March 28, 2020

At the Saturday Night Café...

... you can talk all night.

"It was such an amazing sight. She woke up, stood up and we saw it was her. It was so, so surreal and so amazing. And what’s more amazing was how calm she was."

"I figured after two nights alone in the woods, she would be panicked and distraught and crying [but instead 4-year-old Vadie Sides just said] 'Oh, I can’t wait to tell my mommy about my two nights out here.' She was just talking, talking, talking."

Said Edward D. Casey — the commander of the 187th Fighter Wing of the Alabama Air National Guard — who was one of the first searchers to find the little girl, quoted in "4-Year-Old Girl, Lost in the Woods for 48 Hours, Is Found Unharmed" (NYT).

The girl was with her dog, and they found her when they heard the dog bark. The girl is quoted: "We took a walk, but then I got too fast and got running and got lost and then I started calling for Nanny, but Nanny was too far.... I slided, slided down a waterfall that was so slippery [and I saw a house but] I was brave not to go in.... I slept by a road the first night and the second night I slept where they found me." Video of the girl telling her story here (on Facebook).

Another look at Dylan's "Murder Most Foul" — does it hold LBJ responsible for the Kennedy assassination?

There are some lines in the song that had me thinking that. In the first verse, the men who come to kill Kennedy say "We've already got someone here to take your place." There's the proximity of Johnson's name to the song title accusation: "Johnson sworn in at 2:38/Let me know when you decide to throw in the towel/It is what it is, and it's murder most foul." In "Hamlet," "murder most foul" is the murder of the king by his close relation, his brother, and, though Kennedy famously had brothers, the Vice President, Lyndon Johnson, had a proximity to the President that would make the murder "most foul."

But here's something more subtle that I only noticed on the third listen:
Zapruder's film I seen night before
Seen it thirty-three times, maybe more
It's vile and deceitful, it's cruel and it's mean
Ugliest thing that you ever have seen....
I have never forgotten the Lyndon Johnson quote: "That’s the ugliest thing I ever saw." He was looking at a portrait of himself — seeing it for the first time.

I'm just trying to understand the song, not unravel the mystery of John Kennedy's death. I did once write on the blog: "I must say that when I read 'The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Vol. IV' by Robert A. Caro, I kept wanting to hear more about how LBJ managed to avoid being the target of suspicion. There's so much material in that book that makes you think he had the motivation."

I don't think the song is better if it is intended to push this theory. Quite the opposite. And I tend to hear in it some sort of notion that we all killed Kennedy, but I don't want to go there because I happen to know that Dylan is on record hating that idea:

Biden — right from the get-go.

Now, I have a transcript for last night's CNN town hall with Joe Biden talking about coronavirus. I guess I should go back and rewrite the first post of today, which was cramped by the lack of a transcript. But this is blogging, and that post happened where it happened. I must roll forward, and all I want to do here is talk about Biden's use of the word "get-go." I'm aware that I would never say "get-go" (other than as some kind of joke), so it makes Biden seem old fashioned and corny to me.

He used this expression last night, talking about the need for more tests for coronavirus: "[T]he tests are getting out more now. But they should be able to be available nationwide, and that should have been right from the get-go a objective of the administration."

The OED informs me that "get-go" (or "git-go") is "U.S. colloquial (originally in African-American usage)." It means "the very beginning," and the oldest usage in a sentence — from Afro-American, 1960 — is "I met him during the summer vacation and liked him from the get go." Shortly thereafter, in 1966, there's  T. Cade in Negro Digest: "I knew Dick and Jane was full of crap from the get go."

But the oldest usage is traced to 1958. It's just a song title "Git-go Blues." No lyrics. So you can't tell what it means from the context. Maybe it's something more like "get out." Who knows? Anyway, I'm writing this post because I thought it was so cool that 2 seconds after reading that I was able to play the recording, and I wanted to play it for you:

"When I ponder our country and its greatness, its weaknesses, its potential, my heart aches for less divisiveness."

So said Senator Tom Coburn on September 12, 2005, the first day of the hearings on the confirmation of John Roberts. I live-blogged:
"When I ponder our country and its greatness, its weaknesses, its potential, my heart aches for less divisiveness," he says and pauses a long time, choking back tears. "He's crying?!" I exclaim. We rewind the TiVo and play it again and, I'm sorry to say, laugh a lot. After the long pause, he goes on: "...less polarization, less fingerpointing, less bitterness, less mindless partisanship." You know, I agree! I feel very strongly about all of those things. But crying in a Senate hearing speech, moving yourself to tears? I'm sorry. I laughed a lot.
On Day 3 of the hearings, I was calling him "Cryin' Tom Coburn":
Cryin' Tom Coburn bores me to tears except when he amuses me with: "Would you agree that the opposite of being dead is being alive?" And with his "medical" opinion — he's a doctor — that Roberts is a credible witness: "I will tell you that I am very pleased, both in my observational capabilities as a physician to know that your answers have been honest and forthright as I watch the rest of your body respond to the stress that you're under." I'm under some stress over here, listening to this nonsense.
"Would you agree that the opposite of being dead is being alive?" made my list of "Quotes of the year 2005."

But this morning — as the news comes that the former Senator has died — I choose to highlight that quote with which he moved himself to tears — "When I ponder our country and its greatness, its weaknesses, its potential, my heart aches for less divisiveness." I found that very funny at the time, because I think every Senator is posturing and dramatizing at Supreme Court confirmation hearings and to do that to the point of making yourself cry struck me as the ultimate in Senate theatrics.

But it was a good sentiment and my heart aches for less divisiveness. And it's not even funny right now to state the obvious fact that the opposite of being dead is being alive.

"I was surprised at how badly-written this book is. First of all, the very first line has an obscure reference to Holden Caulfield."

"Does he not realize that Catcher int he Rye is not the touchstone it once was?... I suspect that age has hindered his ability to write coherently, The book could have used a very strong editor, or an editor at all. Some sentences are so labored and confusing that they have to be read a number of times to be understood. Perhaps his vanity prevented him from seeking an editor who could have corralled it into a better book...."

From a 2-star review of Woody Allen's autobiography "Apropos of Nothing." Something made me want to read bad reviews at Amazon instead of this WaPo piece I'd clicked on: "If you’ve run out of toilet paper, Woody Allen’s memoir is also made of paper."

I'm reading the book. The first few sentences are especially good:
Like Holden, I don’t feel like going into all that David Copperfield kind of crap, although in my case, a little about my parents you may find more interesting than reading about me. Like my father, born in Brooklyn when it was all farms, ball boy for the early Brooklyn Dodgers, a pool hustler, a bookmaker, a small man but a tough Jew in fancy shirts with slicked-back patent leather hair a la George Raft. No high school, the Navy at sixteen, on a firing squad in France when they killed an American sailor for raping a local girl. A medal-winning marksman, always loved pulling a trigger and carried a pistol till the day he died with a full head of silver hair and twenty-twenty eyesight at a hundred. One night during World War I his boat got hit by a shell somewhere off the coast in the icy waters of Europe. It sank. Everyone drowned except for three guys who made the miles-long swim to shore. He was one of the three that could handle the Atlantic. But that’s how close I came to never being born.
The famous — not obscure! — first sentence of "Catcher in the Rye" is:
If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.
If that's obscure, then reading is obsolete, and what does it matter that a writer refers to it?

