SL 794

We’re leaving for North Carolina early tomorrow morning to check on Steve’s folks and spend the week at the shore. Unless Trump does something really, really awful, like beyond normal awful, I will take the week off from the blog. I’ve produced a lot of words since March and need a break.

Some links before we load the car…

I loved this profile in The Atlantic of a former Romanian orphan

Currently binge-watching: OzarkThe GreatWhat We Do in the Shadows

This week’s Amazon purchases and possible purchases: Melamine dishes w/faux European designmen’s running shoesmen’s swim trunksmen’s flip flops

This week’s recipe: couscous with dill.

52 thoughts on “SL 794

  1. 1. You have left yourself a lot of safety with ‘beyond normal awful’, so I don’t expect to hear from you
    2. We have done nicely with melamine type dishes from dollar stores – wide assortment, nice patterns, great serving platters, and for nickels.


  2. Anyone have any recipes for mint? It’s overrunning our garden. I’ve cut out so much, and the plants like it.

    I’ve made mint-jalapeno jelly. (I discovered that canning is popular, as canning supplies were sold out in some local stores.). Taboule is next. Mint is a good substitute for lime in gin & tonics.


      1. Jay said, “All our mint is in pots now.”


        We moved into a rental home that came with a big mint bush and fighting it back was a big job. Our current mint is in a pot.


  3. I talked to my dad (a shop owner in Western WA whose primary customers are tourists) and he is thrilled with current tourist traffic. He said they’ve set an all-time record for back-to-back high sales days and he’s spoken to a number of customers who say that this is the first in-person shopping they’ve done in months. A lot of people are coming from out-of-state, including way out of state. It looks like more people are driving cross country, though, as opposed to the traditional pattern of fly to SeaTac, get a rental car and do the Olympic Peninsula.

    My parents had recently had to ask their suppliers for an extra month of grace period for billing for shipments. They aren’t asking their employees back as of yet. First of all, they are concerned about legal liability if anybody gets sick on the job. Secondly, at least for now, the employees are making substantially more on unemployment than they will on the job.


    1. Things are getting scary. Probably won’t write about it, but might sub-tweet. Everyone needs to brace themselves for some crazy shit in the next few months.


    2. Cranberry said, “We are worried about Slate Star Codex. Our son just cancelled his NYT subscription, due to the threatened doxxing of Scott Alexander by the New York Times.”

      We’re getting to the point that it astonishes me that normal people are still willing to talk to journalists.

      Unless you are selling something and would benefit from publicity, there’s no upside and very substantial downside.


      1. It’s amazing to me that normal people are willing to be journalists, for the same reasons plus lots of potential for being furloughed.


      2. Yes. The Post Gazette’s owners seem to be actually trying to destroy the paper in order to show how much they hate the reporters.


      3. “It’s amazing to me that normal people are willing to be journalists, for the same reasons plus lots of potential for being furloughed.” This is one reason I’m not planning to go back to my old career.



        Slate Star Codex (SSC) was a long-form blog written by San Francisco Bay Area psychiatrist Scott Alexander. The blog focused on science, medicine (especially within psychiatry), philosophy, politics, and futurism. The blog’s name was based on an approximate anagram of “Scott Alexander” the author’s pen name.

        It was always thought provoking.


    3. Worried how? Breaking his pseudonym seems rude, and potentially a discussion about using his pseudonym (he’s not really anonymous, since it appears that it is fairly simple to uncover who he is) might have been productive. The New York Times talks about Banksy & the White House Book by “Anonymous”.

      (I’d guess this storm in the niche that follows the blog will result in threats to the reporter. I’d say more threats than the non-pseudonymous Alexander would get, but I don’t know enough about the blog to say that, though the presumption that Scott Alexander is a man and the reporter is a woman should mean that alone, statistically).


      1. bj said, “Worried how? Breaking his pseudonym seems rude, and potentially a discussion about using his pseudonym (he’s not really anonymous, since it appears that it is fairly simple to uncover who he is) might have been productive.”

        It’s also really dumb to out him when he cooperated with the piece, as other anonymous people are going to see that and not want to deal with this journalist, or journalists generally.

        As Scott Alexander noted, it’s not like he is some sort of criminal. He did nothing to deserve this.


      2. his discussion is here:
        I am very sorry to lose him, his discussions were thoughtful and interesting. The discussion of the problems which doxxing him would pose to his work as a psychiatrist and potentially to his housemates was persuasive. I would have dumped the smug preening bastards at the Times long ago, but my wife likes it, so we still take it.


  4. Some local news:

    Our county (which didn’t really experience a true first wave) is experiencing a COVID-19 surge.

