The “Home of the People Lovers” is going to kill us

I just had to make a harrowing trip to our local grocery store — harrowing, because no one wears face masks around here, I’ve seen one employee routinely wear one, and as I run my errands I see old people, middle-aged people, young people milling about, often stopping for annoying chit-chat with Ole and Lena in the aisles. I swear, when the pandemic comes swirling back into this county, the central locus for infection will be this store…and the churches. This community simply does not take the threat seriously. Except for the bubble of the university, this is also a county that went for Trump, by the way.

The headline on the Minneapolis Star Tribune right now is “Walz might mandate face masks”. Might. This is madness. The entire country was pretending that the pandemic was over, opening businesses, encouraging everyone to get out and shop and drink and celebrate, when nothing had changed, and now that the numbers are starting to rise again, there is this dull, dim glimmering that gosh, maybe we ought to do something to prevent the spread of disease. They’re going to be dilatory about it all, of course.

It’s not just Texas and Florida. We’ve got these indecisive, dishonest weasels working behind the scenes up here in Minnesota, too.

And goddamn, Willie’s SuperValu, get your act together. You’ve got a “coronavirus alert” link on your web page that hasn’t been updated since early April, and you haven’t taken a single responsible action to limit the spread of disease in your store, other than raising your prices.

This is what it looks like when Canada sticks out its tongue and gives you a big lick

Oh, boy. I checked the weather forecast, as one must in Minnesota in the winter, and take a look at our hourly prediction for the temperature. It’s going down all day long, just getting colder and colder from now until darkness, when it will also get colder. Also, 40km/hr winds all day means we’ll have blizzard conditions.

Fortunately, I have a snug house and a snug lab. The walk between the two might get a bit uncomfortable.

We can all do something

Yesterday was Morris’s Prairie Pioneer Days parade, one of those small town events where local people cruise slowly down main street to praise small town virtues, like, you know, royalty.

Or local businesses.

(The restaurant Mi Mexico had the best float, I think: gorgeous costumes, people dancing, great music. Mostly what we had was some guy in a pickup truck with a sign glued to the side.)

UMM was represented.

I had joined with some of our students who were marching to advertise a climate action event. This was their float.

I know, it was a little green wagon that they pulled down the street. We were surrounded by the local Chevy dealership, our regional Republican assholes (Jeff Backer and Torrey Westrom) and these guys:

It was kind of creepy, actually, that while we were waiting in the pre-parade lineup, these guys were sitting in their truck, staring at us, looking like they wanted to teach us a lesson or two. We ignored them, and just had a grand time going down the street handing out candy to kids and giving them flyers about our plans.

And what where those plans? I think a lot of young people are inspired by Greta Thunberg, who has said “Our house is on fire – let’s act like it.” They’re planning a Global Climate Strike, with our own implementation here, with a West Central MN Climate Strike. They want us to go on a general strike, just shutting down all that we can (especially classes) on 19-20 September.

I can do that. I will do that. Will you?

Do it for the youth.

The 43rd Midwest Philosophy Colloquium Race and Gender in Analytic Philosophy! Here on campus! Tonight!

I’m sure that title gets your heart racing. The first lecture in the series is tonight at 7. It’s by Jeanine Weekes Schroer, who will be talking about “Race, Grace and Intractable Moral Problems”. Sounds fun, I think I’ll be going, although lately I’ve been leaning towards favoring utilitarian spider philosophy: if it disturbs your web, bite it, fill it with venom, and suck it dry. Maybe I need to pay more attention to human-centered philosophical solutions, though.

(Although…writing a book that takes a spider-centered approach to philosophy would probably be a best seller in the Intellectual Dork Web community (better than lobsters, anyhow) and would also exemplify its own philosophy by biting, envenoming, and sucking the wallets — and souls — of its devotees dry. Tempting.)

Nuts to the Nuttings

I really was considering going to the Nuttings’ creationist seminar in Minneapolis this week, but I decided not to. I’m sure it will be totally pants, but then I discovered that a student, Elliott Jungers, will be presenting his senior seminar in Science 1020 at 5pm today on “Pax6 mutation in the model organism Astyanax mexicanus“, and a colleague in geology, Keith Brugger, will be presenting a faculty seminar in HFA at 5pm Thursday, titled “Small Science to Global Climate Models: or Why Anyone Would be Interested in Colorado’s Weather 20,000 Years Ago”. All are open to the public.

Why should I drive 3 hours to hear garbage people lie and talk garbage science when I can stay right here and listen to good stuff? In fact, I bet there are better talks going on at the Twin Cities campus all of the days that the Nuttings are babbling.

Have you been wondering what’s happening in the city of Morris, Minnesota?

I’m sure it haunts your dreams, but you’ve been starving for news about Morris because, well, they’re just now discovering this internet thingie. For years we’ve been getting by with the standard modes of communication: you know, A) stopping in the grocery aisle to gossip, or B) two cars stopping in the middle of the road, rolling down both drivers’ side windows, and chatting, or C) the church coffee social. But all that is changing! The City of Morris now has an official Facebook page and Twitter feed and are on Instagram! There’s not much there yet because they were just recently set up by some of the kids down to the university, dontcha know.

Anyway, you can now see footage of the construction of our new water treatment plant.

We’re very excited. It’s been hard getting by with our coffee solidifying in the cup and having to hack mineral deposits out of our pots.

It’s not on the social media pages yet (get to work, kids!), but you can also read the local paper and learn that our local theater is getting a second screen! This is fantastic news. We peeked in the other night and it’s all shiny and modern-looking.

Keep on eye on those pages! You don’t want to miss any of the thrills.

Oh! And before I forget, the Stevens County Fair will be livening up the town in a couple of weeks! I don’t know, I moved here because it’s peaceful and quiet, and all this modern hub-bub is a bit discombobulating.