Re: Elsewhere

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Since the Trump administration outsourced virus response to individual citizens, we have been a lot better about wearing masks everywhere and not expecting the virus to ever go away even if there seems to be good news. Except the people who trust the Trump administration.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 7:19 AM
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A lot better than Europeans, that is.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 7:24 AM
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Plus, we're a less equal society and much of the middle and upper middle class has just secluded itself.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 7:27 AM
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If you stay home and have someone bring all the things to your door, you've got fewer people at risk.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 7:29 AM
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I went out for a walk on Halloween at night and spent part of the day canvassing in areas where students live. So much socializing. And now the university is back to locked down ten days later.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 7:31 AM
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Is "in Trump's America" the new "on the veldt"?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 7:35 AM
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6: That's hitting under the veldt!


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 7:54 AM
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The simplest explanation is just that everyone in Europe picked up travelling again over the summer, and nobody was willing to slam on the brakes in September, when it might have helped. There is genetic evidence that the current wave kicked off in southern Spain in mid-summer.

It's interesting that despite the recriminations within each of the UK, France, and Germany, pretty much the same things have happened in each country at the same time. I mean, I'm fairly sure Germany didn't lose control of the bug and lock down three days before us because Dido Harding bungled test and trace. Similarly, France didn't give everyone 10% off restaurants but they've ended up flooding the hospitals before us.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 8:02 AM
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I think 3 is important. And Alex is right about the travelling being the simplest explanation.There was such a pent-up longing for normality after the big lockdowns ended that I don't know anything much could have stopped it.

The two countries where I have been watching developments have slightly different problems. In this country there is a serious crazification factor in the right wing press; lots of Great Barrington crap. The view there is that all the virus needs to hear is a spot of Churchilian rhetoric, and Johnny Virus will bugger off just like Johnny Foreigner has*.

In Sweden the reigning epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, doesn't believe that masks are much use and says so frequently; he reckons a third of all infections come from workplaces and a third from homes. Neither are places where people mask up, he says. Essentially he wants al Swedes to behave like UMC Americans and shun the rest of the world. They're not doing so. Also, the health system is really disorganised, and there is minimal coverage in care homes by actual doctors.

* or, actually, hasn't. Expect a very rapid surrender deal with the EU now that Biden has won.


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 8:22 AM
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In Sweden the reigning epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, doesn't believe that masks are much use and says so frequently; he reckons a third of all infections come from workplaces and a third from homes.

Homes, fair enough; we've assumed all along that if anyone in the immediate family gets it, the other two will as well. But workplaces? Are there massive categories of workplaces where people can't wear masks for business reasons? Do they just figure that masks are ineffective in workplaces for some reason?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 11:35 AM
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My hunch is that since during the summer it was possible to believe that the virus had gone, a lot of people became complacent about mixing, especially in pubs and clubs. Combine that with a poor understanding of modalities of transmission, not helped by official messaging.


Posted by: Charlie W | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 11:40 AM
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Workplaces are probably the easiest place to get compliance since there's more of an enforcement mechanism than public spaces or customers in stores. Or is he making some conservative talking point about Swedish workers having too much power to ignore what their bosses tell them to do?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 11:44 AM
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Most of Canada is falling apart as well. Ontario (pop. 15 million) was below 100 new cases/day in August; the current 7 day rolling average is now over 1,000. Test positivity around 4%. Hospitals are approaching capacity.

As for causes: hard to say. No one really knows.

Masks are mandatory across the province, and compliance is pretty good, so it's not that. Universities are almost entirely remote, so it's not that either. Schools have reopened, and while cases have shot up a lot since September, there haven't been many outbreaks linked to schools. (Plenty of cases in schools, but mostly one-offs.)

My complete guesses on causes (for Ontario) include: the government re-opened bars, restaurants, and gyms, and has been extremely hesitant to close them again; partly as a result government communication on gathering limits have been a confused mess, leading to poor compliance. (Don't gather with friends! Unless it's at a bar!) So for a long time people were socializing just a bit too much, and so the R_t was just a bit above 1.0. For weeks, that didn't seem like a big deal, and by the time it did, it was too late.

At the same time, the testing regime fell apart-- there was a huge spike in demand when schools reopened and everyone needed to get negative tests for the family every time a kid had a runny nose. The province couldn't keep up, so they changed from a walk-up system to an appointment-only system. That solved the backlog, but now the province is running too *few* tests. Oh, and contact tracing has completely fallen apart in the communities with outbreaks-- Toronto, Peel, and Ottawa-- and so we have no idea where most cases come from or how they're transmitted. There's some evidence that there's been a lot of transmission at weddings and at religious gatherings, and that workplaces-- especially warehouses and distribution centres in Peel-- are a major factor as well. But we really don't know. Well, except for the spin class than infected 60 people. We know about that one.

In response, our premier is just muddling along, scolding people for being irresponsible while refusing to close bars and restaurants. (They have banned bodychecking in major junior hockey though. That's something, I guess.)

So we're in for a few more months of this at best.


