The Sheer Power of Stupidity

There is one force no writer dares put in this books:  Stupidity.

And yet, at times I think it’s like duct tape: it has a light and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.

Recently, in the middle of clearing up the boxes that had never been open in my office, I found a picture of my husband and I on the day we met: his eighteenth birthday.

Now, it must serve as an excuse that we were eighteen. But I think I fell in love — in crush, it’s hard to tell when you’re eighteen — with his picture on his mother’s living room wall, two weeks before I met him, at his eighteenth birthday party.

In the picture we look mortally embarrassed. You see, his mom had … well, bullied us, so I briefly sat on his knee.  There is a picture of that, but this picture was taken right after.

After that his sister took both of us — who btw, I don’t think had ever voluntarily watched any game of anything (well, I watched the games my brother played in, but that was different.) to a football game.  Make that another instance of “uh?”

During that game I convinced him I knew way more math than I did. And he convinced me he knew more about sf/f and philosophy than he did.  And–

And it took us four years and dating other people, before we actually talked about it. And that talk was through a concatenation of circumstances that would get any author fired for inventing them.

Why didn’t we get together earlier?  Well, I wanted to talk to him, but either I was interrupted or I backed out.  Same on his side.

You know what they call that? Idiot plot. The writer is keeping the characters apart.

In the same way I have recently been re-reading Agatha Christie, and one of the recurring things is the rationing and food shortages of WWII.

Of course, there were food shortages, because there was rationing.  In fact the food shortages persisted well after WWII, while the rationing persisted.  Once rationing disappeared so did the shortages.

Even by WWII this was not an unknown law of nature: insert the government in the middle of the food supply or any other essential business and watch the essential thing disappear.

Who said that if you put the government in charge of rationing sand in the Sahara they’d run out of sand?

Whoever it was is not wrong. That is human experience, always. Put a third party in the supply line, who decides how much must be made available and how much will be consumed.  Hunger and destruction are guaranteed.

So, what did we do, over a pandemic, which affects mostly the very old? (Yes the young can catch it too, and as with the flu there is a freakish chance one will die, though so far deaths under fifty with no co-morbidities of the terminal cancer kind, are almost unheard of.  Rare as hens teeth, which as we all know also DO happen. Just vanishingly rarely .)  We not only didn’t take care of the aged and the most vulnerable, by concentrating all our care and attention on them, but we shut the entire fricking country and are now demanding that school children wear masks. Even though they’re at greater risk for vindictive meteors lurking in alleys to hit them as they pass by.

What do we do as the numbers fall, right on time as they do everywhere in the world?  Oh, we make mask mandates, and the governor of California is placing is whole state under house arrest again.

Oh, and of course, the governor, a man who never worked at anything productive, ever, and his fellow governors, ditto, decide which businesses are essential and what people REALLY need.

Because that’s worked so well every time in the past.  Let’s do it once more.

I said at the beginning of this that I was having trouble writing.  I’m not having trouble anymore, though time is really scant, as we are still laying down floor in the house, which, yes, I understand is another idiot plot. I mean, seriously. I’m a writer, Jim, not a carpenter. So, why am I laying down wood floor?

Well, we don’t have a ton of money on hand. We’d have more, if I were writing, of course, but I have to lay this floor.

Idiot plots. That’s why I was having trouble writing.  We’re supposed to reflect reality to some extent, right?

And yet life is full of the screamingly irrationally stupid.  And we can’t do anything for that. Because if we did, every reader and reviewer would lose his or her mind about the idiot plot and things only happening because the writer said so.

I mean perhaps it’s the same in our world, but son has forbidden me from glowering skyward and screaming “You need a critique group.” He says it scares the mail carrier and causes talk.

And so we build our worlds without stupidity.  Which is means it’s more likely the stupidity in every day life will go unnoticed, since people don’t have a concept to put to it.

Perhaps that’s why it feels like it’s metastasizing, infecting everything, writhing through our lives, private and public, and well… holding the universe together.

Like duct tape.

