Moby writes: The CDC has changed its guidance on masks saying that you don't need to wear a mask outdoors if you are vaccinated and not in a crowd. As far as I can tell, that seems like good science, but now I have a social issue. If my goal is to not look like a Republican, does wearing a mask outdoors hurt or help? If nobody is near me, I haven't been wearing a mask outdoors in months, but I put one on when somebody gets within maybe 15' feet of me. From a loss-adverse, intersubjective Bayesian perspective, I think I keep doing that for a while. The chances that somebody thinks I'm wearing a mask because I'm unvaccinated and following the CDC guidance is probably trivial because. Except for a small number of people with contraindications, everybody who is listening to the CDC is vaccinated or about to be. But, if I don't wear a mask, the chances of being thought a Fox viewer are small, but not so small as to be trivial.
I might be overthinking this. I'll revisit next week.
Heebie's take: Jammies has a lot of concern about signaling that he is Not Them by wearing a mask. I mostly don't wear them at all outdoors. When everyone is way spread out and someone is still wearing a mask, I assume they either have a health condition or they're paranoid. That said, I would not want to be the only one maskless at an outdoor setting. That definitely makes you look like a Republican.
I went to my first large scale event the other day, a community lunch banquet. Eating indoors is such an absurdly large loophole for mask-safety. The eating part was much more surreal than just having two hundred people in a banquet hall, because suddenly everyone's masks came off and stayed off. There's no pretense that you try to keep your mask on, I guess, if you're the type of person who eats indoors with other people.
This article about the scientist Dr. Griffith and the study of endometriosis is interesting, but so very depressing. Basically, she's the scientist responsible for that photo of the ear growing out of the mouse's back that imprinted in my memory in the late 90's.
Circa 2007, as a well-established, famous researcher, she turns her attention to endometriosis due to her own experience with the disease, her niece's diagnosis, her awareness of how under-studied it is, and the extent to which it dovetailed with her existing research. That's the first thing that depresses me - that it's one of these "I'll solve the problem that is afflicting my family!" stories, except it requires an exceptionally well-positioned scientist and it only happened in the late aughts. It's not exactly Lorenzo's Oil.
This also depressed me:
Another area ripe for improvement is diagnosis. One of the most frustrating aspects of endometriosis is that women typically wait seven to 10 years or more to learn that they have the disease, a process that requires invasive surgery. Now, researchers are developing a simple test to screen for genetic markers of endometriosis in menstrual blood and return a near-instant diagnosis.
Just a few milliliters of this blood, collected on a sponge, provides a wealth of markers of health and disease, said Christine Metz, an immunologist at Northwell Health's Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research who is developing the test with Peter Gregersen, a geneticist there. Besides endometriosis, it could also help doctors screen for pelvic inflammation, infertility, fibroids, environmental toxins and early cancer.
"We were kind of surprised that it had been neglected as a natural resource," Dr. Metz said.
They soon discovered why. In 2018, Dr. Metz began approaching male gynecologists to ask their patients for menstrual samples, and "some people said we were completely insane," she recalled. Others, she added, "had never heard of a menstrual cup. Which was also, I'm going to say, disappointing."
First off, I know so many people who had symptoms for 10+ years before diagnosis. It just makes me furious.
Second, that menstrual blood has never been studied pisses me off. JFC. This gigantic thing that happens to half the people on this planet every month - that occupies so much of our mental bandwith - and occupies so little bandwidth of the scientists who are supposed to be curious investigators of the human body.
Anyway, the article is not supposed to be enraging. The tone is, "Objectively, this is a problem, and here's a human interest story about one lady-doctor's path to fighting it!" and somehow that generates much more anger than when Mother Jones writes well-researched but heavy-handed articles telling me how angry I should be. YMMV!
And one more thing! When I was trying to find the article this morning, I found this older article linking tanning beds to endometriosis, with this short line:
Five or more sunburns in adolescence increased the risk by 12 percent, and women who reported consistent use of sunscreen over the past summer -- suggesting an intention to sunbathe -- had a 10 percent increased risk for endometriosis.
