Thursday, May 27th, 2021


Hide and Sick

Scheduling note: I'll be off tomorrow. See you back here after the weekend.

After year and a half of living and dying with Covid-19, we've learned a lot about it, from how it spreads to how to create effective vaccines. The one thing we still don't know for sure is where exactly it came from. There hasn't been any new evidence lately, but there has been an increased interest in finding some. "The idea that the coronavirus could have leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China — instead of jumping from animals to humans — was dismissed as a conspiracy theory by many scientists a year ago. That has changed now. As Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden's chief medical adviser, told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday: 'The historical basis for pandemics evolving naturally from an animal reservoir is extremely strong. And it's for that reason that we felt that something similar like this has a much higher likelihood. No one knows, not even I, 100% at this point, which is the reason why we are in favor of further investigation.'" NPR: Why A Lab In Wuhan Is Worth A Closer Look As A Possible Source Of The Pandemic.

+ An increased focus doesn't necessarily mean we'll find an answer. Investigating something in America is hard enough, but this would require some cooperation from China (or at least some lab rats willing to whistle-blow). China hits back as US revisits Wuhan lab-leak theory. China isn't going to do this search party any favors.

+ Daniel Engber in The Atlantic: "It might have started in the wild, or it might have started in a lab. We know enough to acknowledge that the second scenario is possible, and we should therefore act as though it's true." (The point is to figure out ways to keep this from happening again, even though it often seems like the point is scoring political points.)


Your Money and Your Life

Maybe we just need to offer a prize to the person who finds the origin of the virus. It seems to be working for vaccines. In Ohio, "more than 2.7 million adults signed up for the $1 million prize and more than 104,000 children ages 12 to 17 entered the drawing for the college scholarship, which includes tuition, room and board, and books." ‘A whirlwind': 1st Ohio vaccine lottery winners speak out. (We got effective vaccines for a killer virus in record time. All of humanity won the lottery.)

+ "Herd immunity is not a moment in time. President Biden is never going to say: 'Today, at 9:04 A.M., on the deck of the U.S.S. Moderna, the virus known as SARS-CoV-2 signed our general terms of surrender.' Instead, this virus is slowly becoming endemic: something we live with." Donald G. McNeil Jr: The End IS Near. No, Seriously.


Arc Rivals

"Just as American troops began leaving the country in early May, Taliban fighters besieged seven rural Afghan military outposts across the wheat fields and onion patches of the province, in eastern Afghanistan. The insurgents enlisted village elders to visit the outposts bearing a message: Surrender or die." NYT: A Wave of Afghan Surrenders to the Taliban Picks Up Speed. (In Afghanistan, the arc of history sure seems to bend away from justice.)


January 6 Feet Under

"Michael Fanone, who suffered a heart attack and concussion while responding to the Jan. 6 attack, and Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn, who was pepper sprayed and maced while defending the Capitol, are slated to join Sicknick and Garza in some of their Senate meetings. Fanone had unsuccessfully sought a face-to-face with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy when that chamber was deliberating over the riot commission bill." Mother of deceased Capitol Police officer presses GOP senators to back Jan. 6 commission. (In this case, appealing to one's decency is unlikely to move the needle.)


See Spot Run Code

"A beige dog with a red bandanna went to an eighty-five-year-old man named Bill Pittman, who lives in a tidy mobile home filled with piles of quilts sewn by his deceased wife. "I'm legally blind. I can't do a heck of a lot," he told me. The dog's barking broke up the days. 'It's good for a person who doesn't have anybody else,' he said. 'I went to get her some water the other day. She wouldn't drink it.' ... "Did you think she might?' I asked ... 'No,' Bill said. 'I just kid around with her.'" The her in question is a robotic pet. Katie Engelhart in The New Yorker: What Robots Can—and Can't—Do for the Old and Lonely. (Half the time I try to visit my mom, she says she's too busy. Maybe the robot will have more luck.)


One Flew Over the Cooper’s Nest

"Amy Cooper filed a federal lawsuit this week against Franklin Templeton, saying the company never investigated the incident that led to her firing — the confrontation between her and Christian Cooper. Her lawsuit claims that her employer discriminated against her because of her race and gender." Fired After Calling 911 On A Black Bird-Watcher, Amy Cooper Sues For Discrimination. (We are stuck in a vortex of stupid.)


Get Your Mind Out of the Gutter

"Pinel cautioned the teenager that the road ahead would be difficult. He would first have to earn a degree in mechanical or chemical engineering, after which he'd need vast amounts of persistence and luck: The number of full-time bowling ball designers in the world could be counted on two hands." Wired: One Man's Amazing Journey to the Center of the Bowling Ball. (It always comes down to working the core.)


Little League of Legends

"Reardon hasn't forgotten, either. 'I don't need closure,' he said, assuring me that his family 'laughs about it sometimes.' And yet he still finds himself Googling Sanfilippo and his son late at night. Reardon still considers Sanfilippo a 'jackass' and 'pathetic.' His son is a 'garbage kid.' He still remembers the last time he saw Sanfilippo, in a parking lot outside a baseball field. 'Can't you just live your life?' Sanfilippo asked. Reardon scowled. 'Not until you're dead.'" David Gauvey Herbert in Esquire with a wild look Inside Youth Baseball's Most Notorious Dad-On-Dad Rivalry. (I used to coach my son's little league team with a local sheriff. I never realized how lucky I was to have the law on my side.)


Joint Venture

"So, how difficult is it for an incarcerated person to run for president? Not very, at least from a legal standpoint." Slate: Can Trump Run for President From Prison? (If he did, I bet it wouldn't diminish the support from his base one bit.)

+ "Nationally, the survey found that a whopping 15% of Americans—roughly 31 million people—believed in the completely unfounded claim that 'the government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation.'"


Bottom of the News

"Researchers have discovered that prolonged immersion in a piping hot bath has many of the same medical benefits as aerobic exercise." (You verify the science. I'll fire up the jets.)

+ If you're too warm in the hot tub, here are 25 Fun Facts About Iceland.