Liked COVID was bad for the climate by Ryan BarrettRyan Barrett (

This decrease is “just a tiny blip on the long term graph.” To keep global warming under 2°C, we’d need sustained emissions reductions in this range every year for the next 20-30 years. The pandemic has been hugely disruptive, but it’s still temporary, and all signs point to a strong recovery. The drop in emissions was largely caused by lockdown, not persistent structural changes that will persist for decades to come.

Liked Why You Should Take Any Vaccine by zeynep (Insight)

Based on the existing data, and to the best of my understanding of having read every paper, authorization application and preprint on the efficacy of these vaccines, I can, without a hesitation, say that of the ones I know are being considered in various places in the US, UK and Europe—Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, J&J, Oxford/AstraZeneca, Novavax—I would be happy with receiving *any* of them. I would easily recommend *any* of them to anyone I know, whatever they were offered. (I have not yet read the Sputnik paper, but the numbers look excellent. I know there are issues of trust there, but I don’t have any a priori reason to think that it also wouldn’t work well). If we were to find real efficacy differences, we’d give the higher efficacy ones to the elderly (whose immune systems tend to work less well). But, as a country, and as the world, as things stand, all of these vaccines will do the job of eventually getting us out of this pandemic—once enough people are vaccinated.


Bookmarked Healthcare workers caught COVID-19 in Victoria in their thousands, so what went wrong? by Tegan Taylor (ABC News)

An investigation into the large number of Victorian healthcare workers who caught COVID-19 at work identifies some of the key factors that allowed so many to get infected — and what we can do to avoid a similar outbreak in the future.

Teagan Taylor discusses the findings presented by Marion Kainer in regards to why those in healthcare caught COVID-19 while on the job in Melbourne’s second wave. The two particular lessons were that the rooms did not have sufficient ventalation:

Single-bed rooms were at a premium, so hospital workers grouped COVID patients together in four-bed hospital rooms.

“But I was really surprised to see that the design of these four-bed rooms was such that there was no air register to take the air out of that room. But the air would move actually into the corridor when the door was opened or closed.”

Also, those being impacted were not considered high risk and therefore were using full PPE.

Early on, the issue was more that geriatric wards weren’t considered high risk environments warranting the use of N95/P2 masks, and staff wore surgical masks.

Compounding that was the fact that staff who worked with older patients weren’t practised in how to safely remove their PPE.

Kainer was also interviewed on the Coronacast podcast:

Bookmarked The COVID ‘reset’: how the pandemic has changed society by Jewel Topsfield (The Age)

From work and play to our mental health and growing sense of community, the coronavirus crisis has brought huge changes to the way we live.

Jewel Topfield looks at some of the changes to Melbourne forced by the pandemic. This includes a move to work at home, an increase in workplace surveillance, rise of the gig economy, changes in retail, death of the five-day office commute, move towards a cashless society and an increase in the importance of community.
Liked More help needed for vulnerable learners in the age of COVID-19 school closures (EduResearch Matters)

Moving forward and learning to live with further disruptions, requires future generations to become adaptable to possible changing learning environments, building capacity and resilience for future crises becomes an imperative. Proactive and multifaceted responses and planning for any future crises will best meet the educational needs of our diverse student populations to ensure vulnerable children are not left behind in their learning.

Governments should re-examine resource allocations to schools to ensure all students have equality of access to up-to-date resources, especially technology. The pandemic has shown us that learning online is possible, but if we are to avoid widening existing educational disparities, we must ensure that learning is equitable for all students.

Bookmarked Lessons Learned | EdCan Network (EdCan Network)

We consider the narratives and lessons that emerge from both the content of these articles and our own experiences.

Canadian academics, Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt consider the various discussions and evidence associated education during the current pandemic to identify five narratives:

  1. Educators can, and do, leverage technologies in powerful and creative ways, but inequitable access to devices and connectivity remains a major barrier to student success.
  2. As home-school relationships become increasingly important, parents’ abilities to support their children’s learning can have a major impact.
  3. School climate has a significant effect on how teachers, learners, and parents experience school, but care must be taken to ensure inclusivity for all members of the school community.
  4. The move to remote learning has laid bare the degree to which teachers’ (and schools’) roles extend beyond academic instruction.
  5. The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic offer a tremendous opportunity for transformational change in our education systems, should we choose to take it up.

