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Monday, August 2, 2021

RSV: Respiratory Syncytial Virus

Yeah, I can't pronounce it either.
 
 
Cheryl and I both got it last week from our grandson Calvin (we keep him 3 days a week). It has not been fun. Rather "flu"-like in the aggregate. There've been times since last Thursday when I thought I was gonna cough up a kidney. Not out of the woods yet. A NY Times article on RSV this morning noted that it was odd for it to be spiking in the summer, being mostly a late fall - winter thing.
 
Click infographic to enlarge.

MEANWHILE BACK AT THE U.S. COVID19 DELTA HOUSE

 
A careening July-Aug "Delta Swerve."

SNARK ERRATA

AND, THEN...
Something very strange has been happening in Missouri: A hospital in the state, Ozarks Healthcare, had to create a “private setting” for patients afraid of being seen getting vaccinated against COVID-19. In a video produced by the hospital, the physician Priscilla Frase says, “Several people come in to get vaccinated who have tried to sort of disguise their appearance and even went so far as to say, ‘Please, please, please don’t let anybody know that I got this vaccine.’” Although they want to protect themselves from the coronavirus and its variants, these patients are desperate to ensure that their vaccine-skeptical friends and family never find out what they have done.
Sad.
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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Olympian Simone Biles

 I'll get straight to the point.

Sports "fans" (mostly male) belligerently critical of this amazing young woman need to get actual lives.
One internet wag noted that a lot of these sports-legends-in-their-own-minds critics claiming "she's not tough enough" also whine that wearing a Covid-19 mask a couple hours a day while out in public is a "tyrannical burden."
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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

51 years ago

 
My late younger daughter Danielle would have turned 51 today. Sigh...
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Monday, July 26, 2021

Anthropocene limits to growth, an update

 Interesting new paper.
Abstract
In the 1972 bestseller Limits to Growth (LtG), the authors concluded that, if global society kept pursuing economic growth, it would experience a decline in food production, industrial output, and ultimately population, within this century. The LtG authors used a system dynamics model to study interactions between global variables, varying model assumptions to generate different scenarios. Previous empirical data comparisons since then by Turner showed closest alignment with a scenario that ended in collapse. This research constitutes a data update to LtG, by examining to what extent empirical data aligned with four LtG scenarios spanning a range of technological, resource, and societal assumptions. The research benefited from improved data availability since the previous updates and included a scenario and two variables that had not been part of previous comparisons. The two scenarios aligning most closely with observed data indicate a halt in welfare, food, and industrial production over the next decade or so, which puts into question the suitability of continuous economic growth as humanity’s goal in the twenty-first century. Both scenarios also indicate subsequent declines in these variables, but only one—where declines are caused by pollution—depicts a collapse. The scenario that aligned most closely in earlier comparisons was not amongst the two closest aligning scenarios in this research. The scenario with the smallest declines aligned least with empirical data; however, absolute differences were often not yet large. The four scenarios diverge significantly more after 2020, suggesting that the window to align with this last scenario is closing. 
Full paper here (pdf). Well worth your time. In 1972 I was 26, and I was dimly aware of the original study—notably that it was controversial. New, more comprehensive data tend to support the unhappy findings.
 
 
BAU = "Business as Usual." Unsustainable. Few, if any, will survive the upshot. Anthropocene adversities are picking up steam.
 
Useful to recall some thoughts offered by Naked Capitalism's Yves Smith (Jan 2, 2020)
Maybe it’s a function of who I follow on Twitter, but I didn’t see much in the way of “ring in the new year” chipperness. Seeing Australia go up in flames might have something to do with that, but even those who seemed awfully domestically focused also seemed subdued. I also noticed comparatively few “Year in review” or “Best of 2019/the past ten years” but that could just as well be due to the gutting of news rooms. Nevertheless, I thought I might be so bold as to offer a theory.

It’s not hard to see plenty of reasons why all save a select few (which includes the deluded and End of Days fans) have reason to be downbeat. Climate change. Mass species dieoff. Poisoning of the planet, particularly with plastics (that overlaps with dieoff but also creates day to day health and diet worries). Student debt. Short job tenures combined with mainly McJobs on offer. Often unaffordable and crapified health care. Having kids who ought to be able to go to college but need to be talked out of it since the debt load would be punitive. Fear over one’s likely inability to retire with the real risk of not being able to work. And that’s before getting to personal tragedies, like suffering a foreclosure or bankruptcy, or death, disability or drug addiction in the family. Shocks like that are even harder to take when so many things seem precarious.

