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Sanity Restored at the Playground

Who would have ever thought that this scene would even be noticed: Idaho school boys running on a playground, without masks, and closer than 6' from each other. But I did notice it, and it looked wonderful.

Nor were there any supervising adults nearby, perhaps with uniforms and emergency radios. I saw no medi-vac helicopters idling their engines at a heli-pad next to the school.


It left a comforting impression on me and all the other drivers on the road, no doubt. Earlier in the day, just the opposite thing occurred.

I was driving down a residential street at 20-25 mph. About a block ahead of me two boys were waiting to cross the street. There was no crosswalk painted, but I stopped for them.  The boy ran across the street with such exaggerated nervousness, and his bodily movements were almost feminine. I am used to younger American males talking in almost feminine tones, but how could they walk or run girly-style?

That is one way to look at the hysterical over-reaction to the virus: it shows how feminine society has become. It can't get enough fear. It can't get clean-enough and germ-free enough. And more rules and regulations are always needed to control, micro-manage, and over-mother people in their daily lives.

People who read a lot of history finds numerous examples of cruelty that you could call characteristically male: invading somebody else's land, killing, burning, pillaging, raping. As long as the human race has been around, women have had to suffer through all this male stupidity and cruelty. What were the women thinking about men's foolishness? That's not the kind of thing that shows up in history books.

So now we might be embarking on ever-increasing female foolishness and tyranny -- hysterical fear, and neurotic obsessions about safety and cleanliness. Poetic justice you could call it.

But I wonder if society wearies of female tyranny sooner than it did of male tyranny (wars and violence.) At least male tyranny would rest for a few years before the next eruption.


XXXXX said…

I appreciate the sentiment but, in order to do so, I have to dismiss your notion of equating fear to femininity.

For truly, men are often fearful and fear is indeed the precipitating emotion behind aggression or rage, always a sure sign of an undeveloped mind. Women often transgress their fear and push forward to do whatever it is that needs to be done, such as denying themselves for the benefit of their children.

There's nothing gender specific about fear or courage. And there's no shortage of myopic vision in both genders. Calling male aggression "foolishness" is laughable. Calling wearing masks during a pandemic "feminine", and therefore a weakness, sounds to me like you have some sort of a vendetta against women.

I wear a mask when I'm out and about. Not because I am afraid of dying for, at my age for heavens sake, I'm quite fine with that. I wear a mask as a sign of community with others, a sign of caring about the health of others. We need more community and less of this ridiculous individuality, this ridiculous sense of ego-above-all that this society so desperately suffers from.

George, " I wear a mask as a sign of community with others..." Why isn't a sign of community to express polite disagreement?
George, or putting it differently, a "sign of community" should not be confused with un-thinking conformity or subservience to bureaucratic grand poobahs, who always have an axe to grind, while operating under the halo of "Science" an expertise.
XXXXX said…

You can express disagreement and still wear a mask. And by that I mean you can express skepticism regarding the ability of a mask to stop the virus but still wear one out of sense of community, knowing that enough Science has come forth to support it and so not wearing one is an act of disregard for other people's health. We're talking about a simple dumb mask here. How hard is that? It isn't like someone is asking you to donate an organ.

Write a post about why you think masks are unnecessary and why scientists are bureaucratic grand poobahs who have an axe to grind (what exactly is that axe, might I ask)?

Anonymous said…
George, thanks for your comments whose message I share completely.

Boonie, somehow the flavor of your posts has drifted from libertarian curmudgeonous to Qanon conspiracy theorist. And the misogyny continues. What’s up? I’m barely hanging on.

Anonymous said…
So lets just rely on science. There are more than a dozen peer reviewed, randomized, controlled studies conducted over the past two to three years showing that disposable, partial face covering masks (as well as cloth masks) are ineffective at both stopping the spread of any virus and protecting the wearer from a virus. They are easy to find. Sources include The New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, Stanford University, Oxford University, the US CDC, and the epidemiologists from several European countries to name just a few.

What you can't find anywhere is a scientific study that shows masks actually work against viruses. The "studies" touted are always small sample, anecdotal, lacking in any standard protocol controls, and are not peer reviewed. They use language regarding mask efficacy such as:
This study "suggests" that masks "may" provide some benefit against viruses. Even the information printed on your box of disposable masks will indicate that it is not capable of protecting the wearer from spreading or contracting a virus.

