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The return of Black Lives Matter on May 25, 2020 coincided with a historic surge in black homicide fatalities and traffic fatalities.

Black homicide victimization data is from the CDC and traffic fatality data from the NHTSA.

Here is my graph of the CDC’s count of homicide victims by race by month since 1999:

Is the Floyd Effect the most obvious phenomenon in the history of American social sciences?

 

From the New York Times opinion section:

Amanda Gorman: Why I Almost Didn’t Read My Poem at the Inauguration

Jan. 20, 2022

By Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman is a poet and the author of “The Hill We Climb” and “Call Us What We Carry.”

It’s told like this: Amanda Gorman performed at the inauguration, and the rest is history.

The truth is I almost declined to be the inaugural poet. Why?

I was terrified.

I was scared of failing my people, my poetry. But I was also terrified on a physical level. Covid was still raging, and my age group couldn’t get vaccinated yet. Just a few weeks before, domestic terrorists assaulted the U.S. Capitol, the very steps where I would recite. I didn’t know then that I’d become famous, but I did know at the inauguration I was going to become highly visible — which is a very dangerous thing to be in America, especially if you’re Black and outspoken and have no Secret Service.

It didn’t help that I was getting DMs from friends telling me not so jokingly to buy a bulletproof vest. My mom had us crouch in our living room so that she could practice shielding my body from bullets. A loved one warned me to “be ready to die” if I went to the Capitol, telling me, “It’s just not worth it.” I had insomnia and nightmares, barely ate or drank for days. I finally wrote to some close friends and family, telling them that I was most likely going to pull out of the ceremony.

I got some texts praising the Lord. I got called pathologically insane. But I knew only I could answer the question for myself: Was this poem worth it?

The night before I was to give the Inaugural Committee my final decision felt like the longest of my life. My neighborhood was eerily quiet in that early morning dark, though I strained my ears for noise to distract me from the choice that lay ahead. It felt like my little world stood still. And then it struck me: Maybe being brave enough doesn’t mean lessening my fear, but listening to it. I closed my eyes in bed and let myself utter all the leviathans that scared me, both monstrous and minuscule. What stood out most of all was the worry that I’d spend the rest of my life wondering what this poem could have achieved. There was only one way to find out.

By the time the sun rose, I knew one thing for sure: I was going to be the 2021 inaugural poet. I can’t say I was completely confident in my choice, but I was completely committed to it.

I’m a firm believer that often terror is trying to tell us of a force far greater than despair. In this way, I look at fear not as cowardice but as a call forward, a summons to fight for what we hold dear. And now more than ever, we have every right to be affected, afflicted, affronted. If you’re alive, you’re afraid. If you’re not afraid, then you’re not paying attention. The only thing we have to fear is having no fear itself — having no feeling on behalf of whom and what we’ve lost, whom and what we love.

On the morning of Inauguration Day, I went through the motions of getting ready on autopilot, mindless and mechanical, doing my hair and makeup even as I anxiously practiced my poem. On the way to the Capitol, I recited the mantra I say before any performance: I am the daughter of Black writers. We’re descended from freedom fighters who broke their chains, and they changed the world. They call me.

… If nothing else, this must be known: Even as we’ve grieved, we’ve grown; even fatigued, we’ve found that this hill we climb is one we must mount together. We are battered but bolder, worn but wiser. I’m not telling you to not be tired or afraid. If anything, the very fact that we’re weary means …

And yes, I still am terrified every day. Yet fear can be love trying its best in the dark. So do not fear your fear. …

And the rest is history.

And she changed the world … forever.

 

Within 280 characters, what else can you fit in that Today’s Youth know about American history?

Here’s an updated version to work with:

When white supremacist cop Kyle Rittenhouse crossed a state line to shoot George Floyd and Emmett Till on January 6, 1619, it was yet another lynching of all Black bodies, who built our democracy and invented the lightbulb but were redlined by FDR out of generational home equity.

To paraphrase what singer David Allan Coe told songwriter Steve Goodman after Goodman claimed “You Never Even Called Me By Name” is the perfect country song: It’s not bad, but where is “lived experience,” “emotional labor,” “intersectionality,” “exhaustion,” and “touched my hair”?

