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My Contribution to KOVID Konfusion this article at a health and science site called Stat: A fiasco in the making? As the coronavirus pandemic takes hold, we are making decisions without reliable data

The site seems sane and credible, and most of the stories about COVID-19 are fairly typical; that is, it's not some dodgy sensationalist site. And the author has credentials: "John P.A. Ioannidis is professor of medicine, of epidemiology and population health, of biomedical data science, and of statistics at Stanford University and co-director of Stanford’s Meta-Research Innovation Center."

He believes the evidence on which decisions are being made is "a fiasco." And if it's seriously overestimating the danger, then

...locking down the world with potentially tremendous social and financial consequences may be totally irrational. It’s like an elephant being attacked by a house cat. Frustrated and trying to avoid the cat, the elephant accidentally jumps off a cliff and dies.

You can read it for yourself at the link above and make up your own mind. Well, no, I guess it won't work that way, because the author doesn't know, either, and one can still say "Better to do too much than too little."

Up to a point.


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My GA came in to help me set up the online teaching for next week. He's an old fashioned conservative guy whose dad is the president of an old fashioned conservative college. So he's not a typical PhD student anywhere. We both had done the math, and, as he told me, 150 dead is 1.5% of 8000 cases - which is .5% more than die from the flu annually. I told him not to share that information with anyone - we have become 'deniers'! Neither of us can see why they don't just quarantine the old.

There is certainly something to that line of thought, Grumpy. If there could have been some sort of real mobilization of any kind earlier it would have been good.

Meanwhile, I'm at home listening to Robert Cray and do intend to be praying the rosary a little later.

AMDG (for Janet)

They keep saying 'there could be a million dead if we dont do x, y and z.' Everyone is focussed on those hypothetical numbers and not the actual numbers.

Even the only dog to die so far of Covid19 is a Hong Kong Pomeranian who is *17* years old. If Olivier and Brexit live to be 17 I will thank God for it.

More konfusion:

There's no reason we should "trust" the weather to solve the problem, but, as one guy says in the piece, at least it's not working against us. I'm sure that if this had hit in the middle of a cold winter it would be a lot worse.

It will be snowing here today :(

Good news for us subtropical residents.

Not so good for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere, we're in the first month of autumn here. :(

Another interesting piece in MIT Technology Review yesterday, "This blood test can tell us how widespread coronavirus really is":

The new coronavirus has killed more than 8,700 people, which is about 4% of the 214,000 confirmed cases, making for a shocking death rate.

But the real fatality rate among everyone infected by the virus is certainly lower, and possibly much lower. The reason epidemiologists can’t say for sure is they don’t know how many people are infected but never go to the hospital or even have symptoms. In essence, modelers are missing an accurate denominator of the death-rate calculation.

That’s a huge problem for setting policy. John Ioannidis of Stanford University, writing March 17 in the publication STAT, argued that the true death rate could be less than that of the seasonal flu. If so, “draconian countermeasures” are being decided amidst an “evidence fiasco” of “utterly unreliable” data about how many people are infected.

Currently, the US and other countries are ramping up efforts to test people quickly. That diagnostic test, called PCR, looks directly for the genetic material of the virus in a nasal or throat swab. It tells people with worrisome flu symptoms what they need to know: Are they infected with the new coronavirus right now?

The new type of test asks a different question: Has a person’s body ever seen the germ at all, even months ago?

If someone has been exposed, their blood should be full of antibodies against the virus. It’s the presence, or absence, of such antibodies to the virus that the new test measures.

The Icahn team, led by virologist Florian Krammer, says the new test could help locate survivors, who could then donate their antibody-rich blood to people in ICUs to help boost their immunity.

I confess that I've been wondering whether I have it. I got a cold some weeks ago, which followed a more or less normal for me pattern, except that it never has quite gone away. Very far-fetched that I would have it, but suppose it is actually very widespread and not a big deal for most people. Possibly my continuing mild symptoms are just allergies, which I have never had but which could, like so many problems I've never had, be appearing in my old age. Some mighty dull conversations have taken place between my wife and me about the continuing quest for a comfortable sleeping position.

Have you seen one of those charts comparing symptoms for covid-19, colds, and flu? Stopped up head and stuffy nose aren't really symptoms of the plague. I am suffering my usual love/hate relationship with Spring. The time I most want to be outside makes me sick-ish. I go outside anyway, when the rain allows.

As far as the article goes, the thing is, I don't know, you don't know, nobody knows, nobody can give it more than an educated, or semi-educated guess. There hasn't been anything like this since people became as mobile as we are. (It's probably Nixon's fault since he is the reason we have planes flying to and from China ;-) ).

Now Italy has more deaths than China? Given the disparity in population, and the fact that it started there much later, that's pretty scary. And Washington State? Their first case was before the first case in Italy, and they have had 66 deaths, many of those in nursing homes, compared to over 3K in Italy. It's very hard to understand.

This element of separation is the most troubling thing to me. I think it might help, might be necessary, and I'm pretty sure it's prudent for us old folks to stay home, but separation, by and large is the tool of the enemy, and forsaking the assembling of ourselves together has been advised against pretty strongly. I'm not saying they shouldn't have cancelled public Masses, I am just saying that it puts us in a vulnerable position.

