WFH WTF, the Covid Files, Month 6: A New Station Revives the vision of MPH

It’s been several months since MPH aired with any regularity.

There’s a number of reasons for this if I’m being honest.

First, and foremost, I cannot stress enough the psychoemotional impact of having lost my father had on me. As many times as I’ve written about it I’ve still not come to terms with the impact. On myself. On this household. On my family. And, even among my friends.

Second, the stress of having everyone home for months on end, 24 hours a day each and every day with no escape. We took the shelter in place to heart. We avoided the inundation of those who didn’t to our favorite scenic abodes. And, we struggled mightily to come to terms with what a seeming unending proximity to one another meant. It was tough being a father, a caretaker, a teacher, a breadwinner and my own person when there was not a moment to contemplate the meaning of each – forget about doing any of them well.

Third, as I’d mentioned before, I began to pivot away from the show in 2018 and the uninspired way in which I felt I’d began producing shows back then continued to the point where I felt it was forced for the sake of just producing something that resembled anything. I joked in that post that I only had three listeners left, but that wasn’t necessarily an untruth. Many of my friends and family had long stopped listening to the show at that point. For a number of other reasons, station listenership tailed off as did the DJ hosted shows. MPH became an “oasis” over weekends that eventually consisted mostly of pre-programmed playlists having lost three fellow shows on Sunday alone that contributed to ongoing listenership.

Further to all that, the station struggled through a crashed server, an attempted Proud Boy coup, another server incapacitation, and a massive upheaval in leadership which landed me, of all people, into an Operations Manager role that although I am qualified for honestly was more than I could handle considering where I am personally today. The rest of the revised “board” felt increasingly disengaged for their own personal reasons. As a result, the station lacks a defining goal and thus lacks direction and oversight necessary for it to get back to it’s glorious roots. Never mind having lost so much of it’s core listener base from years of issues and what now feels like a form of neglect for lack of a better term there just isn’t the support to tap off of.

My final show on KAOS, for now, was the Jersey centric #MetropolitianPeoplesHell in July. Prior to that, it was #MakinPopsHappy several weeks earlier in mid-June. And, it was several weeks earlier in May when I was attempting to realize a bunch of emotional insights through music in a quite haphazard way.

I’d decided as part of my birthday gift to myself I would reclaim my own spiritual creativity. I love the radio show

I missed falling down the rabbit hole of research trying to unearth all the important stuff related to the show theme in cultural ongoings and historical interpretations.

I missed looking up the different non-for-profits and learning about their unique missions and relevance.

I missed both discovering all the new music and rediscovering all the long archived gems that are repurposed as classics on the airwaves.

Ultimately, I missed combining the three concepts of music, philanthropy and history to fulfill my mission to make metal radio smart on a weekly basis.

I inquired about moving the show from Austin’s KAOS to bringing the show more “local” with Connecticut’s Cygnus a while back to no avail. The timing wasn’t right for anyone involved. However, this time, there was something to be had.

Cygnus has a unique background in supporting the underground that dates back to the early days of internet streaming not unlike KAOS. It was a natural draw. As was the fact that both stations are freeform, old school block programming. Something important to me because the show is more than just it’s sonically metal routes.

Thus, I made the transition. Not because I lost faith in KAOS, but because I found invigoration in the Cygnus family that included several shows I currently listen to on a regular basis and provided me with inspiration I was sorely lacking in becoming overwhelmed with the responsibility of KAOS. It was the step back that allowed me to take the step forward to get MPH back on the air.

Granted, it is only a single show old, but I am proud to call the revival show also my annual birthday show – one in which the barrier to entry is pretty low, all things considered.

As your take your musical jaunt, think about the themes embedded in the theme, such as the fact that there are themes inset to themes throughout. Look at set two and four for such a layering as just one example.

#MousePresentsHeavy is volume 1 of MPH: Music Philanthropy and History in the Mosh Pit Hell of Metal Punk and Hardcore on Cygus Radio, Old School Free Form Programming.  The annual birthday episode manipulates people’s heads Friday 18 September beginning 22:00 USEDT from the Isle of Misfit toys with the doormouse, dmf.

Tune in to #MousePresentsHeavy for a celebration of the music that continues to make me metal.  Nasty new numbers by Unleash the Archers, Sepultura, Vampire Squid, Gouge Away.  Classic cranial crushers by Iron Maiden, Dream Theater, Blood Has Been Shed, Jesus Piece, Locked in a Vacancy, Pangea, Obscura, Origin, All for Nothing, Anomie, Bloodlined Calligraphy, Walls of Jericho, Ithaca.  And, rippin requests for Opeth, Wrust, Death, Rolo Tomasi. Plus much more.

Learn about what inspires and influences the doormouse past and present as a percussionist, as a disc jockey, and as a music nerd and how it all ended up here on the show.  Plus find out how to give the next generation of musicians and music fans the support they need during the pandemic from the National Association for Music Education (nafme).

MPH is making poseurs hip on your fav socnet, so use @MPHnoise to follow along and bring you best moves for the Friday Night Mosh!

— here are my show notes:

Iron Maiden “Powerslave” Powerslave (cue :14) 

Unleash the Archers “Abyss” Abyss (2020) (cue :07) ***
Dream Theater “Pale Blue Dot” Distance Over Time (cue 1:07) !!!
Opeth “Deliverance” Deliverance 

Sepultura “Isolation” Quadra (2020) (cue :35) 
Blood Has Been Shed “And a Seraphim Cries” Novella of Uriel (long drop at ending)
Jesus Piece “Lucid” Only Self (watch intro)
Locked in a Vacancy “Mass Media Manipulation” It’s Always Darkest
Wurst “the Renegade” Soulless Machine 

vampire squid “Barracuda Triangle” Reinventing the Eel (2020) (watch ending) Pangea “a Gateway to Nothing” Vespr 
Obscura “the Anticosmos Overload” Cosmogenesis
Origin “Insurrection” Informis Infintas Inhumanitas 
Death “to Forgive” the Sound of Perseverance 

Gouge Away  “Consider” CWM EP (2020) (watch long outro)
All for Nothing “Minds Awake Hearts Alive” MAHA (drum intro, hard ending)
Anomie “Indifference = mort” Anomie (hard intro)
Bloodlined Calligraphy “Know When to Hold Em” They Want You Silent
Walls of Jericho “No One Can Save You From Yourself” NOCSY (hard ending)
Ithaca “the Language of Injury” TLOI (hit early)

Rolo Tomasi “Whispers Among Us” Time Will Die & Love Will Bury It (watch ending for queue into showclose

I want you to note that some of the sets group together in more than just the sonic sub-genre they encompass. Take a look again at the second set of thrashy, metalcore influenced groove and you’ll see a common theme of Black fronted bands overlayed to it, while as you settle into the old-school circle pits of metallic hardcore punk in that fourth set you’ll also notice a common theme of Female fronted bands. See, for me, it’s not just that I love diversity that incorporating metal core and hardcore punk into prog-metal in that opening set, or techdeath in the third, it’s that I also love the diversity of humans that perform the music and while the genres are typically stereotyped as being young, cishet dudes, I’m specifically pointing there’s more to the ethnicity and gender of heavy music not because I want to especially showcase them, but because within their respective subgenres they are, in fact, some of the best at what they do which is why they are included here. I sincerely challenge anyone to tell me any of the bands like BHBS, Wrust, WOJ and Anomie aren’t essential contributors to their genres. Further to that, the show is about what “I” most listen to and enjoy and the music that is currently influencing me as an individual (fan of music, dj, performer, etc) and these are, in fact, some of the most important bands in my current rotation, which, it also just so happens that they are Black and Female fronted, which says a lot to the quality of what these bands have produced, because my digital music catalog is a terabyte deep and I have a low tolerance for garbage.

–what I ate–

I made popcorn on the stovetop. Completely old school with bagged, dried sweet corn kernels heated on an open natural gas flame in a frying pan with a hand held top.

I do this a lot by feel at this point, honestly.

The Analon 8″ French copper core, steel skillet holds about a serving of popcorn on its flat bottom. To that I add about an 1/16 stick pad of salted butter and a couple of table spoons of extra virgin olive oil along with whatever salt is in the handmill grinder and then toss to coat the kernels, the pan and the lid with the lipid combination over very low heat (to ensure the butter melts and combines with the oil).

I crank the heat to about 50% of what my stovetop BTU is, so it might be different for you. Typically takes about 5 minutes to get the pan up to temp where the first kernels begin to pop. I use a glove or small towel to help hold the lid down over the pan and give it a good shimmy or two to ensure the kernels get initial movement and then allow it to sit another minute for the popping to begin with vigor. From there I give it a quick shift/shake over the burner about every 20-30 seconds or so while there’s consistent popping which occurs over the next few minutes in order for the popper corn not to burn against the heat of the pan. As the popping cedes I increase the movement and create almost a tossing type of approach while holding the lid on, in order to ensure any unpopped kernels get a last chance of making it to the heat at the bottom.

I leave the pan off the heat on the stovetop for another minute once the popping rhythm ceases and i’ve done the final tosses before transferring the popcorn to a bowl. At that stage I do like to process some additional seasoning. Personally, I like Old Bay tossed on mine for that savory bite, but the family has taken a liking to PB2 Dried Powdered Peanut Butter which reminds me of my dad’s air popper when he’d drizzle Skippy and butter over it before serving, and I’ve not been unknown to also throw a little super fine brown sugar along with added finely fresh ground salt to give a kettle corn kind of sweet dusting to it.

Posted in Edible & Digestable, Entertainment, music, Opinion, Padawan Music Chronicles, parenting, personal musings, politics, radio show, the Covid Files, Today I Ate, WFHWTF | Leave a comment

WFH WTF, the Covid Files, Month 6: 19 Years

If I have to look at one more #NeverForget on social media today I’m going to scream.

I was there. I’m never going to forget the sights, the sounds and the smells of that day. Or the day after. Or the day after that. Or the week after that. Or month after that. Or year after that.

It affected every aspect of being from that day forward: Daily routines changed; Perspectives on life changed.

It is a burden I will carry for the rest of my life. And, I was what I would consider one of the fortunate ones witnessing it.

The 2,977 dead that day were all too real. The thousands more who lost their lives due to the subsequent physical or psychological toll of the attacks are all too real. The military members and innocent civilians who lost their life in the U.S. response to the attacks are all too real. The hundreds of thousands, likely millions, who are struggling still with the direct affects of all of this.

So, please, remind me what am I not supposed to forget?

The broad, authoritarian legacy of 115 Stat 2135 PL USA Patriot Act, or the even broader authoritarian legacy of 116 Stat 2135 PL 107-296 Homeland Security Act (HSA), or finally 118 Stat 3638 PL 108-458 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA)?

The misrepresentation of selective sovereignty resulting in Operation: Enduring Freedom and the Afghanistan War as well as the misrepresentation regarding weapons of mass destruction resulting in 118 Stat 3638 PL 107-243 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Operation: Iraqi Freedom) which have resulted in the two longest and most expensive military operations in U.S. history ?

The spike in hate crimes against US Citizens who were not “white” as a form of vigilante justice by US Citizens, which includes, according to FBI crime statistics a 1824% increase year over year in anti-Muslim crime, a tripling xenophobic crimes against Sekhs, a doubling of crimes against non-Islamic Middle Easterners (including Christians and Jews), and a 20% increase in hate crimes overall?

The expansive xenophobic and unconstitutional surveillance by Law Enforcement against Muslims and non-Islamic Middle Easteners, for example by New York City Police Department’s Intelligence Division (NYPDID) including the use of so-called “Mosque Crawlers” and “Rakers;” the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC)’s Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB) and related Transportation Security Authority (TSA) screening and profiling controversies; the F.B.I. COINTELPRO controversies; and others documented in the ACLU’s Racial Profiling Report, the New York Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and other independent reports on the subject?

The anti-European xenophobia, especially targeted at the French (who refused to initially participate in US led military action in the Middle East), resulting in petty nationalism around the renaming of French Fries to Freedom Fries and boycotting of French imports like wine and cheese, as well as more concerning increases in Francophobic acts on people and businesses?

The partisanship displayed over 49 USC 40101 the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act (ATSSSA) and September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) and subsequent James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, particularly on behalf of Republican’s refusal to continuously re-fund the act(s) and GOP attempts to block permanent funding solutions? Or, maybe the heartbreaking revelation that the Trump Administration after signing the 2019 funding bill has siphoned more than 4M$ away from compensation to First Responders?

The ongoing partisanship displayed over Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) funding for restoration and improvement of infrastructure requested by the States of New York and New Jersey, (as well as that of the joint venture commonly known as the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey), resulting in Republicans in congress blocking funding bills, as well as
grants by the agencies consistently being under-rewarded or subsequently under-funded at the behest of Republic opposition in Congress, while at the same time providing mid-west states such as Iowa and South Dakota higher per-capita grants for programs that were not even deemed “necessary” in original security infrastructure analysis reports, all of which resulted in the delay of rebuilding and an increased local tax burden to New York and New Jersey residents directly impacted by the terrorist attacks?

