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Pathogen Resistance

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We're not trapped in here with the coronavirus. The coronavirus is trapped in here with us.
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sandge
16 hours ago
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Atlanta, GA, USA
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fxer
1 day ago
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Alt-text watchmen ref. I could watch Jackie Earle Haley dump fryer oil on dudes all day. Though, how did all that oil stay in the fryer basket to douse the guy...
Bend, Oregon
acdha
1 day ago
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Also Netflix
Washington, DC

We Need Puppies Right Now (20 photos)

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At a time when so much of the world’s attention is focused on stories that can create anxiety, it might be helpful to take a breather, and maybe enjoy a few photos of adorable pups on National Puppy Day. The date, March 23, was first set aside in 2006 by the author Colleen Paige, and adopted by other groups and organizations since. The idea is to focus attention on puppies in need of adoption and the abuses found in puppy mills, but also to celebrate these furry little companions. In the spirit of the day, I am once more obligated to share some images of pups around the world.

A young Samoyed enjoys a day at the beach along the Baltic sea. ( Zanna Pesnina / Shutterstock)
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sandge
8 days ago
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Atlanta, GA, USA
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Ask a Canadian if “Threatening to Move to Canada” is Right For You

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Every time there is a major social or political change in the United States, the Internet floods with panicked Americans announcing that they are going to move to Canada. Many of these people know nothing about Canada, except that it is a colder, friendlier America where the bad thing they are upset about is not currently happening. My American friends talk to me about how they’ve looked into Canadian immigration “just in case”, as if citizenship in a sovereign country is something you pick up for your emergency kit while you’re out buying bottled water and extra D-cell batteries.

Canadian Passport

I like to use mine to keep the canned goods from getting dented.

What Americans may not know is that it’s actually extraordinarily difficult to immigrate to Canada unless you are a skilled professional under the age of 40 with a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree, several years of work experience in an in-demand field, impeccable English or French, and an existing job offer in the country; you’re not going to get very far just showing up at the border with a U-haul and a fistful of green paper money.

Washing Machine

The world’s most powerful currency, susceptible only to sub-prime mortgage lending and washing machines.

So if you’re an American, and you’re currently treating an independent nation of 35 million people as your own personal backyard doomsday shelter, take a moment to consider whether Canada is really the correct backup plan for you. When the next round of bad news hits and you crash the Canadian immigration website in a frenzied panic, ask yourself some tough questions.

These questions, to be precise.

Are you comfortable around large, unpredictable land mammals?

On a warm summer night in high school, my best friend and I were driving home from the movies when we noticed a dirty stray dog huddled by the side of the road. Like most teenage girls raised in the suburbs, our compassion for animals exceeded any common sense or self-preservation instinct that we might have had, and we immediately decided that we would pull over and take the poor thing home.

Mangy Things

“Compassion for sad, mangy things overriding my common sense” has been the theme of both my pet adoptions and my dating life.

My friend was driving, and as she slowed the car, I opened the passenger side door and tried to lure the dog over with a snack I found in the glove compartment. I wasn’t confident that a half-squished fruit leather was actually tempting enough to convince a frightened, homeless dog to get into the car, but to my delight, the dog sniffed the air and started trotting quickly towards us. It had almost made its way to the car when I realized it wasn’t a dog at all.

That's no Dog

We approximately three seconds from having a very large coyote climb into the vehicle with us when I screamed at my friend to drive, and we burned rubber through our residential neighborhood until we were absolutely certain that we had outrun even the hungriest coyote’s desire for warm fruit and the flesh of naive teenage girl. We later learned that there’s a good chance that the creature was actually not a coyote, but a “coywolf” – the destruction of wolf habitats has forced them to become sexually tense roommates with coyotes, leading to offspring that have the physical strength of a wolf, with the fearlessness of a coyote.

Coywolf

Keep your kids indoors.

This wasn’t to be my last close encounter with a coyote/wolf/unholy coyote-wolf hybrid conceived when the lights were low and God’s back was turned. On a warm summer evening, my mother and I were out walking Baloo, a creature that we have been told is a dog, but who might in fact be a small black bear with congenital deformities.

Riding Baloo

Baloo was walking slightly ahead of us on a long leash, and as she turned the corner, she began wagging her tail as if she was very pleased to see someone. This immediately filled us with a deep sense of dread, because Baloo is usually immensely suspicious of anything and anyone that does not smell like a faint whiff of her own butt; under ordinary circumstances, other dogs, cats, shadows that faintly resemble dogs or cats, unfamiliar parked cars, familiar parked cars, wind, lawn ornaments, children, children holding lawn ornaments, precipitation, fog and the concept of time were all enough to send her barreling down the street towards the perceived threat like a 130lb ball of misfiring dog neurons and nonsensical dog rage.

