There’s no mandate to mask up everywhere that people are within two meters of each other, and triply so when indoors.
No. Instead vaccine and mask mandates are being ditched everywhere by everyone all together. As if there’s some kind of global airborne miasma that destroys the neurons needed to understand anything. As for building ventilation, that never became important enough to mandate so there’s nothing in progress that could be ditched.
Accurate testing of prevalence and genotypes has gone right out. We’re supposed to do our own risk assessments and carry the entire load of infectious disease prevention individually (even though this is a social issue of transmission from person to person). But the tools to understand the risk are removed.
Note: none of those things are life-changing lockdowns. They’re just public health measures that improve our chances if we have to live with this particular virus. Instead of dying with it.
And also note, I’m not arguing any of this because I’m concerned only about vulnerable people. This affects everybody, including us immortals who’ve come through the last two years with minimal losses.
I’m boggled that we can stampede into spreading disease far and wide when we know so little about it.
One thing we do know is that the more sick humans there are to incubate new variants, the more variants we’ll have. The more variants, the more reinfections and the more new and worse forms of the disease. (Until a universal vaccine exists and is mandated for everyone not medically exempt.)
We have no idea, yet, of the long term burden of downstream disease. We’ve only had two years. There’s no way to know the number of excess dementias, heart attacks, strokes, and sudden diabetes ten years from now or twenty years from now. We don’t know whether the chance of long covid goes up with each reinfection. Now that we’ve decided to have millions of human petri dishes, instead of as few as possible, it’s guaranteed that new variants will make reinfections happen.
We’ve taken on a thousand unknown risks of mass disabling events because, the hell with it, masks are icky.
In the high and far off times, people figured out that cholera and typhoid are spread by open sewers. If they had thought then like we apparently do now they would have said, “Ahh, screw it. Closed sewers cost too much. We’ll just live with it.”
By which, of course, they mean they hope they will live. And somebody else does the dying.
Forgive me. I don’t know how to be grateful for baby steps. I’m not sure you can even call it a step of any kind. More like a bit of flag-waving. Like the anti-lynching bill the US Congress finally managed to pass after 200 years (or whatever it was). A microdrop. So little, so late. A microdrop in a giant vat.
A day is, to me, just an insult. It’s not even a day without rape.
A millenium would be a beginning, after the mess left by the last couple of dozen of them.
From Nick Kristof: People think there are more females than males in the world, but there are actually more males—because of lethal discrimination in access to food and health care, plus sex-selective abortion. Asia alone has about 100 million “missing” females.
More girls were killed in the last 50 years, precisely because they were girls, than men killed in all the wars of the 20th century. More girls are killed in this routine gendercide [femicide!] in any one decade than people were slaughtered in all the genocides of the 20th century. Nicholas Kristof. Half the Sky.
Actually, just one thought. There’s so much talk about how Ukraine has its own language and culture and history and therefore “deserves” to be independent.
To me, this is bollocks.
I speak English and live in an English-speaking country but we’re not part of Britain.
The culture where I am is next to indistinguishable from our nearest neighbor. We were even, for a while, going to be one country with that neighbor. But we’re not, and nobody here or there feels an overwhelming urge to charge in and reunite the two by force.
The point is: you don’t need a distinct language or culture to be a separate nation. You just need a group with a desire for self-determination. Ideally, it’s a big enough group to be an economically viable entity, but that’s a practical side issue. The main point, the principle of the thing, is that a group of people who want to be independent have the same right, and to the same extent, as any other to self-determination.
Ukraine needs no other justification. It’s not something you “deserve.” It’s something you are.
Unavailable to the Mortal Man @EdwinDroom Dec 29, 2021
Nope, you’re misunderstanding the difference between the categories existing, and them being recognised and given a name. Hydrogen and Helium really exist as separate elements, and did within a very short time of the Big Bang. They didn’t have those names, sure.
Mary @xmarylawrence Dec 29, 2021
Nope, those categories don’t exist separate from humans categorizing them.
Unavailable to the Mortal Man @EdwinDroom Dec 29, 2021
Nope. Hydrogen really exists. So does helium. They existed with all their properties long before life, let alone humans, evolved. This isn’t a debate, Mary. You’re simply wrong.
