Saturday, February 29, 2020

Reducing the Risk

Another precaution against the coronavirus' impact--assuming exposure is inevitable--is to inoculate oneself against the flu.

How many times, dear reader, do you hear about someone dying, say, of a bacterial infection, a weakened heart, or the flu after he or she is admitted to the hospital for something else? Chances are much improved if you're fighting off one malady, not two.

I headed to the local Costco Pharmacy. The pharmacist said the flu shot was covered by my prescription plan and asked if I would like a pneumonia injection as well. Can I get it today? "Yes."

And so it was that I got the flu shot and Prevnar 13, with a reminder to come back in a year for Pneumovax 23. (The pneumonia protocol is two doses.)

I looked at the chart on the wall and realized the pharmacist was following the CDC vaccination schedule recommendations. It may be standard operating procedure, but I'm glad she inquired about the pneumonia vaccine.

Can I get the shingles shot ("Zoster"), too. "No, that's on backorder." I was pleasantly surprised to get above what I asked for, but it didn't stop me from asking for more.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Coronavirus: It's Inevitable

...that I'm going to get it. (OK, that's too panicky, because some years I don't take the flu shot and don't come down with the flu.)

On Wednesday we learned of the first U.S. case of coronavirus that cannot be traced to persons who have been to China or have been in contact with a known carrier. [bold added]
(Sacramento Bee)
A Solano County resident has tested positive for the new coronavirus but had not recently traveled to any foreign country where the virus is spreading and had not had contact with any people with confirmed cases, public health officials said Wednesday.

"...the patient arrived at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento on Feb. 19 after being transferred from another hospital. The patient was already intubated, on a ventilator and “given droplet protection orders because of an undiagnosed and suspected viral condition,” according to the email, written by David Lubarsky, UC Davis vice chancellor of human health services, and Brad Simmons, interim chief executive of UC Davis Medical Center.

...The CDC said it is possible that the source of the infection will be determined with further interviews with the patient. Public health officials are now attempting to track where the person may have gone in the community and who he or she may have interacted with.

The case is the 60th in the United States, and the 28th in California. The bulk of the infections have been in passengers who were evacuated from a cruise ship in Japan and quarantined at U.S. military facilities, including Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, in Solano County. The Bay Area county is halfway between San Francisco and Sacramento. It has a population of about 500,000.
The presence of Travis AFB in Solano County, where the patient lives, is too much of a coincidence to ignore, and I expect that eventually the CDC will figure out how it was transmitted. But it also probably won't matter, since the virus by then will have escaped into the community.

So, protect yourself as best you can by handwashing, limiting person-to-person interactions as much as possible, and increasing your odds of recovery by raising the level of your personal health through diet, exercise, and sleep.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Okay, Panic

Current events remind me of this scene from a 38-year-old movie:

Preventive Purchase

2009: Lenovo IdeaPad
I bought a "Netbook" computer 11 years ago. The operating system was Windows, it had no hard disk and hence no file storage (at the time few consumers used the cloud). I used it primarily for web-surfing at public WiFi locations.

The Lenovo IdeaPad S10 Netbook cost $350. It was a pleasure to use--netbooks were much lighter compared to laptops with hard drives--but not durable. It broke after two years.

2020: Acer Chromebook
After an 11-year hiatus I bought my second websurfing-only computer, an Acer Chromebook 14. It's superior to the old IdeaPad--for example as the name implies, it has a 14" HD display--,but the functionality is basically the same. The operating system is Google's Chrome, not Microsoft's Windows. The price was right--$175 before tax--demonstrating the workings of Moore's Law.

I have other devices that can be used to websurf, but the main reason for the purchase was indeed different from 2009: there's been a rash of thefts of laptops while people are using them. I can't afford to lose one with (backed-up) sensitive information, but if thieves need a Chromebook that badly they can have it with no resistance.

In most ways the world is better, but in a few it's become worse.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Going Full Pancake

Having cut back on sugary carbohydrates, I've laid off pancakes since November. As the lawyers like to say, there's a religious exception; it was Fat Tuesday, aka Mardi Gras (in French it sounds sophisticated, n'est ce pas?)

