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Gender: Male
Current location: New Jersey
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 24,864

Journal Archives

Anybody wonder what happened to the guy with the flag in this famous photo?

The caption:

Nurse Laura Leander stands in counter protest to as people march to the Arizona State Capitol to protest Governor Greg Ducey's stay at home order

The answer to the question might offer some suggestion of the existence of a just God, who might have a delicious sense of humor.

The pressure to assimilate

A "Working Life" article in the current issue of science: The pressure to assimilate (Montrai Spikes, Science Science 26 Jun 2020: Vol. 368, Issue 6498, pp. 1506

An excerpt:

“Why are you dressed so nicely?” a fellow graduate student asked me in passing, after noticing my collared shirt, slacks, and dress shoes. “Oh, I have to teach today,” I replied. He stopped and stared at me for a few moments, the confusion written plainly on his face. “As a Black man, students treat me with more respect when I dress up,” I explained. What I did not say was, “Our society's current idea of professionalism is so intertwined with straight, white, masculinity that underrepresented people must go above and beyond or risk being seen as incompetent.”...

...During my first year as a teaching assistant (TA), I noticed some students didn't fully trust or respect me as an instructor. For example, one of my students emailed another TA to ask the very same question I'd answered for them earlier in the day. Another incident that got under my skin was when a student said I looked like rapper Wiz Khalifa, then proceeded to touch my dreadlocks. I felt embarrassed and violated, but I pretended their comment and action didn't bother me. I feared that correcting the student would only present me as an “angry Black man.”

To garner more respect and confidence from my students, I started to diligently craft a mask that I thought would signal my professionalism. I wore nice clothes on teaching days and I reduced my use of Ebonics, an English dialect spoken by some Black Americans that I often used growing up. This mask seemed to work...

... was waiting in my office for a student, another Black man, to arrive to discuss his lab report. As I responded to emails, a rap album by Kendrick Lamar was playing. I was startled when the student exclaimed, “Yo! Trai, I didn't know you got down with Kendrick.” This catalyzed an animated discussion about rappers, growing up in big cities, and people of color in STEM. My guard dropped, the Ebonics slipped out, and for a short period I was simply me. As I shifted our conversation to his assignment, he said offhandedly, “I wish you were more like this in class.” He wasn't ill-intentioned, but his comment did prompt introspection.

I realized that although my “professional” mask appealed to my white students, it had unforeseen consequences. The mask I crafted was disingenuous and was alienating students of color while reinforcing the misconception that the only way to succeed is through cultural assimilation.

After this revelation, I discarded my mask...

Reducing transmission of SARS-CoV-2

This somewhat scary "perspective" is found in the current issue of Science: Reducing transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (Kimberly A. Prather1, Chia C. Wang2,3, Robert T. Schooley4 Science 26 Jun 2020: Vol. 368, Issue 6498, pp. 1422-1424)

I presume it's open sourced:

Some excerpts:

Respiratory infections occur through the transmission of virus-containing droplets (>5 to 10 µm) and aerosols (≤5 µm) exhaled from infected individuals during breathing, speaking, coughing, and sneezing. Traditional respiratory disease control measures are designed to reduce transmission by droplets produced in the sneezes and coughs of infected individuals. However, a large proportion of the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) appears to be occurring through airborne transmission of aerosols produced by asymptomatic individuals during breathing and speaking (1—3). Aerosols can accumulate, remain infectious in indoor air for hours, and be easily inhaled deep into the lungs. For society to resume, measures designed to reduce aerosol transmission must be implemented, including universal masking and regular, widespread testing to identify and isolate infected asymptomatic individuals.

Humans produce respiratory droplets ranging from 0.1 to 1000 µm. A competition between droplet size, inertia, gravity, and evaporation determines how far emitted droplets and aerosols will travel in air (4, 5)...

...it is possible that submicron virus-containing aerosols are being transferred deep into the alveolar region of the lungs, where immune responses seem to be temporarily bypassed. SARS-CoV-2 has been shown to replicate three times faster than SARS-CoV-1 and thus can rapidly spread to the pharynx, from which it can be shed before the innate immune response becomes activated and produces symptoms (6). By the time symptoms occur, the patient has transmitted the virus without knowing...

...The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for social distancing of 6 feet and hand washing to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 are based on studies of respiratory droplets carried out in the 1930s. These studies showed that large, ∼100 µm droplets produced in coughs and sneezes quickly underwent gravitational settling (1). However, when these studies were conducted, the technology did not exist for detecting submicron aerosols...

