COVID, Continued

Today could be the day I get COVID-19 and die.

But if it isn’t, it will be yet another day in which I ignored every single piece of medical advice handed out on “CNN Plus” and suffered no penalties as a result. Of course, the whole staff of Riverside Green is fully quad-boosted, but let’s just imagine for the sake of discussion that I never allowed Pfizer or Moderna to inject me with an experimental drug. The vast majority of my vaxxed co-workers have gotten COVID; a few of them have gotten it more than once. The more they get the vaxx, the more they seem to get COVID. Most of my triple-vaxxed friends have gotten it as well.

My son and I traveled across the country several times over the past few years. Other than skipping a few international flights because the borders were closed, I never stopped traveling; hell, I was literally staying in New York’s Chinatown when the first panicked “stay home” demands were made, and I’ve returned to NYC a few times since. I attended a zillion “super-spreader” events, stood in lift lines from West Virginia to NorCal. Never got it. My kid never got it. My wife never got it.

All of this, despite the fact that I am so susceptible to pneumonia that I have almost died from it twice. I once literally dragged myself out of a hospital against medical advice with nine fractured bones and a burned-out spleen just because I thought I was starting to get pneumonia symptoms. I am terrified of pneumonia and do not think I am in any way immune to diseases of any sort.

I’m not saying I’m smarter than anyone else. I am saying that the iceberg bulk of what has been said, written, and propagandized about COVID-19 is provably wrong. But why listen to me, when you could listen to an actual data scientist who thinks the same thing?

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My Morlock Guide To Management, Very Quickly

As some of you no doubt know, and one correspondent has already told me, Scott Locklin has a new blog entry on what he calls “complification”, illustrated by this amusing-to-nerds example:

Yale for example: more administrators than undergraduates. This is ridiculous; Yale students would be better off if they hired each undergraduate a PhD educated personal tutor and a maid/servant, and it would be cheaper. There is a Yale administrator event horizon at which the mass of administrators at Yale within the confines of the Yale campus will form a black hole from which light cannot escape. If current trends continue, this will happen by the year 3622.

Being Locklin, of course, he goes on to do the math and show his work on it. The remainder of the blogpost consists of a terrifying journey through the shared library crisis, in which I once again find myself accidentally aligned with a brilliant man; for most of my life in tech I busted my hump to make sure I compiled stuff with static binaries, even if it cost more time and resources. I didn’t have a genuine philosophy behind it, as Scott does. Rather, I was just trying to make more money. Shared libraries always resulted in me doing more work after the fact, and since I generally charged flat fees for programming gigs, I didn’t have any interest in doing more work.

That notion of productive laziness, as exemplified in the greatest book ever written, has defined my life for the better part of twenty-two years. I’d like to briefly explain how my “Morlock Philosophy” works, just for fun and as a response/amplification of the points made in Locklin’s post.

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The Most Subversive Thing You’ll Ever Watch On Amazon Prime

If you ever visit my house… well, let me know first, I’d hate for you to accidentally be injured by the various “Home Alone” prank gadgets I have stored around the place, alright? Assuming you make it past all that stuff, however, you’ll notice that I don’t have a television on the ground floor. The only TV I personally own is in front of my elliptical machine, because I’m too old and feeble now to continue my old habit of reading while I exercise. Fifteen years ago, I could run a consistent 165 heart rate and hold a book in one hand. Now my eyeballs and hands shake when I do it. So instead I turn on the screen. Otherwise, I don’t watch television for pleasure or recreation. It does not interest me.

That being said, I’ve seen a fair amount of “free TV” lately, thanks to a lot of cheap-hotel travel and Danger Girl’s decision to watch “Yellowstone” on the ad-supported Peacock Channel, and what strikes me most is the astoundingly unreal world pictured in the advertising. The vast majority of ads now feature what we call “people of color” living their best lives. Interracial relationships are the norm, not the exception, as our filter-free President, the most popular ever in history, noted recently. Should people of the year 2080 use our commercials to guess at our lifestyle and experiences, the way some of us do today with regards to the Fifties and Sixties, they will assume that the country was made up almost entirely of middle-class Black people who are in a perpetual state of ecstatic joy simply from being their wonderful selves.

There’s a reason for this: Black people are the most avid consumers of free television in this country. (Asian-Americans are the least.) So while it’s tempting to view what you see on free TV as some kind of broad-ranging brainwashing conspiracy, it’s perfectly easy to explain in terms of the almighty dollar. People want to see themselves represented in their media. The same is true as it applies to age and education; a major percentage of advertising now is aimed at low-education Medicare recipients and/or older people with an astounding diversity of diseases requiring targeted pharma products.