    The TX governor had tied the hands of local authorities in terms of being able to have stricter local restrictions, but the governor has backpedaled, and as of this week, our city has a mask order that businesses are responsible for enforcing. (There’s no penalty on individuals but businesses can be fined for customer noncompliance.) There are a bunch of exceptions to the rules. I fear that the exceptions (while individually reasonable) will make it harder to enforce the rules on the ground. On the other hand, I went to the store today and our HEB had around 95% compliance. Before the rule change, mask-wearing at this store had probably been around 40-50%. It was substantially lower at other local businesses, though, before the new city rules.

    There’s also a statewide crackdown on bars that are packing in too many customers:

    A dozen bars have lost their liquor license (!) for a month.


    1. I am wondering what does induce people into compliance to these directives, like wearing masks.There’s availability and comfort. But the description of the Turning Point audience in Phoenix discarding the masks they’d been given? What would convince them that it is worthwhile?

      Just recently the King County executive was arguing against a mandatory mask order, and in favor of voluntary compliance, arguing that the health professionals were saying that making masks plentifully available, encouraging their use with logic, and changing social norms would be effective, while mandatory rules would not. Yesterday, the governor issued a mandatory order.

      If the goal is as much compliance as possible with a masks (and let’s presume that’s the best public health path for the sake of argument) what methods are the most effective?


      1. Our local order is that persons 10 and over are required to wear a mask when in a public place and unable to socially distance, except in the case of physical or psychological inability. The store (as opposed to the individual) may be fined for noncompliance. It seems to me that it would be hard to enforce the fines, but I suppose that if a store doesn’t have the mask announcements posted and has few customers wearing masks, it would be fair to assume that they are not making a good faith effort.

        My husband went to HEB today and saw only one mom and one toddler not wearing masks (previous compliance had probably peaked around 40-50%). I haven’t been to other stores, so can’t report, but earlier in the spring, places like local hardware stores had lower masking rates, with the grocery stores having the most masked customers.

        Of course, the mandatory mask rule depends on the backup of being able to summon a cop or security guard to toss out violators.


  5. “ On the other hand, I went to the store today and our HEB had around 95% compliance”

    that’s good to hear. I’m worried about Texas, but hope fatality rates remain low. I’m starting to hear some stories about hospital capacity (a pediatric hospital that is taking adult covid patients).


    1. bj said, “that’s good to hear. I’m worried about Texas, but hope fatality rates remain low. I’m starting to hear some stories about hospital capacity (a pediatric hospital that is taking adult covid patients).”

      Houston is a hot spot, but they have SO much hospital capacity.

      Our high school graduate and I got swabbed this past Wed. after she failed her dental screening because she’d had a 99.7 degree temp recently. We had to reschedule her dental apt. Happily, we got results today and are both negative. I expect we both have allergies. However, a kid from school did just test positive.

      Our youngest failed her temp check for therapy this morning (also 99.7) and we had to skip it. The therapist said that 99.4 is OK, but 99.5 and over is a no.

      The school/college reopening situation is not looking good.


  6. This guy’s statue in Madison just got pulled down, decapitated and dumped in a lake:

    “Hans Christian Heg (December 21, 1829 – September 20, 1863) was a Norwegian American journalist, anti-slavery activist, politician and soldier, best known for leading the Scandinavian 15th Wisconsin Volunteer Regiment in the American Civil War. He died of the wounds he received at the Battle of Chickamauga.”

    Also, a Democratic state senator who tried to film the events was attacked by protesters.


    1. I always oppose violence against living human beings, but I don’t care about statues getting pulled down. Art, yes, and there’s certainly a gay area.

      There’s a joke circulating on twitter in which a Muslim gets asked, “well what if we go around tearing down all the statues of Mohammad?”


      1. “I don’t care about statues getting pulled down.”

        I mostly agree.* I’ve been arguing with a HS friend (not a Trump supporter) over the Teddy Roosevelt statue at the Museum of Natural History in NYC. The problem isn’t TR himself (though I personally have issues with TR himself, but that’s another story). The problem is that the statue has him on a horse with a Black man and a Native man walking beside him.

        But I’ve also decided that statues are fascist.** They basically are built to stay up forever, to demand that *this* version of history will outlive others. Resources are being put into establishing the legacy of one man (and it’s almost always a man). But really, so much of history is ephemeral, and our understanding of what is important to remember changes over time.

        *I guess it depends on what you mean by statues. I like abstract statues, like the Statue of Liberty, which anthropomorphizes an idea. Also, the statue of Fonzie in Milwaukee must stay there forever.

        **This is actually a reference to the movie Bull Durham, when Crash tells Nuke that strikeouts are fascist, not a political point.


      2. I hadn’t really thought through why I think “eh” when people pull down statues, but I think your statement “They basically are built to stay up forever, to demand that *this* version of history will outlive others.” is a good characterization. The history, specifically, of the confederate statues, which were put up when the process of intimidating, segregating, and suppressing the free Blacks in the South was being implemented makes this goal very clear. But, even for other statues, fixing one man’s role in history absent evidence or the revision of evidence seems a significant goal.

