TBT: Phone it in Friday XI: Coronavirus Conundrum, Part IV: Liberty in the Age of The Virus

Earlier this week I was having a conversation with someone on Milo’s rollicking Telegram chat, in which we were trying to figure out the name of a short story involving people living in underground cells, communicating only via the Internet.  I had a feeling I had written about it before, but could not remember the name of the story.

Turns out it was E.M. Forster’s novella “The Machine Stops,” originally published in 1909, and I wrote about it in this catch-all post from the early days of The Age of The Virus (so early, in fact, I was not capitalizing the first “the” in that moniker, which I have texted so much, my last phone auto-predicted “The Age of The Virus”).  I compared the story to Kipling’s “The Mother Hive”–a story that apparently is assigned regularly in India, because pageviews for it always seem to coincide with large numbers of site visitors from the subcontinent.

But I digress.  The story sounded eerily like what our elites asked us to do during The Age of The Virus:  stay home, get fat, consume mindless entertainment, and don’t socialize.  Granted, some of us could go outside and plant gardens (I still got fat, though), but the messaging was not “become more self-sufficient so we can mitigate disaster” but “buy more stuff and don’t do anything fun.”  It was depressing to me how many people embraced this line of reasoning, turning government-mandated sloth into some kind of perverted virtue.

I appreciated the break that The Age of The Virus afforded us, but it came with the severe curtailment of liberty—and Americans ate it up!  Instead of people boldly throwing ravers and partying down, laughing at our elites, we instead retreated into our hovels, shuddering in the dark.  When I did through a big Halloween bash, it was a massive success—because, I suppose, people had finally had it.

I guess that’s the silver lining.  With that, here’s 3 April 2020’s “Phone it in Friday XI: Coronavirus Conundrum, Part IV: Liberty in the Age of The Virus” (perhaps the longest title of any blog post ever):

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Big News: TPP is Going to the Dogs

According to PetSmart.com, this week is National Adoption Week.  I suppose that’s appropriate, because I’m getting a dog.

For some reason, I became obsessed with the idea of finding a canine pal a few weeks ago.  I can’t really explain why, though I do have some theories, but I think it’s the same obsession my father succumbed to last summer when he purchased a rat terrier puppy, Atticus (née Mike).  After dog-sitting my girlfriend’s German Shepherd, Lily, for a week, that desire only deepened.

I was looking at my county’s humane society, which has a number of very adorable pups up for adoption.  I really fell in love with an old Shepherd mix named Mattus, who has now been adopted and sent to a new life in Vermont (their politics aside, that sounds a bit like paradise).

But then I began searching a bit further afield, and stumbled upon a very old dog, Riley, who is fostered in a town nearby.  Riley is a bull terrier, the breed perhaps best known due to the Budweiser mascot Spuds MacKenzie or the Target spokesdog, Bullseye.  I was not considering the breed at all, as they are quite mischievous and can be a handful for newcomers to dog ownership, but the description of old Riley—a chilled dude nearing the end of his life, just looking for a place to crash in comfort and snacks in his final days—seemed like a good fit.

After notifying the Bull Terrier Rescue Mission of my interest in Riley, one of their placement coordinators, Anja, contacted me for an in-depth discussion about the breed, Riley, etc.  Among other things, I learned that some bull terriers suffer from a form of obsessive-compulsion that causes them to chase their tales for unhealthily long periods of time; in England, they’re known as “nanny dogs,” as they will watch children under their care with an eagle eye; and that the breed possesses an unusually high pain threshold, meaning it doesn’t feel pain nearly as soon as other dogs.

We also determined after our hour-long discussion that Riley would not be a good fit for me.  Indeed, I’d woken up the night before contemplating the life changes necessary to care for an extremely elderly dog with a heart murmur.  Anja stressed to me that the Rescue places animals and owners together with the best possible fit, and that no owner should have to totally upend his life just to take in a dog.  I agree completely, but it was good to hear it from someone whose life is, arguably, consumed with dogs much of the time.

So after a long, productive conversation, Anja had all of my information and my preferences, and told me to be patient—it could be a couple of months before the right dog showed up in my area, but with bull terriers coming in all the time, she would be in touch.

With that, I made a small donation to the Rescue, and continued looking at the local humane society, if for no other reason than to whet my appetite.  I did go ahead and purchase a copy of Jane Killion’s When Pigs Fly!: Training Success with Impossible Dogs, figuring that having the authoritative training text for bull terriers would come in handy with most dogs, but especially if I ended up with a bull terrier.  Then I went about the business of moving my girlfriend to Athens.

It was on the long drive back to Columbia Friday afternoon, after completing our first run down to Georgia, that I received a text from Anja:  there was an eight-year old female bull terrier named Murphy who’d just been taken to a shelter in North Carolina.  As soon as I saw her picture, I knew that my life was going to get much more interesting:

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Tuesday TPP Update: Moving Weekend

Apologies to readers for some delayed posts Saturday and Monday.  I will be working to get those finished today and tomorrow, and to get back on my regular posting schedule.  Even this short update post is a bit delayed.

