Home   Archives   Books   Updates Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Aurora's Nightmare
Pebble Version
Archives
Cast
Extras
Travelogues
Ink
About Me
Books
Links
Forums
Advertise
Contact
Blooper Reel #694 (Strip #2349)
Old News
ROM The Comic
First Comic Previous Comic Next Comic Today's Comic
6/5/2020 Weekend

It's not like weekends mean as much these days as they used to. But this week has been kind of exhausting (mentally more than physically) so I'm hoping for a chance to relax a bit. Unfortunately, this weekend won't really present any new opportunities to get out and do something as this part of Virginia isn't moving into phase 2 re-opening with the rest of the state (I really hate both our governor and local government). But we might be taking a short vacation in the next week or two so that's something to hopefully look forward to.

Other than that, I took my whole COVID-19 series and added it to the Virginia Travelogue. They're not exactly about travel, but related to the area and why I haven't been doing any sightseeing lately. Plus, I spent a ton of time writing them and want them to be easy to fine.

Anyway, have a good weekend. Hopefully by the time it's over, everything will have calmed down a bit.

Josiah



Donation Info
If you like what you see why not toss me a couple bucks to help support the site? You can use the Paypal button on the left or you can drop me an e-mail if you want to use some other method.
The more donations you guys send in the more cool stuff everyone gets during the following month. If total donations for the month are $25 or more you get commentary on a set of twenty of old strips! At both $50 and $75 you'll get two new Timmy Tonka strips! And at $100... Well, you'll see.
There's also the special long term bonus which will come when the mystery goal is reached.


6/3/2020 COVID-19 Part 6

Ok, let's see if I can get this done.

I've already gone over the origins of the virus, how dangerous it is (or isn't), the effectiveness (or non-effectiveness) of many of the measures taken to combat it, and some of the arguments for continuing the lockdowns and such for as long as possible and why they don't hold up. Before moving on to today's topic though, a couple updates since last time...

The idiot British professor who made the wildly inaccurate computer model (like all the other ones in his career) that led to governments worldwide adopting quarantines, lockdowns, and all the rest of these unprecedented measures actually came out and admitted that Sweden ended up getting similar results without all the drastic measures taken elsewhere. He tried to downplay it a little bit by saying that Sweden might still have a spike in the future...but he basically admitted that he, and all the policies he recommended, didn't produce a result any better than Sweden, which was mostly able to maintain normal life and a strong economy.

In other news, the new requirements to wear masks indoors here in Virginia got me doing a bit of research on masks. Especially considering that the CDC can't seem to make up its mind on how helpful they are. It's one thing if you have those medical grade N95 masks, but most people don't so lets focus on the regular disposable masks that most people are wearing. Turns out, there's actually no medical or scientific consensus on the effectiveness of masks when it comes to protecting you or others. The only serious study on the matter that I found actually proved that the masks do very little to stop the transmission of germs, bacteria, and such at close range. With the counter argument being that the study only tested close range, so maybe the masks reduce the range of transmission (or maybe they don't, no one seems to have studied that), and that the tests took place a while ago before COVID-19, so maybe the masks are magically more effective when it comes to this particular virus. So yeah. There's nothing wrong with wearing masks, but they're not necessarily doing much for you or others. To be clear, I have no problem with people wearing masks if they want to, or with businesses requiring them for employees and/or customers (though it annoys be a bit when I'm forced to wear one). But it should be a choice, not a government mandate.

Anyway, on to today's topic. Why, especially after all this time and all the new data (the curve was flattened a while ago, the virus isn't nearly as dangerous are originally thought, etc.), are some people still so invested in maintain strict lockdowns, social distancing, etc.?

