Monthly Archives: September 2020

Former Pence Staffer Repents, Recants

“At this point, it’s country over party.” [Update: alternate link 1 & alternate link 2]

Pity that RVAT (“Republican Voters Against Trump”) looks so much like “RAT”.

Posted in 2020 Election, COVID-19 | Leave a comment

The Phone Rings…

Actual real I swear transcript of phone call a minute ago:

[Phone Rings Twice]

Me: Hello?

[Silence on line]

Me: Hello?

[Silence on line]

Me (since this is 2nd such call in five minutes): This is tiresome.

[Loud beep on line]

Strange, possibly synthesized, voice: Goodbye.

[Call terminates]

sigh Maybe not even new?

Posted in Shopping | Leave a comment

Beware the ‘Ghost Kitchen’

First it was fake small-batch bourbon, then fake craft beer, and now we have to look out for the Ghost Kitchens:

Enter the ghost kitchen—also called a virtual kitchen, virtual restaurant, cloud kitchen, or dark kitchen—a nascent internet-native business model that is spreading around the world.

When a virtual restaurant shows up in a delivery app, it may be indistinguishable from a brick-and-mortar pizza shop or mom-and-pop noodle joint, but it’s fundamentally different. The virtual restaurant is optimized for generating orders online and handing them to delivery drivers, and the name that’s advertised may not exist outside of the internet. Additionally, the menu and branding might have been created by a tech firm.


Sometimes a restaurant may advertise multiple menus under different names online but cook all the food out of one kitchen. That’s what was happening in April, when the story of one Philadelphia woman’s experience went viral. She had ordered from Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings on Grubhub, thinking she was supporting a local independent restaurant but then realized it was owned by and operated out of her local Chuck E. Cheese.

Modern life under capitalism requires eternal vigilance….

Posted in Food and Drink, Shopping | Leave a comment

Light at the End of the Tunnel?

University Of Pittsburgh Scientists Discover Biomolecule That May Neutralize Coronavirus (Warning: Loud video starts automatically):

University of Pittsburgh scientists have isolated a biomolecule that “completely and specifically” neutralizes the virus that causes coronavirus.

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers isolated the smallest biological molecule to date that neutralizes the SARS-CoV-2 virus, according to a report published Monday in the journal Cell. The antibody component is 10 times smaller than a full-sized antibody and has been used to create a drug known as Ab8 for use as a therapeutic and preventative against SARS-CoV-2, the report says.

The researchers reported that Ab8 is “highly effective” in preventing and treating SARS-CoV-2 infection in mice and hamsters.

I think — although the publication date is Sept 4, not Monday — the Cell article is the one titled, High potency of a bivalent human VH domain in SARS-CoV-2 animal models. (PDF) Its summary is a heavier lift:

We generated a phage-displayed human antibody VH domain library from which we identified a high-affinity VH binder ab8. Bivalent VH, VH-Fc ab8 bound with high avidity to membrane-associated S glycoprotein and to mutants found in patients. It potently neutralized mouse adapted SARS-CoV-2 in wild type mice at a dose as low as 2 mg/kg and exhibited high prophylactic and therapeutic efficacy in a hamster model of SARS-CoV-2 infection, possibly enhanced by its relatively small size. Electron microscopy combined with scanning mutagenesis identified ab8 interactions with all three S protomers and showed how ab8 neutralized the virus by directly interfering with ACE2 binding. VH-Fc ab8 did not aggregate and did not bind to 5300 human membrane-associated proteins. The potent neutralization activity of VH-Fc ab8 combined with good developability properties and cross-reactivity to SARS-CoV-2 mutants provide a strong rationale for its evaluation as a COVID-19 therapeutic.

Incidentally, on Sept. 14, Cell published Structurally resolved SARS-CoV-2 antibody shows high efficacy in severely infected hamsters and provides a potent cocktail pairing strategy, which also sounds promising:

Understanding how potent neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) inhibit SARS-CoV-2 is critical for effective therapeutic development. We previously described BD-368-2, a SARS-CoV-2 NAb with high potency; however, its neutralization mechanism is largely unknown. Here we report the 3.5-Å cryo-EM structure of BD-368-2/trimeric-spike complex, revealing that BD-368-2 fully blocks ACE2 recognition by occupying all three receptor-binding domains (RBDs) simultaneously, regardless of their “up” or “down” conformations. Also, BD-368-2 treats infected adult hamsters at low dosages and at various administering windows, in contrast to placebo hamsters that manifested severe interstitial pneumonia. Moreover, BD-368-2’s epitope completely avoids the common binding site of VH3-53/VH3-66 recurrent NAbs, evidenced by tripartite co-crystal structures with RBD. Pairing BD-368-2 with a potent recurrent NAb neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 pseudovirus at pM level and rescues mutation-induced neutralization escapes. Together, our results rationalized a new RBD epitope that leads to high neutralization potency and demonstrated BD-368-2’s therapeutic potential in treating COVID-19.

A PDF preprint is available online.

Posted in COVID-19 | 2 Comments

Almost Old Enough to Vote

Apparently, I’ve been blogging here for…17 years?   

My first post, A New Blog, wasn’t much, but I think this early post, Rose Burawoy, Political Scientist (Sept. 23, 2003), is worth a re-read from time to time. Were the signs of today visible then? I can’t say that I saw it coming, but I was already a bit nervous.

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The Atrocity Key

As a public service, McSweeney’s maintains a continually updated website Lest We Forget the Horrors: A Catalog of Trump’s Worst Cruelties, Collusions, Corruptions, and Crimes.

That we need a (lengthy) list to keep track of it all is bad. What’s worse is that we also need an “Atrocity Key” to organize them:

Atrocity Key

Posted in The Scandals | 1 Comment