My main reason for thinking that slowing the disease down is not the old--I mean, I am not afraid to die--but I have a granddaughter who sometimes has to go to the hospital with respiratory problems because of her lack of two good lungs, and when she gets there, she goes to the head of the class. Even on a day when nothing special was going on, someone has come in the room and asked if they were through with the respirator because another patient needed it. They don't have enough respirators for a normal day, and they already have at least one Covid-19 patient there. So one day she may show up at the hospital, and no help will be available. I am sure she's not alone.

The reason this is so long is that it is the first time I have been able to sit down at my computer. Somehow, being home 24 hours a day, I seem to be busier than ever.

The only thing we can know, really, is that we should be serious about prayer.


I agree Janet. I know I go back and forth in an annoying way. But there's a guy I know who runs a Baptist seminary in Hong Kong. He's not a right wing or a left wing nutjob. He's an academic who gave up normal academic status to run a Baptist seminary in HK. I started discussing it with him months ago, back in January. He tried very hard to dissuade me from thinking about the camino this year. He was hearing what the Chinese had to say about it, before it came here. One sentence he wrote has stayed with me: 'there is so much we don't know about this virus'.

I know its annoying that I keep saying different things. You see the 'rational' side of my mind says the figures are pretty low. Eight thousand could be a blip in the flu figures. The intuitive side of my mind agrees with you and the seminary president.

Janet, Im not sure if Byz Caths have the same readings as Westerners, but on Sunday we had a bit of Hebrews for the Epistle. Our priest wrote us this letter today:

I am very sorry to announce that, in keeping with the directives of the university and of both our Melkite and Roman Catholic bishops, we will be discontinuing our schedule of Byzantine liturgical services at Malloy Chapel until further notice.

As Bishop Rhoades said in his announcement of the cancellation of liturgies in the Roman Catholic diocese, it is a very heavy cross to be deprived of the celebration of the Eucharist. But, recalling our epistle reading from last Sunday, we can find comfort in holding fast to our confession that Our Lord and High Priest, Jesus Christ, continually intercedes for us at the heavenly liturgy and constantly includes us, in all our present circumstances, in his self-offering to the Father. So, let us "hold fast to our confession" (Heb 4:14) and, be assured that, despite our inability to physically celebrate the liturgy together, we can still "approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb 4:16).

Let us keep fervently praying for one another and for our suffering world in this time of great trial.

The "rational" side of my mind says "??????!!!!!?????" I don't even go back and forth, just sort of look blank. I toss around possibilities but I don't put a lot of stock in any of them. I guess the one more or less consistent thing is a contrarian streak.

"we should be serious about prayer." Amen. :-)

No, I haven't seen any charts, just descriptions of symptoms. The one thing that's always mentioned, and which I haven't had at any point in this, is fever, so I don't have any real concern.

Your concern for your granddaughter is certainly very much warranted.

separation, by and large is the tool of the enemy, and forsaking the assembling of ourselves together has been advised against pretty strongly. I'm not saying they shouldn't have cancelled public Masses, I am just saying that it puts us in a vulnerable position.

Amy Welborn has a post today, with this:

I’m very glad people are realizing how important the Mass is to them, and grateful to priests and parishes doing what they can to make it available. But perhaps this is also a good time for those in pastoral ministry to dig deep into 2000 years of Catholic tradition and present the faithful with the WEALTH of Catholic spiritual life and devotion that nourished Catholics over the centuries, most of whom did not have the regular, direct access to the Mass that we in the 21st century West have enjoyed. Highlight the liturgical calendar and all the associated elements – the liturgy of the hours, saints feasts and celebrations, devotions – all of which developed in the context of real, everyday, ordinary life, helping people grow spiritually and see God in their daily lives in every circumstance. ...

In one of my kids’ former Catholic schools, they still prayed the Angelus at noon – the church bell would ring, and where ever they were – even on the playground, the kids would stop and pray.

Why not bring back the Angelus in a big way? Like…nationwide? We can look at the map Eric Simmons made of the slowly growing, then cascading darkness as public Masses disappear (more on that later) – and we can be justifiably grieved at that. But (remembering that private Masses are happening everywhere) – why can’t we look at that map and say – we might be living in that sort of darkness, but can we let bells ring through that darkness? Put out the word to those who don’t know about it – this is the Angelus, this is where it comes from, this is how to pray it. And we’re going to pray it. At noon in our city, every Catholic church is going to ring the bells, and when that happens, let’s all stop and pray – together, even as we are physically apart.

USCCB? Help us out here?

Yes Marianne, but its very hard on those of us who live alone (so glad the lodger is here this year!) to lose Church (first and foremost), their place of work, the gym, the beauty salon, the bar.

I don't set any stock by my opinions on this. I know that Im a pillow taking the shape of the last person who sat on me. Today David French's newsletter had Coronavirus in the subject so I opened it, and he says he did a survey of the liberal and mainstream press, and none of them gives a hoot if we call it Chinese flu or Wuhan cough or whatever.

