What's the hurry?

I've been hoping every day for some word on how the 70,000 doses of chloroquine and azithromycin were working out in New York, because I'd read that they were delivered on Tuesday, March 24, and Gov. Cuomo said he was eager to get trials started. I was even getting worried that the lack of good news might mean the drugs weren't having any effect after all. Turns out they haven't started using them yet. They're still working out how the trials will be structured, and hope to get started next week.

The Inheritors

Here's a piece by two generations of the inheritors of Bob Wills' tradition.

Merle needs no introduction. Dwight probably doesn't either, but just in case, he's the guy singing when the Terminator walks into the biker/cowboy bar (called 'the Corral') in Terminator 2. The song is "Guitars, Cadillacs," which is probably his biggest hit.

The bike he steals is a Harley Davidson Fatboy. That was the first bike I ever knew I wanted, and it was surely this movie that made it so.

What A Man Can Do, And What A Man Can't Do

I want to point out that this is a sophisticated philosophical point, dressed up in pirate costumes.

It's more or less the essence of Stoicism. What can you do, this week, to deal with this crisis? You could plant a victory garden. You can exercise to keep your immune system strong. You could get out and enjoy whatever part of the glorious spring weather is open to you. You can call your friends and loved ones, and keep their spirits up, because they need it too.

What can't you do? Well, there's quite a lot. Learn to recognize it, and let go of it. You can't fix it. Focus on the things you can do, and accept the things you can't.

Sometimes All Choices Are Wrong

Some folks are going hard against Dr. Brix, no introductions necessary, for suggesting that it's just possible that things won't be as bad as they seem. She could be wrong about that. Nobody really knows how bad it's going to be.

People are going to make mistakes during this time, even responsible people. Her mistakes are different than the ones you'd make, but if you were in her position you'd be making mistakes too -- mistakes that would cost lives, just as hers will. It's going to be important to understand.

This is true even for that most maligned of all people, Donald Trump. He's making mistakes every day, but they're not the same mistakes that the overarching governing class would make. That's useful, even if it's disruptive. He shut off travel from China; they all called him racist and said to be sure to attend the Chinese New Year parade in your local city. He was right about that; they made different mistakes. It's helpful to have the corrective on both sides, perhaps. Our disagreements may be our strength.

As far as she is concerned, she's thinking about the psychological strain and the economic one. Everybody's seeing an endless flood of doomsday stories, while they lose their jobs and the economy tanks. It's not out of order to point out that the data coming in suggests that it might not [see comments] be as bad as you've been hearing (day and night, if you follow these reports obsessively). People are seeing their lives ruined, things they've invested their hearts in destroyed. She's erring on the side of giving them hope. Maybe that's wrong; but maybe everything's wrong, in the sense that there's no free ride. Every choice imposes a cost in blood.

The strongest pillar of Christianity was always the fact that people knew they needed to be forgiven for the things they'd done, even if they did their best to do right. In harder hours than we've known but late, that was understood personally by nearly everyone alive. If God can't forgive us, who can? Can we forgive ourselves? Can we forgive each other?

We're going to need to do.

"I Do Love a Steel Guitar"

Well then Grim, I know a guy- this guy does one of my favorite versions of Wichita Lineman, and so I looked and found a good Texas Swing piece he does and with a fiddle too (of course!).  Enjoy Greg Booth, with son Danny on Guitar and Bass and daughter-in-law Amanda on the fiddle , doing Boot Heel Drag (Bob Wills steel guitar man Herb Remington did it in 1950):

Rebooting the economy

It doesn't always go well.


An unexpected effect of suddenly converting the nation's universities to online academies is that classes are being recorded and can be shared. There's a sudden panic over the suggestion by conservatives that students might want to share any egregious examples of progressive balderdash, because, you know, the public might not understand. This was good: "The vast majority of academics are centrist liberals."

Yes, we'll have no virus

Russia has almost no coronavirus to speak of, but a strangely high incidence of pneumonia. Doctors are warning that it's time to get ready for the Italian scenario, but in the meantime as long as they don't call it coronavirus, it's all good. Call it a "banana." We're going to get another horrible demonstration in how societies with different levels of trust and transparency deal with crises. I hope we draw the right lesson.

Interesting idea

Trump supposedly has told governors that he wants a massive sampling of the population to determine which counties have a low incidence, which might let us prioritize some counties for allowing more economic output and relegate others to tighter lockdowns. I can imagine something like this working, if we somehow avoided the stampede from more infected counties to less, which is a big "if." It would be nice to see goods produced by and shipped from "safe zones," even if the safe zones had to shift from location to location over time. But it's not like we have, or even want, county border guards.

Western Swing V

And for those interested, Gringo dropped an article on the history of the steel guitar.