I spent the entire weekend helping my girlfriend move to her new apartment, and while it was one of the easier moves I’ve done in terms of furniture heft, it was also a situation of Murphy’s Law:  what could go wrong, did (well, not entirely—I suppose the U-Haul could have exploded en route).  We made an initial run Friday morning to drop off a small load and to get the keys to her new place.  It turns out there were several bits of documentation that the various utility providers had either not sent or did which my girlfriend did not realize she needed until the night before, but fortunately that all got sorted fairly quickly and headed back to South Carolina for the big load.

Unfortunately, when we arrived at the U-Haul pickup location, the place was totally dark—and this was at 3:30 PM.  There was also a massive storm system rolling in, with lightning popping in the area as we waited despondently on the off-chance the proprietor of the fly-by-night used car lot where my girlfriend had made the reservation would show up.

When it became apparent this mystery proprietor was not going to materialize miraculously, I began calling every U-Haul location in the general vicinity.  On the fourth attempt, I got through to a location.  They did not have a twenty-foot truck, but were able to place a reservation for me at a location that was a mere half-mile away from the shuttered used car lot.  As the storm began to shower its sky babies upon us, we booked it to a U-Haul Super Center and got the twenty-foot truck, which I drove gingerly through the downpour to my girlfriend’s apartment.

(An aside:  I love U-Haul trucks, with their lower storage cabins and their easy-to-drive cabins.  What I do not love is the willy-nilly fashion in which U-Haul hands out franchises to every Tom, Dick, and Skeletor out there.  Virtually every move I’ve ever made has involved going to a seedy, dilapidated, remote location, and asking the surly gas station/hardware store/dirt-floor shack attendant to give me the keys to the truck.  There’s always something unseemly about it—it’s like buying drugs, or purchasing an escort [I don’t know what those things are like, to be clear, but I’ve watched enough 70s movies to get the idea].  One time I picked up a U-Haul at a shack with a literal dirt floor and one bare light bulb burning overhead.  I’m surprised I made it out of there alive, much less with a truck!)

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Release the Pigeons

Here’s a weird bit of animal news for you:  around 5000 of 9000 carrier pigeons engaged in pigeon racing disappeared.  The pigeons were part of an obscure sport that races homing pigeons, and it’s unclear why over half of the birds never returned home.

Carrier and homing pigeons aren’t as necessary today as they were even one hundred years ago, what with improvements in communication technology.  When everyone is carrying around a Star Trek communicator with more computing power than the Apollo spacecrafts, the need to maintain a rookery of sky-rats is quite diminished.

That said, the birds are quite remarkable.  Carrier pigeons have saved thousands of lives in various conflicts around the world.  The piece in The Western Journal about the missing pigeons discusses the heroics of Cher Ami, a pigeon that saved the 77th Infantry Division’s “lost battalion” in the First World War “by delivering 12 messages and returning to his roost despite being shot in the leg”  The brave bird died from his injuries in 1919, but “was awarded the Croix de Guerre by France.”

Survivalists and homesteaders might take a particular interest in homing pigeons:  while they’re not particularly useful now, they could be quite useful in the event of a major failure of the power grid, or should the Internet and various cellular services go down.

But what of the missing birds?

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Decency Prevails: Make-A-Wish Foundation Rescinds Mask Requirement for Children

Well, this morning’s post aged poorly, but thankfully so:  The Make-A-Wish Foundation has reversed their decision to require terminally ill children and their families to be fully vaccinated in order to received their wishes.

You can read the full statement and a three-point summary here.  Here is the second bullet point from the summary:

We understand that there are many families whose children aren’t eligible for the vaccine yet, and we also know that there are families who are choosing not to get the vaccine. We respect everyone’s freedom of choice. Make-A-Wish will not require anyone to get vaccinated to get a wish.

The line about respecting “everyone’s freedom of choice” is key:  the organization received enough blowback that they’ve reversed their rhetoric from that of the “vaccinate-or-be-a-second-class-citizen” COVID Cult crowd to “you can make your own decisions about your healthcare.”  That’s a big shift, and demonstrates the power of speaking out against further Virus-related insanity.

Kudos to The Make-A-Wish Foundation for doing the right thing.

—TPP

Make-A-Death-Wish

UPDATE:  In case anyone missed it, The Make-A-Wish Foundation REVERSED their decision to require terminally ill children and their families to be fully vaccinated in order to receive their wishes: https://theportlypolitico.com/2021/06/29/decency-prevails-make-a-wish-foundation-rescinds-mask-requirement-for-children/

Read The Foundation’s statement here: https://wish.org/news-releases/reemergence

* * *

The Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants children with terminal medical conditions a “wish,” has announced it will require all wish recipients and their family members to be fully vaccinated against The Virus.

No vaccination, no wish fulfillment.

