Categories
Photography

Where I Can Find Some Peace and Rest

Where I Can Find Some Peace and Rest

Rain, Chicago.1 

Tri-X 400, in emulation. 

Nikon D7000
85.0 mm f/1.8 

Aperture: ƒ/4.5
Shutter: 1/50
ISO: 400

 

I took this photo December 22, 2014, and processed it in my digital darkroom on August 16th, 2020.

I’ve taken many photos of the Lake Street bridge over the Chicago River over the years. I should collect them all in one place. Maybe later…2 

Footnotes:
  1. Click to embiggen []
  2. Title partially nicked from Peter Tosh. []
Categories
politics

Trump Is Unsuited To Be President – Part the 543,678,654th

One Scared Little Man

These are not leadership qualities for an executive of a business, much less the president of a nation.

The lost days of summer: How Trump struggled to contain the virus – The Washington Post:

In Trump’s White House, there is little process that guides decision-making on the pandemic. The president has been focused first and foremost on his reelection chances and reacting to the daily or hourly news cycle as opposed to making long-term strategy, with Meadows and other senior aides indulging his impulses rather than striving to impose discipline.

What’s more, with polls showing Trump’s popularity on the decline and widespread disapproval of his management of the viral outbreak, staffers have concocted a positive feedback loop for the boss. They present him with fawning media commentary and craft charts with statistics that back up the president’s claim that the administration has done a great — even historically excellent — job fighting the virus.

A senior administration official involved in the pandemic response said, “Everyone is busy trying to create a Potemkin village for him every day. You’re not supposed to see this behavior in liberal democracies that are founded on principles of rule of law. Everyone bends over backwards to create this Potemkin village for him and for his inner circle.”

Government health officials are wary of saying anything publicly — even if they are merely speaking truth — that might be construed as contradicting the president or countering his rosy assessments.

One of the clearest examples of how fear and loyalty have infected the response came in Trump’s decision last month to begin formally withdrawing the United States from the World Health Organization. Many government officials hoped the president would not take that drastic step, but none had the courage to try forcefully to persuade him against a withdrawal by explaining that doing so would risk damaging not only the global response to the virus but also the U.S. response.
“Everybody is too scared of their own shadow to speak the truth,” said a senior official involved in the response.

What also has frustrated a number of the president’s allies and former aides is that he simply seems uninterested in asserting full leadership over the crisis, instead deferring to state leaders to make the more difficult decisions while using his presidential bully pulpit to critique their performances. He deputizes Pence to handle much of the actual communication with states and other stakeholders in the fight against the virus.
“If we want to return to school safely, we need not only adaptive safety practices at the schools but also lower amounts of virus in each community,” said Tom Bossert, a former White House homeland security adviser under Trump. “A suppression-level effort to shrink and not just mitigate the spread of covid requires a national strategy that includes standards and significant federal funding. Such a strategy is lacking right now.”

Categories
politics

Amy McGrath’s Senate Campaign Is In Real Trouble

Col Sanders Day 1995

Maybe McConnell’s opponent will not be decided so quickly after all. I’m not in Kentucky, but if I was, I’d probably vote for Charles Booker in the primary, and whoever wins that in the general…

Sarah Jones of New York Magazine reports:

Remember Amy McGrath? Maybe you do. In 2018, the Kentucky Democrat was briefly famous for a viral campaign ad and an ultimately doomed campaign to represent her state’s Sixth Congressional District. A moderate and a former Marine fighter pilot, McGrath is the apotheosis of a particular Democratic electoral strategy: to win in a conservative state, dispatch a veteran with lukewarm politics. That strategy didn’t put McGrath in the House in 2018. But two years later, Senate Democrats tried it again, pitting McGrath against a top prize: Mitch McConnell.

Now she might be lucky to win her primary race.

