Doomwatch, 20 Jan 2021

It’s been super busy and I’ve been swamped trying to reset things after major changes my organizational landscape, but we continue to have the usual share of doom stalking the Earth: it’s hurricane season in the southern hemisphere, there have been a couple of significant earthquakes. The SARS-COV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 continues to be doing fine (humans not so much), and of course there is something happening in Washington DC today …

There are three active tropical cyclones in the Southern Hemisphere, two “invest” areas, and another invest area in the Philippines(!). Most of these are fairly weak systems, but Cyclone Eloise has just made landfall in Madagascar and is headed towards the African Mainland. The forecast models, as well as the official forecasts from MetoFrance (who are responsible for this area) and the US Joint Typhoon Warning Center, show it strengthening into a hurricane before the second landfall. Here’s the impact estimate …

Cyclone Eloise, headed for Mozambique.

There has been a rash of earthquakes causing moderate damage over the last week. The two most significant are a series of quakes in San Juan province of Argentina, and a major earthquake causing significant damage near Sulawesi, Indonesia. Nearly 100 are known dead, while humanitarian situation among survivors in Indonesia is becoming of concern. Damage in Argentina seems mostly confined to infrastructure.

COVID continues a slow burn through the population. It has been over a year since the first warnings were raised, and I have a longish post under construction looking back on the early predictions, as well as where we seem to be going from here. Hopefully will get posted in the next day or so, reviewing some of the latest data. It’s not good, and while it’s not the black death, it is still killing a lot of people who would not otherwise have died, and anyone who says otherwise is wrong. Period. That said, there are some interesting trends in mortality from other causes (such as influenza, which is almost non existent this year).

Due to the inauguration, the normal weekly data update won’t be out until tomorrow, which will give us our first mostly complete look at the 2020 mortality data, so the post will likely be on Friday. To rant once again, there is NO REAL TIME DATA ON COVID19! The “death counters” on TV are bogus. Johns Hopkins (the source most are using) is doing a great job, but the daily totals, especially of mortality, are very noisy estimates. This is a slow moving disaster; it takes a couple of seeks for all of the mortality data to be compiled.

It still astonishes me that people can’t seem to get grip on this thing, and how politicized it has become. Of course, it shouldn’t; sadly the reaction of people and what policies they want to enact are pretty predictable based on party. And like most things a balanced approach would do far better than either extreme. We’ll see how the “new” Administration does. Speaking of which …

The Biden Administration takes over today. A lot of things will likely become more orderly, and while their domestic polices are not accepted by almost half of the population, the rollout and implementation will be well organized given the long government pedigrees of the President and his various appointees. And given the fact the US media is largely on their side, stuff will get done and things will certainly appear to be better. But I’m extremely concerned about Foreign Policy. This group, lead by Blinken, Rice, Powers, and the new torturer in chief, Avril Haines, are responsible for inflaming many of the world’s trouble spots such as in the Middle East (especially Syria and Libya). They are largely responsible for the confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, and advocate policies that are likely to create further dangerous conflicts. Unfortunately, much of that will be “under the radar” as the US public and media focus on the domestic situation.

Administrative note: I’m no longer cross posting any politically focused posts on either Facebook or Twitter. The environment just isn’t conducive for rational discussion, and I don’t want the Enki FB page to become yet another site where people I don’t know engage in poo throwing contests 😛 … I’m happy to discuss the political implications of various doom we face (and most of them do involve politics), but we need to keep the anger and emotion to a minimum, and try to keep things based on all the facts (not just the ones that support some particular point of view). All that said, the new year is starting off much better (organizationally, if not funding wise) than the last, and the reorganization should finally start to be seen in better stuff on the Patreon page and web sites any day now 🙂

#Iota aftermath in #Nicaragua, #Honduras

Iota was downgraded to a tropical depression as of the 4am forecast this morning Wednesday 18 Nov). But that isn’t really the storm – although a Category 4 at landfall, the biggest impacts are inland due to landslides and flooding across northern Nicaragua and south/central Honduras. Communications is limited, and there are many areas that remain cut off from the floods caused by Hurricane Eta two weeks ago. This is a multi-phase, ongoing disaster that will only get worse as the weeks go on. Tens of thousands of people are in shelters in Nicaragua and Honduras, so it is likely there will be a spike in COVID cases in these countries in the days to come. Here is the present tropical analysis:

