• A great podcast from Ezra Klein where he interviews Maryanne Wolf about how our current digital reading media and habits are adversely impacting our ability to focus deeply on what we are reading.
A study by Cowger and colleagues appearing in the Nov. 9 issue of the NEJM provides new evidence that the removal of universal school masking policies in Massachusetts was associated with an increased incidence of Covid-19.
From the accompanying editorial by Raifman and Green:
“The study used difference-in-differences methods, a rigorous form of causal inference for policies that are infeasible or unethical to assess in a randomized trial. During a 15-week period (March to June 2022), Covid-19 cases in school districts that had ended universal school masking policies (70 districts for most of the 15-week period) were compared with cases in school districts that sustained universal masking policies (2 districts for most of the 15-week period). The removal of universal school masking was associated with an additional 2882 Covid-19 cases among 46,530 staff (an estimated 81.7 cases per 1000 staff) and an additional 9168 Covid-19 cases among 294,084 students (an estimated 39.9 cases per 1000 students) during the 15 weeks. In school districts that had ended universal masking, approximately 40% of 7127 staff cases and 32% of 28,524 student cases were associated with the removal of universal masking policies.”
Even the Economist can see it clearly: “Covid-19 vaccines saved an estimated 20m lives during their first year“:
• From an interview with the eminent historian in Balls and Strikes, Eric Foner on Originalism: “I am not a believer in originalism and do not want to operate on terrain constructed by the conservative justices. Originalism is intellectually indefensible.” It’s worth a read.
|• In the some good news, anyway, category: German Lopez writes in the NYT The Morning newsletter that the long standing massive discrepancy in racial incarceration rates in the U.S. is finally declining:
“Slowly, the American criminal justice system has become more equitable. The racial gap among inmates in state prisons has fallen 40 percent since 2000, fueled by a large decrease in Black imprisonment rates, according to a new report by the Council on Criminal Justice, a think tank.
Finding the right balance between public safety and human dignity animated many of the criminal justice policies enacted in the U.S. over the past couple of decades. The decline in racial disparities is a remarkable reversal of policies now widely seen as unfairly punishing Black people. “It’s a tremendous drop,” said Thaddeus Johnson, one of the report’s authors.”
Good commentary by Matt Yglesias, describing how Elon Musk is quite selective when advocating for his libertarian principles. He’s all for free speech on Twitter, but very quiet when it comes to suppression of free speech in China. He complained bitterly about pandemic-related protocols in Cali, but trumpets China’s “no new domestic corona cases” (no Covid restrictions there, eh Elon?). And he publicly advocated for Taiwan to become “a special administrative zone” of China a day before Tesla was granted a Chinese purchase tax exemption for its Model X and S EVs. It seems that profits take precedence over principle for Elon. Guess he does need the Benjamins for his Twitter purchase…
Will Bunch, writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer about the blinders Republicans seem to have for political candidates failing to live according to their purported values: “Because the so-called “family values” of American fundamentalists now drawn toward Christian nationalism turn out to be mere window dressing that can be tossed for the movement’s true aim: authoritarianism.“