The Bizarro World of the Overmasked

Everyone focuses on the Republican areas where the locals refuse to wear a mask in order to make a political statement of some kind. But there are other areas, dominated by liberal Democrats, where a different kind of insanity prevails.

14 thoughts on “The Bizarro World of the Overmasked

  1. While Ted may be right to suspect mere superstition and grandstanding behind his neighbors’ posturing, there is actually no by the way no clear-cut scientific logic to just how distant social distancing is supposed to be.

    In the absence of a clear line drawn in the sand people will incrementally herd closer and closer together again. As they don’t get Sars-CoV2, their behavior gets reinforced. Until they do get infected when the pandemic returns big time in the winter.

    Plus, people can be forgiven for not understanding the intricacies of CoV2 transmission dynamics – especially given all the misinformation, both legitimate (even expert virologists only had estimates even a few months ago some of them turned out to be wrong), to vapid and downright malicious.

  2. Bullying is bad in general, but is bullying people who spread a virus really that high on our list? Big picture, historically pandemics are responsible for more deaths than all wars combined (as does smoking). If anything, I find it amazing how little bullying there is in this direction.

    Try spending time in an area where people object to masks. To the point of you wearing a mask either makes them think you’re actively contagious (well, at least they keep their distance then even though their eyes cry bloody murder) or somehow passive-aggressively making them feel bad about not wearing one themselves -> so they start bullying you.

    Vegetarians and non-smokers will recognize this dynamic.

    I guess I’m playing the world smallest violin in honor of those unjustly persecuted superspreaders, smokers, and meat-eaters of the world 😉

  3. 1. The six-feet thing is junk science to begin with. It’s like Majel Barrett’s voice on Star Trek telling Picard that his crew will suffer fatal radiation exposure in EXACTLY 11 minutes 14 seconds.
    2. Trump Derangement Syndrome. Trump hatred is so massive, no one will look at the issue dispassionately. No one would have shut down the economy. The U.S. was frontloaded with pre-sick people due to the for-profit medical system. COVID was probably similar in exposure and fatality to other countries once you factor out the morbidly obese, extremely neglected elderly, and the poor. (Fun fact: no media source — at least that I’m aware of — has run those numbers. Other fun fact: being morbidly obese, old, or poor puts you at greater risk for premature death by a whole host of things: cancer, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, etc. So saying COVID does it is kind of like warning us that salt has high sodium levels.)
    3. Just about no one is wearing the masks properly to begin with, so I have to wonder what utility they have at this point. (I still wear mine, even though I keep thinking that — somehow — I had this back at the beginning of December. I had like a month when I was sleeping 15 hours a day and had no ability to concentrate at all.)

  4. The “hate” half of society’s love-hate relationship with science is due, at least in part, to the lack of understanding that IF the much-demanded “certainty” [in general and about details of a 100-year plague] were attainable, that would define the end of science … [so much for the next generation of smart phones!!!].

    This leaves us with a reasonable expectation of a “>90% consensus” on important issues of science that, itself, takes a lot longer to achieve than Americans, certainly, have the patience for which to wait. Among these are 1) what is the correct “social distance” 2) how does the virus affect the body? 3) what are effective treatments? 4) when will vaccines be ready?

    Note, of course, “it takes longer than we want to wait” becomes A LOT LONGER under the horrible scenario of health care providers, who are the first link in the scientific process, dying from exposure to patients or have to report to work tomorrow wondering if they’ll be next.

    Some issues emerging during this plague have been essentially resolved to at least “>90% consensus” long before the arrival of SARS-CoV-2, as in face masks. Those who resist them are
    1) demanding unachievable certainty [like the climate change deniers’: “we need absolute proof” mantra – gleaned from the tobacco industry murderers] and 2) unable to cope with the notion that the realm of biology [like catastrophic meteorological events] sometimes interferes with the smooth progression of the lives to which we have become accustom and, with luck, comfortable.

    It’s not clear to me why the “automatic-weapon-toting-self-described-sniffers-of-tyranny” decided it was the suggestion of wearing face masks [was it EVER a mandate?] that warranted intimidation of various state legislatures instead of, perhaps, irritation with 1) a crumbling healthcare system 2) availability of good/higher education only for the wealthy — or those willing to go deep into debt before being “qualified” for work or 3) plague catalyzed “stimulus” measures that, as usual, went, for the most part, to the obscenely wealthy with a pittance allocates to the general populace including the 50 million who found themselves out of work 4) all those jobs STILL overseas and Americans are paying higher prices so His Highness can brag about his tariffs or 5) other legitimate gripes, etc., etc., asymptotically to infinity, with NEVER the need to mention of face masks.

