Thursday’s Forum

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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. Bill says:

    I got home last night an around 7:30 am doing well. Slept through from about 9:30 till five this morning. I am going to be all right.

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  2. Kari Q says:

    Vanderbilt University has cancelled this year’s graduation ceremony, originally scheduled for early May. My sister is graduating and I was going to go see it, before all this happened. It’s not the biggest thing going on, but how disappointing for all the students who worked to get their degrees, and the high school seniors missing out on the last hurrah of high school.

    @Bill:

    That’s great news. I’m glad to hear it.

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  3. MarkedMan says:

    NPR had a piece on the various ways the governors of the Deep South are reacting and it featured the Mississippi Governor replying to text messages. The message, “A lockdown worked for China, why won’t it work for Mississippi?”, provoked an indignant and self righteous response: “First of all, Mississippi will NEVER BE China.” It is the response of a twelve year old – “No one tells us what to do, especially that skank with the cooties, so we are BY GOD going to do exactly the opposite.” For a couple of centuries now that is the type of people Mississippians have elected and, man, have they paid the price.

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  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Somebody else noted, Mississippi: Hold my beer…

    Gov. Tate Reeves signed an executive order early this evening superseding a patchwork of local bans on public gatherings in Mississippi and other heightened restrictions that several municipalities across the state have ordered or considered in the wake of COVID-19’s spread inside Mississippi. The state reached 320 official cases today, up 300 percent since 80 known cases on Friday.

    The order seems to declare that most types of businesses in Mississippi are “essential” and thus exempt from social-distancing requirements suggested in the order. “The uninterrupted delivery of essential services and functions is vital to infrastructure viability, critical to maintain continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security, and is crucial to community resilience, continuity of essential functions and to promote the security and safety of Mississippi residents even as the nation limits human interaction and engages in social distancing,” the order stated.

    Notably, Reeves’ executive order supersedes any orders by local mayors or other governing body in Mississippi that conflict with the businesses and organizations he deems exempt as “essential” businesses.

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  5. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: The people who call themselves “conservative” today contain a disproportionate number who simply cannot reason or act… conservatively. Instead, they read some tweet while perched on their toilet, get some idea in their head, declare that anyone who doesn’t hold the same idea is a f’ricking moron, and run out into traffic, hauling up their trousers, in order to act on their idea.

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  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    TV networks cut away from the White House coronavirus briefing as Trump contradicted his health experts

    CNN, MSNBC, ABC News, NBC News, and CBS News cut away from President Trump’s lengthy coronavirus briefing on Monday night.

    On Monday night, most of the major television networks, except for Fox News, cut away from President Donald Trump’s daily coronavirus briefing. The next day, KUOW, a Seattle-area NPR station, announced it would no longer broadcast the events live.

    Though the briefings often feature a rotating cast of Trump administration health experts, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Surgeon General Jerome Adams, they have also allowed Trump to make inaccurate declarations about the administration’s response and undercut the dire warnings of these professionals that Americans need to stay home to stop the virus from spreading.

    As Trump has contradicted experts, provided inaccurate medical information, and engaged in lengthy diatribes against journalists, his critics have questioned how much networks should broadcast them — and whether relaying his words directly is a public benefit.

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  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Doctors And Nurses Say More People Are Dying Of COVID-19 In The US Than We Know

    Medical professionals around the US told BuzzFeed News that the official numbers of people who have died of COVID-19 are not consistent with the number of deaths they’re seeing on the front lines. In some cases, it’s a lag in reporting, caused by delays and possible breakdowns in logging positive tests and making them public. In other, more troubling, cases, medical experts told BuzzFeed News they think it’s because people are not being tested before or after they die.

    In the US, state and county authorities are responsible for collecting data on cases of COVID-19 and deaths. The data is then reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    In California, one ER doctor who works at multiple hospitals in a hard-hit county told BuzzFeed News, “those medical records aren’t being audited by anyone at the state and local level currently and some people aren’t even testing those people who are dead. We just don’t know. The numbers are grossly under-reported. I know for a fact that we’ve had three deaths in one county where only one is listed on the website,” the doctor said.
    ………………………….
    And two of the hardest-hit areas in the nation — New York City and Los Angeles County — released guidance earlier this week encouraging doctors not to test patients unless they think the test will significantly change their course of treatment. That means that potentially more people in both places could be admitted to hospitals with severe respiratory symptoms and recover — or die — and not be registered as a coronavirus case.

    You knew it was because of a lack of tests, didn’t you? If only somebody in govt could do something about that.

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  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: I don’t call them conservatives anymore. I call them Republicans because calling them morons would be an insult to actual morons.

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  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Sahil Kapur
    @sahilkapur
    ·
    14h
    The Trump campaign just released a cease and desist letter demanding that TV stations immediately pull this ad. https://assets.donaldjtrump.com/2017/web/hero_images/Redacted_PUSA_Letter.pdf

    Priorities USA
    @prioritiesUSA
    · Mar 23
    Trump refused to take the threat of the coronavirus seriously, now he won’t take responsibility as his administration has been totally unprepared for this crisis.

    Suck on it trump, politics ain’t beanbag and all the lawyers in the world can’t get you out of this dogfight, ya f**king p*ssy.

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  10. Bill says:

    Will the shutting down of non-essential businesses mean the church office where my wife works have to close?

    I said this to my wife this morning. Her office should be considered essential because it provides food that can be picked up. For over a decade, our church has what is called the The Sandwich Ministry. It supplies food to the homeless or poor*. The bread and coldcuts/cheese are donated by parishioners.

    Leonita started this ministry with the support of our pastor at the time.

