Saturday, July 11, 2020


So how are the "open" states doing in regarding to covid-19? Let's see: the top five hospitals in Mississippi have run out of ICU beds. The twelve busiest hospitals in the Houston area are outright telling ambulances "Don't bother bringing people here." Florida continues breaking its own in-state covid death records (meanwhile, Walt Disney World re-opened today. New recommended ad slogan: "The most magical place on earth, and a good time that is to DIE for!")

The only way we can safely even TRY to get most of the economy back on track is for everyone to practice certain safety measures – namely masks, distancing and sanitizers – but of course, a lot of people who oppose the lockdowns are ALSO opposed to the simple measures we can take to safely operate without them. 
Here in north Georgia where I currently have the misfortune to be, after the first lockdown ended, my husband and I tried, very cautiously, to do some “non-essential, just-for-fun" money-spending things -- those of you who know me may recall what a hardcore thrift shop/flea market/overstock outlet addict I am -- ordering carryout from certain restaurants, doing our bit to help the economy …. and then we went back into quarantine after the local cases kept rising, our own county keeps breaking its own previous records, and FAR too many of our fellow shoppers refuse to wear a mask OR stay the hell away from us. 
Oh, and remember when I said “we bought carryout from restaurants?” One of our favorites had to shut down for a couple weeks after one of its employees tested positive. How the hell can we have a functional economy when businesses have to keep closing on the grounds “Oh shit, our place of business is currently crawling with pathogens and we have to sanitize EVERYTHING before we re-open?” And the One Simple Trick that would enable us to have at least a semblance of a normal economy until medical science figures out a way to get a handle on this virus -- wear a mask in public, while practicing certain social-distancing guidelines -- is also the one thing which the Hardcore Heterodoxy tribe refuses to do.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Masks and Parachutes

So the latest anti-mask argument making the rounds is: there's no point in wearing them because any suggestion that wearing masks reduces the transmission of certain airborne contagions is "not validated by any study." Which, so far as I know, is true (at least, I haven't looked for any). And here is something else not validated by any study: there has never, not once, been a scientifically rigorous double-blind study testing whether parachutes are effective at reducing fatalities among people who jump out of airplanes. There exists nary a single peer-reviewed study any pro-parachutists could link to, showing people with parachutes do any better than a parachute-free control group. 
Clearly, then, the only logical, rational conclusion is that parachutes are worthless -- or, at most, are only useful for identifying the cowardly sheeple amongst the skydiving set, eh?

Friday, June 19, 2020

Florida's Running Out of ICU Beds

Here's a Newsweek article published yesterday, June 18, headlined “Multiple Florida Hospitals Run out of ICU Beds as Coronavirus Cases Spike.”

As Florida health officials report another record single-day increase in cases of the novel coronavirus, new data shows hospitals across the state have filled most or all available beds in their respective intensive care units.

Numerous Florida medical facilities reported dwindling ICU bed availability on Thursday, with several reporting no availability at all, according to the latest report published by Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA). Palm Beach County was among those statewide regions where the availability of beds was most scarce. An accompanying report from AHCA shows about 75 percent of available hospital beds statewide are currently occupied.

The AHCA's data showed two of Palm Beach County's 17 hospitals have already filled all ICU beds, while several other medical centers reported limited availability. One hospital in Miami-Dade County has also reached its ICU bed capacity as of Thursday, and the majority of hospitals have filled more than half of beds in intensive care units. Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties have reported two of Florida's most severe local virus outbreaks....

What's particularly frustrating is that when the quarantines and lockdowns (such as they were) began last March, they were never a case of “We'll do this for a little while, and the problem'll go away”; they were supposed to buy us time to arrange for testing, contact tracing and similar things to allow us to (cautiously) re-open in a safe manner, until such time as a vaccine is developed. But almost none of that has been done, and the OneSimpleTrick (TM) that could enable most people to resume most activities (with certain precautions) -- wearing a mask in public -- is being decried by Trumpster-types as America's greatest human-rights violation since those evil damnyankees forced the noble Confederates to give up their slaves.

Where the coronavirus is concerned, the only thing that's changed since March is a much higher number of people it's killed (currently at 121,269 dead in the US alone, according to Worldometers). Our immune systems remain the same, the virus remains the same, and there's still no vaccine for it.

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

IPMS (Insufficient Pessimistic-Misanthropy Syndrome)

All this time I considered myself a reasonably healthy individual, when it turns out I've had a severe and apparently permanent case of IPMS (Insufficient Pessimistic-Misanthropy Syndrome).

