Well, this sucks

I gotta say, I know a lot of places have been harder-hit than us, and I know good and well we’re far from the first area to have to do this, but … Christ, is that a jarring fucking headline to see on your hometown newspaper’s website.

My district just announced that we’re going back to all virtual instruction starting after school next Tuesday. Which is good; we shouldn’t have been back in the first place. We started off the year with the district telling us “data, not dates,” and keeping us out until a week before the end of the first quarter, which … maybe some attention to dates might have been good, as there’s no real reason to come back right before a quarter ends. It was made clear to us that we’d be following the county’s recommendations for our metrics and for when we’d be closing.

Then shit got a lot worse, and they brought us back, which makes perfect sense, ignoring the county-level data in favor of quietly moving to state metrics. I can tell you everything you need to know about our state numbers by pointing out that nothing has changed on our alert level since school restarted despite the fact that we have something like ten times as many daily infections now than we did then. If that can happen without your alert level changing, your metrics are (deliberately) garbage.

All of our neighboring districts have announced in the last few days that they were going virtual. The word from our district– this is a direct quote– was that school closings would be “reactive, not preventative”– in other words, we’d be closing if we got lots of cases or lots of absences due to quarantines in schools, but only individual schools affected by those cases or absences. We would only close because of people being sick, not to prevent people becoming sick. Then they announced two schools would close. Neither of the two schools appeared to be worse than any others on their covid dashboard; indeed, one of them wasn’t even on there.

(The reliability of our district Covid dashboard is, to put it mildly, in dispute.)

Meanwhile, my school has averaged 10 teachers out a day in the last couple of weeks. I don’t know what they think is going on if a quarter of the teachers being out isn’t enough. My kids have been doubled and tripled up in classrooms, which eliminates any benefit of cutting the number of kids in the building.

And today, they abandoned that policy– granted, it was dumb, but still– and sent us all home. In the hour and a half since announcing we were going back to virtual they have already announced that the day we were going back was wrong and changed it– I had to rewrite a paragraph of this because we got new information. Right now they’re still in school Monday and Tuesday and then out indefinitely after that; Wednesday was going to be the first day of Thanksgiving break anyway.

I suspect I will see virtually none of my kids on Monday and Tuesday. I am seriously considering not bothering to assign anything.

God, I’m glad it’s Friday.

In which I decompress

It blows my mind– even given that video games have been one of my primary leisure activities for basically my entire life– just how much of my time I have spent sitting in front of my PlayStation in the last several weeks. I continue to be obsessed with Nioh 2, which I’m playing through again on the (new) highest difficulty level and still has one more DLC coming, presumably in December or January. I’m scared to look, but I bet I’ve got 250+ hours into it by now … which if I choose to look at as a return on my $75 investment, is actually a pretty good use of my money, if nothing else.

I downloaded The Surge 2 on Friday; it’s basically Nioh or Dark Souls except with a techno-organic skin over it. I think I’ve put twelve hours into it in the three days, probably, and I imagine I’m going to go right back to it once I’m finished with this post. I’m actually quite enjoying the book I’m reading right now, but lately I’ve not been able to read during the day. If I’m not working or eating or (occasionally) watching TV with my wife, I’ve got a controller in my hand.

(Note that I did spend my traditional 2-3 hours today finishing my grading and pulling together tomorrow’s lesson plans, and it’s only that short of a time now because since everything is online I’m doing all my grading electronically.)

The PS5 comes out on Thursday; I won’t have one on Thursday unless some sort of miracle occurs, which is fine, because I can’t put the PS4 away until I’m done with Nioh. I will likely buy one as soon as I’m able to, but given how these things usually go that could be next week or it could be months from now. Apparently the plan is that they’re not going to be available in stores at all because of concerns about people waiting in line or camping out and the virus– which I’d be fine with, as I’m doing neither of those things, but it seems what is happening instead is resellers are using bots to buy them and then jacking the prices up online. Whatever; it’ll be a few months before I get bored with what I have, and by that time things will have calmed down.

As of yet, I’m not feeling the sense of relief I was hoping for from the election. I feel better, don’t misunderstand me, but better isn’t good. My wife described all the video games as a coping mechanism, and that’s probably what’s going on. I figure so long as she’s not pissed at me and I’m doing my job at work I don’t have anyone else I need to impress.We’ll see how long this lasts.

Not that I’ll take my own advice, but …

My grading for the weekend and most of my planning for next week is done already, which is a good thing, but that hasn’t stopped me from spending most of the morning doomscrolling. And something has occurred to me: this situation being what it is, we literally cannot trust a single thing we hear from anyone at all. Certainly not the administration, not the doctors, not photographs (note that this picture of him “working” involves signing a blank piece of paper, and this isn’t even the first time that they’ve been caught pulling that dumb-ass move,) nothing. Not one word that any of these people say can be trusted.

