Links 6/19/22

Links for you. Science:

Modelling long-term COVID-19 hospital admission dynamics using immune protection waning data
The defence island repertoire of the Escherichia coli pan-genome
Synonymous mutations in representative yeast genes are mostly strongly non-neutral
The largest ever series of phage therapy case studies shows a success rate of more than half (paper here)
Nasal Vaccines Are Commercially High Risk, Perhaps High Reward
When Cats Chew Catnip, It Works as a Bug Spray

Other:

The Insurrection they planned for isn’t the insurrection they got (the violence was supposed to happen after Jan. 6)
Democrats Can Break the “Midterm Curse”: Contrary to popular belief, incumbent parties aren’t automatically fated to lose seats. Just look at 1998. (it’s all about the turnout)
CANCELED
The January 6 Hearings Are Mired in an Attempt to Refurbish the GOP Brand. In sorting out good Republicans from bad, the hearings keep getting lost in an insider game.
How To Spin An Election: The New York Times Tells Us A Story
There Are Rules Against a Lawyer Being a Putz During Official Proceedings For a Reason
Trump’s “Big Lie” Was Also a Big Grift. The January 6 committee’s revelations that the Trump campaign raised money for a bogus “Official Election Defense Fund” point to criminal fraud.
Fallout from Coeur d’Alene Patriot Front bust settles on Shea as he throws Busters under bus
Why the Hell Isn’t Mike Pence Testifying at the January 6 Hearing? Thursday’s hearing will dig into Trump’s pressuring Pence to reject electoral votes. So why isn’t the former vice president testifying?
GOP congressional candidate Carl Paladino said Black Americans are ‘held hungry and dumb’ and ‘conditioned’ to vote for Democrats
The least subtle con man in a party led by Donald Trump
MBTA Announces Significant Subway Service Cuts to Address Safety Hazards
Why Canceling Student Debt Should Be a Universal Benefit. The lesson from the Corinthian debt strikers: Should President Biden cancel student loan debt, it should be done without making debtors jump through hoops.
We will train our blue-eyed men
What Makes Bill de Blasio Run… for Congress? He’s the obvious favorite. But in an exclusive interview with The Nation, the former mayor recognizes that his road to political redemption might not be all downhill.
Inside Patriot Front: The Masked White Supremacists On A Nationwide Hate Crime Spree
To Avert January 6, We Needed Whistleblowers—and We Never Got Them. The Trump and Pence staffers testifying now batted down Trump’s election lies—but they never went public with the threat he posed.
Ginni Thomas Has a Lot of Explaining to Do
The Cracked Wisdom of Dril: A chaotic Twitter account has become one of America’s most incisive ongoing works of social criticism.
The Democrats’ New Spokesman in the Culture Wars. The left desperately needs someone to stand up to Republicans’ rights rollback. Is Gavin Newsom up to the task?

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Purple

Observed on S Street NW, between 17th and 18th, Dupont Circle, D.C.:

Untitled

Untitled

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Links 6/18/22

Links for you. Science:

Immunity to SARS-CoV-2: What Do We Know and Should We Be Testing for It?
People who caught Covid in first wave get ‘no immune boost’ from Omicron (paper here)
Datasets for benchmarking antimicrobial resistance genes in bacterial metagenomic and whole genome sequencing
Long Covid is a ‘national crisis.’ So why are grants taking so long to get?
When Covid Came for Provincetown. In a queer vacation hot spot on Cape Cod, an ad hoc community proved that Americans can stifle large outbreaks—if they want to. (excellent; must-read)
Pfizer’s Paxlovid study fails to answer key questions over benefit for broader populations

Other:

Vote Harder And Give More Money
Ten Republicans, led by Cornyn, renege on the gun safety agreement they made with Democrats (inconceivable!)
How special interests are guiding D.C.’s education future (vote against any candidate endorsed by DFER)
How ‘Trustless’ Is Bitcoin, Really? In myth, the cryptocurrency is egalitarian, decentralized and all but anonymous. The reality is very different, scientists have found.
Anti-LGBTQ threats, fueled by internet’s far right ‘machine,’ shut down trans rights and drag events. The threats mostly aimed to shut down events for transgender rights and drag performances, which have become frequent targets of extremists, militias and far-right personalities during June, which is Pride Month. (“Things get broadcast in advance by LibsOfTikTok and other major influencers on the right-wing right now. Then, extremists go into planning over it.”)
Leaked Amazon memo warns the company is running out of people to hire: Unions might not be the tech giant’s biggest labor threat.
Grassley has only himself to blame for skepticism about January 6 denials
The big idea: could the greatest works of literature be undiscovered?
A new study claims Medicare-for-all could have saved more than 200,000 lives during the pandemic
How to Dismantle For-Profit Colleges, Without Congress
Ah, Well, Nevertheless
GOP candidate caught saying Black people were kept ‘hungry and dumb’ by Democratic party
Trumpism without Trump: Maybe he’s beginning to fade — but the danger to democracy isn’t. Trump’s 2020 “Lost Cause” ideology has taught Republicans how to seize power — and they may not need him anymore
A Racist Researcher, Exposed by a Mass Shooting. The work of Michael Woodley, a Briton who was cited by the teenager who killed 10 Black people at a supermarket in Buffalo, included pseudoscientific theories that have been used to justify racism.
Actually, Chesa Boudin was voted out in the richest, whitest areas of San Francisco. Contrary to right-wing propaganda, and “liberal propaganda” by pundits like Jonathan Chait, many diverse neighborhoods in the city voted against recall.
Anti-Vaxxers Pivot to ‘Treating’ Long COVID. Massive doses of vitamin C, pyramid scheme prod and, of course, ivermectin are all on the menu.
How does Ron DeSantis sleep at night? (unclear how age and other factors fit in here)
Felicia Sonmez’s Firing Highlights the Limits of Progress For Women In Newsrooms
Employment is still more important than inflation
Paladino Said Black People Are Held ‘Hungry And Dumb’ While Insisting He Wasn’t Racist
New D.C. high school fight in Palisades

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In Case You Missed It…

…a week of Mad Biologist posts:

White Star

Heartland Values and the Rural Crime Wave

Still a Failure to Communicate

It’s Time to Unleash a New Greek Letter

Some Personal Thoughts on Scientific Meetings in a Time of COVID

It’s Not the Jumping, It’s the Landing

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Links 6/17/22

Links for you. Science:

Are these Cocoa Krispies-loving hamsters a key to cracking long Covid?
Monkeypox dilemma: How to warn gay men about risk without fueling hate
Mild respiratory COVID can cause multi-lineage neural cell and myelin dysregulation
How Animals Perceive the World
Covid is making flu and other common viruses act in unfamiliar ways
School Masking Policies and Secondary SARS-CoV-2 Transmission

Other:

Long COVID Could Be a ‘Mass Deterioration Event’
The Real Villain in the Gentrification Story. It’s not young, upwardly mobile college grads.
The inflation rate has been declining for the past year
Biden’s New Pandemic Plan Could Shift Control From the CDC to the White House and Disease Experts Aren’t Happy
GOP Candidate Carl Paladino Calls Adolf Hitler ‘The Kind Of Leader We Need Today’
Installing Rooftop Solar Can Be a Breeze. Just Look at Australia.
A visualization of DC Council candidates’ responses to our endorsement questionnaire
‘Testing bottleneck’ for monkeypox puts hope of containment at risk, experts warn
The Other Cause of January 6: Without the Electoral College, America would never have come so close to an overthrow of its government.
It’s Impossible to Find Swimming Lessons Right Now. You’re not imagining it! (gotta raise interest rates by another 0.75% then…)
The debate over Democrats and crime is disastrously confused
How many Covid deaths are acceptable? Some Biden officials tried to guess. Conversations about what Americans would tolerate didn’t go too far, underscoring the difficulty of explaining when the pandemic will end.
Inside a Corporate Culture War Stoked by a Crypto C.E.O. (what a horrible person)
San Francisco’s poverty rate is 10%; Detroit’s is 33%. San Francisco’s unemployment rate is 3%; Detroit’s is 20%. Yet, San Francisco’s homelessness rate is a whopping 3 times higher than Detroit’s. Why? If you want to understand homelessness, follow the rent
Judicial Supremacy
Why the Hell Isn’t Mike Pence Testifying at the January 6 Hearing?
Robotaxis
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte is missing, and we can only hope he’s not hiking the Appalachian Trail
I WILL FIGHT FOR YOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUU (“The point I’ve been trying to make is that Dem politicians prefer a world in which they are the sole actors in the Dem-leaning political space.”)
Poland Shows the Risks for Women When Abortion Is Banned. Poland’s abortion ban has had many unintended consequences. One is that doctors are sometimes afraid to remove fetuses or administer cancer treatment to save women’s lives.
When Cities Made Monuments to Traffic Deaths. A century ago, cars killed pedestrians and cyclists in record numbers. As traffic deaths rise again, it’s time to remember how US cities once responded to this safety crisis.
Abortions Increase in the U.S., Reversing a 30-Year Decline, Report Finds. A new survey of the nation’s abortion providers found increases in every region of the country from 2017 to 2020.

