Tag Archives: coronavirus

Medieval Holocaust: A Story of Plague and Greed [Anti-Valentine’s #15]

12 Feb

I was really struggling to come up with another reason to shun and not celebrate Valentine’s Day. But I had written the annual blog post17 years in a row now (I think?), so I was not going to give up easily. I had to think outside of the box. I wish I could say 2020 hit me on the head–or Covid-19. Because disease is important in our history and to our development as a society. It routinely kills more than war, so disease is a primary factor in shaping nations and their populations. Disease drives science, improves medical tactics, and shapes societal norms. Here is a historical event, that was intentionally carried out on Valentine’s Day, that speaks of disease, the ugliness of human-greed, and kinda sums of the sentiment and lessons of 2020. But also, provides a 17th reason why Valentine’s Day can, and should be abolished.

Many religions don’t honor Valentine’s Day as a legitimate holiday, because of it’s shaky origin story. I heard even the Catholic church removed Valentine’s Day from its calendar because Saint Valentine couldn’t be substantiated. And I know, many religions frown upon Valentine’s Day as too “Pagan” just like like they dislike Halloween. Hinduism, India’s major religion (80% of their population) doesn’t love the day of love (1). Traditionally, Asia’s most popular religion discourages public displays of affection between the sexes, including handholding, which Valentine’s Day encourages (1). I couldn’t find a religion that explicitly bans Valentine’s Day, though now that I’m thinking about it I’ll bet Jehovah Witnesses don’t acknowledge it because they don’t believe in anything that’s not actually written in the Bible (that’s my understanding, anyway). But they probably don’t single out that one holiday as more problematic than any other holiday either. They just across the board don’t celebrate things not in the pages of the Bible.

I was reading that Valentine’s Day is a touchy subject in Jewish eyes because of anti-Semitic rumors about the origin of the plague. In 1349 the Bubonic Plague aka “Black Death” was sweeping across Europe, with estimates that 60% of Europeans died from the disease (2).  Though we know now that Bubonic Plague is caused by a bacterium called Yersinia pestis and is most commonly spread by fleas that live on rodents like rats and mice, they had no idea what was causing millions of people to die back in those times. Currently, Bubonic Plague is treatable with modern medicines. In the Middle Ages, of course, no medical treatment existed to mitigate the Plague’s devastating effects (2). 

So fear took over. Terrified people (who didn’t have the benefits of science) were looking for someone to blame. And many Jews worked in the financial sector, acting as creditors. This vocation, contributed to anti-Jewish sentiment among the less privileged, so Jews were a natural choice to blame. Christians turned on the Jews in their midst, accusing them of spreading the Plague by poisoning Christian people’s wells (2).

*Trigger Warning*

*But it wasn’t just accusations, according to Dr. Yvette Alt Miller, there were horrifically violent attacks:

In Cologne, Jews were locked into a synagogue which was then set on fire.

In Mainz, the entire town’s sizeable Jewish community was murdered in just one day.

Across Europe, in Spain, Italy, France, the Low Countries, and the Germanic Lands Jews were massacred and tortured (2).

In 1349, a group of feudal lords in France’s Alsace region attempted to make the spontaneous attacks on Jews official. It was decreed that the property of Jews (murdered for supposedly spreading the Plague) could be seized by their Christian neighbors with impunity. With this financial incentive to kill Jews, the attacks only intensified (2). The feudal lords of the Alsace formally blamed Jews for the Black Death and adopted the “Benfeld Decree” which targeted Jews, singling them out for murder and calling for their expulsion from towns. This had an immediate effect as Jews in thirty communities were attacked (2).

The one hold-out to all the massacring was the city of Strasbourg. Strasbourg’s patrician class understood that Jews were important to their town’s economy–as they paid high taxes. So they had a financial interest in protecting their city’s Jews (2). But the citizens of the city had a desire to kill the Jews and see their own debts cancelled, or even to expropriate their property (3). The members of the city’s butchers and tanners guilds accused the three sympathetic patrician leaders, who would not round up the city’s Jews, of having been bribed by the Jews in return for protecting them. The citizens drove them from office (3).

