Same Panic, Different Century? by Alma Boykin


Same Panic, Different Century? by Alma Boykin

Wet weather the year before had damaged the northern wheat harvest, causing prices to rise and farmers to fear bankruptcy. A trade fight hurt luxury exports, causing more economic uncertainty. People heard rumors of trouble, of outside agitators, of old enemies moving to disrupt the country, and new enemies planning to assault the rightful ruler. People aired their complaints and fears in messages to the government, voicing concerns about the economy, defense, trade. Uncertainty filled the air, and people glanced over their shoulders, waiting, just waiting as rumors trickled out of the capital. Trustworthy news was hard to come by. All the fire of fear needed was a spark . . .[1]

No, not the US in 2020. France in July of 1789. Change a few words, however, add in the internet, and you can see some very strong similarities. History never repeats exactly. However, when similar combinations of elements form, similar results result.

A lot of things troubled France in the spring and summer of 1789. Some had been simmering for years, decades, probably centuries in some regions. Others stemmed from more recent causes. If you could go back to late April of 1789 in France and talk to people in the cities, towns, and rural areas, you’d find fear and uncertainty, resentment, and growing tensions. Traditional societies and change do not get along well, and this was one of those times when too much change met with too many old problems.

Hunger had afflicted much of northern France the previous year. Heavy storms had destroyed wheat and other grain crops in the north. Wine makers had yet to recover from the price collapse of the 1770s-80s, and an early freeze didn’t help them. The government had tried to improve the internal marketing of grain, but people did not believe that things were getting better. They saw wagons of grain going . . . Where? Away, and so they attacked the caravans, paying only the “just price” for the grain that they took. Towns sent people into the country side to confiscate grain, lest the townsfolk go hungry. Taxes consumed much of what was left.

Groups of beggars demanded food, shelter, and other things or they would destroy property, murder, assault, all the horrors one could imagine. Dearth and beggars had existed for ages, but the unease made the problem worse. Any outsider was suspect, and people feared the worst as large numbers of people took to the roads for survival.[2]

Combine all of that with the calls for a meeting of the legislature, the Estates General, and tension increased. The people wanted changes in the taxes, especially the labor and salt taxes. They wanted feudal dues ended. They wanted grain to stay at home, and order. If only the king knew, he’d fix the nobles. If only the king knew . . .

As some news came from Paris and Versailles about the meeting of the Estates General, tension eased in some places and increased in others. After the Tennis Court Oath on June 20th and the renunciation of feudal rights by the nobles, some of the Second Estate fled France. The Prince of Condé was rumored to be gathering support to come back with an army of mercenaries, as were others. Or perhaps it was the queen’s brother, the Holy Roman Emperor, just as it had been in the 1640s. Or the English were coming? Rumor whispered as the grain ripened.[3]

In late July, a combination of political events (the dismissal of the popular finance minister Jacques Necker and stories that the king had sent troops to disperse the parliament), the closeness of harvest, and who-knows-what triggered waves of mass panic.[4] They began, as best historians can tell, around July 20 and subsided by early September. Alarm bells rang, cows in tall grass became armies of brigands, and fear ran through much of France. In some places, peasants destroyed manors and church records on the assumption that without documents, the old rights could not be enforced. In other places, they locked town gates and barricaded them, or marched as a militia to rescue the next town from the beggars and brigands, only to be mistaken for the rumored army and send fear flying to another place. The panic seemed to spread between ten and twenty miles a day, some days perhaps thirty, going both along trade routes and overland, over mountains and across rivers.

Some people tried to stop the fear. They asked for more information, or refused to sound the warning bells.[5] In areas that had either already had their peasant uprisings, or conversely where the people trusted local authorities, nothing much happened. Normandy and parts of Brittany, the far southwestern corner of France, other areas remained unmoved by the panic. In many cases, those who urged calm faced accusations of being in league with the nobles, or of insulting the messengers. How dare they demand proof? Would the man have ridden so far so fast if he had not truly seen a farm burning and an army of brigands moving through the forest? To question his account was to question his courage and honor, and the skeptical often found themselves shouted down.[6]

Then it faded away. No armies of brigands or mercenaries marched through France. The harvest of 1789 proved to be a good one, and the hunger eased. Paris reached a peaceful compromise, although tensions remained. The fear melted away, and contemporary writers dismissed it as further proof of the stupidity and gullibility of rural people. Later historians took much the same approach, with a few supposing a conspiracy of rumors deliberately planted.

Jump ahead to 2020. We see a country swept by a great fear of a foreign invader, a virus. What led up to the fear, as best I can tell?

  1. Media talking about a looming recession and economic doom, and foreign meddling with US politics. Neither of which proved to be quite what rumor had claimed.
  2. A leader who irritates the elites and challenges their “divine right to rule.”
  3. A disease that breaks out in a country infamous for its approach to the well-being of its people, but that the American elites seem to venerate.
  4. Rumors of people dropping dead in the streets, of people locked into their homes to die.
  5. Pronouncements of coming doom if the US government doesn’t “do something.” When it takes a sensible step, the media
  6. Declare that action to be foolish, racist, and wrong, and demand that the government do the something they want.
  7. And then the disease appears in the US, hits already vulnerable populations very hard, and the media and elites demand a panic.
  8. Panic appears.

The people calling for calm and reasonable behavior are shouted down, in some cases literally, by others who insist that they know better. To question the fearful is to be on the side of the virus.

We’ve seen viri before. We’ve seen Great Fears before. The lack of real data and the desire by some for a reason to panic combined to create the Great Fear of 2020. How will it end? I’m a historian, not a prophet. I hope it subsides with a minimum of economic damage, although I’m not holding my breath. We’ll come up with better tests, discover that the fatality rate of the virus is lower than the percentage forecast for the population as a whole, and we’ll bring a lot of biotech back to the US. A lot of people will be irked at the mess, in hindsight, and biologists will mutter about virgin-soil epidemics and hysteria.

Wash your hands, cough into your elbow, don’t go to work or school if you feel like crud. And be not afraid. We’ve seen this before. Build under, build around, be not afraid. Fear is of the Enemy.


For more on mass hysteria in history:

On the Great Fear:

On the French Revolution: Simon Schama. Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution. It is a tome, but well written. An accessible survey, if a touch out of date.

On the French Revolution outside of the cities: Peter McPhee. Living the French Revolution: 1789-99 A more recent (2006) description of life in rural France at the time.

