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More testing does not mean more positive results.

When someone says more tests mean more positive results, ask them to explain New York.

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I don’t know any Conservatives, but some of my friends do, and this is the talking point I see most often from covidiots: The US has more cases because we do more testing.

That is completely false. This isn’t even a situation where there’s a kernel of truth that the Trump Administration has skewed or misrepresented. “The US does more testing” is easy to disprove — and quickly! — so here are a few resources to give those people (who won’t believe you anyway because facts mean nothing to them, but at least you can provide the information and move on).

These are the 10 most affected countries.

coronavirus

For awhile, we were comparing ourselves to Europe to show how well the EU flattened the curve while the situation in the US is spiraling out of control. Europe is done with COVID-19. None of them are in the Top 10 anymore (save for Russia) and there’s no reason to compare the United States to the best. We can now compare ourselves to the worst.

These are the countries doing the most tests (numbers are per million people).

covid testing

 

That’s it. No deep analysis of the numbers to be had. The only countries in the top ten of testing that are also in the top 10 of new cases are the US and Russia. If new cases was a result of new tests, those top 10 lists would look the same.

More Americans are testing positive than Russians.

(ourworldindata lets you play around with what countries you want to see in case you’re curious about other regions)

Because Russia and the US are the only two countries that are in the top ten for testing and new cases, I wanted to see which country had a higher percentage of positive tests. Russia is at 2.3% and the US is at 7.6%. In the only comparable head to head matchup — a country with a lot of new cases who is also doing a lot of testing — the US is losing.

usa vs russia

I think it’s important to note that back in April, our numbers were largely due to NYC, where half of the cases in the US were located. The resulting drop was also largely due to NYC — because we had so many cases, when we got the situation under control here, the trend for the entire country went down. The US (with the exception of the northeast and parts of the northwest and California) never flattened anything.

I looked at the rate of infection again with both top 20 lists — most cases and most testing — to see where the highest rates of infection are. Admittedly, the US isn’t doing as badly as I thought. However, look whose line is trending upward while the other countries performing the most tests are controlling the spread.

us vs world

The US has moved in the right direction.

Donald Trump has been saying the US does more testing than anybody for the past two months. Luxembourg has done almost four times as many test per capita (but as you may remember, there are many per capitas according to Trump). If you look at new tests recently, the US has continued an upward trend and we’re almost ahead of Russia on a daily basis. But we are nowhere near Luxembourg so Trump will never be able to factually say we do more testing than anybody.

lux

New York has a lot of tests and few cases.

I’ll leave y’all with one more graph to disprove the “more tests equals more cases” lie being drilled into the Fox News audience. This is New York, the original epicenter.

ny tests

When someone says more tests mean more positive results, ask them to explain New York.

 

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Economics

Unemployment Stories

It sucks out here.

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I’m unemployed and so are a lot of people I know here in NYC. These are some of our stories, which I’m gonna write in first person because I think it reads a bit smoother that way.

(Mine is at the end because it’s mostly about my mental health.)

James, 27, Actor

I don’t work on Broadway, I’ve never been on a series, and I’m frequently out of work for short stretches, but I do okay. There’s always a way to make money in NYC, so I hope for a big break and work temp jobs or little gigs between acting jobs. I’m a bike messenger, a handyman, a dog walker, a  house sitter, a mover — if it’s legal cash at the end of the day, I’ve probably done it.

It took a couple of months to finally qualify for unemployment, and even with the federal bump, it was barely enough to cover all my bills. Without that extra $600 though? Forget about it. My two roommates don’t make enough to cover my quarter of the rent, so I’m subletting to someone who can. I moved in with a friend of mine in Jersey City who also can’t make his rent and we’re splitting a one-bedroom until work picks up again. The lease at my apartment in Brooklyn runs out in December and they don’t want to re-sign (two of them are leaving the city) so I’m not really sure what I’m gonna do with all of my stuff.

Candice, 23, Waitress

My restaurant closed for good and I put out a lot of applications because unemployment isn’t enough and I needed to work. Luckily, I got a job waiting tables at a place right by my apartment so I can walk to work. Unluckily, I literally got COVID after like one week. It wasn’t bad and I don’t think I have any lasting effects, but I’m still pissed. And now that I’ve recovered, I’m back at work.

