Masketology down the East Coast

What happens when a society that is so organized and detail-oriented that it needs to buy all of its integrated circuits from Taiwan, China, Japan, and Korea (and stop making cars when those countries can’t meet demand) tries to use facemasks to stop a deadly respiratory virus? Here’s a report on a trip by small plane from Maine to Florida at the end of August 2021.

(Note that cloth facemasks worn by the general public completely failed in a randomized controlled trial and surgical mask usage achieved only an 11-percent reduction in coronaplague levels (hailed as a huge success by #Science!).)

The trip began with a JetBlue flight from PBI to BOS. For maximum COVID-19 safety, every seat was occupied. The atmosphere was similar to a Hollywood portrayal of a prison galley, with flight attendants constantly hassling passengers regarding (1) where they stood while waiting for the bathroom, and (2) the extent to which they were wearing a mask. All masks came off at roughly the same time, naturally, when the same flight attendants served drinks and snacks to everyone at the same time.

Maskachusetts towns and cities were just in the process of reimposing mask orders (“In Fauci and vaccines we trust, but not enough to de-mask.”)

Despite the sign, mask usage was about 50 percent among customers and staff at a tire shop where I was trying to nurse our 2007 Infiniti far enough to be sold. In a tightly packed diner, none of the customers wore masks #BecauseEatingAndDrinking

In addition to masks, the USPS in Watertown was relying on the Plexi barriers that #Science now says are worthless:

While waiting in line, I observed that most customers and postal workers would lean around the partition in order to communicate clearly.

To avoid the remains of Hurricane Ida and general areas of thunderstorms down the coast, I started south by heading north, to Bar Harbor, Maine. Hancock County is now under an indoor mask order, but the local businesses are not necessarily complying. One shop door says “Your mask, your decision.” (fighting words to a California voter!) Other shops had out of date signs, e.g., one regarding a May 24, 2021 mask order rescission.

Acadia National Park told people to wash hands with soap and water, but despite the $6 trillion annual federal budget, there are no bathrooms available (sometimes outhouses) where these instructions could be followed. (Florida, by contrast, seems to have government-run usually-clean bathrooms everywhere that tourists might visit.) I like the primary focus on government employee welfare: “Help keep rangers and other visitors healthy.” Visitor health is important, but ranger health is #1. Except for a few Asians, I didn’t see anyone on the (crowded) trails wearing masks.

Eventually a high pressure system moved in and it was time to depart from my friend’s oceanfront quarantine facility. President Biden has ordered that all airports enforce mask usage. At least the national FBO chains have interpreted this to include facilities for private aircraft. I don’t want to rat out specific FBOs for fear that the Federal Virtue Enforcement Agency will come after them, but at small airports the effect of this order is nil. At the biggest airports, the corporate overlords’ influence is stronger, especially on the behind-the-desk customer service reps. There are expensively-printed banners reminding everyone to follow Biden’s orders. Here’s a picture cropped to hide the FBO chain’s name:

The “line guys” (almost always it is people identifying as “men” who wish to work outdoors in temps ranging from -10 F to +105 F and winds up to 50 knots) don’t bother with masks indoors or out. If you’re driving a truck filled with 2,000 gallons of jet fuel, maybe you don’t spend a lot of time worrying about a virus?

What actually happens, though, when the corporate overlords follow Dr. Joe Biden, M.D. and impose a mask requirement? At the biggest FBO where I stopped (name withheld to protect the guilty from the U.S. Marshalls), all of the non-line employees sported masks… under the chin or under the nose. To be fair, there was one employee, perhaps age 40 and looking slender/healthy, who wore a mask properly over her nose and mouth. She was training a new hire at a distance of about 1.5′ (feet, not meters). Every time that she spoke, in order to make sure that the new hire understood, she would pull the mask away from her face.

How about at Great Falls, Virginia? Population growth via immigration plus the growth of government spending pushing the D.C.-area population higher has resulted in 30-minute lines to get into the parking lot (except when the park is entirely closed due to the parking lot being full). Out of an abundance of caution, the taxpayer-funded visitor center has been closed for 1.5 years. People will need to get their COVID-19 at the retail stores that are open all around the park, rather than in the park itself.