TAFB Analysis, Wed. Morning 18 November 2020

There is concern that the low pressure center forming off the coast of Panama, and the approaching tropical waves, will dump even more rain in the already saturated regions hit by Eta and Iota. It is very possible that we are looking at damage and, ultimately, deaths approaching the levels not seen since Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

There will be important foreign policy implications and decisions resulting from these storms. In the past, the economic privation and deterioration in the security status of Central American countries resulting from natural disasters triggers waves of migration towards the US. It is certain that (as seems likely at the moment) this will coincide with a relaxation in immigration restriction by an incoming Biden administration. While many try to put this in clear-cut humanitarian or homeland security positions the two political parties in the US have staked out, it’s not so straightforward. For one thing it ignores the impacts migration have on the original countries, something pro-immigration advocates tend to overlook. It is also destabilizing because many of those who leave are those who are the foundation of the economy. Then there is the danger of the migration routes themselves, and the exploitation of the migrants by gangs that fosters those criminal enterprises. Some countries encourage immigration because they see it as reducing their burden by getting the “surplus” poor populations out of the way – often “double dipping” by accepting US aid, but letting the security situation deteriorate so people leave anyway. All told, my position is that while we need to treat those who reach our borders with dignity and all humanitarian consideration, we should be aggressively supporting, stabilizing, and building up the countries of Central America so that people can (and will want to) remain in their homelands. We need to spend at least as much attention to economic development and assistance as we do to “security” (drug control) issues, which sadly is the prism through which the region is viewed. A comprehensive stabilization plan will be better for the region long term, as well as the United States.

The remains of Iota are probably going to end up in the East Pacific. The chances of it reforming are low at the moment. Aside from the low in the Caribbean noted above (20% chance) NHC also has an area in the central Atlantic tagged with a 20% chance for tropical development in the next 5 days. Even if something does get organized out there, while it might have winds approaching TC criteria, it will not likely be a real tropical system – it’s getting late in the year for that kind of thing out in the Atlantic.

Doomwatch, Tuesday 29 Sept 2020

Numerous potential flashpoints of doom out there … but nothing as of this morning above the “that might get bad soon.”

Tropics: Typhoon Kujira is off of Japan, no threat to land. Tropical Depression 18-E is off the coast of Mexico, again no threat to land. Closer to home (well, mine 🙂 ) a system is moving across the Caribbean that the global models are showing spinning up in a few days as it approaches the Yucatan Peninsula. NHC gives this a 50% chance of forming something in the next five days. Some of the usual suspects are already flogging the potential for the system to spin up. Here is what the GFS model is showing for next Wednesday, a sort of organized depression/minimal storm approaching the Mexican coast, and a second thing trying to spin up behind it …

DOOOOM! Or not. Probably not. But it might, so give me clicks! Or just relax and check back Friday.

but … models don’t always do so great in this kind of situation. They are getting better, but 7-10 days just isn’t there yet for anything other than entertainment purposes. A couple of things to keep in mind – note there is no “X” on the NHC map, just a diffuse area where something might form. Second, no discrete model runs or INVEST area ID has been assigned yet. The Tropical Weather Outlook doesn’t have the majik words “interests in <name of some area> should monitor the progress of this system.” So unless you are a die hard weather junkie, you’ve got plenty of other stuff to worry about!

Like the debate tonight between the raging dumpster fire and the older well worn house that looks comforting from the outside but has bats in the attic, rats in the cellar, and an ax murderer living in the spare bedroom.

Or the continuing slow burn of the COVID-19 Pandemic. I posted on this yesterday, and nothing I’ve seen in the last month or so says there is any progress – or significant new threats. As I write this the talking head on the radio news said “we have hit 1 million deaths, one fifth of those in the US.” Which is total bullcrap for reasons I’ve discussed before (globally there is a huge undercount; the US is about 5% of global population and if you take in to account the horrible reporting in most of the world, is about 5% of deaths, not 20%). Guess he doesn’t read this blog. Sigh.

The economy continues to send up flares, red flags, warning lights, and Edvard Munch style screams. But Congress is deadlocked over the aforementioned election thingee, there is no coordinated plan to try to stabilize things, so the ongoing collapse of key aspects of the economy like small businesses continues. The wave of potential defaults is on the verge of becoming a tsunami, and when that hits the over-leveraged capital markets, Bad Things Will Happen.

