Saturday, August 27, 2022

A Democracy, not a Republic

Also, local maximums

Democracy and Republic

I've just finished reading Gordon S. Wood’s The Radicalism Of The American Revolution. It's a stunning and strange history. I had no idea how different the democracy the founders created was from the republic they envisioned.

Friday, August 19, 2022


The monkeypox that is now spreading around the world is a new variant that was discovered in 2017 by Dr. Dimie Ogoina, professor of medicine and infectious diseases at Niger Delta University in Nigeria. Original monkeypox was not very transmissible between people, so children would get it from monkeys, it would spread a bit, and it would die out. This variant is more transmissible between people. The Nigerian outbreak was never controlled and has turned into a global epidemic. NPR report.

Reportedly (preprint paper, not peer-reviewed) neo-monkeypox continues to evolve through recombination.

I keep hearing that the epidemic is dying out but testing is thin and there isn’t testing a lot of testing outside the gay community. I hope it is dying out; if it breaks loose in the schools or jumps to an animal vector it’s going to be incredibly hard to control.

As of the NPR report on July 28th, not a single Nigerian had been vaccinated against monkeypox.

And, yes, poxviruses can infect birds. Croak!

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Redemption Arc

I recently read a rather fun YA book series wherein all the characters who were not completely evil got some sort of redemption. The author herself says that these were her pandemic comfort writing project. There’s a lot to like about the books; the ethics of empire are discussed, and the ethics required of superheroes are demonstrated – if you, in your person, are a weapon of mass destruction, what rules do you live by, so that you do not turn into a monster?

But I don’t believe. Not everyone can be redeemed. Some people lack empathy. Others lack the capacity for introspection that allows them to recognize their failings. Still others have made irrevocable choices that turn them into monsters in human skin suits. What redemption was there for Hilter’s captains? What for the people who decided, monstrously, to spread covid throughout the United States? To the group that probably plotted to give the cruel murderer Mohammed bin Salman the ability to manufacture nuclear weapons, and may have successfully done so? Not only do I not see redemption for these, I do not even see that they ought to be allowed to live.

Yes, Donald J. Trump has led me to reconsider the death penalty. He is not only an alleged rapist and a likely traitor, he has not only likely started a civil war in the USA, he seems to have taken actions that might yet cause World War III. He has had numerous opportunities to recognize the damage he has done and make amends and has not done so – he is one of those who both lack empathy and the capacity for introspection. Do we allow him to continue his depredations?