Live Blogging the Coronavirus Outbreak from Ashland, Oregon: At Least One More Month of Quarantine
posted 31 Mar 2020
by Krister Axel
It feels increasingly that we are in a post-truth world, that the voice of the people is all but completely muffled, and that we are in a crisis of not having the means to consistently deliver truthful and unbiased information to the average American.
If you were hoping that this would be the last week of isolation and social distancing, you are probably pretty disappointed right now. For my family, this is our third week of quarantine, and thankfully my kids are still pretty fucking happy about it. Aah, the joys of youth; meanwhile, in my mind, I am obsessing over timelines and business closures; shitty politics, Biden gaffes; it's hard not to feel like the future is pretty bleak. How do we stop government shenanigans when we can't even take to the streets? How can you possibly explain a rise in approval ratings for a narcissistic president with laughable policy positions? It's been a tough week, and it's bound to get tougher.
But first, the good news: in this new age of forced isolation, musicians are finding a way to perform for their fans in any way possible. If there is a winner in all of this, aside from corporations and a sycophantic mainstream media, it is the very concept of live streaming, from Periscope, to Facebook Live, to Instagram Live, and Twitch, musicians around the country and the world are turning to these platforms to - if not make a living - preserve their own prospects for doing so once restrictions have been lifted. And that feels good, knowing that there are still ways to connect with groups of people - in this case, music fans - without having to trigger the kind of anxiety that now comes from personal contact.
We all feel it. Oregon, for example, lifted the restriction against pouring your own gasoline, but it is still optional to let someone do it for you; we all in this state have the habit of just handing a card out the window and staying put while someone else fills the tank. So just the other day, my wife and I were in the car with the kids, filling up the tank after a short drive around town, and she has her disinfectant wipes ready, cleaning off the card before she hands it to the attendant. And, to our collective horror, he decides to walk back over to the driver side window and make conversation while the gas is pumping. It was terrifying - he's telling us about his girlfriend's pug, and something about pepperoni pizza, and I am just barely dealing with the fact that he is within a few feet of my wife's face. We don't have a lot of cases yet in Oregon, and only a handful in this county, so it's probably not a big deal; but I guess we all have to start grappling with the fact that that's going to keep happening and the stakes are going to keep going up. There will always be people that aren't quite paying enough attention, or that, despite their better judgment, cannot resist the allure of meaningless small talk. How do we handle that? Do we ask nicely for 6 feet of space? Do we just roll up the window, and make a silly face? I honestly don't know. Confrontation, to me, is awkward in all its forms.
I count myself lucky that my little world of Ashland has not yet seen a lot of coronavirus infections; but the small businesses are already taking a big hit. Some are able to stay in business by allowing their employees to work from home, and the most resilient restaurants are doing what they can to create or reinvigorate a business model for takeout and delivery. Yet, so much of our local economy is based around hotels and small bed and breakfasts, which in turn rely very directly on visitors to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. They have officially shut down the season at least until September, and laid off 80% of their staff. That is going to make it very difficult for a lot of these downstream businesses to stay afloat. Without a moratorium on mortgage payments, I don't know how that won't create a large number of very unfortunate bankruptcies. September is almost 6 months away, which makes for at least five missing payments in a row. Even if the worst doesn't happen, that is still a lot of debt to claw your way back from.
And then there's the virus, which is going strong. Since my last blog post about this, NYT has gone from counting the infections to counting the dead. Last week, there were more than 400 deaths from coronavirus; now there are more than 3,000. Meanwhile, in a few short weeks, Drumpf has gone from "it's a hoax" to "if only 200,000 people die, that means I did a good job." You can't make this stuff up.
And the word on the street - and by that I mean Twitter - is that the DNC will soon be swapping out Biden for Cuomo, and I have a morbid sense of anticipation around how they are going to explain that one: process be damned. The truth is that right now, Biden is finding it hard to finish a sentence. It is increasingly likely that he won't make it to November, at least with any sort of disposition that will allow him to compete for the presidency in a meaningful way.
Meanwhile, this pandemic is proving the point that Bernie Sanders has been making all along - that coupling health care with employment doesn't work out so well when we have no job security.
Yet, we are in a position now where the bets have already been made. Biden continues to lie and no one will hold him accountable. Even as the world itself endorses the policy positions that Bernie Sanders has held for his entire life, we have a liberal pundit class that just isn't going to go there. I will say it right here, right now: if the Democratic establishment follows through with disenfranchising the #Sanders movement for the second time in 4 years, they will be crippling themselves, and shutting out an entire generation of young voters. Of course, that won't stop them, but that where the #FuckAroundFindOut hash tag comes from. Let's hope we don't have to actually find out.
And if Joe Biden's obvious cognitive decline wasn't enough, we are now seeing a problematic and disappointing response to the very credible allegations of sexual assault that are coming from Tara Reade. Major outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN are choosing to completely ignore this story. In a nutshell: Tara Reade, a former member of then-Senator Biden's staff, claims that he sexually assaulted her in 1993.
DNC surrogate and Biden campaign manager Symone Sanders was caught deleting her tweets in support of Christine Blasey Ford, ostensibly so that she would not have to answer questions about her lack of consistency on supporting #MeToo accusers. For shame.
It feels increasingly that we are in a post-truth world, that the voice of the people is all but completely muffled, and that we are in a crisis of not having the means to consistently deliver truthful and unbiased information to the average American. Back when I worked in technology, we called it a "source of record" - when you have competing stores of information, you need to designate one source as the master. Otherwise, you end up with conflicts that are difficult or impossible to resolve. What if one database says the value of x is 1, and another says the value of x is 0? This country, and perhaps this world, has never needed a reliable source of record the way that it does now. We have half the country that believes everything this President says, despite literally thousands of lies that have come out of his mouth since inauguration; and another segment of the population that cannot come to terms with the fact that Democratic politicians are also often self-serving and truth-averse. In this unprecedented time of crisis, we need to do better. If you live in a state that has yet to vote, please consider voting for Senator Bernie Sanders to become the Democratic nominee for President. If we can find trillions of dollars to fund a corporate bailout, then we can find a way to pay for #MedicareForAll. And Bernie Sanders is the only politician we can trust to make that happen. My name is Krister Axel, thank you for coming to my TED Talk.
Federal guidelines: nothing new.
Confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US: 163,541.
Paris, France. Madison, Wisconsin. Los Angeles. Ashland, Oregon. Ottawa. I write music, I write about music, and I write code. See also: photography, prose, podcasting. I have 1 gorgeous wife, 2 amazing kids, and many interests.