Further Rejoicing

Was it really just last week that we declared the COVID epidemic a relic of history?

Sadly, yes.

I say “sadly” because apparently the Federal Government agrees. The program to provide free in-home tests is shutting down Friday because it’s out of money. Get your orders in quickly, folks.

Actually, wouldn’t it be interesting to know how many tests get ordered this week, compared to the past three or four weeks? I doubt we’ll ever see the numbers, but I’d love to be proved wrong about that.

If you want to try and sneak in an order–I did Tuesday afternoon and it went through just fine–the URL is https://www.covid.gov/tests. Actually, the order went through so smoothly, I’m taking it as additional confirmation that the American Public as a whole has moved on to the Next Great Crisis.

And my apologies for whatever influence my post might have had in encouraging that migration.

I really do need to stop reading the news*. It only depresses me, and then I have to spend an hour or two cruising Love Meow to restore my equilibrium.

* To be fair, the local newspaper isn’t as bad as Google News. I could do without the endless 49ers stories, now that football season is upon us, but I don’t find them depressing, just boring. And–fair’s fair–I’m sure the football fans find the endless Giants stories just as useless. (I think we can all agree that the endless stream of stories about the Athletics trash fire of a stadium quest are both depressing and hugely entertaining.)

Apparently, the Google Assistant on my phone has figured out that pattern in my actions. For the past couple of weeks, every time I’ve looked at the news feed (swipe left from the Home screen), it’s included a Love Meow story halfway down the screen. I’m considering it a palette cleanser.

I can’t decide if I’m pleased that my phone is trying to take such good care of me or depressed that my phone thinks I need cheering up. And yes, I’m well aware of the irony in Google Assistant feeling compelled to counteract the effects of Google News.

For the record, as I write this post on Tuesday afternoon, Google News is showing eleven stories on its “New” home page. Mikhail Gorbachev’s death–which I’m largely neutral about–is the top story, followed by the impending heat wave on the West Coast (depressing), the water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi (very depressing), Biden calling out Republicans over gun control (about damn time, but depressing that it’s necessary and unlikely to go anywhere), and the latest on the Ukraine/Russia war (very depressing). That’s four out of five depressing.

Local news has stories on a shooting, senior housing, and school vandalizations (one depressing, one mildly enlivening, and one mixed–depressing that the local schools need nearly $100 thousand to repair the damage, cheering that it’s being donated by one of our corporate overlords (Chevron)).

The only real cheer is in the “Picks for you” section. Google is keeping the orange-faced asshole’s social media app out of the Play Store, Albert Pujols is getting close to passing Alex Rodriguez (spit!) on the all-time home run list, and an opinion piece on the rumored iPhone 14*. Two happy stories and one neutral? I’ll take it.

* The phones will probably be announced at an Apple event next week. Expect my usual Wednesday post to be delayed a day so I can bring you my usual totally unbiased coverage of all the announcements.

Rejoice!

Apparently the pandemic is over.

You didn’t know?

Well, nobody’s said it’s in the past, but judging by the way people are acting, we’re in the post-COVID era.

Social distancing in queues is non-existent and barely present elsewhere. I actually heard someone say they’d given up on keeping six feet away from the person in front of them in line “because it makes the line too long.” Never mind that it takes the same amount of time to move through the line regardless of spacing.

Mask wearing is at the lowest level since February of 2020. And I hear more and more maskless people saying some variation on “Oh, am I supposed to wear a mask?” or (even more annoyingly) “Why are you still wearing that thing?”

Even the people wearing masks take them off at any opportunity. I’m even seeing an uptick in people taking off their masks because they can’t hear what people are saying. What? You’re not wearing your mask over your ears, you know.

Vaccination rates continue to drop, along with semi-plausible excuses. One hardly ever hears “I’m waiting for the Omicron-specific booster,” any more, or even “Am I eligible for a booster?”

I’m surprised we haven’t seen any lawsuits alleging that widespread masking is harmful to “the children”.

I’m not even hearing much about annual COVID vaccinations to go along with people’s annual flu shot.

Remember back in 2020 when everyone wanted to know what the “New Normal” was going to be? Apparently this is it.

The sad truth is, though, that COVID is still around, infecting and mutating.

