Saturday, August 1, 2020

To Mask or Not to Mask

Michael Lumish

One of the stranger things about this exceedingly strange and ugly moment in American history is the debate over masks. Some people believe that the insistence upon wearing the mask by politicians, the media, and much of the general public is an intrusion upon the civil liberties of the individual. They often see it as a manifestation of social conformity and group-think or what you might call Lemming Culture. They also tend to doubt the utility of such medical apparel to protect anyone from this virus.

The people who insist upon the mask are merely trying to do what little they can do to not spread the virus. They are hoping that our collective mask-wearing, and the related lock-down, will save lives.

I live in Oakland, California and what I see in my little neck of the universe is maybe about an 80 percent compliance rate on the main thoroughfares. For myself, I never wear my mask on the street, but always put it on when entering one of the few retail stores that remain open. I try to balance courtesy toward others with my own personal freedom as I see my friends lose jobs and the shuttering of once active restaurants and small retail stores.

One thing that has been obvious to me since early in the CV-19 crisis is that it has three fundamental aspects: the medical, the social, and the Constitutional. What bothers me is that while there is plenty of discussion around the medical side of the issue -- which is as it should be -- there is virtually zero discussion around the social side of the lockdown which would include increased poverty, increased unemployment, increased homelessness, increased domestic violence, increased divorce, increased suicide, increased homicides and increased crime.

The medical aspect of CV-19 is clearly important for the obvious reason that people's lives are directly at stake. I would suggest that the social aspect is probably at least as important, but it is rarely discussed. Often if you so much as raise questions from the social side you are met with a wall of resistance by people who assume that you are indifferent to the sickness and deaths of others.

In that joyous spirit, I want to offer four social consequences of mask-wearing. This is not to argue against the mask. It is merely to point out aspects that should be taken into consideration. These are:

1) It makes it much harder for the cops to do their jobs... which will make Antifa and Black Lives Matter happy.

2) It makes life much more difficult for the hearing impaired who generally use lip-reading as a sort-of back-up.

3) Common sense dictates that, combined with social distancing, it will teach children to be very wary of those around them. This will not have a beneficial effect on future generations.

4) It will warp the social aspect of the college experience.

My concern is that all of these hard and fast changes to American culture will disfigure it permanently.

We shall see.

By the way, this is my mask. It's meant to indicate my horror and disgust at this entire historical moment.


  1. Great mask....gotta get one. They just mandated masks here about 2 weeks ago to coincide with phase 3 of our reopening. So now I wear one whenever I go into a store. They won't let you in otherwise. I don't like em, they itch my face/nose. My biggest complaint is waiting in line to get into some place. Never liked it before the pandemic; hate it now. Masks were hard to get until recently. Now they are everywhere and fairly cheap.

    1. I couldn't wear a mask that looked like that. No offense, but it's just the way I am. For me, the plainer the better. I'll tell you, I long for the day we no longer have to do any of this and can talk about it as a distant memory.

    2. See, that's the thing. How long will this go on? 6 months? 2 years? 5 years? There are people in China who have been wearing these masks for decades. In any case, Jeff and Doodad, combine the masks with the lockdown and the riots and we have probably changed American culture forever and not in a good way.

  2. Wear a thin blue line neck gaiter, but stay out of stores and places where it's needed. So much disinformation about masks and how many cases and how many deaths.

    Great site for this stuff.

    1. "So much disinformation about masks and how many cases and how many deaths."

      Do fill us in.

    2. Politics, of course. Not only about the overall effectiveness of masking simply to go outside or when maintaining distance, but in the way cases are counted and covid deaths are determined. Read that a guy in a motorcycle accident was scraped off the ground and counted. Look at the battle over hydroxy. The protests v. going to church. Is there any topic these days that is immune from factionalism?

    3. Okay, I missed what you were getting at. Thought it had to do with the effectiveness of certain masks x distances, etc. I only wear one when within a couple of meters of someone else. But mostly I just stay home.

    4. Laurie's company purchased a whole shitload of blue masks with their logo on it to give out to employees. I got one and decided to frame it! LOL. I thought it would make for a nice keepsake so that I can always fondly remember this joyous moment in American history. I'm telling ya, future historians are going to have a great time with this stuff.

    5. Oh yes! I see TV commercials every day for masks starring male models and hotties "on the move" in their attractive, virus resistant fashions statements. Very chic.

  3. I saw a post on fb by a right-wing nutcake for some mask you can cut holes in and "they" can't tell the difference. Just so you know it's not just the Left I worry about. I just worry about the Left more, because there is more to worry about there currently.

    As far as the zero discussion over the social implications, none of that will help Biden, therefore it will not be discussed.

