Report from Louisiana: Wuhan Diary

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – As an avid and constant reader, I decided to do the Reading Challenge on Goodreads again this year; last year I set the lofty goal of 100 books and missed the mark with 63 out of 100 books.

This year, because of the pandemic, probably, I did better. I set a lower goal of 75 books and so far I’ve read 82. I’ll probably be at 83 by the end of the year.

Currently I am reading Wuhan Diary by Fang Fang, which is the collected dispatches, or posts, from the renown Chinese author during the 76 days of the Wuhan lockdown. While most of us are tired of Covid, tired of reading about Covid, and tired of all things Covid, I am enjoying the book.

To me, it is interesting to see what it was like in Wuhan in the days after the pandemic broke. Fang Fang’s frustration with the situation is evident and she is well aware that the government censors are reading and taking down her posts. Her readers would screenshot the posts and share them via text message to each other, and in many ways she became the voice of the pandemic in Wuhan as people in lockdown were starved for information that was not filtered for them.

Her frustration with the initial position that the virus is not contagious from person to person is clear. She does not mince words, despite the censors. As the lockdown in Wuhan drags on, it has been interesting to read how neighbors worked together to supply each other with fresh food, medicines, and supplies.

The book also shows that we are not all that different; Fang Fang loses many friends and colleagues to the virus; she deals with the same problems we all have: shortages, misinformation, isolation.  She worries a great deal about the mental health issues that result from the lockdown and she worries about the marginalized who cannot get medical treatment, especially in the earlier days before the temporary hospitals were constructed.

She also has very relatable problems, like running out of dog food. (She cooked rice for her dog when this happened.)

Sometimes she even challenges the censors. She wants to be seen as a witness, not necessarily a critic. As a result, her voice is honest, and heartbreakingly real.

I’m not finished with the book yet, but I do recommend it. Somehow it seems fitting to end this year of the pandemic with Wuhan Diary.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

Expectations Revisited Patriots Sans Brady:

In Yesterday’s post I measured, with one game left in the NFL season Brady vs the expectations game to this point, now let’s look at the Patriots:

As I wrote at the time the Patriots pre-Brady:

  • Had a winning record 55% of the time
  • won 11 or more game (10 in a 14 game season) 14.6% of the time
  • won their division 12% of the time
  • made the playoffs 24% of the time
  • won a playoff game 9.7% of the time
  • went to a championship game 7% of the time winning 0%

While the Patriots with Brady:

  • Had a winning record 100% of the time
  • The Patriots won at least 12 games 70% of the time
  • The Patriots won their division & made the playoffs 90% of the time
  • The Patriots won at LEAST one playoff game 70% of the time
  • The Patriots went to the Superbowl 50% of the time
  • The Patriots WON the superbowl 30% of the time (67% of the times they went)

Given those facts combined with the fact that the worst season of the Brady Era was a 9-7 record I set the bottom of the expectations barrel for an OK season being 9-7 a winning record,

However as many people argued for years that Brady’s success was due to Bill Belichck now considered by many the best coach of all time. Many of the anti-Brady crowd gave him a lot of credit for that success so I adjusted these expectations up two games to 11-5 figuring if a good coach can make a one game difference the greatest coach of all time should at least be able to manage to put an extra win or two out of his hat. After all the were only 3 Brady years that they failed to win at least 11.

Instead the Patriots go into this weekend not only eliminated from the playoffs for the 1st time since Brady’s injury kept him out for a season but fighting for the chance, the chance mind you to finish .500 for the season.

This makes the Bill Belichick Era going into today’s game a 24-34 as the coach of the New England Patriots in games not started by Tom Brady and in the three seasons that he coached the team sans Brady he made the playoffs….nearly once.

My expectations scale was “fire the bum” if he failed to win at least 11 but given the Covid situation that while effecting all teams hit his team hard I’d give him another season’s leeway, particularly if he can manage to make .500. If not I think we can safely say that the question of Bill vs Tom in terms of credit has been answered conclusively.

Closing thought #1: It’s worth noting that New England not only missed the playoffs but did so in a year with an extra playoff spot while going into their final three games holding the tiebreakers against all the teams ahead of them..

Closing Thought #2 The biggest difference has been the expectations game. During the Brady era the expectations of the sports fans and sports radio in Boston was “Patriots Win” except for that playoff game in KC (That Brady Still won) Does anyone really think that this team wouldn’t have at least 10 wins and be heading at worst to a wild card game if they had Brady under center this year?

Closing thought #3: For all this critique let’s remember that with a good starting QB with a long term contract in hand Belichick with that 199th pick still saw what every other GM in the league, including those without a good QB signed long term, didn’t.