Entries from June 2020 ↓

Texas case count musings

Note: In 2020, I’m writing 52 blog posts, one per week, released on Mondays or so…except when I’m not because reasons, pandemics, life, etc. This was going to be a placeholder ‘oops’ post for Week 26, but as usual, I kept typing…

Note: I updated last week’s post some; you might like to take a look at it again: Happy Rioting, Self-Defense, and Fucking Up Shit!

Note added Thurs 2 July: Links for recent articles at NPR and the Economist discussing COVID-19 spreading not by protestors but by parties, and a ProPublica article from July 1: “Internal Messages Reveal Crisis at Houston Hospitals as Coronavirus Cases Surge” Blame those on top, not your neighbor

I have a huge blog post in the works, giving an overview of, and listing resources for, escaping the box of conventional psychiatry. But it’ll have to wait another seven days or so, as I need to sit this workweek out, at least in terms of blogging. Although I’ll keep typing:

For unknown reasons, I’ve felt sad today and late yesterday.

Here in Seattle, the past 48 hours or so, I’ve been thinking, off and on, about Texas, where I’m originally from, probably because of the COVID-19 news there and everywhere. More than 5,000 new cases per day now in Texas. Over the past few months, Texans have told me not to worry about it. Around March or so, I offered to connect a regional hospital in Texas with PPE donors in Dallas; hospital staff declined, saying more PPE wouldn’t be necessary, though I suspect also the (current) neurotypical standard of seeing vulnerability as fault might have been at play. A Texas parent insisted to me that her adult offspring must not think about faraway coronavirus because it’s too stressful: I order you to stop texting these grown-ups about it, Douglas. Texans close to me recently went to gyms and salons and lectured me on their safety and how Trump would get this all fixed. (Except he and his are causing it.) But these are all well-documented, predictable reactions of propagandized humans to pandemics and politicians, just like during other outbreaks, such as this one a century ago.

The solution isn’t to vote for your destroyers but to arrest them, following realistic and practical steps (informed action feels better than anxiety), and thankfully although many of my Texan friends from the past few years have disappeared from my life — I guess they’re too weakened to risk the unpopularity pursuing unusual topics might bring; but, I don’t know for sure, since we no longer talk, typically — skyrocketing follower counts of, and widespread interactions with, good accounts show that more and more people globally are taking interest in helping themselves and others each day (instead of just buying and selling every last iota in a self-destructive race to the empty top), so maybe humanity will get somewhere, presently.

I also see many nice little evidentiary pieces of a better world. The neighbor out on his lawn playing his acoustic guitar and smiling, for the first time I’ve ever seen him smile. Customers in the grocery store swaying to the music from the overhead loudspeakers, when they were pretty much never doing that previously. All these little things add up: a reality with time for tasks other than serving powerful employers. Yet the clock is ticking till the unemployment payment boost evaporates on July 25/26/31 (depending).

Chart showing new COVID-19 cases in the past seven days, adjusted for population size. Europe, Canada, and Japan are decreasing or flat. The United States is exceptionally bad in its skyrocketing.
From the New York Times link above: the United States is exceptionally diseased

So why the fishbowl picture at the start of this post? The past few days I’ve been unfortunately thinking (I’d rather think about something else) that the real core of reactionary Texas ideology is its premise that the individual is not affected by anything but the individual’s own willpower; the individual is not affected by the environment, and to speak of how conditioning or pollution or pandemic might be impacting you, according to the Randroid/Texas vision, is to confess your moocher inability to climb from rags to riches by innovating through the sweat of your He-Man brow, etc. It occurred to me that these increasingly infected Texans are sadly stuck in a small pond, and proudly don’t know it. Like fish in a fishbowl. And unaware of the rising temperatures — they of course think global warming is a hoax, just like Donald Trump calls coronavirus a hoax (and calls global warming a hoax) — and dismissive of any other possible impact from any other possible attribute of their surrounding environment, the Texans swim around their small pond telling each other they will succeed, they will innovate! Meanwhile, all the multinational criminal conspiracies destroying the planet/environment, are like a person the fish can’t or just won’t perceive, walking up to their fishbowl, grabbing it, and, while the fish continue to explain their rugged individualism (or so very hairsplitting neoliberalism!) to each other, just throwing the bowl at the wall. The bowl is flying toward the wall, the water is sloshing out, and the medium-size fish is sucking up to the biggest fish (in hopes of paid employment in eating other fish) and insulting the smallest-size fish for protesting, but it doesn’t matter, they’re all about to hit the wall, victims of much they once vaguely sensed and slammed the mental door on (“you shouldn’t think too hard”), or, well, victims of being goldfish I guess (metaphor strain!).

