There's battle lines being drawn.
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong.
Young people speaking their minds
getting so much resistance from behind

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Linkee-poo Tuesday

That didn't take as long as I thought.

"Here’s what I’m going to tell you about making art in these difficult times: it’s okay if you don’t. It’s okay if you don’t have the energy. It’s okay if you can’t think of good ideas. It’s okay if you can’t string words together. It’s okay if you feel bad about your work right now." DongWon Song on making art in a crisis. I tried to kick out a design for a t-shirt the other day. My brain simply wouldn't work past a superficial level. (Grokked from Elizabeth Bear)

"As writers, teachers, publishers, and booksellers in our local, national, and international communities grapple with how to proceed in their creative, financial, professional, and personal lives during this time of uncertainty, we are compiling a list of resources we hope you will find useful. We will be updating this list as we learn of new resources and opportunities." (Grokked from Deborah Beal)

"Last week, when the Internet Archive announced its 'National Emergency Library,' expanding access to more than a million digitized works, the group explained the move as a goodwill gesture in the time of coronavirus… But there's one major issue that several media outlets, including NPR, failed to mention in covering the decision: Many writers and publishers say the website, even before the creation of this National Emergency Library, has been sharing full digital copies of their books without their permission."

"A painting by Dutch master Vincent van Gogh was stolen in an overnight smash-and-grab raid on a museum that was closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, police and the museum said Monday."

"The Orville - Interactive Fan Experience" (Grokked from John)

"Large crowds of people gathered despite social distancing guidelines to greet the USNS Comfort Navy ship as it arrived in New York City on Monday morning to help hospitals that are overwhelmed with coronavirus patients."

"On Monday, General Electric factory workers launched two separate protests demanding that the company convert its jet engine factories to make ventilators. At GE's Lynn, Massachusetts aviation facility, workers held a silent protest, standing six feet apart. Union members at the company’s Boston headquarters also marched six feet apart, calling on the company to use its factories to help the country close its ventilator shortage amid the coronavirus pandemic." Solidarity forever, sisters and brothers. (Grokked from Kelly Link)

"'We're looking at the Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System that we've developed to be able to decontaminate PPE for health care workers on the front-line,' says Will Richter, a researcher at the Columbus, Ohio-based company." Whispers, most PPE weren't made to be reused. They aren't structurally sound enough. Part of the removal protocol damages the PPE, but keeps the worker safe.

"The USNS Comfort, one of the Navy's hospital ships that has often been called on to deliver humanitarian aid, has arrived in New York City to help ease the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ship entered New York Harbor on Monday morning, passing the Statue of Liberty on its way to Pier 88 in Manhattan."

"The Food and Drug Administration on Sunday issued an emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, decades-old malaria drugs championed by President Donald Trump for coronavirus treatment despite scant evidence." I'm sure this is totally safe and won't cause any problems at all.

"As of Monday morning, (models) estimates that more than 2,000 people could die each day in the United States in mid-April, when the virus is predicted to hit the country hardest. The model, which is updated regularly, predicts that 224,000 hospital beds -- 61,000 more than we'll have -- will be needed on April 15, when the US is estimated to reach 'peak resource use.'" Which means that about 82,000 will be dead by August. Again, don't count chickens before they're hatched.

"State leaders and doctors are cautiously optimistic that the Bay Area's early moves to lock down residents two weeks ago have prevented surges of coronavirus patients from overwhelming the region's health care capacity thus far… Six Bay Area counties were first in the country to adopt aggressive tactics with an enforceable March 16 order requiring residents to stay at home. Gov. Gavin Newsom quickly followed with a statewide order three days later restricting the state's 40 million residents from all but essential activities."

"By the end of that day, one corrections officer and one person jailed on Rikers had tested positive for Covid-19. Ten days later, the number of those infected in New York’s jails had risen to 104 staff and 132 incarcerated people."

"An Australian astrophysicist has been admitted to hospital after getting four magnets stuck up his nose in an attempt to invent a device that stops people touching their faces during the coronavirus outbreak." You know, we usually only see kids with this kind of issue. Don't stick things up your nose, people. (Grokked from John)

"Citing the coronavirus pandemic's 'heavy toll' on its business, Macy's said it's furloughing the majority of its nearly 130,000 employees. Workers will continue to receive health benefits through May."

"Amazon has terminated an employee based in the company's Staten Island, New York, warehouse after he participated in a worker walkout protesting the company's response to the novel coronavirus." Sure it was because he was supposed to be quarantining himself. Sure.

"Hungary's parliament has voted to allow Prime Minister Viktor Orban to rule by decree indefinitely, in order to combat the coronavirus pandemic, giving the populist leader extra powers to unilaterally enact a series of sweeping measures." Wow, he didn't even have to burn down parliament first. I'm sure he totally won't abuse this authority (until after lunch).

"Saudi Arabia appears to be exploiting weaknesses in the global mobile telecoms network to track its citizens as they travel around the US, according to a whistleblower who has shown the Guardian millions of alleged secret tracking requests… Data revealed by the whistleblower, who is seeking to expose vulnerabilities in a global messaging system called SS7, appears to suggest a systematic spying campaign by the kingdom, according to experts." (Grokked from Dan)

"Now, as it struggles to repair the damage from the coronavirus epidemic, it's getting ready to spend trillions more, pushing up this year's deficit above $3 trillion… 'It's mind-boggling. I never contemplated this,' says Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum, who headed the Congressional Budget Office under President George W. Bush." How's those tax breaks trickling down for everyone? "Today, the total amount owed by the federal government is about to top $25 trillion, and McConnell barely talks about it." In fact, many of the people who screamed about it in 2009-2010 are fairly silent now.

"President Trump revealed he'll be speaking with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday about, among other things, oil prices… In an interview with Fox and Friends on Monday morning, Trump expressed concern that the recent price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia was endangering the oil industry." How'd that talk go, Sparky?

"On Sunday afternoon, President Donald Trump quoted snippets from a New York Times article by Michael Grynbaum headlined: 'Trump's Briefings Are a Ratings Hit. Should Networks Cover Them Live?'… The essence of the piece dealt with the delicate journalistic question of what responsibility TV networks owe to their viewers to broadcast the President discussing the ongoing coronavirus epidemic given that these near-daily briefings have now turned into Trump spouting mistruths and settling scores with journalists." Remember, Trump calls it the "dying NY Times" and says they're "fake news", but if it's good for him he's all about quoting the Gray Lady.

Tuesday post

Was eaten by alligators. Might have something later this afternoon. Sorry.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Linkee-poo Monday

"President Donald Trump said Sunday he would extend nationwide social distancing guidelines for another 30 days, an abrupt back-down from his push to reopen the country as coronavirus continues to spread." I love how the news continues to report in a way that says they believe Trump understands what he's doing. "Over the course of the past week, however, Trump appeared more wary of lifting the guidelines he had announced himself and which had been branded 'President Trump's 15 Days to Slow the Spread.'" We're now branding the coronavirus response.

"Despite health officials’ pleas to stay home and avoid spreading the coronavirus, young people have been packing beaches and hiking trails, picnicking in parks and brunching in restaurants, and flying to far-flung destinations on the cheap. 'At the end of the day, I'm not going to let it stop me from partying,' one Miami spring-breaker infamously told CBS News… But as the pandemic ratchets up, with 417,000 cases and counting worldwide as of Tuesday, it’s increasingly clear that the coronavirus is severely harming substantial numbers of people under 50."

"The White House coronavirus task force unanimously shunned President Donald Trump’s suggestion of a quarantine in the New York City area, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday."