84 thoughts on “The Sheer Power of Stupidity

  1. — Who said that if you put the government in charge of rationing sand in the Sahara they’d run out of sand? —

    That was one of the late Milton Friedman’s humorous yet irrefutable truths. Poul Anderson liked to tell a similar joke:

    Smith had, ah, not qualified for Heaven, and so at his demise he found himself confronting Hell’s Admissions demon. The demon found him eminently qualified for Hell, and the paperwork — what, you’re surprised Hell would keep records? — was completed expeditiously. When that was done, the demon said to Smith, “Contrary to what you’ve heard, we do allow a limited amount of individual choice here. See those two doors over there? Decide which of the rooms beyond you’d prefer to spend eternity in.”

    Smith looked where the demon pointed and saw two huge bronze doors. They were labeled CAPITALIST HELL and SOCIALIST HELL. A bare handful of souls waited for admission to Capitalist Hell, while many millions awaited admission to Socialist Hell. Smith ambled over, curious as to the reasons. Each door had a small window in it, so he peeked through each in turn.

    Capitalist Hell presented a grim picture: a huge machine with millions of arms stood in the midst of an immense lake of red-hot coals. Each arm gripped a damned soul. Each arm repeatedly ground the suffering soul into the hot coals, and great were the screams of the despairing.

    Smith shuddered and went to peek into Socialist Hell. And what did he see but the very same picture! The same huge, million-armed machine in the midst of a lake of glowing coals, the same merciless torture of the damned, and the same shrieks of suffering and despair! Yet many more souls awaited entry into Socialist Hell than awaited eternity in Capitalist Hell. He had to know why, so he returned to the Admissions Desk.

    “Ah, excuse me–” Smith said.
    “Yes?” the demon said. “You have a question?”
    “I do, Smith said. “I looked into the two rooms and the scenes are exactly the same. So why the trickle awaiting entry to Capitalist Hell, and the immense crowd awaiting entry to Socialist Hell?”

    The demon smiled somewhat abashedly. “Well, you see, in Socialist Hell the machine keeps breaking down, and it’s always running out of coal.”


  2. I’ve walled a couple of books because of idiot plots/characters, well figuratively since they were eBooks. One I did make it through, but just barely. The main character just kept doing everything she could to get herself killed.

        1. Yeah, it’s okay for a character to be stupid _in a character-driven way_. You can make arcs out of that, if you want.

          The amusing thing was that the Marcinko SEAL books often had the MC (a fictionalized first person Marcinko) doing stupid things or making stupid mistakes. And the author would point it out, which was more amusing than in a Gothic. (Because usually Gothic had-I-but-known is not about guns or parachutes.)

  3. > In fact the food shortages persisted well after WWI

    Not just food; almost everything was rationed for a long time.

    There were comments in the British magazine “Model Engineering” about rationing and shortages up into the late 1950s. And from one comment, coal for residential heating wasn’t always available in the early 1950s. And even after their first power reactor went online, big chunks of England still didn’t have an electrical grid; there were still lots of articles about treadle-powered equipment, and articles on building an engine from scratch to turn your hand-wound generator to get lighting were common enough. One article noticed they had *had* electricity in the 1930s, but the War Ministry had scavenged their power lines for copper for the war effort, and fifteen years later they were still using kerosene lamps…

    It’s like all those American movies made in the 1930s, set in a Hollywood universe where there was no Depression.

    What was it Gibson said? “The future is here, it’s just unevenly distributed.” The same applies to the past.

    1. There is a Nevil Shute novel, the Far Country which touches on how skint the rationing left ordinary British citizens after WWII, where a character reads through a personal recipe book kept by one of his elders, and is bitter about the current conditions, compared to what he remembered eating as a child.
      IIRC, rationing of everything went on in Britain for ten years after the war ended.

      1. Fabric and shoes were rationed until 1956, because textiles and leather were sold to pay off the war (according to the Labour government). Fashion magazines were banned for a while in the late 1940s, in hopes that women wouldn’t see the “New Look” style coming from Paris and want more fabric for full skirts and the like (!).

    2. I always have been somewhat boggled by how *long* the rationing went on after the end of the war in Britain. But, yeah, government involvement, it makes sense…It’s just SO. STUPID.

  4. > What do we do as the numbers fall,

    This morning’s news noted that Homeland Security is now asking hospitals and coroners to report COVID-19 deaths directly to DHS instead of the CDC.

