I Want My Old Normal Back

selfie

© James Pyles – Selfie in the age of COVID-19

I’ve been hearing the phrase the new normal a lot lately. It’s the idea that even once the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, the U.S. and the world won’t simply go back to “business as usual,” as if the pandemic never happened.

There are some people who even see this “new normal” as an opportunity to “improve” things. For instance, House Member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is advocating for people to not go back to work once restrictions are lifted. She is specifically referencing people who work 60, 70, and 80 hours a week at low paying jobs and who feel no security in their lives. You can watch a video of her statement on YouTube.

Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden has said that the pandemic response is an opportunity for structural change. Of course that might only be a good thing if you share his political viewpoint.

Yet, from what I’ve seen, the protests people are actually doing go in the opposite direction from Ocasio-Cortez and Biden.

A few days ago, people in Orange County, California (where I used to live) held a mass protest at Huntington Beach opposing Governor Gavin Newsom’s closing beaches in Orange County and only Orange County. He did this in response to a perceived overcrowding at Newport Beach the weekend before. Just how crowded the beach was has been disputed, but based on the photos, it looks crowded.

Nevertheless, Californians are pushing back, including at a rally at the California State Capitol where 32 people were arrested, both because they were in violation of Newsom’s stay-at-home order, and because of the ban against protests on state property (but I thought people had a constitutional right to protest on any public property as long as it was peaceful).

These are just two small examples (there are tons more) of how people (supposedly, most or all of them are conservatives as far as the news media goes) are getting fed up with being penned in. A lot of people, both on the right and left sides of the aisle, say the crisis is definitely being politically “spun,” although they disagree about the direction of spin.

Meanwhile, fingers are being pointed in all different directions, including at WHO and China, but given the aforementioned “spin,” it’s very difficult to know where the facts can be found.

I discussed all this, including reports I previously mentioned, that city and even national governments, have been overestimating the number of COVID-19 deaths to one of my sons, who is probably the most liberal member of my immediate family.

He agreed that the number of deaths is likely exaggerated, but the number of active cases is probably underestimated. I can accept that based on reports that some people are asymptomatic when infected, or may have cases so mild, they don’t identify it specifically as Coronavirus, or if they do, they don’t seek medical attention.

Speaking of spin, I’ve heard tons of stories in the news and social media about how slammed all of the hospitals are, and how out-of-control Coronavirus cases are deluging medical professionals. And yet, just last month, one of the largest hospitals in Boise announced cuts, furloughs for some hospital employees because ‘the sustained loss of volume and increased costs associated with COVID-19 preparedness is outpacing our revenue,” President and CEO Odette Bolano wrote in the letter. “Our revenues in the inpatient and outpatient settings have declined anywhere from 50-80%”.’

Okay, that’s Boise, Idaho, but what about other communities?

To try and get an answer (the news can’t always be trusted), I went on Facebook and asked my “friends,” people who live all over the country, including hotspots such as New Jersey and New York, what their perceptions were about their own medical institutions.

JG said ” NJ is not overwhelmed – neither is NY.”

AM, who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, said “A friend of mine had to go for an x-ray at a local hospital and she was joking with the technicians that they were getting too close, etc. They all had a good laugh. Then she asked them if they knew anyone who was sick with the virus and all three said no. She asked if they had anyone in the hospital that was sick and they also said no. They work in a hospital, and they don’t know ANYONE who is sick?

I mentioned that you’d never see that reported in the news, and she responded, “No, I’ve only seen crying nurses with faces bruised from the PPE they have to wear.”

A different AM said “Okay, lots of factors here:
1) NJ has no epidemic. The metro area and a bit south does. The rest of NJ has a cold and is doing perfectly well.
2) Even in the metro area and NYC, the hospitals are not being overwhelmed. They are not CLOSE to overwhelmed. They are perfectly fine and being overwhelmed was never an issue
So the answer is honestly a pretty straight “No, they’re well supplied and staffed and anyone who says otherwise is selling you something”

TK (I don’t know where she lives) said “in my community they said they were short in supplies… But we’re reopening and people are acting like this is all one big hoax…. I feel for myself and my safety I’ll take it all with a grain of salt. I’m not scared but i also don’t like being sick. So I’m cautious.”

