Thursday’s Forum

For the chitting and chatting.

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The United States’ five largest airlines – which are pushing for a $50bn-plus bailout to help them survive the Covid-19 crisis – have handed out more than $45bn to shareholders and executives over the last five years, research by the Guardian has found.
    ………………………………
    According to the Guardian’s data, from public filings made to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Delta spent $13.6bn on share buybacks and dividends between 2015 and 2019. The firm paid out a further $208m to executives between 2014 and 2018, according to data released in proxy statements sent to investors. Pay figures for 2019 should be released ahead of Delta’s 2020 annual meeting.

    Over the same periods, American Airlines spent $12.6bn on dividends and buybacks, as well as $177m on executive pay. United spent $8.4bn on share buybacks, and paid executives $186m. Southwest has not yet released its dividend and buyback data for 2019, but spent $8.7bn between 2014 and 2018, and handed out $97m to executives in this period.

    Alaska, the smallest of the five, spent $1.6bn on buybacks and dividends, in addition to $71m on executive pay.

    Uh huh.

    According to figures provided to the Guardian by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the five biggest airlines have cut more than 10,000 jobs between them in the past five years. Since 2015, Delta has announced 4,325 job cuts, United 3,325, American 2,147, Alaska 170 and Southwest 118, according to the firm.

    The hallowed “job creators”.

    A spokesperson for Airlines for America said operators in the US have invested 73% of their operating cashflow “back into the product” – including investments in new aircraft, facilities, grounding equipment and technologies – while reducing debts by $91bn. They added that airlines have invested “heavily in their employees”, with average pay increasing 41% between 2010 and 2018.

    The spokesperson added that airlines’ coronavirus crisis is “getting worse each day” and that the US industry is currently expecting a “collective burn rate” of $10bn per month.

    I get that this is an “unforeseeable event” (except for all those people who did in fact foresee it) and that companies would be hard pressed to prepare for it (those same people said we needed to prepare for such an event) so whocoodaknowed, and think of all the jobs that will be lost, yadda yadda yadda….

    But I can’t help thinking back to ’08, ’09, and ’10, the last time we had a stock market crash and the construction industry was almost comatose. My union’s pension fund went severely into the red because #1 the stock market collapsed taking half the assets with it and #2 the construction industry was almost comatose and *half* the damned carpenters in the CDC were out of work, which meant they weren’t contributing to the fund. I don’t remember us getting any bailout. I do remember the PBGC sending some threatening letters. I do remember that as one of the fortunate guys who managed to have a job making increased contributions to the fund for several years until our fund was back in the black.

    Yeah I know, apples and oranges and all that, and yet….

    ** probably hyperbolic, I don’t really know what the employment rate was for CDC carpenters, I just know how it felt in my local.

    ETA: I am not looking forward to my next pension status letter.

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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    NYT:

    Grace Fusco — mother of 11, grandmother of 27 — would sit in the same pew at church each Sunday, surrounded by nearly a dozen members of her sprawling Italian-American family. Sunday dinners drew an even larger crowd to her home in central New Jersey.

    Now, her close-knit clan is united anew by unspeakable grief: Mrs. Fusco, 73, died on Wednesday night after contracting the coronavirus — hours after her son died from the virus and five days after her daughter’s death, a relative said.

    Four other children who contracted coronavirus remain hospitalized, three of them in critical condition, the relative, Roseann Paradiso Fodera, said.

    Mrs. Fusco’s eldest child, Rita Fusco-Jackson, 55, of Freehold, N.J., died Friday; after her death, the family learned she had contracted the virus. Her eldest son, Carmine Fusco, of Bath, Pa., died on Wednesday, said Ms. Paradiso Fodera, the family’s lawyer who is Mrs. Fusco’s cousin and is serving as a spokeswoman.

    Mrs. Fusco, of Freehold, died after spending Wednesday “gravely ill” and breathing with help from a ventilator, unaware that her two oldest children had died, Ms. Paradiso Fodera said.