I cooked a vegan curry for the lodger and me, because he's now eating bread and jam. I went to Meijers to get mustard greens (I was doing curried black beans with spinach and greens, very tasty). That's a step or two down the social ladder from the supermarket I frequent (which don't have mustard greens). It was not crazy, but it was packed like its packed on NYE morning, or the days before Christmas, with everyone leaving with a trolley full. There was no TP on the shelves, but it was being unloaded from a fork lift, and the aisle was full of people in baseball caps going to get some and making wry jokes about 'just in case.'

On amazon one firm is trying to sell a roll of toilet paper for 36 dollars shipping. There's some very snarky remarks about that.

To me, a much crazier thing than the TP craze is the dozens of emails I have received from every firm I ever bought anything from online, saying 'we care about you during the corona virus outbreak.' Heist Panty Hose and Merrell shoes, to name but two, and Eirie Insurance, care about me during the coronavirus pandemic. Ive had maybe a hundred such emails.

I've been following Caitlin Flanagan's Twitter feed this week because she's in lockdown in L.A. and her tweets about it make me smile. Like today's about the horrors of the lockdown for some folks there:

Here in LA you can’t get your roots colored, your Botox injected, your fine lines lasered or your elective procedures scheduled.

“At 50 you get the face you deserve.”

Brentwood could be full Dorian Gray in 6 weeks.

Dont joke Marianne! I have not done my own hair for 35 years and when I eventually the bathroom is going to look like a blood bath.

In related news A male senator named Lindsey Graham Said we should not be given $1000 because you could not just spend $1000 in a store. He should ask his wife. I could spend $1000 in 20 minutes in the single boutique in this tiny Midwestern town

I am finding much of what is written here - Janet, Grumpy, Marianne (not you, Mac ;-) comforting to read. Amy Wellborn post too. Along with the rosary today with the pope and so many others, I am heartened that my priest here seems to be going online a few times a day on FB to pray and talk to his flock. Blessings to all of you during this troubling time.

Grumpy, those emails are both annoying me and cracking me up. They all say they care so much about me.

I was wondering what ordering food from Amazon would be like, so I looked up lettuce, and found a head for $29.00.


While we were praying the rosary (We prayed along with the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist--boy do they pray fast!), I was thinking about the way the virus looks--that ball with all the little protrusions, and thinking about the round world with all the prayers going up from it.


I looked up an historical reference while watching the Crown and learned that Wiki cares about me

How sweet.

I'm not sure whether I'm pleased to read Janet's comparison of the virus to the world and its prayers. Nice idea but the virus looks creepy.

I've gotten a bunch of those emails, too, though not the kind of volume y'all seem to be talking about. Half a dozen or so, I guess.

Spending $1,000 in one store...offhand I can't think of a store where I could do that. Well, I guess I could buy a fairly nice computer at BestBuy for that amount. In days of old, an audio shop, but I pretty much have all I need in that line now.

Here's something from comments on a First Things piece that, if true, is significant:
Richard Malcom: There's a reason why Bergamo was especially hard hit by the virus.

Dale Matson: Richard Malcolm • 2 days ago
...And the reason Is?

Richard Malcolm: Dale Matson • a day ago
Tens of thousands of Chinese guest workers in textile plants in Lombardy.

And the piece itself is interesting. I know not everybody here (ahem) is a big fan of R.R. Reno and First Things, but I think he has a point here about the church closings. I saw this piece described elsewhere as advocating defiance of government edicts, but he doesn't actually say that, though maybe he means to imply it.

Caitlin Flanagan is funny, Marianne. And btw I did finish the article about Megxit. Very good, very fair. And of course also funny. I gather from it also that I didn't truly grasp the extent of the national breakdown over Diana. Or just how vicious the British press can be. Sort of explains why I've several times seen journalists depicted as scum in British tv shows.

Im not reading iy but if you are describing it accurately R really got the idea of every man his own pope down to a T

Theres a little shop near here which sells icons from eastern Europe, the Baltics and Russia. The owners teach religious studies in a little college and go on buying trips over the summer. They have all kinds of stuff. An icon runs between 150$ and 750$. Right now Im three months onto buying a large icon at 100$ a month for six months.

But I have a lot more sympathy for the boutique. The guys in the antique shop Are college professors And the shop is kind of a hobby for them. Or they have a mixed income. But the boutique must’ve just spent tens of thousands of dollars on buying in the spring collection. And half of the clientele is back home across the United States with the students not coming back to campus. They are going bankrupt pretty soon If people don’t get in there and start spending money

I would have thought the reason there are so many deaths in Italy is the mist commonly stated one - that it has the second most elderly population in The world after Japan. Could the wide spread of the disease be due to Chinese guest workers? There are certainly many Chinese working in the north of Italy. I would’ve thought that if it was due to them then a very high proportion of the deaths and infections would also be Chinese people. But I haven’t heard a rumor or breath or a whisper that very many of the deaths in Italy are Chinese people. The other place where there are huge numbers of Chinese guest workers is East Africa. They have only had a really small take up of the disease so far thank God. I think Kenya had its first case is at the weekend. To my mind that would be hard to credit if so much responsibility in Italy falls on the Chinese. O

It could be both, couldn't it? The Chinese workers would be younger, healthier, stronger. They could have brought the virus in but not suffered so much from it. Just speculating. And maybe the African climate helps? Anyway, there has to be some reason why Italy is so hard-hit.

