Tag Archive | Politics

Hospitals, politics, viral mutations, blood donations

Thank you for serving our communities

March 24: “According to the current research, the virus that causes COVID-19 has a low “error rate,” meaning that its pace of mutation remains slow despite its rapid spread. Because it remains more or less stable as it travels through hundreds of thousands of patients, researchers state that it is less likely to become more dangerous (or less) as it spreads.

March 26: “Landon Spradlin, a Virginia pastor who claimed the “mass hysteria” around the coronavirus pandemic was part of a media plot against Trump, has died from the virus.”

March 28 (NYT): “In a matter of days, [New York] city’s 911 system has been overwhelmed by calls for medical distress apparently related to the virus. Typically, the system sees about 4,000 Emergency Medical Services calls a day. On [March 27], dispatchers took more than 7,000 calls — a volume not seen since the Sept. 11 attacks. The record for amount of calls in a day was broken three times in the last week.”

March 30: “General Electric factory workers launched two separate protests demanding that the company convert its jet engine factories to make ventilators. At GE’s Lynn, Massachusetts aviation facility, workers held a silent protest, standing six feet apart. Union members at the company’s Boston headquarters also marched six feet apart, calling on the company to use its factories to help the country close its ventilator shortage amid the coronavirus pandemic.”

April 1: “It wasn’t government spending the Tea Party opposed, it was government spending on “losers,” imposed by the party that the “losers” had brought to power. That’s why a less-than-$1 trillion bill meant to stave off a depression garnered enough outrage from those on the right to start a movement, while a piece of legislation more than twice its size prompts celebration by those same people. The CARES Act, the largest spending bill in American history, sparked no Tea Party rebellions, no protesters in tricorne hats, no cries of “take our country back,” and no invocations of “Second Amendment remedies.” The illegitimacy of Democratic Party governance, not the size of the deficit, the reach of the federal government, or the fact of economic stimulus itself, was the problem.”

April 2: “The new policy states that the [period of not being eligible to donate blood] for MSM will change from 12 months to 3 months. These guidelines also apply to female donors who would have been deferred for having a sex with a man who has sex with men, as well as individuals who have recently received a tattoo or piercing. The FDA has also revised their policy in regards to people who engage in commercial sex work (CSW) and injection drug use (IDU), changing their indefinite deferrals to 3-month deferrals.” …So now we know what it takes to make that happen, huh.

April 4 (NYT): “As Dr. Rosenberg walked down the corridor, nearly every door he passed had a neon colored sticker warning that personal protective equipment must be worn inside. “COVID” was handwritten on many of them.” Notes from the dystopian landscape of NYC hospitals.

April 4 (also NYT): “…it breaks my heart that Americans who get sick enough to need them won’t know what desperate situations they face, nor will they understand what ventilators can do to help, and what they can never fix. As hard as the facts may be, knowledge will make us less afraid.” Medical information about how this lung failure works.

A monumental Fluffdate before the solemn link roundup

Earlier this afternoon…a breakthrough.

I keep the fluff’s brush on the couch, so when he comes close enough I can hold it out for him to sniff. Sometimes even get away with a light stroke — not enough to actually reach any tangles, all it achieves is reassuring him that it’s Not Dangerous — before he darts away.

So he hops down from the windowsill, and I offer the brush for the usual investigation, and…

For a solid five minutes he just rolled around under the brush, twisting so I could get different angles, head butting up against my arm. There was, briefly but unmistakably, purring.

At first I was sure he’d lose his nerve if I reached for the phone to take any pictures. Then I risked it. He stuck around. I snapped these adorable shots. He kept it up.

It has been almost exactly 51 week since I brought him home. Just shy of a solid year. Six months ago, when people asked if he was letting me pet him yet, I told them it would be at least another six months — well, look at him now.

I got a fair amount of loose fur out of his coat. Even managed to do a bit of bare-handed skritching, long enough for me to confirm that he is Very Soft, before I got a light swat to let me know he was Done. (He sat around on the couch with me for a while afterward, though, so it wasn’t like he was mad about it.)

Wonder how long it’ll take before he comes back for more. I guess we’ll find out. Bet it won’t be as long as 51 weeks this time, though.


…the rest of this is COVID-19 news links, ordered by date.