Mutations aren’t necessarily less deadly than their ancestors. Yes, over time, less-fatal strains of viruses tend to dominate. After all, parasites that kill their hosts have less time to spread themselves. But they do spread and they do kill before they die out.

Even without a deadlier variant emerging, we’re still seeing hundreds of deaths a day in the US.

But here we are.

America has collectively decided they’ve had enough of the pandemic, so they’re declaring it done.

COVID-19? Darling, that’s so last year.

I do what I can. I still mask up in public. I wash my hands religiously and use way too much disinfectant for my skin’s health. But I’m just me. Nobody’s taking their cues from what I say or do.

For a while, I thought a few high-profile deaths might motivate people to start taking precautions again, but I think we’re past that point. I’m pretty sure Donald Trump, Lindsey Graham, and Ron DeSantis could all fall victim to COVID-19 simultaneously, and the public reaction would be a collective shrug and “It’s no worse than the flu.”

COVID-19? It is this year. And at this rate, next year too.

Sedalia 2022

So, yes, Sedalia.

The festival came off, despite three musicians having to cancel due to COVID-19. Alternates were found, programming went on, and a good time was had by all. Or all in attendance, anyway. I won’t speak for those who were stuck at home. And more than a week after returning, I remain symptom-free, nor have I heard anything suggesting widespread post-festival infections.

The music was, as always, excellent. The upgraded Pavilion venue is a rousing success. And good fellowship ran rampant—unsurprisingly, variants of the phrase “it’s great to be back after two years” were heard everywhere. Arguably, heard a bit too much. Mad props to Taslimah Bey for being the only person* to refer on stage to those we’ve lost over the past two years, whether to COVID-19 or other causes.

* Granted, with three widely separated stages going at once, it’s possible I missed someone else making note of our losses during the outdoor sets. But she’s definitely the only one to comment during the concerts when—theoretically—everyone was present in one place.

I believe attendance was down—unsurprisingly—but there did seem to be more local residents attending than in years past.

One of those unable to attend, regrettably, was Bill McNally. Since Bill is the director for the Ragtime Kids Program, I was worried about how it would work out, but he pulled it off remotely. Both of the Kids did stellar turns—highlights of the festival IMNSHO. Leo Roth’s symposium was well worth getting up for* and Tadao Tomokiyo’s performances drew rave reviews.

* Why does the festival only schedule symposia in the morning? There always seems to be at least one I’d like to attend, but can’t quite drag myself out of bed for. Time zones suck.

The presentation of the Ragtime Kids at the Friday afternoon concert—you can see the whole event on YouTube—went smoothly. Those long, skinny things we gave them are inscribed piano keys; part of their loot bags, which also included posters, books, and their honoraria.

All in all, the festival was a success. But being in Sedalia was, well, uncomfortable. The inhabitants don’t think the same way as us West Coasters. Which I knew going in, but it was still a bit of a shock to see and hear it.

Case in point: over the four days we were there, we went into six restaurants. One had removed tables to allow more space between patrons. Only one—a different one—had added outdoor seating. No locals were wearing masks. And the drugstore we passed every day had a sign out front begging people to drop in for COVID-19 vaccinations (around here, you need an appointment, but apparently even that’s too much to ask of a Sedalian.)

Nor does there seem to be any recognition of climate change. As we were driving into town, we noted a significant paucity of corn fields. When we mentioned it to locals, the response was a shrug and “It’s been too wet to plant corn this year. Now that it’s drying out, we’re planting soybeans.” No one seemed concerned about next year.

But the biggest barrier to understanding between the edges of the country and the center? Gas.

My local gas station has the lowest prices around. When I passed it on my way to the airport, the price per gallon was $6.139. That day, prices everywhere between Kansas City and Sedalia were between $4.129 and $4.159. Over the course of the festival, the price rose to $4.549. When I got home, the California price was $6.359.

Sure, there were some grumbles about the high price of gas. But not the sort of “this is outrageous” rumblings that are driving Californians—and other Coasters—to buy hybrids and electrics. Why should they worry? Filling the tank doesn’t require a bank loan.

If the EPA really wants to drive adoption of alternatively powered vehicles, they should push for legislation setting a single price of gas across the country. Never fly, of course; the oil industry would love the short-term profits, but they’re smart enough to know the long-term effects would kill off their business. A pity.

SAST 20

One thing I didn’t mention in last week’s Google I/O comments was the Chromecast with Google TV. That’s something else you can blame Google for: they didn’t say anything about the gadget.

