Don’t Fear The Wu-Flu

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I confess I’ve been afraid of the Wu-flu. Oh, not the disease itself. Look, I’m at SLIGHTLY more risk than the rest of you, simply because I catch everything that passes within a block of me.

However, the REALLY important thing to remember is that we really don’t have any idea — yet — how this will play in the US, but we don’t really have that much of a reason to panic either.

Even in Italy, the mortality is mostly among Chinese transplants. And before you tell me I’m racist (rolls eyes), no, I’m not. Leaving aside the protein in the lungs this thing might or might not bind to, there are co-morbidity factors for Chinese (and to an extent for Italians. Definitely for Iranians, particularly Iranian males.) One of them is smoking like a chimney. The other is that China (where the mortality seems to be way higher, honestly) is more polluted than you can imagine.  Iran might be too. You know dictatorships don’t really much care for the environment, and I remember Portugal in the early sixties, when going out early in the morning during rush hour was like putting your face fully in the exhaust of a car. I have no clue as to Italy air quality, and I have a full schedule ahead, so I refuse to fall down that rabbit hole.

Right now we know it’s spreading like wild fire. It’s known as a “virgin field” epidemic.  What it doesn’t seem to be is all that deadly. NOT among countries which actually give a f*ck about their citizens.  For the others, everything is deadly. Remember North Korea telling their citizens that pine needle soup was nutritious?

What I’m trying to say is there is absolutely zero reason to panic over how many people are getting infected.  Though if you have co-morbidities you should go see a doctor.
Look, I’ll be blunt: San Fran going on quarantine? Theater. Look, if they were at any REAL risk, their homeless would be dropping like flies. Think of the conditions they live under.  In Denver? We’ll know this is a real thing when our pot heads who are somewhat lung impaired (though not like the Chinese) start dying, or at least clogging the hospitals with pneumonia. I haven’t heard of any of that happening, so I’m going to say “Nah, brah. It’s a bad bad cold.”

Honestly, I’m not absolutely sure it’s not what my family has merrily been passing back and forth for two months, but which at this point is re-infecting at the level I’m not actually that ill.  It just cost me two months off my schedule, d*mn it. (I’ll pick up on this point later.)  “But Sarah, it couldn’t be!”  Really? REALLY?  Were you tested when you were ill this winter? Because I wasn’t. And apparently the kids distributed by the CDC give false negatives, anyway.  And this thing behaved EXACTLY like when I get a “virgin field epidemic virus.”  It comes back over and over, weaker each time till I stop catching it.

I know what these are like, because Colorado Springs is not only a military town, but a place a lot of contractors came from during the early push of the war in Iraq.  Those of you who were involved in it probably know this, but for the rest of the people: So, what happens is that the Middle East (like China) is full of criss crossing, unbelievably nasty diseases. Same factors. People are poor, live unbelievably close to their animals, and honestly the Muslim hygiene rules, while they might be great compared to what came before are not effective against viruses and bacteria. In fact, in scarce-water desert environments it might help spread disease.

Anyway, it was the practice of our military and/or contractors to send back to the States any case that they weren’t treating well in theater.

One of our neighbors a block down was a contractor. He brought home SOMETHING that got into the schools.  I don’t remember the year, but the schools and the churches closed for at least a couple of weeks (I don’t remember. I was really ill), and we were down with something that was like what we’ve been passing around for two months, but worse. Seriously, that was one of the times I have been so ill I couldn’t function enough to clean my kitchen for like three months. And mostly I SLEPT.  However like this one, it came back weaker and weaker and weaker, until it was all gone.

Anyway, it’s possible it’s already all over the US, in which case, when they get the good kits, you’re going to see hundreds of thousands “infected” show up overnight. Don’t panic if that happens. Chances are you already had it.

If you’re unusually susceptible (more than I) take extra precautions, but honestly? You should be fine. For most people this seems to be asymptomatic. For some it’s a bad cold. AND more importantly, our homeless, addled and addicts, who are not in the best health ever (but probably still better than communist subjects) are still with us. If they’re not the canary in the coal mine, who is?

But I’ve been worried for three reasons: The situation lends itself REALLY well to panic. See above. If we test with effective tests and test everyone who is coughing, there is the potential for hundreds of thousands of cases overnight. And this has been so hyped people will go insane.
As is, I’m not thrilled at the idea of air travel (but who is?) and we’ve been avoiding restaurants (though, honestly? More because we’re broke just now. I NEED to write. We’ll be having huns dinner at Pete’s Kitchen as usual the first Saturday at 5:30 or so [we’re usually late.]) BUT even a light avoidance of that can wreck sectors of the economy.
OTOH I’ll note flights to Portugal have not come down at all (We really should go over this Spring for various reasons.) Which they would if the airlines were being hit with the cancellation stick, instead of people just angsting over flying. (I’ll also note everyone I know is angsting BUT flying.)

Second, my friend Rebecca Lickiss wrote about a bio-engineered virus (no, I don’t think this is, but) which instead of killing you made you incapable of functioning properly for two weeks. No one would buy the story because they didn’t see a problem.  I DO. Particularly if it’s more like 2 or 3 months.  If the entire country is stumbling around feeling like they haven’t slept in months, walking into walls and not working very well for 3 months, it will affect the economy. Trust me on this. My total productivity this month has been this blog and SOMETIMES cleaning the house. And I haven’t done much else either. Just sort of sat and stared.

But third and most important, we depend on some things that are made in China.  Not as much as Europe is, as we’d started the effort of decoupling, but still dependent on a lot of them. Mostly, medicine.  Which I hasten to say SHOULD NEVER BE MADE IN A COUNTRY WE CAN’T TRUST.  Whoever thought this was a good idea is insane.

To compound the danger to the economy the left and the media (BIRM) is doing their best to stampede our economy into a recession because that’s the only way they can beat Trump.

Weirdly, that’s also my reason to tell you not to worry and that the whole thing will fizzle out.

As you guys know, I read Agatha Christie. If you do too, you’ll find her Miss Marple often finds the murderer, etc by the principle of “Well, my dear, her first husband was a crook, so of course her second will be too.” (Though she lays out other clues.)  I used to think this was insane. But now that I’m close to Miss Marple’s age (I don’t know. She might have JUST been sixty. People aged harder.) I KNOW what she meant.

Like it or hate it, people have a tendency to either back the right or the wrong horse.  Take Obama. The man had the mierdas touch. Everything he touched turned to…. well.

And that’s part of what is going on with the left. Only it’s more like they’re the coyote in pursuit of Trump-road-runner.

If they’re throwing their whole weight behind “Wu-flu will finally tank the economy and it will kill a bazillion Americans” it will not only fizzle out, but it will SOMEHOW end up helping the economy.  Because, well…. that’s their history.

I know it seems like a stupid reason to not worry, but in the end these things tend to be right.  Oh, there will be a rough time as they scream and lock up their cities, and… But they’ll just shed a bit more credibility and we’ll be fine.

What we should take from this otherwise disgusting episode though is this: Globalism kills. We cannot, CANNOT be economically dependent on regimes that have no accountability. Open borders kill.  IF this were more deadly, we’d already all be dead, because anyone can come in, and we don’t even know WHO they are, much less if they’re sick.  And totalitarianism kills. All the factors that make life harder and people’s health weaker in China are the result of living in a totalitarian regime. For some enlightenment, and if you haven’t followed this link before, go here. And remember that there are probably situations like this all over China. We’ll just never hear of them.  Totalitarianism kills. Whenever there is an unaccountable elite in power, no one’s life, liberty or happiness is secure.  Oh, and socialism kills even at homeopathic doses.  Watch how this unfolds in Europe with their “We’ll move at our own pace” and “If you’re old, just die” health care. (And yeah, I’m worried for them.)  Consider things the left wishes on us (still) like crowded apartment buildings (with shared air ducts) and public transportation. Think of what a serious epidemic would do in those conditions.

Then just say no. Hard no. Use words, if needed.

 

 

Publishing advice I won’t ever be asked for… – by Dave Freer

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*Yesterday, because of an hilariously stupid comment about US health care over on MGC, I went looking through the old posts for one in which a person of the same nationality as the commenter had written a chapter about HER idea of our health care. In the process I found this post by my friend Dave Freer.
It struck me because of how right he was… 9 years ago. How right he still is, and how impossible most publishing houses find it to consider even ONE of these changes, even in the face of tech change so profound their entire world is up-ended.
Humans are creatures of habit, and habit will not be broken. The images in our heads are “sacred.”  Which explains how many people think communism can now be “done right” or why traditional publishing would rather die than adapt.
This was originally posted at Mad Genius Club September 5 2011– SAH*

Publishing advice I won’t ever be asked for… – by Dave Freer

…which won’t be appreciated (but I would love it if someone listened).

I don’t, per se, hate the legacy publishing industry and wish for its extinction. I do think it’s in troubled and uncertain circumstances right now. There are, just as in the music industry A&R example here  people I like, can identify with, inside it. And there seems a sort of inverse correlation here — the smaller the company is, the more likely the editor is to be doing his or her absolute best, and getting shafted nearly as badly as the writer by the rest of the system.

