Tag Archives: science

How come liberals don’t get as upset about automobile or smoking deaths as the Trump Virus, huh?

The title stems from an argument I see on FB a lot: cigarettes and cars (and other things) kill way more people than the Trump Virus so fussing about the virus is just a way to smear Glorious Supreme Leader Trump. Celebrity pseudo-intellectual Dr. Phil made the same comparison on a recent TV appearance. As Philip Bump points out at the link, this ignores that government and NGOs have worked for years to reduce car deaths, tobacco deaths, etc. We require seat belts and airbags in cars; we radically restrict where people can smoke. Both have cut the death tolls immensely.

As Bump points out in another article, this argument also ignores a)we don’t know the total death toll from the pandemic yet; b)the difference between a pandemic and an auto accident is the ability to transmit the disease to other people. It’s as if cars with failing brakes could weaken the brakes on other vehicles around them — and if they could, it’s a safe bet that we’d see a whole bunch of new restrictions.

In other COVID-19 science and society-related links:

No, the Trump Virus isn’t a Chinese bioweapon, but a lot of people still believe conspiracy theories about COVID-19. Among other reasons, blaming the pandemic on a conspiracy helps make sense of it.

Because of social distancing, we haven’t had as many deaths as Trump Virus models projected. So conservatives now argue using models is bad. Camestros Felapton has more.

Kentucky and Rhode Island have performed the same number of tests, but their situations are different.

If we follow what seems the obvious approach — channel our limited pandemic resources where they’ll do the most good — we’ll wind up favoring whites over blacks.

LEGO is mass-manufacturing visors for healthcare workers. Some of whom are taking legal action over their lack of protection.

How satire tackled the 19th century Russian flu.

The Notre Dame Cathedral reconstruction has stopped dead during the pandemic. Will the cathedral deteriorate further before work resumes?

Stay-in-place orders are not at all unprecedented in times of plague.

Will blooming California wildflowers lure people to congregate in parks?

What if your appliance breaks down while you’re still in quarantine?

Out of yeast? You can make your own.

The drug Trump touted as a potential cure for the Trump Virus? No benefit, more deaths. And the vaccine expert in charge of COVID-19 vaccine research has been fired for pushing back against using the drug.

 

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Black comedy and the Trump Virus

A number of political bloggers have described our current situation — idiot authoritarian putting his useless son-in-law in charge of a medical crisis — is a banana-republic kind of thing. Me, I’ve come to see it as a kind of black comedy about the British aristocracy at its worst. Only very black, and not very funny.

In this view of things, Trump is a duke from some hideously inbred line of aristocrats. He’s stupid and feckless, but with his distinguished pedigree and his vicious willingness to lash out at anyone who questions him, lots of people are perfectly willing to treat him as if he were worthy of respect. Jared is the equivalent of an airheaded fop, the kind of nitwit who populates so many P.G. Wodehouse stories. Except Wodehouse’s protagonists are invariably decent; in a pandemic they might have no idea what to do, but if it were pointed out, they’d do the right thing. Kushner not so much. Whoever’s behind seizing state Trump Virus supplies, for instance, they’re not doing the right thing.

And this article about Trump’s endorsement of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment has Trump, Giulani and an economic adviser admitting they don’t know nothin’ ’bout medicine, but they did stay in a Holiday Inn last night — well about that level of rationality.

And we have the Republicans horrified, like countless earlier generations of aristocrats, that doing anything to help the peasantry will give them ideas they have rights. That they can get better treatment! They might realize Medicare for all is affordable! BBut I’m sure right wingers will be happier with new proposals such as “pitching a payroll-tax cut, a capital-gains tax cut, creating 50-year Treasury bonds to lock in low interest rates, and a waiver that would clear businesses of liability from employees who contract the coronavirus on the job.” Yes, the poor and small business owners suffering from the Trump Virus will certainly be able to survive on their 50-year-treasury bonds!

But looking at the effects on the ground, it’s not funny. It’s true all governments struggle with the unexpected, but Trump’s White House has been exceptionally bad. “It took 70 days from that initial notification for Trump to treat the coronavirus not as a distant threat or harmless flu strain well under control, but as a lethal force that had outflanked America’s defenses and was poised to kill tens of thousands of citizens. That more-than-two-month stretch now stands as critical time that was squandered.” Doctors are going above and beyond — why isn’t Trump? Okay, the question’s rhetorical, it’s because he cares far more about avoiding any blame than actually solving the crisis. See, easy?

