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Monday, March 30, 2020

R.I.P., My Dear Friend Patricia (May 6, 1954-March 29, 2020). Hymn Added.

(For politics, please scroll down.  Active thread one post down)

Patricia here on our wheelchair ramp in 2010.
My dear friend Patricia (former blogger The Merry Widow) went Home to the Lord suddenly on March 29, of an apparent heart attack in the emergency room.

Warren's words when he heard the sad news: "If anybody was right with God, it was Patricia."

Her last three posts on Facebook, the second two from the ER:

Sunday, March 29, 2020

A Great Awakening?

Silverfiddle Rant!

Could a rogue virus lead to a grand creative moment in America’s history? Will Americans, shaken by the reality of a risky universe, rediscover the God who proclaimed himself sovereign over every catastrophe?
-- Robert Nicholson

"Thy Kingdom Come"

I have been praying for another great awakening for quite some time, and I'm confident my prayers join those of hundreds of millions of other people of faith, so this article caught my eye: A Coronavirus Great Awakening?

America has experienced three or four Great Awakenings. Are we due for another one? What would it look like? What preachers or churches would lead it?

A physics PhD and deep thinker I used to work for opined last week that this could lead to a new wave of intellectual ferment and new ideas and inventions, just as the black plague of the Middle Ages did.  I'm not that steeped in history, but he averred that the plague forced people to shutter themselves away and spend a lot of time with their thoughts, and that led to many wonderful new ideas that ended up ushering in the Enlightenment. I'm thinking, "yeah, but those people didn't have Netflix, social media and internet porn..."

Have you been praying more?  Reading the Bible? Developing intellectual theories or coming up with a new invention?  If the government ordered you to stay in your home, what have you been doing to occupy your time?

At the Casa Silverfiddle, we have been praying and reading the Bible more.  The kids are doing schoolwork, bracelet-making, origami and playing music. I've been playing a lot of banjo, slowing down and focusing on good technique, and knocking the rust of the old fiddle, reacquainting myself with all the fiddle tunes I used to know.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Voices From The Past

Please take a few minutes to watch the two short videos below:

Below is the most-watched YouTube documentary on the topic of the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic — if you have time to watch (over 4 million views):

Now for my family's own stories.......

My father's younger sister, about age 7, died of "the aftereffects of the flu." Something like the 1990 film Awakenings? Full movie HERE at YouTube, albeit poor quality.  I highly recommend the film! It is available via Amazon Prime Video.

Dad occasionally spoke of what happened when his sister died: "The undertaker embalmed Chrissie at the house — and dumped the blood behind the barn."  The funeral service and burial were private.  The influenza didn't stop until everything was shut down: schools, funerals, churches, etc.  And the government refused to believe that something terrible was happening with Americans' health.  Until, that is, bodies began piling up on the sidewalks and in the streets of Washington, D.C.

My maternal grandmother (1898-1981) had a robust immune system. It fell to her to take care of her brother Walter, who brought influenza to their remote location in the mountains of East Tennessee when he was discharged from the US Army, fell ill himself, and gave the flu to his brother-in-law Fred, my grandmother's husband.  My grandmother sent her two children, one born in 1916 and the other in 1918 to her parents' farm and took care of Walter and Fred.

My grandmother related the story of those days in this way: "I got almost no sleep.  I went back and forth between the river for cold water and the menfolks' foreheads.  They were out of their heads with fever.  My sister brought food, called to me, and set the food down about 25 feet from the house; I fetched the food from there.  I don't remember how long all this went on.  Seemed like forever.  But Walter and Fred got well, and life went back to normal."

I asked Wawa how she stood those weeks of hard work as a nurse.  Her response: "Life isn't about what you want to do.  Life is about what you have to do."  She also told me of a particular safely measure she used: teetotaler though she was, she gargled in moonshine morning and evening.  And she swallowed that moonshine, too.

Bringing us back to today....A view of the front lines of this grim war against Coronavirus (dated March 23, 2020): The Growing Chaos Inside New York’s Hospitals.

And one more thing...in the immortal words of Gilda Radner:

Wednesday, March 25, 2020


Silverfiddle Rant!
Life is all about trade-offs. If government action causes our economy to take a trillion dollar hit, with the goal of saving one million lives, that is one million dollars per human life saved.  One trillion dollars gone, and a shriveled economy now one trillion dollars less able to power the nation back to health.

