Coronaroundup: Nick Saban Edition

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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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  1. Avatar Michael Cain
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    C4 – The students I feel the worst for are the ones who just had their junior year screwed up, and are looking at having the same thing happen to their senior year. At least as I remember things, those were the classes I took as an undergraduate — at least within my majors — that would have been the hardest to convert to online and still deliver what I got out of them.Report

    • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to Michael Cain
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      It may depend a bit on discipline. This spring, I had intro bio for majors (freshman level), soil science (soph/junior) and ecology (junior/senior) have to go on line.

      Lectures went….okay. I would have liked to have done some discussion and I tried having Zoom office hours but apparently a lot of people struggled with connectivity.

      Labs….mostly didn’t happen. For ecology, I gave them canned data from previous years’ sampling labs and showed them how to analyze it (I am looking for something different for fall, just in case – found some good online simulations that will develop “random” data within certain parameters)

      For fall, I have intro bio again, and ecology again, and also a stats class (which will be a dungshow if I can’t get on campus to be recorded from a whiteboard – I can’t get the Zoom whiteboard to work with my crappy touchpad control) and a environmental policy and law class that could be okay-ish online if I could get a critical mass of the class in a Zoom room for class discussion. IDK.

      Our fall enrollment is still down but less down (10% as opposed to 20%) than it was a few weeks ago…Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to fillyjonk
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        …and also a stats class (which will be a dungshow if I can’t get on campus to be recorded from a whiteboard – I can’t get the Zoom whiteboard to work with my crappy touchpad control)…

        Two (or more) people talking math will eventually need a chalkboard, whiteboard, or even piece of paper to write and draw on. I have begged my friends in tech research at places like Intel to develop a good replacement for a pen and pad of paper: 150 dpi or better display with near pixel accuracy stylus input and you can rest your hand/arm on it while you’re writing. We’re finally starting to see things like this for sale. But, $400 and 4.5 pounds. Reportedly, Zoom’s whiteboard will work with the Wacom One.

        Edited to add: Have you tried attaching a cheap graphics tablet to your computer?Report

  2. Avatar Michael Cain
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    says:

    C3 — Regime changes, where there are fundamental shifts in how things work, are the hardest things to get right in modeling (which is what AI and algorithms do). Among other problems, there are a lot fewer examples to study.Report

  3. Avatar LeeEsq
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    says:

    C4- Cambridge University announced that all lectures will be online only until the Summer of 2021. This is a fascinating experiment because Oxbridge is basically the ur-elite residential school used for networking and gaining polish. They are what our Ivys are based on. So even if the students are on campus, their lectures will be online.Report

    • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to LeeEsq
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      says:

      They are on-line only for lectures, there will be either small group learning (labs, discussion groups). It seems like this was precipitated by a UK regulatory agency announcing that colleges have to give students warnings if they are going online, otherwise they should be able to back out. Colleges can charge full tuition for on-line, but its subject to full disclosures.Report

  4. Avatar Dark Matter
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    says:

    RE: {C7}

    Bans on evictions and rental spikes could have the main effect of simply pushing out small investors, rather than protecting renters.

    Yes.

    In a more good-faith economy this would be less of an issue because landlords would work with tenants.

    This statement assumes everyone the landlord owes money to, i.e. the tax man, the mortgage companies, also are willing to work on “good-faith”.

    Favouring renters over landlords increases landlord risk, decreases their profit, and thus decreases the supply of rental stock. Doing things like suspending landlord taxes during the crisis would be useful and not playing games with other people’s money.

    Big picture if we’re interested in lowering rents we need to increase rental stock, which means making easier to be a landlord and not harder/riskier.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Dark Matter
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      says:

      Correct. Good faith needed all around.

      That said, good faith aside… it’s not clear what good it does a landlord to clear a tenant out of a unit nobody is going to be moving into any time soon. That’s probably less the case for people the borrowers owe money to (they can repossess the property and sell when the real estate market rebounds) but even there I think that’s often the wrong play.Report

      • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        it’s not clear what good it does a landlord to clear a tenant out of a unit nobody is going to be moving into any time soon.

        This is a decision I’d like to leave up to the landlords.