    *- The people coming to get this food has gone up over the last week or two.

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  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Parson requests federal disaster declaration

    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Gov. Mike Parson has requested a federal disaster declaration in Missouri to help with the coronavirus pandemic.
    ………………………..
    “The COVID-19 pandemic has already had a devastating effect on the state of Missouri, straining hospitals, health care facilities and nursing homes, businesses large and small, schools, and tens of thousands of Missourians who have been forced out of their jobs,” Parson said. “Although it is continuing to develop, it’s already clear the COVID-19 pandemic will have a more sweeping impact on the entire state of Missouri than any other previous disaster that has affected our citizens. There is an urgent need for federal assistance to help Missouri families meet today’s challenges and the many more we will face.”
    ……………………..

    Immediately after my administration requested that President @realDonaldTrump approve a major disaster declaration for the entire state of Missouri our state congressional delegation, in bipartisan fashion, sent a letter to the President in support of our request. pic.twitter.com/2kiMAC0MKd

    — Governor Mike Parson (@GovParsonMO) March 25, 2020

    What a bunch of pussies RINOs.

    The truth is for a Republican, Parson has turned out to be surprisingly persuadable by reality. A big improvement over our previous governor future presidential candidate.

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  12. mattbernius says:

    @Bill:
    At least locally, provided they can safely operate, charities that are providing food are still considered essential. Also, your wife is quite literally doing the Lords work!

    BTW, welcome home! That was a bit of good news this week!

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  13. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    We all know that Trump has declared himself a War Time President.
    Yet he refuses to utilize the full power of the War Powers Act to fight this pandemic.
    This while Governors and Health Officials are begging him to do so.
    Question to the sycophants lurking about; is Trump a coward, or incompetent?

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  14. inhumans99 says:

    I find it interesting that Southern Red State Politicians are starting to clash with each other regarding the virus as it starts to ravage their states, because it shows that some Southern Politicians understand it is not a good look for the GOP as a whole to let their states be ravaged by the virus while some politicians still have President Trumps very rose colored glasses view that this will burn out by Easter so folks should get back to normal starting now…glad to see some Governors in the South think that is delusional thinking.

    To quote a great line from the very fun to watch film Dante’s Peak….the mountain is just clearing its throat before the big show (truly a great line and the “mountain” being of course Coronavirus). Dr. Fauci basically confirmed this fact on CNN yesterday. He feels we should be worried well into the Fall and preparing for another wave so we (we really being some of the occupants in the Senate and White House) do not botch things the second time around.

    It is very dismaying that President Trump is almost the literal definition of someone who is fiddling while Rome burns.

    This will have ramifications for the GOP that may not be visible for quite some time, but the disastrous White House response to the Coronavirus will eventually catch up to them. When it does I do not want to be standing anywhere near the GOP when political fortune stops smiling on them.

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  15. Neil Hudelson says:

    In the coming weeks, you’re gonna see a lot of pop-up organizations doing work similar to what @Bill’s wife is doing. Even with social distancing, there’s likely many ways you can help people obtain basic necessities–from donating money, to preparing box meals in your home for later pick-up by volunteers, to canvassing neighborhoods with flyers. My neighbor is immunocompromised, and even he is finding a way to help a local org–he moved his chest freezer from his basement to his front porch, and a food bank down the block is using it to hold excess prepared meals.

    Be creative, do what you can, and stay safe.

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  16. Kathy says:

    If the taxpayer is going to bail out corporations, and their very rich investors, when their stock loses value, then shouldn’t corporations and their very rich investors be taxed at a higher rate than they are?

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  17. Scott says:

    @Kathy: Indeed. 1% owns 40% of the wealth in this country. What are they being asked to contribute to this crisis? Nothing that I can see. Seems to me that all these heroic Job Creators are Job Destroyers.

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  18. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    On Monday night, most of the major television networks, except for Fox News, cut away from President Donald Trump’s daily coronavirus briefing. The next day, KUOW, a Seattle-area NPR station, announced it would no longer broadcast the events live.

    Baghdad Bob Trump.

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  19. @Bill: Awesome! So glad to hear it!

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  20. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Kathy:

    Heard one way suggest that a corporations bailout be limited to what they pay in taxes.

    @Bill:

    Great news Bill, enjoy good health.

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  21. MarkedMan says:

    It’s a common joke that modern conservatism consists of being against everything liberals are for, updated daily. But it’s actually no joke, and we see the consequences in the Mississippi governor described above or the truly execrable column I just read by one Peter Van Buren at The American Conservative, “Wake Up! Your Fears Are Being Manipulated” in which he “explains” that the virus is no worse than the common cold and that liberal wussies are nutting America’s economy.

    The Republicans and self described conservatives have been shown to be a gang of fat old naked emperors, their entire world view disastrous. Aside from a paltry few, they are not reexamining a single one of their basic assumptions but have immediately pivoted to angrily denouncing whatever the libtards are for. And what are those libtards for? Planning, building hospitals, testing, trying to map out what the likely scenarios are and developing plans for them, trying to blunt the peak of the disease so we don’t end up with thousands with blood filled lungs dying alone in their homes for want of a ventilator. And the so called conservatives? BY GOD, we want none of that!

    (Note to Michael: Are you still waiting around for G to realize the error of trusting Trump?)

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  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Because that would be socialism!

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  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: Speaking of G, I haven’t seen him in the AMs. Is he around in the PMs?

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  24. Neil Hudelson says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I believe he was banned after one too many “lulz you libs need to break out your tin foil hats” drive-by comments.

    He was warned, nevertheless he persisted.

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  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Thanx, I am a little relieved, I guess that’s the word, at his not succumbing to karmic justice just yet.

