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cute-carrot:My dad and I collected this moon patrol the other...

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cute-carrot:

My dad and I collected this moon patrol the other day. 82 Williams. Shares a cabinet with robotron, and several other classics. The side-art is original airbrush work 💕💕💕

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ScottInPDX
7 hours ago
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Now I've got the Moon Patrol music stuck in my head. I fed a lot of quarters to that game back in the day.
Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth

#1514; In which the Question is Rhetorical

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First, spit the motor oil from your mouth and define ''unreasonably''.

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ScottInPDX
13 hours ago
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This is just brilliant. I'm putting this on the fridge.
Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth

The NRA Is Stoking Coronavirus Panic to Boost Gun Sales

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There’s a familiar scene playing out all across the country: People anxious and panicked about coronavirus are flooding stores to stock up on essential items as businesses shut down and local governments issue a stay-home-no-matter-what mandate. But along with food, water, and toilet paper, there’s another item that’s seeing a surge in sales thanks to pandemic panic: guns. 

Gun stores and firearm dealers throughout the country are reporting a big spike in sales due to coronavirus-related fears. In February, weeks before the full gravity of the coronavirus situation sunk in, the FBI’s background check system had already reported that it had 2.8 million inquiries from potential gun-buyers—up from 2 million during this time last year, and the third-highest monthly total since the agency created the system in 1998, according to the Washington Post. Since then, the situation has only worsened, with news reports and social media posts of people lining up outside of gun stores trying to arm themselves in case their worst fears becoming a reality. But the surprising reality is that it is not just preexisting gun owners stockpiling ammo and adding to their armories in a time of crisis. Many dealers have said that a lot of sales have been to first-time gun buyers, who are purchasing a firearms as a way to protect themselves amid fears that the coronavirus situation could lead to a complete societal breakdown.

That’s a talking point ripped straight from the National Rifle Association, who in the past few weeks has been using the coronavirus crisis as an opportunity to stoke paranoia, cajoling its members to stock up to stay safe during a time of societal change. “Concerns for personal safety, new limitations on the arrests of criminals in some cities, and potential gun control enacted under the guise of fighting the pandemic have Americans preparing to take responsibility for their own safety,” reads one recent article on the NRA’s website, titled “The 2A is a Constant in Times of Crisis.” On Saturday, the NRA tweeted out a video of a disabled woman arguing for the importance of guns in a time of crisis and accusing Democrats of exploiting the pandemic for political purposes. “I know from history how quickly society breaks down during the crisis,” she says in the video, “and we’ve never faced anything like this before and never is a Second Amendment more important than during public unrest.”

That the NRA would be exploiting the coronavirus crisis to push their agenda is hardly surprising to Kris Brown, the president of the gun control group Brady: United Against Gun Violence. “One of the things that they know is that the powerful force in selling guns is fear,” she says. “If you didn’t know that this is a virus transmitted between people who don’t know that they’re infected and you saw the NRA’s ads, you would think that we were in a World War.”

For David Chipman, a senior policy advisor at Giffords, the gun control group co-founded by former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords, it makes sense that the NRA and the gun industry would use the pandemic crisis to their advantage. “This is a critical opportunity for them to rebound to the highs they saw in 2016 leading up to the presidential election that year, from the lows that they saw last year,” he says. Ever since the NRA spent an unprecedented amount of money to help elect Donald Trump, the nation’s oldest gun rights organization has been spiraling out of control, thanks to infighting within the organization, financial woes, and several scandals involving its leadership. And the internal chaos has led to several public defeats when gun control has become a part of political campaigns, most notably in its own backyard of Virginia, where, in November, Democrats won control of the state legislature and passed a slew of gun control bills. 

As Chipman sees it, the coronavirus pandemic is the perfect opportunity for the NRA to push its pro-gun message, especially as state governors begin to exercise their crisis-time powers, shutting down all non-essential businesses—including gun stores. “It’s interesting to see the intensity with which they are trying to drive the narrative that guns are an essential product to Americans, like food or access to health care,” he says. In an article the NRA published on Friday, the organization slammed San Jose and Philadelphia for shutting down gun stores as “non-essential” businesses, writing that in a time of crisis “there is no more basic imperative, in good times and bad, than providing for the safety and security of families and loved ones.” 

Right now, it’s unclear what’s going into each state politician’s decision to keep gun stores open, or close them. In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses, which includes gun stores, as did the sheriff of Los Angeles. But the Democratic governors of Connecticut and Pennsylvania both declared that gun stores are one of the few “essential” businesses that could remain open while most other stores are ordered closed, earning praise from the NRA. “A lot of these folks are first-time gun owners who are panic-buying are not your traditional gun rights advocates, and it it never occurred to them until two weeks ago to even purchase a gun,” Brown says. “So it may be that these governors don’t want to alienate those folks too. All politics boils down to who’s voting for you.”

As people of all stripes continue to flock to gun stores, Brown says she empathizes with the “fight or flight instinct” that many people are experiencing right now in this time of crisis. It’s understandable that people who have never thought about purchasing a gun before might be inspired to now, as the coronavirus crisis worsens around the world and many people’s fears aren’t calmed by the Trump administration’s response to the situation. But the NRA’s rhetoric during this time, she feels, is completely motivated by politics. “They do it because they want to sell more guns,” she says. “They don’t care about the impact on people’s psyche. It’s the same sentiment for Chipman. “They’re taking advantage of a situation and certainly putting fuel on the fire,” he adds. “There’s no question about that.”

