No, you can’t have a COVID-19 testing app yet. Yet.


I’m still figuring it out, but I will roughly—very roughly—follow what seems to be the least awful route, basically Interstate 70 west to Denver then up to Interstate 80 the rest of the way, in 500 mile increments, with known stops in Chicago, Denver, Salt Lake City, and Reno, taking six days.

On my previous trips, I have consistently underestimated the degree of vegan-hostility in wide swathes of the country.

It’s basically the old rule for vegans: You can’t go anywhere as a vegan without knowing how you’re going to eat. It’s a problem made more acute by my hypersensitivity to onions, peppers, and cilantro, which rules out many Asian and Latin American cuisines.

I’ve been trying to cross country in a more ad hoc way and it hasn’t worked, as I’ve found myself in less vegan-friendly places than I’d expected. My approach on this last trip was to carry two coolers, one with dry ice to keep frozen stuff frozen, and the other with regular ice for refrigerated stuff.

The cost of the dry ice alone wiped out the savings from not eating out. Melted ice water seeped into some packages in the regular ice chest, ruining the contents. And space occupied by the coolers was a factor preventing me from moving more stuff back from my mother’s place. (I also need a larger storage space on the Pittsburgh side.)


Work


Fig. 1. The spectre of Death, in the form of a large skeleton, rises with the smoke and flames of the burning Asch Building during the Triangle fire, as people jump and fall to their death. Artist unknown, from International Ladies Garment Workers Union Photographs (1885-1985) at The Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0.

Lauren Kaori Gurley, “Record hot labor market has Minnesota scrambling for workers,” Washington Post, September 4, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2022/09/04/minnesota-jobs-unemployment-rate/


COVID-19 Pandemic


Fig. 2. A bar at the intersection of Brownsville and Cochran Mill Roads, South Park Township, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photograph by author, July 29, 2020. An earlier order restricting indoor dining and alcohol consumption took effect on July 10[1] and the incubation period was, at least at the time, usually about five days.[2] On July 30, it was reported that Allegheny County, which includes South Park Township, set a record for COVID-19 hospitalizations,[3] but county health officials insisted that a recent spike in cases was linked to bars.[4] Many in Pittsburgh, a “drinking town,” were more inclined to believe bar owners than health officials.

No, you can’t get the COVID-19 testing app yet. It needs further testing.[5] I’m also not quite clear on where it ranks among all the available tests.

Brenda Goodman, “CDC signs off on updated Covid-19 boosters,” Cable News Network, September 1, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/09/01/health/acip-cdc-updated-covid-booster/index.html

Hanna Webster, “Allegheny County residents could get new COVID-19 boosters as soon as next week,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 2, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/health/2022/09/01/covid-19-booster-vaccine-allegheny-county-cdc-ba4-ba5-omicron-subvariants/stories/202209010166

Telegraph, “Covid app that detects virus in your voice ‘more accurate than lateral flow tests,’” September 4, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/09/04/covid-app-detects-virus-voice-accurate-lateral-flow-tests/


Gilead

Evangelical Protestants


Fig. 3. “You shall have no other gods before me.”[6] Photograph posted to Twitter by Antonia Lee Donnelly, February 16, 2020, fair use.[7]

Michael Gerson, “Trump should fill Christians with rage. How come he doesn’t?” Washington Post, September 1, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/01/michael-gerson-evangelical-christian-maga-democracy/

Gilead

Donald Trump

Coup attempt


Fig. 4. Original: The White House. Derivative work: J. J. Messerly, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

In a saner world than the one I think we actually have, David Frum would be absolutely right that Joe Biden succeeded in provoking Donald Trump into a ludicrously narcissistically raging response at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.[8] What we do not know, due to the unreliability of surveys, is the degree to which the electorate shares Trump’s grievance. Even among the greatly diminished number of signs and flags supporting Trump around southwestern Pennsylvania,[9] it is clear that some people still do.

Which is where we need numbers from a methodology I cannot trust: When the response rate, which should be ninety percent of a representative sample or more,[10] is instead in the single digits,[11] pollsters have a self-selecting sample that cannot represent non-respondents, particularly when, due to non-response, we have no idea, none whatsoever, how members of that self-selecting sample differ from all those non-respondents. This completely invalidates the methodology and I don’t care what rhetoric pollsters deploy to excuse themselves—the claim that polling works regardless[12] is belied by all the instances in which it doesn’t[13]—or what statistical magic they think they can employ to get around this problem—an absence of data remains an absence of data. This is a non-methodology that persists because we are desperate for an imaginary certainty of numbers,[14] and because people have built entire careers around this non-methodology.