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  26. Kathy says:

    Let’s talk about airlines.

    Currently the popular business model for most airlines, especially in the US, is the à la carte model. This is, perhaps surprisingly, a restaurant business term, meaning more or less “off the menu.” As opposed to prix fixe, meaning “fixed price.”

    Some restaurants offer a package meal which includes an appetizer, soup, salad, entree, side dish, a drink, and a dessert, for a fixed price. Often with options, say perhaps two different entrees to choose from. This is very much like the value meals at fast food restaurants. Most offer a lengthy menu of different courses, from which the customer can order what they like. Some offer both.

    Airlines used to be prix fixe. The fare included a seat, transportation(duh), a carry-on, a personal item, two checked bags, and a meal or snack (depending on the length of the flight). The only extras where earphones, when available, and alcohol.

    Low cost and ultra-low cost airlines began the à la carte trend. First with checked bags and buy on board food, then with other things. The idea was for the customer to pay only for that they wanted or needed, and not to pay for things they don’t want or need. Later the full service airlines adopted this model as well.

    But it has been expanding. until fairly recently, for example, all coach seats were freely available on a first-come, first-served basis. This included extra legroom seats in the exit rows and bulkheads. Then came charges for extra legroom seats (to be fair, other rows with more legroom were added). Now airlines are charging extra for regular legroom coach seats, which happen to be further forward.

    There are also change fees, cancellation fees, fuel surcharges(*), buy on board options, on-air WiFi (though this last is an additional service, for which extra charges seem ok, and there are ways around it). The ultra-low cost airlines go much further. Some charge a fee for credit card payments, for printing a boarding pass at the check-in counter, for carry-on items.

    The outliers are Jet Blue, to some extent (free WiFi) and Southwest. The latter charges no bag fees, no change fees, and has no assigned seats (but you can pay to board early, and thus secure a better seat).

    Airlines claim this is good for the customers, as they pay only for what they want. And fees and all, fares have gone down overall.

    What they don’t say is they pay income taxes at a lower rate for fees than for fares. This is why Spirit, for example, can offer very low fares. Ryanair’s CEO has speculated of a future where fares are free. We may not get there, but ultra-low cost airlines can make money off a $10 one-way fare if the passenger checks a bag, brings a carry-on, wants a good seat, and orders a snack.

    In fact, it’s the prevalence of fees as well as lower fuel costs, which have enabled airlines to turn out bigger profits these past few years.

    So maybe if they had set aside cash reserves rather than buying back their own stock, they wouldn’t need a bailout. BTW, buying back stocks serves mostly to pump up the stock value, which rewards the richest investors, as well as such airline executives who receive part of their compensation in shares and options.

    (*) Fuel surcharges began when oil prices were sky high. They made sense then. To keep charging them when oil came down to around $50 per barrel was unconscionable. some airlines receive more than they pay for fuel for a given flight in ful surcharges alone. to keep charging them now with oil at record lows, is robbery plain and simple.

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  27. Kathy says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    I suppose that would have a better chance. Though since the bill passed the Senate and will likely be law soon, this is all academic.

    Still, here’s another idea: the government will match, in the form of a loan, any amount a corporation can raise from its existing shareholders.

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  28. Sleeping Dog says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Reeves should take a look at a map. Mississippi’s neighbor to the west is on track to be the largest Covid-19 epicenter (by population). It would be a reasonable assumption that more than a smattering of Mississippians crossed the border to partake in Mardi Gras.

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  29. Gustopher says:

    We’re going to be bailing out health insurance companies before long, aren’t we?

    A pandemic totally screws with their models, as much larger numbers of people get sick all at once, and very sick. They have reinsurance, but again, the models aren’t built for that — that’s more so if they get the most expensive patient in the state, they will be fine.

    The only limiting factor on cost here is going to be the supply of medical beds, rather than the need. So, maybe the models won’t be that far off, but in the worst possible way.

    Anyway, I’d rather we get ahead of that and just announce that the federal government will be footing the bill for covid-19 treatment.

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  30. DrDaveT says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: The idea that Trump thinks he has standing to object to something on the grounds that it is untruthful just boggles the mind.

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  31. DrDaveT says:

    @Gustopher:

    We’re going to be bailing out health insurance companies before long, aren’t we?

    Yes. Pray that the adults in the room can seize the opportunity to restructure the fundamental mechanisms of health insurance at that time. There is no better time to move to universal coverage than when the health insurance companies face Hobson’s choice.

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  32. SC_Birdflyte says:

    With regard to private assistance: we’ve donated on a monthly basis to The Carter Center for the last couple of years. This week, we got an e-mail from them asking us to re-direct our contributions to groups and agencies that are dealing directly with Covid-19 and its effects. I wonder if the Trump Foundation will do likewise? Oops, I forgot . . .

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  33. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Bill:
    That’s great to hear , Bill!!!

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  34. gVOR08 says:

    A couple days ago Dr. T had a post on the TX Lt Gov’s belief old people like me should volunteer to crawl out on an ice floe for the economy. I commented referencing “DKE-19”, the Dunning Kruger Effect driven by COVID-19. I forget where I stole that. I later added an example , a paper posted at the Hudson Institute by one Richard Epstein. He had “estimated” total deaths in the US at 500. Then, when we reached that number a week later he updated to 5,000. A number we will likely hit next week. I fear I referred to the gentleman as an “idiot” solely on the basis of these numbers, without reviewing his methodology.