Quite a disappointment, actually. The CwGT is what the original Chromecast should have been. Though, in fairness to Google, the software wasn’t there at the time. See, unlike the Chromecast–which was designed as a single-purpose device to stream video under the control of your phone–the CwGT is a general-purpose Android device. Yes, it’s only output is via HDMI, typically to a TV, but it’s got the full Google Play Store, so you can install all* your favorite apps. Games, alternate video players, messaging apps, or whatever. All controlled via a simple remote with voice support or any Bluetooth gadget you want to hook up.

* Usual caveats about not all apps in the store are available for all devices apply.

I love mine. I’ll skip the ramblings about why, since this is an SAST post.

But.

It does have some shortcomings. Many people find its storage limited (can anyone really survive on 8 GB today–especially when the OS uses half of it?) and the hardware video decoding support lacks a few recently popular formats. And then there’s the fact that the last software update came out back in October.

So the newsrumor back in January that a new model was on the horizon was greeted with great fervor. Even the thought of the new model being intended as a lower-end option didn’t dampen the enthusiasm much. Because of course Google would slip in a few under-the-hood improvements to make up for the maximum resolution of 1080p, right?

Nice theory, anyway. But not a word at Google I/O about the CwGT or a successor. Shades of the late not-so-lamented Nexus Q media player.

Moving on.

A few days ago, I was listening to SiriusXM’s 40s channel on my way to work and–as I tend to do when I’m alone in the car*–absentmindedly singing along with most of the songs. Because I’ve been listening to Swing Era radio stations for more than four decades, I know most of the lyrics. Well enough to sing them, as long as I don’t try to think about what I’m singing. If I think about about it, though, I start trying to rewrite the lyrics and it all goes downhill from there.

* I’m not going to inflict my singing voice on anyone. I’m not that cruel.

Anyway, I was cheerfully semi-oblivious until a verse yanked me into conscious thought.

Halfway through the Martha Tilton/Harry Babbit version of “Let’s Get Away From It All“, there’s this verse:

Let’s spend a day at the White House

Pay Mr. Truman a call

We’ll visit the Veep there*

See Congress asleep there

Let’s get away from it all

* There’s a joke here: there was no vice president for the first several years of Truman’s presidency. And, as the song suggests, I’m not sure anyone particularly noticed or cared when Alben Barkley got the job in ’48.

Don’t understand why my tongue tripped over its metaphorical feet?

Consider: There was a day within living memory when common citizens could take a White House tour and have a chance, however microscopic, of seeing the president. Sure, the song is exaggerating for humor; I doubt anyone would have dropped in expecting meet Harry T.–much less sit down with him over coffee–but see him? Sure, could’ve happened. Not today.

More: Also within living memory, you could make fun of an ineffective politician or two without being branded a traitor, excoriated in the press, and buried under massive piles of letters blaming everything on the other party.

The Forties had plenty of problems, it’s true. And regrettably, most of them are problems we still have today–starting with racism, sexism, a World War, economic disruption, etc., etc., etc. And granted, politics could get vicious, but they were accessible to the concerned individual. Yes, the canonical smoke-filled room, but anyone* could get into politics at a local level and make himself a place in that room. He might have to buy his own cigars, but even so.

* Okay, any male person. Who was white. And not too obviously…you know.

I regret that we’ve reached the point where politics can’t be played by amateurs.

Welcome to May

As the Beatles said, “I read the news today. Oh, boy.”

All in all, four thousand holes just about anywhere would be an improvement.

I’m not going to say much about the Supreme Court’s leaked draft opinion, but I do recommend you check out Charles Stross’ post for a quick rundown on other rights that are on the chopping block if the opinion stands as currently written.

That said, I find it interesting that none of the stories I’ve seen have even speculated about how the draft was leaked. I saw one passing mention of the leak being “unprecedented”, but not Word One about how it got out*.

* If you value your sanity and your breakfast, do not read anything Fox News has to say. The pieces I dipped into explicitly state that the content of the decision is unimportant; what matters is to find and punish the leakers before ‘The Left’ can turn them into heroes. I’ll leave what the commenters are saying to your imagination. Trust me, it’s worse than you might come up with.

