Trump comes right out and says extending voting rights would hurt Republicans

‘President Trump on Monday morning became the latest in a procession of Republicans to say making it easier for more people to vote would hurt his party politically.

In an interview on “Fox & Friends,” Trump referenced proposals from Democrats in the coronavirus stimulus negotiations that would have vastly increased funding for absentee and vote-by-mail options. The final package included $400 million for the effort, which was far less than what Democrats had sought.

“The things they had in there were crazy,” Trump said. “They had things — levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”…’

Via Washington Post

Social distancing may be a rare chance to get our sleep patterns closer to what nature intended

 

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Via The Conversation:

‘Besides connecting with those closest to us, many of us can sleep in and organize lives in ways that suit our biological ticker. Larks can go to bed earlier and owls can snooze in. Families can synchronize their meal and play routines in new ways, honoring the time of their internal clock (what chrono-biologists call the ‘circadian’ phase’). For most of our history we slept with one another when our bodies told us too, not by ourselves and only when work allowed. This may be an unprecedented opportunity to embrace a basic human need to switch off on a regular basis, helping human bodies fight the wars only those bodies know how….’

A history of beards and pandemics, from the 1918 Spanish flu to coronavirus

Michael Waters writing in Vox:

‘In terms of bacterial shedding, “there is no difference in bearded and non-bearded men,” said Carrie Kovarik, an associate professor of dermatology and medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. In her study of the phenomenon, Dr. Kovarik found that bearded people might actually carry fewer germs than their clean-shaven counterparts — perhaps because the “micro-trauma” that shaving inflicts on the skin opens up space for bacteria to congregate. But while Park’s lactic fearmongering might seem like the bygone panic of another era, the associations of beards with disease have proven strangely resilient….’

Medical Expert Who Corrects Trump Is Now a Target of the Far Right

 Davey Alba and Sheera Frenkel writing in The New York Times:

‘At a White House briefing on the coronavirus on March 20, President Trump called the State Department the “Deep State Department.” Behind him, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, dropped his head and rubbed his forehead.

Some thought Dr. Fauci was slighting the president, leading to a vitriolic online reaction. On Twitter and Facebook, a post that falsely claimed he was part of a secret cabal who opposed Mr. Trump was soon shared thousands of times, reaching roughly 1.5 million people.

A week later, Dr. Fauci — the administration’s most outspoken advocate of emergency measures to fight the coronavirus outbreak — has become the target of an online conspiracy theory that he is mobilizing to undermine the president.

That fanciful claim has spread across social media, fanned by a right-wing chorus of Mr. Trump’s supporters, even as Dr. Fauci has won a public following for his willingness to contradict the president and correct falsehoods and overly rosy pronouncements about containing the virus.

An analysis by The New York Times found over 70 accounts on Twitter that have promoted the hashtag #FauciFraud, with some tweeting as frequently as 795 times a day. The anti-Fauci sentiment is being reinforced by posts from Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, a conservative group; Bill Mitchell, host of the far-right online talk show “YourVoice America”; and other outspoken Trump supporters such as Shiva Ayyadurai, who has falsely claimed to be the inventor of email….’

All I can say is that the contempt of the contemptible is a compliment. 

R.I.P. Krzysztof Penderecki

Polish Composer With Cinematic Flair Dies at 86 – New York Times:

‘Mr. Penderecki was regarded as Poland’s pre-eminent composer for more than half a century, and in all those years he never seemed to sit still. Beginning in the 1960s with radical ideas that placed him firmly in the avant-garde, he went on to produce dozens of compositions including eight symphonies, four operas, a requiem and other choral works, and several concertos he cheerfully described as being almost impossible to play….’

How Panic-Buying Revealed the Problem With the Modern World

Helen Lewis writing in The Atlantic:

‘As pictures of empty shelves dominated our social-media feeds here…, armchair critics denounced their fellow citizens as selfish and greedy. Stop hoarding! End the panic-buying!

Hang on, though. Were hordes of selfish [shoppers] really squirreling away 90 tins of tuna each? As the fog of panic dissipates, the answer is clear: No. Instead, the data show that small changes in the habits of a minority of shoppers prompted lurid headlines about empty shelves—which then made others, quite rationally, change their behavior. That has led to short-term supply issues. (Neither of the two stores closest to me… has any eggs in stock, for example.)

Any student of economics will tell you that modern supply chains rely on just-in-time ordering. In the case of … supermarkets, production schedules are tailored precisely to demand, so that unused stock does not sit in warehouses or go to waste. In the current crisis, [we have] not run out of essential goods such as toilet paper; the difficulty is getting them onto the shelves quickly enough….’

The five: trees of the year

From a stately Scottish elm to a might Russian oak, competitors for the title of European tree of the year do their nations proud

The Guardian of the Flooded Village, Chudobín, Czech Republic.

The Guardian of the Flooded Village, Chudobín, Czech Republic. Photograph: Marek Olbrzymek/2020 European Tree of the Year

Last week, a pine tree near a flooded Czech village was voted European tree of the year. Known to the locals of Chudobín as the Guardian of the Flooded Village, the tree is estimated to be 350 years old – the villagers attribute its supernatural powers to tales of a devil who played the violin beneath it during the night. Once part of a larger forest, it was left isolated after the area was flooded during the construction of a dam.

The Allerton Oak

The Allerton Oak.

The Allerton Oak. Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

England’s finalist in the tree of the year vote was the Allerton Oak in Calderstones Park, Liverpool. It is thought to be about 1,000 years old, and has a girth of 5.5 metres, producing 100,000 acorns per year. In medieval times, court cases were held beneath its canopy and more recently, it is thought Paul McCartney and John Lennon would cycle past the tree on their way to college.

The Last Ent of Affric

The Last Ent of Affric.

The Last Ent of Affric. Photograph: Niall Benvie

This elm, nicknamed after the sentient trees in JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, was crowned Scotland’s tree of the year. The Last Ent of Affric is a lonely specimen, but isolation protected it from Dutch elm disease – social distancing for trees, if you will. It grows near Glen Affric in the Highlands. Its remote location meant it was long forgotten until it was rediscovered in 2012.

The Bird Tree, Corsica

The Bird Tree of Ghisonaccia

The Bird Tree of Ghisonaccia. Photograph: Pierre Huchette/2019 European Tree of the Year

The 2019 French tree of the year was the Bird Tree of Ghisonaccia, in the Haute-Corse area of Corsica. A cork oak about 200-230 years old, it is so named because of its unusual silhouette – similar to a bird of prey with extended wings. The curious shape is thought to have been caused by a fire.

The Abramtsevo Oak

The Abramtsevo Oak.

The Abramtsevo Oak. Photograph: treeoftheyear.org

In 2019, Russia nominated this oak, which stands in the grounds of the Abramtsevo museum, a former artists’ colony north-east of Moscow. The 249-year-old specimen with an impressively far-reaching crown is claimed to have inspired many Russian writers and artists – from the novelist Ivan Turgenev to landscape painters Isaac Levitan and Viktor Vasnetsov.

Via The Guardian

US autism rates up 10 percent in new CDC report

7 children

Via Neuroscience News:

The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder in eleven surveillance sites is 1 in 54 among children aged eight. This is a 10% increase from 2014 when it was 1 in 59. Since 2000, prevalence rates of ASD have almost tripled, from 0.67% to 1.85%., according to Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Your brain evolved to hoard supplies and shame others for doing the same

Catesby Holmes writing in The Conversation:

The media is replete with COVID–19 stories about people clearing supermarket shelves – and the backlash against them. Have people gone mad? How can one individual be overfilling his own cart, while shaming others who are doing the same?

As a behavioral neuroscientist who has studied hoarding behavior for 25 years, I can tell you that this is all normal and expected. People are acting the way evolution has wired them.

