Bullies, Bed-Wetters And The Seen vs. The Unseen

Someone recently accused me in comments of being a bully because I call the people who want ongoing lockdowns bed-wetters. That gave me a chuckle, since it’s bed-wetters who want to tell everyone else where they can go, how many people they can be with, which businesses can open, who has to wear masks in which situations, etc. – and they want anyone who defies them arrested. That’s a bully.

Thanks to the bed-wetters, the hysterical response to the coronavirus will likely cause more harm (including more deaths) than the virus itself. Why don’t the bed-wetters see that? I think the best explanation lies in a couple of concepts from disciplines outside medicine.

The first is a concept in software engineering called separation of concerns. In simplest terms, it means each of the major functions of the system lives in its own little code box and is designed and maintained by an expert in that function.

For example, I recently coded a user interface that displays data that’s retrieved from a database by a web service. Someone else coded the web service. And still someone else designed and maintains the database. We don’t need to know much at all about each other’s jobs … and good thing, because the IT field is too huge and too complex for anyone to learn it all.

Most of the time separation of concerns is a good thing in IT.  But sometimes the separation causes problems, such as when a database administrator decides to make changes to a database table, and those changes cause applications to break.

Separation of concerns exists in medicine as well, and that separation can produce lousy treatments. I remember my dad’s cardiologist insisting he MUST TAKE HIS STATINS! because his cholesterol was high. Never mind that Dad was slipping mentally and statins are known to cause cognitive issues. The cardiologist’s only concern was bringing down the cholesterol score. Dad’s brain health wasn’t his concern.

The second concept is from economics: the seen vs. the unseen. The brief explanation is that actions always produce secondary effects — often unseen, and often unwanted.

Suppose we raise the minimum wage to $20 per hour. Some low-skilled people will clearly earn more money. That’s seen. But employers will hire fewer people and, when possible, replace what are now too-expensive employees with kiosks and other technology.

As a result, it will become more difficult for an unskilled person to snag that all-important first job. That’s the unseen. Nobody reports on the people NOT hired because of the new wage. (Thomas Sowell wrote a terrific book on the seen vs. the unseen titled Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One. Stage One is the seen; the unseen effects show up later.)

If a new virus starts killing people and you ask a pandemic expert – we’ll call him Dr. Foolchi – what to do, he’s likely to recommend shutting down human contact as much as possible. The infection rate may slow down as a result, and in Dr. Foolchi’s area of concern, that means he succeeded.

But here’s the problem: Dr. Foolchi isn’t an expert in economics, or in cancer treatments, or in the effects of stress on heart disease, or in depression. If people lose their jobs, die from cancer that wasn’t detected in time because medical offices were closed, have heart attacks from the stress of being unemployed, or slip into a depression from lack of human contact and begin abusing drugs … well, those aren’t his concerns. So if you’re in a position to set government policy and you ask Dr. Foolchi how to respond to the virus, you need to keep in mind that he probably doesn’t know if a shutdown will create bigger problems than the one it supposedly solves.

Unfortunately, many of those bigger problems fall into the unseen category. Sure, we all know unemployment has spiked since the shutdown – which has prompted many self-righteous ignoramuses to declare I care more about lives than money!  But as many economists have pointed out, it isn’t a matter of lives vs. money. It’s a matter of lives vs. lives, because those unseen effects will kill people.

In a recent post, Dr. Malcolm Kendrick explains how financial stress likely caused a huge spike in heart-disease deaths after the Soviet Union broke apart and millions of people became unemployed.  The lockdowns are causing similar financial stress.  He concludes with this:

We were persuaded into lockdown with the promise that hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved in the UK – and millions worldwide. We were never warned about the many millions of lives that could – and, I fear, will – be lost as a consequence of lockdown. I consider that to be negligent. Especially as, in this case, the patient in question was the entire population of the Earth.

An article in the U.K. Daily Mail offered this warning:

More than 200,000 people could die because of delays in healthcare and other economic and social effects all caused by lockdown, a government report has warned.

The great majority of the deaths – 185,000 – are attributed to an extended wait for treatment in the longer term.

But up to 25,000 deaths would have come in the first six months because of healthcare delays, according to experts at the Department of Health and Social Care, Office for National Statistics, Government Actuary’s Department and the Home Office.

With lockdown measures in place and hospital priorities shifted, patients have likely missed out on life-saving care for heart attacks and strokes and early diagnoses of diabetes and kidney disease.

The University of Oxford discovered just last week that 5,000 fewer heart attack patients had attended hospital between March and May.

Granted, the numbers are speculation. But let’s say the estimate is exaggerated and only half that number will die in the U.K. because of lockdowns. That’s still 100,000 people. As of today, the U.K. is reporting a total of around 46,000 COVID deaths. If 100,000 people die from the unintended, unseen effects of the lockdown, then the lockdown killed twice as many people as the virus itself. That’s a lousy tradeoff.

And there’s this warning from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy:

According to a modeling analysis commissioned by the Stop TB Partnership, a lockdown that disrupts TB diagnosis, treatment, and prevention services for 2 months, followed by the 2 months it would take to get normal TB services back up and running, could result in a rapidly growing pool of undetected and untreated TB patients. Over the next 5 years, that could produce an additional 1.8 million TB cases and 342,000 deaths globally.

Under a worst-case scenario of a 3-month lockdown and 10-month restoration period, global cases would rise by 6.8 million, with 1.4 million excess deaths, the analysis found.

Hundreds of thousand of deaths – perhaps a million deaths – just from delays in diagnosing and treating tuberculosis. Dr. Foolchi and his colleagues around the world probably didn’t think of that one.  It’s not their area of concern.

And there’s this warning from UNICIF:

An additional 6.7 million children under the age of five could suffer from wasting – and therefore become dangerously undernourished – in 2020 as a result of the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNICEF warned today.

According to an analysis published in The Lancet, 80 per cent of these children would be from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Over half would be from South Asia alone.

The estimated increase in child wasting is only the tip of the iceberg, UN agencies warn. COVID-19 will also increase other forms of malnutrition in children and women, including stunting, micronutrient deficiencies and overweight and obesity as a result of poorer diets and the disruption of nutrition services. UNICEF reports from the early months of the pandemic suggest a 30 per cent overall reduction in the coverage of essential – and often life-saving – nutrition services. In some countries, these disruptions have reached 75 per cent to 100 per cent under lockdown measures.

Now add in the stress and depression caused by the countless small businesses destroyed, the unemployment, the loneliness, etc., etc., and I’d say the cure has been far worse than the disease.

These unintended consequences weren’t caused by the virus. They were caused by the bed-wetter reaction to the virus. They were caused by shutting down major portions of the world economy so we can all shelter in place and be safe and blah-blah-blah.  Early on, when little was known about the rate of infection and death, a temporary lockdown made sense.  But continuing to act as if the coronavirus is airborne AIDS makes no sense whatsoever at this point.

So to all you STAY IN LOCKDOWN UNTIL WE HAVE A VACCINE AND WE’RE SAFE! bed-wetters out there, screw your I care about lives! virtue-signaling. What you mean is that you care about your life.  You don’t care about all the people around the world who will die from what amounts to mass hysteria. You’ll happily sacrifice those people if ongoing lockdowns mean there’s an itty, bitty, tiny reduction in the odds that you (or your 81-year-old grandma) will catch the virus.

