Understating Airborne Covid-19

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My title is slightly misleading but meant to tell you what this essay is about. I want to talk about recent reports that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, is airborne.

The concept of airborne in thinking about pathogens is probably the single most misunderstood thing in epidemiology, not by epidemiologists but by regular people. It is also probably the most evocative, and stupifying. Recently, the word “airborne” has been used in discussions of Covid-19, and this led to many extreme reactions. Like this:

Input: Bla bla bla Covid-19 bla bla bla airborne.

Output: All the credible experts have agreed that Covid is airbone! it is no longer spread by contact, but now it is airborne! The Fauci mutation probably made it airborne! And so on!

SARS-CoV-2 is spread by shedding from an infected person’s respiratory system and getting into a new host’s respiratory system via droplets of mucus that go from hand to hand, hand to mouth, mouth to hand, mouth or nose to surface, surface to hand then hand to mouth, etc. Human upper respiratory bodily fluids (snot, etc.) get on stuff and then people touch stuff and then it get into their respiratory system. This is how most cold and flu infections are passed on, generally. That is not airborne spread.

Among all the many viruses that give us colds or the flu — the many strains of influenza, rhinovirus, coronaviruses other than SARS-CoV-2, etc. — this is how infection happens.

Again, this is not airborne spread. It might be airborne in your head, because you imagine someone sneezing, into the air, droplets of virus-containing spittle and snot flying around in the air, and since that stuff flies through the air it must therefore airborne. But that is not what airborne means, and the distinction is important.

There is probably a certain amount of true airborne transmission in any of the above mentioned categories of virus, including the flu and more common colds. But it is rare enough that these diseases are not said to be airborne.

So what is airborne then, if it is not simply flying snot particles?

Airborne spread requires several things to be true often enough that an observable number of cases were spread in this way. First, the virus must be aerosolized. This means that the virus is embedded in a very small gobs of snot, perhaps near 5 microns, droplets that are small enough to be suspended in the air. Larger drops will fall out of the air, these smaller drops will float in the air like they were part of the air. They act like a gas in the air.

The droplets also have to be small enough to get into the parts of the respiratory system that the virus targets, which for SARS-CoV-2 is not too much of a limiting factor since it likes to inhabit the upper respiratory tract. But, since it also can invade the lungs, there would be the possibility that airborne transmission would be more associated with a more serious infection, if and when it happens.

Airborne spread also requires that the virus can live in the air long enough to get to its target. The longer the virus can live in the air, the worse of a problem it is because it can travel farther, through ventilation systems, down hallways, etc. There is no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 does that like, say measles, the king of airborne infection does it. Whatever environmental conditions are experienced by this suspended droplet have to NOT kill the virus. IV light kills SARS-CoV-2, so it is not going to get far during the day, outside, when the sun is out. SARS-CoV-2 might like certain humidity levels. None of this is really known for SARS-CoV-2, but it is a virus of type that we generally know about. Other forms of coronavirus are known to survive a while in the air, so that may pertain here. Be cautious in reacting to what you hear though. Detecting a virus some distance away from a sneeze does not mean that the virus is viable or capable of infection

Also, the virus has to be out there in the air in sufficient numbers to actually cause an infection. One would think that it only takes one single virus to infect someone, but generally it takes a much larger number. There seems to be a threshold for most viruses. The body dispenses of the first N viruses, then after that it gets harder, and eventually the system is overwhelmed. Maybe. The point is, virus experts will tell you that is has to be a large number for most viruses, and this is certainly true for SARS-CoV-2.

Truly aerosolized, viable, in sufficient numbers.

Finally, note that if SARS-CoV-2 was mainly airborne, we would know it by now. You can look at it, epidemiologically, and say, no, the main form of transmission is not airborne. That does not mean that there is not an airborne component, but it means that airborne is not the major way of spread. That has not changed.

What does the new research tell us?

Well, by the standards of peer reviewed scientific research, pretty much nothing, because that research is still in its infancy. But here is what happened. Several cases of infection have been reported that can be best explained by airborne infection. How many? So few that some would interpret that as potentially useless data. These may be cases that are simply misreported. Somebody licked someone else’s tongue and refuses to admit it. Does that really happen? Well, ask any expert on the epidemiology of sexually transmitted diseases about it. Of course it can. Most rare cases can be explained away or ignored.

