Tag Archive | covid-19

Mostly Trump and COVID, but if you skip to the end there’s a cute dog story

“Four years ago as a candidate, President Trump made more than 280 campaign promises. Let’s see how he did.” A nice succinct roundup. (Takeaway: he succeeded at “appointing conservative judges,” and with all the others he either did nothing, or did the exact opposite.)

June 3: “The Postal Service’s struggles began in the early 2000s. In 2005, Congress imposed an unprecedented austerity measure on the agency which required USPS to pre-fund retirement benefits 75 years in the future, including for employees who have not even been born yet. No other government agency or corporation operates in such a manner, and the move left the USPS woefully strapped for funding.

June 29: “Trump was so consistently unprepared for discussion of serious issues, so often outplayed in his conversations with powerful leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan, and so abusive to leaders of America’s principal allies, that the calls helped convince some senior US officials […] that the President himself posed a danger to the national security of the United States.” I mean…this isn’t news. But none of you could’ve brought this up at the [first] impeachment? Really?

Reinforced by this interview with Trump’s first SecState, Rex Tillerson, January 11: “I used to go into meetings with a list of four to five things I needed to talk to him about, and I quickly learned that if I got to three, it was a home run, and I realized getting two that were meaningful was probably the best objective. So I began to adjust what I went into a meeting with and what I attempted to explain and describe, and then I started taking charts and pictures with me because I found that those seemed to hold his attention better. If I could put a photo or a picture in front of him or a map or a piece of paper that had two big bullet points on it, he would focus on that, and I could build on that. Just sitting and trying to have a conversation as you and I are having just doesn’t work.”

September 30: “And that’s why, despite all the religious flourishes that Trump himself views as weird — the prayer, the God-talk, the laying-on of hands — Trump likes having them around. People like Paula White and Jerry Falwell Jr. and Robert Jeffress and Eric Metaxas reassure Trump that he’s right about the world — that everything is transactional, and competitive, and profit-seeking, and that anything else is merely a sucker’s dream.”

November 17: “Neely Petrie-Blanchard, a Kentucky resident, had long ago lost custody of her daughters […] she turned to Chris Hallett, an amateur legal expert who offered bogus court services through a company called “E-Clause,” and who promised Petrie-Blanchard she could win her daughters back through ludicrous courtroom tactics he borrowed from the anti-government sovereign citizen’s movement. […] On Sunday night, Hallett was found face down in the kitchen of his central Florida home, bleeding from multiple gunshot wounds to his back.” A bit of QAnon intramural violence.

December 8: “After the boasting and gloating from Trump about the successes of Operation Warp Speed, his administration’s project to fastrack a Covid-19 vaccine, the failure to option enough of the vaccine, even after promising early results, is perplexing. It will also leave the U.S. short: 100 million doses, while significant, is only enough to immunize 50 million people, and with only one other vaccine at the regulatory stage of development in the U.S., developed by Moderna, supply will almost certainly outstrip demand as vaccination programs get underway.”

Some of the inevitable fallout, January 15: “States were anticipating a windfall after federal officials said they would stop holding back second doses. But the approach had already changed, and no stockpile exists.”

December 10: “”There are things we can do to prevent what we are seeing, and so many people believe this is a hoax and this is politically motivated,” [the intensive care doctor with the Cleveland Clinic] said. “The truth is, I don’t get to look away. Every day when I go to work, I know that I am going to have to put multiple patients on ventilators, and when I put those patients on ventilators, I am at risk every single time. I could also die from this.”

December 27: “Getty Images is a major photo agency that has worked hard to get its photographers into hospitals, with only rare success. “For every thousand calls or emails, you maybe get three yeses,” said Sandy Ciric, the agency’s director of photography. “Sometimes we even had the CEO say, ‘This is great, yes, we want coverage,’ and then someone tells them no and they change their mind.”” Why we’ve seen so few photos documenting the COVID crisis in hospitals.

Okay, one nice thing, they had a ceremony for Biden’s dog: “People logged on from across the country to watch the “Indoguration,” which raised over $100,000 for the DHA, a nonprofit no-kill animal care and adoption center. Participants had the chance to nominate their own animals for a position in Major’s cabinet. Organizers collected over 700 nominations for the title of Secretary of Rescue Dogs.”

