Wednesday, July 15th, 2020


Oxford v Ferrari

"In April, Sarah Gilbert's three children, 21-year-old triplets all studying biochemistry, decided to take part in a trial for an experimental vaccine against Covid-19.It was their mother's vaccine—she leads the University of Oxford team that developed it—but there wasn't a big family talk. 'We didn't really discuss it as I wasn't home much at the time,' Gilbert told me recently. She'd been working around the clock." And that work is part of one of the most promising vaccine efforts in the world. The British are coming. And in this case, they can't get here soon enough. Bloomberg's Stephanie Baker with a very interesting look at Oxford's race to develop a vaccine. "It doesn't need to cure you. … We want a vaccine to stop people from going to hospital and dying. If you can do that, I think people will be pretty happy."


CDC No Evil

"The move could make data less transparent to the public at a time when the administration is downplaying the spread of the pandemic, and threatens to undermine public confidence that medical data is being presented free of political interference." Coronavirus hospital data will now be sent to Trump administration instead of CDC. What's that look on your face? I'm sure this is being done in a spirit of openness and for the good of fighting the pandemic. Stop being so cynical.


I Don’t Know is on Third

"There are no second acts in American lives." Scratch that. There are no third acts in American lives. John M. Barry in the NYT: The Pandemic Could Get Much, Much Worse. We Must Act Now. "Had we done it right the first time, we'd be operating at near 100 percent now, schools would be preparing for a nearly normal school year, football teams would be preparing to practice — and tens of thousands of Americans would not have died. This is our second chance. We won't get a third. If we don't get the growth of this pandemic under control now, in a few months, when the weather turns cold and forces people to spend more time indoors, we could face a disaster that dwarfs the situation today."

+ "Poorer nations throughout Latin America, the Middle East, South Asia and Africa are bearing a growing share of the caseload, even as wealthier countries in Western Europe and East Asia enjoy a relative respite after having beaten back the worst effects through rigorously enforced lockdowns. And then there's the United States, which leads the world in new cases and, as with many nations that possess far fewer resources, has shown no sign of being able to regain control." WaPo: Global surge in coronavirus cases is being fed by the developing world — and the U.S.


Hear the One About the Lawyers Who Saved America?

NPR: "In a swift reversal, the Trump administration has agreed to rescind a directive that would have barred international college students from the U.S. if their colleges offered classes entirely online in the fall semester." There's one thing this era has killed forever. Lawyer jokes.


Masquerade and Abet

Alexander Hamilton is all the rage (again) these days. Margaret Sullivan paraphrases one of his key statements about a working democracy. Citizens "need reliable reporting about the activities of government and politicians." But the local news industry has been in nonstop duels with reality. "These days, local news is withering in many places across America. The United States is dotted with 'news deserts,' regions where no newspaper or other local news organization exists. In many other places, once-vibrant local outlets have become 'ghost newspapers'—their name remains, and you can still buy a subscription, but their staff and ambitions are so diminished that they can no longer do the day-to-day reporting that allows citizens to make good decisions at the polls about their governmental representatives." The Atlantic: The Constitution Doesn't Work Without Local News.

+ To make matters worse, those news vacuums are being filled by partisan hackers masquerading as news sites. Neiman Lab: Hundreds of hyperpartisan sites are masquerading as local news. This map shows if there's one near you.


Hardcore Punk Sessions

"I think it's time for this Republican Party to listen to the Donald Trump agenda because he has talked about those things frankly and openly." AP: In defeat, Sessions still says Trump right for the nation. Jeff Sessions was the first Senator to back Trump. It's no sure thing that Trump would have won without his early support. Last night, Trump completed his destruction of Jeff Sessions.


Double Jeopardy

"I first worried about the possibility of a double pandemic in March. Four months ago, it felt needlessly alarmist to fret about two rare events happening simultaneously. But since then, federal fecklessness and rushed reopenings have wasted the benefits of months of social distancing. About 60,000 new cases of COVID-19 are being confirmed every day, and death rates are rising. My worry from March feels less far-fetched. If America could underperform so badly against one rapidly spreading virus, how would it fare against two?" With your anxiety at ten, The Atlantic's Ed Yong cranks up the dial. America Should Prepare for a Double Pandemic. (We already have a double pandemic. Covid19 and Trumpism.)

+ While we're still focused on the one pandemic, a key debate is over the opening of schools. It's been done safely in some countries. It's been a disaster in Israel. And consider that Israel only opened schools after its case numbers were flat. "In May 17 in Israel it appeared the virus not only was under control, but defeated. Israel reported only 10 new cases of COVID-19 in the entire country that day. In the U.S., the debate often is about reopening schools where the disease is not only not in decline, but surging."


Population Bust

"Falling fertility rates mean nearly every country could have shrinking populations by the end of the century. And 23 nations - including Spain and Japan - are expected to see their populations halve by 2100. Countries will also age dramatically, with as many people turning 80 as there are being born." BBC: 'Jaw-dropping' global crash in children being born. (This is not going to help my subscription numbers...)


That’s My Pierogitive

I read a lot of bad news, but sometimes a sentence can still bum me out. Like this one: "On Sunday, July 19, the place will serve its last plate of potato pierogies with sour cream and applesauce." A Farewell to Odessa, the Counter-Culture Classic Closing This Week in the East Village. I was always a Veselka guy. But a loss of any pierogi is a loss for all of us.


Bottom of the News

"Improvement curves in elite sports ranging from sprinting to pole vaulting tend to follow a so-called sigmoidal curve, featuring an initial slow and steady rise, followed by an era of rapid improvement and finally a levelling off. 'Hotdog eating has definitely reached that second plateau.'" Competitive hotdog eaters nearing limit of human performance. "A maximum of 84 hotdogs in 10 minutes is possible, says sports science study." (We should peel off some of the Oxford vaccine researchers and put them on this study. We've got to get this right.)

+ An Andean Condor can fly for 100 miles without flapping wings.