108-year-old Spanish flu survivor succumbs to COVID-19

Hilda Churchill, 108, Dies; Survived Wars and the 1918 Pandemic

Hilda Churchill survived the Great War, the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic that claimed her baby sister, and World War II, but eight days before her 109th birthday she became Britain’s oldest recorded victim of the coronavirus.

One hundred-eight is a long life, by any estimation. When a person that advanced in years passes, the tragedy is for the rest of us—who lose the wisdom and life experiences that can only be gained by living long. 

I’ve always enjoyed talking to the old-timers, who have perspectives that the rest of us simply lack. (I talk to every remaining World War II veteran I can.)

There is of course a sad irony here, which I need not belabor.

Hilda Churchill, 108, R.I.P.

Sex workers and the pandemic

Sex work is changing in the pandemic. Here’s how it affects workers.

‘As far as in-person labor is concerned, our work has been totally decimated’

Instead they’re going online–which is actually an old model in the industry.

I’m an economist by training, so I think in terms of supply-and-demand. My guess is that with all the free pornography on the Internet, the supply side of this is going to be oversaturated fairly quickly.

There may be some increase in demand. But demand likely won’t keep up with supply. The porn industry—very lucrative in the 1980s and 1990s—has already been made considerably less profitable thanks to online economics.

I have my predictions about this. (And please note: I’m thinking like an economist here, not like a moralist. Whether or not “sex work” should be legal, and under what conditions, is an entirely different discussion.)

I would expect this line of work to be in a permanent slump until the coronavirus is safely in the past.

That may seem impossible now. But we should remember that the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic didn’t last forever, didn’t destroy sex, and didn’t destroy the world’s oldest profession. There is no particular reason to believe that this pandemic will, either.

This, too, shall pass—even for sex workers.

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Walmart and worker safety

Walmart to take employees’ temperatures, add one-way aisles as part of latest coronavirus-prevention protocols

I can’t say that I ever really expected to have a special appreciation of grocery store workers, but I do in recent weeks. Grocery store workers are second only to healthcare workers right now, on the list of people I appreciate. 

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To cut down on nonessential shopping, Walmart may also stop selling sporting goods and toys in-person for a while

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If you don’t want to walk through the aisles of your local Walmart, remember that you can also shop online at Walmart.com:

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Hey, Zoomer, there’s a pandemic going on…

28 Texas Spring Breakers Return from Mexico with COVID-19

Say what you will about Baby Boomers; but (some) college kids will be remembered among the most irresponsible actors when the history of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic is written.

(Just so you know: I was born in 1968, so I’m neither a Millennial, a Boomer, or a Zoomer. I’m a cynical, detached Gen Xer.)

Samuel L. Jackson, meanwhile, who isn’t always to my taste, has a blunt but on-point message regarding the best way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus: “Stay the F*** Home.”

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Ruth Bader Ginsberg and the gym

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, age 87, continues to work out in the Supreme Court’s gym twice per week, under the in-person supervision of her private trainer, Bryant Johnson.

Ginsberg is a hallowed figure among any source with a left-of-center political orientation;  but even The Cut (associated with the very liberal Vox Media) took discernible umbrage at this:

While we appreciate RBG’s commitment to staying ripped and hitting her PRs, perhaps she could modify her workout to be completed at home, or train with Johnson over FaceTime. Just until the global pandemic subsides.

This is, of course, yet further evidence that where politicians and public officials are concerned, there are two sets of rules: One set for them, and another set for the unwashed masses. (That’s us!) 

Nevertheless, I must admit that I sympathize with Justice Ginsberg in her desire to keep working out. Among the many inconveniences of the quarantine, ceasing my 4x weekly trips to the gym has been the most difficult to endure.

Might I recommend to Justice Ginsberg these home workouts, which will keep her in shape without putting her health (and others’ health) at risk in the process?

Quarantine home workouts

Remembering my Franklin Planner

In the mid-1990s, there was none of the electronic gadgetry that we now have. But if you were a professional type, there was still a need to manage your appointments, to-do lists, and other aspects of your daily business life.

