Sometimes I’m a little slow. Okay, sometimes I’m a lot slow. I also sometimes unravel points by a circuitous route. For example:
Since I’ve arrived in Pittsburgh, with all the Confederate flags, the gratuitously displayed guns in areas where Black and white working class and poor are in evident conflict, the banners that mysteriously celebrate so few Black veterans but plenty of white ones, the thin blue line flags, the cop who let his dog bark viciously and uncontrollably at a Black man who was merely walking across a parking lot, and all the reports of racism and white supremacism I’ve also noticed aggressive driving, particularly by drivers of monster pickup trucks, that I quickly dubbed “testosterone trucks,” hence the inspiration for the sign (soon to be a sticker—I’ve finally ordered it—figure 1) in my car’s back window that says, “Keep Your Testosterone Off My Tail.” Read more
David Salisbury has written an article on what a potential COVID-19 vaccine does for us. It’s oriented towards the United Kingdom, but his principles apply in the U.S. as well. In essence, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said it will accept COVID-19 vaccines with 50 percent efficacy, possibly lower in practice,, meaning they need be effective in protecting 50 percent (or less) people who receive it. You have to multiply this effectiveness rate by the proportion of the population inoculated to determine what proportion of the population will be protected. And because of that effectiveness rate, we won’t know for sure who among the inoculated will indeed be immune. In particular, we should worry about how effective a vaccine will be among the elderly. Read more
Deploying an “excess deaths” methodology, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attributes an estimated 299,028 deaths to COVID-19. Yes, there’s a chance that other, unidentified, causes resulted in a higher overall death toll this year than last, but such factors might also reduce the toll. The larger part of the difference between this number, and the official toll, 220,987, is likely in undiagnosed cases and deaths indirectly attributable to the disease. I’ve been watching the “excess deaths” number for a while because it is likely closer to a complete picture. Quoting at length, here are the very ugly numbers: Read more
See updates through October 27, 2020 at end of post.
I woke up this morning to the sound of frost melting into the roof gutter on my building. Fall has turned cold in Pittsburgh and though it was a beautiful fall (we’re past peak now), my thoughts turned to the homeless. As I wonder about the two (out of six) vacant apartments in my building (in a massive complex).
I had never gotten used to seeing the homeless encampments in the San Francisco Bay Area, where they were, especially around Oakland, often the size of small villages. When I arrived in Pittsburgh, I saw not as many homeless people, but still some. Last winter was remarkably mild, but winters here are much harsher. I wonder how people survive. And this year, in a pandemic, where homeless people are among the populations considered additionally vulnerable, I’m seeing more homeless people. And then I see something like this: Read more
Kamala Harris did what she’s famous for, in this case, exposing Amy Coney Barrett as disingenuous on some claims of impartiality on abortion rights and Obamacare. Read more
It’s already well established that the U.S. government has egregiously mishandled the COVID-19 pandemic politically, economically (also enabling capitalist greed to compound the problem), and medically, with devastating consequences. In addition to all that, Donald Trump recklessly recommended absurdly dangerous non-remedies like hydroxychloroquine and injecting or ingesting bleach. There’s no excuse for any of it and now the New England Journal of Medicine says so, noting in its conclusion that “[a]nyone else who recklessly squandered lives and money in this way would be suffering legal consequences.” Read more
I was out early this morning, first for an oil change, and second to pick up my laundry. On my way back from the latter, there at the top of the hill on McNeilly Avenue at Pioneer Avenue was a Joe Biden campaign sign, calling for “Unity Over Division,” somewhat like the one in figure 1.
Fig. 1. Sign for sale on Etsy by Christophermanshop, listed on October 1, 2020, fair use.
I was driving so I could not enact my emotions of the moment. For me, this is beyond naïve and well into deceptive. Read more
Note, October 4, 2020: I received a text from a local campaign touting endorsements from the police and gun nuttery lobbies. Honestly, I have no idea how these folks even begin to imagine that I might support their candidate when I favor abolition of the police and oppose gun nuttery.
It motivated me to dredge up my old research journal entry on my analysis of the second amendment which, to say the least, is not the one that presently prevails, especially in Pennsylvania. When I go into the raw text of my old Drupal database dump, I don’t know the date the entry was created, nor do I know the original title. But in this case, I see there’s an update. The entry, as resurrected, follows.
See update for October 5, 2020 at end of post.
Update, June 16, 2016: Since writing this post, I have learned that the late Chief Justice Warren Burger offered a similar view, saying “that the Second Amendment ‘has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud—I repeat the word “fraud”—on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.'” I have not located a transcript to confirm the full text in the meme; apparently he said it on the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour in 1991 and was allegedly “expressing the longtime consensus of historians and judges across the political spectrum.”
Fig. 1. Meme found on Facebook, fair use.
In the wake of yet another mass shooting, I will here run where angels fear to tread, into an analysis of the wording of the second amendment. First, the text itself:
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
See update for October 16, 2020 at end of post.
To summarize, Donald Trump has downplayed the novel coronavirus, ridiculed mask-wearing, recommended dangerous remedies, and catastrophically mishandled the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. And now he’s in Walter Reed Hospital, with a COVID-19 diagnosis, where care will be available to him, including the yet-to-be-approved remdesivir he has already received on a so-called “compassionate use” exception, at a level unavailable to many taxpayers who are footing the bill. In addition, his attitude, adopted by many in his entourage and who have met with him, may have made the announcement of Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination a “superspreader event.” Read more
See updates through October 16, 2020, at end of article.
Short of quoting the entire article, a massive article that in both its horror and its length is really too much to take in, I cannot do justice to Barton Gellman’s work, which fleshes out previous coverage of how a disputed election in November might play out. We are very likely in very serious trouble: Read more