We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Wednesday, July 1. 2020
Webinars can be hit or miss. The New York Adventure Club, due to the obvious difficulties of getting out these days, have some on offer. I took in one on Five Points that was excellent, and there is one on July 21 about the Brooklyn Bridge that I have signed up for. $10 isn't too much, I guess, though I'd rather do tours on foot (boy I miss the Urban Hike and I hope we can pull one off in the Fall...I was thinking of focusing on movie locations this time).
If you're interested in spending an hour and learning about NYC's history, here's a great way to do it. Just click the link and see what they have to offer.
Sunday, June 21. 2020
I hope all our readers who are fathers enjoy this day with their families.
My father and mother divorced when I was 8, though he'd already left the house when I was 6. For a good portion of my life, my memories of him were of weekend visitations, driving around with 4 kids in Triumph TR5, (2 in the front, 2 in the 'back', which wasn't really a seat). There was a period of several years when he lived in Micronesia with his wife and my half-sister, so our direct contact was minimal. By the time I was 14, I was usually taking a bus to see him for weekends, once a month or so, or for a week in the summer. Eventually I spent three full summers with him while I worked at the Jersey Shore. I was in college, and it was a good place to spend my summer months.
Divorce is difficult on everyone involved. I remember spending time being angry at my father for leaving. I give my mother a lot of credit for knowing that it's important for children to have a father in their lives, encouraging and enabling us to take time to see him. Even scolding us when we spoke ill of him. Eventually, as I got older and more educated, my relationship with my father became much closer. I am lucky to still have him around, and I will be seeing him later today for the first time in 4 months (thanks to this lockdown).
In a way, I may have been lucky, as my mother remarried, and I wound up having a step-father (though he was not officially a step-father as I still had my father). A tough WWII vet, a good man who did his able best to raise 6 children, 4 of which were not his own. He passed 15 years ago. I was able to have conversations about the war, the Depression (which he grew up during) and learned about real estate (his profession). He was a do-it-yourself man, unfortunately not very skilled, but taught me how to do plumbing, auto, and minor electrical work. There were things he passed on to me that my father never could have.
Being a father has no template. We are certainly not perfect. Hopefully, our mistakes are good learning experiences, for both us and our children.
Today will be a good day to share some of the better stories, both good and bad, with our fathers or our children. Of course, we can do that any day, but it's nice to have a day to really focus. Enjoy your day with your family.
Saturday, June 20. 2020
Thursday, June 18. 2020
What has CHAZ (or is it CHOP? They grow up so fast!) done for us? CHAZ has done us a favor by highlighting some truths about the far left.
Monday, June 15. 2020
The larger French Revolution era extended all the way until the end of the Franco-Prussian War. This current situation, as I'd written about the other day, is much like the French Revolution.
The general approach of this crowd isn't too dissimilar to the Spanish Inquisition, either. If you're not in, you're out, and you're going to have to be punished. They claim their 'goal' is peace and freedom. They prefer to see people suffer. They have marketed themselves to their constituency well, shifting everyone's eyes away from historical precedent.
Thursday, June 11. 2020
Apparently, Seattle is now epicenter of the revolution which we have all waited breathlessly for. The NYTimes has headlines saying it's "Free Food, Free Speech and Free of Police", which I suppose is a start. We are expecting great things from these people. 'New ideas' we've never seen before. Lovely. Maybe the food is 'free', though nothing is ever free, and we certainly know the speech is only free if you agree with them. But I'm fairly certain the area is free of police. For now.
Remember a few years ago at Malheur, and those supposed 'right-wing extremist' loony birds were roundly misrepresented by the press? Yeah, me either. Didn't happen. The Feds didn't kill anyone there, either.
I'm sure this Seattle experiment will go really well. Just like Christiana did originally (cough, cough).
By the way, can I just also mention how proud I am of my alma mater's devotion to presenting fact-based opinions and respecting free speech? We're leading the way! Future donations on my part will not be part of the plan. I can show my point of view by withholding money.
Monday, June 8. 2020
Ghosts don't exist, except in history. These ghosts live in our minds, because we are aware of history and hope 'it can't happen here', or that lessons are learned. But some choose to not be aware of history, and make every effort to bring ghosts to life.
For several months, since listening to the French Revolution portion of the Revolutions podcast I mentioned here at Maggie's, I've told friends we're moving toward a new French Revolution. As Minneapolis moves to defund its police department, one can only wonder, will it be replaced with a Committee of Public Safety? In a perverse way, I hope they do create one.
