Saturday, May 30, 2020

Darn, I Came So Close

The happiest U.S. consumers are white, Republican, college-educated men who have full-time jobs, own their own homes and enjoy household incomes of over $100,000....  link
6 out of 7 ain't bad.

My New Favorite Democrat

She's a Democrat, so I'm sure I wouldn't agree with her politics.  But I agree with her reasoning, with her common sense, with her compassion.

She's the mayor of Atlanta.

Listen to every single word she says in that 4 minutes and 47 seconds.

Update, 6/1/20This Democrat isn't bad, either.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Masks, the New Signal of Virtue

Fauci also said that Americans should wear face masks in public to protect themselves — but also to get into good practices.

"I want to protect myself and protect others [by mask-wearing], and also because I want to make it be a symbol for people to see that that's the kind of thing you should be doing," he added.

During the interview, the infections (sic) diseases expert also admitted that wearing a mask is not 100% effective, but says that it is a gesture that shows "respect" for other people.

World Health Organization, which I can agree with on this topic:

The World Health Organization is recommending healthy people, including those who don't exhibit COVID-19 symptoms, only wear masks when taking care of someone infected with the contagion, a sharp contrast from the advice given by American public health officials who recommend everyone wear a mask in public.

"If you do not have any respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough or runny nose, you do not need to wear a mask," Dr. April Baller, a public health specialist for the WHO, says in a video on the world health body's website posted in March. "Masks should only be used by health care workers, caretakers or by people who are sick with symptoms of fever and cough."
Update, 6/1/20:  What about the New England Journal of Medicine?
The New England Journal of Medicine has published an article stating that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little protection from infection and assesses their true value as anxiety alleviation.
Perhaps you don't trust the link I provided. Here is the info in NEJM's own words:
We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection. Public health authorities define a significant exposure to Covid-19 as face-to-face contact within 6 feet with a patient with symptomatic Covid-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 30 minutes). The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal. In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic.

The calculus may be different, however, in health care settings...

What is clear, however, is that universal masking alone is not a panacea. A mask will not protect providers caring for a patient with active Covid-19 if it’s not accompanied by meticulous hand hygiene, eye protection, gloves, and a gown. A mask alone will not prevent health care workers with early Covid-19 from contaminating their hands and spreading the virus to patients and colleagues. Focusing on universal masking alone may, paradoxically, lead to more transmission of Covid-19 if it diverts attention from implementing more fundamental infection-control measures...

It is also clear that masks serve symbolic roles. Masks are not only tools, they are also talismans that may help increase health care workers’ perceived sense of safety, well-being, and trust in their hospitals.

Again, that's only for health care workers.  The rest of us aren't at high enough risk, and I'm tired of others allowing their fears to dictate my life.

A Compliment

The end of the school year is fast approaching, and with it communications from students.  Some want higher grades, I've even had a request for a lower grade (don't ask).  Sometimes there are compliments in these emails, and this one made me feel good:

I forgot to thank you Sir, your class was the only one of use I had all day, where I wasn’t just on my phone or asleep. The material felt productive. Also I really appreciated the way you were never unfair or came to class upset. There was always a level of respect held in the class. I appreciate the time you spent teaching us , and I hope you are doing well.


Nothing that happens today is going to top that.

Mathematically, How Does This Work?

Here is the headline from today's Washingtonian:
DC Will Lower Its Default Speed Limit to 20 MPH
Some streets, where more space is needed for social distancing, will be lowered to 15 MPH

Faster speeds require more distance between cars for safety.  Slower speeds allow cars to be closer together.  How does so-called social distancing even work with cars?

Coronavirus foolishness.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Coaching Football

Bobby Ross started coaching football in 1965.  In 1990 his Georgia Tech team won the national championship.  After the 1994 NFL season his San Diego Chargers went to the Super Bowl, losing to the 49ers 49-26.  I remember that game:  the 49ers scored 49 points, and the score added up to 75--it was the NFL's 75th anniversary year.

After 1996, Army football took a nosedive.  In 2003, Army went 0-13.  Then Bobby Ross was hired.  Things were going to turn around!

They were going to, but they didn't.  Ross left Army in 2006 with a 9-25 record.

It takes more than a dynamic head coach:
Chicago Bears Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary is one of the NFL’s all-time great defenders. That greatness has not extended to coaching.

Singletary compiled a 1-21 record as head coach at Trinity Christian Academy in the Dallas suburb of Addison, Texas. Once a consistent contender among Texas private and parochial schools, the team failed to win a single game during the 2019 season. Following the season, Singletary resigned from his position to direct his attention toward motivational speaking and consulting.

A Pro Bowler for most of his NFL career, Singletary manned the middle for one of the NFL’s most feared defenses. He was twice named NFL Defensive Player of the Year and helped lead the Bears to a Super Bowl XX rout over the New England Patriots.

More than a decade after his playing days ended, Singletary entered the coaching ranks, where he has stumbled. He held assistant positions with the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers starting in 2003. During the 2008 season, he was named interim head coach after head coach Mike Nolan was fired. Singletary went 18-22 during his tenure, failing to win more than eight games in any given season.

I remember those eyes.  He was fierce on the field.

Free Speech For Me, But Not For Thee

Who determines what is a lie, and what's just wrong?  Or what's just opinion? Her view is just idiotic.  Is that a lie?  She'd probably think so:
Democratic political analyst Donna Brazile doesn't believe the U.S. Constitution protects lies.

During Fox News's The Five, Brazile got into a heated argument with co-host Jesse Watters over Twitter fact-checking President Trump's tweet on mail-in voting, asserting the Bill of Rights doesn't apply to lies...

"There's no First Amendment right to lie, period," Brazile concluded, prompting pushback from hosts Greg Gutfeld and Dana Perino. "What would happen to politicians, Donna? If you couldn't lie, you'd have no politics!" Gutfeld said, but Brazile doubled-down on her opinion.


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

How to Get Good At Math

Sure, math comes more easily to some than to others, but everyone can "do math" if they put some effort into it.  Most of us aren't going to win a Fields Medal (I'm too old, for example), but "I can't do math" should have the same shock value in our society as "I can't read" does. How to get better?  Stick-to-it-iveness, or sitzfleisch:
To get things done, you have to do. That’s it. You need sitzfleisch (ZITS–flysh), or “chair glue,” which—as Quartz’s Anne Quito notes—is a German word for the ability to sit through a boring or complex task for a considerable amount of time, however long it takes.

So how do you cultivate the focus and discipline to finish a task? By continually doing the dull stuff. You do it until you’re used to it and getting through is a habit.

And when you're good at it, it's not "boring" anymore.  Most of us enjoy doing things we're good at.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

It's Got To Be Bad When The New York Times Admits This

Why have Republican leaders (say, governors of Texas, Florida, and Georgia) get savaged in the press, while Democratic leaders (say, the governors of California, Washington, Illinois, and New York) are sainted?  The actual coronavirus results (you know, data, or science) don't justify either response:
The staggering American death toll from the coronavirus, now approaching 100,000, has touched every part of the country, but the losses have been especially acute along its coasts, in its major cities, across the industrial Midwest, and in New York City.

The devastation, in other words, has been disproportionately felt in blue America, which helps explain why people on opposing sides of a partisan divide that has intensified in the past two decades are thinking about the virus differently. It is not just that Democrats and Republicans disagree on how to reopen businesses, schools and the country as a whole. Beyond perception, beyond ideology, there are starkly different realities for red and blue America right now.

