The Insightful Troll

Rants and ruminations.

Do-it-yourself Masks

In the recommendation published online Friday, the CDC said that because the virus can “spread between people interacting in close proximity,” they would recommend “wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”

Here are detailed instructions for do-it-yourself masks made from whatever materials you have available.

Stay at home, wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, keep your distance from others when out, and, when out, wear a face mask.

The Worm Is Back!

I am so glad they went back to the original logo!

Enter a cleaner, sleeker design born of the Federal Design Improvement Program and officially introduced in 1975. It featured a simple, red unique type style of the word NASA. The world knew it as “the worm.” Created by the firm of Danne & Blackburn, the logo was honored in 1984 by President Reagan for its simplistic, yet innovative design.

NASA was able to thrive with multiple graphic designs. There was a place for both the meatball and the worm. However, in 1992, the 1970s brand was retired - except on clothing and other souvenir items - in favor of the original late 1950s graphic.

Until today.

Reality Has Endorsed Bernie Sanders

In an opinion piece in The New Yorker:

The argument for resuming a viable social-welfare state is about not only attending to the immediate needs of tens of millions of people but also reëstablishing social connectivity, collective responsibility, and a sense of common purpose, if not common wealth. In an unrelenting and unemotional way, covid-19 is demonstrating the vastness of our human connection and mutuality. Our collectivity must be borne out in public policies that repair the friable welfare infrastructure that threatens to collapse beneath our social weight. A society that allows hundreds of thousands of home health-care workers to labor without health insurance, that keeps school buildings open so that black and brown children can eat and be sheltered, that allows millionaires to stow their wealth in empty apartments while homeless families navigate the streets, that threatens eviction and loan defaults while hundreds of millions are mandated to stay inside to suppress the virus, is bewildering in its incoherence and inhumanity.

Naomi Klein has written about how the political class has used social catastrophes to create policies that allow for private plunder. She calls it “disaster capitalism,” or the “shock doctrine.” But she has also written that, in each of these moments, there are also opportunities for ordinary people to transform their conditions in ways that benefit humanity. The class-driven hierarchy of our society will encourage the spread of this virus unless dramatic and previously unthinkable solutions are immediately put on the table. As Sanders has counselled, we must think in unprecedented ways. This includes universal health care, an indefinite moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, the cancellation of student-loan debt, a universal basic income, and the reversal of all cuts to food stamps. These are the basic measures that can staunch the immediate crisis of deprivation—of millions of layoffs and millions more to come.

The Sanders campaign was an entry point to this discussion. It has shown public appetite, even desire, for vast spending and new programs. These desires did not translate into votes because they seemed like a risky endeavor when the consequence was four more years of Trump. But the mushrooming crisis of covid-19 is changing the calculus. As federal officials announce new trillion-dollar aid packages daily, we can never go back to banal discussions of “How will we pay for it?” How can we not? Now is a moment to remake our society anew.

Trump’s Border Wall-Texas Sh*t Show!

When racism meets industrial scale arts and craft. Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal exposes ridiculous the border wall is. It is amazing that this is happening in America.

I would pay to see Donald Trump vs Nayda Alvarez !

Trump & Pence on Healthcare

When Pence was asked by Fox no less, about how we are going to cover Americans without healthcare - Pence:

So I was at Walmart this afternoon in South Carolina ….

The pandemic has shown not only the fragile state of the economy, but how flawed our health care system is.

With the Covid-19 pandemic expected to cause 20+ million being unemployed - adding to the already 40+ million people without health insurance, now is the time for a single payer health care initiative if ever there was one.

If they are serious, here is how you would answer that question:

For now, the next stimulus bill will cover all Corona Virus related medical costs. Americans will not have to worry. Once we get past this pandemic - and we will - I will be meeting with both sides of the isle so that we can provide every American guaranteed access to the health care they need

But instead we get a long winded answer, that talks about how Walmart is stepping up to the plate. Trump isn’t going to do anything. Biden won’t either. We need Bernie and his Revolution.

Release the Original Trilogy

From Drew Stewart over at Wired:

For the past 20-plus years, we’ve been allowing the Saga Editions to stand in for the originals in box sets and in retrospective videos. An entire generation is growing up under the mistaken impression that these are the movies their parents fell in love with. We can’t stand for this anymore. The Saga Editions could exist in their own corner, but there is no reason that the original pieces of film history should be locked in a vault somewhere.

