Protesting Business Shutdowns and Shelter in Place

I have pointed out repeatedly that I think the “precautions” being take against COVID-19 (AKA Winnie the Flu) are excessive and will in fact, lead to more death and hardship than the disease itself would.

Well, yesterday a group of like-minded individuals gathered together in front of the Governor’s Mansion here in Indianapolis to protest that very thing.

My daughter and her Service Dog in Training Dango were there:

The protest actually provided an opportunity for the socialization that is an important part of Dango’s training and so very hard to get with so many public venues shut down and with all the “social distancing” protocols:

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As is generally the case, there were signs.  Lots and lots of signs.

In addition to those standing in front of the mansion, we had “drive by” protesters as well:

Unfortunately the drive-by’s did a lot of honking and some, especially that bus, were enough to start stressing Dango.  We need to build him up to handling that much at once.  And so we packed it in early and headed home.

Are you listening Governor Holcomb?

Let my economy go!

 

Today Should Be a National Holiday: An Annual Tradition.

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If there were any justice today would be a national holiday at least as big as Independence Day.  I’m not kidding.

Back in the 1770’s an unrest that had started more than a century before–with Colonial reaction to the English Civil War, the Catholic reign of James II, and the Glorious Revolution that followed–was growing in the American colonies, at least those along the Atlantic Seaboard from New Hampshire down through Georgia.  Protests over taxes imposed without the taxed having any voice in the matter, complaints about a distant monarch and legislative body making rules and laws over people to whom they are not beholden.

There had been clashes which fed that unrest, including the famous “Boston Massacre” where British troops fired into a rioting mob resulting in several deaths.  Think of it as the Kent State of the 18th century.

In an effort to quell the unrest, or at least have it be less of a threat to British officials, General Thomas Gage, Military governor of Massachusetts, under orders to take decisive action against the colonists, decided to confiscate firearms and ammunition from certain groups in the colony.  His forces marched on the night of April 18, 1775.

The colonists, forewarned of the action (the Longfellow poem, which children learn in school–or they did when I was in school “Listen my children and you shall hear, of the midnight ride of Paul Revere”–is historically inaccurate, but it sure is stirring, isn’t it?), first met the British troops at Lexington Massachusetts where John Parker, in command of the local Colonial Militia said, according to the recollection of one of the participants, “Stand your ground.  Don’t fire unless fired upon.  But if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”

Whether Parker actually said those words, the first shot was fired.  No one knew who fired it, whether British or Colonial.  In the ensuing, brief battle the British regulars put the Colonial militia to flight.

The British then turned toward Concord.

A small unit of militia, hearing reports of firing at Lexington marched out but on spotting a British unit of about 700 while themselves only numbering about 250 they returned to Concord.  The Colonial militia departed the town across the North Bridge to a hill about a mile north of town where additional militia reinforcements continued to gather.

The British reached the town and began searching for the weapons they came to confiscate.  They found several cannon, too large to be moved quickly, and disabled them.  Other weapons and supplies had been either removed or hidden.

On seeing the smoke of the burning carriages from the cannon, the Militia began to move.  It is not my purpose here to go into detailed description of their movements but in the end the British regulars found themselves both outnumbered and outmaneuvered.  They fled, a rout that surprised the Colonial Militia as much as the British regulars.  Again, I simplify but in the end they marched back to Boston continuing to suffer casualties from what amounted to 18th century sniper fire from the surrounding brush.  The frustration of the British soldiers led them to atrocities, killing everyone they found in buildings whether they were involved in the fighting or not.

Eventually the British forces fought their way back to Boston where they were besieged by Militia forces numbering over 1500 men.

And the Revolutionary War had begun.

And so, on this day in 1775, the nascent United States took the course that would lead eventually to Independence.

And that’s why April 19 deserves to be a National Holiday on a par at least with Independence Day.  The latter was recognition of what became fact on the former.

Still Panicking over Winnie the Flu.

“Oh, no!” This person asserts. “Even 1-3% is too much!” (It actually appears to be much lower than that but…leave that aside for the moment.

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Most of those people dying of Winnie the Flu are folk over 80 with significant co-morbidities. You know what happens to people over 80 with significant co-morbidities? They die…frequently. About 7% per year starting at 80 and about 15% per year starting at 85 (both figures for males–slightly less for females). And that’s just from age, never mind “significant co-morbidities”.