The dog-whistle rhetoric used by conservatives in an attempt to define “Real Americans” as any non-East Coast Elites for the 364 other days of the year only to see them hypocritically drag up their flag-waiving patriotism this one day a year claiming solidarity with New York, New Jersey and D.C. before reverting back to their disdain of the region and their fellow citizens who live here; as well as the fact that there’s a subset of tourists who come to the hollowed ground of the towers clad in gaudy Stars and Strips garb and faux-military gear to gawk at the memorial as if it was a roadside attraction like the biggest ball of string rather than pay respect to the fallen of that day?

The cottage industry of conspiracy theorists who have turned the tragedy into a series of anti-government, anti-Semitic, and anti-Islamic misinformation campaigns that has included prominent support by right wing talking heads like Alex Jones of Info Wars and Thierry Meyssan, conservative PhD and former Military educator Alan Sabrosky, former Democrat-turned-Green Party representative Cynthia Ann McKinney, Republican representative Steven King, Trumpublican nominee Marjorie Taylor Greene, Reform-turned-Green Party former Governor Jesse Ventura, former Republican candidate John Howard Buchanan, conservative theologian David Ray Griffin, the members of the conservative-led Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, Inc. (AE911Truth), and most recently as part of the right wing Q-Anon movement which have helped mainstream the notion of 911 Truthers to the point where one BBC survey found that one in seven Americans thinks that 9/11 was a staged act or that other surveys have found one in ten believe it was a false flag hoax?

This is all what I have not forgotten.

Yes, some of the best aspects of what the United States was meant to embody came to the surface. It was where the New York Tough and Jersey Strong gained national prominence. It gave us moments of pure, unvarnished humanity in the face of tragedy.

However, it also grew into one of the great American myths.

And, we should not forget that among the losses that day were some of what we should value the most as Americans.

We lost our national innocence and could no longer harbor the notion that we were an unassailable, untouchable force in the world. Thus, we gained a new national identity in the post-911 world in which our naïvety, or arrogance, was stripped from us. The “war,” as it were, was brought right to our doorsteps in a way that no previous attack on the sovereignty of the United States had since perhaps the British refusal to recognize it was finally relinquished with the the Treaty of Ghent in 1814.

We lost, further, many of our individual freedoms and liberties. We traded them for what was perceived as safety and security from this new threat that landed on our doorsteps. And, while we didn’t get any safer, it created an entirely new set of problems with domestic surveillance, militarized policing and economic stress.

We lost, further, the notion that all are Equal in the way the U.S. reacted both socially and legally to some of our fellow Citizens, undermining the religious clauses of the First Amendment in our treatment of Muslims and building a writing a new xenophobic chapter in our growing book of racism in how we treated Middle Eastern-Americans.

We lost our role as a post-War global leader by embarking on a series of ill-conceived military campaigns throughout the Middle East independent from and against the cautions of our own allies as well as the United Nations that resulted in massive destabilization of the region while causing greater extremism to flourish instead of stamping out terrorism as originally construed.

We lost our financial stability by putting ourselves in trillions of dollars of debt to finance the expansive and never-ending War on Terrorism. The growth of the military, and of domestic police forces attempts at local counter-terrorism, at the expense of necessary programs State-side, including desperately needed infrastructure improvements, social safety nets, education and more.

We lost whatever political unity was perceived in the brief time immediately following the attacks. It was replaced by a new level of political partisanship that came, in part, as a direct result of reactions to the Bush Administration’s behavior and influenced the political divide on both sides including the Progressive and Democratic-Socialist movements on the left and the Truther, Tea Party, Alt-Right and most recently Q-Anon movements on the right.

While we mourn the dead we should not overlook the impact that went far beyond the meaning of those individuals that day.

The world cried out with us at each of those who’s lives were cut short in the moment of those attacks. But, far too few of us remembered to continue to mourn for everyone else affected in the aftermath. And, far fewer still, continue to acknowledge that while it should be a solemn occasion we should not whitewash it’s history in the same was we’ve come to whitewash Chattel Slavery, or the Native American Holocaust, or the Industrial Revolution, or even the “success” WWII as a few examples often portrayed as part of the American Heritage with a sheen of perfection while underplaying the devastation inherent to them.

The best honor we can provide to those lost and all of those affected by their proximity to the terror of 9-11 is to treat the history with humility and respect instead of mythifying it into something it never was.

For me, personally, today is always a difficult day. It’s filled with a range of emotions I can hardly put into words and even if I could are difficult for many to contextualize. There’s a small group of people I know who witnessed it and went through it and can understand the emotions attached to having experienced it in that way. For many in that time in my life we’ve gone much our separate ways, embarking on new careers, evolving our families, finding new homes and continuing our lives. But, if anyone reaches out to anyone else the connection is still there, a permanent bond, or perhaps a scar we all share.

Experiencing it molded my world view in a great many ways and 19 years later I still find myself both taxed from and challenged by the memories of it and the days, weeks and months that followed.

I hoped then I would never experience anything like that again and to be honest I’m fearful now that while the circumstances are different the same kind of dread will keep overcoming me with the Covid pandemic. But, that’s for another post…

For now, the platitudes of not forgetting ring all too hollow considering how little some of those pandering to their “followers” with the hashtag actually remember of it. Perhaps, we all should remember not to forget the tragedy in it’s entirety and use it to grow as individuals and as a society — to take the lessons to heart and apply them to make ourselves and people and the United States as our home a better place. The best way to pay homage isn’t to remember not to forget for a couple of hours once a year, but to actually become the nation of people we have crafted our fable around – a nation unified in helping one another. Let’s turn the folklore of 911 into a reality instead of allowing it to become another Honest Abe and the Cherry Tree.

— What I’m listening to —

It was honestly mostly quiet today. Took a while before the tunes went on and this is what ended up being in the mix

Agnostic Front – Riot Riot Upstart & the American Dream Died
Biohazard – Urban Discipline & State of the World Address
Sick of it All – Built to Last, Call to Arms & Life on the Ropes
Life of Agony – River Runs Red
H2O – FTTW & Thicker than Water
Leeway – Adult Crash & Open Mouth Kiss
and pre-Jon Bush Anthrax

Posted in business commentary, Edible & Digestable, Entertainment, music, Opinion, parenting, personal musings, politics, the Covid Files, Today I Ate, WFHWTF | Leave a comment

WFH WTF, the Covid Files, Month 6: Help Celebrate My Birthday by supporting Police Reform


If you really want to help make this birthday special you’ll stand up against institutionalized racism in the justice system and hold police, prosecutors and other government officials responsible for their actions.

The best birthday gift I can get is to know that your using your First Amendment Right to Petition the Government for a Redress of Grievances by demanding Justice Reform such that the Forth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and so are are upheld fairly among all who are part of the United States.

It would be an amazing gift beyond anything you could make or purchase for me to know you have written your town’s Major and Board; your state’s Governor and Congress; your Federal Congressional Representation; your local police chief, your State Police chief, the FOP and PBA; the DOJ; your local prosecutors office, the State Prosecutors office, and the editorial boards of your local media and told them that you unequivocally demand Police Reform and improvements to the Justice System overall.

What type of reform would I encourage you to advocate for? Here’s a few examples which in my years of advocacy I have come to believe are important steps forward:

End Jurisdictional Budgeting Dependence & Related Revenue Collection Based on Police and Court Activities

Negotiate Citizen & Taxpayer Friendly Police Contracts for all upcoming contract negotiations. Police need to be held to a standard of serving and protecting their communities, not holding them hostage as most current contract provide.

Repeal LOEBOR & End the Police Officer Bill of Rights Movement

Require Police know the law & Repeal the effects of decisions such as Heien v. S.C. Whren, Brinegar, Herring, and others such that Police are held to the same or a higher standard as the General Public rather than the lower one they are granted now.

Require Police to Serve and Protect & Repeal the effects of decisions such as Warren v. District of Columbia, DeShaney, Castle Rock and others
Cap Police Spending and Reallocate funds to Social Programs that support the community rather than incarcerating it.

End Unlimited Qualified Immunity Protections: U.S.H.R. 7120; U.S.H.R. 7085; N.Y.S.B. 8618

Create Automatic Special Investigations for all Officer induced Injury, Death and Misconduct: N.Y.S.B. 2574B; N.Y.S.B. 3595B

Create Advanced Reporting on Policing & Allow Transparency of Policing Statistics: N.Y.S.B 1830C

Allow Independent, Community-led Oversight of Police and end Police self-Policing and Prosecutorial Conflicts of Interest

Require Unadulterated Video Documentation of all Police Encounters and allow 3rd Party Documentation to be uninhibited: N.Y.S.B 8493; N.Y.S.B. 3253B

End No Knock Warrants & Update Search and Seizure Laws: Federal Bill Nos Pending but N.Y.S.B. 4354 which passed a few years back provides an example

Demilitarize the Police: Fed Bills were recently tabled, but New Jersey SB 2364 and SB 2365 passed a few years back provide examples


Demand more of your representatives, of your prosecutors, and of your police forces than what they are currently providing.

Demand equality between so-called blue-collar and white-collar crimes.

Demand equality between marginalized groups treatment and that of the greater society.

Demand changes in laws and regulation that will effectively reduce a dependence on incarceration, fines and fees and focus time, finances and resources to improve the community at-large and address underlying needs so that Cops don’t have to be depended on for stuff they are not capable of effectively providing.

If you are against Police Reform than you must be pro-crime because the police are not very good at their jobs by some of the most basic standards. IF we expect police to enforce the law and solve crimes they need to be significantly better at both OR they should give that up as one of the roles Police Departments have.

For example:

45.6 percent of violent crimes and 17.6 percent of property crimes were cleared by arrest or exceptional means according to the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program in 2018. While violent crimes typically capture the headlines, more than two-thirds of all crime is property related. Among violent crimes, some.of the highest report rates also have the lowest solve rates, specifically, only 34.5 percent of rape offenses, and 29.7 percent of robbery offenses were cleared. Meanwhile a paltry 13.5 percent of burglary offenses are cleared despite it being among the most documented property related offenses.

Simply clearing a case through Arrest, Charge with the commission of the offense and turned over to the court for prosecution is not good enough. It must be the correct offender. 2018, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that among defendants charged with a felony, only 68 percent were convicted, with around 88 percent coming in the form of plea deals. Of those convicted either by jury or plea wrongful prosecution results in between 2-5 percent of guilty verdicts being incorrect according to National Registry of Exonerations, the Innocence Project and other groups and the exoneration rate among those found guilty continues to increase. Some of the highest rates of innocence are found among violent crimes such as 11% for miscarriage of justice in for rape convictions and 8% for murder with DNA evidence clearing the accused in more than two-thirds of the cases.

To put this into perspective if 100 rapes were reported, only about 35 of them would actually result in charges, about 24 of them would actually be found guilty but only 21 of them actually were guilty. One-fifth of rapes are solved correctly in this instance. Under nearly any other circumstance a 20 percent success rate would be considered abject failure. And, yet, we allow the Justice System, led specifically by the police who pride themselves in the apprehension of suspects and collection of evidence, to continue to fail miserably at their jobs.

And, this doesn’t even get into charges level against Police for abuse of power while performing these apprehension and evidence collection duties.

According to the BJS Citizen Complaints Against Police Use of Force report there are 9.5 complaints per 100 full-time sworn officers with at least one of the complaints being for excessive use of force causing bodily harm or death. Nearly 10% of the complaints levied were sustained, meaning there was sufficient evidence of the allegation to justify disciplinary action against the subject officer(s). However, it is noteworthy that the sustained rate rises, in some instances up to 22% of total complaints, when Police incidents are investigated by Community Boards, Independent Review Boards, Inspector Generals and other means while the sustained rate is severely depressed by investigations by Internal Affairs where police are policing the police which is currently how the majority that are tracked are processed. According to research by the Invisible Institute and USA Today, 12.37% of the nearly 687,000 full time law enforcement officers in the United States have had charges of misconduct levied against. Those 85,000 officers were involved in over 200,000 incidents, or an average of 2.4 incidents per officer. The Cato Institute found similar rates in it’s reports on use of Qualified Immunity to shield officers from abuse complaints. Noteworthy with all these statistics is that these are only the instances of reports against officers that are publicly known.

However, only about 10% of the 17,000 law enforcement agencies track misconduct reports, using a multitude of different reporting methodologies and not all reporting details are publicly available for independent review. Department of Justice reporting has long been considered voluntary and only about 5% of agencies submit data.

Allowing this level of incompetence to continue is uncalled for. And, making excuses for the Justice System’s inability to do the job in which it is being tasked makes you an authoritarian bootlicker, not a supporter of the role of the Police in civilized society.

All of the suggestions I presented above would not only protect the General Public but would benefit the Police as well. Cops embracing the status quo don’t want to do their jobs better – they want the unmitigated power and the current structure affords them. Backing the Blue blindly makes you a bootlicker of authoritarianism and a supporter of Crime and NOT actually someone that has respect for the Police and the job they have to do. I’ll say it again, the Thin Blue Line supporters and Blue Lives Matter movement is about maintaining police incompetence and supporting both crime on the streets and the crimes of the police. Those who truly respect the police would be advocating for change in the realization that things can always improve and be made better.

Rather, the Back the Blue, the Thin Blue Line and Blue Lives Matter supporters are xenophobic, racist, bigots. They didn’t exist until movements like VCCLA and later Black Lives Matter and most recently Defund the Police came into being as marginalized groups that were most direly affected by poor policing spoke out for change.

