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  1. I think the issue is more that several states (Texas for one) allow anyone 65 or older to vote by mail; i.e. they can submit an absentee ballot without actually being out of state. This means that older demographic, which leans Republican by some margin, can already vote by mail. By forcing everyone else to actually go to the polls in a pandemic, they hope lots of people won't take the risk. Democrats are stronger in the younger age groups so this tactic gives Republicans an advantage. If they can also do things like reduce polling stations so you have to stand in line for hours, that will tilt the field even more towards older voters who can mail in their ballots. Don
  2. Here is an interesting opinion piece in Scientific American. The author has been an ER and critical care physician for 7 years, and is also a professor in the Harvard medical school. He noticed that, despite the CDC's reports of annual flu deaths being between 25,000 and 60,000+, he could recall only one patient death due to the flu. He contacted a number of colleagues who also work in emergency medicine, and uniformly they recalled none or very few patients who died of the flu. This contrasts with CDC reports of deaths from car accidents or gunshot injuries or opioid overdoses, which the CDC reports in the same ballpark as the flu, ~30-40,000 deaths/year. All the ER doctors see patients die of these causes all the time. Something seems "off" about the flu numbers. In actuality, the CDC flu numbers are a statistical estimate with many assumptions about the numbers of people who die without being tested, and limitations in data reporting as the flu is not a reportable disease, except for pediatric cases. The number of cases in which a patient has a positive diagnostic test (which is the standard the CDC applies to COVID-19 deaths) varied over the last 7 flu seasons from ~3,500 to ~15,000. He compared the number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the 2nd week of April to the number confirmed flu deaths in each of the last 7 flu seasons. By that measure, COVID-19 is between 9.5 and 44 fold more deadly than the flu. Arguments that COVID-19 is just like the flu based on CDC number are highly misleading, because they involve comparing test-confirmed COVID-19 deaths (a large underestimate, because of very limited access to testing) to an inflated statistical estimate of flu deaths. In fact, the fine print on the CDC website indicates that the flu numbers assume that a very large fraction of pneumonia deaths are due to the flu, despite that fact that several different diseases can result in pneumonia. Why would the CDC inflate flu deaths? One suggestion is that higher numbers are more effective at encouraging people to get the flu vaccine, which unquestionably reduce the impact of the flu. From a public health perspective this is a good thing. And, of course, the statistical model may not be far off. Certainly many or most flu deaths are not diagnosed by lab tests, so the "real" number cannot be known, only estimated. However the same is true of COVID-19. Especially earlier in the pandemic, until quite recently, access to tests were so limited that most hospital patients were not tested, especially if they died before being tested, and many thousands of people who died at home or in nursing homes were never tested. At the end of the day, comparing lab-confirmed COVID-19 deaths to the high end of a statistical estimate of possible flu deaths is a highly misleading and ultimately deadly basis for decisions about risk from COVID-19, including when to abandon social distancing guidelines. Don
  3. I think that is also true, but they are not mutually exclusive propositions. The Republican Party is very adept at getting people to pay to support positions that are ultimately not in their own best interest, by re-labeling those positions as "freedom" or opposing positions as "socialism/communism". It's amazing to me that people are (as just one example, many others could be given) willing to accept filthy air and water (as per airdvr's anti-EPA comment earlier) rather than be subjugated to the so-called "nanny state". As if any one individual, no matter how determined they may be to "take care of themselves", can ensure themselves of a healthy environment if it is the financial interests of industry and other players to dump their waste into the air/water/ground. Don Drag files here to attach, or choose files...