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel advisory on Saturday night calling on residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to avoid 'non-essential domestic travel' for the next two weeks to help slow the spread of coronavirus." A quarantine by any other name.

"New York City residents who break social distancing rules will be subject to fines up to $500, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday… As New York battles the spread of coronavirus, the state has ordered nonessential businesses to shut down, banned gatherings of any size and mandated that people stay six feet away from each other. Not everyone has listened." Under what authority and what law, Mayor de Blasio? They only thing I can think of is "failure to follow the orders of a lawfully appointed officer."

"California Governor Gavin Newsom said the state received '170 broken ventilators' from the federal government's national stockpile in a press conference over the weekend. Many states have been experiencing a shortage of ventilators — a life-saving piece of equipment used to help treat coronavirus patients."

"Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked the nation's poor for forgiveness, as the economic and human toll from his 21-day nationwide lockdown deepens and criticism mounts over a lack of adequate planning ahead of the decision… The government announced a $22.6bn economic stimulus plan… In an opinion piece published on Sunday, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo - two of the three winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2019 - said even more aid for the poor is needed… 'Without that, the demand crisis will snowball into an economic avalanche, and people will have no choice but to defy orders,' they wrote in the Indian Express." Same here, although here we call it "patriotism."

"There are two realistic paths to achieving this 'population-level immunity.' One is the development of a vaccine. The other is for the disease to work its way through the population, surely killing many, but also leaving many others—those who contract the disease and then recover—immune." Each process will take more than a year. And I love how many people don't understand the full ramifications. Bars and restaurants can't just "space people out". Floor space is revenue, and most won't survive on the decreased revenue, and square footage ain't cheap. Which means fewer people can afford to dine out or go out to drink/socialize. And then there's the "Summer will save us" mentality? Really? Um, you know the Southern Hemisphere has Summer right now, right (well, okay, they're heading into Fall weather like we're heading into Spring)? Just look at how the Southern parts of the world, our country, and the tropics have been fairing with this disease.

"European officials warned against loosening lockdowns after the coronavirus outbreak claimed more than 3,000 lives in Spain and Italy over the weekend."

"Spain prepared to enter its third week under near-total lockdown on Sunday, as the government approved a strengthening of measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus and the death toll rose by 838 cases overnight to 6,528."

"Russia moved toward a lockdown across the world’s largest country by area on Monday to try and halt the spread of coronavirus, following Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin’s order for residents to stay in their homes." Stay safe, my Russian friends.

Because they'll come for you eventually. "The Covid-19 pandemic is now giving Russian authorities an opportunity to test new powers and technology, and the country's privacy and free-speech advocates worry the government is building sweeping new surveillance capabilities."

"The president was aware of the danger from the coronavirus – but a lack of leadership has created an emergency of epic proportions."

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "Democrats are apoplectic. The coronavirus has delivered the economic downturn they hoped would derail President Trump, but the collapse in jobs and stock market swoon are failing to produce the desired result. Far from being demolished politically by the crisis, President Trump has risen to the occasion and looks stronger, not weaker, as the weeks go by… Instead, COVID-19 is destroying honest journalism. The liberal media’s coverage of the president’s response to the crisis has become even nastier than normal, and, also, misleading. Some now refuse to even cover Trump’s daily briefings on the virus. They are unhinged." This is the kind of fawning "Dear Leader" bullshit you read in authoritarian countries.

"But we’re now entering the most dangerous phase of the Trump presidency. The pain and hardship that the United States is only beginning to experience stem from a crisis that the president is utterly unsuited to deal with, either intellectually or temperamentally. When things were going relatively well, the nation could more easily absorb the costs of Trump’s psychological and moral distortions and disfigurements. But those days are behind us. The coronavirus pandemic has created the conditions that can catalyze a destructive set of responses from an individual with Trump’s characterological defects and disordered personality."

Who's politicizing the outbreak? "A meme published on Facebook by Turning Point USA, a conservative group that targets high school and college students, claims Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak bucked doctors’ recommendations and outlawed the use of chloroquine to treat the coronavirus."

"The coronavirus pandemic is shutting down industrial activity and temporarily slashing air pollution levels around the world, satellite imagery from the European Space Agency shows… One expert said the sudden shift represented the 'largest scale experiment ever' in terms of the reduction of industrial emissions."

"The Justice Department has started to probe a series of stock transactions made by lawmakers ahead of the sharp market downturn stemming from the spread of coronavirus, according to two people familiar with the matter." Again, IIRC, Congress is exempt from insider trading rules. As I remember it, form the last time this was a scandal there got very close to passing a law barring congress members from trading on their insider knowledge. They only applied it to staff by the end.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Linkee-poo Sunday

Apparently Trump has ordered that his signature appear on the individual checks approved in the Coronavirus Stimulus Bill, instead of the disbursement officer's signature. Free campaign mailer.

"The rate of new cases may be slowing in New York, but the governor says it may take 21 days for the state to hit its peak and begins going down… Meanwhile, officials in other states are warning they could be next. In Los Angeles County, cases more than tripled in six days, and one official says numbers will keep going up. Health Director Barbara Ferrer says she expects to see case counts in Los Angeles double every four days for the next two to three weeks."

"But some Wuhan residents who had tested positive earlier and then recovered from the disease are testing positive for the virus a second time. Based on data from several quarantine facilities in the city, which house patients for further observation after their discharge from hospitals, about 5%-10% of patients pronounced 'recovered' have tested positive again." Rhut rho. It could be the tests the Chinese are using (which aren't 100% accurate) and variations in how the test is administered.

"The sum of known coronavirus U.S. cases soared well past 100,000, with more than 1,600 dead, as weary doctors and nurses protested at shortages of scarce medical supplies that some have to keep under lock and key or even buy on the black market."

How's our "medicine for profit" business model working out? "A California teenager who died last week, possibly from coronavirus, was turned away from an urgent care because he lacked health insurance."

The president doesn't believe he's everybody's president. "President Donald Trump said Friday he has asked Vice President Mike Pence not to call governors he says have not been 'appreciative' enough of his efforts on coronavirus – a group of critics that included a governor he referred to only by gender, 'Don't call the woman in Michigan,' Trump said at a press conference while discussing Pence's work as head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force." I seem to remember saying the hardest thing Trump would have to find out is that being president people wouldn't treat him the same as when everyone around him wanted a piece of his money. He would find it hard when people would tell him to fuck off.

"The Daily Beast reports, however, that Trump’s tweets caused 'mass confusion' within his own administration, as officials scrambled to determine whether he was actually invoking the Defense Production Act to ramp up supplies of desperately needed medical equipment, or if he was just spouting off." The president has no idea how the government works, even after 3 years.

"A five-minute, point-of-care coronavirus test could be coming to hospitals next week, and experts say it could be 'game-changing.'… The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued Emergency Use Authorization to Illinois-based medical device maker Abbott Labs on Friday for a coronavirus test that delivers positive results in as little as five minutes and negative results in 13 minutes, the company said." But at what price, and how quickly can they actually deliver?

"At 4:00 pm (Friday)… the Bureau of Indian Affairs informed me that the Secretary of the Interior has ordered that our reservation (Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe) be disestablished and that our land be taken out of trust. Not since the termination era of the mid-twentieth century has a Secretary taken action to disestablish a reservation." The Mashpee tribe is one of the smaller and one of the last nations to be recognized by the Federal Government (2007). And while their reservation is only a little over 300 acres, they have petitioned to build a casino and are continuing to fight for all of their rights. There is no reason to do this, except to sell their land. Cruelty is the program. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"The mortgage finance system could collapse if the Fed doesn’t step in with emergency loans to offset a coming wave of missed payments from borrowers crippled by the coronavirus pandemic." Again note that the problem isn't really in the mortgages, but in the securitization of mortgages.

