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Thursday, April 30, 2020

The rising unemployment will have a deadly cost beyond the virus

     With the huge unemployment numbers recently released, there is a cost beyond the financial impact on families.  Since much of our health insurance is linked to employment the loss of a job also means the loss of health coverage.  A Harvard report has suggested that 45,000 Americans die each year from not having health insurance.  While it might be hard to understand the exact consequence to your health from not having health insurance it is safe to assume that the number of deaths from the uninsured will increase this year as more people lose their coverage.  Add to this the need for more people having to file for bankruptcy from unpaid medical bills.  The United States continues to pay a higher cost to the virus pandemic than most other countries, in so many ways, because of our lack of having a universal health care system.  Maybe being pro-life should include this reality.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The view from Europe of the United States

From the Irish Times
April 25, 2020
By Fintan O’Toole
Over more than two centuries, the United States has stirred a very wide range of feelings in the rest of the world: love and hatred, fear and hope, envy and contempt, awe and anger. But there is one emotion that has never been directed towards the US until now: pity.
However bad things are for most other rich democracies, it is hard not to feel sorry for Americans. Most of them did not vote for Donald Trump in 2016. Yet they are locked down with a malignant narcissist who, instead of protecting his people from Covid-19, has amplified its lethality. The country Trump promised to make great again has never in its history seemed so pitiful.
Will American prestige ever recover from this shameful episode? The US went into the coronavirus crisis with immense advantages: precious weeks of warning about what was coming, the world’s best concentration of medical and scientific expertise, effectively limitless financial resources, a military complex with stunning logistical capacity and most of the world’s leading technology corporations. Yet it managed to make itself the global epicentre of the pandemic.
As the American writer George Packer puts it in the current edition of the Atlantic, “The United States reacted ... like Pakistan or Belarus – like a country with shoddy infrastructure and a dysfunctional government whose leaders were too corrupt or stupid to head off mass suffering.”
It is one thing to be powerless in the face of a natural disaster, quite another to watch vast power being squandered in real time – wilfully, malevolently, vindictively. It is one thing for governments to fail (as, in one degree or another, most governments did), quite another to watch a ruler and his supporters actively spread a deadly virus. Trump, his party and Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News became vectors of the pestilence.
The grotesque spectacle of the president openly inciting people (some of them armed) to take to the streets to oppose the restrictions that save lives is the manifestation of a political death wish. What are supposed to be daily briefings on the crisis, demonstrative of national unity in the face of a shared challenge, have been used by Trump merely to sow confusion and division. They provide a recurring horror show in which all the neuroses that haunt the American subconscious dance naked on live TV.
If the plague is a test, its ruling political nexus ensured that the US would fail it at a terrible cost in human lives. In the process, the idea of the US as the world’s leading nation – an idea that has shaped the past century – has all but evaporated.
Other than the Trump impersonator Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, who is now looking to the US as the exemplar of anything other than what not to do? How many people in Düsseldorf or Dublin are wishing they lived in Detroit or Dallas?
It is hard to remember now but, even in 2017, when Trump took office, the conventional wisdom in the US was that the Republican Party and the broader framework of US political institutions would prevent him from doing too much damage. This was always a delusion, but the pandemic has exposed it in the most savage ways.
Abject surrender
What used to be called mainstream conservatism has not absorbed Trump – he has absorbed it. Almost the entire right-wing half of American politics has surrendered abjectly to him. It has sacrificed on the altar of wanton stupidity the most basic ideas of responsibility, care and even safety.