...Measurements now show that intense coughs and sneezes that propel larger droplets more than 20 feet can also create thousands of aerosols that can travel even further (1). Increasing evidence for SARS-CoV-2 suggests the 6 feet CDC recommendation is likely not enough under many indoor conditions, where aerosols can remain airborne for hours, accumulate over time, and follow airflows over distances further than 6 feet (5, 10)...

The article goes on to suggest an explanation of why Taiwan, despite having no lockdown, had a low infection rate, while the United States didn't.

Hint: Not that we wish to offend members of the Trump cult here at DU, it involves, um, masks. The article suggests that "social distancing" may not be enough.

A graphic:

The caption:

Masks reduce airborne transmission.

Infectious aerosol particles can be released during breathing and speaking by asymptomatic infected individuals. No masking maximizes exposure, whereas universal masking results in the least exposure.

It is important to note, and it's easy to forget this, that wearing a mask does not protect the wearer so much as it protects other people. This explains the Republican resistance to wearing them. They just don't give a shit about other people.

Afforestation falls short as a biodiversity strategy

An opinion piece in this week's issue of the journal Science comments on the proposal to address climate change by planting oodles of trees: Afforestation falls short as a biodiversity strategy
(Susana Gómez-González1,2,*, Raúl Ochoa-Hueso1, Juli G. Pausas3, Science 26 Jun 2020: Vol. 368, Issue 6498, pp. 1439)

I believe it's open sourced.

An excerpt:

The recent EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 (1) recognizes the importance of biodiversity for increasing our resilience to natural disasters and pandemics and, thus, for human well-being. Although it proposes ambitious measures such as reversing pollinator decline and controlling invasive species, it also introduces the ill-advised idea of planting 3 billion trees.

Massive tree plantation programs (2, 3) have been strongly criticized by the scientific community for their negative ecological and economic impacts and their limited role in climate change and CO2 mitigation (4–8). The specific number of trees proposed in the EU Strategy suggests a lack of a serious, science-based ecological assessment of actual restoration needs. Meeting such a target could threaten biodiverse treeless ecosystems (4, 6, 7, 9) and would waste an opportunity to implement ecologically sound management practices to restore fully functionally integrated mosaics of natural, seminatural, and sustainable agricultural ecosystems.

Massive tree planting could also substantially change the fire regime, especially given the increasing frequency of heat waves and droughts in an area with high population density (10). The probability of large intense fires that threaten biodiversity and human assets is largely influenced by the type, amount, and continuity of biomass...

I personally believe that biomass can play a constructive role in removing carbon dioxide, if, and only if, it is does so safely in an environmentally sustainable manner. Let's be clear, combusting biomass is neither safe nor sustainable, but there are many things to recommend using the large surface areas that biomass can accommodate in a setting of pyrolysis or steam reformation.

However biodiversity is important, and strategies like making monoculture palm oil plantations out of rain forests to generate "renewable biodiesel" doesn't cut it, nor does destroying the ecosystem of the Mississippi delta to make "renewable corn ethanol," nor does putting service roads through virgin forests to install and haul away wind turbines every twenty years with diesel trucks doesn't cut it.

Possibly the authors are on to something.

COVID-19's unsustainable waste management

A brief commentary appeared in the current issue of Science that is worthy of some attention: COVID-19's unsustainable waste management (Siming You1, Christian Sonne2, Yong Sik Ok3,4,* Science Jun 26, 2020 Vol. 368, Issue 6498, pp. 1438)

It's probably open sourced.

A brief excerpt of the short note:

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has led to an abrupt collapse of waste management chains. Safely managing medical and domestic waste is crucial to successfully containing the disease (1). Mismanagement can also lead to increased environmental pollution. All countries facing excess waste should evaluate their management systems to incorporate disaster preparedness and resilience.

Wuhan, the COVID-19 epicenter of China, experienced a massive increase of medical waste from between 40 and 50 tons/day before the outbreak to about 247 tons on 1 March (2). Cities such as Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Hanoi, and Bangkok experienced similar increases, producing 154 to 280 tons more medical waste per day than before the pandemic (3)...

Since the United States has mismanaged itself because of the growing popularity of ignorance and denial, our waste profile must be corresponding greater than that of say, Vietnam, the country Bone Spur Donald Trump avoided with the liberal application of his father's money, where apparently the government is smarter than his. (This is not intended as an endorsement of Vietnam's government, only a statement that they manage things better than armchair fascists in the US.)

