If You’re Still Using the Flu for Comparison

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 300 children in this country have died over the course of the pandemic. As a comparison, the CDC reported 188 flu-related deaths in children during the 2019–20 flu season.

The quotation is from an article in The Atlantic by a pediatrician named Perri Klass.


Road Rage & YOLO Attitude Not Working

graph of government statistics about U.S. vehicle fatalities

Money, money, money

Things go wrong in numerous ways when money is the focus of people’s activities. First, a quotation from an investigator of high-end art thefts, and then a comment attempting to justify how a Paulsboro, New Jersey deli can be valued at over $100 million. The commentator’s job description is worth a visit. “Making magic” (see below) looks like a euphemism. The wording would suggest some deception or diversion is at work in the “magic.” There’s a reason a synonym for “magic” is “trickery.”

They couldn’t stop,” Callens said. “Because money, money, money.”

Douglas S. Ellenoff, a partner at Ellenoff Grossman & Schole L.L.P., whose firm has executed at least 25 reverse mergers, told me that although reverse mergers have been “abused on occasion,” the practice was, on balance, a beneficial one. “There’s nothing wrong with being creative and putting deals together and making magic,” Ellenoff said.

Sometimes Charlatans Confess

He didn’t hide the fact that he didn’t know what he was talking about:

“I have been looking at Covid for a very long time, but I should say, as has been said about me numerous times, I am not an epidemiologist, I don’t have an MD.”

As if It Had Been Written Today

Politics has become more than ever the secret game of a few people who, deciding for millions of people, claim to represent the people.
— Viktor Klemperer, 1938, from his Kinotagebuch, p. 146.

cover of Klemperer book "Licht und Schatten"

Words Come Back to Haunt

Twitter feed about Charlie Kirk's complaint about healthcare

No One Is Talking about This

A couple of paragraphs from Patricia Lockwood’s latest:

Capitalism! It was important to hate it, even though it was how you got money. Slowly, slowly, she found herself moving toward a position so philosophical even Jesus couldn’t have held it: that she must hate capitalism while at the same time loving film montages set in department stores.

Politics! The trouble was that they had a dictator now, which, according to some people (white), they had never had before, and according to other people (everyone else), they had only ever been having, constantly, since the beginning of the world. Her stupidity panicked her, as well as the way her voice now sounded when she talked to people who hadn’t stopped being stupid yet.

Physicists Forgot College Students Drink?

This seems to be the startling conclusion from Cory Doctorow:

How [did] the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign came to be the epicenter of a massive outbreak [Covid-19]? UI reopened with confident statements that a set of health mea­sures – distancing, masking, testing, and an app – would keep the total number of cases on campus that semester below 500, with no more than 100 cases at any time.

Within weeks, there were 780 active cases on campus and the university sent everyone home again.

UI’s plan was based on a model produced by a pair of physicists who took a break from their discipline to work on epidemiology. When the plan was unveiled, the physicists made disparaging remarks about epidemiology to the press, saying that modeling human interactivity lacked the “intellectual thrill” of their usual fare.

How did the model go so very awry? How did UI immediately blow past the “worst case scenario” of 100 cases and rise to 780 cases?

Simple: the model did not account for the students attending drunken parties where they breathed on each other. A lot.

Ye shall know them by their milk?

In this weekend’s Financial Times, a high-end financial analyst tells us that people need to identify themselves by their milk.

Demand for plant milk has fed off café culture. “To choose your specific type of plant-based milk in Starbucks [now] seems to be a way of identifying yourself,” says Bruno Monteyne, an analyst at Alliance Bernstein.

"Dairy Cows Ask Starbucks to Hold the Hormones (5)" by goodfoodandh2o is licensed with CC BY-NC 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

Queers and Commies Restore Credit Privacy

More precisely, people mistaken for queers and commies reacted in a way that helped credit privacy. It’s complicated.

Retail Credit/Equifax invented credit reporting when it was founded in Atlanta in 1899. For more than half a century, it served as a free market Stasi to whom neighbors could quietly report each other for violating social norms.

Retail Credit’s permanent, secret files recorded who was suspected of being gay, a “race-mixer” or a political dissident so that banks and insurance companies could discriminate against them.

This practice was only curbed when a coalition of white, straight conservative men discovered that they’d been misidentified as queers and commies and demanded action, whereupon Congress gave Americans limited rights to see and contest their secret files.