    I got the impression the Fed no longer considers CDC numbers trustworthy.

    1. Me, I would have gone with “in addition to” instead of “in lieu of.” Makes it looks less like you’re trying to hide things.

      And really, there’s not really a lot worth hiding. Sure, cases are up significantly, but the CCFR is under 4% right now, has been dropping for days, and bids fair to continue doing so.

      1. I think it has more to do with the random announcements I keep seeing on Facebook that somehow always frames reports in the most alarming manner possible– say, increase in percent when both numbers were tiny, raw number when the population is huge, increase vs prior week after the 4th of July weekend delayed reports, sudden switch to cases when deaths dropped, number of hospital beds when their numbers were low enough to bring in bad cases from out of country, and cases being transferred to make room for normal freaking hospital work as “running out of beds” rather than “reopening for normal vital surgeries.”

        1. I kind of understand that, but those media reports aren’t based on numbers coming out of the CDC. All this is going to do is add to hysteria as people start asking “What are they hiding?”

          1. Since the CDC openly admitted to twisting their mask advice to manipulate people, I’ve been ignoring them, but the folks on my facebook sharing stuff sure seem to believe it’s from CDC press releases.

    2. The CDC has not covered itself in glory since January, that’s for sure. I recall the Orange One complaining (in March?) that the CDC’s response to everything was centralization, and it drove testing wait times through the roof.

      One thing that is being actively covered over by the CDC and the media is that Corona is very unevenly distributed in the USA. Just like crime is, really, and in the same places. Same cover-up too. Big Eastern cities have all the cases, because that’s where everybody uses transit and where the largest population of uncouth, uncooperative, uneducated and unwashed a-holes lives.

      The propaganda effort from the Left is sourced in part -from- the CDC, so switching reporting to DHS is a politically smart thing for Trump to do. As to practicality, if the CDC is bent then all the numbers coming out of there are bent too. It doesn’t really matter if they are efficient if they’re lying.

      1. Worth noting is that there are theories that the strain that hit the Eastern US mutated in Europe to something more deadly. Whatever’s going on, there’s got to be some reason that the ten states with the highest fatality rates are east of the Mississippi (depending on how you count Louisiana).

        1. The interaction between Washington, California and New York/DC make that unlikely– anything that would change in teh virus itself should have hit both.

          … this may be viewing from an existing theory based mindset, but I went to world of meters, checked New York, New Jersey and Louisiana for the deaths per million listing, and then looked at California and Washington. (open the state as a new page, it’s the chart at the very bottom)

          The first three have a big lump in their reported daily deaths curve, from before testing was relatively easy to get; California and Washington do not.

          We know that New York was recording deaths from things that were definitely not COVID-19 as COVID-19, while California and Washington were going off of a more restrictive definition than “may have had breathing distress and could have been exposed.”

          That suggest it is at least in part a records issue, in addition to the nursing home problems.

        2. The surge in numbers in Texas seems to be concentrated on the border, with a parallel rise in cases in the cities on the south side of said border. Up here, of those tested “because they’re having surgery, not because of symptoms,” the positive rate is very, very low.

          Make of it what you will.

        1. There’s also the Florida percentage records. If a hospital has 9 percent cases, and somebody types in “96%”, there is a big problem with your data entry and your factchecking of reports.

          1. What she’s talking about, for those who haven’t seen it:


            ORLANDO, Fla. – After FOX 35 News noticed errors in the state’s report on positivity rates, the Florida Department of Health said that some laboratories have not been reporting negative test result data to the state.

            Countless labs have reported a 100 percent positivity rate, which means every single person tested was positive. Other labs had very high positivity rates. FOX 35 News found that testing sites like one local Centra Care reported that 83 people were tested and all tested positive. Then, NCF Diagnostics in Alachua reported 88 percent of tests were positive.

            How could that be? FOX 35 News investigated these astronomical numbers, contacting every local location mentioned in the report.

            The report showed that Orlando Health had a 98 percent positivity rate. However, when FOX 35 News contacted the hospital, they confirmed errors in the report. Orlando Health’s positivity rate is only 9.4 percent, not 98 percent as in the report.