Gem @_____Gem Dec 29, 2021
It is AMAZING what people are prepared to argue in the service of gender ideology.
Mary @xmarylawrence Dec 29, 2021
Yeah how dare people recognize what a social construct is
The Iron Labia @TheIronLabia Dec 29, 2021
Hydrogen isn’t a social construct.
Mary @xmarylawrence Dec 29, 2021 Oh I’m sorry, when we discovered hydrogen was it wearing a name tag? Did it introduced itself [by] name? [emphasis added]
Unavailable to the Mortal Man @EdwinDroom Dec 29, 2021
Something existing and having clear, distinctive properties and something having a name are not the same thing, Mary. How are you still struggling with this?
Mary @xmarylawrence Dec 29, 2021
But you’re avoiding the whole entire point. How was helium classifying itself prior to humans doing it? Did it have a name prior to our existence? Did it have noble-gas parties were they all got together and shot the shit?
Unavailable to the Mortal Man @EdwinDroom Dec 29, 2021
That’s not the whole entire point, Mary. Either you know this, and it’s pointless continuing, or you’re so far from knowing it … it’s pointless continuing.
This exchange is like finding out that babies don’t have object permanence. When Mother hides behind a cupboard, she’s gone.
Mary apparently can’t imagine a situation where anything has objective existence outside of its name. To her, the naming of a thing really is “the entire point.” (She’s right, of course, that names don’t exist outside of human constructs. But, really?, she thinks the name is the same as the thing in itself? Mother disappears when she has no name?)
How could she possibly have avoided noticing that facts are those things that continue existing whether you believe them or not? I mean, in my world, even when I believe everything in the laundry bins is clean, it stays whiffy. But in her world, presto!, she never has to do laundry?
It’s a way of thinking with no relation to reality. But, as I think about it, there’s nothing unusual about that. Humanity has spent most of its millenia believing bizarre legends. So just because in the last few hundred years we’ve found a much more effective method based on paying attention to facts, that doesn’t mean the fantasists will necessarily come to their senses.
I’m tired. I can’t even work up interest in the back and forth going on now among the Supremes.
Sotomayor doing her best by reminding her colleagues they have a personal stake in not looking like pawns. Hollow laughter. Ki-i-i-i-d, I want to say, if any of them cared whether they look like fools, they would have stopped acting like clowns years ago.
And then all the yammering about viability. Of the fetus, of course. ZOMG if anyone else’s rights are at stake, anyone’s at all, ever, anywhere, so long as they might be male, anyone!, then of course the incubator has to do its job. Maybe if women had an actual price on their heads, somebody would notice that the property depreciates from the huge marathon of pregnancy and delivery?
So, forgive me while I shout.
Women are human beings who have the right to control their own bodies.
Well, maybe not all, but look at the state of reporting now. From Jennifer Rubin, one of the best, quoting another one:
Journalism professor and media critic Jay Rosen observes that “the incremental coverage, the focus on the inside game, the notion of tactics and strategy, and the joining up of the political class with the information junkies” does little to inform voters about major pieces of legislation. We get nonstop coverage of the “sausage making” but little about the content of bills that cost trillions.
And I just keep flashing back to teaching basic biology to all kinds of pre-med hopefuls way back in the Stone Ages. We’d joke about how the students who did not remotely have what it takes should “go into journalism.” (Not in front of the students, it should go without saying. Just when us teaching assistants were trying to preserve sanity after grading endless bafflegab lab reports.)
I’d be willing to bet they made the same jokes in history departments. And performing arts. And accounting.
Because, really, from the outside, journalism (subsequently “Communications”) looked like the one field where you could get through on bullshit alone.
We were wrong, of course.
It’s obvious now that actual journalism takes analytical ability, perseverance, and a rare willingness to be disliked.
But the BS artists drifted to Communications, too many of them squeaked through, used their flimflam successfully in the job market and the promotion ladder, and here we are. Days of discussion about people’s suits (tan?, pants!, blue). Weeks of discussion whether A insulted B. Were there corn dogs or pizza? Was the pizza eaten correctly? Constant focus on elimination brackets, mostly in fantasy playoffs. Meanwhile, the fate of the humanity hinges on understanding the climate crisis and how juvenile fascism grows up.