The best single book I’ve encountered on the Great Fear: Georges Lefebvre. The Great Fear of 1789: Rural Panic in Revolutionary France. It is an older work, but goes into detail and is pretty readable.


[1] Lefebvre, 12; Schama, 62-63.

[2] Lefebvre, 14, 17-18.

[3] Shama, 631, describes a nearly identical event in 1703 with William III of England and Holland rumored to be attacking. He had been dead for a year and more.

[4] Lefebvre, 125.

[5] Schama, 629-30; Lefebvre, 152-153.

[6] Lefebvre, 153-54.

197 thoughts on “Same Panic, Different Century? by Alma Boykin

  1. I am currently at odds with myself about this. CV is infectious enough that without some kind of ‘panic’ it could become a serious problem. I didn’t think anybody was caring enough about it during the first month. No it’s all over everywhere and I’m not sure they’re not caring too much about it. Whether the panic is valid in this case or not, the economy train is now off the rails and almost certainly rolling toward the wall of the mountain where the cars will shortly pile into each other to create a great heap of disaster. Be surprised if there’s anything resembling recovery, not that I won’t be pleased to see it if it happens, much before the end of the current Grand Solar Minimum.

    1. I didn’t think anybody was caring enough about it during the first month.

      It’s looking like ‘the first month’ was last November, when the Chinese were busy keeping the Wu Kung Flu under wraps. How could anybody be ‘caring enough about it’ when hardly anybody knew about it?

      We’re in the fourth month of this ‘pandemic’. The Dem Panic is both belated and insane.

      1. *nod*

        Which is why it’s showing up in folks with no known route for infection.

        Well, that and a huge “have it with zero signs,” and an also-large “have it and it’s a normal cold, or maybe mild allergies.”

        1. The CDC’s web site says the symptoms of Wuhan Flu are “fever, cough, or shortness of breath.” (

          Ooo-kaay. Considering this is the normal flu season PLUS the allergy hammer dropping down on much of the population, that’s anti-information to the point of being a deliberate attempt to panic people.

          The CDC notes on another page “not everyone with the flu will have a fever.”

          Perhaps they need to coordinate with Border Patrol and TSA…

          1. They’re actually leaving out known information, from the Japanese report they’re missing joint-pain, aches, etc.

            The symptoms are literally “a cold or flu which sometimes turns into respiratory distress.”

            1. Foxfier isn’t wrong: heard from a coworker that a friend of her’s (thankfully long-distance) has COVID-19, and is suffering from terrible body and joint aches. Only extra-strength Tylenol (or its generic equivalent) seems to relieve them. Ibuprofin, Motril, etc. have no effect.

              1. Dug around and found the stats, because I was going to say something like “to be fair, it’s an unusual symptom.”

                At of case report day, the main symptoms identified were fever 81/112 (72%), cough 69/112 (62%), pneumonia 43/66 (65%), sore throat 23/68 (34 %), general malaise 20/61 (33%), nasal discharge or congestion 17/64 (27%), headache 17/62 (27%), diarrhea 11/64 (17%), nausea and/or vomiting 5/60 (8%), joint or muscle pain 4/58 (7%), acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) 3/41 (7%), and conjunctival congestion 0/53 cases (0%). Please note that the change in denominators was due to the exclusion of a case from the total if there was no information provided for that symptom or if it was unknown.

                So here’s the exact same comment but with more content.

                  1. Based on:
                    1. These symptoms.
                    2. Final acknowledgement it has been around since November, in China.

                    I’m convinced it got here in November. 2019. AND I caught it in December, or a very close cousin. Started as a sore throat whose symptoms migrated to include upper chest. Developed into a cough. Bad enough that I half figured it was early stages of Whooping Cough, but not-quite-that-bad as it only hurt my chest, not clear down to my toes, & getting breath back after the cough was doable, without triggering another session of coughing before I could actually breath. Another session might trigger, but at least I’d get a breath or two in first. Also triggered nausea (and lower clean out, but under TMI, my system can trigger that on it’s own without being sick). Low grade fever, but nothing dramatic. I felt lousy. But not terrible. Enough that I knew I was sick. Joint Aches & pains. No problem, retired, no where I have to be, let it run it’s coarse. … Then it moved into the sinuses … Then, living became uh, optional, okay, felt lousy. Didn’t get out of bed except to take NyQuil and whatever I thought would stop the aches. Fever? Who knows? Felt like it. I was sick overall a solid forevertwo weeks.

                    Granted it had been years since I’d been sick. I’d avoided everything son has brought home from work & whatever hubby has brought home from weekly golf, and worse, hubby’s annual golf trip (someone ALWAYS shows up sick, or gets sick early on the trip). So I could have just been assaulted by multiple viruses that have been chasing around & all caught me at once.

                    1. Who here posted about the con crud that got passed around at the Wuhan Military Games seeming awfully suspicious in retrospect?

                    2. I’m betting on close cousin. It is COVID19. With something piggybacked onto it. Like someone else posted, Canine Covidvirus isn’t particularly dangerous for dogs. But it is a gateway for Parvo which is prevalent, endemic to anywhere dogs are or have been, and deadly.

                      Anyone who has gotten a puppy knows what I’m talking about. You do not let a puppy touch ground unless you know, absolutely know, 100% know, it is safe. Not until they’ve had ALL the shots required. At minimum the first one, but though the risk is less, it isn’t removed until the second booster.

                    3. Woulda been me (canine professional, 50 years now) posting about canine corona vs parvo. Corona only infects puppies under 6 weeks; annoying diarrhea but not serious. But it knocks down the immune system, so back before good parvo vaccine, the next step was parvo (then with mortality in adults 50%, in puppies 90%). So it was a big deal when a good MLV corona vaccine came along. (Developed at Cornell ca. 1985; they gave the rights to a private firm… which a few years later mismanaged itself into an early grave, and the vaccine was lost to the world. There is now a killed corona vaccine, but it’s not nearly as good.)

                      Now we have good parvo vaccine (use NeoPar starting at 5 weeks, and never worry about parvo again) and corona in dogs is pretty much irrelevant.

                      Apparently Wu Flu can infect dogs, but is asymptomatic. Worms & Germs blog has been posting about it.

                      [And if you’re getting occasional ‘lower clean out’ with no apparent cause, get tested for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.]

