Pandemic 36

July 11, 2020

Scary links.

Quote of the day

Hopefully the database column for daily COVID cases was not a 16-bit unsigned integer, because the United States just passed that number.


Death by Covid, some comparisons: one third of Wyoming, or all of Grand Rapids.

Safely restarting choirs.

The masking debate in 1918.

Death is a lagging indicator. Final, but lagging.

Economic impact of counter-pandemic actions.

Economic impact of  future Congressional action.

Israel hits a snag. Schools harbor disease, who knew?

Pandemic in Japan.

Mask materials: most masks don’t protect you that much. (here’s the original .pdf, look at the charts at the bottom)

And a different study that says … most masks don’t protect you that much.

Bottom line: Anything is better than nothing, but only high quality masks (and vacuum cleaner bags) are really effective. … And they’re still not 100%


Stuck @ Home?

Some retro found footage for you.

Home electronics project that won’t shock you. Probably



TLDR: Anime I never finished, Summer 2020

July 7, 2020

It’s not often I blow most of my seasonal preview picks right out of the gate, but I sure did it this time.

Monster Girl Doctor: I picked this one, just last week, because the title and the cover looked cute. I forgot I’d read the first volume of the light novel series on J-Novel. My gag reflex should have told me. Just because an anime is in the monster musume genre doesn’t mean it can just ignore the rules of good comedy, even if it’s slapstick comedy. The LN was poorly written enough that I almost dropped it before the end of the first volume, a most unnatural act for a reader like me.

The anime is no better. The acting is bad, and the fact that it’s overacting doesn’t help. The animation is extremely low budget. It’s not that only one character moves at a time, it’s that only one body part moves.

Misfit of Demon King Academy: They are going down like ninepins. Here’s a bog-standard “over-powered student enrolls in magical academy” anime. So far, the only redeeming feature is, he’s from 2K years in the past, and his ancient jokes tend to fall flat. The bad guys are bombastic unto death. The protagonist (can’t really call him the good guy) is bombastic when he’s not being nice.

Super Hxeros: This is one I said I wouldn’t watch, and boy am I glad I didn’t watch it. Super HxEros feels like they came up with the name and then spent a drunken weekend looking for a story. Prepubescent girl has the hots for her equally young boyfriend (girls do develop faster) but after a short and only mildly erotic conversation with an Eros-Sucking Mantis-Like Alien-Thing she is overcome with terminal embarrassment and instead of saying something like “Look, ESMLAT, I ain’t gonna take any razzing from some ero-trash with eyeballs bigger than their boobs“, she instead swears off boys forever,

In this case forever is about eight years. You see, he’s part of a secret ESMLAT-Fighting Organization, one that blasts them with their smart watches, and they find that when she holds his hand, like she was doing way back when, they overclock his powerup and blast the ESMLAT into the next prefecture. Due to Newton’s equal and opposite, their clothes are blasted away as well, and they find themselves sitting workedup and starkers in the middle of a kids playground (Don’t do it Hoshino! Don’t do it! Sand gets in everywhere!). The episode ends with her being given clothing and welcomed into both the ESMLATFO and their joint living arrangement by the other three girls in his ESMLATFO-issued harem.

Maybe she uses glitter

In addition to a stupid plot and stupider dialog, the censorship is disgusting.

The other garden

July 6, 2020

MJ has finally gone stir-crazy. After 20 years ignoring the back yard, she’s spent the last couple of weeks in a mad round of digging and slashing and ripping and pruning across the southeast corner. Remember, this is the area whence we removed the big maple and the Russian olive — both 60 years old — replacing them with a Redleaf maple and a Japanese maple.

The southeast corner in 2017

It was a beautiful, chaotic, and doomed collection of plants that had run wild. About the only work we had done was some halfhearted attempts a keeping down the burdock.

Now, the burdock is gone (mostly) and the other greenery is cut back and shaped. To the left of the Redleaf maple, a feral rosebush has been pruned, and the leafy regrowth on one of the root stumps of the maple has been shaped. We’ll see if it is worth saving. Towards the center, there’s lots of newly cleared ground, with a couple of planters as space-holders for peonies. The Oregon grape has been cut back, and we can see our Standing Stone again, right behind the Japanese maple.

The southeast corner in 2020

Pandemic 35

July 5, 2020

Some long links for you.

Quote of the day

For months, both epidemiologists and economists have been trying to tell policymakers and business types that there was no trade-off between fighting the pandemic and economic growth. That is, if we didn’t get Covid-19 under control, any short-term gains would soon vanish, and we’d find ourselves getting the worst of both worlds — more deaths plus economic stagnation. But that message was ignored, and here we are..


Risk assessment poster for you.

T-Cells. There’s more than one kind of immunity. Long twitter unroll.

The airliner crash metaphor for our pandemic response. Long Atlantic article.

Air conditioning makes it worse. Long, hot summer.

Think like an epidemiologist. Long but interesting thread

Group testing. Bring your friends along.

Recovered from covid? Are you sure?

Covid drugs. State of play.

A doctor chews out his patient.

Pandemic heroes.

Pandemic mental health.

The geography of the pandemic in the US is determined by our original regional differences.

Stuck @ Home?

Get someone to explain it to you.



Anime Preview: Summer 2020

July 3, 2020

Unlike others, who use knowledge of the source materials, close observation of the previews, and who actually read the press releases, I’m going to base mine on pretty much just the title and the cover art. Only seven shows ’cause it’s a really thin season.

First, let’s say what’s not in here. Sequels and continuations of stuff I dropped years ago (Shokugeki no Souma, SOA), movies and OVA’s, and anything with Re: in the title.

WILL WATCH: The title or the cover art is properly enticing, so I definitely will watch at least the first three eps

MIGHT WATCH: The cover art is not too off-putting, so I might watch it.

WON’T WATCH. The cover art and/or the title tells me more than I ever wanted to know on the topic.

Popcorn Oats

July 2, 2020

Our local single-A-short-season baseball club, like all professional sports organizations, has fallen on hard times due to the pandemic. One way they are trying to make the rent is by offering an occasional Ballpark Dinner that you pick up at the stadium and take home to eat while you watch a ten-year-old Mariners game on cable. Yes, it’s expensive for what you get, but it’s all in support of a local baseball team, and that’s important. Components include things like hot dogs and hamburgers ….and popcorn. Specifically, a two-foot high tube of buttered ballpark popcorn. Like movie popcorn, it

…contains more fat than a breakfast of bacon and eggs, a Big Mac and fries, and a steak dinner …. combined.

What more could you ask for in a breakfast?

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup broth, two handsfulls of buttered popcorn, one fat pinch of shred cheese, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Stir in the popcorn and the cheese at the end.

Results: Very good. Very buttery tasting. Go light on the salt, because it has its own supply. I left out the potatoes because we already had enough grains in it, and the extra broth made a nice gravy. Watch out for hull fragments in your teeth.

Rating: ****  Four Star

Pandemic 34

June 30, 2020

A bunch of good links in this one.

Quote of the day

It doesn’t take an official lockdown to push local economies back into recession – many people will pull back as the number of cases and hospitalizations rise.

I do expect another round of disaster relief in July … Without this relief, the entire US economy might slide back into recession in August. But even with another round of disaster relief, it seems likely the recovery will stall unless progress is made in slowing the spread of the virus.

After a decade of making fun of bearish analysts and writing “the future is bright”, it pains me to be pessimistic. I hope I’m wrong on the virus, but if I’m correct, then I expect every major economic forecast will be revised down for the 2nd half of 2020 and for early 2021.


Science by press release. Very good. Long.

How we missed it. Long. Also good.

Coronavirus and cancer. L…G…

We’ve only just begun. Wasn’t that a Carpenters song?

Getting a vaccine. Harder than you think.

About all those dead people that got paid. Yeah, about them.

The fall and fall of the CDC.

What covid and cancer teach us about US healthcare system.
…TL;DR: It sucks.

