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On the Move

On the Move

We’re on our way to Austin. Closed on our Chicago area home last Friday. Sticking around the area this week to tie up loose ends. It’s been a wild, tumultuous process that’s left little room to sit and think, much less write. Might still be a couple more weeks before we’re settled. Haven’t finalized where we’ll be living for the coming year, though we almost certainly won’t be buying a new house in this bonkers market.

A few observations.

How did we fit so much stuff in our little house?

The Post Office is a train-wreck.

I’m in awe of the work that professional movers do.

My wife is the world’s greatest Tetris-packing master.

Moving is hard work.

Sorry for the hiatus. Be back soon, warmer and perhaps a little sunburned.

32 Comments

  1. 2 comments on different current events.

    1) Chauvin guilty on all counts-WHEW!!!! It’s good that the system worked, but bad that there was so much suspense over what should have been an open and shut case, one even a 9 year-old could instantly assess.

    2) An interesting thread from David Frum:

    https://mobile.twitter.com/davidfrum/status/1384862663331749889

    Totally agree with the conclusion:

    “Eventually a free society reaches the limits of its ability to protect the ignorant and careless from themselves – and what a society cannot do, it can have no duty to do.“

    I’m currently reading up on mRNA vaccines, at the request of vaccine unsure family members. I have the training to understand this science and the experience to translate it for the non-scientist. It’s my public service, given all the BS flying around the Internet. I’ll gladly answer any questions people here have in future posts. For now, I’m just going to say that the science is very impressive, and the mRNA vaccines have major potential to protect people from the nasty diseases that nature will probably be throwing at us more frequently, given all the disruptions we’re causing. So I think Frum has an interesting point in that herd immunity may not matter for those who can and do get vaccinated. Then you may well see politics-based natural selection really ramp up. But I’m not for over investing in saving fools from themselves.

    Also this Saturday will mark 2 weeks post 2nd Pfizer- WooHoo!

    1. The real key to this is will the u.s. actually reach herd immunity. I have read that the threshold is anywhere between 70 and 90%. Clearly, the more easily transmittable a virus, the higher the threshold.

      I still don’t think most people grasp that this new addition to the Covid family, like its cousins Influenza A and B, and the common cold, will be here forever, How many KNOWN mutations have there been in the past 12 months? How long until a mutation breaks through Pfizer (which is the best), and the entire circus starts all over again?

      Best case scenario, the entire populace will have to be vaccinated with booster shots annually, or possibly more frequently than that. You factor in the segment of the population that Frum talks about: the stupid and insane; and herd immunity may never be reached.

      I stated from the get-go that letting this burn through the population, accepting 1% dead, would be a viable option. I still stand by that, though the virulence of the new mutations really weakens my argument.

      If these vaccine bypassing mutations start popping up, and IF altering the vaccine to combat the new mutations becomes like whack-a-mole, and adding in the “stupid and insane” demographic, two options emerge: Lock down forever, or let it burn through the population.

      If you choose option 1, that sure sounds like the morons were right all along, but with a subtle difference. I recognize all the science as accurate, and the vast majority of efforts by various governments and medical officials are all done in good faith. But I also know that staying ahead of a virus like this is almost impossible if it acts like the flu aka mutating around vaccines. Forever lockdown is just not viable.

    2. Fly-
      What do you think about the theory that the virus originated in China’s Wuhan virology lab?

      I have to admit, I’m coming around to that view. Note, it doesn’t have to be an intentional release, but most likely a lab accident, which happens far more often than we’d like or know about:

      https://www.usatoday.com/in-depth/opinion/2021/03/22/why-covid-lab-leak-theory-wuhan-shouldnt-dismissed-column/4765985001/

      I gotta say, initially this sounded like a classic Trumpian loony tunes idea, but I think there’s merit to it. There are increasingly more reliable articles that examine the merits of the theory:

      https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/03/08/josh-rogin-chaos-under-heaven-wuhan-lab-book-excerpt-474322

      https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/03/18/1021030/coronavirus-leak-wuhan-lab-scientists-conspiracy/

      And it does fit some puzzling facts.

      First, how did a coronavirus that’s only found in bats living in caves hundreds of miles away from Wuhan, infect humans in Wuhan, without ever infecting anyone along the way? Even if it was the wet market, there would have been probably hundreds of workers transporting the bats from their original caves to the markets, not to mention other markets all around China. Contact tracing would have revealed these trails of infection. But none (that we know about) exist. The first cases seem genuinely to be from Wuhan and nowhere else. That type of pinpoint origination is more consistent with a single source like a virology lab, than a trail of hundreds of miles, people, and locations, that somehow stayed clean until a single bat in a single wet market set everything off.

      Second, I remember being quite amazed at how quickly China moved to quarantine Wuhan. Literally within a few days of news coming out about a new SARS-type infection, they literally barricaded the streets and shut down airports and train stations. At the time, everyone just assumed that that’s the way a totalitarian state rolls: rapid action when they want to, without being constrained by democratic considerations.

