Give that dog a medal! Or at least a biscuit!

During a high school 4×200 m relay race, a dog who had been among the spectators joined in and ran a superb anchor leg.

A pet dog escaped its owners to join the home stretch of a 4×200 metre relay race at a high school athletics meet in Utah. The dog, Holly, can been seen running on to the track to chase Logan high school’s Gracie Laney down the home straight. 

Holly clocked the final 100m in about 10.5 seconds, which is 1 second behind Usain Bolt’s world record, track and field website MileSplit reported. 

The crowd roared as the dog overtook Laney just before the finishing line, almost tripping her over. However, race officials did not award the victory to Holly the dog – the heat win went to Laney with a time of 1 minute 59.27 seconds. 

Holly was guilty of illegal lane changes and a bit of Usain Bolt-level showboating at the end when she eased up her pace alongside Laney before speeding up to pip her at the post. But it was still an impressive performance.

Ugly metaphors and sayings

In writing a recent post, I typed in the phrase ‘beat a dead horse’ that had come to my mind. Then I stopped short and asked myself why I was writing that. While it captured the futility of repeatedly doing something that will produce no result, it is a really ugly metaphor. What I mean by the word ‘ugly’ is not that the metaphor is inconsistent or mixed but that the image it brings up is unpleasant or cruel. The image of a horse that is dead being flayed by someone is abhorrent. So I replaced it with ‘belabor the point’.
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The pandemic and hygiene habits

I have been seeing a lot of stories such as this one about how staying at home and social isolation has resulted in some people changing their personal hygiene habits, sometimes entirely jettisoning some of them.

Working from home, shielding, not socialising or just losing the will to blow-dry appear to have had many of us questioning whether our pre-pandemic personal hygiene and grooming habits were really necessary. And, with routines disrupted, it is perfectly possible to get to the end of the day before wondering if you have brushed your teeth. Or putting off your morning shower until you have done some lunchtime exercise, and then not bothering to do that either.

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The US should send its excess vaccines to countries that need them

Vaccination rates in the US are slowing down as the people who want to take it have increasingly done so, leaving mostly the so-called vaccine-hesitant and the vaccine deniers. The US is reaching a point where there are excess stocks of unused vaccines.

The United States could have around 300 million excess Covid-19 shots by the end of July, health policy experts at Duke University estimated in a report Thursday, calling on the country to share doses more widely to address the stark inequality around global vaccine distribution.
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Is Norma Desmond the model for Trump’s future?

I see Trump eventually becoming like the Norma Desmond character in Sunset Boulevard. She was a star of the silent film era who was sidelined by the arrival of the talkies. So she retreats to isolation in her mansion, endlessly watching her old films in private and reliving her glory days. I can see Trump doing that, living at Mar-a-Lago and watching recordings of his rallies and recalling memories of the adulation that he once received from his fans.

One sign of Trump’s decline is his plane. When he was campaigning in 2016, he flew around in his private Boeing 757 that had his name in big gold letters on it. It was his ultimate status symbol of being wealthy. He would use it for all manner of photo ops and would make a grand entrance by arriving in it to his various airport rallies.
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Another review of the lead up to the insurrection

I linked earlier to the Frontline documentary American Insurrection by ProPublica reporter A. C. Thompson who followed the trail of hate groups starting in Charlottesville to the insurrection on January 6th. Thompson had been following the evolution of many hate groups and he was able to piece together all that footage to tell a compelling story.

The Daily Show‘s Jordan Klepper does a similar exercise in a comedic vein except for some serious moments. He had been attending Trump rallies during his time in office and he now has a retrospective leading up to January 6th, mixing footage that I had seen before with new ones. I was particularly interested in a section that began at the 11:30 mark where he tells us what goes on behind the scenes with his producers and camera crew. He addresses questions that he is frequently asked, such as: Are the people he interviews real? Is what they say scripted? Do they agree to be interviewed? Was he ever close to getting his ass kicked? The answers are: yes, no, sometimes, and definitely.

The problem of changing scientific conclusions

People tend to like certainty. One of the things that people get wrong about science is that they think it should provide them with that certainty. But scientific conclusions, while they tend to be the most reliable that we have at any given time, can change in the light of new evidence which is why results are usually phrased conditionally. Unfortunately that nuance is often missing when the media reports science results and this can be disconcerting for some people when new results seem to contradict the old. I deal with this question quite extensively in my book The Great Paradox of Science.
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Aftermath of the George Floyd verdict

Former Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin has been found guilty on all three counts for the murder of George Floyd. After a trial that lasted several weeks, the jury took less than 24 hours to arrive at its verdict, suggesting that it was not a hard call for them. The video showing Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes must have convinced the jury, as it convinced many people who had seen it, that there was no way that this killing could be excused or explained away.

I could not bear to watch the whole 9 minutes 29 second video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck and have not yet done so and likely never will. There is something so horrific of seeing someone’s life being slowly squeezed out before one’s very eyes that is too much for me to take. I cannot bear to see it even in films with actors playing roles. It was apparently shown multiple times during the trial and one can only wonder at how traumatic it must have been for the people in the courtroom to see it over and over again.
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For many ordinary people, declaring bankruptcy is a way to escape from crushing debt often caused by circumstances beyond their control, like health care bills, and start a new life, though it is never an easy out. In addition, they are made to feel ashamed for doing so. In 2005, the credit card companies lobbied for a new law that made made it much harder for individuals to declare bankruptcy. As a then senator, Joe Biden fought in favor of the new law, no doubt because his home state of Delaware is home to many credit card companies.

In yesterday’s episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver describes how the current bankruptcy laws are confusing and hard to maneuver and of a new proposal to simplify it. Of course Republicans will filibuster it.