            MORE NEWS: Florida has largest single-day jump in COVID-19 deaths yet, with 132 more reported

            The report also showed that the Orlando Veteran’s Medical Center had a positivity rate of 76 percent. A spokesperson for the VA told FOX 35 News on Tuesday that this does not reflect their numbers and that the positivity rate for the center is actually 6 percent.

            FOX 35 News went on to speak with the Florida Department of Health on Tuesday. They confirmed that although private and public laboratories are required to report positive and negative results to the state immediately, some have not. Specifically, they said that some smaller, private labs were not reporting negative test result data to the state.

  5. > stupidity


    “Ignorance is a powerful tool if applied at the right time, even, usually, surpassing knowledge.” – E.J. Potter

    Potter was better known as “The Michigan Madman”, and started off in the 1960s by making exhibition runs at drag strips, where they’d pay him to bring his bike, “The Widowmaker”, and run it down the strip. The Widowmaker had a fuel-injected Chevy V8 and no transmission or clutch; he launched by putting the bike on a stand, bringing the engine up to red line, and having a helper push the bike off the stand to launch. The usual result was vast plumes of tire smoke as he slued and slithered down the track. Sometimes the result was a trip to the hospital. That’s the kind of entertainment you get when you mix alcohol and internal combustion.

    Later he found some military-surplus jet engines for sale, and thought “I wonder what would happen if I bolted one or two of these to a farm tractor?” more or less inadvertently creating what is now a recognized sport…

    1. “American Pickers” had an episode featuring some of Potter’s creations. IIRC, they were in the possession of one of Potter’s friends, and the pickers found them a home at a museum.

  6. Though every now and then the Great Writer does come up with some pretty good plots. I mean, back in 2016 when he brought that Anthony Weiner character back as part of the Hillary email debacle? Genius.

    Which Christies are you thinking of? The only one I remember that was actually in WWII was N or M? and most of the postwar ones I’ve read get a lot of complaints about taxes and general economic malaise. I don’t remember much about rationing.

    1. I just read N or M, and it’s a fantastic period piece, both in terms of the atmosphere it describes and the fact that it’s really obvious propaganda. I liked it.

    2. In A Murder Is Announced by Christie, rationing is an important part of the plot. The characters in the book have set up a black market system to get around the severity of food rationing, which in part involves people slipping into other people’s houses when the homeowner is not around, to leave the contraband articles. The detective realizes he has no idea of who has been where at what time, and could have, for example, stolen the gun, since people are sneaking everywhere. The book takes place shortly after WWII has ended.

      1. I don’t remember sneaking into people’s houses, but I do remember that there was a bit of a fuss about how they got the ingredients for the “delicious death” cake.

        Now that I’m thinking along those lines, I guess there was also a bit in Pocketful of Rye where the fact that the cook had “butter, sugar, [and] cream” was a sign that “nobody in this house [had] any scruples,” as well as a mention that tea would include “scones with real black-market farm butter.”

        Okay, I guess it is embedded in all of the postwar stories; I just never really processed it.

        1. Miss Hinchcliffe and her friend are “in with the farmers” and know when there’s something that can be traded. Sometimes an animal had an “accident” and had to be put down. The detective can’t figure out why Mrs. Swettenham was acting cagey when he talks to her about why she was in Miss Blacklock’s house “returning a book” until the vicar’s wife tells him that she was actually leaving some sort of food in the flour bin, which doesn’t have any flour in it.

  7. Side note: most states have done and are doing a pretty good job of protecting their vulnerable populations.

    The fact is that the primary drivers of the US’s COVID numbers are New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, which comprise less than 12% of the US’s population, nearly 45% of the COVID deaths, and four of the top five confirmed case fatality rates. To no one’s surprise, these are the states that are being feted by the media as having succeeded in dealing with COVID.

    1. I have a friend who used to be sane — well, saner — and who has been praising those states for their ‘effective response’. Maybe I should point him in the direction of these statistics.

      Though I doubt it would do any good.

  8. Yes the young can catch it too, and as with the flu there is a freakish chance one will die, though so far deaths under fifty with no co-morbidities of the terminal cancer kind, are almost unheard of.

