Yes, I am starting a list for those who want to be in my new membership group – the one for people who are serious about building alternative systems to the one that is falling down around us. (See below. Also, I forgot to mention in that post, both protection and justice. Those need new systems too, and will be part of our discussions.)
If you'd like to be on this list, please just email me. You can find my email at the "email me" link to the right of this post - or... right here: BretigneATgmailDOTcom.
I've been saying for years now that the most important thing we can do – those of us who care about liberty and about having a free society to live in – is to build the foundations of that society now. Not to complain about the increasingly authoritarian society we find ourselves in, but to build its replacement.
For me, this is especially true in the realm of what most of us call "social services": Caring for the most vulnerable, education, and health care. (For some background as to how the state has stifled private solutions in these areas, see my video on Sanctuary Jurisdictions for Medical Freedom.) And, as I just got home from five weeks in the hospital with our daughter, dealing with her seizures, the need for solutions here is especially fresh for me.
Now, halfway into 2021, and amid the wreckage that has been wrought – in healthcare, in education, and in the lives of the most vulnerable among us – this focus is needed more than ever. For me, that means that it is time to stop talking and start building.
So I am going to be putting my podcast on hold – not stopping it entirely, but I will no longer commit to producing an episode each week. If something comes up, and especially if it is directly related to what I am building, then I will put out the occasional episode. The same goes for my writing and blogging generally.
What will I be doing instead? A few things, starting with creating a small, Private-Membership-Association school, and with laying the groundwork for a self-sustaining home and community for those with intellectual disabilities that require them to have support and care throughout their lives.
There will be many pieces to this larger project, including healthcare, therapy, vocational training, and hopefully the incorporation of elder care. Ultimately, we will be looking for other like-minded entrepreneurs to partner with us.
And of course, these projects are part of a much bigger picture. I'm not the only one who realizes that this is what we need to be doing. All over the world, people are looking into and starting intentional communities, Private Membership Associations, and other structures for carving out spaces where people can live as they choose. There has long been a need for this, but after the sudden (it wasn't really all that sudden) takeover of our lives by authoritarian overlords, the need has become urgent.
So we need to be talking with each other. I don't mean that we all need to agree about precisely what our solutions will look like, or even have a shared grand vision. Only that we share the core principle of human liberty, and a desire to connect, support each other, share ideas, and in some cases collaborate.
To this end, I will be starting a membership group for people who are serious about building free societies. If you have created, or are looking to create, a PMA, a mutual-aid society, a "sanctuary for freedom" city, any kind of alternative healthcare or health insurance project, an organic food co-op or network, homeschooling co-op, or are serious about creating any kind of alternative support system and/or society that respects individual liberty, then this might be the group for you.
Basic membership will be free. Later, I will probably add a paid membership option, for things like webinars with people with expertise in these areas, and maybe training sessions. I will keep everyone posted as it develops, and should have something in place by mid July.
Finally, thank you to everyone who has been listening to "What Then Must We Do?" I promise the podcast will be back full-time, at some point in the future. For now, though, I need to focus on building.
I had a fantastic conversation with Don Boudreaux earlier today. I've got a backlog of episodes to put up, so this one won't be up for another week or so, but I promised I'd send him something, so here it is:
Last summer, the mayor of Los Angeles declared that ALL fireworks in the city of LA were illegal. Was there an actual law to go along with that declaration? I don't know. Does it even matter anymore? After more than a year of this, it's clear that the vast majority of Californians are happy to live under a dictatorship.
...or ARE they?
Watch this, if you haven't already. It remains one of the most beautiful sights from all of 2020:
A year ago today, I posted my first ever podcast episode. The state I live in had just "locked down" vast swathes of our lives, and my guest was the fantastic Jeff Tucker, of the American Institute for Economic Research. Since then, Jeff has distinguished himself as one of the most outspoken and articulate opponents of the lockdowns and other draconian restrictions, and I am honored to have had him as my first guest, and honored that he continues to grace my show with his presence from time to time.
You can listen to that interview here. Or watch it here:
I remember that day vividly. I was actually feeling physically ill that morning. Not because I was sick, but I think because the enormity of what had been going on for several weeks already, culminating in the Soviet-style shutting down of businesses and normal activities across my state, had suddenly hit me on a physical level. And it was so encouraging just to talk with one more person who recognized the insanity of it all - as well as the gravity of what was being done and what it would mean for so many people months and even years down the line.
It still is encouraging. One of my goals in starting my podcast - which I had dreamed up many months before "all of this" started - was to provide a place where those of us who recognize the danger of the state can connect, share ideas, and feel a little less alone. It's still not as interactive as I'd like to make it (maybe I'll start going live in the coming year and inviting some audience participation?) but from the feedback I'm getting, "What Then Must We Do?" is doing a little something toward this end.
