Category: current events

Accepting Loss

Next week is not going to be a fun week for America. It’s sad to say that going into election day, but I don’t see any way around it. No matter who wins next week, 40% of the country is going to be very happy, and 40% of the country is going to be very sad (give or take a few percent). Emotions are so tied up in this election at the moment, and all of that compounds as you add all the other stressors going on in our lives. The economy. Unemployment. Protests. COVID.

I’m worried, and I know I’m not alone in my worrying.

I’m not just worried about how the people who lose are going to take their loss. We’ve seen mass riots over losses and wins in America over things as (let’s face it) inconsequential as professional sports. We’re already living in a reality where citizens have been showing up armed to protest for and against issues. I’m very concerned there will be actual street fights over the results of this election, as sore winners taunt sore losers, and everything spirals into yuck.

While the polls may be indicating a Biden win at the moment, I’m already steeling myself for what might happen if he loses. If that’s the way the cookie crumbles, then it is what it is. I (obviously) have deeply held beliefs about who he is and what he stands for, but if the majority of the nation on election day feels differently (or at least, as far as the electoral college is concerned), then that’s the reality I’m living in, and I have to push forward. It doesn’t mean all the people who agree with me disappear, but it does mean the fight needs to continue.

The thing is, the reverse is also true. Even if Biden wins, that doesn’t make all the Trump supporters magically disappear either. The election might make it easier to deal with some of the issues that have arisen over the last four years, but there will still be plenty of work that needs to be done, and that work will require as many Americans working together as possible.

In other words, whichever way we vote on election day, we’re still Americans, and we still have to face the immediate problems together. I know some Trump supporters believe COVID is overblown, and that all the trouble around it will disappear as soon as the election is over. I disagree, but it would be lovely if you were right. Even if you are, we’ll still have the fallout of the last six months to handle, and we have the best shot of handling that by uniting to face it.

Of course, it’s also very possible that nothing is solved at all by next Wednesday. That we move from this sort of limbo into a new one, where state results and votes are contested, and there’s fighting around “who won” right up through the end of the year. I tend to think that would be even worse, though I also think we need to make sure all votes are counted before we make any definitive statements. (In an ideal world, enough of the votes are in in enough of the states that have already counted for us to already know what’s going to happen, but this is 2020. What are the odds of that actually happening?)

I don’t have any big huge observations to make. I’m worried about next week. Worried about the winners and the losers, regardless of who ends up being in which category. And I’m hoping that if we can all see ourselves as both for a little bit, then we’ll have the compassion needed to get through November and December and however many more months we need to.

Wish us luck.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

History in Perspective

I remember reading in my CS Lewis class about the concept of chronological snobbery. In essence, it’s the tendency to think that people who lived in earlier times weren’t as bright and well informed as we are today. Following this line of thought, it’s easy to believe the mistakes they made people in the past would never be made by people in the present, simply because we’ve come so much further, intellectually speaking.

It’s a hard bias to overcome, but the pandemic is certainly helping me see some of my own shortcomings with it. I remember at the beginning of this whole fiasco, reading all about how terrible Philadelphia did with the Spanish Influenza back in the day. How they ignored the advice of scientists and held a big parade, thereby infecting many more people than they would have otherwise.

What a bunch of boneheads, right? Good thing we got over that tendency in 100 years of progress, I thought.

Fast forward to today, and you read plenty of stories about just that happening now. If you want to play tee ball about it, you don’t have to look any further than Trump actually using “Biden will listen to the scientists” as a reason for people not to vote for Biden. But I’d rather this post not devolve into another litmus test on Trump, so I’ll turn my attention overseas instead. The Czech Republic was a model of a good response to COVID back in March. They instituted a nationwide mask mandate, and they really came together to fight it. Successfully.

But in the intervening months, it appears that national sentiment of unity against the virus disappeared. The desire to keep wearing masks diminished to the point that they’re now mired in the same mask debate that America is in. This despite the fact that they saw firsthand just what masks did for them in March. What’s the result? Their rates are skyrocketing, hospitals are filling up, and they look like they’re right back in the thick of the mess.

People are people. People made mistakes about the pandemic in 1918 for the same reason they’re making mistakes about it now. You deal with anything for a long period of time, and you get tired. Worn out. You just want it over. So it’s no wonder to me now that the second wave of the 1918 influenza was so much worse than the first. Like with COVID, they had their first wave in the spring. They had a respite over the summer, and then when the fall hit, the death rate dwarfed what they’d experienced in the spring. (There was a third wave a few months later, as well. Not as bad as the second, but still much worse than the first.)

People have a tendency to listen to things they want to be true. I want the pandemic to be over as much as anyone, but wanting it to be done doesn’t mean it’s done. This worldwide reluctance to wear a mask properly baffles me, but I suppose it’s due to the fact people don’t want to be uncomfortable, and masks are uncomfortable. So it’s easier to not wear one, or wear one but leave your nose uncovered, or wear a face shield instead of a mask (despite the evidence showing this isn’t nearly as effective). I see all the pictures in my social media feed. I see far fewer masked pictures than unmasked ones. Slews of family get togethers or parties. I would love to go back to that life, but I don’t think we’re anywhere near the place we need to be to do it. For now, I realize that makes me “one of those crazy COVID pessimists” with some. Such is life.

My personal opinion (and I am no scientist) is that back in February and March, there was much, much more COVID out in the places that were doing so badly than we really recognized. So when we look at COVID case rates now (which are much higher than spring) and compare them to the death rates (which are much lower), it’s easy to think “we’ve got this disease conquered. We know how to deal with it.” It’s true that we have a better idea what we can do to diminish the effects, but I think if we saw what the real COVID rates were then and compared them to now, we’d feel much less secure.

I tend to think we’re at halftime. (At least, that’s what I optimistically think at this point.) Some countries had a really good first half, but we’re beginning to see what changes COVID made to its offense and defense (and how our teams have responded). Just because you’re up 35-0 at the half doesn’t mean you’re not going to lose the game. That wasn’t true in 1918, and it’s not true today.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

An Invisible Pandemic?

Look, this post isn’t about denying COVID exists. I’m well aware of that, and my blog posts more than back that up. Rather, it’s about wondering if there’s a national reluctance to admitting when you come down with COVID. I realize this all might be confirmation bias, and that I’m dealing with a very small sample size here, but that’s why I’m writing this post: to try to get a sense beyond my limited daily interactions.

Bluntly put, I personally know 11 people who have come down with COVID. That’s off the top of my head, and I’m probably forgetting some. But of those 11 people, I only know of one whose diagnosis was actually “public,” so that people generally knew he was sick, and he’s over 80. (He has recovered, thankfully.)

If less than 10% of my friends are going public with their COVID bouts, I have to wonder how many more of my friends have had it but not said anything. More importantly, I wonder why. I’m concerned there’s some sort of a perceived COVID stigma, where people are worried they’ll be accused of not following the social distancing rules closely enough, or that they’ll face some sort of blowback in some other way.

I know it’s easy to sort of shrug this effect off. “What does it matter?” Well, I’ve seen the flip side of this: friends who don’t know of anyone who’s had COVID, so it seems like not that big of a deal.

I see a big discrepancy between the way COVID is reported in the news, and the way I see it play out in my actual life, so I can’t really blame others for noting that same discrepancy and even wondering if, as Trump puts it, COVID really isn’t something to be afraid of. “Less deadly than the flu,” and never mind all the experts who have said that’s not the case, and the 210,000 dead Americans who beg to differ. The flu kills around 30,000 or more people each year in the US. I don’t know anyone who’s died of the flu. I don’t know anyone who’s died of COVID, or who’s been affected by it long term, so it’s easy for me to conflate those two illnesses.

True, I live in Maine, and the COVID rates here are very low, so perhaps this is just something unique to my area, and people who live in places with a wider spread are actually talking about it, hearing about it, noticing it, etc. But I have friends and family in areas with higher spread, and I’m certainly not seeing a discussion about it on social media.

Which is part of the problem, I think. I wonder if so many people are just staying silent about it, and that in turn is swaying public opinion of the many who are still going out and about freely in public, unmasked and uncaring.

So I turn to you, my faithful readers. I don’t want to “out” any COVID cases who want to remain anonymous, so please anonymize cases if that’s called for. But how many people do you know who have had COVID? How many have been hospitalized or died? How many are dealing with long term effects? Maybe by talking about actual cases more, we can help convince more people to take it seriously. If we do that, we’ll be through with it all that much more quickly.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

How Will You Vote This Year?

Note I didn’t ask, “Who will you vote for.” Today’s post is all about the actual nuts and bolts about voting. I know there are plenty of people who are doing mail-in ballots. Personally, I will be voting in person. Not because I think mail-in ballots are open to manipulation (I highly doubt that) or because I think there’s no chance of getting COVID from voting in person.

I’ll be voting in person for two basic reasons. First, I already voted in person in the primaries, and I was very impressed with how my local community ran the polls. They were well supervised, and the process was easy and straight forward. I feel like the odds of me personally getting infected with COVID while I’m voting are very, very low. Social distancing measures were implemented, and mask usage was strong. More importantly, there hasn’t been much in the way of COVID cases here in my corner of Maine.

So since I don’t think it’s dangerous, it makes sense to me not to do things differently this year. Note that I could totally see the need to vote by mail if circumstances were different. If the transmission rates were higher, or the voting process was more precarious, or the lines were going to be very long. Basically, because none of this is the case for me, I think it’s that much more important that I vote in person.

This is mainly due to my second reason for voting in person. I believe Trump is going to do his darnedest to claim “victory” if he’s ahead in the results on election night. I think it’s much likelier the absentee votes are going to swing heavily toward Biden, and that Trump will do all he can to claim those votes are fraudulent. I mean, that’s what he’s literally already saying, so I don’t think it’s a huge stretch to think that. (This despite that all claims of “rigged ballots” have been debunked time and time again.)

Because of the odds of Trump doing this, I think it becomes that much more important for those who can safely and confidently vote in person on election day try their hardest to actually do that. Some of this is me just looking at how I can have the greatest positive impact toward solving what I see as a real threat to our country. The best case scenario in November is for Trump to get a real drubbing at the polls. For it to be not even close. (Which has a decent shot of happening at the moment, according to FiveThirtyEight. They estimate Biden has a 3 in 10 shot of winning the popular vote by double digits. They estimate Trump has a 2 in 10 shot of winning the election at all. So it’s likelier at the moment that Biden will have a blowout win than that Trump will come out on top. Though 1 in 5 odds are still far too high for my taste. For reference, FiveThirtyEight gave Trump a 29 out of 100 chance of winning the election back in 2016.)

So if I can vote in person and make Biden’s numbers look as decent as possible on the night of the actual election, you can bet that’s what I’m going to do. I’m not going to actively encourage everyone to follow suit: I think there are too many variables involved in the decision. But I did want to at least mention what I’m doing and why, in case some of you are in the same position I find myself.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Trump, COVID, and Uncertainty

Just last night, before I went to bed, I saw the reports that Hope Hicks had tested positive for COVID. I told Denisa, “Trump’s been with her a lot. If there’s anyone I wish would get COVID, it would be him. Maybe it would change the way he handles the disease, and we could get over this faster.” Note that I had no desire that he get very ill, and I definitely didn’t want the man to die. I just thought (when I made that statement) that perhaps if he actually caught it, then he’d stop downplaying it quite so much.

When I woke up this morning and read the news that he and his wife had, indeed, tested positive, I had a mixture of emotions and thoughts. First, I did feel guilty for having wished the disease on anyone, although I’m 100% confident my passing comment had no sway on what actually happened. (I mean, if it did, then I’d like to officially note that I also wish I’d become a NYT bestselling author and that I’d magically get a billion dollars. If those come true, then I will commence feeling *very* guilty about my wish for Trump. Not the least because it would mean I completely blew one of my three wishes on something as petty as that.) Once I got over that initial reaction, what followed was a whole ton of confusion. If anything, this throws so much of the future into even more chaos. Some potential scenarios running through my mind:

  • The President passes away. I have no idea what happens at that point. Who becomes the Republican candidate? Pence? Is there some sort of last minute grab for power among all Republicans? There are so many unknowns down that path, that I stop even trying to think through them. With Trump’s age and health, he’s certainly at high risk.
  • Trump was on stage with Biden for the debate. What if Biden has it? The same questions come up about him then. In a worst case scenario, you’ve got the Democrats and Republicans both choosing new candidates less than a month before the election, with a million votes already cast.
  • What if Trump stays virtually symptom free and emerges on the other end of COVID more convinced than ever that it’s overblown? What does that do to the response to the virus from everyone else?
  • What if Trump gets seriously ill and is in the hospital throughout the election season. What sort of an effect does that have on the election? Are people more inclined to vote for him out of pity? Less inclined? I have no idea.

I don’t know about you, but I am so tired of uncertainty, and this has done nothing more than pile more uncertainty on top of everything else. If you’re looking for some informed discussion around these topics, FiveThirtyEight has a good post on the implications today, as well as a post about what happens if a nominee is put out of the running before the election (posted back in April.)

I wish Trump and his family and advisors a speedy recovery: the same thing I wish for anyone who has this disease. I also hope this serves as a good reminder to everyone of the importance of wearing a mask, even when you think you don’t need to. Many of Trump’s entourage at the debate declined to wear masks. Trump made fun of Biden for wearing a mask more often than Trump felt was necessary.

If the President can still catch COVID, even with all the testing that’s been done around him constantly, then anyone can get it. Hicks attended the debate Tuesday. She would have been tested along with everyone else there. Trump made a big deal about how everyone in that room was “safe.” And yet someone caught it and spread it to others, and here we are three days later.

There have already been some politicians trying to spin this for their own purposes. I saw one senator tweet about how China had given our President COVID, and we need to hold them responsible. That kind of rhetoric isn’t going to help anything. We have been the masters of our fate in our country since March. What we’ve done with that has been up to us, not some other nation.

Did I wish for a billion dollars up above? Scratch that. I’d actually just love to have a normal world and life back. One where I can do my job, hang out with my friends, and not have to be constantly assaulted with turmoil in the news. Racist attacks. Pandemics. Economical turmoil. Who’d need a billion dollars if they could just have that?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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