covid-19 (38)

Biological Fukushima...

8914834466?profile=RESIZE_584x

Residents of the Pairaisopolis favela in Sao Paolo wait for meal distribution in the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic. Credit: Alexandre Schneider Getty Images

 

Topics: Biology, COVID-19, Existentialism, Pandemic

 

Note: Many stories are coming out of Seychelles. It is the most vaccinated nation on earth that is seeing rising cases of the Coronavirus due to tourism by Indian elites. We're not going to solve this piecemeal, nor treating each other in our backward, moribund tribal "traditions." This fight is a long haul, and hubris can make it longer, and more painful.

 

To be in Brazil right now feels like being trapped in the middle of a chaotic battlefield, a 14-month-long siege, without anyone in charge on your side of the trenches. Totally surrounded by a lethal enemy that keeps getting closer to you and your family. This biological foe keeps morphing in a way that seems well adapted to infect everyone within reach, showing mercy neither for pregnant women nor for their newborn babies.

 

After 12 months of such brutal biological warfare, more than 390,000 Brazilians have perished; the number of fatalities climbed to more than 4,000 fatalities a day in early April, and the number of new cases per day edged above 100,000, filling hospitals to capacity with tens of thousands of terminally ill patients who occupy all available ICU beds in a country that has one of the largest national public health systems in the world and more hospitals than the U.S. Such a steady tsunami of severely sick patients has led to an unprecedented collapse of the entire country’s health system and the setting of yet another pair of world records in terms of both infected and deceased health professionals. On top of that, the country’s stock of medical equipment and the supplies required to intubate patients in need of respirators to survive are running at a historic low and may run out completely because the federal government simply failed in the process of replenishing the national stockpile several months ago.

 

This, in a nutshell, is the catastrophic and unprecedented hecatomb that Brazil found itself locked in by mid-April 2021. A devastating second wave of the pandemic began to engulf all five regions of the country back in early November 2020. It resulted, in part, from the premature and chaotic relaxation of social isolation measures that had helped at least some regions of the country contain the worst of the initial phase of the pandemic. It worsened because of the large public political rallies that preceded the two rounds of the 2020 national elections, generating a multitude of super spreader events all over the country. And the situation was exacerbated by Christmas and Carnival, the largest national festivity.

 

Brazil’s Pandemic Is a ‘Biological Fukushima’ That Threatens the Entire Planet, By Miguel Nicolelis, Scientific American

 

 

Read more…

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics...

8776747258?profile=RESIZE_584x

Which states have dropped mask mandates and why, Marlene Lenthang, Yahoo News

Topics: Biology, COVID-19, Dark Humor, Existentialism, Mathematics, Politics

Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

Mark Twain, also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lies,_damned_lies,_and_statistics

A follow-up to Tuesday's post: VOC...

‘No Thank You, Mr. President’: GOP States Still End Mask Mandates Despite Covid-19 Rise And Warnings From Biden, CDC, Alison Durkee, Forbes Business, April 2, 2021

Having some "fun" with mathematics. It's dark humor for all you young libertarians.

The current US COVID deaths are 573, 988 from https://ncov2019.live/.

The current US population is 332,494,997 from Worldometers.info. Each link updates minute-by-minute, so by the time you read this, these figures will have changed.

(US COVID deaths/current US population) x 100 = 0.17%. Round up to 0.2%.

That's pretty low.

For the "freedom-loving libertarians" spring breaking in Miami, or Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Corpus Christi, Texas - a thought experiment:

100,000 of you are about to dive into the ocean.

There is a 0.2% = 0.2/100 chance some of you will get devoured by sharks.

100,000 x (0.2/100) = 200 dead spring breakers.

So, out of 100,000 - 200 = 99,800, or 99.8% have a very good chance of not becoming "chicken of the sea," and surviving your spring break. The dilemma is, there will still be blood in the water. Blood that carries pathogens that despite your "Y" swimming lessons and the saline environment, you might ingest red tide, and suffer the consequences.

The problem is, your 0.2% chance is not zero. Under normal circumstances (and pandemics are once-in-a-century "not normal"), there's no libertarian case for this:

8776751887?profile=RESIZE_584x

Read more…

VOC...

8767834492?profile=RESIZE_710x

Inside the B.1.1.7 Coronavirus Variant, By Jonathan Corum and Carl ZimmerJan, The New York Times, January 18, 2021

Topics: Biology, COVID-19, DNA, Research

VariantReported cases in the USNumber of Jurisdictions Reporting
B.1.1.716,27552
B.1.35138636
P.135625
Source: CDC

Download Accessible Data [XLS – 738 B]

CDC is closely monitoring these variants of concern (VOC). These variants have mutations in the virus genome that alter the characteristics and cause the virus to act differently in ways that are significant to public health (e.g., causes more severe disease, spreads more easily between humans, requires different treatments, changes the effectiveness of current vaccines).

CDC: US COVID-19 Cases Caused by Variants

Read more…

Mask Mandates and Starships...

8657935084?profile=RESIZE_710x

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, COVID-19, Democracy, Existentialism, Human Rights

Thank you, Reginald!

You're all signed up for "(1st Dose) COVID - 19 Vaccine Clinic."

Vaccine Appointment

03/11/2021 (Thu.) 1:45pm - 2:00pm EST

Location: NC A&T Alumni Foundation Building (200 N. Benbow Rd.)

My Comment: Older graduate student, 58 years.

Thank you for registering to receive dose 1 of the COVID-19 vaccine. Please note the following:

The instructions noted the address (I knew), where to park in proximity to the NC A&T Alumni Foundation building, instructions to enter the building from N. Benbow Road, and to bring a valid student ID. The same building I've celebrated the Greensboro Four every first of February, kicking off African American/Black History Month at the nation's largest HBCU.

My wife received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine last Saturday at the Greensboro Coliseum. It's the ten-year anniversary of the Fukushima Daichi accident. I received my first dose of the Moderna vaccine on also ironically, the first anniversary the World Health Organization declared SARS-CoV-2, the Novel Coronavirus, a worldwide pandemic.

Every STEM major student at a primary or historically black college suddenly was thrust into a world of "I Am Legend" protocols against an invisible zombie apocalypse. Navigating research to attain a Master's, or Ph.D. is challenging enough: add to it KN95 masks, 3.66 meters of social distance (12 feet, for the British unit crowd), washing hands, hand sanitizers every 10 meters, and protocol-driven digital, and analog sign-in/sign-out for contact tracing. There's also been isolation, the lack of banter with classmates, no lunches between experiments, or card games. Science is from our hunter-gatherer ancestors: it's a social exercise. Our worlds have been reduced to the dimensions of our laptop monitors, the visual cues common to hominids in conversation reduced to two-dimensional "Zoom fatigue."

To cope with the angst of "sameness," I retreated, or returned more apt and accurately, to spoken word poetry: STEM extended by one vowel is STEAM, the "A" for art, and Einstein played the violin. On Sundays, I perform for a venue in Austin, Texas that's called "Spoken and Heard," started by a friend going by the stage name "Element 615" (don't bother looking it up: it doesn't exist), managed by some poetry friends, and streamed on Facebook and YouTube via Skype. Our poetry tends to center on the topics of the recent week's news.

"Mask Mandates and Starships" was my reaction to the day before, the state of Texas lifted their statewide mask mandate. The news for Greg Abbott's re-election looked grim after botched handling of a once-in-a-hundred-years climate change event (that seems to be occurring annually). If Abbott didn't learn anything from the last administration when you can't solve a problem: bluff, blame, and deflect to something else. Gaslighting 101. It solves nothing but shows his disdain for the citizens of Texas: he really thinks they're stupid. No one rows a boat, or pilots a light sail in multiple directions. It gets you nowhere fast.

