Not journalism: Handicapping 2020 presidential race

7/30/2020 update: Great tip from Too-Rye-Ay that Ohio should be moved to Biden. Her comments:

Don’t count out Ohio for Biden. Lots of coronavirus here and the stats keep looking like the virus is winning. Also a Speaker of The Ohio House was just indicted for the worst case of racketeering in Ohio history (R). Senator Portman is not glowing in Central Ohio. Many central Ohio schools will be virtual this fall as well as some liberal arts colleges are going virtual. The biggest indicator will be if The Buckeyes will play football. My prediction—no. Oh and The Lincoln Project is running commercials focusing on Ohio. Keep fingers crossed for Democrat win November 2029.”

See updated chart below.

This is not journalism. This is a wild-ass guess at who’s going to win the 2020 presidential race. Like I do each week when I buy a Daily Racing Form and try to make money betting horses. If I bet on them, they lose.

Journalism would be researching, interviewing, using past knowledge to make a determination. This is not journalism.

These are like the pencil notes to myself on the DRF. I haven’t written down my bets yet. I’ll do that as the post time gets closer. But I can hear the “Call to Post,” and I’m willing to listen to anyone who might have a tip or two. Inside knowledge on your home state? Make a comment.

My final bet will be posted on the morning of Nov. 3, 2020. And the popular vote? That doesn’t seem to count anymore when a Republican is in the race. (Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, George W. Bush, Donald tRump)

Handicapping the 2020 presidential race
Trump Maybe Biden
State and electoral votes State and electoral votes State and electoral votes
Alabama 9 Arizona 11 California 55
Alaska 3 Iowa 6 Colorado 9
Arkansas 6 Michigan 16 Connecticut 7
Florida 29 Missouri 10 Delaware 3
Georgia 16 Maine 4 D.C. 3
Idaho 4 Wisconsin 10 Hawaii 4
Indiana 11 TOTAL 57 Illinois 20
Kansas 6 Maryland 10
Kentucky 8 Massachusetts 11
Louisiana 8 Minnesota 10
Mississippi 6 Nevada 6
Montana 3 New Hampshire 4
Nebraska 5 New Jersey 14
North Carolina 15 New Mexico 5
North Dakota 4 New York 29
Oregon 7
Oklahoma 7 Pennsylvania 20
South Carolina 9 Rhode Island 4
South Dakota 3 Vermont 3
Tennessee 11 Virginia 13
Texas 38 Washington 12
Utah 6 Ohio 18
West Virginia 5
Wyoming 3
TOTAL 233 TOTAL 267

Staying, and looking more closely, at home

Pileated head
A pileated woodpecker on one of the “environmental” trees (old and rotting) we have in our yard. Thanks to Jack B. for helping with technical issues on this shot.

Pileated body

We have barely left our home in the past five months. While I have hated to see planned trips to Arkansas, Ohio, Georgia and California go by the way side, I have started looking at our home more closely. Doing the best job on the vegetable garden in years (strawberry-rhubarb jam, raspberry jam and pickled beans stored for the winter as stay-at-home orders continue). And I have tried to photograph some of the nature that happens so close by.

Spider
Not good news for a bee. A goldenrod crab spider eating a bumble bee. Crab spiders don’t spin webs; they hide in blossoms and grab pollinators for their meals.

Couldn’t sleep at all until hearing the Ballard opera singer

After reading The Seattle Times story on Stephen Wall, the Ballard opera singer who gives free front yard concerts, I could not sleep until we had attended one, which we did last night. A nice walk from our friend’s house nearby, listened to the concert with several others (we should have brought our camping chairs) and then a walk for a nice sandwich at Un Bien, worth a revisit. I recommend the “Press, morsels of roasted pork nestled atop banana peppers, draped with slices of smoked ham, and Swiss cheese, melted together in a hot press.”

We were masked and physically distanced from Wall and others.

This has been the social event of the past four months.

In case you wanted to sing along, here are the lyrics:

No sleep!
Nessun dorma!

No sleep!
Nessun dorma!

