Coronavirus Conclusions and Beginnings

Well, Famous Hot Weiner is back to capacity and no masks. Every stool at the counter was occupied. The Hanover municipal building no longer has a mask sign and the doors appear to be open to all. There are signs for masks here and there and there are masks being worn still by some outside. But I think these are the people who have a thing about being exposed to other human beings at all. Something is ending for them, or something beginning.

Less interestingly, I’m doing the Jordan Peterson Self-Authoring course. I think it is well structured, that it asks good questions, and I have good hopes of what it will yield me. It takes quite a bit of time, so you have to look at it as a long-term project you are working on and peck away on your day off. Because I have the habit of writing, I enjoy it. I have written 6000 words characters on it today, and plan to do another 6000. And in that way creep toward finishing 10% of a fourth of the whole thing. I’m nowhere near beginning to finish.

I’m in a survey of the past where you first periodize your life, then you think of a set of experiences in each period, and then you analyze the experiences you described. It is surprisingly fruitful. I’ve thought about things, but this is methodical and structured. I begin to understand what they’re doing and how it works. If life in the coming days does not get volatile, it will be good to have a way to discipline all my interests and work toward coherence; and if life does get volatile, it will be good to be gathered and with greater inner clarity.

Coronavirus Chronicles – April 3, 2021

I went to Philadelphia and was astonished to see all that humans are doing with masks. They walk outdoors in masks, they go inside and behind Plexiglass shields wear masks, they drive with masks. They run with masks! I even saw people outside hurrying along wearing two distinguishable masks. I have to conclude these work for the government.

I suppose in a city is a common thing for people now, but it is strange to see most people outside masked, at least to me. It is also interesting to see who isn’t wearing a mask.

  • The bums. Most of them had one for the neck, but I did not see a single one with the mask for the face. They sit on their corners, with their signs, amid their stuff, and breathe the free air freely.
  • The smokers. And we are not just talking about people standing in designated areas, but those who go along the sidewalks. It is a convention, as everybody else wearing a mask is a convention, now, that smokers don’t need one while they smoke.
  • Coffee drinkers. Any drinkers or eaters, actually, are permitted to go around with their mask not on. That is another convention.
  • Animated phone talkers. No comment.
  • The free. There are those who do not have one and do not show any other compelling reason not to have one. Large black guys are very well represented in this category, and burly workmen of all types. I myself was able to go into the Reading Terminal Market without a mask. They required one to purchase something, but it was not otherwise enforced (I was a coffee drinker most of the time there). At Wawa they told me they would serve me without one but would try to give me one. At the parking place I walked into a building and was asked by a masked security person where I was going. I told him. I asked him why. He just said they wanted to know; nothing else. No request to put on a mask in the building. You know what people are being about it all? Very polite, which is good.

How about the vaccinated or those who have had the virus? No indications.

I think Lord Sumption is right; this only goes away as there is civil disobedience, and it is time for civil disobedience. No shouting, no protesting, nothing untoward; just making them actively require and insist on the mask is my thing now.

Coronavirus Chronicles – March 16

I remember it is one year on from when the pandemic panic set in. March 15th 2020 was a Sunday, and I was surprised to hear that churches had been cancelled. On Monday morning we went to Denny’s and the place was grim, the clustered waitresses glum. It had been announced that the state liquor stores would be closed in just two days, and the place had long lines. Starbucks was takeout only, and all the conforming corporations followed. Came the lockdown, which we thought would only last for two weeks and which continued on through April, till people were flogged to upheaval and unrest. Also, many of us stopped paying attention to the authorities.

It was an inflexion point. A moment of opportunity for many, a moment of clarity. It is interesting to me the way things are realigning.

Today, though there are still restrictions, I was in an unrestricted diner. No limits, just masks required to enter. Table after table, like old times. There are those who want to go on just the way it was, and I’m not against them.

I heard Bret Weinstein saying that the hypothesis that the virus was a research attempt at a coronavirus vaccine that escaped is looking less implausible. Now that the thing is out forever, is the net outcome that they inadvertently accelerated their own botched research?

He also said that youTube is replacing the book. I think that is not a wrong way of looking at it. The printing press ushered in a revolution. The rhythm of scholarship accelerated. Instead of the leisure of circulated manuscripts you had scholarly editions, the writing of letters back and forth as scholars looked each at his own copy, and beyond the old disputations which gradually subsided as time passed, the thunder and excitement of quicker distribution and resulting pamphlet wars. Now the medium is the internet.

Weinstein had an interesting theory about the whole identity thing: that it comes from people whose reality is shaped far more by being online that we who have known life otherwise really appreciate. His idea is that they are more governed by the proprieties that rule in cyberspace than those of the world of personal interaction. It is in one of the Peterson podcasts, most of whose books are bestsellers and who has more than one viral video, kind of like Luther of old.

