Some of these links almost ended up in a Weekend Update post, but I wound up going with some more upbeat news, instead. Let’s look at some news that broke after last week’s Friday Five that ought to be covered now rather than wait for Friday.
So, first, up, a drunk Fox news host!
Saturday night Judge Pirro’s show started a bit later than usual supposedly because of technical difficulties. Once things got going, well… Was a Disheveled Judge Jeanine Pirro Tipsy After Fox News Show Delayed for ‘Technical Difficulties’?. I’ve watched the video. Slurred speech, incoherence, at least one point you could see her putting the glass down… she was frikkin’ hammered.
Of course, she can’t admit the obvious that every single person watching saw, instead she screamed “haters!” on twitter all day Sunday: Jeanine Pirro responds to critics of appearance on Fox News show – Pro-Trump anchor appeared late and apparently disheveled on Saturday night, leading to social media speculation. I get it, she was broadcasting from home, had to do her own hair and make-up and didn’t have a teleprompter. But why does that cause her speech to be slurred, and his facial expression to have that classic drunk-off-her-ass look?
Meanwhile, let’s check in on the super hypocritical evangelical most famous for strange relationships with pool boys.
What’s he been up to lately? ‘He’s Going to Do Whatever He Wants’ – Jerry Falwell Jr.’s decision to reopen Liberty University’s campus amid the coronavirus pandemic has sparked anger and confusion—even among those usually sympathetic to him. That’s right, while other universities have switched to online classes and urged students to practice social distancing, Jerry insisted that students come back to campus! Don’t worry about the virus, he said! I’ve talked to several health experts and local government officials, and they are thanking me for insisting that all of you have to come back or forfeit tuition and room and board fees!
Except all of those experts and officials tell a very different story: Jerry Falwell, Jr. Lied About Who Supported His Decision to Re-open Liberty U.
Why is he doing this? You may remember in previous coverage of the pool boy scandals, that there is a lot of evidence Falwell, his wife, and kids have been using University resources to finance not just his lavish lifestyle but also a lot of questionable real estate deals. So, of course: Liberty University is resisting pressure from students to refund room and board costs during the coronavirus crisis.
All of which leads to the inevitable: Multiple Students Are Sick At Reopened Liberty Campus.
And never forget that Falwell Junior has never been a paragon of virtue:
Let’s move on…
The conspiracy-spouting scam artist
So what about the man who makes money spouting off conspiracy theories, including claiming that children killed in school mass shootings never existed, and how his “vitamin supplements” can cure literally anything: Google Store Finally Bans Infowars App Over Virus Lies – Apple kicked Alex Jones out of the App Store in 2018. The Google Play Store has finally followed suit.
The two uses of the word finally are definitely called for. But there’s more…
So there is a temporary hospital being built in Central Park in New York City. Sounds like a much needed facility, right? Well, there is one very big problem: Group Behind Central Park Coronavirus Tent Hospital Demands That Volunteers Support Anti-Gay Agenda. It’s Franklin Graham and the associated ministries behind this. And it is a very old trick of the bigots: pretend to do a charitable thing, but contrary to the teachings of the Jesus they claim to follow, they want to put conditions on the charity.
The entire point is to rub the message in the face of every faggot: “we hate you, you’re going to hell, and we think you deserve to die.” The only reason to add this kind of thing to the volunteer application is to get applauded for what they’re doing while most of the people doing the applauding don’t even look at the statement. It’s a chance to make clear they have the power to do this, the privilege to help those they deem worthy while spitting in the faces of their favorite enemies.
That’s enough news about deplorable people. Let’s close out with some sobering facts to remind us why we should be taking this pandemic seriously.
Oregon’s “Stay Home, Save Lives” campaign:
(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)
Interior: Gene’s mind, wee small hours of Saturday morning.
I’m dreaming. I’m hanging out with a friend who died not quite two years ago.
We have a lovely talk about things I’m writing now, people we both care about, things I’m worrying about.
We went for a long walk in a lovely wooded area.
We stopped to sit somewhere and look at the view. One of my favorite pencils is sitting on a table. Along with a bunch of very small slips of paper.
I start writing. I write an entire… something. A scene? A story? I’m not sure.
I look up.
I tell her it’s all finished. Then I look down, and see that all of the slips of paper covered with my writing are in a small box, but all jumbled.
“You’ll have to put them back into order,” she says.
“I can do that now,” I say. I look back up.
She’s standing again. In different, but still comfy clothes. “Yes, but not here,” she says. She points into the woods. “I’m going this way.” She points behind me. “You’re going that way.”
