Safety and psychosis

The Wichita city council this week extended the “mask mandate” into October. Why stop at masking?

How can I avoid the risks of drowning while swimming?

Recommendation: if you must swim, always wear a life vest, face mask and snorkel. This can interfere with swimming laps and draw comment at your local swimming club (assuming they reopen after a coronavirus vaccine is available) but your health is more important!

SER best practice: don’t swim at all. In fact, try not to go near bodies of water larger than a bathtub. Avoid hot tubs, especially if you are very short or have trouble maintaining your balance.

Pro-action: organize your fellow zero-risk activists to complain to pool operators about persons insensitive to your need for complete safety. Demand that the your health club or swimming pool have two trained lifeguards on duty at all time. Lobby local officials to fence off all ponds and lakes where people might swim unsupervised.

***

If you really want to do something about the CCP virus, Joseph Moore has the most practical suggestion I’ve come across:

Turns out that the majority of the population, those under 50 and in reasonably good health, have an IFR [infection fatality rate] of about 0.0001% – one in a million chance. (1) With this bit of information in hand, we should rejoice, throw away the damned masks, and throw a huge, sweaty, 2 week-long street party – for all those who are under 50 and in reasonably good health AND anyone else who would rather party and face a minuscule risk of death than cower like rabbits.

Because – pay attention here – after than 2-week party, we’ll have reached herd immunity! Huzzah! And it would cost us fewer deaths, maybe around 100, from COVID, far fewer than are going to kill themselves coming and going to the party, drinking too much and falling on their face, or in any of the myriad other mundane yet fatal ways healthy people routinely die.

***

Some perspective on our historical moment:

In 2005, Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben published the book State of Exception. The title refers to an old idea, traceable at least to the Roman dictatorship, which holds (to coin a phrase) that extraordinary times require extraordinary measures.

Of course, sometimes extraordinary times do require extraordinary measures—e.g., the American Revolution. The problem, of which ancient thinkers and jurists were well aware, is that there are always people wishing to proclaim any and every time “extraordinary” so they can grant themselves extraordinary powers which they resist ever giving up. The Roman solution was to limit a dictator’s term to six months and to enforce a strong political-cultural norm that the sooner a dictator surrendered his office, the more honor he gained. Whatever the precise solution, for law and liberty to endure, some means has to be found to deal with extraordinary moments without permanent recourse to lawless power.

Agamben argues that few, if any, countries—and virtually none in the West—have any such means anymore. And all the elites like it that way. Hence the “state of exception” has everywhere replaced the rule of law and is, de facto, the rule.

Nothing has made this clearer than the COVID-19 lockdowns, mask mandates, and other executive directives by governors and mayors who make no pretense of even consulting legislative bodies, much less going to the trouble of passing actual laws. They just decree what they want, and that’s that.

Americans initially were willing to go along because they feared that COVID-19 would turn out to be what the ruling class and the “experts” still lyingly insist that it is: a once-in-a-century plague primed to kill millions within months. By now it’s obvious that this virus is not that. But the “state of exception” remains.

***

And that’s enough. I am beyond disgusted with the viral hysteria and the gangsters who exploit it. From here on out I intend to completely ignore it and return this weblog to its original focus on trivia like literature, cartoons, the end of civilization, botany and music.

*** Update: I wasn’t happy with the original title, so I changed it. (This was in the back of my mind.)

***

Update II: Edward Feser is ferocious.

Junk mail

While I was technically a member of the Stupid Party for many years (you have to declare an affiliation to vote in a primary in Kansas), I never, ever considered joining the Evil Party1. Therefore, I was a bit surprised to find the above in my mail this week. I think I detect a whiff of desperation in the air.

Just wondering, and a note

Any test of Joe Biden’s cognitive functions would be a waste of time. At this point, I wonder: could he pass a Turing test?

In related news, I see that the democrats have picked the most nakedly demagogic of the candidates to finish out Biden’s hypothetical term. Some months back she blindsided the senile creep for not supporting busing enthusiastically enough. At the time I wrote a brief note on an aspect of sending children to distant schools that is usually overlooked, but for some reason I never published it. I might as well put it up here now.

Why is there only one “s” in “busing”?

During the middle of second grade, my parents transferred me to the nearest Catholic grade school, 30 miles south of our home in northern Utah. My home was the second stop on the morning bus route, and the second-last in the evening. Every school morning I needed to get up while it was still dark out — always a bitter struggle — swallow something (I got thoroughly sick of Carnation Instant Breakfast) and run out to the bus before it drove off. The bus spent the next half-hour picking up other sleepy students around town, and another half-hour on the highway to school. I was barely awake, my parent were cross, the other students were cranky, and the bus driver resented us all. It was a marvelous way to start the day.

After school, the process was reversed. The main difference was that we were all tired and hungry rather than sleepy, but it was nevertheless as much a pleasure to ride the bus then as it was in the morning.

So, every school day through fifth grade, I spent two hours each day confined in a decrepit old school bus with bad shocks1, enjoying the company of 30 or so other surly children, because my parents thought I would benefit from being in a Catholic school. Were they right? No. Even assuming that the education in the Catholic school was indeed superior2, it was not worth the waste of two hours every day.3

Note that I spent those hours on the bus because my parents wanted me in a Catholic school. There was no question of good or bad neighborhoods or schools. Even so, it was a mistake. Busing itself is intrinsically bad.4

Odds and ends, mostly odd

Today’s useful term: “counter-Renaissance.” E.g.,

The Nazi leader who described the National Socialist revolution as a counter-Renaissance spoke more truly than he probably knew. It was a decisive step in the destruction of that civilization which modern man had built up from the age of the Renaissance….

—F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom.

***

J Greely:

… for all the (mostly true) complaints about how horribly misogynist the Gor novels were, the core audience was female. The local bookstore clerks who more-or-less adopted me in the late Seventies often laughed about how women would come up to the counter with a Gor novel artfully concealed in the middle of their purchases.

I tried reading one of Norman’s novels once but gave up half-way through. He didn’t like women and had no understanding of them. Or so I thought — apparently he understood some well enough.

***

Greely found a little game:

“List 5 famous people you’ve either met or have been within a few feet of, but ONE is a lie. Then let your friends guess which one they think is a lie.”

Let’s play.

1. Wendy Whelan

2. Phil Keaggy

3. William F. Buckley, Jr.

4. R.A. Lafferty

5. James Lee Burke

(Don’t recognize all the names? All are legendary in their fields, though those fields might be ballet or music, rather than sports or television.)

***

The maskerade

A few weeks ago I announced my intention to never mention the CCP virus again. Unfortunately, the creeps and nitwits who run the country1 and their media accomplices won’t leave me alone, so here’s another small collection of notes from the medical front of the war on civilization. I’m putting the rest of the post below the fold, so those who are sick of this nonsense can skip it.

Continue reading “The maskerade”

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.)

Nota bene

An important message from TS:

In the coming days, I encourage each of us to step away from the nonsense, ignore the division sought by the enema1, and engage in productive conversations about the weather. Our goal must be to stamp out “national conversations”. Instead, converse with your family and immediate neighbors only please.

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.