Today’s Photo Challenge might be a downer, compared to the other posts that I have been reading. My apologies, but the examples of communication below are what I have been noticing around me since about February of this year. The Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic has adversely affected pretty much everyone in the world. Countries, especially in Africa and Asia, that were already in poverty have been reduced to even worse poverty, as the result of the widespread government shutdowns of their economies. The United States, perhaps the world’s most successful country, coming off of three years of exploding economic growth and record-low unemployment, was knocked, in a very short time, into the depths of recession, when state governors basically shut down their economies, throwing millions of Americans out of work all at once. What does this say about America?
I was alerted to this new (?) stance by the All-Powerful World Health Organization, warning countries NOT to lock down their economies to fight the Wuhan Coronavirus. Funny, when I checked, the WHO first indicated that lockdowns are a bad idea, way back in May! Yes, that’s in MAY!!
Funny, in April, the WHO was urging countries not to “lift lockdowns too soon”!!! So, in April they are all for lockdowns, and extending those lockdowns. In May, they urge countries not to look at lockdowns as the “magic bullet” to stop the virus.
Today, a high WHO official finally recognizes that lockdowns are more devastating than the virus itself, and should not be used. The link above is from the US newspaper of record, USA Today. Other publications also are carrying this very important story.
So, when will Government Dictators notice this and disavow the use of lockdowns and business closures to fight the virus? When will Dictators like Governors Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Jay Inslee of Washington, and Gavin Newsom of California start listening to the Authorities that They have been using to set their own policy? When will Facebook and Twitter stop censoring their users who have been fighting lockdowns for months? When? When? When?
This past week, I was invited by the Curtis Institute of Music, one of the world’s premier music conservatories, to watch a movie about the people who make bows used by string-instrument players. Specifically, the movie profiled bow makers who live right in my neck of the woods (the Pacific Northwest), in and around Port Townsend, Washington. It is wonderful! In fact, the movie will be streaming through October 11, and you can get tickets here if you wish to watch it. Highly recommended.
It was exciting to meet the bow makers, whom I had heard of but did not know much about. We were treated to tours of the workshops, and stories about bow makers Charles Espey, Robert Morrow, Paul Siefried, Ole Kanestrom, and Cody Kowalski in Port Townsend; and Noel Burke in Portland. Then, it was off to Paris to visit Stephane Thomachot and his daughter Josephine, both bow makers!
I was actually very pleased to learn also about the wood that the best bows are made of, called Pernambuco. The movie gave some history of that wood; starting from the 1500s, Portuguese explorers who discovered what is now Brazil, bringing back with them some of the logs, which have a heartwood center that became the source of an excellent red dye, in addition to wood for stringed instrument bows. The strength of that wood allowed bow makers to make them in a new design, so that they could produce better sound from the newly-invented metal strings.
The movie also profiled chamber groups Brooklyn Rider, and the Dover Quartet, its members commenting on their bows. Our local makers have a great reputation!
Above are pictures of a pau-brasil tree, and a log cross-section, showing the red heartwood. In the past, loggers in Brazil cut down too many trees, nearly decimating the forests, and the wood for bows, so that the tree was declared endangered. This caused much consternation within the string-instrument community, as everyone was worried that the best bow-wood might no longer be available. The movie showed that there are local organizations who are re-planting these trees, and keeping the new forests safe, so there will be wood for today’s, and tomorrow’s fine bow-makers to use. We also were introduced to a couple of youth orchestras, where the players come from peasant backgrounds, learning to play music that may take them far outside their home territory. The kids had fun, and were very good.
I myself have a beautiful pernambuco-wood bow, made by a Port Townsend-resident bow-maker, Christopher English. It is beautiful, and draws great sound from my David VanZandt violin. I consider myself very lucky to have it.
So, get your tickets now, and go online to see the movie The Bowmakers. You will love it!
The title of the KOMO story is “State has Fined 11 Businesses over Covid-19 Mask Mandate.
In my opinion, this is pure, unadulterated EVIL. Here is a quote from the article:
The state Department of Labor & Industries said Wednesday in a news release that Mail Express Business Center in Enumclaw got the largest fine at $7,500 four four violations.
Investigators determined customers and employees there were not wearing masks, the report says and no signs were posted about the mandate.
