Archive for July, 2020

Rules, Masks, and Rules About Masks

Thursday, July 30th, 2020

We are divided into red state thinking and blue state thinking. Both camps have rules they’d like to impose on others. They do not look at the concept of “rule” the same way.

When red staters try to get people to follow rules, it’s to achieve a positive outcome or to avoid a negative one.

Don’t let water get into the diesel fuel tank. Know your target as well as what’s behind it. Bring your tools in out of the rain. Bring the hay bales inside before it rains. The gun is ALWAYS loaded. Don’t get her pregnant until you marry her. If your dog doesn’t want to be around him, don’t trust him. These are good ideas.

When blue staters try to get people to follow rules, it’s to assert their dominance. They don’t really comprehend the concept of “a positive outcome.” If they did, recent experience would have altered their understanding of what masks do. It has not.

Blue staters want everyone else to wear masks, so they can play alpha-dog. And so that they can see masks everywhere, because then maybe Biden will be elected. When blue staters wear their masks, they often leave them dangling around their chins, or letting their noses stick out Gavin-Newsom-style…they haven’t got a care in the world about what the masks actually do.

They tell other people to wear masks. And then they themselves don’t wash their hands. They figure they don’t have to do it. Because they’re so smart! Everyone who agrees with them is super smart. Everyone who disagrees with them is stupid.

When a red stater tells you “Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire”…you can rest assured, he’s doing that himself. If he didn’t see fit to do it himself, he wouldn’t be telling you to do it.

Liberal Wearing MaskEveryone who’s paying any attention at all, understands this. Oh sure, 9 out of 10 of them will get in my face about this and assert that this is a terribly damaging and terribly false way to look at it all. Needlessly polarizing. Divisive. Don’t I realize “We’re All In This Together”? But that’s just lip service. Who wants to bet their next paycheck a blue stater is following the rules he so capriciously imposes on others? Didn’t think so.

I really don’t know if we have a compliance issue about masks. I’ve opined on this before. Blue staters like to presume there is one, because that would justify a whole new round of enforcement measures, and maybe more rule-making…new rules about the not-as-new rules. I just don’t know. Masks are required here, they’re required there…wherever people are required to wear masks, they wear the masks. There’s no actual scientific evidence they do what we’ve fantasized about them doing. California’s experience suggests rather strongly that they don’t.

For the record, I think if you’re in proximity with others and you can’t avoid it, you should wear something. It’s well established that you can go around carrying this thing without showing any symptoms, and when you start talking excitedly about your latest story about whatever…maybe about how you caught someone not wearing a mask and you properly scolded him…your droplets fly all over the place even though you can’t see them. If you’re infected, a cloth mask is very effective at stopping that. It’s very effective at stopping sneezes. But there are many problems with this. A lot of people who want to talk animatedly or excitedly about something, are going to remove the mask anyway before telling this latest exciting story. Also, you shouldn’t be asking me anyway. I’m not a doctor or anything. But I do remember why we started down the bunny-trail of masks; we can be asymptomatic carriers, and if we infect someone they might not show any symptoms either, in fact they could be healthy as a horse but maybe have to go visit someone weak, old and sick after we’re done sneezing on them. That was the idea, that was the rationale. That, and Slow The Spread. Well, slow-the-spread has been given a fair trial here in California and it didn’t work that well. Compliance was not the issue.

The far more important point in my opinion, for whatever that’s worth, is this. How much time are you spending within six feet of others…lots and lots of others? Why is that?

If you need to wear a mask that often because you’re in proximity to others that much of the time, something else requires changing. I cannot prove it, but I surmise that California’s situation exists because not enough people are doing that. We like to think of California as a leading-edge state, but what I’ve seen here over the last thirty years is that people like their established routines, a whole lot, and don’t want to change them. Oh sure we here in California are mighty quick to modify them superficially. Zoom meetings! Zoom meetings everywhere! But no not really. We’re gregarious creatures here. The statistics that are making everyone unhappy about us, are simply reflecting this. We’re going through the motions of sheltering-in-place like hermit spiders and logging on to our Zoom meetings, but…no.

