Friday, September 25, 2020

I voted by mail today; incidents in PA, TX add to "Trump's" ammunition against mail-in; how Trump can stay in power without winning


I  voted this morning, using the no-questions-asked absentee ballot.  Virginia starts counting them Sept. 28, and I mailed it in the condo building.  You had to put the ballot inside a second envelope and fill it out, every field.  But media has told us that you do not need to have a witness.  (The envelope tells you if you need an extra id).  Patricia Sullivan explains in the Washington Post.   Zachary Wolff writes further on CNN. 

Now Trump is already starting to jump on little problems with mail in, as with an incident in Luzerne County, Pam as explained by Marshall Cohen et al on CNN. Stephen Loaiconi from Sinclair has a somewhat more disturbing interpretation on WJLA. 

The Daily Caller reports a disturbing incident in Texas. 

In sum, because mail-in may happen in unprecedented numbers due to the pandemic and due to the complexity in filling it out for some less literate people, there could be more problems.

Fareed Zakaria has an article explaining how Trump could stay in power without winning the election, by creating so much legal confusion (with the new SCOTUS appointment) that state legislature get to choose the electors.  They happen to be Republicans in swing states.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

California governor Newsom signs XO requiring all new cars sold in 2035 be all electric; can the infrastructure be built?

California governor Gavin Newsom has signed an executive order banning the sale of new cars in the state that use any gasoline or diesel fuel source after 2035 (NPR story).

It would appear that this means the cars must be all-electric, and there will need to be effective refueling stations even in more rural areas.

Used cars can be sold, however.  The rental fleet will probably have to convert to all electric by then.

I have rented cars many times in western states and driven lots of miles in rural areas.  I wonder how that would have affected my mobile lifestyle and values.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Trump appears to create circular conflict of interest in Ginsburg's replacement appointment, if she could rule on the 2020 election


Well, now, Trump won’t promise to go quietly and legally if he loses the election in November (that is go on Jan 20, 2021), CNN story with video. “We’ll see what happens.”

It ‘s pretty obviously an abuse of power to insist on making a favorable Supreme Court appointment to better his chances to survive any legal challenges in December.  But technically legal.  Against RBG’s wishes indeed.

In a CNBC video, the tone of Trump’s comments about the mail-in ballots seems to leave no room for losing the election.

Trump says, it is important we have “nine justices” and the Republicans are “united” (for the election, remember Bush v. Gore). 

Yup, bloggers who try to be the “adults in the room” and prevent disasters (I’ve participated in that) but then don’t “join in” when there is a real need for protest or change, may postpone catastrophe but then it may be worse when it really comes.   We’ve already seen that with the pandemic. 

(Sept. 24).  We are hearing a lot of concern this morning about how the Electoral Count Act of 1887 could be used for a destructive legal battle after the election. 

One concern is that there could be "Florida-like" vote counting fiascos in multiple states where state legislatures could even override voters -- CNN expressed that concern this morning but these are more likely in "red states" to start with. 

Barton Gellman has a robust piece in the Atlantic "The Election that Could Break America" that encourages everyone to make the effort to vote in person and to volunteer to work the polls.

 One other thing, on Obamacare and preexisting conditions:  No, COVID should never be treated as a pre-existing condition because it is related to likely misconduct by a foreign power whose negligence caused it to be introduced.  You would not consider a wartime injury to a civilian a pre-existing condition. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Why has college semester opening become such a COVID-positive disaster?


Leah Ashmelash explains on CNN how so many colleges got the reopening wrong, and wound up with hundreds or thousands of infections in three weeks.

In short, they simply were na├»ve in making behavioral rules.  (My sister main blog has a story Sunday about the suspension of an NYU senior for an off-campus party when he attends virtually only).

The CNN story has a video interviewing two students.  One thinks it’s a hoax.  The other said, “If I get it, I’d survive.”  Yup, no tolerance for responsibilities for the vulnerable imposed on them.

There is controversy of their returning home to families.  So they are stuck in inadequate dorms without access to cooking or fresh food for quarantine.

Here is a detailed technical paper from China on asymptomatic patients, as of last June. 

In the video above, students in a frat house in Oxford, Ohio hold a party even though some have tested positive, and the cops catch them. 

Monday, September 21, 2020

CDC keeps waffling on the recommendations regarding aerosol transmission of coronavirus

Tom Harkin Global Communications Center PHIL 8876

 It would be very bad indeed if the CDC changed its science-based recommendations based on a president’s politically motivated narrative.

So today the CDC has withdrawn an upgrade of its recommendation to heighten the risk of aerosolized transmission of COVID, and says it will review the material some more.

There is full understanding that aerosolized transmission is more likely in closed indoor spaces, but how much more?  How protection do various masks offer from this specific risk?

