More COVID-19 stuff, some ranting, and “F” stories

So, as the pandemic continues, I cross paths with more things that annoy me . . . no, that’s too mild. It’s things that piss me off.

Look, I spend a fair amount of time gently — and sometimes not-so-gently — pointing out to people that being “for” one political party or the other is, frankly, dumb. As is one religious belief over another, or any single ideology over another.

I cannot think of any religious, political, social, ethnic, or racial group that is completely right or completely wrong about things they believe and act on. Typically, they all have some things they get right, some things they get wrong, and some things that make them sound like they are bat-shit crazy. The proportions might change, but there’s always a spectrum.

Hence, it’s difficult for me to respect anyone who completely and totally buys into everything “their” group says. And it’s not just losing respect. 

If you are one of them people who are steeped into the culture of either the Far Right or Far Left, in short order you will cease to exist for me. I mean, I used to give a nod and a wink and let some things slide, but as I get older — and especially now — I have far less patience than I had even last month.

Truthfully, they too will likely lose their patience with me . . . and I can live with that, but then, stay out of my orbit.

What does this have to do with COVID-19, you ask? Good question; let me answer it after this photo.

Yet another grass photo as it came out of the D7500.

What? Oh, I add photos because most people have difficulty reading stuff — any stuff — that requires thinking. The photos are for them people to be occupied while I converse with the rest of you.

Anyway, I’m still seeing politics come into play as we struggle through what is recognized by many as a global emergency.

I mentioned I stopped watching the WH briefings because of the ass-kissing everyone has to do before they speak. And, of course, because listening to Trump hurts my brain (which I assume implies something about Trump fans who sit (or stand) in rapt attention to every word oozing from his mouth).

But mostly because I see many pitfalls and problems with how we are addressing both the medical challenges and economic challenges we face.

Processed using Color Efex Pro 4.

“Who are you to question our Great Leader and the cadre of economic advisers who have no experience or understanding of how typical Americans live?”

Well, good question. I is no one and nobody. I has no expertise. I has no track record as far as economic or epidemiologic issues are concerned. 

But, I have ears. I have eyes. I can manage to understand sentences composed of more than three words. And, I have a brain that rightly or wrongly processes information and formulates opinions. 

But more than that, I constantly seek to refine and — more important — disprove my opinions. I question what I know. I seek to destroy what I believe by hunting for evidence telling me why I’m wrong.

“Well, how the heck do you know your decision-making is right? How do you know you’re not getting your information from a wacky source like Epoch Times?”

Good question. First, I agree there is no unbiased source for anything . . . and that a crucial and important difference from idiots who pick one source they call “trustworthy and honest” and then call all other sources “biased and lying bastards“. 

The trick is to know the bias of your source. For instance, Fox News consistently shills for the hard-right-extreme-nutso-ideologue-ultra-conservative-religious-wackos. You ask how do I know this? . . . you didn’t click on the link, did you?

Anyway, if I come across something from Fox News, or CNN, or MSNBC, I refer to this chart and adjust what I hear accordingly. I actually adjust a bit more than what’s on that chart because that’s from 2014 and since then, we’ve seen more polarization; if you were left or right then, you’re likely to lean even more left or right now. 

Cranking up the colors, details, and contrast

The point is, when someone on any of the cable shows says something, I hear it through the filter of their bias . . . and, if I am really interested in the matter, I do my own research and try to find sources. You would be surprised how often I find the same source for stories that are spun by both the left-tards and right-tards to favor their respective agendas.

Meaning, I confirm that I’m being lied to. Lied by omission (they don’t report the whole story) or lied by editing (they present opinions as if backed by evidence). But I find the source and form my own opinion after considering the two opposing views.

Wow, this is getting long . . . I must be bored. No, I must be pissed off. Wanna know why? Because I see how many people click on links I provide. Often I can count them with just my middle finger. On a good day, I get to use one additional finger.

Now, I both understand and I don’t mind, much . . . the irritation comes when my Facebook and Twitter feeds are filled with links to, how should I say it . . . stupid shit that people are forwarding without doing any fact-checking.

A representation of my mood when I dip my toes into social media.

Anyway, about COVID-19 . . .

If you are really interested in information about the virus, get yourself sources who have expertise in what you want to learn. And by expertise, I mean not beholding to a political agenda. 

Unfortunately, this means spending more than ten seconds reading a headline.

For instance, I suggested the following on a recent post:

I think everyone should listen to THIS PODCAST.

