SocraticGadfly

November 27, 2020

Coronavirus week 34: More US magic bullet fails

The title is in part my reference to last week's COVID roundup

The American public would love to have a "magic bullet," but even a "successful" vaccine won't be one. That's as, per the New York Times, Merika has a new record — two weeks in a row with a million or more cases. And, contra minimizers who say it killed off all the weak in the spring? Deaths are the highest since May.

The Times has a longform on Moderna and Pfizer's work to develop a vaccine and navigate the world of Trumpism at the same time. Sadly, some of the analogies about how the vaccine is supposed to work come off as a bit gimmicky. 

Skeptical Raptor talks about Pfizer getting its FDA review for emergency use authorization starting on Dec. 10. No clue as to how long the review, or time to make a decision, will take. I expect that an EUA will be granted — with a number of parameters.

In addition, per this Guardian piece, we don't know how long the vaccine's protections will last. Nor do we know how much the virus may mutate to wiggle outside of a vaccine "box."

And, there's another issue. Since both vaccines require two "jabs" not one, and at least 21 days apart, will adverse reactions to the first mean a lot of people don't get the second?

What's wrong with how antimask wingnuts have interpreted that new Danish study? Plenty. Orac has the most complete takedown. In light of all the threads above, of course, masks and social distancing will remain important well into next year.

The World Health Organization last week said that Gilead's hyped remdesivir does NOT reduce deaths in COVID patients.

Fauci says a vaccine may NOT prevent person-to-person spread. #WearADamnMask.

Carl Zimmer explains the numbers behind the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines while, sadly, continuing not to turn too sharp of an eye on Moderna and Pfizer PR. 

Ed Yong describes how what is arguably one of the US' best prepared hospitals, the University of Nebraska-Omaha medical center, is getting absolutely slammed, how it's likely to get worse, and how Gov. Ed Ricketts, maybe the worst governor in the nation on the issue outside of Kristi Noem, is a contributor to the problem.

Speaking of? Two states, both well under 1 million, two GOP governors. Contrast Noem and South Dakota with Pete Scott and Vermont. (I've already told Noem's chief of staff on Twitter that his boss is a liar about presenting complete medical evidence to the public and taking it under consideration herself. And she is.)

COVID-Texas

Yet, Gov. Strangeabbott touts another magic bullet, this one from Eli Lilly, bamlanivimab. 

"But they should know that, listen, the cavalry is coming as it concerns COVID-19," Abbott said, again nodding to the treatments.

Uhh, wrong. Beyond that, in the state with the nation's highest percentage of uninsured, how many can afford it?

That's our weaselly gov. That's our afraid of being primaried in 2022 gov, is more like it.

TEA Commish Mike Morath is as ball-less as Strangeabbott, and Peaster's superintendent will continue defying state regs on school safety until Morath actually does something.

Reality? You can get it even living out on a ranch, when then folks in small towns continue to go maskless and small town stores continue to post signs and not enforce them. 

Meanwhile, it's "the Wild Wild West" on coronavirus test sites in Dallas County. Probably a lot of scamming going on. Our Man Downtown, John Wiley Price, is probably miffed in part because none of these sites have contacted him to hire JWP-connected minority vendors.

Remote learning isn't working in Texas. It's not working well in New Mexico, but it's better than in Texas. Why? Gov. Strangebbott's schwaffles, his legalistic stances on education and COVID, like with all things and COVID. That's the bottom line.

Sports is often touted as a release from other societal problems, or at least a distraction. Rather, it's often an addiction, especially when $$$ are involved. Note that the University of New Mexico basketball teams have looked for temporary playing locations in Texas COVID hotspots Lubbock and Amarillo, because N.M. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has a selective shutdown in place, with more brains than Abbott.

Robert Moore is very worried about El Paso's short-term future.  

Christian Wallace visits Loving County, the last county in the US to have no reported COVID cases. (Until last week; it now has three, in a county of 169.)

Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell pleads guilty to violating his own county's mask order. Unfortunately, other charges, which were arguably more serious (not dismissing what he did) were dropped as part of the plea deal.

Final national note: Hard to see how Biden as president-elect gets a real stimulus package passed in the lame-duck, or whether Trump would veto it just to be petulant. Part of this depends on Mulish Mitch (more true than Moscow Mitch). Contra GOP senators, the economy is NOT "getting better."

