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It’s Not All Bad

The essence, I am going to go ahead and assert right now as if I were some kind of authority, of journalism is topicality and immediacy. That's why most journalistic writing is so flat and boring. The idea is to encapsulate whatever the hell is going on into an easily digestible, clear, concise pill whose function is only to inform, not entertain, and then get it out to the readership as quickly as possible. It is to writing what MREs are to cuisine, what monochromatic workwear is to fashion, or what paint-by-numbers is to art. That is why I will have no truck with that sort of nonsense. I prefer my work to be as difficult to swallow as possible. I want it to chip teeth, stick in the craw, scrape the esophagus bloody, irritate the bowel, cause moderate to severe gastrointestinal distress, and burn like a sriracha colonic coming out. And then clog the toilet. This is why my preferred organ of dissemination is the AVA, that and the fact that no one else is interested. You, meaning I, can write whatever the hell you want without the interference of editors, fact-checkers, PC police, lawyers, or community guidelines. It is as actually libertarian a thing as it is possible to be and how they haven't long ago drowned in a sea of litigation is a mystery to me, but I'm glad of it. Of the hundreds of thousands of words I've cobbled into readable shape and submitted, the number of peeps I've heard coming from Bruce or the Major suggesting I change one comes to exactly zero. 

As far as immediacy goes, though, print media is a lame, blind donkey running in the Preakness. By the time a newspaper has gathered the facts, written them down, sent them to rewrite, edited them, sent it to fact-checking, laid it out, sent it to the printer, bundled it, and trucked it out to the various outlets and vendors, it's already old hat. Everyone has already moved on to the next thing, or possibly even the thing after that. Make that newspaper a weekly, though, and you may as well be writing about women's suffrage or the Taft-Hartley act. I guess that's why our pages contain so much wistful reminiscing. 

Right now, however, we are in the midst of a worldwide crisis that dominates all media like nothing since 9/11 and, timely or not, people persist in either rehashing what has already been said or making shit up in misguided and desperate attempts at relevance. Who knew there were so many communicable disease experts out there laying in the cut, just waiting for something like Covid-19 to rear its pandemical head so they could put their expertise on display? People without medical degrees, scientific training, laboratories, or indeed any sense at all are pedantically pontificating from probie pulpits about something about which they know less than nothing, meaning what they do think they know is wrong. There is one angle I have yet to see explored, though, and you know what that means. Flynn to the motherfuckin' rescue yet again. 

How many aphorisms are there in our language exhorting people to consider the potential benefits of negative situations? Look on the bright side. Crisis is another word for opportunity. Every cloud has a silver lining. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. (I don't like this one, suggesting as it does that lemons are intrinsically bad. Lemons are great. When life hands you lemons, enjoy their assertive tang and restorative properties.). Et cetera. 

Why, then, are people setting their hair on fire and not realizing that this disease is a blessing? People are dying, yes, and I in no way wish to give an impression of callousness or unconcern, and my heart goes out to those suffering losses from covid-19, but the simple fact is that for every life lost to this virus ten more are saved who would otherwise have been on step one of their atoms being redistributed to the pool. While it's true that I'm of the opinion that statistics are much more convincing if you tailor them in such a way as to bolster your thesis, or even just make them up, I stand by the claim that we are way in the black on this sum, mortality-wise. 

Consider: around 4,000 people expire on the world's thoroughfares every single day, 120 or so here in the USA. Leaving aside the fact that comparatively, the coronavirus is a pebble in your shoe and highway fatalities a lower extremity above the knee double dismemberment, folks staying off the roadways has already saved more — many more — lives than have been lost to C19. By the time this thing is over there could be 10,000 people walking around breathing who would otherwise not have been. I am not going to take it any further than that because it would be real easy (and tempting) to veer off into a network of infinite connections and possibilities with both the consequential and seemingly inconsequential leading to occurrences and phenomena of momentous import to the human race, like maybe one of the intended highway dead would ultimately be responsible for World War III and a certain prophetic REM song that starts with an earthquake. Oh, great. Or one of the virus victims was on the brink of a cure for old age but didn't back up his data and the research was lost with him. That way lies madness. 

Instead, I will reassure you with my personal guarantee as an expert in the field of making things sound reasonable that at least one virus victim was a real sonofabitch who beat up puppies and molested children or vice versa, and among the saved on the interstates was one whose story of working three jobs while raising three beautiful, gifted children alone because his wife died of hair cancer last year would've brought the nation to tears as it was recounted on Wake Your Fat Ass Up, America. 

It is not only highway deaths being prevented, either; consider the fact that all the bars and nightclubs are closed, and with that goes the nightly body count of loudmouthed drunks being stabbed and stomped to death, gangbangers displaying their terrible marksmanship by pegging innocent dancers instead of the intended differently-hued bandanna, and wayward drunks passing out in snowdrifts and freezing to death. 

Surfers are not drowning. The suicidally inclined with a dramatic bent have no bridges to leap from. BASE jumpers must content themselves with jumping off the mantelpiece. Death by misadventure is, for the nonce, a thing of the past. Carbon monoxide levels are way down — this crisis could actually be increasing the shelf-life of the whole human race! The only downside I can see, besides the disease itself, is that there is probably going to be a lot more domestic violence and small children being thrown out of windows. That's the way of the universe, though: balance. 

Everything will ultimately even out as entropy has its insistent way with us. The biggest mistake people make is presuming that any life or any death is any more significant than any other. At bottom we're all just matter, and as such don't really matter. Not in the big picture. Within communities and families and relationships we do, but that's all construct. 

Taking the mechanistic view provides me more peace of mind than any god ever could. Ergo, my thoughts and prayers do not go out to the victims. Well, I guess my thoughts do, in the form of this article, but I think the last time I prayed was at the age of eight when I implored Aslan to come eat my stepfather and spirit me off to Narnia. Even then I recognized the absurdity of an unseen higher consciousness monitoring and punishing the human race, but the idea of an omnipotent lion running the show, talking animals, and wardrobes as portals to other dimensions seemed perfectly reasonable. 

So I doubt that muttering under my breath the wish that certain people should be safe from the virus will do any good. I hope that it is brought under control and things get back to normal, but in the meantime I suggest that everyone maintain their sense of humor and adopt the fatalistic view that what will be, will be. Let the people whose job it is to figure this out do their job and stop spreading lies and disinformation. Remember, you could be one of those who were slated for the boneyard and instead are occupied in this questionable pursuit, bodily functions humming along instead of decomposing. For cripes' sake, put down the paper and go do something constructive!

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