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The First Wave of Reclosing

Reopening has, as I expected, gone so super well that Reclosings are now firmly under way. LA County, which never actually met the Reopening criteria it distributed, has been told to close bars and nightclubs and so on and is also closing the beaches for the 4th of July weekend. Don’t know why on the beaches. There’s no evidence of outdoor spread. Seems stupid and counterproductive. But the bars and nightlife stuff should never have been Re-opened. And now they’re Reclosed in 7 counties.

Hospitalizations are soaring. Oops.https://www.latimes.com/projects/california-coronavirus-cases-tracking-outbreak/

The mate and I went to the Huntington Sunday afternoon with friends for the first time since the safe at home order began. Huntington’s allowed to reopen the gardens for nonmembers on July 1st, with limited timed tickets, etc. Friend Ann says the school reopening plan will basically mean 6 days of home schooling, 4 days in-classroom. This would be interrupted anytime a student turns up positive with a two week quarantine. That’s gonna be chaos in the fall.

It’s not just California. Texas rushed to Reopen and is now Reclosing. So far it’s just bars closed and restaurant capacity reduced 50%. So far the state hasn’t done what Newsom did and require masks in public. I expect that will change too.

Arizona’s approaching full capacity of its hospitals too and Reclosed bars, restaurants, gyms and apparently river tubing. They are short of PPE in hospitals again and are starting to ration care by life expectancy etc. Death panels.

Florida is, of course, the dumbest state. Cases soaring but continuing re-opening, except for beaches. The Republican National Convention will be in Jacksonville, which just invoked its own mask requirement. I bet they ignore it.

The #trumpdeathtoll to date.

The EU is not going to let Americans in. Wise move. Facebook is finally starting to suffer advertising loss over its continued refusal to police hate speech and health disinformation and of course its continued promotion of Mad King Donald. The stock market is soaring while the unemployment situation is very confusing. We still have sky-high weekly unemployment filings but BLS says most states have seen employment increases.

I can’t keep up

So it’s been only 11 days since the last post that I didn’t actually post on time. The Mate and I were supposed to be road tripping back east to see the parents but that fell through. With reopening going badly Mother viewed it as too much risk. That means probably next year before I get there again. Which sucks.

Don the Con’s Tulsa rally was delayed by a day to avoid Juneteenth after all. The campaign allowed unlimited tickets for a 19k seat venue. They claimed nearly a million people were going to the rally but only 6200 actually showed. Turns out the Kpop and TikTok crowds punked them. They scarfed up the tickets and thereby contaminated the campaign’s dataset. You’d think the local GOP would be able to fill a stadium that size anyway but apparently not. 🙂

Coverup Barr used the cover of the Tulsa rally to fire another US attorney in NY, a court-appointed AG for the Southern District of New York. He claimed on Friday night (19th I think) that the AG was resigning but he hadn’t; apparently his intent was to appoint the current chairman of the SEC, a Trump loyalist with no prosecutor experience and who happened to be at. . .Deutsches Bank. Big surprise there. Apparently the House Judiciary committee will finally subpoena Barr. Talk about your crooked mob lawyers.

Re-Opening’s going swimmingly well. The US passed its previous high number of COVID-19 cases, with major surges in Texas, Arizona, and Florida. More than half the states are now showing rapid spread again according to Rt.live.

In LA County, cases are up but hospitalizations are relatively stable so far. Statewide hospitalizations are increasing though. Newsom ordered masks worn throughout the state when around other people, overriding Orange County, which forced out its public health officer in order to lift her mask order. Kinda backfired.

Texas is quickly becoming the worst state, with cases and hospitalizations both doubling. Their governor became a mask advocate today. Funny that.

Economic data suggests people aren’t getting on airplanes still but are traveling locally instead. Restaurants are still seeing far less traffic. And “only” 1.5 million more unemployment claims were filed last week.