In the geopolitical world, Donbass, Nagorno-Karabakh, Syria, Greece-Turkey, and Libya all continue to smolder. The situation in Nagorno-Karabakh is especially dangerous and tragic, given the involvement of Turkey in another potential attack on Armenians (which has a long and tragic history). It is one of many complex “frozen” conflict areas like Ukraine and the Balkans that were suppressed during Soviet times, but have flared up since. Why does this matter to you? The various tangle of alliances and obligations can rapidly drag outsiders in. Oh, did I mention oil? Because oil is involved as well … of course.

Oh, and Tampa Bay winning the Stanley Cup? Which sign of the apocalypse is that?

So we wait and see what happens. There’s always stuff to worry about, and it is best to be proactive when we can. But if you have a family emergency plan (always keep a week of emergency food, containers you can fill with water on short notice, and a contact plan), a weather radio, and are taking COVID precautions (masks when going to enclosed spaces, distance, good hand hygiene), you’ve got most of the bases covered, so enjoy life and don’t worry about all the might be’s until they become “probably”s …

The Passing of Stephen F. Cohen

On Friday the 18th of September, America lost one of its few clear voices of sanity in the field of Russia Policy. His passing would likely be overlooked in normal times, but with the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg the same day, it has been lost in the noise. He deserves better. Chances are you’ve never heard of Dr. Cohen, much less been given the opportunity to hear his cogent, unbiased analyses unfiltered. Yet had his voice been widely heard, and his sage advice followed over the last three decades, the world you live in would likely be a far better, more stable place.

Dr. Stephen F. Cohen, from The Nation.https://www.thenation.com/article/world/stephen-cohen-obituary-russia/

Dr. Stephen F. Cohen was a Professor of Politics and Russian studies at Princeton and later New York University. His 1969 Doctoral dissertation and early work was on a topic many would consider obscure, the ascension of Stalin over other “founding fathers” of the Soviet Union such as Bukharin. That work, backed by careful scholarship, asserted that the totalitarian style of Stalin was not an inevitable consequence of Leninism, much less Marxism. That may seem obscure and irrelevant, but it laid the stage for a fresh view (some would say revisionist) of Soviet Politics and, later, for how one looks at the post Soviet era and the emergence of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

I discovered Dr. Cohen when one of his books was recommended to me by one of my mentors, an old OSS guy who was fond of saying “never confuse the Soviet Union with Russia” – advice that many modern Russia analysts need to take to heart. Cohen’s 1984 book Rethinking the Soviet Experience was a bit of a slap in the face to someone raised on talk of the “Evil Empire.” It forced me to reconsider much of what I thought about Russia and the Soviet Union, and was part of a process that has led to a life-long interest in Russia as something more than comic book villains, but a country and people with a vast and complex history and who need not be our enemy. During the 1980’s and early 1990’s Dr. Cohen was often heard in the US media due to his knowledge of and contacts with Mikhail Gorbachev.

But that began to change in the mid 1990’s. Cohen clearly saw that Yeltsin and his American advisers (the so-called “Harvard Boys”) were setting up a disaster by enabling the plundering of the natural resources of the old Soviet Union, generating massive profits for the west and enriching a few Oligarchs while plunging the rest of Russia into a 1930’s style depression complete with gangsters and shoot-outs in the streets of Saint Petersburg. To say his warnings were unpopular among US leaders intoxicated with their new “hyperpower’ status, and international banks with eyes focused on short term profits is an understatement. His cautions over the eastward expansion of NATO and attempts to manipulate the emerging democracies in the former Soviet Block were likewise ignored. Over time he was called on less and less to opine on Russia, although he frequently appeared in Russian sources to try to explain America’s view on Russia.

