Tuesday, April 21, 2020 – Live to Blog from a Quiet Place
It’s not actually all that quiet here. Somebody is mowing and weed-whacking outside. It is amazing how well the sound carries when there is not much activity on the street below. In truth, it is a welcome sound because it says there are people in the world other than me, Clemencia, the Girls, Bert & Ernie, Beto & Enrique and that handsome jerk, Winthrop Dijkstra-Baum.
Feeling guilty about your children watching too much TV while sheltering-in-place? Just mute the TV and put on subtitles. BOOM! Now they are reading!
Where do you get your news?
Among the few things we can agree on these days, there is one: where we get our news matters. Never has this been more true than now.
Just so you know, I try to get as much of my news as possible from the ideological center. This is tougher than you might imagine because the “center” may be in the eye of the beholder. The Pew Research Center found there is a big difference among consumers of news (see image and click on it to go to the Pew Research article).
The center is a pretty small place these days but I do think it is important for all of us to do our best to find it. The University of Michigan Libarary has put together a webpage designed to help consumers find the center, “Fake News,” Lies and Propoganda: How to Sort Fact from Fiction. This is a great starting point.
One of the resources the Michigan site led me to is Allsides. Allsides does something quite interesting and unique. It features the same story told from three perspectives: the left, the middle, and the right.
The Allsides folks assert their Allsides Media Bias Rating method is science-based and nonpartisan. It starts from this assumption: unbiased news does not exist, which seems a reasonable starting point. Though its rating system is not perfect, it is a good place to go to build one’s media and news literacy.
I usually depend upon three news sources. According to Allsides, one of those, BBC News, is considered by both conservatives and progressives as centrist. National Public Radio (NPR) and the PBS Newshour have been rated as almost centrist. However, among those who are most consistently conservative, all three are more distrusted than trusted, according to Allsides.
This is important information for you to have about me, especially when I go off the rails which I occasionally do. This way you know where I eventually come back to. It is also important because of the next segment.
In Reality…Are the Numbers Off?
I’ve been reading a story today posted on the National Public Radio (NPR) website about U.S. government Coronavirus projections. At best, it is concerning. At worst, it is terrifying.
I won’t recap the story here because you can read it for yourself at the link above. It is worth the five minutes it takes to read because it raises serious concerns about the projected number of cases and deaths in the United States from COVID-19. Based on documents obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, the article describes the internal projections made by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. These documents provide the most complete picture of the assumptions to date which have been informing the government’s response to COVID-19.
There are three things about the projections that grab me by the collar and shake me up.
- We have not been hearing much, of anything, about these. Instead, we’ve been hearing about projections and data from Johns Hopkins and IHME. In fact, the DHHS projections are not quite as severe as earlier ones that have been cited, those suggesting over 2 million people in the U.S. dead from the virus. However, they are far more severe than the bright and happy picture that Mr. Trump is trying to paint each day in the White House Coronavirus Updates.
- Now that they have become public, other data and modelling professionals have expressed fear that the DHHS projections are too optimistic. Yowzer! That is not what I want to hear! And, probably, neither do you!
- It appears we are “re-opening America” too soon and suggests our leaders know it. That doesn’t surprise me. It only confirms one of my nightmare scenarios.
Take a few minutes with the NPR article. Read it thoughtfully and consider it for yourself. For me, it will not help me sleep any better tonight.
More from Shirley Serban…Who, You Ask?
Shirley Serban is a school principal and freelance music writer from New Zealand who, like the rest of us, has nothing but time on her hands. Instead of writing drivel like me, she is producing some really fun and beautifully sung videos about hygiene in the age of COVID-19. You’ll remember I featured one of her videos already – the Sound of Music parody – but I’ve discovered she’s got a bunch of them! You can follow more of Shirley’s work on Facebook – @shirleyserban. Not only is she talented, but she is incredibly prolific as well. I wonder…does she even sleep? Here’s another parody of a great Neil Sedaka tune:
Chickenman – Episode 6
First, I just want to say thank you for indulging my love of Chickenman. I realize he is not for everyone. Every time Clemencia listens to one she looks at me with the most beautiful brown eyes of curiosity and deep sympathy…actually, more like pity…but I’ll go with the sympathy. Still, I persist in my appreciation and love this most hapless of super heroes.
In Episode 6, Benton Harbor, the White Winged Weekend Warrior Chickenman, races to the Police Commissioner’s office to demonstrate his ability to respond quickly in a crisis.