Posted by: MattD | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 12:01 PM
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My anecdotal observations: I think the UK has been pretty terrible about mask-wearing; most Covid-safe workplaces that people went back to in the summer were not, in fact, Covid safe (mine was laughable and involved people travelling from four distinct disease pools into an office to engage in risky behaviour (spitting) which is why I never went back); lots of entitled people think the rules don't apply to them and have been pretty terrible at actually self-isolating when told to; so so many people just had to have a summer holiday.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 12:03 PM
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I will always think that the only thing that knocked down infection rate in CA is that the weeks of wildfire smoke forced everyone to stay home. Couldn't even eat at outdoor dining.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 12:04 PM
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Somewhere (not here?) I heard that whatever the initial trigger, the problem in Europe was unwillingness to go for a second lockdown when it was actually needed. So instead of the sawtooth, we got months (?) of exponential growth.

I don't think I travel like normal people. Are y'all saying travel is the cause because travel automatically means more restaurants, more close-up interactions with other humans? That makes sense to me epidemiologically. If travel just means "infected people are more geographically dispersed" I don't see how the math works. I don't see how that increases the overall rates.

I showed the current Kevin Drum graphs in my classes this morning and discussed how different things were from two months ago, especially in Europe (and why that might be). I was happy also to be able to throw up the BBC headline about the good vaccine news.



Posted by: chill | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 12:09 PM
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14: your job sounds fascinating, though where the profits come in is unclear.


Posted by: chill | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 12:12 PM
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I will always think that the only thing that knocked down infection rate in CA is that the weeks of wildfire smoke forced everyone to stay home. Couldn't even eat at outdoor dining.

For whatever reason WA state has been consistently good (but not amazing), and looks like one of the more successful states overall. Where I live mask compliance has been quite good, and overall people are taking it seriously. But I don't know how much of that is just that there is a lot of outdoor recreation. Rates have gone up a lot this fall.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 12:12 PM
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Sorry, in conventional form that should have been
1. communal spitting
2. ?????
3. profits!


Posted by: chill | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 12:13 PM
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MA has been removing data from their daily releases and changing shutdown criteria on the fly as things have gotten worse. Not inspiring confidence. Even the People's Republic has been sneaking in changes, revising their sources for community averages to make things appear better and not trigger rollbacks. They were averaging Boston and Cambridge which made sense since there are a lot of bridges over the Charles, but as Boston has gotten a lot worse they removed them from our metrics.
Hockey was closed for two weeks but just reopened with masks required at all times instead of just on the bench. But they used that as an excuse to double the number of spectators allowed and permit body checking for ages 13+.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 12:27 PM
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They make watermelon seeds.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 12:29 PM
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13: this is familiar.

14: I see plenty of masks, specifically where they might be of use (no point in the middle of Hampstead Heath).

I think the long drawn out ineffectual dicking around period with things like "you must wear your mask while moving between your table and the toilets but it's ok to take it off at your table" didn't help.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 12:32 PM
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20: masks on under cages while playing!? Wow.

Ontario has no masks required once helmets are on, but we're not allowed to use the dressing rooms. Max 1 spectator per kid. In our region, we can't play teams from other organizations. So it's *lots* of practices and inter-squad scrimmages. 4 v 4 for all age groups with teams of 8+ goalie, so no more than 4 on the bench at once. No face-offs, and no body checking even in major junior once it starts up.

The GTHL, which is the biggest minor hockey association in the world, has entirely shut down until January.


Posted by: MattD | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 12:35 PM
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I have to admit I'm suffering from covid fatigue. We've been in a CSA since May, mostly because they deliver and that let us greatly reduce trips inside stores, but I'm strongly leaning towards dropping it. I'm sick of fighting with the kid about eating unfamiliar vegetables and I miss eating out or getting takeout. They give us enough for a full week, so skipping cooking any evening would mean something goes bad.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 12:35 PM
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to engage in risky behaviour (spitting)

The llama and alpaca farm; just add camels.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 12:49 PM
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From what I've seen in my neighborhood, it's definitely the bars and restaurants. I walk by a bunch regularly in the course of normal shopping/getting around, and ever since September it's been a complete return to normal. People packed in, no one except the staff wearing masks, everyone talking loudly: basically everything that experts say will cause spreading.

The idea that you could have lots of (mostly young) people in an enclosed space + alcohol, and still have social distancing was wishful thinking.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 12:49 PM
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Slightly OT: did anybody watch the SNL with Chappelle this weekend? Was I the only one who thought "wowsers, lotta people in that audience, sitting too damn close together in an enclosed space!"

Shudder.


Posted by: CHETAN R MURTHY | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 12:54 PM
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17: Skoal-testing facility.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 1:11 PM
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otoh, Asia seems to be doing ok. We heard from a bunch of friends over the weekend (Malaysia, Singapore, S.Korea, Taiwan) congratulating us re the election, and they all report that life has basically gone back to normal. Everything's back open, people are gathering in enclosed spaces, but everyone wears masks.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 1:14 PM
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How is it no one mentioned pro baseball?


Posted by: Roger the Cabin Boy | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 1:16 PM
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Certainly not around here.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 1:17 PM
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Ontario (pop. 15 million) was below 100 new cases/day in August; the current 7 day rolling average is now over 1,000. Test positivity around 4%. Hospitals are approaching capacity.