If you’re not elderly or fragile from some underlying condition and want us all to stay in lockdown until a vaccine comes along, that means you’re willing to have other people die so you don’t catch a cold.

And if you think I’m a bully for pointing it out and calling you a bunch of bed-wetters, well, I really don’t care.

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Land Of The Sorta-Free And Home Of The Bed-Wetters

Pardon the absence. I’ve been socially distancing myself from the blog because I’m afraid if I interact with too many of you, I’ll catch the coronavirus and die. I’ve learned from the bed-wetter media that we’re all at extremely high risk, so I figured I’d best stay inside, wear a mask (even in the house) and avoid living my actual life as much as possible.

Okay, that’s not exactly it. Truth is, I’ve been face-down in other projects. I’ve also been spending part of my evenings and weekends teaching Sara to drive, since she leaves for college next year and still doesn’t have a license.

I’ve been following the coronavirus story in the news, of course. I’d summarize the bed-wetter media’s coverage something like this:

OH MY GOD CASES ARE RISING AGAIN BECAUSE SOME STUPID STATES EASED THE LOCKDOWN RESTRICTIONS AND IT’S ALL HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE AND MOSTLY TRUMP’S FAULT AND WE HAVE TO LOCK DOWN AGAIN RIGHT NOW AND STAY LOCKED DOWN UNTIL IT’S SAFE!!

Every time I see another bed-wetter report on the news, I wonder why the #$%@ anyone is surprised the virus is still spreading. As a reminder, I wrote this on April 16th:

Adult knowledge says the coronavirus will spread … and the most social distancing can do is slow the spread. Adult knowledge says the virus will kill people – just like the flu kills people — whether we shut down the economy or not.

I wrote this on May 18th:

The medical system was successfully saved from being overwhelmed, but in the meantime, the bed-wetters moved the goalposts. They no longer talk about flattening the curve. Now they want us to stay locked down UNTIL IT’S SAFE!

Say what? Until it’s safe?! They apparently believe if we just stay inside long enough, the virus will disappear, and then we can all come out to play again. They haven’t the grasped the fact – and it is a fact – that the virus is here, it’s not going away, and it will spread. I’ll say that again for the slow-witted: the virus is going to spread. And one more time: THE VIRUS IS GOING TO SPREAD.

I wrote this (in comments) on June 6th:

I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it: THE VIRUS ISN’T GOING AWAY, AND THE ONLY PURPOSE OF SOCIAL DISTANCING WAS TO PREVENT HOSPITALS FROM BEING OVERWHELMED — PERIOD. Social distancing was never intended to stop the spread of the virus, because it can’t be stopped. The intention was to slow the pace of the initial spread. Will there be some spikes in infections as areas open up? Probably … and that will happen whether they open up now or a year from now — because THE VIRUS ISN’T GOING AWAY.

I wrote this (in comments) on July 4th:

We have to accept that the virus is here, it’s not going away, and staying in lockdown won’t prevent people from being exposed unless we stay in lockdown forever.

So … several states began easing restrictions, the number of cases began to rise (largely because of more testing, but we’ll come back to that), and people began tweeting comments along the lines of SEE?! Those lockdowns you irresponsible crazy people said weren’t necessary are ending, and now the number of COVID cases is spiking! SEE? SEE?!

Uh … you mean do I see that the virus is here, it isn’t going away, and it will spread throughout the population whether we end the lockdowns today or a year from now, exactly as I stated? Well, yes, I do see that. But what the bed-wetters apparently can’t see is that the death rate is continuing to plummet, and those “spiking” infections are being identified mostly among people who experience mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.

Here’s the “spike” the media and government bed-wetters keep harping about so we’ll submit to another round of lockdowns:

Wow, that looks bad, doesn’t it? Boy oh boy, that’s a spike if I’ve ever seen one.

But wait … take a look at this chart showing the number of tests per thousand people in several countries:

There’s the U.S. at the very tippy-top of the chart, testing more people more quickly than any other country … and darned if that spike in tests conducted doesn’t look a lot like the “spike” in cases.

But the bed-wetters never bother to point that out. Instead, they keep trying to scare the hell out of us. CNN, perhaps the most bed-wetting of all the bed-wetter media, reminds us every two minutes or so that THE UNITED STATES NOW HAS MORE CORONAVIRUS CASES THAN ANY OTHER COUNTRY!!

OH MY GOD THE UNITED STATES HAS MORE CASES THAN ANY OTHER COUNTRY IT’S ALL HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE AND MOSTLY TRUMP’S FAULT AND WE HAVE TO LOCK DOWN AGAIN RIGHT NOW AND STAY LOCKED DOWN UNTIL IT’S SAFE!!

Let’s pretend we’re rational, logical adults (and thus disqualified from working in most news organizations these days) and think this through: The United States is the third-most populous country in the world. The two countries with larger populations are China and India. Does anyone believe China and India have conducted anywhere close to as many tests as the U.S.?

So here in the third-most populous country in the world, we’re testing at the fastest rate of any country, and – DUH! – the result is that we now lead the world in identified cases of coronavirus infections. Somebody hand me an adult diaper; I’m afraid this shocking news may prompt me to wet the bed.

And keep in mind the number of cases is likely exaggerated. As several doctors have reported, they were pressured by hospitals to count cases where coronavirus was only suspected, not actually confirmed. Why would hospitals do that? As always, follow the money. Here’s what a doctor wrote about the financial incentive to overreport cases:

Why would someone want to inflate case counts, and what are the risks and benefits of doing so? As reported in Modern Healthcare, July 17, 2020, “HHS to send $10 billion in round two of relief grants to COVID-19 hot spots.” Modern Healthcare reports, “Hospitals that had more than 161 COVID-19 admissions between January 1 and June 10 will be paid $50,000 for each COVID-19 admission. HHS asked hospitals to start submitting COVID-19 admission data on June 8.”

Hospitals that use the new CDC definition stand to make millions of dollars. The first round of HHS grants was $12 billion and paid $76,975 per admission to hospitals that had more than 100 COVID-19 admissions from January 1 through April 1. Clearly, states hit early got tons of money- Illinois got $740 M, New York got $684 M, and Pennsylvania got $655 M alone. Additionally, Medicaid will pay out $15 billion in relief funds- hospitals must apply by August, so the more cases the better the return. The hospitals reporting the most cases get the most money.

In addition to expanding the definition of a New COVID-19 case to include exposure to a COVID-19 positive patient and a self-reported fever, lowering admission thresholds, and requiring testing on every admission, the ability to code a hospital admission as “with-COVID” is easy and becomes a very lucrative business model. My OB-gyn colleague told me about her scheduled C-section patient who was asymptomatic but tested positive on the required admission COVID test, so she too became a hospitalization “with COVID.”

Clearly, hospitals are financially incentivized to code more COVID cases and deaths. Definitions matter. Another sad consequence is that we are losing freedoms and destroying our state and country based on the inflated numbers.

Watch this video of a doctor explaining that after he was put on a contact-tracing list (and we’ll just set aside the huge potential for government abuse of that practice), he learned that if he so much as had a runny nose, he’d be counted as positive for COVID. I recommend watching the entire video, but his explanation of how cases are counted starts at around 3:00:

Let’s continue thinking like rational, logical adults: if the disease is actually spreading like wildfire in the U.S. population (as opposed to merely being identified in more people), and if the disease is as deadly as the bed-wetter media wants us to believe, then the death rate must be shooting up like crazy, right?

