- 14th Case
- BOS Agenda
- AVA Floral
- Ukiah Protest
- Testing Crucial
- Farmers' Market
- Goats Mowing
- Covid Survey
- Warfield Theater
- Pet Bolt
- PG&E Program
- Ed Notes
- Yesterday's Catch
- Stock Tipper
- Perverted Capitalism
- Scientific Method
- Predictable Response
- Market Street
- Great Adversary
- Honor Student
- Baseball's Plan
- So Bad
- Bravo Crozier
- Spam Spread
- Wrong Track
- Philo Lumber
- Liberal Pandemic
- Crisis Management
- Marco Radio
SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS are forecast to occur across the region today into Monday. Drier weather is expected mid to late next week. (National Weather Service)
CURRENT COVID-19 STATISTICS FOR MENDOCINO COUNTY as of 5/16/2020 at 9 p.m.:
Total Cases: 14
Total Recovered: 12
Total in Isolation: 2
Total Tests: 2300
Saturday, May 16th, 2020 Update: Mendocino County Health Officer, Dr. Noemi Doohan has confirmed a 14th case of the Coronavirus in Mendocino County. This 14th case is a close contact of a known case from Lake County and does not indicate community spread. The 14th case is a male over the age of 65 in the Ukiah Valley region, is in stable condition, in isolation at home with active public health monitoring, and did not require hospitalization. Mendocino County Public Health has initiated a contact investigation and will be in contact with the Lake County Health Officer. More information will be released Sunday.
“VISIT MENDOCINO” WANTS MENDO TO PAY “Visit Mendocino” To Encourage Visitors To Visit Mendocino While Mendo Tells Visitors To STAY AWAY From Mendocino.
by Mark Scaramella
A report from the Lodging Association’s Business Improvement District (BID) in next Tuesday’s Supervisors agenda packet makes no mention of the significant impact the corona virus is having on Mendocino County’s tourism industry, even though it’s common knowledge that the industry is basically shut down until further notice and the County doesn’t want anybody visiting, much less “promoting” the idea of inviting visitors. Nor does the report mention the County’s recent deferral of the BID tax and transient occupancy (Bed) tax, generously allowing the dormant lodging industry to keep the taxes and fees which the County would turn around and pay for Visit Mendocino.
Why? From the report:
“It is important to note that this report was produced during an unprecedented time in history. At the time of this writing, Mendocino County and the rest of the world are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is uncertain just how much of an effect this pandemic will have for the residents, businesses and economy of Mendocino County. This report is being submitted with no adjustments to the strategic direction, operation or budget due to the pandemic. Adjustments will be made but, not until such time that the pandemic has passed, and the economic damage can be quantified. Respectfully, Marcus Magdaleno, BID Advisory Board Chair”
The report’s silence on the local Lodging Industry’s Problem That Can Not Be Mentioned Now may be related to their hope that nobody will notice that they still want all the “promotional” money they’re accustomed to getting despite the County having gone so far as to post “no visitor services” on the roads entering the County.
The report notes that:
“In FY 2018-2019 the Mendocino County Tax Collector recorded total BID assessments in the amount of $970,404 to provide services, activities and programs on behalf of the District. The Budget contained in this BID Annual Report is based on actual FY 2018-2019 BID assessments. The county matching funds for the same period are $485,202.”
This nearly $500k is separate from the direct funding the County also gives to Visit Mendocino from the transient occupancy tax.
There’s an accompanying item — on the Consent Calendar (!) — to give the tourism promoters almost $1.5 million to encourage people to “visit Mendocino.”
Item 4x) “Approval of Agreement with the Mendocino County Tourism Commission for the Services, Activities, and Programs of the Mendocino County Lodging Business Improvement District (BID) in an Amount Estimated at $1,425,000, for the Term of One Year, Commencing on July 1, 2020 and Expiring on June 30, 2021. Recommended Action: Approve Agreement with the Mendocino County Tourism Commission for the services, activities, and programs of the Mendocino County Lodging Business Improvement District (BID) in an amount estimated at $1,425,000, for the term of one year, commencing on July 1, 2020 and expiring on June 30, 2021; and authorize Chair to sign same.”