 

Handel’s Messiah is a rare work of high art that most people enjoy and a large number have actually performed in. Not surprisingly, Canadians are worked up over what Handel’s Messiah has to do with George Floyd in the same way that Canadians decided that the topic of “Rembrandt in Amsterdam” required repeated references to Turtle Island.

From MSN:

Handel’s ‘Messiah’ today: How classical music is contending with its colonial past and present

Nina Penner, Assistant Professor of Music, Brock University and Caryl Clark, Professor of Musicology, Faculty of Music, University of Toronto 2021-12-23

No work of western classical music is more closely associated with the Christmas season than German-born composer George Frideric Handel’s Messiah, which premiered in 1742. …

Even before the global Black Lives Matter protests, a 2018 report written for the non-profit Orchestras Canada by writer and arts consultant Soraya Peerbaye and violinist and ethnomusicologist Parmela Attariwala documents “systemic inequity and coloniality in Canadian orchestras,” ranging from orchestras’ leadership and governance structures to their repertoire and working methods. Music scholars have also been grappling with the colonial legacy of classical music, including Handel’s investments in the slave trade. …

How these two Canadian companies chose to respond to our contemporary context of anti-racist calls when interpreting Messiah provides an opportunity to have a conversation about how performers and audiences of western classical music can engage more fully in anti-colonial and anti-racist work.

To these questions, we, two white settler scholars

To claim the identity of a white settler scholar, should you have to have personally busted sod? For example, the closest I ever came to settling the American West was growing up in ranch house (on a culdesac).

, bring our combined research expertise in music of the 18th century and how indie opera companies in Canada are helping works from the past speak to contemporary issues. One of us (Nina) is involved in a project, “Exploring New Collaborative Models in Indigenous-led Opera in Canada.” …

Against the Grain Theatre’s new interpretation of Messiah, Messiah/Complex, hoped to support Indigenous and underrepresented voices within their mandate of presenting familiar pieces “in innovative ways and in unusual venues.” They decided to present Handel’s orchestral music as originally written, to be performed by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, but they hired all Indigenous, Black or racialized singer soloists, 12 in total.

Joel Ivany, AtG’s founder and artistic director, partnered with Reneltta Arluk, director of Akpik Theatre and of Indigenous Arts at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity to co-direct the production. Ivany has relayed that artists were invited to choose the interpretive frame and language for their performances. The film features segments in Arabic, Dene, English, Inuktitut, Inuttitut, French and Southern Tutchone.

… a New York Times headline on writer Dan Bilefsky’s story declared Handel’s work “freed from history’s bonds.”

Another production based on Handel’s work, Electric Messiah by Soundstreams was billed as “a full-length music video that reimagines Handel’s classic for today’s world” and “brings the past to life in a fresh way that reflects the city we live in.”

In keeping with Soundstreams’s mandate to showcase the work of living composers, the company made minimal changes to the texts. Instead, the artists fit these texts with new music with influences from electronic dance music, pop, and hip hop.

We’ll keep Handel’s words but replace Handel’s music! What could go wrong? Are you saying we can’t come up with just as good music as Handel? But we’re diverse!

… Classical music’s colonial legacy
In Peerbaye and Attariwala’s Orchestras Canada report, they call on Canadian orchestras “to create non-hierarchical environments where the artistic inquiries of Indigenous artists and artists of colour can take place.” Engaging in “wider conversations about the experiences of Indigenous people, people of colour, and other equity-seeking communities” will enable orchestras to “cultivate equal and reciprocal relationships that meaningfully support current artistic inquiries.”

These recommendations are echoed in Hungry Listening: Resonant Theory for Indigenous Sound Studies, a recent book by Stó:lō scholar and artist Dylan Robinson. He notes that the problem with including more diverse artists and traditions, without altering existing ways of working, is that even the “best intentions of integration continue to reinforce and maintain the hierarchical dominance of art music as the genre to which other music must conform.”

