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Friday, April 30, 2021

The Pilgrims' attack on a May Day celebration was a dress rehearsal for removing Native Americans

In Puritan culture, being different meant death or banishment

Peter C. MancallUSC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

The Puritans saw May Day celebrations as a test from God. 
Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Ever since the ancient Romans decided to honor the agricultural goddess Flora with lewd spectacles in the Circus Maximus, the beginning of May has signaled the coming of spring, a time of revival after a long, dark winter.

In Europe, the holiday – usually celebrated on May 1 – became known as May Day. Though traditions varied by country and culture, celebrants often erected maypoles and decorated them with long colorful ribbons.

 Townspeople, while indulging in food and drink, would frolic for hours. These rituals continue today in parks and on college campuses across the U.S. and Europe.

Revelers dance around a maypole in Germany in the 16th century.
Revelers dance around a maypole in Germany in the 16th century. Print Collector/Getty Images

Very fine people

By Mike LuckovichAtlanta Journal-Constitution




Free fishing this weekend

You can fish on Saturday and Sunday without a state license

The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announces that Saturday, May 1, and Sunday, May 2, are Free Fishing Days in Rhode Island. Rhode Islanders and visitors alike can fish in the state's freshwaters on both days for all species of freshwater fish, without a fishing license or trout conservation stamp. All creel and possession limits apply. The free fishing weekend does not apply to saltwater fishing or saltwater licenses.

"Freshwater fishing is an important part of our culture and economy in Rhode Island, and DEM is proud to support it through our stocking program," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "After the year we've all had, I sure hope anglers will have some fun catching the beautiful hatchery-raised trout and salmon stocked in fishing areas across the state. We encourage people of all ages to visit a favorite fishing spot on free fishing weekend and make some new memories!"

DEM's Division of Fish and Wildlife is continuing to stock additional fish in RI waterways. In order to avoid crowded conditions at fishing areas, there will be no further announcement or daily reports of the stocking schedule. Click here for a complete list of stocked waters.

Microplastics affect global nutrient cycle and oxygen levels in the ocean

GEOMAR study points to possible major changes in the marine ecosystem

GEOMAR  News​​​​​​

Zooplankton ingestion of microplastic reduces grazing pressure and permits more algal growth. More algal growth leads to more organic particles sinking out of the surface ocean. When these extra particles sink, they are consumed by bacteria, which leads to an additional loss of oxygen in the water column. Graphics modified from Kvale et al. 2021.

The effects of the steadily increasing amount of plastic in the ocean are complex and not yet fully understood. Scientists at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel have now shown for the first time that the uptake of microplastics by zooplankton can have significant effects on the marine ecosystem even at low concentrations. 

The study, published in the international journal Nature Communications, further indicates that the resulting changes may be responsible for a loss of oxygen in the ocean beyond that caused by global warming.

People may trust computers more than humans

New research shows that people are more likely to rely on algorithms

University of Georgia

Despite increasing concern over the intrusion of algorithms in daily life, people may be more willing to trust a computer program than their fellow humans, especially if a task becomes too challenging, according to new research from data scientists at the University of Georgia.

From choosing the next song on your playlist to choosing the right size pants, people are relying more on the advice of algorithms to help make everyday decisions and streamline their lives.

"Algorithms are able to do a huge number of tasks, and the number of tasks that they are able to do is expanding practically every day," said Eric Bogert, a Ph.D. student in the Terry College of Business Department of Management Information Systems. "It seems like there's a bias towards leaning more heavily on algorithms as a task gets harder and that effect is stronger than the bias towards relying on advice from other people."

Bogert worked with management information systems professor Rick Watson and assistant professor Aaron Schecter on the paper, "Humans rely more on algorithms than social influence as a task becomes more difficult," which was published April 13 in Nature's Scientific Reports journal.

Their study, which involved 1,500 individuals evaluating photographs, is part of a larger body of work analyzing how and when people work with algorithms to process information and make decisions.

For this study, the team asked volunteers to count the number of people in a photograph of a crowd and supplied suggestions that were generated by a group of other people and suggestions generated by an algorithm.

As the number of people in the photograph expanded, counting became more difficult and people were more likely to follow the suggestion generated by an algorithm rather than count themselves¬ or follow the "wisdom of the crowd," Schecter said.

Schecter explained that the choice of counting as the trial task was an important one because the number of people in the photo makes the task objectively harder as it increases. It also is the type of task that laypeople expect computers to be good at.