Democrats are far more likely to live in counties where the virus has ravaged the community, while Republicans are more likely to live in counties that have been relatively unscathed by the illness, though they are paying an economic price. Counties won by President Trump in 2016 have reported just 27 percent of the virus infections and 21 percent of the deaths — even though 45 percent of Americans live in these communities, a New York Times analysis has found.
Here's why I like federalism, and why I'm glad the country did not have a nationwide shutdown plan:
Texas, solidly Republican territory and the second most populous state in the nation, had one of the country’s hottest economies before the outbreak. The state’s biggest cities have so far escaped the worst of the damage. More than 200 metro areas in the United States have higher infection rates than both Dallas and Houston, which may explain why Texas residents are particularly frustrated by the shutdown.

“The cure is worse than the disease, no doubt,” said Mark Henry, a Republican who oversees the Galveston County government in southeast Texas. “There are businesses that were shut down that are never going to open again.”

I live in a suburban city of about 90,000 residents that has had 8 coronavirus deaths as of today.  Sacramento County has had 56 deaths out of a population of almost 1 1/2 million.  data source I'm just not overly worried about dying from this virus--and I don't even live in a nursing home.  The data tell me that, as Mr. Henry said above, "The cure is worse than the disease, no doubt".

The Economics of Public Universities

Only government-run and government-funded organizations could possibly think that this makes sense:
The nearly 500,000 students enrolled in the California State University system’s 23 campuses should expect to pay full price for tuition this fall.

A spokeswoman for the system told The College Fix via email that tuition is expected to remain at the regular price despite the system’s decision to remain virtual for the fall 2020 semester.

“There are no plans to reduce tuition and campus-based mandatory fees at this time,” said CSU spokeswoman Toni Molle. “One of the benefits of announcing our planning now is to allow for additional professional development opportunities for faculty and staff over the summer which lead to the best possible learning experience that we can provide for students.”

Capitalism and "Creative Destruction"

While some people would still have us subsidizing buggy whip manufacturers, I understand the idea of creative destruction:
What do the companies in these three groups have in common?

Group A: American Motors, Brown Shoe, Studebaker, Collins Radio, Detroit Steel, Zenith Electronics, and National Sugar Refining.

Group B: Boeing, Campbell Soup Company, Colgate-Palmolive, Deere & Company, General Motors, IBM, Kellogg Company, Procter and Gamble Company, and Whirlpool Corporation.

Group C: Amazon, Facebook, eBay, Home Depot, Microsoft, Google, Netflix, Office Depot, and Target.

All of the companies in Group A were in the Fortune 500 in 1955, but not in 2019.

All of the companies in Group B were in the Fortune 500 in both 1955 and 2019 (and have remained on the list every year since it started in 1955).

All of the companies in Group C were in the Fortune 500 in 2019, but not in 1955.

The list of Fortune 500 companies in 1955 is available here and the list for 2020 was just released last week and is available here (based on sales for the fiscal year ended on or before Jan. 31, 2020). Comparing the 1955 Fortune 500 companies to the 2020 Fortune 500, there are only 51 companies that appear in both lists and have remained on the list since it started....

One Of The Concerns I Have About Plans To Reopen School In August

I'm somewhat hard of hearing and often cannot people unless they look directly at me when they speak--partly so I can read their lips:
Although it has temporarily stopped taking orders, a company called Safe’N’Clear makes a mask that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for surgical settings but is not an N95 respirator. That could pose a problem for health-care providers, says Goldstein, because the masks aren’t fully protective. And clear masks have other problems, such as a tendency to fog up, she notes.
I'm not sure how I'm supposed to help students with math problems while maintaining so-called social distancing, and I'm not sure how I'm supposed to understand what students say when their mouths are covered.

Masks and so-called social distancing are being considered for when school reopens in August.  Both of them seem extreme and unnecessary to me, but Befehl ist Befehl.

Monday, May 25, 2020

A Small Sign of Hope

Almost two months ago I wrote about Rosie's Country Kitchen.  Today, it's open!  I posted this on Instagram; note the red, white, and blue color scheme in honor of the day.

BTW, can't you feel your arteries clogging just looking at that food?

Sunday, May 24, 2020

It Took A Judge To Figure This Out?

These school officials are idiots:
A middle school student who helped a friend draw a picture of a cartoon bomb should not have been convicted of making a terrorist threat, an appeals court judge has ruled.

The boy, identified in court records only as A.N.G., was found delinquent on two counts in Waupaca County — disorderly conduct and making a terrorist threat, a felony — as a party to a crime.

This week, Court of Appeals Judge Brian Blanchard ordered both adjudications vacated and the delinquency petition dismissed. 

The boy's "private drawing was not a true threat in the constitutional sense," Blanchard found, but rather the kind of expression protected by the First Amendment.
It seems silly to have to defend the drawing on First Amendment grounds.  That it was a typical boy's drawing that identified no true threat to anyone should have been enough.

Science and Data

Issues and Insights:
“This isn’t to say that no action was needed to cope with this uncharted virus. That’s not the argument any of these researchers are making. What they are saying is that the lockdowns weren’t based on sound science, and that far less intrusive measures would likely have been just as effective, if not more so, without destroying the economy. To be sure, there are studies claiming that the lockdowns reduced infections and saved lives. But as JP Morgan’s Kolanovic noted, ‘Unlike rigorous testing of potential new drugs, lockdowns were administered with little consideration that they might not only cause economic devastation but potentially more deaths than COVID-19 itself.’ Where’s the ‘party of science’ when you need it?”
It was one thing to shut the world down for a couple weeks in March, to "flatten the curve", it's entirely another to keep it shut down indefinitely.

Bloomberg even has charts:
While not a gauge of whether the decisions taken were the right ones, nor of how strictly they were followed, the analysis gives a clear sense of each government’s strategy for containing the virus. Some — above all Italy and Spain — enforced prolonged and strict lockdowns after infections took off. Others — especially Sweden — preferred a much more relaxed approach. Portugal and Greece chose to close down while cases were relatively low. France and the U.K. took longer before deciding to impose the most restrictive measures.

But, as our next chart shows, there’s little correlation between the severity of a nation’s restrictions and whether it managed to curb excess fatalities — a measure that looks at the overall number of deaths compared with normal trends.
I wonder what the correlation coefficient is on that trendline in the last graph. 

The CDC does caution that the numbers are likely to change with new data, but considering we’ve gone from 3.4 percent to 2.0 percent to now 0.26 percent. The more data we get, the lower the numbers get. So, I’m thinking it might get even lower.

But, the bigger takeaway from this is that the early doomsday predictions about the coronavirus were all wrong. Everything that justified the lockdowns and the shutting down of our economy was wrong. We need to open this country back up.
All the data are telling us the same thing.  So why is so much of the country still locked down?

Lockdowns are no longer justified by science; rather, they are purely political.

Update, 5/25/20This Twitter post (on Instagram) makes the "science" argument pretty silly:
New York City is allowing you to hang out on the beaches, but not swim.  California is allowing you to swim, but not hang out on the beaches.  Both claim science is guiding their policies.
And then there's this:
The CDC's New 'Best Estimate' Implies a COVID-19 Infection Fatality Rate Below 0.3%
That rate is much lower than the numbers used in the horrifying projections that shaped the government response to the epidemic.
The March projections were not only horrifying, they were horribly wrong.  Science would tell us to adjust our actions based on better data.  What do you call it when you refuse to accept anything other than your own preconceived notions, refuse to accept science?  Atheists, help me out with this one.

