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an endless succession of beans and nuts.

"[T]he gap between Covid-19 mortality and overall excess mortality has proved remarkably, and mystifyingly, persistent...."

Writes David Wallace-Wells, in "Why Are So Many Americans Dying Right Now?" (NYT).

[A]lmost every week for more than six months, the agency has calculated that total excess mortality was 50 percent larger than and often almost twice as large as the number of official Covid-19 deaths.... What are the hypotheses? 

The first is delayed care [caused by the pandemic]....

A second hypothesis is about the indirect effects of pandemic restrictions... social isolation, anxiety... unemployment, which can worsen a wide range of conditions, as well as, potentially, suicide and homicide and even car accidents and overdoses....

A third hypothesis is that Covid-19 infection does harm to the body that can linger after recovery for some people....

If you are waiting for "a fourth hypothesis, the vaccine," I can tell you it is not in this article. The vaccine is mentioned but not as a possible cause of the excess deaths. But Wallace-Wells discusses a subset of the "third hypothesis" as "another hypothesis":

Another hypothesis is that Covid infection damages immune function in some patients in a long-lasting way....

So the damage to the immune function, if any, is presumed to come from the disease and not the vaccine. Wallace-Wells notes that there is "a lot of contestation and pushback against — and contextualizing," but only about the effect of the disease. Questioning the vaccine cannot even be a hypothesis. He proceeds to talk about how our emotions drive our thinking on the subject:

Among the many lessons of the pandemic, for me, has been how much more complicated and baffling disease severity and death are.... how simplistic it often feels to apply a single cause of death.... Yet we’ve wanted stories we drew from the pandemic to be straightforward and legible, no matter how messy and nuanced so many cases turned out to be....

Does this want cause you to exclude the complicating factor that is the vaccine? As I write this, I am feeling the fear of questioning the vaccine. 

Here's the parenthetical in the article where Wallace-Wells excludes the vaccine:

If long Covid or post-acute sequelae were primarily responsible [for the excess deaths], we might expect to see a spike in non-Covid excess deaths at some interval following each particular wave of infection — perhaps a few weeks or perhaps a few months later. (If vaccination risk was playing a role, it might create the same pattern, but that’s not what the curves show.) 

There is also the idea that the excess mortality is really made up of deaths from Covid that were not registered as Covid deaths because they died at home and why test for Covid when the death certificate can say heart disease?

Throughout the pandemic, about 20 percent of in-hospital deaths have been attributed to Covid-19, compared to barely 2 percent of deaths at home. If you roughly triple the share of at-home deaths attributed to Covid — still well short of the share in hospitals — you make the Covid death toll a bit larger but almost entirely eliminate the excess excess gap. And if you adjust it to match the share of deaths attributed to Covid everywhere but homes — hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing homes — you actually overshoot the gap....

That sounds quite plausible, but I note the emotion in my desire to embrace it. It's the most comforting thought. People who died were old and already in bad health, and Covid knocked them off relatively peacefully. They died at home. And they were expected to die. They'd reached the end of their life. Nothing strange is going on. Rest easy.

"Where does this leave us?," the last paragraph of the article begins. And here comes the one other mention of the vaccine:

More Americans are still dying than expected, which means at some point the United States may have to reset its expectations for how many will die in a given year at least a bit higher. The country long ago walked away from most mitigation measures beyond vaccination. (And even there, booster uptake has been quite low.)...

You can see that the reference to the vaccine is entirely positive. The only fault is only in us: We're not continuing to take it.

"'Died Suddenly'? More Than 1-in-4 Think Someone They Know Died From COVID-19 Vaccines."

Rasmussen reports.

The documentary Died Suddenly has been criticized as promoting “debunked” anti-vaccine conspiracy theories but has been seen by some 15 million people.

Forty-eight percent (48%) of Americans believe there are legitimate reasons to be concerned about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, while 37% think people who worry about vaccine safety are spreading conspiracy theories. Another 15% are not sure.