Whether Covid-19 medical waste is infectious, I cannot say.

Personally, as a person who has spent a lifetime thinking about how to convert "waste" into products - I favor the pyrolysis or high temperature steam reforming of all carbon containing wastes, a practice that would make the issue of infectious medical waste null and void, but apparently, I'm an outlier.

Saying Everything While Saying Nothing: Kamala Harris, FDR, and Abraham Lincoln.

Joe Biden is our nominee; and if there is anything this country needs right now, it is decency, of which Biden is an avatar.

He is a fine statesman, but as everyone knows, an elder statesman, although, in contrast of that spoiled lump of putrescent lard in the White House, Biden shows no signs of senility and is in excellent health and possessed of clear thinking.

Nevertheless, it is certainly statistically possible that his Vice President will succeed him at some point.

It has been the good fortune of our country that two magnificent Presidencies followed disastrous Presidencies, the first of these disasters being the Presidency of James Buchanan - who has been rescued from the mantle of "worst President ever" by Donald Trump. Lincoln succeeded him.

The next was the Laissez-Faire Presidency of Herbert Hoover, who was succeeded by FDR.

If you read about the character and leadership qualities of both Lincoln and FDR, both men were characterized by the distinct and oft used ability to dodge the question as a means of gaining allies while making an understated point.

America has been severely damaged by the most corrupt, ignorant, vindictive, and manifestly childish President ever, and we will need greatness again. It is certainly true of Lincoln, and probably true of FDR as well, that what defined their greatness was the challenges they faced.

I just read this article on Kamala Harris, which points up her skill at not answering the question while making a point:

Kamala Harris’s Very Open Secret by Edward-Issac Dovere in The Atlantic.

This excerpt struck me:

With those who know her, she can be thoughtful, funny, engaging, and pragmatic, with little patience for grand theories of governance. She’s focused on what will make a real difference in people’s lives. But the version of Harris the public knows often comes off scripted and indirect, appearing mostly in sound bites and viral videos. Her instinct to parry rather than expound helps her avoid awkward questions, such as during a segment on The View earlier this month, when Meghan McCain asked her if she was in favor of defunding the police. Instead of answering directly, Harris asked what McCain meant, and McCain eventually admitted that she didn’t know herself. Harris successfully avoided taking a potentially controversial position. But she also reinforced her preexisting reputation for evasiveness: I heard from several high-level Democratic operatives that the exchange reminded them of Harris’s habit of dodging critical questions during her presidential campaign.

Joe Biden could pick a can opener as his running mate and I would crawl on broken glass to vote for him.

This said, this skill of Harris's, should she be called to succeed President Biden speaks well to my sense of history.

I was disinterested in Harris during the campaign; I first supported Senator Warren, switching at some point to Mr. Yang, and buying in to Biden as soon as it was down to him and that "Bernie" guy.

I think Joe Biden is doing an outstanding job, and I think he has the right stuff to heal our country. But should his life end in office, Senator Harris, it seems to me has that magnificent quality that characterized two of our greatest Presidents, Lincoln and FDR.

My father's day gift finally arrived, and I watched it tonight.

Juice: How Electricity Explains The World - Juice

Poverty, women’s rights, climate change — indeed, many of the world’s most pressing challenges — can be explained by answering one question: Can you turn your lights on in the morning?

Pretty powerful stuff.

I don't agree with everything that's said in the movie, but have long recognized many of the basic truths therein.

I recommend the documentary.

Ted Cruz and John Cornyn Don't Understand Don't Understand Why Funds Are Being Pulled From Testing.

GOP Sens. Cornyn and Cruz say they don't understand why federal funds are being pulled from coronavirus testing sites (CNN)

...But several lawmakers from Texas, including Republican Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, say they do not understand why the federal assistance is being pulled as their state sees more and more coronavirus cases.
"Frankly, I didn't understand what they were thinking," Cornyn told CNN on Thursday...

Are they really that stupid? They don't understand...

People with integrity and decency can understand completely. Two Senators who swore to uphold the United States Constitution spit on their oath and when presented with a vote to remove an obviously insane and corrupt "President" from office, decided that after more than two centuries the rule of law was less important than embracing an uneducated racist con man's cult of personality.

They don't understand?

They're idiots.

Yeah what about that? It's not working!

This one's dedicated to all the people who didn't believe in me...


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