Walking Baloo

When I noticed Baloo had spotted something and had not responded by ripping my arm clean out of its socket, I assumed that she’d found some sort of garbage that she wanted to mash into her fur like a toddler discovering their first lump of soft under-table gum. I rushed around the corner to stop her, and came face to face with the largest coyote and/or wolf that I’ve ever encountered in my entire life.

Big Coyote

Any wild canine that makes a habit of hunting alone in the suburbs in broad daylight is not a creature you want to mess with, as it is absolutely willing to have your tasty face flesh as an appetizer if you get between it and its intended entree of kitchen garbage and outdoor cat. Baloo, however, did not give a single flying fuck about any of this, and she dragged me closer to the creature as she excitedly dashed around it like an eighth-grader trying to brush up against their crush the first time a Pussycat Dolls song comes on at the middle school dance.

Sugar We're Going Down

If music that came out after 2006 exists, I don’t want to hear it.

For the first – and perhaps the only – time in my life, I discovered the sort of hysterical strength that lets mothers lift cars off their children, as I dragged 130lbs of fur, drool and poor self-preservation away from her enormous coyote friend. This is the only reason that I am currently a struggling writer in New York City, and not a faded roadside memorial taped to a lamppost above a stained patch of sidewalk in my hometown.

Lamppost Memorial

Close encounters with large land mammals are just a regular part of Canadian life, whether you live in a sprawling country estate or the downtown core of a major city. While urban Americans can be so unfamiliar with wildlife that they occasionally mistake raccoons for Bengal tigers, city-dwelling Canadians have gotten accustomed to deer ransacking convenience stores, bears wandering into barbershops, and moose defying the laws of gravity to do their best Santa Claus impression. In my hometown, residents are strongly encouraged to keep their cats indoors – not because they might harm the local bird population, but because there’s a non-zero chance your cat will end up as food for a literal wolverine if you let it outside. I have experienced one genuine lockdown during my entire school career, not because of an active shooter, but because there was an elk on the front lawn that was refusing to leave.

Teacher

Teacher 3

Teacher 1

Teacher 4

So if your heart is truly dead-set on Canada, make sure to stock up on a few basic supplies – like sturdy fencing, animal-proof garbage cans, and an urn where your family can store your remains if you get murdered by a flying bear.

Are you absolutely certain that you understand how cold Canada can be?

I know that “Canada is cold” is not exactly fresh comedy material. As far as jokes go, it’s the Canadian equivalent of pointing out that sometimes people don’t get along with their spouses and wanting to know just what the deal is with airline food.

Shortbread Cookies

A joke that people of my generation will not understand, because we’ve never been served anything but lukewarm Coke and stale shortbread on an airline.

Contrary to popular belief, the entire nation of Canada is not a year-round frozen wasteland. If that was the case, my ancestors would have mailed themselves back to France a long time ago, clutching our historically-inaccurate-but-culturally-recognizable berets in hand. Although it’s true that there are definitely parts of the country where knowing how to cut open a polar bear and crawl inside it like it’s Luke Skywalker’s tauntaun is a necessary survival skill, Americans fleeing from one border city to another might notice a minimal change in temperatures.

Celcius

Except that you’ll have to tell the temperature in real-people units based on science, instead of imaginary America units based on Poseidon’s salty bathwater.

Moving from Seattle to Vancouver, for instance, is minimally traumatic – you won’t even have time to dry your clothes and finish complaining about the price of coffee before you’re back out in another constant downpour, complaining about the price of rent. Likewise, if you’re a New Yorker who wants to keep living in a temperate, multicultural city with four distinct seasons while occasionally experiencing the desperate wrath of a dying planet, you can move to Montreal without even leaving the path of Hurricane Sandy. And if you live in Detroit and you want to move to a city that is equally terrible but more Canadian, you’ll actually be heading further south as you make your way to Windsor, Ontario.

Map

That noise you hear is a thousand Americans who are unfamiliar with the greater Detroit area opening a new tab to check Google maps.

But although residents of Niagara Falls, New York are unlikely to suffer by moving to the more scenic side of the water, there are some moves that should not be attempted under anything but the most desperate of circumstances. If you are a resident of Florida, for instance, you have no business moving to Northern Canada unless it has somehow always been your dream to freeze to death in the middle of a Superstore parking lot.