It is interesting to compare this with Jal Mehta’s lessons:

  1. There are limits to one-size-fits-all schooling
  2. Schools need to be more human
  3. We cannot set the needs of students against the needs of adults
  4. It is not clear how we catch students up on what they have missed during the pandemic

Mehta touches on the challenges of equality in regards to how different states respond to the situation.

Although these lessons seem pretty universal, I wonder if building back better actually starts locally. It will be interesting to see how different systems around the world provide long term support in response to the situation and the mechanisms they will use to measure the return on investment.

Liked When protection becomes prison: Cricket’s trouble with bubbles by Greg Baum (The Sydney Morning Herald)

It needs to have other resorts. It might mean leading players stand out of not just the occasional match, but series. It will mean sophisticated mental health planning. It will mean understanding.

What most of us missed in 2020 was normality and family. So, believe it or not, do cricketers.

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It is an interesting case of ‘what if’, especially after reading Greg Baum’s piece:

It was one thing when the AFL, NRL, netball and women’s basketball evacuated hotspots. It’s quite another that Cricket Australia is moving its operation into one.

Bookmarked Where the Pandemic Will Take America in 2021 by Ed Yong (The Atlantic)
Ed Yong suggests that 2021 will be purgatory as people progressively receive the vaccine. Associated with this, there is the fear that in this time the virus itself mutate. Even if the vaccines are successfully rolled out to produce herd immunity, there will still be ongoing mental and physical consequences. Lastly, there will be a swath of reviews to identify the lessons to be learnt.

It is interesting to consider this from a different country. As the numbers are still relatively low in Australia, I think that it will be more dancing. I guess time will tell.

Bookmarked #IStandWithDan vs #DictatorDan: how fringe accounts gamed Twitter during Melbourne’s lockdown by James Purtill (ABC News)

New research shows the #IStandWithDan and #DictatorDan warring Twitter hashtags were pushed by a small number of orchestrated and hyper-partisan accounts.

James Purtill reports on the influence of social media in regards to the messaging around Melbourne’s lockdown.

New research shows they were driven by a small number of fringe, hyper-partisan accounts — many of them anonymous “sockpuppet” accounts created specifically to support either side, but posting as an independent third party.

Although it is not clear if there was a central organisation behind the campaigns, but the ‘Dictator Dan’ message did align with the News Corp papers and Sky News.

On a side note, I think the War on 2020 team captured the absurdity of the ‘dictator’ movement in their skit:

Bookmarked COVID-19 Changed Science Forever by Ed Yong (The Atlantic)

The scientific community spent the pre-pandemic years designing faster ways of doing experiments, sharing data, and developing vaccines, allowing it to mobilize quickly when COVID‑19 emerged. Its goal now should be to address its many lingering weaknesses. Warped incentives, wasteful practices, overconfidence, inequality, a biomedical bias—COVID‑19 has exposed them all. And in doing so, it offers the world of science a chance to practice one of its most important qualities: self-correction.

Ed Yong continues his reporting of the coronavirus, this time he unpacks the steps associated with getting to a point where we have a vaccine. He talks about the way in which many scientists pivoted, the various treatments that have been uncovered and the challenges that have arisen, especially in regards to pre-prints.

In some cases, bad papers helped shape the public narrative of the pandemic. On March 16, two biogeographers published a preprint arguing that COVID‑19 will “marginally affect the tropics” because it fares poorly in warm, humid conditions. Disease experts quickly noted that techniques like the ones the duo used are meant for modeling the geographic ranges of animal and plant species or vector-borne pathogens, and are ill-suited to simulating the spread of viruses like SARS-CoV-2. But their claim was picked up by more than 50 news outlets and echoed by the United Nations World Food Program. COVID‑19 has since run rampant in many tropical countries, including Brazil, Indonesia, and Colombia—and the preprint’s authors have qualified their conclusions in later versions of the paper. “It takes a certain type of person to think that weeks of reading papers gives them more perspective than someone with a Ph.D. on that subject, and that type of person has gotten a lot of airtime in this pandemic,” says Colin Carlson of Georgetown.