The issue is Police in the U.S. are, in fact, xenophobic, racist, bigots themselves. Back in 2006 the FBI released the bulletin “White Supremist Infultration of Law Enforcement,” in which they meticulously document (albeit some of it released heavily redacted to the public) white nationalists and skinheads infiltrating police in order to sway law enforcement agenda and reduce investigations into right-wing violence. Several neo-Nazi and KKK-inspired White Supremist groups were identified throughout departments nationally as well as identifying the role of so-called lone-wolf individuals in manipulating policing over the course of nearly the decade previous. Although the report was initially considered a bombshell little was actually done by anyone within law enforcement. Police Unions worked tirelessly to bury the findings instead of addressing them head on. Mayors and Police Chiefs attempted to downplay the significance in order to ally fears in their cities while making no real effort to confront the problem. And, neither the FBI or DOJ has worked toward providing vetting or guidance in dealing with the problem.

Less than five years after the FBI report the Department of Homeland Security issued a report on right-wing extremism and its relationship to violent radicalization in the United States in 2009 which makes mention of the impact on policing including right-wing leaning individuals participation in law enforcement and these officers are providing sympathetic outcomes to suspected members of right wing hate groups.

Less than ten years after the DHS report, the FBI Counterterrorism Policy Guide in 2015 again makes mention of the issue of white supremists and domestic right-wing extremists in Law Enforcement.

And, less than five years after the FBI report, DHS returned in 2019 with the Strategic Framework for Countering Terrorism and Targeted Violence which again makes extensive mention of right wing militia as well traditional right wing hate groups both exerting leverage over police forces through intimidation tactics as well as active participation in law enforcement in order to both influence policy and protect these groups from prosecution.

While headlines are often anecdotal and alarmist, throughout this time there were a number of high profile examples of right-wing extremists in uniform being outed: 2009 Stewart Rhodes of the right wing extremist “militia” Oath Keepers bragged that “thousands of retired and active law enforcement officers” sparking a series of investigations. 2013 an Alabama officer participating in the League of the South. 2014 Florida Deputy Sheriff and several officers were relieved of duty for being active with the KKK. 2015 several North Carolina offers were removed after attending a KKK rally, while San Fransisco relieved 17 officers for sending racist messages to one another. 2016 a Philadelphia officer was removed for a Neo-Nazi tattoo. And as recently as earlier in 2020 NYC investigated dozens of officers for giving white power and neo-nazi salutes in public of which the outcomes are still pending.

More broadly though, Plain View Project investigated postings of over 2,900 current and former law enforcement officers on Facebook and in a 2019 report found that one-in-five officers posts contained xenophobic or misognyst content. One of the most noteworthy offenders was the Philadelphia police department, in which 327 officers, including 64 in leadership positions, produced over 1,200 posts with racist content. Similarly, in another 2019 report the Center for Investigative Reporting parsed Facebook Groups and identified hundreds of officers actively participating in Confederate-sympathizing, anti-Islam, or anti-government militia groups on the site. The Citizen’s Police Data Project in 2018 identified hundreds of incidents in Chicago of accusations against officers for using racial and xenophobic slurs but only 7% of the complaints resulted in any type of discipline. While ProPublica in a 2018 report documented several cases of law enforcement not only not being punished for racist actions in the line of duty but in many cases being promoted within a short time after their actions occurred, seemingly as a reward for their bigotry. More recently Radly Balko of the Washington Post provided an excellent analysis of right wing extremism and racial bigotry in US Policing titled, “There’s overwhelming evidence
that the criminal justice system is racist. Here’s the proof.”

The 2013 Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) survey demonstrated that Police in the United States are overwhelmingly White and specifically overwhelming White Men, far exceeding the national demographics of white men in the general population. Departments that are not demographically reflective of the places they patrol are more likely to have incidents of racially motivated policing and this is especially noteworthy in both historically the 20 largest urban/city departments in the US, including NYC and LA, and in many of the smaller departments where police brutality has risen to national headlines. This is not to say that being a white man is inherently racist, however, when taking the two pieces of demographic information and overlaying them with instances of police brutality there’s a definite correlation. While correlation is not necessarily causation, white men are in a legalized position of power over marginalized groups even when those groups represent a demographic majority in a given area and therefor provides an immediate inequality in how policing is perceived by both the police and the community.

While there’s a notion that these officers are lone wolves acting out of their own volition the reality is there’s a systemic issue at play with how police are recruited, evaluated during the training process, and allowed to behave once on the job that perpetuates the departmental roots of US policing to that of Slave Patrols during the nation’s founding. It is, in fact, more than just a “few bad apples” participating in racist and extremist organizations or bringing their personal racism and xenophobia to law enforcement. These beliefs are embedded within departmental structures themselves and have been for decades.

Thus, the massive Civil Unrest happening today is, at its root, a retaliation against decades of poor policing, poor political follow-through on reform and a poor understanding of the public at how awful modern law enforcement really is.

If you want an end to Civil Unrest — FIX THE FUCKING POLICE — they are the initiating cause of all of the following examples of Civil Unrest since I began following the police reform movements back in the 90s

IF Police had genuinely accepted reform proposals and Politicians created legislation that addressed systemic injustices back then we would likely not be experiencing the same type of pushback today. But Cops, Politicians and Society at Large didn’t learn the lessons from (to name a few):

1985 – Philadelphia (MOVE Bombing by PPD)
1987 – Tampa (Melvin Hair)
1989 – Miami (Clement Lloyd)
1991 – L.A. (Rodney King)
1992 – L.A. (Rodney King, police acquittal)
1994 – NYC (Anthony Baez )
1996 – St. Petersburg FL (Tyron Lewis)
1999 – NYC (Amadou Diallo )
2000 – Philadelphia (Thomas Jones)
2001 – Over-the-Rhine/Cincinnati (Timothy Thomas)
2003 – Benton Harbor (Terrance Shurn)
2005 – New Orleans (Danziger Bridge Massacre by NOPD)
2006 – NYC (Sean Bell)
2006 – West Fork AK (Joseph Erin Hamley)
2006 – Atlanta (Kathryn Johnston)
2010 – Oakland (Oscar Grant)
2011/12 – St. Louis (Anthony Lamar Smith)
2012 – Anaheim (Manuel Diaz, Joel Acevedo)
2013 – Flatbush NY (Kimani Gray)
2013 – Springfield VA (John Geer)
2014 – Ferguson (Michael Brown)
2014 – St. Louis (Vonderrit Myers Jr.)
2014 – Cleveland (Tamir Rice)
2014 – NYC (Eric Garner, Akai Gurley)
2014 – Berkley MO (Antonio Martin)
2014 – Baltimore (Michael Johansen)
2015 – Baltimore (Freddie Gray)
2015 – St. Louis (Mansur Ball-Bey)
2016 – Baton Rouge (Alton Sterling)
2016 – St. Paul (Philando Castile)
2016 – Milwaukee (Sylville Smith)
2016 – Charlotte (Keith Lamont Scott)
2017 – Anaheim (unidentified 13-year-old)
2017 – St. Louis (Anthony Lamar Smith, police acquittal)
2019 – Memphis (Brandon Webber)

And, it’s not like this was just a bunch of miscarriages of justice by the Police Department overstepping their bounds where locals protested. Many of these events went well beyond the cities that they were in and carried over into pop culture.

To pretend it wasn’t happening is a gross misunderstanding of the world around you. Pop culture and the underground scenee have both been shouting this refrane for decades and chances are you’ve sung along with some of these lyrics or know some of the band’s other works well enough that the message should be familiar — after all, as any punk kid knows Joe Strummer has been preparing you your whole life for this moment:

1977 – the Clash “Police & Thieves” the Clash (Murvin / Perry cover)
1979 – the Clash “Guns of Brixton” London Calling
1980 – Dead Kennedys “Police Truck” Holiday in Cambodia
the Clash “Police on my Back” Sandinista!
the Dicks “Hate the Police”
Oi Polloi “Pigs for Slaughter”
1981 – Black Flag “Police Story” Damaged
Rick James “Mr. Policeman” Street Songs
the Violators “Summer of ’81”
1982 – MDC the entire Millions of Dead Cops LP (and the rest of their catalog in general)
Urban Waste “Police Brutality” Urban Waste
Bruce Springsteen “Highway Patrolman,” “State Trooper,” “Johnny 99” Nebraska
the Clash “Know Your Rights” Combat Rock
Discharge “State Violence” Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing
1983 – Raw Power “Police Police” You Are the Victim
Suicidial Tendencies “Facist Pig” ST
1986 – Sepultura “Anticop” Morbid Visions
1987 – Final Conflict “Abolish Police” Ashes to Ashes
Operation Ivy “Officer” Maximum Rockandroll
1988 – N.W.A. “Fuck tha Police” Straight Outta Compton
Metallica “And Justice For All” AJFA
Living Colour “Funny Vibe,” “Which Way to America?” and others from Vivid
1989 – Public Enemy “Fight the Power” Single
1990 – Living Colour “Pride,” “New Jack Theme” and others from Times Up
the Exploited “Police Shit” the Massacre
Sinead O’Connor “Boys on Black Mopeds” I Don’t Want What I Haven’t Got
N.W.A. “100 Miles and Runnin” 100 Miles and Runnin
L.L. Cool J “Illegal Search” Mama Said Knock You Out
Ice Cube feat. Chuck D “Endangered Species” Amerikkkas Most Wanted
1991 – Public Enemy “911 is a Joke” Fear of a Black Planet
Main Source “Just a Friendly Game” Boys in the Hood
Tupac “Trapped” 2Pacolypse Now
N.W.A.” Appetite for Destruction” Niggaz4life
Cyprus Hill “Pigs” CH
Sepultura “Criminals in Uniform” Arise
1992 – Rage Against the Machine “Killing in the Name,” “Know Your Enemy,” and others from RATM
Body Count “Cop Killer” BC1
Biohazard “Chamber Spins Three” Urban Discipline
D.O.A. “Royal Police” the Dawning of a New Error
Dr. Dre with Snoop, Daz Dillinger & RBX “The Day the Niggaz Took Over” the Chronic
Ice Cube “Who Got the Camera?” the Predator
the Offspring “LAPD” Ignition
1993 – Sepultura “Policia,” “Refuse/Resist” and others from Chaos AD
Slayer with Ice T “War/Disorder” Judgement Night
the Mighty Mighty Bosstones “Police Beat” Skacore the Devil and More
Propaghandi “Pigs Will Pay” How to Clean Everything
Tupac “Hollah if Ya Hear Me” Strictly For
Geto Boys “Crooked Officer”
Fugazi “Great Cop” In On the Kill Taker
1994 – Downset “Anger” downset.
Brand Nubian “Claimin I’m A Criminal” Everything is Everything
O.C. “Constables” World Life
1995 – the Deftones “7 Words” Adrenaline
Nailbomb “Police Truck” Proud to Commit Commercial Suicide
Blanks 77 “Police Attack” Killer Blanks
the Bottle Rockets “Radar Gun” the Brooklyn Side
1996 – Downset “Horrifying” Do We Speak a Dead Language
Biohazard “Authority” Mata Leao
Anti-flag “Fuck Police Brutality,” “Police State USA” Die for Your Government
98 Mute “ACAB” 98 Mute
UK Subs “Killer Cops” Singles/Quintessentials
the Exploited “Police TV” “Law for the Rich” and others from Beat the Bastards
Bad Brains “I Against I” I Against I
1997 – Sodom “Fuck the Police” Till Death Do Us Unite
the Casualties “Police Brutality” For the Punx
Sevendust “Black” sevendust
1998 – L7 “Runnin from the Law” L7
Tupac feat. Talent “Changes”
Alkaline Trio “Cop” Goddammit
Cyprus Hill “Lookin Through the Eyes of a Pig” CHIV
1999 – Agnostic Front “Police State” Riot Riot Upstart
Anti-flag “Police Story” a New Kind of Army
Mos Def “Mr. Nigga” Black on Both Sides
2000 – Hip Hop 4 Respect compilation (the entire EP)
K.R.S One “Sound of da Police” Return of the Boom Bap
Dead Prez “Police State” Let’s Get Free & “Cop Shot” BLAMO
Nevermore “Inside Four Walls” Dead Heart in a Dead World
2001 – T.S.O.L. “Anticop” Disappear
Strike Anywhere “Laughter in a Police State” Change is a Sound
Pennywise “Fuck Authority” Land of the Free
the Stokes “New York City Cops” this is it
J. Dilla “Fuck the Police” the Diary
2002 – Talib Kweli “The Proud” Quality
2003 – Jay-Z “99 Problems” the Black Album
Anti-Flag “Turncoat” the Terror State
2004 – Rise Against “State of the Union” Songs of the Counter Culture
Dead Prez “For the Hood” RBG: Revolutionary But Gangsta
2005 – Geto Boys “G Code” the Foundation
2007 – Wrust “Kill or be Killed” Souless Machine
Down to Nothing “Serve and Neglect” the Most
2008 – D.O.A. “Police Brutality” Northern Avenger
2010 – Sick of it All “Good Cop” Based on a True Story
2011 – Sick of it All “Injustice System” XXV Nonstop
NoFX “Police Brutality” Hardcore
2012 – Killer Mike “Don’t Die”
2013 – Incindiary “Force of Neglect” Cost of Living
2014 – Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band “41 Shots”
Common feat. John Legend” Glory” Glory
Lauren Hill “Black Rage (sketch)”
J. Cole “Be Free”
Tom Morello ” March on Fergeuson”
the Game “Don’t Shoot”
Run the Jewelz feat. Zach de la Roche “Close Your Eyes and County to Fuck” RTJ2
Rancid “Turn in Your Badge” Honor is All We Know
2015 – Strife “Police Story” Incision
Agnostic Front “Police Violence” the American Dream Died
D.O.A. “Cop Shot a Kid” Hard Rain Falling
Kendrick Lamar “Alright” To Pimp a Butterfly
Daye Jack feat. Killer Mike “Hands Up” Hands Up
Prince feat. Eryn Allen Kane “Baltimore”
2016 – Beyonce feat. Kendrick Lamar “Freedom” Lemonade
Z. Ro feat. Mike Dean “No Justice, No Peace”
Common feat. Stevie Wonder “Black America Again”
Issues “Blue Wall” Headspace

And, yet, here we are again today with a demand for justice in 2020 in response to several acts of unjust policing that otherwise should not have ever been allowed to occur if reforms had taken place after ANY of the above mentioned moments and movements.