But in this case, a large number of experts have settled on a provisional consensus: They see enough cases of possible airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to ask the overarching institutional authorities like the CDC to seriously consider it and look into it. Yeah, that is it. Important, concerning, should shape policy modestly for now, requires more consideration. The smart money is on SARS-CoV-2 being transmittable via aerosol, though that will probably not be the main modality of transmission in most settings. That is my bet. Airborne transmission can happen, and will happen in some cases. More on that below. But, this is provisional.

What this does not mean.

This does not mean that there is a new mutation. Repeat: this is not a new mutation. This has been there all along, and the fact that it has not been obvious since the beginning means, as stated, this is not the new mode of transmission. This does not mean that the virus has changed. Probably.

This also has no impact on mask wearing. Airborne transmission will go right around the masks most people wear, but we already know that if airborne transmission is happening, it is not the main way the virus is spread. This is NOT AN ARGUMENT TO NOT WEAR MASKS so don’t go making that argument or you are a full-on jerk. Ignorant jerk. I know you won’t, but if you see that argument being made by others, that is what you are seeing. That argument is so stupid, you can expect Trump to make it soon.

What this might mean.

This is the important part of all this, worthy of careful consideration. Assume that normal near-distance non airborne transmission is the normal and most common form of transmission by a large margin. We assume that if people are kept a minimum of 6 feet away from each other (or 10 if you like) and do not share objects with their hands and faces, i.e, social distancing, that transmission will be minimized. This works for social gatherings, according to some, especially if masks are worn.

However, over longer term, while people are avoiding infecting each other by keeping their mucus to themselves, a low level background transmission via the air could be happening at a small level.

It would be rare. Say one hour of exposure within a single medium size room with modest air circulation has a one in a thousand chance of one infected person giving the disease to one other person in the room. (I am totally making up all these numbers, but just bear with me.)

But now, we take that room and put between zero and three infected people in it, and 30 target non infected people. But we put then in that room for 8 hours, and do that for 185 days. This configuration of people might sound familiar to you.

This is a classroom full of students social distancing. But wait, you say, if they are social distancing, they can’t fit 30 people in the room. But you would be wrong in some cases. Elementary schools with the pod system have four classes of 30 (including teachers) in the room. They will get their social distancing by spreading out into larger rooms in closed high schools or other places (gyms, etc.), so the main class of about 30 is still in one room. Maybe not. The point is, in the worst case scenario, we divide 1,000 by 8 (hours) then again by 185 (days) to get a baseline on transmission probability (though the math is slightly more complex than that) to arrive at this conclusion: Transmission within the classroom where there are one or two virus shedding individuals on any given day is nearly inevitable if there is a low probability of airborne transmission. Most classrooms may have zero infected people most of the time, but in a given school there would be several classes. In a given school system, maybe dozens and dozens.

If the air circulation does not remove the viruses, maybe they are being spread across the school. Students passing in halls, or any classes where the kids are reshuffled add to the dynamic, families with multiple kids (or both kids and staff) in the same school, etc. add to the dynamic.

You can do a similar calculation for restaurants and bars. Regular inside dining and bar hopping even with social distancing and mask wearing is probably not recommended if there is a low level of airborne transmission. More limitations on how retail shopping happens may be recommended. Certainly, unnecessary retail shopping maybe an unnecessary danger.

The final meaning of it all: When it comes to basic day to day life, under the current conditions of caution and distancing, this airborne problem would not have that much of an effect because it has to be rare. We know it is rare (if it is real) because if it was common we would see it. But, under school or large workplace reopening conditions, or reopening of indoor dining and shopping, etc., it may be a factor that causes two really bad problems.

1) More outbreaks, and some insidious ones. The school children, some getting very sick and maybe dying, others never becoming ill, passing the disease on to their families. Ignoring the airborne problem may involve asking our children to kill their grandparents, then live with that for the rest of their lives. You might get sick because you needed to shop for a new comic book or try out the headphones at the electronic store instead of ordering on line.

2) Not discussed anywhere else as far as I know, but I would thing obvious: if we set up a situation where the rare airborne transmission has a better chance of actually transmitting the disease, we may also be setting up a positive selective environment for that. In other words, we may help make SARS-CoV-2 more airborne by giving it this chance. That is pure speculation on my part, but speculation based on some damn powerful theory (Darwinian evolution). It is not a chance I’d like to take.