There are only two things that can be assumed to have some sort of reasonable truth value here: 1) he dies, or 2) he leaves the hospital. Both would be rather difficult to fake, although I’m sure it’ll be at least a day or two before they admit it if he does actually die.

(I paid fairly close attention once Herman Cain went into the hospital, checking in on his condition once every day or two, and they did the exact same thing– dude was in the hospital for weeks and they consistently insisted he was fine and/or getting better right up until he died.)

Anything short of release or death, good news or bad, has to be presumed to be a lie. And therefore there’s really no point in the doomscrolling, because if he does die or leave the hospital once that information leaks out it’ll be everywhere in seconds, so it’s not like we won’t find out.

So I’m going to try and do something else. I’m going to fail, mind you, but I’m going to try.

A possibly relevant anecdote

A note: I am writing this immediately after the post from last night, and the way things are going it is entirely possible that events will have rendered this post out of date by the time it pops. Today is my mother’s first birthday since she passed away in January, and the immediate family is getting together, so I won’t be around, thus the pre-written post. Which at this point is going to be shorter than the disclaimer.

Further, if something does happen and I suddenly start talking about having converted to some major world religion or another, you know why.

I have been thinking about this story for a good chunk of the day: A good friend’s stepfather passed away several years ago. I feel like it was Parkinson’s, but if it wasn’t it was something similar; one of those terrible wasting sorts of diseases that always come with a life expectancy, sometimes expressed in months and sometimes in years, and sometimes can be managed, and sometimes cannot. I remember finding out he had this disease, and asking my friend how long the doctors had said he had.

My friend gave me a number, and then paused, thinking about it. “He’s not got that long,” he said. “There’s no fight in him.” And, indeed, he was gone fairly quickly after the diagnosis.

And, honestly, I can’t think of anyone with less fight in them than the person in the White House Walter Reed Hospital.

In which I explain as far as I know

To be clear, I hope he dies, and I don’t care who knows it, and the notion that he might die alone and gasping for breath from a disease that he refused to do anything to prevent is so karmically beautiful that I almost don’t know what to do about it.

A few years ago, I was trying to not be that kind of person; I have given up that fight. It’s lost. I hope he dies. He’s a terrible person and he’s responsible for hundreds of thousands of dead people and the fact that my mother never got a funeral and his painful, solitary death would be one of the very few 2020 events that counted as positive.

That said, it’s a little bit constitutionally complicated, so let’s run through some scenarios.

If he dies before the election: Mike Pence becomes President until at least Jan. 20. It is too late for the Republican Party to put anyone else’s name on the ballots. They are printed and thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of people have already voted, and state deadlines have passed. However, continue reading.

If he dies before the election, and loses the election: Mike Pence is still President until Jan. 20, there is likely no Vice President named, and Biden becomes President on January 20.

If he loses the election, then dies: As above. Pence takes office until Jan. 20.

If he dies before the election, and wins the election: This seems unlikely but isn’t impossible, and is where it starts getting complicated. The Republican party is in control of both their nominees and their nomination process, neither of which are specified in the Constitution, since the Constitution knows nothing of political parties. Furthermore, remember, you’re technically not actually voting for President, you’re voting for electors who are bound, sometimes not actually legally, to vote for that person later. There would, no doubt, be a quick party convention where someone– presumably Pence– would be nominated for President, along with a different VP. The Party would then inform their electors in the states they won to vote for whoever the person they chose was. This would have the potential to get really, really interesting if the Republicans find out they can’t coalesce around a single candidate, but that goes beyond my knowledge of the procedures involved. This would skirt some state laws that require electors to vote for the person that won the popular vote in that state, but I don’t see actual prosecutions being likely in this case, although that little wrinkle has potential to make this even more complicated if, say, there’s a state that he won that somehow has a Democratic legislature and governor.

If he wins the election, then dies before the electors have voted and the votes are officially certified by the House: The Electoral College votes on December 14, over a month after the election, and then there’s over a month between the Electoral College voting and the actual inauguration. This is where it gets really interesting. Pence still takes office for at least a little while, but I don’t know if things still work the same way as they would if he wasn’t alive for the election. I think they probably do, so long as the electors have not voted yet, the party can still scramble to pull an actual ticket together, and it wouldn’t automatically be Pence.

If he wins the election, the votes are certified, and then he dies: Pence becomes President, and remains President for the second term, as far as I know. For all I know, it ends up in the Supreme Court, because holy shit is there no precedent for this, but I don’t see it coming out any other way.

Not a lawyer, blah blah blah. If you see anything I’ve blatantly gotten wrong, let me know.