Chinese Doctors Wear Adult Diapers to Avoid Taking Off Their One-Per-Day One-Piece Protective Suit

(p. A1) The coronavirus outbreak has exposed the jarring absence in China of a vibrant civil society — the civic associations like business groups, nonprofit organizations, charities and churches that bring people together without involving the government.

. . .

(p. A10) “The traditional management mechanism of ‘big government’ is no longer efficient, and is even failing,” Duan Zhanjiang, a management consultant, wrote in an article about managing the epidemic. “The government is very busy but not effective.

. . .

The Communist Party has never liked or trusted civil society. It is suspicious of any organization that could potentially pose challenge to its rule, including big private enterprises. It has cracked down on nongovernment organizations like rights groups and charities as well as churches and mosques. The party wants nothing to stand between its government and China’s 1.4 billion people.

Big Chinese corporations and wealthy individuals have been donating, many generously. But they also try to keep low profiles for fear of offending a government that is eager to take credit for any success and quick to suspect outside groups of challenging it.

Those gaps are evident on the front lines of the outbreak, where workers have lacked the proper equipment to keep themselves safe. Doctors and nurses wear disposable raincoats instead of protective gowns. They wear ordinary, and inadequate, surgical masks while conducting dangerous throat swab tests. They wear adult diapers because, once they take off their one-piece protective suits, the suits will have to be thrown away. They get only one per day.

For the full commentary, see:

Li Yuan. “THE NEW NEW WORLD; China Blocks Ally in Virus Fight: Its Own People.” The New York Times (Wednesday, February 19, 2020): A1 & A10.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date April 5, 2020, and has the same title “THE NEW NEW WORLD; In Coronavirus Fight, China Sidelines an Ally: Its Own People.”)

“Rage and Despair” Outpace Chinese Communists’ “Army of Censors”

(p. A9) HONG KONG — Under normal circumstances, Patrick Wu, a college student from Anhui Province in China’s east, knows better than to talk to his parents about politics.

Mr. Wu, a senior at a university in Beijing, is a self-described skeptic of the Chinese government. His parents are local government officials.

But recent months have been anything but normal. The coronavirus outbreak, and its political implications, have been all that Mr. Wu, 21, thinks about.

. . .

“Things just got out of control. You could see people dying at home,” Mr. Wu said. “I just felt like more people should know about this, and I should open myself to more conversations about this — at least with my parents, who I can trust.”

His parents, from the start, resisted. “Their first reaction was shock and rejection: ‘How could this happen in Wuhan? It must be fake,’” Mr. Wu recalled.

After they were persuaded that the outbreak was genuine, they rejected that Chinese officials had at first covered it up and questioned how it could have exploded so quickly.

Were people who eat wild animals to blame, they asked after the virus was linked to a Wuhan market that sells wildlife. Or maybe the United States planted the virus, his parents said, considering an unfounded conspiracy theory peddled by a top Chinese government spokesman.

“I think the gap in information is too big, and sometimes I alone can’t fill it,” Mr. Wu said.

Slowly, though, he felt his mother relenting. The sheer number of online posts about the virus outpaced even the government’s army of censors. Rage and despair found their way into his parents’ social media feeds, and when a whistle-blower doctor, Li Wenliang, died of the coronavirus, prompting an online revolt against censorship, it was Mr. Wu’s mother who alerted him to the news.

For the full story, see:

Vivian Wang. “INSIDE THE OUTBREAK; Stuck With His Parents and Sparring Over Politics.” The New York Times (Wednesday, April 1, 2020): A9.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date March 31, 2020, and has the title “INSIDE THE OUTBREAK; Quarreling in Quarantine and Bridging a Generational Divide.”)

Scientists Are “a Political Interest Group Like Any Other”

(p. B15) Mr. Greenberg, who spent most of his professional life in Washington, became a science journalist at a time when many practitioners seemed to view their job as advancing the cause of research — a consideration that many researchers expected.

As an author, newspaper reporter and magazine editor, and as the founding editor and publisher of Science & Government Report, a newsletter he ran for almost 30 years, Mr. Greenberg took a different view.

From his vantage point in the capital, he tracked scientific rivalries and battles over the government’s science priorities, describing research not as a uniquely worthy activity but rather as one of many enterprises competing for federal largess.

“He recognized that science, and the scientific endeavor broadly, was a political interest group like any other, and they behaved like any other, and he covered them like any other,” said Daniel Sarewitz, a congressional staffer in the science policy arena in the early 1990s and now director of the Washington-based Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes at Arizona State University.

“He was not a toady or an advocate for the science community,” Dr. Sarewitz said. “He was a journalist covering science.”

Writing in The New York Times Book Review in 1968, Robert K. Merton, the eminent 20th-century sociologist of science, said Mr. Greenberg’s “perceptive” first book, “The Politics of Pure Science,” was one that “should be read by the President, legislators, scientists and the rest of us ordinary folk.”

For the full obituary, see:

Cornelia Dean. “Daniel S. Greenberg, 88, Science Journalist.” The New York Times (Thursday, March 26, 2020): B15.