Here's the beginning of "David Copperfield" that writers who want to begin in the middle of the story establish their voice by calling "crap":
Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o’clock at night. It was remarked that the clock began to strike, and I began to cry, simultaneously....
ADDED: Originally, I spelled "Apropos" the way I learned to write it in French, "A Propos." (Note that I followed the rule that you don't use accent marks on capital letters.) Anyway, as Sebastian points out in the comments, the book title as printed is "Apropos of Nothing." So that's that, and it doesn't matter what I think is the standard way to use the French phrase in English. But out of curiosity, I looked it up in the OED, and the spelling of the English word is "apropos." That's how John Dryden wrote it in 1668.

But the French form — "à propos" — also appears in many English works. Alexander Pope wrote it that way in 1738. Take your pick: How French-y do you want to be? Is it "French-y" or "Frenchy" or is there no excuse for not just saying "French"? I say writer's choice, and it's my blog. And it's Woody Allen's book, and he wrote "Apropos." And he's enamored of the French. From his telling of his teen years:
One girl asked me to take her to the film O. Henry’s Full House. The only O. Henry I knew was a candy bar. Another brought up Swann’s Way, but I was too busy demonstrating how funny it was when Milton Berle walked on the sides of his feet. These girls read and spoke French, and one had been to Europe and had seen Michaelangelo’s David.
Hey, "Frenchy" — sans hyphen — is in the OED. It means: "Characteristic of what is French (as opposed to English, etc.); French in nature, French-like. Also: sexually adventurous or suggestive." Ooh! I like this example from 1814: "Their dinner smelt very frenchy and savoury, and consisted of stewed spinach and eggs...." That's very food-y. What about sex-y? From 1967: " Word had gotten about that the plays in her repertoire were ‘Frenchy’, meaning naughty."

Donald Trump wants you to be appreciative. Could you just be appreciative and stop constantly chirping about what's wrong?

Let's dip into the rhetoric from yesterday's task force press briefing. Donald Trump was full of energy, ready to talk and talk until you just can't stand it anymore. And his word of the day was "appreciative." Why won't people appreciate him?!

From the transcript:
TRUMP: Well, I think we’ve done a great job for the State of Washington and I think the governor, who is a failed presidential candidate as you know, he leveled out at zero in the polls, he’s constantly chirping, and I guess complaining would be a nice way of saying it. We’re building hospitals. We’ve done a great job for the State of Washington. Michigan, she has no idea what’s going on. And all she does is say, “Oh, it’s the federal government’s fault.” And we’ve taken such great care of Michigan. You know the care we’ve taken of New Jersey. I think if you ask Governor Murphy of New Jersey, “How are we doing?” I think he’d say great. I think. He’s a Democrat. Governor Cuomo has really said we’re really doing a great job... and Governor Cuomo has been appreciative. But a couple of people aren’t.

Joe Biden did a town hall about coronavirus last night on CNN, and I don't think there is a single news article about it...

... other than on CNN itself, which doesn't seem to have a transcript, only "5 takeaways from Joe Biden's CNN town hall on the coronavirus response."

We watched most of it, and I was going to do a substantial blog post about it — if I had a transcript. But I've just go this stupid "5 takeaways" format, which is highly protective of Joe Biden. I watched to see what kind of shape he was in, because I didn't think he had the ability to string cogent sentences together. I can report that when I switched it off somewhere after the midpoint, I said, "He wasn't that bad." Nevertheless, he was not challenged by any of the questions — from Anderson Cooper and various citizens — and he never said anything clear that distinguished himself from Trump or that hit Trump in any serious way.

Biden relied on a rhetorical device that has been driving me crazy throughout the campaign season. It's the phrase "make sure." There's a question about how some desired goal can be reached, and the answer is: We need to make sure that we reach that goal. That's no answer! If I had the transcript, I'd pick out the examples. But — just hypothetically — assume the question is "What would you do about the shortage of ventilators?" The "make sure" answer is — with verbiage to pad the nonanswer — "I would make sure that we have plenty of ventilators." Start looking for it. It's everywhere!

But there's no "make sure" in the few snippets in the pathetical little "5 takeaways" article. We used to scoff at junky little articles like that and call them "listicles." They were the stuff of Buzzfeed. But now it's all we get when the major-party opponent to the President goes on TV for an hour (or was it 2 hours?) to enlighten us about his positions on a mind-crushing crisis.

CNN tells us he offered "an uplifting message — one in tune with his campaign's core theme — about the soul of the nation being on display in Americans' reaction to the crisis." That's a paraphrase of this quote from Biden:

March 27, 2020

At the Springtime Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

I listened to Dylan's new song twice now — that's 34 minutes of listening — and I'm almost ready to talk about the lyrics.

I need to hear things about 5 times to have a decent feeling of understanding, but I'm going to try anyway, with the help of the written text, here (at Genius, where there are some annotations, but they're not at all time-tested and I see inaccuracies at the first glance).

The song begins with JFK in Dallas, "led to the slaughter like a sacrificial lamb" and asking those who are leading him if they know who he is. They sure do, and "they blew off his head while he was still in the car." So, an unnamed group of men are responsible, but we're never told who they are. The motive was "unpaid debts" which they'd "come to collect." The killing was with "hatred" and mocking, and they've "already got someone here to take your place."

There are 4 verses (in my opinion) and they all end with the song title, "Murder most foul" (which is a phrase from "Hamlet"). Verse 1 ends: "Wolfman, oh wolfman, oh wolfman howl/Rub-a-dub-dub, it's a murder most foul." Why wolfman? I'm thinking Wolfman Jack, who shows up in verse 4. He's the deejay, and there's a lot more about American radio pop songs coming up. As for "Rub-a-dub-dub," why does a childish nursery rhyme phrase pop up amid all the dark seriousness?

"The coronavirus pandemic could kill more than 81,000 people in the United States in the next four months and may not subside until June..."

"... according to a data analysis done by University of Washington School of Medicine. The number of hospitalized patients is expected to peak nationally by the second week of April, though the peak may come later in some states. Some people could continue to die of the virus as late as July, although deaths should be below epidemic levels of 10 per day by June at the latest, according to the analysis. The analysis, using data from governments, hospitals and other sources, predicts that the number of U.S. deaths could vary widely, ranging from as low as around 38,000 to as high as around 162,000."

Reuters reports.

This is reassuring.

"Congress gave final approval on Friday to the largest economic stimulus package in modern American history, a $2 trillion measure...

