Thursday, February 3, 2022

The empire of death

Inscription entering the Paris Catacombs. It reads "Stop! This is the empire of death."

     A grim New York Times analysis found that the death toll from COVID in the United States far outstrips that in any other wealthy industrialized country: at least 63 percent higher than in England or Germany or France.
     One barely needs to mention why. More than a third of Americans—36 percent—are not fully vaccinated. In Canada, it's 20 percent. More than a third of Americans are obese—in Japan it's 4 percent—which makes a sufferer far more susceptible to die from COVID.
     Fat, medically ignorant people. Not exactly what is traditionally in mind when hopping around, poking your fist in the air and chanting, "We're Number One! We're Number One!"
     But any port in a storm, right?
     With vaccines politicized, 20 percent of the United States citizens refusing their shots entirely and even more skipping the booster, the omicron is scything across the country virtually unchecked. I don't know about you, but lots of my friends and relatives are suddenly getting it. All vaccinated, thank goodness. Those who aren't are 23 times more likely to be hospitalized. Already 891,000 have died over the past two years, and at this rate—about 2,500 COVID deaths. a day—we'll reach a million dead before St. Patrick's Day.
     Not that the anti-vaccine crowd will care. As I've said many times before, once you start ignoring reality, the specific reality being ignored hardly matters.
     And the rest of us? The most cautious follower of science falls prey to the natural acceptance of almost any risk. Think of how the risk of any new technology is viewed: autonomously-driving cars. Each death in their testing is treated as a specific calamity. Totally unacceptable! While regular human-piloted cars can mow down 20,000 or 30,000 people every year and nobody balks at getting behind the wheel. Because we're used to that. Maybe someday a half million or so Americans dying every year of COVID is just the price we pay for living in an ignorant, fear-ridden, anti-social country. Like school shootings. Just something shrugged off. What can a person do? It isn't like anybody can do anything.
     Plus most Americans couldn't find other countries on a map, never mind keep track of what happens in them. If they did, we'd have universal health care. And frankly, between Putin getting ready to grab Ukraine, and his biggest fanboy, Donald Trump gathering his energies to seize control of the government at home in a more focused and forceful manner, I could see an argument that COVID is the least of our problems right now. Which is also terrifying.


  1. I hate to admit that I’ve lost all sympathy for those who choose not to vaccinate. Not proud of it but it’s like feeling sorry an enemy in a time of war.
    I do sense we are very much in a civil war with a strange form of combat.

  2. Sadie and Maud

    Maud went to college.
    Sadie stayed home.
    Sadie scraped life
    With a fine toothed comb.

    She didn’t leave a tangle in
    Her comb found every strand.
    Sadie was one of the livingest chicks
    In all the land.

    Sadie bore two babies
    Under her maiden name.
    Maud and Ma and Papa
    Nearly died of shame.

    When Sadie said her last so-long
    Her girls struck out from home.
    (Sadie left as heritage
    Her fine-toothed comb.)

    Maud, who went to college,
    Is a thin brown mouse.
    She is living all alone
    In this old house.

    (from Selected Poems , Harper & Row, 1963)

  3. People are in hospitals, dying from it, and still believe Covid is a hoax. Their family members die from it and it doesn't change their minds. Their Maximum Leader has finally managed to encourage them to get the vaccine, but that's the one thing they refuse to hear from him. All they know is that they're "done with Covid." Except they, and we, aren't, and the main thing they could do to actually help, they refuse to do. It doesn't seem much like the America that sacrificed so much to help win WWII, but it's the one we're stuck with. And how much worse will it get if the Republicans retake the Senate, the House, the Presidency, to go along with that ever-so-independent Supreme Court? Not pleasant to ponder.

  4. A couple of months ago, I "did the math" and my estimation was that we'd hit the million mark in late spring. Early summer at the latest. But that was before the omicron surge. The daily death count has almost doubled since before the holidays, and now we'll reach a million dead by next month, or perhaps in April.

    When the Lion roars out: "Somebody pulled my tail!" to Dorothy, in the Emerald City, Dorothy calmly replies: "You did it to yourself." The anti-vaxxer maskholes are also doing it to themselves. They are totally responsible for their own hospitalizations and their own deaths.

    Combat veterans say that the sight of enemy dead represents relief. The dead can't fire their weapons anymore. Each dead enemy combatant means one more soldier who can no longer kill you.

    So each anti-vaxxer's death not only means one less potential killer who can no longer cough or sneeze on you, but also one less vote for Trump, and his understudies. If that attitude is cruel, or even heartless, so be it. If the refuseniks still expect my sympathy at this late date, they can find it in my dictionary--right between "shit" and "syphilis."

    1. I’ve not heard that pithy closing line before; I may have to steal it.

    2. I stole it first. I'm pretty sure it comes from the military, possibly as far back as Army or Marine basic training during WWII. Some drill instructor probably said it, and it spread.

      Decades ago, while watching the 70s British WWII documentary series called "World at War"...I saw an interview with a disabled veteran. He said he asked an orthopedic surgeon about "sympathy for the disability" and the surgeon answered, "It's in the dictionary, between shit and syphilis." I think that's where I first heard it. Or maybe it was in one of those movies about Marine recruits in boot camp.

  5. Cognitive dissonance concerning American claims of superiority go back a long way. Doctor Johnson, not a fan of the American Revolution, once asked: "How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liverty among the drivers of negroes?"



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