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Last year’s summer was so warm that it helped trigger the loss of 600bn tons of ice from Greenland – enough to raise global sea levels by 2.2mm in just two months, new research has found.

    The analysis of satellite data has revealed the astounding loss of ice in just a few months of abnormally high temperatures around the northern pole. Last year was the hottest on record for the Arctic, with the annual minimum extent of sea ice in the region its second-lowest on record.

    Unlike the retreat of sea ice, the loss of land-based glaciers directly causes the seas to rise, imperiling coastal cities and towns around the world. Scientists have calculated that Greenland’s enormous ice sheet lost an average of 268bn tons of ice between 2002 and 2019 – less than half of what was shed last summer.

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  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Foreign Policy
    @ForeignPolicy

    Canada has spent the past two decades preparing for this moment, @Justin_Ling
    writes.
    Canada Shows How Easy Virus Testing Can Be
    Canadians’ well-funded system and careful planning has contained the coronavirus for now.
    foreignpolicy.com

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  5. MarkedMan says:

    I just glanced at the Fox News home page. What a propaganda outlet. Pravda for Republicans. There is a lead article that stitched together out of context quotes to make it appear that Democratic leaders are praising Trump’s Coronavirus leadership. You don’t have to be stupid to be a Fox News watcher. But it helps.

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  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I got more bad covid-19 news yesterday. My wife’s company? The one I thought would never lay her off?

    Yeah, they want her to work from home.

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  7. Bill says:

    My wife works for the Diocese of Palm Beach. The Diocese announced yesterday there won’t be holding mass for the public starting tomorrow.

    Coronavirus in Florida: Diocese of Palm Beach to suspend public gatherings for Mass

    Will the wife continue working*? We don’t know yet.

    *- Dear wife’s office consists of her, a part-time bookkeeper, and the parish’s only full-time priest.

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  8. sam says:

    Buzz Aldrin has some advice for Americans in quarantine

    “Buzz, what are you doing to protect yourself from the coronavirus?”

    “Lying on my ass and locking the door,” he replied, without hesitating.

    Buzz is 90.

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  9. Sleeping Dog says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    The justly ridiculed National Conservative movement maybe useful as legislation to prop up the economy develops. Typically the inside the beltway Rethugs simply kowtow to the wealthy and big business. But this morning NC types like Josh Hawley are sounding Warren-like and insisting that any aid to big business come with strings attached, including not laying employees off, bans on executive bonuses and bans on stock buybacks till any government loans be repaid. It will be interesting to see if the NC’s stay committed to this plan and more interesting to see if the big businesses take the loans under these conditions.

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  10. sam says:
  11. CSK says:

    This is good:
    http://www.thebulwark.com/the-coronavirus-according-to-donald-trump/

    It’s updated to March 17.

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  12. DrDaveT says:

    Continuing the discussion of what makes things fantasy or science fiction, here are some examples of books and stories that I feel fall in the various sectors of the taxonomy I’ve defined. With any luck, this will help to make clear the distinction(s) I am trying to make. As a reminder: I assert that “science fiction” and “fantasy” are not mutually exclusive, any more than “science fiction” and “mystery” are, and that what people are really talking about when they complain that something “isn’t really science fiction” is that it isn’t extrapolative — it doesn’t start with a fact or premise and explore the consequences it could lead to. Also, fiction that is evocative , focused on human experiences, tends to get filed as fantasy, for historical reasons.

