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  • Initial Data Shows Covid-19 Vaccine Is More than 90% Effective

    In a press release (and not a paper in a peer-reviewed journal) based on a preliminary outside review of data from its phase 3 trial, Pfizer says its Covid-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing the disease.

    The company said that the analysis found that the vaccine was more than 90 percent effective in preventing the disease among trial volunteers who had no evidence of prior coronavirus infection. If the results hold up, that level of protection would put it on par with highly...


  • No Evidence of Voter Fraud Reported by Election Officials Nationwide

    The headline and first few paragraphs of today’s front-page story in the NY Times say it all: The Times Called Officials in Every State: No Evidence of Voter Fraud.

    Election officials in dozens of states representing both political parties said that there was no evidence that fraud or other irregularities played a role in the outcome of the presidential race, amounting to a forceful rebuke of President Trump’s portrait of a fraudulent election.

    Over the last several days, the president,...


  • What Would We Experience If Earth Spontaneously Turned Into A Black Hole?

    Let’s say the Earth turned into a black hole. What would happen to someone standing on the surface and for how long would it happen? From Ethan Siegel:

    As spectacular as falling into a black hole would actually be, if Earth spontaneously became one, you’d never get to experience it for yourself. You’d get to live for about another 21 minutes in an incredibly odd state: free-falling, while the air around you free-fell at exactly the same rate. As time went on, you’d feel the atmosphere thicken...


  • Biden’s Plans for Halting the Unchecked Spread of Covid-19 in the US

    This morning, the transition team for President-elect Joe Biden announced the members of his Covid-19 task force.

    The list includes Rick Bright, the former head of the vaccine-development agency BARDA ousted by the Trump administration in April; Atul Gawande, the surgeon, writer, and recently departed CEO of Haven, the joint JP Morgan Chase-Berkshire Hathaway-Amazon health care venture; and Luciana Borio, a former Food and Drug Administration official and biodefense specialist.

    Biden has cast...


  • “America’s Next Authoritarian Will Be Much More Competent”

    Citing international precedent and America’s anti-majoritarian systems, Zeynep Tufekci argues that the next authoritarian who runs for President will be much more competent and dangerous.

    The Electoral College and especially the Senate are anti-majoritarian institutions, and they can be combined with other efforts to subvert majority rule. Leaders and parties can engage in voter suppression and break norms with some degree of bipartisan cooperation across the government. In combination, these...


  • Anonymous Obama Gets Some Ice Cream

    Barack Obama’s A Promised Land comes out today and The Root’s Michael Harriot has a brief interview with Obama. The rest of the interview is meatier, but I like Harriott’s last question:

    Q: You are a former president and you are unquestionably the predominant role model for a generation of Black people, both of which come with a certain amount of public scrutiny. But for one day, you get to be an anonymous, everyday American who can go anywhere you want and do anything. Describe that day.

    A:...


  • Today Marks a Year of Covid-19

    According to an unpublicized report by the Chinese government, the first documented case of Covid-19 was a 55-year-old person living in Hubei province on November 17, 2019. That makes today the first anniversary of the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. From that person (and possibly earlier or concurrent cases), the disease slowly and silently spread until it was determined to be due to a novel coronavirus.

    They found that following the Nov. 17 case, about one to five new cases were reported...


  • Lessons from the Ancient World about the Political Collapse and Recovery of Self-Governing Communities

    This is a fascinating post by historian Bret Devereaux, who specializes in ancient history (esp. Rome), that looks at ancient self-governing democracies and republics in the Greek and Roman world and describes how they fell into crisis and, crucially, how they were able to recover to avoid losing that self-governance.

    But in that large sample size, we also get a sense of what solutions succeed and what solutions fail to hold together a self-governing community in these sorts of pressures. Beset...


  • “It’s Time to Hunker Down”

    Zeynep Tufekci says that a devastating third pandemic surge is upon us and that It’s Time to Hunker Down. She leads with the good news (vaccines, treatments, knowledge, testing capacity & quickness) but notes that with winter coming and a high baseline of cases from a summer not spent in preparation, now is the time to really knuckle down so that we can get to the finish line.

    Whatever the causes, public-health experts knew a fall and winter wave was a high likelihood, and urged us to get...