EI, who lives in New Zealand, said “We have like 6 people with covid in hospital in the entire nation. The natives are getting restless.”

Yes, “the natives (people) are getting restless,” and while I agree, we need to continue to be cautious, not only do I think the situation is misrepresented in the media, but I think this so-called “new normal” is an extension of that spin and misrepresentation. Remember what Biden said about “opportunity.”

My own state has put up a website called Idaho Rebounds, which outlines a four-part government program of gradually reopening the state. It’s pretty, you should pardon the word, “conservative,” and seems to take care in protecting people while allowing businesses to gradually re-open. At any point in the process, if cases start to creep up, that particular phase can be rolled back.

Now let me tell you about my Sunday.

I slept late, just because I could, and for once, I was able to sleep (no promises for tonight, however). I got up, puttered around, drank coffee, ate breakfast, then went outside to mow the lawn. That’s pretty normal.

Today was the day my wife and son decided that our nearly five-year-old granddaughter should start riding her bike without training wheels. To be fair, she hasn’t been riding it lately even with training wheels because she had a flat tire. When the inner tube my wife bought for the tire didn’t fit, and then didn’t hold air, my son, wife, and granddaughter went shopping for a new bike.

© James Pyles – The elementary school behind my house, including “crash site”

By that time, my other son came over and the bunch of us went into the parking lot of the elementary school behind my house so my daughter could practice. She was doing really well for a while, but then, because she couldn’t turn, hit a planter and smashed her crotch into her bicycle. After that, she was more interested in her scooter, so we didn’t push it.

My wife made a general hamburger, beans, and fries lunch for us, and afterward, my two sons, grandson and granddaughter (well, Daddy helped her) played Star Fluxx, which is an interesting and somewhat random card game my son (Uncle Mikey) gave my grandson for one of his birthdays. It’s the basic card game “Fluxx” with a science fiction twist.

After that, my son “Dad” had to get the kids back to his house because every Sunday afternoon, the kids move between Dad’s house and Mom’s.

But all that felt really normal. Not “new normal,” but just normal. I really enjoyed it.

Was it absolutely safe? Probably not. Both of my sons have jobs where they work with other people. Since one works in a hospital and the other in a convention center, they both wear masks on the job, but not elsewhere. The grand kids move between Dad’s house and Mom’s, so they are exposed to numerous family members, including Dad’s girlfriend, their Mom, and the other grandparents. My son David has gone camping and had other outings with friends, and I’m sure they didn’t observe social distancing.

© James Pyles – The view from where I work from home.

My wife goes shopping, and occasionally, so do I. I maintain social distancing for the most part, but it’s really difficult. Sure, standing in line is okay, but people zipping around with shopping carts (even with one-way aisles) definitely enter the “six foot zone”.

But so far, acting “old normal” with my family hasn’t resulted in any illnesses.

I can do my part-time slave job from home, fortunately, which is nice for a few reasons, and a pain for a few others.

The churches and other houses of worship could open their doors again today, but since I still can’t visit with my elderly Mom (she lives in an independent living home and is on total lockdown), I couldn’t take her, so I didn’t go. Churches still have to maintain social distancing and have a plan for frequently cleaning all surfaces.

Looking at all the restrictions and the new normal going forward, even assuming that the curve continues to flatten, I still prefer the old normal. Especially if I can help my granddaughter ride her bike, and play card games with my family.

Oh, and if the “new normal” means being tracked by the government, forget it. They already know too much about me.

EDIT: This is a conservative news source, so a lot of people won’t take it seriously, but it states 5 independent research studies put the death rate from COVID-19 at one percent or less specifically because there are so many more undiagnosed cases of Coronavirus. Wow.

37 thoughts on “I Want My Old Normal Back

  1. I haven’t looked at any statistics on covid infection in your area, James, but I suspect that it should by this time be well beyond any “flattening of the curve”, which was an expression coined to describe efforts to reduce the rate of increase in infections at the onset of the pandemic. At this point, just about everyone should be well into the stage where this number is in decline because the plague is under control. In some areas, it was never actually out of control in the first place. I recently looked at charts of conditions in Israel which show that our totals are declining, and our new infections are declining, which one would have to expect if there is to be any hope of returning to normal. The curve won’t get any flatter at this stage; and the concern is only to prevent any new surge. But the only way to test for whether it is safe to come out is to start doing so warily. It’s too easy just to stay at home and let society collapse. It will require bravery to risk the acts of living again. But it is the only way to restore “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. And in some cases, apparently, it will be necessary to risk outright defiance of the “nanny state”. I can picture some soon-to-be-filed class-action lawsuits against false-arrests which really were not legal to begin with.