NYU Tisch Students Asked For Tuition Refunds, And Their Dean Responded With A Bizarre, Unhelpful Dance Video

XyFOmkJEvfUUbhHUVia Boing Boing:

We’re not sure why Dean Allyson Green thought that a video of herself dancing to Rem’s “Losing My Religion” would be in any way a helpful response to NYU students’ recent requests for a tuition refund, given that virtual classes weren’t what they signed up for, especially considering NYU’s costly tuition.
According to Michael Price, the NYU student who uploaded the video on Twitter, Green asked the students to “dance along with her” in the email after explaining that the school wouldn’t be able to give them refunds.

Doctors consider universal do-not-resuscitate orders for coronavirus patients

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Ariana Eunjung Cha writing in The Washington Post:

‘Health-care providers are bound by oath — and in some states, by law — to do everything they can within the bounds of modern technology to save a patient’s life, absent an order, such as a DNR, to do otherwise. But as cases mount amid a national shortage of personal protective equipment, or PPE, hospitals are beginning to implement emergency measures that will either minimize, modify or completely stop the use of certain procedures on patients with covid-19….’

I can’t tell you how upset I am by this trend, although I assume it is being blown out of proportion in the service of sensationalism. It is much more likely that there will be some triaging around the futility of heroic measures on a case-by-case basis. And, let’s not kid ourselves — there always is and always has been in the practice of medicine, it is just not publicized or codified in an official change in hospital policy as is being discussed now. 

If all it took us to get to this point is a looming shortage of personal protective equipment for frontline healthcare workers, then place American industry on a wartime footing and make the damn PPE! Instead, leaping to a blanket override on the advanced directive wishes of patients, or families of patients, with a particular disease is such a wholesale abandonment of ethical principles at the first sign of adversity (yes, I know, not actually the first sign) that it makes a mockery of there being any ethical standards at all, makes a mockery of the supposedly altruistic motives that make the practice of medicine a worthwhile endeavor. Not only will it kill people en masse but it will kill the souls of those who participated for the rest of their careers. 

Why contemporary experiments always work the first time (and always fail the second time)

UnknownVia Myths of Vision Science:

‘…[T]he popular type of study I’ve just described is known not to replicate. And while a lot of ink has been spilled (not least in the pages of Nature) over the ongoing “replication crisis” in neuroscience; while we even have a “Center for Reproducible Neuroscience” at Stanford; while paper after paper has pointed out the barrenness of the procedure (Jonas & Kording’s (2017) “Can a neuroscientist understand a microprocessor?” was a popular one); while the problems with post hoc inferences have been known to philosophers and scientists for hundreds of years; the technique remains the dominant one. As Konrad Kording has admitted, practitioners get around the non-replication problem simply by avoiding doing replications.

So there you have it; a sure-fire method for learning…nothing….’

(Thanks, Noah)

Public radio station in Washington state says it won’t air Trump briefings because of ‘false or misleading information’

ImgVia Boing Boing:

‘”KUOW is monitoring White House briefings for the latest news on the coronavirus — and we will continue to share all news relevant to Washington State with our listeners. However, we will not be airing the briefings live due to a pattern of false or misleading information provided that cannot be fact checked in real time.”…’

Retired SCOTUS Justice Souter joins 1st Circuit decision blocking Trump’s attack on sanctuary cities.

UnknownMark Joseph Stern writing in Slate:

‘…[T]he 1st U.S. Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday that the administration’s assault on sanctuary cities is illegal. The panel’s unanimous decision—joined, notably, by retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter —affirms cities’ right to keep unauthorized immigrants out of their own jails and help them avoid federal detention….’

Americans’ Revulsion for Trump Is Underappreciated

NewImagePolitical strategist Stanley Greenberg writing in The Atlantic:

‘The release on Friday of an ABC News/Ipsos poll indicating that 55 percent of Americans approved of Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus—12 points higher than the previous week—prompted another round of fatalistic chatter in certain quarters of the political establishment. Shocked by Trump’s victory in 2016, some left-leaning commentators and rank-and-file Democrats alike have been steeling themselves for his reelection in 2020, noting that most presidents win second terms; that, at least before the pandemic, the economy was humming along; and more recently that, during moments of national disaster, Americans tend to rally around the leader they have.

But these nuggets of conventional political wisdom obscure something fundamental—something that even Democrats have trouble seeing: The United States is in revolt against Donald Trump, and the likely Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, already holds a daunting lead over Trump in the battleground states that will decide the 2020 election. By way of disclosure, I am a Democratic pollster; for professional and personal reasons alike, I want Democratic candidates to succeed. But no matter what, I also want candidates and party operatives to base decisions—such as where and how to campaign—on an accurate view of the political landscape. At the moment, Democrats are underestimating their own strength and misperceiving the sources of it….’

Why depth therapy is more enduring than a quick fix of CBT

Campbell+1Psychologist Linda Michaels writing in Aeon:

‘the biomedical model (favoured by psychiatry) and the short-term, structured therapy model (favoured by psychology) don’t work as well as they should. These treatments seem easy to administer, but is a ‘quick fix’ really what’s called for when addressing complex problems in life? Is it possible that one type of therapy – CBT and its family of treatments – can work for nearly every person and every problem so successfully?…’

Are Weird People More Creative?

OriginalOlga Khazan writing in The Atlantic:

‘…[C]reative types, such as artists and writers, were more likely than, say, businesspeople to be considered “odd or peculiar” as children, and more likely than public officials or soldiers to be considered “different” as adults. In his 1962 study of architects, the psychologist Donald W. MacKinnon similarly found that the families of more creative architects had moved around a lot when they were kids, which appeared “to have resulted frequently in some estrangement of the family from its immediate neighborhood,” he said. Not surprisingly, many of the more creative architects said they’d felt isolated as children.

An unusual childhood is not the only thing that can make you more creative. Being considered “weird” in your culture can also enhance an element of creativity called “integrative complexity.” People who are strong in integrative complexity tend to handle uncertainty well and excel at reconciling conflicting information. They’re often able to see problems from multiple perspectives….’

Signs Say Murderous Rapacious Enfant Terrible Will Pivot From Containment for the Sake of Reelection

‘President Trump and some of his senior officials are losing patience with the doctors’ orders.

Amid dire predictions for jobs and the economy, the White House is beginning to send signals to business that there’s light at the end of the tunnel — that the squeeze from nationwide social distancing won’t be endless… Senior Trump officials, including the president himself, have only limited patience for keeping the economy shut down. They are watching stocks tumble and unemployment skyrocket.

Trump tweeted at 10 minutes to midnight: “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD [which began a week ago, March 16], WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!” …

At the end of the 15-day period, there will likely be a serious clash between the public health experts — who will almost certainly favor a longer period of nationwide social distancing and quarantining — versus the president and his economic and political aides, who are anxious to restart the economy….’

Via Axios

Helping others as the economy grinds down

Susan Athey and Dean Karlan writing in the Washington Post:

‘As we spend time in self-isolation, let’s think about all the people who depend on us to make a living: the Lyft driver, the dry cleaner, the child-care provider, the barista at the coffee shop. As everything from sports games to evenings out with friends gets canceled because of covid-19, economic activity is grinding to a halt?

People are starting to practice not only social distancing but also economic distancing, which leaves a lot of people — especially the most economically vulnerable — in the lurch. It’s easy to feel powerless watching the human toll mount. What can we do to make a difference when we’re stuck at home, disconnected both socially and economically?…’

Why Trump started calling the coronavirus the “Chinese Virus.”

73fb17b1 8b1f 4571 b769 5ca005ee8252Lili Loofbourow writing in Slate:

‘People familiar with Trump’s limited but effective toolbox will recognize by now that the turn to racism is a sign of Trumpian distress. It means that Trump—who hasn’t been able to hold rallies amid his adoring fans—is feeling not just insecure but trapped. He thought the coronavirus was one more narrative he could control. He couldn’t. And so, perhaps sometime around March 16, when he first used the phrase “Chinese Virus” on Twitter himself, it became clear that the president was ready to embrace an ugly construction Mike Pompeo and others had earlier tried to mainstream….’