I don't know if it's the journalist or the scientist who is using "sunscreen" as a heuristic for "sunbathing", but either way, they can fuck right off.
J. Pendleton Stormcrow writes: Arizona Republicans have embarked on a truly deranged "audit" of election results in Maricopa County (Phoenix and ~2/3 of the state's votes). The number of deviations from standard audit practices are legion (not to mention that there have already been three prior audits). The firm doing the audit is "Cyber Ninjas" whose owner shared "Stop the Steal" stuff on his now-deleted Twitter account. Security of the ballots has been compromised, press not allowed in, but it seems to be live streaming on OAN (who seems to be funding part of it). There appears to be some UV light scanning involved. Former guy has already tweeted in support of it; and I'm sure they will find something. This is the future of elections in Republican-controlled swing states. This Arizona data guy is who to follow if you want details as it happens--.@Garrett_Archer . As you may recall Arizona was decided by about twelve thousand votes, and its pattern was the reverse of other states as the D margin narrowed as late votes were counted.
I had planned a guest post for Heebie summarizing the election by the numbers that I never got around to sending her but this gives me an excuse to do so now. See below the fold.
-- Final margin was over 7 million--4.45%.. A decent-sized popular vote margin, somewhat more than Obama in 2012. Polls overstated it by a few percent (even a bit more than in 2016). And some Senate polls were massively off--Maine for instance). Exit polls were even more useless than usual this year.
--Turnout at 66.7%, highest since 2008. I noticed fewer premature hot takes about turnout compared to 2016 when they were rampant (is our pundits learning?). One exception were some touting Republican swings in New York state most of which evaporated when the worst election-administering blue state finally got things counted (like most big cities, within NYC there was an R shift as well as some close-in counties).
-- How close was it in the Electoral College other than "too damn close"? 65,009 votes would have swung it (compare with 77,744 for HRC). That would have been Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, and NE-2 switching. (And given that an EC tie would have had the House going for Trump under the arcane rules you could say that it was with 45K). As a percent of voters in the key states, I think HRC was a bit closer, but the "partisan bias" in the EC in 2020 was about ~4%, a bit larger than in 2016. Reapportionment if it had been in place in 2020 looks like it would have shifted 3 EVs from Biden to Trump (less than expected/feared).
-- Trivia question (answered in the comments after non-Googled guesses): What state had the highest raw Republican margin? For nearly 30 years it had been Texas, but not this year (Texas was second). Margin in that state was 708K. There were seven states with a larger margin for Biden; CA over 5 million. And this pattern is the root of the current "bias" in the EC vs. popular vote.
-- Speaking of the reapportionment, with the same results Rs would almost certainly have taken the House assuming current levels of gerrymandering (which may get much worse). Hard to be precise since the districts will be redrawn. However, Dave Wasserman is pretty confident that without the court-mandated un-gerrymandering of NC, PA and VA Rs would have taken the house in 2020 under current apportionment. At least there's the Supreme Court to keep things fair.... oh, wait.
-- Won't go into detail on the various court cases or the new R legislation but it is all trying to grease the rails for an R win in a similar future election. The scariest case was one in Wisconsin where in a 4-3 case one of the 3 "conservative" justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Courts indicated she would have tossed enough absentee ballots to swing it (but am not sure if the other 2 joined that part of the dissent). At least there's the Supreme Court to keep things fair.... oh, wait.
-- On the individual states, I was most disappointed in Texas (followed by Florida and Ohio*, but being disappointed by those two is hardly a thing anymore). I did not expect Georgia to come through after the initial results. I *did* expect PA to do so, but was in fact daunted by the size of the margin to be overcome. In fact early on the PA Dems did overestimate by a fair amount the size of the margin based on outstanding mail-in votes. For a brief period I thought PA might become a notorious example of Simpson's Paradox (election results version). Nearly every sub-entity swinging %-wise towards Biden, but the overall result swinging towards Trump.