I want to type something like, “Please specify the conditions within which, what changes would need to happen so that, you could give your time and assistance not to celebully politicians who have willfully killed many people, but say, to Food Not Bombs, who hasn’t killed anyone and only tries to help?” but I need to do some dishes and then go to bed, I guess, and I’ve never got an answer from anyone to my “what conditions, if any, are required so that you might…” question. It’s basically asking the general public to admit what accommodations we might need to obtain asap, to combat rather than support our extinction. Which things to fix first (maybe these). And we’re pressured to see needing/procuring accommodations as making us less than. But even that “pressured to see” is pointing to an environment, which under rugged individualism, doesn’t exist and/or can have no effect on rags-to-riches High Value Men / Action Figure Superheroes. We’re pressured to see the bad environmental circumstances surrounding us (poverty, mass shootings, no/low access to quality food, anyone could continue) as personal failings, when really, those circumstances aren’t the fault of everyday people, and without talking about them loudly, we won’t ever fix them by convicting those causing them.

I want to power off my laptop and never power it back on. Death tolls getting to me today, and all the bots, and all the humans who have turned themselves into bots (“you shouldn’t care too much”), screaming that masks are a myth, or whatever, at the ER and ICU and other medical professionals on Twitter and in Texas who are asking for help. I should be grateful I’m not there, but it feels in some ways that I still am…

28 June 2020, The Dallas Morning News: We went inside Parkland’s COVID unit during its ‘worst week’ as coronavirus cases spike in North Texas

The critically ill patients in Parkland’s COVID-19 Tactical Care Unit couldn’t wear masks even if they wanted to. They each have a plastic tube jammed down their throats, straight to their lungs […] It’s eerily quiet on this long, open ward and the 30 patients on ventilators seem frozen in place. They’re unconscious, sedated with powerful drugs, in part to prevent them from ripping out the lines that are keeping them alive. […] Not one would hesitate for a nanosecond to trade the invasive plastic tubes for the masks that we, breathing free on the outside, get to wear. Not the 52-year-old man in one bed or his 77-year-old mother a few beds down. Not the man who went on a ventilator Friday night or the one who has been on a machine for more than two months […]

Note also that whistleblower Dr Rick Bright filed on 25 June 2020 an addendum (10-page PDF … it says “second addendum”; what was the first?) to his whistleblower complaint (89-page PDF) about Trump cronies retaliating against him because he “insisted on scientifically-vetted proposals, and […] pushed for a more aggressive agency response to COVID-19″ so they could push ineffective, shit drugs for you to take instead. The addendum documents the authorities on the warpath against his efforts to get his position back and threatening those who might help him do so.

Hopefully, this pandemic will teach people, even in Texas, that far from being a singlehanded titan of industry, each person is just a tiny speck, just one 7.6 billionth of the people alive today (let alone past and future people, as well as nonhuman animals), and imagining a single person as a willpower-y Robinson Crusoe, or belting out that the virus/environment won’t impact you because you think it’s fake, is like trying to section off with floating rope one part of the swimming pool from somebody else in another section peeing. Doesn’t work.

We’re all in this life thing together.

Creative Commons License

This blog post, Texas case count musings by Douglas Lucas, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (human-readable summary of license). The license is based on a work at this URL: https://douglaslucas.com/blog/2020/06/29/texas-case-count-musings/. You can view the full license (the legal code aka the legalese) here. For learning more about Creative Commons, I suggest this article and the Creative Commons Frequently Asked Questions. Seeking permissions beyond the scope of this license, or want to correspond with me about this post otherwise? Please email me: dal@riseup.net.

Happy rioting, self-defense, and fucking up shit!

Note: In 2020, I’m writing 52 blog posts, one per week, released on Mondays or so. Today’s short-ish post is for Week 25. I planned to just type an “oops” placeholder entry, but if you know me, then you know I can sometimes be a little…longwinded. Week 22 was my #OpDeathEaters review of the recent Investigation Discovery special focused on pedosadist Jeffrey Epstein, and Week 23 was my updating that postWeek 24 was some quick Seattle news. The upcoming longer post I referred to last week should be up next week. Thanks for your patience!

I know a handful of white, very straight guys around the world who seem identical: roughly late thirties / early forties, recently dumped, fairly high income, lonely apartment, devoted to masculinism, to trade, to downer narcotics that are recreational — decreasingly⁠. Often it feels nothing I ever say successfully combats the propaganda or world to which they are repeatedly exposed. Conversations with them seem like dominance battles; they keep score, and no one just shares.