Friday, May 22, 2020

It Might've Been The Best We Could Do On The Fly

I doubt that any of us expected, back when school started last year, that we'd shut the schools down for a third of the school year.  I doubt teachers expected that they'd be teaching from their living rooms, and I doubt kids and parents thought they'd be home all day.  What's happened this school year has certainly been unprecedented.

The transfer of education delivery from in-person to online was haphazard at best, and maybe it was done about as well as could have been expected given that no one had ever even planned for such an event.  The smart people told us the world was ending and we had to change everything, so we did.

Despite all we've learned about the coronavirus since then, though, too many people are still acting as if it's mid-March and the world is still on the brink of a pandemic.  Plans are being made to open schools only partially, if at all, after summer break.

I'm tired of my kitchen table having to serve as my classroom.  To be blunt, distance teaching isn't what I signed up for, certainly not from my house.

Turns out distance learning has not been great for students, either (surprise, surprise):
Children are getting much less learning time — three hours a day for most,  two hours a day for students who attended high-poverty schools — since schools switched to remote instruction, reports an Education Week survey of teachers...

Teachers are spending less time presenting new material, more time reviewing and troubleshooting technology, they said. Not surprisingly, student engagement is down...

Remote learning is such a failure that school ended in March for most students, writes economist Susan Dynarski in the New York Times. For “the vast majority of students, online learning and work sheets are no substitute for trained teachers in classrooms.”
You know what else isn't great for students?  Handing out passing grades like cookies, because "student grades shouldn't be adversely affected by the shutdowns."  If, like me, you think grades should measure some sort of achievement towards academic content standards, such a comment mortifies you.  On the other hand, if you see grades as rewards, or as commodities to be given or withheld at whim, then that comment probably makes sense in your world.  When states and districts tell teachers what grades they must give, you see the full folly of the modern public school system.

Thursday, May 21, 2020


There's more to science than wearing a white lab coat and trying to sound authoritative:
One of the top scientific advisers to the British Government said the two metre (6'6") social distancing rule is based on 'very fragile' evidence.

People in the UK have been urged to stay at least 2m, or six-and-a-half feet, away from anyone who they don't live with, to avoid catching or spreading COVID-19.

But the distance may be a non-scientific estimate that just caught on in countries around the world, as top researchers say there is not solid evidence to back it up.

Other nations have cut their rules down to a 1m gap, which advocates say could help businesses get back to work faster and help to kick-start the economy.
So-called social distancing is a scam.  So is wearing masks:
At a conference at the World Health Organization in early April, meanwhile, Mike Ryan, the executive director of WHO's Health Emergencies Program, said that there is "no specific evidence to suggest that the wearing of masks by the mass population has any particular benefit."

Some experts have claimed that new knowledge of asymptomatic transmission of the coronavirus led to public health officials radically reversing their advice on mask-wearing. Yet asymptomatic spread of the disease has been known since at least January, when a study in the New England Journal of Medicine appeared to confirm as much. Fauci himself acknowledged the results of that study on Feb. 3, over a month before he reaffirmed his opposition to general mask usage.

So what changed in between then and now? Has compelling new evidence emerged that suggests widespread mask usage is effective at slowing the spread of the coronavirus? Has such evidence ever existed? In the view of some dissenting experts, the answers are, respectively: Not much, no, and no. Yet, for now at least, a broad consensus of expert opinion continues to insist it is necessary to wear them for the duration of the pandemic, if for no other reason than to be careful.
The more we learn, the more it seems like politicians are just running scared--afraid they'll be blamed for deaths due to a virus.  I wonder if American hospitals would have been overwhelmed if we'd done nothing, as we've done in every other pandemic in my lifetime.  Probably wouldn't have been.

And we'd have lost up to 50% fewer lives if we'd have protected people in nursing homes.

Putting Math and Physics To Important Use

Toilet paper.

A month or two ago it was all over the news--shortages everywhere as people hoarded it. 

And no doubt you've participated in at least one debate in your lifetime about whether the TP loop goes "over" or "under" when the roll is hanging.  (Answer:  according to the patent for the TP roll hanger, the loop goes "over".  Settled.)

Now we come to the next big debate:  folded, or wadded?
I fold my toilet paper. It’s the most efficient and effective way to do it, especially as I work my way to becoming a one-wipe wunderkind. But it’s also the subject of heated debate, thanks to the internet. Some people wad their toilet paper into poop loofahs — a practice that seems uncivilized and wasteful! Your butt deserves a perfect square, and your pipes deserve way fewer sheets than what you’re clogging ’em with...

So I reached out to math and physics professionals to scientifically prove which method is superior: wadding toilet paper, or folding it.  
I could share the answer with you here, but you know you want to read the full article yourself.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

An Unusual Event

School closed down on March 13th.  I don't remember if I got gas on the way home that day or not, but today was the first time since at least that day that I filled up--and even so, it was just over half a tank.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Too Many Journalists Are Scumbags

Yes, it's a small sample size.  No, it's not a very scientific study.  But reality doesn't matter to too many journalists, they only care about their narrative.  Since turnabout is fair play, let's see what this study had to say about journalists:
Journalists' brains show a lower-than-average level of executive functioning, according to a new study, which means they have a below-average ability to regulate their emotions, suppress biases, solve complex problems, switch between tasks, and show creative and flexible thinking.
Sounds about right to me, so it must be right.
The results showed that journalists' brains were operating at a lower level than the average population, particularly because of dehydration and the tendency of journalists to self-medicate with alcohol, caffeine, and high-sugar foods.
Don't sound very intelligent, these journalists.
Compared with bankers, traders, or salespeople, journalists showed that they were more able to cope with pressure. Traits that make journalism a stressful profession are deadlines, accountability to the public, unpredictable and heavy workloads, public scrutiny, repercussions on social media, and lower pay.

The results, however, showed that the journalists were on average no more physically stressed than the average person. The blood tests showed that their levels of cortisol — known as the stress hormone — were mostly normal.
So, they're just drama queens.

Drawing wild conclusions about large groups of people based on a tiny sample, that may or may not be representative, is fun!

Update:  That they didn't get the joke shows journalists aren't very bright, either.  Perhaps that's why they became journalists for a living.

NEA Hides Behind Children In Upcoming Budget Cuts

The NEA cares about children only as much as they create a demand for teachers.  Here they are, hiding behind children in a naked attempt to get more dues-paying members:
Two months after the coronavirus pandemic forced schools across the country to close their doors, educators and students remain hunkered down in their homes teaching and learning remotely. Everybody is doing the best they can, but the challenges around distance learning are formidable – and will likely remain so until school re-opens. But what “back-to-school” this year will actually look like to students, educators and parents is shrouded in uncertainty.

What is clear is that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the inequities facing our most vulnerable students.
There we go. They care.
“Educators and parents are making their voice heard to ensure that students do not pay the price in this crisis,” said Eskelsen García, who cited a recent NEA survey revealing that almost 90% of the public school parents approve  of how educators are doing their job during the pandemic – higher marks than they gave their governor or mayor.

Eskeslen-García said re-opening the economy and communities can’t happen until we re-open schools. And we can’t re-open schools until students have what they need to be safe, to learn and succeed.
What do these children need?  More money for their teachers!  More money for computers!  In a time when states, due to their own mandated shutdowns, have huge holes in their budgets.  California is looking at a 25% loss in state income, and somehow schools, which take up about 50% of the state budget, are supposed to be immune to this? 