According to L&I, the owner told investigators she did not enforce masking because, “she did not want to be an unpaid agent of the government.”
Emphasis above is mine. That business owner deserves a medal, and someone should start a defense fund for her, to pay that fine.
Liberty Dies in Washington State
By now, everyone in the world knows that both President Donald Trump and his gorgeous First Lady Melania Trump both tested positive for the Wuhan Coronavirus earlier in the week, and are now in the hospital undergoing treatment. The 24-hour news cycle has been covering their situation nonstop, with the usual suspects behaving as expected.
Well, sort of. The ugly Twitterverse is generating its expected wishes for the president to die a horrible death, and the Ladies of The Squad are mourning Twitter’s removal of “Hate Tweets” (that Twitter has said they don’t allow anyway).
On the other side, it seems that Arch-Leftist Rachel Maddow and dementia-suffering candidate Joe Biden have both wished the President well. Out of character, but welcome.
The President’s good health habits are standing him in good stead, and the fact that he does not smoke or drink alcohol means it will be easier for him to fight off the virus; he has released two videos already, and he seems to be doing very well. He and Melania are in my prayers today, and always. May they recover quickly and return to the campaign trail, in this momentous election.
This should be encouraging, and I’m sure President Trump is watching this on his TV.
Bid Welcome to our Guest Writer for today, Ricochet Member OmegaPaladin. I am very impressed with his essay on what he would do if he were the CDC Director. My sentiments exactly!
I would start by taking the various department heads in a room to get my point across: Professionalism and competence earn respect. At the beginning of the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic, 80% of people in the US trusted the CDC for information on the pandemic. It is now near 50% and falling. If the CDC is not trusted by the American people to provide advice on a pandemic, what is its purpose? (aside from paying bureaucrats)
The CDC must be a conservative organization. One of Conquest’s laws of politics is that any organization that is not explicitly conservative will become liberal over time, so the CDC must be conservative. What this means in practice is a presumption against restricting people’s freedom. People need to take risks and determine what is safe. We give them information so that they can make an informed decision. When we practice quarantine and lockdown measures, it should be treated like going to war or invoking martial law – never done lightly.
It also means following the constitution. We do not legislate, we advise the President and the American public. We are not a check on the President, we report to him. If you feel you are being pressured to do something wrong, come talk to me. If it is merited, I will take it up the chain of command to the President. If it truly a horrible scenario, I’ll resign and take it to the media. People put on a uniform and sacrifice their lives for our country. Sacrificing my salary is nothing compared to that.
The CDC also needs to focus on our mission. We exist to be our country’s experts on epidemiology and infectious disease control. That is the priority for funding and manpower. We should move NIOSH to the NIH, and avoid duplicating functions in other agencies. We should work with the State Department to arrange for foreign postings associated with embassies for health surveillance. Also, work with the Director of National Intelligence and National Security Council to establish a Pandemic Covert Surveillance group that has clearance to view intelligence data and provide expertise to the intelligence community. We should not rely on WHO or the health agencies of closed authoritarian societies to let us know what is actually happening. If we get bad data, we will give bad information to the President, and Americans might die needlessly.
The CDC needs to massively overhaul communications with the public. Always use understandable language, do not lie, and be willing to say if you are not sure. Only use technical terms if you define them. If we make a recommendation on limited data, make sure we qualify that. Also, make sure to speak to agencies that have an audience. If you can’t talk about a critical public health concern on Fox News or whatever program that is hostile to your beliefs, find another job – they pay your salary, not me. The point of agencies like us is to be trusted by people across the political spectrum, so we need to stick to the facts and remain professional.
We need to maintain scientific integrity to rebuild our reputation. If we change our recommendations, explain why. Be able to trace your findings to the scientific literature. Stay away from the various subjective social justice arguments. If we refuse to stick to biological facts and objective reality, people will stop caring what we say. For that reason, we will focus on physical sex as opposed to gender identification, since pathogens do not care about what we say or believe. Anyone who provides information to the public without a scientific basis will be disciplined – if it was to support your political biases, then put your resume in order. If gatherings are hazardous, then a peaceful march for your favorite cause is just as hazardous as a torch and pitchforks lynch mob. Pathogens do not care, so our recommendations should have no favoritism.
