Links 9/22/20

Links for you. Science:

Age-dependent regulation of SARS-CoV-2 cell entry genes and cell death programs correlates with COVID-19 disease severity
Transmission Dynamics of COVID-19 Outbreaks Associated with Child Care Facilities — Salt Lake City, Utah, April–July 2020.
Children Are Born Scientists. What If School Encouraged That?
Scientists Use Seaweeds to Travel Back in Time
Women have disrupted research on bird song, and their findings show how diversity can improve all fields of science


American Christianity’s White-Supremacy Problem
Where the Supreme Court crisis goes next: Pressure points and possibilities
If Trump Replaces RBG, Congress Must Expand The Court
Getting from November to January
My New York City Kids Are Getting an Education in Failed Leadership
The Supreme Court and Normcore
Can Mitch McConnell Be Stopped? If Republicans give Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat to some Federalist Society fanatic, Democrats should pack the court.
The Police Are Lying in LA and the Media Is Falling for It—Again
How Climate Migration Will Reshape America
Do Viral Videos Really Tell You Anything About Today’s Teens?
Nearly two-thirds of US young adults unaware 6m Jews killed in the Holocaust
The United States is backsliding into autocracy under Trump, scholars warn
As controversies swirl, CDC director is seen as allowing agency to buckle to political influence
‘Keep back!’: How the Biden campaign obsesses over Covid. The former vice president’s team goes to extraordinary lengths to keep him safe.
Pro-Trump youth group enlists teens in secretive campaign likened to a ‘troll farm,’ prompting rebuke by Facebook and Twitter
Almost a Quarter of Young Americans Think the Holocaust Is a Myth or Exaggerated
How #SaveTheChildren is pulling American moms into QAnon
A ‘Forgotten Holocaust’ Is Missing From Indian Food Stories
What Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Death Could Mean For The Obamacare Hearing Nov. 10
The Top Contender for RBG’s Seat Has a Fundamentally Cruel Vision of the Law
How One District Got Its Students Back Into Classrooms

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The Courts Really Do Matter: Lochner. And Ginsburg.

Note: I wrote this a few days ago, and planned to publish it later this week, since it wasn’t ‘time-dependent’ or an immediate response to current events. With the death of Justice Ginsburg, events surpassed my blogging schedule…

Recently, some asshole with a blog noted:

…parts of the left, construed somewhat broadly, have downplayed what Biden would mean for the courts and the rule of law in the U.S.–and if those go, then we have no hope of ever truly enacting good policies…

It’s not just the Supreme Court either: on the federal circuit courts, we’ve reached the point where Bush 43 appointees look, in relative terms, like moderates*. You also can add environmental regulation, worker protection, and so many other issues. Biden’s nominees might not be great, especially on economic issues. They probably won’t decide great case law, but they probably wouldn’t stand in the way of Democratic legislation either…

Without it [judicial reform], nothing even has a chance to change. To do that, we need Democrats in the Senate and the White House. Their judges might not be good, but Trump’s judges–and his complete disrespect for the rule of law–will be far worse for the left.

Case in point (pun intended; boldface mine):

A federal judge this week struck down as unconstitutional statewide shutdown policies ordered by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) to curb the coronavirus. On its own, that is significant — a judge second-guessing a governor during a public-health emergency — but equally notable is how the court arrived at its conclusion. U.S. District Judge William S. Stickman IV put forth an array of objections to the orders, including they violated residents’ First Amendment rights of association and were not tailored to take account of differences in viral spread in different parts of the state. He also argued the governor was not owed any special deference from the court because he was dealing with an emergency.

But what was most striking — what reveals the radical nature of the opinion — is that Stickman leaned on a discredited 1905 Supreme Court decision, Lochner v. New York, in arguing Pennsylvanians had the due process right to choose how to earn a living, even during a pandemic. Until this week’s case, Lochner had been consigned to the dustbin of history. Lochner specifically held that states could not impose maximum hour restrictions on bakers, because that would infringe the bakers’ freedom to work long hours if they chose. But more broadly, Lochner read a theory of “economic liberty” into the Constitution, thereby blocking all sorts of government regulation of working conditions and wages until the mid- to late 1930s, when judges effectively wrote off the decision and departed from its reasoning.

