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Coronavirus dreams

I had a dream last night that I was at a conference, then I was going to the basement of the conference building to the supermarket, then I was at my mother’s house and she told me I needed more ingredients for dinner, so I went back to the basement, but the stairs didn’t go all the way down, so I had to kind of shimmy down the wall, then when I was down there with a supermarket cart I overheard some old guy, a supermarket employee, talking about how much he hated his boss and he was only there because his boss was paying him extra for overtime cos it was Christmas, then the old guy and an old woman were having a big scene where maybe they were gonna get together again and they eventually decide to do so even though they know it could never really work out, then to get down from that wall I’m balancing atop a ladder that’s gradually opening up, then I’m outside in a plaza and that man and woman are doing the same thing but they’re acting in some sort of public play and lots of people are watching, and then other actors come out and everyone’s applauding. I remember thinking about the play that the actors were fine—I wasn’t sure if they were doing it for free or as part of a paid performance—but that one thing that wasn’t so convincing was that they were in their 60s or 70s but the woman had a little baby. But then it turned out that she was actually a young actress, some movie star, and she removed her old lady makeup to the acclaim of the crowd. Then I’m walking away from the plaza down the street—this is some unnamed U.S. city—and then I’m back in that building I’m going up stairs or maybe I get off the elevator and there’s some shelf, kind of an indoor ledge that’s really important, I think it has some sort of keyboard and screen with interesting information, but you can’t stand on the ledge, you can only hang on to it by your fingertips, and as I’m trying to do so—I have to be careful because if I slip there’s an infinite drop below and I’ll just die, so I’m kind of hooking my leg around the wall on the right side of the platform so I don’t fall—a Japanese guy comes up the stairs, effortlessly grabs onto the platform and is holding on with his fingertips and as an aside says to me, Andrew Golemann—or something like that, I don’t remember exactly, but I do remember it was some misspelling and mispronunciation of my name—they have your name wrong on all but one place on wikipedia, and I replied, no, my name is actually Gelman and he said he’d go fix that page and I asked him to support my back so that I didn’t fall off the ledge, and I guess I didn’t fall off, because the next thing I remember is that I was looking at some sort of online conference schedule, and then I was talking on the phone to Jeff Lax saying that I was surprised not to see him at this conference (I knew it was a political science conference because it had events such as “8:20-9:20 International Relations Book Sale”) and I was telling Jeff how I’d been in California and visited the University of California and seen Jas, and Jeff said, Jas?, and I said, Jasjeet Sekhon, and Jeff said but he’s in Seattle and I said yeah but he was visiting California that day and we had lunch or maybe it was dinner and Jeff said where did you have dinner which seemed kinda weird like why would you care and anyway Jeff was saying he couldn’t go because it conflicts with his teaching and then I looked carefully at the schedule, it was only one day long and anyway I had to teach Tuesday morning (that makes sense, the conf was on Monday because all that other stuff had happened over the weekend in the dream; there had been a flight along the way) and I said I hope he had a flight and Jeff said the flight could be expensive and maybe the university travel agent could help—actually I don’t think there is a university travel agent—so I said I’d call the airline and check, because that resolved things last time I was uncertain if I had a flight already scheduled, and around then I woke up, I’m not sure why as it was still 20 minutes before my alarm was scheduled to go off

I recently read 10th Grade by Joe Weisberg so I guess that influenced my style of writing, sorry but there you have it. Joe Weisberg is great and it’s too bad he probably won’t be writing any more novels cos I like both his novels a lot and I mean sure nobody writes novels anymore and I liked The Americans a lot and I’m sure Joe will do some more great TV but still.

You can draw lots of conclusions from the above dream including that nothing in it was very scary except for that bit about needing to hang by my fingertips, but what I noticed upon waking up was that in my dream I’d been at a conference! I don’t go to conferences anymore. Yesterday I spoke in France but it was remote, I wasn’t actually in France and indeed I was told that many people in the audience didn’t even speak French. There was no coronavirus in my dream. And then I realized that I’ve not yet had any dreams with coronavirus in them, or at least I don’t remember.

But I suppose that some of you have had coronavirus dreams?


  1. I had a pretty strange coronavirus dream. In my dream we’re in the US but it’s not the real US, it’s run by a bumbling fool who probably doesn’t even really know what a virus is, who got elected because he was a reality TV star who was famous for being like a caricature of a mean heartless person. He keeps telling us that it’s no big deal, viruses don’t really matter, but secretly he’s horribly germophobic.

