Lesser of two evils: death by virus or by recession

The United States is in the early stages of the pandemic of COVID-19 caused by the SARS-Cov-2 virus. As of this moment, there are 597,304 confirmed cases worldwide and 104,661 confirmed cases in the United States alone. Today, the number of cases in the United States grew to the point that there are now more cases in the United States than in any other country. Of course, we do not know if this is accurate, and suspect that it isn’t, because there are very likely many people, in many countries, who are infected but have not been tested. There is a growing movement, especially among republicans, to weigh the potential harm caused by the virus and the harm caused by slowing the economy (because of people sheltering in place, closed restaurants and other businesses). A friend brought this up to me recently, calling attention to a quote in the movie The Big Short: every 1% unemployment goes up, 40,000 people die. It got me thinking…as most things do.

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Quarantined

My family has been voluntarily quarantined for six days. My wife was frightened by the novel coronavirus first. We thought she was crazy, and made fun of her, but I soon was infected by her fear. At first I was just trying to be a good husband, and help present a united front for our kids, so they’d fall in line, but after some easy math, I got worried also. I hope I’m wrong. I hope this ends faster than we fear. I hope it takes fewer lives than I fear. I hope for all those things. I am, to a fault sometimes, a man of hope. But I’m afraid.

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The Thing About Biden

Full disclosure, I’m planning to vote for Joe Biden in the New York Primary and I hope to vote for him again in November. I won’t think twice about voting for Sanders in November if he wins the nomination. But I cannot ignore the thing about Biden: that he’s getting old and he’s not as quick as he once was. He stumbles on simple sentences. He makes mistakes as he speaks. He garbles words and can’t recall phrases that I bet he’s known his whole life. He’s getting old and he’s not as quick as he once was. But…

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Thursday reflections on Super Tuesday

Super Tuesday was this week and the results were a bit of a shock to the system. Biden’s momentum is strong and his win in South Carolina over the weekend and the new endorsements from his former opponents gave him a big boost in some key states. It was a bit of a tide change, and I’m not sure this shows up better than if we look at the betting odds for the nomination.

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Space Force (and roses called other things)

One of the places where I tend to disagree with other liberals is the defense budget. Attacking defense spending is a common hobby for many liberals. I get the appeal. I don’t like spending astronomical sums of money for the purpose of killing people. It doesn’t sit well with me. But what I’ve come to realize is that the defense budget is so much more than a killing budget. It’s a convenient way for Congress to allocate money to things we need, as a nation, but can’t convince many voters (or even Members of Congress) to support otherwise. How do some countries fight unemployment? They hire lots of people to work for the government. We do that too, through the military. Want to provide education and job training and healthcare for millions of Americans…put money for education and job training and healthcare into the Department of Defense budget and consider it done. Want to spend money on biomedical research, on materials research, on computing research, on all kinds of research…put money into the Department of Defense budget and consider it done.

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Dreams of the future: what happened?

I have fond memories of emerging technology from my childhood. I remember listening, in awe, as my father put a pair of headphones on me and played a track from Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma with wonderful sounds clearly coming from the left and right, and a bee buzzing in one ear and not the other. I remember my father getting a car phone. Not a mobile phone, not a cell phone, but a car phone. Hard-wired into the car, with a pigtail antenna fixed to the back window and wired through the car to the phone in the center console. We watched the Jetsons and longed for the days when a robot would cook for us, clean for us, and make our lives easier. We had this vision of a world in which automation and technology let us sit by the pool and sip margaritas that a robot would make and bring to us with a tiny umbrella. What we never imagined is that the robots would take away the pool also.

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Quick thoughts on impeachment

I’m a bit pressed for time, but wanted to vent about a couple of things before I have to run. I heard somebody on the news this morning say that the impeachment situation is a lot like the viral dress picture that had America fighting over color. There were true perceptual differences in how it was seen, and that may be the case here, but I can’t help but be incredibly frustrated by the way that people (both republicans and democrats) are talking about things.

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