Reputations take ages to build, but can be lost in an instant. If we do our jobs right, people will benefit from our expertise, and live longer more productive lives. And that is what it is all about.
Now, go make this happen, and don’t forget to wash your hands.
On our South Dakota trip, we spent a pleasant afternoon at the Mammoth Site, near the town of Hot Springs. For some reason, we thought that there were probably few people at the Hot Springs that day. Here’s why.
That’s what WeatherBug told me.
We were very pleasantly surprised to find that the site of the archaeological dig that revealed a huge number of bones of Ice-Age Mammoths, was entirely indoors. The group that found the site, back in the 1950s, simply built a building around the entire site, which was a sink-hole in prehistoric times, trapping animal after animal when they fell into the warm pond when trying to drink. Here’s a description of what happened.
Here’s what the inside of the building looked like. I was impressed with the sheer beauty of the laminated-wood beams that spanned the building. Aside from being an archaeological marvel, the building is an engineering marvel, too. Archaeologists and volunteers who go there to help excavate all the fossils can do their work in air-conditioned comfort!
In my graduate studies in Psychology, one unit we studied was “interpersonal attractiveness”. The professors at my university had done numerous studies of what makes a person attractive. They asked thousands of study subjects to rate photographs of various people, male and female, young and old. There are many dimensions to attractiveness, and different people see different features as attractive. But the one feature that they discovered, that was a constant, was Symmetry, especially facial symmetry. Someone with a more-symmetrical face, no features out of balance, was seen as more attractive by most subjects. So it appears that humans are hard-wired to seek out symmetry in their mates, and dates. And this might explain the symmetry that the Classical architects sought in their buildings.
Have you ever seen a house with a worse color? This one just popped up in my neighborhood. Yuck!
I have been retired for about three weeks now. The first almost two weeks were spent on vacation, so they almost don’t count. Here is a list of the many things I will not miss about my last job (I was there for 12 years).
- Punching a time-clock. After much of a career as a salaried employee, I was hourly at my last job. That time-clock represented an absence of trust by my employer that he would get a full day’s work out of me. The worst part of it was that if I wanted to take vacation, I had to submit my request on the time clock, and it was a big pain in the patootie.
- Daily “standup meetings”. My group was forced to justify our work every day, even on Mondays when we had not yet run our workbenches, which told us what needed to be ordered that week. Many of the “past due” items on our benches were way out of our control, also. I felt like a third-grader being called on by the teacher.
- Driver Measures, and Action Plans.
- The PO Burndown Spreadsheet, where we had to register that we had ordered something, requiring double work for each order placed. And, after the first six months of the new management, that spreadsheet was mostly current and we couldn’t be held to account for things beyond our control.
- Cancel and pushout messages. Our customers were canceling their orders right and left, and our lives were a mess with continually pushing out orders that had already been pushed out once or twice.
- Expedite messages, especially for orders that had just been pushed out.
- The “guest network” that kicked me out whenever my device went to sleep, so I had to log back on every time it woke up.
- No “personal folders” in Microsoft Outlook. Before the company was sold, I had extensive personal folders where I would file emails on particular issues. If I wanted to know which engineer was responsible for an issue, I just had to go to my folder for the supplier and search, and find what I needed. The new parent company forbid personal folders, so I was always short of information. Very frustrating.
- Having to put on my mask whenever I got up from my desk, even to walk the 10 steps to the printer and back. The factory had been Covid-free since April.
- Spiders. One of the engineers’ desk was on my walking route to the stock room, and she kept three plastic spiders at the edge of her desk, where I had to look at them every time I passed the desk. I hate spiders, so that did not improve my mood.
- Constant background noise, from always-running HVAC equipment, and intermittent machine noise. In 2015 the factory did a complete remodel, tearing down internal walls and bringing big screw-machines and metal-punching machines out into the open. This increased the ambient noise level dramatically, and management never believed the employees when they said the noise was bothersome. Their answer: Wear your noise-canceling headphones. Many of us did that, but it decreased situational awareness and made us more-distant from our coworkers.
- A certain bald head. The owner of that head was the cause of many resignations from our group, but not mine. And I will not miss it one bit.