Monday, April 27, 2020

In a Time of Virus: Sunlight and Bleach

No amount of parody or nihilistic social commentary could have prepared me for what it's actually like to see the virus that's taken over the United States.

On Thursday (04/23/20) the President of the United States, who has taken to a podium on a near daily basis for weeks - blathering at length/ incoherently, and showing genuine signs of mental decline (pick your poison as to why) - stood in front of a room of journalists and said scientists should look into shining UV lights or very bright lights on or into people to combat COVID-19.  He also said we should be looking at injecting people with disinfectants containing bleach, I believe.  That bleach clears the lungs right out.  Which, in a way, is true.  You'll certainly be beyond caring about your COVID-cough when you are dead because you've got 20 oz of Clorox filling your lungs.

Friday morning the cleaner chemical companies were busily releasing statements alerting adult Americans that ingesting or injecting their products was deeply unsafe.  Because, as every kindergartner knows, this stuff is dangerously toxic.  As insane as it sounds to you, dear future reader, our highly taxed medical personnel were making statements regarding their concerns that an untold number of Americans would absolutely show up at the ER after downing a cup of bleach. As of Sunday (04/26), it doesn't appear anyone took the President up on his offer.

We know that some number of people greater than zero rushed to hoard Chloroquine, a chemical and drug used to treat Lupus and other diseases, after the President stated it would *cure* Coronavirus.  It's not clear how many people were injured or died from taking a non-prescribed amount of the drug.  The most famous was a guy who figured out his fish tank chemical included Chloroquine, took it, and died, leaving his wife to make pleas to people not to do same.

The past two weeks have seen protests across the country, fueled by anger at science and being told what to do because Dr. Fauci is not their REAL dad, I guess.  It's been the same herd of far-right jackasses who usually show up with Confederate or Nazi flags and heavy weaponry, usually in favor of some gun cause of the moment, but now they're showing - man, they don't even know what they're protesting.  And the organizers have been pleading with them not to bring long guns and racist banners, but they just gotta be them.

Of course, it's going to be interesting as these populations start getting sick.  The biggest problem is that it's going to be impossible for these same groups of people not to dream up some conspiracy theory about how and why they got sick that ignores the past two months of being told "if you do this, you run a chance of getting sick".  Surely Obama and Soros will be blamed if it isn't 5G towers or whatever people need to tell themselves other than "I'm an asshole".

In Austin, springtime weather, blue skies and a nice breeze arrives this weekend.  So,  our ever-expanding dipshit population took to our greenbelt areas and other local sunny spots and crowded around.  And it's absolutely infuriating.  APD was nowhere.

Here's the thing:  every time we do this, we set the clock back a month.  Not just for sheltering in place, lockdown, quarantine or whatever you want to call it.  The ability to move around freely and restart businesses receives another delay as we wait for a bounce and another wave of the disease to rise and fall.  Businesses can't re-open with dining rooms if there's still a growing number of cases, and in most of the US, the trends are stable or falling only because of the behavior of the vast majority of people doing the right thing.

Most importantly, the risk these individuals are taking on is not just to themselves.  With each foray out to some mass meeting or congregations, every other person now has to extend their stay inside, every school has to remain closed, every movie theater can't risk opening, every restaurant can't have a dining room full of patrons.  A nursing home can't let their residents visit families if the numbers aren't trending to zero.

And, of course, the utter disregard for medical personnel who are working overtime in conditions they never signed up for is reprehensible.  In places where things are calm and well - the potential for those conditions to blossom is always there - but it's seen as "not happening here".  How anyone is reading about New York and New Orleans and not doing the one thing being asked of them is utterly dispiriting.

The argument, of course, is for "liberty".  But it's a remarkably selfish version of liberty that's being practiced and touted - it's an individual liberty that puts everyone else's liberty that much further away and damages untold millions of people as the economy continues to crater, jobs are lost, and everyone hangs in there, doing what they're supposed to in order to protect the lives and health of those around them.  It's a liberty with no understanding of personal cost or sacrifice short the mistaken belief in a sort of downtrodden misunderstood hero narrative these assholes have cooked up for themselves.

That didn't stop the President of the United States, who is in charge of the health and welfare of Americans, and the preservation of the union, to start tweeting out that people should "LIBERATE MINNESOTA", also including Michigan and Virginia.  It's entirely possible the President has literally no idea what is contained in the phrase "Liberate Minnesota" and the dangers he's stoking, but it was absolutely terrifying to see some from his mouth, and should have caused a real discussion about what the hell is going on in the White House.  Especially after the President has spent weeks railing about how each state is responsible for themselves and done the bare minimum aside from wandering in front of cameras every day or two to talk to himself and yell at reporters who ask him actual questions.

This other virus has been with us far longer and shows no signs of burning out.  Contracted via radio chatter, YouTube videos and talking heads on cable news, the infected individual shuts down critical analysis of conspiracy theories and labors under a delusion that they are a protagonist in a war against an invisible enemy waging a secret war against hapless Americans.  The constant state of alarm leaves the carrier with no sense of irony as they scream about anyone telling them what to do and say and believe while rushing to buy gold, to buy Chloroquine, buy ammunition and weapons to fight a disease.  It's a manic rush to do anything but what they told you one could do about communicable diseases in sixth grade health class, so long as it's the right flavor of channel telling them what to do.

Of course, the realization of how badly movies and TV have served America in their expectations for how science *works* is astounding.  That scientists will say "we don't know" which reporters translate badly from "we think this might be it, but..." to "this is the answer" has been devastating.  We're acting as if Science is run by six people in lab coats who will emerge with the solution by the end of the episode...  By not providing all of the answers in the timeframe decided by the observer promotes a notion of the illegitimacy of anyone and everyone who might put something forward that is contradictory, confusing or inconvenient to the storyline in their minds.  "They don't know *anything*" can have a lot of different meanings and outcomes.  We lack patience and anything resembling a desire to understand prior examples of pandemics, our own situation or the facts as reported.

Honestly, I expect by the time I write the next one of these, we're going to start hearing from fringy religious figures.  You gotta blame someone for bad stuff happening.  And someone has to pay.  We've all been cooped up for too long for people not to start snapping.

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