The Newsletter: Issue #16: We Need To Get Our Heads On Straight Here, Folks

I don’t typically title my newsletters, but for some reason this one felt necessary. For the last several days, the news cycle, and my own interactions with regards to it, have been a complete de-evolution into absurdism.

Yes, I’m talking about Biden.

Yes, I’m talking about Trump.

Yes, I’m talking about the ongoing pandemicS.

Yes, I’m talking about all of it.

We need to get our heads on straight here, folks. We are missing a once in a lifetime opportunity to undo all the wrongs of the last several years, and we’re unironically doing so by falling into the same traps and patterns that created the situation we find ourselves in today.

So let’s talk about it.

Around the World

Unless you live under a rock, you know that last night the President gave a fiery speech in front of Liberty Hall, on the problem of fascism and the MAGA culture. It was, unequivocally, a political speech. There’s no way around that.

I’m perhaps from a more old school thinking: that politics is politics, and government is administration of government services. There is a time and a place for both, but not together. That said, we should demand a number of norms when our government leaders go political; and more importantly we should hold them accountable for politicizing aspects of the government that should not be.

There’s also something to be said about governing by meme, and involving people that should otherwise not be involved in that.

This is why, after the president’s speech, several people went on to criticize the choice of backdrop: Marines, standing at attention. I’ve talked to a lot of people about this since, many in a variety of sectors of the military. Some thought it was gauche. Some didn’t see the big deal. Others said it was politicizing the apolitical. A lot of people highlighted the long time practice of Presidents doing so.

For me, it’s about the venue: it was a political speech using colloquialism and political rhetoric, invoking the Dark Brandon meme. So, pretty tacky to have the Marines involved. But, that’s just my opinion, and something I am *entitled to* without fear of personal attack.

Not what the biggest and loudest Blue MAGA Democrats believe, though, because immediately after CNN journalist Brianna Keilar Tweeted her own disappointment in the move – Brianna Keilar who is married to a man that has spent his entire career in the military, people went for the throat. And this is what I largely observed all over Twitter and other social media platforms as the night wore on: very strong and strident Biden supporters launching disgusting and vile attacks on anyone that is Republican, Centrist, Independent, Progressive, or simply had a disagreement with any aspect of the Biden speech, or frankly anything Biden has said or done.

This style of political and public discourse though? This was completely antithetical to the speech the President gave. While calling for unity he asked people to stand up to actual fascism, which includes the idea that dissenting thoughts and opinion should be tolerated and encouraged, and that nuanced conversation about the issues without personal ad hominem attacks and mudslinging should resume at the policy table of America.

What I’m saying is that the people ripping down anyone that even remotely disagrees with or criticizes any aspect of anything the current president does are just as fascist as the ultra right MAGA fucks that… well, do all the same shit. It isn’t less fascist if you’re doing what the fascists do, just because it’s for your guy.

I discussed this last week on my podcast, actually; so the timing is perfect. If you haven’t had a chance, you can listen to it here:

And to that end, there’s been another growing trend over on social media: the White House’s official government account being used for more political posts about MAGA. Here are two, recent examples:

Now to be clear: I am not saying I disagree with these statements. I’m again highlighting the venue in which they are being made.

Perhaps I’m more sensitive because I happen to be in a 600-level Public Governance class right now, and ethics in public administrations – of which the White House one – is at the forefront of our conversation. For decades, administrations at all levels of government have operated on a code of ethics. This is nothing new, and it is not a foreign concept. If the White House Chief of Staff actually paid attention to the replies he receives in these, he would know that my response was spot on: that ethics training is something they perhaps should get going, given the very fine ethical lines that whomever is in charge of this account is walking.

To be clear: Tweeting about political issues, even ones rooted in fact, using political colloquialisms and rhetoric, is not the job of an official government podium. This is not official government business, and we can accept that and hold them accountable for this while at the same time agreeing with the sentiments – the two are not mutually exclusive.

And last, but certainly not least, on this episode of Shit Show, America: this morning, the full list of items that were removed from Mar a Lago in the FBI raid was released by a federal judge, and it included the notations that several folders labeled CLASSIFIED were removed, although all that was found in them were newspaper and magazine clippings.

A lot of people jumped to ask where those documents were, and that may very well be the case – that the DOJ and Merrick Garland moved like the snails they are, and gave Trump et al more than ample time to sell it all off. Smoking gun is therefore gone, as are the prospects of ever holding them accountable. To be clear, that may very well have happened.

But it’s also equally as likely that this was all a well orchestrated stunt, combined with more of a grift. My thoughts?

Surely we all have not forgotten that time Mike Lindell left the Oval Office and was carrying a document in exactly the right angle so that the media could Zoom in and blow up its contents… these people are professional con artists, there’s no way around it.

And to be frank, I voted to never have to hear about them again. Let’s stop giving them oxygen until it’s either to announce the man is in jail, or dead.

Around My World

I finally decorated the outside of my house for fall the other day, and immediately got a ration of shit from people who neither pay my bills, nor do any other things for me. As I said above, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but there’s also something to be said about the concept of: if you don’t agree with someone’s personal choices that in absolutely no way, shape, or form affect you: keep scrolling.

Nevertheless, here are my outdoor fall decorations outside, and I put them up just in time for California’s unprecedented September heat wave:

Other than that, you guys know the drill… I’m just living the dream of every other stay at home mother who is expected to raise her kids, manage the house, keep everything looking Pinterest-worthy at all times, cook three meals a day and eat completely healthy, while also being charitable to others, help ailing and elderly family members, pursue their own dreams, undergo routine self care and physical and mental health, all while pleasing extended family and friends for the sake of keeping the peace, all on a strapped budget because – again – you are a stay at home mom and have no real steady income except your spouse’s… even if all of this is rapidly escalating to a total and utter mental breakdown from the pressure…

You Can’t Unsee This

Please take into consideration everything I said above, listen to my podcast on fascism, take a deep breath, and consider this meme I made:

STFU Fridays

There has been an increasing trend of doctors and people that should otherwise know better at this stage of the pandemic, downplaying the measures needed to end the pandemic.

I am by no means advocating for more lockdowns or ZERO COVID strategies. But there’s something to be said for paying attention to the governments that still do… they are, and have always been, the experts on SARS and all of its potential negative outcomes. And, to be clear, a lot of physicians and immunologist – epidemiologist types – understand too. What’s even more concerning are the number of other diseases surfacing, and easily spreading, as a result of the hit that our immune systems are taking on the whole to unmitigated coronavirus spread. The CDC and NIH know, and have published papers, on the impacts of SARS-COV-2 on our immune systems, and yet their policies or even their recommendations to others (not them, of course) do not reflect the realities of “new normal.”

And as the pandemic heads into its final stages of the third year, I get it that people are weary, and more than anything they’ve become compromised in their position on certain things. Bottom line is, though, that if you’re going to go on social media platforms and tell people to wear masks… you maybe just should be consistent in your recommendations. Wear a mask yourself.

Moreover, expect our leaders to.

Last night, I was doomscrolling through Tik Tok and came across a post making fun of Trump for his COVID infection versus Biden’s, posted by an immunologist. This woman is a prominent and well respected scientist, and she is also – sometimes – pretty funny. Of course it’s not exactly fair to describe the two infections – one was before vaccines were even available, and one was after the man had four doses of vaccine, with more treatment options, and with a more attenuated version of the virus… but I digress on that issue. It did point to the efficacy of time, science, advancement, and it was silly.

But one of the comments from another doctor on the platform stuck out to me, saying he would never forgive the former president for removing his mask and making a mockery of it. To that, I agree, but I will similarly not forgive the current president for doing the exact same thing. Biden has had more antimask rhetoric and moments, claiming he would wear a mask at all times after exposures and infection, himself, when he then was immediately seen having taken it off around others.

The whole point about living with COVID is that we have to actually learn to live with it and not act like selfish and ignorant fools. Our community members are depending on us to do the right things, including reducing their risk of harming them if we have COVID, have recently had COVID and could still be contagious, are otherwise feeling unwell, or have been exposed.