Reno's piece is basically along the lines of what Janet was saying about shutting down all common worship during this thing. I thought our archbishop's first response was correct: to lift the obligation and leave it up to the individual whether to attend or not.

I thought that lifting the obligation was right at the time the order went out (also from our Bishop), but times change. We are now being encouraged to stay home and take every precaution not to spread the virus. I think under those circumstances the bishops are absolutely right to stop the public liturgy.

Every kind of dissent, whether it is an academic or a magazine editor, is a power grab. R takes every opportunity to undermine the authority of the bishops. That's not because, so to speak, he thinks that authority should be shared out amidst the laity. Its because he thinks he should have that authority over his flock. So take a good close look at that shepherd.

No one in their right mind would accuse Janet of fomenting dissent :) However, the problem here is that its psychologically and perhaps even logically impossible to exhort people to take every precaution not to spread the virus, and to that end close down restaurants, bars, cinemas etc, and simultaneously allow people to congregate in groups of a dozen and more at church. It just doesn't make sense, unless one believes that the church goers have magical protection against disease, which few Americans do. It just sends out a mixed message, that the disease is to be taken very seriously, except for by church goers.

Even in America, a significant proportion of Church goers are in the more at risk categories.

I don't agree about the Chinese in Italy, Mac, because at least we would have heard a whisper of a rumour that many of those sick were Chinese. But nada. My man in HK said it would be interesting to hear what happened when the Chinese returned to Africa etc from the New Year festivals. That was months ago. Even with the heat on their side, you would expect the outbreak to be sooner and wider in East Africa if it was being spread by Chinese guest workers.

What would Neuhaus think if he knew that one could easily guess what magazine that comm box remark came from, and what magazine the editorial? Maybe this is his purgatory, poor man. What a shameful end for a once Christian magazine.

Actually I think that comment could have come from pretty much any conservative-leaning site. You may be right that it's bs, but the presence of so many Chinese in that region of Italy was completely news to me.

You may also be right about Reno and FT in general, as you're certainly more familiar with both than I am. But you're attributing a lot to that particular piece that isn't in it. I don't get any hint of "dissent" from it, or a general undermining of authority. It's just an argument about whether this particular action is wise or not. "I don't think that's a good idea" isn't rebellion. He praises one or two bishops and quotes Francis favorably.

We didn't LOOK like the virus, which I think is kind of pretty--it would make a nice Christmas ornament--we just look like people praying in a Corona around the globe. If wasn't a vision or anything. Just an idea. I keep thinking about coronas and crowns, and Crown Him with Many Crowns.


That use of the word "corona" has been bothering me. I wonder where it comes from. I know it's a generic thing, not specific to this virus. I guess I could look it up but my fifteen minutes on the computer have already grown into almost an hour, so it's time to do something else.

I asked a friend of mine in Milan if he thought it spread from the Italian C guest workers and he just responded with the big laugh symbol. Italuans are not only the oldest population in Europe they are the most touchy feely

Not only touchy-feely, but look at those streets. Very narrow passages between high buildings, and everyone's breath trapped there. And lots of people outside. I walk down my street on a nice day and frequently no one is around.

Corona is from the protruberances surrounding the little ball. There are been other viruses in this family, e.g. SARS was a coronavirus.


I am also thinking a lot about Japanese Catholics keeping the Faith alive for 300 years with no priests and no Eucharist.


New Yorkers are not touchy-feely Except for when they are around golden retriever puppies. Which I had when I was in New York. That was astonished thing thing when Olivier and I came back from New York. Walking around the suburbs we never met anyone. Small-town America is not remotely comparable to small-town Italy. In the little town 20 miles away with that Icon shop is Which I call the Greenwich Village of Michiana you will almost never see anyone in the street

Exactly, I the two small towns close to my house, You never see people just walking around. Also, the sidewalks, or lack there of, make it very difficult to walk around.

But even if they did, the streets are wider, and the buildings shorter.


The only two big cities that I know of in the USA that you can easily walk around are the two in a state of emergency, NYC and San Francisco.

So, there's this:


That's excellent.

The center of the small town where I live has a lot of pedestrians. But that's because it's a bit touristy and has expensive shops that attract affluent women. A while back I saw a newspaper ad from the downtown merchants' association describing the "shopping odyssey" that they offered. First I laughed, then I felt sick.

I've long been amazed at those Japanese Christians.

In a piece in WIRED, "Why the Coronavirus Hit Italy So Hard":

The reason why Italy is suffering so badly, write University of Oxford researchers in a new paper in the journal Demographic Science, may be twofold: The country has the second-oldest population on earth, and its young tend to mingle more often with the elderly, like their grandparents. ...

...young Italians tend to interact a lot with their elders. Dowd’s Italian coauthors note that young folks might live with their parents and grandparents in rural areas but commute to work in cities like Milan. ...

The study’s authors argue that this frequent travel between cities and family homes may have exacerbated the “silent” spread of the novel coronavirus. Young people working and socializing in urban areas interact with large crowds, where they may pick up the disease and take it home. If they have no symptoms, they’ll have no clue that they’re infecting their elders, the most vulnerable population.

