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In Case You Didn’t Notice, The Matrix Resurrections Is a Trans Love Story

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The Matrix Resurrections

If you pay attention to a certain sphere of film criticism, you’ve likely already come across analysis of The Matrix that couches it in the transgender perspective of its filmmakers: a story about unplugging from a world that forces you to live how it sees fit, the focus on Thomas Anderson’s transformation into Neo and the importance of seizing that change within himself, the continual pressure from outside forces (particularly in the form in Agent Smith) to literally “rebox” himself into the Matrix and take on the path that machine overlords have chosen for him.

All those who exit the Matrix choose new names for themselves, but its story belongs to “the One.” Neo’s declaration of his true name against Agent Smith’s constant droning to the tune of “Mr. Anderson” serves as an exegesis on intent, selfhood, and personal power. It’s hard to find a more potent or direct metaphor for transness than that. Neo is remaking himself in full view of the world: that’s what transitioning is.

But the first Matrix trilogy was missing something from that equation.

[Spoilers for The Matrix Resurrections.]

While Keanu Reeves is never the wrong person to build a story around, the Matrix trilogy was hampered by its reliance on the “chosen one” narrative, which makes for great drama, but hackneyed messaging. The idea that one special person can save all of us, that it’s on their shoulders alone, can be as trite as it is false—as much as it might appeal to modern individualism, no one saves the world alone. The Matrix films worked to show this to audiences by surrounding Neo with people who were more than ready to act for the future they wanted: Morpheus and Niobe, Captain Mifune, Zee and Kid, Sati, the Oracle, legions of people living in Zion, and of course, Trinity.

Trinity. The woman whose love and belief powered Neo through any number of struggles, through impossible battles and hardships. The woman who brought Neo to his destiny at the expense of her own life, and then his.

It’s not wrong for epic stories to end on a bittersweet trill, but losing Trinity that way could only be disappointing. She always seemed underserved despite showing her worth over and over again. And while Neo was something of a cypher as main characters go, Trinity’s sharp characterization seemed to fall away as the films continued. It never struck right.

So it’s only fair that she received a resurrection on par with Neo’s creation. One that put her on footing equal to his, and crystalized the transgender allegory within the Matrix narrative.

The Matrix Resurrections re-ups its transgender thematics first through Neo; he was the origin story, after all, and his remaking needs a little extra something in the construction. Once he makes the decision to take his new red pill and exit the Matrix once again, Bugs reveals that he’d stayed hidden from them for so long because his “DSI” was altered—his appearance, in layman terms. We see his reflection once or twice in mirrors and find out that to others in the Matrix, Neo looks entirely different.

The Matrix Resurrections

Screenshot: Warner Bros.

Let me reiterate: the Matrix system forcibly altered Neo’s image so that he would appear as someone he wasn’t. Specifically the image of a “balding old man,” an outward appearance that would be particularly resonant and difficult for an older generation of trans woman who didn’t have the ability or resources to transition in their youth (or possibly ever). Neo has been effectively closeted by the Matrix in a manner that very specifically denotes transness.

(As an interesting sidenote, Bugs saw through this illusion; she exited the Matrix years ago when Neo “attempted suicide” after a party for his hit video game—in actuality, he was attempting to fly again. Bugs was washing windows on the building and saw the real Neo, prompting her rescue from the system. This might indicate that Bugs herself falls somewhere under the trans umbrella, perhaps as a nonbinary person.)

When Neo is rescued again, he’s plugged into his old training ground with the new iteration of Morpheus, a program he created as a game designer to aid in his escape. Back in the dojo again, Morpheus puts him on “The One Fitness Plan,” telling Neo that he’ll have to fight if he wants to live… but Neo has decided that he’s done fighting. Morpheus proceeds to beat him savagely, but not without purpose. “They taught you good,” he says, pacing toward his bruised and bloodied friend. “Made you believe that their world was all you deserved.”