2019 song “Hangerz” by Pussy Riot

Briefly, five news links from the past year and a half, to recalibrate readers who, before continuing forward, might need a reminder of the wider perspective outside the masculinist/trade/lonely life:

  • November 15, 2018: Article in Foreign Policy: In Russia, Feminist Memes Buy Jail Time, but Domestic Abuse Doesn’t
  • May 21, 2019: NBC News found that during a 5-year period under both the Obama and Trump administrations, within the system of lockup facilities recognized in 2019 by multiple Auschwitz and/or Holocaust survivors as concentration camps (Rene LichtmanRuth BlochBernard Marks), ICE has forced thousands of immigrants into solitary confinement (recognized across the planet as a form of torture), not for breaking any rules, but for being physically disabled or gay.
  • May 31, 2020: My #OpDeathEaters review about Investigation Discovery’s special on Jeffrey Epstein. My review helps explain in practical and realistic terms (what actually are inquiries/tribunals?) how to stop voting for pedosadists and start arresting them.
  • June 2, 2020 twitter thread by Portland State University instructor Alexander Reid Ross documenting scores of violent, armed reactionary vigilantes carrying out intimidation and attacks against Black Lives Matter protests across the United States.

Today one of the masculinist-ish guys bemoaned to me this week’s efforts to topple the statue, near the White House, of Andrew Jackson, slaveowner. The person did not bemoan anything remotely on the subject of the above five news links. Yet imagine if every time the topic of toppling a slaveowner statue came up for “debate,” the conversation could not begin until first, all concentration camp victims were liberated, all femicides were prevented, all children were protected from pedosadists, all with impunity were convicted, and individuals learned to reject all bigotry.

In the face of torture and femicide and other human rights violations and unlawful killings, relentless cradle to grave propaganda trains too many USians to focus on, and endlessly talk about, rioters breaking Starbucks windows or stealing electronics from big box stores (both just ways of saying Fuck you in light of murders and more), because that tunnel vision means brainwashed USians don’t learn what much of the rest of the planet already knows: massive resistance can be far more powerful than politely giving a quiet speech about how you don’t want to be killed. To take just one example, the 2019-2020 Chilean protests fight back against austerity and send their legislators fleeing. In other words, in a very practical and realistic move, they kicked their Congress out by force, irl. Yet if nonstop battle by an oppressed public against powerful criminals with impunity sounds scary and sad — and I agree that it frequently is, and frequently has been throughout human history so far — then in addition, stop voting, start arresting. Practical and realistic? The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (which among other things publicly heard applications for limited amnesty from human rights violators) accomplished a great deal, while simultaneously having trouble enforcing subpoenas because the commissioners didn’t have enough power relative to the reactionaries in their region. Still, that the goal of justice never before achieved in full is difficult, and that previous attempts to bring justice have not yet succeeded completely, doesn’t mean quit trying and become a boring complicit and compliant coward; it means, let’s figure out improved inquiries/tribunals — now, little step by little step.

During the pandemic brought to you not by protestors (back people into a corner, what do you expect them to do, die quietly?) — see NPR and the Economist — but by super-spreaders such as Donald Trump, and this month when people are especially discussing and endorsing noncompliance/disobedience with ridiculous and unjust rules against consenting adults putting their various Tab As into their various Slot Bs proudly, while all manner of extreme wild emotions happen, to all those braver than the intelligentsia and the aspirants to the intelligentsia, to all those who read and grow and share and take informed action…

Happy rioting, self-defense, and fucking up shit!

Image of a guy in a skirt. He has boots and purple hair. He's carrying a baseball bat cocked back. The baseball bat has spikes, and blood is dripping off it. With a mix of craze and confidence, he fixes with his gaze the viewer
Art by Alex Law, and the wallpaper image for my desktop

Creative Commons License

This blog post, Happy rioting, self-defense, and fucking up shit!, by Douglas Lucas, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (human-readable summary of license). The license is based on a work at this URL: https://douglaslucas.com/blog/2020/06/23/happy-rioting-self-defense-and-fucking-up-shit/. You can view the full license (the legal code aka the legalese) here. For learning more about Creative Commons, I suggest this article and the Creative Commons Frequently Asked Questions. Seeking permissions beyond the scope of this license, or want to correspond with me about this post otherwise? Please email me: dal@riseup.net.

Quick Seattle news: King County phases and West Seattle Bridge

Note: In 2020, I’m writing 52 blog posts, one per week, released on Mondays or so. Today’s simple and quick entry is for Week 24. Week 22 was my #OpDeathEaters review of the recent Investigation Discovery special focused on pedosadist Jeffrey Epstein, and Week 23 was my updating that post. Expect a longer post next week.