    In order to be fair, last night I carefully read his paper. He looks at a forecast of a peak of 9 million active cases worldwide and a million deaths and contrasts it with the then current 169,000 cases. He then proceeds to a simple analysis of fatality rate ignoring, well, almost everything. He distorts what others have done, he makes unsubstantiated assertions, and he makes arguments based on facts not in evidence. Throughout he misuses terminology. “Virulent”, “pandemic”, etc. do not mean what he seems to think they mean. And he makes the common mistake of confusing vulnerable (likely to get seriously ill or die) with susceptible (likely to be infected if exposed and therefore spread), leading him to think isolating the vulnerable will somehow halt spread.

    It’s difficult to critique Epstein’s paper. As Wolfgang Pauli said about a deficient physics paper, “it’s not even wrong”. I set out to see how his methodology could produce an order of magnitude error, and then, when corrected, still produce a silly number. I thought maybe he applied a linear interpolation to an exponential process. But there is no methodology. He just eyeballed some early numbers and wrote down a number. As best I can make out his argument is:
    * Someone else estimated 1 million dead worldwide (based on no corrective action).
    * Numbers now are much lower (as reported by countries that are taking extreme, even draconian, corrective action).
    *Therefore we don’t need to take corrective action.

    I encourage you to read the paper yourselves and tell me if I am being harsh. But I don’t think Dr. T would accept this paper from a jock taking an Intro to Poli Sci elective in a general studies major. I wouldn’t belabor this, but Epstein, I read, is a leading light in conservative jurisprudence and this paper is influential in the Administration and is a driver of Trump’s ‘open up by Easter’ statements.

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  35. CSK says:

    I wish Gov. Baker would make up his damn mind about postponing Mass. state income tax filing till July 15, same as the feds.

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  36. MarkedMan says:

    @gVOR08:

    a paper posted at the Hudson Institute by one Richard Epstein

    Am I misremembering? Wasn’t the Hudson Institute the one I lumped in with all the other right ring think-tanks-for-hire and someone defended them as serious?

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  37. Grumpy realist says:

    Yesterday got chased out of my apartment by the damn security/fire alarm system getting checked which meant the fire alarms were going off intermittently for 10 seconds at a time for multiple hours. Took a walk around the neighborhood. We’re all carefully social-distancing ourselves, but a lot of people were out, partly due to warm weather. It’s definitely spring. We’ve got all sorts of flowers starting to bloom and the birds are making a racket defending their territories.

    I’m still spending a lot of time scrubbing floors and doing what I can to spring clean the place. Work sorta goes on—we’re twiddling our thumbs waiting to hear back from clients. While waiting, we’re trying to see what we can do to apply our expertise to the production of anti-viral protective materials.

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  38. gVOR08 says:

    @Gustopher:

    Anyway, I’d rather we get ahead of that and just announce that the federal government will be footing the bill for covid-19 treatment.

    And then maybe after the crisis, just extend it to everything.

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  39. gVOR08 says:

    @Grumpy realist: On the other hand, last night MSNBC had a camera on the pit of the Senate. There were several people standing around talking. Maybe not six feet apart, but mostly more than even my Norwegian three.

    Yesterday I got a postcard with PRESIDENT TRUMP’S ADVICE, which included distancing. It took awhile, but I found a comment link and complained about them electioneering with public money.

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  40. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan: I believe so.

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  41. Kingdaddy says:
  42. @OzarkHillbilly:

    Speaking of G

    A management decision was made to revoke his invitation to the party.

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  43. @gVOR08: I have only glanced at his summary, but this strikes me as a case of a law prof getting well outside his depth.

    The sad thing is, I saw a story that he has been advising the administration.

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  44. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @MarkedMan: Well, Duh. I lived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for 4 years. China is prosperous, has high quality education and healthcare. Everything Mississippi is not…..so no…Mississippi can never be China as long can anti intellectualism dominate their state culture

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  45. @Kingdaddy: From that story:

    On social media, he has seen images of “quarantine parties” and other gatherings of more than 10 people. “They’re creating a space where students can come and be stupid,” said Best, the Student Government Association chief of staff. “There’s a general carelessness, and our leadership isn’t doing what they could be to stop that from spreading.”

    Ugh.

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  46. Teve says:

    Just got Android 10 on my Nokia 6.1. Couple interface changes that make it very like the iOS interface wrt home button. Not bad, just takes some getting used to.

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  47. Kathy says:

    The challenge for this weekend:

    1) Go to the supermarket to rustle up supplies, then maybe to the gas station (not if I have over half a tank left).
    2) Cook lunch for the week.
    3) Cook dinner for the week.
    4) Finish a story I should have finished last year (too much “real” work).

    I wonder if I can nuke cabbage and carrots instead of cooking them in a pot. It probably won’t turn out right…

    Teaser for the story: Dr. Marina Brook, a recently widowed transgender woman with a degree in vertebrate biology, accidentally winds up in a parallel universe where her husband is still alive, and the resident Dr. Marina Brook is a cisgender woman with a degree in evolutionary biology.

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  48. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Kathy:

    I wonder if I can nuke cabbage and carrots instead of cooking them in a pot. It probably won’t turn out right…

    Carrots steam well in the microwave. Cabbage can get very stinky.

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  49. Stormy Dragon says:

    Ted Kaczynski will be remembered as a great mathematician if he rises above the pettiness of our times and stops mailing bombs to people /sarc

    Trump will be remembered as a great president if he rises above the pettiness of our times and rallies the U.S. through the coronavirus crisis, writes @DanHenninger https://t.co/Xt11xF7gsQ— WSJ Editorial Page (@WSJopinion) March 26, 2020

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  50. DrDaveT says:

    @Stormy Dragon: “Trump will be remembered as a great president if he ever does anything to deserve that” seems like an unimportant tautology. Similarly, I will be remembered as a great basketball player if I grow 12 inches, get coordinated, and invent a time machine.