This was the heyday of the Franklin Planner, which had already merged with Stephen Covey’s organization, and was therefore the FranklinCovey planner. 

Some things are better on paper than on screen.

I carried mine everywhere, and I found myself genuinely more organized when I used it.

An obvious question arises: “Okay, but that was in 1995. The Stone Age! Why use a FranklinCovey planner in 2020, when you can manage everything from an iDevice?”

I’m going to be a bit of an iconoclast for a moment. (I do that all the time here, btw.) I love my iDevices. (I’m typing this post on my iMac, after all.) But I’ve often found the small screens of iPhones and iPads to be less than ideal for note-taking.

The large, spread-out paper layout of the FranklinCovey planner (shown above) provides a level of flexibility and convenience that you can’t exactly replicate on your iPhone. 

If you’re frustrated with the limitations of screens and gadgets, the FranklinCovey planner might be worth looking at. 

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‘The Babylon Bee’ on public school closures

Teachers Urge Government To Reopen Schools Before Students Learn To Think For Themselves

Sure enough, studies have already shown a strong correlation between everyone being homeschooled and a concerning spike in independent thought. Students who have been away from the government school system for even a week stop feeling depressed and anxious all the time and even show a shocking increase in the ability to form thoughts and ideas not approved by the government.

Tongue-in-cheek, to be sure. But as I wrote last week, this long closure of public schools will give new impetus to the homeschooling movement.

COVID-19: 2020 election delay?

Top Democrats say party’s convention may be canceled over coronavirus threat

Will our general election still take place on Election Day (November 3, 2020) as scheduled? Or will the society-altering quake of COVID-19 alter that, too?

This is a question that one of you posed to me by email the other day.

Simply put: It is still too early to tell. But one thing is for certain: If the 2020 US presidential election were scheduled for April 3 instead of November 3, there would be little choice but to pick a later date.

I see two scenarios here:

Scenario #1:

If the coronavirus problems are more or less sorted out by June 1, then a “normal” (as “normal” as anything can be in 2020) election season will still be possible.

I’ve been closely watching presidential elections since the 1980s. Few voters really pay much attention until the mid-summer conventions take place. 

President Trump is unchallenged in his party. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders has become a sad, self-indulgent joke of a candidate.

Go home, Bernie. Go home. 

There may be moves to draft Andrew Cuomo. And Cuomo, as I recently argued, may be a substantially better candidate than Biden.

But Cuomo has his hands full at present, and will continue to have his hands full into the foreseeable future. He doesn’t have the time or the bandwidth to pull together a 2020 run for the White House. I look for Cuomo to run in 2024 or 2028, but not this year. 

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Scenario #2:

If the pandemic drags on—much past June 1—then there may be a delay in the general election. And yet another hitch is possible in the fall, when flu (and coronavirus) season starts again. 

As Internet-based as our society has become, the process of campaigning still relies on events where multiple people are present. I don’t see how a political contest can happen under conditions like this, unless it consists solely of dueling YouTube videos.

If the election is delayed (and it would likely only be delayed by a month or two), then the Democrats will cry foul. Leftwing conspiracy websites like Daily Kos and Salon will be filled with long-winded screeds about the Republicans trying to steal the election and appoint Trump president for life.

But then, any campaign season under the present conditions will greatly favor the incumbent. So…leftwing conspiracy websites like Daily Kos and Salon will be filled with long-winded screeds about the Republicans trying to steal the election and appoint Trump president for life.

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I should note that I don’t think scenario #2 is likely, given what we’ve been told about the mitigation of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the scientific advances on treatments. 

But scenario #2 isn’t so unlikely that it’s beyond consideration, either. 

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Droplets, and how far they can travel

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As if we didn’t have enough to be worried about, an MIT researcher has suggested that social distancing guidelines (currently based on an interpersonal space of 6 feet) be widened to 27 feet. But Dr. Anthony Fauci has his doubts:

Fauci noted during a Tuesday White House news briefing it would take a “very, very robust, vigorous, achoo sneeze” for droplets to even come close to traveling such a distance, the Post said.

The esteemed doctor even feigned a forceful sneeze on stage as an example of what it would take to propel the droplets that far.