Can dogs get coronavirus? Medical experts say probably not

UnknownMolly Hanson writing in Big Think:

‘Here’s one less coronavirus worry: Your pets are likely safe from the virus according to medical experts.

Last month, a dog was quarantined in Hong Kong after having tested a “weak positive” for the novel coronavirus igniting public worry about the possibility of pets becoming infected.

Medical experts are saying that there is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can infect pets, which have different cell receptors….’

Donald Trump’s Cult of Personality Did This

Original

Adam Serwer writing in The Atlantic:

’The president of the United States is a menace to public health.

I don’t mean that I disagree with him on policy, although I do. I don’t mean that I abhor the president’s expressed bigotry toward religious and ethnic minorities, although that is also true. I am not referring to Donald Trump’s efforts to corrupt the Justice Department, shield his criminal associates from legal peril, or funnel taxpayer money to his tacky hotels and golf courses, although all of these things are reason enough to oppose the president.

What I am referring to is the fact that, soon after the coronavirus outbreak emerged in China, the rest of the world began to regard it as a threat to public health, while Trump has seen it as a public-relations problem. Trump’s primary method of dealing with public-relations problems is to exert the full force of the authoritarian cult of personality that surrounds him to deny that a problem even exists. This approach has paid political dividends for the Republican Party, in the form of judicial appointments, tax cuts for the wealthy, and a rapid erosion of the rule of law. But applied to the deadly pandemic now sweeping the planet, all it has done is exacerbate the inevitable public-health crisis, while leaving both the federal government and the entire swath of the country that hangs on his every word unprepared for the catastrophe now unfolding in the United States. The cardinal belief of Trumpism is that loyalty to Trump is loyalty to the country, and that equation leaves no room for the public interest….’

How Coronavirus Is Impacting Domestic Violence Shelters

Gmnuxkofwcke2l8ins8eEsther Wang writing in Jezebel:

‘As more Americans are being asked to shelter in place and practice social distancing to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, one group of people will be particularly impacted—survivors of domestic violence and abuse, for whom home is dangerous…

Jezebel spoke with advocates in states around the country to hear from them on how they are responding in this moment, why they believe that they will see an increased need for shelter and other forms of support for survivors, and what we can do to help both survivors and the organizations that work with them….’

Libro.fm

CoryCory Doctorow, Science Fiction Author on one of his ‘Cool Tools’:

‘Libro.fm is an independent audio book platform that sells every single audio book in MP3 form, with the exception of Audible originals. But every other audio book, in every publisher’s catalog is available for sale from Libro.fm at the same price that Audible sells it at, but without DRM. And you tell them what your favorite bookstore is, and they will give them a commission every time you buy it, on the grounds that you’ve probably gone into that bookstore, perused the book in paper edition and then got back and bought the audio version from Libro….’

If you’re not on the go as much now, you might have more time to actually read a book instead of listening to one (which I do on my commutes), but this may be useful nonetheless. 

Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance

Tomas Pueyo writing in Medium:

‘Strong coronavirus measures today should only last a few weeks, there shouldn’t be a big peak of infections afterwards, and it can all be done for a reasonable cost to society, saving millions of lives along the way. If we don’t take these measures, tens of millions will be infected, many will die, along with anybody else that requires intensive care, because the healthcare system will have collapsed….’ (Via Kottke)

Why the Coronavirus is So Successful

‘We’ve known about SARS-CoV-2 for only three months, but scientists can make some educated guesses about where it came from and why it’s behaving in such an extreme way….’

— Ed Yong writing in The Atlantic

One of the science writers I consider most lucid and erudite.

A Guide to Finding Great Art While in Isolation

imageSo you’re stuck at home. There’s a pandemic. What to do?

Maybe you’re into art. Or maybe you’re not — but you always secretly thought you might be if you only had the chance.

Well, now you have the chance. But of course, there’s a problem. Almost all of the art museums have closed. It’s depressing. The incredible Degas show …? Shut. The Gerhard Richter show — maybe the last major one in his lifetime — at the Met Breuer? Closed for business. Just like everything else.

Don’t worry, friends! The museums will eventually reopen. But in the meantime: We are so lucky. There are options galore online…

From the soothing how-to-paint videos of Bob Ross — perfect if you’re feeling anxious — to William Kentridge’s 2012 Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard University — the most brilliant, challenging and entertaining series of lectures on art ever delivered — there’s something to suit every mood, every taste, every flavor of idleness.

Here are some of my favorites…

Via Washington Post

Why We Don’t Name Diseases After Places Anymore

MoeoyesaibjtcwmuhbqaBeth Skwarecki writing in Lifehacker:

‘…[T]he World Health Organization issued guidelines a few years ago about naming diseases in a way that describes them accurately, without stigmatizing people or places or inciting unnecessary fear. Diseases are now supposed to be named after their symptoms, characteristics, and the cause of the disease if known. COVID-19, short for “coronavirus disease discovered in 2019,” is an appropriate name. Here’s what they don’t recommend:

Terms that should be avoided in disease names include geographic locations (e.g. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, Spanish Flu, Rift Valley fever), people’s names (e.g. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Chagas disease), species of animal or food (e.g. swine flu, bird flu, monkey pox), cultural, population, industry or occupational references (e.g. legionnaires), and terms that incite undue fear (e.g. unknown, fatal, epidemic).
 
 
So, yes, there were diseases named that way in the past, but the public health community learned from their mistakes and we don’t do that anymore.

Anybody who is arguing, today, in 2020, for a geographical name for a disease is either naive of this history (send them this article!) or is trying to deliberately stir up xenophobic sentiments. World leaders are now blaming each other for the virus, which is silly. It’s just a virus. So let’s take it seriously and call it by its real name….’

Related: Your Racist Corona Jokes Aren’t Funny:

There’s something harmful and horrific spreading across this country, and it’s not a biological illness. It’s the idea that calling coronavirus “kung flu” is funny.

I shouldn’t have to say this. You know not to be a racist xenophobic jerk, right? Many of you reading this would, in fact, never consider making such jokes. And for this you shall be awarded one gold star and the responsibility to stare dead-eyed at your friends who say racist things and say “Wait, I don’t get it. Explain to me again why that’s funny?”

PS: The ‘Spanish Flu’ probably started in Kansas. 

Dasani Water Memes: Why Everyone Hates Dasani, Even in Quarantine

UntitledImageQuinn Myers writing in Mel:

‘Dasani… along with Smartwater, Aquafina and “any other bottled water that doesn’t say ‘spring water’ on the bottle,” is a capitalistic abomination. They take tap water and filter out all of the minerals and chemical contaminants before inserting some combination of minerals until the combination creates a flavor profile people like. “It’s the biggest lie on planet Earth,”…’

We’re not going back to normal

Gettyimages 94502198Gideon Lichfield writing in MIT Technology Review:

‘Social distancing is here to stay for much more than a few weeks. It will upend our way of life, in some ways forever.

To stop coronavirus we will need to radically change almost everything we do: how we work, exercise, socialize, shop, manage our health, educate our kids, take care of family members….’

Some Ask a Taboo Question: Is America Overreacting to Coronavirus?

‘…(I)n recent days, a group of contrarian political leaders, ethicists and ordinary Americans have bridled at what they saw as a tendency to dismiss the complex trade-offs that the measures collectively known as “social distancing” entail.

Besides the financial ramifications of such policies, their concerns touch on how society’s most marginalized groups may fare and on the effect of government-enforced curfews on democratic ideals. Their questions about the current approach are distinct from those raised by some conservative activists who have suggested the virus is a politically inspired hoax, or no worse than the flu….’

Via New York Times

Four Ways Experts Say Coronavirus Nightmare Could End

E3dc1e1cb0b4ad633637b6f24a3a0916Olivia Messer writing in Yahoo! News:

‘William Haseltine, president of the global health think tank ACCESS Health International, who recently chaired the U.S.-China Health Summit in Wuhan, where the virus likely originated, has a theory.

