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    Thoughtworthy (Spring Training 2020, New Episode & a Confession)

    April 17, 2020 by Brandy Vencel

    :: 1 ::

    Registration for the Scholé Sisters 2020 Spring Training Seminar is now open!

    I can’t tell you guys how excited we are about this. Mystie and I met with Steven Rummelsburg yesterday and it was amazing. Last years’ Spring Training with Eric Hall was basically Classical Education 101. Steven Rummelsburg is going to build on the foundation Eric laid last year with three sessions:

    1. Science (5/11): Without clarity about what truly is, any intellectual or moral endeavor is doomed. We are in dire need of a recovery of true science as a prerequisite to having great conversations. In this week we will compare two world views that are incompatible with one another. The shocking truth is that most souls of good will unwittingly try to make a hybrid of the two worldviews and inevitably disintegration follows.
    2. Art (5/18): There are many different kinds of art, but art as a genus is “a fixed procedure, established by reason such that human acts achieve their due ends by the proper means.” After acquiring the principles of truth in accord with our nature that lead to intellectual and moral virtue, we can focus on the liberal arts as another prerequisite to having great conversations. The trivium is of general concern here, but literacy as an art is essential to the fruitful conversations concerning the classics.  
    3. Nature (5/25): Finally clarifying the distinctions between what we know (science) what we are to do (art) and what inevitably follows (nature), we will be in a position to properly prepare our homes for edifying and fruitful discussions. C.S. Lewis explains in his principle of first and second things that if we put second things first and first things second, we will lose both first and second thing. However, if we put first things first, we will get second things thrown in to boot. Attributes of a great conversation are second things, the intellectual and moral arts and sciences are first things. If we take great care with the first things, the second things will follow as an apple grows from a tree.

    As we dig deeply into what science, art, and nature truly are, we’ll have the mental categories we need to wrap our minds around this thing called education. I can’t wait!

    Spring Training is included with a Sistership Sophie level membership, but you can also register for it separately.

    :: 2 ::

    The latest episode from Scholé Sisters:

    In which Mystie, Abby, and I discuss an article AND make a special announcement.

    :: 3 ::

    Read aloud confession time:

    I bought the book Where the World Ends and showed a photo of it on Instagram and declared I was going to read it aloud to my kids (who are 5th-12th grade, if you’ve forgotten). Well … I started it. My husband questioned me on it a few chapters in and so I looked up some more thorough reviews and decided it really wasn’t appropriate for fifth graders, after all.

    I dropped it and replaced it with The Lonesome Gods, which I could have sworn I’d already done aloud, but my children say no, so that’s what we’re doing.

    :: 4 ::

    This month in 2019:

    Nature Study in Suburbia: An Un-wild Approach was written as a response to something I was seeing at the time: guilt over not living in the country. It reminded me a bit of the story Charlotte Mason tells about Eyes and No-Eyes going for a walk. In suburbia, there is a lot to see … if you have eyes for it.

    :: 5 ::

    Podcast episode of the week:

    • Dr. Berkson’s Best Health Radio:Super Human: Aging Backwards with Bulletproof’s Dave Asprey
      • Usually, health podcasts retell the same old stuff everyone knows, but Dave Asprey is the kind of guest who has all sorts of interesting things up his sleeve you’ve never heard of before. What can I say? It was fun to listen to!
      • I bought the book. In my defense, I needed another health book for my 5×5 challenge. Also in my defense: I found his stuff interesting. This doesn’t mean I actually want to live to be 180 or whatever it is Asprey has as his goal.

    :: 6 ::

    This week’s links collection:

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    32 Comments

  • Reply tess April 23, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    I’d never heard of that book before! Sounds fascinating. 🙂 Your radon story hooked me, because we’re close to one of those American radon fissures and almost everyone gets their foundations tested.

    Our local hospitals are in financial trouble, too, with several systems furloughing employees at this point. Interestingly, if you read the professional literature, the medical community in most places is expressing deep concern about the looming medical crisis among non-COVID patients. “Non-emergent” or “elective” surgery is not synonymous with unnecessary, and there are a number of people whose need for care has been greatly aggravated by their lack of access to it. So it looks like unless they are in a metropolitan area with an actual shortage of PPE, a lot of medical systems are ready to move into a new model for care that will address this emergent threat (which is currently happening in Italy, if I understand correctly).

    Regarding vitamin C, I would stick with bowel tolerance unless there was an express reason to do something different (like a severe or worsening infection that had you concerned). When you’re doing oral C especially, there’s a limit to how much your body can process at one time, so BT indicates that absorption limit. Most people get better absorption taking small doses frequently rather than mega doses once or twice. A long time ago we used to carry a chewable C-250 with rutin/bioflavanoids that was ideal for this kind of dosing, but typically the smallest you can find nowadays is 500. Obviously there are some contraindications, like pregnancy or blood-thinner usage and stuff like that, but that said, I’ve known people who freaked out when they could take 6-8g or more before hitting BT, lol.

