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Sunday, February 28, 2021

What's wrong with Texas?

      



     Where do I start answering that question?  Texas has never given up on the reality that it used to be a separate country.  A wild west mentality has given Texas some of the loosest regulations in the United States.  The recent weather problems with its separate power grid is only the latest disaster to hit Texas.  Who knew that Texas was the only stand-alone power grid in the Country?  I guess a multi-state power grid is too socialist for freedom-loving Texans.  How does freedom feel when you don't have power for days and then have to clean up the water damage from broken pipes?


     

    How often do we see another oil refinery fire in Texas like the one shown above in Texas City?  Oil refineries are usually in the states with the weakest regulations like Texas and Louisiana.  





      In regulation hating Texas companies can opt-out of government or private worker compensation plans and set up their own plans.  If you get injured at one of these companies you are at the mercy of the company's bottom line in what your compensation will be.  You can only imagine how generous the compensation will be when determined by company accountants.  Added to the fact that there are more uninsured people in Texas than any other state and you can see the health care crisis is a problematic reality for many Texans.
     Finally, the conservative State government is frequently at odds with more liberal cities that are fueling the growth in the population of the State.  Nowhere was this more apparent than the clash between the mayors of cities in Texas and the Governor on handling the COVID pandemic.
     For those of us who don't live in Texas, we might shake our heads and remember never to move there but we can't forget that they send elected officials like Ted Cruz to try and make the rest of the Country as bad as Texas. 





    






fear of regulation


Saturday, February 27, 2021

10 year anniversary of blogging

      

HoCo Connect

Random musings of one Columbian, a place to connect and to learn more about issues and events in Howard County. If you would like to have me blog on an issue, organization or an upcoming community service event email me at duanestclair@gmail.com 

     Ten years ago I had recently retired and decided to reconnect with what was happening in Howard County.  The previous 8 years since I had left my job with the Howard County Office on Aging had taken me out of the County for most of my contacts.  I wasn't sure how to reconnect until I read that there was going to be a meeting to explain how to use the new form of communicating called blogging.  Attending the meeting and speaking with some bloggers I realized that this might be the avenue I was looking for to reconnect.  I chose the name of HoCo Connect with this purpose in mind.  I was not sure where this activity would lead me but it certainly gave me a platform to connect with a wide variety of people.  The blogging community at that time was a growing group of local people who shared a wide variety of information.  My initial posts had a strong local flavor that has changed over the years to reflect more of my political postings as the national news of the past few years has become so toxic.  I realize that I may have offended some of the earlier followers of the blog with my switch to a more political direction. 

      Unfortunately, the popularity of blogging has been declining over the past few years.  What were regular opportunities to get together at local restaurants with other bloggers has stopped completely.  The number of readers of my blog has fallen off dramatically as the popular bloggers who linked with my blog have stopped blogging.  The Baltimore Sun used to have a section on their web edition that would list popular blogs.  They would list 5 blog posts of the day and one would be featured as the "blog of the day."  My blog was regularly listed and would occasionally be selected as the blog of the day.  That would mean as many as 2000 people would read your blog post.  Now getting 40 people to read your blog is a good post.

     So why am I still blogging after 10 years when so many others have stopped?  I think it is because it is hard to do anything for that long without getting tired of doing it.  I have thought of giving it up in previous years when my life was busy but the pandemic has made it easier to have time to blog on a regular basis.  What else can you do sitting at home so much?  In many ways, it reminds me of when I wrote the political column for my college newspaper called "Between Extremes" and being able to keep in practice with any writing skills I have.  Thank goodness for Grammarly!

    What does blogging hold for me going forward?  I hope to get back to less political blogging now that Trump is not a daily fixture but that remains to be seen.  The truth is I do the blog more for organizing my thoughts on subjects than anything else.  If the information I share is interesting to others so much the better.

P.S.

    My first blog 10 years ago.

P.S. 1

Over 1,011,000 views in the 10 years.

#hocoblogs

Friday, February 26, 2021

Recreation Bureau Chief at Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks dies of COVID

    

     Now that we have the vaccines rolled out and the number of new cases is going down it is still shocking to hear about someone that you knew dying of the virus.  Laura Wetherald had been with the Department since 1987.  Laura became a leader in Maryland in the recreation field and was Howard County Employee of the year in 1998.  I first met Laura when I worked with the Office on Aging and more recently in meetings promoting pickleball in Howard County.  Laura was always a pleasant person with a smile on her face.  She will be missed by her co-workers and many people in Howard County and Maryland who had the pleasure to know her.