So, Happy Birthday to "WTMWD"! And a heartfelt thanks to all of my listeners who make it worth doing, and of course to my wonderful guests. I know it's still rough around the edges, and yes I do plan to record an intro. soon and even add some music. Who knows, maybe I'll even figure out a real backdrop and a way to keep the chickens quiet. But all in all, I think the content itself has been pretty awesome if I do say so myself. So thanks again, get ready for some incredible guests and topics in the coming months, and if you haven't already signed up for updates, please do so here!
I've been avoiding joining Tom Woods' online group of supporting listeners for years now. Not because I have anything against Tom Woods, I don't - he is one of the best, and most prolific, advocates for liberty, and one of the few sane voices (sadly, even among libertarians) in these crazy times. But I didn't want one more reason to spend time on social media. I've been doing a good job of cutting back on that and didn't want to fall off the wagon.
But today I saw this, from his daily newsletter:
Someone introduced himself to my private group, the Tom Woods Show Elite, this week with the following:
"Last year my daughter Abigail was born a few days before the lockdowns started in Massachusetts. She was diagnosed with an incredibly rare genetic disorder called CHARGE syndrome (a little less than 1 in 100,000), which has a 40% survival rate. Once the lockdowns kicked in it was literally illegal for me and my wife to see or be by our preemie daughter, who was convulsing in painful uncontrollable spasms for months, and on the brink of death.
"Eventually the lockdowns "relaxed" so one of us could visit our daughter once daily for a generous two hours. I cannot put into words how traumatic it is to have a daily conversation with your wife about who gets to spend the potentially last day ever with your baby girl. Thankfully she survived after multiple surgeries, but is blind (compared to death that is a blessing). However, developmental services for special needs children in Massachusetts have been deemed a "nonessential service."
"We have been lucky to have secured some in-person OT visits with our daughter, but it has been criminally illegal in our state to have critical in-person visits with developmental specialists to help our daughter overcome challenges associated with her disabilities. She is months behind and will face permanent developmental delays because of the lockdowns set forth by our lovely Republican governor.
"I joined this legendary group to share my personal COVID tragedy, which is unfortunately one of millions, to a sympathetic group of like-minded individuals. I'm finishing up my public health PhD at [institution removed by TW], and am a political science professor at a state school up in Massachusetts, so I'm sure you can imagine how I'm surrounded by COVID doomers 24/7. Tom Woods literally gave me the strength to look death straight in the eye last year and overcome it, so I will be forever grateful."
Many of you know that our daughter also has a rare genetic condition - although not as rare as this one. Our daughter has Dup15Q, and when she was born, she spent several weeks in the NICU and a few more in a less intensive ward. It was several days before my husband talked me into going home to get some sleep, and I still feel guilty for any of that time that I didn't spend holding her. I can't even imagine what these parents had to go through - only, I sort of can.
One of the main reasons I've stayed on FaceBook has been my special-needs parent groups. As awful as FaceBorg is, it is a great platform for groups (as long as those groups aren't about the things FB's masters don't want you to talk about.) But I have a really hard time visiting those groups now. I have a very hard time looking at the pictures my friends and others are posting of their developmentally disabled children wearing masks. Or bragging about how they just gave their - already neurologically compromised - child the Covid-19 vaccine.
These are people I love. And I love their kids. And I feel that there is nothing I can say that will make a dent in this. That I just have to watch as so many families "trust the experts" and go along with the madness. And I just can't watch it.
So I'm heading over to Tom's group - on MeWe of course. Maybe you'll want to join me there.
Oh, and some of you also know that even before the pandemic nonsense, I had been working on a plan for developing independent, mutual-aid-style homes and communities for those with special needs. If anything, the pandemic has rendered this even more urgent, and requires thinking about it on a much much bigger scale. I've put together a (draft) video presentation that lays the groundwork for my solution - and it's not only limited to special-needs care. There are practical ways for us to build free societies now, and we need to start doing that.
You can check that out here (remember, it's just a first draft.)
Just a quick update: A couple of days after Christmas, we had to take our daughter into the hospital because she was having non-stop seizures. I'll have more to say about that, but for now I'll just say this: It was heartening to be reminded that there are legions of really good, competent, caring and hard-working people stuck inside an increasingly dysfunctional system. It is long past time for a change to that system, and when we change it, it won't only be for us–the consumers of healthcare–but for them, the producers, too.
Anyway, we were there for 12 days, her seizures are mostly under control now with some powerful meds, one of which comes off in a few weeks, and the other one hopefully soon too. Then we need to come up with our next plan.
Needless to say, I haven't been blogging or podcasting during that time, although I have been taking lots of notes, and I've got lots of guests planned. I'll be catching up on things over the next couple of weeks, but should get my next episode–my first one of 2021–up near the end of January.
