SL 862

Hi all! In the past three days, I have written several brilliant, amusing little tales in my head. You were laughing your head off. Floored by my brilliance. Did any of these imaginary blog posts actually make it to the screen with the resultant hilarity? Well, no. But I was killing it, believe me.

I am completely swamped with on-going disability paperwork, managing the status quo, and looking for something better for Ian. I’ll be writing for professional sites again in the new year, so I need to close up some loose ends around here. I’m overextended in terms of community volunteer and political work. I have to manage holiday shopping and events. I’m so stressed out that I feel like there’s a knot in my diaphragm.

Here are some items that caught my eye in the past couple of days:

I subscribe to a couple book agents’ newsletters. Earlier this year, one wrote that the only component of a book proposal that she cares about is “the author bio.” She said she zeroes in on that section and skims to see how many followers they have on social media. So, unless you have a million followers on Twitter, good luck ever finding a book agent. Well, it seems that relying on that metric for finding the next best selling author isn’t fool-proof. hahahahaha

Mark my word. There will be no good educational news for a very long time. Expect to hear one horror story after another. It does make me very sad that few people cared last year or even seems particularly upset now.

I’m not poor. I haven’t had to apply for government subsidies for 20 years. But as a parent filling out the massive government paperwork to get Ian in the system, I get it. As someone on the margins of society, I get it. That’s why I’m a huge fan of Stephanie Land. How can we get bipartisan agreement again to improve the system for disabled folks?

Crime in New York City is a growing problem.

I love Gurdeep Pandher of the Yukon.

“The last thing American children need is more time on Zoom,” said Helaine Olen in The Washington Post. Remote education didn’t work, but some school districts have returned to it, explains Olen. (And thanks for the shout out, Helaine!)

Because Ian loves classical music, we took him to a local piano concert where they performed a Nutcracker duet. (Short video clips at that Instagram link.) We had such a good time that we bought tickets for the full ballet in Lincoln Center for next week.

Picture: When I make a few bucks on Amazon, I buy myself nice shoes. I just got these new Docs, thanks to you all. Thank you!

25 thoughts on “SL 862

  1. Oooh, enjoy the Nutcracker!

    I’m not a frequent live theater/ballet/opera goer (and, do not like music enough for live music to be my thing), but every time I have gone has been an experience, from the 4th grade production of Macbeth when I was in HS, to my last before the pandemic the show at the Luau Kalamaku in Kauai in 2019. I don’t think I’m ready to go to a masked show yet, but I am getting there.


  2. I got paywalled out of the book-publishing story, but let me guess: Billy Eilish fans a) don’t read and b) don’t buy books?

    Laura wrote, “Because Ian loves classical music, we took him to a local piano concert where they performed a Nutcracker duet.”

    The last time I rode with my BFF and her kids in their minivan, her 13-year-old disabled kid was clamoring for Peter and the Wolf.

    Nice shoes!


    1. I go through periods of checking celebrity biographies/memoirs out of the library and some are terrible. Some are great, like Just Kids by Patti Smith or Boys in the Trees by Carly Simon, but there are some real duds out there. I wonder if this is the case?


  3. I think “How can we get bipartisan agreement again to improve the system for disabled folks?” is a good question and I would like to hear answers from people other than me.

    The last bipartisan disability legislation to pass, that I can remember, is the ABLE act, which was a tax-free savings account that largely benefits those with more resources (as do 529 plans for education and other tax-advantaged accounts).

    What kind of legislation to benefit those with disabilities might induce bipartisan support? Looking at info on the ABLE account suggests there’s a goal of extending the age limit for ABLE accounts to those with disabilities acquired to the age of 46 (rather than 26).


  4. The Honest Toddler book is a very solid read. I gift it to new moms.

    Of course, Bunmi Laditan is an actual writer…


  5. Ballet isn’t really my thing – prefer words with my entertainment!
    But it’s fabulous to have young people who enjoy live theatre/dance/music – and give us the hope that these will go on for another generation.

    One thing that I think has come out strongly after this (seemingly endless) period of lockdown, is that online entertainment is no substitute for in-person experiences.
    I’m hoping that that will translate into ‘bums-on-seats’ for many of the theatre/comedy/dance venues here in Auckland, as we start to see the possibility of live shows again.