#hocoblogs

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Maryland still not able to deliver vaccine shots

    The lack of a centralized registration process is still a problem with Maryland being 49th out of 50 states for the number of shots administered from the supply they have received.  This may be why the Governor has finally decided to attempt a centralized system for the mass vaccination sites in the state.  This doesn't include the pharmacies that are vaccinating people with their own sign-ups for appointments.  The uncoordinated system that Maryland residents have had to deal with seems to be the wrong start for Hogan as he looks at a 2024 presidential run.

P.S.

      I want to thank a high school Facebook friend for letting me see what is going in Trumpland these days.  Here is what they reposted:

"FROM A PHARMACISTS THREAD on TWITTER:

COVID-19 🦠
There’s something very strange going on with this COVID thing. I’ve been a pharmacist for 43 years, 30 years as an owner. It’s December 12, 2020, well into the “flu season.” I have not dispensed any Tamiflu this season whatsoever. Tamiflu generic is the most prescribed medication for the flu, once you’re diagnosed. Extremely effective.
I asked my friend Mike, who works as a salesman for a major national wholesaler, how much Tamiflu and generic has he sold to Pharmacies this season. He hasn’t sold any. He has 75 accounts of independent pharmacies across the United States.
By now, it’s well known that Covid tests give false positives. How many of these false positives are actually “the flu”? How many are just “the common cold”? Why does the CDC report daily case numbers & deaths for Covid and not for the flu?
CDC says Covid is more deadly than the flu. Well, if you’re potentially taking a large number of flu cases and bundling them into the Covid numbers, then yes, the perception is that it is more deadly.
I believe we are being played. YES, COVID is REAL, it CAN BE DEADLY. We now have drug regimens to treat Covid effectively, one being Dr. Zev Zelenko’s regimen, among others. I believe the Covid numbers are being skewed upward, on purpose to continue instilling fear and panic into people, for governments to continue with lockdowns, for more small businesses to be put out, for more people to commit suicide, or others; for more and more social upheaval. Why? Total population control through fear.
If we are so obedient to wear masks, stand here, don’t stand there, obedient to get a new vaccine, obedient to carry proof you’ve gotten the vaccine: otherwise you won’t be able to fly; then it will be buses, trains, taxis, Ubers, Target, Wal-Mart, grocery stores..everything. Just like that.
You’re slowly giving up your freedoms to a virus that has a 99.4% survival rate, according to the CDC. And the vaccine? Like I’ve told my customers all these years; don’t be the first on your block to try anything new. They really don’t know what they’ll find out in 6 months, a year, 5 years & longer, that can be attributed to the vaccine. It’s way past time for people to take their heads out of their backside and start thinking for themselves. Done. "

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Do you know what 500,000 deaths would look like?

   We passed the 500,000 mark the other day in COVID-19 deaths.  That number is hard to visualize.  It is larger than the deaths in WWI, WWII, the Korean and Vietnam Wars combined.  The Washington Post presented it another way.  Assuming you had 51 people in a bus it would take over 9800 buses lined up to hold that many people.  If you had 6 ft separation between buses they would line up on Interstate 95 from the Delaware state line through Maryland to the White House in Washington DC or 94 miles.



P.S.

     More appropriately the buses would be lined up from one famous person's home in Palm Beach to Key Largo.

P.S. 1

     The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) will be held in Florida instead of Maryland this year because Florida allows a large number of people to congregate in one place at a conference.  We may be rid of Trump but Florida is still stuck with Gov. DeSantis.  Welcome to Trumpland South.  Anyone coming back to Maryland from CPAC should be met at the border and escorted to a mandated 14-day quarantine.


P.S 2
    
      When your state is in the same company as Mississippi and Arkansas then you know you have a problem.   Maryland has the same percentage of its vaccines used as those two states.  Maryland only has 2 other states with a worse record.  The lack of a centralized system for giving out appointments maybe why we have had a failure in Maryland.  Wonder when we will get an apology from the Governor that he was wrong to not consider a centralized system?  Maybe he has been too busy preparing for a presidential run?

P.S. 3
     We were finally able to have a president who could show empathy in commemorating the 500,000 people lost to COVID.  We can appreciate it after seeing the damage that a sociopathic narcissist in the White House for 4 years can cause.





Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Fundraiser for Bridges to Housing Stability tomorrow

       

        Enjoy delicious burgers & fries while supporting an end to homelessness. Bridges to Housing Stability is partnering with Shack Shake on Wednesday, February 24th, and giving back has never tasted this good! Shake Shack will donate 25% of your order if you use the promo code DONATION when ordering your food on the Shack App, web, or the kiosk inside the restaurant. Please participate in this fundraiser at the Columbia Mall location from 11:00 am – 9:00 pm & assist those experiencing homelessness & housing instability during these difficult times.


#hocoblogs

Monday, February 22, 2021

"Health Grades" rate Howard County General rated one of the top 100 hospitals in the Country

   We are accustomed to having our institutions in Howard County rated highly.  For 3 years Howard County General Hospital has been rated in the top of all hospitals in the United States by Health Grades

Howard County General Hospital

5755 Cedar LnColumbia, MD 21044
Healthgrades America's Best Hospitals Awards
Howard County General Hospital has won:
  • America's 100 Best Hospitals Award™ (2021), America's 250 Best Hospitals Award™ (2021, 2020, 2019)












  • #hocoblogs


Sunday, February 21, 2021

Are we closer to herd immunity then we realize? Other good news stories of the vaccines

    Herd immunity has always been hard to define with COVID-19.  Is it at 70%, 60%, or even less?  How many people have already been infected when so many infected people show no symptoms.  Some efforts to test people randomly have shown antibodies in 1/3 of the people tested.  An NIH study estimated that the number of undiagnosed cases maybe as many as 5 times the number of diagnosed cases. This would mean that the number of people who have had the virus is triple or quintuple the number of confirmed cases or over 100 million to 150 Americans may have had the virus and have some immunity.  Add to that number an increasing number of people vaccinated daily and herd immunity might be here sooner than we thought.  The rapid decline in hospitalization and deaths is happening across the board of states--ones that have more restrictions and ones that have fewer restrictions.  Social distancing may have less to do with the reductions than herd immunity.  Our horrible holiday spike may have just pushed us closer to finally getting closer to herd immunity.  We should remember that it was only herd immunity that ended the 1918 pandemic. While the amazing technology has created new vaccines at a record pace we may find that the 2019 pandemic was ended in the same way as in 1918 with some boost from the vaccines.

     On the vaccine front, the good news keeps coming.  We see many news stories about the effectiveness of each vaccine to prevent infection with the COVID-19 virus. While we debate how we should change our behavior even after being vaccinated, we might be missing the most crucial story.  The vaccines prevent deaths from the virus at 100% and hospitalizations at 99.5%.  We have lived with coronaviruses all of our lives and the chances are that we have all had one of these viruses in the past.  One of the colds we have experienced could very well have been a coronavirus. After a few days, we resumed normal activities without disruptions to our lives.  Here is how the NY Times story spelled this reality out:

"........all five of the vaccines — from Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novavax and Johnson & Johnson — look extremely good. Of the roughly 75,000 people who have received one of the five in a research trial, not a single person has died from Covid, and only a few people appear to have been hospitalized. None have remained hospitalized 28 days after receiving a shot. To put that in perspective, it helps to think about what Covid has done so far to a representative group of 75,000 American adults: It has killed roughly 150 of them and sent several hundred more to the hospital. The vaccines reduce those numbers to zero and nearly zero, based on the research trials."

    While the variants of the virus are concerning to the spread of the virus the vaccines while not as effective as they are with the original virus still seem to be very effective in preventing death and hospitalizations.

P.S.

      It seems that the immunity of the RNA vaccines is 92% two weeks after the first shot.  England has already decided to delay the second shot of the Astra Zenica vaccine for up to 12 weeks to prioritize getting more people the first shot.  The US is still sticking to the 3 to 4-week interval for now but given the supply shortage, it is worth investigating delaying the second shot as a way to get more people with some vaccine.

P.S.1

     Pfizer has asked that the FDA approve the storage of their vaccine for 2 weeks at temperatures that are available in normal freezers and not the super cold freezers at -70 degrees.  This will allow their usage at most hospitals and pharmacies that have only had the capacity to use the Moderna vaccine.

P.S.2

     An Israeli study has shown that vaccinated people are much less likely to transmit the virus.  