The political breakdown is interesting:

More Democrats (85%) than Republicans (63%) or those not affiliated with either major party (64%) have been vaccinated against COVID-19. More Republicans (60%) than Democrats (44%) or the unaffiliated (43%) think there are legitimate reasons to be concerned about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. However, there is less political difference in the number who suspect someone they know might have died from vaccine side effects – 33% of Democrats and 26% of both Republicans and the unaffiliated. 

Rasmussen downplayed the most significant discrepancy — there are 27% more Democrats who say they know someone who "might have died from vaccine side effects." That's a lot of political difference, especially since the difference seems to go in the opposite direction from the support for the vaccine, with Republicans much more likely to be worried about vaccine safety and to have resisted getting the vaccination. 

Now, maybe it's that Democrats tend to know more people who've taken the vaccine or to know more people who've died recently. Maybe Democrats simply know more people. Maybe Democrats have more of a tendency to interpret the question differently.

When people you know die, do you know why they died? There may be cultural differences about conveying the cause of death. When do you just absorb the news of the death and figure it must be from one of those things that kill people — old age, drugs, suicide, heart trouble? If you do that, then if someone asks you do you think it could have been a side effect of the vaccine, you might easily and without thinking much, say, sure. It might not mean you're particularly concerned about the vaccine. 

Another way to look at this is that supporters of the vaccine may think of course some people are going to die from it but, overall, more lives will be saved, so what's important is for everyone to do their part and contribute to the general good by getting the vaccine as prescribed. Yes, you might be one of the unlucky ones who dies because of the vaccine, but you'll never know if you would have been one of the unlucky ones who dies because you did not get the vaccine, so please just cooperate and accept the vaccine.

I would guess that Democrats are more likely to have that attitude, and that might mean that even when they hear of deaths that they think could be traced to the vaccine they tend to continue to think that there are no "legitimate reasons to be concerned about the safety of COVID-19 vaccine."

Kanye West is running for President as the candidate of "the Birthday Party," Elon Musk is advising him....

... and he's not for Trump anymore — "I am taking the red hat off, with this interview."

Here's the interview — in Forbes. Other high points:
... he’s ok with siphoning off Black votes from the Democratic nominee, thus helping Trump. “I’m not denying it, I just told you. To say that the Black vote is Democratic is a form of racism and white supremacy.”
... he’s never voted in his life.
... he was sick with Covid-19 in February.
... he’s suspicious of a coronavirus vaccine, terming vaccines “the mark of the beast.”
... he believes “Planned Parenthoods have been placed inside cities by white supremacists to do the Devil’s work.”
... he envisions a White House organizational model based on the secret country of Wakanda in Black Panther.
His running mate? Michelle Tidball, an obscure preacher from Wyoming. And why the Birthday Party? “Because when we win, it’s everybody’s birthday.”...

A few weeks after he ended two separate text chains with me with the message “Trump 2020” and a fist raised high, he insists he’s lost confidence in the president. “It looks like one big mess to me,” he says. “I don’t like that I caught wind that he hid in the bunker.”...

That said, he won’t say much more against Trump. He’s much less shy about criticizing Biden, which certainly won’t tamp down the idea that the Birthday Party is a ruse to help re-elect Trump. “I’m not saying Trump’s in my way, he may be a part of my way. And Joe Biden? Like come on man, please. You know? Obama’s special. Trump’s special. We say Kanye West is special. America needs special people that lead. Bill Clinton? Special. Joe Biden’s not special.”...
Kanye West is very good at saying interesting things. So's Trump. They're special.

“That is a form of racism and white supremacy and white control to say that all Black people need to be Democrat and to assume that me running is me splitting the vote. All of that information is being charged up on social media platforms by Democrats. And Democrats used to tell me, the same Democrats have threatened me…. The reason why this is the first day I registered to vote is because I was scared. I was told that if I voted on Trump my music career would be over. I was threatened into being in one party. I was threatened as a celebrity into being in one party. I was threatened as a Black man into the Democratic party. And that’s what the Democrats are doing, emotionally, to my people. Threatening them to the point where this white man can tell a Black man if you don’t vote for me, you’re not Black.”...