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    • Okay, so I apparently misused the phrase “flattening the curve.” The Governor of California is already being sued by law firms in Orange County, and due to that state’s no bail policy, I read that one person committed crimes and was cited and released three times in 12 hours. One of the crimes was car theft. On the other hand, 32 people were arrested at the California state capitol (which I mentioned in my blog post), basically for exercising their Constitutional rights. Yes, part of the “new normal” will be a lot of lawsuits against city, county, and state governments.

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    • There are currently 15 states where the occurrence of new daily cases (for the past fourteen days) is going down (but not as steeply down as the rise up such that there are still many cases), 15 other states where the new occurrences number is about the same as before, and 20 where it is going up.

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  2. Many people believe this virus to be an opportunity by governments to pursue some agenda as yet unknown to the general public. That agenda may well be necessary in light of global warming and its dire consequences which far outweigh Covid-19. I am tired of all this nonsense. In South Africa, our people are not working and are starving. Even the middle classes are not earning, in many cases, and won’t be able to pay their debts. I fail to understand how this is better when we have had 113 deaths in our country and have less than 10 000 infections.

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      • What do you think is the “government agenda” — if something other than the obvious of handing gobs of money and advantages to the very richest people (with a few crumbs to others)? And what do you think was Trump’s motive in not allowing functioning tests into this country, and early — to go ahead and permit said crisis?

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      • Handing gobs of money to the pharmaceutical companies who will develop the vaccine and charge through the nose for it. Also, as the Biden article noted, and based on things that House Member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others have said, the idea is to use the pandemic crisis as an excuse to push through very specific social agendas. I know that sounds paranoid, but you should hear my wife when we discuss this. She’s even more conservative than I am.

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      • Voting by mail should happen, but it should be put in place before the election in November (thus isn’t up to Biden). (I’ll believe the social agendas when I see them. I’m more progressive, with a whole bunch of conservative sensibility — a disenchanted principled conservative — and born in Missouri. You know, show me.)

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      • You mentioned pharmaceutical companies being handed public money and then charging the public for access to the result. I mentioned I was born in Missouri. I’ve also been looking into Missouri’s plans for opening… and came across an article I want to share along with some writing I posted with it elsewhere in addition to here. The article applies to the Missouri city of Kansas City specifically, and not to the whole metropolitan area. It indicates the idea of being “allowed” with regard to the sixth of May — but there also seems to be an element of being required to reopen by the fifteenth (actually… it’s likely an employee being required to work with regard to an employer opening… while the heading has a funky reading too).

        http://kmbc.com/article/kansas-city-unveils-soft-opening-plan-to-reopen-businesses-may-15-coronavirus-covid-19-10-10-10-rule/32316374?src=app

        Kansas City announces ‘10/10/10 Rule’ plan allowing all businesses to reopen no later than May 15
        [updated 10:08 PM CDT April 29 2020]

        ….

        Under the plan that [begins] May 15, all Kansas City businesses will be able to open but are subject to a “10/10/10 Rule.”

        …. any Kansas Citian who does not yet feel safe returning to a nonessential workplace cannot be compelled by their employer to return prior to May 15. Lucas [the mayor] said from May 6 to May 15, “No one actually has to come back to work earlier than they are ready.”

        MAY 15

        Phase one of the full 10/10/10 plan allows buildings and businesses that service the public to reopen with 10% building occupancy or 10 people allowed inside a business, whichever is greater. Sign-ins with contact information will be required for anyone who visits a business for more than 10 minutes.

        Plus, social gatherings up to 10 people inside or 50 people outside will be allowed. This includes weddings, funerals and religious services. But businesses and organizations must gather contact information on all attendees.
        Establishments such as grocery stores, medical and dental offices, pharmacies, and other essential businesses are not subject to the “10/10/10 Rule,” the city said.

