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There are basically two classes of people in this world:
 
Workers, who create something that has value, and
 
Grifters, who grift off of the wealth of workers because they claim ownership of the wealth that workers create.
 
That’s pretty much it. We can use pretty names for the grifter class, like “investors” or “venture capitalists” or “landlords” or “executives” or whatever, but in the end they make their money by claiming ownership of stuff that the worker class created, not by themselves actually creating anything. It’s basically a scam. A *useful* scam in some ways, but still a scam.
 
– Badtux the Classy Penguin

I mean, this shouldn’t even be a question. The CDC says you need the COVID-19 vaccine even if you’ve had COVID-19 — either two weeks after the last symptoms, or 90 days after the last symptoms, depending upon whether you were treated with monoclonal antibodies (if you were treated with monoclonal antibodies you have to wait 90 days for them to die out). 

But because people don’t want to read all the footnotes on the CDC site and wonder “Why?”, I’ll explain why. If you’ve recovered from COVID-19 you have antibodies to *the specific variant of COVID-19 that you were infected with*. You can still get infected with other variants of COVID-19 that are just different enough to evade the antibodies you developed to defeat the first variant.Thus we had the spectre of people getting infected with COVID-19, getting well, then infected *again* with COVID-19 — just a different variant of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the vaccines available in the United States target the spike protein of the COVID-19 virus. This spike protein is what gets the virus into cells. Most mutations of the spike protein break a coronavirus’s ability to get into cells and reproduce, so it doesn’t mutate fast or much at all. Thus a vaccine that targets the spike protein targets all currently circulating variants of COVID-19. 

The other issue is the length that the antibodies last. Your body doesn’t generate long-lasting antibodies unless it thinks you’re going to get attacked by that virus again. Generating antibodies against a one-time thing is a waste of the body’s resources. If you get sick with a mild case of COVID-19 and get well within a couple of weeks, your body goes “meh”, and never generates any long-lasting antibodies. (Note — I’m dumbing this down significantly, it’s more complex than that, but this is as good a way of thinking of it as any). As the short-term antibodies die out, within around 90 days, your immunity wanes. 

Meanwhile, most of the vaccines (other than the less effective Johnson & Johnson) give your immune system repeated jolts. What that does is tell your immune system, “ugh, this nasty is sticking around!” and it generates a longer-lasting immune response. 

Now, the next question is how much longer does this immune response last? And that… is hard to tell right now. But it looks like after about six months it starts declining again.

Thus the thought of giving *another* booster shot at about six months. The goal is to give your body yet *another* jolt and since this jolt is six months after the previous jolt, the goal is to tell your body, “hey wait, I can’t let my guard down even after six months!” and hopefully have the immunity last for years after that. This isn’t a new thing. Childhood immunization schedules often do things like this. For example, once you’re six years old, you may have had *FIVE* doses of the DTaP vaccine, spaced out to give you long lasting immunity to diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. It’s just that you don’t remember these shots because you were a smol child. Meanwhile, us oldy moldies know about the Shingrix shot. You space that out a couple of months for the same reason.

So anyhow, that’s the science behind the CDC’s recommendations, more or less. Yeah, I simplified it somewhat, I don’t want to talk about the different kinds of immune responses and so forth that are triggered by viruses and vaccines, but there *is* science behind it. Meanwhile, there’s no — zero — science behind any advice that says “don’t get immunized if you already had COVID-19.” That…. just isn’t correct. There’s not a single scientific paper *anywhere* saying that you get long-lasting immunity against COVID-19 merely by having COVID-19.  That’s just not how upper respiratory viruses work, whether we’re talking the common cold, influenza… or SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

— Badtux the Healthcare Penguin

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Here’s the problem: Social media isn’t a charity. It’s run for profit.

There’s an interesting anomoly here: The most heavily curated social media, like Nextdoor and Facebook, is also the most overrun by racist science deniers.

Which doesn’t seem to make sense. If you have moderators who are overseeing the site, how come they don’t deal with racism and science denial when they see it?

Well, there’s two kinds of moderators, both of which are cheap (or even free) and are used in order to save money. The first kind is volunteers. And volunteers swing towards those who have the most time to volunteer: Old white people. Old people of color are busy raising their grandkids (raising the kids is a community affair there), while younger white people generally don’t want their racist conservative old folks involved in raising their kids. 

So the volunteers tend to overlook much of the racism on these sites, because hey, they came of age when the n-word was in daily use amongst white people and everybody “knew” that those “porch monkeys” were just inferior to white poeple, so they just don’t see racism as, well, racism. And when it comes to science, well, they just don’t understand all that newfangled stuff. So they go with whatever Faux News says, since they’re also a demographic that heavily watches Faux News.

