Ghosts of the Past

Today is the anniversary of D-Day, when 76 years s ago Allied forces staged an enormous assault on German positions on the beaches of Normandy, France.

The bunker shown in the photo was actually located quite a bit South of Normandy, but it was built by the Germans in anticipation of a coastal attack so I thought the reblog appropriate for today.

Especially as we look at what’s going on around us now. Evil never really goes away, just in to hiding. Remembering the past helps us recognize when it again rears its ugly head and hopefully beat it back down.

Freedom Through Empowerment

Bunkers Surfers Catching Waves Beside WWII Nazi Bunkers-Capbreton, France 2017

Tucked away in the Southwest corner of France at the mouth of the Bay of Biscay, sits the little town of Capbreton which my mom’s side of the family has been connected with since the 1800’s.

The town, once known as the City of 100 Captains, has a lively history; a Viking invasion, King Henry IV riding his horse through the doors of its ancient church and bumping his head on the portal, Napoleon III building a wooden jetty to protect the port that still stands today and a German occupation during World War II by  that left defense bunkers on the little town’s beautiful beaches.  

It’s these bunkers that fascinate me the most.  Built for Hitler’s infamous Atlantic Wall defense against an impending Allied attack; they were part of a massive complex of over 10,000 fortified structures stretching…

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Year of Insanity

crazy                                      Photo Credit:Shutterstock.com

No matter what happens going forward, 2020 will forever be known as the year we went bonkers.  It appears to be from a sickness that messes with the brain, causing acute loss of logic and critical thinking skills. Symptoms include extreme naivety in the goodwill of government officials, a complete disregard for civil liberties except when they align with preferred political causes, an eagerness to shame and censure others and uncontrollable urges to show wokeness through obnoxious, shallow acts of virtue signaling.

This virus has been around for several years but really grew legs during the Coronavirus (so last week, I know) when it mutated in to mass psychosis.  The killing of George Floyd, protests, riots and looting then caused an explosion of infections; the telltale sign being the severe cognitive dissonance of those who cheered social distance rules keeping churches closed, but who now throw all such standards out the window to accommodate large crowds during BLM protests.

The primary method of spread is done via social media, where large amounts of gullible vulnerable people fell victim to being brainwashed through the repetitive use of banal phrases and memes.  Those with pre-existing conditions, particularly that of Trump Derangement Syndrome, were found to suffer most, having significantly higher viral loads within the body, causing incoherence and complete intolerance to outside opinions.

The only cure is to stay completely off line, don’t watch the mainstream news and think for yourself.  Experts roundly agree there is not a snowball’s chance in hell  little possibility of this occurring and that cases will continue to spike throughout the year.

Until November 6 when a new and more lethal form of the virus could take root.  All bets are off.

 

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Primed For Hate

Sheeple                                                      Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

I just love this article, “What if We’ve All Been Primed?” written by Tom Nokkola and taken from his blog, tomnikkola.com.  It provides some really good insight on why we form cultural tribes and how the COVID-19 saga has put this process on steroids.  It also challenges us to break free from this by questioning some commonly accepted beliefs.

The main premise is something called behavioral priming, which leads us to think in specific ways that pit us against one another.  Behavioral priming, Nokkola says:

is the ability to influence someone’s thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors without them knowing about it, through exposing them to a previous stimulus.  For example, repeating the phrase, “Stay home. Stay safe.” could be a form of priming, as it has the potential to impact the way people think (or don’t think and just do), speak, or act.”

Quite simply Stay home. Stay safe leaves the distinct implication that if you don’t stay home you are putting yourself and others in jeopardy, you are a danger to the tribe. Hearing the phrase often enough solidifies this truth in the mind and gives license to shame others who don’t follow it.

Interestingly enough, the fear of getting sick with the coronavirus plays right in to this.  According to this article from the BBC , fear can even change our psyches making us even more tribalistic.  The article goes on to say:

“Due to some deeply evolved responses to disease, fears of contagion lead us to become more conformist and tribalistic, and less accepting of eccentricity. Our moral judgements become harsher and our social attitudes more conservative…”

Hmmmm, moral judgements becoming harsher, what say you Karen?

