Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine looked at the current COVID outbreak in Tennessee and broke the hospitalization numbers down by the counties patients were coming from and whether those counties had masking mandates. The results are stark. The growth in hospitalizations is greatest in counties without masking requirements. Indeed, the inverse relationship between masking and hospitalization lines up across the spectrum from areas with little masking to those where mandates are widespread.
The history of California 1994-2010 is a preview of what will happen in the rest of country. In a little over a week, Joseph Biden will be elected President. He will be the first of a string of Democratic Presidents that will occupy the Oval Office for the rest of the 21st Century. Without the whip hand of power, the Republican Party will completely collapse. I'm glad I have lived long enough to see it happen.
Manaus, Brazil is the only place on Earth that appears to have reached herd immunity. Since Covid transmission there continues, they can't relax protective measures. The only long-term hope is for an effective vaccine:
“We believe that, theoretically, herd immunity for COVID-19 would be around 60 per cent of a population resistant to the virus, and this is why this research points to herd immunity in Manaus,” says Granato, a professor of infectious diseases at the Federal University of São Paulo, who did not participate in Sabino’s study.
These findings mean that the virus will find less new victims in Manaus. But, Granato warns, “there’s still more than 30 percent of the population to infect there.”
Sabino agrees: “Transmission might have slowed down in Amazonas state, but it’s still happening.”
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Black Lives Matter is a popular cause, but support for BLM means little if support for suppressing Black votes continues unexamined. Specifically, these practices, which are very popular with Republicans these days:
- Limiting who counts as a person for census purposes;
- Gerrymandering targeting “African Americans with almost surgical precision“;
- Photo/voter ID laws;
- Restrictions on acceptable IDs;
- Onerous document requirements for voter registration;
- Street address requirements for registering in communities lacking street addresses;
- Limiting days/times/locations for voter registration services;
- Restrictions on ex-felon registration;
- Restrictions on voter registration drives;
- Violating the “Motor Voter” law by state DMVs;
- Restrictions on early voting times;
- Siting early voting locations remote to minority neighborhoods;
- Restrictions on absentee voting;
- Restrictions on absentee ballot drop boxes;
- Voter roll purges;
- Limiting voting machines in minority precincts;
- Voter intimidation tactics at the polls;
- “Disenfranchisement by typo“;
- Decades-long effort to undermine confidence in the election process itself.
Don't give Nancy Pelosi a hard time about the economic stimulus. The Republicans placed a poison pill in their proposals, and aren't removing it. It's not worth having a deal, even if it leads to an economic collapse. If the GOP wants a deal, they know what to do:
The awfulness of the liability shield is difficult to overstate. As I’ve noted previously, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal agency that theoretically protects workers’ health and safety on the job, has done just about everything in its power to avoid punishing businesses that failed to protect workers from Covid-19. In those few instances where OSHA has leveled fines, the amounts have been laughably scant.
David Michaels, who administered OSHA under President Barack Obama, noted this week in a Century Foundation report co-authored with physician Gregory R. Wagner that OSHA recently levied a $15,615 fine against the JBS beef factory in Greely, Colorado, where 290 workers were infected with Covid-19 and six died. Fifteen grand was not even enough, Michaels and Wagner observed, to cover the cost of the funeral for Saul Sanchez, one of the six who perished. Sanchez worked at the JBS plant for more than 30 years.
Yesterday, I surrendered my Census Enumerator gear - bag, forms, and the trusty iPhone. It's been an eventful two months, banging on doors, and collecting information for the NRFU (Non-Response Follow Up) operation for the Census. It was work I enjoyed, even during the August heat wave. It's enjoyable to meet new people one wouldn't ordinarily meet, especially during this socially-distanced year. I'm going to miss the work a lot.
Most people responded to the Census on line. In order to get on the NRFU list, therefore, there had to be some kind of dysfunction, either big or small. Dysfunctional people are - interesting.
The iPhone was a big help in collecting information. Apparently the 2010 Census still relied on paper and pen. The iPhone made data collection faster and more efficient. It was heart-warming to assist families with their Census civic duty. That part of the job was the best.
The biggest impediment to collecting information was the large, coronavirus-caused gap between Census date (April 1, 2020) and when enumerators actually hit the streets (the middle of August). In the interim, quite a few people changed residences, complicating matters.