Anyway, what I found most interesting, and least predictable, was the other main topic of reporting. Suddenly, over the past few days, the papers* are full of stories about suicide.

* Including the all-electronic ones. Which raises a question: what do we call those sources of information and information-like content? “The electrons”? Might be overbroad. But I digress.

To the extent that they focus on suicide prevention, this is a GoodThing™. But I find the timing interesting. Yes, there have been several high-profile suicides lately. But when has that not been true? What makes this batch so significant that so many news sources feel the need to cover the subject in depth?

For the record, I’m not suggesting that it’s anticipatory of an upswing in abortion-related suicides. I refuse to believe that knowledge of the impending leak could have been that widespread in newsrooms without the general public hearing about it. No conspiracy theory here.

I don’t have an answer to “why”. Why does anything become a trend–or a fad, for that matter?

But whatever the reason, I’m hoping the trend continues. With everything else in the news these days, we’re not going to see a reduction in the suicide rate without positive action.

That Felt Weird

Maggie and I did some socializing last week.

For the first time in two years. Which makes us sound anti-social by traditional standards, but these days, it’s, well, the New Normal. Rather a depressing thought, isn’t it? Sorry about that.

And, to be frank, I wasn’t sure I was ready to spend an evening with other people when none of us would be masked. Even though everyone was vaccinated, boostered, and had taken a rapid test. But the payoff would be huge, so I went.

I mean, given the chance to hang out with our godkittehs…


…why in the name of all that’s furry would I decline?

And after all the build-up, and wary anticipation, the strangest thing about the evening was how normal it felt.

I mean, I’ve seen a number of my cow-orkers unmasked, and they looked really weird. There has been a significant quantity of staff turnover, to the point where I hadn’t ever seen some of those people without a mask. Others, I’ve only seen with their masks on for two years.

Discovering they have mouths is disconcerting at best. Disturbing in some cases. I didn’t know one of them had a beard.

But everyone at the gathering last week–even the bipeds–was face-naked. And it felt perfectly fine.

Maybe the difference is that I’ve never seen them masked. But then again, at work I see customers without masks–people I’ve never seen masked before–and they look odd. What’s that pink, flappy thing where the mask should be? Is it supposed to be there?

Now what? Even though I’m no longer required to wear a mask at work, I’ve been continuing to do it, because it makes me feel more comfortable. Should I take a hit to my comfort level and do my part to push a return to the Old Normal? Or look at the rising caseload in countries like Germany and China and do what I can to establish a new New Normal–one where masking is acceptable, even when not required?

I’m open to going mask-free. Not eager, perhaps, but I’m willing to consider it generally or on a case-by-case basis. And there’s one very strong argument for keeping the mask on for another couple of months when I’m outside the house: I don’t know about you, but my hay fever has been much less of a thing than usual the past two Springs. I find I like not sneezing uncontrollably whenever trees throw reproductive material at me.

So, for right now, the mask stays on, with exceptions for special occasions. Like visiting Patti and Forti.

And now I have to do is hope there’s no major backlash coming. We don’t–really, really don’t–need anti-mask mandates. But I have this sneaking suspicion they’ll be coming soon to Florida, Texas, and other states that ought to know better by now.

While We’re Waiting

No baseball.

Yes, I know. We’ve got college ball. We’ll have minor league baseball shortly. Odds are, if MLB doesn’t give us any signs of progress, we’ll get Korean and Japanese baseball on TV.

But for many of us, that’s all methadone. We want the full-on MLB experience.

Maybe not every little bit of it. I, for one, could do without the outrageously expensive tickets, the TV blackouts, or the looming threat of robot umpires. Which probably gives you some idea of which side of the labor strife I’m on.

Not that I think the players are blameless either. But I’m sympathetic to their desire to make the most of their skills.

I had a dream. No, not literally. That was last week.

But I dreamt that Congress found something to unite behind: revoking MLB’s anti-trust exemption. With that and a few other changes, a rival league could rise up. Maybe one of the independent leagues could catch major attention with a retro approach, rolling back all of the oddball experiments MLB has inflicted on us. Or go the other way, trying a bunch of experiments to see what really works–like the original XFL, but with a dose of sanity.

Of course, none of that would work without access to players. So the other half of the dream is to free up the players, which would require additional legislation. The goal would be to break the bonds that tie players to a single team from Day One. So, block the draft and require that MLB contracts be subject to “At Will” requirements.

