Tag Archive | pandemic

This Thanksgiving, don’t participate in the possible murder of grandma

Don’t be like Casey!

I keep wanting to write about lighthearted stuff, but I keep reading the news about millions of people jamming the airports and how all the testing sites are overloaded with people who think if they test negative it’s safe to get together for the holiday. And it’s just, we’re never going to get this thing under control and the deaths are going to keep piling up, if everyone keeps thinking that it’s okay to take a little risk. You’re not risking your own life! You’re risking the lives of people you love and care about! Of course, if you’re even a sporadic reader of my blog, you already know this. Still, I keep feeling the need to put this out there, hoping it will give one more person the courage to say to their family members pressuring them to get together, “I don’t want to participate in the possible murder of grandma!”

I need to change topics.

How about a bit of a laugh at my expense?

So, last Friday after I updated my NaNoWriMo word count I told myself I could take a break to watch the new episode of Baby Yoda and His Space Dad. Wait. What? You’re telling me that isn’t the title of the show? Are you certain?

Anyway, afterward I didn’t quite feel like writing after all, and the next thing I know I was binge watching season 2 of Umbrella Academy. And I stayed up far too late doing it, which means I slept in later than I meant Saturday, which means that I didn’t get started on finalizing the grocery list until late, and then I had to run to the store later than I meant. And it being the last Saturday before Thanksgiving, the store was quite crowded, and there were all sorts of weird things they were out of.

Three different times as I was trying to maneuver through the crowded store while maintaining social distance, I found myself feeling very judgmental of people with carts overflowing with things that looking like the ingredients of an enormous Thanksgiving feast. And the third time I had that thought, it was as I was putting a can of cranberry sauce into my nearly overflowing cart. And since I was just buying stuff for a Thanksgiving dinner with just my husband and I, maybe I shouldn’t assume other people weren’t also planning just to cook for the immediate family that already lives together, right?

I eventually got into the checkout line and my huge cart of groceries turned into about three dozen smallish plastic bags of groceries. Which took a few minutes to transfer to the car. I got home, carried the first bunch of bags up, told Michael I was there, and went to haul more up. The third or fourth trip down I got to the car just as Michael was pulling a bunch of bags out and saying, “I think that’s everything.” I did a quick check, then locked to car and followed him upstairs.

Saturday night we were hosting our monthly Writers’ Night (virtually), and I had just enough time to put all the groceries away and start dinner cooking before I needed to log into the Discord server.

We had a good meeting. Three of us had things to read and there was a lot of fun talk about Thanksgiving recipes. Then we shut down early as several of us wanted to do more NaNoWriMo writing.

An hour or so later, when I was getting out a fresh can of La Croix, I realized that I didn’t remember putting my prescription away. So I looked around the kitchen, assuming I had left the little brown paper bag with the paperwork and one bottle of pills in it somewhere in there. I couldn’t find it. I double checked in the bathroom to make sure that I hadn’t put it away and simply forget.

No dice.

I search around the kitchen, dining room, living room and so forth for a number of minutes. I check in the fridge because it would be totally in character for me to pull the prescription and a bottle of milk out of a grocery bag at the same time and put them both in the fridge.

I’m starting to panic. This particular medicine only has a $5 co-pay, but the non-insurance prices is about $1200 for a month’s supply. Not something you want to lose. So reluctantly I go tell my husband that I’ve lost the prescription, and he comes out of the computer room and spends a while looking.

Now I am very certain that I saw the pharmacy bag inside one of the plastic bags we carried in from the car, but Michael decides to go check the car. He didn’t find anything. We’re both still looking underneath things and so forth. I gather three older pharmacy bags that I should have recycled weeks ago, carefully shake them before wading them up, and comment that I shouldn’t leave those laying around.

Michael then asks, “Oh? Is it a brown paper bag we’re looking for? I thought it was white…”

This prompts me to go outside to check the car. While I’m peering in the back compartment, feeling around among the reusable grocery bags that we can’t use anymore because of the pandemic, I think that it would be better if I had a flashlight. But I didn’t, so I looked in the dimly lit car for another couple of minutes before going back upstairs.

We’ve looked pretty much every possible place. I woke up my computer and started researching if there is a way to pay the medication cheaper [That answer by the way is, technically yes. With a coupon I found a place I could get a month’s supply for merely $580… which is still prohibitive].

Michael says that he’s going to check the car again. I open my mouth to suggest a flashlight, but he already has one in his hand.