It all shares one thing. (Two things, actually. One being easy clicks which is vital to for-profit “news.”) None of it requires any actual knowledge. You have your article/newscast/whatever ready to go after skimming TV or twitter feeds, and no need to sprain your brain. And we, by not having the heart to bounce these yoyos out of college entirely, enabled that mess.
Is it a prion disease? Have aliens orbited Make’EmStupid Satellites to keep us in our place? Why is this happening everywhere at once all over the world?
Fundamentalists in India gobble up Modi’s us-against-them bullshit and start torching mosques. They’re Hindu fundies, not Christian, but it doesn’t seem to help one bit. Duterte, Putin, Trump, LePen (although the French managed to avoid electing her), Taliban, Bolsonaro, Xi Jinping, the list goes on and on, everywhere. Reality disappears behind made-up stories people kill for. Or would like to kill for.
The top-of-mind recent example is antivaxxers. They invent metastasizing conspiracies in favor of a devastating disease to avoid the safest medical intervention there is. Covid vaccines are gobsmackingly safe. Safer than aspirin. Safer than burgers. Safer than lettuce, for all I know. I don’t think we collect statistics on lettuce. But if we did, I wouldn’t be surprised if vaccines turned out to be safer. Antivaxxers condemn people to die rather than admit that all — all! — of the evidence is against them.
There’s the anti-choice crowd. They’ve twisted “my body, my choice” into its opposite. Reproductive choice means women don’t die from botched abortions. Nor does it kill their neighbors. Antivaxxers are saying they can do whatever they want, no matter whether it kills you. It is the opposite. But words mean nothing now and nobody cares that “Don’t kill me” morphed into “Shut up while I kill you.”
Then there’s the whole melee about transwomen. (Transmen barely appear, which gives the game away. Misogyny 101.) Instead of escaping society’s invented gender boxes, that movement has decided sex doesn’t exist. Biological sex. The method for making babies, which leaves babies everywhere, which would kind of prove it exists. They’ve decided it doesn’t. It’d be news to Silurian fish that sex is vague. It’d be news to pine trees, if pine trees read the news. Evolution could barely happen without it. It’s a denial of reality on the order of flat earthers. (To be clear, you can believe what you like in your own world, where it doesn’t damage nonbelievers. Nobody else has to buy into your sense that it’s turtles all the way down.) But a bunch of trans rights activists (#NotAllTranswomen) have decided to believe in the transubstantiation of the flesh of men into the essence of women, and ruin and death to the heretics.
The biggest and most lethal group, though, is the deniers of the climate crisis. The chemistry that means carbon dioxide in the air traps heat has been known since the 1800s:
In a series of experiments conducted in 1856, Eunice Newton Foote — a scientist and women’s rights campaigner from Seneca Falls, New York — became the first person to discover that altering the proportion of carbon dioxide (then called “carbonic acid gas”) in the atmosphere would change its temperature. This relationship between carbon dioxide and the earth’s climate has since become one of the key principles of modern meteorology, the greenhouse effect, and climate science. … [N]o one acknowledged Foote was the first to make this discovery for more than a century
Meanwhile, right up until now (yes, I mean Manchin), people whose salary depends on not understanding that fact tell themselves stories about natural variation or a hotter sun or tech solutions or that we’ll just turn up the A/C. Anything to force somebody else to take care of it, even when it kills people.
(Just for the record: No, the variation is off the charts. No, the other planets aren’t warming. No, people make and use technology. If technology was the solution, rather than people being the problem, the tech would have already been applied. No, there’s no way to turn up the A/C for all of nature, except by not idiotically warming the planet to begin with.)
The climate crisis deniers are the worst of the lot because they’ll kill billions of people. Billions with a “b.”
So here we are, trapped in alternative “facts.” If the loonies don’t get us for ignoring them, reality will when it crashes down.
The US again abandons tens of thousands of allies, workers, helpers to their fate.
(Update, border not so thick as it was, see first comment. The US and other countries seem to be trying to help Afghans leave.)
Update, 25 August Black border removed entirely. The US and other nations involved there are working hard to get people out. It is, I hear, one of the biggest civilian evacuations ever. Much as I was down on Biden before he was elected, biting this bullet of US mistakes in Afghanistan deserves respect.
Should the US have stayed in Afghanistan on the plea that insanity forced it to keep doing the same failing thing, over and over, year after year? No.