November 25, 2020

Fast-food cults: In-N-Out vs Whataburger

Any time ANY news about In-N-Out in ANY state pops up on Twitter, Texans and ex-Texans, current and former denizens of the Pointy Abandoned Object State™(think about it, think about it) with the usual inferiority complex pop up and say, in essence:

"What about Whataburger?"

And? 

What about it?

Per the header, Whataburger's fanbois are just as much part of a cult as those of In-N-Out. Behind the scenes, of course, it's somewhat a Texas-vs-California bullshit smackdown, with Texans afraid the Pointy Abandoned Object State™ is becoming Californicated any time an In-N-Out opens here. (It's true; admit it.)

First, so what if In-N-Out only allegedly has two items on its menu? (It's actually more than two if you count triples, quadruples and grilled cheese.) Lots of fast food places have started declining when they've put too many items on their menus.

Second, somebody from Whataburger will say something like: "What about our green chile burgers"?

First, yes, that's the correct spelling of "chile."

Second, coming from New Mexico, I'll say "What about 'em?" in rhetorical spades.

Blake's Lotaburger makes a much better one. Per Wiki, named best burger in the world by National Geographic.

That said, both In-N-Out AND Whataburger (and Lotaburger, for that matter) are overpriced. And, Whataburger, at least, offers few coupons.

Cheap fast food, with lots of coupons, in the burgers world? Burger King.

More expensive, but cheaper than either of the cults, with more variety than In-N-Out, better flavor than Whataburger, and more coupons in the mail? Jack in the Box. I'll take it over any of the others, any day.

I used to go to Wendy's, but, since it refused to join other fast-food places in offering a few cents a pound more for Florida tomatoes, to be paid straight to the pickers, I've boycotted it, with one or two moments of weakness on coupons, for five years.

Of course, better yet, and healthier, among fast foods, is a sub sandwich with lots of vegetables on whole wheat bread.

Also overpriced is White Castle? My long-ago record of 19, and eating half of the boxes as well, all fueled by plenty of Meister Brau, still stands. But, no way I'd pay 75 cents or whatever for one of those little bitty things today.

Back to the cult of Whataburger.

Yes, I think there's an inferiority complex going on, along with fear of Californication.

To be fair, there are a couple of things done right in Texas. It overall has the best barbecue, with KC style running a close second. H-E-B is one of the best (won't say THE best) grocery chains. But Whataburger, or as I have called it on Twitter, What? A Burger?  No.

November 24, 2020

Ryan Cooper reads Dear Leader's dreck so you don't have to

Looking for good takedown reviews, rather than NY Review of Books or New York Times book reviews pages, of Dear Leader Obama's volume 1 of dreck? Ryan Cooper is a good starting point

Here's a couple of the nut grafs, early on, or sections from them:

Obama attempts to grapple with the massive failures of his presidency in A Promised Land, his new memoir describing his rise to power and early presidency, but ultimately the book is slippery and unconvincing. America is circling the political toilet in part because Obama had the chance to fix many longstanding problems and did not rise to the occasion, a fact the former president is still stubbornly unwilling or unable to see. 
Obama elsewhere evinces a political naivete and passivity that borders on the incomprehensible. For the sake of brevity, let me address just the three most important policy decisions of his presidency: the 2008 bank bailout, the 2009 Recovery Act stimulus, and his foreclosure policy.

Couldn't have said it much better myself.

Well, actually .... one caveat. 

Passivity, probably. Naivete? No.

Rather, as I tweeted to Cooper:

No other way to say it.

Cooper himself, in noting comments like Austan Goolsbee's about Hank Paulson, leaves the door open that subconsciously, he accepts this explanation.

Nathan J. Robinson hasn't come out with his takedown yet, but I'm waiting.

Texas Progressives watch Trump being RELENTLESS at losing; we also talk tacos, Fair Park

This progressive corner of the Texas Progressives wishes readers safe Thanksgiving travels if they're headed elsewhere, safe dining from COVID as well as bad cooking wherever they're at, and safe discussions if they're sharing the holiday space with wingnuts.

With that, let's dive into this week's roundup. We even talk cooking!

