Quarantine Notes: 4/27/20

I think what blows my mind is the scale of the incompetence on display in the Trump administration when it comes to dealing with COVID-19. Like, I can’t get my head around how utterly, completely incapable you have to be to screw up on the scale of Trump.

I am no one, and I know nothing, especially when it comes to dealing with worldwide pandemics. And yet, I’m 100% positive that if you plucked me off the street 6 months ago and told me there was a pandemic on its way and I had to deal with it, I could do a better job than Trump has.

Bare minimum, I would have known to hire a whole bunch of people smarter than me to deal with this crap, which would put me leaps and bounds ahead of Trump.

Notes below. Updates through the day.

๐ŸŠ Back in the beginning of March, Trump was forced to cancel his campaign rallies. He replaced those fairly quickly with his daily press briefings, a bonanza of bullshit broadcast live across the nation. Then he suggested that everyone inject disinfectants into themselves to fight COVID-19, which, NO, DO NOT, THAT IS BAD, and he got roasted so fucking hard over that he spent the weekend sulking and pouting. He canceled his press briefings, and got roasted for that too, so apparently they’re back on again. Jesus.

๐Ÿ’ฃ The lockdowns are giving US extremists the time to get even more extreme and squirrelly. Nice.

๐ŸŠ Trump wants to use the pandemic as leverage to force the Post Office to make the changes he wants. FYI, Trump wants to make those changes specifically to screw over Amazon, because Trump’s mad that Jeff Bezos is actually the successful billionaire that Trump pretends to be. Of course, these changes will screw average Americans.

๐Ÿฆ  The COVID-19 pandemic started way earlier than we thought it did.

๐Ÿšจ So Joe Biden is being accused of rape by a woman named Tara Reade, a situation I’ve been keeping an eye on. Initial reporting sounded a bit fishy, but since then a lot of bigger organizations have been reporting this story out, and folks, it looks pretty legit. And, I don’t know what to tell you about that. I just don’t. Obviously I’m not going to vote for Trump. I mean, for one thing, Trump’s probably raped way more women than Joe Biden has, and I guess that’s how we have to judge this shit now. Maybe Biden will do the decent thing and step down, and we can vote for Bernie instead. Otherwise, I guess in November I’ll be voting for the least rapey rapist. Awesome. I love politics.

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Nancy Pelosi is making noise about “guaranteed income” (AKA, universal basic income) in the next coronavirus relief bill. I don’t believe for a hot second we’ll see anything like that happen, but interesting that the idea’s gotten mainstream enough for someone like Pelosi to be talking about it. Points to Andrew Yang.

๐ŸŠ Trump tweeted today, “Why should the people and taxpayers of America be bailing out poorly run states (like Illinois, as example) and cities, in all cases Democrat run and managed, when most of the other states are not looking for bailout help? I am open to discussing anything, but just asking?” (In case he deletes, because he went on a tweet-delete binge this weekend: pic, Bloomberg article.)

๐Ÿ’ฉ I could spend all day every day debunking the ridiculous conspiracy theories that have sprung up around COVID-19, which I am not going to do because all this terrible television isn’t going to watch itself. But I did see one today about how the flu vaccine makes COVID-19 worse, which, for the record, is bullshit.

๐Ÿฆ  We had a bunch of news this weekend about scary “new” symptoms (IE, symptoms they just decided were related) of COVID-19, including strokes in healthy 30- and 40-year-olds, sudden kidney failure, sudden heart failure, and a whole bunch of other terrible things, and I don’t know about you, but I’m just going to pretend I don’t know about any of that shit because I like being able to fall asleep at night.

๐ŸŠ Meanwhile, Trump refused to take any responsibility for people drinking bleach over the weekend, a thing that actually happened in the real world in 2020, and then, when he was asked if he deserved to be re-elected considering more than 50,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 so far, he said he did a great job, then ended his press rally and left.

Rough weekend for news, you guys. Ug. I’m gonna go walk my dog or something.

Quarantine Notes: 4/23/20

Yesterday turned out to be a pretty busy day. Today isn’t shaping up to be quite as busy, but it is full of Zoom meetings, so this’ll just be a quick rundown of all the news and interesting reads that have leapt out at me over the last couple of days.

