30 August 2023

Natural selection back in action

There are signs that we may be in for a resurgence of covid.  I noted this item in the last link round-up, and the growing insistence of evil bosses and politicians on dragging work-from-home employees back to offices is creating ideal conditions for infectious diseases in general to spread.  There have also been stories of a new variant emerging.  It's not clear how effective the current vaccines will be against it -- based on past experience, new versions of the vaccines tailored for it will be developed, but it's unpredictable how long this will take.

One thing that is predictable is that, if the new covid surge is seriously dangerous, some parts of the US will be hit much harder than others.  From what I'm seeing around the right-wing blogs and news sites, rejection of anti-covid defenses (vaccines, masks, etc), and denial of the seriousness or even existence of covid, are far more entrenched and militant there now than they ever were during the pandemic.  Some examples are here, here, here, here, and here -- that last is a "meme" collection, but many refer to covid defenses.  A common view is that the new covid surge is a scam contrived to bring back various restrictions as part of a plot to steal the 2024 election for the Democrats.

Given the deep commitment to such views, it's obvious that the heavily science-denialist parts of the country will almost totally reject whatever precautions the medical establishment finds necessary to combat a new covid surge -- vaccines, masks, lockdowns, or whatever else.  Even a substantial rise in the death rate will not dissuade them -- remember, most of these people are convinced that it's the vaccines, not covid, which are killing people (there is an entire fake documentary dedicated to supporting this belief).  By contrast, here in left-leaning Portland, masks are already making something of a comeback -- the last couple of times I went out shopping, I saw more people wearing masks than at any previous time in the last year or so, though they are still far from the majority.  If the government recommends a return to masks and stores start requiring them, most people here and in other "blue" cities will likely go along.  Certainly most will accept the vaccines.  And the situation will give workers a major weapon in their battle to resist the bosses' back-to-the-office campaigns.

So, depending on how deadly the new variant is, the stage will be set for another large divergence in death rates between science-denialist and science-accepting parts of the US.  There are already huge regional differences in life expectancy:
Most of the early-death counties are concentrated in "red" states and regions, while the longest life expectancies are found largely in the "blue" urban areas.  If the former reject vaccines and other defenses while the latter embrace them, and if the new variant turns out to be particularly dangerous, we could see the gap in death rates grow monstrously wide.  Once again the US will be the scene of a brutal demonstration of natural selection in action.

29 August 2023

Image round-up for 29 August 2023

More pictures, some slightly NSFW -- click for full size.

(If you're looking for the link round-up, click here.)

It's Danish and just means "quick sale"

Don't waste even a drop!

Not Chernobyl -- the owner was taking a panoramic photo of the room when the cat walked through


Pest control

Bari, Italy

The three dark-purple areas contain half of Australia's population

Seoul, South Korea

The grave of JRR Tolkien

Paris 1903