Friday night. This French Friday, the word of the day is “merde.”

Another week gone and done with… Literally the only way I can even mark the passage of time anymore is by the weekly releases of new episodes of The Boys, an Amazon TV show. (It’s jarring but interesting, and the casting is perfect. The comic book was just as good.) Well, I guess at least I can savour the new episode after getting through yet another set of five workdays.

The pandemic is rough on us regular people… My landlords got into a giant shouting match with their 16-year-old son today. It was in Vietnamese. I don’t know what they were yelling about, and I don’t feel like it’s my place to intervene. (There’s also a rather large language barrier between us.) As far as I can tell, it’s a typical teenager/parents argument, which would’ve happened even without the pandemic. Even so, I doubt the lockdown is helping… At work, nerves are getting more frayed. I’m fine – I’m a professional survivor with the durability of the proverbial cockroach in the midst of a nuclear war. Just doing my job and waiting…

There was some much-needed levity earlier today as I tried to install my newly purchased pullup bar just about anywhere in this house. The design is relatively modern, so there aren’t a lot of doorways in common area, no arches or corridors. The only suitable area had two walls that were a little too far apart for the pullup bar. In the end, I ended up securing it against my room’s doorframe. (It’s the adjustable kind that doesn’t need screws – like a very sturdy shower curtain rod.) I haven’t done any pullups in very many years: the upside is that I’ve figured out how to do them again; the downside is that I already know that’s gonna hurt tomorrow. Heh. The price of progress, right?

In covid news, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei and one of his ministers have tested positive for covid. Giammattei is 64. It’s strange how relatively rare it is to hear about major politicians catching the virus. There was Boris Johnson and his 50-50 diagnosis, of course – and there was Herman Cain, who wasn’t as lucky. The former had insisted on going to hospitals and hanging out with covid-positive people; the latter went to a Trump rally without a mask. But aside from that… I guess the 1% really do get better healthcare than the rest of us. Interestingly, though, a couple of days ago there was a report about multiple White House staffers testing positive, just one day after the big accord ceremony between Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain. I hope everyone gets better, and learns the importance of taking this seriously.

In non-covid but very much political news… (Hey, I was a political science major – I’m one of the few people who are actually authorized to opine on that stuff.) Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of cancer. She was 87, and had multiple health scares throughout the year. Her death is tragic. She had the opportunity to step down during Obama’s two terms, but she didn’t: at the time, everyone assumed Trump would lose. He didn’t, and RBG ended up keeping that Supreme Court seat warm just so he wouldn’t appoint a replacement.

Her death is tragic. Her inability to spend her final years in well-deserved retirement was partly due to her own actions, but no less tragic. The fact that the US will likely get a conservative Supreme Court justice to replace her even though the election is a few weeks away – that’s not tragic, that’s karma. A once-prosperous democracy has gotten so frail and fragile that all of its hopes depended on a single 87-year-old cancer survivor staying alive just a little bit longer. That’s the opposite of stability – that’s a gamble. Just like relying on John McCain’s decency when he voted against the Obamacare repeal was a gamble.

The McCain gamble paid off. Maybe the RBG gamble would’ve paid off too, had Ginsburg survived. But then there’d be another gamble. And another. Go all in often enough, and eventually your streak will end. If you do manage to win a few times in a row, that’s likely due to luck, not skill – and luck always runs out, just like it did here and now. This will get very ugly. I hope there will be mass protests, and enough Republican senators (like Mitt Romney just did) will vow not to vote for RBG’s replacement until the new administration gets sworn in. Realistically, though, I fully expect Republicans to bite into this sudden opportunity with all the amoral tenacity of a hungry alligator. This will get very ugly indeed.

Good luck, my American compadres. Y’all are going to need it.