Superstore Parking Lot

Freezing to death while trying to shove a loonie into a shopping cart is Canada’s fourth leading cause of death.

I grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, a city of nearly one million people that sometimes earns the dubious honor of being the coldest place on earth. As an Edmontonian, I was in my twenties before I realized that most 8-year-olds don’t have to order adult XXL Halloween costumes to fit over their snowsuits, and when I finally moved somewhere with a reasonable climate, the winter coats I brought with me made my roommates think I was planning a full-scale one-woman invasion of Antarctica. There are only three types of people who should live in Edmonton: people who were born there, people who are under an ancient curse that will permanently turn them into a woodpecker if they set foot outside the Anthony Henday ring road, and people who like to spend their afternoons gazing at freezerburned chicken breasts at the bottom of their chest freezer as they experience a deep sense of envy.

Live in Edmonton

Live in Edmonton 1

Live in Edmonton 2

Temperatures in the city can drop below -40 degrees – a temperature that is the same in Celsius as it is in America’s Made-Up Freedom Units – in the wintertime, making activities like blinking, breathing and loosening your scarf even slightly so you can see well enough to avoid walking face-first into a lamppost a miserable and potentially deadly exercise. Newcomers to Edmonton will find themselves grateful for Canada’s single-payer healthcare system, as they seek medical attention for frostbite after spending less than five minutes outdoors.

Frostbite

So if your heart is still dead-set on Canada’s frozen north, middle, or the colder bits of the sides, try to accept the fact that your “all-seasons” winter coat is now a “first two weeks of May” coat, and try not to be too attached to the idea of having 10 toes.

Are you prepared to live among people so polite that it makes you uncomfortable and potentially afraid for your life?

In my third year of university, my best friend and I decided to spend Reading Week exploring Halifax, Nova Scotia. “Reading Week” is what we call Spring Break in Canada, because we don’t actually experience spring; our only seasons are ‘winter’, and ‘that brief period between July and August when we can get away with using all-seasons tires’.

GOodyear Logo

Forget the story of Hades and Persephone; this is the only Greek god that controls our seasons.

The two of us were staying at a haunted Inn at the southern tip of the city, because the only thing white women enjoy more than year-round indoor Christmas lights and owning a tiny indoor cactus is being in close proximity with the tormented souls of the damned. Since we’d already guaranteed ourselves a week full of strange dreams and inexplicable cold spots, we decided to just go ahead and maximize the spookiness of our trip by visiting Halifax’s Fairview Lawn Cemetery, final resting place of the victims of both the Halifax Explosion and the RMS Titanic disaster.

Neighbourhood

Good urban planning means putting all of your city’s most anguished dead into one impossible-to-gentrify neighborhood.

It was freezing the morning that we set out for the cemetery, and lacking both the desire and the affordable data plan necessary to locate a bus route, we decided to split a cab on our way there and walk back afterwards. Halifax is not exactly a popular tourist destination in the wintertime, and when our cab driver arrived, it took considerable effort for us to convince him that yes, two young girls from out of town wanted to be dropped off at a dilapidated cemetery in a rough neighborhood in mid-February all by themselves, and yes, we were absolutely certain that we knew what we were getting into.

Deep Snow

We may have overstated our case. 

The driver reluctantly dropped us off at the gates, and we spent three hours tromping around an enormous and incredibly weird graveyard where most of the headstones have the same date. The day kept getting progressively colder, despite that morning’s weather forecast, and it eventually became clear that we needed to either head back to the hotel to warm up or start looking for empty plots to lie down in when the hypothermia took us.

We chose the hotel.

Jack's Grave

Also, this is an awesome thing to do if you want to see shadowy figures in the backgrounds of mirrors for the rest of your life.

We exited the graveyard from a different entrance than the one we’d come in, drunk with confidence in our ability to successfully navigate a city where the Atlantic ocean is almost always visible on one side, and also with the cognitive effects of the early stages of death by exposure. We didn’t notice that we’d gotten completely turned around and wandered into a rough part of town until we suddenly noticed we were being stared at by a lot of men who bore an uncomfortable resemblance to Popeye the Sailor Man.

Popeye

The key to avoiding copyright infringement is to be terrible at drawing.

We stumbled into the sort of seedy gas station that takes a weird amount of pride in the variety of fireworks it has available for sale, and told the woman behind the counter the name of the hotel we were trying to get to. Fortunately, she was able to give us detailed directions to make the hour-long trek back to the hotel. Unfortunately, she also told us in no uncertain terms that we looked, sounded and actually smelled like a couple of sheltered, middle-class suburbanites vacationing their own for the first time with mommy and daddy’s expensive camera, and that she’d be equal parts impressed and disappointed if we made it out of the neighborhood on foot without being relieved of all our possessions at knifepoint. I was unphased.

