Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Will paradigm shift away from "getting tested" after exposure for vaccinated people, after all? Are we accepting that COVID will be endemic after all?

 

commuter station, VA, 2021-8

John Campbell’s fireside chat today on YouTube (he calls it an “important announcement”) talks about a paradigm shift in expectations of control of Covid.

Now, almost everyone will be “infected”, even the vaccinated.  The shift turns toward actual illness, as is the case with other endemic infections like influenza.

Hopefully, with most fully vaccinated people, an “infection” will product specific additional immunity to that specific strain (like Delta) because of exposure to the exact proteins of the strain.

But the risk is for some people infection may be more serious and long Covid might still be possible.

The idea of expecting vaccinated people to be tested after exposures when they have no symptoms may lose traction.  Right now, the moral incentive to be tested to protect others can be disruptive because you could be forced to isolate for 10 days even if not ill.  Furthermore, Delta is so contagious, at least in terms of producing “infection” that even automated contact tracing sounds less relevant.

Yet today there was still a lot of discussion on Michael Mina’s Twitter feed of scaling up to have everyone taking rapid tests all the time, especially if other variants start to spread.  So maybe not everyone buys Campbell’s idea.  

Quartz, with an essay by Clarissa Diaz, provides a perspective based on experience in Iceland.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Berenson's boot from Twitter, and Amazon's refusal of his booklets

 

ICF, I worked there in 1989

Alex Berenson has apparently been booted from Twitter.  Here is his own explanation on his Substack.   I would say there is a great deal of hyperbole in the tweet, about a theoretical interpretation of the risks.  At 78, I’d rather get the third shot at six months.  The Hill (itself a marginally conservative site) explained the banning.

But he had an important ESJ editorial in December 2020, “Covid and the New Age of Censorship; It doesn’t promote public health when media and tech companies stifle scientific debate, link 

Amazon apparently wouldn’t let him sell some booklets on vaccine advice.  Amazon has recently, as discussed before, rejected one or more books that seemed to case sexuality or gender as “mental illness” although I would add it is important to chronicle what the views were a half century ago for better or worse (the Left seems to think some things should be forgotten). 

 The large tech companies have taken on the idea that they will be held responsible for "social order" and the risks of naive users seem very real to them, so you're seeing the idea of a little bit of social credit theory mixing with community standards. 

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Ian Corzine goes over YouTube's Community Guidelines in detail, especially on COVID and election related videos (and the rules do get very specific and change all the time)

 

Old Rag, VA, 2021-7

Ian Corzine is going over the major (ten or more) things you can’t say or do on YouTube.

These points are based on a rather intricate page of YouTube’s community guidelines page.  

Some of the rules, especially on medical information (most of all COVID19) and on elections, are quite specific.  YouTube (as with other social media channels) is quite concerned that real harm may come from relatively small speakers if gullible people actually copy them.

For example, speculative information on vaccines might disincentive people from getting vaccinated, increasing the general risk to the general public that more variants emerge and evade vaccines. 

Or election misinformation might lead to riots that lead to extreme violence or even a near coup, as on January 6.

But the rules, indeed, are very pointed, which shows that social media companies are very sensitive to asymmetric consequences. 

One problem that has occurred is when protests are filmed, and protesters make false claims that would have been prohibited.  The video creator must override the claim with countervailing information in the video.

Other rules, for example, include that you cannot use “hacked” information, use misleading titles, or make a false claim that someone is dead.

Corzine discusses YouTube’s community guidelines strikes and how they are different from copyright strikes.  In many cases one video will “likely” result in just a warning without a strike or takedown. 

Corzine calls the coronavirus pandemic (“sickness” type content  -- why am I reminded of the "not a sin, not a sickness" meme) as the “elephant in the room”.  One of the rules says you can’t claim that natural infection is superior to vaccination in getting to herd immunity. But very recently some authorities (as in Israel) who are very credible are saying that natural infection provides more protection relative to vaccines than had been previously thought.  So YT’s idea on medical information can become dated as the science changes. The CDC “6 foot rule” as well as rules on masks are likely to become flexible.  It would sound likely that higher quality masks (N95 style) may eventually required of the public in many situations.

Corzine recommends creators consider other platforms like locals or substack (paywalls) as more likely to bring in revenue to creators than YouTube.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Michael Mina reminds us we may need wartime rapid tests to stop variants like Delta

 

Reno, 2018-9

Michael Mina tweeted this evening a reminder that we really could have put ourselves into a wartime production mode for rapid tests for everyone, and stopped Delta from ever getting here.    (See also Aug. 20 post.) 

