Previous “COVID-19” posts

The Mind Boggles 

Friday, May 29th, 2020

As you already know, we should all be wearing masks in public for the collective good. My mask is for you, your mask is for me, and they all help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 infection. Not wearing a mask in public makes a statement, but it’s not a good one.

Kevin Siers has brilliantly encapsulated the problem with American individualism.

Nevertheless, it’s clear that plenty of people just aren’t getting it. This Washington Post article has an article on establishments that are refusing to allow their customers to wear masks. Texas bar owner Kevin Smith was quoted giving this defense for the indefensible:

Bartenders need to see their customers’ faces to check IDs and make sure no one gets served too many drinks, he argued. Anyone with the virus, including those who are asymptomatic, should not be coming out to begin with.

Please, allow me to repeat the key line there, with added emphasis:

Anyone with the virus, including those who are asymptomatic, should not be coming out to begin with.

The mind boggles. Does Smith believe that all people who are infected are aware of it, even those without symptoms? That is of course not the case, and that’s a massive part of how the virus spreads. Thus, the only logical extension of his statement is that everyone should stay home. Indeed, we’ve done exactly that. Now, as those restrictions are being slowly loosened in an effort to open things back up safely, that means wearing masks. Learn it. Know it. Live it.

The 1000-Year-Old Sturminster Newton Mill Is Back in Business 

Thursday, May 28th, 2020

If you thought King Arthur Flour was old at 230 years, it’s practically a baby compared to a flour mill that’s been operating for an entire millennium. England’s Sturminster Newton Mill-turned-museum has recently ramped up, to help make up for shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Where it previously ran just two days per month, to provide visitors with small souvenir bags of flour, it’s now engaged in full commercial production.

The Flour Company Supplying America’s Sudden Baking Obsession 

Wednesday, May 27th, 2020

King Arthur Flour has been around in America since 1790, but in their 230 years, they’ve never seen anything quite like the past few months.

Astro the Grouch 

Monday, May 25th, 2020

It’s Memorial Day in America, a day to honor and mourn veterans who died wile serving in our armed forces. Paradoxically, it’s also the unofficial start to summer, and ordinarily a day of beaches, barbecues, and baseball. As a result of COVID-19, however, the 2020 Major League Baseball season has yet to start. Even so, baseball fans can still indulge their disgust for the cheating 2017 Houston Astros, thanks to a promotional item from Minnesota’s St. Paul Saints.

As the Saints’ staffers planned the 2020 promotional schedule, they plotted how to roast the newly sanctioned Astros. A trash can? Of course. Inside? Knockoffs of Oscar the Grouch and Orbit, the Astros’ mascot, carefully designed to skirt copyright violations.

Pressing the button will unleash a couple of bangs, or even a specific pitch.

With the season in doubt, the Saints have now decided to sell the item online, with a portion of the rather steep $35 price going to charity. Personally, I’ll be content to chuckle at the fact that this exists, write about it, and then move on.

They Don’t Need Masks When Nobody Is Flying 

Friday, May 15th, 2020

Long-time readers know that your humble author is no fan of America’s TSA, particularly when it comes to their invasive scans. Propublica has uncovered yet another reason to despise the agency: they’ve been hoarding N95 masks doctors and nurses desperately need.

Reduced Flights Reduce Meteorological Accuracy 

Thursday, May 14th, 2020

Well, file this under unexpected consequences of a global pandemic: Weather forecasts may suffer from reduced accuracy, because less data is being collected due to the sharp drop in airplane flights.

For years, thousands of airliners and cargo planes have been involved in a side gig that few passengers or package shippers have been privy to: gathering and transmitting weather data that’s then used for improving weather forecasts issued worldwide.

It makes sense that planes are used to gather weather data, but I certainly wasn’t aware of it previously.

Learning from Pornographers 

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020

Since the ’90s, the adult film industry in America has used nationwide program to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. It’s likely their experience can help inform how we handle life with COVID-19.

Coffee With COVID 

Monday, May 11th, 2020

Yesterday in Colorado, the C & C Coffee and Kitchen chose to open for Mother’s Day, in defiance of a government order prohibiting eat-in dining. Apparently, hundred of Coloradans joined them in this ill-conceived endeavor. As justification, restaurant owner April Arellano stated:

We did our time. We did our two weeks. We did more than two weeks…and we were failing. We had to do something.”

I sympathize deeply with businesses that are hurting financially. However, that doesn’t make it any less irresponsible to put the community at risk. Further, this economic argument loses its weight when the restaurant chooses to employ no safety measures, failing to require masks or any distancing between patrons. They also showed their foolishness with a sign on the door reading:

“ATTENTION: Our freedom doesn’t end where your fear begins.…If you are afraid to be within 6 feet of another person, do not enter this business!”

This is a complete bastardization of the common aphorism that “your liberty to swing your fist ends just where my nose begins”. The point of that saying is that even in a free society, the rights of an individual are necessarily limited by the rights of others.

There are reasonable debates to be had about just how much control the government should exert to protect its citizens, and at what costs. However, this phrase might more appropriately be updated to something like “your liberty to congregate ends when a contagious virus threatens to kill your fellow countrymen”. At issue here isn’t the fear of other citizens, it’s their right to life and health, to not be infected due to the selfish actions of others.

Arellano’s supporters tried to defend her with compliments, including one woman who said “the coffee is to die for.”

That might well turn out to be literally true.

Coronavirus Diaries: Virtual Plumber Visits 

Thursday, May 7th, 2020

Since late February, Slate has been running a series called “Coronavirus Diaries”, which they explain as “dispatches exploring how the coronavirus is affecting people’s lives”. It’s an eclectic mix of stories, offering interesting perspectives you might not otherwise here. Recently, plumber Patrick Garner explained how the plumbing business he works for has adapted, in a piece entitled “I’m Staring Into People’s Toilets on Zoom All Day”.

Look at Me. Look at Me.

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

Yesterday, I received a flurry of emails from various charities to which I’ve donated. They all wanted me to be aware of a new global day of altruism created in response to the COVID-19 outbreak: #GivingTuesdayNow. The name’s a bit clunky, and I’m not sure if you pronounce the hashtag, but it’s a worthy idea.

However, multiple emails I received used a subject line I found rather aggressive:

  • Today is #GivingTuesdayNOW!

Between the phrasing and the emphasis, it’s like they’ve commandeered the “holiday”, and they’re that guy in “Captain Phillips” who tells Tom Hanks “I’m the captain now”.

Anyway, I hope you had a very merry #GivingTuesdayNow yesterday. If we’re going to make a hash of the calendar with repeated Black Fridays and the like, it’s good that we can at least double up on giving back too.