Another commonly heard phrase Nikkola discusses is, We’re all in this together. This also creates a divide with others whose circumstances do not lend them to want to participate in this grand cultural kumbaya moment of pandemic fighting from their couches.

Maybe for them not working literally means not eating.  Or perhaps they are financially stable, but worried about the negative effects of the shutdowns vastly outweighing those from the coronavirus. Both are perfectly sane positions, but have somehow become demonized because they infer we are not all in this together, which again threatens the status quo.

New normal is another one.  This is frequently used to describe how life will be different after we exit our shelter in place holes and implies we better just darn well get used to it.  It’s just the new normal they say and it’s going to be repeated ad nauseam in the weeks and months ahead.

Disagreeing with this implies that you want to make people unsafe by not being on board with, say, making structural changes to society, which Joe Biden stated when discussing his coronavirus response strategy.

These types of phrases also feed in to the natural human inclination to feel morally superior over others. Once that takes effect people get very nasty because they now have a vested interest in being right about your deplorable behavior and will quickly devolve to rude and obnoxious behavior when this belief is challenged.

Nikkola suspects, and I agree with him, there are motives behind this which may not be so pure and that our default action should be to ask questions.  As he says:

“What if, by you simply asking, “What if?” you start to feel less concerned about COVID-19, and more about where we’re headed as a country?  We all need to ask more questions rather than accept all answers.”

He is not saying there is some Grand Poobah pulling levers behind a curtain, merely that large events such as a global pandemic create much confusion and panic, which people will exploit.  That’s not crazy talk, just the natural inclination of man in a fallen world.

My perspective?  We are living through an historic moment where the simultaneous catastrophes of a global pandemic and economic shut down have collided with the perfect fear inducing trifecta of 24/7 news, social media narrative setting and the most contentious election year probably in our lifetime.

Needless to say we are saturated in fear, outrage and misinformation and it’s affecting not just how major public policy decisions are being made, but how we relate to each other too.

You can bet there are people out there wanting to exploit this to their advantage.

 

 

 

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A Primal Scream For Sanity

 

 

“When Did Flattenng the Curve Turn in to Finding a Cure?”-Dave Portnoy

My apologies for the profane language in the video, but it’s a delicious primal scream from Dave Portney, owner of  bartsoolsports.com and extremely cathartic for those of us who believe the extended lockdown response to Coronavirus is utter insanity.

I honestly think there are a lot more of us out there who feel this way than those who don’t, but we’ve been conditioned to think this position is wrong and immoral and so we self censure.  This has to stop.  Now.

The only way the pro lockdown fever that’s affected much of our leadership will break is if enough every day people who feel that what we are doing is wrong stands up and says so. Most politicians act out of fear and self interest; when they see their support base evaporating, they change course.

This is so far beyond the normal political nonsense we argue over and the era of withholding opinions out of politeness is not an option anymore.  Government enforced poverty, shattered lives, increased spousal and child abuse, sky rocketing suicide and addiction rates, the scandalous trampling of civil liberties; this is THE issue of our time and more of us have to start acting like it is.  And I know many of you are doing this already.

The negative effects of shutting down the largest economy in the world will play out for years to come.  The least we can do now is stop the bleeding by ending the shutdown.  Contact your governor and local representatives of course, but pro lockdown cultural narrative set by the MSM and most of the left must be overcome too and the only way to do that is by having uncomfortable conversations with friends, family and neighbors.

If you agree with what Dave Portney is saying, please share his video everywhere. If you don’t feel comfortable with the rough language, than express the sentiments in your own words and let everyone know how you feel.

 

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Contact Tracing & Forced Home Removal

The kind looking man with the gentle voice in the video is Dr. Robert Levin, Health Director for Ventura County, CA.  In it, the doctor explains the new “Test & Trace” program being implemented across the state and how it will work in Ventura County.