Here’s a chart showing the bi-weekly number of deaths:

You might notice a little spike around June 26. What you might not be able to read is the explanation in tiny type. It reads June 26, July 1: probable/earlier deaths added. So even that little spike may not be a spike in current deaths.

Here are the deaths by age group:

The bed-wetters want us to panic over a disease for which the deaths peaked in April. Yes, it’s a shame so many old and vulnerable people died, but even Neil Ferguson, the professor in England whose original model predicted millions of deaths, has stated recently that up to two-thirds of those killed by COVID would have likely died this year from some other cause.

And just like with the counts of coronavirus cases, the death counts may be exaggerated. According to the bed-wetter media, it’s just a conspiracy theory that people who test positive for the virus and later die for some other reason are counted as COVID deaths. But we know it happened:

A man who died in a motorcycle crash was counted as a COVID-19 death in Florida, according to a new report from FOX 35 Orlando.

According to the report, Orange County Health Officer Dr. Raul Pino was asked whether two coronavirus victims in their 20s had any underlying medical conditions that could have potentially made them more susceptible to the virus.

Pino’s answer was that one of the two people who was listed as a COVID death actually died in a motorcycle crash. Despite health officials knowing the man died in a motorcycle crash, it is unclear whether or not his death was removed from the overall count in the state.
Dr. Pino tells FOX 35 that one “could actually argue that it could have been the COVID-19 that caused him to crash.”

Ah, I see. A guy in his 20s had the virus, and the virus might have somehow caused him to crash his motorcycle, so it’s a COVID death. Well, okey-dokey then.

Before Washington State changed its policy, there were suicides, homicides and drug overdoses being counted as COVID deaths simply because the dead people had previously tested positive for coronavirus. It’s nice that the state decided to clean up its data, but how many states and hospitals haven’t?  And given what the doctor explained about hospitals receiving funds based on the number of COVID cases and deaths they report, why would they have any incentive whatsoever to re-classify deaths as non-COVID?

In the U.K., it’s apparently official policy to count anyone who ever tested positive for coronavirus as a COVID death, regardless of the actual cause of death:

[Public Health England] regularly looks for people on the NHS database who have ever tested positive, and simply checks to see if they are still alive or not. PHE does not appear to consider how long ago the COVID test result was, nor whether the person has been successfully treated in hospital and discharged to the community. Anyone who has tested COVID positive but subsequently died at a later date of any cause will be included on the PHE COVID death figures.

By this PHE definition, no one with COVID in England is allowed to ever recover from their illness. A patient who has tested positive, but successfully treated and discharged from hospital, will still be counted as a COVID death even if they had a heart attack or were run over by a bus three months later.

Even legitimate COVID deaths are being reported in a manner that seems designed to give the impression of a recent spike in deaths, when in fact many of those deaths occurred earlier:

On July 7, for instance, [Arizona] recorded 117 “new deaths” on its dashboard. Calling that number a “record,” CNN reported that Arizona that day reported “117 deaths from Covid-19 over the last 24 hours.” Business Insider reported that Arizona recorded “its highest number of newly reported coronavirus deaths” on that day. News Break said the state on that date “recorded its highest single-day death toll.”

Yet actual state data as of Saturday indicated that only 53 people are so far recorded as dying in the 24-hour period in question, 54% less than the “record” day touted in numerous headlines. Indeed, going by date of death, the most fatalities the state has ever recorded over 24 hours is 57, on June 30.

A similar problem was seen in Florida this week, when the state health department on Thursday announced 156 deaths in one 24-hour period. That number was touted as a frightening new record by media outlets such as CNN, the Miami Herald, NBC, the Orlando Sentinel, and numerous others.

Yet as of Saturday afternoon, the actual number of deaths confirmed for that 24-hour period, per the state’s dashboard, was just 58—roughly one-third the “record” that the state health department touted on its website.

Again, I wrote this back in April: Adult knowledge says the coronavirus will spread … and the most social distancing can do is slow the spread.

Actually, I no longer believe social distancing had much of an effect in slowing the spread. If you haven’t seen the videos Ivor Cummins has been posting on the topic, this would be a good time to start. As you may already know, Ivor is a biochemical engineer. He cares rather deeply about stuff like data, evidence and logic. If you watch his longer videos and follow along with the data he and his guests present, you’ll learn that:

  • The infection and death curves are virtually the same across countries whether they locked down or not. (The curves have a different shape in countries close to the equator.)
  • The curves are the same as for flu outbreaks.
  • Sweden has more deaths from flu during flu seasons than its neighbors, so comparing Sweden’s COVID deaths to Finland’s or Norway’s COVID deaths proves nothing about the effectiveness of lockdowns.
  • The death rate in most countries was already dropping when lockdowns were mandated.
  • Years in which flu and other infectious diseases kill fewer vulnerable people (“light” years) are followed by years with more deaths – and 2019 was a “light” year.
  • In terms of total excess mortality, 2020 doesn’t even rank in top five of the past 25 years.

I’d urge you watch his longer videos, but here are a couple of shorter ones:

As Ivor often says in his videos, science and logic were tossed out the window once the lockdown mentality set in. If you didn’t actually watch the second video, it features an Irish professor insisting that without the hard lockdown, the death rate in Ireland would have been 11 times the death rate in Sweden, which didn’t enforce a lockdown.

Eleven times the death rate in Sweden?! Goodness, apparently if the Irish aren’t locked down, they wander down to the pub, throw back a few pints of Guinness, then express their affection by licking each other’s noses and eyes. My Irish relatives never mentioned this charming tradition.

If Ivor and the people he interviews can examine the data and see what it’s actually telling us, then so can the bed-wetters in government and media … which means the STAY IN LOCKDOWN mentality isn’t about saving lives. There are clearly other agendas at work here.  As Obama’s former chief of staff once put it, You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. It provides the opportunity to do things that were not possible to do before.

And what might those other agendas be? One is pretty obvious. This is an election year, and it’s quite rare for a president seeking re-election to lose when the economy is booming. The satirical site The Babylon Bee put it perfectly:

If you don’t think the STAY IN LOCKDOWN nonsense is political, then explain the logic behind this: New York City mayor Bill de Blasio recently put the kibosh on all large public gatherings except -– wait for it — Black Lives Matter protests. Yes, my fellow Americans, if you gather together in public, you’ll spread this awful-horrible-deadly disease, so we can’t allow it … unless you’re protesting something and the mayor supports your cause.

In a similar fashion, the mayor of Houston recently told the state GOP they can’t proceed with their annual convention scheduled there becuz COVID. But Black Lives Matter protests? Yeah, he’s okay with that. No need to shut those down.

But to really see science and common sense tossed aside in favor of a political agenda, just look at the school districts refusing to open their classrooms UNTIL IT’S SAFE!

Safe? Excuse me? We’re supposed to believe it’s not safe for kids to go to school? As a reminder, here are the COVID deaths by age, at least as of halfway through June:

A grand total of 138 deaths among school-age kids and teens. By contrast, according to the CDC and other government sources, here’s how many kids and teens die in an average year from other causes:

Auto accidents – 4,000
Cancer – 1,800
Drowning – 995
Heart disease – 600
Burns – 340

Your kid is far, far more likely to die in an auto accident while being driven to school than from COVID. Your kid is more likely to die by drowning than from COVID. (Perhaps that’s real reason Governor Newsome closed the beaches.) Your kid is more likely to die in a house fire than from COVID. Keeping schools closed is insane. This disease just doesn’t kill kids, period, unless they have severe underlying conditions.

