Thursday, July 30, 2020

Why do we still have a pandemic? 150 000 have died!

We can blame the president, states, various people that had the power to sop travel and arrange proper quarantine (Hong Kong, despite little land, does that).



But jut thinking about regular people, we have some 3 million cases now. The recovered have some immunity. Some people never knew they had it. Let us say there are 10-15 million that were affected. That is not enough for herd immunity. Even with vaccinations, we have 25-30 million flu cases every year. (Another roughly equal number was vaccinated.) That gives us herd immunity, and also, flu is seasonal. Coronavirus is not.

We could look at 10 infected people. In them we have 2 older people. They are very careful and alert. They will go and get tested at the slightest symptom. The old person will likely infect their spouse, as most of them live daily under one roof. They could infect one other person, as there is some chance that one of them had contact with some close by person. They wore the mask, but other people around them did not. It probably takes two masks on TWO people to prevent infection at some 90% level.

Some 5 people of various ages are in the group. They are working people, attempting to go about their jobs. Those 5 infected 10 people before they figured out to stay home. Then there are 3 young people. They are not worried. There are less than 300 people dead in the country in the under 24 group. They did infect some 20 people, but mostly young people. If they contacted friends, they had a chance to stop most of the spread to a third person in line. So some 20 people got sick, recovered from it.

How many total got sick from our 10 people? More than 10. Also those passed it on. Otherwise the pandemic would count fewer and fewer new cases day by day.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Our Failure At Social Distancing

Back in April, most of us understood the rules: stay home, avoid crowds, wear a mask if you have one.


Since a lot of businesses closed for several weeks, people stayed home, did outdoor recreation, watched TV and followed the Internet. With the few choices of activity, that worked very well. We all understood and followed the rules quite well for a month. We all did, Biden and Trump supporters all in the same boat then.

It's now failing, because people are interacting normally. They have started group activities, and this may include a number of groups for you, not just the family or close friends. People also started wearing the masks and then believing they are safe. They are not. If a senior walks into a grocery store, and if there is an infected person inside, you are still at risk. If that person is wearing a mask and you are wearing a mask, and you start talking to them, the mask offers some protection, but you are still at risk. The mask also prevents you from playing with your mouth and nose while you are in the store. BUT, you still want to shop as fast as you can. Don't read product labels, you can read them at home and make a note on that product for later shopping.

I wear a mask outdoors when I expect to run into a few more people. It's not because I feel at risk, it is more due to the fact that I am discouraging strangers from talking to me. I avoid eye contact.

People with teenagers have gotten them out of the house. They are doing a lot of sports and similar activities. The risk is low. We have less than 160 deaths so far among people 15-24 in the USA. The documented cases in that group are about 14 000. However, they will still get sick and bring the disease home to you.

There is not a lot of politics involved, but the Trump supporters that deny science, hate rules etc. are obviously the worst violators of the rules. The Black Lives activities produced some crowds outdoors as well. But even in that group (blacks in cities), you are more likely to get sick at church than outdoors.

Some ethnic groups are more touchy feely. It will be difficult to adjust to not doing all that for a full year.

The masks are of use, but the people are having a hard time incorporating social distancing to their lives. As long as they do this, and the great majority goes to work (work indoors), we are not going to get past this pandemic. My prediction is that is will flatten slightly from the strange July peak, but we will be in the much the  situation a year from now.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

New election theme for Trump voters: No masks

Even though it's been shown that masks help stop the spread coronavirus, especially if the infected person wears it, the people are mad. These people will not believe the virus is anything serious, until they themselves are sick.


You can find the video under that name in Youtube, but the school board meeting had to be postponed due to them.

All this is very consistent with Trump voters: deny science, deny global warming, do not get vaccinated. Why? Because the Federal Government is behind it, and somewhere in there is buried a conspiracy, the real purpose being the manipulation of MAGA-hat wearing Americans.

This cannot end well, and my prediction is that large numbers of people in red states, smaller towns and the South will insist on ignoring the pandemic and a good many will survive to vote for Trump. It will be a very divided election, red states going very red, blue states very blue. The other issues in the election will be buried under all this.

With people evicted from rental housing, others losing the exta 600 dollars per month income and those working with the sick making a strong statement (watch MSNBC, CNN) nightly, the fate of battleground states likely will go slightly blue. I predict Trump will not win any rust belt states.

