Tag Archive | Politics

“People will reject science right until the second they need everything I have to keep them alive”

August 11: ““What makes me the maddest,” one of my doctor friends told me, “is that these people will reject science right until the second they need everything I have to keep them alive, and then they feel that they can come to our door and be entitled to that help and that hard work.”

September: “The generators held, but like Terrebonne General, the hospital lost water and air conditioning. As the storm raged, a bleeding man arrived to drop off his fiancée, who had been sucked out of their wrecked home a few blocks away. The emergency room staff got to work mending her wounds as water poured from the ceiling.” COVID-choked hospitals weathering a hurricane.

September 8: “Getting the first dose of COVID-19 [vaccine] resulted in significant improvements in mental health, beyond improvements already achieved since mental distress peaked in the spring of 2020.” One piece of good news! Not only do the vaccines fight off COVID, getting them right now will literally help with depression.

September 13: “My wife and I don’t get to see much of each other. […] Right now shifts start at 8 a.m. and we are currently working 19 to 20 hours the first day of our two-day shifts. Then we’re back up after sleeping a few hours, and we don’t sleep that second night of work. Then I go home and either work other places in my town ― […] or, if I am lucky, I will sleep 30 hours straight.” This isn’t an account from a doctor or nurse. He’s an embalmer.

September 15: “The U.S. has recorded more than 41.4 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 665,800 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.” That’s 1 in 500 of the entire US population. (And 2 in 125 of people who have gotten it.)

September 17: “On Thursday, shortly after Idaho enacted crisis standards of care statewide, Dr. Steven Nemerson with Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise said that to his knowledge, no patient in the state had been removed from life support in order to provide the equipment to someone else. But he warned it would happen.”

September 18 (NYT): “Vaccine-resistant Americans are turning to [monoclonal antibodies] with a zeal that has, at times, mystified their doctors, chasing down lengthy infusions after rejecting vaccines that cost one-hundredth as much.” This treatment isn’t any older than the vaccines! It hasn’t had longer to develop. It hasn’t been tested more. The only difference is that it hasn’t been brigaded by antivaxxers…oh, and that it doesn’t last. Unlike the vaccine, which teaches your body to make its own antibodies.

September 21: “We’re in the worst state that we ever have been in the pandemic, this surge has been back-breaking for our health care facilities,” said Katherine Hoyer, a spokeswoman for Panhandle Health District that covers five northern counties in Idaho. “Our case investigators, they cannot keep up.”

October 3: “I did not appreciate the intensity of support for a vaccine mandate that existed, because you hear that loud anti-vax voice a lot more than you hear the people that want it,” Kirby said. “But there are more of them. And they’re just as intense.”

October 13: “We’ve demonstrated conclusively that saving nearly everyone who dies of the flu is within our power. To do nothing now—to return to the roughly 30,000-deaths-a-year status quo without even trying to save some of those lives—would seem irresponsible. So what do we do? Which measures do we maintain and which do we let go?”

The Onion: “Astounded by the damning information, local anti-vaxxer Pete Dixon was reportedly horrified Thursday after discovering that every single American who got a smallpox vaccine in the 19th century was now deceased.

And: “We found that when presented with a counterfeit vaccination card, Covid-19 was unable to distinguish it from the real thing approximately 7 out of 10 times.”

Meanwhile, a bit of history: “When news of a successful [polio] vaccine came in 1955, The Christian Century lavished praise on Dr. Jonas Salk and other scientists. “We hope,” the editors wrote that April, “that services of thanksgiving to God are being held in millions of homes and thousands of churches for this answer to prayer, this successful completion of a decade of intensive concentration on medical research.”

I put all the nice links in the back half of the post (tech, grifting, COVID, economic boosts, and more)

Things to worry about:

June 12: “In 2016, Gun Violence Archive recorded that 241 people were shot and killed or wounded in a road rage incident; so far this year, as of June 7, that number is 212, the analysis found. ‘I don’t think we quite realized how dramatic the change was going to be.’

“Customers trying to avoid online delivery platforms like Grubhub by calling restaurants directly might be dialing phone numbers generated and advertised by those very platforms — for which restaurants are charged fees that can sometimes exceed the income the order generates.

Magie filed a legal claim for her Landlord’s Game in 1903, more than three decades before Parker Brothers began manufacturing Monopoly. She actually designed the game as a protest against the big monopolists of her time — people like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. […] And yet it was the monopolist version of the game that caught on, with Darrow claiming a version of it as his own and selling it to Parker Brothers. While Darrow made millions and struck an agreement that ensured he would receive royalties, Magie’s income for her creation was reported to be a mere $500. ”

“What do you mean ‘text’? There’s obviously some math text on the blackboard on the right, just like there’s obviously a woman covering almost half of the photograph. Is that woman invisible? Why?” When neural nets try to auto-detect what’s in an image…and what kinds of things they miss.