A few minutes later he comes up and cheerfully announces he found it. In face, he found an entire small plastic bag which contains the pharmacy bag plus three other items: two cans of a cold brew coffee latte I like, and a jar of Tillen Farms Fire and Spice Marschino-style Cherries.

He explains even with the flashlight he almost didn’t see it. The bag and fallen behind suff and one of the plastic handles was sticking up with he could see it.

Now, the laugh. Several hours earlier (in the middle of the Writers’ Night call) I had been suddenly struck with the realization that I didn’t remember putting away the Fire and Spice Cherries (a vital ingredient for my official Thanksgiving Cocktail: the Spicy Manhattan), and I had even spend a couple minutes looking at the places where it ought to be.

And even before than, just as I was turning on the oven and firing up Discord, I had been annoyed that I couldn’t find the can of cold brew Double Espresso I had bought because I didn’t feel as if I’d had enough caffeine.

But I didn’t remember either of those missing things once I noticed the prescription wasn’t where I expected it. If I had, I might of realized that we were looking for more than just the one pharmacy bag and its contents from the grocery run.

I had apologized to Michael several times for being the absent-minding misplacer yet again. He countered by saying it was his fault. “I was the one who said Ive got the last of the groceries, after all.”

To circle back to the opening topic:

Why a negative Covid-19 test before Thanksgiving isn’t an all-clear – A negative test isn’t enough to have a safe holiday. Here’s why.

And I’m going to give the last word to Rachel Maddow…

Maddow: We Feared Susan’s Covid Would Kill Her. Your Risks Could Hurt Those You Love Most:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

A bit of this, a bit of that, and I think I need more coffee…

Cup which reads “COFFEE because adulting is hard.”

“Coffee because adulting is hard.”

I don’t live in one of the states that have run out of hospital beds due to the pandemic and is trying to ship COVID patients to neighboring states… yet. But like everywhere else in the U.S. we’ve been experiencing a big surge in cases. So this last Sunday the governor announced a return to earlier restrictions. In door dining is once again not allowed (I still don’t understand why anyone would do that–we’ve been sticking with take out or contactless delivery if we’re not cooking for ourselves). The only restriction that will change my current behavior is that occupancy levels in essential retail businesses is ratcheted down to 25% occupancy. Limits at that level will mean we’ll be back to lining up outside the store and trying to keep 6′ apart in the line.

Which we were on Monday when I went to Costco. I arrived close to opening, I was masked up, had a list, and was hopeful to get through the trip quickly. By the time I got to the front of the line, the guy managing the line said: “I feel like a bouncer at a rock concert!” The woman in front of me said something along the lines of “You’re the guy to know!” and then something else I couldn’t quite make out from 6 feet away and over the sounds of the rain. The guy managing the line then said, “Everyone’s being cool about it, even those that were caught by surprise.”

I got in. The store didn’t seem deserted, but it wasn’t super crowded, either. Most people were being good about trying to observe social distancing. I found the items on my list, got in line, and felt the need to tweet about the fact that I was in line with the only things in my cart being items on our list. The cashier who checked me out opined that the lines outside would vanish completely as soon as word got out that they were out of toilet paper and paper towels.

When I got out of the store it was raining a lot harder than it had been while I was waiting to get in. I particularly noticed that the cardboard boxes my purchases were in were beginning to get noticeably wet in that short time. I quickly loaded the back of the car and closed the tailgate.

As I had been transferring my stuff, another Subaru of similar vintage as ours pulled into the empty spot next to me. I was just turning the cart to roll it to one of the cart return racks when the guy from the other car said, “I’ll take your cart!” He was fumbling to get his mask on.

I replied. “If you want, though it might be awkward in the line.”

He looked at me like I’d grown two extra heads. I shrugged and stepped back to let him take the cart, and he rolled off, grumbling.

I got in the car and before I had taken my masks off my glasses completely fogged over. I started the car and turn up the defrosters. After a minute or two or so I realized that the windshield seemed clear but my glasses were still completely fogged. So I held my glasses in front of one of the defroster vents and waited for everything to clear up so I could drive.

I was just putting the glasses back on when the guy reappeared in the spot between our two cars, empty handed. As he climbed into his car his gaze met mine, and his unhappy expression got more angry (he’d already taken off his mask). He exclaimed, “They’re out of toilet paper!” As if it was my fault, and slammed his door.

I decided to wait another minute, and as I expected he started his vehicle right away and backed out fast.

