Any time you got nothing to do…

“In the rare instances where a pathogen does cross the species divide, bats are almost never to blame, Plowright says. Many cultures have a long history of hunting and eating bats and other animals for subsistence. But in recent decades, other human interactions with wild species have escalated to an unprecedented degree as urban areas balloon, forests fragment, and the global wildlife trade — including the sale of exotic luxury meats — booms. When bat viruses do make the hop to humans, it’s almost always because people have encroached into the territory of animals — not the other way around. Cross-species spillovers, which require a pathogen to be compatible with two often genetically dissimilar hosts in close contact, are extremely uncommon. But by charging into wild spaces, we humans ‘put ourselves in harm’s way,’ says Dan Crowley, a disease ecologist at Montana State University. ‘If I walk in front of a train, I’m not going to blame the train.'”
Covid-19 Reignites a Contentious Debate Over Bats and Disease, by Katherine J. Wu, Undark, 5 May 2020

“According to a growing body of research, SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is almost certainly a naturally occurring virus that initially circulated in bats then spilled into humans. But that hasn’t stopped some from trying to find a more sinister origin. ‘It seems like such an extreme event that people are looking for an extraordinary explanation for it,’ said Stephen Goldstein, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Utah who studies coronaviruses. No single piece of evidence has yet confirmed the virus’ origin. But according to scientists, the evidence that does exist paints a consistent picture of a wild virus, not one that sprang from a lab.”
Why Scientists Think The Novel Coronavirus Developed Naturally — Not In A Chinese Lab, by Philip Kiefer, 538, 4 May 2020

I suppose human malevolence is easier to understand, and less frightening, than the enormity of nature.

Human stupidity, on the other hand…

“According to the Small Business Administration, more than 1.6m businesses received funding under the government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and now that a separate round has opened up, millions more are expected to get help. But not everyone has been so lucky. There are countless small businesses that – for many reasons related to the confusing and cumbersome application process – have not and will not get anything at all. Is this you? If so, there are other options. Here are a few.”
Many small businesses won’t get help from Congress. But there are other options, by Gene Marks, The Guardian, 3 May 2020

“Jisc, a not-for-profit supplier of technology for research and education in the UK, and Lyrasis, a global non-profit membership association providing technology and content solutions for libraries, museums, and archives, are joining forces to introduce Institutional Repository Usage Statistics (IRUS) in the United States. IRUS-US is the first service to bring together standards-based usage statistics of participating repositories in the US. The service will enable US repositories to provide and gather comparable usage data, while also giving them the opportunity to benchmark usage at an international level.”
Jisc and Lyrasis team up on US repository data, by Research Information, 5 May 2020

“COVID-19 may soon put rest to one of the most persistent myths of our national car culture: that restaurants need an entire ocean of parking right outside their doors in order to survive. In communities as wildly different as Hartford, Conn. and Wheeling, W.V., cities that are easing their lockdown restrictions are finally allowing cafes to repurpose the excess asphalt outside their doors as socially distanced space for paying customers. Slate’s Henry Grabar penned a viral op-ed encouraging communities to go a step further, and let restaurants without dedicated lots close down part of the street to create instant patios, too.”
The Problem with just Giving Streets to Restaurants, by Kia Wilson, StreetsBlog, 5 May 2020

“Open hiring is a recruiting method where the first person to apply gets the job. First-in first-hired. No questions asked, no resumes, no interviews, no background checks. Regardless of people’s past, educational background, or experience. The idea behind open hiring is to give people who usually face barriers to employment a chance to work. Think of people with a criminal record, a history of substance abuse, or homelessness, but also people with a disability, a lack of work experience, or simply a fear of job interviews.”
Open Hiring: Everything You Need to Know, by Neelie Verlinden, AIHR, 4 May 2020

“‘Bookstores made the list of approved businesses that can open to curbside pick-up and home delivery. However, this does not allow for browsing,’ said Calvin Crosby, executive director of California Independent Booksellers Alliance (CALIBA). ‘I am hearing of stores that are hard at work working on compliance for what the rules will be, from no-touch credit card processing to plastic barriers to establishing sanitation schedules and procedures,’ Crosby said, but added, ‘I believe California is a long way from even limited browsing.'”
Some California Bookstores Prepare To Reopen, by Jason Boog, PW, 6 May 2020

“But ‘Never Trumpers’ are increasingly involved in the Democratic Party and have gradually shifted their tactics in that direction — effectively becoming a ‘Never Trump’ and ‘Never Bernie Sanders’ coalition. And they appear to be having more success shaping their new party than the one that many of them had been associated with for much of their lives. Here’s how that shift has happened.”
How ‘Never Trumpers’ Crashed The Democratic Party, by Perry Bacon, Jr., 538, 5 May 2020

Words… they fail me.

