Weekly Wonderings – May 17th, 2021

A new episode of the podcast is up where my wife and I talk about our Top 5 favorite science fiction movies and thoughts from non-Trekkies about Star Trek: TNG and Picard Season 1. Check that out.

It seems like 2021 is rushing by pretty fast. It’s hard to believe we’re halfway through May already. It feels like it was just winter, and we’re already hurtling towards summer. I think the increasingly erratic weather of the region I live in is partially to blame. Last week, we had cold snaps down into the 40s, and this week they are predicting highs in the high 80s on multiple days. The NOAA recently released its climate outlook for the next decade, and it doesn’t look too promising on this continent. If you glimpse at their seasonal drought outlook for the U.S., it is pretty harrowing. Almost the entire western half of the country is set to continue languishing in drought conditions, with it spreading into the Pacific Northwest. I’m very much a person who has no desire to live in a Mad Max-like society. I would hope I’d die real early before the “gangs roving the wastelands in water wars” stage of things.

Here is this week’s Spotify playlist:

I don’t know if it comes with getting older, but damn, things feel apocalyptic. I was flabbergasted by the CDC’s mask guidance from last week. I live in a state with about 36% wholly vaccinated, and a county that’s at 28%, and these numbers are stalling out. The vaccine is now available for all who are of the right age, and the numbers are not climbing at a rate that feels hopeful. My wife and I got out 2 shots of Pfizer back in March/April, but we don’t feel safer in this community. Now that they have been given carte blanche to stop wearing masks without proof of vaccination, this place has decided the pandemic is over. We had to go to the DMV last week, updating to the new Real ID format (eye roll), and we immediately noticed not a single employee was wearing a mask. Most of the patrons weren’t either. When my ticket number was called, the lady at the desk said, “You know they said we didn’t have to wear the masks anymore,” more than subtly encouraging me to remove mine. I just acknowledged that she was right and kept wearing mine, removing it only to have the new license photo taken.

If there is one thing I have learned over this past year, I don’t trust at least 60% of the people who live in my community. Two weeks ago, the school board unanimously voted to make masks optional for adults and children in the district. This, of course, shows a complete lack of understanding about how masks work. On Facebook, I noticed a former colleague posted the following day about how they were finally “free” from the masks and agreeing with people in her comments, saying people should not have been wearing the masks in the first place. I think the CDC’s decision to push this guidance, followed by themselves and Dr. Facui giving addendums that just contradict it days later, has left me no longer able to trust the CDC. They seem like another government institution that is way too malleable to the interests of corporate America. They have said 3 feet is fine in schools while insisting in every other instance 6 feet is proper social distancing. Whenever guidance needs to change to satisfy the corporate class, the CDC will make it happen.

In political discourse, I see a real problem with language, in that people use words but don’t seem to understand their meaning. It’s the way Republicans refer to everything they don’t like as “socialism” while it’s just policies that help poor people. They don’t have a structural understanding of the concept, made possible by Red Scare propaganda, whose influence has wormed its ways through the generations. As the Israeli government continues its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, we see it happening again. The words “Jewish,” “Israeli,” and “zionist” are not synonyms, yet zionists use them to push propaganda. There is a video making the rounds of a zionist speaker claiming that American Jews must engage in the “war of words” while their Israeli ‘brethren’ physically serve in the IDF. This idea that Jews outside of Israel are obligated to defend the war crime of leaders like Benjamin Netanyahu is one of the most disgusting anti-semitic ideas out there. It is woefully reductive to say Jews = Israelis = zionists, and it attempts to skew this event to protect war criminals. There are large rabbinical groups that believe the Israeli government’s embrace of Zionism is doing massive harm to the Jewish religion, and they are right. It’s the same way bad actors have taken Christianity and, through Biblical revisionism, turned it into a cudgel to be wielded by right-wing supremacists.

Having grown up in a fundamentalist Christian household, homeschooled using a curriculum from Bob Jones, and exposed to right-wing media, I know that the evangelical love of Israel is one of the most insipid things I have encountered. Here’s why you have right-wing states like Texas forcing teachers to sign pledges against BDS; evangelicals believe that Jesus won’t return until his “chosen people” are back in Jerusalem and the Temple has been rebuilt. They also think all these Jews will perish and burn in Hell because they haven’t accepted Jesus, but you have to break some eggs, right? Now this concept is entirely blasphemous, but when has that stopped American Christianity before? Those who see the Middle East as a resource-rich region and powerful military staging ground help propagate this mindless religious fantasy, and so now conservative Christians seem so invested in a nation and religion they fully see as being bound for Hell. Palestinians are just an obstacle in the way of making the fantasy a reality. My personal expectation is that the United States will continue funneling weapons and money into Israel, and the Palestinians will be exterminated. The major world powers seem utterly disinterested in stopping this genocide. It’s yet another reason on the pile of reasons I am eager to leave this country and, with all my power, never return.

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