“There are four ways,” the doctor told The Daily Beast. “One, it peters out with the weather. Two, everybody gets infected, so it’s got no new places to go… so it ends—but that’s a pretty horrible ending. Three is a vaccine, which is about a year away. Fourth way is the most likely: We’re going to have a few drugs, within a few weeks to a few months, that prevent people from getting infected—like PrEP for HIV—and for treatment.”…’

Trump’s rage at the media takes a dangerous new turn

Greg Sargent writing in The Washington Post:

  • relentlessly minimized the coronavirus threat for nakedly political reasons
  • disastrously hampering the federal government response to the crisis
  • telling millions of Americans to entirely shut out any and all correctives to his falsehoods
  • using his megaphone to tell the American people not to trust an institution they must rely on for information amid an ongoing public health emergency, all because that institution held him accountable for his own failures on this front
  • Unloaded in a fury at a PBS reporter (who asked) a perfectly reasonable question about whether he takes responsibility for the 2018 disbanding on his watch of the White House pandemic office
  • repeatedly lashed out at reporters for … trying to hold him accountable for his own words and deeds
  • relentless efforts to persuade the country that coronavirus is no big deal.

Trump has told the American people to dismiss what the media is telling them. First, Trump insisted initial reporting on the crisis was deliberately hyped to harm him. Now Trump is claiming efforts to hold him accountable for all the failings that flowed from that impulse are just more “fake news.”

The big story here is that we’re now seeing just how catastrophically unsuited Trump’s brand of autocracy truly is in the face of a crisis like this one. As Anne Applebaum details, Trump’s enforcement of a loyalty code against civil service professionals, and his retaliation against them for exposing inconvenient truths, paved the way for Trump’s pathologies to hamper the response, because “Trump has very few truth-tellers around him anymore.”

Make this simple change to free up hospital beds now

Jeremy Faust, an emergency physician at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, writing in The Washington Post:

‘There is something we can do immediately that will dramatically help hospitals free up beds and medical equipment to help those suffering from covid-19.

This proposal will save lives the minute that states and other authorities adopt it.
We are in urgent need of emergency laws, or executive orders, in every state that temporarily relax the legal standard of medical malpractice…

This is not an end-run to bring about tort reform. It is an emergency step, necessary in a national emergency, to save lives. Here’s why:…

This is not triage. It is a protection that doctors need to avoid exposing uninfected patients to the virus and for ensuring we will have capacity to treat those with advanced cases of covid-19
 
If we don’t act now, we will exceed our hospital capacity far sooner than we can afford as a society.
The change need not, and should not, be permanent. A three-month suspension would be enough. But we need to make this change immediately.
Changing the legal standard will make it possible for doctors to immediately treat more of the most critically ill patients, while legally protecting them in sending less sick patients home. It will determine how many patients we can treat before the system ceases to function…

I know doctors, and I know hospital administrators and lawyers. Removing these concerns will change physician behavior immediately…’

Coronavirus infection may be worsened by ibuprofen and other NSAIDS

Ibuprofen advil aspirin nsaids covid 19 coronavirusUse acetaminophen (Tylenol) instead?

‘French health officials … made a stunning discovery as they’ve been battling the local epidemic: Common drugs you have around the house may worsen your condition if you have an unconfirmed COVID-19 infection.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a class of medicine that can decrease fever, reduce pain, and prevent blood clots. You may know them by common names like Advil, Ibuprofen, and aspirin. Many of them are sold over the counter without a prescription and are an everyday go-to for some of the symptoms above. (A list of NSAIDs is available over on Wikipedia.)

The coronavirus infection doesn’t necessarily have specific symptoms, and it can mimic cold or flu symptoms. Treating headaches or fever with Advil, Ibuprofen, and any other similar drug might be the usual course of action for many people. But French physicians discovered aggravated cases in COVID-19 patients who weren’t tested for the disease before using Ibuprofen to treat their symptoms at home….’

Via Coronavirus infection may be worsened by a common household drug – BGR

Americans are hitting bars and bragging about not social distancing

Mark Kaufman writing in Mashable:

Uploads 2Fcard 2Fimage 2F1246073 2Fb5377b14 b959 45ad 89e7 36cf2e659f7e jpg 2F950x534 filters 3Aquality 2880 29‘The nation’s top infectious disease researchers have repeatedly warned, if not begged, Americans to practice social distancing as the contagious coronavirus spreads through the population. 

That’s because, due to a woeful lack of testing in the nation, no one knows how many Americans are infected — and the resulting respiratory disease (COVID-19) is 10 times more lethal than the flu. Sunday morning, Marc Lipsitch, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Harvard University, emphasized this point, noting that the true number of infections is certainly “much higher” than confirmed cases.

But, though some folks are social distancing, many still clearly aren’t. Some are even actively bragging about not doing it. This weekend, journalists and others reported that bars across the nation were packed in Boston, Chicago, Nashville, and New York City.

For those eager to ignore the recommendations of scientists who have squelched deadly virus epidemics in the past — like immunologist Mark Cameron who helped put SARS to rest — consider this: Between 20 to 60 percent of adults globally are expected to become infected, and some 15 percent of cases are severe or critical. It is people over 60 who are most vulnerable. So stopping the virus’ spread will help your older relatives or parents from falling extremely ill, or worse. 

“Social distancing is based on the principle of altruism,” Jason Farley, a nurse practitioner for the Division of Infectious Diseases AIDS Service at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, told Mashable last week. “Treating everyone around you like it’s your 80-year-old grandmother is the circumstance we need to think about.”…’

The Amazing Psychedelic Bamboozle

PsychroomNeuroskeptic writing in Discover Magazine:

‘Thirty-three brave volunteers took part in an experiment on the effects of psychedelic drugs on creativity. After passing rigorous medical screening, the volunteers were admitted to a specially prepared hospital room, where they were each given a 4 mg dose of a synthetic hallucinogen.

Within fifteen minutes or so, they began to feel the effects, including perceptual distortions mood changes, and sometimes anxiety. Several participants reported changes in experience stronger than those previously seen in people after moderate or high doses of LSD and other psychedelics.

Finally, after 3 and a half hours, the experiment was over and the effects had worn off. The lead experimenter gathered the volunteers together and announced that the whole thing had been an elaborate fake. The pills they had taken were only placebos.

This is the story reported in a lovely new paper published in Psychopharmacology from researchers Jay A. Olson of McGill university. It’s called Tripping on nothing: placebo psychedelics and contextual factors.

The paper describes how the researchers went to great lengths to create a believable appearance of a drug study, and thus facilitate the placebo effect….’

Risk of systemic healthcare system failure during coronavirus outbreak

Biologist Liz Specht runs the numbers on Twitter:

Let’s conservatively assume that there are 2,000 current cases in the US today, March 6th. This is about 8x the number of confirmed (lab-diagnosed) cases. We know there is substantial under-Dx due to lack of test kits; I’ll address implications later of under-/over-estimate.

We can expect that we’ll continue to see a doubling of cases every 6 days (this is a typical doubling time across several epidemiological studies). Here I mean actual cases. Confirmed cases may appear to rise faster in the short term due to new test kit rollouts.

We’re looking at about 1M US cases by the end of April, 2M by ~May 5, 4M by ~May 11, and so on. Exponentials are hard to grasp, but this is how they go.

As the healthcare system begins to saturate under this case load, it will become increasingly hard to detect, track, and contain new transmission chains. In absence of extreme interventions, this likely won’t slow significantly until hitting >>1% of susceptible population.

What does a case load of this size mean for healthcare system? We’ll examine just two factors — hospital beds and masks — among many, many other things that will be impacted.

The US has about 2.8 hospital beds per 1000 people. With a population of 330M, this is ~1M beds. At any given time, 65% of those beds are already occupied. That leaves about 330k beds available nationwide (perhaps a bit fewer this time of year with regular flu season, etc).

Let’s trust Italy’s numbers and assume that about 10% of cases are serious enough to require hospitalization. (Keep in mind that for many patients, hospitalization lasts for weeks — in other words, turnover will be very slow as beds fill with COVID19 patients).