You too, oh Princess
Tu pure, oh Principessa

In your cold room
Nella tua fredda stanza

Look at the trembling stars
Guardi le stelle che tremano

Of love and hope
D’amore e di speranza

But my mystery is closed in me
Ma il mio mistero è chiuso in me

No one will know my name
Il nome mio nessun saprà

No, no, I’ll say it on your mouth
No, no, sulla tua bocca lo dirò

When the light shines
Quando la luce splenderà

And my kiss will melt
Ed il mio bacio scioglierà

The silence that makes you mine
Il silenzio che ti fa mia

(No one will know his name
(ll nome suo nessun saprà

And we should, alas, die, die)
E noi dovrem, ahimè, morir, morir)

Vanish, oh night
Dilegua, oh notte

Set, stars
Tramontate, stelle

Set, stars
Tramontate, stelle

I’ll win at dawn
All’alba vincerò

Will win
Vincerà

Vincerò
Vincerò

 

We are fine in Shoreline, WA

Shoreline guard 1 2
Photo by David Ryder/Getty Image and misleading mashup by Fox News

Even though no one called to check on our well-being recently in light of protests, I thought I would assure everyone that we are OK here at home more than 10 miles from the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ).

The fact that no one called can be attributed to two things: Either no one cares about us or none of our friends and family watch Fox News.

Hope it is the latter.

Maybe a silver lining in Seawolves’ poor 2020 start

The Seattle Seawolves, who were champions in the first two years of Major League Rugby, started the 2020 season with a losing record of 1-4 before the coronavirus ended play.

Hardly a good thing until MLR announced that the team selections in its first college draft would be based on the finish of the interrupted 2020 season. That puts the Seawolves picking fifth and 17th. If the order had been based on the 2018 and 2019 championship seasons, the Seawolves would have picked 12th and 24th in the draft’s two rounds.

“We get to keep the championship shield and pick fifth,” said Shane Skinner, owner of the Seattle rugby team.

He would not reveal whom they might pick or what position they were most interested in. But he said that being in the first five picks would assure them of getting a quality player out of the more than 400 players who have signed up for the draft.

“We’ve been doing a ton of research, talking to coaches and players who have played with these players,” Skinner said, “We feel our picks are within fulfilling our needs.”

Teams in Dallas and Los Angeles, who are joining the league for the 2021 season, were selected to pick first, but Los Angeles traded away their No. 2 spot to New Orleans. Houston has also traded away their two spots in the draft to Utah, who will have four picks. There could be more trades before the draft starts Saturday at 4 p.m. PDT on the league’s Facebook page.

The Toronto Arrows are not participating in the draft, depending on their own efforts to develop Canadian player. According to the MLR, “The Arrows decided to opt out of the 2020 Draft because of the strength of their own programs and the complications around collegiate athletes acquiring international visas to go to or come from Canada, especially during the current COVID-19 restrictions.”

Two players with Washington state connections are featured on the MLR website. Cole Zarcone, 23, from Camas, WA, played at Central Washington University, and Tommy Hunkin-Clark, 23, from Olympia, WA, played at American International College in Springfield, MA.

Any Seawolves interest in keeping them here?

“If I said anything about what our picks might be, the other teams would try to make sure that didn’t happen,” Skinner said.

 

In 1664, Daniel Defoe predicted Trump

For the year 2020, I proposed returning to the kind of year we had in 2015 when we spent two months in Oxford, England, visiting museums, concerts, lectures and evensongs. This year, we signed up for lectures, concerts, plays, rugby games and photo exhibitions – all of which have been canceled because of our current plague.

I all reminds me of what Daniel Defoe wrote about 1664 in “A Journal of the Plague Year:”

Plays canceled

Thinking of their graves might have “most happily led the people to fall upon their knees, make confession of their sins, and look up to their merciful Saviour for pardon, imploring His compassion on them in surely a time of their distress.”

But no. Instead, the people turned to “extremes of folly:” conjurors, witches, mountebanks, multitudes of pills, potions, and preservatives, odious and fatal preparations, some with mercury, charms, philtres, exorcisms, amulets and certain words or figures, particularly the word Abracadabra, formed in a triangle or pyramid, thus: —

Abracadabra

Defoe says he will not spend much time on these “follies,” but notes:

Trumpery

Trumpery!

As in “worthless nonsense,” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. As in synonyms like: balderdash, baloney (also boloney), beans, bilge, blah (also blah-blah), blarney, blather, blatherskite, blither, bosh, bull [slang], bunk, bunkum (or buncombe), claptrap, codswallop [British], crapola [slang], crock, drivel, drool, fiddle, fiddle-faddle, fiddlesticks, flannel [British], flapdoodle, folderol (also falderal), folly, foolishness, fudge, garbage, guff, hogwash, hokeypokey, hokum, hoodoo, hooey, horsefeathers [slang], humbug, humbuggery, jazz, malarkey (also malarky), moonshine, muck, nerts [slang], nonsense, nuts, piffle, poppycock, punk, rot, rubbish, senselessness, silliness, slush, stupidity, taradiddle (or tarradiddle), tommyrot, tosh, trash, twaddle.