…and an insurance company exec admits they lie about it. Also.

Stuck @ Home?

Recreate your own Bayeux Tapestry.

Watch some free international films. Some require that you speak international.



Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 29, 2020

Garden Report for 200629

Marginally pleasant the last two weeks, with cloud and scattered showers and temps in the 70s. Forecast is for more of the same.

Harvested most of the radishes in the aluminum container, so ~3 weeks from planting to produce. I’ll dig the remainder in a few days, then replant.

Bought two new indoor planters (green) from the ‘zon. Wanted to go with something local, but everyone’s been out. One of the lettuce planters was at the end of its cut-and-come-again life, so I harvested the last and cleaned it out.

One green planter got a scattering of Iceberg, and the other got a scattering of Tennisball. They are both 30″, like the others (terracotta), but are larger in HxW so they are harder to manipulate on the shelf. Planted two lengths of Lento lettuce in the terracotta.

An interesting package turned up in the UPS this week — a small package of non-tape multicolored carrots, from Uzbekistan of all places. So I laid down another grill in Section 3, and planted the carrots, plus one tape each of Hannibal leeks and Bunching onions.

MJ brought some Zucchini and Lemon cucumber home from Home Depot, so those went into a couple of the deck containers what were empty, plus the big half-barrel out front.


Buffalo Oatmeal

June 25, 2020

Last time I wrote about Buffalo Oats it was about using drippings from real bison (I said drippings). This time it’s about Buffalo, New York, -style oatmeal. Think, whole grain buffalo wings. You see, MJ has been buying deli-sliced meats recently, including deli-sliced chicken, what we eat for lunch. Last week they were out of the plain, tastes-like-chicken slices, so she bought a package of buffalo-spiced slices. Turns out, they were too spicy, so the package languished in the fridge until I decided to try it with oatmeal.

I chopped about a quarter cup of the sliced-chicken-breast-with-buffalo-style-seasonings and mixed it into the broth (chicken, beef, didn’t seem to matter). Then proceeded as normal.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, 1/4 cup of chopped buffalo chicken slices, one cup broth, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end.

Results: Very good. The chicken essentially disappeared. No taste, no mouth feel. All that was left was the spicyness, and the oatmeal was bland enough to make that more than edible.

Rating: ***  Three stars

Pandemic 33

June 24, 2020

Lots of links. No joy.

Quote of the day

The pandemic has laid bare the inequities in the American health care system and economic safety net. Black and Latino Americans are dying at much higher rates than white Americans. “When we talk about preexisting conditions, it isn’t just if I’m obese, it’s our society’s preexisting condition,” says medical anthropologist Carol Worthman of Emory University, an expert in global mental health. The scientific study of psychological resilience is not a new field. But COVID-19 is fairly unique in that it’s triggering a wide range of stressors, from the death of loved ones, isolation, and massive financial loss to uncertainty about what happens next.

If researchers meet the challenge of ­COVID-19, says psychiatrist Dennis Charney of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, “there will be a whole new science of resilience. We could learn how to help people become more resilient before these things happen.”


The EU is opening up, but is thinking of blocking visitors from shithole countries once they do.

What kind of mask is best?

No second wave. Just exponential growth.

But if there is a second wave, here’s how to avoid it. TL;DR: Do what we should have done for the first wave.

How to breath during a pandemic. Just the reverse of what you might do naturally.

Covid won’t just kill you, it will make you really sick.

Lies my coronavirus website told me.

Stuck @ Home?

Take up fencing. “We have masks…we have gloves…we stab anyone coming within 6 feet of us!”

Be inspired by neural networks. Strange recipes.

Read a free Standard Ebook. Pretty printing for Project Gutenberg.



Memories of my youth: Checkpoint Charlie

June 22, 2020

Thirty years ago today, Checkpoint Charlie — for years the only official link between East and West Berlin — was closed decommissioned. Checkpoints Alpha and Bravo were at either end of the Helmstedt Autobahn, from West Germany into West Berlin. The autobahn was the only land link to Berlin, and it was its closure, 72 years ago next Wednesday, that triggered the start of the Berlin Airlift.

In the mid 1970’s I was stationed with a C-130 unit at RAF Mildenhall, England. One of our missions was to be able to fly another Berlin Airlift if the Soviets closed Helmstedt again. To do that, our crews regularly flew through the air corridors into the Berlin Control Zone, landing between the apartment buildings at Templehof Flughafen. I often went along for the ride, and did touristy stuff in Berlin, including a tour of East Berlin, passing through Checkpoint Charlie. Being in the Soviet Sector was creepy, and the hair on my neck was as high as my adrenalin levels the whole time.

My Next Life as a Villainess

June 21, 2020

And so My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! AKA Bakarina comes to an end, with a not-really-surprising surprise ‘friendship’ ending, and a somewhat surprising sequel announcement. I’m not going to rehash the series — I assume you’ve seen it, and that nothing I’m going to say will be a spoiler for you. What I am going to do is remark on a couple of aspects of the show that I found interesting.

I liked the anime, and have read many of the novels on J-Novel. However, it’s a bit of a one-trick pony. Catarina hits her head, remembers a ‘past life’, realizes she’s the villainess in an otome dating game Fortune Lover, and devotes the rest of the season fighting to avoid the numerous bad ends she’s threatened with. She comes across as rather dense, hence the #Bakarina hashtag, and that is the basis for the rest of the story.

Of course, part of the supposed density is because she’s laser-focused on avoiding the bad endings. Everything else, she tunes out. If one of the boys confesses to her — “I want to stand by your side forever, Catarina sama” — her reaction tends to be “yes, yes, happy to hear that, but what do you think of Maria, the main heroine?” Same with the girls, with the additional aspect that she appears to be totally oblivious to any yuri implications. Even Mary saying that they should both ditch their fiancees and run away together, and by the way here’s a map and some boat schedules that will get us to this offshore island I have chosen doesn’t really get through to her. She’s constantly worried about doom flags because her death or exile is baked into the game and at one point she’s inside her head, yelling at the production crew about game balance.

Another interesting aspect of the anime is how it treats reincarnation. When Catarina reincarnates, it’s not on Earth, not even on a later timeline. She’s on a different world (of course, it’s an isekai!). I don’t think she’s actually in the game (like Log Horizon), or in a world-as-a-game situation (Konosuba) The characters and setup and basic mechanics are there, but there’s no game-related features, no control panel or status board or whatever. So it’s a world that’s inspired by, not an instantiation of, Fortune Lover. One result of this structure is that Sasaki AtsukoAcchan, her friend back on Earth who presumably dies years after she does, reincarnates into her world at the same time she does, as Sophia. As usual with reincarnations, the reincarnated soul does not remember its former lives, except that Catarina takes a blow to the head, which jars her memories loose. No such thing happens with Sophi/Acchan.

That changes when Catarina gets put into a coma. Acchan visits her, gives her some useful information, and tells her she has to wake up. Meanwhile, Acchan is also inspiring Sophia, partly by appearing as her reflection, to go help Catarina. One difference between the LN and the anime is that in the novel it’s just Sophia doing the waking. In the anime, all of her friends are energized by fairy lights or something to go call her name. She wakes up and the rest, as they say, is otome. Meanwhile, we can infer from how their two souls are now linked, and from the last shot in the OP of them holding hands on the beach, that Acchan and Catarina (we never do find out what her Japanese name is) will be cycling through their future reincarnations together.

Right before the credits roll, we find that there’s going to be a second season. The anime used up only the first two volumes of a, so far, 9 volume light novel series (6 released in the US), so there’s plenty of room for a sequel, but I don’t think that a sequel is really necessary. Some stories have a natural arc, and when you reach the end of that arc, there’s really no need to go on, unless you think you can milk a few more yen from the fans, like a Rocky movie.

