Category Archives: News & Politics

Moving Forward

No matter what happens as we are coming out of this crisis, we should never settle for returning to the status quo ante. We need to think of humans and our societies as living organisms; as interconnected and interdependent systems. When some of us are suffering, we must recognize it as an insult to all of us.

“We’re all in this together” doesn’t stop being true when this pandemic is “over.” It remains true except for those idiotic and stubborn people who still believe in rugged individualism as the ideal condition for humans to follow. In my opinion, that model is a recipe for disaster for all but people who live in the woods and, even then—with the exception of people like Ted Kaczynski—if they take advantage of roads, communication channels, and the efforts of entities like the US Forest Service, etc. they’re part of the gestalt that is humanity.

A friend of mine posted this quote on Facebook. It was posted by someone who I don’t know, and his name isn’t important here, but the quote is useful and is what prompted me to write what I did above:

“Indeed, you have to wonder if the virus is so very different from extractive capitalism. It commandeers the manufacturing elements of its hosts, gets them to make stuff for it; kills a fair few, but not enough to stop it spreading. There is no normal for us to go back to. People sleeping in the streets wasn’t normal; children living in poverty wasn’t normal; neither was our taxes helping to bomb the people of Yemen. Using other people’s lives to pile up objects wasn’t normal, the whole thing was absurd. Governments are currently busy pouring money into propping up existing inequalities, and bailing out businesses that have made their shareholders rich. The world’s worst people think that everybody is going to come out of this in a few months and go willingly back into a kind of numbing servitude. Surely it’s time to start imagining something better.”

~ Frankie Boyle

I was also sent a link to a wonderful essay in The Guardian’s “The Long Read” collection. I recommend it highly, though it is a long read. I’m memorializing it partly because I want to return to it and re-read it, perhaps numerous times. I see it as a booster to help me continue to advocate for fundamental structural change in our economy and our society. Our culture.

Here’s a quote, though there are so many useful ones in this particular essay, it’s hard to pick only one:

The first lesson a disaster teaches is that everything is connected. In fact, disasters, I found while living through a medium-sized one (the 1989 earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area) and later writing about major ones (including 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in Japan), are crash courses in those connections. At moments of immense change, we see with new clarity the systems – political, economic, social, ecological – in which we are immersed as they change around us. We see what’s strong, what’s weak, what’s corrupt, what matters and what doesn’t.

I often think of these times as akin to a spring thaw: it’s as if the pack ice has broken up, the water starts flowing again and boats can move through places they could not during winter. The ice was the arrangement of power relations that we call the status quo – it seems to be stable, and those who benefit from it often insist that it’s unchangeable. Then it changes fast and dramatically, and that can be exhilarating, terrifying, or both.

Finally, here’s a link to the article itself. Read it. You won’t regret it.


More Sorrow

Today’s COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. jumped 45% over the previous high, which was last Friday. As of a few minutes ago, there were still about six or seven states (and D.C.) that have yet to report their identified cases and deaths, but they shouldn’t add significantly to the overall figure as they’re smaller states, population-wise, that have yet to see a real outbreak.

I cried a little today, watching a couple of tributes to police officers who died from this virus. One was a woman, the other a couple who had both retired and were just beginning to enjoy being together. They died within a week of each other. None of them were able to have family with them during their last moments, though the woman’s family were able to record their last thoughts and have them played to her, even though she was unconscious. It was reported that she experienced an elevated heart rate while they were playing them.

Since nobody has truly come back from the dead yet (sorry, Jesus. Hit me up if you return “again,” please) we’ll never know if that wasn’t actually more painful for her emotionally or whether it uplifted her spirits. I wish we could know how she felt in those last moments. I want to believe she was comforted by hearing the voices of her loved ones. I know that’s what the HCWs had to be thinking. I’m having a hard time dealing with imagining what everyone is going through. It’s difficult when you’re empathetic. There’s going to be a lot of PTSD in this country when this is finally put behind us.


A Guy Can Dream, Eh?

Last night I dreamed I was grocery shopping. It’s not like I haven’t done so in the past few weeks. I think it’s because, unlike the past, when I could just stop into a store to pick up a few things, and a lot of our shopping was ad hoc, now we have to carefully plan and resign ourselves to not getting some of the things we’d like to have because it’s just too risky to be out there.

Last Monday (not yesterday Monday) I hit Trader Joe’s early, when us old folk are given an early hour to avoid the crush, picking up just about everything I figured we needed for the week. On Thursday, I had to take my youngest to her high school, where they were allowing kids a half hour—staggered, so there weren’t too many kids there at once—to empty their lockers. Afterwards, we hightailed it to Smart & Final to grab a few things we can’t get at Trader Joe’s.

That’s been it. However, I’ve been constantly thinking about how and when I need to get more groceries. It’s difficult to get a month’s worth of food, especially perishables, and especially when you haven’t done anything like it in your entire life. I think that accounts for the dream. It’s just on my mind more than it has ever been in the past.