Using these rumors that Jews had dreamed up the plague in order to poison Christians, the citizen-mob in Strasbourg, planned to full-on exterminate local Jews (to whom they owed massive debts). They designated February 14, St. Valentine’s Day, as the date on which they would execute Strasbourg’s entire Jewish population (1). The city’s Jews were given a choice of undergoing baptism or being killed. About half of them accepted conversion or left the city; the remainder were barricaded in the Jewish cemetery (3).  A number of about 2,000 Jews were burned alive on a platform in the local Jewish cemetery (1). Their murder took hours. Afterwards, eager townspeople combed through the smoldering ashes, not searching for survivors, but looking for valuables. There was primarily a financial motive for this enormous massacre.

A quote from von Konigshofen:

“…everything (all debt) that was owed to the Jews was cancelled… The council…took the cash that the Jews possessed and divided it among the working-men proportionately. The money was indeed the thing that killed the Jews. If they had been poor and if the feudal lords had not been in debt, they would not have been burnt” (2).

Strasbourg’s mob government and citizens faced no criticism. A few months later, they were officially pardoned for the killing of their town’s Jews and for stealing their money (2).

How do you close out a historical account of something so tragic and horrible? I can’t believe I had never heard of this massacre (genocide?) before. I will end just by reminding us to study our history, and remember that it repeats. People need to learn from mistakes of the past. Take proper precautions to prevent the spread of disease (and Covid-19!) even if it is inconvenient for you. Don’t fear, prepare. Accept all people, even if especially if they are different from you. Don’t hate, learn. See that money is not everything, and greed only causes ugliness. Don’t covet, volunteer. And also, just be decent human beings. Which you don’t need a holiday to tell you. Love every day, and don’t save affection for Valentine’s Day. You don’t need a reminder to love, nor should you remember to love on only one day of the year.

(1) https://www.southerndigest.com/article_3bcfe8ad-7fbf-5c6c-a400-46cde8907d8e.html#:~:text=Valentine’s%20Day%20is%20the%20traditional,the%20need%20to%20shun%20it.

(2) https://www.aish.com/jw/s/Horrific-Valentines-Day-Massacre-of-Jews.html

(3) https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/.premium-1349-a-valentine-s-day-massacre-1.5229805

We Are Getting Called Back into Physical Work :(

21 May

Even though we can do 100% of the job from home.  And we have been working from home just fine since March 15.  And we made production records.

Nothing has changed with the Covid pandemic since they had us work from home.  In fact, cases in Arizona are going up.

They are still adamant we must return to the building June 1st.

And our building is not conducive to reducing the risk of getting sick.  I am absolutely certain people will spread the virus.

We work in one open room.  157 on the claims side, then however many on the opposite side of the fairly open building in Customer Service.  Our cubicles are short, and management already said it would be too expensive to raise the walls.  As I complained here many times, I could already feel the cough/sneeze air of the gal in the cube behind me (because she doesn’t cover her shit).

The long hallways are open, kitchenettes with the water, microwaves, and refrigerators, are part of the big, open room and shared by most.  We all have to enter and leave by badging in and out of one central bottleneck.  There are 2 women’s bathrooms only with 5 stalls and 3 sinks.  They are crowded routinely.  We share them with the CSRs.  The janitor cleans the bathrooms twice daily, and when he does, he closes 1 of the bathrooms so the entire female claims and CSRs share 1 bathroom of 5 stalls and 3 sinks.

I am very concerned.  We already got many messages through the emergency system that someone in our building had been diagnosed with Covid-19 (this was toward the beginning of work from home).

Work says our health is the number 1 priority.  But I find that hypocritical since they’re dragging us back in with no justification in the middle of a global pandemic.

Leadership sent out a handout of the guidelines:

Do a self-survey and self temp check before entering the building (people are not careful, people lie, some carriers are asymptomatic)

Wear masks in common areas (except common areas got perverted to ‘not our big, open room where we all work and breathe for the majority of the day and there is recirculated AC.  Oh, and my supervisor diluted the manual’s instruction more by telling us that the masks are a recommendation, not a requirement)

Social distance and stay 6 feet apart (except the said our short cubicles are 6×6 so we’ll be the same distance as always.  And the bathrooms are going to be a bottleneck.  And the kitchenettes because so many of us have to share them.  And I’m worried leadership will come right to my desk to tell me things or help me with work.)