So with Villainess We started with our core problem, the MacGuffin if you will: how can Catarina avoid the bad ending that the game originally promised her. By the end of the season we have our solution: turn all of her game antagonists into real life friends. Once that’s been done, the only thing left is for her to continue to live in this otome world, without any assistance from her game knowledge, the way the rest of us have to make it through life. Unless the creators come up with something new, some overarching goal for Catarina, I’m afraid that we’re in for twelve episodes of and now what is Bakarina oblivious to? I’ve read some of the follow-on novels, and I’m not optimistic.

Perhaps they’ll come up with an anime original ending. After all, that’s what they did with Season 1!

Pandemic 32

June 18, 2020

The links just keep coming.

Quote of the day

The point of lockdowns was to both clamp down the rate of infection and create breathing space for the government to set up the more fine-grained test-trace-isolate containment systems. That is what’s already happening in many Asian and European countries.

Instead President Trump has squandered the last two months doing nothing, and it couldn’t be more obvious he isn’t going to start, ever. The rickety political consensus about sticking rigidly to containment procedures is therefore dissolving.

All this is a recipe for 1,000-2,000 deaths per day for the next year or so, and quite possibly many more than that. I had previously suspected that a second coronavirus wave would come in the fall, as happened during the 1918 influenza pandemic. But it looks terrifyingly likely we won’t have to wait that long.


Black Lives Matter protests have been ongoing across the country for three weeks — but do not appear to correlate with any increased rate of coronavirus. Protip for non-statisticians: because correlation is not causation, statistics can’t prove anything  (although they can make a really strong case). What they can do is disprove an idea — If there’s no correlation, then there’s no causation.

Dexamethasone helps. But you don’t want to qualify for it.

Predicting the covid. Wuhan bats, coronavirus, wet markets. Entire book on the topic. Eight years ago. Nobody listened.

Am I immune? Short answer…maybe.

Female leaders and the pandemic. Maybe ’cause testosterone makes it worse?

Calculating deaths. Died with or died from?

Covid forecasts, IHME.

Covid demographics.

Covid evolution.

Herd immunity. You don’t want it yet.

Doctors and patients. You can still get sick from other stuff.

How does the US rank on healthcare? Well … um … we’re ahead of China!

Scientific American paints a picture of covid.

Stuck @ Home?

Generate yourself some Chinese landscapes.



Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 16, 2020

Garden Report for 200615

June Gloomish. Highs in the 70’s, lows around 50. Rain, clouds, dull. Quick touch of the 80’s on Friday, and then temps plunged into the 50’s. Next week, more of the same.

Not much going on on the production front yet. The lettuce I planted in containers indoors is doing well (I’m trimming a leaf or two every other day), and the outdoor container of radishes has given us three or so, but it will be another two months before anything comes up in the main garden. I’m quietly laughing at all those who ran out and bought up all the vegetable seeds when the lockdown started. They may well be back at work before anything ripens. But hey, at least they’ll have fresh asparagus, right?

Laid down a second anti-squirrel grill in Section 3. Planted chard, bunching onions, and bok choy, all on tape. One row of scattered Iceberg lettuce seeds — they won’t head, but they do make nice leaf lettuce. Squirrels dug up the space between the grills overnight, but didn’t get to the plants.

The aluminum container is coming up radishes. Unlike last time.

Mulched the new trees some more, and added more rock. Continued my war on the burdock.

90.1 Days of Lockdown

June 12, 2020

Remember that chair in the family room that MJ found? The one I forgot existed? Hidden under all the stuff that the chair was hidden under was a bunch of books from some years ago:

Shelby Foote, Civil War, Vol 1

CJ Cherryh, Fortress in the Eye of Time

Leo Frankowski, Cross Time Engineer

Frank Stenton, Anglo Saxon England

James Gleick, The Information

While I’ve read all or parts of them, I had only gotten 100 pages or so into the Civil War book. Since we’d just watched Grant on the History Channel I decided to read that, starting at the beginning again.

I am just past Ft. Sumter and my overwhelming impression is that… books are heavy. I want my tablet back.

90 Days of Lockdown

June 11, 2020

90 days ago, on the 13th of March, MJ’s church decided to close for the duration of the pandemic. This was shortly after most of a church choir infected themselves over on Westside. Our household went into hard lockdown at the same time — MJ only went out once a week (during old folks hours) for groceries, and all churchly business was conducted via Zoom. As for me, what with the blood cancer and the obesity and the agedness, I’ve got enough risk factors that I’m not going to be able to attend any weddings until the return of Haley’s Comet.

So, how have we done, the last three months? Pretty good, I’d say. Computer-hating MJ has gotten really good at recording vids for choir practice, and the CUMC virtual services are now being used throughout the NW. Several rooms that were mostly collecting spaces for junk are now being cleaned out (turns out, the living room has a really nice rug, and there’s a chair in the family room I’d totally forgotten about). The dogs haven’t had the advantage of training at the dog club, but we are developing workarounds — recently a group of friends are doing socially-distanced training sessions in the park once a week.

As for me, I’m well on my way to gaining my quarantine fifteen. No programming, and no Japanese study, but lots of anime, and a few light novels. I spend my time scanning the interwebs for covid reports and political news and sending links out in my Found On Web emails to friends, or publishing them in my Pandemic blog posts. The weather is allowing more garden activity and in recent weeks I’ve hit the hardware store for plants and such (and found they are out of a lot of stuff).

We’ve started doing more family-oriented activities, like watching Buffy and playing Cornhole. I’m working on an indoor putting green, complete with water hazards and sand traps but, once again, the hardware store is out of sand.

So, overall, we are weathering this much better than many people. Of course, being retired means I was already out of a job, but still had an income. MJ likes doing things with folks, but I’m a bit of a hikikoneet anyway. We have a house, not an apartment. No kids running around, burning off energy, just Golden Retrievers who think they are lapdogs. Others are not so lucky.


Pandemic 31

June 11, 2020

The links — more than before.

Quote of the post

You have to be strict and you have to be patient, staying the course until the pandemic is over, not giving in to the temptation to return to normal life while the virus is still widespread.

So it is, as I said, a kind of marshmallow test. And America is failing that test.

In many parts of the country — including our most populous states — the disease is still spreading. Overall, new cases are plateauing and may be starting to rise. Yet state governments are moving to reopen anyway — Paul Krugman



An epidemiologist talks about the pandemic. Very long. Very much worth reading.

Cool Covid graphics. How does your state tilt?

Fiscal recovery policy. Lower the VAT. Too bad we don’t have one of them.

Reopening universities. Good luck with that.

In case you wondered. The shutdown worked… as far as we let it.

Testosterone makes the COVID more virile.

Hospital traffic and web searches in Wuhan suggests the virus was active in early Fall. Here’s the actual study (2MB pdf). Note that this doesn’t necessarily mean that people recognized that it was a new virus at the time.

US Navy/CDC study shows 60% of the crew were infected, 20% of infected sailors were asymptomatic.

Heat and humidity kill covid. Hours of sunlight available to stroll down to the bar help it spread.

Fauci’s fears.

The immediate future: roller coaster.

Wear a mask.

Stuck @ Home?

Watch some random YouTubes that nobody else has watched. Here’s the link.

Cook a wolf. The kind that might be at your door right now.




Socialized Medicine

June 10, 2020

Here’s a list of the Standard & Poor’s credit ratings for various countries. Only ten countries have held the coveted AAA rating continuously since the US got downgraded on this date in 2013. All ten of them have socialized medicine. Just sayin’.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 8, 2020

Garden Report for 200608

Surprisingly nice this week. Clouds off and on, with highs in the mid 70’s and lows in the mid 40’s. Then, the weekend, with winds and rains and t-storms. Upcoming, more of the June Gloom. Highs 50/75. Lows 40/50. Rain, etc.

Laid down an anti-squirrel grill in Section 3 after planting two rows of carrots and one row each of chard and leeks. Put the soaker hose on top so I can reconfigure as necessary. Will probably do the same in the remaining half around mid-month.