"Implicitly, the act says that when the chips are down, we as a nation turn to our national parent — the federal government. That has to be anathema to a libertarian such as Massie, who claims that label even as a Republican member of Congress (as does his fellow Kentuckian, Sen. Rand Paul, who didn't vote on the bill in the Senate because he has tested positive for the coronavirus)." And yes the CARES act is exactly the opposite of libertarianism that this can be seen as a test, the counter to the past 30 years of neoliberal philosophy. But don't worry for the libertarians, they're quite immune from facts and evidence.

"Inaccuracies about the stock market. Baffling statements about a closed GM plant. Stating you can call coronavirus the flu… President Donald Trump on Friday continued the false and misleading claims that have become a part of White House briefings on coronavirus, wrapping up a week in which the number of confirmed cases across the country topped 100,000… We are still combing through the transcript, but here is the developing roundup…" Our stable-genius president, everybody (does showcase showdown hands).

"Anecdotally, there are wide differences, and they do not appear to follow discernible political or geographic lines. Democratic-leaning Massachusetts… has received 17 percent of the protective gear it requested, according to state leaders. Maine requested a half-million N95 specialized protective masks and received 25,558 — about 5 percent of what it sought. The shipment delivered to Colorado — 49,000 N95 masks, 115,000 surgical masks and other supplies — would be 'enough for only one full day of statewide operations,'… Florida has been an exception in its dealings with the stockpile: The state submitted a request on March 11 for 430,000 surgical masks, 180,000 N95 respirators, 82,000 face shields and 238,000 gloves, among other supplies — and received a shipment with everything three days later, according to figures from the state’s Division of Emergency Management. It received an identical shipment on March 23, according to the division, and is awaiting a third." On the National Stockpile and how it's been mismanaged, transferred, understocked, and basically the heinous fuckery of the Trump Administration. (Grokked from Cherie Priest among others)

Friday, March 27, 2020

Linkee-poo Friday

Curly Neal, and so it goes.

We're number 1! "The United States now has the highest number of known cases of coronavirus in the world with more than 82,000, according to CNN's tally of cases reported by health officials."

"New coronavirus hot spots are emerging in the Chicago, Detroit and New Orleans areas -- and health officials there are pleading for medical resources to meet the surges." Also a bit on how we're reusing PPEs.

"There were over 74,000 cases of coronavirus in the United States as of Thursday midday. About half were in New York -- almost 10 times more than any other state… Why has the outbreak hit New York so much harder than other places?" Easy answers only, please.

"At least one New York hospital has begun putting two patients on a single ventilator machine, an experimental crisis-mode protocol some doctors worry is too risky but others deemed necessary as the coronavirus outbreak strains medical resources."

"As coronavirus infections rise across the United States, public health experts widely agree it's time for a drastic step: Every state in the nation should now issue the kind of stay-at-home orders first adopted by the hardest hit places. And while most states will probably not need to keep the rules in place for months upon months, many health specialists say the lockdowns will need to be kept up for several weeks." Several weeks. Also note how severely behind we are with our ability to test people. Also a little on the pros and cons of the lockdowns and how long it might take.

"Congress is expected to pass a $2 trillion stimulus bill this week to help individuals and businesses deal with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Included in the bill is a provision for many Americans to receive a one-time check from the federal government to help in a time when millions are losing their jobs." Don't count your chickens before they're hatched. And yes, I've already heard people complain about how little they're getting, and why aren't they getting more. Also a warning about scams already in action regarding this money.

So what will it look like on the backend of this? "China is closing its border to most foreigners amid fears of imported novel coronavirus cases causing a second outbreak in the country where the infection was first detected." Like that, until we have a vaccine or the virus burns through the population.

"The country is also limiting Chinese and foreign airlines to one flight per week, and flights must not be more than 75% full."

"Brazil’s governors pressed President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday for more federal support in the coronavirus battle after he blasted them as job-killers and undermined their orders with a decree keeping churches open at evangelical preachers’ request."

"From March 30 through April 24, Clarion West is offering a series of free online classes and writing sprints with an incredible line-up of instructors. Registration begins Friday, March 27 at 12pm PST. Classes are open for everyone 18 and over and offered first come, first served." There's also a teen writer's version. Would love to do this, but won't have the free time in a few weeks. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

"A friend was asking the other day for books in which no bad things happen…" (Grokked from Tania)

"After an issue with ground support equipment, United Launch Alliance got its Atlas V rocket off the ground a little more than an hour after its launch window opened on Thursday." US Space Force goes to space.

"After three inconclusive elections, the right wing Netanyahu and his centrist rival Benny Gantz are reportedly close to a deal to rotate as prime minister, with Netanyahu taking the first turn." I'm sure that will work out fine.

"New York officials say one man was killed and more than a dozen people were injured when a fire broke out on a subway train early Friday… A New York police department spokesman who described the situation at the Harlem station as “fluid” confirmed that a man in his 30s was pronounced dead and eight other adults were hospitalized."

"Virulent anti-Semite, bigot, and conspiracy theorist Rick Wiles used his 'TruNews' program last night to warn Israel that it was seeing outbreaks of the COVID-19 coronavirus in connection with synagogues because God was sending a plague on the Jews for opposing Jesus Christ." Checks watch, well that come a little earlier than I thought it would. You'd think he'd mention marking your door with lamb's blood, but apparently, like many evangelicals, he doesn't really know his Bible. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team are determined to clear a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package on Friday, making contingency plans in case a lawmaker on either side tries to delay the vote… But the move has infuriated many rank-and-file lawmakers, who spent Thursday afternoon and evening scrambling to try to find flights to Washington so they could be present for a potential roll call vote."

"President Donald Trump on Friday called for ousting from the Republican Party a GOP congressman who has signaled that he could hold up an impending House vote on the Senate's $2 trillion coronavirus emergency relief package." Remember when it was everybody going to be upset with AOC? Ah, the good old days. It kinda sucks when people forget that the playbook is only for when they're trying to stall the opposition and decide to be dicks without leadership approval.

"America’s state governors have found themselves under an intense national spotlight in response to the coronavirus pandemic… The additional scrutiny has also highlighted an evolving dynamic between these chief executives who operate the country’s states and a White House run by a mercurial president whose public statements and policy turns are often impossible to predict." So you're saying the president is the problem? Who woulda thunk it?

"The National Enquirer and its former publisher American Media Inc. (AMI) buried around 60 damaging stories about Donald Trump in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, Ronan Farrow has claimed… In April, AMI sold the National Enquirer in the wake of scandals involving Trump and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos." He just saw a list of the stories, many of which have since been destroyed, although any NDAs would still be in force. (Grokked from Xopher Halftongue)

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Linkee-poo Thursday

SO has everyone hit the point of, "What day is it?"

"The United States Senate, after days of discussions with the White House, on Wednesday passed an unprecedented emergency bill that would send some $2 trillion in aid to businesses, workers, state and local governments and a healthcare system overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic."

"Senators unveiled the full text of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, on Wednesday evening after days of blockages and negotiation between leaders in Congress and the White House. The approximately $2 trillion proposal arrives as the coronavirus spreads throughout the US and measures to restrict contagion rapidly slow economic activity."