"... designed to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and deliver direct payments and jobless benefits for individuals, money for states and a huge bailout fund for businesses battered by the crisis. The House approved the measure by voice vote... It now heads to President Trump’s desk, where he is expected to sign it. The legislation would send direct payments of $1,200 to millions of Americans, including those earning up to $75,000, and an additional $500 per child. It would substantially expand jobless aid, providing an additional 13 weeks and a four-month enhancement of benefits, and for the first time would extend the payments to freelancers and gig workers. The measure would also offer $377 billion in federally guaranteed loans to small businesses and establish a $500 billion government lending program for distressed companies reeling from the crisis, including allowing the administration the ability to take equity stakes in airlines that received aid to help compensate taxpayers. It would also send $100 billion to hospitals on the front lines of the pandemic."

The NYT reports.

"The Chinese government is under pressure to stave off economic calamity, and is treating Uighur laborers as dispensable because they have no rights..."

"... and no say, Dr. Ferhat Bilgin, a Uighur American, told the Uighur Times, a Washington-based website disseminating news about the Uihghur crisis. 'If they survive they produce a profit, if they die, that would be "too bad"... For the first time in history, Uyghurs [have] become commodities of the State.' The activists’ demand is simple: The Chinese government must close the camps, free the innocent people and provide for other Xinjiang residents’ basic needs...."

From "The coronavirus brings new and awful repression for Uighurs in China," published in The Washington Post a month ago. I found that this morning because I was looking for news of the plight of the Uighurs. What is happening to them during the pandemic? Over a million of them were confined and crowded into "re-education camps" where they are especially vulnerable to the disease. Now, there are no believable statistics about the disease as it exists in China today, and the story of the Uighurs is overshadowed by the larger story. But what looked like a genocide was already happening, and now that the disease is — I presume — accelerating a genocide, we're not even seeing it at all.

"Thus each of us had to be content to live only for the day, alone under the vast indifference of the sky. This sense of being abandoned..."

"... which might in time have given characters a finer temper, began, however, by sapping them to the point of futility. For instance, some of our fellow citizens became subject to a curious kind of servitude, which put them at the mercy of the sun and the rain. Looking at them, you had an impression that for the first time in their lives they were becoming, as some would say, weather-conscious. A burst of sunshine was enough to make them seem delighted with the world, while rainy days gave a dark cast to their faces and their mood. A few weeks before, they had been free of this absurd subservience to the weather, because they had not to face life alone; the person they were living with held, to some extent, the foreground of their little world. But from now on it was different; they seemed at the mercy of the sky’s caprices—in other words, suffered and hoped irrationally."

Wrote Albert Camus in "The Plague" (pages 75-76).

Those are words I heard in my earphones — "A burst of sunshine was enough to make them seem delighted with the world" — at 6:56 a.m. as I aimed my iPhone at this:


"There’s a theory of risk stratification... Isolate people but really isolate the vulnerable people. Don’t isolate everyone because some people, most people, are not vulnerable to it."

"And if you isolate all people, you may be actually exposing the more vulnerable people by bringing in a person who is healthier and stronger and who may have been exposed to the virus, right.... Younger people can go back to work. People who have resolved can go back to work... People who — once we get this antibody test — show that they had the virus and they resolved can go back to work. That’s how I think you do it. … It’s not [that] we’re going to either do public health or we’re going to do economic development and restarting. We have to do both."

Said Governor Cuomo yesterday (quoted at the New York Post).
"We closed everything down. That was our public health strategy... If you re-thought that or had time to analyze that public health strategy, I don’t know that you would say ‘Quarantine everyone.'... I don’t even know that that was the best public health policy. Young people then quarantined with older people, [it] was probably not the best public health strategy...."
Cuomo, like Trump, seems to be spending a lot of time on camera and thinking aloud. The 2 men are saying a lot of the same things, struggling with incomplete and conflicting ideas. Naturally, Trump gets more criticism, as there are those in the press who look for the worst sentence in his hours of talking and make a headline out of it. But to my ear, the 2 men are far more alike than different.

ADDED: Old men going on camera and rambling. There's a sort of Theater of Transparency. I get that, but I'm thinking it's overdone, and something shorter and stronger would be more helpful. At some point, I really empathize with these old guys showing us their struggle with an unmanageable force of nature. But then I begin to think it's crazy, their lingering before the camera, going on and on as if to make the argument, I am trying hard but it's so hellishly difficult, and I think, no, it's not your personal struggle. It's not about our feeling for you as you're stuck doing something that can't be done right. Give a clear, factual report, combine realism and optimism in the way that will be most helpful to those of us who are trying to do our part and keep going, and then get off the stage.

"The Biden campaign has not quite figured out what will replace the traditional set piece events of a presidential campaign."

"For now, in the teeth of the crisis, when attention is necessarily focused on the people in charge, Biden has two big problems. The first is how can he actually do any events outside of his basement that will get attention and coverage? The second is what can he say about Trump now? This is a new problem for Democrats. Ever since he rode down the escalator at Trump Tower in 2015 to announce his campaign, there has been absolutely no hesitation by any Democrat to attack Trump.... 'Biden has a thin line,' the outside adviser to Biden said. 'As much as I dislike Trump and think what a bad job he’s doing, there’s a danger now that attacking him can backfire on you if you get too far out there. I don’t think the public wants to hear criticism of Trump right now.' Then there’s the issue of Biden being denied one of his political strengths. Biden thrives on personal connection; the pandemic has robbed him of the ability to meet with actual people...."

From "Inside Joe Biden’s bizarre coronavirus bunker/Nearly everything in his campaign has been turned upside down, from fundraising to how (or even whether) to attack Trump" (Politico).

1. I'll say to Joe Biden what I've been saying to everyone: Before you do anything, ask yourself: Am I helping? And I don't mean Am I helping myself get elected? or Am I helping my party gain power? I mean Am I helping us get through this crisis? If the answer is not yes, then do nothing. Stay home and keep to yourself. It's a relatively simple challenge. You don't have to do more. In this situation more is less. Unless you're helping. With the crisis.

2. We only have one President at a time, and Trump is President, whether you love it or hate it, and even if you're supposed to be the one person with the job of changing it. If you make his job harder, if you needlessly complicate it, you are displaying a failure to grasp or respect the onerous responsibilities of the President.

3. On the bright side, you, Joe Biden, need a rest. You need to restore your strengths and powers, if you can. And if you can't, you have the strange good fortune of a perfect opportunity to hide your deficiencies and to make that coverup seem patriotic and wise.

4. The Biden campaign has a chance to invent new ways of campaigning. They can show their ingenuity and flexibility. It might impress us and make us want to hand the responsibility over to them (that is, to their figurehead, Joe Biden).

For some reason, Bob Dylan has decided that what we need right now is a 17-minute song about the Kennedy assassination.