"This is a task that people perceive that a computer will be good at, even though it might be more subject to bias than counting objects," Schecter said. "One of the common problems with AI is when it is used for awarding credit or approving someone for loans. While that is a subjective decision, there are a lot of numbers in there -- like income and credit score -- so people feel like this is a good job for an algorithm. But we know that dependence leads to discriminatory practices in many cases because of social factors that aren't considered."

Facial recognition and hiring algorithms have come under scrutiny in recent years as well because their use has revealed cultural biases in the way they were built, which can cause inaccuracies when matching faces to identities or screening for qualified job candidates, Schecter said.

Those biases may not be present in a simple task like counting, but their presence in other trusted algorithms is a reason why it's important to understand how people rely on algorithms when making decisions, he added.

This study was part of Schecter's larger research program into human-machine collaboration, which is funded by a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Army Research Office.

"The eventual goal is to look at groups of humans and machines making decisions and find how we can get them to trust each other and how that changes their behavior," Schecter said. "Because there's very little research in that setting, we're starting with the fundamentals."

Schecter, Watson and Bogert are currently studying how people rely on algorithms when making creative judgments and moral judgments, like writing descriptive passages and setting bail of prisoners.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

VIDEO: Does Trickle-Down Economics Actually Work?

To watch this video on YouTube:


Lethal variants




Joyful screams perceived more strongly than screams of fear or anger

Why you scream makes a difference 

University of Zurich

The human scream signals more than fear of imminent danger or entanglement in social conflicts. Screaming can also express joy or excitement. 

For the first time, researchers have demonstrated that non-alarming screams are even perceived and processed by the brain more efficiently than their alarming counterparts.

Screaming can save lives. Non-human primates and other mammalian species frequently use scream-like calls when embroiled in social conflicts or to signal the presence of predators and other threats. 

While humans also scream to signal danger or communicate aggression, they scream when experiencing strong emotions such as despair or joy as well. However, past studies on this topic have largely focused on alarming fear screams.

You don't have a male or female brain

The more brains scientists study, the weaker the evidence for sex differences

Lise EliotRosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science

Brain sex isn’t a thing. Sunny/Stone via Getty Images
Everyone knows the difference between male and female brains. One is chatty and a little nervous, but never forgets and takes good care of others. The other is calmer, albeit more impulsive, but can tune out gossip to get the job done.

These are stereotypes, of course, but they hold surprising sway over the way actual brain science is designed and interpreted. 

Since the dawn of MRI, neuroscientists have worked ceaselessly to find differences between men’s and women’s brains. This research attracts lots of attention because it’s just so easy to try to link any particular brain finding to some gender difference in behavior.

But as a neuroscientist long experienced in the field, I recently completed a painstaking analysis of 30 years of research on human brain sex differences. And what I found, with the help of excellent collaborators, is that virtually none of these claims has proven reliable.

Except for the simple difference in size, there are no meaningful differences between men’s and women’s brain structure or activity that hold up across diverse populations. Nor do any of the alleged brain differences actually explain the familiar but modest differences in personality and abilities between men and women.

Corporate welfare and negligent oversight hurt the fight against COVID

Public Money and Public Health

By Phil Mattera for the Dirt Diggers Digest

When a company is the subject of front-page stories about serious misconduct, the firm would normally have a track record of regulatory infractions documented in Violation Tracker

Yet Emergent BioSolutions, which has had to throw out millions of doses of J&J Covid-19 vaccine because of serious production flaws, does not have a single entry in the database.

This is not because Emergent has had a perfect track record until the present. On the contrary, investigations by the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Associated Press have reported that probes by two federal agencies and by Johnson & Johnson, which contracted with Emergent to manufacture the vaccine, had found serious deficiencies, especially with regard to its efforts to prevent contamination.

If you read those articles carefully, you will see that the findings come from unpublished documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests or that were leaked to reporters.

In other words, the public was unaware of the deficiencies being found by inspectors from the Food and Drug Administration and J&J auditors. There were no public enforcement actions against the company that would have shown up in the regulatory data collected for Violation Tracker. There are also no substantive references to regulatory issues in the publicly traded company’s 10-K filing.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The Loutish Lemmings of the GOP

What is wrong with these people?

By Michael Winship for Common Dreams

By Mike LuckovichAtlanta Journal-Constitution
Joe Biden is thinking about the complexities of racial and social justice in America, vaccinating the population against COVID-19, combatting domestic terrorism, rebuilding the country’s infrastructure, bringing back jobs and climate change. Donald Trump is thinking about money and revenge—and maybe about why his pal Vladimir Putin has all the luck.

