Ari Schulman Profile picture
Editor @tnajournal ~ The mundane, observed, became the romantic The trouble with science: Best reached by email
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20 Apr
You might think that Covid takes have wildly flipped since January 2020, but from "the real problem is hysteria" to "it's time to accept that you will get Covid" to this, there has been a steady throughline intent on sapping the motivation to act.…
"Actually anyone who's worried about Covid is xenophobic"
"Actually it's not worth being afraid because it's too late to stop a pandemic now"
"Actually we shouldn't get our hopes up because this will never end"
They all follow the same structure:
- The real issue here is your emotions.
- Your emotions are lying to you.
- I'm here to tell you how you should really feel.
- Take action if you want but it won't ultimately change anything.
Read 7 tweets
18 Apr
If Biden wants the message to be "getting vaccinated won't change the ways you're being imposed on now," Fauci is doing a solid job.

If he wants the message to be "vaccination is the path to normal" (he should), it is past time to choose a different messenger.
It's quite possible to still advocate masking as a general practice until herd immunity is reached or more people are vaxxed. But Fauci says you *have* to. He is relentlessly on we-can't-be-too-cautious, and that is just not the way a coherent public health message should work.
All we've been able to do for the last year is fire potshots at Covid. Here come vaccines to nuke it into oblivion and Fauci thinks the most important thing is all the little pieces that will still be left over, as if those are barely different.
Read 6 tweets
7 Apr
If you're like me and procrastinate by reading crash investigations, you find many that happened in low-budget and regional airlines where crew fatigue was a factor. They're paid much less than at major airlines and are competing for hours and for those slots. (brief thread)
Maybe United has some idea about how to recruit to markedly increase the overall pool of candidates for commercial piloting over the next 10 years, but otherwise this diversity initiative will just wind up increasing the competitive pressures on the smaller airlines.
What will the effect be? I don't know, but given how multivariate crashes are it's never a good idea to place additional strain on one of the key factors, crew stress. But again, United would just be offloading that to smaller carriers.
Read 5 tweets
7 Apr
Personally if I were drawing from the Enterprise bridge crew for Jeopardy host, I'd go with Worf
Think about it: Alex Trebek was showbiz's greatest straight man. You know who're the greatest straight men in the universe? The totally humorless Klingons. Just imagine Celebrity Jeopardy but with Sean Connery vs. Mr. Worf.
I mean sure, you *could* pick the Sheliak, but we do want ratings.
Read 4 tweets
7 Apr
If the discourse totally collapses over the coming weeks into who's posting whose Ws and Ls — well, I would count that as a W.
I feel that the Dudes Posting Their Ws discourse is severely lacking in Buddy Garrity memes, but I'm having a hard time myself finding the relevant clips and gifs.
One of the great moments in the Friday Night Lights pilot — Buddy Garrity putting his big noggin into the whole frame and looming over Coach (the new coach) to command "We need a dubya," too reverent to say the real world.
Read 4 tweets
6 Apr
It's nuts to be putting so much energy into fretting about anti-vaxxers and why we might need vaccine passports when there are still so many practical barriers for people who *really want to get vaccinated.*
Whatever we hear about the amazing supply in the U.S., we're still at the stage where you have a big advantage in getting a vaccine if you come from a station in life where you know how to navigate through bureaucratic and logistical nonsense.
And yet most of what we hear about is how people who are *not* from that station in life might — theoretically, if we bothered to really give them the option — refuse to be vaccinated.
Read 4 tweets
5 Apr
I'm straining to understand the accusation against DeSantis even if the reporting is accurate. Publix grocery stores are an existing neighborhood mainstay in Florida. Should this obvious resource have been foregone for appearance's sake because they donated to one of his PACs?
It's a good idea to use the infrastructure you've got, and when that concerns the whole state ... yeah, you're going to be using some organizations with existing political ties to DeSantis and his allies.
One way to make sure the vaccine distribution is absolutely fair and equitable is to put all your effort into making sure nobody gets it. A lot of people seem to have this strategy in mind.
Read 6 tweets
26 Mar
McMurtry complained of the love for Lonesome Dove: "I thought I had written about a harsh time and some pretty harsh people, but, to the public at large, I had produced something nearer to an idealization; instead of a poor man's Inferno, filled with violence, ...
.... faithlessness and betrayal, I had actually delivered a kind of Gone With The Wind of the West, a turnabout I'll be mulling over for a long, long time."

It's strange here to see McMurtry underrate the power of the deconstruction and demythologization of the West he produced.
One of the things that struck me about Lonesome Dove was the jaggedness of it. Characters you expect to be redeemed aren't. Characters who deserve a happy ending are killed randomly and unexpectedly. Loves romantic and filial go unrequited.
Read 13 tweets
26 Mar
Covid showed that a managerial class skilled only in manipulating symbols can no longer recognize a real, material event as material. At least this can be fun! 220 tons of matter wedges in a canal and we all ask in unison, "What is this about?" and answer: 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨.
The Boat is of course only incidentally a boat, and primarily a manifestation of the online mind's inability to quit take-making and be about anything other than itself. It is the collective large adult son of The Discourse.