So, as I’ve stated before and will say again, if you don’t want cities to burn the immediate solution is to fix the fucking cops. Take the tangible steps mentioned above to raise awareness to politicians and law enforcement change needs to occur.

Posted in business commentary, Edible & Digestable, Entertainment, music, Opinion, parenting, personal musings, politics, the Covid Files, Today I Ate, WFHWTF | Leave a comment

WFH WTF, the Covid Files, Month 5: The Stats and the Lies

187,000 total deaths with the 7-day moving average hovering around 1,000 a day for the entire month of August after having fallen below that threshold after the initial surge during the spring ended in the tri-state area.

And, yet, here we are looking at a recent UGov/CBS polls stating a 57% majority of registered Republican voters find the current death toll acceptable.

What’s more, 75% of those same registered Republican voters find the US is better off now than it was 4 years ago despite the catastrophic effects of the the virus.

And, an unreal 82% of this same registered Republican voters group have confidence in Donald Trump’s leadership.

If that’s not some partisan magical thinking enough the Trumpublikkkan Administration pressured the CDC to make a number of politically based changes lately that are, in turn, fueling the the potential for the virus to get much worse before it gets better.

We’ll start with the CDC release of the breakdown for virus related cause of death. In a preliminary analysis of the data released, some “super sleuths” noticed in the cause of death table that only about 9,000 people had “actually” died from coronavirus, or roughly 6% if the total listed deaths at the time. “Actually” in this interpretation means that the only cause of death listed is Covid-19. All the other deaths include some other condition, ranging from pneumonia and/or upper/lower respiratory infection which are extremely common among those who are also dealing with Covid-19 to Stroke and Heart Attack which are less common but still well cited as occurring in conjunction with the body’s failed attempt at responding to Covid-19. Among the underlying conditions findings of cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, cerebrovascular diseases, and diabetes are quite common to be found in the chart. Then again, these are also extremely widespread ailments among the general public with more than 50% of the population having been diagnosed with at least one of those key contributors already listed. That doesn’t include others who have immune diseases, lymphatic diseases, and other commonly complicating conditions. And, as we all know, due to the US Health Care System, a LOT of illnesses go undiagnosed, untreated, mistreated, and so on.

It’s actually very common for death certs to point to several causes of death in the cases of disease related death, which is why if you attempted to total all the deaths by cause you would end up with a larger number than the actual number of dead in a given year. Attribution is important because the body’s systems are, in fact, inter-related and not functioning in isolation of one another. Covid-19 becomes a deadly complicating factor for those with existing stress on their heart or lungs. No different than how Influenza and pneumonia are commonly attributed as causes of death with Heart or Lung Disease simultaneously already. This is exactly how the CDC is not only requesting Covid-19 be tracked but completely in line with years of data collection by them regarding cause of death in general.

Another recent pandemic offers some interesting looks at how immune system diseases completely compromise the body and how deaths are attributed because of it: AIDS/HIV. It is rare, if ever, someone dies from AIDS by itself and the vast majority list multiple causes of death. Covid-19 acts to override the typical immune response and thus leaves the majority of people infected prone to other ailments which is why the inter-related cause of death is so low for Covid-19 alone.

In reality, most people would not have died when they did from their underlying condition had it not been for Covid-19 intervening. And, that’s pretty plain to see when you look at the hospitalization rate and death rate for hospitalizations. Under normal circumstances there are rarely instances where a large enough people are being hospitalized simultaneously, or dying simultaneously. Furthermore, if you look at the 10-year rolling averages for deaths in totality, the additional 180,000 that are known to be related to Covid between late Feb/early March and late August, a six month time-frame, runs higher than any given average “half year” for the rolling average by greater than the typical margin for error and accounting for outliers.

Consider this, extrapolating the Covid-19 death rate on the rolling 7-day average of 1,000 deaths per day, in months that should work out to 90,000 deaths and over a year that becomes 365,000 deaths. Heart disease is estimated by the CDC to be involved in the death of 650,000 per year, Cancer estimated at 600,000, and Accidents/unintentional injuries estimated 170,000 in 2018 the last year of fully released data. Why estimated? Because the CDC typically “corrects” figures based on assumptions about deaths that are otherwise “missed” for any number of reasons. They only began doing this for Covid in June but for all other causes of death typically reported it’s part of their SOP. It’s also notable, again, not every Heart disease death marked by the CDC is solely Heart disease. Most include some secondary cause of death listed and the data generally available publicly via their site. .

Then again, it’s hard to take the current CDC at their word with as politicized as they’ve become.

And, yet, looking at other data sources that independently collect and analyze the info including Johns Hopkins, Kaizer Institute, the New York Times and others at least keeps the existing CDC data in check.

However, the situation is not that simple moving forward if what the CDC intends on doing is manipulating the testing requirements and if the Administration continues to pressure it and other agencies to continue to change the criteria in unscientific ways by limiting data collection and access.

Which brings me to my next WTF in that the CDC is back to recommending less testing. Are we seriously saying asymptomatic people should not be tested again? and that exposure quarantines are not necessary?

We are already at a point of a “theatre of prevention” with Covid in the same way that we use a “theatre of prevention” when it comes to securing buildings and planes from “terrorism”. Temperature taking means nothing considering everyone already manipulates fevers with OTC pain meds to begin with. And, surface cleaning is mostly for show considering most studies show negligible contamination for spread on most surfaces in most circumstances. And, the personal distancing standard of 6′ is quite arbitrary since it doesn’t take into account a number of factors that contribute to arseol distribution. And, the mask rules are hardly enforced in any meaningful way, in part because the rules themselves have become a moving target due to lack of testing data, meaning most people wearing “masks” that might not even be effective and wearing them incorrectly aren’t really protecting themselves or anyone else in a meaningful way.

It’s fine, I’ve come to terms with this insanity throughout the last six months or so. Then again, I’d come to terms with the rest of the assinity too because it’s not as getting half naked and having faux-police search me to get on an airplane really made them safer or night clubs or schools for that matter. But, hey, if it looks good…

I mean, that’s why the NYCDOE wants to open schools, no? They think they can make a little theatre and everyone will just accept the fact that in the last three months the deaths for children according to studies covered by the New York Times and NPR separately showed between May and August 200-250% increases in child deaths related to Covid, hospitalizatoins up 300-400% and less important but still meaningful 700-1000% increases in diagnoses.

Yeah, with pockets of the city showing infection rates between 3-10% despite a citywide average under 2% what could possibly go wrong by intermingling students and teachers from hot spot neighborhoods with the general population? And that’s not even accounting for teachers and building staff that are from outside the five boroughs, the immediate effects of end-of-summer non-quarantining

–What I’ve been listening to–

Industrial type stuff and a lot of it actually. I feel like I already did this so these might be getting a bit redundant but listening sequence before but if not:

Fear Factory – particularly Demanu and Obsoltete
Pitchshifter – Industrial through WWW
KMFDM – big fat random mix specifically the Lucia Cifarelli, Nicole Blackman & Dorona Alberti led stuff
Front Line Assembly
and the first VAST record (visual audio sensory theatre)

plus, I got turned onto Assention of the Watchers “Ghost Heart” this was my review

Video: if nothing else, the video is inventive and visually intense. I love the animation style to begin with and it seems to fit the progressive and haunting nature of the music.
Composition: I seems like it’s meant to be progressive in an atmospheric kind of way which I do have a soft spot for — It isn’t overly complex but still pretty grandiose feeling. I look forward to seeing how it translates at an album level though. The song moves through itself well in a moody sonic pallet even if the drum parts are pretty one-dimensional and the vocal melodies a bit too simplistic for how rich some of the rest of the instrumentation around them. There’s almost a bit of a euro-vibe to it – like an English it rains all the time here kind of approach to writing…
Performance: Then, I realized it was Burton C Bell and that explained why the vocals are what they are. His vocals have this hollowness too them and he tends to sing in a very tight range which works very well to portray the haunting angst of both Fear Factory’s clean vox parts and works alright here too. Not sure if the FF influence is also why the drums come off so mechanistic too. But other than those limitations being what they are, the entire experience of the song is as a whole was good especially how the instrumentation plays off itself with the different layers and sonic textures.
There BCB/FF connect makes me think of Resurrection form Obsolete, but before that I was more leaning toward some of the stuff from Agalloch or In the Woods as well as maybe like Katatonia if they really stretched their compositions out more or Anathema during their progmosphere era with a more gothic vocalization. I dig it though, again, thanks for sharing

–What I’ve been eating —

We’ve been grilling a lot of stuff lately. It took all summer to get back into the swing of buying stuff to grill between the lack in-person shopping, a lot of stuff being harder to find (and lower quality when we could), personal disenfranchisement/lack of motivation with doing anything, overwhelmedness and stress from having the kids home the whole time, etc.

The last grill session included
Beets that were quartered and then pickled (hot and sweet separate) while the stems and leaves are for a salad
Onions that were quartered and charred, some pickled, some used for other dishes
Yellow potatoes that were left over from another dish, they were tiny fingerling things so they roasted/smoked up nice
Garlic shhhhhhh no one knows I roasted them but me and i’m going to enjoy those cloves
Brussle Sprouts halved to char the cut side after a good dredge in

Posted in business commentary, Edible & Digestable, Entertainment, music, Opinion, parenting, personal musings, politics, recipes, the Covid Files, Today I Ate, WFHWTF | Leave a comment

WFH WTF, the Covid Files: Month 5: Ovi Watch, Playoff Edition

As if 2020 wasn’t fucked up enough the Caps were almost swept.

By the mother fucking Islanders. It’s like the goddamned horror of the 80s all over again.

I mean, it’s fine. The whole shortened season, extended break, summer playoffs under a different format thing was never going to net quality results anyway.

But, hockey was a positive emotional outlet and despite not being invested in the post-season this year it’s still saddening to see it end so anti-climatic as to have them be swept.

By their old coach.

By a fringe playoff team that had no business dominating the Caps generally higher level of talent for three straight games.

Then, Ovechkin showed up. As he always does. The Caps have three even-strength goals in the series. Ovi potted all three of them. He has four goals total in the four games played.

In addition being 5th in post-season career goals facing elimination with 13; and moving up to 18th for total goals, passing Howe & for the time Crosby, and into 2nd among active players with 69 all-situations goals scored. Here’s how the rest shakes out over Ovi’s 135 career post season games (#143) after last night’s win:

44 Even Strength goals, T17 with Mullen, Cournoyer & Marleau, 2nd among active players behind Crosby (49), +2 to tie Forsberg for 16th
25 Power Play goals, T14 with Neely, Alfredsson and Kurri, 2nd among active players behind Malkin (27), +1 to tie Beliveau & MacInnis for 12th
10 Game Winning goals, T60 with MacLeish, Murphy, Provost & Courtnall, 6th among active players behind Marleau (16), Pavelski & Malkin (12), Kane & Toews (11)

0.551 Goals Per Game, #15, 2nd among active players behind Guentzel (0.556)
1.472 Goals per 60 (there aren’t a lot of historical notes on quant hockey for this but it’s good enough for #10 among the timeframe it is available and 5th among listed active players)

595 shots, #13, 1st among active players, +8 to tie Federov for 12th
4.4 shots per game, 1st among players in the top 25 shot totals

131 Points, T44 with Lamar, 5th among active players behind Kane (132), Thorton (133), Malking (169) and Crosby (189)
0.970 Points Per game, #36, 3rd among active players behind Kane (0.971), Malkin (1.08) and Crosby (1.25)

And yet, there is a lot of discussion in the press about the Caps precarious position and how much of it might be from a lack of leadership, which, of course is a dig at the Ovechkin captaincy yet again.

Amazingly, when the Pens didn’t make it out of the play-in round Crosby made a comment about how their Cup window was closing. It was treated generally as introspective and insightful. An honest and candid look at the reality of the franchise.