The revised guidelines would have said 6 feet is a floor for acceptable distancing but should be larger (especially indoors for longer periods) if possible.

Manas Mishra has the story for Reuters. 

Perhaps the public should be required to wear higher quality masks and there should be a focused effort to manufacture them.  N95’s cannot be fitted properly around beards on men.  

Picture: CDC communications center, Wikipedia embed, click for embed 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Trump draws up list of candidates to replace Ginsburg, who passed away Sept 18


Donald Trump announces he has added twenty names to his possible Supreme Court lists, and right now it looks like the Senate is likely to try to confirm such an appointment in the lame duck session in December even if Biden wins and/or Democrats make gains in the Senate.

Some of the possible appointments could include Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley, and Ted Cruz (the latter was Trump’s main opponent in the 2016 Republican primaries and was “competitive” for a long time).

 The Lame Duck period has done good things sometimes, such as the law ending “don’t ask don’t tell” in 2010 (just before my own mother’s passing).  In 2016, The Senate refused to consider Obama’s tentative appointment of Merrick Garland made in March. McConnell claims that Obama’s certainty of leaving office makes a difference.

Trump’s speech actually sounded reasonable, as he mentioned free speech, protecting some effect from the Second Amendment, some religious freedom, and stopping the most outrageous late term abortions (which are rare however).  He also mentioned rioting and vandalism.

I will try to get to the Supreme Court site soon, although I don’t get into town as often as I used to.  It’s partly I’ve gotten busier with my own “projects” that need to finish in 2021, partly coronavirus safety (and spending time at home researching the medical aspects), so I am not filming demonstrations and gatherings as often as I used to (as others, such as News2share) will cover them more thoroughly).

Justice Ginsburg passed away from metastatic pancreatic cancer.  I have been expecting to see some statement by Jack Andraka in social media but haven't seen it yet. 

Picture: Kavanaugh demonstrations in Oct. 2018 at Supreme Court 

Friday, September 18, 2020

Major developments in possible Covid Rx: an antiseptic spray, and an antibody component molecule


There are two interesting developments on the possibility for quick treatments for people once they are infected with SARS-CoV2.

There is a UPI story by Brian Dunleavy about a possible “antiseptic” nasal spray called Halodine that appears to destroy the virus.  Usually, nasal sprays and gargles or mouthwashes don’t work very well in killing viruses, but the spike architecture of this virus might make it more vulnerable.


 There is a JAMA study

Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh have a molecule that functions as an “antibody component” that could make a “Truvalda-like” drug called AB8, and possibly given as a prophylactic.  Pitt also has a vaccine candidate and is working on delivering drugs by (shoulder?) band-aid patches and nasal sprays (Pittwire ,  also re-reported by Fox News). 

Gina Kolata in the New York Times reports on a monoclonal antibody treatment from Eli Lilly, to be given by infusion, right after infection.  It has passed a placebo trial and seems effective in preventing hospitalization (from 6% to 1%).  But it would require treatment in a doctor's office, story

There is a Medium article by Shin Jie Yong Aug 7 “Covid-19 was a ticking time bomb, scientists warned since 2007”. There was concern at UNC about another virus, W1V1-CoV.  Sabreviruses have evolved in bats which have high metabolisms and high body temperatures and stronger immune systems, so they can easily wreak havoc with other mammals. This piece might countermand recent claims aired on Tucker Carlson that the virus could have been made in a lab.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The USPS's rocky history during the coronavirus pandemic

Tony Room, Jacob Bogage, and Lena H. Sun give a difficult history of the USPS during this past year under the Trump administration, which certainly seems like a see-saw.

There has been controversy over the safety of letter carriers (especially when working casing the mail at the facility before taking it out).  I have some idea of this because I almost became a letter carrier in the fall of 2004, and had seen some of the orientation films on what the workflow consists of. .   During my own IT career, I had worked on a major NCOA project interfacing with the USPS (back in 1998). 

There is concern over the delivery of “unnecessary” unsolicited “junk mail”, and some of this concern could affect legitimate non-profits.

There is also concern of shifting of reporting structures and of commitment to continuing dependable service, which Amazon has particularly noted.

As for the election, the MSM insists that vote by mail is secure, and I keep hearing too many counter-anecdotes (as from Tim Pool).  We need more comfort on this one.

Update:  A federal judge has issued a temporary injunction against USPS to keep if from making any more deleterious changes, WPost

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Trump posts WSJ editorial on mail-in situation in Pennsylvania on Facebook, and FB interrupts the post


Donald Trump presented this link to a Wall Street Journal op-ed on the mail-in situation on Pennsylvania, link. 

There are some proposals to postpone the elector’s meeting day, and Pennsylvania and some other states are in political battles over passing state laws to allow them to start counting votes sooner.

