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.

So…

… what happened yesterday?

Where were all the April 1 posts? I had planned to update my list of relevant posts elsewhere as I found them throughout the day, but I only came across three more1, not enough to make the effort worthwhile2. Why weren’t there more? Are writers too intimidated by America’s Newspaper of Record to invent their own news? Have we passed the Neuman Singularity3, when the world becomes absurd faster than it can be satirized? Is humor just not funny anymore?

Please panic responsibly

Francis Porretto:

At this time, America, like the rest of the world, is coping with the Wuhan virus. It’s brought about a number of (hopefully) temporary alterations to our patterns of life. These have not been easy adaptations for most of us. Our vibrant economy is badly hobbled, our social mechanisms are largely idled, and our politics has…wait just a moment…great God in heaven! Nothing has changed about our politics!

Charles Hurt:

The whole point of establishing the nation’s capital in Washington was that it was a dismal swamp uninhabitable most of the year. The mosquitoes alone kept Congress out of session for long months at a time. This narrowed the amount of time each year that federal legislators could be in Washington wasting your money and destroying the country with their ridiculous ideas and votes.

Then along came air conditioning, and that ruined everything.

Nathan Pinkoski:

In reflecting on the COVID-19 crisis, we need not agree with MacIntyre’s wholesale pessimism about our political and social institutions. We need not question shutdown measures in place, nor even subscribe to their “biopolitical” critique. But if we care about the future of our societies, we raise a simple question: Do the managerial experts performing within the drama of this crisis have an adequate understanding of the hierarchy of human goods?

Giorgio Agamben:

What is worrisome is not so much or not only the present, but what comes after. Just as wars have left as a legacy to peace a series of inauspicious technologies, from barbed wire to nuclear power plants, so it is also very likely that one will seek to continue even after the health emergency experiments that governments did not manage to bring to reality before: closing universities and schools and doing lessons only online, putting a stop once and for all to meeting together and speaking for political or cultural reasons and exchanging only digital messages with each other, wherever possible substituting machines for every contact — every contagion — between human beings.

Joseph Moore:

Everything we do is a more or less educated guess, as far as what, if any, lives will be saved. It’s always a balancing act. Decreased economic activity kills people, too, a notion our Left seems congenitally disinclined to understand, but which is nonetheless completely obvious upon inspection. So, make good decisions, knowing it’s a trade off, seeking some less bad and essentially unknowable outcome that is largely independent of anything we may do.

Severian:

Unfortunately for us, speed and scale have considerably broadened our notion of physical security. We know what kind of actions Mighty Pharaoh took in a plague. Given the technological limitations of his time, he could do no other. We modern folks, on the other hand….

… well, look around. We’ve decided, as a culture, that “physical security” now extends to “never getting the sniffles.” And we have, or soon will have, the technology to make that kind of monitoring a reality. The mud huts along the Nile didn’t have two-way Alexas installed; the McMansions along the Mississippi soon will. The state of the art of government really does allow for 24/7 individual surveillance. If we don’t want the sniffles, this is the only way to do it.

The Z-Man:

We live in an age where the unthinkable, like the fog, quietly creeps up on us until suddenly the unthinkable is the new normal. Just as “shelter in place” is the new normal whenever it snows, mandatory lock downs will be the new normal whenever too many people get the sniffles. The unthinkable not only becomes thinkable, it becomes impossible to think otherwise. It also means that everything unthinkable today is suddenly on the table, maybe even the menu, for tomorrow.

***

I’m not a virologist, and it would be presumptuous of me to make any pronouncements on the severity of the current apocalyptic threat and the best strategies for meeting it. However, I have observed human beings in action for more decades than I want to count, and can confidently say that, in matters of power and money, it is impossible to be too cynical. I suggest that, after your daily dose of hysteria from the medium of your choice, you see William M. Briggs for a different perspective, in particular his Tuesday updates.

Miscellany

I can believe that a man can fly. I can believe that a copper-powered spaceship can travel vastly faster than the speed of light. But I simply cannot believe that any superheroine, no matter how impressive she looks in superspandex, can run or fight effectively while wearing high heels.