In the his last decade, Cohen was virtually unheard in the major US Media. Although he continued to write for The Nation, that is almost certainly due to the fact his wife, Katrina vanden Heuvel, was editor and publisher (her reflections are here). His position on Ukraine that the west bears considerable responsibility for the turmoil there, and pointing out that many of our so-called “allies” are corrupt and rife with Nazi heritage and ideology did not fit the narrative of a popular, democratic, anti-Russian uprising that many want to portray. The last straw was probably his view that Russia’s responses in Ukraine are rational and perhaps even justified. By 2015, on the rare occasions his views were presented, it was only to be ridiculed, and phrases such as “Putin’s Apologist” were often used. Yet his views on Putin were nuanced, and take in to account the fact that a majority of Russians still support him over the restoration of order and financial security he restored after the catastrophic impacts of the Yeltsin era. Putin’s policies are sometimes at odds with what the US wants, but to point out they are rational from a Russian perspective is not necessarily to agree with them. It is simply to try to understand them, which is the only way to formulate realistic responses. Calling Cohen an apologist is just an excuse to ignore his arguments. It is disingenuous in the extreme, and dangerous because it implies that it is wrong to try to explain or understand a world leader or power opposed to the US.

The by-line of my blog is “You’re Doomed. Here’s why.” This is rarely more true than with this article. The way that calm, careful, “revisionist” analyses that challenge mainstream thought are systematically excluded from public debate (and often even internal government policy consideration where such open debate is vital) is a key reason why American foreign policy is so often unsuccessful. When discussed at all – often during some crisis – Americans are usually presented with simplified, grossly biased depictions of foreign policy situations. The comic-book caricatures of foreign leaders like Vladimir Putin never lends itself to the kind of nuanced approaches that are often called for. The New York Times was kind enough to run an editorial today as an example. These life or death matters deserve clear, informed debate. For the views of a brilliant analyst like Dr. Cohen to be insulted, marginalized, then finally ignored, is a key reason why this country is potentially headed towards a cataclysmic confrontation with Russia. It is a tragedy, avoidable if more would insist on considering nuanced views about the world like those provided by Steven Cohen.

Вечная Память (may your memory eternal), Dr. Cohen.

Invest areas; #Typhoon #Maysak

For those of you living on the Georgia Coast, if you’ve ever wondered what an “INVEST” area looks like, just go look out the window! The US National Hurricane Center has tagged the system at the end of the stalled cold front over the area as having a 70% chance of gaining enough tropical characteristics to become s system in the next five days. Here is what the GFS model shows it looking like Monday morning as a developing storm offshore …

GFS Model (06z cycle), forecast for 5am ET Monday morning

Nothing to freak out about, it the models are taking it offshore between the US and Bermuda, should stay offshore from the Canadian Maritimes as well.

There are three other areas in the Atlantic; one is over the Windward Islands and is forecast to move through the southern Caribbean; it may be a threat to the Central American coast in a few days. Two other waves coming off of Africa, just like every other week in the summer. Chances are not high for formation in the next 5 days and even if so, way too early to tell where they will end up. Here’s the NHC depiction:

NHC 5 day outlook – click to go to their forecast page …

A potentially powerful typhoon is forming in the West Pacific. Typhoon Maysak is currently forecast to pass through the East China Sea and hit Okinawa on the way to South Korea (with some potential impacts to the other southern islands of Japan. On the present track, the storm will also make landfall in North Korea, which was hit last week by Typhoon Bavi. Bavi weakened considerably before landfall, and for what it’s worth, the PDRK reported minimal damage. Interestingly, given recent reports as to his health, state media showed Kim Jong Un himself out inspecting damage.

On the current track (shown below) Maysak would be a very damaging storm, upwards of $50 Billion in impacts. However, JTWC has been too strong with landfall intensity this year, so I’m expecting far less impacts that this track indicates. Internal modeling has it more like $12-$15 Billion. We’ll seen how it developed this week …

Typhoon Maysak swath of doom, based on JTWC forecast, which may be overly doomy.

#Typhoon #Bavi and #Korea: how will the #PDRK react to a disaster?

While attention is focused on Laura, another storm is headed for landfall tomorrow, one that may have regional implications for Asia, and perhaps global stability as well. Typhoon Bavi (WP092020) is entering the Yellow Sea as a strong typhoon, equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane. Here’s is a shot from JPSS:

Typhoon Bavi

While Bavi is expected to decrease intensity before landfall, it will sideswipe South Korea, potentially causing upwards of over a billion dollars of impacts. In a 1.6 Trillion dollar economy, that hurts but it’s not a huge hit, under 1% of GDP. The landfall in North Korea, on the other hand, could prove to be a bigger problem. Here’s the forecast impact swath:

While the dollar value is technically lower (maybe $800 Million using a wild guess at Purchasing Power Parity), any kind of economic calculation for the PDRK is doomed with uncertainty. The functioning of the internal economy of North Korea is not really amenable to these kinds of calculations. The best we can come up with is the impacts would be on the order of 10% of functional GDP (the equivalent of a two TRILLION dollar storm for the US – or 200 times worse than a Sandy or Katrina). But it’s worse than that, because it is likely to cause extensive agricultural damage to a country that is always on the verge of famine and starvation. Combined with the swirling rumors of a leadership change, the situation is ripe for a crisis. In the past, the PDRK has lashed out during leadership changes and natural disasters to get attention and blackmail the international community in to providing aid, as well as create a crisis to solidify support. China is watching this carefully as well – the last thing they want or need are thousands of North Koreans trying to force their way across the border. All in all, this is a potential humanitarian and foreign policy crisis in the making …

Enter Sandman

This year is really shaping up to be like the lyrics from an apocalyptic death metal band. Let’s look at the day so far in pictures (which you can click to embiggen of course): the morning starts with a review of the tropics, and three low grade systems that are a harbinger of doom to come, and a scattering of earthquakes in Iceland …

Next up is a look at the new COVID19 stats, which are almost worthless hash from a scientific standpoint but are trending in a doubleplusungood direction.

That was interrupted by a really lovely discussion about <REDACTED>, which you will likely be seeing hitting the news at some point, if you’re lucky.  Here’s a pic of that:

Which was followed by a major earthquake in Mexico:

Did I mention the Giant Deathtongue of Doom has reached the Caribbean?  With another blob off the coast of Africa behind that one?

But despite all these disasters, real (COVID, Mexico, <redacted>) and imagined (dust- although it is causing respiratory problems across the region, I wouldn’t call it a disaster), we always have cats to correct our mistakes …

Destabilizing new nuclear weapons deployment

Just when you thought it was safe to leave the bunker … while I have significant experience with pandemics and related topics with respect to data analysis and modeling, it’s not really in my core area of work, and I often have to cross check with subject area experts to confirm technical details.  So it’s refreshing to get back to a topic firmly in my comfort zone: Nuclear Armageddon …

This guy is just a little too enthusiastic about going toe to toe with the Russkies. Too bad he’s running our State Department. (from “Dr. Strangelove.” which was supposed to be satire, not a how to manual.)

Over the last few years the US Defense Department has been pressing on with the deployment of a new class of nuclear weapons, and doing it in a way that by any rational measure doesn’t make much sense.  I shouldn’t have to put this disclaimer in, but in the current political environment (and it being an election year) I need to say that is not an attack on the current administration, irresponsible though they may be for actually implementing it; this change in the nuclear posture has been in the works for well over two decades and is advocated by Foreign Policy neoconservatives in both parties including the presumptive Democratic Party nominee, Joe Biden, who along with Clinton and Perry supposedly led the fight against the US agreeing to a No First Use policy during the Obama years despite then President Obama being favorably disposed to the idea.

As usual, to appreciate this issue, you need some background that is hard to come by these days, so please “bear” with me (sorry about the pun) as I go through some theory and history of nuclear weapons strategy.

Continue reading

The looming political and economic crisis (editorial)

I see a lot of people who are viewing the economic impacts of the SARS-COV-2 outbreak as an opportunity for change. Across the political spectrum activists for various causes are practically salivating over the opportunity to use the crisis to implement their favorite agendas.

  • Climate change? Great! The crashing oil markets are the perfect time to act!
  • Social Justice? Great! The economic and health system disparities made clear by the virus are the perfect time to act!
  • Iran? Great! Their weakened state, internal unrest, along with the insulation of a down oil market, make this the perfect time to act!
  • China? Great! Their weakened state, internal unrest, anger over their handling of the the crisis make this the perfect time to act!

The list seems endless. And all of those forces are interacting in the political process, slowing down economic interventions in the real economy (the Fed and other reserve banks are propping up the markets, but I hope most people realize that the stock and bond markets are no longer much related to the real economy). There’s just one problem: all of the potential for change is potentially delusional.

