Joe Biden's Townhall Was Wonderful


What a night!!!

Joe Biden was on fire. He was smart, thorough, patient, human. He revealed intelligence and command of facts that rivals my dear Liz Warrent. He was simply superb.

The event tonight was a polite conversation. Joe was able to speak at his own pace and complete his sentences. Watching him, I was able to see his adaptation to his stutter. It seems clear to me that his (previously annoying) habit of numbering his statements is a way of dealing with his stutter. You could see him almost mechanically pausing to reassert control over his speech when he got excited or ahead of himself.

I think that a reason that I previously considered him to be second rate is that the conventional political debate is completely inappropriate for a person with a stutter. That he was willing to participate in such a thing is evidence of intense courage and determination. Fortunately, the ability to engage a heated argument is not a skill that is useful for a president.

He was remarkably responsive to the questions. Mostly eschewing the usual practice of treating the question (and questioner) as, at best, mere inspiration for another explosion of boilerplate platitudes, he answered each inquiry with superb detail, organized and with an amazing ability to include specifics relevant to the person.

I cannot tell you how strongly I feel a turnaround in my regard for Joe Biden. His clear headed decency was marvelous. His command of the facts and of his plans was, considering what I've thought of him before, astonishing.

But mostly, I liked him so much. He was kind to the questioners. Responsive to the issues. Decent in his characterization of those who don't like him.

I will also note was reluctant to disparage Trump. There were a couple of occasions where he talked about things that were bad about his administration but he was completely free of negativity.

This guy is the essence of 'presidential'.

For Feminists, It's 'Wimp' All the Way

So, I said something like, "Don't be such a bunch of pussies" in response to concerns about working extra hard for some project. Though I never really thought of it as a a reference to other uses of the word pussy, it didn't sit well with me.
I wondered on Facebook to some friends who care about words if 'pussy' was a gendered disparagement. DId it refer at its root to women or felines? I inquired for alternatives.

I learned things. tl;dr: From now on, I will say, "Don't be such a bunch of wimps!" I will not be using pussy or sissy ever again. Nor will I be using the suggested poltroon or pusillanimous or caitiff.

Pussy was first found in print in 1583 referring a sweet and amiable woman. It was, in fact, a compliment. They think that it referred to supposed virtues of a kitten. It took over a hundred years to be used as a reference to genitals _or_ cats (in fact it referred to rabbits long before it was used for cats).

Sissy was a later usage (mid 1700's) that derived from sister and, in the late 1800s was used as disparagement for effeminate men. That is the very essence of a gendered slur.

Both sissy and pussy were references to homosexuality very shortly after they first appeared and long before, in the case of 'pussy' the word referred to genitals (without negative connotation). Also, in the case of pussy, it was used to compliment the gentleness of a gay person.

Bottom line, sissy is the worst offender since it went directly from referring to a sister to being used to say a man was bad because he resembled a woman.

Pussy is more complicated. It did not get used as a disparagement until the middle of the 1900's, ie, a very recent usage for this very old word. Still, those years have definitely turned it into a gendered slur.

One of my friends suggested 'caitiff'. Turns out it's a very old word dating to the early 1300's. It originally meant prisoner or captive but very quickly came to be disapproval with a strong implication of immorality and wickedness. I'm guessing it was a reference to the criminal nature of people who were prisoners. The latest reference in 1870.

Wussy dates back to 1977; it's root, wuss, to '76. The OED speculates that it was a casual portmanteau of wimp and pussy.

Wimp dates to the early 1920's. It appeared almost simultaneously as a disparagement meaning weak, feeble or "wet" (?!) and, apparently separately, meaning "woman or girl". The latter without negative connotation.

Another suggestion that I love is 'pusillanimous' but whenever I have used it the laughing pretty much killed the impact. Still, a great word.

Poltroon? Pretty much the same. Interestingly, both of these are quite old (1400-1500's) and both mainly meant cowardly but a poltroon is worse, adding wickedness. Non-gendered but laughably archaic.

For now I'm going to say that pussy is definitely gendered as is wussy and it's worse cousin, sissy. Wimp arguably not but it's not perfectly clean either. Probably it's the closest to a winner so far.

I suppose "Don't be such a pussy!" and "Don't be such a wimp!" are pretty much equivalent both in meaning and impact but the latter says it without a strong sexist reference. I guess it works.

It is really weird that every contemporary disparagement I can think of is based on using women as the epitome of weakness. I really hate that.