It should never have been there, if that’s all they were going to do.
Is there anything they could have done that would have actually made a difference?
Elect Al Gore.
And even that would have helped only if he’d had the courage to do real nation building.
Since it’s a country that throws away half it’s population right from the start, before even inventing ways to exploit the remainder, the first step for nation building in Afghanistan was always clear.
Change the laws so they could have their own money, land, and wealth, and enforce it. Make sure girls received educations all the way through high school. Put women’s health and medical care on a serious and effective footing. Provide millions of scholarships for women to study in the world’s great universities.
After twenty years of that, with women therefore becoming more important than testosterone-poisoned defectives in families, workplaces and government, there’d be a different country now.
Of course, no senator could have boasted about bringing dollars home to his district because Blackhawk helicopters got sold to Afghanis. Nobody could have stood on the deck of a naval ship after a couple of years, declaring victory.
The kind of victory I’m talking about takes much longer.
If nobody was going to do anything real victory required, the US should have stayed home.
Biden is right to correct that part of the error. A deathly shame, though, that he thought he could wait for the paperwork before rescuing the women and men who have been betrayed.
People have lost their fear of disease. It only took about two generations without major deadly infections. That comes as a surprise to me. I thought people understood cause and effect. But, no. Apparently, if you’re not in immediate and personal danger of dying, it’s Somebody Else’s Problem. And a SEP field, as Douglas Adams astutely pointed out, is the only proven way to make anything invisible.
Years ago, 1990s?, I read an article about attitudes to vaccination. In places like Bangladesh, where they actually had to contend with actual disease, people were overwhelmingly in favor of it. More than 85% of the respondents were incredulous you could have any other attitude. (This was before extremists started spreading paranoia about Western contamination.) It was only in well-to-do parts of the wealthier countries that people had the luxury of fantasizing about what vaccines would do to their precious bodily fluids.
The mind reels. Do they not understand that your freedom ends where your threat to my life begins?
(Rights, unlike people, are not all equal. Some depend on others. Some are a precondition for everything else. There is not one single freedom that can be enjoyed if you’re dead. Of course it’s more complicated than one right always being first. The link goes on about the intricacies.)
Public health measures to prevent the spread of disease take precedence over people’s convenience every single time.
Mask wearing, social distancing, and temporary lockdowns are all merely inconvenient. There is no, absolutely no, rights-based argument to make against them.
Contact tracing does raise privacy issues. But there again: you can’t enjoy privacy when you’re dead. Privacy is a secondary consideration. It must be respected to the extent possible while the primary public health priorities are achieved. For instance, we’re horrified the government could be using our cell phones for location data to track covid contacts, as they did in South Korea. That is nonsense. Location tracking to save your life is a Good Thing. It should be done from the start to the end of a pandemic. After that the data should be expunged.
What should not be done is using that data to sell us fast food, or to store it forever to target political ads at us, or to deny us jobs based on some AI bullshit model of who we are based on where we’ve been. And yet, we put up calmly with the latter while throwing fits about lifesaving temporary public health tracking. Commercial tracking, which should be illegal, has made us allergic to lifesaving tracking. It’s insane. And I suspect it’s all because we feel powerless against corporations but not the government.
Vaccination is the third major public health measure, and it does intersect with the basic right to control your own body. When two foundational rights conflict — the right not to be harmed and the right to control your own body — then the scale of the harm on each side is important.
Vaccines can cause nanoscale harm. Things like sore arms, a day of lethargy, or even super-rare blood clots which can be effectively dealt with if doctors know they should look for that. Compared to the megascale harm from disease — death, long term disability, sickness for millions — there is no contest at all . The greatest good of the greatest number is the right criterion to apply when the difference is so stark. Vaccine mandates are justified to bring the cost of non-vaccination home to anti-vaxxers. As are mandates that limit them from any place where they could potentially spread the disease they’ve refused to prevent.
There is zero place for any “unease and questioning over the loss of freedom.” [Ed. note: idiots.]
Consider the section of the Texas Constitution of 1836 below, currently doing the rounds as an example of the foundational racism in the Good Old Days.
