Yet another of those stories

Dusty and Tristan Graham were a couple of Alabama eBay resellers, who made videos of their collecting trips which were interspersed with denunciations of vaccines and pandemic responses and all the usual ridiculous complaints by the gullible victims of rightwing ideology. Can you guess what happened a few weeks after they put out a video insisting that they weren’t never gonna get no vaccine? Of course you can. If it weren’t so deadly, it would be a joke.

According to a GoFundMe page set up by their children, Dusty died Thursday after battling COVID-19 for three weeks. His wife had “passed suddenly in her sleep” weeks earlier due to coronavirus complications on Aug. 25.

“Unfortunately Dusty and Tristan have both passed away,” the couple’s daughter, Windsor Graham, said. “Thank you for all the kind words and helping us during this difficult time. We will be using the money to pay for funeral expenses.” The announcement of their deaths follows an announcement from Dusty weeks earlier that he was in the ICU “battling it [COVID-19] out.”

Look, people. I’ve got two choices for you:

  1. Stop declaring to the world how useless the vaccine is and you aren’t going to take it. Pride goeth before the fall and all that. It’s just going to make you a target for derision if you do come down with it, and you’ll have enough anguish to deal with without the libs poking at your corpse.

The worst part of it is that they’ve left behind a couple of kids (maybe adult children, at least) who have to deal with all of this grief and chaos.

For the love of god, get vaccinated. These stories are terrible and completely unnecessary. You don’t have to tell anyone, just go in and get the shot in secret, and take your loved ones in to get it too.

Irony gasps back to life! Thanks, Florida GOP.

Florida, America’s poxed appendage

Their finances are in a shambles now, because one man held the keys to all of the accounts.

After spending months railing against COVID-19 precautions and criticizing Dr. Anthony Fauci, a Republican Party official in Florida passed away this week — leaving his county-level GOP organization without access to critical financial accounts.

Gregg Prentice, 61, served as accountant for the Hillsborough County GOP and also chaired the organization’s committee for election integrity. A software engineer by trade, Tampa Bay’s local Patch outlet reported that he built and maintained the local Republican party’s campaign finance software last year and was responsible for filing its monthly reports to the Federal Elections Commission.

A FEC filing from the surviving members of the organization claims that Prentice died without sharing login information for these accounts, or any sort of instructions for how to use them. The letter also tells the regulatory agency it will likely need more time to complete a report on its August fundraising numbers, and foreshadows trouble compiling the local party’s financials for future months as well.

Can you guess how he died? Can you? Guess! The Republicans are frantically straining to get extensions, so they explained how.

As a Political Party Committee, we file our FEC reports on a monthly basis. For several years we have been submitting the reports electronically, and for over a year we have done this with software developed by one of our members, Gregg Prentice. Gregg’s software converted data from our Quickbooks accounting software to supply the information needed by the FEC.

Unfortunately, Gregg passed away suddenly from Covid 19 on Saturday, September 11, 2021. Gregg did not share the software and instructions for its use with our officers. We will have to enter the August data manually, and according to the information we have received from our FEC analyst, Scott Bennett, we may likely have to re-enter the data from our first 7 months of 2021. We will be struggling to get all of this entered in the proper format by our deadline on September 20, but we will try to do so with our best effort.

Killed by a virus he had denied. It would be sad if it weren’t so fitting.

In addition to his role compiling the Hillsborough County GOP’s financials, Prentice spent most of the past year fearmongering about COVID-19 vaccines, mask mandates and other pandemic safety measures. Like many other conservatives in public life, he took aim in particular at White House COVID-19 adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, writing on Facebook that America needed to “End Faucism.” He also argued that “we need more socialist distancing than we do social distancing.”

Think of all the work the party would have been spared if only Gregg had taken a few minutes to get vaccinated. The pandemic is going to not only cull Republican voters, but is going to disrupt their organization. I hate to suggest it, but in the name of our common humanity, go get the shot, Republicans and other kooks.

The most charming magical bar that has ever been

The other day, I got in my car and discovered a few fine strands of silk between the steering wheel and the dashboard. Just a few; some spider had been making a few exploratory leaps inside the car, leaving traces behind, and then probably left because there isn’t much spider food in there. It made me just a little bit happy, though. It’s good to see the little ones out and about.

I can only dream of someday owning a Cobweb Palace.

That’s the interior of a San Francisco saloon that existed between 1856 and 1893, established by a wise gentleman and kindred spirit named Abe Warner.