It seems pretty obvious that the global political and economic system is on the verge of a cascading collapse, probably merely weeks or at best months away. I have discussed this with several colleagues, and while we are coming at it from different directions (some from economics, some from geopolitics) we end up in the same place. And that should give everyone some pause. What will be the trigger? There so many to choose from it’s hard to say. In the US, tens of thousands of small businesses are on the verge of failure. Those businesses all have mortgages, pay rents, pay taxes, buy stuff from other businesses – as do their employees. Once those go, the domino effect (zipper effect, whatever you want to call it) will rapidly lock up or even collapse the entire financial system, especially state and local governments dependent on tax revenues. Consider one small, often overlooked aspect: that welfare benefits are distributed using the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system. That uses debit cards to provide benefits to recipients. What happens if banks stop extending credit and the electronic money system becomes restrictive or locks up? What happens if grocery stores can’t accept EBTdue to their own credit issues or delays in state payments? Millions of people in the US would suddenly be cut off. In areas where the EBT has been disrupted for even 24-48 hours, social unrest (rioting, looting, etc) has rapidly ensued. That these happened in isolated, urban high crime areas means they didn’t capture the public attention, but if that happens nationally … well, it will be ugly. I could terrify you with various geopolitical scenarios as well. Most of these are of “low” probability (some 1 in 5, some 1 in 10), but when you have a bunch of “low” probability events, the chances of one of them happening start to approach 1.0. And they all end up in the same place: something happens that causes the fragile, overly interconnected and over leveraged credit and financial system to go into a death spiral. Once it happens, it will be hard or impossible to stop, given that if any one “trigger” happens, like a string of firecrackers it will set the others off. So that brings us to this:

There isn’t time to use this crisis to craft some wonderful transition to a brave new (Marxist, Progressive, Green, NeoCapitalist, ‘Murican!, Libertarian, whatever) world. We have to stop the collapse at all costs and buy time. Or none of those things will mean anything.  The Congress is set to pass a boost in funding to the Paycheck Protection Program and some other tweaks today.  It is woefully inadequate by an order of magnitude (trillions are needed, not hundreds of billions).  Even re-opening is not likely to help at this stage (even assuming there are not repercussions or fall “second wave”).

If the system collapses, no matter what the trigger, there won’t be any opportunities for change. Yes, we need to move to something more sustainable.  If we get past this crisis that will take on even more urgency because it is doubtful we will get another chance. To use a medical analogy, the patient is in about to go into cardiac arrest; we can worry about diet and exercise when we get the heart beating again.  But for now, we need to stop pushing for the next thing until we can have some confidence there will even be a next thing …

How bad is Italy (ok, one more COVID post this week).

As of the final totals from yesterday, 22 March 2020, there have been 5476 deaths from SARS-COV-2 in Italy. To put that in perspective, in the 2013/14 influenza season, there were 7027 excess deaths due to influenza recorded. In 2014/15, a  20,259 deaths were attributed to that outbreak, while in the worse recent year, 2016/17, 24,981 died from influenza. (from Rosano et al, Int. J. Infections Diseases, Vol 88, Nov 2019, pp 127-134).

Yes, COVID19 is different in how fast cases are coming, but not in whole population mortality. The speed of progression seems to be about 4 and 6 times that of influenza, and that is producing a HUGE strain on the system. But the outcomes have yet to approach a bad influenza outbreak. The present rate of the last three days of 690/day will have to continue for another 28 days to reach the 2016/17 flu season toll. I’d be very surprised if the rates don’t start to drop soon. If they haven’t dropped in Italy in two weeks, maybe then it’s time to worry, but for now, things seem on track for this to be a “flu season in 6 weeks” virus. Catastrophic for the health care system, but not a big deal in whole population terms. In economic terms, that’s a whole different question …

To repeat from yesterday: The US health care system can’t really keep up with a normal flu season; there is no way it can handle a rapid influx. That is why COVID19 is so dangerous, and why everyone needs to take it seriously, following the CDC guidelines, exercising social distancing and hygiene protocols, and otherwise doing everything you can to try to slow down the rate of spread. It’s more than likely not about you. It’s about that 1% of so of the population who will get very sick, and may not get enough care because the system will be overloaded.  Fixating on every up or down tick in the numbers, and chasing down every wild number or wild theory making the rounds is just not sensible or conducive to sanity.  My advice is to be careful, keep watch over those around you, take advantage of the time off as you can, check the news maybe once a day to see if anything has really changed as to what you should do, but don’t drive yourself crazy hitting refresh; this is a slow motion disaster. April will be the cruelest month – but by the last week things should be looking up.

What a fashionable Italian Cat might look like.