McGrath faces a robust challenge from Charles Booker, the youngest Black legislator in the Kentucky House of Representatives. Booker has run to her left, and while McGrath holds a major fundraising advantage, Booker is gaining significant momentum ahead of the primary on June 23. Two of the state’s largest newspapers have endorsed him, and on Tuesday, Booker earned another major supporter. Alison Lundergan Grimes, who challenged McConnell in 2014, endorsed him over McGrath.

Enthusiasm might not be enough to propel Booker to victory over McGrath, but it’s a symptom of a bigger problem. National Democrats think they know what Kentucky wants, but Kentucky may disagree. A theory that recommends McGrath over Booker is one worth reconsideration, and not only because Booker marshals local support that McGrath lacks. Whatever momentum McGrath may have been capable of generating, she stifled. Her Senate run is riddled with embarrassments. She said she would have voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh — a no-go area even for many conservative Democrats — before reversing herself in response to outrage. She blurred out the images of two eastern Kentucky coal miners after they threatened to sue her for using them in an ad without their permission. She characterized McConnell as an impediment “in the way of what Donald Trump promised,” a statement understood by many as a way to dodge public criticism of the president.

(click here to continue reading Amy McGrath’s Senate Campaign Is In Real Trouble.)

The national Democratic leadership often makes this mistake: choosing centrist, milk-toast Democrats instead of left wingers. You’d think they would have learned by now, but nope…

Categories
health News-esque

Hong Kong and COVID-19

Please avoid close contact with people who are sick

America didn’t have to have so many people die, as the example of Hong Kong proves…

This is the new normal in Hong Kong — both very different from before the virus and very different from an American-style lockdown.

Subway workers clean handrails frequently. Restaurants are open, with tables spaced five feet apart. Diners are often given a small paper bag in which to put their mask — so it doesn’t infect the table, or vice versa

Entrance to Hong Kong is limited mostly to residents, all of whom are tested and quarantined, even if the test is negative. And residents wear masks despite 90-degree heat. “They’re so hot,” Adrienne says. “But it feels second nature to me at this point.”

The most important point: Hong Kong’s strategy is working extremely well.

It hasn’t reported a new homegrown case in more than two weeks. Over all, only about 1,000 people — out of 7.5 million — have tested positive. Only four have died.

Via NYT newsletter.

IllinoisHelps is now spamming my cell phone

Meanwhile, in one US area roughly the same population size as Hong Kong:

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced 2,122 new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 176 additional deaths.…Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 65,962 cases, including 2,838 deaths, in 97 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have processed 13,139 specimens for a total of 346,286.

If only the US had competent leadership, and a president who trusted science and data, and we had ramped up testing back in February (or even January!)

Categories
Arts Chicago-esque Photography

Strange Spells Chanted Silently

Strange Spells Chanted Silently

 

Lake Street in the rain

I took this photo on November 17, 2015, and processed it in my digital darkroom May 3rd, 2020. Click to embiggen

Tools:

Nikon D7000
35.0 mm f/1.8
ƒ/2.5
35.0 mm
Shutter -1/60
ISO 100

Tri-X 400, in emulation, provided via a Photoshop filter (Exposure 5), plus some other tricks-of-the-trade, including using a gold reflector, and other techniques to accentuate the rain.

A while ago1 I purchased a raincoat for my camera: basically a thick, transparent plastic sleeve with a drawstring at one end. The drawstring is used to wrap tightly around the end of the lens, and the rest of the camera is contained within the sleeve, and thus kept dry. It works pretty well actually, except changing camera settings is a bit tricky, as is focusing, sometimes.

Footnotes:
  1. probably before this photo was taken, but maybe not, who can remember []
Categories
politics

How Mitch McConnell Became Trump’s Enabler-in-Chief

Nothing Left To Turn Off

Jane Meyer, The New Yorker:

For months, I searched for the larger principles or sense of purpose that animates McConnell. I travelled twice to Kentucky, observed him at a Trump rally in Lexington, and watched him preside over the impeachment trial in Washington. I interviewed dozens of people, some of whom love him and some of whom despise him. I read his autobiography, his speeches, and what others have written about him. Finally, someone who knows him very well told me, “Give up. You can look and look for something more in him, but it isn’t there. I wish I could tell you that there is some secret thing that he really believes in, but he doesn’t.”