Today, of course, states and the federal government regulate working conditions and wages extensively — although libertarians occasionally express the desire to revive the Lochner perspective. That a district court judge would cite the decision shows how consequential President Trump’s stacking of the courts has been. The committed ideologues he has appointed — Stickman joined the district court in 2019 — stand in the way of effective public-health policy and will promote the Republican Party’s political agenda for decades to come. This case shows they will do so even if they have to turn back the constitutional clock.

Parts of the left, including its farther reaches, don’t take into account the importance of the courts or the bureaucracy in terms of governance (we’ll return to bureaucracy in another post). But the judiciary really does matter. In the U.S. system, it has become, for better or for worse, a bizarrely chosen part-veto making, part-legislative body (usually more vetoing than legislating). If the left doesn’t remake the judiciary–and that must be a long term goal–there’s no way a Green New Deal or Medicare for All survive the federal courts–courts in which Bush 43 appointees are now seen as moderates.

We are trying to get out of a hole that was fifty years in the making, and there’s no magic piece (or pieces) of legislation that will make things better. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pass good laws–we should. But the left needs to stop acting like insurgents that storm the capital, and, instead, start installing its people in the capital. Not all of those installed have to be ‘radical’ either. It’s enough for some of them to be willing to not get in the way. But power really does matter, and we have to stop being so childish about it, and start studying it and taking it seriously.

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Links 9/21/20

Links for you. Science:

Vaccine distribution isn’t as easy as Trump wants people to think
Coffee Rust Is Going to Ruin Your Morning: Coffee plants were supposed to be safe on this side of the Atlantic. But the fungus found them.
The Scripps Research Institute to Pay $10 Million to Settle False Claims Act Allegations Related to Mischarging NIH-Sponsored Research Grants (parking ticket)
The Worst Animal in the World. Every year, as many as 400 million people are infected with life-threatening diseases by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. It wasn’t always so dangerous.
Longtime Climate Science Denier Hired At NOAA


Landlords Don’t Want the D.C. Council to Extend Its Blanket Eviction Moratorium: Landlords are fighting a legal battle against D.C.’s ban on eviction filings. A judge will eventually decide whether the moratorium violates their constitutional rights.
A caustic environment at Metro’s ROCC pushes out trainees and experienced employees alike
“It Was All About the Election”: The Ex-White House Aide Olivia Troye on Trump’s Narcissistic Mishandling of COVID-19. The first staffer on the coronavirus task force to go public tells The New Yorker that America’s pandemic response was “derailed by the person at the very top.”
DIY air filters can be safe, simple and inexpensive. Here’s how to make one
The Election’s Biggest Threat Is No Longer the Postal Service. Reports of a vote-by-mail apocalypse are greatly exaggerated.
How Trump Screwed His Own Campaign With One Executive Order
America’s Eviction Epidemic
The Dangerous Fact About QAnon Believers That Reporters Fail to Grasp (“Conspiracy theories are a convenience, a means of rationalizing what they already want to do, which is precisely what elite reporters can’t know and do not report.”)
Buy the cheap orange foundation Trump uses
How Brahmins lead the fight against white privilege
The 5G lie: The network of the future is still slow. We speed tested 5G phones against 4G ones. America’s new nationwide 5G networks weren’t much faster — and in some places they were slower.
Fight climate change so we don’t all choke to death
I’m numb to crazy stuff Trump says, but utterly terrified of crazy stuff Americans believe
The Intercept Promised to Reveal Everything. Then Its Own Scandal Hit. Internal documents show how a source ended up in jail — and the fallout in the newsroom.
Trump’s Shredding of Civil Liberties Won’t Stop With Antifa
To Save Democracy, Democrats Must Hold Trump Officials Accountable
Lock Him Up? For the Republic to survive Trump’s presidency, he must be tried for his crimes. Even if that sparks a constitutional crisis of its own. (he’s right, but we should have done this for the Iraq War too)
His Prized Bass Vanished 27 Years Ago. DC Musicians Raised Money to Buy It Back. The amazing tale of how Dajando Smith’s one-of-a-kind Hamer bass found its way home.
Joe Biden Climate Change Speech Transcript in Wilmington, Delaware September 14
Why Everything Is Sold Out. The pandemic broke online shopping.
Joe Biden is Running an Invisible Digital Campaign in All-Important Michigan. That’s Making Some Democrats Nervous

