- Written by Michael Z Williamson
Historical background: The day Germany lost the Battle of Britain.
During the Blitz, a reporter asked Elizabeth, Queen Consort (Later the dowager Queen Mother) when the Royal children were leaving London.
She replied, "The children will leave when I leave, I will leave when the King leaves, and the King is not leaving."
If the King would not leave, his people would not leave, no matter the threat.
They were all one people, and they would fight and live as one--Princess Elizabeth, the current Queen, trained as a truck mechanic and ambulance driver for the Territorial Army. She was 16.
Germany should have given up at that moment.
This is a Ukrainian recruiting commercial from about four years ago. I think it defines the entire war, and is possibly one of the best commercials ever, from a production and market standpoint.
Let’s go through this: It starts with shovels in farm and industrial use, and used as toys. It establishes the humble shovel as a critical tool for an agricultural society, a common link for everyone.
Next, we move to the battlefield—management of expectations. You are not joining the Ukrainian Ground Forces for some PT, foreign travel, and college money. You are joining a military that expects to fight. But you will have a shovel. You can dig a hasty position, a tank sump, trenches and breastwork, raise it over the parapet to look for enemy fire, paddle across a river. If you don’t have a (I believe the actual word in the original is a generic “chopper” that can refer to any tool such as a cleaver or axe) to cut your frozen bread in the trenches, you will have a shovel. If you run out of ammo, you will still be in the fight, because YOU HAVE A SHOVEL.
Then they conclude that shovels will be used to build a fortress around their nation.
The commercial doesn’t glamorize the rifle, the tank, doesn’t even show missiles and aircraft, which they have plenty of. The most important tool for a Ukrainian soldier, or any Ukrainian, is a shovel.
The Russians can invade with aircraft and tanks, artillery and missiles, but as we’ve seen from the stranded convoys and horrifically outdated logistics (about 1930s tech), the Russians don’t have shovels, or at least not enough.
They really thought they could beat a people who are that down to earth, in all definitions.
- Written by Michael Z Williamson
Wear a mask!
What NIOSH rating do you recommend?
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has ratings for masks and respirators, depending on what type of contamination they protect against.
It doesn’t matter.
So, if you were going to be exposed to phosgene, you’d just rely on some random scrap of cloth? Because you’d die. You need specific filters for specific contaminants. That's why it specifically says on the labels they don't stop viruses.
They have to say that for liability reasons.
Incorrect. Your fluoride toothpaste can say it reduces cavities, because it has been proven to do so in extensive studies.
It stops the droplets.
Droplets that contain the Covids.
Viral particles can be aerosolized in large droplets that stop in cloth, and in droplets small enough to pass through, or airborne, or can transmit through the fecal-oral route, or several other disseminations. Cloth masks bottom out at a 3 micron mesh. Coronavirus particles are about .1 nanometers. They're smaller than cigarette smoke or VX nerve gas. A cloth mask is incapable of stopping them.
The mask helps.
The most favorable meta-study in 2020 claimed a 1.9% reduction in spread, but failed to account for demographics, movement patterns, population density, or natural or artificial environmental factors. A recent study cherry picked one village in Bangladesh, rather than comparing, say, Houston to New York or LA, and only found a 1% reduction in spread, only above age 65, and again failed to account for any other factors. This is a failure.
Why don’t you have faith in science?
First of all, science does not involve faith, it is a methodology, and when your observed facts, such as above, contradict the hypothesis, then the hypothesis fails and is junked.
Masks work! The fact checkers say so!
The fact checkers are usually journalists with zero scientific credentials, disputing people who do have credentials. They also usually misstate the claims. When they attempt to refute a claim, they tend to use a single recent pop article, or out of context single study, to argue against 50 years of professional research that random cloth masks don’t do anything.
Just wear a mask and this will be over!
That claim was made in July 2020, that “6-8 weeks of masks” would end the virus. Once again, observable facts contradict the hypothesis, therefore, it fails and must be junked. There was no statistical difference in disease spread between areas requiring masks and areas not.
Wearing a mask is doing something!
You could also hit the ground with sticks. In our study group, 100% of people hitting the ground with sticks daily avoided COVID.
That’s ridiculous. How would a stick possibly work?
The same way a mask does. At least it would be doing something.
I hope that by not wearing a mask you die.
But if the mask is to protect others, then why would not wearing one affect me? Please make up your mind how it works. And, if it stops viral particles going out, why wouldn’t it also stop them going in? Also, that’s a pretty uncharitable position.