Sec. 10. All persons (Africans, the descendants of Africans, and Indians excepted,) who were residing in Texas on the day of the declaration of independence, shall be considered citizens of the republic, and entitled to all the privileges of such. All citizens now living in Texas, who have not received their portion of land, in like manner as colonists, shall be entitled to their land in the following proportion and manner : Every head of a family shall be entitled to one league and labor of land;
[definition from somewhere on the web] A league of land equals 4,428 acres and a labor, 177 acres, combined they add up to 4,605 acres [19 km²]. This was the. amount of a headright (first-class) granted to “all persons except Africans and their descendants, and Indians, living in Texas.” (Convertunits.com, however, says one square league is 7628 acres.)
Either way, that’s a nontrivial homestead. And it’ll obviously set you back if it’s not handed to you and you have to scrape up the cash to buy all that by yourself. Racism, indeed.
Notice anyone missing from that list? So excluded they didn’t even need to be mentioned by name? Notice anyone missing from the current discussion about that list? Unlike “Africans and Indians”, those people are still unseen.
At the rate we’re going, it’s going to be centuries before we understand why disasters keep crashing in on us (You’d like an example? Trump.) from the blind side.
This is your future speaking. If you’re lucky, you will grow old. When you get there, your skin will be drier. I’ve had Death-Valley-Desert-dry skin my whole life, and it only gets more so.
Guess how touchscreens react to very dry skin?
It can take me three or four swipes or taps on a phone, after breathing on my fingers to make them moister, before anything happens. By then, because I’m frustrated, it’s usually the wrong thing.
So, what am I saying? That touchscreens don’t work for a whole large part of the population. A part which is getting bigger, not smaller.
Now picture that kind of not-working in a car. You’re driving. The last thing you want to do is study a screen with stupid icons on it. And when it doesn’t turn on the A/C or close the windows, you have to study it again. When you look up, the two tons of metal you’re in are bearing down on a lane closure sign that the car is ignoring because, hey, it’s not moving. (I know. They’ll fix that someday. But then we’ll just move on to the next AI idiocy.)
That doesn’t even get into the topic of tactile feedback and muscle memory and how necessary they are to maintain situational awareness when driving. All those levers and buttons and knobs and steering wheel and pedals allow you to use a different part of your brain for control of the car so that your eyes and ears and frontal cortex are available for the unexpected. It’s called human factors engineering. The electric car makers ought to try it sometime.
Right now I have an old car. So old, you open the windows with one of those little hand cranks. My relationship with my phone is bad enough that I’ve often thought I should give up and get myself a cocktail sausage to use as a stylus. Then I imagine trying to run a car with a cocktail sausage.
Bernie Sanders was talked about a while ago, blathering his usual blather about how there is nothing but class struggle. Racism? Caused by poverty. (In which case, why aren’t poor blacks racist against whites?) Trumpism? Caused by poverty. (But, but, but, his fans give him boat parades. Have you priced boats lately?) Crime? Caused by poverty. (Has he never heard of Madoff? Or, for that matter, Trump?)
Now, admittedly, poverty is tough. People tend to react badly to it and bother their neighbors trying to get out of it. But that’s a whole different matter from poverty causing bigotry. Plus it does nothing to explain centuries and millenia of elites sneering at the stupidity and laziness of their underlings. If only poverty could cause that, elites should be the intelligent, highminded people they imagine themselves to be.
What does follow a pattern, though, is that people make sure they think poorly of anyone they hurt. After all, if the piefaced whatnot didn’t deserve it, they are the bad guys for inflicting harm.
The more harm, and the more baked-into-the-society and structural the harm, the greater the contempt for the underclass who are made to suffer.
In other words, Bernie has it backwards. It’s not poverty that causes racism. It’s the need to justify exploitation. Damaging others causes racism. And sexism.
That means the solution is not to make poor whites richer, to take an example at random. Or to make men more confident of their masculinity, to take another. It’s not to increase the status of the group causing harm.
It’s to remove it. It’s to maintain real equality.
Equals have enough social status to inflict a cost when someone tries to get something for nothing out of them. Without the ability to get away with hurting each other, there’s also no need to label others contemptible enough to deserve it. With real equality the need for contempt to justify bad treatment gradually fades.
Bernie’s BS would make the problem worse, and it sends people hoping for the solution down the wrong road. That’s why his BS is not simply silly.
