GLASSES

The origins of this excellent cartoon have eluded discovery, but that does not diminish how much I like it.

Yet I think it needs an update, or to be more precise, an addition:

Conspiracy Theorist

Sometimes it’s just a glass of water.

WHO IS THAT MASKED MAN?

Melbourne, population approximately five million, is struggling with a second wave of COVID-19. The premier of Victoria (like a State Governor in the US) issued a new regulation last Sunday stating that from Thursday 12:00am (or midnight Wednesday, if you prefer), everyone must wear face covering of some kind when leaving home.

Because people are alarmed by the resurgence of this very nasty virus, it is likely there will be reasonable compliance, at least to begin with, while the ‘on the spot’ fine of $200 will ram the point home. I’m hoping the Victorian Police will be thoughtful and supportive when enforcing the new rules.

[There’s a link from the above excerpt to the complete cartoon by First Dog On The Moon]

At Vinyl Connection, my long-running music blog, I posted some album covers featuring some form of mask or face covering. It was tongue-in-cheek, an attempt at humour in grim times, and most of my regular readers were instantly on-board. However a new visitor, from somewhere in the US, said the LP covers were brilliant, even though ‘face masks are not only absurd, but evil’.

Absurd? Evil? What?

Maybe I was missing something, so I looked up ‘evil’ just to refresh my memory regarding where Forces Diabolical stand on the issue of protective clothing. Couldn’t find anything particularly helpful other than the advantages of asbestos underwear.

I thought about the demonstrations against being ‘forced’ to wear a face covering, as if it was some kind of punishment.

‘I don’t want to’

‘I don’t like it’

‘Shan’t’

‘You can’t make me.’

The other theme seemed to be about ‘rights’. I have a right to do what I like. Well, that’s true, but it’s only half the story. As one of my influences (American psychiatrist Sheldon Kopp) wrote,

You are free to do whatever you like. You need only face the consequences.

[Sheldon Kopp 1972]

Or, to put it another way:

But here and now, the consequences rebound on society–neighbours, parents, colleagues–not just on the individual.

The current fashion of debunking science and mocking expertise of any kind doesn’t help. People may be equal in value, but they are not equal in expertise and knowledge. Conflating the two is dangerous. I may be an adequate therapist, but you wouldn’t want me teaching you scuba diving. We are seeing the endpoint of this process in the White House, where expertise, truth, accuracy, and integrity are all but extinguished. Democracy absorbed by the Idiocracy.

I can’t know everything. In fact I know less every day as knowledge expands while my capacities diminish. That’s why I don’t believe in science, I trust it. I trust scientists who have dedicated their lives to questioning, investigating, proving, challenging, testing and sharing knowledge based on replicable studies. Belief may be a kind of optimism, a hope for an answer from beyond, but I’m not willing to bet my life on anything lacking even a shred of empirical evidence.

I want to live to see my son grow into a man (he’s well on the way, but I’m greedy; I want at least thirty more years) so I will listen to people who actually know what they are talking about and prepare for a brave new world of death defying visits to the supermarket.

I hope people will do the right thing. It’s called The Greater Good and it has nothing to do with doctrine nor eroding anyone’s ‘rights’ but everything to do with being sensible. So I’ve written myself a reminder list.

  • Wear a mask if you possibly can.
  • Remember that while no-one actually knows what’s going on, trusting science is far more rational than swallowing beliefs.
  • Avoid ill-informed people and conspiracy theorists. Those broadcasting their fears in this way will infect you like a virus.
  • Try not to overreact.
  • Be gentle with yourself and aim to be kind. Kindness is an antidote to fear.
  • Take care at the supermarket.

ON-LINE DANCING

Here in Melbourne, a bustling metropolis of some five million consumers, sorry, citizens, we are back in Stage Three lockdown. That means the only valid reasons for leaving home are work/education, exercise, purchasing food/essentials or medical appointments.

But what it really means is ON-LINE SHOPPING.