That thought can apply to any intersection of marginalized identities, but there’s a laser-focused quality to it from a trans perspective. The exhausting act of being trained to behave as your assigned gender from the moment you’re born and slapped into a color-coded onesie. The knowledge of those gendered expectations permeating all facets of existence. Life as a pretense, pretending to be someone you’re not every single day, and only for the comfort of others, even people you don’t know.

Neo eventually fights back, but not for his own sake. Morpheus finally plays his high card, that he knows precisely why Neo agreed to take the red pill when he appeared reticent: he wants Trinity back.

***

Neo saw her at his coffee shop almost daily inside the Matrix, a woman named “Tiffany” who had two children and the most familiar face he’d ever seen. After being awkwardly introduced to her via a tactless and vile coworker, the two eventually got coffee together. Tiffany admitted that she’d looked “Thomas” up after finding out that he was a famous game designer. She told him that she liked the character of Trinity from his game, that they had a love of motorcycles in common. Then she admitted that she showed the game to her husband, and asked him: Don’t you think she looks like me?

Her husband laughed at her.

“And I laughed too,” she tells Neo, “like it was a joke—how could it not be, right? Made me so angry. I hated myself for laughing. I wanted to kick him, so hard. Not too hard, maybe just… hard enough to break his jaw off.”

The pain emanating from that anger is cutting and so real—being dismissed by someone close to you will do that. Being made to think of yourself as a punchline. Being denied when you think you’ve found a true expression that fits your self-image. A moment later, Tiffany is interrupted by a phone call, and reaches into her purse. Neo looks down and catches her reflection briefly in the glare of the tabletop… and he sees a completely different person.

The Matrix Resurrections

Screenshot: Warner Bros.

It’s then that you realize that Neo and Trinity have both been altered by the Matrix to appear different. Tiffany’s husband is laughing because the Matrix is working to deny her at each turn, but also because she genuinely doesn’t look like the video game’s Trinity to him. She looks like someone else. And it’s awful—or it would be, if this moment didn’t confirm something far more important:

Neo and Trinity can see each other. Exactly as they are.

The Matrix Resurrections

Screenshot: Warner Bros.

In many ways, I think that there is no joy more clarifying than being a trans person in love with another trans person. Because they can see you, and you can see them. Because you both know how it feels when the world glosses you over, gilds you in trappings that ache more each day, and punishes you when you don’t fit. When you’re a trans person in love with another trans person, there is no need to act anything out. Physical transition or not, with hormone replacement or without, dysphoria raging or mercifully quiet, it doesn’t make a whit of difference: they will always see the person you want to be.

And Neo can see Trinity. And she can see him.

***

Neo eventually learns how he and Trinity were resurrected in a talk with the Analyst, who explains how this new Matrix is balanced. The Analyst quickly found that keeping Neo and Trinity together led to disaster for his plans—but too far apart was an equally dangerous situation. Instead, he learned to keep them close, but never together: in each other’s periphery, but never near enough to touch.

The humans on the outside read Trinity’s code and find her to be pure “blue pill.” They’re worried she won’t make the choice to leave the Matrix, and it’s a choice they’ll have to respect, even if they enact their elaborate rescue plan. Lexi takes a quiet moment to ask Neo if perhaps the old Trinity is gone for good, and Neo replies: “I never believed I was The One. But she did. She believed in me. It’s my turn to believe in her.”

The Matrix Resurrections

Screenshot: Warner Bros.

The differences in Neo and Trinity’s journeys illustrate two distinct and common roads to transness: Neo doesn’t feel safe or powerful enough to claim ownership of himself. He needs the belief and love of others to find his power, but even then, it’s perhaps not as difficult as he’d like to shove him back into the program. Neo never quite believes that he lives up to that image he wants for himself. (And Trinity has always believed, of course, because Trinity can see always see him.) For Trinity, it’s less about safety or belief, and more about that niggling, gritty, horrifying feeling that something is wrong. She doesn’t remember choosing her life. She doesn’t see who other people see when they look at her. She doesn’t like the sound of her own name.

At one point, Neo tries to call her Trinity before she’s ready, and she replies, “You shouldn’t call me that.”

Not that she doesn’t want him to. But he shouldn’t.