A software engineer at Google can over to Apple–or go independent with her own startup–without Apple having to send Google two QA Analysts to be named later. So why can’t a ballplayer with, say, the Phillies, send a note to the Orioles–or the Austin Weirdos*–“Hey, I hear you’re looking for a second baseman. I’m having a breakout year; what’s 6 WAR worth to you?”

* Currently in the Pecos independent league. But in a new regulatory regime, who knows?

Obviously, there’d need to be some limitations. But any league could set their own rules: no player hired after such-and-such a date can play in the playoffs, for example. Or in our hypothetical XBL, maybe players hired in the last month of the season or during the playoffs have to wear flat shoes instead of cleats.

None of the above is ever going to happen, of course. MLB is too good at defending its turf. But our current freedom from MLB means we’ve got some freedom to make our own 2022 season.

Doing Right

It occurs to me that I’ve been remiss lately. I’ve been complaining about those who do life wrong–anti-vaxxers and anti-abortionists, Republicans, and software designers, for example–but I haven’t given any guidance for how to do life right.

I mean, I’d have thought it would be obvious, but the news continues to prove that it’s anything but.

So, with that–and my desire to make this blog a somewhat cheerier place–allow me to present a short playlist of songs that set a proper example.

Actually, it’s a very short playlist, so before I go there, I’m going to highlight a couple of songs that didn’t make the list.

“Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag”

Damn near everybody has done this one–this version is Bob Crosby and Martha Tilton–buy why? Ignore your problems and they’ll go away is lousy advice in any situation. Maybe it’s useful as a short-term strategy in a high-stress situation, but I’m even dubious about that. Anyone else think this was an early precursor to a certain track from Bobby McFerrin?

“On the Sunny Side of the Street”

Another dubious recommendation that everyone takes a swing at. No digs at Benny Goodman and Peggy Lee: it’s a great song. But really, “deny your problems exist and let someone else deal with them” isn’t helpful either personally or socially. As we’ve seen with the Republican attitude toward climate change.

“Swinging on a Star”

Bing Crosby, of course. The song is so loaded with negative stereotypes, I just can’t bring myself to recommend it as a guide to life: mules are stubborn and stupid, pigs are rude and dirty, and fish are sneaky scammers, or so Der Bingle tells us. So, even though the advice is good–stay in school, or, more generally, learn something–is an excellent first step towards living right, I just can’t bring myself to put it on the playlist.

Let’s move on to the songs that did make the cut.

“Pennies from Heaven”

Bing Crosby again, this time in a number that does meet my standards. His introduction seems like it would be a better fit for “The Best Things in Life Are Free”, and some of the advice is a bit dubious. Taken literally, carrying your umbrella upside down is not only counterproductive from a liquid standpoint, but any cash falling into it is likely to bounce right out. Figuratively, though, it’s on the money (sorry): smiling even when you don’t feel it can make you feel better. And who can argue with any song that reminds you that standing under a tree during a lightning storm is a bad idea?

“Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive”

Johnny Mercer nails this one, musically-speaking*. The lyrics are a bit more Judeo-Christian than I’d really like–Noah and Jonah feature prominently–but the message works. Focus on the good things. Acknowledge the bad, sure, but don’t let them control you. And, while the words do stress having faith, it’s not specifically faith in God. As far as I’m concerned, faith in yourself works just as well.

* And I do love the intro. “The topic will be Sin / And that’s what I’m ag’in’.”

“Straighten Up and Fly Right”

Nat King Cole, of course. And the advice is as timeless as the performance. Listen to that little cricket in the top hat. Nobody has to tell you when–or how–you’re going wrong; you know it already. Don’t call that voice a conscience if it makes you uncomfortable to think you have one, but listen up. And fly right, brother.

“Let It Alone”

The Dixie Hummingbirds’ biggest fame came as a result of backing up Paul Simon, but they’ve been around for nearly a century. This track* often gets lost among their gospel numbers with more conventional lyrics and themes. But the message here is worth remembering: not only can you not fix everyone’s problems, but you shouldn’t even try. It’s not “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. Even the sinless have better things to do than to go nosing into other people’s business.