Equitable collaborations with musicians in other traditions are going to involve working in new ways. Robinson also recommends foregrounding the irreconcilable nature of different musical traditions. Allowing these differences to be heard might foster greater openness to the notion that reconciliation cannot be achieved through Indigenous “inclusion” in existing colonial models.

… Nêhiyaw-Michif (Cree-Métis) baritone Jonathon Adams described their performance as a “commentary on what it means to be Two-Spirit and Indigenous in Alberta.” The performance juxtaposed shots of an oil refinery with the surrounding lands and waters of their homeland.

AtG featured singers outside of the western classical tradition, several of whom are also songwriters or composers. However, their compositional skills were not showcased. AtG’s decision to have the Toronto Symphony Orchestra supply the backing tracks may suggest that, in addressing the industry’s prevailing whiteness, nothing about the sound of western classical music need change — that all that is required is to employ more Indigenous, Black and racialized artists. But this approach ignores critiques of how the sounds and values of classical music can “constitute a structural barrier to diversification,” as noted by Chris Jenkins, violist, musicologist and associate dean at Oberlin Conservatory.

Agency to singers and musicians
Soundstreams gave singers and musicians more agency with respect to the music. Adam Scime, composer and music director for the 2020 edition of Electric Messiah, notes that they invite the musicians involved in each iteration to “bring their own voice to sculpt the project” and that they “give everyone equal collaborative footing.”

Equal collaborative footing with Handel.

In keeping with Robinson’s recommendations, individual artists in Electric Messiah maintained sovereignty over their segments. Meanwhile viewers are encouraged to appreciate the differences between, for example, SlowPitchSound’s turntablism, Métis and French-Canadian composer Ian Cusson’s O Death, O Grave, and Scime’s “Hallelujah” chorus reimagined as a beach dance party. In so doing, Soundstreams not only explored new, more equitable ways of working together but the sonic results questioned the hegemony of the western classical tradition. …

The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

 

 

I can’t say this is 100% legit, but it looks plausible:

Sketches used by the Soviet police to identify suspects based on ethnicity, 1960s

Everybody is drawn to look like a character actor, except the Gypsy who is portrayed as a leading man.

 

From the Daily Mail:

Library security guard is viciously attacked by pit bull after approaching passed-out owner to administer Narcan as overdoses and crimes surge out of control in San Francisco

 

According to a new Pew report, 12% of black residents of the US are now foreign-born immigrants and an additional 9% of blacks have at least one black immigrant parent.

Immigrants tend to prop up overall black statistics: e.g., black immigrants average \$57,200 income per year compared to \$42,000 per year for American-born blacks. And 31% of black immigrants have bachelor’s degrees vs. 22% of American-born blacks.

African immigrants are particularly well-educated with 41% being college graduates, with Nigerians the leaders at 64%.

All this suggests that to figure out what’s going on with descendants of American slaves over the decades, it’s now necessary to subtract out the immigrants.

An important question is how the second and third generations are doing. Unfortunately, Pew doesn’t report on that.

 

Last year, I watched the hit Netflix satirical Killer Comet movie Don’t Look Up from Adam McKay, Will Ferrell’s former writer, but couldn’t think of much of pressing interest to say about the Killer Comet film. Apparently, however, huge numbers of people have watched it and argued over it, so let me jot down what little I do have to say.

I have rather low standards for comedy films, so I enjoyed it even though it’s not very funny. It’s not the satire I would have made about our current politics, but I didn’t make it and McKay did.

But, then, my expectations for McKay’s movies are low. As I explained about his Oscar-nominated 2018 Dick Cheney biopic Vice:

And as a screenwriter, McKay is scattershot, giving the impression that he spent the George W. Bush era hate-watching Fox News and now intends to have his say on absolutely everything that happened ten to eighteen years ago. Rather than focusing on a single dramatic arc, such as Cheney’s two wars with Iraq, McKay can’t keep himself from inserting brief references to multitudinous nearly forgotten imbroglios, such as whether Cheney could meet with oil company CEOs in secret—controversies that weren’t very exciting even when they were happening. Vice winds up being neither tragic nor comic: It’s like Anchorman without laughs.

So I wasn’t expecting much from Don’t Look Up and wasn’t disappointed when I didn’t get too much from McKay.