"On Wednesday, Ocasio-Cortez told CNN she is not ruling out asking for a recorded vote, which would force lawmakers to return to Washington and vote in-person, something that most members of Congress are eager to avoid amid the coronavirus pandemic."

"At least 13 patients have died from Covid-19 at Elmhurst Hospital in New York, a statement from a spokesman said, as one of the hardest hit states sees a surge in cases… The deaths of the patients took place over the last 24 hours, but NYC Health and Hospitals/Elmhurst said in a statement that number is consistent with the number of Intensive Care Unit patients being treated there."

"Amid growing fears that the United States could face a shortage of ventilators for coronavirus patients, state officials and hospitals are quietly preparing to make excruciating decisions about how they would ration lifesaving care." There's only one thing worse as a healthcare provider than having a patient die during your care, and that's having to make the decision that lead directly to their death. However, there are moments worse than that, like realizing you prioritized the wrong patient because of an unknown.

"Quartz spoke with eight ethicists, all of whom agreed that in such dire situations, those who have the best chance of surviving get priority. Despite the unanimity, all agreed that this decision is far from easy and should not be taken lightly." A little on the ethics surrounding these decisions.

"The United States has reached a grim milestone as the number of deaths linked to coronavirus passed 1,000 in the country on Thursday, according to a count by NBC News." With some in-depth look at the number in NY.

"'I believe that (Germany is) just testing much more than in other countries, and we are detecting our outbreak early,' said Christian Drosten, director of the institute of virology at Berlin's Charité hospital."

"Gov. Tate Reeves signed an executive order early this evening superseding a patchwork of local bans on public gatherings in Mississippi and other heightened restrictions that several municipalities across the state have ordered or considered in the wake of COVID-19’s spread inside Mississippi. The state reached 320 official cases today, up 300 percent since 80 known cases on Friday." Of course he's a Republican. Did you really need to ask? Actually the governor issued his own "stay at home" order, which superseded any local order, but added a shit-ton load of more industries to the "essential" category and said restaurants should keep open but limit dine-in numbers. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"The strategies are among hundreds of tactics and key policy decisions laid out in a 69-page National Security Council playbook on fighting pandemics, which POLITICO is detailing for the first time… The Trump administration was briefed on the playbook’s existence in 2017, said four former officials, but two cautioned that it never went through a full, National Security Council-led interagency process to be approved as Trump administration strategy." A playbook the White House failed to follow.

"Unbeknownst to the entire space physics community, 34 years ago Voyager 2 flew through a plasmoid, a giant magnetic bubble that may have been whisking Uranus’s atmosphere out to space. The finding, reported in Geophysical Research Letters, raises new questions about the planet’s one-of-a-kind magnetic environment."

"Australia's Great Barrier Reef has suffered another mass bleaching event - the third in just five years… Warmer sea temperatures - particularly in February - are feared to have caused huge coral loss across the world's largest reef system." We're boned.

"New Unemployment Insurance claims are pouring into state labor departments at a pace that’s so unprecedented it’s quite literally off the charts… The surge is so large that there's basically no way to forecast what’s next for the economy since we’ve never seen layoffs occur at this pace in the past. It’s a scary situation that underscores the extent to which this recession is not the same as the 2008 Great Recession — it might be worse."

"A record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week as the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the country. The Labor Department's report Thursday was one of the first official indicators of how many people have suddenly been forced out of work nationally." While most reports of "record shattering" are merely hype, this one is truly record shattering. The previous record was 695,000 in 1982. "The staggering jobless claims figure was well above the levels seen during the darkest days of the Great Recession, and the worst isn't over yet, economic forecasters say."

"Mark Zandi… is the chief economist at Moody’s, an analyst highly regarded by both political parties, and generally not prone to hyperbole. Yet when I spoke with him on the phone yesterday, he immediately reached for the metaphor of a devastating natural disaster to describe the toll that the pandemic will take on American commerce—the businesses it will destroy, the jobs it will wipe out, the retirement nest eggs it will crack and shatter… Yet what is scariest about the new economic projections is that they are probably too rosy." And that article is almost a week old now.

So just what is the Dow doing with the news of 3+ million people out of work (and those are just the ones who were able to file unemployment claims), the worst 1 week increase in unemployment since we've started keeping track and the news of a potential deal on the corporate bailout with some scraps of money to help those unemployed? Yeah, just what you would think. As of this writing it's up over 1000 points.

"The remains of a Kentucky teen who went missing in 2010 have been found in Ohio, police said."

"According to the FBI, Wilson had 'taken the necessary steps' to acquire materials needed to build the bomb. He was being monitored at all times by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force 'in order to protect public safety.'" The FBI kills a man while attempting to arrest him in Kansas City. He's a quiet boy who hung out with his grandmother, according to neighbors. It's always the quiet ones. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"Former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who disappeared in Iran 13 years ago, has died in custody there, according to statement from his family… Levinson, the longest-held hostage in US history, disappeared in 2007 on the Iranian island of Kish."

"The U.S. ambassador to London has said China had endangered the world by suppressing information about the coronavirus outbreak thus allowing it to spread far beyond the Communist republic’s borders."

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Linkee-poo, and through an open window came, like Sinatra in a younger day, pushing the town away

John Oliver's Last Week Tonight on the Coronavirus. It's from March 16th, but still relevant. Also pointed out to how comedy works well. The show does not have an audience, and they didn't add a laugh track. John Oliver is a well tuned comedian. Playing to a camera without an audience is a tough gig (I don't know if there anyone else than a single camera operator in the room). The timing, the landing, the energy he's giving to the performance is very instructive for those who study comedy. Also useful for writers and other storytellers.

"In general, the U.S. experience largely mimics China’s, with the risk for serious disease and death from Covid-19 rising with age. But in an important qualification, an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Wednesday underlines a message that infectious disease experts have been emphasizing: Millennials are not invincible. The new data show that up to one-fifth of infected people ages 20-44 have been hospitalized, including 2%-4% who required treatment in an intensive care unit." It's likely most of us will contract SARS-CoV2, there is nothing to stop it from happening. Social distancing is meant to break the chain of transmission, but the result we expect is mostly to slow the rate of infection to a "manageable" level. To give you a metric, our worst fear is we will have more infections needing the most intense treatment at a rate that would outstrip our ability to provide (ICU beds and ventilators or breathing assistance). We have not reached capacity yet (although NY is getting close). That should let you know where we are in the life of this disease (if you need more of a hint, we're not at the midway point yet).

But like I said, NY is getting close. "New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that the number of COVID-19 cases in the state has not slowed despite a statewide stay-at-home order. According to the governor, the rate of cases is now doubling about every three days… 'We haven't flattened the curve, and the curve is actually increasing,' Cuomo said." And while we talk about the need for beds and equipment, we haven't started the conversation about needing the nurses and doctors to run them (although my hospital is now doing "skills assessments" to know who can do what and they've already called up the Physical Therapy people to help with Respiratory Care because they have some training there). And in case you're wondering about the rush, "'We're looking at an apex of 14 days, if we don't have the ventilators in 14 days it does us no good,' (Cuomo) said." So in 14 days NY expects to hit their peak. If the president, right now, ordered production do you think they'd have enough produced (from companies who haven't produced ventilators before, so they haven't even done bench testing to see if they have it right) in time?

"Trump told Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer he selected Easter as the day he wants businesses to reopen, saying he’d like to see 'packed churches all over our country' — the exact type of large gatherings that the CDC, the WHO, and Trump’s top health advisers have all urged suspended to help stop the spread of the virus." That would make a great visual for his re-election campaign, don't ya think so? "The town hall gave the impression of a dangerously misinformed president being propped up by sycophants who are unwilling or unable to ask him tough questions." But it was a great campaign rally.