Always With the Negative Waves

So there was a slight sword practice mishap tonight. Nothing serious, although I expect I’ll feel it tomorrow.

I told a female friend the story and she was like, "There's a scary pandemic that will probably sicken you if you go to the hospital, and you're fighting with swords on wet ground?"

And I'm like, "Yeah, after riding motorcycles all day."


It'd be nice if we had better evidence, writes a statistician.
Some worry that the 68 deaths from Covid-19 in the U.S. as of March 16 will increase exponentially to 680, 6,800, 68,000, 680,000 … along with similar catastrophic patterns around the globe. Is that a realistic scenario, or bad science fiction? How can we tell at what point such a curve might stop?

The most valuable piece of information for answering those questions would be to know the current prevalence of the infection in a random sample of a population and to repeat this exercise at regular time intervals to estimate the incidence of new infections. Sadly, that’s information we don’t have....

One of the bottom lines is that we don’t know how long social distancing measures and lockdowns can be maintained without major consequences to the economy, society, and mental health. Unpredictable evolutions may ensue, including financial crisis, unrest, civil strife, war, and a meltdown of the social fabric. At a minimum, we need unbiased prevalence and incidence data for the evolving infectious load to guide decision-making.

In the most pessimistic scenario, which I do not espouse, if the new coronavirus infects 60% of the global population and 1% of the infected people die, that will translate into more than 40 million deaths globally, matching the 1918 influenza pandemic.

The vast majority of this hecatomb would be people with limited life expectancies. That’s in contrast to 1918, when many young people died.

One can only hope that, much like in 1918, life will continue. Conversely, with lockdowns of months, if not years, life largely stops, short-term and long-term consequences are entirely unknown, and billions, not just millions, of lives may be eventually at stake.

A Pretty Day in the Spring

Western Swing IV

Still more of the feel-good genre, with thanks to brother Gringo.

(This one I usually hear Willie Nelson do, but obviously he was following Wills' lead.)

(I do love a steel guitar.)

Did I mention bad regulation?

Nevada's governor has decided it's best if his state doesn't try chloroquine. No need to let doctors have any discretion. Three guesses which party.

Adapt and overcome

I heard the President say the other day that, although he's activated the Defense Production Act, he hasn't had to use it. So far no manufacturer has said "no." Ford steps up to help manufacture ventilators, using car parts.

Deregulation and safety

Bad regulations can kill people just as thoroughly as Wild-West unregulation.

The Last Most Hated President, and Merle Haggard

On the 17th of March, of whatever year that was. 1973 if the description is accurate.

Because It's An Emergency

You know, when you put it this way, it does seem like an odd approach....

Western Swing III

Tom's contribution. Gringo has a bunch more, which we'll get to tomorrow.

Pelosi caves

As Powerline observes:
One can only imagine how bad the Democrats’ polling must have been to cause such a hasty retreat. The Democrats had no one behind them except their most extremist supporters, like the New York Times.

He's not doing nothing

Good summary.

Western Swing II

Here's a series of videos from a Western Swing concert.

The Tide Pod President

The President said chloroquine was a promising enough treatment that, considering how widely used it had been for 70 years, was worth trying in hospitals by doctors.  Its limited side effects have been studied for a long time, so we're not going to kill anyone with it, whereas it might help some people who otherwise look extremely likely to die.

Therefore if a couple in Arizona saw him on TV, noticed that their aquarium cleaner had a similar active ingredient, and ate from 10-20x the maximum recommended experimental dose (news articles have been talking about max 500mg, whereas they each swallowed a teaspoon, which is nearly 5 grams or 4000 mg), clearly President Trump killed them with false hope.

The product was clearly labeled not for human consumption.  They chose a dose out of the clear blue sky.  They weren't even sick.  But the press is:  very sick.  This is a culture that will remove useful--even life-saving--products from the public sphere if unsupervised children of any age might hurt themselves by wildly misusing it.

Western Swing I

Some recommendations from Gringo. I'll put up Tom's in another post later.

Keep the recommendations coming and we'll do a series.

Destroying the Ring

That's going to be the big challenge.

Oxford: No Need to Panic

A new study from Oxford puts the hospitalization rate at about one in a thousand.


The French are doing it again.
France went into lockdown on March 17. The administrative state immediately generated an array of bureaucratic forms: a certificate to leave your house to walk the dog or go shopping; a certificate justifying your attendance at work rather than working from home. These certificates are to be carried on your person at all times and produced on demand by the authorities. As of this morning ‘confinement’ is being notched up again. Village and municipal food markets are to shut; leaving your house for shopping or exercise is limited to one hour and can take place no more than one kilometer from your home. The time of departure from your house is to be indicated on a certificate. Any infringement is to be punished by a minimum fine of €135 ($145), which rises to €1,500 ($1,615) for repeat offenders.
Our own experience is mostly that the right response to this business is to eliminate layers of government rather than adding them. Bureaucracy isn't helping, and it isn't helpful.