Neo gets one chance to rescue the love of his resurrected life, and the choice lies with her. She sits with him at the same coffee shop table, and he tries to explain that the game he wrote was real, that they are the characters within it. She admits that she feels like she has been waiting her whole life for him, and wonders what took him so long. He tells her that he’s not sure, that maybe he was afraid of this very scenario, one that could end with him losing her.

The Matrix Resurrections

Screenshot: Warner Bros.

Like clockwork, the program kicks in hard, and Tiffany’s family come to retrieve her; their dog was hit by a car, and the dog was hit chasing after her. They drag her away, toward the door of the coffee shop, and she follows, unable to conceive of the reality where she is that person she longs to be so badly. But then she looks back to see Neo laid out before a firing squad as her husband begins shouting—she isn’t listening, so he calls to her. Tiffany, you have to come with us.

And there’s the breaking point: hearing that damn name one more time.

“I wish you would fucking stop calling that,” she gasps. “I hate that name. My name is Trinity. And you better take your hands off of me.”

The catharsis of that declaration is something that many trans people know intimately. And there are layers here for Trinity that Neo never had first time around; she is railing against the physical dysphoria of being seen as an entirely different person and being implicitly aware of that fact, of being a wife and mother when she never agreed to those roles, of being inundated with run-of-the-mill sexism every day. She is fighting against those rules and parameters because she knows something is wrong with the world she sees… but also because he believes in her.

The Analyst knew they couldn’t be left together. Because if transness is this powerful on its own, how much more powerful will it be to the power of two?

The Matrix Resurrections

Screenshot: Warner Bros.

It’s different this time. We’re not waiting for Trinity to dodge bullets—we’re waiting for her to reach Neo. The two of them fight their way toward each other, surrounded by a sea of SWAT cops that the Analyst hopes will hold them at bay. When they touch, light explodes all around and everyone is thrown aside… except for them. The fight isn’t over, so they hop on Trinity’s motorcycle to escape. Neo uses his newfound powers to shield them from everything the Matrix throws. And when it looks like they’re cornered on a rooftop, with Neo’s powers of flight still nowhere to be found, they make the choice to jump off the building anyway.

And it turns out that Trinity could fly this whole time, too.

The Matrix Resurrections is a movie about a lot of things. But if you think there’s any conceivable reality in which one of those things isn’t Neo and Trinity’s trans love saving the world? There’s nothing I can do for you. You’re taking the blue pill, sweetie.

“We can’t go back,” says Trinity of the Matrix and their lives within it, looking out over a city that doesn’t exist.

And Neo promises: “We won’t.”

The Matrix Resurrections

Screenshot: Warner Bros.

And The Matrix Resurrections takes the story of The One and makes it about two, about transformation and rebirth, and most importantly, about how it feels to be in love with someone who sees you… exactly as you truly are.

Emmet Asher-Perrin isn’t saying that this movie came out in the exact moment that they needed it, but they’re not not saying that. You can bug them on Twitter, and read more of their work here and elsewhere.

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CrystalDave
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jwz: Today on Sick Sad World: How The Cryptobros Have Fallen

jwz
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Or, the through-line from Assassination Politics to monkey JPEGs.

The joke goes, "Stop saying you were promised flying cars. Unless you were born in 1935, you weren't promised flying cars, you were promised a cyberpunk corporate dystopia. You're welcome."

Or, in the immortal words of Blank Reg, "You know how we said 'No Future'? Well. This is it."

In the 80s and 90s, hacker culture was flush with tech utopians who thought that computer networks in general, and cryptography in particular, would allow them to route around the world's problems. These nerdy, young, sheltered, wealthy white men believed that you could code your way to freedom and good governance, and they could thereby avoid the yoke of whatever oppression they were suffering.

For many of these people, the oppression they felt seemed mainly to be paying taxes, or being told that they couldn't hoard guns, or that they simply couldn't get to do whatever they wanted to do whenever they wanted to do it. That latter particularly sociopathic part of hacker culture now calls itself "black hat", but the Libertarian end of it, that metastasized out of hacker culture and took over the tech industry in toto.