(click here to continue reading How Mitch McConnell Became Trump’s Enabler-in-Chief | The New Yorker.)

This is why Trump and McConnell are such allies. Trump also cares about nothing except his own power, and wealth.

Read the rest, and if you have the means, donate to McConnell’s opponent, Amy McGrath

——

Updated

Maybe, donate to Charles Booker too, or instead of Amy McGrath…

Categories
Chicago-esque Photography

Death Won’t Even Be Still

Death Won't Even Be Still

Lake Street Bridge, Christmas Day.

I processed this photo in my digital darkroom on April 11, 2020.

Gear:

Nikon D7000
35.0 mm
ƒ/1.8
35.0 mm
1/50 shutter speed
250 ISO

And of course Photoshop to emulate TRI-X 400 film, pushed a couple of stops.

Death does seem to be on everyone’s mind these days. I’ve been having weird dreams, I assume you are as well. I won’t bore you with mine, at the moment. We’ll see if the Stay At Home continues through summer, all the rules will be different…

Oh, and lyric magpied from Jeff Tweedy’s great song, New Madrid.

Come on, do what you did, roll me under New Madrid
Shake my baby and please bring her back
Cause death won’t even be still, caroms over the landfill
Buries us all in its broken back

Categories
Personal

Self Portrait in The Time of the ‘Rona

Ran errands yesterday (food, pet food, booze), and I’d estimate 10%-20% of people I encountered in stores or walking on the street were wearing masks. I thought there would be more. I don’t have a quality mask, but at least it is something, and helps against touching my nose/mouth/eyes.

The hardest part for me was that my sunglasses kept fogging up.

Self Portrait in The Time of the 'Rona

Categories
Books science

Little Ice Age of 1550

Caves of Ice

Since the book I’m reading mentions the Little Ice Age of 1550 to approximately 1750, I looked it up in Wikipedia:

The Little Ice Age (LIA) was a period of cooling that occurred after the Medieval Warm Period. Although it was not a true ice age, the term was introduced into scientific literature by François E. Matthes in 1939. It has been conventionally defined as a period extending from the 16th to the 19th centuries, but some experts prefer an alternative timespan from about 1300 to about 1850.

 The NASA Earth Observatory notes three particularly cold intervals: one beginning about 1650, another about 1770, and the last in 1850, all separated by intervals of slight warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Third Assessment Report considered the timing and areas affected by the Little Ice Age suggested largely independent regional climate changes rather than a globally synchronous increased glaciation. At most, there was modest cooling of the Northern Hemisphere during the period. Several causes have been proposed: cyclical lows in solar radiation, heightened volcanic activity, changes in the ocean circulation, variations in Earth’s orbit and axial tilt (orbital forcing), inherent variability in global climate, and decreases in the human population (for example from the Black Death and the colonization of the Americas).

(click here to continue reading Little Ice Age – Wikipedia.)

Eagle On An Alaskan Ocean Ice Floe near Juneau - 2007

Fascinating. The book I’m reading –1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created speculates the cause was related to deforestation, and subsequent burning of trees being stopped. Who knows?

“Eurasian bacteria, viruses, and parasites sweep through the Americas, killing huge numbers of people—and unraveling the millennia-old network of human intervention. Flames subside to embers across the Western Hemisphere as Indian torches are stilled. In the forests, fire-hating trees like oak and hickory muscle aside fire-loving species like loblolly, longleaf, and slash pine, which are so dependent on regular burning that their cones will only open and release seed when exposed to flame. Animals that Indians had hunted, keeping their numbers down, suddenly flourish in great numbers. And so on. 