I want to push back on this as 'falling apart.' One, we always expected a spike in the fall when people moved indoors. Two, under five percent means you can still contact trace. Three, Utah (pop. 3.3 million) has 3000 cases a day with an over 20% positivity rate and I'm hearing way too much locally of 'even the places who had it under control are having spikes', not realizing that when other places have spikes they're not having crisis triage protocols approved by the governor.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 1:41 PM
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Nobody in Europe ever wore masks -- this is one of those things that blue-state Americans imagine because they imagine Europe as an idealized fantasy land. (I went out wearing a mask several times in August, and got stares.) As of August, everyone acted like things were mostly normal. Now I think people just don't really give a shit anymore. They just bored with the whole thing.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 1:54 PM
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Cala @32: yes, fair enough, what counts as success vs 'falling apart' is relative, and Ontario is doing OK as compared to some places, for sure. Though my family is in the mythical Atlantic Bubble, where they often go days on end with no new cases; that's my frame of reference, not "20% test positivity".
But while you can contact trace at under 5%, Ontario isn't really managing to do so. We're at a consistent 50% of cases listed as "community spread" or "no known epi": they have no idea where they came from. And in the spots with outbreaks, the contact tracing capacity is falling apart, and so people just aren't getting called.


Posted by: MattD | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 2:03 PM
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32: The anecdotes I heard were about young people at universities, like in Kingston, or huge road rally get together. Apparently, there are also virus deniers in Canada. People with cable can watch Fox News there.

In MA which looked like it was kind of sort of ok, we are now at 1800 cases per day, population 6.5 million. We have a lot of testing, so as I don't know how that compares to Ontario. Our wastewater surveillance is about where it was in April, so, it's not good.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 2:08 PM
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Also, testing got overwhelmed. My kids kept getting sick (just ordinary colds), and each time I took them to get a test, it took longer and longer.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 2:14 PM
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Walt - where are you?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 2:19 PM
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The Netherlands.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 2:23 PM
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I think people in MA are just tired. Even [redacted], who is pretty fanatic about masking and being extra careful, removes the mask in some situations where Gov. Baker's guidelines say not to. Everyone who hasn't gotten it yet has probably lucked out in risky situations now and then, and every time you do that, your inner Bayesian adjusts your priors.

On 91-DIVOC, the US actually shows one of the lowest CFRs (Case Fatality Rates) of developed countries. MA has a more or less horizontal CFR since August, in spite of number of cases increasing. It's easy to be complacent.

On the other hand, the Pfizer vaccine looks good (90 efficacy in their trial), and other vaccines that target the "Spike" are coming along soon after. The Pfizer one has the disadvantage that it must be maintained and transported at -80C, so it's not going to easily be distributed by your local Walgreen's. As Derek Lowe put it, we are approaching the finish line; do you want to risk it at this late date?


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 2:42 PM
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34: I wasn't trying for COVID poker, fair enough. Just so tired and worried.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 2:46 PM
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I split time between rural Normandie and a popular city on the coast in Bretagne and can vouch that the vast majority of people have been wearing masks here since early summer to the point where seeing someone without a mask was, and is, startling. Mask wearing was only expected outside the restaurants and bars, though, and the French love to spend time in restaurants, caf├ęs, and bars. Now, of course, we're all in enforced confinement and bars and restos are closed but encouraged to offer takeout.


Posted by: pomianne | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 2:56 PM
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Nobody in Europe ever wore masks -- this is one of those things that blue-state Americans imagine because they imagine Europe as an idealized fantasy land.

This is exactly what I thought. In hindsight, "enlightened topless Europe" didn't mean what I thought it meant.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 2:57 PM
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I have not eaten or drank inside in any structure other than my own house since March.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 3:08 PM
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43: I've eaten outside but not in another structure. I am so grateful to be working from home. In the hospital, I think people were able to eat outside, but now they have to eat inside. They are spacing the tables 6 ft apart, it I would not want to take my mask off in an environment where other people have been eating.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 3:12 PM
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40: Yup. So tired, so worried. Had a wonderful morning of feeling buoyed by the Pfizer announcement, and now I'm back to being tired and worried.

I've found international comparisons entirely disorienting. My sister lives in England, and we can't talk about it without getting annoyed with one another (which otherwise hardly ever happens). What each of us thinks of as overreacting or disastrous or terrifying seems unreasonable to the other, and there's no way to translate. (She is, to be clear, very worried about COVID. But we just have no common frame for 'what the hell should we do?')


Posted by: MattD | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 3:14 PM
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I've had a weekly visit to the pub for the past 2 months or so. Most of that, sitting outside, but there were a few weeks inside, with the English mask guidelines, that is, you need to wear a mask when moving around, entering or exiting, but masks are taken off when sitting down at the table. I suspect that's my major potential source of exposure. Not from the group of friends I go with,* but from strangers.

I haven't been in a shop, or any public indoor space (library, museum, etc), or any form of transport other than my own car without a mask, though.

* our kids are in the same class at school, and attend multiple sports clubs together outside school, too. So, while we might well all be a vector of infection for each other, it's not because we are sitting in the pub for 2 hours once a week. It's because our kids spend 30+ hours a week together inside, and another 5 hours a week together outside.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 3:16 PM
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I've often felt bad about how many outings I've made for groceries and other things, I feel/felt like I should have been more organized about delivery options and making bigger fewer trips, but still, I can say the same as 43 with only one single exception.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 3:34 PM
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I've eaten inside two other structure besides my own house - both sets of grandparents' houses when we visited them over the summer.