A plague of covidiots

We took a weeklong visit to our Mammoth Lakes vacation place prior to the resumption of rentals. The town was largely still closed down, but we encountered enough people to see that maybe half take the pandemic seriously. Rentals start next weekend, though we may keep our place off the market. We came back to LA on Saturday, just in time for a heat wave.

Utterly unsurprisingly, the pandemic is surging again in a bunch of places: Arizona, Texas being the biggest, but I guess the tally is 21 states over all. The Grifter-in-Chief has moved the RNC National Convention to . . .Jacksonville, FL! Had to shrink it, and apparently his lawyers don’t think the pandemic is a hoax, as they’re requiring signed liability release forms.

Perhaps it’s worth noting here that one noted TV show, the Good Place, has treated Jacksonville as the armpit of the US for three said seasons.

Also it’s probably worth noting that Orange County has dropped its mask rules, ignoring all evidence to the contrary. Good thing I have no reason to ever venture down to the Fourth Reich.

The Black Lives Matter narrative has taken another sudden shift, this time to tearing down statues. Mostly it’s Confederates getting yanked off their pedestals, but a few Columbus’ have lost their heads and even a random English slave trader got dumped in the canal. NASCAR has banned the Confederate flag, and so has the US Navy. Elizabeth Warren apparently has put a rider on the defense appropriations bill requiring the Army to change the names of bases named for Confederate soldiers within 3 years. She’s daring The Donald to veto it. 🙂

Did I mention Herr Fuhrer is holding his first campaign rally in months down in Tulsa, site of a 1921 massacre, on Juneteenth? No masks required, of course. You just can’t make this shit up.

NB: Written on June 11th but not posted in a timely manner. Sorry to my future self.

Crew Dragon flight

One of the handful of bright spots in the past week from hell was Saturday’s launch of the SpaceX crew demo 2 mission from KSC. It went off without a hitch (other than weather delay from the previous Thursday).

Watched it up in Mammoth with Andrea. Given the police riots going on, I was thinking of Whitey on the Moon instead of anything actually. . .uplifting.

Marina Koren expressed this well.

Re-Opening suddenly ends. . .is state terror beginning?

I don’t even really know where to start with this post. I guess I’ll start in the middle, though I can’t yet see the end.

On May 25th, four police officers in Minneapolis murdered an African-American man in daylight, with witnesses and, of course, cell phone video. His name was George Floyd, and the police had been called by a store owner who claimed he was trying to pass a bad $20 check.

There were Black Lives Matter protests. Obviously. The Minneapolis Police Department tear gassed the protestors and started a riot. It has now spread through the entire US. In some places, police departments are handling it well, but in others the police are the problem. Militarized police forces have decided that the citizens are the enemy. LA County’s got a curfew now. It was “reopened” at Stage 3 (rather fraudulently as it was nowhere near the 14 days of declining infections requirement) for two days before the police riots and curfews started.

After hiding in the White House bunker and tweeting to provoke more violence, today President Pussygrabber had a phone call with governors of affected states in which he demanded that they use more force against protestors. The audio leaked in seconds, because of course it did. Then he had federal police gas a nonviolent protest group that was chanting in front of the White House so he could use a nearby church for a photo op. And he threatened to send federal soldiers to states that weren’t violent enough in ending the protests. He can’t legally do that–governors have to ask for them–but the law has never bound him.

Trump threatens states with military force.

Senator Tom Cotton called for the armed forces to commit war crimes against Americans. Representative Matt Gaetz wants protesters hunted down and killed. The God-King Himself used the words of a Miami segregationist police chief to call for killing protesters.

I’ve not seen a single elected Republican criticize this bloodlust. Not even Mitt Romney.

In the annals of “you can’t make this shit up,” the LA Police Chief, Michael Moore, pinned the blame for George Floyd’s death on protestors, getting time’s arrow wrong. And probably inflaming things, since we (used to?) have a right of peaceful protest. Garcetti should fire him. But I expect he won’t. LAPD (and other police forces) has been targeting reporters, making the threat clear. I never thought I’d say this, but I might be joining the defund the police crowd. UPDATE: Garcetti made Moore apologize. Better than nothing.