But … but … but kids will spread the disease in school, then go home and infect their families!

Sorry, but that’s bull#$%@. There’s simply no evidence that asymptotic kids can spread the disease, even if they’re carriers of the virus. Yes, CNN and other bed-wetter news organizations recently promoted a (ahem) “study” saying kids can spread the disease, but I took a look at it. The “study” was pure speculation – no data, no actual evidence — that symptomatic kids might be able to spread the disease. Funny how countries that didn’t close their schools fared just as well as those that did.  And by the way, many schools — including those in our local district — have long had a policy that kids can’t come to school if they have a fever.

If you believe school systems are closing their doors to stop the spread of the virus, then I’d suggest you look at what the Los Angeles Teachers Union is demanding before they feel (ahem) “safe” to return to work:

  • More federal funding for schools
  • Increased taxes on the wealthy
  • Defunding the police
  • Medicare for all
  • A moratorium on private and charter schools

Amazing … somehow only passing a left-wing wish-list of legislation will protect students and teachers against the awful, horrible, deadly virus. What a load of #$%@. This isn’t about protecting kids. It’s about holding them hostage for political purposes.

We’ve lost our minds over this, folks. In this article, the author quotes a psychiatrist who treats anxiety disorders. Here’s what he had to say about the panic over the coronavirus:

I’m a practicing psychiatrist who specializes in anxiety disorders, paranoid delusions, and irrational fear. I’ve been treating this in individuals as a specialist. It’s hard enough to contain these problems in normal times. What’s happening now is a spread of this serious medical condition to the whole population. It can happen with anything but here we see a primal fear of disease turning into mass panic. It seems almost deliberate. It is tragic. Once this starts, it could take years to repair the psychological damage.

I couldn’t agree more. The panic over coronavirus is causing far more damage than the virus itself. We need to regain our sanity and accept that viruses that kill vulnerable people are part of life – and then get back to living. As every immunologist and virologist willing to risk the wrath of the bed-wetters in government has pointed out, we’re not going to stop the coronavirus from spreading, period. Perhaps there will be an effective vaccine someday, but that could take years. And frankly, if a vaccine is rushed through the FDA’s testing and approval process, I’m sure as hell not geting it. The FDA has a bad enough record with drugs that went through usual years-long process.

The virus will cease being a threat when we reach herd immunity. (We might even be close to herd immunity already.) And how do we get to herd immunity? By opening schools. By opening businesses. By allowing people to gather in public even if they’re not engaged in protests approved by left-leaning politicians.

This crazy #$%@ needs to stop … and the bed-wetter media need to take off their diapers, put on their big-boy pants, and stop trying to scare the hell out of us.

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The Bed-Wetter Awards: Best Performance By A Media Organization

In our last episode, we nominated best performance by a politician for the First Annual Bed-Wetter Awards. This time we’re moving on to best performance by a media organization. Spoiler alert: I’ve already picked the winner.

There’s no shortage of bed-wetters among the media, of course. Most media types have been dutifully supporting the view of The Anointed that by gosh, we can’t get back to normal gatherings UNTIL IT’S SAFE! Well, that is … uh … unless people are crowding together for purposes that meet with their approval. Then the idea that crowds will spread the coronavirus just kind of vanishes. There’s a strange lack of embarrassment among news organizations that put out articles like these on the same day:

So there you have it. Large gatherings are extraordinarily dangerous, but only if you don’t like who’s gathering. Got it.

The Bed-Wetter nominees were by no means limited to American news organizations. Here’s a superb bed-wetter performance by a BBC host:

Lord Sumption, her guest, points out that coronavirus is mostly killing people who are old and have multiple health conditions. Somehow the BBC reporter interprets that as it’s killing people who would have been with us for many years.

Uh, no. It’s mostly killing people who already have one foot in the door marked EXIT. I’ll give you a close-to-home, somewhat painful example: when I spoke to my mom back in April, she told me she was very worried she would catch coronavirus and die. Had she caught the virus in her fragile condition, it may indeed have killed her, in which case she would have been counted as a COVID death. But she didn’t catch the virus. She died from a hemorrhagic stroke instead.

She was almost 84 and her brain health was deteriorating. I’m sorry she died and I’ll miss her, but I accepted more than a year ago that she was headed for the door marked EXIT. It was only a question of exactly when she’d be gone.

When Lord Sumption pointed that we will never live in a risk-free world, and that people who are afraid of the virus can self-isolate, the reporter immediately responded with But what if you’re a carrier of the virus and go to the theater and infect the person next to you! Perfect bed-wetter sentiment … which Lord Sumption dismissed by explaining the obvious: the person next to him at the theater would be there voluntarily, and could just as easily be a carrier of the virus.

I could go up and down the list and find articles and newscasts warning that WE CAN’T RETURN TO NORMAL UNTIL IT’S SAFE! from nearly every major news organization. No surprise there. Besides largely being mouthpieces for The Anointed, news reporters aren’t losing their jobs because of the lockdowns. In fact, the lockdowns have simply granted many reporters the luxury of doing their jobs from home. (Same for me: no bothersome commute since March.) If lockdowns were causing massive layoffs in the news business, I suspect the narrative would be different.

Since there are simply too many bed-wetters to choose from in the major media, I’ve selected a dark-horse winner: PsyPost.org, which describes itself as a psychology and neuroscience news website dedicated to reporting the latest research on human behavior, cognition, and society.

The winning performance was an article titled Psychopathic traits linked to non-compliance with social distancing guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic. Let’s take a look:

New research provides some initial evidence that certain antagonistic personality traits are associated with ignoring preventative measures meant to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The study has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication in the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science.

Ah, well, as we know, peer-review in psychology is a rock-solid guarantee that we’re looking at valid research … so rock-solid that most experiments can’t be replicated.

Anyway, here’s a quote from the study’s author:

“It was clear from reports in the media very early in the COVID-19 pandemic that some people were rejecting advice to socially distance and engage in increased hygiene. There can be many reasons for this, and I thought that personality may play at least a small role in it.”

And what would those personality traits be, oh wise one?

“I knew that traits from the so-called Dark Triad (narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy) as well as the traits subsumed within psychopathy are linked to health risk behavior and health problems, and I expected them to be implicated in health behaviors during the pandemic.”

Goodness. People who ignore orders to stay off the beach exhibit traits subsumed within psychopathy? Can you explain how you reached that conclusion?

“People high on the Dark Triad traits may knowingly and even deliberately put other people’s health at risk, e.g., by engaging in risky sexual behavior and not telling their partner about having HIV or STIs.”

Hmmm … seems like a rather giant case of bait-and-switch to me. I’m no psychologist, but I’m pretty sure engaging in sex without telling your partner you have the HIV virus isn’t quite the same as ignoring a governor’s orders to stay off the beach.  That’s like putting people who have two glasses of wine in a restaurant and then drive home into the same category as people who chug a fifth of gin and then pilot a commercial airliner.

“Early in the pandemic, and in subsequent months, there were numerous reports of individuals purposefully coughing, spitting, or even licking door handles in public, either as a way to intimidate others or as a way to rebel against the emerging new norms of social distancing and hygiene.”