If you feel better wearing a mask, have at it, but you can't claim any scientific high ground for doing so. Anyone who thinks they are protecting themselves or others from any virus by wearing a disposable partial face mask is just fooling themselves. Anyone who claims the "science" shows the same simply hasn't studied the data or hasn't worked in any environment where masks are required for genuine safety reasons (ie., in a microbiology lab or in the use of hazardous industrial gasses).

I would love for someone to point out a VALID scientific study showing that disposable, partial covering face masks stop the spread and contraction of VIRUSES. I have searched hard for such definitive studies. Funding one would be a plus. Then at least I wouldn't feel like such a pathetic loser every time I don a mask just so I can shop at Costco!
XXXXX said…

You have stated that properly done studies are readily available from a number of sources yet you have not listed even one specific study. Why not? Are they a secret?

And you slam EVERY study saying that masks are effective due to lacking necessary controls.

All very easy to say. But you offer no specific studies to prove yourself so it all amounts to hearsay.

Anonymous said…
Be your personal research assistant? Seriously? If you are interested in the topic, just use your favorite search engine and go to work. Here's an easy top line search result to get you going.

To repeat. I would sincerely like to see any RCT studies that show how masks designed to stop particle sizes of 3 microns and larger can stop viruses, which are all less than .14 microns in size. Even the mask manufacturers admit they can't.

Everyone should do their own due diligence in all things.

XXXXX said…

The first study listed in your source had a total of 32 people in the sample. This does not meet the standard for a study to be determined conclusive. And, in fact, in the summary you will find the following: "A larger study is needed to definitely establish noninferiority of no mask use."

The second source listed provides only a summary. I quote: There is some evidence to support the wearing of masks or respirators during illness to protect others, and public health emphasis on mask wearing during illness may help to reduce influenza virus transmission. There are fewer data to support the use of masks or respirators to prevent becoming infected. Further studies in controlled settings and studies of natural infections in healthcare and community settings are required to better define the effectiveness of face masks and respirators in preventing influenza virus transmission.

The third study seems to have some merit in that variables were better controlled. Variables include the habits of the people in the sample and the administrator's diligence to accounting for them. The conclusion is long. Here is a small part: "Some evidence suggests that mask use is best taken as part of a package of personal protection especially hand hygiene. The effectiveness of masks and respirators are likely linked to early, consistent, and correct usage." You will note here the consistency of this last sentence to the CDC recommendations to use masks in accordance with social distancing and proper hand hygiene.

The fourth study seems to assume that masks are effective and the focus of the study was to determine if there was any further improvement by using N95s. Here is a statement from the conclusion. "Transmission of acute respiratory infections occurs primarily by contact and droplet routes, and accordingly, the use of a surgical mask, eye protection, gown and gloves should be considered appropriate personal protective equipment when providing routine care for a patient with a transmissible acute respiratory infection."

I was expecting definitive proof of your black and white claim that masks are not effective and clearly failed to find it.

You are misunderstanding mask recommendation if your standard is that no particles smaller than 3 microns can pass through a mask. No one expects to be able to walk into a closed room filled with people testing positive for covid and have their cloth or paper mask prevent infection. That seems to be the standard you are defending as the only standard worth defending. However, laboratory studies can control variables. A mask can be used against a measured covid impulse and the trajectories measured for effectiveness against permeation. No one has to attempt to control the impossible task of where the subject has been for a number of days and who they have come into contact with and how diligent they have been with their assignment.

Masks are just one measure in the line of defense against covid. They must be used with social distancing and proper hand hygiene. This has always been the advice. You have not proved otherwise.

Which makes me believe your motives are political and have nothing to do at all with any genuine caring for people. If you recall, I did not debate the effectiveness of the mask with KB. I went at it from the perspective of a spirit of community. That is still my stance.

I'm glad to hear that you wear a mask when you go to Costco though you have no reason to feel like a pathetic loser by doing so.
XXXXX said…

Also interesting to note that this organization is out of Iowa which went to Trump in 2016. This state is close to a neck-to-neck at this point. Trump up 1% over Biden so the struggle is intense, I am sure. They must have looked long and hard for these little inconclusive studies and really took a leap by entitling them "Masks Don't Work" knowing that most people never look much farther than the headline, for 'mission accomplished'...they've given to the masses exactly what they are more than happy to gobble up without a sniff.
Anonymous said…
Thanks, George, for your diligence in researching this overly politicized topic. It is truly pathetic when citizens of this fine country can’t agree on preventive measures, which have been proven to work and are supported by the vast majority of knowledgeable scientists, because of political affiliation and/or anti-government attitude.