“So if you go way back and go, achoo,” said Fauci as he leaned back then thrust forward, “and go like that, you might get 27 feet.”

He added: “That’s not practical. That is not practical,” the Post report said.

We are going to be hearing a lot of worst-case scenarios in the coming weeks. Such scenarios aren’t necessarily wrong-headed, but (as Dr. Fauci notes) we need to balance practicality with caution. 

A public distance of 27 feet between people would bring life to even more of a grinding halt than we already have. That might work in the semirural setting where I live. I’m not sure how feasible it would be in New York—or even Cleveland.

I think I’m going to trust Dr. Fauci on this one. 

The sad politics of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine

The FDA recently approved the use chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19.

Do these drugs comprise the “magic bullet” we’ve been waiting for? Beats the heck out of me. But the scientific and medical authorities at the FDA obviously have concluded that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are beneficial in the treatment of COVID-19.

Nevertheless, some factions on the left are more worked up about the fact that President Trump has expressed interest in these drugs, than they are concerned with the underlying science. As a result, they’ve launched an all-out campaign to discredit chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine.

The attack seems to come on three fronts:

1.) State-level bans: The (Democratic) governors of both Nevada and Michigan have banned the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19.

(Oh, this just in: Apparently Andrew Cuomo—whom I’d previously believed to be rational, as Democratic politicians go—has joined the  banners as well.)

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2.) Nitpick the data to death. Chloroquine has been used to treat to malaria for more than 70 years. It has side effects, as do 99% of the drugs that a doctor will ever prescribe to you.

But this is a national emergency, and both drugs have sufficiently proved themselves in clinical trials to warrant FDA approval.

Dr. Oz agrees:

Dr. Oz calls on Cuomo to lift restrictions on potential coronavirus treatments

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3.) Shoot the messengers: The mere fact that President Trump expressed optimism about chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine will trigger Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) in a certain sector of the media.

Salon—no one’s idea of a scientific or medical journal—has published numerous hit pieces on these drugs. Their arguments have mainly focused on President Trump, and an admittedly eccentric French doctor whom they don’t like, who originally advocated the drugs’ use to treat coronavirus.

And if President Trump and a lone eccentric doctor in France were the only advocates of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, I would tend to agree. But the FDA has now approved these drugs to treat coronavirus. Dr. Oz is a proponent of their use, and many ER physicians are now taking them prophylactically.

Science trumps politics. Or at least it should.

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I understand that for a certain type of leftwing ideologue, nothing is more important than opposing President Trump, because #Resistance!, and hey, he’s not your f##g president!

I get all that. And in normal times, I’m perfectly happy to let such individuals, be they journalists or otherwise,  maintain such hobbyhorses.  It’s a free country, as they say.

But there are not normal times, and this is not the time to play politics. Let’s put COVID-19 behind us, and then we can go back to calling every other thing racist, sexist, or xenophobic, or whatever.

But let’s beat this disease first. Please.

Florida pastor endangers public, is arrested

Police arrest Florida pastor for holding church services despite stay-at-home order

Well, good.

I have never seen it as my business to comment on how others choose to relate to the Almighty. For me, the proof is in the pudding.  I’ve known good people of all religious persuasions; and my extended family includes Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Southern Baptists, and non-denominational Christians.

Still others, of course, are complete nonbelievers. That’s fine with me, too (so long as they don’t turn their atheism into an evangelical pseudo-religion and annoy others with it).

Live and let live is my operative motto.

That said, no one has the right to endanger one’s neighbors, simply because one believes oneself to be endowed with a hotline to heaven. Rodney Howard-Browne, an evangelical megachurch pastor in Florida, insisted on keeping his church open (and the donation baskets overflowing) in the midst of a national pandemic that requires social distancing.

Such reckless disregard for public health cannot be allowed to go on. The Florida sheriff who arrested Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne acted appropriately.

Now—if only law enforcement in Ohio would do the same  with a certain evangelical megachurch in my back yard.

Partisanship and pandemics

Given the national state of emergency, this is not a good time to be playing partisan politics. But that’s what Nancy Pelosi is doing.