Again, I’m no psychologist, but I’m pretty sure people who spit on fruit and lick door handles in public during a virus outbreak do indeed have issues. I’m also pretty sure people who spit on fruit and lick door handles in public when there’s no outbreak of any disease whatsoever have those same issues. I’m also pretty sure people who spit on fruit and lick door handles in public don’t belong in the same category as people who ignore orders to stay off the beach. But the article goes to great lengths to link them:

People who scored higher on the psychopathic subtraits of meanness and disinhibition tended to show less interest in social distancing and hygiene. Meanness and disinhibition also predicted the endorsement of behavior that puts others at risk of infection, such as touching or sneezing on high-use surfaces in public.

Ah yes, the old A is linked to B and B is linked to C, so A must produce C nonsense. Yes, I’m sure mean, disinhibited, psychotic people are less compliant with social distancing … and I’m sure mean, disinhibited, psychotic people are more likely to spit on fruit and lick door handles and otherwise intentionally put others are risk. That doesn’t mean people who go the beach, get together with more than four friends, or otherwise resist social distancing are mean, disinhibited and psychotic.

Here’s an analogy: Compared to the rest of the population, criminals on average are less intelligent, less trusting, less emotionally stable, more violent, more psychotic, and more likely to be drug and alcohol abusers. Criminals are also far more likely to vote for Democrats than Republicans. Therefore, we conclude that supporting the positions of the Democrat party is linked to being less intelligent, less trusting, less emotionally stable, more violent, more psychotic, and more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs.

Stupid conclusion, right? Sure is … but it’s pretty much the same (ahem) “logic” used by the study’s author. In fact, the study reminds me very much of the (ahem) “studies” that conclude libertarians and conservatives suffer from a form of mental illness. If you don’t agree that The Anointed should tell you how to run your life or your business, you might be mentally ill!

If you’ve ever read up on how those studies are designed … well, let’s just say they make Walter Willett‘s nutrition studies look like solid science by comparison. The perfessers simply design the study to produce results that confirm their own political views. Something like this:

“Jenkins, I have an idea for a study. Let’s conduct a survey to see if there’s any correlation between political preferences and traits such as paranoia, mental inflexibility, and callousness towards others.”

“Excellent idea, sir!”

“Now, we need to think of some questions for the survey. How shall we determine callousness towards others?”

“How about something like, I believe people who want to become American citizens should go through the legal naturalization process instead of sneaking into the country.

“Not bad, Jenkins. But it’s a little verbose. Let’s tighten that up to I am opposed to open borders.

“Very good, sir.”

“Indeed. How shall we define mental inflexibility?”

“Hmmm, that’s a tough one. Maybe something like, I believe what is or is not constitutional should be determined by what’s written in The Constitution.”

“Outstanding, Jenkins! You’re really getting the hang of psychological research. Finally, how would we define paranoia?”

“I’ve got it: I worry that the people running our government are secret Russian assets.”

“Jenkins!”

“Sorry, I meant, I worry that some Middle Eastern immigrants might be secret members of terrorist cells.

“Much better, Jenkins. Now get out there and make some phone calls.”

(47 minutes later)

“Well, Jenkins, what did you find?”

“Well sir, according to our completely objective data, political conservatives are far more paranoid, mentally inflexible, and callous then political liberals. “

“Good work, Jenkins! Let’s write it up and send it out for publication.”

Yes, that’s an exaggeration … but not by much. Point is, these “studies” are basically meaningless. They’re designed to give the answer the researcher wants.

This particular researcher wanted to link people who ignore orders to stay off the beach to people with psychotic traits who actually enjoy putting other people in harm’s way. And so, with a little A is linked to B and B is linked to C so A is linked to C magic, he did.

When I commented on the study on Twitter, I received a few replies along the lines of But bruh! If you ignore social distancing, you’re going to spread the disease and kill muh grandmuh! That’s callous, bruh!

That’s roughly as logical as saying that if I’m sexually promiscuous, I’m going to spread STDs and then you might catch one from your wife. If that happens, I didn’t infect you. Your wife did. If you’re afraid grandma will catch coronavirus, tell grandma to stay inside, observe strict social distancing, and refuse to let anyone in her house who hasn’t also observed strict social distancing. If you pick up the virus somewhere and then pass it on to your grandmother, I didn’t infect her. You did. So if you’re that worried, stay away from grandma UNTIL IT’S SAFE!

Does that sound a bit callous? Maybe. But if I were designing a study to determine who’s heartless and callous now that coronavirus is here, I’d start with this agree/disagree question:

I haven’t lost my job or experienced a reduction in my income during the mandatory social distancing that has bankrupted countless businesses and put millions of people on unemployment, and I support ongoing mandatory social distancing if there’s a teeny, tiny, itsy-bitsy chance it will prevent me from ever being exposed to the coronavirus.

A bed-wetter would agree. Clearly, so did our winner of Best Bed-Wetter Performance by a Media Organization.

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The First Annual Bed-Wetter Awards

The Bed-Wetter Awards!

Hollywood gives out Oscars every year to celebrate the most politically correc— uh, I mean the highest achievements in filmmaking. The music business gives out Grammys to celebrate achievements in songwriting and performing. The Tonys, the Pulitzers, the Emmys … heck, the list goes on and on.

Since COVID-19 has exerted a more profound effect on society this year than movies, music, theatre, television, etc., I believe we need an award similar to the Oscars and the Grammys. Therefore, I’m announcing the First Annual Bed-Wetter Awards, given to those who have demonstrated the highest achievements in whining, panic-spreading, and generally scaring the piss out people over the horrible (and imaginary) things will happen if we return to normal instead of hiding forever from a virus that’s about as deadly as the flu.

I’ll pick the nominees, and you can vote for the winner. Today’s category is best performance by a bed-wetter politician.

I was tempted to nominate Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York. This is the brilliant leader who decided old people who tested positive for COVID-19 should be returned to nursing homes, where they promptly infected the most vulnerable population. Meanwhile, Cuomo was determined to protect the group that least needs protecting – school-age kids. Here’s the distribution of coronavirus deaths by age:

Yup, kids below the age of 15 have accounted for one of every 10,000 coronavirus deaths. Seasonal flu has been deadlier for kids. In fact, kids are more likely to die being driven to school than from COVID-19. Toss in the 15-to-24 group – which would take us through the college years – and we’re still talking about 12 of every 10,000 deaths. Only an accomplished bed-wetter could look at those numbers and conclude that kids are at risk. So let’s enjoy the performance that nearly got Cuomo nominated for a Bed-Wetter award.

Impressive. But after thinking about it, I decided Cuomo doesn’t deserve a nomination. New York was the epicenter of COVID-19. Scaring the New York population under those circumstances simply wasn’t a difficult enough achievement to be honored with an award.

So our first actual nominee is Governor Gavin Newsome of California. Newsome runs a state with a population of more than 40 million people, but only saw 4,000 COVID-19 deaths. By contrast, New York has a population of 19 million, but saw 24,000 COVID deaths. In other words, the COVID death rate in California is less than one-tenth the death rate in New York. Most of the COVID deaths in California (as elsewhere) were among people who were old and sick. In fact, 42 percent of those deaths occurred in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

And yet Newsome ordered businesses to close all over the state, including rural counties that had no reported cases of COVID-19. He also closed the beaches, apparently believing they’d be swamped by 80-year-olds planning a mid-day plunge in the ocean. And when some youngsters defied the order and went to the beaches anyway, Newsome had some words for them. Let’s take a moment to admire his performance:

Stunning. Newsome talked about the need for herd immunity, then young chided people for going to the beaches where they might be exposed to the virus … which would help achieve herd immunity. Then Newsome talked about a glorious future when everyone has been vaccinated against the coronavirus … never mind that an effective vaccine may never be developed.