(Via Jagi at John C. Wright’s place.)

***

Useful terms

Cognivirus, as in “In other news, in the latest debate Joe Biden has pledged to beat SARS and Bernie Sanders is leading the fight against Ebola. Apparently Joe’s cognivirus is contagious.”

Unglican Church [of Rome], Catholicism as misunderstood by the creators of Japanese animation. (Do not confuse with the American Catholic Patriotic Association.)

***

Weblog of the Plague Years II

William M. Briggs, Statistician to the Stars!:

Incidentally, anybody remember how news media make their money and politicians win their support? Clicks, eyeballs, followers. The more freakish the headline or pronouncement, the bigger the profit the larger the following. Now, honestly, do you think any editor or politician has succumbed to the temptation to exaggerate the coronavirus threat?

and

If you think the politics now is bad, wait until this is over. The blamestorming and trophy-giving will be truly nauseating.

Severian:

What happens when the final tallies are made, and we realize that more people died from the associated stupidity (e.g. diabetics not being able to get their insulin due to supply chain disruptions) than were killed by the Wuhan Flu? The Media is responsible for all that, and when people are feeling the very real pain of a major global economic depression, they’re going to remember it.

Weblog of the plague years

Robbo:

… Ol’ Robbo can really get behind this “social distancing” thing. Hey, I was a misanthropic shut-in before it was cool to be a misanthropic shut-in!

“Social distancing” is one of the methods by which I’ve preserved my sanity through the years. With a well-stocked freezer, I won’t need to go anywhere for weeks, perhaps months. Coping with this week’s apocalyptic threat requires no changes in my behavior. At worst, I’ll miss a few meetings. That is not a problem.

J Greely:

Um, if all you’re buying is water, toilet paper, and rice, you’re preparing for a very peculiar apocalypse. What, you’re gonna sit on the porch in the dark boiling bottled water over a toilet-paper stove to cook your rice as the zombies roam the neighborhood looking for brains? Relax, you’ve just proven that you’re safe from them.

Words, words, words

Don’t use the past tense of “to do” online, or Google will delete you.

(Via Pixy.)

***

Be wary of homonyms:

Expert is not the English word of the same spelling and pronunciation, and which means “one who has skill, experience, or extensive knowledge in his calling or in any special branch of learning.” This old word still exists and is in use in areas in which deplorables are to be found.

But this old useful word is just not the same as the modern expert. This modern word, which can only be distinguished in context from the old, means “a flack who repeats the consensus, and who causes the consensus.”

***

“Reactionary” may be an unsatisfactory term, but…

… I suppose bearing with things that you’re stuck with because they’ve been codified by long use is more or less a principle of being a reactionary. So it all works out!

Today’s quotes

Via Francis W. Porretto:

MINAS TIRITH (AP): The League Against Cultural Appropriation has filed suit against both the Texas Rangers of Major League Baseball and the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League for appropriating the cognomen of the Dunedain of northeastern Eriador, which is often called Arnor by the irredentist movement. The AP’s representative in the palace press pool sought the opinion of King Elessar Telcontar, who wore that moniker as “Strider the Ranger” before his ascension to the throne, but so far his press secretary has declined to comment. (Queen Arwen Evenstar’s publicist told our stringer to “Come back when you can ask in proper Sindarin Elvish.”) More on this story as it develops.

Via Glenn Reynolds:

Before this decade is out, some smart Democrat is going to realize that if they would have treated Trump like an ordinary President, he would have behaved like an ordinary President, that they have only themselves to blame for making him extraordinary. And if we’re very lucky, the rest of the Democrats will ignore and ostracize this insightful Democrat, and remain stuck on stupid for another 30 years.

Icicle Ear Alarm

Here’s a little poem I wrote a few months ago that possibly is still timely. It’s bit obscure and doesn’t rhyme, but if you take it line by line, letter by letter, you might see the point.

I, a lilac creamer,
Clear air malice.
I, calmer ace liar,
Race icier Llama.