        Worst case is we’re keeping current tenants there when there are viable tenants around. In really tight housing markets this may also be the expected case.Report

  5. Avatar Saul Degraw
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    says:

    I find it hard to compare 1918 to now because they obviously did not have a lot of the technology we have. It would be interesting to do a study on how much the Internet lets us shelter in place.

    I’m inclined to agree with Dr. Oster.Report

  6. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    C5: Abstinence Only Education used to be a big thing. That and condoms. Condoms, condoms, condoms. We had MTV telling us about condoms. Remember Left Eye wearing a condom in her glasses? Good times. We had commercials showing C. Everett Koop testifying before Congress.

    We need a better job of discussing what is and is not safe, though. I have heard that outdoor transmission is vanishingly rare. If that is true, then maybe hanging with friends on an unenclosed back porch is okay? I mean, if you don’t go through the house first but instead go around and go through the back yard?

    I also understand that the current term is not “safe sex” but “safer sex”.

    I imagine we’ll see such an evolution with Corona, assuming that a vaccine isn’t likely anytime soon (like, the next year or so).Report

    • Avatar InMD in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      About a week ago I finally gave up and had a few beers with my buddy on his patio. Selfish and stupid I suppose but we kept our distance and I don’t see how it was any more dangerous than the occasional close-ish proximity encounters I have walking or jogging around the neighborhood. As usual it seems like harm reduction is lost in the politics of making the perfect the enemy of the good.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to InMD
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        In my mind beers with friends is one of those things they should have given a lot of ground on with some good advice like avoiding large groups or visiting with different groups every day or things like that.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to InMD
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        says:

        I read somewhere on the internet that all of the documented cases of transmission, except two, were indoors.

        Like, millions have had it.

        Two is, like, amazingly small. (Were they kissing or something?)

        I wear a mask when I go to work and the couple of times I’ve gone and interacted with the credit union via drive through, I was the guy wearing a mask in his car while using gloves to handle the tube and wiping everything down with those precious, precious Lysol wipes.

        But I don’t wear a mask when I go jogging. It’s not like I jog with people and I swerve into the sidewalk or street or something if I can tell I’m 20 seconds from being in someone’s path… is that just being reasonable, given how the virus reacts to being outside in sunlight? Is it being unnecessarily selfish?Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          I think it has less to do with sunlight than with ventilation, but I don’t think the available evidence provides a good reason to wear a mask outdoors, unless there are a lot of people around.Report

      • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to InMD
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        says:

        If the Tyrants still allow us to buy kegs of beer, they surely intend us to party, amirite?Report

  7. Avatar Kazzy
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    says:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/05/patchwork-pandemic-states-reopening-inequalities/611866/

    Talk about moving goalposts. We flattened the curve and are now scolded because “a mesa is worse than a Matterhorn.” Um… what?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      This is one thing that I don’t think can really be undersold. We went into “Safe At Home” in March.

      It’s now Memorial Day.

      I think that there are two ways to do the whole “we can come back out when” thing.

      1. Name a date. We can come back out when it’s June.
      2. Name a set of circumstances. We can come back out when the number of new cases has hit this benchmark 4 days in a row (on Tuesday-Friday numbers! None of this Friday-Monday crap!)

      (And if you don’t like “number of new cases”, pick another benchmark. I don’t care what it is.)

      In the absence of either of those, we’re going to find that there are a whole bunch of people who, in the face of uncertainty, just start living “As If”.

      And it’s easy for me to say that they should just continue doing Safe At Home… because it’s easy for me to continue doing Safe At Home.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Jaybird
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        They’re doing #2. Most of the states have a bunch of benchmarks (and a lot of those that don’t are the ones that are just opening up regardless).

        I may have a post in me about this, but I don’t think doing #2 is quite right, or quite enough. Independent of what we accomplish that allows us to open up as we hit various benchmarks, I think we need to be looking closely at what we can do just to make the situation more bearable. The more bearable things are, the longer people will tolerate it.

        I think that’s what they really didn’t keep in mind. Instead they just went for a “The more locked down the better” with various allowances as necessary with too limited a definition of necessary. While from an epidemiological perspective the more locked down the better is true, there are other considerations. There are other *medical* considerations, such as mental health.