All right, I’m out for more meetings. See y’all tomorrow.

Quarantine Notes: 4/21/20

It’s a gray and dreary day where I’m at, which is not making me feel particularly motivated. ๐Ÿ˜ด

Quarantine notes below; updates through the day.

๐Ÿ“ฐ The New York Times has a look at what we can expect for the rest of the year. It’s not what we used to call “normal,” but there’s some hope.

๐Ÿ’Š The latest study on hydroxychloroquine, the drug Trump’s been hyping, shows no benefit and it resulted in more patient deaths. This wasn’t a controlled, proper study, just a retrospective, so the result here isn’t carved in stone. But still, not great news.

๐Ÿ‘‰ COVIDExitStrategy.org is a page full of resources and recommendations for stepping back out of pandemic mode. Lots of good information there. It’s put together by a group of public health and crisis experts with lots of government experience.

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ According to Andy Slavitt, a former Obama appointee who seems to have made it his pandemic mission to coordinate literally everything, the Senate has reached a deal on re-funding the Payroll Protection Program and will vote on it today. Seriously, Slavitt’s a good follow on Twitter. He also has a Medium blog, but he’s not as fast at keeping that updated.

๐ŸŠ Late last night, Trump tweeted, “In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!” Which is like, what the fuck. Okay, “invisible enemy” capitalized? It’s a virus, not a goddamn ghost. Also, WTF does immigration have to do with anything that’ll help curtail the coronavirus? I’ll answer that for you: Nothing. He just hates brown people and is seizing an opportunity to toss red meat to his base.

๐Ÿ˜’ Ordinarily I’m a big fan of NPR, but they published this today: “Bitter Taste For Coffee Shop Owner, As New $600 Jobless Benefit Closed Her Business.” This article is strictly a coffee shop owner in Kentucky bitching that her staff didn’t want to come back to work due, according to her, to the extra unemployment insurance people are getting right now. A few things here: the reporter didn’t interview any of the employees, Kentucky’s got about 3,000 CV19 cases right now (not great, not terrible), and Kentucky’s minimum wage is $7.25/hour (assuming they’re not tipped employees; if they are they’re only making $2.13/hour). So here’s this lady, mad she had to close her business because her employees didn’t want to risk dying for $7.25/hour and they didn’t have to since they’re getting decent benefits for a change. And NPR tells the story entirely from her point of view and makes this all sound like “the evils of the welfare state in action!!1!” Jesus Christ, NPR, what are you thinking.

๐Ÿฆ  STAT News has an excellent rundown on everything we know about COVID-19 immunity right now. Great read.

๐Ÿ˜’ Oh, look, here’s another article about restaurant owners who are mad because restaurants don’t pay their workers enough to risk their lives. As a former restaurant worker of some 15 years, let me just ask why in the hell would I go back to making $2.30-ish an hour plus tips that aren’t coming in right now because everything’s take-out for the chance to risk my life, when I could stay safe at home and actually have enough money to pay my bills, which I couldn’t always do on tips in the first place? Is it for the abuse you have to take from customers and restaurant managers? Is that why I should risk my life for waaaay less money? Look man, I loved my time in the restaurant industry, but it has some fucking serious problems it needs to address, and if it does nothing else, the pandemic is sure the hell pointing that out.

๐Ÿ›ข๏ธ Here’s an article from yesterday talking about Monday’s massive oil crash. The oil crash isn’t entirely the pandemic’s fault, not exactly. OPEC and Russia were already fighting over oil prices, which caused OPEC to ramp up production to drive pricing down in a price war. Then Trump got involved, and you know everything he touches turns to shit. And then we had a pandemic and everyone was staying home and not driving anywhere, and the bottom fell right out of the market.

๐Ÿ˜ท A husband-and-wife, doctor-and-engineer combo in Columbus, Ohio may have just figured out how to make N95 masks reusable.

You know what, for starting out such a gray and dreary day, it’s turned into quite a decent afternoon. I think I’m headed out for a nice socially-distanced walk, folks.

Quarantine Notes: 4/20/20

I spent much of my weekend playing Tropico 5 in an effort to recover from the stress of going grocery shopping Saturday morning. Ug, I swear, my local grocery store is just jam packed every time I’m in there, and no one is paying any attention to social distancing.