Here are some snippets from the kind looking man with the gentle voice  and the time mark where you can find them in the video:

3:49- “When we find someone who has a COVID infection,  those people are immediately isolated.”

4:52- “We will isolate every one of them and we will find every one of their contacts and we will make sure that they stay quarantined.”

5:20-There are gonna be thousands of peopled hired who will be contact investigators across the state.”

6:12-We’re not going to be able to keep that person in their home”

6:25-We’ll be moving people like this in to other kinds of housing.”

Doesn’t this all sound just wonderful? Especially from such a kind looking man with the most gentle of voices.

Of course after an uproar on social media Ventura County was forced to apologize and denied people would be forcibly removed from their homes.  The good doctor himself said, “I either misspoke or it was misinterpreted – I’ll take the blame of having misspoke.”  His full statement can be found here.

Just about everything he said in the video points to forcibly isolating people from others and we’re expected to believe he misspoke? Does it even matter at this point?

Thousands of new government hires will be making the determination whether or not you need to be isolated because somebody, somewhere tested positive for COVID-19 and said they may have come in contact with you.  What happens if you say no?

It’s not just California either as I’m sure you know.  States all around the country are hiring tens of thousands of people for contact tracing programs of their own.

What could possibly go wrong?

 

 

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COVID-19 Studies Bring Some Good News

Lab                              Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

COVID-19 studies done in CA, MA and NY are starting to confirm what’s long been suspected, that there are vastly more asymptomatic or mild cases of the virus than the official confirmed case counts.

This sounds like bad news, but if the studies hold up and results can be replicated it’s actually very good.  Mostly.

Key Take Aways: 

  • Getting the virus does not mean a death sentence or hospitalization for most people. Many will get it and not even realize it.
  • We are looking at a much lower and more manageable death rate than initially feared.
  • Protection for vulnerable populations should be reinforced as the more asymptomatic carriers there are, the more difficult it will be to contain the spread.
  • These studies are not final and still need peer review.  They do offer a good snapshot where eventually more informed and better public policy decisions can be made moving forward.

The Studies:

The University of Southern California partnered with Los Angeles County on a COVID-19 antibody study that concluded 2.8%-5.6% of LA County’s adult population had virus antibodies present, translating to 221,000-422,000 past infected people which far exceeds the confirmed case count at the time of testing of of 8,000.

The study’s lead investigator, USC Professor Neeraj Mood stated, “We haven’t known the true extent of COVID-19 infections in our community because we have only tested people with symptoms, and the availability of tests has been limited.  The estimates also suggest that we might have to recalibrate disease prediction models and rethink public health strategies.”

Study summary can be found here.

Also in California, Stanford University researchers came to similar conclusions with their antibody testing study in Santa Clara County.  Those scientists estimate that between 48,000 to 81,000 people had been infected with the virus in the county by early-April, which is 50-85 times larger than the number of publicly confirmed cases and that they conclude lands the fatality rate at 0.12 to 0.2 percent.

Study summary can be found here.

In Boston something very interesting happened when 297 residents of the Pine Street Inn homeless shelter  were tested for COVID-19 and found 146 were positive and not a single one had symptoms.

“It was like a double knockout punch. The number of positives was shocking, but the fact that 100 percent of the positives had no symptoms was equally shocking,” said Dr. Jim O’Connell, president of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program.

And finally, in New York, where according to Governor Cuomo, “We have undertaken the largest, most comprehensive study of New York state to find out what is the infection rate,” massive antibody testing points to 13.9% of the state population having been infected with COVID-19 and having either recovered or were fully asymptomatic.

Cuomo said if the 13.9% statewide infection rate holds true, that would suggest a total amount of infections of around 2.7 million statewide, with a 0.5% death rate.

Pretty interesting stuff.  None of this is to take away from the 217,000 worldwide COVID-19 deaths or say they aren’t tragic.  It’s a serious and deadly virus that warrants proper attention, but so do the calamitous effects of shutting down our economy and keeping healthy people shut up in their homes.