It’s probably going to keep turning out that this attack was worse than we knew

NYT provides some fascinating perspective on who’s tried to do this before, and for almost exactly the same reasons: “In the confusion that followed Wednesday’s desecration of the Capitol, it was widely reported that the last time the building was stormed was in 1814. That overlooked a desperate day in 1861, nearly as lethal to democracy. On Feb. 13, a mob gathered outside the Capitol and tried to force its way in to disrupt the counting of the electoral certificates that would confirm Abraham Lincoln’s election three months earlier.”

There was at least one bit of sabotage done before the riots, which probably means there’s more to be found: “As people rushed out of other buildings on the Capitol grounds, staffers in [Ayanna] Pressley’s office barricaded the entrance with furniture and water jugs that had piled up during the pandemic. [Her chief of staff] Groh pulled out gas masks and looked for the special panic buttons in the office. ‘Every panic button in my office had been torn out — the whole unit.’

Pramila Jayapal (D-WA): “The Capitol police with us seemed very confused about who had the key to the doors. They were closed, but we weren’t sure if they were locked, and we were yelling, “Lock the doors! Lock the doors!” We heard shots being fired, presumably into the chamber.”

Jason Crow (D-CO, veteran): “I called my wife. I told her I loved her and told the kids I loved them and told my wife I might have to fight my way out. […] I did a double-check of all the doors, made sure they were locked. Escorted the more senior members away from the doors, moving them into a defensive position. Asked folks to take off their member pins so that if the mobs break down the doors, the members would be harder to identify. I took a pen out of my pocket to possibly use as a weapon.”

Nancy Pelosi talks about her young staffers, who knew what to do from their school active-shooter drills: “The staff went under the table, barricaded the door, turned out the lights, and were silent in the dark.” “Under the table this whole–” “–under the table for two and a half hours.”

“Moments later, there was yelling in the gallery, as staff and security details started to move around with a heightened sense of alarm. Inside the chamber, news photographers that Pelosi (D-Calif.) had allowed in to capture the historic electoral vote at the dais instead turned around and trained their cameras toward the doors in the back of the chamber.”

Same article: “Capitol police had said previously they didn’t need help, but Bowdich decided he couldn’t wait for a formal invitation. […] These teams typically gather at a staging area off-site to coordinate and plan, and then rush together to the area where they are needed. Bowdich told their commander there was no time.”

Less-reported-on, ordinary people throughout the city also had to hide from rioters wreaking havoc: “[In DC], a city long shaped by hardworking Black Americans and immigrants, the terror unfolded at home, forcing residents to lock themselves behind closed doors or commute from work through downtown streets filled with throngs of white supremacists and law enforcement officials who have often been openly hostile toward their communities. “

Meanwhile: “As this was unfolding on television, Donald Trump was walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team weren’t as excited as he was as you had rioters pushing against Capitol Police trying to get into the building.”

BuzzFeed News spoke to two Black officers who described a harrowing day in which they were forced to endure racist abuse — including repeatedly being called the n-word — as they tried to do their job of protecting the Capitol building, and by extension the very functioning of American democracy. The officers said they were wrong-footed, fighting off an invading force that their managers had downplayed and not prepared them for. “

The officer initially scopes out the door, sees it’s not guarded, and tries to block the way. More rioters pour up the stairs after them, and the officer seems to go with a new strategy – he shoves the first rioter, pissing him off, and then leads the whole mob the other way.” One specific black officer uses himself as bait for racists. Get this man a medal, please.

Not to forget the other cops whose behavior that day deserves to be recognized:”Two Capitol Police officers have been suspended and one has been arrested following the riots at the U.S. Capitol.”

And: “As investigators seek to identify rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol, police departments in Virginia and Washington state have placed officers on leave as authorities examine whether they took part in unlawful acts while off-duty.”

hi mom remember the time you told me I shouldn’t go to BLM protests bc they could get violent…this you?”

Some fallout:

At least one known-COVID-positive rioter identified among the chaotic and unmasked crowd. Inside, several Republicans sheltering-in-place refused to put masks on; presumably they aren’t getting tested afterward, or won’t reveal the results if they are. Meanwhile, Democrats who were forced to share the room with them are starting to report positive tests.