Released at just this last midnight:

Bob adds a message: "Greetings to my fans and followers with gratitude for all your support and loyalty across the years. This is an unreleased song we recorded a while back that you might find interesting. Stay safe, stay observant and may God be with you."

You might find interesting....

According to Variety, all Dylan's people will say is that the song was recorded "a while back." Dylan hasn't released any new songs (only cover songs) since 2012. Some of the song is "extremely literally of the Kennedy assassination" — "They blew off his head while he was still in the car" — but it also "breaks more freely into a pop-culture fantasia":
Dylan frequently references or riffs on 1960s events, catchphrases or titles, with lines that include: “The Beatles are coming, they’[r]e gonna hold your hand” (the arrival of the Fab Four in America in early 1964 is regarded by some as a tonic to the lingering depression from the assassination); “ferry cross the Mersey and go for the throat” (only part of which is a nod to Gerry and the Pacemakers); “Tommy can you hear me, I’m the Acid Queen,” and “I’m going to Woodstock, it’s the Aquarian age / Then I’ll go to Altamont and stand near the stage.”

There's a line between light and dark, and sometimes it's clear.


This post is a place for talking only about the concrete matter of what's in the photograph and the abstraction of the line between dark and light. It is not a café — go 2 posts down for that — and it's especially not a place to drop news flashes about the coronavirus — go one post down for that.

Boris Johnson tests positive! The number of detected and reported coronavirus cases in the United States is now larger than the number for any other country!

I'm putting up this post so I can put up the next post without getting the first comment informing me of one of those facts.

Talk about whatever you need to say right now about the coronavirus. I'll have some coronavirus posts soon. This post is here to catch whatever it is you would put in the next comments thread if I didn't put this up.

March 26, 2020

At the Sunless Sunrise Café...


... you can talk all night.

Why did the duck cross the street?


I don't know, but I saw 4 cars and a truck stop and wait for the very slow mallard to complete the journey. Things are slowed down, careful, and kind.

"Cuomo’s rise is an unalloyed benefit for his state and the nation’s largest city, but it is not an unalloyed benefit for his party."

"To almost any sentient observer, it looks like the Democrats have picked the wrong guy to oppose Trump this fall. But the Democrats have painted themselves into a corner. They can’t simply stride out across the wet paint now that Biden has effectively won the nomination. He won it in open primaries, with settled rules, and there’s no way to change them. Biden won’t offer the party an easy escape. He won’t suddenly renounce the prize he has sought his entire adult life. And even if Uncle Joe woke up with a horse’s head in his bed and backed out, Bernie Sanders would say, 'Hey, I’m next. No cutting in line.' In that unlikely scenario, the Democratic Party would undoubtedly reject the hardline socialist at their convention in Milwaukee, but doing so would enrage his staunch supporters and fracture the party unity necessary to defeat Trump.  So why not nominate Cuomo for vice president and hint that Biden would step aside after one term?... A Biden-Cuomo ticket would be made up of -- gasp -- two older white men. Where is the woman on that ticket? Where is the African American? How exactly did they get pushed aside in a party that is built upon the rock (or is it sand?) of identity politics? Moreover, Biden has actually promised, in public and on tape, that he will select a woman for his running mate...."

From "Cuomo Rising, Biden Wandering" by political scientist Charles Lipson (at Real Clear Politics).

This is a terrible problem for Democrats, but I would give priority to the important work Cuomo needs to keep doing for New York right now. He should not be pulled off the job to do the work of running for President (or Vice President!). Right now, he looks especially good because he is coordinating with the Trump administration. It would be disastrous to confuse that work by making him Trump's official opponent. Getting through this crisis is more important than the presidential election, and even if it weren't, the Democrats are not going to win by putting their party interests above taking care of the immediate problem now. Cuomo is the Governor of New York. He's doing a what seems to be a good job of it, right when that is what is desperately needed. That's more than enough for Cuomo. The fact that Biden is a terrible presidential candidate for this time is just too damned bad.

We're all doing what we can.

Why is Germany's death rate from coronavirus so low — 0.5%?

NPR explains:
"I believe that we are just testing much more than in other countries, and we are detecting our outbreak early," said Christian Drosten, director of the institute of virology at Berlin's Charité hospital....

"We have a culture here in Germany that is actually not supporting a centralized diagnostic system," said Drosten, "so Germany does not have a public health laboratory that would restrict other labs from doing the tests. So we had an open market from the beginning."...
Only by testing everyone can you know the true death rate, so the more testing you do, the lower the death rate looks compared to other places that are not detecting the milder cases. The death rate in France is said to be 5% and in Italy, it's 10%. But what is it really?

Teacher seems to have meant to text this to another teacher: "I want to reach out and slap them through the phone!"

But she texted it to a parent of one of her students, according to a Madison police report, the Wisconsin State Journal reports.

More details (and a screen shot of the texts) at Madison365.
Tyeisha Ivy-Willis said she was trying to get her daughter, a fifth-grader at Hawthorne, connected to online learning and enrichment opportunities after schools were closed statewide, but was having trouble doing so. She also thought other students were getting packets of homework or learning materials and wanted to make sure her daughter had everything she was supposed to have.

She said she called Hawthorne principal Beth Lehman, who said she should speak with her daughter’s classroom teacher. Ivy-Willis then asked the teacher to send login information by text message. Even with that information, her daughter had trouble accessing the school district’s online resources, so Ivy-Willis texted and emailed the teacher once more. She said she didn’t want to get on the teacher’s nerves but is “very strict on my child’s education.”

Tuesday morning, she found several missed calls from the teacher on her phone, but wasn’t sure why. Then she looked at her text messages, and found two messages from the teacher: “I’ve had emails from dummy (student) and her mom. What is my lexis password? What is the library portal? How do I get on the home page?” And in the next message, “I want to slap them through the phone!”
This is very sad. Parents are challenged to get their children on line and they need gentle, patient tech support. Are teachers expected to provide that support and to do it through texting? Then a teacher gets exasperated — with all the stresses on her — and sends (or mis-sends) a text expressing her feelings. The parent is also under stress, and she needs to rely on the teacher and to believe that the school is dedicated to helping her child. Would you call the police on the teacher in this situation or would you accept the profuse apologizing from the teacher? Nerves are frayed, parents and public servants are overburdened, and everyone is called upon to do more.

"The Senate voted unanimously on Wednesday to approve a sweeping $2 trillion fiscal measure to shore up the U.S. economy..."

"... as it weathers the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic, advancing the largest fiscal stimulus package in modern American history. The House was expected to quickly take up the bill on Friday and pass it, sending it to President Trump for his signature."

The NYT reports.

Friday is tomorrow. Why not today?

"Using the length of time you chose, the model suggests that 101.2 million people could contract the coronavirus across the United States between January..."

"... and late October (with 27.1 million at the peak on June 17). More than 996,700 people would die under these conditions and 99.8 million people would recover. Tweak the settings, and these numbers will change. These numbers offer a false precision, for we don’t understand Covid-19 well enough to model it exactly. But they do suggest the point that epidemiologists are making: For all the yearning for a return to normalcy, that is risky so long as a virus is raging and we are unprotected....

