All the vaccine holdouts in the Western world should go ahead and let their governments know they won’t be participating. Then those countries can ship all the vaccines they’re holding to the rest of the planet who would kill for them. Rather than have to do without vaccines entirely, or get jabbed by a Chinese or Russian vaccine that’s mostly made of cadmium, green tea, and old newspaper shreddings of Pravda.
But what’s with all these vaccine incentives? Some States are giving out free beer, chances at a vacation, an alien tome that explains the meaning of life, lottery winnings, $43 equivalent in Roman Imperial gold, and so on. How come I didn’t get any of this fancy shit? I just showed up twice and they jabbed me like it was nothing. Where’s my Golden Idol?
Incentives are for losers. Fear is for winners. Here are some ideas that’ll be sure to get people into the vaccine door. We’ll call it: The Arcturus Project Vaccination Without Reward Program (TAPVWRP).
Get vaccinated OR:
1) Home is entered into a lottery where the fire department chooses a house to burn down for training purposes
2) Beloved dog and/or cat is offered up as a new permanent pet to a child with cancer, if child expires, pet does not come home and instead goes to another cancer child
3) Fired from job and not allowed to apply for a new one until a cooling period expires, financial difficulties are irrelevant
4) Hooligans are hired to throw bricks through windows and at cars at random intervals
5) Are entered into an all-purpose death battle royale inside a dome while reality television watches like some kind of D grade novel
6) Whatever the greatest fear, it must be endured it; for example, if one hates spiders they gotta open up the front door via a hole in the wall filled with bugs ala Temple of Doom
7) The State deliberately infects them with the Fall 2021 strain of influenza
8) Are forced to sit down and listen as Christopher Walken reads the first five books of the Old Testament (no bathroom or food breaks)
9) Friends are informed via a written forged letter (with handwritten signature) that forged author is a closet cannibal and wants to eat their tasty, tangy flesh
10) Why did I do this list? there is something wrong with me
So we’ve started to see a brand new kind of water receptacle in the office lately. It’s the BuildLife Motivational Water Bottle. Here a picture of this insanity:
So you see, the purpose of this bottle is to display the time of day. Then you get to drink as much water to get to that time. Do you get it? Then, if you fall behind you can read all these motivational slogans to keep you going throughout your day. So you can stay hydrated. DO YOU GET IT?! Wow, who would have thought hydrating your body throughout the day could feel like a mandatory work training event where they take a roster.
You know, once upon a time humans were drinking not water, but ultra-low alcohol beer to stay hydrated. Water was poisoned or tainted for the most part. They drank this swill out of simple stone or pottery or animal skins. Now we apparently need something that will set you back a minimum of $13 to look like an idiot. At first I only saw flaky coworkers sporting this. Now a ton of people are.
My personal water source is a nondescript stainless steel bottle in dark blue. I have no idea what brand it is, I don’t care. I think it cost me $5. I think it’s about 24 ounces. Maybe. I drink from it five times a day. I do so without any motivational crap whatsoever. I just do it, it’s a task I set my mind to and I do it. End of story.
I have some questions about the methodology of this bottle though:
1) What do you do if you get up before or after 7 AM? Or go to bed before or after 9 PM?
2) If you’re drinking water at 9 PM for hydration purposes, wouldn’t you get a terrible night’s sleep by going to the bathroom all night?
3) If I fill the bottle with vodka instead of water does the same motivational spirit still count?
4) What happens if I get to 9 PM and I’ve only reached the 5 PM mark? The bottle says NO EXCUSES. What’s the bottle going to do to me when I fail, kidnap my niece? Do I have to beat myself with a wire brush?
5) Is any human being on the planet actually motivated by statements such as “Keep going” or “Tons of ENERGY”? If so, they should severely contemplate their life choices and report to a reeducation camp.
6) Is purchase and display of this bottle more of a personal flair statement first, and a water source second? Kind of like how you wear a tie of your favorite sports team or stupid superhero character?
7) The water bottle is clear, so if you’re outside or it’s hot, you have to suffer all day drinking hot water. Or, constantly have to put it back in the fridge or cooler thus killing the perpetual hydration process the bottle requires.