And does Trump’s support for using a malarial drug to treat the Trump Virus have anything to do with the manufacturer paying for access to him? (or, as noted in that hydroxychloroquine article, that he and a lot of people in his orbit have investments that would benefit). I’ve heard similar points made about our government scooping up N95 masks — privatized contractors will get to distribute them and profit thereby. More on the science here.

In other Trump Virus news:

Sean Hannity now insists he took the virus seriously from day one. He lies. And lies some more.

With Diamond, the only remaining comics distributor, shutting down for now, comics companies are searching for solutions.

Andrew Lloyd Webber is streaming his musical on YouTube for free.

More on the Internet Archive undermining copyright during the crisis. And the incredibly intrusive proctoring/data gathering checking on college students taking tests online.

 

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Two good coronavirus articles.

First, Daniel Drezner of the WaPo on why even if coronavirus isn’t super-lethal, taking precautions matters: we’ve no vaccine and even if it’s only flu-class in seriousness, a wide spread of patients that sick could overwhelm the healthcare system.

Second, a reporter on where the information is murky and what questions reporters should ask.

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Science/tech links and SF comics cover art

What is Stockholm Syndrome and does it really happen?

Could the U.S. government shut down our Internet?

How good are online DNA testing services?

Antarctic temperatures are hitting 60 and 70 degrees. It’ll get worse.

IBM touted Watson as the AI that could cure cancer. They overhyped.

The Pentagon is sitting on a lot of the bandwidth needed for 5G networks.

Some hospitals think a great way to train medical students in pelvic exams is to have them make exams on unconscious patients without their consent. This may be even creepier.

IBM touted Watson as the AI that could cure cancer. They overhyped.

What we can learn about the past by studying tooth tartar.

New ideas about how humans feel pain.

I’ve always thought of clothes moths as a problem left behind in our past. But no, they’re not.

The secrets behind the E-13B typographic characters.

With so much proprietary software in farm equipment, John Deere claims farmers have no right to make their own repairs.

#SFWApro. Cover by Jack Kirby, Bob Brown, Kirby, Brown, Sheldon Moldoff and Murphy Anderson.

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Once again, science links and science-fiction comics covers

Wow, that’s alarming. Scammers are using computer voice-fakes to impersonate people and swindle businesses by phone.

How the anti-vaccine movement got so big.

Baby Tyrannosaurus rexes were covered with down, like chickens.

Scientist David Shiffman writes about dealing with anti-Semitism in science.

A blogger suggests creationists attend science conferences, if only to know what the science is.

Turtle tracks vs. creationists.

Pseudoscience about racial differences still shapes medicine today.

An extinct bird has re-evolved. It’s not as miraculous as it sounds: there’s an island where a flightless rail has been wiped out repeatedly, but rails continue to land there, repopulate and lose their wings once again. Still pretty cool, though.

My fellow Atomic Junkshop blogger Jim MacQuarrie on how our visions of SF future have changed for the worse.

Evidence for the twin primes hypothesis.

Scientific evidence our dogs love us.

Women in science vs. stereotypes.

Earth’s magnetic poles swap positions more frequently than we thought.

The impact of climate change on French wine.#SFWApro. Covers, top to bottom, by Gil Kane, Murphy Anderson, Carmine Infantino, Kane, Kane, Anderson, Anderson, Kane, Kane, Anderson. All rights remain with current holders.

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Once again, science links and science-fiction comics covers

Trump thinks Google is working for the Chinese government, based on the ironclad evidence of a discussion on Fox News.

An astronomer faked a video claiming a government cover-up of our imminent destruction by a rogue planet. People believed it.

With antibiotics losing their punch, are bacteria-targeting viruses a viable alternative?

I don’t want to contradict an obvious expert but I don’t believe country music actually changes listeners DNA.

Does the Superhuman email client software have a dark side?

 

Holy shit, tardigrades have landed on the moon?

What happens when a tectonic plate dies?

 

Baking bread with 4,500 year old yeast. I soooo want to do this now.