I think it has blundered down an evolutionary path which it took because there were no major selective pressures to force it to go elsewhere. Like the dinosaurs, getting bigger seemed a more natural course than worrying sudden cold snaps or a shortage of food because an asteroid impact might cause mass volcanism, which might block out the sun and cause years of winter. Some creatures survived that event. Some came to flourish afterwards — with major changes. Before it happened the dinosaurs were the very top end of vertebrate life. Head honchos that got invited to all the fashionable parties… Now the distant descendants are crocodiles and chickens, and no-one knows their ancestors ruled the earth, and if they go fashionable parties it is on the buffet table.

Just so before the advent of e-books (the asteroid), the vast cold-blooded publishers ruled the earth, or at least reading. They fed like… well, dinosaurs, wastefully, destroying the plants, rather than taking the few leaves they needed, but it didn’t matter… well, it was starting to, but bigger was still better. A few nimbler little proto-mammals scampered round the edges making a better living than the behemoths thought plausible out of the scraps they were allowed to access, but still having a rough time.

Then… Amazon’s KDP (principally as a result of the large publishers forcing the agency model on Amazon – to get it back in line, upstart!) caused a major eruption – of self-publishers, some of them mid-list authors with followings, many of them complete newbies, pricing aggressively (which they could afford to do, more so than the behemoths) enough doing well to draw in more ‘Indies’. And more… and thick and fast they came…

Suddenly the behemoths started realising there wasn’t much lunch about. When the news got down to the hind-brain, the little neural knot that controlled the tail, it sure thrashed that about good! That used to work real well on other littler dinosaurs…

Legacy publishing faces some unenviable choices. It still has a substantial paper business, where it controls (almost absolutely) access to retail space (This too is being attacked by Amazon’s CreateSpace, although I don’t think this has been realized yet). But retail space is dropping year by year, and so are paper sales. At the moment paper is still big enough (maybe) to force suppliers and retailers to allow them to retain that monopoly. They have two businesses with entirely different requirements, often in direct conflict in one organisation.

Now, as my fiend Ori pointed out to me once (and I paraphrase) “If you out-source your core competencies, your company will become irrelevant.” For years legacy publishing has been out-sourcing their original competencies – often making this an extra burden for their suppliers to carry, especially the smaller suppliers. They could force the smaller suppliers to do almost anything. Of course the small suppliers often couldn’t do it well, but there were 100 wannabes, so if they failed, legacy publishers simply replaced them with someone who could do publicity, who could write cover copy. The cost of slush trawling was handed to the agents. Proof-reading, covers, even editing, got neglected or farmed out, often (for new or midlist authors) to the cheapest possible. But they retained their absolute core competency: they, and only they, could get an author’s book onto the retailer’s shelf. It actually didn’t matter if you were a best-seller or not, authors had to accept terms – just as the musos did. Between publishing and retail, they could force the author to accept minimum wage. And to thank them publicly for it, to kiss their feet, and wash their dog’s bum if they were told to. That began to change with the Internet (a truly bestselling author – Rowlings or Meyer for example- could actually threaten to print and market herself, and would be able to do so.)  With e-books, Amazon KDP and the other retail outlets (B&N for example, and a list of smaller ones) following suit, that core competency just didn’t exist any more.

The big legacy publishers won the agency battle with Amazon… and forced them into a move which lost the legacy publishers the war, and, possibly, their existence.

The problem of course is that legacy publishers have lost a great deal of the other competencies which are still of value in e-books. And they still have a valuable and powerful stake in paper publishing.

Naturally they want to stay at the top and continue to get invited to all the fashionable parties.

So what could they do, if they were determined, clever, ruthless?  Hmm. That’s a tough one. You can still buy buggy whips. But they’re something of a bespoke item in a niche market. Not dominant. Buggy whip makers almost never get invitations to the fashionable parties.

The short term best option to return to the status quo would be call Amazon and negotiate the terms for surrender. And then hope that Apple, Google, B&N etc are less mighty than Amazon plus legacy publishers. Putting the genie back into vat is going to be tricky. Probably impossible, because authors and readers have tasted the alternative, (and as I’ll explain next week, they won’t take this lying down) but it might, at the most optimistic, hold off the evil hour for five years.

At worst, instead of the big 900 pound gorilla dominating the Internet retail space, they might end up with twenty 600 pound chimpanzees who will, sooner or later, decide that whoever wins access to the prime sources, will win the war, and the possible cost (including a profit margin of 15%) of retail Internet e-books is 16%… if you leave the Legacy Publishers out.

The other option is to abandon territory they can’t defend, and move into dominating niches that they can. To specialize. To build themselves a brand trusted by an ‘assured sale’ group. Like Harlequin does for Romance, as an example. Where people buy on the PUBLISHER’S brand (of e-book), and that brand means people in the market for exactly that product. Where customers who want that product will buy an unknown or even a known author, by many multiples more than they would without the brand.

It’s quite simple: Pick your niche, identify yourself strongly and publicly with it, choose a cover that identifies ONLY your brand, stick to the formula rigidly, and it’s pretty much business as usual in that predictable market.  Authors can suck it up, or try to compete, and fail. BUT… You have come out and clearly say (pick your criteria :-)) ‘this is Shavian socialist/Chinese American/ GLBT/East coast- city-dwelling, fashion-shopping-and-sex fiction… or Democrat/ white/ hetrosexual-with-4-kids/ Flyover country farmer/ shootem-up-and-punchem-inna-mouth-fiction’ or whatever, and combinations of the above for people who are interested in most of the category. You don’t even try to sell outside your captive audience. Now, I’d be among the first to point out that legacy publishers has been publishing niche-tailored, formulaic fiction for at least thirty years now. And that it’s been an unmitigated disaster area, where reading has proportionally declined as a pastime for the literate public. And no, I’m not going to blame movies, TV, the Internet, the cheese monster or a mindwave directed by aliens from Alpha Centauri. It was choosing books which would appeal to (at most) 20% of the population and selling them (and only them) as of general appeal to the other 80%. They sure ‘educated’ those barbaric readers. Yep, educated them right out of buying.

Mostly, the above strategy would work, but cost legacy publishers about 70-95% of their present market share. It’s better than being extinct. But say they really wanted to stay in the game, and not become niche players? Well, that would mean considering BIG changes. I’m fairly certain none of these will appeal or happen…

First and foremost success would require an entire paradigm shift. Forget educating the public. Forget what you, the editor, like. That proved a complete fustercluck when you had absolute control of access to retail. Now it is deader than a fossil Ammonite that’s been dropped in liquid helium, and then boosted into the heart of the sun. You need to go to what your customers–readers (not retailers)– like, and just how you can add value to that. If you can add substantial value, beyond that which others can add, you have a core competency and you’re not going to go extinct. You might actually do far better than in the past, and still go to all the good parties (of course there will be different people there).

The answer is really easy: readers like stories by authors that appeal to them. They identify them largely by author, secondarily by sub-genre, thirdly by cover. Oh and they really don’t like feeling ripped off or exploited. In this they really are no different to anyone else. So: authors names are possibly valuable property.  Historically, the legacy publishers editors picked authors, controlled their access to readers and readers access to them, and if authors wanted to be published… they swam through any sh1t and put up with any extra demands that publishing or retail wanted. If there was a saving to be made, well, the authors could carry that cost, or if there was extra work to be done… you know who did it. If it didn’t work, it was always the author’s fault. I hate belabouring this point, but it is key to the way publishing can survive. It’s not a gatekeeper anymore, and it has to add more value than the author can get by walking through the open gate themselves. Look at what they get without you, and start that point, not the point of what you used to offer. Oh AND you have to persuade the buyer that he’s not being ripped off, especially not by the author.

They get 70% of the cover price without you. And they get quarterly settlement. They get complete sales transparency, day-to-day. They can do as a good a job of getting a book to the shelf as most publishers do right now for as little as $2500, without calling on friends or doing it themselves (when that figure drops to zero, although quality may suffer). That is what the services the legacy publishing house are worth, excluding paper sales. For a new to midlist author those are worth 3-10K advances… at the moment.

Therefore: To compete, as a legacy publisher, you need to match that, either in cash or kind or push up the volume of sales, to earn the author more. The down-side of legacy publishing is it has, well, legacy expenses. No, a publisher’s net profit isn’t very high. It’s just carrying a lot of historical overheads which are meaningless in this paradigm. It has NY premises. It has a legal department, it has an accounting department, it has a marketing department. It has an administration centre where they dealt with orders and returns. It has an HR department. In the stuffy little office with no windows has an editor who actually edits (and does the post and blurbs and…), and in a plush corner offices it has editors who acquire, edit a tiny bit (too busy) run meetings and play business and office politics, meet the CEO, talk to marketing and Accounting.  Proof-reading and actual cover layout and art are out-sourced. There are secretaries, expense accounts, and, um, a vast debt to service, to pay the really big advances to keep the best-sellers… Or the bestsellers might go elsewhere. Those costs are carried by everyone, equally. No wonder a book costs 100K or some fantastical sum to bring out.

Most of that has to go. Legacy publishing can only afford to keep the bits that add value to author for readers, for the author’s benefit. The job can be done from an office in upstate Texas. From an office the size of a postage stamp, or a mailbox, because…

1) The legal department is worthless. Hire an IP layer to draw up very simple clear contract just to avoid confusion. The author doesn’t need a contract with you any more. Why should he sign an evil one?  Yes I know. They’ve written contracts that screwed generations of authors for you. Made you millions and millions.  They’re busy writing contracts right now to bind the author and e-rights until the heat death of the universe, let alone the sun. Which is about as dumb-ass as you can get. Throw them–and the lawyers–away. Screw an author — just one, and word will get out, now that there are alternatives. And then the legacy publisher will find itself competing hard with Publish America for clients. And losing.