                1. Problem is, I have tendencies in those directions normally, so it could have been a worse year in my perceptions, or I could have had Corona a lot.

                  And I had a recent confirmation about something physical that might’ve been influencing my levels of malaise and anxiety.

                  I don’t trust my perceptions of this year, last year was really bad for me medically, and I don’t trust that my memories of ‘normal’ were left unflavored by that.

              2. Friend in Canuckland reports something like that. Not tested, but fair guess. On the mend, back to work next week…

              1. I’ll stick with “so busy worrying about other stuff they have to work to rise to incompetent,” which is functionally very similar other than in predicting what they’ll do next.

                So far, they map fairly well with the sort-of-cousin whose initial response to this back in Feb. was to call everyone racists for paying attention to infection vectors. Not actually evil as a goal, just so fixated on a possible but much lesser good that they’ll sacrifice a dozen greater goods in pursuit of it.

                Since a nice, simple definition of doing evil is when you sacrifice a greater good for the sake of a lesser one, they still DO evil….

              2. I added them to my list when they jumped on the gun control bandwagon years ago.

                Also, before Wuhan Flu there were all the *other* epidemics, for which they were always spectacularly useless; why expect them to suddenly change?

      2. My bad, wasn’t accurate enough. The first month after China let us know about it, MSM wasn’t nearly as active as they are now. They’ve only ramped up on it to my perception very recently. My head says just about three weeks to where they’re all now working it for clicks.

        I think a case can be made for the panic preventing a far more damaging (to public health) outbreak than we are currently seeing. I don’t think that can be determined before at least the first wave of this is over and done with, maybe not then.

        We’re still not nearly as aware of what we’re dealing with in the US as we need to be to make any kind of decent evaluation about it. When South Korea can so badly overwhelm us as regards performance with testing the populace, there is something wrong with the orgs and people we depend on to do that. And don’t forget WHO, which sold out the planet from the get-go.

    2. Plus remember the DEMS were doing the impeachment show trial. Even if they knew about it, they wouldn’t have let it get in the way of their show.

  2. c4c; will read this tomorrow when I’m less ill. (No, not Kung Flu, just ate some rice and sausage leftovers for lunch that had started to go off – didn’t smell bad, didn’t look bad, so I ate it, but my stomach says “HAVE SOME REGRET”)

    1. Last note before I head off to bed: My observation is there are people who enjoy causing panic and like the ‘importance’ of running around in a panic screaming DOOM DOOM END OF TEH WORLD. There’s always a ‘crisis’ that ‘needs to be solved’ by putting these galaxy brains in power. e_e When they’re the last people who should EVER have even a quark’s worth of power of any sort. Ever.

      1. For a while my Lady and I resided in a rented house in Bethesda MD. Nice DC bedroom community . and ion the first couple of weeks every day I would be called to the front door by some sweet teen thing with another environmental petition. That stopped the day I explained to one of them that the reason I wouldn’t sign her petition (or any of the others) was that it was my strong opinion that if new took the board of directors of the Sierra Club and hanged them, something like 50% of the ‘environmental problems’ in the US would disappear.

    2. When that happens… if you can, induce vomiting as soon as you feel that gassy rumble in the tummy. If you can’t — any oral antibiotic helps. Either can save you from a serious bout with Montezuma’s Revenge.

  3. My boss and I, talking about how this is going to hit the US economy, both expect that it’s going to take months, if not longer, for the economy to recover. Talking to the wife yesterday, we both also expect a lot of small “Mom & Pop” restaurants to quite likely not reopen when the various restrictions on gathering are lifted.

    It’s going to be…
    Interesting times for the next year+

    Now, my tin-foil-hat side was thinking about how this whole “self-isolation / quarantine / no large gatherings / close the restaurants and bars thing is a *GREAT* way to start down the road towards martial law…
    That the whole thing has been pushed to a panic-level by the media at the behest of the left-wing party in order to avoid having the (further) left-wing crowd howl about their candidate being denied their rightful place as the opponent of the current Pres, and sitting out the election, costing the left the Pres (again, ignoring that once again, their chosen candidate (and don’t tell me the fix isn’t in) doesn’t have a whelks chance in a supernova.)

  4. Thanks Alma … Needs more thought, but one quick observation based on a dinner last night with our 30-something kids. They have no history, aren’t aware of polio, Spanish flu, TB, or H1N1. And without history, they are especially vulnerable to every opinion that comes along. They have no yardstick and are an age to assume that their generation is more knowledgable, wiser, and better equipped than their “elders.”

      1. Funny that you would say … I had just been wondering about the longer term response, as resentment and anger become issues. So the “old hands” are going to be an important stabilizing/calming resource soon, I suspect.

        1. A service our newspapers could provide would be “think-pieces” such as this, putting current events in historical context. This would move them away from the battle to break news, a battle they’ve long since lost, and position them as a market-enhancing good, offering value not readily met by the internet click-baiters.

          One of my greatest complaints about Media coverage after the fall of Afghanistan and Iraq was their failure to provide perspective on what challenges to rebuilding a nation might be and what metrics might be useful in gauging progress. Nothing in the intervening years indicates they’ve grasped the extent of their missed opportunity; rather they’ve doubled down on stupid.

          In many ways they’ve already done this on the Sports pages, offering greater depth of coverage than merely who won and who contributed (or attempted to bugger up) to that victory. Instead the politicization of the woker-than-thou regime is permeating all content, including the recipes and crossword puzzles. The death of the MSM is, like that of an Alzheimered parent, regrettable not because of its occurring but because of the depredation happening en route to the grave.

      2. “Those who control the past control the future.”

        The last few generations aren’t ignorant by accident.

  5. As long as I don’t get asked for a guest post on my legal ‘innovation’ for stringing up agents of foreign influence, this place should be relatively sane.

    I’m still way too agitated.

    1. Oh, go for it. Every other place seems to be going insane, at least we could play it for laughs… as we carefully take notes, just in case it’s no laughing matter later.

      1. Over at Alma’s I decided that it was plausible enough that people might decide to act on it as if it were sound, and with the way tempers are running I don’t need to be escalating by spreading it around.

        If my contact gets me the link to the “5G EM causes Corona” blog, I may investigate that. My guess is that proposal is as informed in electrical engineering, as my law notion is in legal studies. (My notion basically relies on jurisdictional arguments, and the obvious counterargument is ‘No, Federal civil criminal law has jurisdiction’. I doubt many would want to be found arguing with a Federal judge over that, and the rest is likely to make a lawyer want to head desk.)