I don't want to take a pay cut any more than the next guy, but no amount of unicorn farts is going to save teachers from sharing some of the pain.  I anticipate pay freezes and perhaps furlough days, at least for the next year.  At least I didn't lose my job, as so many other taxpayers have.

The rest of the article is more "children need to feel safe!" ridiculum (I think I just invented a word there).  Children will feel safe if the adults don't tell them they're unsafe.  And I don't even have an Ed.D. to figure that out.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Data Shoots Down A Dem Talking Point

Why do they lie so often?  Is it because telling the truth wouldn't get them enough votes?
Governor Cuomo, for his part, has attempted to resurrect the old canard about the so-called blue states subsidizing the red ones, as measured by tax receipts vs. federal expenditures. “They’re not bailing us out,” Cuomo said of Florida and Rick Scott. “We bail them out every year.”

This is a cherished Democratic talking point, but it is not quite true.

The largest per-capita net-recipient states at the moment are Democratic states: Virginia, Kentucky, and New Mexico. The biggest “donor” states are Democratic, too: Connecticut, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. (NB: Estimates vary some from source to source, but New York is reliably pretty high on the purported net-payers’ list.) Some of those numbers are driven by entitlements and by the fact that the U.S. tax code is steeply progressive, i.e. by Democratic policies. And some of those numbers are driven by the fact that federal purchases, federal contracts, federal employees (hello, Virginia!), and federal lands are not evenly distributed throughout the country, which means that federal outlays do not land equally on every square inch of American territory — the federal government owns 85 percent of the land in Nevada but less than 1 percent of the land in New York State. There are a lot of financial firms in New York City and not very many Air Force bases, which affects the notional balance of payments.

The same dynamic is a big part of why Democratic states such as Maryland and Hawaii are on the net-takers’ list while Republican states such as North Dakota are net payers. California, once a donor state, is at the moment a modest recipient state, to the tune of about $12 a year per capita...

(Another fun way of looking at this is that, because of our very progressive tax code, so-called donor states tend to have very high levels of the “income inequality” that keeps progressives up at night. In fact, California, Connecticut, Louisiana, New York, and the District of Columbia contribute disproportionately to that inequality—every other state has a Gini coefficient lower than the national average.
The more you know....

Saturday, May 16, 2020

No Corona

On Wednesday I had a coronavirus test.  When I woke up this morning I had an email waiting for me--no sign of the virus.  I'm 'rona-free.

If I were more talented I'd rewrite the lyrics to The Knack's 1979 hit My Sharona and make my own music video--but I'm not that talented.

Saw this today and it struck home:

Friday, May 15, 2020

I'm Old Enough To Remember When The ACLU Actually Fought For (Some) Civil Liberties

How can you claim to support civil liberties when you don't support due process?
After a week of the usual suspects complaining, the American Civil Liberties Union has wandered into the fray, filing a lawsuit to block DeVos’s new federal guidelines.

Like all of the DeVos haters, the ACLU is lying about the changes:
DeVos is Rolling Back Protections for Sexual Harassment and Assault Survivors in Schools. We’re Suing to Put a Stop to It.
This is the American Civil Liberties Union almost gleefully taking a legal stand against due process. DeVos’s revisions strengthened protections for the accused where none existed. Males on college campuses merely had to be accused to have their lives completely upended. In reality, the ACLU should have gotten involved earlier.

The organization seems to have lost all sense of its original purpose.
How the mighty have fallen.  Suicide, actually.

Update, 5/16/20There's more:
The ACLU vs. due process. If you were looking for more evidence that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been losing its principled approach to civil liberties, look no further: The group has filed suit to thwart Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's recently proposed reforms to bolster due process protections for students accused of sexual misconduct.

"DeVos has discarded decades of [the Department of Education's] experience addressing sexual harassment and assault by promulgating regulatory provisions that sharply limit educational institutions' obligations to respond to reports of sexual harassment and assault," wrote the ACLU in its lawsuit. "If allowed to be implemented at educational institutions nationwide, these provisions will make the promise of equal educational opportunities irrespective of sex even more elusive. This is true for all students, including students of color, LGBTQ students, and students with and without disabilities, in grade school, high school, and higher education."

The lawsuit frequently asserts that marginalized students will suffer under the new rules, but it never acknowledges that students of color were disproportionately harmed by the old rules. White woman accuses black man of rape; black man is expelled was a distressingly common series of events under the old regime—one that might have invited sympathy from an older model of the ACLU, given the organization's historic concern that racism in the criminal justice system has led to disparately harsh outcomes for black people.

Not this time. To the extent the lawsuit addresses racism, it uses it as a cudgel to break apart DeVos's carefully considered revisions to some Obama-era rule changes. The lawsuit frequently notes—as if this is some trump card that should override the new protections—that there is now a different standard for allegations of sex-based discrimination than there is for race-based discrimination on campuses....
You've gotta give the libertarians credit for consistency on the issue of civil liberties.


I'm told we have to listen to "experts".  That only "science" can guide us out of a political economic problem.  We should "believe the data".

Experts like this?
Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Dr. Barbara Ferrer made news Tuesday when she told the county’s board of Supervisors that the “Safer at Home” order would almost certainly be extended for three more months when it expired May 15...

In “Doctor” Ferrer’s case, she’s not an epidemiologist or virology expert. She’s not even a medical doctor, as KABC’s John Phillips discussed on his radio show Wednesday. Her educational resume, from a bio published at USC, where she was a panelist at a “Safe Schools” symposium:
Dr. Ferrer received her Ph.D. in Social Welfare from Brandeis University, a Master of Arts in Public Health from Boston University, a Master of Arts in Education from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and a Bachelor of Arts in Community Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Data like this?
The Colorado Department of Health and Environment is listing coronavirus as cause of death of a Colorado man despite the county coroner ruling that he died of ethanol toxicity with an astounding 0.55 blood-alcohol level.

A blood-alcohol level of 0.3 is generally considered fatal.

Although the unidentified man tested positive for coronavirus, County Coroner George Deavers said he disagreed with the state's assessment after his investigation with a pathologist revealed that the man's blood-alcohol content was nearly seven times the legal driving limit of 0.08.
Commerce has been destroyed because of politicians who are afraid to walk back decisions they made in ignorance back in March.  They're afraid they'll get blamed for deaths once life starts returning to normal.

Our stores aren't closed, our national parks aren't closed, due to "experts", "science", or "data".  They're closed because of fear.  Politicians are afraid.

Update, 5/16/20Here's more "data":
Colorado has made a stunning and significant change to the way it counts COVID-19 deaths that reduced the statewide figure from more than 1,000 to 878, according to a report.

The change came after Colorado’s Department of Public Health admitted that its COVID-19 death toll was counting those who tested positive for the coronavirus but had died of other causes, Fox 31 Denver reported late Friday.

The department now says 1,150 Coloradoans who died had COVID-19 but only 878 of those deaths were “due to” COVID-19.
I'll bet this could happen lots of places--thus making the virus statistically less lethal, and making an even stronger case for returning life to normal.