Click through to the NYT interactive display with sliders to change the dates of when we stop the social distancing and see how that affects the numbers of hospitalizations and deaths. You can change many other variables, such as the degree of distancing and a prediction of the impact of warm weather and a prediction of the death rate.

March 25, 2020

At the Empty Road Café...


... ha ha, if you thought the last post was the café! No! This is the café. So: Talk all night.

Spaced out.

A silent city...


Lone figure on a sports field...


A bird keeps its distance from that solitary human being...


(Photos taken this morning around University Bay, in Madison, Wisconsin.)

How to keep people 6 feet away when you're out in public, and how to occupy yourself in your solitude when you're at home.

From TikTok, so I'm putting it after a jump:

"Things I'm tired of hearing about the coronavirus."

5 things... from my son John.

Trump's approval rating has drastically improved in the last few days. Let's talk about why.

This graph shows the trend clearly (and go here, to Real Clear Politics, to see the different polls that are averaged):

Here's the full timeline for the Trump presidency, showing that you'd have to go back to that first month in 2017 to get this level of support:

Yes, it's still in the negative. Anyway, let me sketch out reasons that occur to me, and then help me out in the comments:

1. In a crisis, people look to the leader they have, and they want to believe that person will help us.

2. Trump is on TV a lot, performing his presidential role, in real time, without media commentary, and it's working as intended, to make people feel that competent people are working hard.

3. The Democratic Party primary has receded into near nothingness, so we're not hearing the candidates attacking Trump very much. We're not thinking so much about replacing Trump, which can't happen until January 2021. Biden has the nomination, and his efforts to remain relevant during the crisis are uninspiring. Best to look away for now, let events play out, and — if you're a Democrat — hope there's something left to make a campaign out of in the fall. What's the point of hating Trump right now? Life is hard enough, and who wants to be a big pessimist?

4. [ADDED at 3:56 the same afternoon.] Trump haters had heard that Trump was a fascist, looking to find a way to dictatorship, but it turns out he hasn't taken this opportunity to make a big power grab. He's even getting criticized for not being coercive and overbearing enough, as he works with governors and private companies. Trump's behavior in this real crisis may be easing fears about imagined things.

5. ...

"Businesses controlled by President Trump and his children would be prohibited from receiving loans or investments from Treasury Department programs included in a $2 trillion stimulus plan..."

"... agreed to early Wednesday by White House and Senate leaders in response to the coronavirus crisis. The provision, which was touted by Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) in an early-morning letter to colleagues, would also apply to Vice President Pence, members of Congress and heads of federal departments, as well as their children, spouses and in-laws.
During a television interview Wednesday morning, Schumer stressed that the provision applies not only to Trump but to 'any major figure in government.' 'That makes sense. Those of us who write the law shouldn’t benefit from the law,' Schumer said on CNN."

WaPo reports.

A NYT headline I took literally and seriously: "Some Pregnant Women in New York City Will Have to Deliver Babies Alone."

I saw that headline — without the subheadline — at Facebook, where my son John had posted it.

The subheadline is "'I have not stopped crying,' said an expectant mother who learned that her husband could not be with her when she gives birth." First paragraph:
Women giving birth at two leading New York City hospital networks are being told they must labor without spouses, partners or doulas by their side — leaving the expectant mothers anxious and frightened about their upcoming deliveries.
My comment at Facebook:
Oh! I misread the headline. This is so much less bad than I thought. Something I'd been saying since I saw the restrictions on abortion in Ohio was that it's a bad time to be pregnant because you don't know what the situation will be months from now. I pictured the *women* excluded from medical care, forced to do home births.
John said:
Yeah, the New York Times headline is false. They won’t be “alone.” They’ll be assisted by doctors and nurses.
I said:
I know. I took the actual words seriously. The Times is so upbeat. It didn't even consider how the literal meaning is a thing that could happen.
Here's the post of mine from 3 days ago about the Ohio restrictions:
What if, 9 months from now, women are left to give birth on their own — home births for everybody, without a doctor or even a doula? It will be a time of people dying alone from coronavirus, suffering and pleading visibly on Twitter, and begging for help that will never come....
As for my fear of people dying alone, this morning I saw this on Instapundit:
UGH: Spanish Military Finds Dead Bodies And Seniors ‘Completely Abandoned’ In Care Homes.

"In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom labeled construction an 'essential service.' New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo did the same..."

"... listing construction alongside child care, grocery stores, and hospitals. While some construction work easily passes this test, including repairs and maintenance of road, water, and transit infrastructure, what’s so essential about that building going up by my house? Developers, contractors, and labor unions have offered a handful of reasons that construction ought to continue through the coronavirus shutdown, a combination of blue-collar bravura, engineering needs, hygiene logic, and societal necessity. Mostly, the economic expediency of everyone involved....  If you abandoned a project halfway, materials like insulation and exposed wiring degrade in the elements....  'There’s a sense that a 100-year-old building will deteriorate but continue to perform its job,' said Ehren Gresehover, a structural engineer in New York. 'But when you start opening things up, start demo’ing a little slab, you might unbrace a column, and that column has temporary shoring, or perhaps it’s only temporary braced, and that’s less stable.' What’s safe for a weekend might not be safe for several months unattended.'... Developers also take on a construction loan... meaning the bank can come for everything you’ve got if you default.... Powerful construction unions, contractors, and developers thus far seem to agree that job sites are not likely to be virus incubators in the same way that white-collar offices are...."

From "Why There’s So Much Construction Still Happening/Cities have shut down, but cranes are still in the sky" (Slate).

March 24, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... things are a little gray.

In Wisconsin, we are specifically forbidden to play ultimate frisbee.

From the Wisconsin Emergency Order, issued today:
11. Essential Activities. Individuals may leave their home or residence to
perform any of the following....
c. Outdoor Activity. To engage in outdoor activity, including visiting public and state parks, provided individuals comply with Social Distancing Requirements as defined below. Such activities include, by way of example and without limitation, walking, biking, hiking, or running. Individuals may not engage in team or contact sports such as by way of example and without limitation, basketball, ultimate frisbee, soccer, or football, as these activities do not comply with Social Distancing Requirements. Playgrounds are closed.
I know, they needed to make a list of the wrong kind of sports. They had basketball, soccer, and football, and then they decided to add ultimate frisbee. Care to speculate about why? I'm thinking it's some sort of "diversity" concept, and I googled what kind of people play ultimate frisbee. Funnily, I got a Reddit discussion begun with my question, word for word, except for that last word, "frisbee" (because the name of the game was changed to just "ultimate" a while back).

Here's an NPR interview from 2008. It says that "For decades, ultimate has been popular among the tech-savvy elite of Silicon Valley," and "it's self-refereed, appealing to the libertarian ethos of most computer engineers." We're told it's "kind of a nerd sport," and "There's a lot of nerds who play it."