The ghosts of Marat, Robespierre, Danton and countless others are alive again. I'm sure our modern day radicals will say "This time is different" or "It wasn't done right the last time" or some other excuse will be provided. I have to admit, though, it's fun to see these people turn on their own kind. It's also frightening. A friend of mine was sending me pictures today from Manhattan of the destroyed store fronts. It's pretty extensive, and the minimal news coverage of how bad it was provides a kind of rationale for the radical influence to keep pushing. There is no shame in destruction if it's not visible. But the destruction, too, is a ghost - not visible to many.
Jonathan Turley puts his own spin on it here. Being a modern-day Abbe Sieyes isn't something I thought I'd begin to aspire to, but it may be a worthwhile goal nonetheless.
Friday, June 5. 2020
One of the issues I've been grappling with during all the recent nonsense is the idea, somehow, the U.S. is 'flawed'. In this article, Dr. Benedict Beckeld discusses what is best described as 'self-hatred' or fear of the familiar, oikophobia, as it relates to the U.S.
Sure, of course our nation is flawed. Those flaws are, in a way, our best feature, because they require constant discussion. Our Constitution memorialized free speech to ensure that discussion takes place. A friend asked if we're racist. Answering 'Yes' would imply everyone is racist and all our institutions are racist. So the only answer is 'No'. What IS true is we're more open about the racism which still exists. We show it, we talk about it on the news, we deplore it even as we work our way through it. Our dirty laundry is regularly on display for the world. Other nations either suppress their discussions, or are heterogeneous enough that racism isn't an issue they need to deal with too much. That allows them to judge us, and their judgments reach people in the U.S. and resonates. There is a strange self-loathing which sometimes accompanies wealth and success.
If we, as a nation, have a detrimental flaw, it's the hatred of what we are and what we've accomplished, and engaging that self-loathing. To that end, I can never be a leftist, let alone a Democrat. I hear too much about hate from them. They hate Trump, they hate what the U.S. represents, they hate our history, they ignore our accomplishments, somehow assuming these accomplishments rationalize the errors of our past. Accomplishments don't rationalize anything, they're just accomplishments.
Some of our citizens just need to learn to stop hating themselves. They need to learn to love our history with all its mistakes, and by default, our nation again. We have fixed so many mistakes. Why focus only on errors? We build on our successes, we don't build by focusing on failures. We can use the failures to improve, if we approach them constructively.
P.S. - I was sharing thoughts with a friend about what binds us as a nation. It is the Constitution, from my perspective. I know most of the people I referred to in this post, if they hate the U.S. and what it stands for, then they hate the Constitution. But the Constitution is, still today, an astounding and outstanding achievement. It does not grant rights, it protects them. Its amendments attempts to enumerate some of these rights, but makes it clear those listed are not all there are. This is very different than almost every other nation's basis. From this point of view, we are very much a nation, since the right to oppose, or hate, the Constitution is enshrined in the Constitution itself.
Sunday, May 31. 2020
This morning, watching the news, I simply told my son "never join a mob." The police can't win in a situation like this. If they do nothing and people get hurt, businesses and homes are destroyed. If they do something, a video will call out the 'bad cops'.
There's nothing to be gained in a mob. You get to be part of a crowd, and sure that's 'fun'. You're in with the 'in crowd'. But when it all goes south, you stand a chance of getting arrested or worse.
I hope we can all agree what happened to George Floyd, and many others like him, was unnecessary and requires action. I hope we can all agree peaceful protests of this kind of thing are useful and necessary as part of our nation's traditions. I'm sure we can all agree riots and destruction are counterproductive and unnecessary. They do not represent a revolutionary movement.
I've seen many people making comparisons of the looting and riots to the Boston Tea Party. This is just nonsense. While it's true that John Hancock and Samuel Adams were happy to see the tea tossed because it kept prices on their smuggled tea high, many others opposed the Tea Party, with Washington and Franklin calling for restitution to the East India Company. So criticism of destruction also has a long history in our fine nation.
That said, the East India Company existed by mandate of the Crown, and was an arm of the government. While it was 'private' in construct, even Parliament recognized it was both a political and economic entity. Taxes were only part of the way the Crown benefited from the East India Company. So any attack on the tea was an attack on the government, by default. Burning or looting Target stores are not an attack on the US government or local governments. The looting had nothing to do with depriving the government of anything, nor is it a statement about government. It's just violence and destruction for the sake of violence and destruction.
Taking the comparison further, the Boston Tea Party was not an uncontrolled riot. It was, by most accounts, generally orderly. Armed British ships did not make a move to intervene. The participants went so far as to sweep the decks clean afterward. This was not mob behavior. This is the kind of protest one should feel comfortable joining.
After being cooped up for 2 and half months, any spark was likely to result in an overreaction. Criminal elements love a protest, particularly one they can turn into a riot. Protests require strong leaders, soft guidance, and respect for order. But none of this exists with the 'protesters' in our current situation. There is no Martin Luther King here.
