Pondering

America is Land of the Free, Because of the Brave. My ‘thank you’ to those who made it so.

Heavy bomber crewman, U.S. Army Air Force, World War 2. Photo from Legacy Flight Museum in Rexford, Idaho by James Ulvog.

Our freedom is under rapidly increasing assault by many politicians who think they are kings and queens appointed by divine right instead of having merely won a few more percentage points of the vote than their opponent in the last election.  In the last year public health officials at the federal, state, and county levels who lack self-awareness of how often they beclown themselves have joined in the efforts to shred our liberty.

As a result of these attacks, it is ever more important that on this Memorial Day we remember those who shed all their blood so that we may be free.

A ‘thank you’ from me is so trivial, yet that is all I have.

I will demonstrate my appreciation for freedom purchased by others by exercising freedom.

Yesterday I exercised my freedom of religion. Tomorrow I will exercise my economic freedom, also called pursuit of happiness, by running my business the way I choose.

I have posted variations of the following ideas several times before.  I will continue to make these points routinely.

To everyone on active duty today, I often accept a ‘thank you’ on your behalf.

Union Infantry private, U.S. Civil War, 1961-1865. Photo from Legacy Flight Museum in Rexford, Idaho by James Ulvog.

While touring the U.S.S. Midway Museum in San Diego early this month, I wore a “U.S. Air Force” ball cap with various stuff pinned to it, such as the rank I wore, a missile badge (“pocket rocket” for those who know), SAC logo, and a rectangular piece of metal that declares “Combat Crew.”

During the course of walking around, I got lots of glances and several comments of “thank you for your service.”

Also got some joshing comments from the retired Navy guys about them ‘allowing’ me on their ship. Since we were all on the same team back in the day, the kidding was pure fun.

I was on active duty for only four years and that was decades ago. I never got within 3,000 miles of hostile action. (Of course if the flag had gone up, I would have been radioactive dust at 20,000 feet altitude about 40 minutes later.)

As a result, I was uneasy for a long time when someone said “Thanks for your service.”

It took me a few years to get to get comfortable with those comments.

I now graciously and proudly accept those expressions of appreciation from my fellow Americans, but not because of what I did so long ago. 

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

He is risen!

He is risen indeed!

Easter is the high point of the year for Christians.  On this day our Savior rose from the tomb after having suffered a brutal death at the hands of the Roman government, urged on by the religious leadership.

What’s the big deal?

On Good Friday, the death of Jesus paid in full the penalty for my sins, yours sins, and the sins of every person who ever lived or ever will live.

On Easter Sunday, His glorious resurrection proves his sacrifice was accepted by God the Father.

In rising from death, Jesus proved he had ultimate power over death, hell, and the devil.

By that sacrifice, our sins are forgiven, and we will enter heaven for eternity, not because of what we do or how nice we are, but solely because of His sacrifice on the cross.

A few selections of the wonderful and so comforting hymn Jesus Christ is Risen Today to help you celebrate. Go ahead, crank up the volume. First up is an organ only version:

For a beautiful processional:

King’s College Choir, Cambridge

The lyrics:

“An Ulvog Journey” – Tales of growing up on a South Dakota farm in the 1930s and 1940s.

Casting my CPA eye on the 1946 probate document for my grandfather’s estate led to a series of posts on my other blog describing what we can learn about farming in the 1940s from a legal filing.  Those posts have been combined into one section of my newest book: An Ulvog Journey.

The book also provides recollections of growing up on a South Dakota farm in the 1930s and 1940s, written by my dad and his seven siblings.

One of my uncles, Carl Ulvog, was a captivating storyteller. His autobiographic tale of experiences in the South Pacific during World War II are also included.

Description from back page of the book:

Restrictions on holiday celebrations in California. This is not a spoof. You will think it is a joke, but it is not.

No fun allowed sign. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The California Department of Public Health has listed their specific restrictions on holiday gatherings. There are serious limits on what you can do for your Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year celebration.

I’m not making this up.

Check out for yourself the Guidance for Private Gatherings published on 10/9/20.

In case you think I imagined all this, I will quote select portions of the guidance.

So, if you happen to be one of the people who have not yet moved out of California, or you are waiting for the moving van to arrive, here are the requirements for your holiday celebrations –

(Again, this is not a spoof.)

