Shocking

Sirhan Sirhan didn’t pay his rent

The Supreme Court ruled six to three that the landlord can throw you out if you don’t pay the rent. Six to three! That’s not who we are! What would Emma Lazarus say?

All of us don’t use the same water fountain

Returning to a work site after over a year, all the hot air hand dryers are “out of service,” turned off as a covid precaution. Okay, paper towels work better anyway, but how can the hot air dryers ever be turned back on? People in the recent past have died of flu. If air hand dryers spread coronavirus, they’ll spread flu virus. So no more air hand dryers ever?

How did we figure out hand dryers spread coronavirus anyway? Did the CDC and FDA evaluate some of those double-blind statistical whatzis? I wonder they had time. Doesn’t it take the FDA eighteen months to evaluate a health claim, even at emergency-warp speed? Did we never suspect until this year that hand dryers spread germs? Or were hand dryers not, after all, “more sanitary.” and “greener?” Next year maybe they’ll install those horrible old continuous-roll cloth towels, or it’ll be like water bottles, and everyone will carry his own towel. Always know where your towel is.

The water fountains are off too, except for the bottle-fillers. So by the same reasoning, no more water fountains ever? I know, “reasoning,” right? Like the man said, “Reason as motive, or reason as logic? Or reason as a way of life?”

Data?

“The jump in the number of reported cases and deaths is due to the newest way deaths and cases are counted.”

See, it’s “the newest way” deaths are counted; not the new way, or even the newer way, but the newest way, until next week.

Pfizer #1

I got the shot. Nothing but (maybe unrelated) tiredness and a little loss of appetite, in that “after the first half-hour or so, I seemed to take no interest whatever in my food – an unusual thing for me – and I didn’t want any cheese.”

UPDATE 25 September: Got the second Pfizer shot, missed half a day of work from side effects, and was tired for a few days.

Jeff Bezos

He’s human:

“Throughout his public career, there have been no reputable reports questioning whether he was a human.

“USA TODAY could find no scientific evidence that it’s possible for reptiles or aliens to mask themselves as humans.”

USA Today says some number of people think Bezos is a lizard. I’ve heard that before about various people. I thought it was a metaphor, like “Hitler,” but not “literally Hitler.” Maybe I should watch Crocodile Dundee again, literally.

Anyway, if we can trust the news then Bezos isn’t a reptile, though that’s a low bar. It’s not as if all non-reptiles are human. Is Bezos a toad, or a pig? And if he is a human, is he a soulless cold-blooded control freak? And anyway, are these things stable over time? Maybe he was a man yesterday, but is a reptile today. Scientists now know identity is fluid. I’m sure there was something in the paper about it.

“It wasn’t Xi”

Just keep saying it

Surprised to see this in The Guardian:

“Because if the [COVID lab-leak] hypothesis is right, it will soon start to dawn on people that our mistake was not insufficient reverence for scientists, or inadequate respect for expertise, or not enough censorship on Facebook. It was a failure to think critically about all of the above, to understand that there is no such thing as absolute expertise. Think of all the disasters of recent years: economic neoliberalism, destructive trade policies, the Iraq War, the housing bubble, banks that are “too big to fail,” mortgage-backed securities, the Hillary Clinton campaign of 2016 — all of these disasters brought to you by the total, self-assured unanimity of the highly educated people who are supposed to know what they’re doing, plus the total complacency of the highly educated people who are supposed to be supervising them.” — If the Wuhan lab-leak hypothesis is true, expect a political earthquake, by Thomas Frank

The loss of confidence the author sees coming would be dire. “[T]his is the kind of thing that could obliterate the faith of millions,” he says. From his point of view, it’s hard to see why he’s willing to even present the possibility COVID leaked from the Wuhan lab as anything but a nutty theory long debunked. Surely it would be better to simply hunker down and fact-check it away. Has bare-faced denial ceased to be an option?

If this could obliterate your faith, then your faith has been in the wrong place.