I'm picturing the drafters of the Wisconsin order — in the midst of all the coronacrazy — worrying that it might seem racially biased to permit walking, biking, hiking, and running and forbid basketball, soccer, and football. They brainstormed What's a contact sport that white people like?

Ah, yes, remember "Stuff White People Like"? #110 on the list was "Frisbee Sports":
It is important to know that when you hear a white person saying “we should do some ultimate this weekend” or “I’m so pumped for ultimate,” they are talking about a sport and not an “ultimate solution”-type race war. Though a quick look at a field full of Ultimate Frisbee players might lead one to surmise that an ethnic cleansing has taken place....

It can be jarring to see people who look like they should be playing acoustic guitars yelling at each other about whether or not Blake stepped out of bounds.... Since the sport has yet to be integrated, you could command a high fee in terms of money or favors if you agree to join one of the many white leagues in your area....

A bleak sunrise.


Whose slush?

"And how have I taken all of this? And why is it when attacked I rarely spoke out or seemed overly upset?"

"Well, given the malignant chaos of a purposeless universe, what’s one little false allegation in the scheme of things? Second, being a misanthropist has its saving grace — people can never disappoint you."

From Woody Allen's new memoir "Apropos of Nothing," quoted at

Also: "One of the saddest things of my life was that I was deprived of the years of raising Dylan and could only dream about showing her Manhattan and the joys of Paris and Rome. To this day, Soon-Yi and I would welcome Dylan with open arms if she’d ever want to reach out to us as Moses (Farrow) did, but so far that’s still only a dream."

I read the first few pages (at the Amazon link) and loved the writing style — full of vivid images and quick observations that are serious and comical. So I put it in my Kindle.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for someone he did not know.

Article at BBC, here.

The Bible verse is "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

"When Mr. Trump knows that he has more to gain than to lose by keeping an adviser, he has resisted impulses to fight back against apparent criticism..."

"... sometimes for monthslong interludes. One example was when he wanted to fire the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, in 2017 and early 2018. Another was Jeff Sessions, the former attorney general. Mr. Trump eventually fired both when he felt the danger in doing so had passed. So far, the president appears to be making the same calculation with Dr. Fauci, who was not on the briefing room podium on Monday evening.... [I]n the past two weeks, as Dr. Fauci’s interviews have increased in frequency, White House officials have become more concerned that he is criticizing the president. Officials asked him about the viral moment in the White House briefing room, when he put his hand to his face and appeared to suppress a chuckle after Mr. Trump referred to the State Department as the 'Deep State Department.'... Dr. Fauci, for his part, has been dismissive of some questions about whether he was at odds with the president, treating it as a news media obsession. 'I think there’s this issue of trying to separate the two of us,' he said on CBS."

Writes Maggie Haberman at the NYT.

"Query: How contrive not to waste one’s time? Answer: By being fully aware of it all the while."

"Ways in which this can be done: By spending one’s days on an uneasy chair in a dentist’s waiting-room; by remaining on one’s balcony all of a Sunday afternoon; by listening to lectures in a language one doesn’t know; by traveling by the longest and least-convenient train routes, and of course standing all the way; by lining up at the box-office of theaters and then not buying a seat; and so forth."

From page 26 of "The Plague" by Albert Camus, which I am rereading. Why did I pick out that passage? I liked the details, but I was also intrigued by the presentation of the problem of being fully aware. Being fully aware is the solution to wasting one's time. But the way to be fully aware demonstrates that the solution is worse than the problem.

"Though the theme songs to the film 'Bonnie & Clyde' (1967) and the CBS sitcom 'The Beverly Hillbillies,' both recorded by Flatt and Scruggs, preceded 'Dueling Banjos'..."

"... in exposing wide audiences to bluegrass, neither made it to the pop Top 40. 'Dueling Banjos,' which appeared on the soundtrack to the 1972 movie 'Deliverance,' fared far better, rising to No. 2 on the Billboard pop chart.... As a session player he appeared on Judy Collins’s 'Fifth Album,' contributing guitar to her 1965 version of 'Pack Up Your Sorrows.' He played banjo on John Denver’s 1971 Top 10 pop hit, 'Take Me Home, Country Roads.' His fretwork was heard on albums like Bob Dylan’s 'Blood on the Tracks' (1974), Billy Joel’s 'Piano Man' (1973) and the Talking Heads’ 'Little Creatures' (1985)."

From "Eric Weissberg, ‘Dueling Banjos’ Musician, Dies at 80/His melodic banjo work on a 1973 hit single (heard in the movie 'Deliverance') helped usher bluegrass music into the cultural mainstream" (NYT).

I was going to embed the scene from "Deliverance," but the visual aspect of it is creepy and not what I want right now, as evidenced by my instinct to go to "Take Me Home, Country Roads." The link goes to the studio version. There's a comment there from a week ago: "West Virginia is the last state without Coronavirus and that’s why I listen to this song."

"An Arizona man died and his wife was hospitalized after officials said they treated themselves on Sunday with a deadly home remedy for the new coronavirus..."

"... a popular fish tank additive that has the same active ingredient as an anti-malaria drug. The drug, known as chloroquine phosphate or chloroquine, has been bandied about by President Trump during White House briefings on the coronavirus pandemic as a potential 'game changer' in the treatment of Covid-19.... The woman told NBC News on Monday that she had heard Mr. Trump make repeated mentions of chloroquine during recent White House briefings on the coronavirus and that she used chloroquine phosphate to treat her koi fish. 'I saw it sitting on the back shelf and thought, "Hey, isn’t that the stuff they’re talking about on TV"'.... The fish tank additive is used to eliminate algae and to treat the white spot condition commonly known as ich. On eBay, prices for the additive have spiked during the coronavirus pandemic."

The NYT reports.

"Since the election of Ronald Reagan, America has tended to value individual market choice over collective welfare."

"Even Democratic administrations have had to operate within what’s often called the neoliberal consensus. That consensus was crumbling before coronavirus, but the pandemic should annihilate it for good. This calamity has revealed that the fundamental insecurity of American life is a threat to us all. 'There’s no such thing as society,' Margaret Thatcher famously said. 'There are individual men and women and there are families.' Tell that to the families effectively under house arrest until society gets this right."

From "Here Come the Death Panels/Obamacare didn’t lead to rationing. The mismanagement of the coronavirus will" by Michelle Goldberg (NYT).

"New York is far more crowded than any other major city in the United States. It has 28,000 residents per square mile..."

"... while San Francisco, the next most jammed city, has 17,000, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. All of those people, in such a small space, appear to have helped the virus spread rapidly through packed subway trains, busy playgrounds and hivelike apartment buildings.... Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, said on Monday that the 'attack rate' — the percentage of the population infected with the virus — was nearly one in 1,000 in the New York area, five times higher than in other parts of the country.... The city now has more coronavirus cases per capita than Italy.... [Governor Andrew Cuomo] said... people had been gathering in parks over the weekend and not staying far enough away from each other. He said he was still awaiting a plan from the city to prevent residents — especially young people — from getting too close, perhaps by imposing more controls on public spaces and opening some streets to pedestrians."