And we elected Biden to be the leader on this, to which he is failing. Instead he sets an ableist and anti-mask example, with absolutely no one – apparently – with any integrity left to expect better.

So I responded with this comment, and the immunologist – the original poster, the woman who constantly asks people to wear a mask and to be the example for others… she told me to get a grip.

Get a grip.

The most disturbing thing to me, again the overarching theme of this newsletter and why I decided it was important enough to give this one a title, is this idea that people cannot hold anyone accountable for their actions now, simply because the other guy did it first. We should be demanding better of our leaders, and holding them accountable.

And it’s a simple fact that if someone was elected to handle COVID and is now outright refusing to handle COVID, even in his own actions that directly influence the behaviors of millions of Americans (including vulnerable ones)…

Get a Grip?

GET A GRIP?

GET A GRIP?!?!

Get a FUCKING GRIP?!

I get it. We all experienced a lot of trauma with Trump. But it is a fact that the current president is doing worse on COVID at a time when he should and can have opportunities to do better. He preached up and down during his campaign about being a leader and setting an example. And now, he’s doing anything but. We could all live with this if he would do better – it would, at the very least, convince some (and would go a long way to getting more funding for needed tests, treatments, and vaccines from Congress who have all but capitulated to the virus and its ongoing damage).

Instead, it’s easier to look the other way, point fingers, and tell people that have a higher standard of accountability to “get a grip.”

You know what the real grip is that we need though? The one where we are sober to the fact that we have entered this absurdist and morally bankrupt daily reality where everyone thinks standards be damned, norms be fucked, and fascism – even if it’s the lighter version – is the way to go.

The only way out, folks, is if we hold them all accountable for every mistake, all the time. If we get our heads on straight, again. If that is what it means to need to “get a grip,” so be it. In the meantime: if you can’t take the heat of a dissenting opinion, shut the fuck up.

The Newsletter: Issue #14

This has been a weird week, for me personally and for the world. If you don’t think it’s weird, you are likely in the position of being both simultaneously privileged and unknowingly oppressed. Welcome to Capitalism.

Around the World

So how about that Trump raid?

I’m still weeding through all the details on why Mar-a-Lago was raided, and what the potential or definitive consequences of it will be. And I have a lot of mixed feelings about it myself. From an accountability-standpoint, anything that criminal has done should be held up against the law like any other citizen of the United States. But something I learned in my own personal experiences with family law, and our kids, is that oftentimes the law will not always err on what is morally right, but what is (a) prosecutable, and (b) not going to cause an undo burden on the public good. and there is something to be said for understanding the incredibly sensitive and delicate balance in this country right now. National security, and the possibility for an all out Civil War, is very likely a part of the conversation on this at some stage.

We should save this one for another conversation, perhaps a blog I’ll post next week on the topic, alone.

In the meantime, here are just a few of the thoughts circling around in my head, in no particular order:

  1. Andrew Yang is, yes, a piece of shit, but he is right in the sense that if nothing major comes as a result of all this news cycle, the FBI raid, and the investigation, then it will have been political and the consequences could be – not to be hyperbolic, but: catastrophic to the country. Is he trash for saying it when he did and the way he did? Sure. But he may not be wrong. We’ll see.
  2. Many high level Democrats, including Congressman Eric Swalwell (famous for telling Susan Surandon, a woman, to sit down and shut up about women’s rights…), were calling for Trump to release the warrant. When he leaked it to Brietbart, they began to complain because it was not redacted. Again, am I defending that the idiot didn’t think to redact names of agents on there before he leaked it? Maybe. But he did what they asked; that they expected the guy who suggested we inject bleach to cure COVID to know to redact names from a sensitive document before leaking it as they requested is… well…
  3. I honestly do not see this resulting in anything, and if it does I do believe the consequences will call into question if it was worth it. Back to point one, time will tell. To be clear: this is not a reason to withhold accountability. Trump, we all know, is a criminal, on many levels and for several reasons. But defining “accountability” in this case may require people to consider way more than just the people that did the crime, but the people who will suffer for the fall out. I don’t know, again maybe a conversation for another day (and again, to be clear, I am not defending Trump.
  4. Fundamentally, one of the main reasons I – like me personally – voted for Biden in 2020 was to not have to hear about Trump anymore. At this point, I don’t even care if he goes to prison, flees the country, runs for president again and loses, or simply bides his time quietly on his golf course. I just don’t want to hear about it. All the Jon Coopers of Twitter post daily, ad nauseam, about him. I think the Republicans are right: liberals are absolutely obsessed with him. Sometimes it feels like we are collectively checking our ex-boyfriend’s Facebook page to see what he’s up to; it’s exhausting and I voted to be rid of it.
  5. As is, there is already talk about Biden pardoning Trump in the name of unity. I wouldn’t be surprised at all, and in fact as I was talking to a friend about it, this popped up in my Instagram feed. So yeah…

Then, of course, there was the whole CDC COVID update, which made headlines even though it hardly changed much in the way of public health policy that was not already changed or observed, starting back in the beginning of the year in the middle of the Omicron wave. However, what distinctly sticks out to me is some of the language the CDC is using now. They’ve completely redefined not only disease, but everything, to being about personal responsibility; the individual’s obligation to themselves and themselves, alone. This is the antithesis of “public” health, but moreover I believe it sets the precedent to deny claims of public liability for injury caused. In other words: oh, you’re now permanently disabled by long COVID (as is happening to as many as 20% of people that catch it)? Well that was your fault for catching it, disability claim denied.

But it goes beyond that. Some of the language seems to cite numbers inconsistent with actual reality. Many many Americans continue to have avoided COVID infection, and both the vaccinations and previous infection are not useful against circulating variants, and yet the CDC claims that as many as 90% of Americans have “existing levels of immunity.” They also discuss avoiding punitive measures against students that choose to continue to mask, as if kids have been punished prior to now for wearing them. Something doesn’t seem right about anything that they cite, and to release the guidance in a time that 93% of the country is in areas of remarkably high transmission, and daily papers come out citing the profound and extensive damage reoccurring SARS infection is causing… well something just does not add up to me.

Again, maybe a conversation for another day.

Around My World

I’m trying not to get stressed out by the fact that our new property manager seems to be in it to get his money with as little work as possible Our move in walk through yielded several things that needed to be addressed. The excuses for none of them being done continue, a month and a half later.

The other day we woke up to a sprinkler that was broken, spraying everywhere. It took a while for the landscapers to show up and fix it (if you can call what they did “fix”), but in the course of all of this it has become all the more clear that gardening – included in the lease – is also not going to actually happen. Today we raked up probably years worth of begoniaville petals, many decomposed and putrid smelling. Tomorrow we’ll be cutting the grass and weeds out front as well.

How am I dealing with this stress?

Well, it’s past time for me to decorate so I started getting going with my fall decorations. Every year I have a system: August 1 – September 15 is for Fall decorating, with Halloween to follow. So – technically – I’m late. It’s already the middle of August, so finally yesterday and today I kicked it into gear. The great part about moving was that we had to get rid of so much, some needs replacing. So I guess that’s fun.

You Can’t Unsee This

In regards to that Trump raid, the memes have been on point, I will admit that.

STFU Fridays

Alright, this is a bit of an obscure one, but we need to talk about the bakery cookies at the grocery store.

You know those soft sugar cookies that start to pop up in the bakery section around this time of year. They usually vary the frosting and sprinkles for whatever holiday is coming up. Right now, because Labor Day is around the corner, they have blue with red, white, and blue sprinkles. In October it’ll be orange and the brown, yellow, and white sprinkles. Then it’ll be straight to Christmas, with Valentine’s Day colors in the new year, closing their annual stint at the grocery store off with Easter colors.

People are so divided on these cookies, but I have to say to both sides: shut up already. Honestly. The cookies are fucking good, and even if they’re not what is this thing people have where because they don’t like them, that means no one can have the pleasure of eating them? We live in a society that is so heavily controlled as is: we have to work where we’re told, live where we’re told, do what we’re told; stop trying to control what fucking sweets people have access to with your weird online petitions, and obsessive bitching at grocery employees. As if Bob who works in check out can fucking control the inventory, you pedantic, anti-cookie, fucks.