Update #2, 5/16/20:  Here's a twofer!
Last month, New York funeral home directors blew the whistle about inflated coronavirus death numbers. Death certificates mark “COVID-19” as the cause of death even when the deceased hadn’t tested positive for coronavirus, much less actually died of the virus. This week, a San Diego county supervisor suggested the numbers are even more inflated.
Update #3, 5/17/20A complete and total cluster:
Over 86,500 people have reportedly died in the United States from the Coronavirus, and the fear generated by those deaths is driving the public policy debate. But that number is a dramatic overcount. Our metrics include deaths that have nothing to do with the virus. The problem is even worse as the Centers for Disease Control over counts even some of these cases and the government has created financial incentives for this misreporting. Relying on these flawed numbers is destroying businesses and jobs and costing lives.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Is Government Transparency "Essential" During The Current Shutdown?

I'd say transparency and accountability are at least as important now as in ordinary times.

Press release:
A complaint filed on May 12 against California’s Department of Human Resources seeks to establish whether the agency works for the state residents and taxpayers or for the powerful labor unions that control most of its public employees.

The action, filed in Sacramento Superior Court, alleges officials at Human Resources wrongly refused to comply with two sets of information requests filed by the Freedom Foundation, a nonpartisan public policy organization specializing in exposing abuses by government employee unions.

“Both requests were submitted correctly, and the information sought is undeniably disclosable under the California Public Records Act (CPRA),” said Bob Wickers, the Freedom Foundation’s California director. “If any other organization had asked for these documents, the state would have handed them over without a second thought. But the unions are terrified of the Freedom Foundation and the HR Department believes it’s their job to protect the unions — even if that means breaking the law.”

On Jan. 23, the Freedom Foundation submitted a request for the total number of state employees paid by the State of California in each month of 2018 and 2019 and, for each of the 21 state of California bargaining units, the following information:
  • name of bargaining unit representative (labor organization);
  • agencies/departments represented;
  • the total number of employees in the bargaining unit who were paid by the state of California in each month of 2018 and 2019;
  • the total number of employees in the bargaining unit who were paid by the state of California and who had union dues or fees withheld from their pay in each month of 2018 and 2019; and,
  • the total amount of union dues/fees withheld by the state of California from the pay of employees in the bargaining unit in each month of 2018 and 2019.
After several delays, HR Department officials on Feb. 24 denied the request, claiming that, under the CPRA, they could not release records that are “part of the collective bargaining process.”

On March 12, the Freedom Foundation submitted a second information request, this time seeking for every public employee in the state:
  • full name;
  • month and year of birth (excluding day);
  • job classification title and code;
  • employee identification number;
  • hire date;
  • current pay rate/salary;
  • FTE status/percentage;
  • work email address;
  • worksite/duty station address; and, bargaining unit number.
Once again, the request was denied, citing the same reasons as in the first request and adding that they did not own the records in question and therefore could not release them.

“Their excuses don’t pass the laugh test,” Wickers said. “It doesn’t matter whether HR owns the records in dispute. They have to disclose anything ‘prepared, owned, used or retained by it.’ And none of the documents requested are related to state ‘deliberative processes or to the training of employees who do not have full collective bargaining and representation.’ The Freedom Foundation is entitled to these records.”

The Freedom Foundation makes no secret of why it wants the information.

“We want to contact public employees to notify them about a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that did away with mandatory union membership and dues in the public sector,” Wickers said. “The unions desperately want to keep that information from the workers because everyone who opts out represents $800 to $1,000 a year in dues money.

“We understand why the unions want to keep the members in the dark about their rights,” he said. “What we don’t understand is why a taxpayer-funded state agency feels it needs to be a partner in the conspiracy.”

Wickers said the complaint filed on May 4 asks that HR either provide the requested information or show cause why the court “should not issue such a writ and thereafter issue a peremptory writ compelling defendant to perform its public duty as set forth above.”

What Does The Future Hold?

The California State University system, as well as the local community college district, have both announced that they will not have in-person classes when the school year starts late this summer.

CSU System:
At a Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday, CSU Chancellor Timothy White asked the 23 CSU campuses to develop plans for online classes through the fall.

White said these plans are necessary for the 2020-2021 academic year as “evolving data” surrounding the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused the coronavirus. He said the health and safety of students, faculty and staff is most important, and regular in-class instruction might have to be switched to online if a “serious second wave of the pandemic occurs, as forecast.”

“Virtual planning is necessary because it might not be possible for some students, faculty and staff to safely travel to campus,” White said in a written statement. “Said another way, this virtual planning approach preserves as many options for as many students as possible"...

The CSU chancellor said courses will be “primarily” online in the fall semester, with limited exceptions for in-class instruction and research activities that cannot be provided online. These exceptions must be for learning activities that are “indispensable to the university’s core mission” and must be conducted within rigorous safety standards.
Los Rios Community College District:
With social distancing guidelines likely to remain in place in the coming months, Los Rios Community College District announced Monday it will move to a fully online fall schedule.

Very few classes that cannot be moved online will remain in-person, according to an email to students.

The college district said many students were concerned about campuses opening with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s physical distancing guidelines still in place and limited access to testing and personal protective equipment. 
How will K-12 go?  Wouldn't it look odd if 5-18 year old K-12 students were in school but 18-22 year old college students were not?  (And yes, I know there are older students).  I wonder if these higher education announcements are an indication of what I have to look forward to in August.

Read more here:

"Lie Back And Think Of England"

As a teenager I learned that the phrase "lie back and think of England" was advice given by an (English immigrant) mother to her daughter regarding sex on her wedding night.  That's what immediately came to mind as the nurse this morning at the drive-thru coronavirus testing facility told me to put my head against the headrest, look up at the ceiling, and "think about anyplace else you'd rather be."

That's almost the end of the story, let's go back to the beginning.

I needed to go to school to pick up a book, and I thought it would be fun to get a coronavirus test just to do it (I actually meet the requirements), so I did both today.  My appointment was at 11 am, so I went to school first--it's kinda on the way--and did what I needed to there, and then headed to the State Fairgrounds, where the testing was being conducted.

It took me days to get an appointment, but I finally did.  My email confirmation told me to arrive 15 minutes early, and I actually got there at 20 till.  I snaked through the long line, going through two different ID/confirmation checking stations, before I pulled into a large exposition building and up to my testing spot.

Within a minute, the nurse had a very long, thin, flexible swab up my nose and well into my sinus cavity.  It didn't hurt, it didn't itch, but alarm bells were going off in my head:  SOMETHING ISN'T RIGHT, THINGS AREN'T SUPPOSED TO BE IN HERE!  It was exceedingly uncomfortable. Tears were streaming from my eyes, not out of pain but out of irritation, like allergies.

Then it was done.  The test itself took less than a minute, and I rolled out at 11:29.  Remember that I arrived at 10:40 and my appointment was at 11:00.

I hope the sex was more enjoyable.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Mind Your Budget

Colleges and universities want bailout money while they continue to squander what they on useless positions:
Colleges and universities should be required to cut administrative bloat by 50 percent or more before they are entitled to receive any more bailout money from the feds, argues a right-leaning group of scholars.

That’s one of several suggestions spelled out by the National Association of Scholars — a nonprofit working to reform higher education — in its newly released Critical Care report...

“Colleges and universities need to make significant administrative cuts if they wish to receive another cent of aid,” the group stated in a news release. “… Hiring freezes won’t be enough when bloated administrative offices—diversity, inclusion, multicultural affairs, sustainability, Title IX, etc.—continue to guzzle through students’ debt-laden and hard-earned tuition. Accountability is key, and it starts with conditions on bailout funds.”
So-called Student Life bureaucracies should be slashed, cut, burned, and salted until even memory of their existence is forgotten.
“Attaching conditions to a bailout fund is only a partial solution,” the report states, but adds “enacting reform tied to coronavirus relief is the most practical way toward achieving the ultimate goal of structural reform of higher education.”
And let's not forget the billions in endowments they have saved up. Is the day not rainy enough?

