Category Archive 'COVID-19'
28 Dec 2020
Curtis Yarvin (aka Mencius Moldbug) clocked in this morning with his latest emailed rant. This one’s on the Coronavirus and is apparently to be the last that we subscriber readers are encouraged to share, for at least a while.
(Occasional emphasis on the really good lines added by me. JDZ)
2020, the year of everything fake
“The only question left to ask was what would happen after everything familiar collapsed.”
I keep thinking there is some German word, like Schadenfreude or Gemütlichkeit but different, for the inability to take the world you live in seriously. If so, I can’t find it. We live in the future where everything is wrong, but at least you can’t google ideas.
In some worlds, the inability to take the world seriously is a mental disorder. In other worlds, it is normal and universal. And in some, it is a sign of superb mental health.
All of us old sufferers from this old itch, certain as we were, were never quite certain that we didn’t live in that first world. As 2020 ends, there is a certain Schadenfreude in seeing tout le monde heading toward the second—a tragedy, but a hopeful tragedy.
There are probably still people who take the world seriously—or at least, take America seriously. (Since the world still takes America seriously, it’s the same thing.) Even if the tables are starting to turn, we still have a deep moral duty to berate these people. And tables rarely turn—though they often feel like they’re starting to.
2020, for America, was a disaster. For instance, 1/4 of all small businesses are dead. Now, a serious country would try to understand that disaster, the way it understands each and every airplane crash. Who loaded the live oxygen generators into the hull? Why was the passenger permitted to board with her “emotional-support viper?” Read the rest of this entry »
19 Dec 2020
“Each of us has the plague within him; no one, no one on earth is free from it. And I know, too, that we must keep endless watch on ourselves lest in a careless moment we breathe in somebody’s face and fasten the infection on him. What’s natural is the microbe. All the rest—health, integrity, purity (if you like)—is a product of the human will, of a vigilance that must never falter. The good man, the man who infects hardly anyone, is the man who has the fewest lapses of attention. And it needs tremendous will-power, a never ending tension of the mind, to avoid such lapses. Yes, Rieux, it’s a wearying business, being plague-stricken. But it’s still more wearying to refuse to be it. That’s why everybody in the world today looks so tired; everyone is more or less sick of plague. But that is also why some of us, those who want to get the plague out of our systems, feel such desperate weariness, a weariness from which nothing remains to set us free except death.”
—-Albert Camus, The Plague
18 Dec 2020
America’s New Journal of Record:
LONDON—While filming the next Mission Impossible movie, an actor who believes Xenu stacked frozen aliens around volcanoes and then flew Douglas DC-8s over them to drop hydrogen bombs and blow them all to smithereens some 75,000,000 years ago shouted at his crew for not wearing masks and not listening to the science.
“We must listen to the science, do you understand me!?” shouted the man who follows the idea that a space lord alien dude came to Earth, then known as Teegeeack, part of a sector called the Galactic Confederation, and blew up a bunch of his people, which transformed them into thetans. “I’m sick and tired of all the ignorant beliefs going around this set! Come on, man!”
16 Dec 2020
Growing up in a working class provincial small town, I lusted after sophistication, the high end Outside World, and the perqs and privileges of adulthood.
The post-WWII collapse of the Anthracite Mining industry devastated the economy of my native region of Pennsylvania, and my father was forced to buy a membership in the Steamfitters Union and work far from home on construction projects, where work existed, paying 10% of his paycheck for a “Syracuse book,” i.e, permission to work in a different union local’s territory. He typically worked all week in Westchester County, NY and came home for weekends.
During high school, I joined him, and worked construction as a plumber’s helper. Outside work, I had in 9th Grade already adopted the habit of wearing a suit and tie every day. Part of it was simply an expression of my eagerness to be treated as an adult, but it was mostly to separate myself from the ordinary society of lunkheads and idiots my own age and to part company with my earlier reputation as a tough guy and street fighter. I was sick and tired of an endless series of strange kids showing up to challenge me to a fight in order to take over my reputation as top fighter, and one ridiculously dangerous incident woke me up and persuaded me that, sooner or later, somebody would get really hurt, that my current identity and life-style would get me arrested and sent to jail. I decided to make a clean break with all that and to devote my time instead to a reading program of self education.