"Half of the more than 2,000 Californians who’ve tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, are between the ages of 18 and 49, Newsom said in his daily evening Facebook Live briefing… About a fourth of the state’s confirmed coronavirus patients are between the age of 50 to 64, and another quarter were 65 or older." Well, they're in California so they look much younger anyway. After all, 65 is the new 40. I'm being stupidly glib, but the news is it's not just the olds that get this.

"Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday he plans to expand his already far-reaching executive order mandating a 14-day self-quarantine or isolation period for travelers coming to Florida from airports in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut amid the novel coronavirus pandemic… DeSantis, speaking at a press conference, said he will sign an additional order to make his original mandate apply retroactively to anyone who has traveled to Florida from those states in the last three weeks." Retroactively placing people in quarantine… I'm not sure that's a thing.

FEMA response workers have an unofficial metric for how bad a disaster is. It's called the Waffle House Index. Basically because they need a place to set up, they pick the Waffle House establishment because they are almost always open. If the Waffle House is open, the disaster is manageable. If the Waffle House is closed, well, the disaster is beyond control. "Waffle House has now closed 365 locations across the U.S. due to the coronavirus pandemic."

What a "peak" looks like. "Coronavirus deaths in the Lombardy region have surpassed those in China’s Hubei province, the original epicentre of the outbreak. Funeral homes and crematoria are being overwhelmed." With helpful photos, video, and information graphics to bring the total devastation into focus.

"The Spanish military has found older residents of some care homes 'completely abandoned' and even 'dead in their beds,' Defense Minister Margarita Robles said in a television interview on Monday… Last week, one privately owned home in Madrid reported 20 deaths and 75 infections, claiming it didn't have adequate material to take care of the sick residents and dead bodies." Mother of God. (Grokked from Bo Bolander)

"Hydroxychloroquine, a medicine for malaria that President Donald Trump has touted as a treatment for coronavirus, was no more effective than conventional care, a small study found… The report published by the Journal of Zhejiang University in China showed that patients who got the medicine didn’t fight off the new coronavirus more often than those who did not get the medicine."

In Ohio we have a light lock-down order. "'Why are we essential?' asks one employee. 'We make one type of envelope for the postal service--I'm afraid of losing my job if I don't show up.'" Yes, Virginia, poor people often have to choose between health and a paycheck. And many not so poor people also have to do the same.

"Despite a 12-page stay-at-home order from the Ohio Department of Health for everyone but essential businesses, just about every business is finding a way around it. In just the last day, I have received emails from people saying their employers are remaining open even though they are not "essential"; I'm talking companies that make toys (like Little Tykes in Hudson) to car washes."

"A Wegmans customer faces charges of terroristic threats and harassment after coughing on a worker at the grocery store chain’s Manalapan location and claiming he had the coronavirus, (NJ) Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday."

Never let a good crisis go to waste. "Anti-abortion forces led by Republican governors in Ohio, Texas and Mississippi are citing the critical shortage of medical supplies in trying to close abortion clinics, in some instances threatening jail time if they don't shut down and donate protective gear and other necessities to local hospitals. Meanwhile, in blue states like New York, Washington and New Jersey, governors are deeming abortion and family planning clinics an essential service that can continue during the pandemic."

"Target is putting some of its ambitious growth plans on hold as it focuses on the day-to-day realities of dealing with coronavirus outbreak… The big-box retailer said Wednesday it will delay plans to remodel hundreds of stores, open new ones and offer fresh groceries and beer to curbside pickup. Target is also withdrawing its financial guidance for the first quarter and fiscal year because of the unpredictable business climate."

"President Donald Trump and his top economic aide Larry Kudlow suggested Tuesday that a massive coronavirus stimulus bill could provide the foundation for an economic revival in the United States." Sure, sure, economies always bounce back, don't they?

"After days of rancorous negotiations, Republican and Democratic senators have reached a deal on a roughly $2 trillion stimulus package to ease the damaging economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak." And it appears that there will be overbite of the money after all.

"According to a summary circulated by the office of Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, businesses owned by the president, vice president, members of Congress or heads of executive departments would be excluded from receiving that aid. The block also would also extend to companies controlled by their children, spouses or in-laws." Wow, something done correctly. Who knew they could do it. :: waits for the president to veto the bill because of those exclusions :: Shoulda divested, Donnie. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"President Donald Trump says he wants the nation 'opened up and just raring to go by Easter' -- a date just more than two weeks away that few health experts believe will be sufficient in containing the spread of coronavirus." We still haven't hit peak infections. It'll be two weeks after that point.

"The coronavirus crisis has sent the economy into a tailspin in the United States and around the globe. The restaurant industry has ground to a halt. So have air travel, auto manufacturing, hotels, gyms, and cruise lines. The stock market has posted enormous losses and wild daily swings, to the point that trading has sometimes been paused altogether, and the price of oil has plummeted. Layoffs across the country are taking place in waves. We’re producing less, spending less, and consuming less… After more than a decade of expansion, the next recession is here." What I think is the coronavirus downturn has exposed several fault lines within the economy and the stresses presented opened them wider. "'Right now, we’re just trying to manage the fall,' said Marc Goldwein, senior policy director at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan group that advocates for fiscal responsibility." When the fall is all that's left, it matters a great deal. And keep in mind "Anyone who tells you they know what’s going to happen with the US economy, or when it’s going to bounce back, is guessing.

"The United States and China are locked in a struggle over influence and messaging about the coronavirus pandemic even as governments around the world struggle to control the outbreak… This week, Washington claimed a small victory." So much winning.

"In 'The Uses of Enchantment,' the psychoanalyst Bruno Bettelheim makes a beautiful argument for the kinds of reckoning that fairy tales permit: They allow children to face primal fears (parental abandonment) and imagine acts of rebellion (defying authority) in a world reassuringly removed from the one they live in. Enchanted woods and castles are so conspicuously fantastical, their situations so extreme, that children don’t need to feel destabilized by their upheavals. I wondered if that was still true for Lily, whose loss lived more naturally in fairy tales than other places. It can be a fine line between stories that give our fears a necessary stage and stories that deepen them — that make us more afraid." On being the step-mother in real life and how fairy tales help shape our understanding of the world. (Grokked from Terri Windling)

"Prior to March 18th, the biggest gating items were believed to be a few final parachute tests and a whole lot of paperwork and reviews, as well as some important but less showstopping astronaut training. Unfortunately, SpaceX has suffered two unforeseen issues of varying severity in the last few days, both of which are now all but guaranteed to impact Crew Dragon’s astronaut launch debut schedule."

"After days of promoting xenophobia and using a racist name for the coronavirus, President Donald Trump is finally acknowledging the discrimination that Asian Americans are experiencing, while failing to confront his role in contributing to it." Apparently there are still good people on both sides.

"Gunmen and suicide bombers raided a Sikh religious complex in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Wednesday, killing 25 people before security forces killed all of the attackers, the government said."

Tweet of my heart: @plibin I was just on a Zoom call that ended automagically after 40 minutes because the organizer was on a free tier. This is the single greatest advance to meeting productivity that I’ve ever seen. Would pay extra for this feature. (Grokked from Robert J Bennett)

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Linkee-poo Tuesday

"If the President is expressing himself in ways that 'could lead to some misunderstanding about what the facts are about a given subject' (in Fauci's words) then the possibility of misinformation being pushed to the public is high. And that misinformation could cost lives."