Thus, even at the very end of March, 15 Republican governors had failed to order people to stay at home or to close non-essential businesses. In Alabama, for example, it was not until April 3rd that governor Kay Ivey finally issued a stay-at-home order.
In Florida, the state with the highest concentration of elderly people with underlying conditions, governor Ron DeSantis, a Trump mini-me, kept the beach resorts open to students travelling from all over the US for spring break parties. Even on April 1st, when he issued restrictions, DeSantis exempted religious services and “recreational activities”.
Georgia governor Brian Kemp, when he finally issued a stay-at-home order on April 1st, explained: “We didn’t know that [the virus can be spread by people without symptoms] until the last 24 hours.”
This is not mere ignorance – it is deliberate and homicidal stupidity. There is, as the demonstrations this week in US cities have shown, plenty of political mileage in denying the reality of the pandemic. It is fuelled by Fox News and far-right internet sites, and it reaps for these politicians millions of dollars in donations, mostly (in an ugly irony) from older people who are most vulnerable to the coronavirus.
It draws on a concoction of conspiracy theories, hatred of science, paranoia about the “deep state” and religious providentialism (God will protect the good folks) that is now very deeply infused in the mindset of the American right.
Trump embodies and enacts this mindset, but he did not invent it. The US response to the coronavirus crisis has been paralysed by a contradiction that the Republicans have inserted into the heart of US democracy. On the one hand, they want to control all the levers of governmental power. On the other they have created a popular base by playing on the notion that government is innately evil and must not be trusted.
The contradiction was made manifest in two of Trump’s statements on the pandemic: on the one hand that he has “total authority”, and on the other that “I don’t take responsibility at all”. Caught between authoritarian and anarchic impulses, he is incapable of coherence.
Fertile ground
But this is not just Donald Trump. The crisis has shown definitively that Trump’s presidency is not an aberration. It has grown on soil long prepared to receive it. The monstrous blossoming of misrule has structure and purpose and strategy behind it.
There are very powerful interests who demand “freedom” in order to do as they like with the environment, society and the economy. They have infused a very large part of American culture with the belief that “freedom” is literally more important than life. My freedom to own assault weapons trumps your right not to get shot at school. Now, my freedom to go to the barber (“I Need a Haircut” read one banner this week in St Paul, Minnesota) trumps your need to avoid infection.
Usually when this kind of outlandish idiocy is displaying itself, there is the comforting thought that, if things were really serious, it would all stop. People would sober up. Instead, a large part of the US has hit the bottle even harder.
And the president, his party and their media allies keep supplying the drinks. There has been no moment of truth, no shock of realisation that the antics have to end. No one of any substance on the US right has stepped in to say: get a grip, people are dying here.
That is the mark of how deep the trouble is for the US – it is not just that Trump has treated the crisis merely as a way to feed tribal hatreds but that this behaviour has become normalised. When the freak show is live on TV every evening, and the star is boasting about his ratings, it is not really a freak show any more. For a very large and solid bloc of Americans, it is reality.
And this will get worse before it gets better. Trump has at least eight more months in power. In his inaugural address in 2017, he evoked “American carnage” and promised to make it stop. But now that the real carnage has arrived, he is revelling in it. He is in his element.
As things get worse, he will pump more hatred and falsehood, more death-wish defiance of reason and decency, into the groundwater. If a new administration succeeds him in 2021, it will have to clean up the toxic dump he leaves behind. If he is re-elected, toxicity will have become the lifeblood of American politics.
Either way, it will be a long time before the rest of the world can imagine America being great again.