As you might expect, it’s also very easy to get a sense of the modern catechism by watching free TV. Diversity is our strength, superior to anything except mass immigration of homogenous groups such as Mexicans and/or West Africans; that’s even stronger and better. Big Tech is portrayed lovingly, as is big government. There are countless shows about underdog Federal agents trying valiantly to defeat white supremacists. Everywhere you look, there are white supremacists. Thousands of them. Millions even. Even the aforementioned “Yellowstone”, normally a deliberate respite from today’s enforced Benetton-ism, took time out from the diesel Rams and Stetson 1000X hats for an episode about the dangers of white supremacy. The white supremacists are always far more powerful, better-armed, and more technologically savvy than the downtrodden Feds who have to attack their plywood-and-drywall fortress compounds using nothing but the full force and capability of the United States Government.

You can’t watch any of this stuff without either laughing or cringing, or perhaps feeling a sense of unwanted manipulation. Which makes sense. If you’re not paying for something, you are the product. That’s a concept made painfully relevant in the age of Facebook, but it’s been true in media since King Biscuit Flour was a major advertiser. So what do you get when you agree to pay for the television you watch? Is it any better or more interesting? Most of the time, the answer is “Hell no,” but your humble author happened to watch something during an elliptical-machine struggle session last week that perhaps warrants your attention, and certainly deserves your admiration.

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I Regret To Inform You That The Drive Is At It Again

Earlier this month, there was an “amazing article” at The Drive about the current semiconductor shortage, written by some “tech-writer” chump who’s never set foot inside a dealership. I know it was amazing because all of the usual suspect idiots on Twitter told me so. It’s a wonderful example of the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect, except in this case I absolutely remember that everything else written at The Drive is also complete and utter garbage, not just this particular piece of writing that falls within my expertise.

Outside of the technical content that anybody with an internet connection could verify, all of the conclusions that this author drew are completely false, some of them harmfully so. I really don’t want to do this, as my heart rate doesn’t need the additional stress, but I feel an obligation to you to point out how incredibly stupid everything in this article was.

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Weekly Roundup: Who Could Remember Her Edition

I’ve seen altogether too much of Jason Segel. Not just because the film Forgetting Sarah Marshall, CONSOOMED by your humble author last night for the first time just thirteen years after its 2008 premiere, both begins and ends with full-frontal scenes of Segel’s personal equipment, but also because he has appeared in seemingly fifty percent of the random media serving as background noise in this house. He was part of How I Met Your Mother and is a reliable bet to appear in any of the “Apatowverse” movies.

About those films, which have woven themselves into the fabric of American psuedo-culture the same way Seinfeld and Friends did two decades before: Some of them are very funny (The 40-Year-Old Virgin), some are uncannily perceptive (Superbad) and one of them verges on being genuinely artistic (Get Him To The Greek, the only Apatow film that would have piqued the interest of Joseph Campbell or Robert Bly).

There’s always been something about the entire oeuvre that has annoyed me, however, and after seeing Forgetting I believe I can now articulate it in reasonable fashion.

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Notes From The Valley

Like the woman who was never President, it is necessary for the proprietor of this website to have a public and a private position on many issues. There are three primary reasons for this. The first, of course, is that there is a little gang out there with a (not-quite-as-)secret(-as-they-think-it-is) Facebook group trying mightily to parse every single thing I write into reasonable grounds for termination. This task, while daunting, is at least possible in the right conditions, whereas the alternative path, which would involve being better at my job than I am and therefore rendering me superflous, is impossible for people of their pathetic capabilities.

The second reason is that I have no wish to oppress my readers with too much blatant opinion-giving on political topics. My liberal readers wouldn’t like my opinion on social issues; my conservative readers wouldn’t like how I feel on issues like tariffs, unionization, and economic justice. No matter who you are, I guarantee you we disagree on something. Heck, I can think of a half-dozen issues on which Brother Bark and I are probably on opposite sides of the bench.

Last and not in any way least, there’s what I call my privilege of isolation. I’ve chosen to live in a place where protests/riots/whatever simply don’t happen and likely never will happen, largely because most of my neighbors would see such an occasion as a fine opportunity for a turkey shoot. (Here at Riverside Green, of course, we own nothing more frightening than a solid array of airsoft pistols, one Crossman BB gun, and the King James Bible.) Those of you who follow the news will be very aware of a recent incident in which a Columbus, Ohio police officer shot a young woman who was yelling “I’m going to stab the fuck out of you bitch,” as she attempted to, uh, stab the fuck out of another young woman. Although I live twenty miles from the event, there has been zero impact here. No marches, no looting, no fiery but peaceful protesting. Therefore, I like to defer commentary on this stuff to people who have skin in the game, so to speak.