For example, at one house, I tried to gather information from an in-mover - a fellow who had moved into his new rental house in the interim. He did not know who lived in the house before he arrived, but he did have a huge stack of mail addressed to at least a dozen people. "It looks like they were running a credit-card scam. It's possible a few of these identities actually belonged to the previous residents." He gave me the number of the landlord. I called, but suspecting a scam, the landlord immediately hung up the phone. Too many of these informational dead ends. In retrospect, it would have been better, and safer, to have started the NRFU operation in May, as originally scheduled.
There were other impediments too - lackadaisical respondents, absent respondents, language barriers, hidden residences - but surprisingly-few rude people. I thought maybe it was my age that accounted for the politeness - respect for elders - but I talked to one young enumerator who found the same politeness. I just think people were favorably-disposed to Census enumerators and wanted to help, to the ability their schedules permitted.
Even the dogs were favorably-disposed. I entered one yard with a "Beware of Dog" sign, and was bowled over by a huge, friendly German Shepherd.
And, to date, no Covid-19 either.
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Proposition 15 will go a long, long way to correcting the horrifying mess created by Proposition 13 in 1978, and help make California schools like they once were, the envy of the nation:
According to the most recent disclosures filed with state campaign finance authorities, the big spenders on the “No on 15" side include land developers, agricultural interests and golf and country clubs.
All told, they and other opponents have assembled a war chest of more than $20 million to fight the measure.
This shouldn’t be surprising, because those are among the business interests that have benefited handsomely from the obstacles to reassessing commercial and industrial properties built into Proposition 13.
On the other side, with contributions of more than $30 million, are teacher unions and others who are eyeing the revenue gains of up to $12 billion a year estimated to flow from Proposition 15, of which 60% would go to schools, community colleges and local governments.
A foundation formed by Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, has allocated more than $6.3 million to pass the measure, which they say would redress the “profound inequity” in the state’s funding of public services, especially those important to low-income communities.
A little before 9 a.m. Monday, a woman was shot multiple times in the parking lot of a Northeast Albuquerque strip mall next to a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy, a massage parlor and a chiropractor’s office.
Albuquerque Police Department detectives quickly narrowed in on a suspect – her estranged husband Matthew Montoya – and hours later shot and killed him in a driveway in a Sandia foothills neighborhood.
...Interviews with several witnesses and evidence from the scene quickly led detectives to suspect her estranged husband was responsible, Smathers said.
He said detectives learned that after his wife was shot, 52-year-old Montoya went to their child’s school, Holy Child Catholic School, in Tijeras and tried to pick up the child.
“Diligent school staff were aware of family conflict between family members and denied the suspect any access to his minor child,” Smathers said. “Thankfully, they did not release (the child).”
He said detectives continued investigating and determined Montoya was driving a silver minivan. Detectives consulted with the district attorney and received permission to arrest Montoya.
Around 1:13 p.m. detectives with the Investigative Services Division found him in the silver van in the driveway of a house on Chelwood Drive NE. “Detectives approached that minivan to make the arrest that had been approved by the district attorney, and an officer-involved shooting took place during that contact,” Smathers said. “The suspect is deceased on the scene.”
He said a gun was found in the van but the detectives involved in the shooting had not yet been interviewed, so he could not say what led the detectives to shoot Montoya. He said he could confirm that more than one detective was involved, but he would not say how many were.
Thursday October 15, 2020:
Contradictory instructions. Cases to do, but don't attempt them. Damned Trump Administration.
A handful of very widely-scattered reinterview cases in Zone 4. I headed out shortly after noon and realized later that most of my targets were at work, or at least not at home. Headed way out on Florin Rd.
Had a nice conversation with a house sitter. The interviewees were in Reno: at least this guy was pleasant.
Returning on Gerber Rd., there was a massive traffic tie-up - some kind of railroad accident bollixed all the roads. Headed south on Power Inn Rd. too.
Monday October 12, 2020 through Tuesday October 13, 2020:
Monday October 5, 2020 through Sunday October 11, 2020:
Various Reinterview cases. Amused by having to ask for "Biker Dude."
"Donde esta la mujer?" I repeatedly asked a Spanish-speaking fellow, on two separate days. The fellow probably thought I was nuts. Lots of near-hopeless cases. Difficult times, but apparently they consider me to be a good enumerator and worth giving these cases to.