Follow the science!
There are fifty years of research on masks, regarding viruses and other contaminants. I’m following that science, which also means questioning claims. Including the recent claim that a random scrap of cloth is effective at anything other than reducing airflow.
(At this point you’ll either have broken their programming, or they’ll insist you’re a “Trumper” and refuse to debate further.)
- Written by Michael Z Williamson
Oh, I know. You want to sit with your grandkids and tell them how you helped beat the Rona that almost wiped out America. You did it while walking around in a gimp mask like the bottom bitch in a porno.
Or maybe you sat your fat ass on the couch and saved lives while drinking whine as part of the "quaranteam."
Possibly you can show them the grainy tube-saved video of your killer TikTok dance video, or your hymn praising Dr Fauscist. Good luck finding a rhyme for "Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy."
At the end of the day, though, the mortality is .07%, and once all the cancer victims who just happened to test positive, half of them falsely, are removed, it's a lot less than that. Even the Infection Fatality Rate, which is a term you can look up to educate yourself, is .23%, dropping rapidly on the curve with younger demographics. The actual Case Fatality Rate, that your revered High Priest Anthony couldn't actually quote correctly, is on par with a bad flu year.
What we're dealing with is the Media Industrial Complex, Big Pharma, the Demorrhoid Party, and the brand new Mask Industrial Complex finding ways to terrify you into begging them for the opportunity to use their products.
Meanwhile, normal people are walking around, breathing the air, and not falling over dead.
Where are your vaccine mandates over pertussis, measles, and polio (that last with an IFR near 30%)? You're mentally incapable of grasping that any disease exists except Muh Covids!
This is why normal people are getting sick and tired of your pathetic cowardice, conspiracy nuttery, and outright fascist hysteria.
When it's all over, succeeding generations are going to laugh at you, as normal people are now, and blame you (correctly) for engaging in the bizarre combination of self-flaggelation and potlatching that's damned near crushed the economy, and murdered millions of non-Covidiots trapped in hospitals with your pathalogical obsession. It's all on you, and you will deserve it.
Stop shitting your pants over a fucking cold.
- Written by Michael Z Williamson
About two weeks before event, DragonCon suddenly started posting on social media that everyone over age 2 would have to wear a mask, have proof of vaccine (except under 16 can’t get it?), or have a specific test 3 days before (and that last is ridiculous, when an attendee might stop at 12 truck stops on the way there).
Now, my political position on masks aside, I can’t wear one. That’s literally why I was retired from the military. Covering my face drops my blood oxygenation to COPD levels. My wife hits every exemption there is, but good luck getting documentation that anyone considers “Acceptable.”
I inquired with both vendor relations and guest relations, and got told, “Ignore social media, we haven’t heard this and we don’t actually have a policy yet, that will be Thursday.”
Thursday rolls around and the email is, “The policy remains…”
Wait, I thought you didn’t have one yet? “Remains” means that was your policy, but you tried to pretend it wasn’t.
I told them I’d need a rollover by preference or a refund.
“Unfortunately, per policy, it’s too late for a refund or rollover.”
Yet, they were able to change their COVID policy.
So my choice was find someone to cover the show, or forfeit several thousand dollars to the poor, starving, corporate owners of DragonCon.
I withdrew as a guest, and made a public announcement to that effect. I was the 100th. That seemed notable. In fact, by the end they lost 203 of 641 guests and professionals, or over 30%.
Now, I’m sure a case could be made in court for this being classic bait and switch, and refusing refunds or rollovers to be fraud. But I can’t state that as a fact without a court case. It certainly smells that way, though.
Note that Salt Like City FanX instituted masks (no proof of vaccine or other idiocy) shortly before the event. They were polite and apologetic to all, rolled us over for next year, and publicly offered refunds to anyone who couldn’t comply. That’s called being professional.
I’ll note that dozens of other events—Colorado Springs, Grand Rapids, Cincinnati, Tampa, Pittsburgh, etc, went on just fine with zero tinfoil hattery, and no “superspreader events.”
After a couple of days, I was able to arrange for my eldest daughter to cover the booth. Morrigan was a store general manager at age 20, has been around my merchandise her entire life, and actually knows how to use swords, as well as being very versed in anime and Japanese culture.
At the show, my daughter unloaded, set up, checked in, got paperwork…which did not include renewal paperwork for next year. I emailed and got told we’d “talk about it after the show.” Which meant they planned to screw me over.