By this estimate, by about May 8th, all open hospital beds in the US will be filled. (This says nothing, of course, about whether these beds are suitable for isolation of patients with a highly infectious virus.)

If we’re wrong by a factor of two regarding the fraction of severe cases, that only changes the timeline of bed saturation by 6 days in either direction. If 20% of cases require hospitalization, we run out of beds by ~May 2nd.

If only 5% of cases require it, we can make it until ~May 14th. 2.5% gets us to May 20th. This, of course, assumes that there is no uptick in demand for beds from other (non-COVID19) causes, which seems like a dubious assumption.

As healthcare system becomes increasingly burdened, Rx shortages, etc, people w/ chronic conditions that are normally well-managed may find themselves slipping into severe states of medical distress requiring intensive care & hospitalization. But let’s ignore that for now.

Alright, so that’s beds. Now masks. Feds say we have a national stockpile of 12M N95 masks and 30M surgical masks (which are not ideal, but better than nothing).

There are about 18M healthcare workers in the US. Let’s assume only 6M HCW are working on any given day. (This is likely an underestimate as most people work most days of the week, but again, I’m playing conservative at every turn.)

As COVID19 cases saturate virtually every state and county, which seems likely to happen any day now, it will soon be irresponsible for all HCWs to not wear a mask. These HCWs would burn through N95 stockpile in 2 days if each HCW only got ONE mask per day.

One per day would be neither sanitary nor pragmatic, though this is indeed what we saw in Wuhan, with HCWs collapsing on their shift from dehydration because they were trying to avoid changing their PPE suits as they cannot be reused.

How quickly could we ramp up production of new masks? Not very fast at all. The vast majority are manufactured overseas, almost all in China. Even when manufactured here in US, the raw materials are predominantly from overseas… again, predominantly from China.

Keep in mind that all countries globally will be going through the exact same crises and shortages simultaneously. We can’t force trade in our favor.

Now consider how these 2 factors – bed and mask shortages – compound each other’s severity. Full hospitals + few masks + HCWs running around between beds without proper PPE = very bad mix.

HCWs are already getting infected even w/ access to full PPE. In the face of PPE limitations this severe, it’s only a matter of time. HCWs will start dropping from the workforce for weeks at a time, leading to a shortage of HCWs that then further compounds both issues above.

We could go on and on about thousands of factors – # of ventilators, or even simple things like saline drip bags. You see where this is going.

Importantly, I cannot stress this enough: even if I’m wrong – even VERY wrong – about core assumptions like % of severe cases or current case #, it only changes the timeline by days or weeks. This is how exponential growth in an immunologically naïve population works.

Undeserved panic does no one any good. But neither does ill-informed complacency. It’s wrong to assuage the public by saying “only 2% will die.” People aren’t adequately grasping the national and global systemic burden wrought by this swift-moving of a disease.

I’m an engineer. This is what my mind does all day: I run back-of-the-envelope calculations to try to estimate order-of-magnitude impacts. I’ve been on high alarm about this disease since ~Jan 19 after reading clinical indicators in the first papers emerging from Wuhan.

Nothing in the last 6 weeks has dampened my alarm in the slightest. To the contrary, we’re seeing abject refusal of many countries to adequately respond or prepare. Of course some of these estimates will be wrong, even substantially wrong.

But I have no reason to think they’ll be orders-of-magnitude wrong. Even if your personal risk of death is very, very low, don’t mock decisions like canceling events or closing workplaces as undue “panic”.

These measures are the bare minimum we should be doing to try to shift the peak – to slow the rise in cases so that healthcare systems are less overwhelmed. Each day that we can delay an extra case is a big win for the HC system.

And yes, you really should prepare to buckle down for a bit. All services and supply chains will be impacted. Why risk the stress of being ill-prepared?

Worst case, I’m massively wrong and you now have a huge bag of rice and black beans to burn through over the next few months and enough Robitussin to trip out.

One more thought: you’ve probably seen multiple respected epidemiologists have estimated that 20-70% of world will be infected within the next year. If you use 6-day doubling rate I mentioned above, we land at ~2-6 billion infected by sometime in July of this year.

Obviously I think the doubling time will start to slow once a sizeable fraction of the population has been infected, simply because of herd immunity and a smaller susceptible population.

But take the scenarios above (full beds, no PPE, etc, at just 1% of the US population infected) and stretch them out over just a couple extra months.

That timeline roughly fits with consensus end-game numbers from these highly esteemed epidemiologists. Again, we’re talking about discrepancies of mere days or weeks one direction or another, but not disagreements in the overall magnitude of the challenge.

This is not some hypothetical, fear-mongering, worst-case scenario. This is reality, as far as anyone can tell with the current available data.

What the Fukushima meltdowns taught us about how to respond to coronavirus

0DF1D477 44EB 4152 A8E3 6F1B3EE592FC 2Azby Brown and Sean Bonner writing in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:

‘Since the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, Safecast—a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization that enables individuals to share radiation measurements and other data—has accumulated a lot of experience and insight about trust, crisis communication, public perception, and what happens when people feel threatened by a lack of reliable information. As our team at Safecast observes the global spread of the coronavirus and the poor responses to it, we can’t help but feel a strong sense of déjà vu….’

Happy Pi Day. Can You Calculate Pi by Drawing a Circle?

Science picircledefVia WIRED:

‘…the US is pretty much the only place that uses the middle-endian date format of month/day/year. If you go with the little-endian format of day/month/year, then today is 14/3—which is obviously not pi. (In that case I suggest July 22, since the fraction 7/22 is a fairly decent approximation for pi.)

Anyway, my traditional way of celebrating Pi Day is to find a new way each year of calculating a numerical value for pi. It’s just what I do. I’ve been at this for quite some time now, so here are some of my favorites:

Finding pi using random numbers (and Python)

Determining the value of pi using a mass oscillating on a spring

Actually measuring the circumference and diameter of real circles I have even more Pi Day posts here.

But now let’s try this a new way. Let’s see how close we can get to pi by drawing a circle.

Here’s how this will work. You draw a circle. From that circle, you can determine both the circumference and the radius. Then the value of pi would be the circumference divided by twice the radius. Simple, right?…’

Young and Unafraid of the Coronavirus Pandemic? Good for You. Now Stop Killing People

A senior doctor in a major European hospital writing in Newsweek Opinion:

‘Fatality is the wrong yardstick. Catching the virus can mess up your life in many, many more ways than just straight-up killing you. “We are all young”—okay. “Even if we get the bug, we will survive”—fantastic. How about needing four months of physical therapy before you even feel human again. Or getting scar tissue in your lungs and having your activity level restricted for the rest of your life. Not to mention having every chance of catching another bug in hospital, while you’re being treated or waiting to get checked with an immune system distracted even by the false alarm of an ordinary flu. No travel for leisure or business is worth this risk.

 

Now, odds are, you might catch coronavirus and might not even get symptoms. Great. Good for you. Very bad for everyone else, from your own grandparents to the random older person who got on the subway train a stop or two after you got off. You’re fine, you’re barely even sneezing or coughing, but you’re walking around and you kill a couple of old ladies without even knowing it. Is that fair? You tell me.

 

My personal as well as professional view: we all have a duty to stay put, except for very special reasons, like, you go to work because you work in healthcare, or you have to save a life and bring someone to hospital, or go out to shop for food so you can survive. But when we get to this stage of a pandemic, it’s really important not to spread the bug. The only thing that helps is social restriction. Ideally, the government should issue that instruction and provide a financial fallback—compensate business owners, ease the financial load on everyone as much as possible and reduce the incentive of risking your life or the lives of others just to make ends meet. But if your government or company is slow on the uptake, don’t be that person. Take responsibility. For all but essential movement, restrict yourself.

 

This is epidemiology 101. It really sucks. It is extreme—but luckily, we don’t have pandemics of this violence every year. So sit it out. Stay put. Don’t travel. It is absolutely not worth it.