    So here are examples of things are that some combination of science fiction and/or fantasy, and some combination of extrapolative and/or evocative:

    1. Science Fiction
    a) Primarily extrapolative:
    Hal Clement, Mission of Gravity
    Isaac Asimov, “Nightfall”
    Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, The Mote in God’s Eye
    Greg Egan, “Axiomatic” (and most other stories)

    b) Primarily evocative:
    Ray Bradbury, “Kaleidoscope” (and most everything else he ever wrote with rockets in it)
    Robert A. Heinlein, “The Long Watch”
    M. John Harrison, Viriconium
    Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Slapstick
    Algis Budrys, Rogue Moon
    Much of Clifford Simak’s work

    c) Both extrapolative and evocative:
    Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness
    Alfred Bester, The Demolished Man
    Samuel R. Delany, Babel-17
    Jack Vance, “The Moon Moth”

    2. Fantasy
    a) Primarily extrapolative:
    Lyndon Hardy, Master of the Five Magics
    Randall Garrett, Lord Darcy stories
    Roger Zelazny, Chronicles of Amber
    R.A. Lafferty, “Narrow Valley”
    Ted Chiang, “72 Letters” and “Hell is the Absence of God”

    b) Primarily evocative:
    John Bellairs, The Face in the Frost
    G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday
    Hope Mirrlees, Lud-in-the-Mist
    H.P. Lovecraft, pretty much everything

    c) Both extrapolative and evocative:
    J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
    Avram Davidson, The Phoenix and the Mirror (and other Vergil stories)
    Barry Hughart, Bridge of Birds
    Lois M. Bujold, Five Gods novels
    Richard Adams, Watership Down

    3. Both Science Fiction and Fantasy
    a) Primarily extrapolative:
    Frank Herbert, Dune
    Theodore Sturgeon, “Microcosmic God”
    Neal Stephenson, Anathem

    b) Primarily evocative:
    Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Liaden Universe novels and stories
    Zenna Henderson, stories of The People
    Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

    c) Both extrapolative and evocative:
    Matt Ruff, Sewer, Gas, and Electric
    Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency
    Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven
    Tim Powers, The Anubis Gates

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  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    CNBC
    @CNBC

    Jim Cramer says Boeing ‘will run out of money’ if it is not ‘saved’

    Julia Ioffe
    @juliaioffe

    That thing where you believe in free markets—until you have to actually live by its rules.

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  14. DrDaveT says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    That thing where you believe in free markets—until you have to actually live by its rules.

    This.

    The entire premise of capitalism is that the providers of capital deserve the lion’s share of the profits because they are the ones taking risks. If the government removes the risk, it also removes the rationale for ownership getting to decide how profits will be distributed. This is explicit in (say) regulated public utilities. If the government is going to bail out big business any time they screw up fatally, then those businesses have in essence become public utilities, and should be treated as such.

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  15. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Tulsi has dropped out.

    No more nefarious plans… no more Hawaiian Sting rays with fricken lazer beams on their heads. No more comic relief.

    I am disappoint.

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  16. Kylopod says:

    @DrDaveT:

    and that what people are really talking about when they complain that something “isn’t really science fiction” is that it isn’t extrapolative — it doesn’t start with a fact or premise and explore the consequences it could lead to.

    I think you are ignoring the element of intellectual snobbery that goes into most attempts to draw a boundary around sci-fi. Sci-fi purists who refer to certain sci-fi works as “fantasy” are using that label pejoratively, implying that sci-fi has both more intellectual rigor and better storytelling than fantasy (which is ironic given that scientific rigor has got absolutely zip to do with good storytelling). Authors who have worked in both genres have generally attested that fantasy is no easier to write (at least to write well)–it isn’t some anything-goes free-for-all where anything can happen because everyone’s got magical powers to wish their way out of any situation. Good fantasy creates a set of rules and sticks by them throughout a particular story; it isn’t just a deus ex machina.

    And really, in that way sci-fi is no different. Whatever you think of the scientific plausibility of, say, Alcubierre drives, time dilation, generation ships, or whatever other devices a particular sf story resorts to, it’s still got to remain consistent within the work itself. The science doesn’t govern how coherently or arbitrarily a story lays down the rules.

