The panic sets in

Housekeeping

The Pixel 4 XL has not arrived. I tried calling FedEx to find out what had happened, but in truth, I got very little information beyond that which tracking had offered. That “trailer,” presumably as in a tractor pulling that trailer, that supposedly holds my Pixel 4 XL, had not yet arrived in Pittsburgh.

I knew already that the package had not been checked in to Pittsburgh. So the only news here was that it was being brought here by a tractor-trailer. I was not expecting a mule train. Or maybe some poor schmuck on a bicycle.

It supposedly left Grove City, Ohio, at 1:21 this morning. It’s a three or four hour drive to Pittsburgh. So it has not come directly to Pittsburgh. Which seems more than a little strange.

I’m hoping it will arrive tomorrow, at which point the anticipated communication disruption may yet occur.


Pennsylvania

Today may be a poor example, but lots of things are shutting down all over the country, including in Pittsburgh, and people are definitely hearing about “social distancing” and “self-quarantining.” Business, which I discussed this morning, seemed like it was back to winter.

Governor Tom Wolfe has ordered all schools in Pennsylvania to close for at least ten days. Many are closing for longer.[1] I think it’s going to take longer than this for the pandemic to crest.

2020-Voter-Registration-March
Fig. 1. Map of political polarization in Pennsylvania as of March 2020 by the Penn Capital-Star, fair use. I live in Allegheny County, which appears not merely red (as in a red-blue divide), but maroon, signifying a strong Republican advantage.[2]

Don’t focus too much on that eye-popping Allegheny County number. I imagine that, much like Philly last fall, a periodic update of the voter rolls is responsible for that shift.

Still the Southwest remains a rising red sea for the GOP. Ancestral Democratic counties such Beaver, Fayette and Greene counties continue to bleed away support. Lawrence County will likely be a Republican county by my next update and at this pace Cambria County won’t be too far behind.[3]

As I drive around, mostly in Allegheny County, I see a few yard signs for Bernie Sanders. I see none at all for Joe Biden. I see a lot of yard signs, flags, and bumper stickers for Donald Trump. So that “eye-popping Allegheny County number” may be closer to the truth than Nick Field realizes.

Nick Field, “Voter Registration Update: Pa.’s blue and red divide deepens as April primary approaches,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, March 11, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/government-politics/voter-registration-update-pa-s-blue-and-red-divide-deepens-as-april-primary-approaches-analysis/

Megan Guza And Joanne Klimovich Harrop, “Gov. Tom Wolf orders all Pa. schools shut down for 10 days,” TribLive, March 13, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/western-pa-schools-begin-closing-for-2-weeks-over-coronavirus-fears/

Eric Heyl, “First Western PA Coronavirus Case Confirmed,” Patch, March 13, 2020, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/h1rnv/first-western-pa-coronavirus-case-confirmed


  1. [1]Megan Guza And Joanne Klimovich Harrop, “Gov. Tom Wolf orders all Pa. schools shut down for 10 days,” TribLive, March 13, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/western-pa-schools-begin-closing-for-2-weeks-over-coronavirus-fears/
  2. [2]Nick Field, “Voter Registration Update: Pa.’s blue and red divide deepens as April primary approaches,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, March 11, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/government-politics/voter-registration-update-pa-s-blue-and-red-divide-deepens-as-april-primary-approaches-analysis/
  3. [3]Nick Field, “Voter Registration Update: Pa.’s blue and red divide deepens as April primary approaches,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, March 11, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/government-politics/voter-registration-update-pa-s-blue-and-red-divide-deepens-as-april-primary-approaches-analysis/

The panic

As of now, I am wondering if an expected communication disruption will come off today as planned. In my experience, the Pixel 4 XL should be in Pittsburgh by now for it to arrive today. Instead, as of 1:21 am, it has left Grove City, Ohio, which is 187 miles away. If it has arrived in Pittsburgh, it didn’t get scanned, either on arrival or going out for delivery. Either that or there’s some other outage that’s inhibiting updates.


