Monday, November 30, 2020

"I'm Thankful That We Live In A Country..."

An employee in a hazmat suit helps a man with something on his phone. (Photo taken in Shanghai.) Image source.

Last week on Thanksgiving, I saw an article shared on WeChat (Chinese social media) that had some quotes from international people living in Shanghai, where they shared what they're thankful for. It was all the usual stuff- family and friends and whatnot- but one stood out to me. One person had written, "I am thankful that we live in a country which took steps to stop the pandemic."

It shocked me because, as an American, I've always heard people saying things like "I'm thankful we live in a country where..." fill-in-the-blank, usually about how we have money and resources and opportunities and freedom and democracy. And the unspoken part is "unlike those poor countries in Africa and Asia." It was mind blowing to me to read "I'm thankful we live in a country..." and it's about China. And the unspoken part is "unlike the US and Europe."

China has indeed controlled the pandemic. Every now and then there's a new case in the news, followed by IMMEDIATE lockdowns and contact-tracing. China doesn't play around. Actually, in Shanghai we never had any local transmission at all, until mid-November when, over a period of a few weeks, there were 7 locally-transmitted covid cases, all related to workers who handle imported goods at Pudong International Airport. 7 cases- and everyone in Shanghai is talking about it. HR at work sent out an email with the guidelines about what you should do if you live in the areas that were locked down or designated as medium-risk. I heard of some events in Shanghai being cancelled. People are reminding each other to keep wearing masks and using hand sanitizer- because in all these months of no local transmissions in Shanghai, we've kind of all gotten lazy about that.

All of this over 7 covid cases. 

(Oh, and if you see anything on social media that says "all of Pudong is locked down" or "they're testing everyone in Pudong", that's NOT TRUE. Pudong is a huge district in Shanghai. I live in Pudong and I was not affected by any lockdowns or required to be tested. It's only a few apartment complexes way out near the airport that are locked down. But yeah, all kinds of false rumors spread on social media.)

(Please note that Shanghai also has had lots of imported covid cases. "Imported" means people who travelled here from other countries. Everyone who enters China has to get tested and also do a 2-week quarantine- so the idea is, you catch all the imported cases before they go on to infect anyone else. Please note that this is a REAL quarantine. This is a you-cannot-open-the-door quarantine. Apparently in the US, travel-related "quarantine" is more like "well, we hope you don't really go out much for 2 weeks, ya know, if you can" and then no one actually checks. ...?)

But yeah, here in Shanghai we've been basically "back to normal" for months. We go out and do stuff. I go to work- in the office, not working from home. We wear masks and don't travel, but besides that, we're pretty much normal. (Oh, actually my husband has travelled to a bunch of Chinese cities for business trips. So yeah, people do travel.)

So. I am lucky to be in China- rather than the US- during this pandemic. And wow, mind-blowing to see an "I'm thankful to live in a country where..." that's an example of how China is BETTER than the US, rather than the other way around.




Well *now* I'm glad I stayed in China

Sunday, November 29, 2020

A reminder to donate your COVID stimulus check

A chart showing "Weekly initial unemployment claims in 2020." Huge spike around March/April. Image source.

On May 20, I published a post called If You Haven't Been Financially Affected By COVID-19, Donate Your Entire Check. Perhaps you read it and thought, "ah, I haven't been financially affected, but I don't know if I want to donate my whole check... like what if things get worse and then I am financially affected?"

Sure, that's fine. It's good to have money saved for emergencies, and the question of "how do you balance 'saving money for your own hypothetical potential emergencies' with 'donating to strangers who are literally having actual emergencies right now'?" can shake out differently for everyone.

Now it's 6 months later. So, in these 6 months, have you in fact had any COVID-19-related financial troubles? If not, then it's time to go ahead and donate that money.

#ShareMyCheck has some good links for where you can donate to help people with their COVID-19 problems. Feel free to leave a comment on this blog post with other ideas of where to donate.

And ... okay time to get political. I'm not in the US, so maybe I'm not seeing the whole picture correctly, but it seems to me that this is what happened: Before the pandemic, society was humming along, enjoying the entertainment and travel industries. People were happy that those industries existed, and felt it was well worth spending the money for the fun experiences that they provided. Then all the lockdowns happened, and it's not safe to go out and do anything non-essential. So for a lot of businesses whose entire existence depends on people going out and doing non-essential things, their income stream was just completely gone- and society just let that happen. They're on their own, and the people who were laid off as a result are also on their own. A lot of us didn't lose our jobs, and we're able to work from home, and so that's what we're doing, continuing to bring in paychecks, no financial problems at all, and meanwhile the people who had the bad luck of working in an industry that depends on people gathering in non-essential large groups are just screwed. And we just let that happen.

