Apr 05 2020

Virtual Tourism

Been watching a lot of Gold Rush.

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Not enough Open Prairie?

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Over Wyoming? I don’t think I’ll ever get over Wyoming.

Apr 05 2020

Pondering the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Pondering the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

On Sunday mornings we present a preview of the guests on the morning talk shows so you can choose which ones to watch or some do something more worth your time on a Sunday morning.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

The Sunday Talking Heads:

This Week with George Stephanopolis: The guests on Sunday’s “This Week” are: Secretary of Defense Mark Esper; former Vice President and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden; ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton; former Trump Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Adviser Tom Bossert; Community Oriented Correctional Health Services Dr. Homer Venters; and Co-Founder and Senior Advisor of New Yorkers United for Justice Topeka K. Sam.

The roundtable guests are: Former Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ); and former Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D-Chicago).

Face the Nation: Host Margaret Brennan’s guests are:Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; James Bullard, CEO of St. Louis Federal Reserve; Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health; Dr. Luana Marques, president of Anxiety and Depression Association of America; and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the FDA.

Meet the Press with Chuck Todd: The guests on this week’s “MTP” are: Dr. Jerome Adams, Surgeon General; Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA); Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR); Prime Minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conte; and author Michael Lewis.

The panel guests are: Helene Cooper, New York Times correspondent; Kasie Hunt, MSNBC correspondent; and former Gov. Pat McCrory (R-NC).

State of the Union with Jake Tapper: Mr. Tapper’s guests are: Secretary of Defense Mark Esper; Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-LA); Gov. J. B. Pritzker (D-IL); and House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-SC).

Apr 04 2020

Daily Nightly (Vintage)

 
Donald Trump: Change We Can Believe In | The Daily Social Distancing Show


 
Sweatpants of Glory | The Daily Social Distancing Show

 
There IS Crying in Baseball…And Everywhere Else | Full Frontal on TBS

 
How Trump and Kushner Failed on Testing and Ventilators: A Closer Look

 
Amy Poehler Doesn’t Remember the Plot of Parks and Recreation

 
“Tiger King” Joe Exotic Speaks Out From Jail

 

Apr 04 2020

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Gazette‘s Health and Fitness News weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

These are trying time to say the least. We are all concerned about our health and safety and that of our families and friends in the face of an enemy we can’t see.

There is also a lot of confusing information mostly coming from an incompetent federal administration. We know the need to limit our travel and stay home as much as possible and keep our distance from each other, especially when out in public or around our older citizens. Washing our hands for twenty seconds and not touching our faces is critically important to keeping ourselves from getting infected.

But recently there has been some debate about the effectiveness of wearing a homemade face mask when out in public or around vulnerable people. The most effective mask against the CoVid-19 virus is the N95 mask that is impossible to get and are being reserved for our front line warriors, first responders, doctors, nurses and hospital staff. A surgical mask is the next best thing but not as good as the N95 and also not available to the general public. So the general public is being advised by the administration to wear a scarf which is basically ineffective against the virus. It should not give people the false security that they can ignore the rules we know work best.

The question now is what to do and how does one make a face mask, even if you don’t have a sewing machine? Fortunately, there are a lot of innovative folks out there who have made some excellent videos on how to make a mask.

This one came recommended by the Center for Communicable Diseases since if uses easy acquired material from you local hardware or grocery store, HEPA filter vacuum bags. They are OSHA approved to filter out 99.97% of airborne particle matter. The video, which was made by a South Korean resident, uses material that may not be readily available in the United States.

There are lots of other videos that give directions for folks who are crafty and have a sewing machine, just search You Tube for “homemade face masks.”

Stay healthy and stay safe.

Apr 04 2020

Our Current War

At the turn of the 20th Century there was a huge struggle between two Industrial Titans over the fundamental nature of our Electrical Power Grid. There’s a new movie with Benedict Cumberbatch now available on PPV but I think I’ll wait until it gets posted on Netflix or HBO (waiting on Ford vs. Ferrari too).