Facebook answered Trump’s post with this voting information page

Picture: Happy Valley, PA (Penn State), Sept. 2010 (mine) 

Monday, September 14, 2020

Federal judge strikes down previous Pennsylvania stay-at-home order as unconstitutional


A federal judge has ruled Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolff’s (D) stay-at-home orders and closures of “non-life-sustaining businesses” to close unconstitutional, the Associated Press reports (WJLA). 

Justine Hill has a more detailed story in The Hill.

Judge William Strictland wrote the opinion. There is a lot of appeal to substantive due process in the 14th Amendment.

These orders were common in many states in March and April.  Their loosening in a few states (generally around Memorial Day) led to huge rebounds in cases this summer.

And many businesses may never recover, from liability for expenses when they cannot be open.

If you carried this kind of sateyism to its logical conclusion, even some parts of the Internet would be shut down as non-essential. 

Update:  Viva Frei (a Canadian lawyer) reads an analyzes the Opinion, which notes that the lockdowns favor big businesses and cause small ones to close permanently. 

Sunday, September 13, 2020

It will take a week or so after Election Day for mail-in votes to shift the election for Biden, and this can cause a crisis indeed

This morning, Fareed Zakaria on his Global Public Square on CNN laid out a scenario how “Election Month” (Nov. 2020) would go. There is now a link to his video on this. 

After election night, Trump seems to be ahead in the electoral vote. But states haven’t finished counting all their mail-in votes, which might take another week.  (Virginia has a deadline of Oct. 23 for mail-in).

Biden supporters are much more likely to use mail-in. So over the coming week the electoral college vote would shift to Biden.

That could force a constitutional crisis that would wind up in the hands of John Roberts, to save our democracy, he says,

Daniel Block describes a scenario (in The Washington Post Magazine) where in Republican states, legislatures could redirect the votes of electors.  This might not be constitutional.

The role of courts and an obscure 1847 law (for a uniform day for electors) is discussed here, and we may come back to this later. 

 The Nation has a disturbing article by Sasha Amramsky where Trump would try a 'coup d'etat' if he loses and many states would secede. The Transition Integrity Project (a conservative anti-Trump group) has a contingency plan document here. 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

No, don't vote twice; you'll get in real trouble


Katie Connor of CNET has a warning to voters NOT to try to vote twice in the Nov. 3 elections.

In many states doing so would be a felony, and it might be so at the federal level.

State voting systems will cross-check in both directions (counting mail-in and ballots cast directly, either early or Nov. 3) for duplication with automated systems.

Most states will allow for application for early voting to be submitted in about a week.  Here is Virginia’s for requesting a ballot (deadline for submitting is Oct. 23.)   Facebook has been intercepting user accounts and sending them the right links for voting by state. 

Trump has actually been encouraging voters to break the law.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Researchers express concern about SARS-CoV2 mutations that would escape normal neutralizing antibodies; also a vaccine trial halt


There is a new paper on BioRxiv on “complete mapping of mutations to the SARS-CoV2 spike receptor-binding domain that escapes antibody recognition”, preprint, link 

Bloom Lab continues the discussion with a long tweetthread.

The significance of this research could explain some occasional reinfections (and whether they would lead to actual illness – the “antibody dependent enhancement” or ADE problem) and would matter for vaccine development.

A single case of a neurological spine illness in one volunteer in the UK has led to a halt in the AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine trial (Bloomberg).  It could be an autoimmune reaction, or it could be unrelated. Vaccines have rarely been associated with Guillain-Barre syndrome.  Despite the fact that COVID may hit men harder, women are more at risk to auto-immune reactions to anything.  Update: The trials have resumed (Sky News). 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Heart damage may be more common even after mild or asymptomatic cases of COVID19, even among athletes, than we had thought

CDC 2019-nCoV Laboratory Test Kit


Suzanne Smalley reports for Yahoo! News (reprinted on AOL) about post-COVID heart damage, even after some mild or asymptomatic cases, sometimes in college athletes.  

It’s not so clear what the percentages are, but there have been disturbing reports, even from at least one MLB pitcher.

The virus would go after the nuclear DNA of heart cells.  But it isn’t clear how this compares to the virus’s hijacking other cells in the body to reproduce itself.  Do heart cells have ACE2 or CD147 receptors?  The literature describes turning the nuclei into "black holes" (there is a mathematical concept of analogue black hole, which theoretically a virus could transmit?) 

There is a preprint of a BioRixv report of Todd McDevitt’s study at UC San Diego. 

Again, among people that I know, I am not hearing about this happening. 

Wikipedia embed of picture, CDC test, public domain, click for credits. 

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Fixing inequality, with an "anti-racist constitutional amendment?