The election will be close, states will have to do recounts, and Trump will not give up. He will only leave kicking and screaming.



Saturday, June 20, 2020

Donald Trump

Presidents, as well as other famous people, used to get a small entry in these one volume encyclopedias that used to be popular when we still had books. Here is Nixon:


I've been having some fun with Trump humor books, finally. I'm optimistic about the November election.

So we are now ready to write one of the "encyclopedia entries" for Trump. Mostly factual. Trump himself has almost no sense of humor, but there is a comical twist to the whole affair from 2016 on. Going in, Trump and fellow libertarians wanted to make a point: we don't need your government regulation and all those emergency functions. We can figure it out on our own. Here we are in 2020, and we do need the government in our current mess.

Donald Trump, 1946-2021, 45th President of the United States


Donald Trump was a reality TV-host and billionaire, who also had a line of failing casinos. His real estate business was run by professionals, Trump was rarely involved in anything but meeting leaders of countries and getting his name in big letters on the hotel. He was basically a brand, sold to anyone he cared to be involved with.

Before we launch into Trump, let us note that much of his support was from voters who hated "the government telling me what to do." This applied to farmers, property owners, mines, the oil industry. After we got Trump, he launched immediately into harassing women and liberals with executive orders. Defund Planned Parenthood etc. A different type of government intrusion. A friend reported going to get a hair cut in the summer of 2020. A male customer was not happy having to wear a face mask. "I don't like the government telling me what to do with my body." The hair cutter (woman) responded: You are lucky you don't have a uterus.

Trump took it upon himself to destroy the legacy of Barack Obama, including the healthcare plan still in use by tens of millions who do not have work related insurance. Trump resented a black man using presidential powers and making a fool of Trump at a correspondents' dinner. Trump had to run for president.

So it was that he also landed in the campaign when a lot of white working class folks had lost their factory and mining jobs. Catching just 100 000 of these people in the right states, Trump convinced them that foreigners, Democrats and the Deep State were at fault. It was a bad time for many, so someone had to be at fault! Trump then captured enough votes in the antiquated electoral college to win the election, as it was. Perhaps Russia and an army of internet trolls helped.

Trump proceeded to go directly into his America First program. He fashioned himself an autocrat. We will build a wall with Mexico. Trump did not realize how the federal government works, or even the presidency. He also did not want it to work, as far as government agencies go. They merely slow down enterprise and give money away to...liberals and the poor. But fortunately for us he failed in many ambitious projects, as he did not work well with congress and really did not understand funding. At first, he seemed to operate only with executive orders, blocking visas from foreigners, in a list of countries that seemed to all be Muslim countries. Except of course Saudi Arabia. We all had to witness a strange ritual of Trump and Saudi royalty with a strange glowing globe. It was a lesson to us all in just how wide the powers of a US president are. Obama tried some of the same, with severe criticism from the right.


The foreigners actually continued to come. Some had lived in Europe before. It turns out we do not have enough college educated people from the US in many fields, from Silicon Valley to the health care industry to engineers to doctors.

Congress two years later changed enough to slow him down even more. Through his four years, Trump did learn that the court system was as difficult for him now as it was when he was just a billionaire. Careful manipulation of courts would need to be put in. "Get me someone who can fix this." It did not help any that Trump attempted to make deals with foreign governments with no state department team involved. Some of these deals benefited Trump politically and personally and were seen as illegal by many.

Trump decided foreign countries were bad for America, aside from Russia.  Also, international agencies were bad. He liked to pull out of everything and cancel anything that Obama signed. He pulled out of climate agreements, WHO and would have destroyed NATO in his second term.

The simple-minded folk who voted for him ( see Just How Stupid Are We? by Rick Shenkman) were in the dark for most of the four years of Trump's only term, never realizing they paid for tariffs Trump placed on goods from China that they buy at Wal Mart. Another thing that Trump was very successful at was interpreting science to his "base." They had been trained by Foxnews and Alex Jones to be suspicious of science. Trump was just the man to explain that coronavirus was nothing really bad, it's like the flu. And you don't have to believe in global warming anymore. Because it's still cold in the winter.