To add to that long list, there’s more anxiety. Bizarrely fearful parenting even though the overwhelming majority of kids are safer than their free-range parents were at a similar age….and the riskiest thing kids do today on a regular basis is ride in a car. Anger and frustration over seemingly more and more Kafka-eque bureaucracies wreaking havoc. Surprisingly widespread diet fesithism. Anger about Trump. I’m sure readers could add to these lists.

None of these are news, but what seems to deepen the general gloom is a lack of confidence that anything will get better, a sense both of sorely limited personal power and lack of trust in those nominally in charge to do the right thing. And that is mademore intense by concerns about pending collapse. When the very richest people in the world are acting like preppers, there’s reason to be worried.

I am personally upset at being part of the problem. I now live in a freestanding house, which means energy inefficient. I use a car to get about. Public transportation here is pretty much non-existent, and please don’t advise walking or biking. Both are physically impossible.

I also despair at my inability to do anything other than take pathetically trivial steps to reduce how much plastic I wind up using. Even with being a Yankee and using things until they are about to or do fall apart, I do wind up buying some things. Even socks are in plastic! And forget about buying food in the US. Eggs? Yogurt? Berries? You’d be surprised at how few egg vendors use cardboard cartons. It’s even gotten hard to to buy loose lettuce down here (although oddly loose kale is a different story). Admittedly not everything is this way….but way too much is.

So why are we so stuck on a bad trajectory? Simple explanations are always simplistic, but I hazard that humans have seldom been good at working out how to manage competing levels of responsibility, and the tensions and contradictions get greater as societies become more complex…
'eh?
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Thursday, July 22, 2021

The Fox in the Covid19 Hen House


 Get vaccinated. "Freedom" is not spelled "FreeDumb."
 
THE LATEST FROM "DELTA" HOUSE

U.S. Cases clearly beginning to trend back up in July 2021.

5-yr old Wyatt Gibson of Georgia, new Covid-19 fatality.
No word as to the parents' vaxx status.
STATEMENTS
“Experts list many reasons for the vaccine slump, but one big reason stands out: vaccine resistance among conservative, evangelical, and rural Americans. Pro-Trump America has decided that vaccine refusal is a statement of identity and a test of loyalty.”—David Frum, The Atlantic

“[I]f there’s one thing we’ve all learned by now in the pandemic, it’s that public health and politics are one and the same: there is no way to separate them. Biden came into office pledging to follow the science, to vaccinate the country and lead the recovery. But he could not vaccinate the country against Fox News.” —Susan B. Glasser, The New Yorker

Sarah Huckabee Sanders' pitch on Fox: "If I'm elected governor here in Arkansas, we will not have mask mandates, we will not have mandates on the vaccine, we will not shut down churches and schools & other large gatherings because we believe in personal freedom & responsibility."
"WE BELIEVE IN PERSONAL FREEDOM & RESPONSIBILITY"

Yeah, that venerable GOP meme.

Except, say, when it comes to getting your Covid19 emergency unemployment check or stimulus payment—in which cases you should be forced to pass a drug test.

I know a few things about that durable perennial topic.
Drug testing is conventionally viewed as an effective and necessary means of both deterring illicit drug use and identifying those in need of “treatment” for their “addictions.” Widely employed in competitive amateur and professional sports, mandatory drug testing programs are now policy in 80% of major U.S. corporations according to an American Management Association report... Recent federal legislative proposals have sought to extend mandatory testing to all branches of the federal government and to all direct or indirect recipients of federal funds (e.g., welfare and public housing clients, students receiving government backed school loans, businesses with federal contracts, etc.)…
That's from my 1998 grad thesis.