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  51. Kylopod says:

    @Kingdaddy: I was struck especially by the article’s first sentence:

    With the unofficial motto “Politically incorrect since 1971,” Liberty University has long prided itself on bucking many of the norms of American higher education.

    One thing I’ve noticed over the past couple of weeks is a convergence between right-wingers and rebellious youths. There are those stories of coronavirus parties, the “coronavirus challenge,” that kid who got the virus after posting a vid of himself licking a toilet seat. Whether politically motivated or not, a lot of people who like to think of themselves as bucking the establishment are getting a bucket of reality.

    What’s fascinating to me is that there was a time in the past when conservatives were supposed to despise this mindset. They were supposed to be the grumpy elders complaining about the stupidity and lack of respect for authority, rules, and norms among the younger generation. But starting in the 1970s, the right somehow managed to reinvent itself as the daring and irreverent ones rebelling against the oppressive strictures of the left. The backlash against “political correctness” was the crux of this strategy, exploited by commentators from Limbaugh on down.

    I’m not ready to gloat, as some liberals are, about how the crisis represents an ultimate Darwinian elimination of deplorables from the population. Millions of innocent people are suffering the consequences, and however badly the management may be in the red states, the big metro areas like where I live are the ones being hit the hardest. The stupidity of conservatives is dragging us all down with them.

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  52. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08: From TPM: This is Very Important News from Italy. Please Read.

    Nembro, in the province of Bergamo, is the town most hard hit in per capita terms by COVID-19. Currently the town has 31 deaths attributed to COVID-19. But when the two authors looked at the total number of deaths registered in the town in January, February and March and compared it to the average for that period in previous years they found the number was dramatically larger. 158 deaths have been registered in the town during that period this year compared to an average of 35 in previous years.

    The math is simple: the average of 35 plus the 31 COVID-19 deaths gets you to 66. But the town has recorded almost 100 more deaths on top of that. As the authors say, “The difference is enormous and cannot be a simple statistical deviation.”

    The authors applied the same analysis to two other towns and in both came up with anomalous deaths 6.1 times the number officially attributed to COVID-19. The ratio was even higher for Bergamo as a whole.

    As I said, these numbers are so stark that I don’t think you need a lot of training in statistics to see that something very big is happening with these numbers and it is almost certainly tied to COVID-19.

    No, you aren’t being overly harsh. To make the understatement of the year.

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  53. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Thanx Steven, that’s what Neil said. I knew he was on the edge, missed that he had taken the lemmings plunge.

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  54. MarkedMan says:

    There is a certain maturity level where being a cool rebel seems to mean doing stupid things because… well, there’s not really a because. Many people grow out of this phase, but a surprising number never do.

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  55. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Up thread I commented on the Peter Van Buren nonsense at The American Conservative. I also read the comments and if was just chock full of amateur mathematicians bloviating on why the Italian numbers were so far off and there were actually less Covid cases than seasonal flu. A few brave souls pointed out that the hospitals are overflowing and they have restricted the elderly from being put on ventilators but they were met with crickets.

    I strongly suspect we are going to see something similar in NYC shortly. Right now there are 100 deaths there attributed to C-19. How many overall deaths are there and how does that compare with the same time last year?

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  56. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: FWIW I thought that for several months he had been desperately trying to provoke the site gods into smiting him. Because Michael had predicted he would end up just slithering off he didn’t want to do that, so was angling for a martyr ban.

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  57. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: Josh Marshall suspects the same. I have been saying for a while now that whatever one does, don’t get hurt, don’t get sick. Not only will they not be able to take care of you, they probably won’t even have a place to put you.

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  58. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: I missed most of that because I’m not usually around past 10 AM or so. I consider it a blessing.

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  59. mattbernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor & @gVOR08:

    I have only glanced at his summary, but this strikes me as a case of a law prof getting well outside his depth.

    Before medium pulled it (only for it later to get reposted at Zero Hedge — go figure), a particular bad piece of interpretation and modeling of Covid-19 data opened with this amazing claim:

    “You don’t need a special degree to understand what the data says or doesn’t say.”

    If the Dunning-Kruger effect had a family coat of arms, this would be it’s motto (machine translated using google, of course).

    As far as the image that the crest would bear, I’m thinking this would do quite well: https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/8d40d862eb1e8cd22e560055cc74ee1386f18534/c=3-0-2046-1536/local/-/media/2017/01/05/USATODAY/USATODAY/636192333437263217-v2nytoon.jpg?quality=50&width=640

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  60. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    On social media, he has seen images of “quarantine parties” and other gatherings of more than 10 people. “They’re creating a space where students can come and be stupid,” said Best, the Student Government Association chief of staff. “There’s a general carelessness, and our leadership isn’t doing what they could be to stop that from spreading.”

    The problem with administrators trying to set a positive example by sitting at their desks and drinking in the day is that the students have no idea that they are doing it. There needs to be an awareness campaign for solitary day drinking.

    Also, encourage “Quarantine Buddies” rather than “Quarantine Parties” — limit them to smaller circles, as a harm reduction strategy.

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  61. Monala says:

    @Kathy:

    So maybe if they had set aside cash reserves rather than buying back their own stock, they wouldn’t need a bailout.

    As one meme going around Facebook says, “Weird how people living paycheck to paycheck are expected to have months’ worth of savings for emergencies, but billion dollar corporations are going bankrupt after one week of reduced profits.”

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  62. Monala says:

    @Bill: Very happy to hear this! Keep us posted, and wishing you well on your continued healing.

