Thursday night. Aside from work, I spent the day reading escapist, far-out science fiction and enjoying my Thirsty Thursday. Both were helpful distractions from, you know, the whole pandemic and “the end of the world as we know it” thing. (Is it vertical integration when they attach a tiny bottle of whiskey to a six-pack of cider as a free sample?)

Gave an hour-long and mostly impromptu presentation at work today. So strange to be surrounded by so many newbies. I don’t expect this to result in any material benefit for me (dreaming is dangerous) but it makes for a fine distraction from the routine, if only for a bit.

One of the commenters on the political blog I follow recently made a post about making the most of this pandemic: exercising, improving their diet, meditating, etc. Good for them – we’d all benefit from doing more of the same. They also mentioned the Yale Happiness Course which, in addition to being the most popular course in Yale’s history, also happens to be free for regular folk. (Though if you give them $49, they’ll send you a certificate confirming that you’re certifiably happy. Heh.) I’m curious about it, but also thinking of saving it for a rainy day. Neither happy nor unhappy right now – just going through the motions.

…a while back, I sifted through all the copyright-free old-timey literature on the topic of happiness: ancient philosophers, some classic writers, even a poem by some random schoolgirl in the 19th century US. I combined all of that in an e-book: “50 shades of yay: great thinkers on happiness.” Gotta be honest: I had to really scrape the bottom of the public domain barrel to find even 50 pieces on the nature of happiness. Of all the e-books I published during my graphomania stage, that one was my favourite – and, of course, the least commercially successful. Figures, eh? I might end up running a giveaway… Hmm. (And no, if you’re wondering, the act of researching and reading those things did not make me happy afterwards. The upside of the couple of crappy years that followed was that they inspired me to come up with an awesome 5-year-plan that should come to fruition next November.)

In covid news: we really do live in the stupidest timeline. Forget the civil unrest due to horrifying police brutality, forget the blatant sabotage of the US Postal Service, forget the 200,000 or so covid deaths – no, the biggest scandal right now is the so-called “Salon-gate.” Allegedly, Nancy Pelosi (the House of Representatives speaker) got invited to a hair salon. There’s security video footage of Pelosi walking around inside without a mask. That goes against San Francisco’s restrictions against indoor services. Now the footage is being played more or less non-stop on the conservative media and even at the White House. Did Pelosi fall for the most blatant bait ever? Yup. Did she react unwisely when she demanded an apology from the salon owner? You bet. Is this being covered about 1,000 times more than the maskless gatherings by Republican politicians? Absolutely.

Anyone reading about this pandemic in the future won’t be able to understand the sheer cynicism of the media – or the constant manipulation, the metaphorical dangling of shiny objects to distract people from real disasters unfolding all around them. (Doesn’t help that a lot of people in the US hate powerful women.) I wonder if your average American who doesn’t follow the news closely thinks the virus is completely gone. It feels as if the fact that over 1,000 Americans die of covid every single day has gotten normalized, accepted, swept under the rug. Bizarre, coming from the country that embarked on a Forever War after 3,000 people got killed on 9/11.

…I have to keep reminding myself that that’s no longer my country.