So there was this guy name Jim Bell.

He really, really hated paying taxes.

And in 1995, he published an essay on the "cypherpunks" mailing list called "Assassination Politics". It is long and rambling, but the gist of it is this:

I speculated on the question of whether an organization could be set up to legally announce that it would be awarding a cash prize to somebody who correctly "predicted" the death of one of a list of violators of rights, usually either government employees, officeholders, or appointees. It could ask for anonymous contributions from the public, and individuals would be able send those contributions using digital cash.

I also speculated that using modern methods of public-key encryption and anonymous "digital cash," it would be possible to make such awards in such a way so that nobody knows who is getting awarded the money, only that the award is being given. Even the organization itself would have no information that could help the authorities find the person responsible for the prediction, let alone the one who caused the death.

So basically, Silk Road meets Kickstarter but for freelance hit-men. It's the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory, but with sniper rifles.

And this wasn't satire! He really thought this was a good idea, a thing that should be built, and that only the "bad" people would suffer from an epidemic of 9mm tumors.

Remember, this is a guy who said things like, "Tax collection constitutes aggression, and anyone assisting in the effort or benefiting from the proceeds thereof is a criminal."

Later, Bell devoted his time to finding and publishing the home addresses of IRS employees. That's right, he pioneered doxxing! The FBI was not pleased with this, and it did not go well for him. The cypherpunks were also not pleased with this, because by their ethos, those addresses were a matter of public record, so how could doxxing be unethical or even illegal?

Fast-forward thirty years, and here we are now, in this, the Year Of Our Blade Runner, 2022. The infrastructure that this guy was fantasizing about has moved from its infancy to the mainstream. Public-key cryptography is widely accessible, and it's possible in practice to conspire and exchange value anonymously, if you do your OpSec right and don't post selfies from the scene of the crime. Theoretically. (It's a big "if", because there are no Moriartys.)

What have these Libertarian crypto-bro idealists built?

The cryptocurrency industry, whose business model would seem unrealistic and ham-handed if it was a villain on Captain Planet: they manufacture only POLLUTION, nothing else, and they turn that into money.

They call it a "currency" but the only thing you can do with it is pay ransom after your computer was hacked! You can't even use it to buy porn!

And make no mistake, if you can't use a thing to buy porn, that thing is not a currency. Cryptocurrencies are Itchy & Scratchy Money.

And their new product, the one that is getting all the press these days? They re-invented the "International" Star Registry con. "I am the Mayor of this 64 digit hash!" The new killer app is people speculating on receipts for links to automatically-recolored cartoon monkeys.

And people and organizations who absolutely should know better -- The Long Now Foundation, The Internet Archive (keep fucking that potato), Mozilla, and so many others -- are still adding cryptocurrencies to their checkout options like it's not a god damned planet killer.

But at least Bell's crackpot idea of turning every couch potato who feels victimized by what they saw on the teevee into a bargain basement Eric Prince didn't come to pass. At least being a school shooter isn't usually profitable for the shooter.

At least there are no Moriartys.

They promised us Bond villains with lasers and unhackable data centers in atmosphere-evacuated vaults in international waters. What they gave us was the banality of day-traders, armchair finance-bros with laser-eye avatars, who are unable to give up on the grift because the grift requires that they must always find the greater fool.

I sometimes joke that we deserve a better class of villain.

But I guess we don't. This is what we built, and we're getting exactly what we deserve.


Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

Tags: big brother, computers, conspiracies, corporations, doomed, dunning-krugerrands, firstperson, grim meathook future, security, the future

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CrystalDave
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New York's First Singles Bar

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I was reading a book for one of my book clubs and accidentally learned something about bar history.

Screen Shot 2021-12-19 at 11.24.27 AMThe Barbizon is ostensibly about a hotel for women in New York, but really it's about the changing role of women from the 1920s through the 1970s through the lens of the women staying in this hotel and college-aged guest editors working at Mademoiselle Magazine that were housed  there. As a book it promises very little and overdelivers spectacularly. 

