Monthly Archives: August 2021

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Song of the Day #1883

Song of the Day: The Jackson 5 Medley [YouTube link] features the first three #1 hits of The Jackson 5. This is where it all began. Check out another classic Jackson medley, performed live at the “Motown 25” Celebration in 1983 (with a solo “Billie Jean” thrown in for good measure) [YouTube link]. On this date, in 1958, Michael Jackson, the “King of Pop” was born.

Coronavirus (34): “Virtue Signaling” vs. Doing the Right Thing

On Facebook, I adopted a frame that put forth a very specific message:

I will state it for the record why I posted this because it is not the equivalent of “virtue signaling”. Given that I’m a self-described “dialectical libertarian” and that there has been an epidemic of COVID-denialism among too many libertarians, I thought it was important to make a public statement, beyond the 33 Coronavirus installments I’ve already written since the winter of 2020.

Let it be known far and wide that I am a libertarian who believes that it is indeed possible to be against the state and against coercion, and still voluntarily get myself vaccinated, despite the fact that the vaccine was developed by Big Pharma in league with Big Government. I believe in looking at the facts of reality as they are and making rational judgments based on the context of my own knowledge and experience. I’ve lived in a city that was, at one time, the epicenter of death and despair from this nightmarish virus. I’ve seen enough mass death for a lifetime and then some. I’ve lost family, friends, neighbors, and beloved neighborhood proprietors. And given my own medical preconditions and the health problems of my sister, for whom I am a primary caregiver, I made a reasonable decision to get vaccinated. My whole family is vaccinated. And my declaration of this is not an exercise in Virtue Signaling. We took the path of least risk, given that COVID could very well spell the difference between life and death for us.

And it needed to be said. I do not consider the posting of my own vaccination status to be the equivalent of posting about dental fillings, haircuts, STD tests, or prostate exams. Indeed, I’ve done all those things and not posted on them. If folks don’t see a qualitative difference between COVID and haircuts, and if folks don’t grasp the political and extra-political significance of this, all I can say is: We must be living on different planets.

So yep: I have a healthy distrust of authority and I’m vaccinated. I am a libertarian and I’m vaccinated.

In the discussion that followed my Facebook posting, I added:

I’m not going to “die” on this hill—I’ve been vaccinated, but I’m not indestructible, after all. That said, I’ve written thousands upon thousands of words on the COVID pandemic going back to March 2020. People can check it out on my blog and in my Notablog archives.

But I will say that one of the reasons I’ve been so disappointed with many of the typical libertarian responses to this is that it all was eerily familiar to what I saw in the HIV/AIDS debate back in the 1980s. The pattern seems to be, if a large-scale public health problem emerges, one that might suggest to some public policy wonks a greater role for government involvement, the immediate libertarian knee-jerk reaction has been to first, deny that the problem exists or call it a hoax, or second, to admit that if it exists, it’s affecting a very limited number of people and should have no public policy implications. In my blog post, “Coronavirus (21): Lockdowns, Libertarians, and Liberation“, I wrote:

Back in the 1980s, when HIV/AIDS was killing off a generation of gay men in the West (while ravaging a largely heterosexual population in Africa), some libertarians (including those influenced by Ayn Rand), ever fearful of those who proposed a growing governmental role in both medical research and in locking down bathhouses that were transmission belts for promiscuous, unsafe sex, grabbed onto the work of the molecular biologist Peter Duesberg, who played a major role in what became known as the AIDS denialism controversy. Duesberg was among those dissenting scientists who argued that there was no connection between HIV and AIDS, and that gay men were dying en masse because of recreational and pharmaceutical drug use, and then, later, by the use of AZT, an early antiviral treatment to combat those with symptoms of the disease.

If the scientific community had accepted Duesberg’s theories, hundreds of thousands of people would be dead today. The blood supply would never have been secured, since HIV screening of blood donors would never have become public policy, and countless thousands of people receiving blood transfusions would have been infected by HIV and would have subsequently died from opportunistic infections. A whole array of “cocktail” drugs were developed that have targeted HIV, the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, and they have been effective in keeping people alive, reducing their viral load down to undetectable levels, boosting their T-cell counts, and allowing them to go on to live normal, productive, and creative lives. Still, safe sex remains the mantra of the day.

So, while many libertarians have been at the forefront of rolling back the state’s interference in people’s personal lives, advocating the elimination of discriminatory anti-sodomy and marriage laws, there were some libertarians who, early on, in the AIDS epidemic, grabbed onto Duesberg’s theories as scientific proof that the whole HIV/AIDS thing was a pretext for the expansion of the state-science nexus. Confirmation bias is an especially strong urge for anyone with strong convictions. All the more reason to constantly check one’s premises, as Rand once urged.

The most recent public health problem certainly has had broader public policy implications than the HIV/AIDS crisis but the pattern remained the same among too many self-described libertarians that I’ve known. So now, despite the development of what certainly appear to be several relatively safe vaccines, the statistics show that the overwhelming majority of people getting infected and dying of COVID are among the unvaccinated. A very small percentage of current cases are breakthrough (among those who have already been vaccinated).

