Today is Earth Day. Whatever the fuck that means.
Over at The Verge, Barbara Krasnoff shares with us some ways to celebrate Earth Day online while were in the middle of COVID-19 sheltering-in-place.
I’m skipping Krasnoff’s recommendations. Instead I’d like to celebrate how much less damage we’re doing to the Earth and how much less we’re depleting it’s resources right now. Oil production has dropped, manufacturing has slowed, and many fewer cars are pumping out exhaust (what website is this again?).
At LA Magazine, Jason McGahan reports L.A.’s Air Quality Is Better Than It’s Been in Decades:
The March 2020 air quality index compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency confirms what millions of Angelenos can see just by looking out the window: the brownish haze that customarily settles atop the city on weekday afternoons has lifted and visibility has cleared for miles in every direction since the “safer at home” order was imposed.
Last month, Los Angeles experienced the longest stretch of days of “good” air since at least 1980. The federal agency’s online data goes back no further, but one expert suspects that L.A.’s air hasn’t been this clean since around the time the United States entered the Second World War. Cody Hill, an energy company executive based in the Bay Area, posted a graphic of the EPA data to his Twitter account and wrote that, in terms of air quality, March may well have been “one of the best months at least since the 1940s, when there was huge migration as we ramped up aircraft production in the L.A. basin to fight WW2.”
So I say, Happy Earth Day, Earth! Enjoy this brief reprieve. We’ll be back soon, unfortunately.
Sunday unfolded with relative normalcy in tiny Wellsville, pop. 1,809, even as Franklin County officials declared a “state of local disaster” and shut the schools until March 30. Restaurants were open and the hardware parking lot was full. A nearby Dollar General had steady business, with one lone toilet paper roll left on the shelves.
Services went on as scheduled at Wellsville Baptist Church, though Pastor Bill Hendricks is trying to move the gatherings online. Hand sanitizer was placed on tables in the back, and residents jokingly tried to bump elbows rather than greet each other with hugs.
In his sermon, Hendricks said he had but one message for his flock this day — turn off the television.
“What’s being played over and over again,” he said, “is stoking fear.”
Some church members said their health is in God’s hands.
“We just need to trust the Lord to solve this,” said Ted Buckley, 73, a retired salesman. “I don’t know anybody personally with coronavirus. We shouldn’t be thrown into a state of panic because of what we hear, rather than what we see and witness.”
Religion can bring out the worst and most ignorant in people, can’t it?
But hold on, let’s get nuanced. I don’t disagree with everything this fuckwit pastor said. I do agree in limiting your exposure to media, be it social or mass. Don’t spend your entire day watching CNN, Fox, Facebook, or Twitter. The term I use for my routine is, “dip in, dip out”. I launch Twitter, I skim my feed, maybe like or reply to something, and close the browser window. I dip in and I dip out.
Now for what the rocket scientist Ted Buckley said, if anyone believes in “trusting the lord to solve this” then they need to stop using modern medicine and see how long they last. They are no longer allowed to visit pharmacies, ERs, or use bandages.
If Buckley develops throat cancer, he needs to gargle with “holy” water. Leave it in god’s hands.
Google has announced that it’s partnering with the White House to create a national coronavirus website, which is totally related to whatever the hell the administration was talking about at Friday’s press conference. There, President Donald Trump vastly oversold and misattributed an upcoming, supposedly Google-run project to build a “nationwide” coronavirus screening site to direct people to nearby “drive through” testing depending on their symptoms.
In reality—as Google clarified in a frantic tweet just hours later—such a tool is barely in its trial stages at Verily, Google’s sister-company under the Alphabet umbrella, and it will only be useful for people in the San Francisco Bay Area for the foreseeable future. It purportedly wasn’t even intended to be publically available until White House staff dropped the ball.
A person familiar with the matter told the New York Times that Verily’s pilot program (not a website—that’s still yet to be announced) is planned to launch Monday and can direct Bay Area residents exhibiting flagged symptoms to a total of three testing locations. While still absolutely commendable, don’t get me wrong, that’s still significantly different and scaled-down from what Trump and co. were selling.
Anyone who works on websites and apps knows no one, not even Google, can launch a nationwide website in few days, or a few weeks. There’s many moving parts: design, development, databases, security, redundancy, HIPAA Compliance, and testing/QA to name just a few.
Friend and DE contributor Bryan Larrick on his experience with Obamacare:
Obamacare has faced regular attacks from the Republican Party, since before it was even passed. It was victim to such rhetorical fantasies as death panels and the like. The act fit in nicely with all of the other fevered conspiracy theories surrounding the Obama administration, and like all those others, none of the dastardly things said about Obamacare were true. And these false narratives about the act still hold sway among members of Congress as they pander to the extreme members of the party’s base. When he announced the AHCA, House Speaker Paul Ryan, one of the most craven men ever to serve in Congress, said, “This unified Republican government will deliver relief and peace of mind to the millions of Americans suffering under Obamacare.”
Did I write that Paul Ryan was craven? Because it actually takes some stones to stand in front of a bank of microphones and say something so utterly, completely untrue. Suffering? Suffering?! Tens of millions of Americans who did not have health insurance before Obamacare now have it. These are people who no longer have to worry about financial destruction should they get seriously ill. Also, because they have insurance, these millions are now more likely to seek out preventive care, which leads to a healthier and longer life, and lowers the overall cost of healthcare in the long run. I am one of those people.
Bryan admits the ACA is not perfect, but what Republicans are proposing with the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is straight up hostile to the people of the United States.
The term ‘Obamacare’ was a nickname Republicans came up with to place blame on Obama for creating what they saw as a horrible healthcare system. The negative connotations — and ignorance — towards ‘Obamacare’ are so strong in certain parts of the US that people will say they agree with the goals of The Affordable Care Act but don’t like Obamacare. Jimmy Kimmel was nice enough to do a multi-part series to show this in action.
