SL 844

Straight up. I’m burned out. I’ve been going non-stop with family, home, and work stuff for too many weeks in a row. I know that I’m burned out, when the thought of doing a routine chore, like going to the supermarket, just feels HUGE.

To recharge my energy levels, I’m giving myself permission to chill out for the rest of the week. I’m reading books, reading fun stuff on the Internet. I’m going to cook up a big pot of potato leek soup and zucchini bread this afternoon. Next week, Ian’s very limited summer programming is going to end, so I’m going to be keeping him busy with little trips to New York City and the beach until we go to Bermuda at the end of August. We’ll have fun, but everything just feels exhausting at this minute. 

So, what’s amusing me on the Internet today? 

Ian is going to love this Ghost Busters sequel. 

The best dirt on the Royal Family is now coming through The Daily Beast and Page Six.

I’m keeping an eye on the situation in Northern Ireland

Nice photo series in the New Yorker — A Woman’s Intimate Record of Wyoming in the Early Twentieth Century

Finally, everyone is admitting that Emily Oster was right — schools should have been the last places to close. (My position is that schools shut down at the right time, but they should have opened up again very quickly, especially for the most vulnerable kids. Now, schools should be supplementing like crazy, but they aren’t.) 

Looks like we’re going to have to wear masks in public spaces again. Masks don’t really bother me, so I don’t care. I have been occasionally putting them back on again anyway. As long as they keep schools open, I’m fine with the masks. 

Shopping: The construction is still going on here, so most of my recent purchases have been for things like outdoor plug covers. I also have been eyeing Moroccan and Turkish things on Etsy. Because we’re making homemade pasta as the Sunday treat meal, I got a cute drying rack. I found some very inexpensive purse straps on Amazon. 

Picture: We took Ian to Dorney Park — a water park — in Pennsylvania this weekend. We met up with a couple other families with autistic young adults. On the way back, we stopped in Easton, a town along the Delaware River, where we had a nice meal and cool beer. Very fun. 

35 thoughts on “SL 844

  1. I am on my local school committee, and I am already getting lots of anti-mask emails from parents. Got my first anti-mask plus anti-CRT yesterday too. I am not looking forward to another year of fighting over this – I am really hoping our governor (I live in MA) gives us some clear guidance or a mandate on this, rather than having everyone fight it out, community by community.


    1. A local private school head just got fired for first degree critical race theory, allegedly at the behest of an anonymous group of parents. The group, with no spokesperson that can be reached by a newspaper, sent a physical letter to all the families in the school, a letter that
      included a picture of the kid they had at the school.


      1. I guess they did have a spokesperson for the first stories, but no response given for the more recent ones.


  2. It’s not clear at all how beneficial mandatory masking is for little kids in school. Kids that age are both very low risk if they do get COVID and really, really bad at wearing them. Last year, I had to wash my 8-year-old’s cloth masks at least every 2 days, as even as a big 2nd grader, she got them so filthy from constantly sucking on them.

    WHO still says that kids 5 and under should not wear masks at all (i.e. pre-K and K), that kids 12+ (middle school and high school) should wear them the same as adults, but that 6-11 (elementary) is a a grey area. Meanwhile, the US authorities believe kids 2-and-up should mask on planes and in daycare…

    Realistically, if you have a group of 20+ little kids sitting in an enclosed space for 7 hours 5 days a week, all wearing masks that are at best 30-50% effective, what does the mask accomplish? My guy Vinay Prasad (MD MPH) has mentioned a number of times that it’s kind of terrible how few randomized controlled trials people even attempted to do on non-pharmaceutical interventions this past year. Everybody just winged it, and we still have no idea now what works or doesn’t work.

    I know this was pre-Delta, so maybe things have changed, but I have to mention that last year PK-3 at my kids’ private school didn’t have to mask inside the classroom, and it was not in fact a COVID bomb. There was also minimal COVID in local elementary schools until probably at some point in November.

