NYT: That trip to the restroom could be your last

In a Monday New York Times piece entitled Is COVID More Dangerous Than Driving? How Scientists Are Parsing COVID Risks, author Benjamin Mueller attempts to bring some much needed perspective to the amount of risk Americans face from COVID in our new post-pandemalyptic landscape.  The article concedes that doctors, scientists and public health officials haven’t been doing a proper job explaining risk to the rest of us dull-witted folks, so they’re going to lay down the facts in a way that even we can understand.

According to the piece, “an average unvaccinated person 65 and older is roughly as likely to die from an omicron infection as someone is to die from using heroin for 18 months.”  I’ve long suspected that my ten month heroin addiction was mere child’s play compared to the ravages of Omicron, but finally I’ve had it confirmed for me by a real life health official.  Thankfully, I’ve been vaccinated, so there is the peace of mind that comes with that protection, as well as the comfort of knowing I can ride the white horse for another seven months.

A University of Georgia mathematics professor was consulted to provide some overdue insight on how to understand percentages.  The professor provided a useful example for overcoming her elderly mother-in-law’s difficulty grasping ten percent, explaining,  “imagine if, once out of every 10 times she used the restroom in a given day, she died.  ‘Oh, 10% is terrible,’ she recalled her mother-in-law saying.”  No doubt everyone’s felt the cold hand of death on their shoulder from time to time when the urgent need to use the restroom arises.  However, now the poor mother-in-law is trapped in a self-repeating cycle of alerting the grim reaper after every tenth flush of her toilet. 

Another sobering reminder of risk showed “that an average 40-year-old vaccinated over six months ago faced roughly the same chance of being hospitalized after an infection as someone did of dying in a car crash in the course of 170 cross-country road trips.”  Additionally, a “transplant recipient is twice as likely to die from COVID as someone is to die while scaling Mount Everest.”  Well, when these high-falutin, ivory tower eggheads put it like that, the whole picture comes into high res focus.  So, I guess you’re telling me that avoiding that second booster is akin to a daredevil motorcycle rider trying to jump 52 semis?  Got it.

Overdosing heroin junkie, lavatory death chamber, Neal Cassady frequency road tripping fatality, Everest mountain climbing casualty:  Whatever context they’re providing for establishing risk, it seems like the New York Times and their panel of expert consultants is basically just telling us to maintain the present course of being scared shitless all the time, which is pretty much the message they’ve been peddling all along.

Canada declares war on “terror” trucker convoy

The full force and fury of the Maple Leaf is about to strike mightily at Canada’s freedom trucker convoy.  Invoking powers reserved almost exclusively for war time, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared war on the lawless band of 18 wheelers, flatbeds, and reefer trucks occupying the Canadian capital and a handful of other locations around the country.

Apparently the protests were cutting into the country’s bottom line.  Indeed, the freedom truckers are so essential to Canadian commerce that not only were they required to put their health and safety on the line during the early days of the pandemic and move goods around the country and across the border, but they’re still needed to shut up, get back behind the wheel and do as their told, lest they have their livelihoods taken away and their bank accounts frozen.  

“This illegal occupation needs to end … the measure of success will be, can we get our supply chains back? Can we end the disruption to livelihoods of people who rely on trade to the United States?,” Trudeau told reporters.

The nation’s elite political class and the keyboard tapping Zoom crowd can do without the calloused hand, beer gut brigade disrupting their lives in Ottawa.  And if you don’t think the pajama clad power elite is serious, check out their little bulldog, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, as she steps to the mic and tells the people how it’s about to go down.

“First: we are broadening the scope of Canada’s anti-money laundering and terrorist financing rules so that they cover crowdfunding platforms and the payment service providers they use.”

Hold up a second.  There must be some kind of mistake here.  This isn’t the press conference where they announce the takedown of some international drug trafficking cartel or terror financing network.  These are the freedom truckers, dog.   

“Second: the government is issuing an order with immediate effect, under the Emergencies Act, authorizing Canadian financial institutions to temporarily cease providing financial services where the institution suspects that an account is being used to further the illegal blockades and occupations. This order covers both personal and corporate accounts.”