No one knows yet the long-term health effects of COVID19

An essay written by some anonymous Smarty Pants:

Chickenpox is a virus. Lots of people have had it, and probably don't think about it much once the initial illness has passed. But it stays in your body and lives there forever, and maybe when you're older, you have debilitatingly painful outbreaks of shingles. You don't just get over this virus in a few weeks, never to have another health effect. We know this because it's been around for years, and has been studied medically for years.

Herpes is also a virus. And once someone has it, it stays in your body and lives there forever, and anytime they get a little run down or stressed-out they're going to have an outbreak. Maybe every time you have a big event coming up (school pictures, job interview, big date) you're going to get a cold sore. For the rest of your life. You don't just get over it in a few weeks. We know this because it's been around for years, and been studied medically for years.

HIV is a virus. It attacks the immune system and makes the carrier far more vulnerable to other illnesses. It has a list of symptoms and negative health impacts that goes on and on. It was decades before viable treatments were developed that allowed people to live with a reasonable quality of life. Once you have it, it lives in your body forever and there is no cure. Over time, that takes a toll on the body, putting people living with HIV at greater risk for health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, diabetes, bone disease, liver disease, cognitive disorders, and some types of cancer. We know this because it has been around for years, and had been studied medically for years.

Now with COVID-19, we have a novel virus that spreads rapidly and easily. The full spectrum of symptoms and health effects is only just beginning to be cataloged, much less understood.

So far the symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Coughing
  • Pneumonia
  • Chills/Trembling
  • Acute respiratory distress
  • Lung damage (potentially permanent)
  • Loss of taste (a neurological symptom)
  • Sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Mental confusion
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Strokes have also been reported in some people who have COVID-19 (even in the relatively young)
  • Swollen eyes
  • Blood clots
  • Seizures
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Rash
  • COVID toes (weird, right?)

People testing positive for COVID-19 have been documented to be sick even after 60 days. Many people are sick for weeks, get better, and then experience a rapid and sudden flare up and get sick all over again. A man in Seattle was hospitalized for 62 days, and while well enough to be released, still has a long road of recovery ahead of him. Not to mention a $1.1 million medical bill.

Then there is MIS-C. Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Children with MIS-C may have a fever and various symptoms, including abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes, or feeling extra tired. While rare, it has caused deaths.

This disease has not been around for years. It has basically been 6 months. No one knows yet the long-term health effects, or how it may present itself years down the road for people who have been exposed. We literally *do not know* what we do not know.

For those in our society who suggest that people being cautious are cowards, for people who refuse to take even the simplest of precautions to protect themselves and those around them, I want to ask, without hyperbole and in all sincerity:

How dare you?

How dare you risk the lives of others so cavalierly. How dare you decide for others that they should welcome exposure as "getting it over with", when literally no one knows who will be the lucky "mild symptoms" case, and who may fall ill and die. Because while we know that some people are more susceptible to suffering a more serious case, we also know that 20 and 30-year-olds have died, marathon runners and fitness nuts have died, children and infants have died.

How dare you behave as though you know more than medical experts, when those same experts acknowledge that there is so much we don't yet know, but with what we DO know, are smart enough to be scared of how easily this is spread, and recommend baseline precautions such as:

  • Frequent hand-washing
  • Physical distancing
  • Reduced social/public contact or interaction
  • Mask wearing
  • Covering your cough or sneeze
  • Avoiding touching your face
  • Sanitizing frequently touched surfaces

The more things we can all do to mitigate our risk of exposure, the better off we all are, in my opinion. Not only does it flatten the curve and allow health care providers to maintain levels of service that aren't immediately and catastrophically overwhelmed; it also reduces unnecessary suffering and deaths, and buys time for the scientific community to study the virus in order to come to a more full understanding of the breadth of its impacts in both the short and long term.

I reject the notion that it's "just a virus" and we'll all get it eventually. What a careless, lazy, heartless stance.


This essay is floating around the web along with the assertion that it is written by Anthony Fauci. That is not true.

When I first saw it, I wanted to examine the original because "how dare you" did not sound like Fauci. I could not find the original anywhere. I did find an article that compared the it things Fauci has actually said. The language and style do not match.

I encourage everyone to spread this far and wide. It is really important for people to understand that we simply do not know what this virus does to people.

But don't attribute it to Fauci. It's not and saying so just diminishes this important message.