Until then, thanks for listening and for reading, I'm still posting a bit on Twitter (mostly things for myself, to go back and look at later), MeWe, and (once it's up again) Parler. And if you're feeling crappy about where things are right now, just go and watch some J.P. Sears. Oh and read Annabel Pickering & the Sky Pirates. It's not just for kids you know.
And don't feel crappy. Because 2021 is going to be an amazing year for freedom. You'll see.
"We deserve to live peaceably as neighbors," says Jeff Deist, "even if that means breaking up and creating new political entities." The divisions in our society are undeniable. Is it possible that making them official is the best way forward?
Jeff's article "What Will It Take for Americans to Consider Breaking Up?" is here.
I talk a lot about the evils of centralized control, and have had several guests on to talk about it too. But I think that unless you've experienced it firsthand, it's hard to fully appreciate what that means.
In this episode, I speak with a woman who grew up in Hungary when it was under Communist rule. She describes what it is like to live under a centralized power, of what it means for each individual in that system and the impact it has on every aspect of one's life.
If you (or maybe someone you know) still don't get why some of us are up in arms over "just a mask" or the other violations of fundamental human rights that so many are so comfortable with... you might want to listen to this one.
I don’t have any grandchildren yet. But if I ever do, I want them to understand what it is we went through during this time in history, and even more, to understand how it is that we got here. So this is for them:
I first learned about “cults” when I was 13, the age my son is now. I watched with fascination as the horrific events of the Jonestown mass suicide/murder were revealed to the world. I paid close attention to the story, clipped all the newspaper articles about it, and imagined scenarios in which I would find a way to hide until everyone was dead or gone, and save myself–and my family, if they were there too–had I been there.
What didn’t occur to me at the time was that, had I been there–had I uprooted my life to go and join this group of people in the jungles of Guyana, had I been in the frame of mind to go along with everything they did leading up to the events of November 18, 1978 (including practice runs for the mass suicide)–then chances are, I would have willingly stood in a circle with my friends and drunk the cyaninde-laden Kool-Aid as so many others did.
And that is what is so puzzling, and so fascinating, about cults. From the outside, we can’t imagine why those people would have done those things. What could possibly drive otherwise normal people to act in ways that seem not only insane, but counter to their own interests–in the case of Jonestown, counter to their most fundamental instinct for self preservation?
What could get someone to be willing to sacrifice their own life, and the lives of the people they love?
I hope to provide some insight into this question, as I find myself now, at the end of the year 2020, living in the midst of what I can only describe as a massive, dangerous, and self-destructive cult.
SO WHAT IS A CULT?
Teri Buford O’Shea escaped from Jonestown only a few weeks before the mass suicide and murder. She defines a cult this way:
“A cult is when you aren’t allowed to see your friends or family…I’m talking about total isolation – someone takes all your money and brings you to a place where there’s no communication, or if there is you aren’t allowed to use it.”
Cult deprogrammer Steven Hassan created the BITE model to explain some of the key elements that cults employ to control their members:
Behavior Control: An individual’s associations, living arrangements, food, clothing, sleeping habits, finances, etc., are strictly controlled.
Information Control: Cult leaders deliberately withhold or distort information, lie, propagandize, and limit access to other sources of information.
Thought Control: Cult leaders use loaded words and language, discourage critical thinking, bar any speech critical of cult leaders or policies, and teach an “us vs. them” doctrine.
Emotional Control: Leaders manipulate their followers via fear (including the fear of losing salvation, fear of shunning, etc.), guilt, and indoctrination.
Reading both O’Shea’s definition, and Hassan’s BITE components in 2020, it is striking to me the extent to which all of these things have been inflicted upon Americans over the past eight months:
Isolation and the intimate control of our activities and relationships, in the form of forced social distancing, the closing of businesses and schools, and most cruelly, the isolation of the elderly and others in care homes; taking money, or in our case, destroying the source of income and livelihood for millions of people in this country;control of communication and information, through what has now become overtcensorship, with hints that some forms of communication may be shut down entirely; emotional manipulation through the shaming of those who do not go along with the diktat of the day, and other tactics; and an authoritarian thought-control regime, where critical thinking on the part of individuals is ridiculed, views that contradict those of the leaders are actively censored, and intellectual debate is replaced by “us vs. them” tribal warfare.
It is this last part that gets to the heart of it. To me, the essence of a “cult” is that it provides an external replacement, a substitute, for one’s own power of reasoning and moral judgement. It demands blind obedience to this substitute, and punishes harshly anyone who dissents from its pronouncements.
I wrote this six years ago, but I think the issues I raise here are more relevant than ever:
I wouldn’t have expected a conference on therapy for children with autism and related disorders to have much to say about politics, but in a country where the state’s tentacles reach into pretty much every aspect of human life, I should have known better.