    .

  5. What’s not to like?

    I get to walk around wearing a mask while carrying a concealed weapon and I don’t stand out in the crowd.

    Given that Covid deniers take mask wearing to be a political statement and that I live in America, land of crazy belligerents, that suits me fine.

  6. I know that walking outside without a mask I’m a whole lot safer than when being in an elevator wearing a mask.

    But when I approach someone wearing a mask when I’m outside I pull my mask up for them only because I don’t want to make old and immune suppressed people feel more endangered, even if they might be wrong, because they really are dropping like flies, and with as little concern as one holds for flies, too.

    Some people don’t care if they kill you as long as they can’t be held directly accountable for the killing.

    It might only be a misguided show of solidarity with the vulnerable in a world of selfish indifference but that’s my choice.

    And I have actually had physical fights to exercise my freedom to not be indifferent to belligerents who like to use their power to dominate the more vulnerable among us.

    • This is an excellent point.

      There are times when I know I cannot possibly be infectious because I literally did not have any exposure during the last 1-14 days.

      This is true throughout for people who have tested positive on a PCR test more than 2 weeks ago.

      However, of course other people around you cannot know that – nor be expected to take your assessment on faith.

      If nothing else, wearing a mask is a message that one recognizes that the pandemic is real and maybe we shouldn’t default to business as usual.

  7. Health care workers are dying because in this land of multi-billionaires public health is no concern.

    We were told not to wear N95 masks so that front line workers might have more access to them.

    It’s not that everyone wouldn’t benefit from wearing N95 masks, but because human lives don’t matter when matched up against the dollars saved by shorting public health.

    A shortage of N95 masks now enables price gouging and super profits for capitalist pigs.

    It’s the American Dream: big money for the few and big death for the many.

  8. I live in an area that has maybe 99% mask wearing of people who are not jogging or riding a bike. But I can also drive 5 miles and find only 5% wearing masks. I’m going to file this concern regarding over-zealous mask enforcement in the same place I put articles about the massive problem we’re going to have recycling solar panels in 35 years. If we have that problem, then the actual, life-threatening challenge to our very existence is probably under control.

  9. Government only Succeeds when it Fails. Unless the Policy of Failure, Fails.

    “Each government program carries within it the seeds of future programs that will be ‘needed’ to clean up the mess the first program creates,” writes the late Harry Browne in his superb book “Why Government Doesn’t Work.” “No matter how much mischief it causes, government always shows up in a cavalry uniform – riding in to rescue us from the problems it created.” (Think 0bamacare)

    “Without chaos, politicians have no future.”

    • Organization disorganizes.

      Every advantage that comes on one day will be followed by another day where the advantage becomes a necessity, and after, again, where the necessity has become a new burden.

      Today’s solutions become tomorrow’s problems.

      A new order brings a new disorder.

      The violence of law attempts to preserve an order but creates new and unforeseen disorders.

      Science is like magic: its wonders divert attention (temporarily) from its disasters.

      So goes it for science no less than for government. We are awed by new technology and then appalled by the new entropic disorder that sneaks in alongside while attention is diverted toward the new.

  10. This is so profoundly on the mark–especially the dualing anti-scientisms on either side of it. So. Thank you.

    My favorite recent personal story. I was in a state park the other day, had just gotten in my car, all windows closed, no one else nearby. Along comes a very fit looking jogger, looked like one of these hyper-runners, tall and thin, incredibly lean, uber healthy. A hundred feet from my car, with windows closed, he suits up. A hundred feet after he passes me, off comes the mask. So, clearly the virus now has evil glass-penetrating particles. Fuckin’ A, people! What’s really starting to worry me is that we’ll have to keep this up even after we get a vaccine, or herd immunity, or daily testing. Because, you know, getting covid will be 1/1000th as likely as having a car accident. Or as deadly as tripping over your shoelaces, or eating a donut wtih sugar on it.

    • First, let us note that this person, however annoying, is not harming anyone.

      Now, is the behavior of the fitness nut necessarily irrational?

      For all we know, this person has a spouse with diabetes. To be able to go outside *at all* he wants to ensure that he will wear a mask whenever in contact with any person under any circumstance.

      While this will clearly be superfluous in many interactions (such as yours), one always follows through with the rule so it becomes automatic. It is also easier to follow rules even when strictly unnecessary than to constantly second-guess whether it is currently applicable.

      We do the same with most dangerous activities, e.g. carrying guns: 1) make sure gun is not loaded. 2) do not point at a person, ever. 3) finger off the trigger. This 3-fold protection is actually quite rational precisely because it is redundant: it gives us a safety buffer even if one of the safety measures is accidentally disregarded.

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