Newsome is also one of many governors planning to hire a brigade of “contact tracers” – because what would possibly go wrong with giving governments the power to track where you go and who you’re with?

Our second nominee is Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan. Whitmer demonstrated real imagination by deciding liquor stores and dispensers of lottery tickets are “essential,” while banning the sale of garden seeds. Whitmer further demonstrated her bed-wetter chops by banning people from traveling to their own vacation homes … because as any scientist will tell you, leaving a crowded city to go live in a cabin in a secluded area is how you catch coronavirus.

Whitmer has finally lifted some restrictions on businesses, but is still very concerned that Michigan citizens may be traveling across the border to Ohio to get their hair and nails done. Since that means hair and nail salons are open in Ohio, a logical leader would check with Ohio officials to see if there’s been a sudden spike in deaths among Ohioans with coifed hair and shiny nails. But no, Whitmer instead warned that people in Michigan who travel to Ohio may be spreading death. Here’s part of her performance:

Our final nominee is the governor of my former home state, JB Pritzker of Illinois. Pritzker twice extended the lockdown in Illinois even after neighboring states opened up without any resulting spikes in COVID-19 deaths. A representative from downstate Illinois took the matter to court, and a judge ruled that Pritzker had exceed his authority by extending the lockdown.

That prompted Pritzker to put on the performance that won him a nomination:

A fine performance, but you can’t appreciate just how fine it was unless you also know this: while ordering people in Illinois to stay home – to keep everyone safe, ya know – Pritzker and his family traveled to their vacation horse farm in Wisconsin. His wife and daughter also traveled to a vacation home in Florida. But Pritzker’s real claim to being a bed-wetter is this:

Illinois construction workers traveling to Wisconsin to work on Pritzker’s farm amid stay-at-home order

FOX 32 News watched Thursday as construction workers from Illinois crossed the border to work on the governor’s farm. Pritzker, though, says there is no double standard because construction workers are exempt.

FOX 32 wandered over the Wisconsin border into Kenosha County and found more than 20 construction workers — nearly all from Illinois — helping build a massive new home and several outbuildings on Pritzker’s horse farm.

Pritzker decided it was “essential” for construction workers to travel across state lines to build a new home on his Wisconsin property … but if you ventured out for a haircut, he wanted you arrested. You could spread the virus, doncha know.

Those are my nominees. Cast your votes.

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Leaving BizarroWorld

      58 Comments on Leaving BizarroWorld

While I was taking a grief break, a handful of states – including my state of Tennessee – decided to leave BizarroWorld and begin opening back up for business. This sparked outrage among people who’ve spent three years screaming that Trump is a fascist dictator, but now want him to act like a fascist dictator instead of allowing governors to decide what’s best for their states. The term the perpetually-outraged crowd kept tossing around was putting the burden on the states.

Ohhhh, I see. Freedom to make your own decisions is a burden now. Well, no worries … there are plenty of politicians who will gladly lift that burden from you.

As soon as Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and a few other states announced they were phasing out the lockdowns, The Twitter universe exploded. The perpetually-outraged crowd tweeted their usual pearls of wisdom … you know, stuff like Well of course, these Republican governors don’t mind sacrificing people’s lives just so businesses can get back to making money! and This just proves southerners are stupid!

Nothing amuses me quite like stupid people calling intelligent people stupid. That’s why my all-time favorite Twitter exchange is this one:

Him: Your stupid.
Me: I believe you mean “you’re stupid.”
Him: No I’m not! YOUR STUPID.

The satirical news site The Babylon Bee captured the Twitter reaction quite nicely:

Satire, sure, but pretty close to what I saw online. For example, this tweet could certainly pass for satire, but it wasn’t – it was a real, honest-to-god tweet by one of the enlightened, blue-checkmark journalists on Twitter:

Boy, that held up well. The blue-check journalist made this bold prediction on April 20, nearly four weeks ago. The Georgia bloodbath failed to materialize. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, because the apocalyptic predictions were based on assumptions we know aren’t true. Namely …

1. COVID-19 is an especially deadly virus
2. Only a small fraction of the population has been exposed, thanks to the lockdown

The second incorrect assumption prompted the first incorrect assumption. If you count the number of deaths and then assume the only people who’ve been exposed are those who show up in hospitals needing treatment, the death rate will appear high. But the enlightened, blue-check journalists seem to have missed the news about the actual exposure rate. This article, for example:

A team at the University of Bonn has tested a randomized sample of 1,000 residents of the town of Gangelt in the north-west of the country, one of the epicenters of the outbreak in Germany. The study found that two percent of the population currently had the virus and that 14 percent were carrying antibodies suggesting that they had already been infected — whether or not they experienced any symptoms. Eliminating an overlap between the two groups, the team concluded that 15 percent of the town have been infected with the virus.

Other studies have found even higher exposure rates:

Nearly one third of 200 Chelsea residents who gave a drop of blood to researchers on the street this week tested positive for antibodies linked to COVID-19, a startling indication of how widespread infections have been in the densely populated city.

The Mass. General researchers ― who excluded anyone who had tested positive for the virus in the standard nasal swab test ― found that 32 percent of participants have had COVID-19, and many didn’t know it.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we’re tanking the economy, bankrupting businesses, and putting people out of work to protect ourselves from a virus that’s sooooo deadly, people can have the antibodies in their systems and be totally unaware they were ever exposed.

Dr. John Ioannidis – one of the voices of sanity from the beginning – also conducted a study to see how many people in a California county had already been exposed. Based on those results, he calculated the death rate. Are you ready?

Wait for it … the death rate among people exposed to coronavirus appears to around 0.1% — which is pretty close to the death rate for seasonal flu. And yet the bed-wetters want to stay locked down as if the Super Flu from Stephen King’s novel The Stand is out there waiting to pounce on anyone who goes outdoors.

To be clear, I’m not saying going into lockdown in March was a mistake. We didn’t know how deadly or widespread the virus was at the time, and the fear of overwhelming the medical system was legitimate. We’re past that now, and yet many people – including politicians — seem to have forgotten why we went into lockdown mode in the first place. A professor from Stanford recently summed up the situation nicely:

Policymakers and the public have not received several key messages that are critical to alleviate fear and guide a safe reopening of society. That has led to a gross failure in policy at the state level:

There has been a failure to remind everyone that the stated goal of the policy – total lockdown and whole-population isolation – has been accomplished in most of the United States, including the epicenter of New York. Specifically, two curves, hospitalizations per day and deaths per day, have flattened. The goal was to prevent hospital overcrowding and, aside from a few in the New York area, hospitals were not overcrowded. Today, most hospitals stand under-filled, necessitating layoffs of personnel. More importantly, it was never a policy goal to eliminate all cases of COVID-19. That is impossible, unnecessary and illogical, when 99 percent of infected people have no significant illness from it.

There has been a failure to reassure everyone that we fully anticipate more cases will occur, whether we test or not, with continuing relaxation of today’s isolation. Since millions of people have the highly contagious infection, and half are entirely asymptomatic, that spread is fully expected. Even though we will see headlines sensationalizing the next projection, the models are already set to adjust upward for less strict isolation.