Oh, also my office at work, with the door closed.

I'm declaring all those exempt from where I'm constructing a category. I haven't eaten at a bar or restaurant.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 3:46 PM
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I was inside a large apartment building for like an hour canvassing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 3:48 PM
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And I do all the shopping indoors.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 3:49 PM
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One time I stole a candy bar. And I never learned how to read.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 3:52 PM
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I've stolen lots of candy bars, but never from a retailer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 3:57 PM
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I do regular grocery trips*, and get take-out semi-regularly (which I am very glad of). I have eaten in a restaurant a total of 4 times. Two of those times were at off-hours and we were, literally the only patrons. One other time there was one other table, which arrived as we were close to the end of the meal and was a ways away. The last time had a couple of other tables occupied and that was enough to decide against doing that again.

I have gotten two haircuts and am overdue for a third, but waiting to see if the case counts can start dropping again.

I have been to the office 3 times (since March) and have outside visits with friends or family 2-3 times a month.

Overall, I feel like I'm being fairly careful, and wouldn't say that it's just been luck to stay safe, but my risk clearly isn't zero.


* and everyone in the store is wearing masks.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 3:59 PM
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My vague impression, which people should correct me if I'm wrong, is that European governments give more clear rules on what you can and can't do, and then people gauge responsible behavior on whether you're following the government's rules. Whereas here the government does little to nothing, so there's a lot more cultural rules about not doing things which are technically allowed.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 4:04 PM
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The only risky thing I feel like I've done is we went to rent skis for the season and getting everyone fitted required staying in a pretty crowded store for over an hour. I brought the kids in from the car one at a time but I was in the store for longer than I was comfortable. We're basically moving to NH for December.
We're doing one big shopping trip a month- like $800 at Costco, two carts- and supplementing weekly or less with quick trips for fresh things at off hours.
Have not eaten indoors anywhere except work but have eaten outside once a week. Work cafeteria is all prepackaged free food to avoid lines and crowding. They did reopen the cafeteria with single person tables six feet apart but I'm eating in my office.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 4:11 PM
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We do delivery/takeout maybe once a week. Our main grocery shopping is by pick-up without going into the store, but I do another smaller grocery trip around once a week (usually to a smaller less busy store). Mask compliance at the grocery stores is quite good. We have outdoor hangouts with a friend or a small group (without masks due to drinking, but 6 feet apart) maybe twice a month. I've been to campus twice to get my mail or pick something up from my office, but haven't really interacted with anyone there. My parents stayed in our guest room, but we did all our socialization outdoors. I haven't done outdoor dining, I'd be open to it but RWM thinks the stress of it would make it not worth it. I've had a dentist's appointment and a couple doctors appointments, where they were masked but where I had to be unmasked at least part of the time (especially for the dentist). We've been cutting my hair at home. Early voting and the dentist were certainly the things that felt the most risky, though cumulatively it's the small group hangs that are probably the biggest risk even though they're outside. Not sure whether outdoor fire hangouts will keep being an option all winter long or if it's too cold. If you're really using the fire for warmth it's hard to maintain distance.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 4:13 PM
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As with pomianne, my friend in Paris reports that people wear masks when out in public, everywhere. Maybe he's undercounting covidiots, idunno.


Posted by: CHETAN R MURTHY | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 4:17 PM
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I swear there's an unfilled market niche for masks with a drinking-straw aperture (that can close). What would you all choose as the iconic "Covid-straw" cocktail? (Bonus for hot drinks in winter, I guess... have I ever had a hot drink through a straw? Unsure.)


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 4:18 PM
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55: Doctors in the hospitals can eat in their offices, but those without offices have to eat in designated areas, and it's hard to go a whole day without eating and drinking. Myself, I hardly even go to the grocery store, because we get meal kits delivered. During lockdown I went to nature reserves that were open because I was afraid to go outside locally when nobody wore masks. I'm working from home now, so I'm still pretty locked down. I don't wear a mask for more than a couple of hours a day, because I'm mostly at home.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 4:25 PM
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Forgot about the trips to grandparents' houses, sorry. I feel it's reasonable to not count the trip to my parent's house, considering that we got negative test results before we set foot indoors. I did feel we were a bit risky at Cassandane's parents' houses, but that was their risky behavior more than ours. And I've got my hair cut twice since March, indoors.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 4:26 PM
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I got a haircut. When I went, they had great PPE and air purifiers. Frankly, it felt safer than the doctors' offices often do. I've been to the dentist too.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 4:28 PM
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55: Tim's company did that when he was going in. During lockdown, but now that more people who weren't classified as essential have to go in, his cafeteria is open, and he has to pay, though there are fewer people working there.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 4:34 PM
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The problem with ordering groceries to be delivered is that getting three bags of peanut butter cups seems much worse with premeditation.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 4:36 PM
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58: It's a thing in Argentina.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 4:37 PM
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58: Definitely.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 4:38 PM
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Bombilla.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 4:41 PM
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My 15-year-old daughter has been cutting my hair. She's getting better at it.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 4:54 PM
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Of course, yerba mate. It was at the edge of my sense-memories.