Cobweb Palace was unlike any other saloon in that it had dense spider webs fixed on the bar’s ceiling. More threads draped over the shelves that stored the liquor bottles. The spiders cast a veil over nude portraits on the walls, and some of the webs reportedly grew 6 feet wide at times. But Warner refused to destroy them.

“The spiders just took advantage of me and my good nature,” Warner told the San Francisco Chronicle. “When I first opened up here, I didn’t have time to bother with ‘em and they grew on me. It’s a great neighborhood for spiders, anyway, and the news got around among ‘em that I was easy and they founded an orphan asylum and put all the orphans to work spinning webs.”

All good things must come to an end, though, and the enchanted saloon eventually failed after a prosperous 40 year run.

Cobweb Palace would continue showcasing its curios, wild animals, and web-covered ceiling for nearly four decades, until the crowd outgrew their taste for the peculiar fortress Warner created. The saloon began to lose its luster in the 1870s, when the area became mostly industrial. Years later, the Sausalito ferries moved away from Meiggs’ Wharf, causing a bigger blow to Warner’s business.

Customers stopped coming to Cobweb Palace and Warner couldn’t make enough cash to pay the rent. The property owner had no choice but to evict Warner by 1893 to tear down the saloon and make way for new housing.

The end of Abe Warner was especially poignant. Is this me in a few years time? If it is, it’s not that terrible a way to go.

Warner is remembered in historic articles as a man whose only friends were the spiders, and in a way, they were. Warner’s best days were among the spiders that coexisted inside his bar as they kept him company long after the crowd abandoned him. Some webs had been undisturbed since the saloon’s inception until the auctioneers finally cleared them out.

Warner refused his daughter’s call to return to New York after the failure of Cobweb Palace. It would be too painful of a move after the decades spent in San Francisco. Even when local relatives wanted to take him in, Warner declined their offer, preferring his own solitude. Then, three years after the saloon’s permanent closure, Warner passed away in 1896 without a dime to his name. He was 82 years old and died alone, save for the spiders that watched over him until the very end.

What’s especially sad about that is that I haven’t accomplished anything as glorious as the Cobweb Palace. I’m going to have to get to work fast in my remaining years.

Also, anyone else read his story and think he sounds like a great character for an urban fantasy novel?

The enemy has been vanquished, maybe

Yesterday, I did successfully kill my own Facebook account, and it is gone for good. If you were one of my Facebook friends, it was nothing personal — you’ve still got my email, yeah? Or can follow me on Twitter? Or hey, there’s this blog which you’ve obviously found. I’ve just found Facebook increasingly repugnant, and as they do more and more crap to harvest information and money, it’s utility to me has been outweighed by its ugliness and inconvenience.

If you also want to free yourself from the Facebook shackles, you can just follow these instructions like I did. I think they worked. They’re provided by Facebook itself, which leaves me suspicious that they lied and didn’t really delete all my information, and that they may have left a few hooks in place to reel me in when they want.

Reminder: I’m answering questions at 11am Central time today

Today I’m going to answer some patron/reader questions:

• Viruses replicate? Does that mean they mutate in infected people, too?
• Given the choice between a vaccine that stops spread but does nothing to reduce lethality and a vaccine that allows spread but eliminates lethality, what would be a better strategy for us?
• Hey, what about that old germ layer theory? It’s 205 years old, is mesoderm still a thing?

I’ll also try to answer any other questions that come up.

For a grand finale, today is the day I nuke my Facebook account. It won’t be too exciting: click, click, click, click, click, click (etc.), it’s gone. At least, it better not be exciting, I won’t be too happy if the Facebook police show up at my door.

What happens when you don’t let Marvel and Disney dictate your movie choices?

I coulda cried. I went to the movies last night, and it wasn’t another goddamned comic-book super-hero franchise movie. All summer long, that’s all they’ve shown, and I am so tired of that crap. Please, please, no more movies where all tension and drama is supposed to be resolved at the end with a great big punchy slog of a fight with lots of CGI!

The Green Knight is not that movie. Instead, we get all the complexity and ambiguity of the medieval story, with dangly bits of the tale that hang there and make you scratch your head and wonder what that was supposed to mean, and at the end you have to think about what it was all about. It also doesn’t slavishly follow the old poem, and the director adds new surprises. That’s what I want more of in a movie — creativity and originality and complexity. I may have to go again later this week just to soak in the lovely imagery and pick up on the nuances.