Our economic engine is our strength to power through this, with technology, scientific breakthroughs, and everyday activity that produces wealth, but government has thrown the switch and the machine is now running on two cylinders.  It would be smarter and cheaper to take extraordinary measures to isolate and protect the vulnerable, while allowing the rest of us to get on with generating wealth by working and consuming, so we can fund the medical breakthroughs to beat this and prepare for future pandemics.

Below are excerpts from the WSJ article, WSJ - Rethinking the Coronavirus Shutdown.  The article is now hidden behind a paywall, which is why I have reposted whole paragraphs.

Thank you, CDC and public health officials.  We have learned much, and we have helped slow the disease by putting your lessons into practice:
The vast social-distancing project of the last 10 days or so has been necessary and has done much good. Warnings about large gatherings of more than 10 people and limiting access to nursing homes will save lives. The public has received a crucial education in hygiene and disease prevention, and even young people may get the message. With any luck, this behavior change will reduce the coronavirus spread enough that our hospitals won’t be overwhelmed with patients. Anthony Fauci, Scott Gottlieb and other disease experts are buying crucial time for government and private industry to marshal resources against the virus.
 At what cost?
In a normal recession the U.S. loses about 5% of national output over the course of a year or so. In this case we may lose that much, or twice as much, in a month.
The initial shutdown was supposed to last two weeks.  Let's adjust and try to do things smarter...
That will surely include strict measures to isolate and protect the most vulnerable—our elderly and those with underlying medical problems. This should not become a debate over how many lives to sacrifice against how many lost jobs we can tolerate.
But no society can safeguard public health for long at the cost of its overall economic health. 
 Even America’s resources to fight a viral plague aren’t limitless—and they will become more limited by the day as individuals lose jobs, businesses close, and American prosperity gives way to poverty.
America urgently needs a pandemic strategy that is more economically and socially sustainable than the current national lockdown.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Hysteria & Panic: Counting the Cost

Silverfiddle Rant!
“This is not Ebola, this is not sars, this is not some science fiction movie come to life. The hysteria here is way out of line with the actuality and the facts.” *

I surveyed the bare shelves, and my mind kept turning to the working poor with children who perhaps only have a narrow opportunity to shop once a week, elderly and disabled people for whom a trip to the grocery store is a herculean effort of pain and worry...

And they find the store stripped by panicked hordes of healthy, able-bodied people, most of whom could miss a few meals and it would do them some good.
"We have 30,000 traffic deaths every year!  We're ordering all vehicles off the roads to save those lives!"
Heather MacDonald asks if governments' abundance of caution is worth the cost in her article, Compared to What?
Even if my odds of dying from coronavirus should suddenly jump ten-thousand-fold, from the current rate of .000012 percent across the U.S. population all the way up to .12 percent, I’d happily take those odds over the destruction being wrought on the U.S. and global economy from this unbridled panic.
Stimulate What?

Federal, state and local government have crashed the economy by ordering businesses to close and throwing tens of millions out of work.  Now, they are borrowing trillions to bail out the economy they wrecked.

How in the hell are people supposed to stimulate the economy with fistfulls of government cash when government has shuttered all the businesses?

I don't need a thousand dollar check.  I am still working, thank God.

Could government actions have been a little more targeted?  Lasers instead of meat axes and sledge hammers?

Now that the economic wreckage from government panic is in the trillions, here are two actions governments should immediately take:

1.  Unemployment checks to those millions of workers the federal, state and local governments threw out of work

2.  Financial assistance to small business owners the federal, state and local governments ordered shut down

These payments are not socialism.  This is government providing a small remuneration for the harm they caused, and states should foot their part of financial responsibility.  It is easy to decree broad, sweeping mandates when you don't have to pay for the disastrous consequences.

States Can't Shut Down Non-Essential Businesses Without Harming Essential Ones

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Musical Interlude

(For politics, please scroll down)

[about the above ballad, which tells a story and dates to as far back as 1670]

One set of lyrics:
"O, where are you going?" "To Scarborough fair,"
Savoury sage, rosemary, and thyme;
"Remember me to a lass who lives there,
For once she was a true love of mine.

"And tell her to make me a cambric shirt,
Savoury sage, rosemary, and thyme,
Without any seam or needlework,
And then she shall be a true love of mine.

"And tell her to wash it in yonder dry well,
Savoury sage, rosemary, and thyme,
Where no water sprung, nor a drop of rain fell,
And then she shall be a true love of mine."

