“Critchley leafs through the pages of his register and concludes, as did Montaigne, that the consolation of philosophy is ‘the stillness of the soul’s dialogue with itself. … It is the achievment of a...
from Poem 64 by Catullus, translated by Horace Gregory (Some people don’t like Gregory’s translation because of his somewhat freewheeling liberties with the text. But I find his work to be by far the...
Using Geraldo Rivera as a barometer of Latino opinion is probably a bad idea, but there was something oddly touching about this (via): I have goosebumps,” says Rivera, 65, born to a Catholic, Puerto...
After an unbearably over-hyped build-up, Barcelona’s 2-0 victory over Manchester United was pretty darn anti-climactic. Adding insult to injury, the match forced casual or otherwise unaffiliated fans to choose the lesser of two (great)...
Matthew Schmitz wants counter-conservatives to stop attacking the right-wing talk radio pundits: If the goal of Conor and others who have attacked talk radio is to save the Republican Party, I’m at a loss...
“A series of cataclysmic events leads to the annihilation of a war-mongering elite. All that remains is a rogue group of working-class types who are motivated by racial resentment, obsessed with drilling, and led...
Commenter Mike Farmer expresses an objection to my and Mr. Larison’s defenses of Judge Sotomayor’s “wise Latina woman” comment that I suspect is pretty typical and has strong surface appeal: She might have a...
Daniel Larison has put together some excellent thoughts on the current leading objections to Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the SCOTUS. I have my differences with Larison’s preferred jurisprudence, but he does a far better...
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="1024"] Photo by Teresa Trimm[/caption]
A couple weeks back our Saul DeGraw wrote a piece called Life Under Quarantine where he relayed some of his thoughts and observations about this weird time in which we live.
This was one of the comments:
This commenter wrote a whole chain of these remarks, and they were quite witty. They would have made for a marvelous standalone piece, scathing social commentary, one I would have praised to the skies. But the way they were presented, as comments on an individual author's article and in response to other commenters who chimed in to commiserate with the author, rankled me.
One of my personal pet peeves is when a person has a problem in this world, and ok maybe it's not the HUGEST problem ever, but it's irritating and painful to them, and someone chimes in to mock or correct them, telling them they don't have it that bad, that it could always be worse, yadda yadda yadda.
Now, this may surprise you since I write regularly about how terrible things were in the past and how we should look at our ancestors with more sympathy and understanding, and also that we who live in modern times should have a greater appreciation for the miraculous age in which we live. But those are observations in the general sense. Food for thought. Not a personal rebuke directed at any one person. When I write that type of article, I'm not intentionally coming out swinging against a specific individual.* I'm simply trying to provide historical and cultural perspective OVERALL, for people to think about or not as they so choose, instead of as a personal attack designed to embarrass someone.
I just find it rather unkind when people say "hey, I'm struggling right now" and the response is to pile on.
If you hit your thumb with a hammer, it hurts. It doesn't matter in that moment if there are people with thumb cancer or people born without thumbs or people whose thumbs are withering away from malnutrition in Outer Absurdistan. You still feel pain, great pain, even if you know that pain will go away in time, even if you know it's not literally the worst thing that has ever happened in human history. It hurts and people should respect that and provide comfort when their fellow human being is in pain, even if way down deep inside you don't think it's THAT big of a deal. And if you really can't provide comfort, if their complaints are so minor that you just can't even with that, then just walk away. Say nothing. Saying nothing is always an option. It is human nature to reach out to others when you're in pain, when you're scared, when you feel isolated, and that should not be an opening for some jerk to come in with another hammer and whack that thumb again.
Are there people out there who may be complaining a little TOO much sometimes? Sure. Should we all count our blessings way more than we do? Absolutely. I agree that there are many folks out there who are in dire need of a little perspective. But surely this perspective doesn't need to be in the form of a personal attack or a public rebuke - from which no one has ever learned anything from anyway. Personal attacks are made not to teach or inform, but to make the attacker feel a temporary frisson of pleasure at the expense of another, and I am of the opinion that personal attacks about people's coronavirus/quarantine anxiety are yet another pleasure we should probably forgo right now.
I think we can probably all agree the coronavirus quarantine is a lousy situation to find ourselves in, even if it is not the literally worst thing that has ever happened to a human being, even if the things we are mourning are as minor as the ability to purchase street tacos. And even a hangnail hurts. Complaining about small, relatable pains - hangnails and paper cuts and sunburns and mosquito bites and feeling awkward at parties and chomping down on the inside of our cheek really bad 17 times in a row - is one of those things that brings us together as human beings. We have all experienced pain, and loss, and fear, it sucks and it's part of the human condition to seek sympathy from others when we're hurting.