My daughter is developmentally disabled and I am pursuing more child-centered therapies for her than the more widely recognized ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) method, so last fall I attended the DIR Floortime Conference on Floortime, a more play-based form of therapy.
As soon as I walked in, I was struck by two phrases: “Parent Choice” and “Advocacy.” I was pretty sure that “Parent Choice” wasn’t going to mean what I hoped it would mean. So I asked someone who was wearing a big button with the phrase on it, and found that indeed, “Parent Choice” in this context simply refers to having the “choice” to force your insurance company to pay for alternative therapies in addition to the more established ABA method.
The issue revolves around a bill that was passed in 2011, SB 946, that mandates insurance coverage for developmental therapies to treat autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder. However, either due to the way the bill was written or to the way it has been interpreted – and with much thanks to the ABA lobby – the insurance codes only apply to ABA therapy and not to alternatives. So now the DIR/Floortime lobby is rallying to change that. Of course, as someone who doesn’t believe in forcing other people to give me anything, I couldn’t support this kind of “choice”, but I just smiled and moved on.
As it turned out, the guest of honor at the conference’s gala dinner was Dr. Louis Vismara, senior policy consultant to California Senator Darrell Steinberg, the author of SB 946. Dr. Vismara spoke on the first morning of the conference and assured parents that he would work hard to get the problem fixed so that parents could also force their insurance companies to pay for Floortime therapy. There was much applause.
There were other concerns too. Some parents had felt the effects of state budget cuts and had to struggle to get the services they needed for their children. Dr. Vismara sympathized with these concerns and stressed the importance of being active in “advocating” for their children. He said that, in the world of public policy, “you’re either at the table or you’re on the menu.”
He ended his talk by urging parents to get involved in the political process, and to contact his office with any practical proposals. “If a specific problem is identified and there is a solution”, he said, then that solution has a “strong chance” of being implemented.
I had identified a specific problem and had a solution in mind. So at the end of his talk, I went up to him and asked him about it.
I speak with my sister, Gretchen Wahlstedt, about her experiences with Non-Violent Communication, what that actually means, and the role it can play in the fight for liberty. We also talk about the current state of civil (or not-so-civil) discourse, and whether anything can be done to bridge the growing divisions between people in 2020 America.
This photo is actually from a year ago yesterday. My dad had gone into ER because (we later found out) he had a stress fracture in his knee. He was able to stand, and even walk, so they sent him home, but the next day–a year ago today–he couldn't stand, and went into the hospital. We didn't know it then, but he was leaving his home for the last time. From the hospital, he went into rehab, to build his strength while his knee healed.
What we didn't know was that his cancer was progressing very fast. And on Christmas night, he was taken from rehab back to the hospital. Four days later he passed away, with all of us with him.
I hate that my dad is gone. I wish we could have had him for many more years. But given that he is gone, there are some things I am grateful for about his passing:
1. I am grateful that we didn't know how bad his cancer was, or that he was dying. That's a weird thing for me to say, because normally I want all the information I can get and I am deeply opposed to deception. (And I don't mean that anyone deceived us here, just that we didn't know.) But this time... I'm glad we didn't know. I'm glad that we were able to honestly sit there with him and tell him that the plan was to get him stronger so we could bring him home;
2. I'm beyond grateful that my family lives here, in the same town as my parents, and that I was able to visit him nearly every day that he was in rehab. I am so grateful for the time I had with him, even though I still kick myself for not spending more time with him;
3. I am grateful that I told him, after he had been in rehab for well over a month, and was getting very tired of being there, that nobody could force him to stay there and if he really wanted to come home we would make that happen. He said no, that he thought the best plan was to stay there and work with the therapists to get stronger. But I am so glad I got to tell him that–it would have haunted me forever if I hadn't;
4. I am grateful that we were able to resolve all of our shit well before he died, and that there was nothing left unsaid between us;
5. And I am grateful that he told me how much he appreciated my being there for him those last few months. I didn't think he needed to say it at the time, and was almost offended that he thought he did. But it matters now and I'm so glad he said it.
When we took my dad into ER, a year ago yesterday, my mom started doing her qi gong in the hospital–to hold herself together, I'm sure. I got some pictures of her, and this is one of them. I love these pictures. They say so much about their relationship, and about each of them as individuals. About how they were each very different from each other, on different paths and with very different focuses in life, yet still so deeply connected.
Losing my dad was really hard. It is still really hard. It wasn't long after he left us that "it" all started "coming down"–just like he'd spent our whole lives telling us it would. And if he had gone into the hospital, and into rehab, only a few months later than he did, our experience would have been very very different.
I get that the elderly are the most at risk from Covid-19. Just as they are from a host of other infectious pathogens that entire economies haven't been destroyed over. And I get that that risk–for them, not for the rest of us–seems to be worse than for flu and other corona viruses. But none of that justifies how this has been handled. None of that justifies shutting people away and not allowing them to see their loved ones in their last months, weeks, or days of life.