        [I’ve skipped three paragraphs.]

        In addition to this new set of rules, Lucas said the city’s State of Emergency has been extended an additional 90 days, which will allow the city to better regulate the size of gatherings and events.

        City officials said if the positive test percentage remains on a downward[*] trend, they hope to allow larger events, perhaps up to 50 people or 50 percent some time in June, and a return to full capacity won’t be likely until later this summer.

        Kansas City’s “10/10/10 Rule” is expected to be enforced by the health department. Violations of this order “constitute an imminent threat,” and “create an immediate menace to public health.” Businesses in violation may be subject to a fine, or may be ordered to suspend business.

        [* Subsequent to that announcement date, hundreds of meat packers north of the city (considered part of the metropolitan area but not the city jurisdiction) tested positive — something like sixty (last time I checked) of those individuals live in the actual city. Thus, that downward trend didn’t continue. Of course, if officials just play with the numbers by testing more when they obtain more tests, they can effect a different percentage on outcome.]

        The state, Missouri, as a whole, had already (before the sixth) opened business and non-business gathering and church. (However, the greatest number of requirements apply to nursing homes in that state… whereas not all states are being as careful with the elderly.) The overall requirement is to continue with “social distancing” even within any ordinary re-opened venue in Missouri.

        Localities in Missouri [like Kansas City and St. Louis and, presumably, other cities and townships] are said to be permitted stricter rules, as they see fit, than the broad state as a whole. (It’s not unheard of for other governors to demand that their more localized areas within their states can not have stricter rules. Who knows which approach will hold enforceable or justifiable legally? In New Mexico, the governor gave the go ahead for a new mayor to completely shut down his particularly-affected area [not only businesses or venues but the whole place] to outsiders; just recently.)

        Missouri is seeking to test more. They also had a press briefing, today (I would suppose it was from Jefferson City). It most notably involved speaking of developing an immunization right there in Missouri.

        The governor didn’t want to answer, or hadn’t thought through, whether the vaccination will be available, without further charge, to the public; he ventured a guess as to the obviousness of health insurance.

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      • http://kmbc.com/article/missouri-reports-148-new-coronavirus-covid-19cases-friday-bringing-state-total-to-9489/32417751?src=app

        Missouri’s statewide stay-at-home expired Sunday. Gov. Mike Parson outlined the “Show Me Strong Recovery Plan” on Monday to reopen businesses throughout the state on May 4. Under the plan, businesses that were considered “nonessential” by the federal government may resume operations in Missouri on Monday, but strict social distancing guidelines will be required.

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      • It’s something of a double-edged sword because according to the American Psychological Association, among other things, social isolation actually weakens the immune system, so as different areas of the country (and the world) begin to open up again, that may well result in a spike of new infections among the population that practiced isolation and didn’t have social connections.

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      • It seems to me the distancing is a recommendation (and an understood general behavior in group areas); if a couple people want to get close, I’d figure they can. But a person doesn’t have, maybe, the usual (or old normal) presumption of being able to get in someone else’s space and make that other person “deal with” it. I think people are freaking out too much. I saw that a few people, after the San Francisco area was supposed to social distance and stay mostly home, were tisk-tisking at couples walking down the street and holding hands. This was a misunderstanding (which can get overblown, in the hair-on-fire person’s reasoning, into let me get my gun and run around and scare some people for no helpful purpose… sometimes, it just seems like an excuse to parade the guns or the I hate government except the idiot I voted for mental rut). Speaking of “new normal” (by the way) it was used in an update today to say a state was going to report new cases on several days per week rather than every day. Change isn’t always bad. Hey, some people may decide Donald Trump’s old personal rule of not shaking hands is a good idea.

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      • I said, quite a while back, like a month or so ago James, in the comments under another of your topics:

        When it comes to other times we gave away freedoms or liberties (or, rather, such was decided for us in legislation), we already knew it wasn’t right (that is if we were paying attention); even after 9/11, it wasn’t right to hold people without charge or to conduct surveillance on everyone or to torture… or to kill without trial. They tried to assuage our concerns by saying it would be temporary… and so on. As for starting or enabling or supporting new wars based on authorization given directly due to 9/11, is everyone asleep?