*We can electorally gloat over Ohio here in Western PA, but doing a rough calculation Western PA on its own had a similar margin for Trump... sigh.
I'd write more on all of this but suddenly I am run over by a truck.
Heebie's take: Largest Republican advantage in raw numbers, at 708K? I'm going to guess...Oklahoma?
Mossy writes: When you play the game of thrones...
Heebie's take: yikes/whoa.
Lw writes: This dyspeptic essay gets a lot right in my opinion, not the last section. Along with manga and superheroes there are films like Parasite and more history being written than I can keep track of, though I'm not looking for an academic humanities position or trying to run a press or find readers for work like that. So I'm unsure about the sweeping tone. Along with clickbait factories, the other big recent change in my mind is internationalization, which on average hurts the quality of big-budget popular cultural work. I haven't looked to see whether the author is elsewhere objectionable or has written more that I'd like.
absolutely everything these days is being optimised, directly or indirectly, for social-media impact. This includes faculty decisions about university curricula, and it includes student protests against faculty decisions.
At the end of the day, my concern is that humanities education is subject to the same broad economic forces that are making books, movies, and everything else so infantile and worthless. And yet my progressive peers, when they see one humanities department after another getting axed by the upper administration, can come up with no better response to their students' work on, say, how Comic Con changed their lives or why the latest iteration of Mad Max is "feminist", than to declare: "Ah yes, the kids are alright."
Heebie's take: I'm having a hard time with this essay.
This much is all true: I believe that "quality television" is in fact of extremely low quality, that "YA literature" is not literature, that "OA literature" as it were looks more and more like YA with each passing year, that superhero movies are of course not cinema and that no self-respecting adult should ever watch them, except perhaps as an expression of love to some li'l tyke in their lives.
All I see when I google OA literature is Overeater's Anonymous. So I already don't know what we're talking about.
2. It's hard for me to pay attention to what he's saying. I keep thinking, "there are more people alive than ever, so it's probably true that there are more people invested in the humanities than ever. So even if the current fashion doesn't appeal to you, it'll probably swing back at some point."
And yet, here's something that at least some people understood perfectly well long before the phenomenologists became preoccupied with "the other": there are conditions under which that role of otherness, that second-person Thou status, does not need to be held by a person, or even an animate being at all, whether animal, angel, or God. It is enough, for an object of study to become the other pole of an I-Thou dyad, that one become sufficiently attentive to it, and, in attending to it, that one become aware of the moral dimensions of the emerging relationship.
You're really starting to lose me.
4. Regarding "the kids are alright":
(Side note: when The Who deployed this phrase in 1979, it was ironic, intended to convey the idea that the kids are actually kind of messed up.)
I don't think this is right. The actual song sounds like they're trying to import a quasi-50's bubblegum-ness to 1979...I just looked it up and the song is from 1966.
Among the many reasons I despise the habit of "stating one's pronouns", and resent being pressured to do so in professional settings, is that my preferred pronouns are not generally included in the list of options. I am not being facetious when I say this. Think for a moment about how strange it is to specify to other people which third-person pronouns you would like for them to use when they are talking about you, but not to you, as if this were the primary communicative context in which you might be expected to come up. [...] But more importantly, again, why leap right to the imagined scenarios in which we are being talked about, rather than encouraging others to think of us as the sort of being it is most appropriate to talk to? Treat me as a thou, I mean, and I assure you, the he or she or they of me will retreat into the background. It is almost as if this fashionable new emphasis on the third-person pronouns by which we talk about other human beings is announcing, unconsciously, the death of the humanities as a moral mode of engagement with other human selves. How can we sustain an I-Thou relationship with the things we study if we can't even sustain it with the people who are in the same conference room pretending to be studying alongside us?
Oh shut up.