So have a good weekend, and leave people alone to their cookies. And by people, I mean me. I’m with Brian on this one.

This Is Living With COVID

A few days ago, I had an acute allergic reaction to either something I ate, or something blowing in the back window of our house. Many of you all remember, we recently moved from a mold-infested hell hole, so my body is still recovering and attempting to reduce the level of extreme inflammation that comes of living under those types of conditions. So… a bad allergic reaction was bound to happen…

When it was at its worst, I considered going to the emergency room, but when checking on the wait times found that the ER in my own town – the best option – had a 10 hour wait time. On a Tuesday, in the middle of summer. I couldn’t believe it, so we took a drive over, and sure enough: at 7 o’clock in the evening, with a line out the door and people sitting on the floor of the waiting room, four ambulances docked in the unloading area, the wait time appeared accurate. I decided to go home and just hope for the best.

The following morning, I called my doctor’s office and told them I had experienced this acute allergic reaction, and I wanted to make an appointment to see him since the ER wait times were so long. I had made it through the night, I thought surely they could get me in that day, even with a PA, a nurse practitioner, or another doctor.

They scheduled me for the following Monday.

Today, I woke up to an alert on my phone that my order from Home Goods – which was due to be delivered Tuesday – was delayed due to “inclement weather.” A quick look at the national weather radar proved that was, very likely, a lie.

No date it will actually be delivered.

The Federal Reserve reports that several million people are now out of the work force, due to what doctors coin “long COVID.” Long term symptoms of COVID 19 infection vary by person, in symptom and length; and at least 1 million people are permanently disabled from this post-viral condition (and estimated 4.4 million partially). And this is only two years in, with a virus that provides absolutely no long term immunity, and every reinfection showing to increase your odds of developing lifelong health conditions, possibly disabling, exponentially.

I’m no conspiracy theorist, but it seems a great way to resolve the growing crisis with funding social security is to either:

a. Kill everyone that is presently living off of it; and/or,

b. Cause the entire system to collapse from an unmanageable burden

So it seems, the US has decided to do both.

Nevertheless, this is what living with COVID looks like. Wealthy, elite members of our own communities, and oligarchs running the government, have access to paid sick time ad infinitum, ample healthcare, and access to care and treatments many in America cannot even dream of being able to access, while the rest of us hope for the best.

But it isn’t just about getting sick and dying that remains an issue; for many who have been lulled into believing that COVID is just a cold (to be clear: it is not), just as for those that still take precautions and engage in personal mitigations to prevent getting or spreading the disease, living with COVID is a matter of being delayed, hampered, inconvenienced, and otherwise endangered.

Living with COVID is maybe not having a police officer available to come if your house is burglarized.

Living with COVID is not having reliable access to an emergency room for an emergency.

Living with COVID is being stuck somewhere on vacation because your flight was canceled.

Living with COVID is catching COVID on a cruise and being forced to be airlifted off for the pleasure of other passengers, even if you’re feeling relatively well (because no matter how well you feel, you could still harm someone – this is true).

Living with COVID is not being able to get in to see your doctor, or any doctor for that matter. A friend of mine recently went to the emergency room for ear pain; and while he was able to actually get in and be seen, when they recommended he see an ENT, he found out the next day that the earliest he could get in was … next year …

Living with COVID is having unqualified people teach your children, having your children learn over computer in an auditorium because there aren’t enough teachers in that week; having someone not even qualified to drive a school bus drive your child to school.

Living with COVID is packages arriving whenever they can, maybe. Definitely not on time.

And as it turns out, living with COVID is placing the burden of all of this more and more on the individual. With decreased mitigations and funding from the government, comes more emphasis on personal responsibility. People are told if they want to wear a mask, they can. There is, however, no clear and assertive guidance to the fact that masks work.

When it comes to items that are costly, this again comes down to personal burden. Individuals are asked to test, but at their own cost. Some are free, but only a couple times (at most, three batches, which should be long used up by now); some insurances will cover, others do not. Medicare covers them, if a senior wants to risk traveling from pharmacy to pharmacy until they find one that has the batch Medicare covers in stock.

Schools never upgraded ventilation, and have spent their American Rescue Plan funds ten times over on administration fees, so testing is cutting back, as is quarantines and the like. This is being done in the name of giving kids less disruption, as if being taught by a sophomore at the local college, learning your teacher just died, and having to go in and out of school because you’re always getting reinfected with the same virus over and over again is not disruptive to a child’s development… this is living with COVID.

Yesterday, we received a text message from the community college. Living with COVID for the last two years has been forcing my daughter to wait on having excision surgery for endometriosis; now that the surgeon has opened up her availability, my daughter has decided to defer college for one year to have the surgery. Of course the possibility for COVID to upend that happening as we all “live” with cancelations and inabilities to travel is there, nevertheless, while she does this she’s going to attend the local community college. The text message yesterday, though, stated that the board of directors for the community college system had decided to eliminate the COVID vaccination requirement.

Of course this is not about public health or the health of the students at all, and we all know that. Community college, and colleges in general, have increasingly been having a hard time with enrollment numbers – as students faced a variety of challenges through out this ongoing pandemic. Some students are no longer attend college because – surprise! – they have long COVID and are now permanently disabled. Many are now working full time and caring for a younger sibling, as over 200,000 children under the age of 18 have been orphaned due to COVID 19 in the last two years. Some learned the hard way that the president will not be forgiving student loans, that this was an outright lie; and the cost of living has been allowed to spiral out of control, the type of job you get after graduation will not pay the bills; that college in a very rapid period here has become attainable to only the wealthiest, who have the money and the ease with which to address housing, cost of living, travel, and tuition. Tuition programs even have been cut back, at our local community college they make it as difficult as possible for students to get their tuition covered with grants; because God forbid we make it easier for kids to navigate an education in these ongoing times where personal responsibility has forced them at a very young age to make tough choices.

So enrollment numbers have waned. Whereas it was a struggle to find a course with an open spot months before the class even started when I went to community college, now if you search open classes at the local community college, there are so many openings, it’s a little overwhelming. They’re even running ads, with classes for the fall starting tomorrow.

Far be it for them to admit that all of these problems are factoring in to lowered enrollment numbers, though; they instead point to vaccination requirements, and again – like everyone else – have decided that living with COVID will be to capitulate to the anti-vaxxers. The few out there holding out, will now be allowed to enroll in person in courses that previously had the requirement.

I don’t dispute that you can get COVID vaccinated. Not by a long shot. But even the very health department they claimed to have consulted admits that you are still significantly less likely to test positive for COVID 19 if you are fully vaccinated; and if you wear a mask, get tested, and stay home when sick.

The colleges though? Have decided that living with COVID will be much as in everything else: living with more disruption, with more personal risk, with more consequences to average people just trying to get by in life, while overall profits and financial considerations take precedence over the health of our community members.

Living with COVID. Frankly, I’m not sure who can call any of this living.

Get Your Germs Away From My Ass

<CONTENT WARNING: THIS ONE IS SWEARY>

We’re at the find out portion of the fuck around era, and I am not here for any of it. Get your germs away from my ass, both figuratively and literally.

I thought we were getting to higher ground with the pandemic. Sure, things are kind of still a shit show, but there is literally nothing left for the anti-COVID idiots to complain about, what with politicians abandoning all sense of responsibility and public health being bought off by the likes of the mRNA gods and goddesses. To be clear: I am pro vaccination, but the way in which we have been sold to the CEOs of major corporations, both in what’s available to us for therapeutics, treatments, and preventatives, as well as the various industries that saw mitigation measures correlative to decreased profits for them (I’m looking at you Delta…), well it makes my ass sick. Not COVID sick, just sick.

The problem with letting COVID rip, so they call it, is that it has done a remarkable job at mutating, infecting people multiple times, causing massive disruptions to public life, and hammering down our immune systems. I read the other day that 4 million people in the US, alone, now have long COVID, which is pretty fucking profound if you think about the number of people that represents that may have left the workforce.

