Friday Reads: Know where you Stand

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.

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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 broadcastdoes 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.

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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.

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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.

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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?


34 Comments on “Friday Reads: Know where you Stand”

  1. tyleashl2gb says:

    I think it aliens

  2. tyleashl2gb says:

    or earth telling us to stop killing it

  3. dakinikat says:

    There’s a lot of news out there today …

    We’ve had a Republic … can we keep it? Please?

    • NW Luna says:

      Glad you posted this. Biden is speaking comfortably and colloquially. If a voter can’t figure out that Biden’s going to be better for blacks than Trump, that voter’s most likely white.

  4. quixote says:

    Every solution to every problem we’re having, new viruses, climate change, you name it, always has “cooperate” and “coordinate” in the solution.

    Meanwhile, the Dump in the White House doesn’t know anything but making people tear each other to shreds and trying to profit off the pieces.

    I wonder if the starkness of the contrast will get enough people to see where the real problem is? The Blob *still* has a 40+% approval rating. I just don’t understand how that’s even possible.

    • dakinikat says:

      The Republican message since Reagan has been that cooperate and coordinate is godless communism and for the weak. People woke up to that during the Great Depression. I thought maybe we’d learn more during the Great Recession but it seems some folks just are stubborn or stupid. I weep for our country.

  5. Enheduanna says:

    Those pictures are so startling Dak. Very moving. I wonder what the story is of the woman being carried off? She must be a suffragette?

    And Mayonnaise Sandwiches!!! I’m growing tomatoes and herbs. One of my favorite sandwiches is tomato slices with mayonnaise on soft sandwich bread. Yum!

    • NW Luna says:

      Suffragette, most definitely. An “unnatural woman” who wouldn’t stay down in her proper place. We stand in places where others have worked and suffered before us, and we have to keep on.

    • NW Luna says:

      I’ve planted tomatoes too, but my location is pretty poor for tomatoes — a short season for hot enough temps. I have beans and peas and salad greens, though, and our climate is good for these. Summer squash do pretty well also.

    • roofingbird says:

      Yeah really good pics!

  6. NW Luna says:

    • quixote says:

      Hoo boy.

      Somebody out in internetland made the point that this is our first recession/depression in about two hundred years to be caused by natural disaster / non-economic factors. And that the prognosis for something like that could be totally different than one where the economy itself, i.e. people’s behavior, is the cause.

      It kinda makes sense. If, for instance, governments throw in enough income support, then once we can emerge from our caves again, we could pretty much pick up where we left off. There wouldn’t necessarily be much of a recession at all.

      Of course, I don’t think any government, even the good ones, (not sure about Germany?), has provided that level of support.

      Plus, also of course, if they’d done that right when the Depression loomed, it would have been over quick too.

  7. NW Luna says:

    That Lancet analysis? The total # of patient records they looked at is actually 96,032, not 15,000. That’s an avalanche of evidence. The authors reviewed stats from many different locations, so that excerpt you posted is probably from just one of the areas.

  8. NW Luna says:

    I cannot sleep well or relax much at all and concentrating is difficult

  9. NW Luna says:

    • dakinikat says:

      Why on earth would a religious center be essential? Same category as drugs and alcohol?

      • NW Luna says:

        Their gawd can’t hear prayers made from people’s homes?

        • jan says:

          Didn’t Jesus say something about going into a room by yourself, praying without words, and God will hear you. I guess Christians just do not trust Jesus very much. I never understood why religions needed churches and why people when praying in church always were saying “God, do this. God, do that.” I could no feel happy about those churches.

  10. NW Luna says:

    Women 55 and older who lose their jobs in the pandemic face greater risk of long-term unemployment

    There’s a trifecta effect for older unemployed women, Weinstock said. They face age discrimination, are likely to be unemployed longer in downturns and — when they do finally land a job — they often have to take a significant pay cut.

    Somehow they don’t mention sex discrimination as another reason woman are less likely to get jobs again.