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Weekend funnies

 






      A man and woman had been married for more than 60 years. They had shared everything. They had talked about everything. They had kept no secrets from each other, except that the little old woman had a shoebox in the top of her closet that she had cautioned her husband never to open or ask her about.
For all of these years, he had never thought about the box, but one day, the little old woman got very sick and the doctor said she would not recover.
In trying to sort out their affairs, the little old man took down the shoe box and took it to his wife's bedside.
She agreed that it was a time that he should know what was in the box. When he opened it, he found two crocheted dolls and a stack of money totaling $95,000.
He asked her about the contents. "When we were to be married," she said, "my grandmother told me the secret of a happy marriage was to never argue. She told me that if I ever got angry with you, I should just keep quiet and crochet a doll."
The little old man was so moved; he had to fight back tears. Only two precious dolls were in the box. She had only been angry with him two times in all those years of living and loving. He almost burst with happiness.
"Honey," he said, "that explains the dolls, but what about all of this money? Where did it come from?"
"Oh," she said. "That's the money I made from selling the dolls."





Friday, February 19, 2021

The new Baltimore-Columbia-Washington D.C. corridor

       


      The Merriweather District continues to grow as a location for high-income tech jobs that is making Columbia the third important city in our region.  If Columbia were an incorporated city it would be the second-largest city in Maryland.  Here is the information from the Howard Hughes Corporation, the developer of the Merriweather District:

   "Five new businesses have been transitioning their offices to Downtown Columbia and will wrap up their moves by the end of March. The companies are Advarra, Ames Watson, Applied Network Solutions, Insperity and Olive AI. They will be leasing more than 50,000 square feet of office space in the growing Merriweather District.  Columbia is rapidly becoming the vibrant 'third city' in the Baltimore/DC corridor. The growing number of companies choosing to move their offices to Downtown Columbia demonstrates our success in creating an innovative built environment that is a burgeoning regional hub for culture and commerce.  The businesses and their focus are:

  • Advarra, the premier provider of IRB, IBC and compliance consulting services who has been instrumental in the development and approval of the vaccines for COVID-19, will occupy 27,130-square-feet within 6100 Merriweather beginning in March.
  • Ames Watson, a private equity firm that purchases, transforms and partners with companies to create long-term value, relocated to 3,866-square-feet within 6100 Merriweather earlier this month.
  • Applied Network Solutions, a technology company specializing in network and cyber domains, will occupy 5,102-square-feet of office space in 70 Corporate Center beginning in March.
  • Insperity, a human resources and business solutions provider, will occupy 12,540-square-feet within 6100 Merriweather in March.
  • Olive AI, a company that builds Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solutions for healthcare organizations, began occupancy of 2,977-square-feet within One Merriweather in February.

P.S.
       All those people leaving California to escape the fires and going to Texas must be wondering if that was a good choice of states.




#hocoblogs

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Republicans institute the "new" Jim Crow

     After the Civil War, the Confederacy was defeated on the battleground but not on the political front.  Once the Country ended the Reconstruction Period the supporters of the Confederacy took to lynching and enacting laws that restricted the right of the former slaves to vote which became known as Jim Crow laws.  These laws placed barriers such as poll taxes and restrictive tests to stop new voter registrations.  

     With the Biden election, the Republican plan in many states is to again institute restrictive voting measures to suppress the votes of persons who are likely to vote for Democrats. Voter ID laws may seem reasonable until you realize that voter fraud is practically nonexistent.  It is a solution in search of a nonexistent problem.  It is designed to suppress the low-income vote just as the poll tax was designed. Closing polling locations in areas with low-income voters and making them travel farther is a barrier to those without easy transportation resources.  Restricting early voting days in urban areas makes for long waiting lines and discourages people who may not have the ability to stand in line for long periods of time.  These lines are never in rural Republican areas.  With the highest voter turnout in many years with the last election that used mail-in voting, it is hard to understand why more states don't establish this as the primary voting method unless you don't like more people voting.

     The only way for the party of the insurrection can hope to win in the future is to embrace the same tactics as the followers of the Confederacy used 150 years ago.  The Civil War seems never to end.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The tyranny of the minority

     We hear a great deal about the tyranny of the majority and the need to protect the rights of the minority This past weekend we saw the tyranny of the minority in the failure to convict Trump of insurrection.  By a vote of 57 to 43 Trump was spared the conviction he deserved.   

     The Constitution was written to provide for supermajorities in certain instances.   It takes a 2/3rd vote to override a presidential veto, approve a treaty, approve a constitutional amendment and convict an impeached president.  With the filibuster, it takes a 3/5th vote to stop a filibuster.   This high bar is one reason we have never had a conviction of a president, any recent constitutional amendments, and new treaties approved.   No other democratic country sets these high bars for approval of these issues and allows a minority to block the will of the majority.  Democracy is only functional with a strong majority rule.