Shannon, 28, Publishing

I got laid off at the end of March and immediately packed up and went back home to my parents’ in Pennsylvania. I qualified for full unemployment benefits pretty quickly, and then the pandemic unemployment on top of that, so I was getting $1100 a week for awhile there and it was really nice to be honest. I probably would’ve stuck it out in the city had I known from the start that I would’ve been able to afford it, found another job, maybe a cheaper apartment, who knows. Now I’m collecting unemployment while I look for a decent job (obviously not in publishing anymore) in rural Pennsylvania.

Thomas, 31, Sex Worker

I haven’t had a steady job in years because they don’t pay enough. Why would I work 40 hours a week to barely make ends meet when I can work a few hours here and there and pay rent, party, travel, whatever I want? I never wanted a job, but now I wish I’d had one so I could get an unemployment check. I qualified for PUA as a gig worker (as a “dancer”), but that’s already gone. I didn’t feel safe looking for “dates” at first, but everybody gotta eat so I do a little here and there. I stopped paying rent in May and I’m waiting to be evicted because I’m not working at McDonald’s. I’m moving back into my mom’s house in Alabama when that happens.

Marcella, 44, Cashier

A couple of years ago, I was making $14.50 because I had been there for awhile and I got a little raise and more responsibility every year. When minimum wage went to $15, I got a raise to $15. I told management I thought I deserved $16.50, because I was making $1.50 more than the $13 minimum before the boost, and other people got a $2 raise while I only got a 50 cent raise. They said they couldn’t afford it. Nobody really hires 40 year old cashiers, and I didn’t finish high school, so I just stayed.

I was out of work when everything shut down and the $600 a week was twice my paycheck, so I saved most of it. I’m back at work, but our hours still aren’t back to what they were, so I’m using that money I saved up to cover my bills. Hopefully we’ll get more before it’s all gone.

Jenna, 25, Admin

When offices shut down, I worked from home. Nothing else really changed until this summer. There’s not enough work to go around and I got laid off. I qualified for unemployment but honestly, I was already living paycheck to paycheck, and now I have about $75 left for the month after I pay rent and bills. It makes me wish I’d been unemployed at the beginning when everybody was getting a federal bonus because I could’ve saved up some money or something. I’m not sure how many more struggle meals I can take.

Me!

I started my (dream) job on March 5th, the office closed on March 15th, and I was officially let go on March 23rd. As much as I try not to, I still wallow in that disappointment every few weeks because I found the job I’d been looking for the past decade in NYC. It was the highest salary, most vacation days, best healthcare plan, and friendliest team of co-workers I’d been offered. I legitimately cried on the train after my first day because I was so relieved to have found a job that I could envision as a career indefinitely.

Anyway, not wallowing currently.

I saved up all my pandemic bonus money and that’s what I use to pay rent now because unemployment doesn’t cover my bills. The job market is competitive out there. So far I’ve gotten to a third interview four times and not gotten the job, which is honestly playing havoc with my mental health because every rejection feels like there must be something wrong with me (as opposed to something in particular that was right with another candidate). I feel unqualified and unlikeable and I hate hunting for jobs, especially since my biggest mental health issues are depression and anxiety.

It’s a 180 degree change from May when I felt mostly fine. I didn’t feel like a failure for not having a job, because nobody had a job. I didn’t feel anxious about not having a forward and upward Life Trajectory, because everyone was standing still. Now the world is moving on, I need a job to make sure I can still pay the bills, and every day a bit more panic sets in that I’ll never find another job I like or another job that can pay my bills. Each time I get a rejection email, it’s a paralyzing disappointment that knocks me on my ass for a couple of days. The only job offer I’ve gotten would pay me about $120 more per week than unemployment does.

I’m not taking it. I would spend 40 hours a week (50 if you count the commute each way, because it’s not a work from home position) being miserable at a job I hate, feeling like a failure anyway because I’m a grown man working for peanuts just to say I have a job.  That shitty job, or other shitty jobs like it, will still be there months from now, and if I take it now, I don’t have the time to interview for a job I would potentially want…or at least a job that would actually pay the bills.