        I agree about the Statue of Liberty, about abstract art like the Bean or the Gateway arch. And, aside from the rules in Islam, I see that religious statues can also symbols of an idea (from David to Mary). There are also statues of individuals that are supposed to be depictions of an idea (war memorials, for example). We have a friend who was depicted as the boy scout in a boy scout memorial (that is, his face was used). He’s still alive and is a good guy, but what if he turned out to be evil? And then there are the antiquities. So a number of personal gray areas where my gray areas are.

        And, certainly pulling down public statues is not my cause.


    1. Would find it difficult to vacation in a place with Trump shirts everywhere, but the t shirts do not cause Covid. Too bad about the masks. I wouldn’t have thought N.C. would have been so bad.


      1. I was at the grocery store last week and saw a woman and her daughter wearing masks (we have about 80-90% compliance in the grocery stores, less so elsewhere). She was wearing one of those “proudly clinging to my guns and religion” t-shirts. So there’s not a 1-1 t-shirt/noncompliance ratio.

        The last couple of weeks I’ve done more outdoor social visits – sitting out on a deck with a couple friends, a small outdoor book club meeting. People are pretty careful about keeping their distances.

        Statues would be an interesting thing to study internationally. It seems like Soviets really loved their statues. I’m interested in the religious angle too, given that making graven images is prohibited in the ten commandments. (You can interpret it as meaning that you’re not supposed to make any to worship, and that’s how it’s usually taken. But it’s clear that the biblical authors are well aware of how easy it is to idolize something once you’ve created an image of it.)


    2. I spent yesterday saying, “Washington, Why?” (because Washington state was on the quarantine list). And, apparently it was an error at the time. But, our case counts are creeping up. It’s a big state, but some creep in our county even though we are going to Phase 2. I don’t think I am going to Phase 2. No in person dining for me (though we have increased take out).

      Stay safe and healthy, 11D family and everyone else. And, I do understand that staying healthy means different activities for different people. I want/need (which to me means really want) our take out food but I don’t need hair cuts or in person dining and am willing to keep my bubble pretty small.


    3. Also thought Cuomo was being far too smug for someone who saw 30K people die under his watch. I was hoping the South’s case counts wouldn’t go up and I don’t think any governor wants to see 30K people die under his watch (thought I have some worries about the TX lieutenant governor) and am hoping very much that TX does not see its deaths sky rocket (and Florida and Arizona and every other state).

      and CA does not have the virus under control (and I am worrying about WA).


      1. “Cuomo was being far too smug”

        He was born smug. He knows that everyone over the age of 40 in NY grew up loving his father. Well, not enough to call the Tappan Zee the “Mario Cuomo Bridge,” but still….


      2. Ann Richards had a nice line which she applied to George W Bush (and which she had filched from Jim Hightower) “Born on third base, and he thinks he hit a triple”


  7. Sorry, not caught up.

    There seem to be a bunch of statewide bar closings going on right now: TX, Florida and Ohio.

    TX is also shutting down tubing and rafting businesses and going back to a 50% occupancy cap for restaurants.

    There’s also now a 100-person cap for outdoor events without local government permission.


    1. Write this down kids. “Crowds of drunk people are very bad at following health regulations.”


    2. Good to hear that there is pivoting.

      Our bars are now opening, and I am not pleased with the level of distancing I’m seeing.


    1. They are closing down the local bars again. There was a huge surge of cases and they traced it to people coming back from vacation in other states (they said Florida, Texas, and the Carolinas) and spreading it at bars.


  8. One of the many problems with the attempts to illegally take down public statues is that a lot of people do not want them taken down and we’re starting to get a bunch of confrontations between wannabe statue topplers and pro-statue people. There is potential for people getting hurt during these confrontations–and even without opposition, taking down a heavy piece of metal from a high pedestal is not an entirely risk free process.

    I’ve seen the following online:

    a) a face-off between people who want to topple the Emancipation (!) Memorial (AKA the Freedman’s Memorial–funded by freed slaves) in DC and a number of what appeared to be black history tour guides (one in costume as Frederick Douglas)

    b) a face-off in front of the Teddy Roosevelt statue

    c) a face-off in front of the St. Louis (!) statue in St. Louis (BLM versus Catholics).

    We’re not really talking about Confederate generals anymore.

    A modest proposal: how about we decide which public statuary stays up and which new public statuary goes up via the normal democratic process? Also, if anybody wants to take a statue down, how about they design a new one, fundraise for it, and proceed via normal democratic channels?

    I know that’s a lot harder work than just smashing stuff, but you’re not going to make a better society via mob rule and wanton destruction.

    Hey, the Republicans in Mississippi just voted to remove the Confederate flag from the Mississippi flag. If they can do that, surely Democrats in Democratic-controlled cities are capable of voting out truly offensive monuments?


    1. I have a lot of thoughts about statues, but I have to say I’m a little afraid of blogging about it. People are crazy these days.


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