27 February, 2021
All we get nowadays is dumbed-down. Thank goodness historians of mathematics have not entirely abandoned writing articles that contain formulas or explain scientific ideas.
This pessimism is sapping people of energy to get through the winter, and the rest of this pandemic. Anti-vaccination groups and those opposing the current public-health measures have been vigorously amplifying the pessimistic messages—especially the idea that getting vaccinated doesn’t mean being able to do more—telling their audiences that there is no point in compliance, or in eventual vaccination, because it will not lead to any positive changes. They are using the moment and the messaging to deepen mistrust of public-health authorities, accusing them of moving the goalposts and implying that we’re being conned. Either the vaccines aren’t as good as claimed, they suggest, or the real goal of pandemic-safety measures is to control the public, not the virus.
Five key fallacies and pitfalls have affected public-health messaging, as well as media coverage, and have played an outsize role in derailing an effective pandemic response. These problems were deepened by the ways that we—the public—developed to cope with a dreadful situation under great uncertainty. And now, even as vaccines offer brilliant hope, and even though, at least in the United States, we no longer have to deal with the problem of a misinformer in chief, some officials and media outlets are repeating many of the same mistakes in handling the vaccine rollout.
The kinds of economists involved most intimately with government and financial institutions by and large don’t notice real people in real places—people who may be losing jobs and falling into despondency, addiction, and suicide. They tend not to see as relevant to their domains of expertise the millions of people on the move and the impact of mass migration on cultural cohesion. In recent years, they overlooked the warning signs indicating limits to the acceptance of their worldview, notably in the very communities suffering because of their economic policies. Elites on both the left and the right, with their well-thumbed passports and multicultural outlook, were no less blind. They did not see the pressures rising. In the immediate aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, I more than once heard an economist friend say something like the following: “We knew globalization would force transformations, but we never thought they would be localized in a specific subset of communities.” And: “We knew that globalization would cause disruption over a 20-year period, but I never thought about what 20 years is like in the life of a specific person or community.” The very language conveys remoteness—the sheer size of the chasm between the World Economic Forum and the actual world. This is what happens when the messy, mediating business of popular politics no longer functions properly—when it no longer serves as the membrane through which ideas must pass before they turn into action.
The depressing reality of the Venezuela crisis is that democracy was and is abused and twisted for authoritarian ends. Leaders can come to power legitimately and undermine the rule of law and other key democratic tenets. Venezuela stands as proof that democracy, once attained, is not guaranteed any permanence. This poses unique challenges to democracies globally. If the world’s democracies are unable to come to a consensus on how to respond to democratic backsliding, the risk of additional countries adopting authoritarian tendencies will increase. Without the ability to insulate democratic institutions against authoritarian attacks and abuses, the United States and other democracies could suffer similar assaults and setbacks on their institutions and democracy.
How a Harvard professor’s dubious scholarship reignited a history of mistrust between South Korea and Japan.
25 February, 2021
A short film offering a firsthand perspective of the brutality of the pandemic inside a Covid-19 I.C.U.
24 February, 2021
20 February, 2021
I have been teaching guitar for 41 years. The biggest predictor, bar none, for who will carry on and who will drop out is the capacity to enjoy and celebrate every gain.
A student who comes in, wants to sound like Eric Clapton, and then expresses constant frustration at how long it is going to take, how far from that he or she is, etc. will probably last no more than 6 weeks.
A student who feels like - omg, I am playing the guitar!! when they learn 3 chords, ion the other hand, and who makes the effort to notice what they can do today that they could not do last week is usually a student who is in it for the long haul. They learn faster, they have more fun, and they stick with it.
this is something you have control of. Cultivate that sense of "look at me go!!!!" and enjoy every tiny step and victory. The process has to be fun because you never really "arrive" - you just keep improving and widening your skill set.
17 February, 2021
I thought creating a COVID “Immunity Bubble” for a small group in a TV studio setting was possible. I was wrong.
This is the story of what happened, what went wrong, and what we learned.
Just as importantly, it is a story of what questions remain to be answered about the accuracy of testing before we can safely return to work, travel, relax in small groups, or see our kids off to school. If any of you have ever experienced a new confidence or an impulse to lower your vigilance with masks and social distancing after receiving a negative PCR test, you need to read this.
The story is presented in detail below, but the bottom line is as follows: Despite a total of 452 (PCR & Rapid Antigen) tests and four physicians on-staff during a highly contained small gathering, 24 people in our "Immunity Bubble" (~ 25%) tested positive for the coronavirus - including me.
I’m humbled and pained by what I learned.
13 February, 2021
Trying to make sense of the swirl, I built a timeline on a spreadsheet, which grew to nearly 600 entries. After years of research, a picture began to emerge—one that, beyond the scope of any given anecdote, told a dispiriting story about the futility of present-day American government, and reshaped my view of progressive politics.
Still, Karikó was struggling. Her science was fantastic, but she was less adept at the competitive game of science. She tried again and again to win grants, and each time, her applications were rejected.
In the New York Times' worldview, they start with the right to dox me, and I had to earn the right to remain anonymous by proving I'm the perfect sympathetic victim who satisfies all their criteria of victimhood. But in my worldview, I start with the right to anonymity, and they need to make an affirmative case for doxxing me. I admit I am not the perfect victim. The death threats against me are all by losers who probably don't know which side of a gun you shoot someone with. If anything happened at work, it would probably inconvenience me and my patients, but probably wouldn't literally kill either of us.