Here’s the link to the Aug 2020 article by Robinson Meyer and Alexis Madrigal. 

It’s now apparent that vaccinated people really shouldn’t get out of being tested often and facing the risk of quarantines, if you really want to get rid of the virus completely, and want to talk about “common good”.

What you need is very clearcut policies on the obligations of people when they are sent home after a positive test.  This is wartime.  If you can’t board a plane because of a positive test, does your ticket get refunded?  Who bears the cost of the risk when it materializes.  That has always been a problem no one would address.

In Australia and New Zealand, we’re hearing all kinds of stories of police treating ordinary citizens as Basic Training recruits.  But the use of rapid tests (even without vaccines) could drive the reproduction numbers to zero in a few weeks if done on a large enough scale.  (Then you do the mass vaccination, all at once.) 

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

"OnlyFans" platform forced to ban sexually explicit content because banks won't process their transactions (policy reversed suddenly 8/25!)

 

Wren Building, WM, 2007

Adi Robertson discusses in The Verge the recent change in policy at “OnlyFans”, with the CEO Tim Stokely explaining that major banks are refusing to work with them if they present transactions for sex work (associated with the FOSTA law) and promotion of explicit sex.  Some nudity is still allowed.

Indeed this situation seems more closely tied to FOSTA than to political pressures over inequity. 

BNY Mellon had refused every wire transaction from the company recently. 

(Update: see comment, policy suddenly reversed). 

Pressure from large private companies over new social norms are worrisome however.  Recently Amazon banned a major book that frame sexual or gender identity (and presumably sexual orientation) as “mental illness” (BBC story).   This is a subjective and very disturbing idea.  My own first DADT book relates how in 1961 with my own expulsion, my situation as depicted as psychiatric in nature with denial that it was about homosexuality. It is important for books (and movies) dealing with history to inform as to what was believed of an incident or event, even if unacceptable today.  And normally transgenderism, at least in adults, requires medical treatment for satisfaction of the person, and so it is impossible to avoid discussion of medical and mental health aspects responsibly.  Sexual orientation and gender identity are distinct concepts and should not be conflated by content policies.  

Monday, August 23, 2021

Childlessness: leads single adults to compete with whole families?

 

San Francisco, Castro, 2018-9

 

Matt Lewis, a columnist with the Daily Beast, writes today, “We need more kids, but not the way the GOP’s been talking about it”,link.  There’s a tagline, “Going on about ‘naked cat ladies’ ,may rile up the base, but it’s just crude insult comedy to anyone else”.  (By the way, the Daily Beast paywall is a but cumbersome when your pw expires.) 

Frankly, some GOP politicians want the votes for parents to count more, or to deprive adults without kids of political participation.  At the far extreme, you have the idea of “great replacement”.

But on the other side, the far woke Left wants people to be forced to sign up for anti-racism initiatives before they’re allowed online at all.

There is something circular about denying people rights because they don’t “get it up” for the opposite sex.  Frankly, before Stonewall, much of anti-gay bias was based on the idea that gay men would distract “normal” men from wanting to have children merely by scoping them. That even played into how the issue of gays in the military and “don’t ask don’t tell” was perceived thirty years ago.

Yet the far Left has only intersectionality to offer: may people who don’t reproduce an oppressed group.

Childless adults were expected in the past to hang around and play backup for the family, which was part of the altruistic theory of the reason we have homosexuality.  But often (like me) they separated, became their own economic units, had lower expenses, and competed with families and could “lowball” in the workplace, sometimes expected to “work for a discount” when salaried and faced with on-call situations.

Maybe the idea is that everyone should be prepared to raise other people’s children when necessary. That has become much more realistic for gay people of this generation, since 2015 and Obergefell, than it was in mine.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Dread of the COVID variants increases now even for the vaccinated

 

VHC Healing Garden, 2009

A strange article (Rossela Tercatin) in the Jerusalem Post today suggests that Israel could go into lockdown again despite heavy vaccination because of a Delta subvariant called AY3. The article was in Smart News. 

However an article Aug 9 on Healthline suggests medical authorities are not too concerned that it will behave differently from the others on vaccines.  They believe a third booster will be appropriate, however, probably sooner than eight months out, for seniors.

We are waiting for full FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine, possibly even Monday. Update:  Approval granted, CNN story (8/23). 