Changes in singing styles are why stars such as Adele keep losing their voice.

Debates in the medical world over whether the New England Journal of Medicine is on the wrong track.

Can genetic engineering save the American chestnut tree?

Has Sweden perfected recycling?

#SFWApro. Covers top to bottom by Bob Brown, Dick Dillin, Bob Brown, Lou Cameron, Ruben Moreira and Brown again, all rights to images remain with current holders.

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Science and comic book science fiction covers

Once again, a mix of visuals and interesting links.

A thought experiment suggests at least one of quantum mechanics’ principles (the theory is universal; it’s consistent; and two contradictory facts cannot both be true) are wrong.

How the right wing came to embrace the anti-vaxxer movement. Oh, and Russia helped.

“Someone I was dating asked me if I could reschedule my period so it didn’t coincide with his birthday.” A look at things too many men don’t know about women’s bodies.

How worried should we be about facial recognition software?

Andrew Wiles cracked Fermat’s last theorem. He almost blew it.

Researchers look at black genes to explain racial differences when they should be focused on black lives.

IP mapping and its discontents. An article at Citylab argues this is one reason why print maps are still useful.

“Most people struggle with the idea that medicine is all about probability.” A look at why a lot of what doctors do to treat us doesn’t make a difference.

#SFWApro. All covers by Gil Kane, rights to covers remain with current holder.

 

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Science and science fiction covers

Once again, a mix of science links with DC science fiction comics covers.

The many worlds theory of quantum mechanics says every quantum action creates a new universe. Philip Ball sees some problems with this. Researcher Heinrich Pas argues that all these universes are just faces of an underlying quantum reality.

Turns out blockchains aren’t unhackable.

The struggle to preserve Stonehenge.

Forensic science is more fallible than we think. And facial recognition systems in China labeled a woman as a jaywalker after seeing her photo on the side of a bus.

Why so many new transportation ideas founder because of tunnels.

Blogs and media threw a lot of attention at a study that claimed women had better orgasms with rich men. The later retraction by the authors? Not so much coverage.

Could elephants qualify for personhood?

Paleontologists claim to have discovered a major site that captures the day the dinosaurs died. National Geographic on what it means and why there are skeptics.

#SFWApro. All rights to covers remain with current holders. Covers top to bottom by J. Winslow Mortimer, Gil Kane, Murphy Anderson, Murphy Anderson, Anderson again and Gil Kane.

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Real science links and DC Weird Science covers

As I’m getting reorganized after Mysticon a simple links and  images post:

Hand transplant surgeons say they’re so routine now that they should be covered by insurance. Not everyone agrees.

A biologist discusses his feelings after an AI outperformed him. Another researcher says scientists using AI for data analysis are doing it wrong.

How much of the Internet is fake?

Flying cop cars!

A scientist offers revolutionary evidence that heart cells can regenerate. Years later, the results turn out to be bogus. The unsettling thing for me is that even though good science requires replicating results, repeated failures by other labs to confirm the findings didn’t seem to matter (one doctor dismissed the researchers as simply not being good enough to make regeneration work).

And despite the FBI’s claims, the science behind its photo analysis evidence looks dubious too.

#SFWApro. Covers (top to bottom) by Gil Kane, Ruben Moreira, Murphy Anderson and Anderson again, then Ruben Moreira. All rights to images remain with current holder.

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Let’s science! SF covers and science links

Images and links have no relation to each other, in case you were wondering.

(Art by Schinella)

A prominent lab generated multiple research studies whose conclusions (kids will eat fruit if you just put a sticker of Elmo on it!) went viral. It appears they got the results by fudging data a lot.

The Stanford prison experiment showed that people given the power to abuse others will use it. Except it doesn’t hold up.

(Art uncredited)

Companies are embedding microchips in employees. With their consent, so far anyway.

(Earl Bergey)

How much does culture affect psychology?

(Uncredited)

Private space launches are now competing for aerospace with plane flights.

Meet the tardigrates, Earth’s most indestructible animal.

(Powers)

Lots of information now lies in programs so old they’re no longer readable, or on CD-Roms. Researchers hope to develop a universal virtual computer that can read them.

Rich people’s interest in the future of technology? Surviving while the world dies.

#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holder.

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