The suicide rate in Colorado has dropped 40% during COVID quarantine

From the Denver Post:

Colorado recorded a 40% decrease in suicides in March and April as social-distancing policies aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus kept residents home, according to provisional death-certificate data from the state health department.

The data helps paint a complex picture of the mental and emotional toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. While suicides are down from 2019 levels, Colorado Crisis Services saw an almost 48% increase calls in March and April compared to last year, with most callers seeking help for anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation.

Donald Trump (and all of his parrot pundits, by extension) have shamelessly exploited the threat of increased suicides as a reason to "re-open the economy" sooner. This rang hollow before, as it was an excuse often given by people who had never seemed overly concerned about suicide, addiction, or mental health beyond the generic self-serving platitudes that virtue-signal their bare-minimum humanity. Now, it seems like an even more disgusting excuse to profit on the back of human lives.

The Denver Post article does quote from a few experts, who share their possible theories on why this might be happening. Anxieties are, of course, running high, as evidenced by the jump in calls to crisis hotlines. But some people think that this unprecedented crisis may actually be helping to create a sense of community; seeing so many other people so visibly struggling might put things into perspective for some people. Another theory is that people at risk for suicide might be too overwhelmed by the adrenaline of day-to-day survival — figuring out the logistics of simply things like groceries — that it might be temporarily suppressing their emotional pain. Read the rest

Protesting is a non-essential activity, according to the Raleigh Police Department

To be clear: I have absolutely no sympathy for the selfish so-called "protestors" who are being irresponsibly cheered on by the President to "re-open the economy" and endanger millions of American lives. While I can understand economic stresses and concerns about an overreaching government, I simply cannot abide by a movement that was literally organized by nihilistic white nationalists bankrolled by greedy right-wing donors who want other people to die in order to boost a bunch of inherently hollow economic statistics that cannot hold any meaning without human life.

That being said, the Raleigh Police response to the "ReOpen North Carolina" protest was also painfully ridiculous.

"Protesting is a non-essential activity." That's what the police said.

Humans are complex beings, and we are capable of holding more than two thoughts in our minds at once. That's how I'm able to recognize that these protestors were, at best, the unwitting patsies of a bigoted death cult — while also acknowledging that a police department deeming protest as "non-essential" is, at best, dumb, and at worst, utterly horrifying.

Even if one is to agree that these protestors should have been arrested, this is a terrible way to justify that action. They could have just as easily written this off retroactively as reckless endangerment, or simply left it as a public safety violation. Read the rest

Which expiration dates on food packaging should you pay attention to?

This New York Times article has good information about which foods are still safe to eat past their expiration date. One takeaway is that dry food that doesn't have much fat in it is probably safe to eat for years. For example white rice, which has been refined so that the fat is removed, will last a lot longer than brown rice, which will go rancid after several months. Dried beans and lentils will also last for years, but will "become tougher and take longer to cook as time goes on."

Canned fruits and vegetables also have very long shelf lives:

So long as there is no outward sign of spoilage (such as bulging or rust), or visible spoilage when you open it (such as cloudiness, moldiness or rotten smells), your canned fruits, vegetables and meats will remain as delicious and palatable as the day you bought them for years (or in the case of, say, Vienna sausages at least as good as they were to begin with). The little button on the top of jarred goods, which will bulge if there has been significant bacterial action inside the jar, is still the best way to tell if the contents are going to be all right to eat. Depending on storage, that could be a year or a decade. Similarly, cans of soda will keep their fizz for years, glass bottles for up to a year and plastic bottles for a few months. (Most plastics are gas-permeable.)

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class China M. Read the rest

Scooter sharing companies got clobbered by the pandemic

Yesterday's New York Times article about how people's spending patterns have changed because of the pandemic isn't too surprising. Grocery sales are up, due to a combination of panic buying and the fact that people aren't going to restaurants nearly as much as they had been. Other spending areas that have increased are gaming, food delivery, video streaming, and alcohol. Things people are not spending money on as much include fast food, fitness, apparel, hotels, airlines, and movie theaters. The worst here are taxis and scooter rideshare services, which have dropped to almost zero.

From The New York Times:

For many, working from home has meant an end to commuting. As a result, taxis, ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft, mass transit and parking services have all seen precipitous declines in sales. Scooter sharing companies like Lime and Bird, which were booming, have suffered potentially fatal blows. And with fewer cars on the road, car sales and auto parts sales are also down

Image: New York Times Read the rest

Video of a deserted-looking Tokyo after state of emergency declared

The guy who runs the Nippon Wandering TV YouTube channel hopped on his bike and took a video of Tokyo's Shinjuku ward six days after the Japanese government declared a state of emergency. The video was shot at 7:30 at night, which is usually a busy time for this area. Many of the businesses still have bright lights on but the number of pedestrians is much lower than usual.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Australian police fine couple $1,060 after they posted old vacation photos

Jaz and Garry Mott of  Victoria, Australia thought it would be nice to share photos of their 2019 vacation with their Facebook friends. Unfortunately, eagle-eyed police officers spotted the photos and assumed that they'd been taken during mandatory stay-at-home orders. According to The Independent the couple was met at their door by police and "were handed fines of AU$1,652 (£840.70) each for 'failure to comply with a direction given to a person in the exercise of a power under an authorisation given under section 199.'"

The Motts had trouble convincing the police that they were in error, which is unusual because police are well-know for quickly admitting errors when presented with the facts. In this case however, the police didn't revoke the fine until the story made the local news, after which they quietly returned the money.

Image: Facebook Read the rest

Wisconsin voters risked their lives last week — and voted out the party that made them risk their lives

Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown that's surrounding us and suffocating every moment of our lives, the GOP-controlled court system in the state of Wisconsin refused to postpone that state's primary election, or to even respect the sudden influx in mail-in ballots from people who didn't want to get exposed to a virus simply for exercising their right to vote. Read the rest

People stuck at Japan's Narita airport are sleeping in $70/night cardboard boxes

Everyone entering Japan must be tested for coronavirus. While waiting for test results, they are welcome to stay in Narita airport's cardboard box hotel, conveniently located next to baggage claim. The service, which was set up by the Japanese government, charges about $70 a night. The average stay is 2 days.

From Samchui:

The cardboard beds have a futon mattress that is “pretty good”, according to an online review from a passenger who arrived at Narita on an ANA flight from Vietnam.

Many travellers have commented that sleeping is difficult, since the lights remain on at all hours.

The open-air beds have partitions at alternating corners, but are mostly exposed. Beverages and snacks are provided.

You've got to admit, it looks pretty cozy. Read the rest

Unusual punishment for foreign tourists in India caught violating national lockdown

According to a tweet by ANI (Asian News International), "10 foreign nationals who were caught strolling along the bank of river Ganga in Rishikesh were made to write 'I didn't follow lockdown rules, I am sorry,' for 500 times as a punishment for violating #CoronavirusLockdown."

Read the rest