Kristen V. Brown and Rebecca Torrence write for Bloomberg that “the vaccinated are worried and science doesn’t have answers”.  Is waning protection especially from Pfizer (ironically) due to longer time since vaccination or due to increase in prevalence of Delta?  The article is correct in maintaining that activity of T-cells is not as influenced by exact match to variants.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Should vaccinated people be expected to regularly test themselves to protect others and help prevent variants from evolving, and sharing the sacrifice?

 

Cambridge, MA 2015-8

Dr. Sanjay Gupta has a sobering essay, with videos, “Simple steps for coexisting with the virus”, link The article has a difficult video on long COVID.  It’s particularly disturbing to hear how the virus enters the brain.  There seem to be some cases of long COVID even in vaccinated people with few symptoms during infection.

I wanted to focus on one particular prospect in his essay:  that vaccinated people may have to be regularly tested just as unvaccinated, at least during large outbreaks, as he looks at recommendations from Harvard's Jeremy Faust. 

Gupta does suggest (or relay the idea of) the use of at-home rapid antigen tests, discussed in these blog before.  He seems to imply that they would be mandatory even for the vaccinated, possibly by employers or for entrances into businesses or even for residents of buildings.  That would suggest a smartphone tracking system of the infected, which might have the possibility of evolving into Australian style quarantines.

This idea has completely flipped the idea of “personal responsibility” as we understand it.  Before COVID19 (or COVID21 now) it was pretty much “survival of the fittest”.  That was the case with the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, which did not become “that bad”.  Then, no one seriously talked of quarantines and shutdowns.  I went to bars and yet lived “at home” with a 96-year-old mother.  That would be unthinkable now.  Neither myself, mother, or any caregivers every got H1N1, but we, being older, may have had residual resistance from historical outbreaks in the past (my mother was born 5 years before the 1918 pandemic).

Now, anyone is morally responsible if gratuitous behavior infects others more vulnerable.  This could lead to new standards for civil liability and litigation, and of course new criminal laws.  Of course, the “libertarian” resistance in red states may push back from things going this far.  And we would have to ramp up to manufacture and deliver the rapid tests, and develop the surveillance systems (which a startup could do).

There is even more to this than the vulnerability of others around you.  Infection carries with it contributing to the possibility of incubating more dangerous mutant strains.

Of course, in theory a rapid-testing regime could drive the R-naught down enough that life returns to normal (after a period of Australian-style military discipline on civilians), but Delta is so contagious that this sounds very difficult without sterilizing vaccines (like proposed nasal vaccines).

Perhaps this is all speculative.  But we have seen this idea before.  Remember the case of Typhoid Mary, who, while clinically well, was kept locked up until she died.   During the 1980s, the “religious right” indulged a theory that gay men were “aimplifying” a bloodborne disease until by chance it became more casually contagious or spread by insects.  Actually, I’ve never heard of a virus suddenly becoming an arbovirus.  Another rumor was that immunocompromised AIDS patients would harbor other infections which would mutate and infect the general population – something similar to what seems to be happening with COVID now.  Yet, I never heard of a single case where that really happened and fired up a secondary epidemic in the general population of something else.

Also:  Yahoo! News (Andrew Romano) reports that unvaccinated Americans tend to blame vaccinated Americans on the rise of the variants, against the science.  There are credible theories that vaccines (especially if non-sterilizing) if not rolled out very quickly to the whole world, will encourage the development of variants trying to escape them.  USA Today (Joel Shannon et al) also discusses breakthrough cases, and warns vaccines don't make you invincible. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Borysenko on "anti-racist math" instruction in schools; more on locals and substack, could they work for me?

 

Loudoun County schools HQ

Karkyn Borysenko recently did a livestream regarding what an “anti-racist math class” would be like.

It’s hard to make an sense of the idea that a discipline that is dedicated to finding fixed truths could be “racist” or “supremacist”. 

I looked at the pdf  of the itinerary, which was quite repetitious and nebulous.  OK, a statistics experiment might be misleading because if biases of the people who participated (for example, babies tend to show preferences for associated with other children who look like them, true).  But that doesn’t invalidate the concepts of statistics.  Or an algebra “story problem” may seem contrived to remain culturally neutral.

TVO has an article (Askey Okwuosa) about similar attempts at “anti-racist” math in Canada, and practical applications.  You can make similar arguments about classical music (Neely, drama blog, June 9, 2020) with its emphasis on resolution of dissonance and form (until the modern era).  

Karlyn shared the pdf link ("Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction") only on her locals site, which you have to sign up for and join .  This, like substack, is  becoming more popular.  You can start out free and donate later.  The problem is that there is a limited number of such sites a reader even like me would support. 