They said they’ll increase the air flow rate in the buildings they own.  (They don’t own our building.  Even if there is increased rate, it’s still a closed building, and the AC is still recirculated all day long as everyone breathes–without masks).

Work said they’re following federal, state, and CDC guidelines.  (Trump hasn’t really implemented any plan whatsoever, and he has ulterior motives to prioritize the economy over everything else so he can get reelected.  Our governor also prioritizes buisiness because the state ran out of money probably and he’s bought and paid for by corporations.  Our governor has already opened stores, malls, dine in restaurants, bars, gyms, pools, and casinos if that tells you where his priorities are.  And when people broke his recommendations by opening earlier, or having enormous groups with no health measures–he did nothing.  It was not enforced at all.  No fines, no orders to close down.  Nothing happened.  So we can’t depend on that douche to implement public health measures that are reasonable.  And the CDC has been politicized and muzzled, so their recommendations are weak and diluted.

So the federal isn’t doing anything for public health–they’re actively working against science and health measures.  Our red state is tired and inconvenienced and money over lives so no one is helping prevent the spread.  We are in a right to work state, so I have no protections if my work demands I go back–even if I feel unsafe doing so.  And I know even if I fight, they will say we’re essential health care workers so they really don’t have to make any accommodations at all to require us back in the building.  And obviously we HAVE to keep the job.  That’s not even close to an option.

But I don’t like it.

But I get so tired of capitalism and corporate interests jerking the little people around.  I want to have rights and a voice, and wish unions were mainstream.  We needed Elizabeth Warren to take care of some of this corruption and money over lives ideals that Americans just have to live by.  I want to feel safe at work.

I’m legit worried as soon as we step into work we will get the Covid-19.  So what was the point of us working from home at all, if we go back before the peak even hits the state?  I never thought moving to a red state might literally kill me…

Work From Home

11 May

My company is adamantly against letting any of us work from home–ever.  But this pandemic forced them to have to allow it.  Because we work in an open room with recirculated AC and the 157 claims people share 2 bathrooms (and they shut down 1 for cleaning twice daily making the whole building share 1 bathroom) with the call center people on the opposite side of the building.

So we’ve been working from home since March 15.

And I love everything about it:

-I sleep better because I don’t have that anticipatory wakefulness trying to make the schedule.

-I use less utilities because I shower every other day since no one will see my 2nd day greasy, slept-on hair.

-Getting ready for work is low maintenance, because I don’t have to adhere to dress code, put on makeup, fix my hair, or prepare the house and cats for being gone all day.

-I can open all the windows in the cool mornings to use less utilities later in the day on cooling, because I have more time to open them, then I’m home to close them up only when the temp = inside.

-I can work outside on the patio and get some fresh air.

-I don’t have to think about the public bathroom:

*do people think I’m going too frequently?

*are they shutting one or the other down for cleaning so they’re more crowded?

*It’s my rule to pee only in the bathroom–but sometimes that makes for an uncomfortable day.

*What if I have to make embarrassing sounds or smells?

*other people are disgusting and shameless in the bathroom.

*the bathroom is an unpleasant mess!

*Touching anything in there is gross

*it’s a rule of mine to get in and out of the bathroom as quick as possible!

*I don’t like to talk in the bathroom, because of what molecules are floating around–but coworkers and leadership find it socially unacceptable not to say anything…

*I spend a huge amount of my work day worrying about the public bathroom…

-I drink more water because it’s easier to get and see above.

-I save tons of time just eating from the fridge.  I don’t have to spend bunches of time on weekends meal prepping lunches to just grab and go.

-I can pet the kitties any old time I want to.  And fill their water, or top off their food during the day, instead of rushing around in the morning trying to remember, or forcing myself to do it when I’m tired at night.

-Between claims, I can just, say empty the dish drainer, and do little chores.  Instead of having to do it after work, after our workout, when I’m very tired.  Or on the weekends.