Indigenous pyromania had long pumped carbon dioxide into the air. At the beginning of the Homogenocene the pump suddenly grows feeble. Formerly open grasslands fill with forest—a frenzy of photosynthesis. In 1634, fourteen years after the Pilgrims land in Plymouth, colonist William Wood complains that the once-open forests are now so choked with underbrush as to be “unuseful and troublesome to travel through.” Forests regenerate across swathes of North America, Mesoamerica, the Andes, and Amazonia.

Ruddiman’s idea was simple: the destruction of Indian societies by European epidemics both decreased native burning and increased tree growth. Each subtracted carbon dioxide from the air. In 2010 a research team led by Robert A. Dull of the University of Texas estimated that reforesting former farmland in American tropical regions alone could have been responsible for as much as a quarter of the temperature drop—an analysis, the researchers noted, that did not include the cutback in accidental fires, the return to forest of unfarmed but cleared areas, and the entire temperate zone. In the form of lethal bacteria and viruses, in other words, the Columbian Exchange (to quote Dull’s team) “significantly influenced Earth’s carbon budget.” It was today’s climate change in reverse, with human action removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere rather than adding them—a stunning meteorological overture to the Homogenocene.

Excerpt From: Charles C. Mann. “1493.” iBooks. https://books.apple.com/us/book/1493/id422528932

Ineffable Silences

Categories
politics

GOP Senator Ron Johnson: No More Than 3.4% of Our Population May Die

Pre-existing Conditions

Jonathan Chait:

“Right now, all people are hearing about are the deaths,” Republican Senator Ron Johnson told the New York Times last week. “I’m sure the deaths are horrific, but the flip side of this is the vast majority of people who get coronavirus do survive.” The problem with this line of reasoning is that “the vast majority” is not a useful standard when measuring a pandemic that is projected to infect at least half the population.

Johnson is comparing the virus to auto fatalities. Around 37,000 people die every year in car crashes, which is certainly a lot. But losing 1 to 3.4 percent of people who get the coronavirus would mean millions of deaths. So no, we don’t shut down the economy to prevent 37,000 deaths, but we might shut down the economy to prevent 100 times that many deaths.

(click here to continue reading GOP Senator: ‘No More Than 3.4% of Our Population’ May Die.)

Wisconsin is not sending their best to the U.S. Senate.

Wikipedia:

The United States is the third-most populous country in the world, with an estimated population of 329,227,746 as of January 28, 2020.

 

(click here to continue reading Demographics of the United States – Wikipedia.)

2% of 329,227,746 = 6.5 million people. If 2% of the US population died in a month or two, that would be a hell of a car crash. 3.4% is 11 million people, by the way.

Wash your hands…

Categories
Chicago-esque politics

Primary Day 2020

Exercising One's Franchise In The Time The Novel Coronovirus

Despite the underlying threat of contracting COVID-19 aka the Trump Flu, I voted in the primary today. 

191 N Clark Polling Place - Loop Super Site

The process was simple – it took me longer to walk to the polling location1 than it did to actually exercise my voting franchise.

I checked in, signed my name and address, using my own pen, gave my piece of paper to one clerk of the dozen or so, all of who were keeping several feet from each other, got my ballot smart card, went to the touchscreen. Again, there were enough voting machines that nobody was close to anyone else. Filled out my ballot, checked it twice, printed it out, and went to the optical scanner. Easy, peasy. 

More than just the president is on the ballot, as is always the case. I am interested in my Congressman losing in the primary, as I think it is time for fresh blood. I’ve had a Google alert for my Congressman for years, and he seemingly does nothing newsworthy most months. In fact, sometimes it will be years before I read any tidbit of news with his name. Sad, really. What does he do all day? I assume he does some work, and he seems like a pleasant enough man on a personal level, but I would be pleased if he was no longer my Congressman.

