10/23/2021

Back to Regular Posting Next Week, But Check Out These UK Anti-Vaxxers


Yeah, it's been quiet in these parts the last 2 weeks while I've been on my UK walkabout. I'll be posting again come next week. Give a guy a fuckin' vacation every decade or so.

One thing I saw in several places were small anti-vaccine protests, where well-dressed fucknuts tried to engage passersby. There were almost always more curious gawkers like me than actual participants. Check out this weird little gathering in front of Parliament last week:

This is what you get when you don't have an entire fucking political party devoted to your bullshit message.

10/07/2021

The US Is Ass-Backwards When It Comes to Covid and Freedom

It was as simple as it was obvious. I’m over here in the UK. In Manchester right now, to be precise, and, sure, I’m having a bit of a rough time with the Mancunian accent. When I was buying a concert t-shirt last night, the guy selling it asked if I wanted it “with tits or without tits.” Or at least that’s what I heard, and I thought he was making a joke about wanting a men’s or women’s shirt. So I laughed. It wasn’t funny, but, you know, fuck it, maybe he’d knock five pounds off the price. He did not. “No,” he said. “Tits. Do you want it with tits?” I must have looked utterly confused because another man gestured at the shirt’s back on the display and said, “Tits,” when I realized what he was saying was “dits,” not tits, and that “dits” were “dates,” as in the dates of the band’s tour, and, yes, I did want the shirt with the dits. 

But I’m not writing this to talk about cute misunderstandings between accents in the English language. No, it was before the show that I realized how easy things could be. See, the venue required either the National Health Service’s vaccine passport, which was in a phone app, or, if you weren’t vaccinated or weren’t part of the NHS (as a tourist wouldn’t be), you had to have taken an antigen test within the last 24 hours. In the United States, that would be onerous and expensive, with you needing to find a store that had at-home tests and paying $20-25 for just two in, say, a box from Abbott, as I recently paid at a Walgreen’s in New Jersey. The next time I went there, they were out.

When I said to my companion who lives here that we’d better go try to find an antigen test, she stared at me and said, “No. You just go to a pharmacist or the NHS clinic and you get a box of like 7 or 8 for free.” That was it. Truly. And anyone could get them. You literally walk into a clinic and they…hand it to you like it’s health care Halloween. Now, there’s a certain amount of trust and responsibility built in because you test yourself, scan a QR code, and upload your info and the test result to the NHS, and you can lie. But I’d imagine most people don’t and, like me, simply sent in the results (I was negative), got an email back from the NHS, showed it while walking into the venue, and rocked my ass off among others who were either vaccinated or had just tested. 

Imagine that, though. Imagine having access to free tests no matter your income (no fucking “means testing”). Imagine having that to test before you go visit your parents or grandparents or before visiting friends with kids who can’t get vaccinated yet. Some of the people I’ve met here tell me that they keep getting sent boxes of tests (turns out they have 7 in them) and just have a stack of them at this point. It’s so fucking simple. It’s so fucking obvious. You want people to feel safe? Give them the means to do so. That'll get the economy up and running. That'll get you some goddamn real freedom, not the fake freedom that means "leave me the fuck alone."

You know what else is simple and obvious besides Boris Johnson? That national vaccine passport. Right now in the United States, if I go to, say, Pennsylvania, they won’t take my New York Excelsior Pass as proof that I’m vaccinated. Oh, no. I’ve gotta bring my oversized fucking card with my vaccination details scrawled on it like it’s the goddamn 1800s. In fact, my school has a different pass to get in. And some events have another pass. Right now, I have three different apps saying that I'm vaccinated. Why the fuck is that necessary? Goddamn, we are so advanced in our medical research and so fucking primitive in health care policy.

Here in the UK, no matter where someone goes, their NHS passport is accepted, like this is one fucking country. (Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own NHS apps, but they honor the England and Wales one.) But almost no one is shrieking about “government control” or some such bullshit. It makes like easier. That’s it. That’s the calculus. The fact that we don’t have a national database of who is vaccinated in the United States is fucking deranged. Oh, and by the fuckin’ way, the original card is actually wallet-sized here, not some weird index card size. 

Yeah, there are anti-vaxx protesters. I saw a few in downtown Manchester, among the many protest groups vying for attention as the Tory Party met in its annual meeting. They were as barking mad as ours in the United States, with signs with fake statistics about the number of people who allegedly died from the vaccine, with photos of people who they say the vaccine murdered. But in a country where nearly 90% of people over 16 have had at least one dose and 82% are fully-vaccinated (and growing), you can fucking well bet that the effect of the anti-vaxxers has been something close to nil. 

The UK is going through a lot of unnecessary bullshit right now because of Brexit and because of the cruel Tory government and because of vile fucknut Boris Johnson and because the Labour Party is a feckless shadow of itself at this point. But, after royally fucking it up early on and with fuck-ups along the way, the nation seems to have gotten itself past the crisis at last. Hell, most people don’t even wear masks up here in the North West which might not be smart, but you can do that if you’ve got most everyone vaccinated. 

I'll give the final word to a guy from Northern Ireland I was drinking with when I said it was miraculous that even a Tory government could accomplish this. He said, "That’s what can happen when half your politicians aren’t working to undermine science like the right cunts you have in the United States."