Can you imagine if Ovechkin made that kind of remark, particularly if the Caps were unserimouiously swept out of the first round? It would not be received nearly a well as Crosby’s remark. Why? Well anti-Russian xenophobia compared to high praises for native-Canadians among the predominantly old school leaning hockey press. But, it is also the tropes that come with goal scorers versus guys who rack up points via assists selflessly allowing goal scorers to do their job. Sniper wingers versus defensive centers. And, even the so-called working class image of Pittsburg versus the political elitism perception of DC even though the players rarely hail from the cities they play for.

All of it is utter garbage.

The Caps failures during the post-season are rarely something that could be laid at the feet of Ovechkin for his efforts. He single handedly has dragged the team through some pretty lackluster efforts in the post season. Look at the drop-off for some of the Caps other “top” players from their regular season success to their post-season contributions. Backstrom. Semin. Green. Carlson. Kuztetzov. Other than the cup winning year there’s some pretty big playoff blackholes from otherwise top-tier talent.

So, here we are now in a 3-1 hole with the Great 8 having literally put the team on his back and dragged them to their only win so far. Horray. I guess.

I mean the best part was watching those four goals so far. All of which are classic Ovi moves. You know its coming, be it ripped on the fly streaking down the right side or from his office in the left circle, and it still goes in. Not necessarily pedestrian because most players probably don’t pot 2 of the 4 anyhow, but nothing highlight reel spectacular either because Ovi makes them all look so easy. If for nothing else, I’ll enjoy the post-season just to have a few more games of Ovi doing Ovi things.

–Music I’m listening to–

In the discussion about worst produced classic albums it came up about Metallica and how their recent album production has been garbage. I actually had to defend myself at one point as not being an old skool curmudgeon hating on the albums simply because they were modern. However, that lead to an interesting tanget of listening for me over the next few days too, and here’s a quick look at some of the results

Kreator – Gods of Violence – one of the best records in their 30+ year catalog. It’s sonically vicious and socially insightful.

Sodom – Decision Day – see note on Kreator because it’s the same feeling

Death Angel – Humanicide – see note on Sodom that refers back to Kreator only they’re an american band

Testament – Brotherhood of the Snake – About the same level as Dark Roots as another example of fucking great sounding old school efforts which are also well written and performed. Sure, it’s not the Gathering, or Low, but rarely has Testament ever really disappointed either.

Slayer – War Painted Blood – OK, so I’m going back a decade to make this point but I’m also not as die-hard a Slayer fan as most Slayer fans are and while Repentless is good it’s not nearly as highly trafficked in my personal listening (as is the case with a good portion of the catalog).

Carcass – Surgical Steel – It’s kind of unfair because early Carcass was grind and it’s almost inherently underproduced having bitten off garage, hardcore punk, thrash and so on to begin with. Would Symphonies of Sickness sound better if it were produced like modern Napalm Death? Fuck yes it would but so would Scum by Napalm Death. When Carcass shifted into melodeath they did so meeting the sonic expectations not just the compositional ones. Surgical Steel picks up after a decade-plus hiatus with all the vibrance you’d expect.

Soilwork – the Living Infinite – There’s a few cases of fantastic, over the top good production in their 20 year catalog and this is definitely one of them, along with being a compositionally brilliant effort to boot.

At the Gates – At War With Reality – Nearly 20 years after the ground breaking opus Slaughter of the Soul ATG pick right back up doing what they do best with the best sounding version of it to date

Pantera – the Great Southern Trendkill – I fucking HATE the production of the vast majority of Pantera. Their classic albums sound like they were recorded in a tin foil tube. Trendkill however had sonic balance on top of being the most aggressive and brutally over the top effort the band would create (and apart from a few brief moments in Phil’s catalog is essentially the heaviest slab of fucking metal anyone in the band ever performs on). It’s to Pantera what Demonic was to Testament, only the band fell apart before they could write the Gathering like Testament eventually did. I bring this up because as much of an unpopular choice as Trendkill is among fans, it’s still better produced than anything Metallica has EVER put out…

–What I’m eating–

Beets are my current favorite summer food. We received some quite by accident with one of our delivery orders and after harvesting the greens for a salad and digging out an old memory of grilling them this is what I’ve come up with as we continue to reorder them

We get fresh beets and I take the stems and greens off (make a salad with the greens and save the stems to use similar to celery) and the little nubbin of the root.
Then I quarter the beets. Salt and pepper them. I haven’t needed to oil them since they don’t sick on my grill.
My grill temp is somewhere around 350 and I let them go for about 30-40 minutes, till they’re tender. I turn them about three times so they get grill mark charring on all three sides.
After they’re roasted I put them in a vinegar solution and let them sit for a few days. You can start with just leftover pickle juice which seemed to work pretty good. I dropped a few in the brine that comes with jalapeños too and that was very tasty. I made my own very basic one using some rice wine vinegar, water, lime juice and old bay seasoning which was pretty good too. Also did one with equal parts rice wine and apple cider vinegar, coarse ground black pepper, roasted garlic cloves and quartered onions (honesty, I got impatient so the garlic was not good pickled in this mix to eat, the onions were ok, probably could have stood to sit much longer).
so if you’re into experimenting different vinegar and spice combinations could make some pretty rad tastes.

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WFH WTF, the Covid Files: Month 5: Happy Birthday

My dad’s birthday would have been today.

It’s weird thinking of his birthday without him. It’s still infinitely weird thinking about him not being here in general.

We’ve been talking about going to visit my family in central Jersey for a few weeks and one of the single most difficult aspect of it is hearing the older padawan want to visit pepe.

When we dig deeper, like what do you want to do with pepe, in hopes of finding out what we can help reconnect the memory to there’s not a lot to go on. It’s just a general, “can’t we visit pepe” kind of response and that might be the most difficult thing about my dad’s passing to deal with.

For as mature as our older padawan is they are still a toddler and didn’t have nearly enough opportunities to bond with their pepe. Which is sad, because padawan loves art and music and other things I know they and pepe would have loved to bond over.

I can’t recall if I’ve said it before, but what made my dad so special to so many people is he took a specific, personal interest into what they enjoyed.

He loved music but I can’t say I believe he loved drumming as much as I did becoming a percussionist. He might have enjoyed the ideas of Krupa, Rich and Roach, as the three he most often referenced in my youth, but it was how he really got behind my adoration of guys like Peart, McBrain, Calhoun, Bourdin, Cameron, JP, Herb, Flo and others that was inspiring. He learned about their music, stuff that was far outside his listening not just because I liked to play it but because it influenced my radio show and in some cases my social advocacy which at the time was in its infancy. It’s weird because he didn’t directly tell me, “hey do a metal show with brains” but along the way a lot of how he interacted with the music, from Zep and Sabbath’s use of lit and history and science to Dream Theater, Metallica and Iron Maiden’s reinterpretation of it to where I’d end up with Hypocrisy, Napalm Death and the like, we still always combined ended up in the same place supporting the same social justice and hating the same social downfalls.

He loved art but I can’t say he really always loved the weird shit I would articulate and go to visit at museums and friends displays. Of course we did have a commonality leaning very heavy on his cribbing of Peanuts and Disney characters of his own that I’ve since taken over. Nonetheless, despite not always sharing the same stuff he always encouraged me to be into it. To learn about it. To enjoy it and in time he learned to appreciate it too. Maybe it wasn’t that far a trip from Harryhausen to Burton but he got there.

He was who he was and in and of itself it was brilliant. What he became for other people as a prop for their experiences though, that was a whole other thing.

Long before I think he ever thought about me working for a LGBT rights organization he had come to terms with not only the fact I was not a self-identifying straight cis dude and was supportive of it long before I could ever articulate it. More importantly, he was one of the first people I know that was supportive, in general, of just being LGB overall. While a lot of other people were talking about religious this and personal belief that he said something to me during what I recall as HS or maybe college as being the idea of “you love who you love.” It is somewhat dismissive I guess in modern assertion but for that time, in that context, I truly believe it was one of the earliest version of support I’d ever heard and as a kid that then, and as an adult still doesn’t now, fully understand all my preferences and identities it was once of the most reassuring statements ever.

Anyway, as I’ve learned from talking to a lot of people in the wake of his passing this isn’t an uncommon story. He could take the most passing of experiences and turn it into something you’d cherish. He could take some of the most innocuous ideas and help you configure them into being something memorable. He could support the most

The Music I’m Listening to —

This actually was spun out of a conversation on a music blog I frequent, inquiring about the “worst” produced “classic” albums. In some of these cases, I can still listen through the records in spite of the glaring flaws in production but in some cases it’s not as cut and dry.

  1. Metallica AJFA is a production nightmare. Actually, for as huge as Metallica is, their production track record is gawdawful. Kill Em All sounds like a garage recording with tin guitars and flatter drum sounds than almost anything else coming out in the scene’s lo-fi recordings at the time. The Alternica-era Load(s) were muddy, mushy, sloppy post-grunge masturbation on the mixing board. St. Anger and Death Mag are both sonic abortions of studio sound. While there’s excuses for each of these atrocities the fact that one of the biggest band’s in the world keeps missing the mark so consistently with production is embarassing.
  2. looooooot of hardcore / metalcore were meant to sound like stripped down garage recordings on purpose and that’s fine, but there’s a few that could stand to have the guitars not sound like they were filtered through a fisher price boom box first. While it’s nice to think the vocals are being screamed into the abyss, it’s usually more helpful not to scream them into a urinal at CBGBs first. When you hear hardcore breakdowns with a thick distorted guitar and a fat underpinning of bass instead of sounding like it was recorded in a tin-foil room it makes a world of difference. Just listen to how tinny the old Indecision records were and compare them to what mostly the same band was turning out as sonic slabs during the Most Precious Blood era. Disembodied’s basement production compared to Martyr AD’s crushing “the Human Condition.” Image the Vision of Disorder self-title green record, early Earth Crisis or anything from Rollin’s Era Black Flag if it didn’t sound like it was recorded in a toilet paper roll.
  3. Any of the early pressings of the 90s RHCP records (although Californication is the worst – the remastered releases are marginally better) because they were all brick walled. When you can hear the digital clipping occur it is baaaaaad even at a time when brick walling was being overdone. I know RHCP isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but those albums were huge back in the day and to be mastered so badly is a crime and helped set a precedent for that era’s loudness war that also brick walled a lot of other records unnecessarily.
  4. Voivod – It might be a shorter list of well produced Voivod records, honestly, so it’s amazing the influence they’d had on so many sub-genres sounding like some of those albums have. When they get the production right their albums are epic (Phobos became a personal fave, in part because it is sonically vast, for a nice change of pace) so it’s pretty sad that some of them sound like my kid was behind the board randomly turning knobs sometimes and that’s the first half the catalog feels to me.
  5. Soilwork – Figure Number Five. The band should have never had to helm their own effort but that’s unfortunately how it worked out. There’s some other “flaws” in the album, but the production approach, to me, is what derailed the band after the epic sounding Natural Born Chaos and it took them a couple of records to get themselves back out of that hole. If nothing else, listen to the title track live when they play it and how brutal it comes off compared to how pedestrian it ends up on the record and that’s not even getting into some of the nintendo keyboards that show up later to ruin otherwise perfectly good melodeath.
  6. Hüsker Dü – New Day Rising. There’s a bunch of records from this era that over over muffled, muddied messes. Trying to create a wall of sound is one thing. Having that wall made of sludgy slop on the other hand. Ugh. An otherwise well written record is rendered unlistenable at times. Like are they even playing notes?
  7. Pantera – unpopular opinion here but I personally hate the production on both VDP and FBD. The drums sound empty, it’s all attack and no sustain. There’s no boominess to any of it. Phil’s voice is too tightly produced to the point of being emotionaless at times despite the lyrics. The guitars, other than the screaming solos, come off as being so focused that the crunch in the distortion has no depth to it and there’s then this weird sonic gap between Dime’s riff and Rex’s bottom end which is annoying to my ears (to their credit though, they did leave Rex’s bass in, unlike Metallica that created a sonic void and “forgot” to fill it with Newstead). Cowboys doesn’t suffer from it and GSTK sounds metal as fuck though so I’m not sure why those two ended up the way they did or why people think it’s actually good sounding.
  8. Clutch – Transnational Speedway League: Anthems, Anecdotes & Undeniable Truths. Holy crap are the songs on this album awesome. Holy crap is it a sonic cheese grater to my ears. It does everything I want Clutch to do for me in terms of twisted lyrics, interesting composition and great feel but the production does it with all the poise of Oscar the Grouch in execution.
  9. Crowbar – Obedience through Time Heals or maybe Broken Glass. There’s likely not a NOLA scene without their sonic influence, but for a band that is described as a slow moving storm through the bayou there’s a couple of records where the sonic depth is the equivalent of a sun-shower on bourbon street. When they finally figured out their production, around Odd Fellows Rest, is when you can really “feel” their sound as much as hear it
  10. Meshuggah – Nothing. Yep, I said it. It’s mastered too loud. The guitars were made to sound “thicker” and the drums to have more “depth” in an effort to try and capture the weight of their live sound (when I saw them tour on Chaosphere you literally felt your bowels move in your abdomen and brain shift in your cranium on some of those riffs) but what it actually did to that (and subsequent) studio efforts was diminish the staccato riffs and create a lot less separation between the discordant tones that were part of the band’s signature. The writing is exactly what I expect from Meshuggah but the sound felt like it overplayed their hand, especially compared to DEI & Chaosphere before it.