    There was much made of the RoKorea having a healthy 15 year old (I think?) die. It was reported HERE as a kung flu death.

    Problem: He was tested at least a half-dozen times before death, and another half dozen after, and the only positive was after he was already very sick so it was probably a false positive.

    Directly linking this information didn’t even slow folks down in screaming about it killing young and healthy people.

    Summer before last I couldn’t believe anybody would be so insanely STUPID as to copy the tactics for the Spanish Flu.
    Cut to today, and they’re putting infected folks in nursing homes and screaming for the same @#$@# masking that didn’t do jack back then.

    1. Re: the nursing homes, it is important to remember that socialists only value -productive- citizens, and then only for the production. The non-productive [aka the old, the sick, the broken] are considered a cost.

      See Sweden for the best example of that policy working out the way we all expected it to.

      In Canada the fatality rate in publicly funded nursing homes is huge, that’s all down to government rationing of care. As in, the government won’t pay enough for people to take those jobs, not even immigrants will do them. So there’s no staffing, so the residents just die. And that budget expense stops.

      Its very efficient, if you’re a socialist. Stalin did something similar in the Ukraine many years ago.

      1. Italy wasn’t even subtle about refusing to do basic treatment on folks who had existing conditions like…birth defects….


        1. I’m going to refrain from my usual rant on the subject, and content myself with the observation that the people of Italy, and New York, and Toronto etc. are all getting what they voted for. Good and hard.

          1. Like Sarah said over at her blog– the Nazis were just obvious and organized.

            *Shudder* I guess it’s one of those reoccurring human flaws.

      2. Yeah. The Swedes have a COVID fatality rate five times that of Denmark, nine times that of Finland, and eleven times that of Norway.

        And I’m still dealing with people who think the Swedish model is best.

        1. The Swedish model still might be the best, because a fair comparison is only possible when it’s all over: the shelter-in-place model explicitly tries to push deaths out (“flatten the curve”), so it’s not fair to compare until the epidemic is at an end. Also, you need to include ALL excess deaths; if shutting everything down leads to more deaths from suicide and delayed medical treatment, those need to be included. Oh, and there are questions about how accurate the death counts are.

          Finally, there is the non-medical side, such as the state of the economy. If shutting everything down saves a few lives in the short term, but causes a depression, is that a good trade off?

          A fair minded look at how various US states are doing indicates that the freak out approach probably isn’t the best.

        2. Most of the Swedish deaths came from the nursing homes. If they had gotten that right instead I might give the Swedish model a bit more praise – the rest of it was better for the economy.

    2. Italy has apparently been managing about 20,000 flu deaths every winter, and they have a lot of anti-vaxxers for everything. And a lot of old people have Vitamin D deficiencies, which takes some doing in a sunny country.

      1. I think that that is a feature not a bug. They want to kill off opponents. To some elites, the only important people are themselves and their servants.

  9. Sometimes with an awfully dark sense of humor, though.
    (At the crux of etymology, theology, and philosophy… Is it appropriate to call the first mover, who himself remains unmoved, a b@st@rd? Generally unwise, certainly. But in some situations it has seemed the most heartfelt worthship, to give in praise.)

    1. Ack! This was supposed to be a reply to Zsusza up above.
      (WordPress, you bloody blighter! I bite my thumb at thee!)

  10. I don’t use fiction to get reality. I can get that out the window. I do it for a more distilled, purer version of reality (and a more entertaining one).

    However, I’d love see a book where one of the antagonists is a theoretically benign, but actually actively harmful, bureaucracy.

    1. Keith Laumer’s Retief stories come to mind, although that may be more a case of “overwhelming stupidity > planned malice.”

      1. Laumer was an inspired writer and Retief was an example. Present circumstance is crazier and -stupider- than anything Laumer ever came up with.

    2. The Weed Agency by Jim Geraghty. Unfortunately, it’s realistic fiction, so it doesn’t have a happy ending.

  11. You want to see an idiot plot, just take a look at Canada. This is the first ever banana republic that’s not a republic and it’s too cold to grow bananas.