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Supporting Howard County General Hospital

Howard County General observes 40th anniversary [Pictures ...

   I have blogged before about supporting our local hospital as they work to address the pandemic.  I know how much it has meant to our family.  For our family, it has been there for three births and a few hospitalizations.  We can support the hospital again to show our support and gratitude for all they do.  Here is a video to show what their work looks like and here is the link to donate.  It might be a good way to use some of our stimulus checks.


Monday, April 27, 2020

A spoonful of...........

  Too funny???

     Germany elected a scientist, Angela Merkel, to lead them and we have to have a reality star leading us.  Elect a reality star and now we are all on "Survivor."

P.S. 1

Image may contain: possible text that says 'BIDEN BIL He WON'T INJECT YOU WITH BLEACH'

P.S. 2
     Another one of Trump's cures.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

The only ways the Covid-19 pandemic can end


Five Facts about Herd Immunity | RealClearPolicy

      The two ways that the Covid-19 pandemic will end is with a vaccine or through "herd immunity."  The vaccine is 12-24 months away at best.  Herd immunity is reached when 60-70% of the population has been exposed to the virus or is vaccinated and has developed antibodies to the virus.  Without vaccines, the 1918 influenza pandemic was controlled after multiple waves built the herd immunity.  The longer it takes to develop a vaccine the more likely that this virus will be controlled through herd immunity.   The social distancing that we are doing is not designed to end the virus but to save the health care system from being overwhelmed and possibly saving deaths until a vaccine is available.  I say "possibly" because it is hard to say what the death count will be after multiple waves and before the vaccine is available.  The 50,000 deaths we now have in the United States may be only half or a third of the final count before the virus is controlled.
    There is one school of thought that the best way to control the virus with a minimum of deaths is to only have the elderly and other vulnerable persons use the social distancing that we are all now experiencing.  At the same time younger, less vulnerable people would live normal lives and be exposed to the virus to build herd immunity.  Some of these younger people would have serious illness and death with the virus but it would bring the virus under control sooner than waiting for the vaccine.  The bottom line is that there will be death to a new virus and you only want to determine the best way is to minimize the deaths and serious illnesses.
     Of course, this discussion of which route is a better way to control the virus is hypothetical except we may have a chance to see how this plays out with the example of Sweden which has gone the herd immunity route while its neighboring countries of Norway and Denmark have used social distancing.  While the deaths in Sweden are now higher than its neighbors the question is where the number of deaths will be in each country when the virus is finally controlled.  The final number of deaths in Sweden may be reached very soon and the total count of deaths in the neighboring countries may be stretched out over the next year or two.  Time will tell which method was best at minimizing the total death count.

       The per capita death rate in the United States is 13 per 100,000 people and it is 17 per 100,000 in Sweden.

     One report found that 13.9% of New Yorkers have the virus antibodies.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Dr. Trump finds "miracle" treatment for Covid-19

We talked to Donald Trump, Ph.D. about making science great again ...

     We have heard how Trump has surprised people with his ability to "get" how this virus works.  Yesterday he heard one doctor talk about how disinfectants can be effective in preventing the spread of the virus.  Dr. Trump then wondered if there might be a way to inject the disinfectants directly into the body to treat the virus.    This caused Lysol to put out a statement warning against anyone injecting Lysol to treat the virus.  Dr. Trump frequently responds to why he did something with the response, " it is just common sense."   I have come to learn that most people who explain their actions to "common sense or knowing it in my gut" usually don't have any intellectual curiosity.   The last time I checked there aren't any brain cells in the gut.  But then again Dr. Trump is unique.


No photo description available.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Picture that defines the importance of Earth Day


     It is hard to believe that it is 50 years since the first Earth Day.  Just 2 years earlier we had the opportunity to see how beautiful and fragile the Earth was from the picture above taken from the Moon.  I remember being a college sophomore and feeling that this issue would be the defining issue for our Baby Boomer generation.  The activism of our "hippie" generation was supposed to be in contrast to our complacent parents WWII generation.  Now 50 years later and our generation is now the senior citizen generation that has dropped the ball on leaving a cleaner environment than existed when we were young.  Today we see Trump, a member of our generation, seeking to make our environment more polluted.  A new generation will have to carry the ball on implementing a new Green Deal.  Many of us Baby Boomers are willing to join the efforts to undo the damage to our environment that the Trump administration has caused.  We may be grayer but our idealism hasn't been diminished.

No photo description available.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Will the virus promote a "Gap Year"

Gap Year Rubber Stamp Royalty Free Cliparts, Vectors, And Stock ...

      Many students graduating from high school and college are trying to determine what to do with the uncertainty of colleges opening in the fall or the job market in a time of increasing unemployment.  Right now it is hard to determine when the virus will allow us to go back to a normal social life.  Taking a "gap year" might be just the right fit for many young people now.  Exactly what a gap year might entail would vary from person to person.  Some might be able to take a volunteer role and others might be willing to take a job that they may not have considered before.  Contact tracing jobs might an interesting job to be available in the future.
      I had some experience with taking a "gap job" after graduating from college.  I was unsure of what additional academic program I wanted to pursue.  I had taken the Graduate Records Exam (GRE's) but I was tired of going to school and wanted a break.  At the time I was a live-in staff member at a psychiatric halfway house in DC finishing up a combined psychology/political science degree.  My friend told me that a DC hospital would hire anyone with a psychology degree as a psych tech in their psych unit.  It seemed like a good choice to do for a year until I decided what advance degree I wanted to pursue. One year turned into two and another job in the hospital.  During this time my experiences gave me a clearer idea about what type of additional education made sense.  I could only have gained this clarity by the experiences I had during this time.  With a renewed energy, focus and commitment my graduate experience was so much more valuable.  It set up me to have a career that was meaningful from the beginning.  Many people only have this focus mid-career.
     The virus causing students to consider a gap year might turn out to be a blessing in disguise as it was for me.

