Mask-less

I ran a small experiment on FB the other day to prove an idea. I asked, “Why did you trust the CDC recommendation to wear a mask but don’t trust them now saying it’s ok not to wear one?1 And it worked in favor of the discussion that the CDC under trump was constantly being meddled with but is now being run based on the science with no interference from the Biden HHS appointee.

The answers were varied but pretty much what I expected. A common thread was many would continue “out of an abundance of caution.” And to be clear, I’m not trying to shame anyone or even be judgmental. My thoughts couldn’t be further from that. You should do what makes you feel safe. It did validate my theory though. Human beings have a hard time updating their moral/ethical standards. They do not adapt well to standards that changes too quickly. It cuts to the core of how we process our reality. When the idea of right and wrong changes too quickly many people develop of sense of disbelief. This disbelief can lead to fear, anger, shock, judgment, and/or even a larger disconnect from the world around them. When you add in a lack of knowledge (willful or otherwise), religion, or other biases it only serves to increase the disconnect.

Just as one example, look how many gay men fought the idea of PrEP.2 PrEP has been around for years now and has consistently and repeatedly proven to be a better preventative measure to the spread of HIV than condoms. However, there are still contingents within the community who know better. The latter is often based more on biases and personal judgment than science, but that isn’t the point today. The triggers are deeper than than. After 3 decades of having the idea that “safe sex is sex with a condom” pounded into our heads, many men (and women) simply can’t process the idea of it suddenly not being applicable anymore. I see it more in older gay men, many of which witnessed the agony and suffering caused by AIDS and it’s devastation on our community. To wake up one day and be told, “condoms are fine but bareback is now perfectly fine IF you use this drug” simply does not compute. In our brains, we “know” what works. We understand the simple idea of placing a barrier between ourselves and others as a form of protection. The idea of removing that physical barrier we can see in favor of a drug treatment barrier3 just “seems wrong” to many.

Another common answer was people “couldn’t trust others to be honest about their vaccination status.” That is an admirable approach; however, why is it your responsibility to protect those who are willfully ignorant or refuse to get vaccinated, especially since we don’t do this for other vaccinations? Why is this one suddenly different? Is it really caution or the disbelief in a suddenly changing moral standard? Hmmm? And looking at the risk, it is no longer an equal equation. We collectively make a social contract to protect each other by each person respectively doing their part. When it was equal you saw me constantly encouraging folks to wear their masks and social distance. I’m all about harm reduction. As a vaccinated person I’m not really keeping anyone else safer now by wearing my mask.4  As an unvaccinated person, you should continue to wear your mask and avoid overly crowded places. However, if you refuse to get vaccinated, it is no longer an equal equation and you are shifting the burden onto others. The social contract is broken.

If you are still worried for yourself due to other health issues that is certainly ok. Again, at no point is this discussion meant to dissuade anyone from doing what they feel is right for themselves.

Vaccinations are readily available almost everywhere in the US now and availability is increasing every day. Vaccinations are free and you can now get a free Uber/Lyft ride to your local vaccination sites. You have no excuse not to get vaccinated. We have so many doses of the vaccines now we are sending them to other countries still in dire need.

The last popular argument was a lack of trust in the CDC over pressure to reopen. I do think the CDC feels some pressure to ‘open up’ society, but not at the expense of a rising death toll. They know some will still become infected and potentially even die. However, our safe guards are about harm reduction. From a medical viewpoint, we will have to COVID in our lives for years to come. The degree of danger from it is lower every day now. We have reached an important threshold, even at just 50% immunity. Our emergency response systems, including hospitals, are unlikely to be overwhelmed by new patients. It is likely we will eventually reach over 60% of the country being vaccinated, 70% if we are lucky. And while still below the “herd immunity” threshold, that just means, as alluded above,  we will end up with yearly booster shots, much like the flu virus. It could be with us indefinitely due to variants or just a few years until we reach a real herd immunity. Eventually, those not vaccinated are likely to contract it. They could also suffer reinfection from variants, but again much like the flu, they are less likely to be hospitalized or die after surviving a first infection.

