Lisa showing her moves

For anyone who follows Blackpink, it is no secret that Lisa is an incredible dancer. She frequently demonstrates her skills during solo dance acts at concerts, and through releasing small dance clips on her own YouTube channel. Two days ago, she released her newest dance clip, this time in the form of a mini movie. Like her other clips, it is choreographed by Cheshir Ha, who really knows how to show case Lisa’s skills.

Cheshir Ha is one of the backup dancers in the clip, but all four of them are choreographers as well as dancers, which probably explains the amazing quality.

Over at her Instagram, Cheshir Ha explains the reasons for the choice of music

I chose this song “Tomboy” because the meaning behind it really spoke to me. Through dance I wanted to express that girls can do what boys can in the 1st half, similarly to general meaning of the word “Tomboy”. Then switch it up for the 2nd half by doing heels to show we can do both. Regardless of gender however, you should feel free to dance and express yourself however you want.

Oh, and if you wonder what impact it would have for a fairly unknown artist to get her song picked for a dance clip like this, then it is massive, if the dancer is Lisa

Judging from Destiny Rogers’ twitter stream, she wasn’t aware that her song was going to be used, so this must have been a mind-blowing experience.

Justin Timberlake facing backlash, apologizes

I am not a particular big fan of Justin Timberlake, to put it mildly. His music is frequently misogynist, and his career has to some degree been at the cost of career of women, such as Janet Jackson.

Now, the documentary Framing Britney Spears has led to a backlash against him, and he has come out and apologized for some of his past behavior.

Justin Timberlake Apologizes to Britney Spears, Janet Jackson: ‘I Know I Failed’

The apology has been long in coming, and seems to be mostly caused by him actually getting some push-back, rather than him reaching the need for apologizing on his own. Having said that, his apology is quite good:

“I’ve seen the messages, tags, comments, and concerns and I want to respond. I am deeply sorry for the times in my life where my actions contributed to the problem, where I spoke out of turn, or did not speak up for what was right,” Timberlake wrote in his Instagram statement. “I understand that I fell short in these moments and in many others and benefited from a system that condones misogyny and racism.”

Unlike many non-pologies, this is actually a clear admission of guilt – both for actions and inaction. A lot people could learn from this. Still, even the apology is pretty good, the timing shows that it was forced out by the reaction to the documentary about Britney Spears which obviously makes it seem less genuine.

Lazy linking

One of the clear signs that US society doesn’t work probably, is the fact that people have to do fundraisers to cover medical costs and increasingly, to cover basic costs of living. One of the big platforms for these fundraisers, is GoFundMe. Now, the CEO of GoFundMe is speaking out, pointing out that this is wrong

GoFundMe CEO: Hello Congress, Americans need help and we can’t do your job for you

Coronavirus surge of fundraisers on GoFundMe shows why Congress must pass emergency aid for monthly bills, restaurants, small businesses and food.

The opinion piece in USA Today doesn’t tell us anything that most of us didn’t already know, but it is good that a CEO of a company, which is benefiting greatly from the current situation, is speaking out.

The Burger Flipper Who Became a World Expert on the Minimum Wage

As a 16-year-old kid flipping burgers at a Seattle McDonald’s in 1989, Arindrajit Dube was earning the state minimum wage of $3.85 an hour. “I remember feeling privileged that I was going to go on to college, while there were many older workers working at that wage,” he recalls.

He still thinks about the minimum wage, only now it’s from his perch at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he’s possibly the world’s leading authority on its economic effects. Dube’s research is guaranteed to get a bigger audience as Democrats in Congress attempt to make good on President Biden’s pledge to raise the federal wage floor to $15 an hour by 2025.

Intuitively, it makes sense that increasing the minimum wage, would force companies to increase prices, drive down sales, reduce company profit, and will even force companies into closing. Fortunately, as with many things, intuition is wrong in this.

This is for a few reasons:

  • Wages only form a portion of the costs, and the costs can be spread over many items. E.g. in the classic example of a burger joint, the employer sells many burgers per hour, meaning that the price increase per burger will be minimal.
  • Increasing minimum wages will allow people to work fewer hours, and not e.g. two jobs as we see all too often now, thus opening the job market up for more people.
  • It will give minimum wage employees more money to spend, thus increasing the demand on goods.

Yes, there might be companies surviving on the very margins, which can’t increase their sales, which will close, but my guess is that many of those companies already have closed during this pandemic.

Further reading: Home Articles Making the Case for a Higher M… SHARE: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call Making the Case for a Higher Minimum Wage by Arindrajit Dube

Big Tech as an Unnatural Monopoly

Interesting piece by Tim Brennan in the Milken Institute Review, where he takes a look on Big Tech as monopolies, why they defy the current anti-trust laws, and what can actually be done about Big Tech.

Further reading: Rethinking Antitrust by Lawrence J. White (also in the Milken Institute Review)

This COVID-vaccine designer is tackling vaccine hesitancy — in churches and on Twitter

Immunologist Kizzmekia Corbett helped to design the Moderna vaccine. Now she volunteers her time talking about vaccine science with people of colour.

Kizzmekia Corbett’s twitter feed can be found here.

It is a low bar that President Biden has to clear, but I find it so nice that the US now has a president who is willing to thank people for their hard work

 

Tove Ditlevsen

It is always interesting when a local author is discovered by the rest of the world – which appears to be the case of the Danish author Tove Ditlevsen, who has been published to rave reviews in both the UK and USA.

Tove Ditlevsen is not a new author, but is one of those authors in Denmark, that everyone knows, and have read while in school. She committed suicide back in 1976, so it is interesting what has caused her work to suddenly be discovered outside the Nordic countries.

Anyway, here are some of the reviews about her works:

This notorious poet is required reading in Denmark. Her masterpiece is now out in the US. (VOX)

‘The Copenhagen Trilogy,’ a Sublime Set of Memoirs About Growing Up, Writing and Addiction (NY Times)

Tove Ditlevsen: Why it’s time to discover Denmark’s most famous literary outsider (Penguin)

In the Green Rooms excerpt from Dependency (The Paris Review)

Reality Under My Skin (Harper’s)

 

Most of the reviews talk about Tove Ditlevsen’s status in Denmark, but as with all such things, things are not quite as simple as presented. For a more nuanced view of how Tove Ditlevsen’s literary reputation in Denmark, see this twitter thread by Olga Ravn, who is someone who can talk about the subject with authority

I suggest reading the whole thread.

As someone who has grown up in Copenhagen, I have read Tove Ditlevsen’s works in both primary school and in high school. Though I was born around the same time as she died, I could recognize many things from her writing in the city I was a kid in. Now, living in the same neighborhood as she lived in her whole life, there is very little left to recognize. The area has been entirely gentrified over the last 25 years, and while (most of) the buildings are still here, the population and shops are nothing alike to back when she was living here.

This means that Tove Ditlevsen’s works are, for me, a glimpse into the city’s past, reminding me of a time where the population of Copenhagen was less well off, and where well-off families tended to leave the city. Do note that I am not glorifying those times – Copenhagen in the eighties was a long way from being the busy cultural hub that it is today. It was poor, schools and the infrastructure was falling apart, and there was an unhealthy level of pollution – and don’t get me started on how much the quality of food has increased since then.

A side note: Back when I went to school, Tove Ditlevsen was usually referred to working class literature. I wonder if this category is still used, given the fact that the classic working class has to a large degree disappeared.

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.