I tested negative for covid after my perilous travels, but I do seem to have this zombie cold that never makes me sick enough to furnish an excuse for laziness, but also doesn't progress beyond the scratchy throat and sand-blasted dry eyes. I don't like it at all.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 4:57 PM
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I've had bad allergies so often this year. It's not great even aside from the Covid.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 5:01 PM
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My vague impression, which people should correct me if I'm wrong, is that European governments give more clear rules on what you can and can't do

Rules change frequently and there's been a lot of confusion about them. They're often highly arbitrary, like the rule of six limiting gathering size--which, when we were allowed in restaurants, only applied to *groups* of people, not the entire collection of people there.

Contra Chetan's report of Paris, hardly anyone (besides me) wears masks outside in London. Sometimes if they're going to a shop. But there's a corner store a block from me that doesn't put up barriers and people don't wear masks in. Experience in stores more generally have been mixed; I have occasionally heard the famous exasperated British tut-tutting but it's been rare. It seems more often people get snitty when someone points out that they're flaunting an otherwise unenforced rule.

I can't believe people have traveled to Spain for vacations during this. I felt bad enough about driving to Scotland, despite being very isolated there and taking the trip back in one shot.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 5:30 PM
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If you're worried about feeling bad over nothing, next time you drive somewhere, you can do some vandalism on the way.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 9-20 5:34 PM
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54: The French government had established clear mask rules quite unlike the US government and, as with the UK, according to ttaM, people in restaurants were required to wear masks when moving around but not while seated. Outside, masks were required and every shop and store has a sign saying masks are required with small shops only allowing 2 people at a time inside. I haven't been to Paris since Covid's advent but I did go regularly to Caen, a large city close to me in Normandie, and Deauville, filled with Parisians, in the summer and fall, and saw everyone wearing masks although I was alarmed at all the people in the restaurants. Things went wrong and here we are, but maybe it could have been worse? In related news here, French teachers are preparing to strike this week to protest Covid risks, the government created and continues to refine an app that attempts to notify those who have been exposed to infection, and the country's health emergency status has been extended to February.


Posted by: pomianne | Link to this comment | 11-10-20 2:09 AM
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Where I live, mask compliance in indoor spaces has been pretty good, actually. There are a minority of people who don't comply. Almost universally boomer arseholes -- male and female -- and young men. However, almost no-one wears masks in outdoor spaces. People wearing masks when just walking down the pavement or in parks are definitely in the minority.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-10-20 3:06 AM
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Of course, wearing a mask in the open air is essentially pointless as nobody has ever been infected that way, perhaps barring pseudo-outside events like the White House outbreak (closely packed under a marquee for hours).

Literally everyone on the tube wears a mask but that's not hard because there is fucking *nobody* on public transport. As far as I can see, the numbers are as low as they were in June and they didn't go up in the summer at all.

(Traffic, though, is utter insanity, like a revival of that 80s/90s suburban thing of driving your kids half a mile to school in a giant tank.)


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 11-10-20 3:28 AM
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I just realized I was wrong about a universal requirement for mask wearing outside during the summer/early fall -- it was just applied in certain areas (Saint Malo being one), but, in my experience, at some point in the summer, virtually everyone was wearing a mask while outside in commercial areas in my neck of the woods.


Posted by: pomianne | Link to this comment | 11-10-20 3:32 AM
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re: 74.last

Ealing council has gone all in with the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods thing.* Which has, ironically, resulted in a massive increase in traffic. The road by my son's primary school is now a permanent mile long traffic jam from dawn till dusk, with catastrophic impacts on air quality. Journeys that used to take 20 minutes by car take an hour, and journeys that used to be a pleasant walk or cycle are now carried out against a backdrop of car exhausts and noise.

This has resulted in a predictable outcry from the car-invested gammon types who drive everywhere in their giant tanks. But, to be honest, even for someone like me who rarely drives and who cycles or walks everywhere, and who is very sympathetic to moves designed to reduce traffic, it's been a sudden and substantial drop in quality of living. Also, lots of the change in road layout ostensibly to support cycling has been a total disaster too as it narrows roads -- so there's now no space for cyclists to safely share the road with cars -- and it (literally) runs the cycle routes on pavements and round the back of bus stops. Which means that you are continually sharing space with dog walkers and phone-zombies. So, you can't cycle any faster than slow walking pace, or you'll run the risk of killing someone.

* which basically means stopping people using certain leafy residential streets as through-roads, and funnelling all the traffic onto certain "arteries", which are ... also residential streets, but less leafy, but fuck those people, sucks to be them.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-10-20 4:20 AM
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re: 74

I have to admit, I rarely wear a mask outdoors. Now and again in certain busy pinch points, like dropping my son at school, or a few other very busy spots. Generally, though, I don't.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-10-20 4:22 AM
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I think if you go to a large crowd event, like a protest or Biden's speech, you should, wear a mask even if it's outdoors.