    In my dream there’s a CDC but it’s not the real CDC it’s this organization that can’t even make a test for the virus, can’t even decide whether people should even get tests. It keeps flip flopping between stupid recommendations and then walking them back.

    Even though we’re the wealthiest nation in the world whose proud of our market based economy, 6 months into the pandemic we don’t have basic equipment like N95 respirators. What’s more we have a big cabal of the largest retailers actually conspiring to keep N95 respirators off the market in an explicit price-fixing scheme to prevent “price gouging” because all anyone cares about is appearances.

    So we just all keep waiting around for someone to do something smart. Those of us who try to do something smart are told that of course we can’t do that because that’d be illegal or it’s too risky to try stuff that people haven’t done before.

    So we just keep waiting. The dream just keeps going on and on, and we’re all just saying “Gee I hope I can wake up from this thing soon”.

    • In my dream, about the only thing the US knows how to do is to print money. And they print money and just throw it at people. But it turns out the large corporations have entire “money catching” departments and they swoop in and just gobble up this money. None of it really matters though, because money by itself doesn’t really cure any diseases, so everyone gets sick, and the enormous corporations go bankrupt anyway.

      • Andrew says:


        Yes, I found the whole “print money” thing to be so frustrating. I feel like the policymaking establishment has fallen into a kind of “reduced form” fallacy in which all that matters is the balance sheet, so there’s this idea of “stimulus” as if it doesn’t matter how the stimulus is done because money is liquid. I’m not saying that all policymakers think this way, but it does seem to me that a lot of writing in economic journalism seems to take this attitude.

        • Martha (Smith) says:

          Andrew said,
          “I feel like the policymaking establishment has fallen into a kind of “reduced form” fallacy in which all that matters is the balance sheet, so there’s this idea of “stimulus” as if it doesn’t matter how the stimulus is done because money is liquid.”

          This sounds like they are products of “teach to the test” education.

        • somebody says:

          According to the books, I do something to move the interest rate up or down, and that makes “the economy” go up and down.

      • Joshua says:

        Daniel –

        That’s weird. I had the EXACT same dream.

      • jim says:

        “the only thing the US knows how to do is to print money.”

        I beg to differ!

        We have an amazingly successful economy, thanks to leading thinkers in major west coast cities! Why anyone can have a free camping spot anywhere in LA, Seattle, San Francisco, Boise, San Diego, Portland, or any number of the other highly livable cities on the west coast!

        Thankfully we’re making the economy more equal by restricting all kinds of economic development. We’re going to protect a billion dollars worth of annual salmon harvest in Alaska to forgo $500B in Cu, Zn, Au, Ag and other metals. This should help keep housing prices high so we can offer more free camping!

        There’s even more great news: we can help Canadians afford their nationalized health care by restricting logging here and importing all our wood products from Canada! Let’s preserve the Tongass National Forest so the seven people in the world who own their own personal V22 Osprey can fly up a few times a year for a jaunt in the wilderness!

        And now we’re offering free parking lots too, so the wealthy car owners who drive for Uber have a place to sleep! Yes, gig economy – economic freedom! Thanks, San Francisco, for bring us this amazing innovation! Who knew that by screwing people out of legal wages you could make millions? Wow, amazing innovations!

        Yes Daniel, the leading west coast thinkers *are* moving us forward in our economy! We *do* know how to make policy! You can see the effects around you every day! Just head to the nearest Tech magnate garbage dump and pick up your once-used tent, then hit the streets!

        • confused says:

          Eh, national forests are important even if tourists don’t visit them. That’s not actually their main purpose, and most aren’t really “developed” for that in the way most national parks are. (The original point of the national forest system was to prevent the *destruction* of forests by total clear-cutting that was happening over so much of the US at that time. National forests *do* allow logging and some other economic uses, but in a controlled manner.)

          Anyway, forests have a ton of ecological benefits and can be important to the carbon cycle, water cycle, etc.

          Also… places like CA probably have unsustainable cost of living, but that isn’t really representative of the rest of the US. I frankly can’t see why anyone would choose to live there (not just cost, but traffic, worst air pollution in the US by a huge margin, and wildfires) but with close to 40 million people, *some* of them presumably actually want to be there!