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ScottInPDX
7 days ago
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God damn it America.
Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth

March Sadness: The Self-Quarantined Bracket

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It’s time to fill out those brackets :(

Remember this time last year when the worst things we could think of were adult acne and getting ghosted by your therapist? March Sadness 2020 is here to tell you that you’ve always been a spoiled jerk who took absolutely everything for granted before this, and now you don’t even get to make fun of basketball.

So here’s a sad new tournament bracket for the saddest March yet. You know how it works: Horrible seeds in four divisions battle it out for the title of Absolute Worst. There are no winners, there are only people who are still saying they are “young and healthy and will be fine.” :(

- - -

Click image to enlarge

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ScottInPDX
9 days ago
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I think this bracket will go on my home office wall...
Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth

For Years Wall Street Spent More on Buybacks and Dividends than It Actually Earned. Now They Want a Taxpayer Bailout

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ScottInPDX
14 days ago
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I say let's let the market decide the fate of these companies. Or if the gov needs to bail them out, they need to issue shares in exchange and the gov gets to sell them off when their value exceeds X or 3 years, whichever comes first.
Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth
fxer
14 days ago
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> Boeing spent $52bil on buybacks and now wants a $60bil bailout?
Bend, Oregon

We May Be In This for the Long Haul…

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Note: I feel the need to add a disclaimer to this post. This was a really hard thing to read for me and it might be for you too. It is a single paper from a scientific team dedicated to the study of infectious diseases — it has not been peer reviewed, the available data is changing every day (for things like death rates, transmission rates, and potential immunity), and there might be differing opinions & assumptions by other infectious disease experts that would result in a different analysis. Even so, this seems like a possibility to take seriously and I hope I’m being responsible in sharing it.

This is an excellent but extremely sobering read: Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID19 mortality and healthcare demand, a 20-page paper by the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team (and a few other organizations, including the WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Modelling).

The paper is technical in nature but mostly written in plain English so it’s pretty readable, but here is an article that summarizes the paper. It discusses the two main strategies for dealing with this epidemic (mitigation & suppression), the strengths and weaknesses of each one, and how they both may be necessary in some measure to best address the crisis. For instance, here’s a graph showing the effects of three different suppression scenarios for the US compared to critical care bed capacity:

Suppression Graph US

Two fundamental strategies are possible: (a) mitigation, which focuses on slowing but not necessarily stopping epidemic spread — reducing peak healthcare demand while protecting those most at risk of severe disease from infection, and (b) suppression, which aims to reverse epidemic growth, reducing case numbers to low levels and maintaining that situation indefinitely. Each policy has major challenges. We find that that optimal mitigation policies (combining home isolation of suspect cases, home quarantine of those living in the same household as suspect cases, and social distancing of the elderly and others at most risk of severe disease) might reduce peak healthcare demand by 2/3 and deaths by half. However, the resulting mitigated epidemic would still likely result in hundreds of thousands of deaths and health systems (most notably intensive care units) being overwhelmed many times over. For countries able to achieve it, this leaves suppression as the preferred policy option.

We show that in the UK and US context, suppression will minimally require a combination of social distancing of the entire population, home isolation of cases and household quarantine of their family members. This may need to be supplemented by school and university closures, though it should be recognised that such closures may have negative impacts on health systems due to increased absenteeism. The major challenge of suppression is that this type of intensive intervention package — or something equivalently effective at reducing transmission — will need to be maintained until a vaccine becomes available (potentially 18 months or more) — given that we predict that transmission will quickly rebound if interventions are relaxed. We show that intermittent social distancing — triggered by trends in disease surveillance — may allow interventions to be relaxed temporarily in relative short time windows, but measures will need to be reintroduced if or when case numbers rebound. Last, while experience in China and now South Korea show that suppression is possible in the short term, it remains to be seen whether it is possible long-term, and whether the social and economic costs of the interventions adopted thus far can be reduced.

If you missed the scale on the graph (it extends until March 2021) and the bit in there about closures, quarantine, and self-distancing measures needing to remain in place for months and months, the authors repeat that assertion throughout the paper. From the discussion section of the paper:

Overall, our results suggest that population-wide social distancing applied to the population as a whole would have the largest impact; and in combination with other interventions — notably home isolation of cases and school and university closure — has the potential to suppress transmission below the threshold of R=1 required to rapidly reduce case incidence. A minimum policy for effective suppression is therefore population-wide social distancing combined with home isolation of cases and school and university closure.

To avoid a rebound in transmission, these policies will need to be maintained until large stocks of vaccine are available to immunise the population — which could be 18 months or more. Adaptive hospital surveillance-based triggers for switching on and off population-wide social distancing and school closure offer greater robustness to uncertainty than fixed duration interventions and can be adapted for regional use (e.g. at the state level in the US). Given local epidemics are not perfectly synchronised, local policies are also more efficient and can achieve comparable levels of suppression to national policies while being in force for a slightly smaller proportion of the time. However, we estimate that for a national GB policy, social distancing would need to be in force for at least 2/3 of the time (for R0=2.4, see Table 4) until a vaccine was available.

I absolutely do not want to seem alarmist here, but if this analysis is anywhere close to being in the ballpark, it seems at least feasible that this whole thing is going to last far longer than the few weeks that people are thinking about. The concluding sentence:

However, we emphasise that is not at all certain that suppression will succeed long term; no public health intervention with such disruptive effects on society has been previously attempted for such a long duration of time. How populations and societies will respond remains unclear.

The paper is available in several languages here.

Tags: COVID-19   medicine   science
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ScottInPDX
15 days ago
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I tend to think along the same lines as this paper - we're going to be in some form of restricted society at least through the summer, and very possibly for a year or more.

We humans are going to have to figure out how to change some fundamental bits of our society to make it through this crisis. It's not going to be painless or bloodless either. Time for us all to buckle up...
Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth
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