Tuesday, May 26, 2020

They're Alive And They're Human...

...Therefore, They Must Be Stock Of A Capital Nature.




Monday, May 25, 2020

What If We Produce A Safe And Effective Vaccine Against SARS-CoV-2 And...

...Many Refuse To Take It?

The following is from Sarah Zhang writing in The Atlantic:

...There is no COVID-19 vaccine, but there are already COVID-19 vaccine conspiracies. Even as vaccines for the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 are being held up as the last hope for a return to normalcy, misinformation about them is spreading. A more fraught scenario for science communication is hard to imagine: a novel vaccine, probably fast-tracked, in the middle of a highly politicized and badly mishandled pandemic.

“I was initially optimistic that, when people felt the need for a COVID-19 vaccine, the anti-vaccination movement would undergo a period of retreat,” says Peter Hotez, a vaccine scientist at Baylor College of Medicine, who has himself become a frequent target of vaccine skeptics. “It’s actually had the effect of reinvigorating the anti-vaccine movement.”...


Like me until relatively recently, you may have thought that the anti-vaxxers are just a lunatic fringe group whose arguments do not really matter in the grand scheme of the thinking of the rational 'rest of us'.

Clinician-scientist David Gorski, who has bona-fides that I trust in this fight, begs to differ:

...I admire Dr. Hotez to death, but until recently he really was quite na├»ve about the antivaccine movement, as are many doctors and scientists. I even fell into that category several years ago, thinking that vaccines are the victims of their own success and that, because we don’t see the mass suffering now due to the diseases we now vaccinate against, the return of such an infectious disease (or diseases) would lead antivaxxers to reassess. However, this reaction of the antivaccine movement to COVID-19 should have been very predictable, just based on the experience from last year. As we saw then, with the return of measles in so many places due to low uptake of the MMR vaccine, the antivaccine movement was unmoved. In fact, it doubled down...

So, why should we be concerned about these folks and and their conspiratorial spewing of demonstrable falsehoods?

Well, as Gorski explains, one reason to be concerned is the fact that they have become very good at disseminating their 'messages' in a highly transmissible, essentially viral, manner on social media platforms. Additionally, they are one of the few groups anywhere that managed to forge  bipartisan political alliances that are now beginning to tilt rightward:

...Despite the image of antivaxxers being hippy dippy, granola crunching lefties, in fact, antivaccine views are roughly equally prevalent on the political right and the left, and this has been true for a long time. However, over the last decade (and in particular since the passage of SB 277 in California to outlaw nonmedical exemptions to school vaccine mandates), increasingly the antivaccine movement has been appealing to the right more than the left through the use of conservative-friendly rhetoric of “freedom”, “parental rights”, and the portrayal of school vaccine mandates as overweening government overreach...

It's a very worrying situation, indeed.

And it would seem that the sooner it is dealt with effectively, the better.

Kevin Roose also wrote an excellent Op-Ed piece on this topic recently in the New York Times.


Sometimes A Cigar Is Just A Cigar...

Michael Harris reports in The Tyee that the president of the CPC riding association in the bell weather riding of Pontiac Quebec has sent up a trial balloon:

...“Churchill was called out of retirement to take control of a desperate Britain in the autumn of 1939. Sometimes the man seeks the position. Sometimes the position seeks the man. Canadians need to draft Stephen Harper into service again.”...

Because......Austerity Uber Alles!

Good grief.



Sunday, May 24, 2020

Critics Say...


Back in the days when my former editor and I used to criss-cross the Western States looking for a place to hit dead ball fungos we had a saying that we first ripped off from the good Doctor Thompson and then mangled:

"When the going gets weird, the weird move to Oregon"

Who knew how right we would ultimately turn out to be...

...Oregon Republicans have nominated a high-profile backer of the QAnon conspiracy theory as their candidate for a US Senate seat.

Jo Rae Perkins, who defeated three other candidates in a primary contest to be the Republican candidate, said in a now-deleted video after her victory: “I stand with President Trump. I stand with Q and the team. Thank you Anons, and thank you patriots. And together, we can save our republic.”....


Just to be absolutely clear, this QAnon thing is filled to bursting with absolute falsehoods that are destroying the American body politic from the inside.

