Sunday, October 31, 2021

Try for a normal without tyrants

(My Eastern New Mexico News column for September 29, 2021)

Are you enjoying this "new normal"?

Neither am I. What can be done about it?


Those who gained power or prestige by using the Covid panic will not willingly go back to the way life was before. They will have to be forced out. They'll probably make this a crime before you get the chance. Try anyway.

Even if you do successfully force them out, things can never go back to exactly the way they were before.

Covid-19 is a new cold virus, added to over two hundred cold viruses-- rhinoviruses, coronaviruses, and others-- which are already out there. You could get lifetime immunity from each cold virus you catch (as is usually the case) and still get two colds every year if you lived to be one hundred years old. Future generations-- until every cold virus is cured-- probably won't know or care which specific cold virus they caught.

Another change which will probably be permanent is how many people lost trust in "experts". My trust in the medical profession has been almost completely destroyed by the events of the past year and a half and I'm not the only one.

Some of your neighbors have also been inspired to become snitches or enforcers for the state-- enforcing the opinions of politicians against their fellow humans, both as business owners and as freelance "Karens". Will they go back to a healthy way of interacting with others once the silliness ends? Don't count on it.

Governments also got new visions of what is possible; more understanding of what the population will allow them to do. They will take advantage of this at every opportunity.

Things change. You can never go back to the way things were in the past. However, you don't have to allow bad changes to stand unchallenged; you can turn them into opportunities to change things for the better. You can now see cracks in the wall of political authority. Grab a crowbar and sledgehammer and get to work. This wall, like the Berlin Wall before it, can-- and should-- be brought down.

Yes, we will settle into a new normal, different from the one we lived before. That's not necessarily a bad thing. The "new normal" doesn't have to be the one authoritarian politicians want. It can be a normal where tyrants have no place among those who choose society over politics. It's up to you.


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Halloween fiction: The mutants are coming!

I'm hiding in the corner of an old dusty barn. Trying to be as quiet as possible while breathing hard from running. I wipe some blood out of my eyes; don't worry, it's not mine. My heart is pounding in my ears, and I need to calm it if I am to hear anything coming.

Feeling around to see how much ammo I still have with me; wondering if it will be enough. I couldn't possibly carry as much ammunition as I'd like, to use against what I'll face when I do make a run for it.

I've got my AR-15 with a full magazine; two more full magazines and a "partial" in my bag. I just counted what was left-- nineteen in that partial magazine. I swapped it out for a full magazine after the last encounter a couple of hours ago, just in case. Could I have fired fewer shots than I did last time? Did I waste ammo? It's a nagging question I'll never know the answer to.

I also have my 9mm handgun, with a full 10-round magazine in it and two 15-round magazines in the bag, besides the 12-rounder clipped inside my waistband. I haven't fired this gun since I ran-- fortunately, I've kept all encounters to a distance.

And that's all I've got as far as guns go... unless you count the .22 LR mini-revolver I always have as a last resort, which I don't.

Are the guns pointless, though?

I'm not even sure where to run. 

The towns and cities are obviously not safe, but neither is the wilderness. Not the mountains, the plains, the deserts, or the oceans. Sure, the places farther from concentrations of people-- or where concentrations of people used to live when this hit-- are slightly less dangerous. But any difference is small and shrinking fast. They are spreading faster than seems possible.

How did the world get into this mess?

A few years ago most people all over the world got a new vaccine. A different sort of vaccine against a disease that in hindsight was a picnic compared to... well, what the vaccine has wrought.

It didn't seem that dangerous at the time, but I didn't really see the need so I didn't bother getting vaccinated.

As it turns out, not getting the vaccine made no difference to my safety. It only bought me a little time. But for what?

Even months later there weren't that many serious side effects. Anyone who had decided against the vaccine was ridiculed and often shunned because it was "obviously safe". That was then. 

Later everyone stopped caring either way, and it was too late.

Before everything shut down it had become apparent that this vaccine, by getting into the recipient's DNA, made it possible for the genes of unrelated mammals to merge if they mated, resulting in hybrid offspring. No matter that they had different numbers of chromosomes or previously had immune responses to each other to prevent crossbreeding. I don't know the exact explanation of how it did what it did, and I guess explanations are pointless now. Who would I explain it to even if I knew?

If this had been the whole story, it wouldn't have been a huge issue outside some backward communities. 

Unfortunately, it also turned out that in a small, but still too large, percentage of the population-- both human and non-human-- this change coincided with the total elimination of any reluctance to mate with anything of any species. Worse, the offspring aren't sterile and can-- and will, with enthusiasm-- breed with each other, passing along the worst traits of the line. Now it's hard to guess what the parentage of the... thing.. about to rape or eat you (not even sure which fate is worse) might have been.

These things have higher intelligence than the animal part of them would have had (the ones which have some human in them, anyway), more stamina, and higher aggression than any normal lifeform. And most of them have shorter gestation periods and mature in only a year or so. Some mature in weeks-- thanks, mouse DNA. Plus, they all have the survival skills and abilities of the wildlife genes they contain. And their appearance. I promise-- you don't want to see them. They are like walking cancer made up of the worst sick taxidermy you can imagine, multiplied by infinity.

It's like some perfect nightmare. I wonder if my horror-fan friends are enjoying this-- if they are still alive.

Now I feel like it's time to run again. I'm as rested as I'm going to get. I need to find somewhere to sleep for a little while, but there's no bank safe handy to lock myself in to feel protected enough to sleep. 

Some food would be nice, too, but honestly, I'm scared to eat one of those things. Would cooking really destroy the DNA enough to make me safe? And what about handling the raw meat and blood while butchering the things? I do have a few nitrile gloves I shoved in my bag as I fled my house just as something with giant curled horns blasted through my back door, but would I trust them? I don't know. 

But I'm getting hungry enough that I'm caring less. I mean, yes, a few hours ago I did make the mistake of shooting that hairy winged thing as it swooped toward me, and a little blood sprayed down on me as it fell to the ground. Just a little splatter. And I feel fine. Great, in fact. Stronger than ever. But hungry.

I'm starting to feel like I don't even need the guns. 


Happy Halloween!