There’s clearly been coordination amongst the night-time rioters and looters. Coverup Barr claims it’s “Antifa,” which is a right-wing bogeyman that doesn’t actually exist. More likely is the white nationalist groups, who have been calling for a second civil war. But clearly the anarchists are involved, too. Plenty of black clothed males doing destruction.

There have been a few moments of positive in this hell-week. One was a great speech by a rapper I’ve never heard of. Mayor of Atlanta apparently got him to speak in hopes he’d calm things down. I don’t know if he did, but the man gave no love to CNN! And he demanded organization and voting from his listeners in Atlanta. He might be more optimistic about the potential of voting than I am.

It was only a month ago when armed anti-lockdown MAGA terrorists invaded the Michigan statehouse. No tear gas, no flashbangs, no riot police. They tried hard to provoke a response and didn’t get one. What’s the difference? The MAGA terrorists were white.

What will next week’s shitshow be?

PS I should probably note that as of today, 106, 925 Americans had died of the pandemic. We’re still #1 in total deaths. With testing suspended due to the chaos, it’ll be weeks before we get reliable numbers again.

on “Reopening”

The political pivot from plague to re-opening has been nothing less than breathtaking, if you obsessively follow the US political news. After a MAGA terrorist invasion of the Michigan statehouse and astroturf “reopen my state” groups proliferated, including protests in Sacramento, the political class is all aboard the reopening train.

The public’s not going along, so far.

Restaurant reservations have barely started creeping up from dead, even three weeks after the first state “reopening.” That does suggest most of the public is smarter than the political class, at least.

From The Economist, obviously. Click to go to the article.

States are one-upping themselves to falsify data to make themselves look less bad. California and LA County still have increasing cases and deaths, although most counties in the state don’t. Is it any wonder people aren’t going along with reopening yet?

From LA Times, May 20 2020

Starman Musk lost some fanbois over “reopening” the Fremont factory a week before the state had allowed him to. Some universities are pledging to “reopen” to students in the fall, including Purdue (whose politician-turned-president dissed a colleague’s engineering prof sister), Notre Dame, and New York University, which thinks somehow putting the lecturers behind plexiglass is going to work out.

Mono county is one of those trying to “reopen” despite having a sudden spike in cases last week. Their justification seems to be that Newsom changed the criteria to make it somewhat easier for the small counties to go to the state’s “Stage 2,” which allows more businesses to open. They hope to have the Fishing Opener on June 1st as usual.

I’m not convinced the rural counties’ “reopening” is wise, since us Angelenos will bring the virus there as soon as we’re able to go. But that’s rather out of my hands. We’re probably going to go up the last weekend of the month ourselves.

Casa Conway’s in a relative stable pattern now. We get up and go to work in our home offices every day, we do a couple of walks a week and a couple of yoga classes, and once (and sometimes twice) a week there’s a shopping run. I last was out on 15 May, to get the snow tires off the Model 3.

Oh, I spent 9 hours on the 16th cleaning the garage. It’s a long way from done.



Re-Opening Amerika

This was the week the Trump administration gave up on fighting the coronavirus pandemic and pivoted to restarting the Economy. Zero states that are reporting infections actually meet the required 14 days of declining cases that was the centerpiece of the previous plan. Instead, as of this week, the NY tri-state region has declining rates, while the rest of the nation is still on the increase.

California’s also running in the rush to reopen, it turns out. LA County amended its public health order starting May 8th. But the LA Times’ daily tracker reports cases continuing to climb. I expect that in 2 weeks from tomorrow, we’ll see new cases start to accelerate again.

LA Times, captured May 7th, 2020.

The IHME model at the University of Washington currently projects 134,475 deaths by August 4th. Today we’re at nearly 77,000 dead. This model has consistently underpredicted, so I’ll go out on not-much-of-a-limb and say 150,000 by August 4. We’re already #1 in deaths worldwide.