For all my dismay over how thoroughly partisanship and the “sports bar/go-team-go” mentality has corrupted American political discourse (going all the way back to the end of Bush/beginning of Obama years, when various breeds of Democrat and Republican flipped positions on civil-liberty and government-authority matters alongside the POTUS' changing party membership), and for all the ways I feared "Even by post-2001 standards, Trump's presidency is going to be very very bad for America; Zod forbid we have anything like a 9/11-level catastrophe on his watch," in both cases I was insufficiently pessimistic, and weighed down by too much faith in humanity (or at least the subset of humanity comprising my fellow Americans).

I never thought to add “worst pandemic in a century” to the list of “potential American disasters, 2017-2021, exacerbated by a President Trump.” Even if I had, I don't recall ever considering "partisan sports-barism will get so bad that even amidst the worst pandemic in a century, the simple act of wearing a face mask or not becomes an actual socio-political symbol." Nor did I expect an appallingly high number of self-described liberty advocates to commence sneering at mask-wearers on the apparent grounds that “Basic self-care, let alone basic concern for others, are both anti-liberty principles”--best exemplified by Jeffrey Tucker's infamous tweet “Adding to my post-lockdown predictions: the face mask will be rightly regarded as a symbol of obsequious obedience and grotesque compliance with arbitrary and ignorant authority.”

Yet even if I had been sufficiently misanthropic and pessimistic to foresee and prepare for all this, I still did not expect “Amidst the worst pandemic in a century, rampaging American cops will still disregard social-distancing procedures if that's what it takes to murder harmless people.” (Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin certainly didn't bother wearing a face mask while he used George Floyd's neck as a kneeling bench. At least I don't think he did; I could not bear to watch Floyd's murder all the way through. If Chauvin did mask up anytime during those nine or ten minutes, )

And all across America, people peacefully protesting Floyd's death (and police brutality in general) have been met by police officers perversely determined to illustrate exactly why people are protesting.This is how American police behave when they know their actions are being recorded and broadcast to the world. Imagine what they do when they think nobody's watching.

Chauvin's callous killing of George Floyd wasn't the first time, nor even the dozenth time, America has seen undeniable video proof of a cop abusing if not outright murdering someone. (And that's just killings caught on video; consider the far greater numbers of people who died in police custody under deeply suspicious circumstances, but their actual deaths weren't recorded.)

Even worse, in many cases police officers who do these things aren't even charged with crimes, they keep their jobs and their pensions . Many times they even get to keep their jobs and pensions. Police unions overwhelmingly cover for abusive cops – the union's criticism of Chauvin was notable precisely because he was one of the rare times when cop unions did NOT overwhelmingly converge into a blue wall of silence.

My IPMS is flaring up again, because despite the surreal horror of these past three months, I find myself feeling … “optimistic” is far too strong a word, but perhaps “hopeful” works instead. Since the dawn of the smartphone era – more precisely, the dawn of the “practically everybody has a camera and video-recording ability nowadays, plus the ability to post this on the internet” era – “video shows American cop killing in cold blood” has practically become its own genre of reality show.

But maybe this time will be different. It's been over a week now since Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin suffocated George Floyd to death, and the protests are still ongoing. More importantly, get-out-the-vote efforts are developing in response. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court might possibly reconsider the vile doctrine of “qualified immunity,” which basically grants on-the-clock police officers the legal right to abuse people, with no means of legal recourse for their victims.

My country's heading for hell so fast it's leaving the proverbial handbasket in the dust. IPMS kept me from ever seeing it coming … and my IPMS keeps me hoping maybe, somehow, this is the start of something which will change America for the better, even more profoundly than did the civil rights movement of the mid-twentieth century.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Snagged By Rule 34

Today I learned I need to make a slight alteration to my vocabulary: specifically, quit using a certain phrase in reference to a recent unpleasant sartorial period in my personal life, and find a more appropriate alternative.

I'm a clothes horse who's been shopping at thrift stores for pretty much my entire adult life. So, between the facts "I like 'nice' clothes" and "I know where to find nice clothes (pre-pandemic) dirt cheap," for the majority of my adult existence, if you were to ask "How many nice, comfortable, flattering garments does Jennifer have for her local environment, compared to the typical American woman in her socioeconomic bracket," the answer would be "Considerably more than average."

