America The Current Situation

Recent COVID-19 deaths and “sadopopulism”

Recent COVID-19 deaths

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From the New York Times article, U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Surpasses 700,000 Despite Wide Availability of Vaccines:

The recent virus deaths are distinct from those in previous chapters of the pandemic, an analysis by The New York Times shows. People who died in the last three and a half months were concentrated in the South, a region that has lagged in vaccinations; many of the deaths were reported in Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. And those who died were younger: In August, every age group under 55 had its highest death toll of the pandemic.

The article points out that of the 100,000 who died of COVID-19 since mid-June, only 2,900 were vaccinated. Or in other words, more than 97% of the people who died of COVID-19 since June were unvaccinated.


You may have heard of the term sadomasochism: It’s getting sexual jollies from inflicting pain or humiliation on someone else (sadism, derived from French noble the Marquis de Sade) or yourself (masochism, derived from Austrian novelist Leopold von Sacher-Masoch).

The word sadopopulism is a play on sadomasochism, and it’s used to describe a government body that operates without policy and causes pain in its citizenry.

It was coined by Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale, a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, and a specialist in the history of Central and Eastern Europe and the Holocaust. Simply put, he’s a student of self-inflicted human misery.

In a December 2017 video (it’s the one above), Snyder uses sadopopulism to describe the way Trump and Putin operate. He puts forth the idea that they only pretend to be populists and in reality create policies that hurt their bases, all the while convincing their bases that they’re hurting those bases’ perceived enemies.

That’s why one of the defining quotes of the Trump administration was one (Florida) woman’s lament: “He’s not hurting the people he needs to be hurting.”

Synder has this to say about the Republicans in the Trump era:

These are policies that are deliberately designed to administer pain, to add to the total amount of pain in American society.

If you hurt people you create a resource of pain, of anxiety and fear which you then direct against others.

If, in the long run, the way that you govern is by hurting people who don’t mind being hurt because they think other people are hurting worse, what you will tend to do is take the vote away from people who expect more from government, what you will tend to do is try to suppress the vote and keep the vote down to the people who accept that government can do nothing except for administer pain. And then that moves you away slowly from democracy.

Part of the reason that COVID-19 still progresses despite the fact that masks and vaccines are cheap and plentiful is that the sadopopulists have taken these common-sense health measures and reframed them as a signifier of “belonging to the wrong tribe”. As a result, they’re killing their very own supporters, and convincing them that it’s a good thing.

America Stranger than Fiction

Demonyms and Goober Grabbers

In a Zoom conversation earlier today, one of us asked for the English word for “noun that refers to people who live in a certain place, such as a city, or state, or country.” That word is demonym.

In the process of looking up the word, I stumbled across the map above, which shows the demonyms for a number of midwestern U.S. states. The ones that grabbed my attention were:

  • Stubtoes (people from Montana)
  • Bugeaters (people from Nebraska)
  • Pukes (people from Missouri, and I suspect someone from outside the state came up with that one)
  • and my personal favorite, Goober Grabbers, which sounds like people who should be on some kind of registry and banned from living near schools, but actually refers to people from Arkansas. “Goober” is a slang term for peanut, and a goober grabber is someone who harvests them.
America The Current Situation

Just in case you thought horse dewormer was going to be as silly as things got…

Tweet from “The Hill”: Brazilian viper venom shows promise as drug to combat COVID.
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An idea the US might want to adopt

NHS mug, with the NHS logo on its inside and this written on the outside: “No society can legitimately call itself civilized if a sick person is denied medical aid because of a lack of means. — Nye Bevan, founder of the NHS, 1948””
The NHS is the UK’s National Health Service. Tap to view at full size.

…but as long as there’s this prevailing notion of “We don’t want the lazy or the wrong kind of people getting help,” that’s not going to happen.

America The Current Situation

Sign of the day

Sign on shelf at veterinary supply store: "Ivermectin will only be sold to horse owners. *MUST SHOW PIC OF YOU AND YOUR HORSE*"
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Some background info:

America The Current Situation

A reminder

America Florida

I got my “JohnnyCare” Instant Care Kit!

I’m one of the 5,000 lucky Floridians who was able to sign up for JohnnyCare, the fake health care sharing ministry created by John Oliver and the people at Last Week Tonight for this recent episode:

Health care sharing ministries are a uniquely American kind of organization where members — who share common religious or ethical beliefs — contribute to a pool of money that covers their health care costs. It sounds good in theory, but as the video above and this New York Times article show, it’s a little different in practice.

Unsurprisingly, the standards for setting up a health care sharing ministry in Florida aren’t terribly high. This is why John Oliver and Last Week Tonight were able to set use Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption, the tax-exempt church that they were able to set up back in 2015, to set up a spin-off church, Our Lady of Perpetual Health, in Florida, which allowed them to create a health care sharing ministry, JohnnyCare, also in Florida.

For a mere US$1.99, I provided another member with the JohnnyCare Instant Care Kit, complete with “not one, not two, but three” band-aids. In return, another member paid the same amount to buy me this one:

It came with this packing slip:Only 5,000 JohnnyCare kits were made. As required by law, since JohnnyCare is a health care sharing ministry registered in Florida, only residents of Florida — of which I am one — were eligible to get one.

Hopefully, I won’t need those band-aids anytime soon. In the meantime, I think I’ll stick with what passes for healthcare here: Neo-feudalist employer-provided health insurance.