Opened up nearby the hotel was Malachy's, which I learned in the book might be the first singles bar in New York. 

But Malachy McCourt had a front-row seat to them. On May 12, 1958, the actor, professional storyteller, and relentless bon vivant (and brother of the schoolteacher Frank McCourt, who would later write the famous memoir Angela’s Ashes), opened up Malachy’s bar on Third Avenue between Sixty-Third and Sixty-Fourth Street. Formerly called O’Rourke’s, the place was a “rundown saloon” but Malachy and his partners slapped some cream paint on the walls, put down red carpet on the floor, and put up a sign over the canopy. One final touch was a brightly lit fish tank, and the other was Earl Walker, “trained in the art of food preparation and service at Rikers Island,” as Malachy McCourt liked to say. Malachy’s would become known as the first singles bar in New York. Its location within two blocks of the Barbizon was no accident.

Opening the bar required navigating land mines of regulations and codes that spoke to the era’s emphasis on propriety and all its implications. In every bar in New York, food had to be served (from a kitchen on the premises), with one dining table available for every two feet of bar counter installed. Lighting, it was stipulated, needed to be bright enough by which to read a newspaper. (When Malachy would later be hauled in for this particular violation, the judge asked the officer the name of the paper he had tried to read. “The Daily Mirror,” the cop replied. The judge ruled against him: bad choice of reading material, he said, and if the cop wanted to read so badly, there was always the public library.) There were also unspoken rules, such as the one about women not being allowed to sit up at a bar alone. Malachy got rid of that one.

Soon after opening night, the Barbizon’s young women started to wander in, curious at first, a little hesitant, but once they had discovered it, they let their friends know that Malachy’s was a respite from what was otherwise “a pale, green preserve up and down Third Avenue, with shamrocks, and Irish bars, and green fluorescent lights.” Malachy, who could be counted on to spin a good yarn in his Irish brogue, was a regular on the Tonight Show with Jack Paar, then broadcast live from New York. The jet-setters—charmed by Malachy and “prone to the lemming syndrome,” in his words—started to flock to the bar: the Whitneys, the Reynolds (of tobacco money), the Hitchcocks, and the socialite Berlin kids, whose father was chairman of the Hearst newspaper empire (Brigid Berlin would end up as Andy Warhol’s confidante). The actors that Malachy McCourt ran with—Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O’Toole, Albert Finney—also joined.

Everywhere else across Manhattan women were still being banned from sitting up at the bar by themselves, just as once they had been banned from checking in to a hotel by themselves after 6:00 p.m. If a girl was up at the bar, the thinking was, nothing good was going to come of it, and in fact there was probably nothing “good” about the girl to begin with. At first, Malachy had thought it must be a citywide regulation of some sort, but after searching for the ordinance, he realized this rule was nothing more than a tradition, and a bad one at that. He invited the Barbizon’s women to come sit up at the bar alone. At Malachy’s, anyone could sit “wherever the hell they wanted.” “The beautiful young women, and handsome guys—they’d talk to each other. And then all of a sudden there were lines outside the bar.” When finally a cop came and pulled out his ticket pad to write out a violation because there were unaccompanied women sitting at the bar, Malachy dared him to name the ordinance. The police officer could not.

What Malachy’s offered to the Barbizon residents, if not the best of decor, was a chance to speak to whomever they wished or else to sit quietly alone if they wanted to. Because that was the one single rule at the bar: in there, “you were under the protection of the house,” and no one was allowed to harass anyone else. Even the Gibbs girls, otherwise under the strict restrictions of dress codes and mandatory lights-out, would come home from their classes, put on their nightdresses, then throw on a raincoat and come over to Malachy’s. His brother Mike called them the “Raincoat Brigade.” He even claimed some of them had forgotten their nightdresses under their raincoats. Sometimes, Malachy noted, his bar offered real sustenance too, and he was not above feeding the Barbizon girls: “Sometimes you could tell if they were counting their pennies.” If the young woman ordered a beer or a soda, and then began to count out her money, placing each coin carefully onto the bar, he would cheerfully offer her a burger on the house, making it seem like the most offhand of gestures.

