Journal of the Plague Year 2020: Somehow, the Country Is Never Quite Ready

A mysterious image, apparently created to beguile mildly autistic engineers.

We’ll start a couple of days back, when I was flicking through pictures I’d taken on my phone. Mostly meals and portraits of my cat, Lyndon Johnson, being cute in various ways. I stumbled on a shot that was mysterious, compelling, and utterly foreign. I took it on Saturday at 3:42 a.m. I’m sure I was awake then — I usually wake up just a bit before 0400 — but I have no memory of the image, which looks like it was created to beguile mildly autistic engineers.

I took a handful of photos Saturday at sunset, when I caught my phone’s weather app earnestly maintaining that the temperature was 100 F, but that this particular 100 F somehow “[felt] like” 102 F. Most of us will acknowledge that there’s a difference between 100 and 105, and that 115 F, in particular, is a world of its own, easily distinguished even from 110 F. But I think few of us would

tucson, az
What 100 F looks like from my back porch steps.

claim that 100 and 102 feel much different. In this case, I think an algorithm is attributing a feeling to those of us who are sensing beings. Anyway, that’s what a sunset at 100 F looked like to this sensing, feeling being.

I also sent myself a series of links. The first was to yet another article soulfully proclaiming the exquisite depth of Joe Biden’s empathy. Hey, Asshole! I mean, Paul Begala! A word of advice. If you want me to vote for your nasty little dried-up bit of establishment white guy, how about you shut the fuck up about his amazing depth of empathy, and just admit that his feminist credentials amount to this:

Joe Biden hasn’t actually raped anyone himself, he just defends powerful men who abuse women, and decades later gives a limp-dicked, meaningless, non-apology on the order of, “I’m sorry if it hurt Anita Hill’s feelings that I helped to elevate a flagrant sexual harasser to the Supreme Court, thereby demonstrating to a generation of young women that they can’t hope for dignity and equality in the workplace. Oops. I’ll try to do better.”

I’m glad he’s been nice to you and your family, Mr. Begala. This trans man who lived 51 years as a woman is sick of treacly editorials that tell me it’s in my interest to sit down, shut up, and vote for another half-assed excuse for a progressive candidate. Shut the fuck up, okay? I hear you loud and clear. I’m supposed to vote for the nice guy who promises that if I’m sweet and quiet and wait my turn, he’ll advance my civil rights. I get it. It’s not my turn, and it never will be. I’ll just try to take comfort in the fact that he’s treating your family with tender regard.

I’ll settle down and moderate my language now. The irony of it is, I wrote a short novel from the perspective of a rapist, and my hero is far from blameless in his relations with women. I’m far from blameless, for that matter. I think it comes down to this: I’m mighty tired of being told that if a loathsome, psychopathic creep gets elected President, it’s somehow my fault because I didn’t heartily embrace a less-corrupt elderly white person. I mean, come on. Mayor Pete was right there, being cute and progressive and darling for all to see. But somehow the country’s never quite ready.

And while I’m grumbling about editorials that The Guardian probably published just to troll progressive trans men like myself, how about this gem that mourns the good old days of the Republican Party? Which great Republican president do you have in mind, O wise GOP consultant Stuart Stevens? Ronald Reagan, a genocidal crook who now passes for an elder statesman? Richard Nixon? Please, Mr. Stevens, bestow upon me the wisdom you’ve learned while shilling for such greats as George W. Bush, a soulless huckster who looks human only when posed next to our current president, and Mitt Romney, a decent if hapless fellow who has bravely taken flak for positions that would be uncontroversial in normal times. I’m all ears.

I do recommend checking in with The New York Times‘ ongoing Covid-19 mass obituary, Those We’ve Lost. If you find yourself tired of mask-wearing and social distancing, it helps to remember the dead. The people memorialized here range in age from 22 to well over 100, and survived everything from the Holocaust, to World War II, to the AIDS pandemic. Musicians, writers, engineers, convicts, activists, nuns — a full, beautiful, panoply of lives ended by the novel coronavirus.

siamese cat
My cat, Lyndon Johnson, posing as a London rent boy under the watchful eye of the Blueblack Hussar.

Today’s numbers are below. I’ve added a gratuitous cute cat picture because I truly do love all of you, even when I’m delivering a cranky rant.


J.A. Thompson

Confirmed Covid-19 cases in Arizona: 179,497
Current hospitalizations: 2,017
Deaths: 3,779

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