Good news, though. I just got a line on a local restaurant supply place (Think Gordon Foods or Sysco Foods, but local) that’s opening up sales to the public, and doing delivery to a drop-off location. So we might look into that instead of shopping at a regular grocery store.

Okay, this one’s going to be quick because it’s been a busy day today.

Okay, and to wrap up, a quote.

“I mean you have to admit it’s hilarious that the people who have spent their entire lives stockpiling beans & ammo and publishing newsletters about preparing to shelter in place during a global crisis are the ones having meltdowns because they can’t go to the cheesecake factory.” – Bill Marx

A Quick Aside on This Weekend’s ‘Liberate Wherever’ Protests

Okay, so, before we get rolling, let me ‘splain you a thing about the news industry real quick. This is important, there’s gonna be a quiz at the end, take notes.

The news industry runs almost exclusively on advertising revenue. Print, TV, Internet, across the board, almost to a man, the whole thing runs on advertising dollars.

This is not ideal for a number of reasons, but here’s the important thing to know: When we started shutting shit down, the bottom fell out of advertising for the news industry.

The news industry is in a whooooooole lot of trouble right now. Like, there’s layoffs, closures, newsrooms just straight up shutting down. It’s serious.

As you read various bits of news coverage right now, I want you to keep firmly in mind that the news industry has a vested interest in getting states’ economies re-opened, because they’re all fucking starving for advertising dollars.

I’m not trying to spin a conspiracy theory about the news industry. I’m just pointing out that they’re seriously hurting for money during the stay-at-home restrictions, and that most of them generate money by getting your eyes on their ads. So whether they mean to or not, they end up incentivized to cover things that get those views, and/or to cover news in such a way as to generate more of those views. And also, they need y’all out there spending money, so people will advertise with them.

I’m telling you all that so I can tell you this: Some in the news industry have been reporting on this weekend’s “Liberate Wherever” protests like they’re pulling big crowds. They’re reporting it as though this is a mass movement of a majority of people, and friends, that is not the case at all.

So, some examples of news coverage over-inflating the influence of the protests:

And how big is this protest movement, really? Well, it’s hard to say in real numbers, but we can say that the most recent polling shows that a majority of Americans are in favor of the stay home/quarantine measures.

Here’s another thing you need to know about these protests: They’re astroturfed.

What’s that mean? An astroturfed protest is a protest movement that’s meant to look organic and grassroots, but has actually been professionally organized and funded.

In this case, it seems like these protests have been funded and/or organized by the DeVos family. Possibly also the Koch family? But definitely the DeVos bunch.

Another thing to know is that this very loud minority of people is basically all the same players that have been causing problems in protests for the last three years. That is, the Proud Boys, the 3%ers, other nazis, fascists, racists, MAGA cultists, gun nuts, all those assholes.

Here’s some articles about it:

And here’s a Twitter thread by an expert on right-wing extremist groups, J.J. McNab, talking about the various groups involved with the protests.

Over the weekend there was an extensive thread on Reddit detailing how all the websites supporting the “re-open” protests were interlinked and likely opened by the same handful of people all at the same time, and pointing out a lot more information about how these protests were astroturf campaigns, but that thread has since been nuked due to apparently violating the subreddit’s doxxing rules.

To sum up: These “re-open/liberate/gridlock” protests are all bullshit generated by a very small but fairly loud minority of mostly fascists, financed and organized by rich assholes who are mad they aren’t making money right now, and propagated by various members of the government and media who have an agenda that is supported by pushing the protests.

Also, I lied about the quiz. Stay home and save lives, people.

Quarantine Notes: 4/17/20

Happy Friday, folks, whatever “Friday” means these days.

I’ve endeavored to stick to a regular work week and weekend as I’ve worked from home. I do my regular 9-5, Monday through Friday. I wake up to an alarm, shower, get dressed, put my contacts in – all things to signal to myself that I’m “at work.” I knock off at 5pm and find something to do that separates the work day from the evening. Usually a spurt of housework, or taking the dog for a long walk.

No alarm on the weekends, usually no contacts, few to no scheduled activities. Just something to indicate to myself that I’m “off the clock.” It helps things feel more structured.