I don’t subscribe to the Financial Times, so I can’t read the article, but the front page shows this:
US women consider parenting alone after coronavirus. By Patti Waldmeir.
And a couple of days ago I saw that the patriarchal fossils running China are so frantic about similar thoughts they are nabbing women and punishing them (how, I don’t know and hate to think) for having such ideas.
The whole point of stuffing women into the sex caste is to use their bodies. For sex, certainly. But also for producing children.
It’ll be hilarious when, after centuries of pretending having families was a terrible burden foisted on them by women, a “ball and chain,” and so forth and so on, suddenly men find themselves on the outside, looking in.
Everything human beings actually care about is on the other side of that glass. And I’m not sure another smash and grab wreckage will be tolerated a second time around. Been there, done that.
A few things to remember while we’re boneless with relief that so many of us survived the kakistocracy.
1) This is just back to normal. Remember normal? It’s great compared to being in the grip of a tarantula that thinks we’re food items. It really is. But normal isn’t genius. It’s just okay.
For his whole political career, Biden has just been a white male fossil. He’s graduated to old white male fossil, but he has not, on the whole, shown any particular flashes of brilliance that I can remember.
He may start showing them now, when he’s more concerned about his legacy than his future career in politics. We can hope. It’s a good omen that he’s signed Executive Orders on the first day to turn around some of the Dump’s worst excesses.
The times demand brilliance. Remember climate change? Still there. Inequality? Which corrodes every society it touches? Worse than ever because of the pandemic. Plus the pandemic itself. That’s just a tedious, logistical problem that needs people to follow obvious public health rules. Something that’s totally beyond enough leaders and people to be a disaster.
At least Biden understands government administration. That could count for a lot, given the herculean clean-up job he’s been given.
2) Yes, I’m glad Kamala Harris is in the picture. No, I can’t get over the crushing weight of sexism that gave her the place she’s got.
She should have been President. It’s her slot Biden stepped into.
With a heavy heart, I have to agree with all the millions of people who were pretty sure sexism would have stopped her from winning. We barely squeaked by with the old white male fossil at the top of the ticket, even after four years of the Pile of Garbage trashing the country and the world.
So, yes, her ability to make lemonade out of lemons is a good thing. And it may well set her up to be a future president. But the anger is merely diluted with water. There’s no sugar in it. It’s still very sour.
And that’s especially so because there’s almost no recognition of the gap. Nobody pointing out what’s been taken from her, even if it was necessary when the country is still so drenched in despising women. Almost nobody remembering the idiots who said there’d be no difference between Hillary Clinton and TheDonald. (Just a fewdifferences.) Almost nobody apologizing for the blinding sexism that allows them to let such bullshit pass. Very few pointing out that Clinton was right about everything, and that sexism delivered us into the jaws of the tarantula.
Yes, racism is a huge factor. All the bigotries are limbs of the same monster. It’s the unrecognized limbs that can grab you. You can tell which ones those are by paying attention to which ones are ignored the most. Racism is ignored a lot when it comes to getting rid of it, not just talking about it.
With sexism, we’re barely at the talking stage.
3) Last and most important for fixing the problems in the immediate future: Remember that there would be little to celebrate without the work of Stacey Abrams. We’d still be at the non-existent mercy of Moscow Mitch.
She’s the one who saw the solution was the slogwork of increasing turnout. She’s the one who mucked right in and started working, years ago. She’s the one who inspired hundreds and thousands to take on the work with her. She’s the one who delivered the deciding votes and delivered us from Mitch. She’s the one who made it possible to start walking back from the shitshow of the last four years.
There’s a lot of her influence in the first and vital bill the Democrats plan to present, a voting rights act. It could go a long way to easing the chokehold of minority rule on the USA if it actually gets turned into law.
If you'd like to read or comment on a synthesis of the ideas here, please check out my evolving work on government.
Pollution, privacy, abortion, net neutrality -- just about every controversy in modern life -- depends on correctly defining and understanding our inalienable rights.
"What is the difference between a realist and a dreamer? The realist thinks that someday a UFO will come down and hover over the UN building, and that the aliens will come out of the UFO and offer to share their technology and solve all our world's problems.
The dreamer thinks maybe we can get our act together and do it ourselves."
Russian joke [It's a joke?] cited in William K. Hartmann, A Traveler's Guide to Mars.
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