I look, and there is an ordinary road. One I sort of recognize. It looks a bit like the winding road down a hill that I used to drive on a lot when I was a teen-ager. I had three different friends who lived on the hill above the town we all attended school in, back then.
There is a car. It has one of the Lyft light things in the front. There is a driver, but I can’t really see him.
“But I don’t want to go back,” I say.
“I’m going this way,” she repeats. “You’re going that way.”
And I can see down at the bottom of the road home: my home, now. Where Michael and all of our friends are waiting.
“Oh,” I say.
And I wake up.
(My subconscious is never subtle, you know?)
I started to do a Weekend Update this morning… but then decided I needed a nap. Then I had to help my husband with a couple of errands and so one…
But then a couple of new bits of news came through tonight and I decided I had to share:
Italy: 101-year-old influenza survivor beats COVID-19. He was born during the flu pandemic at the end of World War I and survived it, now he’s survived this. Wow.
Trump Backs Off “Aspirational” Plan To Open By Easter. Of course, as often as he changes his mind, who knows what will happen?
I have to start this review of the season one finale by paraphrasing Spider Robinson’s famous review of Children of Dune: It’s got plot holes so big you could fly fleets of Borg Cubes through them, but you probably don’t care because it’s such a fun ride. And yes, I think season one as a whole, and the final episode, were fun rides. To quote a friend who is not nearly as hard core of a fan as I am (who binge-watched it at the end and thus didn’t have to wait for any episodes), “Holy shit, that was amazing!”
For all earlier episodes of the series I scheduled my review to publish on the following Monday, in part just so there was some predictability, but there really isn’t a reason to put this off until then.
While there were some groan-worthy moments and several disappointments in the plot, the finale had its amazing moments. And to be perfectly frank, the first season of Star Trek: the Next Generation didn’t hang together half as well as this show has. It’s easy to look back on the old series with rose-colored glasses and only remember the episodes and arcs that we liked and forget the many (or so many) missteps.
Anyway, the rest of this is going to be all spoilers, all the time, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read on.
If you click through, you’re crossing into the former Neutral Zone without backup!
I regularly worked from home at least two days a week for quite some time before then, so I didn’t expect it would be much of an adjustment3. And I’m an introvert, who while I like spending time with my friends, need to spend quite a bit of time alone in order to not be mega-cranky.
My husband, in the meantime, was still having to go into work five days a week4, which of course had me fretting. I’ve been fretting about all my friends and loved ones throughout this mess. Earlier this week, he and most of his co-workers were furloughed, so he’s going to be home with me all the time for the foreseeable future. Which means slightly less fretting, right? Of course it also means we need to figure out some new routines.
On the one hand, it helps that he’s also an introvert, and we already have a habit of spending most of our time at home ignoring each other. He usually sits at his computer and I sit at mine. If I’m watching TV he’s usually playing games on his computer, or designing 3D figures to print on his 3D printer, or sitting at the table painting said figures. So we’ve got that part sorted, for now.
But worrying about everyone else does wear on you. And even though I have been a news junkie5 since I was a kid, I’ve noticed that I’m starting to avoid some of my usual news sources during my daily reading. But even though I’m trying to avoid some of those external sources of anxiety, stuff still comes across my stream that just demands a comment.
For instance, White nationalist planned to bomb a Missouri hospital as revolt against coronavirus lockdowns. Seriously? Geeze. If you don’t want to click through, the guy was under surveillance by the FBI for some time because he was active on some of the same neo-Nazi message boards as several other people arrested over the last few months for similar plans. He had been in communication with someone he thought was building a bomb that could be installed in his car, and he showed up to pick up the bomb, not realizing it was an FBI sting. He resisted arrest, and got shot and killed in the process.
Bombing a hospital? Really?
I really don’t understand some people.
Meanwhile, there is a slightly positive development in another news story about an angry white nationalist: Christchurch shootings: Brenton Tarrant pleads guilty to 51 murders – A man accused of deadly attacks on mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch a year ago has pleaded guilty to 51 charges of murder. At least the families of the victims won’t have to watch a long jury trial uncertain of the outcome.
Speaking of angry white men who may finally be held accountable for some bad stuff they’ve done: Alex Jones Loses Sandy Hook Court Appeal, Must Now Pay Nearly $150,000 In Legal Fees. I hope he keeps losing lawsuits from the families of those murdered children until he’s homeless8.
Another feature of angry white men we don’t spend enough time talking about is just how stupid they are. And it’s the kind of stupid that causes real harm to others. So I’m going to close with this video, where Rachel Maddow talks about one such stupid angry white guy. Take it away, Rachel!