  4. I suspect that, behind the facade of "caring" for the "pre-born", the real reason for Republican devotion to the "pro-life" mantra is a desire to use pregnancy as a means to exert control over women who dare to challenge their perception of the "right" (as in "correct") way to live. Don
  5. Apparently the Red Cross will soon be providing an antibody test, so people who can provide convalescent plasma can be identified. Once that is up and running you will be able to get an antibody test by donating blood or plasma. Don
  6. Excellent news. Don
  7. The estimated death rate of ~ 2% is certainly an overestimate, as it only counts deaths among people who were sick enough to seek medical help and tested positive for COVID-19. Certainly many infected people are asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms. On the other hand, it seems such people may still be infectious. There is no practical way to detect and quarantine such asymptomatic people, so they slip though any effort at isolating the virus. Already we are seeing a few cases in the US of diagnosed patients who have no travel history or history of contact with known patients. The possibility of becoming infected by handling products shipped from China has been discounted, so those new cases must have been exposed in some way to an asymptomatic carrier. There is no way to prevent the virus from coming to the US, though it might be possible to slow things down a bit. The precautions Bill mentions are very reasonable. Unfortunately the US health care system is not well prepared for this situation in some ways. We are told to see a doctor and stay home from work if we get sick. The US has a much larger proportion of the population that is uninsured, and who work at jobs without paid sick leave. Missing work can have serious financial implications, ranging from big medical bills and lost pay to losing your job. Often people in this situation do go to work until they get so sick they can't. Also they will send their kids (who have been exposed to whatever illness is involved) to day care, opening another avenue to spread the virus. If we had universal health care and universal paid sick leave the situation could be much better. Don
  8. The story seems outrageous, but then again Fox has been known to slant their coverage more than a little. No doubt there was more to the story than what Fox chose to tell. Anyway, if this case makes it OK to solicit murder, then surely the non-prosecution of Trump even after he bragged on camera about assaulting women makes that behavior legal for everybody? Don
  9. It is consistent with the new Republican Party platform though. That platform being, Trump is King, and whatever is in Trump's personal interest is by definition in the national interest. On the other hand, any criticism of Trump, or any disagreement with his brain-dead policies, is by definition unpatriotic and even treasonous. I recall the days when the Republican party at least pretended to have principles and policies. That party is dead if not buried. Now it is a personality cult. I'm quite certain that Trump could walk into Congress, shoot Schiff and Pelosi in the head in front of all the members of the House and Senate, and not one Republican would speak a word of criticism. Don
  10. Hopefully not. MAGA (My Ass Got Arrested) Don
  11. According to a recent poll, 53% of Republicans think Cadet Bone Spurs is a better President than Abraham Lincoln. Don
  12. Wouldn't that make the donkey a stable genius? Wow, the similarities with Trump are amazing. Surely that can't be just a coincidence. Don
  13. The first point is true, but the story is more complicated than that. Whether to have a large or a small family can be a deliberate economic choice, and either can be optimal depending on circumstances. In underdeveloped economies it may make sense to have a lot of children, especially if you make a living by farming but also under other circumstances. Children are relatively inexpensive if you have little expectation that you will have to pay for education, sports or other optional activities, fancy "toys" (computers, the latest cell phones), etc. On the other hand, children can provide much of the labor of planting/weeding/harvesting. Having multiple children in this role provides some assurance that this work will get done even if you (the parent) are incapacitated with malaria or some other disease. When you get to be too old to work, you will dependent on your kids to take care of you. Remember that in these economies there is no such thing as pensions, social security, or basically any government support. Some of your kids will die in childhood or along the way, and most will end up barely scraping by. If you have several kids, odds are better that one or two will do well enough to care for you, or at least keep you from starving. Note that this model also applied to much of the US until just a few generations ago. In developed economies, we don't depend on our kids to work the farm (or other business) in the same way. We are expected to put money aside (voluntarily through pensions/investments, or involuntarily through social security or equivalents) to care for ourselves. It seems selfish to say "I don't need to put money away, my kids will look after me." Kids are, in our society, very expensive. There are expectations that we will provide clothing, medical and dental care, education up through college/university if we can, extracurricular activities, and so on. My brother has a 12 year old son who is in a traveling hockey team (so quite advanced/competitive) . He spends $20-30,000 a year on fees, equipment, rink rental, coaches, and travel. Even "simple" things like transportation is impacted by family size. How do you get a family of 12 anywhere? Own a bus? In developed economies, kids (despite their many positive attributes) are a net large economic liability. Even if you want a large family, you might not be able to afford that, or you may have to make painful tradeoffs. Of course, education of women is also important. Educated women can make choices and exert some control over their lives (as much as any of us can I suppose). Educated women may contribute to the economic success of the family, and reduce the dependence on kids. Of course, they can support themselves and so are not dependent on being in a family to survive. Generally, women's access to education goes along with economic development, so it can be hard to disentangle the role of education from other aspects of economic development that tend to drive the transition from kids as investments to kids as economic consumers. Don
  14. Like it or not, coal is not coming back. Former coal miners would be well advised to train for a different career, rather than put their trust in a bloviating orange mango con artist who will say anything to get you to buy the kool-aid. Clinton lost because Republicans have been making baseless accusations against her ever since she dared to step out of line and declare that she wasn't going to stay in the kitchen and bake cookies. It didn't help her cause that she decided to stay with Bill. I live in the buckle of the bible belt, where 90% of the people I know are hard core Baptists, and I swear half of them are on their third or fourth marriage and have no clue about forgiveness or commitment. They may not say it out loud, but given the view of the Baptist church on the role of women, I have no doubt that they are offended by an uppity educated woman daring to aspire to any sort of leadership position. Just look at the elected Republican officials from the South: white white white and male male male. Don
  15. It says a lot that Trump makes us wish for the "good old days" of the George W. Bush administration. Don