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  63. Kathy says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    I had a suspicion that might be the case.

    You know, I’ve yet to cook anything in a microwave.

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  64. Tyrell says:

    I watched “Doctor Sleep”. I give it a C+. I would tell more, but don’t want to have a spoiler here. I would not want to discourage anyone from watching it.
    “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil”: A-. better than expected. Right mix of fantasy, adventure, fairy tale, and charm. Disney gets it right again.
    Next stops: “Frozen II” , “Adams Family”

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  65. inhumans99 says:

    Hmm, folks on another site I frequent say that people who did not watch The Shining or read the book might fight Doctor Sleep to still be a pretty solid filmgoing experience even though I am aware it is unofficially considered a sequel to The Shining. You did say that we should watch it and make up or own minds as to whether or not it is a good film so fair enough.

    Frozen II (watched on Disney+) was in my humble opinion better than the original. A deeper story, and the animation really is stunning. I even enjoyed the songs. You will enjoy.

    I also look forward to checking out Adams Family as I missed it in theaters but it did fairly well at the box office and was a bit of a crowd pleaser. Also, not a hardcore Adams Family guy but I did get the set of 6 Funko Pops that were recently produced and looking at them makes me want to see the film even more.

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  66. JohnSF says:

    Hello from a periodic visitor from the land of UKania.

    In case anyone’s interested, a personal perspective from this side of the pond.

    In the 7th day of incrementally tightening lockdown here.
    Workplace went to semi-closed status last Thursday, to essential staffing only for one day Monday, shut Tuesday.
    Lag was because workplace is a university with nurse training at this campus, so initial thought was to keep things going on restricted basis.

    Changed policy means we’re trying to go fully online for the time being, and discussing very restrictive physical function once the peak is past and NHS and testing/tracing/local-lock protocols in place. Perhaps May IF we’re lucky.

    The government,and the civil service, and above all the “shadow government” of Party/Ministerial advisors and consultants, are going to face a lot of heat once this is done, re. delays in lock-down, failures to test-and-trace rigorously in early stages, failures to staff-plan from Jan/Feb on, mixed messaging etc.

    But at least they are now approaching lock-down seriously, and hitting the economic crisis with a wall of money. Treasury and Bank have effectively moved to war economy for the duration: “whatever it takes” – direct subventions from Treasury to individuals and businesses, Bank ready to float whatever bonds are required, restart the economy after.

    Rather grimly amusing to see *Conservative” liberTories revert to command economy like WW2.

    But at least we have a central command, however initially hesitant, and no Governor Reeves demanding that businesses restart!
    Someone in the US should consider cornering the market in torches and pitchforks.

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  67. JohnSF says:

    @MarkedMan:
    I’ve seen similar things along the lines of “Italy is an aberrant outlier because reasons…” nonsense too, both from Americans, and before the scale of this monster shut up most (but not all ) of the fools.
    The obvious rejoinder is how come Spain, France etc. are following similar statistical tracks to Italy?
    Answer comes there none.

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  68. Kathy says:

    @JohnSF:

    Someone in the US should consider cornering the market in torches and pitchforks.

    I think for our present age, what would sell are Trump piñatas and very flammable effigies.

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  69. JohnSF says:

    Oh dear heavens.
    Just checked the Harvard coronovirus data display.
    USA has now passed China and Italy in total cumulative cases.
    Epidemiologist at my workplace predicting this a couple of days ago, but not till next Monday.
    Exponential takeoff even faster than forecast.
    Death rates likely to go exponential spike with c. ten day lag if pattern holds.
    You need national lockdown yesterday

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  70. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Looks like “mass hysteria” CAN kill you! (as can many GOP talking points, I suppose)

    https://www.rawstory.com/2020/03/christian-pastor-who-thought-covid-19-is-just-mass-hysteria-is-among-the-first-in-virginia-to-die-from-virus/

    One of the first deaths in Virginia from coronavirus was a 66-year-old Christian “musical evangelist” who fell ill while on a trip to New Orleans with his wife. As the Friendly Atheist’s Bo Gardiner points out, Landon Spradlin had previously shared opinions that the pandemic was the result of “mass hysteria” from the media.

    On March 13, Spradlin shared a misleading meme that compared coronavirus deaths to swine flu deaths and suggested the media is using the pandemic to hurt Trump. In the comments, Spradlin acknowledged that the outbreak is a “real issue,” but added that he believes “the media is pumping out fear and doing more harm than good”

    “It will come and it will go,” he wrote.

    That same day, he shared a post from another pastor that told the story of a missionary in South Africa who “protected” himself from the bubonic plague with the “Spirit of God.”

    “As long as I walk in the light of that law [of the Spirit of life], no germ will attach itself to me,” read a quote from the post.

    Wow, eh.

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  71. DrDaveT says:

    @JohnSF:

    Death rates likely to go exponential spike with c. ten day lag if pattern holds.
    You need national lockdown yesterday

    Growth in cumulative death rates has been exponential (with a fixed exponent) for a couple of weeks. We’ve been there for a while. Fortunately, most of the US went to significant lockdown and/or social distancing a week ago or more. We won’t see that show up in the death curves (if it does) for another 3 weeks or so.

    ETA: the exponent describing growth of confirmed cases is almost identical in many different countries, suggesting it’s an inherent feature of the transmissivity of the virus. The US has been slightly worse than the typical country; Italy has been better than average for a few weeks. South Korea has contained their outbreak; the case count is not growing. Japan has grown much slower than other countries, at least according to reported cases. Turkey had a huge explosion over the past week, much faster than other countries (doubling daily), but that seems to have slowed down.