How about President Biden’s order that masks be worn whenever people are outdoors in federal parks, but not well-spaced? Is there more respect for this than what we found in the Everglades back in April? At Great Falls, the order was ignored by roughly 90 percent of visitors (who numbered 1000+). See below for some of the Mask Righteous. One is unmasked, but has put a mask on his toddler (see Wright Brothers on the science of COVID-19 for a discussion of how it can make sense for one household member to wear a mask when on an excursion, but not everyone). The slender young person has has ventured beyond the fence to the edge of the gorge, swollen to near-historic levels by Hurricane Ida. He/she/ze/they will be coronavirus-free before joining the dozens who have drowned in the past 20 years at Great Falls:

At a coffee shop in North Carolina, only about 1 in 25 customers were masked. My friend has been a righteous Facebook denouncer of Trump and a supporter of Biden, masks, and lockdowns, but he did not voluntarily wear a mask inside the crowded counter service shop.

At an FBO in Georgia, still fighting the transmission-via-surfaces war (#SalvationViaLysol):

This is walking distance to Southern Soul Barbeque, where I defended against COVID-19 in the traditional American manner, i.e., consuming plenty of fried okra and hush puppies. Why bother to lose weight when confronted with a virus that kills the obese when instead one can rely on government orders to don cloth face coverings?

Here’s the Shuttle Landing Facility to prove that I made it to Florida:

Biden mask order compliance was actually higher in Florida than in the other states, with one indoor FBO employee wearing a mask at my destination (“1 out of 20 ain’t bad”!). Mask usage outside the airport, e.g., at supermarkets, was much higher than in other states, despite not being required. Of course, this could be partly due to the fact that Florida was just getting over a COVID-19 hospitalization surge:

The peak was towards the end of August. Now that I look at this chart, one thing that is interesting is how easy it is to convince Americans to panic. Florida was portrayed as a disaster area by the media and I was cautioned by multiple friends and family members not to go near this Land of Death in which they were running out of places to stack the dead bodies. At the very height of the recent plague, roughly 17,000 people were in the hospital in Florida with a COVID-19 positive PCR test. The state is home to nearly 22 million people, however. So a person who had 150 friends still had a 90 percent probability of not knowing anyone who was in the hospital for/with COVID-19. (Take the probability that a friend is not in the hospital and then multiply that by itself 150 times):

type “(1-17000/22e6)^150” into Wolfram Alpha if you want to check.)

A country that spends 20 percent of GDP on health care, in other words, purportedly can’t cope with 1 in 1,300 people needing hospital care for a respiratory virus (actually perhaps closer to 1 in 2,000 since “COVID-19 hospitalizations” in the U.S. include people who are there for some other reason and test positive for an asymptomatic coronavirus infection). Maybe this is true, in which case we might want to ask what we’re getting for our $4 trillion per year (Bloomberg does). But more likely it is false, especially in light of the fact that hospital care for COVID-19 is probably not any better than home care (nytimes).

I stopped in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Virginia (Dulles and Roanoke), North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. In not a single place did I see a group of Americans wearing masks consistently and correctly, despite, at least at the airports, presidential orders that they do so and, in many cases, local orders that masks be worn.

(How about the flying, you might ask? An instrument approach was required to get into BHB (Maine). I needed to climb to 11,500′ to get over some bumpy clouds in Florida. Steering around heavy rain cells was required to make the final approach into SUA (Stuart, Florida). Otherwise, it was good VFR weather and a student pilot could easily have made the trip. Lesson: If you’re willing to be flexible on timing, a Cirrus can be a useful mode of transportation, but you flexibility needs to be measured in days, not hours!)

Why write all of the above, you might ask? I’m thinking this will be a useful data point for historians 50 or 100 years from now who want to know what Americans actually did in 2021. They’ll have ready access to the rulers’ orders, but won’t know how these were implemented by the subjects.

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U.S. promotion of shutdowns and coronapanic results in migration boom

From today’s Wall Street Journal: “Latin American Migration, Once Limited to a Few Countries, Turns Into a Mass Exodus; Haitian standoff in Texas reflects broader mix of nationalities fleeing pandemic-hobbled economies from around the hemisphere.” (worth a look just for the photos)

Let’s roll back the clock to March 2020. The first country hit by SARS-CoV-2 infection was China, a country and society obsessed with protecting human life at all costs (where else do you see signs all over the subway system on how to avoid injury on escalators, etc.?). Ignoring established WHO advice on pandemics, the Chinese decided to attack the respiratory virus with strict lockdowns. The typical U.S. state governor copied this idea with about the same level of success that you see in the documentary American Factory, where an attempt is made in Ohio to produce automotive glass with the same quality and attention to detail that has been achieved in China. The U.S. states that were the most aggressive with lockdowns, mask orders, and other disruptions nearly all ended up with higher COVID-19-tagged death rates than give-the-finger-to-the-virus-sweep-up-and-move-on Sweden. Maybe nobody got infected in the shut-for-a-year K-12 schools, but adults could meet and mingle at bars, on Tinder, and while shopping for “essential” alcohol and marijuana in Massachusetts (there was no Chinese model for how to run a marijuana store during a respiratory virus pandemic because marijuana is illegal in China).