The joys of buying stuff on-line are so obvious we’ve integrated them into our lifestyle now… not needing go out (or even dress), the thrill of something arriving you don’t remember purchasing, returning items damaged in the post, the brilliant ideas that surface just before the second bottle of wine runs out… it’s bliss. And with interest rates this low, you’ll scarcely notice the monthly card repayments.

Wanting to spread the joy around, I’ve been purchasing little surprise gifts for some of the people in my life, and feeling a quiver of excitement as I imagine their delight when an unexpected pressie arrives (contactless!) on the doorstep.

My partner, commonly known as Ms Connection, has been loving the new electric coffee machine we acquired. So have I. The magic of pushing a couple of buttons and getting a cafe-style latte in moments obscures the sight of the metal espresso machines sitting forlornly by the stove. And that lovely white-noise shooshing sound as the milk heats entirely drowns out thoughts of landfill and profligate wasting of resources. It’s all good.

So I found a boutique coffee pod seller called Bling Beans and ordered a dozen different coffees, both leaded and decaffeinated. But to add some fun, I got them to empty all the various flavours and styles into one mixed box and omit the colour coded ID chart, so Ms C gets a lucky dip. To add to the excitement, if she has more than one shot of full strength coffee in a day she turns into an amphetamine squirrel so there’s a touch of Deerhunter roulette here too.

The other purchase was equally thoughtful. One of my oldest friends, who I met up with for a last supper the day before lockdown, told me a sad story. He was limping as we walked to the cafe and when I asked about this latest ailment (which is what old bastards do when they meet) he explained, with a degree of embarrassment, that he had injured his toes. How? I asked. He looked away and muttered something unintelligible, but I persisted. After all, this was someone who totalled his ankle after walking out the back of a camper van while staring at a compass to see where the sun would rise. So I persisted, and was rewarded.

“I couldn’t find my toenail clippers,” he said. “There were some wire cutters handy and I thought, being a simple builder, now that’s a good idea. But the bevelled edge of the pliers and the distance between my eyes and feet made it trickier than I thought.”

And?

“I sliced a bit off two toes.”

Ouch.

So I found this really neat kit and ordered it for him. It’s called Big Bloke’s Nail Kit and has a cutter, a trimmer and a buffer. They even threw in some fingernail clippers for free. He’ll be rapt, I know.

I’m working on a couple of home-based ideas to entertain the boy as well. I saw this on social media and had a good laugh, so I thought I’d re-arrange his newly organised library (sections for Sci-Fi and Fantasy, General Fiction, Myths and Legends, Dr Who, etc) into one long line of books ordered by height from largest to smallest. He’s scored an extra week off school due to the second wave of COVID, so that should keep him occupied.

With a little imagination and a credit card, lockdown can be fun.

 

COVID-19 — THE ALBUM

Here is a bit of humour I posted at Vinyl Connection. A story in song titles.

Although it is music-centred, it occurred to me that an interest in popular music was not really a prerequisite for engagement. All the songs/titles are actual recordings by the named artist.

It went down well enough that another ‘volume’ is in preparation. You have been warned.

*

COVID-19 — THE ALBUM

 

SIDE ONE

Iron Maiden ……………… Virus

Richard Thompson …… Keep Your Distance

The Police ………………… Don’t Stand So Close To Me

The Tubes…………………. Don’t Touch Me There

Nirvana ……………………. Stay Away

Warren Zevon …………. Splendid Isolation

 

SIDE TWO

Vienna Teng …………….. I Don’t Feel So Well

Wishbone Ash …………. Doctor

John Lennon ……………. Isolation

The Beatles ………………. Misery

The Modern Lovers …. Hospital

Bob Dylan ……………….. Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

*

Vinyl Connection and Lonely Keyboards hope you will wash your hands regularly, stock up on records (and reading matter) and only engage with Side 1 of this album

IMG_0287

Watch out for COVID-20 — THE SEQUEL

In stores soon (though you won’t be able to visit them)