King County phases

Image is a frame from Star Trek. The action is on board some Federation ship or other. A hand is seen firing a phaser weapon at a smiling Federation shipmate, whose uniform seems to be invincible against the weapon.
Fools, your biz phases are useless against me! (Star Trek phaser image from here.)

On Monday 15 June 2020, King County (includes Seattle; and, the only county in the country named for Martin Luther King Jr.) applied to
the Washington state health department seeking permission to move from Phase 1.5 (aka modified Phase 1) to Phase 2, which are stages of the state government’s (un)safe start plan to re-open the overt trade economy (the economy you see in the newspaper, as opposed to covert trade in weapons drugs and humans, and as opposed to non-trade organizing of goods and services, see below). Phase 2 would mean more people out of their homes transacting business during the pandemic. According to a BizJournals.com article, the Washington state health agency could authorize the King County escalation from Phase 1.5 to Phase 2 as early as Friday 19 June 2020. Here’s King County’s 37-page application.

The application comes the same week as the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation — a research institute once used by the White House for coronavirus projections  — forecasts more than 200,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the United States by the first of October. I still think roughly three-quarters of a million or more U.S. residents will die by the end of the year from COVID-19, and (averaging things out somewhat ridiculously) every USian remaining alive on 31 Dec 2020 will know personally at least one person novel coronavirus has killed. To point out that humans are unfortunately regarded as expendable in the face of dolla dolla bill is correct and a good start, yet also incomplete. Living in a trade civilization means just about everyone almost always gets their bar soap, celtic salt, guitar strings, lube, and pretty much everything else from quid pro quos (exchange/trade). As a result, the correct yet incomplete observations about the imbalanced scales (life versus business) can seem a needless attack on those producing or consuming goods and services, that is to say, basically all of us. To help amp up the growing sense among the public that life and interactions are nevertheless more valuable than trade and transactions, requires goals (such as these and these) and inclusive, effective replacement systems to facilitate noncommunist sharing planetwide. Instead of getting bogged down in debating which trade economy phase we should watch the authorities re-open upon us, we must expand/strengthen and defend the approval economy for all that for millenia we have already opened. From that approval economy for all post by Heather Marsh in 2013:

The trust networks and reputations which make up an approval economy are part of the daily life of all societies already. The people you invite to eat a dinner you have provided are typically people who have earned your trust and approval. They will usually provide similar benefits to you if they are able, and if they consistently do not they may begin to receive less invitations. We care for grandparents who are unable to reciprocate because we recognize ourselves as part of a continuum of family obligation which cared for us when we were young and will hopefully do so again when we are old. When we ask the identity of an absent group member, their reputation and approval rating is frequently implied in the answer, and sometimes we ask for referrals outright. Even as anonymous participants on some internet sites our input is ranked and voted up and down, contributing to our reputation. Sometimes our internet reputation is already used to introduce us to wider societies providing basic needs, such as couchsurfing.

Approval economies are the natural economies of human society. We separated power from societal approval and exchanged society for trade relationships so long ago most cannot imagine an alternative, but it is still there in the most basic units of society. Economies based on trade relationships with financial systems as tools of coercion and control cannot coexist with peaceful and just societies. Power will be concentrated in able bodied traders and hoarders as long as we continue using trade economies.

West Seattle Bridge

A close-up image of the West Seattle Bridge with large visible cracks beginning. The cracks look something like veins on a palm.
Cracks in the West Seattle Bridge, image from Seattle transportation department March 2020

In the last year I’ve been working some as an educator teaching algebra to middle school kids. Obviously the students asked me, Math sucks will we ever need to know this in real life??? I told them, you know how Seattle has all these bridges? Well, we will need to know graphs and variables and equations to repair them someday…and already that day has arrived.

On 23 March 2020, the West Seattle Bridge, a major piece of infrastructure in this city, was suddenly closed with only a few hours of warning to the public. Well, the portion of the Bridge that spans the Duwamish River and gets you in and out of West Seattle, anyway. The Lower Spokane bridge, also known as the low bridge, right next to the West Seattle Bridge, is showing deterioration too, it was reported last week, and is currently being monitored; the low bridge is closed to regular vehicles (travel permitted only for emergency and other essential vehicles), though it might open to regular vehicles between July 12 and August 1. Around the day the West Seattle Bridge was first closed, the information coming out from the authorities strongly suggested the West Seattle Bridge would remain shut for all of 2020. They also explained the Bridge might reopen in 2021 — or never. Today we learn the Bridge at the earliest will open in 2022.

