An Incalculable Loss

Remember this?


We’ve lost 230,000 lives this year in the U.S. How many incalculables is that?

If we still took COVID seriously–and Biden’s recent comment didn’t help–we would be pushing boosters*, providing masks and testing, and giving people actual information about the prevalence of COVID (releasing asymptomatic hospital intake data). That’s an insufficient list which lacks community/societal-level interventions, but we’re not even doing the individual-level interventions.

It’s not that there will be no deaths, but it didn’t need to be like this (and, in D.C., about 22% of deaths have occurred among those who are up-to-date on their vaccinations, so it’s not just a pandemic of the unvaccinated).

As I’ve said since May 2020, a major concern is long COVID–and the best way to limit long COVID cases is to limit COVID cases, but we’re not even trying to do that. Instead, we’re conducting a very large experiment on viral-mediated disability.

Hopefully, that won’t lead to something incalculable.

*The conservatives on the Supreme Court really hurt–and they did Judge Aileen ‘Loose’ Cannon quality fact-finding in their decisions related to COVID.

**D.C., since the start of Omicron in March, has had eighteen deaths: nine hadn’t completed the primary series, five had completed the primary series but weren’t boosted, and four were boosted.

Posted in COVID-19 | Leave a comment

Links 9/25/22

Links for you. Science:

NASA hopes to hit an asteroid now in case we really need to knock one away later
Saving Whales From Ship Collisions With Warnings and Letter Grades
Why Omicron Might Stick Around
Mystery of dead sturgeon in central B.C. has scientists asking for help
Impact of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination and booster on COVID-19 symptom severity over time in the COVID-OUT trial
Evolutionary consequences of delaying intervention for monkeypox


On COVID, the president put his foot in it
Wildly Popular And Under Attack: The Political Battle Over America’s Public Lands
Boston’s sea-level rise will require a ‘Big Dig level’ solution, city leaders say
Public Libraries Now Have To Deal With Hoax Bomb Threats
The typical Chinese adult is now richer than the typical European adult, a new wealth report finds
What Policing Looks Like from the Inside
Trump’s Putin Lust & the Final Frontier of Democracy
In America, Clean Water Is Becoming a Luxury
To democratize our way of life, we need ‘democratic contempt’ for the spoils of white power
These parents are making DIY air purifiers for Philly schools. They want one in every city classroom.
Judge rules Wasilla lawmaker likely ineligible for office due to Oath Keepers membership, delaying election certification until trial concludes
A Danish City Built Google Into Its Schools—Then Banned It
What Putin’s Mobilization Means for the War in Ukraine
The Midterm Race That Has It All
San Francisco Braces for Epic Commercial Real Estate Crash

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What Big Ears You Have

Observed on Swann Street NW, between 15th and 16th, Dupont Circle, D.C.:


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Links 9/24/22

Links for you. Science:

Fossils Solve Mystery of an Ancient ‘Alien Goldfish’
Humans are dosing Earth’s waterways with medicines. It isn’t healthy. (big problem for antibiotic resistance too)
The Fatal Error of an Ancient, HIV-Like Virus. It got too cozy with its host.
This Acrobatic Hunting Trick Is Straight Out of the Spider-Verse
The Dreaded “Twindemic” of Influenza and COVID-19 Has Not Yet Materialized—Might This Be the Year
How Many Ants Are There on Earth? You’re Going to Need More Zeros.