There are always other health variables for an individual to consider, so you should do what makes you feel safe. For myself, I trust the science and am comfortable with my decision to go mask-less where it is allowed. I think many of us aren’t really worried as much as we are conflicted on an evolving standard.

  1. If you came here from the FB post, thanks for your response. []
  2. Pre-Exposure Prophylactic []
  3. that many often do not understand completely []
  4. Yes, there are exceptions but those are in the small minority. []

January 6, 2021

Well, I think we can all agree yesterday was a total shit show! Armed conspiracy nuts descended en-masse on the capitol, after days & weeks of being fed propaganda & lies by our out-going president, congressional leaders, and propaganda media. This day will go down as a dark stain on American history.

We all witnessed it unfold for the world to see. These patriots traitors committed seditious acts and deserve to be prosecuted once the new administration takes office. Even worse, the active president refused to act allowing the situation to go on for hours before enough forces would be mobilized to quell the insurrection.1  And let us not forget the inept mismanagement of the capitol building grounds that allowed for this. The entire episode carried on long enough many people just wandered away vs being expelled. To say it was an embarrassing day for our country would be an understatement. If anything, it was the perfect example of our current president’s failures.

We did finally see order restored and the ceremonial act to certify votes was completed. It still had it’s own drama, as over 100 house republicans pushed their fake narratives during the process. At least the senate had enough common sense to drop all but one of their remaining fake grievances with the electoral college results. They all knew nothing could change the outcome of the election.

History will remember trump as the corrupt selfish childish man he is. It will not be kind to this traitorous fool. And now that he is about to lose his immunity from prosecution, history will also remember what comes next. We witnessed a man-child act out of fear and desperation to try to hold onto power. His scorched-Earth approach has failed spectacularly.

History will also remember these fools who fell for this dangerous propaganda. It will remember the seditious acts of a deluded group of fools. It will painstakingly paint their racism, ignorance, and bias into the history books. I take great comfort in knowing they will not be remembered as “patriots”. No, they will be remembered as a bunch of ignorant social media warriors who made it as far as they did only because of inept mismanagement of the capitol grounds.

I eagerly await President-elect Biden’s inauguration.2  He was not my candidate of choice; however, he is proving to be just what America needs right now. Hopefully, he will be able to restore many of the democratic safeguards dangerously eroded by trump and his cronies.

Hope springs eternal…3

  1. Several news outlets reported it was Pence who authorized the National Guard, even though that power rests squarely with the president. It is important to remember D.C. is not a state yet []
  2. On my birthday no less! []
  3. This post has been updated to correct my reference to the white house instead of the capitol building []

Taught

It is about this time of year you start seeing people lamenting how terrible the year has been and how “they are ready for the new year.” Somehow the new year will be better. I’m usually not in this camp, but clearly that has changed this year.

I think we can all safely say 2020 has been absolute dumpster fire! It started out ok but just ran right down the shitter as things progressed. It certainly has been educational for me. I only wish I could say in a good way. My enduring faith in humanity has definitely been challenged this year.

We’ve got these insidious behind the scenes machinations trying to destroy our way of life. The greedy and power hungry are pulling the strings of our ‘leaders’ while the general populace languishes in poverty. Said population is often so focused on survival they can’t see they are being used as pawns. And seeing some of the most needy in our society support the very same people hurting them is painful to witness. More so, it is a disturbing example of history repeating itself. Rome is definitely burning, folks. To polish off the trifecta, we have the indifferent. These are the people who are well off enough to be completely immersed in the their own little bubble of existence. Occasionally, tidbits of information pierces said bubble but there is no filter to determine it’s accuracy or relevance. At some point a “working knowledge” arises from which all their decisions are based for good or bad. These are usually where you find the Karens of the world. Pity the soul that incurs their wrath by causing them any level of inconvenience.

