Links 2/23/21

Links for you. Science:

CDC gives guidance on using pain relievers like Motrin, Tylenol with COVID-19 vaccine
Evidence for adaptive evolution in the receptor-binding domain of seasonal coronaviruses OC43 and 229e
Cannibalism May Be Key for These Cockroach Couples
Scientists Are Trying to Spot New Viruses Before They Cause Pandemics
Scientists Accidentally Discover Strange Creatures Under a Half Mile of Ice


Trump Appointees Still Setting Agenda At Biden’s Antitrust Division
This Was Gerrymandering Cloaked in the Moral Camouflage of the Civil Rights Movement
Eroding trust, spreading fear: The historical ties between pandemics and extremism
Florida Is a COVID Nightmare—Even for Vaccinated People
Ugly new attacks on Republicans who defied Trump hint at a dark GOP future
D.C. Faces A Startling Question: What If Office Workers Don’t Come Back? (turn it into housing)
A Fence Now Surrounds Congress, But Capitol Hill Residents Are Leading The Push To Bring It Down
The Law Professor Who Trained with the D.C. Police
This Is All Ted Cruz’s Fault
A coronavirus vaccine entrepreneur held an indoor conference. Now dozens of attendees have the virus.
The Job Of The Opposition Is To Oppose
Portland police officers guard Fred Meyer dumpsters, face off with residents seeking discarded food
The myth of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Covid vaccines: Why false perceptions overlook facts, and could breed resentment
Running Government ‘Like A Business’ Kills People
New Working Paper Says D.C. Did Not See Surge in Cases Following Capitol Insurrection
Sean Hannity and Texas governor blame solar power and wind power for energy blackouts in Texas
Lack of witnesses at Trump’s trial is not the problem. Witness intimidation is.
AP sets mainstream-media tone by ignoring groups’ hate-group status, treating them as ‘normal’
The Founders Were Wrong About Democracy
The national GOP is broken. State GOPs might be even worse. (yep. True for years though)

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500,000 Dead: Rage Is the Appropriate Emotion

Yesterday, President Biden led a moment of silence for the 500,000 dead from COVID-19. Throughout this godawful shitty mess, I keep hearing about pandemic fatigue. But I haven’t experienced fatigue. Yes, the restrictions are not enjoyable, to say the least, but I come from a long line of short, stubborn Jews, so I can handle it (to use a phrase completely out of context, shver tsu zayn a yid).

But what I have felt throughout this is a constant, simmering rage. There has been so much needless death and suffering, and this is not tragic. Tragedy is when good people make a, well, tragic mistake. But this was a never-ending cavalcade of people, often the worst of us, who willfully made mistake after mistake. We could have done things to lessen the American Carnage, yet too many of us chose not to do so. It wasn’t going to be good–there’s no silver lining to a pandemic–but it didn’t have to be like this. It didn’t have to be this horrible.

We always have been four to eight weeks away from containment, yet most of those who purport to govern us decided that we would continue to remain four to eight weeks away from containment. There is no balm in Gilead to heal those sin-sick souls.

So I’m not fatigued. I’m not tired. I’m too fucking angry to be tired or fatigued.

And, as is usual in 21st century America, most of those who failed us will suffer no consequences. This was not an act of nature, it was an injustice, and we will find no justice, and so we will find no peace. Deliberate forgetfulness or denial perhaps, but no peace.

Rage is still the appropriate emotion.

Posted in COVID-19, Resistance Rebellion And Death | 2 Comments

Links 2/22/21

Links for you. Science:

They Put the Bite in Trilobite
Ecologists buy 1,000-acre blue gum plantation and transform it into wetland it once was
Einsteinium Is Mysterious. Scientists Have Unlocked Some of Its Secrets.
Climate crisis pushing great white sharks into new waters
The distribution of plasmid fitness effects explains plasmid persistence in bacterial communities