        The 5G/Corona thing is more likely to serve my mood well, if I have a hankering to do a bunch of research that I don’t actually need to be doing.

        Better than that for my mood is doing something purely entertaining, or getting my *blanking* productivity back in good order. Because I’ve been in a bad mood, and my work has suffered. Maybe also my sleep.

      1. You need to get that fixed.

        Luckily for you, I have three possible courses of treatment for aggravated Bobness.

        a) Remember how you talked about regretting not studying Mechanical Engineering? Try that out a bit.
        b) Try reading a massive amount of fanfic, light novels, etc.
        c) There’s this doctor I’ve been seeing because my allergies are just about intolerable…

        What might be more useful, some of the more extreme and unpleasant manifestations of my personality are tied to unhappiness about what I am doing in life, physical misery, and physical health things screwing with my thinking.

        I think you’ve mentioned a pretty challenging situation with some health stuff right now. If that is true, my experience is that this can throw the thinking right off. Wanting to kill communists because high rage levels make living under the same sky a challenge can be a manifestation of depression. So it might be worth while to work on calm, hold tightly to your loved ones, and be aware that this two may pass.

        One of the things that may have helped me today is realizing that my cabin fever is being exacerbated by unnecessary interpretations I am making of housemate behavior.

        The lamp posts may well prove necessary, but I know that this isn’t where I need my head and my heart to be right now. I have a very long term goal that I need to find some of my short term discipline and energy for. Right now, I have been wasting time and emotion compulsively and fruitlessly trying to make the dribs of information come out faster so I can figure everything out. I have to wait for covid, and Lord willing, will be waiting a long time to learn about the lamp posts.

        I will try to remember your aggravated Bobness in my prayers.

  6. I’m staying off Teh Interwebz and “writing as a practice” per Madam Hoyt to maintain an even strain. Its mostly working, except for the odd zap now and again when I think of something bad.

    It is going to be a rough couple of weeks before we find out what the real deal is.

  7. Have healthy supply of TP. Self-quarantining. (It’s easy when your a hermit, anyway). Waiting for the panic to subside.

  8. Between the conspiracy theories about COVID-19 being engineered to cover mass arrests of pedophile celebrities and racists blaming the Children of Israel (yet again), I’m about ready for 2020 to be done.

    1. Oh, God, the idiocy hasn’t really even BEGUN. The Demic-rats have at least three more dirty tricks to flub before November, and the theft of an election to botch. Then we’ll have until New Year’s Day to listen to them carry own about how their loss isn’t REALLY a loss, how the Democrat operatives caught red-handed committing vote fraud weren’t REALLY breaking the law, etc, etc,. And that’s just 2020.

      My advice? Lay in a supply of good meaty books you’ve meant to read. I’m thinking about taking another run at Grant’s Memoirs.

      1. And we’re overdue for another “mass shooting event”. Those have been regular as clockwork for years now.

          1. One of the goals of the shooter in New Zealand was tougher gun laws; especially in the US.

        1. Hasn’t been any national-level pro-gun legislation or Supreme Court cases guarenteed to pass/be ruled in our favor recently. Funny how they seemed to coincide with mass shootings…. or maybe I’ve just got my tinfoil wound a little too tight.

      2. Yes, lay in the meaty tomes. The ones that make a satisfying *crunch* sound when applied upside the panickee’s head. And, the ones that can be stacked sufficiently high to get an appropriate dangle distance for the panickers……

    2. Did you see the one where it’s to cover up the US arresting Canada’s prime minister for criminal conspiracy to defraud?

  9. Blog posts with foot notes. 😉

    I was reminded the other day about how some people overstate everything on this sort of theory, that people won’t respond otherwise. You can’t say “this is bad” because no one cares until you say “people will die.” You can’t say that we’d be better off if people were gracious to each other, you have to say that words are violence. You can’t just say that you’re upset, you have to throw plates.

    Because it’s the only way I can understand how someone can take a “don’t panic, and isn’t this interesting” post as some sort of mortal danger and moral tragedy.

    You can’t just take your responsibility not to pass germs around seriously, you’ve got to have your hair on fire.

    1. It’s the same process which has rendered a 3-star review (out of five) a slam when what it actually asserts is that “the service/product met all expectations adequately.”

  10. Thanks for the history lesson.

    I’m much more worried about what this panic does to our economy than what the virus itself does to the populace.

    1. You’re welcome!

      And I agree on the economic damage being real. I went to a women’s shop today, and saw a sign on the door saying they were closed. The website for the company said that entire national chain had closed, effective yesterday evening, until at least March 31. Their HQ being in . . . CA . . . might have had something to do with it.

    2. and that’s what’s driving my depression. I have kids just starting out (VERY HOPEFULLY. Everything crossed) and we need to recover from the last three years.
      And we don’t even know if we’ll have income at the end of this tunnel.
      Add in that I’ve blocked hard on non fiction except for occasional on this blog….

  11. Our cafe at a Sam’s Club in Ohio was closed (instead of staying open for takeout, which would have been profitable but exhausting). We employees are now working in the meat department and making deli food. It is a big change, but they have been understaffed for months and are glad to have us.

    It is less busy, but people are buying meat and snacks like no tomorrow. Not fish, but hamburger and any other meat cut; and we are making as many rotisserie chicken as the ovens and skewers can hold, and selling them with ten minutes or so. The meat department profits are huge, but we cannot get the meat fast enough.

    Btw, since I always wondered vaguely — we make “rotisserie chicken salad” from packs of brand new cooked and cut chicken sent to us refrigerated. It isn’t a leftover; we apparently haven’t had leftover rotisserie chicken for years, and it solves a lot of hygiene problems. So the salad chicken is roasted at the factory.

    Milk is bought out every day, but not half and half (or kefir, over at Walmart). A lot of “healthy foods” are in good supply. The snacks are for kids home from closed schools.

    1. I love making stock from a rotisserie chicken. You let it cool enough that you don’t burn your fingers, rip all the meat off the bones, and throw the carcass into a stock pot with enough water to cover it. And any odds and ends of applicable veggies. Then you boil it for hours (I often do it until I go to bed, turn it off, start it again the next morning, and end up with gelatinized stock.) Then, if you’re so inclined, chop up some of that chicken, add some frozen veggies, and freeze the whole as instant chicken soup, just add seasoning.