Can you imagine how the Former Guy felt when he heard the news that his man-crush, Russian President Putin, just signed a law allowing him to run for two additional terms? Given the largely meaningless nature of elections over there, the legislation could keep Vlad in office until 2036, when he’ll be 83.

Boy, Trump may have thought, how come he gets to do that and not me? I constantly have to lie about the election results, keep bellyaching that I won, and foment an attempted coup d’etat at the US Capitol. None of which worked. Let me tell you, it’s exhausting! Now watch this putt...

Nonetheless, based on his great election fraud lie, all that prevarication does keep the Trump coffers filled with campaign dollars -- cash that’s still being collected by the hour from the readily bamboozled. There’s some $85 million in his Save America PAC, according to one of his advisors. Legally, much of it can be used for whatever Ol’ Punkinhead feels like.

That’s a good thing for Trump, because his much-vaunted business acumen continues to come back to nip him in the butt. Not only are his taxes and most of his other corporate records being ever more closely scrutinized for criminal activity by New York State Attorney General Tish James and Manhattan DA Cy Vance.

As Dan Alexander at Forbes magazine reports, “From the time he entered the White House in January 2017 to his departure a few months ago, Donald Trump’s fortune fell by nearly a third, from $3.5 billion to $2.4 billion. The S&P 500, meanwhile, increased 70%.” You’ll recall that he refused to divest his portfolio when he became president. As a result, “Trump bogged down his presidency with ethics issues for years, while also missing a chance to cash in on a market boom he helped propel.

If he had sold everything on Day 1, paid the maximum capital-gains taxes on the sales, then put the proceeds into a conflict-free fund tracking the S&P 500, Trump would have ended his presidency an estimated $1.6 billion richer than he is today.

The man’s a financial genius. Just ask him. Or better yet, ask what remains of the Republican Party which, as per veteran GOP fundraiser Fred Zeidman, is being roiled by “a tremendous complication” – the controlling influence of Trump and his demand to continue leading the Republicans. 

“He’s already proven that he wants to have a major say or keep control of the party,” Zeidman told The New York Times, “and he’s already shown every sign that he’s going to primary everybody that has not been supportive of him. He complicates everything so much.”

Just the tip


Charlestown Gallery re-opens for the season


Friday, Saturday, Sunday



Charlestown Gallery



For the Season 2021

Friday, Saturday, Sunday

11am - 4pm


New Art / New Rugs / New Jewelry




Always Open by Appointment


Charlestown Gallery | 401-364-0120 | 5000 South County Trail, Charlestown, R|


Head for your fallout shelters! (Just kidding)

Westerly To Conduct Mosquito Larvicide Spraying Next Week

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today announced the Town of Westerly will begin aerial application of mosquito larvicide across 500 acres of Chapman Swamp and nearby swamplands by helicopter on Tuesday, May 4, weather permitting. 

Spraying will take place between 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. In the event of inclement weather, a rain date will occur on the first day after May 4 when weather permits.

Bti, a naturally occurring bacterium applied in granular form to control mosquito breeding in swamps and other breeding habitats, will be applied. It is an environmentally friendly product and does not pose a risk to human health. 


“How Many CO2 Bubbles in a Glass of Beer?”

ACS Omega

After pouring beer into a glass, streams of little bubbles appear and start to rise, forming a foamy head. As the bubbles burst, the released carbon dioxide gas imparts the beverage’s desirable tang. But just how many bubbles are in that drink? 

By examining various factors, researchers reporting in ACS Omega estimate between 200,000 and nearly 2 million of these tiny spheres can form in a gently poured lager.

Worldwide, beer is one of the most popular alcoholic beverages. 

Lightly flavored lagers, which are especially well-liked, are produced through a cool fermentation process, converting the sugars in malted grains to alcohol and carbon dioxide. 

During commercial packaging, more carbonation can be added to get a desired level of fizziness. 

That’s why bottles and cans of beer hiss when opened and release micrometer-wide bubbles when poured into a mug. 

These bubbles are important sensory elements of beer tasting, similar to sparkling wines, because they transport flavor and scent compounds. The carbonation also can tickle the drinker’s nose. 

Gérard Liger-Belair had previously determined that about 1 million bubbles form in a flute of champagne, but scientists don’t know the number created and released by beer before it’s flat. So, Liger-Belair and Clara Cilindre wanted to find out.

Why climate change is driving some to skip having kids

A reasonable choice?