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It’s Not the Jumping, It’s the Landing

Over the last couple of days, there has been a spate of articles about tiny little frogs (smol!) that don’t jump like normal frogs because their small size means that the structures in the ear aren’t well developed and therefore can’t help the smol frogs balance.

But as you’ll see below, the problem isn’t the jumping–for their body size, they’re doing great! Good job smol frog!–it’s the landing:

This post was largely an excuse for me to post a video of smol frogs wiping out. Which probably makes me a horrible person.

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Links 6/16/22

Links for you. Science:

Legendary bacterial evolution experiment enters new era: A laboratory has been growing 12 populations of E. coli since 1988 — this year the cultures will get a new custodian.
UCSF’s Wachter says his wife now likely has long COVID and her health is ‘not great’
F.D.A. Approves Alopecia Drug That Restores Hair Growth in Many Patients
The microbial ecology of Escherichia coli in the vertebrate gut
COVID and smell loss: answers begin to emerge
Ozette: The US’ lost 2,000-year-old village

Other:

Long Covid Is Showing Up in the Employment Data. More Americans in and out of the labor force are having trouble remembering and concentrating, a common Covid-19 aftereffect.
Barry Loudermilk Should Be Thrown Out of Congress If He Refuses to Speak to the January 6 Committee
All The Greatest Minds
Tension over role of racism in public health strains Va. agency under Youngkin (Republicans are worse)
Trump supporters are victims of the Big Lie scam — but you don’t have to feel sorry for them
The dark triad
How aggressively should liberals attack the Supreme Court?
“Inflation”
How Houston Moved 25,000 People From the Streets Into Homes of Their Own
Synagogue challenges Florida abortion law over religion
In a Mailer, Anita Bonds Claimed An Endorsement from Someone Backing Her Opponent
Can the Fed Kill This Inflation Without Killing Too Many Other Things First?
Meet the head of D.C.’s new Office of Deaf, Deafblind and Hard of Hearing
The Ginni Thomas Jan. 6 scandal keeps getting worse. But there’s a silver lining. Thomas’ emails to Arizona lawmakers is a reminder of the Supreme Court’s vulnerability to corruption and conflict of interest.
Race for D.C. Council chair means first explaining: What’s council chair?
Accomplices to a coup: Trump’s lackeys must be held to account for the Big Lie
Trump Knew Exactly What He Was Doing on Jan. 6
Senate Feminist Spends Last Days of ‘Roe’ Shilling for Crypto Bros
Why is American administrative capacity in decline? Some speculative hypotheses
Andrée Geulen, rescuer of the Jewish children of Belgium, dies at 100
Notes on a mask-less world: Mask-lessness is becoming contagious and normalised in a world that is far from “normal”.

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Some Personal Thoughts on Scientific Meetings in a Time of COVID

Last week, I attended the ASM Microbe meeting held in D.C. Since I could walk or take the Metro there, I felt very safe–arguably, the safest public gathering I’ve attended since the pandemic. Mask compliance was extraordinarily high (>99%), and most attendees were wearing surgical masks or better–about fifteen percent seemed to be wearing N95s, and around fifty percent KN95 masks. Add to that, large, high ceiling rooms with a lot of ventilation, and it was very safe. Finally, attendees were required to have three or more vaccinations, and this was verified for entry.

The real concern I have is traveling to and from meetings, as well as dining. Since this was a local meeting, I could ‘control’ my travel exposure (it’s about 1.5 miles from my home), and obviously I can eat at home too. That said, some conferences seem to be far more lax (boldface mine):

During the second week in May, the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM), a large medical organization, held its annual meeting in person in New Orleans after canceling the event in 2020 and holding it virtually in 2021. The meeting brought together emergency physicians, residents, fellows, medical students, clinical researchers, and corporate exhibitors from across the U.S. at a time when the country was enduring yet another Covid-19 surge, this time from the Omicron BA.12.1 subvariant…

With cases and hospitalizations rising in many parts of the country, including New Orleans, and a community vaccination rate of around 50% for the host city, attending a large, multi-day, indoor meeting with after-hours socializing in the community posed numerous safety risks. In fact, a computing conference held in New Orleans the prior week was under scrutiny as a high transmission event. Yet the SAEM’s Covid policy was not modified to reflect contemporaneous public health data. Nor did the organizers implement a vaccine verification system, require boosters, or incorporate a Covid-19 testing strategy. Masks were “welcome” but optional. No information was provided about ventilation and there were no efforts to minimize indoor crowding. No standards were suggested about minimizing spread in social gatherings

The week after the conference, news of Covid-19 cases began circulating among our colleagues. Some shared stories of becoming ill, others described how they were pulled in to cover the shifts of others who were struck by Covid.

