Glad to breathe a sigh of relief after the Arbery decision lets us move more gracefully to a holiday that should rightfully be imbued with gratitude. Wishing everyone a very happy Thanksgiving!
Rivka Galchen writes well about the current state of research into functional, energy-positive fusion reactors in her article in The New Yorker, Can Nuclear Fusion Put the Brakes on Climate Change? It’s a worthwhile read.
Derek Hawkins writes in today’s Washington Post Coronavirus Updates:
New research out of Texas offers a grim illustration of the risks of not getting vaccinated. The state health department found that unvaccinated people accounted for more than 85 percent of the Lone Star State’s 29,000 covid-linked fatalities between mid-January and October. Seven percent of the deaths were among partially vaccinated people, while about 8 percent were fully vaccinated. Put another way: the unvaccinated in Texas were 40 times more likely to die of the disease than those fully vaccinated.
And as David Leonhardt writes in his Nov. 8th NYT The Morning, the gap in the cumulative death rate from Covid-19 between heavily T**** supporting US counties and heavily Biden supporting counties: “In October, 25 out of every 100,000 residents of heavily Trump counties died from Covid, more than three times higher than the rate in heavily Biden counties (7.8 per 100,000). October was the fifth consecutive month that the percentage gap between the death rates in Trump counties and Biden counties widened.”
If you haven’t already, please get vaccinated — it may save your life.
From the always excellent Heather Cox Richardson’s November 5 post:
“At about 11:30 p.m., the House of Representatives passed the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) by a vote of 228–206. Biden promised to pass a bipartisan measure and after nine months of hard work, he did it: thirteen Republicans voted in favor of the bill; six progressive Democrats voted against it. The measure had already passed the Senate, so now it goes to his desk for a signature.
This bill is a huge investment in infrastructure. Axios lists just how huge: over the next 8 years, it will provide $110 billion for fixing roads and bridges, $73 billion for the electrical grid, $66 billion for railroads, $65 billion for broadband, $55 billion for water infrastructure, $47 billion for coastal adjustments to climate change, $39 billion for public transportation, and so on.
The Guardian’s congressional reporter, Hugo Lowell, noted: “Regardless of the politics, the passage of a $1.2T bipartisan infrastructure bill is a towering legislative achievement for Biden—and one that Trump never came close to matching.””
Remember—every single Republican voted against the Rescue Plan. If they had gotten their way:
-no checks in pockets
-no money for schools to reopen quickly and safely
-no quick recovery to 4.6% unemployment
— Bharat Ramamurti (@BharatRamamurti) November 5, 2021
There is very nice article in The Atlantic by James Heathers, one reminding us of the dangers of accepting as gospel medical publication results due to their very variable quality (or lack thereof). This especially applies to articles on COVID-19 appearing in the midst of a pandemic, many of which are flawed. Ivermectin as a treatment for COVID is his principle example.
Evaluating the quality of a research paper remains an important exercise.
“A huge global pandemic is a really big deal. It’s killed hundreds of thousands of Americans, many more people around the globe, and it’s also led to many cases of non-fatal illness that were nonetheless serious and involved hospitalizations or prolonged recuperation at home. The pandemic has also significantly altered almost everyone’s daily conduct — not commuting to offices, wearing masks on the job, conferences and conventions going global, schools getting stricter about attendance while sick. An economic cost alongside the humanitarian one is inevitable; there’s nothing fiscal or monetary policy can do about that. What policy can do is impact what kind of cost is ultimately borne.
In the beginning, it seemed like the pandemic would induce a really serious recession. But thanks to Jerome Powell and Steve Mnuchin and Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden and Raphael Warnock and others, that hasn’t been the case — we pumped a ton of money into the system, flushed people’s pockets with cash, and largely averted severe economic deprivation despite a very scary and disruptive virus. Instead, we got a moderate amount of inflation, which while bad is clearly preferable to a prolonged spell of mass unemployment. So why don’t policymakers always opt for “moderate amount of inflation” over “prolonged spell of mass unemployment?””
And he goes on to discuss in more detail (complete post is available for subscribers).
• This open letter appearing in both The Bulwark and the New Republic, from both Democratic and Republican writers, academics, and activists, people from both sides and the middle of the political spectrum, is must reading. Some excerpts:
“But right now we agree on a fundamental point: We need to join together to defend liberal democracy.
Because liberal democracy itself is in serious danger. Liberal democracy depends on free and fair elections, respect for the rights of others, the rule of law, a commitment to truth and tolerance in our public discourse. All of these are now in serious danger….
And we urge all responsible citizens who care about democracy—public officials, journalists, educators, activists, ordinary citizens—to make the defense of democracy an urgent priority now.”
We can’t let the people who want to make the US an unrepresentative, undemocratic autocracy, oligarchy (or whatever other applicable pejorative but accurate adjective) win.
Heather Cox Richardson quotes Senator Angus King in her October 19 post; King is speaking about the Freedom to Vote Act:
“King urged his colleagues to change course, “to pull our country back from the brink, and to begin the work of restoring our democracy as we did in the Revolution, as we did in the Civil War, and as we did in the Civil Rights struggles: first, by simply telling the truth and then by enacting a set of basic protections of the sacred right to vote.” If they will not, he said, we will lose “our identity as a people,…the miracle of self-government, and…the idea of America.””
It’s important to remember that the Republican party wants to make it harder, not easier, to vote – and ideally for them, take away the right to vote entirely for people they believe are not likely to vote Republican. Their voter suppression is thoroughly repugnant.
Another valuable NYT The Morning essay by David Leonhardt, this time discussing the relative risks of Covid in the vaccinated elderly virus unvaccinated children. Fortunately, children seem to be at very low risk themselves – probably the highest attributable risk that can be ascribed to them is inadvertent spread to those adults who are susceptible and at risk for severe disease.