The More Things Change…

 

…the more they remain the same.

Doing a little light reading…taking a little look-see at the Bubonic Plague.  Wow…the greatest of all pandemics.

I’m bored.  The better half is watching the Hallmark Channel which is like the greatest all-time worse things to do during a self-quarantine due to our most recent pandemic.  Oh, it’s baseball season…but it’s not.  At least it is the Hallmark Mystery Channel.

As I did my light reading, I could not help but notice similarities in our reaction to our present pandemic, Corvid-19, and the way our fourteenth-century forefathers reacted.  There may be something to this “history repeating itself.”

What concerns me is that despite some seven hundred years of information and knowledge-gathering, we do not seem to be any better prepared to deal with it scientifically than we were then.

Short history lesson.  The Black Death probably came from Central or East Asia along what was known as the Silk Road.  Traders transported their goods to major European cities but also carried stowaways in the form of rats.  These rats carried other stowaways, fleas.  The fleas carried a bacterium, Yersinia Pestis.  The fleas require a live host, the rats, and when the rats died, the fleas carrying Y Pestis simply jumped to the next closest host…another rat or a person.  Y Pestis carrying rats caused the Bubonic Plague.

During the Middle Ages, even the late Middle Ages, hygiene was…not…very…hygienic.  It wasn’t as bad as it has been portrayed but the flea carrying rats found a fertile environment to procreate in and a somewhat overcrowded population in cities chock full of hosts.  In other words, soap and water would have helped during these times as would a goodly amount of D’con had it been available or the invention of a better rat trap.

“Healers,” monarchs, and religious leaders never connected the plague with rats, fleas, and Y Pestis.  I kinda want to give them a pass.  They hadn’t developed past barbers overseeing bleedings, leeches to help keep the four humors of the body in balance and the burning of incense and sulfur…as well as rosemary, amber, musk, and fragrant flowers.  When they walked, people took their scents with them, carrying packets of herbs…

What is our excuse?  Despite advanced warning, people in high places chose to ignore the danger in hopes it would go away with the April warmth and humidity…It’s April 21 and it is still here.

I ask the question because it seems we would rather latch on to any conspiracy theory rather than science.  We would rather believe the opinion of a college dropout trying to sell advertisements on YouTube or on certain “news” channels or an Indian with a ‘piled high and deep’ degree in military science rather than epidemiologists with an MD following their names.  I digress.

Maybe we need a Jew to sacrifice to the purifying flames of a good ole witch burnin’.  Maybe we can use vestal virgins to keep the fires going.  We seem to be stoking the fires of disharmony, willing to burn our country to the ground instead of pulling together, not that our European forefathers were any better…but then we do benefit from scientific knowledge over superstition.  Don’t we?

Consider this, many Europeans at the time believed the supernatural, earthquakes and conspiracies were to blame.  God’s wrath, bad air released by earthquakes and the Jews, friars, witches, foreigners, beggars, pilgrims, lepers, and Romani were to blame.  Scapegoats, we must have scapegoats! 

Like those going before us, a large group believes, “It couldn’t just be a virus?”  There must be some ulterior motive behind it, even though the science says otherwise.  At least our forefathers knew nothing of viruses or bacteria.

One widely-held Middle Ages’ conspiracy theory was that the Jews were poisoning the water supplies.  Some old Jewish guy was seen feeding cracked grain to the ducks probably.  Christians had good reason to wonder, I guess.  Jews didn’t come down with the black, oozing lymph nodes as often as Christian Europeans, but no one considered Jews bathed more often and kept their homes clean and free of rats.  Hygiene, simple hygiene.

There is a parallel right there.  Have you seen the news shows and YouTube videos teaching us how we should wash our hands?  Seems after seven hundred years we would have progressed farther.

Another point to ponder, Jews lived separately from Christians in a type of “mandatory” self-quarantine before the Black Death hit and had a higher survival rate as an added result.  The Christian response was to burn them out…homes and entire towns.  They would have done better to have burned their own towns, killing the fleas and the rats that carried them.  That would have slowed down the plague more than burning a witch or a Jewish town or two.

Our response to stay home orders or quarantine?  Marching men, blocking traffic with automatic weapons.  Gonna shoot that bad, boy virus?  No, but you can’t force me to tempt fate…or the health of my family and friends.  Much love to the healthcare worker who stared some of them down.