Thinking about the fact that I will undoubtedly want to go out to eat sometime this weekend, and won't, I'm also thinking about the decision to keep carry-out services available. I don't think I want to do that. I keep thinking about the damage one infected and careless person in the kitchen of a pizza place could do.

Which may all be unnecessary concern here, as the number of cases in this state remains in 2 digits, with 0 fatalities. But of course that may change.

"Corona is from the protruberances surrounding the little ball. "

Yeah, that dawned on me earlier, right after I'd put the computer to sleep. It's a totally subjective thing but the appearance of the virus is creepy and unsettling to me. I think it would be even if I didn't know what it was.

Well, Mississippi was 50 yesterday, 80 today. Most of the cases are closer to you than they are to me (also the 1 death is on the coast), but there are a couple in the town where I shop. I think it's partially because they just started testing, so they didn't know the cases were there.


Memphis, which isn't huge, but I think still in the top 20--or maybe not--is great for walking downtown. So far, they only have 30 cases, but they just got started last week.


Walking in Memphis!

Mac, don't mean to be gloomy but AL is at 126 today. Mobile just started testing a few days ago. In my town a bunch of tests weren't transported properly and will have to be re-done. Another bunch are still pending. I think we will have more than the very low 4 positives.

I think Ive got my head around whats happening. There’s a blip in the number of oldie deaths. And that spike in the number of normal oldie deaths May not be a very large number in itself relative to the normal number of oldie deaths. But its large enough to dry up the supply of respirators and other hospital equipment needed for a pneomonia trpe disease. It’s large enough to overwhelm the hospitals supply of the necessary equipment. So for instance a child with very bad asthma would not be able to get treatment and then that child might die not of the coronavirus but because all thebreathing equipment was being used to treat Oldies with Kovid 19.

Catwoods, yeah, it was bound to go up. Two cases in my county now, and reportedly one of them is in my town. No deaths yet among that 124 but no doubt not all of them will make it. 124 btw is the number at this site, which is what I've been going by:

That was as of 10:20am and your comment is a couple of hours later, so your number could well be more current. Not that a difference of 2 is significant.

Grumpy, that's definitely a thing that's happening. It's likely to happen in the town where I live, even if we don't have that many cases, because our hospital has been at pretty much full capacity for some weeks now. An elderly relative needed to be hospitalized for a totally unrelated problem, and her bed for a day or two was in an equipment closet. I surmise that this is a combination of (1) fast population growth here over the past 20 years or so (2) a high proportion of older people--it's a popular retirement spot (3) typical winter flu etc.

It's not that nobody noticed that the town needed a bigger hospital. It's at least twice the size it was when I moved here 25+ years ago.

Reading about the "oldies" up-thread made me think of the magazine, The Oldie, so I went to its website to see if there was anything about the coronavirus. A couple of articles look interesting, "A brief history of self-isolation" and "Oldies won't panic - they've been through the war". And there's an interview with Dame Vera Lynn ("We'll Meet Again"), who just turned 103!

It’s amazing that magazine has survived so long. Not that there’s anything wrong with it but it seemed like a whimsical idea 30 years ago

It looks wonderful!

Ive gone vegetarian minus cheese in solidarity with my Orthodox-lenten-vegan lodger. I can no longer subject him to the enticing smell of Welsh rarebit and cheese toasties.

I usually go to a McDo drive through about once every ten days. It is out in the country near the disc golf course where I take the dogs, and in the winter we go there on the way to our walk, to steel myself for the cold march uphill. But I don't usually steel myself every single day. Until a couple of years ago, this McDo had a stuffed bear and a checker board - I used to say it was more idiosyncratic than any (of the two) local hipster coffee bars. Unfortunately then they had a refurbishment, and went 'Bear McDo' and put a statue of a bear outside, but took away the stuffed bear and the checker board. Still, you can park the car outback where it over looks a big stream and some woods.

Since the restaurants shut down, I've been going to the drive through every day on the way to the disc golf course. I just like to go somewhere - school has shut down etc. I cannot sit in the house all day and I doubt if Pascal could either. All the pick up trucks are parking a disceet distance from one another.

Im wondering how soon my order at the drive through window is going to turn into a modern version of Five Easy Pieces. Down to now, its always been 'Egg McMuffin with No Meat' - they translate that as 'no Canadian.' I took a vow years ago not to eat factory farmed pork, so I always have the meatless McMuffin. As of now, I guess its Egg McMuffin with no meat and no cheese. What happens if I give up eggs next in solidarity with the lodger? That's full Five Easy Pieces - just the muffin.

Thinking about this, I could recall that in this scene, Jack Nicholson requests a chicken sandwich with no chicken, in order to get toast (which was originally denied him because its not on the menu). I watched it on youtube and was pleased that I remember this correctly. Looked at with fifty years distance, the scene just looks like he's bullying the waitress, not striking a blow for freedom.

Our Byz Catholic priest is going to say mass by himself and he's emailed us the texts so we can read along while he says this (or at least start synchonously). I am non-liturgical as it gets, so Im just going to read straight through all these kontakions and troparions.

Did you mention that scene here recently? I’m wondering because I never saw the movie, but for some reason which I can’t remember watched that scene on YouTube a few days ago. Otherwise I wouldn’t have had any idea what you were referring to. “Bullying the waitress “ was exactly how it struck me.