Domestic spying

This has suddenly become interesting:

“It’s not a question of if [legislation preserving some domestic spying authority] passes but when,” Mr. [Mitch] McConnell said during a morning floor speech. “I hope none of our colleagues choose to force these important national security tools to temporarily lapse for the sake of making a political point, which will not change the outcome.”[1]

That seems to be, however, just what happened as a motion to pass the legislation by unanimous consent failed.[2]

Mr. Trump exerted last-minute influence on the process Thursday, saying he had been asked by senators to veto the House-passed bill. “Many Republican Senators want me to Veto the FISA Bill until we find out what led to, and happened with, the illegal attempted ’coup’ of the duly elected President of the United States, and others!” he wrote on Twitter.[3]

I guess you gotta take the good with the bad, even the evil, even the black hole of the Trump presidency.

Dustin Volz and Siobhan Hughes, “Senate Fails to Approve Renewal of Domestic-Surveillance Powers,” Wall Street Journal, March 12, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/mcconnell-warns-some-spying-tools-could-temporarily-lapse-11584026307


Coronavirus

The picture with coronavirus right now is huge, to my annoyance, well beyond the scope of a single article I’ve found, even the excellent one by David Wallace-Wells.[4] Right now, what I’m finding is mostly about effects in the U.S.[5] but, of course, this is global and the effects will be emergent.

Since the panic began, I’ve been seeing a bump in business driving for Lyft, which has kept me sufficiently busy that I haven’t even tried driving for Uber. I attribute this to three possible factors, none of which seem to be mutually exclusive. I am not able to determine the extent to which any of these may be, if at all, true:

  1. It is March. We might be coming to the end of winter, which has, as long as I’ve been driving cab (and for Uber and Lyft) been a horrible season.
  2. Some drivers may be staying offline, to avoid coronavirus exposure.
  3. Some passengers may be avoiding public transportation, to avoid coronavirus exposure.

It’s not been enough to save my finances, at least not yet, which have been hit hard, only in part by winter. My car is going through an expensive phase: I’ve already had an engine mount replaced, a tune-up is due, brakes are coming due, a Pennsylvania-mandated inspection is due between now and May, and I noticed an entry on the last mechanic’s inspection report that the “battery” (I do not know which one) is in the orange, indicating it will soon need service.

Battery service, of course, means replacement. If it’s the starter battery, I have replaced this once already for about $400 but due to the absence of independent hybrid mechanics in the Pittsburgh area, I’m now dealing with a dealer—it won’t be cheaper. If it’s the main battery, that will be an order of magnitude more expensive.

The latter possibility raises the question, is the car worth it? Apparently Toyota Camry Hybrids don’t hold their value like Priuses do. But I am unenthusiastic about buying a used car in Pennsylvania, with someone else’s rust, and have previously ruled out buying new. So I’m thinking the car is indeed worth it.

Meanwhile, as the panic increases, I am unsure that that bump in business will last. Will people indeed stay home, self-quarantining themselves? This might only be a temporary reprieve from an extended winter. On the other hand, how long until cabin fever drives people back out into the world?

I wouldn’t be getting that new cell phone if I didn’t think it absolutely necessary. But mobile data is critical: without it, there are no orders, no pick-ups, and no drop-offs. And as I discovered in California, more reliable mobile data means more of them.

In a business as marginal as this, that forces my hand.

Jonathan Allen and Steve Holland, “Life upended for Americans as U.S. scrambles to contain coronavirus threat,” Reuters, March 12, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa/life-upended-for-americans-as-u-s-scrambles-to-contain-coronavirus-threat-idUSKBN20Z1OT

David Wallace-Wells, “America Is Broken,” New York, March 12, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/coronavirus-shows-us-america-is-broken.html


Bernie Sanders

This is how Donald Trump gets re-elected for another four years. The neoliberals want Joe Biden so badly[6] and were apoplectic at the prospect of Bernie Sanders.[7] Now there are a whole bunch of votes—no one knows how many—they won’t get.[8] But, of course, you know who’ll take the blame.[9]

This is why I won’t ever again support the Democratic Party.