    There are a number of different immune/anti-viral strategies, but something to look into (especially since it appears to be enhanced when taken with C) is L-lysine. I don’t know of any recent studies that eludicate the biochemical pathway, but our clinical experience indicates it’s particularly good with viruses that have a neurological component. Whether that’s because of neuro-protective effects, or some sort of anti-viral pathway, I’m not sure. My hunch is that it does something in regards to activating dormant/latent viruses. (I’ll have to tell you about “The Mystery Virus of 2011” sometime, lol.)

  • Reply Katie April 19, 2020 at 2:30 pm

    I was disappointed with Where the World Ends. I love McCaughrean’s writing, but this book was let down by her focus on religious hypocrisy without any characters demonstrating religious sincerity. It ends up that all religion is painted as hypocritical: not the message I want to be sending my children. It’s a shame, because I loved the idea of this story. I can think of other writers who are merciless about religious hypocrisy e.g. Sir Walter Scott, but who don’t fall into the trap of appearing to write off all religious views as mere formalism. I don’t think this was the first of her books in which this was a concern for me, though I can’t remember off-hand which other ones they were.

    I find American attitudes to coronavirus fascinating (I’m British). Here it’s interesting: surveys apparently suggest that people are starting seriously to worry about the economy, yet the population is still massively supportive of the lockdown measures. It might be falling a bit now, but public support for the government seems to have been higher during lockdown than it has been for years and years and years. In the first week of lockdown, I didn’t hear anyone at all apart from my DH asking the question of whether the economic cost would be worth paying – all the media were completely silent on that, and right behind the lockdown measures. I guess it helps that we don’t have a constitution in the way that the US does, so no-one needs to worry about whether it’s being upheld or not. 🙂

    • Reply Lynette April 19, 2020 at 9:06 pm

      We have constitutionS. Every state gets their own!! ? And most people have no idea what they say. It’s been pretty enlightening for people in my home state to learn that their governor actually does have the power to shut things down in an emergency. Nobody reads that document! I think more have been reading it now though so there’s that. ? (I personally appreciate that many people are getting a slightly better education on what powers our national government DOESN’T have, but anyway…)

      I do think how you view these things is extremely dependent upon where you live and what you can see right in front of you. I was pretty dismissive of those complaining about government overreach at first, but then I realized there has been some overreach in certain areas (no singing in church live-streams? Drive-thru liquor stores are okay but not drive-up church? I mean I’m not a fan of drive-up church but still).

      All the same, I’ve been annoyed by some people who complain about government overreach and they have absolutely nothing to be complaining about. I know they argue you have to speak up early before they completely take over… but also hollering when you have nothing to holler about doesn’t inspire people to listen to you more closely. Using all of that energy to fight against the virus as the actual enemy and help one another would be far more beneficial. (I know someone will argue with me here, but try to believe me when I say that they’re doing well and so is everyone around them. They’re just watching certain news channels).

      But what do we expect? Our leadership is truly a mess on the whole. I don’t think they’re organized or unified enough to figure out how to actually do much of anything in the way of suppressing the people anyway. ?? (Also, the founding fathers designed that inefficiency into the system. ?) But then there’s California. Sometimes Brandy’s political comments bother me a little as well,? and then I remember she’s looking through a California lens. ???

      • Reply Brandy Vencel April 20, 2020 at 11:41 am

        Thanks for having compassion on a citizen of the People’s Republic of California. 😉 We already had to fire one employee this year due to California making her job illegal, and I’ve seen that compounded across many, many other businesses. So then to have over 3m people here lose their jobs in just the past few weeks has me weeping for these families. I just ran the new numbers. The infection rate in our county is currently 0.07% and the death rate in those cases is 0.48%. Regardless of how everyone implores me to think otherwise, our hospitals are functioning fine and even furloughing employees because there is nothing to do. If the whole point was to keep hospitals from overload, that has more than been accomplished. In the meantime, about a thousand people are losing their jobs PER WEEK so far. This is horrific to me. We try so hard here to have a thriving economy when the state government works against us at every turn. My heart breaks for these families.