This year we forsook the local IHOP for the Millbrae Pancake House. If you're gonna pancake, go full pancake, that is, with lots of butter and syrup.

Lent starts the next day, and there will be 40 days devoted to controlling base impulses. All in good time. It was Pancake Tuesday.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Off Limits

Photo from 2011: Four miles in, elevation at 1,600 ft.
Since 2011 I had been hiking regularly at Rancho San Antonio Park.

However, the warnings about mountain lions in Bay Area mountains were growing louder, so I stayed away after 2017.

Two weeks ago a six-year-old girl was injured by a mountain lion at the Park.

Last Sunday the lion was put down.
(Mercury News image)
After three days of searching, state officials captured and euthanized the mountain lion that had attacked a 6-year-old girl in Rancho San Antonio Preserve.

The female cat, between 2 and 4 years old and weighing between 60 and 70 pounds, was discovered in a tree in the area on Wednesday afternoon, according to a statement from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife on Thursday.

2015: cool canopy
Fish and Wildlife initially sedated the animal and extracted DNA before confirming it was the predator that attacked the child. On Sunday morning, the girl was scratched and bitten on the calf and DNA samples were taken from her wounds, which matched the DNA of the captured mountain lion, according to the statement from agency spokesperson Jordan Traverso.,,

The girl had been hiking with her father and other adults and children when they encountered the lion Sunday on Wildcat Loop about two miles from the main parking lot.

Park rangers said at the time that the adults in the group “punched” the mountain lion, scaring it off. The girl suffered minor injuries, including scratches and a puncture wound, and was treated by a park ranger.
The Park has reopened this week, but I'll continue to stay away.

Even walking in a group, I'm the easiest one to catch...

Monday, February 24, 2020

He’s Rich and Green

....and I’m not (though I may be green with envy).

The Tesla Model 5 starts at $85,000.

My evil twin sometimes fantasizes about pasting an easily removable “MAGA” or “Trump 2020” sticker on electric cars to test this progressive region’s devotion to the First Amendment, but only on cars with indicia of virtue like license plate messages. But that would be wrong.


Earth wobbles (pinterest image)
Because the Earth wobbles like a spinning top ("precession"),
it no longer aligns with the constellations of the zodiac on the dates that were established in ancient times.
If one believes in this astrological originalism, I'm a Libra, not a Scorpio (chart, below right).

Red arrow shows my new position on wheel.(WSJ)
Cosmo - Scorpio:
Emotional, imaginative and intense, Scorpio is like the big, bad elder sister of the Water sign crew...They are ruled by two planetary influences...- Pluto (god of the Underworld) and Mars (god of War)… and that kinda’ sums them up. Dark and dangerous. Drawn to what lies beneath, to the mysteries of life, to the ‘underbelly’ of humanity, and also able to fight to the death if they feel wronged/betrayed /abused. Scorpions: Drake, Kendall Jenner, Winona Ryder, and Ciara.
Cosmo - Libra:
Librans are best known for their love of balance...They are idealistic perfectionists, and they invest most of their energy in keeping their environment and lives lovely, tidy and orderly. An astrological Marie Kondo! However, Libra is also ruled by Venus, a planet which holds sway over beauty, the arts, love and pleasure. This makes them wonderful lovers, extremely aesthetic and into beautiful things, and certainly born with a taste for ALL of the finer things in life. Librans are big on self-indulgence. Librans: Kim Kardashian, Bella Thorne, Cardi B, Gwen Stefani and Halsey.
It's like taking a DNA test and finding you have identified with the wrong tribe.

Related: Astrology "has grabbed a foothold in online culture, especially for young people."

Someone needs to do a book on what young people believe and how it all fits together: astrology, climate change is gonna kill us all in 10 years, socialism is superior, social-media "likes" mean success in life. I'd buy that book.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

"Frozen Flash of History"

Today is the 75th anniversary of Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, one of the most famous photographs of the 20th century. SF Chronicle:
It was 75 years ago this month that photographer Joe Rosenthal took one of the most iconic photos of the 20th century: six servicemen raising the American flag on Iwo Jima after the U.S. captured the island in one of the bloodiest, most famous battles of World War II.

