It turns out, tenors don't actually spread Covid more readily than the other three sections, despite what you may have heard from the Welsh Government:
The advice appears to have been motivated by a spoof social media news post, created by meme page Quire Memes to appear as if written by us here at Classic FM. A doctored headline claimed that ‘Tenors should sit three metres away from other choir members, COVID study says’.
The post, which is categorically fake news, is captioned: “Tenors found to disperse aerosols the furthest, in this in-depth coronavirus study.”
A government spokesperson denied that the advice was based on a spoof post, but said they “apologise unreservedly for this error and for any confusion it may have caused”.
Professional tenor and choral director Charles MacDougall told The Telegraph it was “preposterous” that the Welsh government appeared to have based their official guidance on a meme.
Believe me, tenors have enough problems without being blamed for spreading this particular disease. Gonorrhea, however...
The XPOTUS promised yet another thing that would hurt the people he claims to want to help, in part because he (and obviously they) deeply misunderstand how the laws work in this country:
Former president Donald Trump suggested Saturday night he will pardon the rioters charged in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol if he is elected president in 2024.
Trump, who has teased but not confirmed another run for president, has repeatedly criticized the prosecution of individuals who violently stormed the Capitol to protest the certification of Joe Biden’s election as president. But his comments at a Texas rally on Saturday marked the first time he dangled pardons, an escalation of his broader effort to downplay the deadly events of Jan. 6.
Some of those involved in the riot held out hope for a Trump pardon before he left office 14 days later, but none were granted.
This really plays the rioters for suckers in two ways. First, not all of the charges against them derive from Federal law; presumably, by accepting pardons from the President they would be admitting to violations of DC law, and could go to jail anyway. Second, he already promised them that and had the power to try granting pardons to them while still in office. How does the saying go? "Fool me once, shame on...shame on you...fool me, you can't get fooled again."
The Republican Party also recently screwed several million people for political gain by refusing to renew the Child Tax Credit monthly distribution, which families had come to rely on during the pandemic. Now, to a person, the Republicans who prevented the bill passing the Senate make enough money that they can wait until they get the child tax credit through their annual tax refunds. The parents who need it the most can't wait a whole year for it.
I kind of just want all those Republican Senators to end their lives forgotten and in poverty, you know? That would be Karmic.
I'm waiting for my flight home at the Raleigh-Durham airport, watching Jim Cantore in Boston. You never want to see Cantore in your home town: it means horrible, rotten, no-good weather. The only nice thing about Boston's weather this morning is that the snow has moved on—for now:
Boston received 23.6 inches [600 mm] of snow Saturday, tying its record for a one-day snowfall, according to the National Weather Service.
We haven't seen 600 mm of snow in one day in Chicago ever. Even in the Blizzard of 1967, 55 years ago this week, we only got 503 mm, and in February 2011 we set the record at 508 mm.
And I said "for now" because another storm may hit the East Coast next weekend...
The coffee shop I went to about an hour ago had a sign that said, "Snow day - open at 10am." It did, in fact, snow overnight here. And some of the sidewalks were, in fact, icy.
But the temperature only got down to one degree below freezing, it snowed less than 20 mm, and none of it stuck to the roads. Ah, North Carolina in winter, bless your heart!
The Bureau of Geographic Names has a multi-year plan to rid the US of racist place names:
Usually, the public eye is far from the BGN, a member of the class of government bodies whose work you could go a lifetime without thinking about, even though it’s all around you. But the board now finds itself in the middle of the fiery national debate over racism and language. In recent years, the BGN has spent more of its time reconsidering offensive names than doing anything else, but the process typically takes months and is reactive by design, with names considered case by case upon request.
A different, faster process is possible. In November, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American to hold that post, issued an order designed to wipe any mentions of “Squaw,” probably the most frequently used slur in place names, off the map. She issued a second order that will establish an advisory committee to identify other offensive names that might be proactively changed under a similar mechanism. In 2020, when Haaland was a member of Congress, she introduced a bill that would also create such a committee, and although Green and Senator Elizabeth Warren reintroduced it this year, the bill is stuck in limbo.