Disaster 1

Disaster 2

Disaster 3

Listening has never been my strong suit.

We were less than a block from the gas station, however, when a taxi driver pulled over to the side of the road in front of us, and gestured for us to get into the car. We started to refuse, explaining that we were broke college students financially living on the cusp of having to burn garbage in an oil drum to survive the winter, when we noticed that the driver was the same one who’d driven us to the cemetery in the first place. He cut us off right as we were explaining that we were one paycheck away from having to eat bread weevils like old-timey pirates, and told us that he would be happy to drive us back to our hotel for free, as he was going that way anyway. We tried to point out that charging people money to drive them places is 100% of his job description and also presumably the only thing keeping him from having to fight local squirrels for sustenance, but he insisted on safely transporting us to our hotel for free.

Free Servies

There are usually only two circumstances where someone offers professional services for free, and neither of them is good.

One person giving us a free ride on a cold day is just a random act of kindness, but that complimentary taxi ride was one of three that we received that trip. A random woman who spotted us hauling our suitcases to the Greyhound station at the start of our trip pulled over to insist that we get in her minivan, and a classmate of mine whom I’d added on Facebook during Freshman orientation and never spoken to again commented on a post I’d made about our trip to tell me that he’d be driving us back to the dorms from the bus station when we returned. Uber and Lyft have been struggling to get off the ground in Canada for years, presumably because the primary method of transportation in Canada is just ‘waiting for a complete stranger to kindly but firmly insist that driving you 45 minutes of her way is really no trouble at all’.

Astronaut Ride

And weird Canadian politeness doesn’t stop at free rides. While living in New Brunswick, my friends and spent most evenings engaging in the beloved Canadian pastime of “Goin’ Fer a Rip“. This is a phenomenon where a group of bored rural Canadians pile into the largest vehicle available to them and drive aimlessly around the backroads at high speeds, because getting into a head-on collision with a moose is the most interesting activity available within a 100-kilometer radius after every business in their hometown closes at 5pm.

King Foot

That 62.1371 miles, for those of you still measuring distances with the foot of a dead king.

We went out fer a rip one fateful night when there was nearly three feet of snow on the ground, because dying in a Toyota RAV4 is still preferable to studying for an organic chemistry midterm, and as you’ve probably already predicted, we got stuck in a deep snowdrift on a country road. We were approximately at the midway point between “nothing” and “nowhere”, in an unincorporated municipality that probably won’t get cell phone service for another two hundred years, and it was two o’clock in the morning. We had no way to call for help, and since we were college kids in the year 2012, we were more than a little afraid of the possibility that Slenderman would murder us if we set foot in the woods.

Slenderman

Although as it turns out, the only thing Slenderman is interested in slaying is the runway.

We approached the nearest house and knocked on the door, already prepared to offer them heartfelt apologies and money in exchange for using their phone. Ten minutes later, we were warming up in the kitchen with a hot mug of instant cocoa while the rest of the family cheerfully shoveled the car out of the snow, insisting that we stay inside and let them take care of it. When the job was done, they sent us on our way with snacks and one of their shovels to keep, just in case the car ever got stuck again.

Generous Woman

Another instance of weird, excessive Canadian generosity occurred when I was ten years old. My family went to visit my grandmother, who was still living in my father’s childhood home; it was the first time my dad had been back to his hometown in twenty years, and the moment he arrived, he went out to the garage to start working on the 1969 Thunderbird that he had illegally purchased and driven without his parents’ knowledge at the age of fourteen and stored in their garage ever since.

Cool Generations

Apparently coolness skips a generation.

My dad was working on the car out on his mom’s driveway one morning when a man that he had been briefly acquainted with in the eleventh grade walked by.

“Hey bud, how’s it going?” said the man that my dad had neither seen nor spoken to since the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. “Nice car.”

“Thanks,” said my dad.

“Does it work?”

“Nope,” said my dad. “It needs new parts.”

“Oh, you can go take whatever you want out of my truck,” replied the man that my father had never had any significant relationship with, even when they were sixteen years old and in the same high school English class.

High School English

My father remembered where his old classmate lived – because he grew up in a small New Brunswick town of approximately four people who never leave their family homes – and began to remove the necessary parts from the aforementioned truck. As he was working, a young man came out of the house and asked him just what he thought he was doing to his father’s vehicle.