Now I’m hearing Louie Gohmert wasn’t wearing a mask at the hearings Tuesday. and Wednesday he tested positive for the Vid. Bad Louie! “Gohmert’s aversion to wearing masks and following other practices intended to mitigate the spread of the new coronavirus led many to believe he might eventually contract the virus.” “Sure enough, he did.” People who say such things are not the least bit impressed by the enormous number of “sure enoughs” we have here in California, where masks are required and have been required throughout much of this pandemic event. This is cherry picking.

Cloth masks are all about liquids. They may offer some protection for the non-infected to keep from getting the Chinese Virus, but their primary purpose is to keep infected people from spreading.

A cloth mask is intended to trap droplets that are released when the wearer talks, coughs or sneezes. Asking everyone to wear cloth masks can help reduce the spread of the virus by people who have COVID-19 but don’t realize it.

Cloth face coverings are most likely to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus when they are widely used by people in public settings.

Blue staters don’t care about any of this.

To a red stater, the noun “rule” has very little, or nothing at all, to do with the verb.

To a blue stater, the noun and the verb are the same. It’s all about ruling. They pay some lip service to what the rule actually does, if there’s some medical literature that happens to go in the same direction as whatever bludgeoning they’re trying to do in the moment. But they don’t really care, they just want to rule over others.

On Common Ground

Friday, July 17th, 2020

Most of the frustrations involved in living as an adult human, have to do with conflict between appealing narratives vs. inconvenient realities. And perhaps the best example of this is the narrative that conservatives & liberals can, and should, “sit down and work out their/our differences, find common ground, labor toward the common good and learn from each other.” I think deep down both sides really do want that…so long as it doesn’t involve giving up anything. If it’s cost-free, most people with political opinions would like to be Archie & Meathead after they’ve softened up and learned to see eye-to-eye.

Our parents did that with other grown-ups who didn’t share the same political affiliations, right? Should be easy!

The problem is that what we today call “liberalism” has eschewed any & all notion that its adherents have anything at all to learn from those who are not adherents. This is non-negotiable. All electoral contests and all differences of opinion involve illegitimacy and ignorance on the side of the argument that is not theirs. Every election they lose, was cheated. Every dissenting opinion, indeed every statement or question that bleeds off some of the momentum, intentionally or not, comes from someone who shouldn’t have opinions at all.

Liberalism has devolved into a slightly off-center “I know something you don’t know” smirk. Worn by people who haven’t accomplished anything. And want to make all the decisions that matter, without accepting any ownership of the eventual results.

As such, this notion of “common good” has melted down into the floorboards. It used to be that liberals wanted to get rid of some — perhaps all? — of what we have, and re-do it so that the needs of the forgotten might be met. Like…gay marriage for example. Here are some people who are marginalized through no fault of their own, so let’s dismantle a little bit of what makes society go, and reassemble it to meet these needs. Reactionaries might suspect the desire has little to do with meeting the needs of the marginalized, and has a lot more to do with the process of dismantling and wrecking. They were eventually proven right about that. The liberals who wanted gay marriages haven’t attended any gay weddings — aren’t interested. The dismantling, wrecking and re-defining has shifted into overdrive. Transvestite revolution. New pronouns. Polygamy. Onward!

The tender recruits would protest, with some variation of “But I’m part of that…I don’t want to wreck anything, I don’t want marriages of five or more, or women marrying goats, I just want to help people.” And this is true. It’s also true that the liberals insist “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” They just want the process of transformation, the rioting and protesting…the constant wreckage.

We who want society to manage a foothold so it can thrive and grow, don’t really have any common ground with these people. If there’s too much prosperity then there’s too much individual ambition and hope for success with things the way they are; more conservatives. And their wreck-everything revolution loses steam. Liberalism has reached the point where they’ve come to realize this, and so are invested in widespread suffering — at worst — but, at best, a keenly felt limit to our success without something being wrecked. They don’t want us to keep enough money after taxes to take our families on vacation, or acquire the access to health care we need, or to get our children properly educated. They can’t afford for that to happen. If it happens, it’s too hard for them to recruit new members to their cause, or to win elections, and those are the two things they must do.