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Links 9/20/20

Links for you. Science:

A New System for Cooling Down Computers Could Revolutionize the Pace of Innovation
Population Density Does Not Doom Cities to Pandemic Dangers
What’s Wrong with Social Science and How to Fix It: Reflections After Reading 2578 Papers
Biologists warn ‘extinction denial’ is the latest anti-science conspiracy theory (nothing in movement conservatism makes sense except in the light of creationism)
Your Phone Wasn’t Built for the Apocalypse: Why the orange sky looks gray


“That’s Their Problem”: How Jared Kushner Let the Markets Decide America’s COVID-19 Fate. First-person accounts of a tense meeting at the White House in late March suggest that President Trump’s son-in-law resisted taking federal action to alleviate shortages and help Democratic-led New York. Instead, he enlisted a former roommate to lead a Consultant State to take on the Deep State, with results ranging from the Eastman Kodak fiasco to a mysterious deal to send ventilators to Russia.
Democrats try to streamline mail balloting for their voters
How the west lost. After the long stand-off against communism, victory seemed as total as it was sudden. But the west has since fractured and is now losing prestige and influence—does the reversal expose a moral defeat?
For now, Metro has ramped up service. What measures can help keep riders and workers safe?
WAMU Leadership Tried To Oust Reporter Accused Of Sexual Harassment. American University Stopped Them (left wing universities something something…)
‘How do you convince someone to change?’ asks a group of senior D.C. residents who’ve spent months charting the mask-wearing habits of a neighborhood
Workers Call For Major Changes At D.C.’s Overwhelmed Unemployment Office
Hilton Brothers to Close Seven Bars ‘for Foreseeable Future’ on Halloween (lots of jobs in D.C.)
Many Employers In The D.C. Region Expect Expanded Telework After Pandemic
How NAFTA Lost Democrats the South
In America’s Blood
Trump’s businesses charged Secret Service more than $1.1 million, including for rooms in club shuttered for pandemic
Another Woman Has Accused Trump of Sexual Misconduct. We’re Supposed to Believe They’re All Lying?
Trump is losing control of his own propaganda
America needs a democratic revolution
What Is It With Trump and Face Masks?
Am I wasting my time organizing email? A study of email refinding
Can’t Believe I’m Losing To This Guy
This electrical transmission tower has a little problem. can you spot it? actually, it’s not a small problem–it cost us 16.65 billion dollars and caused the deaths of 85 people.
C.D.C. Testing Guidance Was Published Against Scientists’ Objections: A controversial guideline saying people without Covid-19 symptoms didn’t need to get tested for the virus came from H.H.S. officials and skipped the C.D.C.’s scientific review process.
A perfectly timed photo of a Raven stealing the sun in a smokey Pacific Northwest.

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Observed on Kalorama Road NW, between 17th and Ontario, Adams Morgan, D.C.:


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Links 9/19/20

Links for you. Science:

Parental influences on offspring education: indirect genetic effects of non-cognitive skills (good thread here)
New Climate Maps Show a Transformed United States
The southern hemisphere skipped flu season in 2020. Efforts to stop covid-19 have had at least one welcome side-effect
This marine biologist wants to use the world’s toughest corals to save dying reefs
The labs where monsters live: As countries around the world invest in Biosafety Level 4 laboratories to study lethal viruses and prepare against unknown pathogens, some scientists are sounding the alarm about the potential for a catastrophic accident or attack.