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The War On Science Is Over, Though The Fight Continues

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The Battle of New Orleans, one of the major battles of the War of 1812, was fought on January 8th, 1815. The War of 1812 had ended the previous December. Awkward. In South Africa, the “Second Boer War” broke out for a number of reasons, but the common thread was about how the various territories of the region should be organized and governed. War was declared in October 1899, and formally ended on May 31st, 1902. The political and ideological struggle continued, and it was not until 1910 that the first official agreement to address the initial reasons for the war emerged. But even after that the struggle continued. The American Civil War ended on April 9th, 1865. A half dozen major battles and 16 months later, the fighting in that ended war petered out. The ideological struggle related to that war continues today, and thousands have died over it, after it was over.

A purely ideological war (though not without material casualties) is the war against the teaching of evolution in American public schools. There was a lot of action in that war throughout much of the 20th century. On December 20th, 2005, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania decided Tammy Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District in favor of the science of evolution being taught unfettered, and identified the last breath of a pseudo-scientific creationist doctrine as an expression of religion. Sure, people still continued to fight over the issue, but after the Dover decision, there were very few significant fights in public schools over evolution, the battles being brought to state legislatures, where they never took root because of Dover. Fighting continued, ideological battles continued, just like in all those other wars, but the war on evolution in the US public school system ended in December 2005.

I declare the war on science over this month, July, 2020. Nice round patriotic number. We can pick a date later after history has sorted out some details. But the war ended when this happened: American anti science forces having spent months telling people that Covid-19 was a hoax, not really deadly, not really as bad as it seemed, and that masks did not really matter … well, they started wearing masks. Pence and Trump surrendered the war when they said wear masks. The people in my local grocery store, that had been not wearing masks, masked up. The end. War over.

Most of my friends are pedantic skeptics, just like you dear reader, and you won’t let me say that the war on science is over because bla bla bla bla. That is why I wrote the little introduction at the beginning of this blog post. If we treat every thing like we were Wikipedia editors, than every thing would be slightly to very warped and things like wars would never be over. Get over it. This war is over, even if sporadic fighting continues until the Sun expands.

By the way, did you notice that there are some wars that actually unambiguously end, like World War II? Do you know why they get to end but other wars, from a pedantic perspective, never do? I’m not sure but I think those are wars started by individuals, or small groups of different kings or leaders, then when the opposition (usually, the good guys) catch up to them and put them down, the war ends, more or less instantly. But I digress.

There is still a fight, there are still more fights over science and justice and all that. But the systematic Republican controlled war on science in America got won. By us.

Mask up!


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I shall not presume to dwell at length about the associations that cluster about this day….

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And if you like that kind of talk, I’ve got more for you in a minute.

The person who said those words was the Vice Presidential running mate on the Equal Rights Party ticket (though he did not ask to be). He was a criminal; born a slave, but escaped. He’s on a stamp. Two stamps, I think. He wrote this book, this book, and this book. And, he gave a few speeches.

Here are some great kids, and by “great” I mean “great, great, great, great, great!” kids giving his Forth of July Speech, originally delivered on July 5th, 1852. By Frederick Douglass

Don’t be fulled by the children’s brevity. Nobody was brief in 1852. Here is the full speech: Continue reading I shall not presume to dwell at length about the associations that cluster about this day….


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Your Normal Fourth

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I read the news today, oh boy. To coin a phrase.

Here is what my local paper’s headline said: “Socializing is a must for many on the 4th.”

Digging in we find that “For some, it was a time to throw caution to the wind and reclaim normalcy as they headed to a lake cabins, parks and backyard barbecues…Across the state, Minnesotans are making their own decisions while health care and government officials hold their breath…”

The quest for normalcy is powerful enough to make people dishonest with themselves, so you get sentences of this form: “I heard the Virus did/didn’t really do this/that/other thing, so I guess it is OK if I whatever-whevever [fill in idiotic decision here].”

Let me tell you what normal is. You go a week without a funeral. Several weeks. Maybe months, or a year. Normal is not when one of your relatives, friends, work associates, one of the kids in your child’s class, or the parent of one of the kids, or the old person that lives two doors down but you never talk to much but they just took her away in the ambulance, or a checkout person who’s name you never knew, or two of the nurses at the hospital your kid was born in, etc. etc. … normal is not when one of those people dies on average about every 14 day or so (but sometimes with longer gaps, sometimes in clusters) at the peak of Your Local Epidemic.

If you want to achieve normalcy during the 365 days between moments of must, when you must do the thing that is least recommended by people who must be much smarter than you are, then you must not. This applies to gatherings on the fourth, it will apply to all the holidays throughout much of the year. Next winter holidays, like Christmas and New years, or before that, Halloween which seems to have become the local Spring Break party holiday among America’s 20-somethings, or the most traveled day of the year, Thanksgiving, if you must seek normalcy the grim reaper must seek your family and fiends.

