Quarantine, Six Weeks In

Thoughts on six weeks of quarantine (so far):

* I had a really good week last week, with The Last Emperox hitting a bunch of best seller lists and some other good things which I can’t talk about yet falling into place, and aside from that life at home continuing on in a generally pleasant fashion. Yesterday I was out in the yard with Athena and Krissy, and looked back at the house, with trees blooming and the sky blue and filled with fluffy white clouds, and I thought about the fact that I had a really good week, in the middle of a global pandemic.

Which, I don’t know, might seem rude to some folks. I’m not going to pretend that my quarantine experience hasn’t been generally atypical compared to many others, and I’m also not trying to tempt fate here. But also, I think it’s okay to appreciate good moments in bad times. They might be the most important times to appreciate good moments.

* With that said, I’ve definitely not been immune to the stress of the quarantine life. I’m sleeping more, but I’m also sleeping at weirder times, relative to the before times, so I’m not sure all that sleep is much more restful. I’m not being creative at all, which is fine since I’m still on the publicity treadmill for The Last Emperox (five online events next week!), but one day — next Friday, in point of fact — the main PR push for this book will be over and then I do have to be on to the next thing.

And also, I miss friends, many of whom I was supposed to be seeing on the book tour, and I more than mildly resent the virus (which to be clear, is incapable of caring about my resentment) that it deprived me of the ability to see them in the flesh, and to hang out with them and have a meal with them. I keep in contact with most of them online, obviously, and that’s not bad. But if you’ve already made plans to see people, to have that all shelved feels like a loss. Over the last couple of weeks I have been thinking of all the places I was supposed be on any one particular day, and all the people I was supposed to see. It’s saddening.

Also also, I have the mehs pretty hard, in which nothing seems particularly interesting to me, i.e., I’m not watching shows or movies because I can’t be bothered to give some my attention for that long, I’m reading less for the same reason, video games not giving me a jolt, etc. I assume some of this is just general restlessness, but after six weeks we can also just admit quarantine ennui is a real thing that happens to people. Again, the fact I’m doing so much promotional work right now means I’m not entirely trapped in a cycle of anhedonia — I do have to be up for those things — but I’m not going to pretend it’s not a thing I’m experiencing right now.

* All the above, incidentally, is why you have my official permission to tell all those people who are saying that you should develop a new hobby under quarantine and/or if you’re not doing six different things all very well, then you are wasting this precious gift of time, to fuck right off. Motherfuckers, I released a bestseller in quarantine and promoted the crap out of it and am negotiating some genuinely breathtaking business deals and I’m still mostly feeling like sleeping until 3 fucking pm in the afternoon and then going back under the covers an hour and fifteen minutes later. If you’re getting out of bed these days, you’re ahead of the game.

* This was also the week in which our dipshit president suggested looking into the feasibility of injecting people with disinfectants and shining bright lights into people to knock out the coronavirus, followed by the delightful spectacle of some of his acolytes trying to suggest that what he really meant was [insert actual deeply experimental/unproven medical procedure only vaguely in the same ballpark as the president’s dimwitted podium improv here], before the president informed us all that he was just being sarcastic to own the fake news, lol, which was a lovely way for him to hang all his acolytes out to dry. I understand the president is now considering not having daily press conferences anymore, which I suspect is better for him and the rest of us as well.

Commentators are arguing that this is finally the point at which our current president will finally lose the support of his supporters, but, come on. We all know that’s not true. The president could say that he heard a scientist say “Sir, the skin of the human foot heel is the most beautiful anti-virus against corona, it’s really actually fantastic,” and the next day some of his people will have scraped their feet to the goddamned bone and gobbled down the flesh, screaming that they were immune now, OPEN UP THE COUNTRY YOU COWARDS. We’re stuck with these geniuses for the duration, I’m afraid. In other words, please vote in November kthxbye.

* I will say, incidentally, that no one doesn’t want the country opened up and the quarantine lifted. But there appear to be two classes of people in the country at the moment: The ones who listen to scientists, which thankfully appear to be in the majority, and the ones being manipulated by rich conservatives and/or by the politicians being manipulated by rich conservatives. The former understand that waiting to open up the country today means a lower chance of having to close up the country again tomorrow, whilst the latter appear to need their it’s not an assault rifle okay on their person in order to scream about needing a haircut, at whatever state capitol they have been told to congregate at. I don’t wish viral infection on the latter, but I won’t act surprised when it happens. And then the rest of us will have to say in quarantine longer. In short, thanks, assholes.

* The one thing I have been doing with some enthusiasm during this quarantine is taking photos, particularly of Krissy, who is, to be fair, an excellent subject. So to end this post on a high note, a couple recent shots of her. Enjoy, and onward into week seven of the quarantine.