So according to Freeland (ironic name, eh?), if you’re participating in the protests, or providing material aid and comfort to the freedom trucker movement, the commonwealth will come after you like a bone-chilling blast of Alberta Clipper and freeze your bank account.

Apparently the freedom truckers don’t enjoy a lot of popular support in Canada.  Most Canadians disapproved of Trudeau’s handling of the protests and were demanding a resolution.  However, who thought it would be prudent to invoke unprecedented executive powers and suspend civil liberties by equating a peaceful group of protesting truckers to terrorists?  Wouldn’t the thoughtful and compassionate approach be to just drop the mandates and the passports?  Some provinces are already doing so.  But I guess you can’t negotiate with truckers.  All they understand is the iron fist.  Maybe next time there’s a deadly virus outbreak, rather than face down the virus and put their and their family’s health and well-being in jeopardy, maybe the truckers should just stay at home and protect themselves, like their Zoom chattering overlords.

DHS deploys 500 to head off phantom trucker convoy

America breathed a collective sigh of relief this morning after the promised trucker protest convoy never materialized and the Super Bowl and all related activities came off without a hitch.  Thanks to rapid and decisive action by the Department of Homeland Security, the massive convoy of lawless truckers barrelling toward LA was never able to achieve its diabolical plan to disrupt the big game.

According to Reuters, “A reported trucker protest planned to coincide with the Super Bowl appears to be going nowhere, a social media monitoring firm that has been tracking the issue said on Saturday.”

Apparently someone forgot to notify the truckers that this big event was going down.  Although the Department of Homeland Security did its best to try to get the convoy rolling. 

“After media reported on a U.S. Department of Homeland Security memo warning of potential disruption around Sunday’s Super Bowl, there was a notable increase in social media mentions about a convoy of anti-vaccine truckers purportedly planning to descend on Los Angeles,” Reuters reported.

Okay, raise the possibility that a politically hostile U.S. based trucker protest convoy determined to disrupt America’s beloved Super Bowl holiday is on the loose.  Disseminate memo to a credulous media to promote the story and sound the alarm.  Point to resulting increased activity on social media as evidence of a plot in action.  Deploy 500 additional staff to California to head off the angry phantom convoy.  No word yet on how many DHS agents attended the Super Bowl for security reasons.      

Comment from America’s recently radicalized legions of long-haul truckers was not forthcoming as most of them were passed out in front of their televisions, overcome by voluminous consumption of hot wings and frosty cold beverages.

Insider article halts production at Pottermore Publishing

The ancient, rusted printing press at Pottermore Publishing rests covered in cobwebs this morning, and the old inky-fingered typesetter is out looking for other employment following new revelations outlined in Pam Segall’s recent Insider piece “There is no good way to introduce ‘Harry Potter’ to the next generation.” 

Segall, a self-described millennial Potterhead, claims the Harry Potter magic is dead, killed by its creator’s malicious spells transmitted via Twitter in 2020.  Furthermore, according to Segall, J.K. Rowling’s assault on the Potter magic goes back as far as 2018 when the Harry Potter author “liked” a “couple of offensive tweets” cast by other like-minded magic killers.  

In probably one of the more relevant assertions of the piece, Segall says of Rowling, “Her actions disenchanted scores of fans, who have struggled to figure out what to do with their love for the series given the controversy around its creator.”  Meaning some multiple of twenty fans is experiencing the same emotional difficulty and confusion described by Segall in this piece.  

Having not been a millennial Potterhead in the late nineties, but rather a gen-x pothead too old for Harry Potter, it is difficult for me to fully appreciate Segall’s sense of disenchantment and loss.  However, it must be darn near impossible to maintain a sense of magic and possibility when you’re swallowing all that ideological bullshit Segall’s been feasting on.

After bringing up about four or five of Rowling’s inclusivity infractions across all the Harry Potter works, Segall succinctly summarizes how the magic came to be drained from Potterland for Segall and the 20, 40, 80 or so other disenchanted fans.  “In a series that spans thousands of pages and often provides minute details, the thought that Rowling couldn’t spare a few words to mention a character’s race or sexuality already seems preposterous,” Segall writes. 