“I have to say with all humility that as a man, I don’t have all of the pieces in the puzzle. As I speak to you for what a political campaign—a political walk, as I told you, because I’m not running, I’m walking. I'm not running, we the people are walking. We’re not running anymore, we’re not running, we’re not excited—we are energized. Someone can say, ‘Hey, I got a brand new car for you, it’s across the street and you get so excited you run across the street and get hit by a car trying to run to your new car. That’s how they control the Black community, through emotions, they get us excited, we’re so excited, but then for 400 years the change doesn’t truly happen."...

“Oh one other thing, Black History Month. That is torture porn because when that comes up what we do is we see—and by the way, if I get that vibe—that’s the process and we are going to a beautiful, uplifting, fun, creative process as a people, as America collectively, and show the world how great we are. So here we go. Black History Month every year they gotta remind us about the fact that we couldn’t vote, they meaning white supremacy construct, and I said that with the CT at the end, I knew what was I was talking about...."...
I think he just said that Black History Month is a device of white supremacy, weighing black people down with sadness and ugliness.
“This man, Joe Biden, said if you don’t vote for me, then you are not Black.... ... I just gracefully suggest y’all bow out—Trump and Biden, gracefully bow out. It’s God’s country, we are doing everything in service to God, nobody but God no more. I am in service of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, and I put everything I get on the line to serve God.”...

“[Y]ou got Kanye West, one of the most powerful humans—I’m not saying the most because you got a lot of alien level superpowers and it’s only collectively that we can set it free. Let’s get back to Wakanda… like in the movie in Wakanda when the king went to visit that lead scientist to have the shoes wrap around her shoes...."
Sorry, I didn't see the movie. I don't know about the wraparound shoes. Were aliens involved?
“Reinstate in God’s state, in God’s country, the fear and love of God in all schools and organizations and you chill the fear and love of everything else, so that was a plan by the Devil to have our kids committing suicide at an all-time high by removing God to have murders in Chicago at an all-time high because the human beings working for the Devil removed God and prayer from the schools.... I haven’t done enough research on that yet. I will research that with the strongest experts that serve God and come back with the best solution. And that will be my answer for anything that I haven’t researched. I have the earplug in and I’m going to use that earplug.”
I think he's saying he's listening to God and hearing from God, and the voice of God comes in through electronic amplification, metaphorically.
“I love China. I love China.... They’re God’s people also. I love China.... My mom as an English professor taught English in China when I was in 5th grade.”...

“Thou shalt not kill. I’m against the death penalty.”...

“Clean up the chemicals. In our deodorant, in our toothpaste, there are chemicals that affect our ability to be of service to God.”...
That's all very very interesting and entertaining, but way too religious... and kooky. That's why it's interesting and entertaining. But I've said it before, and I'll just sum it up with my longstanding tag: I'm for Boring.

ALSO: West is so dangerous to Biden that I presume his real intent — if he's not too wacky — is to help Trump. He is teaching black people not to go along with the Democrats. He's making a powerful, exciting argument that the Democrats are practicing systemic racism, tricking and controlling black people and holding them down, breaking their spirit. He's spiking that argument with religion and speaking as if he has divine inspiration and is hearing directly from God. If you get on his wavelength, it's madly uplifting.

OKAY: I'm pretty sure these are the shoes:

The evidence that Trump suggested injecting disinfectant as a treatment for Covid19.

I watched the press briefing live yesterday, and — with no prompting from anti-Trump media — I thought I he'd said something sort of like that but not really.

Today, the fever is raging. It looks like this:

The evidence that Trump suggested injecting disinfectant as a treatment for Covid19.

From the transcript:
Bill Bryan [head of the science and technology directorate at the Department of Homeland Security]: We’re... testing disinfectants readily available. We’ve tested bleach, we’ve tested isopropyl alcohol on the virus specifically in saliva or in respiratory fluids and I can tell you that bleach will kill the virus in five minutes. Isopropyl alcohol will kill the virus in 30 seconds and that’s with no manipulation, no rubbing....