8) If two people have this bottle, and it’s 3 PM, and one person has met the bottle’s demanded goal, and the other person hasn’t, does the person who’s fallen behind have to cut off their pinky like Yakuza? Is the shame too great?
9) How long will this company / fad last before they go bankrupt and the founder moves onto Etsy to design Hello Kitty water bottles so poorly even the Japanese don’t buy them?
10) Why did I do this post?
We, here, at TAP are here to help. Motivation is for losers. Demotivation is for those who take life seriously and are winners. Here are our bottle recommendations:
7 AM – Congratulations, you woke up, you lived. Nothing else you accomplish today will be just as successful.
9 AM – Drink this water, or you’ll die.
11 AM – Just kidding, you’re going to die one day anyways. Resistance is futile.
1 PM – You have accomplished nothing of actual value today.
3 PM – Whatever you have done today will be meaningless to you in three years.
5 PM – In 147 years, nobody will remember your bleached skeleton ever existed.
7 PM – Are you with family or alone? Either way, you’re alone.
9PM – There is a monster under your bed. It’s the monster inside your head. Fear everything. Sleep tight.
Written by a correspondent in Delhi from The Economist:
India’s second wave of covid-19 feels nothing like its first
Holed up in Delhi, where friends are falling ill too fast to count
Apr 30th 2021
WE ARE AMID an ocean of human suffering but cannot see it. Having returned abruptly to the kind of isolation we hoped we had put behind us months ago, my wife, our two little boys and I are staying put in our nice flat, in a leafy “colony” near the centre of Delhi. Our new rule is strict: we do not go outside for any reason. The past 12 months have trained us well enough for that; these routines are well-worn, for parents and children. We grown-ups however cannot stay away from our phones, and so peace of mind is a distant memory. My wife just called from downstairs. Her friend’s brother-in-law needs an oxygen concentrator or he is likely to die at home. If we find one for him (and she is already working her connections), can we scrounge enough cash to buy another, for ourselves?
The mind’s eye is filled with pictures of desperate families scrambling after oxygen cylinders, failing more often than not. All day the early-summer heat has me picturing bodies, bagged and stacked on the pavement, waiting their turn for the pyres that burn everywhere across the city. Sometimes I switch off the screen in my home office on the second floor and step onto the roof terrace to water potted plants and scan the neighbourhood below. All is quiet and green. Smoke from the crematorium down the street has disappeared into the usual haze of the season. Our small park is more leaf-blown than usual, but someone has been watering there too. A security guard at the corner is wearing his mask, but he’s been doing that for a year now, as if the past month were nothing new. In contrast to the first lockdown, the milkman is still coming and newspapers are being delivered.
Yet everything has changed, with a speed that we still cannot comprehend. My family had hunkered down much harder than most. We kept our social life in forfeit and wore masks outdoors, if not always at the playground. We had come to seem like laggards within India. Most of this country began to relax after September if not earlier, as the caseload started to drop. Just last month I started travelling again—I was road-tripping through weekly markets, sampling country liquor offered by strangers for a cute feature story, then watching a jubilant political rally fill a small town’s bazaar. Days later I was dandling my two-year-old on my lap at an airport, sharing his first iced lolly. Those were the before times. A fortnight later, back in Delhi, I find that more than half of my friends have covid-19, in their families if not in their own bodies. Acquaintances are dying faster than they can be counted. I read in the papers that the forestry department is clear-cutting parkland to feed more wood to those pyres.
The official news outlets also bring the daily statistics: 386,000 new infections today, 208,000 dead counted since the pandemic began. Between the lines, it is possible to read the disclaimers too. If only 1.7m tests are being conducted per day, what can that 386,000 really mean? Is it that 0.0004% of the country has come down with the virus since yesterday, or that nearly 23% did? That would be 314m people, nearly the whole population of America. Obviously, the true number lies between those absurd extremes, but who knows where? The statistics about death tolls are more nakedly false. It is plain that thousands are dying every day, but who, where and exactly how many we cannot know, thanks to some petty deceptions but mostly sheer confusion. I get a better sense from the piecemeal reporting in Indian websites covering, say, the smaller towns and cities of Uttar Pradesh, where none of the official line can be trusted, than from my fellow observers forced to stay in the capital.