George Floyd should not be dead. His murderers should be arrested. The reaction is still wrong and cannot be justified. Each is a separate crime in itself. The riots should not be linked to Floyd's death, they should be linked to violent thugs seeking to cause problems.
Don't join a mob.
Friday, May 22. 2020
Yesterday, a post by a fellow commentator addressed whether anyone would listen to epidemiologists again. This, in itself, is not a controversial question. There is a range of opinions, even among epidemiologists, on how to deal with viral outbreaks. That said, most posts are designed to create a discussion. None are likely to ever come to any complete answer, though hopefully some shared ground can be hammered out. It seems this did not occur and considerable animus was shared in the comments section.
I will begin by saying I have not lost anyone to Covid, but I can list about 15 people in my family who are at risk. They have all been isolating, as they should. They know isolation won't prevent them from getting ill, as we know there are many other problems with isolation. But it is a safety feature. There are no guarantees for any of us.
The questions which remain are whether we 'flattened the curve', actually 'saved lives', and even if we could do these things.
There is no way, literally none, to answer whether we 'flattened the curve' or 'saved lives'. Saying we did will only be based on what you presume may have happened otherwise. That's not science, that's an opinion. My opinion is we didn't and can't do either, but my opinion is no better informed than yours. I base my reasoning on logic. Isolation has happened, and people are still getting sick despite isolation. The virus spreads more easily in confined spaces, and shutting up a family with one asymptomatic member may well doom the entire family. Multi-generational homes in Italy, where that kind of living is more common than in the US, certainly played a role in the Italian situation.
Continue reading "The Personalization of Disease"
Monday, May 18. 2020
Ever since seeing A Clockwork Orange, Gene Kelly's work has taken on a whole new meaning. Along these lines, I will share this video, sent by a friend and created by a comedian, which has completely changed how I will view The Association's Windy from this day forward. I can't say I know how to describe my feelings as I viewed it, but I've settled on amused. Sorry I don't have an embed version, you need to click the link.
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 10:15 | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, May 14. 2020
One of my favorite people to listen to, or read, is Mike Rowe. Lots of good, common sense. I've not always agreed with him, but I'm sure plenty of people don't agree with me all the time. It's all fine, as long as we understand each other's point of view. I completely understand Mike's, and respect it even when I disagree.
Mike's podcast recently told the story of the Staplehurst Train Disaster, in which Charles Dickens played a prominent (and for a long time largely invisible) role. He spun from that to a discussion on safety, and covered his conceptualization of "Safety Third" as a means of managing risk.
On my earlier post today, someone commented safety should always be most important. Here, Mike explains why that's simply not true. There are always other considerations. Read the article or listen to the podcast. Both are excellent.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock provides a good review of the debate between what Sweden has done vs the rest of the world.
There are many reasons, all legitimately different from cultural and societal considerations, why Sweden would be successful with their approach. But that doesn't mean every culture is unable to utilize variations on it to make it work for them. He swung, and missed, on that point.
The primary discussion point is "what is a life worth?"
There is a cost, or a value, to every life. It will vary based on relationships, love, and commonality. However, productivity of each life must also be considered. Losing a farmer and his family, so a farm that feeds 10,000 people goes abandoned, is far more damaging to society than losing the same number of people in a nursing home. Losing 20 doctors treating the virus is more damaging than losing 20 people who build apps. These are just simple facts of life. It's hard to swallow, and it's not something we want to consider, but it is very true.
Nobody wants to see anyone die, and as a country we've directed resources to saving as many as we can through pharma and academic research. In addition, we've implemented social distancing, masks, and a variety of other methods to reduce or limit spread.
All of this adds up to one thing. Reopening is the only option. Nobody knows enough about the virus to categorically state when we will, or how we will, be 'safe'. But 'safety' is no longer the primary issue we should be considering. Whether we like it or not, we are far past that point. Now we're talking about simple long-term survival.
Wednesday, May 13. 2020
I am used to working from home. I have done it once a week for close to 6 years, sometimes twice a week, but rarely that often. I was much more productive working from home that often. It helps reset your mind, helps keep you out of office politics, is relaxing and allows you to concentrate.
That said, I've now been working from home for 2 months straight. I'm comfortable doing it, but I will admit the productivity question is an odd one, and I would like to know if others think they are more productive, about the same, or less so.
Here is how I view the situation. I'm about as productive as I was at the office, but I take more time doing the work because I have to. So, by that standard, I'm LESS productive. I find myself working earlier and later, with more breaks than I would have at the office. Most of my daily 'ad-hoc' work shows up at 5pm, as people realize things need to get finished or as the West Coast sends in requests prior to end of day. I don't like to leave my work undone for the day, I prefer an empty email when I shut down. However, this situation is such that I've found myself responding to emails at 11pm, even midnight.
