Open Thread for Friday, Cinco de Mayo, 2023

My experience over the years has taught me that nobody reads blogs on Fridays, especially not late on Fridays. So that makes this the perfect time to try to slip a few things by you:

  1. What to expect at the coronation of King Charles III — and how to watch it. — Um, let me guess — we should expect a guy to put on a fancy hat, right? Oh, and I saw a picture of the Stone of Destiny this morning, and there was no sword stuck in it! Who overlooked that? I don’t mean to commit lèse-majesté or anything, but these kinds of “guides for the breathless” headlines irritate me. The only ones I hate more are the ones that go, “What you need to know about…” This is a close relative. I reassure myself that the reporters who have to write these hate them as much as I do…
  2. Too many tattoos in Five Points? — Yes, absolutely! In fact, I see too many tattoos pretty much everywhere I go. It’s like every street in America has become the red light district near Subic Bay, circa 1971. But that’s not exactly what you were asking, was it?
  3. The Next Fear on A.I.: Hollywood’s Killer Robots Become the Military’s Tools — Hey, A.I. offers enough things to worry about, and I’ve been meaning to right a post about it. But this consideration alone is bad enough. Like, nightmarish.
  4. WHO declares covid-19 is no longer a global health emergency — Hey, great! So what does that mean? By the way, you know what my eldest daughter had last week, for the second time? Yeah, COVID! Meanwhile, this is also being reported today: “Disease experts warn White House of potential for omicron-like wave of illness.” Oh, and before y’all make me out to be some obsessed COVID alarmist — that’s not what’s happening here. I don’t go around wearing masks anymore, except maybe on airliners (and I often forget there, too). I’m just saying this is not 2019 again, or anything stupid like that. Hey, but if we do get to do a year over, how about 1971? I really enjoyed that one..
  5. Man who died in Spartanburg jail was ignored for hours, records show — Folks, if we’re going to keep locking people up — and that’s a very popular thing to do here in South Carolina — we’re going to have to spend some money to make these places safe for humans! This is obscene…
  6. Yevgeny Prigozhin: Wagner Group boss says he will pull fighters out of Bakhmut — This is the oligarch who runs the big mercenary operation that’s been fighting for Putin, and getting a lot of its guys killed, in Ukraine. It’s not that he’s against killing innocent Ukrainians, it’s just that he doesn’t want his guys doing it without ammunition, so he’s ticked at the Russian supply people. (There’s something kind of oxymoronic about the phrase, “Russian supply people,” isn’t there? I mean, what’s the last government in the world you would rely on to keep you supplied when your life depended on it?) Finally, check out his picture: If you were trying to find a guy to play a Russian oligarch who runs a mercenary operation, this is pretty much the face you would cast, right? This is like Dr. Evil’s way scarier twin brother…


25 thoughts on “Open Thread for Friday, Cinco de Mayo, 2023

  1. Ken

    #4 The number to keep in mind: 1,162,420 — the total of Covid deaths in the US to date. One of the worst records in the world. And, narrowing down the focus a bit: SC is in the top third of states in terms of deaths per 100,000. So, there’s nothing here to celebrate.

    1. Doug Ross

      And now Fauci is trying to do his own revisionist history accepting no responsibility for mistakes he made. He even has the pure gall to say now that schools shouldn’t have been closed, revealing three years later that his daughter was a teacher who went back to in person schooling after a couple weeks of closure and that her school didn’t have any real issues… The school shutdowns will eventually be the worst outcome of COVID. It changed the direction of tens of millions of kids.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        No, I think maybe those 1,162,420-plus people dying was the worst part. I’m not saying kids having trouble catching up in school isn’t a bad thing. There were lots of bad things (and some good ones, like not going to an office every day). But you said “worst”…

        1. Doug Ross

          Most of the dead were elderly, sick already and a high percentage were in nursing homes where average life expectancy upon entering is measured in months. Old sick people die every day. The school shutdowns will have generational impact…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Doug, I fully understood your point about how children falling behind affects the future — which is why I agreed it was a bad thing. But not quite irreversible. Not as final as death.