“Oh, your dad said that I could take this stuff,” my dad replied, acutely aware that he sounded like the world’s third or fourth least-imaginative car thief.

“Oh, sorry!” said the young man who had never seen or heard any mention of my father in his entire life. “Let me grab my tools and I’ll help you.”

Canadian Mugging

For Americans, kindness means calling someone “sweetheart” and offering them an encouraging word if you see them looking down. For Canadians, kindness means finding out that your coworker’s landlord’s sister is sick, and then driving two towns over to break into her house to make her some soup and also offer her part of your liver. Canadians are not just kind to you, they are kind at you, whether you feel comfortable accepting their generosity or not, and your first few months in Canada are going to feel like the first few months in the sort of eerily friendly cult that eventually expects you to line up for Kool-aid and stab Shannon Tate.

Are you absolutely certain that you want to live in a country where a block of cheese costs $18?

Fifty years ago, a group of dairy farmers approached the Canadian federal government, and said “Hey, wouldn’t it be amazing if cow juice cost roughly the same amount as crude oil for no discernible reason and it was illegal to buy it from anyone but us?”. In response, the federal government said “Golly gee, you sacred guardians of bovine and procurers of cow juice, that would be just the best.” And so for five consecutive decades, buying anything that came from a cow’s udder has required half your last paycheck, a refinanced mortgage, and the promise of your most attractive blood relative’s hand in marriage.

Cheese Marriage

I now pronounce you SaveOn Foods Manager and my most symmetrical brother. I may now eat this brie.

Unlike the American government, which maintains 150 warehouses filled with cheese to give away to low-income families, the Canadian government has essentially done everything in its power to make sure that acquiring cheese involves offering a prayer to the Gods of financial stability and crafting a written apology to your descendants for depriving them of an inheritance. The situation is so dire that the government actually runs advertisements for cheese, to try to ensure that people keep eating it regardless of the cost. Not any particular type or brand of cheese, mind you. Just the concept of cheese.

Mousetrap

This includes ads that suggest Canadians are so hard-up for cheese that they will literally eat it out of a mousetrap.

The inflation in cheese prices doesn’t just affect the sorts of people who throw wine and cheese parties and insist that charcuterie boards count as an actual meal – restaurants are also impacted by cheese prices, which is why even the blandest, most mediocre pizza in Canada will cost you upwards of $30. As a child, I assumed characters wantonly ordering pizza on TV were supposed to be super rich, because my comfortably middle-class family ordered pizza roughly as often as the Vatican orders a new Pope. Even after living in the United States for three years, I still feel uneasy in cheap New York slice joints, because if you’re paying $2 for a pizza slice in my home country it either means that someone is going to prison for import tax evasion, or the cheese you just ate wasn’t really cheese at all.

Eating Cheese

Pictured: me, throughout my entire first year in the United States.

In fact, before I moved to this country for graduate school, cheese was the only reason I’d ever entered the United States. I have one English parent and one French parent, and their collective need for cheese could not be constrained by international borders. Every summer, we would make the 12-hour drive from Edmonton, Alberta to the Montana side of Yellowstone National Park, where we would briefly pause to admire the scenery before hitting up the nearest Costco and playing a game of Cheese Tetris with the family Honda Odyssey. And we weren’t the only family making annual pilgrimages to the Promised Land of cheap cheese – customs officers report that purchasing dairy products is one of the main reasons that Canadians cross the border.

Yellowstone Lake

Second only to ‘pushing people into that lake in Yellowstone that dissolves people‘.

In fact, up until a few years ago, a loophole in the law allowed Canadians to import cheese over the border for commercial purposes tax-free, so long as the cheese was part of a pre-assembled dinner kit. This caused thousands of restaurant owners to rock up to border crossings with entire U-Hauls filled with pizza kits that they would then throw in the garbage, saving only that sweet, sweet dimebag of cheese.

Border 1

Border 2

Border 3

So if you’re the type of person that likes to come home and unwind after a long day with an entire wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano, despite your cardiologist’s pleas for you to stop, you might need to think long and hard about whether Canada is really the place for you. You’ve long been told that our milk comes in bags, but no one ever warns Americans that it costs twice as much as it does in the US, regardless of how it’s packaged.

Canadian

I love my home country, and no matter how long I’m away from it, I will always be proud to call myself a winter-Olympics-watching, sort-of-French-speaking and first-past-the-post-voting Canadian. But this country is not everyone’s cup of Tim Hortons specialty tea, and before you respond to the next American political crisis by furiously Googling apartments in Hamilton, Ontario, it’s important to take a moment to decide if life above the 49th parallel is really right for you.