 

75 thoughts on “Quarantine, Six Weeks In

  1. Here I’ve been, for years, calling myself a hermit, when all it’s been is that I’ve been getting an A in social distancing way ahead of the rest of you. WHO KNEW?

    I hope everyone’s had a good week.

  2. As apocalypses go this one has been fairly quiet. My only lament was that my mother passed away literally a week or two before everything went batshit crazy. I miss her terribly but also thankful that she wasn’t in the hospital or trying to get cancer treatment during all of this.
    The rest of the apocalypse has been pretty boring. Doing my best to social distance.

  3. After my umpteenth walk around my neighborhood I have finally noticed your shrubbery. Why hasn’t it grown? Or did you recently replace all your shrubs? You must have good soil, you have an amazing lawn. Why petite shrubs? (This is the discourse of lockdown.)

  4. I was basically a hermit before all of this but it’s amazing how once I’m told to be a hermit I want to go places. I don’t, but I suddenly want to be out. Mainly I feel bad for my kids, especially my daughter who had to leave college and do school online and not see her friends.

  5. So well said, John.
    Minor edit – “We all that’s not true.” missing a “know”.

  6. What, no binge-watching? With HBO making old classics free, I’m catching up on “The Wire.” Regardless of it being 15 years old, good story-telling doesn’t get stale…

  7. Anhedonia. An isolated island surrounded by the Sea of Melancholy. Buffeted by winds of despair during summer and deluged with rains of misery in the winter, tourists never go there. The inhabitants are said to be oddly comfortable with life on the isle. Few emigrate from the desolate interior through the distant Port of Hope. Bandits of sorrow and disease infest the only road through the towering Heights of Woe. But guided by Prophet Aspiration, an intrepid few make it through on occasion, never to return.

  8. I know I keep reading about people sleeping deep into the afternoon, but not me. I get up as early as ever (or earlier), 6 am many days, and go to bed even earlier than usual. Of course, I do tend to either wake up from an unscheduled nap at odd times of the day or get poked awake by my wife while we’re supposed to be watching television in the evenings.

  9. I walked past you and Krissy at the end of Ytterbium (you were talking to each other and clearly “off” and it seemed rude to intrude), but the one thing I did notice after looking at many many photos of you two is that you’re exactly how I expected (physically), but Krissy is a lot smaller.

    She’s really just an average-sized person; it’s just that she looks tall standing next to you, and the only time I ever see her with anything to measure or compare against, it’s in a photo with you. So I was expecting someone over six foot, and uh, no.

    Anyway, hi, keep posting the photos of your life and your wife and your pets and your daughter, and keep writing the books, because they are a nice moment of cheer in what are long, grey and rather boring days…

  10. As an introvert, I thought I would handle self-isolation fine, but I quickly came to realize that I need some face to face interaction to stay sane. Phones and screens just don’t work. Sominchat with the neighbours, from a distance. But concentration has been shot. I don’t want to watch tv, and I’m only just reaching the point where I can focus on a book for an entire chapter.

    I wonder if when this is over, we’ll ever go back to normal. Certainly, therapists are going to have a lot of work in the next few years.

  11. The lock down “mehs” are driving me nuts. I’m one of those people lucky(?) enough to be able to work from home in an industry that’s not going to start having layoffs, but I just can’t easily get myself doing *ANYTHING* to speak of after work or on the weekends.

    Yeah, the wife and I would often spend most of a weekend at home, but now that we can’t do our usual things? Driving me up a wall.

  12. I do hope they get infected. Why? Other than the naked justice of it, it is because these people don’t do a damn thing unless it impacts them personally. So when they go home and kill grandma, you can expect them to turn into the biggest “Stay at home!” evangelists you’ve ever seen, and if they stay true to form, swear to Dog they’ve been that way the whole time.

    It has also been my observation that most of the clowns advocating for opening up the country even if it is going to kill grandma are ardently “pro-life.” Someone make note of that for when things return to normal, so we can remind them of it when they get back to trying to own women as property.

  13. I like your take on things; I’ll need to check this blog more often. Amazing photography by the way; I love the big sky in the house shot and, yes, the Krissy portraits are superb. You are clearly a good photographer but I agree, I don’t think it’s difficult to make this lady look good. Thanks for sharing and looking forward to your next post.

  14. Well, if one has to suffer, it is good to do it in pleasant circumstances. ;>) You are fortunate (as you know), as is my family. Not much I can do for the less fortunate except contribute to the local food shelves. That got depressing, sorry.

    You have a very lovely house and yard. I wish we had a big porch.

  15. I have 4 people in my orbit who tested positive. I am getting tested tomorrow if they’ll do it.

    It used to be this country said things like “money cant buy you happiness” and “your rights end at my nose”. But now we got politicians saying grandma should prepare to sacrifice herself to save wall street, money being more important than living, and we have folks who insist that their right to a haircut overrides everyone else’s right to not die of cv19.