Monday September 28, 2020 through Sunday October 4, 2020:
I bet the answer is yes:
Followers of the QAnon conspiracy theorists have been focused on that exact time, and the corresponding date of October 10th, after the account behind the mass delusion tweeted a Mickey Mouse clock stopped at that time, as NBC news reporter Ben Collins has been covering.
California Republicans doing what they can to corrupt the vote:
In a since-removed list of “Ballot Collection Box Locations” on its website, the Fresno County Republican Party listed the location of several such unsanctioned drop boxes, including several gun shops, a gas station and the county party’s headquarters.
It’s perhaps a bit ironic that the GOP, currently trying to restrict drop box use in multiple states, has created its own boxes in California.
The state party has defended the installations, comparing them to volunteers that collect ballots face-to-face to be submitted later — a practice sometimes disparagingly called “ballot harvesting.”
Saturday, October 03, 2020
Friday, October 02, 2020
I get occasionally-helpful Job Spam from something called the California Job Department. Today they announce:
"Hi Marc, US Secret Service is hiring immediately near Sacramento and we think you'd be a great fit."
Um, probably not. "The remdesevir. Has anyone seen the remdesevir?" And there I'd be, whistling....
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
The current “no sail” policy, which was originally put in place in April and later extended, is set to expire on Wednesday. Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the C.D.C., had recommended the extension, worried that cruise ships could become viral hot spots, as they did at the beginning of the pandemic.
But at a meeting of the coronavirus task force on Tuesday, Dr. Redfield’s plan was overruled, according to a senior federal health official who was not authorized to comment and so spoke on condition of anonymity. The administration will instead allow the ships to sail after Oct. 31, the date the industry had already agreed to in its own, voluntary plan. The rejection of the C.D.C.’s plan was first reported by Axios.
Fascism has been around us all along, trying the locks, peering through the windows, finding ways in. This election gives us an opportunity to reject fascism, should we vote:
But the blizzard of memes didn’t allow any time to distinguish between the cute and the offensive, the innocuous and the hateful. One section, Phillips recalled, showed “several internet-infamous young white women who had inspired widespread mockery online.” Such women, the three men explained, were referred to as “camwhores.” When the photograph of one flashed on-screen, the crowd booed. A man in the audience shouted: “Kill her!”
Phillips, an assistant communications professor at Syracuse University, now thinks she got it wrong. All that ironic racism doesn’t feel so ironic anymore. “I don’t even know exactly when it totally shifted,” she told me, from her yellow-painted living room in Syracuse, New York, her hands anxiously fluttering around her face as we spoke over Zoom. “What seemed to be fun and funny ended up functioning as a Trojan horse for white-supremacist, violent ideologies to shuffle through the gates and not be recognized.”
The debate was fascinating - like watching the Twin Towers collapse over and over again. There’s no point in having more debates this cycle - it’s difficult to argue with a turd, and a little bit morbid too.:
Wallace asked each candidate to weigh in on what they were “prepared to do to reassure the American people that the next president will be the legitimate winner of this election.”
Trump is not prepared to do this, of course, and so he took the opportunity to explain, yet again, that he has no intention of conceding defeat or conceding to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses at the polls in November. Instead, he urged his own supporters to “go into the polls and watch very carefully” and reaffirmed that he was “counting” on a conservative Supreme Court, with a newly confirmed Amy Coney Barrett, to crown him the winner if there are any problems with the “ballots.” (Reader: There will be problems with the “ballots.”) Pressed on the complete lack of evidence of fraud in mail-in balloting, Trump insisted that it is widespread and pervasive (ballots! In creeks! Sold by mailmen! In Philadelphia!) and promised “this is going to be a fraud like you’ve never seen. We might not know for months because these ballots are going to be all over.” Trump and his attorney general have been pushing this all-out fabrication all summer, in an effort to have the election called early, before all mail-in ballots are counted, and also to depress voter confidence in the possibility that any general election can be conclusive or fair. Again, that’s the point, and it’s the only point: He doesn’t want you to believe the election can be fair.
Apparently the high-stakes 2020 Census is succeeding despite the Trump Administration’s efforts to torpedo participation with a shortened timeline. Sacramento County is already at 74%, compared to 2010’s 70%. I think improved technology has helped with the effort.