The thesis of the piece is, it will take extreme and global cooperation to build ONE vehicle capable of interstellar travel, let alone a fleet of them. The same cooperation we're going to need to get out of this pandemic. Though there is much writing of papers on the Alcubierre Drive, a breakthrough to superluminal speeds taking us to other worlds is highly unlikely. We're born, will live, and die on this one. Hopefully, so will our progeny. We still have radiation poisoning, the current, and future pandemics, climate disasters that are occurring with the frequency of subway lines in New York, or Philly. Continuation of any civilization isn't guaranteed, and discontinuations have many precedents in history.

Zoonotic diseases aren't new, and they tend to strike every one hundred years. The Great Dying was due to the introduction of things like measles, smallpox, influenza, typhus, and tuberculosis to Native American populations by the invasion of Spain and Portugal to the Americas. It is naïve, and ignorant to name any pathogen after its point of origin; racist and xenophobic to center it on one culture. It is also placing whole populations not responsible for the spread in danger of physical violence, which solves nothing. The first piece of legislation on immigration was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, meant to curb the rise in their population for ten years, signed into law by President Chester A. Arthur on May 6, 1882. This is in America's DNA. Tribalism and any other narcissistic "ism" will not save us.

Asian Americans scapegoated. Black Lives (obviously don't) Matter. The LGBT are human beings, not scarecrows hung like Matthew Shepard. Women's Rights ARE Human rights. Unless the pathogen was dropped on us from Alpha Centauri, it, and we all live here.

We either live together or die miserably, and sadly into extinction.

What if this pandemic, / Is Gia’s test / Before we leave the nest? / “In space, no one can hear [you]r screams,” / No matter replicators or Uber Eats, / No 911 to call for assistance, / No tribes to define oneself with, / No conservatives, liberals, republicans, or democrats, / The only question is, “no rescue is coming; can WE fix it?” / No poetic Latin words E Pluribus Unum, / The only governing philosophy boiled down to three letters: GSD, equaling “get shit done!” / More “final frontier” than we’ve ever been,.. from "Mask Mandates and Starships."

We conclusively know now we cannot gaslight a pandemic. 543,690 deaths, and counting. If we can't do the simple things, are we mature enough to become a space-faring species?

What if? Are we?

 We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis, the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe. Chadwick Boseman, as King T'Challa in the movie, "Black Panther" (Rest In Power), from Internet Movie Database.

Read more…

Haplotypes and Neanderthals...

8641778693?profile=RESIZE_710x

a, Manhattan plot of a genome-wide association study of 3,199 hospitalized patients with COVID-19 and 897,488 population controls. The dashed line indicates genome-wide significance (P = 5 × 10−8). Data were modified from the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative2 (https://www.covid19hg.org/). b, Linkage disequilibrium between the index risk variant (rs35044562) and genetic variants in the 1000 Genomes Project. Red circles indicate genetic variants for which the alleles are correlated to the risk variant (r2 > 0.1) and the risk alleles match the Vindija 33.19 Neanderthal genome. The core Neanderthal haplotype (r2 > 0.98) is indicated by a black bar. Some individuals carry longer Neanderthal-like haplotypes. The location of the genes in the region is indicated below using standard gene symbols. The x-axis shows hg19 coordinates.

Topics: Biology, COVID-19, Genetics, Research

Abstract

A recent genetic association study1 identified a gene cluster on chromosome 3 as a risk locus for respiratory failure after infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). A separate study (COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative)2 comprising 3,199 hospitalized patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and control individuals showed that this cluster is the major genetic risk factor for severe symptoms after SARS-CoV-2 infection and hospitalization. Here we show that the risk is conferred by a genomic segment of around 50 kilobases in size that is inherited from Neanderthals and is carried by around 50% of people in South Asia and around 16% of people in Europe.

Main

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused considerable morbidity and mortality and has resulted in the death of over a million people to date3. The clinical manifestations of the disease caused by the virus, SARS-CoV-2, vary widely in severity, ranging from no or mild symptoms to rapid progression to respiratory failure4. Early in the pandemic, it became clear that advanced age is a major risk factor, as well as being male and some co-morbidities5. These risk factors, however, do not fully explain why some people have no or mild symptoms whereas others have severe symptoms. Thus, genetic risk factors may have a role in disease progression. A previous study1 identified two genomic regions that are associated with severe COVID-19: one region on chromosome 3, which contains six genes, and one region on chromosome 9 that determines ABO blood groups. Recently, a dataset was released by the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative in which the region on chromosome 3 is the only region that is significantly associated with severe COVID-19 at the genome-wide level (Fig. 1a). The risk variant in this region confers an odds ratio for requiring hospitalization of 1.6 (95% confidence interval, 1.42–1.79) (Extended Data Fig. 1).

The genetic variants that are most associated with severe COVID-19 on chromosome 3 (45,859,651–45,909,024 (hg19)) are all in high linkage disequilibrium (LD)—that is, they are all strongly associated with each other in the population (r2 > 0.98)—and span 49.4 thousand bases (kb) (Fig. 1b). This ‘core’ haplotype is furthermore in weaker linkage disequilibrium with longer haplotypes of up to 333.8 kb (r2 > 0.32) (Extended Data Fig. 2). Some such long haplotypes have entered the human population by gene flow from Neanderthals or Denisovans, extinct hominins that contributed genetic variants to the ancestors of present-day humans around 40,000–60,000 years ago6,7. We, therefore, investigated whether the haplotype may have come from Neanderthals or Denisovans.

The major genetic risk factor for severe COVID-19 is inherited from Neanderthals, Hugo Zeberg, & Svante Pääbo, Nature

Read more…

Well Deserved...

8536765059?profile=RESIZE_710x

Anthony Fauci has advised seven presidents on public health, most recently serving as chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden. | NIAID

 

Topics: Biology, COVID-19, Research, Science

 

Anthony Fauci – Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, an expert on HIV and immunoregulation, and the de facto public face of a science-based recovery from COVID-19 – has been named the winner of the 2021 Philip Hauge Abelson Prize, awarded annually by the American Association for the Advancement of Science to a scientist or public servant who has contributed significantly to the advancement of science in the United States.

 

Fauci is “an outstanding scientist with more than a thousand publications” and “an exceptional public servant, having been at the forefront of the world’s efforts to combat diverse infectious diseases for over 40 years,” wrote Alan Leshner, former chief executive officer of AAAS, in nominating Fauci for the prize. The prize committee cited Fauci’s “extraordinary contributions to science and medicine” and his service that has shaped research and public policy.

 

Anthony Fauci to Receive 2021 AAAS Abelson Prize, Andrea Korte, American Association for the Advancement of Science

 

Read more…

The Path Forward...

8380214060?profile=RESIZE_710x

Topics: Climate Change, COVID-19, Existentialism, Science

Science, as Carl Sagan wrote, has to be our "candle in the dark."

The Scientific Method we developed as a hunter-gatherer species. The tools of hunter-gatherers were utilitarian and pragmatic. Our ancestors observed things and noticed patterns. They made mental notes of these patterns and codified them through rituals, customs, and behaviors into distinct cultures defined by these traditions. Some kept this knowledge in secret, esoteric, as any knowledge is power over others. This probably is the reason why we're so suspicious of any change in what was, or is new knowledge.

Many first-responders are BIPOC, so the resistance to it, probably from the apprehension around the Tuskegee Experiment, has an understandable history, but it's still alarming. We can wear masks. We can contact trace. We can socially distance. We can take the Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca variants of the vaccine, and mitigate this more quickly.

Or, we can guarantee after a long dark winter, a long slog through the spring, summer, and fall. Herd immunity isn't by brute force: it is intentionally engineered with vaccines.

WASHINGTON — Authorities are reporting early shipments of the COVID 19 vaccine will not cover all essential personnel who are supposed to be first in line to get it. The CDC's immunization advisory panel voted Tuesday to give the first round of COVID-19 vaccines to health care personnel and long-term care facility residents.

Hundreds of thousands of frontline medical workers are at the top of that list. But surveys are showing that not all are eager to be first.

While 63% of health care workers reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that they would accept the vaccine, the agency is concerned about the large numbers who are hesitant. The American Nurses Foundation is reporting 36% of nurses surveyed said they would not voluntarily get the COVID-19 vaccine once it's deployed.

