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One of my favorite scenes from The Jetsons was when Mr. Spacely made Uniblab the robot George’s supervisor. Uniblab got George to say some unkind things about Spacely by luring him into a card game. “Martian blackjack, everybody wins!” My brother Jay and I have used it as a catch-phrase to describe when disingenuous people get what they want.
You don’t have to look far right now to find Uniblabs. Have you noticed that COVID-19 is suddenly becoming less of a threat. This isn’t necessarily because omicron is less easily spread, or doesn’t have the capacity to make people sick. It’s not because more people are getting vaccinated. The vaccination curve has pretty well flattened.
Omicron case counts are way down past the peak of the spike. That is good news, but who’s to say that the spike won’t return with another variant? (My personal informed opinion is that so many people have gotten omicron, plus the number vaccinated and boosted, that the disease is quickly becoming endemic, like the Spanish Flu (H1N1) did, and will be a seasonal thing.)
The “science” has not changed, but the social cost has. People are simply tired of being hypocrites. During the spike, plenty of elites found themselves unmasked among the hoi polloi, while publicly pushing for restrictions. The last bastion of masking is still schools, and mostly because school kids can’t really fight back.
All over the nation, vaccination requirements and mask mandates are dropping like flies. Soon, the game will be done, and maybe schools can get back to some semblance of “normal” again. The toll on our kids is grave. A Pew Trust study from last November noted that suspected suicide attempts among adolescents jumped 31% in 2020 compared to 2019, with a spike of 51% for girls aged 12-17.
I don’t think masks stopped omicron, or even slowed it down. I’m not talking about some individual clinical study of N95 masks worn properly. Sure, if you PPE-up like an astronaut, you can stop pretty much anything. I’m talking about mask mandates that allow cheaper-by-the-dozen bargain masks, homemade cloth masks, gaiters, scarfs, and people who wear masks under their noses.
Mask mandates were enforced for performative social conformity. Nothing more. Unless every place in America was going to hand out N95 masks (like Fulton County courthouse does for jurors—I know because I had jury duty last week), requiring masks was mostly theater.
Americans grew tired of the transparently stupid excuses (“I held my breath”) and political genuflecting (Stacey Abrams with Decatur elementary kids). The one-act COVID show is no longer dramatic, or funny, or compelling. We know how it ends. It’s all Martian blackjack.
Putin and Ukraine
When I’m right, I’m right. I still may be wrong, but I never thought Putin would actually invade Ukraine. I think he will get exactly what he wants without an invasion. It costs money to keep 130,000 troops on high alert and exercises on the border surrounding Ukraine. The troops lose their edge just sitting there. The possibility and probability of some live-fire mistakes or unintentional conflict grows. Stumbling into a war is a bad outcome.
Now the AP is reporting that Russia is pulling some troops back.
Asked about the announcement, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that Russia holds military drills “on its own territory and according to its own plans, they start, go on and end as planned.” The minister said such drills always adhered to a schedule — regardless of “who thinks what and who gets hysterical about it, who is deploying real informational terrorism.”
I believe Putin did everything he could to promote hysterics, and to project an invasion stance. But he never meant to actually pull the trigger. Russia wants Ukraine to not be part of NATO. NATO isn’t too keen on bringing Ukraine into its club anytime soon anyway.
Note that within Russia itself, there’s no war fever. It’s not even talked about. Invading without preparing the Russian people to accept inevitable losses is a recipe for massive unrest for Putin, who enjoys being somewhat respected (as far as dictators go) by his people. It’s possible this is all a feint, but I don’t think so. I think the feint was the buildup and threat of an invasion, and the payoff is Ukraine President Zelensky accepting he won’t be in NATO, or become a weapons staging area for serious western arms. (Javelin anti-tank missiles don’t count.)
Russia may still use its Spetsnaz special forces to carve off some territory in the Donbass region. The Russian parliament is set to recognize those regions as independent governments, which means Putin will take them the same way he took Crimea—with a plebiscite, Russian-supplied partisans-turned-local-militia, and special forces. It’s not worth going to war over for Zenensky, or for NATO.
The whole Russia war fever was a stage play, and Putin put on a Tony Award winning performance.
The Canadian Freedom Convoy truckers were never going to win. Their right to peaceful assembly doesn’t extend to blocking international borders and trade. Over 90% of Canadian truckers are vaccinated, and some of them stand with the 10% who are not, and therefore can’t haul loads into the U.S. The that fact unvaccinated truckers can’t cross the border wasn’t going to change.
However, the presence of a large number of truckers disrupting commerce along the U.S. border was giving ideas to others in America, who have much more capacity for grievance than Canuck truckers. There’s nothing wrong with peaceful gathering to address grievances to the government. The Canadian truckers were peaceful, but disruptive. They were not terrorists.
If the truckers were terrorists, then what is BLM? Antifa is a borderline terrorist group to begin with, but by the standard of calling Freedom Convoy truckers terrorists, that makes Antifa as bad as al-Qaeda.
Personally, I don’t think there’s any reason why Canada has to have stricter COVID-19 restrictions than America. I think Canadians don’t particularly like Justin Trudeau, because he’s not a particularly likable guy. But I do think Trudeau is reasonable, and will work it out.
As COVID-19 begins to fade from the world stage, and we start the social healing process, those who governed poorly will reap the whirlwind if they try to hold on to their lockdowns too long. The Canadian Freedom Convoy was just one eruption, a letting off of steam, that needed to be dealt with before it spread.
It ended as well as it could. Martian blackjack, everybody wins (except the unvaccinated truckers, who were never going to win).
I’m sorry. Yesterday’s piece was a pure rant. You’re not terrible people—our readers are the best! It’s the politicians who are terrible. I’m grateful someone is reading what we write, and I’m grateful to you. Thank you.
On the other hand, I had a pretty busy weekend. We’re dog-sitting a golden retriever named Delta Dawn, my inlaws’ dog. We love Delta, but her late-night “I need to go out” habits put a dent in our peaceful sleep.
I also picked up a new EV on Saturday. I have Kia EV6 First Edition #142 (out of 1500). It’s the coolest car I’ve ever driven (including a test drive in a Tesla Model 3).
Check out the Super Bowl ad for the EV6. I’ll be writing more about my research, experience, and EVs when I have time to document everything. I’m thinking every carmaker is looking to be a Tesla killer. Kia’s got a strong argument.
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