At the end of March 2020, I asked here ““For every saved American [via shutdown], though, aren’t we guaranteed to cause more than one death in a poor country?” Without the U.S. as a trade, tourism, and travel partner for Latin America, during the first 18 months (so far) of 14 days to flatten the curve, what actually happened? WSJ:

The broad wave includes single mothers from Ecuador, Nicaraguan teenagers and farm laborers in Chile. Many cite the same reasons for uprooting their lives and heading north: economic hits from the pandemic that cost jobs and income, the allure of a booming U.S. economy and the belief that President Biden’s administration would welcome them.

Struggling to put food on the table after the pandemic closed her small coffee business, Mayra Aguilar sold her car and left her home in Ecuador’s southern Andes last month, hoping for a better life in the United States.

Latin America and the Caribbean as a whole suffered the world’s steepest economic contraction last year, and the region’s biggest decline since the Great Depression, according to the International Monetary Fund. The pandemic cost some 26 million jobs.

Earlier this year, Yanisleidys Diaz began her trek to the U.S. after she was told she had to leave Chile in 180 days. The 39-year-old single mother from Cuba arrived in Chile in 2019 with her two sons, seeking informal work because they lacked a work permit. Her oldest boy, 17-year-old Leodan Riveros, worked construction and as a fruit picker at a farm, earning less than minimum wage.

They struggled to make ends meet even before the pandemic. Then Ms. Diaz said she was notified by the government that they could no longer stay without residency. They sold their furniture and clothes to pay for five bus rides to cross Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.

The U.S. is not entirely to blame for other countries failing to follow the Swedish “experiment” (doing what humans have been doing for millions of years is an “experiment” while trying something that has never been tried before and for which no data exist is “following the science”), of course, but I think it is fair to say that we’re reaping what we sowed. As with our wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, we went into lockdowns with no exit strategy and it didn’t occur to us that other nations might not have the ability to print money indefinitely while people cowered in place rather than work and study.

We are continuing our economic war against neighbors in this hemisphere, e.g., via telling Americans not to travel and/or making travel onerous (testing requirements, prison ship atmosphere on commercial airliners (mask orders, threats of fines if mask order is not complied with strictly and completely, etc.)). Is there any number of desperate migrants who show up on our border that would convince us that this isn’t a war worth fighting? (If we have 150,000 daily positive PCR tests (“cases”), that means we have roughly 1 million Americans who are infected and contagious at any one time, right? (not everyone who is infected will get tested and people who are infected will be contagious for several days) Why do we then require Americans to get a COVID-19 test as a condition of returning from a vacation in the Caribbean? Our theory is that 1 million coronaplagued people is bad, but 1,000,002 coronaplagued people is an out-of-control situation? Same question for European visitors! If we have 1 million residents incubating SARS-CoV-2, why does it matter if 6 more show up on Lufthansa?)

Related:

  • If All Lives Have Equal Value, why does Bill Gates support shutting down the U.S. economy? (March 28, 2020), in which I asked “For every saved American [via shutdown], though, aren’t we guaranteed to cause more than one death in a poor country? The U.S. is 15 percent of the world economy. Our shutdown is going to make us poorer so we’ll buy less from the world’s poorest countries. People in those poorest of countries who were at a subsistence standard of living in 2019 are going to be without sufficient funds for food, shelter, and medicine in 2020. Even citizens of medium-income countries, e.g., those who work in industries that are tied to trade with the U.S., might be unable to afford previously affordable life-saving medical interventions. … It has proven to be an interesting window into the logic of the American Righteous. Planet Earth is exquisitely interconnected such that bringing a reusable shopping bag to the Columbus Circle Whole Foods will stop global warming and thus keep the seas from inundating Jakarta. On the other hand, we can stop trading with a country where people are living on $2/day and there will be no adverse consequences for those people.”
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Don’t take health advice from the ignorant

“Why So Many Tennis Players Don’t Want the Covid Vaccine” (NYT, August 30) describes a heretic and a suspected marrano:

Third-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas caused an uproar in his native Greece this month after he said he would get vaccinated only if it were required to continue competing.