We just had a regulation go through that you are supposed to wear one in public even when you can socially distance. I wonder which group of people they are trying to target with that one.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11-10-20 4:37 AM
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76: Talk more about what you think went wrong? I'm very sympathetic in general to that kind of traffic calming, so I'm wondering if you think this was particularly badly done, or if there wouldn't have been any way to do it without the paradoxical effect?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-20 4:45 AM
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I wonder if part of 76 is that it hasn't been able to push people on to public transport because they're simply not willing to shift given the pandemic.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-10-20 4:59 AM
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74: Yeah, but people go inside to other places pretty often (less so right now), so either means they're taking masks on/off when they go inside--which, fair enough if they're careful with their hands and sanitize, but I never see that--or they don't wear masks inside. I just wear one because there's always (what I would consider) busy pinch points on tiny sidewalks, at crossings, narrow pedestrian bridges, etc. I've walked past people who have openly sneezed without a mask or covering their face--like, I don't know what the probability of transfer in that situation is, but I bet it's higher than nothing. Anyway, I still try to keep a distance from other pedestrians wherever possible but it isn't always possible. I've only used public transportation once recently, on the Overground; mask usage was pretty high for here, maybe 75%, but that's still lower than I'm comfortable with.

I admit there is a degree of shaming on my part: it's so fucking easy, just wear a damn mask. It's also a visual reminder to everyone, and yourself, that we still need to be careful.

Driving your kid half a mile in a tank has always been standard for most of America. I've heard people make the argument for it in walkable urban areas. My council area has also done some low traffic initiatives, and there were protests by gammony sorts, some of which were apparently well known to live outside London. No changes anywhere where I'd notice the difference, though.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 11-10-20 5:02 AM
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re: 79/80

[Rant]

I think part of it is what ajay says, people not using public transport. But, public transport is going down those same routes, so subject to the same traffic. So that's not a magic bullet.

I think several things:

1. They are basically pushing all of the traffic north-south throughout the entire borough down 3 roads, and have closed _all_ cross routes between them. The only east-west routes are at the northern most and southern most ends of those roads. So if you want to get from one point to another, you need to drive drive three sides of a square. So, in many cases, the distance you have to drive has tripled or more and is now funnelled through pinch points. Every car travelling every route between any 2 points in the borough basically has to now queue down the same roads. They have been quite blatant in some of their publicity material, that making driving really shitty for everyone is sort of an intended consequence. Again, I'm not entirely against that, but the outcome is that lots of residential streets and school areas are now filled with cars all of the time.
2. Each of those roads in turn has been narrowed, ostensibly to provide more pedestrian walking space, or to provide for shared cycling/walking routes. However, the logistics of how those have been done varies from quite good in a few spots -- credit where credit's due, there are a few nicely constructed and laid out sections of cycle lane -- to really terrible in others. I'm struck by just how bad some of the improvements are, as they put cyclists, pedestrians and people emerging from tube stations all into single shared spaces while moving in multiple directions, with no clear rights of way or lane markings, and have taken away space for cyclists who want to ride "vehicularly" (i.e. quickly as a road user). If you are someone slowly cycling on a Dutch style bike at 5mph it's probably fine. If you are a pedestrian or cyclist trying to get somewhere and do something, or you are a parent with unpredictably moving small children -- which is the whole thing you are trying to get people do do rather than drive -- it's really not good. I've been cycling quite a lot recently, and find myself not using most of the designated cycle routes, and instead being forced into the busy roads which are now less safe for me to ride in, which, I presume, was not the intention.
3. They haven't done anything useful about parking, so some of the newly busy roads -- the designated routes -- are heavily parked which blocks them up even more.
4. They _deliberately_ removed the bus stops. As in, they took away the pulling in places where buses could pull in to pick up passengers. So if a bus stops to pick people up, all of the cars behind have to wait. Which has a kind of concertina effect and also means that quite often you get multiple buses queued up behind each other, whereas before, the bus behind would have just let the one in front pick up and kept moving so they "leapfrog" each other. Now that can't happen, so the buses all move at the speed of the slowest one. So public transport has slowed.
5. Ealing council basically use traffic fines to make up the budget shortfall caused by years of Tory austerity,* so regular confusing route changes, unclear signage, bus lanes that change their location on a regular basis, roads that suddenly become one way, etc are a feature, not a bug.

* Again, I'm not entirely unsympathetic to this, but it's blatant and at odds with having polices that make life easier for everyone and encourage walking and cycling.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-10-20 5:28 AM
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Similarly, the LTN in Cambridge was a serious fuckup, making life much harder for the small shops along the street most affected; making it slower to cycle along (I know this because it was a route I used to cycle often to the station) and no safer for pedestrians. The distance that takes Ume a 20 minute walk was 40 minutes by car the other day, almost all of it in solid traffic jams.


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 11-10-20 9:14 AM
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and have closed _all_ cross routes between them

Sounds like they could profitably open all the cross routes to bikes only?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-10-20 9:17 AM
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Sorry, in conventional form that should have been
1. communal spitting
2. ?????
3. profits!

Have just realised I dropped that and ran. I work in the wine industry, if that helps explain the spitting!


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 11-10-20 1:37 PM
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I assume they stopped putting the spat out wine back in the bottles until there's a Covid vaccine.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-10-20 1:42 PM
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Now with added Covid! is our tagline.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 11-10-20 1:44 PM
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One hypothesis I heard only this week: Covid is just seasonal because Vitamin D is strongly protective against it, and synthesis of Vitamin D in Europe stops in October. https://twitter.com/toad_spotted/status/1325879634999857153

The third tweet in that series links to a PDF from 2008 that discusses flu but sounds like it's about the coronavirus. Asymptomatic superspreading of flu happens more easily than families infecting each other one by one, they think. We may have just assumed the first person with flu symptoms was the infection source, rather than everyone's immune system going down at once due to lack of Vitamin D.