    Maybe the stupid was always there. But I prefer not to have to listen to it on the news every night.

  16. Another hermit here, but now so grateful when I do get to actually speak to a living being. Zoom helps. I have insomnia, so I’m not getting the massive sleep benefit, but I am happily working on a few projects, as usual. My pets help with a feeling of companionship. But, yes, there is a feeling of staleness of just being home all the time, except for groceries. At least they’re there.

  17. I’m kind of on the opposite situation: I’m deeply introverted, but my day job is at a grocery store, so I’m “essential” and therefore am getting frankly TOO MUCH human contact right now. I’m not usually prone to large amounts of anxiety, but this situation does get to me, and I find that by the time noontime on Friday rolls around (I’m lucky enough to work M-F), I am mentally shot and I spend the remainder of my shift on Friday in a bit of a haze, holed up in my workroom and trying to avoid humans as much as possible. I could, quite honestly, do with a bit of quarantine right now. (For other personal reasons I can’t indulge any of the vacation time I have coming to me right now, otherwise…I would.)

  18. Yeah, all true, and maybe if we all start cutting our own hair the weed-whacker effect will become trendy. Could happen.

  19. I am full of the blah. I a voracious reader and I have finished exactly zero novels since the Pandemic started. It is super frustrating. I have your new book. I have an advance copy of the new Martha Wells and Michael Connelly books. I just can’t concentrate. The only TV I have been able to watch is old stuff because then I don’t really have to pay attention. So, I rewatched Bosch and started on Community. I started my distance learning class for my middle school students this last week and that seems to have helped. I might actually finish a book today.

  20. Krissy is, of course, lovely, but you knew that.

    Your house, though…. I REALLY like that house.

    And the creeping depression? With you on that one too. I have to remind myself, to paraphrase, “The dumb you will always have with you,” and if you hang out with intelligent people, well, there are always those on the other end of the scale to make 100 an average score. Some of them are genuinely nice people. The ones who make me angry are the intelligent ones who see all this as their golden opportunity to game the system. Names spring to mind…

  21. I will say, incidentally, that no one doesn’t want the country opened up and the quarantine lifted.

    This has yet to sink in with some commentators, who are keen on delivering the insight that there are (wait for it) two equally wrong sides — one that wants everything to open up immediately and the other that putatively wants the quarantine to last until the end of time — and the genius commentator is here to deliver the brilliant insight that at some point we will have to make some decisions about when to open back up. To quote Colonel James in Boogie Nights: “Oh, do you think so, doctor?”

    If Scalzi would like to go after those commentators with the mallet of correction, that would be lovely, but I fear it would be a wasted effort.

  22. “Quarantine Ennui”
    Eyup … Everyone has it, in varying doses. Mine has passed for now… ooo need to finishing that new Scalzi book that has been sitting there.

  23. You can’t imagine how glad I am to hear that “quaranennui” is a real thing that others are feeling. I also am WFH, but when I’m not working I’m scouring YouTube for things to watch and reading ebooks from the library at blazing speed and playing Solitaire, and NOT working on my glass. (I did finally begin work on a new piece today.)

    But: so odd. It’s as if, when you have a surfeit of Time, your internal processes slow down. Like wakeful hibernation, maybe. A strong inclination to do nothing at all. I have found that getting outside and taking a long walk shakes it off somewhat; but, of course, one has to be motivated to do so.

  24. Over the last month a couple of books I had preordered showed up on my Kindle. The first to arrive is part of series by another author. That evening, after dinner, I started to read. I was enjoying it.

    Just before the end of the first chapter I stopped reading. I was enjoying the story. It was what I expected for that author in that series. Good entertainment. But I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t read something new, something where I didn’t know what was going to happen. I was worried about a horrible twist that would destroy the series for me (something that author wouldn’t do, not her style).

    I haven’t finished that book yet. Normally I would have finished it in one sitting that first evening.

    I haven’t started The Last Emperox yet. I’m sure I will enjoy it. But the joy of reading something new just isn’t there right now.

    That night, I stopped reading the other author’s new book and switched to one of her older books. Not part of a series but a stand alone novel. One I’ve read a few times. One that I new had a reasonably happy ending. A book that qualifies as comfort food.

    The thing is I’m in a good place. I am still being paid. I would be ok if I wasn’t being paid due to savings. I have food to eat and a house to live in. I’ve lived alone for decades so I’m used to being in the house by myself. I should be the poster person for how to handle this pandemic. I’m not.