Monday, May 11, 2020

How Bad Is The Coronavirus Shutdown Hurting California's Education Budget?

Outside of property taxes and a few fees, the only way government gets money in the treasury is taxing commerce.  No commerce, no tax revenue.  California is looking at a 25% budget deficit:
California’s projected $54 billion budget deficit will likely have a profound effect on Sacramento-area school districts, some of which were already facing dire financial outlooks before the coronavirus pandemic struck. But with the shutdown still in place, it may be weeks before districts have a solid grasp on what cuts will be necessary.

When Gov. Gavin Newsom released his January budget proposal, California public schools and community colleges were on track to receive $84 billion in funding mandated by the voter-approved formula that sets minimum school spending. Newsom’s administration called the number an “all-time high.”

The new projections released this week show guaranteed school funding at $18.3 billion below the earlier estimate.
They might freeze pay, and I don't think they'll cut daily pay rates, but furlough days wouldn't surprise me at all.

Want To Sign A Petition?

The state legislator is trying to repeal Proposition 209:
We have learned that Assembly Constitutional Amendment No. 5 (ACA-5) has been introduced to repeal Proposition 209. The bill is publicly viewable at this webpage [Link]. We strongly urge you to vote No on this bill!
Sign the petition here.

Saturday, May 09, 2020

More Thoughts On Coronavirus Shutdowns

Why Did We Treat Coronavirus So Differently Than Other Epidemics?
A more apt comparison would be the Hong Kong flu (obviously named by xenophobic racists) of 1968-69. This illness, like COVID-19, was highly contagious, had the ability to mutate, was fatal mostly for the elderly and already ill, and most infected people didn’t get that sick.

Hong Kong flu killed over 100,000 Americans, then with a population of 200 million. Yet Americans didn’t freak out. Schools stayed open since children weren’t in serious danger.

Again, common-sense measures to avoid exposure to the virus, sanitize hands and surfaces, and protect the vulnerable were taken. But there was no lockdown, people went to work, and life pretty much went on.

Is it possible, as experts claim, that COVID-19 has produced fewer fatalities because of the self-imposed lockdowns? In a word, no. There was never any evidence that lockdowns reduced overall death rates and now that we have some experience, it is becoming clear that lockdowns at best change only the timing of fatalities.

A recent study looked at how soon states went into lockdown after reaching the threshold of one death per million. Although lockdowns are still touted by the “experts,” the data clearly showed that whether states locked down early, late, or not at all had no effect on death rates.
They don't answer the title's question, perhaps it was rhetorical.

Some people's reaction to this coronavirus--you must wear masks! even in your car! which you shouldn't be driving! because you should STAY HOME!--is so extreme that it merits the descriptive title in this article:

Reopen Society And Shut Down Moral Narcissism
We’re supposed to think that the continued shutdowns over the coronavirus are good. Those who dare to ask about the science and models behind lockdown orders, the increasing collateral damage to our economy, or the difference between dying with or dying of the virus, much less the deaths that are happening because of the shutdown—receive swift judgment from the moral narcissists. Not in the form of factual or intelligent answers, but rather, questions framed to shame:

Don’t you care about granny? Do you want more people to die? Is the economy more important to you than people’s lives?

For the moral narcissist, Simon quipped, “A trip to Whole Foods in a Tesla became the equivalent of striking a blow against world hunger.”

Today, wearing a mask while you shop (and only for “essentials”)—plus making sure everyone else wears one and also stays 6 feet away—has become the equivalent of saving people from dying.
You are not a hero for wearing a mask.
And here we are: “Social distancing” is the new motto for those signaling their virtuous adherence to this new religion.
Moral narcissism reminds me of this quote from English cultural critic Theodore Dalrymple:
In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.  (boldface mine--Darren)
If you stay home and submit to government, everything will be OK; if you don't, millions will die and we will arrest you and throw you in prison.  Now put on your mask, prole.

Moral narcissism is a form of political correctness, and we know what George Carlin said about that:
Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners.
Finally, for those claiming we should essentially destroy modern civilization so that we might save one more life, and that we should open businesses gradually as our governments sink deeper into debt because there's no commerce:

Friday, May 08, 2020

This Makes A Lot of Sense (NOT)

Gruesome Newsom, aka Nazi Newsom and Newsollini, is generously allowing a little bit of commerce:
Several businesses can reopen their doors on Friday in California, as the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus climbs past 75,000.

Clothing stores, bookstores, florists and sporting goods stores are among businesses that can start curbside services, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom. 
As the Church Lady would say, "Well isn't that speeeecial."  I guess I can try on clothes out on the sidewalk.   How, exactly, will that bookstore work?

This is the kind of idiocy you get when you allow government to have, or take, too much power.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

The Speakeasy

Last night I visited my first speakeasy, sort of.  Some friends told me about a place where they were meeting for dinner.  I joined them.

The restaurant was only open for take-out, or so it seemed from the front.  The back part of the restaurant, though, hidden from view, was full of people enjoying dinner and a drink.  In fact, the booze was out on the counter, and people who had paid just went up and filled their own cups when they needed another round.  The other shops in the vicinity were closed, so it was easy to spread out cars so as not to make it look like people were congregating inside.

This is how Americans deal with governmental overreach.  We either ignore the rule or we fight it.  Last night we ignored.

My group took its food out back and "tailgated" around our vehicles.  We were there for a couple hours, mostly social distancing but having a great time just being together again.  Some brought their own beer, some bought drinks inside and brought them out, some of us didn't drink at all--but we all had a great time.

I plan on going to the next gathering.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

What Have I Been Watching

Given all the time I have to spend alone at home due to coronavirus shutdowns, you'd expect my tv would be on nonstop.  But it's not.

As a teacher I spend a lot of time working--planning lessons, recording and posting instructional videos, grading work, notifying parents and counselors of those who are in danger of failing, determining how best to give a math test online with limited resources, etc.  On an average day I spend more time doing this than I would if I were teaching at school.  Technology, especially, is a time-suck.  Creating and grading online tests takes more time, in general, than creating and grading paper tests.

So when I do finally shut the computer down for the day (night), I have a few options.  I break out the audiobooks, I go for a walk, I relax in the backyard, or some combination of the three.  Or maybe I turn on the TV.  I've watched and recommend all the shows listed below, but don't think I've watched all of them in just the last 7+ weeks!  Some of these shows I've watched within the last year!  Still, I find them enjoyable.

I have a Roku TV so I have hundreds of apps through which I can download content.  The only paid apps I use are Hulu and Netflix.  Except for Homeland, I'm all caught up with "my shows" on Hulu.  Casual was a welcome surprise.  I'm looking forward to The GreatA French Village, about a town under Nazi occupation, was riveting.

So what's on Netflix?

I enjoyed the half-drama, half-documentary shows about the Roman Empire and the OttomansMedici is all drama, and I enjoy the show immensely.  Season 3 was recently released and a friend and I are working our way through it, one or two episodes a week.

My son turned me on to Money Heist, as well as an earlier show with a few of the same actors, Elite.  The shows are dubbed from Spanish, but as I read the closed captioning more than I watch the actors' lips, I'm not as bothered by that as some are.  Both were enjoyable, with Money Heist being the better of the two.  Break in to the Spanish "mint", take hostages, and print zillions of euros?  Bella Ciao!