Coronavirus Chronicles – March 4

We have almost gone full circle with this. I think restrictions are relaxing in PA, but since I don’t keep up anymore . . . I do hear more and more voices against the full-on submission to it all. I remember the hopes of last March and April that kept being dashed—the hope it would soon be over and we’d return to normal. I remember the weird alarms of those who said it could draw out longer. From the charts and graphs I’ve glimpsed, it looks like the worst of the virus was December and January. It didn’t entirely register that way here. It didn’t seem anything like last March when suddenly everything went silent. They tried to replicate it as much as possible from Thanksgiving to New Year hear in PA, but it was like they had been crying wolf.

Our governor is called Wolf, you know. He doesn’t look like one. He’s a slender, bald, managerial looking guy with a professorial beard. He looks neat and harmless. Apparently in success against the virus PA is only second to FL. Our governor has lost his right hand . . . transgender person to the feds. Is that a reward?

Last year at this time, if you had asked me how many Americans would put on a facemask if required I would have laughed. There are still many standing who will only wear one under extreme circumstances, but I doubt these are a majority anymore.

The local bike store is looking restocked nowadays. It ran out of bikes early on and couldn’t seem to resupply. I wonder how RV sales will do this summer, and kayaks and such. The barbershops and hair salons are doing good business.

The Banner is having its conference in Elizabethtown. So it seems things are scheduling to resume.

Coronavirus Chronicles – February 22

Who wants to even hear about coronavirus?

Here’s a picture of the moment. Picture a roomful of highly trained people monitoring distant events using expensive, sophisticated technology. It’s NASA, and the events are taking place on Mars. And what do we see on their faces? Not one, but two kinds of facemask. I mean, these are people who can and have sent a ton of the most expensive research equipment ever to another planet successfully, control it, operate it at huge distances and enormous costs and effort, and  yet we can’t design something as obvious as a simple, single, working facemask? How about a room where the air is clean?

I have to wonder if the difference isn’t the object. Mars is a measurable and predictable object. However remote, it doesn’t present a moving target. At least not yet. The difference is that the coronavirus does. It is in motion because it is part of the game of political football. The poor virus is no longer just a disease, it has itself become diseased, colonized by unscrupulous lizards and mutated into something that has actually started stacking signaling on dedicated scientists. They had special, NASA designed facemasks to put on top of the apparently inadequate medical mask? NASA can do spacesuits and rockets but not facemasks?

Politically in the land of America, Biden gets weaker and Trump gets stronger.

The interesting economic thing this week was two-fold. Jordan Peterson tweeted out a link to Allen Farrington’s Bitcoin is Venice with three results. It went viral, is one. Another is that the meme is now laser eyes for those who see into the darkness of this present moment. The third is that cryptocurrencies appear to have been definitively explained. The alternative to fiat currency is non-fiat currency; the alternative to trust is verification that requires no trust. I am in no position to judge the essay’s veracity, but it made sense to me! The second of the two-fold (there was a three-point thing in the first fold) is that this comes from what is essentially a blog. Blogs are regaining power, just not under the old name: Bari Weiss, Glenn Greenwald, Craig Carter and now Allen Farrington are recent such entries I have read. Blog posts is what they are. If the coronavirus makes blogging great again, I, for one, will be grateful for this also to the Chinese.

Coronavirus Chronicles – February 2

It is a mask on/mask off kind of moment, isn’t it? Masks are still required and enforced, while the lizard elites grow more and more bold.

The official policy of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is still that consistent wearing of a facemask reduces the transmission of coronavirus. I am astonished how much this practice works as a point of etiquette as well.

I know one person that I’ve talked to who is interested in getting vaccinated—a person who studiously keeps to the guidelines. I know three nurses who are not interested in getting it—all of whom have been kept to the guidelines until life becomes one continuous blur of exhaustion.

I went to the dentist, where of course they have to follow the guidelines rigorously. I had to fill out a coronavirus form. I did not give it to my hygienist, and she did not ask for it, so I brought it home. I did wear a mask into the place, waited with it on, and then took it off for the purposes for which I came. This was my second coronavirus dental visit.

What else? The Crimea is running out of water and the protests in Russia spread. Did anything ever happen in Belarus? I haven’t heard. Protests in Holland and Denmark I hear. In Italy, the police joined the protesters!

In Washington D.C. there are still guards and fences, militarized ever since common people were last seen encroaching on the hallowed seat of undefiled government. I feel like going down and walking up as close as the military will allow, and then doing the Hunger Games thing with three fingers.

It is a time of proliferating network alternatives too. All kinds of new platforms seem to be rising, while the old titans still remain titanic. All kinds of spiders working on all kinds of webs. Even finance is having to look limber for the encroachments of a digital onslaughts. Events keep happening.

Coronavirus Chronicles – January 26

At this time last year I unfollowed Peachy Keenan on Twitter because I was tired at how much she was alarming over the coronavirus. Her constant theme was shut down the airports.

At this time last year, if I remember correctly, Jordan Peterson had decidedly dropped out of public notice for half a year and I was wondering where he was. It looks like he is back, though somewhat less combative by his own admission.