        And where is the concern over continually shoveling out {tr}illions of dollars to rich people? Apparently, it’s only needy people we are to resent… well… actually needing something. No socialism here… except, wait, my rich friends or the rich people those who grasp for power want to please deserve one {giant} bailout after another.

        Meanwhile, the same old crossing of liberty goes on as long before. It’s not only due to efforts to reduce infection. Authorities like police sometimes don’t think straight, sometimes aren’t trained well, sometimes are racist, sometimes love conflict, and so forth. A doctor in the Miami area was handcuffed for being in his front yard and sorting tents and other materials from his van so he could go test [for covid-19] and shelter homeless people. It would be helpful for these matters not to be treated or enlisted in as partisan. The guy being racially profiled matters. The worker being fired for wanting safer working conditions matters. The lady who wants her business open and can do it safely (where safely doesn’t just mean denying or flipping the bird at a pandemic) counts, too.

        The “lady” I alluded to wasn’t one from a recent specific story, such as mentioned in the following clip. I was projecting forward that someone might have a business open safely even if it weren’t deemed by the feds as “essential.” It has subsequently happened. The reason I’m sharing this clip, from last night, is that it is the first time I have seen the general topic [understand I mean in a general way and not in terms of a “side” and only a side and not solely on the matter of one story milieu] covered at a legacy news source… and encompassing the concept of the/a lady as well as what I’d say is a fourth type of person who counts (I had, above, referenced three). The fourth one is an individual who gets reported (while there could be some overlap in the four groups).

        https://www.msnbc.com/all-in/watch/chris-hayes-on-disproportionate-enforcement-of-coronavirus-lockdown-83234885670
        Chris Hayes: “If you use law enforcement, you are going to extend, exacerbate, and replicate all the existing inequalities in our already broken criminal justice system.”

        This is from last night. It is in agreement (yet with a different emphasis on a sylLAble than the take I wrote up) with what I suggested hoping for or aiming toward in a different one of your blog topics. I want you to see that it’s not exclusive to “the right” that people don’t want a police state, or overkill.

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      • https://www.aclu.org/issues/privacy-technology/surveillance-technologies/stingray-tracking-devices-whos-got-them

        I think you’ll be interested in this, James. My mother and I don’t talk about politics because she’s been very pro Trump and thought he served in the military to the same degree my dad did. When my dad did actually serve in the Air Force and Trump didn’t serve at all (but wore uniforms from junior high through high school), this is an impossibility. Anyway, I was very surprised today — she sent this to me.

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      • There’s a handy map at that link. My point in sharing the page is not an emphasis on a donation to the nonprofit organization; I’d also not encourage donations to outfits that fight against the ACLU — as you can see… the ACLU is on your “side” about surveillance and that sort of thing.

        The map showed up automatically AS the link, when my mom texted it to me. I’m trying again (below).

        https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.aclu.org/issues/privacy-technology/surveillance-technologies/stingray-tracking-devices-whos-got-them&sa=U&ved=2ahUKEwjLi4SK2qnpAhUYCs0KHXRFAT0QFjAAegQICRAB&usg=AOvVaw3nvnvblUm0RRAlreG3R8Ez

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      • I found an article that concerns St. Louis (where I was born) and Kansas City, Missouri and nearby areas to both. Digging down into the details helps in understanding. One can click on the map I mentioned for each state and sometimes find articles. For example:

        Back when Kansas City bought its device, the FBI required police departments to sign nondisclosure agreements first. The agreement Kansas City signed in 2011 prohibited police from publicizing the “purchase of, acquisition of, or use of the Harris Corporation equipment/technology.” Read more here: https://www.kansascity.com/news/business/technology/article34185690.html#storylink=cpy

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      • The ice cream shop wasn’t in Missouri but was one kind of example of what could happen anywhere in this country.

        Back to Missouri (but also something that theoretically could happen anywhere), the Kansas City “10/10/10” plan is still in effect — but the requirement as to occupancy (the higher of 10% or ten people) has been removed for restaurants, despite the fact cases in the area have been going up and Kansas City is on a “hotspot” watch list for that reason. It seems to me it’ll be something of an experiment… whether people want to go out and participate, whether restaurants want to participate, whether cases spike even higher, or not.