I used to be a great admirer of Thomas Edison. I’ve visited his re-created Menlo Park Complex at Greenfield Village Michigan. I thought the story of a practically deaf kid growing up to be the inventor of the Phonograph (Voice of the Pharaohs, extremely simple and not too fussy construction, do have to understand how Air Pressure is related to Sound) inspiring and you know, Light Bulbs. Isn’t that the universal symbol of a brilliant idea?

And even the Light Bulb story is inspiring. It was mostly a failure (also not entirely original- but please, call it research).

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.

So you can see why Henry Ford, “Inventor” of the Production Line and noted Anti-Semite liked him.

Not that I’m implying Edison was an Anti-Semite, he was an asshole in a whole bunch of other ways which were prominently on display in the struggle between him and General Electric on the one hand and George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla (who he could have been nice to, he started out working for Edison and instead Edison was a dick and stole all his stuff, didn’t give him a dime, and then fired him when he complained about it) over Direct and Alternating Current.

Alternating Current is clearly superior in terms of distance of Transmission but Edison was looking to force the market to buy General Electric Power Plants for practically every Street corner and if you still think this is a good idea consider living next to a building that spouts clouds of toxic fumes 24/7.

Everywhere. Seriously. If you wanted Electricity you would have to live within a mile or two.

Cheap (Free) Electricity was something of an obsession with Tesla and his great unfinished project was to achieve Wireless Transmission which is technically possible but not Economically viable.

This isn’t a review, haven’t seen it, but Clio.

Apr 04 2020

Too Soon To Tell

I dunno, do you think the development of fire was good for the Chinese people?

Apr 04 2020

The Breakfast Club (Ain’t No Sunshine)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

This Day in History

Martin Luther King Jr. is assasinated; President William Henry Harrison dies; Hank Aaron hits 714th career home run; Maya Angelou is born.

Breakfast Tunes

Bill Withers July 4, 1938 – March 30, 2020

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

The lesson is that you can still make mistakes and be forgiven.

Robert Downey, Jr.

Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 03 2020

Priorities

Here they are.

Our country is now facing its worst crisis in modern history. We are in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic that could lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans and infect millions of others, and we are entering an economic downturn that could be worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s.

In this unprecedented moment in modern American history, it is imperative that we respond in an unprecedented way. That means that Congress must pass, in the very near future, the boldest piece of legislation ever written in modern history.

There are many, many issues that must be addressed in our response to this pandemic, and working together, we will make sure they are addressed.

1. Addressing the Employment Crisis and Providing Immediate Financial Relief

Last week, 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment. This week that number doubled to 6.6 million claims — 10 times higher than any other week on record. It is certain that well over 10 million people have lost their jobs — more than in the Wall Street crash of 2008.

There is little doubt that we are facing an economic crisis that could be even worse than the Great Depression. The St. Louis Federal Reserve has projected that 47 million people may become unemployed by the end of June, with unemployment reaching 32 percent. We must make sure that every worker in America continues to receive their paycheck during this crisis and we must provide immediate financial relief to everyone in this country.