 

It’s the civic and moral duty of every person, everywhere, to take part in the global effort to reduce this threat to humanity. To postpone any movement or travel that are not vitally essential, and to spread the disease as little as possible. Have your fun in June, July and August when this—hopefully—is over. Stay safe. Good luck.’

How to protect the 2020 election from coronavirus.

8e807f09 6be1 4b66 8e0a 09829f467da3Richard L. Hasen writing in Slate:

‘Most immediately, in light of the uncertain time frame for disruption of life and political activities due to the coronavirus, Congress should pass a law requiring states to offer no-excuse absentee balloting for the November elections. Congress has the power to do so, and it should fully fund the efforts. The bill has to be drafted carefully to protect all voters. But time is short. For this to happen, it must happen quickly….’

Modernizing Meat Production Will Help Us Avoid Pandemics

OpEd plantburger 1093918160Liz Specht writing in WIRED:

‘In addition to trying to round up the latest stampeding pandemic, we need to examine the circumstances that enable these zoonotic diseases to leap from another species to humans. Fortunately, we now know the circumstances that give rise to zoonotic outbreaks, and we have the technology to vastly reduce this risk by modernizing our food system….’

Covid-19 Is Nothing Like the Spanish Flu

Ideas spanishflu 613476154 2Via WIRED:

‘Some experts have emphasized the difficulty of calculating the fatality rate of an emerging pandemic, explaining that current estimates are biased by a deficit of testing and by the lag time between onset of illness and death. Despite this counsel, news coverage and social media discourse has obsessed over CFRs and how they compare across pandemics throughout history. A popular refrain is that the new coronavirus has a frighteningly high fatality rate of at least 2 percent, which is supposedly comparable to that of the 1918 influenza pandemic, also known as the Spanish flu—one of the deadliest viral outbreaks in history. The truth is that this comparison is severely flawed and that the numbers it relies on are almost certainly wrong….’

Via Covid–19 Is Nothing Like the Spanish Flu | WIRED

Potential treatment for Lyme disease kills bacteria that may cause lingering symptoms

Lyme disease antibiotics neuroscienewsNeuroscience News:

‘For decades, the routine treatment for Lyme disease has been standard antibiotics, which usually kill off the infection. But for up to 20% of people with the tick-borne illness, the antibiotics don’t work, and lingering symptoms of muscle pain, fatigue and cognitive impairment can continue for years — sometimes indefinitely.

A new Stanford Medicine study in lab dishes and mice provides evidence that the drug azlocillin completely kills off the disease-causing bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi at the onset of the illness. The study suggests it could also be effective for treating patients infected with drug-tolerant bacteria that may cause lingering symptoms.

“This compound is just amazing,” said Jayakumar Rajadas, PhD, assistant professor of medicine and director of the Biomaterials and Advanced Drug Delivery Laboratory at the Stanford School of Medicine. “It clears the infection without a lot of side effects. We are hoping to repurpose it as an oral treatment for Lyme disease.” Rajadas is the senior author of the study, which was published online March 2 in Scientific Reports. The lead author is research associate Venkata Raveendra Pothineni, PhD….’

I’m not an infectious disease expert but I’m pretty sure this is a ridiculous puff piece. For one thing, any novel antibiotic to which an organism is sensitive will show spectacular results at the outset, until the bacteria develop resistance. The use-it-or-lose-it school of thought about new drugs contrasts dramatically with the need to avoid indiscriminate overuse of any agent to preserve it against breeding resistant strains.

Secondly, Pothineni and Rajadas have patented the compound and stand to profit from its success. If I were them, I would continue to quickly flood the media with claims about how freakin’ spectacular this medication is so they can sell the rights to Big Pharma for a killing before it stops working.

You have got to wonder about researchers would would patent an exciting new breakthrough for a rare disease causing great suffering, which would drastically inflate the cost either to the sufferer or her insurance company. 

Finally, buried in the piece is a crucial observation, which many medical thinkers find credible, that, after the initial infectious course, persistent symptoms when Lyme disease becomes chronic are due not to a continued infectious process from persistent bacterial presence in the body but from the body’s persisting autoimmune reaction to first exposure to the bacteria, causing persistent inflammation whether the bacteria have been eradicated from the body or not. Autoimmune inflammation vs. continued infection — antibiotics would be useless against the former. 

Stenness

UntitledImageJim Richardson writing in Instagram:

‘When the moonlight shines down on the Stones of Stenness, it’s no wonder people have been drawn to this place for 5,000 years. Five of the original 12 or so stones still stand, but the henge (surrounding ditch) is gone. This stone circle is thought to be the oldest in the British Isles. (This is possibly where the Stonehenge folk got the idea.) The Watchstone is only a couple hundred yards away, about the same distance as the Barnhouse Settlement to the north. One can imagine people bringing the bones of their ancestors here before taking them on to the Maeshowe tomb less than a mile away. Sit here for a while and the moon can conjure magic….’

 

Eve of Destruction

A4a01f00dc7012fd1e8b89dfc66b2ef0 350x350x1PF Sloan-penned lyrics (1965):

'The eastern world it is explodin'
Violence flarin', bullets loadin'
You're old enough to kill but not for votin'
You don't believe in war, what's that gun you're totin'
And even the Jordan river has bodies floatin'
But you tell me over and over and over again my friend
Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction

Don't you understand, what I'm trying to say?
Can't you see the fears that I'm feeling today?
If the button is pushed, there's no running away
There'll be no one to save with the world in a grave
Take a look around you, boy, it's bound to scare you, boy
And you tell me over and over and over again my friend
Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction

Yeah, my blood's so mad, feels like coagulatin'
I'm sittin' here, just contemplatin'
I can't twist the truth, it knows no regulation
Handful of Senators don't pass legislation,
And marches alone can't bring integration
When human respect is disintegratin'
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin'
And you tell me over and over and over again my friend
Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction

Think of all the hate there is in Red China
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama!
Ah, you may leave here, for four days in space
But when you return, it's the same old place
The poundin' of the drums, the pride and disgrace
You can bury your dead, but don't leave a trace
Hate your next-door-neighbour, but don't forget to say grace
And you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend
You don't believe we're on the eve of destruction
No no you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction...'

Read more on Wikipedia

How Taiwan and Singapore have contained the coronavirus.

F580d895 ccaa 4ff1 bab6 100648e610c4Chloe Hadavas writing in Slate:

‘Despite being just 81 miles off the coast of China, which has more than 80,000 documented cases of COVID-19, Taiwan has managed to contain the outbreak. While South Korea and Japan, its neighbors to the north, have 7,755 and 1,277 known cases of COVID-19, respectively, Taiwan has experienced just 48 cases and one virus-related death.

So how did an island of 24 million with considerable economic, geographic, and cultural ties to China—more than 850,000 Taiwanese citizens live in mainland China, and about 400,000 more work there—manage to defy expectations and contain the outbreak, and can other countries follow suit?…’

Via How Taiwan and Singapore have contained the coronavirus.

The establishment didn’t destroy Bernie Sanders. He destroyed himself.

57a7b1bc 4c3d 4c7b 99dc 5b79ae84d1cbWilliam Saletan writing in Slate:

‘What hurt him was that Biden increased his share of the vote, while Sanders didn’t. As other candidates dropped out, their voters went to Biden, not Sanders. And one reason for this pattern is Sanders’ constant message of antagonism. He has cultivated enemies instead of friends. Now he’s paying the price…..’

Related:

He’s still in the race… but the revolution is out, Jim Newell writes in Slate:

‘He was telling Joe Biden, and other leading Democratic Party figures who are getting anxious about Sanders’ continued presence in the race, that if Biden wants the support of Sanders and the majority of young Democratic voters in the near term, he has to show them something more on the policy areas he outlined, on which many younger voters feel an urgency that’s incommensurate with the proposals the Biden campaign has thus far offered. If the race is more or less over, now the onus is on Biden to determine what kind of olive branch he’s willing to extend….’

Joe Biden has cured Democrats of their belief in a savior president.