  11. roofingbird says:

    One of the relentless questions asked of Gov. Gavin Newsom in his briefings is when there will be a breakout of the impact of COVID on the LGTBQ community. Its CA after all and we care about it: Newsom was the first Mayor (sf) here to hold same sex marriages. So far they haven’t been able to prise the info out of the data. It makes you wonder about the rest of the country.

    • quixote says:

      Dumb but serious question: why would you expect any difference in incidence in that community compared to the incidence in the demographic groups they belong to with known risk factors? Older LGBTQ would presumably have similar risks to older people generally; hypertensive likewise; etc. Having sex is a risk factor, but any kind is, being close contact. What am I missing?

      • NW Luna says:

        Agree. I don’t see a need to break down the stats by LGB and TQ for any reason but statistical practice. More need to break down the stats by age and ethnicity and sex.

        Oh! Just thought of a reason — we can see how well the virus can recognize those who self-identify as the sex other than what they manifested at birth. Then transwomen wouldn’t have the higher risk that men do, and then we’d have a tactic men could use to lower their risk! Just self-identify out of the higher-risk group. Hmmm, wonder what the virus will do when faced with a non-binary human?

        I wrote the above paragraph in the state of mind I have after being told that chromosomes have nothing to do with biological sex and that carrying a gold lame purse definitely makes one a woman.

      • roofingbird says:

        Its more complicated than sexual activity. Read the wiki. Then think how similar the discrimination issues, and therefore health issues, are to other disadvantaged groups.

        • quixote says:

          I went to the wiki link, but didn’t see anything about this virus or its effects. I skimmed because it’s a looooong article about medical discrimination against LGBTQ generally, and, sadly, there’s plenty of discrimination to justify that length.

          I’m fairly aware of those issues. What I still don’t understand is how that applies to covid-19. There’s nothing I’m aware of (and I’m NOT an expert, so I’m not saying there isn’t anything) that show the virus is transmitted, is infectious, or runs its course in ways that make sexual orientation a factor. So that’s why I was asking. Is there something?

          If what you meant is that the people in medicine can be biased against LGBTQ people, and that that can affect the quality of care they receive, then, yes, I see your point. It’s definitely worth knowing whether that’s happening.

          In the same vein, I read a very interesting — grim! — account by a black or hispanic woman (don’t remember which) about how her symptoms and needs were simply ignored at one hospital. Her friends had to practically carry her out of there to get her transferred to another hospital, which is very likely what saved her life. Her point was that she would have been another number in the People Of Color statistic, and that it would have had nothing to do with any physiological vulnerabilities associated with her ethnicity.

          • roofingbird says:

            So, yes, as you have noted. However, other issues of comorbidity were included in the wiki. Stress, depression, fewer family resources, factors such as the 200% stat increase in smoking for lesbians, more obesity, higher rate of breast cancer, etc. the point is, because the COVID stats aren’t broken out for LGBTQ, we don’t know how or if the numbers are greater.

  12. NW Luna says:

    Oh shit.

    Trump administration discussed conducting first U.S. nuclear test in decades

    The Trump administration has discussed whether to conduct the first U.S. nuclear test explosion since 1992 in a move that would have far-reaching consequences for relations with other nuclear powers and reverse a decades-long moratorium on such actions, said a senior administration official and two former officials familiar with the deliberations.

    The matter came up at a meeting of senior officials representing the top national security agencies May 15, following accusations from administration officials that Russia and China are conducting low-yield nuclear tests — an assertion that has not been substantiated by publicly available evidence and that both countries have denied.

    A senior administration official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the sensitive nuclear discussions, said that demonstrating to Moscow and Beijing that the United States could “rapid test” could prove useful from a negotiating standpoint as Washington seeks a trilateral deal to regulate the arsenals of the biggest nuclear powers.

    • quixote says:

      Oh shit is right.

      He’s like some hideous mirror image of the sixties mantra about “if it feels good, do it.”

      With him it’s “if it hurts, do it.”