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Herd Immunity - MIT Answers Our Corona Virus Questions

Silverfiddle Rant!
MIT has a free website where they provide factual, non-sensational information about COVID-19:

Technology Review - Coronavirus

Below are a few excerpts:

What is herd immunity and can it stop the coronavirus?
There are basically three ways to stop the Covid-19 disease for good.
One involves extraordinary restrictions on free movement and assembly, as well as aggressive testing, to interrupt its transmission entirely. That may be impossible now that the virus is in over 100 countries.
The second is a vaccine that could protect everyone, but it still needs to be developed.
A third is potentially effective but horrible to consider: just wait until enough people get it.
If the virus keeps spreading, eventually so many people will have been infected and (if they survive) become immune that the outbreak will fizzle out on its own as the germ finds it harder and harder to find a susceptible host. This phenomenon is known as herd immunity.
See also:  Your Biggest Questions Answered

I also recommend A fiasco in the making? The essay has been targeted as too cavalier about the situation, but that is a mischaracterization.  The article is five days old now, a lifetime in this era of fast-paced events, but I recommend it because it is authored by a Stanford professor of medicine who performs a sober calculation of the math, considers various hypotheticals, and takes the position throughout that, based on current date, we just don't know.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Humor For These Days Of Toilet Paper Mania

(For serious politics, please scroll down)

We need a little laughter to stay sane.

From Bored Panda

Posted last week on my ritzy online neighborhood network and generating more than 112 comments, most enjoying the thread:
At 7:00pm, I will be tossing a single roll of toilet paper into the street directly outside of the...parking garage back exit. I will observe the ensuing battle from my balcony. If the spectacle is entertaining, I will raise my thumb. The victor will be then granted an additional two-ply roll. May the stars be aligned in your favor.
Over the course of several days, more information appeared, such as:

Monday, March 16, 2020

The Chinese Virus

Silverfiddle Rant!
Proof there is a God:

Despite our criminally stupid government, the nation yet endures.

China produces around 90% of our pharmaceuticals, holds near-monopoly on rare earth elements, and our dependence on them for food and everyday household items is disconcerting.

Why would supposedly responsible people in government, Democrats and Republicans, think its a good idea to hand so much power over us to a brutal communist dictatorship that has publicly stated its goal is to overtake us economically, militarily, and replace us as the dominant force on the globe?

From Project Syndicate:
The COVID-19 pandemic should be a wake-up call for a world that has accepted China’s lengthening shadow over global supply chains for far too long. Only by reducing China’s global economic influence – beginning in the pharmaceutical sector – can the world be kept safe from the country's political pathologies.
It is also clear the communist dictatorship plays by its own rules, and gets by with it:
If any other country had triggered such a far-reaching, deadly, and above all preventable crisis, it would now be a global pariah. But China, with its tremendous economic clout, has largely escaped censure. Nonetheless, it will take considerable effort for Xi’s regime to restore its standing at home and abroad.
Can you imagine Germany, Japan or other responsible nations performing such a dark passive aggressive threat disguised as hurt feelings?
China’s leaders are publicly congratulating themselves for not limiting exports of medical supplies and APIs used to make medicines, vitamins, and vaccines. If China decided to ban such exports to the United States, the state-run news agency Xinhua recently noted, the US would be “plunged into a mighty sea of coronavirus.” China, the article implies, would be justified in taking such a step. It would simply be retaliating against “unkind” US measures taken after COVID-19’s emergence, such as restricting entry to the US by Chinese and foreigners who had visited China.
Isn’t the world lucky that China is not that petty?
What say you?

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Democrat Press Hoping for a Downturn

Silverfiddle Rant!
One of my favorite Three Stooges episodes opens with them working for a pest extermination company run by a hilarious, politically incorrect stereotype of a 1930's German immigrant.

He tells them to get out and get busy.  Moe protests and says, there's no work, "if they ain't got ants, they ain't got ants."

The German owner puffs himself up, "Zen you giff them ants, and mice, and cockroaches!  Now get busy!"

Sounds a lot like our Infotainment Media Complex, doesn't it?  "No bad news?  We'll give them bad news!"

Issue & Insights asks the question...
Anyone Notice That Trump’s Economy Keeps Beating Expectations?

All the smart kids and "experts" in the press have been talking recession since President Trump was elected.
Last August, the liberal “explanatory journalism” site Vox.com headlined an article “Why everybody’s worried about a recession again.”

In December 2018, the Washington Post ran a piece headlined: “A recession is coming, Trump will make it so much worse.”

That article reported that “virtually every independent forecaster foresees a slowdown once the sugar rush of Trump’s tax cuts wears off in the next year or so. And in a recent survey of economists by the Wall Street Journal, more than half predicted that we’d have a full-blown recession by 2020.”

