Batsh*t Crazy

“Behind every mask there is a face, and behind that a story.”    Marty Rubin

Off-topic alert: This article is outside the bounds of my usual writing on photography and related travel/photo locations, subjects, technologies, and similar topics. Next month I'll return to more familiar territory.

Masks and wingnuts

In a time of worsening wide-spread COVID-19 pandemic, how in the world did wearing, or not wearing, a mask become an issue to fight over? You'd think we've got enough to fight about, since we manage to polarize ourselves over a whole lot of nuthin' most of the time. My theory: one day a washed-up TV ”reality“ show star with short hands, long ties, and hair spun from yellow monofilament woke up feeling happy, in a good mood, something quite rare for him. Realizing this wouldn't play well with his main audience, he thought of recent events, and settled on one particularly good idea posed by people whose job is to think of such things. This particular idea had been proven in scientific testing to provide reasonable protection from the current Bad Thing. To cure himself of the good mood and make it clear to his legions just how unhappy he continued to be, the fat guy decided to make as much negative noise as possible, bordering on complete condemnation, about this good idea. Taking thumbs to smartphone he spread his new gospel; within minutes the nation became polarized over wearing face masks. This was, of course, championed by Fox “news,” the sole (mis)information source for the fat guy's congregation. As if we don't somehow find enough stuff to separate us into two diametrically opposed camps. You've got to admire the fat guy for knowing his audience, which, of course, reacted just as he anticipated. But you also have to wonder what the hell's wrong with people.

To them, not wearing a mask, even if mainly to protect others, mind you, became a rallying cry on the order of Hillary's emails. In any case, the wingnuts wouldn't wear a mask to save their own lives (uh...). Or of those they claim to love. The other side of that coin, of course, was people who followed the science and felt duty-bound to wear a mask any time they ventured out in public. After all, doing so is cheap, easy, painless for most people, with few and relatively minor negatives (like fogged glasses). There's never been a question about masks being 100% effective in preventing the spread of this virus: They Just Aren't. But they are more than 0% effective, and if the latest advice is followed, to wear two masks and keep them tightly against the face, they DO approach 100% effective. And doing that is still cheap, easy, and painless for most people.

Unclear On The Concept

Wear it, but wear it right: Even people with good intentions can be pretty dumb sometimes. For example, wearing a mask over your mouth but under your nose provides ZERO protection. You might as well strap the mask around your ankle or tape it to your ass. Props to you for the effort, but if you're going to wear the damned thing, don't do it half-way.

Vaccines: The sooner we're all vaccinated against this virus, the sooner its mutations (variants) will become something closer to irrelevant. This assumes it's not too late for that, which may not be a good assumption. When you can get a vaccination, do it, if not for your own sake, then for everyone else's. Family ties provide zero protection. Lots of people who die from complications of COVID-19 get the disease from relatives, people with whom they share DNA.

A higher power won't protect you: It should be obvious by now that whatever god you believe in won't protect you from this virus. Didn't your god give brains to those who became doctors, researchers, and scientists? Didn't that god give them the means to learn and to gather the knowledge they've assembled? You think this god will protect you, but Her vaccines won't?

Zoom Fatigue

Remote learning; working from home; on-line meetings and conferences; presentations via the Internet. Some of these things work out well, while others, not as much. But Zoom, Skype, and the like have become necessities for many of us. The technologies work OK and generally these things are easy to set up and to participate in. But outside of the tech there are people, and once again some show a remarkable lack of awareness, or attention to the details, often resulting in frustration, anger, and sometimes laughs. But people trying to get things done (safely) so they can move on to the next thing don't have time for this often self-inflicted nonsense. So before joining that Zoom meeting or connecting to that local Audubon chapter presentation, make sure you've disabled any filters. And if so instructed by the presenter, turn off your device's microphone. Either that or lock out your yappy little dog or screaming kids or drunk boyfriend during important meetings and presentations. You'll be glad you did.

The More Things Change…

Things are changing rapidly. The science is improving, with new things about the virus being learned every day. Variants have arrived, mutations of the virus that have greater resistance to the current vaccines and are more easily spread, make people sicker, and may become more deadly. Vaccine makers work to produce new versions of their products to tackle these variants. The mutations will continue unabated until many more people are vaccinated against them, and people continue (or, eh hem, begin) to wear masks, keep their distance from others, keep their hands clean, and generally follow guidelines so flouted by the Cult of Fat Guy, who's bald-faced lie about “turning the corner” was one of his more dangerous fabrications. That corner is, in fact, nowhere in sight.

Do the right thing. Be vigilant. Be careful, by which I mean take care not just of yourself, but behave as if your actions effect the lives of others. Because, you know, they do.

February, 2021

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