2) Fire the accounting department. Yes, I know, their creative accounting in the opaque morass that is royalty records has kept the chair under the acquiring editor-in-chief’s butt. He’s going too, so it doesn’t matter. The labyrinthine payments and returns system, running up 16 months after the fact is very difficult to handle. But it’s also useless.  You need to match and equal Amazon in transparency and speed. Authors want to be able to log in and see what sold ten seconds ago, not ten months -because that’s what they get, as a KDP customer.  Basically, that means you HAVE to computerise and automate. And this where you have an advantage over Newstartup e-publishers, because you have the resources to pay for the programming. [Weirdly, publishers won’t take the accounting software when it’s offered for free. Not traditional and established publishers, at least. Trust me on this. It’s been tried. It’s almost like… they don’t want to know – SAH]

3)Fire the marketing department. Try not to enjoy it too much. There is a need for marketing but it is of a type so foreign to those who promoted the product that didn’t need to be sold for readers to buy it, and ignored the product that needed help, that they’re worthless. The kid off the street has more skills and experience than they do in this new world. He understands facebook, twitter, flashmobs, the blogosphere. You need a social marketing arm, not a sell-best-sellers-that-don’t-need-any-selling-to-bookstores marketer.

4) Admin, with no returns and merely e-placement of books needs to exist… but a lot less people can do the job.  And it needs an attitude transplant.

5)A company with 10 employees instead of 500 probably doesn’t need HR. Yeah, I know. It’s easier to prise limpets off with your toes. Everybody goes before HR. But they have to.

6) The editor in the inner office can work at home, and really, their work has to add that much in value that they’re worth having. And yes, actually the new author or midlister will expect serious input. Or they’ll walk. And talk. And there goes your company.  Every crash will now be a publisher/editor crash, which brings me to the last and worst job.

7)Acquisitions. The editor in corner office probably may as well go, because this is a very different job. It means back to the slush, back to picking up jewels out of the muck. Only it needs a very special kind of jewel. Ones where a bit of polish (not too much, time is money) and facet-work by the editor, will multiply its value. And he’ll probably be reading 99 cent slush on line to find it. No corner office looking onto Central Park needed. The massive deals and the advances will be gone. And no doubt their recipients will threaten to walk. Well. They can. They won’t get much more of a deal than the new Legacy Publisher needs to offer anyway – Which- for bestsellers, will be 70% of cover price. Yes. Every cent they get from Amazon. The New Legacy Publisher will of course also sell through its own website, and that will be 30% gross.

Of course, despite all these losses the legacy publisher needs some new staff. A social media marketer, a proof reader, a good cover/layout staff, and someone to do formats and do visual checks on them. And the staff need a new ethic, where they start taking care of the cents, especially where these cents belong to the guy who’ll walk, and complain, loud and angry… because suddenly it becomes necessary for staff to listen to customers and suppliers. And these are not bookstores and agents. A couple of examples here. A popular series I co-authored… when the last hardcover came out, the previous paperback was out of print. Normally that sells around 2K So we authors lost $1200, the publisher about $7000 in turnover, and our records are weaker than need be. I’ve just discovered SLOW TRAIN (via Amazon) was reprinted about 5 months ago. No one told me, so I told no-one. So that was probably another 500 sales wasted. I usually find out when a book is released by looking it up on Amazon. It’s been years since I had copies or even cover flats in time to promote before release. Almost all of these problems are quick to fix, translate directly into money (far more for the publisher than me) and would often take about 30 seconds of e-mail time. If they’re going to survive and flourish this sort of thing is an easy start. Take care of cents and the dollars mount up.

The author who gets her work taken on will get: everything she’d get going direct, less ( depending on her sales profile) a percentage. Not a very big percentage, or she’ll walk. She’ll also get a cover, social media marketing, editing and proofs.

And one more thing. Remember that bit about the public needing to feel they’re not being ripped off?

She’ll get public transparency. When the agency model kerfluffle came up, the publishers were powerless. Their books were simply delisted from Amazon.

And their authors rode to the rescue. The public love their authors. When the authors told them that Amazon were the bad guys, the customers went ballistic. They want their books. They demanded them, threatened Amazon with boycott. Amazon caved. Publishers chortled in their glee… and put e-book prices up and Hardback prices up.

And the boards were full of “GREEDY AUTHORS!”

And not a single solitary word in their defence was said by their publishers. Not anywhere. The legacy publishers were perfectly happy, despite just having been rescued by their authors, to let them carry the can.  Which was short-sighted, greedy and outright stupid. They sold their author’s long term credibility and help for… a few more months of gouging. Why shouldn’t they do so? There are lots more authors.

The trouble is there are lots more people prepared to nick things from greedy gougers than there are from battlers. The Robin Hood syndrome lives on.  So publishers, rather than admit that, well, authors got the smallest share, and were often struggling stay afloat, let them take the blame for truly exploitative pricing… making ‘piracy’ Okay by a lot of people. Because to admit they took in excess of 90%, would make publishers and retailers look bad, and to show gratitude to those gullible readers and authors for the rescue would have meant giving more to the authors, and have meant keeping prices low.

So now… self-published authors have every incentive to keep their prices low, and to be open about what they earn and what they spend. Because if they earn well, people think they’re rewarding the good guys. If they don’t look greedy, the readers are more likely to chip in…

And the legacy publishers are in direct competition. Which leaves no space for the historical squirming, ducking, diving and secrecy and letting authors carry the can, that typified publishing.

There is still good money to be made — as publishers can and should retail directly from their own websites (offering perks, ARCs and freebies with the books) and charging perhaps as much as 15% for newbies off Amazon rates for providing services which take the hassle out of it for authors, letting the author write and not waste time on publicity or admin or covers and finding good proof-readers and editors.

It would end up leaner, and a lot more profitable. And very very different. Kind of like jacking up the radiator cap and the hood ornament, and replacing the entire rest of the vehicle, but still calling it the same make of automobile.

However, I’ll bet the legal department and HR and accounting stay… and the real editor gets the push.

Or what do you think?

A Time For Black Swans

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A Black Swan Event (the expectation at least proverbially being that all swan’s are snow-white) is defined as something happening that no one could have anticipated from what went on before.

The problem I have with these is that it’s almost 100% not true that no  one could have anticipated them.  Take this list for instance:  5 Top Black Swan Events In History.

For instance, I think if our agencies were able to talk to each other, the 9/11 attack might have been thwarted.

I also think only a blind person, or one determined to believe propaganda would fail to get that the USSR WOULD collapse in the near future. I mean, maybe people less jaded than my 14 year old self actually believed the Soviet Life glossy photos. I know CIA agents did, but they’re a particularly gullible breed, after all.

Which in turn brings us to the point of this post: black swan events are not precisely unforeseeable.  They are unforeseeable for a certain set of people, in a certain set of circumstances.

So, say, for the sake of argument, that a king-emperor has forbidden a certain alien religion in his planet and therefore has made any mention of that religion punishable with death.

Chances are that he hasn’t actually stopped the spread of the religion. He merely sent it underground, and MORE IMPORTANTLY made himself blind to its continuous existence and spread.

I’ve spoken in the past about the ridiculousness of the times we live in, in which “nobody knows anything” — btw, I suspect that it was true of most of the modern era, but our ancestors thought they knew. Since there was total control of the news by left-leaning outfits, the “news” might be bovine excreta, but since there was no break in the propaganda, people would think they knew the truth (much like our college students) — and about how on anything from population numbers (even in our own country, let alone globally) we’re flying by instruments to oh, natural resources.

I’ve talked in the past about how this is a human tendency. We like to at least pretend everything is going according to plan, and therefore if we can’t put out the fire, we break the fire alarm, and go to sleep.

What I haven’t talked about is how totalitarians of EVERY STRIPE, including our own left, want to silence not just fire alarms, but even alarm clocks.

Look, perhaps it is because today’s left, is at war with reality. Take its dogmatic shibboleths — men and women are exactly alike and there is no difference (for instance) — or that holocaust survivors have “White privilege” or that the most pampered, catered to and appeased women, in an American society that’s effectively a matriarchy are the victims of “patriarchy”.

Because their dogma varies so much from the truth, they feel a need to control the language, how people think, and ultimately everything. And if they can’t control you, they try to silence you. Hence “cancel culture.”

The problem with this, as we’re seeing with China, is that if you suppress information, you’re going to end up in the middle of black swan events with disturbing reality. And they might very well be lethal to a large portion of humanity.

Why?

Well, because the world is interconnected now. True isolation might be impossible. Which means not just viruses, but violent criminals and some day perhaps weapons of mass destruction can and do cross back and forth.

I’ve said before that it’s impossible to have a welfare state and open borders.

I’m going to announce another of those things that don’t work together: we cannot have an interconnected world, with trade and border crossing with secrecy, distortion and thought control.

Totalitarianism is incompatible with modern technology and global civilization.

Countries and groups that insist on being totalitarian should be isolated and limited until they’ve proven they can be trusted. By which of course I don’t mean they should be “cancelled” but that all interaction with them needs to be careful, limited and on the basis of “Verify and don’t trust.”

Because people at war with reality have set themselves up for black swan events. And what they don’t see coming could kill them.

And if we’re associated with them, it could kill us too.