Rachel Maddow blasts Mississippi governor for banning cities from coronavirus business closures:
(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)
1. A couple days before that tree pollen count went into the deep red, and what few other symptoms I had were consistent with a severe hay fever attack, so I was fairly certain I didn’t have the coronavirus2. But, better safe than sorry, right?
2. I have been following the advice from the World Health Organization of checking my temperature several times a day ever since. I have had no fever in that time. The cough went away for a while, then came back, and then went away. No other symptoms have shown up, so knock wood!
3. And when some people on some of the podcasts I regularly listen to were talking about how difficult it was coming up with things to do to amuse themselves while avoiding going out, I admit I chuckled. I have so many books in my to-read pile, for instance! And there are all those shows I have been trying to get to on the various streaming services! The problem isn’t finding things to do, the problem is still not having enough time for the things I want to watch, read, or listen to!
4. Riding the bus back and forth twice a day. At least he doesn’t work directly with the public like he used to. He even pointed out that because his workbench in in a cage (because he works on hard disk and other highly valuable things that are easy to pocket), most of the time all of his co-workers are far enough from him to prevent casual infection.
5. I sometimes blame Weekly Reader6, which was this sort of mini newspaper that we used to get in some of the elementary schools I attended. The idea of Weekly Reader was to provide age-appropriate versions of the big news stories kids might be hearing their parents talking about or whatever. It was an interesting publication.
6. Though my paternal grandfather was a big fan of reading the newspaper, as well as the nightly news. And most of the radio stations in most of the places we lived during my childhood had an hourly news break provided by one of the major networks. And there always seemed to be a station that carried the Paul Harvey show at noon7.
7. Which I now realize had a quite skewed viewpoint and was as likely to report urban legends as it was real news, but there was something entertaining about it.
8. He deserves much worse, of course.
I linked to this story a couple of days ago: Wall Street Journal Types Wonder Aloud If Nation’s Health Is ‘Worth’ The Economic Hit. And then of course there was this guy: Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick: I and Many Other Grandparents Would Rather Die from COVID-19 Than See the Economy Ruined . And online I’ve seen a number of people grumbling because they think only older people are vulnerable to serious illness. One comment that was extremely chilling: “Why do we have to suffer to keep some people alive who don’t have that many years left, anyway?”
It may not be quite as bad as that time (when I was a very closeted guy in my early-twenties) while my head was bowed in church when the pastor leading the prayer thanked god for the scourge of AIDS which was “killing all the gays” but it came close. Nor is it quite as bad as the time a college classmate said to me, “I know Jesus said to take care of the sick, but they didn’t know what caused all illnesses back then. We know what causes AIDS…”
So, in both cases we are talking about a virus. As I have pointed out, outside of the U.S., the vast majority of people who have been sickened and died of AIDS are straight women and children, not gay men. HIV is a virus, a natural phenomenon which is passed from person-to-person through behaviors that are a natural part of being a human being.
And while you can cherry pick the data to show that older people are more likely to die of complications of COVID-19, they aren’t the only people who do. In fact, that data is looking more and more suspect as time goes on: The Coronavirus Is Sending Lots Of Younger People To The Hospital – It’s increasingly clear that early data out of China was an anomaly: the coronavirus is severely harming substantial numbers of people under 50, too.
We know that factors which increase the likelihood of developing severe symptoms include a lot of chronic health problems that are widespread in the population. About 60% of adults have at least one of those known chronic health disorders. We also know that people how smoke or who are ex-smokers are at higher risk for getting severely ill. We have less data about whether vaping is also a risk factor, but it isn’t unreasonable to think so.
But there’s another risk factor that people aren’t taking into consideration: lack of health care options. Sure, it appears that the death rate is about 3.4% in general… yet we have places such as Italy and Spain that are seeing something closer to 8%, and at least one reason why is that so many people got sick at the same time that there weren’t enough hospital beds for the severely sick, and there weren’t enough respirators for those severely sick people who needed them.
Which is why the shelter-in-place/stay-at-home orders are important. Slowing the spread makes it possible that we might not have too many people severely sick at the same time than we have facilities for.
Though it’s quite likely that several spots in the U.S. are going to overwhelm their medical facilities, soon.
I am worried about my own health, it’s true. I am far more worried about the health of people that I know and love. I am worried about the economic hardships many are already facing, and that a lot more of us may be facing, soon. But most of those economic hardships (and many worse) will happen if infection rates surge to the point that millions die. The notion that ordinary people aren’t going to face disruptions and financial problems if all the orders are lifted and everyone goes back to work is simply wrong.