The Onion, in “this isn’t even a joke”: “Promising to let him know as soon as something becomes available, nurse Janae Howager informed a man having a heart attack Thursday that there was about an hour wait until the next Covid-19 patient died.”

Things to make you smile:

“Despite being lauded by some of the right-wing media’s leading figures, though, the Freedom Phone’s buyers could be getting less than they expect for its $500 price tag. That’s because the Freedom Phone appears to be merely a more expensive rebranding of a budget Chinese phone available elsewhere for a fraction of the Freedom Phone’s price.” But hey, influencers get referral codes, so when their followers buy the phones they get a $50 cut. It’s grifters all the way down.

February 25: “The lawyers working to reunite immigrant parents and children separated by the Trump administration reported Wednesday that they have found the parents of 105 children in the past month.” And that was just the Biden administration’s first month.

““We both started writing grants,” Dr. Weissman said. “We didn’t get most of them. People were not interested in mRNA. The people who reviewed the grants said mRNA will not be a good therapeutic, so don’t bother.’”” (There’s a happy ending! It’s the research that led to the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccines.)

“A New York City pilot program that dispatches mental health specialists and paramedics instead of police for certain nonviolent emergency calls has resulted in more people accepting assistance and fewer people sent to the hospital, early data shows.” Don’t send cops to do non-cop jobs! It works!

Cash transfers have arguably the strongest existing evidence base among anti-poverty tools, with dozens of high-quality evaluations of cash transfer programs spanning Africa, Asia, and Latin America and including both unconditional and conditional cash transfer. These studies include many randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and also include studies that measured impacts 4–5 years out,1,2 evidence which exists for hardly any other interventions.”

The Onion again: “Deeming the move unfortunate but necessary to keep his fledgling Silicon Valley dream alive, CEO Jason Ipser told reporters Tuesday that his struggling tech company was almost desperate enough to start making an actual product.

Respiration in the ’30s, virus images in the ’60s, ambulances in the ’70s, vaccines in the now

Virology and medical history links

The first images of a coronavirus were taken by June Almeida in the 1960’s. She was one of a group who submitted the findings to Science, which rejected the paper on the grounds of “that’s not a new discovery, that’s a flu virus and you took a bad picture.”

“In 1934, Wells and his wife, Mildred Weeks Wells, a physician, analyzed air samples and plotted a curve showing how the opposing forces of gravity and evaporation acted on respiratory particles. […] Randall paused at the curve they’d drawn. To her, it seemed to foreshadow the idea of a droplet-aerosol dichotomy, but one that should have pivoted around 100 microns, not 5.

Those men you see interviewed, they were the first EMTs, the first paramedics. Not just in Pittsburgh, but anywhere. The first “ambulance” driver may have been some poor Spanish conscript back in the 15th century, but the men who made up the first-ever ambulance squad with trained paramedics? Those guys are still around.” A 1970s (!!) success story about taking a job out of the hands of police, and putting it in the hands of professionals with actual relevant training.

“The [measles] outbreak began that September, when an infected passenger is thought to have flown to [Samoa] from New Zealand. Infection quickly spread among the island’s by then substantial population of unvaccinated children. According to Dr Katherine Gibney of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, one in every 150 babies aged between six and 11 months died.” This is the future that antivaxxers want.

Virology and medical present-day links

“Early reports showed high mortality from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), while current United States data mortality rates are lower, raising hope that new treatments and management strategies have improved outcomes. For instance, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show that 6.7% of cases resulted in death in April, compared with 1.9% in September.

“During the 2019 flu season from Sept. 29 to Dec. 28, the CDC reported more than 65,000 cases of influenza nationwide. During the same period this flu season, the agency reported 1,016 cases.” COVID keeps flourishing whenever we slack off on safety protocols, but hey, seems like even halfhearted anti-COVID measures can do a great job at blocking the flu.

“The strategy signals a shift from the past year, during which the Trump administration largely delegated responsibility for controlling the virus and reopening the economy to 50 governors, fracturing the nation’s response. Interviews with more than 100 health, political and community leaders around the country and a review of emails and other state government records offer a fuller picture of all that went wrong.

“I am concerned that the underrepresentation of Black people among those who have received the vaccine so far will lead to a further widening of racial disparities in Covid-19 infection and death rates. And so I share my journey from “no” to “yes,” my own #BlackWhysMatter, with whoever will listen.

