Observations from a Circle of Rhode Island


A local errand that became a statewide journey thanks to our government’s response to COVID-19 led me to three observations, yesterday:

  1. Judged by traffic and parking, it isn’t summer in Newport.  It’s an unusually warm January.
  2. Toll gantries are now everywhere — scarring the landscape, looming, awaiting the flip of a switch that will start the flow of money from your bank account into the state’s poorly managed coffers.
  3. Every third piece of litter along the highway is a mask.

We’ve all heard the scary anecdotes from the small minority of people infected with COVID-19 who got the worst of it, and we’ve all been conditioned to feel a shiver of fear when more than 0.0001 of the state’s population tests positive on a given day.  Still, in a year from now, these observations that nobody has been mentioning may prove to have been more consequential.

A year ago, models predicting a different climate a century from now were treated as harbingers of an existential threat.  Yet, nobody seems concerned that we’ve turned summer into winter on America’s Cup Ave.

  • Joe Smith

    Try to get reservations down in Newport — recently been both weekday and weekend – still booked solid (granted if that means at 75% capacity). Prices sure haven’t come down..

    Masks – that speaks to the actions of people (although it would seem to me with the ACI and training school population needing fresh air why those aren’t daily practices for litter removal on highways).

    Tolls – no disagreement there..

    • Justin Katz

      Reservations are one measure, for one industry, but readily available parking in the heart of the city tells a different story.

      • ShannonEntropy

        I wouldn’t exactly call it “January”-like in Newport a/k/a “A drinking town with a sailing problem” but it’s clearly less busy there than usual

        We usually avoid going in the summer but nowadays you can just walk into say 22 Bowen’s Wharf and sit right down

        Not just Newport, either… last night we popped into Twin Goats Oaks and got a table immediately. So there are *some* bennies to this scamdemic

        Also of note… about 10% of all the young women in Newport were actually of normal weight, so you know they’ve gotta be out-of-state tourists. (( It’s getting really depressing going to say The Gaspee Days Parade — cancelled this year — and every female there over the age of 14 or so looks like she’d come back from the beach with a sunburn and three harpoon wounds ))

      • Joe Smith

        Well we can trade anecdotal observations all day; it really depends on what your metrics for economic activity are. Sales tax receipts? Gross revenue?

        Less visitors spending more might be preferable to more visitors spending less. I can only share what anecdotes I’ve encountered – parking has been a bit easier if you define it as some of the cheap meter spots along Thames or along the wharfs. But I have personal connections that allow me to use private parking so I’m only noticing that walking along those areas.

        Friends of my kids who are servers have told me they are making a killing, but maybe it’s because people are drinking more or tipping better as the turnover is longer. I noticed that as well at about the 6 or so restaurants I’ve been at compared to prior year experiences (slower time to get meals).

        But I guess what’s the point — ease all the restrictions and they will come? Where are the mass protests in Cranston-15 to support Mrs. Fung — you’d think if the GOP had any juice they’d get hundreds of people around there and pour their money into that race — want change get Nicky nervous. Worked for the car tax reduction..

        • Justin Katz

          Your response gets us to an important point. Simply observing something and saying it’s consequential is not tantamount to saying, “Everything should go back to complete normal at this moment.” I think people are withholding their observations, and the news media are controlling their stories, so as not to seem like they’re minimizing the epidemic. That seems like a major blindspot, to me.

  • Lou

    Very inspirational, Justin. Welcome to Trump Nation.

    • ShannonEntropy

      Yer right… we need Kamal-face Harris to get in there and fix everything up. Right after she gets done with reparations and letting BLM burn the rest of our cities down

      • Lou

        Since you bring up VP’s, I figure you’re more of the mindset of the current one with such “fact-based” beliefs such as:

        Pence wrote an op-ed in which he said “smoking doesn’t kill.”

        Money funding research for HIV/AIDS should be moved to fund conversion therapy

        He declared same-sex marriage would bring about a “societal collapse”

        How and when federal funds for abortions could be used, which typically applied in cases of rape or incest. Pence wanted to change the term, “rape” to “forcible rape”

        I’m looking forward to their debate, are you?

        • ShannonEntropy

          Yeah, DEF !!

          But the Trump – Biden Debate would be even better

          I say “would be” cuz the “Hidin’ Biden” Strategy means Joe will use some flimsy and totally irrelevant excuse to refuse to debate lest the entire country become aware of the obvious fact that he can barely string two sentences together reading off a teleprompter. You heard it here first, folks !!

          • Lou

            What happened to your ill-advised foray into the VP realm?

            “Earlier this summer, Donald Trump’s campaign floated complaints about the timing of the three presidential debates. Now his campaign is floating the possibility that maybe he won’t show up for them at all.”


            Funny how things change when you are desperate.

          • ShannonEntropy

            There’s no need to talk about Joe as POTUS cuz he won’t serve his full first year in office, which is why I brought up Kamal-face

            But Joe not debating ?? That’s already being baked into the MSM’s narrative about why the debates should be cancelled:


          • Lou

            Maybe so, but hanging your hope on Trump’s debating skills highlights your desperation. Highlights from YOUR article:

            “Lockhart said Trump shouldn’t be given another platform which will enable him to “repeat lies,” …because he just kept repeating the same old lies: ‘we’re going to build a wall and Mexico is going to pay for it,’ ‘we’re going to keep all those Mexican rapists out of the country,’ and ‘we’re going to make great trade deals’ –none of these things have come to pass.””

            “Giving him that national forum to continue to spout — get him to 21,000 or 22,000 lies — I think just isn’t worth it for the Democrats or for Biden,”

            That’s quite a record to run on. Providing one less platform for him to continue to lie is called strategy. It something you can use when you’re ahead.