I then searched for more information. The New York Post has a 2017 story called, "This 85-year-old writer invented New York’s first singles bar" in which McCourt said: 

Before I was married, I started the first singles bar in New York. It was called Malachy’s and it was on Third Avenue, where all the bars were Irish — neon lights and shamrocks and all that rubbish. There was a tradition where they wouldn’t let women sit at the bar; women who did were suspect. I thought that was stupid. The Barbizon Hotel for women was right around the corner, so when the young women there started to come in, I said, “Sit wherever you like!” So that’s how it happened. Beautiful people like Grace Kelly, who stayed at the Barbizon, would pop in, and then actors … Peter O’Toole, when he was in town, Alan Bates, Richard Burton, Gig Young and Jonathan Winters.

I wondered about the date of the bar relative to TGIFriday's. The New York Times published some letters in response to a story on the chain restaurants in 1998

Just last week, an item appeared claiming that the T.G.I. Friday's bar and restaurant that opened on East 63d Street and First Avenue in 1965 was, in essence, the original singles bar. Though the F.Y.I. column usually tries to avoid claiming a first for anything, it happened this time, and though we were referring more to its prototypical singles bar decor than the clientele, the response from our readers was swift, stern and rather sentimental: ''Remembrances of a misspent youth!,'' one reader wrote. ''Malachy's, on Third Avenue between 63d and 64th Street, preceded T.G.I. Friday's by at least a year.''

The eponymous Malachy, by the way, was none other than Malachy McCourt, author of the recent best seller ''A Monk Swimming,'' and brother of Frank McCourt, author of ''Angela's Ashes.''

Another wrote: ''Malachy's opened somewhere between 1961 and 1963, and was packed every night for several years with crowds of young people, on the sidewalk, trying to get into the place. The bar was an instant success because of its proximity to the Barbizon Hotel, at East 63d and Lexington, which at the time was all female. The girls came and the boys followed.''

And still another: ''As an East Side single in the early 60's, I can tell you that Malachy's on Third Avenue and East 64th Street was certainly the first of its kind. It didn't have the ferns or the bentwood chairs, but it became famous citywide. If decor is the criterion, then T.G.I. Friday's loses to Gleason's, which set up shop at East 75th Street and York Avenue well before Mr. Stillman and others, and featured the ornate wooden bar that had graced the Schaefer's Beer Pavilion at the 1964 World's Fair. It was a grand time to be young and single in New York!''

So there's that. 

Oh and just another fun fact the hotel was later purchased and renovated by Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell of Studio 54 fame. 

Drdtx5-1614201817

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CrystalDave
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Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Hey man

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Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Hovertext:
The weird part is they've been dating for 10 years now.


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tante
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It's played as a joke here but this is a massive reason for the horrible mental health many men have
Berlin/Germany

By taquito sunrise in "Highly Vaccinated Israel Is Seeing A Dramatic Surge In New COVID Cases." on MeFi

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(okay posting by request!)

Here's what the thing is for me, right, apologies for giant novel (but not enough apologies to not post giant novel):

When I started isolating last March the only calculation I was using like 99% of the time was "avoid risk of spread at all costs," because I figured, hey, if some of us who can take ourselves out of the equation as vectors do, the math works out better for everybody, right?

And I could, because I already had a remote job, so I super internalized that this was what I was doing for the communal pandemic-fighting effort: not going anywhere or seeing anyone in person who didn't already live in my house.

So I locked down hard, reduced my world to the house, the backyard, the group mailbox down the street which I got obsessive about being the one to check daily because that was suddenly the closest I got to a change of scenery most days. Had my 40th birthday party on Discord. Tried to get my day job done. Failed to keep the house clean. Bought a pair of noise-cancelling headphones because taquito boyfriend, who was suddenly home??? all the time??? decided to replay & 100% Breath of the Wild and,

look idk if you've ever tried to work while someone in your house is catching Koroks at irregular intervals but iyaa ha ha ha! *bonk*

Okay, in his defense, taquito boyfriend volunteered to suit up & handle the grocery shopping, which in our part of Arizona -- at that time we lived in a suburb which held weekly "Back the Blue" rallies & occasionally spawned the odd Trump merchandise pop-up shop, if that tells you anything about our part of Arizona -- always seemed to involve an encounter with someone or two not taking the pandemic seriously.