Nancy Pelosi has adopted a new narrative: that the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States is President Trump’s fault.

“Trump fiddled while Americans died,” she said.

Pelosi also lambasted Trump for cutting off travel from China— the global source of the pandemic—back in January. You can’t have these things both ways.

Trump could have acted sooner. So could Bill DeBlasio, who was encouraging New Yorkers to party down in public places just last month.

So could the rest of us, who were going about our lives as usual but a few short weeks ago.

No one, from Bernie Sanders to the staunchest Republican, expected anything like this to occur in the third decade of the twenty-first century.

As the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes reminds us, there is a time for everything. There is a time to score partisan points. That’s politics as usual. But neither history nor the voters are likely to look favorably on politicians who insist on grandstanding and waxing partisan while Americans are dying, and sharing ventilators in overcrowded hospitals.

Thoughts on mortality from 1995

In 1995 I was 27 years old, and making regular trips to Aguascalientes, Mexico for my job.

I really enjoyed Mexico. And Aguascalientes was a wonderful place in those heady post-NAFTA days.

While I was in Mexico, I often heard the music of an American—Tejano— singer, Selena Quintanilla Perez (mostly known by her first name, Selena).

Selena’s songs were on FM radio in the United States a lot, too. Pop with a Latin flair. Not bad. But there was another reason why I remembered Selena.

At that time, I was constantly, obsessively studying Spanish. I had studied the language for two years in high school and one year in college. I spent hours going over my homemade Spanish vocabulary flashcards, and my dog-eared Spanish grammar book.

I like languages, and mastering Spanish became a point of pride for me.

I recall hearing that Selena was sometimes criticized because her Spanish…wasn’t that fluent, even though she was Mexican American. Some of her lyrics were in Spanish, but she apparently struggled to speak the language when interviewed by the Spanish-language press.

I also recall wondering, sometimes, if my Spanish was better than Selena’s yet.  (I’m competitive that way; silly, I know.)

Then on March 30, 1995 (I was coming back from Mexico that day, as chance would have it), I heard an announcement on the news. Selena, age 23, had been murdered by an older woman who was the manager of her fan club.

I never knew Selena, obviously; and it has never been my habit to closely identify with celebrities. Selena’s death, tragic though it was, did not profoundly sadden me. But I did remember the event, and it did make me reflect on my own mortality. At 52 I am acutely aware that life doesn’t go on forever; but at 27—not so much.

It isn’t only the old who die. Sometimes it is the young and up-and-coming, those who seem to have their entire lives ahead of them. Until something unexpected happens.

And all of us in between, of course. Life is short, and we need to make the most of every day.

Selena, dead at the age of 23 on this day in 1995. Que descanse en paz.

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Chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, and side effects

As noted in my last post, the FDA has approved chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19.

There is, at present, also a campaign against these treatments, citing potential side effects, and also the argument that more studies could be done.

Some attacks on the drug, though, are overtly political. Slate, a very ideologically skewed  and generally untrustworthy source, relies on a pure ad hominem attack, denouncing one of the researchers behind the hydroxychloroquine treatment as “Trumpian”. (Slate.com is a bad joke of online journalism…but maybe you already knew that.)

Hopefully these arguments will subside now that the FDA has approved the drugs for coronavirus treatment. Chloroquine, after all, is an old drug that has been used to treat malaria since the 1940s.

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A word about side effects: Practically everything that a doctor ever gives you has side effects.

My cousin, who is in her 70s, has to endure thrice weekly dialysis treatments. Her kidneys were healthy—until she had heart problems a few years ago. Then her doctors prescribed furosemide (Lasix). This drug eliminates the fluid retention common with congestive heart failure, but it can damage the kidneys.  It damaged her kidneys so badly that they went into an immediate decline.

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A few years ago I had a problem with a skin fungus that I’d picked up in the locker room. (I know, too much information.) My doctor prescribed an antibiotic.

I researched the antibiotic and read about the potential liver damage issues. I chose not to fill the prescription, and my immune system eventually took care of the skin fungus on its own.

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One could literally fill an entire website with data about the harmful side effects of medicines that physicians prescribe every day. (In fact, there is such a website: RxList.com.)