I am not even sure what my frame of mind would be right now had I not been able to get back in the gym. I had gotten to a point about 5 months in where I wasn’t doing well. I’m sure I looked fine on the outside, but I wasn’t. But, as Elle Woods would say, “exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy, happy people don’t shoot their husbands.”  And I’m referring to the endorphins, not my husband. lol  Being back in the gym has really helped lift my spirits and pulled me out of being depressed.

Even as I sit here writing this I am struck by my own privilege. I am fortunate to have the opportunity and comfort to sit here whining about this shitty year. I know that and for so many it has been that much harder. I wish I could say that doesn’t necessarily make the impact of this year any less painful. So yeah, I can’t wait for it to be over. I’m hoping the new year is better. I mean, hell. It can’t get much worse, right?1

Hope does springs eternal…

  1. Don’t answer that []

Herd

So today, the official response from the Whitehouse (WH) is they now endorse herd immunity as a regimen to combat the spread of covid-19.

First, here is the definition of “herd immunity”:

the resistance to the spread of a contagious disease within a population that results if a sufficiently high proportion of individuals are immune to the disease, especially through vaccination.

“the level of vaccination needed to achieve herd immunity varies by disease but ranges from 83 to 94 percent”

Webster’s dictionary

Based on that, herd immunity is currently impossible. We cannot use herd immunity as a treatment regimen because we don’t have a vaccine!

The WH’s deliberate misinterpretation of the idea is to do nothing. Just let everyone be exposed and see who lives and dies. That is NOT herd immunity. This approach pushes the death toll into the millions, not the low hundreds of thousands like we have now. Just one percent of the US population, just one (1) percent, is over three (3) million people!  If we jump that up to five (5) percent, the death toll is just under 17 million people.

For perspective, one percent is more than the entire population of Phoenix, AZ. Five percent is more than the entire population of the New York City metro area. And this does not take into account the millions more who will struggle with lingering illness for weeks or months.

Even if you’re dumb and deaf, you can understand how insanely stupid and dangerous this is.

Voting has never been more important. It is heartening to see many cities are reporting record numbers of registered voters as well as early voting. Vote like your life depends on it because it just might this time.

Election

I try to keep politics out of my blog but it has never been harder than these past 4 years. I know if I were still at it prolifically, I’d have lost the battle long ago. Thankfully, life keeps me distracted enough on social media ranting about politics.

As we approach the election, I’m concerned for our way of life. I remember being worried way back when Romney ran for POTUS. Remember that? Yeah, good times. lol Fast forward to the bar being lowered so low as to be underground, we get to see what a real threat to our democracy looks like. The man has shown nothing but disregard for the rule of law, a basic understanding of how government works, and any sense of decency. We now how multiple instances of his own words telling us what he thinks of the country. Everything from calling our troops suckers and losers and to how truly deadly covid-19 really is…IN HIS OWN WORDS! And yet, he is still polling in a region that could get him re-elected. If enough good people do nothing he will too. Make no mistake, it is not a guarantee that he will lose in November. Granted, polls tend to be skewed toward older generations, but do not take the possibility lightly. We all laughed when he was a nominee and look what that got us.

That said, I truly believe we have a good chance of voting him out of office. Not only has he alienated many of his previous followers, but even many staunch republicans have turned against him. He is dismantling our democracy and leading to the destruction of our way of life. People are motivated to get him out of office. He and his crooked cronies know this too and are plotting to steal the election. It came out this week the Whitehouse has hired an army of attorneys to contest election results in most of the ‘swing states’.  The military won’t support him so they are now pushing to get a uber conservative (and freakishly religious) judge pushed thru onto the SCOTUS. Without any significant voting fraud cases in the last two decades, they are pushing full steam ahead with lies about voter fraud and vote theft. Forgetting for a moment, he encouraged people in several states to commit a felony by voting more than once, he is desperate to sell a narrative our votes can’t be trusted.

Never in my lifetime did I think I’d witness such a blatant act of criminal fraud from a sitting president. Nor did I ever think the American people would stand idly by and let it happen. It is frightening how disconnected so many people are from what is happening. And when they realize it, it will be too late. Our democracy is in tatters right now. If we don’t get out and vote, it could all be gone sooner than we think.