        I think it’s beneficial overall that there IS inefficiency built into the system, but here there is a Democractic supermajority that rules with an iron fist and (recently legalized) ballot harvesting that makes the fraud that perpetuates this hard to defeat. (Though it I hope it will help that after the last election, one lawsuit resulted in the removal of 1.5 MILLION fradulent voter registrations — but of course “they” had already voted and we must live witht he results a while longer). There is nothing inefficient about California … unless you count wasting billions and billions of dollars (Over $77b so far) on a train to no where that no one wants and likely few will use (if they ever finish it, which I doubt).

        By the way, I really love that each state has its own Constitution. I have a feeling each regional personality is expressed in it somehow. Someday, after my children graduate and I will supposedly have more free time, I’d like to read them all and get to know them.

        • Reply Lynette April 20, 2020 at 12:53 pm

          Oooh. I love the idea of reading all the state constitutions! That’s brilliant!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel April 20, 2020 at 1:51 pm

      Katie, this is very interesting to me about Where the World Ends! And also very sad. I have often thought of her as a modern Rosemary Sutcliff, so this makes me sad. 🙁

      I will still probably read the book, but on my own time.

      Thank you for sharing about what is going on in your own country! I find it interesting, how each country and even region within a country can differ in their thoughts on all of this.

      Years ago, I read a book called The English Constitution. It wasn’t until about halfway through that I realized you didn’t have a written Constitution!

      • Reply Lucy barr-hamilton April 20, 2020 at 2:19 pm

        Also in UK… I was just imagining a group of Brits getting together and writing a constitution now. And I laughed wryly to myself. I’m not sure we Brits agree on anything. Look at brexit!

  • Reply Margaret Taylor April 18, 2020 at 7:37 pm

    This is an interesting conversation seen from afar. As an Australian I am so glad our Prime Minister Scott Morrison forged ahead with our own policies of implementing protection from Covid 19 before the WHO acknowledged its pandemic potential. He would have had other information that alerted the Australian authorities of the risk of this virus.
    The Italian health system is acknowledged to have difficulties…but my American friends your health system has a few of its own. Admittedly there are pockets of excellence that serve its patients well but not all Americans. I have friends that are doctors in the US constantly confronted by their inability to adequately treat conditions and prevent deterioration by simply investigations and procedures because of your insurance system or the lack thereof. Conditions that in Australia would be treated immediately to maintain the patients health and reduce the future economic burden. The news reports of your health system are scary, I so appreciate our own health care system. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2U4DAQ3kjRs This website is recommended by one of the doctors I work for and it gives quite balanced information…yes it even comes from the States:)
    There are so many aspects of this virus we don’t know yet, such as long term effects especially on the lungs, the reinfection rate, and the lack of immunity that this represents. We cant be sloppy about understanding how contagious it is…it is not like influenza.
    Of course it is very easy to make comments and express opinions when you haven’t suffered from the condition, your family has been devastated and you know longer have an income.
    The movement from isolation is challenging, yes I am chafing at being restricted however I am glad to be alive, no we don’t have an income but are able to survive. We need to trust that prevention will succeed as a cure is not an imminent answer or worth holding out for, we can survive a few more weeks. https://arxiv.org/pdf/2003.10218v2.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3tbNXdYX5tcjGWC9Ew9iBEWRSJwAWVPpU9KgfB736ev8D5-zeATNC5e7c
    Of course I look at this through the lens of a health professional, I am appalled at some of the information that is being sprouted. My libertarian friends (we don’t have the libertarian label in Australia but they express the same ideas:)keep talking about the tyranny of quarantine but their underlying concern is not having an income, as their health is unaffected and they don’t think they are at risk.
    Sorry I hope this not to offensive…I think I have to tell some American readers that what we see on the news and in articles is that the US looks very messy(so many deaths and confusion) and we hope that it will improve…
    I hope your Spring Training goes well it looks like a very informative program.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel April 20, 2020 at 11:57 am

      Yes, our health care system became increasingly unworkable under Obama and many very good insurance plans were made illegal. Prices for insurance skyrocket, and the poor and self-employed suffered most. I have friends (cancer patients) who are getting much better care now that there are better plans beginning to be available. I hope it continues to improve. But honestly, when my Aussie friends send me articles about the US they so alarmist that it makes me laugh.

      I’m not sure what you mean by “prevention will succeed as a cure.” We have still have lots of traffic between here and Mexico so our country’s policies won’t even matter in an ultimate sense, at least not here in California. The purpose of prevention was to “not overwhelm the hospitals.” That is what we were told again and again. In the vast majority of states, we have succeeded. I gave the local stats above, but I’ll give them again: The infection rate in our county is currently 0.07% and the death rate in those cases is 0.48%. It’s probably because of the hydroxychloriquine + zpack.

      Hospital workers are becoming unemployed because there is no work for them. But you know what will affect long term health here? Poverty.