Common ground? It’s an appealing narrative…reality doesn’t smile upon it though.

What I Saw

Sunday, July 12th, 2020

Here’s what I saw in the first half of 2020.

1. China lied to everyone and infected the rest of the world with SARS-CoV-2. President Trump restricted immigration and travel from China.

2. Joe Biden and other liberals asserted, without evidence, that the travel restrictions were xenophobic.

3. Trump listened to the experts, Drs. Fauci and Birx.

4. Some talking head predicted 2.2 million Americans eventually dead.

5. The pandemic fatalities petered out in late June with 130k +/- deaths. Hopefully they stop there. Trump saved 2,060,000 to 2,070,000 lives.

6. Liberals asserted, without evidence, the Trump rally would be a super spreader event.

7. Liberals asserted, without evidence, that the “George Floyd protests” would not be.

8. Liberals worked hard to manufacture “social unrest,” report on it as if it were spontaneous, and “defund the police.” Libs think the solution to a breakdown in law & order is less law & order.

9. Liberals evidently figured out this “social unrest” they were manufacturing from nothing, had an effect on the election in their favor. They may have figured this out before they started manufacturing it. At any rate, the places run by liberals began to make silly concessions to the protestor-terrorists, that the protestor-terrorists never even requested. Statues, dairy company emblems, rice brands, syrup brands, etc. Evidently these apologies, changes and removals were supposed to deter the protestor-terrorists from protesting and terrorizing. They did not.

10. Places run by liberals also had more violence, more COVID infections, more COVID casualties, more deaths and injuries from protests, and more unemployment. These places run by liberals also had less freedom. Their lockdowns were more stringent and the harm done to their business communities were much greater.

11. While all this was going on, our mainstream media, run by liberals, began hemorrhaging its credibility even faster than it had been hemorrhaging it in recent years…which is really saying a lot. They began to use the phrase “mostly peaceful protests” to excess, applying it in places where it clearly didn’t apply. One anchorman even waxed lyrically about these “peaceful protests” in front of a burning liquor store. This proves the media thinks we’re all stupid. Well who can blame them.

12. Liberals don’t have a clue what all this looks like to grown ups because they never have doubts about anything and can’t be told anything.

Now, I’m told, the COVID numbers are looking bad bad bad. A creepy narrative has set in that we’re having a “second wave,” or rather that the first wave never really ended. Something must be done! Trouble is, no one has come up with any ideas for the new-something that are in any way different from the old-something. Just more orders, more scolding, more tattling…more Karens.

Well hey Karen, I have some questions for you I think everyone else should have for you too. I’m not entirely sure giving you more control and more authority is the answer. We’re already living in your world, are we not?

You told us to shelter in place. We sheltered in place. You told us to wear masks and we wore masks. You told us to practice social distancing so we did. You blocked entrances to our grocery stores so we used the one that you left available to us. Then you made rules about which way to point our carts down the grocery aisle so we complied with that.

Then you set up hotlines so that our neighbors could snitch on us if we didn’t wear our masks, or if we got in our cars and headed somewhere that didn’t look like “essential” work.

You got back total compliance. Total. The very few among us who protested mask-wearing or social-distance-practicing or any of your other weird stuff, were put into situations where someone else would force the correct behavior. You blocked this you barricaded that. Sir! Sir! Sir! Sir! I can’t buy a half pound tub of butter without hearing that execrable word eight times or more. It’s become something like a jaackhammer, pounding on our skulls, and in fact strapped in place so it’s constantly pounding on us…and we, against all odds, have become accustomed to it.



You insisted on it. You would accept nothing less.

Now you see there is a second wave and you have leaped to the conclusion…without evidence…that the problem must be people didn’t comply enough. Uh, no. People didn’t agree with you enough, that’s the real complaint you have. And it’s different from not complying enough.

The level of compliance you received was unprecedented in written history.

Testing is increasing so cases are up. Deaths are down. You say that’s a lagging indicator…this is true…but, it’s also true that the virus is spreading rapidly, while people are complying with your diktats without question…

Herd immunity works.

Masks and social distancing don’t work.