Wait, where am I getting all this information from? For all your West Seattle Bridge coverage funky needs regarding the basic facts, reported thoroughly and well, I recommend the West Seattle Blog’s tag for the West Seattle Bridge Safety Project, plus adept searching of the West Seattle Blog’s website and twitter. Furthermore, today between 1pm and 2:30pm Pacific, the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force holds its second meeting online: join (maybe an archive will be available at that join link afterward as well?), or read the 2-page PDF agenda, or simply continue reading this post. You can find information on such upcoming meetings from the West Seattle Blog, among other sources. Check out the Seattle transportation department’s website for the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge Safety Project (including its FAQ), consider signing up for email updates from them, and if you want, see other stuffs.

The Bridge disrepair is dangerous enough that in May 2020, the Seattle transportation department snailmailed Seattle residents near it the following notice (scanned and screenshotted by me):

Image is a May 2020 notice from the Seattle Department of Transportation to those in properties within the immediate bridge fall zone, saying a potential bridge collapse could pose a life-safety risk. It has a bird's eye view of homes near the West Seattle Bridge and the low Spokane bridge, surrounded by bureaucratic text from the Seattle transportation department, phone numbers to learn more, etc.
West Seattle Bridge is maybe falling down, falling down, falling down… according to this May 2020 notice from the Seattle Department of Transportation snailmailed to residents near the structure

The notice says: the Bridge “remains an evolving situation […] properties within the immediate bridge fall zone […] where a potential bridge collapse could pose a life-safety risk.” Not every day that a bridge falls on our heads!

Here are some updates/notes from today’s West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting. Engineers are checking the West Seattle Bridge daily. The Bridge is showing new hairline cracking every week due to its own weight and thermal stressors. As the below flowchart from today’s meeting shows (Seattle transportation department employee Matt Donahue is the lead engineer regarding the Bridge), engineers/whoever are currently trying to figure out if it’s time to repair the bridge or time to replace it. The flowchart indicates that decision should come this summer. Repairing the Bridge would mean the earliest possible opening date would be in 2022; replacing the Bridge (complete with controlled demolition!) would mean the earliest possible opening date would be somewhere between 2024 to 2026. Assuming things go as planned…

A flowchart from Matt Donahue showing possible pathways to reopen the West Seattle Bridge. A division into two pathways: repair or replace.
Repair or replace flowchart from 17 June 2020 West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting

Donahue also said in today’s West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting that so far, the engineers’ analysis is that the Bridge can be repaired (it’s technically possible to do so), in that those working on the Bridge haven’t yet found anything that would preclude a repair, but the main question is, should the Bridge be repaired or instead replaced. Most frighteningly, Matt Donahue said it remains possible that the Bridge will suffer a “catastrophic failure” (fall on our heads).

In light of the ongoing catastrophic failure possibility, plus the ongoing pandemic and the ongoing overt trade economy implosion, I’m still curious if auto transit across the Duwamish River will actually ever be possible again. Will the West Seattle Bridge ever really re-open? Will an everyday Seattleite like me drive across it ever again? It would be great to see solid information, rather than my intentionally provocative speculation, addressing if brain drain (skilled individuals leaving the United States for countries accessibly offering health care and other basic services) is impacting efforts to repair or replace the Bridge, or what “opportunities” other countries might be evaluating as their governments and corporations ponder the United States’ inability, in various regards, to fix itself. After failed state, does “international rebuilding” come next?

An image of the West Seattle Bridge from below, an angle that makes it seem large and soaring
An image of the West Seattle Bridge, by Ellen M. Banner, posted at The Seattle Times in March 2020

As always, what we aim to do with our economies plural, or with the cracking West Seattle Bridge, is up to us. To widen our perspectives/paradigms and to force-multiply our capabilities for self-governance, I especially encourage readers to check out these two posts by Heather Marsh and her books, and to follow these Twitter accounts: @YourAnonCentral, @OpDeathEaters, @OpDeathEatersUS. There’s also me, @DouglasLucas on Twitter as well as this blog, my email (DAL@RISEUP.NET), etc. Thanks!

Creative Commons License

This blog post, Quick Seattle news: King County phases and West Seattle Bridge, by Douglas Lucas, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (human-readable summary of license). The license is based on a work at this URL: https://douglaslucas.com/blog/2020/06/17/king-county-phases-west-seattle-bridge/ You can view the full license (the legal code aka the legalese) here. For learning more about Creative Commons, I suggest this article and the Creative Commons Frequently Asked Questions. Seeking permissions beyond the scope of this license, or want to correspond with me about this post otherwise? Please email me: dal@riseup.net.