But the saddest and also the most terrifying accounts all come via the phone, in texts or panicked voices. Everyone is ill and no one can find medical help. Stating the obvious, the American embassy mass-messages, “Access to all types of medical care is becoming severely limited in India due to the surge in Covid-19 cases” and concludes that my fellow Americans should make plans to leave the country “as soon as it is safe to do so”. Social-media feeds are an endless list of pleas on behalf of the dying. A friend from Lucknow, living in New York, writes elegant, almost daily obituaries for friends from his hometown—three of them, I can’t help noting, are my age, and at least one was, also like me, fully vaccinated.
I have a nightly ritual of phone calls to check on friends within a two-mile radius. An elderly woman has recovered, but feels distraught that her neighbours across the street both died. Another friend’s aunt is still ailing but in the meantime her husband died—I hadn’t heard he was infected. Newborn twins, their parents and their nanny are all running a fever in tandem. A WhatsApp group set up by foreign journalists to discuss visa issues has become another place to plead for help finding medical supplies. It informs me that the clinic where I found my own second dose of AstraZeneca a week ago has run out of vaccines. Only 1.8% of the country has been fully vaccinated and it is anybody’s guess how long it will take to manufacture or import the roughly 2bn doses we are left wanting.
Watching the other international correspondents fall ill and scramble to leave tends to make me want to stay behind these locked doors, with my potted plants and boisterous little kids. Appliances may be breaking down, but our groceries keep coming and the WiFi works. An NGO in Delhi counts more than 100 Indian journalists who have died of covid-19, 52 of them this month. For their bravery, I am able to read about those pyres, without having to risk seeing them for myself.
This horror is noticed abroad. Messages from faraway friends I haven’t seen in years convince me of that. They are worried for us and I am happy to reassure them that we four are fine, relieved to be talking about the situation from the bird’s-eye view of my terrace. Much easier on the nerves than ringing up the next-door neighbour to find out whether our mutual friend is still alive.
But my long-distance conversations convince me that something has been lost in the transmission. These well-read friends in Europe, America and East Asia never understood how different the past year of covid was, here in India—and so they cannot understand what it feels like now to hit the vertical wall of this so-called second wave. I struggle to convey that we have not been on a wavy ride, like Britain’s or some American states’. Look at the shape of our graphs. Our first surge was scary, but tapered away like the tail of a paper tiger. The virus had spread everywhere during 2020, no doubt, despite a brutal lockdown and other efforts at containment. Sero-positivity surveys conducted in some cities showed that majorities of large populations had been exposed to the coronavirus and developed antibodies to it. But Indian bodies resisted it, perhaps, they say, because of “cross immunity” gained unnoticed over lifetimes lived amid the barrage of everyday germs. The rickety hospitals stayed afloat too, and eventually their covid wards emptied. By the beginning of 2021 we were saying that 150,000 Indians had died. For perspective: three times as many die from tuberculosis every year. “At the beginning of this pandemic, the whole world was worried about India’s situation,” the prime minister, Narendra Modi, recalled in a triumphal mood only in February. “But today India’s fight against corona is inspiring the entire world.”
India fought a phony war and—by dumb luck—it won. Then suddenly, less than three weeks ago, our world turned upside down. Having taken credit for his country’s divine good fortune of last year, Mr Modi will want to shrug off blame for the second wave, as if it were an act of God which no preparation could have averted or even lessened. There is a lot to say about what could have been done instead. Yet without any of the government’s self-serving intentions, many of the rest of us feel convinced that a different disease has emerged since our year-long dry run began. Covid-21 I find myself calling it.
The facts one would need to build that case stay stubbornly out of reach. The available genomic analysis shows that the distinctively Indian “double mutant” variant, B.1.617, is prevalent in some parts of the country but not in Delhi, where the Kentish B.1.1.7 is like wildfire. India is woefully behind in sequencing its strains, having only announced a genomic consortium in December 2020 and then funding it only in March.