In any event, now we are seeing all of these other diseases emerge, go buckwild you might say, and the result is of course that the government and public health professionals just… ignore that shit too.

In the last several weeks, we have had an onslaught of people not just getting covid, though. The UK announced polio cases, and a few weeks later news broke that someone had been paralyzed by polio in New York. Just yesterday, the New York State Department of Public Health announced that they detected polio in the waste water as far back as June. There is this mysterious hepatitis showing up in children (no largely mentioned correlation to COVID, though, even as over 75% of the kids had prior infection with the Omicron variant). Today, BNO news announced that some people had tested positive for dyptheria in Switzerland. A few days ago, it was scurvy.

And we all know about the monkeypox. Or do we?

Monkeypox was something we all should have been paying more attention to back in May, when it was clear that it was beginning to spread. But instead of – oh I don’t know – doing anything about it, we all sort of just sat around and chalked it up to being a gay thing. I’m not shy to the fact that the vast majority of cases are currently in the gay/bi/MSM community; however, this is a far cry from who can actually get monkeypox, which is anybody and everybody. Monkeypox just happens to be in an associated group right now, and of course that’s only perpetuated by the fact that as far back as May and, in many places, still today, the only people that can get tested are from that associated group (of gay men, mainly). To be clear, though, while monkeypox isn’t as transmissible as COVID, it can spread in a lot of ways – in the air if someone sneezes through a lesion in their nose, through – yeah – sex (though it’s not an STI), by touching something the other person touched, hotel sheets… you name it, monkeypox can even survive for long periods of time on your food.

And yet still, the government has sort of just ignored it as people begin to die from its effects around the world. Children have started to test positive for it as well, the more that testing has opened up; in fact, two have tested positive here in California, where I live.

I’ll say it again: get your fucking germs away from my ass.

I just don’t understand what fucking thinking we have going on in our heads right now. I read somewhere that COVID does affect some people cognitively, and so I’m wondering if everyone got COVID and we’re all just fucking nimrods now that cannot put two and two together.

So here, I’ll do it for y’all:

1. None of this shit is going to get under control if you all don’t start demanding more from your elected leaders – from the top, down. That first requires you all to give a shit, which I’m pretty sure may be a far cry from happening, but it’s worth saying. If you gave a fuck about each other again, maybe you’d have the impetus to contact someone – anyone – to demand they do better; I don’t know, just shooting that one from the hip. Congress should be funding more research, treatments, response. The White House should be sending out more tests. The CDC should be requiring masks in healthcare settings, at the very least.

2. As long as COVID is allowed to spread, people will continue to get infected over and over and over again. At some point the 4 million people that are disabled now as a result of long term symptoms (not to mention all the people that continue to fucking die, some quite young in fact), is going to grow to such an exponentially unmanageable number that social security will collapse and/or no one will be around to keep your favorite, local Applebees open.

3. Every time a new disease or new-old disease emerges as a problem, you run the risk of it mutating and wreaking havoc the likes of which we have not even yet seen; especially as a result of the aforementioned weakening of the immune system caused by repeated infections with COVID.

4. It is not normal for diseases like polio to show up in the waste water.

5. Monkeypox is painful and puts a higher percentage of patients in the hospital due to the lesions, the sites they are commonly found on, and the amount of pain they create. The United States’s healthcare system is already on the verge of collapse due to the ongoing COVID pandemic, adding this to their burden is – frankly – unforgivable. People can die from monkeypox because it also crosses the blood-brain barrier and can cause encephalitis. And, as if all of that was not bad enough, as many as 50% of cases end up with neurological or psychological issues.

It’s starting to seem as though we have somehow teleported, or time traveled, back to the days when people just died of random diseases all the time. Women lived to the ripe, old age of 32, and then died of period pain in the middle of the cobblestone street. The callousness with which we approach the lives of each other has perhaps normalized massive amounts of pain, suffering, and death, after two years of people replying to COVID deaths on Facebook with laughing emojis, I suppose because it’s easier to just accept this new life?

I for one do not accept it. I want none of it.

It is the 21st century and science has advanced us to a point where a vaccine could be created against a deadly viral disease in under a year, and y’all motherfuckers brought back polio and diphtheria as a response.

There is, of course, the obvious plot twist in it all as well: that this is just a necessary consequence of a changing climate. Anyone arguing still today that climate change is not real lives further down than under a rock. Everything going on – monsoonal pressure on the West Coast, all time heat in Spain and the UK, the storms, the fires… all of that is just the tip of the iceberg of climate change. Scientists have also been warning for years, decades in fact, that another aspect or potential of climate change would be that zoonotic diseases would cause more spill over resulting in human epidemics; that viruses would be able to mutate and adapt more quickly because of the changes to the ecology of our planet; and, that as permafrost melted, old shit would resurface.

Well here the fuck we are, I hope you all are happy.

Whatever the case may be, I – for one – am tired of this shit. I don’t get people that have absolutely zero problem being sick all the time. I do not get it. I’m not saying crawl in a hole and hide forever. I’m not saying seal yourself in a bubble, like Bubble Boy. I’m just saying to get your germs away from my ass. Stay the fuck home when you are sick.

Since y’all cannot even seem to reliably do even that – the absolute bare minimum – maybe I will get a bubble after all…

The Newsletter: Issue #12

I wish I could write one, fucking newsletter without starting off with something like: welp, what a mess this world is. But we’re 12 issues in, and sure as hell nothing has gotten any better.

In fact, I’d wager, it’s gotten worse.

I’m starting to find myself looking at things going on in the world – shootings, violence, crime, and the like – more as evidence that people are starting to snap, than anything else. Sure, gun safety reform and legislation is absolutely necessary; so is more adequate access to mental health services. As are a host of other things that create an insurmountable amount of pressure that, for some, just ends up being too much.

I do not condone anything that is happening in that space, but I have to say that I understand. I really do.

People can just only take so much. So much pain, death, disease, hardship, and lack of care.

In any event, let’s get to it.

Around the World

Dr. Oz won his primary this week, in the same general vein and district patterns that Trump did.

In other words: we’re fucked.

Not that authoritarianism isn’t already kind-of sort-of going on already. To be more clear: it is. The Biden Administration has taken the road of doing what they think is best, even though it is antithetical to even some of the fundamental principals and mandates upon which they were voted in. And I’m not even just talking about areas in which they are strapped, and their hands are supposedly tied (which they are not, and we’ll get to in a minute). But when an Administration makes as many blunders as this one has, and keeps cow-towing to the Republican and corporate demands that are not in the best interest of the people, while having essentially a blank check for a foreign war that the majority of people did not co-sign…

Well Houston… we have a problem. This is how you invite hyper-nationalistic fascism to the dinner table.

It is my belief that the Democrats have rendered themselves impotent in the name of old-timey bipartisanship and, well, capitalism. Not only has Joe Biden failed to hold true to many of his campaign promises in 2020, his Administration has largely failed to meet the moment on a number of crises that have occurred around the country, and world, since. Have they been an abject failure? Well no, but on the areas in which they have had a mandate, they continue to fall short.

What does not make sense is being elected to do those very specific things and then just … not…

Democrats, and the Admin, are great at pointing the finger, except for when it comes to pointing it at themselves. As I see it, a number of factors are getting in the way of them achieving any of their promises, and securing enough wins in the fall to hold the majority. Oftentimes, they remind me of one of my old boyfriends who would defeat himself with inaction and procrastination; it was easier to point blame and feel sorry for himself than to actually try and be successful. Because once you’ve been successful, well how will you win the next round (in the case of the Dems, what will you campaign on?).

But, if we’re being frank here: I don’t see the Democrats doing anything with the majority anyway (they always, invariably, find an excuse not to). Now they’re on some grand campaign to gaslight America, to try and make people believe that their material conditions aren’t actually worse, that things aren’t really hard right now, that inflation and housing and jobs and everything in between isn’t really affecting them… that we all just don’t understand, which – in my own personal experience – is the D’s traditional line when they’re pinned up against the wall. And this is, sadly, exactly why the vast majority of people in America see them as elitist assholes who, frankly, do not serve anyone but themselves.