Trump is telling the same stories about Democrats (abortion, Biden etc.) for the fifth year in a row. They still pile in to listen to him. Even with coronavirus in the arenas. Just seconds ago he rambled on to talk about Brazil and the virus and going "herd" (herd immunity) after rambling about stock markets. And Obama is still "giving Iran 150 billion dollars." It was the Iranians' own money frozen in bank accounts.

Almost a year of the Trump "presidency" was wasted chasing real or concocted evidence in Ukraine against Joe Biden and his son Hunter. He was impeached by the House for the attempted quid pro quo (holding off aid to Ukraine for weeks).

Trump was briefly shaken by this disloyalty by his own congress, but finally saved by his Senate where red states still hold power. And things that he failed at always nagged him, even after the bluster in his Tweets about "I won." So he would sick his most skillful and also most crooked Attorney General Bill Barr on assorted enemies, firing officials and judges left and right. Barr never acted for the US, he was always just Trump's survival machine. Trump also had many loose ends in his private matters. The story for four years was that a sitting president could not be taken to court.

The stunts that Trump pulled to stay in power are too numerous to list. Other stunts were purely election tricks. Concerned that statues were pulled down and federal buildings were vandalized, Trump sent unspecified federal troops to cities. The number of troops was too small to achieve "law and order" as he stated, but did indeed provoke crowds to more violence and clashes with Trump and Barr provided troops. Trump immediately went to claim that the "far left" was taking over the country. In truth, all cities had plenty of troops to keep order and arrest the worst offenders. Trump had no legal right to send federal troops to do policing. Even the National Guard, when called to disasters, does not arrest people.

Fortunately for the US, the voters drawn to Trump in 2016 and 2018 were not as dominant in 2020 by election time. Black Live Matter protests brought in a lot of black and Democrats voters who somehow forgot to vote in 2016. And the Trump followers did not care for any Republicans after him trying to cash in on this populist movement. They failed to act dumb and regular while speaking, and appeared pretty much like the politicians that they were.

In November we were done with Trump, though he actually caused a lot of trouble for months after. But he was a one time phenomenon, he was not coming back.

In June of 2021 Trump choked on a chicken nugget at his Mar-a-Lago resort. Secret service failed to dislodge it, when called in to check on him 20 minutes later. He is buried at Mar-a-Lago.

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Great Revolt: Great Fiction

I was at the book store, where I am now only stopping by every two weeks. Not that it has many clients. I was sick of staring at e-books, so I got something on paper.


Well, don't buy that book. I was barely able to get anything new out of it as far as the mind of the Trump voter. And the revolt itself, well, it really did not materialize. There are several chapters theorizing on the Trump revolution, and even a permanent change in politics, between the people profile chapters.

The people are still angry, and they will vote for Trump. But their actions merely resulted in a populist president. Who has not delivered much to their rust belt. The book gives some useful back ground on the rust belt towns and cities. The economy has changed. The union jobs are not there anymore. But you can read all about that in a book that is not politically slanted:

JANESVILLE

The thing about the economy is, the US president does not have the power to stop manufacturing jobs going abroad. In a bad economy, the president can bail out industries to survive another few years and to even succeed in a good economy. Both Bush and Obama dealt with that, Obama the better.

The old people (yes, 70s mostly) interviewed are of the same mold:
1 not interested in politics
2 hard workers
3 watch Foxnews for info
4 mostly working class roots
5 they all voted by gut feel and dislike nearly all politicians
6 a smaller set are NRA people
7 one phrase turned many of them: drain the swamp
8 a good portion were finally converted at a Trump rally

There is plenty of theorizing from the authors about these communities, the role of Democrats and of unions. But there is not one person interviewed in the book who makes a sensible argument to prove that the Democrats were at fault for this. Someone or something caused the downfall of the rust belt. I would look to the 1% as the decision makers there.

Was it regulation then, that closed mines? There has not even been an environmental reason for the downfall of coal. It just is not the thing anymore. There is plenty of coal for electricity generation in Wyoming for instance, and fossil fuels have gone elsewhere with fracking. Just brought this up as a possible topic to cover. But no, it is mainly a discussion of disingenuous Hillary and honest "says what he means" Trump. A few times there is a mention of Hillary's lack of a plan. That is actually true, she had nothing new to add, just continue the Obama route. But Hillary is basically a politician, who bends her views with the times to get her party's support. Her personal beliefs may be very close to what she says. However, her calculated way of speaking comes off as dishonest.

