Monday, November 16th, 2020


Truth or Consequences

Let's start with Jodi Doering's night off from her job as an ER nurse in South Dakota... "I have a night off from the hospital. As I'm on my couch with my dog I can't help but think of the Covid patients the last few days. The ones that stick out are those who still don't believe the virus is real. The ones who scream at you for a magic medicine and that Joe Biden is going to ruin the USA. All while gasping for breath on 100% Vapotherm. They tell you there must be another reason they are sick. They call you names and ask why you have to wear all that 'stuff' because they don't have COViD because it's not real. Yes. This really happens. And I can't stop thinking about it. These people really think this isn't going to happen to them. And then they stop yelling at you when they get intubated. It's like a f-cking horror movie that never ends. There's no credits that roll. You just go back and do it all over again. Which is what I will do for the next three nights. But tonight. It's me and Cliff and Oreo ice cream. And how ironic I have on my 'home' Hoodie. The South Dakota I love seems far away right now..." These people have Covid and are dying in hospital rooms, while denying Covid is real, and arguing this is some Dem plot and the whole world is rigged. Their psychic fantasy, a defense against the abyss of despair, humiliation and nihilism, will live until their body dies. It's really impossible to overstate how dangerous this level of misinformation is, especially during a pandemic; when the actions of a deluded few can lead to the deaths of an enlightened many. And it's worth noting that if staring truth in the face in a South Dakota ER won't change their minds, you can be sure yelling at them on social media won't work.

+ Over the weekend, thousands of people who think the election was stolen and that Anthony Fauci and Bill Gates should be arrested took to the streets of DC. Trump drove by and waved to them on his way to his golf course. (I'd like to see these folks try to get a brunch reservation at Mar a Lago.)

+ Yes, with his inexhaustible rage and delusional defiance of reality, Trump is the perfect leader of this anti-reality movement. But he is far from alone. "The victories in state and local races have allowed GOP leaders to claim a mandate for their let-it-be approach to pandemic management, with pleas for 'personal responsibility' substituting government intervention. As hospitals fill and deaths climb, it's a philosophy that public health experts warn could have disastrous consequences this winter." WaPo: With pandemic raging, Republicans say election results validate their approach. Validated, first by votes, and now by deaths.

+ Scott Atlas urges Michigan to 'rise up' against new Covid-19 measures (he's urging people to rise up against safety measures offered by their governor who recently faced a murder plot). This is political psychosis, plain and simple.

+ "If we do not have the capacity to distinguish what's true from what's false, then by definition the marketplace of ideas doesn't work. And by definition our democracy doesn't work. We are entering into an epistemological crisis." Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic: Why Obama Fears for Our Democracy. (If you don't want to take it from Obama, take it from Jodi Doering...)


Keep The Future on Ice

Thankfully, the scientists and truth aficionados keep on keepin' on. A few days after Pfizer's good vaccine news, Moderna says its vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective. "The results are 'truly striking,' said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government's top infectious diseases expert. Earlier this year, Fauci said he would be happy with a COVID-19 vaccine that was 60% effective."

+ And more good news: The vaccine is "more stable than expected at temperatures that ordinary refrigerators can provide and can be distributed using existing cold-chain shipping and storage infrastructure." Moderna's vaccine needs to be kept cold, Pfizer's needs to be kept really, really cold.


In the Meantime…

"A devastating surge is now under way. And worse, we are entering this dreadful period without the kind of leadership or preparation we need, and with baseline numbers that will make it difficult to avoid a dramatic rise in hospitalizations, deaths, and potential long-term effects on survivors. Almost every day, America is breaking new records in confirmed cases: They are up 40 percent from just one week ago. These cases are not confined to a region or a state; the whole nation is in the midst of a terrible surge. So, too, is much of Europe, where country after country is experiencing record numbers of cases." Zeynep Tufekci: It's Time to Hunker Down.

+ With Covid-19 cases at record levels, states are rolling out new restrictions.

+ NYT: Doctors Are Calling It Quits Under Stress of the Pandemic.

+ "My parents lived a good life, and they were at the end of their road. They got married 76 years ago during World War II once they'd finally saved up enough of their sugar rations to bake a proper wedding cake. They loved telling that story. Everybody was sacrificing for the war. It was a national effort. They were proud of it. The country had bigger problems, and their wedding cake could wait." This is another must-read from Eli Saslow's Voices from the Pandemic series. Tom Dean: Election Day is over, and guess what?


Game Plan

"Our findings show video games aren't necessarily bad for your health; there are other psychological factors which have a significant effect on a persons' well-being ... In fact, play can be an activity that relates positively to people's mental health – and regulating video games could withhold those benefits from players." Study suggests video games can help mental health. (If this is true, my son could be the wellest being of all time...)


In Don We Trust

"The point of conspiratorial narratives and apocalyptic rhetoric is to lay the groundwork for a politics of total obstruction, in preparation for the return of a "legitimate" ruler. The best guess is that religious authoritarianism of the next four years will look a lot like it did in the last four years. We ignore the political implications for our democracy at our peril." Katherine Stewart in the NYT: Trump or No Trump, Religious Authoritarianism Is Here to Stay. "Their unlikely ally may have lost the White House, but Christian nationalists still plan to win the war."


Rupert’s Ruse

"Rupert Murdoch doesn't believe Trump was cheated. But he's letting Fox personalities spin tales that could permanently harm America." Peter Kafka: Fox News's election fraud pandering may be its most dangerous lie yet.

+ Frustrated with "censorship," Conservatives Flock To Mercer-Funded Parler. (Parler should secede.)


Master of His Domain

Dustin Johnson won The Masters by a lot. And he did it without looking at the scoreboard or past records. "'I didn't want it to affect the way I played. I just didn't look at it. I took what the course gave me and hit the shots I felt I could hit.' Coming down 18, though, he finally gave in. Johnson turned to his brother Austin, who conveniently doubles as his caddie, and asked where he stood. 'I told him he had a five-shot lead,' Austin recalled. 'I could kick it in from there. He had no clue.'"

+ And DeAndre Hopkins' may have made the best hail mary catch ever. Here's the video of the play.


Bird’s Eye

"He set the camera at a low angle near the water and waited in a camouflaged blind for the bird to appear, getting the shot with a remote shutter release. His amazing photograph captures a graceful, poetic dance." Wired: A Perfect Photo of a Kingfisher, 720K Pictures in the Making.


Isn’t That Precious

"Powell and Davies had a potential fortune on their hands, but they also had a problem. It is standard practice for detectorists to come to an agreement, preferably in writing, with a landowner whose fields they wish to scan, in order to avoid charges of trespassing or ownership disputes over finds." Rebecca Mead in The New Yorker: The Curse of the Buried Treasure. (Sometimes life imitates art. Sometimes it imitates a Scooby Doo episode...)


Bottom of the News

"Despite the pandemic — and the fact that Santa's age and weight put him at high risk for severe illness from the coronavirus — mall owners are going ahead with plans to bring him back this year. But they are doing all they can to keep the jolly old man safe, including banning kids from sitting on his knee, no matter if they've been naughty or nice. Kids will instead tell Santa what they want for Christmas from six feet away, and sometimes from behind a sheet of plexiglass."

+ SpaceX Crew-1 team harnesses the Force by bringing Baby Yoda with them to space 7.

"Canadian researchers say they've developed a game-changing method to treat alcohol poisoning — and it involves literally breathing alcohol out of the body by hyperventilating." (No wonder I couldn't get a decent buzz on election night.)