After making that photograph, Rosenthal returned to San Francisco and was hired by The Chronicle.
In that single engagement the U.S. suffered 6,821 combat deaths (roughly equal to the total deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001) and 19,217 wounded. Japanese casualties were 18,000, with 99% fighting to their death.

The Pulitzer committee didn't wait for the year to finish, as was its custom, and awarded Joe Rosenthal the Pulitzer Prize in April, 1945.

Poorer Without the Knowledge

Reading the Bible to his son (Getty, 1864)
Abraham Lincoln's life, like that of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, was rooted in Christianity. His writings and speeches were filled with Scriptural references, which would be highly unusual in a politician of today. Also unusual: his audience understood him.
in an age of declining biblical literacy, we are in danger of losing touch with a key source of his greatness.

Why, for instance, did Lincoln begin the Gettysburg Address with the words “fourscore and seven years ago?” ...he knew that his audience was deeply familiar with the King James Bible and would recognize the language of the Psalms: “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years.”
At one time it was commonly understood that teaching about Christianity was different from preaching it. In avoiding the latter our schools have forsaken the former.

And so it is that we have little understanding of and identification with historical icons like Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr., and we're the poorer for it.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Bloom is Off the Burger

There's no waiting at 11AM at the Hillsdale Shake Shack.
A little over a year ago we sampled the wares at Stanford's Shake Shack:
Impressions: the burgers were flavorful and made of quality beef, but I certainly wouldn't wait an hour for them. There are any number of good burger places on the Peninsula that are competitive with Shake Shack's pricing, $8-$12 for a full meal.
Shake Shack has expanded the number of outlets in the Bay Area. While there's often a line at its new San Mateo store, the traffic has subsided noticeably. Perhaps the bloom is off the burger.

SHAK is 29% below its September high but has still
beaten the indices by at least 30% over the past year
Update: SunTrust analyst Jake Bartlett downgrades SHAK.
Shake Shack plans to open 90% of its company-owned stores in existing markets in 2020 and the research firm's checks suggest 22 out of 24 store openings are located within 20 miles of a non-comp base store.

The math behind this trend implies a 220 basis point same-store sales headwind in 2020 due to sales cannibalization.
Update 2: despite Shake Shack's possible over-expansion (and the fact that I don't love their burgers), I bought a few shares today for my retirement plan. SHAK's previous highs, and the company's low valuation (under $3 billion) promises that it has room to run. The head still rules over the heart...and stomach.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Unsettled Science

I wish climate scientists would make up their minds. It's so unsettling.

2014: The Great Lakes Go Dry [bold added]
2012: Portage Lake, near Lake Michigan
White lines on the wall mark normal water
level (WBUR)
Increasingly, scientists believe that climate change is driving the warming waters and setting up a new regime in the Great Lakes that may lead to lower lake levels and a permanently altered shoreline....last winter’s record low lake levels are a glimpse of what a warmer climate in the region would do to the lakes — a glimpse that so far has lasted 15 years, set off by one hot summer.
2020: On Rising Great Lakes, Backyards Are Disappearing Overnight
5/19: Lake Erie waves crashing (WSJ)
Record and near-record water levels in all five Great Lakes are resulting in tens of millions of dollars in damage from Minnesota to New York as eroding shorelines and monster waves cause homes to plummet into the water, public piers and lakeside trails to crack and crumble, and parks and properties to flood....

Last year was the wettest on record for the Great Lakes and the second wettest across the continental U.S., according to federal data. Forecasts from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers show the elevated lake levels persisting through at least July.

Lakes Huron and Michigan set record lows in early 2013—an unprecedented swing, said Drew Gronewold, an associate professor at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability. He said the warming climate is exacerbating both precipitation and evaporation, the two main forces affecting lake levels.
As we noted last month,
Global warming Climate change causes droughts, record heat, and wildfires. It also causes rainstorms, snow, and record cold. There's nothing it can't do.

Thursday, February 20, 2020


The roses are still going strong five days after Valentine's Day--in fact, they look better.

If I were a poet, I'd write something about how love matures and can become more luminous over time.