“I don’t see any reason for someone of my age to do it,” said Tsitsipas, 23. “It hasn’t been tested enough and it has side effects. As long as it’s not mandatory, everyone can decide for themselves.”

Giannis Oikonomou, a spokesman for the Greek government, said Tsitsipas “has neither the knowledge nor the studies nor the research work that would allow him to form an opinion” about the necessity for vaccination, and added that people like athletes who are widely admired should be “doubly careful in expressing such views.”

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic has drawn scrutiny for his approach to health issues throughout the pandemic, and has declined to disclose his own vaccination status. Djokovic said it was a “personal decision” when asked about vaccine protocols on Friday. “Whether someone wants to get a vaccine or not, that’s completely up to them,” Djokovic said. “I hope that it stays that way.”

My favorite part of the above is the idea that nobody should listen to the 23-year-old Tsitsipas on the topic of maximizing personal health. From ATP:

(Having chosen to live in tax-free Monte Carlo (Greece, like nearly all of the world’s countries besides the U.S., doesn’t tax non-resident citizens), is it possible that Mr. Tsitsipas could obtain a New York Times stamp of approval as an expert on minimizing tax liability?)

From whom should we take health advice, if not Messrs. Tsitsipas and Djokovic? How about Assistant Secretary for Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services? Here’s Dr. Rachel Levine:

Except in South Dakota and Florida, state governors have held themselves out as experts on public health, confident that muscular government action can, for the first time in human history and contrary to W.H.O. guidance through 2019, stop a respiratory virus. Let’s look at JB Pritzker, the governor of Illinois? He’s issued nearly 100 executive orders so far regarding health in the time of COVID-19. My favorite, of course, is Executive Order #3 (March 12, 2020):

WHEREAS, in late 2019, a new and significant outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) emerged; and,

WHEREAS, it is necessary and appropriate for the State of Illinois to immediately take measures to protect the public’s health in response to this COVID-19 outbreak;

THEREFORE, by the powers vested in me as the Governor of the State of Illinois, pursuant to Sections 7(1) and 7(12) of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act, 20 ILCS 3305, I hereby order the following:

Section 1. The application submission deadlines in the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act and implementing regulations for submitting in-person applications by March 16, 2020, are suspended as follows:

(summary from the index page: “CANNABIS APPLICATIONS — The deadline for cannabis grower, infuser and transporter license applications is extended, and applicants are now allowed to mail completed applications, rather than submitting in person.”)

Can we see a photo of the heroic health expert governor who protected Illinois residents from a potential shortage of health-promoting marijuana during the global pandemic?

(Perhaps Governor Pritzker is an expert who contributed to CNN’s “Why does smoking pot give you the munchies?”)

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A month of not being told how or what to think comes to an end

Compared to Maskachusetts or California, one of the remarkable features of life in our corner of Florida (Palm Beach County) is the lack of folks telling others how and what to think. In the Boston suburbs, I would be reminded every few minutes while driving or walking the dog to (1) have faith in leaky vaccines to end the global COVID-19 pandemic (highway electronic billboards), (2) stop hating Asians, (3) celebrate that Love is Love, (4) agree that Black Lives Matter, (5) welcome immigrants, (6) vote for Democrats, etc.

When we departed the Boston area (see Relocation to Florida for a family with school-age children), I said “I’ve paid for my last shopping bag at the supermarket, driven by my last BLM sign in an all-white neighborhood, and read my last governor’s order.” We have yet to see a BLM sign, a Trump bumper sticker or hat, or a Biden/Harris bumper sticker. We haven’t bothered to check what Ron DeSantis is up to in Tallahassee and learn whether a recent order might make one of our daily activities newly illegal. Over the weekend, however, we flew the Cirrus SR20 down to Key West. Some folks were displaying rainbow flags, which didn’t necessarily qualify as educating others regarding the path of righteousness. Unlike our old neighbors (boring cisgender white heteros), the folks in Key West flying rainbow flags might actually have been living an LGBTQIA+ lifestyle. However, we did encounter the following “love comes in all flavors” sign prominently displayed on the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream freezer:

This is consistent with Is LGBTQIA the most popular social justice cause because it does not require giving money? There were no signs in the shop regarding other social justice causes, e.g., poverty or homelessness. That might lead to questions regarding how a “single mom” (who forgot to have sex with a high-income defendant and therefore was reliant on what we no longer call “welfare”) with two kids could afford to pay $14 for two small ice creams. There were no signs reminding customers to boycott Israel. Ben & Jerry’s did not urge us to assist the tens of thousands of Haitians who’ve recently arrived, nor protest the fact that at least some are being deported in violation of international law.