    Lots of hype here for the new musical “Come from away” – has anyone seen it?

    Peter and the Wolf is wonderful – I went to a live theatre performance which combined the music with puppetry (sounds a bit kooky – but was actually wonderful)


    1. Come From Away is a wonderful musical. Attended reluctantly a few years ago and came away thrilled we had gone. Pull up the soundtrack on Alexa any time I need to feel better.


    2. Yes, yes to “Come From Away”. We saw it in 2015, when it was still a baby musical and before its Broadway Open. We were traveling the next day and I’d signed up for tickets without really telling the family so there was a resistance to another activity on the day during the holidays when we needed to pack. Kids sat separately from us because I couldn’t get tickets together. Afterwards, 11 year old said it was the best thing he’d ever done and he could watch it over and over again. 14 yo old loved it too and we were so glad we’d gone.

      Come From Away is great stories and pretty music and about community and coming together across every divide you can think of. At the time (9/11), a friend’s 75+ yo grandparents were diverted to Newfoundland, and she described a family coming to the emergency shelter and taking them home so I was primed to the brief shining moment of people helping, from the beginning.


      1. It’s hard to get excited about a musical about 9-11 but it really is very uplifting and good! We saw its original debut in Seattle and then again a couple years later in a touring company. It’s very, very good!


    3. Come from away in Newfoundland slang for “A traveler to Newfoundland — someone who wasn’t born there” and we still remember the board of “Newfinese” Favorites were “I’m gutfoundered, fire up a scoff”, “Like a birch broom in the fits”, and “Crooked as sin” (which we all were, before the musical).


    1. This guy was BdB’s Department of Education Chancellor from April 2, 2018 to March 15, 2021.

      You’ll notice he didn’t quite manage to serve out three full years. Some highlights:

      –San Francisco Unified School District superintendent 2012-2016
      –Houston ISD superintendent 2016-2018
      –NYC Chancellor of DOE 2018-2021

      The last we heard, Carranza had moved over to an ed-tech company:

      “Carranza, who departed his position with NYC schools in mid-March, will become the chief of strategy and global development at IXL Learning, a Silicon Valley-based online personalized learning platform, the company announced in a statement.”

      Carranza reminds me a lot of the “Bungee Boss” from Dilbert:


  6. My older kids report new outbreaks in workplaces, leading to some of their friends working from home again. It’s interesting that in two of the outbreaks, the work colleagues who first got it this time were the first to get it last time. So these are people who have been vaccinated and had Covid, thus supposedly less vulnerable than anyone else.

    It’s anecdote, but it’s more than one friend. So I wonder if there are factors that make some people more vulnerable to infection than others.

    It does match up with the charts on, and covidestim(dot)org.

    At this point, I do not think we can do more lockdowns. Shutting down schools and workplaces to try to contain a cold virus is not a long-term plan. More support for hospitals and nursing facilities is a good plan. We need to increase the numbers of doctors and nurses. Start tuition-forgiveness programs for any student willing to become a health professional. Prop up hospitals that are about to go broke, so that the medical care will be available. Increase the number of internships available for medical students. Covid is now endemic, so there will be time to do this.


    1. An Apple store in Texas closed after an outbreak — suggesting there is spread happening in the workplace. And, 1200 deaths a day. We’re now going to hit 800000 in a week. I know I made lower predictions before, and I know others talked of reaching the level of flu/colds, . . . . We’re most assuredly not there, with more than 1000 deaths a day.

      More doctors and nurses would be good, but increasing spots, increasing interns are all really slow (and it’s all a guild).

      The fastest way of having more health personnel is immigration (and, processing the work authorization for people already here).

      Agree that lock downs are not going to work in the US. But how many deaths will that mean?


      1. I don’t know how many deaths that will mean. Ironically, a milder, more transmissible virus could mean more deaths, because it increases the number of patients drastically. I’m seeing reports in the news that vaccinated as well as unvaccinated are catching it–which fits my kids’ reports of people being reinfected despite both vaccination and previous Covid.

        However, we cannot continue to interrupt schooling, patient care, and commerce. The results have already been devastating. Psychological damage, financial damage, health damage–lots of people put off medical care due to the pandemic. I am not clear as to why Covid patients are more deserving of care than cancer patients or people with other serious conditions.

