Monday, June 21, 2021

A Pair of Toads

They even look like them, and will give you warts if you touch them:

"One of Connecticut’s legendary music clubs is reopening after a year-long closure due to the pandemic, with the help of the federal government. Toad’s Place celebrated with its first live music, a jazz duo, Friday along with Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Rep. Rosa DeLauro. The club had been closed since March 2020. Blumenthal called the club “iconic.” Toad’s opened in the 1970s and has been a hot spot for local bands, but also has hosted acts such as the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, U2 and, more recently, Cardi B and Kendrick Lamar. The club was awarded a $1 million grant through the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program....."

Here is a taste of the music that was played:

Taylor Swift shocked fans Friday when she announced her next re-recorded album would be "Red," her 2012 foray into pop music.
Taylor Swift shocked fans Friday when she announced her next re-recorded album would be "Red," her 2012 foray into pop music (Kevin Winter/Photographer: Kevin Winter/Getty)

I heard they played some Beatles as well as some Ram Jam.


Now dance, everybody, dance:

"The long march toward equal rights for gay, lesbian and transgender Americans - whose advocates have eyed major advances with complete Democratic control in Washington - has run into a wall of opposition in the U.S. Senate. Floundering alongside other liberal priorities such as voting rights, gun control and police reform, legislation that would write protections for LGBTQ Americans into the nation's foundational civil rights law have stalled due to sharpening Republican rhetoric, one key Democrat's insistence on bipartisanship, and the Senate's 60-vote supermajority rule. While Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., hinted at a potential action this month - the annual LGBTQ Pride Month - Senate aides and advocates say there are no immediate plans to vote on the Equality Act. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., one of two openly gay senators, said that she has quietly been lobbying Republican colleagues on the issue and that there has been only "incremental progress." 

By time back page came up I had lost total interest, sorry.

So you ever dance with the Devil in the blazing sun?

Sabrina Shankman of the Globe Staff (a new name I don't recognize) is croaking about the alarming phenomenon at work as climate change makes periods of extreme heat more common and prolonged and the warming climate is leading us into a dangerous vicious cycle (conveinetently times for the beginning summer and the two hottest months).

That question was posed by veteran Janelle Nanos, who asked an expert, and the Globe will be happy to know I never have, and never will, use one because I am not a pussy.


"Eight children in a van from a youth home for abused or neglected children were killed in a fiery multi-vehicle crash on a wet interstate that also killed a man and his baby in another vehicle, the most devastating blow from a tropical depression that claimed 13 lives in Alabama as it caused flash floods and spurred tornadoes that destroyed dozens of homes; meanwhile, a 24-year-old man and a 3-year-old boy were also killed Saturday when a tree fell on their house just outside the Tuscaloosa city limits, said Capt. Jack Kennedy of the Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit. Makayla Ross, a 23-year-old Fort Payne woman, died Saturday after her car ran off the road into a swollen creek, DeKalb County Deputy Coroner Chris Thacker told WHNT-TV. The deaths occurred as drenching rains from Tropical Depression Claudette pelted northern Alabama and Georgia late Saturday. As much as 12 inches (30 centimeters) of rain was reported earlier from Claudette along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Flash flood watches were posted Sunday for eastern Georgia, the southern two-thirds of South Carolina and the North Carolina coast. A tropical storm warning was in effect in North Carolina from the Little River Inlet to the town of Duck on the Outer Banks. A tropical storm watch was issued from South Santee River, South Carolina, to the Little River Inlet, forecasters said......"

They have my sympathies down there, so I guess I'm a Copperhead.

The trip ended in Arizona:

They must be “crazy for doing that?!”

He likes his coffee the way he likes his coffee!

"A judge will decide this week whether to charge a Wisconsin police officer who killed a man sitting in a parked car, after the man’s family invoked a rarely used legal process in a bid to get around prosecutors who cleared the officer. Joseph Mensah shot Jay Anderson Jr. in 2016 after he discovered him sleeping in his car after hours in a park in Wauwatosa, a Milwaukee suburb. Mensah said Anderson was reaching for a gun....."


Too late to give him a notice:

"MassNotify: too little, too late in the fight against COVID?" by Camille Caldera Globe Correspondent, June 20, 2021

In August 2020, Virginia became the first state in the nation to launch an app to track individual exposure to COVID-19. Since then, over 28 states have followed suit.

With the rollout of MassNotify on Tuesday, Massachusetts became the 29th. In his announcement, Governor Charlie Baker touted the state’s high vaccination rate and pitched the service as a way to “embrace our new normal,” but the app’s launch at a time when COVID-19 cases have declined dramatically and life is edging back to normal has some experts scratching their heads.

Ramesh Raskar — a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and founder of the PathCheck Foundation, a nonprofit that helps develop digital contact-tracing apps — said MassNotify has come online “definitely too late.”