'No one wants to be a guinea pig' | Vaccine hesitancy divides health care workers, Scott Broom, ABC10 News

Carbon sequestration involves a lot of technology, or it can involve what Earth did before we discovered technology: plant more trees.

Forty-nine million years ago, a small aquatic fern called Azolla wrested control of Earth’s climate. At the time, the landlocked Arctic Ocean developed a surface layer of fresh water, which allowed the ferns to grow unchecked in a wide-open environment. Billions of tons of plants died and sank to the bottom of the ocean, taking with them the carbon they had sucked from the air when they were alive. 

The consequences were extreme. Geologic evidence indicates that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels plummeted more than 80 percent over 800,000 years, sharply ratcheting down Earth’s thermostat. Prior to the inferred “Azolla Event,” most of the globe was lush and tropical. Afterward, the Arctic cooled by nearly 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the poles froze, and our planet entered a lurching cycle of ice ages that continues to this day. 

How to Bury Carbon? Let Plants Do the Dirty Work, Cory S. Powell, Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory

This seems simple enough, but politicians like Jair Bolsonaro apparently came to power much like our one-term Neo-fascist did: lifted to the office by right-wing Christian zealots in Brazil, particularly of the megachurch kind. From a dominionist view, carbon sequestration shows a "lack of faith." Forty-nine million years ago is a long way from a mere guestimate of ten-thousand years. Burning the Amazon, like for many cheering for Armageddon hastens the Apocalypse, and the Second Coming. It is thus, anathema.

I follow Politics and Prose on YouTube. David K. Johnston gave a speech at their bookstore some time ago on his book: "The Making of Donald Trump." Many things weren't a revelation to me, but one thing, in particular, stuck with me.

People the world over are afraid. Con artists, fascists, and strongmen play on fear.

I'm talking pre-pandemic afraid: afraid of change, afraid of diversity, afraid their particular sacred texts do not line up neatly with new scientific discoveries; afraid of their traditions being challenged in the light of Sagan's candle. Such fear gives political power to strongmen (the antonym more accurate) that assure their crowds on their rise to power that they will return those fearful of change to a "golden age of greatness," which they never really define. The other common thing is there is a scapegoated "other" on which all blame for everything wrong is laid. That is the history of the scapegoat, by the way. For humans, it leads to disdain, disregard, murder, and genocide.

For an otherwise intelligent species, that can lead to extinction.

A preprint paper in ArXiv gives the grim estimate that intelligent species over long stretches of time eventually annihilate themselves. I would really like us all to be the rare exceptions to this possible rule.

Read more…

Dark Winter, Brighter Spring...

Topics: Biology, Civics, Civil Rights, COVID-19, Existentialism, Human Rights

I have taken the following vaccines this year: Pneumonia, Seasonal Influenza (Flu), Shingles in two booster shots.

Therefore, I am very likely to take the Coronavirus vaccine either offered by Pfizer or Moderna.

Pfizer is pushing back on the Trump administration's suggestion that the company is having trouble producing its COVID-19 vaccine, saying it's ready to ship millions more doses – once the government asks for them. As the company spoke out, several states said their vaccine allocations for next week have been sharply reduced.

Here's what the key players are saying about a complicated situation:

What Pfizer says

"Pfizer is not having any production issues with our COVID-19 vaccine, and no shipments containing the vaccine are on hold or delayed," CEO Albert Bourla said via Twitter. His company says it has completed every shipment the U.S. government has requested.

"We have millions more doses sitting in our warehouse but, as of now, we have not received any shipment instructions for additional doses," Pfizer said in a statement.

The company also noted that in the past week, it shipped 2.9 million doses of the vaccine it developed with BioNTech in what is widely seen as a breakthrough in the nation's fight against the coronavirus.

Pfizer Says Millions Of Vaccine Doses Are Ready, But States Say Shipments Were Cut, Bill Chappell, NPR

Unlike the 1918 pandemic, I don't think it will take us a decade to come to some sense of normalcy. I am concerned, from a cultural perspective, that the vaccine spreads equitably.

We have a reason to be suspicious. The Tuskegee Experiment happened over four decades, affected hundreds of lives, allowing syphilis to infect men, women, and children. It makes trusting authorities with our lives a bit problematic. As I've said, if it helps anyone reading this entry, I will take the vaccine. I would like to get back to some sense of normalcy.

The revelation of the recent Russian hacks is the equivalent of a Cyber Pearl Harbor. Our nuclear triad material, three states (including Austin, Texas), the Central Intelligence Agency, Treasury, NASA, Commerce, et al. This is a stickup. Think the city, lights: sewage. Like a burglar, we could all be held hostage by a foreign power. To paraphrase a false claim attributed to Nikita Khrushchev, Putin could literally "bury us without firing a shot."

The shenanigans of the current obtuse, malignant, narcissistic, and incompetent administration will come to an end. Vaccines will go out, modeled by an incoming administration that like previous democratic ones before them, have to shovel the country out of the smoldering ruin that the previous republican one left the country in. They will, of course, delay vaccines, they will of course, try to sabotage on the way out. They are the steroids equivalent of Clinton-to-Bush removing the W keys, and costing the government approximately $15,000. It was disappointing and sophomoric. This stunt is petty, malevolent, and deadly. We have crossed the Rubicon of 300,000 dead Americans. At a rate of a 9/11 per day, we'll reach 400,000 by inauguration. Delay during a pandemic will kill more Americans, but I guess that's not a big concern to a malignant narcissist.

But I am hopeful for a brighter spring.

Mango Mussolini can do a lot of damage in 33 days, but it's 33 days at noon when he loses access to the nuclear football, he loses the presidential immunity that protects him from an indictment, not that Letitia James, Cyrus Vance, SDNY, or EDNY are bothered by his threats of family and self pardons. His crimes in New York are state felonies, likely involving inflating his wealth, or decreasing it when it suited him. We'll likely find out he's not as rich as he claims to be. He cashed a series of diminishing value checks sent as a gag by Spy Magazine, proving himself a bit player in the New York Real Estate market. He'll need every penny he's grifting from his deluded followers to stay out of prison. Not that I'm sympathetic: but grift on this constant level has to be exhausting, and depleting of finance, and bodily constitution.

The evil energizer bunny has to run out of gas sometimes. His tweets will reach a limited audience. Cities that haven't YET gotten paid for his previous rallies will refuse to book him. He's proposing bringing back The Apprentice because his "power" is his celebrity, and that dwindles quickly without cameras on you constantly. He can call it Apprentice, 2024: Finding a Vice President (a tacit admittance Pence didn't help him win re-election). Several sources say Twitter might finally remove him, not the conviction to "do the right thing," just that if his followers dwindle, they have no one to gather metadata from for marketing purposes. It's business, and a one-term president probably isn't good for the bottom-line.

That's all fine and good, Donald unless you're spending your evenings at Riker's. Maybe they'll station you at the Queens Detention Complex. He can see the old neighborhood, while the rest of us heal from his madness. We will get through this.

That's it for this year. See you in January 2021.

Read more…

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles...

8204717899?profile=RESIZE_584x

Topics: Biology, COVID-19, Research

With COVID-19 reaching the most dangerous levels the U.S. has seen since the pandemic began, the country faces a problematic holiday season. Despite the risk, many people are likely to travel using various forms of transportation that will inevitably put them in relatively close contact with others. Many transit companies have established frequent cleaning routines, but evidence suggests that airborne transmission of the novel coronavirus poses a greater danger than surfaces. The virus is thought to be spread primarily by small droplets, called aerosols, that hang in the air and larger droplets that fall to the ground within six feet or so. Although no mode of public transportation is completely safe, there are some concrete ways to reduce risk, whether on an airplane, train or bus—or even in a shared car.