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  17. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Tulsi will look back on the past year and realize that she has blown, what could have been, a promising political future. She wasn’t going to be nominated president and even VP was unlikely, but found enthusiastic support, that while small, was expandable. But she kept going off on weird tangents and picking fights that only made her appear to be a Dem Sarah Palin. Now she’ll likely lose her House seat. Tulsi’s future in politics, a modern day Lyndon LaRouche .

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  18. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Trump is on again, doing a news conference.

    He just cant get out of the way of his ego.

    Me, Me, Me… previous administrations have NEVER… Cut red tape like NEVER before… I made Congress…

    “FDA has allowed Compassionate means… You know what THAT means”

    NO…. NO WE DON’T !!! Did you just allude to the fact that euthanasia is being allowed?

    Can someone put a shock collar on this guy so he sticks to the script!!???!!!

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  19. @Liberal Capitalist: He sounds like a student who was not adequately prepared for his in class presentation.

    And the self-centered nature of it all is insane.

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  20. gVOR08 says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: Yeah, he’s on behind me. How do his supporters get around that he just babbles?

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  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08: As the Lord’s anointed one, they just think he’s speaking in tongues.

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  22. gVOR08 says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: That story about Gabbard dropping out reminded me that I’m hearing nothing about Greens and Libertarians. I assume they’re fielding candidates this year. In ‘16 they sucked off a lot of votes. Always hard to say who they took votes from. But I suspect they’ll play a small role this year and pull more votes from Trump than from Biden.

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  23. DrDaveT says:

    @Kylopod:

    I think you are ignoring the element of intellectual snobbery that goes into most attempts to draw a boundary around sci-fi.

    Not so much ignoring as deliberately poking fun at, and pointing out the internal inconsistencies in. The plain truth is that if you ask such a snob for a list of their favorite SF works, it will invariably include works that contain key plot elements that are every bit as arbitrary, handwavy, and/or unscientific as any Extruded Fantasy Product you care to point at.

    Sci-fi purists who refer to certain sci-fi works as “fantasy” are using that label pejoratively

    I’m aware of that. The original essay that preceded the examples above (which I have not reproduced here) was aimed at explaining away those prejudices as actually being about preferences on the extrapolative and evocative scales, not on the realistic/fantastic and rigorous/sloppy scales.

    I think there’s a good analogy with Stephen Colbert’s notion of “truthiness”. SF fans who think they want scientific rigor almost always actually want a feel of scientific rigor — writing that takes it for granted that rigor matters. The science can be total crap, so long as it feels like science.

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  24. JohnMcC says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: That’s terrific! You could say he puts the gloss in glossolalia.

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  25. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Tulsi’s future in politics, a modern day Lyndon LaRouche .

    LaRouche 2020!

    “Those old white candidates are just waiting to die… Our guy already succeeded!”

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  26. Kathy says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    One shock collar isn’t enough. You need at least two. One goes below the waist, and gets activated first.

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  27. sam says:

    A charming piece of history: The Delicious Mutant that Set Off A Seedless Gold Rush:

    Fenced off and wrapped in mesh, a single orange tree sits at a busy intersection in Riverside, California. In a region famous for its citrus industry, you wouldn’t think much of this tiny grove flanked by strip malls. But if you enter the 7-11 across the street—or any supermarket in the country—and buy yourself a navel orange, you’ll likely be eating a descendant of this very tree.

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  28. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Kathy:

    InCREDIBLE shock collars… built beautifully. No one has EVER see those type of collars before… I spoke with shock collar manufacturers and they were AMAZED that I knew so much about shock collars. We will be manufacturing 100’s of millions, if people want them… Any American can get one if they want one.

    .

    shoot me now.

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  29. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Fark… One America Network “journalist” got up and said:

    Rion asked, “Do you consider the term Chinese food racist because its food that originates in China?”

    “No,” the president answered before she finished the question. “I don’t think it’s racist at all.”