You might think that a teenage kid going around in a suit-and-tie every day in a tough coal town would get a lot of crap, but my reputation, and in extremis, my ability to both take and to throw a punch were still there, and I only very rarely had any problems.
Apart from my personal reading program, I took advantage of access to NYC in summertime with cash from working in my pocket to make myself familiar with the big bright adult world. I attended jazz concerts at NYC clubs. I ate haute cuisine dinners, and drank French wine, at famous restaurants. I even stayed occasionally, with no actual necessity, overnight in grand hotels. Since I wore glasses and was wearing a suit and tie, my being an adult of drinking age was simply universally accepted, even when I was in early high school.
I did this kind of thing often enough that in a number of prominent NYC venues, the Oyster Bar, Toots Shor’s, and 21, I was recognized by bartenders and presented upon entry with my personal drink.
This kind of thing can backfire. I was just beginning to explore the world of cocktails and was commonly ordering new ones I’d read of by name for the first time. Upon visiting the Oyster Bar, the world’s most convenient watering hole for persons waiting for the next train, I ventured upon my first Pink Gin, made, you must understand, entirely of straight gin with a dash of Angostura bitters. Pink Gins are not a teenage kid’s drink by any means. By comparison, a Dry Martini is like a Shirley Temple. Nonetheless, I gamely choked it down, tipped the elderly Chinese barman and left. Well, he remembered me, and the next time I stopped in, a large Pink Gin was in front of me in the proverbial NY minute. Every time I came in, I got a big greeting, a wide smile, and a great big straight up Pink Gin double. I was flattered by the recognition and I simply didn’t have the heart to disappoint him by changing my drink. Over time, I got enough practice choking them down that I gradually acquired the taste.
All this reminiscing has been inspired by the very sad news that 21 is going to be closing down early next year. Like the long gone Toots Shor’s, 21 has always been one of all mankind’s little homes away from home, a Clean, Well-Lighted Place, where a warm welcome, a good meal, and a perfect Martini await.
As a teenage kid, I found 21 pretty darn expensive, but the management’s knowing my name, the hearty greeting, and the general atmosphere struck me as actually worth the price of admission. At 21, you were a member of the family. I really don’t know anywhere that made a better hamburger or mixed a better drink. NYC will just not be the same NYC without 21. What a sad, sad time we’ve lived to see!
Michael Kaplan, in the Post, writes:
With high-priced imbibing currently on hold at ‘21,’ (the current owners) have done the sensible thing.
“We’re suspending our lunch this year,” said the author. Then his voice turned hopeful as he echoed a Christmas wish of many a New Yorker: “Maybe ‘21’ will reopen in 2021 and we’ll be there next Christmas.”
24 Oct 2020
No social distancing, no masks, no screens, no kids, no women, just well dressed men having a drink and a smoke after work.
A perfect Friday night.
23 Oct 2020
Paul Krugman, in the New York Times (which has replaced Mad Magazine in the humor section these days), inquires loudly: “How Many Americans Will Ayn Rand Kill?”
Even as New York contained its pandemic, however, the coronavirus surged out of control in other parts of the country. There was a deadly summer spike in much of the Sunbelt. And right now the virus is running wild in much of the Midwest; in particular, the most dangerous places in America may be the Dakotas. …
[W]hy does this keep happening? Why does America keep making the same mistakes?
Donald Trumpâ€™s disastrous leadership is, of course, an important factor. But I also blame Ayn Rand â€” or, more generally, libertarianism gone bad, a misunderstanding of what freedom is all about.
If you look at what Republican politicians are saying as the pandemic rips through their states, you see a lot of science denial. Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, has gone full Trump â€” questioning the usefulness of masks and encouraging potential super-spreader events. (The Sturgis motorcycle rally, which drew almost a half-million bikers to her state, may have played a key role in setting off the viral surge.)
But you also see a lot of libertarian rhetoric â€” a lot of talk about â€œfreedomâ€ and â€œpersonal responsibility.â€ Even politicians willing to say that people should cover their faces and avoid indoor gatherings refuse to use their power to impose rules to that effect, insisting that it should be a matter of individual choice.
Which is nonsense.
Personally, I’m hoping she knocks off all the looters and all the moochers, starting with Paul Krugman.