Don’t Look Up is an allegory about climate change or covid or what have you with a pudgy, boring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence (with a distracting nose ring — a nose ring on a young woman portends Trouble with a Capital T, except in this movie about how everybody is distracted by celebrity trivia from What’s Really Important in which nobody ever mentions her nose ring). They play astronomers who discover a comet that is about to hit the earth and exterminate the human race.

But the lady President (Meryl Streep as a cross between Sarah Palin and Donald Trump) is too busy with the midterm elections to implement the federal bureaucracy’s foolproof plans.

So the scientists go to the media. But then everything gets politicized and personalized with the social media masses deciding as one that they love the overweight dweeby middle-aged white male professor and hate the spunky, voluptuous young woman grad student.

Sure …

When the comet appears in the night sky, Democrats say “Just Look Up” and Republicans, being anti-The Science morons, chant “Don’t Look Up” because they don’t believe in comets. After all, who is more aware of the night sky: downtown Democrats or rural Republicans?

At least Vice featured three fine performances: Christian Bale as Cheney, Amy Adams as Mrs. Cheney, and Sam Rockwell as George W, with only Steve Carrell misfiring as Rumsfeld. In contrast, only one minor player in “Don’t Look Up” is better than expected.

DiCaprio is as unappealing as I’ve ever seen him: for a leading man, he’s such an expert actor that when you tell him to be boring, he’s really boring. Also, he’s always had a weird looking face, so he always needs to diet down to what I imagine he finds an uncomfortable leanness to not look puffy. But he plays his astronomer realistically at the star’s between-movies-on-the-beach-with-a-supermodel usual 25 pounds overweight, which is not a pretty sight.

And there’s a dumb plot twist halfway through involving Mark Rylance (the amateur sailor in Dunkirk) as an autistic tech billionaire.

As President Streep’s son and chief of staff, Jonah Hill plays The Jonah Hill Character, same as in a funnier apocalypse movie, This Is the End.

I didn’t recognize Cate Blanchett as a Fox News blonde. Botox? Work done?

On the plus side, as a Rust Belt Christian skate punk, I liked Timothée Chalamet more than in any other of his movies I’ve seen, and almost felt like forgiving him for how his name is spelled.

Apparently, Don’t Look Up is what Americans want these days: a mediocre movie they can argue over politically without the distractions of good performances, witty lines, or clever plotting.

 

From the Washington Post:

NFL home-field advantage was endangered before the pandemic. Now it’s almost extinct.

By Adam Kilgore and Neil Greenberg

January 14, 2022|Updated January 14, 2022 at 9:20 p.m. EST

The experience of soccer teams playing in front of empty stadiums during the pandemic suggests that the home field advantage is mostly due to cheering.

Visiting teams used to have objective disadvantages such as small, lousy locker rooms, but most more modern stadiums assign ample facilities to visitors. (In baseball, in contrast, since the 1990s, stadium design has favored quirky outfield fence angles to give the home team an advantage.)

I’m not, however, wholly convinced by this graph that there’s been a permanent decline in home field advantage. NFL home teams won 60% of their games as recently as 2018.

One other thing that is going on is that there have been three recent moves of NFL franchises, all to tourist towns with lots of visitors in the seats rooting for the visiting team: the Rams and Chargers to Los Angeles, and the Raiders to Las Vegas.

 
Jun-Dec 2018 Jun-Dec 2019 Avg Jun-Dec 2018-19 Jun-Dec 2020 Chg 2020 vs 2018-19
Black 5,745 6,178 5,962 9,115 53%
White 3,228 3,071 3,150 3,800 21%
Hispanic 1,810 1,939 1,875 2,613 39%
Am Indian 174 196 185 239 29%
Asian 214 228 221 224 1%
Total 11,171 11,612 11,392 15,991 40%

The much lauded Racial Reckoning began with George Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020. Unlike virtually every other pundit, I was adamant from the beginning that the return of the Black Lives Matter movement would get more blacks shot by blacks. So, I’m taking various victory laps trying to find the best way to get across what actually happened.