(So, a timeline of what it’s like to live through the point in every disaster movie where the experts say “we’ve scienced up some great preventative measures here, but please, you have to do them Right Now or it’ll be too late.”)

March 11: “From a woman whose symptoms started with a fever, to a man who said he was an inch from death, coronavirus survivors have begun speaking out about the worldwide pandemic.

March 18: “Gen. Dave Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff, confirmed that military cargo planes were moving coronavirus testing kits, but did not give specific details during a Wednesday briefing at the Pentagon. The general acknowledged that ‘we’ve just made a pretty significant movement into Memphis.’” …From Italy. You know, they need those in Italy.

March 22: “People say Contagion is prescient. We just saw the science. The whole epidemiological community has been warning everybody for the past 10 or 15 years that it wasn’t a question of whether we were going to have a pandemic like this. It was simply when.” Interview with Dr. Larry Brilliant, the epidemiologist who helped eradicate smallpox.

March 23: “Product distributed by Diamond [i.e. comics, especially floppy single issues, to local comic shops] and slated for an on-sale date of April 1st or later will not be shipped to retailers until further notice.

March 24: “This particular group of Chicago workers was fed up with [Amazon] failing to provide paid time off or vacation it promised to part-time workers. They organized; Amazon resisted — and at last, the coronavirus acted as tiebreaker.” Good for them.

March 24 again: “‘We saw his press conference. It was on a lot, actually,’ she said. ‘Trump kept saying it was basically pretty much a cure.’ […] They mixed a small amount of the substance with liquid to drink. Within 20 minutes, both fell ill. Her husband could not be revived in hospital and she remains in critical care.” It’s been obvious for years that Trump is a compulsive liar, and everyone who’s still ignoring that gets horrifically damaged by it eventually, but this must be some kind of record for the fastest trajectory from “trusting something he said” to “horrible consequences.”

March 25: “A 52-year-old man [from Durban, South Africa] who allegedly tested positive for Covid-19 but went back to work, has been arrested for attempted murder. ” Sounds right. If a country has specific bioterrorism laws, time to start charging people under those, too.

Various dates, on each individual photo: Reuters slideshow of the temporary hospitals and medical facilities being hastily set up around the world. It is tragic that we need these, but amazing to see the competence and dedication that’s getting them up.

Non-COVID-19 linkspam (reproductive health, corruption, climate change, the scam of InfoWars)

So I’m reading this Scrooge McDuck comic, which was only written 30ish years ago, and some of the values dissonance is wild. “Wherever I go, there are blackguards who want to steal their fortune rather than work for it!” laments Scrooge, whose last three money-earning ventures involved cattle rustling on stolen land in Texas, homesteading on stolen land in Montana, and digging a gold mine on colonized land in South Africa.

…anyway, have a bunch of political links from the last couple months. Specific players and policies may have come and gone, but the overall themes are forever.

“Warren’s vision is deeply rooted in her policies solving the ills of society, whereas Sanders is calling for a social movement to upend the American political order as we know it. Then again, it’s hard to ignore that they back many of the same policies.

“During the Trump presidency, corruption has flourished in previously unthinkable ways, and at such a remarkable rate, that it’s almost impossible to keep it all straight—here’s what we know so far.

“Trump decided to skip a debate hosted by the network just before the Iowa caucuses in January 2016, and hold his own, competing event instead — a televised fundraiser for veterans. Shockingly enough, it turned out the event wasn’t quite on the level.” (He’s been ordered to pay back $2 million. Baby steps.)

“Their 2016 paper, “Wealth Inequality in the United States Since 1913,” distilled a century of data to answer one of modern capitalism’s murkiest mysteries: How rich are the rich in the world’s wealthiest nation? The answer—far richer than previously imagined—thrust the pair deep into the American debate over inequality.”

“America is one of the only developed countries in the world that pays people to donate blood, much of it sold abroad (70% of the world’s plasma is of US origin), and as commercial blood donations have soared, blood now accounts for 2% of the country’s exports — more than corn or soya.”

“The picture that emerges is of a system of staggering complexity, riddled with obstacles and cracks, that prioritizes babies over mothers, thwarts women at every turn, frustrates doctors and midwives, and incentivizes substandard care. It’s ‘the extreme example of a fragmented system that cares about women much more in the context of delivering a healthy baby than the mother’s health in and of itself.’