 

For more information on Canada-US culture shock, check out my comprehensive guide to convincing New Yorkers that you aren’t a Canadian bumpkin lost in the wilds of Manhattan.

If you want to see more of my work or learn enough personal information about me to steal my identity and escape over the border with a forged passport, check out my Twitter, my Instagram, my blog’s Facebook page and my genuinely terrifying true crime podcast

The post Ask a Canadian if “Threatening to Move to Canada” is Right For You appeared first on All Wit, No Brevity.

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sandge
9 days ago
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Atlanta, GA, USA
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COVID-19 Treatment Should Be Free

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I’ve seen every episode of Law and Order and most of the SVU ones. And while a TV show doesn’t make one a legal expert, I do remember that two things the characters always got excited over were “precedent” and “making new law.”

I don’t exactly know how the U.S. legal system works, because “I’ve been watching Law & Order since it was on A&E back when that channel wasn’t all about duck storage hoarders” isn’t the same thing as a law degree. But I’m going to surmise that someone could push for a “new law” that would ensure that no one has to pay a fucking dime to be treated for COVID-19. And perhaps that could “set a precedent” that could lead to sweeping improvements to the American healthcare system at a later date.

And who knows? Maybe Bernie Sanders, with some help from Joe Biden, could be the ones to push for it.

This is a dispatch from a Canadian living in Canada. Someone who has no financial concerns over any healthcare costs beyond the hospital parking fees. I could end up on a respirator for weeks and wouldn’t need to worry about dealing with insurance companies, deductibles, copays, or even if I was covered. Just parking for those coming to visit. I mean, if they’re allowed to visit. This is a Mad Max times we’re living in. If you can, stay the fuck home.

Anyway, this is an international crisis, and you, America, are my friend. Friends stick by each other. I love you. You’re like a big brother who maybe drinks a little too much. You’ve been good to me.

I have traveled the United States. I have been from shore to shore. I have adored your movies and your music since I was a mere lad. I have so many American friends who I cherish as much as the ones I went to school with.

You are some of the best people I know. I care about you. I want you to have what I have.

But, if being something of an analyst of the way you operate offers any insight, I simply do not believe that you can flip a switch and make socialized medicine happen. There is too much money fighting back.

But you can make new law. You can set a precedent.

Bernie is out of the race. As of writing, it’s March 19th and he’s still technically in it, but there is no hope he’ll be the nominee.

He can still make a difference. He can still leave a lasting legacy.

I’m a Canadian who is perhaps a little too fond of the biggest shitshow of a reality TV concept on the planet known as American politics. Although I’m not sure “fond” is the correct word. “Horrified” might be more appropriate.

Anyway, Curmudgeon Jesus is done for. I’ve never been that enamored of him. And regardless of the popular moniker you wish to provide them, there is a contingent of Bernie fans who seem to believe that because I don’t like Bernie (largely due to his lack of efficacy as a legislator), that must mean I don’t want Americans to have socialized medicine.

“You want poor people to die!”

Heard that one plenty of times.

But I DO want you to have it. If I could wave a wand and make socialized medicine happen for you, I would. However, I realize that America doesn’t work that way. There is too much money at stake. Plus a bunch of other “sOciAliSm bAd!” stuff that I won’t get into.

Anyway. Yeah. You have a festering sack of fox feces for a president. A Nazi-praising, economy-destroying, pussy-grabbing, unintelligibly-rambling, conceit-on-cocaine-jizz-puddle of a reality TV reject is running the show down there. You have our sympathies.

This is not a drill. This is an international crisis. A guy with the temperament of a nap-deprived toddler on a Caillou binge is in charge and he’s cocking it up even worse than anyone could have imagined. It’s like, we were sitting back and wondering how bad it could get, and he took it as a challenge and the one thing he’s managed to excel at in his entire miserable diaper stain of an existence is amazing people with how horrifically incompetent he is capable of being.

This timeline sucks.

It sucks, but it can improve.

This is a crisis, but also a potential tipping point. Despite the money invested in the prison-industrial complex, nonviolent prisoners are being released to help prevent the spread of this disease. This is a time in history like no other.

Bernie and Biden can band together and bring—holy fuck that’s a lot of alliteration—forward an election promise to make treatment for COVID-19 free.

Because right now, if the disease doesn’t kill people, the financial burden of medical treatment might.

“Sorry your grandma died. We did the best we could. And the best we could is expensive. Here’s a ridiculous fucking bill.”

Or: “Hooray you lived now fucking pay me.”