The aluminum container has convinced me that it’s just weeds. I presumably filled it with dirt and then forgot to put down a radish tape. Interesting how that many weeds can spring up in garden soil. I think it was a commercial mix, and not something I dug out of the fallow parts of the garden. Dumped it all out and refilled and re-planted — OK, planted — with radish.

Configured the garden bags along the house with a soaker hose on the same timer as the main garden. Had to weave it amongst the tomato cages and then tie it in place with zip ties.


Pandemic 30

June 7, 2020

The links — more than before.

Quote of the post

However, we are plainly still light-years from full economic recovery, and America will need further economic rescue to avoid becoming trapped in a severe depression. If Republicans keep declaring premature economic victory, they will do untold damage to Trump’s re-election prospects. — Ryan Cooper


COVID is forever.

Modeling the molecule.

CRISPR genes.

Reopening risks. Eh?

Hydroxychloroquine. Don’t do that.

Flattening the curve. What works. …about what you’d expect.

Office cough simulation. So, how high do the barriers need to be?

BCG vaccine. Never heard of it? That’s OK, ’cause it don’t work.

The once and future pandemics. We’re doomed.

Stuck @ Home?

Japanese radio taiso exercises. Three minute YouTube vid. Here it is in English. Everybody in Japan does these, including construction crews at the start of a shift.

Suspension trainers. Not the shoes.

The Ickabog. No Harry Potter, no magic, except of course the magic of JK Rowling. Read to your kids. Draw the pictures.




Pandemic 29

June 4, 2020

The links — few but mighty.

Quote of the post

I’m cautiously optimistic that with the multiple candidates we have with different platforms, that we are going to have a vaccine that will make it deployable. While the number of deaths from Covid-19 are profound, largely people recover from this disease. Recovery shows that there is an immune response that can clear the virus. So if the body is capable of making an immune response to clear the virus of natural infection, that’s a pretty good proof of concept. Having said that, there is never a guarantee. Dr. Anthony Fauci

For some reason there hasn’t been much reporting on the pandemic this week, but here’s what we’ve got:

COVID in France. In November.

Asymptomatic. 80% of those infected.

Getting to a vaccine. Short article, long time.

Yeah, China dragged their feet. Like they always do.

Wearing a mask reduces your risk by up to 85 percent. Gritty details.

also…social distancing.

Even what little data there was supporting hydroxy is now suspect.

Heat cuts down on infections. Unless it’s a dry heat.

Stuck @ Home?

PE for shut-ins. Dodgeball?



Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 1, 2020

Garden Report for 200601

Mild, then hot and dry, then hot and humid, then hot and wet, then cold and windy and wet. Coming up…June gloom.

Started my final round of planting. MJ stopped at the hardware store on her Tuesday supply run and bought a bunch of yellow Zucchini, and bush Delicata. Zucchini went in Section 2. Delicata went into one of the deck containers. The store packed them in bags, not trays, so many were broken, but they seem to have survived. I made another run, for cottage stone and mulch for the trees, and bought a couple of Spaghetti Squash. Even before teh covid Jarms wasn’t carrying as much in the way of vegetable seedlings as they had in the past.

The small container lettuce is doing well, as are the container radishes. We harvested one container of the lettuce and replanted it, and it’s already near to harvest again. I’ll do a cut-and-come-again until the container fills up, then I’ll harvest the whole bunch and start over. The only one I’m having issues with is the small (18″) metal one (it used to be something else, like a refrigerator tray or something). I thought I’d planted it with radish seeds-on-tape, but what’s come up looks more like weeds. I’ll have to wait and see how they develop to be sure. They’re doing well, and growing like… like… something that grows very fast.

Went out in the tail end of Sunday’s wind and rainstorm, when the mossies were low, and dug up half of Section 3, in preparation for about 12ft of seeds-on-tape. Planting on Monday or so, when the wind dies down. Also chopped down all the burdock I could find.


Pandemic 28

May 28, 2020

Have we got some links for you!

Quote of the post

Brazil surpasses the United States in number of daily coronavirus deaths. Of course once the weather in Brazil gets warm, the coronavirus should just vanish.


Trump and the American response. This would be overtly political, if it wasn’t all so true.

open and shut cases.

Remdesivir helps. Some. No mention of hydroxys.

Masks do help.

Why to wear a mask. If you could smell someone’s cigarette smoke at that distance, you can breath their aerosols.

Questions raised about hydroxychloroquine study. Well, all hydroxychloroquine studies.

Stuck @ Home?

Do some random stuff.

Listen to a podcast.



Arame Oatmeal

May 28, 2020

So, the first thing you need to know is that arame is not hijiki, but you can treat them the same way, OK?

Now that we’ve got that cleared up, let’s talk seaweed or, as the industry likes to call them, sea vegetables. You wouldn’t want to eat weeds, would you? There’s a number of different kinds, but I’m going to talk about the packet of dried arame I found at the back of a cupboard. In looking around for recipes, I found one for brown rice and arame. Well as I always say, anything you can do with brown rice you can do with oatmeal.

First, you grab a fat pinch, about a quarter cup, of the dry arame fibers* and soak them in water for about 10 minutes. They double in size. Drain and chop and fry in a small amount of vegetable oil for a couple of minutes. Add enough water to cover, and simmer for another 15-20 minutes (the recipe says 25min, but I’m also cooking them with the oatmeal).

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup dashi broth, the previously prepared arame, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end. NOTE: If you cook the arame in your oatmeal pot you can just dump the broth and oatmeal in on top.

Results: Very good. Not blow your clothes off good, but a nice breakfast, or dinner side. Very mild seaweed flavor. I had left off the salt because the recipes implied a certain amount of salt water. The recipes were wrong. Also, a dash of shoyu helped.

Rating: ***

* I’m using Emerald Cove Organic Pacific Arame, harvested 20ft below the low tide mark by deep diving Japanese women — and you thought they only went after pearls. It’s ~$49 for a 6-pack of ~2oz bags at Amazon this week. Probably less at Trader Joe’s or similar. I think I got our single-pack at our local Huckleberry’s. The six pack will last the normal home somewhere between a month and ten years.

Looking at Escaflow, Ne? — Part 2

May 27, 2020

As the curtain comes up on the second half, we find V inside E-ne, bleeding from every access port, and embark on another summary.

