Third Alien Shore

In a struggle to be happy and free

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Trump and the Elephant

On Wednesday (March 29), President Trump took a step farther away from presidential behaviour when he posted a four tweet thread about how his daily White House briefings about the COVID-19 crisis are TV ratings hits. In the middle of a pandemic, the President is worried about his TV ratings.

Here are his tweets:

President Trump is a ratings hit. Since reviving the daily White House briefing Mr. Trump and his coronavirus updates have attracted an average audience of 8.5 million on cable news, roughly the viewership of the season finale of “The Bachelor.” Numbers are continuing to rise...
...On Monday, nearly 12.2 million people watched Mr. Trump’s briefing on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, according to Nielsen — “Monday Night Football” numbers. Millions more are watching on ABC, CBS, NBC and online streaming sites, and the audience is expanding. On Monday, Fox News...
...alone attracted 6.2 million viewers for the president’s briefing — an astounding number for a 6 p.m. cable broadcast, more akin to the viewership for a popular prime-time sitcom...
...The CBS News poll said 13 percent of Republicans trusted the news media for information about the virus." Michael M. Grynbaum @NTTimes

The thing is, he totally doesn’t get it.

Many years ago I recall that there was some issue with a science-fiction convention and J. Michael Straczynski told a little story highlighting how the convention owner wasn’t popular for the reasons he thought. Straczynski drew a mental picture of the circus arriving in town back in the day. All the trucks with all the circus folks driving down main street waving at the residents and their waving back. Then the mayor appears, waving to the crowd, riding an elephant. The crowd waves and cheers him on.

But really, who are the cheers for? Are the crowds cheering the mayor because they recognize him as their mayor, or are they cheering him because he’s on an elephant? Of course it’s the latter. Crowds don’t form around him as he walks down the street. He may get a wave, but no one cheers. It’s that he’s on an elephant that draws the cheers. Indeed, all of the children don’t even care about him at all, for them it’s only the elephant.

Similarly, Trump is sadly mistaken if he thinks he is a ratings success. People want information about COVID-19 and what their government is doing about it. He just happens to be the one delivering the information.

How does he not see this? Perhaps the non-narcissists are the only ones who don’t understand how he can’t see it.

This is where I was planning on ending this post for today. I made the point I wanted to make. But before I started writing, I thought I might go look at the article that Trump was citing, but to see if managed to misquote it to his pwn advantage. I found the article, and to my great surprise, Trump’s quote were entirely accurate. Except they’re the definition of ‘out of context.’

The article is about whether networks should be covering daily White House briefings live because Trump talked about many things unrelated, and adds in plenty of his own inaccuracies.

Leave it to Trump to make it all about his success when the article is about his failure.

For your edification, the New York Times article is reproduced in its entirely below, with the parts that Trump tweeted in italics. You can see how he carved around the inconvenient parts to change the message.

Read more

Prepare: COVID-19

The best tweet in a long time:

And here’s her thread, for your information.

I know we’re all tired of hearing/talking about it, but one thing I haven’t really seen going around is advice for what happens if you do get coronavirus (many of us will), only advice for how to try to avoid it. So as your friendly neighborhood RN, a wee thread:

Things you should actually buy ahead of time (Erm, not sure what the obsession with toilet paper is?): Kleenex, Acetaminophen (Tylenol) in 350 mg tablets, Ibuprofen (Advil) in 200 mg tablets, Mucinex, Robitussin or DayQuil/NyQuil, whatever your cough medicine of choice is.

If you don’t have a humidifier, that would also be a good thing to get. (You can also just turn the shower on hot and sit in the bathroom breathing in the steam). Also a good time to make a big batch of your favorite soup to freeze and have on hand.

If you have a history of asthma and you have a prescription inhaler, make sure the one you have isn’t expired and refill it/get a new one if it is.

You basically just want to prepare as though you know you’re going to get a nasty respiratory bug like bronchitis or pneumonia. You just have the foresight to know it’s coming.

For symptom management, use the meds I mentioned. For a fever over 101, alternate Tylenol and Advil so you’re taking a dose of one or the other every 3 hours. Use both cough suppressants and expectorants (most cough meds have both). Drink a ton, hydrate hydrate. Rest lots.

You should not be leaving your house except to go to the doctor, and if you do, wear a mask (regular is fine, you don’t need an N95). You do not need to go to the ER unless you are having trouble breathing or your fever is very high and unmanaged with meds.

90% of healthy adult cases thus far have been managed at home with basic rest/hydration/over-the-counter meds. We don’t want to clog the ERs unless you’re actually in distress. The hospital beds will be used for people who actively need oxygen/breathing treatments/IV fluids.

If you have a pre-existing lung condition (COPD, emphysema, lung cancer) or are on immunosuppressants, now is a great time to talk to your PCP or specialist about what they would like you to do if you get sick. They might have plans to get you admitted and bypass the ER entirely.

