#34: XXXIV: A New Hope

I've found the best way to get through life, good or bad, is to properly set your expectations. Got a bunch of toddlers? Assume your day and week and month and year will be a shitshow. Got a new president and Congress who disagree with everything you believe in? Assume they'll, for the most part, get their way. They will succeed in dismantling much of what you hold precious. Forget enacting progressive agendas for the time being, the goal is to save the planet. To empower those left with any power who can fight for the most consequential actions. The ones we can't get back. The time we cannot afford to lose.

You subscribe to this newsletter. You believe in science. You don't want the earth to turn into a lava lamp. You want to cure cancer. You want vaccines and education and health care for everything and everyone. So put your fucking money where your mouth is and get out there and do something. In your neighborhood. In your district. In your city. In your state. That's where we make our stand, where we rebuild.

Let's go.

1. Just read this. Please. Even if you're one of the folks who just reads my excerpts. Read this. This is why we have to fight, and fight right now. - WIRED

"During his campaign for president, Donald Trump promised to end action on climate change and kill the climate treaty adopted in 2015 in Paris. To truly understand why that’s such a big deal—perhaps the biggest deal ever—you need to think about a few things.

...We seem intent on blinding ourselves, on ripping out the smoke detectors even as the house begins to burn.

...But the climate question has never been about progress per se; we know that eventually we’ll move to the sun and wind. The issue has always been about pace, and now Trump will add serious friction, quite likely shifting the trajectory of our path enough that we will never catch up with the physics of climate change.

Other assaults on civilization and reason eventually wore themselves out—fascism, communism, imperialism. But there’s no way to wait out climate change, because this test has a timer on it."

+ MY NOTES: Please read it. And then share it. Please.

2. We've posted about this before, but they're still at it and you should support them. Rogue scientists race to save climate data from Trump. - WIRED

"Speculation became reality as news broke that the incoming Trump administration’s EPA transition team does indeed intend to remove some climate data from the agency’s website. That will include references to President Barack Obama’s June 2013 Climate Action Plan and the strategies for 2014 and 2015 to cut methane, according to an unnamed source who spoke with Inside EPA. “It’s entirely unsurprising,” said Bethany Wiggin, director of the environmental humanities program at Penn and one of the organizers of the data-rescuing event."

+ MY NOTES: These people, like Bethany, are selfless goddamn heroes. Data storage costs money. Help support their efforts today by clicking here. I'm not kidding, folks. Every dollar goes to extremely specific, practical use. It's like crowd-funding a new Batmobile for Batman.

3. The new war against science, part 56: Trump takes on vaccines. - Washington Post

"There’s a real risk that Trump — who has expressed doubt about the safety of immunizations in the past — could politicize vaccines, undermining trust in one of the great public health interventions in human history.
The success of immunization programs in the United States should not be taken for granted. It took decades of hard work by doctors, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state and local health departments to get vaccination rates to where they are today: over 90 percent for vaccines against polio, hepatitis B, chickenpox, measles, mumps and rubella.

Even a modest decrease in those rates could be enough to cause future outbreaks. And because political polarization can push people to change their belief in basic facts, making vaccines a political cause for one side or another may lead to exactly that."

+ MY NOTES: My very-vaccinated infant got whooping cough last year, just as we welcomed our newborn son into our home. Long story short, we had to all be quarantined from one another, as my wife and I alternated being terrified for our children and furious at those so negligent not to vaccinate their own. It's selfish and delinquent and dangerous, to everyone. Fuck this. FIGHT BACK.

4. We have to be the hope we believe in. Because our next leaders aren't going to do it for us. - WIRED

"“The increase in the greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are having an effect. Our ability to predict that effect is very limited,” Secretary of State nominee and ex-CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson replied, waffling. 

After more than six hours of testimony, Tillerson backtracked even further, telling senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) that though the evidence of a changing climate was clear, the cause wasn’t. “The science behind the clear connection (to human activity) is not conclusive,” Tillerson said, an assertion as false as the scientific consensus is clear."

+ MY NOTES: If you don't think this human would approve wiping away precious and telling climate data, you're very wrong. See above: support the resistance.

5. Protein fingerprinting could shed light on Alzheimer's - engadget

"Scientists know that the proteins in our bodies can sometimes fold and form clumps called amyloids, which lead to neurodegenerative diseases. However, they still don't fully understand the whole process -- there's just no efficient way to examine the clumps. Since understanding amyloid formation could be the key to preventing or developing treatments for conditions like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, a team of researchers have developed a technique to measure individual protein molecules' properties.

Researchers from the University of Michigan and University of Fribourg call their method "5-D fingerprinting." It involves the use of a substrate with a nanopore that's only 10 to 30 nanometers wide so only one molecule can pass through at a time. That molecule causes fluctuations in the setup's (which you can see below) electric current as it passes through the nanopore. Scientists and doctors can then measure that current to get the protein's "unique five-dimensional signature.""

+ MY NOTES: Yeah. Science. This shit doesn't come out of thin air, folks.

6. Universal basic income is becoming a necessity - The Guardian

"It is important to stress that pilots can only test certain behavioural aspects of paying a basic income and seeing what people do differently, whereas its proponents rest their case on more fundamental justifications – social justice, freedom and economic security. None of these can be tested by pilots, which by definition are short-term and involve relatively small numbers of people.

Most pilots do not conform to a universal basic income system, in which everyone in a given community receives it, so these benefits cannot be tested. And if only a few people are given a basic income, recipients may soon find themselves under pressure from relatives and neighbours to share it.

For these reasons, some see pilots simply as a way of avoiding other important policy decisions. But once results start to come in, they may help to “win the argument”, as John McDonnell, Labour’s shadow chancellor has put it, by showing that basic income is both feasible and does not have the negative behavioural effects commonly attributed to it."

+ MY NOTES: Trials like these are the only we'll ever find a way for this to truly work for everyone involved. Many will fail. Some will succeed. The lessons we learn from both will pave the way for a more even-handed implementation, and a fairer society. Side note: this is also a handy description of the scientific method.

7. But enough about us. While we go underground, can China lead by example? - New York Times

"Under President Obama, American officials worked to pressure China and other developing nations to provide more accurate data, viewing that as a difficult but critical part of establishing clear global benchmarks in climate change policy.

China has indicated that it wants to take on a leadership role to promote the Paris Agreement. But if Washington withdraws or lets up on its demands, the incentives for Beijing to do that through greater transparency will be greatly reduced.

The Paris Agreement rests on a foundation of transparency and good faith: Countries are supposed to report and submit for verification their carbon emissions data. Without accurate and timely reporting, there is no way to monitor progress and adjust policies.

International negotiators are expected to draw up standards that will apply to both developed and developing countries, unlike the bifurcated reporting requirements of older climate deals. This means that China and India will be compelled to provide the same kinds of information as, say, France and Japan."

+ MY NOTES: Hell of a time to step into the spotlight, China. Be the hope and change you believe in.


Breakthrough Starshot update: MOAR TELESCOPES!

Harvard develops microchips lined with human cells, explain that one to your grandparents

Some major cancer studies are difficult to replicate, dammit, that's science I guess