Think about all of the drug commercials you see on television—drugs for everything from irregular heartbeat to depression. The last twenty seconds of every such commercial consists of a long list of the potential side effects of the drug being advertised (while upbeat music plays in the background, of course).

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The simple fact of the matter is that our medicine is often not as precise as we would like it to be. This is why research continues. In the meantime, though, the task of doctors (and informed patients) is to balance the risks and benefits.

Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine almost certainly do have potential side effects. No one should take these drugs without doctor supervision. No one should take them unless they absolutely have to.

But at the same time, what is happening now does kind of qualify as an emergency, wouldn’t you agree? If we can accept a balancing of risks and benefits when prescribing and taking drugs for depression—which include suicide—maybe we need to also accept that these two COVID-19 drugs are mixed bags.

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This isn’t a decision for laypersons like me, of course. This is a decision for medical professionals, and agencies like the FDA.

The problem here is that one can detect the pernicious influence of politics in all of this.

President Trump, perhaps a bit rashly, touted the promise of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as “cures” for COVID-19. Some people began referring to the drugs as the “Trump cure” (which was a bad idea, given our current political environment).

The result is that your opinion of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine may now be shaped by your politics. This unfortunately seems to extend to some doctors—especially those doctors who like to make themselves available to the media.

It is extremely rare—unheard of, really— to find a physician who is a real dummy. All of them are smart. But physicians are as susceptible to the venal influences of greed, ego, and politics as anyone else. Doctors are people, too, after all.

I’m not political about COVID-19. I just want it to go away. If you want to call the winning treatment the “Bernie Sanders treatment”, that’s fine with me. Stamp a photo collage of Bernie Sanders, Chuck Schumer, and Barack Obama on every package, if that makes you happy.

But please, until we do have this pandemic behind us, let’s leave the politics out of the medical discussions. And this goes for medical professionals as much as anyone else.

Breaking: FDA approves the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19

This happened yesterday afternoon.

With the usual disclaimer of “I am not a medical professional”, these drugs seem to show real promise in the treatment of COVID-19.

I’m not usually one for celebrity testimonials, either. But actor Daniel Dae Kim credits these drugs for his fast recovery from coronavirus just a few weeks ago.

Harry, Meghan, and their security needs

Trump says US will not pay for Prince Harry and Meghan’s security. They say they don’t need the help

Remember those halcyon days, just a few short weeks ago, when the very First World problems of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, were headline-worthy concerns?

Harry and Meghan weren’t happy or fulfilled as members of the British Royal family. Then they moved to Canada. Now they’re moving to the United States, apparently. President Trump has stated that with all we’ve got going on right now, we aren’t going to dedicate resources to the security details of two wayward ex-royals.

I had always admired Prince Harry for his service in Afghanistan. Since he married the weepy, self-indulgent Meghan Markle, though, he’s turned into something of a flake….just like his wife.

I still wish him well. But President Trump is right: If he and his wife come here, they come on their own dime—especially in times like these.

TV dramas/comedies and coronavirus

I watch a fair amount of television every week: Chicago PD, Blue Bloods, Deputy, and others. (Yes, I have a thing for cop shows.)

The episodes that I have seen so far have not yet accounted for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Not doubt the creative folks at all the major television studios are pondering that matter right now. How to incorporate the much-changed world of coronavirus into scripts and storylines?

And then there’s the fact that real-life actors will be concerned about social distancing.

Many showrunners, I’m sure, will have a strong desire to completely ignore COVID-19. After all, television shows take place in a parallel world, anyway.

But that will be difficult to do, given the health concerns. A TV kiss is now fraught with risks, isn’t it?

But—on the other hand, social distancing is going to make the mechanics of most TV plots much more difficult to pull of, in myriad ways. Dramatic dialogue and group dynamics aren’t quite the same when all communications take place via conference call or Skype.

Your favorite TV shows: yet one more thing that has become infinitely more complicated, and probably not as much fun, thanks to the pandemic.

Social distancing extended to April 30

Trump says coronavirus ‘peak in death rate’ likely in 2 weeks, extends social-distancing guidelines through April 30

So no packed churches on Easter Sunday (April 12), after all.