And you people who think you haven’t been obeyed enough, have started a whole new epidemic. You are scarier than the actual virus. You’re like straight out of a Twilight Zone episode. One of the earlier ones, the cautionary tales about Cold War paranoia. That’s you.

You’re creepy as hell and no, you’re not going to get more compliance than you got already. It’s not because people are childish or rebellious. It’s because it’s simply not possible; greater compliance is not within the capability of the human genome. It doesn’t matter if you can’t see how much compliance you got. You got all you can get, all anyone who’s human can give. You got the dial ratcheted up to 11 already.

Here we come to an interesting observation about people. People, in general, like to think they’re “doing what works.” But if you watch them carefully without filtering out your specimens in any way, just looking at the broad, truly-randomly-chosen cross section, what you’re going to find out on average is that people do what’s comfortable. When they give power away, they give it to the people who ask for it, not to the people who demonstrated their ideas lead to success. And they’re heap-big-lousy on taking the power away from the ones whose ideas led to failure.

We’ve got a lot of people running around right now saying they’re doing exactly that, wanting to boot President Trump’s ass out of there and replace him with…they don’t know. Whoever would end up being President if Biden wins the election. Which would be someone who isn’t Joe Biden. But that’s neither here nor there.

They cannot complete the thought. They can’t point to anything specific that was done half-assed or wrong in response to China infecting us, that another President would do better. No really, just listen to their complaints, and listen for specifics. There are none. Just “He said this” or “He tweeted that.” It’s become embarrassing to listen to, as in, proxy-embarrassing.

If we really want to redirect power away from the ones whose ideas didn’t work out well, we should be redirecting it away from the “wear your mask” people. It’s not that their idea is entirely wrong. Masks have their place. When you must be crowded together with other people and there’s no avoiding it, you should wear a mask. But then again, if that situation really does exist, you should be asking yourself two or three times why you’re in it.

Flatten-the-curve is over. That’s been done. What we’re trying to do now is keep people from getting it when their immune systems are compromised, or when they’re old or otherwise infirm.

After what I’ve seen the first half of this year, I’m having a tough time concluding that masks and social-distancing are really all-that. But you have to define what the goal is. Is anyone anywhere defining the goal, any better than I just did? I don’t think “Hide until the germ is gone” is a very good plan.

“Fighting Misinformation”

Friday, July 10th, 2020

I’m seeing a lot of various resources in a big hurry to tell me what they’re doing to combat the spread of misinformation about the Kung Flu.

When anyone uses this sort of verbiage…combat…fight…I notice they never really call it what it is. They don’t use the word “control.” I read it as a big fat “Nope…you can’t trust us either, they got to us.”

It doesn’t heighten my confidence. Quite the opposite. My confidence diminishes so far and so fast, in fact, I find it impossible to put into words. It tells me some people are in complete control of what other people write or say. Even worse, I have no idea who these controllers are. Even worse than that, it proves the controllers are sufficiently motivated to encourage me to think one thing and discourage me from thinking another, they picked up a phone or wrote an e-mail, and started making threats.

Which proves they couldn’t count on the truth just naturally and ultimately emerging. Someone, somewhere, requires greater and greater assurance — and is given it — that our societal Thunderdome of competing ideas will be safely defrocked of the competing ideas. They, whoever they are, have to be equipped with an ever growing arsenal of tools to ensure the dialogue remains a monologue. I suppose if everything was known that might be okay. But this issue with the Chinese Virus is full of unknowns.

This sort of phrasing erodes my confidence so much it has me believing in conspiracy theories when I’m not initially inclined to believe them. I don’t believe a true conspiracy is typically within the capabilities of the human genome. But I know it’s not appropriate to have a tightly controlled choreography, with some mid-course corrections against anyone who wanders outside the demarcated lines, when there’s still so much left to be learned and what little we have learned, we don’t really know for sure.

Shit like this is why Trump won in the first place.


Saturday, July 4th, 2020

A third of a century into arguing with them on the Internet, I’m still struggling to figure out what the true difference is between liberals vs. normal people who think competently.