Here’s the excerpt:
In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with General Stanley McChrystal and Chris Fussell about the COVID-19 pandemic. They discuss the nature of the ongoing crisis, the threat of a breakdown in social order, the problem of misinformation, the prospects of a nationwide lockdown, the trade-off between personal freedom and safety, the threat of tyranny, the concerns about the global supply chain, concerns about the price of oil, safeguarding the 2020 Presidential election, and other topics.

Want to know how many people looked at that post? Fifty-four. Did they all read it all the way through? I doubt it.

Want to know how many clicked on the link to listen to the podcast? A podcast I believe that anyone who is concerned with how society might be affected by this crisis would be very interested in?

Two people.Two people clicked on that link.

Did they listen to the whole podcast? Maybe. It’s just a tad over an hour-long, and hence 360 times longer than most people’s attention span.

And now, I’m going to give you another link . . . HERE.

Here’s the excerpt to that podcast (one hour and twenty-two minutes long):

In this episode, Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and author of Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs, provides an overview on the COVID-19 pandemic in regards to what has happened to date, what we’ve learned about how the disease spreads, and his optimism and pessimism about what potentially lies ahead. Michael gives his take on the true case fatality rate, why it differs around the world, and which underlying conditions, such as obesity, impact risk of severe illness and death. We also discuss the outlook regarding vaccines, repurposed drugs/antivirals for treatment, and Michael’s growing concern about supply chain limitations with respect to drugs, vaccines, n95 masks, and testing kits.

And guess what? That’s the short version because I could have linked Joe Rogan’s podcast with the same guy and that’s even longer, but at least it’s a YouTube video.

I feel like I’m wasting my breath telling people that it’s worth listening to. I can say they would get better information than they get from most places . . . and maybe two people will click on it.

 By the way, that channel has many other episodes one could consider worth listening to (HERE).

As I said, I get emails and links about all sorts of stories that are not meant to inform, but to push one ideology or another. Very irritating.

Wait, Emilio . . . you mentioned economic issues.

Yes, I did. And guess what, I’m not going to tackle those issues in-depth here. All I can say is, I read many sources with differing opinions and after all that, I use what I learn and couch it with what I can work out on my own by having experienced 40 years of working and managing my affairs.

I will say this: I am dismayed when I hear promises that we will get back to “normal” anytime soon. We are watching such monumental shifts in monetary policy that no one can predict what the longterm repercussions will be. I’m talking local, nationally, and globally. I get annoyed when people spew things like “we’ll bring all the manufacturing back here” because they have no concept of what they are talking about, how quickly it could happen even if it were possible, and what a terrible idea is to walk away from some form of globalization.

I’m watching stimulus packages being deployed to fix problems arising from the previous stimulus packages that were deployed to fix problems arising from the previous stimulus packages that were deployed to fix monetary policies that have been failing for the past forty-plus years. My ignorant opinion is that stimulus packages rushed out in haste (as most are) are usually nothing more than an opportunity for unscrupulous individuals (politicians being leaders in that category) to either gain more power, enrich themselves and their friends, or both. And guess what, once you go down that path, it’s nothing but more stimulus packages. In fact, they are already working on the next one. And more bailouts.

Anyone with a shred of logic would tell you that’s not sustainable.

At this point, we should be seriously talking about UBI and a national health care initiative and making long-term plans to fix many of the shortcomings of our current system.

Instead, we’re making sure the stock market is shored up.

Concern about the state of the stock market drives policies even though the majority of people have no stake in the market and only a few will benefit from the market going back up — if it goes back up. I’m watching the Middle Class being wiped out.

I’m watching bailouts of companies who used their tax breaks and profits not to plan for a rainy day or build the business and actuate the mythical trickle-down effect; they instead used the tax breaks (touted as helping working Americans) to buy back their stock so as to raise the price of said stock so as to garnish more bonuses for their executives and few stockholders.

Oh, and those low-interest rates that rob people who saved from the opportunity to earn money from their savings? Well, companies used the low rates to borrow massive amounts of money not to grow their businesses but — you guessed it — to buy back even more stock. Why, some even issue bonds to raise money to buy back stock. How crazy is that?

And here’s the sad part . . . those companies? The ones we’re bailing out and handing more tax breaks to, and buying up their bonds so they don’t default? They aren’t the ones employing 60-70% of American workers. That would be small businesses, and many of those are service industry jobs that aren’t going to get bailed out. THIS might be informative.