The apex of this was the cashier (at the Asian grocery store, usually the best-masked store, of all places!) who pulled down her mask to cough right at him, after which he & I both got sick for two weeks & did the "oh no is this the dumb thing that kills us" pandemic panic dance (tested negative, thankfully; regular flu or something I guess).

So going out shopping really stressed him out, so much so that he asked me to stop writing goofy food names like YOGOR or GURPZ on the grocery list & just write "yogurt" and "grapes" like a normal person, because he could only handle so much cognitive load when he was in the store getting glared at & breathed on.

Since I was already big deep in the "my role is to make sacrifices in this difficult time" mindset (self-aggrandizing, I know!) I took this a huge unnecessary step further & stopped asking for "frivolous" snack groceries like grapes or cheese popcorn. In the pre-pandemic times I would throw these in the cart on impulse; as it turns out this was an embarrassingly large source of independence & agency for me, picking out my own snack food like a big kid, & something atrophied pretty hard when I stopped doing it.

Eventually it got to be just too much, trying to figure out what foods existed in the grocery store that I could use to feed myself, and requesting them in advance, so I just kind of... stopped feeding myself and went hungry every day until taquito boyfriend made us both dinner, because it was just easier.

It's starting to come back post-vax but I'm still in the process of relearning how to feed myself. (I did get an air fryer & I can absolutely make what on the grocery list are called chickie chickie nug nugs, also FRONCH FRIZZ.) I've been grocery shopping a few times now but it's mentally hard to go; the idea of getting in the car by myself & driving somewhere still feels remotely unthinkable, like it should be a last resort.

As far as aftermath effects that are less easy to explain... I don't know if we fully understand the ramifications of not being around other humans on mental & physical health, but from this experience, I suspect it's a whole-ass thing.

My ADHD symptoms got a billion times worse. Energy level tanked. Got weirdly lumpy around the neck & jowls. Spent every day on the verge of a meltdown. This seemed to be the standard pandemic experience everyone I knew who was isolating (i.e. most people I knew) was having.

Quick privilege check before saying this next bit: I was about as lucky as it gets through all this. Only had one friend with a case severe enough to be hospitalized, & he pulled through after a near-death scare (not really recovered a year & a half later, but it's still very good that he's alive). My family are all lefty types who took the pandemic very seriously; no monkey sh*tfights or disowning relatives. Had a remote job when it all started & another remote job when that job laid me off. Genuinely got very lucky.

So I want to be really clear that I'm not whining on a personal level when I say that taking a pandemic seriously & isolating for over a year constitutes a massive quality of life downgrade. Both for everyone who actually does it, and everyone who imagines having to do it.

There are only two ways out of that: either the pandemic actually ends, or you just take the pandemic less seriously.

Which brings me to my possibly-unfair theory that a lot of the people who have been refusing to take it seriously simply gave up basically immediately because they couldn't f*cking hack it. To protect their egos, they needed to real hard believe the easy way out was actually the correct, smart-person choice and they weren't really risking lives, behaving antisocially, being a bad person.

So they borrowed one of the many sh*tty fake ideas conveniently floating around the internet & moved their whole brain into a reality where masks don't work or no one dies from it who wasn't already dying or it's only the flu, anything that means they get to maintain their pre-pandemic lifestyle without taking an ego hit.

Now that they're solidly invested in believing that, they (the deniers) are angry with us (the precaution-takers) for reasons similar to the reasons we're furious at them: they're trying to protect themselves against having to take the pandemic seriously, because they know that would hurt their quality of life the same way it hurt ours.