It makes me think of the circle of those who have conversations I want to listen to: he was having a conversation with Douglas Murray. I think of it in many ways as the John Anderson circle. John Anderson has interesting conversations with a repeating group of people, and they are conversations I want to overhear. For that I’m glad to live in an age of youTube and podcasting, for the access to the living voice of contemporary minds. Speaking of podcasting, a year ago the American Mind started The Roundtable. After a rough beginning, they hit their stride just in time for the eventful moments of 2020. They are always running a bit more alarmed than I am, but right now there are so many canaries falling silent in this coronavirus coalmine.

What else would it be though? Who could have predicted all that came of this last year? We certainly learn that pandemics bring mass hysteria. Nevertheless, I think those of us from whom the gift of prophecy has been withheld should not count the chickens of doom before they’re hatched.

I think, for example, after last year and heading into whatever the Biden administration bodes, the right is more combative, and this is good. There are lessons to be learned from that great catalyst, Trump our timely political entrepreneur. Angelo Codevilla did an assessment on American Greatness—of all places—that I found compelling. It leads me to reflect that American society appears to be rearranging itself in all kinds of ways and places, or accelerating a rearrangement that was taking place.

The constellations in which publications align are changing.

The status and appeal of higher education is another change.

I think grade and high school have to be undergoing some kind of change, even if it is only in terms of reinforcing what was already right, if not outright course corrections, even as the whole is obviously pulling in different direction.

What will happen in the churches? Apart from the one in which I find myself, most of the churches I have contact with are growing. But I wonder if that is the case overall. Still, I think a situation calling for more seriousness and gravity can only benefit true religion.

Politically, it has always seemed better to me instead of having a two-party thing to have more, to fragment the big parties. Perhaps that’s unamerican of me. It is probably wishful thinking on my part, but I’d like to see political fragmentation and the need for party coalitions, not coalitions within the parties.

Next election here is going to break records in terms of women vying for the nomination, and not just in terms of the possible candidates already getting poised. This transgender moment will have women up in arms.

One last bright note: already the poison of the moment has summoned up literary antidotes.

Coronavirus Chronicles – January 16

Well, though the virus is on the rise it also appears to be on the wane. Are we seeing the crest of the last wave? In Israel they appear to be confident they will soon come out of it. They’ve had an organized and competent rollout of the vaccine, and that from coming behind in that they were not the first to obtain it. But obtain it they have, use it they have, and ahead they apparently are.

New strains of the virus have arisen, and that news sounds ominous. We also know now that you can get the virus more than once. But even the possibly ominous news is not received with the same panic—from what I can tell. I think there is a certain salutary weariness with the situation. The ability cheerfully to ignore the experts is another consequence of this moment. It does sound like relaxed restrictions are both desired and expected.

In our county in PA, the government has put of signs that say that coronavirus is no joke. There’s an example of a competent response to the situation for you.

Speaking of competent responses, the inflection point in US politics of January 6 is overshadowing the coronavirus concern. There is a general principle that you get from reputable historians; it is that however polarized and far apart the people of any given time perceive themselves to be, they are in many ways fundamentally alike. I think that what is happening with the President of the United States shows how much the hysteria of cancel culture has mutated and has a strain going on the right. Public Discourse just changed its leadership, and they lead today with an apology to those who were first colonized, the never Trumpers. It really was an inflection point.

And there’s the Big Tech angle to all this. Are they rapacious oligarchs? Are they scared and finally see a way to purge themselves? I think many are scrambling, or trying to scramble. It’s hard to scramble if you’re so big. I think the natural end of tech monopolies has been accelerated, but I do think it was coming and we are watching them endeavoring to scramble. They are used to being big and dominant, but all of a sudden that is looking like a liability.

Mollie Hemmingway is urging calm rather than panic. In times of panic, it is good to remain calm. The positive note that seems to me growing in this moment is from Victor Davis Hanson, Dave Rubin, Ben Shapiro, in short, that segment of commentariat as they react to the situation. There is an optimism that in moments shades into something not entirely unlike glee. There is also a growing number of cancel survivors, and they testify that there is thriving life after cancelation for the entrepreneurial. The inflection point is accelerating growing realizations and alliances, and that is making competent people who have learned to learn and are now in opposition cheerful.

The Biden administration is already gearing up. It looks to be a lumbering beast. I have a feeling these are times that favor those who are more nimble.

Coronavirus Chronicles – January 6

Lots of things going on right now.

  • Starship SN9 just static fired and should be destined for the skies maybe as soon as this weekend. From California, to Texas and next stop Mars.
  • The Democrats just wrested control of the senate from Mitch McConnel. No majority! That will make for some interesting tactical possibilities, one would think.
  • A guy in some kind of wild-Bill outfit got into congress and achieved his moment of glory, horns and all. Everybody is handwringing about the assault on the capital.
  • What appears to be an innocent bystander was shot by the police. Everybody is condemning the violence of the mob.
  • Must have been some mob, to storm the US capitol that way and sweep the security and bomb detectors and secret service and everything.
  • The headlines all over the world are roaring mayhem in Washington DC. The stain will probably never ever wash out from the purewhite fabric of this once great country.
  • The left is gleefully pouncing on it, hypocritically condemning while the horrified and infinitely manipulable right are pearl-clutching and . . . also condemning.
  • How Donald Trump turns this one to his advantage is a bit of a poser. And yet, my money is not on the scolds.
  • And the conspiracy theories multiply because people beyond shadow of a doubt believe there has to be someone masterminding it all.
  • The unexamined life is not worth leading.