The CDC’s newly released counts of homicide victims by race by month confirms my foresight. If you treat the last seventh months of 2020, June-December, as the George Floyd Era and compare it to the number of homicides for the same seven months in the average of 2018 and 2019, then you see that black homicide deaths were up 53% during the George Floyd Era.

Hispanics died in large numbers too, up 39%, followed by American Indians (+29%), and whites (+21%).

Interestingly, despite all the blanket coverage of hate crimes against Asians, the total number of Asian homicide victims was only one percent higher during 2020 last seven months, during the pandemic than in the average of the two previous years.

 

Portrait of Juan de Pareja by Velasquez

From my new column in Taki’s Magazine:

Rembrandt never left the Netherlands in his life, but the recent Rembrandt in Amsterdam exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada still managed to obsess, in the style of our times, over slavery, colonialism, and racism. The Ottawa museum announced, with a straight face:

The Dutch Republic of Rembrandt’s time had a very clear connection with the history of Turtle Island via contact between Indigenous peoples and Dutch settlers and through the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade.

Indeed, in the exhibition materials, it’s Turtle Island all the way down:

Rembrandt’s life coincided with many significant developments in the early contact period with Turtle Island…

But, of course, as important as the First Nations of Turtle Island are to understanding Rembrandt in Amsterdam, blacks cannot be ignored either. As The Globe and Mail explains:

At the heart of the gallery’s new Rembrandt exhibition, half a dozen portraits of beautiful 17th-century ladies in black white-collar dresses confront a collection of everyday stainless steel teaspoons recently assembled by the Congolese-Canadian artist Moridja Kitenge Banza. …

The fundamental problem facing art museums in the Age of George Floyd is that history’s designated bad guys—white men—produced vastly more of history’s best art than did the official good guys, such as blacks and New World Indians.

To assuage the wounded amour propre of the presently privileged, the National Gallery put up a placard announcing that the historical shortage of Old Master paintings by blacks is the fault of white men:

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN
Slavery and colonialism caused immense human suffering and loss of life. These practices also had other, less obvious repercussions. For instance, while artists flourished in cities such as Amsterdam during the era of slavery, producing a rich culture and leaving wonders to behold centuries later, the opportunity to do the same was stripped from the enslaved. Although Black subjects exist in European art from this period, few artworks were actually created by Black diasporic people during this time due to slavery and anti-Black racism. What might have been if chattel slavery had not taken place? How many “master” artists were lost during those centuries?

Read the whole thing there.

 

According to new CDC data on deaths by homicide, prior to the Racial Reckoning, the number of blacks who died in homicides in one month had not reach 1,000 in any month in this century, not even September 2001. But black homicide victims reached four-figures for each of the last eight months of 2020 from May 2020 through December 2020.

Black Lives Matter advocates have some explaining to do.

The CDC has finally released its 2020 figures for homicide victims based on death certificates by race/ethnicity into its interactive WONDER database. These match up overall pretty well with the FBI’s homicide totals, which are based on police reports. The FBI reported a record 29.4% increase in total murders and the CDC reported 28.4% increase in total homicides.

One advantages of the CDC numbers over the FBI numbers is that they are much better distinguishing Hispanics from non-Hispanic whites. Another is that the race/ethnicity of uncleared homicide victims are included.

One advantage of the FBI figures is that they list the “known murder offender” for a majority of murders (although a large minority are uncleared.)

CDC WONDER Database 2019 Homicide Victims 2020 Homicide Victims Increase in Homicide Victims in 2020 vs. 2019 % Increase in Homicide Victims in 2020 vs. 2019 Share of Homicide Victims 2020 Rate per 100k
Black 10,030 13,594 3,564 36% 55.3% 31.2
Hispanic 3,122 3,920 798 26% 16.0% 6.4
American Indian 316 382 66 21% 1.6% 13.8
White 5,264 6,256 992 19% 25.5% 3.1
Asian/Pacific 369 373 4 1% 1.5% 1.8
Unstated 40 51 11 28% 0.2%
Total 19,141 24,576 5,435 28% 100.0% 7.5

So we see that blacks were 36% more likely to be homicide victims in the Year of the Racial Reckoning, 2020, compared to the bad old days of 2019. The number of black homicide victims went up from 10,030 in 2019 to 13,594 in 2020, an upsurge of 3,564 extra dead Black Bodies.

