Pandemic Diary 28: Focus, People, Focus

Whatever the opposite of a laser is, that is my unfocused brain in quarantine some days.

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Anecdotal evidence is evidence only of an anecdote, so I report this not with statistical accuracy but only as something noticed: there has been an uptick in the number of posts on my social media feeds of individuals who describe themselves as “TIs” or “targeted individuals.”

“Targeted individuals” labor under the belief that each one is the focus of intense electromagnetic energy pulses sent to torment them; now, these individuals indeed appear to be tormented, to judge from what they write and how they write it (ALL CAPS and no punctuation), so it is no surprise that they need something on which to blame their depression and suffering.

I am one of those readers who always takes a moment to report these accounts to the Twitter or Facebook offices as “someone in danger of self-harm.” As a more-than-casual consumer of content from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, I have my own sense of how often I encounter posts from self-proclaimed targeted individuals: about twice a year. There have been more than that number this month alone.

Is this an effect of quarantine? Our national and global economies are in a free-fall brought on by a mandatory lock down (in many communities) made necessary by a fast-moving virus that mostly kills the infirm and elderly but also kills the young, middle-aged, and healthy (in New York City, more than twenty-five percent of the dead were younger than sixty-four and the greatest number dead of COVID-19 with no underlying condition are those between forty-five and sixty-four; not young but still employable); which ended almost all in-person commercial activity; which led to businesses shut down and employees furloughed or laid off.
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Conspiracy Theories: A One-Layer Cake

About eighteen months after I started publishing articles about human rights issues and revealed that I have contacts inside some other news stories, something new arrived in my neighborhood: local police patrols.

Oooh, spooky. I live in a suburban cul-de-sac in the country, four miles from the nearest anyplace, and I have lived here for two-plus years. When there were teenagers in this neighborhood—and all teenagers are worth keeping an eye on, of course—we rarely saw a police cruiser here. I go ahead and publicly reveal on my teeny-tiny web site that I “know some people” and BOOM! we get a patrol car a few days later. It is a regular enough visitor that I wave at it.

Ah, well. Call me naive and I will never consider it an insult: that police patrol has nothing to do with me. I may desire the thrill of thinking that I live in the exciting fantasy life in which I am under police surveillance or protection, but I am not. I know people who are in fact under surveillance and are being harassed by various government authorities (in European countries and other regions), and this is how I know that I am not. I know journalists whose bank accounts have suddenly vanished, as if they never did business with the bank. (If something even remotely like that happens to me, all two or three of you who read this web site will be the first to know.)

All of the above sounds too much for me like a humblebrag.
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“The least controversial thing you can post is a photo of me? I’m dubious. The most controversial thing you do around me is brag about having opposable thumbs. If hate was a thing, I would do some hate. Is that how you say that?” I am glad I photographed Planet Kitty a couple years ago making her “dubious” face at me.

This blog (typed with my thumbs, because I can, Planet Kitty! I can) regularly publishes controversial posts. What follows is a lightly edited version of “A Conspiracy Theory of Conspiracy Theories,” a column that was published January 31, 2014.
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