The bottom line that hardline Democrats are failing to understand is that average Americans – the people that vote only when they care about something – are not party line voters. They will not Vote Blue No Matter who if Blue doesn’t do anything for them before the next election. Republicans get it, they give their voters the things that they explicitly are elected to do (often times, judges and an elimination of government control). Numbers of non partisan or so-called Independent voters have grown in exponential numbers, around the country, for decades, and it’s why so many of our elections are unpredictable, and communities are largely a purple swath of people that sway with their conditions at the time the ballots are cast.

Blaming people is an ineffective tool if but only because of all those factors I mentioned getting in the way. Among them are: a refusal to reform the filibuster, a refusal to utilize the bully-pulpit of the Presidency, an Administration that is both ignorant and incompetent on important issues until it is too late (see: Omicron, baby formula), a President that is living in the past (the days of bipartisan deals and being good friends with Mitch), and, well, capitalism.

Even on issues like the economy, Joe Biden has a fiscal policy that is politically to the right of Nixon. Just think about that for a minute. President Nixon – a traitor to democracy – did more for economic stabilization to stave off inflation and recession than Joe Biden will. His plan for the economy is laughable, at best. Beyond the fact that average Americans are largely unaffected by the deficit (an arbitrary and made up concept to begin with), the bulk of his plan to deal with inflation and the economy is all the talking points of that failed piece of legislation – Build Back Beyond, or whatever it was called – that Manchin vetoed, they promised to break up, and haven’t talked about since. They’re empty promises, just like COVID funding and calling on Congress to do something about guns. Rather than flex the powers of the executive branch that Biden actually does have, he’s making remarks, letting his Administration correct them, saying he didn’t see pretty much everything coming (including the formula shortage, which is unforgivable as I see it), then heading home for a three day weekend in Delaware, seemingly just as much as Trump used to golf. It’s insanity!

(And I say this all as a Democrat, with absolutely no skin in the game. Think about that one too…)

Around My World

Welp, the lesson I’m learning now is that when you go through hard shit, you learn who your real friends and family are.

We’ve been looking for a rental since January, and shit just gets uglier and uglier by the day.

We’ve now spent $3,960 on non-refundable application fees, and the rejections are getting stupider by the day. Today, after being effectively approved on a home, we were then told “sorry, a military family contacted us we’re going with them.” This is the second time this happened in the last two weeks.

My daughter who is 14 went with my husband to one viewing, and the realtor showing the home thought she was his girlfriend. I guess not getting selected for that home was a blessing in disguise.

We are now at three homes that we are waiting to hear back on. This is how it goes. It’s 3 then 5 then down to 2; it got so confusing at a point that I had to make a spreadsheet for us to keep track, which is a depressing sheet of just strikes through addresses and notes like “probably not going to work for us too small,” and “has 117 other applicants.”

So as of now we’re at three, one is ideal for our family, another sort of ideal but outdated, and the third was a scene of a crime today when, three doors down, a man was arrested after the chopped up remains of his mother were found in the community dumpster.

Meanwhile, we’re still in our temporary rental. It has dampness and mold, no ventilation, an outdated circuit breaker that could catch fire at any moment with all the lights around the house flickering, and no emergency exit that will open. The dampness has caused me to have a sinus infection for 4 weeks now, and I am covered in hives; but God forbid I mention that in casual conversation, then – it’s becoming more and more common – I never hear from whomever I’m talking to again.

It’s not that I mean to just complain all the time. It’s just that this is a pretty big thing going on in our lives right now, and when people ask how things are going, I take that to mean they actually want to know…

Because that’s the real lesson in all of this. Not that California’s housing crisis is greater than anyone not experiencing it could ever imagine. Not that 45% of the state is a renter and virtually no one in public office on any level is doing anything to represent them with the urgency of this unprecedented crisis. Not that landlords are literal scum, and your house can literally harm you physically.

No, it’s that when these types of things happen, a lot of people in your life just… disappear. Because it makes them feel bad to talk about their vacations when they know you have to spend your spare cash on application fees, and an $800 a month gas bill so your kids can still go to their activities after you had to move out of town.

To them I just have to say: I am very sorry that my personal predicament makes you uncomfortable in your privilege.

There are also those that themselves contribute to the problem by hoarding empty homes, or subjugating the middle and working class into uninhabitable conditions as landlords. I’m not saying that all landlords are bad, just that if you are a landlord or employed somehow in this line of work, and find yourself justifying (or attempting to justify) ostensibly horrible conditions and situations… I don’t know, maybe you’re just a horrible person. I’ll never forget the conversation I had with a friend about mold in the kitchen cabinets; a friend who herself works as a property manager for a relatively large company in Los Angeles County. She said to me “well you know you can’t expect to have a home AND have it be livable all the time,” and that – ladies and gentlemen – was the end of our friendship.

Ah well…

You Can’t Unsee This

Sorry to burst your bubble. This is the current rate of COVID transmission in the US. You are being lied to if someone is telling you it’s over. It’s not. COVID is still very real. Living with it does not mean just infecting people all willy-nilly (more on that in a post next week…).

Get your masks back on, at least in situations where vulnerable people may be present. Consider scaling back on gatherings.

And if this monkeypox thing blows up…

STFU Fridays

I live in Southern California, but the truth to the matter is that all over the world people are experiencing the changing climate. A part of that is that droughts like we have never experienced are cropping up all over.

The effects this will have on crops, life in general, is a more serious conversation for another day. For now, I’d like to talk about people with grass lawns, and golf courses.

In So Cal, we have been restricted to only water once per day, and who-boy have the crazies come out.

One group is asking why we are building more apartments and houses if we don’t have enough water infrastructure to water our palatial lawns and take 2 hour showers every day. Well, first and foremost, all those people that are living in RVs, in homeless encampments, in tents in people’s backyards, in their cars, in local motels… they have a right to live in a home too. They exist. They are more important than your fucking grass yard and 1970s ol’ reliable washing machine, Janice. Unless they all just up and die (which, to be frank, I’m sure many of these NIMBY fucks would be fine with), they need a place to live. This doesn’t have a single thing to do with watering restrictions. So shut the fuck up to them.

But also, and this is going to blow all of your minds, the people defending the watering restriction and conservation guidelines need to shut the fuck up too. I know! Crazy, right?

Wrong.

In California, as an example, only 10% of water usage is attributed to people’s homes. Brushing your teeth a little less, taking shorter showers, washing your clothes less frequently, and only watering your lawns once or less a week, is not going to do a damn thing to really make the sizable dent in the water reserves that will be needed for the long term. So the people going after those complaining about grass lawns and their plants dying for real need to shut the fuck up. Because who you need to really go after are the golf courses, high schools, businesses, and agricultural sectors not doing their part.

There is absolutely no reason why golf courses and high school football fields should be exempt from water restrictions, and yet they are. More to the point: Big Ag could make substantial changes to their watering processes to irrigate more efficiently and with less run off, but they won’t because – duh – Big Money.

Rather than go after someone reasonably pissed that all the investment they’ve made in their yard – whether you agree with that investment or not – is about to die (because watering once per day is honestly not going to keep a damn thing alive), why not focus your anger at the politicians and the golf course and agriculture lobbyists that are passing the ultimate burden onto the rest of us? Because they are the enemy, and until you recognize that I think it’s time to just…

… well, you know…

The Newsletter: Issue #11

Don’t you love how every time I say I’m going to try to get back into writing the newsletter every week, and then I – like – say I’m going to really and truly hold myself accountable “this time,” I then disappear on the newsletter-front for about a month? Or more? Every time?

Well anyway…

Around the World

So how about that monkeypox?

What an absolute shit show this world is. We have Russia continuing to hedge the world closer and closer to World War 3, an ongoing SARS2 pandemic that is just being made worse by incompetent public officials and capitalist governments, Roe is about to be overturned, and now we have monkeypox, aka mini small pox.

So if you aren’t following BNO Newsroom on Twitter yet, I highly recommend you do so. They post about a number of news items, including a tracker on COVID and now, I guess, monkeypox. What’s so scary about monkeypox I think is actually that it’s spread much more widely and rapidly than in previous outbreaks, which implies that something about it, or us, may have changed; and the fact that its closest relative in small pox can spread 9 miles through the air. While they know what to do, how to deal with it that is… I think the trauma response from the last two years of absolute clusterfuck that’s been COVID is just rearing its head.