Here’s another item: “How to Fix Inequality” on Politico, link

IBram X. Kendi wants to pass an “anti-racist constitutional amendment” which looks vague on its face, but does want a bureaucratic federal “department of anto-racism.”  What I would be concerned about is the risk of “compelled speech” or allyship situations as quid pro quo’s, as being legal. It's obvious that they would want to compel reparative quotas, shredding all ideas of individualized agency and personal responsibility for performance in life. 

There are two measures, to nominate only women to open congressional seats, and to have gender quotas.  (What happens to non-binary or trans?) 

It seems as though a lot of people don’t have any shame in depending on group-based measures to pay for the sins of the past.   I do have my own ideas based on my own life track and I may talk about them in some videos soon – while I can.

Monday, September 07, 2020

Washington Post columnist gives dire warnings about national chaos and unrest after the Nov. 3 election, "no matter what"

Rosa Brooks has a long illustrated op-ed in the Outlook section of the Washington Post , “What’s the Worst that Can Happen?” following the Nov. 3, 2020 election. She warns “the election will likely spark violence – and a constitutional crisis.” 

She claims that in some GOP-controlled states,  “allies” could sent rival electors to the electoral college vote in December (sounds like “allyship”) and then there could be big court fights on which sets of electors to recognize.  I’ve frankly never heard of this possibility before.

Imagine how Wall Street would react.

Matthew Dunlap also writes in the Post that he is suing to find out what’s going on with Trump’s “voter fraud commission” on which he sits.

I still am looking at the question of mail-in voting, which mainstream media reassures us is tamper-proof, for risks in a polarized environment with a compromised USPS.  No conclusions yet.

Sunday, September 06, 2020

WSJ pans the idea of lockdowns and strict behavioral rules and mentions but doesn't explain studies


Donald J. Luskin has a provocative Wall Street Journal article noting that strict lockdowns have not, in the final analysis, slowed down the cases of COVID permanently, link , He calls them a “failed experiment”.

In theory, if you locked down most of a community for about six weeks (three incubation cycles) most community spread stops and leaves only recovered or expired cases.

New cases would be more easily stopped by contact tracing.

Yet the idea of lockdowns had never been taken seriously in the modern era before (China that is).

Saturday, September 05, 2020

Vox weighs in on Trump's dumping of "critical race theory" in federal employee diversity training

Riley Beggin critiques Trump’s squashing of federal anti-racism training today in a major article

The article discusses “critical race theory” which claims that people have unearned group privileges associated with subconscious loyalties that they are normally unaware of cognitively.

One problem is that many well meaning “mainstream liberals” having major YouTube and Instagram channels (this includes some gay white men and some various other intellectual or academic channels) have supported BLM with images and posts as if it were expected, and there is no answer to some of the more violent and radical behavior at least attributed to BLM (or was it actually caused by underground white supremacist activists or even foreign influence?)

Friday, September 04, 2020

Vice Media has looked into Black Bloc as compared to Antifa (back in 2017)

Portland Protesters in Tom McCall Waterfront Park on June 3, 2020

 Donovan Farley has a couple of strident articles in Vice about radicalism, for example, “These black bloc activists don’t care what you think of them.  It turns out these articles date back to 2017, but they sound like Portland today.

They certainly see the world in “communist” terms, wanting a stateless world, but anarchism isn’t the same thing as Marxism.  But they definitely see the world in terms of power blocks rather than individual performance.

The second one talks about fear, isolation and violence.

Trump is seen as a symptom, as these ideas were coalescing probably by the time of Ferguson. 

Wikipedia embed of Portland protest, June 2020, click for attribution 

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Wokeness, identarianism and new race consciousness seems to be driven by enormous inequality as well as legitimate fears of rising white supremacy


Adamcast IRL, discussing a Best Buy corporate memo, saying more companies are going “woke” under consumer pressure, points out that “anti-racism” requires reverse racism.

Worse, people are more concerned about the status of their identity group and solidarity than on their own efforts.

The change back toward race consciousness seems to result in part from the fact that “libertarianism” and individualism has disproportionately left more people of color behind.  But more, members of these groups seem to believe that without enforcing group solidarity, growing enemies (white supremacy, which they believe Trump has encouraged) will, with increasing radicalization, put more of them in physical danger, without setting up their own reverse power struggle as a group.

Andrew Sullivan, on his own blog, examined (on July 31), “The Roots of Wokeness” (“ or “silence is violence’) as a kind of post-modernism, and an idea that truth is just part of power (anti-Rosenfels). Sullivan also says Democrats are walking into a trap if they can’t condemn violence.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown reports, for Reason, that authorities in Kentucky offered leniency to Breonna Taylor’s ex boyfriend if they would (falsely) implicate her for drug use, to justify their own reckless shooting, story.

Ford Fischer reports that a driver providing aid to protesters peacefully was wrongfully held in two days in jail by police in Washington. He also discusses activists’ “jail support”.