The shield you want -- DEVO selling Energy Dome PPE face shields

Look at you with your mouth watering; look at you with your mind spinning over the new DEVO Energy Dome face shields.

Join the Devolution with these DEVO dome face shields. We're sure the Energy Domes have special powers to combat COVID-19. People are saying. Get a memo to the President, stat!

Pair your Dome and shield with a matching DEVO face mask. Only US$70 for the lot. Sure that's money you don't have because you're out of a job and spending 3x the usual on Lysol and Wonder Bread, but who can put a price on devolving in style? The end times have never looked so fabulous.

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Honk your horns in the air and wave your glow sticks like you just don't care -- it's a German car rave

You've likely heard of neighborhood car parades, drive-in concerts, and the drive-through strip club. Now, you can add the drive-in rave to the list of creative and kind of unsettling and sad pandemic entertainment solutions.

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Ferdinando Buscema and Erik Davis on our pandemic house of cards

Boing Boing pals, magician Ferdinando Buscema and writer Erik Davis (High Weirdness), have created a really lovely and provocative little four-minute “visual meditation” based on the PK Dick essay, How To Build A Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later

Ferdinando says he put the piece together "to alchemize the anxiety and distill something magical from unhappy times."

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Is anyone surprised?: "Reopen America" is an astroturf campaign

Simon Chandler writes on Forbes:

Gun advocacy and conservative groups are responsible for astroturfing the reopen America campaign that has swept the US in recent days, according to research from cybersecurity experts.

Since April 15, protests against coronavirus lockdown measures have been sweeping across various American states. Informally unified under the ‘Reopen America’ slogan, they seek an end to measures intended to curb the spread of the coronavirus. They’ve arguably been flared up by tweets President Donald Trump posted on April 17.

But according to new research from cybersecurity researchers, many of these protests are neither spontaneous nor organic. Cybersecurity expert Brian Krebs and researchers at DomainTools have separately analysed web addresses including the word "reopen." And interestingly, they’ve found that many of these can be linked to domains associated with gun advocacy groups, lobbyists, and other conservative organizations.

Read the rest.

[H/t Alberto Gaitán]

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Kim Stanley Robinson on how the coronavirus is rewiring our imaginations

Science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson (Red Mars, New York 2140, Aurora) has a fascinating piece in The New Yorker on how the pandemic is opening our thinking up to new possibilities, both good and bad, as we suddenly find ourselves in a world we only used to know in dystopian fiction.

Imagine a heat wave hot enough to kill anyone not in an air-conditioned space, then imagine power failures happening during such a heat wave. (The novel I’ve just finished begins with this scenario, so it scares me most of all.) Imagine pandemics deadlier than the coronavirus. These events, and others like them, are easier to imagine now than they were back in January, when they were the stuff of dystopian science fiction. But science fiction is the realism of our time. The sense that we are all now stuck in a science-fiction novel that we’re writing together—that’s another sign of the emerging structure of feeling.

Science-fiction writers don’t know anything more about the future than anyone else. Human history is too unpredictable; from this moment, we could descend into a mass-extinction event or rise into an age of general prosperity. Still, if you read science fiction, you may be a little less surprised by whatever does happen. Often, science fiction traces the ramifications of a single postulated change; readers co-create, judging the writers’ plausibility and ingenuity, interrogating their theories of history. Doing this repeatedly is a kind of training. It can help you feel more oriented in the history we’re making now.

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The most comprehensive timeline to date of coronavirus and US government’s response

From Just Security:

What follows is a comprehensive timeline of major U.S. policy events related to the novel coronavirus pandemic. We’ve focused on the U.S. government’s preparation for a pandemic, tracking warning signals of COVID-19, and public and internal responses when the outbreak hit inside the United States.

In our view, the timeline is clear: Like previous administrations, the Trump administration knew for years that a pandemic of this gravity was possible and imminently plausible. Several Trump administration officials raised strong concerns prior to the emergence of COVID-19 and raised alarms once the virus appeared within the United States. While some measures were put in place to prepare the United States for pandemic readiness, many more were dismantled since 2017.

In response to COVID-19, the United States was slow to act at a time when each day of inaction mattered most–in terms of both the eventual public health harms as well as the severe economic costs. The President and some of his closest senior officials also disseminated misinformation that left the public less safe and more vulnerable to discounting the severity of the pandemic. When it came time to minimize the loss of life and economic damage, the United States was unnecessarily underprepared, had sacrificed valuable time, and confronted the pandemic with a more mild response than public health experts recommended. These lapses meant that the United States was ultimately forced to make more drastic economic sacrifices to catch up to the severity of the pandemic than would have otherwise been necessary.

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Robert Fripp in a bee suit and black stockings? Signs of the apocalypse for sure!