Know how to deal with it, or not, I just have no interest.

Beyond pandemic disease, the ongoing climate crisis (which I, personally, believe the pandemic disease stuff is a part of), and all the other shit going on (war, economy, gas prices… you know…), it’s election season. If you’re in California, it’s time to get your ballots in. And while I don’t know the schedules of all the other states, I do know you need to vote, even if it’s just writing yourself in because practically everyone else in public office or politics right now is a piece of shit.

(There, I said it. Someone had to. And yes, I wrote myself in on at least one spot of my ballot.)

What’s interesting about the primary election is that it’s happening as COVID is surging, and so – like it or not – I think this is profoundly impacting both people’s votes, and pandemic policy.

As we see cases of COVID in SoCal, and hospitalizations along with them, rise rapidly, officials still hold their trigger fingers on bringing masks back – even in notoriously mask-friendly Los Angeles. Personally, I understand keeping them off in places like movie theaters and restaurants – those are totally optional entertainment venues, risk takers beware.

But now it’s spread (that mask-free life, I mean) to pharmacies, grocery stores, and doctors offices, which is just insane. People don’t have a choice to stay away from them, so of all the places we should have masks it’s there. And yet, we have no policy, which makes me believe that the election is – once again – swaying health policy. In the words (or word) of Donald Trump: SAD!

Apparently at least a few people agree with me; late last night I posted a Twitter poll and almost all respondents believed that the election is at least partially influencing mask policy.

Around My World

Welp, we’ve been looking for a new place to move to. Again. I know, I know. We just moved, but we know how to get out of our lease easily, and legally; and so we’ve been looking for a new spot back home and out of this remarkably bad, potentially dangerous, situation.

The whole experience of finding a rental in California is so strange. On one hand, 45% of Californians rent, and so you would think that there would be some basic understanding that renters are people too. In my county, this constitutes roughly 400,000 people – that’s no small number of people, and they rent for a variety of reasons, including convenience.

Yet still, you come across so many people that consider renters to just be the absolute scum of the Earth, which is rich when you consider the fact that if it weren’t for that so-called scum, landlords would not have so much extra money from which to avail their own lifestyles.

There is then, of course, the whole matter of going to look at places, only to be confronted with the conditions that they present.

Earlier in the week, we visited a house that was literally crumbling apart. I mean the wall was crumbling to the ground during the viewing. The owner had marked the price so ridiculously high for the amount of square footage she was offering, and admitted in the course of the tour that she was simply trying to recoup her expenses from repairs she had to do before renting it out.

That’s not… how it works…

Then yesterday, we visited a home that was being rented out by a property management company. The home was previously being rented by a couple of real estate agents that had moved to the area and rented while purchasing their own home; they said they were moving out in the middle of July.

So we showed up for the open viewing, which meant about 10 other people showed up as well. We all waited and waited, for no one to be there. Someone finally called the property management company and – apparently – the realtor that had been living there had agreed to show the home. Well she wasn’t there, so she lied; so this man from the management company came over to let everyone (that remained) in.

I’m surprised anyone could get in the front door.

This. House. Was. Trashed. We are talking garbage all over the floor, on the counters. A white board piled on top of their kid’s highchair. Counters covered in products; laundry baskets everywhere, Target bags all over the floor. It looked like a literal tornado had come through the room.

While I completely and 100% respect the struggle of a family with young kids, if you’re a realtor yourself and you (a) do not show up when you say you will, and (b) leave the house in a literally unshowable condition, you’re a dick. You’ve treated your peer in the field (the property manager) and his clients with total disrespect. And you’ve made it nearly impossible for prospective renters to actually see the condition of the home (upon further reflection, I really wonder if that was the point).

It’s also a violation of a standard lease in California. I went back and looked at our last two leases: both state quite clearly that in the last 30 days before moving out, you agree to have the home available and in a clean condition for viewing.

Again, I sympathize with being a busy parent, but that’s not what was going on here, and for us it made it difficult to even assess if the home would work. Many people walked in, saw the mess, and just walked out.

We have some furniture that requires space, so we needed to be able to measure a couple of spaces to make sure it would all fit. There were rooms we could not even get in to. The doors would not open. How could we possibly make the call to take that rental under those conditions? Surely someone will accept that kind of shit, just as in the case with the crumbling home from earlier in the week; but just because someone will does not make it right to expect them to. And that fails, on top of everything else, to recognize that you are responsible for the condition of the home, even if you’ve accepted it as is. This is to say that as a renter, if the house is crumbling, you take responsibility for that – including, when it comes time to return your security deposit.

I think this speaks to a bigger issue: of thinking of renters as people that should just take whatever they can get. When I posted about it on Facebook, naturally several people came after me and said that the mess was not an issue, that I should be more sympathetic (I deleted the post shortly after putting it up, because – honestly – I just did not want to hear about how many people in my personal life are cool with professionals disrespecting each other, and treating renters like they don’t deserve to actually inspect a home they are planning to spend a significant chunk of their lives in). What about sympathy for renters that need to check the home though; for the ones that came to that showing today having taken time off work (there were at least two, that I could tell)?

Perhaps a bigger issue: why is it that we have to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, even when the facts tell us that in this instance we should not?

The only thing that will resolve this is hard and fast legislation and public policy that develops more housing to address both the needs and rights of the middle and working classes. Until then, it’s Target bags, and crumbling walls. If your furniture doesn’t fit, or the trash was covering holes in the floor… well you’re SOL.

You Can’t Unsee This

Today my kids were making collages with this amazing collage book my 14 year old has, and I decided to grab all the election mail trash I received and make my own. It sums up well what I think of most of our local electeds and politicians.

It’s called “Welcome to the Nothing Will Ever Chance Circus: Sorry About the Dilapidated Tent, In This Economy It’s All We Could Afford” The cost of admission to the circus is a $50 campaign contribution, and a blood oath to Big Oil. There are several candidates featured, one has a bright red clown nose, one has a number of supporters that are racist so I made his head pointy and have him saying “My head is as pointy as my supporters’ white hoods.”

In the foreground is our State Assemblywoman. She’s a real thorn in my side, because in 2020 when I ran for city council, she – a Democratic woman – endorsed my opponent – a misogynistic Trump Republican – and even sent out mailers against me – also a Democratic woman. At a candidate’s event she and I were both in attendance, she made perhaps the stupidest comment I have ever heard a candidate make, so I immortalized it in my collage. She says “At the 2020 Islamic Center candidate forum, I was asked what I would do for the Muslim community of Ventura County if re-elected. I didn’t plan to do anything, so I responded “I enjoy your food.””

True story.

STFU Fridays

I don’t have many to say shut the fuck up to this week, but I do still have one in me for a handful of the people that had the audacity over the last couple of days to tell me that candidates should not be judged by their donors.

Only an insipid clown in the show at the Nothing Will Ever Change Circus would think that campaign finance does not have a direct correlation to what a candidate goes on to do, or more often not do, while in office.

To them, I say shut the fuck up. Real hard.

And for the rest of you, if you happen to be local to me, this was in response to a voter guide I posted just outlining some of the highlights from the local races and their campaign finance reports. I don’t usually post these kinds of hyper-local things on this blog, but it seemed an important election to do so. If you fall in that group, you can find that HERE.

Have a good weekend everyone. Rest up, you just don’t know what’s up next in the roller coaster that is 2022.

Personal Responsibility Is Not Public Health

What kind of a shit show is going on over there at the White House, anyway? The new approach of people taking individualistic, personal responsibility, for whether or not they get COVID, and how they fair with it, is some wild ass horse shit I never saw coming.

Wild ass horse shit.

I feel like the Biden Administration, including his COVID Task Force, covered a piece of lumber with rusty nails and beat me over the face with it. Or they’re imploding. Or they’re just giving up and don’t give a fuck anymore.

Personal responsibility is not public health.

