Buy me a Coffee! If you find this post or this site interesting, and would like to see more, buy me a coffee. While I may actually buy coffee, I’ll probably buy books to review.
You should read this for 2/13/2021:
Art, Music, and Film
“You wrote that Susan Collins is, quote, ‘the worst.’ That Tom Cotton is a fraud. That vampires have more heart than Ted Cruz. You called leader McConnell ‘Moscow Mitch’ and ‘Voldemort,’” complained Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. “How do you plan to mend fences and build relationships with members of Congress you have attacked through your public statements?”
Neera Tanden has a point, thought personally, I’d argue that Mitch McConnell maps really well as Sauron, with Lindsey Graham as Saruman the White Wizard, and Ted Cruz as Grima Wormtongue.
US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden share a light moment with reporters, including an exchange with Al Jazeera English White House correspondent @KimberlyHalkett. It ended with Biden offering her his coffee.
Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language
Coronavirus | COVID-19
Case in point: the media coverage and public reception of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine. Results from its trials were released last week. According to the company, it should be able to deliver 100 million doses in the first half of this year. But this good news hasn’t been greeted with the enthusiasm that accompanied announcements about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Perhaps that’s because in its clinical trial, the J&J vaccine had an efficacy number — the percentage of cases prevented entirely — of 66 percent. Compared against the 95 percent efficacy rate for the Pfizer vaccine and the 94.1 rate for Moderna’s, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine simply doesn’t look as good.
But in another sense, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine trial results were incredibly encouraging. The same trial showed that J&J’s vaccine makes Covid-19 cases much milder, meaning you might still get sick but you are much less likely to be hospitalized or die. Indeed, on that front, the J&J vaccine performs just as well as Pfizer’s and Moderna’s, a fact that seems to have been undersold in news coverage about it.
To put J&J’s effectiveness in another context, think about the flu. Flu vaccines mostly don’t prevent you from getting sick with the flu but instead make the flu much less awful if you catch it and less fatal for at-risk populations. A Covid-19 vaccine that was similar to that — one that made you much less likely to be hospitalized or die, and made the disease milder — would still be enough to help bring the pandemic to an end and give us back our lives.
The books have the same publisher. They credit the same authors. But they are customized for students in different states, and their contents sometimes diverge in ways that reflect the nation’s deepest partisan divides.
Hundreds of differences — some subtle, others extensive — emerged in a New York Times analysis of eight commonly used American history textbooks in California and Texas, two of the nation’s largest markets.
Food and Drink
H/T Ari: Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
<H/T Kristine Smith—I haven’t yet tried one of the microwave cakes in a mug yet but Kristine Smith’s modifications and link to this recipe: a href=”https://cafedelites.com/low-fat-chocolate-mug-cake-recipe/”>Low fat chocolate Mug Cake have me seriously contemplating trying it.
Best Chocolate Brownies The recipe calls for almond extract; an interesting twist. It’s worth making sure that you’re using actual almond extract, and not an artificial substitute.
History and Archaeology
European-crafted glass beads found at three different indigenous sites in northern Alaska date back to the pre-colonial period of North America, in what is an intriguing archaeological discovery.
Somehow, these blueberry-sized beads made their way from what is now Venice, Italy, to the Brooks Range mountains of Alaska at some point during the mid-to-late 15th century, according to new research published in American Antiquity.
The authors of the paper, archaeologists Michael Kunz from the University of Alaska Museum of the North and Robin Mills from the Bureau of Land Management, suspect the beads were trade goods that, after passing through China’s Silk Road, eventually made their way through Siberia and eventually into Alaska via the Bering Strait.
The linked article has pictures.
A 17,000-year-old conch shell that lay forgotten for more than 80 years in a museum collection has been discovered to be the oldest known wind instrument of its type, after researchers found it had been modified by its prehistoric owners to be played like a horn.
First unearthed in a richly decorated cave in the Pyrenees in 1931, the large shell was initially overlooked by archaeologists, who assumed it was a communal “loving cup” used by the Palaeolithic people whose wall art adorns the space.
. . . modern scientific techniques have now shown that this is not an artifact of relatively recent revelry, but rather one of just two known nearly complete Viking helmets in the world, and the only one to have been found in Britain.
Politics and Society
Despite her outward signs of success, Ryan had struggled financially for years. She was still paying off a $37,000 lien for unpaid federal taxes when she was arrested. She’d nearly lost her home to foreclosure before that. She filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and faced another IRS tax lien in 2010.
Nearly 60 percent of the people facing charges related to the Capitol riot showed signs of prior money troubles, including bankruptcies, notices of eviction or foreclosure, bad debts, or unpaid taxes over the past two decades, according to a Washington Post analysis of public records for 125 defendants with sufficient information to detail their financial histories.
Science and Nature
David Barnard via Daring Fireball: Gaming The App Store
So, let’s talk about how developers are gaming the App Store and why it matters to the future of the platform. Any one of these tactics might seem somewhat bland individually, but when tens of thousands of apps deploy multiple tactics across many categories of apps, the impact can be measured in hundreds of millions of users and likely billions of dollars.