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Tried that in the Melbourne lockdown, but realised a few weeks in that it probably wasn’t the most effective strategy. Fingers crossed that you can flatten the curve sooner rather than later.
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Great work Mark:

That cameo by Norman Swan was gold. Not sure I will ever think about ‘asymptomatic’ in quite the same way again.

I ate out at a restaurant for the first time today since the start of COVID. It was strange knowing what was appropriate practices in the new normal. There was the line for in and out, the sanitising stations (one of which was empty) and the pre-booking to balance numbers. At the end of it all though, it was easy to look around and find examples of humans and average practices. More than confidence, it felt about faith.
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So much of the current pandemic seems to be a case of ‘rubbish in, rubbish out’. I am intrigued by Tim Harford’s reflection on UK’s decision to move into lockdown again:

Lockdowns can work if they allow a properly run contact-tracing programme to take over.

However, I assume that contact-tracing is only ever is good as the information that is provided? The answer for some is to trust technology. However, if people are willing to lie to human contact tracers, why would we assume they use the technology appropriately?

Replied to What Should a COVID-19 Memorial Be? by Ian Bogost (The Atlantic)

When it comes to a COVID-19 monument, Cooke proposes an “unmonument” instead, one that samples from Black Lives Matter and other protest movements and spreads their DNA like a different kind of virus. “It first attacks our memorials to false leaders, then real ones, then attacks the monuments of capitalism and consumerism and industries too weak to resist,” Cooke wrote in a statement.

It would start at the Robert E. Lee Monument in Richmond, Virginia—a statue that graffiti and chalk have already redecorated. Rather than tear down the statue, Cooke wants to repurpose it. He would erect scaffolding around it, along with fencing and barricades, materials often used to stave off vandalism. Once installed, visitors would add elements atop: photographs, keepsakes, or other reminders of people affected by the pandemic—or by unchecked police violence, or by the neglect of declining economic outcomes.

From there, the memorial would expand to other locations, feeding off of other, even more hallowed sites of tribute, culture, and commerce. The Lincoln Memorial, perhaps, or even Times Square, although the design could take root anywhere; Cooke is more interested in facilitating its natural growth than prescribing sites in advance. He likens the process to erosion, wearing away the significance of these older structures. “Their histories are tainted,” Cooke said. As a result of his intervention, he hopes these monuments, and monuments in general, would cease to honor existing structures of power. True to the spirit of hip-hop, a statue, a memorial, a block, a whole district become materials to be remixed anew.

This was a helpful piece in understanding ‘hip-hop as a process’. I guess this is how Autechre is ‘hip-hop‘, because of the process.

I know this track won’t hit home for a lot of people and that’s OK. I wrote it during Victorian Lock-down 1.0 at a time when I was feeling particularly lucky to be able to spend so much time with the kids while they’re still so young. To be able to look at my calendar and see NOTHING on it, forcing me to be completely in the moment because suddenly the future didn’t exist.

Surprisingly, that felt like a gift. I realised I’d been running an invisible race, a rabid dog chasing a phantom rabbit. But to what end? So to be given this chance to stop… well, I really didn’t want to forget it. So this song came out of that moment. It’s a post-it note to my future self: “don’t forget the good things you’ve learnt!”.

Missy Higgins has released When the Machine Starts, a song written about the truth of seeing beyond all the busyness of life to the being in the moment. She wrote it as a post-it note to her future self.

The video clip associated with the song is made up of multiple screens capturing the culture of video conferencing so prevelent during the crisis around COVID.

She has also produced a ‘live’ clip for The Sound which features Higgins walking around Melbourne before finally ending in with a performance at the hauntingly empty steps to Flinders Street Station.

Similar to Child Gambino’s This is America a few years ago, Higgins’ song encapsulates the current state of affairs, especially the hope at the end of the tunnel.