  • A’s ship just happens to encounter an As convoy led by Dy. Remember him? He’s the fiancee of Mi, who loves A who slept with her dead sister Ma to produce C who turns his country’s greatest power over to Z. Drawing the relationship diagram is left as an exercise for the reader.
  • It turns out that V’s wounds match the damage to E-ne. Dy summons the Ip roadside repair ship and agrees to pay the 50 million woolong repair bill by hocking his convoy. The Ip’s operate on E-ne without an anesthetic, healing V in the process. Then, like every garage mechanic I’ve ever encountered, they fake up some reason to void the warranty.
  • Di and his hench-mechas attack the convoy. V takes E-ne and kills everyone but Di. Their ghosts then pull E-ne spiritually down to the realm of death, along with V and H (who arrives just in time to get her hand stuck in a viewport). This doesn’t last, and they soon return to life, such as it is.
  • After a couple of sub-plots, involving angels, magma, two leopard girls, a cat and a declaration of love, V, H, and E-ne return, and Dy announces that the answers to all their questions are to be found in the Mystic Valley (MV), so off they go. Meanwhile, the forces of Z, lead by F, minus Di, who has gone mad enough that even the others notice, follow them.
  • Our Heroes reach MV by way of a sky portal, followed by the leopard girls, Enya and Narnia (E&N). Inside, they each have different experiences. A has a long heart-to-heart with his dead father (L) and sees his long-missing sister (Ce). H sees V’s mother (Vf) and her own grandmother (Ob). Ob, by the way, is the girl who inspired L to leave Vf and seek her in MV where she got the pendant that H uses. Meanwhile, V suffers a crisis of confidence that’s only resolved by the appearance of E&N, giving him somebody to hit. Vf gives V a new energy jewel for E-ne, and everyone gets transported out of MV as the portal breaks up.
  • Most of Our Heroes end up on the not-MV snowfield next to their ship, but A, H, V and E-ne get transported to Z. After a brief visit with Emperor Dk, captivity, and some other adventures, they find themselves back in an already-rebuilt Pa, where H and A are subjected to long distance mind warping by Dk, and V encounters the ever-popular anime trope of misconstruing an out of context observation.
  • H then lies to Mi about how successful the upcoming marriage with Dy will be, leaving out the part about an affair with A. E&N bet their luck in a raid on As to get H, but their luck runs out and they die in F’s arms. V attacks F’s Castle In The Sky, but his luck turns bad as well — he destroys the castle, but not F.
  • V pursues brother F to the ruins of their ancestral home. After a heartwarming reconciliation on the ashes of their capitol city, mediated by H and a couple of lizards, V, F, and H return to As, which then is hit by a surprise attack from Z.
  • There’s a brief intermezzo for scenery changes, during which H gets whisked back home, wakes up in a hospital bed, relives her last day on Earth and gets dragged off by V. Again. She never does find out if she beat her best time on the track.
  • They return to find a great battle in progress between Z and the newly-allied forces of everybody else. One of their allies drops a nuke on the Z capitol, winning the war and leaving the capitol totally undamaged. Deprived of an enemy, the allies start fighting each other.
  • Despite the fact that Z has lost, mad-dog Di continues fighting, because that’s what he does. In the middle of a fight with V, the emotional stress of losing all the people he thought of as friends makes Di decide to come out as his true persona, Ce. V struggles to accept this new development, a quarter century too early for gender neutral pronouns.
  • F takes H to Z just in time to see Emperor Dk start the Fate-o-Tron. F pulls a Darth Vader on Dk and, just like in the movies, they both die. But it’s too late. Once the Fate-o-Tron starts to work, it can’t be turned off. Besides, the only one left is H, and her skills do not include hacking unknown operating systems. V senses that H is in danger, and angels-up to fly across the battlefield to her side. In the stress of the moment V starts to molt, which makes the soldiers of both sides realize that there are some things worse than war.
  • V destroys the Fate-o-Tron by smashing into it with his head, saving H and bringing peace to Gaea. Afterwards, V (perhaps realizing that the reason why he and Di were always fighting wasn’t hatred after all) sends H back to Earth, assuring her that he will keep in touch, you know, with telepathy.

VoE is truly operatic, in the Grand Opera tradition. It reminds me of some of Joe Green’s longer works, Don Carlos comes to mind, but at ten and a half hours run time it’s well over twice the length of that opera and almost twice the length of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger.

In fact, VoE has everything for the opera bouffe — convoluted plot, unexpected and improbable reveals, betrayal of friends, betrayal by friends, bad lab results;  love, death, and bombastic music. All it needs is arias. V and F could sing “Ho sempre saputo che eri un bravo ragazzo” on the ruins of Farnia. H could sing “Ci rivedremo, non sapremo dove, non sapremo quando.” to V as she gives up a chance to be queen in order to return to a land with better Internet. And A and V together could sing “Come dovrei chiamarti, ora che sei una ragazza” to Di.

Or maybe it’s more like one of those Elizabethan plays that inspired the operas, say Hamlet. As Shakespeare might have said: An’ Van Fanel, knee-deep in mechs, lived happy ever after.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 25, 2020

Garden Report for 200525

The weather was cool and mild, when it wasn’t cold and rainy. On Thursday we had a record 1.33″ of rain. This coming week will see a warming trend, to 86F on the weekend.

Not much happened this reporting period, nor the previous one, for that matter. The state is slowly opening up, but MJ and I are still hiding under the sheltering in place. I figure the Memorial Day rush will last through Tuesday, so on Wednesday I plan to hit the hardware store for landscape materials and more seedlings.

Our container lettuce and our recycled onions and celery seem to be doing OK, although another onion I started last week seems to have rotted. The weeds are doing well, and it’s still eight weeks to weedmonaþ.

Looking at Escaflow, Ne? – Part 1

May 22, 2020

So, the Spring Season has come all over viral and there’s nothing much to watch (see TLDR). To fill in the time, time that I othertimes would have spent down the pub, I’ve been rewatching anime I like (Hi, Tanya), and watching some classic anime for the first time.  This week, it’s Vision of Escaflowne. At 26 episodes, it’s too long to take in one gulp, so I’m breaking this writeup into two parts; each one is about 600 words, with spoilers.

VoE is a 1996 series that takes itself way too seriously. The plot is best described as overly operatic, with twists and turns and reveals that would turn Joe Green some color with envy. Herewith, a quick, nine paragraph summary of the first half. I’m going to list characters with letters, because things are confusing enough, without having to remember Dilandau and Dryden and Dornkirk and all those other Japanese names:

Good Guys

  • Earth girl H encounters prince V and finds herself Spirited Away from Earth to its invisible twin, G, which appears to hang around the Lagrange L3 Point without disturbing any other orbits.
  • Turns out that V has a brother, F, who defected to evil empire Z.
  • At the order of evil Emperor Dk, the forces of Z, led by F in his Flying Castle, aided by evil knight Di, destroys V’s homeland, despite the best efforts of V in his mecha, E-ne. Di is obviously mad, I tell you, with a trope-level high pitched giggle, and a facial scar that hurts whenever he thinks of V, which is all the time.
  • H and V are rescued by A, a knight of country As, and taken to his capital Pa, a prosperous harbor town surrounded by steep mountains and with nothing in the way of productive hinterland. Evidently, they survive by selling each other fish.
  • Di finds V and H in Pa and attacks them, again, and again they are saved by A.

Bad Guys

  • They escape the burning city with the help of A, but A is captured. He escapes with the help of Princess Mi, who loves him even though she is betrothed to Dy.
  • After a minor sub-plot involving Z graverobbers, exploding fuel depots, and an angel, they head to Fr, but on the way are again attacked by that persistent bastard Di, who injures A, who is cured by Mi, who just happens to be passing by.
  • On arrival in Fr they meet Prince C, who, it turns out, is A’s child by Mi’s dead sister Ma, instead of being Duke Fr’s son as everyone thinks. Mi finds this out by reading Ma’s diary, which the Duke has left lying around. At this point, one can only hope that A is older than he looks.
  • After a minor sub-plot involving a Z prisoner, a Z shape-shifter, a fake monk-interrogator, three murders, and a false accusation, Z attacks Fr, burns the capitol, and kills the Duke, so that leadership devolves upon Prince C, who (in a gesture of friendship) surrenders the power to destroy Atlantis (don’t ask) to Z. As the curtain falls for the Intermission, V has decided to marry E-ne, and he, A, and H fly away to meet Dy.

Doomed Cities

At this point I am reminded of the NATO vs Warsaw Pact wargames of a previous century — it doesn’t matter which scenario you play, every city involved ends up in flames and ruins.

This is an anime that you can date immediately by its art style. It’s not spiky hair shonen, but everyone looks like they spend a lot of time with combs and jells. As for their faces, if a sudden plot turn said they all were descendants of Bob Hope, I’d believe it.

Pandemic 27

May 21, 2020

The links just keep coming.

Quote of the post:

We’re retreating to a new strategy on covid-19. Let’s call it what it is… At the beginning of the outbreak, the United States had a chance to contain the novel virus by identifying each person bringing the infection into the country and stopping it before it spread in the community. We failed, with a lack of testing largely to blame…What’s next, then? The administration has yet to use these words, but it appears that we’re adopting a strategy that I recognize from other aspects of public health: harm reduction.


First, do less harm.

Advice from Canada. On working from home.

It’s not enough to have a plan. You have to read it.

Antimicrobal turns out to work on viruses also.

Qualified immunity. We won’t know if you stay immune for a year until a year has passed.