We’re used to seeing weird items in the Board’s agenda almost every week. But the level of contradiction and tone-deafness of this one is downright mind-boggling:
• The gall of the industry reps to even ask for all this money now by simply saying they’ll take it and then figure it out later while the County faces major revenue shortfalls.
• The idea that Visit Mendocino wants all this money for themselves to do something in opposition to a Health Officer order and not to the struggling lodging businesses they allegedly “promote.”
• The handing over of large sums — on the CONSENT CALENDAR — to a group which presumably encourages people to violate the Health Officer’s Shelter In Place Order.
• Compounded by the fact that the County apparently intends to hand over money they’ve already told the industry not to send in to the County, digging an even deeper budget hole!
THIS WILL BE A REVEALING TEST of the extent of control and influence the wine/tourism promotion mob has over Official Mendo. Will any of the Supervisors express any skepticism about this incongruous “business/funding as usual” report while the County is actively trying to DIScourage tourism? Will anyone ask why such this outrageous request is even on the agenda, the “consent” agenda for cripe’s sake? If history is any guide they might nitpick it a bit, then blithely hand over the money anyway on some flimsy excuse about the industry’s virus woes — woes that “Visit Mendocino” has chosen not to even address.
ALSO ON TUESDAY’S AGENDA is this misleadingly titled Measure B item:
Item 5k: “Discussion and Possible Action Regarding an Update to the Board of Supervisors from the Mental Health Treatment Act Citizen's Oversight Committee on Progress Since the February 4, 2020 Update. (Sponsor: Mental Health Treatment Act Citizen's Oversight Committee) Recommendation: Accept update from the Mental Health Treatment Act Citizen's Oversight Committee; and provide direction as appropriate.”
Why is that misleading? Because last month, on a split vote, the Measure B committee recommended that $1 million be diverted from the Measure B account to support existing mental health services being provided by Camille Schrader (and others), but there’s no mention of that controversial recommendation in the item’s title. Are they holding off on it? Not likely. Hopefully, former Sheriff Tom Allman will make the case for not raiding the Measure B account.
Item 4d on the Consent Calendar also caught our eye:
4d) “Authorization to Award a Contract to Cupples and Sons Construction, Inc. in the Amount of $1,640,000 for the Administration Center Roof and HVAC Replacement Project Phase 2 at 860 North Bush Street, Ukiah, CA and Authorization for the Facilities and Fleet Division Manager to Act as Project Manager to Approve Change Orders for the Project, Pursuant to Public Contract Code Section 20142.”
This roof replacement is necessary and has been in the works for quite a while. But just a few weeks ago CEO Angelo said she was holding off on all previously approved projects until the budget picture was clearer… Do they need to repair the roof now?
MENDO HAS A NEW RETIREMENT SYSTEM ADMINISTRATOR. The Pension Board has hired a woman named Doris Rentschler to replace James Wilbanks who moved back to his home in Oklahoma last month. The timing is certainly interesting given the challenges the pension system and Ms. Rentschler will face due to the substantial stock market losses recently and in the weeks and months ahead. According to her on-line profile, Ms. Rentschler worked for a long time for the City of Tucson and lately has been assistant retirement administrator in Fresno. (PS. Mr. Wilbanks will continue to be paid consulting fees during the transition to Ms. Rentschler’s tenure.)
SPRING AT AVA HQ
UKIAH BUSINESS OWNERS PROTEST SHELTER IN PLACE RESTRICTIONS AT MENDOCINO COUNTY COURTHOUSE
by Matt LaFever
At noon on Friday, May 15, approximately 25 protestors gathered in front of the Mendocino County Courthouse to voice their opposition to the State of California's Shelter-in-Place restrictions. Waving American flags, participants included local restaurant owners, real estate agents, salon workers, Uber drivers, and concerned citizens.
Gina Baarts, a local salon owner, and KimMarie Richardson, owner of Ukiah’s bar and restaurant The Office, organized the protest. Baarts was one of several protestors representing the interests of the local salon industry. Currently, Baarts said, the only way her industry could do business is to go “to peoples’ houses and go underground.”
When asked what modifications could be made to their practice to maintain the health of customers, Baarts said, “our industry is highly trained for disinfection. We’re a pretty sterile industry to start.” She said besides requiring gloves and masks, “we can’t do our job behind plexiglass.”
Baarts hoped the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology would reconsider their approach: “I think the state board should work with us. They could come into each salon and give them input about what they need to do to open up. They send us fees for our licenses, but won’t send us guidelines to open up.”
Richardson described her restaurant’s revenue significantly decreasing since the beginning of sheltering in place: “Before the shutdowns, we were averaging $2,000-$3,000 per day. Now with curbside pick-up, we’re lucky if we get $200-$300 per day.”
Ukiah’s Slam Dunk Pizza owner Stephanie Dunken said the shelter-in-place restrictions had significantly affected her restaurant’s revenue and feared the effects these shutdowns would have on local businesses. Dunken said the loss of revenue would affect more than just the business “because local businesses sponsor sports teams and school functions.”
Tim Schmadeke, a local Lyft and Uber driver, displayed a large American flag and said he was there protesting to “support local businesses.” He was concerned about seeing Ukiah’s businesses “going under quickly.” Schmadeke acknowledged the importance of things like “social distancing and washing our hands.”
When asked what he would say to those concerned opening up too quickly could lead to a surge in cases, he said, “Those that are in fear, don’t go. Those that don’t believe there should be fear, then come on in. It’s freedom, our unalienable rights as Americans.”'
LYNN DERRICK: “I don't plan on reopening Queenie’s [in Elk] till all my employees can be tested. I also think the responsible thing is for my employees to get tested once a week. I know that testing is finally coming to the coast community. But it is yet to be known how many will be available to residents and how often they will be allowed to be tested."
JOIN US FRIDAY AFTERNOONS at the Boonville Farmers' Market from 4-6 in the parking lot of Disco Ranch.
There's still plenty of time to start your own garden - pick up your plant starts today! You can still get local olive oil, pastured organic meat and eggs, spring veggies and strawberries! Remember to grab a bottle of wine inside. Thanks to all for doing a great job social distancing last week. The market had a much more comfortable flow.
FIRE PREVENTION IN SAN ANSELMO HILLS
TED WILLIAMS’ COVID-19 SURVEY REQUEST
Periodically, polling community sentiment is necessary to confirm alignment between the people and their representation. You are my most valuable news source. Thank you for taking time to provide guidance. I'm elected by the people of the 5th district, but as a Supervisor, I represent the entire county. The final results will be shared.
THANKS TO THE MANY FOLKS who have adopted or are fostering shelter guests as we navigate the county's covid-19 Shelter-in-Place order. There are always new dogs and cats entering the shelter, and this week's Pet of the Week is BOLT, a 2 year old German Shepherd Dog.
Bolt is a handsome and big guy, weighing in at 102 pounds. At the shelter, he's pretty mellow by Shepherd standards. Bolt is easy to walk on leash and didn't jump on anyone during the evaluation! Bolt lived with other dogs, but was uncomfortable with Princess, a very energetic shelter guest, when they met her during his evaluation. A mellow canine friend in his new home might be fine, but Bolt will need to meet potential roommates before his adoption. Bolt doesn't play with toys, and was a little afraid of the tennis ball, so toys may not be his thing.
When a shelter guest spends time in a foster home, they get to hang out in a warm, loving environment, and we get a lot of information that helps their eventual adoption. Of course, fingers are crossed that fostered guests will find permanent homes with their foster guardians. You can see all of our adoptable guests by visiting our website: mendoanimalshelter.com. Call Amy at the Ukiah Shelter at 467-6453 and Adriana or Jennifer at the Ft. Bragg Shelter at 961-2491 / 961- 2526, if you are interested in adopting of fostering. Stay safe!
SAVE MONEY - WITH PG&E'S MEDICAL BASELINE PROGRAM
I got a call from PG&E - they are calling all Villages to let us know about their Medical Baseline Program, which temporarily no longer needs a doctor certification to qualify for (due to the pandemic)!
The Medical Baseline Program, also known as Medical Baseline Allowance, is an assistance program for residential customers who have special energy needs due to qualifying medical conditions (like a medical device that needs to be plugged in, insulin that needs to be refrigerated, etc.). The program includes two different kinds of help:
1) A lower rate on your monthly energy bill
2) Extra notifications in advance of a Public Safety Power Shutoff – And if they don't get a response from the medical Baseline Program member they will actually visit the person's home to see if they need help according to the person I talked to...
For more info and to sign up:
Google “PGE Medical Baseline Program”
Anica Williams, Anderson Valley Village Coordinator
MASKED ELDERLY couple skittered fast away from me when I, unmasked, rounded a corner and there they were early this morning when I was out for my daily aerobic binge. I see this couple all the time. They're two-a-days, morning and then again late afternoon. They were the only two people I saw over the hour I was out this morning. I share their concern, but in that circumstance? The odds for mutual contamination were lottery-long. I wondered what it was like in their house the rest of the day, as they washed their hands on the hour, startled each other when they entered a room to find a strange masked person asleep in the big tv chair. They had to have recognized me as both a fellow Octo and from seeing me all the time. Enter one more affront in the big book of tiny insults.
LATER IN THE MORNING, at the Good Earth Market in Fairfax, covid precautions bordered on prison-visit careful. Hand sanitizer at the door opened manually by a masked kid. The door opener told an unmasked old hippie he couldn't come in. "What kinda paranoid bullshit is this?," the old guy demanded. "The kinda bullshit that keeps us safe," the kid replied, which I thought was pretty right on of the kid as he pried open the entry door for me and the old hippie walked off. Inside everyone was masked, lots of stuff was wrapped, the entire granola section was yellow crime-taped. You told one of two workers what kind you wanted and how much. The exit was through another door. I guess to some people all this seems excessive but Marin has a very low rate of infection. So does Mendo, but Mendo is sparsely populated and fairly remote from the Bay Area counties where rates of infection are relatively high. Simple distancing and masking works.
COVID-19 is much different than the Spanish flu of 1918 in that the '18 pandemic primarily carried off young, healthy people, many of them soldiers, between the ages of 20 to 44. The current pandemic kills mostly the elderly and the unfit. (The fat boys brandishing guns and Confederate flags at Open Up rallies are.... well, unwise, to put it gently.) But 1918 proved that crowding spread the epidemic, distancing and masking beat it. Which makes 1918 San Francisco all the sadder. The City masked and closed down then, at the end of summer, when it appeared the killer flu had disappeared, The City unmasked and opened up, and several thousand more people were carried off. Dr. Fauci and the rest of reliable scientific opinion says Covid-19 is all but certain to hit US again hard this winter.
AS IT IS, and as of Saturday morning, there have been 1,476,226 confirmed cases in the US with almost 90,000 deaths. Extrapolating the math means the killer is out there and on the move. It's clear that we should stay masked and distant for many more months. (And another grim stat of roughly 800,000 expected to be homeless over the summer, according to Dr Brendan O'Flaherty, a professor of economics at Columbia University.) Millions of people are broke and beginning to go hungry, as Congress postures and debates as if it's all just one more Situation for Wolf Blitzer to puzzle out in CNN's Situation Room.
CATCH OF THE DAY, May 16, 2020
JULIAN ARNAS JR., Ukiah. False ID, probation revocation.
MICHAEL ARNOLD, Covelo. Resisting, probation revocation.
TERRY KELLY, Pine Grove/Fort Bragg. Stolen property.
NOLAN LAWSON, Ukiah. Recklessly causing a fire that causes great bodily injury, probation revocation.
TAYAH PARSONS, Talmage. Domestic battery.
FRANCISCO ZAMORA, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
In “Reminiscences of a Stock Operator,’ a biography of Jesse Livermore, he tells the story of a couple of guys who always tried to get stock tips from this guy. He would give them tips and they would act on them and lose their shirt. They kept going to him amazingly and they kept losing. Finally he gave them a tip so bad they lost everything. So they got on the train and headed to West Palm Beach to tell the guy off. When they arrived in the train station, they jumped off the train and looked at each other for support. “Are you ready?” “Absolutely” They started walking again and one of them stopped short, grabbed the other's arm and said “But what if he doesn’t give us any more tips?” Now that’s a Trump supporter.
THE $2.3 TRILLION CARES ACT, the Donald Trump-led rescue package signed into law on March 27th, is a radical rethink of American capitalism. It retains all the cruelties of the free market for those who live and work in the real world, but turns the paper economy into a state protectorate, surrounded by a kind of Trumpian Money Wall that is designed to keep the investor class safe from fear of loss.
This financial economy is a fantasy casino, where the winnings are real but free chips cover the losses. For a rarefied segment of society, failure is being written out of the capitalist bargain.
This is a fresh take on a long-developing dynamic. Dating to the late Eighties, when then-Fed-chief Alan Greenspan slashed interest rates after the 1987 stock-market crash, there’s been an understanding that the government would be there to help Wall Street back on its feet in hard times.
That belief was so strong it had a name: the “Greenspan put.” Bloomberg’s Tim Duy defines the term as “the implied promise that central bankers led by Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan would bail out market participants who indulged in risky behavior.”
The Fed stepped in to flood Wall Street with cash (these are called “liquidity injections”) after a series of messes in the Clinton and Bush years, from the Asian-currency debacle to the collapse of the Long-Term Capital Management hedge fund in the late Nineties to a deflation panic in 2002.
— Matt Taibbi
WHATEVER the political back-and-forth over whether or not the current pandemic was predictable, what was predictable was the bipartisan response to it. The first instinct of the Trump administration, just like the Obama administration before it, was to secure the wealth of the rich through bailouts and special privileges and leave the rest of us to figure things out on our own. Some governors in hard hit states stepped up — mostly late and without adequate resources. It seems that political proximity to the little people was the determinant factor.
— Rob Urie
WHETHER the mask is labeled fascism, democracy, or dictatorship of the proletariat, our great adversary remains the apparatus—the bureaucracy, the police, the military. Not the one facing us across the frontier of the battle lines, which is not so much our enemy as our brothers’ enemy, but the one that calls itself our protector and makes us its slaves. No matter what the circumstances, the worst betrayal will always be to subordinate ourselves to this apparatus and to trample underfoot, in its service, all human values in ourselves and in others.
— Simone Weil
BASEBALL’S PLAN TO REOPEN IS ALL RISK FOR THE PLAYERS
by Dave Zirin
A League of Their Own told us there was no crying in baseball. But no spitting? This is just one of the proposed rules Major League Baseball is putting forward in its plan to restart the season in July amid the coronavirus pandemic. Spitting is to baseball as Gatorade is to basketball: whether masticating tobacco, sunflower seeds, or Big League Chew (for that bubble gum/tobacco feel), when you play baseball, you spit. The barring of expectoration is just one of the cultural changes the league is proposing to keep the spread of the virus at a minimum while still somehow playing an 82-game season. Other ideas being put forward include no more high-fiving anyone on your team, and no more autographs for fans hanging around outside the park. Outside would be the only place a fan could possibly get an autograph, because games would be played in empty stadiums.
The minor league games will almost certainly be canceled, but teams can carry 50 people on a roster, so the top minor leaguers will see action. With all these extra players practicing social distancing, players will be sitting in the stands instead of the dugout, which will be an odd sight indeed. For those 82 games, teams will only play opponents in their division or inter-league opponents within, pardon the expression, spitting distance.
If this plan sounds like a sclerotic facsimile of a legitimate baseball season, it is. If it sounds like a possible health catastrophe waiting to happen, it is. But the fans, desperate for some kind of sports, are ready to see the players risk the virus while franchise owners collect checks a safe distance away. The owners, desperate for their television broadcast payola, are ready to see the players risk the virus. Members of the media, desperate for something to broadcast and hot topics to discuss other than the career of Michael Jordan, are in a full-scale pressure campaign to see the players risk the virus. Many of the players, not willing to burn off a year of their careers, are also ready to risk it all.
It is the players union—and only the union—that is standing up and asking the questions that need to be asked. First and foremost, the owners are proposing the scrapping of the players’ contracts for this season and splitting all revenue with the players 50/50. In March, owners promised that the contracts would be prorated, but now they say that since the stadiums will be empty and they—according to their own word—get 40 percent of their revenue from the live gate, the salaries are unaffordable. This is a big deal, because baseball is the only “uncapped” sport: a sport without a salary cap. The union takes great pride that there aren’t artificial constraints on what players earn and isn’t about to give that up. Union chief Tony Clark told The Athletic that “a system that restricts player pay based on revenues is a salary cap—period.” He said:
“This is not the first salary-cap proposal our union has received. It probably won’t be the last.… That the league is trying to take advantage of a global health crisis to get what they’ve failed to achieve in the past—and to anonymously negotiate through the media for the last several days—suggests they know exactly how this will be received.”
In other words, the 50/50 proposal is, in the words of baseball insider Jeff Passan, “dead on arrival.”
But unlike what is being said by certain top personalities at ESPN, this is not only about salary for the union and many of the players. There is the question of players being sequestered from their families and how that will be handled. There is also—most glaringly—the question of whether not spitting and the other foofaraw being proposed is really enough to keep the virus at bay.
Sean Doolittle, the relief pitcher for the Washington Nationals, certainly doesn’t think so. In a tweet storm on May 11, he outlined the myriad health risks that players will be facing from being in close contact with one another and the long-term health complications that come with the coronavirus. People should read his concerns. They outline the reality of the chances that the financial forces around Major League Baseball are willing to take with the players’ lives.
This entire restarting operation is a leap of faith built on a house of cards. It is difficult to imagine MLB pulling this off without someone getting sick or even dying. People who shrug off those concerns are conspicuously not the people taking all the risk.
It has been interesting to read the letters written about Capt. Brett Crozier’s actions. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has a criterion which I think is safe to apply to those who wrote critically — “A great challenge of life: Knowing enough to think you are right, but not knowing enough to know you are wrong.” As has been pointed out by another writer, commanding officers, don’t “take” their ships into a foreign port for the fun of it. They receive orders to do so.
Two friends and I retired from the Navy with the rank of captain. Collectively, we served the Navy for more than 100 years. Naturally, we took an interest in Crozier’s situation. It is our opinion that the men and women of the USS Theodore Roosevelt were served by an outstanding commanding officer who should still be in command.
Crozier took what he believed was necessary action for the good of the crew. We agree with that action. Further we believe Crozier exemplifies the quality of officer we need to command our ships and care for our sailors, enlisted and officers alike.
We salute him, and say Bravo Zulu.
A TALE OF TWO VIRUSES
by Ted Dace
The lesson of COVID-19 is that nature demands respect. If we continue trying to dominate and commodify nature, we will pay dearly. “Rampant deforestation, uncontrolled expansion of agriculture, intensive farming, mining and infrastructure development, as well as the exploitation of wild species have created a ‘perfect storm’ for the spillover of diseases from wildlife to people.” So says the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Aside from ecosystem destruction freeing up viruses to jump to human hosts, we’re breeding dangerous pathogens by confining farm animals to unsanitary facilities. Instead of giving them the natural ingredients of health – sunlight, fresh air, clean water and nutrient-dense food – industrial agribusiness pumps them full of antibiotics so they can still function as four-legged meat factories despite failing health.
To avoid unleashing more pandemics possibly far deadlier than this one, we must let nature thrive in both the wilds and our farms and stop treating technology as a kind of all-purpose modern savior. But how can we expect this lesson to sink in when our response to the coronavirus, far from letting it take its natural course, is to apply every tool at our disposal to contain and neutralize it?
SARS-CoV-2 is a novel virus. We have no immunity. On top of that, it’s far more contagious than other novel viruses we’ve recently midwifed, such as the SARS virus of 2002 and the MERS virus of 2012. The combination of novelty and high transmissibility means it will continue its march until at least 70% of us have been infected and we gain “herd immunity.” The value of general quarantine is not to prevent infection and save lives but only to slow down the contagion so as to protect medical workers and preserve a functional healthcare system. In the end the virus is going to take its cut regardless of what we do.
But technology, like religion, has an answer for everything. Instead of standing in awe before the merciless power of nature, we simply develop a vaccine. Problem solved! Granted, a vaccine would be great, but we have no reason to believe it will arrive any time soon. Though Ebola appeared in 1976, a vaccine wasn’t ready until last year. We’re still waiting on vaccines for SARS and MERS. In the absence of a vaccine or cure, our only option is to build natural immunity, and that means exposure to the virus. The only thing standing in the way of herd immunity is the fear-driven “herd mentality” that equates social interaction with murder. We are confronted with the false dichotomy of continuing the isolation or sacrificing human lives for profit-making economic activity. Yet the real reason to let the virus run its course is the humble recognition that nature is in command and we must play by its rules.
Has Trump’s slow response to the pandemic actually added to the death toll or merely accelerated the timeline? Depends on whether we apply human logic or nature’s logic. Labeling a portion of the death count “Trump’s death clock,” as in the Times Square electronic billboard, sheds heat without casting light.
The USS Roosevelt was in the news last month for the huge number of its infected crew: 1156 by the last count. Yet we’ve heard nothing about this apparent catastrophe in the last few weeks, which is strange, almost an indicator that the mass media prefer feeding our panic to simply reporting the news. It turns out only one of those sailors died. While this is terrible for that person and his family, it also means 1155 people have developed a degree of immunity and can serve as natural barriers to subsequent transmission. This may not seem like a logical or efficient way of defending against the virus, but then nature is nothing if not messy.
Those of us who regard the reaction to COVID-19 as a form of mass panic or hysteria – much like the anti-Russia hysteria following the 2016 election – are well aware of the impulse to self-censor in these circumstances. The imperative to bow down before the new moralism is visceral. You can feel it in the tightening of your throat before you say something that might turn the herd against you.
Writing for the venerable Anderson Valley Advertiser, Laura Cooskey shares her observations of a social transformation that’s taken place in the 30 years since she moved into her modest house in the wilds of Mendocino, California. No more does anyone give birth at home or sunbathe nude on the sandbar or even go around barefoot. No more is there talk of tripping in the forest. Now the drug of choice is a pharmaceutical, a pill you swallow behind the locked doors of your house.
If you could tell a distant ancestor about your life, you might boast that you travel effortlessly on land and even take to the sky to visit faraway places, that you can hold conversations or watch events at any distance, that all the water you need is available with the turn of a knob and that light and warmth and music are yours at the push of a button. After hearing all this, your forebear might think you’re a visitor from heaven. Indeed, to the unconscious that’s exactly what our techno-paradise is. But there’s a downside. Having come to feel entitled to a long life of comfort and security, more and more we retreat from anything wild, anything that might pop our bubble of perfect safety.
Cooskey went to Facebook to share her thoughts. She pointed out that we can’t get natural resistance to the virus without catching it. Since the size of the viral load upon infection can impact the severity of the disease, we could develop antibodies even from small exposure and mild illness. Since stopping the virus will require widespread immunity, only the vulnerable should avoid exposure at all costs. She added that the virus isn’t nearly as deadly as the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. If we could develop natural immunity to that, why not this?
She was blindsided by the reaction she got from her Facebook friends. “You would think I was promoting genocide.” She says she was accused of being “cruel, malicious, selfish, uncaring, etc.” Why? Because any deviation from the shelter in place order could kill thousands of people. She was told to delete her posts before she had the blood of innocents on her hands.
I suspect the source of this hostility is repressed fear that our technotopia isn’t for real, that our attempt to seal ourselves off from nature is futile. We’ve banked everything on the transformation of nature into a utility servicing our needs and a receptacle for our waste. As our population expands, other species get squeezed out. Yet we never seem to have enough to meet our needs and must continue increasing our share of environmental inputs while spoiling ever more land and ocean. Unwilling to face the possibility that we’re on the wrong track – and that the virus is a direct consequence of this madness – many people seek to silence those brave enough to voice dissent. This also explains much of the hostility toward the new film, Planet of the Humans, which tells us there are no simple techno-fixes to the climate crisis and that ultimately we must consume less and live in accord with nature’s limits.
The real threat isn’t so much the novel coronavirus as the viral belief that our advanced technologies make us the master of nature and not the other way around. Only harsh experience seems to confer immunity to this insidious disease.
(Ted Dace is an independent scholar and regular contributor to the Advertiser. His critique of capitalism and science, ‘Escape from Quantopia,’ was published by Iff Books. He can be reached at email@example.com.)
THE LIBS DID IT!
Thanks to Tom Madden for his excellent letter recently. The coronavirus was probably started by the Liberal Democrats who realized they couldn't impeach President Trump so they colluded with China and said, Come on, let's spread a pandemic over here so it will make Trump look bad because there were several hundred Chinese between December 15 and January 15 who came into Seattle and spread around in the western states causing the problem off the bat, and then 400,000 of them came into the New York. You know what happened there.
But it got away from them and it spread out in Europe also. I wouldn't put this past the Liberal Democrats like Pelosi and Schumer and Schiff one bit. They don't care about human lives as long as they can get Trump out of office. They are that terrible.
So the liberal left is responsible for the pandemic. They probably told China they could have their way with the United States if they make from Trump look bad, and China jumped right on that. I know they would do that. Look at the blue states that will not let go of the lockdown. They want the economy to go down the drain so President Trump looks bad when the election comes. They want the coronavirus to work and wreck the economy and they will not give up their power. Sickening.
God bless Donald Trump.
THANK YOU, MASKED WOMAN.
"The largest peaceful protest in U.S. history was our 2017 Women’s March. Of the 5,246,670 participants nationwide not a single person felt the need to arrive in tactical gear waving an assault rifle. I guess the shelter-at-home protest has more pussies than we did."
The recording of last night's (2020-05-15) Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show on KNYO-LP Fort Bragg and KMEC-LP Ukiah is right here: https://tinyurl.com/KNYO-MOTA-0385
Furthermore, at https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com you'll find a fresh batch of dozens of links to not necessarily radio-useful but nonetheless worthwhile educational items I set aside for you while gathering the show together. Such as:
Here’s radio nutcase Alex Jones played over video of a pizza company’s eerie animatronic giant rat mascot. And you know what? It works. They should hire him, or sponsor him. They’d have to get him to agree not to take his shirt off; that might be the deal-breaker. He likes to take his shirt off, probably because he knows his weirdly inflated beachball-like ribcage and belly is fascinating. What part of your body do you think is interesting enough to call attention to in that way? For me, I’d choose the fantasy-book-frontispiece river-system map of veins on my ankles and inner forearms, as there’s nothing special about my chest, though an x-ray technician once told me I have very long lungs. I said, “Is that good?” She said, “If you like that kinda thing, sure.”
Exercise with Debbie Drake. She sounds just like a woman who used to call me on the radio to talk in the middle 20-oh-ohs, where at one point she was breathing in a funny way. I said, “What are you doing?” She said, “Exercising. In my room.”
Thirty or more years ago I read a science fiction story that I’m almost certain was titled The Boy Who Walked Around the Moons of Jupiter, about an 18 or maybe 20 or 22-year-old boy being interviewed by a technology reporter because he was engaged in a project to early-virtual-reality walk on a treadmill around 3D images of all the then-known moons of Jupiter. At the end, the boy called out to his mother to come in and clean him because he’d wet himself again and couldn’t stop his game without having to start all over. “Mom!” She didn’t come in right away, so he shrieked, “MOM — I’m wet!” This is like that, except real, and the video-game-playing boy doesn’t care that he’s disgracing himself but the mother cares. (If you can find that story for me, the Jupiter one, I’d be obliged. It’s as gone as the song, from the same era, about Samson’s Radio Dogs that I’m starting to wonder if I just dreamed it.) (Another thing but from only like fifteen years ago that I’m having trouble finding is a weird ten-minute video of sexy dangerous or distressed women on paperback book covers computer-morphing from each to the next over music made of OOOoooming sounds and metal squeaking and clanking… it was called Pillow Girl. That’s gone. But in compensation I’ve just learned the Urban Dictionary definition of the term: “A Pillow Girl is a female who puts many pillows on their bed that they don’t sleep with. What a Pillow Girl she is.” I like that and will be saying it occasionally on the radio, where appropriate: What a pillow girl she is. Also it might be a cute thing to say in a baby-talk voice to your pet dog. It doesn’t have to mean anything; dogs go by tone of voice. Who's a pillow girl? You are. You're a pillow girl, yes you are. Yes, you are.
And I just told Juanita I was having trouble finding Pillow Girl. She remembered that it was made by Ronnie Cramer and so went straight to it, though it’s fuzzy and low-resolution compared to the DVD Bob Woelfel brought back from a broadcasting convention and gave to me and I lost, dang. I’m sure you can buy it and other award-winning Ronnie Cramer projects. I don’t have money for that, but you can. Anyway, Pillow Girl. (Click the sound on.)
— Marco McClean, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com