I drove home at my usual pace. While unloading the goods, I had a little issue with the case of diced tomatoes almost falling apart in my arms as I dashed inside. It was raining really hard. Amongst the bounty I brought home was a 10-pound turkey for Thanksgiving (small enough for just the two of us) and a 10-pound bag of sweet potatoes (there will be several dishes those go into, not just for the holiday). The pantry is also once again well stocked with canned vegetables and related things.

Even though my husband has to go to work each day, I try to limit my trips out of the house. So a trip where I get us enough food to last a couple weeks again if we have to is all right.

On the other hand, I just got a notice from the pharmacy of a refill being ready, and that means over the next week or so most of the rest of my prescriptions will come up. I try to just make one trip for all of them, but sometimes (as happened a couple months ago), when I do that I get a call from the pharmacy saying that they’re going put it back one the shelf if I don’t come get it that day–or assure them that I am coming in soon.

Completely unrelated, I need to finish putting away the Halloween decorations. Should have happened earlier, but, well, time has become a fog.

Spoons, coping mechanisms, and coffee

“been making coffee at home instead of getting starbucks for two months which according to economists should’ve made me a billionaire by now so what is happening” —@MattBellassai

Click to embiggen

For quite some time now I’ve been, of necessity, thinking an awful lot about coping mechanisms. Because we’re living in high anxiety times, there is a lot of uncertainty about everyone’s health, livelihoods, and so forth. Many more people than usual are facing an existential threat directly caused by certain politicians and their base supporters. Many of us have been facing existential threats at the ballot box our entire lives, but no matter who long we’ve been doing that, it still adds to the load of anxieties and worries one has to keep track of.

Even though I am an introvert, this current situation has made me acutely aware of just how much regular contact with friends has, in the past, contributed to my ability to cope. We’ve been able to mitigate that in a couple of ways. Every month we have continued to have Writers’ Night, for instance, we’ve just been doing it virtually in a voice chat on my Discord server. Even those months when no one has anything new to read (and it is difficult being creative when you’re dealing with all this very justified anxiety), just getting to hear familiar voice and chat has been a blessing.

My gaming group had been meeting on Discord for much longer (some of the players live about an hour and a half drive north of my place, one lives nearly a five hour drive south) than the pandemic. Previously once or twice a year some of us would make a road trip out of game day, so we could play in person, but we’d been pulling it off online fairly well. Again, it’s a time I get to chat and laugh and otherwise spend time with some dear friends, and I’m really appreciating it.

I’ve been quarantining since mid-February (before the first identified case in the U.S., but while the threat was in the news, I woke up one morning with a cough — by the time the cough went away just a bit over two weeks later, the corporate overlords had issued the directive that everyone who could work from home should do so as much as possible), but there are still aspects of it that surprise me.

For instance, how fast I go through a bag of coffee beans.

Before the quarantine I only made coffee at home on the weekends and on work-from-home days. I was only scheduled to work from home twice a week, so that meant at least three days a week that I was exclusively drinking the company coffee. In theory, that should mean that I’m using up coffee beans almost twice as fast as before, right?

Nope.

I was going through coffee almost three times as fast. When i mentioned that to an acquaintance online a few months ago, they pointed out that (at that time) my husband was also at home full time, and I wasn’t taking that into account.

I hadn’t laughed so hard in months. Seriously.

My husband doesn’t just not drink coffee. My husband positively loathes coffee. (Which doesn’t stop him from buying me big lattes to deliver to me if we’re at a convention together and I’m staffing a table or something, but that’s another topic).

I wound up in a discussion about coffee with a group of coworkers about two months ago and thats when I actually thought about it and realized something that I should have noticed but just hadn’t. When I’m in the office I drink at minimum one mug of coffee or one mug of tea every hour (and there are a couple of hours in most day where I’d slip an extra mug in for reasons). Typical mug holds 8 ounces of coffee, that’s 64-80 ounces of caffinated beverage per office day.

But at home I would usually make one pot of coffee, and that was it. That’s only 60 ounces of coffee on those days. Similarly, I usually only made a single pot per day on weekends.

I think part of the reason I was able to get by on only 60 ounces a day on work-from-home days is because they were usually less stressful. Even on infuriating days, the fact that I could step away from my desk and step outside on my veranda made the stress easier to manage.

Now what I typically do is make a pot on the morning of the first day of work, then some point in the afternoon I make a second pot, and drink as much as half of it. One the second work day of the week, I first reheat and drink the leftover from the second pot (a notion I know makes a lot of people shudder, sorry), then I make a fresh pot and finish it off.