I can totally sit in the house all day. I don’t think it means I’m spiritually accomplished, though, or whatever Pascal meant. I’m pretty sure he didn’t imagine canned music, though, and definitely not movies. Though books alone would suffice most of the time.

No I thought of it for the first time yesterday. I didnt Mention it here

Well I had to go watch the scene. Sorry, but I'm with Jack on that one. Any diner that won't give toast deserves his reaction.

Went hiking up the mountain a ways with a couple I know, pretty happy when they called yesterday. Today I'm playing disc golf (I never have played this game) with another friend, who says he will bring me properly sanitized discs to play with. Thank goodness for these people, I think I would lose my mind.

As introverted as I am, and surrounded by books I haven't read, etc. as soon as you can't do something you really want to do it. Human nature, I suppose.

Meanwhile here we are at a Sunday during Lent and no Mass, looking to see if my parish priest is on live, or do I check him out a little later? Weird.

We had family over yesterday, which in my view doesn’t count as quarantine violation.

Re the movie scene, yeah, but it would be better to complain to the management rather than make the waitress miserable. In real life of course. That wouldn’t make much of a movie scene.

I remember now why I was watching that scene—I had wandered down a trail that began with a question about some movie and went pretty far afield.

Grumpy, when did you go Byzantine? I’m pretty sure you said at some time in the past that you had turned rad-trad, which I took to mean Latin Mass.

Stu, If you can't find any other Mass, you can watch our Bishop say Mass at 11AM on the St. Peter Catholic Church, Memphis, website.


Thanks, Janet! I have been to Mass at that church I think. Is it in Midtown Memphis? I saw that the Bishop in Cheyenne has two Masses on their website also, in English and Spanish.

It's downtown. I think you went to Immaculate Conception, the cathedral.


Mac thanks for the link to AL Dept. Of Health. I posted it on the West AL Covid info fb page.

Five Easy Pieces Diner Scene: I don't think we find this scene so objectionable only because of our finer moral discernment than the actors and directors of that movie. Since it was made, I guess in the late 1960s or early 70s, we have been subjected to so much 'managerialism' that everyone who has worked anywhere from an Arbys to a mid-Western University knows that we don't have a great deal of control over the rules. Everyone knows we are just following orders!

True, sadly.

You know they say that teaching something is the best way to learn it. My eyes were opened on some of this when I taught a course in database systems, which included some discussion of various types of organization, one of which is termed "machine bureaucracy." It is explicitly meant to mimic the operation of a machine, but one composed of policies and procedures rather than physical parts. That no one has personal responsibility is literally a feature, not a bug. And it's the structural model for most organizations now.

You're welcome, Catwoods. I see we're up to 138 cases as of 9-something this morning.

Any ordinary restaurant ought to be able to comply with a request for toast, even if it's not a menu item. They have bread of some kind, and some way to heat it. But imagine ordering simply "toast" at a fast-food place. It would throw the employees completely for a loop. Probably every piece of bread in the place is already allocated as a component of something else.

Bishop Barron's Word on Fire site is doing daily online Mass from the bishop's private chapel. Not sure why exactly, but it works better for me than watching Mass being celebrated in a larger church. Maybe it's the intimacy, which seems appropriate in my isolation.

Thanks for this Marianne

I had my own experience with Bishops and Provincials etc behaving very badly toward the end of my time in Scotland. I got very ticked off with the church as it is. It wasn't possible to be a Trad because it doesn't exist there. When I came to the MidWest I didn't have a driving license or a car for several years, and as it happened, there was a trad mass on campus, in walking distance of my house. I went there pretty regularly. But I also went to quite a few other OF churches, and sometimes to the OF in Latin in Chicago, which I really like. That's the mass they had in two local churches in London, when I was first received. When I got to NYC 2015 I think on Robert Gotcha's recommendation I tried a church with the Extraordinary form about an hour or so's walk from my house. I found it a turn off. It seemed cold and ossified and wilfully so. To give an example of the kind of thing I find a turn off with Trads - you know that in the ordinary form you say Amen when you receive communion. In the EF you don't, and they give you a deadly stare if you do it by mistake out of habit. That kind of thing. I love the whole theology and outlook of Vatican II. After a week or so at the Mid-Town Trad Church, I started going to an ordinary church in the East Village. I really need to go to a church which is about 15 minutes quick run from my house (or drive). I went there all year and I thought that what I most got out of living in NYC was going to the same church all year. I resolved on returning to the MidWest to try to go to the same OF church all the time. But I couldn't stand it - the priest was too annoying. A professor I like very much, who is in the office opposite me, had moved to my University, and he was saying the Byzantine Catholic Mass. I tried it once, and now I've been going for four years. Since I started doing that, I have entirely lost interest in the Trad mass and even the new Mass in Latin doesn't particularly draw me. I do go to Chicago occasionally, more for confession than anything else. I am very unmusical, and one of the biggest draws is simply that we sing more or less the same liturgy week in and week out. They do have different so called 'tones' for special feasts, but most of our singing is the same year round. One of the most alienating things I've found about the OF since I came to America is that in all the churches I've gone to in this town, they sing different hymns every week. So I never get any tunes. After nine years in America I don't know any of your hymns or their tunes.