Lost In Space is completely reimagined, and I truly enjoy the occasional homage to the original series that this one offers.  What I do not like, however, is Robot.  Nothing at all like the original campy Robot, and not even created by humans.  Yes, Robot said at least once, "Danger, Will Robinson", so there's that.  I eagerly await the last season, set to drop next year.

Imposters started off well and quickly progressed to what might be the best show on Netflix.  With only 2 seasons, it's an easy weekend binge.  No preview here, as I just told you it might be the best show on Netflix.  Go look it up.  Pine Gap, about a joint US-Australian electronic monitoring facility, was also good and was only 1 season.

I'm not usually into the spy-thriller genre, so I initially watched London Spy just because I wanted to see shots of London--but I stayed for the odd, captivating story.  The final twist was as exceptional as it was twisted.  Another 1-season wonder.

Despite its obvious leftie leanings, I enjoyed Designator Survivor.  The workings of American government can be interesting, if infuriating.

I enjoyed Schitt's Creek, but my favorite Canadian sitcom import is Kim's Convenience--about a Korean-Canadian family in Toronto.  Hilarious, modern, and oh-so-Canadian (that's not always good, by the way, but what would be the fun if they were exactly like Americans).  I so relate to Appa.  OK, see you!

I've watched a few "high school" shows.  Atypical, about a boy with autism, is extremely well done.  American Vandal Season 1, a "true crime satire" which is wholly self-contained, was fantastic; season 2, not so much.  Sex Education, about a boy whose mother is a sex therapist, is hilarious.  Elite, mentioned above, is supposed to be a high school show but the actors are clearly way too old for the parts.  My son also just turned me on to Outer Banks, which as far as I can tell is a show about teenagers who don't wear shirts--but maybe there's something to the story about a 19th century British ship with $400 million in gold on board, sunk just off the coast?  Just started watching it last night.  Can't recommend it yet--if it sounds interesting, leave a comment in a week or so, after which time I'll have finished the season and can let you know what I think.

Turn, about spies during the American Revolution, was not as serious a drama as you might expect.  Still, I enjoyed it--especially the bittersweet ending.  Spoiler:  the Americans won the war!  But that's not the ending I was talking about.

Dead to Me is a dark comedy with Christina Applegate.  You are fed little bits and pieces of the story as you need them to piece it together.  Well done.  Next season is coming later this year.

I've watched a lot more, of course, but this gives you a broad view of what kinds of shows I'm watching and have liked.  Let me know what you've thought of any of these, or if you take any of these recommendations, or if you'd like to make a recommendation--that's what the comments are for!

Monday, May 04, 2020


My summer travel plans have taken a hit:
Vul-Con 2020
​"The Spirit of Spock"
"​You just sit tight..."

We at the Vulcan, Alberta Canada Tourist Center thought Lt. Commander Data words were appropriate for us right now..... "Commander- you just sit tight. We'll have this all fixed in time for"...2021. Sitting tight is what the Vulcan Tourism Department has been doing these past few months with the virus making its way around the world and new developments on what seems a daily basis, we didn't know how this would unfold and effect our programming and events.

But with consultation of the Vulcan and County Tourism Committee we have made the sad and hard decision to cancel the Town of Vulcan's Star Trek Convention: Vul-Con 2020.

Considering all that is going on and with the restrictions that have been put in place as a result of the COVID 19 we have cancelled 2020's event and are now shifting our focus to Vul-Con 2021.

As Captain Picard has said "Every choice we make allows us to manipulate the future." We will make every effort to make our future Vul-Con 2021 an experience you will remember for a lifetime.

Best Regards
Bonnie Ellis
Town of Vulcan
​Community Service Manager
I'm genuinely bummed.

Causes For America's Racial Achievement Gap

A study in this article points out what has been obvious for years:  "The report is authored by Chris Stewart, a liberal activist from Minnesota. He studied why the progressive public schools in Minneapolis’s biggest cities have among the country’s worst achievement gaps between white and black students."  That doesn't surprise me, as 9 years ago I wrote about the same occurrence in Berkeley.

So what causes the achievement gap?  The linked article above posits these potential causes:
* Agency. By blaming racism and discrimination for the woes afflicting minority communities, progressives deprive minority students of agency — the sense that they control their own destinies and that their efforts will make a difference. If minority students see themselves as victims of systemic racism, why bother working hard and “acting white”?

* Discipline. Progressives have implemented “social justice” approaches to school and classroom discipline on the grounds that suspensions and other punishments disproportionately affect minorities. The resulting breakdown in classroom discipline has the perverse effect of disproportionately harming the minority students whose classes are being disrupted.

* Lower standards. As an offshoot of the “self esteem” movement, progressive educators don’t want to damage the self-esteem of minority students. Accordingly, they have lower expectations and set lower standards for minorities to offset the advantages that white students have from “white privilege.”
I wholeheartedly agree. Those are the causes from the "school" side of the equation. There are additional causes on the "home" side of the equation.

A Collection of Thoughts About Coronavirus Shutdowns

This isn't the first epidemic in my lifetime:
In my lifetime, there was another deadly flu epidemic in the United States. The flu spread from Hong Kong to the United States, arriving December 1968 and peaking a year later. It ultimately killed 100,000 people in the U.S., mostly over the age of 65, and one million worldwide.

Lifespan in the US in those days was 70 whereas it is 78 today. Population was 200 million as compared with 328 million today. It was also a healthier population with low obesity. If it would be possible to extrapolate the death data based on population and demographics, we might be looking at a quarter million deaths today from this virus. So in terms of lethality, it was as deadly and scary as COVID-19 if not more so, though we shall have to wait to see.

“In 1968,” says Nathaniel L. Moir in National Interest, “the H3N2 pandemic killed more individuals in the U.S. than the combined total number of American fatalities during both the Vietnam and Korean Wars.”

And this happened in the lifetimes of every American over 52 years of age.

I was 5 years old and have no memory of this at all. My mother vaguely remembers being careful and washing surfaces, and encouraging her mom and dad to be careful. Otherwise, it’s mostly forgotten today. Why is that?

Nothing closed. Schools stayed open. All businesses did too. You could go to the movies. You could go to bars and restaurants. John Fund has a friend who reports having attended a Grateful Dead concert. In fact, people have no memory or awareness that the famous Woodstock concert of August 1969 – planned in January during the worse period of death – actually occurred during a deadly American flu pandemic that only peaked globally six months later. There was no thought given to the virus which, like ours today, was dangerous mainly for a non-concert-going demographic.

Stock markets didn’t crash. Congress passed no legislation. The Federal Reserve did nothing. Not a single governor acted to enforce social distancing, curve flattening (even though hundreds of thousands of people were hospitalized), or banning of crowds. No mothers were arrested for taking their kids to other homes. No surfers were arrested. No daycares were shut even though there were more infant deaths with this virus than the one we are experiencing now. There were no suicides, no unemployment, no drug overdoses.

Media covered the pandemic but it never became a big issue.
Until this article I'd never heard of that epidemic.

Shutdowns are now driven more by politics than science:
In March, Americans started to stay at home in what began as a voluntary movement. Governments issued lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, but Americans understood the threat of the Wuhan Chinese coronavirus from China was significant enough to take drastic measures. Thanks to these measures, America’s health care system was not overwhelmed by the global pandemic, and Americans across the country are demanding an end to the lockdowns.

Embattled Democratic governors are defending extended coronavirus lockdowns by citing the all-important “science"...