It does appear that women are registering to vote in high numbers in response to the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, raising a prospect that Democrats may do far better—again, we cannot know how much better—than expected.[15]

The less rabid who would vote for Trump will need to choose whether they will support his candidates in 2022 anyway—the latter are not, after all, Trump himself—or they will stay home. Something profound has clearly happened with the removal of all those Trump flags and signs but I don’t know how profound. My present reading of the social atmosphere is that while Trump still has some rabid supporters who are likely every bit, if not more so, as insane as he is, he has at the very least lost a lot of enthusiasm, hence the no-longer visible signs and flags,[16] and I’m thinking, quite possibly mistakenly, that while Lauren Gambino and David Smith probably overstate the reasons for Democratic Party optimism,[17] the Republicans may indeed be in for a rude awakening. Only time will tell.

Mariana Alfaro and Eugene Scott, “Judge’s openness to special master for Mar-a-Lago documents raises new questions in criminal probe,” Washington Post, August 29, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/08/29/special-master-trump-biden-pennsylvania/

Devlin Barrett, “Trump’s Mar-a-Lago documents already examined by FBI, Justice Dept. tells judge,” Washington Post, August 29, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/29/trumpspecial-master-documents/

Alex Griffing, “Drudge Puts Trump in an Orange Jumpsuit as Site Monitors His Potential Indictment,” Mediaite, August 29, 2022, https://www.mediaite.com/news/drudge-puts-trump-in-an-orange-jumpsuit-as-site-monitors-his-potential-indictment/

William Rivers Pitt, “An Enron-Inspired Law May Be a Sharper Legal Threat to Trump Than Espionage Act,” Truthout, August 30, 2022, https://truthout.org/articles/an-enron-inspired-law-may-be-a-sharper-legal-threat-to-trump-than-espionage-act/

Austin Sarat and Dennis Aftergut, “Americans are starting to get it: we can’t let Trump – or Trumpism – back in office,” Guardian, August 30, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/aug/30/trump-republicans-voters-midterms-democrats

Ishaan Tharoor, “The debate over American fascism gets louder,” Washington Post, August 30, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2022/08/30/fascism-biden-trump-american-history/

Devlin Barrett, “Justice Dept. says Trump team may have hidden, moved classified papers,” Washington Post, August 31, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/31/trump-documents-removed-storage-room/

Perry Stein et al., “Justice filing points to new legal trouble for Trump and lawyers, experts say,” Washington Post, August 31, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/31/trump-lawyers-legal-jeopardy/

Jennifer Rubin, “Former GOP Justice lawyers: Trump’s in a heap of trouble,” Washington Post, September 1, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/01/republican-lawyers-trump-documents/

Amber Phillips, “Takeaways from Biden’s warnings about Republican threats to democracy,” Washington Post, September 1, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/09/01/biden-democracy-speech-takeaways/

Greg Sargent, “MAGA Republicans are seething with rage because Biden hit his target,” Washington Post, September 2, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/02/biden-speech-philadelphia-trump-maga-republicans-democracy/

Eric Tucker, “Trump search inventory released, reveals new details on docs,” Associated Press, September 2, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/donald-trump-mar-a-lago-government-and-politics-6bd103a8e418166b17a34d77e8d9102d

Andrew Kaczynski and Samantha Woodward, “Donald Trump has repeatedly called for lengthy jail sentences for those who he claimed mishandled classified information,” Cable News Network, September 3, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/09/03/politics/trump-jail-sentences-mishandled-classified-information-kfile/index.html

David Frum, “Biden Laid the Trap. Trump Walked Into It,” Atlantic, September 4, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/09/trump-pennsylvania-rally-republicans/671344/

Lauren Gambino and David Smith, “Could unexpected Democratic gains foil a midterm Republican victory?” Guardian, September 5, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/sep/04/midterm-democrats-victory-republicans-trump

Eric Tucker, “Judge grants Trump bid for special master in Mar-a-Lago case,” Los Angeles Times, September 5, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-09-05/judge-grants-trump-bid-for-special-master-in-mar-a-lago-case


(dis)United Kingdom

Prime minister


Fig. 1. President Reagan on the South Lawn during the arrival ceremony of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom. U.S. Government photograph, November 16, 1988, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

I am trying to remember that England has been a country for a very, very long time. It will survive this.[18] Of course, the question of whether the United Kingdom remains united remains another question entirely.