Indeed it is preposterous.  Because everyone knows that beginning at some fixed date in 2016 or 2017 it became a cultural imperative that every children’s book detail the race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality of each of the book’s characters.  The fact that some books don’t include these details is a colossal failure of imagination.  Everyone knows that for a budding young reader to truly understand what makes characters tick, the author must include the character’s race or sexuality.  Furthermore, it would be ideal if their distribution across the works would reflect the demographics of today’s modern society, even if the story is set in some other time and place, or some altogether made up realm. 

It is Segall’s contention that Rowling’s bigotry has imposed itself on the Harry Potter works, thus releasing all the magic that has enchanted readers for nearly 25 years now.  She calls this “the intrusion of real life” onto the works and concludes, “When we introduce the real world to the Wizarding World, we inherently drain some of its magic.”  Setting aside whether or not Rowling’s tweets and likes are offensive, why is it that we are dragging the real world into the wizarding world again?  It seems to me, again from the perspective of a former pothead and not a Potterhead, that often when you drag the contemporary world into the make believe world, you run the risk of disrupting the illusion.  I don’t know, someone once told me that magic isn’t real, but often I can set aside that reality and enjoy tales of kick ass magic and wizardry anyway. 

By the way, asserting that biological sex is real, and criticizing the phrase “people who menstruate” as a dehumanizing term for women is entirely within the bounds of mainstream thought and opinion.  Among readers of Harry Potter books, there is nothing controversial about Rowling’s remarks and sales of her books reflect it.  Currently, her most recent children’s book ranks #6 on Amazon and the Harry Potter box set ranks #16 in children’s books.

Still Segall writes:  “Some fans treasure their existing copies of the beloved series while refusing to purchase anything new to support Rowling financially. For others, the books lie obscured and discarded, awaiting a fate yet to be determined.”  I’m sure Segall wants this to be true because Segall and a few colleagues and friends feel this way, but this is clearly an example of magical thinking, dragging the world of belief and illusion into the real world.  

Looking forward to a world without Harry Potter, Segall writes, “the best we can hope is that these conversations inspire the next generation to foster fully inclusive magic and create a more perfect version of this fantasy world.”  No doubt this world would be fully embraced by the public if it were as imaginative, entertaining and enchanting as the Harry Potter books.  However, the biggest obstacle facing this hypothetical work would most likely come from critics like Segall and company.  Because they measure out their inclusivity in teaspoons and there is seldom enough of it in any work.  Additionally, given the arbitrary formulation and constantly shifting nature of the inclusivity regulations, there is little doubt that if such a work as Segall describes were to set the reading world on fire, a new group of puritans would emerge to douse the flames.

From the sales of her Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling has donated literally scores of millions of dollars to support research and treatment of multiple sclerosis.  That’s some multiple of 20 million dollars of her own money.  Additionally, she has used her platform to raise money to fight poverty, support children’s welfare and advocate on behalf of victims of domestic abuse.  Segall and company seem unable wrap their heads around that magic, preferring instead to do the work of depriving Rowling of her powers to generate millions for those in need.  I’m sure there’s some villainous character in Harry Potter who tried to steal or otherwise thwart the magic of those who sought to do good, but I wouldn’t know the name of that character because I was too busy taking bong hits and reading detective novels.  Regardless, how does it feel, Segall, to become a villain in one of your formerly beloved Harry Potter books?  There’s a story you can introduce to the next generation.

If the history doesn’t fit, you must stealth edit it

For some of our most respected and revered media institutions, history has become increasingly uncooperative and uncharitable toward the narratives they’re trying to peddle these days.  A number of media outlets are finding it necessary to edit the stories of days gone by to make them more in keeping with the present day.  After all, why update your thinking or try to maintain some semblance of consistency with regard to past events, when you can just go back and change the way you reported or interpreted those events at the time?    

