April 4th, 2020

#7090: I liked that!

Tales From the Loop, ended up binge-watching four of the eight eps last night.

They transplanted the Loop itself from Sweden to Ohio, but the episodes are full of scenes which look like Stalenhag's paintings. Every so often they throw in an establishing or a closing shot that is composed and lit like one of the scenes that inspired the series. The landscape around the town that this story is set in is littered with abandoned artifacts that no one even looks at.

It's a visual delight. After being a fan of Stalenhag's work for so long, it's wonderful to see the world he created in motion.

The episodes are paced slow. This is both good and bad. The first ep, I saw the twist about a mile away, but it didn't detract from the story at all. Second ep I was "meh" about. Third ep was better but it's an old trope for SF anthology series and I saw it a mile away. Fourth ep--

Probably could have watched the whole series at one sitting without half trying. Understand, the stories they're telling here are the ones that TV SF series always tell, and they are told very well here. We care about the characters and their situations, and unlike a lot of current TV series, I know the characters' names, and knew them without needing to look it up on IMDB.com.

Also unlike a lot of current TV series? The characters are allowed to be people, rather than check boxes on an SJW diversity list. The race of the characters is utterly irrelevant. If there are any homosexual characters, it's not obvious, mainly because it's irrelevant to the stories being told.

The sour note is that "the Loop" is essentially a source of magic.

The world of the Loop, in Stalenhag's book, is a technological one, in which the research done at the Loop facility enabled human beings to do a lot of things we currently cannot do, but which can be understood as reasonably logical extensions of current technology. The artifacts that litter the landscape are relics from past experiments. Most are inert. Some still work, but do reasonably logical things.

In the TV series, this is not so. I can't explain it without spoilers, I'm sorry to say, but things happen in the story which are either driven or resolved by "freakin' magic", stuff which is impossible to one exent or another.

Still--this is a really good series. Stalenhag himself is listed as an "executive producer" and he was heavily involved with the series, and everything has the right look and feel to the extent that I figure it can't be too far off the mark even with "freakin' magic".

Looking forward to seeing the rest of it, that's for sure, and I'm sad there are only eight eps. Hopefully there'll be a second season, at least.

#7091: Why does it have to be them?

Someone, somewhere, in the past month, made a simple point--simple enough to be expressed in one sentence--and so far I have not found any worthy rebuttal for it.

"Someone," he said, "will own the planes."

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that every last airline in the United States was allowed to go bankrupt and had to cease all business. We stipulate that it would be a messy affair, bad for the economy, and would wildly inconvenience tens of thousands of people who need to get from A to B.

Think about what would happen, in that case.

There would be billions of dollars' worth of airplanes available for purchase, probably at bargain prices. You see, if the airlines go bankrupt, their equipment doesn't cease to exist. The infrastructure required to use and service them doesn't disappear. The people who know how to operate and repair them would not evaporate into dust.

Someone would buy those airplanes and hire those people and start up a new airline. There'd be enough for several "someones" to do this. The new corporations might not be named United or Delta or Southwest or who-the-hell-ever, but they would consist of people who knew how to run airlines who formerly worked for those airlines.

We'd end up with just as many planes flying as before, probably more efficiently and with better service to boot. This is what bad economic times do.

* * *

So far this seems to be the rule, rather than the exception, at least as far as I've seen. In fact I've seen a lot less of the police than I normally do, and have not (since the beginning of this nonsense) been worried about being stopped merely for not being at home.

At least where I live, "shelter in place" is, at this point, largely "advisory", exactly as it should be in a free country when we're faced with this level of threat. I don't have a letter identifying me as "essential personnel" because I need it in order to be allowed to go to work. It's a security blanket for me and for my employers. I don't have to be afraid of being stopped going to or from work and being told to go home and stay there, and neither do my employers. But I never expect to need it.

Is there a situation where "papers, please" may be warranted? I think so, but we are nowhere near that level of severity yet. NYC, maybe, but not here.

If the disease were 40% fatal and as easily transmitted as it is, maybe then. But not for this one.

* * *

25% of the COVID-19 dead in NYC lived in nursing homes. At least thus far.

The susceptibility of the elderly to this disease really is skewing the statistics in places where there are a lot of elderly people. Italy comes to mind.

Remember, back when the number of deaths from the thing in the US was around forty-ish, twenty-six of those deaths had been elderly people who lived in the very same nursing home.

The demographics are changing a bit now as more people become infected, but they are not changing very much. A person gets too far over sixty and he's a lot more likely to die of it than someone under forty is.

* * *

People are trying to predict how this thing will change our society and I've got a fiver that says "Not even remotely."

The people who like going out to nightclubs and partying on the weekend are not going to suddenly discover that a quiet Saturday night spent at home is so much more fun than all that noise and crowding and bustle. They're not wired that way. So when the restrictions are lifted, a lot of those places will roar right back to solvency and be just as crowded and noisy as they were before all this.

"Hi, I'm Jake. I'm an inner-city 20-something and I used to hit the bars on Saturday night and party 'til the break of dawn Sunday. Then the coronavirus came and I had to stay home, and after a few weeks of this, I took up stamp collecting. No more booze and partying and loose women for me, no sir! I'm going to spend my Saturdays looking at stamps!"


This guy's list, I'd say #1 and #3 are possible and even probable, but the other three? No.

