Previous “COVID-19” posts

Just Hook It to His Veins 

What’s the worst that could have happened?

Yesterday was the three year anniversary of one of the most absurd moments in all of modern politics, the infamous Four Seasons Total Shitshow. Today, I saw an article about what could have been another such moment. Apparently, back in 2020, then-Prime Minister of England Boris Johnson had the novel idea of being injected with COVID on television. The timelines where that occurred are surely interesting ones.

The Eight Most Terrifying Words in the English Language

“I’m from Amazon, and I’m here to help.”

The healthcare system in America has some major problems. For interesting but unfortunate historical reasons, it’s needlessly tied to employment, so that if you lose your job you’re very likely also losing your healthcare coverage. It’s for-profit, which is no small reasons why medical expenses are one of America’s leading causes of bankruptcy. And it’s terribly difficult to navigate, with rules and regulations that lead people to feel lost.

Given all that, you might be down on the state of American medicine. But don’t worry. Amazon is here to fix it.

An email touting Amazon Clinic

I particularly love their list of things I might be worried about. COVID…my penis……or looking old. Yup, those are the important ones!

Molly Seidel Kicks Ass 

“(Except, uh, then she set the American course record, so…)”

Yesterday, all-around bad-ass Molly Seidel toed the line for her first marathon in a year and a half. She had an impressive race, finishing in 8th place among women, and setting a new personal best of 2:23:07.1 That’s 5:28 per mile, for over 26 straight miles.

In February 2020, just before the pandemic, Seidel ran her very first marathon. It just so happened to be the US Olympics Trials, and her stunning second-place finish netted her a spot on the US Olympic team. A year later, when the COVID-delayed Olympics were finally held in Tokyo, Seidel again shocked the world by taking home the bronze medal. Since she literally roared across that finish line, Molly Seidel has found herself in the spotlight, amassing hundreds of thousands of followers on social media and a place in the hearts of countless runners.2

That’s all incredible, and yet these exceptional results are not the reason Seidel kicks ass. She should be feted instead for her willingness to bare herself before the world. Shortly before her Chicago race, Runner’s World published a tremendous profile on Molly Seidel. She’s been open about her substantial mental health struggles, which she delved into in that piece.

“I’m this incredibly flawed person who struggles so much. I think: How could I have won this thing when I’m so flawed? I look at all the people around me, all these accomplished people who have their shit together, and I’m like, ‘one of these things is not like the other,’” she says, taking a sip of her flat white. “I was literally in the Olympic Village thinking: Everybody is probably looking at me wondering: Why the hell is she here?”

They weren’t. They don’t. She knows that.

And yet her mind races as fast as she does. It takes up So. Much. Space. When she’s running, though, the noise disappears. She’s not Olympic Molly or Eating Disorder Molly, she’s not even, really, Runner Molly. “When I’m running,” she says, “I’m the most authentic version of myself.”

I’ve felt fortunate to see Seidel as we both ran around Boston, and to share a few words with her at the Falmouth Road Race. She’s an incredible inspiration, and as the wise folks at Puma know, that will remain true even if she never places again. Do yourself a favor, and read Rachel Levin’s article.


  1. It was a hell of a day in Chicago, with records falling across multiple categories. Most notably, the new men’s marathon world record belongs to Kelvin Kiptum, whose blazing fast 2:00:35 cut 34 seconds off Eliud Kipchoge’s previous record. That’s 4:36s. Someone’s going to break 2 hours in an official race soon, and it’s going to be incredible.↩︎

  2. That inspiring video is archived here. ↩︎

The Email of Three Lies

“That’s not a twist-off…”

Harvard University sits in the middle of Cambridge, just across the river from Boston. One of the most well-known landmarks on campus is this sculpture of John Harvard:

The “John Harvard” statue[Photo credit: dog97209]

Except, well, it isn’t a sculpture of John Harvard at all. It’s often referred to as the “statue of three lies” because:

  • 1. It’s not a representation of John Harvard.

  • 2. It lists John Harvard as “Founder”, though he was not.

  • 3. It lists the school’s founding as 1638, rather than the correct 1636.

The reason for the first lie is that no one knows what John Harvard looked like. As for the other two fallacies, I’ve no idea why they’ve remained for nearly a century and a half. At least it makes for good tour guide fodder.

I was reminded of this goofy statue thanks to the following email from CVS:

An email from CVS stating “The updated COVID-19 vaccine is here! Oh, and it’s free.”

Somewhat coincidentally, the email arrived shortly before a vaccine appointment I had already scheduled at a nearby CVS location. Though I was a bit concerned about that asterisk on the word “free”, I figured I’d give it a go. Just a few minutes after receiving this email, I biked over to CVS and checked in at the pharmacy desk.

Now, I will note that on the plus side, I did not have to pay for the vaccine. However, that was because I didn’t get immunized at all. The clerk told me all COVID vaccine appointments had been cancelled, because they had not yet received any supply.1

Back at home and sadly unstabbed, I glanced at the email again. That’s when I was reminded of the aforementioned John Harvard statue. You see, this email is false in multiple ways. Like the statue, it features its own trio of tarradiddles. Firstaball, the updated COVID-19 vaccine is, in fact, not here! It’s not here at all, and that’s a problem. Secondaball, the vaccine may or may not be free, as many people have had issues with getting insurance coverage. To their credit, they did at least put a caveat on that. But thirdaball?

That patient’s right arm really does not look like it matches her body. I don’t know if it’s a bad Photoshop, bad lighting, or what, but despite the nail polish and rings, that looks like a (possibly severed) man’s arm draped across her chest.