I voted for Kristine Schanbacher, fwiw.

WBEZ:

[Danny] Davis faces a similar push for new blood in the 7th Congressional District, which spans from west-central suburban Hillside all the way to Lake Michigan, making it one of the most economically diverse in Illinois. He was elected to his seat in 1996, after having served for nearly two decades on Chicago’s City Council and then the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

Davis’ opponents criticize him for missing a lot of votes, saying he’s no longer effective. One of his young challengers, Clark, a veteran and teacher from Oak Park, identifies as a Democratic Socialist and has been pushing a heavily issues-oriented campaign. Clark snagged the endorsement of the Sun-Times. Kina Collins, a community organizer for health care policy, has aligned with the newly elected alderman of Woodlawn, who’s been pressuring the Obama Presidential Center for a community benefits agreement. Another Davis challenger, Schanbacher, is a human rights lawyer from Streeterville. She already has the endorsement of three downtown and lakefront aldermen in Chicago and the west suburbs.

 

(click here to continue reading WBEZ 2020 Illinois Primary Election Voter Guide | WBEZ.)

Keep Calm and Wash Your Hands

Footnotes:
  1. changed at the last minute []
Categories
Personal

Grocery Shopping During a World-Wide Panic, Sample Size of One

I ran errands today1 – going to the pet store for cat food, and so on. For groceries, I first went to Local Foods to pick up what I could – they usually have excellent locally sourced produce and foods – and while some shelves were empty, I was able to pick up a bags worth of food, arugula, shiitake mushrooms, and some other items. The cashier said that Sunday was worse than Thanksgiving as far as store traffic, I believed her.

Then I went to the regional Whole Foods flagship store. Aiee caramba! I guess yesterday was bad, but today was still as busy as I’ve ever seen it, and I’ve been shopping at Whole Foods on and off since 1982. Amazingly empty of food, and full of people!

I was able to pick up some items, but they were flat out of many entire categories of food. After awhile, I started taking snapshots with my cellphone…

Whole Foods - 3-16-20

My cart, while I was waiting in line. I was looking for some stewed tomatoes or similar (preferably San Marzano, those are the best, Jerry), but had to settle for pre-made tomato sauce. The beer, wine and booze section was well stocked, so I did pick up some Armagnac, and a few bottles of wine, and some Guinness Stout. I don’t plan on dying it green.2

Whole Foods Cart - 3-16-20

Another shot of my shopping cart while bored waiting in line. Fire roasted corn is a good soup addition.

Whole Foods Shelves - Pasta- 3-16-20

I bought (some of) those pastas, and actually, they are my favorite brand, not sure why they were left behind.
Montebello is an Italian pasta maker from 1388! Isola del Piano, Italy: they make damn fine macaroni product! I guess I should have taken a photo after I took these…

Whole Foods Shelves - 3-16-20

Olive oils

Whole Foods Shelves - Oatmeal - 3-16-20

A couple sad containers of 365 brand (Whole Foods store brand) oatmeal. I didn’t see what I was looking for, so didn’t take a chance on these (though they probably are fine). I was looking for that Irish brand of steel cut oatmeal that comes in the metal tin, but I have a little bit left still.

Whole Foods Shelves - 3-16-20

There were some items left in this section (nothing that I bought, fwiw)

Whole Foods Shelves - 3-16-20 - Izze Clementine

I guess these bottles of Izze were in the back or something. Or else this is a horrible flavor? I’m not familiar with it.

Whole Foods Shelves - 3-16-20

A nearly empty shelf. Looks like 365 (Whole Foods house brand) Macaroni and Cheese was the least favorite. I didn’t buy it either, I have standards.

Whole Foods Shelves - Sausages and Hot Dogs - 3-16-20

One brand of Amylu Chicken sausage was the only one left. Apple & Gouda didn’t sound good to me either.