And, here’s a dirty secret about the market . . . it’s driven primarily by emotions, hence why, despite dumping massive amounts of money and giving up on collecting massive amounts of taxes from predatory companies, all of it can be wiped out by fear in the space of a few days. Fears that are stoked when politicians lie and when pundits lie.

I mentioned Universal Basic Income.

What I’m going to say next is going to sound like I’m bashing Republicans, but understand I hold both parties in contempt. It’s just that this next argument comes directly from conservatives and Republicans. You see, their undies get in a bunch and their backsides pucker up at the thought that someone is getting something for nothing. Worst yet, that someone who might not “deserve it” might benefit from a helping hand.

Part of it has to do with this phobia about socialism . . . as if they understood what the word means. The other part is that while they profess self-reliance and equal treatment, they absolutely want preferential treatment for their religious, social, and political agendas.

What they mean when they say they don’t want unworthy people to benefit from government handouts, they mean they don’t want anyone but themselves to benefit.

I remind readers that I can just as easily go on about what’s wrong with faux-liberals and Democrats. It’s just that right now, the shots are being called by conservatives and Republicans.

. . . and conservatives and Republicans are showing their ugly faces for everyone to see. It’s the face of hateful, opportunistic, greedy, and spiteful people.

Look for massive graft to occur on both sides of the political spectrum as trillions are tossed about to “help the American worker”. But be especially attentive to them who be driving this thing. They are practically announcing their intention to profit (but trust them, they will oversee the distribution of the money) even as their base is holding out their fancy MAGA hats for scraps.

Look, I’m sounding off because I’m pissed off. You might not agree with me, but if you’re looking at what’s happening and thinking that we’re going to be OK soon, or that the government is working as it should and looking out for its citizens, or that the economy we find ourselves in is functioning and will soon return to “normal”, well then, you’re not too bright, are you?

What’s the solution, you might ask? If you’re asking, it means you’re not informed and haven’t made the effort to be informed. Until you get informed — and I don’t mean listening to your favorite pundit — you not only can’t be a part of the conversation, you should be barred from taking part in the conversation.

Why? Because we’re facing something new, and you want quick fixes at a time when relying on tired political and social and religious tropes is of zero help toward figuring out how we might proceed to a better future.

It’s not a matter of asking for solutions because we don’t have a canned solution or a plan or anything to handle what’s happening. It’s a matter of discussing what we have to do going forward and anyone who claims they have a solution is 100% guaranteed to be peddling a selfish agenda.

Here’s what I think we need right now (or very soon):

1) a frank and honest conversation about the perfect shitstorm we’re facing, most of it of our own making (not casting blame but actually admitting we’ve done fucked up and we’re all to blame). Most people can handle the truth, Nicholson notwithstanding.
2) a frank and honest admission that we’ve not faced this before and hence we need to re-evaluate our normal response and think outside our comfort zone about innovative approaches and not just throwing good money after bad.
3) the willingness to listen to competing ideas, arrive at compromises, and agreeing that whatever we do won’t be written in stone and that we’re going to actively review how things are going and then, without hesitation, dump what doesn’t work while we keep massaging, even if only incrementally, what works with a longterm goal of continuous improvement.

Unfortunately, our political system is geared for short-term gains, and hence why I have little hope anything good will happen until we’re literally at death’s door. Until then, look for continued partisan bickering, ideologically-driven programs favoring some groups to the detriment of other groups, and for widespread misery probably fermenting anger.  

The overall ignorance of a majority of the population with regards to even basic stuff is what scares me most of all. There is a very real chance we’ll see MAGA/ANTIFA goons get more active and more violent — especially if they continue to be stoked by pundits and politicians — and while I hope they would confine their actions to just killing each other off, I fear it could get bad for many people. Scarier yet is what governing entities will do in response to cries from ignorant voters.

I really, really, really, hope I’m massively and terribly wrong about my fears.

Unfortunately, in my 60+ years of life, I’ve seen too much selfishness and greed and partisanship to be overly hopeful or have confidence in the fortitude of the majority of politicians and citizens.

Sorry for the rant, but stuff gets pent up and if I don’t blow it out, it does me harm. If you feel the same, demand more from your elected officials, whatever party they belong to, and be skeptical of easy, simplistic answers. 

Anyway, stay safe, and if — after all that — you rather read three short stories instead of listening to hour-long podcasts, well, then, you should at least make the effort to vote for your favorite HERE.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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