    Second look at ventilation? It’s not too late to try.

    People, we’ve had literally 18 months to get ready for this, and billions of dollars have been allotted for this already!


  3. I hate masks, but I’ll wear them. I’d say 75+ % are wearing them shopping now.

    I have been eating in restaurants without masks. I’m a really slow, intermittent eater, so masking is meaningless if I’m eating. If cases keep going up, I may have to give up indoor dining, which will make me sad.


    1. bj said, “I hate masks, but I’ll wear them. I’d say 75+ % are wearing them shopping now.”

      Here, there was a point recently where maybe 5% of people were wearing masks while shopping, but it’s visibly up right now–maybe 10%?

      Doctors’ and dentists’ offices have been the diehards locally with regard to requiring masks.

      There is a significant local surge right now, but the hospitals have slightly less than 10% of beds occupied by COVID patients. I recently emailed the mayor, asking to put back the daily COVID dashboard, and he emailed (!) back, saying that it was coming back. And it did come back! Hometown U. has more than 70% of employees reporting that they are vaccinated, but only just over 40% of students say they are vaccinated. Unfortunately, Hometown U. has dismantled much of their COVID infrastructure, so I have no idea how they are going to deal with the fall. I’m curious what Hometown U. is going to do to “encourage” students.

      One of my vaccinated teens may have just had a stealth COVID case. He had 2-3 week of malaise and weakness, we tested him twice with a home kit and got a negative, and his blood tests turned up nothing for a variety of other possible culprits. On the other hand, he also mysteriously recovered his sense of smell a couple days ago–some chemicals at the lab where he is volunteering suddenly seemed a lot stinkier to him than they had before. He’s also suddenly recovered his strength and is better at pullups and racquetball. I’m not 100% sure that it was COVID, but I don’t know what else it could be.


    2. I went out tonight to a rooftop bar with some friends. We were outside, chatting and having drinks, and all of a sudden, one of us said, OMG, and we all turned towards where she was looking and there was a big-ass thunderstorm approaching. We went to the inside of the restaurant/bar and finished out the night there, but I hated every second of it.


  4. In related news, COVID in the UK is starting to crash:

    I don’t wish to speak too soon, but I’m pretty sure that Missouri and Nevada are starting to level off.


      1. One of my adult children caught up with a couple of friends who live in NYC over the weekend. Both friends knew 5 people (different people) with new Covid diagnoses. All were in their 20s. All were vaccinated.

        So I advance the theory that the new variant is not covered by vaccines. I do not understand why people are blaming the unvaccinated for the spread, when it’s clear vaccinated people can catch and spread it. In Provincetown, the majority of the cases were vaccinated. The area is very well vaccinated–


      2. And as I wrote that, this came up:

        CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said new data shows the delta variant, which accounts for more than 80% of the new infections in the U.S., behaves “uniquely differently” from its predecessors and could make vaccinated people infectious.

        “Information on the delta variant from several states and other countries indicates that in rare occasions some vaccinated people infected with the delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others,” Walensky said in announcing the new guidance, a reversal of what the CDC recommended in May. “This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendation.”

        So, I recommend people get vaccinated to avoid hospitalization & death. The Provincetown cluster, now over 700 cases, only had 3 hospitalizations, the last I looked. It’s also very possible that vaccinated young adults are catching Covid, but the symptoms are so mild, they don’t recognize that they might be infectious.

        On the basis of my kid’s NYC vaccinated friends’ Covid case rate this week, it’s likely not “rare.” 69% of the Provincetown cases were vaccinated.


      3. There’s nothing at all unexpected about an unvaccinated minority leading to an outbreak that mostly affects the vaccinated in a population with high rates of vaccination. It could be a new variant, but the unvaccinated form the reservoir that stokes the outbreak that createsthe variant. A close-to-completely vaccinated population wouldn’t be able to touch off a outbreak or be as likely to see a new variant evolve.


