URLs du Jour

2021-10-09

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  • Our Amazon Product du Jour was brought to my attention by Instapundit.

    (By the way, if you can't see it, it's probably due to your ad blocker. It's safe to whitelist punsalad.com on your ad blocker; I only host picture-links to Amazon products. Technically ads, sure, but their main purpose is cheap illustrations.) (However, if you click and buy I do get a cut, so…)


  • The Old Gray Mare Lady, She Ain't What She Used To Be. There's an inordinate amount of amusement to be had by perusing the corrections appended to a New York Times article: Covid Vaccines and Children: Is One Dose Better Than Two?

    An article on Thursday about recommended single doses of the coronavirus vaccine for children in some countries described incorrectly the actions taken by regulators in Sweden and Denmark. They have halted use of the Moderna vaccine in children; they have not begun offering single doses. The article also misstated the number of Covid hospitalizations in U.S. children. It is more than 63,000 from August 2020 to October 2021, not 900,000 since the beginning of the pandemic. In addition, the article misstated the timing of an F.D.A. meeting on authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children. It is later this month, not next week.

    Emphasis added. Alan Jacobs comments on that, asking you to imagine the following NYT corrections:

    The article also misstated the typical speed limit on American Interstate highways. It is 70 miles per hour, not 1,000 miles per hour.

    Or:

    The article also misstated the highest number of points ever scored by one player in an NBA game. It is 100, not 1,428.

    The point being that those errors are all in the same approximate ratio. Glenn Greenwald makes a less mathy tweet:

    In not-unrelated news, the headline on yesterday's Reason Roundup: Trust in Media and Elected Officials Near Record Lows in Gallup Poll.


  • Surprisingly, he's not talking about me. Matt Taibbi explores The Cult of the Vaccine Neurotic.

    Yesterday, I ran a story that had nothing to do with vaccines, about the seeming delay of the development of a drug called molnupiravir […]. In the time it took to report and write that piece, conventional wisdom turned against the drug, which is now suspected of ivermectinism and other deviationist, anti-vax tendencies, in the latest iteration of our most recent collective national mania — the Cult of the Vaccine.

    The speed of the change was incredible. Just a week ago, on October 1st, the pharmaceutical giant Merck issued a terse announcement that quickly became big news. Molnupiravir, an experimental antiviral drug, “reduced the risk of hospitalization or death” of Covid-19 patients by as much as 50%, according to a study.

    More:

    Since the start of the Trump years, we’ve been introduced to a new kind of news story, which assumes adults can’t handle multiple ideas at once, and has reporters frantically wrapping facts deemed dangerous, unorthodox, or even just insufficiently obvious in layers of disclaimers. The fear of uncontrolled audience brain-drift is now so great that even offhand references must come swaddled in these journalistic Surgeon General’s warnings, which is why whenever we read anything now, we almost always end up fighting through nests of phrases like “the debunked conspiracy theory that COVID-19 was created in a lab” in order to get to whatever the author’s main point might be.

    I think Taibbi makes a good and important point here. Again note that Gallup Poll mentioned above. Media, do you want to regain some trust? Start treating your customers as rational beings. Paste Taibbi's article into your writers' stylebooks.


  • You don't have to be Japanese to note the obvious, but it (apparently) helps. Jim Geraghty reads the news from abroad: Japanese Publication Accuses Biden of Bowing to China on COVID.

    The Japan Times notices what the American media do not. President Biden ordered the U.S. intelligence community to investigate the origins of COVID-19 more thoroughly, but after 90 days, that review offered almost nothing; just a publicly released summary that was barely a page and a half. But Biden didn’t seem to mind, and the lack of follow-up from the Biden administration worked out exceptionally well for Xi Jinping and the Chinese government.

    The Japan Times sees this as Biden making a deliberate effort to placate Beijing by choosing to lose interest in tracking down how the pandemic started:

    Biden appeared to bow to another Chinese demand — that the U.S. stop tracing the origins of the COVID-19 virus, even though the world has a right to know if China caused the worst disaster of our time that has already killed more than 4.5 million people worldwide. Biden announced on Aug. 27 — 12 days after Kabul’s fall — that the intelligence inquiry he initiated had ended, despite the fact that it failed to uncover the genesis of the pandemic.

    Xi’s regime, involved in perhaps one of the greatest cover-ups ever seen, doesn’t appear to want the truth to come out. After all, if China’s alleged negligence or complicity spawned the world’s worst public-health catastrophe in more than a century, it would constitute a crime against humanity. Biden should have ordered the U.S. intelligence community to keep searching for the true origins of the virus until a definitive conclusion could be reached. By not extending the inquiry’s 90-day deadline, Biden in effect gave the Chinese what they wanted.

    Autumn is here, which means that we are approaching the two-year anniversary of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Way back in January 2020, the medical journal The Lancet dated the onset of symptoms in the first patient to December 1, 2019. One study analyzed the DNA of the virus and calculated the mutation rate, and estimated that the range of possible dates for the “origin” of SARS-CoV-2 runs from October 6, 2019, to December 11, 2019. Italian researchers have poured cold water on the theory that the virus was spreading around northern Italy starting in November 2019.

    It's almost as if they can't bring themselves to be honest.


  • It's only a short hop from "Socialism Works!" to… Eric Boehm notes an accelerating slide toward utter delusion: Bernie Sanders Thinks 48 Senators Make a Majority.

    There are 100 members of the United States Senate.

    Unlike in the House, where a simple majority rules everything, the math can get a little complicated in the Senate. There's that pesky cloture rule that effectively means you need 60 votes to avoid a filibuster for a lot of things. Other times, a mere 50–50 tie is good enough—as long as you've got the vice president on your side to cast the tie-breaking vote.

    But the one thing that you can never, ever do is pass legislation with 48 senators in support and 52 votes against. Because, again, there are 100 members of the United States Senate.

    These are basic facts with which a longtime member of the country's most prestigious legislative body should be well familiar. So when Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.), a member of the Senate since 2007, suggests that "two people" are somehow preventing 48 others from getting what they want, he's not only demonstrating a lack of basic math skills (which, given Sanders' role as the head of the Budget Committee, might explain a lot about America's fiscal situation).

    That "democratic" modifier on "Democratic Socialism" always seeemed a little phony to me. If you've got the keys to heaven on earth, why should you let anyone, let alone a majority, stop you from unlocking the gate and forcing everyone to march through? "For their own good", of course.