Trump on the other hand, I believe, has no opinion on most matters. He just picks on the "vibes" of whatever group he sees as supporting. It is pure acting, a reality TV show. It is difficult to believe the Trump voters continue to believe him genuine. One election maybe, but three years?

Very few of them really understand how the federal government works, or the presidency. The general idea of a "good president" to them is one who completely disregards foreign leaders. Many still believe Trump was taxing china when Trump raised tariffs.

On page 84, a woman named Hutchins, one of the Rough Rebounders, as the authors call them, recites anti Obama text right out of Foxnews: "Oh my god, the end of this can't come soon enough. He keeps doing damage. He keeps doing irreparable damage to our country, financially. We were just out of control and everybody started expecting everything can be free."

You get the idea. There was nothing wrong with the Obama economy. Now we are in a recession. yes, jobs were going from coal and manufacture to service, But that is what they are still doing under Trump.

I had some sympathy for the Ohio pastor that did not hate Obama, but his wife did. There of course the "liberals had gone too far" and provided gay marriage and included birth control in health care. Really? My immoral behavior prevents your religious liberty?

There are relatively few people in the book that required much from the state, except that well over half of those interviewed are on Medicare. The government they hate so much (and Washington) is in fact taking care of them. Republicans have not ended social security yet.

The people in the book are retired, or running a shop or a service. I can imagine being in one of their shops and relating to them on that level. But I really could not have an intelligent discussion with any of them about politics. Reality will hit them eventually. But because of the delay in effects any president has, they will not understand what part was caused by Trump and what by his follower.

I am relieved, though, that many of these people are not true Republicans (though there is some fiddling here with that, many people claimed in the book to have been former Democrats were in fact always Republicans). Many are disinterested in politics, so once this outsider and "populist" is gone, they will not vote again.

I have only read half the book, so there may be some editing to this post as I struggle to the end. OK, the last three of four chapters were just propaganda, no interviews.

The book does deserve some credit in clearly listing the counties that flipped to Trump. It was in fact a Trump phenomenon. The long term drift to the right in the middle of the country is of course an equally strong factor. These states had been sort of DRIVEN to the right by grassroots activism and gerrymandering, such as the case of Kansas:

What's The Matter With Kansas?

Monday, June 15, 2020

Policy Schmolicy! It's all about Trump

There are issues in the election, and Trump has taken the riots to mean he needs to push for Law and Order. The wall with Mexico was getting old anyway. So there are policy issues going into the election. Black lives do matter, and black turnout will be almost the same as 2008. But still, this is a Trump election.


It should be obvious by now that policy takes a back seat to personality. Trump voters vote by gut feel. They may be racist, they may be sick of Federal Government, but these are not people that analyze politics well. The general principles of Trump are good enough for them. Any details of politics they hear are at the Foxnews level. They are following politics more for the entertainment value. These national politics really do not seem to affect them much. Local politics is closer to their heart. Since they are all white voters, the hard line law and order slogan works for them. And black lives do not matter, nor do people in cities. Rural poverty and oxycontin did matter. Trump has done very little about those either. At least he has not prevented opiate crisis actions.

One of these white males that got Trump in is my dentist. He really hates politicians (even his Republicans, he only tolerates those) and does not see the need for them. There is a group of voters whose only goal is to get as much of our tax money back to state. They see the state senators, who have jobs or are retired, as ideal politicians. They don't cost much!

Trump himself has no real opinions on many matters, but he does seem to be in tune with his voters to pick up on opportunities. He does take some news item like the riots and squeeze the most out of it to get support from the Foxnews type of media. "Socialism" and all that is in the news again. But Trump is doing in fact all he can to get re-elected. He cannot change course. His entire presidency has been a type of game show character. He knows very well if he now strays from this and becomes an accomplished Republican, for example, his fans will no longer identify with him. Whether planned or by gut feel, he has kept true to the created character President Trump.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Black lives matter vs. Trump and his followers

There's just been a lot going on, with our coronavirus social distancing and then an event, a rather small event as far as abuse of blacks and police brutality goes (Rodney King anyone, Watts riots?*). This thing has been going on for decades, and I don't even know what the solution would be. But the reason this blew up so fast was the video, and social media.