What is clear to clinicians, as opposed to the boffins, is that covid-21 is more transmissible than the kind we saw last year. A doctor friend tells another friend in her podcast that this is “much much more contagious, much much more transmissible than the wild variety of covid-19.” It used to be that just one member of a household might catch it. Now everyone does. In our extended family, in Kolkata, 13 of 15 people under one roof became infected before any showed symptoms.
Its “immune-escape” mutations are formidable. Being vaccinated, I am sensitive to the stories of inoculated people falling ill—which could not be more common, in my social circles—and even dying. The vaccines are saving lives, no doubt. Deaths among the fully vaccinated are rare; I hear of them only among friends of friends of friends, like the poor 25-year-old lab technician in a hospital whose best friend teaches German to a pal of mine over Zoom. Which brings us to the fact that this time young people and even children are developing symptoms, including an erstwhile quarantine-playmate of our four-year-old. Younger adults are becoming severely ill, as they did not last year. Finally, those people who have had the disease twice, a plentiful category thanks to that “immune-escape” feature, say that the reinfection feels different. The fever comes quicker and they are more prone to developing pneumonia. Dumb, divine luck with covid-19, and now the bad luck of covid-21, as if it were retribution. That is the way it feels to those of us who find ourselves without access to reliable aggregations of information, but awash in personal anecdotes. I suspect that someday biomedical research may prove that the two kinds of luck were connected, but we will have to wait years for that.
For now there is much outrage. Maybe Mr Modi’s government will pay a price for its blunders and complacency. I suspect that this is mostly expressed as a wishful diversion, in tragic pursuit of a silver lining. That would be a way for my part of Delhi, those who have the privilege of sitting at home and contemplating escape, to take a break from our primary occupations: fear and sorrow.
Yesterday I only had about an hour to cook between work meetings, a failed video date, meeting with my Guests to plot the overthrow of the Laotian government, and my meditation to contemplate the exact, precise differences between English Stilton and French Roquefort.
So I went with a simple salmon dish with a side of roasted squash and zucchini from my very first, original cookbook I bought two decades ago, the Good Housekeeping cookbook. This old classic doesn’t melt your brain with recipes. These are simple takes on good old food. Could I have made this meal off the top of my head, sure, but with everything I had going on yesterday I didn’t want to think.
Everything tasted great. The problem was because I was in a hurry, and not quite paying attention since I was on my work computer for part of the time, the salmon was dramatically under cooked. I mean it had a great crispy skin and a solid crusty spice rub, but the interior flesh was mild if not approaching raw. This was not sushi grade salmon and so the possibility of disease was present. I ate it anyways and I feel fine.
I wonder how I would have handled it when I’m say 70? Food poisoning kills several thousand Americans a year. When I’m 70, I’m probably going to under cook some chicken in the same fashion. Then I’ll be vomiting and running through the streets in a bathrobe, delirious, and ultimately get plastered by a bus.
My parents didn’t grow up destitute, but rich they were not. Food was simple and wholesome, and cheap. One grandmother was a fantastic cook, the other was not. But food poisoning was a concern under these circumstances. The very first medium rare steak I had was well after I was 18. This was because the family wouldn’t serve steak to the family anything less than well done. This probably sounds insane, but it was the mindset of a family eating a lot of cheap meat, and concerns that all little microbes were cooked out.
Were these concerns valid? Maybe, but probably not. Nobody in my family has checked out due to food poisoning, but maybe that’s because the family was cautious. Is this a Simpsons tiger-rock question?
Plus, I guess you could say my family was trained, experienced with the classic English / American tradition of cooking. What do I mean by this? Well, I think I’ve mentioned in previous posts I’m rewatching Poirot. The contrast for comical purposes is Poirot is a very refined Belgian who loves his food fancy. Japp is the gruff English bobby who probably beats half his suspects in shackles off screen when Poirot’s not on the case.
Poirot serves Japp pigs feet, Miss Lemon serves Japp lemon sole, and he’s horrified at both. Then later Japp turns around and serves Poirot meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and stewed peas, and Poirot claims he’s allergic to meatloaf. These scenes are handled perfectly, and this classic, good natured humor always get me a rare open laugh. But, essentially my family ate Japp’s style of food. Now what happens is I’ll cook my fancy shit, but when I go home my Ma cooks in the old style. Oh man, how I love both these styles of food so very much.