Donald Trump: .... I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that so that you’re going to have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds interesting to me. So, we’ll see....
He did say "something like that." Not: go ahead and put bleach or isopropyl alcohol into your bloodstream. I immediately thought of ethyl alcohol. People put that stuff into their bloodstream all the time. And there's a folk belief out there that alcohol is a treatment. I've seen that quite a few people in Iran have died trying to use alcohol this way.

Later in the briefing, a reporter said to Bryan: "The president mentioned the idea of a cleaner, bleach and isopropyl alcohol emerging. There’s no scenario where that could be injected into a person, is there?"

Bryan brushed off the question: "No, I’m here to talk about the finds that we had in the study. We don’t do that within that lab at our labs."

Trump stepped in: "It wouldn’t be through injections, [inaudible] almost a cleaning and sterilization of an area. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t work, but it certainly has a big effect if it’s on a stationary object."

I have the feeling Trump talks to his experts like this a lot. He gets ideas. He experiences what we call lateral thinking. And he just blurts out his idea. He doesn't self-censor, so he comes across like a child. And he gives his antagonists rich raw material to use against him.

ADDED: There has long been a theory out there in social media that drinking bleach is a defense against coronavirus. Here's a Politifact debunking from all the way back in January:
We came across the claim in a Jan. 28 tweet by Twitter user "Chief Police 2" that urged their followers to buy "20-20-20 spray" to ward off the virus. The spray is also known as MMS, or Miracle Mineral Solution, a bleaching agent that’s been touted by anti-vaxxers and QAnon theorists as a "miracle cure" that can treat everything from autism to cancer. The same account tweeted about MMS in relation to the coronavirus multiple times, saying that drinking the solution will instantly "kill the deadly virus."...

While some Clorox cleaning agents have been found to be effective against prior coronavirus strains when used on surfaces to stem the spread of the virus, the products should never be ingested. This alarming theory is full-on Pants on Fire!
So it's bad for Trump to give any lift to this kind of theory. I suspect he's deliberately trying to signal to the alternative medicine/anti-vaxxer crowd that he gets them. He loves them like he loves that bikers for Trump who need to get back to the tattoo parlor. In the past, he's shown an affinity for the anti-vaxxer crowd. Here's something he said in one of the debates, when he was running for President:
“If you take this little beautiful baby, and you pump … I mean, it looks just like it’s meant for a horse, not for a child, and we’ve had so many instances, people that work for me, just the other day, 2 years old, 2½ years old, a child, a beautiful child, went to have the vaccine and came back, and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic.”
He's pro-vaccine now, and maybe his previous skepticism helps give him credibility with ordinary people who resist the opinions of medical experts.

Anyway, Trump will surely be back for another briefing this afternoon, and he'll surely be grilled by the reporters about his supposed idea of injecting disinfectant. I've been watching all of these briefings, so I should be good at predicting what he will say. See how much of it I get right:

1. He'll say it's "fake news": These reporters are so dishonest. They said I recommended injecting bleach. Injecting Clorox bleach! Who would say that? They said I said inject Clorox. Who would inject Clorox?

2. He'll rephrase his idea so it's situated in a context that makes some sense: The expert yesterday was talking about how easy it is to kill the virus when it is on an inanimate surface, so that makes you wonder why we can't kill the virus when it's inside the body. We're talking about avoiding getting the virus — by social distancing and someday with a vaccine. But how feasible is it to kill the virus once it does get inside the body? What would it take? If somebody gets the bubonic plague, we put an antibiotic inside the body and it kills the disease. Why can't we have that for the coronavirus?

3. He was just asking the question of the expert, drawing him out. He wasn't saying, go, use your resources and work on something that I just thought up. He was setting up the expert to explain here's why it's not so easy. Here's what the virus does inside the body that's different from what it does on a tabletop. Unlike a tabletop, you have to worry about damaging (or killing) the human body. We should get all that spelled out by the experts today.