“I think everybody is disappointed that it took so long,” Raskar said. He believes both lives and hospitalizations could have been saved if it were rolled out sooner. “This was a no-brainer to launch an app that other states had already launched,” Raskar added. 

PathCheck has worked with other states — including Alabama, Hawaii, Louisiana and Minnesota — to launch their apps. It offered its services to Massachusetts but was not chosen, Raskar said. “We may have saved hundreds of lives and many hospitalizations if the app was launched during the winter spike before vaccines were available,” he added.

Kate Reilly, spokeswoman for the state’s COVID-19 Command Center, said that Massachusetts spent several months studying the technology, including multiple pilot programs, to ensure its efficiency and safety. It has now proven to be “safe, effective, and secure,” she said.

MassNotify, a free service developed in conjunction with Apple and Google, works anonymously and “does not track” users or divulge their information, the state said Tuesday in its announcement.

[Nothing is anonymous anymore]

Whenever individuals who have opted in to the service are near each other, their phones exchange random codes via Bluetooth. If an individual tests positive for COVID-19, they’ll receive a text with instructions on how to anonymously share their result. That will notify the other individuals whose phones were recently near theirs of possible exposure to COVID-19.

The more who opt in, the better the service works.

[It will ultimately be compulsory, no doubt, and that is when I throw the phone away]

Sarah Kreps, director of the Cornell Tech Policy Lab, which studies the politics of emerging technologies, called the launch of MassNotify at this stage in the pandemic “somewhat baffling.”

“It seems to show a lack of understanding about public behavior with respect to these apps, which is that people are more likely to use them if they think that this pandemic is still going on,” Kreps said.

[Uh-huh! That's why we are being propagated with fearful variants]

Jeffrey Kahn, director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, said exposure-notification apps could still benefit individuals who are vaccinated, like himself.

[Why would he even be worried?]

Dr. Philip Landrigan, director of the Global Public Health Program at Boston College, said the consensus is that exposure-notification apps are only somewhat beneficial to public health.

“They make some difference around the edges,” Landrigan said. “It’s not going to make a huge difference, but it’s one of these situations where every little bit helps.”

Landrigan said it would have been preferable if Massachusetts had implemented the app sooner, but that it probably would not have had a significant effect.

Ryan Calo, codirector of the University of Washington’s Tech Policy Lab, said Massachusetts should continue to focus its efforts on vaccinations, not exposure notification.

“Vaccinated people don’t generally contract or spread COVID, making an app superfluous,” he said. “Meanwhile, it seems implausible that people who won’t get vaccinated will somehow use an app provided by the government, let alone upload their health status to it.”

“Worse still, some people may decide that the app furnishes a substitute for vaccination to keep them safe — which would be deeply misguided,” he added.....

That's how they will find you at home:

"As state approaches vaccination goal, it must ‘pull out all the stops’ amid Delta variant threat" by John Hilliard Globe Staff, June 20, 2021

As the state moved very close to achieving Governor Charlie Baker’s goal of fully vaccinating 4.1 million residents, a local epidemiologist on Sunday urged the state to step up inoculations, warning that a more contagious variant could become the country’s dominant COVID-19 strain this summer.

Samuel Scarpino, a Northeastern University epidemiologist, warned Sunday that the state’s goal is not enough to fend off the threat posed by the Delta variant, a strain identified in India last year. “We need to pull out all the stops this summer and aim for at least 80 percent coverage of the entire state,” Scarpino said in an e-mail, after local and national health officials issued recent warnings of the new potential coronavirus threat.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the head of the US Centers for Disease Control, and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, cautioned in recent days that officials believe the Delta variant could soon become the most dominant strain in the United States, and with the goal so close, the governor himself said on Tuesday that he would want more vaccinations after crossing that line.

Scarpino said if the Delta variant threat is realized, Baker’s vaccination goal is not enough to prevent surges in under-vaccinated populations, or in schools where children are too young to be vaccinated.

Any community with vaccination rates much below 75 percent to 80 percent will be at risk from the Delta variant, he said.

Given that existing vaccines are safe and highly effective, he said, “any future surges will be unnecessary tragedies.”

Dr. Andrew Karson, the chief medical officer at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, praised the state’s progress, but said in a phone interview the vaccination work must continue as COVID-19 remains a “major risk.”

“While it’s a time to celebrate a milestone that helps protect us, there is still a lot more protection we need,” Karson said, noting the threats of Delta and other variants. “We have to keep working hard... fighting this disease. This is nowhere near over. We have to reassure people who are skeptical of [COVID-19] vaccine, we have to overcome misinformation,” Karson said, “and that’s going to take more than just a van showing up, or local clinics having it.”

That work requires the support of trusted people within communities to encourage vaccinations, according to Karson. 

“It’s almost going to be, ‘group by group, person to person,’ work now,” he said.

[House to house combat!]