        They misunderstood a public acceptance of an abundance of caution as being a limitless mandate to do whatever it takes. So they originally thought that we were going to be able to be locked down to a substantial until next year or maybe the year after. They still think closing the schools this fall is a real option. They can argue all the way about how it is what we *should* do, but it doesn’t matter if we’re not going to do it.

        None of this absolves, in my mind, those that wanted to go into the breach since the beginning. Many of which have not only undermined the lockdown but undermined very basic steps we could have taken to make the lockdown more necessary (masks, social distancing, now contact tracing). One is a frustrating miscalculation, the other is straight up recklessness.

        But there is no limitless mandate. An acquaintance who is a strong lefty and very health-conscious dropped her kid that she loves off at preschool the very first day she could and then literally cried with relief at being able to do so.

        Contrary to populist belief, there is no public outcry to reopen. It’s not the popular belief. But if it’s not sustainable it’s not an option.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
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          says:

          I agree with pretty much all of this.

          “They misunderstood a public acceptance of an abundance of caution as being a limitless mandate to do whatever it takes.”

          Yeah. I am 100% down with an abundance of caution. I’ve filled up my gas tank exactly once since March.

          But this shit ain’t sustainable.

          And I say that as one of the people who have it easy.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird
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            says:

            Speaking of “having it easy”… and I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me to share this earlier…

            I’m seeing more and more nannies and caregivers on the Zoom calls/classes I do with my students. I know some families had their caregivers join them out of state, essentially quarantining with them. But others seem to have folded them into the mix and/or are having them come and go from their homes in the city (likely via public transportation or car service of some kind). I don’t know if that is a uniquely New York City upper echelon phenomenon, but I’d be curious how the feelings about shut downs — specifically of schools are day cares — differ among those who have some sort of help with their childcare versus those that don’t.

            Speaking more personally, I’m also curious how it differs for single parents versus those with multiple parents. And how it differs for families with parents working on the frontlines (some of whom are still able to access child care facilities) versus those who have both parents home (working or not).

            Our situation is such that I am home alone with the boys the vast majority of the time, while still working (though my schedule could reasonably be considered “part time”). Zazzy is an essential worker (admin/support at a hospital system). She is continuing to do her nights/weekends with the boys. Technically, we could put our younger son into a free child care setting serving essential workers, but I think that’d tax what little emotional reserves he has at this point.

            Long way of saying… not only do some folks have this easier than others, but some have the means to make it easier still and are doing so. But I wonder what their public-facing comments are like.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy
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              says:

              Let’s say that I have it pretty easy. I can do 85%+ of my job from home and while I have to go in one day a week, I can get away with not going in two days a week. While at work, I’m pretty isolated. I spend extended amounts of time either alone in rooms or in rooms the size of a basketball court with only one or two other people in them.

              I could pretty easily get away with saying “we need to have lockdowns until we have a vaccine!” and follow it up with “if it saves even one life!”

              Because, hey, I can get my groceries delivered and I can go jogging and I only have to go into the office one day a week.

              The people who can’t? The people who deliver me my groceries? The people who sell them the groceries that they then deliver to me?

              Why do you keep bringing them up? IF IT SAVES EVEN ONE LIFE!Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                I’m not sure that we’re disagreeing here?

                I just found it interesting that my parent population, which are all Manhattanites (though may be quarantining elsewhere because, hey, they can), skew heavily liberal, and range from middle-class-in-NYC-but-rich-everywhere-else to rich-everywhere are bringing in nannies, caregivers, and other domestic help, often requiring them to commute in and out. They’re breaking quarantine because it is helpful to them to do so.

                Are they also calling for an end to quarantine? I wonder…Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy
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                says:

                I’m not disagreeing at all.

                I’m mostly frustrated that I don’t have the information and context I need.

                I saw a tweet earlier today that said that a mere 1.8% of the population is in assisted living but this population is responsible for 42% of the deaths.