            So do you understand how creepy it gets when you say, in effect, Those old fossils were gonna die soon, anyway. And by my reckoning somewhere between 300,000 and 400,000 were younger than I am. Not to get personal or anything.

            And according to this chart, 67,135 of them were under 50. Can we agree to feel bad about THEM?…

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Saying the lives of old people aren’t quite as valuable as the education of the young can also take you to strange places if you think about it.

              A couple of weeks ago I accompanied my wife to Memphis for her 50th high school reunion. Since most of the events were just for the graduates, I had a lot of time to drive around town visiting old haunts. I was repeatedly struck by how much things can change in 50 years (or more like 48, I guess, in terms of when I was on that scene) — and further struck by how it really doesn’t seem to me like a long time in retrospect.

              So, if those kids are going to be in nursing homes THAT fast, why are we so worried about them reading at grade level?

            2. Doug Ross

              We can feel bad about any death. Cancer, auto accidents, suicides.. and we can also look critically at the decisions made by politicians and bureaucrats that inflicted damage on children. It’s not just falling behind academically.. the social effects are just as bad. I see kids waiting for school buses OUTSIDE by themselves still wearing masks. These kids are damaged emotionally.

              Let’s also not forget that there is a great deal of uncertainty in the COVID death counts concerning those who died OF COVID and those who died WITH COVID. There are estimates as high as 40% of the deaths not being specifically a result of COVID.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Oh, I think they’re inexact, but I suspect it was the other way — especially in the first year, when so many cases were going undiagnosed.

                Especially the nursing-home deaths to which you refer, with people dying without the presence of the people who cared about them.

                I still can’t tell you why my father died in November 1991, without resorting to the lazy cliche of “old age.” That might satisfy some people, but it doesn’t satisfy me. If “old age” is a satisfactory answer, we should have seen the end approaching in his 80s, but we didn’t. He was still unimpaired, even athletic, out there playing golf all the time. (With my father-in-law, it was easier to swallow that explanation, since he declined steadily and dramatically over about 15 years or more — starting when he was younger than I am, a point at which my Dad was shooting his age in golf.)

                Was the decline of age a significant factor in exacerbating his condition? Of course, especially in terms of reducing his ability to fight off the various problems that beset him in those last couple of years. He had had a triple heart bypass when he was 65, and recovered from it almost completely. It would have been a lot harder to do that when he was 92…

                But to have a clear idea whether he died of this, or died of that, so clearly that you can either put him on or leave him off of a list that the whole world debates about? I can’t really do that….

                Which means I would never be able to tell you confidently how many MORE or how many FEWER people than are on that list died of COVID. But I can say with confidence that number is not perfectly correct. Which is one reason numbers alone aren’t as persuasive to me as they are to a lot of folks…

                1. bud

                  Yep, the undercounting of COVID deaths is likely much greater that the overcounting. This has been evaluated by looking at the overall number of natural deaths in 2020/2021 compared to pre-Covid years. COVID alone does not account for a great increase in mortality. Life expectancy declined sharply in 2020 and moderately in 2021. This cannot be explained by this utterly nonsensical canard that huge numbers of people died with Covid from some other cause. I actually heard a libertarian on the radio recently who stated that bear mauling deaths were counted as Covid deaths. Let’s be honest here for a moment. Covid is real and deadly. Thankfully it has eased considerably but it’s still with us. I know of at least 2 relatively young men who died of Covid. There are probably many things we could have done better. But I maintain shutting down schools was necessary. Kids, unlike libertarians, are resilient and will catch up on their education skills. Perhaps they even learned some life lessons along the way. All generations face challenges. Heck we had nuclear bomb drills. European and Japanese kids suffered through massive bombing attacks as do todays Ukrainians. Doug does not give kids enough credit for kids ability to bounce back.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    I’m with you, Bud — kids are resilient, as John Candy said in that movie.:)