      But that’s not true: totalitarian states generally don’t have fast reaction times, especially to unpleasant news, because underlings are not free to report bad news, or think outside the box. The first reaction of a city official in Wuhan would be to cover up the bad news and hope it goes away, lest he find himself executed and his family sent to a “re-education” camp for failing at his job.

      We even have previous outbreaks to compare to: when SARS happened, it was originally believed to originate in Hong Kong, because they were the first ones to honestly report the cases. It was only afterwards that we found out the virus originated across the border in China, but China had been ignoring and actively suppressing knowledge of the epidemic, leading to a far bigger (but less reported) epidemic there, than in neighboring HK, whose cases were actually coming from people crossing over from China.

      Despite the lessons learned (supposedly) from SARS, this instinct was alive and well in the early days of the covid spread: witness their attempts to muzzle civilian doctors who were reporting the epidemic on public channels like Weibo and WeChat.

      So for them to act so quickly and initiate the most draconian quarantine seen in the modern era (outside of Ebola outbreaks) for what everyone else in the world thought, at the time, was most likely going to be a slightly worse influenza outbreak is a little suspicious. Much more likely was that, if they had internal knowledge that a possibly dangerous virus escaped the virology lab, they panicked and closed everything off as quickly as possible.

      Anyway, I’m not trying to delve into the conspiracy-theory side of this whole debate, and one of the problems of our polarized environment is that everything gets viewed through a political lens on both sides of the aisle. But I do think there’s merit to this theory, and even might go so far as to say that right now, it’s the most likely theory…

      1. “But that’s not true: totalitarian states generally don’t have fast reaction times, especially to unpleasant news, because underlings are not free to report bad news, or think outside the box.”

        But that’s what happened. The reason COVID-19 became a pandemic is because Wuhan officials refused to admit something was happening. It’s only when it became obvious to everyone outside China that the totalitarian state clamped down.

        No excuse for democratic states that watched that happen and then proceeded to stay in denial themselves when they were in line for the next vector. Humanity in general, authoritarian or democratic, private or public, institution or individual literally just watched this happen and said, “It can’t affect me, right?”

  2. I just emailed Joe Manchin with the following message:

    Dear Sen. Manchin:

    Find 10 Republican Senators that will publicly pledge to vote with you for at least one bill supporting President Biden’s policy goals. They don’t even have to pledge to vote for the same one.

    Once you’ve secured just 10 little public pledges to maybe support just one policy achievement, go ahead and lecture on bipartisanship.

    Best regards,

    –Aaron Dow

    1. I’ve got zero sympathy, even for the guy who was dying. The TrumpU scam was out there as a warning well before the 2016 election. The willfully ignorant deserve to be scammed IMO. But that doesn’t mean I think the scammers should be absolved for their scummy behavior.

      1. “The political arm of House Republicans is deploying a prechecked box to enroll donors into repeating monthly donations — and using ominous language to warn them of the consequences if they opt out: “If you UNCHECK this box, we will have to tell Trump you’re a DEFECTOR.”

        The language appears to be an effort by the National Republican Congressional Committee to increase its volume of recurring donations, which are highly lucrative, while invoking former President Donald J. Trump’s popularity with the conservative base. Those donors who do not proactively uncheck the box will have their credit cards billed or bank accounts deducted for donations every month.

        The prechecked box is the same tactic and tool that resulted in a surge of refunds and credit card complaints when used by Mr. Trump’s campaign last year, according to an investigation published by The New York Times over the weekend.”

        https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/04/07/us/biden-news-today

        What was it conservatives complain about progressives? That they’re paternalistic and talk down to you if you don’t do what they say?

  3. Over the course of the last week and change, Amazon was engaging in a campaign to drum up good PR and to fight back against evidence that its delivery drivers had to relieve themselves in bottles or using bags because their delivery quotas and requirements were so abusive. Recode reported that this campaign was done at the behest of Jeff Bezos. All of this comes at a time when an Amazon warehouse in Alabama is voting to unionize.

    I fully support the unionization of Amazon workers, both those in the warehouses and those who are delivery drivers. Megacorps of the likes of Amazon that abuse their workers and then make Twitter accounts to pose as Amazon workers who say that things aren’t so bad? Those are what cyberpunk and general dystopian fiction warned us about.

  4. I don’t know how real this is:

    https://www.politico.com/news/2021/04/01/factionalism-trump-lord-of-flies-478811

    In the sense of, I don’t know how unusual it is for losing presidential campaigns to fragment into “What do we do next?” units in desperate search of further money and power, and also I don’t know how unusual this behavior is for any run-of-the-mill group of individuals in any way connected to 45’s orbit. I don’t know if this article is just media pitching for schadenfreude, or actually reporting strange happenings from the back alleys of the circus.