      Conservatives are the main supporters for all of these minority protections are they have decided that they are comfortable being a minority party that can use these actions to block progressive legislation.  They feel less need to attempt to broaden their support by moderating their views to create a majority party.  They talk about bipartisanship only as a vehicle to lessen progressive legislation.   Bipartisanship is only talked about when they are in the minority and don't have power.  When they have the power they ignore the bipartisanship.  The examples of how they played the game of choosing Supreme Court justices by strictly partisan methods show how they play that game.

      The Senate is broken in making progress on legislation that is supported by the majority of citizens.  By its structure of giving every state the same number of senators, the conservation rural states play a disproportionate role in conservative blocking actions.  Add that reality to the conservatives' use of the filibuster to require 60 votes for most legislation and you see how the conservatives have little incentive to try to broaden their base.  Never forget that the filibuster came to be most commonly used to prevent civil rights legislation from being approved.  Until the filibuster rule is eliminated democracy in the United States is a reality that will not be achieved.

P.S.

      The conservatives use one other method to undermine democracy but their attempts to limit the opportunity to vote.  Redistricting in a gerrymandered manner and throwing up barriers to make voting easier all work to permit the Republicans to continue to be a minority party.  Watch how conservatives will work in many states to restrict mail-in voting, early voting days, require voting ID, and reducing polling places to suppress the vote.

     

Monday, February 15, 2021

Are we seeing the end of a national party?

   

     For the last 150 years, we have had just 2 viable national parties.  Since the collapse of the Whig Party in 1854, we have had just the Republican and Democrat parties that have been able to sustain themselves as viable national parties. While other parties have come along with some national support they have not been able to sustain viability beyond one election cycle.   The Republican Party is now in a situation similar to what the Whig Party faced in the 1850s.  The Whig Pary was fragmented around the slavery issue as the current Republican Party is being associated with the white nationalist movement that has been encouraged by Trump.  It would be ironic that the racism of the slavery issue that caused the creation of the Republican Party in the 1850s could now be the cause of the destruction of the Republican Party in the 2020s.

P.S.

     Not all Republicans are racists but if you are a racist the chances are you are a Republican.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

What Trump said we now know was true

      When Trump said that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose any of his supporters we thought it was false bravado but yesterday we found that it was actually true.  Trump instigated a riot that killed multiple people and his Senate supporters still stood by him in acquitting him in the impeachment trial.  The crime didn't happen on 5th Avenue but in the Senate Chamber.  I guess a Capitol Hill policeman's life is not important enough to convict.  Maybe it would have taken Vice President being hanged by the mob to move Republican senators to feel the need for justice.  A policeman's life is just too insignificant to convict a member of your own party.  I thought that the Republican Party was the party of Blue Lives Matters.  Easy to say it but harder to live it.

P.S

    I think they need to rename the Republican Party the Jim Crow Party because it is already down to just the racists (and a few evangelicals).  Nixon's Southern Strategy has finally been completed.

P.S.1

    Mitt Romney is one of the few senators who comes out of this process with any political integrity.  Watch him be given a Profile in Courage Award by the JFK Center.

P.S.2

How squirrels celebrate Valentine's Day (real photo)



Saturday, February 13, 2021

Asian-owned businesses vandalized in Columbia on the first night of the Chinese New Year

 


      Six Howard County businesses, including four Asian-owned restaurants, were burglarized Thursday night, according to the county’s police department.  Urban Hot Pot, Bonchon, Kung Fu Tea and Corner Bakery in Columbia and Coal Fire Pizza and East Moon Asian Bistro in Ellicott City were broken into in the overnight hours between Thursday and Friday. Money was stolen from Urban Hot Pot, Bonchon, Kung Fut Tea and East Moon Asian Bistro.
No photo description available.
No photo description available.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Weekend Senior moments

 An elderly Floridian called 911 on his cell phone to report that his car has been broken into.

He is hysterical as he explains his situation to the dispatcher "They've stolen the stereo, the steering wheel, the brake pedal and even the accelerator!" he cried.

The dispatcher said, "Stay calm... An officer is on the way." 

A few minutes later, the officer radios in "Disregard." he says "He got in the back-seat by mistake."
TELL ME THIS WON'T HAPPEN TO ME!