        Yale New Haven Hospital is expanding into their parking lot (!) to handle the increased patient volume:

        As to looking to immigration to increase the health personnel, I don’t think that other countries, long term, are going to continue to educate medical personnel for the benefit of the US, especially as birth rates are decreasing across the globe. It would be better to offer study spots and scholarship aid to people who want to enter medicine, even if they realize that in their mid-20s rather than in middle school.

        Yes, it’s a guild, but patients need more doctors and nurses than the system creates right now.


      2. “Yes, it’s a guild, but patients need more doctors and nurses than the system creates right now.”

        A not so secret secret is that the guild likes it this way, and knows that there need to be more doctors. But, the system of educating a limited number in the US and then importing doctors as needed through the residency system allows for tighter control of the number of doctors (and also saves on the cost of educating them). Abraham Verghese describes the concept in his essay on “Ellis Island hospitals”, which regularly end doctors to India to interview people for their residencies. Those doctors, through their H1B visas are also required to work at the institution that brings them here (unlike an American educated doctor with residency).

        There is some expansion of medical schools in the US — Washington State University managed to get state seed funding and approval for a new medical school a few years ago (at the vehement and perplexing opposition of University of Washington). So there might be changes coming.


      3. bj said, “And, 1200 deaths a day. We’re now going to hit 800000 in a week. I know I made lower predictions before, and I know others talked of reaching the level of flu/colds, . . . . We’re most assuredly not there, with more than 1000 deaths a day.”

        What’s really infuriating is that there are a bunch of effective COVID therapeutics in the pipeline right now, Molnupiravir, sadly, seems to have fizzled, but Pfizer’s anti-viral is holding up–89% reduction in hospitalizations and deaths.

        Fluvoxamine is super cheap and may cut severe illness by 65% and deaths by 90%. It’s already approved as an anti-depressant, so it can be used off-label right away.

        It’s going to be tricky to figure out how to effectively deploy the new COVID therapeutics (they mostly have a narrow window for effective use), but the US shouldn’t have 1200 deaths a day going forward.

        There are getting to be so many therapeutics that I have trouble keeping up with all of them.

        “One dose of Evusheld, administered as two separate consecutive intramuscular injections (one injection per monoclonal antibody, given in immediate succession), may be effective for pre-exposure prevention for six months.”


    2. Cranberry said, “More support for hospitals and nursing facilities is a good plan. We need to increase the numbers of doctors and nurses. Start tuition-forgiveness programs for any student willing to become a health professional. Prop up hospitals that are about to go broke, so that the medical care will be available. Increase the number of internships available for medical students. Covid is now endemic, so there will be time to do this.”


      Some of this stuff has been done for hospitals, but there have been very few structural changes made to nursing homes, which have been ground zero in terms of fatalities.


  7. So far, the news out of South Africa about Omicron is really, really good despite high case numbers.

    That said, the median age of South Africans is about 28, whereas the median American is 38. Also, even if Omicron has moderate effects in the general US population, it could be devastating in US nursing homes unless the US gets its ducks in a row with regard to providing better protection for nursing home residents.

    But, aside from the issue of nursing homes, Omicron could be a really good thing. It may be the moderate COVID mutation that we’ve been waiting for.


  8. Here’s a thread from Shabir Madhi, a South African professor of vaccinology on Omicron:

    The whole thread is worth reading, but here are a couple of snippets.

    “1. Rate of increase per capita [in Gauteng] much quicker than any of previous three waves. Strongly suggestive of more transmissible than even delta. 2. Positivity rate 30-40% in some settings.”

    “3. Three weeks into resurgence, many adults and children testing SARS-CoV-2 pos in hospital , but COVID hospitalisation remains low relative to community case rate. High % (30%) women in labour coincidentally testing positive. Also,most children testing pos are coincidental Ix.”

    “4. Death rate very low compared to period of same case rate in previous waves. Trend over next week will be informative, but optimistic unlikely to surge. 5. Study in SA and elsewhere confirm omicron 5 fold more antibody evasive than beta., hence many breakthrough and re-Ix.”

    “6. Attenuation of clinical course of illness. Likely explanation is the 73% of population in Gauteng with previous infection and/or vaccine induced underpinning T cell immunity, since omicron largely antibody evasive. Hospitalisation for severe Covid mainly in unvacccinated.”