Coronavirus Chronicles – January 5

Israel is in its third lockdown, England and Scotland are locking down fast, Germany is similar, and so on. Parts of Bogota are back to more lockdown, but the incentive this time around for everybody seems to be make better economic sense. These lockdowns are not as drastic. I do wonder if in some way they are targeted by political expediency more than scientific considerations.

I watch youTube videos of the streets of Bogota, the streets of Caracas, of Buenos Aires, Mexico City and St. Petersburg. Looks like facemask use is on the wane in Russia . . . where they are free? In Latin America the streets seem back to normal, but the masks are ubiquitous. I’m happy to say that lax mask discipline is still the thing in York Co.

In PA we just came out of a heightened restriction that blanketed the holiday season. You can go back to the restaurants that followed the governor’s directives—though you would have had options going to places which did not. Traffic never really dropped to the levels we saw in March this time around; stores didn’t implement all kinds of patchy and random approaches. By now we all know the drill.

The governor of FL is in the crosshairs of the media for being the most competent with the vaccines. He fights back, which is something learned, a new lesson and a positive sign. Our Trump is still fighting because he has never learned to do otherwise. And so another year begins.

Coronavirus Chronicles – December 23

I think the moment is revealing a lot of incompetence. It is what I find most striking in what I see and hear. We have mistaken privilege for competence, and we are learning that there really is a difference. We thought the credentials and certifications all meant more than we are seeing they actually do. Now we are looking at the hollowness of the shell. We are seeing the inside and it doesn’t have what we thought it did. Think about it: the USA is today a country in which a man such as our president, Donald Trump, no moral paragon, can stand up and indict the whole of Washington for its greed and incompetence with all the credibility of an Old Testament prophet. What a blast!

We are living the latest lockdown here in PA—all the way till January 4. The first one was due to panic. Now it is the idiotic repetition of what cannot give results because they do not know what else to do. People, however, know what to do. There is still competence to be found, just not credentialed or certified. The roads are not as deserted as they were the first time around; the government has not dared shut down as much as it did then; and, at least here, among those who are supposed to be shut down, not all comply. The outposts of resistance which began to bloom last May, continue spreading.

Speaking of which, at the American Mind they are talking about what we need to deal with next: the fact that in all the West there are now two competing and incompatible ideas of what a human being is. It does seem that the effect of the politics of our moment along with the coronavirus have accelerated the polarization this is causing. I don’t think the Biden years are going to be more quiet.

Coronavirus Chronicles – December 12

Some coronavirus season joy. This week saw the exhilarating flight of Starship Serial-Number 8. It is 9 meters in diameter and 50 meters tall. It is powered by methalox, and designed as the first completely reusable rocket—besides being among the largest rockets ever. The goal is to start parking Starships on the Moon and Mars soon, and eventually to come and go.

The problem with reusing all of a rocket is not simply the problem of landing it, but that of re-entry. Objects re-entering Earth’s atmosphere burn up. The way the Starship overcomes that is by re-entering belly first, its abdominal sections more thoroughly protected than Smaug’s but with heat shielding. Then the problem is righting the ship in order to use the engines to slow it down so that it touches the ground gently, right way up, and on its legs. The SN8, may it rest in pieces, managed almost all of it. It rose spectacularly on a bare minimum of engines, it descended laterally, belly first, and then reignited its rocket engines and swung itself over at just the right time. It nevertheless made contact with the landing pad more violently than intended and performed what in the industry is known as a rapid unscheduled disassembly. It was determined that the problem was with the pressurization of the tank fueling the landing burn. With insufficient fuel, the engines failed to provide the necessary thrust to slow the beast.

Which is a spectacularly successful first time test of a prototype! It outperformed your average rocket being launched all over the world if you consider that all these do is shoot up as far as they’ll go and then tumble back into the sea. Emotionally, it could not have been better, with the joy of waiting long months over, the frustration of several last-minute delays, the intrigue of the in-flight camera trained on what the engines were doing, the awe of the precise airborne maneuvering of this air-whale, and the celebratory conflagration at the end. Lots of people are fond of the SN8 as a result.

The bad news is that its successor, SN9, fell over not long after that in the construction bay. Everybody will be very happy if it makes it out and up and back again.

* * *

PA, like many other places in the world, is seeing an increase in restrictions over the holidays. Hospitals are full: apparently almost 14% of the population has tested positive for it. On the grounds that the hospitals are full and the staff is stretched there is cause for concern. On the other hand, nobody is talking about opening stadiums or bringing hospital ships into the harbor of the city of Philadelphia. The restrictions have shut down bars and all indoor dining for the duration of the holidays. There is much tail-gaiting going on in certain places. If you can do outdoors for football then, I suppose, you can do outdoors for beer.

