• Mom Is Getting Better

    I’d like to thank everyone who sent kind words my way after I wrote about my mother’s illness last week. And I have some good news: over the weekend she started getting better and is now clearly on the upswing. We’ve moved her into a rehab facility, and as soon as she recovers enough strength to be able to walk we’ll finally be able to get her home. The rehab hospital doesn’t allow visitors, which is understandable if still maddening, but mom is well enough now that she can talk on the phone. Her main message is that she wants to go home to her cats.

    We still have no idea what this was all about. We know a lot of things it’s not—not a stroke, not a heart attack, not the flu, not COVID-19, etc.—but still no idea what it is. In any case, she’s rapidly getting better.

  • Raw Data: Did Trump’s Tulsa Rally Cause COVID-19 to Take Off?

    Did Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa cause the rate of COVID-19 cases to skyrocket? Here’s the raw data:

    Maybe. But an eyeball look at this chart sure seems to suggest that Tulsa has followed the same trendline before and after the rally. The city has no mask requirement, nor does it have any ban on large gatherings, of which there have been quite a few in addition to Trump’s.

    Holding an indoor rally while the case rate was increasing was surely a dumb thing to do, but based on the numbers alone it’s hard to say for sure what impact it had.

  • Trump Orders the CDC to Change Its School Guidance

    Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States:

    Trump disagrees with the CDC. Let that sink in. So he’s going to force them to change their expert guidance:

    Hours after President Trump assailed guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for reopening schools, Vice President Mike Pence, appearing with the White House coronavirus task force, announced the agency would issue new recommendations next week, saying they don’t want the guidance to be a reason why schools don’t open. “Well, the president said today, we just don’t want the guidance to be too tough,” Mr. Pence said. “That’s the reason why next week, the C.D.C. is going to be issuing a new set of tools, five different documents that will be giving even more clarity on the guidance going forward.”

    As you all know, I’m generally in favor of opening schools too. One reason for this is that European countries have done it successfully. But in case anyone has failed to notice, there’s a big difference between the US and Europe:

    It’s one thing to open schools after you’ve successfully crushed the virus. This means that schools are relatively safe if reasonable precautions are taken, and that officials can react quickly to individual outbreaks here and there. It’s quite another thing to open schools while you’re still reporting 50,000 new cases per day with no end in sight and a president who can’t even bring himself to wear a mask, let alone do anything more serious to get the virus under control.

    Plus there’s another thing. How can I put this delicately? As near as I can tell, European officials aren’t idiots and can generally be trusted to act reasonably. This is so obviously not the case in the US that I’m not sure I trust anyone here to reopen schools. It probably could be done in a conservative and sensible way, but there’s no reason to think that the people who run our country would act either conservatively or sensibly. Just the opposite: they would most likely come up with ridiculous plans in the first place and then abandon them in panic at the first sign of trouble.

    This is all a little speculative. But one thing’s for sure: the last person in the world who should be making this decision is Donald Trump.

  • Lunchtime Photo

    This is a coastal deer broom, aka common deerweed. It’s kind of pretty close up, but from a distance it’s just a meh looking bush. A quick search suggests that it has no real redeeming features other than being one of the first plants to move in after a fire. I guess that’s something.

    April 20, 2019 — Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Orange County, California