It could have been a protest, nationwide, left to mayors to handle. The states also have national guard units.

But Trump could not leave it alone. Using the special situation of Washington DC not being a state and screaming "LAW AND ORDER" in his tweets, he had Bill Barr bring in special troops.


From various federal agencies in uniforms suitable for riots, they had no credentials, no names, no insignia. As Rachel Maddow pointed out, we must be able to identify which law enforcement unit abused us. It is a right that goes beyond local law, but you would sue your city.

On top of this, assorted false actors stepped in to make a bigger mess. The looters and rioters may have been city folk, but outsiders did interfere. But they were not so called "antifa," which in fact does not even exist. People protesting against white supremacists were simply labeled that, but they are not in any way organized.

So how do these things organize then? We have social media, where people can announce their peaceful or other protests ahead of time. Then people appear. I would certainly be mad if I saw George Floyd executed in a phone video clip, and if I were black I probably would have been out there.

As far as social media goes, be critical. Certainly this time the video showed the truth, but in general, things like a guy running a Youtube channel are not reliable. Some of those guys get paid for spreading fake stories.


I have protested Trump, climate change, our rights etc. many times. But it was probably best I did not go out. Even in our small city there was looting, damage and people injured. I did not want to be the 70-year old man that the police in Buffalo knocked over. Our mayor, though aware of the black community and normally in tune with how things are, did not realize she caused a bit more anger and damage by imposing a curfew on a Friday night. Our police were able to handle the situation as far as manpower, so no curfew was going to be needed. And it would not have stopped people being outside.

So, what can be done? Not much, federally. Congress cannot require states to retrain their police, it's a state matter. They can withhold federal funding for other things, until the states reform. Bail is an outdated system, and poor people that might not get any jail time for their more minor crimes may sit in jail until their case comes up. I believe some bigger cities have scrapped this for the duration of our coronavirus pandemic. Jails full of people is not going to help us.

*Watts riots:
(WIKI)
On August 11, 1965, Marquette Frye, an African-American motorist on parole for robbery, was pulled over for reckless driving. A minor roadside argument broke out, which then escalated into a fight with police.[2] Community members reported that the police had hurt a pregnant woman, and six days of civil unrest followed.[3] Nearly 14,000 members of the California Army National Guard [4] helped suppress the disturbance, which resulted in 34 deaths[5] and over $40 million in property damage.[6] It was the city's worst unrest until the Rodney King riots of 1992.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Coronavirus Long Term Guessing and Day To Day Practice

We have a president who wants to meddle in decisions by healthcare professionals, who also completely disregarded our health and even our insurance for 3 years. Now he meddles like an amateur. The only thing I have to note there is that GOVERNMENT, the one he and libertarians want to whittle down to nothing, is the only thing that is helping you at the moment. It could also have been involved in vaccines (yes, we could have had one after SARS already, and this new one would be a variant of it) and quarantine much earlier.

In the case of Trump himself, he gets tested every day, and people he meets are all tested first. So he is fine example of elitism, even when he tells meat packers to go back to work.

But let us put that aside for the moment, as we do have a pandemic to deal with, and we are doing as well as we can at the state level. Yet, there are problems, still. The bump may have been there already for many states, but because of our social distancing, it is going down very slowly because in many states the infected are still only at the 1-2% of the population level.

WHAT IS THE THREAT TO YOU? TO ME?

Suppose you want to go to work, and just get on with it. You might work in a food processing plant and up to half of you there might get it. Then it would be easier from that point on, as some will recover and come back to work and keep the place running. The problem would come if new temporary workers are brought in. They would get sick, as the whole group has  very few, maybe 1%, that already had it without knowing it. They will all get sick now. Say you have 500 people in your plant and you are all 45-65 years of age. Five of you will die. The rest may have complicated recovery, but a year from now 90% of you would still be at your job.


WHAT ABOUT ME?