I do think that at this point there are two considerations for Christians in this. First let me discount a third, though. I do not myself think the sixth commandment is at this point an obvious consideration. This may be due to the fact that I have during the course of my life not been plagued with bad health. I am not, when it comes to physical hazards, all that risk-averse and I take a more minimal than maximal view to the considerations the sixth commandment brings up. There are Christians for which the sixth commandment offers compelling considerations in this time. I think this is in large part due to the sensationalizing of the whole thing, the over-awareness creating a phenomenon similar to another exaggeration of the imagination: germophobia.

I think Romans 13 is a much more compelling consideration. What I don’t want is for some part of Scripture to lose its force because of this. Paul told people to submit to Nero and his government, a tyrannical empire. And, in the end, the highest consideration for any Christian is to keep a clean conscience before God. We will answer to his government, and defiling our conscience is much more important than whether or not we have civil liberties.

But I do think there are the stronger (as opposed to the weaker) in all this, and these are those who believe that we also need to defend our civil liberties. Not because having them is more important than a clear conscience, but because keeping a clear conscience means behaving with courage and intelligence in the face of creeping despotic tendencies. I do think we have ceded too much and I do not believe we do well to cede any more.

I don’t think the government of PA is malevolently despotic, though many of those who inhabit this commonwealth do. I think they are benevolently incompetent, and this mostly accounts for the whole. There is in all this too much, as Christopher Flannery put it in the latest Claremont Review of Books, of a “deference to the authority of opaque and demonstrably fallible science” that in good (informed) conscience cannot be tolerated. Some sense that precedents are being set, that opportunities are being tested, that the unscrupulous are gaining insight. While we still have the sense that ours ought to be limited government, we should challenge that which exceeds the limits placed on it. One thing was the emergency of uncertainty and panic that beset us in March, but to play the same cards in December is a telling presumption on the malleability of the populace. There is a coronavirus that has colonized the mutilated moral imagination of our moment, and the immune response of indignation and dismissal I think is warranted of people who insist, if not on being free at least on refusing to encourage despots.

At the same time, I do not believe our civil liberties are more important than a clear conscience. Civil liberties are of the temporal realm, and part of human government; a clean conscience is a matter with eternal consequences and a part of God’s government. God’s government is far more consequential than this fleeting moment’s human arrangement. And so I would urge the strong in this matter to be clothed in lowliness and meekness when dealing with their weaker brothers, those who do not see how they can do other than submit.

Coronavirus Chronicles – December 8

Well, people are being vaccinated. I think Russia was the first a few days ago, Britain is starting today, and even the massive and incompetent bureaucracy of our own administrative state is lumbering toward grudging approval.

We have learned many things in this time, haven’t we? The only way the problems of this swift year are not otherwise unprofitable is if we learn from them. Learn how persistent unscrupulous and incompetent people are at remaining in charge. I think we have learned that a long, concerted effort is always required to weed these growths. Learn to follow the money. Learn not to consider credentials the same as a real education. Learn to be more ready and even more eager for adversity. I’m thinking a lot about how much we live for prosperity, convenience, low-hanging fruit, irritation when comforts are lost, and all those kinds of things. These ways habituate us to character traits that then make us susceptible to tyranny. Of course, all these things were true before, but thanks to this year, I understand them better than formerly.

I read a good article in the CRB about the future of higher education. The author suggests that online learning will thin out the rank of bad teachers and make the option of good teachers and the best courses more widely available. He argues that there aren’t enough good teachers available for the demands made by the prevailing model. I think this also is part of realizing how many mediocrities persist and cling like parasites, debilitating the whole. He sees two problems to be overcome in higher education. One is that of obtaining credentials for studying with a patchwork of online courses. Surely that can be coordinated by means of the accreditation systems in place. Already the movement back and forth seems to me to be pretty fluid. The other more formidable obstacle is the social dimension of learning. I wonder if that’s not something that malls could be repurposed to do. How would malls attract students? Well, they could have libraries and such services for people who want to study. Can you imagine if your old J C Penney were turned into a standardized research library? Or a port for a subscription library with based on interlibrary loans? Also, look at how people use coffee shops. So open a mall with those kinds of venues, put in exercise facilities, put in coffee shops, put in pizza joints, put in stores with office supplies and electronics, put in high speed internet connections, and also provide the kinds of labs and the infrastructure that online learning doesn’t but that learning does require. Something like that. Instead of putting careerist administrators in charge of it, put it on a competitive business footing. Subject it to the market forces. And let them gather in those kinds of spaces with others who are studying the same things, or just others who are studying. Or people who want to be around books and coffee and pizza, the salt of the earth! And let the college outreach groups rent locales, the religious groups, the political groups, and such. The only thing we have to lose is college sports. Of course, you could be creatively readjusted as well, and branded, and marketed no doubt..