But you know what else kills people, particularly people on the margins (like people over 80 with significant co-morbidities)? A faltering, let alone tanked, economy kills people.

There are numerous ways in which tanking an economy leads to more deaths. The thing is, those deaths are mostly “on the margins”–a person who’s already depressive might find being unemployed just that little bit extra to push him over the edge to “suicidal.” A person with anger issues might find the added frustrations of a bad economy just that bit extra to cause him to turn to violence. And people at the edges in terms of diet, nutrition, or health might find the lesser availability of things they need as just enough to make the difference between survival and death. There are all these boundary cases scattered in hundreds to thousands of different aspects of the economy, where a bit of change means the difference for some of them between living and dying. But since it was already close it just looks like the same kind of situations where folk die even in a “good” economy. Even in an economy that’s good people commit suicide. In an economy that’s good people die from health issues related to diet. In an economy that’s good people have frustrations that trigger anger issues which leads to them turning to violence. And so, the damage done, the deaths resulting from a faltering economy, go unremarked because they aren’t one big noticeable block. They’re thousands of little blocks, a few here, a slight increase there, unremarked and unnoticed except by their friends and loved ones.

But they are no less real for being unseen.

There are no ultimate solutions. There are only trade-offs. Your attempt to stop deaths one way, if it tanks the economy, simply causes more deaths elsewhere.

Now, politically, that’s actually an easy choice. “Unseen” may not make the deaths less real, but it does make them less likely to affect elections. If the voters don’t see them, but do see the folk being “saved” (or at least claimed to be saved) by the “actions” taken, well, people will generally vote what they see and not what they don’t.

And that’s why the more I study economics and related politics, the more “goth” I become. Might as well learn to appreciate the dark because it’s not going away.

Feeding the Active Writer: Smoked Pork Loin

I picked up a pork loin at the grocery yesterday.  Decided to run the smoker today.  In principle it’s pretty simple:  Coat the pork with a rub.  Heat up the smoker.  Put pork in the smoker and smoke on low heat until it reaches the target internal temperature.

However, with the side smoker that I have:

It does require a it of babying.

First there is the rub.  I used the following (amounts are approximate):

  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1 tsp Parsley
  • 1 Tsp crushed rosemary leaves

Sprinkle the rub over the pork loin and rub it in well.

Let the pork sit while you start the fire in the grill and let it heat to about 225F (give or take–with a charcoal grill it’s hard to keep a precise temperature).

Place the pork loin on the grill.  I set it near the middle turned so its length was across the grill.  This made the temperature approximately equal so it cooks evenly.  In cross section the loin has a “tear drop” shape.  I put the wider side of the “teardrop” facing the firebox and the narrower farther away.  Again, this helped to make it cook evenly.  I inserted a “leave in/remote readout” meat thermometer.  Here’s what it looked like on the grill, ready to smoke:

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Close the grill and add your smoking wood to the charcoal.  Now, normally I use apple wood but I used up the last of what I had on hand recently on something else and the local store was out of everything except cherry wood chips.  So…cherry it is.  These chips were intended for use with a gas grill or electric smoker which means they’re a lot smaller than the chunks of apple wood I normally use.  They burn up quickly in the charcoal.  That means you have to add small handfuls frequently to maintain smoke.

And now it takes time.  Charcoal grill so you have to check it frequently for temperature.  Adjust draft and/or add charcoal as needed to keep the temperature somewhere in the 200 to 250 degree Fahrenheit range.  225 is the goal, but realistically it’s going to vary.

Cook until the core temperature of the meat is about 160F.  Take it out to rest.  Here’s what it looked like, fresh from the smoker, at the start of its resting period:

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Let it rest about an hour before slicing.

Good by itself or in sandwiches.  It’s got a good “bark” and is tender and while not “dripping juicy” neither is it dry.  Nice and flavorful.

 

Amazon Prime: The Expanse and Carnival Row

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While I’ve been stuck home, I’ve been spending a lot of time watching videos on Amazon Prime. The current one up is The Expanse about which I’ve heard good things. It is interesting to compare it with the series I just finished (so far as it exists for now as a single season–and, dammit I want the rest)

Just finished the second episode of Season 1. And, let’s just say that it is not as engaging as the first two episodes of Carnival Row were for me. But then, Carnival Row started with some “thrilling heroics” and hinted that there was a love story in there. That had me sold and was enough to grab me until the worldbuilding and character development could completely rope me in. (Where’s the rest of it, dammit?)