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  72. DrDaveT says:

    @inhumans99:

    I also look forward to checking out Adams Family as I missed it in theaters but it did fairly well at the box office and was a bit of a crowd pleaser.

    If you’re talking about the Addams family movie starring Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd, and pre-teen Christina Ricci, it’s awesome. A classic. The perfect family movie, in a weird sort of way.

    The first sequel, Addams Family Values, isn’t bad, but it can’t match the perfection of the first one.

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  73. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    In the G-7 “Wuhan Virus” thread, mattbernius made a reference to “tacticool/survivalist” types. It reminded me of something I saw this fall. On the other side of the block from my apartment, there is a custom gun/gunsmithing shop. One day during hunting season on my way somewhere, I stopped for a pedestrian crossing over to the gun shop. He was in full camo–hat, jacket, pants, boots (with olive drab soles, no less)–carrying his camo rifle with the camo barrel and stock.

    I drove away thinking ‘you do realize that the reason to wear camo is so people don’t see you in the woods, right?’ (And I really don’t know how well camo in light greens and greys would work in the coastal range area that he would be likely to hunt in. Although I suppose that might be the point–he would be able to look all cool and camo and still be seen?)

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  74. Kylopod says:

    @DrDaveT:

    The first sequel, Addams Family Values, isn’t bad, but it can’t match the perfection of the first one.

    I have about the opposite view. I found the first forgettable, and I’ve long considered the sequel one of the most underrated comedies of the ’90s–a rare example of a sequel that was better than the original.

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  75. JohnSF says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Cosplay.

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  76. Tyrell says:

    @JohnSF: We have our local “stay in place”, “lock down”, or “sit at home” or whatever you want to call it. Basically we can go to the grocery stores, convenience stores, car parts stores (necessary workers must have reliable cars), drug stores, home supply stores, restaurants ( carry out or eat in car in parking lot), ride bikes, walk the neighborhood, visit family member or friends for support, have no more than twelve people together, sunbathe in yard, hold hands with you wife or kids (some people probably would even outlaw that), walk your dog, and go to doctors if you already have an appointment.
    What we don’t want or need is a nation wide martial law type of deal here. What else would you require? What about cookouts, swimming pools, and corn hole games? People have to have something to do and it is too nice to stay cooped up indoors. Spring is springing. People should just use common sense keep their distances, and wash their hands like you are supposed to have already been doing. I am not a hand shaker, hugger, or high fiver, so this “social distancing” is not anything new to me.

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  77. JohnSF says:

    @DrDaveT:
    Yes, it’s tricky because of unknown levels of undiagnosed cases, variance in diagnosis country to country, shifting death rates dependent on lvels of stress on intensive care, variance in lockdown etc.
    But (and I’m prob. saying what you already know her; apologies) the point when the exponent tends to go vertical on a non-log scale is significant in impact on health service and economy and awareness etc. etc.

    Differential of E. Asian to Euro patterns is v. important going forward. All following are factors (plus others) but how to calculate mix:
    Social differences?
    lockdown schedules and enforcement?
    Mass testing + rapid response trace?
    Masks? (were early “informed analysis” in “West” of mask ineffectiveness wrong?)

    My prefernce is, hit with all the firepower you have NOW, decide about the percentages on the other side.

    We are still so early in understanding this bastard.
    Except that when it hits it hits FAST.
    Speed is life.

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  78. DrDaveT says:

    @Kylopod:

    I have about the opposite view. I found the first forgettable, and I’ve long considered the sequel one of the most underrated comedies of the ’90s–a rare example of a sequel that was better than the original.

    Fascinating! Thanks for sharing that. De gustibus and all that, but that one surprises me.

    There are certainly some awesome moments in the sequel, but I love vast swathes of the original. (“We could have been such friends.” “It’s called… Is there a God?”)

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  79. DrDaveT says:

    @JohnSF:

    My prefernce is, hit with all the firepower you have NOW, decide about the percentages on the other side.

    Couldn’t agree more.

    I saw a presentation given to the Netherlands parliament by some of their scientists today. I don’t speak Dutch, but even I can tell that it is far superior in both content and presentation to anything that is informing our current “administration” in its “policies”.

    By the way, welcome to OTB.

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  80. JohnSF says:

    @Tyrell:
    The restrictions here are not that different re. commerce.
    But it is strongly advised (not enforced, yet) you should not visit others unless this is a necessity.

    You should not socialize.
    (See, we’re not socialists after all 🙂 )

    Of course you should hold hands with your wife, or kids.
    What is life without love?
    But if you, or they, are symptomatic, you should quarantine as far as humanly possible.
    I have a colleague, mildly symptomatic, trying to isolate at home from elderly parents with vulnerable conditions. Not easy. But needful.

    cookouts, swimming pools, and corn hole games

    Absolutely not. You imperil them, yourself, all others you and they may interact with.

    “…it is too nice to stay cooped up indoors. Spring is springing.”

    The past week has been the most perfect spring weather, and after this winter in Britain it is a a blessing; and for now at least the ruling is, walk outdoors for an hour a day if you can maintain distance.

    I am fortunate, being a grumpy antisocial SOB; but even I miss the pub atimes.
    So be it. Push down the curve NOW.

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  81. JohnSF says:

    @DrDaveT:
    Thank you.
    Actually, been here before quite a lot; I used to comment quite a lot on UK or international related posts.
    I never tended to comment to much on US related stuff, as I figure I’m here to learn on those matters, or else no pup in the pile on, except the baseline that President Trump was an unfortunate choice.