Have we made a catastrophic mistake here that will cause more suffering and death in the long run and take years to overcome?   Or did we dodge The big One by preventing the initially predicted  mass casualties and death?

Only time and more studies like this will tell.

 

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Corona Crazy

Gas·light
/ˈɡaslīt/
verb
  1. To manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.

WE MUST FLATTEN THE CURVE so our healthcare system doesn’t get overrun!!  Flatten the curve, flatten the curve, STAY HOME TO FLATTEN THE CURVE!!!  But now that the curve is flattening, can we talk about opening up the economy?  What’s the matter with you??? 500,000 PEOPLE WILL DIE unless you STAY HOME so just STAY HOME!!  But our hospitals are not overrun in most areas and people are really suffering economically, so let’s discuss-WHY DO YOU WANT GRANDMA TO DIE?  WHAT? I don’t Grandma to die, I’m just concerned about the negative impact of massive job loss and self isolation-100,000-200,000 PEOPLE ARE EXPECTED TO DIE and you can’t park yourself on the couch for awhile longer? Stop being SO SELFISH!  I just…wait, didn’t you just say 1/2  a million people would die? Where’s your mask?  For the love of God WHY AREN’T YOU WEARING A MASK??? Because you said they weren’t effective.  Now back to the estimated deaths, you said earlier that-LOOK, 60,000 people are EXPECTED TO DIE all because YOU WON’T WEAR A MASK!! Um, 60,000?  What happened to-WHY DO YOU HATE NURSES? But I don’t hate nurses and now my head is spinning! I’m going for a run on the beach.  THE BEACHES ARE CLOSED!!! Why?  Exercise and fresh air are good for the immune system and I’m not a threat to any-Beaches, Parks and hiking trails ARE ALL CLOSED!!!  Fine, I’ll jog on the sidewalk then.  ONLY IF YOU REMAIN 6 FEET AWAY FROM OTHERS!  But that’s impossible now, as neighborhood streets/sidewalks are teaming with people who have nowhere else to go.  WHY DO YOU WANT GRANDMA TO  DIE?????

I need a drink.

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A Broken Economy Means Broken People

“It was like a 98% drop in revenue overnight.  All the bills keep coming in, it’s hard to pay those bills.”John Rudolph, co-owner of Harry’s Coffee Shop and Diner.

“As of this afternoon, we’ve been forced to lay off our entire organization. Between all 5 locations that’s approximately 75 fantastic and very hard working people.”~Richard Walker, owner of Richard Walker’s Pancake House

We are estimating that about 60% of all our restaurants have closed. You can imagine how many thousands and thousands of employees have been affected.”~Jeff Rossman, President of the local chapter of the California Restaurant Association.

The above 3 quotes are taken from a March 26th La Jolla Village News article profiling local restaurants in my area.  Multiply them by 10 million and you get an idea of what the 30 million small  business owners around the country are going through, not to mention the 100’s of millions of people they employ (or used to).

Unemployment

According to this Wall Street Journal article, the total amount of unemployment applications during the three weeks since the economic shutdown began has surged to nearly 17 million.  Behind each of those applications of course is a human being who has suddenly found themselves out of a job, which means a group of people equivalent in size to the population of the Netherlands is now dependent on the government to survive.

This, to put it mildly, is a catastrophe and in a thousand other ways  than just financially.

As insanitybytes22 wrote recently in her fantastic post,  Economies are People!,

People who live paycheck to paycheck can often survive a couple of weeks, but then they find themselves unemployed, out of money for groceries, and the rent is due. People are already hurting under normal circumstances,  but now they’re hurting even more.

Put in the language of social justice and bleeding hearts everywhere, the economy is the difference between whether or not a battered woman can afford to leave an abusive situation. An economy is whether or not a case of child abuse is investigated or a kid is left to die. An economy is the difference between a woman choosing to have a child or choosing to have an abortion. An economy is whether or not you can send a 13 yr old to drug treatment or they just  go on the streets to sex trafficking and eventual overdose.