Too Soon?

Taking my cue from Milquetoast Marmalade, let’s just say this is aspirational

Still working on my Photoshop skills. This was a difficult one. Finding the right pictures of each member of America’s premier crime family took some time. It’s not perfect, but you should be able to get the idea. Actually, drawing and quartering might be more appropriate, but there’s some historical significance to this method.

PS – Jared and Malaria probably ought to be in here too, but I’m tired of looking at all of them.


Amerikkkan Royalty

Ladies and Gentlemen: Presenting the one and only Trumpanovs, Amerikkka’s premier royal pain in the ass family. Would that their fate mirror that of another family they remind me of . . . whose particulars, for some reason, I can’t quite recall at the moment.

Just practicing my Photoshop skills

Ha Ha. JK. I mean them no harm, despite their being consummate grifters and thieves, liars and prevaricators, fools and fiends. I can overlook the kids in cages, the efforts to end Obamacare, the abject cruelty, and the utter criminal negligence (if not murderous intent) of the handling of this pandemic we’re finally hunkering down for in order to slow its progress. Of course I can. Can’t you? Just a bunch of kidders, right? No harm intended, right? Just good, clean graft and corruption. Not like it hasn’t happened before, right? Ha Ha! What a bunch of Jokers. Nothing to see here. Keep moving.


He’s Fakin’ It!

Cosplay is defined by Wikipedia thus: “[A] portmanteau of the words costume play, is a performance art in which participants called cosplayers wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character. Cosplayers often interact to create a subculture, and a broader use of the term ‘cosplay’ applies to any costumed role-playing in venues apart from the stage. Any entity that lends itself to dramatic interpretation may be taken up as a subject and it is not unusual to see genders switched. Favorite sources include anime, cartoons, comic books, manga, television series, and video games.”

I am of the opinion Donald Trump really isn’t the President, he’s merely a cosplayer pretending to be one. He’s clearly not interested in actually governing the nation, only in destroying what he and Steve Bannon refer to as the “Administrative (or Deep) State.”

In furtherance of making my point, and in getting some good practice in upping my Photoshop skills, I created a couple of memes expressing how I feel. Here’s the first one, which I posted on Facebook on March 7:

Playing the Big Shot

The second one, which I posted to FB on March 19, is a bit more elaborate, but kind of makes the same point:

Milquetoast Marmalade is his Cosplay Character’s Name

Regardless of the authenticity of his costume, I maintain he’s doing a really shitty job of acting the part. In fact, based on his performance with the COVID-19 pandemic response, I’m arguing he’s guilty of 2nd degree murder, but I’d settle for a conviction of negligent homicide, even maybe reckless endangerment. Anything to remove him from any position of authority over the workings of our government.


Quick Covid-19 Update

Looking back on the news, it appears Governor Newsom ordered a statewide shelter-in-place on the 19th of this month (03/19/20.) However, when I look at my calendar, I see we started doing it the previous day. So, despite what I said in an earlier post, today seems to be the 10th day of our hermitage.

I’ve been spending a fair amount of time tracking the course of this pandemic, especially here in the U.S. and my home state of California. In doing so, I created a meme showing how things are changing . . . actually, accelerating with time, just as we were told would happen. Here’s that meme, which I just updated as of a few minutes ago.

I’ve also been keeping track of the growing death rate and graphing it for myself. All the data I’m using is coming from a site called worldometer and there are numerous tables and charts available there for a breakdown of all the states, as well as a list of every country’s numbers for this virus. The link I’ve provided is to the page with U.S. info on the Corona virus. If you go to their home page, you’ll find links to all kinds of statistics. Check it out.

It’s worthy to note that the percentage of deaths to total cases is 0.0154, which is considerably higher than the rate for the flu. It’s really far too early to tell if that’s what the actual death rate is, as there are just too many unresolved cases. Based on the data available now, the percentage of deaths to total resolved cases is 0.385, which is astoundingly high. What we should glean from this, IMO, is that it’s just far too early in the trajectory of this disease to gather much useful information on lethality or recovery.

I don’t know if or when I’ll update this again. It’s fascinating, but also quite depressing. Perhaps I should just watch television. 😦


The Quiet Leadership That Matters Most

Well . . . this came at an auspicious time. This article was just shared by a friend on FB, in a local Indivisible group. It’s very short, but contains a TED Talk that’s a little over six minutes long. It’s really worth watching; game me the chills. Also, think about what we’re doing right now by staying home and practicing social distancing. I am certain it’s making a difference, thought it may be another couple of weeks before the numbers will make it clear. And, since I’m one of the people who’s theoretically inside the bullseye (age and comorbidities) I’m thankful to everyone who’s taking this seriously. I certainly am.