    I bet a career as a virologist might be the new "hot" career.  Dr. Fauci might be the reason for the future growth in this career choice.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Covid-19 virus xenophobia

   I Love New York - Wikipedia

     It seems that the virus has brought out xenophobia among many people.  I have been surprised that people from areas of the World or certain states have been viewed as pariahs.  It started out with views toward Chinese Americans and has spread to fear of people from New York.  I heard one person talk disparagingly about the number of cars from New York in a grocery store parking lot.  They didn't seem to have an understanding of why someone would travel from New York.  Fear can harden people to the needs of less fortunate people.  For fearing people from one state to another rather than showing concern or offering help, unfortunately, is also one side of the story of this virus.

Monday, April 20, 2020

The central role that toilet paper plays in people's lives

 Why Stockpiling Toilet Paper to Cope with Coronavirus Fears ...

     The thing I will take away from the pandemic is the central role that toilet paper plays in people's lives.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised that so many people are posting on social media where they found toilet paper in a store.  I suppose that many desperate people will then descend on that store and the supply will quickly disappear.  Maybe someone could develop an alert similar to the Amber Alerts that we get on our smartphones to alert us to where we can buy toilet paper.  I can only imagine that some people will resort to stealing toilet paper from public restrooms.  You might want to check the availability of toilet paper in the restroom before using it or you might be sorry.

      I wonder if the next item to go out of stock on Amazon are water pick toothbrushes.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Now we know where all the Tea Party folks went

Pro-Trump protesters push back on stay-at-home orders | PBS NewsHour

    As Trump has run up the largest federal debt, our trade imbalance has never been higher and Congress has just spent 2 trillion dollars without knowing how we will pay for it, the silence of the Tea Party folks is telling.  The picture above shows the pro-Trump demonstrations against the "stay at home orders."  The Tea Party has now morphed into being against collective action to fight the Coronavirus.  Can we just acknowledge that the Tea Party was just about the fact the country had elected a black man?  Using the cover of being fiscally responsible is just more palatable then acknowledging your racism.
    This pandemic has clearly shown two distinct groups of people in our population.  Those who act to address a problem and those whose reaction is to deny having to do anything.  Adaptors and deniers. 


P.S. 1

Saturday, April 18, 2020

2020--The lost year

GROUNDHOG DAY | Sony Pictures Entertainment

     I guess we will be on a restricted routine throughout this year.  Maybe we should write off this year for accomplishing anything important and just wait till life resumes next year.  2020 will be the "year that wasn't."  I am not sure how I feel about giving up a whole year of my life.  I have tried to use my time productively but much of my daily routine is unproductive and repetitive.  Get up, run, have breakfast, read the paper online, shower, brush teeth, lunch, listen to Gov. Cuomo's news conference where he tries to sound hopeful, nap, read, dinner, watch the news, fall asleep watching the news, see if it is too early to go to bed, read, sleep, repeat.   We are living the 1993 movie Groundhog Day.

    Notice how I didn't mention Trump's daily news conference?  Just not worth cursing at the TV for 2 hours.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Celestial dawn planet view to see

     The past few mornings we have been treated to the unusual alignment of 3 planets with the moon.  The picture above was taken this morning to show this alignment in the pre-dawn sky.  The small dot closest to the Moon is Mars, moving right is the dot of Saturn and farthest right and the brightest is Jupiter.  This alignment will be moving over the next few days but still visible in the pre-dawn sky.  If you look at the picture so that the planets are completely horizontal in your view you can see the 23.5-degree tilt angle of the Earth on our axis.