      4. Cranberry said, “So I advance the theory that the new variant is not covered by vaccines.”

        Or somewhat less covered.

        With the old variants, the vaccine was so effective that nearly everybody vaccinated could be exposed and not even get a sniffle. Delta seems to lead to a lot more moderate breakthrough cases, and yeah, I think we have to accept the fact that vaccinated people may sometimes be infectious.

        On the other hand, you’ll notice that–even with the current case surge and a lot of breakthroughs–US COVID mortality is holding pretty steady. The NYT says that (as of last report) daily US COVID deaths are averaging 290, which is 0.09 deaths per 100k per day. It’s not fantastic, but it could be a lot worse.


      5. @AmyP (not sure how threading will work.)

        Walter A. Orenstein, associate director of the Emory Vaccine Center, said he was struck by data showing that vaccinated people who became infected with delta shed just as much virus as those who were not vaccinated. The slide references an outbreak in Barnstable County, Mass., where vaccinated and unvaccinated people shed nearly identical amounts of virus.

        “I think this is very important in changing things,” Orenstein said.

        A person working in partnership with the CDC on investigations of the delta variant, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak, said the data came from a July 4 outbreak in Provincetown, Mass. Genetic analysis of the outbreak showed that people who were vaccinated were transmitting the virus to other vaccinated people. The person said the data was “deeply disconcerting” and a “canary in the coal mine” for scientists who had seen the data.

        I recommend reading the entire article, as well as finding the CDC study, which some newspapers are linking to. The vaccinated are getting infected, and infecting others. Fortunately, vaccination still seems to protect against hospitalization and death.

        The Provincetown outbreak now has 882 cases, but only 7 hospitalizations.

        Twitter, Google and Apple are delaying returns to the office, in the face of this data:

        As always, I am in the middle. At some point, we have to open up. I believe in vaccination, but not masks. I have sinusitis, so it’s hard to breathe. I’m also hard of hearing and have a tiny voice, so meeting people with masks on is an exercise in mutual lack of communication. The McKinsey report is devastating.


      6. Cranberry,

        The Provincetown stuff is very interesting.

        I was at the grocery store today and I’d say that suddenly 30% of the people there were wearing masks, probably 3X as many as my last visit.

        I wonder, how well does rapid testing or rapid home testing work for Delta? My teenage son (who we believe has just recovered from a fully vaccinated COVID case) tested negative twice with home tests. I’m vaccinated but I’ve been a little sniffly, so I recently did two home tests (different brand than teen) 36 hours apart and also got negatives.

        It would be awfully interesting to know how effective cloth masks are against Delta. My guess is not very.

        There is a moderate surge in vaccination right now in the US, but between the return to masks and lots of publicity about vaccinated people infecting other vaccinated people, it’s very easy for unvaccinated people to get the message that vaccination doesn’t matter and isn’t worth it. Also, as I’ve noted before, there are no radio PSAs in our area encouraging vaccination–at least not that I’ve heard, and I drive a bunch and twiddle back and forth between several stations. NOTHING.


  5. I know this feels like a 1st world problem, but I am *still* battling Mr 13 about going to school.

    He *really* wants to be back learning remotely (aka sneakily playing computer games for most of the day).
    I don’t.
    * He learned less during lockdown (poorer exam results).
    * The quality of the work he ‘did’ complete, was poorer (just putting in the minimum effort required)
    * He required fairly constant vigilance from me in monitoring what he was doing.
    * Remote teachers just let him get away with stuff (because at least he was showing up online for class – unlike 1/3 of the kids)

    And, most importantly, the school isn’t offering remote classes – so he’d be either officially homeschooled (which I am *not* signing up for) or in correspondence school (along with a whole bunch of kids who have serious behaviour issues which have seen them excluded from school – not a peer group I want him to associate with).

    It’s a battle we have at least once a week.