  1. She also asked me “Did you get a text?”. I could only stare back as I bit my tongue against the snarky responses that sprang to mind. After all, it was CVS’s system that failed to alert me, and that probably wasn’t her fault. But no, no I did not get a text telling me my appointment was cancelled. If I had, I would not have shown up for said appointment. ↩︎

Please Scream Inside Your Heart 

I usually do.

I don’t know why I didn’t write about the following story back when it first appeared. I was aware of it, and it seems a perfect fit for OFT, yet somehow it never made it onto the site. Today, I rectify that mistake.

In July of 2020, we were still near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Worse, we didn’t yet have any vaccines to stem the spread of the virus. Unlike many businesses at that time, the Fuji-Q Highland amusement park in Japan was open, and they wanted to encourage safe practices when going on roller coasters.

“Please scream inside your heart,” and not out loud, the park is asking. The unusual ask is meant to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

“Please scream inside your heart”! It’s good advice for a pandemic, sure. But in our era of modern horrors, I find it can apply at almost any time.

The company also put together a video clip demonstrating the technique, featuring two well-dressed men in masks stoically riding an entire circuit of a roller coaster. From start to finish, it is a work of art:

Two men, in masks, riding a roller coaster with minimal emotion
Just out for a little ride

Almost three years later, I still think about this story. I think it’s timeless enough to be worth posting even now.

That Is Not a Large Hole 

No disrepect intended, Itoh.

In February 2021, a gibbon by the name of Momo gave birth, despite living alone in her enclosure in a Japanese zoo. Two years later, the mystery of her seemingly miraculous pregnancy has been solved. It seems her enclosure wasn’t quite as isolated as zookeepers thought.

According to Wikipedia, multiple health agencies suggested sex along these lines during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Good on these gibbons for listening to guidelines and practicing healthy sex.

An Awful Way to Profit 

Don’t invest in a dying industry.

During the height of COVID-19 in America, companies like Netflix, Zoom, and Peloton saw the values of their stocks soar. It was a bit grotesque for investors to reap profits resulting from a pandemic, but that was nothing compared to the increase recently seen in the stock price of China’s largest funeral services company.

Maybe They Offer a Lifetime Guarantee 

In 500 years, engravings will likely still be legible, while the QR codes will be meaningless.

When I first ran into QR codes in 2011, I had an amusingly miserable experience. In the decade-plus since, the technology has gotten a bit more usable, particularly after QR code scanning was built in to the camera app on smartphones. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many restaurants switched to online menus accessed via QR code, and many still haven’t switched back. I suppose people just weren’t poking at their phones in public enough already.

While QR codes are now pretty well established, they remain distinctly unappealing to me. They feel like a kludge, unwanted technology that’s been forced on us to solve a problem in a clunky way. As such, when I heard about a company placing QR codes on gravestones, my immediate thought was “Tacky!”.

A gravestone with a QR code on it.
Sorry, Danny Boy.

Beyond that, though, it just seems unlikely that this business will last very long in the grand scheme of things. The idea of preserving the stories of the deceased is a fine one, but using QR codes to link to a small company’s website just feels terribly fragile. In 20, or 50, or 100 years, when “The Story Of” ever stops paying for their servers, these gravestones are just going to be festooned with useless trash.

Still, it could be worse. From the picture above, it appears it won’t be to difficult to remove the codes in the future. At least they aren’t engraving QR codes directly onto the headstone.

COVID-19 Deaths Now Skew Political 

Sadly, I find that my reaction to a story like this can be summarized with one simple, blasé emoji: 🆗.

COVID-19 is still with us, and it’s still killing people. In 2021, however, the people it killed were not evenly distributed when it came to their political affiliation.

The study, titled Excess Death Rates for Republicans and Democrats During the COVID-19 Pandemic, used voter registration and death records to answer a question: is there a link between political affiliation and rates of COVID related death in the U.S.?

The short answer is yes…in the summer of 2021—after vaccines were widely available—the Republican excess death rate rose to nearly double that of Democrats, and this gap widened further in the winter of 2021.”

We have tools to greatly diminish the lethality of COVID-19, but one group of people has been much more reluctant to take common-sense precautions like getting vaccinated (and boosted) and wearing masks. Instead, they’ve fixated on a noxious belief that their “freedoms” are more important than the health of others. That group has been led astray by their political leaders and news outlets, and now it’s literally killing them. This loss of lives is horrible, but it’s difficult to feel sorrow for people who refuse to even care about themselves, let alone others.

We Don’t Need Robots for This 

I would be disinclined to yield to a delivery robot.

Delivery food is seldom particularly good, but it’s grown enormously popular in recent years, in no small part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, pools of workers bustle around cities for companies like Grubhub and Uber Eats, delivering food from dozens of different restaurants. This army was already strange, but Los Angeles has one-upped it., with multiple companies using robots to carry out these deliveries:

Over the last two years, a handful of delivery robot companies have popped up in Los Angeles, which are essentially remotely piloted (or autonomous, in some cases) cooler-shaped chests on wheels. The issues associated with these robots vary: In Santa Monica, a company called Coco has basically turned food delivery into a video game. Delivery “drivers” pilot the robots remotely, using an Xbox controller and using a series of cameras to help guide them. Serve Robotics explains that its robots operate with “Level 4 autonomy,” meaning they are fully autonomous in certain areas.

The linked article is actually about one of these robots driving through an active crime scene, which is not great! But really, the idea of sidewalks crowded with delivery robots moving autonomously or piloted by unseen humans seems terrible all on its own.