So, a prominent figure who opposed Putin has died. There’s a shocker.

According to his company’s statement, Maganov “passed away following a severe illness.” However, the Russian news agency Interfax reported that he died after falling from a window.

That all makes sense. They didn’t say he died FROM the severe illness, just “following” it. Here’s my theory: the dizziness from the severe illness caused him to lose his balance and fall from the window. That could happen to anyone.

Well, anyone in Russia.

“By 2040, if population trends continue, 70% of Americans will be represented by just 30 senators, and 30% of Americans by 70 senators.”

In contrast to the underepresented majority, the 30% of Americans represented by those 70 senators would be white, rural, and poorly educated.

Even if the remaining 70% could manage to elect a President, it would be meaningless if the opposing party can control the House and 67 senators because, in the worst case scenario, the President and Vice-President could be impeached and convicted almost instantly after their inaugurations, thus making the Speaker of the House the President. (Per the Constitution, the House need not choose a member as its speaker. It could, for example, choose the person who just loss the election for the presidency.)

It is not realistic to expect the House of Representatives to maintain the sanity of the political process, because that body is increasingly filled with extremists from both sides of the spectrum, thanks to the widespread gerrymandering of “safe” districts.

The USA is acting as if we were through with COVID; as if were a thing of the past. Unfortunately COVID, like the past itself, is not through with us. The newest sub-variant of Omicron (BA.5) is the most contagious variant yet. An area of special concern is that the contagion does not appear to be significantly deterred by either inoculation or previous infection.

New Cases:

After a plateau of substantial length in which the number of cases hovered right around 100,000 per day, the number has again started to climb steadily in the States, and is now at 133,000. That represents 400 per million population, which is nearly triple the red line. 49 of the 50 states are in the red zone, excepting only Vermont.


The nation’s current positivity rate is 17%, nearly double the red line. Five states are in the 30s, topped by Missouri (35%) and Mississippi (33%). Seventeen more are in the 20s, and twenty-four more are in the 10-19 range. That leaves only four states in the green zone (Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire).

Other national trends:

In the past fourteen days:

  • COVID fatalities are up 10%
  • COVID hospitalizations are up 18%
  • The number of COVID patients in ICU is up 22%

International trends:

The number of cases is rising even more rapidly overseas. As of mid-June, the global number of daily COVID cases had fallen to about 550,000 per day (7-day average). In just a month, it has climbed back up in the 900,000 range.

Only one country, New Zealand, is in the quadruple danger zone (cases rising, cases already in the red zone, fatalities rising, fatalities already in the red zone), but several countries in Asia and Europe appear on the first three of those lists, and some of them are nearing crisis conditions:

  • Cases in Japan and South Korea are doubling weekly.
  • Australia, Italy, and Singapore have new infection rates at 10 times the red line, and are still increasing.
  • In the cases of Australia and Italy, fatality rates are already near the red zone, and are increasing rapidly.

The full COVID update for Tuesday is here.

In the USA, cases are up 61% in the past two weeks, and there are now more states in the “new cases” red zone than out, 29 to 21. And the official numbers are probably low because more and more people are testing at home rather than heading out to a lab or clinic. Positive home tests have a way of staying out of the official stats.

The official testing percentages are creeping steadily upward. No states have re-entered the red zone yet, but a handful are getting close.

There is also some good news. COVID total hospitalizations and ICU cases remain steady, and fatalities are still declining. Only five states are in the fatality red zone.

Only one state (Kentucky) is in the red zone for both new cases and fatalities.

By far the strangest story out of Ukraine so far is this: “Louis CK to Perform in Ukraine Amid Russian Invasion

Good luck with that, Louis. Yakov Smirnoff covered this situation already, with the quote in the headline, and this one: “In America, you assassinate president. In Russia, president assassinate you!”

“Griffin allegedly paid more than $3,000 to the woman to fly her and the 9-year-old girl to Boston in July, where prosecutors say he picked them up from the airport and brought them to the ski house ‘where the child was directed to engage in and did engage in illegal sexual activity,’ the indictment said.”