 As a senior citizen was driving down the freeway, his car phone rang.

Answering, he heard his wife's voice urgently warning him, 'Herman, I just
heard on the news that there's a car going the wrong way on Interstate 77.
Please be careful!'
'Heck,' said Herman, 'It's not just one car. It's hundreds of them!'

TELL ME THIS WON'T HAPPEN TO ME!

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me

    After watching the Senate trial yesterday I thought of the saying in the heading as the way the House impeachment managers should close their case.  To all those Republican senators who thought the first impeachment would teach Trump a lesson have to now realize that this time their vote not to convict is on them.  When they don't draw a line on insurrection as being a case to convict a president they are undermining democracy with a peaceful transfer of power in this country.  Every senator who doesn't vote to convict is saying that their political alliance with the Republican party is stronger than their alliance with our democratic form of government.  They can all wear their lapel US flag pins and stand for the national anthem but we will know how phony they are in their allegiance to what our country represents. Shame on them this time as this vote is on them.   Those Republican senators should have their names going down in history alongside the leaders of the Confederacy from the 19th century.

P.S.

    New lapel pin for Republican senators



P.S. 1

P.S. 2
     It will be interesting to see how Republican Senators such as McConnell, Shelby, Grassley and Inhofe who all voted to convict Bill Clinton for lying about having sex with an intern vote.  This time they will vote about when a president tried to overthrow our democratic form of government. Don't be surprised if they feel that lying is more of a crime than insurrection. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Maryland Vaccine Hunters

    

      The frustration of the system for vaccine signups in Maryland is shared by everyone who doesn't fall easily into one of the designated priority groups like health care providers or teachers.  Right now Howard County is not scheduling anyone in the 1c category and there are many in the 1b group that are not getting appointments.  School personnel seems to be the priority right now in our County.  If you are in the 1b or 1c categories I have some suggestions that might be more successful with the pharmacy sign-ups.  Set up accounts with all the pharmacies in Maryland that schedule appointments.  This includes Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS, Safeway, and Giant.  This will get you to an appointment faster when the appointments become available.  The appointments go fast so you don't want to have to set the accounts up when you learn there are appointments.  It is frustrating not knowing when appointments are available and have to refresh the webpages at all hours of the day.  Monday mornings are the best time around 7-8 am but any morning during that time period is best.

     Here is a Facebook group that makes the monitoring for an appointment easier.  It is called Maryland Vaccine Hunters and it has over 1,800 followers.  When one person finds a pharmacy with appointments they post the information on this page.  I have been tracking this page for a couple of days and it is not unusual to see 20-30 people get an appointment after something is posted on the page.  Yesterday it was the Walgreens pharmacies that people had success with but it can change each day.  The information now is that CVS will start posting appointments on Thursday morning.  Checking the Maryland Vaccine Hunters page each morning starting around 7 am until 9 am can give you the jump on the appointments that go quick.  The websites get overwhelmed quickly and it is not unusual that being too late will get you an error message.  That is a sign of an overwhelmed site.  The pharmacies don't seem to have made their web portals equipped with the capability to be flooded with people trying to access them all at once.

    Feel free to share this post with others looking for an appointment.  Let's hope new vaccines get approved quickly so this shell game of a system can be retired.



Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Bumbling and incoherent Trump defense

    After hearing a powerful case presented by the House members prosecuting the case against Trump and Rep. Raskin's summary, we saw an incompetent defense of Trump's 3rd rate defense team.  You knew it would be bad when the first defense lawyer mistakenly started by saying he was there as a prosecutor.  He had to quickly correct himself to say he was there as a defense attorney.  I don't blame him for not wanting to defend Trump.  The second defender of Trump today had trembling hands and kept drinking water for his dry mouth.  His impassioned talk was incomprehensible in what point he was trying to make and ended with him tearfully reading a Lincoln poem about our ship of state that had no relevance to the case he was making.  At least a defense attorney for a mass murder would have an insanity defense to explain why their client shouldn't be convicted but all Trump let his attorneys use was that he was no longer President.  After that 44 Republican senators still voted that the trial should not proceed.  Would they have still voted that way if the rioters had got to Pense?