About 50 miles west of Worcester, in Springfield, residents gathered Sunday for a Father’s Day cookout in the city’s Adams Park. Music was playing, children ran around the playground — and people could also get tested for COVID-19, according to Gwendolyn Smith, president of the city’s Bay Area Neighborhood Council.

Smith is a local vaccine ambassador and has walked the city knocking on doors to encourage people to get the shots. “We need everyone to be COVID-free in Massachusetts,” Smith said.

State Representative Bud Williams, a Springfield Democrat who was also at the event, said he expected the work to encourage vaccinations was going to be a “one-on-one” effort. That means lots of small vaccination sites, volunteers going out to peoples’ homes, and labor-intensive outreach in communities.....

[Get the fuck off my porch and property!]

They will use food as a weapon:

Must be a $hithole, and they also talked to Zach Goldhammer, 29, works at the Cambridge Community Center.

If the power goes out the fungus will begin to grow:

"In three weeks, the number of cases of the disease — known by the misnomer “black fungus,” because it is found on dead tissue — shot up to more than 30,000 from negligible levels. States have recorded more than 2,100 deaths, according to news reports. The federal health ministry in New Delhi, which is tracking nationwide cases to allot scarce and expensive antifungal medicine, has not released a fatalities figure. The coronavirus pandemic has drawn stark lines between rich nations and poor, and the mucormycosis epidemic in India stands as the latest manifestation. During the second wave, which struck India in April, its creaky, underfunded medical system lacked beds, oxygen and other necessities as infections and deaths soared. The mucormycosis epidemic adds even more urgency to the difficult task of protecting India’s 1.4 billion people. Only a small fraction have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, and they remain vulnerable to a third wave and the consequences that could follow. “Mucormycosis will tail off and go back to baseline as the COVID cases subside,” said Dr. Dileep Mavalankar, an epidemiologist, “but it may come back in the third wave unless we find out why it is happening.” Many doctors in India think they know why. The bone-and-tissue-eating fungus can attack the gastrointestinal tract, the lungs, the skin and the sinuses, where it often spreads to the eye socket and the brain if left untreated. Mucormycosis is not passed from person to person. It develops from commonplace spores that sometimes build up in homes and hospitals. Doctors believe India’s crowded hospitals, and their dire lack of medical oxygen, left the fungus an opening....."

The pandemic has precipitated an epidemic,” he said with his last breath, and it's here, it's here:

"The transmission of the more contagious Delta variant in the United States could spur a fall surge in coronavirus infections if only 75% of the country’s eligible population is vaccinated, former Food and Drug Administration chief Scott Gottlieb said Sunday. While Gottlieb cited one projection forecasting an increase in infections reaching as high as 20% of last winter's peak, he called that an "aggressive estimate," saying he doesn't "think it'll be quite that dire," but he said states with low vaccination rates are already showing a concerning rise in cases with the spreading of Delta, which is up to 60% more contagious than earlier variants. "So Connecticut, for example, where I am, shows no upsurge of infection, but Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri show very substantial upsurges of infections. That's based entirely on how much population-wide immunity you have based on vaccination," Gottlieb said on CBS's Face the Nation program. He urged a renewed vaccination push closer to the fall, as people prepare to return to school and work, when he said they may be more open to the shots....." 

The print thankfully ended there, and the sight of him made my stomach turn.

What a $elf-$erving $cumbag!

"Now that tens of millions of Americans are vaccinated against the coronavirus, many are wondering: Do I have enough antibodies to keep me safe? For a vast majority of people, the answer is yes. That hasn’t stopped hordes from stampeding to the local doc-in-a-box for antibody testing, but to get a reliable answer from testing, vaccinated people have to get a specific kind of test, and at the right time. Scientists would prefer that the average vaccinated person not get antibody testing at all, on the grounds that it’s unnecessary. In clinical trials, the vaccines authorized in the United States provoked a strong antibody response in virtually all of the participants. “Most people shouldn’t even be worrying about this,” said Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale University, but antibody tests can be crucial for people with weak immune systems or those who take certain medications — a broad category encompassing millions of people who are recipients of organ donations, have certain blood cancers, or who take steroids or other drugs that suppress the immune system. Mounting evidence suggests that a significant proportion of these people do not produce a sufficient antibody response after vaccination. If you must get tested, or just want to, it’s essential to get the right kind of test, Dr. Iwasaki said. Rapid tests that are commonly available deliver a yes-no result and may miss low levels of antibodies. A certain type of lab test, called an Elisa test, may offer a semi-quantitative estimate of antibodies to the spike protein....."


Time to knot this thing up:

With ridership down because of COVID-19, the agency needs to make dramatic moves to lure back customers.

Virtually everyone agrees that Boston’s “Methadone Mile” is an eyesore at best and a serious threat to public health and safety at worst.

There has been an awful lot of drownings already this year, and I can't help but wonder if it is increased focus on the part of the pre$$, or are sacrifices being sunken and covered up?