Eventually the petals fall, but by then the underlying beauty will have been revealed, and that it is what we retain in our memories.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.
------Isaiah 40:8

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Life Imitates Comedy (?)

Donald Trump's continued success in repelling Democrats' attempts to bring him down (25th Amendment, emoluments clause, Russian collusion, Ukraine, impeachment) and the fact that his policies have not, yet, resulted in disaster (tax cuts, regulatory rollbacks, immigration enforcement, tariffs, withdrawing from the Paris Accords and the Iran deal, talks with North Korea) have his reeling opponents imagining things, for example, that a public dispute between the President and Attorney General Barr is fake:
“Critics suggested Barr’s comments to ABC News were simply a coordinated attempt between him and Trump to defuse the outrage sparked by his Department of Justice’s botched sentencing recommendation for Trump’s longtime ally Roger Stone,” declared the Huffington Post, quoting a litany of liberals...

More amusing is the liberal depiction of Mr. Trump as a Machiavelli who is manipulating everyone in secret. Usually the line is that he’s an idiot.
The WSJ references an SNL skit from 1986, in which the doddering President Reagan reveals himself to be a mastermind in private.

Donald Trump isn't really that smart, right?

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Reversal of Fortune

The Chinese century? Not so fast.
“Since Xi came to power, problem after problem have occurred on his watch that he seems unable to effectively manage,” says Jude Blanchette, a China analyst at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. These include popular unrest in semiautonomous Hong Kong, a disruptive trade war with the U.S. and now an unfolding health crisis.
It took only a few months for the Hong Kong protests and the mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak to damage the perception of Chinese invincibility. Also, the trade war that would supposedly have no winners has so far caused more harm to China's economy than the U.S.'

Recent setbacks may well be temporary, and the Chinese are famous for playing the long game. But the century is not theirs yet.

Monday, February 17, 2020

President's Day, 2020

Former G.W. Bush speechwriter Jonathan Horn has filled a gap in popular history by writing about George Washington's post-Presidency (March 1797 - December 1799): [bold added]
Washington retired at a time when heads of state usually only relinquished power upon their deaths. His successor, John Adams, recalled looking around the room during his inauguration and seeing people in tears.

He knew those tears weren’t for him, but that everyone was so moved by Washington surrendering power. They knew they were witnessing history.
Jonathan Horn on Washington's ownership of slaves:
It was a disappointment to Washington, I think, that he could not find a way to provide eventual freedom for all of the men, women, and children held in slavery at Mount Vernon. The will he left when he died in 1799 provided eventual emancipation for all the slaves he owned but could not do the same for the so-called dower slaves, who had come to Mount Vernon only as a result of his marriage to the widow Martha Custis. As a result, Washington died knowing that Mount Vernon had a destiny similar to that of the country he had created. Both, in a sense, would be half-slave and half-free.
(Photo from
George Washington is on Mount Rushmore because he defeated the vastly superior British Army and set numerous precedents as the first Executive, including relinquishing power when Americans would have acclaimed him king.

By our standards he did not do enough personally or politically to eliminate slavery, but it's easy enough to criticize him now since there would have been no Constitution and no United States without the toleration of that peculiar institution.

I hope that those who look back on us 230 years from now will do so in context, with sympathy, and not judge some of our choices as irredeemably evil.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Fire, Rain, Loss, and Wisdom

(WSJ Image)
In 1970 my college roommate played Fire and Rain nearly every day on his turntable. I liked the melody, but I heard the lyrics without listening. It's taken 50 years for me to understand James Taylor better: [bold added]
“My first successful song was ‘Fire and Rain,’ which starts with losing a friend to suicide. There’s a cumulative emotional quality to it, a message that’s useful to hear....generally, we don’t engage with things that are hard. In modern culture, do we go too far in the direction of never doing anything that’s unpleasant? It’s almost like we’re entitled to not having negative feelings.

I’m 71, and when you get older you lose more and more. Your accumulated memory and personal history are a huge compensation, but you have fewer people to share that with. Maybe cumulative loss is what old age is.”
Though "Fire and Rain" never reached number 1 on Billboard, it's on several top-100 and top-500 lists of the greatest songs of all time.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Correct Without a T

Always seeking to improve my vocabulary, I subscribe to Word Genius, whose lesson today was about an adjective others employ to describe your humble blogger.