Let's start with ordinary people. Quite a lot of people have had enough and want the country the country to open back up, either fully or with various precautions. But there are some who really, really don't. For example, there's the woman I saw on a Facebook discussion about when local schools will be reopening who declared that she wouldn't send her children to school to die. Or, when a local woman was harassed and chased out of a supermarket by another shopper for not wearing a mask (prior to the requirement) because she has a medical condition that prevents her from wearing one. Most of the people talking about it on the local message board were very supportive however, there was a small but very vocal minority attacking the harassed woman and praising her assailant as a hero. If you look on social media or just across the country, there are many more stories like those, some are much worse. Not to mention all the people who say that, even if things reopen, they won't be leaving their home any time soon.
Some of those people are truly, legitimately afraid. And I can't totally blame them. If you listen to much of the mainstream media, and a number of politicians, you'd think that being in the same zip code as someone without a mask will lead to you catching the virus and, if you catch the virus, you're probably gonna die. Totally doesn't line up with the actual facts and data, but that's the story that much of the media and political worlds are pushing (we'll get to their reasons later). Unfortunately, a lot of people don't have the time or drive to look outside of their favorite news source and get the whole story. And, even when presented with the facts, they're often too afraid to accept them.
But that's not the only reason. It's one thing to be scared, but a number of people are self righteously sanctimonious about the whole thing, smugly telling off anyone who dares disagree. This is a little philosophical, but people need meaning in their lives. In the past, most people derived meaning just from the struggle to stay alive but these days, in developed countries, staying alive isn't really a struggle, even for most people in poverty. Other traditional sources of meaning are religion and family. But more and more people are discarding religion, or at least relegating it to a minor portion of their lives, and are in no hurry to start a family. So they look for meaning in other places. For many, their meaning in life comes from supporting a cause (often social and/or political). They're heroically championing the cause of the environment, or some oppressed group, or whatever. Not to say there's anything wrong with causes in general. Some are great, some are bad. But when someone derives much of their meaning in life from a cause, they tend to react very poorly to anything that goes against that cause (regardless of how its presented and whether or not its true). There are a lot of people out there who actually think (and loudly proclaim on social media) that they're heroes, saving lives and even the world by staying home, wearing masks, and social distancing. If you try to tell them that all (or even a little bit) of that wasn't really necessary, they get angry and defensive. It deprives them of meaning and harms their sense of self-worth. This is a trend that's not at all limited to the virus and is the cause of a whole lot of problems in modern society. If you can't deal with conflicting opinions, or even consider the chance that you might be wrong, you really can't function well in society. But that's a whole different topic.
It's also interesting to note that most regular people who are strongly in favor of the lockdowns and such are the ones whose lives were the least disrupted. Sure they may have had to cancel a few social outings, but they're in no danger of losing their job and are sitting quite comfortably in their houses or apartments so they really can't sympathize with the people who lost their jobs and businesses. To them, lockdowns are a small price to pay for safety. After all, they're "saving the world."

There's a line from a favorite fantasy novel of mine. I don't remember the exact quote, but it basically boils down to that people can be made to believe any lie because they either want it to be true, or that they're afraid that it's true. And that's basically the situation here. But what about the people feeding them the lie in the first place? Let's start with the media.
First, the media loves disasters, bad news, and panic. That gets people buying newspapers, watching TV, and clicking on links online. A headline like "Everything is Nice and Peaceful" doesn't get anyone reading or watching the news. A headline like "Apocalyptic Pandemic Could Leave Millions Dead," now that's a money maker. Just like every storm is the storm of the century and every theft or murder is the start of a massive crime wave. It's just normal for the news to blow things out of proportion. And, as previously discussed, China's extreme measures and the bad information coming from them and the WHO didn't help.
But soon it became more than that. Now, I make a point of not getting political on this site but I'm going to have to touch on politics here. That said, I'll try to keep the focus strictly on the facts of this situation and keep my own political opinions to a minimum. Anyway, these days it's really no secret that most of the mainstream media in the US leans towards the left, politically. The only real question is how far left. MSNBC is about as far left as you can go. CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post seem to be competing for the number two slot. And most of the rest are somewhere between them and center left. Don't believe me? It's very obvious if you take a look at their coverage of any sort of politically divisive issue or figure which side they're on. Now, whether or not that's a good thing depends on your own political leanings. I'm not going to get into that here, other than that, while I don't really have a problem with news outlets having a specific political bent, it does bother me when they claim to be neutral but they're clearly not. Anyway, there are a few exceptions. Fox News has the reputation of being far right. It's actually not that clear. Some of its anchors and commentators are solidly on the right, a couple are actually fairly far left, and many are somewhere in between. If you look at the station as a whole these days, it's actually getting close to the center. Talk radio, however, tends to be pretty far right, as are a handful of online news outlets (though most of the biggest ones are far left). Once again, whether any of this is good or bad depends on your political leanings and that's a topic I don't want to get into here. The reason I'm mentioning it is because, these days, politics drive a lot of the news coverage. News outlets and their individual reporters, anchors, commentators, etc. often have a very clear agenda they want to drive with their stories. And it benefits the left if people believe that COVID-19 is extremely dangerous.
Why? Well, because then they can attack President Trump, his team, and Republican politicians in general for not taking things seriously enough, mishandling the situation, caring about money more than lives, etc. For the record, I agree with some of Trump's decisions in regards to COVID-19 and disagree with a lot of them as well. I think Republican and Democrat politicians both made a ton of mistakes. Though I will note that all the states with the highest death tolls and the disastrous and deadly nursing home policies are run by Democrats, which also tend to be the states with the strictest lockdowns, so I think they came off the worse of the two parties in this whole mess.
If you don't believe that much of the COVID-19 news coverage is political, just look at how things have changed in light of the current protests and riots in regards to the death of George Floyd. Now that's a different topic and one I will not discuss on this site. But compare how the media reacted to protests in previous weeks to end lockdowns and re-open businesses. The protestors weren't all practicing proper social distancing. Some of them weren't wearing masks. Those protests were called dangerous and the protestors reckless, foolish, and even murders. Those protests, we were told, would cause a massive spike in COVID-19 cases and result in many lives being lost. On the other hand, the same media outlets and politicians that decried those protests are fully supportive of the George Floyd protests (despite a similar lack of social distancing and masks). I've only heard a couple of voices worrying about these protests and riots causing an increase in COVID-19 cases and those voices have been very muted. It's not like COVID-19 is any less dangerous or infectious than is was a week ago (at least if you listen to the media), but the George Floyd protests are useful for promoting various leftist social and political agendas (once again, whether those agendas are good or bad is another topic and one I'm not getting into here) so the media doesn't want to derail that. The re-opening protests, however, are more in line with the right, politically. So the media freaks out about protests that don't help their cause but completely forgets about the virus when it comes to protests that are in line with their agenda. Once again, trying not to take sides, just pointing out facts.

Finally, there's the politicians. I would assume that a few of them (and a few people in the media, for that matter) are genuinely scared of the virus (see my comments on normal people). Most, however, are trying to use it for political gain. Especially the Democrats. It's no secret that the left really hates President Trump and is desperate to win the upcoming election and kick him out of office. It's also no real secret that, even if you love his policies, Joe Biden himself (the presumptive Democrat nominee) is a terrible candidate that can't seem to get through a single public appearance without shooting himself in the foot somehow. And, love him or hate him, one thing Trump really had going for him was how great the economy was doing prior to COVID-19, with raising wages, record low unemployment across the board, tons of new jobs being created, etc. And a good economy tends to strongly favor the incumbent in a presidential race. Not to mention that Trump has handily beaten every alleged scandal that the Democrats have tried to use to take him down, include the impeachment attempt early this year. COVID-19 provided a new method of attack. First, they accused him of doing too much (his China travel ban). Then, when worry about the virus grew, they accused him of doing too little. Even better, at least for their political fortunes, all the lockdowns and such tanked the economy and created depression levels of unemployment. The kind of conditions that favor a regime change in elections.
But there's a problem. The virus wasn't nearly as deadly as predicted and started burning out relatively quickly so people want the country to re-open. There are top Democrat strategists who have stated in various party meetings that they're worried that, once the country opens up, the economy will quickly rebound, allowing Trump to not only boast about a strong economy, but a miraculous economic recovery, making it far more difficult for Biden in the coming election. Naturally, the Democrats want to prevent that. The longer states stay closed, and the longer people stay afraid of the virus, the slower the eventual recovery will be and the more it'll hurt Trump. Yes a lot of people will get hurt, but that might be worth it to defeat Trump, at least according to some.
And it's not just politicians that believe that way. There was a rather disturbing man on the street video taken in New York City during the early days of COVID-19. People were asked if they would make a hypothetical deal with the devil where the virus would last longer and kill more people but Trump would be guaranteed to lose the next election. Some people said they'd never do that, politics weren't worth sacrificing lives. Quite a lot, however, were in full support of the idea. One man even said that there was no amount of deaths that was too high as long as it meant defeating Trump. Now I'm not going to talk about my political views or who I want to win the election. But I can't imagine actually wishing for people to die just to ensure that my candidate is the victor. Honestly, that's sick. But that's how much some people hate Trump. And if that's the man on the street, just imagine his actual political opponents.
One final aspect of politicians' behaviors, and one that affects both Democrats and Republicans, is public image. With the media whipping up a panic and fully supporting lockdowns and such, any politician that dares to buck the trend will be loudly and repeatedly declared a murderer. Didn't put in enough restrictions? You're killing people! Starting easing restrictions too early? You have blood on your hands! Just look at how the media treated the governor of Florida, despite the fact that Florida has had a fairly low number of COVID-19 deaths despite having a very high elderly population. No one wants that and, for many politicians, staying on the media's good side (or at least avoiding their bad side) is a key factor in any decision.

So there you have it. We have a virus which, due to horrendous mishandling on the part of China and the WHO, wildly inaccurate predictions on the part of various scientists (especially that idiot in the UK), media bias and spectacle, and political gain, was blown far, far out of proportion. Yes it's very contagious and somewhat dangerous to small subset of the population but not all that much more than the flu. And for that we've drastically increased depression, suicides, domestic violence, and starvations. Cost millions of people their jobs, cost many others their businesses and life savings, and quite possibly destroyed some social norms for years to come. That is COVID-19. When people look back on this time years later, it will be quite clear that the "cure" was far worse than the virus ever could have been. I just hope that, at very least, the world learns from this mistake and doesn't repeat it in a couple of years when the next new illness comes around.

Josiah

6/1/2020 This and that

I was hoping to finish my series of COVID-19 posts today, but I had a few assorted web design related tasks to take care of so I don't really have the time. At least not if I want to get a decent night's sleep, which I could really use, so I'll aim for Wednesday instead. While my sleep schedule usually gets a bit off during the summer, it's much worse thanks to all the lockdowns since, not only do I not have work, but there's no classes for Zack, no synagogue, or much of anything else that we really need to stick to a schedule for. While I do enjoy a somewhat loose schedule, this is getting a bit too loose.

Anyway, I'm going to get some rest.

Later!

Josiah


Pokémon and all related images and trademarks are copyrighted by Nintendo, one of my favorite games companies who would certainly never waste their time by trying to sue me. Especially since I'm protected under the Fair Use Rule of the United States Copyright Act of 1976. Aside from that the actual site content is copyrighted by me, Josiah Lebowitz 2003.