The problem I’ve been seeing recently is an “I got mine” attitude. Disney doesn’t seem to mind the fan restorations, and the more people go around saying “Well, I guess it’s not coming—doesn’t matter to me because I’ve got [Despecialized/4K77/VHS],” the less likely it becomes that Disney will bother to release the original versions. I’m not saying we can’t have and enjoy the fan preservations, I’m saying we can’t pretend they would be anything compared to a professional restoration of backups we know they have just sitting in an archive. We have to make the demand.

Even J.J. Abrams recently said in an interview that “it would be great to have [the originals] available for a mainstream audience.” But when he asked about it, he was told such a release was not necessarily possible “for reasons I don’t quite understand.” So when he watches the originals, he has to watch Despecialized. The man directed two Star Wars movies probably has to pirate the same versions fans do. That’s insane.

The simple fact is that the originals are historical artifacts that can stand on their own, separate from the franchise they birthed. For all the reasons detailed here, fans should be able to watch the versions that hit theaters some four decades ago. Moreover, Disney paid $4 billion for this franchise, it should want fans to want to watch them. The demand is there; the company could likely bring a lot of converts to Disney+ if they just met it.

This isn’t a call for a boycott, nor is it a call for a Disney/Lucasfilm pile-on. Instead, it’s a call for one thing, and one thing only: #ReleaseTheOriginalTrilogy.

Virus Denial Resembles Climate Denial

Paul Krugman, in an opinion piece in New York Times, has the best explanation on conservative’s virus denial:

But I suspect that the disastrous response to Covid-19 has been shaped less by direct self-interest than by two indirect ways in which pandemic policy gets linked to the general prevalence of zombie ideas in right-wing thought.

First, when you have a political movement almost entirely built around assertions that any expert can tell you are false, you have to cultivate an attitude of disdain toward expertise, one that spills over into everything. Once you dismiss people who look at evidence on the effects of tax cuts and the effects of greenhouse gas emissions, you’re already primed to dismiss people who look at evidence on disease transmission. This also helps explain the centrality of science-hating religious conservatives to modern conservatism, which has played an important role in Trump’s failure to respond.

Second, conservatives do hold one true belief: namely, that there is a kind of halo effect around successful government policies. If public intervention can be effective in one area, they fear — probably rightly — that voters might look more favorably on government intervention in other areas. In principle, public health measures to limit the spread of coronavirus needn’t have much implication for the future of social programs like Medicaid. In practice, the first tends to increase support for the second.

Tracking Spring Breakers Across the US

This video has a great example of why social distancing is so crucial in our fight against COVID-19. Using anonymized cell phone geo-location from people who recklessly gathered on a single beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, this video shows just how far those people spread across the country when they went home, possibly taking COVID-19 with them. They ended up all over the country.

Social Distancing - a Political Divide?

McKay Coppins writes in the Atlantic:

At the driving range, while Frost and his like-minded friends slathered on hand sanitizer and kept six feet apart, the white-haired Republicans seemed to delight in breaking the new rules. They made a show of shaking hands, and complained loudly about the “stupid hoax” being propagated by virus alarmists. When their tee times were up, they piled defiantly into golf carts, shoulder to shoulder, and sped off toward the first hole.

Frost felt conflicted. He wanted to encourage the men, some of whom he’d known for years, to be more careful. “I care about their well-being,” he told me. “But it’s a tough call, just personally, because it’s become a political thing.”

These people should be arrested. Confirmed cases are at almost 788,000 worldwide and 37,000+ dead as of the time of this writing according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The US has now surpassed Italy as the epicenter with 164,610 cases and 3,170 deaths.

It is really scary how a lot of people are taking pride in their ignorance and putting the health of everyone in the country at risk. This is not a hoax. It does not discriminate based on sex, religion, ethnic origin, color of your skin or country of origin. It certainly doesn’t care what your political affiliations are.

Minimal Photography

I came across Marcus Cederberg and his minimalist photography. Amazing work - so calming in this time of uncertainty. What is minimalist photography you ask?

To be able to tell as much as possible, with as little as possible, is the challenge with minimalism photography. I try not only to make the viewer somewhat curious but I also often try to tell a small story with the picture. And doing that with as much negative space as possible, is real challenge sometimes !

Here are some of his photographs - please visit his site and you can follow his work on instagram pages.