This is how Joan Greve describes it in the Guardian:

...The QAnon theory has been embraced by some of the president’s supporters and centers on an alleged government agent named “Q”, whose top security clearance has provided insight into a deep-state conspiracy involving everyone from Hillary Clinton to special counsel Robert Mueller.

It also posits that Donald Trump is leading a behind-the-scenes fight against powerful forces protecting satanic paedophile rings, and that Q leaves clues for followers to decipher on internet forums...

So, how does this garbage continue to get spread far and wide, and legitimized to the extent such that a proponent can win a major party US Senate seat primary?

Well, here is how the nice polite republicans (a.k.a. NPR) describes QAnon at Oregon Public Radio:

...Critics of QAnon say followers have promoted a number of baseless and sometimes dangerous conspiracy theories...

Do you see the problem there?

Our comment about Oregon wasn't meant to be derisive, it was just that things seemed so weirdly polarized in Oregon depending on which side of I-5 you found yourself on...
And just to be clear about all demonstrable falsehoodspreaders...There is absolutely no good reason to pay any attention to a certain  Ms. Coulter whatsoever...OK?


Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Gaslighter-In-Chief.


From the New York Times:

As the United States continues its advance toward 100,000 coronavirus deaths, a grim milestone the country is expected to reach in the coming days, President Trump and members of his administration have begun questioning the official coronavirus death toll, suggesting the numbers are inflated.

Most experts say the opposite is likely the case.

In White House meetings, conversations with health officials have returned to similar suspicions: that the data compiled by state health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include people who have died with the coronavirus but of other conditions...

So, according of these finest of the fine folks...

Up is down.

Black is white.

Two plus two equals Fifth Avenue.


Death is what, exactly?



Friday, May 22, 2020

Just Wanted To Check...

....To Make Sure I'm Still Ticking, Day 67.


Because even if the two kids from around the corner really are on permanent hiatus, if this still gets you going things are probably alright.


Will The Data Finally Kill The Treatment Zombie?


From Derek Lowe's latest, titled: Hydroxychloroquine: Enough Already?

At this point, it’s getting hard to see how the idea of a hydroxychloroquine (or hydroxychloroquine/azithromycin) therapy for coronavirus infection can be taken seriously....

First there is this:

...I reviewed some of the recent studies here, but missed a May 11 preprint from France that had claimed benefit for the combination. No matter, though: this was just withdrawn by the authors, who say that they are revising the manuscript...

And then there is this:

...This morning brings this paper from The Lancet. It’s a retrospective look at registered patients across 671 hospitals around the world, and it covers four patient groups: treatment with chloroquine, chloroquine plus a macrolide antibiotic (azithromycin, doxycycline), hydroxychloroquine, or hydroxychloroquine with a macrolide. All of these patients were started on these treatment regimens within 48 hours of diagnosis. The study specifically excludes those patients whose treatment started later, anyone whose therapy was started while they were on mechanical ventilation, or anyone received remdesivir as well. Early treatment in less severe patients only, in other words...

That last part is important, because a concern with some of the earlier studies that showed a lack of efficacy was that the treatments were started too late in the course of the disease

But what about sample size, cohorts, and confounding variables?

...96,032 patients were registered in these hospitals with the coronavirus during the study period (December 20, 2019 to April 14, 2020); this is a large data set. The mean age of the patients was just under 54 years, 54/46 male/female. 14,888 of them were in the treatment sets defined above: 1868 got straight chloroquine, 3783 got chloroquine with a macrolide, 3016 received hydroxychloroquine by itself, and another 6221 got HCQ with a macrolide). That leaves 81,144 patients as a control group getting other standard of care. Let’s note at the start that the authors controlled for a number of confounding factors (such as age, sex, race or ethnicity, body-mass index, cardiovascular disease and risk factors, diabetes, lung disease, smoking, immunosuppressed condition, and overall disease severity)...

Clearly, solid on those fronts. 

So, outcomes?

...The mortality in the control group was 9.3%. The mortality in the chloroquine group was 16.4%. The mortality in the chloroquine plus macrolide group was 22.2%. The mortality in the hydroxychloroquine group was 18%. And the mortality in the hydroxychloroquine plus macrolide group was 23.8%...