    It goes beyond scandal and enters the realm of Caligula’s Rome. We haven’t even heard what’s going down on the Ottawa party circuit yet, but with the Chicoms involved (and they certainly are) we will probably look back at PizzaGate as the good old days when it was just the usual heinous perversions. You know, things you’d actually heard of.

    If you put it in a book, no one would buy it.

    The Prime Minister decrees a billion dollar no-bid contract to the same “charity” that pays his mother quarter-million-dollars-a-pop speaking fees, and his brother, and the Prime Minister too. Then it is discovered -by government bureaucrats, not the press- that they’re unable to fulfill the contract… but they still get it anyway. The gravy train forges onward, biscuit wheels a-turnin’.

    (This is -after- the plague hits and finds the federal government 100% unprepared. Their response was to close Canada, make everybody stay home for three months, take unemployment past 1930’s levels, and destroy the entire Canadian oil industry. But they let flights from China keep landing.)

    Then it was discovered that the Finance Minister and other cabinet ministers have the same deal with the “charity”. Gravy train forges onward.

    Oh, and the charity is involved with some -super- shady shit going down in Africa, people may have been getting disappeared. You know, fatally. Shallow grave in the desert type thing. Still nothing much in the news. Forward the gravy train.

    Then, when HIS OWN PARTY starts raising almighty hell, the Prime Minister issues a YouTube “I’m deeply sorry that y’all were offended that I was stealing a billion dollars” and cancels the contract. And considers the matter closed.

    Gravy train pauses in the station to take on coal and water. [ All aboard! Whoo Whooo! chugachugachuga]

    And the opposition parties -let- him. They are nowhere to be seen right now. Jagmeet Singh the NDP commie is running around on TV screaming “systemic racism defund the police!!!” but he has had not much to say about the “charity” scandal. Conservatives? Invisible! Missing!

    That’s the part that is killing me right now. “Oh, too much? Sorry, never mind then.” [mike drop] Like its no big deal. Walks off the stage, starts setting up the next billion dollar scam. Because he can! This is the FOURTH TIME HE’S DONE IT.

    What fictional politician have you ever read who could get away with that? Seriously.

    1. Not to mention the irony of a guy who wore blackface — multiple times — kneeling at a BLM protest. And getting applauded for it.

      1. “Not to mention the irony of a guy who wore blackface — multiple times — kneeling at a BLM protest…”

        …on Parliament Hill, steps from his office, surrounded by really big, really mean looking White cops, none of whom seemed at all amused by the spectacle…

        He’s like Sniffer Biden. He’s the idiot child the media is forced to support, no matter what he does.

        He’s such an idiot he is performing the role of Prime Minister AND the Leader of the Opposition simultaneously. If it wasn’t for the constant stream of unforced errors coming from Blackie McBlackface every day, there’d be no news from Ottawa at all. Just Theresa Tam reversing whatever she said about Corona last week and Climate Barbie lying about windmills.

        Idiot plot.

  12. I’m in California and I can’t head desk any more because I’ll hurt myself. I’m being “good” because I do have near and dear ones in high risk categories, but the panic is driving me bonkers.

    I should go donate blood (if I can, it will be the first time in my life I’ll be able to, but I think we fixed the iron deficiency.) They do antibody tests, and we’d be able to see if the family got the mild version back in March.

    1. Per the CDC website, the antibody test can’t distinguish between Covid-19 and any other corona virus. It might just detect a cold.

      1. Now that I did -not- know. I thought the test had specificity.

        So what they’re really testing for is antibodies to the most common ailment on Earth. That explains the huge positive % of the population.

    2. I couldn’t donate because of cancer. Though it does get interesting when they ask how your cancer was treated, and the only response was — ummm, it — wasn’t?

      (Accidentally discovered in a post-operation pathology report.)

        1. The Red Cross won’t allow you to donate because you might have the human version of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or “mad cow disease.”) The limit is four months cumulative between 1991-1996. When the rule was made, it was thought that humans got it from contaminated food, so if you were in Britain, France, Germany or the Low Countries for longer than four months total, your blood is not wanted.

          1. yep. that’s why I can no longer donate.
            Which btw is stupid insane. I was not in Britain, France, Germany or the low countries. They do this for ALL of Europe.

