Learning As We Go

The “public psychology” regarding the decision to pause the J&J vaccine should probably be taken into consideration, but not over-thought. There was/is a (rare) reaction that has warranted a closer look, some time for asking questions and looking for reasons and connections. Leave it at that and stop criticizing the decision to pause. Just stop. Find something else to do.

Yes, this will only bolster the veracity of the anti-vaxxers who will have reason to boast and say “I told you so.” So be it. Let them preen, but ultimately let them continue to stew in their own naivete and ignorance. Their fifteen minutes will pass, and those who get vaccinated will be doing something far more constructive and helpful in the long run.

Still Can’t Let This Go

At some point, it seems, elected officials- or at least certain elected officials- become powerless in the face of public sentiment.

If the polls reveal, for example, frustration with covid-19 restrictions, Governor Whitmer can no longer exercise the power vested in her to guide her state through whatever remains of the pandemic, even as Michigan finds itself in the throes of what is looking like a fourth surge.

The public is saying “no more shutdowns or quarantines,” and she apparently has to listen to the public, even though the safe and practical thing to do would be to shut down and quarantine, along with bolstering vaccinations, which apparently the Fed has its reasons for not doing.

By and large, the public, throughout this whole ordeal, has come across as impatient, rebellious, and somehow better informed and smarter than the ones who have dealt with infectious diseases all their working lives. It has been a constant battle between those who want to preserve the precious economy and their “freedom,” and those who recognize this rare circumstance as a time for drastic measures in order to save lives.

I’ve always wondered if those who want to forge ahead as if nothing is different really are as cold-hearted and ignorant as they seem. This is a bona fide pandemic, a public health emergency of the first magnitude, yet all that really seems to matter to many is carrying on as if nothing extraordinary is happening. It has been a constant, wearisome battle. A constant clash of philosophies of governance, exacerbated by the outsized influence of social and partisan media. Reason and safety lie in the eye of the beholder. There has never been common ground, always more than enough resistance that has kept us from ever getting the upper hand.

Life is a crap shoot here in America, plain and simple. There is no one set of rules or guidelines we all follow when faced with a threat to our common existence. It’s always “every person for themselves” coupled with a suspicion of authority, a debilitating lack of trust. We’ll never manage more than a gimpy walk to the finish line. 

Periodic Assessment

A lingering post-covid regret will have to be how we could have done so many things differently, starting with listening to actual experts. The real experts, not the former President, or pundits on Fox News or Grampa or Uncle Bill or Aunt Sue just spouting what they heard somewhere.

It’ll be the shameful stubbornness, the unwillingness to acknowledge the gravity. The unwillingness to band together and fight this thing as a nation instead of a bunch of tribes with a thousand different opinions. It will be the suspicion, the doubt, the disinformation, the sheer stupidity and ignorance, the doubling down. And worst of all, the choice by a presidential administration to treat the whole thing as if it wasn’t really happening.

Yes, we will have to move on from this, but we all need to come to terms with the fact that the President of the United States was ok with letting the wildfire rage unchecked, ok with ignoring the conflagration as it consumed everything in its path. Ok with doing nothing except letting the virus take its course. We need to try to get our heads around that, let that sink in.

Trump was so consumed by the optics and economics of it that he basically hoped it would just go away. So hundreds of thousands of people have died for no reason, thousands of families are suffering immeasurable loss, in no small part because the nation’s Chief Executive and policy wonks around him didn’t give a shit.

Have we ever seen such consequential, cold-hearted incompetence?

Worthless

I don’t fit with the movers and shakers. If the world was full of people like me, we’d still be wondering what to do with the wheel.

But I do notice things. I do, I think, have a functioning bullshit meter. And members of the Republican party in practically every state are keeping the needle pegged in the red zone lately.

I know that if I were to get my news from the fox, I would have one view of the world. But since I don’t go near Hannity and Carlson and anyone else on that network, I embrace another view of things. Because of this, I’m finding the almost nationwide efforts to tighten and restrict voting rights not just reactionary, but abhorrent, hateful, lazy, pathetic, diabolical, small-minded, paranoic, and tiresome. And hearing the Republican rationale for this is doing nothing for me.

A note to Mitch McConnell and everyone else in the elephant party… please stop saying this isn’t about voter suppression and finding ways to keep people who wouldn’t vote for you in a million years from voting at all. Don’t tell us that these efforts don’t have anything to do with a continued buy-in of the election being stolen. If Trump had actually won, this wouldn’t be an issue right now. Don’t get all defensive and self-righteous when big corporations decide to criticize your legislative efforts, especially when you are always so ready to take their money so you can stay in office and continue to find ways to propagate your ignorance and hate.

Your concern over “voter irregularities” is a ruse, a convenient cover, lousy legislation you’re trying to ramrod into law in time for the 2022 mid-terms. Your platform is made of balsa wood, and it seems the only plank is survival at any cost. No plans, no good ideas, just survival.