Meanwhile, we're trying to get our quality of life back except we can't unless everybody takes the pandemic seriously which they won't and we're f*cking pissed off because they've been going to the bar this whole time and we've been trapped in the house with our boyfriend's Korok collection, I'm so tired

Anyway... by the time I got vaxxed in April I'd spent the past year obsessively doom-reading all the sh*tty things the deniers had to say on the internet, along with the latest herd immunity percentage guesses & news about variants, & had stopped thinking of the vaccine as the thing that was gonna cure the pandemic & we all go back to normal. Like the writing was on the wall that we were not going to reach herd immunity & we were not going to dodge a really f*cky mutation & we were just gonna be in this for the foreseeable future.

So the new bargain I'd made with the vaccine in my head was that it was going to let me relax a little bit for a short time (few weeks? couple months?) until some variant strain started wrecking our sh*t & it was time to go very seriously back into isolation.

But I also made a deal with myself, which was that I wasn't going to go back into isolation & make the same decisions without factoring in my new experience of how bad it f*cks up humans (it's me, I'm humans) to go a long time without A) seeing other humans or B) leaving the house to do normalizing sh*t like idk walking around the office supply store, which in my old calculation I never did because it was never worth potentially infecting someone just to like, sit in a bunch of ergonomic chairs & eventually buy one.

And my guess is that probably a lot of vaccinated people who fell into the precaution-taker group are also mentally about right there: super reluctant to go back into maximum isolation mode.

Which means they have to replace the easy calculations of maximum isolation mode (I go nowhere! I see nobody!) with brand-new calculations based on their own understanding of sh*t we don't necessarily have good consensus understanding of yet.

Sh*t like how likely you are to spread the virus if you're vaccinated, how Delta changes the equation for everything we thought we sort of understood, how protected you are X months after your final vax shot before a booster, etc.

(This is without even mentioning how much empathy the precaution-takers have lost for the deniers after spending over a year feeling like the deniers, at the very least, do not care if they die, but that's also a factor.)

So everybody's out there drawing the lines differently (and with different amounts of rationalizing their own risky behavior because major pandemic fatigue, I'll totally cop to some of that myself) & it turns into a George Carlin situation where everyone taking more precautions than you is an idiot & everyone taking fewer precautions than you is a maniac.

Which is a super long-winded way of saying "yeah from a stop-the-spread standpoint we absolutely should be back to isolating as much as possible but I f*ckin' get why people are not."

Oh my God this is so long I'm so sorry
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angelchrys
150 days ago
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Overland Park, KS
CrystalDave
150 days ago
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Seattle, WA
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Family Values: or, Lipsticking the Pig.

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From an upcoming lecture on Architecture and Design:

This guy I know wanted to get his daughters vaccinated against Covid. Got a special deal: took them across the border to Scarborough, handed them special forms that said they worked for a company called—I kid you not—”Matrix”; and told them that if anyone asked about their place of employment, they were to lie.

His daughters were, to their credit, kind of squicked out by this. It was obviously cheating; they ended up being the only two white people in the room. (This particular vax site was being run for front-line folks most vulnerable to infection, which tend to be disproportionately people of color for reasons we all know about by now.) They called their dad on this: it was unethical. It deprived two other people of protection[1].

Dad’s response? “I’m just trying to protect my family. When you’ve got kids of your own, you’ll understand.”

I heard this story, and I thought: is there a single evil perpetrated by human beings that doesn’t start with that very rationale? I’m protecting those that are dear to me. Me and mine come first. Cheating is okay as long as it serves our interests. Everything from shoplifting to genocide has its seeds in selfish genes.

And Dad was playing it as a get-out-of-jail card. Because sure, he’d cheated—but he did it for family, and that not only made it okay; it made it morally praiseworthy. Obligatory, even. We have taken kin selection—an act of utter Darwinian selfishness—and lipsticked it into something altruistic and noble. The very hallmark of the Good Human Being.

How often have you heard the sentiment Nothing is more important than family? And when you have heard it, has anyone ever disagreed? Family Values is the very bedrock of western so-called Morality.

Family Values are destroying the planet.


  1. They did go ahead and get the shot, though.
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CrystalDave
207 days ago
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Seattle, WA
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