I agree that measures should be taken to protect the elderly from Covid-19 (and from other things that might kill them, including loneliness and despair). But if isolating them in that way is the best that the people making these decisions could come up with, then they have failed so miserably that they should never again be allowed to have responsibility for anything beyond–possibly–dressing themselves. Everyone involved in coming up with, and enforcing, these decisions should be so deeply ashamed as to be placed on suicide watch for a good long time.
I can't even imagine, and don't want to, what our last two months with our dad would have been like had he gone into the hospital today instead of a year ago today. He hated being in that place. He chose it, because he thought it was the best way for him to build up his strength, but he did not like being there. The only thing that kept him going was being able to see his people every day. I don't even want to think about what a nightmare it would have been for him, and for us, knowing how miserable and alone he was every day, or the guilt and pain we would have to live with forever after he died.
What has been committed here is a crime. Call it a crime against humanity, or call it a crime against a whole lot of people, but it is a crime and we need to call it that. And one day, the people responsible for this crime will be held accountable.
I speak with unschooling mom and homeschooling advocate Kerry McDonald about an upcoming 4-day webinar to help inspire teens' inner entrepreneurs – and about why it is more critical than ever that we encourage our teens to find ways to create and to contribute now.
We also talk about Halloween...
FEE's "Entrepreneur Week" is Nov. 16-19, and is FREE. You can sign up here.
Kerry's book, "Homeschooling in the Time of Covid-19" is available for download here.
Her article "How our Culture Disempowers Teens", from last year, is here.
And her recent article on the Halloween bans is here.
This is a video that by some miracle is still up on YouTube. It is in German, and maybe that's why it's still up. It is a video of a German neurologist, Dr. Margarite Griesz-Brisson MD, PhD, explaining that wearing masks for any extended period of time can cause permanent brain damage.
There's a translation here (which I can't personally vouch for as I don't speak German), and a partial transcript here.
(UPDATE: Now here, because the account for the link I posted earlier has been "...archived or suspended for a violation of our Terms of Service" - WordPress. You all are paying attention now, right? You're starting to physically copy and save anything you see online that might be important because you know it may not be there the next time you look for it. Right?)
From that transcript:
“The rebreathing of our exhaled air will without a doubt create oxygen deficiency and a flooding of carbon dioxide. We know that the human brain is very sensitive to oxygen depravation. There are nerve cells for example in the hippocampus, that can’t be longer than 3 minutes without oxygen – they cannot survive. The acute warning symptoms are headaches, drowsiness, dizziness, issues in concentration, slowing down of the reaction time – reactions of the cognitive system.
"...The second problem is that the nerve cells in your brain are unable to divide themselves normally. So in case our governments will generously allow as to get rid of the masks and go back to breathing oxygen freely again in a few months, the lost nerve cells will no longer be regenerated. What is gone is gone.
"For children and adolescents, masks are an absolute no-no. Children and adolescents have an extremely active and adaptive immune system and they need a constant interaction with the microbiome of the Earth. Their brain is also incredibly active, as it is has so much to learn. The child’s brain, or the youth’s brain is thirsting for oxygen. The more metabolically active the organ is, the more oxygen it requires. In children and adolescents every organ is metabolically active.
"To deprive a child’s or an adolescent’s brain from oxygen, or to restrict it in any way, is not only dangerous to their health, it is absolutely criminal. Oxygen deficiency inhibits the development of the brain, and the damage that has taken place as a result CANNOT be reversed.
Dr. Griesz-Brisson is not the only one saying this.
In March, a study of healthcare workers in Singapore found that "(m)ost healthcare workers develop de novo PPE‐associated headaches or exacerbation of their pre‐existing headache disorders" after increased (mandated) PPE usage, including wearing N95 masks. This repeats the findings of a similar study done in 2003, and another study from 2008 found that surgeons experienced a decrease in oxygen saturation levels after the first hour of wearing a surgical mask.
As Dr. Griesz-Brisson points out, headaches can be one symptom of oxygen deprivation. And while these studies involved the use of N95 masks and surgical masks, not cloth masks, I have heard anecdotally from several people who wear masks to go shopping, etc. that doing so gives them headaches and can cause lightheadedness and a drop in O2 levels (yes, one friend measured this.) So while it is technically true that these studies were not done using cloth masks, I am pretty confident that one would get the same results if they were.
There are other studies showing some of the harm that face masks can cause, including immunosuppression. I won't go into all of them here, but am providing a few links in case anyone wants to look at them.
Meanwhile, in early September, a group of 70 doctors in Belgium wrote an open letter to the Flemish Minister of Education, calling on him to "abolish mandatory mouth mask at school." The doctors argued that forcing masks on children hampered their development and would cause serious problems for them.