                Which, if true, is one of those things that makes me wonder about the other 58%… and whether the 58% shares an equally unequally distributed trait.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Coronavirus in Canada: 81 percent of deaths in nursing homes, report says
                https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/coronavirus-in-canada-81-percent-of-deaths-in-nursing-homes-report-says/ar-BB14gqgK

                And from what I have seen, it is similar numbers from around the world. I think the average age of death is, what, 80? I would bet dollars to donuts that home health care is a factor here in the states, as we don’t put people in large wards when they go to hospitals. Things like hospice care, palliative care, and so on.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Aaron David
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                says:

                PA had something like more deaths over 80 then under 70. Really crazy numbers.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Kazzy
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                says:

                Eyeballing the CDC numbers, in the typical week the largest single group of deaths is ages 85 and over. The 2nd largest is ages 75-84.

                My off hand expectation is the median age of death is above 80.

                So yes, I expect crazy lopsided numbers if you compare death tolls of those above 80 to under 70. Basically ages under 45 rounds to less than 5%.

                https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid_weekly/index.htmReport

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman
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          says:

          I agree that leadership assuming more restrictions was necessarily better was pretty foolish.
          I also think they’ve done a poor job explaining the restrictions. A friend recently posted on FB wondering why you can get drive up cocktails but can’t get a haircut. As far as I understand it, those two decisions (allowing one, not allowing the other) make sense both individually and taken together. BUT, no explanation was given and the result is many folks thinking, “This is just bullshit,” and being less likely to adhere to the rules.

          Our leadership has eroded a lot of trust that they really, really, really need right now. Which may be one of the biggest obstacles they have to overcome.

          This article — while not coming from any official leadership — is part of that. I think you are increasingly going to see people saying, “We did what we were told. We got the results you said we were seeking. Why are you not opening up? Or why are you clamping down even harder?” MAYBE there is good reason for that… but you have to make that case. Folks can probably endure quarantine longer than they realize, especially if it is made bearable. But people have a much lower tolerance for bullshit and feeling jerked around.Report

        • Avatar InMD in reply to Will Truman
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          says:

          The way we’ve done this has set us up for the end being based on when people start to say f-this as opposed to on some evidentiary basis. I kind of understand why that happened. As you note there have been idiots from the beginning undermining the effort. What would suck is if we end up with a worst of all worlds where the stay at home orders didn’t achieve anything due to being both too strong and too weak at the same time.Report

        • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Will Truman
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          says:

          I agree the polls show general support, but many of the polls further down ask questions like: “Should ____________ be able to open if it can maintain social-distancing?” And the blank can be filled with small retail/ religious services/ restaurants, and get a majority in favor. I think people are in favor of ‘lockdown’ that has benefits like staying at home, but want the full panoply of retail options while ‘locked-down.’ Or maybe all they really like is the social-distancing aspects.

          Also, I noticed my state’s legislature overruled the governor’s emergency rule to fine non-compliant businesses (technically the Governor withdrew it while it was being debated), and declined to pass a law clarifying the legality of his emergency orders. It looks to me like they sense, or are scared, that opinion could change significantly by the elections. And I believe the Democrats have a super-majority. They don’t want to embarrass the governor, but they don’t want to stand too close. Oh, and let’s give tax breaks to the Chicago casino in the midst of an emergency.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman in reply to PD Shaw
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            says:

            That’s fair. I would mostly characterize people as open to reopening but not clamoring for it. That can be characterized with any side. My main point is discounting the positive rather than demonstrating the reverse.Report

            • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Will Truman
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              says:

              I don’t know Will. I just spent the weekend in Bend, and people were out in force, though not as much as a normal Memorial day. But, the state and fed parks were filled, people were eating in restaurants, shopping and so on. And this is a primary tourist destination of a very liberal city. In other words, I am not sure the polls are accuratly capturing what is going on, versus what people are saying.

              Revealed preferance and all that.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Aaron David
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                says:

                I’d agree with this. I think people support the idea of a lock down, but don’t want to be locked down. And increasingly the latter is winning out.

                The county parks in my area have been limited to 50% capacity, primarily enforced by roping off sections of the parking lot (there is one in my town we can walk to, so this is only so effective). Today, I had to circle twice before finding a spot. And others were parking illegally within the lots. Now, it was a very nice day, but we’ve had nice weather all week and we don’t exactly need a long holiday weekend to enjoy the park these days. But you throw all those factors together and end up with people parking illegally at the park. Go figure.Report

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