Until recently. Four years ago, at the height of a brutally hot summer, I moved to the Deep South after a lifetime in milder, more northerly climes, and immediately discovered "The summer clothing I have now won't remotely cut it down here." Among other things: in Connecticut I could often get away with wearing a short-sleeved shirt in summer, without even needing sunblock unless I planned to be outdoors a significant amount of time -- but in Georgia, the first time I ever tried exposing my bare skin to the sun (wearing a sleeveless sundress on a 90-degree June day Jeff and I planned to spend looking at various rental-home options), my arm literally stung IMMEDIATELY when the late-morning sunlight hit it. And up north almost all of my summer clothes were made of thin cotton material, but cotton's moisture-hoarding tendencies make it intensify the already virulent humidity down here. I had a few silk summer garments, and silk is much better at repelling humidity, but it is also extremely efficient at heat retention, so all but the thinnest and loosest silk is best avoided in hot weather. Etc.

Through trial and error, I eventually learned how to dress properly down here in summer. Short version: wear lots of rayon and rayon/linen blends. For my own personal clothing/style tastes -- garments I'd choose if climate and temperature conditions were no object, and I only need concern myself with 'style/appearance' plus overall comfort -- there are scads of attractive clothes-I-like available in rayon, and until I had to quit thrift shopping a couple months ago, I was well on my way to re-establishing the status quo "The number of garments I have for local conditions, Georgia summertime version, is higher than average for a typical American woman." (Right now, thanks to rayon, I think I actually have more pairs of nice black summer pants and nice black summer jackets/blazers than I had at the height of my Goth days.)

But when I first started looking for Deep South clothes four years ago, I did not yet know this about rayon. In fact, I erroneously believed rayon was bad for hot and humid conditions, because I thought "Rayon is a manmade fiber. Polyester and nylon are also manmade fibers, and they are hideous for hot or humid conditions. Ergo, rayon probably is too." For a long time -- IIRC close to two years or so, until a friend set me straight about rayon's ideal anti-humidity qualities -- the ONLY "deep summer" clothes I bought were made of linen. And linen is relatively rare by thrift-store standards -- if I had to guesstimate, I'd say a typical thrift-store clothing rack will have 50 to 100 cotton garments for every one made of linen. Plus, linen as a textile doesn't really work well for my preferred style/manner of dress anyway -- it won't hold much of a form, but somehow always manages to look a little baggy and ill-fitting even when a garment is cut perfectly for my size and shape. Especially pants -- I have a couple of actually-attractive linen shirts, but I have YET to find the pair of linen pants that look good on me.

But in my early Atlanta days, when I was genuinely desperate for any clothes I could wear outside without sunburn or overheating, and falsely believed "Linen is the only fabric that will work in such brutal conditions," I bought myself quite a few linen garments I never, ever would've bought otherwise, not even at the < $1-$2 prices most of them cost me: shirts in awful colors and hideous styles [e.g. "ruffled frills"], some so oversized they were even too big for Jeff -- and equally terrible linen pants with ugly earth-tone colors and elastic or drawstring waists, and the first few pairs I bought were so large I had to take in their waistbands with a safety pin or they wouldn't stay up. (I did not, however, buy any pants requiring safety pins to take up the hems.)

I called these my "desperation clothes," because I bought them during that early Georgian period when I was genuinely desperate for anything I could safely wear outside in daylight. Eventually I reached the point where I quit buying desperation clothes, because I had enough that I could at least afford to establish such minimum standards as "I won't buy clothes unless they actually fit me, without safety pins" (though within those parameters, I still couldn't be choosy about color or style--and my definition of "these clothes fit" still allowed for a lot more baggy shapelessness than my usual norm).

And then, finally, I reached the point where I could also afford to say "No more clothes unless they fit AND they are in colors and styles I actually like." This got much easier once I discovered I could (and should) buy rayon for summer wear too.

At long last, I think at some point only in the past six months or so, I had enough deep-Georgia-summer clothing that I could do a culling: namely, I went through my linen desperation clothes and decided which ones I'd keep as pajamas/housework clothes, and which I'd re-donate to the thrift store. Pants requiring safety pins in their waistbands all went back to the thrifts, as did the frilly shirts because the frills made them uncomfortable to sleep in ... but I can't remember how many other shirts and pants I may have got rid of, and why. And of course, when I did that clothes-culling, I assumed I'd still be making regular thrift-store visits and acquiring at LEAST three or four new-to-me garments in a typical month -- I certainly did not foresee or expect anything like covid-19's changes to my normal daily existence.