      By the way, I keep saying “my county” — I think a lot of people out of state (or country, in your case ♥) don’t realize the magnitude of my state. My *county* is about the size of the *state* of New Hampshire (though it less densely population and has about half a million fewer people) and bigger in size than the six smallest US states.

      Oh! One more thing: I’m really enjoying reading through all the comments here, including yours. You don’t have to worry about offending here — I want Afterthoughts to be a place where people can talk without fear.

      • Reply Lucy barr-hamilton April 20, 2020 at 2:30 pm

        A couple of thoughts I’ve been thinking about.

        I’m very glad we’re locked down for this reason: it gives the vulnerable (because of health) a way to stay out of danger without losing their job. Imagine if lock down ends and those with vulnerable health are forced to go back to work.

        My husband is tetraplegic from a rugby spinal injury when he was 16. We don’t know how vulnerable he is to covid19 but we also don’t want to know and we want the protection of the state which says that he can’t go into work at the moment. I see that your country is not affected but your workers who have vulnerable health are protected and that’s good for them. My husband is taking a funeral tomorrow, there wasn’t much choice, but we’d both really rather he wasn’t having to put himself at risk like this and it’s good when we can protect the weak.

        My second thought is like the above Australian thought. We have free healthcare that is of an incredible standard in the UK and it’s amazing. The US system absolutely baffles me!

        • Reply Brandy Vencel April 21, 2020 at 3:01 pm

          Thank you for sharing this! This perspective: “it gives the vulnerable (because of health) a way to stay out of danger without losing their job” is one I haven’t heard expressed before and I think that was helpful.

          Honestly, if oil stays even close to where it is, very few near me will have a job at all. Yesterday’s plunge was devastating for our community.

      • Reply Margaret Taylor April 20, 2020 at 7:17 pm

        Oh dear I see my poor punctuation has let me down, I meant that we have to look to prevention to save lives, as a cure is not imminent. This is one of the simplest principles of health care.
        I can see there is an enormous cultural divide. Our countries are so very different. I know you are referring to your county that is within your state, and not your country. 🙂 Your state is half the the size of the state of New South Wales where I live. Yep Americans have no idea how big Australia is! There are vast areas that are unaffected by the virus however should travel recommence this becomes a risk because the virus is so contagious. I think your state has one of the lowest testing rates so perhaps there is more Covid 19 than is documented.
        What really surprises me is the lack of social cohesiveness and cooperation in the US! All levels of government in Australia, Federal, State and Local are working together to bring about a united effort in protecting people and saving life. And they mixed from both sides of the political spectrum. Compliance with social isolation is approximately 90% in Australia. There are some differences in educational choices, some states have schools open for children to attend now that holidays have finished. I can see the risk for social control, we do have something of a nanny state here… this becomes apparent when one travels overseas! Few Australians have a clue about our constitution and what it entails … but this homeschooling mother has educated her children? Our democracy works somewhat differently and checks and balances were carefully woven into our parliamentary procedures and constitution. For myself and many Australians, the American obsession with independence, rights to have arms and the constitution is well… weird. Imagine buying guns being considered an essential along side buying food! Now I am saying these things with that laid back smiling Aussie demeanour 🙂
        All these interesting differences add flavour to life. Do you think that life will be as it was before or has it irrevocably changed? Perhaps you are less affected by change where you are. I can see that many aspects of life will change… much of it around community hygiene practices, shopping centres, especially travel and border practices. Universities are very dependent on overseas paying students, and industry on overseas manufacturing. I think there will be more built in safety nets in businesses and a growth in local industry. All those distillers are now making hand sanitiser who knows what will happen next:)

        • Reply Brandy Vencel April 21, 2020 at 3:21 pm

          Ha ha! Don’t worry about the punctuation. You make sense now! 😉

          Sorry — I wasn’t directing that at you. I *knew* that if anyone would understand, it’d be an Aussie! The scale of Australia is amazing to me.

          I will be curious if you’re right. So far, the only antibody testing that has come back is for the Santa Clara area, and while it did lower the death rate quite a bit (I think more than halved it), it was disconcerting because it actually proved that 95% of the people *hadn’t* had the virus yet. Well, IF that is what antibody testing really means. I know there is some debate over how it all works with a coronavirus. I’ll be curious what happens later this week because I think the initial antibody testing out of LA should see if that holds true for our biggest city.

          It is so interesting to read your observations about America! We really *are* a very independent people. I find that to be true even among people who advocate for what we call “bigger government.” It’s possible some of your thoughts here are pinpointing the republican nature of our Government? The federal government has grown quite a bit since the beginning, but it is still true what our constitution says, that ALL rights not expressly given to the feds are reserved to the states. So each state very much has its own personality, culture, and government (even though the US Constitution does require each state’s government to have a republican form).