It’s quite literally antithetical to the word “public,” to the concept of public health. The scope of public health is, of course, to protect the community and the public, not cowtow to airline CEOs and Blue MAGAts that stopped caring the minute they were protected and found out it was just the Blacks and Browns, and the poors, mostly being affected.

A few problems with their Spring 2022 approach:

“We Have Solid Leadership”

No. We don’t.

We have people that tell us to live with COVID, while giving us no means to do so, or to spell out the risks of it so everyone understands.

We have people who lead by gaslighting; who say that COVID can be managed safely, while showing the world how they do it without disclosing the vast privileges they have above and beyond what average Americans have access to.

This is not leadership, and more and more we’re now hearing stories about people getting very sick, because they simply didn’t know any better but to listen to the President of the United States, whose primary focus is to keep you spending money and working more.

Perhaps the most disingenuous aspect of COVID in the US right now is in the vaccinations. Beyond the lie that we would have an Omicron vaccine by now, or that we could tweak the vaccines quickly, is the scandal of letting data sit for other vaccines while people die. Novavax has been on the FDA’s desk since January, Covaxin pediatric vaccine was denied with no reason; parents are being forced to wait for Moderna so Pfizer has an equal shot at getting product in arms. Did you all know that in the UK they have 6 vaccines? In Canada they have 8. Why do we deserve only a couple, and why are we not getting some honesty with the American people that for the vast majority, they’re as good as not vaccinated at this point?

Oh I know. Because corporations and the economic outlook.

Less than 50% of Americans are boosted. 30% of Americans boosted over 6 months ago. The vaccines don’t last forever, Karen… in fact, they don’t even last a year, which means that many people have zero protection; and Omicron BA 1 conferred no protection.

Did you get that? None.

We don’t have leaders warning people, telling people that now the question isn’t have you gotten COVID, but how many times have you had it? We have no one out in front being frank about the risks of getting long COVID, or a more serious case, with each successive infection.

If you all read nothing else I have to say, read this: the President of the United States does not give a fuck about you. They tell you you can take off your mask without knowing your personal health status. They tell you it’s safe because they want you spending money, and because some political consultant with his head up his ass thought it would help with the Midterms. They tell you “we have the tools” without funding those tools so that you can have them too.

And now they make jokes about it, as they did Saturday night. 1 million Americans are dead, millions more disabled; but the White House Correspondence Dinner was a good time to crack jokes at the expense of those victims, at an event held amidst unprecedented springtime community transmission nationally.

“We Have the Tools”

No. We don’t.

They do, and I guess for them that’s all that matters. But in many communities, Paxlovid and other treatments, including the preventative monoclonal Evushield, are still just… not widely available.

(And also, the United States is urgently studying whether or not Paxlovid and Mulnipovir have a widely observed infection rebound effect, which is fucking great if you want the drugs to be worthless by the fall/winter surge.)

There is no vaccine for the variants currently circulating, either.

No improved ventilation, pretty much anywhere.

But it isn’t even just that. In many areas, testing and vaccinations are gone for the uninsured. The free at home tests have run out, so have the masks you can pick up in the pharmacy. Congress has failed to pass funding for COVID, which we all saw coming when they gutted it from their omnibus budget (more than 50% of which was for military spending) earlier in the year. They always say “we’ll do it later, as a separate bill.” But as with their social spending bill that was burned to the ground by a single Democratic senator from West Virginia: it’s all smoke and bluster up the bum.

We also don’t have a CDC with integrity, an FDA free of special interest, and a White House COVID Task Force with an actual strategy.

“We Know What To Do”

No. We don’t.

At the same time the White House was hosting a poorly ventilated, mask-less, super-spreader this weekend, Amazon was making the announcement that they would no longer be offering 5 days of sick pay to employees who test positive for COVID 19. As a replacement, they offer 5 excused, unpaid days.

Personal responsibility as a response to a public health crisis.

Companies have already been doing this, but Amazon’s official change in practice will be the opening of the dam for the rest of the water to break. COVID protections in the workplace are over.

If an employee tests positive, they don’t know what to do. Go to work? Or stay home? If they stay home, how will they pay the bills?

They don’t know.

If a coworker tests positive, and you have an immune-compromising condition or comorbidity, are you protected? Don’t know. Should you wear a mask? Not sure. Should you get tested? Where?

No substantive public policy was ever made to address ventilation in the workplace, nor guarantee sick pay to protect others. We have the tools? We know what to do? We have leadership on this? The fuck we do.

But it isn’t just that. An important tool for people to assess their personal risk – given their own health conditions and vaccination status – is to know conditions on the ground in their own communities. But by and large, states and counties have cut further and further back on reporting. In California, we now only get numbers twice a week; in my county, it’s only on Mondays. Moreover, the CDC completely redefined their levels of transmission, and COVID ACT NOW has eliminated the rate of transmission on any portion of their website (while claiming it’s still available).

Information is another kind of tool, and it’s being intentionally restricted. Why? I have my suspicions, and I’ll meet you at Applebees to discuss it. (See what I did there?)

We can talk later until we are blue in the faces about why this is happening, and the real crisis of morals America – nay, the world – finds itself in. For now, we need to focus on the fix. What is the solution at this point? For myself, I’m not sure. I’m doing everything I can to keep my own family safe, but finding it increasingly more difficult to do so when I don’t even know what is lingering on the other side of our front door.

The Biden Administration has made themselves abundantly clear, and beyond just being about economic interests, I believe it’s about election prospects this year as well. But letting the pandemic reach it’s most fucked up point yet, with more people than ever saying that at least with Trump we had funding (I would be one of them), it’s hard to see how the Democrats can expect to do anything but lose this year. Bigly.

The consequences of this of course will be disastrous, but what do we do? Sit and lie, gaslight even ourselves and say everything is fine? Or do the opposite: advocate louder and harder for a reverse course, even if it means Blue MAGA cancels us as radical and “anti-vax” (an absurd accusation unto its own that has grown among elite, neoliberal Democratic circles in recent weeks).

But I am still an optimist on this, probably to a fault. It’s never too late to fix this. To admit mistakes, take responsibility, and kick COVID in the balls.

There’s that word again though. Responsibility. The government is making damn sure to demand it from us, while making it impossible for anyone to really and truly do so in a way that is ethical and fair.

And, at the same time, they are running away from any of it themselves.

You can’t point the finger forever though. At some point, you’re left with no one to point at but yourself. I just hope we change course before that’s all that’s left.

What If COVID Is The Beginning of the End?

Of course my big disclaimer here is that I am not a doctor and have no science degree. But, I do believe heartily in climate change, and I would wager a guess that the pandemic caused by SARS-COV2 and all of its variants are actually the beginning of massive and catastrophic climate change.

We know that the ability for SARS-COV2 to jump so easily from bats to humans, and to continue to adapt and mutate into variants, was accelerated by climate change. This is a fact.

But what if COVID was actually the climate crisis… kicking off?

The signs are everywhere. From the inability to get the pandemic under control, the constant mutations that are now spitting out at such a speed of rapidity, every day a huge new list is spewed out by the World Health Organization; to the other emerging co-infections that are wreaking havoc around the world (such as the hepatitis that is mysteriously causing liver failure in kids all over the world, many of whom had confirmed cases of recent COVID and adenovirus). COVID is now the most transmissible virus in recorded history, and it became as such in just under two year’s time. Ebola is also an epidemic again, with the second death confirmed today; animals are seeing their own viral outbreaks, including hemorrhagic rabbit disease, and bird flu has been spreading through out North America for a while now.

As if this weren’t enough, today China announced its first confirmed case of H3N8 influenza in a human. This sort of just flew under the radar of the news cycle, but anyone that knows anything about avian influenza knows that this is bad news. There are several types that, if they become more transmissible between humans, will obliterate half the human race. This is not hyperbolic either; at least one avian flu cropping up monthly now has a greater-than 50% mortality rate.

It seems like disease is spreading more far and widely than ever before, and it’s mutating and adapting to be able to jump from animal to human to animal again with increased speed as well. I’ve seen enough documentaries to know that this was to be expected as a piece of the climate changing – our ecosystem is changing, and in many ways falling apart.