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      • This is not the same state as what I mentioned earlier — New Mexico (with the Hopi and the Navajo, I believe). This following story has to do with a tribe (and THEIR OWN land) in the vicinity of South Dakota and what a different governor is telling them. Government versus government (and the people).

        … South Dakota: Cheyenne River Sioux Refuse Governor’s Demand …

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      • https://www.businessinsider.com/mcconnell-patriot-act-renewal-fbi-web-browsing-history-2020-5 May 13

        Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing forward with an amendment that would let the FBI collect records on Americans’ web-browsing and search histories without a warrant this week.

        McConnell proposed the amendment as part of the renewal of the 2001 Patriot Act, The Daily Beast first reported. The Senate is voting on amendments this week.

        The McConnell amendment would let Department of Justice officials — overseen by Attorney General Bill Barr — look through anyone’s browsing history without the approval of a judge if they deem the browsing history relevant to an investigation. It blocks the FBI from accessing the “content” of people’s web-browsing history but would let the FBI access records detailing which sites and search terms people entered.

        The proposal has drawn backlash from a bipartisan group of senators, as well as from both liberal and conservative civil-liberties groups…

        …..

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      • https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/5/13/21257481/wyden-freedom-patriot-act-amendment-mcconnell
        The Senate voted to let the government keep surveilling your online life without a warrant

        Many senators wanted to forbid the government from secretly collecting information about your internet habits…

        …………

        Fortunately for them, the USA Freedom Act came up for renewal this year. The House passed a reauthorization bill in March, but the Senate wasn’t able to take it up until now (the pandemic didn’t help matters). During the intervening period, the USA Freedom Act expired, which makes its renewal a pressing issue. The House’s bill included some reforms, like forbidding the warrantless collection of Americans’ phone records and cell tower or GPS location data. But privacy-minded members of Congress criticized it for not going far enough, and 136 of them, including 75 Democrats, voted against its passage.

        The bill that passed the House in March went to the Senate this week. Wyden’s amendment to the bill, which was cosponsored by Republican Sen. Steve Daines, would have expressly forbidden collecting “internet website browsing” and “internet search history” through a FISA application. …

        Both Wyden and Daines made speeches on the floor in support for their amendment, each presenting it in a way that would be particularly appealing to their party’s interests. While Daines said it would help prevent a politically motivated FBI from abusing FISA courts to secretly investigate President Trump’s campaign and advisors, Wyden said it would prevent abuse of FISA courts to secretly investigate Trump’s perceived enemies by Attorney General Bill Barr’s politically motivated Department of Justice. Both said the amendment would further protect Americans’ privacy.

        In his impassioned speech, Wyden brought up the pandemic, and Americans’ increased use of the internet because of it.

        “Is it right, when millions of law-abiding Americans are at home, for their government to be able to spy on their internet searches and their web browsing without a warrant?” the senator asked, noting that the internet has become many people’s only connection to the outside world. “We are more vulnerable to abusive surveillance than ever before.”

        It seems that enough senators thought it was, in fact, right. One of the “no” votes came from Sen. Mitch McConnell, whose love of the Patriot Act and all of its privacy-invading provisions is enduring and well-known. McConnell was even close to proposing his own amendment to counter the one from Wyden and Daines. McConnell’s amendment would have deliberately included internet search history and web browsing data in a list of records that the government can request through FISA courts. This was already allowed, so McConnell’s amendment wouldn’t have changed anything except codifying it into law. But that amendment never came to the floor, likely because McConnell knew the Wyden-Daines amendment wouldn’t get enough votes.

        ….

        Update, May 14: The Patriot Act reauthorization bill passed the Senate on Thursday, without the Wyden-Daines amendment (but with an amendment from Sens. Leahy and Lee that added some independent oversight to the FISA court). …

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  3. You give us a lot to think about, which is good. The Covid 19 situation is complex. I expect that a lot of the problems are due to overcrowding in built up areas. However if the [new normal] results in tackling inequality’s in wages and working conditions, with much improved health care [in all countries around the world], well that would be a start.