Doughty --now that's a word I used to encounter often in the tales of King Arthur and Robin Hood.

Wait a minute, my mistake. Drop the T. My friends call me least I thought they were friends.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Happy Valentine's Day from the City That Knows How

Flowers for sale at the Ocean Ave. Whole Foods.
Last month we noted how San Francisco D.A. Chesa Boudin's solution to auto break-ins is to help victims replace broken windows more cheaply. Marginally "helpful" though it is, his proposal doesn't apply to us non-San Franciscans. Of course, he will have to add staff to administer his program:
The $1.5 million in the office’s new budget includes money to pay for two victim advocates to process claims from people whose vehicles are registered in San Francisco.
Needing to run a couple of errands in the City, I drove my 16-year-old weather-beaten Camry, not the one-year-old SUV. Paranoia runs strong in my family.

Happy Valentine's Day from the City that knows how.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Accountant, Go Home, Organize Thyself

West end of Ala Wai Canal from the McCully bridge.
I used to be able to grind away all night on spreadsheets and documents, but 12 continuous hours now seems to be my limit.

As the sun sets on my Hawaiian "vacation," I didn't accomplish everything that I hoped, but I did enough so that I wouldn't have to return in March or April (though I might just for fun). I scanned or copied the papers that I will need to do Mom's tax return and sketch out her financial picture for 2020.

As usual, I'm much further along with clients and family members than I am with my own stuff...

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Cactus Flower

February 8, 2020 
The night-blooming cereus is one of the few landmarks that hadn't changed. I passed by the rock wall and hedge a couple of times a week for nine years during the Sixties. The cereus is never in bloom during the carnival, but one can't have everything.
June through October is when it puts on its show, with the flowers beginning to open in the late afternoon, and wilting as day breaks.

( image)
They truly are splendid - twenty-five or so centimeters of fragrant, creamy white petals with a yellow center....The story is that it was brought to Honolulu by Charles Brewer, the first mate on the Ivanhoe, who had picked it from Mexico en route to Hawaii. He gave a cutting of it to Sybil Bingham, who planted it around the Punahou campus in the 1830's. Today the hedge on the lava rock wall of the campus is over three hundred meters long, and brings many admirers when it blossoms.
I came to see the carnival, but a few minutes alone in the shadows with my memories were the best part of the evening.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Wealth A'Plenty

On a breezy Sunday afternoon I strode across the Kalanianaole overpass to the Koko Head Marina. The shops and restaurants on this side of Kuapa Pond seem slightly fancier than on the Hawaii Kai side.

If you have a boat, you've got more money to spend, I suppose.

IMHO, if you have a home here you've got wealth a'plenty.

Monday, February 10, 2020

No Malasadas

The entrance on Punahou and Wilder appeared massive when I was in fourth grade. Now it looked much smaller, especially with the bright lights beckoning from inside.

After 50 years it was time to return to the Punahou Carnival.

I didn't recognize it. When the junior class ran the event in 1969, it had a family feel.

On this Saturday night thousands more people crammed on to Chamberlain Field than back in the day. There were long lines to every ride and concession stand. Parents held onto their charges' hands as if their life depended on it. I couldn't get close to anything, not even nearby Montague Hall where I took six years of violin lessons.

Alas, there would be no malasadas tonight.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

A Good Morning

Jamie Lee flanked by admirers.
One of the part-time caregivers was pau work as we were leaving for church services downtown, 20 minutes away. She asked for a ride to her church, a mile from ours. Of course.

Edna, 77, had emigrated to Honolulu from the Philippines to join two of her children. Later the head nurse told me that Edna should not have approached me for a ride. I assured the nurse that I was happy to do it; transportation is a real problem for older workers, many of whom don't drive.

My good deed was rewarded immediately (yes, I know it doesn't work like that) when this year's Narcissus Queen, Jamie Lee, and Narcissus Princess, Sabrina Young, happened to be in the Parish Hall for a photo shoot.

Sabrina Young and fan
The Narcissus Festival and beauty pageant were a big deal when I was growing up and are still important to Hawaii's Chinese community:
The Narcissus Festival was initially tied to the Lunar New Year celebrations due to the narcissus flower being an auspicious symbol of rebirth and good fortune...The festival’s purpose is to preserve and showcase Chinese art and culture, while promoting local and international commerce...The festival culminates in an annual goodwill tour wherein the queen and her court travel to various cities in mainland China and act as cultural ambassadors for the state of Hawai’i.
The flowers were impressive, too.

My Hawaiian Vacation

Time honored: separate papers into piles on the floor.
Throughout his life Dad was disciplined and organized. It took four of us kids to take over his various responsibilities, i.e., running his business, managing his personal finances, and making sure Mom has her needs met.

The information is scattered across different households, and I have to put it all together to do the tax return. There's a problem, however.

Obsessive long-dormant accounting predilections have reared their head. If I were just focused on the task, I'd extract the needed information--e.g., medical expenses from a personal checkbook--and leave everything as is.

But the accounts haven't been reconciled! The invoices haven't been categorized!

If I shoved all the papers into a box, no one would notice. But I would know.

This "vacation" isn't turning out the way I had hoped.

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Carbon Indulgence

The above graph and commentary are from the WSJ on the week's action in auto stocks. [bold added]
As traditional car giants sputter, Tesla is in the lead. General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. gave tepid outlooks for the year ahead to investors as they deal with weakening demand and rising labor costs. Meanwhile, investors are gravitating to upstarts like Tesla, whose valuation soared in recent days to more than $130 billion—higher than that of GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV combined. Telsa shares gained 20% Tuesday.
When we left for Honolulu on Tuesday, TSLA was taking off like a rocket ship. It's fallen sharply but still finished 15% higher for the week.

I checked out the Tesla store at Ala Moana. The displays are more polished, and the products are, as expected, more advanced, than they were three years ago in Palo Alto.

Within the next five years we'll probably swallow hard and buy the Powerwall battery storage, the solar roof, and the car.

For an outlay in the low six figures we'll not only be independent of PG&E but more importantly signal our low-carbon virtue to the neighbors. A red Tesla, like the one in the showroom, will do the trick.

Friday, February 07, 2020

Countervailing Narratives

Narratives about illegal immigration were initially the exclusive province of open-border, sanctuary-city advocates. Tales were rife about "dreamers" who served in the Armed Forces or were valedictorians, doctors, teachers, and other contributing members to American society.

(Toronto Sun image)
The 2015 shooting death of Kate Steinle in San Francisco by illegal immigrant Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was the flashpoint for the counter-narrative that non-enforcement of immigration laws posed physical danger to citizens. Donald Trump referred to Kate Steinle during the 2016 campaign and called Jose Zarate's acquittal in 2017 an "outrage."

Immigration reform has been paralyzed by the competing narratives (and political polarization, but that's way beyond the scope of this post).

In 2018 New York enacted a Criminal Justice Reform Package that "eliminate[d] monetary bail for people facing misdemeanor and non-violent felony charges." Bail reform got most of the ink, but another part of the legislation, Expanding the Discovery Process, may have resulted in disaster for a witness who was going to testify against MS-13: [bold added]
Wilmer Rodriguez (Daily Mail)
Mr. Rodriguez agreed to testify against the gang members, who were charged with assault and witness intimidation as a result of the attack, officials said.

On Sunday, Mr. Rodriguez was found beaten to death outside a home in New Cassel, came several weeks after a judge ordered prosecutors to disclose Mr. Rodriguez’s identity to lawyers who represented the gang members accused of attacking him, officials said.
Reformers say that defendants should be given witness names weeks in advance. Detractors counter that violent defendants will stop at nothing to prevent these witnesses from testifying. Reformers are denying any responsibility for Mr. Rodriquez' murder:
“This has absolutely nothing to do with the new criminal justice reforms,” said Mike Murphy, a spokesman for the State Senate’s Democratic majority....