          • jim says:

            I guess the point is that to fire up the economy, the Fed doesn’t have much choice but to print money, and even that will have limited impact since so many economic activities have been severely restricted to benefit a very small number of people.

            “national forests are important even if tourists don’t visit them. ”

            The point isn’t about tourists. The point is about whether resources are used to benefit the majority of the citizens who own them or a very small number of people, be they wealthy tourists or environmentalists. Environmentalists would cry that Big Logging would be the main beneficiary of logging in any national forest. But Big Logging would have to pay for the concession, pay tax on its profits, pay workers to do the work (who would also pay taxes), buy equipment and buy supplies to do the work.

            “CA probably have unsustainable cost of living, but that isn’t really representative of the rest of the US”

            CA is 10% of the US population and 15% of it’s GDP, so it’s pretty representative of the US! LA is #2 in metro GDP, SF #4, Seattle #11. I’d guess about 18% of US GDP is within 100 miles of western salt water.

            • confused says:

              But the continued existence of forests benefits everybody who lives on Earth, whether they ever go near them or not.

              It’s not about whether logging is good or bad — obviously forest products are necessary for tons of stuff. It’s about whether it is done in a way that reduces the net amount and quality of forest.

              And yeah, CA is a bit over 10% of the US population, but that doesn’t make it representative of the other 90%. Texas is also large and high-GDP, and also has its own distinct culture. It’s also not representative of the US as a whole – even though it’s a lot better place to live than CA… not that I’m biased ;)

              • somebody says:

                I take your point that some kind of restriction on logging is necessary because of the obvious negative externality problem. The question of whether or not that’s well calibrated in the status quo, or if the US needs more forests or less forests is beyond me, though I’d point out that restricting logging here means more logging in the shrinking amazon, so the actual environmental consequences are not so clear.

                But jim’s point isn’t the specific example, but more that any stimulus except the fed printing fresh cash and buying assets isn’t even under discussion. Not that we necessarily should do more logging, but that neither logging deregulation nor any kind of deregulation are even talked about.

                Want to remove pointless FDA regulations on clearly high quality covid tests? No. Okay, fine, I disagree but whatever. Then surely we can dispatch some good old-fashioned government spending, employing people while ramping up production of the tests you do like? No. Not that either. Just more cash to banks and corporation that tuck it away in a war chest and sit on it. The entire field of economic management reduced to increasing or decreasing a single variable. It’s been almost a decade since I even heard a Republican utter the word “regulation.”

              • Anoneuoid says:

                Looks to me like we’re headed for a firesale on urban real estate, which will be bought up with all that printed money. Then the covid restrictions and protests will be ended and there will be a reason to live/work in cities again.

            • Phil says:

              I think you’re confusing National Forests with National Parks, or maybe with National Wilderness. National Forests are “managed for many purposes—timber, recreation, grazing, wildlife, fish and more.” Indeed I have sometimes suggested the term “National Forest” should be changed to “National Tree Farm and Hunting Area” to more accurately reflect the way they are managed. Given your desires as expressed above, I think the main thing you’d object to about the National Forests is that they are supposed to be managed sustainably, i.e. 50 years from now the portfolio of vegetation types and land uses should be about the same as it is now: they aren’t supposed to clearcut all of it at once, for example. It sounds like you strongly disagree with that policy, and ‘somebody’ also thinks there should be consideration of relaxing it…maybe prioritize near-term extraction at the expense of future use. Certainly the argument can be made, although I doubt you’d get me to agree that it’s a good idea.

              Anyway, the National Forests are managed largely for resource extraction. I think what you (jim) are really opposed to is National Wilderness. This is less than 5% of the land area of the U.S. but there are lots and lots of people, you among them evidently, who resent having any percentage whatsoever permanently set aside from development. Evidently some people believe that if we just got rid of the restrictions on resource extraction in wilderness areas, there wouldn’t be any homeless people in the U.S. What can I say, people believe all kinds of things.