So I’m waiting and hoping and trying to stay sane.

It sucks out here.

 

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Politics

Don’t worry about the Supreme Court.

We can’t stop whatever will happen, but we can mitigate the damage if we flip the Senate and put Biden in the White House.

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From what I can tell on The Internets, America has suddenly been thrown into complete chaos and her very future is now in question because a 90-year-old lady “unexpectedly” died after 47 brushes with cancer. As a natural cynic and charming pessimist, I agree! The United States is circling the drain…but we were already doing that anyway. At any rate, I have calmed myself down by mulling over all of the possible scenarios that may arise over the next few months, because even if all of the outcomes are terrible, I feel better if I know what they are. This is what I’ve come up with, from best case to worst case.

Cheetolini decides not to put forth a nominee, loses the election.

As of this morning, President Velveeta was was still telling the country he plans to nominate someone, most likely a woman, most likely this weekend, about a month before the election. However! He is a perpetual liar, and a self-serving, world class sack of shit. Most of the Republican Establishment wants a nominee and a quick confirmation because that will give us the most Conservative Supreme Court in decades, and with a 6-3 split, they can outlaw abortion, gay marriage, and all happiness for the next generation.

Pumpkin Spice Putin is not part of the Republican Establishment. He’s a lone wolf who only cares about himself, and if the wrong (right!) person whispers in his ear that dangling a nominee is better for him politically, he would probably go that route. It’s perfectly logical: Elect me again, and I’ll nominate this conservative judge and hand over the Supreme Court to the GOP for the next 20 or 30 years. It’s a good strategy considering he has nothing to brag about right now. Then we beat him in November, and the problem is solved.

The nominee doesn’t make it to a vote or isn’t confirmed, and Adolf Twittler loses.

Not making it to a vote and not being confirmed are slightly different but still dependent upon the same handful of Senators who pretend to be a smidge more independent from the rest of the Republican Party. Back in Obama’s term, Mitch McConnell and Matroness Lindsey Olin Graham Devereaux Sugarbaker said the President shouldn’t be able to seat a Supreme Court justice during an election cycle. They are liars, and no amount of shaming them for their hypocrisy will matter, so please stop wasting your breath on this. If you want something to pay attention to, keep watch on which Senators have now said — since RBG passed away — that they still believe that. As I’m writing, this is the count:

You can keep up on the Washington Post, but Democrats need four Republicans to withhold their support in order for the vote to fail. Right now there are two confirmed and one maybe with 29 yet to speak on the topic. Hopefully Mitt Romney will find that backbone he pretended he had a few months ago and do the right thing.

There’s a confirmation, but we take the Senate and Biden wins.

Republicans don’t have principles, so I’m not counting on four of them to actually block the nominee. If Biden wins and we pick up the Senate, we could pack the court and make the newest Conservative windbag useless. If Uncle Joe wins, we only need to pick up three Senate seats to take power because Kamala will be the tie breaker. The reelection landscape is a great map for us this year, because the Blue seats up for reelection are pretty solid and there are fewer of them. There are a lot of Red seats, and a good number have started to lean Blue or fall into the tossup category.

Nothing in the Constitution says we have to have nine Supreme Court justices. We’ve had between five and ten. The last President to seriously attempt to expand the court was FDR, but he was met with a lot of resistance even within his own party and he failed.

That was then, and this is now. Democratic voters are tired of being represented by politicians who won’t even bust a grape in a fruit fight. Republicans come armed with assault rifles and we show up with one boxing glove from the early 60s with moth holes in it. We are ready to replace them with people who will actually do their jobs and they know that, which is why they’re already floating the idea of packing the Court if McConnell successfully pulls off this power grab. Biden is on record from a long time ago saying it would be a bad idea to pack the Court and Conservative Democrats say it sets a bad precedent, that whichever party is in power will just alter the Court and it will no longer be a stable, non-political institution, but screw all of them. It’s time to actually play the game, or get off the field.