3aa68068 bb7e 44ab 9f7e 40c0b5ec12b3Ben Mathis-Lilley writing in Slate:

‘Choosing Biden was based entirely on a theory of necessity. His flaws are evident, which is why he finished fourth and fifth in Iowa and New Hampshire. He’s still capable of delivering inspiring rhetoric but talks over himself, makes errors, and even becomes agitated when required to get into details. He’s enthusiastic when talking about Obama’s accomplishments, but presents almost no vision of what his own administration’s achievements might look like. (During a recent rally in Detroit, the section of his speech about the tangible things he’d use the presidency to do, once you subtract the parts about restoring Obama initiatives like participation in the Paris climate accords, was about as long as the one about childhood bullying under Trump.) But voters and party leaders were unable to settle on any of the many available non-Biden, non–Bernie Sanders candidates—too young, too female, too not an actual Democrat—and have decided Sanders himself is too risky despite widespread sympathy for his goals. So it’s Uncle Joe by a nose, thanks in part to the goodwill he built up under Obama and in part to all the other horses having died….’

Why it pays to be grumpy and bad-tempered

UnknownZaria Gorvett writing in BBC Future:

‘Being bad-tempered and pessimistic helps you to earn more, live longer and enjoy a healthier marriage. It’s almost enough to put a smile on the dourest of faces…

The truth is, pondering the worst has some clear advantages. Cranks may be superior negotiators, more discerning decision-makers and cut their risk of having a heart attack. Cynics can expect more stable marriages, higher earningsand longer lives – though, of course, they’ll anticipate the opposite.

Good moods on the other hand come with substantial risks – sapping your drive, dimming attention to detail and making you simultaneously gullible and selfish. Positivity is also known to encourage binge drinking, overeating and unsafe sex…’

Via BBC Future

‘Bailey’ vs. ‘blood and teeth’: The inside story of Elizabeth Warren’s collapse

90Alex Thompson writing in POLITICO:

‘Elizabeth Warren’s campaign brass realized they had bungled her budget at the worst possible time.

Several weeks before the Iowa and New Hampshire elections, they discovered their fundraising projections for the fourth quarter of 2019 were far too rosy.

Strapped for cash, the campaign didn’t have enough money to run the TV and digital ads they had originally planned for early contests as they tried to stay afloat in Iowa. Even then, they were forced to obtain a $3 million line of credit at the end of January.

The crunch was exacerbated by the disaster of the Iowa caucuses, which dominated headlines and deprived Warren and the other top three campaigns of bragging rights and a potential fundraising boost.

That was just one of several mistakes campaign officials are grappling with now as they contemplate how Warren’s once-surging campaign ended without placing above third in any of the first 18 contests. The campaign’s collapse has led to finger-pointing and self-doubt among Warren staffers and outside allies, who believe that even with the headwinds of sexism and electability she faced, the nomination was within reach.

“They chose … Bailey over ‘blood and teeth,’” said one staffer, referring to Warren’s golden retriever that the campaign made into an omnipresent prop to soften her image. “Unforgivable.” “Blood and teeth” refers to a famous Warren quote from the legislative fight over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which transformed Warren from a respected Harvard academic into a national progressive star. “My first choice is a strong consumer agency,” Warren said then. “My second choice is no agency at all and plenty of blood and teeth left on the floor.”…’

In This Is All

UntitledImageJim Holt writing in Lapham’s Quarterly:

‘Some philosophers—among them MacIntyre, Paul Ricoeur, and Charles Taylor—have insisted that if a narrative is to endow a human life with meaning, it must take the form of a quest for the good. But what makes such a quest an interesting story? There had better be some trouble in it, because that’s what drives a drama. If adversity doesn’t figure prominently in your autobiographical memories, your life narrative will be a bit insipid, and your sense of meaningfulness accordingly impaired.

The claim that big troubles are essential ingredients of a good narrative, and hence of a good life, is called by psychologists the “adversity hypothesis.” If true, this hypothesis “has profound implications for how we should live our lives,” observes the psychologist Jonathan Haidt: “It means that we should take more chances and suffer more defeats.” It also means, Haidt adds, that we should expose our children to the same….’

Coronavirus: Airlines are flying ‘ghost’ planes to keep flight slots

5e621ba3fee23d67d97d9c16Use it or lose it:

‘Airlines are running empty “ghost” flights during the coronavirus outbreak because of European rules forcing operators to run their allocated flights or risk losing their slots.
Some airlines have wasted thousands of gallons of fuel flying the empty planes into and out of Europe.
Demand for flights has collapsed worldwide, with one airline-industry group saying the outbreak could wipe out up to $113 billion in sales.
UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps wrote to flight regulators demanding that the “use it or lose it” rules be suspended to stop the ghost flights….’

Via Business Insider

What would happen if daylight saving time were abolished? Or if it were extended forever?

Brian Resnick writing in ‘8 things to know about “springing forward” ‘:

‘It’s worth thinking about what would happen if Congress abolished daylight saving time (or kept it going all year long).

How might our patterns change? Blogger and cartographer Andy Woodruff decided to visualize this with a great series of maps.

The goal of these maps is to show how abolishing daylight saving time, extending it all year, or going with the status quo changes the number of days we have “reasonable” sunrise and sunset times.

Reasonable, as defined by Woodruff, is the sun rising at 7 am or earlier or setting after 5 pm (so one could, conceivably, spend some time in the sun before or after work).

This is what the map looks like under the status quo of twice-yearly clock shifts. A lot of people have unreasonable sunrise times (the dark spots) for much of the year:

Currently observed

 

Here’s how things would change if daylight saving were abolished (that is, if we just stuck to the time set in the winter all year). It’s better, particularly on the sunrise end:

Abolished pngAnd here’s what would happen if daylight saving were always in effect. The sunrise situation would actually be worse for most people. But many more people would enjoy after-work light — and there’s a strong argument to make that this after-work light is actually worth more. (More on that below.)

Alwaysineffect png (Note: The length of light we experience each day wouldn’t actually change; that’s determined by the tilt of Earth’s axis. But we would experience it in times more accommodating for our modern world. Be sure to check out the interactive version of these maps on Woodruff’s website.)

In 2015, Stromberg made the compelling case that the daylight saving time shift into the evening should be extended year-round. Having more light later could benefit us in a surprising number of ways:

  • People engage in more leisure activities after work than beforehand, so we’d likely do more physical activity over sedentary leisure activities. Relatedly, studies show that kids get more exercise when the sun is out later in the evening.
  • Stromberg also cites some evidence that robberies decrease when there’s more sun in the evening hours.
  • There could be economic gains, since people “take short trips, and buy things after work — but not before — so a longer DST slightly increases sales,” he writes….’

Via Vox

The Elizabeth Warren example

UntitledImage‘If women can’t be elected president in America, it’s up to men to help prepare us for female leadership. Rather than obsess over who Warren will endorse, let’s see Biden and Sanders lift up her ideas and principles…’

Via Rolling Stone

How to stop touching your face

Unknown‘We know it’s hard. Try these four tricks to help limit the number of times you touch your face each day to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus….’

Via New York Times

…Keep a box of tisues handy, identify triggers, keep your hands busy, and chill out in general!

Strongest evidence so far that US is botching Corona testing

UnknownAlexis Madrigal:

‘It’s one of the most urgent questions in the United States right now: How many people have actually been tested for the coronavirus?

This number would give a sense of how widespread the disease is, and how forceful a response to it the United States is mustering. But for days, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has refused to publish such a count, despite public anxiety and criticism from Congress. On Monday, Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, estimated that “by the end of this week, close to a million tests will be able to be performed” in the United States. On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence promised that “roughly 1.5 million tests” would be available this week.

But the number of tests performed across the country has fallen far short of those projections, despite extraordinarily high demand…’

Via The Atlantic

R.I.P. McCoy Tyner 1938-2020


Mccoy tyner press crop

‘McCoy Tyner, a cornerstone of John Coltrane’s groundbreaking 1960s quartet and one of the most influential pianists in jazz history, died on Friday at his home in northern New Jersey. He was 81…

Along with Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and only a few others, Mr. Tyner was one of the main expressways of modern jazz piano. Nearly every jazz pianist since Mr. Tyner’s years with Coltrane has had to learn his lessons, whether they ultimately discarded them or not….’

