Tag Archives: Covid-19

Late-stage Pandemic

It’s the last week of April, 2021.

It’s five weeks since my first COVID-19 vaccine shot, and one week since my second.

It’s daylight hours in a Groundhog Day limbo, in which time no longer seems to have any meaning beyond the wheel of dawn to noon to dusk to night, a repetitive loop which it’s impossible to define as having any ending or beginning.

That last one might be a dramatic exaggeration, but the feeling is certainly not just me; on Monday ProPublica began an official e-mail with the words “In an era in which time has grown increasingly hazy…”

Yesterday, the CDC made a confusing announcement blessing a few limited unmasked activities for fully vaccinated people, all of which activities people have been doing without masks or vaccination.

Everywhere it seems like this has all just outlived our capacity to sustain it, at least in the sense of an acute crisis during which we sort of hold our collective breath. There are many many caveats here, the most important being that I’m not an expert in virology or public health and you should seek one out if you want expert guidance on the COVID-19 pandemic. For the personal reflections of one 42-year-old mostly vaccinated Very Online American, read on.

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The Consortium Calls It

Friday evening a friend wondered “Are they gonna call the election in a Friday news dump?” I laughed, and had been musing on the same question earlier in the day. Though the notion amuses, the alternative carried out today by “they” is much richer.

Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020 concludes a week which is a microcosm of contemporary America:

  1. Political debate has conceptually been devoured by a sectarian/race war
  2. Bad rules thwart the majority from doing anything effective about the above, or about the bad rules, or about much of anything
  3. In this dysfunction, power defaults more and more to corporate capital
  4. For ordinary people, conditions get worse, intensified by a dangerous natural phenomenon which could easily be controlled by a functional modern civilization, but which in this case is largely allowed to burn as it will because that’s the option most suited to short-term corporate profits
  5. Meanwhile few people even give much notice to any of this, because our information and conceptual infrastructure is hopelessly misaligned with what’s really going on, owing to a combination of senescence and sabotage
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Decline and Fall of Iowa State University

The news, yesterday, that Iowa State University plans to host a massive COVID-19 superspreader event at Jack Trice Stadium feels like a fade-to-black moment.

I was a critic of Iowa State even as a student, and if my early criticism wasn’t always very good, with 20 years’ hindsight I still think that by graduation I was making reasonable complaints. Recent years, however, seem to reveal a trend which makes this latest destructive act less than completely shocking, no matter how appalling it is.

“Planegate” in 2016 might, by itself, have been a one-off fiasco. Yet that same year, Iowa State University of Science and Technology awarded a degree to a contemporary Republican elected official; Kim Reynolds has gone on to demonstrate that category’s dependable anti-science hackery with one of the worst pandemic responses of any governor in the entire U.S.

The following year, Iowa State cooperated quietly and fully with the state government’s Republican hacks when they robbed the university and public of the Iowa Energy Center, so that the utility industry could corrupt and dismantle it. I wrote letters at the time, protesting, but the fix was apparently in.

Seeing Iowa State University now embrace the plague state approach of disastrous buffoonery and reckless denial, right along with Reynolds and Trump, feels like turning out the last lights. The descent into darkness has been underway for quite a while. This is just arrival.

Realistically we have a lot bigger problems so I can’t even feel particularly heartbroken. The Iowa State University of the late 1990s served me well, but I have not had any real relationship with the institution since other than sentiment. I have still barely made any beginning at adapting, mentally, for the different world we’re entering, but a capacity to let go of purely sentimental ties to the past without a lot of fuss is probably the low-hanging fruit here.

I could write more, but probably, the substantive concept to carry forward is simply that there will be more like this. A few months ago a friend texted me at 1 a.m. “it’s time to pick sides.” Iowa State University of Science and Technology has decided to side with destructive recklessness and fraud.

Postscript: Iowa State University did abandon this disastrous idea, which is far better than plowing ahead. But pre-game tailgating went right ahead even as Iowa continues to set new COVID-19 records. As the late Pete Taylor would often say in exasperation, good night!

What if: President HRC’s America

Not that I need hypothetical demonstrations of how disastrously, deeply wrecked is America’s culture. There are real demonstrations all around us.

Yet over the past few years, I have asked myself numerous times whether these deep problems would be any less entrenched had Hillary Clinton won enough close-call states in the rust belt to carry the Electoral College in 2016. Not because I think Trump’s presidency has been any kind of “blessing in disguise,” as it has obviously in fact been a nightmare.

It just keeps feeling like a powerful way to check how much has really been ruined already, to ask “what if the entire Trump presidency had never been?” That seems like quite an incredible improvement compared with where we are now.

Yet, in terms of the deep and stubborn problems and what’s likely in store for us over the next decade, even this thought experiment doesn’t convincingly offer more hope.

Various examples I could find from other authors tend to reach similar conclusions as my own, in terms of “what if Hillary had become president.” Basically she would have become promptly mired in the same political cold war which has been ongoing constantly since at least 2009, with even worse prospects for reversing the losing trend.

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Preview: industrial civilization vs climate change

I can’t figure out now how I even found this thread. The thread itself made some more sense after I realized that it’s from an American Enterprise Institute hack, though I still don’t know how I encountered it unless Twitter coughed it up during one of its reversions of my timeline to “Top Tweets” before I shut that shit off like I always do.

That aside, I still think there’s significance in my initial reaction: the thread is a summary of industrial civilization’s response to climate change, past present and likely future.

The context of the Twitter thread is COVID-19 and America’s complete botch job of containing it. The corporate technocrat’s response is unhappy acknowledgment that current conditions are unacceptable, and that some kind of small shared sacrifice from everyone regardless of wealth would help, but the real solution is entirely a matter of waiting for technology to restore control over this disruptive natural phenomenon.

The entire thread also seems like a dismally accurate caricature of how the dominant culture reacts to climate change and is likely to continue doing.

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Black Lives Matter protests

It is difficult to summon up what I really think about everything happening. Is that because stress hinders brain function, or because the pattern of events going back a long ways suggests that the only reliable expectation for the months ahead is centrifugal forces growing stronger?

Is there a practical difference between the two?

It’s weird to watch all of this from home. Not that I’m just watching. I’m making my contribution with related activism.

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Twenty Years

I missed the 20-year anniversary of my college graduation by a day, but under the circumstances, you know. You’ll have that.

Twenty years ago I got a graduation ceremony—in fact I got two of them, one for the College of Design and one for Iowa State University Class of 2000 as a whole—whereas this year’s graduates get a webcast.

Halfway between then and now, I wrote about assorted life lessons at another blog.

Now we are living through a greater unraveling, and, yeah.

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