(Separately, let me note for the record that I think Häagen-Dazs is much better ice cream, as long as we’re talking about mass-market. Here in Jupiter, we’ve managed to maintain a reasonable level of obesity, and therefore our coronavirus cross-section, at Matty’s Gelato Factory and Loxahatchee Ice Cream Company.)

Related:

  • Wikipedia: Cohen has severe anosmia, a lack of a sense of smell, and so relies on mouthfeel and texture to provide variety in his diet. This led to the company’s trademark chunks being mixed in with their ice cream. [i.e., the co-founder had COVID-19 symptoms before COVID-19 symptoms were popular!]
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Taking credit for Black accomplishment in “White Papers”

As part of my teaching efforts this semester, I stumbled on https://www.sans.org/information-security-policy/ , which then leads to the organization’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion page:

“terms like Blacklist, Whitelist, and many others will be removed from SANS courseware and replaced with more appropriate terminology”.

Scroll down a bit and we learn that “women” (however that term might be defined) and BIPOC are featured, but “veterans” (see last bullet point above) don’t get a video.

Here’s an illustration of how we all have more work to do

Why is this organization offering “White Papers”? Aside from the inappropriate nature of the term, isn’t it inaccurate? Nobody is interested in a white piece of paper. Nearly everything valuable in a so-called “white paper” is, in fact, Black (i.e., the words).

Is this yet another example of whites taking credit for the accomplishment of Blacks?

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Why are we deporting anyone to Haiti?

On May 22, 2021, the Biden Administration decided that nobody could be sent back to Haiti (DHS.gov):

Today, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced a new 18-month designation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). This new TPS designation enables Haitian nationals (and individuals without nationality who last resided in Haiti) currently residing in the United States as of May 21, 2021 to file initial applications for TPS, so long as they meet eligibility requirements.

Haiti is currently experiencing serious security concerns, social unrest, an increase in human rights abuses, crippling poverty, and lack of basic resources, which are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Secretary Mayorkas. “After careful consideration, we determined that we must do what we can to support Haitian nationals in the United States until conditions in Haiti improve so they may safely return home.”

When did this temporary government program start?

Former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano initially designated Haiti for TPS in January 2010 based on extraordinary and temporary conditions within the country, specifically the effects of a 7.0-magnitude earthquake. In 2011, Haiti’s designation was extended, and the country was also redesignated for TPS at the same time. Haiti’s designation was subsequently extended again for 18 months in 2013 and 2015, and for an additional six months in 2017.

In January 2018, a Federal Register notice announced termination of Haiti’s TPS designation effective July 22, 2019. Four separate lawsuits challenged that termination. Due to court injunctions and other rulings, TPS for Haiti remains in effect pending case outcomes.

(Proof of the adage that “nothing is more permanent than a temporary government program”?)

The New York Times tells us that Haitians who arrived last week are being deported. Haiti is safe for them. But Haitians who arrived prior to July 29 will find that Haiti is unsafe. Thus, they can stay and enjoy a lifetime of means-tested housing, Medicaid, SNAP/EBT, and Obamaphone (none of which is “welfare” because these are non-cash benefits):

Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said on Monday that while the United States has extended protection for Haitians who had arrived in the country before July 29, those who arrive now are not covered.

Once [Aminadel Glezil] was on an airport shuttle, heading to a plane, he realized he was being deported, he said, and began to protest that he had never seen an immigration official and had no deportation order. He said he was beaten by officers and handcuffed for the flight.

“I couldn’t believe a powerful country like the U.S. would treat us that way,” he said.

Many of the migrants said they spent their life’s savings on the arduous trip, on foot and by bus, to the United States.

Some described the long march across a stretch of jungle along the border between Panama and Colombia called the Darien Gap, saying they stumbled past the cadavers of fellow travelers.

Despite receiving billions of dollars in reconstruction aid after a devastating earthquake in 2010, Haiti is a dangerous and politically turbulent country.