      1. You said “Then you boil it for hours”. Instant you keep using that word I do not think it means what you think it means :-). Although I’ll bet it makes pretty darned good soup. And you can probably freeze the broth to keep it. We do similar things (using canned/boxed broth) and even that is pretty good. Yours will certainly have more flavor.

            1. Well, yeah. If you do it for hours you get ALL the good stuff out. When I mention getting gelatin, I’m not kidding. (It helps with storage, too.)

      2. I love rotisserie chicken stock, too! But I’m lazy; I typically do mine in the slow cooker, so it simmers to itself for afternoon and overnight, and then I turn it off, let it cool, and put it away the next day.

        Recently, someone pointed out I can turn 12 hours into 2 by using the Instant Pot. While it creates less stock than I usually do in the slow cooker, the results were so much faster with same lack of fuss that I will be doing that again.

        But not right away. Right now? I have at least 6 tubs of stock in the freezer, so I can avoid the grocery stores for a good few weeks aside from milk. And if the stupid stays strong, I have canned sweetened condensed milk, so I can continue avoiding grocery shopping after that.

      3. Oh my gosh, I found a new favorite use for that stock– made rice with it. Had a container I hadn’t done anything with because time got away from me, wanted to use it before it went bad.

        Cup rice, 2 cups of the cold (so basically goopy jello) stock, added about 1/4 cup just to be sure it wouldn’t be dry, results were AWESOME chicken rice, suitable for anything you’d make with chicken anyways.

        1. Oh yeah… Rice Glop: any random stock plus or minus random meat, onions, tomatoes, and/or whatever; add enough rice to suck up most of the liquid. (If microwaving, use Instant Rice.) Serve with butter and lemon pepper. 😀

          And remember: if you can still see the food —


      4. I usually throw in a few handfuls of egg noodles, and get delicious noodle glop, appropriately served with butter and lemon pepper.

        Meanwhile, my mom asks, “Why is there a bag of chicken bones in your freezer??”

            1. Yep. Enough bones (and veggie scrap, mostly onion) to fill the pot, enough time to get around to it… pot empty, enough space in the fridge to handle cooling it down….

    2. I went to one of our local grocery stores for various and sundry (OK, Diet Dr. Pepper). Completely out: carrots – all things carrot. Bagged onions. Most of the sweet potatoes. Most pre-packaged meats except for ham. Cheap milk and skim milk. Water was available but they asked one case per customer. I didn’t check the paper goods. A lot of things were being re-stocked.

      At the meat market, the ground beef was gone, except for some 15 pound boxes of patties. Apparently the Woo Floo Boo Hoo causes an uncontrollable desire for burgers, spaghetti, and the like. And people were passing the word on where one could pick up generic bread and so on.

      What’s more worrisome is the manager of the place I got breakfast was talking about her kids were scared that people would be kicking in doors of houses to take their bottled water, food, and TP. Houston, if that’s the sort of stuff that’s going around here, we have got a serious problem. But it also fits the historical pattern – “armies of brigands coming to seize the harvest.”

      1. The water makes NO sense. Distilling ethanol is illegal for both tax and safety reasons (I don’t give damn if State/Fed doesn’t get what they claim theirs for physics, but one doesn’t know to dump ‘heads’ and ‘tails’ there WILL be problems). But WATER? ANYONE can purify water. *OX* can manage THAT! Humans, really…

        Local supermarket the shipment was limited to 1800 pieces, just upped to 2000. Product manager ADMITTED “I don’t know how to order now.” He’s making a 2,200 piece order, figure simple shortage will knock down to 2,000 – if he’s lucky, ONLY to 2,000. It WAS 1,800, and the last shipment was… 1,600.

        On the other hoof, the trucks (semis) ARE moving. “Stepfather is a trucker. Tried to put in for a couple weeks off. No dice.” Products ARE moving, come Hell or High Water, They. Are. Moving. Things will be goofy for a week or two, but NOT dire.

        Out of TP and the supermarket shelves are bare? Try the hardware store(s). Yeah, weird, and likely overpriced, BUT they HAVE something.

        Also, yeast is EVERYWHERE. (local supermarket got more sugar, more flour in, Yeast? FORGET IT.) Just because the store shelves are bare does NOT mean bread (or booze) cannot be made. It’ll just take a bit longer and the flavor might be… different.

        1. People seem to think that we’ll lose water and power. Now granted, some days the tap water here has a sort of strong flavor (lake turnover season), but it is quite drinkable. I suspect that all the EOTWAWKI, zombie-horror, and related narratives that have dominated so much of pop-culture are influencing things more than people realize. I could be off, but that’s my guess.

          1. It’s the stupid factor. We have a lot of new American from places run like old American prog strongholds. At any moment an Iron Ricebowl type could decide to quarantine the water treatment plant.

        2. During a sugar shortage in the 1970’s, Rip Off Press printed a Freak Brothers story in which Fat Freddy, unable to get any from the store, buys a baggie on the street.

          Freewheelin’ Franklin, “Fat Freddy, you got burned again! This ‘sugar’ is at least 90% heroin!’ It hardly even sweetens the coffee!”

        3. If trucks are not moving in Montana, it’s because earlier today I-90 was backed up for miles… musta been a wreck on the westbound lanes (was storming something awful off that direction). Never seen so many semis on the highway cam at once before… road is open now, and what do I see going by? Semi trucks.

          Truckers, the heroes of the day.

      2. My current working theory is much of the empty shelves, though initially caused by a run on the stores, is a result of supply chain disruption. Case in point was Monday morning at a local slightly-upmarket grocery store: Milk was completely wiped out with one brand exception, and when I asked the guy stocking he said that brand was the only dairy’s delivery truck that showed up, and when they did they said “The good news is I have your stores invoice; the bad news is I don’t have your stores order on my truck” and had to steal from other store locations orders to give this store some product.

        I’m thinking you lose a couple of drivers and a couple of planners and a few warehouse folks here and there staying home bunkered up, and you get spotty and slow recovery of the gaps left by various mass hysteria driven panic buying.

        There were some other gaps – no mac-and-cheese in boxes at all, packaged bread was empty, but fresh baked local bakery bread was in stock, and they were pretty light on refrigerated orange juice – but this store is the one with the old-time butcher’s counter running the entire back of the store, and they had no gaps in fresh meat at all.