One major relief to you parents is that kids do very well with coronavirus — they usually bounce back in a few days, no one under 18 has died, and almost no kids have required hospitalization (unless they have a lung disease like CF). Just use pediatric dosing of the same meds.

I’m always around via DM if you have questions, and if I don’t have the answer I’ll just tell you to call your doctor. 😉 But feel free to contact me any time. 😘

New decade thoughts

We’re just two weeks into a new year and a new decade. I’m not about to regale you with all my new year resolutions, because I have none. The change of a number on the calendar doesn’t make me any more likely to make successful changes in my life. In fact, I hold the very thought in disfavour because if you see the need for a change, you should make the change rather than wait for the end of the year to do it. Why wait?

What has me thinking is not the change of the last digit of the year, but the second last. The 2010s have given way to the 2020s. What’s coming?

I’ve been thinking a lot about climate change. I was going to tell you what I think will happen if we continue along the road of lip service to the changes we need to make, and also what will happen if we get down to business and make the changes we really need to make. But frankly, there’s no need to lay out two scenarios because we’re not going to get down to business. Individuals feel inertia in their habits, and the more people you consider, the larger the inertia gets. This is before even considering that our current way of doing things is very profitable to many people. As a result, they’re actively putting the brake on changes. As a result, change is slow.

With our foot-dragging, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing. I’m not sure, but the rate of increase may be increasing as well. The weather is growing more severe, climate is changing, seas are rising. The pleasant inter-ice-age climate in which we developed civilization will soon be over. There will be fewer comfortable places to live and less arable land. Less arable land means less food. Wars will break out over food and water, squandering the precious resources remaining.

A century from now, things will be very different than today. I just can’t decide how different. Either civilization will regress, leaving behind the highest technology we enjoy today, or civilization will completely collapse. Either way, population will drop significantly. I’d suggest the worldwide population will drop by half, with large cities being the most affected. Whether this is a best-case, or a mid-way between the extremes, I can’t decide.

By 2250, I would be absolutely stunned if the world population is significantly greater than 20% of what it is today. And it won’t get better from there. Unless we discover an easy and energy-efficient way to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in a deep-time durable form, there won’t be any coming back from this new normal any time soon … and ‘soon’ is geologically speaking. It’ll take millions of years for natural processes to bring the carbon dioxide levels down. The question is whether we can develop the technology to do it ourselves before we lose the technical and manufacturing means to put it into action in a meaningful way.

I would suggest that biggest impediment to taking action today is the average adult’s inertia. Things seem okay so people go about their business. Although most people are in favour of reducing their nation’s carbon footprint, they are not so enthusiastic when confronted with the bill. I really think a few things have to happen before people change. In no particular order, everyone over 40 has to age and die. People currently younger than 40 have far more skin in the game and were therefore more willing to make a greater sacrifice. Also things have to get worse. To my amazement, there are still deniers out there. All but the most hard-core will come around when things get much worse and there’s no denying the truth. At that time, the tide will carry those hard-core, regardless.

It’s our habits and what we consider problematic. No one I know would think of not recycling. At the same time however, most people I know don’t consider the carbon dioxide created by a trip via aircraft. This has to change and it won’t while the older among us are still around. I do wonder how much it will change as you young age, however. When I was very young, the first energy crisis struck. We all learned to turn lights off when we weren’t in the room. A small thing, to be sure, but the young don’t worry about even this any more. And by young, I mean anyone under 30.

I’m thinking things will have to get much worse, far past the point of no return (if we’re not there already) for people to change their habits.

So severe climate change is coming. In my mind, there’s only one question. Will it damage civilization and set technology back a few centuries? Or it destroy civilization and set technology back a millennia or two? Either way, a lot of people are going to die and everything is going to be a hell of a mess for a very long time to come.

Looking back…

What is the worst slang that became universally accepted in the 2010s?
"adulting" by a fucking mile

Hear Hear!

So tired…

I’m in the home stretch. This week is my last week of classes for the term. When I leave Friday, I won’t be back until January 7, when I start the second term.

When I left school today, I came home, ate, and promptly slept for an hour. I wouldn’t say the day was hugely demanding, but still I slept. Yesterday I slept for two hours. The only explanation I have is that I sometimes push against going to sleep but I haven’t been entirely unreasonable about that. Reassuringly enough, some of my classmates and even a few in their second year brought up how they’re feeling the same way, entirely without prompting from me. None of us seem to have any explanation for it.

20191203-103745 iPhone8 IMG_2451.jpg: iPhone8, back camera @ 3.99mm, 1/2700, f/1.8, 25 ISO
The Willowbank upper campus was a picture-perfect winter wonderland today.

Perhaps learning and physical activity is just demanding. At least I hope that’s it because I have no other explanation!

As much as I want a shorter Christmas break, I will certainly take the time to rest and make sure I’m ready to attack the second term next month.

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