In recent months, the general well-being of children and young people has come under severe pressure. We see in our practices an increasing number of children and young people with complaints due to the rules of conduct that have been imposed on them. We diagnose anxiety and sleep problems, behavioral disorders and fear of contamination. We are seeing an increase in domestic violence, isolation and deprivation. Many lack physical and emotional contact; attachment problems and addiction are obvious. ‘
The mandatory mouth mask in schools is a major threat to their development. It ignores the essential needs of the growing child. The well-being of children and young people is highly dependent on the emotional connection with others. (…) The aim of education is to create an optimal context so that a maximum development of young people is possible. The school environment must be a safe practice field. The mouth mask obligation, on the other hand, makes the school a threatening and unsafe environment, where emotional connection becomes difficult.
But, as with mandatory vaccines, doesn't every parent have a duty to put their own child in harm's way in order to potentially protect others?
To put it bluntly: No.
However, for those who are genuinely worried about the harm you might be causing to others by not wearing a mask, or by not putting a mask on your child, take heart: It really does look like–with a few very specific exceptions–wearing a mask is not going to help anyone else, and in fact could be helping to spread the virus.
And, as many epidemiologists and others have been saying from the beginning of all of this, it does not make sense to try to isolate an entire population from a new virus in the first place. The way that humans have always dealt with new pathogens is to interact with them and develop immunity to them. More and more doctors and scientists are speaking out about this now.
But getting back to the mask efficacy issue, here are some links to articles that explain why I say that the masks aren't going to help prevent the spread of the virus (if you think that's a worthy goal in the first place):
This is a very good piece from Jeremy Hammond, back in June, examining the mask efficacy issue, including a discussion of the specific situations in which they may help prevent transmission. (I spoke with Jeremy about masks on my podcast in June.)
This is a wonderful piece from Roger Koops, who has a Ph.D in chemistry, and is the author of several papers on pharmaceutical technology and chemistry. He goes into painstaking detail here, to explain how serious PPE masking works, and how cloth masks interact with viruses. It is well worth reading the entire piece, although I will warn you that you won't come away with any false sense of security regarding cloth masks and viruses intact.
This letter from Patricia Neuenschwander details many of the reasons that healthy people should not be wearing masks, and includes links to studies supporting what she says. She includes a reference to this study from the Chicago School of Public Health, which says:
"We do not recommend requiring the general public who do not have symptoms of COVID-19-like illness to routinely wear cloth or surgical masks because:
There is no scientific evidence they are effective in reducing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission..."
And finally, (it's not really "finally" because there's a lot I'm not including here) the folks at Rational Ground have put together some illuminating graphs that shed light on the effect (rather, non-effect) that mask mandates have had where implemented. You can see those here.
They have also created a phenomenal interactive tool that looks at mask use by location, against Covid-19 cases and deaths. I really recommend taking a look.
In fact, because I know that some of you won't take a look, I'm going to post a few sample results from that tool, as well as some of their graphs.
I don't really know what else to say. Except that every time I see a post from one of my parent friends, about how they are getting their child to wear their mask, I just want to weep. Especially when it is a parent of a child with special needs. Our kids are already "harmed" developmentally. They don't need more harm done to their brains through oxygen deprivation. And certainly not for a cause for which there is little if any justification.
As always, I welcome any information that counters any of what I have posted here. I would especially love to be wrong about the harm that masks can cause to children. Because I know that no matter what I or others say on the topic, there will be countless parents who still decide to put masks on their kids.
It's hard to choose one image, or juxtaposition of images, that best sums up the state of California at the end of summer, 2020.
Is it the eight-year-old girl's birthday party being broken up by a long line of police officers, or the lone paddleboarder arrested out in the ocean for violating social-distancing orders? While only two months later, violent mobs tore through Los Angeles, obstructing traffic, destroying businesses and burning buildings?
Is it Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claiming that she was "set up" when she went to have her hair done at a salon—an activity she has complicit in prohibiting for ordinary citizens—or some of Governor Newsom's wineries remaining open while wineries and other businesses outside of Napa were ordered closed over Fourth of July weekend?
Or maybe it's just the recent uptick in the throngs of people who have been steadily making their way out of the state for well over a decade.
The people who rule over the state of California—and yes, "rule" is the correct word—may be ridiculous, but they are not harmless. And they are waging open political warfare on everyone living in the state.
Is there anything we can do to stop them? Read on to find out...
Our son has a summer camp that he has gone to for the past several years now. He absolutely loves it, and it really is one of the things he most looks forward to each year.
This year, the people running the camp really did try to keep it going, even if only for part of the summer. But for whatever combination of reasons (lockdown "restrictions", and the fears of other families, etc.) they were unable to. I cried when I got the email.