Whole Foods Shelves -Poultry 3-16-20

Forget about getting chicken or turkey, unless you want gizzards, or there were a few sad packages of drumsticks.

Whole Foods Shelves - Yogurt - 3-16-20

Nearly all individual servings of yogurt were gone, but there were some tubs left.

Whole Foods Checkout Line - 3-16-20

Maybe not all employees showed up? Or some other glitch? Not all cash registers were open, and the line was excrutiationly slow. At the time I took this photo, my line had 12 people in front of me (typically 3 or 4 on a busy day)

Footnotes:
  1. instead of working []
  2. ewwww) Most beans were gone from the bulk section, but for some reason there were plenty of kidney beans. Not sure why kidney beans were so unpopular, but I got some. Also some Cannellini beans ((though I much prefer pre-cooked, there was nary a can of bean to be found []
Categories
Photography

Irresponsible Rhetoric – Explored

Another photo of mine made it into Flickr’s Explore

Irresponsible Rhetoric

Columns, Federal Reserve Bank, LaSalle St. and Jackson, downtown Chicago

I took this photo February 2nd, 2020, and processed it in my digital darkroom on March 13th, 2020.

Equipment: Nikon D7000 18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6

  • ƒ/4.2
  • 32.0 mm
  • 1/50
  • 200 ISO

Sort of an unusual angle, I suppose, and cropped so as to look like the columns are leaning to the right. I bumped up the contrast, and used a Kodak Ektar filter (emulation of film stock).

Categories
government health

Mapping the Social Network of COVID-19 And Other News

Fascinating article from The New York Times:

Historically, scientists trying to anticipate the trajectory of infectious diseases focused on properties of the agent itself, like its level of contagion and lethality. But infectious diseases need help to spread their misery: humans meeting humans, in person. In the past decade or so, leading investigators have begun to incorporate social networks into their models, trying to identify and analyze patterns of individual behavior that amplify or mute potential pandemics.
Those findings, in turn, inform policy recommendations.

When does it make sense to shut down schools or workplaces? When will closing a border make a difference, and when won’t it? World health officials consult with social network modelers on a near daily basis, and Dr. Vespignani’s lab is part of one of several consortiums being consulted in the crucial and perhaps disruptive decisions coming in the next few weeks. On Friday, in an analysis posted by the journal Science, the group estimated that China’s travel ban on Wuhan delayed the growth of the epidemic by only a few days in mainland China and by two to three weeks elsewhere. “Moving forward we expect that travel restrictions to COVID-19 affected areas will have modest effects,” the team concluded.

“Today, with the enormous computing power available on the cloud, Dr. Vespignani and other colleagues can model the entire world using” publicly available data, said Dr. Elizabeth Halloran, a professor of biostatistics at the University of Washington and a senior researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. “On the one hand, there is the rise of network science, and on the other, there is the enormous rise in computing power.”

click to continue reading Mapping the Social Network of Coronavirus – The New York Times:

Waiting for Baggage -TRI-X 400

Meanwhile, the federal government forgot to increase staffing at international airports such as O’Hare and Dulles and elsewhere, of course there was chaos and confusion and people standing shoulder to shoulder for hours. Jeez, wonder if there will be consequences?

O’Hare, DFW coronavirus: ‘Enhanced screening’ bring delays, crowds to U.S. airports – The Washington Post:

Airports around the country were thrown into chaos Saturday night as workers scrambled to roll out the Trump administration’s hastily arranged health screenings for travelers returning from Europe.
Scores of anxious passengers said they encountered jam-packed terminals, long lines and hours of delays as they waited to be questioned by health authorities at some of the busiest travel hubs in the United States.

The administration announced the “enhanced entry screenings” Friday as part of a suite of travel restrictions and other strategies aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. Passengers on flights from more than two dozen countries in Europe are being routed through 13 U.S. airports, where workers check their medical histories, examine them for symptoms and instruct them to self-quarantine.