My sense as an enumerator is that cooperation from Latinos is good. If Trump wanted to discourage cooperation with fears about immigration enforcement, he hasn’t succeeded. I see large households with many workers and their children and sense curiosity, not fear. Cooperation from blacks is pretty good too. People are taking the time to participate, although it can be a tedious and time-consuming process with large families. I’m seeing no impact from sovereign-citizen movements, at least locally.
Where I’m sensing weakness is with recently-arrived Asian communities: Hmong, Mien, etc. That sense of wanting to retreat to the shadows and disappear. That’s where the outreach effort needs to be fortified.
And I hope that rural communities are doing well. So much space; so little time:
With a response rate of nearly 74%, Sacramento County has already surpassed the committee’s goal of 70.1%, which was the final result in the county for the 2010 census. “We have already succeeded,” said Judy Robinson, the 2020 census manager for Sacramento County. Despite the achievement, organizers are pushing for more response, with some aiming for an incredibly ambitious 80%.
The Complete Count Committee has been meeting since fall 2018, uniting community groups across the county in an effort reach everyone. With community and government steering committees, the effort has doubled down on representing all in the county. With subcommittees focusing on ethnic and racial groups, the LGBTQIA+ community, seniors, children, different socioeconomic classes, business and industry sectors and other communities, the Complete Count Committee has gathered what they believe is a true representation of the diversity of Sacramento County.
While so much about the virus and how it operates remains unclear, sub-Saharan Africa so far has dodged a deadly wave of coronavirus cases. Many factors have contributed to this. A number of West African nations already had a pandemic response infrastructure in place from the Ebola outbreak of late 2013 to 2016. Just six years ago, Liberia lost nearly 5,000 people to Ebola. At the beginning of this year, Liberia began screening for covid-19 at airports. Travelers coming in from countries with more than 200 cases were quarantined. To date, Liberia, a country of some 5 million, has 1,335 cases and around 82 deaths. After the Ebola pandemic, Senegal set up an emergency operations center to manage public health crises. Some covid-19 test results come back in 24 hours, and the country employs aggressive contact tracing. Every coronavirus patient is given a bed in hospital or other health-care facility. Senegal has a population of 16 million, but has only 302 registered deaths. Several countries have come up with innovations. Rwanda, a country of 12 million, also responded early and aggressively to the virus, using equipment and infrastructure that was in place to deal with HIV/AIDS. Testing and treatment for the virus are free. Rwanda has recorded only 26 deaths.
Sunday, September 27, 2020
Sunday September 27, 2020:
No work today.
Saturday September 26, 2020:
A tough grind of a day with increasingly-dysfunctional cases, because all the easy cases have already been taken care of. Got yelled at by a mental case up in Natomas. "You are making the dogs bark and causing me so much trouble! You bring the 'rona! Can't you read the sign?" (There were various signs blaming visitors for the coronavirus.) "Get off my land!" (I moved very slowly) "Go! Shoo! Get out!"
Met a number of large, aggressive dogs. I was trying to make friends with some and a teenager spoke to me like I was retarded. "Read the sign!" (The sign said 'Beware of Dogs'.) These dogs will jump the fence!" (I don't think so, but whatever.)
Friday September 25, 2020: Southeast Corner of Natomas
Just two hours in Natomas. I went into a kind of mixed housing area - some trailers, some RVs, and some small houses. Interviewed a lady who looked quite old, but she was actually younger than me, but suffering cancer. "There have been other census takers around here, but I didn't answer their questions," she said. Maybe a good thing too. According to her the interviewers were asking all kinds of personal questions: SSNs, driver's license numbers, etc. If so, that conduct is illegal.
I was in someone's back yard investigating an old apartment when the people arrived at the main residence. They were upset and tense. Answer the damned questions, and maybe you won't find me in your back yard!
Thursday September 24, 2020: Homeless Night
Early morning hours of Homeless Night. Many homeless camps that had been scouted in advance had been moved out by the county authorities. Our count was quite low. (Maybe the authorities did this on purpose to manipulate our count????)
At one point we realized we were next to the homeless camp we had first scouted a few hours before, just on the other side of the creek. We were looking back at where we had been. Now we were in danger of double-counting as well as overcounting. "The count is 19!" proclaimed the boss. (I thought maybe nine, but some of the homeless who had been here yesterday must be somewhere, or other - just not here.)