In FBI stats of known murder offenders, blacks comprised 56.3% of cleared cases, vs. blacks making up 55.3% of total homicide victims according to the CDC.

Hispanics were up a considerable 26% and Native Americans 21%

In 2020, 19% more whites died by homicide than in 2019.

Asians were only 1% more murdered in 2020, despite Trump’s practically genocidal use of the term “Chinese flu.”

And, looked at by month, the big murder surge of 2020 is basically blacks getting killed during the racial reckoning that began in May 2020.

 

Here’s the homicide victims by month from 2018 to 2020:

Black White Hispanic
1/18 784 541 270
2/18 670 419 235
3/18 710 442 248
4/18 795 462 255
5/18 839 439 231
6/18 855 483 280
7/18 898 528 279
8/18 816 445 281
9/18 833 461 251
10/18 792 438 222
11/18 719 445 256
12/18 832 428 241
1/19 789 499 230
2/19 670 401 235
3/19 741 427 245
4/19 735 423 226
5/19 917 443 254
6/19 908 438 255
7/19 915 471 290
8/19 895 378 296
9/19 890 447 248
10/19 826 442 282
11/19 856 437 269
12/19 888 458 299
1/20 887 459 307
2/20 721 441 235
3/20 791 558 286
4/20 930 474 269
5/20 1150 524 311
6/20 1310 543 314
7/20 1416 581 347
8/20 1325 545 444
9/20 1237 496 369
10/20 1338 570 372
11/20 1272 507 373
12/20 1217 558 394
 

Crows often cooperate with other crows to attack and drive away bigger raptors such as hawks or even bald eagles. In other words, crows are speciesist.

My vague impression is that crows are slowly taking over Southern California from less team-oriented birds. For example, mourning doves are now much reduced in numbers compared to the later 20th century.

(Still, I can remember the one day in 1970 when mourning doves arrived in a colossal flock of tens of thousands that circled high over the San Fernando Valley. I’d never seen mourning doves before, but they were common for decades after that day. Unlike crows, they never seemed very bright or effectual, though.

So who knows what the past was really like? It’s common to have a mental model of the ecology of the past as being in a fine, self-maintaining balance of biodiversity. But over a long enough period of time, all sorts of crazy things have happened in nature. E.g., I can remember one October when a 100-yard-long grove of dozens of big trees was completely covered from ground to crown in spider webs.

So maybe the current crow supremacy trend is just a reversion to the past?)

On the other hand, up at Franklin Canyon reservoir, I often see a few different species of ducks paddling around together. As generations of cartoon ducks have instructed us, ducks aren’t always the most even-tempered live-and-let-live creatures, but they don’t seem to mind sharing their watery turf with other species of ducks. How come?

 

I’m figuring something like Alistair Spode-Featherstonehaugh.

If you read carefully all the way to the end of a New York Times news article, you can usually figure out what’s going on. But “Don’t Unsettle the Incurious Subscribers Who’d Rather Not Know” seems to be a general policy.

 

Via Marginal Revolution, here’s a story about a young lady who has always had a knack for remembering and recognizing faces.

As a child, Yenny Seo often surprised her mother by pointing out a stranger in the grocery store, remarking it was the same person they passed on the street a few weeks earlier. Likewise, when they watched a movie together, Seo would often recognise “extras” who’d appeared fleetingly in other films.

Some Australian scientists led by David White were studying people who get a knock on the head and lose the ability to recognize faces. Then they decided to look at the other other end of the scale and study “super recognizers” who can reliably pick out individuals they’ve seen only once from photos of crowds. Ms. Seo scored in the 99.9th percentile of the test the Australians made up.

You can take Dr. White’s test here.

I scored below average, barely better than random:

On the UNSW Face Memory Test you scored 20 out of 40.

The first test first shows you formal mug shot-style photos of, apparently, unsmiling college students in Australia, then shows you informal snapshots of smiling young people and asks you to pick out the ones you were shown before.