FreeDumb.
 
also apropos,
 
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Sunday, July 18, 2021

The Anthropocene and the FSMLs: "Science" editorial

Sitting at the interface of human societies and the natural environment are sentinels tracking environmental change. Across the globe, field stations and marine laboratories (FSMLs) amass crucial information about climate, biodiversity, environmental health, and emerging diseases, anchoring multidecadal data sets needed to solve environmental challenges of the Anthropocene. These observatories are now in danger of being shut down—part of the collateral damage of the COVID-19 pandemic…

As Earth's population swells to 8 billion, understanding and predicting human impacts on the planet become ever more urgent. Both long-term and real-time data are needed to quantify the repercussions of deforestation, agricultural intensification, desertification, climate change, ocean acidification, and other stresses if we are to mitigate their effects, plan adaptive responses, and develop national and international policies. Nature's struggles are humanity's struggles: As biodiversity is lost and ecosystems erode, so will the quality of our air, waters, and soils. This degradation will also affect the essential ecosystem services that nature consistently provides. Crop pollination services alone are estimated as a $500 billion annual benefit for society. And emerging pathogens will continue to be a threat across all borders. Environmental data to guide sound, science-based solutions, and broader public understanding and engagement, are necessary to overcome these mounting environmental challenges.

FSMLs are essential for educating and training the next generation of scientists. Immersive in situ experiences are foundational to those seeking careers in biology and ecology, geology and soil science, oceanography, hydrology and limnology, meteorology, conservation, and resource management. Evidence shows that field courses close demographic gaps in science participation and persistence and improve diversity across disciplines. Virtual materials and live-stream research-based field experiences simply cannot supplant place-based learning, curiosity-driven exploration, the life-changing value of discovery, and the realization that Earth is still a little-known planet. Furthermore, FSMLs play a broader role in education. Field course alumni become educators and school administrators, or pursue careers in medicine, law, social services, and business, among other professions. Scientists and nonscientists alike take away a deeper understanding and appreciation for nature and a propensity to embrace an ethic of planetary stewardship…   

The pandemic has cut revenue streams to FSMLs for a second year. At a time when environmental issues demand even greater attention, the world cannot risk undermining their contributions to scientific literacy, environmental research, and student training—all of which are essential to protect Earth's bountiful natural heritage and life-sustaining ecosystems. Universities, governments, and other organizations must find ways to save these global sentinels—all life depends on them...
Science Magazine
 
apropos of my prior post.

UPDATE



Unreal. Far too real.
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Monday, July 12, 2021

Baked Alaska:

Our bright, glowing future?
 
 
Anthropocene global warming, my friends. Widespread persistent, worsening U.S. droughts. They are not "hoaxes."
 
I lived in Seattle 1968—1975. In the summers, high temperatures ever-so-rarely got to 80F. Two weeks ago they hit 107F. Las Vegas, where we lived 1992—2013, recently hit 117F. The entire western U.S. and Canada have been broiling. Wildfires are raging out of control.

 
 
So much for keeping it below 350 ppm.

...We are imposing a rate of change on the planet that has almost never happened before in geologic history, while largely preventing life on Earth from adjusting to that change.

Taking in the whole sweep of Earth’s history, now we see how unnatural, nightmarish, and profound our current experiment on the planet really is. A small population of our particular species of primate has, in only a few decades, unlocked a massive reservoir of old carbon slumbering in the Earth, gathering since the dawn of life, and set off on a global immolation of Earth’s history to power the modern world. As a result, up to half of the tropical coral reefs on Earth have died, 10 trillion tons of ice have melted, the ocean has grown 30 percent more acidic, and global temperatures have spiked. If we keep going down this path for a geologic nanosecond longer, who knows what will happen? The next few fleeting moments are ours, but they will echo for hundreds of thousands, even millions, of years. This is one of the most important times to be alive in the history of life.
An excellent, bracing long-read. Has an embedded audio v/o transcript (56 min). Very nice. You will likely need a drink after reading it.

LATEST BOOKS

 
Just finished the Sinatra-Hofer book. Sally Weintrobe's prior to that. Both highly recommended. Below, see also this book I'd cited a couple of years ago.