    My sleep schedule is messed up. I am having trouble concentrating. I ended up taking a sabbatical from work (originally scheduled for later this year) since I wasn’t performing like I should be. I needed to get away from trying to concentrate on writing technical documents while stuck at home. I’ve been working at home one or two days a week for years with no issues. Almost forty years ago I started a business and worked at home for almost five years. Suddenly it’s hard to be productive.

    I’m looking forward to reading The Last Emperox once I finally feel like reading new things again.

  25. Dear John,

    Seeing as I work for myself from home and don’t go out at all most days, this shouldn’t be affecting me s much as it has (with symptoms somewhat akin to yours). I’ve observed, in myself and others, what I call the cat-door syndrome.

    Now that I am required to stay at home I feel a lot like a cat faced with a closed door–

    “Well, no, I didn’t want to be on the other side of that door… until you closed it!”

    pax / Ctein

  26. I’ve started watching West Wing and about half way through season one found myself thinking “Oh that’s what it’s like with an adult in the White House”. Then yesterday I watched A House Divided and am now thinking we’re watching the death throes of America as we knew it. Scary times.
    I’ve been incredibly lucky, work from home on a small island with no known community transmission apart from one cluster at the other end of the island. I feel for my friends, especially the ones in the States.

  27. Your house! I have porch envy – I love a wrap-around porch. There aren’t many in the SF Bay Area, so I mostly enjoy pictures.

  28. I am an extreme homebody myself but have been getting awfully antsy the last week or so. It looks like I’ll get back to part-time work at least in about a week, but if you’d told me “you’re going to have weeks off work, but it’s going to kind of suck” back at the beginning of March I’d have laughed in your face. Off work for weeks with pay? It would have sounded heavenly. Staying in by choice is quite different than this has been. But my boyfriend knows I’m kind of working on my last nerves and has been super sweet about it.

    I hope I look half as good as Krissy does in six years, and I hope I have a man I look at with such love as well. She is a lucky woman.

  29. Krissy has striking eyes. You know a really mean thing…it has crossed my mind that if lots of dimwitted republicans go out and congregate to celebrate their god given freedoms, maybe a lot of them will catch Corona and die. Which would be…. terrible! Sorry. Bad thought.

  30. As a joke to a friend who knows I joke I said, “For a second I wondered about the states with protests opening up, and the other states remaining closed, and then the former states getting Darwin awards.”

    The same friend, regarding protestors, said it’s from the poor education in “the states.” I replied that down there “the wrong side of the tracks” is not just a figure of speech because taxes are not collected, and distributed, city-wide for education. Lord help “American exceptionalism.”

  31. I have noticed that it did wonders for my mental state to stop reading the news. At this point, I don’t need to read about the antics of the Orange Buffoon or his enablers or his imitators at the state level to know that I will be voting “Anyone But Them” come November, and not reading about their global-level stupidity and narcissism every day has done wonders.

    (It also helped to stop taking the medication that my doctor finally thought to warn me had depression as a side-effect).

  32. Thank you so much for your third bullet, especially. I haven’t really seen anything saying I SHOULD be doing more (hobbies, etc.), but I do see a lot of people talking about extra reading or activities or hobbies or what-not they’re doing or that some folks have time for. I’m like “uh where do you find the time AND BTW the motivation?!” So I’m jealous and . . . honestly, guilty that I do so little beyond work. I know those feelings are on me and anyway, I’m lucky to be able to work still (from home, too). But it’s also tough to motivate for work.

    In other news, your photos of Krissy are, as ever, excellent. Granted, she’s amazing, so it’s tough to divide up the credit here. ;-)

    Stay well, John & extended Scalzi clan!

  33. I’m somewhat agoraphobic so I’m handling quarantine much better than most people I know, but I’ve lost a long-ago friend to the virus (multiple risk factors) and that hit me harder than I would have expected. The photos of Krissy are stunningly beautiful. May you and yours stay safe and well.

  34. I am not in quarantine. I go to work everyday full of anxiety that I or one of my residents is going to get this virus (nursing home). So far this week my mother tested positive ( she is in the nursing home my sister works at) but thankfully so far she has no symptoms. My sister has tested negative and hopefully stays that way. I suspect my brother has the virus but he won’t go get tested and since he lives too far away I can’t go drag his butt to go get tested.
    Sleep? What the hell is that?

  35. I oscillate between this seemingly bottomless well of mourning for the hundreds of thousands of people who have died and a kind of numbness that takes over. I sleep 4 or 5 hours every night. Go through the day in a kind of haze. Until my body says “nope” and maybe I sleep 10 or 12 hours.

    I keep circling back to a seemingly unanswerable question. What is the appropriate emotional response to hundreds of thousands of people i dont know dying from this pandemic? I cant seem to calibrate, so i was hoping if maybe i found an answer it might help me dial in my emotional state.

    But at the moment, i got nothing….

