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Check Ins, Reassurances, and Concerns, 11/30

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.30.20

This is intended to be our system for checking in on imaginary friends, so that we know whether or not to be concerned if you go offline for a while. There is no way it could function as that sentence implies, but it's still nice to have a thread.

Episode 56



 

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Not Feeling The Joementum

Posted by Ogged
on 11.30.20

I think it's the kids' Big Nate books that have "yo mama" jokes in them, so yesterday the boys and I were trying to think up some good ones. Much as I love my children, this wasn't something they were great at, but I did come up with "Yo mama so fat, call me Ishmael," which I thought was pretty solid, though it did require some explanation.

That aside, tell me I'm wrong here: Joe Manchin has already said he won't support getting rid of the filibuster, so even if the Democrats win both Georgia senate seats, the best they can do is executive actions (when did these become such a thing? Bush II? It's such a chaotic way to run things) and whatever Manchin (or the most conservative Dem on any given topic) agrees to, which is not, to put it optimistically, going to be any progressive dream. And that's if Democrats win both seats, which is already a long shot. If they don't manage that, Biden will be lucky to even staff his cabinet, let alone pass legislation.

In either scenario, building a case for reelection is going to be tough, Republicans will have four years to disenfranchise more people, Fox News will maintain its hold on people's minds, and if a Republican is elected to the presidency in 2024, we'll be lucky to have anything like a fair national election in the foreseeable future. Tell me I'm wrong!

(Incidentally, in the interest of information gathering, we had a consultation with a Canadian immigration lawyer a couple of weeks ago. There are ways to get up there if you can get a job first, but in their "Express Entry" track, you need about 470 points out of a possible 600 to qualify, and we had to laugh when we found out that if you're between 20 and 29 years old, they shower you with 100 points just for existing, and if you're 45 or older, you get...zero.)



 

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Herd-ish brakes on outbreaks?

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.30.20

So, Covid cases have been trending down in the US for the past week. Presumably this is very short term, because we're very nearly to the end of the 5-7 day incubation period since Thanksgiving. Soon this trend will be affected by Thanksgiving behavior, and we'll know how this national experiment went.

But for the time being: Daily Covid rates seem to spike and then come down again. There doesn't seem to be a predetermined ceiling necessary to the spikes, but each outbreak seems to have one.

Here's a dumb question: Is it strictly a matter of human behavior that turns things around? This map makes it look like Americans didn't change their behavior 2-3 weeks ago, in terms of staying home. I can't find anyone publishing mask-wearing rates over time. Is it just that the states with no masks have incrementally begun wearing masks?

I have a separate theory, and I'm curious to know if it could be a factor. I know we're nowhere close to herd immunity, but I also know that people's networks of exposure are complicated. You can have many mutually disjoint subgraphs that roughly share goegraphy and time. It seems to me that if a particular sub-graph of people were all hit by an outbreak, then that subgraph has some herd immunity, and can act as a bottleneck against spread to certain subgraphs that are connected by fewer hubs to the larger graph.

For example: suppose it rips through all the college-age kids working at a grocery store. Or all people who go to a specific church. Then I would think that a month later, that grocery store or church is less likely to be a low-level source of contagion. Or whichever type of person is most likely to exhibit superspreader behavior: if a sufficient portion of those people in a community contract Covid and get over it, then that seems like it could curb the peak of the outbreak, without anyone changing their behavior. If many of these nexuses of contagion are getting checked off, then it seems like a peak could occur.

I'm not saying that we're anywhere near herd immunity on a mass scale, but rather that things proceed in fits and starts, because once the virus rips through a small cohort, it sort of salts the earth behind it in terms of pathways it can take to new cohorts. Then over time, the virus would reach different hubs and cases would spike again.

I'm sure epidemiologists have interesting graph theory results about all this. I'm also sure that it's only somewhat supported by contact tracing, because no one is able to maintain contact tracing at peak outbreak levels.



 

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Weekend Longread

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.29.20

Infertility is an intense topic, and Lena Dunham seemingly only has one mode - to be intense and polarizing. This article is about Dunham's desire and struggle to have a baby.

First, I do think she's an excellent writer. Second, infertility is such a hard, sympathetic struggle and at the same time, Dunham's shtick is generally to be exasperating and deliberately unsympathetic. For me, she stays on the tightrope of sympathetic and honest, but you may feel differently!

via



 

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News Draw Down

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.27.20

So at some point there won't be as much news, objectively speaking. No one in the Biden administration is setting up a backchannel line to Russia while they announce a ban on Muslims and Gorsuch's Supreme Court nomination and whatever else dominated January 2017. There were so many weeks with jaw-dropping headlines that buried regular headlines.

Of course, when things truly, eventually calm down again, most news organizations will go back to filling the space with the wrong non-scandals and ignoring the simmering festering issues that need attention during the slow weeks. But at least there will be slow weeks again, at some point.

And so by the Intermediate Value Theorem, there will be a moment over the next six months or so when we achieve media perfection. There will be a stretch when the size of the news stories perfectly match the available pixels of the newspapers and news organizations. Ah, what a moment that will be.



 

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Cranberry Sauce Day

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.26.20

Bostoniangirl tipped me off that Alice Brock (of the song) has a GoFundMe to help with medical bills.

Money, something she has never respected -- "until now," she laughs, -- is in such short supply that her friend Dini Lamot, a.k.a. Musty Chiffon, a former member of the late 1970s punk band Human Sexual Response, has organized a GoFundMe campaign titled "You Can Give Anything You Want" to help her.
Brock was recently discharged after nine months in Cape Cod Hospital, where she was treated for stage four chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Yes, she smoked -- three packs a day until age 50, when "the Mad Russian," Yefim Shubentsov, kind of hypnotized her, she says.

And you deserve a buried link yourself, reprobates.

We're just hanging out at home with ourselves today. It's also Pokey's 10th birthday. I surveyed everyone for their essential side dish, and got six different answers, so I ordered sides from a local restaurant. I'll do the turkey and the cranberry sauce, because roasting a turkey is not very hard, and the cranberry sauce is the most important part to me.




 

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