On the UNSW Face Sorting Test you scored 51 out of 80.

The second test shows you a picture and then asks which of the next four snapshots are of the original person. Note that the wrong answer pictures are not random but were picked because they look similar to the people in the right answers.

Your overall score on the UNSW Face Test was 59%.

For your information, based on the first 6300 participants on the UNSW Face Test:

Top 5% scored 72% and above

Top 10% scored 69% and above

Top 25% scored 65% and above

Top 50% scored 61% and above

In my defense, it’s a hard test. It appears to use photos of college students in Australia, with no older or younger people, and lots of Asians, who, I’m guessing, are harder to tell apart.

I look forward to op-eds by Asian girls about how their lives were ruined forever when some white person once got them confused with some other Asian girl.

It would be interesting to see how the latest facial recognition software does on this test.

I wonder which sex is better at facial recognition?

 

 

From CBS News in Los Angeles:

Train Derailment Causes Road Closures In Lincoln Heights

By CBSLA Staff January 15, 2022 at 5:24 pm

LINCOLN HEIGHTS — According to officials from the University of Southern California, a train has become derailed from its tracks in the Lincoln Heights area, causing several road closures in the vicinity.

Lincoln Heights is just north of downtown Los Angeles, east of Dodger Stadium, where the railroad tracks follow the L.A. River.

A Union Pacific official told CBS that 17 containers were impacted in the incident, which is located at LATC rail yard, the same spot where reports of vandalism and theft have made headlines over recent days.

As I posted on Thursday.

Back in 2018, I wrote about how often freight trains are derailed in Mexico by robbers. Not everything in Mexico spreads across the border, but sometimes what happens in Mexico doesn’t stay in Mexico.

 

When I saw this, I had no idea what incident this tweet is referring to.

Nowadays, I hear the #Frontlash before even hearing what trouble some Muslims have gotten themselves up to …

It’s like a Norm Macdonald one-liner:

 

As in Johannesburg a few weeks ago, new cases of the Omicron covid variant are now falling in New York City, with this Friday’s number of new cases a little under half of last Friday’s. Moreover, ICU’s are not particularly packed, at least not yet: e.g., NYU’s medical center has 65 ICU beds empty.

The Omicron variant probably arrived in the US at either New York’s JFK or Washington’s Dulles airport and then spread to other major air route big cities, and then from there into the hinterlands. So, other cities are behind NYC and DC, but they are starting to look like they may be past their peaks too.

Chicago’s Cook County has seen a drop of approaching 50% in new cases since a week ago, and Los Angeles just had its first day in this wave with fewer cases than one week before.

In Los Angeles, for instance, about 0.4% of the population are registering newly positive each day in official tests shared with the public health authorities. If, say, for every person who gets an official positive test, there are four more who get infected without going into a database, I’m guessing that Omicron might tend to peak out in a metropolis at around 2% of the local population getting infected per day. At that rate, after awhile, there aren’t that many people left to infect.

There’s a new study from the big Kaiser Permanente HMO in Southern California of over 50,000 covid cases in December. It found about three-fourths Omicron, one fourth Delta. But because Omicron didn’t sink in in L.A. until the last third of the month, patient-days after testing positive are roughly equally divided in the sample between the old Delta and the new Omicron strain (a few % more Omicron patient-days)

This study, like several others, shows the new version to be less severe. Hospital stays averaged a median of 4.9 days for Delta and 1.5 for Omicron. (They eliminated from the study people who came into the hospital for some other reason and then were incidentally found to have covid as well.)

Worst Events Delta Omicron

ICU 23 7

Ventilator 11 0

Death 14 1

(I can’t tell, though, whether these are separate outcomes or if the worse events mostly happened to be people already counted in the ICU row.)

On the other hand, Omicron didn’t much get to SoCal until the second half of December so these ratios could narrow with more time. On the other other hand, 84% of admitted Omicron patients had been discharged from the hospital by the end of the study on January 1st vs. 78% of Delta patients.

Also, a higher percentage of Omicron patients were age 20-39.

But, in general, the Omicron experience looks nasty but quick.

