SL 804

Fire pits are a hot ticket item right now. We socialized next to fire all weekend.

We have been doing a ton of work on the house, since we’ve been home. I’ll do a longer post on this topic tomorrow, so let me just share some quick links today. We’re getting some new cheap furniture for family room, including a coffee table that can easily be pushed aside during yoga hours and a new laptop desk.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has an episode where Lenny Bruce does a bit on a TV show by a thinly veiled Hugh Hefner. So, I found the original Lenny Bruce on the show back in 1959. It’s fascinating.

To make room for my new furniture, I’m selling our old crap on Craig’s List. I’m fascinated by Internet 1.0 websites that are still up and running. Wikipedia, Reddit, Drudge. What else?

38 thoughts on “SL 804

  1. There are several people on the neighborhood Facebook and nextdoor that repeatedly insist no one should be using wood fire pot, fire pits or charcoal grills because this is a respiratory disease. One even has a petition to have them banned. The responses are no longer kind, though they did start that way.


    1. We’ve had that too, but honestly there’s a giant coke oven just over the hill.

      My favorite on Nextdoor at the animal people. There is a woman who trapped a dog while trying to trap a fox (for wildlife rescue purposes). She wanted the owner of the dog to pay for the damage done to the trap while freeing the dog.


      1. Well, this group opposes wood fireplaces, charcoal grills and fire pits. One also complains about people running in the park without masks, because, she says, that makes it impossible for her to open her windows. She lives on the 6th floor, across a busy street from the park. CDC or no, she’s just ridiculous.


      2. Has the group taken a position on power plants, incinerators, gas cooktops and the internal combustion engine yet?


    1. No. We have the cheapest model from Home Depot from seven years ago. It’s covered with rust, but it doesn’t matter. Wayfair has lots of options.


    2. We have a fire pit that looks a lot like Laura’s. I was scoping out more beautiful ones when my spouse picked the cheaper option and it was the right decision. Fire pits are going to get grimy (well, certainly the way we use them) so getting one that looks beautiful before it’s been used doesn’t seem a wise investment.

      I’ve been looking at propane heaters, because I am not a fan of wood smoke, but know so little about them that I have not figured out what to get.


  2. We were at the cafeteria tonight and the cafeteria greeter/COVID enforcer told us that from now on, we’re supposed to have masks up in the cafeteria unless actually in the process of putting food into our mouths. A few minutes later, I saw the greeter/enforcer have some words with two male students who had paused to chat in the middle of dinner.

    Meh. At least we have the option to eat at home.


    1. bj asked, “Are your rates going up? Is that the reason for more restrictions?”

      Hometown U. is doing really well–the lowest number of active COVID cases in 2.5 months. There was a little COVID bump at the beginning of the October, but it’s been crushed. They are testing about 10% of the campus community every week.

      The county, on the other hand, continues to smolder along, not getting consistently better, but also not getting consistently worse. It’s weird–I don’t know how long this equilibrium can go on. County positivity is about 6-7%, but I expect that the quantity and composition of the testing population has changed a lot–the positivity number has gone way down, but the new case number is fairly constant. The city schools and the suburban schools look great, with the exception of one suburban high school–but the suburban high school was a lot worse a week or two ago. The suburban high school (2400 kids) went from an alarming 16 active cases to 6 now, without closing. I’d love to hear the back story on that…There were several week-long school closures in the city 2 weeks ago, but as far as I can tell, everything is open again.

      I’m not sure what is causing Hometown U. to tighten up. Maybe an “abundance of caution” or maybe something came up in their contact tracing to make them concerned about dining?

      I see that El Paso is doing a 2-week curfew.


      1. The suburban district I watch has 10 schools and a total of 12 known active COVID cases, with 6 of those being at the huge high school. Half of the schools have no known active COVID cases.


  3. Laura tweeted, “One neighborhood in Newark – the East Ward – has a 25% positivity rate. What’s going on there? What’s causing the high rates? Is it due to crowded housing, employment, low mask compliance? Certainly not due to schools, because they are all closed.”

    One of the possibilities (don’t know if this is accurate in this case) is that in a poor enough neighborhood, people don’t test just for the heck of it, but only when they genuinely feel sick.

    Karol Markowicz (@karol on twitter) has posited this as a reason for dramatically higher positivity rates in certain NYC neighborhoods–the posher the neighborhood, the more testing is going on.