          I am aware that most other countries are baffled by our gun ownership. Honestly, I am baffled by NOT owning guns (I mean as a people, not as an individual choice) because to me that leaves all the power in the hands of government officials. I love the idea that American registered hunters are technically the largest army in the world. And of course, not all gun owners are hunters so who knows what the actual number is. I consider it a protection. But I know we are seen as weird. I am okay with that. 😉

          As far as life changing: I don’t know? What do YOU think? To me the combination of this and the drop in oil now makes things worse and less likely to recover quickly. I was hoping the price would bounce today, but so far it’s still terrible. I think learning to adapt is such a human thing and sometimes beautiful things come out of it. I’ve enjoyed seeing business people getting creative, like a gym I know of that didn’t have to fire all their employees (at least for now) because they rented out all their equipment to their members. Trump closed the border yesterday, so that’s something. A LOT of strange diseases end up in our city because of traffic to and from Mexico, so that was smart I think. But only for now. We can’t live that way forever, and there are people in our neighborhood who will want to see family again at some point.

          I was just starting to think about the universities today. It’s unsettling to be trying to launch a child this summer when this is going on, but I keep reminding myself that facing hard times is good for him, too, and what better time than when you are young and healthy? It is harder on the weak and elderly, of course.

  • Reply Kansas Mom April 17, 2020 at 9:04 am

    I have to agree that the Townhall opinion piece seems flawed.

    Covid 19 is not behaving like a regular flu season. The CDC reports 20 deaths of influenza per million in 2017 in the United States (which includes part of the 2017-2018 flu season, which turned out to be a bad one). As of April 17th, using yesterday’s numbers, the Worldometer website is showing deaths per million for the US at 105. This number is not dependent on the number of tests we run. It’s a comparison of the known infections resulting in death to the total number of people who live in the US. Even if the social distancing or stay-at-home orders are not altering the infection or death rates in the United States at all (and I will admit I think they are), this epidemic is still much worse than a regular flu season.

    I also think it’s disingenuous to claim that countries like Sweden are going about business as usual; they have a stay-at-home order like most other European countries. There are differences in how countries are responding and that is one of many complicating factors in assessing the impact of Covid and measures to combat it. Other factors include the age of the population (northern Italy’s population is much older than Sweden’s) and cultural differences (people in Sweden are more likely to live alone as opposed to multi-generation families in out countries). I think if we’re going to have an honest discussion, we have to be more nuanced.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel April 17, 2020 at 2:57 pm

      The death rate in my county is 0.5%. It actually IS less serious than the flu here, and by far! In one county east of us, it is literally ZERO percent. Hardly anyone catches it there, and no one gets sick. But you know what? We are suffering anyhow. Small businesses are closing in droves, which means landlords will be bankrupted in time. It’s destroyed an economy that already suffers greatly under the current leadership and the ability of families to provide for their children. I think nuance allows me to say that it is ridiculous to have closed in a bunch of healthy people when, for whatever reason, it is not hitting our area with severity at all. If we do the math using the numbers found in the preliminary antibody testing out of Santa Clara Country, the actual death rate is just over one TENTH of one percent.

      I agree with you that the claim about Sweden was inaccurate, by the way. It’s hard to compare populations, in general. Italy’s health care system has been a disaster for a very long time, so the idea that they were overwhelmed by this surprised no one.

      • Reply Kansas Mom April 17, 2020 at 8:27 pm

        I do not envy the governors making these decisions. If they close everything down, they are blamed for all the economic losses. If they don’t close anything down, or close some but not everything, and then there are deaths, they are blamed for all of those.

        What we’d really like to do is compare the number of people ill and dying now with the number that would have become ill or died without any closures, but that’s impossible. We’ll never know what might have been.

        I think what I’d like to see is more discussion of taking action so that we can be as safe as possible (since I believe the virus is indeed dangerous, and that your blessedly low infection and death rates are because your county has yet to be infiltrated by the virus) when we open businesses again. This article from the MIT Technology Review seemed to be more even than most of what I see. (Haley Stewart shared this in her newsletter.)

        https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/04/08/998785/stop-covid-or-save-the-economy-we-can-do-both/?fbclid=IwAR0Z37Zyd733dVQV7lnAsXnTpYXibRfsR6iX6m5Howy92q7I19BH7ybRG_8

        Part of the problem is that our news sources are so terrible. I feel like I can’t find anything that is even trying to be fair or balanced, from either left-leaning or right-leaning. It makes it very difficult for people who are looking at the question from different points of view to even find common reference points.