Following a recent Salon article that blasted Senator Tom Cotton for allegedly misleading the public about his service as a U.S. Army Ranger, some media outlets could barely keep up with the stealth editing necessary to make their current reporting more accurate and less hypocritical.  Cotton graduated from Army Ranger training school and earned the honor to wear the Ranger pin, but he never actually served with the unit.  Up until a week ago, it was quite common to refer to these service members as Rangers, but after the Salon attack piece, media outlets had some work to do to change all that.  Newsweek, not wanting to be left out of the media pile-on, used the Salon article to launch an attack of its own on Cotton.  However, Cotton’s staff notified Newsweek that it had referred in 2015 to the first two female graduates of the training program as Rangers.  (So had Congress, by the way.)  Newsweek went back and edited the article, relieving the barrier-breaking female graduates of their Army Ranger status.  Now the publication was free to attack Cotton without appearing to engage in any double standards.  It must have felt pretty liberating to the Newsweek editors to throw two female Army Rangers under the bus just so they could go after a high-profile Senator from the wrong team.   

Indeed, fickle history doesn’t always cooperate when the media sets about attacking a public figure for partisan or ideological reasons.  Back in October, during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the then nominee was attacked by Senator Mazie Hirono for using the term “sexual preference.”  Unbeknownst to nearly everyone on the planet, the term had apparently become “offensive and outdated.”  Despite evidence the term had been in recent common usage by the very same news outlets and journalists who now criticized Barrett, the media rushed to brand the term as offensive.  According to MSNBC producer, Kyle Griffin, “Sexual preference,” a term used by Justice Barrett, is offensive and outdated. The term implies sexuality is a choice. It is not. News organizations should not repeat Justice Barrett’s words without providing that important context.”  Good thing MSNBC provided that impartial and objective context, because the folks over at Merriam-Webster hadn’t seen fit to update the definition of the term until the brou-ha-ha erupted.  The dictionary people quickly edited the term’s definition, doing its part to add legitimacy to the media attacks on Barrett.         

One of the most egregious examples of stealth editing was brought to light last September when it was discovered that the New York Times had quietly memory-holed the core claim of its 1619 Project, the celebrated history series which garnered a Pulitzer Prize for its creator Nikole Hannah-Jones.  Initially, the piece attempted to reframe history in a manner that belied the facts.  When leading historians pointed out these errors of fact, the Times edited the piece without notice, dropping the core claim of the project.  Additionally, as if to assert that the public was suffering from some kind of Mandela Effect delusion, Nikole Hannah-Jones publicly asserted that the project had never made the claim to begin with.  Attempts to rewrite or reframe history for a present and future audience are common.  It’s how history is recorded.  But time travelling in a digital space and changing history in an effort to conceal the fact that you ever misled or misstated facts about history…are you f-ing serious?  It feels like trying to create a simulation within a simulation.  One day journalists and historians may look back on this time as a sort of dark ages, when authors went to such extreme lengths to conceal, alter and meddle with the facts of history, that the true story of what really happened is rendered indiscernible.  In any event, it will probably be one really hot mess for someone to disentangle.

Alex Acosta takes ‘poor judgement’ victory lap over handling of Epstein prosecution

Former Labor Secretary and Florida federal prosecutor, Alex Acosta, released a statement today celebrating a Justice Department Office of Professional Responsibility report detailing his ‘poor judgement’ in the handling of the investigation into child sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein.

In the statement, Acosta claimed vindication by the report’s findings because it failed to conclude that he committed professional misconduct. 

“‘Poor judgement.’  Are there two sweeter sounding words in the English language?” Acosta crowed.  “I welcome their application to me on my handling of this case.  This is a victory for all prosecutors who have ever intervened on behalf of a wealthy and influential perpetrator and secured for them the deal of a lifetime.  From this day forward, let ‘poor judgement’ guide our efforts as we seek to subvert justice on behalf of the rich and powerful.” 

Acosta delivered a scathing rebuke of fellow prosecutors who tried to broaden the investigation and root out additional criminality. 

“‘Willful blindness’ can also be a very effective tool when piecing together a ‘poor judgement’ prosecution.  Ignore the advice of subordinates (I’m looking at you Villafana) who might try to improve your understanding and thereby influence your judgement in a positive way.”