At a casual glance, air travel might seem like the perfect recipe for COVID transmission: it packs dozens of people into a confined space, often for hours at a time. But many planes have excellent high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters that capture more than 99 percent of particles in the air, including microbes as SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID. When their recirculation systems are operating, most commercial passenger jets bring in outside air in a top-to-bottom direction about 20 to 30 times per hour. This results in a 50–50 mix of outside and recirculated air and reduces the potential for the airborne spread of a respiratory virus. Many airlines now require passengers to wear a mask during flights except for mealtimes, and some are blocking off middle seats to allow more distancing between people. Companies have also implemented rigorous cleaning procedures between flights. So how does this translate into overall risk?

“An airplane cabin is probably one of the most secure conditions you can be in,” says Sebastian Hoehl of the Institute for Medical Virology at Goethe University Frankfurt in Germany, who has co-authored two papers on COVID-19 transmission on specific flights, which were published in JAMA Network Open and the New England Journal of Medicine, respectfully. Still, a handful of case studies have found that limited transmission can take place on board. One such investigation of a 10-hour journey from London to Hanoi starting on March 1 found that 15 people were likely infected with COVID-19 in-flight—and that 12 of them had sat within a couple of rows of a single symptomatic passenger in business class. (The results were published this month in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.) Most of these flights occurred early on in the pandemic, however, and in the case of the March 1 flight, masks were likely not worn, the researchers wrote. Meanwhile, a recent Department of Defense study modeled the risk of in-flight infection using mannequins exhaling simulated virus particles and found that a person would have to be exposed to an infectious passenger for at least 54 hours to get an infectious dose. This finding assumes the infected passenger is wearing a surgical mask, however, and it does not account for the dangers involved in removing the mask for meals or talking or in moving about on the plane.

Evaluating COVID Risk on Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Sophie Bushwick, Tanya Lewis, Amanda Montañez, Scientific American

Read more…

COVID, and Math...

8145723683?profile=RESIZE_400x

Image Source: Link below

Topics: Biology, Chemistry, COVID-19, Mathematics, Physics

The year 2020 has been defined by the COVID-19 pandemic: The novel coronavirus responsible for it has infected millions of people and caused more than a million deaths. Like HIV, Zika, Ebola, and many influenza strains, the coronavirus made the evolutionary jump from animals to humans before wreaking widespread havoc. The battle to control it continues. When a disease outbreak is identified—usually through an anomalous spike in cases with similar symptoms—scientists rush to understand the new illness. What type of microbe causes the infection? Where did it come from? How does the infection spread? What are its symptoms? What drugs could treat it? In the current epidemic, science has proceeded at a frenetic pace. Virus genomes are quickly sequenced and analyzed, case and death numbers are visualized daily, and hundreds of preprints are shared every day.

Some scientists rush for their microscopes and lab coats to study a new infection; others leap for their calculators and code. A handful of metrics can characterize a new outbreak, guide public health responses, and inform complex models that can forecast the epidemic’s trajectory. Infectious disease epidemiologists, mathematical biologists, biostatisticians, and others with similar expertise try to answer several questions: How quickly is the infection spreading? What fraction of transmission must be blocked to control the spread? How long is someone infectious? How likely are infected people to be hospitalized or die?

Physics is often considered the most mathematical science, but theory and rigorous mathematical analysis also underlie ecology, evolutionary biology, and epidemiology.1 Ideas and people constantly flow between physics and those fields. In fact, the idea of using mathematics to understand infectious disease spread is older than germ theory itself. Daniel Bernoulli of fluid-mechanics fame devised a model to predict the benefit of smallpox inoculations2 in 1760, and Nobel Prize-winning physician Ronald Ross created mathematical models to encourage the use of mosquito control to reduce malaria transmission.3 Some of today’s most prolific infectious disease modelers originally trained as physicists, including Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, an adviser to the UK government on its COVID-19 response, and Vittoria Colizza of Sorbonne University in Paris, a leader in network modeling of disease spread.

This article introduces the essential mathematical quantities that characterize an outbreak, summarizes how scientists calculate those numbers, and clarify the nuances in interpreting them. For COVID-19, estimates of those quantities are being shared, debated, and updated daily. Physicists are used to distilling real-world complexity into meaningful, parsimonious models, and they can serve as allies in communicating those ideas to the public.

The math behind epidemics, Alison Hill, Physics Today

Alison Hill is an assistant professor in the Institute for Computational Medicine and the infectious disease dynamics group at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. She is also a visiting scholar at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Read more…

Stockholm, and Munchausen...

8129089279?profile=RESIZE_710x

This map shows how the US really has 11 separate 'nations' with entirely different cultures, Andy Kiersz and Marguerite Ward, Business Insider

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, COVID-19, Human Rights, Politics

 

Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response. It occurs when hostages or abuse victims bond with their captors or abusers. This psychological connection develops over the course of the days, weeks, months, or even years of captivity or abuse.

 

Ref: https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/stockholm-syndrome#definition

 

Munchausen syndrome by proxy is a mental illness and a form of child abuse. The caretaker of a child, most often a mother, either makes up fake symptoms or causes real symptoms to make it look like the child is sick.

 

Ref: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001555.htm

 

Let's face it: this nation has always been in a Cold Civil War since 1865. We're eleven countries with distinct ways of digesting the news media. Social media is a means to hack our minds into silos. We're on separate mental continents. "United States" is an oxymoron and cosmic tragicomedy. We're more like fractured states with fifty different opinions.

 

The Stockholm tribe drank the kool-aid with Jim Jones. They are unfazed in their chosen Twilight Zone dimension, and totally nonplussed why we can't understand their secret, klansman decoder ring Morse code. They have waited forty years for "trickledown" to actually work, and like Jed Clampett, make them Beverly Hills billionaire hillbillies. Cigarettes don't cause cancer, climate change is a Chinese hoax; vaccines cause autism, gravity can be overcome with the power of positive thinking, huckster name-it-and-claim-it faith healers can blow COVID away, and Hillary is head of a flesh-eating, pedophile cult that an orange faux billionaire is going to save us all from, exposing the "deep state." Logic doesn't work with these people. You can't tell them anything. They're lemmings in suicide vests, to quote MSNBC's, Chris Hayes. They are the 69,151,070 that think the last four years of caged children, attempted Muslim bands, selling out our soldiers in Afghanistan, 230,000+ dead and climbing, lying like he breaths and farts, breaking every commandment and law is EXACTLY what they want four more years (or, more) of!

 

The Munchausen crew watches reruns of OG Star Trek, Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, the new Discovery series, even though we know warp drive is by Einstein impossible, but it's cool to think we might live beyond our hubris, homophobia, racism, misogyny, sexism, and stupidity maybe repairing the damage to the planet's environment without killing ourselves. We balance fantasy with the scientifically-accurate Expanse. We typically were the science nerds, poets and artists shoved into lockers, harassed by the "cool kids," male or female, sometimes experiencing violence. We find ourselves in a perpetual, near-ending, abusive relationship with the Stockholm click, wondering why our rational outlines of thought and snappy repartee on Twitter hasn't totally shut down and shamed the inmates at Arkham. 73,050,225 of us are holding our breaths and praying that the electoral college doesn't screw us over this time, like the principal ignoring the bullies that harassed us.

 

Sensing he just might not be able to gaslight, steal, sue, whine, or slump across the victory line to "own the libs," or stay out of prison, Biff Tannen has come up with a "plan B" to continue trolling humanity until his last breath (if he's not arrested), or at some point when trans fat from fast food, and Darwin do their necessary work.

 

Read more…

Communication...

8128336890?profile=RESIZE_400x

Topics: Biology, COVID-19, Politics, Research

Living through a pandemic has resulted in phrases like RT-PCR, immune response, and aerosolized droplets becoming part of the regular vocabulary for a portion of the population. It has also underscored the important role that we all have to play as scientists in communicating science to the public. As research related to COVID-19 has moved forward at unprecedented rates, misinformation has also multiplied and spread at a terrifying pace. And no matter where you stand politically, all of this happening in an election year for the US further underscores the ways in which science has become an increasingly partisan issue.