"New York and New Jersey are seeing coronavirus attack rates at least five times higher than other parts of the country, a U.S. official in charge of the White House’s pandemic response efforts said Monday." It's called "population density."

"President Donald Trump appears to have made his choice in the awful dilemma posed by the coronavirus pandemic -- whether to destroy the nation's economic foundation in order to save lives… In his zeal to fire up American prosperity after helping to trigger an unprecedented self-inflicted economic meltdown, Trump is already losing patience -- weeks before the virus may peak." Trump is the one guy in the zombie flics who claims it's not as bad as everyone things and is promptly eaten by a zombie. Only this president wants you to try it first.

"Dan Patrick, Texas’ Republican lieutenant governor, on Monday night suggested that he and other grandparents would be willing to risk their health and even lives in order for the United States to 'get back to work' amid the coronavirus pandemic… 'Those of us who are 70 plus, we’ll take care of ourselves. But don’t sacrifice the country,' Patrick said on Fox News’ 'Tucker Carlson Tonight.'" Sure we'd like to keep grandpa alive, kids, but, you know, we'd also like to get the stock market back above 28,000 ASAP.

How long would lockdowns need to be? "Two months after Chinese authorities locked down the city at the center of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, the end is in sight… Hubei province said Tuesday that travel restrictions on the capital city of Wuhan will be removed starting April 8, which would end a lockdown that began on Jan. 23."

"The UK is banning people from leaving their homes apart from for a few 'very limited' reasons, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday, as he imposed the most stringent restrictions seen in Britain since the end of World War II."

"Roads were much quieter than usual on Tuesday after Britain went into virtual lockdown to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but London Underground trains were crammed with people and streets were far from deserted."

"This has all sparked a serious question among many people: Are we overreacting? It’s not just a question being asked by partiers and bar-goers — it has also been asked in the New York Times. A widely circulated article by Stanford’s John Ioannidis suggests that the stepped-up US response is a 'fiasco in the making' that’s being made without enough data… In other words, there’s a simple answer to the question: No, we’re not overreacting."

On the other side… "It was a jarring image from the coronavirus crisis: thousands of people frolicking on Clearwater Beach and seemingly thumbing their collective noses at the deadly pandemic sweeping across Florida and the rest of the country… And the man who had the power to close the state's beaches and send everybody packing was refusing to do so." Most of the beaches are now closed. Most.

"'For those who want to criticize me for lack of quarantine, realize that if the rules on testing had been followed to a tee, I would never have been tested and would still be walking around the halls of the Capitol,' (Sen Rand) Paul added. Current federal guidelines would not have called for him to get tested or quarantined, Paul said." Senator Paul kept working and interacting with people in the Senate for six days after taking the SARS-CoV2 test. On the outside it takes 72 hours for results, so that means he knew his positive status and continued to be in close contact with people in the Senate for at least 3 days before he went into quarantine. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"An Arizona man has died after ingesting chloroquine phosphate — believing it would protect him from becoming infected with the coronavirus. The man's wife also ingested the substance and is under critical care… The toxic ingredient they consumed was not the medication form of chloroquine, used to treat malaria in humans. Instead, it was an ingredient listed on a parasite treatment for fish." Why STEM education is so damn important and why the president should STFU and listen to the experts.

"So, consider this permission to create a bullet journal that doesn’t contain a single piece of art. No washi tape. No illustrated monthly splash pages. Not a single beautifully lettered title. You do not need any of this. The purpose of a bullet journal is to make your life easier. That’s it." And then Jenn Lyons reminds you that, yes, indeed she is an artist and then fills the page with photos of her bullet journal. Sighs. The title of the article is "plotting your fantasy novel with a bullet journal" and there is a little of that in there, but it's not like a how to. The best advice here is, "Any part of bullet journaling that doesn’t (help you) can be safely and guiltlessly discarded. You have my permission. Do it, guilt-free… Likewise, if you feel like you’d be better served by changing something, change it. There is no wrong way to do this. And supplies? Whatever."

"Our galaxy is a whole lot bigger than it looks. New work finds that the Milky Way stretches nearly 2 million light-years across, more than 15 times wider than its luminous spiral disk. The number could lead to a better estimate of how massive the galaxy is and how many other galaxies orbit it."

"Traditions that spacefarers have observed for decades have fallen foul of efforts to rein in the coronavirus pandemic as astronauts and cosmonauts face more stringent quarantine measures before they blast into orbit."

"Global equities rebounded almost 2% on Tuesday, off near four-year lows, and the dollar slipped as investors pinned hopes on unprecedented stimulus steps by the U.S Federal Reserve and other policymakers to ease strains in financial markets." Wall Street loves it when the Fed prints them more money… because most of the financial titans only understand hard figures, not the concept of central banking.

"A gauge of the dollar snapped a 10-day gain as the Fed’s unlimited quantitative easing prompted traders to embrace risk assets again. Group-of-10 currencies were the biggest winners, with Australia’s dollar extending a rebound from a multi-year trough. The pound pulled back from near its lowest in 35 years -- even after the U.K. entered a full lockdown to contain the coronavirus."

"U.S. index futures and European stocks rallied alongside Asian shares on Tuesday as investors rediscovered some appetite for risk after global equities hit their lowest level since 2016. The dollar slumped following a 10-day winning streak, and Treasuries slipped."

"The locust crisis that has now reached 10 countries could carry on to endanger millions more people, forecasters have said… Climate change created unprecedented conditions for the locusts to breed in the usually barren desert of the Arabian gulf, according to experts, and the insects were then able to spread through Yemen, where civil war has devastated the ability to control locust populations."

"US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday announced a $1bn cut in American aid to Afghanistan after he failed to convince Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his political foe to end a feud that has helped jeopardise a US-led peace effort."

"Ruling unanimously in favor of states' rights on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court said that a videographer who spent two decades documenting the salvaging of Blackbeard's ship cannot sue the state of North Carolina in federal court for using his videos without his permission." City hall wins.

"Schumer said Monday the two parties had already come to certain agreements about revisions to the Republicans’ bill, including adding more unemployment protections and adding more money to hospitals."

"There was an hour devoted to floor debate before the next vote, and it was used for that rarest of purposes: debate. Typically a Senate 'debate' involves lone floor speeches, with senators pretending for the cameras that they’re owning the other side into speechlessness when, in reality, few if any members of the other side are even in the chamber. It made for a weird scene, then, when senators actually got into arguments. After a mad Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown said that McConnell had taken days to call up the previous coronavirus response bill a week earlier, a mad Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton took objection to his timeline, noting that the House hadn’t transmitted the final version until the day before the Senate voted on it."

"In the midst of Senate negotiations on a massive stimulus package in response to the coronavirus pandemic, House Democrats have drafted their own counterproposal titled the Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act." I know it's because most people won't read beyond the title of legislation, but can we stop stupid marketing moves like that.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Turn and face the strange

I wrote a little while ago about potential changes and hoping to take a vacation from the blog after the election this Fall. Well, the time schedule has changed a little. In fact it'll only be a few weeks.

For those long-time readers you may remember my posts about the reboot, retraining to be a radiological technologist. It went better than expected, and I entered another career which fortunately I happen to like a lot. For the past five and-a-half years I've been working PRN, which means "as needed." As needed has turned out to be 2 to 3 weekday evenings and most weekends. In the past almost six years I've added CT (formerly known as CAT) scan to my general x-ray registry and worked hard to develop as good a reputation as I have in graphic design.

My reputation has garnered me several offers of part-time and full-time positions. I've left the management of the hospital radiology department disappointed many times. But this time I couldn't say no.