Three days into 2017, PBS ran a column titled: “I’m predicting an economic recession in 2017. Are you ready?”

Around the same time, CBS Marketwatch posted an opinion piece warning that the “Next recession will hit during Trump’s first two years.”
Contrast that with coverage during the Obama years, when that president brought us the worst recovery on record, an accomplishment made more spectacular by the economic iron law that the harder the crash, the bigger the bounce.  The steepest part of the recovery curve comes early, then levels off. Economic growth under President Trump is remarkable for the fact that steep gains are coming eight years after the crash.

Here's how the press covered Obama's sputtering, uneven recovery, that saw millions of discouraged Americans leaving the workforce:
Then, the press was all about “green shoots” and economists kept predicting the economy was poised to lift off. Strong growth was “right around the corner,” they kept saying, and soon we’d see the fruits of Obama’s tax-and-spend-and-regulate economic policies. Yet actual results routinely come in “unexpectedly” worse. GDP growth was below forecast every single year Obama was in the White House.
Please go read the entire short article and tell us, What say you?

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Monday, March 9, 2020

"You won't know what hit you"

Silverfiddle Rant!

We touch on press bias quite a bit here, and awhile back our friend from across the pond Jez asked for examples. Chuck Schumer's red-faced, bellicose threat to two Supreme court justices provides us a simple case study.

What Senator Schumer, second most powerful Democrat in government, said:
"I want to tell you, Gorsuch; I want to tell you, Kavanaugh: You have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer roared Wednesday to a crowd of protesters angry over a Louisiana case before the court that threatens abortion rights. "You won't know what hit if you go forward with these awful decisions."
Chief Justice Roberts rebuked him in an official statement, and the press could not ignore it, so they dissembled and made excuses for him in a manner reminiscent of an abused housewife covering for her alcoholic husband to keep him out of trouble.  A press that casts every presidential utterance in the worst light possible, did double backbend whataboutisms for Schmucky.

They claimed Justice Kavanaugh issued the same threat at the end of his hearings. Here is what Kavanaugh said, after being publicly savaged, smeared and slandered:
“Since my nomination in July, there’s been a frenzy on the left to come up with something, anything, to block my confirmation,” he told Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee. “You sowed the wind for decades to come. I fear that the whole country will reap the whirlwind.”
Does that sound like a threat to you? Kavanaugh's lament for our nation is not even in the same category as Schumer's splenetic outburst.

Even those august news outlets that rightly condemn Schumer's comments cannot leave it at that. 

They must balance it off with a "Trump does it too:"
► He earned his own rebuke from Roberts in 2018 after labeling a federal jurist an "Obama judge" for ruling against the administration.

► As a candidate, Trump made bigoted remarks about a federal judge of Mexican heritage handling a fraud case over Trump University.

► Last month, the president criticized a judge overseeing the trial of Roger Stone, a longtime Trump friend.

► And last week, Trump called on two liberal Supreme Court justices to recuse themselves from "Trump-related" cases.
None of those examples come close to a threat.  His remarks against Judge Curiel were stupid, petty and un-American, but not menacing, especially coming from a candidate.  Asking judges to recuse themselves due to their blatant, open bias is also not a threat.

Our nation is ill-served by a Democrat Party-biased press that shovels us editorials and propaganda disguised as news.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Musical Interlude

(For politics, please scroll down)

Enjoy Appalachia Waltz, composed by Mark O'Connor (1962-present), with a hat tip to my good friend Midnight Rider of Infidel Bloggers Alliance:

About this piece, from the blurb at YouTube:
On O'Connor's 'Appalachia Waltz'

"What Bach did was, he took all these dances from all the known world around him and put them in suite form. Old dances, new dances, courtly dances, peasant dances. And what Mark did was, he took this piece that is somewhat based on the Norwegian fiddling style, with the drone and that, wrote it in Santa Fe, and called it `Appalachia Waltz.' It's just so moving. It's traditional. It is new. It comes from many different places, but it's authentic. So after a long Bach evening, rather than play more Bach, this is the perfect thing." -Yo-Yo Ma


"I composed "Appalachia Waltz" in 1993, while sitting in a cabin in the Santa Fe desert! I was writing a portion of my second concerto there and was working on the "Trail Of Tears" movement (named after the forced migration of the Cherokee from Tennessee) hoping to identify with some of the Native American culture in New Mexico. It had been long gone from Tennessee culture for 150 years. Then, all of the sudden, this piece appeared in my head with all of the doublestops and drones, all at once! In 15 minutes it was written. It seemed much too intimate for my concerto though, so I tucked it away and introduced it to Yo-Yo Ma a couple of years later. It turned out to be the impetus (and title inspiration) for the two projects we recorded.