    “On that note, major left-wing news media, even in this room, have teamed up with Chinese Communist Party narratives and they are claiming that you are racist for making these claims about Chinese virus,” she followed up. “Is it alarming that major media players, just to oppose you, are consistently siding with a foreign state propaganda, Islamic radical, Latin gangs and cartels and they work right here at the White House.”

    (source)

    So, the RIGHT answer would have been something that John McCain might have said.

    But, after thrown this raw meat, the beaming president said:

    “It amazes me when I read the things that I read,” Trump responded. “It amazes me when I read the Wall Street Journal, which is always so negative. It amazes me when I read the New York Times, I barely read it. We don’t distribute it in the White House anymore. Same thing with the Washington Post. Because, you see, I know the truth.”

    This after making a “joke” a bit earlier about social distancing and how most of the journalists could be removed from the room and it would make him happier.

    This is a guy that can pull the country together, eh?

    …putz.

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  30. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @sam: Meh… Sharks gotta swim, bats gotta fly, grifters gotta grift.

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  31. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Do they even make them that small?

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  32. Kathy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Oh, sure. We have the technology to make them down to microscopic size.

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  33. MarkedMan says:

    If there is anyone left that doesn’t believe the modern Republican Party is a morally corrupt cesspool, how about this: the Republican Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee was briefed a month ago on the coming impact of the virus and immediately:

    A) Took it seriously and raised the alarm and did everything in his power to bring the nation to readiness

    Or

    B) Called a meeting of wealthy campaign donors and tipped them off, thereby demonstrating good value for their money, and then stayed silent lest Donny Boy call him out in public

    You know in your heart it’s not even a question

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  34. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: Well. we don’t, but the South Koreans have the technology.

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  35. DrDaveT says:

    @JohnMcC:

    You could say he puts the gloss in glossolalia.

    I’d have said that he puts the “la la la” (with fingers in ears) in glossolalia.

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  36. MarkedMan says:

    @Kylopod:

    Sci-fi purists who refer to certain sci-fi works as “fantasy” are using that label pejoratively, implying that sci-fi has both more intellectual rigor and better storytelling than fantasy

    You are no doubt right, but it’s a general rule that people who like one genre of anything tend to belittle other genres. As for myself, I definitely divide things up but only for the reasons outlined in another thread. I enjoy both science fiction and fantasy and I don’t think one is better than the other. I think both “The Sparrow” and “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell” are both incredible works of fiction. I think (mental lists of hundreds of science fiction and hundreds of fantasy books I’ve read anywhere from a paragraph to a half a book) are all crap.

    But even my opinion of crap is relative. I think Dan Brown’s novels are execrable, but also a good read in a weird way. And only if I don’t know anything about the subject at hand. For instance, his technical details about computers and physics and so forth are horribly, laughably ridiculous and pull me right out of the story. One step away from “He know he needed more computing power so he desperately wrenched the top of the 2.7GHz CPU open with a crowbar and shoveled handfuls of 8133 ram chips into the red hot maw of the core.”

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  37. DrDaveT says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I think both “The Sparrow” and “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell” are both incredible works of fiction.

    The Sparrow (which I loved) is a great example of a novel that really wanted to be hard SF, but didn’t quite succeed. And yet it’s a fantastic novel anyway, because the things that make it powerful don’t depend on getting the details of interstellar travel or population genetics right — even though those things are important to the plot.

    As for Dan Brown… I threw The Da Vinci Code against the wall so many times while reading it that I lost count. I had no idea prose could be that bad unintentionally.

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  38. Archway says:

    My wife and I will now both be working from home for the foreseeable, and our two daughters’ school is shut, so we’ve got to moonlight as their teachers around our day jobs. This is going to be tough… Hope we all still like each other at the end of it!

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  39. Jen says:

    Oh for the love of Pete…this is insane. Trump fired the acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center last night. In the midst of a pandemic, what we REALLY need to be doing is firing (checks notes) qualified, 40-year career officials who know what they are doing.