A lot of people are going to catch it. Most of them will be fine with no medical intervention. Plenty will die. And a lot will get sick enough to require expert medical care, and in the U.S., that fucking costs.

This is the time to try something different. This is the time for strong leaders to step forward and say “Wait just a fucking second. We need to do something about this.”

Bernie needs to get past his “my way or the highway” shit and see this as a big step forward. Biden needs to not be such a fucking Biden and see the political expediency of showing the regular folks a little compassion because votes and shit.

Speaking of compassion, don’t worry about what socialized medicine might do to the rich people. The rich people are gonna be just fine. They can buy a respirator and team to operate the fucking thing. Worry about the other 99% for a change.

So. Yeah. COVID-19 treatment needs to be free in the U.S. Well, not “free,” because there is no such thing. But government needs to figure out a way so that those who get sick and have no coverage don’t have to pay.

“Dad spent two weeks on a respirator and now there is a bill for $200,00? We got you. That bill is gonna be history. Vote blue.”

That is a message people can get behind.

Everyone is going to know someone who catches this. Everyone is going to know someone who will face medical expenses because of this.

Make new law. Set a precedent. Use this crisis as a step toward universal medical coverage for all Americans.

And fuck Donald Trump.

 

My new book THE HOLY SH!T MOMENT, is now available. GET IT HERE!

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James S. Fell, MA, MBA, has bylines in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, the Guardian, TIME Magazine, and many other publications. His blog has millions of readers and he is the author of two books: The Holy Sh!t Moment: How Lasting Change Can Happen in an Instant (St. Martin’s Press, 2019), and Lose it Right: A Brutally Honest 3-Stage Program to Help You Get Fit and Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind (Random House Canada, 2014). Order them here.

 

 

 

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sandge
12 days ago
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“Hooray you lived now fucking pay me.” As a cancer patient, I feel this to my bones. It's time for single payer. Healthcare should not be for profit.
Atlanta, GA, USA
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It’s Okay That You’re Not Okay

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These are extraordinary times. And I don’t say that as a compliment, necessarily — it is not said with Spielbergian awe, but rather, with a kind of bamfoozled dread. As if you came upon a strange hole in the ground full of old-timey baby-dolls. You know, the creepy, haunted ones? You’d say, “That’s extraordinary,” and you wouldn’t mean it in the good way.

You might also say, “That’s fucked up.”

What I’m trying to say is:

These are fucked up times.

Shit’s fucked up. It just is. As I noted yesterday, it’s as if we’re witnessing the ghost of normalcy rather than normalcy itself — it died so fast, it hasn’t yet left this plane of existence, and so it lingers, refusing to be banished until an exorcism finally sends it packing. These are abnormal, bizarre, confounding, dipshitted, batshitted, extraordinarily fucked-up times.

You don’t have to be okay with that.

You probably shouldn’t be okay with that.

More to the point, you also don’t need to do it all. You don’t need to get it all done. You don’t need to clean your house from top to bottom. You don’t need to homeschool your kids into super-geniuses. You don’t need to write King Fucking Lear or discover a new scientific principle. You don’t need to be happy. We’re all in mourning from the death of normalcy. We’re all knocked off balance, like someone just kicked your bike as you were riding it. You ended up in the ditch. We’re all in the ditch with you. It’s okay to just sit here in the ditch for a while and say, “Fuck.” It’s okay to wait before you stretch, before you stand up with a groan and see what’s broken. It’s okay to sit on your couch and gorge on bad TV. It’s okay to read a shitty book. It’s okay to not finish the shitty book. It’s okay to let your kids be kids and just tell them they’re on spring break right now. You don’t need to be an A+ parent, and they don’t need to be A+ kids, and you don’t need to be an A+ spouse. Christ, you don’t even need to be an A+ human. Aim for B, maybe B-, C+, just hold it the fuck together.

Forgive it in yourself and forgive it in those around you, too.

That’s not to say this is the time to let all the rope slip through your fingers. Your kids need food. You need food too, and water. Everybody needs things and this is a crisis — though a weird-feeling slo-mo crisis, as if we’re watching two whales collide underwater, with us between them — but you don’t need to be a hero. You don’t even need to be normal.

You just need to be you, and go with it.

You’re allowed to feel all of what you feel.