And I think the reason is that being able to step out on the veranda or whatever is no longer a novel or special thing. So the stresses of work (more than some of which have gotten worse during the pandemic) just pile up exactly the same way as they used to only do when I was stuck in the office.

And if I’m feeling frazzled on the weekend and reach the end of the coffee pot early in the afternoon? Guess what? I make a second pot on those days, too.

So, before the pandemic, working from home two days a week and then making coffee at home on the weekend, I was usually making four pots of coffee a week. Now I’m making at least 9 pots a week.

I’m trying to mitigate this is some ways. Some months back I stopped making coffee on Sundays at all, switching to making tea in my infuser pot (this also gave me a regular opportunity to run the coffee carafe and other washable parts of the coffee maker through the dishwasher instead of only doing just a perfunctory rinse each day). Tea is still a caffinated drink, but it’s generally lower in caffeine, so that helps me back off the weekly total a bit. I’ve also sometimes stopped myself from making a second pot and instead turned on the electric kettle to switch to single cups of tea made from bags.

I can’t cut it out completely, because I’m sure you’ve seen the memes that say that coffee is a warm, delicious alternative to hating everyone in the morning? Well, sometimes, “hating” is a euphemism for “murder” — so, don’t even think of suggesting that I give up the coffee altogether… because I know how to hide a body.

Tuesday Tidbits 10/13/2020: Endangering health and democracy

I had a very busy weekend, and never managed to sit down to do a Weekend Update, even though there were a lot of things worth posting. Particularly since I thought it was a better use of the blog to post something for National Coming Out Day and for Indigenous Peoples Day. So I started assembling a post-weekeng update, and realized that my collection of memes and political cartoons to use in future posts is overflowing, again, so today you get a subset of those surplus images, as I post those that apply to the news links below.

Enjoy!

Bart Simpson writing on a chalkboard “Eric Trump stole money from kids cancer charities.”

The whole family was involved…

How Donald Trump Shifted Kids-Cancer Charity Money Into His Business.

“When the boot lickers create a powerful visual metaphor for stripping away the illusion of freedom to reveal the police state.” A woman holds up a poster showing a hand peeling away the U.S. flag to show a blue lives matter flag behind it.

Michigan sheriff defends militia members charged in plot to kidnap Gov. Whitmer. Domestic terrorists have to stick together, after all…

House panel examines white supremacy in law enforcement.

“The first thing Trump just did when he returned to the White House while he was highly infectious with COVID was take off his mask... while he was around his staff. He. Does. Not. Care. About. Us.”

The Entire Presidency Is a Superspreading Event – Down in the polls, high on steroids, and clinging to good health while endangering everyone else’s.

WEIRD: Trump Boards Air Force One Through Cargo Hold Instead Of Normal Stairs – En route to a Florida MAGA rally, Trump boards AF1 via cargo steps to the cargo area of the plane.

The Time Nixon’s Cronies Tried to Overturn a Presidential Election – The gambit was cynical and disruptive, but in the end it didn’t work.

Fake Ballot Drop Boxes Have Popped Up In Southern California. They’re Not Legal.

California Republican Party admits installing unofficial ballot drop-off boxes. State officials say they’re illegal.

Elie Mystal Cuts Through GOP Lies About Amy Coney Barrett – Amy Coney Barrett was nominated for two reasons: To gut the ACA and to overturn Roe v Wade.

Democrats Hijack Republicans’ Sham Coney Barrett Hearing – It was all preexisting conditions, all the time as Democrats ignored Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett and turned today’s hearing into a long campaign ad.

Pete Buttigieg shreds Amy Coney Barrett’s opening statement for Supreme Court nomination – Out former presidential primary candidate Pete Buttigieg has proven himself to be a valuable tool for Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s campaign.

LGBT Twitter users tease far-right group by taking over Proud Boys hashtag.

Proud Boys Website, Online Store Dropped by Web Host.

Proud Boys are a dangerous ‘white supremacist’ group say US agencies – Law enforcement have shown concerns about the group’s menace to minority groups and police officers, and its conspiracy theories.

Trump campaign will hold a “closeted” LGBTQ Pride rally in Pennsylvania tomorrow.

A Message from Your Friendly Local Mail Carrier:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Oppressed Oppressors: Supporters of Prez Super-spreader feeling the pain of his reckless, moronic decisions

It wasn’t long after the news that the pussy-grabber-in-chief had tested positive for COVID-19 that I saw the messages praying for his swift recovery, et cetera. All of which that passed through my social media streams I carefully avoiding replying to, lest I say something wrong. I did retweet a person wishing that the almighty show trump exactly the same compassion and grace that Trump has ever expended to others. I made a similar comment myself as a follow-up. But at no point did I say I was glad he was sick or express any hope for a bad outcome.

