It was was not not a a day day of great great accomplishments accomplishments, aside from a work-related group phone call where everything I said had that Maximus Sound: it echoed down through eternity. So I kept my contributions short. Good news: we’re talking about moving back to the office. Unbelievable news: we’re talking summer. June? Eh, maybe too soon.

Let me coin a term for what some are feeling - not thinking, but feeling: Mondophobia. Fear of the World. It’s like agoraphobia, except you project your own fears onto everyone and everything. Imagine a form of agoraphobia where you became even more anxious because no one else in the public sphere seemed to manifest your panic.

During the AIDS crisis - which was not a general crisis at all but a highly specific one, broadened to a general crisis for a panoply of reasons that ranged from the fearful to the speculative to the scientific to the ideological - the activists had a saying: Silence = Death. It brooked no opposition. The opposite was not true, of course; noise did not equal life. Death did not strike because you didn’t speak up and say whatever you were supposed to say, but because you engaged in certain behaviors. Shouting did not result in a cure; changed behavior and medical advances did. Celibate mutes were not struck down by the Reaper’s scythe.

Now the equation seems to be Commerce = Death.

In the absence of any specific timetables from local authorities, moods flail. Your hopes have nowhere to perch, and your anxieties circle like crows. By “anxieties” I don’t mean “feeling uncertain and elevating that to the existential crisis of someone under fresh Nazi occupation, because everything else is pretty much taken care of and you’ve the excess mental energy to waste on self-examination.” I mean concern about the lasting effects of all this - social, economic, legal, political.

I’ve never really felt comfortable with that old saw about not sweating the small stuff, and p.s. it’s all small stuff, because when something comes along and cracks the paradigm like a cold bar of taffy, social, economic, legal, political concert are not small stuff.

There’s nothing you can do, because you’re either prohibited from doing it, or unable to affect the process. The Governor Decides. The urban office class around here seem to agree with him. The people who do not agree are regarded as science-denying morons who want to kill grandma because Muh Libertees and Muh Tyranny. We now assume that everyone who goes out in public without a mask or stands five feet from someone instead of six promptly follows this up with a trip to see grandma, whereupon they say “Ah was at a rally!” and sneeze directly in her face.

But there I go, wanting to make Teh Businesses Happen because profits over people. Okay. Question. How far apart are the chairs in a hair salon? More than six feet, by my recollection. If both customer and stylist are masked, and both have freely entered into the transaction after balancing the risks and rewards, AND THIS IS IN A SMALL TOWN WHERE CASE LOADS ARE VIRTUALLY NONEXISTENT - sorry for shouting, but even though I’m an urban guy I think about the small towns strung along Highway Ten, and worry - anyway, is this more dangerous than going to a small urban grocery store where people are touching everything and a few people are unmasked and the carts aren’t sanitized?

Possibly, but only by a small margin.

But you don’t need to get your haircut.

That’s your opinion. It happens to be that I want to get my hair cut, and I would also like to give money to the stylist I frequent. She’s a single mom from Trinidad and she has a kid in college. If you disagree with my set of arguments, you hate immigrants.

It gets to that point with such rapidity these days on Twitter, because aside from a few cool voices that sift the data and some moderate people who understand the arguments of the other side but do not find them ultimately persuasive, there seem to be two camps that face each other like an eternal WW1 trench warfare battle: Avoid (or minimize) catastrophic economic consequences vs. Follow All the Orders Until it is Safe.

The latter group seems inclined to bathe in unending catastrophism without pause or degree, believes that the conditions of New York are a harbinger of life in Bismark, North Dakota, and reads “new cases” as “deaths.”

The former group accepts a certain amount of infection as inevitable and sees significant damage to the social, economic, legal, and political systems if the economy is kept in a coma for months. The latter group regards damage to the social, economic, legal, and political systems as irrelevant to goal of keeping the number of new cases in the single digits per day, and has yet to indicate there is a norm they would not abrogate to attain that goal.

Says me, anyway. Remember, I’m a mask-and-gloves guy, just in case. I just don’t believe the Wuhan virus is fallout that coats everything and makes the world lethal. I am not a Mondophobe.

I think Reagan said it best: trust, but sanitize.













Oh my Lord, I wrote the above completely forgetting that I had a tweetfest set aside fomr amusement.

Well, it's becoming a Wednesday tradition, and in these times we have to hold on to the things that guide us through our formless weeks.


A Boston Globe sports columnist weighs in:


First of all, I’m already sick of murder hornets. As far as I’m concerned all hornets are murder hornets, and I take the new term not as a description but a general recommendation. The real question here is whether the writer of the tweet, meant that the people who are protesting should be murdered painfully by insects, or whether they are the hornets who will murder others because they are protesting.



Meanwhile, in California, the difficult task of deciding whether the blue state is behaving like red states that also have water and sand leads to headlines a bit less hectoring than the ones about Florida:



You’re out in the California sun, possibly by yourself or with a family member; the aerial surveillance units inform you that this is unlawful. You might think this is a rather remarkable change not to be swallowed without question.

No, you should follow orders. Also, “Handmaid’s Tale” is totally an accurate description of America. Well, it was. We’ll get back to shrieking about that fictional dystopia after we’ve handled this real one.


Ha ha dying malls, hot take comin' through



Again: Commerce = death.


Imagine a tweet from a clever person that used the same construction about museums. But why not? I think all museums should be shut down indefinitely. Art is certainly inessential, and the rooms of our museums and galleries are practically gas chambers. If that seems extreme, I have to ask why you want grandma to die so you can preen in front of a Manet. You can look at paintings online.

It’s good to be king, or queen, or even just a member of the court, enjoying a hot beverage made from fair-trade beans while the people down below the castle wall squat in the alley to relieve themselves:

Oopsie whoops, people didn’t get the exquisitely shaded nuance of that multi-layered tweet:

  Don't know how people possibly got that impression.





It’s 1937.


Yes, the main story is about a movie.

The Cass Opera House? The town’s homepage says:

Another important man in the early history of Sumner was Stephan F. Cass, who contributed to the growth of our town by moving his little town of Cassville into Sumner in 1875 when it became apparent the railroad was coming to Sumner.


The railroad is gone, but you can still see the diagonal line where it came through town. It's fun to follow it out of town and see the faint trace of the old line.


The question just “popped into the open” and the architect just happened to be there, with sketches.

I don’t know if they got one, but it seems likely that they did.


An ordinary ad on the inside . . .


Do you see what’s going on here? The movie coming to the Cass is a promotional film from the Robertshaw (not the chorus, not the actor) thermostat company, which is still around. And they gave it the headline.

Now, the hard news!


News flash!

Man, you were tardy, it made the paper.

Hmm. Triplets in Grade Three?


It looks like Darleth - Dot to her friends - left us in 2005, and she had moved to Grundy Center.

She had ten siblings. Donald was her twin, and Virgil came along the next year.

Hold on, did you read Grade Two news? MARDELL, another sister. According to the findagrave page, Mardell passed about six months after her sister.

The last one died in 2007.

Mickey, the Printer’s Devil:

A strip by Charles Sughroe; now and then it made plain basic appeals for people to advertise in the paper. Imagine Charlie Brown asking you to take out an ad every tenth strip.

Any more of interest in the paper?

Not really.

That'll do; see you around. An extra helping of Thirties ads today to fill up the Automobile section.




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