Advice from the CDC. Don’t eat poop.

Cloning the virus. We’re doomed.

Masks and separation. How they work.

Stanford antibody test. Flawed.

Freedom in the time of covid. My position is that it’s even simpler than they say. You’ve been drafted. Uncle Sam wants you…to wear a mask.

3 months to wave 2.

Stuck @ Home?

Fish mask. For your mask. Some assembly required.

Another Coffee filter mask. For use in emergencies, like drowsiness.



Happy Eliza Doolittle Day

May 20, 2020

Go for a walk. Wear a hat.

Don’t be like Eliza. Wear a mask.


You’ve been drafted.

May 19, 2020

Over on, there’s an interesting article on personal freedom in the time of COVID. The essence is that the needs of the few are outweighed by the needs of the many — while you are free to not wear a mask, you are not free to go maskless if that will infect others.

I have a simpler formulation. In the interest of maintaining a well-regulated militia, you have been drafted, and are now subject to military orders, and the first order is, wear the damn mask!

Uncle Sam wants you to practice good social distancing


Pandemic 26

May 15, 2020

It just keeps chugging along.

Quote of the post

The virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away. HIV has not gone away, but we’ve come to terms with the virus and we have found therapies and we have found the prevention methods, and people don’t feel as scared as they did before. When it comes to a vaccine, there are no promises in this and there are no dates, and even if one is created, that does not mean the coronavirus will instantly be eliminated. Recent measles outbreaks are proof of that.


Paul Krugman tells why we should be running bigger deficits right now.

COVID Recession. Global. Long. Hysterical.

Women and COVID. Taking the risks, bearing the burdens, with fewer resources.

Politics and compliance. Democrats listen to governors. Republicans listen to Trump.


Lucky 19.

Risk assessment. A practical guide.

Glass shortage. Systems theory says that everything is connected to everything else.

Hydroxychloroquine don’t work. Two studies so far.

But Vit D helps.

The pandemic is no reason to cut social security. Even Trump knows that, but the GOP at large?

No requirement to cooperate.

Stuck @ Home?

Stuff to read. Classics

Yet another covid simulator.

Time to herd immunity simulator. What happens without a vaccine.

4-second bike exercise. Well, it’s really 4 minutes

7-minute floor exercise. With details.

Bored kids.

I must admit it’s getting better…isn’t just a Beatles song. Includes a link to a Hans Rosling TED talk. Well worth the time.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 13, 2020

Garden Report for 200518

Rain showers off and on throughout the week and windy, with temps in the lower 60’s.

Took down the greenhouse. Didn’t do much for me this year, except as a rack of shelving for the trays of seedlings. Planted out the seedlings I’d started from seed. All but two went into the garden bags along the east side of the house. Didn’t bother to separate the individual plants — I dropped 3 or 4 seeds in each pot, and 2 or 3 of them sprouted. I’ll thin them out later.

I thought I was getting things planted early, but this is about the same time as I did most of my planting last year and in 2017. I planted later in 2018, but part of that was post-chemotherapy fatigue.

Container radishes are doing well. Container lettuce also.




The people go away…

May 12, 2020

…and nature returns

No mastodons, yet.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 11, 2020

Garden Report for 200511

Alternating sunny/calm and windy/rain through the weekend, with temps in the upper 60’s to low 40’s. The coming week has showers predicted daily, with highs in the upper 60s/low 70’s.

I set up the irrigation system for Sections 1 and 2. Surprisingly, everything worked, and only one part had to be cut out because the soaker hose had rotted.

Took my life in my hands and ventured out to the hardware store on Saturday — first time in six weeks or so that I’ve been out of the house other than for walks. Too many people. Half with masks, none with any distancing skills, so I dashed in and grabbed seedlings more or less at  random. I’m cutting way back on my plans for the garden this summer, with an initial plan for just Sections 1 and 2. We plan on staying in lockdown for most of the summer.

Section 1 got the tomatoes: Big Boy, Brandywine, Beefsteak, Champion. Section 2 got six cucumbers (don’t ask…I was in a hurry), acorn squash, and canteloup. Next week I’ll plant out the seedlings that I started earlier.

Up on the deck are the Rom and Early Girl that MJ picked up at a different store last week. One long container of radishes on the railing. A couple of long containers of lettuce, which I think I’ll keep in the house to see how they do under the grow lamps.

I am trying an experiment based on a ‘start your own garden’ article — cut the bottoms off of onions and celery and restart them in a saucer of water, planting them out when they get big enough. So far, I’ve started and planted two onions and one celery in one of the deck containers, with one more of each coming on.

The trees are doing well. All three have leafed out. Except for its size, the .jp maple looks like it’s been there for years.

Pandemic 25

May 10, 2020

Herewith, yet another batch of scary links.

Quote of the day

It’s highly likely that we’re not going to see the next thing coming, so we need to build more resilience into our society and ensure we’re adaptive to whatever comes. The fact that everything is unraveling amid what’s actually a relatively mild pandemic does not bode well.


There’s more than just a pandemic out there. Threat profiles the Intelligence Community didn’t want to publish.

COVID vs the Global Economy. Recovery won’t look like Victory.

Overpromising on a vaccine.

A history of COVID, starting with the times of Ghengis Khan

Testing, testing…

Testing. Antibody testing is different from diagnostic testing.

Don’t count on summer.

Straining the virus. There’s only one strain of SARS-CoV-2, with multiple isolates.

Virologist with the virus. At least it wasn’t Ebola.

New timeline.

What can one sick person can do? Shut down South Korea, for one thing.

Finally, I get some porn in this series.

Stuck @ Home?

Staying sane during shutdown. Plan for the worst and hope things don’t go downhill from there.

Boardless games.

Tangiplay. If you want your kids to grow up to be coders.

Kid Stuff.

Pandemic 24

May 6, 2020

Herewith, some more links that you might not have seen, or that you really should see, or that might just be interesting.

Quote of the day

We still have a high level of infection in this country. We’ve reached a plateau, but we haven’t seen the kind of declines that we were expecting to see at this point, and as we start to reopen the country, cases are likely to go up, not down.

I think that we need to understand, this may be the new normal. We may not be able to get transmission down much more.

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb


Stonekettle on civilization, leadership, and acting responsibly.

Post-pandemic Pre-dictions.

Adult children and responsibility

What happens next? This? More probably this. Note that, if we assume that early October is when the electorate makes up its mind, then that will be based on actions taken in late August.

Carbon lockdown.

CDC projections. Internal document, not vetted, not good news.

Modeling social distancing. This is a systems dynamics model. An alternative would be agent-based.

Early France. First case was in December.

What the economy needs. Hint: it’s not what Trump is doing.

Extra deaths due to reopening are not likely to show up much before Memorial Day.

SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2. More than just a model change.

Speaking of SARS-CoV-2, have you seen the new G614 model? You can’t get anything for the old D614’s since they came out.

Roast your mask. 185F for 20 minutes for a N95 mask. No word on the ignition temperature of my microfiber cloth.

NYT on cleaning. TL;DR You should let the disinfectant sit on the surface for at least a minute.

Stuck @ Home?

Exercise and ARDS — it’s never too late to buff up against COVID. Well, OK, it’s too late for you, but you’ll feel better about how you look in a hospital gown.

Cartographic puzzles. When you’ve done all the others



Catarina’s Bow

May 5, 2020

The opening sequence of the anime My Next Life as a Villainess, ends with all the main characters taking a bow. There’s four males and four females, including Catarina. The males all bow the same way — right hand over heart (or in the case of Alan, maybe over pancreas) and left hand down. The other three women each bow differently, but in a distinctly feminine fashion — curtsy, front fig leaf, and hands down/palms out. Catarina’s bow is more like the men — right hand over heart, left hand out to side.

Just one of the guys

She obviously hasn’t bought into this world’s gender norms.