Coronavirus Chronicles – November 20

Well, I think in the contest between Turkey Day Authoritarians to eliminate Thanksgiving PA won. Godfather Cuomo is trying threats in NY, Newsom is shooting himself in the foot, but our wily governor and his able transgender assistant score. What did they do? Decree a quarantine for anybody coming from out of state to discourage attendance and then decree that face-masks must be worn even in homes if there are non-residents in attendance. It is not enforceable, but it will do what it needs to: discourage many plans. It works because there’s always someone who believes it is well-intended, because many Christians will submit as to proper authorities, because there are people who are sick of it and it conjures up apathy, and because there are those who really think there will be cops out counting the cars in their driveway. Multi-pronged.

It worked in our case. The plans are off. Well, it makes the workweek easier to schedule and accomplish.

I was wondering what to do about church. Do I tell people they have to submit? What I will do is just to ignore it. If anybody wants to wear a facemask, my policy has always been you are welcome to. I do not enforce the State’s declarations, they have no authority to tell God’s people to muffle the praises of God, at restaurants you can take your facemask off, at bars, to smoke, but the worship of God is less necessary? I think you could argue either way, and that is the whole of my reasoning: or my sheer ambivalence at this point.

Will the aftereffects of all these restrictions be a libertarian backlash? I have a feeling they will. There is apathy and weariness, but eventually there will be rest and there is also unchanneled resentment in all this. We have already known some explosions.

I observed recently that the facemask situation in the markets of York was a lax one. I had occasion to visit the market at Lancaster and noticed that the facemask discipline there is very thorough. No slipping masks, no brave souls in bare defiance, everything snug and even entry limitations. All is enforcement there.

Interesting also to see how much vagrancy they have in Lancaster. They have far more people begging at the traffic lights than ever. The vagrants stand out for their lack of masks and the carboard signs they carry. You don’t see that here. In fact, recently, the deadbeats that clustered around certain parts of Hanover first lost their comfortable seating and have gradually all managed to disappear.

I don’t think it is the colder weather. One thing the colder weather does for me, however, which I noticed in Lancaster where I had to wear a mask more than I normally would: the cold makes you glad for that thing on your face.

Coronavirus Chronicles – November 7

Well, we are in the election limbo. Coronavirus lockdowns are all the rage in Europe, not so much here.

I took a walk in the warm autumn weather. The skies these days are blue, the trees while not brightly in color are all in color, and the harvest continues. They bundle the corn stalks into great cylindrical bales sometimes around here. There are fields with these precise formations of organic matter in the bright sun, and there are greying rows of nodding corn as well. We have been in an almost uninterrupted streak of highs in the lower 70s and cloudless days since September. We did have a rainy week of cold, but we’ve only had the one.

And in these serene conditions the coronavirus moment unfolds. I just went to the bustling Hanover market where no social distancing obtains. Lines for the butcher, tables all taken, money for goods exchanged. The Hanover authorities have not been using a heavy hand at all. Restaurants are more spacious, masks as everywhere present, but there is a bustle to it.

And in this serenity the election is contested. There are people who stood in line 4 hours to vote. I think if you made an effort to get out, wait patiently, and vote legally, then to you the contest is to be expected. It is part of the fight against the propaganda of the polls, the indecency of ideologies, and the brazen injustice of incompetent elites. There are those who are spending moral capital as if they could just print more at the Federal Reserve. I don’t think you can fool all of the people all of the time though. I think there are positive signs in all this, hope for the long struggle.

Here’s an interesting observation from Augusto del Noce’s excellent collection of essays. He suggests that the necessary intellectual cause for the abolition of slavery was individualism, that sense of the individual growing strong. He also suggests that if this diminishes, slavery returns. I find that intriguing and very plausible. Who do his new totalitarians enslave? Those who resisted them first. I therefore wonder if that’s not the dilemma for many at the moment: if the new totalitarianism is ascendant, do I want to pay the price? There is a factor in all this moment that will play a great part: the factor of courage present or absent.

Coronavirus Chronicles – October 31

Well, we very near the election. Here’s one thing that seems to be taking shape based on a dustup in the news recently: there is one side which understands that not everything can be controlled, and that the unexpected comes at you, and that you have to just ride on; and there is the other side. I look at the circles and distances and masks at a quiet little gathering for Biden and I look at the surging masses at a Trump rally: it is not hard to know which is which.

You know what makes a difference? Reading a printed periodical on all this. I just got my first of the Claremont Review of Books. I like the politics of the Claremont, but then I wondered if they and their associates at the American Mind weren’t getting a bit fringe on the alarm. But then I got the publication. It really makes a difference. It is also one of the luxuries of our times, being able to get a publication of this sort and have it to read. It is needed variety at least in my life. I wonder if part of coming out of this moment of new media options is not deliberating on what kinds of things you get where and for what. There is a leisureliness to reading something in print that doesn’t seem to obtain online, and it changes the atmosphere in which the things read about are received.