There has been a failure to educate the public that the overall fatality rate is not only far lower than previously thought but is extremely low in almost everyone other than the elderly… While somehow escaping attention, updated infection fatality rates (IFR) are less than or equal to seasonal flu for those under 60 in France, Spain and the Netherlands. Less than 1 percent of deaths occur in the absence of underlying conditions. Of the exceptionally rare deaths in children in New York City, only one tragic case out of 15,756 COVID-19 deaths – 0.006 percent – was a child without a known underlying condition.

The medical system was successfully saved from being overwhelmed, but in the meantime, the bed-wetters moved the goalposts. They no longer talk about flattening the curve. Now they want us to stay locked down UNTIL IT’S SAFE!

Say what? Until it’s safe?! They apparently believe if we just stay inside long enough, the virus will disappear, and then we can all come out to play again. They haven’t the grasped the fact – and it is a fact – that the virus is here, it’s not going away, and it will spread. I’ll say that again for the slow-witted: the virus is going to spread. And one more time: THE VIRUS IS GOING TO SPREAD. Most of us will be exposed at some point, just as most of us are exposed to cold and flu viruses every year. And just like every year, the vast majority of us will be fine.

When I’ve bothered to debate the issue online, I’ve noticed a curious psychology at work: despite the increasingly good news, some people are very, very wedded to the idea that everything is awful and we’re in the middle of an unprecedented disaster. You simply cannot get these people to accept any good news.

For example, I posted a picture The Older Brother snapped of the ER waiting room at the hospital in Illinois where they took my mom. Here’s your “overwhelmed” hospital:

No line whatsoever at the emergency room. That’s good news, right? But a guy on Facebook jumped through mental hoops so he could continue believing the hospital was, in fact, overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases.

They don’t take Covid cases into ER. Most hospitals take Covid cases into different area to avoid spreading the infection. At my local hospital there are huge signs outside saying “Don’t enter if you suspect you have Covid”. Arrow direct you to a different area of the hospital.

Good grief. I’d finally had enough of his doomsday attitude, so I got a bit nasty in my reply:

Ahh, I see! The hospital where my mom was taken is, in fact, overwhelmed with COVID cases, but we’re just not seeing it in the picture because those people entered by a different door. Whew! Thanks for figuring that out. For a moment there, I was afraid we actually had a hospital in the U.S. that isn’t swamped with COVID cases. That would blow our entire world-view, and we can’t have that.

Nice try. My brother has been following the situation in Springfield. The hospitals are not overwhelmed with COVID cases, period. People are not dying for lack of treatment. The entire county of nearly 200,000 people has had 53 cases total, and four deaths — two women in their 70s and two men in their 90s.

Sorry, I can see you really, really, really don’t want to accept that there are many areas in no danger of being overwhelmed, but I’m afraid the good news is what it is. Sometimes we just have to take our lumps and accept the good news, no matter how emotionally attached we are to believing it’s all disastrous everywhere. Keep your chin up … maybe some really, truly, horrible disaster will come along eventually to confirm your world-view and brighten your day.

I’m especially amused by the brave souls who’ve been telling us since 2017 that they’re members of something called #TheResistance – equating themselves with people who risked their lives to sabotage fascist military operations. Now we have politicians actually behaving like fascists … issuing orders to arrest and fine people for daring to be outside without a mask, encouraging citizens to snitch on each other, etc. The mayor of Los Angeles even announced the city will cut off water and electricity to any “non-essential” businesses operating without the city’s blessing.

As far as I can tell, members of #TheResistance don’t see a problem with all this authoritarian overreach. In fact, they’re outraged that people are actually resisting the authoritarian overreach. Those danged protestors want to kill people, doncha know.

All of this was, of course, entirely predictable. As I’ve written in several posts and explained in my Diet, Health and the Wisdom of Crowds speech, The Anointed always follow the same pattern:

To solve a problem, they come up with a Grand Plan, which nearly always involves spending more of other people’s money and restricting more of other people’s freedoms. Check.

Because they are so supremely confident in their own intelligence, The Anointed don’t feel the need to provide evidence the theory behind the plan is correct, and will happily dismiss any evidence the theory is wrong. Check.

Once The Anointed come up with a Grand Plan, the plan is now The Good, so people who oppose the plan aren’t just opposing a plan … no, they’re opposing The Good itself, and they would only do that for one of two reasons: 1) they’re stupid, or 2) they’re evil. Check.

This just proves southerners are stupid … these Republican governors don’t mind sacrificing people’s lives just so businesses can get back to making money.

I began using the term The Anointed after reading Thomas Sowell’s terrific book The Vision of The Anointed. Although I don’t talk about it as often, he also spelled out the alternative vision in the book. He calls it The Tragic Vision. That may sound like an oh, life is awful philosophy, but it’s not. In fact, I’ve found that people who share The Tragic Vision are generally happier than those who share the attitudes of The Anointed.

That’s because while The Anointed are forever dissatisfied and constantly trying to force their version of The Good on us (often making things worse in the process), The Tragic Vision accepts that life on earth will always be imperfect. Those with The Tragic Vision understand that our choices in life are rarely between The Good vs. The Bad; our choices are usually between alternatives that are neither all good nor all bad. That’s just how life is. If you accept and embrace that, you’ll be happier. You may even find yourself engaging in what author/philosopher Joseph Campbell called joyful participation in the sorrows of the world.

The coronavirus is here, it will spread, and it will kill people. That’s bad. However, that doesn’t mean staying in lockdown is The Good. Life has to go on. We’ve faced worse pandemics without panicking and trashing our economy. A nasty flu killed perhaps 80,000 Americans in 2017-2018, but we didn’t shut down the world. In 1969, a flu came along that killed somewhere between a million and four million people worldwide, including more than 100,000 Americans – and that was when our population was only 205 million. The same death rate today would translate to 160,000 dead Americans. But life went on.

Much as The Anointed and the bed-wetters would like to believe the lockdown is about The Good (savings lives!) vs. The Bad (opening up society again just so some greedy business owners can make money), the issue isn’t so childishly simple. Yes, when we start mingling with each other again, more people will become infected and a small fraction of those people will die – and that will happen whether we end the lockdown today or two years from now. It sucks.

But if you really want to see a spike in deaths, just wait until we social-distance ourselves into a worldwide economic meltdown. And unlike COVID-19, which is mostly killing people who are already old or frail, an economic meltdown will end up killing people of all ages.

If you’re afraid the coronavirus will pounce on you and kill you the moment you step outside, here’s the solution: stay home. Lock yourself in your mom’s basement UNTIL IT’S SAFE! (But don’t forget to tweet about how you’re a brave member of #TheResistance. )

Meanwhile, don’t expect the rest of us to stay locked down, and don’t whine about how stupid and evil we are for calling for life to return to normal. It’s time to leave BizarroWorld. Some of us have already left … and despite the predictions of those genius blue-check journalists, we lived to tell the tale.

I’ll close with a quote from the Stanford professor:

The total lockdown may have been justified at the start of this pandemic, but it must now end — smartly, without irrational, unnecessary requirements contrary to medical science, common sense and logic. The goal of the strict isolation was accomplished in the overwhelming majority of places … It’s time to stop the cycle of becoming frantic as we see what are totally expected changes in hypothetical projections. Instead, let’s use empirical evidence and established medical science.

The time of failed leadership must end, or we are committing national suicide.