                    Of course, I don’t want to be dismissive of the problems of kids who are not. Not all kids are the same. So while I think the fatalities are WORSE, I do worry about kids who’ve struggled to recover academically…

                    I also know that I’m often dismissive of the problems suffered by people of all ages who had a REALLY hard time getting through the shutdown. For me, it was a vacation. I can do everything I do these days in the way of work from home, and the great thing about COVID is that it fully established that to my satisfaction, and convinced other folks they didn’t need to see me downtown in a coat and tie every day to work with ME. Which is nice, because it made that semi-“vacation” permanent.

                    But I really feel for people whose jobs went away for good for a time, or others who COULD work from home, but had to do it in small apartments with bored kids who were out of school, confined, stressed and trying to learn via Zoom or whatever.

                    Great for me, lousy for them. And I know that. And I’m sure there’s just as much variation in the way different kids reacted to their situation…

      2. Barry

        May 2020

        “But, even without a vaccine, leaders can reopen schools once they are confident their states and communities have the capability to test the population frequently, to trace the spread of the illness, and to quickly quarantine people who may have been exposed, Fauci said.

        Some on news outlets left out the second part of Fauci’s comments, seeming to suggest he was saying schools shouldn’t open at all until there is a vaccine. At the end of the meeting, Senator Lamar Alexander circled back to the comments and asked him to clarify.

        “Absolutely not,” Fauci said, when asked if a lack of a vaccine meant students couldn’t return to school.

      3. Ken

        “The Covid pandemic coincided with substantial declines in US educational performance, but our results do not indicate that those learning loses were systematically associated with state-level primary school closures. …California, a state with long school closures during the pandemic , had test score declines similar to or smaller than those in Florida and Maine, states with low rates of school closures.”
        — from: “Assessing COVID-19 pandemic policies and behaviours and their economic and educational trade-offs across US states from Jan. 1, 2020, to July 31, 2022.” The Lancet, Vol. 401, April 22, 2023

        The same report does, however, find correlations between political partisanship and health outcomes during the pandemic: Democratic-voting states generally fared better than Republican-voting ones.

          1. Ken

            It really shouldn’t need saying, but I’ll say it anway:

            Neither I nor the study I cited injected politics into this issue. We merely noted the negative effect that right-wing libertarian politics had in hampering the nation’s response to a heathcare emergency, resulting in more deaths than should’ve occurred.

      4. bud

        Doug I’m glad to see that you’ve come around to the view that home schooling is a really bad idea.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Bud, Doug responds by making the point that what was experienced during COVID doesn’t really match what is usually meant by “home schooling.” And that’s certainly a legitimate point.

          I’m paraphrasing for him because his version was about personally insulting you… I suspect you were being facetious, but you did it gently, so I allowed it. Now, I’m stepping in because it’s escalating.

          Which I’m really sick of doing, and I’m not going to do it much longer. I might just cut off comments altogether, or just accept them from people who never, ever do this sort of thing. But that’s complicated. I might just turn off comments for while, until I get my future procedures figured out…

          1. Doug Ross

            Or you could just stop allowing anonymous commenters and let those of use who aren’t afraid to put our names on our opinions be accountable.

            I treat anonymous commenters with the respect they deserve. None.

            You’d lose almost all your Trump hating supporters if you forced them to put their actual names on their comments. Imagine being so afraid to say publicly what you think of Trump? I’m not afraid of saying he’s a buffoon who shouldn’t ever run again… And also say that Joe Biden is a mentally diminished puppet who can’t speak coherently and is just a more polished liar than Trump is.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              But you know what I’d like to see you do once? Say something positive. If you don’t like this guy, and you despise that guy, who do you think should be president, and what can you say to sell him or her to the rest of us?

              Because, you know, somebody’s going to be president. So who should it be?

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