I will be restructuring my own sites at the end of the year (details probably coming in October, it looks like).  I would not be able to attract subscribers without more focus on a narrow area (maybe power grid security and solar storm hardening).    . 

Tim Lee, who has written for the Washington Post, Vox, and Ars Technica, has started a substack subscription site called Full Stack Economics.

I have found it practical to maintain some subscriptions to major city newspapers and major periodicals (with a few of them I have trouble with the logon’s continuing to work), and a couple of Patreon’s (and I’ve had some trouble with my logon to that, as a patron, not as a creator). 

But it would not be practical to depend on too many of them for the sort of news and commentary consolidation I have been doing in these blogs – and as I said, changes are coming at the end of the year.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Braver Angels holds interviews, panel forums on national service

 

Dec 2007 honoring the fallen on Mall

Braver Angels has been turning some attention to national service, and will have a debate Aug 19 debate, Eventrbite link here.  Or try this link.  The question is, do Americans have a moral obligation to serve in a military or national service or similar program?

Because of a conflict, I may not be able to attend that, but would expect to watch a video of it after the fact and do a review later, on Wordpress.

But there is a big preview available now on YouTube, where Luke Nathan Phillips interviews Americorps chief of external affairs, Sri Preston Kulkani (Aug 13).

As for how the debate question is posed, it seems as though part of the obligation is to serve through a national bureaucracy, or through something like a large, organized non-profit.

Last night, on the GLBT blog, I wrote about a party at a local gay bar where people brought food to the event, and then it was collected and driven to a food bank (in Arlington) today – by me.  This is an informal, flexible way to volunteer that creates an “event” worth writing about (comparable to filming a protest, maybe). 

Later in the evening, someone asked me to give him a ride home.  Not far.  OK, everyone is vaccinated (I hope) and I had my N95 mask and I could roll down the car windows.  But sometimes you have to take risks for people, an idea which is part of the whole debate about “personal agency”.

Preston talked about upcoming day of service on 9/11.  There is also one always on MLK’s Birthday in January.  But on that day in 2020, instead of doing a day at a gay youth shelter (which is often trans and non-binary these days, a lot has changed) I went to Richmond to a Second Amendment event, which was peaceful, despite all the fears from the Left.  But the world decayed quickly after that.

Volunteering in person has been problematic until recently with the vaccines, and the Delta variant can confound it again.  You can do stuff at home?  Well, I don’t raise money because I don’t like to ask people for it,  I guess I could have helped with the vaccine appointments (I had trouble with mine, as the 2nd shot was two days early, website problems).  In the summer of 2020 I actually took the contact tracers course online but decided not to do it because it sounded like you were manipulating people over the phone.

Preston does talk about how the pandemic challenges people to believe we are in this together – when we aren’t.  The well-off are much better able to isolate and protect themselves than the workers they depend on.  That’s part of the cause of the friction over masks and vaccines.  Another problem is that normal online speech about this, in good faith, questioning establishment science (because the establishment changes the message so frequently) can stop people from acting together enough to prevent the pandemic from escaping and overrunning us again. It’s a challenging problem, and Chimese communism may have a better handle on it than American individualism, because in China adults don’t start out with the same presumption of personal agency –  it isn’t allowed.

My own “restructuring” of my online world this winter might make longer volunteer stints possible – even retired people could be expected to do them.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Facebook axes NYU profs who offer "Ad Observer" browser extensions for journalists and researchers to study ad placement (vs. political polarization)

 

plate 

Rory Mor and Cory Doctorow discuss Facebook’s TOS ban on automated tools (like “Ad Observer) from websites to track its own ad placement, link on Electronic Frontier Foundation.

TheVerge, in a story by Casey Newton, reports how Facebook axes the accounts (even personal accounts) of professors at NYU who offered Ad Observer to browsers recently. James Newton offered an earlier news story on the same site.

Indeed ProPublica reports that the use of its tool detected ads that Facebook would normally oppose running, highly political ads or for groups like the NRA.  One of the findings is that Facebook generally wants ads that are genuinely commercial and about products and services, not about politics or ideological issues.  This goes along with ideas like “commercial viability”.

But Facebook had written its own corporate blog post justifying its position, that research cannot compromise “personal privacy”. It’s a bit hard to reconcile these arguments.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

How a citizen journalist called the COVID19 pandemic in early 2020 before it exploded in New York City

 

NYC 2015-11

I followed up a little more on Mike Donnelly’s work, and yes, particularly, read his Medium Channel.  (I have a post Aug. 13 on the “BillofGLBTIssues blog).  I’ll give a link to his March 11, 2020 detailed post where he says NYC needs a China/Italy-style lockdown immediately, but check all the other posts.