The last thing anyone needs right now is a big squeeze of lemon juice rubbed into their wounds.
*I admit I'm not perfect and have not always been a paragon of virtue on this site or on Twitter. Please respect me trying to do something positive here rather than take the opportunity to pedantically go back and screenshot things I've said that I probably shouldn't have. I admit I don't always live up to my lofty goals, but at least I have them.
Comparing my bank statements with my current bank activity, I realize how much I was going out to eat, back in the BQ (Before Quarantine). This should probably be made into a durable lifestyle change and persist into the AQ (After Quarantine), rather than an interim adjustment for DQ (During Quarantine) purposes only.
I subscribe to Imperfect Produce, so that reduces my need to go to the store. I've been getting lots of citrus and getting myself some kind of citrus juice almost every morning. Fresh-squeezed juice tastes great. I probably can't blame just the citrus juice for my weight gain, though: I've got salty crunchy snacks and elastic-waistband sweat pants, and I'm quite willing to use both.
One thing I wish were still open were the animal shelter. This would have been the perfect time to have adopted a dog, being home all the time.
Thinking about all that juice and all those snacks, and my dwindling (but soon-to-be-replenished) supply of homebrew, I found an old jump rope in the basement. Rolled out my yoga mat in my upstairs home office, and now I'm starting to use it. Turns out, jumping rope is quite difficult and I really suck at it. Still, I hope this can persist into the AQ.
My husband is our designated leave-the-house person, which basically means he goes to the grocery store once a week. I’m appreciative, but there’s a trade-off:
He shops like he’s a contestant on Supermarket Sweep.
Brand name everything. Organics. Multiple packages of expensive junk foods that were not on the carefully curated list I gave him. Toiletry and household items that would have cost half as much at the Dollar General. Today, he successfully smashed our family record for most money spent on a single grocery trip.
Granted, prices are a little elevated right now, and it was a stock-up. I probably would have broken the record, too, if I’d gone myself. But he blew it out of the water. Like, he doubled what I normally spend...but did not procure double the groceries.
I was a good sport about it, though. I just ribbed him good-naturedly, while the two of us sat out on the back deck, washing our groceries down with Clorox wipes.
Ten Things I Think I Think About COVID As of April 3
[caption id="attachment_326974" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention / Public domain[/caption]
1. Almost every analysis of the plague progression relies on the number of positive tests and/or the number of deaths. I think these numbers are so unreliable as to be only marginally useful. Many tests give unacceptable high false-negative numbers. Many infected are not getting tested. Many deaths are not being counted. These data may be useful for telling if and when we’re bending the curve in individual countries. But be very cautious of drawing grand conclusions from them.
2. The new blood tests are being touted as a way for people to get back to work once they’ve had it. I don’t put much faith in that right now. Again, the false positive rate is too high. And blood tests are not cheap.
3. We have no idea if chloroquine works. Only three studies have been published and all three are seriously flawed. Unlike Orac, I don't object to a kitchen sink approach in desperate times. But temper your expectations.
4. Social distancing seems to be working in that most of the curves are flattening instead of continuing on an exponential course. But that's not 100% clear yet. The new push for wearing masks will be a force multiplier for it, though.
5. A lot of our strategy hinges on a vaccine being available in 2021. Maybe. But vaccines are tricky things. In the end, our only option may be slowing the pandemic as it kills millions worldwide.
6. The PPE crisis is far more important than the ventilator shortage. Only a small fraction of those who go on ventilators survive. Meanwhile, doctors are being exposed to massive doses of the virus, which may worsen their outcomes.
7. Supply chains are a concern, particularly on food. The problem isn't so much a shortage of food -- although that could become a problem if migrant labor is hit by this. It's that our food supply chains are geared for us eating half of our food in restaurants. I suspect we will adapt. But that probably means buying huge shipments of ground beef instead of individual patties.
8. We haven't even begun to feel the economic pain.
9. The headline is needlessly hysterical, but it's hard to imagine anyone more unqualified for this crisis than Jared Kushner.
10. Despite all of this, I am trying to remain optimistic. We're going into a very rough and dangerous time. But if we keep our heads, we can emerge from it. I won't say we're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel yet. But I will say we're seeing that it is indeed a tunnel and not a bottomless pit.
