Saturday, May 30, 2020

Interesting Times

The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat. Words to live by according to our President. I guess I am a bad Democrat then, at least for now, though given enough time and perhaps not too much of that the way things are going I shall surely mature into a good Democrat. Not, though, by ingesting bleach.
My brother-in-law sent me an article discussing the ways in which artificial intelligence can be used to create videos and images of people of importance doing things they never did. Soon, if not now, they will be indistinguishable from reality. A presidential tweet of immeasurable bad taste may indeed be produced to denigrate him and not to praise him and no one will know if it is true or not. Madness lies down this path. Shakespeare wrote plays about this lunacy five hundred years ago. Internet your name is Iago.
Truth is malleable, facts are becoming less stubborn, reality is a chimera suited to the point of view of the observer. And so today we will start to see the influx of visitors we dread and desire. The big issue is whether or to wear a mask.  The President of the United States has made wearing a mask a symbol of sheepish submission and the refusal to wear a mask the representation of rebellion against the tyranny of the government he leads. How this makes any sense only Shakespeare or Orwell could unravel: I can't.  I just watch and wonder at the state of collective madness our nation has sunk into. 
I once welcomed the Internet as a way to provide education, information and facts at the touch of a button without the interpretation of third parties. That view seems more and more naive as time goes by and every fact, every truth that is not convenient gets discarded on the pile of history marked fake news or deep state or dark web or some other such nonsense. Conspiracies replace benchmarks at will. Masks aren't a medical recommendation, they are the first step in Bill Gates owning the world by inserting chips into the vaccine we will be offered next year to inoculate ourselves against Covid-19. 
I quit being a journalist years ago when I realized that my world of what was known as news was being replaced by entertainment and "tips." At this stage in my life I find myself swept aside by a younger generation that displays the attention span of a firefly, flitting from blade to leaf to branch faster than I can keep up. I probably looked that way once to my elders and betters and I am reaping the inattention the elderly merit. Now that I live with a wife with no immune system the medical certainties of Facebook epidemiologists make me nervous. I have no certainties in this vast sea of confusion but I do know that keeping six feet away and wearing a mask when I can't are simple steps to preserve my family that I must take in the hope they will do some good. 
I see people present themselves at anti-mask rallies with guns on display, and where they then announce that they aren't afraid and to my jaundiced eye they look and sound ludicrous. They exude fear and resentment and poverty of ideas. Conflating rights without obligations, self without community makes no sense. I have lived an adventurous life and I have taken risks but I have always calculated the size of the risk, I am not a world record breaker or a pioneer, not a  leader in risk taking. I have assumed risks on the backs of those who went before. Therefore not to wear a mask when medical experts, who themselves struggle to understand a new disease, suggest wearing masks and maintaining one's distance I don't understand why wearing a mask is an abdication of personal responsibility.
The City of Key West has issued an order to the effect that public buildings and businesses must require people coming inside to wear masks. Fines and jail time are possible for offenders. Businesses that don't comply can expect a visit from Code Compliance, the people who render life not worth living with rules and permits and minute inspections. I'm sure its a coincidence but the re-opening order came a few days after a protest organized by Ed Swift, who is a man of influence, gained a lot of publicity. It was noticeable masks were in a tiny minority in photographs of the event. Presumably not photoshopped...
I don't live in the Key West of the 1980s but some days, the good days, feel like this community has been a reasonable facsimile set in modern times. People here don't protest coronavirus by parading with guns, food pantries step up where the state falls down, and I see a majority wearing masks without drama to try to do the right thing by their neighbors.  I have found a new slogan from my youth, think locally, act locally and stay home as much as possible. Everything else is out of our tiny marginalized no account hands. We are all peons in the post Covid era, heaven help us.