Ankita Rao, “Bernie or Bust: the Sanders fans who will never vote for Biden,” Guardian, March 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/mar/13/bernie-sanders-fans-joe-biden-democratic-candidate


  1. [1]Dustin Volz and Siobhan Hughes, “Senate Fails to Approve Renewal of Domestic-Surveillance Powers,” Wall Street Journal, March 12, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/mcconnell-warns-some-spying-tools-could-temporarily-lapse-11584026307
  2. [2]Dustin Volz and Siobhan Hughes, “Senate Fails to Approve Renewal of Domestic-Surveillance Powers,” Wall Street Journal, March 12, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/mcconnell-warns-some-spying-tools-could-temporarily-lapse-11584026307
  3. [3]Dustin Volz and Siobhan Hughes, “Senate Fails to Approve Renewal of Domestic-Surveillance Powers,” Wall Street Journal, March 12, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/mcconnell-warns-some-spying-tools-could-temporarily-lapse-11584026307
  4. [4]David Wallace-Wells, “America Is Broken,” New York, March 12, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/coronavirus-shows-us-america-is-broken.html
  5. [5]Jonathan Allen and Steve Holland, “Life upended for Americans as U.S. scrambles to contain coronavirus threat,” Reuters, March 12, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa/life-upended-for-americans-as-u-s-scrambles-to-contain-coronavirus-threat-idUSKBN20Z1OT
  6. [6]FiveThirtyEight, “The 2020 Endorsement Primary,” March 12, 2020, https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2020-endorsements/democratic-primary/
  7. [7]Eric Lutz, “Turns Out Lots of People ‘Like’ Bernie Sanders,” Vanity Fair, January 22, 2020, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/01/cnn-poll-bernie-sanders-joe-biden; Veronica Stracqualursi and Gregory Krieg, “Clinton says ‘nobody likes’ Sanders and won’t commit to backing him if he’s the Democratic nominee,” CNN>, January 21, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/21/politics/hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders-documentary/index.html
  8. [8]Ankita Rao, “Bernie or Bust: the Sanders fans who will never vote for Biden,” Guardian, March 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/mar/13/bernie-sanders-fans-joe-biden-democratic-candidate
  9. [9]Blue Texan [pseud.], “Early Morning Swim: Ed Rendell tells Democratic base to ‘Get Over It’ on Rachel Maddow,” Shadowproof, September 23, 2010, https://shadowproof.com/2010/09/23/early-morning-swim-ed-rendell-tells-democratic-base-to-get-over-it-on-rachel-maddow/; Blue Texan [pseud.], “Stop Whining, Liberals!” Shadowproof, September 27, 2010, https://shadowproof.com/2010/09/27/late-night-stop-whining-liberals/; Michael Falcone, “Opposite Day On The Campaign Trail?” ABC News, September 21, 2010, copy in possession of author; Glenn Greenwald, “Obama’s view of liberal criticisms,” Salon, September 17, 2010, http://www.salon.com/2010/09/17/obama_139/; John F. Harris, “Rahm Roars Back,” Politico, February 28, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/02/28/rahm-emanuel-2020-race-biden-bernie-sanders-warren-election-politics-analysis-118208; David Neiwert, “President Obama lashes out at his liberal critics: Choice is to ‘get things done’ or feel ‘sanctimonious’,” Crooks and Liars, December 7, 2010, http://crooksandliars.com/david-neiwert/president-obama-lashes-out-his-liber; Heather Digby Parton, “‘It’s always the hippies’ fault’: Why the left treats its idealists all wrong,” Salon, February 5, 2015, http://www.salon.com/2015/02/05/its_always_the_hippies_fault_why_the_left_treats_its_idealists_all_wrong/; Greg Sargent, “Liberal blogger directly confronts David Axelrod, accuses White House of ‘hippie punching’,” Washington Post, September 23, 2010, http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/09/liberal_blogger_directly_confr.html; Stephen Stromberg, “Joe Biden scolds progressives — and he’s right,” Washington Post, September 16, 2010, http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2010/09/joe_biden_scolds_progressives.html; Sam Youngman, “White House unloads anger over criticism from ‘professional left’,” Hill, August 10, 2010, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/113431-white-house-unloads-on-professional-left