At least we are not burning Jewish towns but violence against Asians has risen.  Chinese bioweapons are poisoning our air supply with 5G carrier waves after all or is it Bill Gates?  When he squints behind those hornrims, he looks a bit Chinese.  Scapegoats, we must have scapegoats with a conspiracy theory or two…just like my European forefathers.

An interesting fact during the Black Death.  The poor had a much lower incidence of survival.  They were already compromised.  Broken down by poorer diets and a harsher lifestyle, the serfs were the first to die from God’s wrath and went to their maker in much higher numbers.

Is there a parallel there?  I’m sure if I looked at the great flu pandemic of 1918-1919, I would see the same thing.  The poor dying in greater percentages.  I can see men sitting in their tall office buildings shrugging their shoulders and nodding in approval of “survival of the fittest” while their workers died, or men in business suits saying sacrificing our family members for the good of the economy is an honor.

During the Corvid-19 scare, we are seeing it again.  Compromised groups, groups without access to healthcare, people we call “essential workers” are being sacrificed for the greater good of our economy.  We are seeing high numbers infected by racial profile and interestingly, among grocery workers.  Along with them are the aged and those with underlying issues.  People we should be protecting instead of shrugging off as simply a statistic of “selective” Darwinism.

The response of some, “Well it’s not Corvid-19 killing these people, it’s their underlying conditions.”  Really?  Maybe you should go bleed yourself…a gallon should end the problem.

Every pandemic has caused major social upheaval.  Corvid -19 will be no different.  The Black Death led to the rise of towns and the middle class, the collapse of feudalism, the Reformation, just to name a few historical changes.  Maybe you should read about the changes caused by the Black Death to get an idea of what might be ahead for us.   Don’t I’ll probably write about it eventually.

The first thing you should keep in mind, the Black Death only peaked in the mid-1300s, it didn’t go away.  It came back again and again.  Corvid-19 will spike again if we choose superstition over science.

***

Superstition is not the best word, but I don’t know what might be.  We have a cult that believes nothing put forth by our scientists, medical doctors or news reporters and that a robust stock market somehow helps us all.

The picture of the rat…I personally have nothing against four-legged rats as long as they stay in the wild.  I don’t like the two-legged version anywhere.

Don Miller’s author’s page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR0KTel1ZOkEs6ionAjK8k5jwlt8q9QKXKdsazPkJQYrwJD2ZPhwsMtCpZs

 

Boy! I Say, Boy! You Can’t Quarantine Stupid

 

In 2015 I wrote about our Southern reluctance to embrace change.  In the post, “Sot in our Ways”, using a regional pronunciation of the word set, I chronicled our propensity for looking backward.  The phrase forward-thinking is not a part of the vocabulary for many who surround me.  With the invasion of the Corvid-19 virus, I’ve found we haven’t changed in the five years since the original was published…in fact, we’ve become even more resistant with the current political environment.

Our Foghorn Leghorn sounding “guv’nah” (No insult intended, I like his Southern accent.  One should look for something to like in a person)…our governor, Henry McMaster, seems to be resistant to the idea of issuing a “stay at home” order, making my state, South Carolina, a bastion of coronavirus dissent in the region of the Southeast.  Governor McMaster has instead called on all South Carolinians to “use common sense.”  I am afraid…very afraid.

To his defense, according to Charleston’s Post and Courier, Governor McMaster doesn’t believe he can legally issue a stay at home or shelter-in-place order on what I assume are First Amendment grounds.  Judging from the number of people driving around and on the lakes, I would say a large percentage of his constituents agree with him.

Consequently, at this time, he has issued twelve executive orders, closing schools, and other nonessential businesses…wait, schools aren’t essential? Despite these executive orders, SOME have ignored the orders at worse, or tried to find ways around it at best “cuz yur takin’ way mah rights”.  No, you can’t quarantine stupid.

The governor closed furniture and shoe stores while deciding liquor and gun stores were essential.   I wonder how many spouses of either gender will be drunkenly maimed or killed by newly purchased firearms before the quarantine is over.  “Put on your high heeled sneakers….”   (I heard this morning there has been a spike in domestic crimes.  Who didn’t see this coming?)

Breaking News:  As of 5:00 today, April 7, we will be under a “Home or Work” order which will change little that wasn’t in place at 4:59.  It does limit the number of people who can be inside of businesses at one time.  It does not force church closures but it is suggested.

