Category Archives: pandemic

The efficacy of different face masks in reducing droplet emission

What kind of mask should you wear during the pandemic? (Yes, you should always wear one if you’re around people.) A new paper in Science Advances (click on screenshot below, free pdf here, reference at bottom) gives a tentative answer to that question, assuming that you’re wearing the mask to avoid infecting other people. And […]

The MS Roald Amundsen becomes a Petri dish

Several readers informed me about the coronavirus outbreak on the MS Roald Amundsen, the ship I was on last fall as a lecturer for five weeks in Antarctica, Patagonia, and the Falkland Islands. The article below is from Ars Technica (click on screenshot), and there’s another from the BBC.  It’s a sad tale of something […]

Are people becoming more talkative during the pandemic?

I’ve noticed in the last couple of months that people I talk to, either over the phone or in person, seem to have become much more loquacious, to the point where  it seems that 90% or more of the conversational airtime is taken up by one person’s words. (To be sure, I’m often laconic.) Now […]

Andrew Sullivan back at the Weekly Dish, and a disquisition on the J. K. Rowling kerfuffle

Andrew Sullivan has left the room, meaning New York Magazine (NYM), and good for him—and woe to them.  He’s back at the Weekly Dish, a reincarnation of his previous website, complete with his trademarked beagle. You can subscribe for for only $50 a year (here), though for a limited time the content is free (click […]

AP/NORC poll: Most religious Americans see a message from God in the coronavirus pandemic

In one way things haven’t changed since the Middle Ages: the onset of a pandemic leads people to search for a greater meaning, usually involving the wrath of a god. So, for instance, the Black Death was blamed on a lack of piety (penitentes arose), the perfidy of the Jews, and so on. Now, in […]

Andrew Sullivan’s last piece for NY Magazine

Andrew Sullivan is moving to a new site, his own Daily Dish revived as the Weekly Dish. But his farewell piece in New York Magazine is not last week’s column, but today’s long article—about plagues. Well researched and engagingly written, it’s a change from Sullivan’s usual discussions of politics and sociology. It’s long (7 pages […]

Why is there a culture war about masks?

You are certainly aware that, at least in America, there’s a culture war between those who favor and promote the wearing of face masks during the pandemic, and those who resist them and, indeed, refuse to wear them. The Internet is full of videos of people going into stores like Wal-Mart and refusing to wear […]

Don’t open the schools and universities, at least “live”

When the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) weighed in a while ago saying that it was essential to reopen the nation’s schools, that was before the big resurgence of the pandemic in many states. Many colleges and universities have already decided to reopen as well, though with restrictions (Harvard, for example, will have online classes, […]

Who will be Biden’s VP choice?

Traditionally the Vice-Presidential candidate is named in July or August, and that time is upon us. We know that Pence will be Trump’s VP candidate, and I hope both go down in flames. But who will be Biden’s? Joe has said he’ll name a woman as the candidate, and many Dems are also plumping for […]

Five timely readings for the day

I have nothing to say, but it’s okay (Good morning!).  Actually, duck duties in the pouring rain (yes, I got soaked, but in a good cause), combined with overdue grocery shopping, has put a crimp in my day. But, mirabile dictu, I have five—count them, five—pieces that are worth your time to read. I’ll give […]