* Historical diversion: Kids, ask your grandparents about early methods of recording video. In particular, ask them about the SLP mode on VHS recorders. (Hint: it slowed the tape speed to one-third the normal rate, allowing six hours of recording on a single tape, at the cost of a significant degradation in video and audio quality.) Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to find a better recording of this song online.

“Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”

Monty Python, closing out our playlist. Be optimistic, pessimism will get you nowhere. I think it’s the best advice you’ll find in a song, even though as a pessimist by nature, I struggle to apply it myself. But when I fail, I do a bit of whistling, and I’m ready to try again.

Happy Tidings

Recent posts have, I’ll admit, been somewhat on the negative–if not outright depressing–side.

I mean, really. We’ve had posts about an entirely inadequate substitute for fireworks, persistent non-vaccination, software incomprehensible to a significant portion of its users, and the ongoing Hall of Fame controversies. And that’s just this year!

So I’ll cop to negativity. But I’ll deny any suggestion that I like the blog that way. I’m just editorializing on the news, after all, and there’s only so much one can do with the state of the world right now.

So, with the start of a new month, I’m delighted to have a story to talk about that’s nothing but good news, even if it is old news for many of you.

For the first time in over a decade, America has a First Cat. No, not a King of the Cats. This is still–barely–a democracy. Sorry, trying to stay positive.

Yes, the Bidens have brought a cat into the White House. Willow, by name.

Better news: she’s not some pampered show cat from a high-end breeder; instead, she’s a now-former working class cat–a farm cat, to be precise–from Pennsylvania. One hopes that her mousing skills will be unnecessary in her new home, but it’s good to know that, should the President be faced with an invasion of rodents*, he’s got a defense in depth.

* Am I the only one who thinks Mitch McConnell looks distinctly rodential? Wouldn’t you like to be the proverbial fly on the wall the first time he meets Willow?

But the best news of all?

Our new #COTUS is named for Willow Grove, Pennsylvania–Jill Biden’s home town. Thank all that’s holy for that. Imagine the horror if “Willow” had been short for “Pussy Willow”. The sugar overdose would have rotted teeth across the entire breadth of the country!

An Interesting Idea

Hmm.

Apparently, Quebec has given up on the carrot and is ready to try the stick. According to news reports, the roughly 13% of the province’s population that haven’t gotten at least one shot will have to pay a tax penalty.

It’s obvious that appeals to common sense have gone as far as they’re going to. And incentive programs have probably reached their limits as well. One can only offer so many lotteries, after all, and anyone who might be lured in by cash payments, offers of food and beverages, or merchandise promoting local sports franchises has probably succumbed to said temptation.

Although, as the BBC notes, this isn’t the first attempt to force the unvaccinated to pay–they cite a monthly fine in Greece and Singapore’s refusal to pay for health care for the unvaccinated–it does seem to be an approach that few politicians of any stripe are willing to propose.

So, kudos to Quebec for trying something a little different. Some details remain to be worked out, of course. The size of the tax bill hasn’t been set–one wonders if it’ll be a flat amount, a flat percentage, or some kind of graduated number based on age, income, or political affiliation–and I doubt whether there’s any agreement yet over whether refunds are possible if people do get vaccinated after paying up. Or, for that matter, whether a cut-off date has been set yet, or if there’s still time for people to get their shots and avoid the charge.

Any such plan in the U.S. would inevitably allow for medical and religious exemptions–making it entirely useless–and then be tied up in the courts for years anyway. Plenty of well-known anti-vaxxers north of the border; will Quebec’s plan run afoul of them?

All that said, I’d love to see a similar plan tried in a region with a much lower vaccinated percentage*. Any brave state politicians want to give it a shot?

* As of a couple of days ago, less than half of the populations of Mississippi, Alabama, Wyoming, and Idaho were fully vaccinated. For that matter, Quebec is doing better than any U.S. state: Vermont had the highest vaccination rate at 78.21%, slightly behind Quebec’s 78.32% rate.

There must be ways to make it slightly less of a political suicide pill. Plenty of states have taxes that are only imposed on certain people: gas taxes to pay for road repair, property taxes to pay for schools, and so forth. Maybe some states could make a non-vaccination tax fly by making it conditional: you only pay the tax–with the funds being earmarked to go to state hospitals–if you’re unvaccinated and are hospitalized for COVID-19.

Nah, never going to work in the U.S. But I look forward to hearing how it goes over in Quebec–and whether it actually raises the vaccination rate.