This is a tremendous dodge. Lockdowns are a fundamentally political decision. When medical professionals insist that people wash their hands and avoid large gatherings, they provide an important service. When the government tells citizens they cannot leave their homes, go to work, go to church, or get a haircut, however, it is going beyond the bounds of medical science.

Governors justified the lockdowns by focusing on “flattening the curve.” That meant slowing the transmission of the disease to prevent the kind of medical-system collapse experienced in Wuhan and Northern Italy. This goal has arguably been achieved...

Furthermore, a recent study showed that Democratic governors were three times more likely than Republican governors to impose a lockdown. This would make sense, given the Democratic control over many population centers experiencing large outbreaks: New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., for example. However, the study found that “counterintuitively, the percentage of the state’s population infected with COVID-19 had the weakest effect on the governors’ decisions of all the four variables"...

Liberals often use “science” as a talking-point to advocate their agendas, even if those agendas arguably conflict with the best science (see abortion, climate predictions, and transgender activism). It appears the tide of science is turning on coronavirus lockdowns, and Democrats are not adjusting with it. As Republicans suggest plans to slowly reopen America while preserving tight social-distancing measures, Democrats insist that the full lockdowns must continue.

While the lockdowns began as a public health measure, their continued extension appears to have more to do with power than safety.
Maybe the lockdowns were entirely unnecessary:
Professor Michael Levitt, who teaches structural biology at the Stanford School of Medicine, won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for "the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems."

And according to Levitt, coronavirus data show that sweeping lockdown measures were an overreaction that may actually backfire.

Levitt has been analyzing the COVID-19 outbreak from a statistical perspective since January and has been remarkably accurate in his predications. The data show that the outbreak never actually grew exponentially, suggesting harsh lockdown measures, which have drastically impacted the world economy, were probably unnecessary. 
Doubling down on stupid, though, is Gruesome Newsom, governor of the Demokratic People's Republik of Kalifornia:
As unrest continues to mount over stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic, some counties and towns are taking matters into their own hands by bucking their governors' edicts and reopening segments of their economies.

In California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom has faced protests from Huntington Beach to Sacramento over his statewide restrictions on nonessential businesses and outdoor activities, three counties in the northern part of the state are defying the orders and opening up...

Newsom’s shelter-at-home mandate is a statewide order, but it is unclear what actions – if any – the governor will or could take against the counties going rogue.
Newsom seems shocked, shocked, that local government would defy his orders--after he defies Washington so much that the DPRK is a so-called sanctuary state for illegal immigrants.  Live by the Resistance, die by the Resistance, I guess.

Update, 5/5/20:  Stay-at-home orders were supposed to be temporary.  If there was ever a curve to flatten, we've flattened it to a pancake:

Science would tell us not to cling dogmatically to our beliefs, that we should adjust those beliefs when presented with more information.  We have much more information now than we did 7 weeks ago, when I was sent home from work and told to stay home.  We should be acting on that new information, not digging our heels in deeper "because I said so".

Sunday, May 03, 2020

I'm Not the Only One

Almost 2 months ago we thought we were entering a pandemic.  We didn't enter one, but we're still acting as if one is occurring.   Pardon the pun, but that's batcrap insane.

Some people want to wait until it's "safe" before we open up businesses again.  It will never be safe.  Viruses and diseases will always be among us, the world is a dangerous place.  We can't stay in our homes forever--who will work enough to pay the taxes to keep the government employees on the payroll?  Will we just print money to give to everyone?  This is absurd.

Initially, when we thought we were at the beginning of a pandemic, the idea behind stay-at-home orders was to "flatten the curve".  Does anyone remember what that means anymore?  Or are we all just forming up in tribal fashion?  "Flatten the curve" was never meant to eradicate coronavirus, it was intended to spread out the time of infections so that our medical facilities wouldn't be overwhelmed by coronavirus patients.  Whether stay-at-home orders had any impact on that or not, it's occurred.  Yay, victory!  Now let's get back to life.

Healthcare workers are heroes?  Then why do we allow so many of them to lose their livelihoods:
Healthcare workers, championed as heroes of the COVID-19 crisis and applauded for risking their lives to protect others, have been hit especially hard by the severe economic fallout wrought by the pandemic.

In California, thousands of nurses, doctors and other medical staff have been laid off or furloughed or have taken a pay cut since mid-March. The pain has been felt broadly, from major facilities such as Stanford Health Care to tiny rural hospitals to private practitioners. Across the nation, job losses in the healthcare sector have been second only to those in the restaurant industry, according to federal labor statistics.

Hospitals and doctors’ offices lost billions in revenue when they canceled elective surgeries and non-emergent visits to prepare for a possible surge in COVID-19 patients and to reduce the spread of the virus.

Patients also began scheduling fewer appointments and avoiding the hospital, even for medical emergencies, creating another hit for providers who were already hurting. The surge, in places where it did arrive, was not enough to compensate for the losses, experts say.
More in a whisper than in a bang, many people are just starting to ignore the governmental diktats.  More and more they see the silliness and quietly rebel:
State leaders are considering reopening economies and allowing people to leave their homes, but more and more Americans appear to be doing so on their own.

Emerging data suggests that though people dramatically altered their habits around staying at home during the first month of America's response to the pandemic, that cooperation has since leveled off and — eventually — decreased. This could point to long-term challenges for state governments asking citizens to cooperate with extended stay-at-home policies.

The data, provided to NPR by a mobile phone location data company called SafeGraph, is based on the locations of approximately 18 million mobile phones across the country. NPR's analysis determined the percentage of cellphones that did not leave their "home" location daily in every U.S. county.
Gruesome Newsom is generously returning our freedoms to us.  Let us thank Dear Leader!
Here is the list of permissible activities in California:

Badminton (singles)
Throwing a baseball/softball
BMX biking
Canoeing (singles)
Exploring Rock Pools
Gardening (not in groups)
Golf (singles, walking – no cart)
Hiking (trails/ paths allowing distancing)
Horse Riding (singles)
Jogging and running
Kite Boarding and Kitesurfing
Outdoor Photography
Picnics (with your stay-home household members only)
Quad Biking
Rock Climbing
Roller Skating and Roller Blading
Rowing (singles)
Scootering (not in groups)
Skateboarding (not in groups)
Soft Martial Arts – Tai Chi, Chi Kung (not in groups)
Table Tennis (singles)
Throwing a football, kicking a soccer ball (not in groups)
Trail Running
Tree Climbing
Volleyball (singles)
Walk the dog
Wash the car
Watch the sunrise or sunset
How generous that I can now watch a sunrise or sunset. Why is skateboarding allowed but not surfing or paddleboarding?  This list is idiotic, as is our governor.

Some people are choosing to act as if this Seneca quote applies: “Sometimes even to live is an act of courage”--that we're facing an existential crisis, that we must change, that life as we knew it is over.  I choose a different Seneca quote, "You want to live but do you know how to live? You are scared of dying and tell me, is the kind of life you lead really any different from being dead?"  And if you prefer Rousseau:  "I prefer liberty with danger than peace with slavery."

If you want to stay home, stay home.  If you want to go out wearing gloves and a face mask in public, do so.  But don't expect the rest of us to kowtow to your fears.  (Caveat: if you're a member of an at-risk group--like my parents--then take reasonable precautions.)

Friday, May 01, 2020

I Ate An Apple Today

I'll probably get a stomachache later, my body isn't used to health food.