Did I mention that the holidays are also approaching? While gatherings of family and friends may look different this year, you may still be anticipating a challenging conversation over a holiday meal with someone who has different viewpoints from yours.

Our situation comes with innumerable challenges. However, it also provides an opportunity for scientists to make a powerful contribution to society and demonstrate the value of science education. Whether or not you are engaging in research directly related to COVID-19, you can help those around you separate facts from myths, interpret the data that are available, and make better-informed decisions.

This realization occurred to me this spring. As positive cases of COVID-19 were just starting to appear in the US, I found myself talking to my physical therapist about the virus and potential treatments. Although I don’t work in drug development, I understand enough of the chemistry to know how nucleoside analogs such as the drug remdesivir function. I excitedly explained how viruses are sloppier than normal human cells when replicating their genomes and how researchers can capitalize on this to make drugs. A few days later, I found myself having a similar conversation with my mom. I wasn’t in a place to predict the efficacy of any drug, but I could at least explain why antivirals like remdesivir had a shot at working, while hydroxychloroquine was less promising. After these two conversations, it struck me that I could also share this knowledge with a broader population on social media.

Science communication is a skill that takes practice to develop, and I am still learning and growing. The stakes couldn’t be higher, but the important part is that any scientist can build this capability to communicate effectively.

We’re all science communicators. Here’s how to do it better, Jen Heemstra, Chemical & Engineering News

Read more…

Clusters...

8102419100?profile=RESIZE_710x

Image Source: Link below

Topics: Biology, COVID-19, Research

Continued: It triggered a big outbreak. At least 97 people who attended the conference, or lived in a household with someone who did, tested positive.

The Biogen meeting had become a superspreading event. Eventually, the virus spread from the meeting across Massachusetts and to other states. A recent study estimates it led to tens of thousands of cases in the Boston area alone.

Superspreading

COVID-19 superspreading events have been reported around the world. They happen in all sorts of places: bars and barbecues, gyms and factories, schools and churches, and on ships.

And even at the White House.

But why do these disease clusters occur—and why are they so important?

The reproduction rate

COVID-19 and many other diseases transmit from person to person. The reproduction rate, R, determines how fast a disease can spread.

R denotes the number of people infected, on average, by a single infected person. If R is 2, the number of cases doubles in every generation: from one infected person to two, to four, to eight, and so on.

The Science of Superspreading, Martin Enserink, Kai Kupferschmidt, and Nirja Desai, Science Magazine

Read more…

Q & A...

8095621684?profile=RESIZE_584x

Environmentalists Against War: Don’t Let Our ‘Hair-trigger President’ Start a Nuclear WarAmy Goodman and Denis Moynihan / Democracy Now! and King Features Syndicate

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, COVID-19, Fascism, Human Rights

 

Why are the republicans behaving so irrationally?

 

It depends on what you mean by "irrational." Paul Weyrich gave away the game in the 1980s.

 

"I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of the people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."

 

Well now, they cut cables for online voter registration machines in Virginia, they post fake boxes to harvest absentee votes in California (FOX, pointed this out, no less), they restrict counties to ONE drop-off box and restrict drive-through voting in Texas during a pandemic; they sue to not count, or ironically, segregate mail-in ballots after election day, and only want the votes counted ON election day, as that will favor republicans. For a criminal enterprise masquerading as a political party, everything is consistent with Weyrich's thesis.

 

Who is going to win the election?

 

I know who I voted for, and who I DON'T want to win the election, or in his case: steal it. Allan Lichtman and Rachel Bitecofer both keep me somewhat sane.

 

Whoever is the next president has about 8 years before there is no hope of dealing with the effects of climate change, that the fossil fuels industry has known about since the late FIFTIES, they just started covering it up in the seventies. There IS no planet B: no world of liberals and world of conservatives, except for the news outlets consumed. Physics is quite limiting on faster-than-light travel. This earth is the only starship we may ever know.

 

Whoever is the next president will be dealing with a global pandemic, that like most preceding it that have been unleashed by our insistent presence in the world economy, will be eventually contained by masks, rigorous testing, social distancing, and contact tracing. In other words: SCIENCE, not fiction, or propaganda.</p>

 

Whoever is the next president will make the difference as to how long that actually takes. Letting a virus burn through a population is NOT herd immunity, but the Freudian slip "herd mentality" says a lot about who currently has the nuclear codes and his followers.

 

Noam Chomsky in an interview with Scientific American, 2018:

 

Why did you recently call the Republican Party “the most dangerous organization in world history”?

 

Take its leader, who recently applied to the government of Ireland for a permit to build a huge wall to protect his golf course, appealing to the threat of global warming, while at the same time he withdrew from international efforts to address the grim threat and is using every means at his disposal to accelerate it.  Or take his colleagues, the participants in the 2016 Republican primaries.  Without exception, they either denied that what is happening is happening – though any ignorance is self-induced – or said maybe it is but we shouldn’t do anything about it.  The moral depths were reached by the respected “adult in the room,” Ohio governor John Kasich, who agreed that it is happening but added that “we are going to burn [coal] in Ohio and we are not going to apologize for it.” Or take a recent publication of Trump’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a detailed study recommending an end to regulations on emissions. It presented a rational argument: extrapolating current trends, by the end of the century we’ll be over the cliff and automotive emissions don’t contribute very much to the catastrophe – the assumption being that everyone is as criminally insane as we are and won’t try to avoid the crisis.  In brief, let’s rob while the planet burns, putting poor Nero in the shadows.

 

This surely qualifies as a contender for the most evil document in history.

 

There have been many monsters in the past, but it would be hard to find one who was dedicated to undermining the prospects for organized human society, not in the distant future -- in order to put a few more dollars in overstuffed pockets.

 

Noam Chomsky Calls Trump and Republican Allies "Criminally Insane", John Horgan, Scientific American, November 3, 2018</p>

 

Related:

 

Noam Chomsky: The GOP Is Still the Most Dangerous Organization in Human History, Lorraine Chow, Eco Watch, May 12, 2017

 

Noam Chomsky on Midterms: Republican Party Is the “Most Dangerous Organization in Human History”, Democracy Now! November 5, 2018

 

"What the hell do you have to lose?"

 

Well, after Herculean dips in the Stock Market, unemployment nearing Depression-era levels, 234,768 dead Americans, and 9,263,209 infected, I think we have our answer.

 

Read more…

Modeling Spread...

8052690477?profile=RESIZE_400x

Image Source: Coronavirus and COVID-19: What You Should Know (WebMD)

Topics: Biology, Computer Modeling, COVID-19, Research

TOKYO (Reuters) – A Japanese supercomputer showed that humidity can have a large effect on the dispersion of virus particles, pointing to heightened coronavirus contagion risks in dry, indoor conditions during the winter months.

The finding suggests that the use of humidifiers may help limit infections during times when window ventilation is not possible, according to a study released on Tuesday by research giant Riken and Kobe University.

The researchers used the Fugaku supercomputer to model the emission and flow of virus-like particles from infected people in a variety of indoor environments.

Air humidity of lower than 30% resulted in more than double the amount of aerosolized particles compared to levels of 60% or higher, the simulations showed.

The study also indicated that clear face shields are not as effective as masks in preventing the spread of aerosols. Other findings showed that diners are more at risk from people to their side compared to across the table, and the number of singers in choruses should be limited and spaced out.

Japan supercomputer shows humidity affects aerosol spread of coronavirus, Rocky Swift, Reuters Science

Read more…

Infodemic...

8030112097?profile=RESIZE_710x

Topics: COVID-19, Existentialism, Research

I assure you, I have been affected by this pandemic more than most. I am in a demographic that can experience deleterious effects from this virus. I have had friends and family affected directly. I have classmates that are struggling to survive. This is no hoax: it's real.

My precautions are beyond anal.

