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Three Years On
Yesterday was the 3rd anniversary of the press conference that announced the lockdown protocols. Maybe you’ve seen the video of Fauci, et al., describing their recommendations with strange laughter and dissonant enthusiasm. Two weeks. Spread, stopped.
My memories of the early lockdowns are not bad. Strange, unnerving — but not bad, not yet. Daughter was home from college, a refugee, and it was just grand to have her back. We had an exchange student from Barcelona, who was unflappable. I was an essential worker, so I was able to move around downtown, my papers tucked in my pocket in case I was stopped. The grocery store was the only place besides the office I visited, and it was surreal — all that fresh produce, the distant mood music, the empty expanses where flour and pasta were once stocked. We made bread and homemade spaghetti and played games. When you walked the dog you crossed the street if someone was coming towards you. When you woke you checked for symptoms that might have announced themselves overnight.
The news was bad, of course. Not enough ventilators. Hospitals crushed, although nurses had time to do TikTok dances. The news was full of red arrows. Emergency morgues and mass graves dug, just in case. But at the end of two weeks, you felt as though this wasn’t the plague we’d all feared. Bad, yes. But the world was still turning. The lights and gas didn’t fail because the utility workers were dying. The stores didn’t close because the clerks were huddled home, sick. Eric Idle was not coming down the street with the cart shouting BRING OUT YOUR DEAD. This wasn’t the movie “Contagion,” with the Armory in downtown Minneapolis heaped with the dying and the dead.
Maybe we could open up and bring back the world when the fortnight concluded?
No, we could not. I remember texting with a friend in early April about how I was absolutely done with this, with wearing a mask everywhere, with living in this new paranoid paradigm. My friend texted back that she was most certainly not done with it. I was surprised. I thought people would want to free-face as soon as possible, but it turned out that the masks, and the rules, were comforting to many. They were an unexpected source of clarity and virtue, like planting a Victory Garden — except that the people who didn’t plant carrots were some variety of Nazi, or a Floridian.
When the two-week lockdown was replaced with another, something was sundered. Clean break, in retrospect, but we didn’t know it at the time.
Today on the drive home from work I passed two cars with lone occupants wearing masks. Three years on.
If only we’d known, you think, but then you remember: we did.Published in General
My memories are mostly of the netherworld when I was the only inhabitant of the lab. It was lonely and a little spooky, but at least the tunes didn’t suck.
Covid validated the conceit of every supervillain. “You pitiful humans are weak. You long for a strong hand and an iron fist to rule over you.”
The governance problem was that (a) it was not the second coming of the Plague and (b) the experts were wrong about literally everything. So, to provide cover for the governing class, we had to pretend that all this cost and bother was a great, effective struggle keeping the worst at bay. And not a complete waste of time and money which had almost zero impact on spread.
More terrifying than even the exaggerated caricature of the pandemic was the discovery of how many of our friends and neighbors were eager to be ruled by fear and fiat.
I have been flying for work throughout the lockdowns and subsequent loosening of restrictions. It shocks me to see how many people still even this week wear masks in the airport and on the plane. I might be able to understand it if most of those wearing them were older or obviously infirm but the majority seem to be healthy young people (I estimate 90% are below the age of 40) with the majority of the masked group being young women.
The moment we bought into the idea that some workers were “essential” and others were not — the tyranny cake was baked.
It is incredible how easily we gave away our freedom for “safety”. The “experts”, who got mostly everything wrong, have suffered no consequences for the lives they upended. And now they try to convince us it came from a raccoon dog. The clown show continues.
“They were an unexpected source of clarity and virtue, like planting a Victory Garden — except that the people who didn’t plant carrots were some variety of Nazi, or a Floridian.”
Except in Michigan, of course, where those trying to buy carrot seeds were the Nazis.
I thought the two-week stay-at-home (not lockdown) advice was prudent. Everything after that was appaling . . .
For the first two weeks (“two weeks to flatten the curve”) I was impressed at how compliant people were to do this for what was believed to be “the greater good.” But by the second month I was horrified at how compliant people were, following rules that really weren’t making any difference what so ever. Looking back, it seems like some people had a reason to keep this going at least until after the elections. Never again.
When I see people out at stores still wearing the face-diaper, I am overcome with deep revulsion. It’s not just that I think covering the face is inhuman and demeaning, . . . I think that revulsion is due to PTSD from 2020.
Apparently, you did not, viz.
If you bought all that, you didn’t know.
That and as others have written, the Internet gave the “laptop class” the ability to continue their jobs from home. Without that, it would have been treated like any other bad flu.
Our Devout Catholic™ governor waited until noon on the Saturday before Easter to announce that indoor gatherings of more than five were verboten. We’d found a small congregation of our denomination in town that kept holding services. (Thinking back, I think churches were initially exempt but our church stopped in-person services. No one was exempt in her Saturday decree.) Around five the pastor called our house to say that he would be doing small, twenty minute services to accommodate each family and follow the rules. Two hours later he called back that, forget it, we’re doing one service.