    I took my usual internet break over Christmas, then with one thing and another, such as being bloody depressed re. UK and US politics, work stuff etc. not been back since.
    Now I’m under lock, you may soon get very tired of my jibber-jabber.

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  82. Michael Reynolds says:

    LA Times says freeways are empty. You can do 70+ on virtually all of it, virtually all the time, as opposed to short bursts, occasionally. I have a new car, with less than 500 miles on it, a convertible, moderately fast with a Sport mode and a Sport+ mode which I’ve never had a chance to try out.

    And I can’t go anywhere.

    Yes, I do know it’s not coughing my lungs out in an overcrowded hospital. Still.

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  83. JohnSF says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:
    Darwin , he steppin’ razor.

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  84. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @JohnSF:

    You should not socialize.
    (See, we’re not socialists after all )

    Objection! Assumes facts not in evidence.

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  85. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Last Friday, commute home down the M5 out of Birmingham, ran in S-mode 80+ from on to off.
    Home in less than half normal time 🙂
    First time ever in daytime I think.
    Funny to almost hope to see traffic congestion again.

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  86. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnSF: Flat Earth Luddite and I have discussed such ideas. We abandoned the propositions we considered–not enough rope, or lamp posts, either.

    @JohnSF: Good point! I never considered cosplay. That might explain all of it.

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  87. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I still have to get to work every day. I take precautions, and I worry, but I don’t have much choice. My regular commute is about 30-40 minutes. On Saturdays, before 10 am, I can get there in 25. This week, I’m averaging 19 minutes.

    It’s insane.

    Objectively, this is good, seeing as fewer people are out and about.

    But I miss being stuck in traffic.

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  88. JohnSF says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:
    Aha! Caught me out!
    I am, in fact, a sneakily anti-social socializing socialist.
    Who just happens to be an agnostic liberal christian democrat conservative (distributist, non-jacobin, possibly jacobite). Not a Whig though. Probably.

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  89. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Tyrell: It’s nice that Spring is springing where you are. Where I live, the high today was 43, the overnight low was 35, and it’s been raining in several 30 minute-1 hour intervals per day for two or three days.

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  90. inhumans99 says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Actually, I was talking about the animated film that came out last year which is the film I think Tyrell was also talking about. The animated film from what I have read could have been a complete dud but instead it is supposed to be an enjoyable watch.

    That being said, I recently watched the second film again when it was on cable and it was just as fun to watch as it was when I saw it in theaters (I think even Roger Ebert had some very kind things to say about the sequel especially the great summer camp parts of the film).

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  91. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    My favorite Spring song.

    ETA: And the singer is still alive and kickin’ according to Bing at least.

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  92. MarkedMan says:

    My company is critical, specifically for those industries directly relevant to this effort. All of our products have seen an uptick and one in particular has just exploded, at least for the short term. So I’m in work about 50% of the time, dealing with equipment and trying to stay 6ft away from everyone. And my commute is amazing. But the weird thing is when I turn on NPR and the traffic comes on. Normally he talks as fast as he can and gets in about a third of the major roads, only covering major problems. Now it’s a blanket “inner loop, outer loop fine, interstates and major state highways fine” and a few accidents on feeder roads.

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  93. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    And I can’t go anywhere.

    I was going to ask what was stopping you until I remembered that I have a friend who works for Staples in Oregon who was given a not from home office to carry with him affirming that he is an essential worker and can travel to work because an employee in Cali was pulled over and cited.

    You have my sympathy, sir. 🙁

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  94. Michael Cain says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: 50 here today. Small storm system rolls through tomorrow night and is supposed to dump a couple inches of wet snow.

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  95. Grumpy realist says:

    @JohnSF: I’ve been keeping an eye on the statistics as reported by the Illinois authorities. We’re definitely doubling faster than the initial estimate of 5 days—although that might simply be due to the increased testing. Some of my friends down state are pretty certain that we’ve had the virus running around for some time—-it’s just that no one was testing. At the rate we’re going we’re going to get everyone in the state by July if not sooner.

    I guess the only possibly good point is if it really is as prevalent as a lot of us suspect, the percentage who need hospitalization is low. I’m still trying to stave off catching whatever is out there by isolating and hand-washing. Will probably sew myself several masks for added security.

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  96. DrDaveT says:

    @inhumans99:

    Actually, I was talking about the animated film that came out last year which is the film I think Tyrell was also talking about.

    Aha! Yes, I remember seeing ads for that. P’raps the missus and I shall while an hour or more that way sometime soon. Thanks for reminding me.

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  97. DrDaveT says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    And the singer is still alive and kickin’

    I was noting the other day that a good COVID-19 playlist ought to include at least two of his: “We Will All Go Together When We Go”, and “I Got It from Agnes…”

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  98. Teve says:

    We’re lucky a Democrat isn’t in the White House. If there were, the GOP senate would be filibustering all attempts to deal with the virus & economy.

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  99. Tyrell says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Thanks for that. We are going back and forth between ac during the day and heat at night. This weekend brings temperatures in the upper 80’s: the cool weather is over for the season.
    Traffic is normal, except there is not the school traffic in the 6:00am – 8:am and 2:30pm – 4:30pm.
    We live close to the county line and usually go over there for what we need. As of now they have fewer restrictions.

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  100. Michael Reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:
    Hah! No, he won’t admit, but he already knows. That’s enough for me.

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  101. wr says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: When I’ve read about these preachers, my first thought has been “hope they get it and suffer.” But now that it’s happened I only feel sadness and pity and horror at the waste of even this terrible human life.

    So my hat is off to Dr. W, who lives where I think many of us actually are, as opposed to where we think we are…

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  102. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @DrDaveT: 😀

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