Now that I'm stuck at home all day, and will not be making any thrift-store visits or new-clothes acquisitions for the foreseeable future, I'm kind of wishing I'd saved some of those desperation clothes -- better to wear out an oversized pair of pants I don't even like and nobody will ever see, than wear out good (or even minimum-tolerable) clothes under such conditions.

I checked the archives at a chat forum I frequent -- I know I'd talked about "desperation clothes" there before, and a couple of clothes-cullings, but don't recall if I mentioned that specific cull a few months back, or whenever the hell it was. So I typed "desperation clothes" into the search engine of the forum.

At least, I intended to. But I'd absent-mindedly typed the phrase into my browser search bar instead, so rather than search for the phrase in the archives of an obscure chat forum, I ended up doing an unfiltered DuckDuckGo search of the entire internet.


(you might want to leave rather than read the rest of this)

Apparently -- this information is derived from the approximately 0.83 seconds I spent pondering the search results, before going back to the forum -- there exists a subcategory of porn involving women who piss themselves, presumably because they're denied access to a bathroom and eventually reach the point where they can no longer hold it in. And this particular porn subgenre comes up if you do a regular unfiltered online search for "desperation clothes."

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

More Bad News About Covid-19

The more I hear about this virus, the worse it gets. A friend of mine is in the medical field, working the front lines, and mentioned problems certain survivors (especially those requiring ventilators) face: the permanent lung scarring is already fairly well-known, but apparently another problem is kidney damage; something about the virus replacing the iron in hemoglobin, which does something-or-other with the end result that many of these poor people will either need a new kidney, or have to be on dialysis for the rest of their lives. 

When I first did the voluntary self-quarantine (voluntary meaning, I stayed out of the thrift stores and other favorite haunts even when they were still open), my basic attitude was "I'm not too worried about what would happen to Jeff or me if we caught it, as I'm sure we'd be fine and make full recoveries; I'm concerned about passing it to someone who CAN'T handle it due to immune-system problems or other high-risk factors." But at some point in the past couple of weeks, that changed to "Also I am worried about me and mine."

Another concern: the Worldometers site lists the number of people who have recovered from the virus in various states and countries -- but I have not yet found any data breaking down those who recovered: how many made full recoveries and are now just as healthy as before they got sick, how many recovered but have permanent lung damage, how many recovered but their kidneys are shot ....

Tl;dr: Don't go out if you don't have to, people. And if you DO have to, then for Zod's sake wear a mask and gloves, wash your hands, and follow the other anti-contamination protocols. Russian roulette is a stupid game to play even if there's only two or three bullets in a hundred-chamber gun.

Monday, April 20, 2020

In Georgia, It's NEVER the Right Week to Stop Sniffing Glue

The good news (relatively speaking): social distancing apparently has had some efficacy in “flattening the curve” of new covid-19 cases here in Georgia.

The bad news (no relativity needed): this news presumably inspired our thoroughly wise* and completely non-corrupt* governor Brian Kemp to announce plans to re-open the state starting this Friday, which I fear will cause those flattened curves to fill out faster than Dolly Parton after she hit puberty. As Kemp posted on Twitter barely two hours ago (blockquote contains two separate tweets):
Due to favorable data & more testing, gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, cosmetologists, hair designers, nail care artists, estheticians, their respective schools & massage therapists can reopen Friday, April 24 with Minimum Basic Operations. … Subject to specific social distancing & sanitation mandates, theaters, private social clubs & restaurant dine-in services will be allowed to reopen on Monday, April 27. We'll release more information in the next few days.
If the governor has explained how the hell people such as barbers/hair stylists, tattoo artists, manicurists and the like are supposed to provide their services while staying at least six feet away from their clients, I must have missed that.

Having said this: I must admit Georgia is not the only state, nor Republicans the only major American political party, to have many wise* people offering well-thought-out* ideas. Take for example Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), who said today that “It's been weeks and health care workers on the front lines still don't have the PPE or medical supplies they need. We need to federalize the medical supply chain – now.”

In other words, he apparently believes the way to solve this problem is to give Trump and his administration even more power than they already have. Trump said earlier that Democratic governors have to be nice to him if they want federal aid in this crisis; I will assume Senator Murphy (whose state has a Democratic governor) missed that news report, because he was too busy formulating well-thought-out* plans to solve this unprecedented national crisis.

*I'm trying out a new “if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all” rule. Do you think it's working? Thank Zod for the sarcasm loophole.

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