A few days ago, they sent out an email asking for parents to voice any concerns they might have about coming back in the summer of 2021.
Here is my reply (I've changed the name of the camp). I am posting it here in case it is helpful as a guide or template for others who might want to correspond with their children's schools or camps, etc.:
We love, love, love Camp Wilderness Adventure. It is one of the things our son most looks forward to every year. So we were heartbroken when there was no camp this year, although we understand why you had to make the decision you did.
Our main concern now regarding next summer is that there might be restrictions in place that would either prohibit our son from attending, or would make the experience significantly less than what it has been in the past.
Again, we understand the position you are in: You have to deal with both state government orders (which, as many have pointed out, are NOT laws, and the governor of California does not have the lawful power to dictate to businesses the conditions under which they may operate), and with the fears and preferences of many different families. Of course you cannot build your business around the preferences of a single family, and we understand that.
However, since you asked, we do want to let you know what our preferences and concerns are:
1. We are not at all concerned about our son contracting Covid-19. All the available evidence shows that this virus does not pose a serious risk to young people. Children in particular, are more at risk from common influenza viruses. Should he become infected, we would keep him isolated from any elderly or vulnerable people in our lives;
2. We are very concerned about the social isolation our son is currently experiencing, as well as about the kinds of restrictions that are being put forward as the "new normal" for children in schools and other settings. To be very very clear: We have no interest at all in these restrictions. We find them dehumanizing, psychologically damaging, and in some cases dangerous to children's health. And given our first point, above, they are also completely unnecessary;
3. Some government and public health authorities are saying that these measures will have to be in place until there is a vaccine for SARS-Cov-2. Without going into all of the problems that are surfacing about this particular vaccine, let us be absolutely clear that under no circumstances will we be having our son vaccinated. So if this becomes a condition of his attendance at Camp Wilderness Adventure, then he will not be able to attend. Again, this would be heartbreaking for him and for us;
4. We understand that it must seem as if all of these restrictions and conditions are being imposed upon you and there is nothing you can do about them. But that is not true. Many people, including business owners, ARE fighting the orders that have already been imposed, and are planning to fight any future orders. We can provide information about some of these people, and resources, if you are interested.
Again, we understand that you are operating a business and that you must satisfy the needs and preferences of a wide range of different people. And we understand that there is a lot of fear out in the world right now around this virus. We believe that that fear is unwarranted, especially in the realm of children's and young people's activities. And we are committed to helping to educate about this and to combatting the fear, so that everyone's children can go back to having normal childhoods, to being around other children and to not being taught that it is normal to fear other people. We are not alone. Just last week, a group of highly esteemed scientists came out with a statement–the Great Barrington Declaration–saying essentially what we have said here: That the lockdowns were misguided, that the vast majority of the population–including children–should be able to get back to their normal lives, and that only the elderly or otherwise vulnerable need to be protected.
We understand that you have a business to keep alive, and we are in no position to tell you how to do that. However we also feel that there is something critically important at stake here. How we interact with each other, how our children learn and play, the very foundations of human interaction and human society are being turned upside down, and for no good reason. We do not know what your opinions or beliefs about that are, but we hope that you will choose to do what you believe is right, and not just what is expedient or the least troublesome.
Thank you for your time, and for all that you have created over the years! We hope that our son will be able to spend many more years with you all! Sincerely,
I happened to be in Paris on 9/11. In the days that followed, I would walk along the Seine and feel the huge, solid stones that made up the walls along the river. Those stones gave me comfort: Because of all they had been through, I knew that humanity wouldn't be crushed by this latest episode of violence. That something would endure.
Now, 19 years later, humanity is under attack again. This time, by villains who have been given a safe space from which to operate, a space of near-zero accountability, of near-perfect freedom to carry out their crimes. And tonight, we ordered Japanese food from a restaurant we like. And as I took a bite of katsu curry, I was transported back to Japan for a moment. I felt again what it was like to live in a civilized culture, a place of beauty and trust.
I had a sip of miso soup, and I remembered my first night when I moved there, making miso soup for myself from ingredients I had bought in a little grocery shop, in my tiny little apartment, at the beginning of what was to be a Great Adventure. And it gave me some comfort. Why? Because I just looked it up, and miso soup has been around since at least the Kamakura period (1185-1333), so well over 600 years. I think of everything the world has been through in those 600 years. Everything Japan in particular has been through. Yet miso soup has survived. Katsu curry has survived (although not for quite as long). Sentos have survived. They will survive this too.
Humanity and civilization are under assault, by the same forces that have been assaulting us for centuries: those who desire power over others, and the institutions that give it to them. But I have faith that when this current assault is over–and one day it will be over–it's perpetrators will be dead, and miso soup will still be here.
Californians have a problem: The government of California. Not Governor Newsom, not any particular legislators, but the state government itself.