From a NYT article titled "Density Is New York City’s Big ‘Enemy’ in the Coronavirus Fight."

NYC can't change the number of residents per square mile, but it can change density in the sense of distance between people. Here's Cuomo, yesterday, talking about a plan to reduce density (and chewing out the young people who go to the park as if it's a day in the park):

"Backyard gym will have to do 🕺🏻."

(Faria is a pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers.)

(I don't know why the emoji turned the other way when all I did was copy and paste. I don't mean to misquote!)

March 23, 2020

Sunrise, 7:17.


Sunrise, 7:03.


Actual sunrise time, 6:55.

"No automaker is anywhere close to making medical gear such as ventilators and remain months away — if not longer."

"Nor do the car companies need the president’s permission to move forward. Neither GM or Ford is building ventilators at present, while Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted Friday that his company was 'working on ventilators' but he didn’t specify how long it might take.... 'When you are repurposing a factory, it really depends on how similar the new product is to the existing products in your product line,' said Kaitlin Wowak, a professor at the University of Notre Dame who focuses on industrial supply chains. 'It’s going to be a substantial pivot to start producing an entirely different item.'"

AP fact-checks Trump's optimism. I'm saying "optimism." The AP word is "hype": "AP FACT CHECK: Trump hype on auto industry and ventilators."

I get Trump's optimistic style, but it's not going to work on everyone. It may help keep the economy alive during its suspended animation, but it may make a lot of people very cynical. Who can trust what we are hearing? Maybe only people who already want to believe. But don't almost all of us — Trump haters or not — want to believe we will win, we'll conquer the virus, and the economy will spring back to life, as vibrant as ever?

"As an ER doctor, I am already faced with patients who arrive too sick to tell me their wishes, with no documentation of what those were when they were well enough to articulate them..."

"... and with family members who never asked and, as a result, just don’t know. It is in these situations, as I place tubes and lines in this failing body, that I worry we are not providing care that is concordant with their goals. If I had known that the 68-year-old with recently diagnosed metastatic breast cancer is more worried about being uncomfortable at the end of her life, rather than prolonging it, we wouldn’t have placed that breathing tube and would instead have focused our intensive efforts on making her comfortable. If I had known that the 81-year-old had always hoped to die at home, I would have spent more time trying to mobilize our home hospice team rather than defaulting to a hospital admission.... I recently had this conversation with my own father and found out that he worried more about getting overly aggressive care than he did about not getting enough.... I wish we didn’t have to make and share these difficult decisions, but I worry that we are in a situation that necessitates it even more than usual."

From "Do your loved ones a favor. Find out now how they want to die. I’m an ER doctor, and we need to know what matters most to your family member" by Emily Aaronson (in WaPo).

One thing that Aaronson doesn't talk about is how bad it is in a time of shortage to use hospital equipment and services on people who would prefer to be left at home and to struggle to breathe or die without the invasion of ventilator tubes.

Perhaps the inference is so obvious it's just brutal to specify it. That's a little ironic in an article about the problem of failing to "articulate" things. But I can see why Dr. Aaronson keeps quiet about anything that feels like utilitarianism.

"Emptiness and absence contradict the very concept of the city. The point of a city is social proximity..."

"... to see people deliberately spaced out, like the walking but never intersecting figures in a Giacometti, is to see what cities aren’t. In a historical sense, cities are always organisms of a kind, like coral reefs, where a lot of people come together to barter spices and exchange ideas and find mates, and endure the recurrent damage of infectious disease....  Outside, new patterns of wider spacing and greater caution assert themselves: Is that masked man contagious and to be avoided by crossing the street?...  Until last week, no one ever thought that Camus’s 'The Plague' was about the plague. It was the text through which generations of high schoolers were taught how not to read literally. It was always taken as a fable or an allegory, specifically of the German occupation of France. The people in Camus’s plague town of Oran did not in any way deserve to suffer from the disease, but the crisis revealed all the various human responses of cowardice, denial, and courage. The point was not that actual plagues tell us much, but that the pressure of extreme and unexpected events forces the flaws in our common character to the surface."

From "The Coronavirus Crisis Reveals New York at Its Best and Worst/In a time of containment, the city searches for a way forward" by Adam Gopnik (in The New Yorker).

Here's "The Plague" by Albert Camus, in case you don't already have it and you want to read/reread it. I just put it in my Kindle (though I have read it twice, quite a while back, including that time in high school French class).

And here's the Giacometti sculpture I'm 99% sure Gopnik had in mind:

It's "Piazza" (a familiar sight at the Guggenheim in NYC). And here's sculptor's explanation:
"In the street people astound and interest me more than any sculpture or painting. Every second the people stream together and go apart, then they approach each other to get closer to one another. They unceasingly form and re-form living compositions in unbelievable complexity.... It’s the totality of this life that I want to reproduce in everything I do...."
So Giacometti did not think his figures were — as Gopnik put it — "walking but never intersecting."  Giacometti saw the figures streaming together, then going apart, then approaching again. The artist was not — as Gopnik saw it — "see[ing] what cities aren’t." That is, the writer was seeing what the sculptor was not.

Giacometti was seeing what cities are — in times of plague and normal times — a living, moving, continual coming together and moving apart. We're in an apart phase, but we are together in our hearts, and we are keeping the city — the civilization — alive.

"Today our little Valentina is getting her heart surgery..."

"I’m 26. I don’t have any prior autoimmune or respiratory conditions."

"I work out six times a week, and abstain from cigarettes. I thought my role in the current health crisis would be as an ally to the elderly and compromised. Then, I was hospitalized for Covid-19.... As a generation with a supposed commitment to social justice, we should be stepping up in our role as allies to more vulnerable populations. Yet, somehow the message of staying home still isn’t permeating our ageism and ableism. Millennials, if you can’t be good allies, at least stay home to protect yourselves... Millennials are reported to care deeply about wellness and social justice...."

From "I’m 26. Coronavirus Sent Me to the Hospital/Millennials: If you can’t stay at home for others, do it for yourselves" by Fiona Lowenstein (NYT).

Supposed to be committed to social justice.... reported to care deeply about social justice....

Could it be that this commitment and caring was just a luxury of good times? If so, here's the selfish interest alternative you may have thought you were too good for.

Whatever. Just do the right thing, kids. Protecting yourself protects everybody. It's okay if your heart isn't pretty.

"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has an advantage McConnell lacks. She can pass a bill through her chamber..."