There’s no confirmation and we take the Senate, but Biden loses.

In this case, everything I just wrote applies, except Kim Jong Ugly vetoes whatever act we pass to expand the court. We’d need a two-thirds majority in both chambers of Congress to override him, and we just won’t ever have the numbers for that. We’re stuck with a 6-3 court for at least the next four years. If Stephen Breyer retires (and he definitely will), the Senate should block any nominations and just hold the Court in place until 2024 when we run somebody better than Joe Biden.

There’s no confirmation before the election, Mango Mussolini wins, and we don’t take the Senate.

There’s a confirmation, the Fanta Fascist wins, and we don’t take the Senate.

Those Senators who don’t believe an outgoing President should seat a Supreme Court judge would then vote to confirm if Biden loses in November. There is a scenario where he wins, but we take the Senate, and those Senators say “the people have spoken, and their Senators should decide who the next judge is” but we already know that’s not going to happen. The Supreme Court will be 6-3. Breyer will retire (or retire) and the Supreme Court will be 7-2.  In that case, you will find me in Sweden with my new husband or wife who says my dark skin is “exotic” and I’ll just deal with the fetishization for however long it says on the pre-nup before I can get a divorce and enough money to live on.

But seriously, if you want to do something, save your energy for what matters. You can’t shame a Republican Senator into sticking to what they said five minutes ago, let alone four years ago. Whether or not there’s a confirmation is completely out of your hands, so don’t worry about it. Let that go. We’ll get a sixth Conservative judge by November, or we won’t. You can’t do anything about it. What you can do is prevent a 7-2 Court by focusing on the Senate races that could flip Blue. What you can do is work for a 13 seat Court by focusing on those races and making sure Biden wins in November.

Mitch McConnell will win his race. Stop giving AmyMcGrath your money. Focus on the Democratic challengers in these six races:

Mark Kelly, Arizona
John Hickenlooper, Colorado
Theresa Greenfiend, Iowa
Sara Gideon, Maine
Steve Bullock, Montana
Cal Cunningham, North Carolina

We can’t stop whatever will happen, but we can mitigate the damage if we flip the Senate and put Biden in the White House. So let’s focus on that part.

And now, I’m off to hit these Swedish lessons on Duolingo because this whole country finna be on fire the day after the election regardless of who wins anyway.

 

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LGBT

Niecy Nash ties the knot with singer Jessica Betts.

This is Beyonce levels of keeping your mouth shut and we commend everyone in the Nash/Betts camp.

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2020 just never stops surprising us!

Did y’all know Niecy Nash was divorced? and bisexual? and in a relationship? with a woman? This is a lot to process!

Rewind a little with me.

I just found out who Jessica Betts was in 2014, thanks to Youtube. I was in a R&B deep dive watching new music and I fell in love with “Holdin’ On” because her voice was so rich and I loved the idea of a lesbian R&B diva (this was before Monifah came out and got married).

Jessica wasn’t new to the scene though — just new to me. Back in 2005, Missy Elliot had a hip-hop/R&B take on American Idol that aired on UPN called Road to Stardom.

road to

Judged by Mona Scott (yes, that Mona Scott), Dallas Austin, and Teena Marie (that’s two Teena mentions today on this blog, must be some Square Biz in the air), the competition was won by a 23-year-old writer from Chicago named Jessica Betts.

jessicabetts

Over in the Timeline of Niecy Nash, Carol Denise married Reverend Don Nash back in 1994 and they divorced in 2007. The wedding preparations during her next relationship aired on TLC and she married Jay Tucker in 2011. They split last year, the divorce was finalized in March, and now she and Jessica have tied the knot and none of us knew!

This is Beyonce levels of keeping your mouth shut and we commend everyone in the Nash/Betts camp. Also, let this be a lesson to put whatever energy out there into the world you want to receive, because Niecy and Jessica are married in 2020, but all the way back in 2016 Niecy was stanning her future wife on Twitter.

If Twitter gets you a life partner, y’all minuswell go ahead and get your wedding gifts ready for my future nuptials to Dan Levy.

 

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