    3. There’s a small California-themed chain-store burrito shop in the next town; I stop there sometimes, chatted with the owner a couple of times.

      It’s basically a “store in a box.” Everything comes pre-sliced and pre-cooked in 5-gallon buckets. The preparation area is just Subway-style serving pans behind the counter. There are refrigerators and soft drink machines. Everything comes from local restaurant suppliers, right down to napkins and furniture. Only the sign outside and some interior artwork establish “branding.”

      The big deal, apparently, is the buckets full of chicken, beef, and fish, all ready to go. Not having cooking facilities reduces their regulatory overhead considerably, plus insurance advantages.

      I haven’t come across any other local place as completely outsourced, but you can be pretty sure if any local restaurant is serving a sliced, grilled meat product, it’s from one of the restaurant supply houses, not their own kitchen. Once you learn to look for it it’s easy to recognize.

  12. I’m less nervous about the Chinese coronavirus now that I’ve gone through the not-a-flu. Got to reading about Influenza Like Illness (officially termed ILI). CDC lumps Real Flu(tm) in with the others, but as of the beginning of March, 23% of the people with ILI actually test positive for Flu A or B. The rest have anything from a bad cold to leukemia (says Wiki). I’m think that Kung Flu in its milder cases is part of the 77%.

    Numbers on ILI and distributions.

    Also looking at the Diamond Princess Mystery article that Sarah linked to (via Insty) this morning (5:32 AM, I’m not going into WP gulag by posting the link). I’ve read several articles by Willis Eschenbach, and he’s another Odd who looks carefully at information. The takeaway from that: in the petri dish that was the Diamond Princess, with a demographic heavily skewed to high ages, 83% of the people on board *didn’t* get the virus. In addition, about half with the virus in their systems presented with no symptoms. Hmm.

    Not everybody freaking out over this is necessarily uninformed or malicious (I’m thinking of people like Aesop, the ER nurse in SoCal at Raconteur Report), but I think he and others like him are looking at the hot end of the bell curve and assuming it’s typical. OTOH, it’s a bit beyond “it’s nothing”.

    I’m tired enough that I’m not going to find Sarah’s link, but the RedState article that figures the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan is due to a somewhat different virus than what’s hitting us now. If people are panicking over the monster that was under another’s bed, [strokes chin]…

    My ILI fever broke Sunday night, but I still have the cough. $SPOUSE caught it from me, and seems to be running 5-6 days behind my progress. So, for us, maybe a 6 day incubation period.

  13. Hmm, WP seems to be eating comments. Shorter version of an earlier post, COVID-19 only got 83% of all the people on the Diamond Princess, and there are indications that the virus that clobbered Wuhan might *not* be what’s going around the US. If that’s the case, the panic is over another virus. Arggh.

    1. I saw one article (was it linked from here, earlier? Perhaps) that COVID has two forms, one MUCH less nasty than the BigBad (which might not be SO bad) and if you got LittleBad, it gave immunity to BigBad (suddenly those spray Chinese trucks make sense in a non-completely-evil way). Truth coefficient: unknown.

      Really, by now, I almost want to rush out and get the damn thing and get it over with. If I can CHOOSE LittleBad, great! For all I know, I’ve had it and hadn’t even noticed. (I seldom get Truly Ill… the last time I did, I presumed it was food-borne, but it just MIGHT have influenza B, though that is NOT the way to bet.) I keep thinking back to, oh, 20+ years ago when I felt lousy Friday afternoon, pretty much slept through a(n alcohol-free) weekend.. felt a bit better Sunday evening… and Monday everyone ELSE at work was going through Hell – a Hell I’d slept through.

      1. $SPOUSE and I figure that with me getting not-a-flu and passing the same symptom-progression to her, we’re probably reasonably immune to Corona-chan. Starts like hay fever, then like a cold, then flu. Stays that way a couple of days (for me, mileage may vary), then fever breaks, but leaving runny nose and an impressive gunky cough.

        The fever broke Sunday night. I’m thinking next Monday I’ll be up for a trip into town, if the weather permits.

          1. O-positive. It’s nice to have one factor in my favor. Must ask $SPOUSE her blood type.

            I’m in the slowly-but-steadily-getting better sinus inflammation and lung crud phase. $SPOUSE is in the I-have-to-get-up-to-cough-every-few-hours-stage. If the timeline is right and she progresses at the same rate as me, the turning point will be Friday/Saturday for her. OTOH, it is spring mold season and we haven’t vacuumed dog hair up in a few days. I think I’m up to vacuuming.

            The dogs are going nuts; they’re used to seeing one of us getting sick on rare occasions (living rural, I’ve been getting a cold every 3-5 years, rather than once or twice a year), but when we’re both sick, it’s TEOTWAWKI as far as they’re concerned. Herding dogs and sick humans, interesting combination.

      2. First report I saw, somewhat Before Panic, was that three variants had been identified, but with no indication whether they were Small, Medium, or Large.

        Canine coronavirus is Very Small (only symptom: a week of hershey squirts), but because it also knocks down the immune system, serves as a gateway for canine parvovirus, which is Very Very Large (up to 90% mortality even with good care). Wouldn’t surprise me if some of what we’re seeing in humans is other handy random viruses piggybacking on coronavirus, but not being ID’d because all we’re looking for is coronavirus. Would explain a lot of the variation, and the relapse syndrome.

  14. Arggh, COVID did *not* get 83% of the people on the Diamond Princess, so with optimal demographics for the Grim Reaper, only a 17% take rate.

    1. And with the 17% who showed the virus, only half had symptoms. Hmm.

      Is this why it’s not showing up in homeless camps? a) it’s not as easy to get as portrayed, and b) until a day or so ago, getting tested for COVID was about as easy as finding a competent person at the CDC. (The doc who advised me Saturday said they had a hard time getting inpatients tested. Oregon “Health” Authority had “may test, maybe” criteria for fever, viral lower respiratory and inpatient status until yesterday.)

      1. The “homeless” I’ve seen are “self-isolated” as much as practical to start with. They’re certainly not socializing with the “international travel” set.

        1. Depends on where international travelers with Burisma gigs go to get their drugs.

          Hunter has said he scored his in LA homeless encampments.