Interesting mentions that while I would NEVER consider these specific releases classics the bands themselves are highly influential and infinitely important to their respective genres, thus, having these glaring holes in their catalogs/careers is pretty jarring.

  1. Pitchshifter – Deviant. They never got the credit they deserved, and, yeah, the debut album Industrial could probably have been better produced, but it’s actually the end of their career that suffers the most. Everything up through and including WWW (which is brilliantly over-produced in the most complimentary way) is what the band should be remember for because whatever happened with Dave Jerden got a hold of the band was like listening to a cotton candy machine and they barely recovered to close out their career with PSI. I can’t even determine if Deviant is good sometimes because the production is so wrong.
  2. Iron Maiden – the Blaze Bailey records – Do NOT ever let Harris behind the mixing board of Maiden albums again. Blaze’s incompatible vocals aside the production is an atrocity in-and-of itself. Hearing the re-recordings and live renditions of songs like “Man on the Edge” “Lord of the Flies” “The X Factor” “The Clansman” and even “Futureal” isn’t just about Dickinson’s vocals, it’s about hearing what those guitar parts sound like with the bright classic maiden production and not that filtered through dirty water sound that Harris/Green landed on.
  3. Candiria – What Doesn’t Kill You… – It’s not that the molotov cocktail of fusion-hardcore-hip hop was re-imagined to include some interesting melodicism and focused composition, it’s that David Bendeth tried to make a bunch of old school brooklyn street artists into a polished sonic act. There’s some incredible technical and emotional moments that are otherwise rendered pedestrian and uninspired by trying to make it sound pop-rock. Could the record be classic mathcore? It might not have stood up against The Process of Self-Development or Beyond a Reasonable Doubt but at a time when mathcore was headed in every which direction a different production approach could have left the new compositional direction in a much more listenable spot.
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WFH WTF, the Covid Files: Month 5: Cicadoidea Gryllidae Thunderoustormis

The cacophony of sound I am being serenaded with by nature could pass for an avant industrial blackened techcore project.

I think I’ll call it Cicadoidea Gryllidae Thunderoustormis.

Our first release will be the 12 minute, single song EP titled “sons chaotiques forts qui n’ont aucun sens” which is really a 40-second passage on semi-infinite loop with an abrupt ‘end’ to match it’s stark intro.

I want to write a bio for this monstrosity that includes the members speaking in kaiju references as if each of the artist naming conventions were to become the core of their personalities. It would be more along the lines of the fictitious performance art of Gwar while employing something like Conjectural Dissenting Premise when I was involved in that more concept less music project back in the day. We’ll see. I’m kind of short on free time at this point.

“WFH WTF, the Covid Files” is about to take yet another major pivot yet again.

A few weeks back the posts hit the 90-days at home with the kids milestone and I decided I needed to re-think the approach to keeping this online journal of working from home with everyone around and what that journey of work-parenting-home schooling looked like. Well, the journey of work-parenting-home schooling is actually coming to an end for the time being. The padawan are headed back to a day-care setting this week.

It was NOT an easy decision to take on. And, I cannot say we’re actually 100% OK with having made the decision. But we have to start somewhere on exploring what we’re comfortable with for everyone in the family.

Unlike the discussions about schools, or work places, or even how most day-cares are set up, in which distancing, and PPE, and cleanliness are unanswered, we can say, for the most part, from what we’ve experienced with our day-care facility from before the pandemic, they take small groups, cleanliness and so on very seriously, and have offered a pretty well defined explanation of how they are incorporating an even higher standard to these new times. I’m not sure it’s going to result in full day mask wearing, or actual social distancing, or a lot of other stuff we know can make a huge impact, but lets start with seeing what the routine actually looks like and take it from there. Especially because the kids are already good with mask wearing and distancing around family and our immediate friends anyhow. While I know we are the exception, this care facility is nothing like what the typical school looks like so it’s probably a much safer bet, although that still might not be saying much considering Covid-19’s exceptional ability to decimate.

I also am well aware the huge amount of privledge we had to be able to hold the kids out of daycare through the hight of outbreaks in the tri-state area. How fortunate we were to be able to maintain our spot at a day care that has, so far, managed to survive. And, how unique we are to be able to pull them out again if necessary and reset this whole process should it come to that.

May people put a lot more on the line than we did. And, I am well aware of how unique our situation really was. We didn’t have family to build a pod around. Many of our friends aren’t immediately local either. We were isolated and alone in that regard. But safe. The scare with my dad dying from Covid really rocked us. Experiencing it first hand certainly informs a lot of our opinions about what we are comfortable with. But we could also act on those opinions to be safe because we had the unique opportunities we did too. And, while we struggled with balancing home care and parenting with being educators to our two padawan and both trying to balance our jobs working from home there are certainly many who had no choices and fared much worse.

there were a few brief things of drops but there was still wildlife sounds… when everthing got quiet though, i literally had less than 30 seconds to get my shit inside and the heavens just fucking opened. How fucking 2020 cliche can you be mother nature.

I’m sitting on the porch now with a tea-candle for light.

What I’ve been listening to —

NYHC was a big part of the theme, proably the most played stuff included:

Biohazard – random mix from the self-titled through New World Disorder. There’s a lot of heavily political stuff from this era that I wanted padawan to hear. Plus it’s got lots of gang vocals and big breakdowns that they both love too.

Sick of it All – random mix from Built to Last through Life on the Ropes. This was the era that made me a fan (I know, late to the party). There’s some good posicore and social commentary to go with the gang vox and breakdowns too.

Agnostic Front – random mix of Something’s Gotta Give through Another Voice plus the American Dream Died. Honestly, this got kicked into the mix due to a recent discussion about New York Police State and how DeBlasio is no better than Guilanni, if not, potentially worse in his spineless medocrity veiled as some kind of left-leaning progressive. Fuck both of them at this point.

Nausea – random mix of the entire catalog. To balance the cheese factor of Biohazard, anarcho-crust-punk is the perfect foil. Female vox just make it that much better. As brutal as it comes politically and sonically.

Born Against – random mix of the catalog. I was actually introduced to them in passing recently through their latter Jersey roots and I’m just getting my head wrapped around their brand of cynical leftistcore. Shits fuckin’ brutally beautiful though.

H2O – OK, more pop-than-hard, H2O fill a fun-loving brand of posicore outlook that rounded out the list nicely. They come from the latter time of the DMS-crew scene that both uplifted and destroyed NYHC through the 90s and my experiences with them as people were never anything other than positive, so anytime I hear those first couple of records I cannot help but to smile.

What I’m eating —

Nothing special actually. I wanted to say I was making cool meals but honestly, what I’m doing at this point is recycling at lot of stuff. I’ll try to do better in future posts.

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WFH WTF, the Covid Files, Day 87: Being Good is the Default

The last few days a meme was circulating around about how “Men that don’t rape aren’t special. Men that don’t cheat aren’t special. Men that treat women as equals aren’t special. Men that participate in parenting aren’t special. This is what a normal man should be”

Generally speaking I agree with this sentiment.

As I tell my padawan all the time, “you don’t get a treat for behaving correctly, because doing the right thing should be the default. You might get a treat for doing above and beyond expectations but even that isn’t a guarantee since trying to do better than the default should always be the goal. ”

This meme, for the purpose of our aspirations in this household, is just a situational restatement of that. If you’ve ever read the Why we don’t do Elf on a Shelf here on the blog you’ve probably gotten that same impression from it.

We do our best to try and treat things equally around here. It’s not always easy because perception of what equal contribution is can be a tricky thing.

For example, the outside chores are essentially my entire responsibility so how much does having to carve out several hours a week to dedicate to it offset the time that my partner now has to dedicate in childcare since that is not being split (and no, our toddlers are not able to participate in most of the outdoor chores, although, I do put them to work when it’s possible). This is an ongoing point of contention that’s really tough to figure out since it’s not like we ever trade off who is mowing the law, or maintaining the gardens, or pruning trees and bushes, or handling leaves, or snow, or otherwise managing the upkeep of the property so it’s safe for everyone to enjoy. And, it’s honestly also one of those things that when household chores are talked about often gets overlooked or devalued in terms of masculine contribution. I’ve read, and even heard it come up in therapy from time to time, it’s because it’s outdoors and apparently it’s less “work” because of that and stereotypically guys like machines so lawnmowers and chainsaws are more joyous than vacuums and dishwashers. I do derive pleasure from maintaining the gardens but if I never had to shovel snow again, or mulch leaves, or well, anything that wasn’t the gardens, I’d be pretty OK with it. Wait, I do get some pleasure from the axe and the chainsaw, but honestly, how often do those really come out on a quarter acre property?

Anyway, personal aside, aside, the idea that there’s some reward for doing what should otherwise be expected is insane.

And, it’s not a new concept. Despite the touchy-feely 1970’s parenting of participation trophies supposedly being a turning point the prospect of rewarding otherwise normal behavior has it’s roots in any number of parenting bribes from Santa Claus to birthdays to promising dessert if you finish your plate for dinner. If there’s a way to manipulate children out of bad behavior and back to the default expectation parents and society as a whole has probably been doing it for as long as there have been children to manipulate.

Sure, older generations will pretend like they NEVER got rewarded for the default behavior and tell stories about how they had it so much worse, but I’ve watched enough TV from the 50s and 60s to know that’s bullshit. Those writers were not only creating shows that were a reflection of the time in which everyone was already living, they were often drawing upon their own experiences which would have been a generation earlier as well. A quick glance through the articles of magazines from that era tells a similar story. Novels. Radio shows. Even the research from that era, as sparse and anecdotal as it might be at times, tells the same thing.

Of course, I heard how we were soft growing up as a latter-half Gen-Xer because of that so-called participation trophy thing despite being raised primarily by Boomers. The Gen-Y Millennials were berated for it as well, ironically enough, by the Boomers who, ironically enough, because they had kids so late in life overlapped Gen-X in helping create the enormous size of the Millennials and thus obviously had to participate in “spoiling” them as both parents and grandparents. Now, Gen-Z Zoomers are feeling that same accusation as they grow up, again, from those same freakin’ Boomers who still haven’t hit great-grandparent status and died off yet. One would think if there’s some key element to understanding why the last three generations are considered “soft” it’s the ongoing influence of the Boomers who are more than happy to talk about personal responsibility as long as they are not the ones taking it.

But, I digress. This isn’t mean to shit on my parent’s generation. Much. As it is to point out that the reason the lesson I am teaching my padawan that the meme’s underlying point is about, is one that parents have been struggling with for several generations now.

That’s without taking into account the disparates in which it is taught.

Because, let’s face it, males get a lot more participation trophies.

Seriously. Males are more likely to be involved in organizations that give them out. They’re more likely to play sports. They’re more likely to be involved in clubs and organized youth organizations. They’re more likely to play an instrument. They’re more likely to be perceived by teachers, particularly in elementary school, as needing extra attention through positive reinforcement. They’re more likely to be treated by family better because they might ‘retain the bloodline’s name.’ And, so on.

This is doubly so for white males. They’re more likely to have better access to well organized and well financed sports at younger ages. They’re more likely to be involved in well organized and well financed clubs and youth organizations at younger ages as well. They’re more likely to only only have access to music lessons with private teachers using better quality instruments at younger ages but they’re more likely to also participate in well organized and well financed groups younger as well. And, they’re more likely to have teachers who are willing to dolt on them and reward good behavior while ignoring bad behavior more often. Never mind their families are more likely to be able to treat them better because of inter-generational or hereditary wealth.

And, it’s not about an individual household’s income either. Males in general get more opportunity than females regardless of the household income. Whites generally get more opportunity than non-whites. So, when comparing, say a white male to a black female both of which are from lower-middle income, blue collar, working class families, the white male would typically receive.

Every one of those opportunities also represents an opportunity to be told “you were good enough” no matter how competitive the situation is. I experienced it in my musical endeavors all the time, I saw it in Scouting, and even in the limited number of sports I participated in. As I look back as an adult I remember a lot of kids who were definitely not deserving of the opportunities based on their skills and abilities getting them and getting lots of credit for just having tried. Sure, everyone got some kind of award or medal or earned some kind of accolade even if it was just made up for the occasion but it was generally my white male peers who were given the extras (sometimes myself included, c’mon, “most unusual” Pine Wood Derby car HAS to be a made up award). Even if the awards

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WFH WTF, the Covid Files, Day 86: the questions, answers and lies of going back

I want my children back to daycare as much as any caretaker might want their kids back to daycare or school. The padawan are going stir-crazy being cooped up at home with my partner and I doing our best to attempt juggling our careers with their home-schooling and our normal parenting and household maintenance.

While I love my padawan dearly this is not sustainable in its current situation. It’s not productive for them and their needs as they continue to transition out of toddlerhood and it’s not good for me in my career or for the relationship my partner as a couple, and so on. It is not even a selfish thing at this point. the padawan miss their friends and instructors at school, at t-ball, at swim class, at Tinkergarten and so on. While my partner and I do our best to make up for the activities themselves it’s not the same as participating in them with groups of their own peers.

