Saturday, December 31, 2022

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your year-end reading.

- Allison Maher et al. study how COVID-19 causes fundamental changes to a person's immune system, resulting in far greater vulnerability to other infections. Spencer Kimball reports on the rapid spread of the XBB.1.5 COVID-19 variant - which appears to be rendering previous types of immunity significantly less effective.  And Volker Gerdts, Baljit Singh and Loleen Berdahl write about the need to start planning immediately for future pandemics - including by incorporating knowledge from the social sciences into communications about public health issues. 

- Mitchell Thompson discusses how Doug Ford has chosen to lead Ontario's health care system into a crisis. And Linda McQuaig offers a reminder that the destruction of a universal, publicly-funded system is part of the right's plan to turn people's health into a corporate profit centre.

- David Macdonald warns that the CRA's heavy-handed approach to demanding repayments from low-income CERB recipients may cast a pall over any future social benefits. And John Loeppky discusses the need to ensure people with disabilities have secure access to housing - even as the policy response seems to range from dodging responsibility to outright hostility.

- Tony Barboza writes that it's essential to talk to kids about climate change - even if the continued accumulation of avoidable damage to our living environment is scary enough even for adults. Cameron Wood writes that Saskatchewan's grasslands are among the ecosystems in the most danger due to environmental neglect. And CBC News reports on the benefits Alberta is seeing from a shift to solar power generation. 

- Finally, Eric Blair writes about the need to find alternatives to billionaire-dominated communication platforms.

Friday, December 30, 2022

Musical interlude

Stoto - Her

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Teresa Wright sets out the wish list of ER doctors who have been dealing with avoidable COVID waves for years. Tiffany Hsu discusses the dangers of COVID-19 misinformation both in the course of the ongoing pandemic, and in its spillover effects as to public perception of vaccines and public health generally. And Bonnie Petrie examines the spin about "immunity debt" in contrast to the apparent reality of immunity lost to COVID infections. 

- Grant LaFleche examines the alt-right's systematic fabrication of claims of "grooming" as an excuse to promote bigotry. Umair Haque points out how widespread downward mobility is laying the groundwork for conservative con artists, while Juliana Kaplan and Jason Lalljee recognize that most workers are facing real pay cuts as a result of profit-driven inflation. 

- Elizabeth Wiese points out the lies being used by the fossil fuel sector and its fully-owned political subsidiaries to delay any action to reduce carbon pollution. But Leah Stokes offers reason for optimism that 2022 was the beginning of an energy transition, while Rebecca Leber discusses what the U.S. can do to accelerate that process. 

- Finally, Robert Reich implores us to stay hopeful and keeping toward a more just world even in the face of the powers lined up against it. 

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Tom Frieden offers a primer on what we know about long COVID - and what we should be doing to avoid it. And Eric Topol interviews Linsey Marr about the importance of clean air to alleviate the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. 

- Robert Booth and Pamela Duncan report that the increased privatization of care homes in England have resulted in nearly a third falling short of basic standards of hygiene and care for dementia patients. 

- David Sirota and Andrew Perez point out that the airline mess in the U.S. was fully anticipated in advance of the holiday season - and that Southwest Airlines in particular proceeded with a massive dividend payment rather than putting a nickel toward keeping its operations functional. And Adam Johnson discusses how the nightmare for air travelers reflects the broader work by giant corporations to ensure people aren't able to raise their problems with anybody other than powerless frontline workers:

We are conditioned to get mad at the human face we see before us, the “representative” of the company who personally profits nothing from our purchase. We are conditioned to get mad at the waiter when our food is late (and penalize this “bad service” with a bad tip) when the vast majority of the time it’s due to understaffing by a cheapskate boss. We are conditioned to get upset with the enforcer of arbitrary rules at a hotel checkout, despite it not being their rule at all. We are conditioned to be hostile to the very people we should have the most solidarity with. 


Those who actually make the decisions remain protected like mob bosses, gently nestled between layers of middle management, lawyers, and marketing reps, impossible to reach by design. They have addresses and homes and phone numbers, you just don’t have access to them. And if you did, this would be stalking, and you’d likely get a visit from a police officer. Meanwhile they have all your information, and can hound you with credit agencies and just randomly steal your money. To the extent they face consequences, it’s a pointless fine that’s factored into their cost-benefit calculations at the beginning of the year... 


(B)y design, the only humans we interface with are those who, by definition, are the lowest on the ladder, the least paid, and least protected: The cashier, the ticket agent, the flight attendant, the poor call center punching bag. So people yell at them, because there is no one else. They hate you back, and worker solidarity further erodes. We all grow more atomized, angry, powerless, and bitter. And the system works as intended.

- Agence France-Presse discusses the connections between the climate breakdown and increasingly severe winter storms.