It does seem to help a little. I don’t seem to be losing track of my days the way some folks are. Time seems more concrete this way. It’s all still weird, but like, it’s at least a coherent weird, if that makes sense.

Quarantine notes below. Updates through the day.

๐Ÿ˜ฆ “Dr.” Phil was on Fox News this morning being exceptionally stupid about COVID-19. Which, come to think of it, is par for the course for that charlatan.

๐Ÿ’ฌ “There are people who live on your block who have better credentials to opine on a global pandemic than Dr. Phil.” – Andy Slavitt

๐ŸŠ To absolutely no one’s surprise, Trump’s Opening Our Country Council is a hot, festering mess. Some of the people he named to the council didn’t even know the council was a thing before Trump read off their names at his little press conference/campaign rally.

๐Ÿ’ฐ So the Payroll Protection Program is broke already, and no one seems to know what’s going to happen next. However, one thing we do know is that the states who benefitted from it the most were Trump’s little favorite pet states. Weird, huh?

๐ŸŠ Trump tried his “total authority” gambit a few days back and was soundly thrashed for it, so his new tactic is to “relinquish control to the states,” and now he’s claiming that everything he failed so very badly at is the states’ fault. His Twitter feed this morning is a full-on temper tantrum bashing the states, particularly the ones he’s mad at for, y’know, being competent. Honestly, there’s so much here to be mad about I don’t even know where to start. I will point out that he’s devolved from being a failure into being actively harmful with his “liberate” horseshit.

TrumperTantrum, 4/17/20
TrumperTantrum, 4/17/20. Click to view full sized.

๐Ÿ–• Shoutout to all the Fox News pundits, MAGA cultists, white supremacists, altright jackholes, and other affiliated idiots for politicizing life-saving measures during the pandemic and getting folks killed. I knew we could count on you guys to be just the absolute worst of humanity.

All right, people, I’m getting cranky. I’m gonna wrap up my work and go play Stardew Valley for several hours.

Quarantine Notes: 4/16/20

Pictured: My reaction to the Vince McMahon news.

I have managed to rectify the “only has conditioner in the house” problem, the “can’t check my bank account” problem, and the “don’t have enough toilet paper” problem, so things are starting out on a high note today.

Quarantine notes below. Updates through the day.

๐Ÿ˜ฆ Apparently one of Trump’s advisors on when to re-open the economy is Vince McMahon. Yes, that Vince McMahon. The wrestling guy. No, for real. No. For real.

๐Ÿ˜  Dr. Oz says it might be okay to re-open the schools because only 2%-3% of people will die.

๐Ÿ’ธ Almost 22 million people have filed for unemployment in the past month, which is an insane amount of people.

๐Ÿ“ข Don’t let the idgit Trumpies screaming to re-open the economy fool you. They are in the extreme minority of people in the US. “In a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll out yesterday, 89 percent of Democrats and 72 percent of Republicans said the U.S. ‘should continue to social distance for as long as is needed to curb the spread of coronavirus, even if it means continued damage to the economy.'” More stats at the bottom of the article here.

โœ๏ธ Chuck Wendig has done some excellent writing about living in the pandemic. Here’s his post from today.

๐Ÿ’ฐ It’s not just people and small businesses suffering with the economy shut down. Cities and states are going to be in trouble, too.

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Another pile of states have just formed a super region to deal with COVID-19. This one includes Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, and Kentucky.

๐Ÿ’Š An early sneak peek at the data from drugmaker Gilead suggests that COVID-19 patients are responding well to treatment with remdesivir, an antiviral medicine.

๐Ÿก Just stay home and be bored. Yes, it sucks. Yes, it’s boring. Yes, everyone hates it. Just stay home and be bored, so you don’t accidentally kill anyone, okay? I know it’s hard. I’ve been talking myself into and out of sneaking my dog over to the dog park all day. She’s bored. I’m bored. My boyfriend’s bored. We hate our apartment now. Just STAY HOME and BE BORED. That’s all you have to do, man, and you can save lives.

โ˜€๏ธ And to wrap things up on a positive note, Buzzfeed has this article: “33 Moments Where Friends, Family, And Total Strangers Had Each Other’s Backs In This Pandemic.