        • Reply tess April 18, 2020 at 9:51 am

          KansasMom– I’m very picky with my news sources for the reasons that you mention. Something I’ve found really helpful and interesting the past few weeks is to peruse primary sources on sites like PubMed, which have special links for emerging case studies, as well as lots of other related studies on virology in general or even studies on other recent emerging coronaviruses like MERS and SARS. Other sites, like NEJM and Lancet among others, have also lowered their paywall to more easily share emerging research on SARS-Cov-2. I’ve found a number of science and statistics websites that report only numbers and statistics, without interpretation, which is also really useful, especially if you like playing around with those statistics on Excel! (I admit I’ve had to break out the stat textbook for a refresher…)

          It’s not what we usually talk about in terms of Schole, but it certainly is a way to keep expanding our educations. 🙂 And I’ve found it empowering to not be dependent on secondary sources to interpret primary sources.

      • Reply Andrea April 19, 2020 at 8:33 am

        The death rate for Covid-19 is 5-10 times higher than for the flu among those up to age 40, and more than 12 times higher for those over age 85. The death rate for the flu is about 0.1% so even your county’s low death rate is five times higher than the flu. Am I misunderstanding something about what you’re saying? You could find these numbers in many places on the internet, but here’s a start from a source that is business motivated – https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-compared-seasonal-flu-in-the-us-death-rates-2020-3

        I, too, like Jen who commented below, disagree with you deeply on these and many other political issues and see the closures as a fundamental wartime-level necessity. This isn’t going to go away. It IS going to come to smaller and rural communities like yours. What we do now affects whether our health care system can handle the burden well enough to save lives both now and later. The death rate has varied tenfold depending on whether hospitals have been overwhelmed or not – even within the same country, depending on how many people have been sick at once. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/18/health/coronavirus-america-future.html?action=click&module=Spotlight&pgtype=HomepageYou
        You can criticize Italy’s health care system, but Italy has more doctors per capita and more hospital beds per capita than the US. And here’s a different perspective on what’s happening in Sweden: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/19/anger-in-sweden-as-elderly-pay-price-for-coronavirus-strategy

        • Reply Brandy Vencel April 20, 2020 at 11:14 am

          I haven’t had time to read through all these comments yet, but I just wanted to clarify: I do not live in a “smaller rural community.” I live in a city of almost half a million people.

          • Andrea April 21, 2020 at 2:57 pm

            Gotcha, sorry! I knew it was a big county, but thought you were in a rural area – I was remembering your goats 🙂 That seems like all the more reason to take this really seriously! Population density seems to be one of the biggest factors affecting the rates.

            Another factor I don’t believe the Reopen movement is taking seriously enough is the safety of health care workers. When my own state put our stay-at-home order in place, NO ONE had PPE. The wife of the ER doctor down the street was sending out desperate pleas over our neighborhood social network that if anyone had surgical masks, they would share them with her husband. My friend who’s an oncologist was feeling terrible that she had to meet with patients with leukemia who were on radiation or chemo, with no mask on – so unsafe for her patients – simply because there were no masks. I think we can all agree that we can never put ourselves in this situation again, relying on other countries for basic essential medical equipment. Anyway, I am certain that in my own area protecting health care workers is a big part of the motivation behind our shut-down.

          • Brandy Vencel April 23, 2020 at 9:16 am

            Ha. You remembered the goats and then had to realize I was just a nut keeping goats in the city. 😉 In my defense, I live on the edge of town and have a third of an acre in the back. 😉

            I believe the state governments are supposed to make sure that there are masks for times of crisis? It seems like if there was a shortage that would point to lack of preparation? I don’t know. I always have a couple large boxes of N95 masks in my house to prevent Valley Fever, the spores of which are on the air in our wind storms, but we still have to go out and deal with animals, so I make the family wear them. I know that is weird local culture, though, and not something to be expected elsewhere.

            Of course, I should talk. Governor Newsom spent a billion dollars on masks and now people are calling for an investigation into that purchase, so who knows.

            Our local health care providers are calling for an end to the shutdown, and one reason is that they don’t want to be furloughed with all the hospitals empty like this.