Naturally, this requirement is absurd, and represents a new low in the race to virtue-signal in The Age of The Virus.  At this risk of sounding macabre and insensitive, The Make-A-Wish Foundation is requiring children who are already dying to take a vaccine against an illness with a 99.5%+ survivability rate.

It’s a purely symbolic action that achieves nothing beyond making it more difficult for dying children to enjoy one last bit of whimsy before they cross over into the arms of Jesus.

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Hard to Swallow

A big H/T to Neo at Nebraska Energy Observer for the inspiration for today’s post:  in his latest edition of Sunday Funnies (“Sunday Funnies:  Juneteenth & Other Things“), Neo includes a tabloid-style headline that reads, “I Was Nearly Krilled!: Lobster diver says he was swallowed by humpback whale.”  The pun “krilled’ is circled in orange.

I looked it up, and it’s a real story:  Michael Packard, a fifty-six-year old lobster diver from Massachusetts, was briefly trapped in the mouth of a massive humpback whale.  According to Packard, he was in the mouth of the great beast for about thirty seconds, before the creature surfaced, shook its head back and forth, and spit Packard into the air.

Here is the relevant excerpt of Packard’s account, as quoted at NPR.org:

Packard told WBZ-TV that he was about 45 feet down in the water when he suddenly felt “this huge bump and everything went dark.” He initially feared he had been attacked by a shark.

“Then I felt around, and I realized there was no teeth and I had felt, really, no great pain,” he said. “And then I realized, ‘Oh my God, I’m in a whale’s mouth. I’m in a whale’s mouth, and he’s trying to swallow me.’ “

Packard was still wearing his scuba gear and breathing apparatus inside the whale’s mouth, which he said was completely dark. Fearing he wouldn’t make it out alive, he thought about his wife and sons.

After about half a minute, the whale rose to the water’s surface and began shaking its head from side to side.

“I just got thrown in the air and landed in the water,” Packard recalled. “And I was free, and I just floated there … I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe I got out of that.”

The story sounds incredible—and, according to whale experts, the odds of it happening are extremely rare—but it is within the realm of possibility.  Humpback whales lack teeth, and instead filter feed through baleen, long, hair-like “teeth” that filter out sea water and trap small prey, like shrimp and krill, inside.  Humpback whales often feed using lunge feeding, during which the whales “open their mouths, accelerate and ‘take in 10 SUVs worth of water and fish and then everything else,'” according to Iain Kerr, quoted in the same NPR piece.

Apparently, Packard just happened to be swimming in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the great whale accidentally sucked him up with tiny sea critters.

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Egged Off

An unfortunately perennial story that always gets traction here on the Right goes something like this:  precocious youngsters, hoping to engage in some earnest enterprise, start selling lemonade or the like from a roadside stand.  The kids are doing well and making good money (for kids), until an overzealous local health board official sends in the cops to bust up the lemonade stand.  Like Treasury Department revenuers smashing up a yokel’s still, these local officials destroy children’s dreams—and sometimes slap them with a fine.

It’s a story that guarantees outrage, and highlights the clueless, stringent rule-following of bureaucracies.  Yes, yes—technically you’re not supposed to sell lemonade and hot dogs without some kind of license, and the health department is supposed make sure your establishment is clean.  But these are kids, selling stuff on the side of the road.  Why bother?  Let them have fun and make a little money.

The latest such story involves two young ladies selling eggs in their town in Texas.  The Lone Star State has been reeling since the major winter storm hit a month or so back, and food supplies have been disrupted.  Having some backyard eggs for sale surely helped out some locals.

Unbeknownst to the girls—but beknownst to some overweening Karen, no doubt—a local ordinance prohibits the selling of eggs, though it permits the raising of chickens on one’s property.  That’s asinine.  Why can’t people sell eggs in a small town in Texas?

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Fast Food Premium

There’s been a lot of discussion of UBI—Universal Basic Income—over the last few years, especially with the presidential primary run of Andrew Yang.  The concept is seductive in its simplicity:  gut the welfare state and its behemoth apparatus of bureaucratic pencil pushers and middlemen, and just cut every adult citizen a monthly check.

For fiscal conservatives, it’s a particularly toothsome Devil’s Bargain:  streamline an inefficient and wasteful bureaucracy and simply direct deposit a grand every month into Americans’ checking accounts.  Of course, it’s a siren song:  we’d just get the payments and still suffer with an entrenched bureaucracy, claiming $1000 a month isn’t enough to meet the specialized needs of whatever community they pretend to support.

Even if the deal were struck and every redundant welfare program were eliminated, there UBI would still be a bad idea.  Besides the absurdity of merely paying people to exist, it’s inherently inflationary:  if you give everyone $1000 a month, prices are going to go up.  Just as college tuition has soared because universities realized they could jack up the price and federal loans would expand to cover the costs, UBI would cause a similar rise in prices.  Sure, it’d be great at first, but the inflationary effects would kick in quickly.

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