Armed gangs control many areas. Poverty and hunger are rising. The country’s few institutions are so underfunded as to seem meaningless, and its Parliament, with only eleven elected officials still in office, was stunned this summer by the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

If it is our moral duty to accept Haitians who arrived prior to July 29, and provide them with 3 or 4 generations of what was formerly called “welfare”, why don’t we have any duty to provide residence and citizenship to those who arrived after July 29? If we don’t have a moral duty to Haitians who walked into Texas after July 29, why do we have any duty to continue to house, feed, and provide health care to those who arrived before July 29?

Separately, how are any Haitians being deported? If they say that they’re being attacked at home, they can apply for asylum as domestic violence survivors. If they say that they identify as LGBQTIA+, they can apply for asylum on the grounds that their neighbors back home in Haiti are anti-LGBTQIA+ (“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Haiti may face social and legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents … Public opinion tends to be opposed to LGBT rights, which is why LGBT people are not protected from discrimination, are not included in hate crimes laws and households headed by same-sex couples do not have any of the legal rights given to married couples.” — Wikipedia). They can claim that gangs back in Haiti will kill them if they show up. At a minimum, they should be entitled to a multi-year process of hearings, etc. Assuming that Haitians do any research at all into U.S. asylum procedure, how are we able to just round people up and put them on a chartered airliner without hearing their asylum tale?

(A friend of a friend has been extracting people from Afghanistan and delivering them into the U.S. refugee/asylum system. He advises all of the asylum-seekers to claim LGBTQIA+ orientation as the reason that they can’t live among fellow devout Muslims. Note that this doesn’t always work. My friend who observed the drama of Au pair to green card later employed a Ukrainian au pair who tried the asylum gambit by claiming that she was being targeted by the police for going to a Pride rally and that she was herself LGBTQIA+. This was ultimately unsuccessful due to Ukraine not having any laws against LGBTQIA+ sexual activity.)

Finally, if Biden is deporting Haitians into a society that his own administration says is “experiencing serious security concerns, social unrest, an increase in human rights abuses, crippling poverty, and lack of basic resources, which are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic”, how does that make him better than Donald Trump? Is the argument that Trump deported migrants in economy seats while Biden is deporting migrants in First Class?

So many questions! I hope readers can enlighten me.

Related:

  • “U.S. expulsions of Haitians may violate international law – UN refugee boss” (Reuters): The mass expulsion of Haitians from the United States without screening for their protection needs may contravene international law and constitute forced returns, the United Nations’ top refugee official Filippo Grandi said on Tuesday. He urged the United States to lift its Title 42 health-related restrictions in place since March 2020, saying they “deny most people arriving at the southwest U.S. land border any opportunity to request asylum”. “The summary, mass expulsions of individuals currently under way under the Title 42 authority, without screening for protection needs, is inconsistent with international norms and may constitute refoulement,” Grandi said in the Geneva-based agency’s strongest statement since the crisis began. … “We are disturbed by the images that we have seen and by the fact that we have seen all these migrants and refugees and asylum-seekers in transport to Port-au-Prince,” U.N. human rights spokesperson Marta Hurtado told a briefing in Geneva. “We are seriously concerned by the fact that it appears there have not been any individual assessments of the cases … and that therefore maybe some of these people have not received the protection that they needed.” … “While some people arriving at the border may not be refugees, anyone who … claims to have a well-founded fear of being persecuted in their country of origin – they should have access to asylum and to have their claim assessed before being subjected to expulsion or deportation,” U.N. refugee agency spokesperson Shabia Mantoo told the briefing.
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Ellen Pao and Elizabeth Holmes intersect

“The Elizabeth Holmes Trial Is a Wake-Up Call for Sexism in Tech” (NYT, 9/15/2021) is a delightful intersection between two of the greatest gifts to this weblog, i.e., Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos fame and Ellen Pao. If you need a refresher on Pao-ology, see the following:

For Holmes, see Theranos was an immigration and H-1B story and Management lessons from Theranos.

Let’s see what the glorious Ellen Pao gives us via her platform on the NYT:

When she founded the unconventional blood-testing company Theranos in 2003, I was relieved to see a woman finally benefit from the hyperbole that dominates venture investing, a world I worked in for nine years, total. Why shouldn’t a woman show the same single-minded confidence that her male peers did?

But after it was revealed that Theranos was not transparent when its blood-testing equipment failed…

Holmes’s psychotic belief that she knew something that the PhD chemists at Siemens and Philips didn’t know was “single-minded confidence.” Diluting blood samples and then running them in the European machines because the Silicon Valley geniuses couldn’t make it work yielded incorrect results for patients (just like the European PhDs said it would), but that was only being “no transparent.”