As a retired history teacher, I am quite familiar with our last major attempt at dissent…that was in December of 1860.  I hope our modern-day dissent doesn’t reap the same outcomes ‘cause the last one didn’t go too well.  South Carolina lost 18,000 to 21,000 men, or one of every fourteen white South Carolinians in the Civil War, due more to disease than by shot, saber or Minié ball.  It seems we didn’t keep very good records concerning our slave or civilian populations but I’m sure you could add a few of them to the overall number.

Sorry, back to modern times.  While the US response to the budding pandemic was slow, a great many states in the South were even slower to react against Corvid-19, not just South Carolina,  There are eight other states reluctant to issue stay at home or shelter-in-place orders, none Southern unless you count Arkansas.  We have a large portion of our population who believes not staying at home is somehow “standing up to tyranny”.  I did not know a virus could be so tyrannical but explains why gun stores are still open.

Southerners just don’t like being told what to do by that damn Yankee “gubment” in Washington or its ‘flunkies’ in Columbia.  It doesn’t matter if sheltering might be a good thing to do, might save lives.  It’s the principle of it all, I guess.  Ain’t nobody tellin’ me what to do no matter how stupid I look or if it kills me.  Remember the famous last words, “Hey Y’all watch dis!”

As I drove through the nearby town of Travelers Rest, my facemask and latex gloves already in place, I noticed the downtown streets were somewhat deserted.  That was because everyone was at Walmart or down the road at Lowes.  Lines to the Chik-fil-a Drive Through stretched out to the street.

I used to like my Walmart; it had a higher class of a redneck than most.  Not sure now.  Social distancing be damned, the parking lot was wall to wall with no one particularly concerned with keeping a six-foot cushion.  When I broke down and grocery shopped this early Sunday morning I saw few wearing gloves and fewer wearing masks.  Social distancing?  Not likely.

I think we are confused by the social part of social distancing.  Our teachers did a great job teaching what it means to be social…not so much on distancing.  It’s the opposite of being social.  We shouldn’t be social.  I’ve heard physical distancing used, maybe Guv’nah  Leghorn should use the term.  “Boy!  I say, Boy! Maintain your physical distancing!”  I don’t think it will matter…someone will hear physical and think it means we should get freaky. 

It’s all a government coverup anyway.  Right?  A test run to sweep away our rights just like when the United Nations was invading us during the Obama years.  They’re here to steal our guns….  They didn’t get yours?  You didn’t see them?

Friends and former student’s social media posts make me wonder how we became so susceptible to conspiracy theories.  I remember intelligent kids…maybe I’m losing my memory or maybe they weren’t as bright as I thought.  They don’t seem to know which is going to kill more of us; the virus, the new 5G network or the Democrats attempt to crash the economy to get at Trump.  Let’s combine a few conspiracy theories, shall we?

You did know the coronavirus was created by the Chinese government to weaken our economy. driving down the stock market so they can purchase what little of the United States they don’t already own?  Or, is it part of a human depopulation scheme by the world-class villain, Microsoft’s Bill Gates?  Or, did it stem from a tainted batch of children’s blood that the world’s liberal celebrities drink to stay young?

None of those are correct and have nothing to do with a tainted, undercooked bat sandwich either.  It is a Turkmenistanian bioweapon transmitted over the airways by the 5G death ray, all financed by George Soros, and genetically engineered by Bill Gates to target conservatives only.  I’m sure there is a counter-theory involving the Koch Brothers and liberal bones being burned and crushed into fertilizer.  

Attempting to be humorous, I posted my theory with a LOL emoji in response to a meme.  I had people agreeing and commenting on what that dastardly George Soros might do next.  “For real?” Mentally I see many nodding their heads in agreement.  I actually saw a similar theory expressed today.

Dammit, folks! Everything is not a conspiracy.  Sometimes things are just…things…a deadly coronavirus is just a deadly coronavirus.  Every attempted change is not a bad thing.  Do you resist changing your underwear?  Don’t answer that, just think about it and if you don’t, do so now.  Personal hygiene is important even if not taking the quarantine seriously.

Six feet, wash your hands, keep your hands out of your nose and mouth, stay at home unless you are an “essential.”  For sweet Baby James’s sake, self-quarantine for the good of mankind.

