Day 30. A whole month. Hard to believe it’s been a month of working from home. I have managed to be productive, at least. Maybe not as much as I hoped, but I am not ‘working’ from the couch watching garbage TV. If, as has been suggested, this drags out upwards of 18 months, then we’ll see. Honestly, I don’t see it getting there. The simple reality is that people will just say ‘fuck it’ and start ignoring the stay home orders. We, especially in the America we want to believe exists, don’t do well with dictatorial nonsense from the elected leaders.

As that day approaches, we are seeing a lot more official misconduct – from arresting people who are as ‘socially distant’ as possible to forbidding in-car church services. Americans are able to tolerate a lot. There are, however, limits to that tolerance. We, for good and ill, are no longer the same people who accepted austerity and hardship during the World Wars. Also, we no longer are the people who believe the government is our friend or ally. From the left, alternately screaming that Trump is a fascist dictator; and not dictator enough; to the right screaming about the deep state; we no longer trust our government. The small-l libertarian in me is happy to see that. However, in times of crisis, we need to be able to trust our leadership. And we don’t have any we can trust.

A Mad Tea-Party, Introduction

So, on the subject of trusting the government, I guess I need to talk about some of the COVID-19 nonsense that is being spread around. I have talked before about the transition to Conspiracy World, and it bears repeating. It seems like we found ourselves living in a world, that were we to describe it to ourselves even 10 or 15 years ago, we’d think we lost it. On the fringes of the right, there is a group that is taking that reality, and warping it to their own ends. They call themselves QAnon.

I won’t be doing a deep dive into the QAnon thing – I need all the sanity points I can keep these days. But their brand of conspiracy idiocy is that “…there is a worldwide cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who rule the world, essentially, and they control everything. They control politicians, and they control the media. They control Hollywood, and they cover up their existence, essentially. And they would have continued ruling the world, were it not for the election of President Donald Trump…”1 No, really. Stop laughing.

Done? Ok, back to it.

First, though, I need to talk about the urge to believe in conspiracy theories. It’s kind of fascinating, but far too complex to really tackle here. So, let me sum up.

A Mad Tea-Party, Interlude

People believe conspiracy theories because they can’t accept reality. Which is pat and trite. But still, it’s the core reason. For example, we, as a species, have a lot of psychological blinders. Most of which are a modern development. See, our brains still want to function like they always have – and I mean always as in a literal always. Back to the stone ages, so to speak. And part of that is the way we define reality. Despite all the advances in the past century, we still have these blinders that limit what we can accept. So it is that things that are, for want of a better term, too big, are viewed with suspicion. I think that as we disconnected faith from everyday life, we opened ourselves up even more to that trend.

That is why it is easier to believe that a collection of mobsters and others killed President Kennedy, not Lee Harvey Oswald. Why it’s easier to believe that the moon landing was shot in Hollywood, rather than the truth of it being real. The small, credulous, mind believes that there is no way something can just be, they need to see hidden hands in everything. I suspect it makes them feel better – they see the hidden truths – and thus feel superior to others. This is not to attack the concept of belief.

Humans have a need to believe. We see that in the simple fact that every single culture we have found has some form of belief. All of them. As we have distanced from belief in the supernatural in recent history, we have had to fill that slot in the psyche with something else. We still believe, but now it’s in celebrities, politicians, politics, athletes, money or possessions, you get the picture. We all know someone, or many someones, who exhibit this. From the people openly weeping because their politician lost, to the people acting out mourning rituals for a dead celebrity they never cam within 100 miles of…people need that faith slot filled. And they will work overtime to find something to fill it. Even something as absurd as the conspiracy theory.

Which brings us to back to QAnon.

A Mad Tea-Party, But One To Avoid

So, recently, the delusional folks in QAnon have been pushing the idea that all this – the COVID-19 pandemic in toto, is a ruse.

To cover the rescue of ‘mole children’ being bred as sex slaves / food / drug sources in tunnels under Central Park, and elsewhere.