Texas politics

Former city manager of San Antonio Sheryl Sculley pulls back the curtain on just how bad police and fire unions in the Alamo City — and by extension in some ways, the whole state — simply suck. And, to add icing to the cake, re the unions angle? She's the daughter of a labor organizer.

As of last weekend, Kay Granger was the most prominent Texas Republican to tell Trump to move on.

Off the Kuff examined recent Presidential results in the Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth areas.

Raise Your Hand Texas prepares for the next fight over school finance at the Legislature.

Texana

Texas Monthly has a delicious food guide to all things taco! No listing of Thanksgiving-themed tacos or New Mexico "Christmas" themed ones. Sorry, can't give you everything.

The Mexicans are invading! Well, specifically, the crested caracara. One person reported seeing one recently at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, so Texas Monthly's report is confirmed.

DosCentavos writes about one of his favorite performers, Max Baca, of the Grammy winning Los Texmaniacs, who has been in a fight against COVID-19.

Dallas

D Magazine talks with the architect who completed, authentically, the restoration of Fair Park's Hall of State.

And, high rises on Oak Lawn? Pass.

Jim Schutze seems to love him some charter schools and teaching to the test, as well as repeating winger stereotypes about lazy teachers and such.

National

New York AG Letitia James is taking a new look at tax deductions claimed by the Trump Org, including consulting payments to First Grifter Ivanka. The NYT has more.

Raffi Melkonian delivers a play-by-play account of Rudy Giuliani's day in Pennsylvania court.

Global

SocraticGadfly had two pieces related to recent climate change news. First, does a new Norwegian-British study show the James Kunstler alarmist types might be right? Second, it appears we now have the measurement tools to implement a carbon tax PLUS carbon tariff, which must be a part of climate change control.

November 23, 2020

Suggested new names for the Washington Football Team

Recently, the logoless squad formerly known as the Washington Redskins announced it would not have its team get an official new name for a full year or more and might play 2021 as the WFT as well.

(That IS WFT and not WTF, which could also be used for many things surrounding this issue, but we move forward.)

With new ball coach Ron Rivera citing "gut feelings" in benching Dwayne Haskins and replacing him (for now) with Kyle Allen, it looks like WFT is in no game-day hurry, either.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions.

The Washington Hogs. Would honor not only Joe Jacoby and other linemen of the Joe Bugel as line coach era, but would also salute the gut feelings, and hog-sized guts, of the Skins' two most renowned old-time quarterbacks, Sonny Jurgensen and Billy Kilmer .

We could go Washington Gunslingers, in honor of Slingin Sammy Baugh. But that's problematic in another way, as the former Washington Bullets of the NBA know.

Washington Palefaces? Turnabout is fair play, one might say. On the other hand, claiming that American Indians called Europeans "palefaces" actually would perpetuate old stereotypes.

Washington Senators is a possibility, if you want to see if they'll leave town like two baseball teams.

Washington Generals? After all, per the above, the WFT looks to win no more often than the Globetrotters' hapless opponents for decades, right? On the other hand, politicians who support cheap patriotism stunts like airplane flyovers of NFL stadiums would surely take this one the wrong way. And, speaking of politicians, you'd surely have Donald Trump trying to raise some New Jersey Generals patent infringement claim. It would be bogus, but do you want to give him any more oxygen?

Speaking of, you could call them the Washington Trumps, reflecting mutual moral bankruptcy of The Donald and Dan Snyder.

A more serious twist would be the Washington Admirals, which would give a nod to nearby Annapolis. Would be even bigger if you get The Admiral, David Robinson, as a part owner.

November 20, 2020

Drew Springer gets free PR

State Rep. Drew Springer was just re-elected to Texas House District 68, and as is tradition in a banana republic state with a legislature that meets just every other year like here in Tex-ass, Drew, along with other Legiscritters, filed a bunch of bills on the first day of filing, a week after the election.

One paper in his district apparently was so impoverished to run this as its lead story. Not even bylined.

There's one additional problem.

This isn't a normal mid-November for Uncle Drew.

Springer is in a runoff special election for a state senate seat. And, just about every one of the bills he filed was a pander against claims by his opponent, Shelley Luther, that he's not a "real conservative."

In short, he just got himself a shitload of free advertising.