The second kind of moderators tend to be poorly educated white Southerners. They’re hired because they’re cheap. You can go into someplace like Jacksonville Florida and hire a whole building full of what we’d call “poor white trash” back in the day for less than it’d cost to hire that same building full of people in India, once you consider training costs and the extra costs of dealing with bribes and bad infrastructure in India. Thing is, they’re even more poorly educated than the Indians would be. And racist. And don’t understand anything about science, so they go with whatever right-wing media says, since they’re also a demographic that is heavily viewers of white-wing media.

So that’s the dillema. We want accurate science on social media. We don’t want racism on social media. But the most heavily curated social media is the worst social media *because* it’s most heavily curated — because the curators themselves are racist science deniers due to social media hiring the cheapest labor they can find. The end result is that anti-racist voices are drowned out, and pro-science activists are actively censored on those platforms. Because. Money. Money trumps all. The good of society…. bah, when did that ever make investors rich?!

  • Badtux the Gresham’s Law Penguin

 

Hint: NEXTDOOR!

I am, of course, talking about Nextdoor.com. I got brigaded by the anti-vaxxers there, who managed to get me suspended for “COVID-19 misinformation” for posting information from public health web sites and reputable journals like Nature. After some thought, I requested that they delete my account, because when I thought back to all of my interactions on Nextdoor, few of them were positive or “neighborly”. It was just stress and ugliness dealing with all the racist old white science-denier people there. 

So now I no longer get to read about how homeless people should all be rounded up and put into prisons for camping on public property, or hey there’s a brown person walking down my street what should I do, or COVID-19 is just like the common cold, or any of that. Of course, they dog whistle it better than that, but the reality is that Nextdoor’s moderators are all racist old white people, and Nextdoor’s customer service staff of young white liberal arts college grads wouldn’t know the difference between a rhinovirus and a coronavirus if you sat them down in front of a whiteboard and diagrammed it for them. So. What am I missing now that Nextdoor is gone from my phone? Not much that I can think of. Other than stress and ugliness, and who wants that?

  • Badtux the Brigaded Penguin

Yay Google:

image

A link to the actual song itself. Which, uhm, is an anti-war song decrying the violence that invariably accompanies war, and the people in undisclosed locations who invariably are the ones who profit from war.

This is the kind of bullshit that has Congress and the President investigating Big Tech. I thought we were through with all this censoring of anti-war songs after Pete Seeger was allowed to sing “Where Have All The Flowers Gone” on the Smothers Brothers Hour in the late 1960’s after decades of being blacklisted. But I guess we’re in a new Gilded Age where being anti-war is once again a reason to be censored, because war is good for their profit margin. Yay.

– Badtux the Censorship Penguin

I have been vaguely following the recent Britney Spears conservatorship stuff. Talk about a sordid mess. It’s clear her father only views her as his money bags and wants to retain control over her in order to continue exploiting her for money. Her father got the conservatorship because Britney was a bratty drug-addled neurotic mess, but it’s clear that nobody around Britney has her best interests in mind, just their own.

I also viewed a documentary, "Once Aurora", which follows a young Norwegian pop singer (ages 18 thru 20 at the time) through two years of her life as her management tries to build her up into an international superstar. What struck me was the difference between her life and that of Britney Spears at her age. Like Britney, she was pushed to perform to the point of exhaustion by male managers around her. Unlike Britney, she’s not a bratty drug-addled neurotic mess, her parents have a comfortable life in a beautiful home overlooking a beautiful fjord and have no desire to exploit her, only to support her (they are not wealthy, being a midwife and a garage door salesman, but nobody in Norway is truly poor like here in the United States), and even her manager, while grumpy and pushy, seems to have a respect for his young protege’ that only grows over the course of the documentary even as he is disagreeing with how tightly she is controlling what’s going onto her next album.

Then I think about the cultural differences involved here. In Norway, nobody is truly desperate. Aurora’s management could dedicate years to building up their young charge and thus give time for that mutual respect to arise between management and their young singer as they try to make her into an international superstar because Norway’s social safety net meant that nobody had to worry about being hungry homeless and starving. Aurora’s parents have a comfortable life without any input from Aurora’s money because of Norway’s egalitarian society thus have no incentive to exploit her. Thus the Aurora of this documentary seems surprisingly level-headed given the situation that she finds herself in. Yes, she’s on a bit of an emotional roller coaster, teenage girls do that drama thing really well, but all things considered she’s maintained her sanity and self-worth surprisingly well because Norwegian society is supportive, not exploitive, and while she has the record industry types trying to exploit her she also has that support from her entire society. Norwegians may consider her weird, but they also consider her one of their own.

Meanwhile, the United States is a dog-eat-dog world where you have to make all the money you can make as soon as you can make it because there’s always going to be a new face to take your place. Poor Britney was exploited from day one as her parents used their little moneybags to build an affluent lifestyle for themselves. She never had any opportunity to just be herself. The end result was the self destructive behavior that we saw once she managed to temporarily wrench herself out of their control — shaving of head, quickie marriage, etc. – and the continued neurotic and self-destructive behavior we see from Britney even as it becomes clear that the conservatorship is no longer necessary in order to protect her from herself.