-I can have things delivered during the day.

-I don’t have to worry about interactions with my coworkers.

-I don’t have to worry about my coworkers spreading germs (this was a concern of mine even prior to covid, b/c the gal behind me does not cover her coughs or sneezes and I can feel the air on the back of my hair and neck).  Also, we have that recirculated air.

-I don’t have to see my jerk supervisor face to face or have any awkward in-person interactions with him.

-I don’t have to plan my time-table around traffic.  I don’t have the stress of driving with fucking idiots.  I don’t pay as much gas, and the wear and tear on our cars is less.

-Asking questions at work is much less stressful, because everyone has to do everything in writing (my preferred form of communication).  I used to get nervous to ask, nervous when people came to my desk, awkward about what to say when I didn’t have time to plan it or check it, and nervous about people sharing their germs.

-Meetings are better.  I could listen to the meeting while swiffering my floors.

-We can do sit-ups on our breaks, b/c nobody else will see us, and we’re not in our nice work clothes.

-We can dance for a couple min every hour b/c there is no chance for anyone to see us.

-We can dress in our workout clothes last break so we’re ready to start our workout right after we clock out.

-Since we start our workouts so much earlier without driving and changing, we are also finished much earlier.

-I am not nearly as tired or fatigued after working from home, probably because I wasn’t exhausted by all the social interactions and factors of the job.  I’m fretting and preoccupied a lot by other people and the schedule when I’m at physical work.  As a result, we do our cardio, strength, and abs every single day, instead of lazying out a couple times a week!

-I’m less tired and stressed in general.

-Our timeline is more relaxed, and as a result so am I.

-Because we are able to get more done throughout the work day and during the week, there is more leisure time on weekends.  Instead of all our logistics stacking up like usual.

 

Also, I don’t know why we can’t always work from home.  At the quarterly meeting, they said we made production records since we’ve worked from home.  I don’t see why corporations are always so hot on dragging their employees into a physical location when people enjoy having work:life balance.  And the traffic impacts are exponential.  I could see if we were screwing around, not making our numbers, and making tons more mistakes–but it’s the exact opposite.  Yet we are being called back in probably June 1st–which is too soon b/c AZ doesn’t peak until June 7.  I’m sure they’ll pull the “essential worker” card, even though we are fully capable of doing 100% of our work from home.

I wish I could work from home all the time, forever!

 

If You Think College is a Bubble of Equality–YOU’RE in a Bubble

5 May

I listen to podcasts all day (practically) at work, a lot of them news and current events.  Today, one of them was talking about universities having to go online after the coronavirus social distancing restrictions.

A professor was talking about how the college experience puts each student on an equal playing field:  They all live in the dorms, eat the same crummy cafeteria food, and make their own ecosystem in the classroom.  This professor talked about receiving an email from one of her students after distance learning was put in place that broke her heart.

Cut to an interview with the student.  She never thought she would attend college–had really no interest in it until a high school counselor saw her grades.  This adult saw the grades and encouraged the student to apply to a private college.  Because of her economic status and grades this student got a full ride scholarship to attend.  The interviewer asked how that felt.  The response:  Tepid at best (my opinion).  The interviewer asked what she knew about the school at the time she received her full scholarship:  “I Googled it after I got the letter.”  She went to the campus for her Freshman year, even joining the lacrosse team.

So after the university sent everyone home to engage in distance learning, this student writes her professor an email.  I’ll summarize best I can remember (the interviewer had her read the email aloud for the podcast and she cried throughout):

I’m so sorry.  I am not going to be able to finish this assignment on time.  I can’t concentrate.  My parents own a food truck and since the coronavirus hit, they can’t do business.  They’re thinking about applying for a loan, but it’s uncertain.  I might have to help, maybe, but we don’t know yet.  It’s difficult to complete an assignment when it might be for nothing.  I don’t have a desk, and there are distractions here.  I’m sorry.  I feel so guilty.

So that sounds bad.  But there is a list of things I have a problem with:

-She is on a full-ride scholarship!  Most students have to pay for their education.  I (vs. Mommy and Daddy paying) was responsible for funding my own tuition, so I had to take out loans.  Hardly anyone gets a free college experience.