Are you still, for some God-forsaken reason, beholden to The Base? Does it ever occur to you that the only reason you have as many seats as you do is because your base is so willing to sell their souls for an empty cup? Well, that and your attempts at gerrymandering have actually worked.

You have nothing, you offer nothing that any warm-blooded, caring human being would want. And don’t dare hide behind your “fiscal conservatism,” or “patriotism.” Or “Christian” values. You don’t have any of those, either.

Chill Pill

We are the only species that quantifies effort, needs it to lead somewhere– to accomplishment, accolades, self-satisfaction.

As I sat on the porch in a state of stillness and peace I rarely experience, it dawned on me that, apart from certain domesticated species, most of the animal kingdom, while spending its days focused on propagation and survival, doesn’t waste a second wondering if someone is noticing their efforts, or evaluating their performance. They just do what they do—scurry about and flit and fly. Raise their young, store up for the winter.

They don’t live up or down to expectations, they don’t get caught up in comparisons, they don’t feel sorry for themselves. I don’t know if everything they do is purposeful, but it’s easy to get the impression that there is no wasted effort.

Do they feel joy, sense freedom, or, in the case of birds, sense the envy of us earthbound beings who dream of flying? Probably not. “How can they be satisfied with their existence?” we might think. “They do the same thing every day.”

Ah, boredom. I guess it’s not suprising that the species with the most highly developed brain is the one that has the most trouble finding value in the luxury of being still.

Record Scratch

Sat on the porch yesterday afternoon, enjoying the early April warmth and relative stillness. The annoying wind is gone, for now, and yesterday was simply a delightful, sunny day.

It was one of those rare moments when I felt no urge to move. I just sat in a chair, watching and listening. Finches, grackles, mourning doves, robins, sparrows, squirrels and bees all doing their thing. Bird songs and purposeful avian activity all around. There was so much going on.

And of course there was the din of distant traffic, the inevitable human encroachment and auditory assault, thanks to some no-mind on a motorcycle who apparently equates ear drum damage with virility and coolness.

Where We Are

It seems Derek Chauvin and even the city of Minneapolis are in a no-win situation. It feels like there can be only one verdict that will keep another riot from happening.

Chauvin’s defense team has a thankless job. On the one hand, there are the 9 or so minutes of knee-on-neck. On the other, there is the media saturation and televised courtroom drama, and the feeling that this is cancel culture on steroids, like Chauvin is guilty whether or not the case is more complicated than what meets the eye.

It may be the long road to getting rid of a bad cop, but it also comes with that lingering feeling of public opinion and bandwagon mentality wielding outsized power and influence. What normally happens behind closed doors and communicated mainly with the help of courtroom sketches needs to be carried live for all to see.

The decision to televise the proceedings is an indication of the stakes here, but also the climate of suspicion and distrust that exists.

500 (Still Processing)

As much as I respect Dr. Fauci, I feel like he is a master of misdirection and covering his own ass. All the questions along the way about his time standing at the dais behind Trump, never really acknowledging that he could have intervened more forcefully than he did.

What was the line he was so concerned about not crossing? Why was it so critical that he rarely appear to overtly disagree with the Asswipe-in-Chief? How could he have become so marginalized? Couldn’t he have just gone to the media any old time he wanted and sounded the alarm in a forceful, convincing manner worthy of his stature?

Why couldn’t he ever just bust out and say, for everyone to hear, that practically every Republican talking point regarding COVID-19 was dangerously misguided and nothing more than strategically concocted bullshit?

I was always hoping that he would lower the boom and say what many of us were thinking. But on closer inspection, maybe he was doing those exact things in a way that made sense to him as a rational scientist, and not as just another calculating politician shooting from the hip.

I guess what mystifies me more than anything is why Trump was so feared, why people tiptoed around him, since he exemplified buffoonery with such regularity. How could anyone take him seriously?

This went on for so long.  

Gotta Find A Hobby

There is always dissonance. Differing messages being screamed at the same time, in each ear. Vaccinations happening to the tune of 3 million a day, and at the same time another surge seems increasingly inevitable. And the local newspaper offers up the same conflicting information, with a headline that says one thing and info in the article that says something else.

The pleas from CDC and government officials fall on deaf ears in many states, people throw their masks away, revel in the streets in alcohol-fueled dumbness, thumb their noses at common sense advice.

Debra Birx finally throws Trump under the bus, though maybe she should join him.

I’m tired of convoluted, empty language and questions answered without answering the questions. I know it’s the dance that reporters and government officials often engage in, but it’s insanely frustrating and a waste of everyone’s time. Even when someone says they’re being straight with us, chances are they’re not being totally straight with us. It’s difficult to shake the cynicism.

It doesn’t matter how passionate people are, how knowledgeable they are, how right they may be, how critical the information they’re trying to share. Others will dismiss their pleas, seemingly unmoved by them, as if no one has spoken.

Tuned out to reason, tuned in to lunacy.