Fisking “White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo” – Part One – Fisked by Adedayo Dayo

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Fisking “White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo” – Part One – Fisked by Adedayo Dayo*

Don’t ask what compels me to embark on this journey of self-flagellation. I can’t put my finger on it just yet. I thought it was curiosity at one point, especially given the work of others who’ve been examining the work of people like Ms. DiAngelo for the last few years for the same reason I picked up her book: to understand what makes people who are invested fully in identity politics tick.

I don’t know about you, but the gauntlet of reaction upon hearing the phrase “identity politics” runs thusly: surprise, disbelief, defensiveness, annoyance, anger, mockery, and boredom, all overshadowed by that nagging sense of unease and horror. I’m now in the boredom stage, and at the same time the choice to dig deeper is a strong one. One of the authors of the Grievance Studies controversy from 2018 has posted numerous examples on DiAngelo’s published work, sp it was inevitable that I would want to look into it myself.

All that being said, brace yourself for a roller-coaster ride. This isn’t in an amusement park, though – this is in the middle of a bloody swamp and the ride is haunted with woke projection. At some point during this journey you may see a hierarchy pyramid and perhaps a buzzword bingo game, but a majority of it will be focusing on the text itself. Thankfully you will not hear the cussing, the thunk of the book hitting a wall numerous times, and the unintelligible mutterings of this post author delving into the work. Consider yourself fortunate in that regard.

These ceremonials in honor of white supremacy,

performed from babyhood, slip from the

conscious mind down deep into muscles . . .

and become difficult to tear out.

LILLIAN SMITH, Killers of the Dream (1949)

Cute. You know what else is muscle memory? Getting up everyday to go to work.

Oh, lookie here! The Foreword is written by one Michael Eric Dyson. You know who he is, right? Professional black rights agitator? Purported orator of black truths? Speaker For The Aggrieved Non-White Activist? This should be a doozy.

One metaphor for race, and racism, won’t do. They are, after all, exceedingly complicated forces. No, we need many metaphors, working in concert, even if in different areas of the culture through a clever division of linguistic labor.

This, dear reader, should clue you in from the get-go on the game. As you’ll see, before we even reach the first chapter, the goal is to let you familiarize yourself with the new definitions of common words. Why new definitions, you ask? That’s an excellent question. Don’t ask me if an answer’s forthcoming from Dyson or DiAngelo, however.

Race is a condition. A disease. A card. A plague. Original sin.

This is also a clue. Am I the only one who’s noticed an uptick in the social justice activists’ inability to avoid presentism when publicly airing the grievances they’re trying to make right? I can’t say I know any Calvinists personally, but surely they’re just as annoyed about the theft of their schtick for something as lowly as, uh, race.

For much of American history, race has been black culture’s issue; racism, a black person’s burden. Or substitute any person of color for black and you’ve got the same problem.

Now I may be a glutton for punishment, but this raised my hackles. I literally identify as a non-white person. Race has never been an issue for my culture, and racism has never been my burden. Why is Dyson trying to saddle me with this crap?

Whiteness, however, has remained constant. In the equation of race, another metaphor for race beckons; whiteness is the unchanging variable.

There’s your problem, mate – your metaphor SUCKS. The variable is not the constants in the equation. If “whiteness” = x, what exactly are you trying to solve?

Further down, Dyson says,

To be sure, like the rest of race, whiteness is a fiction, what in the jargon of the academy is termed a social construct, an agreed-on myth that has empirical grit because of its effect, not its essence. But whiteness goes even one better: it is a category of identity that is most useful when its very existence is denied. That’s its twisted genius. Whiteness embodies Charles Baudelaire’s admonition that “the loveliest trick of the Devil is to persuade you that he does not exist.”

THUNK.

I’m not sure I can even even right now, and we’re still on the foreword. I can’t tell if Dyson is trying to say that since race is a social construct, he’s simply blowing smoke up the audience’s collective derriere or wielding his currently favorite social construct like a bat is simply a means to a particular end. Bueller? Buh? Wait, is he saying Whitey’s the devil here? I mean, white devils still exist, and normally they wear hoods.

DiAngelo brilliantly names a whiteness that doesn’t want to be named, disrobes a whiteness that dresses in camouflage as humanity, unmasks a whiteness costumed as American, and fetches to center stage a whiteness that would rather hide in visible invisibility.

Oh, there’s the end: black agitator just made up a problem in need of a solution.

DiAngelo joins the front ranks of white antiracist thinkers…

Be aware, dear readers, that “antiracist” has a particular meaning in the vocabulary of identity politics. Hint: it’s actually a mantra, not a technical meaning one could find under “anti,” “racist” or “antiracist” in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary.

Robin DiAngelo is the new racial sheriff in town. She is bringing a different law and order to bear upon the racial proceedings.

Remember what I said about redefining new words? Consider this confirmation of what to expect – because following this racial chicken salad is an Author’s Note from DiAngelo herself, laying out more key phrases that are vital to her cause.

This book is unapologetically rooted in identity politics. I am white and am addressing a common white dynamic. I am mainly writing to a white audience; when I use the terms us and we, I am referring to the white collective. This usage may be jarring to white readers because we are so rarely asked to think about ourselves or fellow whites in racial terms. But rather than retreat in the face of that discomfort, we can practice building our stamina for the critical examination of white identity—a necessary antidote to white fragility. This raises another issue rooted in identity politics: in speaking as a white person to a primarily white audience, I am yet again centering white people and the white voice.

Please note that I am NOT white and yet the simple prose here is not only jarring; it evokes no small amount of horror and anger at the way she singles out one group for the sin that their skin color is purportedly dominant in our country. The hilariously ironic thing is, it’s not easy to distance myself from the emotions which respond to the underlying premise here. And I’m not her target audience. However, that – my not being white – is also a shield from behind which to examine DiAngelo’s claims with some modicum of objectivity.

I must, and I can. Look – you may find my internal agonizing to be self-inflicted, but this is a choice. In order to repudiate and overcome the premise of white privilege, the poison of which has infected every corner of our culture over the last several years, people who’ve seen, read and heard its effects need to know what we’re all facing.

Colorblindness (showing no partiality to race or skin color) is anathema to the advocates of social justice and critical theory.

Privilege and intersectionality must be addressed, they assume, by complaining about it incessantly instead of striving for actual equality.

If you shine a light in the darkness, especially this patch of darkness, knowing what our ideological opponents’ endgame is.

Make no mistake: this is an ideology, sometimes with deadly consequences. More often than not, this ideology has cost people their livelihoods and destroyed their professional reputations, our dear hostess Sarah among their number.

So pardon me for taking this fight directly to them in a manner that doesn’t require bloodshed. Knowledge, after all, is power, and an ideology that focuses on power imbalances shouldn’t mind another dynamic being thrown in the mix, right?

Stay tuned for more.

*I let my guests pick their names and was so tired I put it up. I know why my friend thought that was an appropriate name. She’s mad at herself for reading this tripe, but REALLY it detracted from the article, so I made her use a real name. I’m mean that way.

A Shining City On the Hill

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Throughout most of history, men who believe themselves superior or “elites” have believed that other men were born saddled and ready to be ridden.

The alpha male who rules over the band is, after all, a fixture of ape bands. It’s that “made on an ape frame” again.

I want to make this very clear: throughout most of history, whether king or high priest, whether Emperor or conqueror, whether nobility or oligarchy humans were subjected to someone, and to those that worked for that person/worked under the authority of that person or group of people. It was, you might consider, the “natural order of things.”  Truly the natural order, since it comes from nature.

And this is what’s important to know: Socialism (“democratic, purple, or pokadotted” — snort — ) and communism are not different. They follow the ultimate rule of humanity of an elite who considers itself superior ruling over everyone else.

It is no coincidence that in Europe the “sons and daughters of good families,” the remnants of nobility, (and in the States themselves, the old families and the blue bloods) are usually socialist, communist, and in support of an oligarchy of rulers over the mass of humanity.

Oh, the old excuses have changed. Humans are good at excuses (the problem, of course, was teaching the ape to talk. Not to vocalize, but to abstract. Abstractions and generalizations are slippery. Lies are not far behind.)

After the American revolution, and more so after the French, and after the toppling of kings and nobles that soaked Europe in blue blood, it was not ah…. advisable to talk of nobility of birth. It was not done.

Instead, the noblemen, the “good people” made themselves into a nobility of “service.”  They became “public servants”, following “the will of the people.” (For service in this case, you should understand what a bull does to a cow.)

You see, they weren’t stupid — yes, sure, some royal lines got so inbred they were almost as stupid as your average Woke college student — because stupid people don’t keep their hands on the reins and their spurs in the flank of the mass of their fellow men. And certainly not after the idea of the divine right of kings and nobility of birth tumbled to the dirt (if not before when Louis XVI’s head coughed in the basket. But you could argue it started with the black plague, which laid waste commoner and nobility alike and both destroyed some of the older and more cunning families, and the very idea that as long as you obeyed these people you’d be okay.  Ideas take time to percolate through cultures. You can draw a straight line from the Black Plague to the age of revolutions, but it’s a slow one.)

They realized — none better — that common property and common good don’t administer themselves. They also realized — again none better — that he who has the command of the property is the de-facto owner.  And so they installed themselves as administrators, as bureaucrats.  In Europe, where indicators of class in both clothing and manner remain, and where there is often an innate respect for those of “good birth” who can name their ancestors, and have pictures on their walls going back generations, they compose entire ruling classes, “elected” but both sides of the spectrum (all sides of the spectrum) really a nobility, a group of “elites” who trade power between them and who agree that the dear little people, the commoners, should never be given any real power.