I don’t and won’t control what choices others might make. I’ve made my choice and have taken my chances. I’m not an epidemiologist, but I did what I believed I needed to do. And I stand by that choice and by the profile frame I’ve also chosen to represent it—to separate myself from too many people for whom a healthy distrust of authority has become a barrier to getting vaccinated, if not for themselves, than for the benefit of those loved ones who might be prone to getting infected or becoming seriously ill should you become an asymptomatic carrier of the virus.

Make your own choice. Choose your own frame. And if you don’t like what I’ve had to say, unfriend me and get on your way. That is one thing which is not up for debate.

Song of the Day #1881

Song of the Day: 1985 Disconet Top Tune Medley [YouTube link], mixed by the wonderful AratoMatarazzo duo again, takes us from soulful 105 sleaze-beats-per-minute to HiNRG 138 BPMs. Among its scorching dance hits, we find “Too Turned On“, “Who’s Zoomin’ Who?“, “Thinking About Your Love“, “Do You Wanna Get Away“, “I Wonder if I Take You Home“, “Trapped“, “Into the Groove“, “Point of No Return“, “Conga“, “I Like You“, “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)“, “Freeway of Love“, “Perfect Kiss“, and “New Attitude“.

Pearls Before Swine: Health Insurance Redux

Pearls Before Swine (by Stephan Pastis) has given us some gems on U.S. health insurance problems in the past. So this one expands on that theme …

Courtesy of the New York Daily News (17 August 2021)

Song of the Day #1880

Song of the Day: Madonna Disconet Medley [YouTube link], mixed by Jose “Animal” Diaz, features many of Madonna‘s classic 80s hits, including “Borderline“, “Everybody“, “Lucky Star“, “Holiday“, “Physical Attraction“, “Like a Virgin“, and “Burning Up.” (Speaking of which, I will never forget the singer’s live performance of “Like a Virgin” at the VMAs in 1984 [YouTube link].) On this date in 1958, Madonna was born.

How NOT to Read an Article

It was really late last night, after a long, eventful day, and I decided to open up Friday’s copy of the New York Daily News (Friday the 13th, no less!), and was thumbing through the newspaper, and the Sicilian in me caught the headline on page 18: “119.8 degrees in Sicily is eyed as European record” (by Nelson Oliveira). Wow! — I said to myself.

I gravitated to the center of the article, where something odd caught my eye:

Lucifer was expected to bring more heat and dry weather to Italy and neighboring countries, possibly causing additional wildfires.

WTF?? The West coast is burning, Greece is on fire, and now Lucifer is in on the act “causing additional wildfires” in Italy and elsewhere.

This couldn’t be, I said to myself. “Must be a misprint,” I muttered aloud. Now I’m looking back through the article to see how it is that somehow, on top of pandemics and global unrest, Lucifer has made an appearance to make matters even worse! And I found the answer!

Sicilian authorities said the mind-boggling [temperature] reading was recorded in the town of Siracusa on Wednesday afternoon as the region was hit by a brutal heat wave and an anticyclone dubbed “Lucifer.”

Okay. So at the very least, could we put “Lucifer” in quotes next time!

Song of the Day #1879

Song of the Day: 1984 Disconet Top Tune Medley [YouTube link], mixed by Mike Arato and John Matarazzo, strikes all the right chords of a stellar year in dance music. It includes, among other songs, such dance hits “Somebody Else’s Guy“, “Self-Control“, “Jam on It“, “Relax“, “Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run)“, “Lucky Star“, “Give Me Tonight“, “Swept Away“, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun“, “Dr. Beat“, “Din Daa Daa“, “I Feel For You“, “When Doves Cry“, and “The Glamorous Life” (those last three showing the impact of the Purple One on this year in music!).

Liberty Airlines!

Courtesy of Andrew Ginsburg, in a letter to the New York Daily NewsVoice of the People“:

Let freedom ring at 35,000 feet

Southport, Conn.: On behalf of our unvaccinated flight crew here at Liberty Airlines, we’d like to welcome you all aboard!
Here at Liberty, your personal freedoms will not be compromised by public health concerns, and we are proud to be the only airline that gives Americans the choice of wearing a mask. You may also choose whether or not to cover your mouth when you cough — or wash your hands after you poop.

If you enjoy a cigarette at 35,000 feet, one of our flight attendants will be happy to assist you with a complimentary Liberty lighter. If a loaded assault rifle on your lap brings you comfort, our new economy-plus seats will provide you and your “little friend” with a spacious in-flight experience.

We place no limit on carry-on luggage because, unlike our competitors, once the overhead bins are full, we line the center aisle with all remaining bags. Your electronic devices may be used at all times, but headphones are not recommended, as we encourage all passengers to express themselves with a complete disregard for those around them. There are no seatbelt signs, so feel free to roam the cabin and even interact with our pilots, who will be happy to let you fly the plane for up to 10 minutes.

Remember, here at Liberty, your freedom comes first, and we trust that your decisions will be the right ones. Thank you, and we hope you enjoy the flight.

I don’t care what your politics are… this is hilarious. And if you’re going to die on this hill and fight and argue about it, have at it!