If the economy could speak

The Guardian:

The US economy shrank by 32.9% between April and June, its sharpest contraction since the second world war, government figures revealed on Thursday, as more signs emerged of the coronavirus pandemic’s heavy toll on the country’s economy.
The record-setting quarterly fall in economic growth came as another 1.43 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, a second week of rises after a four-month decline.
The annualized figure is the largest drop in quarterly gross domestic product (GDP) – the broadest measure of the economy – since records began in 1945.

The U.S. Economy:

Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit unemployment benefits

Just Like Everyone Else

I live in a small-to-medium size Florida city, which for a time had the largest, per-capital concentration of COVID–19 cases in Florida. I don’t live in South Florida.

Me, my family, and my coworkers all watched the news – as many of you did – about the pandemic. We saw other states close down. The county government here issued a stay-at-home order, about a week before our Governor did, but little seemed to change. We were still required to report to work. As I type this, we’re still getting in our cars and driving in to work each morning.

Today is the first day under the Governor’s stay-at-home order… and near as I can tell, many folks in my town are still out and about, still doing what they did before COVID. I look out at the highway outside my office window, and I see just as much traffic. I drive around at lunch and see business parking lots filled with cars.

I know I only see a small sliver of one small city. I know evidence via anecdote isn’t much better than no evidence at all. Still, I can’t help but worry we’re not taking this seriously. I can’t help fearing all the mixed messages are causing what I’m seeing, and it’s not just me and my small sliver of a small city, it’s all over. I fear that I’ll get sick when everyone else is getting sick, and my medical history will lead me to be one of the more severe cases. I worry about my wife’s asthma. I worry about my parent’s advanced age. I worry our leaders will weaponize our fears. More than ever, I worry about the world our children will inherit. I feel utterly helpless… without means to do anything about it.

Thankfully, I’m not worried about my job – because I’m apparently essential. I sure don’t feel like it.


I don’t think I’ve ever been told I’m essential and come to work feeling less so.

A sick life

A lot of fond memories at the old UF Infirmary…

“The infirmary could be demolished, but there is discussion about whether to find a new use for the building.”

Why do I do this to myself?

I spent 15 minutes this evening reading Ted Nugent quotes. You know, to see if it was fair to call Kathy Griffin the Ted Nugent of the Left.

But I had an epiphany and stopped. It occurred to me that I don’t care if what he said is equivalent to what she did.

Neither are worth that much of my time – especially not when I’m already depressed.

I could be doing something more productive like counting the threads in my sheets, to make sure I wasn’t overcharged.

The Facebook reply that wasn’t

Allow me to introduce myself. I’m the mostly absent author of this site. The name’s John, but my friends call me John.

I have not said much about the looming election, mostly for mental health reasons. That’s not meant to be a joke. I’ve started a few dozen posts – I think. I’ve lost track. I’ve always given up less than a few sentences in, already emotionally spent.

But time is running short.

Increasingly, I feel like I should – not because the masses are clamoring for me to endorse – but because I have a conscience. These are a couple of paragraphs I was going to share (lift/steal – though attributed, of course) from writer John Scalzi, in response to some random person’s ranting elsewhere in social media. I didn’t. That way leads not to good mental health. But I share them with you now, my friends. Before you ask, let me say: yes, I do agree with the things he’s writen. I’d only ask in return, out of respect for me (if I deserve it, as I hope I do) to read and consider his words – to give them some benefit of doubt, if your instinct is to doubt.

Mr Scalzi:

This should not be a close contest. That it is a close contest (right now) is a testament first to the twenty-five years that the GOP and conservatives have spent demonizing Hillary Clinton, and second to the effectiveness of the GOP and conservatives in creating an epistemic bubble inside which millions of (largely white, largely older, largely less educated) people live, trained to be suspicious of facts, trained to see political opponents as traitors, trained to be afraid first and anything else after that.

And yes! When you say those things in sequence out loud, it sounds ridiculous! But yet here we are in 2016 with Donald Trump, ignorant, hateful, horribly afraid Donald Trump, as the Republican candidate for president. He didn’t appear out of nowhere. The way was prepared for him over decades, by people who couldn’t see that they’d laid the way for an incipient demagogue who would have no loyalty to them or their political goals, such as they were. They didn’t see that the person who would be tasked to stand in his way is the person they’d spent a quarter century convincing those in bubble land is one of the gravest threats to America that had ever put on a sensible pantsuit ensemble.

… no one should be complacent about this election. Register to vote. If your state is making it difficult for you to vote, know now so that well ahead of election day you can jump through all the stupid, intentionally-placed hoops preventing you from registering.

I’d be more than happy to discuss any aspect of this post, privately or in public. It’s often said that much is at stake in national elections, but I think it’s especially true this year.

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Getting Ted wrong

I was born in Massachusetts so I’m required to have a soft spot for the Kennedys. There was rarely more tension in my house growing up than when my mother would accuse my father of voting for Nixon or Reagan… herself a liberal Democrat in the Kennedy mold – and fan of Ted, the liberal lion of the Senate, in particular.

She named one of our cats Ted during the dark years of Reagan/Bush – allegedly for a little push-back against my father. (Having lived through the sequel they seem like the good old days now.)

I get my politics from my mother, and I morn the passing of one of the last unapologetic liberals in the Senate.

Like Joan Walsh, I’m a little irritated by the claims of conservatives that Ted would have made compromise on healthcare happen. Universal healthcare was a career-long goal of his, and the current proposals were already a compromise (irrational hysteria by the far right, the misinformed, or the just plain scary not withstanding).

Here’s video of Ted arguing for an increase in the minimum wage back in 2007 on the Senate floor (via TPM).

Say what you will about universal healthcare, “public options,” or the proper role of government. Do you see that guy compromising further on his lifelong passion? I don’t. I’ll tell you what I do see: more BS from the right on healthcare.

Sadly, his views on the subject are probably irrelevant now.

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Stolen from the pages of Salon

Bad times

My good mood this holiday weekend was tempered by events in the middle east. Everyone there seems fine with killing each other. It only gets easier as the days pass, each one providing the justification for tomorrow’s reprisal.

Yeah, I know. This is nothing new. You hear it all the time. It can make you numb. Maybe it was the holidays, my good mood leaving me vulnerable to reversal. This morning I was driving to work, listening to NPR… listening to the reports of Israeli airstikes in crowded Gaza, and the Hamas missles flying back into Israel.

It was like the novocaine wore off and the ache set back in.

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By the time you see this, I’m sure it will be all over the news – but I can’t not post this.


Reuters via Yahoo! News:

In a sign of lingering anger over the war that will define the Republican president’s foreign policy legacy, an Iraqi journalist shouted in Arabic “this is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog,” and hurled his shoes at Bush during a news conference with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Well they’re throwing something, just not flowers… or at his feet, from the look of it (unless the dude’s got really bad aim). Does the man get half credit? Maybe one third?

If Bush wanted to write a better legacy for himself, he probably should have stayed home. I think this photo sums it up beautifully. Is there any chance it could be used as his official White House portrait?

Yeah, I know. It’s not nice to kick a guy when he’s down… or in this case bent over.