Facing a mountain of criticism from defense attorneys, journalists and the public, Acosta attempted, once and for all, to put the conspiracy speculation to rest.

“To all the critics and conspiracy theorists out there, let’s get one thing straight.  History is replete with men who are called upon to deliver head-scratching incompetence at just the right moment to ensure that other powerful men avoid justice.  That doesn’t mean that a bunch of lawyers conspired to cut a rich guy a sweetheart deal.  It just means that the job required a special kind of pathetic ignoramus with impeccable timing to exercise ‘poor judgement’ in service of supremely important and well-connected individuals.  And if you happen to advance your career and wind up with a coveted presidential cabinet position in spite of your irresponsible stupidity, well that just means somebody saw something special in you.” 

A modest non-endorsement

In an election where there can’t be two losers, once again as in 2016, Americans are faced with the difficult decision of choosing the least objectionable candidate.  This is a decision most voters do not take lightly.  Picking the candidate who will do the least amount of damage to American democracy and our standing in the world could have ramifications for decades to come.  Future generations will look back and with the benefit of hindsight judge our effort to cast aside the least deserving of two exceedingly unworthy candidates.  We cannot let them down.  We cannot let America down.  We must correctly identify the biggest loser and then vote for the other guy.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden possess qualities that in any other time and place would probably prevent them from getting anywhere close to the presidency.  Indeed, both have unsuccessfully sought the job many times.  True, Obama won twice with Biden on the ticket, but Biden’s own efforts to seek the presidency, until recently, have not fared well.  And, yes, after multiple tries, Trump shocked the world and himself in 2016 with his improbable win just days after the Cubs won the World Series for the first time in over a hundred years.  The universe still hasn’t stopped laughing.    

Both Trump and Biden are shit-talking bullshitters of the highest order.  Visitors to Bullshit Mountain may have seen their likenesses carved into its face.  Granted, the excrement doesn’t flow as freely and voluminously out of the mouth of Biden as it once did, but he still has his moments.  Check out his story of being arrested on the streets of Soweto trying to visit an imprisoned Nelson Mandela.  Trump’s shit-talking powers seem to only sharpen with age, as evidenced by the last four years.  On his current trajectory, it’s only a matter of time before he’ll refuse to condemn Satan because the devil has only ever said nice things about him. 

Probably the most remarkable quality about both of these guys is their capacity for colossal self-delusion.  And while it would be extremely satisfying to send both of them packing, one of them is likely going to get the job of running the country for the next four years.  Therefore, we ought to reject the guy who is wholly incapable of putting the interests of the country ahead of his own, and pick the guy who may occasionally think of someone other than himself.  On that count, the choice is clear, Trump needs to go, and the other guy needs to become the next President of the United States of America. 

Old Reporter’s Almanac calling for an autumn of doom

Across the media landscape, reporters everywhere are checking moon phases, consulting star charts, and surveying their teams of expert psychics and prognosticators.  All of their feedback  seems to point to one inevitable conclusion: Americans need to brace for a perfect shitstorm of doom to arrive this autumn and possibly rage through a long dark winter of terror.

How do they know this?  Well the signs are pretty clear to all who are willing to see. The Russians are clearly trying to steal the election again, aided by Donald Trump’s private army of postal service goons.  No matter the outcome of the election, the results will be illegitimate.  And the current pandemic is about to combine forces with our old foe, seasonal influenza, to deliver a one-two knock-out punch to the people of the United States.  

As Tom McCarthy wrote for The Guardian back in July, “Now, four months into the pandemic, with test results delayed, contact tracing scarce, protective equipment dwindling and emergency rooms once again filling, the United States finds itself in a fight for its life…. With flu season on the horizon and Donald Trump demanding that millions of students return to school in the fall – not to mention a presidential election quickly approaching – the country appears at risk of being torn apart.”     

If only McCarthy had known that Trump was about to unleash the full fury of the USPS on American democracy, he might not have been so cautious in his assessment of America’s future.   