University of Arizona

When deciding whether to have children, there are many factors to consider: finances, support systems, personal values. For a growing number of people, climate change is also being added to the list of considerations, says a University of Arizona researcher.

Sabrina Helm, an associate professor in the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is lead author of a new peer-reviewed study that looks at how climate change is affecting people's decisions about whether to have children.

"For many people, the question of whether to have children or not is one of the biggest they will face in their lives," Helm said. "If you are worried about what the future will look like because of climate change, obviously it will impact how you view this very important decision in your life."

Helm and her collaborators wanted to better understand the specific climate change-related reasons people have for not wanting to have children. They started by analyzing online comments posted in response to news articles written about the growing trend of people forgoing having children due to climate change concerns.

They then sought out adults ages 18 to 35 who said climate change plays an important role in their reproductive decision-making. They interviewed 24 participants about their concerns.

The researchers' findings, published in the journal Population and Environment, identify three major themes that emerged in both the online comments and the interviews.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

We must defeat Governor McKee’s Medicaid cuts

Being “not as bad” isn’t good enough

By Sam Bell in UpRiseRI

One of the most important progressive wins of last year’s budget fight was defeating former Governor Gina Raimondo‘s proposal for $58.7 million of brutal Medicaid cuts.  

It wasn’t any easy fight, but we won.  And it’s a fight we have to win again.  Because Dan McKee has proposed $7.1 million of Medicaid cuts.

Let me be clear.  I appreciate McKee dialing down the severity of the Medicaid cuts that formed the centerpiece of Raimondo’s budgets.  I deeply appreciate that McKee found many areas to make real savings, as well as important investments in Medicaid.  McKee’s Medicaid agenda isn’t all cuts, and that is such a welcome change.

But we can’t let comparisons with the past distract us from the fundamental principle that Democrats should never cut Medicaid.  A key component of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, Medicaid provides healthcare coverage to Americans suffering from low income.  It is one of the most important achievements of the Democratic Party



Welcome to Florida!


Solar panels are contagious - but in a good way: study

To get more, put up more


The number of solar panels within shortest distance from a house is the most important factor in determining the likelihood of that house having a solar panel, when compared with a host of socio-economic and demographic variables. 

This is shown in a new study by scientists using satellite and census data of the city of Fresno in the US, and employing machine learning. 

Although it is known that peer effects are relevant for sustainable energy choices, very high-resolution data combined with artificial intelligence techniques were necessary to single out the paramount importance of proximity. The finding is relevant for policies that aim at a broad deployment of solar panels in order to replace unsustainable fossil fueled energy generation.

Your pot could kill you

More belly weight increases danger of heart disease even if BMI does not indicate obesity

American Heart Association

People with abdominal obesity and excess fat around the body's mid-section and organs have an increased risk of heart disease even if their body mass index (BMI) measurement is within a healthy weight range, according to a new Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association published today in the Association's flagship journal, Circulation.

"This scientific statement provides the most recent research and information on the relationship between obesity and obesity treatment in coronary heart disease, heart failure and arrhythmias," said Tiffany M. Powell-Wiley, M.D., M.P.H., FAHA, chair of the writing committee and a Stadtman Tenure-Track Investigator and chief of the Social Determinants of Obesity and Cardiovascular Risk Laboratory in the Division of Intramural Research at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. 

"The timing of this information is important because the obesity epidemic contributes significantly to the global burden of cardiovascular disease and numerous chronic health conditions that also impact heart disease."

A greater understanding of obesity and its impact on cardiovascular health highlights abdominal obesity, sometimes referred to as visceral adipose tissue, or VAT, as a cardiovascular disease risk marker. VAT is commonly determined by waist circumference, the ratio of waist circumference to height (taking body size into account) or waist-to-hip ratio, which has been shown to predict cardiovascular death independent of BMI.

Experts recommend both abdominal measurement and BMI be assessed during regular health care visits because a high waist circumference or low waist-to-hip ratio, even in healthy weight individuals, could mean an increased risk of heart disease. Abdominal obesity is also linked to fat accumulation around the liver that often leads to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which adds to cardiovascular disease risk.

Misinformation, disinformation and hoaxes

What’s the difference?

Michael J. O'BrienTexas A&M-San Antonio and Izzat AlsmadiTexas A&M-San Antonio

The flood of information can be overwhelming. 
Rudzhan Nagiev/iStock/Getty Images Plus
Sorting through the vast amount of information created and shared online is challenging, even for the experts.

Just talking about this ever-shifting landscape is confusing, with terms like “misinformation,” “disinformation” and “hoax” getting mixed up with buzzwords like “fake news.”