Daniel Capurro, “Liz Truss: Now unchained, the dutiful servant turned PM is ready to lead from the front,” Telegraph, September 5, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2022/09/05/liz-truss-profile-prime-minister-tory-lib-dem-thatcher/


  1. [1]WTAE, “Allegheny County issues new 2-week order prohibiting indoor dining and alcohol consumption at restaurants and bars,” July 8, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/allegheny-county-issues-new-mitigation-order-covid-19-coronavirus/33249080
  2. [2]Rich Haridy, “Study affirms average Covid-19 incubation period is 5 days,” New Atlas, March 9, 2020, https://newatlas.com/health-wellbeing/covid-19-coronavirus-incubation-five-days-study-average/
  3. [3]Steven Adams, “Allegheny County sets record for new coronavirus hospitalizations; sees triple-digit cases for 8th straight day,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 30, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/allegheny-county-sees-triple-digit-coronavirus-growth-for-8th-straight-day-record-hospitalizations/
  4. [4]KDKA-TV, “Allegheny Co. Health Officials: Spike In New Coronavirus Cases Linked To Bars, Not Protests,” June 29, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/29/spike-in-coronavirus-cases-linked-to-bars-not-protests/
  5. [5]Telegraph, “Covid app that detects virus in your voice ‘more accurate than lateral flow tests,’” September 4, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/09/04/covid-app-detects-virus-voice-accurate-lateral-flow-tests/
  6. [6]Exod. 20:3.
  7. [7]Antonia Lee Donnelly, “Now I've seen everything,” Twitter, February 17, 2020, https://twitter.com/DonnellyAntonia/status/1229227422836559873
  8. [8]David Frum, “Biden Laid the Trap. Trump Walked Into It,” Atlantic, September 4, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/09/trump-pennsylvania-rally-republicans/671344/
  9. [9]David Benfell, “More questions than answers as Donald Trump flags come down,” Not Housebroken, August 31, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/08/28/more-questions-than-answers-as-donald-trump-flags-come-down/
  10. [10]This according to Valerie Sue, the professor in my first research methods class, at California State University, Hayward (now East Bay), Fall 2003.
  11. [11]Steven Shepard, “Report: Phone polls aren’t dead yet,” Politico, May 15, 2017, https://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/15/pollsters-phone-polls-238409; Courtney Kennedy and Hannah Hartig, “Response rates in telephone surveys have resumed their decline,” Pew Research Center, February 27, 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/02/27/response-rates-in-telephone-surveys-have-resumed-their-decline/
  12. [12]Steven Shepard, “Report: Phone polls aren’t dead yet,” Politico, May 15, 2017, https://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/15/pollsters-phone-polls-238409; Courtney Kennedy and Hannah Hartig, “Response rates in telephone surveys have resumed their decline,” Pew Research Center, February 27, 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/02/27/response-rates-in-telephone-surveys-have-resumed-their-decline/
  13. [13]Dan Balz, “2020 presidential polls suffered worst performance in decades, report says,” Washington Post, July 18, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020-poll-errors/2021/07/18/8d6a9838-e7df-11eb-ba5d-55d3b5ffcaf1_story.html; David Byler, “Polling is broken. No one knows how to fix it,” Washington Post, July 22, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/22/polling-is-broken-no-one-knows-how-fix-it/; Mona Chalabi, “The pollsters were wrong – again. Here’s what we know so far,” Guardian, November 4, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/commentisfree/2020/nov/04/the-pollsters-were-wrong-again-heres-what-we-know-so-far; David A. Graham, “The Polling Crisis Is a Catastrophe for American Democracy,” Atlantic, November 4, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/11/polling-catastrophe/616986/; Steven Shepard, “Dem pollsters acknowledge ‘major errors’ in 2020 polling,” Politico, April 13, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/04/13/dems-polling-failure-481044
  14. [14]Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society, John Wilkinson, trans. (New York: Vintage, 1964).; Neil Postman, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology (New York: Vintage, 1993).
  15. [15]Aaron Blake, “Buyer’s remorse could be creeping in for GOP on abortion,” Washington Post, August 25, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/08/25/republicans-abortion-politics/; Julia Terruso and Jonathan Lai, “Women are registering to vote in Pa. in numbers far exceeding men since the Supreme Court abortion decision,” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 22, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/pennsylvania-women-voter-registration-dobbs-20220822.html
  16. [16]David Benfell, “More questions than answers as Donald Trump flags come down,” Not Housebroken, August 31, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/08/28/more-questions-than-answers-as-donald-trump-flags-come-down/
  17. [17]Lauren Gambino and David Smith, “Could unexpected Democratic gains foil a midterm Republican victory?” Guardian, September 5, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/sep/04/midterm-democrats-victory-republicans-trump
  18. [18]Daniel Capurro, “Liz Truss: Now unchained, the dutiful servant turned PM is ready to lead from the front,” Telegraph, September 5, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2022/09/05/liz-truss-profile-prime-minister-tory-lib-dem-thatcher/

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