(I originally stole this bit from Stephen Bainbridge but I don't think the concept is original to him.)
The torrent of Americans filing for unemployment insurance continued last week as more than 6.6 million new claims were filed, the Labor Department reported Thursday. That brings to 10 million the total Americans who filed over the past two weeks.
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones estimated 3.1 million, a week after 3.3 million filings in the first wave of what has been a record-shattering swelling of the jobless ranks. The previous week’s total was revised higher by 24,000.
On an unadjusted basis, the total was 5.8 million, a number that some economists consider more relevant as seasonal adjustments are less relevant due to the unusual impact the coronavirus-induced shutdown has had on the U.S. economy.
The 4-week moving average, which smooths fluctuations, was 2.054 million, up 327,250 from aw eek ago and the highest since Jan. 14, 2017.
Before the coronavirus shut down major parts of the U.S. economy, the highest week for claims was 695,000 in 1982. The Great Recession high was 665,000 in March 2009.
However, the sudden stop as the government has instituted social distancing policies caused a cascade of joblessness unlike anything the nation has ever seen.
Those at the lower end of the wage scale have been especially hard-hit during a crisis that has seen businesses either cut staff outright or at best freeze any new hiring until there’s more visibility about how efforts to contain the coronavirus will work.
For the first time in 8 years, Bob Dylan has released new music. "Murder Most Foul" is a 17-minute epic that starts as a graphic retelling of the Kennedy assassination, but then turns into a sprawling take on culture in the Sixties and beyond.
Senate Leaders, President Trump Reach Deal for $2 Trillion Stimulus Package
The US Senate gaveled out of session in the early morning hours of Wednesday, announcing what Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called "largest rescue package in American history" was finally ready.
Senate leaders and the Trump administration reached agreement early Wednesday on a $2 trillion stimulus package to rescue the economy from the coronavirus assault, setting the stage for swift passage of the massive legislation through both chambers of Congress.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced the breakthrough on the Senate floor around 1:30 a.m., after a long day of talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other administration officials.
“At last we have a deal,” McConnell said. “After days of intense discussion, the Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement on a historic relief package for this pandemic. ... I’m thrilled that we’re finally going to deliver for the country that has been waiting for us to step up.”
“Help is on the way, big help and quick help,” Schumer said. “We’re going to take up and pass this package to care for those who are now caring for us, and help carry millions of Americans through these dark economic times.”
The agreement capped five straight days of intensive negotiations that occasionally descended into partisan warfare as the nation’s economy reeled from the deadly pandemic, with schools and businesses closed, mass layoffs slamming the workforce and tens of thousands falling ill.
The legislation, unprecedented in its size and scope, aims to flood the economy with capital by sending $1,200 checks to many Americans, creating a $367 billion loan program for small businesses and setting up a $500 billion fund for industries, cities and states.
Other provisions include a massive boost to unemployment insurance, $150 billion for state and local stimulus funds and $130 billion for hospitals.
McConnell said the Senate would pass the legislation later Wednesday. With the House out of session, action there could take longer, depending on whether lawmakers can agree to pass the bill by “unanimous consent,” which would require agreement from all members of the chamber.
Class Action Being Filed Against Airbnb On Behalf Of Airbnb Hosts
The move for a "Phase 3" coronavirus stimulus package is not going well. Or anywhere fast.
Senate Democrats blocked a massive coronavirus stimulus bill from moving forward Sunday in the Senate, as partisan disputes raged over the legislation that’s aimed at arresting the economy’s precipitous decline.
Negotiations continued even as the initial procedural vote fell short, with 47 senators voting in favor and 47 opposed. The tally was well short of the 60 votes that were needed to move forward. The number of “aye” votes was especially low because five Republicans are quarantined over coronavirus fears.
Although senators of both parties and Trump administration officials vowed to continue negotiating -- around the clock if necessary -- the failed vote was the latest negative signal about Congress’ ability to come together around the legislation, which aims to inject close to $1.8 trillion into businesses and households. Policy makers are scrambling to address a spike in layoffs and businesses gasping for assistance as millions of Americans stay home to avoid contagion.
Ever since Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) introduced the legislation Thursday night, senators have missed one self-imposed deadline after another to reach a deal. The vote Sunday evening was delayed three hours so talks could continue after it became clear it would fail, but no resolution was reached and it failed anyway.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was not happy:
#VirusVote: Senate fails to advance phase 3 #coronavirus stimulus bill 47-47, after Democrats opposed Big business bailout money, with limited relief for working families.