You may not gather with friends inside your home. You are still allowed to let guests use your bathroom, assuming you scrub down the bathroom quite frequently:

“All gatherings must be held outside. Attendees may go inside to use restrooms as long as the restrooms are frequently sanitized.”

No more than three households may gather together.

Economic destruction from the shutdown is expanding.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Economic damage from the shutdown is becoming more obvious as more reporters spend time covering the destruction. Here are two articles each on the overall economic impact, specific impact on individuals, and concentrated impact on two cities:

  • GDP in Italy expected to shrink to the level it was 23 years ago
  • Airline CEOs expect it will take years for the airlines to recover
  • Additional 8 million Americans drop below the poverty level, joining the 55 million who were there before the pandemic
  • All 1,600 orchestras in the country have gone dark; their 160K musicians are unemployed
  • San Francisco has 14% vacancy rate in commercial office space
  • Impact on employment in New York City is more severe than the national average

How long will we let this go on?

 

Broad indication of the damage:

10/11/20 – India Today – Italy’s GDP in 2022 shrink back to the same level as 23 years ago: Report – …

Health damage caused by the shutdown is becoming more visible.

There are consequences from the shutdown. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The damage to health caused by the lockdown is becoming more visible. The damage has been there from the beginning of the shutdown; it is just becoming more obvious. A growing number of news articles are describing the deteriorating health outcomes. A growing number of reporters are noticing the devastation.

A few recent articles for your consideration:

  • ‘Years of life lost’ caused by the shutdown is calculated in one analysis to be seven times the number of ‘years of life lost’ which are prevented by the shutdown
  • Frightening increase in suicide ideation by young adults
  • Mental health services pulled off line because of the shutdown
  • Seniors at one nursing home protest the shutdown and the loneliness it causes

Make a mental note that a large number of governors, state-level health officials, federal health officials, and county health officials are forcefully, willfully continuing the lockdowns.

5/5/20 – Washington Examiner – Stress from virus response will destroy 7 times more years of life than lockdowns save: study – Several studies are cited by the article.

Economic damage from shutdown continues to spread.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Summarized below are a few of the recent articles pointing to expanding economic damage from the shutdown. Destruction in the movie business is noticeable in recent days:

  • Second largest movie chain in the US closes all its theaters
  • Wonder Woman director worried the entire theater industry may die
  • Disney restructures in order to increase focus toward direct-to-consumer distribution channel and away from theatrical release
  • Sales tax collections in San Francisco collapse
  • Passenger cruise ships are getting scrapped

10/5/20 – Wall Street Journal – Regal Cinemas Suspending Operations at All US Locations – The chain with the second largest number of theaters in the U.S. has closed all of its US theaters after having reopened only two months ago. Article does not indicate when any of the theaters will be reopened.

Article says release dates for a dozen movies have been postponed.

Education – More reports on devastating impact from the shutdown.

Status of public education across the country two months into the new school year. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Increasing numbers of reports describe the damage to education of our youth.  Students of every age group being hurt by the lockdown. Impact on poor or disadvantaged or previously struggling students is even more severe.

I am heartbroken that the damage will continue for the near future. The compounding effect will be terrible.

9/28/20 – ProPublica – The Students Left Behind by Remote Learning – Keep in mind this article describing the devastating impact of the lockdown on students from disadvantaged families is from ProPublica, a far-left news organization and not from some wild eyed Libertarian organization that wants people to have the freedom to make their own decisions on absolutely every issue in their lives.

Article goes into great lengths describing the struggles experienced by one particular student who has been trying to learn in virtual classes. As a starting point, there’s a grand total of four hours online teaching per week. Four hours – one hour per day on Monday through Thursday. That is the only teaching time. For all his class subjects.

Did the lockdowns have any beneficial impact on the rate of new infections?

Enough time has passed that there is enough information to start analyzing the lockdowns. Preliminary info is not pretty. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Indications are starting to emerge that the answer to the question may actually be no.

Previously mentioned one analysis which found a weak statistical correlation between weaker lockdown requirements and lower infection rate. The study found no correlation between the date that states started releasing the lockdown restrictions and subsequent infection rates.