Pandemic 23

May 3, 2020

Herewith, some more links that you might not have seen, or that you really should see, or that might just be interesting.

Quote of the day

There are some viruses that we still do not have vaccines against. We can’t make an absolute assumption that a vaccine will appear at all, or if it does appear, whether it will pass all the tests of efficacy and safety.


Covid forecasts for May. ~40K +/- 15K deaths on top of the current 60K.

Test reliability. It depends

It ain’t over yet. It will go on and onMaybe forever.


Good News: Covid dropped CO2 emissions by 8%.
Bad News: We’ll have to triple that to fight global warming

Covid tracing apps — they don’t work.

Covid and your immune system. You may not want a fast response.

Covid strategies.

Experts predict surge in GA covid. Over 1,000/day

It also attacks your gut.

The post-virus economy.

Stuck @ Home?

Here’s another covid simulator.

Library of Congress hip hop sampler tool — the name of the tool is HipHop, the collection goes back a hundred years, probably doesn’t include a lot of hip hop.

Worn a hole in the heel of your old gym sock? No problem. Here’s how to turn it into a mask.

Monkey’s Paw.



Zombie Awareness Month

May 1, 2020

As proclaimed by the Zombie Products Marketing Board, May is Zombie Awareness Month. By awareness they don’t mean a month devoted to making zombies more aware of the world around them, but instead, ZAW wants to bring a greater awareness of zombies to the world around us.

The AniList fifty year database contains only 17 standard length television shows that are tagged as zombie. However, half those are shows on other topics where zombies have brief walk-on parts — Rage of Bahamut or Midnight Occult Civil Servants, for example — parts which could just as easily been performed by werewolves or ghouls or Girl Scouts. Excluding those, there are only eight shows that are truly about zombies, and half of those are about individuals, what you might call revenants rather than zombies (Sankarea, Is this a Zombie?, Zombie Loan, Blood Lad). One of the remainder is about zombies-as-idols (Zombieland), and one is about a fantasy steampunk world that is overrun with hordes of them (Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, which we know is not about Earth, because there’s no way Amtrak could get that kind of funding).

Only two anime in fifty years are traditional modern-day zombie infestation stories: School Live, and Highschool of the Dead. These two are the ones I want to concentrate on, and they couldn’t be more different.

School Live. Simply by naming School Live and zombies in the same sentence, I have committed a major, Rosebud-level, spoiler. Having gotten that out of the way, I can say that this is primarily a defensive plot. The students (who are all girls, and who all look to me like middle-schoolers, not highschool girls) are barricaded in the upper floor and roof of one of the school buildings, venturing out only to replenish their supplies. Their story is one of coping, and of psychological adjustment (they tell themselves they are just in the camping-out-in-school club). A key player in all this is Takeya Yuki, a cheery girl with a funny hat who seems to be in complete denial of their real status — she acts as if the school is fine and the club is real. As we go along we see that there is method to her madness, and all of her crazy machinations have elements designed to help her team mates cope. The series needs at least one sequel (and there seems to be enough source material in the manga), but there’s no indication that one is coming.

High School of the Dead. Once you get past the fan service, it is a classic of the zombie genre. Unlike School Live, it portrays an active response to the infestation. Starts out in a high school, but leaves before the end of the first episode, as the students look for their parents and a better refugia. Two boys, five girls (including one ditzy adult and one child). Their path across Tokyo lets them see all the different ways the disaster is playing out. Komuro Takashi, the male lead, is your typical difficult student who rises to the occasion. Busujima Saeko, who shares the lead female role, is the most psychologically complex (and her first name is pronounced psycho). After many travails and changes of transportation, the crew ends up at a shopping mall, an obvious tip of the hat to the original zombie films. The series badly needs a sequel (there’s at least two seasons worth of loose ends to clean up), but the source manga has been abandoned and it’s unlikely it will get one.

The zombies in both these anime act like they’ve been infected by a fast-acting virus. HOTD suggests that it might be a US military biowarfare experiment gone bad, and School Live actually has a plot point that describes it as a biological experiment that officials knew might get out of hand and had prepared a vaccine for. One commenter said these shows use a virus approach because Japanese Buddhists cremate their dead and therefore don’t have the Western idea of a traditional zombie burial and resurrection.

Unlike the zombies in the other series, these are mindless automota, with School Live giving them just enough memory of their past to head home when the club makes a PA announcement that the school is closing for the day, and HOTD framing them as responding only to sound (although they sometimes seem slightly more sentient than that, if it will improve the drama).

So, if you haven’t had enough exposure to killer virus programs this Spring, these two anime will give you a really good injection of classic zombie tropes. Then, suitably prepared, you can go rock to the idols of Zombieland.

Meanwhile, we have a different virus to worry about

Pandemic 22

April 29, 2020

Herewith, some more links that you might not have seen, or that you really should see, or that might just be interesting.

Quote of the day

But why is there such a close alliance between modern conservatism and quackery? One answer is that a political movement that demands absolute loyalty considers quacks more reliable than genuine experts, even if those experts currently support the movement’s policies.


Vaccines. We’re working on them.

Bad news on immunity turns out to be a false alarm.

COVID Kills Hong Kong. Well, accessory before the fact.

How will it all end? It depends.

Microfiber cloth is best for home made masks. But you gotta stack it.

Pandemics of the future. We’re doomed.

Turns out, you do need a weatherman.

Taking Responsibility — None of the headlines are encouraging

Epic failure.

Loss of world leadership.

Failed state.

Welcome to the post-American world.

No, no! Trump is doing a good job!

Stuck @ Home?

Images of the British Museum.


So, what anime am I watching?

April 29, 2020

I have already done three TL;DR essays this season, on anime that didn’t hold my interest. Having pared down the list, I find that some of the ones I want to watch have a bad case of teh covid — production is paused for an unknown length of time.

While I am disappointed at the hiatuses, hiatusoi, hai… delays, I totally understand the need. Using Shirobako and Anime Runner as information sources, one can see that animators work in conditions that are ideal for spread of the virus, worse than the meatpacking industry. It’s not just that they are packed into their interconnected cubicles (more like MLB player lockers, really) , they work ungodly hours, get little sleep and worse nutrition. I’m surprised that some studio hasn’t come out and said “Half our staff has died, and the other half is on ventilators”. And Kyokyo Daha isn’t an approved anti-viral.

What that means, of course, is that the number of Spring anime that I’m actually watching watching has shrunk alarmingly. In fact, there’s only three: Bookworm, Villainess, and Tamayomi.

Ascendance of a Bookworm is the second season of one of my favorite anime/light novels. Now, Myne has gone from trying to survive in a sh*thole country (c’mon!, It’s a clone of the European Middle Ages, the definition of a place where the lives were like the people — nasty, brutish, and short) to trying to survive in the Byzantine politics of a Church/Nobility cultural intersection. It’s not just that she’s a commoner, it’s that she’s a commoner with Japanese cultural sensibilities.

My Next Life as a Villainess is based on a light novel series that I’m reading on J-Novel. Having been re-born in the body of a haughty, self-centered, mean-spirited noble in an otome game, Katarina (I don’t care how they spell it in the anime, it’s Kataria) fights to avoid her doom, and thereby shows the power of simply being a nice person. It helps that she’s a little dense (highly depleted uranium comes to mind, and the hashtag for the series is #Bakarina) and doesn’t see the impact of her actions on those around her. It also helps that she’s mentally no longer a noble, but instead her approach to the world is that of a commoner with Japanese cultural sensibilities.

Tamayomi is a classic Cute Girls Doing Cute Things…with Baseballs. Very muscular thighs, which you can easily see because they play wearing shorts, as if they were Australians. It’s not Big Windup by any means, but there’s just enough baseball in this baseball anime to make it worthwhile. It’s not American baseball by any means, it’s baseball with Japanese cultural sensibilities.