I can see your lips start to curl, as you say it’s not so different here.  This is true, to an extent. (Not all extents. There is still a difference between the parties, and one at least might be reclaimable. You never get to choose between cake and death. Sometimes you choose the less lethal poison until you can pour it into the plant and get rid of the poisoners.)  We have for our sins, and partly because of the twentieth century idea that society was like a machine, that we could centralize power and control the economy and the people in social and economic engineering, and that would make everyone better off — and partly because of Soviet propaganda, the only thing they were ever good at. A Russian trait from time immemorial — created a vast bureaucratic class, credentialed and indoctrinated, and with both of those things sneeringly sure they’re better than the rest of humanity and the rest of humanity wants — needs — to be ruled.

You hear it in the sneering disdain of their voices when they talk of “populism” and in the whining of unelected bureaucrats affronted that the duly elected president differs from them.  You hear it in their disdain for “meritocracy.” (They prefer credentialism, mostly brought in under the pretense of eliminating “racism” but really to eliminate the possibility of the wrong people getting power; of the pushy sons of the bourgeoisie grabbing the reins as they did after the Black Plague and unseating the correctly anointed ones.) You see it in their slandering and destroying of any who oppose them. And most of them (not their willing and pathetic dupes who are merely moronic outcasts or envious “intellectuals”) are people of “pedigree.”  You explain to me, after listening for ten seconds to crazy Uncle Joe Bribem how else someone whose contact with reality is thread thin someone like that was elected or got power.  You explain to me how someone like (Malig)Nancy Pelosi, who is drunk 99% of the time, and not too bright the rest of it (I swear to you, though I can no longer find the video that the idiot crossed herself in a mosque in Syria when she visited to tell them that Bush was a meanie and the democrats lorrrrved them.) It’s just a class thing. They’ve established a ruling class. And though the present scions are often dumber than rocks, they have the cunning and the desire to rule us.

Here’s the thing: they never gave up on communism. They never admitted the horror it was, and honestly a failure at providing luxuries for the elites. Sure, the elites in the USSR lived worse than the middle class in the free world, but THAT’s not the point. The point is that they lived much better than those around them, and it provided them with a sense of their innate and invincible superiority. That’s meat and drink to them. That’s what they actually live for: their rightful place in the world.

In Europe, they’ve managed to convince the majority of people that they need socialism. That a heavy bureaucratic welfare state is in fact the ONLY way to live.  Which is why social-democrat is usually the most to the right that the spectrum goes. (To idiots reading that, no, it’s not democratic socialism. The “right wing” of Europe is a welfare state, with enough taxes taken to hold people captive and enough services given to have a serf class that will protest at the state being unseated or reduced.  So, in terms of “socialism” it is a pale pink. Call it bureaucratism and put it in as the percurse to socialism.) Note even at homeopathic doses, socialism kills. The European heavy tax, pervasive regulation and welfare state makes it impossible for people to actually reproduce. It makes it hopeless to try to move out of your socially assigned place.  Call it feudalism with contraception and without religion. It means that the populations of Europe are dying. The self-hatred induced by Soviet Propaganda doesn’t help. Europe is a vast old-age home. The imports… well, they reflect the socialist idea that people are interchangeable and cultures don’t matter. That’s for another time.

Here, though they have captured all media, all education, the news and entertainment and every branch of what you could call “the information industries” they haven’t fully managed to capture the people.  (In Europe, too, to be fair, there are signs of rebellion. But Europe is different.)  Oh, sure, we’ve been regulated and hemmed in, and told to stay in our lane, but we remember we once were free men.  And we have a constitution we can consult if needed, which tells us the measure of what we’ve lost, but also lets us dream of what could be regained.

This is quite different from the indoctrinated sleep walkers who have been lead to believe they are “elites” but who in fact are donning the saddles for their masters to ride to power — journalists and writers, grievance mongers and “scholars.” My only consolation is that should you achieve your aims — however briefly — you’ll be up against a wall before I am. Because your masters don’t trust you. Nor should day, you quisling traitors willing to turn in your freedom for lack of responsibility. The only ones of you I pity are those minorities — social, racial, intellectual and others — indoctrinated to think that the powerful socialist state will make people accept you. But even you, I do not forgive. You are — most of you — literate, and should be able to read the history of the regimes you wish for. Yes, I know, some of you believe that the welfare states of Europe are both “socialist” and “more accepting.” I enjoin you, for your own life, to learn the language and go over with no money,  and sit in bars and cheap restaurants listening to the people talk. It will be an education about those oh, so accepting Europeans. A cheap one, compared to turning in your birth right for a firing squad.

ANY centralized and powerful state oppresses minorities of all kinds. To say that kings and church oppressed your kind and therefore you need socialism/communism, is like saying that you have a hang nail and to cure it, you’re going to cut off your head. And this information is not on the moon, that you can’t reach it. All it takes is stepping outside your comfort zone and your self-reinforcing bubble. Again, your life might depend on it.

The reason our land, our constitution our form of government is already half-lost (what on Earth do you think the compact against the electoral college is? It allows the vortexes of fraud, controlled by the left machine to control the entire country.) the reason one of the likely candidates for the presidency wants to shred our Constitution — the basis for our existence — and open the borders to the serfs and peasantry of every land in the world is because we are the obstacle in their pursuit of their ultimate dream.

One would laugh, if it weren’t so bitter, but the same “elites” who under another name caused WWI have convinced people that nationalism is a problem, and want to create a super-state encompassing the world.

This has nothing to do with lack of war. Trust me, in the middle ages, Christendom warred enough within itself, though technically under the sway of the same super entity.

No. This is because the larger the centralized entity, and the wealthier, the less accountability it has.

With stars in their eyes our “superiors” see the idea of ruling the world and having no one to control them. Of course half of those ‘betters’ are merely the shock troops of the old families, reaching for control once more.  The sleep walkers, moving towards their city of creams, without realizing nightmare waits them.

The new promises involve things like paying off student loans, and having “health-care” for free.  And these people must never have read fairy tales, because they never ask what the words mean, and what it costs.

Even some of my fellow libertarians have started mouthing things like “most people don’t want liberty.”  Oh, that’s not true. It’s that they’ve been told they can have liberty without responsibility. Ninety percent of the younger people who call themselves socialists don’t realize they’ll pay for it, or that their personal lives and choices will be interfered with.

They imagine that they will have endless leisure, to pursue their “dreams” and lack the self awareness to know that dreams that don’t have the spur of reality are just a way to get lost in meaninglessness. They also don’t seem to understand that if they are a charge, not a credit, to a vast, impersonal state, they will in the end be disposed and disposed of as the elite decides. They don’t realize this is just the long way back to a techno-feudalism worse than anything their ancestors endured because not mitigated by Christianity which assigns each individual value simply for existing. Marxism has no such value.

And so, they will tear down the last best thing on Earth, and hasten to put chains on themselves, convinced this will make them free.

At this point, I must trust in the turning point of technology, which despite the giants does give the individual power it hasn’t had since the age of agriculture, and also the ability to once more own his/her own means of production in at least a great measure. I must trust in the fact that our would be elites are in fact the end of a long non-meritocratic process, meaning that they misspell their own names three times out of four, and are also completely unable to cope with the changes in technology and society.

Arrayed against us are very old human instincts, the machinations of people who might not be good at anything but are very good at achieving power, the fears of indoctrinated fools who’ve been convinced every hand in a free society is against them, the hopes of even more pathetic fools who think that they’ll be the special and cherished pets of an all powerful and centralized state.

All we have is our Constitution, our history, and the certainty that free men, acting in their individual best interests have almost eliminated poverty and created — for all its flaws — the fairest and most accepting society Earth has ever seen.

All we have against the lies of old is our shining city upon a hill, which cannot be torn down, because even if occluded by the chains of totalitarianism (it’s come close before) it lives on in the hearts of free men and women everywhere.

It won’t be simple. It won’t be easy. And you and I who’ve rounded the corner of fifty will almost surely not see even the edge of victory on this, unless a miracle occurs.

But we must do what we can. So the future is not like the past. So our yet-unborn descendants taste freedom. It’s all we can do. And it’s a glorious destiny.

In the end we win, they lose, but the end is a long way off. Be not afraid.

 

 

 

 

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike and Book Promo

Book Promo

*Note these are books sent to us by readers/frequenters of this blog.  Our bringing them to your attention does not imply that we’ve read them and/or endorse them, unless we specifically say so.  As with all such purchases, we recommend you download a sample and make sure it’s to your taste.  If you wish to send us books for next week’s promo, please email to bookpimping at outlook dot com. If you feel a need to re-promo the same book do so no more than once every six months (unless you’re me or my relative. Deal.) One book per author per week. Amazon links only. Oh, yeah, by clicking through and buying (anything, actually) through one of the links below, you will at no cost to you be giving a portion of your purchase to support ATH through our associates number. That helps defray my time cost of about 2 hours a day on the blog, time probably better spent on fiction. ;)*

FROM PAM UPHOFF:  Cyborgs.

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Eldon is a reformed cross-dimensional criminal. A genetically engineered Wizard. A movie star (Hey, a guy’s got to earn a living somehow!) a father figure to a batch of kids (he’s a sucker for any kid) and working with the government on their attempts at opening dimensional portals.
So here’s this body guard escaping through a portal with the royal prince and princess from the Cyborgs that are on the verge of conquering their world . . . And there’s no way Eldon isn’t going to help a couple of kids in danger.