… as Ms. Holmes’s trial for fraud continues in San Jose, Calif., it’s clear that two things can be true. She should be held accountable for her actions as chief executive of Theranos. And it can be sexist to hold her accountable for alleged serious wrongdoing and not hold an array of men accountable for reports of wrongdoing or bad judgment.

This is where I can agree with Pao. David Boies of Boies Schiller Flexner was on the Theranos board and his firm was the chief enabler, according to the excellent book Bad Blood, of the continuing Theranos fraud. Yet he is not being charged with any crime.

Though never charged with crimes, WeWork’s Adam Neumann and Uber’s Travis Kalanick hyped their way into raising over $10 billion for their companies, claiming they would disrupt their stagnant, tired industries.

Remember the accusations of harassment, privacy violations, price gouging, misleading advertising and any of the other dozens of scandals at Uber? How about the genocide incited on Facebook in Myanmar, or its engagement-centric approach that led to the proliferation of anti-vaccination propaganda on the platform? Neither Mr. Kalanick nor Mark Zuckerberg has faced any significant legal consequences.

Meanwhile, a Tesla employee reportedly described part of a Tesla manufacturing plant as a predator zone for women.

Hmm… what is different about a Tesla that you can drive, admittedly at the cost of neighbors thinking that you’re a sanctimonious douchebag, compared to a blood testing machine that doesn’t work? And you could drive that Tesla or take an Uber to an actual functioning cubicle at WeWork where you could distract yourself from the pain of working by posting on Facebook some righteous hatred for the young people who refuse to get vaccinated against a disease that kills 82-year-olds.

This article is a bit of a letdown, but it is great to see these two female-identifying giants on the same page in the newspaper of record.

(What else do Ellen Pao and Elizabeth Holmes have in common? Nobody would ever have heard of Ellen Pao if she hadn’t been having sex with Ajit Nazre, a married junior partner at her Kleiner Perkins office. That was the basis of her story in the courtroom when she was seeking to extract cash from KP. Elizabeth Holmes’s story in the courtroom is that all of her apparently bad actions were a result of having sex with Ramesh Balwani, a guy in her office. Is it too much to ask that the New York Times devote some space to a woman who didn’t have sex with anyone in the office?)

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U.K. news: Can the dog also become transgender?

Apple News thought I would love “Singing songs of praise for our non-binary family” (The Sunday Times (not one of the tabloids!)) and the robot overlords were certainly correct. From the article:

The broadcaster Carrie Grant and her presenter husband once had three daughters. Now she is the only female

Carrie, 56, and her husband David, 65, the Songs of Praise presenter and former pop star from the band Linx have four children. The three oldest were born girls; now all are “trans/non-binary”.

This raises the question… if all of your children have changed gender IDs, what project remains open? Perhaps the family dog can be persuaded to get on the LGBTQIA+ bus?

Readers: if we can convince Mindy the Crippler to identify as non-binary or as a “male”, what should his/zir/their new name be?

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Humans and dogs no longer so different

Coronapanic in the U.S. has enabled humans and dogs to share more experiences. #CovidBringsUsCloser From Palm Beach Gardens, Florida:

(“Dogs are required to be vaccinated and display current licenses.”; compare to “San Francisco’s new rule: Proof of vaccine or no dining in” (AP) and “De Blasio sending workers to see if restaurants follow vaccine mandate” (New York Post))

Separately, is “All Dogs Welcome” hate speech in the same way that “All Lives Matter” is?

Regarding the digging, my Samoyed breeder said “They dig in the winter to stay warm. They dig in the summer to get cool. They dig in the fall and spring to keep in practice.”

Finally, check out the adjacent playground for kids, almost entirely covered by shade structures:

One thing that I have noticed about Florida is the investment in public leisure facilities: parks, bathrooms, playgrounds, water parks, etc. All of these are vastly superior to and better-maintained than their counterparts in Maskachusetts despite the higher percentage of residents’ income consumed by taxes in MA (Tax Foundation). Also, as long as we’re talking infrastructure, the electricity grid here is remarkably robust. Every day or two it sounds like the world is ending via a thunderstorm and yet we have yet to observe even a momentary power glitch.