Here is also a Twitter thread he posted at the same time (11 posts)

When I look at his work, yes, this is much what I saw citizen journalism accomplishing through blogging and websites as opposed to video channels, which started becoming all-the-rage more or less around 2015.  And then, in the era of Trump, the censorship and even deplatformings started.

I have to react to his proposal for a Wuhan-style lockdown in the US (toward the end of the post), which, far from it, did not happen.  Now we approach 700,000 deaths from a disease that probably has an infection fatality rate (if you define that correctly in the data science world ) of less than 1%, although it may grow with certain variants including Delta.  The long term disability from long COVID is also a major factor.

Let me start my reaction by noting that I had become concerned about this by the time Wuhan closed down (Jan 23, 2020) when I had made reservations for a screenplay-pitch fest in late February in Los Angeles, and then complicated the reservations with miles.  I wound up cancelling, and then rewriting the screenplay and reregistering it anyway. (I seem to have gotten the miles refunded by AA now, but I have use them before January 2022.)  That itself is a narrative on my Wordpress blogs.  But my point here is that a lot of individuals realized what was coming (exponential case and hospitalization counts, long incubation periods, asymptomatic spread).  Avi Schiffmann apparently had some contacts in China (I wonder if from a teen computer camp) and seemed to know some time before the Wuhan outbreak hit the mainstream press, as he seems to have had his coronavirus tracker ready before the outbreak was reported.  Donnelly also connected the dots well before the mainstream press did (note his work is supported by scientific work from China). 

The lockdowns in New Zealand and Australia have been almost as strict as Wuhan (or Bergamo), prompted by a “Zero Covid” policy which may not be feasible with Delta around.  In some quarters, there is something to be said for it.  A vaccination effort has to be done worldwide very fast (would require China to do the lions share in the developing world) or else it will drive selection pressures for more contagious and possibly more virulent variants that can escape the, -- at least that’s a credible theory. In the interim, the safest course is Zero Covid tolerated until everyone is vaccinated.  But zero Covid requires long term and permanent sacrifices by private citizens, giving up personal agency and accepting a potentially communist style life maybe long term (maybe life limited to pre-arranged pods).  For example, true zero COVID would have resulted in shutdown of my own blogs and maybe Michael’s if they were not “paying their own way” already. 


But conceptually the need for such a policy for a long period of months for some infectious agent is imaginable, especially if it were deliberately created and released.

Many Zero Covid policies propose paying people to stay home with the military even delivering their food. But eventually this has to be paid back.  Maybe go after Social Security with means testing or go after inheritances, for example.  Very radical and permanent changes could result and society would no longer be free the way it had been.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Internet infrastructure and financial institutions looking harder at connections to extremist speech, but it is too much in the eye of the beholder

 

Goose Creek, Loudoun VA 2021-8

A few big references today, although not the time to expand on all the implications.

Reuters has a story on Paypal’s looking into its services inadvertently used by extremist or white supremacy or anti-semitic groups or purposes, by Anna Irrera. This leads to another story by Irrera about platform bans regarding products or services traceable to "Qanon"  (none of this is very objective).

 Allson Morrow interviews Edward Brawer about the story,  Brawer talks about  the need for financial companies to have their own “Section 230” (embedded video below). 

Starting in 2018 we have heard stories about a few people with supposedly extremist ties (on the right) having bank accounts closed, as “business risks”.  This leads to hasty action without "due process" (like the Santa Clara principles for online issues).  

It would be plausible for banks to look into misuse of estate money for these purposes, especially given political (even “anti-racist”) pressures from the Left.

Since Charlottesville (and reinforced by January 6), we have seen even core infrastructure companies like web hosts or content managers, domain name registrars, or security processors concerned about perceived ties to promoting extremism (remember Cloudflare c. “Daily Stormer” after Charlottesville, for openers).  Speech that is “gratuitous” – that is not paying its own way – is more likely to be perceived as disrupting public health or stability (partly because of pervasive inequity). Another related idea is that "silence is violence" and speech ("the fist") can be compelled if a person is to be heard. 

I wanted to point out Umair Haque’s screed this morning tying Trumpism to personalized Fascism, where people don’t want to be personally associated with others whom they see as “losers” – at least you can read his essay that way.  This is significant in my life and we’ll come back to that later.