FROM LEIGH KIMMEL: Starlight Running.

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Eight lives depend on Kyle’s desperate trek across the Moon to get help. But someone — or something — intends for him to fail. Can he defeat it in time?

FROM MARY CATELLI: Fever and Snow.

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A short story of a curse, a king, and a child.

A warlord of fire can lay curses of fever. A woman of snow can freeze a man to death.

Pierre, knight of the king, is burning with fever from the curse of the warlord when he learns a possibility that might save him — and the kingdom. It turns on a child.

[And ALL of you, see me about covers. SERIOUSLY.]

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike.

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it! For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

We recommend that if you have an original vignette, you post that as a new reply. If you are commenting on someone’s vignette, then post that as a reply to the vignette. Comments — this is writing practice, so comments should be aimed at helping someone be a better writer, not at crushing them. And since these are likely to be drafts, don’t jump up and down too hard on typos and grammar.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is: Second.

Just A Silly Thing

 

I’m very busy — car shopping. Our car died. Poor thing was 22 years old. It would probably have been fine, if we’d remembered to check the oil. We needed it to last ONE MORE YEAR, but hey, we’ll deal — and also woke up with an infernal head cold.

DIL says we should take this year back for a refund, and she ain’t wrong.

Anyway, yesterday I was looking for something on Pixabay and came across a couple of images that are SUCH perfect SF/f covers.  So I wrote like paragraphs about it. And I thought I’d share. No, they’re not novels. Maybe some day, but not right now. More likely, honest, they’ll be short stories. So, this is just to amuse you with the situations.

This one is from user Darksouls who has some pretty nifty stuff. I started following him years ago when most of his stuff was obvious photoshop and not very artistic. He’s gotten better.  I’ve NO idea what those creatures are (I’m tragically D & D lore impaired) but I came up with a paragraph I put up on FB with this picture:

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“Them?” She looked at me like I was a total idiot. “Don’t be silly. They’re not dangerous. At least not to me. I’ve had them since they were babies. They were too cute to kill, when I shot their mother. They’re fine. Worry about the Other instead. They’re signaling he came this way.”

The bottom one is this, from user Black Dog.

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“Are you sure this will get us a human to take back to supreme leader?” Xyzv asked. “Wouldn’t it better for us to just kidnap them by sucking them into our spaceship as usual.”

“No. Shut up. Supreme Leader wants a human male. This will do it.”

“But why? WHY would he come to a back alley to look for a mate? Surely there are better females in–”

Vilia blushed. “Trust me, okay. It’s a human thing.”

“I told Supreme Leader he should not have kept the foundlings and raised them. The only good human is a dissected human.” Xyzv muttered.

Vilia sighed. And she’d thought they were friends.

Unicorn Farts Is No Basis For a System of Government

Hello boys and girls, dragons, minotaurs and tadpoles! There are concepts so obviously and moronically evil, whose proponents use such irrational and ridiculous arguments to defend them, that the only way to comment on them is with gifs. Lots and lots of gifs.

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I know you maniacs like it!

This is because when people think closing their minds, ignoring the lessons of history and stomping their little hooves while saying “but I want it” is a rational argument, the only thing a rational human being can do is treat them as they’re acting: like toddlers.

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But I want magical democratic socialism. I want it!

I don’t know about you but I am certainly not going to let myself be ruled by tantrums. I didn’t let my kids do it, and I’m not about to let theoretical adults, some whom I remember used to be sort of sane, do it. You act like a toddler, I’m going to point and laugh.

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It will be a bitter laugh, because the aim of your tantrum is to enslave and kill me, my friends, my family and my country. So, let’s say we are not amused. However laughing at you is better than giving you what you’re asking for.

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No, this is not a threat. Mostly because we think you’re stupid and impotent. Not because wanting to add to the 100 million plus body count of Marxian ideologies doesn’t deserve it.

So, count yourself lucky, okay?

To begin with, and even though Larry has done this on facebook, let’s talk about what socialism actually is:
Screenshot_2020-02-20 Definition of SOCIALISM
Oh, wait! What is this I hear?  Socialism is an intermediate stage between capitalism and communism?  Okay, then. Let’s figure out what communism is, okay?
Screenshot_2020-02-20 Definition of COMMUNISM

Note Merriam-Webster says that it was the official doctrine of the USSR and also that it was a form of Marxian socialism.
I know, I know, I’m being a meanie, because this is what the other side says they want:

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I didn’t say those things, I said I wanted DEMOCRATIC socialism!

You know…. It’s funny because I grew up in a system with SOCIAL democrats, and Christian democrats and well… yes, socialists. Did I ever tell you I once demonstrated to keep the corrupt and horrible socialist leader from being arrested. You see the other two had been arrested, and the Maoists had seized power, and… Never mind.
Back to the topic.  What I never heard of, or saw head or tail of, nor even a little hair is democratic socialism. So no matter how much you tell me about it, I’ll assume it’s this:
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You want a system in which all assets are controlled in common….. and you want to take them …. democratically. And this is better than normal socialism, because?   Do you mean that if a majority votes, or you can fraud enough to vote to take everyone’s stuff away….  people will just LET you? How does that work? Other than with massive force, executions and all the horrors of socialism?

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You might want to follow the link on the image. You might also want to follow this link: http://www.paulbogdanor.com/left/rothbard.pdf

What does the DEMOCRATIC before the socialism do? Put party hats on all those skulls?
Look, let’s be honest, if “democratic socialism is where we ALL agree to share everything” you don’t actually need elections. All of us can just share everything, becoming a 300 million strong self-abnegating commune, where — unlike Bernie in the commune he once belonged to — everyone pulls their weight. VOLUNTARILY.
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The only reason to have elections, is to capture the government. And what does the government give you? Force. If all those evil capitalists don’t agree to share, you’ll steal
expropriate it, because those evil capitalists stole it from the people, right, so you’re just taking it back.

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This guy is also a victim of society, doing some redistribution. JUST ASK HIM.

So, how do you intend to have your happy fun “democratic” socialism, which is all happy fun, and everyone gives everything and is taken care of by government?

Yeah, yeah, I know “millionaires and billionaires, and no one should be a billionaire.”

Leaving aside the fact that you are more ignorant of economics than virgins are of sex, do you know what happens the minute you elect your happy fun redistributing MILLIONAIRE socialist, who wants to abolish billionaires?

Before the ink is dried on your happy fun socialist declaration, this is what the billionaires take to go far far away from your rules and expropriation, taking ALL their money with them:
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And this is what other countries do to people with lots of money to invest:

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And then when you demand that we give you the money we make BY WORKING so you can sit at home playing games and smoking pot?…. er, I mean, working on your art.

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And then we too decide to stay home and er…. work on our art.

sleep
I’ll have you know all my naps are VERY artistic

After which you get to enjoy equality with everyone else, because what you don’t get to do is enslave us. Which is why in the end all socialist countries look like this:
cuba

Because no matter how much you vote that I should work and give you the stuff I work for, I’m not going to do it.

And no, civic duty doesn’t cover that. A vow of poverty, driven by extreme religious fervor might cover that, but most of us aren’t monks.

Unless we’re this kind of monk:

drinking monk

Also, when things are owned by the people, do you know who in fact gets to choose what’s done with them?  The people, you say?  Oh, you’re going to ask every person in America what they want to do with every paper clip? And how much bread should be made? and which kinds of toothpaste are needed?

No, of course you’re not. So in the end, in effect, things are owned by the people who get to tell you what to do. These people.

dictators

Look them up. All of them at some point called themselves socialist. And democrat. Heck, East Germany called itself democratic too. People were democratically free to die trying to jump the wall to a place where they might actually, you know, be able to feed themselves and their children and not be spied on by government.

But you think that democratic socialism is “free”.  That means you think people will give you things for free, and you’ll be free to live as you want without, you know, having to work to survive. Working is for those other people who aren’t as special as you are.I want it now

Except of course, in the end, your regime is free of food, free of homes, free…. oh, hell, just ask Venezuela.
Which is why we look at your tantrum, and because we don’t want to kill you, we go:
laugh

And then you serious intellectual that you are

thinking

You bring out the big logic.  How can we be afraid of democratic socialism, when without socialism we wouldn’t have anything?
socialism

At which point of course we:

bullshit

Let’s see… all government….  Sounds legit!

spqr
Obviously that stood for Socialist Pigs of Rome. The Q is there just for decoration.

Our Military…. As misused as our military has been…. You might want to check that antiquated document, the Constitution, which tells you that one of the few things our Federal government is legally allowed to do is provide for the common defense. If you think the founding fathers were socialists, you should put down the crack pipe. That stuff is bad for you.
Also you know…. These guys had armies:

egyptian
Millennia before Marx, the Egyptians were socialists! Wow. Considering they had slaves and are  rumored to have committed genocide, I can see the resemblance, but no.

Air Travel?

you don't say

I grant you that the TSA resembles a socialist police system: Venal, annoying, and UTTERLY ineffective. And that socialists put all sorts of restrictions on travel of all sorts. But it’s entirely possible that you don’t understand: restricting things is not the same as inventing them or creating them.

no, seriously
No, SERIOUSLY. Without the TSA security theater, airplanes would STILL fly. We CALL them the laws of physics. It doesn’t mean government passed them.

