Unmasking

Let’s run a little poll.

I’m not totally averse to masks, by the way. Something like the above would be perfectly acceptable, though I’d leave off the cape when I’m out on my bike. However, it doesn’t obstruct breathing and thus would not pass muster with the multitude of petty tyrants.

(Illustration from here.)

No commentary

David Breitenbeck:

I am determined not to comment on the news. I despise mobs, mass movements, and those who enable them, and my great desire is to be able to move to a nice little corner of the country where there aren’t enough people to form moving blobs of collective stupidity and then shut out as much of the insanity as I can.

Fr. Boniface Endorf (Via TS):

The other threat to our hearts is despair. What can we do when faced with centuries of injustice – indeed, injustice stretching all the way back to Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel? First, do not look too long into the Palantir. The Palantir is an object from the Lord of the Rings used to see what is happening far away. One of the characters in that story, a leader of a nation, looks into it and sees the evil surrounding and besieging his nation. He sees only the evil, not the good, and amidst that darkness, he falls into despair. His despair cripples him spiritually and prevents him from fighting for the good. The same can happen to us. Through the Internet, we can see what’s happening all over the world at any moment, and the sheer volume of evil and darkness can spiritually cripple us too. Despair is stalking us and we must make sure that we grasp for hope instead. Do not focus solely on the darkness! Do not let it fill your mind and sow despair within you.

Humor and other depressing things

A little joke:

A man visiting the Kotel – Western Wall – noted an old man praying diligently, all day. He was there every day. Finally [he] went to the old man and asked “What do you pray for”? “For world peace, harmony, the brotherhood of man…”

“Do you get a response”?

“No. It’s like I’m talking to a wall.”

(Via J Greely.)

Joseph Moore recommends a little booklet about some aspects of the CCP virus by a former NY Times writer. The substance won’t be new to those who’ve been following William Briggs, but it’s a handy compendium of information you probably won’t see in your newspaper.

There is a certain slogan popular today that will not be appearing on this website.

Just wondering: is the final stage of every form of government kakistocracy?

A couple of quotes

Theodore Dalrymple:

What seemed to me to be perfectly obvious was that the demonstrators, who appeared superficially to be angry with or about Ms. Hopkins, were in fact enjoying themselves hugely. They were acting in a kind of bad faith, in some sense dishonestly, by disguising from themselves their real emotions. They were stoking themselves up into an agreeable state of fury, believing in a distorted form of Descartes’ cogito, namely, “I’m angry, therefore I’m good.”

A thought: lust may get more press, but wrath may be the most intensely pleasurable of the seven deadly sins.

Heather Mac Donald:

The looters are not grieving over the stomach-churning arrest and death of George Floyd; they are having the time of their lives. You don’t protest or mourn a victim by stealing oxycontin, electronics, jewelry, and sneakers.

Thoughts, short-term and long-term

I am beyond tired of all the CCP virus hysteria, and I don’t intend ever to allude to it again here. Instead, I refer you to the development of Edward Feser’s thoughts on the matter over the past six weeks.1

Some thoughts on the COVID-19 crisis:

In the short run, then, my sympathies are more with those who defend the lockdown than with those who are skeptical of it. However, in the long run those who defend the lockdown need to be more open, rather than less, to the considerations raised by the skeptics.

***

The lockdown’s loyal opposition:

Meanwhile, at The Bulwark, conservative lockdown defender Jonathan V. Last tells us that he won’t link even to Fr. Thomas Joseph’s article, let alone Rusty’s. The reason is that Fr. Thomas Joseph’s article “made matters worse, not better” by granting “legitimacy” to the idea that “there are really two sides to the issue, and that reasonable and intelligent people can disagree.” He compares Rusty’s skepticism to that of flat-earthers and anti-vaxxers.

This is outrageous. Does it not occur to Last that the surest way to reinforce skepticism is precisely to demonize it, even when it is expressed by a serious writer and thinker like Rusty?

***

The burden of proof is on those who impose burdens:

What I am sure of is this much: The burden of proof is not in the first place on him and people of like mind to show that the lockdown should be ended. The burden is on defenders of the lockdown to show that it shouldn’t be….

The issue is not just that doing massive damage to the economy is, if unnecessary, imprudent in the extreme – though, to say the very least, it most certainly is that. It’s that the lockdown entails actions that, in ordinary circumstances, would be very gravely immoral.

***

The lockdown and appeals to authority:

Most people’s opinions depend crucially on what they have heard from political commentators, journalists, politicians, and scientists. None of what any of these people say can be evaluated the way a philosophical argument can, viz. in a manner that entirely abstracts from considerations about the knowledge and biases of the people giving the arguments. And that includes, to some extent, the scientists. Moreover, the knowledge and biases of these experts give us grounds for having at least some reservations about what they say. And that too includes, at least to some extent, the scientists.