Posted by: Noumenon72 | Link to this comment | 11-10-20 11:10 PM
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84: I assume that's what they've done. But even in Cambridge it's rare for families to have child-carrier Dutch bikes and I've never seen any at all elsewhere in England. I wouldn't dare use one in London, certainly.


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 12:05 AM
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re: 84

Most of the cross-routes are open to bikes. I don't have any problem when cycling as long as I'm only going east-west and never travelling north or south at any point. The minute I am, I'm back into heavy slow moving traffic without enough road space to cycle safely. And, as NW says in 89, that doesn't help a lot of road users. I do sometimes see child-carrier and cargo bikes around here, but a lot of the roads aren't safe to use them.

I bought a road bike* at the end of the summer and have been doing 60 -120 minutes a day about 4 or 5 days a week as exercise, as well as the usual shopping trips etc which I did before on my crappy bike, and have been exploring more or less all of the surrounding area as far south as the southern side of Richmond park, west towards Heathrow, east as far as Hammersmith, so I have a pretty good sense of how easy or difficult cycling is. Some of the cycling lines that have been created, e.g. in and around Kew, work pretty well. You can ride fairly fast, you are quite well protected from cars, and you are not at risk from dog walkers, phone zombies, and being doored by people in parked cars. Ealing's LTN approach, on the other hand, fails for everyone except the council's traffic fines department.

re: 88

I take vitamin D anyway, but I've been much more careful about taking it regularly and taking a higher dose, as a result of Covid. I read various vitamin D related hypotheses back in early summer and was convinced enough that it seemed a worthwhile thing to do.

* stolen, last week. Something I am still really angry about.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 4:12 AM
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90: Really sorry to hear about the bike theft. It is enraging.


Posted by: Charlie W | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 4:27 AM
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90: Does your insurance cover that? Also, there was something called a U-lock that I had which was supposed to be so indestructible that they would give you money if your bike was stolen- though that might have been void in NY.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 4:33 AM
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re: 92

I had a proper Sold Secure certified D/U-lock locking the bike to a metal bike rack and an additional chain locking the wheels to the frame. That did no good. The bike was also, at the time, inside a secure communal car park (under my building) which needs an electronic fob to gain entry.

There's no point in trying to claim on insurance. The bike was second hand, and the nominal value of the bike wasn't a lot more than the excess on the insurance. The actual cost to replace is quite a bit higher, unfortunately, so I'm out by quite a lot money. I'm, thankfully, picking up a new bike in a few weeks. Bikes are like gold dust at the moment.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 6:01 AM
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re: 91

Yeah, when I lived in Oxford, I had bikes stolen a few times. That was sort of expected, though, so I only ever owned terrible 60 quid second hand 20kg mountain bikes, and only used cheap locks as the cost of replacing a lock was as much as the cost of replacing a bike. This is much more annoying.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 6:02 AM
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93: All the renters' insurance policies I've had so far covered cost to replace, not just actual cash value. (Though the one time I claimed on it for a bike theft, the insurance company dropped us shortly after and we had to find a new policy.) Might be worth getting a cost-to-replace policy if you're getting another fancy bike...


Posted by: Ponder Stibbons | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 7:27 AM
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Ugh. Our positive rate is above 5% for the first time since June. And they're still not closing the restaurants or bars. Just requiring them to limit capacity, which they should have been doing all along.

I'm not sure how solid the vitamin D hypothesis is, but acting on it it is harmless enough, so why not. Most of us could probably use some supplement anyway.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 8:06 AM
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We have gummy vitamins and they taste good enough they don't have to work.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 8:12 AM
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Vitamin D deficiency is endemic in the Persian Gulf region. I tested low for it a few years ago and the doctor put me on 50,000iu every other week that he then adjusted to once a week just before the pandemic hit.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 8:16 AM
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The gummies give me 1,000 IU every day.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 8:18 AM
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Plus I drink about a quart and a half of milk every week.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 8:20 AM
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96: I am not competent to evaluate this stuff, but I've heard a lot of people say that there's just a ton of not well supported vitamin d research and people just can't stop trying to study it.

I so desperately want to believe it. Boosts HDL etc.! In April in New England One year, I was tested and found to be 27ng, so my PCP said take 1000iu and did not bother to retest. 30 was the cut off then, but now the IOM says you really only need a level of 20 and most people don't need to be tested. I take half of a multivitamin dose (mainly to get a bit of iodine, a not too high dose of b vitamins, and some iron has a little bit of vitamin D, and 2000 in of vitamin d, because that's the dose Costco sells cheap and theirs is USP verified too. I take fish oil too, because a study said that it helped with anxiety and some other studies showed help with depression in people who were not heavy consumers of fish. I think the vitamin D helps with my seasonal affective disorder, but Jo Ann Manson's enormous VITAL study allegedly did not find vitamin D to be useful for depression. They gave it to healthy people to see if it prevented depression and found nothing - which is a different group.

So I still take it, and it's cheap, but I think it's probably a placebo.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 8:29 AM
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98: So D3 replete faster than D2 though all the doctors were trained to prescribe d2 in high doses once a week. 5,000 iu D3 is probably just as effective.

My multi gives me a bit of iron which I want for the iron, since I am giving blood.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 8:31 AM
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And the gummies taste pretty good. So there's that.