Like all of you, I’m eager to get back to life as normal. I’m also concerned about the impact of closing down so much of our economy for so long.

At the same, time, though, I recognized the need for extraordinary measures in this extraordinary situation.

I intend to follow the guidelines as laid out by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and the governor of my state. Wherever you are, I encourage you to do the same.

We don’t have to be happy about this…but we have to work together. Anyone who follows this blog will know that I have a contrarian streak; but this is different. Lives are at stake.

Really fake news

Even as the President’s handling of the coronavirus crisis meets with widespread public approval, the public disapproves of the media’s coverage and general demeanor. 

This is no surprise.

I just watched the daily press conference of the president’s White House Coronavirus Task Force. President Trump definitely showed his fatigue tonight. But he has learned to defer to the doctors (Drs. Fauci and Birx tonight) when the medical questions arise.

The media, by contrast, are constantly, counterproductively, and gratingly combative. Every question, even if it concerns a perfectly mundane issue, is given an accusatory spin.

Mainstream media journalists, being a rather small, incestuous club, seem to be competing with each other: Who will be able to trip up President Trump at one of the daily task force briefings? This is clearly a contest. 

But another point strikes the observer, as well: This current crop of reporters aren’t comprised of Sam Donaldsons and Bernard Shaws. They don’t even have a Dan Rather among them. 

In the past two decades, as the Internet has cannibalized mainstream journalism, the field has been attracting ever shoddier talent.

We can assume that most media outlets would send their best and brightest to the White House. Well, what I saw tonight in the journalists’ section was no A-team. This was the Bad News Bears

5,000 urns ordered in “corona-free” Wuhan

Citing a report that a mortuary in Wuhan, China placed an order for 5,000 burial urns, Senator Tom Cotton charges the Chinese government with yet another cover-up:

“They say they’ve only had 2,500 cases that resulted in deaths or so, yet a single mortuary has ordered more than 5,000 urns. You can look at these basic facts to know that the Chinese Communist Party is still lying today, as they were in December and January, and that’s why what could have been a local problem in Wuhan turned into a global pandemic from which more than 2,000 Americans have now died.”

The Chinese government almost certainly is lying…to at least some degree. That has been the character of the Chinese Communist Party since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

To cite one example: there are young people in China today who don’t know about the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, largely because the Beijing government has whitewashed it from official historical accounts.

The COVID-19 pandemic will forever change how we view globalization in general, and our relationship with China in particular.

It is very difficult for any American—including  a US senator–to accurately grasp what is going on in China in the face of the Chinese Communist Party-managed information filter.  Senator Cotton may very well be correct. At present, though, the true situation in Wuhan is probably the least of our problems. We have a much bigger problem in New York.

COVID-19 and the end of big city life?

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Joel Kotkin on “The End of New York”

New York faces a looming existential crisis brought on by the coronavirus. It suffers the largest outbreak of infection by far, accounting for the largest numbers of both cases and deaths outside of Wuhan and Milan. New York is home to nearly half of the coronavirus cases in the United States, and a majority of deaths.

What’s particularly ominous for New York’s future is that the best way to slow the spread of the virus—social distancing—works against the very things that make Gotham so appealing. The very pleasures and crowded realities of urban life, such as mass transit, are particularly susceptible to pandemics. As New Yorkers are told to avoid crowded subways, subway traffic is down 60% and commuter train traffic by as much as 90%.

For years there has been a movement to bring about an “urban revival”.

Although this is not purely a political issue, it does correlate with a particular worldview. America’s urban centers are seen as diverse, cosmopolitan, and environmentally aware. Out in the suburbs, meanwhile, people are living spread out (often in McMansions) while driving gas-guzzling SUVs long distances to work.

As Kotkin notes, however, crowded cities provide ideal conditions for pandemics to spread. And who wants to ride eco-friendly public transportation at a time like this?

I live in a semi-rural, semi-suburban area just outside Cincinnati. Social distancing is simply much easier in an environment like this. I can go outside for a walk without approaching anyone by a distance of less than 20 feet. When I went to my local grocery this morning, I was the only person in the aisle, most of the time.

