“The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.” — Joseph Conrad * “The systems of explanation, historical and psychological, that we employ to explain ordinary human behavior, however extreme, cannot explain Hitler, who represents, (theologian Emil) Fackenheim believes, a ‘radical evil,’ an ‘eruption of demonism into history…’” — Ron Rosenbaum, Explaining Hitler * […]
In February, 1944, Lt. Ed Charles was a Navigator in the 336th Squadron, 95th Bomb Group out of Horham, England. One night he was sleeping in the barracks when the door flew open and the C.Q. (Charge of Quarters) went probing through the darkness with a flashlight. “Is there an empty bunk in there? We have a new arrival and he needs a place to sleep.” Ed told the CQ the bunk next to his was vacant. He sat up. He offered to help the new guy unpack his gear and get squared away.
I let the dogs out late the other night and looked up in the sky to see a train of satellites — forty, fifty, sixty of them — racing through the stars. It is a testament to effective quarantine — and a purpose-built informational firewall — that I didn’t know what I was seeing, and so had one of those increasingly rare moments in life where everything was startlingly new, and fresh, and even exciting.
In response to wildly irresponsible remarks made by the artist David Hockney, who told the NY Post that smokers are immune to the coronavirus, the Figure 8 Ranch assembled our emergency response team for a counter-briefing. Here is an unclassified transcript of the briefing for widest dissemination…
“NO BLOOD FOR OIL, man!” That’s what the guitar player said as we listened to the news on the radio, trundling down the 405 Freeway in a panel truck. It was 1990, the U.S. was fixing to boot Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait and I was serving as a roadie for a 1950s-themed rock-n-roll band heading southbound from Los Angeles […]
I am now 72 hours into a self-imposed news blackout and the results have been marvelous. The decision to quarantine my mind, and spare it the slings and arrows of fear-based journalism and morale-sucking stupidity, was actually compelled by a mistake.
August 23, 1572 — St. Bartholomew’s Eve. Man of Commerce and Soldier of Fortune Mattias Tannhauser rides into Paris, where all hell is about to break loose. At a tavern called The Red Ox, he pauses to take his repast and reflect upon the state of affairs in his adopted country… “Tannhauser had abandoned all involvement and even […]
Shakespeare was right, of course. We come sliding into the world and, drawing our first breath in it, seem to somehow intuit life’s pre-eminent lesson: we are entitled to precisely nothing — not food, not water, not toilet paper, and certainly not surgical masks and ventilators. And so it is that in our first few moments in the arena we give a great angry cry in protest — until someone sticks a tit in our mouths.
It’s worth noting the possibility that a novel coronavirus, the result of some communist party jackass French-kissing a bat at a food court in Wuhan, China, will accomplish what Chairman Xi and Bernie never could have: turning America into a socialist paradise. That’s a story for the ages if there ever was one.
Turns out, I underestimated the potentials regarding COVID-19. I thought this would be another SARS or MERS — potentially dangerous, but containable; burning out relatively quickly. I wish I’d read this February 24 article in The Atlantic, which is still a worthy read now: With its potent mix of characteristics, this virus is unlike most that capture popular attention: It […]
Enjoying the pandemic much? That’s a fair question because so far, from my little combat outpost where I sit and dream of a former life — when I thought I was Con Conagher — we seem to be collectively overdoing the doom. Don’t get me wrong, I take this virus very seriously, as I would any kind of worldwide illness, but there is a noticeable absence of optimism in the air.
“Why, believing as he did, that all human obduracy was susceptible to common sense, was he unable to turn back? Why was he determined to complete his journey even if it meant putting his life in danger? At what point had this prank, this joke, this piece of horseplay become serious?”
–John Cheever, The Swimmer