"It is one of my most loved pieces and I like to think it is for this reason; If it's played for folk musicians, they most often think it's classical music. When played for classical musicians, they most often think of it as folk music. Appalachia Waltz seems to exist in the middle of places. Each listener is embracing it on quite personal and maybe very different terms. When Yo-Yo performs it unaccompanied as an encore to his Bach Suite recitals, there are those who think it is old and German! When I play it unaccompanied in Southern California, it reminds people of their grandparents back in the mountains of North Carolina. Neither is true but this occurrence is one of the most important bridges I have attempted to cross; "Appalachia Waltz" has become one of my most important compositions, because it helped me create and cross yet another bridge...between audience and performer.

"It's a bridge of trust. As a performer, my hope always is that the audience has trust enough to meet me in the music. Audience...performer...music... we are all elements in an equation. When those elements are "right," there's no feeling like it!" -Mark O'Connor

October 1st, 2001 (in the days after 9/11)

"Robert J. Harth, the executive and artistic director of Carnegie Hall, began the evening with an eloquent tribute to the victims, families and rescuers. Then Mr. Ma appeared, to perform two works for solo cello, starting with ''Appalachia Waltz'' by his colleague, the violinist and composer Mark O'Connor. In Mr. Ma's beautifully subdued performance, this tender work, steeped in Appalachian folk music, had an ancient modal resonance, almost like medieval music. Then Mr. Ma played Bach's Cello Suite No. 5 in C Minor. If you are looking for something to depend on at this time of loss and confusion, Yo-Yo Ma playing the Bach cello suites will do just fine."-Anthony Tommasini for the New York Times
Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Trump v. Corona Hysteria

Silverfiddle Rant!
‘Precautions are always blamed. When they are successful, they are said to have been unnecessary.’ - Benjamin Jowett

Always Trumper Roger Kimball has written the best summary to date of how rabid partisans have hijacked the non-partisan Corona Virus outbreak and are now driving it like a flaming crazy train aiming to damage the president.

Democrats have firmly positioned themselves to gain politically if this turns deadly, and that's not a good look.

This is a serious issue, the President took action in January, and the screamers called him a reactionary racist.  Meanwhile, the nation's non-partisan, pre-planned actions are being carried out by the CDC.  The same plans and same CDC that existed when Obama was president, but Democrats and their partisans in the press are determined to fan the flames of panic and damage the president.

Here are my favorite excerpts from Kimball's entertaining and concise statement of facts:
"...the White House press corps resembles a flock of bad-tempered schoolchildren, lazy and slightly dim, but from fancy families so firm in their sense of entitlement and outrage."

The press gaggle, desperate to find something to blame the president for, kept repeating the same questions, fighting to frame ‘gotcha’ remarks, and appearing exactly like they are: snotty, ill-prepared hacks whose goal is not to report and inform, but play smarmy partisan games. The president, just back from a trip to India, looked tired but commanding. The press looked small, sweaty, petulant.

The public saw a president who, in his concern for the welfare of the American people, communicated sober competence and steady confidence. They also saw a press swept away by extraordinary delusions and partisan madness."
What say you?

Related Links:
COVID-19 - Navigating the Uncharted
Related:Five Reasons You Don't Need to Panic About the COVID-19 Coronavirus
The Four-Stage Impacts of the Coronavirus

Monday, March 2, 2020

Thank You, President Trump!

A few weeks ago, around 8:45 A.M., I announced to Mr. AOW: "I'm headed upstairs to work on our tax return."

Mr. AOW replied in a downcast voice: "I won't be seeing you till tonight.  And you'll be in a terrible mood."

That pattern — work on taxes for hours on end (data entry into Quicken, into customized categories for both my business and our medical expenses), followed by becoming the grouch of the year — has held for over a decade.

That is, until the tax reform law that President Trump sponsored took full effect.

At 11:45 A.M., I joyfully danced down the stairs.  Mr. AOW was in shock — pleasant shock. I was ecstatic.  I love that provision for the increased standard deduction.

Thank you, President Trump!

Another reason to thank President Trump... Public charge': Trump enforces rule linking immigrant welfare use to green card chances. Excerpt below the fold (emphases mine).