-Her indifference to applying for college, dearth of knowledge about the school, participation in sports, and email asking for an extension really convey to me that school is not this gal’s priority.

-She was economically stable enough to participate in a sport.  And had to balance her studies with a sport.  This is a luxury.  Also, time-management.

-Who the fuck has a desk?!  I never did.  We work from home, and don’t have a desk.  You make it work.  Find a counter.  Balance your computer on a book.  Seriously–is she even trying?  Honestly, I wanted to tell her to put in some earbuds and focus up.

-A call B.S. on this story.  I’m going to go ahead and be cynical.  I’d be willing to bet this is a dramatized version of events (aka sob story) because a deadline was looming.  Nobody wants a bad grade, so a last ditch effort might be firing off an email to get an extension.  I would love to hear from teachers how common sob story emails asking for extensions are (during and prior to coronavirus).

-This gal’s parents might not be able to keep their business going.  But this is hardly a novel situation.  And it’s not new just because of coronavirus either.  Having a savings account is a rarity.  So, so many students come from a background with economic hardships.  And way worse than hers, too.

-I went on Twitter to remind everybody this is not a coronavirus problem, as the podcast let on.  Disparity has always gone on in every educational setting!  This is nothing new.  Every student except your white, middle to upper-class male has hardships and disparities.  I think it’s gross how many commentators were shocked and appalled that coronavirus has created disparities.  As if they haven’t been going on this whole time.  One (of many, many, many) current examples are the admissions scandals.  This has always happened!

-It’s offensive to me that people were wanting this girl’s particular contact info so they could financially help her.  I told a lot of them they should give instead to one of the many organizations that helps struggling students.  Because pre-coronavirus and now there are tons and tons of students facing numerous disparities, and they need help.  And yeah, a lot of them even finish their assignments on time!

 

2016 Reading List

23 Apr

It’s an older post I never finished, but I thought I would publish it because this might give ideas to people at home because of Coronavirus.

One of my big goals for 2016 is to read more.  Yes, textbooks and class notes, but also (and mostly) books for enjoyment and betterment.

 

Here is the big challenge list:

Click to access reading%20challenge%202016.pdf

I might stick to that, but I also have my own ideas as well.

 

Books I’m interested in trying:

-ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN

-GUNS GERMS & STEELE

-KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL

-SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE

-THE HINGER GAMES

-ONCE IN A GREAT CITY:  THE STORY OF DETROIT

-THE PENTAGON’S BRAIN

-jane eyre

-lord of the flies

-a passage to india

-gullivers travels

-the absolutely true story of a part time indian

-death of a salesman

-divergent

-the godfather

-THE MAZE RUNNER

-A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM

-THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST

-OUT OF THE DUST

-THE SCARLET LETTER

-THIRTEEN REASONS WHY

-UNCLE TOMS CABIN

-atonement

-the hunger games

-the road

-kite runner

-divergent

-the help

-the shining

-into the wild

-a clockwork orange

-shutter island

-the godfather

Against Own Interests

25 Mar

I have been talking shit on Twitter, because that’s all the action (aside from voting when it’s time) that I can do about this pandemic/economic situation.  Arizona’s Governor has now not only refused to shut down (reasonable) non-essential businesses–he blocked mayors and other local governments from doing it.

viperfish

He sent out a list of essential businesses that would stay open:  All the things you would expect such as health care and residential (LTC) homes, grocery, gas, and charity.  But also schools and day cares, ride-sharing, real estate, hotels/motels.  Golf courses, pawn shops, gun stores, laundry services.  Which of course, is fucking ridiculous.