However, we’re in no rush to get the padawan back just for the sake of sending them back. There are entirely too many unanswered questions that impact them and my partner’s return to the classroom. And, honestly, no one has good answers. Not the CDC and WHO. Not the Feds with Trump and Devos. Not the locals, including Cuomo and definitely no De Blasio.

Some of it is because the data is poor. Some of it is because of unnecessary politicalization in the intersection education, and the labor force, and health care, and the disease itself. Some of it is because of how this country elects to distribute tax dollars and prioritize budgets.

Some of it is because the questions being asked aren’t complete, or even correct questions in the first place.

So, let’s ask some tough questions.

How do you know if you are starting with a clean slate? Are you going to test everyone before the begin the school year or just hope and pray everyone showing up in person is healthy? If you’re testing, what is the protocol? If it’s self-testing how can you ensure it’s reliable? What are you doing about those who cannot self-test for whatever reason? How about those who will not? If you’re creating a DOE level protocol what does that entail? How is it financed? How are you handling those who cannot, or will not, initially be tested? How are you communicating the results, both at an individual level and at the community level in a way that ensures privacy but provides necessary information?

How are you keeping people safe throughout the year?

What’s the required cadence for testing? If it’s only symptomatic, how are you ensuring safety for asymptomatic positives that could be communicable? If it’s asymptomatic what is the necessary cadence?

How are you preventing exposure?

Are you providing everyone with masks and if so how are you financing it? If not what are the minimum mask standards you expect? how are you treating vanity masks as part of the dress code? how are you compensating for those with hearing or speech issues, stress or anxiety disorders, and others with challenges that masks will affect? how are you handling mask off time, such as eating and for younger kids napping? how are you handling those that forget masks, bring non-compliant masks, cannot afford to provide their own masks, etc? How are you prepared for the possible disciplinary discrepancies between genders, ethnicities, etc that already exist and will be exasterbated by masks being worn? How are you prepared for to help deal with the psychological impact of how individuals may be coping with the disease already when they will have to now wear a mask for between say 6 and 9 hours a day, something they are completely unaccustomed to? How are you communicating what the policy looks like and how best to adhere to it to students, staff and the community at large? How about other PPE such as gloves and face shields? Mostly all the same questions apply.

Are you providing extra soap and sanitizers and if so how are you financing it? If not, what are the minimum standards you expect for self-supplies and how are you helping those that forget theirs, cannot afford it, or bring the wrong stuff? How are you encouraging using them and handling enforcing usage or lack of and compensating for those who aren’t accustomed to this level of cleanliness? How are you prepared for the possible disciplinary discrepancies between genders, ethnicities, etc that already exist and will be exasterbated by requiring this level of sanitation? How are you prepared for to help deal with the psychological impact of how individuals may be coping with the disease already when they will have to now adjust their entire daily routine to compensate for these new sanitary standards?How are you communicating what the policy looks like and how best to adhere to it to students, staff and the community at large?

Are you providing a physical distancing framework? If you are what does that entail? How are you communicating what the policy looks like and how best to adhere to it to students, staff and the community at large? How are you enforcing the policy are you prepared for the possible disciplinary discrepancies between genders, ethnicities, etc that already exist and will be exasterbated by physical distancing? How are you prepared for to help deal with the psychological impact of how individuals may be coping with the disease already when they will have to now have to distance at 6 to 9 hour intervals? how are you compensating for those with hearing or speech issues, stress or anxiety disorders, and others with IEP and related challenges that physical distancing may affect?

What are you providing for physical barriers and how are you financing it? How are you differentiating these health barriers from using other physical barriers such as bullet proof glass partitians, chicken wire grates, widow bars, etc. ? How are you communicating what the policy looks like and how best to adhere to it to students, staff and the community at large? How are you compensating for the possible disciplinary discrepancies between genders, ethnicities, etc that already exist and will be exasterbated by the presence of new physical barriers and their related rules? how are you compensating for those with hearing or speech issues, stress or anxiety disorders, and others with IEP and related challenges that physical barriers may affect? How are you cleaning and maintaining them?

What are you providing in terms of pre-emptive measures such as temperature screening, Covid-19 diagnostic tests, etc. and how are you financing it. If you are not financing it how are you requiring students and staff to provide proof they are healthy enough to be in the schools? How are you differentiating these health related measures from the so-called safety related use of metal dectators, armed guards, screening animals, etc.? How are you communicating what the policy looks like and how best to adhere to it to students, staff and the community at large? How are you compensating for the possible disciplinary discrepancies between genders, ethnicities, etc that already exist and will be exasterbated by having to adhere to these new screening measure policies? how are you compensating for those with stress or anxiety disorders, and others with IEP and related challenges that physical barriers may affect?

What happens with the first positive test? Obviously, you could say that person cannot attend in person to start if it is before the school year begins. But how do you explain their initial absence to the rest of the school – students and staff and how do you compensate for their absence both as the missing individuals and within the broader school experience since quarantines are typically much longer than most normal sickness

How about a single positive test during the school year though? How are you contract tracing to determine who might have been exposed and determining at what level you are requiring quarantining of those exposed?

what do those kids who were only possibly exposed get for an education in the meantime and what is the protocol for their return? what’s the expectation for staff who are now under quarantine because of possible exposure. This of course works on the premise that the positive test is asymptomatic. But what about symptomatic tests? How are you handling absenteeism and sick leave knowing that most symptomatic situations will far surpass typical time-off protocols.

At what point is there a broad enough exposure from a positive test to potentially close a building and for how long is this assumably temporary closure? What’s the protocol for decontamination and how are you paying for it?

How are you communicating to students and their parents, staff and the community the situation in a way that allows families and communities to safeguard themselves and what support are you providing those affected (without, obviously, bringing unnecessary attention to the individual who was affected)?

How many positives tests in what timeframe will it take to close a building longer term and how long is

Let’s talk about the NYC DOE for a moment and the idea that among the largest school systems in the nation New York City is the only one planning to return. With the budgets already being slashed by De Blasio there’s a real question on how the city can even attempt to afford re-opening schools safely.

If we take the NYC DOE at its word, they intend on supplying teachers with access to masks, gloves, shields, personal cleaning supplies like wipes, etc and that roughly half of the current 75,000 teachers would return to face-to-face education. It’s not that the other half are all supporting distance learning as part of the budget solution is to offer early retirement, lay off some number of non-tenured teachers and expect some level of voluntary attrition (probably because the plan is asinine and of course people would rather quit than die).

The school year for students is typically 180 days but teachers put in around 192 when accounting for everything else. Even if we’re taking hybrid learning proposals into account, while students might not spend 180 days in the physical classroom teachers in those buildings still would be in a minimum of 144 for a 4-day in person assignment (2 days each with 2 groups of students, 1 day all home).

The cost of typical disposable surgical style masks that are being handed out in other situations runs between 25-60c per mask. Let’s assume that NYC is only looking to mask up say 37,000 teachers for 144 school days it would come out to 5,328,000 masks and let’s assume again they procure them for a cost at the lower end of the spectrum it works out to roughly 1.3M$. If the year were 180 days instead and the cost per mask was nearer the higher end it jumps to 2.3M$

Why use disposable masks? Well, you don’t have to worry about it being forgotten at home, lost, or stolen like a reusable one. You don’t have to question if it’s been sanitized correctly. You don’t have to worry about it wearing out or breaking requiring a replacement. And so on. But, if you wanted to calculate out reusable, some of the less expensive ones run about 10$ per mask, with 37,000 teachers that’s 370K$ which is significantly less than 1.3M$ assuming only one mask per teacher that is never forgotten, or lost, and is always sanitized, and holds up the entire school year.

Let’s say half of the teachers opt for disposable gloves, so we need to glove up about 18,000. Although a single glove per day isn’t exactly in line with proper use let’s assume it as a starting point for the 144 days noted above, thus requiring 2,592,000 pairs. The latex-free, powder-free gloves run between 5-20c and again we’ll assume they are procured at the lower cost it’s about 52K$. Now if you use gloves correctly and replace them after each potential contamination teachers should be changing them several times a day likely to coincide with each classroom change. If a teacher has four teaching periods for 144 days thats’s now 576 gloves per teacher which works out to 10,368,000 pairs needed for a cost of about 518K$. If you were to require all teachers to wear them and provide them with 5 pairs a day to allow for damage or wearing during non-teaching periods, etc the cost jumps to roughly 5M$.

Let’s also say half the teachers opt for a face shield as well. The basic ones run between 3-5$ per unit so using the same parameters as with gloves we’re looking at 18,000 units for a cost of 54K$. Accounting for all teachers to have access to at least one shield and assuming something closer to the higher end per unit the cost jumps to 185K$

This just covers basic PPE and we’ve already spent between 476K$ and almost 8$ to do it.

We still haven’t accounted for the rest of the school staff or the students, we haven’t tested anyone, or cleaned anything, or accounted for any other preventative measures outside of this basic PPE.

There’s roughly 61,000 support staff according to the DOE. Let’s assume roughly half would return to support in-person learning similar to the teacher situation it would work out to about 30,000 and you can run the same calculations above for masks and possibly for the gloves and PPE depending on what would be made available to them based on their positions.

There’s also roughly 1.1M students. How many will actually return to in-person learning seems to be up for some debate. Different reports have come up with different response rates for return surveys with between 30-55% of families having responded, leaving between 45-60% unknown. Of those who did respond reporting differs on those who intend on being in school to start the year either full or hybrid learning but seems to run between 45-55% saying they would return in some way. Assuming those replies actually scale it would be roughly 550,000 students to cover at 50% returning. Reality is it probably doesn’t scale and is an over-count and there’s probably families who initially said they would return but actually opt out anyhow, so lets work with a half a million for ease of math. Hybrid learning would have them in 2 days a week for a total of 72 days with the balance of their learning done remote, thus requiring 36,000,000 masks, using the same low end 25c per unit above, that’s 9M$.

And, again we haven’t tested anyone, or cleaned anything, or accounted for any other preventative measures outside of this basic PPE and yet we’ve spend upwards of 10M$ on face masks alone just to get some kids back into class rooms some of the time.

For a city, state and Federal Government struggling with budget issues there have got to be better ways to handle the situation than to force students and teachers back into potentially unsafe classrooms.

At this point it’s a political football. No one wants to take the “blame” for closing schools if there’s going to be backlash. But, no one wants to accept the reality that there isn’t an actual plan for how to really move this thing forward either. So, instead of committing to distance learning and putting together the necessary resources to accomplish it, or committing to in-person learning and putting the necessary resources to accomplish it, the DOE, the Unions, the students and their parents, the city, the state and others are trying to plan for a multitude of competing scenarios without having the resources committed to any of them in a meaningful way.

The Unions at least appear to want to force the issue of distance learning for the safety and well being of everyone involved. Meanwhile the NYC DOE has presented a plan coming in at about 30 pages (compared to some upstate districts that are smaller than Richmond County/Staten Island as a borough) publishing 100+ pages of plans.

Anyway, the frustration needs to be mitigated somewhere and that would be food and music

— what I’m listening to —

Had a bit of a 90s retro flashback, for better or worse, it was mostly third wave ska!

the Mighty Mighty Bosstones (entire catalog on mix, not just the classic 90s jams)
the Toasters
the Scofflaws
Spring heeled Jack
Dance Hall Crashers
Operation Ivy
No Doubt
Save ferris
and a random mix that included some not-quite third wave but still ska influenced stuff like Fishbone and Hepcat

— what I ate —

I’ve been back into the “bowl” thing again.

I typically cook with 5 minute grits for most stuff other than the rare occasion I make them or polenta from scratch. At the beginning of the virus we were low on grits and the only thing we could buy was packaged “instant” grits (which, for the record are only half the time of 5-minute grits so it’s not that much more instant than what I usually use)

Anyway, the bowls are usually something like what I’ve known as ‘green grits’ or grits that are cooked with a dark leafy green stirred in, in this case it’s usually frozen spinach, frozen kale or frozen mustard greens depending on what we can get. This is an instant meal, you know.

Then, I add a veggie protien. I prefer the Uptons Naturals or Sweet Earth ones both cooked into the grits during cooking and/or fried crisp on top. I also use the morning star farms veggie sausage patties crushed up, although recent experiments with Pure farmland and Beyond aren’t too bad either, as are the morning star veggie grillers patties.

I have been layering on top of that some kind of other veggie thing depending on what we have leftovers of – grilled asparagus, peppers, onions, broccoli, etc. and then something pickled, either roasted+pickled beets or cukes or onions, pickled jalapenos or regular pickles, etc.

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WFH WTF, the Covid Files, Day 85: education and daycare are not synonymous

Discussions about sending children back to school in the autumn have reached their fever pitch.

Apparently, according to some Trumpublikkkans it is 100% OK to send children back to school this autumn. Trump is threatening to withhold Federal funding from districts that don’t return and is pressuring the CDC to change it’s re-open criteria since he believes it’s too expensive and difficult to follow.

OK, I will give Trump that. He is correct.

The CDC criteria is difficult.

It is going to require students who otherwise find the rigors of structured teaching-to-the-test challenging to also figure out how to safely distance, and wear a mask throughout the day, and wash their hands in bathrooms that usually don’t even have soap and might not always have hot water.

It’s going to be difficult to get custodial staff to deep clean everything nightly when they are rarely given enough cleaning supplies in the first place.

