say Musk’s decision is a ‘huge step backwards’ and will lead to more deaths
A Ploy, Not a Principle. Republican criticism of the Mar-a-Lago dinner with a Holocaust denier will be disavowed if Trump looks to be winning the party’s 2024 nomination.
The powerful gay man behind Tucker Carlson’s bloodcurdling hate
Left-Wing Voices Are Silenced on Twitter as Far-Right Trolls Advise Elon Musk. Elon Musk appears to have out-sourced decisions about who to ban from Twitter to the platform’s right-wing extremists.
Booz Allen ticketmastered America’s public lands
Suburbanites are saving the Democrats in Georgia — and elsewhere
How Capitalism—Not a Few Bad Actors—Destroyed the Internet
Cincinnati Times-Star Building (1931-33), Cincinnati, OH
Computer Repair Technicians Are Stealing Your Data
US House Passes Bill Forcing Railway Workers Not to Strike
Manifesting History
The GOP is openly vowing debt limit extortion. Act now, Democrats.
The Grown-Up Art of Andor
How monopoly enshittified Amazon
Some Rail Workers, Seeking Sick Days, Say Biden Betrayed Them
Why I’m not leaving Twitter
Happy holidays? Florida school district walks back decision to nix Hanukkah presentation
Commerce Secretary Raimondo Meets With One Corporate Executive per Day (a CEO a day keeps the post-administration position job search blues away!)
The Best Tax System on Earth
A Woman Wanted an Abortion to Save One of Her Twins. She Had to Travel 1,000 Miles.
What Is It This Time?
Biden Is Breaking His Sick Leave Promise To Crush Rail Workers
Officials fear ‘complete doomsday scenario’ for drought-stricken Colorado River
The Ghoulish Hubris of Letting People Die and Calling That Bravery. Ronald DeSantis and the GOP are going to brag about the freedom of leaving people to get sick. (why shouldn’t they? There’s no political cost to doing so because Biden hasn’t been much better)

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COVID Prevalence in D.C.

Last week, D.C. had a post-Thanksgiving back-to-school COVID testathon. Some observations and thoughts:

  1. 1.3% of staff, and 0.6% of students tested positive (though around thirty percent of students didn’t test at all); lumped together, we have 0.7% total. Note these are at-home antigen tests, not PCR tests, so we’re probably looking at around a one-percent infection rate, maybe a bit higher.
  2. Given the previous estimate, plan accordingly if you’re dining out, going to bars, and so on. Hopefully, last weekend’s World Cup festivities won’t have resulted in increased transmission and prevalence.
  3. I will just repeat my plea for requiring hospitals to release asymptomatic and symptomatic COVID patient intake data (i.e., what percent of people show up to the hospital infected?). We need this information, even if the Washington Post editorial board and business-friendly deputy mayors are afraid of the consequences.
  4. We’re also getting hammered by influenza, though that has receded slightly, and RSV. From what I’ve read and based on conversations with a couple of local hospital infectious disease/ED people, many of the hospitalizations, especially among kids, seem to be due to influenza and RSV, not COVID. For the most part, COVID is either a contributing factor among adults (those who have had COVID infections previously are getting hit hard by other viral and bacterial diseases now), or else COVID is reducing staffing (doctors and nurses can’t work). That said, there are no publicly available real-time data, so take this with a grain of salt.
  5. Related to the above, you really don’t want to get COVID, even if you have a mild case and are fortunate enough to avoid long COVID. If you’ve had COVID, try to avoid a second case–that might help you if you get sick with something else.
  6. Please wear a mask indoors in public places. This protects against multiple diseases, not just COVID. It is not like getting waterboarded, it’s just a mask. You can do this! I believe in you!
Posted in COVID-19, DC, Influenza | Leave a comment

Links 12/4/22

Links for you. Science:

‘The ghost that haunts Monteverde’: how the climate crisis killed the golden toad
Effectiveness of Bivalent mRNA Vaccines in Preventing Symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Infection — Increasing Community Access to Testing Program, United States, September–November 2022
The Monkeypox Cases That Might Have Been Missed
America’s Billion-Dollar Tree Problem Is Spreading
Is Science Really Self-Correcting? Yes, But the Mechanism Varies
Vaccine effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 reinfection during periods of Alpha, Delta, or Omicron dominance: A Danish nationwide study

Other:

The clear message of the midterms: the press is out of touch with the public
Inflation due to Covid and war in Ukraine shows us the limits of monetary policy
Republicans Hate Everything About Trump’s Dinner With Ye and Fuentes Except Trump (Because They Need to Win Republican Primaries)
Organ Donations Rise Around Motorcycle Rallies
Shopify won’t cut ties with controversial Libs of TikTok
Tokyo’s Iconic Capsule Tower Cubes Get a New Lease on Life
How the media — including NPR — overlooked the significance of a landmark study on reading education
Endless Demands For Sister Souljah Moments
Asa Hutchinson Is Saying the Right Things for a GOP Presidential Candidate. Too Bad That’s Doomed.
The Great Pearl Clutching
One Grifter Down
The ‘Do YoUr oWN ReSEarch’ Crowd Is Cracking Up Arizona’s Elections
Ye Pepe Fuentes
Herschel Walker’s in deep doo-doo for voting in Georgia while getting tax breaks on Texas home
America’s Post-Trump Delusion Is in Full Swing
Elon Musk feuds with Apple as Twitter moderation, payroll, child protection teams collapse
Democrats prepare to upend presidential primary calendar. The DNC’s rules committee is set to meet later this week to consider booting Iowa from its first-in-the-nation slot and add new early states.
Tech Journalism
‘I never opened the code for FTX:’ SBF has long, candid talk with vlogger
Speaking Of Dumbasses Who Were Musk’s Marks
Republicans don’t care that Trump’s a white supremacist — just that he’s indiscreet about it
Long Covid may be ‘the next public health disaster’ — with a $3.7 trillion economic impact rivaling the Great Recession
Sarah Langenkamp loved biking. She shouldn’t have died because of it.
A Letter to the DeSantis Fan-Boys From a Real Never Trumper
Sam Bankman-Fried doesn’t read. That tells us everything.

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