Tuesday Required Reading

  1. Girls flag rugby. Beautiful lead picture. Of course the red-head is kicking ass.
  2. UCLA reverses course and will pay the adjunct professor after all. HR clown show.
  3. How much do the best pro cyclists make? “. . . pocket-money compared to some of the world’s wealthiest sports.”
  4. Right on. My Covid guy gets the top job. Everyone has a Covid person or team that affirms their preconceived notions about all things ‘rona. Ashish Jha is mine.

The United States Free Fall Starts Here

With a decline in public support for public education and a concomitant decline in quality.

George Packer in The Atlantic argues that we’ve turned schools into battlefields, and our kids are the casualties.

“It isn’t clear how the American public-school system will survive the COVID years. Teachers, whose relative pay and status have been in decline for decades, are fleeing the field. In 2021, buckling under the stresses of the pandemic, nearly 1 million people quit jobs in public education, a 40 percent increase over the previous year. The shortage is so dire that New Mexico has resorted to encouraging members of the National Guard to volunteer as substitute teachers.

Students are leaving as well. Since 2020, nearly 1.5 million children have been removed from public schools to attend private or charter schools or be homeschooled. Families are deserting the public system out of frustration with unending closures and quarantines, stubborn teachers’ unions, inadequate resources, and the low standards exposed by remote learning. It’s not just rich families, either, David Steiner, the executive director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy, told me. ‘COVID has encouraged poor parents to question the quality of public education. We are seeing diminished numbers of children in our public schools, particularly our urban public schools.'”

Packer states what’s increasingly obvious:

“The high-profile failings of public schools during the pandemic have become a political problem for Democrats, because of their association with unions, prolonged closures, and the pedagogy of social justice, which can become a form of indoctrination. The party that stands for strong government services in the name of egalitarian principles supported the closing of schools far longer than either the science or the welfare of children justified, and it has been woefully slow to acknowledge how much this damaged the life chances of some of America’s most disadvantaged students. The San Francisco school board became the caricature of this folly last year when it spent months debating name changes to Roosevelt Middle School, Abraham Lincoln High School, and other schools with supposedly offensive names, while their classrooms remained closed to the city’s children. Republicans have only just begun to exploit the fallout.”

And then concedes he’s “not interested in joining or refereeing this partisan scrum.” Poignantly adding:

“Public education is too important to be left to politicians and ideologues. Public schools still serve about 90 percent of children across red and blue America. Since the common-school movement in the early 19th century, the public school has had an exalted purpose in this country. It’s our core civic institution—not just because, ideally, it brings children of all backgrounds together in a classroom, but because it prepares them for the demands and privileges of democratic citizenship. Or at least, it needs to.

What is school for? This is the kind of foundational question that arises when a crisis shakes the public’s faith in an essential institution. “The original thinkers about public education were concerned almost to a point of paranoia about creating self-governing citizens,” Robert Pondiscio, a former fifth-grade teacher in the South Bronx and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told me. ‘Horace Mann went to his grave having never once uttered the phrase college- and career-ready. We’ve become more accustomed to thinking about the private ends of education. We’ve completely lost the habit of thinking about education as citizen-making.'”

Packer and Pondiscio nail it.

Should You Still Wear A Mask?

Should you still wear a mask?

Breathe. Press pause. Breathe some more. Then read it not just to figure out your own course of action, but even more importantly, to better understand why other people’s decisions are many times different than yours.

Imminently sensible.

My fave paragraph:

“But if you’re otherwise healthy and have received your vaccine and booster shots, your risk of getting seriously ill with Covid is extraordinarily small. It’s about in line with other risks people take every day, such as driving in a car.”

Another insight:

“. . . follow the norms and the rules of the business you’re entering. If the sign at the door says “Mask Required,” you don’t want to make retail workers have to enforce policies over which they have no control. Their jobs are hard enough, and everyone can wear a mask with little to no sacrifice.”

Alright, my work is done here, no more mask hostilities.