***

The lockdown is no longer morally justifiable:

As I have said before, I think that the lockdown that was put in place in the United States two months ago was morally justifiable given the circumstances at the time. In my opinion, under current circumstances, it is no longer morally justifiable. To be sure, I am not denying that some social distancing measures are still justifiable and even necessary. I am also not denying that a more modest lockdown may still be defensible in some localities. But the draconian total lockdown that was put in place across most of the country is at this point no longer defensible, and state and local authorities who are relaxing it are right to do so….

But again, it isn’t those who favor relaxing the lockdown who have the burden of proof. The burden is on those who want to preserve it. Two months ago, they could make a strong case for having met it. Not any longer.

Continue reading “Thoughts, short-term and long-term”

W. Heath Robinson expects an apology

Spare room

In a Heath Robinson device, everything has a clear purpose, no matter how strange it appears. For example, there is a clearly discernable logic to the profusion of cables, pulleys and bellows in his “Spare Room,” above, from this year’s HR calendar. It may not be realistic — I wouldn’t want to sleep in that bed — but everything makes sense. (The same is true of the inventions of Heath Robinson’s American counterpart, Rube Goldberg.) Comparing Neil Ferguson’s incomprehensible mathematical model to a Heath Robinson device slanders Robinson.

Bonus calendar picture: Uncle Lubin in color.

Uncle Lubin

Empty playground

Like pretty much everything else in Kansas, playgrounds1 in Wichita are off-limits. Nobody was watching me yesterday morning, so I grabbed a few panoramas. These look best in full-screen mode.

The spaceship off to the west was part of a slide that was later closed up and partially dismantled because of liability issues.

Lenin’s birthday miscellany

Robbo:

I see today that Our Betters are starting to beat the drum that we should be treating glowbull enwarmening and coronapalooza at the same time and in the same way.

By a staggering coincidence, I already happen to be doing just that thing.

Maybe not the way they’d like….

*****

The Z Man:

If you’re willing to send cops after people walking on the beach, just to make a point about who decides who can go outside, you’re probably going to have no qualms about ending the voting charade.

*****

What we definitely know:

Here are the official Coronavirus guidelines:
1. Basically, you can’t leave the house for any reason, but if you have to, then you can.
2. Masks are useless, but maybe you have to wear one, it can save you, it is useless, but maybe it is mandatory as well.
3. Stores are closed, except those that are open.
4. You should not go to hospitals unless you have to go there. Same applies to doctors, you should only go there in case of emergency, provided you are not too sick.
5. This virus is deadly but still not too scary, except that sometimes it actually leads to a global disaster.
6. Gloves won’t help, but they can still help.
7. Everyone needs to stay HOME, but it’s important to GO OUT.
8. There is no shortage of groceries in the supermarket, but there are many things missing when you go there in the evening, but not in the morning. Sometimes.
9. The virus has no effect on children except those it affects….

*****

Via Glenn Reynolds:

Just think how many lives have been saved by two things leftists hate most: suburbs and the car culture. And just think how many lives have been lost by things the left love most: mass transit and high-density urban living.

*****

Meanwhile, in New York it is now mandatory to break the law.

(Via Pixy.)

See also George Carlin on the state of the planet.

*****

Update: possibly relevant:

Joan alone

I rode downtown around noon today. While it wasn’t quite the ghost town that it was on my last trip in, I still pretty much had the place to myself, as you can see by the dense crowds on Main Street, above. The statue in front of the library is of Joan of Arc — Wichita is a “sister city” of old Orleans.

View this in greater detail as an interactive panorama here.

Continue reading “Joan alone”

Today’s quote

Clarissa:

Every time I mention to my husband the possibility that the quarantine might be lifted at some point in the future, I end up feeling like I just did something extremely cruel.

He has developed such a sunny outlook on life and is finally truly enjoying life. . . And here I am, reminding him this is not forever.

A different sort of paper chase

Theodore Dalrymple:

Considering how large a part it has played in my life, I have given very little thought to toilet paper, its production, and its transcendent importance. However, I once visited the main prison in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia where, as perhaps you might expect, it was in short supply. The prisoners, however, had at least a temporary solution to the problem: the Complete Works of Lenin.

Which reminds me of a passage in Russian dancer Valery Panov’s autobiography concerning the vital role of the press in the Soviet Union. During his student days, circa 1950, pages of Pravda or Isvestia was torn into eight strips and the strips crumpled until they were soft enough to use as the Soviet prisoners used Lenin.

Unfortunately, American plumbing is too delicate and narrow to accommodate any but the flimsiest forms of wood pulp, so it would be impractical to use the print edition of The Wichita Eagle for the purpose to which it is best suited.