The third surge of COVID-19

Pandemic

There is a new blog post entitled, “The lesson of the pandemic: An incremental approach won’t save us.”

Karen Kaplan, “U.S. deaths are about 300,000 higher than expected since the coronavirus arrived,” Los Angeles Times, October 20, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2020-10-20/excess-deaths-in-united-states-since-coronavirus-arrived


Academia

As I was out driving, I noticed one day that banners around the Carnegie-Mellon University campus focused not on academics or scholarship, but on social connection, with lots of smiling (unmasked and not socially-distanced) faces.

But [Soneida] Rodriguez, the resident adviser, said those concessions [in response to an RA strike] haven’t fixed an underlying problem: The [University of Michigan] appears more concerned with giving students the full “college experience” than with protecting public health, she said.

“They’re trying to justify the tuition price,” she said.[6]

Universities are supposed to be sanctuaries for the dissemination and acquisition of knowledge. At least coincidentally with the political embrace of neoliberal dogma, they’ve taken on an entirely different role in what was already an anti-intellectual society.

This is a problem anyway. In a pandemic, it’s an even bigger one.[7]

Michael Vasquez, “‘It’s Negligence’: U. of Michigan Students Ordered to ‘Stay in Place’ After Covid-19 Cases Surge,” Chronicle of Higher Education, October 20, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/its-negligence-u-of-michigan-students-ordered-to-stay-in-place-as-covid-19-cases-surge


Housekeeping

I’ve been stressing out lately. As I put it recently,

I haven’t been sleeping well. Between the difficult navigation and the asshole drivers in Pittsburgh,[8] combined with road conditions that are significantly increasing my maintenance costs, I’m terrified the whole time I’m driving, which I do for Uber and Lyft because it’s the only job I can get even with a Ph.D.[9] I’m stressing out. My heart is pounding when I’m out. And when I wake up, I am short of sleep, unable to sleep more.[10]

But a couple of interesting things have happened. First, when I had to replace that last set of tires, after a mere 21,000 miles, I went ahead and pulled out the money to upgrade the sound system in the car. That is now done. The music does help soothe the savage beast of stress from a situation I cannot adapt to and cannot change.

Then a headlight went out. I’ve been going through a lot of bulbs since I got to Pittsburgh and every time one goes out, I lose time that I could spend working. I was feeling like this was costing me too much money. I stopped back at the place where I got the sound system upgraded and, sure enough, they’ve been able to replace a bunch of the bulbs with LEDs. The LED headlights significantly improve my ability to see at night, even to help avoid potholes, hopefully sparing my front end from some damage.

The LED turn signals improve the visibility of those signals; other drivers are more apt to see and respond to the signals. The backup camera that came with the sound system and the dramatically brighter LED backup lights make it a lot easier and safer when I need to turn around in narrow places, of which in Pittsburgh there are many.

A lot of it, however, feels like status. The LED lights convey an impression of a more expensive car than the 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid actually is. In Pittsburgh, that seems to matter. I’m getting a lot less harassment from obnoxious drivers.

It’s still stressful. I’m still in that situation I cannot adapt to and cannot change. But maybe my blood pressure isn’t so high now.


  1. [6]Michael Vasquez, “‘It’s Negligence’: U. of Michigan Students Ordered to ‘Stay in Place’ After Covid-19 Cases Surge,” Chronicle of Higher Education, October 20, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/its-negligence-u-of-michigan-students-ordered-to-stay-in-place-as-covid-19-cases-surge
  2. [7]Carl T. Bergstrom, “The CDC Is Wrong,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 14, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/The-CDC-Is-Wrong/249174; Francie Diep, “More Colleges Are Responding to Covid-19 Surges With 2-Week Quarantines. Do They Work?” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 17, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/more-colleges-are-responding-to-covid-19-surges-with-2-week-quarantines-do-they-work; Tim Elfrink, “‘We’ve got to do better than this’: College students raise alarm by packing bars, avoiding masks,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08/17/alabama-georgia-college-parties-covid/; Lindsay Ellis, “Colleges Hoped for an In-Person Fall. Now the Dream is Crumbling,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 20, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/colleges-hoped-for-an-in-person-fall-now-the-dream-is-crumbling; Audrey Williams June, “Over 450 Colleges Are in Coronavirus Hot Spots,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 9, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/Over-450-Colleges-Are-in/249156; Robert Kelchen, “Colleges Aren’t Reopening in the Fall,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 18, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/Colleges-Aren-t-Reopening-in/248803; Eric Kelderman, “Colleges Are Making Late Calls to Shut Campuses. Is It All About the Money?” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 25, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/colleges-are-making-late-calls-to-shut-campuses-is-it-all-about-the-money; Vivian S. Lee, Vindell Washington, and Robert M. Califf, “The Bad Science of Reopening,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 28, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/the-bad-science-of-reopening; Katherine Mangan, “Health Experts Warn Colleges Not to Send Students Home. But What if Quarantine Spaces Run Out?” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 7, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/health-experts-warn-colleges-not-to-send-students-home-but-what-if-they-run-out-of-quarantine-space; Kery Murakami, “Fauci Urges Colleges Not to Send Students Home,” Inside Higher Ed, September 4, 2020, https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2020/09/04/fauci-urges-colleges-not-send-students-home; Notre Dame University, “Notre Dame enacts two weeks of remote instruction,” August 18, 2020, https://news.nd.edu/news/notre-dame-enacts-two-weeks-of-remote-instruction/; Vimal Patel, “A Grad Strike, a Court Fight, a No-Confidence Vote: U. of Michigan Struggles Over Its Campus Reopening,” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 16, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/a-grad-strike-a-court-fight-a-no-confidence-vote-u-of-michigan-struggles-over-its-campus-reopening; Colleen Shalby, “California colleges tried to prepare for COVID-19 outbreaks. It didn’t work,” Los Angeles Times, October 7, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-10-07/as-californias-universities-reopen-off-campus-activity-contributes-to-spike-in-covid-19-cases; Andy Thomason, “After Only One Week, Chapel Hill Abandons In-Person Fall Semester,” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 17, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/after-only-one-week-chapel-hill-abandons-in-person-fall-semester; Michael Vasquez, “‘It’s Negligence’: U. of Michigan Students Ordered to ‘Stay in Place’ After Covid-19 Cases Surge,” Chronicle of Higher Education, October 20, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/its-negligence-u-of-michigan-students-ordered-to-stay-in-place-as-covid-19-cases-surge
  3. [8]David Benfell, “Pittsburgh driving for the uninitiated,” Irregular Bullshit, n.d., https://disunitedstates.com/pittsburgh/pittsburgh-driving-for-the-uninitiated/
  4. [9]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  5. [10]David Benfell, “Normalized ‘property rights,’” Not Housebroken, September 23, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/23/normalized-property-rights/

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