It’s going to be difficult for teachers, administrators and staff to manage their work life and their home lives now being forced to the front line. When budgets are usually so tight they have to supply themselves and students with basic needs, forget about anything above and beyond to deal with the virus. When time off during the educational year is difficult to come by to begin with and now needs to be balanced for covid too.

And, supplying PPE, cleaning supplies and alternative equal education to those who cannot attend is not going to be cheep either.

But, changing the criteria to be even weaker and threatening holding back needed funds is not going to make the situation better. It is going to make it worse!

So, why then are we going back?

Students as a political football. Full stop.

To the Trumpublikkkan rational the only important thing is restarting the economy. OK, so it’s not just the modern GOP, there’s some crazy centrists like DeBlasio on the Democratic side who are focused solely on getting parents back to work.

Not to point out the obvious, but sick people aren’t productive to the broader economy and dead ones are definitely not.

Education is not synonymous with daycare and opening schools needs to be treated as more than just a way for parents to get back to work otherwise we are doing a disservice to the students as well as everyone that interacts with them and potentially prolonging the pandemic related issues overall.

The underlying premise to this notion of having to re-open schools is that children are less likely to be diagnosed with Covid-19 and so far there has not been an established link between children and transmission.

There are a number of issues with this premise.

First and foremost is that children are the least tested group. So we don’t know how many have been exposed to it, and as such we don’t know the true infection rate. That’s because initially only those people with symptoms or had known direct contact with the disease were being tested and most of those with bad symptoms were adults. And, adults made up the highest number of individuals with unique exposure points, like having foreign travel. Then, it expanded as testing materials became more available to include anyone who had potential exposure through a range of known activities, most of which were identified as being workplace related, thus focusing on adults or had a known, underlying health condition who were most likely to also be adults at the time. Most recently to anyone over 18 who wanted one in an area where outbreaks were in the process of occurring should have been able to get a test (although with the merry-go-round of opening and closing testing facilities, backlogging issues at labs, and so on it’s not like a test is still a guarantee).

What this means is the sample set is heavily biased to begin with and an important part of that bias lies in the inability to get children tested in general. Many local and State health boards had already said this was an issue previously and the CDC restated it again recently.

Thus, making assumptions on a flawed data set is problematic, at best. We don’t know the actual childhood infection rate. And, thus we don’t know the childhood hospitalization and death rates either. We do know however, that although the raw numbers are lower, they are NOT zero. Children DO incur bad cases that end up hospitalized and they do die. For all those pro-lifers, and all those all loves matter to ignore this is mind-boggling to me as one would think protecting every innocent child at all costs would be their first-and-foremost priority and yet they aren’t the ones leading the protest against reckless openings.

In early outbreak areas throughout New York and New Jersey, as well as internationally, particularly in hard hit areas like Italy, England and Spain, there were clusters of under-18 hospitalizations and deaths by positive test patients. Although they are a small fraction of the known deaths in those areas (somewhere between 1-3% of total attributed deaths depending on the source data) they are still deaths. If we quickly look at the other top ten causes of death according to the CDC and average the under-18 mortality rate across them, the Covid rate works out to be in-line or higher than the normal under-18 mortality rate, meaning kids are dying of covid similar to how they would die from other typical things they could die from.

If we take into account some of the “underlying conditions” that are supposed to make the disease more deadly for adults and look at the breakdowns for children, especially middle and high school youths, you find that respiratory system issues (especially asthema), autoimmune issues, obesity where it affects cardiopulmonary function, and more are quite common (at least at similar rates to corresponding adults). So, it stands to reason that if these issues are problematic in relation to the disease in general that should carry over to kids. And, many, if not most of these issues are in full or at least in part hereditary or influenced by the environment, and not “personal choices” kids make in having a underlying condition as a child. No kid, just like not adult, asks to be born with a predisposition to cardiopulmonary problems or get asthema so let’s dispel this notion that having an underlying condition is somehow the person’s fault.

We don’t know about the affects of post-illness trauma either. This is important

What’s more is it is not just the direct effects of Covid-19 that children might need to be watched for. Paediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome Temporally associated with SARS-CoV-2 (PIMS-TS), Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), and a number of other still being studied autoimmune responses to Covid-19 exist and children exposed to Covid are suffering or dead because of it.

Nevermind, we still don’t know the long term effects of exposure to Covid-19 for anyone. Early studies suggest there could be longer term-to-potentially permanent lung damage even to those who were asymptomatic when reviewing lung CTs, blood saturation levels, and other markers. Another set of studies reviewing the cardiocerebral effects of the disease suggest that not only symptomatic patience can experience strokes and other degeneration of the CNS but that there can be asymptomatic damage to otherwise healthy individuals including children. This, of course will require additional peer-reviewed work to further validate at what rate this actually occurs but the early data is more than just passively suggestive that post-infection issues can be a lasting concern, thus making this much more than just about death, or even immediate hospitalization.

Finally, and most importantly, we don’t know if and how children are vectors for the disease, particularly asymptomatically.

There’s a lot of assumptions being made that children are not vectors and that’s just not supported by the data yet. When reviewing the limited data that is available for adults asymptomatic spread is uneven, at best, but more often than not appears to point to very strong correlation between individuals who appeared to be at the time asymptomatic at the time of spread but became at least somewhat symptomatic later. Because the infection-to-symptom window can range between 7 and 20 days (14 seems to still be the generally accepted target) there’s a lot of asymptomatic time someone could be a vector. If and when symptoms, even minimal-to-mild occur, the window continues to remain open, so someone appearing to be effectively asymptomatic because their symptoms are un-or-miss diagnosed could still be a vector. This window is a bit more uneven because of the nature of the disease, making assumptions on how long someone is potentially a spreader anywhere from three to thirty days depending on what seems like both the individual and the ability of the medical community to effective track these cases (meaning the data set is skewed anyhow).

And, that’s part of the point, the data is vastly incomplete, especially for asymptomatic vectors. Contact Tracing in other countries is much more accurate than the US because of how difficult it is to get Americans to cooperate. One needs only look at the Rockland NY “infection party” and Michigan Harper’s Restaurant situations are two recent examples of incomplete contact tracing creating excessively incomplete data sets for understanding how the disease effectively spreads. If we don’t have a good grasp on it for adults, and we have more data for adults, then it’s nearly impossible to make such an assumption for children where the data is even more incomplete.

Anecdotally, supporters of reopening will point to schools that were slow in closing having low infection rates. However, it’s very important to remember testing was excessively difficult to come by in those heavy outbreak areas in the spring so there’s not really a lot known about the real rate itself. However, for example, the NYC DOE experienced nearly 100 deaths within teachers and support staff during that time and there were several outbreaks in buildings where students ended up in the hospitals. These were overshadowed by the massive death tolls affecting parts of Queens and in elder care facilities which became headlines. Texas, North Carolina and Oregon all had childcare center outbreaks that infected students, works and families as the infection numbers also climbed in those states through their “re-openings.” Several summer schools in the south reported isolated incidents with students and staff before the recent uptick in caseloads as well.

And, that’s getting to some of the point:

Sending children back to school creates touch-points for others in the community since schools aren’t just make up of children.

Schools, of course, include teachers. Did you know the average age of a teacher in the United States is over 40? In no state is it under 40 but several are pushing 50 according to a recent NCES study and other research done by the NYTimes. This puts teachers in the at-risk threshold for the disease just by average age without taking into account any other conditions for themselves. If the average teacher is similar to the average adult population it also means that somewhere around one in five also probably have some other pre-existing condition that can make them more susceptible.

Schools, of course, also include classroom aides and related in-school professions for IEP, ELL, and a wide range of other educational and classroom support needs. The numbers are a bit more difficult to come by, but from some union materials the average age of these professionals is also around 40. It’s not as well broken down by jurisdiction but the data seems to suggest a similar spread to traditional teachers.

Schools also include administrators. And, as I’m sure you can deduce based on the above that the average age is closer to 50 nationally with, again, no state, averaging below 40.

Schools require a wide range of daytime support staff. Nurses, Law Enforcement, Cafeteria staff, that are part of day-to-day operations with close contact with the children, plus janitorial staff, grounds keepers, building engineers and others that help keep the physical properties prepared. And, that’s not even getting into transportation, after-school programs, sports and clubs and the rest of the touch-points in which care of students occurs from the time a parent drops off till they pick up. Bet you could’t guess within the available limited data what the average ages of these workers are? Yep, right around that 40-50 range again as I tallied up the plethora of different resources I found, although, I’ll admit the data is sparse and inconsistent, it does “feel” right based on experience.

This is no longer just about how students potentially infect one another.

It’s about how students potentially infect the people charged with caring for them.

It’s about how the students might infect their own loved ones and bring the disease back into their own communities.

It’s about how the people charged with caring for them might infect students.

It’s about how the people charged with caring for them might infect one another.

It’s about how the people charged with caring for them might infect their own loved ones and bring the disease back into their own communities.

And, those last points are immensely underrated and overlooked.

Teachers and the rest of school staffs have families. An outbreak has a cascade effect that isn’t just isolated to what occurs within the student population. It is going to be felt with the teachers, the support staff, the admins, the janitors and all of their families and all of their communities. And, ALL of these people deserve to have their voices heard in this. They NEED their requirements met in order to do their jobs safely and effectively.

Any outbreak that occurs would put schools in an immediate position to close in order to protect the rest of the staff and community.

Consider how schools and daycares are already considered outbreak centers for varicella-zoster virus, influenza A H-series, and others all of which typically do have both vaccines and have established Hospice or Therapeutic Treatments that not only affect students but are easily spread among staff and it’s easy to see how Covid if un-prevented could also use schools, in general, as a vector.

What’s worse, then, I ask — bouncing kids between in-person learning and home-schooling as outbreaks inevitably flair up or giving kids some sense of continuity that will likely last through this coming school year if not into the next based on known anti-virus abilities in both medical immunization and rolling herd immunity?

Especially since children are not stupid. They are going to eventually learn why a family member, or a teacher, or someone else they cared for in the system got sick or died. Probably sooner rather than later since the facts cannot be hidden at scale. And, then what? Are we going to socially, at-scale, deal with mass educator-related illness and death?

If you believe that having kids at home struggling with their educations is bad, what’s it going to be like to explain to them why their favorite teacher isn’t coming back. Considering how poorly time off by teachers is handled systemically for pregnancy and bereavement there is no way the system is prepared for outbreak related illness or death within educator ranks. Budgets are already being cut eliminating necessary social workers, and substitute teachers, and related support staff, so when teachers and others involved in the schools that are reopened inevitably get sick and potentially die the system will be ill equipped to handle that. It’s going to be several times worse at dealing with childhood illness and death too.

We are doing a great disservice to our students by forcing them back before the system is ready, willing and able to handle them. Not only for their own health but for the health and well being of those who are charged with babysitting, errr, sorry, educating them.

I don’t have an answer (well, I might, but it’s a completely separate post) but anyone supporting DeVos, or Trump, or anyone else prioritizing school openings as a way to get parents back to work and the economy functional again, and not actively providing ample financial offsets to the system in the way of increased health care access for every touchpoint, increased technology to support every variation of testing, better conditions for students AND staff on and hopefully off caumpus and more all I want to say is Fuck You.

My padawan deserve better than the shit situation you want to force them into ad younglings. My partner as and educator deserves better. I fucking deserve better as a parent who works too.

What I’ve been listening to:

I wanted to do a school and education playlist here, but the only thing that resonates in my mind is New Edition’s S-C-H-O-O-L You got to go to school and beat that bell that I used to sing to my own padawan in their hurry up dancing to the car.

Instead I listened to Tears for Fears, 80s synth Rush and Genesis (by the way, Phil Collins I’m calling bullshit with “My generation will put it right. We’re not just making promises that we know, we’ll never keep.”) and Madonna.

The padawan has taken a shine to Living Colour (Cult of Personality and Times Up are literal show stoppers here: everyone instantly moshes hard. Gotta start somewhere) and Run DMC (Mary Mary, Walk this Way and a fan lyric version of Proud to be Black)

What I ate:

We got a load of out-of-the-ground beets the other day. They were dirty as fuck mud on the floor everywhere. And, we didn’t even order them…

I cut the stems and leaves off and cleaned them with our veggie spray, warm water and a lot of vigorous gimme good bitter leaves angst.

The stems I mostly set aside in hopes I could sneak them in with celery for the occasional ants on a log peanut butter with raisins fiasco but also because they are good when fresh in an even better than celery way of crispy is.

All the leaves I julienned. I took some mixed lettuce we had and spread it in (3 or maybe 4:1 beet greens to field mix) and hit the entire thing with a quick dash of Old Bay seasoning and rice wine vinegar (this all helps give a breakdown to the tougher so called bitter leaves of the beets)

I diced the beet stems with celery. Put together a mix of roasted sunflower and roasted pumpkin seeds. Toasted up some local sourdough we got at the farmers market and diced it into croutons and some local seitan bacon i crisped up on the skillet.

Finally, tossed the entire thing with a local made blue cheese and Grey Poupon dijon mustard. You’re probably saying WTF dude, don’t you hate blue cheese. Yes, I do. In this context finished with fresh cracked pepper and romano cheese it’s fantastic at balancing the wild flavors abound

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