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  40. CSK says:

    @DrDaveT:
    The Da Vinci Code was typical Dan Brown: 438 characters, all of whom were indistinguishable from each other; turgid exposition; banal dialogue; ludicrously convoluted plot. When I finished reading it, I said: “What the hell was that about?”

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  41. Stormy Dragon says:

    For those complaining about Dan Brown, I’d like to recommend Foccault’s Pendulum by Umberto Ecco, which is basically the Davinci Code written by someone who actually knows what they’re talking about.

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  42. Stormy Dragon says:

    In the news:

    It looks like Netanyahu is using Coronavirus as an excuse to stage a coup in Israel, having shutdown both the Judiciary and Legislature and ruling by fiat

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  43. DrDaveT says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    For those complaining about Dan Brown, I’d like to recommend Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco

    I read Foucault’s Pendulum long before I read The da Vinci Code. Fantastic novel for a long time, but I wasn’t crazy about the ending. But yes, Eco (as mediated by his genius translator, William Weaver) is awesome.

    Weaver is also the translator for English editions of Italo Calvino works.

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  44. mattbernius says:
  45. Tyrell says:

    Commissioner Silver of the NBA is looking to resume the season and is looking at various options.
    I finally got two packages of paper towels today. There was a long line to get into the store. They are going to reduce shopping hours until they get their shelves re-stocked, which takes a lot longer when the aisles are clogged with shoppers. They said things will be better in a week. If people will buy only what they need.
    I am spending my time reading, riding a bike, and wandering the woods around here, which seem to be very large but in reality aren’t. I find a new path to explore every day.

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  46. senyordave says:

    @mattbernius: A new low. This guy should be drawn and quartered. And to think that some people consider Burr one of the “reasonable Republicans”. A crook and a traitor.

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  47. Kathy says:

    The coronavirus response in Mexico proceeds slowly.

    Officially there are about 120 cases and 1 death. Schools will close after tomorrow and until April 20th. Not much else. Fliers and posters with safety information are popping up all over the place. At my workplace they intend to check everyone’s temperature on arrival, and anyone showing above 37.2 C won’t be allowed in to work (completely unrelated, does anyone know how to fool a thermometer?).

    Traffic is way down, I’m told airplanes are flying half empty, but just about everything remains open everywhere. A few states are taking additional measures.

    On the plus side, I haven’t heard of any shortages except of hand sanitizer and surgical masks. And supermarket shelves are normal, with plenty of toilet paper available for purchase.

    I fear a few weeks from now we’ll be on lock down amid full-blown panic. The numbers are just too low to take seriously.

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  48. Tyrell says:

    @Kathy: The traffic around here is lighter, but that is mainly because schools are closed, so no buses, school staff driving to work, and high school students driving to school. Other than that, work traffic seems the same.
    I have not had a fever since I was a teen. My main problems are occasional gout, and motion sickness when spinning around, being upside down, or riding in the back seat.
    The schools are required to have parental permission to check a student’s temperature.

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  49. Mister Bluster says:

    @Tyrell:..and motion sickness when spinning around, being upside down,..

    Well, they aren’t looking for trapeze artists at Cirque du Soleil after today anyway…
    In the Time it Takes to Boil Instant Rice, Cirque du Soleil’s CEO Fired Thousands of Employees via Bizarre Video

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  50. DrDaveT says:

    @Kathy:

    At my workplace they intend to check everyone’s temperature on arrival, and anyone showing above 37.2 C won’t be allowed in to work.

    Unfortunately, according to the expert on the TV today* the sequence of symptoms for SARS-CoV-2 is congestion, slowly increasing cough and achiness, shortness of breath, then fever. So by the time you’re showing the fever, you’ve been contagious for a while.

    *No idea how expert, no idea how accurate.

    (completely unrelated, does anyone know how to fool a thermometer?)

    Tylenol (acetominophin) or Advil (ibuprofen).