Bob Woodward Did Nothing Wrong By Conserving His Revelations Until the Election Season

Lots of people are criticizing Bob Woodward, often in really awful ways, for not revealing the information from his new book earlier. Asserting that he had a responsibility to tell us about Trump and that he is somehow guilty for not doing so. I disagree.

To figure this out, I have been trying to imagine the benefit if Woodward had told us this earlier and cannot see any. Everyone with a brain knew that Trump was lying to us. We already knew that he was dishonestly pretending that covid19 was not really a problem. We knew that he was intentionally injuring blue states. The only material thing we didn't know is that it turns out he actually *is* smart enough to understand the situation at some level.

If Woodward had released these tapes when they were happening, Kaylie MacaNinny would have lied more. Trump would have had to make up his "I wanted calm and they wanted me to jump up and down" line earlier. Sane people would have screamed. Press would have asked hostile questions.

I don't see what difference it would have made. I do not see what material, actionable information Woodward withheld. I do not see how we could have used this knowledge to coerce better behavior in Trump or change our behavior to induce a better outcome.

I do think that it would have diminished the impact on the election. I do think that this is very important information for voters. I do not see how knowing this stuff would have saved one life or altered the course of the disease at all.

The only differences I can see redound to the benefit of Trump himself. As soon as Woodward told us these things, Trump would have stopped the interviews. Of eighteen interviews, seventeen of them would never exist and Donny would have been spared the consequences of his own egotistical motor-mouth.

But even if he had continue the interviews, the facts would then have dribbled out. Trump would be able to deflect them one-by-one. The sheer quantity of awfulness and dishonesty would have been lost as details arrived mixed with all the other horrible details each day.

The significance would have been diluted to death. And it would not have a significant effect (one hopes) on his election chances because of that.

I am in complete disagreement with any assertions that Bob Woodward did anything wrong by waiting to publish his book.

In Defense of Intolerance Toward Intolerance

Unlimited tolerance inevitably and necessarily leads tto general intolerance, authoritarianism, dictatorship.

I think of it a little like multiplication with negative numbers. There is no number big enough that, when you multiply it by negative one, it remains positive.

I am a firm believer in the notion that the remedy for a bad idea is a good idea. Intolerance, however, is not amenable to a good idea. The whole point is a prejudiced judgment that some ideas can never be good.

I read an article today about a mathematician and philosopher named Ramsey, John or something. He noted that the fallibility of people isn't an error or something that can be overlooked in the pursuit of an ideal. It is intrinsic to all problem solving and all solutions.

In an ideal world, you would be able to explain to intolerant people that they were, in fact, making the exchange of ideas impossible and thereby making things worse. They would, understanding this, choose the path that would make the world better. But, some people are badly motivated, emotionally immature or selfish and are not able to respond to such understanding.

Like negative one, their participation in the culture will always multiply out to a negative result.

As a consequence, I do not lament the fact that relationships are sundered by political differences. I have no trumpster friends. There were a couple in the aftermath of his election but, I made a decision and shunned them. In at least one case, I am still sad about it but, every time I looked at her, I thought about the monstrous thing she had done. Her presence harmed me.

What I do lament is the rise of intolerance and that is what the right-wing has been about, well, arguably forever, but in my archeology of hate, since Reagan was supercharged by Newt Gingrich and Pat Buchanan. It is a tragedy.

American Right-Wing Battle Flag

I wrote this today in reply to a "Put a flag in your front yard" post. My sweet, wise daughter said I was being too aggressive in a direct reply to an actual human being who would probably take it personally. Still, it's something I feel a need to say:

I hung flags for July 4 even during the reprehensible Reagan administration because I considered him to be an aberration that did not reflect the basic character of this country.

But since then, almost fifty percent of the people voted for a guy who "grabbed them by the pussy" and said that people from Mexico were "rapists and murderers". He ridiculed and mocked a reporter with a handicap.

Reagan was not an aberration. He was the beginning of a hideous corruption of America. From him to Newt Gingrich to George W. and now to Trump, the American people, the real America I used to revere has become substantially evil.

Our parents went to war to protect our country from being conquered by people like them, Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo. They did not do it for the flag. They did it *under* it and *for* a decent country.

The flag is a piece of cloth that represents a political theory. A symbol that has been hijacked by racists, xenophobes and people who call the free press an enemy of the people. By people who criticize me because I won't join those who wave the flag in support of vile ideology.