Working from home reduces access to co-workers who may have answers or assist (it takes longer for them to respond), it reduces access to information (the rapidity at which we shifted limited how many files I was able to move to a shared drive), it reduces brainstorming opportunities, it reduces camaraderie (sorry, Zoom meetings 'for fun' are not fun in any way, shape or form).
So I'm curious - how has the lockdown affected those of you who are working from home? More, less or the same in terms of productivity?
Friday, May 1. 2020
I am a fan of John Constable's work. I will admit this is something I picked up from my father, and something I continued on with while studying in London in 1983. I did several papers on his work that semester, and spent a great deal of time in the National Gallery. I will, quite selfishly, say I was very happy to have my father join me and my class as we did presentations on various pieces. That day I did a little piece on Constable's "The Hay Wain" and having him there made me very nervous.
So, I was very pleased when Mrs. Bulldog told me about the Frick Gallery's "Cocktails with a Curator" which featured Constable's "The White Horse" today (May 1, 2020). It's part of their series during the idiotic isolation. But I HIGHLY recommend this. It may be one of a few good things that come out of this waste of time. Please, if you like art, and even if you believe Frick was a jerk (as I do), it's worth watching.
My relationship with Constable took an interesting turn in 2018. Mrs. Bulldog and I were lucky enough to travel to London for Wimbledon. We went for a week, and she planned a 'literary walk' not unlike Maggies' Urban Hikes. It started with a walk through Hampstead Heath (a favorite Constable locale), to Kenwood House to view the artwork, then to The Spaniards Inn for a drink, and through Hampstead to see the homes of various great literary figures. Orwell, Keats, Waugh, Ian Fleming, Bram Stoker, among many others. One stop, for Stoker, was an old church at the end of Church Row in Hampstead. He wrote a good portion of Dracula while sitting in the church courtyard. H.G. Wells had also lived on Church Row.
At this point, you're asking "What's this got to do with Constable?" Well, that's the interesting part. In the church courtyard is a list of everyone buried there. I was most excited to learn John Harrison, the 'discoverer' of longitude was buried out front. (At this point, Mrs. Bulldog is saying "What a nerd I married") But also included on this list was John Constable! Sheer luck had led us to some rather interesting historic locations, and I was totally wrapped up in the moment. I was further pampered by getting to spend several hours in the National Gallery yet again, revisiting many of my old friends.
If you like art, please check out this series on YouTube. I promise it's worth your time, and make sure you have a cocktail in hand.
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 19:28 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, April 23. 2020
Losing someone you love, particularly a family member, is painful. I can't say I know, nobody in my closest circle of friends or family has died. My brother-in-law died 22 years ago, and while we were friendly I wouldn't say we were close. He was family and that was painful enough. For my in-laws it was much worse, but I was more observer and shoulder to cry on.
I received a message from a fraternity brother on Sunday night that my former roommate (also a fraternity brother) had lost his younger (real) brother in a tragic late night car accident on Saturday. I happen to be friendly with my former roommate's older (real) brother through work, and I was friendly with the deceased as well, though only from a distance. My wife knows my former roommate well, as we played beach volleyball for a summer the year she and I started dating, and we've gone to the Preakness every year as part of a large group.
Mrs. Bulldog, having gone through this experience of family loss, insisted I set up a call with all our fraternity brothers as soon as possible. I wasn't sure this was wise. She was adamant. So I checked with my roommate's older brother (who, obviously, was also hurting) to express my condolences and see if this was a good decision. We are all separated by many miles and the lockdown will prevent any of us traveling for a funeral. His reaction was rapid, emphatically positive, and it didn't take much insistence on my part to assure he join.
For 2 hours Tuesday night we videoconferenced with 8 old college buddies, 1 close friend, and 1 older brother. 10 people just sharing experiences. Mostly, however, my former roommate and his brother were expressing grief, sharing their fondest memories, how they will be there for their niece, and all the thoughts and feelings that pass through peoples' minds at moment like this. The rest of us listened, shared some smiles, casual observations, a joke or two where it was fitting, and it felt good to just soak in their memories and feelings. It may be hard for me to empathize, never having lost anyone very close. But I can sympathize and provide some consolation.
As skeptical as I was, I hoped it would be cathartic and meaningful. It seems to have done some good. The older brother sent me a note this morning of an old Jewish saying that grief shared is grief halved. He is a lay minister, and we began to share our thoughts on the nature of God. We concluded a videoconference may not be an optimal setting, yet the appearance of everybody on that call was evidence of God and God's love.