I worked in cleanrooms in the semiconductor industry, the most stringent being Class 1. The old criteria meant 0.5 microns of particles per cubic feet of air. (The newest guidelines were adopted in 2001, metric and still pretty stringent.) Each employee passed through air showers to push off any particulates from their clothing. Smokers are encouraged not to indulge, and cologne was prohibited - smoke and scent are particles. We then put our street garb in a locker, putting on green hospital gowns and fab shoes that never left the site. Then we donned cleanroom gowns - "bunny suits" - before going into the alien, HEPA-filtered environment, protecting it from any hair, skin, sweat, or dirt we could shed that would inhibit the functionality of integrated circuits. I tried to drink as little water as possible before going on the floor. Going to the bathroom, or lunch was a pain.


I have developed a unique protocol for assaulting what used to be trivial things like getting the mail, mowing the lawn - grass grows as rains fall during pandemics - or, going to the grocers for supplies.


1. I fashioned a mask from my father's handkerchiefs and rubber bands per the CDC guidelines. (I now have a collection of 5).

2. I use cloth/rubber work gloves for mowing as the rubber is tactile enough for me to operate equipment and pay for items at the grocery store.

3. After I enter the house, I immediately put all clothing - including my gloves - in the washer. I proceed to the shower.

Source: https://physics4thecool.blogspot.com/2020/04/protocols.html

The confluence of misinformation and infectious disease isn’t unique to COVID-19. Misinformation contributed to the spread of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, and it plagues efforts to educate the public on the importance of vaccinating against measles. But when it comes to COVID-19, the pandemic has come to be defined by a tsunami of persistent misinformation to the public on everything from the utility of masks and the efficacy of school closures, to the wisdom behind social distancing, and even the promise of untested remedies. According to a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, areas of the country exposed to television programming that downplayed the severity of the pandemic saw greater numbers of cases and deaths—because people didn’t follow public health precautions.

In the United States, misinformation spread by elements of the media, by public leaders, and by individuals with large social media platforms has contributed to a disproportionately large share of COVID-19 burden: we house 4 percent of the global population but account for 22 percent of global COVID-19 deaths. With winter around the corner and people spending more time indoors, it is more imperative than ever that we counter misinformation and clearly communicate risks to the public; in addition, as we await the arrival of a vaccine, it is equally important to arm the public with facts. We have work to do: a recent poll found that just half of the American public plans to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID Misinformation Is Killing People - This “infodemic” has to stop

Amir Bagherpour, Ali Nouri, Scientific American

Read more…

Fierce Urgency...

Ouroboros

Ancient Symbols: Ouroboros

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, COVID-19, Existentialism, Fascism

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there "is" such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”

― Martin Luther King Jr

From Middle English apocalips, from Latin apocalypsis, from Ancient Greek ἀποκάλυψις (apokálupsis, “revelation”), literally meaning "uncovering", from ἀπό (apó, “after”) and καλύπτω (kalúptō, “I cover”). Wiktionary

It is the 19th anniversary of September 11, 2001, now during a pandemic. What's been revealed:

  1. The Russians that attacked the 2016 elections are doing so in 2020, with the apparent blessing of their installed puppet. Not only is he deferential to Vladimir Putin, but he's also nauseatingly gracious to him and any world dictator. He derisively nicknames everyone he meets to troll them. He hasn't once Vlad, the impaler of democracies.
  2. The criminal enterprise masquerading as a political party (Max Boot names them the "gang of Putin") has conceded they have literally NOTHING they can sell the electorate on their policies: tax cuts for the rich don't cause economies to grow, or jobs to "trickle-down." All they can give the rubes is "white power," which doesn't mean anything if you can't buy a senator or congressman with your personal exchequer.
  3. Confirming conservative judges hasn't ended Roe vs. Wade, and even if it did, it wouldn't eliminate abortion completely, just transfer the personal decision to individual states. The original intent by Margaret Sanger was to eliminate "lessers" and the "feeble-minded," which meant a lot of black and brown people, through involuntary abortions and sterilizations. Hell, America had a whole bureau for it. It backfired when it became a form of bodily agency for white women, wrongly attributed to lower birth rates. It didn't HELP, but babies and daycare are expensive. That probably did it.
  4. It does ensure that, once the demographics changes are complete in 2045, they will be the guards of white supremacy - not democracy - at federal and state levels. Even though White Anglo Saxon Protestants be in the numerical minority, they will still be in a similar state as Apartheid South Africa: diminished, but in-charge.
  5. The Russian-installed puppet knew Coronavirus was airborne, that it would affect children: in February. He lied. We ran for our lives middle of March last semester. We were open, exposed. What would have been the result of a masking order on February 8th? I have no doubt it still would have been horrific, but how many lives would still be with us? I don't if we'd be heading for 200,000 soon; 400,000+ by the end of the year.
  6. The Coronavirus reveals that America by far is not "united." It is, in the title of author Isabel Wilkerson, arranged in a Caste system based on degrees of Melanin. Those with a preponderance of the pigmentation have to be demonized, violated, and killed. The reinforcement is by projection: monsters projecting their monstrosities on others. It is the origins of how we distribute wealth, resources, and health.
  7. The near 100 fires on the west coast of America are visible from satellite. More will be said about how this is NOT climate change than about how this is the direct result of it. Other than the frenzied rush to qualify a vaccine, we have no warp drives, nor do we have a "planet B." People in the midwest and other locations will shrug and ask, "why should they care?" This is similar to the resistance to give New York help during Hurricane Sandy. A repeat of item six, "United States" is an oxymoron.

Donald John Trump lied, and people died: hundreds of THOUSANDS of people. If he followed science, he would have had a mandatory mask mandate. If he followed science, he'd literally be sailing to re-election. If he just, didn't LIE! He said he "didn't want to panic us," but he's trying to scare the shit out of Levittown 1950s "suburban housewives" against the evil brown people from urban cities led by the scary black Senator Cory Booker, and invading hordes from the Mexican border!

“I felt like this was pretty urgent,” said De Kai, who was born in St. Louis, and is the son of immigrants from China. “I saw the country where I grew up, where my family lives [now mostly in the Bay Area], about to face this pandemic without knowing much about something as simple as wearing a mask to protect themselves and others.” In part, this comes from a cultural difference between East Asia, where masks have been routinely worn for decades to fend off pollution and germs, and other parts of the world. This includes the U.S., where people are unaccustomed to wearing masks, and, in the past, have sometimes been insensitive, even stigmatizing East Asians, many of whom had chosen to wear them in public prior to the pandemic, and had continued the practice in the aftermath of the SARS and MERS outbreaks. (In part, this habit was meant to show other people that they were concerned about transmitting the disease—something we in the West would do well to emulate.)

De Kai’s solution, along with his team, was to build a computer forecasting model they call the masksim simulator. This allowed them to create scenarios of populations like those in Japan (that generally wear masks) and others (that generally don’t), and to compare what happens to infection rates over time. Masksim takes sophisticated programming used by epidemiologists to track outbreaks and pathogens like COVID-19, Ebola, and SARS, and blended this with other models that are used in artificial intelligence to take into account the role of chance, in this case the randomness and unpredictability, of human behavior—for instance, when a person who is infected decides to go to a beach. De Kai’s team have also added some original programming that takes into account mask-specific criteria, such as how effective certain masks are at blocking the invisible micro-droplets of moisture that spray out of our mouths when we exhale or speak, or our noses when we sneeze, which scientists believe are significant vectors for spreading the coronavirus.

If 80% of Americans Wore Masks, COVID-19 Infections Would Plummet, New Study Says, David Ewing Duncan, Vanity Fair

Here's the ArXiv preprint paper to review. It takes ninth-grade reading comprehension. What you don't understand in terms can be discerned with a search engine.

Tomorrow is today, and every day we're being trolled by the so-called chief executive. He's bankrupting the nation like one of his casinos. He's exhausting us with his criminality, obvious mental deficiencies, and endless gaslighting.

He's revealing his ineptness, incompetence, and likely, complicit relationship with a foreign adversary. Of the 20,000 plus lies already documented from 2017 to this now, he cannot obfuscate his FIRST official lie as president*:

Before he enters on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:– I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 1, Clause 8

*Putin's puppet is an accidental oval office resident, and a clear and present danger to the republic, as Oroborus (America) eats its own tail.