“Because Parler cannot comply with our terms of service and poses a very real risk to public safety, we plan to suspend Parler’s account effective Sunday, January 10th, at 11:59PM PST.” Contains a few choice screenshots of Parler-hosted content, for anyone who’s unclear about what Amazon considers a ToS violation.

“One member [of Congress, being briefed on plans for future riots] was explicit that these groups were trying to get journalists to report on their demonstrations. ‘Some of their main communications to organize these have been cut off, so they’re purposely trying to get the media to report on this as a way to further disseminate information and to attract additional support for their attacks.'”

Sadly, the graphic about Olive Garden canceling Lifetime Pasta Passes for various rioters and their supporters turns out to be a joke.

As is this resignation letter from the Death Star: “Destroying planets and using fear of this battle station to keep the local systems in line was my No. 1 passion until — about 30 seconds ago, weirdly! That was when I saw the X-wings that had evaded our turbo-lasers and were proceeding down a trench toward our vulnerable thermal exhaust port — and realized I had to speak up. I thought: What if remorselessly destroying planets isn’t my passion? What if my real passion is staying alive and avoiding the consequences of my actions?

Yuletide mostly-cheer

It started snowing on the night before Christmas, and kept going on-and-off ever since, so everything outside the window is carpeted with perfect winter scenery. Seeing as I don’t have anywhere to go, this has been great.

I got an absolutely heartwarming Yuletide fic, a new take on “Ozma decides to spend some time in Tip form”, featuring some quality Worried Dorothy and Protective Aunt Em:

Homecoming (6127 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Oz – L. Frank Baum
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Dorothy Gale/Princess Ozma
Characters: Princess Ozma, Dorothy Gale, Aunt Em
Additional Tags: Comfort, Genderqueer Character, genderqueer character misread as male, mentions of past emotional / physical abuse, aunt em has a bunch of unexamined gender and class biases
Summary:

A nice young person with experience on a farm comes to help Aunt Em with the chores for a celebration.
Meanwhile, Ozma isn’t in the Palace, and Dorothy goes looking for them.

More rec posts to come. I’ve been churning my way through all the promising-looking fandoms, trying to read everything in-the-moment instead of letting it disappear into marked For Later.

…with the exception of a bunch of Locked Tomb fics, because I’m still only 80% through Harrow the Ninth (the second novel), and any time I’ve looked at post-Harrow writing for more than 5 seconds I’ve been spoiled for something. (Fortunately, there are So Many wild and unpredictable twists that it’s turned out I was still unspoiled for most of them.)


On less fandom-y notes:

Half my family is being scrupulous and careful about COVID restrictions, and the other half is…not. I don’t know what to say. They’ve already had two scares (notable COVID-like symptoms that ended up testing negative), you’d think that would make them more cautious, not less. The hospitals are full of people who thought “oh, nothing bad will happen to me.” And by “full” I mean record-breaking cases, record-breaking deaths, “lining up beds in the hallways because all the rooms are occupied” full.

This Week In Virology had a good discussion of the new COVID variant that’s developed in the UK, including a breakdown of why it’s not likely to be more vaccine-resistant than any other variant. There is a serious chance it’s more transmissible, but even if that’s true, it’s not so transmissible that it can overcome all the usual measures — keeping distances, wearing masks, washing hands.

So we just have to stay serious about doing those.

Some serious COVID links, then some palate-cleansing science

“The federal government’s Operation Warp Speed has been gearing up and holding news conferences headlined by generals promising a military-style rollout. But jokes about military precision aside, experts are already expecting a lot of confusion, a fair amount of fear and more than a little outrage.” Some helpful perspective on how much screwing-up will be Situation Normal, and not a reason to panic that we’re doing it all wrong.

“A vaccine may be around the corner, but how long will it be until you get the shot? […] we worked with the Surgo Foundation and Ariadne Labs using their vaccine tool to calculate the number of people who will need a vaccine in each state and county — and where you might fit in that line.” (I’m firmly in the “other” category, behind an estimated 268.7 million more-urgent cases. There’s an article after the results, so don’t stop scrolling.)