Even a Conservative Analysis Shows the $15 Minimum Wage Does More Good Than Harm
Governors Are Easing Restrictions at Exactly the Wrong Time
Democrats are blowing a big chance to do child benefits right
The Pentagon Turns on Wall Street
The Unlikeliest Pandemic Success Story
Did Trump think his mob had taken Mike Pence hostage?
The Way Out of America’s Zero-Sum Thinking on Race and Wealth
First They Guarded Roger Stone. Then They Joined the Capitol Attack.
Biden is winning Republican support for his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan. Just not in Washington.
‘The last straw’: the US families ending love affair with grocery chain after Capitol riot
Impeachment’s Over. Bring On the Criminal Investigations.
Hockey Has a Gigantic-Goalie Problem
Antisemitism Is a Critical Piece of a Racial Justice Agenda
Pizzagate’s violent legacy
Inflation Isn’t Lurking Around the Corner. This Isn’t the 1970s.
The Importance Of Door Knocking
The Reality Behind Donald Trump’s Second Acquittal
Mardi Gras is canceled, so residents are making their homes into floats: ‘New Orleans doesn’t know how to do anything halfway’
In Biden’s Nomination of Marty Walsh, Aaron Swartz Prosecutor Gets Her Final Comeuppance
As the pandemic ushered in isolation and financial hardship, overdose deaths reached new heights

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The State of COVID-19 in D.C.: Will D.C. Engage in Magical Thinking and Backslide (Again)

Another week of improvement for D.C. The entire city and all wards, including the ‘low prevalence bastions’ of Ward 2 and 3, are still well above 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):

Ward one-week prevalence one-week % pos. two-week prevalence two-week % pos.
1 0.067% 2.0% 0.156% 1.9%
2 0.069% 2.2% 0.163% 2.3%
3 0.066% 2.6% 0.118% 1.9%
4 0.119% 4.1% 0.258% 4.0%
5 0.145% 4.5% 0.323% 4.3%
6 0.099% 2.9% 0.209% 2.5%
7 0.145% 6.1% 0.299% 5.2%
8 0.123% 3.9% 0.283% 3.9%
D.C. total 0.102% 2.8% 0.225% 2.7%

The ‘good place’, which is one new case per 100,000 people per day, would be 0.007% in column two and 0.014% in column four–and we’re still nowhere near that. Wards 1, 2, 4, 5, and 8 had sizeable decreases, while Ward 3 increased in prevalence, albeit from of very low starting point. The data for Ward 4, 5, 7, and 8 should be taken with a grain of salt, as the percent positive rates are high in those wards. We’re also seeing a continuing decline in COVID-19 related deaths: this week we had ‘only’ sixteen deaths, equivalent to around eight months of traffic fatalities in D.C. in 2019. R(t) appears to be bouncing around 0.85, which means (roughly) that if we have 100 new cases today, we will have around 85 daily new cases five days from now.

The real question now is whether the D.C. government will, once again, engage in magical thinking and loosen restrictions further. What has been frustrating throughout the entire pandemic is the magical belief that new daily cases will drop on their own after the policies that led new daily cases to decrease are ended. I’m hoping that D.C. Mayor Bowser will use the CDC guidelines as an excuse to not relax restrictions for the next month or so (and, if not, the D.C. Council, for once, needs to do its fucking job and challenge her): if D.C. were to do that, we would be below the CDC prevalence threshold for school reopening, with some room to spare.

This, of course, assumes we will keep R(t) below one, something we shouldn’t take as a given. As the weather gets nicer (this week’s weather in the 50s could murder us), we’ll see more inter-household contact, and cases might rise again. That’s before any of the new variants arrive. Like I said last week though, I’m afraid the city will use any good news as an excuse to loosen the restrictions, which have been successful so far.

Again, the good news is that we still could be only around six weeks away from returning to normal-ish, even though we intentionally remain six weeks away from safely returning to normal-ish because we’re unwilling to do what it takes to make that happen.

Anger isn’t the appropriate emotion, rage is.

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Links 2/21/21

Links for you. Science:

POLITICAL VIOLENCE, RISK AVERSION, AND NON-LOCALIZED DISEASE SPREAD: EVIDENCE FROM THE U.S. CAPITOL RIOT (“…we find no evidence that the Capitol Riot substantially increased community spread of COVID-19 in the District of Columbia in the month-long period following the event. This may be due to increases in social distancing and a “virtual lockdown” of the Capitol prior to the inauguration of the new president. However… we find that counties with the highest protester inflows experienced a significant increase in the rate of daily cumulative COVID-19 case growth in the month following the protest. We conclude that the Capitol Riot may have contributed to non-localized COVID-19 spread.”)
Genomic sequencing in pandemics
Speeding Ships Kill Too Many Whales
Why Phoenix may be uninhabitable by the end of this century
Study suggests the Tasmanian tiger survived into the 21st century