There are little lights in this darkness that shine through and make, for a brief moment, the invisible zombie apocalypse seem a bit less horrifying.

One of these for me has been Robert Fripp and his wife Toyah cracking themselves (and the internet) up on her twitter channel.

Watch them as they play DIY Dancing with the Stars in their kitchen and flit about as pollinating bees in their back garden.

And yes, that is Robert Fripp, he of the impeccable 3-piece suits and dour resting face, in a full-on bee costume and sheer black stockings. Nice gams, Bob!

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What it's like to experience the dreaded COVID-19 "cytokine storm"

If you needed another reason to be scared straight into practicing impeccable sterile technique in an effort to reduce your risk of COVID-19, read on. For those of us who are immunocompromised (raises hand) or over sixty (reluctantly raises hand again) this is sobering stuff. I think I'll go wash my hands again.

Of all the possible compounding effects of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, the cytokine storm is one of the most feared. An immune system overreaction in which the body is flooded with the eponymous signaling molecules, those who suffer a cytokine storm are at risk of dying at the hand of their own immune system, as an indirect effect of the virus they are fighting.

My lab work was stunningly bad. A normal white count might be between 4.5 and 10. My white cell count was at 2,000. My lymphocytes — which are the cells that fight in a virus, normally fall somewhere between 1000 and 1,500 — they were under 200. I don't know if you know the term but the early cells that fight infection are called "bands," and you don't have [them] normally — I had 20% bands. My platelet count was around 100,000, which is low, and I knew I was in trouble.

In the current context, we believe we have a biomarker of this condition, a serum level of a non-specific but is an acute phase reactant called serum ferritin. It looks like it may be to be one of the more reliable biomarkers of cytokine dysregulation.

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Sci-fi author Ted Chiang on the disaster novel we're currently living through

On Electric Lit, Halimah Marcus, interviews speculative fiction author Ted Chiang (Exhalation, Arrival) on the current global pandemic and whether there will ever be a "normal" for us to return to.

HM: What’s the relationship between disruption and doom? Would “the disruption is resolved and nothing is ever the same” qualify as a doom narrative? Or is doom a third kind of story, in which the disruption is never resolved?

TC: A lot of dystopian stories posit variations on a Mad Max world where marauders roam the wasteland. That’s a kind of change no one wants to see. I think those qualify as doom. What I mean by disruption is not the end of civilization, but the end of a particular way of life. Aristocrats might have thought the world was ending when feudalism was abolished during the French Revolution, but the world didn’t end; the world changed. (The critic John Clute has said that the French Revolution was one of the things that gave rise to science fiction.)

HM: Do you see aspects of science fiction (your own work or others) in the coronavirus pandemic? In how it is being handled, or how it has spread?

TC: While there has been plenty of fiction written about pandemics, I think the biggest difference between those scenarios and our reality is how poorly our government has handled it. If your goal is to dramatize the threat posed by an unknown virus, there’s no advantage in depicting the officials responding as incompetent, because that minimizes the threat; it leads the reader to conclude that the virus wouldn’t be dangerous if competent people were on the job.

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A UK man dressed as a bush sneaks through a neighborhood on lockdown

A UK man from Stevenage, Herts was spotted making his way around his neighborhood dressed as a bush. The couple next door caught the man on video and assumed that he was trying to avoid lockdown in a most ridiculous fashion.

Turns out, it was all just a prank, the man trying to bring a laugh to neighbors stuck indoors. It's unclear whether the next door neighbors were in on the gag.

Later he returned with his two kids disguised as garbage bags.

[H/t Kaine Delay]

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Fountains of Wayne co-founder, Adam Schlesinger, dead of COVID-19

Rolling Stone is reporting that Adam Schlesinger, co-founder of Fountains of Wayne, and a prolific songwriter for film, television, and theater, has died of COVID-10. He was 52-years-old.

Schlesinger had one of the most unique and busiest careers in pop. With Fountains of Wayne — a group that blended power-pop delight with indie and alt-rock sensibilities — he released five albums between 1996 and 2011. During the same period, he released six albums with his other group, Ivy, all the while building a portfolio of TV and film music. His first hit came in 1996, but it was a song engineered to sound like it was actually from the Sixties: “That Thing You Do.” The track served as the sole hit for the Wonders, the fake band at the center of Tom Hanks’ film That Thing You Do!; in real life, the track charted well and earned Schlesinger an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. Seven years later, Schlesinger and Fountains of Wayne would notch their own career-defining hit, “Stacy’s Mom.”

Read the rest here.

Written by Schlesinger:

It is staggering to try and comprehend how many of these obits we are going to be seeing in the coming weeks and months.