To come up with a back-of-the-envelope estimate, we reached out informally to 15 emergency medicine programs across the country to see how many of their attending physicians, fellows, residents, and research staff attended the conference and how many cases were thought to have resulted from the conference. Among the 11 programs that responded, the number of attendees ranged from five to more than 50, and Covid-19 case rates ranged from 18% to 67%. While there are many caveats to the data (it’s a nonrandom, convenience sample, the data are self-reported estimates), they suggest that this single academic event was responsible for many hundreds of cases

Do these cases matter? We believe they do, as there is the continued risk of severe disease, long Covid, and significant impact on training and careers, increased burden on already-strained health systems, and the exposure of untold numbers of other travelers in planes that no longer have mask-wearing rules, family members, patients, and others, some with increased vulnerability to severe disease due to underlying illnesses.

But The Pandemic Is Over! (Unless, of course, you’re DHHS Secretary Becerra, who has managed to contract COVID twice in one month).

Until we get a handle on long COVID or better vaccines, from my perspective, many conferences are just too risky–if emergency medicine conferences won’t take precautions, then we’re really screwed.

Anyway, kudos to ASM and my fellow attendees for displaying common sense and courtesy.

Posted in COVID-19, Meetings | Leave a comment

Links 6/15/22

Links for you. Science:

How housing density can help keep cities cooler
Durability of SARS-CoV-2 mRNA Booster Vaccine Protection Against Omicron Among Health Care Workers with a Vaccine Mandate
Association of Trends in SARS-CoV-2 Seroprevalence and State-Issued Nonpharmaceutical Interventions— United States, August 1, 2020 – March 30, 2021
As professors struggle to recruit postdocs, calls for structural change in academia intensify
Incidence, Attributable Mortality, and Healthcare and Out-of-Pocket Costs of Clostridioides difficile Infection in US Medicare Advantage Enrollees
Early detection of SARS-CoV-2 variants using traveler-based genomic surveillance at four US airports, September 2021- January 2022

Other:

The ugly truth about the right-wing grift machine has been revealed (excellent, must-read)
The Gerontocracy of the Democratic Party Doesn’t Understand That We’re at the Brink
Flight Attendants Fight Back. Sara Nelson, the head of the largest flight attendants’ union, leads her members through turbulent times and mounts a major organizing drive at Delta.
To Fight Inflation, The Fed Declares War On Workers. By leaving the problem of rising prices to the central bank, Democrats are accepting an attack on labor power.
Virginia was primed to teach Black history. Then the nation’s first anti-critical race theory governor took office.
After Bitter Loss, Ousted Centrist Democrat Goes After Party That Backed Him
Why the return to the office isn’t working
This Sentence Is Possibly the Purest Distillation of What Motivates Authoritarian Apparatchiks
The scandal embroiling Washington’s most venerable think tank, explained
Don’t Try To Dig What We All Say
Bullshit Walks
How Did the Florida 2000 Ratf*ck Not Come Up While This Guy Was Testifying?
A Pizzagate in Every City
The Jan. 6 Committee Hosted A Hearing For The 21st Century
So, as a Prominent Leonhardt Critic, let me say that I think this represents a really fundamental institutional/structural problem in the creation of the tentpole, front-page “news analysis” genre.
Strawberry Moon
The Limits of San Francisco Liberalism
The education group putting big money into this D.C. election cycle (easy rule: vote against any candidate DFER endorses)
A $1 million lottery’s winning numbers: 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
Profit without honor
Catholic group launches ‘Hide the Pride’ anti-LGBTQ library campaign
Patriot Front member kicked out of mom’s house following arrest: ‘This is not who I raised’
Herschel Walker Says He’s a Model Dad. He Has a Secret Son.

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It’s Time to Unleash a New Greek Letter

With multiple reports of reinfection of people who were infected with older Omicron variants now being reinfected with the newer Omicron subvariants, we really need to unleash a new Greek letter (depending on the immunology, perhaps more than one. MOAR LETTERZ!). As long as we call these antigenically different subvariants ‘Omicron’, lots of people who were infected over the late fall or early winter will believe–incorrectly–that they’re protected from the newer Omicron variants.

Of course, that would require admitting that The Pandemic Is Over is not true, so we’ll just let infections–and long COVID–keep going and going…

Posted in COVID-19 | 1 Comment