Yes! Yes! And Yes!
Extremely well put.
And then there is this:
Booker T Washington’s words still ring true. But the counter to his words is that our government bureaucrats now know that as long as a Big Lie is repeated often enough, loud enough and long enough, it is not that hard to create a majority.
It would be nice, if, after separating workers into essential/non-essential we could sort them by useful/superfluous.
I think though, that Lileks fell for their game early on, when it “could be” that these self proclaimed experts were right.
He and many of the rest of us, woke from that first spell of hypnotic intensity of “three percent of you will die!” rather quickly.
Lileks even states that he was done by early April. As crazy as I appeared to my spouse when it happened, I didn’t start denouncing these COVID propaganda spiels until late April.
I don’t remember the date, but they lost me when Fauci said it was still okay to get laid off of Tinder.
We will look back on the lockdown imposed on us normals by our betters as the straw that broke our countries financial back.
The first two weeks were actually pretty funny where I live. I went out on a Sunday afternoon to go to our local landfill. It was eerie all the way to the site. All the stores and gas stations were closed. It was just strange. Almost no traffic. Then I got within a mile of the landfill. Oh, my gosh. A backup of cars! I said to my husband, “This is the Great Spring Cleaning! Make Americans stay home for a couple weeks, and it’s ‘Hey, I think it’s finally time to clean out these closets!” Too funny. :) People found something to do. And The Home Depot was pretty busy too. A lot of home improvement projects commenced. Projects people had wanted to do for years! :)
That pattern kept up throughout the first year. Our town landfill was busy every single day, and the scale where we pay to get rid of some large things like appliances was backed up the entire year. The town kept it open somehow with various pandemic-rule-complying strategies. I think that’s because it became the only source of revenue in our town. They even closed our beaches–someone said there were virus particles in the salt spray from water. :) :) :)
Yup. Still angry.
The Lowes hardware store near me couldn’t keep a lot of things in stock, not because of supply chain issues (which somehow didn’t exist until Biden became president), but because of increased demand by people who suddenly had time to kill.
At some point in the early days, @Jameslileks, you commented on a post that you just wanted thing to go back to normal.
I rather snippily replied that there would be a “normal” in our future, but it wouldn’t resemble the “normal” pre-2020. (paraphrase)
Wonder how you feel about things in 2023?
“Never let a crisis go to waste.” The Democrats seized on the Covid pandemic to implement junk-mail voting across a swath of states; virtually guaranteeing that no Republican will ever be elected president again.
Oh, absolutely. Abundance of caution was my rule, although I had my own definition of “caution.” Didn’t stay home, didn’t bleach the mail or the groceries. Wore gloves for a while but dumped those after a few weeks, because it seemed ridiculous.
The experts were the ones in positions that seemed to require expertise. Not BS phoney-baloney degrees in social management, but hard science. It wasn’t misguided to expect that science-centered organizations would be run by competent people acting on the evidence, leveling with the public. I think it would be misguided to expect that today.
Things feel normal, inasmuch as no one’s wearing masks, there aren’t signs on the floor, the stores are full. Work isn’t normal, but that’s gone for good. I spend too much of my time in depopulated places, so I may not be a good judge of what is and is not normal.
The most significant inversions of normalcy these days are cultural, it seems.
We went straight from the COVID Dystopia to the Transgender Reign of Terror.
Maybe that’s shown them that NEXT time they need to “accidentally” release something REALLY serious.
In a different place here in Japan, the majority are still wearing masks, even when outside or alone in cars. Throughout the pandemic, the national government never formally mandated masks, but masks were almost always requested or required for entry to individual buildings and establishments. Then the Prime Minister made it voluntary to wear masks in public (there are of course exceptions) starting on 13 March 2023. And yet, when I was in central Tokyo last week, the majority were still masked. The news reported public opinion surveys showing that anywhere from 60 to 80 percent would still wear masks. On the other hand, I saw quite a few foreigners besides me who weren’t masked, including Chinese.
Many Japanese had gotten used to wearing masks long before COVID hit. There are many historical reasons for this. One major factor that I attribute it to is that Japanese as a whole are a very sanitary people. People who travel in trains and subways, especially during the busy periods, wear masks when they think they have a cold or flu to avoid giving their sickness to others. Another is they adhere to social conventions, and that is shown in the recent opinion survey results. Women who go out for short excursions also use them as reasons not to put on makeup. This time of the year is allergy season, and masks apparently help against certain allergens. There are many reasons people use as rationale to wear masks. I expect that many Japanese are waiting for prominent people to go maskless before they join in.
So you’re saying your papers….were in order?