Scarier Than Covid

Humans are built to worry.  It’s in our DNA.  It’s why we became the dominant species on this planet — and not lunch.  When you’re the slowest, skinniest, weakest predator in the food chain, you need to develop some skills. One of the most important is anticipating danger.  It’s looking into the nice, warm cave and imagining the badass beastie who might be in there, just waiting for an unsuspecting Cro-Magnon Happy Meal to come along.  To be wary of the unknown is to be human.  So when an invisible little bug comes wheelin’ out of (dare I say it?) China and starts killing people, our natural tendency is to say “OMG!  Is it going to get me?”  Good question, but remember: as terrible as Covid is, it’s a temporary pain in the ass.  There are other things in this world that are a lot more permanent — and a lot scarier.  And if we don’t watch out, they WILL get us.  Here are just a few examples.

1 — Record Keeping – Back in the day, when anyone wanted to preserve knowledge, they carved it into a stone.  We literally have tons of examples that are thousands of years old: Hammurabi’s Code, the Rosetta Stone, the Pyramids.  They are all still there for anyone to see.  These days, however, when we want to keep important stuff safe, we rely on digital dots that head off into … I don’t know where.  However, I do know (wherever they go) some adolescent hacker with a grievance can go get them.  Not only that, but if he’s pissed off enough, he can do terrible things to them – with his telephone.  Personally, I’m scared stupid that my medical records, criminal records, bank history, driving history, Amazon account, credit cards, PIN number and library card are all at the mercy of a teenager with a grudge.  Swear at some kid on the subway and you could end up a bankrupt sex offender with a scheduled colonoscopy, outstanding warrants and overdue books.

2 — Lawyers – I can’t even write anything here because I’m scared some bloodsucking lawyer will take offence and sue the pants off me.  (Disclaimer: This is a general comment and not directed at any particular bloodsucking lawyer, living or dead.)

3 — Fraidy-cat Feminism – Nope, I’m not going to go there, either.

4 — The Cyber Mob – There’s a social media lynch mob out there just waiting for somebody – anybody — to step out of line, and there’s no law against them coming after me.

5 — University Students – Young people are supposed to be outrageous.  They’re supposed to say and do things that rankle the rest of us.  They’re supposed to talk about stuff that stodgy old buggers like me shy away from.  It’s their job because that’s where new ideas come from.  So, it scares the hell out of me when I hear undergrads demanding “trigger warnings” to alert them to the imminent danger of — words.  That’s right: we’ve raised an entire generation who are afraid of words.  “Careful, kids — or the nouns’ll get ya!”  It’s impossible to overestimate how dangerous this is.  University students should be on the frontline of our war against ignorance.  They’re supposed to take intellectual risks, not cower in a “safe space,” clutching their “anxiety puppies.”  These are the folks who are destined to deal with the problems of the 21st century.  How?  They can’t even hear the names without getting PTSD.  And BTW, calling them “snowflakes” is demeaning to the survival skills of snow.

And finally, the root of all anxiety in the world:

6 — Politically Correct – This new religion of the intellectually lazy has evangelized the entire world, and those who refused to convert have been slapped into silence. (See item #4.)  It has created so many sacred cows that our conversations are starving to death.  Think about it!  How many topics do you avoid just because it’s easier that way?  How many subjects are verboten?  How many times have you thought twice about expressing an opinion?  It’s getting to the point where we can’t even talk about the weather without some “woke warrior” lecturing us on the evils of climate change.  And the scariest thing about it is there’s never going to be a vaccine available to kill this viral stupidity.

 Now, that’s frightening!

Macho News

Well, here we are — still locked in a struggle with … Okay, let’s not bore each other with the details.  None of us can escape Doom Scrolling these days.   Personally, I find the numbers have gotten so big I quit trying to comprehend them — back in September.  However, I’m still planning the party for when we finally strangle the life out of this wicked little virus.  And the first toast is going to go to anyone in the medical profession.

But, despite our current global predicament, apparently no invisible bug can put a stop to macho, that strange phenom that turns normally reasonable people into WWE wrestlers.  But in the real world, they’re half as comical and twice as crazy.  Here are a couple of examples from the current news feed.

1 – For some unknown reason, they’re shooting at each other in some place I can’t pronounce in Central Asia.  Call me a cynic, but when Google’s Auto-correct can’t even find the place, there can’t be that much there to fight over.  Folks, look around you!  The world has problems, and who owns which bit of real estate 100 kilometres south of Tbilisi isn’t one of them.  Mother Nature is killing enough people on her own these days.  You don’t need to add to the carnage!

2 — There are a couple of games of “You-did-not/I-did-so” going on.
The American media reported somebody (read “the Israelis”) killed Al-Qaeda’s #2 man in Tehran.  The Iranians are saying, “No, they didn’t.” But, strangely enough, Abu – uh – (I don’t actually care what his name is) hasn’t showed up for his Suicide Bomber classes since August.  (You decide!)
Meanwhile, allegedly, the Chinese military used microwaves to literally cook the Indian army out of a disputed border area in the Himalayas.  The Indian government says, “No, they didn’t.”  But, given what we’ve recently discovered about Chinese culinary traditions, I wouldn’t be too quick to poo-poo the idea.

3 — In America, they’ve whipped out the lawyers to keep fighting the presidential election that was over several Tuesdays ago.  I’m not surprised: litigation is as American as baseball.  But given the various and sundry lawsuits circling the White House, this is rapidly turning into a 21st century rendition of Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First?”

And finally:

4 — The folks at Big Pharma are acting like a bunch of schoolboys.  First of all, last week, Pfizer and BioNTech announced their Covid-19 vaccine was 90% effective.  Right after that, Moderna said “Oh, yeah?  Well, our vaccine is 95% effective!”  Then, right after that, Pfizer and BioNTech told everybody their vaccine was 95% effective, too, with no measurable side effects.  Not to be outdone, this week, the researchers at Oxford jumped into the fray and said their vaccine was almost 100% effective for old people.

Hey!  Just stop it!  Instead of dickin’ around, playing my-vaccine-can-beat-up-your-vaccine, how about getting it on the market?   There are 7.8 billion people on this planet who’ve been holding their breath since March, waiting on you.  I mean, thanks and all that, but really!

Pigeons And The “New Normal”

These days, everybody and his sister is yipping about “The New Normal” as if it were as inevitable as death and taxes.  The predictions run the gambit from “We’re all screwed!” to “The light at the end of the tunnel is utopia calling.”  Okay, we’re never going back to pre-Covid, but, I’m tellin’ you for a fact, our world’s “old normal” has just way too much in-your-face ego to give up without a fight.  We walk this planet with the swagger of a samurai gunfighter with a chip on his shoulder.  We do as we please, and no wiggly little bug is going to change that.  Even as we speak, Big Pharma is callin’ Covid out to finish this fight in the laboratory, and take a wild guess who’s going to win?  Boot Hill is full of tough little bastard diseases (cholera, typhus, bubonic plague) who thought they could ambush us and come out on top.  Wrong!  So, yeah, things are going to change but not that much — and I can prove it.

Next week, in the middle of the worst crisis in human history, there’s going to be an auction at Versailles.  You remember Versailles, Louis XIV’s 700-room testimonial to the success and excess of 17th century French culture?  One of the items up for sale is a shoe (one shoe, not a pair) and the reserve bid is 10,000 Euros.  For a shoe?  Okay, it’s Marie Antoinette’s shoe … but there’s only one, and it isn’t even signed.  At least when Michael Jordan sells his shoes, he signs them — and they come in pairs.  Anyway, Jean-Pierre Osenat, the guy running the auction, is confident the shoe will sell for a lot more than the opening bid.  In other words, crisis or no, our world still has the time and money to pay exorbitant amounts for second-hand clothing.  But this isn’t even special because …

Last week, the Pipa Auction House of Belgium also had a sale.  It went quite well.  In fact, they set a record.  Somebody paid 2.4 million dollars for … a pigeon.  WTF?  To be fair, “New Kim” isn’t your average poop-on-a-park-bench pigeon; she’s a pedigreed racing pigeon.  Apparently, there’s a difference.  Now, I don’t know anything about pigeon racing, but I do know how much 2.4 million dollars is, and for that kind of money, this little bird better be one kick-ass fast pigeon!  She better be Usain Bolt strapped to an F-14 turbocharged Tomcat — cuz if she doesn’t come with a sonic boom, somebody just got robbed.  People don’t pay that kind of money for a Lamborghini, for God sake — and that’s 0-to-60 in 3 seconds!  Besides, where’s the prestige?  Pigeon racing?  It’s not exactly the Sport of Kings.  Hobby of the Urban Geek maybe, but …

“Hey, baby!  Wanna come back to my place and I’ll show you my pigeon?  It’s a really fast one.”

Not the greatest pickup line in the world.  I guess pigeon owners are just dedicated to the “sport,” and they don’t care what ordinary people do (kinda like Hula Hoop enthusiasts.)  But whichever way you cut that sausage, 2.4 million is a lot of money.

So here we are — elbow deep in what everybody’s calling “The Second Wave” — (Holy hell!  Is there going to be a third one?) and somebody out there is about to plunk down serious coin for a worn out bit of footwear.  Not only that, but somebody else has already paid seven figures for less than 7 pounds (3 kilos) of poultry.

I don’t know about you, but this “new normal” looks suspiciously like the “old normal” to me.