    “9. IF downturn in infection rate and no massive surge in hospitalisation and death in the next 2-3 weeks, may well mark turning point in pandemic, particularly since SA not boosting to prevent infection and mild illness like HIC are doing (at cost exacerbating vaccine inequity).”

    About 31% of South Africans have gotten 1st doses, 26% fully vaccinated, plus 73% prior infections in Gauteng. This may be enough. But, again, South Africa is a younger population than the US (median 28 years old versus median 38 years old).

    Madhi says that the South African government’s response is “measured” and they are “not increasing restrictions and “not panicking.”


  9. AmyP’s relentless optimism is enlightening of different attitudes (I am definitely a pessimist, but potentially because I am insulated, and so my pessimism doesn’t require action?). There’s also a strain of dissonance, in the face of nearly 800,000 deaths, 38% increase in deaths, 1/100 older Americans dead, and case rates going up in the largest states. But, yes, we have vaccines, boosters, treatments (personally not putting too much weight on a less deadly virus — an oversimplified CFR is still 1% — 1300 deaths with 120000 cases). But we probably have reached the stage where we are talking about long term mitigation and not short term, and we have to seriously think “if now, when do we stop” and if not now then when?

    Am wondering this about returns to the office. Does the current pushbacks at the major tech companies mean an definite turn to remote work? Friend was complaining that Amazon has pushed its start date to March 2023 now (she wants spouse to go back to his beautiful office).


    1. bj wrote, “we have to seriously think “if now, when do we stop” and if not now then when?”

      Right. As people have been noting on twitter, the 5-11 vaccine is a very natural off-ramp…if we choose to take it.

      Regarding my “relentless optimism”–there are a lot of things that we should have done that we haven’t done yet. State-funded quarantine exists in NYC, but I don’t know of any other area of the US that provides it. (This is important so that if you have a large multigenerational household living in a small space and one person tests positive, the positive person can go stay elsewhere, rather than getting everybody sick.) Likewise, sick leave and good access to home rapid testing. Heck, how about N95s for high risk people? And how about a harder look at nursing home safety?

      You won’t normally hear me being such a big lib, but as one of my twitter folk says, resources before restrictions. Unfortunately, there’s a lot more interest in punishing people…It kind of kills me how much federal money has been spent on COVID without addressing these issues.

      The US is getting to be in a pretty good place in terms of vaccination. We’re behind the EU for full vaccination, but the US currently has identical levels of 1st doses as the EU–72%.

      I think we currently have all of the pieces for making COVID much less of a killer in the US–what I’m doubtful of is whether we know how to put them together.


      1. There is reason for optimism, because US immunity is continually getting better. There’s a hard way and an easy way to get immunity–but the hard way still counts.


  10. Paxlovid (the new Pfizer anti-viral pill) is holding up in high-risk populations. (Merck’s recently fizzled from 50% to 30% effective.)

    “Paxlovid, Pfizer’s pill to treat Covid-19, retained its 89% efficacy at preventing hospitalization and death in the full results of a study of 2,246 high-risk patients, the company said Tuesday.”

    “In the study of high-risk patients, called EPIC-HR, 5 of 697 patients who received a five-day course of Paxlovid were hospitalized or died, compared to 44 of 682 who received a placebo. There were no deaths in the Paxlovid group and 9 in the placebo group. ”

    “Patients in the study were considered high risk because they were not vaccinated and had at least one characteristic or underlying medical condition that increased their risk of Covid-19. These could include being over 65, being overweight, or having cardiovascular disease.”

    “Celine Gounder, a clinical assistant professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital, said that she was encouraged the efficacy was similar whether the treatment was given within three days of symptom onset or five.”

    On the one hand, this is very exciting, on the other hand, a lot of the high-risk people are probably not in the system and aren’t getting routine care–so it may be difficult to get to them, get them to consent, and start the protocol on time.

    Also, this isn’t approved yet, while 1200 people a day in the US are dying of COVID…

    In happier news, the FDA has given emergency use authorization for AstraZeneca’s Evusheld (long-acting monoclonal antibodies) for pre-exposure prophylaxis.

    This is all very good, but it’s going to be hard to figure out the optimal way to use all of these things.


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