Not too much on the crime side to report this month, though I have to say I was seriously bummed by having to cancel my first-time attendance at Left Coast Crime this year. It wasn’t so much that I was afraid of catching the COVID-19 virus (which we are calling the COVEFE virus in our house because the response of the adults who are supposed to be managing things like this, at least at the national level, has been something less than reassuring), but that I mistrusted the response by politicians, bureaucrats, and the airline industry if something untoward happened while we were there. And I was doubly bummed because it was in San Diego, and after this weird cloudy unsnowy winter, I could have used some unabridged sun. As it turns out, the conference was canceled after the first day—I feel bad for the folks who went all that way for that.
There’s an extra layer of fear in the air, unnecessary and exacerbated by a Federal government that’s less concerned with people’s lives than with making itself look good and staying rich. As Charles P. Pierce said so well on Twitter: “The biggest miscalculation I made in covering the Democratic primary campaign this year was underestimating the pure political power of how many people want a president and a government that they don’t have to think about every day.”
Yep. Just want to live our lives.
There’s been a small bit of local good news in the meantime, though. Encircle Publications had bought the fifth book in the Elder Darrow series, tentatively title Sweetie Bogan’s Sorrow. It’s scheduled for publication in September or October. One hopes we’ll be comfortable gathering in groups by then, and can give it a party.
Back to the COVEFE, though—the whole affair, if I can call it that, is representative of some of our worst shortcomings as people. First, we react more than we plan—how difficult is it, for example, to maintain a couple weeks’ supplies against any kind of interruption? Say, a blizzard? Instead, like sheeple, we run to Hannaford’s and strip the shelves. How much toilet paper can a household use in two weeks? A lot, apparently.
And we’re alarmists—our news covers the numbers of ill and dying, the spread of the infection, the crash in the stock market, but little of the heroic work of medical professionals and other responders.
And we’re weak thinkers. Instead of applying some critical thinking to the mad blabbing of the pundits, we shift from voice to voice, looking for someone to tell us what we think. We’re out of the habit of applying rationality to what we hear and read.
But I don’t come to bury us over the COVEFE. I believe the most positive response to all of this is, as with most issues, at the local level. If you think we’re all being treated equally in this, you’re deluding yourself. How, for example, did the NBA locate 58 tests for the virus on an hour or two’s notice? When we haven’t yet tested the same number of people South Korea tests in a day?
In my house, at least, we will take care of ourselves, keep a close but not too close eye on our neighbors, and try to respond to problems with more care, thought, and compassion than any group of divorced-from-reality politicians can muster. Because we’re down here on the ground, dealing with the everyday, while our “representatives” brandish automatic rifles mounted on their walls (disabled from firing, which seems fitting), and mouth limp platitudes about how concerned they are. The spectacle of Ted Cruz loudly and publicly self-quarantining is all you need to know about them.
Which leads me back to the local. Our state government’s response has been quick, alert, and measured. I believe we are as prepared as we can be for a threat we can’t see or anticipate, and to a large extent, we’re going about our business. So I raise a glass of Mean Old Tom to a state and a people with some bedrock common sense and a predilection to think before they panic. Mostly.
Oh, yeah. Crime. To some extent, I’m afraid I’m losing interest. The grand-scale idiocies and crimes perpetrated in this country over the past three years: crimes against women, against gender, against people of color and immigrants, against the environment, have—temporarily, I hope—dwarfed my inclination to write about fictional crimes. My stories seem pale and paltry against what we’re living through, like skim milk in your coffee when you want cream. I can but hope we’re in for a change. Real Soon Now.