Violence is still on tap in the cities of the USA. I don’t know if they’re still protesting in Portland, but they protested in Philadelphia. I can understand it. There are huge sections of Philadelphia that are just like the third world: run down, dingy, trashy, unlovely. (Except that the stores in third world countries aren’t always as fatuously vulnerable: they have steel shutters and iron rails, they have security guards.) I am surprised that people who have to live in those parts of Philadelphia don’t riot more often. I know they do it when the Eagles win, but then, that’s not going to give them much of a chance to do so. In Bogota, riots and protests were a pretty constant thing. Just another routine event.

Here in Hanover we have a good mayor: things are getting fixed, patched, replaced, done. You know the place is prosperous when you have a choice of Walmarts. If you don’t feel like going to the one, you can go to the other. How many towns of 15000 can boast that kind of consumer option? And if you don’t want to do the Walmarts, do the Target instead.

Meanwhile, space is happening. Back when the lockdown started and we were just eating meals as usual, in order to change things up I started watching youTube videos. YouTube has its uses. I had several youTubers that I had discovered: a fixed-axle bicycle delivery guy in Bogota, a Venezuelan immigrant in Buenos Aires, and a Caribbean foodie in Barranquilla. Recently I added a guy who drives around Montevideo explaining the layout. Somehow from there I started watching space launches. That is the whole point of having youTube, folks. Engineering Today has good ones, Marcus House has great ones, SpaceX fans is somewhat hasty but curiously interesting, and there are more. There are sites that will tell you anytime a rocket is launched anywhere, and link to footage when available. Roscosmos is regularly shooting Sputnik rockets, the Chinese keep putting stuff into orbit, and there are a constellation of other countries doing so, beside the steady beat of Spacex and all its diminishing competitors. Spacex has made reusable rockets an expectation.

What else I’m into is videos of living in Antartica. It is part of straining toward winter, which I always do.

Coronavirus Chronicles, October 16

We did not find Cincinnati as given over to Biden as Columbus was. I therefore declare Cincinnati in every way superior to Columbus. They have quite an extensive collection of buildings from the 19th century in Cincinnati and, everywhere, the buildings are being restored. I have never seen so many ongoing projects to restore interesting buildings. Somebody is investing heavily. I do doubt that Cincinnati is unique in this.

The (sometime) Cincinnatian Hotel been around so long that the marble on the stairs, after the second floor, have been worn in a scoop the way I remember it in the central metro stations of Mexico City. It has many deserted places where you can read, and the public nuisance of music is so unobtrusively soft it is nearly inaudible—almost perfect. You know what people are getting wrong in this age of so many lighting options? The quality of the light. Light bulbs are haphazardly employed at otherwise coordinated hotels, so that you very seldom get warm light. When it happens, it is very nice, but it is obviously not being attended to in the kinds of places I stay at.

I don’t know if it is a defeat that I only stopped at one place expressing support for the racist organization Black Lives Matter or if it is a triumph that I only did once. I think if it were Columbus, I’d say it is a triumph, but in a place less given over to signaling such as Cincinnati, perhaps it was a defeat. Yes, I think Cincinnati is a great place, obviously one that is on the mend from former dereliction. I hope this moment is not a huge setback. During this whole raging moment of hypochondriac power, two very good coffee shops were located there.

Cincinnati is a very interesting city for walking in, if you like exploring the basic grid to see what’s on the street level. The central skyscraper part is not as soulless as it could be, and the nearer surroundings have the old architecture I mentioned. There was a section along Main St. defaced by the aforementioned racist organization, but it was not extensive. Are there too few ultra-rich white people in Cincinnati? Both Columbus and Cincinnati showed little damage in that respect. They seem poised for a swift recovery.

The difference between Cincinnati and Lexington, KY is that people are more given over to wearing masks in the street in the former than the latter. (I do find that the farther south one goes, the more overtly polite people become. I’m for a less ornate and more Scandinavian approach to politeness, personally.) Kentucky looks both empty in the highway stretches and prosperous in the urban setting.

Coronavirus Columbus

Because of the way my work is, I can spend days without driving the car. In fact, I only really need to drive it on Wednesday and Sunday to go to church. And with the car, the use of a facemask. I don’t think, altogether, I’ve had to wear one for more than a few minutes. Where I live, I could probably go without it if only I had the dignity of some I see who would not be embarrassed to be called out.

Now I’m on vacation though, and that has brought changes to my life. I don’t work, that’s one. I have driven for over 2 hours for three days running. And I’ve had a facemask on for longer than five minutes. I don’t know how people do it. By now most of the world is used to going about with a facemask uncomplainingly. I find that it is no way to breathe.

Parking overnight in the streets of Pittsburgh, I’m happy to say, is still something you can do. I have been in small towns in Colombia where it was not safe thing to do. Pittsburgh was chilly, and quiet, and they have a lot of Burger Kings. Cleveland was also cool, but it did not have anywhere the amount of fast food places downtown the Pittsburgh does. Cleveland is the less lively place. And yet, I think the difference between states is that the reductions for restaurants are more drastic in PA.