I certainly hope you are registered to vote and will do so. It is vital that we all vote and let our voices be heard. We must make the number so overwhelming from every possible angle, he can’t overturn the will of the people.

“Ma Freedums”

Only in ‘murica do we argue against the entire scientific community1 on proper precautions to avoid the continued spread of the COVID-19 virus. And because we live in a economy with zero safe-guards or systems to survive this kind of crisis, many are forced into the false choice of opening up everything to ‘save’ jobs and the economy or close everything and keep people safe but let the economy crash. This is what comes from unregulated capitalism aka greed.

The right wing propaganda campaign has convinced 10’s of thousands of Americans the pandemic is hoax, and only when it bites them in the ass do they suddenly realize it isn’t. Forgetting a hoax would require the complete and total cooperation of the global medical community, counted in the low millions of people, the rest of the free world is already recovering from the pandemic and slowly reopening their economies. Meanwhile, our new cases and deaths are setting new records almost weekly now.

And when it isn’t ‘hoax’, it is a conspiracy. Depending on which version you read, it was deliberately spread from China, created in a lab who knows where, a giant ploy by the Democrats to throw the election, and/or [insert famous person’s name here] ploy for world subjugation. A global pandemic just to get 45 out of office? You’d rather believe that than the cold hard truth?

Then we get to the mask propaganda, which has reached levels previously relegated to the Hilary/pizzgate drama. Only in ‘murica is being required to wear a mask to protect yourself and others considered tyranny, a democratic ploy, a sign of the end times, an enactment of a world order meant to enslave all humans, or taking away ‘my freedums’. Take your pick.

If you get your news primarily from social media, it is easy to think the majority of people feel this way. Actually, thru repeated polls most people consistently support the restrictions and understand why they are necessary. Unfortunately, the idiots go out and put us all at risk so they can’t just be ignored.

The tyranny theory is usually reserved for the “coming for my guns” crowd. You know the ones. The incels, the darkweb conspirators, or propagandists who go out of their way to correlate completely random events to “uncover” a secret plot with various nefarious outcomes. Yes, we get it, it makes you feel special. Just some random dude (dudette) in the middle of America somehow discovered what every educated scientist over looked. Oh right, they are in on the conspiracy. *wink, wink*

Contrary to popular conspiracies, Obama nor Hillary are involved. Bill Gates is not working on a vaccine2 to enslave us or give us the “mark of the beast.” The Qanon crowd, the racist/nazi groups, the religious fanatics, or the just plain crazy are all out to sell a narrative based on fear. This is the ONLY way they can recruit new members. Logic and reason can’t be used and are universally shunned. And let us not forget the campaigns to paint movements like Antifa or BLM as the same level of dangerous or crazy as the nazis and racists. Sure Jan.

Then we get to all the entitled Karens/Chads of the world. “It interferes with my breathing”, “I have a medical condition,” or “you can’t force me because it isn’t ‘da law'”. Wrong on all counts. There are countless demonstrations of real world use of mask having no impact on your breathing. And the random conspiracies are easily disproved with basic logic. What many people confuse is it does cause you to breath slightly harder, but you are still getting the same amount of air. Because you are unaccustomed to wearing a mask, you notice the extra effort. If you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a mask, you are a very sick person and have no business being outdoors, period. But let us pretend for a moment you did. The ADA (or HIPAA for the exceptionally ignorant) does not protect you or allow you to disregard health orders when you go out in public. Why? Because your accommodation would put other people at risk. ADA does not allow for that. And as a result of all the ignorance has had to officially go on the record stating as such. The fake cards saying you are exempt or immune are just that, fake.