 
All of which go to informing the important discipline of "Science Communication."
NOTE: I routinely keyword/phrase search the books I study and cite here for core terms. Fundamental to science is "evidence." I have by now gotten a cumulative couple thousand hits for the word across these volumes. But, not yet a single definition. We all assume we mean the same thing, but then come to loggerheads over what it denotes during contentious issue debates (in science and beyond). I have spent a lot of time studying legal reasoning. I don't take much for granted. Pedantic, yeah, I know.
ANTI-VAXX UPDATE
 

"Free speech" and all that. 
 

EXIGENCIES

These come readily to mind. A good bit of multi-correlational overlap.
Global warming
Pandemic(s)
Economic disruption
Academic turmoil
Social/racial justice upheaval
Threats to democracy
Pollution
Firearms violence
Migration crises
Cybercrime
Oh, and lest we overlook:
Britney Spears' conservatorship dispute
Ahem... Seriously, no shortage of major issues in need of sustained serious, rational, deliberative attention.
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Sunday, July 11, 2021

Chasing the SARS-Cov-2 variants

Abstract

The spike protein receptor-binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2 is th.e molecular target for many vaccines and antibody-based prophylactics aimed at bringing COVID-19 under control. Such a narrow molecular focus raises the specter of viral immune evasion as a potential failure mode for these biomedical interventions. With the emergence of new strains of SARS-CoV-2 with altered transmissibility and immune evasion potential, a critical question is this: how easily can the virus escape neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) targeting the spike RBD? To answer this question, we combined an analysis of the RBD structure-function with an evolutionary modeling framework. Our structure-function analysis revealed that epitopes for RBD-targeting nAbs overlap one another substantially and can be evaded by escape mutants with ACE2 affinities comparable to the wild type, that are observed in sequence surveillance data and infect cells in vitro. This suggests that the fitness cost of nAb-evading mutations is low. We then used evolutionary modeling to predict the frequency of immune escape before and after the widespread presence of nAbs due to vaccines, passive immunization or natural immunity. Our modeling suggests that SARS-CoV-2 mutants with one or two mildly deleterious mutations are expected to exist in high numbers due to neutral genetic variation, and consequently resistance to vaccines or other prophylactics that rely on one or two antibodies for protection can develop quickly -and repeatedly- under positive selection. Predicted resistance timelines are comparable to those of the decay kinetics of nAbs raised against vaccinal or natural antigens, raising a second potential mechanism for loss of immunity in the population. Strategies for viral elimination should therefore be diversified across molecular targets and therapeutic modalities.

Discussion

...The evolvability of SARS-CoV-2 in response to selection pressure will determine the ultimate tractability of our efforts at disease control. Our work suggests that the capacity of SARS-CoV-2 to evade the immune system may be greater than originally anticipated and raises the specter of a process of ongoing and continuous evolution in response to antibody-based prophylaxis, occurring on a timescale that may not be convenient or tractable for the design of novel biomedical interventions. Thus, our findings speak to the need for both public health and biomedical intervention strategies targeting SARS-CoV-2 to be designed to account for the risk of rapid evolutionary response to biomedical interventions.
Interesting paper (open source Creative Commons). Read all of it. We will continue to shoot at a moving vaxx target.
 
U.S. cases ticking back up? Delta variant? (w/"Lambda variant" on deck?)
 

ANTI-VAXX ERRATUM
 
Sad.
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Thursday, July 8, 2021

#CriticalRaceWeary


Sadly, I'm not making that up.


Race. For something that "doesn't exist (scientifically-genotypically)," it sure persistently sucks all of the oxygen out of the sociopolitical air.
 
Below: Elsewhere in The Day in Stupid,
 

According to their poignant Lead Counsel John Coale, "Big Tech" are now explicitly "government actors," and there's nothing SCOTUS hates more than "prior restraint"—he cites, in unfortunate analogy, The Pentagon Papers case (uh, well, the DOJ plaintiffs lost that one, recall). Tilt.
Also noteworthy in that regard: irrespective of the "restraints" eventually imposed on Mr. Trump, none were "prior." They were all post-hoc reactive to his innumerable ToS violations, many of which went to implicit and explicit incitements to violence. Moreover, he was head of the government at the time of his sanctioning. How come he didn't simply order the social media "government actors" to abide his public "communications?"
Whatever. A patently obviously fundraising grift ploy in any event. 
 
The cartoonist apparently didn't get the irony. 
 