“As the coronavirus has spiked across the country, leaving a record 100,226 Americans hospitalized on Wednesday, travel nurses, who work on temporary contracts for higher fees and move from city to city, have become more urgently needed than ever.”

“loss of smell is a possible effect of covid. if things don’t smell/taste as strong as you remember GET TESTED and ISOLATE. if someone you know is complaining about their candles not having a scent, inform them and encourage them to get tested.


Okay, have some Cool Science Links, completely unrelated to any of this. (I think I saved them all before the pandemic started.)

“After every heavy rain shower, Trovants absorb the rain’s minerals. The minerals are combined with the chemicals already present in the stone that later creates a reaction and pressure inside. The pressure spontaneously makes the rock grow from the center to its margins and multiply, with a deposition rate of about 4-5 cm in 1000 years.”

At first glance the reassembled gray blocks look like a nine-foot-long sculpture of a dinosaur. A bony mosaic of armor coats its neck and back, and gray circles outline individual scales. Its neck gracefully curves to the left, as if reaching toward some tasty plant. But this is no lifelike sculpture. It’s an actual dinosaur, petrified from the snout to the hips.”

An interactive map of the evolutionary relationships between 2,235,362 species of life on our planet. Each leaf on the tree represents a species and the branches show how they are connected through evolution. Discover your favourites, see which species are under threat, and wonder at 105,277 images on a single page.”

“To produce the unpredictable, chaotic data necessary for strong encryption, a computer must have a source of random data. […] To collect this data, Cloudflare has arranged about 100 lava lamps on one of the walls in the lobby of the Cloudflare headquarters and mounted a camera pointing at the lamps.

Dispatches from our mid-pandemic stupid coup

More than 130 Secret Service officers who help protect the White House and the president when he travels have recently been ordered to isolate or quarantine because they tested positive for the coronavirus or had close contact with infected co-workers, according to three people familiar with agency staffing.”

“A lot of times before they’re intubated — which means put on a ventilator because they can’t breathe on their own — when they’re still struggling to breathe, and they’re saying, ‘Well, I didn’t know COVID was real, and I wish I’d worn a mask.’ And then it’s already too late,” she tells NPR’s All Things Considered. “You can see the regret, as they’re struggling to breathe and it’s finally hitting them that this is real.”

“…about five people have attempted to get inside [Utah Valley Hospital] because they question whether the ICU is as full as some say. […] So far, it seems no one has been successful getting in. However, Hansen said what the conspiracy theorists did has forced the hospital to take extra precautions when it comes to visitors and people being admitted.”

“Roughly 80 percent of Texas county jail inmates who have died after contracting COVID-19 were in pre-trial detention and had not been convicted of any crimes.”

…his administration has refused to launch the formal transition, depriving President-elect Joe Biden’s team of access to national security information. […]The staffers recognize that Biden will be the next president, but they are ‘not allowed to act like that will happen,’ said the former official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because his current job did not permit him to speak publicly. Meantime, national security actions and requests for briefings from the president are drying up.” (So, basically…US national security briefings are going to nobody right now.)

“Since 2000, I have participated in three presidential transitions from the vantage points of both the departing and the incoming administration. […] In the week since Joe Biden’s victory became clear, President Trump and his administration have taken no steps toward starting the process of transition. The risks to our national security are mounting.” Susan Rice gives a summary of the broader problem going on here.

Senate Republicans are racing ahead with post-election judicial confirmations, breaking a 123-year tradition against voting on judicial nominees of an outgoing president of the defeated party during a lame duck session.” This is my shocked face.

One bit of good news: “Postal workers doing final sweeps of their systems have found just a few ballots — in most cases, they number in the double digits — that were lost or left behind. […] What made the difference, experts say, was enormous public pressure, multiple lawsuits, scrutiny from the courts, urgent efforts to urge voters to mail their ballots as early as possible, and extraordinary measures taken by the agency itself and its legions of dedicated postal workers.”

Back to the bad, a warning to us from Sri Lanka: “The coup was a farce at the time but how soon it turned to tragedy. They called it a constitutional crisis, but how soon it became a real one. Right now, the same thing is happening to you. I’m trying to warn you America. It seems stupid now, but the consequences are not.”