  36. Dan: I couldn’t read something new, something where I didn’t know what was going to happen.

    And for partly that reason, I suspect, I have been reading non-fiction–history, mostly. Not that I know everything is going to “turn out all right” (because it doesn’t always; in retrospect, the military history about early WWII naval battles might have been a mistake) or even because I already know what will happen next, but because, on some level, at least I know that the world goes on after the last chapter. Came as a bit of a surprise to me, too: I am having the same difficulty focussing that many here have noted, and for me that usually means no non-fiction . . . but not this time. Right now I am just looking forward to better weather so I can go on more walks. It will help, I think.

  37. Warning: long rant below.

    I say if his supporters want to expose their insides to UV light or guzzle disinfectants, let’em. They said it themselves; their bodies, their choice.

    Someone in a previous thread made an interesting suggestion regarding pro-covid spreading protesters.

    This poster advocated for some kind of identifying marker that would distinguish these folks from pro-distancing folks.

    I am in whole-hearted agreement.

    I live on a busy street and have had to deal with their noise pollution at all hours of the day and night.

    Think the virus is a hoax? Think the lord will bail you out (note that they aren’t praying for the people to whom they’re going to spread it) when you contract it? Think the virus is A-OK because it’s eliminating people you believe to be subhuman? Great!

    You shouldn’t get to move around in society armed with a weapon of mass destruction.

    I’d go even further and extend it to their households; that way, their spouses, children, and roommates get to pay for their irresponsible behavior right along with them.

    Everyone in that community isn’t going to subscribe to the “Jesus is my vaccine” philosophy, so there will almost certainly be consequences.

    More people take this seriously than don’t, so they and their families would have a hard road before them as they tried to go back to normal.

    Not every kid at school would come from a covidiot’s household, so there would be stigmatization and ostracism.

    Think little Timmy is going to be at anyone’s birthday party with that scarlet C on his forehead?

    If I’m a manager at a store, I’m going to refuse service to anyone with that branding, even if I share that mentality. I won’t want the legal heat if someone claims they caught covid at my store. Whether or not the complainant has a case, I won’t want the drama.

    On a side note, the boycotting of covidiot owned establishments would be interesting to watch.

    This isn’t a game, and covidiots and their families would learn that in the worst way.

    When the asthmatic two-year old daughter’s fever spiked or the 70-year-old father started gasping for air, there’d be a frantic call to 911. Their address would be flagged, and that’d be it.

    Neither their daughter nor their father would get to infect and kill paramedics or their families because they felt like they should be exempt from the sacrifices that people all over the planet are making.

    Welcome to life as a walking biohazard. Hope your “liberation” was worth it.

  38. Really helpful post. Quaranennui – yup! So good to have a word for what is going on, and to know that even high achievers – which you are! – are struggling. I was looking forward to starting the Interdependency series, but – like a couple of people have commented – I also can’t cope with something where I don’t know what’s going to happen. Daily life has enough of that right now. So I am reading Sayer’s Lord Peter Wimsey books, non-fiction, and doing a lot of re-reading. Sigh. This, too, will pass …

  39. My wife and I are retired, and we’re spending most of our time reading (yes, I bought and read TLE the day it came out). With no appointments or jobs, our sleep schedules have gone insane. It’s not uncommon for me to read all night and sleep most of the day. My wife sleeps and wakes sporadically. Our only daily routine is to read to our grandchildren over FaceTime after their supper. We’re extraordinarily lucky that we can get away with this.

  40. To be clear, the marker the poster suggested would preclude the anti-distancing/quarantine crowd from medical treatment for the virus.

    I’d go further and bar every member of their household from treatment. The acceptable deaths for which they advocate wouldn’t be so acceptable if they or theirs were on the slab.

    These are people who believe in personal responsibility. Well, this is what it would look like. You chose the behavior, now deal with the consequences.

    Think masks and PPE are for the paranoid and that we should open up without having launched testing on the necessary scale? Well, how about you and your loved ones be the first to take the risks. Make the sacrifices you want us and our loved ones to make.

    You could open up and go about like “normal,” but you’d be tagged as a biohazard and have to permanently wave medical treatment for covid 19. The same would go for everyone under your roof, regardless of age or health.

    Those with markers should see their life insurance premiums go up by 20 to 30 percent.

    Even better, those with markers who died of covid should be treated like suicides; no payout, no exceptions.

    Here’s the thing; hope won’t keep you breathing on your own when the virus attacks your lungs. All the hope in the world won’t keep your parents or children from contracting this virus.

    It won’t just be brown people and non-Trump voters living in urban bastions of leftism(spare us the insult to our intelligence and admit that this is one of the chief reasons you’re pushing to reopen)who fall ill and/or die; it will be you, your spouses, your children, or any other live-in relatives or roommates. You’ll all be alone (well, the way things are now, you’ll endanger the doctor or nurse who holds your hand) when you do.