    So interesting to see Obama at John Lewis' funeral giving a partisan political speech, and doing what he does so well, lie, for ideological reasons.
    Here is the difference between him and Trump: Trump is like, is what we're doing working. No? Then you're fired. Trump, for all his manic nuttiness, is not ideological but practical in most things it seems. It's always about the deal. Is it a good deal for Trump. The new Trump Organization, so to speak, is now American, so the question becomes, "Is it a good deal for America." Almost every Jew I knew in high school and his friends wants to blame the corona virus wholly on him. Of course mistakes were going to be made. They were also made in WWII. At times we took terrible casualties, and early on it looked like we would lose. What I see Trump doing is what FDR did. FDR assembled American industry to build an "Arsenal for Democracy." Trump has done the same to fight this virus, and now it looks like there will be a vaccine or vaccines developed in record time. As Kennedy's pledge to put men on the moon wound up revolutionizing technologies, Trump's Operation Warp Speed will probably revolutionize the way we come up with vaccines and therapies to fight diseases with the possibility of a host of other benefits.
    But as human beings it's hard to give credit to those we hate, and hatred for Trump is an industry.

    1. What is the difference between America and the European countries that have had covid-19 outbreaks, some worse than others, but have suppressed them such that they are able to reopen with minimal risk? The biggest difference is that we're stuck with Donald Trump.

      "Trump has done the same to fight this virus, ..."

      You mean the way testing capacity has expanded so that we can test millions of people per day with results available soon enough that those who are positive can be isolated and their contacts traced while the information is useful.

    2. Could you be more specific? Something other than reprint a quote out of context. Did you notice the context at all, or was the mere mention of Trump doing anything right and meaningful to better a bad situation enough to get the veins in your forehead to pop out?

      You're addressing someone who voted for the Democrat in 8 straight presidential elections.
      So you've come up with the silver bullet, I see. Is that what Biden would a should a could done 4 months if his advisors had only said so in with their 20/20 retrovision, if Joe hadn't been on the campaign trail not mentioning it?

      It sounds to me like you are another Democrat single issue voter, and as always that single issue is Trump.

      I wonder if you've lost someone close to as I have due to this virus from China.

    3. Just like federal law enforcement are the gestapo and stormtroopers, eh? Can you get more ridiculous? Critics have no better answers, except to pretend they would have done better. That's good for a laugh.

      If a vaccine comes, as Fauci has insinuated, among other positive things, you will find more fault. Forget the nursing home fiascos, or that protests don't spread the virus, or that there is not manipulation to sensationalize by the media. It's Trump's fault.

      Isn't everything Trump's fault? Nice that Cuomo can bungle and be praised. Governors and mayors attend protests, yet make others stay inside. Medical opinion and treatment is repressed. All Trump's fault. Yes, you have such a convincing case, and no more need be offered to illustrate the point regarding your ignorant comment.

      But let's throw in a few facts. From The Edinburgh Times, July 29:

      Is Europe seeing a second wave? What WHO says about spike in Covid-19 cases in Spain and other countries - and where cases are rising fastest: The World Health Organization has said that the current pandemic is unfolding in “one big wave”

      Europe still has more death than the America, and higher death rates. Who knows the accurate information from China and Iran? China, which hides info about the origins, is the cause here, not Trump (unless you have TDS). It's odd that you appear unable to see this fundamental fact.

    4. "Europe still has more death than the America, and higher death rates. Who knows the accurate information from China and Iran? "

      indeed. China is rarely if ever mentioned as a "failure" in controlling the virus. It's as if the place of origination didn't even exist, so rare is its mention.

    5. is rarely if ever mentioned as a "failure" in controlling the virus.

      China failed initially because the CCP treated it as a PR problem. The CCP eventually learned that it could not be dealt with as PR, the result is that new cases have virtually disappeared there. Trump never learned that.

    6. PR problem? Ridiculous! Not to mention, China scrubbed the wet lab and refused to cooperate in giving evidence surrounding origins. It is an open question how and where the recombination between bat coronavirus, potentially including RaTG13, could have led to the emergence of SARS-CoV-2.

      As for numbers, how do you know cases have virtually disappeared in China? The information was so unreliable the counters stopped accepting it. Plus, there appears to be a spike going on. China probably did not have leaders (not Trump) sending the infected into nursing homes (accounting for almost 1/2 of all deaths here.) Perhaps we should just become a police state and trace everyone and everything. Actually, it was the Democrats that did PR, pulled stunts and invited everyone to party after Trump banned travel from China. Or perhaps you forgot. He then shut down the country, following the experts, and mobilized resources, including the drive for a cure.

      However, things cannot stay closed indefinitely, except to defeat Trump. Now Democrats are fine with some protests, while restricting the right to assemble by others, showing their deceptions.

      Maybe China is your model. More likely it's just the TDS coming forth once again.

    7. "Maybe China is your model."

      I have no interest in promoting China. China is a growing international menace that has to be cut down to size, not just due to COVID. However, China is not responsible for the transmission within America. That is one of the few things China is not responsible for.

      The Atlantic has a suggestion of what to do about China, . The one flaw I see in it is that it calls for the new organization to be independent rather than part of NATO which would reduce the ability to integrate economic with military response. Such integration would be necessary if China responds to economic pressure the way Japan did in 1941. Unfortunately, our current leadership is obsequious of Xi Jinping and sees no reason why we should provide anything of value to those whose cooperation would be needed in order to counter anything like the Belt and Road Initiative that would justify that cooperation.