Yes, yes and yes.  There’s so much more I could add, not least of which are the negative effects of the enormous amount of stress of being out of work, which brings its own nightmares of anxiety, depression, loneliness, addiction and poor physical/mental health.  I cannot imagine having to suffer through any one of these things while isolated away from family, friends, church, therapists and doctors. Powder keg comes to mind.

There are also the compounding effects that occur when the incomes of so many people drop so dramatically overnight.  Lots of folks in this country, whether rich or poor, give significant amounts of money to charity, which in turns goes towards helping those most in need.  As millions of people become those most in need, these donations of course will drop off as well as government tax revenue that also fund programs for the poor.

It’s really just an ugly situation all around.

Let’s be clear, COVID-19 causes extremely harsh symptoms in some people and unfortunately those who succumb to it experience a particularly nasty and brutish death.  While the majority of people appear not to suffer this way, if at all, we must take the quickly spreading virus seriously and do what we can to combat it.

Shutting down the economy until a vaccine is found however is not a viable option and we have to stop pretending like it is.  Unfortunately fighting the coronavirus pandemic and saving the economy are intertwined in a sort of symbiotic relationship in reverse; what’s beneficial for one effort is detrimental to the other.  We need effective ways of doing both at the same time.

This could involve keeping those most vulnerable in quarantine and still enacting existing measures like the 6 foot spacing rule between people, limited social gatherings, practicing good hygiene, wearing masks, etc…while gradually opening up businesses and churches who will find creative ways to meet whatever new strictures get put in place.

I’m not a health or public policy expert by any means, but I do know a strong economy brings with it health, wealth and innovation, all things we desperately need to win the coronavirus battle.  Poverty brings much suffering and death, both physically and spiritually and will put our country in a much weaker condition to continue the fight.

A broken economy means broken people.

 

 

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The Uncertainty Virus

This is an absolutely fascinating interview with Stanford University Professor of Medicine Doctor Jay Bhattacharya.  He discusses why knowing the true lethality rate of COVID-19 is so important, as we cannot know what that rate is without a definitive number on how many people have or have had the virus. Right now we have no idea, yet huge policy decisions with enormous implications are being made as if we do. Massive testing on asymptomatic people is desperately needed.

The video is about 30 minutes long.  Carve out some time to give it a listen, it’s really well done.

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Social Distance ≠ Emotional Distance

Flowers

At least it shouldn’t. I daresay the technology our culture is absurdly blessed with was made for these very strange times, where we’re forced to live life from our living room couches and in person contact with others is vastly limited.

I really worry about what the long term societal effects of such isolation will be, especially with already vulnerable people like seniors and those dealing with existing mental health issues.  We were made to be social creatures, in fact the very act of conversing with someone stretches the mind and increases the feel good chemicals dopamine and oxytocin.

Without human interaction the brain becomes stagnant and a person’s world can shrink down to just their own problems and issues. It’s a really stifling way to live.

Reaching out to others really takes minimal effort. Here are just a few ways:

  • Texting is ok but pick up the phone and call people too, especially those you wouldn’t normally.
  • Use a video calling app like FaceTime, Skype or Zoom.  It can be awkward at first but seeing people is a big mood booster.  If my 83 year old mom can be taught how to use “The FaceTime”, anyone can!
  • Drop flowers off for someone who could use a lift.
  • Leave a note with your phone # for a vulnerable person in your neighborhood who you think may need help.
  • Make eye contact and say hi to people when you’re out doing your socially distant appropriate exercise.
  • Make a point of starting up conversations while waiting in line to buy toilet paper.

This post is really written more for myself than anyone else. At times I’ve let the Coronavirus take up so much mental space in my head, that I’m forgetting about the very real people around me who are suffering.

What are some other ways we can connect with others?  Please share if you have ideas.

 

 

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