This moment that we are living through right now, is really rather extraordinary. Tens of millions of us are sitting at home. We don’t have our military patrolling the  streets, threatening to…

With respect to the subject of the video, there was a group of us at Rocketdyne who used to constantly say, “lead from where you are,” meaning “don’t wait for others to tell you what to do or how to do it; step up and step out. You know what to do. Now do it!” So, in addition to the speaker’s assertion that we need to accept ourselves as leaders, I would add we need to recognize the opportunities presented to us to do so. Enjoy the talk.

Source: The Quiet Leadership That Matters Most – Political⚡Charge


Social Separation – Day 10?

I’m not sure when we decided it was best to lock-down the ol’ homestead, but I think it was prior to the entire State of California doing so. I know it was before my County’s (Ventura) Health Dept. ordered our current lock-down and shelter-in-place restrictions. My City of Simi Valley was slow on the uptake, (at least in part) because most of the City’s “leaders” are very conservative Republicans and, no doubt, they believed Trump when he declared this a hoax. While it’s too early to draw any serious conclusions from what little data is available, according to VC Emergency, Simi Valley (population 125,851) has over twice the cases of both of the two largest cities in the County: Oxnard (population 209,877); and Thousand Oaks (population 127,690.)

Clear Evidence We’re Winning The Race To The Bottom, And Why You Need To Stay Indoors.

In the last 10 days I’ve been out of the house to shop for groceries three times. All three were after stores had announced special early hours for folks over 65 years old (I’m nearly 73), those with comorbidities (I have several) or whose immune systems are compromised, and pregnant women.

My first trip was to The Grocery Outlet, a store that specializes in purchasing closeouts. I wasn’t looking for anything other than fresh fruit and milk. There was very little, though I did manage to get two half pints of lowfat milk. I purchased a few canned items as long as I was there. They’ve got pineapple chunks for $0.99/can, which I consider a great deal and which is half the ingredients in one of my favorite comfort foods.

My second trip was to Vons, again early in the morning. They are opened from 7:00 am to 9:00 exclusively for the above-mentioned classes of people. It was pretty crowded, but I was able to shop for everything I needed (except eggs) and stay at least six feet apart from other folk. Even in the checkout lines, everyone was maintaining their distance, so it appeared a little busier than it would normally. That was last Thursday, I believe.

My third and final trip was to Trader Joe’s, this past Monday. They don’t open until 9:00 and, until 10:00, they have two lines form from the entrance. One line is for the same classes of people as the other stores, and the second one is for everyone else. They only allow 20 people in the store at a time and, when it’s time to usher them in, they merge both lines like traffic is supposed to merge onto the freeway or from two lanes to one. They also hand each person a disinfectant wipe, which I was quite glad for as I was a bit concerned about having touched the handle of the cart I was using, I don’t wear gloves, but I’m scrupulous about not touching my face with my hands until I return home and wash them thoroughly.

The store was better stocked than I had ever seen it in my over twenty years here. Since there weren’t too many people inside, it was easy to avoid getting close to others. I was able to purchase everything on my list, including eggs! Checkout was fast since it was hardly crowded. I remarked to the guy who checked me out how fully stocked the store was and he said they had just received the first order they actually requested. Up until that order, they were merely accepting whatever the warehouse sent to them.

So . . . that’s about the extent of my forays out into the world in the past ten or so days. I also participated in an interesting Zoom chat with a friend in France, which included several others from different parts of the world. We were discussing the new world of virtual working, something I had introduced to Rocketdyne well over a decade ago and which, unfortunately, had never caught on to the extent it is now necessary. It was an interesting and calming experience.

I’m not planning on going out again for at least another four or five days. I’d like to make it a week before returning, but we may run out of eggs before next Monday.

One last thing; I wonder how many others have experienced the same thing. As a family, our grocery shopping habits have always been pretty ad hoc; that is, we make lists, but we go shopping sporadically. Sometimes we might not go for a few days and others we might go every day for several days in a row. We shop at Costco, Vons, Trader Joe’s, The Grocery Outlet, Sprouts, and others, keeping separate lists for the things we need from each of them (though a couple are at least partially interchangeable.)

We can’t do that any longer. We’re changing our habits so we can shop for a week at one place and at one visit. This has not been our MO, and I find myself struggling a little bit. I am thankful to live where we do, as there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of anything other than paper goods (TP and PT) which people (er . . . I mean idiots) have been hoarding. Fortunately for us, we buy those things at Costco and normally have at least a month’s supply out in the garage.

Also, many people have offered to shop for us and I’m considering taking one of them up on their generosity. What’s holding me back is my feeling that there’s no reason for them to expose themselves. Although I’m older and somewhat compromised, there’s no guarantee they won’t get sick and, from what I’ve read, even those who recover and never require intubation, there may be significant, residual, life-long diminution of lung function. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.


Are We There Yet?

This is a mashup of something from the news and a suggestion from someone on Twitter.

I don’t believe it necessary to say anything more. Do you?


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