But even the expedited process will take time. Removing all uses of “Squaw” is expected to take about a year, and that’s the simpler of the two orders. One challenge is that determining what’s offensive isn’t always straightforward. Names including a slur are easy, but others—such as Jew Valley, Oregon, named after a group of Jewish homesteaders—are less clear-cut. Another is that any feature whose name is removed needs a new one, ideally one that is locally meaningful and that will age better than whatever it’s replacing. The BGN is designed with process in mind, not justice or equity.
Weather Now, my demo application, makes heavy use of BGN data. Most of the US places in its gazetteer have BGN identifiers so I can update them automatically.
We got about 150 mm of snow this morning, thanks to the giant lake a short walk from my house. This made getting Cassie to school a slog (she loved it, though), and made me seriously worry about my flight this evening.
Now it's sunny, and the roads are clear.
If only I knew how many parking spaces O'Hare had right now...
Johns Hopkins University professor Eliot Cohen believes Russian President Vladimir Putin played a bad hand well, but that doesn't make him a genius:
Ukraine is a problem for Putin’s Russia not because it may join NATO, but because it is democratizing—slowly, awkwardly, imperfectly—and after 30 years of independence is constructing a new national identity. So, too, have the other former Soviet republics, a number of which (Azerbaijan, for example) have quietly sided with Kyiv. The aim of reconstructing if not the Russian empire, then a 21st-century version of it, is slipping out of Putin’s grip, and he knows it. In many ways, what we’re seeing now from Moscow is a spasm of atavistic postimperial assertion, which, rather like British and French intervention in Egypt in 1956, may begin well but will probably end poorly.
Western strategic clichés usually portray the Russians as incomparably deft chess masters, wily manipulators of the use of force to support policy, who consistently outplay their Western opponents. But that characterization is less true than one might think. Indeed, American and British intelligence were shrewd in warning of Russian false-flag operations and provocations and in naming a range of Ukrainian quislings who were being vetted to take power. These revelations are an antidote to the poisoned needles being prepared by the Russian secret services.
Armed forces reflect their societies, and although Russia is a lot better off than it was in the ’90s, it remains a society with poor public health; a crude, resource-based economy; and a deeply corrupt and self-seeking elite. Russia is also vulnerable to sanctions and cyberattacks. And at the top, the country is led by an aging dictator who does not hear many uncomfortable truths from advisers who know better.
The comparison he makes between Putin and Robert E Lee is instructive. At some point, Putin will make a mistake. Let's all hope NATO can use it wisely.
C'mon, Chicago...only a little ways left to hit -10°C...you can do it...
The bottom of that curve (-19.4°C) coincided perfectly with Cassie's first walk this morning. We made it around the block in 10 minutes, but she clearly wanted to go back inside most of the way.
The forecast says it'll keep going up slowly until about 3pm tomorrow, when it starts sliding again, just not as far as it did last night. And Tuesday might even stay above freezing all day!
This is welcome news:
Justice Stephen Breyer will step down from the Supreme Court at the end of the current term, according to people familiar with his thinking.
Breyer is one of the three remaining liberal justices, and his decision to retire after more than 27 years on the court allows President Joe Biden to appoint a successor who could serve for several decades and, in the short term, maintain the current 6-3 split between conservative and liberal justices.
At 83, Breyer is the court's oldest member. Liberal activists have urged him for months to retire while Democrats hold both the White House and the Senate. They contended that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stayed too long despite her history of health problems and should have stepped down during the Obama administration.
Of course, we'll be sad to see Breyer retire. But it looks likely that we won't have another opportunity to appoint a non-partisan justice for many years.
Now if only Thomas and Gorsuch would retire...
In no particular order:
- Dale Clevenger played French horn for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1966 to 2013. He was 81.
- Sheldon Silver went to jail for taking bribes while New York Assembly Speaker. He was 77.
- Lisa Goddard made climate predictions that came true, to the horror of everyone who denies anthropogenic climate change. She was 55.
In a tangential story, the New Yorker profiles author Kim Stanley Robinson, who has written several novels about climate change. (Robinson hasn't died, though; don't worry.)