 
 

 

Read more…

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc...

Frazz - fz170507comb_ts.tif

Image from GoComics.com and SpaceAndTime.com

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, COVID-19, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

 

Public-opinion polling shows that Trump’s low opinion of American elections has practically become Republican Party orthodoxy. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday, Republicans have an “unprecedented” level of “concern and mistrust in the system.” Roughly 70 percent of Republican voters believe that if Hillary Clinton wins the election, it’ll be due to fraud. In both this poll and an NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll, only half of Republicans say they’d accept a Clinton victory. (In the latter poll, by contrast, 82 percent of Democrats said they would accept a Trump victory.)

 

This suspicious Republican electorate is joined by growing ranks of conservative politicians, pundits, and intellectuals. They’re all increasingly willing to say that the existing American political system is hopelessly flawed and needs to be rolled back to the days before blacks and women could vote. On the most obvious level, this can be seen in moves by Republican governors all over America to make voting more difficult, through stringent voting ID laws, new hurdles to registration, and the curtailment of early-voting options. Equally significant has been the gutting of key provisions of the Voting Rights Act by conservative Supreme Court justices in the 2013 Shelby Country v. Holder ruling.

 

Suspicion of the democratic system is so pervasive on the right because it’s driven by the fear that white Christian America is facing demographic doom. The evidence is right there in the election results: Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, and if current polling trends hold, the GOP will be batting one for seven when the results come in on November 8. Thanks to gerrymandering, Republicans may hold on to a U.S. House majority for a while, and they’ll remain competitive in state capitols in the near future. But a whites-only party can’t win national elections. And over time, the GOP’s congressional and state fortresses will crumble if the party doesn’t change dramatically. Or if the democratic system doesn’t change dramatically.

 

The Right Is Giving Up on Democracy, Jeet Heer, The New Republic, October 24, 2016

 

The 2008 electorate was on-record as the youngest and most diverse in Pew Research history. It's why I think the right had a visceral reaction to President Barack Obama. He was the seventh African American to run for president in the modern era, and the first one to actually win. The trial balloon of a "post-racial" society was floated (see? We're not racist, you finally have a negro president). The 2012 re-election sent them over a cliff of brief self-reflection with the post-election GOP Autopsy, officially the Opportunity and Growth Project. That revelation was short-lived, and with past indicative revelations as prologue, quite reasonable and sane. State media/Fox propaganda and other conservative outlets couldn't help themselves. The faux "controversies" from Michelle Obama's bare arms (but not Melania Trump's bare behind), Grey Poupon mustard on hot dogs and tan suits seems delirious, hilarious, and deranged. It was a parade of the insane.

 

There are a pro and con to whether racism qualifies as a mental disorder. To those recipients of its attacks and largesse, it seems to fit the bill. I was the victim of a "Zoom bombing" recently, pornographic materials, and the n-word repeated to an online crowd of African Americans in a Sunday School meeting studying the Book of James: We'd lean "pro."

 

This demographics time bomb was set off by the aftermath of 1865: no longer having free slave labor, many legal machinations were attempted to re-enslave previously free African Americans using vagrancy laws, see "Slavery By Another Name," by Douglas A. Blackmon. The American Prison System exploits a loophole in the 13th Amendment: anyone arrested by the system - state, federal or for-profit - according to The Constitution is technically a slave of the state. We have Asian citizens because Chinese immigrants were imported to replace freed slaves on plantations. ICE likes to raid Hispanics/Latinos at food processing plants, but are missing the bonanza of brown targets at home builders, who probably couldn't offer their great home prices without company owners paying undocumented immigrants cash off-the-books, so as not to incur tax liabilities. Not a single home builder, for example, has done a perp walk.

 

*****

 

Excerpt from "Black Labor, White Wealth: The Search for Power and Economic Justice," (August 1, 1994) Claude Anderson, Ed. D., Chapter 2: Power and Black Progress:

 

Chapter 2, page 33, subsection titled: Numerical Population Power 

 

In a democratic society, the numerical majority wins, rules, and decides. The theoretical rights of a minority, may or may not be respected, especially if they are a planned minority. Numerical population power is the power that comes to those groups that acquire power through their sheer size. The black population peaked in the 1750s when slaves and free blacks accounted for approximately 33 percent of the total population. The high numerical strength of blacks caused fear and concern among whites. They feared the loss of their own numerical power. Word of black Haitians successful slave revolt in the 1790s had spread across America and reportedly ignited several slave revolts in Southern states.

 

The First U.S. Congress enacted the first naturalization law that declared America to be a nation for "whites only." The naturalization act and other income incentives attracted a mass influx of legal and illegal European ethnics, followed by Asian and Hispanic immigrants a century later. The immigration quota for blacks remained zero until their total percentage of the population declined to nine percent. By making blacks a planned numerical minority, white society assured its dominance in a democratic society where the majority always wins.

 

 Source: Sample chapter

 

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc (Latin): after this, therefore because of this. It is an informal fallacy, meaning the fallacy originates in an error of reasoning rather than a flaw in the logical form of the argument. (Wikipedia) So, what WAS the original "argument"?

 

American mythology teaches that the early United States was founded by men of conscience who came to the "new world" in order to practice their religious convictions in peace and freedom. John Winthrop (1588–1649), the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, in particular, has been quoted as a source of inspiration by U.S. presidents from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan.

 

Yet Winthrop did not represent a tradition of either democracy or religious tolerance. He hated democracy with a passion. The state he created did not hesitate to execute people like the Quakers and even brought to the "new" world the very popular tradition of medieval Europe, the trial and execution of witches.

 

"A Shining City on a Hill": Troubling information about a famous quote. The Puritan tradition of intolerance and John Winthrop, World Future Fund

 

We've taken The Constitution, our founding document, through historical apotheosis. Strict constructionists will say it is without flaw, and we should look for "original intent"; "breathing document" aficionados want constant change and continuous improvement, ever-becoming a "more perfect union."

 

The story we tell ourselves becomes muddled over time. This is similar to the game of "telephone," where my teacher whispered instructions to the first student in a line of fifth-graders from a 3 x 5 index card. Twenty-students deep, what we said and the meaning of what they said has irrevocably changed, similarly through essentially a 232-year relay.

 

We are here from Crispus Attucks to George Floyd, from sacrifices in revolts from England to knees-on-necks, no-knock raids, and killing teenagers carrying Arizona Tea and a bag of Skittles. We are here from Manifest Destiny, Trail of Tears, Black Wall Street-like genocides to Coronavirus pandemic. We are here because the original story of this country has become horribly distorted. That's not to say the original picture was perfect. For this republic's continuance, we desperately need to be honest with ourselves.

 

We're here because the country was based on slavery: the wealth of the nation built on the backs of free, uncompensated, kidnapped-from-Africa labor for generations.

 

We're here because those persons were described as a fraction, 3/5th's, and their children sold away like so much cattle.

 

We're here because the same slave owners defining us as inferior beings had unsolicited sex with us, siring Mulatto children in heterosexual rape of African women and "buck breaking" in homosexual encounters meant to emasculate African males in front of their females and families. Sally Hemings was not Thomas Jefferson's "lover": the relationship (or, the rape), started when she was fourteen. That is BY definition, pedophilia, and like all the aforementioned sexual acts above, sadistic.

 

We're here because the slaves, nor their descendants received reparations for years of enslavement, murder, and terrorism by the KKK, "sundown towns" requiring a Green Book to navigate around, and white citizen's councils.

 

We're here because such wealth exchange as reparations would dismantle the current biased system of white supremacy, and the reason it is opposed so strongly.

 

We're here because to justify the system, this nation built-in mythologies of superiority and inferiority, socially-engineered the society to self-fulfill the delusion, and codified it into laws. African Americans can be prejudiced, but they cannot be racist. Racism = prejudice + political power; the ability to codify your hatred with the strength of judiciary. Hitler did not "overthrow" the Weimar Republic: he won the election, seized control, and cloned Jim Crow on steroids in Europe, the only lesson the United States refuses to take ownership of.

