Friday Reads: Know where you StandPosted: May 22, 2020
Good Day Sky Dancers!
There are times when knowing where you stand is difficult. I chose the pictures today from the Know Where You Stand campaign because they’re very cool but they are also very telling. “Seth Tara’s “Know Where You Stand” series of photos inspire us never to forget our history”.
“Know Where You Stand” is a series of photos created by the American, self-taught artist, Seth Tara for the History Channel. The idea behind these images is pretty clear: the beach where you’re now relaxing and having a good time with your friends may be a beach where our ancestors fought and died in the World War II. So, don’t take everything you have for granted and always remember that your grandparents or great-grandparents fought and died for your freedom!
The images are quite powerful. Tara mixes historical photos of a certain place with modern pictures of the same place. So you see a group of lovers in front of the Eiffel Tower and Adolf Hitler morphing in the same picture.
Those of you that have known me know that I have an affinity for history. It was my major in college. It was my favorite subject throughout school. My mother’s passion for travel was planned based on getting here to there while taking in every historical site and national park possible. She carefully plotted and planned our vacations for years to include houses, forts, ruins, ghost towns, native american sites, battlefields, and presidential libraries. I’m probably leaving something out but I have about 20 scrap books with photos of it all or I did last time I stuck them in the closet above the refrigerator and yes my ceiling is that tall because that’s what they did back in the 1860s.
My first job was a museum docent in a restored Civil War General’s house in Iowa where my mom led the restoration and purchase drives. So, that was even history of all sorts.
Also, there were always the stories from the family about growing up in the depression, fighting in the various wars, being there with someone when something happened. I was always surrounded by history but never felt I was ever going to live any of it because I was stuck in Omaha, Nebraska which nearly every sit com used as the home for their hayseed friends and relatives or the location of absolutely nothing. I used to just dream I would live some real history.
And, then I moved to New Orleans where I really was surrounded by tons of history from the past and can very much see this series of photos being successfully done here. However, first came Hurricane Katrina and living through that piece of history was something else altogether. My Dad opened way up with his war stories when I started calling him from here and describing what I was living through. It was, he said, the only thing that helped him relate to it. But, now, here we all sit in stewpot of a disintegrating democracy, an insane, wicked, corrupt and highly incompetent president, with a Global Pandemic stemming from a virus with no known cure or vaccine. Mix on top of that the strong likelihood of a very long depression all made more likely and much worse but a mad king left unchecked and my kids may be the next greatest generation of American History.
From New York Magazine and Eric Levitz today: “Why Our Economy May Be Headed for a Decade of Depression” has an interview with Dr Doom. Nourielle Roubini earned this title by being the real Cassandra in our Great Recession stemming from the crash of the Housing Market. He’s even full of more gloom about the state of today.
At the time, the global economy had just recorded its fastest half-decade of growth in 30 years. And Nouriel Roubini was just some obscure academic. Thus, in the IMF’s cozy confines, his remarks roused less alarm over America’s housing bubble than concern for the professor’s psychological well-being.
Of course, the ensuing two years turned Roubini’s prophecy into history, and the little-known scholar of emerging markets into a Wall Street celebrity.
A decade later, “Dr. Doom” is a bear once again. While many investors bet on a “V-shaped recovery,” Roubini is staking his reputation on an L-shaped depression. The economist (and host of a biweekly economic news broadcast) does expect things to get better before they get worse: He foresees a slow, lackluster (i.e., “U-shaped”) economic rebound in the pandemic’s immediate aftermath. But he insists that this recovery will quickly collapse beneath the weight of the global economy’s accumulated debts. Specifically, Roubini argues that the massive private debts accrued during both the 2008 crash and COVID-19 crisis will durably depress consumption and weaken the short-lived recovery. Meanwhile, the aging of populations across the West will further undermine growth while increasing the fiscal burdens of states already saddled with hazardous debt loads. Although deficit spending is necessary in the present crisis, and will appear benign at the onset of recovery, it is laying the kindling for an inflationary conflagration by mid-decade. As the deepening geopolitical rift between the United States and China triggers a wave of deglobalization, negative supply shocks akin those of the 1970s are going to raise the cost of real resources, even as hyperexploited workers suffer perpetual wage and benefit declines. Prices will rise, but growth will peter out, since ordinary people will be forced to pare back their consumption more and more. Stagflation will beget depression. And through it all, humanity will be beset by unnatural disasters, from extreme weather events wrought by man-made climate change to pandemics induced by our disruption of natural ecosystems.
Roubini allows that, after a decade of misery, we may get around to developing a “more inclusive, cooperative, and stable international order.” But, he hastens to add, “any happy ending assumes that we find a way to survive” the hard times to come.
I have no issue with his analysis and I find that thought quite unnerving. As I spend my day trying to be securely in the now, my economist mind keeps trying to take me down “what if” lane. Today, I go there.