Misinformation is perhaps the most innocent of the terms – it’s misleading information created or shared without the intent to manipulate people. 

An example would be sharing a rumor that a celebrity died, before finding out it’s false.

Disinformation, by contrast, refers to deliberate attempts to confuse or manipulate people with dishonest information. These campaigns, at times orchestrated by groups outside the U.S., such as the Internet Research Agency, a well-known Russian troll factory, can be coordinated across multiple social media accounts and may also use automated systems, called bots, to post and share information online. Disinformation can turn into misinformation when spread by unwitting readers who believe the material.

Hoaxes, similar to disinformation, are created to persuade people that things that are unsupported by facts are true. For example, the person responsible for the celebrity-death story has created a hoax.

Though many people are just paying attention to these problems now, they are not new – and they even date back to ancient Rome. Around 31 B.C., Octavian, a Roman military official, launched a smear campaign against his political enemy, Mark Antony. This effort used, as one writer put it, “short, sharp slogans written on coins in the style of archaic Tweets.” 

His campaign was built around the point that Antony was a soldier gone awry: a philanderer, a womanizer and a drunk not fit to hold office. It worked. Octavian, not Antony, became the first Roman emperor, taking the name Augustus Caesar.

Monday, April 26, 2021

When the Rich Don’t Pay, the Rest of Us Do

Rise up, Little People!

By Gerald E. Scorse

Over 30 years ago, a real estate bigwig in Manhattan (no, not him) was convicted of tax evasion. Her name was Leona Helmsley (left, next to another guy who doesn't think he should pay taxes), the famous Queen of Mean. 

Even more famous, lasting approximately forever, were six words she let slip: “Only the little people pay taxes.” 

The words are far from true—the big people have always paid the lion’s share of taxes—but they point to a truth that’s finally getting the attention it deserves. Here it is, in a different six words: 

The big people hugely evade taxes. 

They consistently and significantly underreport their incomes. According to The Internal Revenue Service, they’re by far the biggest contributors to a tax gap approaching $600 billion a year. (The gap is the difference between taxes owed and taxes paid, and it’s long been out of control.) 

Even more damning, the latest research has turned up a link between incomes and levels of tax evasion: the more money the rich make, the more they cheat. 

Those in the top fifth generally fail to report 10% of their incomes. The unreported percentage climbs with incomes, hitting 20% or more for those in the top 5%. 

The biggest thieves of all occupy the top sliver, the top 1%. In general they cheat the Treasury by not reporting between 25 and 30 percent of their real intake. (Sarcastic props to those in the top .01%; they’re so trustworthy, they only underreport by about 15%.) 

Let’s translate those numbers into dollars. America’s richest 1% have an average annual income of about $1.7 million. Not according to their tax returns, though—the incomes they report are short on average by $425,000 to over half a million. 

It’s highway robbery by the rich. As the researchers calculated, “Fully collecting the unpaid taxes of the top 1% would increase income tax revenue by an amount equivalent to 10.1% of the aggregate amount actually collected. For example, it would have increased tax revenue by $173 billion in 2019…” 

Breaking news

For more Tom Tomorrow cartoons, CLICK HERE.


Poor you


Humans are directly influencing wind and weather over North Atlantic

The findings suggest that winters in Europe and in eastern US may get warmer and wetter

University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science

A new study led by scientists at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science provides evidence that humans are influencing wind and weather patterns across the eastern United States and western Europe by releasing CO2 and other pollutants into Earth's atmosphere.

In the new paper, published in the journal npj Climate and Atmospheric Science, the research team found that changes in the last 50 years to an important weather phenomenon in the North Atlantic -- known as the North Atlantic Oscillation -- can be traced back to human activities that impact the climate system.

Suppression of COVID-19 waves reflects time-dependent social activity, not herd immunity

Herd immunity is elusive because of stupid behavior

DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) have developed a new mathematical model for predicting how COVID-19 spreads. 

This model not only accounts for individuals' varying biological susceptibility to infection but also their levels of social activity, which naturally change over time. 

Using their model, the team showed that a temporary state of collective immunity -- what they coined "transient collective immunity" -- emerged during early, fast-paced stages of the epidemic. 

However, subsequent "waves," or surges in the number of cases, continued to appear because of changing social behaviors. Their results are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Preventing LEGAL immigration

Lobbying groups trying to block a path to citizenship

Susan Ferriss. Senior Reporter, Center for PublicIntegrity


Prepare for a new era of debate over immigration. Should the Democratic-controlled Congress  legalize undocumented workers and revamp the visa system? How will the Biden administration address root causes of Central American migration while meeting U.S. obligations to fairly consider asylum claims? 