Hell, I don’t know what to feel. I keep thinking, YEAH OKAY I’VE BEEN PREPARING FOR THIS MY WHOLE LIFE, TIME TO WRITE A BOOK, A WHOLE BOOK, HERE WE GO, HERE WE FUCKING GO, and then I just sit there and I’m like, hey that’s not happening yet? And I go to eat and it’s mostly just grazing. My kid’s like, “Can I play the Switch?” and I’m like, “Yeah, hell yeah, it’s Spring Break, go hog wild, dude.” I tell him to read a book after, and he does (Percy Jackson, the first book, if you must know), but I’m not running him through the wringer. No math flash cards or quizzes. Life is slower right now, and stranger, and I feel this mad pinball bounce of emotions: I go from panic to dread to a weird kind of giddy elation that has no comprehensible logic to it, and then I land on tired, and then I land on sad, and then I land on gratitude because if all else fails this has at least made me appreciate things more, and then I feel shitty for appreciating things more because this isn’t the time to appreciate anything, is it? Then I feel shitty for feeling shitty like, what is wrong with appreciation? What is wrong with finding joy? Guilt ensues. And a refutation of guilt. And a weird feeling of relief for the earth because I’ve seen photos of dolphins in Italy and I think back to the line I wrote in Wanderers (“Humankind was a disease. The earth was the body. Climate change was the fever. And in that fever, in that rising of global temperature, the earth was able to release new defenses.”) and then I just feel bad for writing that. AITA? Probably.

And so the drunken carousel of wildly-spinning emotions goes on, staffed by octopods, ridden by monkeys, narrated by a short-circuiting robot.

I’m not okay.

I’m not broken.

But I’m definitely, absolutely, unfuckwithably not okay.

And I’m going to let that be okay.

I hope you will, too.

These are weird days, friends. It’d be weird if you weren’t weird about that.

Carry on.

Here is a photo of a flower. Happy spring.

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sandge
12 days ago
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Atlanta, GA, USA
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The Ghost Of Normalcy Lingering Past Its Time

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Everything seems mostly normal.

And it’s that word, that one word — “mostly” — that’s getting me.

A day begins, a day ends. Cars go past. Some cyclists, too. I make breakfast, I write some things, I make dinner, the family tosses a baseball around the yard. And then while we’re out there playing baseball, a plane goes overhead, and I make a quick joke to my wife and son — “Now, those people really know how to win at social distancing.” Because, y’know, forget six feet. They’re up in the sky and we’re on the ground. Only people doing it better are the people on the ISS, right?

But that joke, it’s not a normal joke. It’s normal to make jokes, to be clear; in times of standard operating procedure and in times of tumult, we make jokes. Light-hearted jokes and gallows humor alike. It wasn’t the joking — it was the joke.

That wasn’t a joke I could’ve made two weeks ago.

Shit, maybe even a week ago.

I wouldn’t have understood it. It wasn’t a thing. And now, it’s a thing.

A week ago, we went out to breakfast with a couple friends, and even though things were starting to get a little weird (my son’s school closed for a day due to “The Rona,” or are we calling it “The Cove?”) we still felt, you know, fairly normal. The blips and glitches in everything felt expected and unexceptional in the sense we knew we lived in strange times, what with the unbridled fuckery of the Trump Era, and we’d grown accustomed to those little bumpy hitches and pulled stitches. But now, looking back, that breakfast feels somehow indulgent. Like we didn’t appreciate it enough. And we don’t know when, or even how, a breakfast like that will happen again.

That’s what gets me, most. It’s that we’re living presently beneath a veneer, a shiny shellacking, of normal. Are things broken? No, not yet. Will they break? Probably somewhat, though to what extent, who can say? But right now we’re still in this interstitial space where things feel mostly normal, until something hits us that really, really doesn’t feel normal at all. A photo of emptied shelves, a cart full of toilet paper (stop hoarding toilet paper, by the way, you’re not going to poop more in the apocalypse, settle down), a picture of the stock market, a mumbly-mouthed presser with Trump, a new picture of the stock market as it plunges during his mumbly-mouthed nonsense, and then a Facetime call between kids because they can’t see each other, and then an e-mail from a local business about how they’re weathering the quarantine, then the quiet fear that the ground is shifting underneath your feet in a way that is as-yet-unperceived, a silent and unmoving earthquake, as much spiritual and emotional as anything else —

And then you look back outside. Cars and cyclists. Birds birbing. A plane overhead.

It feels normal, but that seems like an illusion. Like you can run your hand right through it — passing your fingers through a ghost. I suspect the illusion will continue. Until it doesn’t. How long will it be before something I did today feels rare, like a gift I didn’t appreciate enough at the time?

I think we’ll be fine, of course.

Not now. Maybe not soon. But eventually, eventually, we’ll be fine.

And eventually, we’ll find a new normal, whatever that will be.

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sandge
13 days ago
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Atlanta, GA, USA
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