    And this is 6 months since the last lockdown – when they had remote learning for 3 weeks.

    I’m betting that I’m not alone here – and this will be another of the battles that parents get to fight, once school is up and running again.


    1. Bummer — Is this an example of changing norms? Or did he agitate for not going to school before the pandemic?

      I think that we non authoritarian parents don’t admit to this feature of child raising enough. We do have to fight against the tide when norms in our circles change, on big things, and smaller, like when everyone else has a car or a phone.


      1. bj said, “I think that we non authoritarian parents don’t admit to this feature of child raising enough. We do have to fight against the tide when norms in our circles change, on big things, and smaller, like when everyone else has a car or a phone.”

        Years ago, we lived near one or two homeschooling families. My oldest (6ish-7ish at the time) used to beg to be homeschooled.

        I used to tell her, homeschooling is for little girls who always listen to their mommies!

        I’m probably at least 20% more authoritarian than you, though…


      2. Admittedly, my own children thought being homeschooled would be the furthest reaches of Dante’s inferno.

        I’m actually probably more authoritarian than I seem in this comment section. But my children are fairly compliant (and, probably want to do most of the things I want them to do — except unload the dishwasher).


      3. He did agitate a bit to be homeschooled before the Covid lockdowns.
        But it was the ability to play online games during lockdown for 8-10 hours per day – which was the real driver.
        Compared to 2-3 hours (max) per day when he goes to school.

        I’m seeing this desire for remote-schooling commented on a lot amongst the Mums of ‘gamer’ kids. [Being clear, here, it’s the kids who want to stay remote – not the parents!] Those kids who are sporty or highly social seem a lot happier to go back to the physical peer group.


    2. Was he being bullied? It’s pretty common in that age group. It can be hard for kids to admit they’re having social problems. Computer games often have a social component. So he could be getting peer time through multiplayer online games which he prefers to (potentially) negative experiences with classmates.

      At that age, one of my kids was being bullied. It was so bad, parents of classmates were complaining to the school counselors about their kids being bullied for talking to her. It took years for us to discover how bad it was. At that time, had she had the option of remote learning, she would have preferred it.

      I now know that school refusal can be a sign of bullying.


      1. My kids are fairly shocked at the level of bullying they hear about from prior generations. I may have occasionally experienced what would be called bullying but was pretty impervious (which did limit bullying by the level of mean girl in my world). But, I hear stories from my nerd clan of men my age that are horrifying. I think those experiences shaped some of them. My own spouse was of the nerd clan, but was also big, from a very young engage, impossible to fit into lockers.

        I do think that when children are entirely reluctant to do something (go to school, sleep, . . . .) it is worth exploring whether there are issues beyond non-compliance or choosing the easy route or just wanting to do something else more. My go to story for this was a kid I was supervising who used a black sharpie to highlight something. I thought he was doing it to mock me. But, he sincerely did not understand the difference between the black sharpie & a yellow highlighter.


      2. Cranberry, thanks for your concern re: bullying.

        There has been a small element of this (he’s a stand-out-from-the-crowd kind of kid) – but the school is really on top of it, and he can see that action is being taken against the kids doing the bullying. So I don’t think this is a major factor.
        NB: ‘private’ (i.e. Catholic school integrated into the State system) is a benefit here. They can exclude (suspend or expel) kids who won’t change their behaviour (we’ve seen this happen in other, much more serious, cases) ; whereas it’s pretty difficult for the State schools to do so.

        We’ve been through the different factor scenarios with school counsellors (bullying, social connection, struggling with school work, etc.). And, while there are some elements of all of these – as there are for just about every 13-year-old – they really don’t appear to be a significant driver.
        He really does just want to play online games for 8-10 hours per day (or longer….)

        [The latest fad is an army emulation game, with hours-long online training sessions. I can’t manage to persuade him that joining the army is *not* going to be an enjoyable experience for a kid who struggles to run 100 metres!]