“A Huge Potential for Chaos”: How the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Was Hobbled by Turf Wars and Magical Thinking. Inside the Trump administration, sensible ideas for how to manage a massive, unprecedented distribution of vaccinations were no match for bureaucratic knife fighting, gung ho hubris, and a knee-jerk aversion to strong federal action. (Republicans suck at governing)
They thought they’d be near the front of the line for the vaccine. Now, they don’t know where they stand. (the disabled)
National Guard Troops Might Not Leave D.C. Until The Fall
Washington Post editor finally admits Trump should’ve been called a “liar”
It’s Not A Waitlist: D.C. Plans New COVID-19 Vaccine Sign-Up For March
‘Fire DeJoy Before He Burns Down USPS’: Postmaster General Pushes Plan for Slower Mail, Higher Prices
The Faircloth Amendment, explained
What’s Behind D.C.’s Gentrification Ranking Drop? One Lawyer Suggests Development Appeals Contributed. (it’s somewhat confused about terms and processes, but the key thing is that there is an unmet low-income housing crisis)
Biden admin reportedly planning to undo Trump admin’s politicized version of naturalization test
Ultimately, Donald Trump Beat the System. Again.
Texas storm shows what it looks like to have a president of all the United States
Scientists May Solve Amelia Earhart’s Disappearance With a Nuclear Reactor (or not. Still interesting though)
GOP governor Kristi Noem, potential Trump successor, used state aircraft for tens of thousands of dollars in political travel
A Powerful Conservative Coalition Is Fueling The State-Level Push To Hamper COVID-19 Restrictions (ALEC is horrible, worse than the NRA)
“A moment of moral and political nihilism”: Theologian Adam Kotsko on our current crisis
How the United States Lost to Hackers: America’s biggest vulnerability in cyberwarfare is hubris.
The “For the People Act” Would Make the U.S. a Democracy
Our Terrorists Are an Arm of the GOP. Will Biden Say It? Dick Morris (of all people) urged Bill Clinton to be explicit about the link between the GOP and domestic extremists. Clinton did not follow the advice, but now Joe Biden must.
GOP congressman pitches $34 billion plan to breach Lower Snake River dams in new vision for Northwest
Health care workers replaced Denver cops in handling hundreds of mental health and substance abuse cases — and officials say it saved lives
Vice President Kamala Harris could kill the filibuster herself

Posted in Lotsa Links | 1 Comment

When Elected Officials Are Above and Apart

A point I made long ago in the context of transportation policy bears repeating: for services to work well, those who govern said services must use them–and suffer when they fail. In a more general sense, elected officials can’t be above and apart from those they serve because they lack an understanding of what people actually experience (there are exceptions).

This, of course, is a post about housing policy. Gordon Chaffin reports (boldface mine):

A notable dynamic of ANC 3C’s FLUM [Future Land-Use Meeting] fight is how the vote came down: the six YEA votes came from Commissioners who live in multi-unit buildings and the three Commissioners voting NAY live in single-family homes. Of the three NAYs, two own their homes. Cmmsr. Gersten’s home was last assessed at $1.8 million and Cmmsr. MacWood’s home valued at $2.6 million. Five of the six Commissioners voting YEA own their apartments/condos; all last assessed for less than $450K. That’s based on the Commissioners’ publicly-listed addresses and public tax records for those parcels. Assessed values for homes usually underestimate the market value a little to a lot.

The DC-area’s land-use and housing decisions are made by elected and appointed representatives, most of whom live and/or own single-family homes. Arlington County’s [VA] residents, for example, are majority renter with half the population living in multi-family buildings. However, it was just recently that its five-member Board had a single member renting their home. For a more inclusive democracy and policy changes for more sustainable and just land-use, ANCs and other decision-making bodies must have more apartment- and condo-dwellers.

I’ve pretty much adopted the strategy of, whenever possible, voting for state territorial officials who rent and use mass transit. That’s the best way to get good housing and transportation policy.