And eventually, not your parents, cousins, children, or neighbors. But you. Ask not for whom the germ theory tolls.


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Donald Trump Says: “Do not buy this book.”

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This is the description of Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary Trump.

In this revelatory, authoritative portrait of Donald J. Trump and the toxic family that made him, Mary L. Trump, a trained clinical psychologist and Donald’s only niece, shines a bright light on the dark history of their family in order to explain how her uncle became the man who now threatens the world’s health, economic security, and social fabric.

Mary Trump spent much of her childhood in her grandparents’ large, imposing house in the heart of Queens, where Donald and his four siblings grew up. She describes a nightmare of traumas, destructive relationships, and a tragic combination of neglect and abuse. She explains how specific events and general family patterns created the damaged man who currently occupies the Oval Office, including the strange and harmful relationship between Fred Trump and his two oldest sons, Fred Jr. and Donald.

A firsthand witness to countless holiday meals and family interactions, Mary brings an incisive wit and unexpected humor to sometimes grim, often confounding family events. She recounts in unsparing detail everything from her uncle Donald’s place in the family spotlight and Ivana’s penchant for regifting to her grandmother’s frequent injuries and illnesses and the appalling way Donald, Fred Trump’s favorite son, dismissed and derided him when he began to succumb to Alzheimer’s.

Numerous pundits, armchair psychologists, and journalists have sought to parse Donald J. Trump’s lethal flaws. Mary L. Trump has the education, insight, and intimate familiarity needed to reveal what makes Donald, and the rest of her clan, tick. She alone can recount this fascinating, unnerving saga, not just because of her insider’s perspective but also because she is the only Trump willing to tell the truth about one of the world’s most powerful and dysfunctional families.


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How Trump Ends: A Fantasy

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During the rally in Tulsa, Trump jokes. (Read the following with your best internal Trump voice)

“I know some of you, maybe many of you. Many many. Maybe, I know, many of you will get COVID. The Chinese Flu, I call it. I call it the Chi-Neez flu. I know many many of you will get it because you are here with me today. All crowded in. And boy, do I love to see the crowd. All crowded in together.

Please, though, don’t die before November 3rd, alright? I need you to vote. Not that I need you, really, I’ll win anyway. But it would be nice if you lived long enough to vote.”

Over the next 30 minutes the penny drops. Thousands of pennies drop. The crown starts to leave, then streams out, like Minnesotans to their cars halfway through a Twins game during a bad season.

And from there on it, Trump, all of it, dwindles away.

The penny drops idiom

British, informal

—used to say that someone finally understands something after not understanding it for a time.

Example:

I had to explain it to him three times, but finally the penny dropped.


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Evidence that Trump might be a dictator emerges. Everyone is really surprised.

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Trump’s fake justice department is going after John Bolton, to stop the publication of his book “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir.” It is said the book contains significant damning evidence of Trump wrongdoing.

Important subplot: Trump says he officially classifies all conversations he ever had with Bolton about anything. Therefore, if Bolton reveals any conversation at all, that he is a criminal, and will hopefully be prosecuted.

This is what dictators do. They play with the law. Trump, as dictator, could just declare Bolton to be a traitor and have him arrested and sent to Gitmo (maybe Trump doesn’t know he has that power?) but he plays around with it like this, makes the point more clear: Anyone who interferes with Trump’s power is in trouble.

And that, dear fellow voter, includes you.

Details here.


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Superlative Beauty and Beautiful Superlatives in Nature: Books

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Superlative: The Biology of Extremes is almost as extreme, or shall we say, hopeful, in its marketing-cover claims as the animals discussed are outlandish. If the cure for cancer was going to be found in a shark, we would have already found it. But despite what the book promises on its cover, Matthew D. LaPlante’s book is a detailed, engaging, and informative look at ongoing and recent scientific research from the perspective of an experienced journalist.

There are three categories of science book authors: Scientists, who write the best ones most of the time, science-steeped (often trained-as-scientists) science writers, who can write some pretty good books, and journalists who delve into the science and sometimes write amazing books, other times write books that are good books but not necessarily good science books. Superlative: The Biology of Extremes is in the higher end of the last category. It is about the scientists, the teams, the work more than the cells and polymers.

Also, LaPlante has another set of credentials: He is deeply, severely, hated by Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck. Oh, also, the book is at present deeply on sale.

Animal Beauty: On the Evolution of Biological Aesthetics (The MIT Press) is sort of the opposite.

