Sunday, August 02, 2020

Major Time Magazine summer issues cover John Lewis, protests, coronavirus origins


The Aug. 3 – Aug. 19 issue of Time Magazine is appropriately dedicated to John Lewis (1940-2020), “Conscience of a Nation”, pp 32-47).  The most important takeaway is that Lewis felt that young adults have to take personal risks (with arrest and their safety) to jumpstart social progress – “good trouble”.  That is not something I (with my schizoid personality) have been willing to do.


There is a major section on going back to school (as in Europe).

The last section, starting on p. 78, has a long section by Charlie Campbell and Alice Park, “Anatomy of  Pandemic, Inside the Global Effort to Understand Where Covid-19 Came From.”

The article starts with a discussion of the Shitou Cave, and a female scientist Shi’s discovery of a virus RaTG13 that is very close to the SARS-Cov-2.  Apparently the Wuhan lab obtained a sample sometime in 2013.  Although there is no direct evidence of mishandling or accident, the progress in small genetic changes that allowed the virus to spread like a respiratory disease among humans needs to be traced in detail.  This would include accounting for insertion of the “PRRA” sequence associated with furin cleavage inside the ACE2 receptor (and maybe other receptors).  On p. 82, Time offers a circle color chart allowing you to track virus samples to countries by color code, and this technique (if programmed) might give an exact account of how the mutations evolved and where.
   
The article more or less supports conventional ideas that, although the virus patient zero probably did not come from the Wuhan wet market, that place may have helped spread;  it also supports the idea of an intermediate animal like a pangolin.
   
The article doesn’t explain how a Seattle teenager (Avi Shiffmann) knew enough in early December 2019 to be motivated to spend scores of all-nighters setting up his coronavirus tracker, one of the largest sites in the world.  Sometime individuals, even very young ones, tech savvy, find out things our entire intelligence apparatus overlooks.
  
The July 6-13 issue has a special set of essays "America Must Change". There is an important essay June 25 (for this group) about the Hmong (by Viet Thanh Nguyen), as a "model minority", and I became familiar with it when I lived in Minnespolis-St Paul 1997-2003 (partly through someone in the Libertarian Party who ran for office). 
   
I also want to refer the visitor to a June 8 an article in Time by Brooke Cunningham, in a series called “America must change”.  It is “Protesting Police Brutality and Racial Oppression is Essential Work”.  Yes, “protesting” is a job.  Interesting view. Ask journalists who film them, like Ford Fischer and Alejandro Alvarez.  And notice also that so far protesters (congregating outside and sometimes using masks) and their journalists have remained rather healthy in the Covid world.  It may well be that very gradual but repeated exposure to germs outdoors enhances natural “T-cell” immunity which does protect (younger people at least) against COVID in practice (NIH).

The artwork picture is from the eastern shore of Maryland, June 2017. 

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