August 2020

Atwater City Hall: Sanctuary of deplorables


For two weeks it's been clear to people who follow the pandemic that the San Joaquin Valley has become a new epicenter for its spread. It is agreed among rational American citizens that for lack of miracle drugs or vaccines, sheltering in place, locking down non-essential businesses, wearing masks, washing hands and observing social distance are the best ways to combat the lethal spread now gathering steam. These municipal and personal precautions help protect both the people who follow them and the others that come in contact with them.

Virus notes: Letter to the Covidiots

 MERCED (BLJ) –The Merced County Public Health Department on August 5, reported 4,760 cases of COVID-19 (222 new) and 60 deaths (9 new).

California on the morning of August 6 reported 524,722 cases (5,295 new) and 9,703 deaths (202 new).

The United States on the morning of August 6 reported 4,903,385 cases (53,271 new) and 160,402 deaths (1,274 new).

The global count on the morning of August 6 is 18,752,917 cases (173,302 new) and 706,342 deaths (54,064 new).

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Virus notes: Farmwork in a year of COVID

The front page of the July 20 Modesto Bee carried the obligatory Valley Labor Whine story, “Valley growers face labor shortages, possible market woes.” The story first appeared in Vida en el Valle, a Spanish/English paper owned by the former McClatchy Co.  Actually the story is more about the plight of this year’s farmworkers than the usual (former) McClatchy Great Agribusiness Whine for possible loss of farm profits in the Valley’s top industry.

Virus notes: A pandemic of evictions and foreclosures

I asked myself the other day how mass evictions before the General Election would affect voter registration and turnout, and got a fairly grim, if imprecise answer. After reading this and some other articles I think of us on the beach, barefoot, the ocean receding and pulling sand rapidly from under our feet as the last, largest waves in the cycle built out there to return and smash our suddenly fragile shore. – blj



New York Times

Millions of Evictions Are a Sharper Threat as Government Support Ends

Virus notes: August 10,2020 -- Blame it on the computer

MERCED (BLJ) –On August 10, Merced County Public Health Department reported 5,735 cases of Covid-19 and 70 deaths (10 new).

California reported 561,911 cases (7,751 new) and 10,359 deaths (66 new).

The United States reported 5,173,566 cases (42,214 new) and 165,111 deaths (325 new).

The global report was 20,011,186 cases (148,587 new) and 734,755 deaths (3,406 new).

As we have reiterated, these figures are best considered approximations, but they are the best we have in the gigantic failure the American response to the pandemic continues to be. – blj

Virus notes: August 16, 2020 -- Signs of the times

We are no longer recording the tallies for number of cases. The American politico-medical system is, to repeat a tiresome but still accurate cliché; a seamless web of incompetence and corruption overlaid with layers of evasion of responsibility – the American system du jour of government in a nutshell.

Virus notes: August 17, 2020

MERCED (BLJ) – On August 17, Merced County Public Health Department reported 93 deaths (4 new).  We think that hospitalization figures might also be reliable so we are now including: 454 even in the hospital, and 91 currently in the hospital.

California reported 11,242 deaths (18 new).

The United States reported 172,146 deaths (60 new).

The global report was 773,152 deaths.

Virus notes: August 19, 2020

MERCED (BLJ) – On August 19, the Merced County Public Health department reported 97 people had died from Covid-19. Let those to blame rot in their own private hells. Let the rest of us continue to wear our masks, wash hands, observe social distance, be kind to doorkeepers who poke temperature-taking apparatuses in our faces,  and find some way, regardless of how irritated we are, to take these precautions seriously.

You never know: the life you save may be your own.

The state of the climate emergency: review of The Last Warning, by Mark Lynas by

Bill McKibben’s masterful review of Mark Lynas’ Our Final Warning: Six Degrees of Climate Emergency is a timely update on the state of the climate emergency. This is  not exactly a strange subject to Californians at the moment, whose state is under an emergency order due to the dire effects of 12,000 lightning strikes last week. -- blj



New York Review of Books

130 Degrees

Bill McKibben

August 20, 2020 Issue

Virus notes: August 25, 2020 -- You'd never know it from the Republican Convention

MERCED (BLJ) – One August 25, the Merced Public Health Department reported 106 total deaths, an increase of seven for the day.  We aren’t sure of the numbers on the rest of the departmental “statistical dashboard.” We believe that the deaths have been recorded by more responsible agencies.

California reported 12,257 deaths, an increase of 123 for the day.

The United States reported 180,375 deaths, an increase of 640 for the day.

The global total deaths is 814,354, an increase of 1,332 for the day.

On basketball: A Dull-Witted Boy story

A Dull-Witted Boy story, for your entertainment only.

From the offices of the Badlands Journal editorial board.

On Basketball 

It was Wednesday afternoon and four masked boys were playing basketball at the last public basketball court in town that didn’t have lids on the baskets. Somebody in Parks and Rec thought the whole idea of fitting lids on basketball hoops was baloney.

Three cheers for Colin Kaepernick

Four years to the day after Colin Kaepernick first sat out the National Anthem on the 49ers bench, the NBA began a series of playoff boycotts, which spread to other sports including for a day or two Major League Baseball and tennis star Naomi Osaka. Kaepernick and the other athletes, or Civil Rights workers 60 years ago, were all protesting the same issue, the oppression of African-Americans, which gone on in this country in one form or another since the beginning of slavery.