I find it ironic that in hindsight, ‘Obamacare’ could end up having positive connotations in light of the shit sandwich Paul Ryan has presented with the AHCA and what many of his fellow Republicans are rejecting.
Noam N. Levey on the losers in Trump’s victory:
Americans who swept President Trump to victory — lower-income, older voters in conservative, rural parts of the country — stand to lose the most in federal healthcare aid under a Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, according to a Times analysis of county voting and tax credit data.
Among those hit the hardest under the current House bill are 60-year-olds with annual incomes of $30,000, particularly in rural areas where healthcare costs are higher and Obamacare subsidies are greater.
In nearly 1,500 counties nationwide, such a person stands to lose more than $6,000 a year in federal insurance subsidies. Ninety percent of those counties backed Trump, the analysis shows.
And 68 of the 70 counties where these consumers would suffer the largest losses supported Trump in November.
We’re seeing a scary scenario unfolding.
Oh, and the irony:
Meanwhile, higher-income, younger Americans — many of whom live in urban areas won by Democrat Hillary Clinton — stand to get more assistance in the Republican legislation.
Is this what Trump voters think “Make America Great Again” looks like?
Researchers have created a viable hybrid part-human, part-pig embryo for the first time in history. According to a study published in the journal Cell Thursday, researchers were able to successfully inject human stem cells into a pig embryo and grow tissue that would form the early stages of human organs like the heart, liver and neurons. Although it’s in the very early stages, experts believe the human-pig chimera could one day be used to grow transplantable human organs in farm animals.
Give me a second to process this.
None of those possibilities fit Kevin, who had a bone-marrow transplant for acute myeloid leukemia. It sent his cancer into remission, but left him with graft-versus-host disease.
Suffering from chronic pain and fatigue, Kevin, 57, who lives in central Michigan and asked that his last name be withheld because he had been in law enforcement, had to retire. Four years after the transplant, he despaired.
“Going through a near-death illness is similar to returning from combat,” he said. “It damages who you are, to the core of what it is to be human.”
“I was hoping to get out of this funk of waiting for the other shoe to drop,” he added. “You’re looking up to the heavens, saying ‘What else can I try?’ ”
In 2013, Kevin entered the Johns Hopkins trial. During his session, he saw spirals of iridescent spheres that folded in on themselves.
The experience did not restore him to his former life, he said, “but I have a greater sense of peace of what might come. I’m very grateful, beyond words, for this trial. But you have to approach the session with the right intentions of why you’re doing it. Because you’re going to meet yourself.”
This is incredible news for people who suffer from anxiety and depression.
The last time I ate ‘magic’ mushrooms (aka ‘shrooms’) was over 16 years ago in college. It was truly a mind-opening experience.
Even Steve Jobs raved about the profound effect LSD had on him:
Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life. LSD shows you that there’s another side to the coin, and you can’t remember it when it wears off, but you know it. It reinforced my sense of what was important—creating great things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness as much as I could.
To be clear: shrooms and LSD, while both hallucinogens, have widely varying effects on different people.
I got an Apple Watch Series 2 on October 1st and have been wearing it every day since then. It’s been interesting to see how it folds into my everyday routines and workflows. This is also the first time I’ve regularly worn a watch in over 10 years.
It’s not integral to my life like my iPhone is. It’s a nice-to-have device and I see it staying that way for the foreseeable future.
The biggest benefits to wearing an Apple Watch are ones Apple put in by design: glancing at notifications and activity tracking. I no longer have to pull out my iPhone to read texts and emails. This is great.
Regarding the activity tracking, I’ve been curious exactly how it works.
iMore has a good breakdown on how it works:
Instead of counting steps or calories, the Apple Watch focuses more on your overall health and well-being. This difference has left some Apple Watch owners baffled at their standing desks when a notification comes through that it’s time to stand; others aren’t sure why workouts they log in other App Store apps don’t show up as a workout in the Activity app. And these are all logical questions.
And on what Apple records as “exercise”:
Apple defines exercise as any activity you perform that is the equivalent of a brisk walk or more. To determine exercise, your Apple Watch looks at your heart rate and movement data. That means that things you do on a regular basis like getting up and walking around your office or taking your dog for a walk probably won’t raise your heart rate enough for the Apple Watch to deem it as exercise.
I’ve absolutely become more cognizant of my movement and exercise since wearing my Apple Watch. There was a lot of bitching when it first came out over the fact that you have to recharge it every day, unlike wearables like the Fitbit which last much longer.
I don’t see the problem. Before I go to bed I take off my watch and let it charge. Then I get up the next morning and I put it back on my wrist. Repeat.
I should also note I usually end the day (9-10pm) with 25-45% battery left, and this including regularly glancing at texts, emails, and activity.
Health officials in Arizona say the largest current measles outbreak in the United States is in part because some workers at a federal immigration detention center refuse to get vaccinated.
Pinal County Health Department leaders say detention staff are responsible for 9 of the 22 cases in Arizona.
In Casa Grande, a total of eight cases have been reported — the most in any one area.
Welcome to the modern world, now with double the number of idiots.
From The New York Times:
Ms. Nash received a full-face transplant at Brigham and Women’s Hospital two years later. She got a new forehead, nasal structure, nose, lips, nerves, facial skin and facial muscles. Her sight never returned. Doctors also performed a double hand transplant but both hands “failed to thrive” and were removed, the hospital said.
With Ms. Nash’s body beginning to reject her face, Dr. Pomahac said she would be removed from the research study.
Knowing that your body is rejecting your new face must be a hell of a morale booster. What a sad story.
Excercise is good for your brain.