And let me add this, though I don't think it's something Trump will say:

Most people hold their tongue when they don't know what they're talking about. They are afraid of looking stupid. In 30+ years of teaching law students, I heard so many questions that began with "This might be a stupid question, but..." and that was the person who overcame the inhibition to say nothing at all. In recent years, the expression "explain it to me like I'm 5" has come into vogue. People really do crave a very simple explanation from the expert. I think Trump is — with charming (or, for non-fans, frightening) disinhibition — playing a part that so many of us identify with. The 5 year old who just asks the question.

I had a dream about Trump on August 3, 2015, a dream I've told you about a few times and I've remembered and thought about many times. In the dream, I hugged Trump and thanked him. I was thanking him for speaking freely and straightforwardly, accepting the risk and showing us that it can be done, and it can work.

That dream was more than a year before he actually won the election, which was truly an amazing thing. It continues to amaze me as the new election lumbers toward us through a haze of aerosolized virus.

I'm fascinated by the unintentional ambiguity of the headline "This teen got vaccinated against his mother’s wishes."

I'm looking at "This teen got vaccinated against his mother’s wishes. Now, he’ll testify before Congress" (WaPo). Fine. I know the story. Ethan Lindenberger, after he turned 18, went and got his own vaccinations.
His mother, Jill Wheeler, told Undark, an online science magazine that first reported Lindenberger’s story, that her son’s decision was "like him spitting on me, saying 'You don’t know anything, I don’t trust you with anything.' "
Interesting topic. Feel free to expound on it in the comments.

What I want to talk about is the fanciful idea floating from the poorly written headline — that there could be a vaccination that would give you immunity not from a medical disease but from your mother's wishes — as if the dreams from your mother are analogous to disease and infect you and degrade and destroy you.

Dreams from your mother... it makes me think of "Dreams From My Father" — that strange old book that created a persona who came to be embraced as a President of the United States. And I wonder, did Ethan Lindenberger have a father? I can see hidden in the URL for the WaPo article — teen-got-vaccinated-against-his-parents-wishes-now-hell-testify-before-congress — that there were parents but the headline as written leaves us with only the mother.

Searching the article for "father," I find only this, "According to Lindenberger’s Reddit post, his father was less resistant to the idea since he was of legal age," and I infer that both parents were involved in withholding vaccination from Lindenberger when he was a minor, but dad is keeping his distance from the current public dispute. Dad sounds pliable or noncommittal or weak — leaving the mother alone as she worked her will and then leaving the boy alone when he became a man.

Does the word "inoculate" relate to words about the eye like "ocular"?

That's your language test for today. Did you get it right? The answer is yes! "Inoculate" is built on the root "oculus," meaning "eye." Understanding this will help you remember to spell the word right and not succumb to the urge to double the "n."

Do you see why "inoculate" has to do with the oculus? Think of the eye of a potato. The oldest meaning of "inoculate" is horticultural, the (unlinkable) OED tells us:
To set or insert (an ‘eye’, bud, or scion) in a plant for propagation; to subject (a plant) to the operation of budding; to propagate by inoculation; to bud (one plant) into, on, or upon (another).
Then we get the figurative use, the oldest example of which comes in Shakespeare's "Hamlet" (1604):
Vertue cannot so enoculat [1623 innocculate] our old stock, but we shall relish of it.
The use of "inoculate" in the context of fending off disease arrives in 1722, in the London Gazette: "The Experiment of inoculating the Small-Pox upon..Criminals."

Speaking of eyes and having — in the first post today — spoken of the 10 Commandments, I wanted to show you a photo I took last December, a closeup of the monument on the grounds of the Texas State House (the one the U.S. Supreme Court left standing):


What's up with the eye?


All the Supreme Court said about that eye was: "An eagle grasping the American flag, an eye inside of a pyramid, and two small tablets with what appears to be an ancient script are carved above the text of the Ten Commandments."

Here's the Wikipedia article on "The Eye of Providence (or the all-seeing eye of God)...."
Damar Hamlin, hit in a football game, goes into cardiac arrest, some people are bringing up the Covid-19 vaccine, and we are told those people are deplorable. Kanye West is running for President as the candidate of "the Birthday Party," Elon Musk is advising him....The evidence that Trump suggested injecting disinfectant as a treatment for Covid19.

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