After the show I was told they were so very unhappy that I publicly boasted of being the 100th cancellation. Well, sorry about your feelings, but what about the feelings of 203 guests and families you screwed over by waiting for the last moment? What about the public threats to harass “plague rats” (perfectly healthy people not wearing masks) on your social media, that remained for days before being taken down? We’re supposed to worship you, but you don’t need to respect the professionals in the field?
Then they unleashed this whopper, claiming the statement was made about me:
" there was a vendor this year who is making an incredibly racist remarks trying to sell his wares. Including things like “buy a knife from someone who speaks American” and “this is made with real metal, not ‘Chineseium’.” Worse than all of that however, was singling out another person in the vendors hall who is also selling knives. It was an Indian couple, and apparently that was why he wanted to specify that he does speak “American”, letting anyone who passed by know another vendor had people who spoke English as a second language at their table "
I’m going to explain why this is complete, unmitigated bullshit.
My booth was run by my eldest daughter, who is not a “guy.”
She was assisted by our friend Wendi, whom I’ve known almost as long. Also not a “guy.”
I AM THE IMPORT AGENT FOR A PAKISTANI CUTLERY COMPANY and have literally thousands of their knives in my warehouse, with more arriving about twice a week by truck. The owner speaks better English than most American college students.
I am a distributor for two Chinese importers. I can wholesale stuff to you. I’ve been dealing with them since 1991.
I am on a first name basis with a Filipino importer now approaching retirement, who produces some amazing historical repros.
The sword rack contained swords from China, Pakistan, India, and the Philippines, all of which I endorse to various levels depending on whether they’re accurate reproductions or fantasy pieces.
The sword stand next to it contained swords all made in China, from costume quality to good enough for iaido, depending on your needs and price range.
The one next to that contained polypropylene training swords made in Taiwan.
The display cases had fantasy knives, throwing knives, and folding knives, all made in China or Pakistan, except for FOUR, count them FOUR US made bali-songs because legalities make domestic ones a better option, and I believe four of my custom pieces at the low end, easy to make.
We had SEVERAL THOUSAND knives and swords there, all imported except for eight.
There is literally no reason anyone in my booth would be bleating “Buy American,” or dissing our own product.
I’d certainly sell more American made stuff, if it both fit the market, and the budget of the buyers. I do sell more American made product at gun shows. Different market, different needs. But the majority of any cutlery retailer’s product these days is from China, Pakistan, possibly the PI, and occasionally Taiwan. Japan, Germany, and the US make amazing stuff, but you have to pay for it.
Note: This alleged comment was not brought to either Morrigan’s attention or mine, by email, phone, or in person during the show.
So I’m going to be honest where they apparently cannot: DragonCon Head of Vendor Relations Tracy Bell is a filthy liar. And apparently too stupid to craft a credible lie.
She never responded to a request for a name, photo, description, source, or otherwise.
ADDENDUM: One of my vendor friends checked the hall and counted TWENTY missing booths, either empty or removed. Another said it started with 33, but several were filled in by local vendors called in at the last minute, trying to spread their stuff out enough to fill larger space than they were stocked for. (So those booths were sold twice.) Another vendor, apparently new, suffers from COPD. He couldn't get in for even worse health reasons than me, so he forfeited his funds, too. The total is probably over $50,000. But at least it went for a good cause--the payroll and finances of the management./sarc
As to the racism, that’s been a problem at DragonCon for a long time, but this year was almost Pythonesque.
A few years back, a friend and I even proposed a panel on race relations in science fiction. We got to the panel, and every participant was a white male. Awkward. We did our best. We’d wanted a spectrum of viewpoints. Nope.
So this year, reduced attendance. They got rid of a lot of what they call “tourists,” who come in on a day pass, usually local, frequently black. Nerd-dom has had a growing minority presence for years, and it’s amazing.
So who was far less present this year, with demands for vaccines or a recent test or pay at the door for one? Yup, the Atlanta black community.
DragonCon is pissed off that I won’t endorse their over-reaction, racism, and borderline fraud.
I guess we’re both disappointed. I’d hoped for better from them.
UPDATE: In previous years, my wife was normally running the booth while I did panels. She reports that the same behavior took place two years ago, with the guy calling our stuff "Chinesium" and tossing it onto the table with contempt. She knows which competitor it was. She reported it. NOTHING WAS DONE. So Tracy Bell doesn't actually care about the harassment and racism. It's just a convenient tool to use against people she disagrees with.
This is a level of intellectual bankruptcy I've not encountered before.
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