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a blog by Ann Althouse

"So I woke up with something that’s literally Black Hairy Tongue. People, including my doctor, seem to think it’s no big deal, and will go away soon, but it certainly is gross."

That was Julie Powell's last tweet, quoted in "Julie Powell's Last Tweet Before Her Death at 49 Causes Confusion Among Fans/The popular author of Julie and Julia tweeted she had 'black hairy tongue' the day before she died" (Gizmodo).

The Mayo Clinic’s website describes black hairy tongue as a “buildup of dead skin cells” that accumulate on the tongue, explaining that while it can look alarming, “typically it doesn’t cause any health problems, and it’s usually painless.”

Photograph of the horrid condition at that Mayo Clinic link.

Going back further into Powell's tweets, you see that she had Covid in September:

“Decided to take a nap and woke up sick like a dog. This is how the covid hits, I guess. All of a sudden like,” Powell tweeted on September 10. A few days later she shared another tweet about how painful it was living with covid-19. “Weirdly, my Covid is getting worse. Terrible headache, cough, probable fever, fatigue,” Powell tweeted on September 13.

Lest readers speculate, Gizmodo tells us the speculation is "right-wing" and goes on to minimize the significance of some deceased person's last social media posting. After all, Chris Cornell's last tweet — "#Detroit finally back to Rock City!!!!" — gave no clue that he was about to commit suicide.

"A lawyer I just interviewed told me essentially that there was no reason to go into the office at his firm since no one was there, so if you go in, you are all alone."

"He works from home, as does almost everyone. It is just no fun, and there is really no law firm at all. Just a bunch of people logging in. That is why he is interviewing with me — because he wants a place to go where he has friends and human interaction.... At my firm, I am proud to say — and, indeed, the whole point of the firm — is that we are together. We are having fun with each other. We all have friends here. We are a team. We are in the office partly to do work, and partly so we can all add value to each other. Professional value, emotional value, inspirational value, value when we are down to get picked up, value to have the thrill of teaching and being taught, and every other kind of value. Yes, we have bad days of stress, but overall it is fun to be in our office with our friends.... If you are the employer — the partners — you need to make sure your office is one that people want to go to. Or they won’t go in, and as I said, it is game over, sooner or later."

From "Work From Home = Dead Law Firm/Working at home, to your bosses, can make you seem nothing more than a fungible billing unit" by Bruce M. Stachenfeld (Above the Law).

(I only clicked through to that article because of the picture, which was displayed in a much larger version at Facebook. It accounts for my use of the "men in shorts" tag.) 

ADDED: The linked article takes the extrovert's perspective and much of human life has been structured around the preferences and capabilities of the extrovert. The lockdown imposed the structuring that would have been chosen all along by the introverts — if only they'd been vocal and active enough to structure the lives of others the way they would structure it for themselves. Now, the extroverts want to deprive them of working conditions that served them well. The extroverts presume the are the normal we've got to get back to.

I can't watch the TV show "The Office" because office life makes me feel bad, but isn't the opinion expressed in that article pretty close to the attitude expressed by the boss on that show: "We are having fun with each other. We all have friends here. We are a team. We are in the office partly to do work, and partly so we can all add value to each other...."

When you are the guy who says things like that, you don't understand how it feels to those who don't say things like that.

Why did the NYT send a reporter to some obscure part of France to interview R. Crumb?

And why did this article published on September 15th only become apparent to me days later — when I'm always keeping an eye out for articles about R. Crumb? And why am I reading through paragraphs and paragraphs of the article — "R. Crumb Means Some Offense Even from his refuge in France, the comics artist still makes America’s pulse race" — without finding anything new or barely anything that I don't know from the 1995 documentary "Crumb"?

There's something odd here!

Here's the answer. It's way down at the end of the article. He's got a new comic, “The Crumb Family Covid Exposé” — that's reason to cover him — but it's not what people carrying the official message want us to read — even though they trekked to France find out about:
Crumb caught Covid-19 last fall but, well before that, he’d developed extreme conspiracy theories about the pandemic. He calls himself “resolutely anti-vax.” In conversation...

Maybe if we go to France and talk to him, he'll clarify himself back into the community of good-thinkers....

... he is fixated on his distrust of the medical community....

Oh, no!!! 

... though in his work, he doesn’t present this worldview as correct, or even necessarily valid.

Come on. Tease this out. He's a character in his comics, but that's not really him, right? He's making fun of that guy, the him that's not him, and he really must — in some important way worth going to France for — trust the experts who tell us to get vaccinated.

He seems to be dissecting a contrarian impulse in himself the same way he used to look at his twisted sexual fantasies.

Yeah. That's it! His distorted thoughts about the vaccine happened in a mind that generated intense and weird sexual fantasies!

His wife, a cancer survivor, is vaccinated and, at one point in the comic, believing the shot has made her arm magnetic, he tries to see if a spoon will stick to her. “Is this a crazy person?” he asks of himself, drawing himself very much like a crazy person.

So his doubts about the vaccine were portrayed — by the artist himself — as crazy. 

He’s still willing, in other words, to make himself ugly and unlikable in his work.

Ugly and unlikable? Do we hate anti-vaxxers? 

There’s a question that recurs in a lot of Crumb’s art, which I found myself wondering about as he dismissed the Covid vaccines to me as merely a way to enrich Big Pharma.

Wait a minute now. You're revealing the conversation that you went all the way to France to have but not telling us much about his ideas. You want to use him, but you don't want his actual opinions to break through. I would like to have a conversation with him about what he thinks about what the NYT did with the access he gave. 

