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New CDC Guidance

The new guidance from the CDC is wonderful and welcome news, and I’m thankful for all the mask-wearers, vaccine getters, medical/public health workers, and scientists that made this possible!

The new guidance indicates that:
1) The vaccine works in reducing disease
2) The vaccine is effective even against COVID variants
3) There is little chance of vaccinated folks spreading the virus

It’s an exciting milestone absolutely worth celebrating, and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s vaccinated faces soon! That said, I’m going to keep wearing my masks in public spaces for a little while longer.

Masking in Boston has been as near-universial as one could expect since last spring. More than just an important public health measure, it’s cultivated a sense of community and an understanding that we’re all in this together and will do what we can to protect ourselves and each other. It’s allowed us to feel much safer making necessary commutes on busy streets and running errands throughout the pandemic.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been fully vaccinated since last September. Based on the CDC’s new guidance, I absolutely believe it is safe for me to be unmasked in most settings. I understand that wearing a mask while fully vaccinated isn’t meaningfully curbing transmission in any way.

But I also know that there are still many that haven’t yet gotten (or been able to get) fully vaccinated yet. And since there is no way to know if someone has been vaccinated, I would imagine encountering a growing number of maskless individuals could be stressful for these folks. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned during the pandemic, small measures that can be taken to reduce stress can make all the difference.

So I’m going to hold onto my mask for a little while longer for when I’m going for a jog or out and about in the busy streets of Boston. Absolutely not saying other vaccinated folks should choose to do the same! But if it helps to reduce the stress of even person in the coming weeks as we wait for a greater proportion of people become vaccinated, it will have been worth it.

How the NRA Rewrote the 2nd Amendment

A lot of harm to undo here.

“Britney” is a pop masterpiece

Britney Spears’s career is finally getting the reevaluation it deserves:

“In the context of the recent Spears renaissance, the record is simultaneously a pop masterpiece, a plea for autonomy and respect, and a statement to the media. Her loneliness wasn’t killing her anymore, but the scrutiny surrounding her life and image was. While Britney helped establish a foundation for Spears’s pop superstardom, it also reflected the harrowing state of early 2000s media culture, slut-shaming, and the way it suffocated young women. Britney was a message we ignored, and we should have known better.”
A great read.

The Trump Tape

History will remember Trump as a sad, small man whose actions threatened our very democracy because of a combination of cowardice and opportunism of Republicans unwilling to stop him.

The sad thing is, we all have so many friends and family who will continue to be confused and enraged as historians consistently rank him as our country’s worst president. They have fallen prey to a right-wing propaganda machine that is well-financed and devoid of any journalistic integrity or patriotism. We have here a sitting president *on tape* attempting to coerce a fellow Republican to throw out a free and fair election, and Fox News is currently ignoring the historic story and instead is discussing Nancy Pelosi’s speakership. They have created an alternate reality where baseless conspiracies run rampant and feed off the worst instincts of society.

Democracy cannot function when one of the major parties has separated its constituents from reality. We are all trying to figure out how to save friends and family for this toxic disinformation campaign, but it’s going to take a long time and a lot of hard work.

In the meantime, we should make sure everyone hears these tapes. Hears Trump’s contempt for democracy. His contempt for our nation. In his own words.

Don’t just stand there... dance!!!

If you need a pick-me-up today, check out this amazing Reading Rainbow clip featuring the incomparable Levar Burton! And remember: don’t just stand there... dance!

Transitions Past

A photo from the Bush/Obama transition. Dignity does not have to be partisan.
This photo is a gem. Such different times.

Thank you 🙏🏼

Can we just take a moment to acknowledge the immense debt of gratitude we owe the voters and organizers of color who, despite living in a country where a majority of white voters supported a candidate who made hate and racism central to his platform, believe in our democracy so much that they out-organized unimaginable voter suppression and mobilized millions of voters that Republican-led governments specifically targeted for disenfranchisement to save the nation from another four years of pain and shame.

They are truly American heroes and deserve all the credit for saving democracy (and decency) in America.
This entry was edited (6 months ago)

The Ultimate “Bullshit Job”

Strong language, but truth in every word:

“Republican senators, in other words, asked bullshit questions. Barrett laughed gamely, indulged their bullshit, and gave uniformly bullshit answers, both to bullshit questions and to substantive ones. She gave bullshit answers even when she appeared to be called upon merely to affirm the existence of a statute or a Constitutional norm. Barrett surely doesn’t think that her future position on the Supreme Court is a bullshit job; Senate Republicans don’t think that packing the courts with conservatives is bullshit work, either. But, like the people who are rushing her onto the bench, Barrett does seem to believe that the nomination and confirmation process is bullshit—she shares the Trump Republican Party’s contempt for the norms and processes of the government in which she has risen so far, so fast.”

