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science and the public square -- by thomas levenson

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What Doesn’t Make You Stronger Can Kill You

Bit of self promotion here:  I’ve got a piece in today’s Boston Globe, on one of the hidden consequences of failing to deal with the antibiotic crisis.  In it, I focus on the use of antibiotics as prophylactics in surgery. Nowadays, it’s standard procedure for a wide range of operations to dose the patient with antibiotics shortly before she or he goes...

Apropos Of Not Much (Post-Prandial Rant)

So I read the latest over at Talking Points Memo on the slow-rolling Republican “moderate” cave on the tax bill to Trump and the GOP’s I Got Mine/Tongue-Bath-A-Billionaire Caucus.  That led me to a Twitter rant born of despair and rage. The TL:DR is that dominant-power decline has happened before, will happen to whoever comes next, and is well underway...

Happy Birthday, John Prine

It’s this master of the American song’s 71st today. Meant to post earlier, but Prine’s good for a couple of lullabyes too. I’ve seen him live only once, decades ago. A great time then.  His music has only grown on me.  His songs appear simple, and some of them actually are; they’re all reach deep. Here are a couple of favorites; add your own below....

Cosmic Goodness (Immigrant Edition)

Here’s a welcome respite from the ongoing hellscape of GOP-dominated America: Three American physicists have won the Nobel prize in physics for the discovery of gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of spacetime that were first anticipated by Albert Einstein a century ago. Rainer Weiss has been awarded one half of the 9m Swedish kronor (£825,000)...

Stupid Idea For Readers To Destroy

David Anderson’s post at Balloon-Juice got me thinking on single payer vs. universal coverage — I’m with David (and Elie). Don’t care how we get to health care for all Americans, as long as we get there. So here’s my stupid idea: a move in stages.* Stage one: Medicare For All Kids.  Same program, just for every kid up to the age of 18–or 26, to match...

A Handful Of Quick DACA-Related Thoughts

  Others have said what needs to be said about the Coward Trump and his DACA debacle.   Here’s my PGO addition: 1: To reinforce a point Charles Pierce made today: DACA folks are Americans. Full stop. They may not be citizens, but they are us; members of our society, our community.  They are not strangers. Any attempt to frame them as aliens, or...

Grifters All The Way Down

Here’s what I don’t get.  Trump’s Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, is a rich guy. Seriously rich: on the order of a half a billion in net worth, w. a cool $70 million in 2016 earnings.  If he wants to check out a cool event — a total eclipse, say, a desire I wholly understnd — he can afford to do so at any level of comfort he chooses, and never miss...

You Know You Have A Problem…

…When you say sh*t like this: “As he puts on plastic gloves to serve food at NRG Stadium…President Trump turns to press and says: “My hands are too big!” Dude.  Special pleading like this only makes it harder to ignore the obvious inference. Seriously, Donald. Can we talk? I don’t care about your sense of adequacy, or its absence. Just let it lie,...

Stray Thoughts and Mental Misdemeanors

I’ve been quiet for the last several days* for several reasons. I’ve been heartsick; paralyzed with rage, unable to form sentences;** and, perhaps most to the point, unable to add much, if anything to what everyone else has been saying. What’s more, I’m well behind on my book project, and just about ever last erg of writing energy I may have by rights...

Eclipses Make People Crazy, Daniel Defoe Edition

So:  some folks choked on Annie Dillard’s perhaps overly magniloquent response to her eclipse, so here’s something quite different for the more Augustan among us. For reasons not relevant to this post, I am this morning nosing around Daniel Defoe’s writing from the late 1710s, and just a few minutes ago I stumbled upon this hoot of a passage from the...

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