What I do know is my body today will not be my body at 70. Would I eat the under cooked salmon several decades from now? Don’t know, god willing at that point it wouldn’t be my decision alone. Or, maybe I’ll just say fuck it, swing some beer, and dig in and roll the dice. And if I go out the door at 70 eating tasty under cooked salmon? Oh well, worse ways to go, for sure.
The tech freaks of Silicon Valley won’t be happy until they build either a fully functional human brain or at least Skynet in reality. I don’t care what any of them say, this is their goal. Their space rockets are neat, but expensive, and at the margins. These very bizarre, successful dudes want to create life.
When you build the first robot servant, then you get immorality, then you’ll be judged alongside Newton. It reminds me of the era where if you discovered a new turtle you could name it whatever you wanted and you would be renowned across the natural philosophy world.
The tech freaks, they’ll fail. They will all fail. All of them. The brain will allude them.
I wish I was more religious, but I’m not. I think most of it now comes from how my Dad somewhat lost his faith at the end. He was my religious bedrock and in the end he thought he provided him not many answers. But I was most religious where he and I were alone at the end. There was no priest, no time, there was just he and I. I guess I believed more then, but after he was gone I’ve had a hard time of it. I read a lot and have discovered this is a common reaction to such circumstances.
Why do I say this? I guess it’s because what I’m trying to say is the human brain, the mind, will take you across the most wonderful, baffling, and excessive journey’s of humanity. Whether you’re in a good spot or not (I’m not) you’re still in for one hell of ride. If you believe in religion, this is sacred to you. If you don’t believe in religion, or wish you did, or don’t care, either way, it’s still sacred to you. We are all uniquely special and sacred.
This is why I find the tech freaks efforts to recreate the human brain so offensive. Fuck them, they’re not god. Burn them at the stake.
This afternoon I went to the local fish market. I live in concrete land so the local fish market is a dive strip mall hovel that would qualify as a shooting gallery in most planetary zip codes. People are far, far too ready to buy straight from Generic Grocery Store #485 instead of going to the experts. I try when I have time to always shop at the experts.
I get in there and only after nodding to the dude cutting fish do I realize I forgot my mask. Fuck covid. I’m in there without my mask and I feel naked. I dash out of the store, go get my mask from my car, and then buy some tasty future swordfish steaks. If you don’t believe covid is real, you’re either an idiot or haven’t seen it. I’ve seen my relatives suffer.
So you better believe I wear my mask everywhere. But I legit forgot. But, my mind, my brain, my body reflexively reacted. I didn’t think about it, I just reacted. Muscle memory or whatever. A year ago this would have been unfathomable, my beautiful brain would have not understood the absence of a mask atop my face. But the mind adapts, it adjusts, and now when I’m in a store without my mask, I am naked. Whereas a year ago this concept would have been laughable.
If you were foolish enough to read yesterday’s humorous post, this needs no further explanation. Here’s another news publication that thinks its readers are big dummy heads. Courtesy of the Washington Post:
But unlike yesterday’s photo where the vial liquid was clear, the Post has decided to color their liquid blue and red. What? What the fuck is this? Vaccines aren’t colored like they’re jello or a kids coloring book.
The nurse walks up to you, and he’s like, “This covid vaccine comes in two doses. This blue doze is half chlorinated pool water. The red doze is half komodo dragon blood. You’ll be fine. Only half my covid vaccine patients have expired within the first 48 hours. Now then, roll up your sleeve, dear patient friend.”
The media is so, so angry that folks don’t wear masks, hate science, treat covid as a joke. Well, when the media treats folks intellectually as fourth-grader-big-dummy-heads, and then creates colored childlike cartoon pictures of the vaccine? Well, why should they be surprised if folks don’t take this shit seriously?
Man, the South Koreans, Taiwanese, Australians, Japanese, New Zealanders, and Chinese must look at the rest of the planet as a complete joke filled with goons right now. Maybe we should let them rule the world for say, oh the next few decades or so. Just to see if things improve a little.
This covid vaccine thing, it’s pretty obscure. Not really a topic anybody the planet is familiar with. Nowhere near the top of their brains. There’s no possible way you could know about this, right?