          1. Biden’s claimed net worth is only $3 million. I’d guess at least ten times that, sheltered with a little help from Dad’s friends. And he would have had anti-kidnapping briefings from the Secret Service when his Dad was VP.

            While he’s certainly stupid enough to wander Skid Row looking to score some dope, given his social circles, that’s the kind of thing you send a “personal assistant” out for.

    2. Here’s a pretty solid piece including – Diamond Princess data – that I found over at Maggie’s Farm. The author is a Stanford MD with a readable piece, the kind that would be good to pass along to the panic heard, that is, if they would read it:

      “The one situation where an entire, closed population was tested was the Diamond Princess cruise ship and its quarantine passengers. The case fatality rate there was 1.0%, but this was a largely elderly population, in which the death rate from Covid-19 is much higher.”

      Lots more to be digested there, but the bottom line from a real pro is that we don’t have – I’m shocked! Shocked, I tell you! – any good data and are likely over-reacting.

      1. I read that. Problem is, it’s one sample population against the rise of cases in younger-age populations that Italy and France are seeing.

        1. Two test cases, with comprehensive testing, that didn’t flatly refuse to treat folks who were old or might be expensive if they live.
          In Italy, they refused to so much as look at a woman in her 40s who had epilepsy. So, of course, she died a week later, rather than recovering before she ever got seriously ill. (Imagine how much they saved on her future epilepsy treatments!)

          In contrast, Korea has… two deaths for those under 50. They haven’t hit “everyone in the country is tested” levels yet, but they’re working on it.

        2. Also a study from Italy showing that 99% of their sample of deaths had at least one other persisting illness and nearly half had two or more.

  15. So much has already been said that I figure I can say nothing new, and I am not a doctor, epidemiologist, not statistician… but someone really needs to use the obvious gag title: “Mortality and COVIDity”.

  16. Well written. I’ll be sharing this around. It is the same discussion I’ve been having with anyone who tells me about pandemics and shutting down everything, but your version has better historical anecdotes.

  17. The people throwing tantrums about price increases, while also throwing tantrums about other people buying all the product (who knew that must gun owners are rabid socialists?), are getting on my nerves. It is time to explain the facts of life:

    “Any seller that does not increase prices in the face of panic buying is socially irresponsible.”

    1. The price which any retailer ought set for a good is the cost of replacing it in stock. What you paid for it doesn’t matter, what you will have to pay to replace it in inventory is the critical consideration.

      1. “Oil prices went up, but the gas at the station has been paid for!”

        “Guess what? The station has to pay for the NEXT tank. Which will cost more.”

        1. As I believe I have remarked before, the self-nominated Elite are fond of pretending expertise in fields (such as economics) which require the kind of mathematics they have been ducking since sixth grade. Their proposals are, of course, always tainted by their lust for power, but their absolute inability to do even the most fundamental math to check their proposals has a lot to do with how little actual sense they make.

      2. I respectfully disagree. The definition of the ideal price is probably more like “the one that causes the item to sell out just as the next shipment arrives.” This may, or may not, be related to the cost to the seller. There is nothing that prevents a retailer from carrying an unprofitable product.

    2. Here in the Gloriously Sheltered In Place Peoples Bear Flag Republic, at least in Silicon Valley, I note with great mirth that gun stores do not qualify as “essential businesses” under the public health order, but the news media does.

  18. Citations, on a blog?

    You are one strange lady, Ms Boykin. No wonder you fit in here so well.

    1. Strangeness has a Charm, if a bit of a Spin. It also has its Ups and Downs. I will NOT speculate as to Top and Bottom. I might be crazy, but I ain’t stupid.

      1. It’s probably worth mentioning that “top” and “bottom” were originally “truth” and “beauty,” which I always liked a lot more that “top” and “bottom.”

        1. I remember the quandry when the quantum people were trying to decide if “naked beauty” was better or worse than “bare bottom”. Good times.

  19. The people calling for calm and reasonable behavior are shouted down
    Yep. I keep being told that I just don’t care about those people and I am ignoring the seriousness of the virus.
    And, yet, data keeps creeping out that shows, once again, I’m probably going to be able to say, “I told you so.”

    don’t go to work or school if you feel like crud
    While true, it being allergy season means you can have great fun when around the herds with the occasional cough or sneeze.
    *wahchoo!* => PANIC!!!

    1. Back during the H1N1 bird flu ballyhoo, I saw a cartoon with two birds in a cage. The cage was in a living room, and a man sat in a chair, reading a newspaper about the flu as the TV blared about the flu. One bird said to the other, “Wanna see something funny? Watch what they do when I sneeze!”

        1. I saw that yesterday. *sigh* There’s a lot to be said for not living in super-close proximity to various birds and critters. Between Asia and Africa, who needs to bio-engineer anything? Those continents do it on their own. (Which my enviro history prof pointed out years ago. When you have places where humans have been living for tens of thousands of years, the bugs adapt as well.)

    2. I’ve spent 35 years working for, with, and around big NY banks. I went through several recessions, debt crisis, Asian crisis, Great Recession, you name it. There comes a point where the only number that will be accepted is the highest, most outlandish number that still leaves the firm and its management intact. It’s usually a stupid number but anyone who tries to be reasonable is run over. I forgot this once during what turned out to be a sharp crisis in HK. I was right, I got fired. Mr. hair-on-fire got promoted. Lesson learned.

      My father used to say never be right when everyone around you is wrong because they’ll hate you. He worked on Wall Street too.

      1. If you know how to place the bets, though, you can make a great deal of money by being right when everybody is charging off in the other direction. My maternal grandfather was involved in one of the earliest Mutual Funds, and in September of 1929 his fellow executives demanded to know why he was holding the fund 50% liquid. They wanted him to get back into the Market as the stocks soared to new heights.

        He said, “Buy me out.”

        Which is why I have had the funds to take care of my chronically and expensively ill Lady. But the associates of his that jumped out of windows were why Grandfather spent the rest of his life trying to reconcile the stock market and sunspot cycles.

        1. I was net short in September 2008 and neutral going in to March 2020. So, yes. The contrarian bet is usually the most profitable. My only regret is that I was very light on options going in to this. I would be a very wealthy man, pre tax, if I had been more aggressive. It takes a lot of disciple though, and the mental toll and tension when the bets go against you is immense.