  13. I look at this year so far, and think that somewhere, Tom Clancy’s ghost has one hand over his eyes as he mutters, “Sheesh, and people called _Red Storm Rising_ and _Rainbow Six_ outlandish?” Yeah, he had some really painful plot coincidences, but not the sheer stupidity levels of 2020.

  14. I used to donate, until I walked in to donate, and the FIRST “do not donate if you are taking this medicine” I was taking. Still am..

  15. Anecdote or datum? It has now been two weeks since my exposure to 1000s of unmasked deplorables at Mount Rushmore on 4 Jul weekend. Nothing happened.

      1. Almost certainly not. I have two friends who caught something with all the Wu Flu symptoms in February. I think I had it mostly asymptomatically long before this stupidity started.

        1. Turns out there’s an additional option, you might have had an unknown germ that is basically the cowpox to COVID’s small pox, link down at the bottom, after noting that having had SARS seems to train your T-cells to have a robust response to COVID-19/SARS CoV-2:

          And turning to patients who have never been exposed to either SARS or the latest SARS CoV-2, this new work confirms that there are people who nonetheless have T cells that are reactive to protein antigens from the new virus. As in the earlier paper, these cells have a different pattern of reactivity compared to people who have recovered from the current pandemic (which also serves to confirm that they truly have not been infected this time around). Recognition of the nsp7 and nsp13 proteins is prominent, as well as the N protein. And when they looked at that nsp7 response, it turns out that the T cells are recognizing particular protein regions that have low homology to those found in the “common cold” coronaviruses – but do have very high homology to various animal coronaviruses.

          1. I’m starting to think there’s cross-immunity with canine coronavirus. Which is nearly ubiquitous in dogs… nearly all have either had it by 6 weeks, or have been vaccinated. Canine coronavirus is not itself serious (at worst causes a week of hershey squirts) but before we had good parvo vaccine, was relevant because corona knocks down the immune system and acts as a gateway for parvovirus, which is usually fatal.

            My dogs are relatively isolated, and per above, I no longer use corona vaccine in my kennel (given it had no real value once we got good parvo vaccine). Thus there’s a good chance some of mine have never been exposed and therefore don’t have the usual corona immunity.

            About six weeks ago I had a dog with a dry cough (definitely =not= “kennel cough”), no appetite, and severe malaise (laid around for a week, looking like she was going to die) but no fever. Two others (of 24 total) got the cough but not the rest, so transmissibility confirmed. All recovered without incident. But the really sick one looked suspiciously like the CV19 symptom set (dry cough, extreme fatigue, no sense of smell).

            And I went… hmm. Dogs are known to become infected by CV19, but generally have no symptoms… and that would be explained if there is indeed cross-immunity. And a lack of prior immunity would explain a dog with symptoms.

            Meanwhile, having been myself directly exposed to active canine coronavirus in the far past, am I immune to CV19? Only time will tell… since absent vaccine, eventually we’ll ALL get it.

  16. To be fair, taking you to the football game got you out of the house and sitting together, albeit chaperoned.

    That said, I think your future sister-in-law was having a brain freeze, and defaulted to “traditional potentially romantic activities” because she didn’t know what to do with you two.

  17. There is no such thing as a stupid action for a character in a book. There is only an undermotivated one.

    Some actions need more motivation than others.

    (I personally do not like it when characters act stupidly even when I say, “Yes, that is exactly what that character would do and it would be an aesthetic error to have him act unstupidly.” But that’s a personal quirk.)

    1. Possibly the comedic value… also possibly the character that successfully bumbles through everything until you wonder if they’re crazy or crazy like fox. (See Russian Folklore Character Ivan Durachok ‘Ivan the Fool/idiot’. Who does just that in escapade after escapade. Though in Russia Sister Fox is Too Clever For Her Own Good, so maybe ‘crazy like wolf’. Brother Wolf is the helpful critter.)

  18. We were just talking about this with Pina Hime in the anime “Gate”. I’m grousing from time to time what an inept “commander” she is, but honestly, for an aristo and a politician she’s not half bad.

    The reality is that I like my protagonists to be chosen from the narrower “capable” pool, when it’s more realistic that they are not.

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