There is a line in The Big Chill: "a long time ago we knew each other for a short period of time; you don't know anything about me. It was easy back then. No one had a cushier berth than we did. It's not surprising our friendship could survive that. It's only out there in the real world that it gets tough." As I contemplate this movie quote, I realized something. If it wasn't for technology, this quote may have described my relationship with these fellows perfectly. I doubt I would be as close with some of them as I have become. I reconnected with many as a result of the internet. The internet provides a source of communion.
We knew each other well for 2-4 years 37 years ago. Some of us fell off the map for many years. Others maintained relationships. In many cases we've had to renew old friendships. Even now, sometimes, we struggle to maintain these connections. Technology has helped us avoid the loss that comes from no longer living together with few responsibilities. It has, now, helped us lean on each other in times of need and sorrow. It has provided great benefit at a very unusual and difficult period in everybody's life.
The conference ended with an exchange that summed up how useful the videoconference was in restoring humor and good feeling.
Steve: "No, not like yesterday. Yesterday was a crappy day. We'll make it like the day before yesterday. That was a pretty good day."
Sunday, April 19. 2020
I'm not sure if it's unfortunate fallout or collateral damage, but I had a conversation with a friend who, like me, battled Covid. Their battle was much worse than mine as they were in an at-risk group. But they survived, as did other family members who eventually got milder cases. The net result is this person is now virulently anti-Trump, blaming him for a host of things that simply have no basis in reality. Previously, we'd shared a belief that Trump isn't our favorite president, he's badly flawed, and while I'd been more ambivalent, we basically weren't too far apart.
Yesterday, I realized his experience caused him to jump the shark and become a full-on Trump hater. I don't understand how you can blame Trump for a virus, or even the response to it. This is a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. H1N1 was, so far, more damaging than Covid worlwide, and it also cut a broad swathe across demographics. Covid has not finished its tour yet - but is clearly very specific in its opportunism. The primary difference that I have noticed in the nature and spread of H1N1 and Covid is that Covid erupted mightily in New York City (media capital) while H1N1 was more damaging to other regions of the US. There could be much to discuss here. What's clear is H1N1 will be seen as less damaging to the US because fewer people died (lower population in affected areas, more diffuse, etc.), while the media attention of Covid was heightened because our media elites felt threatened and made it the #1 story to scare people. Few people will remember Obama's slow (and ultimately meaningless) response to H1N1, nor will they remember that nobody blamed him for over 13,000 deaths. It was a virus.
A newly released study shows how widespread Covid likely is. I shared this with my friend, but was rebuffed entirely. No interest in viewing useful information.
Continue reading "Unfortunate Fallout"
Saturday, April 18. 2020
My world, like all of yours probably, shrank dramatically 36 days ago. It shrank even more 2 weeks after that when I tested positive for Covid. I'm now a full 10 days since my last symptoms, but I'm not healthy yet, for a variety of reasons. I'd say I'm 95%. So let's pick through what's been going on.
To begin with, there's 'reinfection' taking place, although at very low levels. I'm skeptical of these stories. My guess is these are relapses. I almost experienced a relapse, as did other people I know, when I thought I was healthy enough to rake leaves for one hour. ONE HOUR. That was 4 days after the last symptoms. Nope. Wound up in bed the whole next day. Another person (who had scolded me telling me to be more careful) thought it wise to try and cut his lawn the day after I tried to rake. 6 days out, he wound up in bed for a day after only pushing the mower for 10 minutes. Still another, crazier, friend went for a 3 mile run a week after. He finished a mile and had to struggle to walk home, spending 2 days in bed. My feeling is people recover, feel good, try to do too much, and relapse. Since my raking adventure, I've only gone on walks. None longer than an hour, once a day. I'm still winded, but feeling stronger. As the linked article points out, "For now, the most likely explanation of why people are retesting positive seems to be that the test is picking up remnants of the virus." I'm sure if I was tested again, I'd likely be positive.
So I'm taking it easy, not pushing it. I'll try to push a little a week from now, when I'll (hopefully) feel much better. I've regained 3 of the 8 pounds I lost, so my appetite is back, and that was likely water weight, due to how dehydrated I was.
At this point, I have learned quite a bit more about the nature of what I had. I'm still not overwhelmed by its dangers. I know 10 people who tested positive. I know 10 more who definitely had it, but their doctors told them not to get tested because 'tests are for those in real need'. I have a friend at FEMA, instrumental in doing work in NYC, who told me the scare stories are just scare stories. They saw what was really going on, handling resource procurement and (now) distribution to other states. I know people who lost relatives, and we do believe (as we found out today) a relative who was in a home may have contracted it and died. So I have not said (nor would I say) this is not a dangerous virus. Certainly it requires an abundance of caution and respect. I don't believe in 'solutions' only trade offs, when politics is involved. You have to hurt someone to help someone with a political solution. It is inevitable. As a result, I believe this 'solution' was overkill of the worst kind. The trade offs are starting to be apparent...and will become more stark as they extend this.