  • Reply Jen @ Bookish Family April 17, 2020 at 6:15 am

    I hope blog readers, homeschoolers, and schole sisters are reading more than just right-wing news sources like the ones you are citing. If this pandemic results in a U.S. death toll comparable to the flu a few years back after extreme social distancing than all of this was worth it as it would have been catastrophic without it. Maybe readers don’t know of people with covid 19 yet, but I do. These are not people who would be on death’s door due to influenza but are on ventilators right now. The Townhall article was labeled “opinion” for a reason. Most scientists seem to disagree with that Israeli professor and don’t believe that we are experiencing a “lower-risk epidemic.” I don’t feel that my Governor in PA is overstepping and I am happy to do whatever I can to keep my community safe. During WW2 my grandmothers worked, raised money for the war effort, and forewent many luxury items to help us win the war over a mulit-year period. I hope that I can teach my children that it is patriotic and practicing good citizenship to do the same now, when sacrificing looks like staying at home, social distancing, donating our stimulus money and supporting a phased recovery that will save thousands if not millions of American lives.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel April 17, 2020 at 2:48 pm

      Oh, I think we all know Mystie doesn’t read the news much at all. 😉

      But seriously: I have never made my libertarian tendencies a secret. With that said, I read very broadly, so this is just a sampling — just some things I found interesting or was thinking about at the time.

      If you don’t think a Governor should be concerned and at least CONSIDER the document he takes a oath to defend and protect, I don’t know what to say. In my opinion, any governor who thinks the Constitution is above his pay grade should be recalled.

      • Reply Jen @ Bookish Family April 17, 2020 at 3:12 pm

        With all due respect, I don’t think that my Governor isn’t considering the constitution 😉 and just because a governor on a live interview says he wasn’t thinking of the bill of rights when he was deciding how to preserve life in a national emergency, that doesn’t mean his orders are unconstitutional. You can see this article for a very sound legal discussion of the principles (and I say that as a trained lawyer myself) https://www.forbes.com/sites/evangerstmann/2020/03/25/are-stay-at-home-orders-constitutional/#68c778ec104e

        And my apologies, when I said schole sisters, I realized I misspoke, I meant members of the sistership and others who look to you for guidance. I, like Mystie, don’t generally read the news as much as I have lately. But if my Governor doesn’t have the power to compel people to protect the common good for a limited period of time in an emergency, then I don’t know how worthwhile my government is.

        And while I know you are a libertarian, I usually try not to let it bother me 🙂 I appreciate your views on many topics, but I disagree with you fundamentally and deeply on politics. I usually don’t comment. But I want to stand up and say that I disagree. Not that I have any hope of changing your opinion, but rather to provide a dissenting voice for other readers. I am very proud to be an American and I am very proud to be doing my part to protect my community by staying home and following the guidance of my elected officials (including the ones I really dislike).

    • Reply Tana April 20, 2020 at 7:18 am

      COVID-19 has hit different areas with varying intensity. In my state (Nebraska), 40 of our 92 counties have ZERO cases, and only 14 of the 92 counties have more than ten cases, 2 of them with more than 100 cases. So no, I don’t know anyone who has COVID-19 but I suspect if I still lived on the east coast where it is a lot worse than it is here, I might. New York has 225,000 cases, New Jersey right next door has 75,000 – that is 300,000 total. The state that is #3 on the list of most cases has only 30,000 cases. So in PA, you are a lot closer to where the virus is serious whereas a lot of the rest of the country has not seen what you have seen. It may well get here at some point and our hospital with 574 beds will have more than 20 cases like it’s had for the past couple of weeks. Our hospitals are nowhere near capacity but our area has been shut down and people are suffering the costs of the shutdown far more than the virus itself. The response has to match the threat; otherwise the response can cause more damage than the threat.

      • Reply Brandy Vencel April 20, 2020 at 11:23 am

        Our hospitals are nowhere near capacity but our area has been shut down and people are suffering the costs of the shutdown far more than the virus itself. The response has to match the threat; otherwise the response can cause more damage than the threat.

        I think gets at the heart of part of my concerns. We don’t know anyone with the virus because there aren’t many cases here per capita and those cases aren’t resulting in many deaths. In my city, more than 50% of us are essential workers, so those who can are all going to work AND not getting sick. But those who aren’t allowed by the government to go to work are now facing hardships, and I wonder about the long term economic damage, especially in a city that already suffers so much under the heavy hand of the government. I drive around and I see businesses closing. I know owners who aren’t getting rents they need to pay for properties that will likely be foreclosed upon. The long term consequences of depression and unemployment and poverty concern me very much.

        My other concern has more to do with a neighboring county where they have formally labeled religion as nonessential. Ideas have consequences but we can’t always predict what they will be and I wonder about that.

      • Reply tess April 20, 2020 at 1:47 pm

        Well, even PA isn’t uniform. A family member works in a hospital in a major metropolitan area (but not Philly), and the system has been dramatically below census since February, so much so that they are talking internally about furloughing employees. But then, not 30 miles away, is another metropolitan area that is seeing a spike in cases within the inner city population. In between is mostly rural, but there’s significant traffic due to warehouse employment, so it’s not like the countryside is isolated, even with general goodwill and adherence to stay-at-home orders… I think one thing that’s apparent from the data is that there are many more variables at play than have been accounted for yet.