You cannot read history without finding out about Food Riots. This has been lurking around my mind too. I signed up for the LSU Ag college extension today for an online class to become a certified home gardener. I’ve been sending Michelle to all the friends I know that are into sustainable farming to gather up free seedlngs from their community tables.
There is a Victory Garden growing in the backyard of the Kat House. I’ve already found myself giving out fruit to homeless that have once again taken over the closed down Navy Base on my street. I’ve always been quite connected to my Dad’s mom because of her stories and how much she taught me about cooking meals with absolutely nothing in the house or feeding yourself based on a few staples. She lived the Great Depression in Oklahoma with three small children, her mother, and my grandad who was fortunate to have a job as a Fireman for the Santa Fe railroad.
She always fed the hobos coming by their house to get to the railroad tracks. My dad said there were days when every one got mayonnaise sandwiches and that was about it. He also would tell me stories of the Cherokee Chieftain that let him and his Dad come chop wood from his property so they’d have wood to keep the house warm. Folks take care of folks. The last few weeks have me feeling like where I stand is where I was born in Oklahoma surrounded by all my family that grew up in the Dust Bowl times fighting hard to keep their farms and homes.
From The Nation and Michael T Klare: “Covid-19’s Third Shock Wave: The Global Food Crisis.Many people are already going hungry in the United States; many more will face hunger or starvation in other parts of the world.” What is the likelihood of Civil Unrest? What is the likelihood that the President of the United State will cause and encourage it?
Covid-19’s assault on global food availability is coming from two directions: On the supply side, farmers and distributors are cutting back on production as major customers—schools, restaurants, hotels, airlines—cease operations and as food industry employees become sick; on the consuming side, poor and unemployed households are running out of money and are unable to buy food, even when it is still available in local markets.
As is true of other key commodities, such as oil and iron ore, the availability of food products is highly reliant on global supply chains, with most countries depending on imports for at least some vital foodstuffs. This is true even in large countries with extensive agricultural industries of their own, such as Canada and the United States. These supply chains are vast and well-organized, but nevertheless vulnerable to disruption from storms, wars, droughts, and other systemic shocks—pandemics included.
“The continued globalisation of modern food networks is introducing an unprecedented level of complexity to the global food system,” insurance giant Lloyd’s of London observed in a 2015 report on global food insecurity. “Disruptions at any one point in the system would be likely to reverberate throughout the food supply chain. Volatile food prices and increasing political instability are likely to magnify the impacts of food production shocks, causing a cascade of economic, social and political impacts across the globe.”
Lloyd’s drew this conclusion from a “food system shock” exercise its analysts conducted, akin to a Pentagon war game, and from its analysis of the Arab Spring protests of 2011, which were triggered, in part, by rising food prices across North Africa and the Middle East—a phenomenon widely attributed to severe droughts over previous months in Russia, China, and Australia that sharply reduced global grain supplies. As one producing country after another banned wheat and rice exports, worldwide grain prices soared—causing misery for poor families in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and other countries that depend on bread for a large part of their diet.
Although current conditions have not yet reached this degree of distress, it appears as if such a breakdown is beginning. “The self-defeating drive by countries to impose export controls on medical gear in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic has spread like an infection to foodstuffs,” noted Cullen Hendrix of the Peterson Institute for International Economics on April 6. So far, Russia, Kazakhstan, Thailand, and Cambodia have banned the export of processed grains, and Vietnam has put a moratorium on new export contracts for rice. Such steps, Hendrix warned, “augur poorly for global hunger and political stability.”
The curbs on international trade and travel imposed by governments around the world in response to the pandemic have also played havoc with global supply lines. Many ships and planes remain idle because of such restrictions (or because key employees are sick or afraid to show up for work), slowing the delivery of vital supplies and adding to a surge in food prices. In East Africa, international efforts to combat a historic plague of crop-devouring locusts are being hampered by a slowdown in the delivery of pesticides.
In the United States, food delivery has been deemed an essential activity, and state and federal authorities are doing what they can to keep supply lines intact. Nevertheless, significant disruptions are already beginning to occur. Food processing and packaging—a key step between farm production and delivery to local markets—often involves close interaction among numerous (and typically low-paid) workers, and so is at high risk for the spread of the coronavirus. Large meat processing plants employing hundreds of workers are at particular risk: As of April 25, coronavirus outbreaks at 30 such plants had sickened over 3,300 workers and killed at least 17.
Tonight, I will do what my Nana used to do and say back in her day. “Time to set yeast and go to bed”. I’ve got my supply of yeast and flour now and I plan to relearn the skill of bread making.
And here’s another reason to plan a little bit more than usual:
The Lanclet basically put out a study “Hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine with or without a macrolide for treatment of COVID-19: a multinational registry analysis”. Its findings were pretty much what I had expected know that its side effects were pretty awesomely horrid from an old SVU episode. No Seriously. That’s where I first learned about how its use on our soldiers was problematic and could be deadly to a rather disturbing number of folks.