The trial of "The Donald"

    


   As the trial of Donald Trump begins today we should all realize what will be played out.  What will happen in the Senate today reminds me of what it would be like if a bank robber had a jury trial made up of one half bank robbers. I am sure that the bank robbers on the jury would vote to not convict their fellow bank robber because he was no longer in the bank pointing his gun at the tellers. Of course, this was the trial situation because the fellow bank robbers held off the police entering the bank until the bank robber finished and came out of the bank. If inciting a riot to overthrow a legitimate election isn't grounds for conviction of impeachment then there are no grounds for removing a president constitutionally unless your party has a 2/3 majority.   This "trial" will not be decided by the merits of the evidence presented but by the political calculations of Republican senators and their fears of being primaried for voting for conviction.  For Democrat senators, the political calculations align with the facts of the case.

P.S.

   We never knew to what extent the Trumps would go to get revenge when they left the White House but we never thought that Meliana would steal the White House shower curtains for a going-away dress!!!


P.S.1

   For anyone interested in the trial of "The Other Donald" here it is.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Super Bowl celebrations and a social conscience

     The question of why some people develop a social conscience and others don't has always fascinated me.  In college, I did an independent research project as part of my psychology degree that examined the factors that determined the development of a social conscience.  The project examined why some people are considerate of the needs of others and some people are narcissists.  I looked at a number of factors that may be involved in the formation of social conscience but the one that stood out from the other explanations was how secure you were in your own identity.  Speaking in broad terms insecure people tended to be more narcissistic and secure people with their identity tended to be more charitable to others.  It is important to also recognize that personal identity and security with your own identity is on a spectrum and not black and white.  Narcissistic people are on a range from mildly selfish to the extreme of a sadist narcissist.

    So bringing this issue to our current time we see this being played out with our pandemic.  The resistance to wearing a mask and respecting the social distancing guidelines are a good test of your level of narcissism.  In its most extreme form attending a large Super Bowl party this year to yell and drink with a crowd is the most extreme form of narcissism I can think of.  Coming after the surge of deaths with the Christmas and New Years' celebrations attending a Super Bowl party today outside your own home with your household members is a form of narcissism getting too close to the sadist level. 

P.S.

    It is always interesting that advertisers have to refer to the Super Bowl as "the Big Game" in their ads. The name Super Bowl is a trademark owned by the NFL and you can be sued by the NFL for using the name as a trademark infringement unless you pay them for the right to use the name.  The Olympics have also jealously guarded its trademark of their name and have only allowed the Special Olympics to use the word.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Time for Democrat revenge

     I know that talk of revenge can be destructive.   Today mutual respect in a bipartisan manner seems to be that talking point of Republicans but I am not there yet.  The memory of Republicans not even considering Merrick Garland's nomination to the Supreme Court and their ramming through their own nominee right before the election is too fresh in my memory.  Unbelievably the Republicans did it to Merrick Garland a second time recently when Sen. Graham, who was still chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, refused to schedule a confirmation hearing on Garland's nomination for Attorney General.   Almost all the Republican House members wouldn't vote to recognize an election won by Biden by over 7 million votes as being legitimate. Finally, we are going to see most Republican members of the Senate vote not to convict Trump in the trial this week for inciting a mob to attack the Capitol with some of them wanting to kill members of Congress.  It is time for Democrats to use whatever power they have to restore democracy to our country and not be concerned about getting Republicans on board.   The Senatorial elections in Georgia have given the power to the Democrats to play the game that the Republicans have been unafraid to play the past few years.  Maybe my desire for revenge will lessen and I know that the situation may change in 2 years with the 2022 election but now it is time to make the most of the power the Democrats have in the next 2 years.  Getting things done for people might be a better strategy now than bipartisanship. 

P.S.

     I know the Bible says "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth" but after the past year I would add "and lose their democracy."

P.S.

     I know the Democrats have worried about the midterm elections in 2022 but watching the Republican Party fragmenting and becoming the "crazy" party gives me hope that the Democrats can expand their numbers in the next election.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Vaccine shell game, the question of one shot or two and the changing priority system: What gets a population protected best?

     The vaccine rollout has had many questionable techniques.  We now see the effort to provide more locations to get one of the hypothetical shots.  This approach with a large supply of vaccine might make sense in getting the vaccine to more people but with a very limited supply, it more resembles a shell game.  Moving the same number of shots to more locations requires people to register at more locations and making the system possibly more frustrating than a more centralized system.  Compounding the confusion is trying to determine how each sign-up system works. Most sign-ups right now led to a place where you learn that there are no appointments or lead to an error message.