When all that stops I will reconsider but I am pretty sure almost fifty percent will vote in November for the guy who put children in cages, sent troops against people in American cities and teargassed a crowd so he could wave a bible in front of church.
Flag of the United States of America, bah. If we are talking about the country that just blew off treaties, abandoned the Kurds and built a wall, no way I want anything to do with it. It is a symbol of evil.

I hope that our forbears would look at the current commander in chief and say, No way I will take orders from that scumbag. I'm not pointing a gun at someone to defend putting children in cages.

Infection Rates in Red States are Out Of Control –

So, the fine people at have made controls that let you filter the states in myriad ways. For awhile you've been able to identify the states trending bad or good. Now you can select states based on their politics.
This image shows graphs from states that voted for Trump, have a Republican governor and Republican or Democratic majorities in both houses of their legislature. There are 21 of red. It also has a graph with the 16 Democratic states.

As you can see looking at the data (this one is *not* trend; it is the current actual positive test percent), the red states are screwed. Not only is their trend across the graph *not* in the right direction, a whole bunch of them are over 10% infected. For the blue states, *none* of them are currently over 10%.

While the testing certainly oversamples sick people, it is a very strong indication of what to expect, ie, Red states are screwed.

The good news? A strong die-off in those states will reduce their influence in the future. The bad news? The virus doesn't respect borders so it means decent people will die, too.

Peter Navarro Demonstrates that Anthony Fauci is Actually Awesome

There is an aphorism, the exception that proves the rule. As I first read this truly silly essay, I thought, "Really? Over a forty some year career, this is all you can come up with? You have just made clear that the guy is a fucking saint."

Then I clicked through to the 'evidence' in his links. One was when, in February before we had any cases her, he said the risk of catching it "now"was low. Another, posed as Fauci saying that lower death rates do not matter was actually him saying that saying that the lower morality rate was "false comfort" considering its infectiousness and other such badness.

The rest are equally dishonest. This Peter Navarro guy clearly belongs in the Trump administration.

And this essay is 1) proof that even mortal enemies couldn't find evidence that Fauci is anything short of awesome and 2) the Trump administration and its blatant dishonesty represent a clear and present danger to our country and to our individual lives.

Article HERE.

Thoughts on Opening Schools in a Covid19 World

Schools. Tough problem. I agree that kids are harmed by this isolation. I know that the economy is going to be ruined by the lack of child care. That makes getting kids into school a very high priority.

The big challenge is that sending them to school amounts to each household sending one or more representatives to a virus communication center each day.

However, children *appear* to have less ability to host the virus. It appears that this characteristic is inverse with age. That is, small children are pretty safe, both for them and the parents that receive them at the end of the day. Seniors in high school are nearly adults and not very safe at all.

Unfortunately, the practicalities of school are the opposite of what would be needed to accommodate this change in risk. The people who are kept with a single, unchanging group that would prevent cross contamination are the small children with less risk. Older kids change classroom groups several times a day in a pattern that insures that any infected kid can contamination as many people as possible.

I keep trying to imagine what could be done to make this work. There problems are intractable.

The ability to make children wear masks decreases with age. Teenagers simply will not do it effectively.

That means that social distancing is required. Schools are not constructed to support that and students will not cooperate.

Schools need to reorganize so that kids are taught in class groups that never change. For older kids, that means that teachers need to travel from room to room. Teachers, of course, will have wear good, medical masks so that they are neither exposed nor transmitting.

When in classrooms, mask wearing has to be enforced rigorously. A student who won't wear a mask has to be expelled. No mercy.

Since students would not be changing classrooms, behavior in hallways is less of a problem and the fact that students will not wear masks when not under strict control is reduced. Students should not be allowed to linger around the school when not in class.

Extracurricular activities can only occur within class groups. Anything that requires students to mix between groups has to go.

Every classroom should have a no contact thermometer and a raised temperature means class is off. Everyone goes home until 1) that kid is tested negative for covid19 or, 2) two weeks. At the end of that period, only students with normal temperatures would be allowed in. Anyone with a fever stays home unless they are tested negative for covid19.

Whereever possible, ventilation systems should be improved to maximize air exchange in classrooms. Obviously, cleaning should be maximized.

Rooms should be reconfigured to distance children as much as practical.

Rich districts should build teacher isolation mechanisms, clear glass booths or something, to isolate teachers from students both to protect the teachers and to prevent them from carrying virus from class to class.