Click the title.
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Monday, July 5, 2021

Maryland "VaxCash." Hey, whatever works.


Maryland (my state of residence since April 2019) is not the only state doing this. We're now doling out a random $40k per day to documentably vaxxed residents. I have no idea what the cost/benefit estimates are for this effort. But, I seriously doubt our Republican governor would have approved a financially profligate feel-good initiative.
 
If you've yet to do so, get your shots. No matter where you live.

A NEW READ
 
Click the cover. Just started it. Certainly goes to antivax fallacies. 
Within weeks of the onset of the virus, a barrage of confusing, misleading, and inaccurate information spread faster than the virus itself. Misinformation was coming from all corners: politicians, newscasts, social media, dark web conspiracy theorists, and even the presidential briefing room. Never has it been so imperative that individuals have the skills to understand scientific inquiry and know how to evaluate what they read and hear. Nor has it ever been more critical that policy makers listen to scientists and make use of scientific data to guide decisions to protect their communities, states, and countries. The first vaccine received emergency approval in mid-December 2020, others have followed, and the rate of vaccinations grows. Yet worries persist about whether enough citizens will choose to be vaccinated, a deeply concerning problem when such decisions affect others’ lives, not just one’s own.

Sinatra, Gale; Hofer, Barbara. Science Denial (p. x). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition. 
See also my "Science Communication" posts.

UPDATE:  
apropos, from a Daily Beast article.
 

Six months after the attack on the Capitol triggered by that lie, commentators, political scientists, and families around the dinner table still struggle to come to grips with perverse reality. It is natural to want to understand how we got here. The fate of our democracy turns on not just what our electorate believes but why they believe it. Why are a third of us such gullible rubes?

We are as a society—and by “we” I mean virtually all of us on the planet —brought up to believe howling absurdities, ridiculous impossibilities, and insupportable malarkey from our very first moments on Earth. We have massive lie-delivery systems that are the core institutions of our society. And we have created cultural barriers to even questioning those fabrications which are most deserving of skeptical scrutiny. For example, we regularly label as sacred those ideas that are least able to stand up to scrutiny. (Heck, we have folks in our society who can’t even handle the idea that the history we teach our kids might actually be based on what happened, you know, back in the past.)

Our parents lie to us. Our churches, synagogues, and mosques like to us. Our schools lie to us. Hollywood lies to us. Madison Avenue lies to us. The media lies to us. Our leaders lie to us. Our friends lie to us. (They do. Going to the gym couldn’t hurt.)

What is more the lies they offer are not always big lies (e.g. Buying a particular brand of beer will not make you more attractive) while some are just gross oversimplifications (e.g. The Founding Fathers did a lot of good... but they were not the figures carved out of marble we were sold for years). Some have a seed of truth within them but are gross distortions (e.g. Columbus did not discover America). And some of the time we invite the lies because they open the door to enjoyment (e.g. Keto? All the bacon I can eat? I’m in).

But one of the key reasons we buy into so many small lies is that we have been force fed so many big ones. I mean really big ones. I mean ones that make the current Big Lie look like one of those low-calorie snacks that is actually a high-calorie treat shrunk to a smaller size and repackaged.

The original big lies are so big that if you are like most people some of them are ingrained in your identity, they are who you are. They come from religions and heritage. They are cooked into the primal soup of our minds. Many of them have been around for longer than many of the “facts” we have and as such are so covered in the dust of history and tradition that they appear to be as substantial as what is true. Indeed, some have a timeworn patina that makes them seem almost more important than that which is verifiable or even knowable.

Social science research gives a variety of reasons for why we are inclined to believe “alternative facts.” (Studies show a person is “quick to share a political article on social media if it supports their beliefs, but is more likely to fact check a story if it doesn’t.” We tend to vote for what we want to be true or what our friends believe. According to Peter Ditto, a social psychologist at the University of California, “our wishes, hopes, fears and motivations often tip the scales to make us more likely to accept something as true if it supports what we want to believe.” That said, another reason is often cited for our willingness to buy into the bullshit we are being fed. According to a 2019 University of Regina study, “People who believe false headlines tended to be the people (who) didn’t think carefully, regardless of whether those headlines aligned with their ideology.” So, one way or another, we fall for fake news because it’s easier for us, socially or intellectually.