  • Keep workers on payroll. Just as other countries have, including the UK, Norway, and Denmark, we must make sure that every worker in America continues to receive their paycheck during this crisis, retroactive to the beginning of the crisis. An important precedent for that approach was taken in the recent stimulus package in which grants were provided to the airlines for the sole purpose of maintaining the paychecks and benefits of some 2 million workers in that industry through September 30th.
  • Monthly direct payments of $2,000 every person in the country. We must provide direct, recurring, monthly payments to every person in the country, regardless of income, tax filing, or immigration status. That means reaching every person in the United States, including the undocumented, the homeless, the unbanked, and young adults excluded from the CARES ACT.
  • Guarantee paid medical and sick leave to all workers. Anyone who is sick or who needs to stay home should be able to stay home during this emergency and receive their paycheck. At a time when half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck and must go to work in order to take care of their family, we do not want to see people going to work who are sick and can spread the coronavirus. This is especially important for hourly workers who may not have sufficient — or any — paid sick days to avoid coming into work when feeling ill.
  • Hazard pay for essential and frontline workers. Workers who are on the front lines of this crisis – including those who work in grocery stores, nurses, warehouse workers, paramedics, pharmacy workers, farmworkers, food processing workers, truck drivers, postal workers, delivery drivers, and janitors – must be provided hazard pay, child care, and safe working conditions. Essential state and municipal workers, such as sanitation workers and transit workers, will receive hazard pay as well, to ensure states and cities have the personnel they need to fight this crisis.
  • Guarantee funding parity for the territories, tribes, and DC. We must ensure funding parity for all health and economic coronavirus relief programs.
  • Guarantee these programs to everyone in this country, regardless of immigration status. The coronavirus does not differentiate based on immigration status and our economic and health response must not either. Guaranteeing all residents the assistance they need makes us safer, stronger, and is the morally right thing to do.

2. We Must Guarantee Health Care to All

Let’s be clear: we were facing a catastrophic health care crisis before the pandemic, and now that crisis has become much, much worse. Already, 87 million people are uninsured or underinsured. Layoffs will mean tens of millions of people more will lose their current insurance, which will result in countless deaths and bankruptcies. Already in the last two weeks, an estimated 3.5 million people have lost their employer-sponsored insurance.

And as the pandemic grows, we are seeing more and more reports of people who have delayed treatment due to concerns about cost. In this pandemic, uninsurance will lead to deaths and more COVID-19 transmissions.

  • Use Medicare to cover all health care expenses. Medicare must be empowered to pay all of the deductibles, co-payments and out-of-pocket healthcare expenses for the uninsured and the underinsured. No one in America who is sick, regardless of immigration status, should be afraid to seek the medical treatment they need during this national pandemic.

3. Use the Defense Production Act to Produce the Equipment and Testing We Need

Unbelievably, in the United States right now, doctors and nurses are unnecessarily putting their lives on the line treating people suffering from the coronavirus because they lack personal protective equipment like masks, gloves, and surgical gowns. The CDC has directed health professionals to use homemade gear like bandanas or scarves, and some workers at the VA are being told to re-use one surgical mask for a week at a time. HHS estimated that our country needs 3.5 billion masks in response to this crisis. We must protect our frontline health care workers and immediately take all measures necessary to manufacture and distribute all the protective equipment, tests, and medical supplies that we need.

  • Immediately and forcefully use the Defense Production Act to direct the production of all of the personal protective equipment, ventilators and other medical supplies needed. President Trump has utilized the Defense Production Act thousands of times for the military and for enforcement of his immigration policies, yet he has resisted using its power to save lives during the pandemic. That is unacceptable. We must also use this authority to produce antibody tests so we can begin figuring out who has already contracted the virus and has developed some immunity to COVID-19.
  • Safety standards for health care workers. OSHA must adopt a strong emergency standard to protect health care workers, patients, and the public during this crisis.
  • Crack down aggressively on price gougers and hoarders, and use any means necessary to secure supplies. Companies and individuals who are using this crisis as an opportunity to turn a profit at the expense of human lives and public safety will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

4. Make Sure No One Goes Hungry

Even before this crisis hit, one in every seven kids in America was going hungry and nearly 5.5 million seniors in our country struggled with hunger. Already in this crisis we see lines at food banks and growing concern that our most vulnerable communities and those recently unemployed may struggle to feed their families. We must ensure we are getting food to the most vulnerable in our communities and guarantee no person goes hungry during this crisis.

  • Increase SNAP benefits and expand SNAP and WIC. As communities face record levels of food insecurity, we must increase SNAP benefits, expand eligibility, and expand the WIC program for pregnant mothers, infants, and children.
  • Expand the Emergency Food Program. Double funding for the Emergency Food Program (TEFAP) to ensure food banks have food to distribute.
  • Expand Meals on Wheels and school meals programs. Where necessary, we must also develop new approaches to deliver food to vulnerable populations — including door-to-door drop offs.

