Friday, July 24, 2020

Miscellany for Summer, 2020

As it happens sometimes, I had been on Ancestry several days ago. While there, I checked out some DNA relatives. Many had some genetic heritage in common, but others had distinctly different mixes - for example, Italian genes.

Now, I'm about as boring a heritage as you can get - 98+ % White Euro:
  • 65% English, Irish, and Scottish - mostly English. No connection to royalty or people of influence, just your basic farmers, a few miners and, later, mechanics. Mostly settled into the Ohio River Valley region - Ohio, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh), and the part of Virginia that later became WV. A few of those VA ancestors landed in the New England area, stayed for a few years, but, by the time of the American Revolution, had settled into the place my Dad emigrated from after WWII.
  • 33% Northwestern Europe - Western Germany/Eastern France (borders weren't too solid around then), Holland (before it became The Netherlands), and possibly Southern France.
  • A teeny smidge of Who The Hell Knows? Anything less than 2% is up for grabs, and may indicate errors.
From my Dad's side, we get the Blue-eyed Blondes (Dad was called "Whitey" in his youth for his platinum hair, which my brother also got). From Mom's side, again, Blue eyes, but with Brown or Red hair. I was a Strawberry Blonde with dark hazel eyes (they looked almost Brown, leading to some concern when I read about genetics in high school). Facially, I favor my Dad's side, but have the coloring of my mother's family.

But, my general heritage is well known, both genetically through DNA, but also through documented lineage (I've located official government papers, but also have family Bibles, stories, and newspaper accounts).

Most Black people in this country aren't so blessed in knowing from whom, and where, their family originated. Henry Louis Gates, of the show Finding Your Roots, has delighted many of his guests with helping them to find out that unknown ancestry. It's a treat to watch the surprise and excitement with which the seekers find their connections to heroes, villains, and everyday people.

There needs to be research money available for Black researchers, or those people willing to focus on the genetics of Black people, to improve the health of our fellow Americans of African heritage. It's a big job, but, surely, someone like Bill Gates could be persuaded to fund that effort. If only a few discoveries came out of it, such as methods of reducing diabetes or high blood pressure, that would pay for itself in lower costs in health care, and improved life expectancy for a substantial part of the population.

It's certainly worth the effort and money.

Another post on the Assistant Village Idiot site that caught my eye was on migrations of populations, and how that affected both culture and genetics. My own ancestors kept mostly to a very small corridor of land, from WV to PA to OH, in an area that is roughly along what is today I-77.

Don't knock Virtue Signaling - those that engage in it may be on to something. And, speaking of those who hope to signal their membership in a privileged class, look here for some interesting thinking about that. The post also provides some provocative ideas about how this all relates to the C-19 shutdowns and the protests that followed - both the small business revolt, and the semi-professional protesters that hijacked the unrest for their own aims.

Schools may be heading for extinction - at least, as they are currently structured. The C-Killa virus has led many school systems, fearful of lawsuits if they were to gather those little walking/talking germ-carriers in a confined place, have largely chosen to keep them home/online for a few more weeks/months. In Cleveland, Chicago, and Charlotte/nearby cities, the school boards, confronted by organized hordes of teachers, have capitulated to pressure, and, once again, kicked the can down the road.

This, despite massive quantities of EVIDENCE that the C-bomb is almost completely without lasting effects on K-8 students. High school students are more vulnerable - which might be, in part, as that is also the age when weight, and diabetes-2 skyrockets. Both conditions have been linked with what is called co-morbidity. Co-morbidity means: while for most people this isn't a killer disease, for those who have one or more of these factors - girl, you in danger (as Whoopi said to Demi Moore in Ghost).

But, with a large proportion of the teaching population consisting of those who are over-dramatic, emotionally unstable, and not really understanding mathy things like statistics (or, as you might have guessed, Women and Gays) - schools will be operating online or at reduced hours for most of the next year.

Which fries the asses of most families who need the schools open to make parents' working life possible. Or, whose kid is special ed, and REALLY needs the help with managing their education and care.

Some are choosing to enroll their kids in charters, private schools, or online options. Others are setting up home schooling, or working with other parents to divvy up the job, sometimes with the help of entrepreneurial educators. SOME of them may return later; others will not. Either way, it's a sure bet that the next time the school system asks for more money, they will not get on board automatically.

The sector of schooling that is likeliest to suffer? Middle school, where the majority of bullying can be found. Expect the ready supply of victims to plummet over the next year. Also expect private tutoring, online and off, to enter a Boom Year, as parents look for help with reading and math skills.

School systems, even after returning, will NOT have the money to keep all the staff - state revenues are down, whether fueled by a state income tax, sales tax, or fuel tax. If teachers will not bend on some of their demands, it may be Sayonara to many jobs. Which may spell G-O-O-D-B-Y-E to the teachers' unions, already under wobbly finances.

Some teachers will survive, whether employed by schools or privately:
  • Special ed - these will likely be kept, as their services are really indispensable. They may have to put up with larger classes or longer hours, but their jobs should be safe.
  • Math/Science/Competent Reading/Writing teachers - many, if not most, of them will be either employed by a private business, or work independently. Good ones will be in high demand - some may move to a hybrid of video instruction coupled with individual/small group tutoring (either online or off). Some will make a fortune; most will support themselves easily.
That's it. Other than those two major categories, life after COVID will be tough.

The older teachers (who have the majority of co-morbid conditions, and are at most risk of infection complications) will be encouraged, if not ordered, to retire. The strain on the retirement system will be awful - not only from the sudden lurch in money paid out, but because the newer teachers will be paid less, and, therefore, contribute less to the retirement system. I sure hope the investment advisers are good, as the funds may lag behind the need considerably.

The most positive result of this budget crunch may be the collapse of the Not-Teacher staffing that, in some systems, comes near to equaling the size of the teaching staff.

God, I hope so!

Speaking of working, activists are increasingly getting mighty discouraged. The end of unionism may be coming into view. It seems as though, when times are tough and money gets tight, people start to think about THEIR own future - and being a professional PITA is not a good strategy.

A little like those Victorian maidens who took to their couch for years at a time.

Look, some aspects of the infection may linger - particularly if the person was confined to a bed and ventilated. Those situations may lead to a very prolonged recovery period.

But, there are a FEW who will milk this for decades of lounging about, being supported by hardier, or less delicate, individuals.


George True said...

As you have probably heard, in Los Angeles the teachers union has issued a demand that their condition for opening the schools in September is that ALL charter schools must be shut down.

If I were the mayor of LA, or the sheriff of LA County, I would have these MFers who issued this demand ARRESTED. I would have them very publicly handcuffed and frog marched to jail in front of TV cameras, pending racketeering charges under the RICO statutes.

Linda Fox said...

Look for a rise in virtual/home schooling. There ARE alternatives to the public schools now, and parents are being prodded in a way that makes that alternative more appealing.