    But, by all means, …

  41. Sorry to disappoint everyone, but the President will be reelected. Not a Trump supporter here, but the mini-rant is exactly why I don’t watch/read the news on any kind of intense level anymore. No one, on either side of the political spectrum, is playing with a full deck (tell me Mr. Scalzi, when will you address the the sexual assault allegations against Joe Biden?) these days.

    And it’s very, very sad.

  42. I find that treating myself with a mixture of gentleness and firmness works well. Gentleness is necessary so that I don’t get down on myself for lack of productivity or not tackling major projects, dreams, and plans. But I need to temper that with some discipline so that I get something/anything done — it doesn’t have to be significant or important or noble. Some good examples include working out, playing the guitar, doing a minor chore from the job jar, even something completely relaxing like re-watching a favorite movie or sitting and listening carefully to a classic album. Doing activities like this make us feel better in the short and long run, since we still have the need for action/novelty and most people like at least some structure.

    For those who thrive on structure, there are a number of recurring weekly events like “The Show Must Go On” (Broadway) and “National Theatre Live” (really really good) that are available free for streaming online. You can schedule them on your calendar, and then it seems like there is some regular event going on and you have something to look forward to.

    I also recommend that Americans avoid CNN and mainstream media, which are designed to panic and upset you rather than to inform. You’re much better off with NPR or even reading about US events on BBC or CBC.

  43. The need to avoid race-based, social Darwinist mini and major rants about hoax viruses, acceptable deaths and toothless travel bans as thousands lay dying and dead of covid is why I avoid certain news outlets and people like the plague.

    I’d actually given up TV altogether back when the ostensible coronavirus briefings were at their longest; you couldn’t escape them because the networks kept preempting regularly scheduled programming.

    Looks like that might be all over now. 😊 😤 ✊ 👍 🤣🤣🤣😂 👏🏻

    As for Biden’s alleged crimes against women, whataboutism is cowardly and disingenuous. While I’m not John (It shouldn’t need pointing out that John is someone who has always been extremely critical of all forms of violence against women), I will condemn Joe Biden’s actions and advocate for his prosecution.

    If/when the allegations are proven true, he should be disqualified from candidacy, as Trump should have been after the revelation of his many, many other illegal and immoral deeds.

    I’m also as disgusted by Biden’s former stance on working wives and mothers as I am by Trump’s assertion that putting wives to work is a dangerous thing.

    I’m really not crazy about Biden’s attitudes and previous actions toward children of color or about Trump’s treatment of the children of asylum-seeking families from South American nations
    I’m not too crazy about Trump’s empowerment of Nazis, let alone his declaration that they are “fine people.”

    I would just like to hear one Trump supporter, republican, conservative, or libertarian express outrage over the women who’ve been sexually violated by the president.

    Don’t worry, you can still blame the victims (doing so is and will always be heinous, btw) while acknowledging that sexual violence should be punishable for people who agree with you politically.

    I’d like to hear just one admit that what’s happening at the border is a human rights violation, even if the child prisoners “aren’t from Idaho.”

    I’d like to hear one condemn the president’s abandonment of Puerto Rico and of his behavior in the aftermath of the hurricane in the Bahamas.

    I’ll wait. After all, as a responsible social distancer, I’ve got time.

  44. Like JJN above, I to value CBC and BBC. I don’t have a television set, but I go on The BBC web site every day.

    It was a week after a British minister had to resign for visiting her summer home, that I saw a U.S. protestor angrily saying that he should be able to go to his summer home. Clearly, the guy had no clue as to how lockdown was being explained and respected in other English speaking countries.

    By the way, today I learned on BBC that in New Zealand the virus had been eradicated. (But precautions are still needed)

  45. Sigh. I would hope a comment that tacitly advocated for the endangerment of two-year-olds all over the country for the sake of the economy would be honest about the implication it’s making.

    Certainly, anyone taking exception to my admittedly harsh proposal for dealing with murderous anti-quarantine protesters would, at the very least, acknowledge the cruelty that inheres in sacrificing innocent Americans’ lives so that they can reopen their “non-essential to everyone but them and theirs” boutique/barbershop/bowling alley.

    Would you advocate for the removal of comments that prescribed starvation for the children of poor or single parents who couldn’t afford food?

    Are the children of parents on food stamps as worth protecting as the children of those who’d put families through the kind of heartache and terror that over 50,000 families are experiencing?

    What about those who don’t die but suffer serious complications? Do they or their children matter?

    I’ll wait.

    Remember, we look hypocritical when we call for the removal of only those comments with which we disagree.