Via New York Times

 

Got a medical question? Ask Dr Trump!

UnknownDana Milbank:

‘Do you have a nagging medical concern? A rash that won’t go away? Unexplained hearing loss? Are you currently bleeding out from a severed femoral artery?

Well, fret no more. America now has a leading medical expert — some say the best — who will dispense diagnoses and prognoses to all — for free! This bold new telemedicine initiative, “Ask Dr. Trump,” will be offered on an unpredictable but highly frequent basis to all Americans (whether they like it or not).

Dr. Donald J. Trump, of course, is the pioneering scientist who first determined that climate change is a hoax and, more recently, discovered that windmills cause cancer. In between, he proved that forest fires could be contained by “raking” and identified a previously unrecognized tropical cyclone pattern targeting Alabama.

Dr. Trump acquired what he calls “a natural instinct for science” not through formal education but because “my uncle was a great professor at MIT for many years.” Sadly, the elder Trump didn’t live to see his nephew’s greatest discoveries in the medical field: The flu shot is basically “injecting bad stuff into your body” and exercise can shorten your life. Dr. Trump used his instinctive grasp of medicine to become “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency” with an innate life expectancy of 200 years.

To the relief of millions, this extremely stable genius has turned to the challenge of solving the novel coronavirus, or as Dr. Trump spells it in the Latin, “Caronavirus.” Early on in the outbreak, Dr. Trump was among the first to determine that the virus “miraculously goes away” in April. Dr. Trump’s pathbreaking epidemiology enabled him to determine that the World Health Organization’s report that 3.4 percent of “reported” cases of the virus have died is a “false number.” Trump’s research, based extensively on “my hunch,” puts the true figure at “way under 1 percent.”

Related research by Dr. Trump found spread of the virus is not “inevitable,” that cases in the United States are “going very substantially down” — and that they “are all getting better.” This informed Dr. Trump’s reclassification of the coronavirus as a “new hoax” by Democrats — though he later clarified that the illness itself was not the hoax, only Democrats’ attempts to blame him.

In fact, Dr. Trump’s DNA research has determined that neither he nor bats nor pangolins caused the virus’s spread but rather President Barack Obama. “The Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we’re doing,” Trump disclosed, a finding that eluded experts.

Given the reduced virulence that Dr. Trump discovered, he concluded there could be “hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work” — though he “NEVER said people that are feeling sick should go to work.” But even if they did, Dr. Trump’s pharmaceutical advances have put us “very close to a vaccine,” within “months” — about a year ahead of other experts’ forecasts.

This breakthrough is possible because while other medical authorities have classified coronavirus as “novel,” Dr. Trump has determined that “this is a flu” and he renamed it the “corona flu.” Therefore he suspects that “a solid flu vaccine” would have efficacy, and “we’ll essentially have a flu shot for this.”

Now that Dr. Trump has beaten the virus and sent the sick back to work, it would be a tragedy to waste his medical expertise. Hence, the demand for an “Ask Dr. Trump” column, which should go something like this:

A reader asks: Dr. Trump, the left side of my body has gone numb and immobile. What should I do?

Dr. Trump replies: If you are healthy, you will probably go through a process and you’ll be fine.

A reader asks: Dr. Trump, I am experiencing chest pains and shortness of breath. Should I call 911?

Dr. Trump replies: It’s very seasonal. It’s like a flu. And it is a little bit different, but in some ways it’s easier and in some ways it’s a little bit tougher. But we have it so well under control.

A reader asks: Dr. Trump, my mother is in a persistent vegetative state. Should I continue life support?

Dr. Trump replies: That’s a problem that’s going to go away. People get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work.

A reader asks: Dr. Trump, we’ve got a mass casualty situation at the ER. Can you advise us on triage?

Dr. Trump replies: When somebody sneezes — I mean, I try to bail out as much as possible. Hey — did you get a flu shot?…’

Via Washington Post

In Svalbard…

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’Ansel Adams once said “There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.” Incredible words by an incredible man. I could not agree more, which is why I use my photos to tell important stories. For me, the stories of climate change behind my photographs are anything but fuzzy. Although my fine art depicts remote beauty from some of the farthest corners of the world, it also tells a story of a planet in need of our love and protection.…’

Paul Nicklen

As the climate crisis grows, I find no more heartbreaking images than Nicklen’s documents of polar bears on claustrophobic minuscule remnants of their habitats. These majestic innocents and so many others do not deserve what we fucking humans are doing to them. 

Why did the bubonic plague spare Milan and Poland?

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’Isolation plus quarantine certainly helped spare Poland from the worst of the epidemic. One more spurious explanation is that Poland had more cats than other parts of Europe, and thus less disease-carrying rats…

…So, what’s the lesson, if any? Isolation definitely helps against infectious diseases. But that’s about the only advantage of being isolated. Take this map of the spread of COVID–19 as of 11 am on 5 March. If you had to divide the world into ‘fun’ and ‘no fun’ halves, they would correspond quite well with the blue and grey zones on this map, respectively.

For example, one sure-fire way to limit your exposure to the outside world is to have a bloody civil war – see Yemen, Libya and Syria. Another is to be a destination as out of the way and unconnected as Paraguay, the Central African Republic or Mongolia.

If it’s the price of living in an interconnected world, then perhaps there are worse things than having to fight off a slightly deadlier iteration of the flu. Praise globalization and pass the hand sanitizer…’

Via Big Think

Trump will fire Pence on July 16, 2020

CNN political analyst Paul Begala says he will bring Nikki Haley onto his ticket:

Nikki Haley official photo’Trump set up Pence to fail as Coronavirus prayer-in-chief to give him reason to dump him and make Nikki Haley his VP to win the “suburban moms” vote, said CNN political analyst Paul Begala. Speaking at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference, Begala said this declaration is “guaranteed” and “not a prediction.”

He even named an exact date: Thursday, July 16.

“That’s the date the Democrat gives her or his acceptance address,” Begala said on Monday. “On that day, to interrupt that narrative, Donald Trump will call a press conference at Mar-a-Lago.”

And that’s when Pence will be toast.

“He’s going to dump Mike Pence and put Nikki Haley on the ticket to try to get those suburban moms,” Begala said. “You watch. Guaranteed.”…’

Via Boing Boing

Why it’s so difficult to stop touching your face

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’A 2015 study found that we touch our face an average of two dozen times an hour, and 44 percent of that touching involves contact with eyes, nose or mouth.

Like all our habits, touching our face has been reinforced over time: It begins with an itch or an irritation, which feels better, temporarily, when scratched or rubbed. That reaction then becomes a tic, Sawyer said.
But passing unseen are the legions of germs living on your hands — picked up from your phone, keyboard, a doorknob or elsewhere — hitching a ride on the way to your throat, sinuses and lungs.

Not touching your facial mucous membranes, an area known as the “T-zone,” is perhaps the most important step you can take to prevent an infection, Sawyer said.

“It’s the one behavior that would be better than any vaccine ever created,” he said. “Just stop this simple behavior. Stop picking, licking, biting, rubbing — it’s the most effective way to prevent a pandemic…’

Via Washington Post

Coronavirus Epidemic: Gift for Would-Be Dictators

UnknownOf the lessons of the virus, some are epidemiological but many are political:

‘The highly repressive Chinese Communist Party, after arresting and intimidating whistleblowers early in the outbreak, has since won acclaim from the World Health Organization for imposing draconian quarantines on tens of millions of people. This weekend, South Korea went on high alert, preparing to take what may be similar measures. Italy—Italy!—has locked down 50,000 people, with more restrictions expected soon.

Short of war, it’s hard to imagine more unlimited license for autocracy than the kind of plague spreading around the world right now. …’

Via Daily Beast