Effective presentation

I'm too disgusted to comment further.


I'm trying to figure out whether Majority Whip Clyburn (D.-S.C.) really told participants in a conference call: "This is a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.” It's widely reported on right-ish sites, but attributed only to an anonymous participant in the call. The fact-checking sites and CNN have never heard of it at all, not mentioning it in any way, even to dispute it. This makes my antenna creep up: wouldn't Snopes normally have issued either a flat denial, or at least a weak attempt to "put it in context"? Why doesn't Clyburn deny it? Are the press afraid even to ask him about it? There continue to be sporadic reports that the senators are "close to a deal." Pelosi is pounding the airwaves with the idea that Republicans are poisoning the stimulus package with pills. The rest of the country is howling about holding up relief checks for collective bargaining concessions, airline carbon emission limits, wind and solar subsidies, and corporate board gender quotas. The Pelosi poison-pill argument, when it's explained at all, has to do with insufficient "oversight" of bailouts to employers. That's an argument that could get some traction, unless "oversight" means things like corporate board gender quotas. President Trump strongly signaled that he'd like to see restrictions on using helicopter money to do stock buy-backs. Okay. I'm in about the position I was in when we were rushing through the 2008 "stimulus." I hoped at the time it would help and not hurt too much. To this day I don't really know. If Pelosi kills this one, I guess we'll see what it's like not to print money for a change, but there's going to have to be some serious relief for people holed up at home needing groceries and lacking paychecks or savings. Maybe not for a few weeks, but certainly if this goes on for months.

When You Can, Buy Ammo

A friend who has until now not been a gun owner bought a shotgun. It's a 2/3" chambered Mossberg. There's no ammunition for it, not nationwide.

Lay the stuff in when you can, again. It gets short fast.

The World Loves a Working Man

It is somewhat humbling, or ought to be, to realize that the world would be just fine if you stayed home for a month... or forever.

For Gringo

Et al.

We should do some Western Swing for a while. Hit the comments with recommendations.

Old Men

National Puppy Day

Normally I would not countenance foolishness like ‘national days’ (months, etc) of any kind, but just now I’m inclined to an exception in a good cause.

Good Morning, Ladies All

'Tis a fine morning in the springtime, all else aside. Don't forget it.

"I'm on your side, but you're not"

The inimitable Milton Friedman on sexual justice in labor pay.

Niche angst

A/k/a, per a commenter, the "exhausting theatre of pretending to be tortured by minor, everyday events." An exquisitely woke rumination from the Guardian: this is apparently what happens to people who don't want to do work they find distasteful and don't want to hire anyone else to do it, either. As another commenter said, "I'm beginning to think that our feminists don't really understand how labor markets work." But then again, who does?

Thinking outside the box

Crises bring out the MacGyver in us.

Manhattan Project, part II

We may not be able to "flatten the curve" fast enough, but we still have time to get serious about expanding the number of beds.

Kill all the lawyers

Okay, we can be nicer about it, let's just eliminate some of their ability to wreak havoc and gum up the works.  Part of Congress's emergency legislation eliminates tort liability for N95 masks provided to healthcare workers, thus freeing up manufacturers like 3M to start flooding the market with them.

There are some approaches to an emergency that don't have out-of-pocket costs.  Later we can argue over whether the fear of tort liability might have prevented a manufacturer from cutting corners.  Right now I just want to see the masks, and without the inevitable explanation that it will require months to grind through to the regulatory approval process.  It's time to mow some of these guys down, and that goes equally for the people looking to hit the jackpot if they wore a mask and it wasn't 100% effective in protecting them from every conceivable risk in life.

We're going to need the same approach to vaccines and other treatments.

Astra and dis-astra

"When beggars die there are no comets seen;
The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes."
It's not clear yet whether Comet ATLAS will put on a great show, so in the meantime here are some terrific Hubble shots of an interstellar comet, Borisov.

Socialized medicine: free, universal, and rationed

I continue to hope our unusual President will slash enough red tape to balloon supplies of things like ventilators in time to do some good.  In the meantime, we're getting a crash course in rationing by "triage officers" and in budget trade-offs.

I keep reading that the U.S. has fewer hospital beds per capita than many EU countries, even Italy.  The more important metric, however, may be ICU beds, where we're not doing so badly:  3 times as many as Italy, 5 times as many as the UK.  Nevertheless, New York is in for a rough ride, though I'm encouraged to see that they're whole-heartedly trying chloroquine and other promising antivirals, supplies of which so far appear to be holding up.