A decent start

I saw a tweet shortly after the US election results became known, about having the feeling of a background process running in your brain, draining energy, suddenly being shut off. This seems like an apt description, and if that was true after the election, it is even more true after the inauguration ceremony.

Like so many others, Biden wasn’t my first pick, but unlike many others, I didn’t buy into the rhetoric painting him as a Republican lite, since his voting records simply didn’t back this up. I am not claiming that his voting record was far-left, but it was firmly to the left of even the most moderate Republican in recent times.

What did worry me a bit about him, was that he has been part of the political system for so long, that it might be hard for him to fight the urge to compromising, which most politicians develop over time. On the other hand, the fact that he has been part of the political system, also means that he wants to restore it to something not serving the political urges of a would be despot.

Now, Biden has been in power a few days, and I must say that I have been delighted beyond expectation by his actions.

Opening Arguments has gone through Biden’s actions on his first day. They were happy, to put it mildly.

I am looking forward to seeing what Biden will be bringing to the table in the coming period. For an indications of what that might be, I think we could do worse than look at the Biden Promise Tracker created by Politifact.

As an aside, isn’t it great that there are websites tracking promises, rather than lies.

It sure looked a lot like an attempted coup

Wednesday the whole saw how Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, and tried to keep elected politicians from doing their job, as defined in the constitution. There is a lot of hand-wringing among certain parties about what to call it, though it seems like a lot have settled on insurrection, edged on by Trump and his surrogates.

From outside the US, a different word springs to mind.

Some among America’s military allies believe Trump deliberately attempted a coup and may have had help from federal law-enforcement officials

The supporters of President Donald Trump who stormed the Capitol on Wednesday to stop the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory were attempting a violent coup that multiple European security officials said appeared to have at least tacit support from aspects of the US federal agencies responsible for securing the Capitol complex.

Insider spoke with three officials on Thursday morning: a French police official responsible for public security in a key section of central Paris, and two intelligence officials from NATO countries who directly work in counterterrorism and counterintelligence operations involving the US, terrorism, and Russia.

There is no doubt that the Capitol was not as secured as one would have expected, given the fact that the insurrection has been planned fairly publicly .The unpreparedness and outright willingness to help, does leave one wondering whether at least some of the people responsible for the security of the Capitol would have been okay with Trump staying in power, by any means necessary.

Luckily, the coup was not successful, but have instead resulted in a backlash against Trump, even getting Twitter to ban his account (something long overdue).

The vaccine rollout has started in Denmark

Like everywhere there has been some bumps during the upstart, but the vaccinations has started in Denmark, and there is now a plan for how the vaccine roll-out is going to happen.

The plan is obviously in Danish, but it runs through June, and most people will probably be in group 12 (over 16 or 18 years). The name of the category shows that it hasn’t been decided the age cut-off for vaccination is 16 or 18 years. I am guessing that it is likely that children will get vaccinated after all the adults are (high-risk children are already vaccinated in this plan).

Currently just over 100,000 people have received their first dose, which is approximately 1.75% of the population. This number includes everyone living in nursing homes.

I will almost certainly be in the general group of vaccinations, so it might take up to half a year before I get my vaccine. I obviously hope to be get it already in April, but fully understand why those of us not at risk, have to wait until it is our turn.

The plan is going to be updated regularly so it reflects the actual progress and the delivery rate of vaccinations, but even if it subject to change, the mere fact that there is a plan that one can look at/follow along, is somewhat of a relief.

Allsides is promoting false equivalence

I came across someone linking this on Twitter, claiming that people should make sure to get a balanced media diet, based on the categories they have places media in.

Bad overview of media bias

I think you have to be fairly rightwinged to think this is a fair representation of the media landscape in the US. Most of the news sources mentioned in “Lean Right” should be in the “Right” column, most of the “Lean Left” and even “Left” should be “Center”.

AllSides claim that the analysis is scientific, but when you read their description, you realize that they are anything but scientific, but entirely dependent on self-assessment and group evaluations, without clear definitions.

Rather than being a fair rating of news sources,  this is probably an attempt to normalize right-winged media, claiming that they are as close to the center as major mainstream news sources like New York Times and the Economist.

My suggestion for a balanced and mostly true news media, is to look at the Left, Lean Left, and Center columns, and make sure to read from several sources there. Then look at the Lean Right and Right columns, and make sure to avoid those sources.



Reading challenge

Goodreads allows you to set a reading goal for the year. I have done so since 2011, with varying degrees of success.

Of course, I am going to do it this year as well. For now, I have set my goal at 26 books, which is one every two weeks. It is definitely on the low side, and if I manage to take a long vacation, I will upgrade my challenge to reflect that I have more time.

Me taking a long vacation obviously depends on when it is possible to get a vaccination and when the borders open up again, allowing traveling.

I have a huge to-read pile, but I am always up for book suggestions related to science, skepticism, science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, and history.

More good medical news

Currently, the focus of the medical world is pretty much on the Corona virus, but that is hardly the only medical threat to people. One of the more worrisome medical problems, have been antimicrobial resistance in bacterial pathogens, since it makes it harder and harder to treat things like tuberculosis.

Now, via ScienceDaily I see that the Wistar Institute has release a press release

Wistar Reports New Class of Antibiotics Active Against a Wide Range of Bacteria

Wistar Institute scientists have discovered a new class of compounds that uniquely combine direct antibiotic killing of pan drug-resistant bacterial pathogens with a simultaneous rapid immune response for combatting antimicrobial resistance (AMR). These finding were published today in Nature.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared AMR as one of the top 10 global public health threats against humanity. It is estimated that by 2050, antibiotic-resistant infections could claim 10 million lives each year and impose a cumulative $100 trillion burden on the global economy. The list of bacteria that are becoming resistant to treatment with all available antibiotic options is growing and few new drugs are in the pipeline, creating a pressing need for new classes of antibiotics to prevent public health crises.

This is definitely good news, even if it is quite a way before it will be ready for general use.

When I clicked the link to the article in the Wistar press release, I was provided free access to the article, which was a pleasant surprise. I guess this is due to it being a health related article, which might mean that it was accessible due to the general agreement to let COVID-19 related articles be freely available across all medicial journals. I hope this can create some kind of precedence for health-related, and other subject of general public interest, articles in scientific and medical journal becoming available for free.