XXXXX said…

There was more to KB's post than this though. I have always thought that he rushes too fast past what has been the inspiration for the post and follows too readily the course of his own thinking which fragments. His initial thought was children playing without interference. That idea of being free of worry, cognitive analysis, responsibilities and being MORE than a child playing. Actually being PLAYING itself. Being totally lost in the untainted joy of play. Losing oneself completely. No self. No ego. The wind and the body being one uninterrupted movement.

He feels that and then he gets mad about the things which interfere, all the things that are less than this. This first part brought back my own memories of childhood, playing and exploring without a sense of the clock, often missing dinner and having to face my father. Having a favorite tree in the woods. Laying in the grass and watching the clouds go by and looking for a message from God. There is indeed something quite beautiful about the mind before the hormones come in and take over our minds.

George, I agree with a writer I no longer read that a "writer should not offer the reader too many conclusions..."

Think of the beginning/introduction (theme music) of the old Andy of Mayberry TV show: little Opie finds a rock that catches his eye, and hurls it into the lake. It makes a brief KERPLUNKK. A few circular waves spread out from the center of it; and then the surface of the water quickly returns to equilibrium.
XXXXX said…

I appreciate that sentiment. I always loved that opening scene of the Andy Griffith show. I'll try to read you from that perspective.

Maybe you could add a whistle or two.
XXXXX said…

I've been thinking of the metaphor of the ripple of the stone and got to wondering if I could follow this example throughout the entire essay.

The idea of the children playing as presented here and, add to this my own thoughts and personal recollections in the above, I would call the first principle in the sense that it is not confined to just the children KB saw in the playground, nor to the children in the picture, nor to children alive today but rather extends to children forever in time for what is being described is inherently in the nature of the child itself and therefore one can know this as part of the essence of a child. It is universal and inherent to the very nature of the thing. In that sense, it is rightly called a first principle.

So can you say that the ripple of the water spreads out and returns to equilibrium. When it returns, does it return to that same first principle? Does this work in this essay?

I think you do a change-up or at least you add to it. Let's follow the ripple. In the second situation, the effeminate boy crossing the street, I can still see the ripple (in the sense that it is a "boy" and not a "man." Although there is the beginning of a sort of corruption...the purity and wholeness of the original source is being disseminated and therefore mixed with impurities. Those impurities brought in by society, ideology, human suffering, and imperfection. You described them as effeminate. A way of putting corruption for it deprives a male of his maleness.

Your idea of the feminine (although I need point out I'm not relinquishing my previous points) is offered as a further corruption as your essay moves to its next point. More contamination of ideology and society and the first principle is further disseminated and corrupted.

However, who's talking here?

At this point, it seems to me that the author and the ripple have clearly merged and are one and the same thing. And this is where the metaphor weakens in the sense that it is no longer purely emanating from the first principle. Initially, the first principle was observed by the author as a thing outside of himself but the author himself has now been consumed within the ripple and adds to the corruption. To be true to the metaphor, it is necessary that the author remove himself from the event. He is a witness, not an actor. But is it possible to do that?

The only part of the metaphor beyond the above that doesn't work for me is the very last part...returning to equilibrium. I think the corruption continues unless something else intervenes....another stone thrown in the pond, for example. If there is no intervention, the corruption continues although it may not be visible to the human eye. And surely, one can add to the metaphor that a stone thrown into a pond causes more reactions within the pond than cannot be seen from above and outside of the pond.

I suppose it goes back to a sort of equilibrium in the sense that the motion stops somewhere but it is important to make the point that the pond is forever changed. It is no longer what it was before the stone was thrown into it. (Heraclitus: You can't step in the same river twice.)

One last point if you're still with me....I go back to the initial inspiration. The beauty, purity, goodness, innocence and uninhibited enthusiasm (from the Greek word 'entheos' meaning the 'God within') of the children. Yes, we all do get contaminated and in this sense, your metaphor works beautifully. But does the author have to merge with the story? Is there a way to tell the story and stay more true to the first principle?

I think there is an ethical lesson here.
George, you certainly put a lot of thought into it. I am having trouble following you, perhaps because I think more empirically and bottom-up, whereas you are proceeding top-down.

I am just trying to observe concrete things that seem a little odd to me at the time; and then ask, "Is there a common denominator in these seemingly disparate things?"