Oh that's an interesting visualization! So one party looks like the country, and the other doesn't at all.
Interesting. Are there more charts like this regarding other aspects? For instance, whether they have business on the side, area and type of employment?

True “Proud Boys“

The gays are coming! Truly does fill me with pride to infuriate the Proud Boys.

Public Health Terminology

Just a technical note: “quarantine” is a term for people may have been exposed but whose disease status is unknown. We “isolate” people known to be sick.

Please be safe. Wear a mask.

New Study - Mobile Health

Honored to be a small part of such a great program that brings essential addiction services to people who need it most. The amazing clinical and outreach teams from Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program and Boston Public Health Commission's AHOPE program are absolute heroes! I'm in awe of their work every day.
Check you out publishing research articles and being interviewed!! Congrats dude, keep up the great work 🙌🏽

Classic Prince - Remastered

Sign O the Times has finally been remastered! Celebrating Friday and the Purple One with this bop.
Groovy 😀

Make Way For Tomorrow

Unsolicited film recommendation: if you ever get a chance, I highly recommend Leo McCarey’s “Make Way For Tomorrow.” The film centers around an elderly couple who, due to financial troubles, lose their home and have to split up to live with their less than eager adult children. I saw it a couple years ago and it has stuck with me more than most films. Its commentary on how we as a society view and treat older generations remains sadly relevant. This is the film that inspired Tokyo Story, which is probably more famous and similarly brilliant. I think a lot about this film during COVID-19 and can’t help but posit that our failure to contain a virus that poses particularly high risk to the elderly reflects our ongoing failure to value how much fuller our lives are when we can share with and learn from earlier generations.

COVID-19 Vaccine Study

Fun science-y post! I have the privilege of participating in the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine trial, and today I received my first shot! This is a phase 3 study, meaning this vaccine has already had some testing to indicate safety and immune response. I am just one of about 30,000 individuals who are participating in this particular trial, and many others are participating in similar trials for other companies.

Because this is a double-blind study, there is a 50% chance I received the vaccine, and a 50% chance I received the placebo injection (a saline solution that should have no effect). Neither I nor the study doctor know which I received today. At the end of the study (we are all told it can last for up to 26 months), they will compare the vaccine and placebo groups to see if there are any differences in COVID-19 infections, side effects, and immune response.

Because I think now more than ever it’s important that we have ongoing discussions and transparency in science, I’m happy to answer any questions about my experiences during the trial. Science enthusiasts and skeptics alike can feel free to DM me if there’s anything you’d like to know about the study.

Not sure if this will be the vaccine (or one of several) to make it to market, but happy to have the chance contribute to science!
This is super cool. Thanks for contributing to the effort to fight the pandemic! 💪🏼

One positive note about 2020: it has been sweet vindication for those of us who never buy yearly planners.

LOL. Gosh yeah I was still kinda on the fence but this seals the deal!

If you have a chance, you should check out the Howard Ashman documentary on Disney+. I’m sure I’m just one of millions from my generation and generations to follow who cherished these films in childhood and have bonded with others over our shared love of the music and stories. Like many queer artists of the era, we lost him way too soon, but it’s hard to miss his legacy. Thanks for the magic, Howard.

Also, will someone on Broadway pleeeease re-stage Smile once theaters reopen so we can finally get a non-bootleg recording of the score!

Big Tech

Imagine if there was an alternative social media platform with great privacy policies and strong protocols to handle misinformation/election interference, but you could still use it to connect with your Facebook friends.

Imagine if you didn’t like the way Amazon exploits its workers, but finding an alternative didn’t mean finding a new web marketplace, grocery store, AND streaming platform.

Imagine if you weren’t thrilled with your iPhone, but there was a great app in the App Store that let you make an easy transition to a new phone.

Imagine if you suspected Google’s search algorithm was favoring certain sites, but you had several other options to try.

Imagine a government that wasn’t beholden to the preferences of a few billionaires with a lot of clout (read: 💰).

If these are all things you’ve thought about, I suggest checking out the hearings on Capitol Hill today! Could have big implications for the future of big tech and its role in our lives.
So well put!! That sure sounds like a future worth striving for

Since 1992, the US has had 7 elections. The Republican candidate has won the popular vote just once. Yet Republican presidents have filled 4 of the last 8 Supreme Court seats, including blocking an Obama nominee to be filled by Trump (yet another Republican who lost the popular vote). This has created a court that frequently runs counter to the conscience of the American people.

If Republicans moved on a vacancy this close to an election, especially after blocking Merrick Garland, you would be hard-pressed to convince me that the next Democratic president should not add 2 or more liberal justices to the bench.
A GOP move like this would be so infuriating. Eleven sounds like a perfectly good number to me.
But bigger picture, the whole process needs to be reformed. And that's just one part that I found so exciting about Mayor Pete's campaign, that he endorsed the "5-5-5" plan to have five each of: democrats, republicans, and jointly selected justices on the Court.