Legal Journalism Is Broken
Metro Says It Doesn’t Have Enough Trains To Run Silver Line Extension Without Service Cuts
Improving Street Design Can Improve Traffic Safety While Reducing Enforcement Disparities
The Most Stinging Resignation Letter Ever Written
Ron DeSantis Can’t Troll His Way Into the White House (Trump kind of did though?)
Our complacent insiders
Book Review: ‘Dinners With Ruth’ and Without Any Semblance of Journalistic Standards, By Nina Totenberg
Rattling the Cage
In Prince George’s County, there once was a supermarket fit for a queen
Montana lawmakers push for ‘born alive’ referendum that will take away family health decisions
Republicans just can’t help themselves. They have to talk about cutting Social Security and Medicare
Even Mainstream Republicans Are Pretty Extreme. The narrow House passage of the Electoral Count Act shows that most rank-and-file members aren’t willing to defend the Constitution.
This Threat to Democracy Is Hiding in Plain Sight
The Extremist’s Veto: What Happens If We Don’t Prosecute Trump? | Mike the Mad Biologist

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In Case You Missed It…

…a week of Mad Biologist posts:


The Extremist’s Veto: What Happens If We Don’t Prosecute Trump?

It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over: The ‘End’ of the Pandemic and Long COVID

Some Sort of Good News About Long COVID and Vaccination

Stating the Obvious About Gun Control

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Links 9/23/22

Links for you. Science:

Scientists have calculated how many ants are on Earth. The number is so big it’s ‘unimaginable.’
The US Is Measuring Extreme Heat Wrong
D.C. Health Struggles To Overcome Pandemic Delays in Wastewater Surveillance Project
Outbreak of Acute Gastroenteritis Among Rafters and Backpackers in the Backcountry of Grand Canyon National Park, April–June 2022.
Rapid Increase in Suspected SARS-CoV-2 Reinfections, Clark County, Nevada, USA, December 2021
SARS-CoV-2 Secondary Attack Rates in Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Household Contacts during Replacement of Delta with Omicron Variant, Spain


Killed for Walking a Dog. The mundanity and insanity of gun death in America
Remote workers are wasting their time proving they’re actually working
‘Can’t work at a desk’: What it’s like to be out of work with Long COVID
I’m a chronically ill student, and one-way masking isn’t enough. The lack of masks in my classroom jeopardizes my health—and possibly my ability to finish my degree.
The Republican Party is an authoritarian outlier. Compared to center-right parties in developed democracies, the GOP is dangerously far from normal.
New USPS Delivery Network: Radically Cutting Rural Service, Headcount; Likely to Further Slow Delivery
GOP congressional candidate said US suffered from women’s suffrage and praised organization trying to repeal 19th Amendment
Laburnum Steps
The Simple Life
Nina Totenberg Had a Beautiful Friendship With RBG. Her Book About It Is an Embarrassment. (“…hose of us who have relied on her reporting but didn’t experience the heartwarming calls or the gossip-filled evenings are within our rights to apply a certain selfish cost-benefit analysis: What exactly do we get out of her friendships?”)
The media needs to treat Brett Favre like it did Michael Vick and Colin Kaepernick
Reading Betty Friedan After the Fall of Roe
Is the Covid-19 pandemic over? The answer is more art than science
Biden Says the Pandemic Is Over. Is It? BU epidemiologist Eleanor Murray says the president’s statement is premature: “A pandemic cannot be declared over by a single country, since pandemics involve all countries”
Facebook Engineers: We Have No Idea Where We Keep All Your Personal Data
As Colorado River Dries, the U.S. Teeters on the Brink of Larger Water Crisis
Like Sisyphus Pushing A Boulder Up A Hill, Republicans Again Battle The Odds To Run In D.C.
Parents, students complain East Baton Rouge schools field trip was more like church service (‘Christians’ are oppressed tho…)
Nearly 225,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 since the start of 2022 despite viral declines, data shows
Their Problem
A progressive group is pulling its endorsements of lawmakers who voted to hold Larry Krasner in contempt

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Links 9/22/22

Links for you. Science:

The case for lotteries as a tiebreaker of quality in research funding. More funders should consider using randomization to choose grant recipients when decisions are too close to call. (I and many others have being arguing for this for many, many years)
Polio is the next front in the disinformation wars
Explaining the mysterious purple gold at Spain’s Alhambra
UMD Researcher Develops Nasal COVID Vaccine
Long-term neurologic outcomes of COVID-19 (no mention of vaccination status though)
Poxviruses, outbreaks, and Ebola: A Q&A with a retiring CDC expert on bad bugs