The mRNA vaccines were less efficacious at preventing a symptomatic hospital admission for the new Omicron strain than for the recent Delta strain. If I’m reading Table S3 correctly, among Kaiser clients who tested positive as outpatients for covid in December, two doses of Pfizer or Moderna cut your chances of being admitted to the hospital for Delta by 85%. In contrast, two shots cut your chances of being admitted for Omicron by 64%.

Interestingly, booster shots didn’t seem to have a noticeable incremental effect. Presumably, though, people who got booster shots tended to be older (and thus more vulnerable to needing to go to the hospital) and/or to have gotten their first two shots earlier in 2021 than people who didn’t get a booster shot, so the third shot likely has a modest beneficial effect. Hopefully, the authors will release their crosstabs on vaccination status.

I don’t see any data in this study relevant to the question of whether the vaccines slow the spread of Omicron, but it seems likely they aren’t doing much. They do seem to still be reducing hospitalizations by almost 2/3rds, which is important but less than the 5/6ths seen with Delta.

What about the future? If there are fundamental structural reasons that there is a trade-off so that more infectiousness goes along with less lethality, then Omicron won’t be a fluke and future variants should tend to evolve to be even more spreadable and even milder. One theory is that Omicron is so infectious because it hangs around in your upper respiratory tract from where it’s easily spread rather than burrowing into your lungs like previous variants that did more harm.

On the other hand, if it’s just random luck that this more infectious variant happens to be less dangerous, then the future is unwritten.

Another question is how long natural immunity to Omicron lasts. Just as the vaccines have lower efficacy against this version of covid, it could be that the natural immunity induced by Omicron is weaker and/or shorter in duration.

Hopefully, therapeutics like Pfizer’s new Paxlovid set of pills will prove safe and effective. At the moment, both Paxlovid and the one monoclonal antibody that works on omicron, sotrovimab, are in very short supply. But it seems not unlikely that we will get a reprieve for awhile so that if — or perhaps when — the next damn thing comes along, we’ll by then have enough of these two medicines on hand.

I’m guessing the next few weeks will be a giant hassle with lots of people out of work. Try not to suffer an appendicitis right now.

But then things should get better … at least for awhile, although who knows what will come along next.

It could be that January 2022 is the climax of the pandemic and it will fade away, like the 1918 Spanish Flu had its last wave in 1920.

Then again, we’ve been hopeful before.

 

The music industry doesn’t expect many popular songwriters to emerge in the future, so the trend in recent years has been to buy up all the song rights of aged rock stars for massive sums. So, the highest income musician for a recent year is not the most popular long run musician, but whoever did the biggest one time cash in for selling his song catalog that year. From Variety:

Bruce Springsteen Tops 2021’s (Nearly All-White Male) Highest-Paid Musicians List With \$590 Million

By Jem Aswad

The pandemic may have completely up-ended the music industry’s traditional business model, but artists found all kinds of ways to make many millions of dollars in 2021 — and the big winners were nearly all white and male, according to a “10 Highest Paid Musicians” list published by Rolling Stone on Friday.

The list, created by former Forbes correspondent Zack O’Malley Greenburg, not surprisingly features several artists who cashed in their song catalogs for nine-figure sums last year, with the big leader being Bruce Springsteen, who not only sold his publishing and recorded-music rights to Sony Music in December for a figure sources say was around \$550 million, but also was the rare performer to make a healthy sum from live performances, with his “Springsteen on Broadway” summer reprise.

Seven of the 10 made the list based on catalog sales, with the only exceptions being Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Taylor Swift, who had big years either with non-music ventures like West’s Yeezy shoe empire, Jay’s sale of his half of his champagne line, or a bounty of heavily streamed and sold music, like Swift’s four albums released in just 18 months (along with lucrative partnerships with Peloton and Starbucks). Also notable is a previously undisclosed \$50 million catalog deal from Blake Shelton.

And in a sad reflection of the state of the world, apart from those exceptions, the list is all older white men — with Stevie Nicks, who struck a \$100 million catalog deal with Primary Wave, just missing the cutoff.

If only white men hadn’t written so many songs that people still enjoy decades later, the world would be a better place.

 
Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, VDARE.com columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.


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