Organizations pushing to dramatically reduce immigration are already in the thick of it all. 

Some of these immigration-restriction groups have suffered image problems after research revealed a key founder’s racist anxiety over immigration from Latin America and other uncomfortable ties

Today, these groups often disseminate false claims arguing that too many immigrants are unskilled to contribute to the economy and that immigration is responsible for decades of decline in overall American wage rates. 

During the Trump years, the Center for Public Integrity dissected contrived and false claims blaming immigrants for wage decline. 

Nevertheless, groups such as NumbersUSA, the Federation for American Immigration Reform and the Center Immigration Studies have great reach, according to Muzaffar Chishti, a policy expert at the Migration Policy Institute, a think tank. For years, the groups have torpedoed proposals to legalize undocumented workers and Dreamers, who came here as children. 

Sunday, April 25, 2021

What do Flip Filippi and Dan McKee have in common?

How bad politics infects the fight against COVID

By Will Collette

By Matt DaviesNewsday
We are at the point in the fight against COVID where we should ask ourselves whether we really want to END the pandemic, just slow it down or just pretend it's over and declare "Mission Accomplished."

It's great that lots of people are getting vaccinated. It's not good that the pace of vaccination is slowing down. 

It's scary terrible that COVID is totally out of control in India where every passing day increases the chance of the emergence of a vaccine-resistant variant that WILL make its way to America.

So what do Gov. Dan McKee and our peripatetic state rep. Blake "Flip" Filippi have in common?

In my opinion, neither of them understand how infectious diseases work and neither of them are doing their duty in protecting Rhode Islanders from COVID.

Dan McKee is doing what I predicted he'd do before he was made Governor: for the sake of his sacred small businesses, he is ending COVID restrictions too early, against medical advice. Here's his new schedule of openings:

During his weekly COVID briefing, McKee made this incredibly stupid remark: “I’d say it's a little early to put a ‘mission accomplished’ sign up but we’re getting ready to order that sign.’’

Well, that sure worked great for George W. Bush and Iraq, didn't it? 

Despite gradually lowering the death rate (due mostly to vaccinating nursing home residents), case count and hospitalizations, we are nowhere near the point where Dan can fly his victory banner. 

Indeed, his reopenings pretty much guarantee another surge, maybe like we saw in December and January due to people ignoring advice from pandemic experts during the holidays. 

Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, is one of many medical experts pleading for patience: "Holding tight until more folks vaccinated key to winning this race.”

There's a new MIT study on indoor exposure, especially at places like restaurants, bars, arenas, etc. where you have the combination of lots of people there for an extended amount of time. The study concludes the "Six-Foot Rule" doesn't matter when you are in a closed space for an hour or more.

The study says that what greatly reduces the risk of infection are good ventilation and mask wearing. 

We simply must get "community spread" down as close to zero as we possibly can while vaccinating the highest percentage of people we can. Regardless of age. Worldwide. That's how we stop COVID.

Which bring me to House Minority Leader Flip Filippi. Charlestown's state rep is de facto head of the Rhode Island Trumplican Party. He is relentless at getting himself into the media constantly on a variety of issues, where he usually takes a hard-core Trumplican line (e.g. he thinks guns are great and any attempt to stop climate change is bad).

But he recently got himself a spate of bad press (though I'm sure he feels any press is good press) for refusing to say whether he is or will be vaccinated, or even if he thinks vaccination is good. 

His insurrectionist colleague Rep. Justin Price is pretty clear in his opposition to vaccination. 

Despite Flip's claim of a right to privacy, I believe he has a duty to speak. The largest single bloc of people refusing to get vaccinated are Republican men, of which Flip is one. 

As the state's top Trumplican, he needs to speak out to convince reluctant fellow travelers that they need to get the shot. 

Trumplicans only listen to other Trumplicans. 

Flip's failure to exhort fellow Republicans to get vaccinated is cowardice and dereliction of duty. Unless he doesn't believe in vaccination, in which case he should say so.

Flip once claimed to be a libertarian and to believe that individual free choice on anything and everything is sacred. Except it's not. 

The rule of law says you can't start fires, set off explosions, fire guns, dump toxic waste or wield a chainsaw anywhere you want. 

And if you are to be a good citizen instead of just a selfish asshole, you need to get with the program and help us end the COVID pandemic. Are you listening, Flip?