    It is interesting how the Covid epidemic has resulted in tackling many of the environmental problems. Some might think that the global attitude was planned. So dealing with global warming, without admitting that there was a problem in the first place. Or much much worse that the lock down for Covid 19… is testing of how the world might deal with the global warming situation. However whether humanity is responsible for global warming in the first place is debatable. Yes there is a lot to think about…

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  4. https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/03/31/former-cdc-head-coronavirus-testing-went-wrong-how-proceed-column/5090097002/
    April 1

    A series of errors with lab testing delayed the U.S. response to the Covid-19 pandemic. We need to be clear about what went wrong and how we can get things right.

    A month after other countries started testing, we still had not. The administration made three mistakes: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention test kit was flawed, and its response to that error was slow; the Food and Drug Administration was slow to allow hospital labs to develop their own tests; and the Department of Health and Human Services didn’t work with commercial labs to start developing broadly available private sector tests until far too late.

    [There is also the fact “the administration”/Trump wouldn’t allow for already-extant tests from the WHO or Germany. Maybe someone would call that a fourth mistake or the first of four; I personally see it as the biggest mistake. But there is additionally the matter of applying a plan, even if there are tests; not likely with a bunch of people led by a bumbler.]

    Because of this, communities missed the first indications of community spread, and response only ramped up after large numbers of cases started to appear, weeks after transmission began.

    Failure to identify early community spread provided a false sense of security. The president claimed he inherited a “broken and frankly terrible system,” but during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, the CDC developed and began shipping more than 1 million tests to all states and 140 countries just two weeks after the virus was discovered. Had HHS, the White House and CDC functioned in the coordinated way they had previously, the system could have performed as well as it did with other major health threats, including H1N1, Ebola, Zika and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

    ……………. [Read more.]

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  5. I recall that we have been told, from the beginning, the death rate is roughly ten times that of seasonal flu, which seems to be correct.

    Some of the countries that have done more widespread testing appear to have relatively fewer deaths in the case mix. In South Korea, for example, where thousands of people are tested every day, they’ve picked up more than 7,500 people with the virus. Among those, 54 have died. If we use the WHO’s method of calculating the CFR — and don’t take into account the potential problem of underestimating the number of mild cases out there — a crude case fatality estimate hovers under 1 percent.
    That’s from here: https://www.vox.com/2020/3/5/21165973/coronavirus-death-rate-explained

    South Korea also did more to reduce the number of cases.

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    • I’ve said on social media (but probably not here) that I wish we would have followed South Korea’s example early on, but I’m not sure if their methods would be as effective in the U.S. because A we’re a much bigger country and B because I suspect the group philosophy that you might find in South Korea doesn’t exist in the same way here.

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  6. Bah! Humbug! My plans today involved two handiwork/contractor type people. The guy who showed up to see about fixing my dishwasher (only five-and-a-half years old) said he could fix it — if I could get the part. What? Later, I went to meet a landscaper… who didn’t show up! We’re in phase one of a re-opening (which we really aren’t due for… based on numbers). I had a mask on (that a neighbor sewed for me). The landscaping company was called Agape, which one of my sons chose without knowing it is usually a Christian word (which I told him)… maybe not so good a first experience with the Koine. They didn’t even call to cancel. Hope they’re okay. I’ve had a tree person over like a couple weeks ago. And a roofer a couple weeks before that.

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    • I’m glad you’re continuing the discussion, James. I can see the value, in a way, of fiction on this topic. A problem to consider, though (and I actually think it’s an overwhelming problem at this time), is that there is so much lack of factuality and lack of simple clarity in the daily conversation in the real world. (This is more so in some countries than others, the United States being one of the “more” category.) The fictional writing of novels or short stories could (and likely would) end up being an extension of the emoting and reacting, irrational and not helpful. When you first brought up fiction, in an earlier post topic, I thought “why not?” But it turned out you weren’t serious about it then. And, since then, people have turned up the panic and lack of reason. And incidents are not only of the sort the linked article lists. there are incidents with rebels too. Another consideration is to remember that stupid stuff happens any day. If it’s stupid, it’s stupid. There are a lot of stupid people. Police need to be able to deal with non-police doing threatening things… and it should be easier to take some, called officers, off of the police force or convict police of wrongdoing (or even get them indicted). Any day, not just because suddenly covid-19 is the thing.