    Also, poorer people may be more fearful about the repercussions of positive results in terms of school, job, etc, as opposed to being fearful about having COVID.


    1. Another possibility is that it is an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood. There are several in New Jersey, but I don’t know Newark very well.


  4. My wife’s mom, who just completed surgery/chemotherapy/ radiation for lung cancer tested positive for COVID. So far her symptoms are that of a bad cold. She’s in the Tampa area. She’s focusing right now on trying to keep from transmitting to her husband. They have not been the most careful so maybe this will push them to be more cautious.



    Fauci warns that Americans need to be prepared to continue with masks and social distancing into 2022.

    ““It’s not going to be the way it was with polio and measles, where you get a vaccine, case closed, it’s done,” Fauci said. “It’s going to be public health measures that linger for months and months.””

    “Coronavirus vaccines — once approved and distributed widely to the public — won’t be a “knockout punch” that eradicates the virus, he said. Instead, he expects the process to take time and anticipates a 70% effectiveness rate for an approved vaccine.”

    Things might go better, but Fauci is managing expectations.

    “A “profound degree” of herd immunity won’t likely happen until the end of 2021 or beginning of 2022, he said, which is why he predicts public health measures such as face masks and social distancing will continue until then.”


  6. Interestingly, Trump has been losing white support and gaining non-white support since the last election.

    There’s also a gender gap of some size in every US ethnic group, with the biggest one among Hispanics. I can’t find the number right now (26 points?), but there’s a vast gender gap between male Hispanics and female Hispanics, with Hispanic men being much more likely to favor Trump.


  7. Thought you all might be interested in some research on the impact of the Covid lockdown here in NZ – remembering that it was a much more total restriction than has been imposed (I think) anywhere in the US.

    Especially the impact of the childcare burden falling dis-proportionally on women. Which we all knew, but interesting to have some quantifying figures. Remembering, of course, that this is a survey (i.e. self-reported behavior) rather than independent analysis.


  8. Nice to see that lifestyle article on the impact of the virus and virus containment in New Zealand. I love having comparative information but am frustrated when the comparisons are naive (and, there’s a lot of New Zealand envy around here. I’ve even heard of a family who decided to move there — potentially back there, meaning they were from New Zealand).

    I’ve been following California and Texas since Ashish Jha (dean of public health at Brown U) called California out as a complex state that was implementing American solutions (through multiple phases of virus outbreaks). Comparing the US to other countries (especially an island nation like New Zealand) are always problematic. But what about the natural experiments of choices different states are making?

    CA, TX, and FL crossed over NY in number of cases in mid July or so, and since then the number of cases tracked their populations. In mid September, TX surpassed CA in numbers of deaths (which means 1.3x the deaths/capita) and a few days ago TX beat CA in numbers of cases (again, even higher per capita). CA’s positivity is hovering under 3%, while TX has a rate reaching 9%. TX hospitalizations are 1,5X CA’s (with 10M fewer people). So, in the past 3 weeks or so, CA’s efforts are comparing favorably to TX and I think will provide a bit of a test of whether different choices result in different death rates from the virus. Then, we can compare those loss of lives to the economic and other human costs of the virus containment measures.


    1. The results shift so quickly in various jurisdictions that I would hesitate to draw any conclusions from comparisons. I don’t mean to pick on Kevin Drum, whom I respect and read regularly, but last spring, when COVID rates were low in California, he was proclaiming “Gavin Newsom for president.” More recently, he was saluting the Europeans, who had maintained restrictions long enough to “crush” the virus, while the feckless red-voting Americans had not. Today, the Europe versus America comparison is not much touted by those on the left. I continue to maintain that no one knows anything, or at least no one knows enough to endorse with confidence any particular policy measure.


    2. Both kids’ NY colleges are doing well, I think. Cornell has had 0 new cases in the last 4 days of testing (about 15K tests). E’s college is now doing “pooled saliva testing,” according to a recent and very positive sounding email. They have 5-10 cases on campus.


    3. Yes, we very much have to wait and see the data over the longer run. This is a particular comparison I’m keeping track of. It was a moderately predictable mistake to presume that Texas wouldn’t be affected when NY was suffering. That the Dakotas could escape was more plausible (were they isolated enough?). We now know that they aren’t, at least in the ways that this virus spreads.