Continue reading "Update on Status and Other Things Going On"
Tuesday, April 14. 2020
I was speaking with a friend, prior to the lockdown, about Covid and the political repercussions. His view was the politicians would overreact/overreach for one reason - demographics. He believed, and this is now proving to be correct, that the black population would be disproportionately hit. There are higher incidences of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, alcoholism - all at-risk traits. As a result, there'd be a need to try to 'protect' these people and manage the data. They did a good job with the data, but as usual, you can't hide the truth all the time.
These at-risk traits are the natural result of bondage to the state. As the US moved heavily to institutionalize all kinds of state aid to 'lift up' a downtrodden people, the government created a permanent underclass that is in thrall to the state, and engaging more irresponsible behaviors as a result (please note, I'm not saying black people are irresponsible - this is true of people of many ethnicities who have become multi-generational recipients of state aid). Taking responsibility for one's life is hard, and it's hard work. The state can step in and solve all that for you, though. Free health care, free food, free homes. It's good stuff, if you can get it. You can even become a 'Covid Patriot' full time by just going along with state aid.
So it's no surprise to see calls for 'reparations' for Covid hitting the black population so hard. Yes, they have suffered more. I'm not sure the survivors deserve 'reparations' though. After all, it's hit men disproportionately, too. Perhaps we can have calls for Covid reparations for men?
Thursday, April 9. 2020
As I've been recovering, one thing I've thought about is the next four years. There is still a chance (slim, but still exists) Biden could win. So far it seems Trump continues to consolidate his position. His leadership through this isn't what I'd call strong, but then again I don't pay attention to leaders much. I keep hearing how great Cuomo is, but I don't pay attention to him, either. What little I've seen isn't impressive. After all, he was shrinking health care in New York until he decided to play superman. Not to mention he has his fair share of lies and misrepresentations, as all politicians do.
Regardless of which politician you want to listen to, believe, or support, the reality is we'd get through this with or without leaders. Most plagues in the past weren't worse because of poor leadership. Leadership, however, is what democracy and politics is about. So that's why the election is still important. Nothing has changed from a geo-political standpoint, we still need to present ourselves on the world stage.
That is why I decided to write this, because I'm curious to see how many people are familiar with a certain character who was, not too long ago, elected DA of San Francisco. Chesa Boudin. I was introduced to this character by a good friend and I began reading up on him. I realized he is someone to pay attention to because he may be one of the most dangerous people in the US today. In fact, I've begun to believe the Biden candidacy is a campaign designed to undermine the fundamentals of the Democratic Party, drive it further left, and have more characters like Chesa take over as part of a 'drive for younger people who care and vote'. Sounds conspiratorial, but if you know his life story, it's nothing short of a grooming and it's been stage-managed by a cabal of deeply committed leftists. Look for him to become governor of California and ultimately a player on the national stage, driving a very hard left agenda with him.
I don't think Wikipedia is the be-all-to-end-all resource, but note something about the entry. Totally non-threatening. He seems approachable. He's not appearing as a revolutionary, even though he was raised and indoctrinated by revolutionaries of the deepest hard-left ideologies. The devil will appear as a friend, approachable, likable even. He'll make grand promises, utopian in nature. He'll have a good track record, and will be 'qualified'. He's still the devil. I don't believe this fellow is a bad person - I don't even know him. I wouldn't call him 'the devil'. But his ideology, his supporters' beliefs - that is the work of something truly evil.
Monday, April 6. 2020
I'm now about 12 days into my Covid experience, and I'm getting better. I probably thought I was better than I was. I went out and raked for hour yesterday, trying to benefit from fresh air for the first time and get a little exercise. I was pretty wiped out after that. So I'm resting today. I may have the mild version, but it doesn't make it less difficult to recover from.
However, I'm moving into newer territory. The cough is diminished significantly, the headache has eased, and my main issue now is hydration. I seem to be dehydrated no matter what I do. So I drink a lot of water and Gatorade. But my appetite is back, and I'm finally moving more. Sleep is still at a premium...10 hours every night.
My brother also has it. He has a much tougher version, but he also has adult onset diabetes. So he's at-risk. He's struggled much, much more than I have, had many more symptoms, and is fighting it still. He is also getting better, but at a much slower pace. He warned me not to rake yesterday. He was probably right.
What I'm more concerned about now is not my health, but where we go in the post-shutdown world...
I fear we're not going to move in the best directions. Value structures are a mess. The social shaming over this is an example of the worst of what can happen, and I (sadly) see this as something people will engage in more of.