One of those people with skin in the game is the writer of the “Up In The Valley” blog. I had dinner with him in Van Nuys on Tuesday the 13th, before the Floyd verdict and the Ma’Khia Bryant stabbing/shooting. We discussed the future of America; I view it from a distance, but he has a seat in the front row.

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Grand Unified Theory, Or “Rising Sun” Redux?

Before you can reach the TOE, you have to satisfy the GUT. This is not a Pervert’s Guide To Dating, but rather the current state of science. We’d like to have a Theory Of Everything that would explain the creation and operation of the Universe in detail, but such a TOE is reliant on a working Grand Unified Theory that explains the quantum-level interactions of various forces. The purpose of the various atom-smashing colliders around the world is to observe those interactions at very high energy levels. Apparently there’s a merging of the electromagnetic and weak forces into an “electroweak”; that’s a clue.

Don’t ask me to explain any further, I majored in 18thC Brit Lit. As far as I know, the real purpose of a “Loop” is to put the soul of your big brother into a depressed-looking robot.

The American Left has a Grand Unified Theory to explain everything that happens in America, and that theory is Racism In All Its Forms. Everything you don’t like about America, or indeed about life, is probably somehow due to racism. It is the original sin from which all others flow, as documented in its holy text, The 1619 Project. When non-whites commit an offence against this ideology, as was the case with Enrique Tarrio of the Proud Boys, we are told it is due to “multiracial whiteness”, in which the Person-of-Color is, ah, possessed by the dybbuk of an evil white person.

Don’t ask me to explain any further, I majored in 18thC Brit Lit. As far as I know, the dybbuk is primarily a science fiction phenomenon.

There’s no GUT for the American Right, which makes sense because nowadays the Right contains the nonconformist side of things. A hundred years ago, the Right was a unified whole with a functioning GUT — it was called “The Bible” — and the Left was the nonconformist side that couldn’t decide if it was a labor movement, an art movement, or a sexual-liberation movement. Still, in order to provide any alternative to the Uniparty, the Right needs a way to explain why things are the way they are, one that doesn’t involve racism, because that’s like trying to create an electric vehicle infrastructure where you burn gas in a turbine to create electricity, if that makes any sense.

The nice people at Tablet have just published a paper that does a pretty good job of explaining America’s current state in a single word. That word is: China. The individual facts of the paper are not in dispute. Only the conclusion is open to debate. It’s scary — but we’ve seen this movie before. Or have we?

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The Worst Job In The Supermarket, The Limits of AI, And That Tablet Essay

About three years ago I wrote about the ethics of stealing from automated supermarkets. In the short space of time since then, theft from the machines is way up, perhaps aided by attitudes like this. Looking back at that little essay, however, I think I missed one of the most important aspects, perhaps the most important aspect, of the changeover to self-checkout, namely:

How to turn four unhappy-ish jobs into a single miserable one.

So let’s talk about that. And we’ll look at that hotter than hot essay on TabletMag, too, because they’re directly related.

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Review: “A Children’s Bible”, by Lydia Millett

I swear on a stack of copies that it’s a blistering little classic: “Lord of the Flies” for a generation of young people left to fend for themselves on their parents’ rapidly warming planet… “A Children’s Bible” moves like a tornado tearing along an unpredictable path through our complacency. The novel works so effectively because it’s an allegory that constantly resists the predictable messaging of allegory. Millet’s wit and her penchant for strange twists produce the kind of climate fiction we need: a novel that moves beyond the realm of reporting and editorial, a story that explores how alarming and baffling it feels to endure the destruction of one’s world.
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Take this book, eat it up.

You can read the rest of the review, which swerves breathtakingly between garden-variety midwit-ism and rank stupidity, at The Bezos Blog, but I think you get the idea: A Children’s Bible is a book very much of the moment, very much awarded, very much read by The Right People. Last night I took ninety-three minutes away from Call Of Duty: Warzone to read the thing. This was not wasted time; not in the slightest. As a work of fiction, A Children’s Bible is little better than its vampires-and-magic-brooms bookstore contemporaries — but as a lens both into current thinking and my own thought process, it’s pretty good.

(Warning: spoilers for this book after the jump).

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