So I never had OF issues that were actually OF issues. I started going to the EF because of the behaviour of Bps and Provincials etc. The things which I didn't like about the OF in America were the hymns and the idiotic PP, not the style of the mass. Im a totally non liturgical person.

Another thing I like about our Byz Catholic mass is that it is a beautiful somewhat old fashioned liturgy, but the congregation doesn't have that angry remnant feeling to it that one finds with the EF. Its mainly just grad students and a few local Melkite.

After I'd been going to the Byz Cath liturgy for a few years I realized that it replicates the social experience I had of going to our local RC University chaplaincy for mass. Its a very small congregation of grad students and fellow professors from around the University that I can talk to after liturgy. I can't stand around after mass talking to 200 strangers. I didn't realize it when I started going there, but I had 'come home' to an RC chaplaincy like the one I'd known for 15 years in Scotland.

Thanks, Marianne. I'll try that. I hesitate to admit this, but I have a big problem with watching a televised Mass. I've never tried to put it into words but I have an immediate and strong sense that it's just not right. I don't mean that it's morally wrong or unfaithful or anything of that sort, but more like "not right" in the sense that in alien movies where aliens take over people's bodies other people sense that there is "something not right" about them--they aren't the real people. Not in this case a sense of evil, just a sense that this is not the actual thing.

Very interesting, Grumpy. I will defend the EF folks kind of on principle when I hear them put down, but I have to admit that, as with most stereotypes, the one that has them kind of hard-nosed etc is not without validity. Personally I have never been attracted to it, at all. I've only experienced it a few times.

I've been to a Byzantine parish only once, and while the liturgy was impressive in some ways and obviously worthy of respect, I wasn't especially drawn to it. It seemed foreign, though I'm sure that in time that fades if one continues.

After many years of kicking against the pricks, I no longer have any problems at all with the OF, though I might still complain against certain things done in this or that parish. Music, especially. (Cf my annual grip about "Ashes.") It helps that the parish in my town is not tasteless and clueless. They use a lot of those pop hymns that I don't like, but the choir is very skilled.

It seemed providential, like personal attention from God, that when my wife and I had finally and completely gotten over our OF "issues," the Ordinariate sort of fell out of the sky for us. As of a month ago we are no longer having a weekly Ordinariate Mass (long story), and I miss it, but it's ok.

The Ordinariate does attract liturgical obsessives, which I am most definitely not--I can never remember, for instance, the names of the various robes and utensils, nor do I care at all that I can't remember them. But I like to think, and obviously hope, that we don't have the "angry remnant" vibe that you're talking about.

Marianne and Mac - as a joke because of what Mac said about the televised mass, and the Bach up above:

When I started writing my PhD in London, my brother bought me a radio so that I would not be in my thoughts all the time. Writing a PhD in the UK is literally writing a dissertation for 3 years, so its a possibility. I started listening to Radio 3, and all of my non-pop musical preferences come from that time - Handel, Purcell, Bach. As I mentioned, at that same time I used to go to the OF in Latin. It had all kinds of musical accompaniments which went in one ear and out the other, or so I thought. Mozart masses and this kind of thing, sometimes. So early in the Radio owning times, one day I thought I heard something I recognized on the Radio. I listened increasingly intently. There was something familiar. To the words. I realized I was listening to some kind of Baroque Mass on the radio. In my bedsit. Where I brushed my teeth and ate and worked. I turned it off at once - it seemed to be blasphemous to hear it outside the liturgical context.

there's the Bishop of Aberdeen giving a sermon today. He was the Abbot of Pluscarden - a Benedictine Abbey 75 miles North of Aberdeen - when I was there.

One advantage of not being especially musical is that I have no objection to pop music hymns. My problem was simply having a different set every week so I could never get in tune with any of them. I can never tell if a priest (or anyone else) can sing or not.

My objection to poppy songs--I find it difficult to call them hymns--is not in principle. There are some I sort of like, even one or two that I like a good deal. It's the quality of the specific ones, like "Ashes," especially the ones that have cringey lyrics. "If all our world is ashes, then must our lives be true." In conjunction with the smarmy tune, that gives me a physical shudder. No exaggeration.

"it seemed to be blasphemous to hear it outside the liturgical context."

Maybe it's having heard such music many times in my pre-Catholic life as just one more piece of music, but I don't have that reaction. I do now at least now treat it with some respect, but probably not as much as I should.

I'll listen to that sermon tomorrow.

~~But imagine ordering simply "toast" at a fast-food place.~~

Next best thing: you can get a plain English muffin at Mickey-D's for about $1.25.

If you've gone vegetarian for Lent, Grumpy, do try to make it up with fish and seafood. Protein's important for the immune system. I'm eating lots of tuna and sardines, and some frozen fish as well.

Rob, yes Im vegetarian for lent. I’ve done that for nearly 20 years I think maybe not so long. But anyway a long time. To me one of the attractions of Eastern Christianity is immobility on fasting and abstinence.