As we hurl headlong into the autumn of doom, politicians, the media, and election experts have given just about everyone who needs one a reason to doubt the outcome of the November election.  As Edward-Isaac Dovere of The Atlantic wrote in May, “Nearly three in five Americans don’t have confidence in the honesty of our elections, a February Gallup poll found. Republicans, Democrats, state officials, grandmothers, first-time voters, the politically engaged, the anti-institutionalists—pretty much the only thing they could agree on was their doubts about the integrity of our democracy.”

Wonder where they would’ve gotten that idea?  Didn’t conservative media and Trump’s faithful stooge, Kris Kobach, uncover millions of fraudulent Clinton votes from 2016?  Didn’t the mainstream media and the Mueller investigation find evidence of vote tampering on the part of the Kremlin?  They didn’t?  After politicians and the media get done assaulting the American people with disinformation and conspiracy theories, it’s amazing two in five Americans still have trust in the electoral process.  Better step up your game, media, and come up with more better conspiracies.  Besides, anyone who is not afraid of the truth knows that alien grays inhabiting secret underground military bases deep inside the earth determine the outcome of our elections.

The autumn of doom is nearly upon us and the only thing we have to fear is fear and a tsunami of illness, a fraudulent election, societal unrest, and a tyrant who refuses to relinquish power.  All we need now is for The Old Farmer’s Almanac to predict a devastating hurricane season and an unrelenting polar vortex.

With departure of Bari Weiss and James Bennet, New York Times reaches 84% purity

The product the New York Times is pushing just got a lot more potent.  Long plagued by writers and editors who diluted the Grey Lady’s package with their heterodox perspectives and values of free speech and open debate, the new product boasts, “Now featuring 40% more woke orthodoxy!” 

News that unscrupulous dealers like James Bennet and Bari Weiss were stepping on the NYT’s righteous product caused other newsroom soldiers to demand the pair get got.  Their departure clears the way for greater dopamine inducing stories.  If The Times is only doing 4000 op-eds arguing that Donald Trump is a unique existential threat to the country and the world, now’s the opportunity to push an additional 1000.  

Only this week, the Grey Lady pushed its Covid coverage to new levels of mendacity and deception.  The Times has always taken a particular glee in reporting on Covid deniers who eventually contract the disease and then express regret for their previous position as they lay sick in the hospital.  Recently, they ran the story, Texas Hospital Says Man, 30, Died After Attending a ‘Covid Party.’  According to the article, the man always thought the virus was a hoax, but admitted, “I think I made a mistake,” just before dying.  However, by the fifth paragraph, the reporter, Brian Pietsch, reveals none of the details of the account could be verified. 

So, who cares if the stories are true, if it feels right and fits the predetermined narrative, then it’s fit to print.  Waves of smug satisfaction washing over Times readers, as their ideological notions are affirmed by the paper of record, is the only truth that matters anymore.         

Already reports are emerging of readers collapsing in the streets, New York Times still wedged under their arm, eyes rolled back in ecstasy.  Emergency rooms are seeing an uptick as well.  Not all readers are prepared for this level of purity.  However, most want more.  “Give us the good ones, Grey Lady,” they say.

After exhaustive investigation, media concludes Americans often set off fireworks around July 4th

The results are finally in regarding all those firecrackers you’ve heard popping at night and the colored lights you’ve seen bursting in the evening sky.  A two-week intensive investigation conducted by a number of media outlets has concluded that Americans enjoy setting off fireworks on and around the Independence Day holiday. 

While your average American probably thought some nefarious government plot was afoot, the New York Times and Slate, among others, went digging into this pyrotechnic phenomenon to dispel any conspiracy theories that these news organizations and their Pulitzer Prize winning staff members may have promoted.

To be clear, this is not a government psy-op.  Illegal fireworks traffickers are not trying to destroy communities by flooding the streets with their sparklers, fountains, and smoke bombs.  When dusk settles across America during the days leading up to July 4th, excited children and their slightly inebriated fathers routinely break open the Red, White and Boom box and let the explosive fun begin.

But congratulations to the New York Times for committing the time and resources to discovering how typical Americans celebrate around the holidays.  And a heads up to Slate, those ghosts and goblins scurrying around residential neighborhoods in late October and those giant furry bunny rabbits handing out chocolate eggs in the spring, it’s all on the up and up.