And, when you factor in the increases in cardiac arrhythmias, things get even worse for the treatment groups.

Thus, it would appear that, with data like these, this Zombie, errrrr, treatment is likely often contraindicated.


So, given all that, what will certain non-medical enablers do no now?

My prediction is a double-down on the prophylactic card.

Gosh, I wonder how that will turn out?

As we have mentioned in the past,
Dr. Lowe has both the bona fides and the track record to rigorously assess this stuff.



Thursday, May 21, 2020

Anti-Shelter-In-Placeism Is Not A Good Thing.

The above graphic is from Norm Farrell on the Twittmachine and he has been using it to pushback, hard, against people that spew shite about how strict shelter-in-place (i.e. lockdown) policies are pointless.

It now turns out that Sweden, which has no such policy in place, actually compares badly not just to its Scandinavian neighbours as shown by Norm above, but also to the entire world.

Very badly, indeed:

Sweden has now overtaken the UK, Italy and Belgium to have the highest coronavirus per capita death rate in the world, throwing its decision to avoid a strict lockdown into further doubt.

According to figures collated by the Our World in Data website, Sweden had 6.08 deaths per million inhabitants per day on a rolling seven-day average between May 13 and May 20.

This is the highest in the world, above the UK, Belgium and the US, which have 5.57, 4.28 and 4.11 respectively...



It Would Be A Real Shame If....Something Were To Happen To Your Federal Funding.


From the New York Times, unbylined:

Mr. Trump visited Michigan on Thursday, paying a visit to a key swing state where the virus has become a polarizing flashpoint just a day after he threatened to withhold federal funding from it for taking steps to make it easier to vote by mail amid the pandemic...


When everyone votes mobsters lose.

Or some such Breitbartian thing.

Meanwhile,  the latest hired liar breaks both of the truth's legs in 58 seconds flat.


Subsidy Signaling?


It would seem that a lot of folks, including at least one Wachowski sister, are upset about a recent tweet from Mr. Elon Musk, he of the Fremont Factory virus incubator:

Sure, taking that particular pill in the movie was about choosing to take the journey, eyes wide open.

But, as Nelly Bowles notes in the New York Times, the act, or making the statement at least has come to mean something different in the not-so-real internet world of deep statery:

...The idea of taking the red pill later grew to mean waking up to society’s grand lies. It was embraced by the right, especially by members of its youngest cohort who organized and spent their time in online forums like Reddit and 4chan.

The truth to be woken up to varied, but it ended up usually being about gender. To be red-pilled meant you discovered that feminism was a scam that ruined the lives of boys and girls. In this view, for a male to refuse the red pill was to be weak.

Red Pill forums were often filled with deeply misogynistic and often racist diatribes. The more extreme elements splintered into groups like involuntary celibates (“incels”) or male separatists (Men Going Their Own Way, or MGTOWs). Conferences like the 21 Convention and its sister convention, Make Women Great Again, sprang up to gather red-pilled men. Being red-pilled became a sort of umbrella term for all of it.

As these conversations seeped into the mainstream, pulled along by a host of other internet language from message boards to establishment Republican conversations on sites like Breitbart, the meaning broadened and got watered down. To be red-pilled can now mean being broadly skeptical of experts, to be distrustful of the mainstream press or to see hypocrisy in social liberalism...

But what about that red rose in the tweet?


...Musk’s tweet also appeared to align him with the Democratic Socialists of America — thanks to the red rose emoji which is a symbol for the organisation...


Is it possible that the good Mr. Musk was signaling that, despite the fact that he wants to do whatever he wants whenever he wants to do it that he still wants to keep on keepin' on getting those sweet, sweet government subsidy billions?

Los Angeles entrepreneur Elon Musk has built a multibillion-dollar fortune running companies that make electric cars, sell solar panels and launch rockets into space.

And he’s built those companies with the help of billions in government subsidies.

Tesla Motors Inc., SolarCity Corp. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., known as SpaceX, together have benefited from an estimated $4.9 billion in government support, according to data compiled by The (Los Angeles) Times...

A whole lot of the decidedly non-viruous signal amplification of this thing originated with the blundesttrumpenkinderkleist.