          Playing with your own money is not a game I recommend. Much better to use other people money and then privatize the gains and socialize the losses

    3. Indeed. I have a slight chronic cough in the mornings, 100% likely to be a side effect of the Lisinopril that I have to take for high blood pressure and some other stuff. But, holy heck – am I wary now about going around, and coughing in public.

      1. It’s seasonal allergy time in the Sonoran desert, so yeah, the odd sneeze or cough is going to happen.

        Also how do they expect us not to be touching our faces when our eyes are all itchy and watery from allergies?

    4. Assuming they don’t trample you, or decide that you would make a wonderful example of why staying home is wise…..

    5. “Wahchoo = PANIC!!!!”

      I think that actually happened at one of our clients last week. We had a few people there on-site when somebody (not one of ours, one of the client’s) suddenly had a sneezing attack or something. Apparently the client immediately shut down all on-site operations, sent everyone home, and ordered the sneezer to go get tested. Haven’t heard anything back, and my company is taking COVID-19 pretty seriously, so I’m assuming they tested negative.

  20. I naturally self-isolated after the surgery, but that was last Wednesday. In a few days I will start my normal routine, which looks like everyone else’s “social distancing” routine. 😀 When I’m not trying to find bread and/or bread mix, (out of stock everywhere today) I’m jumping between cabin fever and amusement.

    1. Heck. Locally, they are even out of flour! Who knew there were that many baker’s out there? I don’t have that much flour. But I have plenty of bread …

      1. Before the last truckload came in (Tuesday evening) there was almost no flower left on the shelve, and no regular sugar. The store brands were re-supplied fairly well, but precious little big name brand stuff arrived. Yeast is gone, and did NOT come in. I am guessing the next truckload will have some. What TP that arrived (not much) was gone a couple hours (if that) after the store opened.

        1. Yea– not good … I contacted Prime now to find out why I couldn’t get anything. They told me that they were delivering and sorry. Does me no good because they are NOt delivering.

  21. On the topic of quarantine reading, when I purchased The Last Centurion (Prince Roger is on hold; I like TLC right now), the ‘zon flashed a heads up on another RAH posthumous novel: The Pursuit of the Pankera

    Anybody know much about this? I haven’t read any posthumous Heinlein work since Grumbles & Requiem. The snippet is interesting, maybe.

    1. Oh dear. I hope it’s not another Spider Robinson thing. Or worse, Scalzi.


      1. David Weber, this time. According to the blurb, it was a parallel novel done alongside TNotB. Never published (I assume not entirely finished), largely forgotten, but the pieces turned up, and Weber put it together.

        Due out March 24, Kindle price $9.99. That’s the top of my ebook range, but if it’s not I Will Fear No Evil, it might be worth it. Playing with anagrams, there’s an extra ‘e’ to make “A Prank”

      2. From what I’ve heard, it has the same start as “Number of the Beast” then takes off in a different direction about ten percent in, and has a more traditional Heinlein style. It’s not available yet.

        1. Apparently, much of it was found in archives so it wasn’t like the Robinson thing.

          Oh, I pre-ordered just because of the David Weber foreword.

          IE If David Weber wrote a foreword for it, then it might be worth reading.

          Of course, I preordered also because of a lower price (when I preordered) than when it will be released.

          1. My experience with Weber is slender, just what I’ve read of the first 40% of March Upcountry. I see he’s highly regarded here, so odds are good it’ll be good. Besides, Heinlein on his off days still was better than the grey goo out there. I *tried* to read “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”, and couldn’t finish it. The monitor and desktop are too heavy to wall, but I thought about it. I’d rather read I Will Fear No Evil. Maybe.

            I preordered the Kindle version, and I see that the same outfit now is doing a Kindle version of TNotB. My trade paperback version tries to lose pages when I open it, so that got bought, too. Both are available 3/24.

            1. If you’re more into fantasy, try “The War God’s Own.”

              You probably won’t have a crush on the main character, but my mom and I both do. Very knight-in-rusty-cranky-pants.

              1. A very loud voice is heard (across the dimensional divide) “I am a Champion of Tomanak Not A Knight! Himself asked me to be His Champion Not A Knight!”. 😆

              2. Fantasy was a more recent diversion, spurred by efforts of Sad Puppies members as well as some of the Mad Genius Club. Will check it out. Thanks!

              1. Snagged and Kindled. Thanks!

                Sure am catching up on my reading. Really should do some administrivia, but no checks to write until I get into town.

            2. I guess I have fairly high regard for him.

              I’m still reading Honorverse books after they come out.

              I’ve found lately that I have a lack of desire to reread a bunch of the old Baen books that I really enjoyed back in the day, and originally liked rereading well enough. Been going on for years, and definitely seems to be depression adjacent if not depression. Bunch of newer books from a favorite, Kratman, which I haven’t felt emotionally robust and safe enough to read yet.

              I think Weber has really neat trick going on with the Bahzell/Kenhoden books, and I’m looking forward to seeing it play out.

              1. Kratman’s kind of intense for light reading. Wait until the stormtroopers start to march and binge to get your ‘tude on.

                1. I’ve been reading Kurt Schlichter’s People’s Republic series. His hero does remind me of Al Cap’s Fearless Fodstick, in that there are seldom any encounters with black hats that doesn’t involve a high body count (and this reputation among the other characters is a bit of a running joke). More thriller than Mil-SF, but from my limited exposure to Kratman’s fiction, Schlichter has a somewhat lighter touch. (Varsity football sack vs Caterpillar D-10). FWIW, I’ve found all the series to be worth reading.

            1. I sold a programming book back in the ’80s. I’d enter it into a contest for “worst cover ever.” As in, I’d show someone one of my author copies, and they’d actually take a step back. It looked like a 6-year-old’s attempt at Doctor Who art. I’m sure it repelled more sales than it made…

  22. Forgive me for skipping a bunch of comments because it’s my bedtime (tonight at least), but cut a notch. My wife implored and entreated and persuaded my mother’s doctor to do a house call due to my mother’s infirm condition and the virus crisis. Yes, a house call; the last time I saw a doctor do a house call I was five or six.

      1. Vague recollection of house calls in the late 1950s, probably for me. I had tonsil problems until they came out when I was 7ish.

  23. Pingback: AND AFTER CAME THE GUILLOTINE. MADAME GUILLOTINE WAS GETTING HUNGRY:  Same Panic, Different Century… – The usa report

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