But again… what if this isn’t just arbitrary and minor change, but rather the beginning of the catastrophe?

Last week, right before Earth Day, several scientists got a little blurb at the bottom of the news screen for chaining themselves outside their office building to raise attention to the pending doom the world faces if drastic measures are not taken. The United Nations then issued a statement saying we have 36 weeks to reduce carbon emissions from every major carbon emitter in the world; and this doesn’t even take into account the real thing not being discussed: methane from commercial farming. (Why is no one talking about this?) Then, on Earth Day, a Buddhist and climate activist lit himself on fire in front of the Supreme Court over the catastrophe descending upon us all.

And then, everyone just went about their weekends.

But what if these warnings are too late? Obviously they’ve mostly fallen on deaf ears, and the media cannot be bothered to report on them, or even when they do to do so with the urgency of the message contained. Don’t Look Up wasn’t supposed to be a How To manual, but it sure as hell seems that it is being treated as one. And what if we really are too late? Certainly, I’ve seen some scientists on Twitter suggest that at this point, it’s about survival. I know you’ve all seen some of those takes too. When we look at the way our government is handling COVID at this stage (well, all along)… maybe that’s true.

Maybe they even already know.

It’s a grim thought, but when you look at the somewhat-state of nature, post-apocalyptic world we live in today, it’s hard not to see this as the actual turning point. The point from which we realize there is no return. Through the last two years of this pandemic, the world has also seen bizarre weather phenomenon – hurricanes of untold strength, tornadoes where tornadoes typically don’t … land… I’m not suggesting a Biblical apocalypse (though I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if one day we see people shooting up into the sky, should God and the Rapture actually be what’s real).

I’m saying that what I see COVID as now is the beginning of the climate crisis that scientists have been warning us about for years. And just as the COVID variants changed in ways and on a timeline that defied the science as we knew it, the climate crisis and how it will play out has as well.

And it makes sense to me – a non-scientist. In the climate catastrophe, everything we knew about the empirical world changes. The true hubris of modern science leads us to believe we know exactly how and when it will all happen, but the truth is: we don’t. COVID reminds us of that. …that science really doesn’t know until after the fact. After it has data it can test with. Like the way economists don’t know a recession has occurred until after we’ve been in it for several months, couldn’t scientists not know the climate catastrophe has begun until after it’s had a while to observe and gather the data?

This certainly makes sense to me.

People always say “yeah, if we handled COVID this poorly, just think how we’ll handle climate change!” Except COVID is climate change. COVID has been made worse by the organic processes that result of a changing climate; just as the human behaviors that caused the changing climate have fed into the trajectory of the pandemic. But I think it’s time to delineate between climate change, and climate catastrophe. Between the slide to the end, and the end.

What if COVID isn’t the slide to the end? What if COVID is the beginning of the end?

The Newsletter: Issue #10

So much is going on in the world, and in my world: it’s a little bit of a whirl wind. I’ve been trying to post more in general, keep up on my social media following; and to keep up on this newsletter too. So let’s get to it.

Around the World

Somehow I got sucked into the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial. I’m never into these types of things – like ever – but then I see it streaming live on my For You page on Tik Tok, and I’m hooked.

One thing I think that I’ve noticed above all the details, the commentary, the cutting off the middle finger thing – all of it; is how authentic Johnny Depp is. Between his clarity on specific details of conversations, his bizarre hair dos, facial hair, and attire/accessories, to his remarkable pride in having quit using opioids, Depp – in all his weirdness and classically Depp deadpans – is unapologetically himself. Does that make sense? Regardless of the trial, or how it all turns out, that is what I take away from this.

Of course the other big obvious going on in the world is that COVID is going masks off-balls out, and yet the government is scaling back its efforts and funding in ways we probably never saw coming, no matter how bad things have been. (Just remember: it can always get worse, right?)

With variants upon variants cropping up that are just, to many of us, terrifying, it’s hard to really know what to believe. And yet, the doctors of Twitter and the mainstream media seem to have also flown the coop. Some, like Leana Wen from CNN, have gone batshit crazy, blocking major figures in public health, and even Marked by Covid (the largest national advocacy and lobby group for survivors and families of victims from COVID 19) from viewing and reacting to her comments on social media, all the while accusing the world of bullying and harassing her for having unpopularly eugenic views; while others, like Jeremy Faust, have decided it’s time to monetize.

I find the latter to be, frankly, stunning. This guy started writing a newsletter less than a year ago, and has fewer email subscribers than little old me, and yet he’s still thinking it’s a good time to grift. For $5 more a month than your favorite 99 cent game app on your iPhone, or regular emails from WaPo, you can get, as Faust describes it: “…after I publish, I realize that there are more considerations worth sharing for people who want to go deeper…”

Whenever I criticize this, people say “running a website isn’t free, Heather.” Sure, yeah, I definitely know that. As evidenced by the website I run, here. But if you are doing something for the sake of public health, monetizing a website that can be thrown together, maintained, used to host your email server, and give you a unique domain, for around $100 a year or less, when you’re a doctor that also makes high dollar media appearances… well, I don’t know… monetizing your very important medical information and advice seems sort of grossly capitalistic.

But America is a capitalism, and our healthcare is for those with the means only, right?

One more thing that is absolutely bananas to me going on in the world, of course, is this:

Around My World

It’s a bit of a shit show in my personal life. We really are not adjusting to the new house well at all. My kids and their entire communities are around 30-45 minutes away from home (depending on the day and traffic). This isn’t a situation where we are like the military, where moves and changes are expected and a part of life. We will continue to get our kids back to our old city to be with friends and their sports and social stuff, it’s just … really really stressful to juggle it all (and the cost of gas doing so).

Of course you guys all got my email yesterday about Hello Kitty Toaster coming back for a pop in.

Meanwhile, at our new house, I’ve recently discovered that across from our house is a home that I am 90% sure is occupied by squatters.

The people that own the home live in Texas for the bulk of the year. They just keep this home to use casually when they visit their adult children in town. Now we’ll save the fact that people that own multiple homes only for one to sit empty most of the year, while the rest of us scramble for any slum we can find to pay 46% of our monthly take home pay to live in, are making me more upset by the day, because these types of practices (their right, or not) have irreparably harmed my family, I still feel something of an obligation to … at the very least investigate.

I’m finding myself become more and more like Tom Hanks in The ‘Burbs, by the day. I’ve camped out on the living room couch for about two weeks now, waking up in the middle of the night, taking photos of the lights on, searching around the gated and upper-middle income community in which we live for any signs of something amiss… I even considered buying binoculars.

I’ll keep you guys posted.

You Can’t Unsee This

Presented without comment:

STFU Fridays

Again, with the masks.

I know, I know, but hear me out: even if you don’t give a shit about masks, you only care about yourself and what you feel in terms of protection, and you are just done with this whole pandemic…

… you could still keep your fucking mouth shut to those that still mask.

Monday the mask mandate for travel and public transportation was lifted by some dumb-dumb judge with no public health experience or expertise whatsoever, and the world cheered. (I wrote about it HERE.)

Within a day, accounts of people being shamed and bullied for still wearing masks cropped up.

The highest profile person I saw post about it was Trump’s Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, who has – oddly enough – become the voice of reason these last several months. You really know things are bad if any of Trump’s folks are the voice of reason, but we can save that conversation for another day. Adams went to board a flight, and a Delta pilot made some snarky comment about how he should take off his mask and breathe the fresh air. Adams posted about it on Twitter, and the anti-maskers went WILD on him.

Really? Just shut the fuck up. The fact that these people got what they wanted, but did not stop it there, indicates – at least to me – that it was never really about freedom or their personal choice. It was about an ideology and what the masks represent: weakness, fear, and probably a little bit of racism towards cultures in which face coverings are the norm.

Gross.

So to them, I say: shut the fuck up. Just shut your fucking mouth, and cough all over people all you want. You won! At least for now. We’ll all still be there to empathize with you when COVID bites you in the ass, because the data doesn’t lie on the promise that sooner or later, it will.

One more thing…

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Happy Weekend!