I Was Fired for Asking Students to Wear Masks
WOUNDED CITY: A weekend of gun violence in Philadelphia shows the incalculable, yet cruelly normal, level of trauma that residents must endure.
Puerto Rico’s Power Troubles—Who Has It and How It’s Used. This isn’t just about electricity and keeping the lights on, though.
The Good Republicans
Queen Elizabeth’s Funeral Brought out All the Folks with Fancy Titles that History Left Behind
Tucker Carlson’s latest call to violence cannot be contextualized away. It’s dangerous rhetoric
No, Mr. President, the pandemic isn’t over
How a Category 1 hurricane did so much damage in Puerto Rico
Video shows sensitive data of every Georgia voter might have been copied by Trump’s team
The Democratic plan to avert a 2024 Trump coup quietly advances
PA: Josh Shapiro Joins GOP On School Vouchers
DeSantis’s Contempt for Immigrants Makes Him Politically Stupid
Who Matters
Chrissy Teigen has shown what abortion is. Some refuse to accept it.
Doctors say Graham’s abortion ban would force women to have transvaginal ultrasounds
The Good Republicans
Biden declared the pandemic ‘over.’ His Covid team says it’s more complicated.
Nazi analogies are dangerous. But they are increasingly relevant today.
Lies and fraud have become the basis for the Trump-packed Supreme Court majority
Police Are Repeating the Drug War’s Dark History in the Fentanyl Era
Most Councilmembers Won’t Seek Another Repeal If Tipped Wage Ballot Measure Passes
Why zero Republicans have joined Sanders’s warning of a Brazil coup

Posted in Lotsa Links | 2 Comments

Stating the Obvious About Gun Control

Thanks to the June decision by the Supreme Court that argues gun control regulations must be rooted in ‘historic traditions’, ammosexuals have started firing off lawsuits, including one that argues for the right to carry on D.C.’s Metro. D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine states the obvious–which, of course, means nothing when it comes to the runaway conservative courts (boldface mine):

But in his 44-page response, Racine argued that Metro is in fact a sensitive place because of the role it plays in transporting government workers and school children (since D.C. has no school buses, children use Metro for transportation) but also because of the possible risks of conflict on crowded trains and buses.

In dense spaces characterized by jostling and interpersonal conflict, the risk of a gun being accidentally discharged or hastily fired is tragically high — not only for the innocent bystanders who may be shot, but also for the countless other victims who may be crushed or thrown from a platform by a panicked crowd. What is more, any incident involving a firearm could disrupt transit for the hundreds or thousands of people relying on government-provided transportation each day,” he wrote. “In addition, the Metro is a sensitive place because it functions as the District’s school bus, meaning that a large concentration of children may be riding trains and buses at any given time.”

Racine also countered historical arguments made by the plaintiffs to justify being allowed to carry concealed guns on Metro, saying that the conditions faced today are little like those early in the country’s history. “Plaintiffs provide no sensible reason to assume that the desolate roadways of 19th century are at all analogous to the Metro’s gated, underground, and densely packed transit zones,” he argued.

At some point, if the courts keep being stupid, the executive and legislative branches must execute checks on their prerogatives. And, yes, guns in a subway system are a really bad idea, especially in light of the right’s belief that urban areas are violent hellholes.