"... without any votes from the opposing party. McConnell cannot — his Senate bills need 60 votes. McConnell is trying to depict his bill as the only alternative, pressuring Democrats to support it. But Pelosi can turn this trick back on McConnell easily by passing a Democratic bill and demanding he do the same. It is odd she has yet to exert this source of leverage, instead waiting for McConnell’s Senate to take the lead."

Writes Jonathan Chait in "Democrats Should Vote Down Trump’s Corrupt Stimulus Slush Fund" (in New York Magazine).

It is odd, so find an interpretation of the facts that makes it not odd. I'm thinking the Democrats want distance from the McConnell bill. They want to say they opposed it, but they also need it to go through. The opposition is political theater. Pelosi is standing back, allowing that to play out quickly, because they all do know what a dire emergency this is, and there's the practical need to get some solution in the place as well as a political need not to look as though you put your politics above the the welfare of the people.

Back to Chait:
It is imperative that [Democrats] offer good-faith proposals to alleviate the economic emergency, rather than hoping to tank the economy and profit from the ruin.
Hoping to tank the economy and profit from the ruin!? I think, in context, Chait means that he thinks that's "what McConnell would do, were the circumstances reversed." He points to the way congressional Republicans behaved during the 2008 financial crisis.

Chait calls Democrats to "a higher standard of patriotism." He then proceeds to observe that the Republicans will deserve all the blame for "economic collapse," so the Democrats have leverage that they can use to get a bill balanced more toward Democratic Party ideology.

I think this kind of pressure on Pelosi can work. Quite recently, she opposed impeaching the President. She knew it was a bad idea, but she gave into pressure and allowed impeachment to go forward.

March 22, 2020

At the Isolation Café...


... we can get through this together.


Steve Martin gets it just right — the celebrity response to the coronavirus.

I won't call attention to celebrities who've gotten it wrong — other than to say Gal Gadot — but here's a celebrity doing it as close as I can imagine — and I do mean imagine — to perfect — right down to the natural soft setting and the delicate colors of his clothes and the gentle smile....

Distancing and the cherry blossoms...

They don't want you to appear in person. Use the BloomCam:

"President Trump has sent a letter to North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, expressing his willingness to help the North battle the coronavirus, North Korea said on Sunday."

"'I would like to extend sincere gratitude to the U.S. president for sending his invariable faith to the Chairman,' said Kim Yo-jong, the North Korean leader’s sister and policy aide.... Ms. Kim lauded Mr. Trump’s decision to write the letter as 'a good judgment and proper action.' In the letter, Mr. Trump 'wished the family of the Chairman and our people well-being,' Ms. Kim said, referring to his brother by one of his official titles. According to Ms. Kim, Mr. Trump also explained his plan to move relations between the two countries forward and 'expressed his intent to render cooperation in the anti-epidemic work, saying that he was impressed by the efforts made by the Chairman to defend his people from the serious threat of the epidemic.'"

The NYT reports.

"All of Ohio's abortion clinics have been ordered to stop providing the procedure as the state clamps down on medical services to preserve protective gear amid the growing coronavirus outbreak...."

"On Friday, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost sent letters to two facilities that provide abortion.... 'You and your facility are ordered to immediately stop performing non-essential and elective surgical abortions. Non-essential surgical abortions are those that can be delayed without undue risk to the current or future health of a patient... If you or your facility do not immediately stop performing non-essential or elective surgical abortions in compliance with the [health director's] order, the Department of Health will take all appropriate measures.'..."

CBS News reports.

ADDED: If the idea is to conserve medical resources, think of the health care needs of the pregnant woman. Imagine going through pregnancy and childbirth in a time of scarcity — perhaps extreme scarcity.

What if, 9 months from now, women are left to give birth on their own — home births for everybody, without a doctor or even a doula? It will be a time of people dying alone from coronavirus, suffering and pleading visibly on Twitter, and begging for help that will never come.

"And woe unto them that are with child..." said Jesus Christ, speaking of end times, though certainly not recommending abortion.

Now, if the idea is something other than to conserve medical resources, then that is exactly what is unconstitutional under the current case law. That's a reason not to speak openly about that other motivation, if that's what is going on in Ohio.

I have not read the comments on this post yet, though I see there are 44 right now. If some of you are already talking about how it is good to save the unborn and you think this is what Yost is doing, then you are making the argument that his action is unconstitutional.

"Is there a way to make music that includes... cars honking, trains going past, buses grinding gears, people shouting in the streets?"

"We’d been reading ‘Silence,’ by John Cage, and that was the last key really. Chairs scraping can now be the music; what do we want to include? No drummer, because music is so quickly fixed and made traditional and acceptable by the four-four-drum pan of the rock music. Then why do you need to know how to play? What is an instrument? Something that makes a noise, amplified or not. We don’t need to know how to play. What’s around? What can we use, in the spirit of a Duchamp readymade?... [Cossi Fan Tutti] didn’t like electric guitar, because it was too heavy, so we got an electric saw and sawed off the bits we didn’t like. I didn’t really like the trying to learn where to put my fingers, and it wasn’t necessary for our purposes. Another member, Sleazy, who was Peter Christopherson, was really into William Burroughs, so he said, 'I’d really like to involve cutups, with a tape recorder.' He altered walkman tape recorders so when you played a cassette you could hear both sides at the same time..... Chris built synthesizers. Nobody was using them in England. We said, 'That’s great—it’s very anti-rock.'... Industrial music for industrial people.... And little did we know it would become a global phenomena—from that tiny space and four people who couldn’t play.... We had a big digital clock onstage, and we played only an hour; we were clocking on and off.... We had wanted to make music like Ford made cars on the industrial belt. Industrial music for industrial people."

From "Industrial Music for Industrial People: The Singular Legacy of Genesis P-Orridge" (in The New Yorker)(and here's where we talked about the NYT obituary for P-Orridge).

"These weeks of confinement can be seen also, it seems to me, as weeks of a national retreat, a chance to reset and rethink our lives, to ponder their fragility."

"I learned one thing in my 20s and 30s in the AIDS epidemic: Living in a plague is just an intensified way of living. It merely unveils the radical uncertainty of life that is already here, and puts it into far sharper focus. We will all die one day, and we will almost all get sick at some point in our lives; none of this makes sense on its own (especially the dying part). The trick, as the great religions teach us, is counterintuitive: not to seize control, but to gain some balance and even serenity in absorbing what you can’t."

Writes Andrew Sullivan in "How to Survive a Plague" (New York Magazine).

"David Lat is in critical condition and has been has been put on a ventilator at NYU Langone Hospital in Manhattan, where his fight with the coronavirus has taken a turn for the worse..."

"... according to his husband, Zachary Baron Shemtob.... Asked if the doctors had talked about or know Lat’s prognosis, Shemtob responded, 'It’s a bit much for me right now.... I just want to folks to know that he is so strong; he is hanging in there, and we are praying he’ll recover.... Any thoughts or prayers people have are much appreciated... Please be vigilant and careful as possible....It’s really important to get that message'...." reports.

Very sad!