“Oregon healthcare workers who were stranded in a snowstorm on Tuesday began administering leftover coronavirus vaccines to motorists on the side of the road rather than let the doses go to waste.” Heroes!

a year’s worth of bad things, political warnings, and lingering Trump links

2015, and still relevant: The USPS isn’t in financial trouble because people aren’t using it enough. It’s in “financial trouble” because Congress ordered it to stockpile enough cash to pre-fund all employee pension and health insurance costs for the next 75 years. Even if we all sent enough mail to cover that unnecessary liability, Congress could easily pass another law saddling it with another unnecessary liability. We fix this by yelling at our representatives to shape up, not by buying more stamps.

May 2020: “Despite her visible role in the fight against abortion, McCorvey [aka Jane Roe] says she was a mercenary, not a true believer. And Schenck, who has also distanced himself from the antiabortion movement, at least partially corroborates the allegations, saying that she was paid out of concern ;that she would go back to the other side,; he says in the film. ‘There were times I wondered: Is she playing us? And what I didn’t have the guts to say was, because I know damn well we were playing her.'”

May 2020: “Finland ran a two-year universal basic income study in 2017 and 2018, during which the government gave 2000 unemployed people aged between 25 and 58 monthly payments with no strings attached. The payments of €560 per month weren’t means tested and were unconditional, so they weren’t reduced if an individual got a job or later had a pay rise. The study was nationwide and selected recipients weren’t able to opt out, because the test was written into legislation. ”

September 11: “Industry companies spent tens of millions of dollars on [plastic recycling] ads and ran them for years, promoting the benefits of a product that, for the most part, was buried, was burned or, in some cases, wound up in the ocean. Documents show industry officials knew this reality about recycling plastic as far back as the 1970s.

September 30: “Maybe “guided apophenia” is a better phrase. Guided because the puppet masters are directly involved in hinting about the desired conclusions. They have pre-seeded the conclusions. They are constantly getting the player lost by pointing out unrelated random events and creating a meaning for them that fits the propaganda message Q is delivering.” A game designer’s analysis of QAnon.

October 23: “A rightwing extremist boasted of driving from Texas to Minneapolis to help set fire to a police precinct during the George Floyd protests, federal prosecutors said. US attorney Erica MacDonald said on Friday that she had charged Ivan Harrison Hunter, a 26-year-old Texas resident, with traveling across state lines to participate in a riot. ” (It’s them. It’s always them.)

December 9: “Last week, CMD obtained the 2019 tax records of two right-wing funders who donated to the FDRLST Media Foundation that year: GOP megadonor and shipping supply billionaire Richard Uihlein and DonorsTrust, a donor-advised fund manager that has been dubbed “the dark money ATM” of the conservative movement.” Looks like we can add Uline Shipping next to StickerMule on the list of “this company’s owner will pass your money on to horrible causes.”

December 17: “Per capita gross domestic product and unemployment rates were nearly identical after five years in countries that slashed taxes on the rich and in those that didn’t, the study found. But the analysis discovered one major change: The incomes of the rich grew much faster in countries where tax rates were lowered. Instead of trickling down to the middle class, tax cuts for the rich may not accomplish much more than help the rich keep more of their riches and exacerbate income inequality, the research indicates.”

January 20: “Early in President Trump’s term, McSweeney’s editors began to catalog the head-spinning number of misdeeds coming from his administration. We called this list a collection of Trump’s cruelties, collusions, and crimes, and it felt urgent then to track them, to ensure these horrors — happening almost daily — would not be forgotten.”

January 29: “Donald Trump was cultivated as a Russian asset over 40 years and proved so willing to parrot anti-western propaganda that there were celebrations in Moscow, a former KGB spy has told the Guardian.”

February 18: “The Austin American-Statesman found a single, forgotten copy of that report on a Public Utilities Commission shelf in 2011. The paper went looking for it in 2011 because of the cold snap that hit Texas in February of that year. The state legislature held angry hearings, and later that spring Hegar introduced his bill to require the Public Service Commission to prepare a weatherization and preparedness report each year, an obligation that was later neglected.” Texas utility companies vs. history, or Yes, We Need That Infrastructure Bill.

March 11: “It isn’t easy to figure out exactly how much electrical energy these ‘idling cars’ are consuming, but even the lowest estimates are eye-wateringly bad. Cambridge University seems to have done the most legwork in figuring this out, and at the moment, the annualised power consumption of bitcoin mining is 128 terawatt hours. In 2019-20, every single thing plugged into Australia’s largest main grid consumed 192.

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.”