This is a series of essays by biologist Chrisiane Nusslein-Volhard, engagingly and skillfully illustrated by Suse Grutzmacher (and translated by Jonathan Howard) about the aesthetic sense talked about by Darwin, its evolution, distribution, function, meaning, across animals. The essays take a Tinbergian approach to explore most aspects of how thinks look or are looked at, how paterns, colors, and other features play ar ole in sexual selection, and how the underlying genetic connect to these important surface features, allowing us to understand the phylogeny of this physical-behavioral nexus. This is the scientist talking about the science. The book itself is also a bit unusual, as it is designed to fit comfortably in a pocket or purse. Take it to the dentist office or hair stylist! (When the Pandemic is over.)


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Overthrowing The Big Bang Theory

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Dear Professional Physicist,

I have a new theory of the origin of the universe.

(You’re old theory vs my new theory)

I would like you to stop what you are doing and listen to my theory, which simultaneously explains why everything you know is wrong, but that’s OK, I know what is TRUE INSTEAD.

There are still some details to work out….

No, but seriously, check out this new book: The Cosmic Revolutionary’s Handbook: (Or: How to Beat the Big Bang) by Luke Barnes and Geraint Lewis.

If you read a lot of books about cosmology and the universe, you will not find much new in this book, but you will find new ways to think about all that old stuff. If you really do have a new theory of everything, this book will give you some useful advice on how to buy your ticket into the physics game. Like, that you have to make sure your theory of everything works in a way that does not result in the night sky being as bright as the day sky, or makes light do something it does not do, and so on. Also, do not use many different TYPE FACES AND all caps in your write-up.

Interestingly, one of the things the actual-cosmologists-authors do NOT say is something I often hear from pro-physicists about TOE-pushers. They don’t say “if you don’t have a mathematical formula for your theory, it isn’t a theory.” I hear that all the time and I always thought there was something wrong with that. Seems to me that a totally wrong mathematical theory is too much of a likelihood.

The best overview of this book, which you SHOULD read, is from the authors themselves who made a video talking about the book. Here:

See? Visual proof that this is a good book. Check out The Cosmic Revolutionary’s Handbook: (Or: How to Beat the Big Bang). As of this writing, on sale now.*


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Trump, Tulsa, COVID-19’s Wet Dream, Just Desserts

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The 19th of June is Juneteenth.

It celebrates one date in a series of dates at the end of the Civil War when African Americans who were slaves gained their freedom in either legal or pragmatic terms.

That freedom did not, of course, end racial violence. One example of racial violence was the Tulsa Massacre, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. You can go read about it. Nobody really knows how bad it was. Thousands of African American people were burned out of their homes, interned, wounded or killed. Whites died as well. That happened at the end of May, 1921.

We are having a pandemic and there are concerns that large indoor gatherings would spread the infection.

We are having a revolution in which Americans are being forced to come to terms with deeply ingraned, systemic, and systematic racism that involves the widespread incarceration and murder of African Americans, many men. The number of African Americans incarcerated and killed each year in America exceeds that which occurred at the Tulsa Massacre, or approximately so, by my estimation.

So, naturally, Donald Trump is planning a huge indoor rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Juneteenth.

The White House has issued a statement that Trump’s choice of Juneteenth for this rally is entirely a coincidence. They also issued a statement that Trump chose Juneteenth because African Americans are very “near and dear” to his heart.

Three thoughts come to mind.

1) People who reject science, and are willing to embrace Trump’s anti-science yammering, are walking into a death trap. Have a nice death trap. Shame on you for the people you will secondarily infect. Do not come near me or my family after this rally.

2) With enough people in a large venue inside, breathing, Trump will have maximal chance of being infected with the virus and getting COVID-19. This rally could kill him. It would be the end of a long national nightmare. We can only hope this is a suicide rally for Trump, because he is killing us and that has to top.

3) It would be funny if very few people showed up at the rally. It is possible. Such things have happened before.


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Radical Conditions: Books

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A selection of fairly new books that seems suddenly more appropriate than usual:

Food or War by Julian Cribb, author of Open Science [OP]: Sharing Knowledge in the Global Century

Ours is the Age of Food. Food is a central obsession in all cultures, nations, the media, and society. Our future supply of food is filled with risk, and history tells us that lack of food leads to war. But it also presents us with spectacular opportunities for fresh human creativity and technological prowess. Julian Cribb describes a new food system capable of meeting our global needs on this hot and overcrowded planet. This book is for anyone concerned about the health, safety, affordability, diversity, and sustainability of their food – and the peace of our planet. It is not just timely – its message is of the greatest urgency. Audiences include consumers, ‘foodies’, policymakers, researchers, cooks, chefs and farmers. Indeed, anyone who cares about their food, where it comes from and what it means for them, their children and grandchildren.