The only negative, something that diminished but did not ruin the movie for me, was the audience. For some reason, the theater had a small mob of boys in their early teens who came in to watch, presumably thinking this was another goddamned comic-book super-hero franchise movie. They were visibly bored, constantly getting up to go to the lobby, whispering to each other, noisily chomping on their snacks. So spread the word: this is not an action movie. There isn’t a lot of sustained violence. The sexy scenes are muted and strange. Stay home, kids, you won’t like this movie. And theaters: I know you’re desperate for ticket sales, but you’re doing no one any favors by letting the kiddies into a movie they won’t understand.

P.S. There won’t be a sequel to The Green Knight. It won’t launch a franchise with a new addition to the story every summer. The studios may be unhappy with that, but it’s a huge plus as far as I’m concerned.

Blast off!

To the moon, Alice, to the moon!

Look at that. No COVID-19 cases in my county in the summer, and then we all got cocky and slacked off. The Minnesota governor lifted the mask mandate, we had the Stevens County fair (I skipped it), the college students started trickling back, the schools opened, and whooo-eee, look at that spike! 28 cases on Thursday, 48 on Friday, and we’ll have to wait and see the thrilling progression on Monday. Will it continue to rise? Or will the roller coaster start going down? Nobody knows! We don’t even know where the locus of infection is, although rumor has it that in this case it’s due to spread in a local church congregation.

You may recall the conservative church domination of our school board means the public schools here aren’t allowed to insist on masking or vaccinations. How’s that going for you, Stevens County?

I’m pretty sure our local hospital couldn’t cope with 48 serious cases — I hope the majority of the current surge do not require hospitalization — so, to everyone else…do not get sick right now. Be safe. Don’t take any risks. Because if you do, you might find yourself at the bottom of any priorities.

Anti-vaxxers are murdering children

Who kills, again? Fuck every one of these assholes.

They are all aiding and abetting murder by taking up ICU space with diseases that were easily preventable. Look at this example.

What first struck Nathaniel Osborn when he and his wife took their son, Seth, to the emergency room this summer was how packed the waiting room was for a Wednesday at 1 p.m.

The Florida hospital’s emergency room was so crowded there weren’t enough chairs for the family to all sit as they waited. And waited.

Hours passed and 12-year-old Seth’s condition worsened, his body quivering from the pain shooting across his lower belly. Osborn said his wife asked why it was taking so long to be seen. A nurse rolled her eyes and muttered, “COVID.”

Seth was finally diagnosed with appendicitis more than six hours after arriving at Cleveland Clinic Martin Health North Hospital in late July. Around midnight, he was taken by ambulance to a sister hospital about a half-hour away that was better equipped to perform pediatric emergency surgery, his father said.

But by the time the doctor operated in the early morning hours, Seth’s appendix had burst — a potentially fatal complication.

I take that personally. When I was a child, I almost died of appendicitis — the memory of the agony of that event still burns in my memory. I only had to wait 5 minutes after my dad carried me at a run into the hospital (my projectile vomiting probably motivated the staff), but if that thing had ruptured, if modern medicine hadn’t made appendectomies safe and routine, I wouldn’t be here today. I still remember the pain and drifting in and out of consciousness on that short and probably too fast drive to the hospital, and I can’t imagine what it would have been like to wait 6 hours for treatment.

Fortunately, in this case there was a relatively happy outcome.

Seth Osborn, the 12-year-old whose appendix burst after a long wait, spent five days and four nights in the hospital as doctors pumped his body full of antibiotics to stave off infection from the rupture. The typical hospitalization for a routine appendectomy is about 24 hours.

The initial hospital bill for the stay came to more than $48,000, Nathaniel Osborn said. Although insurance paid for most of it, he said the family still borrowed against its house to cover the more than $5,000 in out-of-pocket costs so far.

You know, there’s this process called triage, in which you rank the needs of the patients. I would not object if hospitals made a patient’s refusal to obtain a cheap, safe, easily obtainable vaccination part of the triage process. When Seth Osborn shows up in the emergency room, they should have looked at the list of people taking up ICU beds with COVID-19 who had not been vaccinated, and bumped one of them out to make room for the kid. It’s a hard decision, but medical personnel sometimes have to make those painful choices.

Imagine if Seth had died because some selfish asshole had neglected to do the minimally responsible thing, all because some Republican had told him not to.