    8. That remark was facetious. No need to be triggered, although it is a bit strange you cannot acknowledge that they are responsible for ALL of it. Nothing concerning transmission supersedes China's fault, except maybe sending people to nursing homes to kill others. You just don't get it.

      As for China, seems Trump had/has it right. Beat them economically. They steal better than they innovate and compete. Make the playing field more level and let's see what happens. The same for the rest. The fact is that we still pull our weight when it comes to development and support of human rights. Fortunately, China has helped most Americans and the world to see through the curtain, and the NBA has helped, too.

  4. "China, which hides info about the origins, is the cause here, not Trump"

    China, by not containing it in Wuhan, is responsible for the virus making beachheads here. Spreading for a few months after that may have been inevitable whatever Trump might have done. However, after that, testing capacity should have been brought up and basic anti-spreading methods like masks deployed. Trump has not used the powers that the federal government has to bring about more testing capacity and mocked mask wearing. For that he is responsible.

    Other than streamlining the regulatory process for approval, the federal government has little to contribute to making a vaccine happen. That gives Trump no place to make any contribution. Furthermore, it's an international effort, reducing the contribution of any one nation.

  5. Jeff: name something SPECIFIC that Trump has done to help vaccine development. You're right about him not being ideological. But it is not practicality that he substitutes for ideology, but narcissism. What is in it for Donald J Trump?

    Several months ago, the Niskanen Center printed a report about how testing capacity could be brought to 20 million per day by August if certain actions were taken. Unlike any vaccine, those actions could have been taken months ago. They weren't. That was Trump's decision, and that decision is what he is responsible for.

    1. You're barking up the wrong tree. If you want to vote for a party that would put an incapacitated man on a presidential ticket along with a woman of color, i.e., woman of any color as a predetermined category in a party with a rising Jewish problem, that's your business.
      And now you are a psychiatrist too, practicing from your armchair no doubt. Okay, I have a truly sick patient for you: The Democratic Party.
      That you think Trump has been mocking masks tells me we're watching different movies.
      That you believe that for months Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Dr. Fauci, et al have been pointing to and urging emergency action based on a report by the Niskanen Center, whatever that is (you, for one haven't mentioned it until just now) simply shows your TDS.
      Problem: The Dems and their allies ALWAYS have a psychological profile of a Republican president, and always it shows them as an unacceptably high risk.
      Who knows, maybe it's dead on accurate this time and you will now get your comeuppance for crying wolf so many times. KABOOM!

    2. Engage my argument! Your refusal to do so deserves absolutely ZERO respect.

      For your knowledge, the Niskanen Center is a right-of-center think tank primarily composed of former libertarians. Not exactly a left-wing nutjob outit that you apparently want to characterize everyone who doesn't worship DJT. You can read their report here, and the report underlying it is here . If you want to object based on lack of usefulness of doing so, feasibility, or opportunity cost, that's a worthy topic of debate, provided that you have a knowledgable source to support those objections. All you offer is ad hominem deflection.

    3. "name something SPECIFIC that Trump has done to help vaccine development."

      The blanket dismissal of Operation Warp Speed, not to mention the public private partnership generally done voluntarily, is surely just a mistake by you. The scaling operation to achieve implementation. Or do you expect him to go to the caves and kill a bat? Do you really believe that Obama or Biden would have done better? Where is their history of bringing in a project on time and under budget? Remember the ships? Not that this is the same as construction, but under Trump the development seems to be progressing faster than ever before. What more do you want?

      Testing is overblown. That went out the window when protests were allowed. That showed it is more about politics than public health. You seem to act like it's only one side that has no ethics, but the proof is out that Democrats in power engaged in serious abuses of power, before and after Trump was elected.

      Maybe if there was less stench coming from the Democratic side, in terms of its own conduct, the claims about Trump and stormtroopers would have more merit and credibility. Especially as we see that Obama was abusing power since before the 2012 election. Some people say that foolish Democrats lost the best opportunity to actually get things done. As you admitted, Trump is not an ideologue. So sad to watch how TDS unfolds.

    4. Ad hominem deflection? You mean like when everything is Trump's fault. In 2019 you were crying about something else being totally Trump's fault. You're just on to a newer narrative.

      The following is an ad hominem attack. Just so you'll know.
      "Not exactly a left-wing nutjob outit that you apparently want to characterize everyone who doesn't worship DJT."
      That one was against me. But thank you for pointing out right wing the bone fides so I'll feel safe since I'm obviously incapable of thinking for myself. If I were capable of independent thinking I'd fall in line with the rest of the Left, so the thinking goes.

      Engage your argument? Your argument is that Trump is the single problem standing in the way of lollypops and moonbeams.
      It's a deranged argument, and no, I will not engage with it or you. The mere mention that Trump did any one thing right sends you and others into orbit.
      Who are you to insist? Like I need you for something?

      BTW, which part of the B-17 bomber did FDR design personally? lol

    5. P.S. Here's how TDS, or a close cousin at least, works:

  6. China does bad PR. Or maybe there is more to it.