      We can observe that people respond to news that come up in different ways. Some discuss the actual happenings in a day and over time. Some don’t pay close attention and have no opportunity to then analyze and remember — from their own memory rather than from a presentation they decide to buy into. Now, when I say a presentation, I know just about everything is presented. But observing what the president and Fauci said can involve watching what they said from start to finish… not accepting someone’s snippets as a proper characterization. Now, at the same time, if one has seen the two men (for example) in full, then one can remember proper characterization so choosing an article can properly represent that. If one doesn’t have time to see and hear the real deal, it’s probably not responsible to just pick a characterization or act like eh, potato/poTAHtoh, whatever fits my purpose (or whim or fun). That goes for an ordinary conversation; it goes for fiction meant to reflect it; and it goes for “ministers” who purport to help or advise or see people through reality. There is a Christian blog where the fella who calls himself a pastor thinks he’s being somewhat prophetic or a man of insight. But he can’t accept what is really happening.

      I don’t post there even a hundredth as much as I do here, but I shared a (true) story about a strong man walking over aggressively with a huge pipe wrench, rather than a gun like many of his friends had as part of a protesting band, toward a couple with a stroller — who just wanted to be taking a walk. Okay? This man was scary because of his desire to carry a weapon, his desire not to recognize distancing wisdom (not to mention, as we apparently are supposed to forget, usual norms of personal space) with strangers who don’t know his covid-19 status, his beeline and general attitude toward a young and protective family, etc. The dad/husband had to repeatedly figure out what attitude to take to try and keep the man away from his family members. I then began a second post with a correction that there were two children even though there was one stroller/baby buggy. (I had a double carriage at one point as I brought up children, but such are not common.) That scenario happened in the second week of May. But there had been protests/rallies going on for weeks before then. So I decided to share an article with a link. (I hadn’t included a link with the earlier story, as it had seemed easy enough to convey.) I quoted this from April 21:

      Protests have varied in size across the country – from a few dozen protesters in Virginia and Oregon to rallies of thousands in Michigan and Washington state.

      …………….

      What has Trump said?

      Last week, Mr Trump and his Covid-19 taskforce unveiled new guidance to begin re-opening state economies.

      That guidance recommends three phases of slowly easing restrictions on businesses and social life, with each phase lasting at least two weeks. The recommendations also include maintaining some social distancing, access to testing and contact tracing.

      [The way that’s worded in the article, by the way, doesn’t reflect what was actually said as okayed by the president. The first phase was not to happen immediately; there was to be a measure of decreasing cases in each state first. And said decreases had not occurred.]

      But a day after the administration’s plan was announced, the president tweeted … slogans of … “Liberate” protests in several … states.

      ………….

      [It apparently is the Christian and non-demonic thing to do to hide that he aimed these tweets at states with governors who are Democrats… even if his tweets were indeed aimed at Democrats.]

      https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52359100

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      • To be clear — as it is demonstrably far too easy for people not to understand lately — when I posted the quoting at the other blog site (a so-called pastor’s site), I didn’t have the ellipses in the last quoted sentence; I rather quoted the whole sentence from the article (you can read it at the link): But a day after the administration’s plan was announced, the president tweeted … slogans of … “Liberate” protests in several … states.

        The thing is it wasn’t to be tolerated to know or allow the awareness to his readers that the president was disingenuously or manipulatively attacking the states he had decided or felt should be his enemies. Most states (whether led by Republicans or Democrats) had tried to respond to the president’s talks about the pandemic by implementing safeguards, even while a couple or so held out. And one of those that had held out (a Republican governor because he heard the undertones) had finally implemented stay home orders or recommendations (because of the overtones) and then whiplashed right out of the recommendations — earning public “disagreement” with that governor (Georgia) from Donald Trump for coming out of it too soon… and yet there was the “Liberate” crap from the same man (proceeding to lash this way and that). He is confusion and abuse, agitation and irresponsibility. And too many ministers are falling for him.

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      • Yeah, we live in the United States. So, when I said “minister” for things happening here, I was referring to a religious person entrusted (overly entrusted as the case may be) with spiritual matters — and “ministers” was not intended, as is used in many other western countries, to mean leaders in offices of government.

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