04 May 2020

Notes from a pandemic: Not good

I was doing fine until this weekend.

Then I realized that I screwed up in my online classes. I made a mistake when I changed courses to accommodate for extended spring break back in March, put it in the syllabus then, but nobody caught it (including me) until Saturday. Like, right before it mattered.

The mistake shouldn’t be too bad for two courses (except for me own grading load), but is... not what I would have done in the third. Students are grumpy with me, rightfully so, and I’m not happy with myself, either, so that fits.

Then Texas has decided to start to “re-open” and I saw images like this at my field site on the beaches of South Padre Island:

Visitors return to beach, local businesses re-open

We are going to watch so many people get sick or die. And the reporting of this story bothers the hell out of me because there is no talking to anyone in public health, no epidemiologist, nobody to assess what the consequences of packed beaches and open restaurants is going to be.

And what is just killing me inside is that I am worried that a large chunk of Americans have decided not to care. That they are going to take the same approach to COVID-19 that they have with guns for all these years: they are just going to get used to it. Get used to constant deaths running along the chyrons of news channels, shrug and say, “That’s just the price of freedom.”

Of all things, what caught the moment for me was this review of a Godzilla movie box set.

In 2019, the world is on fire. We should know better. We move on because this is what we do: We get used to the flames, the poison, the death and destruction. We constantly erect new normals, and once those are surpassed, we craft newer normals, and pretend those have always been. When we see signs of that which we cannot escape, we change the channel because it isn’t our cup of tea. We shrug at the monsters, huge and black and opposing silhouettes on the horizon. We get used to the apocalypse because we can get used to anything.

It’s just a virus we’re getting used to instead of kaiju.

External links

Visitors return to South Padre Island, local businesses reopen

Criterion's Gorgeous Godzilla Box Set Is a Testament to Our Ability to Get Used to Anything

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