So, the study found this:
COVID-19: Hydroxychloroquine linked to an increased rate of mortality, new study finds:A new study of nearly 15,000 COVID-19 patients published on Friday in the medical journal The Lancet found those being treated with the antimalarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are at a higher risk of death and irregular heart rhythms than those not receiving it.
And of course, the mad king is doing this: “Trump lashes out at scientists whose findings contradict him” which is a headline like way too many I keep reading that makes my stomach churn .
“A Trump enemy statement,” he said of one study.
“A political hit job,” he said of another.
As President Donald Trump pushes to reopen the country despite warnings from doctors about the consequences of moving too quickly during the coronavirus crisis, he has been lashing out at scientists whose conclusions he doesn’t like.
Twice this week, Trump has not only dismissed the findings of studies but suggested — without evidence — that their authors were motivated by politics and out to undermine his efforts to roll back coronavirus restrictions.
First it was a study funded in part by his own government’s National Institutes of Health that raised alarms about the use of hydroxychloroquine, finding higher overall mortality in coronavirus patients who took the drug while in Veterans Administration hospitals. Trump and many of his allies had been touting the drug as a miracle cure, and Trump this week revealed that he has been taking it to try to ward off the virus — despite an FDA warning last month that it should only be used in hospital settings or clinical trials because of the risk of serious side effects, including life-threatening heart problems.
The Lancet, one of the world’s oldest and most well respected medical journals, published a new study Friday that echoed those findings.
“If you look at the one survey, the only bad survey, they were giving it to people that were in very bad shape. They were very old, almost dead,” Trump told reporters Tuesday. “It was a Trump enemy statement.”
He offered similar pushback Thursday to a new study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. It found that more than 61% of COVID-19 infections and 55% of reported deaths — nearly 36,000 people — could have been been prevented had social distancing measures been put in place one week sooner. Trump has repeatedly defended his administration’s handling of the virus in the face of persistent criticism that he acted too slowly.
“Columbia’s an institution that’s very liberal,” Trump told reporters Thursday. “I think it’s just a political hit job, you want to know the truth.”
Trump has long been skeptical of mainstream science — dismissing human-made climate change as a “hoax,” suggesting that noise from wind turbines causes cancer and claiming that exercise can deplete a body’s finite amount of energy. It’s part of a larger skepticism of expertise and backlash against “elites” that has become increasingly popular among Trump’s conservative base.
But, back here on Main Street or Bourbon Street or my own Poland Avenue it is different. We’re noticing things and beginning to adjust accordingly. Johnny White’s–which coincidentally was the first place in New Orleans I have had a drink and a bit to eat over 25 years ago–is doing something it’s never done. It’s closing and it’s closing down for good.
For years, two French Quarter bars bearing Johnny White’s name didn’t close, ever. They stayed open 24/7, hurricanes be damned.
But closing time has finally arrived for Johnny White’s on Bourbon Street.
Johnny White’s Corner Pub, Johnny White’s Hole in the Wall and Johnny White’s Pub & Grill, all housed at 718-720 Bourbon, have shut down permanently.
The White family is scheduled to close on the sale of the three-story building at the southwest corner of Bourbon and Orleans soon.
The deal has been in the works since late last year, before the coronavirus pandemic shuttered New Orleans nightspots.
We’ve got a growing list of “Ain’t Dere No More” including some from a long time ago. So, change is inevitable but some times it goes faster than usual or does it just seem that way?
However, one good daily bike ride around the quarter will show you a rising number of stores closing permanently. Just as true with the ever growing list of big stores going bankrupt. Covid just sort’ve put this trend on the fast track. So while Amazon and other big time on line retailers are having record years, say good bye to the ol familiar department stores of yore.
Retailers that were already struggling before the coronavirus pandemic started are beginning to crumble.
Fashion chain J. Crew Group and luxury department store retailer Neiman Marcus Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the first week of May as they faced mounting losses with their stores temporarily closed.
While both companies are planning to remain in business, bankruptcy poses the possibility of permanent store closings or outright liquidation as COVID-19 throttles sales.
J.C. Penney, which was facing declining sales and several years of losses heading into this crisis, is also considering filing for bankruptcy and hoping to avoid liquidation.
Of the 125 restaurant or retail companies tracked by S&P Global Ratings, about 30% now have a credit rating that indicates they have at least a 1-in-2 chance of defaulting on their debts, which is often a precursor of bankruptcy or liquidation.
And yes, both Face Book and Amazon are delivering big gains. The stock market is on some kind of drug again like it was right before the last big adjustment to reality.
And, adjusting to the new reality is just about what it’s going to be about these days.
Here’s a good piece from a friend of mine.
Maybe what I’m detecting is a bit of every thing old is new again.
So, while I cannot sleep well or relax much at all and concentrating is difficult and did I mention I really can’t do TV these days? So, I’m just trying to do what I can to adjust and I hope you’re able to do that too.
Be kind and gentle with yourself and others. Be safe! Stay your ass at home!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?