Sounds about right, and who knew Defoe was a fortune teller? This will go down much easier with a little hydroxychloroquine.

(To be continued)

My friend Don suggested this as “an addition to your historical Daniel Defoe reporting:”

A LETTER FROM F. SCOTT FITZGERALD, QUARANTINED IN 1920 IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE DURING THE SPANISH INFLUENZA OUTBREAK:

Dearest Rosemary, It was a limpid dreary day, hung as in a basket from a single dull star. I thank you for your letter. Outside, I perceive what may be a collection of fallen leaves tussling against a trash can. It rings like jazz to my ears. The streets are that empty. It seems as though the bulk of the city has retreated to their quarters, rightfully so. At this time, it seems very poignant to avoid all public spaces. Even the bars, as I told Hemingway, but to that, he punched me in the stomach, to which I asked if he had washed his hands. He hadn’t. He is much the denier, that one. Why, he considers the virus to be just influenza. I’m curious of his sources. The officials have alerted us to ensure we have a month’s worth of necessities. Zelda and I have stocked up on red wine, whiskey, rum, vermouth, absinthe, white wine, sherry, gin, and lord, if we need it, brandy. Please pray for us. You should see the square, oh, it is terrible. I weep for the damned eventualities this future brings. The long afternoons rolling forward slowly on the ever-slick bottomless highball. Z. says it’s no excuse to drink, but I just can’t seem to steady my hand. In the distance, from my brooding perch, the shoreline is cloaked in a dull haze where I can discern an unremitting penance that has been heading this way for a long, long while. And yet, amongst the cracked cloudline of an evening’s cast, I focus on a single strain of light, calling me forth to believe in a better morrow. Faithfully Yours, F. Scott Fitzgerald ~ 1920

 

The plague: Should I stay or should I go?

This story, with some nice cheeky phrases, appeared in The Seattle Times this week about the “worried well” hitting the road to get out of the “germy epicenter of infections in Britain,” which would be London. Off the wealthy well went to the Lake District, Hebrides and Cornwall, where they thought they would be socially distanced only to find residents there very anti-social, as in “Go away” and quit bringing your disease here.

Same thing is also happening in the United States, where National Parks have been closed to keep people out. Residents in faraway places such as Methow Valley in Washington State are putting up Facebook warnings to keep your face elsewhere. The rich know the drill: Get an early warning of a pandemic, sell your stock and flee to your hidey-hole away from medical facilities, spreading the coronavirus as you go.

Nothing new here, as Daniel Defoe wrote in “A Journal of the Plague Year.” In 1664, when the plague hit England, the rich “thronged out of town.”

Rich leave

My daily check-in with TV stations to track the number of COVID-19 cases and the number of the dead reminds me of Defoe’s way of keeping track of the plague, following the parishes’ “weekly bill of mortality.”

Bills

So should Defoe’s narrator join those heading out of town? Defoe devotes many words on this decision, seeing it as directions to those who could face the same thing in the future, like in the year 2020.

Thoughts on leavingHe’s a saddler, single but has a house with servants, a shop, warehouse and goods. The bills of mortality are showing 700 dead a day. But to leave, he would “hazard the loss not only of my goods, and indeed of all I had in the world.”

So he should stay, right? That lasts until his older brother shows up and tells him: “Master, save thyself.” Head for the country because “the best preparation for the plague was to run away from it.”

He takes his brother’s advice until it comes into his mind that “nothing attended us without the direction or permission of Divine Power.” Surely God “was able effectually to preserve me in the midst of all the death and danger that would surround me.”

Wait a minute, says brother.

Arabs

But give me a night to sleep on it, the narrator says. But mostly what he does is read the Bible, especially the 91st Psalm, verses two through seven, which ends “there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.”

That might be enough reason to stick around, but two events the next day made it official: The woman who was supposed to take care of his goods fell sick, and then he did, too.

But he didn’t die as there are many, many pages to go before we sleep.

 

Do viruses salute a flag of red, white and flu?

Describing coronavirus as a “foreign virus” seemed odd to me when I first heard it. Viruses seemed like part of the natural world, no nationality, no ethnicity, mostly to be avoided. But foreign? Do they carry passports? Do they salute a flag of red, white and flu? Did they ask for asylum before coming to the United States? And if so, why aren’t they in Mexico waiting for their court date?