Thursday, April 2. 2020
Not too long ago, I shared my views on Covid-19 and the lockdown. I still stand by my (often misunderstood) position and I feel that after this is over, I'll still stand as having a well-developed viewpoint. Meanwhile, as we sit in the midst of all this, I am now officially 3 weeks working-from-home. The Covid numbers have continued to rise, the deaths have risen as well, and the newsmedia has...ratcheted up the fear factor as high as possible. Even my sister, down in Florida (where even she admits nothing is happening of any note) is freaking out and running scared.
Well, today I chatted by phone with her and shared with her something I'll share with all of you. I am Covid-19 positive. I found out yesterday.
Let me share some of my own personal thoughts and some of my doctors' comments.
First, I was told "this is a high-powered flu". By 3 different doctors who checked me or spoke with me. Second, "No, there's nothing we can do unless you have respiratory distress, so please monitor yourself carefully." Yup. I do that anyway. Third, there were no lines at the station where I got checked. Called first, drove up, got out, they checked me in a field tent, sent me to another field tent, and did the swab (annoying, but not horrible...a Q-Tip WAY UP into your sinuses). Doesn't hurt. You do sneeze a little.
I am in good general health. I work out regularly, good BP, good pulse rate, not an ox by any standard, but I'll keep up with most people my age, and probably surpass them (55+, in case you're wondering).
My first hints of the virus were on Tuesday 3/24. A little coughing, lots of mucous, etc. Not a dry cough. By Thursday, Mrs. Bulldog was saying "You're coughing too much, I don't want people on our walks to think you have it, so stay home." Fine...I stopped taking walks. I had started having headaches (sinus) anyway. The headaches got worse. By Friday, my head was pounding, the cough was persistent, and it was dry. No fever. No rash. 3 days of (sorry) diarrhea began.
Over the weekend, the headaches intensified, the coughing got worse. I was more or less stuck on the couch watching movies, in a very annoyed frame of mind. By Sunday, it was suggested I get tested.
So we arranged it, and yesterday at 3pm the results were back. Positive.
Of course, by now the headache is starting to fade. It's still there, but Tylenol keeps it reduced. The coughing is still there, but laying down helps it stop (don't lay down too much...no need to promote pneumonia). I've been sleeping 10 hours a night. The really weird things, and there are 2 of them, are the general haziness of frame of mind - I can't concentrate very long - and what I'd call "fever dreams without the fever." I don't know how to describe these, but I have the strangest dreams all night. Then I wake up in the morning very dehydrated and have to drink a pint or two of water.
My doctor voiced concern over the number of cases, but also pointed out that "it's just a flu that is worse for at-risk people, you're not at risk. Just stay vigilant, take care of yourself and you should be fine."
So if this were the normal world - I'd take 2-3 weeks off from work, and get better. Instead, I've had 3 weeks off, and based on current protocol I will have AT LEAST (if my symptoms play out normally) 3 more weeks off (because my office says 2 weeks after cessation).
For what it's worth - most people in the US, after 6 weeks off from work, will be broke. If it goes longer, who knows. At this point, the "cure" is worse than the disease. Trump is right to consider opening some counties as soon as possible - like any other pandemic, this has areas of concentration. We can limit exposure to those regions, and keep the rest of the nation working well.
Stay healthy. Stay vigilant. I do believe there is much more, politically, to play out. At this point I no longer believe it's mainly a health crisis (if it ever was). It's a political one.
ps - I had to inform my HR Department - just a public safety thing. Naturally, I got a call back today...all pre-arranged, and about exactly what I supposed. They were trying to determine if I could have caught it anywhere else but at the office. "AVOID LAWSUITS AT ANY COST" must be their view. Can't blame them, I suppose. Not that it would stop me if I was litigious. Thing is, nobody can EVER prove where they got it from. I commute, via train, every day. I went to the bank. I was playing poker one night with 50 people at a bar the week before being sent home (won $650 and the tournament WITH A ROYAL FLUSH - not a joke, totally telling the truth, I have pictures...it's the poker players' Hole-in-One). So I could have gotten it anywhere...and I admitted that. Because it doesn't matter where I got it from. I KNEW I was going to get it. That was the point of my original article. If you believe you can avoid it, you're fooling yourself. I DO NOT believe social distancing works. But don't worry - they politicians and other liars will convince you it's working.
Thursday, March 19. 2020
Yesterday (3/18) I was watching CBS Morning News. I do tend to watch in the morning before I catch my train, usually not more then 20 minutes to see headlines. Now, working from home, I have tended to watch the entire 3 hours (I watch the local morning portion from 6-7 as I work). I'm no longer surprised at the hyperbole and panic in their reports. Normally it shouldn't matter, but in these unusual times with people watching TV constantly, it's very concerning.