I hope they also brought charges against the mother who orchestrated this encounter.

The incident happened last Thursday at the Welcome to Rockville festival in Daytona Beach. She was performing as the lead singer for Brass Against, a group that performs brass + sax versions of heavy metal songs. Yeah, that’s right: trombones, trumpets, even a sousaphone. To get the idea, imagine Black Sabbath played by a high school marching band.

Many people have called Sophia’s act disgusting, but I just see it as a continuation of a venerable musical tradition. I can remember when Steve and Edie would both piss on the same audience member as their grand finale, and who can forget when Tony Bennett stood on stage and left more than his heart in San Francisco. And of course, in their Vegas days, Sinatra frequently took a shit on Joey Bishop on the main stage at Caesar’s Palace.

Here’s a non-disgusting screen grab of her after the pee, before pulling her pants up.

image host

“Proponents also say rewilding the Arctic with lab-grown woolly mammoths could slow global warming by slowing the melting of the permafrost, where methane is currently trapped.”

And the proponents absolutely promise that nothing could possibly go wrong with this idea.

I wrote on September 12, 2001

There’s nothing for us to say about the events. You’ve seen it on TV, and you realize how people are reacting. If the professional wordsmiths and mouthpieces can’t find the words, neither will we. There are no precedents to help comprehend the events, nor words to summarize the grief and shock. It doesn’t seem real now. Perhaps it never will.

As any history professor will tell you, people don’t much care for the minutiae of dates. Yesterday morning, most Americans could identify only three by heart.

Now there will be four.

July 4, 1776

December 7, 1941

November 22, 1963

September 11, 2001

“More and more Mississippians are using a horse de-wormer medication as an at-home treatment for COVID-19, and it’s causing a spike in calls to poison control.”

Mind you, this poisoning is sending more people toward the hospitals that are already at capacity in that state!

Yeah, they’re afraid of the vaccine, but they’re totally OK with filling their bodies with horse de-wormer, so they just pop down to the feed store and pick some up. Talk about thinning the herd!

I also read somewhere that Trump is now saying he was right about hydroxychloroquine, even though there are now controlled clinical trials showing that the drug not only failed to improve patient care, but actually made matters slightly worse! (One cannot fairly say that it hurt because the slightly worse rates of death, intubation and hospitalization were not statistically significant. A fair conclusion is that it did not help.)



1. This horse dewormer business started before the vaccines were available. See this report from Nevada. “Feed stores are having trouble keeping the medication in stock.”

2. There is some vague logic to the use of this dewormer (ivermectin). Ivermectin has been tested to inhibit the spread of the virus in vitro, but at a dosage many times that prescribed for humans for parasitic infections. Some studies show that ivermectin may also be effective in vivo, and there is a chance that it may someday be approved for treating viral diseases, although the evidence is still insufficient. Researchers have predicted a low likelihood of success against COVID at the current prescribed level for humans, but some evidence at least suggests that higher doses might have some value. But the effective dose may be so large that it might produce dangerous side effects.

The NIH says:

“Pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies suggest that achieving the plasma concentrations necessary for the antiviral efficacy detected in vitro would require administration of doses up to 100-fold higher than those approved for use in humans”

Trials are still needed to test both the safety and efficacy of various doses. It should go without saying that you should not be stocking up on it from your feed store and taking a horse-strength dosage on your own authority.

Their methodology is quite complex, and takes into account the excess death rate and several modifying factors.

In terms of accurate reporting, the USA actually looks better than many other countries. While the analysts estimate that American deaths are probably about 1.5 times as many as the officially reported total, the excess death rates elsewhere during the COVID era indicate that many countries are underreported by vast multiples. For example, Russia has reported 109,000 fatalities, but the analysts estimate that the actual total is 591,000; Mexico has reported 217,000 fatalities, but the analysts estimate that the correct total is 653,000.