No doorways, no windows, no walls
No shelter here on the ground
No standing and no safe place to fall
Just the promise of this distant sound
Bells are ringing all over the world

Monday, December 6, 2021

Linkee-poo Monday Dec 6

Bob Dole, and so it goes.

"(Laser Communications Relay Demonstration) will help NASA learn about possible effects to manage, ranging from atmospheric turbulence to cloud deflection, Mitchell noted. The timing is crucial as NASA and its international partners expand its exploration focus over the coming decades… Newly announced private space stations will only expand the need for fast information flowing to and from Earth. Meanwhile, astronauts on the moon and a sample return mission on Mars could benefit from faster communications speeds 10 to 100 times faster than current-day radio." Note that it's not really communications speed, but bandwidth.

"Across the U.S., the weather is simply weird: The highest peaks of Hawaii spent the weekend under a blizzard warning, while record rainfall drenched the Pacific Northwest, unseasonably warm temperatures stretched across the Midwest and South, and a major snow drought in the Rockies means Denver has still not seen its first snowfall of the season."

"More than 20 people in at least 12 U.S. states have tested positive for the omicron variant of the virus that causes Covid-19. The patients range in age, vaccination status and travel history, but none of them have developed severe disease so far… While some patients had recently traveled in southern Africa, where the variant was first detected, others had no travel history, indicating that community transmission is underway in the U.S." Again, South Africa (like Wuhan) is just where it was identified.

"Since May 2021, people living in counties that voted heavily for Donald Trump during the last presidential election have been nearly three times as likely to die from COVID-19 as those who live in areas that went for now-President Biden. That's according to a new analysis by NPR that examines how political polarization and misinformation are driving a significant share of the deaths in the pandemic." Who made this disease a political football and litmus test?

"In other words, don't panic, but do be thoughtful about what risks you want to take… We spoke to several infectious disease experts for advice on living in the age of omicron. But remember: Things are changing quickly, so stay alert. Public health advice may change as we learn more." Get vaccinated, wear a mask.

"The analysis, presented at a scientific conference Friday, suggests the omicron variant is highly transmissible and also more capable of evading the immune system than delta… On Thursday, Pulliam and her colleagues also published a study online showing that reinfections are more likely with omicron than with the delta or the beta variants. The study couldn't estimate the magnitude of this change — that is, how much more likely reinfections will be — but it shows quite strongly that this new variant is more capable of bypassing antibodies generated by a prior infection than previous variants." Also again, if Omicron is more contagious and can out compete Delta, but causes a milder form of COVID-19, this is a Good Thing™. It becomes more likely that SARS-CoV2 may fade into the cloud of viruses that cause colds. Of course, it's already done a huge amount of damage before getting here, and will continue to cause a lot of damage until it fades.

"It's the sort of fringe views that kept political figures away from this conference in the past. But as America heads into midterm elections next year, the political right and the anti-vaccine movement are drawing ever-closer together. It's an alliance that promises to give both sides more power, but the cost is potentially thousands of American lives." Well, yes, they're mostly the same voter stock, the same disregard for science and education, and the susceptibility to Russian disinformation campaigns.

"Criminal groups have been sending threatening messages in the past couple of months to companies that manage broadband phone services all over the world, promising they'll flood the digital phone lines with traffic and take them offline unless victims pay a ransom… What those extortionists have discovered is that the number of phone calls that take place at least partially over the internet has quietly and dramatically increased over recent years — and there's a lot at stake when major providers go down."

"The Biden administration is expected to announce this week that no US government officials will attend the 2022 Beijing Olympics, implementing a diplomatic boycott of the games, according to several sources… The move would allow the US to send a message on the world stage to China without preventing US athletes from competing. The National Security Council, which has been privately discussing the boycott, declined to comment."

"A judge imposed a combined $1 million bond Saturday for the parents of the Michigan teen charged with killing four students at Oxford High School, hours after police said they were caught hiding in a Detroit commercial building." This story isn't adding up yet.

"More than 20 countries, including the United States, issued a joint statement Saturday expressing deep concern over allegations of extra-judicial killings and disappearances of former member of former security forces in Afghanistan… The statement comes after a report was released by Human Rights Watch on Tuesday alleging more than a hundred former Afghan security forces had been killed or forcibly disappeared by the Taliban since their surrender in late summer."

"Thomas Gavin may be one of the most prolific artifact thieves in U.S. history… But Gavin had been on a tear in the '60s and '70s, hitting nearly a dozen museums on the east coast. He mostly stole antique firearms and stashed them in his hideout — a cluttered, non-descript barn in rural Pennsylvania."

"Many in Eastern Europe have concluded that Western liberalism is not a good fit… Orb├ín and his Fidesz party (in Hungary) have become the flag-bearers of this mindset during their decade in power. The Hungarian government has repeatedly clashed with Brussels over migration, multiculturalism, press freedom and, most recently, LGBTQ rights." Democracy is hard, you have to really want it. Authoritarians (a philosophy which has done more to divide America and the rest of the world as conservatives go at it hard) are never the answer.

"Former Sen. David Perdue has launched a primary challenge against Gov. Brian Kemp, the latest escalation in former President Donald Trump's attack on Republicans that failed to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election… The news of Perdue's re-entry into politics, first reported by Politico, comes less than a week after Democratic rising star Stacey Abrams announced her own campaign for governor, seeking a potential rematch after losing to Kemp by about 55,000 votes in 2018."

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