Many of these lies were created out of necessity. Life is finite. (OK, I’m sorry. It is. Take a deep breath if you need to and then continue reading.) If we don’t come up with a good story about what happens after it ends or why we are here we will all go mad. So we make up preposterous stories about magic people in the sky and then immediately say that we cannot question those stories, that “faith” in them is more important than knowledge of what is real. Why? Because they will not stand up to scrutiny.

When challenged, the defenders of these original big lies say the truth is unknowable. Good try. Hard to argue with that. We don’t know there is not an omniscient rule-maker beyond the clouds or a heaven filled with virgins to give pleasure to the faithful so how can you question it? But of course, selling what is unknowable as a truth is one of the most important categories of lies we encounter in life. Indeed, it is the foundation of much of (speculation-based and often hooey-ridden) human philosophy. And it works.

There are other big lies, of course. Some are related to the religious lies—like the divine right of kings or the lie that the clergy somehow are more in touch with truth than, say, scientists who actually devote their lives to studying the truth. Some come from political leaders. For example, the lie that to die in war is glorious is one that has done irreparable damage for eons. It has been disproven for thousands of years and yet remains so essential to getting young men and women to give up their lives to serve the ambitions of the rich and powerful that it endures. You know many of the other lies that have lived for centuries—about the superiority of races or genders or nationalities, about patriotism, about comforting ideas like that everything is for the best or things work out in the end. It’s not. They don’t. Read a book.
Yeah. "Read a book," indeed. I try to do 2-3 a week.
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Sunday, July 4, 2021

An Independence Day reflection

In Congress, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

CARLOS AND RANGER ARE NOT JULY 4TH FANS
 

 They hunker down in the basement. They hate the fireworks.
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Monday, June 28, 2021

Stewardship of global collective behavior, infotech considerations


Good paper. Quite worthy. 10 page pdf (PNAS Creative Commons download), 17 contributing authors, 166 endnote citations.
 
Cut to the chase:
Summary
Human collective dynamics are critical to the wellbeing of people and ecosystems in the present and will set the stage for how we face global challenges with impacts that will last centuries (14, 15, 64). There is no reason to suppose natural selection will have endowed us with dynamics that are intrinsically conducive to human wellbeing or sustainability. The same is true of communication technology, which has largely been developed to solve the needs of individuals or single organizations. Such technology, combined with human population growth, has created a global social network that is larger, denser, and able to transmit higher fidelity information at greater speed. With the rise of the digital age, this social network is increasingly coupled to algorithms that create unprecedented feedback effects.
 
Insight from across academic disciplines demonstrates that past and present changes to our social networks will have functional consequences across scales of organization. Given that the impacts of communication technology will transcend disciplinary lines, the scientific response must do so as well. Unsafe adoption of technology has the potential to both threaten wellbeing in the present and have lasting consequences for sustainability. Mitigating risk to ourselves and posterity requires a consolidated, crisis-focused study of human collective behavior.

Such an approach can benefit from lessons learned in other fields, including climate change and conservation biology, which are likewise required to provide actionable insight without the benefit of a complete understanding of the underlying dynamics. Integrating theoretical, descriptive, and empirical approaches will be necessary to bridge the gap between individual and large-scale behavior. There is reason to be hopeful that well-designed systems can promote healthy collective action at scale, as has been demonstrated in numerous contexts including the development of open-sourced software, curating Wikipedia, and the production of crowd-sourced maps (165, 166). These examples not only provide proof that online collaboration can be productive, but also highlight means of measuring and defining success. Research in political communications has shown that while online movements and coordination are often prone to failure, when they succeed, the results can be dramatic (137). Quantifying benefits of online interaction, and limitations to harnessing these benefits, is a necessary step toward revealing the conditions that promote or undermine the value of communication technology.

A consolidated study of human collective behavior will be limited to providing mechanistic insight into the consequences of changes to our social system and potential solutions. The ethical issues raised by stewardship of social systems, like those associated with ecological systems, will require input from philosophy, public policy, and disciplines across the humanities (147). There is no viable hands-off     approach. Inaction on the part of scientists and regulators will hand the reins of our collective behavior over to a small number of individuals at for-profit companies. Despite the scientific and ethical challenges, the risks of inaction both in the present and for future generations necessitate stewardship of collective behavior. 
Goes to the so-called "Science of deliberation?"
 