Ray A. Smith talks in the Wall Street Journal about how “Vaccination status has Americans picking sides”, which feeds back partially to Haque.  It’s partly about an unprecedented challenge to individualism and personal agency (from the entire global Covid crisis, including masks and lockdowns) – but public health concerns do that (remember HIV in the 80s).  From a public health perspective, mass vaccination needs to happen fast, or it may encourage mutations and variants to evolve – that’s at least a major theory. Social media companies and even web hosts can be reasonably concerned that speech on their platforms, even when motivated by normally reasonably intellectually honest debate – will slow down vaccinations and exacerbate the long term public health crisis everywhere (Morrow pointed that out in the video above).

 

 

 

 

Friday, August 13, 2021

What is the "White Nonsense Roundup"?

 

The Roundup, Cedar Springs, Dallas, 2018-5

Here’s something, the tone of which is offputting.

CNN reports about a group called “White Nonsense Roundup”, story by AN Willingham, CNN, link. 

They purport to be the “white allies” of people of color.

The group has been around since 2016, and here is the Facebook page, with some reasonable links about the abuse of the white media in the past.   Their website blog has two posts. 

Mythinformed shared one of their pitches on Twitter, link

“It’s never your job.”  Frankly, I never address someone that way personally because they identify with a “group”. They are being talked down to.

But this is what “allyship” and explicit “anti-racism” mean to some people.  It is very pro-active, yet it sounds rude.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

How to deal with the demands of "wokeness" (interview)

 

Loudoun County VA school board discussing trans policy

Karlyn Borysenko offers a thorough interview with Dr. Mark Young on how to handle “wokeness” and its demands.   Young says he is "conservative" but not a "Republican". 

Young says that America might be slouching into the first phases of a “cultural revolution” even as extreme as Communist China’s Maoism of the 1960s, which punished elitism and intellectualism and required everyone to take turns being a prole.

Young says that the Left is much better at organizing people into political participation than the right, in terms of boycotts, running for local office, or raising money for candidates.  People on the intellectual right tend to feel ashamed to have to do that.  That’s why most of the punitive “cancel culture” comes from the Left.

Young wants people running for local office and making personal visits to home offices of persons in Congress. 

Here is a chat video by Karlyn with a woman being sued in Rhode Island for repeatedly asking for disclosure of the school system's curriculum from public records. There is a followup video Aug 15. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

What happens if bystanders or outdoor restaurant diners are accosted in public by extremist protesters?

 

downtown Dallas 2011

I to follow up yesterday’s post about getting “uncanceled” and to Ian Corzine’s video, with a brief discussion of the possibility of someone being confronted in public by a mob demanding others join their movement.

In Washington DC, and probably some other cities, there were incidents, in the summer of 2020, when protesters stormed into outdoor dining areas of private restaurants or bars and demanded that patrons join them.  In some cases business owners allowed it. 

There would be the risk that someone risks, that there is some kind of scuffle and that goes viral and gets the target “canceled”.  Corzine’s video doesn’t cover the idea that the demands on people sometimes now are quite extreme, as an extension of the concept of “anti-racism” or “silence is violence”.

Some incidents do end OK.  Lauren Victor offers this account in the Washington Post from September 2020.

There is a story in the New York Post about an incident at a Brooklyn eatery in April 2021. 

Protesters sometimes object to being photographed by bystanders who will not join them. 

Incident in Pittsburgh, September 2020, cell phone video.  

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

How to get "un-canceled" after a social media catastrophe, according to Ian Corzine; the line of acceptable speech keeps shifting

 

Richmond protests in the rain in June 2020

Ian Corzine offers advice on how to be “un-canceled”

The example he gives at the beginning, where a girl sounds unsympathetic about Covid victims.  is not the best, maybe.

But he says that you have to be brief and contrite in your apology.  Cuomo said way too much. He does talk about Jimmy Fallon’s impersonation of Chris Rock with a Blackface gig.  (One time when I was working as a substitute teacher in 2007, Chris Rock was a speaker at an assembly at a school in northern Virginia on drug abuse.)  He also advises people to "press the truth", not just "tell the truth".  

He recommends two books:  Evan Nierman, “Crisis Averted: PR Strategies to Protect Your Reputation and the Bottom Line”, Advantage Media, 192 pages, 2021;  and Molly McPherson, “Indestructible: Reclaim Control and Respond with Confidence in a Media Crisis,” 145 pages, Mandala Tree Press, 2021. 

The idea reminds me of the formation of “Reputation Defender” as a company in 2006 after scandals had become common (Dr. Phil was describing them on his daytime show in those days).