And honestly, I haven’t seen much of that at all. I’ve seen a lot of people talking about why they are having trouble mustering any sympathy. And I’ve been one of the people explaining why I have virtually no sympathy in this case. I’ve even seen people explain how much they don’t want him to die precisely because they want him to live long enough to face criminal prosecution for at least some of his crimes.

But this has not stopped his supporters from wailing and screaming at all of us “evil libs” for not showing the compassion and respect they think he observes.

Here’s why I’m barely restraining myself for tracking them down to laugh in their faces: just last week they were cheering and metaphorically dancing in the streets over the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. That’s only one of the reasons, though. Just to list a few more:

  • President Super-spreader put thousands of children in cages at the border, and has let diseases run rampant through the camps,
  • his minions are asking the Supreme Court to overturn Obamacare even while he himself is getting treated in a government hospital, every penny of his care paid for by the U.S. taxpayer,
  • the Russian president put out and has paid several bounties to terrorists for killing U.S. soldiers, and Prez Super-spreader has refused to even broach the topic, let alone express any sympathy to the families of assassinated soldiers,
  • when, at a white supremacist rally, one of the Prez’s supporters drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors and killed a young woman, the Prez was too busy trying to say that there were many fine people among those white supremacists to ever express sympathy to the family of the slain woman,
  • also while arguing with reporters about those same rallies, he kept using the word “us” while referring to the white supremacists,
  • over 214,000 Americans have died in this pandemic, most of those deaths could have been prevented if the Prez hadn’t decided that the disease was only killing people in Blue States so it didn’t matter,
  • over 214,000 Americans have died, and just two weeks ago the Prez was saying that the disease hurts virtually nobody.
  • he knew he was positive for the virus before the Presidential Debate, but he didn’t warn anyone who was at the debate, he attended a fundraiser and a rally afterward during which he refused to wear a mask, and even when his symptoms became bad enough to scare him, it never occurred to him to call his opponent in that debate and inform him (you know, the thing that any decent human being would do),
  • et cetera
  • et cetera
  • et cetera

I could keep going and going.

The simple fact is that the man responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths and counting (and that’s only Americans who have died of the pandemic, he’s responsible for a lot more) does not deserve one fucking iota of pity for getting a disease which he allowed to run rampant across the country. A disease he pretended didn’t matter. A disease he claimed could be cured if people drank bleach. A disease he insisted would magically disappear any second now.

And I’m not the only one who feels that way: The ‘Fuck Your Feelings’ Crowd Wants a Pity Party for Trump.

The other thing that’s driving me to distraction on this is the reaction of the professional pundit class. As soon as they learned about Prez Super-spreader’s diagnosis, suddenly all of the non-Fox news outlets had dire warnings about a constitutional crisis if the Prez is incapacitated—because there are a bunch of gaps in the process laid out in the 25th amendment for dealing with the incapacity of a president. One of the biggies being that there is no process for what could happen if the Veep gets seriously ill, too.

And I’ve listened to one podcast where some experts are dismayed that all the non-trump-cultists aren’t reacting to their dire warnings of a constitutional crisis.

You know why? Because we’ve been in the middle of a constitutional crisis for nearly four years now. We, the ordinary people on progressive side of the political spectrum have been screaming at the news media, our congressional representatives, and anyone else we thought might help—some for only the last few months, some of us for years.

Day one he refused to obey the Emoluments Clause of the constitution as well as the The Federal Anti-Nepotism Statute. He repeatedly suggested that he should be able to serve an extra long term because people were supposedly mean to him the first couple of years in office. He then switched to suggested that the coming election results can’t be trusted. He has repeatedly claimed that he would not be bound to accept a loss at the ballot box if he decided the process wasn’t fair. He has repeatedly (and in official communications) threatened to illegally send troops into cities and states where he believed officials and citizens oppose his policies. He has illegally sent troops into at least one such city. He was repeatedly refused to say that there would be a peaceful transition if he loses the election.

All of those were constitutional crises that should have been engendering dire headlines long, long ago.

The only people who care about his blatant violation of the very foundations of our form of government at all have been worrying about this for years while the pundits have been acting as if it’s all some kind of game or horse race.