Related:

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Righteous versus Wicked (Israel v. Sweden) in the COVID Olympics

“Why Does No One Ever Talk About Sweden Anymore?” (substack, 9/16/2021) has some interesting charts, all adjusted for population size. The virtuous and vaccinated Israelis are being mowed down by the coronavirus that they tried so desperately to hide from while the virus that raged among the never-locked-down, never-masked party-on Swedes is not a major cause of mortality:

What if we look at “cases” from our friendly neighborhood PCR machines?

Another interesting chart, comparing masked-and-periodically-shut Germany and off-the-scientific-reservation never-masked never-shut Sweden:

Excerpts from the author’s commentary:

One of the most consistently repeated trends of COVID has been the premature declarations of victory from areas with a perceived level of “success” in “controlling” the pandemic.

It’s happened in countries all over the world — Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, Mongolia — just to name a few examples. They all have been praised for their ability to “control” the virus with masks and public health measures, only to then see cases invariably skyrocket.

“Experts” and the media declared Sweden was the world’s cautionary tale, a dangerous outlier who shunned The New Science™ of masks and lockdowns and stuck to established public health principles and pre-pandemic planning.

… It’s not about the actual results, it’s about following The Science™. Does it matter if The Science™ leads to more deaths? A higher “cost in lives?” Of course not! It only matters that the media approves or disapproves of what you decide to do.

The media’s depiction of Sweden’s results is an excellent illustration of their desire not to inform, but to coerce. They’re not functioning as simply messengers of information but activists, thoroughly consumed by a desire to force others to conform to their opinions.

They refuse to present information that counters the endless dictatorial mandates, instead promoting unquestioning compliance. Listen to us, do what you’re told and wear a mask, or it’s your fault if you get COVID and die. Listen to us and do what you’re told, or you’ll be labeled an “anti” and shunned from the acceptable society that “journalism” polices.

There will never be a reckoning or acceptance of fault on the part of the media, because they are incapable of correcting their preconceptions and admitting that The Science™ was wrong. They placed their unquestioning faith in experts having a level of competence that they simply do not possess.

The last point was made in the spring of 2020 by a medical school professor friend. He thought that the confident physicians and public health “scientists” going on TV and being quoted by the media were going to permanently damage the reputations of doctors and academics. My friend wasn’t sure what would happen with COVID-19, but he was 100 percent sure that the media-favorite and government-favorite figureheads for #Science were simply guessing (since the virus was new, general public mask orders were new, and lockdowns were new).

A recent example of confident explanation, “Oregon’s Covid-19 Wave Is at Its Worst Despite High Vaccination Rate” (WSJ, 9/3/2021):

Oregon has the 12th highest vaccination rate in the U.S., with 58% of all residents fully vaccinated, according to data compiled by the Mayo Clinic—but the intensive care units in Asante’s three hospitals are overflowing with Covid-19 patients. They can’t transfer elsewhere in the state because most Oregon hospitals are in a similar situation.

Health authorities in Oregon say the current Covid-19 wave—during which infection and hospitalization rates have hit new highs—is the result of uneven vaccination rates between urban and more-rural areas.

In Multnomah County, home to Portland, 67% of residents are fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, in Jackson County, home to Medford, 51% of residents are fully vaccinated, and in the adjoining counties of Josephine and Douglas the rates are 46% and 43%, respectively.

In response, Gov. Kate Brown has ordered some of the strictest statewide restrictions currently in effect in the U.S. Residents must wear masks in most public settings, indoors or outdoors, and vaccines are mandatory for healthcare workers and teachers. The National Guard has been deployed to hospitals statewide. The state is hiring nurses and other medical professionals and sending them to hard hit areas like southern Oregon.

(The last point is consistent with what our Medical School 2020 author told me recently. The hospital where he is training is short-staffed because nurses can quit and make $100,000 in three months as “travelers”. The hospital is packed with COVID-19 patients currently, most of whom would likely do just as well at home with an oxygen bottle.)

Why is Oregon having a surge right now? It could simply be because the coronavirus didn’t thrive in the state before, leaving Oregon near the lowest on a list of states ranked by COVID-19 death rate and therefore there is less natural immunity in the population (for the same reason, no matter how boneheaded the governors of New York, New Jersey, and Maskachusetts are, there aren’t too many more people left in those states who can be killed by COVID-19). Why are these rural counties in Oregon suffering more than the righteous urban dwellers? It could be due to the difference in vaccination rate, as the state health experts confidently say, but it could also be because folks in the city were more likely to have been previously exposed. Apparently, it is difficult for reporters to find a “scientist” willing to say “I don’t know why.”

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