      France, Spain and Italy are experiencing big outbreaks (as is the US, now on its very clear 3rd wave), but whether we can use them as an example will depend on what happens next. Will they take measures to moderate the outbreak, and will those measures work?

      Jha’s evaluation of California was not during the first wave, but recently. Will they be able to mitigate the 3rd wave?

      WA is also experiencing a 3rd wave (so we are not escaping). But, we do have 1/2 the deaths per capita of Texas, which I consider a win (though with the caveat that I don’t consider WA, with it’s <8 million population a comp for Texas).


    4. bj said, ” So, in the past 3 weeks or so, CA’s efforts are comparing favorably to TX and I think will provide a bit of a test of whether different choices result in different death rates from the virus. Then, we can compare those loss of lives to the economic and other human costs of the virus containment measures.”

      Meanwhile, people are leaving CA and San Francisco rents have plunged over 30%.

      Currently, it costs nearly 3X as much to hire a U-Haul from San Francisco to Dallas as it does to do the trip from Dallas to San Francisco.


  9. Deaths/million (France, UK, Italy, Spain, Germany)/day = 1.8 v US = 2.4, right now, with everyone’s infection rates still trending upward.

    Cumulative deaths, Europe 48/million v US 62/million. And Europe’s deaths occurred (mostly) during the 1st wave, when treatments were worse and hospitals were overwhelmed. Will they do better in treating in their 2nd wave? as we did in our 2nd wave?

    It’s not the momentarily low numbers that can be used as measures of success (though when those low rates are maintains for long periods, that is a success, even if temporary), but whether methods of dealing with outbreaks are successful at bringing numbers down again.


  10. I do hope that Biden and the Democrats are not overstating their case that they would have handled COVID better than the Republicans. At this point, I can’t imagine how they could do anything differently in this country without imposing martial law.


    1. That is an interesting question. I think early on in the pandemic different leadership (and, I don’t know that it had to be Democrat, just rational), might have made a difference, because early intervention matters in pandemics. Say, if we’d set expectations to wear masks, maybe more people would. I think something like over 70% say they do. Could that have been 90% with different leadership? This virus is troublesome, with its particulate/airborne transmission, asymptomatic cases, long infectious period, superspreaders, deadly but not decimating (so easier for people to take on the odds, when it is 1/100 rather than 1/10), and uneven in who it affects. Those aspects make the virus deeply challenging to control.

      I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a safe and effective (not magical) vaccine, which I think is a plausible hope from what I am reading.


      1. If rational leadership made a difference, then France (at least) and maybe the UK would have distinctly better numbers than the US, but they don’t. It’s conceivable that Germany has better leadership than any other Western country, but I think it’s ridiculous to draw any conclusions from data which changes so rapidly.


      2. y81 said, “If rational leadership made a difference, then France (at least) and maybe the UK would have distinctly better numbers than the US, but they don’t.”

        This was kind of unfortunate:

        “Traffic around Paris hit record levels just hours before a new national lockdown came into force across France. Jams stretched to a cumulative 430 miles (700 km) in the Ile-de-France region early on Thursday evening, local media reported. Lockdown measures came into force at midnight on Friday (23:00 GMT) to tackle spiralling Covid infections.”


      3. We can’t draw any conclusions yet, only have hypotheses that are provisional. But what we know doesn’t suggest that choices, rational leadership, scientific advice are useless, merely that they are not perfect.

        So far, France has had 522 deaths/million; the US 686 deaths/million. If rational leadership had kept the US at France’s level, we’d have 53,000 fewer deaths. We can only dream of Germany’s results, which would have meant 185,000! fewer deaths. These are back of the envelope calculations, not science and the results could still change. France could have a very bad winter and we could do better. But those are measurable differences, not to be casually dismissed.

        Spain is in pretty bad shape and it is worth seeing whether their nationwide curfew has any positive effect on cases/deaths.

        And, I do think that the investment to fast track vaccines was a good decision, and was a good decision even if the vaccine turned out to not be feasible.


    2. We also seem to have management/treatments that have reduced hospitalized deaths significantly (even accounting for different demographics in the first and second wave). So, masking, vaccine, and treatments might bring us back to some semblance of normal living again.


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