And then we get to the ‘constitutional scholars‘ who claim because it isn’t the law, they don’t have to obey. Oh, but you do! Thru a century of court cases and law review, the line between public rights and individual rights is clearly drawn. Your ‘individual freedoms‘ do not trump (pun intended) the rights of the public. Businesses can limit your access or refuse to do business with you for failing to comply with legally issued orders to wear a mask.3 Wearing a shirt or shoes indoors isn’t a law, but is universally accepted businesses are allowed to enforce this measure. (Forgetting the very racist roots of said restrictions.) When you are required to produce 2 forms of ID at the DMV it is not a law. When you queue up in line to wait your turn, it is not a law. Just try to cut in line anywhere and see what happens. There is no law that you have to work. However, if you want to have money for necessities or luxuries you get your ass up and go to work. So you see, not everything we do requires a law.

Frankly, being a decent human being shouldn’t require a law. If yo mamma raised you right, you would give two-shits about other people. Caring about the welfare of others shouldn’t need to be legislated.

I won’t even cover the new round of entitled idiots trying to use religion as an excuse. The newest excuse? Wearing a mask interferes with our ability to pray?

smdh

  1. minus the few crackpots []
  2. Even though his orgs work to help eliminate dangerous yet preventable diseases thru vaccinations has saved countless lives. []
  3. These same folks were all about screaming business rights when people could refuse to do business with gays, but now suddenly business rights do not matter. Funny how that works. []

Shut Down

I’ve pretty much given up on the idea of our country getting the pandemic under control. I predict we will continue to live with hodgepodge restrictions and shut downs thru the election in November. Only after 45 loses will we see a national strategy with a lockdown that will be consistent and effective. The mismatch state by state approach has obviously failed. There is no enforcement of any real value so people are free to disregard the directives.1 Shaming and viral exposure can only do so much.

The economy will continue to tank and businesses will shutter on a scale not seen since the Great Depression. Economists are already sounding the alarm. We blew it. Our selfish entitled attitudes created this mess. The ignorant minority continues to overshadow all the efforts of the responsible majority. We’ve allowed them thru mismanagement to take over the face of the pandemic. Maybe now that the Mango maniac has finally started wearing a mask, his cult followers will follow suit. We can only hope at this point.

All other countries with active restrictions and enforcement are seeing lower and lower cases. Many have already opened almost completely up, albeit with some mask requirements and restrictions on large events. They listened to their experts and acted accordingly.

I know I sound like Debbie Downer, but I’m trying to take a realistic approach based on what I see every day. The virus is spreading at a rampant rate again. Even California2 is seeing a big jump in cases and hospitalizations. And while the death total isn’t necessarily skyrocketing, people seem to forget, even those who don’t end up hospitalized can suffer for months after clearing the illness.

As of the news today, 1 in 5 Californians are unemployed. Many moratoriums on evictions (residential and commercial) are set to expire in the coming month. I expect California’s will mostly likely be extended, but the problem is still their looming over their heads. And it seems another round of stimulus checks might be coming, but they are drops in a bucket at this point.

I’m grateful for the fortunate circumstances I find myself in thru this; however, I worry for so many who are struggling between doing the right thing and being able to work and put food on their tables and a roof other their heads. The hubby is going stir-crazy being unemployed and home all the time; however, he is trying to hang in there. We get out on walks together on weekends to help break up the monotony.

If you’re struggling while you wait for “normal” to return, I’d put that aside. Normal is gone for 2020. Hunker down and adjust to our new reality for the next few months. I hope I’m wrong, but I’d be shocked if we have any meaningful developments before September. Hopefully, by year end the several possible vaccines will hold out to be effective enough to mass produce. A best case scenario is seeing a sense of normalcy returning before March 2021.

  1. And I’m not talking about people desperate to work or businesses fighting to exist. []
  2. granted mostly in Southern California []

Remembering

It was January 1991. The first year I witnessed the death of someone I personally knew from AIDS. It scared the holy sh*t out of me. I remember hearing an older couple I was friends with commenting on this article from the NYT. The report of 100,000 deaths from AIDS was buried deep in the paper. There was no national outrage, there weren’t any names posted on the front page. We were on our own.

Fast forward to this week’s front page article with a thousand names of the 100,000 dead from the pandemic.