Here is a list of questions I read somewhere about school openings that motivated my thinking...

• If a teacher tests positive for COVID-19 are they required to quarantine for 2-3 weeks? Is their sick leave covered, paid?

• If that teacher has 5 classes a day with 30 students each, do all 150 of those students need to then stay home and quarantine for 14 days?

• Do all 150 of those students now have to get tested? Who pays for those tests? Are they happening at school? How are the parents being notified? Does everyone in each of those kids' families need to get tested? Who pays for that?

• What if a teacher who lives in the same house as as someone who tests positive? Does that teacher now need to take 14 days off of work to quarantine? Is that time off covered? Paid?

• Where is the district going to find a substitute teacher who will work in a classroom full of exposed, possibly infected students for substitute pay?

• Substitutes teach in multiple schools. What if they are diagnosed with COVID-19? Do all the kids in each school now have to quarantine and get tested? Who is going to pay for that?

• What if a student in your kid's class tests positive? What if your kid tests positive? Does every other student and teacher they have been around quarantine? Do we all get notified who is infected and when?
Or because of HIPAA regulations are parents and teachers just going to get mysterious “may have been in contact” emails all year long?

• What is this stress going to do to our teachers? How does it affect their health and well-being? How does it affect their ability to teach? How does it affect the quality of education they are able to provide? What is it going to do to our kids? What are the long-term effects of consistently being stressed out?

30% of the teachers in the US are over 50. About 16% of the total deaths in the US are people between the ages of 45-65.
We are choosing to put our teachers in danger.

Another Annoying Study Telling Us Not To Drink

So the statistics people come back with another stab at telling us not to drink alcohol. What a fucking bore. I wish they would just keep their moralizing bullshit to themselves.

It's always been obvious to me that alcohol is a poison (eg, I use it to kill covid19 virus all the time) that makes you sick (eg, 'hangover' is a euphemism for 'poisoned but will recover'). It's equally obvious that overdosing will kill you in myriad ways ranging from alcoholism to liver disease to various kinds of cancer.

By the way, pretty much everything else is poisonous on some level, too. Food is killing most (yeh, most) Americans more certainly and with greater life consequences than alcohol. At this moment obesity makes any consequence of alcohol you can name look like a good day.

There are two reasons I want them to shut the hell up. First is, Everyone already knows that drinking too much is bad for you, Captain Obvious. We know already. Stop harping. Not a single person on earth did or did not drink more or less because ten years ago they nuanced that X ounces a day is good/bad for you. No matter what they say, it doesn't kill you very fast and that's what matters.

Second, Drinking doesn't have anything to do with health because people do not care about health. They care about happiness. And these studies never give any credence to the fact that people hate being sober all the time.

Hate hate hate hate hate being sober all the time. Hate hate hate.

As well they should. Sobriety is a horrible state of being when done too often. You can tell me about that person you know who is cheerful and fulfilled without a drop or a toke. I will tell you that, when I met that person last time, I thought, Gad, what a drag. Seemed a bit dry and joyless.

Sure, people exist whose lives are awesome when sober all the time but they are a minuscule fraction, the order of magnitude of the population of monks and nuns, or world class chess players or other groups with esoteric characteristics.

Animals seek to avoid sobriety by eating fermented fruit and they don't even have to go to work or talk to their stupid boss or listen to Donald Trump (or Joe Biden for that matter). With actual intelligence comes a thousand additional reasons to set rationality and inhibition aside for a few hours.

I would love to see the study on the nasty effects of sobriety. Of the joyless engagement in a world of parties without drink. Of lives lived without the fumbling relaxation where the cares and interests of the day seem remote. Where you can't sit back and listen to your incredibly annoying relative or friend, sip on your drink and allow your disinhibited mind to fantasize about murder or abandonment or to feel, I just don't care very much because I love this gin.

And don't even get me started on the idea of all sexual encounters being sober. I shudder to imagine how much less sex people would have and how dry and awful it would be, and thereby how the actual enjoyment of the human condition would be nearly entirely eliminated.

I will reaffirm, as those who know me have heard many times before, humans naturally want to stop being sober. It is as natural and essential as sex, a good bowel movement or loving your grandchildren. I love to drink (and smoke and, if only I could access some, perhaps a little sneef now and again) and will do it on my deathbed, even if it reduces my time there.

Drinking is good and essential to the joy of life.