A lot of it has to do with feelings. When we grown-ups make a decision feeling a certain way, we are troubled by the possibility that deciding it at another time, with the facts remaining the same, in a different mood we might make a different call. This inspires reflection: Would we be wrong then, or are we wrong now? To a liberal, that proclivity toward emotional reasoning is a feature and not a bug. It seems like they live in a world in which all feelings have to be expressed, and making decisions about things is just another way of expressing them.

Sympathy has a lot to do with it. If you listen to a liberal’s rationalizations, you’ll quickly discover there’s some villain in the storyboard — there’s always a villain — for whom they have no sympathy, for whom they don’t want anybody else developing any sympathy. This confuses people because the liberal’s goal is to try to build a “new world” or “new society” that is “fair to everybody” and the temptation is to take them seriously when they say this. But, no. Talk to a young Marxist sometime about being fair to businesses. Talk to a young feminist sometime about being fair to men. There are certain loathed-classes, and what the liberal tries to do is emerge as an autocrat who directs the sympathies of everybody else, rather like a lawn sprinkler…and there is to be no irrigation, ever, in that particular corner. It’s the exact opposite of building a new and just society that is fair to everyone.

Change is a factor. Liberals are never going to see the potential downside of change until such time as the change has been fully defined…like, for example, if it’s change being brought by President Trump. Or, if it’s a funding cut against one of their cherished programs. In the abstract, there’s nothing wrong with change at all, it’s like a six-year-old deciding on more sugar on his cereal. Change change change!

There is a lack of consideration for consequences. It seems liberals simply don’t think in those terms. They run their liberal megalopolises for decades and decades and decades…not a Republican to be found anywhere in Baltimore, Chicago, Seattle. That doesn’t stop them from blaming Republicans when things turn to crap. The rest of us are left to wonder, at what level of consciousness do they fail to establish the linkage between what was done, and what ultimately happened? To a liberal, their noble intentions are what matter. How the souffle ultimately came out of the oven, is irrelevant.

There has to be one epicenter of chaos, some originating point where liberals start making dreadful decisions. A point where the trolley is yanked off the tracks — contributing to all these other hazards, which are really just effect flowing from this common cause. But which one? They overlap somewhat.

Doubt has much to do with it. The liberals with whom I have argued are untroubled by doubt. I suspect my experiences are far from unique. I saw it back when their guy was in charge for eight years, and I’m seeing it now. Those of us who find ourselves in conflict with the liberals, about even simple things, have doubts about things because we’re adults. We don’t like making decisions with our feelings; we try to really maintain fairness to all involved parties rather than just make a lot of noise about it; we recognize that all change is not necessarily good; and we grapple with consequences. We have doubts.

Example: Masks on the face will slow the spread of the Chinese Virus — true or false? I have come to understand that where disagreement exists about this, it isn’t argument about the “true” or the “false,” it’s about the doubt. Well, when in doubt let us win, the liberals say, and wear your mask! Grown-ups, for the most part, comply. We’re not complying because they made the demand. Let’s face it, liberals have been bumptiously demanding benefit of all residual doubts for…well, it’s difficult to say when exactly that all started. The Earl Warren Supreme Court had a lot to do with it. You didn’t tell him his rights. The evidence is fruit of the poisoned tree. It’s conceivably possible someone else might have a knife that looks just like that. Maybe he ran because a police dog was chasing him. Maybe maybe maybe, possible possible possible, you have to pretend you don’t know even though you do…my guilty-as-hell client gets to walk. Our side wins!

Once liberals figured out “We get the benefit of all residual doubt” can be used to spring bad guys everybody knows are guilty, so they can go out and hurt more people and the public will just have to accept this…seems they had a realization that anything was possible. The tactic never backfires on them because liberals don’t have doubts. But grown-ups, thinking about consequences, will wear masks when social distancing is not possible, because sooner or later we’ll come in contact with someone whose immune system is compromised and we don’t want to take chances.

When did we start having doubts about the masks, that they were being used as a political emblem, rather than as simple and reliable devices to slow the spread of the virus? From the very beginning. But in the beginning that was a fringe-kookburger idea to have, even in an election year. But now? As possibilities go, it’s unavoidable! Liberals have made it abundantly clear they want the visual of masks masks masks…it’s the only chance Biden has. And oh by the way, these “Biden buttons” worn on the face may also retard the spread of the virus…possibly. We wear our masks when they make sense, because the masks can be both. We recognize non-mutual-exclusivity; it doesn’t have to be all of one thing and none of another. We want our grandmothers to live and we comprehend functional overlap.