A couple of times recently I have been flamed, but the controversies died.  In one case, I simply called someone’s behavior at a city council meeting “bizarre” when he was protesting in an unusually personalized way, and someone messaged me that I was a disgrace to my university where I had graduated.  This was just wokeness.  Another time, I discussed a newspaper article on police stings of people contacting minors, and linked to a blog by someone.  The blogger had a son in prison.  The blogger objected to my commenting but the article was accurate.  The real problem was that she thought I didn’t have real skin in the game and she did; she might even have feared that the appearance of such a blog post from the general public could interfere with early release from prison. (All of this follows on the whole "To Catch a Predator" series on NBC with Chris Hansen in the 2000's.) 

I have a few brief videos of Monument Ave in Richmond before removal of the statues.  They are still up, but I suppose someone could complain it was insensitive for me to keep them up as a white person.  (I do include the statue of Arthur Ashe). People are making demands that they didn’t before and the bar has moved (Cuomo even said that about his situation_.

There were incidents in my life earlier, before the Internet, that I do regret and I cover them in my books.  One was in ninth grade, and another was when I was working as an assistant math instructor in graduate school. 

Sunday, August 08, 2021

What if regular mandatory testing and automated contact tracing was required even for vaccinated people if public health risks get worse?

 

One Loudoun, VA 2021/8

Abraar Karan and Ranu S. Dhillon have a disturbing article in the Sunday Washington Post, “Vaccines are great, but testing and tracing will stamp out transmission”.

This would apply to vaccinated people, too, as we know from recent information.  It would become more necessary if a variant emerges that substantially evades vaccines for causing major symptoms.

You would need to distribute rapid tests, require people to take them (not just be vaccinated) to enter many places, and show a negative test within 72 hours on a smart phone.   Smart phone trackers could be introduced to order people into isolation for contact.

Although the article says people could be compensated, probably not adequately.  For example, if someone is isolated at home and a major appliance (heat or air conditioning) breaks they would have to be taken to a facility   They would need to be allowed to take their electronics.  At home I run websites (which will be simplified this winter), but if I had major computer failures or lost connectivity, I might not be able to continue access (although I have several laptops for that reason).   In a situation like mine, I could be expected to name backup individuals (which I don’t have now) to look after the sites if something happened (although you could say that about real illnesses with age).

Saturday, August 07, 2021

Why YouTube has doubled down on "citizen journalism" regarding coronavirus and elections

 

Baby Trump, from a 2019-7 "sh show"

On Aug. 3, Ian Corzine posted a video “Why YouTube Canceled News”.

He is referring specifically to YouTube’s one week suspension of a major “conservative” news channel in Australia, Sky News for mentioning a particularly controversial drug in connection with proposed coronavirus treatment.  

I’ll provide the link to YouTube’s rules on Covid19content.  I supposed they would apply to Blogger, too.

They are quite extensive.  YouTube has a problem in knowing that many visitors are intellectually na├»ve and not very capable of separating obviously false or questionable claims and rumors from reasonably credible facts.   They can reasonably fear that people will be wrongfully persuaded to avoid vaccinations, possibly exposing the US and many other countries to the additional risk of the evolution of vaccine resistant variants, making us start all over.  So this is a very big deal, ethically. 

Likewise YouTube has enforced rules on claims of the 2020 election having been “stolen”, and we saw on January 6, 2021 the danger that wide belief in these (putatively mostly false) claims can pose. I'm also afraid that some social media censorship by YouTube, Facebook/Instagram and Twitter seem a lot like nausea reflexes (given the influence of the Left on corporate culture today) to anything connected to former president Donald Trump. 

Some of the rules on Covid have to do with treatment misinformation, and there is an article in Nature about the withdrawal of a preprint report on coronavirus in India that seems applicable to YouTube’s rules.

In a more general way, YouTube has become uncomfortable with the idea that non-professionals play journalist online about issues rather than use it in a more conventional way to promote or sell lifestyle produces and services or values (or show personal willingness to participate in conventional activism based on group solidarity, rather than acting and speaking on their own apart from established movements and non-profits).

We saw that concerned with the TOS changes in late 2019 (ironically just before the pandemic) with the mention of a “commercial viability” concept.

Fox5News in DC today reported on a product that detects coronavirus in home or office air circulation, under development in Maryland, apparently not available yet.  It could be a game changer if it works, but I have no further details now.

Thursday, August 05, 2021

The Washington Nationals trade away veterans for minor leaguers (out of necessity) and for the rest of 2021 will be like the old Washington Senators

 

Nationals Park Gay Night 2019-6

Well, the Washington Nationals, after a bad streak, sold away most of the team, so for the rest of the season they will be like a minor league club.  But all year they have been undermined by COVID and by unusually bad string of injuries.  