Much will change in the wake of this pandemic. The handshake is dead. Globalization will be greatly curtailed. The allure of big city life may be yet another casualty of the novel coronavirus.

Abortion and coronavirus

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, we’re arguing about—abortion, of all things.

In my state of Ohio, the governor has ordered all non-emergency medical procedures to be delayed. Doctors are complying more or less across the board. My father had two procedures scheduled: an operation on a hernia that causes him some discomfort, and the removal of a cataract that impairs his ability to read. Both have been indefinitely pushed back.

My father is not alone. Given the drain on medical resources, it is difficult to get time with a medical professional now unless you are on death’s door, or in extreme agony. I have a dental exam scheduled for May 11. I won’t be surprised if it gets pushed back, too.

This is a national emergency; everyone is being inconvenienced.

But according to Sierra Sippel and Akila Radhakrishnan, there is one non-emergency procedure that should take precedence above all others.

Can you guess which one it is? Writing in a CNN op-ed, Sippel and Radhakrishnan argue:

Abortion is a human right. A pandemic doesn’t change that

Sippel and Radhakrishnan are spokespersons for the Center for Health and Gender Equity, which seems to be little more than yet another lobbying front for the abortion industry.

Just so you know where I stand: I’ve always believed that abortion is a complex issue that requires a nuanced approach. I’m never a fan of violence; but I don’t believe that violence should be ruled out in all cases and at all costs. Likewise, I’m opposed to abortion in some cases but not others.

I’ve never embraced the extreme anti-abortion positions of the Todd Akins of the world. At the same time, though, sex-selection abortions (which the Obama administration refused to outlaw) have resulted in the gendercide of over 100 million girls in recent decades. On a global scale, abortion has arguably been the most pernicious tool of female oppression ever invented.

The left refuses to acknowledge this, because abortion is an obsessive hobbyhorse for them. Just as there is something askew with the extreme pro-lifer who would deny an abortion to a rape or an incest victim, there is something equally awry with the leftwing ideologue who views abortion as an unmitigated good for women, the secular equivalent of a sacrament. Even Betty Friedan, the pioneer of so-called “second wave feminism”, saw the left’s fetishization of abortion as a misalignment of priorities.

And so it is now. “Abortion is a human right” is a bit too hifalutin language for a procedure that results in industrial-scale fetal organ harvesting. This is the stuff of horror movies, is it not? “Abortion is a sometimes necessary evil,” is perhaps a better encapsulation of the moral equation here.

Over the long term, people of good will should work together to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies—situations that almost never result in ideal outcomes.

In the short term, though: This is a national—indeed, a global—emergency. In New York and Milan, terminal coronavirus patients are sharing ventilators. If a baby is born who would otherwise have been aborted, that might not be the greatest tragedy amid this somber parade of death.

No New York quarantine; travel advisory instead

**Warm weather is coming; SAVE at Amazon on personal battery-operated fans**

President Trump did not implement the quarantine that he was considering yesterday, possibly for some of the reasons that I elaborated, or similar ones.

Not since the Los Angeles riots of 1992 have National Guardsmen patrolled the streets of a major US city in large numbers to enforce government orders. That would have had the potential to get ugly. I figured all along that President Trump would walk it back. That’s what he did.

What he has issued instead is a somewhat toothless travel advisory. Residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are “advised” not to travel domestically.

Did the president make the right decision, or a sort-of right decision? I guess we’ll know in a few weeks or months.

Right now what we most need is a medical breakthrough on the treatment side.  America is not China, and enforcing quarantines and curfews in the United States is always going to be an extremely difficult task.

Springtime comes to Ohio

Yesterday the mercury in Southern Ohio reached 79 degrees Fahrenheit. I am not of a tropical temperament, and that prompted me to turn on my air conditioning for the first time this year.

As is often the case with unseasonable warmth, thunderstorms followed.  I awoke late last night to thunder and torrential rain.

April begins later this week. Ordinarily, that would be a hopeful event. But everything is different this year…because of that thing, what I now think of as the “c-word”.

Let us all hope and pray that we see the other side of this soon.