Meanwhile, I find myself filling in the time between avoiding covid specials with watching, or rewatching, such classics as the Monogatari series, Kotobuki, and, yeah, OK, Mayo Chiki. Not an anime, but I’ve just started a rewatch of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I’d forgotten how great the writing was.

Pandemic 21

April 26, 2020

Herewith, some more links that you might not have seen, or that you really should see, or that might just be interesting.

Quote of the day

In 20 years our country will be run by people homeschooled by day drinkers 


Bill Gates on the Pandemic.

Simulating COVID. Do it yourself.

More on testing. It ain’t easy.

More on vaccines. That ain’t easy either.

Risk management. What have you got to lose?

So, how are workers doing in the hellhole that is Europe?

Double masking.

Ventilator.alt New from U of Chicago

Nursing homes.

The future of COVID.

Reopening in the Green Zone. Not that one, the other one.

Reopening on astroturf.

Question: Are Generous Unemployment Benefits Destroying the Economy?
Their answer: No, of course not.
My answer: We don’t know, we’ve never tried generosity.

Memories of my youth: I’m Old

April 24, 2020

SCENE: The day I knew it was time to retire.

ME, to CLASS: Passwords are important. The longer your password, the better.

ME: Here’s an example — HorseBatteryStaple

ME: But passwords shouldn’t be easy to guess

ME: Here’s an example — NeverGonnaGiveYouUp

OLDEST STUDENT IN THE CLASS: Isn’t that from a song?

ME: Class dismissed. I gotta go turn in some paperwork.


Pandemic 20

April 22, 2020

Herewith, some more links that you might not have seen, or that you really should see, or that might just be interesting. Note that these are getting further and further apart. It’s called tired clicker.

Quote of the day

At some point all the preppers are going to wonder if they purchased too much ammo and not enough cleaning products.


Face shield template. Assuming you can find A4 plastic.

What the virus does. It also turns your toes blue.

Stock up.


Post-Covid Higher Ed. Glad I retired.

Testing theory and Santa Clara county.

Get ready to hibernate.

Hydroxychloroquine. Thanks, Trump

The reopening.

Yeah…about that whole vaccine thing.

Stuck at home?

Make a shield. If you can find A4 plastic.

Make a mask. Too bad it won’t fit the shield.

Where’s Waldo?

TLDR: Anime I never finished, Spring 2020 – Part 3

April 21, 2020

I have now managed to cut my anime load to six from fourteen. I’ll talk about those six later, right now, here’s the latest culls:

Sakura Wars, The Animation. Am I the only one who remembers the original Sakura Taisen anime from twenty years ago, the only one who still has a copy of the series on my shelf? None of the reviews I’ve seen do more than mention it, the way you’d mention the discovery of America before starting a discussion of the best Italian restaurants in Columbus, Ohio. Sakura Taisen 2000 takes place in the early 1920’s, before the destruction of the Asakusa Jūnikai skyscraper in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. Twenty years later, a new crew has been assembled for the Imperial Floral Assault Force/Imperial Opera Troupe [the two phrases have identical pronunciation]. They all look like 6th generation copies of the previous group, and the anime itself is a pale, CG reflection of ST2K. Plus, the mechas all look like chibi versions of the originals.

Arte. Appears to be aboutloosely based on… inspired by the life of Florentine artist Artemisia Gentileschi. I’d like to like it, but for some reason historical costume dramas just don’t work for me. I mean, I didn’t like Jewel in the Palace, either.

8th Son. After a promising start it became just another overpowered hero in an admiring isekai narrative. I guess I should have known. After all, Pratchett says the most powerful wizard is the 8th son of an 8th son.

Appare-Ranman. I was hoping for The Great Race, but all I got was Wacky Races. Besides, the tomahawk was, as far as I know, an Eastern Woodlands weapon, not one used on the West Coast or High Desert.


Bunny Rascal Does Not Dre…

April 21, 2020

So, the thirteen episode anime Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai has a 90min sequel movie, Rascal Does Not Dream of a Dreaming Girl. Funimation [they should only fall into the ocean] streamed it to the US on a limited release. Limited, in this case, seems to be for twenty-seven hours and fifty-four cents. Just long enough for me to watch half of it, but not long enough for me to pause it and come back the next day.

I was so irritated I sat down and binge-watched Straight Title Robot Anime. That helped, but not a lot.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

April 20, 2020

Garden Report for 200420

Mostly sunny and 65/40 through the weekend, but a touch of frost did for 7 of the 8 squash seedlings, even though they were in the greenhouse. Forecast for this week is the same, with some rain in the middle.

The tree people came. Planted a 4″ Redpointe Maple out front, a 2″ Autumn Blaze Maple to replace the Red Maple in back, and a Japanese Maple, Orangeola in the back corner. The crew that removed the Red Maple also ground the stump, but there were still lots of big roots. We ended up putting the Blaze up on a mound. I’m going to have to see about retainer blocks.

RedPointe Maple
(Sounds like it was named by a real estate developer)

Started seed on a bunch of tomatoes: German Johnson, Hybrid Parks Whopper, Brandywine, and Hybrid Better Bush. If there are seedlings out when I go to the hardware store for the retainer blocks, I may pick up some more.

Otherwise, the rest of the seedlings I started earlier are surviving, and there’s enough lettuce to supplement our supermarket icebergs. I need to get the irrigation system set up, and then I’ll be able to think about planting stuff in the garden.

Pandemic 19

April 19, 2020

Herewith, some more links that you might not have seen, or that you really should see, or that might just be interesting.

Quotes of the day

Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told Axios the U.S. needs to be performing 500,000 tests a day to consider reopening. Other experts tell NBC News that number should be more like millions or tens of millions of tests each day.


Why Boris Johnson will pay nothing for his three days in the ICU

More mask making.

Paper towels beat air dryers. Quite aside from not blasting the stuff around.

More history from Three Mile Island. How not to handle a crisis.

COVID relapse? Or bad testing?

You need to get out more.

How the CDC test kits got contaminated. If you try to do things too fast, you can end up breaking them.

Stuck at home?

Can you read Old Church Latin?

Can you read a 600 page book that isn’t War and Peace?

Memories of my youth: The BBC

April 18, 2020

On April 18th, 1930, a BBC radio news announcer, reading the evening news at 8:45pm, said Good evening. Today is Good Friday. There is no news.” This was followed by fifteen minutes of recorded music.

We lived in the UK in the early 1970’s. At that time there were two BBC television channels and the Independent Television Network, ITN. Their approach to filling the broadcast hole was more like 1930 than 2020. BBC1 and ITN would broadcast from 6am to 11pm but, as I recall, BBC2 would not come on until 2pm.

And on days when, say, a sporting event like a cricket match ended early, the announcer would say something like Our next scheduled event is in twenty minutes. Here’s some music until then.

Or, if a cricket match was forced into a rain delay, they were not above providing a stillcam shot of the pitch while the announcer read selected excerpts from classic cricket literature.

“…and then W.G.Grace stepped up to the crease.”

Pandemic 18

April 16, 2020

Herewith, some more links that you might not have seen, or that you really should see, or that might just be interesting.

Quotes of the day

I think people haven’t understood that this isn’t about the next couple of weeks. This is about the next two years.
Michael Osterholm, infectious-disease epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota

Everyone wants to know when this will end. That’s not the right question. The right question is: How do we continue?
Devi Sridhar, public-health expert at the University of Edinburgh.


We’re not out of the woods yet, sweetheart.

Antibodies. What they are, and what we know about them.

Viral loading. What it is, and what we know about it.

Hospital ships. What they are, and why we need them.

Diagnostic testing. What it…oh, you know. And a comment from a previous decade.

CDC and FEMA are working on A Plan for re-opening the economy. Here’s some history from Three Mile Island.

Crime and COVIDness. Arrests are down, but crime isn’t up.

Seasonality. Don’t count on it.

Asian success stories.

What do the CIA, FAA, France, and Rita Wilson have in common?

Don’t eat that dog.

The military is rejecting some mask designs.