    What I do know is that there are two things talked about in this article that shouldn’t exist:

    1) confidential donor lists (should absolutely be required public, name address and phone number at any donation above something like $1000).

    2) These people having any legitimate opportunities in the first place.

  5. Chicago’s my hometown so I’m sad you’re leaving (although I can’t be too upset since I left years ago as well). We Chicagoans have always had a chip on our shoulder re: coastal snobs passing us over as boring flyover country. Now we have to deal with upstarts like Denver and Austin also trying to say they’re destination cities too. Harumph!

    I hope your move has gone well. Far be it from me to give you real estate advice, but as crazy as prices may be now, the hordes of bay area refugees are only growing, so Austin may be one of the few cities that wouldn’t go down if/when the RE bubble pops…

    Also, say hi to Elon Musk for me. He was an inspiring figure for years, but has lately gone off the rails, so I’m not too sad he moved out of California. You Texans can have him (or at least his tax domicile 🙂 I guess he’ll do his bit to keep Austin weird.

      1. That’s why he switched his tax domicile to Texas. Trust me, he loves hanging around LA and hobnobbing with celebrities (his string of prior wives and girlfriends are all from the Hollywood industry), but loathes the thought of paying CA state taxes. So, buy a little house in Austin, claim that’s your residence, while having 5 mansions in Bel Aire, and bingo! You are now “tax efficient” as they like to say.

  6. “though we almost certainly won’t be buying a new house in this bonkers market.”

    I’m worried that some financial idiot’s idea for real estate NFTs (which already exist) will take off in a big way and the whole “completely empty luxury apartment worth $100million” thing will extend to every creaky-floorboarded destitute dwelling from sea to shining sea. Oh, want a mortgage? Sorry you can’t afford any, all available housing is now just a digital hot potato passed back and forth between a couple hundred billionaires and Blackrock.

    But I make terrible predictions so I’m hoping I’m wrong on this one too.

    “The Post Office is a train-wreck.”

    Co-signed. I’ve been using a lot more of it recently as activity has started back up with my business, and DeJoy really did a number on it.

    Actually just today I learned that he said to the House Oversight Committee, and I quote, “Does it really matter if a letter takes a day longer to arrive?” THIS is the sort of ignorant arrogance that is why people assigned to official supervisory positions should show proof that they’ve had to send out a snail-mail check to pay their bills at least once in their life. Farmers’ chicks have been showing up dead due to delays and this man has the mendacity to ask what anyone’s complaining about?

    My anger about these things are compounded by the fact I could never get the opportunity to look a man like that in the face and even explain to him how cruel that makes him as a person… and that even if I did, his self-protective ego wouldn’t learn a thing.

  7. Welcome back to TX!

    I can relate to the article you posted. The type of people who decide they want to live in a certain a neighborhood because it’s interesting/ exciting/ different/ ethnic/ has culture, and then destroy those things after moving in is a tired old troupe in Houston. I’m thinking of Montrose, which was the bohemian section during my student days. Then the yuppie types moved in and decided that they couldn’t abide fun things like the biannual Westheimer Street Fest. It’s not as fun as it used to be.

    One story I saw a few years ago about people in NOLA trying to fight that sort of trend warmed my heart a little. They would post things-your-realator-may-not-have-told-you fliers near properties for sale. The fliers warned prospective buyers that the neighborhood had a long traditional of live music played outdoors, and if that was a problem, they should not buy in that neighborhood.

    I have zero-sympathy with the Karen-prototype in the article complaining about the low-rider club having their weekend meetups. It’s on you, the buyer, to do your homework on the neighborhoods you consider. Chatting up a few residents before putting her $ down would have clued her in to the regular goings on.

    1. I have a lot of questions for the reporter. There was a single sentence in that piece explaining that lots of tenants had no problem with it. Then we heard nothing more about those folks. Karen got loads of print while no one else got another mention.

      We’ll be out there on our very first Sunday in the place. My son can’t wait to see it. We were really wavering on whether we wanted to live there until I read the story. That’s exactly what I’m looking for, about a million miles from Elmhurst.

    1. Excited for you and your family. New starts and parting with stuff you likely forgot you had is cathartic. I likely will leave my building on W 52nd in a box. I’d miss the snow going over my boots and melting into my socks, the screaming and yelling and being told off in 3 languages. Safe journey and good health.

    2. Speaking of car clubs, I just got word my art car was juried into this year’s substitute for Houston’s annual art car parade, usually about 300 cars.

      This year’s event will be static with fewer vehicles, held at the Orange Show World Headquarters but last for 3 days and 2 nights. I bought a novelty horn for my car to celebrate and look forward to seeing old favorites.

      I’ve only been doing this for a few years, but I have found the art car community to be welcoming and generous with their time.

      Good luck on your move. May it be boring.

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