And because both our Governor and our Federal Government are pretending this Coronavirus pandemic is just another flu, the residents of AZ are not taking it seriously and modifying their behavior for the most part.  And they have a false sense of security because Arizona’s positive tests are relatively low.  What people aren’t accounting for is that tests can’t be positive if they aren’t given.  The state’s testing parameters are you must have traveled internationally or come into direct contact with someone who has.  And you have to be sick to the point of requiring a respirator.  So, in short, not many people.  Arizona isn’t testing hardly anybody that has just all symptoms.

komodo 5

Also according to China, 1/3 of the people who had positive results, were asymptomatic.  And on the cruise ship that had all the positives, half of those that tested positives were asymptomatic.  Meaning, even people that think they’re healthy are spreading Coronavirus.  One other scary conclusion from that Princess whatever cruise ship:  All the passengers were off the ship for 16 days.  And cleaning had not commenced.  Scientists were swabbing cabins for signs of the virus.  And they did find live virus.  SIXTEEN days after passengers had disembarked.  The virus lived on surfaces for over 2 weeks!

So I’m frustrated with the people consuming Fox news and Trump briefings and taking it as truth.  Believing it to everyone’s detriment.  And endangering us all.  I don’t understand why people would support politicians that go against their own interests.  News Flash–Arizona has an old population.  And a lot of these seniors are the ones drinking the republican kool-aid, which endangers their life.  I just don’t get it…

Politicization of Pandemic

23 Mar

I want to catalog everything that’s going on, because it’s not every day you live through a global pandemic.  But the news is coming so fast and it’s just an overwhelming amount, and so much of it is questionable (maybe or maybe not based in fact) so it’s too difficult to say everything.

hope fear

I can tell you I’m scared our work will make us go to the physical location too soon.  And they can do that even with a shelter in place order (which AZ doesn’t have & probably won’t get) because we are in the healthcare industry.  Which along with military, media, etc is exempt from shelter in place.

I’m worried because we work in one big room with 200+ people in it.  Low cubicle walls, no real barriers.  The air is recycled.  We share 2 bathrooms with even more people–the customer service reps inhabit the entire other side of the building and use the same bathrooms.  And I can always hear people coughing and sneezing, all the times.  So I’m worried.

I intuitively knew that even though everyone was touting wash your hands, wash your hands, that it isn’t enough.  Because even for regular colds and flues, if someone coughs or sneezes or breathes on you it’s in the air and you breath the germs.  And sure enough, research is coming out that the virus lives in air for 3 hours!  Not to mention on surfaces for hours and days depending on the type.

So I want to continue to work from home.  And I’m angry at anything that threatens that:

 

America’s capitalism– big business, stocks, and making money always gets prioritized above all else in this country.

Trump–  he has ulterior motives to make the economy look good so he’s trying to downplay the severity of this virus, limit testing so the stats don’t look as bad, lying about mitigating solutions because he wants to sweep this under the rug quickly but prior to this pandemic got rid of all the experts who could do that.

Republicans– because it’s always money with them.  They want to bail out big corporations, and signal to people this isn’t a big deal, just go on with business as usual (aka get back to work to make $$$).

Doug Ducey– who is a Trump lackey so is also trying to downplay the virus to help business.  He wouldn’t order a statewide closure of non-essential businesses like bars and restaurants.  He doesn’t wanna hurt the economy even though it’s inevitable, AZ’s population is old and there are a lot of multi-generational families here, and lives should come before money.

stupid/sheep/republican/ignorant/callous/etc people– the ones who are not changing their behavior at all and are probably directly spreading it by going out sick, or indirectly by going about their regular routines as asymptomatic carriers.  These are the people that are going to spread the virus to everyone, and I hate their inability to use reason and logic and not be in denial and/or selfish.

My work– because wash your hands just won’t cut it, and I suspect they know that but will prioritize productivity over our health.

opposing parties

So far we have 1-2 more weeks of work from home, but I’m dreading that they’ll call us back to the building despite the science…

Disaster Song

19 Mar

Trump is a loser

I never wanted him

Hillary thought we should choose her

sexism is ultimately why she lost the prelim

 

so many mistakes, ineptitude

obvious personality disorder-narcissistic

the dude can’t read, we are screwed

worse than that he’s fascistic

 

Trump pretended the pandemic wasn’t happening

he doesn’t understand basic economics

America’s reputation blackening

closer and closer to using atomics

 

Now here we are, all alone

coronavirus threatening

everyone barricaded in their home

U.S. will have our reckoning

 

And as we hide from this disease

our businesses must close the doors

republicans blame the Chinese

it won’t stop the multiplication of corpse