* * *

Kurt Schlichter lays out why we don't trust the media.
The same people who are always telling us how smart they are and how they are morally entitled to instruct us peasants have never designed anything, engineered anything, built anything, trucked anything or assembled anything, except maybe some crappy Ikea bookcase. But they are qualified to insist that--POOF!--a bunch of N95 masks should magically appear overnight. I guess everything is easy if you don't have to do it yourself.
Capitalism engenders a great deal of flexibility and efficiency in business, to the extent that we now have an online order service which can deliver to you a huge array of products within 48 hours. People who don't really understand economics think that the stuff they buy magically appears in the stores, and don't understand that it has to be made and shipped and stocked before they can buy it; and furthermore the people who make the stuff are not making it by waving magic wands around.

You cannot take an assembly line designed to make dishwashers or vacuum cleaners and convert it to make ventilators overnight. You can do it very quickly, especially in an emergency when money is no object, but "overnight" is still impossible; the time from saying "go" to the time that production units start rolling off the assembly line will be measured in weeks rather than hours.

Normal conditions, six months. And that's even pushing it. And the more different your assembly line is from what you want to make now, the longer it takes. You can't use an assembly line for building cars and turn it into an assembly line for making N95 masks without ripping out a huge amount of machinery and completely replacing it. (And why would you?)

But it is very, very easy to point a finger and criticize, and ask why there aren't "enough" ventilators available. Especially when it's a politician you hate and are extremely incurious about the actual answer to the question.
Apparently, the media class thinks there are giant warehouses with an endless supply of goods just sitting there, somewhere, waiting. They have no idea about how logistics work, how goods flow quickly from producer to market and how expected resupply levels need a few days to adjust from a 10 percent daily turnover to a 30 percent daily turnover. They have zero appreciation for inventory management because no one they know does unglamorous stuff like that.
When I worked at Target, an average night's work was in the range of about 1,500 boxes of freight from the distibution center. That's a decent load for a semi, but not a full one.

During Christmas season, though? Two, three, and even four (sometimes) fully-loaded trailers per night, averaging maybe 1,800 to 2,000 cartons each. While I worked there, 4-truck nights were rare, but 3-truck nights were pretty common between Thanksgiving and Christmas. If it had been a "SuperTarget" rather than a "Greatland" store, though, I'd bet 4-truck nights would have been more common.

And the Christmas season is something the supply chain readies itself for, months in advance. I can remember stowing Christmas stock in October.

...so when you have a situation like this where suddenly people hit the stores and buy two-three-four weeks' worth of supplies? It's a huge and major increase in demand with no concomitant increase in the rate of delivery. Our entire consumer supply chain is based on "just in time", people buying what they need for the next week and the stores having stock on hand to handle that level of demand, with steady resupply.

The shelves are empty because people are buying products faster than the supply chain can refill the shelves. And the bare shelves make people panic, so when they see stuff on formerly-bare shelves they overbuy (if permitted) and exacerbate the situation.

The mandated rest and sleep rules for truckers have been relaxed because we desperately need the trucks to move. I'd wager that truck drivers are raking in the dough hand over fist right now, being able to work as much as they want rather than having to abide by federally-mandated "one size fits all" rules which keep them from driving, even when they're capable of doing so.

There was a shortage of truck drivers even before all this.

The media and the "chattering class" are not going to solve this thing.

* * *

As if we needed any reminders that labor unions are fucking evil. Labor unions are products of socialist thinking, and socialism is merely "communism lite", and communism is evil. QED.

* * *

His crew cheered him as he left the ship for the last time. I maintain that Captain Crozier knew what he was doing when he wrote that letter, and expected this would happen to him, and that he would be fired for the sin of making his bosses look bad. But sometimes the bosses don't just look bad and that badness needs exposure.

* * *

I'm really not surprised to learn that Bloomberg is pretty much a piece of shit. He strikes me as a piece of shit. He's a shitty little man.

* * *

Maybe not a bioweapon, but the result of an accidental release from the Wuhan infectious disease laboratory nonetheless. "Huang Yanling, a graduate student at the virology lab," may just have been "patient zero" in the COVID-19 outbreak.

...and of course she has been "disappeared". The commies claim she's not dead but are unable--for some reason--and/or unwilling to present her. "She's totally alive, trust us! No, you can't see her, we don't know where she is." Odd, isn't it, coming from a regime that prides itself on total control of its populace? What, has she somehow evaded enrolment in the "social capital" database?

I do believe we need to seriously re-examine our relationship with China.

* * *

As for me, I gave up all plans for today and turned into a limp dishrag.

Went to bed at 2 after proofreading yesterday's output on AV (which turned out to be six pages!). Surprisingly, I didn't wake up coughing, for the first time since...? But woke around 8 AM thanks to Maki being a pest. Had a PBJ and wrote the prior post, then returned to bed--only to get up at 11-ish for no real good reason except that I was craving a bowl of raisin bran. Up for a while, back to bed, napped a bit, up again; this time I ordered delivery pizza and started this post. And here we are!


The "no coughing" thing is a nice surprise. Every night for the past month I've woken up with a dry cough, sometimes bad enough that it made me retch. As previously noted I've had some kind of bronchitis since either the last Monday of Feb or the first one of Mar, and only in the past week has that started to go away. I've been popping 12-hour Mucinex pills twice a day for the past week, which I think is what has helped the most.

...and maybe it's COVID-19, somehow caught from the fresh shipment of computers I processed. They came in with stickers saying "Made in China" and giving their manufacture dates as the last week of February. But I doubt it. I really doubt it.

* * *

I still may go to Harbor Freight, but tomorrow rather than today. And I might just stay home all weekend and relax and rest and try to do as little as possible. Next week I will have to work, after all, and as low-key as this upper respiratory infection has been, it's still been a pretty fair drain on my energy levels, which are never all that great on weekends to begin with.

Oh well. Could be worse.


Could be raining!