I’m glad something finally got their attention, but I have lost all respect for those that took this long to start pulling their heads out of whoever’s orifice they’ve been stuck inside.

Catch up, guys. The rest of us have been dreading and bracing for the chaos.

Weekend Update 9/12/2020: It’s 2020 Everywhere…

“It's no longer 5 o'clock somewhere. It's 2020 everywhere. Drink whenever you want!”

“It’s no longer 5 o’clock somewhere. It’s 2020 everywhere. Drink whenever you want!”

First let’s start with some good news, since there seems to be precious little of that these days: Canada reports zero COVID-19 deaths for first time since March. At least some countries are handling this thing better than we are.

So, you may remember that some of us were sharing stories about how Malania Trump oversaw tearing up the White House Rose Garden that has for decades adhered the Jackie Kennedy’s design (including digging up a bunch of healthy crabapple trees and who knows what actually happened to them) and replaced it with something that was super ugly? Well… Three weeks after its unveiling, Melania’s rose garden is dying and needs emergency repairs.

But what else do we expect from people who are already known to never pay their subcontractors?

Speaking of the corrupt one… Donald Trump stole art pieces from the ambassador’s residence in France.

And this reaction to the “revelation” that Trump knew the pandemic was deadly but didn’t care is spot on: Oh, Come On. The Only Thing Trump Cared About ‘Panicking’ Was The Stock Market – We know Trump only cares about himself, and what affects him. Let’s stop pretending, shall we?

Meanwhile, in my neck of the woods, I’m staying indoors, have the windows closed, have all the air cleaners going, and hope that the weather turns soon: Dangerous air quality as smoke from fires in California and Oregon pours into Western Washington.

Seattle air among world’s worst: How to check your town’s air quality and protect yourself from wildfire smoke – Saturday morning, air quality ranged from unhealthy for sensitive groups to very unhealthy in western Washington, according to AirNow.

Related, it would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous: ‘Antifa Arson’ Hoax Rumors Spread About Wildfires In Besieged West Coast Areas – Right wing extremists are doing all they can to pin the west coast wildfires on liberals, Black Lives Matter, and Antifa. The “proof”? Police scanner recording where rangers, firefighters, and various levels of police are exchanging information and refer to territory that is under control of the Federal Bureau of Land Management (a rather large swath of each of the western states) and “BLM land”. The idiot MAGA-boys think that forest rangers are talking about Black Lives Matter protestors whenever they refer to federal land. Oy!

And I’m just going to close with this:

Wildfires on US West Coast turn day into night | DW News:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Okay, not quite done. I decided the above meme needed a bit of Betty White, so I made this:

Weekend Update 8/29/2020: The virus and the fascism are the enemy, not the masks

This is going to be a slightly different Weekend Update than usual. There is a lot of news that I came across after I finished this week’s Friday Five post on Thursday night, but as is often the case, a lot of it is either salacious or outrage-inducing of otherwise bad news. It’s also all over the map with various topics and sometimes the scatter shot of “and that’s f-ed up too!” can multiply the outrage. So I’m going to focus on only a couple of topics, and a certain amount of it is good, scientific information that you can actually use.

I’ll start with that. If you don’t want to be outraged, don’t read past the bold “Meanwhile” below.

COVID-19 Is Transmitted Through Aerosols. We Have Enough Evidence, Now It Is Time to Act.

When it comes to COVID-19, the evidence overwhelmingly supports aerosol transmission, and there are no strong arguments against it. For example, contact tracing has found that much COVID-19 transmission occurs in close proximity, but that many people who share the same home with an infected person do not get the disease. To understand why, it is useful to use cigarette or vaping smoke (which is also an aerosol) as an analog. Imagine sharing a home with a smoker: if you stood close to the smoker while talking, you would inhale a great deal of smoke. Replace the smoke with virus-containing aerosols, which behave very similarly, and the impact is similar: the closer you are to someone releasing virus-carrying aerosols, the more likely you are to breathe in larger amounts of virus. We know from detailed, rigorous studies that when individuals talk in close proximity, aerosols dominate transmission and droplets are nearly negligible.