Two Years In

A doctor friend of mine has been a very careful, and I believe thoughtful, observer of all things ‘rona. This was today’s email message:
“The New York Times had information about the vaccine protection. This was October to November, so it was with Delta. Omicron death rates will be lower, but the vaccinated/unvaccinated difference is proportionally the same.
Screen Shot 2022-01-31 at 11.53.08 AM
The graph shows weekly deaths per 100,000, so annually, there are 5.2 deaths per 100,000 for boosted, 31.2 for vaccinated, and 405.6 for unvaccinated for the Delta variant.
Omicron is only 20% as lethal, so annually, there are 1.04 deaths per 100,000 for boosted, 6.24 for vaccinated, and 81.1 for unvaccinated.
By comparison, influenza causes 16.3 deaths per 100,000 annually. Except for the unvaccinated, covid is now less lethal than the flu.
There are also major studies from all of 2021, so it includes the various covid variants, and it also showed that covid was less lethal than the flu. They didn’t separate out the fully vaccinated from the boosted and boosting only was present for the last 3 months of the year, yet the flu was still more deadly.
The unvaccinated are 25 times more likely to die from Delta than the flu and 5 times more likely to die from Omicron than the flu.”
His take-away:
“I’m tired of all the restrictions that are basically in place to protect those that chose not to get vaccinated. They made their bed and now they can lie in it, but I don’t see why I need to lie in it with them.”
Me too.

Sometimes I Can Only Muster The Strength To . . .

. . . read headlines. Recently, I’ve been diagnosed with “CEFS” or Current Events Fatigue Syndrome.

Some recent headlines are funny enough that I don’t even have to read the article. My spirit is already lifted.

I Became Extremely Hot In The Pandemic. My Husband Did Not.

Okay, so maybe I didn’t read it because I was afraid the Good Wife wrote it.

Some recent headlines are so cringe-worthy I can’t bring myself to read the article. This is CEFS in action. In increasing order of cringe:

Misinformation Is A Pandemic That Doesn’t Have A Headline

Tie for First. . .

Election Offices And School Board Meetings Could Become Weapons-free Zones In Washington

Report: World’s 10 Richest Men Doubled Their Wealth During COVID Pandemic

And sometimes since I know how the story is going to turn out, it’s unnecessary to read on.

Help! My Husband Throws Away My Things Without Asking In The Name of “Minimalism.”

Dude’s wife divorces him. He moves into an apartment a few steps below the one he lived in during college. Can’t afford any real furniture to speak of, any art, anything. Shortly thereafter, dies from loneliness in his minimalist “paradise”.

Okay, so maybe I didn’t read that because I was afraid the Gal Pal may have authored it as well.

Do You Remember?

That kid in science class that was so smart they had a hard time relating to others of lesser intellect. Yeah, the one with thick hard plastic framed glasses that you weren’t very nice to. Your similarly insecure friends and you called her a brainiac and other not so nice things.

Remember losing track of her after high school? Probably not since since no one ever paid her much attention to begin with.

While you were spinning your wheels drinking too much and trying to “find yourself”, she completed three degrees in biology and other sciences. Threw in a post-doc for good measure.

Initially at least, you may wanna call her Doctor at the next reunion, but why would she attend given the grief your knucklehead friends and you gave her?

She’s a contact lens wearing tenured professor of epidemiology now with 162,000 twitter followers. Drives a Tesla Model S Plaid and knows more about viruses than all your high school homeboys and you combined. Turn on the right cable news station at the right time and you might catch her helping everyone who slept through science better understand covid’s innumerable complexities.

Finally, she’s the center of attention.

The Covid Ball Is In The NBA’s Court

From “The NBA’s Big Covid Choice” by Ethan Strauss.

“The NBA actually has an opportunity here to end the precautionary moment, or at least signal its ebb. If commissioner Adam Silver steps forward and announces that his league is ending test protocols and treating this admittedly terrible disease in much the same way we deal with some other respiratory illnesses, that’s a potential cultural shift. The basic plan would be to test players and team officials only if they’re obviously sick (and sit said players if they test positive). And no more of the contact tracing that’s gummed up work behind the scenes of a highly mobile industry. The message could be simple: Look, we can’t functionally operate like it’s 2020; now that the disease is endemic, and vaccines are widely available, we must move into 2022.

This could be an influential move for all the reasons the NBA lockdown was important back in 2020, but now with one new one: The NBA is the archetypal blue state sport. The Covid question has broken along partisan lines, with Democrat-voting spaces far more likely to embrace interventionist measures. If the NBA announces a relaxation, there’s an element of “Nixon goes to China,” a credibility inherent to going against the grain. Such a proclamation grants space if not permission for other non-red world institutions to follow suit and open up despite the surge.”

Do read the whole thing. As thoughtful a rumination on our predicament with the “invisible enemy” as I’ve read. Granted, I might feel that way because I agree with Strauss.

What Are You Most Afraid Of?

That was the The Good Wife’s question on our Saturday night date to the Westside taco truck.

Because I’m male I replied, “Your questions.”

I gave a wee bit more thoughtful answer after the beans and rice kicked in which maybe I’ll summarize sometime soon. 

In the meantime, here’s how Germans recently answered the same question.   

59130336_7

There’s zilch overlap between the Germans and me.