They will be doing well to win even 70 games, or even finish above .400

The latest problems seem to start when Schwarber pulled a hamstring in early July when getting swept at home by the Dodgers.  They went to San Diego and split four games, with a 15-5 win, but blew an 8-run lead in the last game and never recovered from that.  The problems continued after the All Star break when the Padres shellacked them 24-8 in the first game back.  They showed some signs of life (even an 18-1 win over Miami) but suddenly got swept by the Orioles.

The point of the fire sale is to get something for players who can become free agents soon. They got pretty good prospects and may be better in 2022. 

But they just finished losing a 4-game sweep at home to the Philadelphia Phillies (after taking 2 of 3 from the Cubs).  In the past two weeks they have blown several leads in the ninth inning, both at home and on the road.  The bullpen seems to be the biggest weakness, as the offense has been fair to good.

I remember that 1959 season with the first Washington Senators with that 18 game losing streak, before my junior year in High School. 

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

British columnists: independent journalists are morally right to call out the probably guilty (and should be allowed to)

 

St Louis, VA 2021-7

Mallen Baker, British commentator who asks a lot of tough questions, asks tonight “Can We Hold the Guilty to Account?

He looks at several issues, including the 2020 explosion in Beirut, insect apocalypse, but most of all the lab-leak theory pinned on China.  He rehearses some of the GOP report (Books blog, August 3) and notes that the Wuhan lab had ordered some improvements to its ventilation system in July 2019, a sign it knew there were real safety problems, setting up the possibility of a leak in early September and the hiding of a database on Sept. 12.

A truthful and trusted explanation of where the pandemic came from could have consequences for policy issues in the US, especially when some citizens are expected to surrender personal agency sacrificially. That’s something that becomes a personal moral issue in wartime, and the pandemic period could be viewed as war, given the apocalyptic worst outcome that might be imagined with progressive mutations.  Indeed, the idea of “flattening the curve” in early 2020 has changed to the concern of stopping the incubation of more variants in people’s bodies, indeed a dystopian scenario. 

I’ve even imagined sci-fi ideas where there is a killer disease that starts in hair follicles, and that can be prevented by making an entire population entirely bald, destroying personal norms of sexual attractiveness.  (“The Andromeda Strain” had a touch of that; hope we don’t have an “Andromeda variant”.)

Monday, August 02, 2021

LA Times columnists discusses how to persuade people in marginalized groups to get vaccinated, and it is quite "personal"

 

Trinity Presbyterian, Arlington VA, 2012

Los Angeles Times columnist Erika D. Smith writes today “I wish I could be angry with the unvaccinated. Being black makes that complicated.”

What she writes is predicable, but she sums it up when she says ““Yes, there may be some behaviors that are going on in Black and brown communities that are putting us at greater risk. At the same time, there’s a level of responsibility at a systemic or institutional level that’s contributing to that disparity”, quoting Dr. Roberto Vargas, from Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science”.

Then she says “Vargas, who has been hearing Black people in South L.A. spout the same misinformation for months, says the only solution is for more people to get involved” followed by

Finally ““What does help look like? Like volunteering at a vaccination site or writing a check. Or talking to people and helping them get access to a doctor or a [healthcare] provider,” he said. “The things that we know make a difference to changing people’s lives might just be talking to someone else who’s been vaccinated. Help to foster that communication.”

OK, this is a bit of a challenge personally.  I write at home (I am 78) as a “pseudo-journalist”, and generally don’t get involved personally with other people’s needs, or socially outside of a very narrow circle.  I suppose my vaccination in March 2021 should have changed that.  I do deliver food to a local food bank (alone by car) sometimes.  But I haven’t spent time with people I don’t know.  Maybe the idea that even vaccinated people can carry the virus makes that problematic.  In fact, back with the pandemic started, hitting hard in March 2020 in the US, most volunteer agencies (like Food and Friends in DC) did not want the elderly to volunteer in person.  That could have changed with the vaccines.

In some years before the pandemic I volunteered sometimes one Saturday afternoon a month with a “Community Assistance” drive at a local church.  I was mostly checking eligibility cards or giving out bags.  It is hard to get involved with people’s personal needs, like their trying on used clothes.

Yet I can recall a youth sermon back in 2012 where a teen (whose personality resembled some of today’s more conspicuous YouTubers) talked about the idea that things have to get personal with people you don’t know, even when it goes against the grain of minding your own business.