- Finally, Craig Silverman and Ruth Talbot expose some of Google's ad network - including its complicity in fraud and disinformation by protecting the identities of bad actors using it for their antisocial ends. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Wednesday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Zaina Hamza discusses new research showing how COVID-19 fatalities hit younger people and caused more loss of expected years of life in the second year of the pandemic than the first. Kenyon Wallace discusses why 2022 was the deadliest year of the pandemic yet in Canada, while Carrie Tait reports on the tripling of the number of Canadians hospitalized with COVID since this time last year. Erin Prater writes about the recognition that a COVID infection may allow dormant viruses to reactivate in one's body. And David Climenhaga comments on Danielle Smith's determination to ensure nothing is done to limit the spread of respiratory diseases on her watch, while David Parsley reports on John Drury's observation that the UK Cons are failing to protect people from long COVID. 

- Meanwhile, the Good Law Project exposes what the UK Cons have been more interested in: funneling billions of pounds of public money to a few well-connected VIPs. 

- Amy Westervelt discusses how the the documents released as a result of the U.S. House's investigation into climate disinformation show a fossil fuel sector determined to stay in a polluting past and prevent anybody from progressing past it. And Adam Aron writes about the importance of local climate organizing to overcome the industry's obstruction. 

- Meanwhile, David Berman points out the massive special dividends doled out by corporate conglomerates who claim not to have profiteered off of price increases. 

- Thomas Zimmer discusses the threat Elon Musk and other alt-right tech bros pose to any open discussion on the platforms they control. And Gal Beckerman examines contemporary accounts from the 1930s to discuss what the descent into fascism feels like in real time. 

- Finally, Ted Rutland exposes how the Trudeau Libs conspired with the RCMP and other law enforcement interests to carry out push polling and manufacture opposition to defunding the police. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Cuddly cats.

Tuesday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Helen Branswell examines what experts were and weren't able to anticipate about the COVID-19 pandemic - with the voluntary panic-neglect cycle looking to be one of the most damaging lasting impacts. And Andre Picard discusses what we have and haven't learned from this year's multiple viral outbreaks.

- John Stapleton, Sid Frankel and Leila Sarangi point out that Canada briefly met its stated goal of substantially reducing poverty through pandemic supports - only to snap back to a default setting of accepting systematic deprivation. And Lynn Ward writes about the importance of keeping remote options to ensure people with disabilities and preexisting health conditions aren't excluded from participating in work and public life.  

- Robert Reich discusses how the growing concentration of wealth is the result of the extraction of value in zero-sum interactions, not the generation of anything useful or valuable for the general public. And Alvin Chang highlights how even a nominally level playing field would tend toward extreme inequality over time.

- Dylan Sullivan and Jason Hickel find that tens of millions of people have died of avoidable malnutrition over the past 50 years. And Clare Carlile exposes how big agriculture is likewise lobbying to avoid any transition to sustainable farming.

- Finally, Olayemi Olurin discusses how mass incarceration is utterly useless for keeping people safe, but instead serves mostly to preserve inequality.

Monday, December 26, 2022

Migration in progress

After using Twitter as my main political social media outlet for years, I've joined the many in the process of shifting to Mastodon. You'll find a link to my account in the right sidebar - and hopefully the new year will see the continued development of communities which better serve users rather than the whims of tycoons.

Monday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your Boxing Day reading.

- Robert Reich discusses the dangers of relying on - and indeed building a political and economic system to favour - the social costs of extreme greed. And the Canadian Press reports on the Trudeau Libs' plan to take foreign aid even further in that direction, prioritizing funding for privatized infrastructure projects over humanitarian resources.

- Meanwhile, Peter Zimonjic, Tyler Buist and Arielle Piat-Sauve report on Justin Trudeau's refusal to consider windfall taxes on the corporations profiteering at the expense of Canadians - even as Portugal joins the numerous countries showing it can be done.

- Benjamin Mateus writes about new research showing that COVID-19 was the leading cause of death worldwide in 2021. And Emily Putman reports on the expert recognition that an ongoing pandemic and other infectious diseases highlight the value of a true national pharmacare program, while Yvette Brend points out the need to ensure (sorely-needed) funding for health care is put toward preventative measures.  

- Michael Janz writes about the value of dedicated bike lanes to ensure healthier communities for cyclists and drivers alike. And Carlton Reid reports on the revelation that electric car batteries are generally lasting longer than anticipated, meaning there's less need for churn and reprocessing than once expected. 

- Don Lee discusses how work from home has allowed for an increase in workforce participation by people with disabilities - at least until arbitrary rules about office work are reinstated.

- Finally, Catherynne Valente writes about the longstanding pattern of corporatized sites and apps trying to push people to buy things and/or hurt each other - as well as the potential for a return to online relationships better focused on sharing meaningful information.