What the Past Means to the Present

Strange sometimes are the things tucked away—and forgotten. Our gas stove is acting oddly, with the clock resetting and occasional, but different, error codes flashing from the control panel. Surely something is in the process of failing; perhaps a fuse or circuit.

Appliances were new when we rented the apartment five years ago, and the owner’s manuals came with them. We stuffed the folder containing each in the cupboard above the range, which is from where I retrieved the lot today. How foolish of me to expect meaningful troubleshooting that reveals what are the codes. Instead, the manufacturer instructs to call for service should one of them appear. Oh yeah? Thanks for nothing.

Online search revealed nothing categorically useful, either. We know something isn’t right but don’t have enough information to assess how serious and whether to trouble our landlord. Need we really provide another reason to raise the rent?

But that isn’t the topic of tonight’s missive but the lead in to what else waited above the range: Wall Street Journal Weekend newspaper from March 21-22, 2020. On the 11th, World Health Organization declared SARS-CoV-2(severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 to be a pandemic. On March 16, Gavin Newsom effectively shut down California to (supposedly) flatten the curve. What started out as a 14-day health order technically isn’t over; closures continued for more than two years and the governor has yet to rescind his emergency executive powers.

The timeliness of the newsprint find can’t be understated. Consider China, where nearly three years after Wuhan was quarantined that lockdowns continue. If news reports can be believed, this week something changed; citizens are pushing back, as protests break out across the country.

Elon Musk and Apple are, along with boisterous progressives, in a row about the new owner of Twitter making content censorship changes. Among them: “Effective November 23, 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing the COVID-19 misleading information policy”.

My interpretation: Meaningful discussion and presentation of different viewpoints are back, which could improve effective viral research and treatment. But crybabies see something else: Conspiracies. Because in the online world of ideas, consensus of the so-called liberal minded matters most. You can’t even agree to disagree.

Below the fold of that WSJ Weekender is headline: “Musk, Striking a Defiant Tone, Resisted Pressure to Halt Teslas”. Money quote: “My guess is that panic will cause more harm than the virus, if that hasn’t happened already”. As I started saying to everyone early on: “Fear is the Contagion“. Musk’s assessment was nothing less than prescient, if not already accurate.

The main front-page story of the Journal describes the Coronavirus as a “pneumonia-causing pathogen”, which it really isn’t. That’s why artifacts like this newspaper are valuable: Looking from the vantage of what is known now back at what was considered to be true in the past. About journalism, I always affirm: “Write what you know to be true”, qualifying with “in the moment and expect that what’s true will change”.

The latter point is why Twitter’s previous COVID-19 content misinformation policy disserves the public interest so much as to be dangerous—and far more than any perceived threat posed by conspiracies about nanoparticles or alternative treatments. Discussion during a pandemic brings together different points of view that could, and should, enlighten—reveal something more true.

Viruses change. Why is there this obsession that our information about them doesn’t? That only select policy makers—and a group of no-expertise social media content moderators—are the arbiters of truth. I roll my eyes every time someone starts babbling about following the science. Do they not understand that means following where the science leads? That in the case of a novel virus, what is true changes because so little is understood early on and mutations can radically affect transmission rates and mortality.

If Apple removes Twitter from the App Store, as Musk claims has been threatened, maybe I will have to go back to a Windows PC. Oh, but wait. Microsoft is cofounded by Bill Gates, and all recently unleashed tweeters assure that he is behind a global cabal seeking to use mRNA shots to control your mind, reduce the world’s population, and destroy every episode of the X-Files. Why? you ask. Because you’re not supposed to believe that “the truth is out there”. There is one consensus, and it isn’t yours.

I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image. Vitals, aperture and ISO manually set: f/4, ISO 400, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 3:34 p.m. PST.