The facial recognition app Clearview AI is not welcome in Canada and the company that developed it should delete Canadians’ faces from its database, the country’s privacy commissioner said on Wednesday.
“What Clearview does is mass surveillance, and it is illegal,” Commissioner Daniel Therrien said at a news conference. He forcefully denounced the company as putting all of society “continually in a police lineup.”
SetApp: A Suite of macOS Apps for a Single Price Affiliate link for a great collection of 75+ apps for a single price.
In an interview with Atlas Obscura’s Giaimo, Agelarakis states that the team’s research represents a “tiny bit in a bigger puzzle.” He concludes, “It signifies that women … held craft specialization roles in antiquity, which I think is very important.”
💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰
A constitutional law professor whose work is cited extensively by former President Donald Trump’s lawyers in their impeachment defense brief says his work has been seriously misrepresented.
In a 78-page brief filed in the U.S. Senate on Monday, Trump’s lawyers rely heavily on the work of Michigan State University law professor Brian Kalt, author of the seminal article about impeachment of a former president. His work is cited 15 times in the Trump brief, often for the proposition that the Senate does not have the authority under the Constitution to try an impeached former president.
The problem is that Kalt’s 2001 book-length law review article concluded that, on balance, the historical evidence is against Trump’s legal argument.
“The worst part is the three places where they said I said something, when, in fact, I said the opposite,” Kalt said in an interview with NPR.
The Justice Department is now making clear that a leader among the Oath Keepers paramilitary group — who planned and led others in the US Capitol siege to attempt to stop the Biden presidency — believed she was responding to the call from then-President Donald Trump himself.
“As the inauguration grew nearer, [Jessica] Watkins indicated that she was awaiting direction from President Trump,” prosecutors wrote in a filing Thursday morning.
Donald Trump’s last, desperate hope for clinging to the presidency on Jan. 6 was that the lawyers telling him that Mike Pence could simply reject the electoral votes submitted by the states were correct and that Pence, his ceaselessly loyal vice president for the previous four years, would do just that. As with so many other elements of Trump’s post-election plans, things got murky quickly after that, but, like a guy trying to cross a rickety bridge, the then-president was taking things one step at a time.
Trump’s two-part plan had two flaws: Trump’s attorneys were obviously wrong about Pence’s power, and Pence wasn’t inclined to violate his constitutional duty on the off chance that history wouldn’t regard him as a central figure in the collapse of democracy. So Pence announced that he would do what he had to: preside over the counting of electoral votes and, in so doing, finalize his ouster from the vice presidency.
Mounting evidence emerging as former president Donald Trump’s impeachment trial unfolds in the Senate this week indicates Trump may have been personally informed that Vice President Mike Pence was in physical danger during the Jan. 6 Capitol siege, just moments before denigrating him on Twitter.
Trump’s decision to tweet that Pence lacked “courage” — a missive sent shortly after the vice president had been rushed off the Senate floor — underscores how he delayed taking action to stop his supporters as they ransacked the Capitol. . . . Trump’s tweet came at 2:24 p.m. that day — only 11 minutes after live television coverage showed Pence being hustled from the Senate floor because rioters were streaming into the building one floor below. The Senate then abruptly went into recess.
Prosecutors allege Caldwell used his military and law enforcement background to plan violence — including possible snipers and weapons stashed on a boat along the Potomac River — weeks ahead of the Capitol insurrection. Caldwell, of Berryville, Va., is charged on counts of conspiracy, obstructing an official proceeding, trespassing, destruction of government property, and aiding and abetting. . . . “Next time (and there WILL be a next time) we will have learned and we will be stronger,” he messaged others afterward, according to the court documents. “I think there will be real violence for all of us next time. . . . I am already working on the next D.C. op.”
The newly revealed details of the call, described to CNN by multiple Republicans briefed on it, provide critical insight into the President’s state of mind as rioters were overrunning the Capitol. The existence of the call and some of its details have been previously reported and discussed publicly by McCarthy.
The Republican members of Congress said the exchange showed Trump had no intention of calling off the rioters even as lawmakers were pleading with him to intervene. Several said it amounted to a dereliction of his presidential duty.
Pay It Forward and Make It Better
And then, in what would be a deeply meaningful moment of affirmation of my own queer and Jewish identity, she casually mentioned that Fredy was gay. “It was an open thing, we all knew that he was gay…. We didn’t make anything out of it at that time. He was just one of us.”
Her tone was so nonchalant it was hard to believe her words had been recorded almost two decades earlier, in 1998. And it made me very emotional. It was the first time in my life I’d heard a Holocaust survivor referring to the existence of an LGBTQ prisoner.
BaronFig: $10.00 off on quality notebooks and writing instruments. BaronFig makes super notebooks and planners in several sizes and colors, with dot grid, blank, or lined paper. The BaronFig Squire pen is magnificent.
H/T Lisa Carnell: Radio Garden The green dots on this map of the world represent radio stations; clock on on one to hear that station.
Buy me a Coffee! If you find this site interesting, and would like to see more, buy me a coffee. While I may actually buy coffee, I’ll probably buy books to review.