To mask or not to mask…

Don’t take to task, those who ask, why don’t you wear a mask?

Masks can be bothersome, but they are our first line of defense against viruses. You don’t see the little buggers, but they are there, everywhere, waiting to ambush you. And like guerillas, they will hit and run the minute that you lower your guard.
And by the way, these little beasties are atheists… they don’t believe in God, in prayers or incantations. Don’t count on divine powers to ever intercede for you.

Some people thought that like bad guests, masks abused their stay, but this is not the case. The authorities are now warning that in view of the resurgence of the Covid Variants, masks may become mandatory again in all public venues.

Yes, it is a constraint, but what is the alternative? Moving to another place? This is a worldwide problem and no place on this planet is safe…

And then, instead of circling the wagons, we have the skeptics, the doubters, the rebels who feel that this is not necessary. We don’t need no stinking masks or vaccines they say. This is much ado about nothing… we are healthy, and the proposed cure might be worse than the disease… we don’t know what is in these syringes and it might do more harm than good.

Well, let’s consider how many people died from the disease versus how many people died from the cure. The margin is so wide that it is not even debatable. And let’s look at the annoyance of wearing a mask versus the satisfaction of not wearing one. Is the smugness of being a free-thinker worth the risk?

You might opt to swim with the sharks without any protection, but personally, I would rather wear a stainless-steel mesh suit to frolic with these guys. Yes, it is more cumbersome, but it is way safer.

And if you are still unwilling to wear masks or get a free jab in the arm, just consider what it would cost you if you were to be hospitalized.

According to Healthcare Finance,

“The average cost of hospital care for COVID-19 patients without insurance or who receive out-of-network care varies greatly by age – from $51,389 for patients between 21- and 40-years-old, to $78,569 for patients between 41 and 60 years old, according to updated cost analysis data from FAIR Health.”

 A little sobering isn’t it? Save yourself and your family a lot of troubles and get vaxed! It is much cheaper than a little stopover at your local hospital.

“I got the bill for my surgery. Now I know what those doctors were wearing masks for.” ~ James H. Boren


Out, damned noise; out I say

“Noise: a stench in the ear.” ~ Ambrose Bierce

 That sums it up for me. Noise, one of the most detestable nuisances of our time. No matter where you live, there is no escape… You will be regularly assailed by noise-making contraptions.

Souped-up cars, pick-up trucks, Harley Davidson motorcycles, gas-powered chain saws, leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, grass mowers… and this is just the top of the crop. There are also continuous noises and low-frequency noises and even though they are not as obvious as the above mentioned, they still impact your well-being.

We are now besieged by permanent noise, and it isn’t just annoying — it is bad for your health. Scientists have confirmed that noise pollution produces stress that can lead to all kinds of unpleasant ailments, including death. Can noise kill you? Rarely. but yes. The threshold for death is usually pegged at around 185-200 dB. “

I am now reaching an age, where my hearing is not what it used to be. In my youth, I could hear a mouse fart… not anymore. I presently struggle to comprehend words spoken in a low voice or in a noisy environment. One of my pet peeves, for instance, is the introduction of the morning news on major networks. The voice of the announcer is muffled by some ridiculous, totally unnecessary background noise. It prevents hard of hearing people (and we are legions) to clearly understand what is being said. Whose utterly stupid idea is this? ABC, CBS, NBC can you hear me? Stop that nonsense.

But besides machine-generated noises, there are also numerous commotions produced by humans. And they can be as bad as machine noises. Some human beings are loud and sitting next to them in a public space can be extremely annoying. Contrary to what you might think, noise pollution is not exclusively generated by hairy men. Women used to be dainty creatures speaking in whispers. Not anymore. Some women are now as boisterous as drunken sailors, and it can be highly irritating.

Don’t get me wrong. I have been an early supporter of women’s causes, but noise making is not one of them.

“All noise is waste. So, cultivate quietness in your speech, in your thoughts, in your emotions. Speak habitually low. Wait for attention and then your low words will be charged with dynamite.” ~ Elbert Hubbard

“The earliest noise complaint in history also concerns a bad night’s sleep. The 4,000-year-old Epic of Gilgamesh recounts how one of the gods, unable to sleep through humanity’s racket and presumably a little cranky, opts “to exterminate mankind.”

 I would not go as far as that, but for some repeated offenders, some caning might be appropriate.


A contrarian world

Like it or not, we live in a contrarian world… a world rife with anger and discord. And contrarians are not making our lives easier. But what exactly is a contrarian? Is it something like a politician? a malapropian? Close, but not quite.

According to the Urban Dictionary, a contrarian is…

“Someone who automatically tends to take the opposite point of view from the person to whom they’re speaking, or to disagree with society at large out of a sort of knee-jerk reflex.”

And that’s why it rubs me the wrong way. I have nothing (or little) against somebody who argues intelligently with me, but I highly dislike people who automatically disagree just for the sake of disagreeing.

“I swim against the tide because I like to annoy.” ― Carlos Ruiz Zafón

There are two distinct species of contrarians. The smart ones and the stupid ones, and I am sorry to say that the latter vastly outnumbers the first ones.

A smart contrarian is a person who opposes or rejects popular opinion, especially in stock exchange dealing. He buys shares of stock when most others are selling, and sells when others are buying. It is a risky business, but it can be hugely rewarding.

“I paraphrase Lord Rothschild: ‘The time to buy is when there’s blood on the streets.’ David Dreman

The stupid contrarian is usually (but not always) somebody with very little schooling, not very successful, and unhappy about his condition. He also seldom or never traveled abroad and would not recognize a croissant if it flew into his mouth. He is highly susceptible to side with rabble-rousers.

You don’t have to look very far to see some of those. Just look at Congress. Some of these people make a career of being contrarians. They don’t bring much to the pot, but they made a name for themselves for being useless “mavericks”.

Contrarians are like bedbugs, irritating and difficult to get rid of. Some constituents like them for their rebellious attitude, but they just do a disservice to the nation… especially in the fight against an unyielding pandemic.

Some countries have already mandated the wearing of masks and proof of a “Health pass” in public venues. There is no doubt that contrarians of all stripes and colors will vigorously protest this preventive measure. If they persist, I have a solution.

Relocate them in some sparsely populated island (like Pitcairn) where they could live and thrive (?) with like-minded contrarians.