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  51. Mister Bluster says:

    @Tyrell:..schools are closed,..schools are required to have parental permission to check a student’s temperature.

    You’re not standing on your head are you?

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  52. mattbernius says:
  53. Teve says:

    @DrDaveT: One of the reasons I’m learning Italian is to read Italo Calvino.

    And if you want to talk about bad endings, the name of the rose…It’s worth me flying to Italy to punch Umberto Eco in the face. I’d risk the virus.

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  54. Teve says:

    @CSK: I read the da Vinci code, and while it was terrible, I have to give Dan Brown one credit, he has mastered the technique of ending a chapter on a cliffhanger so that you have to read the next chapter.

    I knew a literature professor who gave one class on why the Bridges of Madison County is utter trash but also compelling. There’s a good essay out there that I read several years ago about just like the first page or the first paragraph of the da Vinci code, and all of the various writing errors found therein.

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  55. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tyrell:

    I find a new path to explore every day.

    My kind of place.

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  56. An Interested Party says:

    Bernie’s a little upset

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  57. Kathy says:

    @DrDaveT:

    I know about the symptoms, but you know how people have to do something even if it’s useless.

    Tylenol (acetominophin) or Advil (ibuprofen).

    I meant in the other direction.

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  58. grumpy realist says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I might use this hiatus as an opportunity to work on my take on the Da Vinci Code, which was basically to dump as many conspiracies into one plot as I could. It’s got the Russian mafia, tax laundering, the occult, strange paintings from the Renaissance, a hurricane, swapped identities, and hedge funds. Oh, and a very cute dog.

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  59. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    NBC News has an article up about the Senate Republican plan for monetary relief related to Covid. Unfortunately, the devil is in the details (as usual for GOP proposals).

    The checks, however, reduce to $600 (or $1,200 for married couples) for taxpayers who have little or no income tax liability but have at least $2,500 in qualifying income, according to a GOP summary of their plan.

    So, (and PLEASE feel free to correct me if I’m having translation/reading comprehension issues 🙂 ) if I’m reading this correctly, the segment of the population most likely to be negatively impacted by employment issues related to Covid–i.e. low income workers with children–will also qualify for relief at a lower level than double income/no kids couples scraping by on a mere $140k/year. (Yeah, I know. The excuse is that we don’t want kids w/part-time jobs ripping off the gubmint. 🙁 ) Link

    @Kathy: “(completely unrelated, does anyone know how to fool a thermometer?)”
    You’re asking for a friend, right?

    ReplyReply
  60. grumpy realist says:

    @Teve: You’d have to dig up his grave, then. He died back in 2016.

    ReplyReply
  61. inhumans99 says:

    Has it been mentioned that all of CA has been issued a shelter in place order? As a reporter on CNN put it that is basically 1 in 8 citizens of the United States on lockdown…wow. I, and several others on this great site live in CA and I have to say it is a bit odd that I now represent a significant percentage (if folks understand the point I am trying to make as I understand that by myself I do not comprise a massive percentage of folks w/shelter in place orders) of Americans on lockdown…just surreal.

    We will probably not be the only state to go into full lockdown mode because as the saying goes what happens in CA tends to set an example for the rest of the country.

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  62. DrDaveT says:

    @Kathy:

    I meant in the other direction.

    Ah; you wish to seem like you have a fever when you don’t?

    It depends on how the measurement is being taken. For an oral thermometer, drink hot liquids just prior. For armpit or ear, snuggle up under blankets until you are sweaty, or exercise strenuously. For IR skin readings, stand in the sun or a sauna, etc.

    ReplyReply
  63. Kari Q says:

    @inhumans99:

    I’m in California and my sister lives in Tennessee. She called me to find out what I can and cannot do under shelter in place rules. She will be getting her hair done this weekend, just in case.

    ReplyReply
  64. de stijl says:

    @MarkedMan: , et al

    I like a good story, well told. Believable world building and emotionally true.

    ReplyReply

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