Okay, here we go. I certainly hope there's enough material to build wings out of on the way down. As many of you may know, I've been down this economic rabbit hole 4 times before in my life. All 4 times it ended up with me losing my job and being unemployed for 8, 1, and 6 months. All because I chose to ride it out. So, I have the opportunity to change that. So I am.

If I choose correctly I will have saved us (spouse and I) from economic devastation and our life will be different. If I choose poorly I will dive right into that economic devastation. But I've chosen. I'm going to do what I normally do on a small scale, but the opposite of what I do on the macro scale. I'm running into the flames and will be starting full time at the hospital just as we predict the height of the COVID-19 pandemic hits Ohio. Hopefully I can work PT at what is the current day thing.

If this works out the way I hope, this is going to be hard. I'm going to push myself to the edge. But hopefully this time I won't lose a job and income. I'll keep health insurance. And I'll have a guaranteed minimum income. There are hundreds of smaller trade offs.

I will not be as income secure (if nothing would change with the day job) as I have been. But I don't see the economy "roaring back", and business will be very different. But the hospital is (mostly) steady work. The hours aren't great, but fit well with PTing the day thing.

But with all that, I doubt there will be much time to continue to blog regularly. I've been somewhat proud that I've been able to get out a linke-poo fairly regularly these past five plus years. But I doubt we're going to be able to keep it up. In fact I doubt there will be time for much of anything extra.

The timing can't be helped. And believe me it bothers me that I won't be able to help much in the coming months.

Linkee-poo Monday

"Running to the pharmacy or the grocery store under Ohio’s stay-at-home order is possible, but should only be done if absolutely necessary to prevent the spread of the coronavirus… Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton announced an order to close 'non-essential' businesses, including many types that were previously ordered closed, from 11:59 p.m. Monday until 11:59 p.m. on April 6. Many of those non-essential businesses are specialty stores." Well thank the gods that gun stores are still open and considered "essential."

But of course… "The Ohio Attorney General's office ordered abortion clinics in the state to stop performing 'nonessential' abortions and surgeries amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to letters the AG's office sent."

"The hunt for masks, ventilators and other medical supplies consumed the U.S. and Europe, as more than 1.5 billion people — one-fifth of the world’s population — were asked or ordered to stay home on Monday to try to blunt the spread of the coronavirus."

Meanwhile, in Iceland… "'Early results from deCode Genetics indicate that a low proportion of the general population has contracted the virus and that about half of those who tested positive are non-symptomatic,' said Guðnason. 'The other half displays very moderate cold-like symptoms.'" With some information on Italy and South Korea (and the difference with the UK). When your country has a developed healthcare system, a willing medical research company, and a progressive political environment I guess you can find out a lot of things. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"China had 39 new confirmed cases on Sunday, the National Health Commission said, down from 46 a day earlier. All of them involved travellers arriving from abroad, many of whom are Chinese students returning home."

"Crowds descended on California beaches, hiking trails and parks over the weekend in open defiance of a state order to shelter in place and avoid close contact with others." Okay, I've seen crowded beaches, with that photo that's not really crowded. But stay the fuck home.

So, what can happen once the "self-isolation" ends? "Now, however, Hong Kong is providing a very different object lesson -- what happens when you let your guard down too soon. The number of confirmed cases has almost doubled in the past week, with many imported from overseas, as Hong Kong residents who had left -- either to work or study abroad, or to seek safety when the city seemed destined for a major outbreak earlier this year -- return, bringing the virus back with them."

"As Senate Republicans try to push through a $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief bill this week, they are doing so without a handful of votes in the closely divided chamber… That's after Kentucky's Sen. Paul, 57, revealed on Sunday that he had tested positive for the virus and Sens. Mitt Romney and Mike Lee, both of Utah, said they had recent contact with Paul, but showed no symptoms. All three are now in self-quarantine." Note, according to the policy at the hospital I work at, Sen. Paul would not qualify for testing. Also, couldn't have happened to a better person. I wonder if he'll rethink his politics in light of this (probably not as he's asymptomatic and so won't need much hospital care, most likely, and he's an asshole).

"Senators are continuing to negotiate on a massive economic stimulus package, hoping a deal will soon come together after efforts to reach consensus were dealt a major blow over the weekend, even as coronavirus struck one of their own." The procedural vote tied at 47.

"Amid dire predictions for jobs and the economy, the White House is beginning to send signals to business that there's light at the end of the tunnel — that the squeeze from nationwide social distancing won't be endless." Can't stop making money, that would be tragic. (Grokked from Elizabeth Bear)

"US President Donald Trump has ordered the deployment of National Guard troops in the three states hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak… Troops will be used in New York, California and Washington to deliver medical aid and set up medical stations after the number of deaths nationwide rose to 471 and infections to 35,244." Waits for the Jade Helm whackaloons to come back out of the woodwork.

Words have impact. "Health officials in Nigeria have issued a warning over chloroquine after they said three people in the country overdosed on the drug, in the wake of President Trump's comments about using it to treat coronavirus… A Lagos state official told CNN that three people were hospitalized in the city after taking the drug. Officials later issued a statement cautioning against using chloroquine for Covid-19 treatment."

"As COVID-19 spreads rapidly through the United States, many American doctors could soon be making the decisions that overwhelmed health care workers in Italy are already facing: Which patients get lifesaving treatment, and which ones do not?" Here we go.

"Look down into the waters of the Venice canals today and there is a surprising sight – not just a clear view of the sandy bed, but shoals of tiny fish, scuttling crabs and multicoloured plant-life."

"The Tokyo Olympics are probably going to happen, but almost surely in 2021 rather than in four months as planned."

"Dr. Anthony Fauci says he can’t jump in front of the microphone to stop President Donald Trump from speaking at daily White House briefings on the coronavirus outbreak… The nation’s top infectious disease expert tells Science magazine in an interview that Trump listens 'even though we disagree on some things.'"

"Research published today in Nature Scientific Reports presents a material that emits light when heated that appears to exceed the limits set by that natural law."

"As officials scramble to contend with a critical ventilator shortage amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, the Trump administration is resorting to 'wartime' measures and leaning on the private sector to help meet demand for these potentially life-saving devices 'FAST!', the president tweeted Sunday. And while this is indeed promising news, President Donald Trump—per his usual M.O.—oversold things significantly." Tooling itself would take a few weeks. In case you've never had the opportunity to work with someone whose only qualifications are an MBA, this is so characteristic of a D student.

"The Federal Reserve said Monday it will launch a barrage of programs aimed at helping markets function more efficiently in the wake of the coronavirus crisis… Among the initiatives is a commitment to continue its asset purchasing program 'in the amounts needed to support smooth market functioning and effective transmission of monetary policy to broader financial conditions and the economy.'… That represents a potentially new chapter in the Fed’s 'money printing' as it commits to keep expanding its balance sheet as necessary, rather than a commitment to a set amount." Wonder where all those voices shouting about "banana republics" and "runaway inflation" when Obama asked for a $1.5T stimulus plan have gone to. Maybe they're all on ventilators and can't speak.

"A Raleigh police officer shot a man during a foot chase, spurring demonstrators to flock to the shooting scene, downtown government buildings and even the governor's and police chief's homes." Social distancing.

"The Supreme Court ruled Monday that states can prevent criminal defendants from pleading insanity without violating their constitutional rights. The decision could prompt states across the country to toughen standards for defendants who wish to plead not guilty by reason of insanity."