Yes, they do pepper in 'feel good' stories of people giving away products, time, and effort (this morning, a distillery that has shifted to making and giving away sanitizer) in order to limit the panic reporting. These are of a particular type, though. All are about people voluntarily giving of themselves. Key word "voluntarily", something which is rarely mentioned in reporting. I often wonder why.
I found out yesterday when one of the CBS anchors, Jeff Glor, exposed his massive ignorance with this statement (may not be exact, but close enough). "It's nice to see people putting capitalism aside and focusing on cooperation." Wait - WHAT?
Capitalism requires cooperation. Yes, competition is often pointed to as the hallmark of capital. Competition keeps prices down, competition produces innovation, competition leads to forward thinking and proactive behaviors. Competition is critical to capitalism. However, every company would fail if its workers didn't cooperate. Every exchange would fail if the two parties involved did not cooperate because every exchange has to be based on mutual benefit. Every deal between businesses would fail if there wasn't cooperation. Cooperation is essential to every facet of capitalism. I'll compare it to any team sport. The competition between the teams yields high levels of performance from the teams themselves (front office down to the field), but requires the cooperation between teams to set rules, engage in trades, and agree on method of determining winners. It also requires cooperation on the field between team members to make the competition itself intriguing and interesting to watch (or engage in).
This failure on the part of journalists is increasing daily, and it was happening before the panic of the pandemic. It's becoming more common. After all, they are playing to the fears every day. We were told that, at this stage, the number of deaths would double every day. Yesterday, 104 people in the US had died. Today, it's 155. That's close to a 50% increase, which is the highest it's been, and while the number of dead is likely to increase, we shall see if the rate increases. However, the 'model' is still what we're comparing to, and even in regions hardest hit the 'model' hasn't played out. Total worldwide deaths still haven't doubled every day, even with the worst hit places being accounted for. We haven't even topped 10,000. So panic is the only way to describe coverage. We do not know real mortality rates, mainly because we do not know real rates of infection. For what it's worth, I am still convinced I had a very mild form of it already, and several other friends believe they did, as well. None of us have been tested, and I see no reason to be tested.
Jeff Glor's statement, in my opinion, is starting to look more and more like the reason behind the panic. There is an agenda being pushed and it's incumbent upon us to be aware of - and push back against - that agenda with every opportunity we have. Keep informing people that journalists are just tools and these tools are often poorly employed and poorly informed.
Marat's eulogy was given by the Marquis de Sade, a rather fitting person given the ideologies he promoted, which led to the Reign of Terror.
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 10:58 | Comments (10) | Trackbacks (0)
As I spoke with a friend this morning, we discussed the 'freak-out' and I immediately flashed to one of my favorite movies, so I thought I'd share. Wonka loved a good freak-out, and used it to his benefit to get to what he wanted. I don't think it's far-fetched to believe something too dissimilar is going on now. The boat ride was frightening, most of the participants were disturbed, uncomfortable and angry. It seemed the world was ending. Then...destination arrived, all was well and life went on, though not quite as before.
An interesting side note: none of the actors were told what would occur during this scene as it was filmed, many of the reactions are real. The children, unaware that Wilder was going to sing, thought he was going crazy.
Continue reading "What is This, a Freak-Out?"
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 10:04 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, March 18. 2020
Some things to consider in the Covid-19 panic. I've always known Covid is real, and that it's slightly more dangerous than the flu. I'm quite aware of how the mortality rate is considerably higher than some other viral outbreaks, especially with the elderly and those suffering health conditions. I've been less than convinced there is anything we could have done to stop it, short of shutting the nation down completely in January and keeping it shut down for about 2 months....which seems to be where we've gone anyway. That said, even extreme measures are unlikely to stop the spread. I've always supported an abundance of caution. But now that we're here with extreme measures, let's think calmly about HOW we got here.
Fear. Just fear. Yes, many of us would've gotten sick. Yes, some people would die. We can talk all we want about flattening the curve to keep hospital facilities from being overrun...while ignoring how herd immunity is being compromised. Furthermore, in shutting down in the manner we did, we basically sent people on 5 days of panic shopping whereby anyone infected and shopping was busy spreading the virus. It seems to me, the 'cure' is just as bad as letting it run its course. By increasing fear and panic, and even potentially the spread.
What's really concerning to me, however, is less the health issue and more the socio-political issue. This is the largest non-partisan event of our lifetime, and it's been heavily politicized. To that point, consider this - Democrats, who only a week ago complained that President Trump was abusing power, now are complaining that he isn't using enough power to 'fix' this.
Continue reading "Some Notes From Home"
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