“All these data add up to the Covid-19 ‘infowhelm,’ the term I use to describe the phenomenon of being overwhelmed by a constant flow of sometimes conflicting information. I first recognized the current data contagion with “flatten the curve” graphs comparing how lax versus strict social distancing measures affect infection rates and the surge of hospital admissions. These graphs are relatively simple, but they spurred at least two sobering realizations that produced a storm of pleas to #stayathome: first, that the health-care system was vulnerable to collapse at a time when it is most critically necessary; second, that we were likely to see a staggering number of infections and would be wise to spread them out over time to avoid depleting health care workers and resources.”
The Covid-19 ‘Infowhelm’, by Healther Houser, NYR Daily, 6 May 2020

“Consider the following teaser: A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? A researcher devised the question 15 years ago as a measure of our ability to move past intuitive responses to deeper, reflective thinking — a concept Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist and Nobel Prize winner in economics, would go on to explore in his 2011 book “Thinking, Fast and Slow.” It’s been popularized to the point you may already know the answer. (Hint: It’s not 10 cents, the response that springs to mind for most people. If you ponder a bit you’re more likely to arrive at the correct answer, which I’ll get to later.) So, what does the answer to the bat-and-ball question have to do with how you size up the threat posed by Covid-19? According to psychologist Mark Travers, intuitive thinkers — the 10 centers — may be (in his view) irrationally concerned about the virus. In an April 5 article for Forbes, he uses that concept to explain survey results showing that men are more cavalier than women about Covid-19 risks. Based on a study finding that men outscored women on the bat-and-ball question and two similar brainteasers, he posits that males are more rational. The difference could be due to genetics or the environment, he writes, but to Travers, it ultimately suggests that ‘men might be better equipped to size up the Covid-19 risk for what it is: a threat that, in most cases, is still exceptionally remote.'”
Where Psychologists Should Fear to Tread on Covid-19, They Don’t, by Teresa Carr, Undark, 6 May 2020

“While the presidential contest understandably gets the lion’s share of election coverage, don’t forget that all 435 seats in the House of Representatives will also be up for grabs in November. And Democrats currently look like decent favorites to hold onto the majority they won in the 2018 midterm election. Currently, Democrats hold 233 seats to the Republicans’ 196, giving them a sizable 37-seat advantage. (There are also five vacancies — four seats previously held by the GOP and one held by Democrats.) That means that if Republicans hold onto the four vacant but solidly GOP seats they previously controlled, they will need to pick up 18 seats to win a majority. But that might be difficult for House Republicans. The electoral environment currently favors the Democrats, and Republicans have more open seats to defend. Median race ratings from the three major election handicappers — The Cook Political Report, Inside Elections and Sabato’s Crystal Ball1 — rate 222 seats as safely, likely or lean Democratic, and 193 seats as safely, likely or lean Republican. The other 20 seats are toss-ups that could go either way.”
The 2020 House Map Looks Good For Democrats, But Republicans Still Have A Shot, by Geoffrey Skelley, 538, 8 May 2020

“Our brains are getting mushy. In ‘Allostatic Load’ Is the Psychological Reason for Our Pandemic Brain Fog, the research indicates that our body’s physiological reactions to emotional stress can be powerful. Even though we’re sitting around not doing much of anything, our stress hormones are building up, exhausting our bodies. But we need physical energy to do mental labor, which (in addition to the emotional stress we’re already carrying) means that our brains are slowing down while we shelter-in-place.”
Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? 5 Strategies to Cope With Pandemic Time Dilation, by Julie Bestry, Best Results Organizing, 4 May 2020

“Turns out, I’m not alone. Nancy Sin, assistant professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, says that in stressful situations like this, there are physiological responses in our bodies. ‘Our stress hormones increase. We prepare to fight or flee,’ said Sin. And as this pandemic continues and isolation drags on, ‘we’re having a lot of these physiological adaptations, each time we feel stressed, each time we feel worried. And over time, these repeated hits, physiologically and psychologically, can accumulate.’ That accumulation is called the allostatic load, essentially the damage on our bodies when they’re repeatedly exposed to stress. And while it feels like I’m doing nothing most days, my brain is still dealing with the anxiety and strain of this pandemic. I’m exhausted not because my body is working hard, but because my brain is.”
‘Allostatic Load’ Is the Psychological Reason for Our Pandemic Brain Fog, by Emily Baron Cadloff, Vice, 27 April 2020

The yogis say the flight or fight energy pools behind the knees, so stretching there relives the suffering. This has been true for me, so a little runner stretching might help if you’re feeling, y’know, freaked out or something.


Always do what you are afraid to do.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

America is a poem in our eyes; its ample geography dazzles the imagination, and it will not wait long for metres.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

America is another name for opportunity.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

An intellectual is someone whose mind watches itself.
Albert Camus

An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises.
Mae West

And they write innumerable books; being too vain and distracted for silence: seeking every one after his own elevation, and dodging his emptiness.
T.S. Eliot

Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity.
T.S. Eliot

Any poet, if he is to survive beyond his 25th year, must alter; he must seek new literary influences; he will have different emotions to express.
T.S. Eliot

Any time you got nothing to do – and lots of time to do it – come on up.
Mae West

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