I talked with one guy about our shared experiences. I told him that I thought I did well because I'm older. He said he thought he did well because he was younger. I'm sure we are both right. I told him the story about the Salvadoran woman who misunderstood the race question and used Spanish Siri to explain she was brunette. He told me a story about a Neo-Nazi in his neighborhood who was trying to get past the disappointment of World War II. Hoo boy!
The team was still in a counting mood, but I decided to bail at 4 a.m. and finally got to bed at 5:30 a.m.
Wednesday September 23, 2020: Homeless Night
Late evening hours for Homeless Night. It was apparently our job to inverstigate the various parts of Morrison Creek running through South Sacramento. Morrison Creek isn't really a creek - more like a slough, or a ditch, festooned with trash brought by the homeless.
On our first foray into a camp we were a bunch of frightened bunnies - 14 of us hustling through a camp strung out on the bank of the creek, and back again. I heard a voice from inside a tent: "If you are single - and female - and would like to mingle..." I thought maybe there were 16 people in the camp; possibly as few as eight. "The count is 30!" proclaimed our leader. Always possible, of course. We were counting tents and shelters, not really people, since they were inside them. Oh well! An overcount here accounts for some of the homeless people we were skipping in other places.
Tuesday September 22, 2020: Southeast Corner of Natomas
Quite a few Spanish-speaking folks in large households. Talked to a woman with suspicions about my job who had recently evicted a roommate. A large pile of furniture was sitting in the street. "Worst roommate ever!' she asserted.
Another fellow was an in-mover. He held up mail, all addressed to different people at the address. "See all these different people who were here before I arrived? Credit card fraud is what I think!"
Monday September 21, 2020: Del Paso
Crazed kids on bicycles. War whoops and agressive moves, and parents trying to corral their activities.
Sunday September 20, 2020:
Saturday September 19, 2020:
Friday September 18, 2020:
Thursday September 17, 2020:
Sunday, September 20, 2020
On Sept. 20, 2020, the dancers at Deane Dance Center celebrated the 100th birthday of Sacramento, California dance legend, Barbara Crockett.
But within the bunker, in a small room at the bottom of that shaft, there was a second colony of ants. These ants had no sun, no warmth, no light, and no honeydew. So they survived on the flesh of their fellow ants. Their colony was the wretched result of individuals falling from the healthier colony above, and with no way to climb out of the bunker, they could never return. It feels like a mirror-horror that could have come straight out of the mind of Jordan Peele, except that instead of a commentary on race and class in America, it’s a testament to one population’s sheer will to survive.
Last week, the Rocky Mountain states experienced a strong storm that brought with it snow, near hurricane force winds, and unseasonable record-breaking cold temperatures. In Albuquerque on September 8, it was sunny and a record-high 96ºF. The next afternoon, a severe windstorm tore through the region. The Albuquerque airport measured windspeed of over 70 mph, and temperatures plummeted to historic lows. Albuquerque broke a 100-year record low temperature when the mercury dropped to 40ºF. While snowfall was heaviest in the northern Rockies from Montana to Colorado, New Mexico received several inches of heavy, wet snow as far south as the Sandia Mountains east of Albuquerque.
My colleagues and I spent the morning of Thursday 10 September picking up dead birds in the Sandias. We found several dead Empidonax flycatchers of three species, a Vesper Sparrow, and a Townsend’s Warbler. Some birds were wet from the overnight snow, but others were completely dry, huddled in the corners of buildings. A Dusky Flycatcher sat dazed in the parking lot.
We first thought little of it: mortality is expected for migratory birds, and we didn’t find more than a handful of carcasses. But social media told a grimmer story that night. We read reports of widespread mortalities across the state: dead swallows along a bike path in Albuquerque, a half-dozen Empidonax flycatchers and swallows in one park in Clovis, and a local news report of 300 carcasses recovered by researchers from New Mexico State University and nearby White Sands Missile Range. It was soon apparent that a significant mortality event had occurred.
But one video on Twitter recorded by local journalist Austin Fisher stood out to me: several dozen swallows dead in an arroyo in Velarde, approximately 40 miles north of Santa Fe. It was only when I reached out to Austin for the purposes of this report that I realized the video wasn’t taken the week before during the cold snap, but rather the previous night, on 13 September. To see it for myself, fellow ornithology grad student, Nick Vinciguerra, and I drove the hour and a half north that night.