It seems to me that the rush to re-open won’t just make things worse for public health. Restaurant reservations fell off a cliff the week before lockdowns started, according to OpenTable reservation data. People stayed home voluntarily. No particular reason to believe enough people will start going out again when the death rate is still climbing. And that’s even worse for the businesses that do try to reopen prematurely. There’s costs to “reopening.”

This April 22, 2020 chart shows the rapid decline during the two weeks after March 3. The California Safer at Home order was release March 17.

Air travel started declining before the lockdowns too, but starting slightly later than the restaurant nose dive.

On the other hand, 30 million people* are now unemployed, so I’m not surprised right-wing politicians are panicking. Their hold on power is their grifting, handouts to the wealthy in exchange for donations and access, and they’re now out of money to give. Instead they’re desperately trying to purge people from the unemployment rolls and cut Medicaid and education. But the Economy isn’t going to suddenly restart because governors, or the Orange Emperor, have said so.

*a little update: 30 million have filed for unemployment, but apparently “only” 20.5 million count as unemployed. The 8 May unemployment report is 14.5%, worst since the Great Depression. One interesting tidbit is that 4 out of 5 people filing were furloughed, not laid off, so there’s a little hope of rapid rehiring. But not much, as I’ve said above.

The Day Oil Prices Went Negative

I knew this was theoretically possible. . .but didn’t expect to ever see it. Basic story seems to be that the US has run out of places to store oil already ordered and on its way. West Texas Intermediate closed the day at -$37.63. . .which is crazy.

Also today the astroturf protests to “reopen America” apparently convinced the governor of Georgia to “reopen” the state this weekend. The current White House guidelines specify that states should see two weeks of falling case numbers prior to removing the social distancing orders, and Georgia’s are still going up. Now they’ll go up extra-fast!

I suppose the real reason for “reopening” is to force the poor people back to work so they’ll be the ones dying off. It doesn’t work that way, though. Lots of wealthier people will get it from their maids, gardeners, children, etc.

Glad I don’t live in a Republican state. Idiocracies every one.

My Morning of Walkaround

Last Wednesday, April 8, was the first time I left the neighborhood in 3 weeks. I was chased out of Mammoth Lakes on Wednesday, March 18th, by a request that all the non-permanent residents get out. The town was concerned about running out of medical supplies for the permanent population. And to be fair, it would’ve except the State found it more stuff (ventilators, specifically). So the Mate and the StepKid and I all came back to Altadena.

My need for getting out of the house came from NASA. My NASA badge needed some electronic certificate or other that’s embedded in it updated. So I had to go to JPL to get it fixed. (I unkindly refer to this badge as the NASA StupidCard, as one should never create a centralized database of personal information that can be hacked, especially not as a security measure. Right? I mean, what could possibly go wrong?)

Fortunately JPL Security had done a nice job of re-configuring themselves so the process of getting the Stupidcard updated was painless–even in my now-required face mask and gloves. There was an elevated amount of handwashing involved, though.

It was a little strange to see empty parking lots and plazas on a Wednesday morning. Normally we don’t know what to do with all the cars. . .


Also i shopped. Rumor had it that the Grocery Outlet on Lake Street had stuff, so I went there after getting my Stupidcard fixed. It did indeed have many things, but not everything. It also wasn’t crowded–probably not ten people in the place. Only one person was mask-free. Everyone avoided her. The nature of the masks varied greatly though. One guy rocked a VOC-particulates mask like one I use for epoxy work. There were some contractor-grade masks. and a variety of makeshifts–the bandana, scarf, etc.

My own mask was made from a tablecloth, a piece of furnace filter, and a pipe cleaner by the Mate and her excessively technologically advanced sewing machine. I assume that in the next month or two the LA Fashion industry will get designer masks out the door and into peoples’ hands. After all, no one will want to wear the same mask every day, especially when it’s made out of a tablecloth.

There was no traffic. None. It just wasn’t Pasadena-like.

This week, the Mate got to do the shopping. She was ecstatic. Apparently getting out of the house is now a Big Deal.