I don’t eat fish or seafood. When we were children we were allowed to not eat one thing and my brother did not eat cooked tomatoes and I did not eat fish. I’ve never eaten it I love the smell of it makes me feel sick. The texture is also revolting. I have eaten it a few times because I was brought up to eat whatever A host offered When we went out to dinner. So this isn’t just a childhood thing. I know it tastes horrible today.

I am working my way through a book called 660 Curries. I eat the vegan ones together with my lodger and the merely vegetarian ones by myself. Working through the legume section and the vegetable section. At the weekend we had a really delicious thing with cauliflower and coconut milk. I felt a lot less tired than other lents and I think it’s because there’s a lot of protein in these curries. There’s a lot of really healthy stuff here like a peanut and spinach curry. The book was recommended on The Argument podcast And I got it from abebooks in August

I loathe the smell! At the time when I became a Catholic all my family teased me that I would have to eat fish on Friday. It was the only thing they all knew about it. In fact it really is torture being in Catholic institutions and even Catholic countries like Spain on Fridays because of the pervasive smell of fish And The difficulty of getting anything else to eat

"there’s a lot of protein in these curries"

That's good -- just so long as you're getting it from somewhere!

Some Orthodox give up fish along with meat and dairy for Lent, and will eat only invertebrate seafood, but I've never done that.

I don't like to talk about vegetarianism because it makes me feel bad. :-)

Half-joking. I've always said that anyone who eats meat ought to be willing to kill his own but I wouldn't want to be put to that test, although I have witnessed the act more than once. Also there's the whole factory-farming thing and all the rest of it.

I could conceivably give up meat, as in animal and fowl, but not seafood and dairy products as well. Only if they simply could not be had, as in some emergency, and then one would be struggling just to survive.

I would say I love fish, but the truth is that what I really, really love is only fried fish. Cooked in other ways, it ranges from very good to not at all good. I'd have a hard time eating a lot of sardines. I've tried to eat something of that sort once a week for general health purposes, but it's not very enjoyable. There is a brand called Bar Harbor that's better than most. Their smoked herring is actually fairly tasty, but the local grocery store which had it for a while dropped it.

"a really delicious thing with cauliflower and coconut milk."

That appears to be a contradiction.

I like fish fried best, too, but I'm also a big fan of grilled and smoked salmon. One pub I frequent does a really nice grilled salmon "deli" type sandwich that I get fairly often. It's called the "Samwise." :)

Well my vegetarian thing is going so well I just added (or minused) cheese to make it a bit more rigorous.

Meanwhile, my 'only Coronavirus news' is a bit of a disaster. I've backslid and backslid, because all the news and all the political commentary is about the virus, so its hard to think of a reason why not. This morning I read David French on the difference between being Fearless (good) and Reckless (bad) in the midst of the pandemic. He talked about soldiers in Afganhistan being 'reckless' and being 'fearless.'

Everyone is different. I like giving up foodstuffs of any kind, because its black and white. You are eating that stuff or not. It usually works out. I've given up newspapers (and then the online equivalents) most Lents since I became Catholic, and mostly, I end up cheating in some way or another. The sociologist Kenneth Minogue said that everyone tends to be judgemental about other people's financial choices, because one person's absolute need is another person's frivolity. People are all very slightly different.

At minimum.

I would think it would be very hard to read only news on any one subject.

One of the mainstays of my diet used to be canned albacore tuna. But it's not available here in New Zealand, even though it's fished in its waters and sent off to other countries for canning.

Feeling very sorry for myself right now. :)

Why isn't it available? Because it's all sent elsewhere? Panic buyers have grabbed it all?

I've lived here since late 2007 and it's never been available. I think it's got something to do with Greenpeace, but don't know for sure.

It doesn't seem to be the most popular thing with the panic buyers here, as there was still some on the half-empty shelves today.

I went to the doctor after having a tummy ache for a week. I really couldn’t put it off any longer. I had an interesting conversation with my doctor. He said it was like a comedy of errors with the testing going wrong at first. He said if the testing hadn’t gone wrong we wouldn’t all be in lockdown. He said we should have just quarantined everybody over 60 and - looking at me just in from my zoom class - not Close the schools and universities. He said that hobby lobby was closing down for a few weeks Because supply chains were not working and the small businesses were in really bad trouble. I said if they would just give me $1000 I will go and spend it in the local boutique in half an hour. He said yes if they were just hurry up and do that and gave me a dark look. He said the hospitals were running on a skeletal schedule and the clinical staff were all on half time and out of money..

It’s funny because even before he said most of that I guessed that it would not cause an argument and I said the Trump could not articulate it very well because he stupid, But essentially what are he is saying about people needing to get back to work soon is true. The doctor did agree when I said that. What was funny about it was that I just knew that what I said would not cause an argument.

Very good piece in The Atlantic today by Yuval Levin About finding sustainable ways of getting back to work. Finding the balance. Insane piece in FT. Which does not find a balance.

24 March 2020 First time in my experience saying Trump is stupid but right is uncontroversial

Heh. Media want this to be the end of Trump but I don’t think it’s working that way.

Maybe they should seek out you and kindred spirits and give you each a hundred thousand.

I saw that Levin piece but was feeling burned out on Coronavirus opinions and didn’t read it. I do lean toward your doc’s opinion that the quarantine should have been targeted to the older and otherwise vulnerable.

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