  6. “The best dirt on the Royal Family is now coming through The Daily Beast and Page Six.” The news seems to be that they have a four-book deal. Dunno where the money for that deal is going to come from – I get ab so LUTE ly all the Megxit news I need for free from the tabloid websites, and I won’t be spending fifty cents to get more from a book.


    1. ds said, “The news seems to be that they have a four-book deal. Dunno where the money for that deal is going to come from – I get ab so LUTE ly all the Megxit news I need for free from the tabloid websites, and I won’t be spending fifty cents to get more from a book.”

      One of those books is supposed to be a “wellness” book from Meghan and I can kind of see that?

      But at the same time, doesn’t that sound exactly like the kind of book that winds up DEEPLY discounted in the clearance bins within half a year?

      I mean, what is she going to say–if you have an unlimited budget, unlimited free time, and unlimited household help, you too can look good at 39?


      1. “But at the same time, doesn’t that sound exactly like the kind of book that winds up DEEPLY discounted in the clearance bins within half a year?”

        The not ‘authorized ‘ but-obviously-based-on-info-from-the-Sussexes hagiography by Scobie has already ended up in the 99 p bin in Britain.

        I’d be very surprised if these new ones even earn out their advance….


      2. Ann said, “The not ‘authorized ‘ but-obviously-based-on-info-from-the-Sussexes hagiography by Scobie has already ended up in the 99 p bin in Britain.”

        Oh, man!


      3. “ unlimited budget, unlimited free time, and unlimited household help, you too can look good at 39?..” There’s some luck involved too. And at some point ‘hot’ is history, for all of us. To the extent that her ability to claim the spotlight is conditional on ‘hot’, she had best strike while the iron is, well, hot – and that looks to be her strategy.


  7. Scott Gottlieb linked to this and I was just looking at it:

    They’ve got percentages for previous COVID infection rates. That’s got to be somewhat speculative, but Yale, Harvard and Stanford are involved, so it’s not completely homebrew.

    They think that 46% of Mass residents have already been infected, 55% of Rhode Islanders, 44% of Connecticut residents, 28% of Virginians, 20% of Washingtonians (state not DC), 53% of New Jersey residents, and 48% of Texans. The lowest number is for Hawaii, with only 12% estimated to have been infected and the highest is Arizona at 59%.


    1. The numbers for MA and RI feel really high to me. But what do I know. I don’t leave my house if possible. I’ve asked my husband to poke around at work and see what people think of it.


    1. Cranberry,

      That is very interesting.

      It seems pretty clear that distance/individual learning isn’t that great for the average person.


    2. Just been to the school briefing for kids going into the ‘exam years’ (it’s not for two years for us – but my anxious kid needs to know now).
      We have a system of 3 years of qualifications (NCEA – National Certificate of Educational Attainment). Kids build the qualifications over that time, with a mix of internal and external assessment.

      School told us that the pass rate for Year 1 (the first year) at our school was over 96% last year (up by about 2% from the year before.

      Which all looks like an endorsement for remote learning not being a total disaster.
      [In 2020 kids in Auckland had approx 9-10 weeks of remote learning, and their education was fairly disrupted over-all]


      Last year, in a bid to compensate for the disadvantages of remote learning, the government issued an across-the-board bump in marks – for every 5 credits a student earns, they can get a bonus of 1 additional credit (up to a max of 10 bonus credits)

      Students gain an NCEA qualification by completing 80 credits in the first year, and 60 in subsequent years – so a 10 credit bonus is a significant percentage.

      Anecdotal reports I’m seeing in the local papers indicate that the existing education success-rate gaps are widened by home-based/remote learning. Those kids with lots of support (either parental during lockdown, or external tutoring afterwards) – heck, even with time/space/resources made available for school work at home – do OK (with a bit of artificial grade inflation); those kids who don’t have those things, do considerably worse.


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