If American society was more supportive rather than so exploitive, we wouldn’t burn through our most talented youth so quickly. Who knows what Britney Spears would have accomplished if most of the people around her had been supporting her rather than trying to exploit her? But then, if American society was more supportive, we wouldn’t be America, I guess, for better or for worse.

– Badtux the People-watching Penguin

* The documentary. I really can’t recommend actually buying it unless you’re fangirling over Aurora because honestly who needs to spend that kind of money just to learn about some Norwegian pop star, but pirate versions are available elsewhere on the Internet if you’re curious. 

Pure silk

"A 19-year-old girl without any prior professional music background did this. She wrote the lyrics, composed the melody, sang the song in the purest way that humans expected to connect with: no instrument, only the voice alone. It is not only beautiful. it’s magic."

Just a quibble — she was signed when she was 17, so technically she has two years of professional music experience by the time of this performance. But no formal vocal training, no formal training in songwriting. Her voice is pure silk….

Badtux the “Wish I could sing that well” Penguin

My subconscious invented a new kind of zombie last night for my morning nightmare: the Returns Zombie.

It’s five years after the zombie apocalypse. Civilization is returning, sort of. With the collapse of governments after the politicians were turned early in the epidemic because of their insistence upon glad-handing with their constituents, even the walking dead ones, there are no police forces, just private security forces like ours. We handle the hard problems — as long as you pay us. So we’d been hired to clear out an old big box store and secure it for re-opening.

Call me Slade. I was a trouble-shooter for the Company. When the ground troops ran into a situation they couldn’t handle, they called me in. And this one looked like a doozy — I counted at least two dozen blood-spattered officers standing around looking grim, most wearing body armor and carrying shotguns.

"What’s the situation, sergeant?" I asked.

"Grim, sir," the sergeant replied. "I lost two good men in there. There’s just too many of them."

Well, we had ways of handling mass zombie infestations. The owner of the building might not like our methods but (shrug). He hired us to get rid of the zombies, not to keep his building intact. I know. I read the contract on the way over.

"Brains zombies?"

"Worse, sir. Returns zombies."

I shuddered in horror. Returns zombies. The zombies of middle aged women with "I demand to see the manager" haircuts, the magpies of zombies. They collected random junk and demanded "Return…. return…." and you had to take the junk and give them a pile of cash for it or they turned into deadly screeching horrors. We’d tried giving them a store voucher for their returned goods. Once. We lost five good men that way before managing to pull back behind an armored door for two days as they moaned "Manager…. manager…." outside the door before they finally lost interest and wandered off.

Okay, we knew how to handle returns zombies. We needed a kill box. And a lot of money. Luckily returns zombies aren’t really good with numbers. A pile of one dollar bills will satisfy them even more than a single hundred dollar bill. It’d take a few hours to round up that much money but the problem was solvable.

So I sent out some men looking for a nearby kill box, and radioed headquarters to round up the cash. It wasn’t as if dollar bills were worth anything except as toilet paper anymore, after all. The current currency was potatoes. Money you could actually eat was far more practical in today’s age. There were potato banks that issued potato vouchers against the potatoes in their vaults. Luckily returns zombies haven’t figured out that potatoes — or potato vouchers — are more valuable than the dollar bills they covet. Too bad for them, but good news for us.

—-

– Badtux the Fiction Penguin

I live in a suburb slightly to the south of Oakland California, and our police department sucks up 48% of discretionary spending in our city. (36% of the total budget, but there’s things like bond repayments that aren’t discretionary). Our PD isn’t brutal and corrupt like Oakland’s, but they’re utterly ineffectual. You call them about anything — illegal fireworks, illegal sideshows, whatever — they whine that they don’t have the manpower to do anything about it due to Defund The Police, despite the fact that the PD’s budget is the highest that it has ever been in our city’s history and has not been cut or re-directed at all (our mayor is like 90 years old and doesn’t hold with any of that newfangled social work stuff).

What it is, is that they’re sulking because those meany Black Lives Matter people said bad things about them. Like fucking toddlers throwing a tantrum, they’re just smack on their back in the middle of the grocery store aisle screaming and throwing their arms and legs around because Mommy wouldn’t buy them the latest sugary cereal and instead told them they were going to eat a healthy cereal, young man. Geeze. What a bunch of crybabies….

Honestly, at this point I think “Defund The Police” would be a good idea. If they refuse to do the job even when we give them the highest budget in our city’s history, why have them?

— Badtux the “If the PD isn’t doing the job, why have them?” Penguin

Apart from the thousand or so people executed by the police every year, there are tens of thousands who are brutally beaten each year to the point of needing a visit to the ER. Many of whom are guilty of nothing but contempt of cop.

And this happens nationwide, even in supposedly “liberal” states like California.

— Badtux the Brutality Penguin