5. Provide Emergency Aid to States and Cities

Even as state and local employees like police officers, firefighters and paramedics work on the front lines of this pandemic, states and cities that pay their salaries are facing enormous budgetary pressures. The costs of fighting the coronavirus combined with a drop in tax revenue for states and municipalities due to social distancing measures and economic conditions threaten to leave our states and cities without the resources they need to respond to this pandemic. We must provide federal support for states and municipalities to weather this crisis.

  • Direct fiscal aid to states and cities. Congress must provide $600 billion in direct fiscal aid to states and cities to ensure they have the personnel and funding necessary to respond to this crisis.
  • The Federal Reserve must support states and municipalities. The Federal Reserve must establish programs to provide direct fiscal support and budgetary relief to states and municipalities.

6. Suspend Monthly Payments

Even before this crisis, half of the people in our country were living paycheck to paycheck. In America today, over 18 million families are paying more than 50 percent of their income on housing. Now, with growing unemployment, families are facing financial ruin if we do not act quickly and boldly.

  • Suspend monthly expenses like rent, mortgage payments, medical debt, and consumer debt collection for four months. We must ensure that these payments are not deferred, coming due as soon as the emergency is lifted, but completely suspended.
  • Cancel all student loan payments for the duration of this crisis. More than 45 million Americans struggle with $1.6 trillion in student debt. We must lift this burden and cancel student debt payments for the duration of this crisis. Long-term, we must cancel all student debt and make public colleges, universities, and trade schools tuition free and debt free.
  • Place an immediate moratorium on evictions, foreclosures, and utility shut-offs. No one should lose their home during this crisis and everyone must have access to clean water, electricity, heat and air conditioning. And we must restore utility services to any customers who have had their utilities shut off.

Thems fightin’ words.

(h/t Atrios “Pass This (Or Equivalent) Or We’re Hosed”)

Ok, it’s an equivalent title but my head is still with Bob and Doug, eh?

Apr 03 2020

Panic Buying

Well, not quite yet. I’ve been able to restrain the impulse so far but Amazon sales are skyrocketing and that’s not necessarily a good thing. They treat their employees like crap and are driving Mom & Pops out of business faster than Sam Walton.

Don’t bother looking for gloves and masks, they’re out.

Apr 03 2020

Forget Everything You Know About Money

Of course it’s about MMT.

Ok, so this is a new source, and not a Nobel Prize winning Economist or former Secretary of Labor so I’ve had to review a sampling of material and while I’m not in 100% agreement it’s no worse than Samuelson (with whom I’m also not in 100% agreement nor any of the previously mentioned sources) and he has a very reassuring Aussie accent that makes everything seem more credible.

As far as I can discern at the moment you don’t need to exercise more than the ordinary amount of skepticism.

Part of it is perspective. The United States has the luxury of being the World’s Reserve Currency and there are no proximate rivals. Oh sure, Euros and Rials and Yuan, oh my! As is correctly explained, the primary value of currency is it can be exchanged for goods and services and the US$ is practically universally accepted and no one else is even close.

So it sucks to be paid in AU$ (of course it means Australia, Austria uses the Euro and before that Reichsmarks) or CA$ (How ’bout a Beer, eh?) unless the exchange rates are good which points up an important frequently overlooked aspect of Modern Monetary Theory (though he does get the Tax thing right), that internal Inflation for local Economic Inputs (or you can call them Resources) is meaningless from a Macroeconomic standpoint. Inflation is meaningful if you are competing for External Resources.

Again, World’s Reserve Currency. Mohammed bin Salman is not going to refuse to cut a deal, especially at these prices and the whole point is to make Fracking unprofitable- we’re also the World’s Largest Oil Producer (Yup, bigger than the House of Saud by 3 Million Barrels in 2019).

Of course if it costs more than $20 to get out of the ground you can’t make any money.

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