Check the header, this isn’t a satire blog. Yes, these people actually believe that. When it isn’t 5G cell towers causing COVID-19, that is. So, mole children. It seems that the above-mentioned “cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles” has been breeding children as sex slaves, underground, no less, and President Trump sicced the Pentagon Pedophilia Task Force (dafq?) on the issue. And now thousands (millions, for some more rabid sorts) of children are being rescued. They have, of course, been bred for the specific purpose of being sex slaves, but also for being eaten and having their adrenal glands harvested so “elites” can get high on their adrenochrome. No, really.

While I do mock the belief, I also kind of pity the people who believe it. Believing that something as explicable and easy to understand as COVID-19 must be a cover for some monstrous hidden agenda and secret war…that’s just broken. And badly broken at that. As much as I understand the psychological tendency to believe in conspiracy theory, this one is too far out there. Of course, as with all such beliefs, the total lack of proof is de facto proof.

The sad thing is, these are good people. They love their kids, work hard, are part of their community. In short, there is just something going on inside that leads them to absurdity.

Numbers Are Hard…

So, Americans hate percentages. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it is the inherent flexibility they suggest – 100 is nice, tangible, 5% less so. Maybe it’s just laziness. As a result, we focus completely on raw numbers, wholly out of context. And that’s becoming clear in how the numbers for COVID-19 are being reported. For instance, recent reports talked a lot about the US having the highest infection rate in the world. Which, in terms of raw numbers, is…well…still inaccurate. Above all, remember, China lied, and continues to lie, about their numbers. But ignoring the Chinese lies, when you look at Europe, we do indeed have more infected than many countries in Europe.

According to a tracking site, the US has, as of Day 30, April 16, 2020, 16:00 GMT, 652,968 cases, and 33,387 deaths. More cases than Spain, Italy, France, and Germany. Combined. Yikes. More than 10,000 more deaths than the next closest, Italy. Double yikes.

Of course, our population is more than 74,000,000 more than Spain, Italy, France, and Germany. Combined.

If you do the math, the actual truth of the COVID-19 spread comes much clearer.

CountryTotal CasesTotal DeathsTot Cases/ 1M popDeaths/ 1M pop
For a screenshot of the tracking site, click here.

To sum up, those two columns on the right tell more of the story than the raw numbers on the left. Yes, we have more raw cases, but in terms of per capita cases, we are doing fairly well. Especially when you consider the population difference, density, and so on.

Day 30 In Illinois

Per the state website, as of 4/16/2020 2:30 P.M., Illinois has…

  • Tested: 122,589
  • Cases: 25,733
  • Positive Test Percentage: 20.99%
  • Infection Rate: 0.203%
  • Deaths: 1,072
  • Case Fatality Rate: 4.17%

Infection Rate is arrived at by dividing Cases into the estimated population of IL, as listed by the US Census (12,671,821)

Day 30 In Indiana

Per the state website, as of April 15, 2020, 11:59pm, Indiana has…

  • Tested: 51,115
  • Cases: 9,542
  • Positive Test Percentage: 18.67%
  • Infection Rate: 0.142%
  • Deaths: 477
  • Case Fatality Rate: 5.00%

Infection Rate is arrived at by dividing Cases into the estimated population of IN, as listed by the US Census (6,732,219)

Day 30 In New York*

Per the state website, as of April 15, 2020, 11:59pm, New York has…

  • Tested: 550,579
  • Cases: 222,284
  • Positive Test Percentage: 40.37%
  • Infection Rate: 1.143%
  • Deaths: 12,192
  • Case Fatality Rate: 5.48%

Infection Rate is arrived at by dividing Cases into the estimated population of NY, as listed by the US Census (19,453,561)

Just a reminder about the ‘Day xx’ in those section headers. That is day 30 for my experience & blog. Not the actual day for the infection tally in the listed states. Just to clear up any confusion.