Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

From the frontiers of viral immunology

Ever since the COVID mRNA vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) proved themselves, I became convinced they are the future of viral vaccines. Looks like a polyvalent flu vaccine is in the works that may obviate annual strain-specific vaccines. “In this work, we developed a nucleoside-modified messenger RNA (mRNA)–lipid nanoparticle vaccine encoding hemagglutinin antigens from all 20 […]

Africa, a biography

Just finished “Africa, A Biography of a Continent”” by John Reader. I don’t recall how this book came into my possession. It may have been on my mom’s bookshelf when we stopped by after they moved to take whatever we wanted. Whatever its provenance, I had only read a little African history: “King Leopold’s Ghost” […]

Review of “Demagogue”

Review of “Demagogue” “Demagogue: The life and long shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy” by Larry Tye is a particularly timely read as the nation continues in the grip of another political bully, Donald Trump. The parallels in their methods are striking and the degree to which McCarthy held the nation in thrall during the 1950s […]

Review of “Superfuel”

Growing up in Oak Ridge TN in the ‘60s, terms like “homogeneous reactor,” “molten salt reactor” and “breeder reactor” were frequently used, although I couldn’t have explained them at the time. Research into nuclear power became the mission of Oak Ridge National Labs after the war under the direction of Alvin Weinberg. A few years […]

The air we breathe

Most of the earth’s oxygen doesn’t come from forests or jungles but from ocean plankton. A recent survey found an alarming drop in Atlantic plankton levels likely due to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide and resulting ocean acidification. “Plankton is a blanket term for the billions of tiny sea organisms living close to the surface of […]

For July 4th: Bach to Paul Simon

I’m not a big consumer of liturgical music. I still listen to Handel’s Messiah on Christmas. So it surprised me when I found myself enjoying a boxed set of LPs of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion recorded about 50 years ago. It’s in German, of course, so I’m not following the libretto, just the voices and […]

Ammosexual fantasy vs real life

Ammosexual amateurs think a gun gives them superpowers. In reality, trained law enforcement only hit their target ca. 30% of the time on average at close range in an active shooter event. And that’s with training and regular practice. Unless you’re training regularly, you’re not going to protect yourself with a gun, and you’re likely […]