The problem is that–high-school civics lessons notwithstanding–we really do not have effective ways of restraining the state, regardless of who sits at its helm. Many have pointed out that the lockdowns here are in violation of the US Constitution, and that the Constitution does not come with an exception for "emergencies" or pandemics. But none of that matters. Because the reality is that there is no good enforcement mechanism for Constitutional provisions, or indeed, for our fundamental rights regardless of what the Constitution has to say about them.
The problem we are faced with is not that we happen to be ruled by a dictatorial madman hell-bent on crushing the economy and our livelihoods even after any pretense of a rationale for doing so has disappeared into thin air. The problem is that we live under an institution that provides no meaningful protection against this happening.
Here's my proposal. It is not perfect, and some will say it does not go far enough (and they will be right), but it makes use of tools that we already have at our disposal, and is something that can be implemented immediately and–most importantly–peacefully.
My solution? Nullify the California state government and do not replace it. Allow the county governments that are already in place to continue operating, and to take over any legitimate functions currently handled by the state government.
My proposal would start with individual counties and cities refusing to enforce state laws, declaring themselves to be independent jurisdictions, and declaring the California State government to be null and void. We have already seen some California counties and other local authorities do the first part of this, with several across the state refusing to enforce the governor’slockdown and mask orders.
Some will argue that I have not thought through all of the possible implications of making such a drastic change. They're right, I haven't. But neither did Governor Newsom think through the implications of shutting down the bulk of the state's economy for an indefinite period of time. Of course he didn't. He didn't have to, as he personally will bear none of the costs of his actions.
Should we think this through a little more, discuss the implications, consider different ways to accomplish the goal? Of course. But we should do so urgently, as each day brings more small businesses closer to ruin and more individuals closer to bankruptcy and psychological and emotional collapse.
The state government's response to a virus has laid bare the dangers of allowing one entity to have so much power over so many people. Radically changing how the state operates has become a necessity for the millions of people whose lives and livelihoods are being held hostage, not by one particular dictatorial governor, but by what has become an all-powerful and menacing institution. We need a solution to this problem now.
“We would do well to disabuse ourselves of the notion that institutionalized violence creates order. It does not.”
This is a piece I wrote back in 2011. It is more relevant than ever now:
As I write this, my son is running around the house naked, even though I’ve asked him twice to put his clothes on. I can hear the bathroom sink swooshing on and off as he makes a swimming pool for his zoo animals. I weigh getting up and possibly waking his baby sister, who is sleeping on my chest, against the lesser likelihood that he will catch a cold from running around the house naked and wet. I decide to stay put. The swooshing continues.
I wonder how a man named Scott Oglesby would deal with my son’s exuberance, his lack of “respect for authority,” his occasional noisiness. Last December, Oglesby, a police officer, was at Stevenson Elementary School in Bloomington, Illinois, when he heard a seven-year-old special-needs boy having a seizure. Oglesby ran into the room where the boy was being restrained by a school psychologist, shouted “you’re giving me a headache!” and grabbed the boy by the throat, holding him up in the air until he turned red, before throwing him down in a chair. Oglesby is now on “restricted duty,” but no criminal charges will be filed against him.
I’d like to think that cases like Oglesby’s are rare exceptions. But every week there seems to be another story about someone being shot with a taser over a traffic violation, or for not responding the way the officer wanted them to. There was the paralyzed man thrown from his wheelchair by an officer in a Florida jail; the New York City cop who stopped a woman from driving her dying daughter to the hospital; the mentally handicapped teenager who was tasered to death after waving a stick around; and, in May of 2010, in another increasingly common militarized raid on a family’s home, the shooting death of seven-year-old Aiyana Jones as she lay sleeping next to her grandmother. (There is little doubt as to what happened because the 20 officers who burst into the girl’s home had brought with them a camera crew for a reality-TV show.)
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…”
When I first read Yeats’ “The Second Coming,” years ago, I saw in the first stanza a lament about the loss of a central authority, of political authority. Now I think he meant something else.
I have to believe that there was a time when people would have responded to the likes of Officer Oglesby by unceremoniously dipping him in tar, tossing a bucket of feathers over his head and casting him out from civilized society. Today he and his ilk are given “administrative leave” at best, and are soon back on the streets to endanger the rest of us. At the same time, more than half a million Americans sit in prison for the crime of using or selling substances the government disapproves of. Our nation has the highest per-capita prison population in the world by a very wide margin. Yet people like Officer Oglesby and the officers who killed Aiyana Jones do not count among the incarcerated. We are told that it is a punishable crime to ingest certain prohibited substances, a bigger crime to sell them. But, it is not a crime to shoot a seven-year-old girl in the head while she lies sleeping next to her grandmother. We have become deeply confused as to who the criminals are.