The LGBTI community remembers. We know what it’s like when the government ignores a disease. We remember what it was like to see so many our people die from AIDS, many of which died alone.

Don’t be cavalier or indifferent to this crisis. Don’t be a name on the front page or one buried on page 18.

Total Authority

I deliberately waited a few days to see if anyone on the right-leaning side of politics would freak out over Trumps declaration this week. In a tantrum over states doing more than he is to protect their citizens, he declared, “I have total authority over when the states will reopen their economies….” I’m paraphrasing a bit but the gist is the same. As the famous commercial poking fun at Facebook goes, “that’s not how this works, that’s now how any of this works….

At every turn, the right-leaning folks were tearing down President Obama over his executive orders.1 They acted like he attempted to be a King instead of a duly elected president. It was a routine talking point throughout his entire 8-year presidency. The outrage and talking points were never ending. The propaganda engine ran 24/7 selling the narrative President Obama was trying to be a king. He was “abusing his authority” and “after your guns“.2 Naturally, the republican base ate it up.

Fast forward to now and no one has said anything about Trump’s alarming statement. Of course, state media Faux news is congratulating him and touting is actions as ‘strong leader’. Forgetting for a moment Trump has repeatedly demonstrated a consistent lack of understanding of even basic civics, he all but declared himself King. The right is falling all over themselves to support him. Actually, I take that back. Let us NOT forget Trump’s lack of understanding of basic civics. Rather than accepting he doesn’t understand everything, he fires anyone who dares to stand for honesty or integrity over his narrative. He lies so often he contradicts himself almost daily now. You only have to pay attention to see it. Worse, he has crippled our democracy by allowing functional depts that handle our safety and infrastructure to go unmanned. He is creating a bottle neck where anything that doesn’t go thru him doesn’t get done. He is making himself a de facto king and no one on the right cares. In fact, they are celebrating it.

I don’t need to say a big chunk of my extended family is conservative. Not a peep out of any of them. Granted, the pandemic is a bit of a distraction right now so it could be argued they are distracted. However, I’ve yet to see a single one mention how terrible Trump has been on handling this crisis. We’ve now lost a family member who was exposed in a hospital for an unrelated illness and still not a peep. Granted, a big chunk of them also don’t vote so I guess there is a silver lining there.

I’m just so ashamed of my fellow man and the apathy demonstrated by so many in regards to our declining way of life. The system is crumbling and when it crashes it will be too late to ask questions.

Hope springs eternal…

  1. Even though he issued far fewer than his previous republican predecessors []
  2. And yet, we ended up with less regulation on guns as a law banning assault rifles, passed by a republican president and a republican controlled congress with the full support of the NRA, was not renewed. []

Bias

If you know me, you know I talk about personal bias a lot. Everyone has biases. It is a natural process as humans grow. As our morals (or lack thereof) are shaped thru our environment and our brains learn to label things, bias is inevitable. But, we also have something called logical reasoning. This allows us to recognize and potentially overcome our biases when they are wrong or misguided. That is, if we chose to examine our feelings or try to separate our bias from facts.

In society today, bias rules supreme on social media. IMO it is one of the single largest failings of “social media”. It has allowed people to isolate themselves from opposing opinions or anyone who disagrees with xyz topic. It also allows folks to reach out and find others who think in similar terms, which only serves to reinforce one’s bias.

Sadly, this has lead us to the ‘fake news’ era and a flat out unwillingness of people to believe facts. Don’t even get me started on the never ending fake sites that pop up alleging malicious acts or crimes against persons they are against. The rise in anti-intellectualism stems from an unwillingness to let go or overcome one’s own bias.

And this brings me to my rant today. You can’t call yourself a moral, christian, or even a good person when you ignore facts in favor of bias. When you simply decide “I do not believe that” in favor of bias, then you are not in fact a moral, christian, or even a good person. Faith in an idea, person, or even religion should be dependent on denying truth. As a moral or ethical person, you should care about truth above biases, even your own. More importantly, you should be willing to challenge your own bias to see if it is grounded in fact or fiction.