Humans are social animals. One of our survival traits as a species is that we take care of each other. My community didn’t survive the plague of AIDS by taking an “everyone for themself” attitude. The world won’t survive if you fail to learn the lessons of our ordeal:
Edited to Add: I’d already started the draft of this post before this tweet went across my timeline and I chose to re-tweet it. Decided I should add it here:
Many, many years ago, my late-husband, Ray, made some disparaging comments about our vacuum cleaner. When I suggested we could buy a new one, he immediately scoffed, saying that the one we had worked fine for our needs, since our place was so small and we didn’t need to spend the money. “Okay,” I said, and made a mental note to research vacuum cleaners so I could buy him one at the next gift-giving opportunity.
Which I did.
And when he first tore open the wrapping paper he gave me such a look… so I thought I had really screwed up. But when I tried to apologize for getting the wrong thing he brushed it off. Later, after we’d unboxed it together and I vacuumed our living room with it, he commented that at least it was a lot quieter than the old one. And later still, after we had been using it for a few months, he apologized to me for being less than enthusiastic about the present. He claimed that the lack of enthusiasm was because he assumed that I was expecting him to do all the housecleaning from then on. Which was a bit odd, given how long we’d lived together and that we’d both always tried to split the chores.
He seemed to become quite fond of that vacuum cleaner over the next few years.
After he passed away, and a few years after that after Michael and I had been living together for a while, Michael once commented on the vacuum cleaner. When I suggested we buy a new one, he countered that maybe we should look at getting a Roomba… which eventually we did. And it was upgraded a few times over the years. But we still used the stand-up vacuum occasionally, for the carpeted stairs and the upstairs hallway.
During the many months of our move from Ballard, we made a lot of decisions about things to keep and things to get rid of. The vacuum cleaner didn’t come up until after we had signed the lease at the new place. For the first three weeks after signing, we were transporting car loads of medium-sized boxes until we had enough of them out of the way that the professional movers could handle all the furniture and a bunch more of the boxes. At which point there were still odds and ends to move from the old place, but mostly a lot of cleaning to do.
At some point in that interval, Michael brought up the vacuum and the fact that he didn’t think we needed it. The new place was not split level, as the old one had been, so the Roomba could, in theory, get everywhere without human intervention. And since the new place was larger, had a more open floor plan, and we had already decided to get rid of a few pieces of furniture, Michael’s reasoning was that the Roomba would probably be less prone to trapping itself.
For spot cleaning, he had a handheld Dyson which he felt was adequate to the job. And by that point, the stand-up vacuum cleaner was over 20 years old. So we left the stand-up at the old place, and it was used to vacuum up there while we were cleaning each of the rooms as we cleared out the final stuff and so forth.
At the end of the last day of cleaning, Michael removed the full bag, which I carried out to the dumpster. He put a new bag onto the cleaner, and then attached the pack that had a couple more unused bags and a replacement belt (they came in multi-packs, so when we had had to replace it, we had spares). And it was one of the things we dropped off at Value Village on our last drive between the old place and the new.
We’ve been here for almost three years, and mostly Michael has been right. The Roomba does a good job keeping the floors clean. We have replaced the Roomba once in that time (the old one had been due for replacement when we got the news of the old building selling, so we had put off buying a new one), and Michael has had to replace a few parts on the new one. It is a very busy little robot here.
But the Dyson hasn’t quite worked out for spot cleaning. The two main troubles are that 1) I forget where Michael has it stashed in the computer room, so if I decide I need it when he’s not home I wind up looking around for it for a while, and 2) half the time when I find it, the charging cable has come loose so the battery is dead, so it won’t run. And no, you can’t run it directly from the charger.
So recently, I happened upon a very cheap vacuum cleaner which is, design wise, a Dyson knock-off. It can be used as either a hand-held vacuum or with the longer attachment a traditional floor vacuum. But the big advantage is there is no battery. You just plug it in and it goes.
And when I say cheap, I mean, less than the cost of a replacement battery for the handheld Dyson.
It arrived in the middle of one of my work-from-home days (of course, right now, every one of my work days is a work-from-home day), and I assembled it, but hadn’t used it, yet when Michael got home from work. I had to run to the pharmacy, and he decided to try out the vacuum while I was gone. There were about three places in the house that the Roomba can almost never get to, and he vacuumed those up.
He says it works great, he understands why I bought it, and can’t argue with the price.
The Roomba still does most of the work. But now we can reliably clean all the weird corners. Which is a minor load off my mind. Sometimes it little things like that, you know?