Choosy VirusWe have doubts about the masks themselves. We see something is wrong when “a mask” is what’s being ordered upon us — no exceptions! Don’t even think about going out bare-faced or we’ll report you! And yet…a cloth mask is the same as N95 is the same as a surgical mask. Not how it works at all. But…we have our doubts. The rebuttal is going to be that something is better than nothing, and this makes sense.

There is the difference between how things work out here in the real world, rather than how things work in the idea-land where rules are made and unicorns cavort away in the rainbow-sunshine. Yesterday I did my laundry and I forgot to put in my cloth Chinese Virus mask. I’ll try to do another load today because the thing is filthy and it’s skipped a weekend washing already…but I want to get the spare too, and I’m having trouble finding it. It’s clear to me the proper solution is more cloth masks, nevermind that I’m having trouble maintaining the inventory I have already. So how are you doing? Have you got some apparatus in the jockey box or glove compartment of your car? Mine’s a disposable mask left over from when I had to wear it on Tuesday. You’re really not supposed to do that, you know. But — my village elders have handed down the rule, facial coverings required no exceptions, when I go into a store to buy food. Sometimes I find out we have to have something and I have to go. Have to be prepared. We’ve got to eat.

Am I the only one with that terrible, disgusting habit? Everyone is subject to the new rules and we all have to eat.

So I have doubts!

I think Trump is going to win the election. But I have doubts. Liberals are sure Biden is going to win, it’s just a matter of time…even as they seemingly concede that if Biden does win, no one knows who then becomes President. It’s an interesting question, but if they noodled it over for a time they’d have to entertain some doubts. So they don’t. If you back them into a corner about it, they just pick somebody. Then hurriedly change the subject, seemingly failing to grasp that they just named the person who’s going to be President a year from now…and this would be something worth inspecting, to every diligent thinker, no matter what their feelings of it would be.

I had doubts about Trump at the very beginning. Since 1992 I have shied away from this thing about “so-and-so would be perfect because he has his own money and can’t be bought.” So I had doubts about them with Donald Trump. But, he did make it work. Then the establishment DC types came down on him like a ton of bricks, including the establishment Republicans, and so the time came to admit there was such a thing as a Deep State. Couldn’t doubt it anymore.

Liberals say the Trump rally in Tulsa spread the virus, and now people are going to die. They don’t have doubts.

Conservatives respond wondering about the George Floyd protests, wouldn’t they be responsible for spreading the virus too? The rebuttal is that there is “little evidence” of this according to “experts”, but that isn’t an honest expression because that would entail doubt. Liberals, once again, have none. They know for sure that a Trump rally in a single day spread the virus, but sustained authority-sanctioned rioting and looting across hundreds of densely packed cities over a period of several weeks, did not. That must be one smart virus!

Being repeatedly wrong doesn’t faze them. Now that he’s President, Trump is finally done, oh yes he is, those walls are finally closing in on him. Haven’t we been here before a few times? We saw it even before the election back in 2016: This will be the end of Trump’s campaign. No doubts!

So after all these years, the appearance to me is that liberals are 100% sure of absolutely everything, not quite so much because they like certainty, although there is some of that. They share in common a phobia against doubt. It terrifies them. I mean let’s face it, doubt is received negatively by all of us. None of us like to admit we were wrong about things. But it’s part of mature thinking, of becoming a grown-up. Sooner or later, we all reach that fork in the road, choose the wrong path, and then a little while later have to admit it to ourselves and start backtracking. It sucks, but usually that’s the only way to get back on track. And for those doing it the first time, they emerge from the experience better and stronger thinkers than they were beforehand. Doubt is the parent of beneficial humility, and you have to have some of that if anyone’s going to trust you to make decisions about anything that matters.

Liberals want uncontested authority to decide these things. But they don’t have the requisite humility to earn it, because they can’t, or won’t, entertain serious doubts.