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Annalee Newitz looks at the Great Plague of London and 17th century social distancing

Annalee Newitz has a piece in The New York Times about the "Great Plague" of London (1665-1666)--the last outbreak of bubonic plague in England--which ended up taking the lives of almost a quarter of the city's population.

A lot of English people believed 1666 would be the year of the apocalypse. You can’t really blame them. In late spring 1665, bubonic plague began to eat away at London’s population. By fall, roughly 7,000 people were dying every week in the city. The plague lasted through most of 1666, ultimately killing about 100,000 people in London alone — and possibly as many as three-quarters of a million in England as a whole.

...

It felt like Armageddon. And yet it was also the beginning of a scientific renaissance in England, when doctors experimented with quarantines, sterilization and social distancing. For those of us living through these stay-at-home days of Covid-19, it’s useful to look back and see how much has changed — and how much hasn’t. Humanity has been guarding against plagues and surviving them for thousands of years, and we have managed to learn a lot along the way.

...

It was most likely thanks to his [King Charles II] interest in science that government representatives and doctors quickly used social distancing methods for containing the spread of bubonic plague. Charles II issued a formal order in 1666 that ordered a halt to all public gatherings, including funerals. Already, theaters had been shut down in London, and licensing curtailed for new pubs.

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Politico asked 34 big thinkers to predict how the coronapocalypse will permanently change our world

Politico asked 34 "macro thinkers" to share some of their thoughts on what the world will look like after we crawl from the wreckage of this thing. Some are hopeful, optimistic. Some, not so much. Definitely good food for thought. Here are a few excerpts.

Mark Lawrence Schrad is an associate professor of political science and author of the forthcoming Smashing the Liquor Machine: A Global History of Prohibition.

A new kind of patriotism When all is said and done, perhaps we will recognize their sacrifice as true patriotism, saluting our doctors and nurses, genuflecting and saying, “Thank you for your service,” as we now do for military veterans. We will give them guaranteed health benefits and corporate discounts, and build statues and have holidays for this new class of people who sacrifice their health and their lives for ours. Perhaps, too, we will finally start to understand patriotism more as cultivating the health and life of your community, rather than blowing up someone else’s community. Maybe the de-militarization of American patriotism and love of community will be one of the benefits to come out of this whole awful mess.

Eric Klinenberg is professor of sociology and director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. He is the author, most recently, of Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life.

Less individualism The coronavirus pandemic marks the end of our romance with market society and hyper-individualism. We could turn toward authoritarianism.

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Doc Pop is creating t-shirts with social distance/self-isolation messaging in black metal band logos

Our pal Doc Pop writes:

I've been working with artists on Fiverr to convert health advice messages into extreme metal band logos. I'm sharing the results on this Twitter thread.

I'm releasing some of my favorites on Threadless as shirts and sweaters. All the proceeds from the sales are being donated to workers at Mission bars and restaurants (via gofundme, online tip jars, or sending it directly to workers through venmo).

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Astronaut Chris Hadfield shares some tips on self-isolation and "taking care of your spaceship"

In this thoughtful and heartwarming little video message, astronaut Chris Hadfield (the man who brought you Bowie from space), shares some tips on coming to grips with isolation and ends with the wonderful, "Take care of yourself, take care of your family, take care of your friends, and take care of your spaceship." Simple words to live by.

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After a Japanese grade school cancels graduation, students hold it inside of Minecraft

Via IGN:

Japanese schools have been closed for over two weeks due to COVID-19 and, with the Japanese school year ending in March, it's meant many students won't have their graduation ceremonies, according to SoraNews24.

However, graduates from one elementary school found they could use Minecraft to create their own ceremony. Without any school or parental oversight, kids designed their own assembly hall, and gathered on a server to play out their graduation online.

Read the rest of the piece here.

[H/t Ted Tagami]

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Man dead, wife in hospital after ingesting what they thought was a drug touted by Trump

On their website, the Arizona medical group, Banner Health, is reporting that a man has died in their care after self-medicating against COVID-19 using what they mistook for an anti-malaria drug that Dear Leader had mentioned during one of his campaign rallies briefings in recent days.

A man has died and his wife is under critical care after the couple, both in their 60s, ingested chloroquine phosphate, an additive commonly used at aquariums to clean fish tanks. Within thirty minutes of ingestion, the couple experienced immediate effects requiring admittance to a nearby Banner Health hospital.

Read the rest of the brief announcement here.

NBC News correspondent Vaughn Hillyard spoke to the wife by phone from her hospital bed. She had this to say:

we saw Trump on TV--every channel--and all his buddies--saying that this was safe. Trump kept saying it was pretty much a cure."

[...] Don't believe anything the President says and his people because they don't know what they're talking about. And don't take anything -- be so careful and call your doctor. This is a heart ache I'll never get over.

Yet another reason why these "briefings" should not be televised live, but should only be summarized by responsible adults.

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