“Et in Arcadia ego” finds Jean-Luc’s motley crew confronting mortality while wrestling moral dilemmas
We are at the penultimate episode of season one of Star Trek: Picard and it is a doozy! The official title is “Et in Arcadia Ego, part 1” and it ends on many more cliffhangers than any of the previous episodes.
Before we do anything else, I want to geek out a bit about the title of the episode, which I can do without any specific spoilers. The title is in Latin, and the phrase has been used as the title of a number of works of art over the years, most famously a painting by 17th Century French Baroque painter, Nicolas Poussin. The phrase is usually translated into English as, “Even in Arcadia, there am I” where the I in question is usually interpretted to be Death. The usual interpretation of the phrase is that Utopias are never perfect, or that Death is a universal fate everyone faces.
In another interpretation, the painting is used by certain conspiracy theorists (who say that the I in the title is Jesus, not Death) to be proof of their claim that a bunch of Kings of France in the Middle Ages were descendants of Christ.
There are other interpretations, of course. There is no way to know which meaning of the title really applies until we see the finale, which we all assume is entitled, “Et in Arcadia Ego, part 2.” Of course, given that Raffi within the show is a conspiracy theorist, while Commodore Oh, Narek, Narissa, and Ramda are all members of a secret conspiracy, we can’t rule anything out.
This was a fun episode. Lots of interesting things happened. We got answers to some outstanding questions. There were a couple of fun reveals, and some teasers for what might happen in the finale.
Which means we’ve reached the point were I can’t make any other comments without revealing major spoilers. So it is time for the cut-tag. Past this point there be plot spoilers. So if you don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read on.
If you click through, you’re crossing into the former Neutral Zone without backup!
A friend shared this image last week, and then I shared it on twitter, and I have subsequently seen mention here and there in various streams of cocktails called the Quarantini. I understand the urge, because many of us are staying home and dealing with any anxiety about our own health or the health of our loved ones, so coming up with a pandemic- or quarantine-themed cocktail seems like a fairly harmless way to pass the time. Well, maybe not entirely harmless: The rise of the quarantini! People whip up coronavirus-themed cocktails at home during the pandemic, prompting Emergen-C to warn that its products should not be ‘taken with alcohol’.
But assuming you aren’t mixing things that oughtn’t to be consumed at the same time, this can be fun. My husband, who used to be a bartender, shared this post about one bartender’s version of a Quarantini: The Quarantini! which does look tasty (not surprising coming from a bartender) and at least has a nice story to go with it. I object to this one a bit because it hits two of my pet peeves regarding cocktails:
- The first is that a good cocktail recipe should not be dependent on super-specific, branded ingredients. If you can’t make it without buying a specific brand of an uncommon alcohol, liqueur, or cordial, most people aren’t going to be able to make it.
- A true martini is a three ingredient drink: gin, vermouth, and a garnish (olive or a twist of lemon, traditionally). It has been argued that a martini is actually a four ingredient drink, because they taste best if served very cold, so if you consider temperature an ingredient, that is that. Regardless, the above recipe has eight ingredients (and is also recommended to be served chilled, so nine counting temperature) and that just isn’t a martini!
An important caveat to my first point: while it is true that I have specific gins that I will recommend if one if making a martini, as well as a favorite dry vermouth, those are recommendations, but the actual recipe. I have a number of favorite bourbons and ryes for making Manhattans or Old Fashioneds with, as well, but the specific brand isn’t part of the recipe, right?
Anyway, I find this recipe much more fun: Margaret and Helen introduce the COVID19 Quarantini. It’s strong enough to make you think Obama is still President and will knock you on your ass from 6 feet away. #SocialDistancing. And half of that is that is it always fun to read a new Margaret and Helen blog post. If you aren’t already a fan, you should check it out.
One part vermouth and 19 parts gin sounds insane, until you remember that a lot of people make their martinis by putting a little vermouth in the glass, swirling it around, then dumping it out and pouring the chilled gin into the glass. My typical recipe is closer to a 1 part vermouth, 9 parts gin, for example.
I’ll allow the vitamin C table garnish on the assumption that you are swallowing the tablet before you begin sipping the drink. If you want to get vitamin C into the cocktail itself, maybe a twist of lemon will be fine.
Edited to Add: It’s been pointed out to me that because Margaret and Helen often write in a distinctive style that one should not always take literally, that not everyone understands that when Helen says to serve this with hand sanitizer, she means that if you’re making a drink for someone else, you should use hand sanitizer since both you and the person you are making the drink for will be touching the surface of the glass. Not that you should put hand sanitizer into the drink.