Doom

Supermarket Sweep

We had planned to write something wry about March Madness being canceled this year, something to replace our annual Stinque Braquet, something fun — something unlikely to be overtaken by events.

Until we went shopping Saturday.

We shop every Saturday, stocking up for the week. The neighborhood Whole Foods was slightly odd, an empty shelf or two, employees wearing blue gloves. Out of our coffee beans this week, but that’s not unusual.

And then on to Safeway.

Which was thoroughly ransacked.

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Pandemic Etiquette

Is it polite to wish ill of my enemies?

You may harbor dark thoughts of coronavirus spreading at a contagion-denying political conference, or a presidential rally, or a trashy expensive Florida resort. Enjoy them! Life is short enough as it is, and may be shorter still if this keeps up.

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Contagion as Metaphor

The thing about coronavirus — about any disease, really — is that we know what to do.

We may not know how to prevent it. We may not know how to cure it. We may not even know how to alleviate suffering.

But we know what to do.

We know how to look for it. We know how to identify it. We know what to do about it.

We know what to do.

Problem is, we don’t do it.

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As the World Melts

We’re not ready for this.

Collectively. As a species.

We’re not ready for what’s coming. We’re not going to be ready until it’s too late, except it already is, it’s already happening, we’re doing nothing about it, and by the time we do something, we should have done it ten years ago, or forty, back when we could have done something about it, back when we first knew about it.

Only we first knew about it sixty years ago. Or seventy, ten years from now.

The world is melting. And we’re just going to let it. We can’t help ourselves.

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The Week Ahead

Time was when a week meant something.

You could plan for it, a week. You could go into Monday with some clue where you’d be by Friday. Sure, things happen, the usual muddle, but you could plan for that too, the expectation of a few twists and turns, nothing major, nothing out of the ordinary.

Weeks were ordinary. Months were ordinary, more or less. Even a year could go by, not much different than the last.

We don’t remember the last time anything felt ordinary.

Take Greenland.

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Meanwhile, Back on Earth

Selections from the Human Health chapter of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, originally scheduled to be released as part of a major science conference in December, but suddenly dropped in the middle of a four-day weekend to provide informed citizens ample time to— haha, who are we kidding, they dumped it on Black Friday! No worries, enjoy the leftovers!

  • The health and well-being of Americans are already affected by climate change, with the adverse health consequences projected to worsen with additional climate change. Climate change affects human health by altering exposures to heat waves, floods, droughts, and other extreme events; vector-, food- and waterborne infectious diseases; changes in the quality and safety of air, food, and water; and stresses to mental health and well-being.
  • Climate change is expected to alter the geographic range, seasonal distribution, and abundance of disease vectors, exposing more people in North America to ticks that carry Lyme disease or other bacterial and viral agents, and to mosquitoes that transmit West Nile, chikungunya, dengue, and Zika viruses.
  • Higher temperatures can lead to an increase in aggressive behaviors, including homicide.

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Less Than Nero

The span of recorded history stretches back some five thousand years. Which isn’t that long, really, considering that we as critters have been walking around some 300,000 years. And it’s not even as long as it sounds, since that five grand includes cuneiform tablets.

Really, three thousand years, tops. That’s how far back we can go before things start getting really vague. Blink and you missed us.

That’s the continuity of the world we live in, the world of our language and culture. We speak of vast amounts of time, of a universe billions of years old, of the immortality of fame, but in the West we have no names before Homer. To be among the Immortals is to have your name written down somewhere, to enable passage from generation to generation.

All of philosophy, it is said, is but footnotes to Plato. You don’t get that without Plato being handy on the shelf.

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