     A call to our Howard County Health Department this week gave me this information.  The supply to the Health Department was reduced by 66% because more vaccine from the state was now going to pharmacies, more health providers and the state plan to open a hybrid school plan in March has placed a priority on vaccinating school personnel.  After the effort last week to get as many people in the 1B group vaccinated this week the supply has been directed to the school effort.  This effort will probably impact supply in a few weeks also as the school personnel comes back for their second shot.  The effort to get school personnel vaccinated will delay resuming vaccinating the remaining 1B group and will push back the beginning of the 1C group to an unknown date in the future.  The opening of mass vaccination sites next week in a couple of locations will only add a new element into the shell game.  Until there are new vaccines approved and other measures developed to increase the supply of existing approved vaccines the frustration with getting a shot will only increase.

      The United States has been slower to approve new vaccines than Great Britain.  The Astra Zenica vaccine was approved in Great Britain in December and has increased its ability to vaccinate 50% more of its population than the United States.  While other factors may be involved in this difference such as a national health insurance system the availability of more vaccines plays a role.  I would expect that the United States will eventually approve the Astra Zenica vaccine months after it has been used in Great Britain.

    Another difference with Great Britain is its priority in getting more people with one shot than the United States priority of getting a second shot to everyone who has received the first shot.  Since the approved vaccines all presently require two shots this limits the population that can be vaccinated with one shot.  The question is it better to get one shot into as many people as possible and be satisfied with the 60-70% immunity in more people or have half the number of people vaccinated with 90% immunity? Great Britain is looking at delaying the second shots out to 6 weeks to get more people the first shot.  There is some preliminary data that indicates that with just the first shot people are protected from any serious illness from COVID. Given the limited supply of vaccines and 3,000 Americans still dying every day an emphasis on getting as many first shots as possible is not an unreasonable question.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Having an uncoordinated vaccine distribution system is where we are at


      When I hear about the problems with the distribution of the COVID vaccine it reminds me of the old pictures of the rush to get those hot items on Black Friday at Walmart.  Remember how Walmart and other retailers would put a few of the new big-screen TVs on sale on Black Friday?  People would line up all night to be one of the few people to get one of those TVs.  Being too late to get a TV left a lot of angry and disappointed shoppers.  I feel like that now with the limited supply of the vaccine.  Getting the shot depends on being in one of the selected groups and that pits one group of people against another.  Should teachers be given priority before seniors to get schools open?  Should front line grocery workers be ahead of younger people with certain health conditions?

      We now have the federal government starting to distribute the vaccine to pharmacies.  So now you have to figure out how you get in another line for a possible shot.  Will the pharmacies place their regular customers ahead of non-customers?   Will pharmacies all have different ways to access the appointments? Our decentralized system may leave many people out in the cold as they don't know how the systems work or how to even get in line.  We can have a discussion about whether a centralized or decentralized system is the best what to distribute the vaccine but it seems we have the worst of both systems.  The brainpower used to develop the vaccines in record time seems to be missing in developing the best distribution system.  The collaborative efforts of many different companies in the vaccine development was missing in how the Trump administration wanted to leave it up to the states and localities to determine how they would distribute the vaccine.  Having an administration that was anti-government contributed to the delayed planning for distribution.

    The limited supply of two-shot vaccines has resulted in questions of how much to hold back the supply for second shots.  We have some beginning information that people who have had COVID may only need one shot.  Soon the one-shot vaccines may contribute to an expanded supply for distribution.  It is interesting that Johnson and Johnson is testing the value of giving their vaccine a second time to raise the level of immunity of their vaccine.

    Finally, the distribution system also reminds me of an old Candid Camera episode with the frustration of a bank customer always picking the slow line at the bank.  Banks finally realized this and set up their systems to filter people waiting for a teller through a single queue. Maybe there is a lesson in there for the vaccine distribution system.  Here is the video of that episode of the frustrated customer

P.S.

   Bonus Candid Camera episode

Monday, February 1, 2021

It couldn't happen here---could it?

 


    As we see the Russian people fighting corruption of a dictatorial regime and think "I am glad we don't live in that type of country" I get a flashback to a few months ago when we had our "Putin wannabe" in the White House and he used somewhat similar methods to clear a peaceful crowd to stage his ridiculous bible holding event.




P.S.

      The most telling comment on that bible holding scene was when a reporter asked Trump if that was his bible he replied, "It is 'a' bible."  Trump hasn't owned or read a bible since when he mentioned "Two Corinthians."

P.S.1

    Trump may be gone but his "fellow travelers" are hard at work to make sure that voting in our democracy doesn't become too easy