Anarchist Pedagogies: Collective Actions, Theories, and Critical Reflections on Education edited by Robert Haworth.

Important and challenging issues in the area of anarchism and education are presented in this history of egalitarian and free-school practices. From Francisco Ferrer’s modern schools in Spain and the Work People’s College in the United States, to contemporary actions in developing “free skools” in the United Kingdom and Canada, the contributors illustrate the importance of developing complex connections between educational theories and collective actions. Major themes in the volume include learning from historical anarchist experiments in education, ways that contemporary anarchists create dynamic and situated learning spaces, and critical reflections on theoretical frameworks and educational practices. Many trailblazing thinkers and practitioners contributed to this volume, such as Jeffery Shantz, John Jordon, Abraham de Leon, Richard Kahn, Matthew Weinstein, and Alex Khasnabish. This thoughtful and provocative collection proves that egalitarian education is possible at all ages and levels.

Anarchism and Education: A Philosophical Perspective (Routledge International Studies in the Philosophy of Education (Numbered)) by Judith Suissa.

Arguing that the central role of educational practice in anarchist theory and activism has been overlooked by many theorists, this examination of contemporary educational philosophy counters the assertion that anarchism reflects a naïve or overly optimistic view of human nature. By articulating the philosophical underpinnings of anarchist thought on issues of human nature, freedom, authority, and social change, the case is made that the anarchist tradition can be a rich source of insights into perennial philosophical questions about education. This theoretical exploration is then bolstered with a historical account of anarchist education, focusing on key defining features of anarchist schools, their ideological underpinnings, and their pedagogical approaches. Finally, a clear explanation of how anarchist education is distinct from libertarian, progressive, Marxist, and liberal models defines the role of anarchist education in furthering and sustaining a just and equal society.


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Make Your Own Games using Scratch

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Scratch is a computer programming language that is designed for use by children to learn programming, but that is also serving as a paradigm for STEM programming more broadly, and I suspect, for IOT programming of the future. Programs are written in scratch by assembling shapes that represent programming structures or objects.

For example, look at the code block to the right. This is an object that is called when the user clicks on the green flag button on the user interface. That green flag is how one starts a program in Scratch. This is hooked, literally, to a “forever” lop. Within the forever loop, execution (of that object) is delayed for a fifth of a second, then an “If” statement is executed. If the object linked to this object (such as a sprite that might be able to move around on the screen) has come into contact with something green, a chomp sound is made.

The Scratch interface is normally accessed on a web page, and in that context, every single Scratch programmer (that uses the basic interface) has access to every bit of code developed and saved by every other programmer. Or, you can run it on your own computer.

You will see scratch like coding in Lego projects, in association with various robot kits, and I suspect over time, with Internet of Things objects. The coding is so straight forward that even Mikey can do it.

The book Make Your Own Scratch Games! by Anna Anthropy, produced by No Starch Press, brings an elementary school or middle school age kid, or an adult who just wants to screw around, through the process of developing three significant game projects and countless elements that users can use for a number, approaching infinity, of different games.

As is usual for No Starch books, the source code is available, but more importantly, among the on line resources are certain graphics and sound files and such used in the game making.

This is a great book for STEM oriented kids, and Scratch is a great Age of Covid activity.

Anna Anthropy is a video game creator and game historian, and author of Rise of the Videogame Zinesters: How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Drop-outs, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back an Art Form, a guide to game design that encourages aspiring developers from all backgrounds to create games and contribute their unique voice to the video game industry. Her most recent book, ZZT, explores a shareware game from the ’90s and its lasting impact on developers everywhere.


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The Art of Melania Trump’s Deal

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When I first heard of this book I assumed it would be a prurient one-off by some hack reporter. Turns out it is a well researched and important contribution to the story of the metastasizing Trump “Presidency.”

“Based on interviews with more than one hundred people in five countries, The Art of Her Deal: The Untold Story of Melania Trump draws an unprecedented portrait of the first lady. While her public image is of an aloof woman floating above the political gamesmanship of Washington, behind the scenes Melania Trump is not only part of President Trump’s inner circle, but for some key decisions she has been his single most influential adviser.”

The Art of Her Deal: The Untold Story of Melania Trump by Mary Jordan, Washington Post reporter.


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