 

We are here because unlike the logical fallacy: our current "this" is logically followed by the obvious "that." For us to have a new tomorrow - "[Built] Back Better," we're going to have to admit the sins of the nation's past, and in the vernacular of scripture: repent.

 

Read more…

Call It by Its Name...

23serners-leeHRjpg-INYT-articleLarge.jpg?quality=75&auto=webp&disable=upscale

Image Source: New York Times, excerpt below

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, COVID-19, Fascism, Human Rights

Turning Point: China removes presidential term limits.

First we see the face. The face of America’s Donald Trump, or Hungary’s Viktor Orban, or Russia’s Vladimir Putin, or Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the face of men who wish to transform democracies into personality cults.

The face is the oldest mark of leadership, the mark that works for clan or tribe. If we see only the face, we are not thinking about policies or politics; instead, we are accepting the new regime and its rules. However, a democracy is about the people, not a single mythicized person.

People need truth, which a cult of personality destroys. Theories of democracy, from the ancient Greeks through the Enlightenment to today, take for granted that the world around us yields to understanding. We pursue the facts alongside our fellow citizens. But in a cult of personality, truth is replaced by belief, and we believe what the leader wishes us to believe. The face replaces the mind.

The transition from democracy to personality cult begins with a leader who is willing to lie all the time, in order to discredit the truth as such. The transition is complete when people can no longer distinguish between truth and feeling.

The Cowardly Face of Authoritarianism, Yale Historian Timothy Snyder, New York Times

Yesterday, a demagogue spoke to a former political party that for the first time in its history, doesn’t have a platform.

Remove “R” and “D.” What are national conventions, other than platforms, or means, to lay out the vision of the standard-bearer for the country, and thus the party itself? To give a compelling reason to vote for a party’s vision, or colloquially, “what’s in it for me?” The chaos candidate who became the chaos president foamed at the mouth at a super spreader event breaking the Hatch Act on the White House lawn made no improvement – in FOUR YEARS – on my observations years ago, posted September 1, 2016: Party of Apocalypse.

Excerpt:

The first night of the RNC convention could have been a success with the noted exception of Melania Trump lifting whole cloth parts of now First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech to the DNC convention in 2008. An out-of-work journalist was the first to catch and tweet it (a sad indictment of the employed journalists ACTUALLY at the RNC convention) [1]. The last night of the RNC was like “The Dark Knight Returns”: the world was essentially a shit show like Gotham, and Batman screamed for 75 minutes incoherent, semi-form, hand-tossed Word Salad anointing himself Bruce-Wayne-Almighty-Cheetos-Jesus savior of the planet by the strength of his will alone (no cool gadgets – just a Galaxy Smart Phone and a twitter handle he misspells as he jacks off on almost daily). The Bat’s bravery was previously demonstrated during his selfless sacrificed Vietnam five deferments to let others more worthy die in his place.

My coworkers on the first night’s events had statements like: “that is not plagiarism” (it was); or “what she said (Mrs. Trump) in her speech most people say in one form or another every day!” 38 hours later: a phantom ghostwriter emerged – Meredith Melver, who apparently conveniently works for a man that’s on record imitating his own publicist. [2] The name sounds suspicious enough with the possibility of two plagiarisms vis-à-vis Mrs. Trump and his educational ventures. Trump Institute and University lifted content whole cloth [3]. There are suspicions like his publicist, Ms. Melver may have been a convenient creation, but it seems she’s legit [4]. But more importantly, the Meredith mea culpa was enough for my coworker Trumpism fans. Never mind Mrs. Trump had previously revealed to Matt Lauer of NBC she had “written it all herself.” They pivoted to the next talking point with the ease of any group studied by Leon Festinger.

Don’t know this guy? He studied an apocalyptic UFO cult in the 1950s – a precursor to the Heaven’s Gate Cult of the 1990s. They were ABSOLUTELY sure the world would end and had a date. The faithful sold all their worldly goods and waited for the apocalypse…and waited…and waited… Some of the former faithful felt discouraged and left. Others felt their “vibrations” had saved the Earth from destruction. [5] Simple Psychology defines it thus: “Cognitive dissonance refers to a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviors. This produces a feeling of discomfort leading to an alteration in one of the attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors to reduce the discomfort and restore balance, etc. “For example, when people smoke (behavior) and they know that smoking causes cancer (cognition). “Festinger’s (1957) cognitive dissonance theory suggests that we have an inner drive to hold all our attitudes and beliefs in harmony and avoid disharmony (or dissonance).”</em>

This is a full-blown cult of personality.

cult of personality or cult of the leader,[1] arises when a country’s regime – or, more rarely, an individual – uses the techniques of mass mediapropaganda, the big liespectaclethe artspatriotism, and government-organized demonstrations and rallies to create an idealized, heroic, and worshipful image of a leader, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. A cult of personality is similar to apotheosis, except that it is established by modern social engineering techniques, usually by the state or the party in one-party states and dominant-party states. It is often seen in totalitarian or authoritarian countries.

The term came to prominence in 1956, in Nikita Khrushchev‘s secret speech On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences, given on the final day of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In the speech, Khrushchev, who was the First Secretary of the Communist Party – in effect, the leader of the country – criticized the lionization and idealization of Joseph Stalin, and by implication, his Communist contemporary Mao Zedong, as being contrary to Marxist doctrine. The speech was later made public and was part of the “de-Stalinization” process in the Soviet Union. Wikipedia

Making political speeches from the White House lawn is as illegal as making political speeches as Secretary of State from Jerusalem. They are violations of the Hatch Act, which prohibits such actions. If this treatment of The Constitution like toilet paper is going on in plain sight, what happens when American becomes a failed state?

WHICH Amendment will matter, or be reinforced? Forget birthright citizenship: you are citizen if the KING says you’re a citizen. Forget voting rights for African Americans, or women, or their autonomy over their own bodies. Mashing up George Carlin and Margaret Atwood, I can see a dystopian scenario where women become “broodmares of the state” for people screaming about “white genocide,” doing much meth and little coitus. I can think a party, afraid of losing political power to demographics, could easily make the case the 2nd Amendment restricted to citizens with a LACKING preponderance of Melanin. In Putin’s Russia, there is no such thing as a 2nd Amendment, or a preponderance of Melanin, for that matter.

My “Party of Apocalypse” essay has, unfortunately, aged well.

Read more…

Figure

The spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (gray) is shown with three small antibodies (pink) attached to its receptor binding domains. The spike attaches at the left to the viral membrane (not shown). DIAMOND LIGHT SOURCE

Topics: Chemistry, COVID-19, Physics, Research

As the world anxiously awaits development of one or more vaccines to tame the SARS-CoV-2 virus, other research continues at a feverish pace to find effective treatments for the disease it causes, COVID-19. That work, in which physicists and chemists are deeply involved, has made significant strides in the past several months and has turned up a few surprises. Researchers at the University of Alberta reported at the August virtual meeting of the American Crystallographic Association that a dipeptide-based protease inhibitor used to treat a fatal coronavirus infection in cats also blocks replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in samples of monkey lung tissue. Joanne Lemieux, a biochemist at the university, says the antiviral, known as GC373, works by blocking the function of the main protease (Mpro), an enzyme that cleaves the polyproteins translated from viral RNA into individual proteins once it enters human cells.

Lemieux says GC373 has been shown to have no toxic effects in cats. Anivive, a California company that develops pet medicines, has applied for US Food and Drug Administration approval to begin trials in humans. Lemieux’s group crystallized the Mpro in combination with the drug and produced three-dimensional images of how the drug binds strongly to the active pocket on the enzyme. Although GC373 should be effective in its current form, the group is planning further crystallography experiments at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) and the Canadian Light Source to see if a reformulation could optimize it for human use, she says.

Cats and llamas could offer a path to coronavirus therapies, David Kramer, Physics Today

Read more…