  46. Dear Pedro,

    That was beautiful. Thank you so much!

    ~~~~

    Dear Alkali,

    As long as we have ignorant fanatics who think that the economy trumps (ahem) all OR that preventing themselves from getting sick trumps all, there will be a need for intelligent people to remind that poverty kills as surely as disease. This will require a balancing act that we don’t know how to navigate nor fully evaluate yet.

    What we do know is that either extreme will kill more people than anything else.

    Seeing as we have one of those fanatics in our midst, spamming the comments with repeated (and repetitive) tirades, I will continue to write that their selfishly extremist and privileged agenda would unnecessarily kill large numbers of people.

    If you think refuting homicidal nonsense makes me a self-appointed “genius” I can live very comfortably with your opprobrium. No one is forcing you to read.

    pax / Ctein

  47. When I thought I would have to go with the lesser of two evils, I did not think the lesser option would actually be unambiguously evil. Thanks for all the people who said a vote for one old white man is the same as another.* I expect Biden to win and I expect to be disgusted by all his defenders. And I don’t have to expect that the script will be almost identical to Kavanaugh’s defenders because the opinion pieces have already flown off the presses. Mirabile dictu they sound like they came straight out of Fox News circa 2016 and 2018.

    We can still pressure the party to drop him and take Klobuchar or Harris. I am not delusional enough to suggest Sanders or Warren is a possibility. But we can still keep our feminist principles and more importantly our commitment to improving the lives of everyone who is or will be affected by sexual assault/harassment (which is almost everybody truth be told.)

    *As impressive as everyone here’s anecdotal evidence is, Fivethirtyeight found no evidence of correlation between holding sexist views and being a Sanders supporter. People who supported Biden as their first choice were slightly more sexist than average, but that is probably explained by the older age of the average Biden fan. Postmortem campaign analysts found more social media vitriol in support of HRC than Bernie in 2016. More Clinton supporters voted for McCain in 2008 than Bernie supporters voted for Trump. If you add the non-voting/third party voters, then Sanders 2016 supporters were about equally “disloyal” as Clinton 2008 supporters. Just admit that you watch too much MSNBC or CNN and they manipulated the shit out of you.

  48. This is precisely why certain conditions should be met before anyone anywhere reopens.

    At least two weeks of declining cases, widespread testing and extensive contact tracing aren’t unreasonable.

    New Zeeland shut down and is seeing amazing progress. They’ve figured out the balancing act, why can’t the “best” and “most powerful country in the world”?

    Won’t poverty return if we-reopen too soon and have to close up shop all over again?

    What of the already fraying food supply chains if we have to shut back down?

    The question still remains; who matters more?

    More importantly, what if any protections will be in place for those who aren’t privileged enough to afford the kind of healthcare that others can. It’s privilege that, for the most part, insolates certain people from the systemic problems that exacerbate covid 19 and, incidentally, enables them to straddle the fence on this very important issue.

  49. @Privateiron If the party takes steps to drop Biden in defiance of the actual *votes*, especially with a candidate who got so few votes as Klobuchar or Harris, the Democrats lose because they’ve pissed off everyone who believes that the votes matter– not just the genuine Biden supporters, but the people who will rightly see that as an anti-democratic move of ignoring the votes if the person we like doesn’t win the election, at which point there’s a strong argument the candidate is illegitimate.

    The thing about democracy is sometimes people we don’t like win. If our response to that is “we should throw that out somehow” there really *isn’t* a difference between us and them. I don’t like it either– and I’m an assault survivor; I’ve got plenty of reason to not want someone who’s committed assault in that most powerful position. But the fact is that people voted for him.

  50. The Mehs are insidious little bastards, ain’t they.

    I try to stay positive, though it will be a long time before my business will start again. Maybe by then they will get around to testing me for an exposure I got while volunteering. 3200 people are now ahead of me.

    At this point I don’t care if one woman says Biden molested her. He is the only viable option that we have at the moment. Like a wolf caught in a trap I will gnaw my leg off to get away from the Trumpster fire. Even his daily Covid briefings are only about him, all 260,000 words of them.

    I don’t think Biden is out savior in any way other than that he has a possibility to get us out of this place before it is too late.

  51. “the lesser of two evils, ”

    By god, I swear if someone ever says this to my face ever again, i will channel the rage that comes from on the one hand “sixty thousand americans needlessly dying” and on the other hand “but her emails”, and punch their smug priviledged white dumb ignorant asses into oblivion. This phrase is evil. The people who say it have blood on their hands.

