I can’t keep track of mask mandates and forgot there was a new one in place when I went to the store at the gas station. The cashier took out a single-use mask and gave it to me. I immediately put it on and apologized. Didn’t protest, didn’t make trouble. I understand, it’s not his fault, and I’m not going to be a jerk to a gas station worker. It should have ended there. But the cashier – a fit youngish guy – went off his rocker and started screaming, “Thirty thousand cases a week! People are dying! How hard is it to mask up to save lives?” I heard him ranting in an empty store after the door closed behind me.

More on Abortion

The revival of the utterly useless abortion debate brought a lot of arrant stupidity out of people.

“Why is everybody acting like it’s impossible to avoid unwanted pregnancy? Just use birth control! Getting pregnant is hard even without birth control, let alone with it.”

Honey, you are low-fertility and you are so out of touch with your own body that you don’t understand that you are not the norm. I’m also low-fertility but I’m lucid enough to be aware of it.

“Abortion is no big deal. I had five and don’t even remember them.”

Sweetie, you are as out of touch as the low-fertility chick. You have more in common than you two think. When you get pregnant, your entire body begins to transform to prepare for the enormous work of bringing a child into the world. If you interrupt this process, that’s a huge trauma to your body. You are denying your trauma in service of a narrative. This doesn’t mean the abortion wasn’t the right decision for you but nature doesn’t care about your decisions or narratives.

Instead of judging each other, try to see your female body as the miracle of creation and not a machine you happen to live in.

I saw a friend today who is about to give birth. Her belly is so big, it’s hard to tell if the baby is inside or outside. “It’s your birthday tomorrow!” I said. “Happy upcoming birthday!”

“Is it,” she said indifferently. “I don’t know what day it is. All I can think about is my baby.”

This woman has a serious health condition that makes pregnancy and birth very complicated. She and her husband also have a shared genetic defect that makes the likelihood of delivering a viable baby very low. For her, the baby wasn’t real until the genetic tests came back at 12 weeks and showed she was free of the genetic curse. My friend was going to abort if the tests came back bad. She was absolutely desperate for this child, and to protect her psyche from shattering she didn’t let the baby be a baby in her mind until she knew it was going to be fine. So anybody who says that it’s the same baby at 4 weeks as at 40 weeks is being a jerk. There’s an enormous effort of the female body that goes into the time period between 4 weeks and 40. Discounting that effort is stupid. And if you are a woman, it’s really really counterproductive.

Is a miscarriage at 4 weeks the same tragedy as a stillbirth at 40? Obviously not. It doesn’t mean there isn’t immense suffering with an early miscarriage but there’s really no comparison. Tomorrow is going to be 8 years since the day when my son’s heart stopped at over 39 weeks of gestation, so I unfortunately have every reason to know this. I never aborted but judging a woman who had to make that tragic decision is just low.

Literature Lesson: “Zelig” by Benjamin Rosenblatt

I’m reading the collection titled The Best American Short Strories of the Century and sharing my thoughts about the stories it contains.

In Benjamin Rosenblatt’s 1916 story, an old Ukrainian Jew Zelig emigrates to the US to join his son and grandchild. He’s deeply unhappy, lonely, and desperate to go home. The American freedom to worship that other immigrant Jews treasure means nothing to him because he’s too dumb to care about religion. When the Russian Empire witnesses horrific Jewish pogroms of 1905, Zelig can’t find it in himself to care. He wants to go back to the only home he’s ever known and he lives like a miser to save enough money for a return ticket.

The author traps the readers into thinking that the story is about immigrants or Jews or the difficulty of assimilation. But then at the end he sweeps all of that off the table like a house of cards. Zelig realizes that his grandson might die because of his miserliness and in that moment gives up his dream of going back home and decides, instead, to humor the kid and send him to college.

The power of the story lies in this neat trick where the author first lets you place yourself at a great distance from Zelig – I’m not an unassimilated immigrant (because why would I read this story if I were?), I’m not a dumb, semi-human old man who can barely formulate a thought, I’m not a greedy bastard, I’m not indifferent to the murders of Jews during the pogroms, I care about constitutional freedoms – and then all of a sudden he destroys the distance and makes it all about something we all know and understand, which is the depth of a father’s feeling for a child. Every reader has a father or is a father and will feel something when Zelig dissolves in a burst of parental love. The contempt – or the pity, the annoyance, the boredom, the anger – we have felt for Zelig gives way to a flood of recognition.

Rosenblatt stops there and doesn’t try to offer some larger lessons in the story. Zelig doesn’t assimilate to become a better grandpa – or if he does, we are spared hearing about something that soppy. Knowing when to stop is a sign of literary mastery which many authors do not possess. Rosenblatt does, and this is what makes “Zelig” a very good story.

Here is a link to the story.

Canadians Vote

Canadians, please don’t vote for Trudeau. And definitely don’t vote for the NDP. The NDP is Trudeau on steroids. They’ll lock you up forever and call you a Nazi for wanting a breath of fresh air.

Conservatives suck ass but they are very slightly better than the Liberals and the NDP. Please forget partisanship and kick these rabid neoliberals to the curb.

The Way Out of the New Normal

I understand why people want to believe in these vaccines. You want to think there’s something you can do that will give you your normal life back. Something easy and momentaneous, like a shot.

But the problem is it wasn’t COVID that locked us up and took our normalcy away. It was done for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with illness. It was done for political and economic reasons.

This means that the only path back towards normal life will be political and economic, not medical. You can treat COVID medically. But you can’t treat lockdowns, masks, and all the rest of it medically. There’s no vaccine from lockdowns.

The “new normal” is extremely profitable and convenient for the people who have the power to keep the restrictions and intensify them at will. Even if there were a vaccine or a treatment that was 100% effective, that would only lead to more restrictions.

It Doesn’t Work

A pre-print of a study out of Israel once again confirms what anybody not completely blind has known for months:

Here’s the whole thing.

We spent the first year of the pandemic repeating the words “rapidly mutating virus” and then the second year repeating “vaccine.” That the two might not be able to coexist never occurred to anybody.

Mark my words, it will eventually be acknowledged that effectiveness vanishes by 4 months. But that’s excellent news for Pfizer because then it can rip you off more often by selling boosters more often. And neurotics will line up to get it.