(Note: the online version of the obituary was last updated March 26, 2020, and has the title “Daniel S. Greenberg, Science Journalist and Iconoclast, Dies at 88.” Williams’s question is in bold; Achorn’s answer is not in bold.)

The second edition of the book by Greenberg, mentioned in the passage quoted above, is:

Greenberg, Daniel S. The Politics of Pure Science. Second ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

Stop Shaming Those Who Slow Spread of Covid-19 by Wearing Face Masks

The government has been saying that we shouldn’t wear face masks because they won’t do us any good AND we shouldn’t wear face masks because they WILL do good for health professionals. Tucker Carlson slam-dunked this issue at the end of his show on Monday, March 30th. Maybe the widespread voluntary wearing of masks is part of the reason Japan and South Korea have been less affected by covid-19 than the experts expected. It is in our interest to protect our health professionals by sending scarce masks their way. But at the same time, we should allow the incentives (surge-pricing) that will produce a lot more masks for our health professionals and for us too. And we should not shame those in the general population who choose to wear masks.

French Jobs Rise as Labor Regulations Fall

(p. A1) PARIS — One after another, the speakers in Parliament have denounced President Emmanuel Macron and his revolutionary plans, calling them “cynicism” and a “flagrant crime.” Outside, hundreds of protesters shout their fury. Other demonstrators, invoking a long French tradition, have called for his head.

. . .

(p. A6) Mr. Macron has upset the French, and he is deeply unpopular for it. So it has become the defining paradox of his rule that he remains much despised, even as his changes begin to bear fruit.

The intractable unemployment rate, slayer of his predecessors, appears finally to be bending to a French president’s touch, recently reaching its lowest rate in 12 years at 8.1 percent.

Working-age employment rates are up, worker-training programs are showing big gains, quality long-term job contracts are outpacing precarious, short-term ones.

All of those are advances plausibly attributed to Mr. Macron’s landmark loosening of the rigid French labor market.

For the full story, see:

Adam Nossiter. “As the French Call for His Head, Macron Is Reshaping the Nation.” The New York Times (Wednesday, February 26, 2020): A1 & A6.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Feb. 25, 2020, and has the same title “As Emmanuel Macron’s Impact Grows, So Does French Disdain.”)

“Dirty Little Secret” That Crashes Increase When Intersections Are Converted to Roundabouts

(p. A3) Converting an intersection with a traffic signal to a roundabout results in a 78% decrease in fatalities and injuries, according to the Federal Highway Administration. The downside has been more crashes, mostly fender-benders, at many two-lane roundabouts.

The crash problem has been a “dirty little secret” in the traffic field, said Letty Schamp, deputy engineer for the city of Hilliard, Ohio. “Now people are talking about it.”

Ms. Schamp considers one roundabout her baby because she has worked on the project since it began more than a decade ago, when the area had few roundabouts. The two-lane circular intersection has had more than 660 crashes since it opened in 2012, averaging 82 a year. That is compared with eight a year at the intersection that existed previously, city figures show.

For the full story, see:

Scott Calvert. “Roundabout Wrecks Have Engineers Going in Circles.” The Wall Street Journal (Monday, March 16, 2020): A3.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date March 14, 2020, and has the title “Car-Crash Mystery: Why Can’t Drivers Figure Out Roundabouts?”)

Lincoln Was “Always Full of This Loneliness and Sadness”

(p. C6) What’s the most surprising thing you learned while writing it?

I’ve read all these books about how Lincoln was hated, but I was still surprised by how disdained and disliked he was by so many of his contemporaries. Liberal Republicans thought he was too calculating, too quick to weigh public opinion. Democrats thought he was a tyrant, a rube, and was destroying the Constitution. I think a lot of this was airbrushed out of history after he was assassinated, when he became a martyr. But when you go back to that day and look at what people were saying, you get a stunning sense of what Lincoln was up against. There’s a lot of hostility from all sides. I’m not sure how he withstood it. I guess he was defeated so many times in his life, had been down so many times, that he was able to take almost anything.

And Lincoln is always surprising to me for his extremely peculiar qualities. He’s got this immense intelligence, and he’s always full of this loneliness and sadness. He goes up to the inauguration alone. He’s a strange guy. He has an ability to step outside himself and to view issues dispassionately. All of those qualities are seen in the book.

For the full interview, see:

John Williams, interviewer. “5 THINGS ABOUT YOUR BOOK; Edward Achorn; For Lincoln, a Beginning Near the End.” The New York Times (Monday, February 24, 2020): C6.

(Note: bold in original.)

(Note: the online version of the interview has the date February 24, 2020, and has the title “5 THINGS ABOUT YOUR BOOK; 24 Tense Hours in Abraham Lincoln’s Life.” Williams’s question is in bold; Achorn’s answer is not in bold.)

Achorn’s book, that he discussed in the passages of the interview quoted above, is:

Achorn, Edward. Every Drop of Blood: The Momentous Second Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2020.