  52. We’re mostly ggood.I’m retired and my husband is a hospital pharmacy tech (third shift, so limited contact with others). His next vacation starts in two days, so we’re both looking forward to that. I do a lot of knitting and reading when I’m not doing chores or napping. Just finished The Last Emperox and have started The City We Became.
    The cancelation or postponement of large scale events affects our hobbies, along with a lot of our friends. Since I already budgeted money for vacations that won’t be happening, I’m making sure to buy from some of the vendors whose livelihoods are being affected by the pandemic. Hopefully they can keep going until we can see each other at events again.

  53. So … Long time fan. Recent vision situation led me to try Audible when the book hit my Kindle last week. To my surprise and delight it is narrated by Will Wheaton! Thanks for that John Scalzi.

    Side note: years ago I lived in Lebanon, Ohio. They have an amazing library there that features a new book section that I prowled for 8 years. Picked up one of your books randomly …. It was a signed copy! What a treat. I’ve been an avid fan ever since reading that precious copy of Agent to the Stars.

  54. Hi, John! This is my first time posting a comment on your website. So now, on to my comment. I’m now starting week #6 of being indoors. I’ve washed my hands religiously, used paper towels up the wazoo, and cleaned surfaces with Clorox-based Fantastik. I’ve read, been online, and ordered fast food to go (twice). I can’t remember the last time I went out walking for exercise or strolled at the mall. Sigh. . . But I’m willing to do what I can to slow down the spread of infection. Unfortunately, I live in Texas with a moron for a governor, who has these moronic plans about reopening: https://www.texastribune.org/2020/04/22/texas-greg-abbott-reopening-restaurants-hair-salons/

    He SAYS he’s going to listen to medical advisers. Well, he should have done that in the first place instead of listening to the “conservative wing” of the Greedy Old Party. As they say, you can’t fix stupid. :(

  55. One aspect about reopening states that isn’t stressed very much is that, beyond the medical lunacy, it’s a direct assault on those most dependent on safety nets. You see, if a state officially declares there is no longer an emergency, then any business owner or employee of that state who doesn’t return to business as normal no longer qualifies for the relevant state aid, and perhaps not even for federal aid. A calculated cruelty.

    As for Biden, I’ve hated him for about the same length of time I’ve thought Trump was a worthless buffoon. (I did not hate Trump until he successfully entered politics.) Biden was the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee that oversaw the Clarence Thomas hearings, and he cut the sexual harassment testimony against Thomas to just one witness, leaving Anita Hill to dangle in the wind. Furthermore, he was the leading Democratic supporter of the War on Drugs, encouraging Reagan to up its scope tremendously.

  56. What is the current picture on the top of your webpage? It looks a lot like a jewel-encrusted model of the corona virus.

  57. Whenever I see your yard I think “Mr S has the perfect place for a decent telescope”…lots of sky is visible from your deck I’ll bet. Are you still into astronomy, and if so, what kind of ‘scope do you plant out on the deck? As an aside…Krissy continues to be a welcome sight on your site. As always.

  58. It’s reassuring, I suppose, to know I’m not the only introvert with a bad case of the blehs. I recharge my batteries by *not* face-to-facing with other people. Obligatory self-isolation would be, under normal circumstances, a dream come true. Doesn’t mean I’m impervious to suffering. Any enjoyment is tempered by the knowledge that tens of thousands of people are dying in pain all over the world, that death will continue to stalk the planet for an unforeseen period ahead, and that lives & livelihoods will collapse in rubble. On the small, local, personal scale, my family & friends will never be the same again, even after the worst is over. It’s the calibration thing that Itsamadmadmadmadworld mentioned above.

    Medicine, from an ethical standpoint, has always been about achieving the best possible outcome given available knowledge, equipment & money. One hopes that evidence-based medicine has the most influence in the eventual loosening of restrictions. I don’t envy those medical researchers tasked with making such plans, who must then convince other interest groups with other, quite different, agendas.

    Something nice to look forward to? Ordering, receiving & reading The Last Emperox.

  59. I know a number of people who have tested positive. I have been limiting my outside trips to once a week for neccessities only. Still, other responsibilities required certain limited interactions with certain people. And i was exposed to someone who tested positive. Just got the results back and they were negative. But the idea that i might have then spread it to someone else nauseated me. The possibility of a false negative makes me want to quarantine for another 2 weeks to be safe, just so i dont give it to someone.

    Meanwhile, I watch the news and how some people with absolute callousness would gladly expose others to this disease. And it makes me feel alien. I think before 2016, i thought the vast overwhelming majority of people… cared. But the sheer *joy* i see people express with Trumps brutal indifference, the celebration they have for his willful ignorance that is killing people, and I feel like an outlier. Like there is something wrong with me.

    A politician says Wall Street is more important than living. And he isnt immediately drummed out of office? This is not my people.

  60. How do you handle feeling like you should be doing more to help people survive the pandemic?

    (Or am I the only person who has that constant feeling that whatever I am doing it is not enough?)

Comments are closed.