“I quit film school and moved nearly a thousand miles to Austin, Tex., fully invested in propagating his worldview. By the time I found myself seated next to [Alex] Jones speeding down the highway, I had seen enough of the inner workings of Infowars to know better.

“Veneto regional council, which is located on Venice’s Grand Canal, was flooded for the first time in its history on [November 12] — just after it rejected measures to combat climate change.”

Bad things I’ve had bookmarked since summer

In July my family tried its best to go plastic free, as part of Plastic Free July. The rules were simple: don’t buy anything plastic. If we already had things in plastic we could use them. We began with enthusiasm – a challenge to change our ways, to go from reduced plastic to zero. By the end, as supplies dwindled, the task felt tedious, expensive and difficult.”

“In a mission to clean up trash floating in the ocean, environmentalists pulled 40 tons (36 metric tons) of abandoned fishing nets this month from an area known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

“Can we all agree that it is inhumane and cruel and a waste of resources to crush the wheelchairs of people who are living on the street after a car accident in a full body cast?

“Throughout the 191 day ordeal, one thought was more pervasive than the rest: What about those among the disabled community who can’t be their own advocate? What about those who don’t have family members who can help them? I had the privileges of energy, an Internet connection, and no language barrier. If I wouldn’t have had these privileges of self-advocacy, I may have never gotten my chair at all.

All of the children who’ve died since December [2018] were initially taken into custody by agents from the El Paso and Rio Grande Valley sectors of the Border Patrol. Before December, no child had died in Border Patrol custody in a decade.”

U.S. citizens are often mistakenly detained and targeted for deportation. As a 2018 investigation by the Los Angeles Times revealed, there have been hundreds of instances in immigration courts where U.S. citizens had to prove they were Americans, sometimes after being detained for months or even years.”

“On Monday, an appeals court ruled that Watson, now 32, is not eligible for any of that money — because while his case is “disturbing,” the statute of limitations actually expired while he was still in ICE custody without a lawyer.

Pouring out my whole backlist of Depressing Political Links in one go

“Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.

U.S. officials turned away a 17-year-old Palestinian incoming Harvard freshman last week after he was questioned about his friends’ social media posts, according to the Harvard Crimson.” (It was never about whether other countries are “sending their best people”! It’s racism! It was always racism!)

Connors said the family was asked about family members in the United States they could be released to, but instead of being freed they were transferred to the Berks Family Residential Center, outside Reading, on Oct. 5. […] the Berks County-run facility was not equipped to care for [their 3-month-old] child and that normal caretaking items — such as a container of formula and teething powder — have been confiscated. At one point, her baby had no clothes while staff washed the clothes he arrived with.” (This family is white, British, and crossed over the Canada border by accident. Abolish ICE.)

“The judge agreed that they probably would kill him, just before he denied his asylum claim. He was deported. They did.

2600 Magazine has compiled a full listing of Customs and Border Patrol stations, a number of which are being used to imprison migrants, immigrants, and/or refugees, many of whom are children. In the interests of openness, we are sharing that info here.”

“OCI has produced about the most conservative possible estimate of the subsidies received by fossil fuels in the US. These are solely production subsidies — taxpayer money that goes directly to producing more fossil fuels. […] $14.7 billion in federal subsidies and $5.8 billion in state-level incentives, for a total of $20.5 billion annually in corporate welfare.

“The Senate Intelligence Committee issued a bipartisan report Tuesday calling for Congress to consider new laws designed to prevent foreign interference on social media — the culmination of a two-year investigation into how Russian intelligence agencies sought to manipulate American public opinion in the 2016 election.”

“…the Pew Research Center’s latest rolling poll of U.S. veterans, published Thursday, in which solid majorities of former troops said the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria were not worth fighting. The gaps between approval and disapproval were not even close to the poll’s 3.9 percent margin of error; barely a third of veterans considered any of those conflicts worthwhile.

Highlights from the past few months of gun-related news

I haven’t managed to post any of these for a while, but that’s not for lack of material.