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Grief Break Over The Marvelous Teacher

Sorry to say, I need another grief break. My mom, Shirley J. Naughton, passed away on Sunday at the age of 83. It wasn’t a total shock because she’d been having brain-shrinkage issues and was obviously declining mentally. The Older Brother, who’d been taking her to a neurologist in St. Louis, told me a year ago if I wanted to visit Mom while she was still all there, I’d best not wait. We made a trip to Illinois soon after, and were planning another trip this spring. Social distancing canceled that trip. We figured we’d make a trip to see her this summer once the lockdown is over.

Just over a week ago, she suffered a hemorrhagic stroke. There was nothing doctors could do except recommend comfort care. The Older Brother and Younger Sister took her home. When I woke on Sunday, Chareva told me my nephew Grant had called to say Mom had passed.

Like a lot of women in her generation, Mom married young. She was 19 when she and my dad tied the knot. She was only 21 when The Older Brother was born, and 23 when I was born. For many years, she was just Mom to us, a housewife and mother. But she always had a lively mind, so in her late thirties, she enrolled in college classes. She ended up earning a master’s degree in English literature and went on to teach composition and literature in local high schools.  I met some of her former students when I was college. They couldn’t say enough about what a marvelous teacher she was and how much they enjoyed her classes.

Even after she officially retired, she was always busy. As her obituary explains, she was involved with the local symphony, the local arts council, the Abraham Lincoln Museum, a gourmet cooking club, activities with her grandkids, etc., etc. I used to tell her she needed to retire from being retired. She didn’t slow down until the brain issues forced it on her.

I called her a few days before the stroke to check in. She was mostly coherent and told me she’d found a box of letters I’d written to her over the years. She told me she loved re-reading those letters they were well-written and funny. She told me the one about “mom school” in particular made her laugh out loud while bringing a tear to her eye. I wasn’t sure which letter she meant.

I didn’t know it was the last conversation we’d ever have, but in retrospect, it was a fitting goodbye. I dug through my files (I’ve long been a fanatic about backing up my work) and found that “mom school” letter from nearly 20 years ago. I’ve posted it below because I think it says as much about Mom as anything I could write now.

I’ll thank you in advance for your condolences, then I’m taking some time off.

Dear Mom,

You’ve said more than once that you hope to discover your purpose in life someday. Since you’ve read rather a lot on spiritual topics, you probably know that people who have near-death experiences are often told to return to their lives, and to remember that the purpose of living is to love, to learn, and to teach.  If that’s true, and I like to think it is, then you’ve already been living your purpose, even if you’re unaware of it.

When I was attending Illinois State, I met some of your former students, and they all thought you were a marvelous teacher. I could’ve told them that. I’ve been attending the Shirley Naughton School of Moms for four decades. Here’s just some of what I’ve learned:

Preschool: Moms are warm and they kiss you and they love you a lot. They don’t like it if you draw on the bricks. They still love you, though.  When you grow up, you’ll probably marry Mom.

Kindergarten: Moms know how to make buttered toast with cinnamon and sugar and hot milk poured on top. This is quite possibly the best breakfast ever invented.

First Grade: If you don’t wear your scarf and hat, you’ll get an earache. Moms warn you about these things because they love you.

Second Grade: If you get an earache, it’s okay to wake up Mom in the middle of the night and tell her about it. She’ll hug you and kiss you so you’ll feel better. The next day, she’ll take you to the doctor. He’ll put oily stuff in your ears. And you should’ve worn your hat and scarf.

Third Grade: Moms know how to take an ordinary can of Spaghetti-Os and turn them into the best lunch ever invented. They do this by mixing in pieces of hot dogs. It’s a lot of work, but they do it anyway because they love you.

Fourth Grade: Really good Moms become den mothers for a bunch of Cub Scouts. They teach you techniques for creating modern art, such as gluing split peas to a jelly glass and spray-painting the whole thing gold. You can give these masterpieces to your grandparents.

Fifth Grade: Moms don’t like slugs. If you find a slug on the sidewalk, you definitely should not put it on the kitchen counter shortly before Mom walks in to cook. Hearing your mother scream isn’t as much fun as you might think. If you do put a slug on the kitchen counter, Mom will still love you.

Sixth Grade: If you learn a new song at school, Mom would like to hear you sing it. If you sing really well, your Mom will say so. If you don’t sing really well, she’ll say you do anyway. You probably shouldn’t judge your talents based on what Mom says.

Seventh Grade: If they are surprised, Moms can forget what their own kids look like. If you forget your homework, you definitely should not let yourself into the house through the garage door and surprise Mom coming out of the bathroom. In this situation, Moms often mistake their kids for axe murderers. If you do grow up and become an axe murderer, your Mom will still love you and tell people you’re just confused.

Eighth Grade: Moms love dogs. They also love hamsters and guinea pigs. If you want any of these animals, you should go straight to Mom.

Ninth Grade: If you make a Mom angry enough, she’ll spank you. This isn’t a great concern, however, because it doesn’t hurt and you’ll both end up laughing. Also, it will probably only happen two or three times in your entire life.

Tenth Grade: Good Moms love your friends and feed them better meals than they get at home. They also talk to your friends as if they have brains, which is true almost all the time. This means your friends will want to spend a lot of time at your house.

Eleventh Grade: Moms are smart. They can go to college and learn about English literature and philosophy and start correcting your Dad’s grammar. This is really cool because it gives you someone to talk to if you’ve also been reading philosophy and literature and enjoying it. The bad news is that sometimes you’ll end up talking until 2:00 in the morning and spend the next day feeling tired and not all that philosophical.

Twelfth Grade: If you’re studying literature in school, you should raid Mom’s library and see if she’s already read whatever book you’re supposed to read next. If she has, you could almost write a term paper on what you glean from the notes scribbled in the margins. At the very least, you’ll have some interesting points to raise in class and impress the teacher.

College, First Year: Moms love you and don’t care what you plan to do for a living as long as you’re happy.

College, Second Year: Moms don’t mind if your band practices in the basement. They like hearing the same song fifty or sixty times in one week.

College, Third Year: Moms love you and don’t care what you plan to do for a living as long as you’re happy.

College, Fourth Year: When you come home for weekends and holidays, Moms celebrate by making Beef Bourguignonne. This is the best dinner ever invented and only takes a couple of days to whip together.

College, Fifth Year: Moms love you and don’t care what you plan to do for a living as long as you’re happy.

Early Twenties: If your best friend gets married, Moms make moussaka for the rehearsal party. This is the second-best dinner ever invented and only takes a couple of days to whip together. The next morning, it’s also the best breakfast ever invented.

Later Twenties: If you write a play, Moms will be reasonably sure you’ve established yourself as a literary genius.

Thirty: Moms don’t care if you don’t do anything for a living as long as you’re not completely miserable. Moms will assure you that if you follow your dreams, something good will happen.

Early Thirties: Moms are good to your girlfriends and can even miss them when you decide you didn’t actually mean to get engaged. Some girlfriends will tell you they wish they’d had your Mom instead of theirs.

Mid Thirties: Moms make excellent comedic material. If you can’t make people laugh by talking about your Mom, you’d better find another career to pursue.

Later Thirties: Great Moms make great Grandmas, too. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t necessarily live in little houses that smell bad, and it can make you feel warm and fuzzy to see how much your nephews like going to grandma’s house.

Forties: Little boys don’t actually grow up and marry their Moms. But the lucky ones grow up and get married and are almost ridiculously happy – because they learned how to love and be loved from their Moms.

Thanks, Mom. You really are a marvelous teacher.

I love you,
Tom

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