I may well have those 500 workers or even more living in my city, as we have those plants, at least nearby. Suppose you all have the illness, and there are 2000 of you. You pass it to all family members and there are now 10 000 sick in my city. That seems a lot, but if you know to stay home, there might only be 1000 of you at stores and outdoors, sick but not aware of it yet. Some may recover soon and never see a doctor. That puts another 1000 on our streets and stores. If I meet one of those people, I am in trouble. My age group has 2-3% deaths in those that get the disease. Not a fun thought. But still only maybe 3 times worse than the working age group. If I minimize my shopping to food, car care, essential things, I do not need to have contact with other people. I can cut my hair for a year if I have to. My contact with outsiders can be as little as 1-2 hours a week inside stores. That is my greatest risk. Outdoors, the risk is something much less, maybe ten times less.

RISKS WITH TRAVEL

For you and me, the retiree, travel is a risk. If you can drive a day and stay with friends at the destination, you are OK. Hotels, airports, airplanes, not so good.

WORLDWIDE

Worldwide, a million or more people will die. it will be a big challenge to healthcare, and a cost. They will try to save as many as they can, otherwise several million will die. Each year some 500 000 die of flu. Much of that could have been prevented by vaccine, but there are other issues with old people, such as pneumonia.  One reason is reduced lung capacity, but also the immune system does not work as well with older people.

The medical fields have done a great job with some viruses, but these viruses such as coronavirus and flu, where there is mixing between species, are always going to be a problem. The disease is then called zoonotic. There is a pool of animals out there ready to deliver a virus back to us after the viruses from animals mix parts and get a variety that then jumps back to humans. Other diseases, such as polio, do not have a pool of virus in animals, so it can be controlled in humans better.

MASKS

There is no excuse for the governments not to have started production of n95 masks. They are not that hard to make.


Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Quarantine

This time I have a simple message: If you are over 50, stay at home if you can. If you get cabin fever, go outdoors. You can even drive somewhere. If you run out of gas, go to the least busy gas station, wipe hands with sanitizer after fill up. Any business you need to do, try a drive through one. Use a credit card.

Now, that was easy. Almost nobody argues against quarantine, not even Trump after a few weeks. Only people like Nunes are acting like idiots. Most governors are reacting.


We are not going to shut down businesses, and people who do not work with services but make or reseach products have to go to work. And they are not even in danger, if they are under 50.

0.4% of Coronavirus deaths in 2020 in the US (and Europe) have been in people under 50. If they died, mostly they had a medical condition.

(There is at least one in their 40s and two in their 50s among the first 60 in US)
However, if you can quarantine yourself, please do! You are doing it for us who are over 50, even more for us who are over 60. I am in a medium size city that has no coronavirus cases. There is a small number in the state, but they are in the county that has the major airport. I am not likely to meet any infectious person in the next few weeks, if I do not travel by air. We took a trip by car for 6 hours and spent a weekend in a big city. I think it had less than 5 cases then. We took a risk. Many others would not take that risk. It's been 10 days, so it is unlikely I caught even the flu there.

MISIFORMATION: There is a lot of misinformation out there regarding the virus. There is even bad infromation from "experts" on practices to avoid the virus. The recommendations are not awful, but THEY MAY GIVE YOU A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY, if you practice them.

Stay home, move outdoors, try to get a new routine during our pandemic weeks and months. I will probably vote in the primary, but as I will eventually vote for our party, it is not essential to go. (Turns out we can have a mail in primary).

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Federal Rights and State Rights and our two parties

Our states have been labeled red and blue by the last election.


There are common ideas that unite both parties, but the future trends in the Republican party are difficult to predict. On the whole, they have favored state rights, as then the Republicans can gerrymander and rule all they will, passing abortion related laws that try to go around the spirit of the law, banning the clinics on various technical grounds.

The Republican party has been known to hang on to power by whatever means. They are losing people as the country becomes more a group of more multicultural, tolerant people. So we do not know where their judges will take us as far as state and federal rules go. They will resist forever approving marijuana on a nation wide scale. But you have to go case by case,

Suppose the courts overrule Roe vs Wade. By the constitution that would then fall to states to decide. We would have abortion states and non-abortion states. States would try to block travel for abortion. But they could then come back and pass a new law. "In this case" the federal government can decide what to do. They will pass laws to ban abortion at say 3 weeks initially, then all abortions.

The politicians and judges will then have a track record of backing states on some issues, controlling them on others.