Behold this stupidity.
This was on the BBC, with the photo having been generated by Getty. We have four vaccine vials, and a syringe, with Getty having made four white labels with a cheap label maker, “COVID-19 VACCINE”. Because the media thinks you the reader are too dumb to realize what the picture meant if they just left the vials as clear without labels.
Strangely, if you look at this picture they also have a bit of white powder atop glass. Has Getty gotten in on the coke game? Hell, if I had to work for Getty I’d need to be high at work all day. I’d rather be employed in Chairman Kim’s Palace Square Anti-Aircraft Gun Branch.
Anyways, we at TAP are here to help. Here’s a finely detailed list of what you the reader would have thought was in those vials if your friendly media buddies hadn’t stepped in to help you think for yourself with those labels. This is in order of priority, behold the vast wisdom on display here, bow before our superior knowledge, you know nothing, we know everything:
Hey I get it, fighting covid must be really hard and stressful, but how does that equate to the CDC trying to turn back the clock to 1775? This poster was on the subway this morning, it’s asinine. This is probably the first time since the Stamp Act that a British royal crown has existed on an official US government document.
Better watch out fellow patriots, the CDC is out to slit your throats at night in order to restore QE2 to her rightful throne. A new castle shall be built for her, on the grounds of the Washington Monument after it’s brutally razed by CDC funded bulldozers crewed by drunken EPL hooligans.
I won’t stand for it. I shall fight! To start my struggle, I shall ignore the poster’s instructions that I wash my hands. Only Tory scum wash their hands. How could this possibility go wrong for me?!
It would seem virus battle tactics are the new arena of politics. In an era where everything must be political, soon your tooth brushing method will determine how you vote.
In the meantime, the debate has centered on whether to reopen the economy and risk increased death. Or to keep the economy closed and risk financial death. Both these options suck.
But there’s a third way that folks seem to mostly ignore which is what I find baffling. China’s Communist Party’s talking point is only their all powerful neck stopping model can defeat the virus. They’re lying, started this to begin with, and are downplaying their own virus infection/death statistics.
The answer lies in South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, and to a lesser extent Germany. This is the competent category.
Into the incompetent category you can shove the US, Italy, France, Spain, Britain, and of course Communist China. The answer to this virus is simply that government should do its job. Instead of sucking.
Sure, there are significant privacy, social, cultural, and obedience factors that likely make introducing a South Korean virus battle methodology into the US problematic, but does that mean it shouldn’t be seriously discussed? Instead of, you know, just keeping to the same failed talking points both sides have adopted? The virus doesn’t care who folks voted for. South Korea never even executed a full lockdown.
I think in the coming decades this will become a more glaring aspect of our planet. Sure, the differences between democracy and oligarchy are stark. But what will really set apart nations is simply those that are governed competently, and those that are not. It will be readily apparent say by 2035, and the split begins now.
When he’s not writing more esoteric, baffling Xi Thought, or establishing a mini-apartheid state, or eating barrels full of honey straight from the hive, Chairman Xi must have a busy life. So it’s pretty cool of him to descend from his famous and luscious Honey Tower to confer with a few people from the degenerate masses [who were prescreened for both disease and political affiliation and had their families held hostage at knifepoint until the cameras left].
Hey, it’s already been over a month since people started dying, but in all honesty you wouldn’t want to be anywhere near these people either. Viruses are bad things, and dictators need to avoid bad things, in order to do bad things to other people. Like locking up doctors who try to stop a bad virus from happening, that’s a bad thing.
But Xi has adopted Putin’s tactic of being a Tsar/Chairman. The sins of the Empire are the fault of local officials, only. If only Xi knew what was going on, surely HE would have put a stop to it. Only through HIS benevolence is government waste and corruption even held in check. Hell, without Xi, coronavirus would be in your kitchen right now, eating your food and beating your family with a cricket bat.
So here’s to you Chairman! [breaks full bottle of baijiu over dirty peasant’s head; alcohol gets in eyes, which the face mask is completely ineffective at protecting; peasant screams in agony; fawning sycophants clap in rhythm]