I recall camera. I
Acclaim earlier
A miracle eclair:
A Camel Air relic.

Re: racial malice,
Real racial mice.
Racial ace miler —
Mecca, all airier.

A cleric, a mailer
Ail ceramic Earl.
Caramel ice. Liar!
I recall America.

Miscellaneous quotes

Theodore Dalrymple:

… I have often thought of starting a society for the prevention of cruelty to vegetables. I do not mean by this the terrible way the British used to cook vegetables, boiling them for hours to an unseasoned, indistinguishable, tasteless mush without discernible consistency; I mean the prevention of the suffering to which modern research suggests that plants are capable of experiencing. Pity the poor potato, from its soil untimely ripp’d! The tortured tomato, the assaulted asparagus, the beaten bean, the raped radish! I would start a movement to picket greengrocers and florists, throwing manure over them, haranguing them for their complicity with cruelty to the plant kingdom. Do they know nothing of the mandragora, have they never read Romeo and Juliet, never heard “shrieks like mandrakes torn out of the earth”? Shakespeare knew that plants suffer. Is it not time we caught up with him?

Shamus Young:

I think the rise of ADD, ADHD, LD, dyslexia, and all of the other alphabet soup syndromes are just a rise in the number of square pegs being jammed into round holes. Some kids have exceptional mathematical ability and are weak with language. Others are good at language but fumble with numbers. Most are balanced between the two. School seems to be designed around the idea that everyone learns at the same speed using the same techniques at the same age, and everyone who fails to fit this model must therefore have some sort of “problem”.

To me, the number of kids with learning disabilities is a measure of the rigidity of the education system, not the students.

William Briggs:

I use mathematicians as an example, because mathematics as a discipline has long been associated with Truth and Reality. Toss these out and you toss out the meaning of math: whence proof without Truth? And indeed, the Heterodox study found mathematicians had the lowest left to right ratio, which was still 5.5 to 1 in favor of Democrats. In contrast, Anthropology, which used to have the same ideals as mathematics, the ratio is 42.2 to 1.

TS:

He says people laugh at him for this, but he thinks Bing Crosby’s movies ruined the Church by setting up ridiculous expectations of priests in Going My Way and Bells of St. Mary.

“They anesthetized people’s common sense. Anybody who couldn’t see that was phony couldn’t see anything. And yet they became cultural icons of the Catholic clergy, that you could do no wrong. I don’t think any sane priest thinks they can do no wrong; I know there are priests who do think they can do no wrong but they’re not sane. I think that this idea somehow that there was this kind of ethereal clergy did violence to us. I think it’s part of the cultural baggage that we came out of the horrific World War II with, trying to find some peace and security, and in fact not doing that at all.”

PSA

As Pixy points out, “There was no year zero.” Therefore, today is the “Last Day Of The Second Last Year Of The Second Decade Of The First Century Of The Third Millennium.”

Robbo reiterates, “As we all know, Wednesday is January 1, 2020. 2020 is not the first year of the next decade. It is, instead, the last year of this decade. Those failing to recognize this will be set upon by rabid honey-badgers.”

In other words, everyone compiling “best/worst/whateverest of the decade” lists is jumping the gun.

Further year-end notes:

The Babylon Bee proposes a reformation I can get behind.

• Dave Barry’s summation and dismissal of the year can be found here — but you have to allow ads to see it, grr.

Sudden, violent comedy

Wonderduck points out that we’ve had Monty Python for fifty years now. I discovered them late. Their show didn’t arrive in Kansas until years after I quit watching teevee. It wasn’t until a friend handed me the scripts for the shows that I found that they were pretty good. Reading the scripts alone doesn’t give you a complete idea of what they were — “Ministry of Silly Walks” seems like a dumb little skit on paper, but John Cleese perambulating transforms it. However, the words to “The Spanish Inquisition,” “The Cheese Shop” and a good proportion of the other skits are funny on the page as well as in performance, and that is still largely how I know them.

Enjoy the Pythons now, because in the very near future the punchline to all jokes, not just “how many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb?” will be “That’s not funny.”

(The title is from here.)