Curiously, no mention of the neurosciences in this paper (goes to "cognition" and its impediments). Or, to their credit, "neurobabble." (BTW, apparently, "neuroaesthetics" is an actual thing.)

Tangentially, more on infotech and cognition impacts.

UPDATE

New book release. 
Riveting. Infuriating.

A must-read. Click the cover.

A Trump Maladministration Klepto-Kakistocracy with an aggregate blood type comprised of equal parts methamphetamine and fentanyl. I just got it yesterday. Almost done reading it.

Update2: Finished the book. A fabulous, albeit maddening read. Excellent reportage written in a very Michael Lewis-like style.

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Sunday, June 27, 2021

"There's never just ONE cockroach"


George Floyd murderer Derek Chauvin will likely be out of prison before the Surfside-related condo building collapse litigation is over. A lot of beachfront SE Florida high-rise real estate may end up effectively uninsurable.

 
A horrific tragedy. Criminally so?
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Saturday, June 26, 2021

Delta Dawn?


I guess we'll see. I, for one, am sick of this anti-vax idiocy. Click either screengrab above for SBM link.
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Sunday, June 20, 2021

Jonathan Bush,

he's BA-A-A-aaaa-aaack!

 
From Forbes:

Over the past two decades, the government has tried and failed to create a unified medical record system in the United States. The idea sounds easy enough: if a patient ends up in an emergency room on vacation in Florida, the doctor should be able to access their medical history in New York. In the aughts, state and local governments started to build towards this, but efforts  largely lost momentum without the funding needed to build and maintain the infrastructure to warehouse such huge troves of data.

Jonathan Bush, the punchy and oft irreverent cofounder of Athenahealth, is betting the ever-growing army of new digital health startups has finally created the market conditions to make such a system work—and he plans to build it. His new venture, the Watertown, Massachusetts-based Zus, launched Thursday with $34 million in funding led by Andreessen Horowitz. Bush thinks he has the key to unlock the door that’s stymied the likes of Google, Microsoft and Intel.    

While technically Bush only started self-funding Zus around six months ago, in many ways it’s the same vision he’s been working towards since cofounding Athenahealth in 1999...

"Punchy?" LOL.  Hit rewind for 8 years.


I got to attend a 2015 JP Morgan Week dinner he hosted back when I was still covering Health IT events (a bit of video link rot in that post). Last time I saw him was a year later at WinterTech.

FAST FORWARD BACK TO 2021

“Creating the industry’s first shared development platform backed by a shared data record, Zus aims to bring about a better health data reality by empowering a wave of new, digital-first healthcare builders who will create digital health technologies and services that are cheaper, more customizable and more personalized. This new digital health vanguard is NOT composed of data hoarders who seek to monetize access to proprietary information, but rather those who believe in the network effect of data sharing. The new community of innovators assume as fundamental that the greatest potential comes from using modern technology not just to help with care, but to revolutionize it. This vision drives Zus to proactively connect the largest array of traditional medical providers to novel health data sources so that health data becomes frictionless to use.”Yahoo Finance
I've thus far combed through the Zus website. To their credit, no mention of "blockchain." Though, my "interoperababble" misgivings linger.
 
UPDATE
 
Hmmm... smells like Teen Blockchain? ("...never overwritten")

BTW, I can see I'm egregiously out of date on my IT jargon / cliches. "Stack," to this old 3GL/4GL programmer referred to the stacks and registers on chips that assembly language coders wrote to.
 

 
From a Twitter comment response I posted,
"So, Zus is a B2B intending to serve the #healthIT startup space, and sustained via their #VentureCapital money. Ja?"
Erratum: Thoughts on athenaHealth and EHRs back in 2014.
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Saturday, June 19, 2021

Juneteenth

We have yet far to go. 
 

This stuff is personal for me. Above, my wonderful great-grandson Kai turned 1 yesterday. His Daddy Keenan is my late daughter Danielle's son.
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