        PA has a really neat portal for monitoring hospital readiness on it’s DOH website, so it’s easy data to monitor if your a stat geek, and I think more states are adopting the platform. It really makes apparent that not only is America dealing with major regional differences, but sometimes those regional differences are apparent even within smaller geographical areas.

        • Reply Brandy Vencel April 20, 2020 at 1:56 pm

          I think one thing that’s apparent from the data is that there are many more variables at play than have been accounted for yet.

          Isn’t that the truth? I keep reading about what they are now calling the “California paradox” (they originally told us there’d be 20m cases in the state) and thinking the same thing: there is so much we don’t know. In another life, I’d be a researcher on these things! Instead, I make dinner. 😉

          I’ve seen a lot of speculation. Articles blaming glyphosate (even though if you compare maps, you’d have to argue FOR glyphosate) or pollution (I live in the “most polluted” city in the US and we have a low infection rate and death rate (with only 3 deaths total so far). I don’t really love glyphosate OR pollution, but they seem to be non-issues; there’s no correlation at all. I would love to solve the puzzle. I’m sure you would, too!

          • tess April 20, 2020 at 3:08 pm

            That’s crazy about the pollution! I remember wondering if that was a factor in Wuhan early on (and, of course, assuming their numbers were underreported by at least tenfold)— fascinating to hear the correlation isn’t bearing out. Florida’s another puzzler, because you’d think their death rate would reflect their higher risk population. Actually, there are lots of puzzlers, and I’d love to have a time machine to get the book one of our kids is going to write on this in a decade or two…

            I hear you on making dinner, lol! I get these waves of “Wow! Can you believe you’re just a plebeian, and you have access to so much information?” It’s such a blessing to be able to access so many good sources from home. Holy cow, I don’t even have to hike to the university library and log into the database engines…

          • Brandy Vencel April 21, 2020 at 3:24 pm

            Oh! I was thinking about this today, Tess: that while our city has terrible pollution by American standards, it is a small fraction of pollution compare with a place like Wuhan. In addition, I read somewhere than Wuhan citizens smoke a LOT. So I think what I said about here might not nullify the observation for other places where bad pollution is allowed. Also, there might be a difference in KIND of pollution? Ours is mainly car exhaust and dust … LOTS of dust. Wuhan might be chemicals? Something else? I don’t know.

            Ps. I thought of you today when I was listening to an MD talking about managing bad coronavirus cases at home using IV high dose Vitamin C. It was amazing.

          • tess April 22, 2020 at 7:00 pm

            Guess what study I just saw today, Brandy— “A nicotinic hypothesis for Covid-19” https://www.qeios.com/read/article/571

            So neither pollution nor smoking are behaving the way we’d expect those variables to behave! Curiouser and curiouser, as they say. But the evidence of neurotropic behavior in the virus makes a connection with the diabetes comorbidity…

            I’m glad to hear more people talking about the vitamin c case study! Talk about a very low risk intervention with potentially great benefits— sounds like something Taleb *should* find interesting, if he were consistent in his thinking… 😉

          • Brandy Vencel April 23, 2020 at 9:09 am

            WOW, Tess! This disease is nothing if not unconventional!

            For some reason this reminded me of Dixie Lee Ray’s book Trashing the Planet, which was a favorite of mine in high school. She tells a story of some miners — Russians, I think. They were repeatedly exposed to radiation — radon gas if I remember correctly — and they died of lung cancer. There was condemnation all around when this was discovered — this was so awful that this would happen! And it was until you dug deeper. Yes, they all died of lung cancer and likely it was caused by the radon exposure. But also, they lived a DECADE longer than their peers. So before it killed them, it extended their life spans. Fascinating stuff.

            In the news locally last night was a group of doctors calling for an end to the (local) shutdown. These doctors own an urgent care system and have presided over more than 3000 COVID tests. They explicitly said that (locally) this is FAR more mild than the flu (flu has killed 3x as many people here as COVID so far in 2020), and since our state is proven to have much earlier exposure than anyone thought, they are more concerned about the other issues surrounding the shutdown (job loss, poverty, domestic abuse, and suicide). And then this morning, a nurse from our church said they are closing down the designated COVID wing of her hospital because “we don’t have enough patients in it and we’re just wasting beds and an entire floor.”

            Oh! By the way — I was listening to a podcast interview with a doctor doing IV vitamin C and had so far kept 100% of his COVID patients out of the hospital. He said 6g in 6 hours and I wondered if just taking it to bowel tolerance would be equally effective? What do you think? I mean, that usually works out to 1g/hour for our family.

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