Lisa Schreibersdorf, the executive director of Brooklyn Defender Services, said...“There is absolutely no way this is related to the discovery laws.”
There is no proof that Wilmer Rodriguez had been killed by MS-13, yet the gang's history of murder and other violence makes the supposition plausible. Unless the suspicion is countered soon, the narrative connection between the 2018 Reform Bill and the Rodriguez murder will be unshakeable.

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Could Be Worse

Walking around the Ala Wai Canal on February 5.
After three months the heavy equipment is still there, much longer than the 65 days promised in the project description.

But hey, I'm from California, where the project overruns are measured in years and billions of dollars. It's a good thing that California and Hawaii are as close to Socialism as any state in the Union, because if the profits of contractors were not controlled, think how much more expensive things might be.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

A Dangerous Thing

At HNL baggage claim, not a mask in sight

Departing from San Francisco yesterday, I noticed that about 10% of the people in the terminal were wearing masks. Those so outfitted were all from Asia.

No one in Honolulu was masked. Possible explanations:
  • Travelers were not afraid of the coronavirus, since the number of cases in the U.S. is very small and traceable to people who've traveled to China.
  • They have trust in the health and immigration authorities to ring-fence the contagion.
  • They're stupid and unaware of the magnitude of the problem.
  • They're smart and have read the articles on the limited effectiveness of masks.

    An old truth: if one has no knowledge or a lot of knowledge, one does not panic. If one has a little knowledge, well,...
  • Tuesday, February 04, 2020

    LIke a Rocket Ship

    SpaceX launch in 2018
    TSLA has "gone parabolic". Will it crash or reach escape velocity?
    Elon Musk's SpaceX isn't his only business that's defying gravity. Tesla stock (TSLA) has taken off like a rocket ship in the past five days.
    The ascent has been so rapid that Tesla shares, which jumped 20% to a closing record Monday, are now up 86% for the year—outperforming every single stock in the S&P 500, as well as bitcoin and gold. In fact, Tesla’s rise over the past five trading days marked its best five-day stretch since a rally in May 2013, when the company posted its first-ever quarterly profit.

    What has driven the company to this point? The rally got a boost last week when Tesla reported making record deliveries in the fourth quarter and said it planned to deliver more cars globally in 2020.
    There's a part of me that wishes I were along for the ride (the stock, that is). There's also a part that's worried about the landing.

    Some Markets are Hazardous to Your Health

    I liked to go to "wet markets" in post-war Hawaii as a kid and look at all the live and dead creatures. They were an important part of the culture--and still are in Asia. But their time has passed.

    Business Insider (1/31/2020): [bold added]
    The coronavirus spreading in China and the SARS outbreak of 2003 have two things in common: Both are from the coronavirus family, and both likely started in wet markets. At such markets, outdoor stalls are squeezed together to form narrow lanes, where locals and visitors shop for cuts of meat and ripe produce. A stall selling hundreds of caged chickens may abut a butcher counter, where meat is chopped as nearby dogs watch hungrily. Some vendors hock skinned hares, while seafood stalls display glistening fish and shrimp.

    Guangzhou, 2004: SARS from civet cats in wet market (WSJ)
    Wet markets put people and live and dead animals — dogs, chickens, pigs, snakes, civets, and more — in constant close contact. That makes it easy for a virus to jump from animal to human.

    On January 22, authorities in Wuhan, China — where the current outbreak started — banned the trade of live animals at wet markets. The specific market where the outbreak might have begun, the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market, was shuttered on January 1. The coronavirus that emerged there has so far killed at least 213 people and infected more than 9,800.
    The Wildlife Conservation Society has called for their abolition:
    SCMP: frogs for sale at Wuhan market
    It would be hard to design more opportune conditions for new viruses to emerge: Tightly pack together a variety of species from around the world and transport them across borders directly into large wet markets. Ensure that these massively stressed and immunocompromised wild animals are in close proximity to domestic and farmed animals. Then distribute these animals to urban populations for consumption.

    The reassortment and exchange of viral components between species at live animal markets is a major source of new viruses. These can be zoonotic—transmitted from animals to humans (e.g., avian flu, SARS, Middle East respiratory syndrome)—and later mutate so that they can transmit between humans, creating the conditions for a rapid global pandemic.