It’s some variation of “What’s wrong with this guy?” In one comic, called “Anal Antics” (1971), the byline is “R. ‘What-Does-It-All-Mean?’ Crumb,” and the plot features Snoid living inside a woman’s posterior. In the first panel, there’s a subtitle: “More sick humor which serves no purpose.”

So questioning the vaccine is — you're supposed to see — on a level with living inside a woman's ass. Idle nonsense (except to the extent the drawings are detailed and fascinating). 

“I guess the question,” I say to him, “is ‘what is the purpose?’”

Nice of the Times — M.H. Miller— to offer the great artist an opportunity to step away from his heresy.

“That’s a question that I often imagine being asked of me by the tribunal that I’m in front of,” he says, “up there on their dais high above me. And I just have to stand there like this.” He shrugs exaggeratedly. 

God is my judge. 

"Masks can make it more challenging for some children to develop early speech and reading skills, which are learned, in part, by observing mouths in movement..."

"[P]arents often asked why their young children had to wear masks when local kindergarten students were allowed to be mask free. The contradictory government mandates have contributed to confusion and skepticism — not only about masking, but also about the efficacy of vaccines, she said, noting that only about 20 percent of her students have been vaccinated...."

What is the reason for treating these children differently from other children? Poverty? I note that there is no mention of race in the article.

"The Pandemic Erased Two Decades of Progress in Math and Reading."

"The results of a national test showed just how devastating the last two years have been for 9-year-old schoolchildren, especially the most vulnerable."

In math, Black students lost 13 points, compared with five points among white students, widening the gap between the two groups. Research has documented the profound effect school closures had on low-income students and on Black and Hispanic students, in part because their schools were more likely to continue remote learning for longer periods of time.

"Alex Berenson Sued Twitter Over Being Banned and Was Reinstated."

It's a long segment so don't miss the key material near the end, explaining why he settled with Twitter and how he's moved on to publishing documents showing that the federal government pressured Twitter to ban him. Twitter had accepted him, he says, and White House people said they wanted him banned, and, within 6 weeks, he was banned.

That clip should be put alongside this other Joe Rogan clip, from one day earlier. Here's Mark Zuckerberg talking about the FBI's pressuring Facebook to moderate content:

"For 75 years, C.D.C. and public health have been preparing for Covid-19, and in our big moment, our performance did not reliably meet expectations."

Said Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, quoted in "Walensky, Citing Botched Pandemic Response, Calls for C.D.C. Reorganization/Among other flaws, the public guidance during the coronavirus pandemic was 'confusing and overwhelming,' the agency said" (NYT).

"Her plan... was short on specifics...."

The CDC just changed its approach to fighting the coronavirus — leaving it to individuals instead of schools, businesses, and other institutions.

WaPo reports.
“I think the question is, is the CDC finally saying, ‘Look, we’ve done what we can do to contain the most acute phases of this pandemic?’” said Jeanne Marrazzo, an infectious-diseases expert and clinician at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “So are they just finally saying that it is time for us to sort of take a step back and think about putting this back to the individual person?”... 
Social factors and not just virologic ones have shaped the CDC’s approach. The agency’s director, Rochelle Walensky, has said the agency wants to offer practical recommendations that can, and will, be followed by a broad swath of the public. That means taking equity issues into account, because people do not have equal access to tests, or the same ability to work remotely or isolate from family members....

"Loss or change of sense of smell or taste can lead to 'severe distress'... people... often feel 'isolated' when dismissed by clinicians."

"Daily activities such as smelling coffee and testing the flavour of food can become 'disgusting and emotionally distressing'.... [A]n estimated 5.6% of patients have smell dysfunction for at least six months and 4.4% have altered taste.... [W]hile most patients are expected to recover their sense of smell or taste within the first three months, 'a major group of patients might develop long-lasting dysfunction that requires timely identification, personalised treatment and long-term follow-up.'"

What is the "personalised treatment and long-term follow-up"? I've had a loss of the sense of smell for over a decade, and from what I understand, there is no treatment. I'd love for there to be more research to develop treatments, but if you don't have anything to help me, I don't want health-care money — and my own time — wasted on monitoring me.

The article refers to "the devastating effect that loss of smell and taste can have on quality of life and wellbeing." Don't overdramatize! It's as bad as it is but no worse. My life isn't devastated. How do you expect people with worse disabilities to keep their spirits up? 

The mix of good days and bad days was bewildering... Yet I have never been too sick [with chronic fatigue syndrome] to function. I have never been bed-bound or unable to take care of myself. And therein lay my problem: because I was never completely incapacitated, and because of the unpredictability of my condition, there was always hope of recovery.... 
The hope of a recovery in the future condemned me to an austere existence in the present; pleasure endlessly deferred. There was no one moment when I decided to give up hope.... Above all, my condition became familiar to me and, to some extent at least, predictable. I began to forget what it felt like to be “normal”....
Whatever it was that did it, in my 30s and 40s I gave up hope of a cure, embraced my identity as a person with a disability – and learned how to be happy. I am not on a treadmill of trying new treatments. Maybe one day there will be a cure, or maybe not. Giving up hope has given me back the capacity for joy.... 
"What was the craziness like, when all the people were calling you a plague rat?" Joe Rogan asks Aaron Rodgers."Alex Berenson Sued Twitter Over Being Banned and Was Reinstated."

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