From a smart former student, something I found hopeful,                                                    “It’s okay to take this Coronavirus pandemic seriously…and still find joy in life.  It’s okay to worry about what will happen next week, next month, or next year…and still, make jokes and laugh with friends.  It’s okay to be fearful… .and still have faith that God’s will is going to be done.”

Be hopeful, just be smart.

Addendum

Before my Southern friends and family tar and feather me, I do know there are idiots and conspiracists in all regions.  It is not just a Southern reaction.  I pick on “us” because I know “us”…and if the shoe fits….

The quote is from Katie Orr, a former Tamassee-Salem student, now a teacher, and mother.

Don Miller’s author’s page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?

The image of Foghorn Leghorn https://www.pinterest.com/susiewjones/foghorn-leghorn-best-cartoon-ever/

If you are interested in reading ”Sot in our Ways”  https://cigarman501.wordpress.com/2015/09/24/sot-in-our-ways/

Wake up?  I am Awake What About You?

I was told to wake up by a former student.  I hold no ill will toward him and am happy he gave me a topic and a reason to vent.

I realize I don’t know everything, but I am awake.  Sometimes I wish wasn’t, just caught in a bad nightmare or watching bad horror movies.

I was young, but I wasn’t asleep during the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, used to stoke up war fever against Vietnam and communism.  I watched Cronkite describe the Tet Offensive and the destruction of any belief in victory. I cringed at the Mai Lai Massacre and its attempted cover-up.  I read the Pentagon Papers which uncovered the secrets of our clandestine involvement in Vietnam and its neighbors from Truman to Nixon.

I watched hollow-eyed veterans come home to a disrespect they didn’t deserve.  I saw the aftermath of the student massacres at Kent State and Orangeburg…something we the people didn’t deserve.  I viewed the Vietnam protests on my black and white TV.

The evening news showed protesters threatened with thirty caliber machine guns in Chicago and journalist Mike Wallace thrown to the floor for asking a question before being escorted out of the Democratic Convention.  Carnage raged outside the convention center as Daily’s minions used batons and tear gas to disperse protestors.

I experienced the Civil Rights era with government attempts to discredit Black leaders and the Black Panthers…something we still attempt to do today unless we need a good quote to make a point or someone to focus hatred upon.  1968 WAS a time when we really shouldn’t have believed our FBI.  No J. Edger Hoover probably wasn’t a crossdresser, but he was a paranoid racist at his best.

In real time, I watched people of color marginalized, beaten, bombed, and their buses set on fire.  Their votes suppressed by men who looked like me flying a flag from old time’s there not forgotten.  With reports from several states, how has that changed?

I lived through the assassinations of two Kennedys, a King and attempted assassinations on two Presidents.  I don’t believe Oswald or Jones did their evil alone but have no definitive proof, so I don’t spout off about it or embrace conspiracy theories.  I don’t believe in conspiracy theories about bombs being sent through the mail.

I witnessed, in black and white, the murder of a sovereign Asian countries’ president and a military coup but didn’t know we were complicit until well after the fact.  Complicit in attempted assassinations on Castro and the Bay of Pigs?  Yeah, those two and others.  Still, until the Seventies, I believed we wore the white hat in our gunfights at high noon and were better than assassinations, coups, and invasions.

Watergate and Contragate?  I witnessed the hearings that followed, a President riding off into the sunset and a Marine Colonel falling on his own sword so another President didn’t have to ride off to California.

Wake up?  Bullshit!

Gerald Ford told the nation their great nightmare was over.  Bill Clinton comforted the people of Oklahoma City and the nation after a mad bomber killed over a hundred and sixty.  George W. Bush left an elementary school reading to reassure a nation when planes crashed into skyscrapers, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.  Yes, as we continue to point out, they were imperfect men, but they knew how to act in times of national distress.  They knew how to calm and unify.

Why do I need to wake up?  There is plenty of evil to go around, and I’ve lived through much of it, much of it created and covered up by our own government.  I don’t need to embrace loudmouths who make a living spouting conspiracy and pointing fingers at the other side.  Maybe we should wake up and realize they are nothing more than small-minded hatemongers attempting to make a buck.

When you share their hatred and conspiracies, you become a part of the problem.  Maybe you should wake up and realize when you share hate you become the problem that is undermining the nation and your friends and neighbors.  We need compromise, not a conspiracy.

More rants and musings at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

The image was liberated fromhttps://www.lifehack.org/648887/how-to-detect-a-wolf-in-sheeps-clothing