Driving?  DRIVING?

smoking weed
Dude, smoking pot in those quantities is NOT good for you. Restricting things is NOT the same as ENABLING them. Check any dictionary.

WATER? Okay, you’re not smoking pot. You’re sniffing glue.

sniffing glue
Look, socialists are not saints, who make water bubble up from the Earth. AND again, DUDE, the laws of physics are not laws in the LEGAL sense.

Public schools….  Er…. No. I mean, those existed under the Kaiser, who last I checked wasn’–  You know what? That’s fine. You want to claim public schools are socialism? Fine. Take the public schools away. I think kids will learn more by running wild and painting graffiti than they do in public schools. At least they won’t be taught socialist propaganda.  So, without socialism, not public schools?  Oh, let me see…

fine by me

Big bank bailouts.
Wait. You think that non-leftists WANT big bank bailouts?

ahahah

Border patrol?????
Wait, what? PUT DOWN THE METH. There have been border patrols/guards since there have been humans. Even before humans. Chimps keep watch for other bands impinging on their territory, so I presume hominids did too. And no, that’s not socialism. If it were every monarchy would be socialist.

louis XIV
While he was a petty tyrant and stole a lot of money, AND had border patrols, he was not a — You know what? Sure, why not? You want to claim him? Sure, let’s call him a socialist. It still doesn’t make border patrols socialist. Particularly not “INTERNATIONAL and no borders socialist.”

TV and Radio?  What the actual hell? Even meth doesn’t explain that. TV AND RADIO? Yeah, government (which note, is not the same as socialism) does regulate the airwaves, it certainly is not needed for TV and Radio to exist.
Look, I’m just not getting through to you, am I? Let me show you.

Screenshot_2020-02-20 Definition of REGULATE

Screenshot_2020-02-20 Definition of CREATE

See? I know that dictionaries are full of white privilege and stuff, but trust me on this, words mean things. And those two are not the same.

Also, btw, in socialism, radio and TV are not only tightly regulated, they’re CONTROLLED. And that’s if you can afford a TV you filthy kulak.
external-content.duckduckgo.com

Cell phones?

catgif

Refer to that definition above. Just because government regulates cell phones, it doesn’t make cell phones the PRODUCT of regulation, or of government, much less of socialism.

Police, fire protection, etc….  WHAT PART OF THAT is socialism?  You’re joking, right?

oh wait
Words have meanings. Socialism doesn’t mean “everything a society does.”  Look at the definition above.
Also, all of those predated Marx’s misbegotten ejection from his mother’s birth canal.

And then…. and then, OH DEAR LORD. MONEY.  You’re claiming the existence of money for socialism?

Egypt
Ptolemy IV Philopater Egypt Kingdom 221BC was a …. socialist?????

staring cat

greek
The Greek Antiochus III was a socialist!

cat shocked

alexAlexander the Great was a… socialist. Are you for real?

did it hurt
Did it hurt when they removed your brain?

Corporate subsidies are socialism?  Well… okay, so you’re claiming crony capitalism as part of socialism?
Fine by me.  Cool. It’s not, of course, but it’s a redistribution scheme, and if you want to claim it, I’m okay with it.

i'll allow
Well, nor really. We should stop it. But I’ll allow you to call them socialist.

Federal disaster relief?  What the actual f*ck. Which part of federal disaster relief is… Oh, you mean because it’s financed by taxes? So you think anything funded by taxes is socialism? Because you think socialists invented taxes?

kidding

I mean, like everything the federal government does it’s inefficient and wasteful, but it’s not — no, really, I must insist — as bad as socialism.

Or do you think charity is socialism?

CH96323

The INTERNET? No. Sorry. Just no. Sure DARPAnet was a government effort. BUT the internet of cats and porn is NOT DARPAnet.

The internet built by socialists was the attempt at the internet the French were bragging about back in the seventies, which still hasn’t been implemented.

And again, just because it’s built by government, it doesn’t make it SOCIALIST.

platipus
A duck, built to government specifications

Patents? WHAT PART OF MAKING INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY PRIVATE is SOCIALISM, which doesn’t allow private property?
That …. might be the most stupid thing I’ve ever read. And keep in mind I’ve read the Communist Manifesto ….. Economic analysis by Paul Krugman, Paul Ehrlich’s predictions and a lot of socialist writers…

i'm not even mad

And safe food?
Yeah. Well, all the Romanian sausages made with sawdust and G-d knows what were completely safe. Socialism and all. And everyone knows that Communist (remember, it’s a matter of degree!) China is the safest place to get food EVER.

Look, you’ve probably done major brain damage already, but…

don't take drugs
If you stop now, you might preserve some brain function, maybe.

So, to summarize: You have no clue what socialism is, and insist on thinking that all government is socialist, but you want to smash the current system of … government and get “socialism?”

laugh4

You think that regulating something is the same thing as creating it.

laugh5

You think that a system that forbids private property enforces intellectual property.

spit

You’re completely ignorant of every socialist system ever, and think somehow being voted in (or frauded in) by a majority makes socialism happy fun, and will force almost EVERYONE in a society of 300 million to work like crazy to keep people who don’t want to work comfy. Instead of everyone, pretty much, deciding that work with no reward is not for them, since they’ll get the same either way.

judge

And you want to try socialism, because it will allow you to work on your art poetry play passion….

so much passion
so much passion!

And you refuse to understand that under socialism, the government and bureaucrats tell you what your “passion” is.

labor camp

BUT you really think, in your heart of hearts that we’re the only thing standing between you and success? And that you’re only failing because the capitalist system is unjust?

laugh1

And you THINK that if you help people institute this kind of government, they’re going to put you in charge or at least give you what you want?

laugh2

And you think that those of us who have experienced socialism before — and there’s a lot of us — are going to let you force us into it again, because you really, really, really want to?

laugh 3

impressed

And you know, it’s not your fault. Only someone who grew up in the freest, most prosperous nation on Earth could believe this nonsense !

there,there
Only someone who has never had to struggle for anything in his or her entire life could believe that the government is composed of angels wishing to look after him/her.

Only someone who never read or never understood 1984 could think that slavery is freedom.

In any other society, someone so arrant and arrogantly self centered and spoiled would have died or been killed years ago.

Congratulations. You are the product of a society so free that you’re ready to join the flock on the way to the abattoir.

sheep
#sheeppersisted

Fortunately for you, you pampered and self-deluded “socialist” a lot of us came from elsewhere and we know what socialism means, and to you we say:

you shall not pass

Glasses and Public Education

cat-984097_1920

Maybe tomorrow. I need to go to the Springs to get my new glasses. TRUST me, you want me to get my new glasses.
So, while I’m gone, someone brush RES and the rest of you put on pants, okay.

Oh, and in answer to some idiot who asked that if I don’t like socialism, am I willing to give up government education?
Sure. Tomorrow.

Government education is NOT a law of nature, and nothing in the constitution really allows it.

My father and his siblings went to various school marms his parents paid for. They knew Latin by 10. I had the benefit of public education. My little Latin and small Greek didn’t come till adulthood. And I’m not nearly as educated as dad.

But won’t you think of inner city kids?

What? with graduation rates in minority-majority (eh) schools of 30% and most of those incapable of reading and even fewer of reading in English?  Letting them just roam around might achieve better results.

Also, trust me, most of the kids are not just prevented from reading. Immigrant kids are told they can never assimilate, that they’re oppressed and that this country is the worst in the world. (Trust me. They tried that on my kids, as well as education in Spanish.)

WHY do you hate minority immigrant kids so much you want them to be a permanent uneducated serf class?

The parents who care will arrange for kids to learn. Charities will arrange for the rest. States and cities might make their own arrangements. Some kids will fall through the cracks. As opposed to now?????

Sure, a public education is great for a country of immigrants. It helps foster common culture. Except when the common culture is hating the country you’re in, and a bunch of lies about its history.

Then it becomes an instrument of destruction.  And you want to know if I wish it were done away with? Why are you asking? Is this a trick?

Bah. Throw me in the briar patch.

Breaking Out a guest post by Helen Miller, RN

wuchang-4820703_1920

Breaking Out a guest post by Helen Miller, RN

It was the night after Christmas, a few years back, when I went back to work after a day off. I’d worked the night of Christmas Eve, and had Christmas night off. (This is important.) At that time, I worked as an RN in a long-term care facility connected to a hospital. This arrangement used to be common in small and medium-town hospitals. The facility and the hospital shared a kitchen, and the facility naturally used the hospitals’ labs and radiation equipment. The facility had two wings, and shared a connected dining room/activity room. I was the night nurse for one wing that night, and had one certified nursing assistant to help me with all resident cares that night.

When I took report, I was told that one resident, with early dementia, had tried to feed another resident, with late-stage Parkinson’s. The result was emesis in the dining room. Another resident had come back from a dinner out with family. Multiple residents had had family members in either for Christmas Day or the day after. One resident had had a fall in an urgent rush to get to the bathroom, but had only a couple of minor bruises – no broken bones or head injuries.

Part of being a night nurse means working with the CNA to do rounds – checking on residents, toileting residents, turning residents at risk for pressure ulcers, taking care of incontinent residents, talking to residents who are awake, preventing falls, and making sure residents stay clean, dry, and safe In addition, there are nursing tasks of assessing residents’ skin, changing dressings, auditing charts, doing tube feedings, giving medications, checking on ostomies, checking settings for oxygen concentrators, making sure that tracheal openings are cared for, etc. And all of this needs to be charted. Rounds take place every couple of hours.