But shortly after taking effect, the measures designed to prevent new infections in the United States created the exact conditions that facilitate the spread of the highly contagious virus, with throngs of people standing shoulder-to-shoulder in bottlenecks that lasted late into the night.

“AT THIS MOMENT, HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE ARRIVING FROM NUMEROUS COUNTRIES ARE JAMMED TOGETHER IN A SINGLE SERPENTINE LINE VAGUELY SAID TO BE ‘FOR SCREENING,’” read a tweet from Tracy Sefl, who wrote that she waited for several hours to be screened at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

“Authorities are going to have to deal with the ramifications of the breakdown of whatever this system is supposed to be,” she wrote. “Not to mention needless exposure risks from containing thousands of passengers like this.”

Illinois authorities made it clear that this is 100% a federal problem

Lightfoot to Trump: ‘No one has time for your incompetence’ over O’Hare crowding as customs struggles to keep up with influx of international passengers – Chicago Tribune:

Beginning Saturday, processing through United States Customs was taking longer than usual inside the Federal Inspection Services facility due to “enhanced #COVID19 screening for passengers coming from Europe,” the airport said via Twitter. Angry international travelers also took to social media to express dismay at the handling of events, which caused thousands of people to stand in close proximity with potential carriers of COVID-19. As of Sunday morning, “O’Hare Airport” was trending on Twitter as a result.

“So last night as people were flooding into O’Hare Airport, they were stuck in a small area, hundreds and hundreds of people, and that’s exactly what you don’t want in this pandemic,” Pritzker said on the NBC News program. “So we have that problem. And then today, it’s going to be even worse. There are a larger number of flights with more people coming and they seem completely unprepared.”

Waiting at ORD
So things are going great!

Categories
science

Trump used to flirt with anti-vaxxers. Now he is demanding a coronavirus vaccine

Needle Park

The Guardian:

Informing Fauci and other government scientists that they must clear all public comments with Mike Pence, the vice-president, is unacceptable. This is not a time for someone who denies evolution, the climate crisis and the dangers of smoking to shape the public message. Thank goodness Fauci, Francis Collins, the director of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), and their colleagues across federal agencies are willing to soldier on and are gradually getting the message out.

While scientists are trying to share facts about the epidemic, the administration either blocks those facts or restates them with contradictions. Transmission rates and death rates are not measurements that can be changed with will and an extroverted presentation. The administration has repeatedly said – as it did last week – that virus spread in the United States is contained, when it is clear from genomic evidence that community spread is occurring in Washington state and beyond. That kind of distortion and denial is dangerous and almost certainly contributed to the federal government’s sluggish response. After three years of debating whether the words of this administration matter, the words are now clearly a matter of life and death.

And although the steps required to produce a vaccine could possibly be made more efficient, many of them depend on biological and chemical processes that are essential. So the president might just as well have said, “Do me a favor, hurry up that warp drive.”

I don’t expect politicians to know Maxwell’s equations for electromagnetism or the Diels-Alder chemical reaction (although I can dream). But you can’t insult science when you don’t like it and then suddenly insist on something that science can’t give on demand. For the past four years, Trump’s budgets have made deep cuts to science, including cuts to funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the NIH. With this administration’s disregard for science of the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the stalled naming of a director for the Office of Science and Technology Policy – all to support political goals – the nation has had nearly four years of harming and ignoring science.

(click here to continue reading Trump used to flirt with anti-vaxxers. Now he is demanding a coronavirus vaccine | H Holden Thorp | US news | The Guardian.)

The GOP’s decade long war against science, and experts in general, is finally bearing bitter fruit for all of us. Drink deeply.

I am also genuinely curious if the anti-vaxxer idiot crowd will accept this vaccine without complaint. Will they insist upon being first in line? Or will they block widespread distribution of it? We won’t know for a bit, and by then, the death toll will most likely be higher. A real test of their principles, or lack of them. Herd immunity and all that…