Apparently this misguided notion of how viruses get around in this world is not unique to the coronavirus and its mis-namers. Daniel Defoe starts his “A Journal of the Plague Year” noting the same ill intention.

Start of Plague

We have to be suspicious of Defoe and how he describes the Plague of 1664. He was only 5 years old during that year. So what he remembers or how it impressed him as a child might not hold up too well to Snopes.com. Defoe’s career as an author and journalist had elements that Trump would love: His political enemies had Defoe thrown in prison for slander. On the other hand, the two men had several things in common: They both “participated in several failing businesses, facing bankruptcy and aggressive creditors.”

Defoe wrote the “A Journal of the Plague Year” 58 years after it happened. But he must have heard stories about the plague all his life, gathered information from written sources, interviewed those who survived and wrote it as a grown man walking through the streets of London observing what it must have been like. Literary journalism at its finest.

His version of the plague strikes a chord with what is going on today. Calling the pandemic a Holland plague or a China virus exposes that you are in denial that the sickness is here now and you must deal with it. You could do that. Or, you could say things like:

“. . . We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”

“It will all work out well.”

“We have it very well under control. We have very little problem in this country at this moment — five. And those people are all recuperating successfully.”

“Well, we pretty much shut it down coming in from China.”

“Looks like by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away,”

“It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.”

“I’m not concerned at all. It will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”

“It’s going to be just fine.”

Defoe records that those at the top in 1664 were slow to take action.

Government knew

Once the plague started getting around, concealment of sickness became a general practice.

Conceal the plague(To be continued)

 

 

Hawaii could be our only trip in The Year of the Plague

Boat whaleThe February Hawaii trip holds great fondness for me. Not just because of the successful whale-watching trip or the drive to Hana and around Maui on the once “forbidden-to rental-cars” road. The fondness is growing because it might be the only trip I take in this Year of the Plague.

All the time planning, getting camping permits, buying Kentucky Derby tickets, arranging hotel reservations, checking equipment for bike rides, kayak voyages and dreaming, dreaming, dreaming. About to be washed away while sheltering in place – as in staying home. And then Major League Rugby followed some of the minor sports by canceling its season. Tickets in Seattle, Atlanta and Denver, all in the trash.

I do have time to make my way through my reading list:

The Plague by Albert Camus

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara Tuckman

And, of course, A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe

Defoe editor note

Unfortunately, I will not be leaving these books behind on planes and in hotels as I usually do with my reading materials when traveling. When leaving the plane in Hawaii, I left behind a copy of the Ohio Farmer. Version 2The February 2020 issue had a scary story in it about “metabolic based resistance . . . occurs once weeds develop that can convert an active ingredient into metabolites that don’t kill the plant.” In other words, weeds that we can’t kill, sort of like viruses, only bigger. The weeds “continue stacking diverse herbicide-metabolism genes into their genetics,” spelling the end of chemical control of weeds, leading to a version of Tom Russell’s question: “Who’s going to hoe those beans when the Mexicans have all gone away?”

I always leave behind a copy of The Liberty Press, so people can keep up with the Mighty Tigers, the town’s sewer and water problems and a library expansion in a town of 1,000. You never know what you might read there. Did you know that the real name of the Big Bopper (as in “Chantilly Lace”) was Jiles Perry Richardson?

Who knows what good will come of my leaving behind my copy of the Washington Thoroughbred? Someone might contact www.blueribbonfarm.com to learn the stud fee for Atta Boy Roy, a horse I always liked even though I lost money on him. How could I with a horse that had both Secretariat and Seattle Slew as great grandparents? The plane cleaner who ponies up enough money to pay the stud fee might have a horse in the Kentucky Derby that maybe, some years from now, I might see run, and probably lose money on it.

We have done one trip since Hawaii, driving halfway across Oregon to deliver a grandson to his parents who had driven up from California. With Seattle University doing online classes only, the grandson, a junior at SU, went home where the governor has ordered him and his family to stay. Which seems a long ways from the Feb. 14 issue of The Week magazine I left behind at our hotel. The headline, not a lead headline, was: “China: Is it doing enough to control the coronavirus?” Yes, said an editorial in China’s Global Times. No, said the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. The dead: 420; infected: 20,000. We should remember Li Wenliang, the ophthalmologist who warned about the new illness, got carted away in the middle of the night by police and accused of spreading rumors. He has since died of the disease.

The Diamond Princess has just started a two-week quarantine with 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew members. Since then, more than 700 on board tested positive for the virus.

Another headline: “Coronavirus: Should you be afraid?” No, the article said, worry about the flu.

If only.

Wolf Creek