China's Air Pollution Has Dropped During the Coronavirus Outbreak

A sliver lining from the Covid-19 pandemic? I’ll take any good news at the moment. Here is the satellite imagery of Wuhan from NASA:

NASA stated on Saturday that it had seen "significant decreases" in noxious nitrogen dioxide over China through February. Nitrogen dioxide is emitted by burning fuel, cars, power plants, and construction machinery, and it can aggravate respiratory symptoms and asthma, among other negative effects.

China's cities rank among the most polluted in the world, with Hotan and Kashgar in the top 20 according to an IQAir report.

NASA published satellite imagery on Saturday, which you can see above, showing nitrogen dioxide levels in China before and after the country began imposing lockdowns on 23 January.

The Fed's Response to COVID-19

Covid-19 is turning out to be one of those events in history that will have a repercussions far into the future. Maybe this will finally expose the gross inequalities in our society. Eric Levitz writes in the Intelligencer

The coronavirus crisis is changing our world in many sorrowful respects. It has rendered our already atomized and aching society poorer, sicker, and lonelier than it was a few months ago. If this week’s bailout legislation plays out as some progressive analysts predict, the pandemic’s economic side effects will accelerate corporate concentration and income inequality.

But this disaster also offers a vital opportunity for beneficent forms of change. By accentuating the perversity of our nation’s employment-based health insurance model — which is now causing millions of workers to lose coverage in the midst of a pandemic — the crisis creates an opening for progressives to remake the politics of health reform. By spotlighting the indispensable labor that grocery store clerks and delivery drivers contribute, it could help unionists illustrate the market’s unjust undervaluation of such “low-skill” work. And by politicizing just about every aspect of our economy — which is to say, by forcing Congress to demonstrate the private sector’s dependence on the state, and to allocate scarce subsidies and credit between corporations, small businesses, and individuals — the crisis gives us a fighting chance to secure a more democratic and egalitarian form of economic governance.

Unless, ya know, we just throw up our hands, curse those clowns in Congress, and wait for Jerome Powell & Co. to restore some facsimile of the world we just lost.

The British on US Healthcare Costs

With the US becoming ground zero for the Corona virus epidemic, our health care systems' flaws are being brutally exposed. Here is PoliticsJOE asking the British, who have the NHA, what they think it costs in the us to have basic health care services.

Their comment on our ridiculous system is:

Is there a price for that?


So if you are poor you are dead


California Once Had a Plan

As reported in the Los Angeles Times:

They were ready to roll whenever disaster struck California: three 200-bed mobile hospitals that could be deployed to the scene of a crisis on flatbed trucks and provide advanced medical care to the injured and sick within 72 hours.

Each hospital would be the size of a football field, with a surgery ward, intensive care unit and X-ray equipment. Medical response teams would also have access to a massive stockpile of emergency supplies: 50 million N95 respirators, 2,400 portable ventilators and kits to set up 21,000 additional patient beds wherever they were needed.

So what happened to it all? As usual, the government got rid of it all in order to save money. At one point, the California government even considered selling the equipment on eBay. The infuriating part is all of this cost no more than $5.8 million per year - today, California will pay a lot more then that to help Corona virus patients:

In televised remarks Monday, Newsom said the state will lease beds in struggling hospitals around the state and is eyeing convention centers, motels and state university dormitories for use as hospital wards. One such lease, in Daly City, may cost the state as much as $3.2 million a month for 177 beds.

You read that right – $3.2 million a month for just 177 beds !!!. When this is all over, we need to reassess how we prepare for future emergencies. Because in an ever connected world, the risk of outbreaks like the Covid-19 virus are higher than ever before.

Trumps Evolution on COVID-19

Trumps handling of Coronavirus pandemic. This is what happens when you put the most self centered man in the most powerful office in the world.

US Is Now the Epicenter

From the New York Times:

There are now at least 82,174 cases of the new coronavirus disease, COVID-19, in the United States, according to worldometer, a website that tracks coronavirus cases. That’s higher than the case count in either Italy (which has 80,589 cases) or China (which has 81,285 cases).

And it is a sprawling, cacophonous democracy, where states set their own policies and President Trump has sent mixed messages about the scale of the danger and how to fight it, ensuring there was no coherent, unified response to a grave public health threat.

Safe Grocery Shopping in a Pandemic

Dr. Jeffrey VanWingen MD has made a excellent video on how to take the proper precautions when dealing with groceries and take out food. If a lot of this seems like overkill - it isn’t. This is known as the paradox of preparation.

Hopefully we all look back on these videos and chuckle at our over reactions.