If you are standing on the other side of the room, you would inhale significantly less smoke. But in a poorly ventilated room, the smoke will accumulate, and people in the room may end up inhaling a lot of smoke over time. Talking, and especially singing and shouting increase aerosol exhalation by factors of 10 and 50, respectively. Indeed, we are finding that outbreaks often occur when people gather in crowded, insufficiently ventilated indoor spaces, such as singing at karaoke parties, cheering at clubs, having conversations in bars, and exercising in gyms. Superspreading events, where one person infects many, occur almost exclusively in indoor locations and are driving the pandemic. These observations are easily explained by aerosols, and are very difficult or impossible to explain by droplets or fomites.
—Jose-Luis Jimeez, Professor of Chemistry and a Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado-Boulde

The killer phrase is here: “many people who share the same home with an infected person do not get the disease.” (emphasis added)

There’s more: We Need to Talk About Ventilation – How is it that six months into a respiratory pandemic, we are still doing so little to mitigate airborne transmission?

And: Hygiene Theater Is a Huge Waste of Time – People are power scrubbing their way to a false sense of security.

Basically, masks are a big help if you have to go out and be around people, washing your hands frequently is also good, but ventilation is more important that scrubbing every inanimate object in sight. Dr. Jimenez sums it up as: Avoid Crowding, Indoors, low Ventilation, Close proximity, long Duration, Unmasked, Talking/singing/Yelling.

So, don’t go to bars, don’t hang out in church, don’t got to concerts, don’t go to theatres… and wear the mask correctly!

Meanwhile…

More Portlanders Share Experiences of Being Snatched—and Detained—by Federal Police.

Feds in Portland Now Unrestrained in Removing Journalists at Protests.

‘Horrifying Situation’: ACLU Condemns Arrest Of Protesters By Officers In Unmarked Vehicles.

If you don’t understand that this is full fascism, direct attacks on the fundamental idea of freedom, I don’t know what to say.

Weekend Update 8/1/2020: Like a puff of smoke — and not the good kind

“It appears we have some breaking news.” “Good lord, what the fuck now?”

“It appears we have some breaking news.” “Good lord, what the fuck now?”

And it is time, once again, for a post in which I share news stories that either didn’t make the cut for this week’s Friday Five, or broke after I composed said Friday Five post, or provide updated information to a story I’ve linked in a previous post. Along with a bit more commentary that I usually make in a Friday Five post. Buckle up, because at least one of this is quite a bumpy ride! Let’s get started, shall we?

First, this story really needed about ten uses of the word “finally” in its headline: Twitter finally permanently bans white supremacist David Duke – Duke’s Twitter account was “permanently suspended” for violating the company’s policy against hateful conduct, a spokesperson for the social network says. David Duke, Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, white supremacist politician, white nationalist, unapologetic misogynist and homophobe, et cetera, and ad nauseum, was violating Twitter’s policy before Twitter existed. He violated it on day one of his membership. He violated it hundreds if not thousands or tens of thousands of times during the ten f-ing years that he was on the platform before they banned him. He is just one of thousands of examples of why none of us believe that most of the social media networks actually believe the words in their own code of conduct.

Moving on…

So, remember how a few weeks ago hundreds of very prominent accounts on twitter were hacked and posted a Bitcoin scam? Well: Three people have been charged for Twitter’s huge hack, and a Florida teen is in jai. John Gruber (daringfireball) summed it up best: “It appears Twitter wasn’t the victim of anything vaguely approaching an expert caper. These kids are such dingbats they used Bitcoin accounts opened in their own names. Makes me wonder what actual expert hackers are getting away with on Twitter.”

And moving on…

How Jared Kushner’s Secret Testing Plan “Went Poof Into Thin Air” – This last spring, a team working under the president’s son-in-law produced a plan for an aggressive, coordinated national COVID-19 response that could have brought the pandemic under control. So why did the White House spike it in favor of a shambolic 50-state response?. Here’s the killer quote from the article:

Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said the expert.

So here’s what derailed a national plan: one of the asshole white supremacist friends of Trump’s incompetent son-in-law notice that it appeared that the virus was sparing red states while spreading in blue states. Apparently not understanding how either people or viruses work, they thought this meant that only anti-Trump voters would get sick and die. The White House saw this difference as way out of the crisis that required very little effort with lots of potential political gains.

Instead of instituting a nation-wide testing plan, the White House started talking about reopening for business with the idea that the economy would be revived while the virus continued to ravish cities and states ruled by the enemy, the Dems. Jared Kushner and the other White House ghouls was behind this plan, because they didn’t understand how contagious diseases worked. They really thought that the virus would stay in the blue states because… um, well, there is no because…

So the orange idiot made fun of the governors on the blue states and eventually stopped hosting the White House briefings. He resumed having the briefings only when the virus started killing people in states and districts that polling indicated was the home of his base. Now he’s telling people to wear masks. The problem is, he’s already got all the attack dogs of his base screaming about how masks and other measures to stop the spread of the disease are a marxist plot—and once they get a notion like that in their heads, you can’t dislodge it.

