except for the masks, everything appeared relatively normal

Es­ti­mated reading time is 5 minutes.

I DID SOME SHOP­PING YES­TERDAY, mostly for food. I also hit the li­brary along the way, using curb­side pick-up for items I had or­dered on­line. I picked up a few books (in­cluding Steven Pinker’s The Sense Of Style – The Thinking Per­son’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Cen­tury and Norman Spin­rad’s Green­house Summer. Ex­cept for the masks, every­thing ap­peared rel­a­tively normal.

Green­house Summer is a fa­vorite book by a fa­vorite au­thor. Pub­lished in 199, it ad­dressed one of many po­ten­tial (ex­treme) fu­tures that global cli­mate change pre­sented years be­fore many people were taking that change se­ri­ously. (Hard to be­lieve anyone un­der­es­ti­mated it just a few years ago, nyet?) The former is new to me.


Al­though things may seem to be rel­a­tively normal, the pan­demic isn’t going away magically.


Ac­cording to Wikipedia, The Sense Of Style “ap­plies sci­ence to the process of writing, and ex­plains its pre­scrip­tions by citing studies in re­lated fields—e.g., gram­mat­ical phe­nomena, mental dy­namics, and memory load—as well as his­tory and crit­i­cism, to dis­tin­guish the rules that en­hance clarity, grace, and emo­tional res­o­nance from those that are based on myths and misunderstandings.”

I also picked up a few DVDs, in­cluding the first season of The Gilmore Girls, which fea­tures Lauren Graham, who I have had a crush upon since first seeing her as Jeff Bridges’ sorta love in­terest in 2005’s The Am­a­teurs. I also got a doc­u­men­tary ti­tled The Book­sellers, whose cover blurb says it is for “anyone who can still look at a book and see a dream.”


Relatively Normal: cover for Norman Spinrad's GREENHOUSE SUMMER from Tor Books in 1991.

This is the cover for the first hard­cover edi­tion of Norman Spin­rad’s Green­house Summer from Tor Books in 1999. It is a book that takes global cli­mate change very, very seriously.

Everything seemed relatively normal

While out-and-abouting, I no­ticed that my fellow Red­mon­do­nians were fol­lowing the (common-sense) man­dates of our state government;

•  Every­body was masked, even outdoors.
•  Every­body main­tained rea­son­able so­cial dis­tancing indoors.
•  Every­body gave wide berth to each other outdoors.

Ex­cept for the masks, every­thing seemed rel­a­tively “normal.” And feeling normal usu­ally means feeling safe. Things are still NOT close to normal and there­fore NOT safe.

In case the cor­po­rate media in your neck of the woods isn’t paying as much at­ten­tion as it should, here are a few things hap­pening in the United States re­garding COVID-19 in­fec­tions (cour­tesy of The Wash­ington Post): For the first time since early Au­gust, the number of newly re­ported cases topped 60,000.

At this time, more than 36,000 people are hos­pi­tal­ized na­tion­ally with the coro­n­avirus amid a crisis that is in­ten­si­fying al­most every­where. And, even more telling, forty-four states and the Dis­trict of Co­lumbia have higher case­loads in early Oc­tober than they had in mid-September.

The fol­lowing states (who usu­ally fly under the cor­po­rate me­dia’s radar) re­cently set record highs for new cases:

•  Col­orado
•  Illinois
•  Indiana
•  Montana
•  New Mexico
•  North Dakota
• Ohio
•  Wisconsin

Mostly Trump Country.


Relatively Normal: graph of Covid-19 case and death rates by political lean.

The graph in­di­cates that so-called Rep*blican coun­ties around the country are ex­pe­ri­encing COVID-19 cases at a rate slightly more than twice that of folks living in De­mo­c­ratic coun­ties. The mor­tality rate of those cases is slightly less than 2:1.

It isn’t going away magically

The title of the WAPO ar­ticle is “U.S. tops 60,000 daily coro­n­avirus in­fec­tions for first time since early Au­gust” which is ac­com­pa­nied by this sub-title: “New study shows Republican-leaning coun­ties hardest hit in re­cent weeks.” It’s a rea­son­ably lengthy read but can be summed up with these paragraphs:

“The in­crease in cases and hos­pi­tal­iza­tions since late Au­gust has been fol­lowed by a more modest rise in covid-19 deaths. That could re­flect, in part, im­proved pa­tient care from battle-tested med­ical workers. The wide­spread use of pow­erful steroids and other treat­ments has low­ered mor­tality rates among people who are se­verely ill.

But epi­demi­ol­o­gists have re­peat­edly cau­tioned that most people re­main sus­cep­tible to the coro­n­avirus and trans­mis­sion is likely to be fa­cil­i­tated by colder weather. Not only do people spend more time in­doors, but the dry in­door en­vi­ron­ment is con­ge­nial to the spread of res­pi­ra­tory viruses.

Whether this rep­re­sents a second wave or even, con­sid­ering the summer Sun Belt spike, a third, is a matter of se­man­tics. The mes­sage from infectious-disease ex­perts is clear and em­phatic: The virus isn’t going away mag­i­cally, and everyone needs to pre­pare for a chal­lenging winter.”

The ar­ticle is dated Oc­tober 15, 2020. Be­fore I could get the name of the writer, my free look at the page ex­pired. Yes, you will need a sub­scrip­tion to The Wash­ington Post to read more than a few ar­ti­cles per month.


Relatively Normal: cover of the dvd of THE BOOKSELLERS.

This is the cover for the first DVD re­lease of D. W. Young’s The Book­sellers from Green­wich En­ter­tain­ment from 2020.  It is a doc­u­men­tary film that takes buying, selling, and col­lecting books very, very seriously.

Rightwingus extremis also on the rise

There is also the in­fec­tious agent(s) that is causing rightwingnu­talepsy. Also known as rightwingus exremis, it is a vir­u­lent sub-branch of con­spiracy the­o­ryism. It in­cludes such con­di­tions as mili­ti­aitis, boogaloo dis­ease, Way­fairism, and the dread QAnon­itis, all of which are all on the rise among the same mem­bers of the population.

Masks don’t work but main­taining proper so­cial dis­tancing and staying six feet away from all com­puters has been known to have salu­tary ef­fects, even on the long-afflicted. If you know someone with these or re­lated “states of being,” masks won’t help here ei­ther but no need to worry as the “sur­vival in­stinct” of the non-afflicted, healthy (dare I say normal?) in­di­vidual usu­ally kicks in over time.

Not co­in­ci­den­tally, the longer that someone re­mains af­flicted, the greater the so­cial dis­tancing be­tween you and he/she will be­come, al­most instinctively.


Relatively Normal: photo of Wayfair workers protesting company policies in 2019.

FEA­TURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page ac­com­pa­nies an ar­ticle on the Fox Busi­ness web­site ti­tled, “Way­fair de­nies Reddit human sex traf­ficking con­spiracy theory.” I as­sumed the photo was of some of my fellow Amer­i­cans rav­aged with some form of rightwingus ex­tremis, al­though they all look rel­a­tively normal. In­stead, the cap­tion to the photo tells a very dif­ferent story about these people: “Way­fair workers protest over com­pa­ny’s sales to mi­grant de­ten­tion cen­ters.” And no one is wearing a mask be­cause the photo was taken in June of 2019.


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