On our first round, the resident who had Parkinson’s had loose stools – not uncommon, as people with late stage Parkinson’s frequently get medications to counter the natural constipation of late-stage Parkinson’s. His roommate also had loose stools, but had been been eating chocolates. We followed standard precautions, cleaned our patients, made the beds with fresh linens, washed with soap and water, and moved on.

(Standard precautions mean that you glove up before giving care. You always dispose of linens either by bringing the dirty linen cart directly to the door or by taking a closed plastic bag of dirty linens to the linen cart. You dispose of trash by taking a closed plastic bag to the trash cart. You dispose of the gloves. You then clean hands either with hand sanitizer or soap and water before you leave the room. Soap and water is mandatory after any bowel movement. You don’t take dirty anything from one room to another.)

A few rooms later, we came to a room where the occupants sat at separate tables in the dining room, both close to the table where our Parkinson’s patient sat.  When we went to turn one patient, she bolted upright, and projectile vomited. (Yes, we have black humor. The Exorcist was mentioned.) Suddenly, things looked worse. We were meticulous in cleaning up the resident, changing her linens, and in washing after. We then went to her roommate. She had projectile diarrhea as we turned her. “Well, shit. This is contagious, and it’s just a matter of time for us. We need to start more precautions.”

Contact plus precautions are used to keep from carrying contagious matter on your skin or clothes, and also are meant to help the caregiver not catch whatever the resident has. So I went to the other wing, got the isolation cart, grabbed a box each of gowns and procedure masks, and we continued on rounds, donning and doffing gowns and masks for each resident.

Over the course of the exhausting night, four more residents began to show symptoms. The other wing got a case, and used the other isolation cart, so chairs were put outside each room with gowns and gloves. We hauled around gowns and gloves. I called our nurse manager. Hospital infection control was notified. The county health department was notified. The state health department was notified. We continued rounds. I continued duties. There were no breaks for either of us between charting and rounding.

In the morning, my relief came. She had worked Christmas day, but not the day after. I started to give her report when she excused herself to the staff bathroom. I heard the unmistakable sounds of vomiting, and sent my relief home. This was the last shift she had been scheduled to work before leaving on a family trip to Jamaica two days later. (This is important.) Now I was working a sixteen hour shift. My nurse manager came in, and confirmed my orders – all residents to stay in their rooms, all meals on trays with disposable plates and flatware and cups, no communal meals, everyone to change gowns and gloves between each resident and to wash with soap and water between each resident. In between passing morning meds and helping to feed residents who needed feeding, I called an order for more gowns, masks, face shields, and still more gowns. I also doubled our order for trash bags and linen bags. I let the house supervisor (charge nurse for the entire hospital) know that we would probably need a lot more staff, as I expected my relief would not be the last to get the whatever it was. Soon one of the day CNAs ran for the staff bathroom, and left in tears – she couldn’t afford the time off, and we couldn’t afford to keep her on shift, even though we needed the hands.

We were authorized to collect samples of fresh stool and fresh emesis, and get them to the lab. It was a couple hours before I came on duty the next night that our fears were confirmed – Norovirus.

I was not the first staff member to note either loose stools or vomit, but I was the nurse who called it an outbreak, implemented precautions, and got the ball rolling. It had been too late from that moment in the dining room when one resident vomited in the dining room. Norovirus has an incubation period from eight hours to seventy-two hours (on average), a duration of one to three days, (on average), and a period of virus shedding after the patient has no more symptoms. That virus shedding can last up to three days. Norovirus can persist on objects for up to ten days, and it only takes five or so Norovirus particles to infect someone. Norovirus kills about 200,000 people a year around the world, most of them very young, very old, or with pre-existing conditions. Long-term care facilities are full of the very old and of people with pre-existing conditions.

The outbreak was exhausting. Nobody worked the entire outbreak. My usual night CNA was sick halfway through the second night. We paid bonuses to hospital nurses and techs who came over to work. I worked three nights in a row of either twelve or sixteen hour shifts, and then succumbed. (While I was giving report, I said, “Excuse me,” and went off and puked. I bleach wiped the staff bathroom, put on a fresh mask and gown, and finished report standing five feet from my colleague.)

At home, we had advance warning. I had called my husband, so we had bleach wipes, pads, garbage bags, Sprite, soda crackers, gelatin cups, Nuun tablets, and other sick kit supplies laid in. My husband had gone to the local pharmacy and bought a big box of nitrile gloves, and another of masks. He had pulled out the couch in the family room. Our master bedroom had an ensuite bathroom. When I got home, I stepped on the waiting towel, stripped as soon as I got in the door, and put my uniform and the towel in a garbage bag. My coat went in a separate garbage bag. My nursing bag went in a third garbage bag. My masked-and-gloved husband carried the garbage bags to the laundry room in the basement. I “skated” on bleach wipes to the slippers and bathrobe left out for me.

I went to the master bedroom, all stocked with supplies, put my phone to charge, and fell asleep. I was sick from both ends multiple times, and bleach wiped everything. I didn’t allow any of our family into the bedroom for 48 hours except my husband, who came masked and gloved into the bedroom while I was in the bathroom to take out garbage bags of garbage and dirty laundry, and plop a pile of clean sheets on the bed. I made the bed. I communicated with my family in the same house via phone. During the time I was in self-imposed quarantine, my mother had a stroke. I could only encourage her to go the hospital from a distance, as I couldn’t add virus exposure to a very vulnerable person. Nobody in our house got sick. Once I was symptom free, I maintained quarantine, but padded down and did bleach-heavy laundry. From the time I went home until I was eligible to go back to work was around five days.

Meanwhile, back at work, it was Norovirus. Everything was bleach wiped or steri-wiped. Anything that could be UV sterilized was UV sterilized. Fluids were encouraged. Linens were changed. Bottoms were cleansed. Gowns and masks and gloves were donned and doffed and disposed of. We didn’t lose a single resident out of a very vulnerable population. Of 53 residents, a total of 18 got sick, most in the first two days. Of 40 staff, a total of 20 got sick, most in the first two days. We used extra staff from the hospital. In the hospital proper, three patients got sick, and four staff.  Everybody who could work did work twelve to sixteen hour shifts for the ten days of the outbreak. And then worked some more after the outbreak. Everyone was exhausted.

Lessons learned:

  • Any outbreak will probably hit caregivers hardest, because they will have already been exposed by the time they realize that this is something unusual.
  • We were lucky – we were associated with a sister facility that could share staff with us if we offered bonuses. In a large outbreak, this isn’t possible.
  • Norovirus sucks. It can be shed before a patient has any symptoms. Even after staff no longer had symptoms, they had to wait 72 to report to duty, because of how long virus could be shed. It hasn’t been clarified how long novel corona virus will be shed before or after symptoms.
  • Norovirus sucks. Although the most common method of contamination is fecal (touching something contaminated and then touching the mouth, or eating something contaminated), aerosolized emesis (vomit) can cause Norovirus to act like an airborne or droplet contagion. From infection patterns on the Diamond Princess, it appears that the novel corona virus can cause airborne contamination. This is bad. Please don’t run and buy all the N95 respirators and filters – leave some for health care.
  • Having supplies in advance (and a bedroom with an ensuite bathroom) allowed me to do in-home quarantine. This isn’t possible in a large outbreak, because the supplies are needed by the medical facilities.
  • Taking care of an outbreak uses So. Many. Supplies. Disposable gowns. Disposable masks. Disposable face shields. Disposable gloves. Bleach wipes. Steri-wipes for equipment that cannot be bleached. Disposable plates and flatware. Disposable bottles and cups. Gelatin cups not needing refrigeration. Sleeves of soda crackers. Juice cups. Applesauce cups. Trash bags, laundry bags, so much extra linen, hot water, and laundry soap. More bleach.
  • The holiday brought food, guests, and outings. All potential sources of contamination. The ultimate primary source of contamination was never truly pinpointed. It was narrowed down to three possibilities—one of them was the hospital kitchen, but norovirus was not found on any surface there.
  • The staff member who went home sick first? Went to Jamaica on the planned vacation, because she was symptom free by then. Had a family member get sick on the plane. Had four extended family members sick at the all-inclusive resort. Mentioned that “they must have had it there, too, ‘cause lots of people were sick there.” Oy, vey. Really. I don’t care what your plans were. Don’t share the horrible stuff.
  • Over the next six months, we had multiple staff resignations. Exhausted staff still work, but may be lost to caregiving professions entirely after they have time to take stock. The night CNA I was with now works in a factory.
  • Long-term care centers, dormitories, casinos, and cruise ships are frequently the centers of outbreaks, because people have communal dining areas, and share hallways, and may share bathing spaces.

Some of this is applicable to the current outbreak—symptom-free does not mean that somebody will stop shedding virus. However many supplies you think are enough, double them. Then double them again. When I see the photos of staff in Wuhan going from room to room, I can only think that cross-contamination is occurring, and that they must be so very short on supplies.

Most of all, I know that terrible moment when you look at another staff member over a sick patient and realize, “This is contagious, this is awful, and we have been exposed. It’s only a matter of time for us.” And then you keep working until you can’t, because you are needed more than ever.

Do me a favor? Please cover your cough, and wash your hands. It’s still flu season.

Helen Miller, RN works as a staff nurse in a hospital, and has worked in long-term and skilled care nursing.