Don't we want there to be a travel industry, even though we can't use it this year? Don't we appreciate the people who made all our fun vacations happen in the past? Don't we want restaurants to continue to exist, even though it's not safe to visit them right now?

It's like a tornado, plowing through and demolishing entire industries, while the rest of us just happened to be standing in a spot that wasn't hit, and therefore we aren't financially affected at all. And we're just ... fine with that?

Doesn't it seem like, logically, society should come together and pool our resources to help those people who, economically and career-wise, just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? They perform an important role in our society- it's just that we can't make use of them in 2020 because it's not safe to go out anywhere in crowds of people. But why should a small section of society suffer huge financial losses, lose their jobs, lose their homes, while the rest of us just plug along with our work-from-home jobs and our reliable paychecks?

Shouldn't we get together and pay the salaries of people whose job provides a service that's good and useful but not safe to use during a pandemic?

If only there was some kind of high-level governing body that could pool money from people whose jobs weren't affected and give it to those who were. Some kind of tax, perhaps. Ah but that won't happen in the US, because "that would be socialism", or something. So everyone's just on their own- that's the American way.

Anyway, if you weren't financially affected, donate your $1200 check, and actually, donate more than that.

Saturday, November 21, 2020


1. Are Straight People OK? How We Can Improve Heterosexuality (posted November 10) "Ward says the solution isn’t to accept the “tragedy” nor defect to queerness, but to actually become more straight—owning that identity and resolving to enact the best version of it."

2. ‘A Call for Unity’ (posted November 18) "That’s the strange thing about this strange interview in which Stanley constantly insists that he is not political. That’s what he tells us. What he shows us, however, is that Andy Stanley is a thoroughly, pervasively political man who just doesn’t understand that that’s what he is."

3. Creationist: God Gave Us a Nasal Bone Because He Knew We’d Wear Glasses One Day (posted November 17) This is bizarre on several different levels. 

First of all, people have only been using glasses for the last several hundred years- the vast majority of human history, nobody wore glasses. And in the future, who knows what kind of technology we'll use. Maybe eyeglasses will only be a thing for one tiny slice of human history. This strikes me as an example of taking one's own culture and experience as a baseline for what's "objective" and "normal" and then interpreting the Bible/ history/ biology/ whatever through that lens. (Accidentally a little too revealing about the biases Answers in Genesis brings when they read the Bible.)

And second, glasses were designed to conveniently rest on one's nose because we have a nose shaped like that. Not the other way around. If humans' face-shape was different, we would have designed glasses to stay on in some other way.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020


Count von Count. Image source.

1. Delaware's Sarah McBride to become nation's first trans state senator (posted November 4) Hooray!

2. Trump Team Holds News Conference Outside Drab Landscaping Firm, Next to Adult Book Store (posted November 7) Uh. What. You have to see this:

Caption from the article: "Rudy Giuliani speaks to the media at a press conference held in the back parking lot of a landscaping company on Saturday in Philadelphia."

3. Alex Trebek, Longtime Host of ‘Jeopardy!,’ Dies at 80 (posted November 8)

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Dance, Those Who Dance Upon Injustice

Wow. We did it. We voted him out. In big US cities, crowds of people are dancing in the streets, and it's amazing. This is a historic moment. Someday we will tell our children about how people danced in the streets after the 2020 election.

I'm so proud of my country right now, and I feel like, I wish I was there. (I'm in China.) (But no in reality I don't wish I was in the US, you are having a very bad pandemic.) 


Please enjoy the following photos and videos of Trump's going-away party:

Wednesday, November 4, 2020


1. I was in the pro-life movement. But then, widowed with 6 kids, I prepared for an abortion. (posted October 11)

2. ‘Originalism’ = Garrison’s Constitution, a Covenant with Death (posted October 27) "The fact that this Neo-Confederate counter-revolution is being carried out under the rhetoric of 'the sanctity of life' only makes its advocacy for the covenant of death all the more reprehensible." Damn, I wish I learned this in history class.

3. This extremely informative chart:

4. when I was a pro-life hypocrite (posted February 8) "What Jamie doesn’t understand and what I didn’t understand a decade ago was nothing makes us special. Nothing makes our reasons 'good enough' and other people’s reasons 'not good enough.'"