Republicans lie on being "pro-life" exposed

    Sen John Kennedy from Lousiana is only the latest Republican to say that some persons have to be willing to die to open the economy.   This follows the Lt. Governor of Texas saying the same thing.  Valuing the health of business over humans is anything but a pro-life stance.  I have always thought that the pro-life position should be more accurately labeled as pro-fetus.  If you lose any interest in the health of people after they are born you have to acknowledge this reality.  I know that many pro-life advocates are advocates for life after birth but unfortunately, many others seem willing to label programs like food stamps and access to health care as being "socialist."  For these people meeting the needs of humans will always take a back seat to the economic needs of business.  The desire to open the economy for the sake of more humans dying is only the latest example of this belief system that is anti-life.  It shouldn't surprise us that we see this happening in our present White House administration when we have a failed businessman heading it up.

When Trump says "you know it" or "people are saying" you can count that a lie will follow.

Report: Trump Has Told More Than 10,000 Lies Since Being ...

P.S. 1
     If you want to see why some people get into economic trouble and live paycheck to paycheck sit outside any big box store in the next few days and watch the big screen TV's going out now that the virus checks have started to come in.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Background to the Pleasant View Nursing Home story

    Yesterday the death count from the Pleasant View Nursing Home reached 24.  I thought it might be useful to have some background on nursing home care in Maryland to see how we got to this point.
    Back in the 1970's the long term care system in our country was going through a change in how Medicaid was paying for care.   Nursing home care up to the 1970's was often provided by "mom and pop" operators.  We had a long term care system that was divided into three levels of reimbursement, skilled, intermediate and domiciliary care.  Each was reimbursed differently with skilled care the highest and domiciliary care the lowest.
     In the 1980's for-profit healthcare companies saw the potential of operating nursing homes as a growing business opportunity and nursing homes started to be run more like a profit-making business with healthcare decisions becoming secondary to business decisions in its operations.  When this change occurred the old mom and pop operators had to decide how to continue operating with this new competition.  Some started to operate as just domiciliary care facilities and others tried to upgrade their operations to meet the new standards for Medicaid reimbursement.  In many cases, this required them to increase staffing levels.  Because they were operating with lower profit levels they struggled to just maintain adequate staffing levels.
    Back in the 1990's one of my responsibilities was to be the Nursing Home Ombudsman for Howard County.  The State of Maryland was developing this program in response to stories of inadequate care in nursing homes.  In this role, I regularly met with families who had a relative being discharged from the hospital and had to quickly identify a nursing home.  I realized that my information was limited.  I decided to try and visit a number of nursing homes that eventually grew to number over 50 nursing homes in our area.  I also visited the Maryland Department of Health to review the licensing reports on the nursing homes that I visited.  I had to go to a storage facility in Timonium to review the reports.  The person at the facility told me that no one ever came to look at the reports filed there and wanted to know why I wanted to look at the reports.  A side note to this is that I can tell you the exact date that I went there.  October 17, 1983.  The day after the Orioles won the World Series.

18 Employees Test Positive For Coronavirus At Pleasant View ...

    One of the homes I visited was Pleasant View the name coming from it being perched on the top of a hill overlooking Route 70 in Mount Airy.  Reviewing the licensing reports I learned that the home had been cited for inadequate staffing on a regular basis.  After having visited many of the newer "corporate-type" nursing homes, Pleasant View reminded me of the older "mom and pop" homes.  What distinguished the two types of homes?  It was that they accepted new residents who were on Medical Assistance.  The difference in revenue from private paying residents and what Medical Assistance paid was substantial---often twice as much.  The higher the percentage of residents on Medical Assistance the more likely a home skimped on staffing and the care you received in the home.  In the United States the care you received in nursing homes, like many other things, depends on your level of income.  It didn't surprise me to hear that the virus struck a nursing home like Pleasant View.  The poor generally suffer disproportionally with any tragedy.

Gov.Hogan appoints a nursing home task force.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

And we thought Castro was crazy

     We all recognized that a Castro speech would go on and on for hours.  Castro holds the Guinness Book of Records title for the longest speech ever delivered at the United Nations: 4 hours and 29 minutes, on Sept. 29, 1960. His longest speech on record in Cuba was 7 hours and 10 minutes in 1986 at the III Communist Party Congress in Havana.
    I was reminded of this yesterday listening to the Trump supposed 2.5-hour press conference on the virus update.  It turned into a 2-hour rally event pointing out how others were as wrong on the impact of the virus as he was.  Dr. Fauci deserves another medal for having to endure this type of event.  As tens of thousands of Americans die the only injustice Trump feels is unfair media attacks against him.  Trump is the epitome of a narcissistic sociopath.  