America’s Top Science Journal Has Had It With Trump: The editor of Science has abandoned staid academic-speak to take on falsehoods in the White House—decorum be damned. (must-read)
This Is How It Happens: A study of men in Hitler’s Germany shows how people allow tyranny to spread
How Progressives Built a Campaign Machine … Thanks to the DCCC: A fateful decision from the House Democratic leadership inadvertently created a progressive political force.
Honoring The Dishonorable, Part 2: The Dishonorable Living
The Coup in Chile: How the reasonable men of capitalism orchestrated horror in Chile 46 years ago today. (from 1973, seems germane)
Trump’s Excuse for His Coronavirus Lies Is Even More Incriminating. The “panic” defense is part of his collusion with China.
Stanley Crouch, Towering Jazz Critic, Dead At 74
Golf Courses Emerge as a Fix for L.A.’s Affordable Housing Crisis
“I’ll Never Question 1938 in Germany Again”: An Ex-Republican Strategist Surveys the Wreckage of Trump’s GOP
Former Pence aide who helped organize White House coronavirus response backs Biden (sinking ship is fleeing the rats)
New QAnon-Allied GOP Senate Candidate Also Pushed Anti-Semitism, Flat Earthism, and 9/11 Conspiracies
Biden’s radical climate change plan could overturn the world’s efforts
Ron (Shreds of Freedom) Johnson Is a Few Bratwurst Short of a Tailgate
Kayleigh McEnany Shows the Trump White House Does Not Feel Accountable to the Public at All
It (Mostly) Isn’t The Lies It’s The Lying
A scrapped plan to ship masks to Americans. A standoff with Amazon amid pressure from Trump. New documents detail USPS’s spring in crisis.
The Top 1% of Americans Have Taken $50 Trillion From the Bottom 90%—And That’s Made the U.S. Less Secure
Steve Bannon Is Behind Bogus Study That China Created COVID

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In Case You Missed It…

…a week of Mad Biologist posts:


The State of COVID-19 in D.C.: Unchanged and Still Too Prevalent

Proposed Platform: Fix All the Broken Sh*t

D.C. Knows Its COVID-19 Situation

The COVID Conundrum Facing Local and State Governments

Movement Conservatism as a Mass Communicable Psychotic Break

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Links 9/18/20

Links for you. Science:

Dozens of scientific journals have vanished from the internet, and no one preserved them
‘A Fearless Virus Hunter’ Tackles a Coronavirus Mystery in Children
Coronavirus expert Dr. Peter Hotez reveals when we can expect a vaccine
‘I’ve never seen or heard of attacks’: scientists baffled by orcas harassing boats
GWU’s covid-19 clinical trial has met one early goal — getting Black and Latino people to join


How the Trump-Russia story was buried (excellent, must-read; great context about how people reacted to the story)
The Gray Wall: Old people elected Trump. Will they make him a one-term president?
How COVID-19 Has Affected One Mexican Pueblo
The Great British Humbling: Like the bind of a tortuous finger trap, Britain’s Brexit conundrum grows tighter and more painful the more the country wrestles with it.
Everything You wanted to know about Florida, but were afraid to ask – The 2020 Version
Biden learned from the Great Recession, will roll out a multi-trillion stimulus to save the nation (don’t know; Ted Kaufman is one of Biden’s advisors and he’s fucking awful)
‘Like an Experimental Concentration Camp’: Whistleblower Complaint Alleges Mass Hysterectomies at ICE Detention Center
‘It’s Time to Ask What Your Country Can Do For You. Because It’s 1933, Not 1960.’
Trump Went Full Strongman on Sunday
How Did the ‘Best-Prepared Country’ Become a Horror Story?
Old Postal Service audit surfaces, shows DeJoy’s company may have gouged taxpayers for $53 million
Why U.S. kids can’t go back to school and German kids can
The Reason Our Kids Can’t Safely Return To School? Our POTUS Is A Dense Cabbage
D.C. Has Seen A Major Drop In Routine Childhood Vaccinations This Year
D.C. legalized marijuana, but one thing didn’t change: Almost everyone arrested on pot charges is Black
New dashboard identifies safest times to ride Metro
Scientific American Endorses Joe Biden: We’ve never backed a presidential candidate in our 175-year history—until now
The People v. Donald J. Trump: The criminal case against him is already in the works — and it could go to trial sooner than you think.
I never considered voting for Trump in 2016. I may be scared into voting for him this year because of my exaggerated fears.
Sydney’s New Suburbs Are Too Hot for People to Live In: Climate change is making things worse as Australia’s biggest city expands.

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Movement Conservatism as a Mass Communicable Psychotic Break

If you haven’t heard by now, Michael Caputo the assistant secretary of health for public affairs at HHS and self-proclaimed editor of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, has some very interesting ideas he would like us to know (boldface mine):

The top communications official at the powerful cabinet department in charge of combating the coronavirus made outlandish and false accusations on Sunday that career government scientists were engaging in “sedition” in their handling of the pandemic and that left-wing hit squads were preparing for armed insurrection after the election.

Michael R. Caputo, the assistant secretary of public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, accused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of harboring a “resistance unit” determined to undermine President Trump, even if that opposition bolsters the Covid-19 death toll.