You get to Ohio and you know you’re in the Midwest: the roads are straighter and wider, the overpasses infinite, the land endless, and people who drive like its New Jersey really stand out. I like the way they drive in New Jersey, where it is rude to waste people’s time. It is not, as far as I have ever been able to discern, rude in the Midwest to waste people’s time by the way you drive. I am surprised how many distracted drivers there are texting or calling holding the phone up to their ear. The state patrol in Ohio explicitly warns that it will strictly enforce both speed limits and distracted driving. I think the solution is the self-driving car. I personally can’t wait. They can implement it in the Midwest most easily, and in other parts of the country, where the roads have variety and intrigue, wait till the AI is more sophisticated.

The glory of the Midwest is that it has a chain called Half-Price Books. I hit two in Pittsburg, one in Cleveland, and have four out of five to hit here in Columbus. It is my favorite way of getting books. Amazon is the worst way.

Columbus is a paradise for walking. Its crown jewel is the High Street, along which one can walk for five hours altogether if one wishes. It has all kinds of sections, all kinds of interesting things, and few dull moments. Columbus also has several wonderful and each distinct metro parks where I of old learned Greek and spent many a happy moment; these I haven’t seen replicated elsewhere. Along with that, the usual biking paths and river walks obtain. Columbus, I am sorry to report, has people going on said trails wearing facemasks.

It is good weather for walking here: early autumn, a warmer clime, steady winds keep the skies blue, and the passion of not just white people, but midwestern white people in coronavirus season makes for wide and clear avoidance that is amusingly ludicrous. They are not as friendly here as in our more rural PA districts. That allows uninterrupted solitude, and that makes the walking paradise.

Coronavirus Chronicles – September 21

The death of a supreme court justice in this superheated political moment is no doubt going to have an effect. Are we living through the darkest hour? Is worse to come? Hard to tell. Sometimes I’m as blackpilled as the guys at the American Mind. I don’t know who I find more baffling in this election, the Biden voters or the weird American idea that the thing to do is to vote your conscience: they believe it is imperative to vote but not in a way that will actually influence the outcome. I can understand being completely indifferent, I can understand calculation; I don’t see why the procedure is accorded reverence when it is practically indiscriminately inclusive. I find it exotic.

The way the Democrats keep rolling out changes certainly does credit to their ability to change. I don’t think it means they are adaptable. Perhaps the term I’m looking for is reactionary . . .

In the world the Coronavirus is still taken seriously. Israel is in a second lockdown. Britain meditates it. Colombia emerges from it. Mexico seems to be going under—plans to go there met with the sudden rise in ticket prices as the border closure was extended. Some of us left the March-April mindset for a more moderated one in May-June, and at this point it is almost hallucinatory to me to go to those sections of America where the full severity of the restrictions still apply. It varies according to regional enforcement, you know. I don’t think our town enforces the way other towns do. It seems that to have a college makes a difference.

Fall fell swiftly on PA. September last year was warm, and October clung on to summer temperatures. That is not the case this year. We have the cool and often not even 70s. No more of the 80s in view. Time to start thinking about sweaters and jackets. It is like the summer, which got switched on to blistering after a cool, wet spring, got switched back off right on schedule. It appears the Coronavirus is taking a toll on Thanksgiving plans. Is it too early to wonder about Christmas?

Coronavirus Chronicles – September 14

Well, the governor of the commonwealth’s approach to the virus has been ruled unconstitutional in a federal court. I wonder if he’s the only governor to get taken to court or if he did something other governors did not. Is it that this is where the Constitution was written, after all? He’s been retaliatory in confrontations with the counties, and perhaps what went around came around. It is not felt that he has distinguished himself overall. But this is probably not the end of the matter. These kinds of things do have repercussions for the coming election.

John MacArthur is making a stand against LA county. I think it is grand that he’s decided to take a stand. I’m reading Michael Anton’s book about this election and he starts out describing California. His argument is that California actually can and probably will get worse, and that that’s what can happen to all of us. Joel Kotkin has been calling it neo-feudalism. I’m not sure that I wouldn’t welcome feudalism, but I’m not entirely sure that I would. If you are free, you still have to carry the burden of liberty.

Speaking of being weighed down, what has happened to Home Depot? Was it always lagging behind Lowe’s? You go to Home Depot and you see employees standing around, no lines, not a whole lot of bustle. You go to Lowe’s and you have to wait in lines—the place seems to be booming. Was it always thus? We went to Home Depot for some mini-blinds and they only had a damaged box of the size required. We went to Lowe’s and the thing was abundantly available.

I leap now from domestic improvement to foreign. Israel, with all the political turmoil and the turning gears of geopolitical realignments, is looking at a second lockdown. They know it will cost them 6.5 billion shekels. You know who is handling the virus better than many? The Oriental Republic of Uruguay. I saw them on a very exclusive list of countries from which travelers are allowed to go to Iceland, where they feel they have the thing under control. I also saw that while the CDC has most of the world as high risk for catching the virus, Mongolia is only a moderate risk. Did you know if you go from PA to VT you have to spend 14 days in quarantine? You can do it on your own and just tell the troopers patrolling the border.