Keeping up with the FITs, No. 17

Matt Yglesias writes,

In other words, the normal way of looking at climate change is something like “electrify everything we can and then get all our electricity from zero-carbon sources, and then kind of pray something works out in the edge cases.” But if you had much more zero-carbon electricity than that, you could solve all the hard cases or simply keep burning some fossil fuel where you really need it and use more electricity to solve your problems.

He is arguing against what I call Primitivism. Primitives want to eliminate fossil fuels by substitution, which is going to reduce labor productivity. Yglesias has other ideas, e.g.

One convenient fix for climate change would be large-scale direct air capture technology where machines act like supertrees, sucking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and storing it somewhere.

Of course, one can argue about whether the technologies he endorses are realistic.

Emily Oster extols the virtues of rapid COVID tests.

Rapid tests do a very good job of picking up COVID when people are highly infectious, whether they are symptomatic, pre-symptomatic, or asymptomatic but with an infectious viral load. If you know when you were exposed, this infectious period is usually two to five days after exposure. They are also easy and fast, and you can use them in your home or on the go, even daily if needed. 

Speaking of COVID, the Zvi writes,

it seems like vaccination is more of a ‘reduce severity’ play similar to treating the ill, and combining that with good treatment seems like a perfectly acceptable solution, at which point we wouldn’t need to do prevention. That’s what most excites me about a new treatment – that it could reduce the ‘price of infection’ for the vaccinated sufficiently to make many people sane again.

And Matt Taibbi notes,

it took less than 24 hours for the drug — barely tested, let alone released yet — to be accused of prolonging the pandemic. By the third day, mentions of molnupiravir in news reports nearly all came affixed to stern reminders of its place beneath vaccines in the medical hierarchy, as in the New York Times explaining that Dr. Anthony Fauci, who initially told reporters the new drug was “impressive,” now “warned that Americans should not wait to be vaccinated because they believe they can take the pill.”

My sense of the current politics of COVID:

The Republican base: vaccines bad, because Let’s Go Brandon!

The Democratic elites: pharmaceutical to treat COVID bad, because Trump bad; mask mandates and lockdowns good, because Republican base bad

And speaking of crazy culture wars, Bari Weiss hosts Maud Maron.

I am a mother of four, a criminal defense attorney and a lifelong liberal who is deeply concerned about the direction of New York City’s public schools. I’ve been outspoken about my views, along with an untold number of frustrated parents. For that, the FBI is considering using the PATRIOT Act against me. 

One of the phenomena that interests me about institutional irrationality is the way that as an institution suffers a loss of trust it turns to coercion, which only increases distrust. I refer to this as shifting from a prestige hierarchy to a dominance hierarchy. Public schools appear to be going through this process.