For a bit of distraction from constant grimness, can anyone come up with a defense of this incredibly hideous statue that's supposed to honor Mary Wollstonecraft? I can't figure out what they were thinking.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 8:38 AM
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Tiny tinfoil titties! Hooray!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 8:41 AM
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I'm pretty sure it's been determined that flu viruses survive better in air that's warmer and drier. That may not explain the seasonality entirely.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 8:42 AM
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Colder and drier.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 8:42 AM
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103 and 104: What is the mass of silver below supposed to signify?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 8:43 AM
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A shiny contribution to the public culture.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 8:44 AM
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She added that "there is no reason to depict Mary naked," and that the statue's petite, slender body undermines the campaign's aim of representing the "everywoman."

The combination of pointless nudity, the figure being hilariously small compared to the size of the statue, the "petite, slender body", and the statue's grim face that looks 40 years older than the body (and weird pubic bulge) means truly nobody is happy. 0.0000% of people.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 8:44 AM
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I assumed they had her wearing a merkin.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 8:46 AM
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Of course closing restaurants and bars is the right answer, but in the US it's just not doable at either the state or local level, because they don't have the money or budget flexibility to make owners and employees whole. Only the feds can do that. Which is so totally maddening when Trumpers claim that he basically did what he could. No, moron, in our system it had to be federal. And it was, for like 10 weeks. Which really did work, at the time, to limit spread. But then we quit because it was working.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 8:49 AM
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I thought that, in these divisive times, it was heartening that so many people of diverse backgrounds could find community in their agreement that that statue sucks.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 8:49 AM
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108 A shiny contribution to the pubic culture. FTFY


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 8:58 AM
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111 is right. It's also impossible to ignore that they looked at who was dying and where (at that time) before stopping it because they want some people dead.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 9:00 AM
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I would be interested to see any examples of any public statues - statues of particular people, not just public art - that have gone up in the last forty years or so and weren't shit. I am imagining London isn't the place to start looking.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 1:23 PM
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How do people feel about the Martin Luther King Memorial in DC? I don't remember it being widely reviled.

https://washington.org/visit-dc/martin-luther-king-jr-memorial


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 1:44 PM
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That's a nice statue.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 1:47 PM
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It seems like most of the statues of real people that go up nowadays are of sports figures, and most of them are adequate enough to go unnoticed. Then every now and then you get the statue of Cristiano Ronaldo looking like he's taken a frying pan to the face, or the sci-fi horror of Walter Johnson with three right arms.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 2:00 PM
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The Joyce statue in Dublin went up in 1990 and I think is a perfectly good statue. He's just out for a stroll.


Posted by: lourdes kayak | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 2:02 PM
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Edgar Allan Poe statue in Baltimore, c.1916
Edgar Allan Poe statue in Boston, c.2014

I like the new one.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 2:08 PM
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Is this thing a statue? Can't be more than 10 years old.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 2:11 PM
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Maybe I'm just a philistine, but I can't say that this bust of JFK is particularly flattering.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 2:11 PM
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They did a whole statue of Mayor Caliguri in that style. I've always kind of liked it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 2:14 PM
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It's a little more subtle.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 2:17 PM
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Speaking of art, I only recently learned that this display we have discussed often had an actual human skull in it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 2:21 PM
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123: Maybe it's because it's not a closeup picture, but I get much less of an "I'm melting." vibe off of that statue.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 2:29 PM
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For reasons that I don't fully understand, This statue makes me think of "The Abominable History of the Man with Copper Fingers."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 2:35 PM
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Has anyone ever linked this demented Nathan Bedford Forrest statue? It's pretty famous in Tennessee.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 3:15 PM
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All Chicagoans honor the Michael Jordan statue.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 4:03 PM
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Why is he jumping over Arnold.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 4:05 PM
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On the original topic- someone figured out how to reconstruct the trend line that the state removed from their reporting and got it put back in the local newspaper's daily updates. It's horrendously worse than what the state has been using. They were inflating the positivity denominator with recurring asymptomatic testing. Actual positive rate over 10%.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 4:16 PM
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131: Who is getting the recurring asymptomatic testing? Can we compare data across States? Maryland looked worse than us, but maybe they were reporting something different.

Does the brown line weight individuals in any given week who test positive as a percentage of all individuals tested during that week?

Nobody gets tested 2 x in one day, so I'm not sure how you measure this on a daily basis. Can you dumb this down for me?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11-11-20 4:23 PM
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WE have ten days to move in. There are no carpets, no walls are painted; the bathroom needs new walls, flooring and a ceiling as well as everything else. One of the builders has just announced that his daughter and her mother have both tested positive after he had custody of the daughter at the weekend. He is awaiting his own test result. We are quite safe, since we haven't seen him for a week now. But if/when the whole crew goes down and has to self-isolate, there is no way in hell we can move into when we need to.

First world problems, I know, but expensive and inconvenient for all that.


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 11-12-20 7:14 AM
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Yikes. Best wishes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-12-20 7:20 AM
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Oh no. That sounds like a situation that could really gain momentum in the wrong way.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-12-20 7:55 AM
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Best wishes NW, that really sucks


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11-12-20 8:47 AM
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thanks.We'll see how it goes. Not that we have any choice ...


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 11-12-20 8:55 AM
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