Posted in DC, Housing | 1 Comment

Morning Star Lodge

Observed at the corner of 15th and R Streets NW, Dupont Circle, D.C.:


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Links 2/20/21

Links for you. Science:

Virus variant first detected in the U.K. has been deadlier, study confirms
7 Virus Variants Found in U.S. Carrying the Same Mutation
The rollout of Russia’s Sputnik vaccine was roundly criticised, now more than a billion doses have been ordered around the world
Stonehenge: Did the stone circle originally stand in Wales?
A Mysterious, Lethal Chimp Disease Is Linked to a Human Illness


The massive GOP betrayal of our democracy requires a forceful Democratic response
‘A moment of truth’? After years of Trump’s lies, amplified by MAGA media, that proved impossible for most Republicans
Covid-19: Five ways to avoid lockdown eye strain
Welcome to Iowa, a state that doesn’t care if you live or die: The governor lifted all covid-19 restrictions — showing what we really mean when we say ‘Iowa nice’ (and she will likely pay no electoral consequences)
I work in a nursing home. Here’s why my colleagues are skipping the vaccine.
The House Sets the Marker: Two main outstanding issues in the Biden relief bill have been, at least for now, decided in progressives’ favor.
My wife and I got covid-19. Our doctor prescribed a medication used to treat parasites in livestock.
A false sense of security…
Why Are There So Few Black Economists at the Fed?
Breaking the Rule of One: After upending a racial norm in the rural South, a Black councilwoman contends with defiance from a community she wants to serve
Postcard From Peru: Why the Morality Plays Inside The Times Won’t Stop (background here)
Biden administration urged to allow states to cancel spring standardized testing
Biden moves quickly to make his mark on federal courts after Trump’s record judicial nominations
She was stunned by Biden’s inauguration. How this South Carolina mom escaped QAnon
The Shocking Meltdown of Ample Hills — Brooklyn’s Hottest Ice Cream Company
Out of Options: Recessions have not, at least historically, made the nonrich rich
Library Associations, Agencies, Workers Advocate for Early Vaccination Priority
This is one surefire way to shore up the U.S. economy
D.C. Could Get More Than $2 Billion In Federal Aid Under Proposed COVID Stimulus Bill
Black restaurant servers were tipped less than others in retaliation for enforcing social distancing, report says

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In Case You Missed It…

…a week of Mad Biologist links:

Sign of the Times

The State of COVID-19 in D.C.: Rounding the Corner, For Now

We Never Reached Containment

Some Thoughts on the CDC’s New School Guidance

Maybe Eighty Percent of State and Local Officials Should Not Be Reelected?

Dysfunction as a Political Philosophy

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Links 2/19/21

Links for you. Science:

The Body Is Far From Helpless Against Coronavirus Variants
Coronavirus: Latest Israeli data proves vaccines work – 0.1% infected
The End Of The COVID-19 Pandemic
Genes Influencing Phage Host Range in Staphylococcus aureus on a Species-Wide Scale
Estimating epidemiologic dynamics from cross-sectional viral load distributions


Fire Louis DeJoy: It wouldn’t be simple for Joe Biden to oust the postmaster general, but it’s hardly as impossible as the press is making it out to be. (here’s why it should be done)
The Cantillon Effect and GameStop
“We are not trying to vaccine as many people as quickly as possible”
The Aughts Were Nuts
Poll Finds Nearly 40 Percent of Republicans Think Political Violence Is Justifiable and Could Be Necessary
The Problems With Public Defense Are Big, But They’re Fixable
Sen. Murray recounts harrowing tale of hiding in room as rioters stormed the Capitol (once we view the insurrection as a 21st century version of a Jim Crow lynch mob–and it was–both the composition of the insurrectionists and of those who engaged in jury nullification makes a lot of sense)
Those Who Work: What you can learn about medieval Europe if you focus on peasants.
Senate Democrats can pass almost anything with a simple majority—and without nuking the filibuster
The Insidious Influence of the Arms Industry on Foreign Policy
Nation’s public health service, deploying to fight covid-19, waits on vaccines (fix this, you assholes)
The Limits of Descriptive Representation
Capitol riot suspect bragged about using officers’ pepper spray against them, prosecutors say
Is Biden the “Reagan of the Left”? No one expected Biden to be the one to transform American economic policy in a leftward direction. But he might. (not convinced Reagan’s ascent had much to do with stagflation though)
Trump Checked Out Of The District. Where Does That Leave His Hotel?
Who should get a $1,400 check?
Are conservative policies shortening American lives?
How The US Legalized Corruption
These state statistics are enraging, and they explain so much of our modern politics
Why Conspiracy Theories Are So Alluring
Talking Points
People Over 75 Are First in Line to Be Vaccinated Against COVID-19. The Average Black Person Here Doesn’t Live That Long.

Posted in Lotsa Links | 1 Comment