The Expanse hasn’t really done that. I’m not fully engaged with the characters, at least not yet. The other thing is that we’ve got all these various threads which I’m having a bit of trouble following. Carnival Row had much the same issue but I think they tied them together a bit more tightly. While the plot thread involving Agreus Astrayon and the Spurnroses is off to the side, the other main plot threads tie together into a fairly cohesive whole. Admittedly, it wasn’t until the very end of the first season that they all came together but even before then they made part of a picture that had a bit more cohesiveness than the various threads in The Expanse–at least as I’m seeing them now. The overarching tie in The Expanse–the conflict between Earth, Mars, and the Belt–is a bit too diffuse at this point for it to pull the disparate elements together in my mind at this point.

Part of that is a matter of scope. While there is a bit of time spent elsewhere, the vast majority of the action in Carnival Row takes place within a single city, a single political entity, and a handful of cultures that are tightly bound together even when they’re in conflict. The Expanse spans the solar system with widely different polities with correspondingly less cohesiveness between them.

Both series show some truly excellent worldbuilding. In Carnival Row every main character went through major changes in some breathtaking character arcs. It’s too soon yet to see if the same can be said of The Expanse. There’s material there that shows promise but…we’ll see.

For the time being, I certainly plan to continue.

Musings of an Agnostipagan

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I have self-described as an Asatru Leaning Agnostic.  A friend of mine coined the term Agnostipagan.  Being “God blind” I don’t share experiences that others describe of their relationship with whatever deities may exist.  I do not, of of hand, dismiss the possibility of them, but it’s not something I can attest to.  Still, people have hard-wired into them a need for ritual, symbolism, and a search for larger meanings in the world.  What folk call “religion” fills that need for many people.  I am no different from anyone else in having the need and so, I sought a path, a “way”, that fills that need that suits me.  I find it in Asatru.  There are certainly others that can do it, but that’s the one that just “fits” best.  Whether the gods exist or not is above my pay grade (as the saying goes), but as far as what I get out of life and find my own way to meaning, it works for me.

In another forum someone asked the question about if one could “really” be Asatru if one wasn’t of Norse extraction.  Well, some folk pointed out that while much of what we know of it came from Scandinavia, Norse is simply a branch of a much larger Germanic religion.  The gods names change from region to region–Odin, Wotan, Woden, etc. or Thor, Thunor, Donner, etc–and the stories may have shifted in their telling over time and between regions but at heart it was all one religion.  Yet still, the question remained:  would one need to be of Germanic or Norse extraction to be “qualified” to follow the religion.  Now, I am of Germanic extraction on my father’s side (and probably no small amount of Norse out of my mother’s people from Ireland–considering the raiding that went on back in the day), but, still, I had my own thoughts on the issue.

My take, for what it’s worth. Whatever ultimate deities there might be in the Universe, they have presented themselves to, and been understood by, various peoples in terms those people could understand. The same basic powers would have appeared one way to the Germanic/Norse folk, another way to folk on the Siberian steppe, yet another way to folk on the African veldt, and so on. People in those cultures would follow the gods of their people in large part because that was what they were used to and what had meaning for them. Those various folk religions weren’t terribly interested in proselytizing. A group might think its gods were stronger than a neighboring group’s gods but they didn’t go out of their way to “convert” the neighbors to worship of their own. (That is, until certain monotheistic religions started running rampant.)

So, in times past, before those militant monotheists got involved, it just made sense for folk to follow the gods of their own people and tribe.

In the modern day, however, some of those old rules really don’t apply. Even in modern Scandinavia, few people could be said to be living the hardscrabble existence common when the Norse branch of Germanic religions were crystallizing. Likewise with most other folk religions. The situations and challenges faced by the folk are generally quite different. That does not mean that the old ways have nothing of value to those modern people, far from it. What it does mean, however, is that they are less tied to particular peoples in particular circumstances.

So the question becomes, whether a particular “way” resonates with you, personally. That’s what matters. If it resonates with _you_ more than other ways then I would say that it is right for you.

Other people may disagree but in the end, I would think it would be between you and whatever gods there may be. You may be guided by the counsel of others, but in the end the final decisions, and the final responsibility for those decisions, is your own.