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Linkee-poo Saturday

Amidst all the COVID-19, I'm now working from home. Which for the work I do and how we do it, is a total PIA (just set up the VPN already). Anyway, the alligators are getting wonky. Lots of them have gone into hiding, but a few of them are still causing trouble (which feels rather odd given the circumstances). But with many places being closed and expecting Gov. DeWine to issue an order like PA and CA, it's getting a little scary on the home front. Add to the fun is the current state of musical chairs at the hospital which is opening some positions and I'm not sure if I should make the final jump. This is, after all, why I did the reboot (retrain as a radiological technologist). If I choose correctly it might mean saving my little family (spouse and I), but might mean we live a whole different life (and things here on the blog may change) and adjust to lower income levels. If I chose poorly it means watching most of what I've built over 3 decades get washed away and seriously screwing the pooch. Rock meet hard-place. Congress isn't working on a plan to save me.

Kenny Rogers, and so it goes.

"Fears of a second wave of infections are growing just as China brings its epidemic under control, with the spread of the virus in Europe and North America spurring a rush homewards by Chinese expatriates, many of them students."

"'Hello. According to an epidemiological investigation,' it began, addressing each recipient by name. 'You were near someone sick with the coronavirus. You must immediately isolate at home [14 days] to protect your relatives and the public. ... This information will be used only for this purpose and will be erased when no longer needed. Sincerely, public health services.'" Big Brother sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake.

The lovely reporting. "The CDC reported a flaw in its coronavirus test kits to the FDA on February 10, but it took another 16 days for the agency to notify state labs of the solution… The faulty component, which caused most state labs to receive inconclusive results, was never essential to the test's function." And from the same outlet, "In particular, some of the CDC's tests wrongly detected the new coronavirus in laboratory-grade water. The email, sent from a CDC official to state public-health-lab officials, said some labs found 'sporadic reactivity in the negative control of one of the three assay components.'" Now, these stories aren't mutually exclusive, but you'd think Business Insider could get them all together.

"It's unclear whether people who recover from COVID-19 will be immune to reinfection from the coronavirus and, if so, how long that immunity will last." However so far the best treatment is plasma donated from people who have recovered. "After infection with one of these viruses, (Ann Falsey of the University of Rochester Medical Center) says, antibodies are produced but then the levels slowly decline and people become susceptible again… 'If the natural infection doesn't do very well in giving you immunity, what is going to happen with the vaccine?' says (Stanley Perlman of the University of Iowa). 'How are we going to make sure that that vaccine not only induces a response that works for the next six months, but two to three years?'"

"In a clash of gut instinct versus science, President Donald Trump and the government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, publicly sparred over whether a malaria drug would work to treat people with coronavirus disease."

"The chairman of the Riley County Commissioners suggested this week that the global coronavirus pandemic is not a problem locally because unlike in Italy, there are not a lot of Chinese people living in central Kansas, according to two other officials who attended the meeting Wednesday night… Before we go any further, the scientific term for this kind of xenophobic falsehood is bunkum." Elect stupid people, get a stupid government. Guess what party he belongs to. Aw, it's no fun unless you guess. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"After six years of developing a new passenger spacecraft for NASA, SpaceX is finally on track to launch its very first crew to the International Space Station in mid-to-late May — but uncertainty surrounds the flight as the novel coronavirus pandemic worsens in the US. On Wednesday, NASA put out a call for press to cover the mission from Cape Canaveral, Florida, but if current restrictions remain in place over the next couple of months, changes will likely need to be made as the mission proceeds." Waits for this, "we're going ahead with it because this is what America needs" presser.

"The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 913 points, leaving the index 2.8% lower than when President Trump took office. Friday's drop culminated a staggering week of losses as the coronavirus impact took an economic toll." Now that we've broken the psychological floor of 20,000, who knows where it will land. My guess is somewhere around 15,000, but I am not an investment advisor (although I play one in blogs and on twitter), I've have been wildly wrong before, you should discuss with your own blah blah blah. And again I'll note that if you still have a job that offers a 401(k) (or similar), you should check your own finances to see if you can, but you should be maxed out for your contributions for the next 6 months IMHO. Buy low, sell high.

"According to a Saturday morning report from Politico, a senior aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has now been implicated in the growing scandal of lawmakers who made suspicious stock market trades just as the government was becoming aware of the growing threat of the coronavirus pandemic." A lotta nuts are going to fall from this tree, and as an aid, this one might be prosecuted (even though the numbers for him are small in comparison). But just remember, it's actually not illegal for a federal congressman or senator to trade on insider information. The last time this was a big scandal, there was just enough outrage to have a bill written, but enough time passed that there was little heat to get it reconciled and signed. So nothing happened. Also, "Politico notes that Sloofman is not alone in falling under scrutiny with three more lawmakers, two Democrats and another Republican, also trading during the early days." I don't care if it was Nancy Pelosi, this time we should make it illegal and not just "unethical." (Grokked from Jim Wright)

Remember the "Bin Laden Determined to Strike America" memo they gave to GW in August of 2001? Yeah, hold that beer. "Citing US officials familiar with the agencies' reports and warnings, the Post reported that intelligence agencies depicted the nature and global spread of the virus and China's apparent downplaying of its severity, as well as the potential need for government measures to contain it -- while Trump opted to dismiss or simply not address their seriousness." Elect stupid people, get stupid government. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"President Trump has made a lot of promises about actions his administration is taking to fight the coronavirus pandemic… Not all of them have been exactly on the mark — and some have yet to pay off as advertised." The president lies? :: clutches pearls, faints on a conveniently nearby couch ::

"'We need to deliver relief now,' McConnell told the Senate on Friday. 'We need to go big. We need to minimize new complexity. And we need to move swiftly.'… Democrats, however, pointed out the CARES Act's tax breaks for businesses which would include the deferment of employer payroll tax payment for, at the maximum, two years… In her letter, Pelosi described McConnell's proposal as 'not at all pro-worker and [the proposal] puts corporations ahead of working people. As written, it is a non-starter.'" Wow, who could have seen that coming as the Republicans and the President conferred without including the democrats.

"House minority leader Kevin McCarthy complained Thursday that the decision by his homestate governor to institute a statewide shelter-in-place order was premature and made without input from other state leaders… 'We do think there was an ability to do this without shutting down the entire state,' McCarthy told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday. 'I hope he consulted with a lot of experts before he just made this decision.'" Fuck you, Kevin. Does Gov. Newsom often consult with you on matters of his government?

"(Peter) Alexander asked, 'What do you say to Americans who are scared?'… Trump, shaking his head, ripped into Alexander in response… 'I say that you are a terrible reporter,' Trump replied. 'That's what I say.'… The President proceeded to launch into an extended rant against Alexander, saying he asked a "nasty question" and assailing NBC and its parent company, Comcast." The question was a softball, lobbed to the president so he could knock it over the fences. This should have been a prepared answer. This is like asking a candidate why they're running for office… boom, open mic to lay out your case and speak from "the heart". Instead the president didn't whiff at the ball, he just tried to step right in front of the pitch and tripped on his untied shoelaces. Heckofa job, Donnie.

"North Korea fired two projectiles that appeared to be short-range ballistic missiles into the sea off the east coast of the Korean peninsula, South Korea's military said on Saturday, after what analysts said was a show of confidence during the coronavirus pandemic by announcing an April legislature session."

"Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg has decided against creating a super PAC that was expected to spend unlimited sums to take on President Trump and instead is transferring $18 million to the Democratic National Committee." Mikey is out (although hopefully he will continue to fund some operations). Maybe he needs to be visited by the Ghosts of Bernie Past, Present, and Future?