And that is why we’re screwed.

Weekend Update 7/11/2020: Ignorant selfish pricks

Time once again to visit stories that broke after I posted this week’s Friday Five or represent a new development in a story I’ve linked to and/or that I’ve ranted or otherwise expressed opinions upon before. This week supplemented with some graphics I collected for possible inclusion in blog posts which are just going to sit on the hard disk unless I upload a whole bunch of them at once. Let’s just jump in, shall we?

Roger Stone is an ass. He is a criminal. He is almost certainly a traitor. But he did all of that to help the alleged president, so of course just before he is to serve an extremely light sentence for the crimes he was convicted of, the narcissistic fascist occupying the oval office has commuted his sentence. And of course he had to spew a bunch of lies while doing it: Debunking 12 lies and falsehoods from the White House statement on Roger Stone’s commutation.

I mean, this really is beyond the pale. Even Trump’s toady, so-called attorney general William Barr had said that Stone’s case was a “righteous conviction.” If any single Republican in Congress had a fraction of a thread of a fibre of morality they would be condemning this. And that’s not just me saying that: What Could Be More Impeachable Than Clemency for Roger Stone? – Trump’s latest abuse of power is so flagrant that Republicans should want to punish him for their own self-preservation. But they won’t.

Edited to add: Well, I’ll be! Romney: Stone Commutation Is “Historic Corruption”.
And: GOP senator Pat Toomey says Trump commuting Stone was a ‘mistake’.


“Hey, do you remember when we used to wear hats with Obama slogans, have Obama flags outside our houses, and constantly go to Obama rallies in non-election years? Oh, that's righg, we did none of that shit because we weren't in a fucking cult.”

(Click to embiggen)

Speaking of lies from the alleged president, there was supposed to be another rally, this time in New Hampshire. The rally was suddenly canceled, supposedly because of weather, but no one who isn’t a Fox News cultist believes it: Concern over turnout was factor in postponing Trump rally, GOP advisers say – Fears that the coronavirus and the weather would dampen the attendance helped postpone the New Hampshire re-election event. The Tulsa Rally was a big embarrassment, with a very empty stadium, no overflow crowd, and now even Republican officials in Oklahoma are admitting the only thing the rally accomplished was to cause a new spike in Covid-19 cases. So the campaign doesn’t want a repeat of that. Not every Republican is toeing the line on the excuse, though: Trump campaign postpones New Hampshire rally after Tulsa embarrassment – Ex-RNC head Michael Steele calls out Trump lazy excuse.


The masks speak…

The vast majority of Americans are trying to be smart. We are trying to practice social distancing. We are wearing masks when we go out. The problem is a minority of stupid, evil, mother-fuckers. And I know that if too many of them get sick that puts health care workers at risk… but me thinking that politicians like this are only getting what the deserve is NOT what’s putting those workers at risk: Commissioner who Voted Against Masks in Critical Condition with COVID-19. If he dies, he had it coming. And I will not apologize for pointing out that fact. Speaking of people who had it coming: 26 lawmakers have tested positive for COVID-19 in Mississippi state legislature outbreak.

“Canadians pulling the 'Masks reduce oxygen intake' trope. Imma stop you right there and remind you that 5/12 months a year the air is so cold it hurts your face and we adapt by wearing multiple layers of scarves and no one has ever died of scarf related hypoxia.”

(Click to embiggen)

And while I mostly point out the failings of my fellow Americans, it is important to remember that we don’t have a monopoly on either stupidity or ignorant conservatism. Wear a mask, and stop being a drama queen! Surgical teams wear masks far more restrictive than the simple cloth masks we’re asking for–and they complete hours long complicated surgeries with no one passing out, et cetera. Wearing a mask is different than not wearing one, but it isn’t onerous, it isn’t damaging to your health, and it isn’t something you can’t get used to. And it does save the lives of other people. Stop being ignorant, selfish pricks, and wear a mask!


That’s all the bad news I can deal with this morning. Let’s look at something less serious, shall we?

Lin-Manuel Miranda And Stephen Cobert Perform “Button!”:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Midweek Update 7/1/2020: Time for more words and images

I save memes and infographs and similar images all the time in hopes of using them to illustrate a blog post sometime I alwasy gather far more than I actually use. So here are a bunch that really need sharing: