I’m sitting here on Bill’s 58th birthday, reading the headlines that flash across the computer screen, along with the comments that go with them. Once again, I’m tempted to join the conversation with a comment, but I just know it will only end in an unpleasant interaction with some stranger. So, since I don’t have time or patience for such nonsense, I will just say these things here. You can agree or disagree with me. You can leave me a comment. If you’re a new commenter or using a new account, I will have to approve it. Any shitty comments will be deleted.
- I just read a headline– haven’t gotten to reading the article yet– about how Cyprus has now reintroduced indoor masking because of “surging” COVID numbers. Fines will be about $305 for those who don’t comply. The comments are full of the usual preachers about how excellent face masks are at containing sickness. And, if they are worn properly, they probably are very useful in some settings. One person posted this comment:
I want to tell this person that in Germany, FFP2 masks were required in indoor spaces for many months. FFP2s are akin to N95s. They are hot, thick, and uncomfortable. Guess what. COVID was, and still is, still spreading in Germany. Face masks aren’t a panacea, especially since few people wear them properly, or change them as regularly as they should. And no matter what, you’re not going to get a N95 mask or FFP2 on every face. As we know, some people will just flat out refuse to do it. There’s nothing you can do about it, sport.
It’s not that I don’t think COVID is scary or dangerous. I know it is, and have been saying so from the get go. I just don’t think that perpetual face mask wearing is going to stop the virus. It hasn’t so far, even in places where heavy, “high quality”, face mask wearing is imposed. Face masks went away in most venues in Germany back in April, but they’ll probably be forced on us again in the fall. And people will still get sick, just as they are getting sick right now.
The local health minister thinks we need to use masks like we’d use snow tires (which sadly, are becoming less necessary in Germany as the climate changes). What that will mean is that I won’t go to places that require them. That means I won’t spend as much money. I probably won’t be alone in that decision. Instead, I will just go to places where COVID rules are less onerous. I’m not the only one who feels this way.
A few days ago, I read a very interesting opinion piece on The Local: Germany by a guy who has experienced riding the train from Liege, Belgium, where masking on trains isn’t necessary, to Cologne, Germany, where they are required. As soon as the train goes over the German border, the train staff comes around and forces everyone to put on a mask. Like me, he thinks this is bullshit, as everyone was happily maskless until they went over the border, and masking isn’t required if one is eating and drinking. But here, you’re liable to be reprimanded if you “take advantage” of eating and drinking in order to shirk wearing a mask. It’s ridiculous, and it makes no sense whatsoever. Either make people wear masks all the time, or just dispense with the fucking things! And if you make people wear them the whole time, be prepared for more people opting to drive!
Below are the first two paragraphs from the op-ed by columnist Brian Melican. I can practically see and hear this scenario:
If you’ve always dreamt of being able to travel in time, there’s now a surprisingly easy way to do it: just take the ICE from Brussels to Cologne. When you get on at Midi station, things are just like they were in Germany in July 2019: friendly guards greet passengers at the doors and, soon after departure, someone from the BordBistro comes through to first class with a tray of coffee; the weather is fine, the train is punctual, and everyone is beaming ear to ear. You can see they are, of course, because they’re not wearing masks.
Then, in one of the tunnels between Liège and Aachen, we speed into July 2022 Germany: “Meine Damen und Herren…” The jarring announcement tells passengers in four languages – and in no uncertain terms – that they have to wear a medical face-mask on public transport in Germany; they may remove it to eat and drink, but must not overextend the break, and must make sure that it always covers both their mouth and their nose; any deviation from this rule will result in them being removed from the train. Suddenly, the guards and waiters reappear – and this time, they’re not smiling…
He continues pointing out the irrationality:
Okay, so this may not be genuine time travel, but it’s certainly a good piece of absurdist theatre and, what is more, a graphic example of just how dysfunctional the German approach to dealing with Covid has become. It’s not that Germany is the only country with an irrational fear of people catching corona on trains and buses (but not, say, in pubs, gyms, or shops): in the UK, France, and Belgium, public transport was one of the last non-clinical settings in which masks were still required; in Sweden, trains were the only one in which they were officially recommended. Yet, everywhere else, common sense eventually prevailed.
In Germany, meanwhile, the world’s largest beer festival and proverbial germ-den, the Oktoberfest, will be returning on 17th September, from when each of the 16 largest tents will be welcoming up to 10,000 guests belting out Schlager (and virus particles) from 11am to 11pm daily for two weeks straight. It will, however, still be illegal to take the underground to the festival site without wearing a mask.
Lately, I’ve been complaining a lot about obnoxious right wingers. The COVID issue shows us that people on the left can be just as insufferable about pushing their views. But you can’t talk to these folks about this, because they’ll just tell you you’re “wrong”, or accuse you of being an antisocial monster, “laugh” at you, and assume you’re a far right winger who doesn’t know anything. I actually do know something about this, though… probably more than a lot of people do, because I have an actual master’s degree from an accredited public health program and professional background in public health, rather than an “education” from the Google School of Public Health. 😉
I notice that the few comments on this editorial are the usual tripe about how we should be doing “everything possible” to stop COVID. I just want to say that it’s probably a lost cause at this point. And, more good news… thanks to global warming, there are billions of other microbes that have been trapped in the tundra for thousands of years, just waiting to escape their “icy prisons” and potentially unleash more disease and death on earthlings. In other words, we probably ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Which isn’t to say that I don’t think we should do what we can to prevent disaster, if we can. It’s that I don’t think masks are going to be the magic bullet, and we need something better. Making people wear masks as they travel over an international border, when they haven’t been wearing them before that point, is just nonsensical bullshit posturing. It’s absurd, and serves no useful purpose.
Frankly, if I die of COVID, so much the better. I’m pretty sick of this life, anyway, and reading daily about the awful shit happening on planet Earth. From mass shootings to sickening politicians and even sicker policies that seek to take freedom from others, I’ve had enough of this bullshit. And I’ve also had enough of most people. Sorry… I did mention in other posts that I suffer from depression, right? Maybe I am antisocial. Anyway, on to the next point…
2. Last night, I was in the Exploring Virginia Facebook group, and someone shared some lovely photos of my mom’s alma mater, the former Southern Seminary Junior College in Buena Vista, Virginia. Southern Seminary, or “Sem” as it was called back in the day, is now Southern Virginia University, and it’s run by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I actually used to know the wife of one of the Mormon businessmen who bought the school as it was foundering in the 90s.
When I was a high school senior, I toured Sem, and I really liked it. In their pre-LDS days, they had a fantastic horse program, and back then, I was all about horses. But it was a two year school, expensive, and all women… I probably would have done well there. My mom had a full scholarship, because she played piano for the glee club. She was also a “townie”, so she lived with her parents as she attended.
For a lot of reasons, I was kind of sad to see the school taken over by Mormons, mainly because the religion has infiltrated the culture of the city of Buena Vista, which was previously a cute town full of protestants of Scots-Irish-English stock. I’ve softened up on the Mormons lately, though… even if I still don’t like Mormonism, and never will. Still, I had to chuckle when someone wrote:
Sorry ladies. You won’t be drinking any iced sweet tea at SVU. Mormons don’t drink iced tea. They don’t drink hot tea, coffee, or alcohol, either. They also don’t smoke, but a lot of them do wear special underwear. I was tempted to point that out last night, but decided not to, because I didn’t want to be an asshole. I did just now add that they’d be more likely to get a glass of lemonade, and added a little wink. Sorry, I just had to do it. 😉
Just wanted to say those two things, so thank you for indulging me… It occurs to me, just now, that both of these issues relate to people drinking when or what they “shouldn’t”. No excessive drinking to circumvent mask mandates in Germany (or Cyprus), and no drinking iced tea or any other “illegal beverage” at a LDS run university.
It IS Bill’s birthday. I probably should cook for him. But we didn’t plan for that… Maybe after I do my usual Thursday vacuuming, I’ll see if there’s something I can throw together for him. Or maybe not. He’s got a hot date with his Jungian therapist tonight, anyway. I’m sure they’ll talk about subjects that are deeper than this post.