This is a great take, someone pay me to write this up.
Read 4 tweets
26 Mar
RIP to an unrivaled literary king. Hope they bury him by that little grove down near Austin. Image
Read 6 tweets
2 Mar
Texas is done with Covid; I hope Covid is done with Texas.
Abbott ending business restrictions can surely be argued, but there’s just no good substantive reason to end the mask mandate, unless accompanied by clear messaging that it’s still a strongly urged voluntary measure until herd immunity is reached.
Lockdowns are brutal; masks are just annoying. Even given uncertainty, the probable benefit-to-cost ratio is better than perhaps any other measure except vaccines. It’s stupid to participate in tribalizing it, which Abbott seems to be doing.
Read 5 tweets
2 Mar
Even if you believe true career destruction is still a rarity (I wouldn't), the mere threat of it leads to a much broader dynamic: You certainly *can* voice opinions outside the orthodoxy on certain subjects, but to do it, you pretty much have to make a career of it.
That very high cost of entry — which applies to anyone hoping for a sustained presence in public life — distorts the intellectual marketplace in ways that entrench conformist, pitchbot-predictable takes on left and right alike.
*(I don't), nerts.
Read 6 tweets
19 Feb
Much of the public health community now sees its purpose as achieving a capacious, daily-shifting definition of justice more than as healing medical illness. It either refuses to see that one can conflict with the other, or does but considers this a sign of devotion to the cause.
"We made a world-historic breakthrough silver-bullet vaccine? Say, this seems like a good opportunity to settle some scores."
"Gosh, why don't people trust us anymore"
Read 5 tweets
18 Feb
"I've received word that South Austin Hospital has no water and is not accepting any new patients in their ED."

Sobering Facebook post from Dr. Chris Ziebell, emergency medicine chief at Dell Medical School. Image
Sent by @Jamesmarroquin: St. David's South Austin is transferring patients out due to lack of water. Brodie location is flooded. Image
Bump on this for the people asking me earlier why it's a such a BFD when roads are impassable during a meltdown of all other infrastructure.
Read 4 tweets
17 Feb
Purely my gut sense, but I think most people are floored by the collapse of government's ability to handle the most basic collective-action functions and will support whoever can plausibly claim to get the trains running on time, whatever ideological banner they're flying.
Although I'm not hearing that message from Dems, somehow I suspect that the "this is all AOC's fault" message isn't going to do the trick either.
The Texas GOP is doing everything it can to set up this fight on terms they will lose.…
Read 8 tweets
16 Feb
Reading between the lines of the very limited info coming out of @ERCOT_ISO, it sounds like they may well expect substantial capacity restoration not to come until generating stations see full thaw from the weather, which could be Friday or Saturday.
I say this because most info about the outage focuses on generators knocked offline by weather. Not clear whether that's just freezing temps or ice and snow. But there's no discussion of how generators will come back during freeze, and lots of warning about further cold weather.
So ... it sure sounds like the @ERCOT_ISO is saying its hands are largely tied until weather improves, which I imagine means gets and stays substantially enough above freezing for equipment to unfreeze and perhaps be repaired. And here's the forecast.
Read 5 tweets
16 Feb
Totally unsurprising that they're extending the predicted outage. The info provided has offered little reason to support the prediction that power would come back on this afternoon — and not much reason to be confident it'll be back tomorrow either.
Most of the communications coming out of @austinenergy and @ERCOT_ISO are simple expectations-management, buck-passing, and obfuscation. No meaningful info on when residents might have power again.
It's almost inevitable now that some of the millions of Texans without heat will die in their homes. @ERCOT_ISO and local utilities offered no warning this might happen and continue to play a "could be back on soon, maybe" game instead of leveling about how bad it may yet get.
Read 7 tweets
16 Feb
As hundreds of thousands of Austin residents are going on their 30th hour without power during the second or third coldest stretch of weather in recorded history, some questions for @austinenergy and @ERCOT_ISO.
Outages were originally said to be rolling, from 10-40 minutes. Many are on day 2. The last estimate, from yesterday, vaguely says outages "may last" through Tue afternoon.

What is this based on and why should residents have more confidence in it than the last estimate?
Specifically: The reason stated for the outages is record demand (seemingly from people heating their homes) coupled with cold weather taking generation sites offline. One or both of those things has to change for power to come back this afternoon. Which do you expect it to be?
Read 12 tweets
20 Nov 20
I'll get as close to this as I can, but anyway, here's a useful example of how to drive underground the risk-taking behavior most everyone is doing and get them to not even bother anymore with managing it.
There's a way to talk about pandemic behavior as a referendum on other people's souls, and there's a way talk about it as seeking the good where the perfect is not achievable. A lot of risky pandemic behavior is driven by rebellion against the first, not incidentally.
These things are not unrelated; the pandemic most assuredly is a referendum on our souls. But the aim of public health messaging must be establishing the trust necessary to achieve pragmatic goals. Salvation is below their pay grade.
Read 4 tweets
20 Nov 20
Real talk: A lot of people will not cancel Thanksgiving, and insisting that people must sets up those who decide to proceed for a full ah-screw-it. Better to encourage that those who do gather open windows, gather outside if weather permits, and limit visits with older relatives.
I'll put cards on the table and say that I am gathering with my immediate family for Thanksgiving. We're all getting Covid tests before we arrive.
Again — I think it's good to continue talking up the wisdom of not gathering for Thanksgiving at all. But don't stake your plan on everyone adhering to it; accept and engage with those who won't.
Read 5 tweets
30 Sep 20
This is a falsehood. Scientists did not do a series of crash studies in two weeks in March that upended decades of research. Rather, the prudential judgment about fragmentary information changed. This here is why the public does not trust experts:…
This is largely the same lie Frieden's CDC told the public in 2014, when it claimed that masks were not necessary to protect health care workers from Ebola, then reversed its stance after a nurse caught Ebola from her patient, but claimed it didn't.…
During both Ebola and early Covid, we were told by various public health officials that not only was wearing masks not necessary, it was counterproductive because it would falsely scare people — and the *real* contagions were fear, misinformation, and xenophobia.
Read 5 tweets