              As for ‘confused’ commenting that “I frankly can’t see why anyone would choose to live there (not just cost, but traffic, worst air pollution in the US by a huge margin, and wildfires) but with close to 40 million people, *some* of them presumably actually want to be there!”…I could imagine this sort of comment coming from someone from one of those itty bitty northeastern states, but it’s an odd comment from someone from Texas! California is not just extremely large but extremely varied. Some random website that might or might not have its facts straight says “California is the size of the Netherlands, Belgium, Slovenia, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg, Kosovo and Czech Republic combined.” I haven’t checked whether that is true but it’s gotta be in the right ballpark, I know California is about 50% larger than Italy. (And Switzerland, Slovenia, Kosovo and Luxembourg are each pretty small). California has some areas with terrible traffic and some areas with nearly none. It has deserts and forests, mountains and beaches, vast agricultural areas and teeming cities…you get the idea. I can understand someone saying “I can’t see why anyone would want to live in LA”, or “in San Francisco”, or “in Palm Springs”, or “in Grass Valley”, or “in Mendocino”, or “in Santa Cruz”, or “in Truckee”, or any other single place or even big list of places. But to say you “can’t see why anyone would choose to live in California”, that is kind of like saying “I can’t see why anyone would choose to live in Netherlands or Belgium or Slovenia or Switzerland or Austria or Luxembourg or Kosovo or the Czech Republic.”

  2. My favorite part was when the actress removed her old lady makeup to the acclaim of the crowd. That, and the Wikipedia part, and the part about the university travel agent.

  3. Peter Dorman says:

    The bit about the ledge reminded me strongly of a dream that helped change my life. I was in first year grad school (economics) and found myself getting into lots of arguments with other students. I kept thinking they were just wrong about lots of things, and I had to set them straight. It was miserable; I was seriously thinking about dropping out.

    But I was in a dream group, where we recorded our dreams and met each week to explore them together. It was theoretically agnostic, and we were encouraged to be concrete and not analyze our dreams according to any a priori schema. Anyway:

    In my dream I’m in a battle, a real one with bullets flying. I’m inching my way forward along a mountain ledge, trying to get to a corner where I can get a position to shoot at the enemy. The sound is deafening, with continuous explosions of artillery and bullets pinging off the rock nearby. As I go forward the ledge becomes narrower and narrower. Finally it is clear I can go no further; there’s not enough room. The words flash before me like subtitles in a movie: “no ledge to stand on”. Then in a complete shift I’m lying in the grass outside the battlements of a castle, enjoying a picnic. The air is peaceful and the sun is shining. I’m filled with happiness. And then I wake up.

    It was obvious; I didn’t have to wait for the dream group: “no ledge” was a nice pun on “knowledge”, and I was being shown that, rather than trying to fight an unwinnable war I could just opt out of it. Which I did, to my benefit and probably everyone else’s.

    One thing I noticed about my dreams is that they often contained puns, and some were downright funny. Most of them were not about advice, however.

  4. Ben says:

    > I have to be careful because if I slip there’s an infinite drop below and I’ll just die

    An infinite drop doesn’t have a landing, so if it was the impact you were scared, no worries! This probably says something about physics in your universe that you can have infinite falls.

  5. Anoneuoid says:

    And here you go:

    To our knowledge, this is the first study to analyze the levels of vitamin C in patients with SARS-CoV-2-associated ARDS. Our study revealed that vitamin C levels are undetectable in more than 90% of the patients included.

  6. Pelkabo says:

    One thing I’ve learned after many years of marriage is that there is nothing as boring as another person’s dreams. This has taught me not to take my own dreams too seriously. No matter how interesting they may seem to me, they’re ultimately inconsequential, and best forgotten.

  7. So, last night I had what might qualify vaguely as a coronavirus dream. I dreamt that I was taking one of Andrew’s courses, probably an intro stats course. It was hybrid; some people were attending in person, while others took part online, through video streaming. I was in the latter group–but, as often happens in dreams, I had only just realized that I was taking this course, and I hadn’t read the course book, though it lay on my desk. Moreover, I was taking the course from Hungary, where I live, so the time on my end was six hours later than the official class time. Andrew asked us to fill out an anonymous survey indicating whether we intended to take the final exam at the scheduled time or at another time. I chose the second option, since (a) I hadn’t read the course material yet and (b) I was thinking of the time difference. Andrew saw the results and looked directly into the camera and said, “Oh, no, you didn’t choose the alternate time, did you?” and I thought he had realized that it was me. I felt kind of guilty and considered taking the exam at the scheduled time. I glanced at the thick textbook on my desk and thought, “I had better start reading this right now.”

  8. Mike B says:

    apparently a common phenomenon
    “The strange and vivid dreams of COVID-19
    Uncertainty, anxiety and a lengthier night’s sleep are contributing to an increase in bizarre dreams during the pandemic.”

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