Vaccination

Covid shots

I’m glad the vaccines are available. I didn’t think they’d be able to come up with anything for a coronavirus. Good for them! Operation Warp Speed is something to be proud of. Whoever wants the shots should go get them. But whoever doesn’t should be left in peace. Personal background: I’m way, way more heavily vaccinated than most people. I got my recommended shots at the doctor’s office. In kindergarten a bunch of us were bundled onto a school bus and rushed to the high school gym to drink a little cup of some liquid. (I thought for years it was the oral polio vaccine, but the times don’t line up.) Because of a job I had, and because Uncle Sam lost my medical records, I got the shots all recruits get, then I got them again; then I got a special series of shots most people don’t get. I get booster shots when recommended. I’ve had a flu shot every year for years. Last year I got vaccinated for shingles. How am I now among the “vaccine hesitant?” The people in charge have lost their credibility by talking nonsense for years. They say (louder and louder) that the vaccine is safe, effective, and necessary, and your patriotic obligation, you dirty flag-waver. Okay, but they also say Caitlyn Jenner is a woman. The people in charge lack credibility because they should. They don’t deserve a presumption of competence, or honesty, or even sanity. The people in charge have decided everyone must want the shot, and get the shot, and like it. They’ll say whatever words they think will make that happen. It’s not that they’re lying. They want what they want, and they’re largely indifferent to truth or reality. And look out if you oppose them. I’d have more confidence in the vaccine if a man could express reasonable concerns without being attacked and maligned. These vaccines are experimental. The FDA is only allowing them under an emergency-use authorization, as I understand it. I’m not particularly worried about side effects, at least not for myself. But necessarily, we cannot know what we don’t know, and we cannot know what side effects will show up in five or ten years. Isn’t it unethical to coerce people into getting an experimental vaccine? Nobody should be forced unless absolutely necessary (submarine crews?) In particular, it seems unethical for the government to be trying to guilt young people into getting the shot to protect old people. Being an old man, but not that old, I’m indifferent about getting this particular shot. I don’t really feel a pressing need for it. I’m not going to jump through hoops. If it becomes required for work or makes life easier I’ll probably take it. If the situation changes in the future, I’ll think again. If I can choose I’ll go with Pfizer or Moderna, because these have the least connection to abortion.
UPDATE 3 May 2021: Bishop Paprocki Offers Analysis on Notre Dame’s COVID Vaccine Mandate

Snide remarks

Since Joe Biden got more votes than anyone in history, in the most fair and transparent election ever, he should use his popularity to encourage vaccination. If everyone who voted for Joe Biden got his shots, there’d be four hundred million Americans vaccinated, nearly enough for herd immunity. For social justice and equity, shouldn’t old white men step back until all people of color have got the vaccines? (I wonder: Has Minister Farrakhan got his?) The reader may ask, must Marcel racialize everything? I answer that it’s too late: Gingham cloth is as racist as apples. As racism is to apple pie, transphobic bigotry is to mRNA.

Belshazzar’s feast

Belshazzar sees the writing on the wall.
Belshazzar’s Feast, by Rembrandt

Belshazzar’s junior concubine
Saw trouble coming.
She let the cup go by,
And ducked out shortly after.
She missed the rest and
Never saw the writing on the wall.
She slept and had bad dreams, and cried out
When a Persian soldier woke her up.
He was kind to her;
She bore him fourteen children.
They lived up in the hills
Southwest of Ecbatana.

Nachtrijders

Listen to Nachtrijders, by Henk Wijngaard.

  • If you’re in the other room, this sounds like random country music.
  • Dutch sounds like German with an American accent. Maybe some elements of American speech come from Dutch.
  • “Hank” must be an anglicization of “Henk,” which must be short for “Heinrich” (or however you spell it in Dutch; probably a j in there somewhere…) which must be why Henry is Hank to his friends.
  • Even with the very helpful link to the classic editor, WordPress made posting this take way longer than it should have, and I couldn’t embed the video.