Monday, April 13, 2020

The other pandemic

  Some catastrophes happen quickly and get urgent responses and others happen slower and get minimal response.   Think 9/11 for urgent response and climate change for the slow response.

Don't Become a Boiled Frog: Why Now Is the Time to Offer Cloud ...

The old story of boiling a frog comes to mind with our climate change response.  While we are urgently responding to the COVID-19 virus our continual neglect of responding to the deaths caused by climate change gets "put on the backburner."  Even worse is the Trump administration using the cover of the present pandemic to make the fight against climate change even harder.
It shouldn't be surprising that the same President who downplayed the virus threat with "happy talk" has also been skeptical of the need to respond to climate change.  His "raising the temperature of the water" we are all in these days shouldn't lull us into boiling with him and his supporters.

     One silver lining of the lockdown is that our cities' air quality is cleaner than it has been in a long time.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Bill Withers RIP 2020

   I don't think there is anyone who hasn't heard the music of Bill Withers.  His songs are some of the most memorable and meaningful of any composer.  Many years ago I had the opportunity to hear him sing his most famous song, "Lean on Me," when he performed it at the national conference for the Alzheimer's Association.  He had agreed to let the Association use the song for their national campaign to raise money for awareness and research into Alzheimer's Disease.  Alzheimer's Disease at that time was not recognized as a leading cause of death among the elderly as it is now.  Often it was not listed as the cause of death because it was usually an underlying cause of death.  Today it is recognized as the third most likely cause of death in the elderly population after heart disease and cancer.

COVID-19 comet?

   Ancient Comet 'Atlas' Measures Half the Size of the Sun and it's ...

     I read something that we might want to keep our eye out for in the next few weeks to take our minds off of the virus.   Comets that are visible are not very common.  The last one I saw was the Hale-Bopp in 1997.  I watched it grow in light intensity for over a month.  You just had to have a clear sky and knew where to look for it.  It was visible easily to the naked eye.  We now may have a chance to see another one if we are lucky in the next few weeks of April.  Here is a link to the story of the comet.

     The most famous comet of all time is Halley's comet that last came by in 1986.  It was not spectacular on this approach and it took binoculars to see.  I remember spending a few clear nights to finally see it with binoculars with one of my neighbors.

Monday, April 6, 2020

We are paying the cost for our federalist system in fighting the COVID-19 virus

     Our Country in its formation was strongly influenced by the tyranny of the British monarchy.  We developed a system under the Articles of Confederation that gave most of the power to the states and created a weak federal system.  As we progressed in our early years, the weakness of the Articles became apparent and a Continental Congress was established to correct these weaknesses.  It became apparent that the weaknesses of Articles couldn't be corrected and a new Constitution would have to be developed.  The Constitution gave the federal government stronger authority but still gave the states authorities not specifically granted to the federal government.  Our federalist system had its greatest test during the Civil War.
     With our present pandemic, we see the weakness of a federalist system in comparison to a centralized system.  Our fragmented response that varies from state to state and the lack of an adequate response from the federal government will mean that the United States will have the worst response to the pandemic of any country in the World.  This is a perverse case of the US being "America First."  It is truly shocking to hear Trump say that the states are on their own in finding the necessary supplies to fight the virus.  He is abstaining from playing a role in this time of crisis.  His reluctance to use his powers in fighting a virus that will kill tens of thousands of citizens is in contrast to his willingness to take those powers when it comes to the use of the military for far less serious threats to American lives.  Republican philosophy of small government can be dangerous in times of crisis that is not external and that can be responded to with military forces.  Republicans, with its small-government mentality, will always be unwilling to have an effective response to internal domestic crises like this virus.  The fear of the British Monarchy of the 18th Century is still influencing Republican political philosophy in the 21st Century and the cost will be in more American lives than any other country in the World.

     The flating of the curve in countries with a national lockdown has taken about a month after the lockdown started.  Italy is now starting to see this flating a month after its national lockdown.  The United States still doesn't have a national lockdown.  With Maryland only issuing a statewide lockdown on March 30th we may shorten that timeframe according to the latest data.