Mr. Caputo, who has faced intense criticism for leading efforts to warp C.D.C. weekly bulletins to fit Mr. Trump’s pandemic narrative, suggested that he personally could be in danger from opponents of the administration. “If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s going to be hard to get,” he urged his followers.

He went further, saying his physical health was in question, and his “mental health has definitely failed.”

“I don’t like being alone in Washington,” Mr. Caputo said, describing “shadows on the ceiling in my apartment, there alone, shadows are so long.” He also said the mounting number of Covid-19 deaths was taking a toll on him, telling his viewers, “You are not waking up every morning and talking about dead Americans.” The United States has lost more than 194,200 people to the virus. Mr. Caputo urged people to attend Trump rallies, but only with masks…

C.D.C. scientists “haven’t gotten out of their sweatpants except for meetings at coffee shops” to plot “how they’re going to attack Donald Trump next,” Mr. Caputo said. “There are scientists who work for this government who do not want America to get well, not until after Joe Biden is president.”

Caputo has decided to take some medical leave. Caputo isn’t some level functionary either. He’s extremely well-connected to other Trump faves.

Greg Sargent asks the obvious question (boldface mine):

Everyone is understandably aghast at all this. But how far afield is it from what we hear regularly from that guy who happens to be the president of the United States?

In an important respect, Caputo’s rantings are just a more lurid version of what President Trump himself says constantly — that the political opposition to Trump is at its core fundamentally illegitimate and, indeed, that there is no legitimate way for Trump to be removed from power…

If we’re going to talk about how crazy it is that Caputo suggested that Trump supporters should gird for an armed plot to depose Trump, maybe we should also talk about how crazy all of that is as well. Is it really that big a leap from one to the other?

It’s not far afield from what Trump or other Republicans and conservatives routinely say. Movement conservatism is not what a handful of well-groomed ‘reformicons’ at Washington think tanks believe. It’s what is believed by the rank-and-file, and they’ve just lost it, between conspiracy theories and the antifa supersoldiers. Yes, there are some Democrats who’ve gone way too far down the Russian rabbithole, but not like this.

As people note when someone is drunk and does something horrible, the booze just revealed who you really are.

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Links 9/17/20

Links for you. Science:

In rare bipartisan climate agreement, senators forge plan to slash use of potent greenhouse gas
Meet Some of the Zoo’s Other Quarantine Babies. Baby pandas are great, but have you ever seen a brown kiwi?
Green Algorithms: How green are your computations?
Operation Warp Speed promised to do the impossible. How far has it come?
Why COVID-19 is more deadly in people with obesity—even if they’re young


Scarcity of key material squeezes medical mask manufacturing
How the Trump Campaign’s Mobile App Is Collecting Huge Amounts of Voter Data
I can’t believe you’re forcing me to vote for Trump, which I definitely didn’t already want to do (my shorter take here)
Call police for a woman who is changing clothes in an alley? A new program in Denver sends mental health professionals instead. The program leads to better outcomes and saves police officers’ time
Stop Expecting Life to Go Back to Normal Next Year
Congressional Leader Lays Down Marker in Revolving-Door Battle
Why in the World Are Texas Universities Playing Football in Front of Fans?
Higher education in the UK is morally bankrupt. I’m taking my family and my research millions, and I’m off
The New Reconstruction: The United States has its best opportunity in 150 years to belatedly fulfill its promise as a multiracial democracy.
What’s the worst that could happen? The election will likely spark violence — and a constitutional crisis
Heat, Fear and Stubborn Doormen: What Census Workers Face in the Final Month of NYC Count
The Death of Industrial Seattle
Sputtering summer sales, dwindling federal aid cripple D.C.’s small businesses
Always On Their Bullshit
Square circles
Trump Joins Fox News to Assure the Nation This Is About Exploding Trees, Not Climate Change
The egregious gaslighting around Trump’s handling of the pandemic
Trump’s Rage Is Worse Than You’ve Heard
Armed vigilantes set up rural checkpoints in Oregon as ‘antifa fires’ hoax inflames social media
Nursing homes with unionized healthcare workers saw a 30% lower COVID-19 fatality rate
A pandemic, a motel without power and a potentially terrifying glimpse of Orlando’s future

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