A first grader who found his grandmother’s loaded gun at school this spring pointed it at another student[…] [Vicky] Nelson was allowed to carry the weapon as part of the district’s concealed-carry plan adopted last year to arm administrators and select staff members to protect students from potential gun violence.” Sounds like that “put more guns in reach of small children” plan is going swimmingly.

Police say the two children broke into a locked bedroom, took a semi-automatic pistol out of a drawer, and were playing when the gun discharged. [The 10-year-old died.] Capri says the homeowners were legally able to own the gun and ‘did what they felt necessary to secure the firearm.'” Gun security should be regulated by laws, because obviously “feelings” aren’t cutting it.

A Texas police officer confronted by a loose dog pulled out his gun and opened fire [August 1], missing the animal and striking a woman standing nearby, killing her.” In the chest. No, the dog was not that tall. Either his aim is so bad that he has no business being a cop, or he’s lying, he meant to shoot the unarmed pedestrian, and he has no business being a cop.

‘He didn’t just die down there did he?’ an officer asked minutes after 32-year-old Tony Timpa lost consciousness while being restrained by police. ‘I hope I didn’t kill him.'” Justice for Tony Timpa.

“Ten days after he testified in the murder trial of a former Dallas police officer [Amber Guyger, finally convicted off murdering Botham Jean], key witness Joshua Brown was gunned down at his apartment complex.” Justice for Joshua Brown.

“A black woman was shot and killed by a white police officer in her Fort Worth, Texas home after a neighbor called dispatchers to report the woman’s front door was open, police said. The officers were searching the perimeter of the woman’s home when they saw a person standing near a window inside and one of them opened fire. […] She died at 2:30 a.m. Saturday in the bedroom of her home.” Justice for Atatiana Koquice Jefferson.

“…data from the 15 years following the [assault weapon ban]’s expiration now provide stronger evidence that permitting the gun industry to flood the market with increasingly powerful weapons that allow for faster killing has facilitated exactly that outcome. In the decade after the ban, there was a 347 percent increase in fatalities in gun massacres, even as overall violent crime continued downward.”

Vintage gay wedding photos, more-vintage cheap souvenirs, super-extra-vintage fossils, and other neat things

…the photos depict him in a commitment ceremony with another man, and unbeknownst to him, the store manager had a policy of withholding developed photos if he deemed them “inappropriate”—as he did these.The photos, though, lived on because the manager of the shop had another policy: Staff were allowed to do whatever they pleased with confiscated pictures. An employee held on to the photos.”

“About a month after they met, Hay and Gernreich combed the gay beaches of Malibu and the Pacific Palisades looking for new Mattachine members. They brought along copies of the Stockholm Peace Petition, which called for a withdrawal of troops from Korea. They mistakenly believed that the peace petition was so radical it would make the new gay organization seem mild by comparison. Nearly 500 people signed the petition. No one signed up for Mattachine.

“IDK” was attested as military slang in 1918.

“It sounds just like the kind of joke that is ubiquitous in today’s cheap-and-cheerful souvenir industry: ‘I went to Rome and all I got you was this lousy pen.’ But the tongue-in-cheek inscription recently deciphered on a cheap writing implement during excavations in the City of London is in fact about 2,000 years old.”

“As the water slowed and became slack, it deposited everything that had been caught up in its travels—the heaviest material first, up to whatever was floating on the surface. All of it was quickly entombed and preserved in the muck: dying and dead creatures, both marine and freshwater; plants, seeds, tree trunks, roots, cones, pine needles, flowers, and pollen; shells, bones, teeth, and eggs; tektites, shocked minerals, tiny diamonds, iridium-laden dust, ash, charcoal, and amber-smeared wood. As the sediments settled, blobs of glass rained into the mud, the largest first, then finer and finer bits, until grains sifted down like snow.” A geological dig preserving the day of The Asteroid.

“It’s not a frequent topic of discussion, but doctors die, too. And they don’t die like the rest of us. What’s unusual about them is not how much treatment they get compared to most Americans, but how little.

He stopped taking ART (Antiretroviral Therapy) three months ago and there continues to be no evidence of infectious HIV in his system. Each of the three patients were being given the procedure with that aim of treating cancer, so while a bone marrow transplant is not a viable option as a common cure for HIV infection, it does give us hope that we’re getting closer to a permanent cure.”