Posted in BANG! BANG!, DC | Leave a comment

Links 9/21/22

Links for you. Science:

Sydney’s Trash Wars: People And Cockatoos Locked In Escalating ‘Innovation Arms Race’
Monkeypox in a Young Infant — Florida, 2022
“When They’re Hungry, They’ll Let You Know”: Caring for Dogfish
Biden Is Wrong, the COVID-19 Pandemic Isn’t Over
Long COVID Experts and Advocates Say the Government Is Ignoring ‘the Greatest Mass-Disabling Event in Human History’
Naming the unnamed: over 65,000 Candidatus names for unnamed Archaea and Bacteria in the Genome Taxonomy Database


Long COVID Experts and Advocates Say the Government Is Ignoring ‘the Greatest Mass-Disabling Event in Human History’ (excellent, must-read)
‘A Crisis Coming’: The Twin Threats to American Democracy (stopped clock is right twice a day… and there’s still some both-sidesing)
Let’s not give Biden a pass for “the pandemic is over.” Imagine if Trump said it? (Mehdi Hasan)
Metro Reduced This Year’s Budget Shortfall By Half. But Long-Term Financial Issues Loom
Of course DeSantis flouts the law and human decency — He’s just following Trump’s example. Some Republicans see DeSantis as a cleaned-up Trump. But their contempt for the rule of law is exactly the same
Trump’s unhinged rage in Ohio shows the danger of a GOP Congress
Dump the Debt Ceiling Before Republicans Win the House: Democrats should act while they still control Congress to erase the possibility of a government default.
A New Museum: Competition in the Land of Young Earth Creationism
Under New Bill, D.C.’s Traffic Cameras Would Dole Out Points As Well As Fines
After Texas Sent Him to Washington, One Migrant Launches a New Life
Marjorie Taylor-Greene Tries to Lay the Groundwork for a Trump Purge of Civil Servants
There’s a Pill Between Plan B and Abortion That ‘Treats’ a Missed Period: Menstrual regulation with period pills could let us think of ourselves as “a little bit pregnant,” as a new episode of the podcast Invisibilia explores.
House Republicans Plan to Investigate Chamber of Commerce If They Take the Majority
Forget the cruel stunts. What should we actually do about immigration?
Republicans Use Huddled Masses Yearning to Breathe Free to Own the Libs
Honorable Gentleman
Widening the lens on democracy
Wish It Away Now
On Barbara Ehrenreich
The smoking gun in Martha’s Vineyard
Say Goodbye to Turning Right on Red in DC
The idea that the pandemic is over is obviously a load of hot garbage, but at least we’re in a much better place than we were a year ago, right? Wrong. Let’s compare September 2021 (SY21-22) to September 2022 (SY22-23) in DC Public Schools
COVID-19 know-it-alls want to revisit the 2020-21 school year? Fine. Let’s
Freed after years in prison, Pennsylvania brothers become political fodder

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Some Sort of Good News About Long COVID and Vaccination

At least in relative terms. Unlike the U.S., the UK has been monitoring random population samples through its UK COVID-19 Infection Survey (run by the Office for National Statistics, ONS) and samples over 500,000 people. A recent study reports the frequency of long COVID as defined by the following question:

“Would you describe yourself as having ‘Long Covid’, that is, you are still experiencing symptoms more than 4 weeks after you first had COVID-19, that are not explained by something else?”

This is similar to a U.S. study I discussed last week, but they also report results for a follow up question:

“Do you have any physical or mental health conditions or illnesses lasting or expected to last 12 months or more (excluding any long-lasting COVID- 19 symptoms)?” and “If yes, do any of your conditions or illnesses reduce your ability to carry-out day-to-day activities (a lot, a little, or not at all)?”

Unlike the study I mentioned last week, the data don’t include much Omicron wave (i.e., data were only analyzed through November 2021).

First, the good news: two doses lowered the likelihood of long COVID by 41%, and lowered the percent of those with severe long COVID by around thirty seven percent. That said, the not-so-good news is that 9.5% of vaccinated people had long COVID symptoms and 5.5% of vaccinated people had activity-limiting symptoms.

Hopefully, the Omicron variants don’t cause as much long COVID, but even if the rate were halved, that’s still a lot of disabled people. And we do need to desperately ramp up vaccine uptake (among many other things).

I want to opt out of this experiment.

Posted in COVID-19 | 2 Comments