     The effectiveness of doing a shutdown order earlier than later may be seen in the comparison of the projected deaths from the virus between California and Florida.  Using the data it appears that Florida, with half the population of California, will have almost 4 times the number of deaths or 8 times per capita as California.  Spring break and a Republican governor will make Florida residents pay a heavy toll.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

21st Century Voting


Legislature doesn't act on Gov. Evers' special session to stop in ...

   The COVID-19 virus has made states examine how they can hold elections that don't require in-person voting.   Our present voting processes were designed for a time when voting was restricted in ways we wouldn't accept today.   I have mentioned before that hopefully states will begin to move to more mail-in voting.
     If states move to mail-in voting there is a way that voting can be expanded in another way that would increase participation in elections.  States could mail ballots to every person in the state using state records that would greatly expand voting participation.  Income tax returns and driver licenses would capture most people in the states.  When you are asked if you would like to register to vote when renewing a Maryland driver's license you are not registered at that time but will only be sent a registration form in the mail.  Why not register people at that time?  Persons who didn't file a tax return or have a driver's license could request a voter form to be filled out under penalties for submitting false information.   Opponents of voter registration in this manner (i.e. Republicans) would come up with concerns about fraud and other reasons to oppose this change.  Election fraud is probably the most overhyped problem with voting today.  Putting obstacles in place to limit the number of voters should no longer be tolerated if we truly see ourselves as wanting more people to participate in our democratic elections.

   Sometimes even Republicans don't hide their motivations

21st Century communication

Image may contain: 8 people, possible text that says '"Alice, turn your video on. No, it's the button on the bottom. Not that one, over to your left FFS. Jan, you're on mute. UNMUTE YOURSELF!"'

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Friday, April 3, 2020

Educational attainment, political orientation and virus spread

    We have all seen how different states have responded to the spread of COVID-19.  Some states, like California,  have responded early, proactively and aggressively.  Other states, like Florida and the South, have delayed a statewide response and then with some hesitation.  You can easily see the correlation to those states with conservative politicians and those with more liberal politicians in their response.  These correlations hold when you compare other statistics such as poverty and educational attainment.  We now can see how it also relates to response to COVID-19.  The two maps show this reality visually.  The first map shows how travel restrictions impacted mobility from cell phone tracking.  Notice how that matches up with the second map of educational attainment nationally.

Where America Didn't Stay Home Even as the Virus Spread

High School Graduation Rate

   This map shows that states that have responded slowly to social isolation are also those that have not expanded Medicaid to their poor residents who may need treatment from the virus.

Report updates estimates on potential Medicaid expansion benefit ...

What a coordinated plan to attack or prevent a pandemic sounds like

  Trump wings press conference on coronavirus, puts Pence in charge ...

   I just can't listen to Trump blathering in his daily briefings.  I put the TV on mute when he talks.  Gov. Cuomo gives detailed briefings where he can actually speak in complete sentences and then hearing Trump shift blame and keep saying, "no one could have seen this coming" it is easy to see how much trouble we are in.  Here is what another administration of competent professionals sounds like.   Remember what competence sounded like?


Wednesday, April 1, 2020

American business response to the COVID-19 virus

   Boy, Do You Sell Those Pillows”: Trump's Coronavirus Briefings Are ...

      You probably didn't see this part of Trump's press conference when he brought leaders of  American businesses to talk about how they are responding to the shortages of materials because of the COVID-19 virus 
     Anyone in grocery stores has seen a lack of bottled water.

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       The President of Moen faucets talked about how the company had pre-placed in most homes one of their products that will help people avoid dehydration.

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Transcript Quote - Remarks: Donald Trump Meets With Farmers on Aid ...

      Trump also announced that corn growers "at his direction" were hard at work developing an alternative to address the lack of toilet paper.

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   Trump finished the press conference by reminding Americans that we always show ingenuity in times of crisis and our ingenuity will get us to a brighter future. Scientists predict that a brighter future should be here by January 21st.

      I think a fair way to give out the government aid to a business should be in relation to the amount of taxes they paid to the Federal government last year.

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Happy April 1st!