The rate of infections accelerates rapidly and then hits an inflection point where the rate of infections either plateaus or the rate slows dramatically.

The following study suggests the lockdowns have no correlation to when the infection rates hit that transition point. In fact, the inflection point normally is reached before the lockdowns could have had any impact.

10/4/20 – National Review – Stats Hold a Surprise: Lockdowns May Have Had Little Effect on Covid-19 Spread

Authors pulled the daily infection rate for 13 states and graphed the data on a logarithmic scale. Seeing infections on a log scale makes it easier to see trends. There are visible transitions in every state from rapid acceleration to a flattened or greatly reduced infection rate.

More updates on religious expression and restrictions thereof.

California church during regularly scheduled worship time. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Update on the effort by Los Angeles County to shut down worship at GCC. The march in San Francisco took place. Some churches are worshiping in minor league baseball parks.

9/26/20 – The Roys Report – John MacArthur will Face New Hearing in November for Defying Ban on Indoor Services – On 9/24/20 an LA County judge postponed a hearing to consider whether to hold Grace Community Church and John MacArthur in contempt.

A hearing will now be held on 11/13/20. What will happen then? I don’t know.

Stats on infection coronavirus rates not showing what you would expect. Time to open the economy.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

We have been locked down long enough for the volume of statistics to build up to the point of allowing deeper analysis. As is always the case, the statistics can also be manipulated to give whatever answer you want. Deeper, honest analysis is starting to show surprising results, for example, the lack of correlation between infection rates and lockdown policies.

Surprising results on the low correlation will be mentioned after some game playing is described.

Wall Street Journal – 9/9/20 – The Sturgis Statistical Misfire – For this story remember the old saying

  • Figures don’t lie, but liars figure

The annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota routinely draws huge numbers of people to the town, whose population is only 7,000 people. Attendance at the 10-day event this year was lower than usual with an estimated 460,000 motorcycle enthusiasts hanging around.

Frightening news reports at the time said this would cause massive numbers of Covid infections leading to massive numbers of deaths.

More churches resist shutdown of worship; one concedes. Pr. John MacArthur is open to starting a jail ministry.

May be a beautiful sanctuary, but in California the government won’t let you use it. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

In news over the last few days, Rev. Dr. John MacArthur said he would start a jail ministry if County officials toss him in the slammer, the Archbishop of San Francisco stands up to de facto shutdown of Masses, and one church concedes to the severe pressures from Santa Clara County.

Pastor John MacArthur open to a jail ministry.

Christian Headlines – 9/17/20 – John MacArthur Says He’ll Start a “Jail Ministry” if Arrested for Worshiping Indoors.

Destruction in the educational world caused by the lockdown.

Education today. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Growing indications point towards ongoing damage to learning at all educational levels due to the shut down. From kindergartners to college students there will be losses of learning time and knowledge.

Older students will be able to catch up. Motivated students will get through. I fear youngsters in particular and unmotivated students in general will suffer permanent damage from the lockdown.

Consider all the damage described in the following articles is a result of a public policy choice made by a host of state and local officials.

The Dispatch – 9/10/20 – The sad realities of virtual learning. – Looks like kindergartners are disappearing from schools. Enrollment in Los Angeles Unified School District is down 14% from a year ago.

Slight improvement in new unemployment claims for week ending 9/12/20.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The number of new claims for unemployment for week ending 9/12/20 dropped a little, with “only” 860,000 people losing their jobs, down from an upwardly revised 893,000 the previous week. For contrast, before the government induced shutdown of the economy new claims averaged about 220,000 per week.

Better news in the data is the number of continuing claims for unemployment dropped about twice as much as the new claims, to 12.6M for the week ending 9/5/20.  That is the lowest since the shutdown started.

CNBC report on 9/17/20 says Jobless claims were lower than expected but unemployment growth is still sluggish. The number of new claims was slightly better than  the 875,000 which economists expected.

As I continue to sort out for myself what this means, will continue listing the stats I’m tracking.

The number of new claims for unemployment and number drawing unemployment is provided by Department of Labor. I calculated the net change, which I assume represents the number of new jobs, although it could also be that people dropping out of the job market wash into the new jobs number: