Start your weekend with some happy news

Graham Linehan, the ‘noxious transphobe and serial harasser of trans folk, has finally been banned from Twitter.

This is a remarkable turn of events because all of the big social media companies have been remarkably resistant to actually doing anything about the trolls and haters and racists and misogynists that dwell happily within their services. They just spewing and spewing, their targets report them, and the companies come back with some feeble comment that Nazis and bigots don’t “violate their terms of service.”

So what’s going on? It would be nice to believe that corporate executives were hit by a lightning bolt, reflected on their misspent lives, and decided to put up a facade of human decency. This is not the case, however. They’re just looking at their spreadsheets and seeing that their blinkered neglect of civilized behavior is projected to cause them to lose lots of money. They won’t be “cool” anymore.

Facebook leads the way.

Zuck’s social network continues to hemorrhage users, new research suggests.

Facebook has an estimated 15 million fewer U.S. users today than it did in 2017, according to a study released Wednesday by Edison Research and Triton Digital. The share of people 12 and over using Facebook was 67% in 2017, but declined to 62% in 2018 and 61% this year.

Zuckerberg probably has nightmares about his cash cow becoming the MySpace of the 2020s. It could happen.

Facebook on Thursday posted the largest one-day loss in market value by any company in U.S. stock market history after releasing a disastrous quarterly report.

The social media giant’s market capitalization plummeted by $119 billion to $510 billion as its stock price plummeted by 19 percent. At Wednesday’s close, Facebook’s market cap had totaled nearly $630 billion, according to FactSet.

Don’t cry for them, they’re still worth $500 billion. They’re not the future, though, and Twitter is probably glancing nervously at Facebook, wondering if they’re next, hence the sudden interest in cleaning up the shambolic mess of their service. They’re probably also looking to differentiate themselves from their new “competitor”, Parler, where all the right-wingers are flocking.

Parler sounds lovely, if you like wallowing in anti-semitism while pretending to be a bold independent spirit standing up for liberty, like most right-wingers.

The Parler website even has a “Declaration Of Internet Independence” slamming the “Technofascism” of Silicon Valley and Twitter and claiming that “millions”—yes, millions—have been banned for their political ideology. “We The People have had enough!” they cry, demanding “Free Speech” and “Liberties” and other good things with Randomly Capitalized Letters.

Doesn’t that sound like a wonderful company?

In reality, the largest group of accounts targeted for suspension from Twitter have been bots and terrorists, like the tens of millions of fake accounts removed after the scale of Russian interference in the 2016 election became clear, or the roughly 250,000 accounts associated with ISIS/ISIL removed after the 2015 terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.

Graham Linehan is just the latest victim of an effort to clean up the rubbish. Maybe he should set up a Parler account?

A level-headed look at CHAZ

I’ve seen the hack job Tucker Carlson did on CHAZ (some of it is imbedded in this one), so it’s good to see some honest evaluation of the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.

Warning: it’s by a lefty YouTuber, Thought Slime, who I’ve long thought was a pretty good one. That means I can expect he’ll announce that he’s got a book deal with Jordan Peterson, or that he’s a headliner at CPAC, because that’s how the past decade has trained me to think of people I like.

Spiders, at least, haven’t let me down yet.

Once they get popular, though…

Ask a NY paramedic how we’re doing

Feel the rage.

Some of us can’t stop thinking about it. I woke up this morning to about 60 new text messages from paramedics who are barely holding it together. Some are still sick with the virus. At one point we had 25 percent of EMTs in the city out sick. Others are living in their cars so they don’t risk bringing it home to their families. They’re depressed. They’re emotionally exhausted. They’re drinking too much. They’re lashing out at their kids. They’re having night terrors and panic attacks and all kinds of outbursts. I’ve got five paramedics in the ground from this virus already and a few more on ventilators. Another rookie EMT just committed suicide. He was having trouble coping with what he was seeing. He was a kid — 23 years old. He won’t be the last. I have medics who come to me every day and say, “Is this PTSD I’m feeling?” But technically PTSD comes after the event, and we’re not there yet. It’s ongoing stress and trauma, and we might have months to go.

Do you know how much EMTs make in New York City? We start at $35,000. We top out at $48,000 after five years. That’s nothing. That’s a middle finger. It’s about 40 percent less than fire, police and corrections — and those guys deserve what they get. But we have three times the call volume of fire. There are EMTs on my team who’ve been pulling double shifts in a pandemic and performing life support for 16 hours, and then they go home and they have to drive Uber to pay their rent. I’m more than 15 years on the job, and I still work two side gigs. One of my guys does part-time at a grocery store.

Heroes, right? The anger is blinding.

One thing this pandemic has made clear to me is that our country has become a joke in terms of how it disregards working people and poor people. The rampant inequality. The racism. Mistakes were made at the very top in terms of how we prepared for this virus, and we paid down here at the bottom.

Remember that when some asshat tries to tell you that capitalism is meritocratic. How much do Wall Street bankers get paid? How many lives do they save?

March

There’s this goofy meme going around, something like “Which musical genre would you get rid of, and why is it country music?” I don’t much care for most country music, but you don’t get to speak for my musical taste, and there’s some great country music out there (not Lee Greenwood, which is the poisonous crap I usually hear.) I will approve of the Chicks, though.

Besides, why would you pick on country music when Christian rock exists?

Racist statues explained

I understand why people commission racist statues — they’re racists. But who is making them? This little video explains what’s going on. Racist statues incorporate planned obsolescence and aren’t built for the ages! They’re like computers that way.

Maybe we should start tearing down all statues, to give sculptors something to do.

Have I been training cannon fodder?

I teach a lot of students who plan on careers in medicine — doctors and nurses. I keep hearing, though, that medical staffing is hitting a ceiling. The people we rely on to treat COVID-19 are vulnerable.

The coronavirus pandemic has tightened its grip on much of Africa, where reported cases have more than tripled over the last month, jeopardizing overstretched medical teams as the need for care soars.

From the pandemic’s early days, leaders across the continent urged prevention and took aggressive action — sealing borders, tracing contacts and building extra isolation wards — asserting that many places lacked the resources to withstand unchecked outbreaks.

Now African health officials and medical professionals are raising concerns about cracks in a crucial armor: Infections among health-care workers have shot up 203 percent since late May, according to the World Health Organization’s Africa arm, following a spike in community transmission and a drop in access to protective gear.

Africa, you say? Who cares? (Well, I would hope my audience wouldn’t say that). But it also hits close to home, with hospitals in Alabama, for instance, reaching capacity. Of course, “capacity” in this case is partly a function of staffing, not just the number of beds. As the pandemic spreads further, that means that effective capacity is going to gradually decline. Everything is going to get worse.

My university is opening in August. We’ve got plans to minimize contact — I’m going to be teaching all of my classes, except the labs, over Zoom — but I’m expecting we’ll shut down the labs, too. We have to keep the flow out of our pre-professional programs going, don’t you know!

Emesis alert

Ugh. “Spirituality”. Another excuse to grift. This white doofus claims to “channel” the spirit of George Floyd, and that he’s telling everyone to stop fighting for civil liberties, and all lives matter.

You won’t be able to watch it now, though: she shut it down in the face of all the criticism that was pouring in. But if you want a taste anyway, here’s one of her videos. She claims to “channel” a group of powerful supernatural beings call the Entity James, which means she just talks at a camera and pretends to have authority from beyond. You don’t need to watch more than a minute or two to get a mouthful of bullshit.

What. A. Phony.

I get it now

So “second wave” is kind of like the second stage of a rocket, and is going to launch us to an even higher altitude?

I think maybe our current academic year plans in which I teach all of my classes online, except for labs which have been halved in size to allow adequate social distancing, might turn out to be optimistic.