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The Last Best Time

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Three fridays ago I was lying in bed on the Nieuw Amsterdam, the cruise ship that the JoCo Cruise was sailing on this year, trying to decide whether or not I want to bother getting my ass up, heading down to the tender boats and going over to Half Moon Cay, our current stop on the cruise. I’d been there before and it was the last full day of a week-long cruise, and no matter how enjoyable a cruise is or has been, at some point you hit cruise fatigue. I was hitting it. Staying in bed and then wandering around a mostly-empty cruise liner for a few hours sounded like a pretty good day.

Then a thought came into my head: You know what you’re going to back to. Who knows when or if you will ever get back to this place again. Go and swim in the ocean, why don’t you. 

So I did. I went and took the tender to Half Moon Cay and hung out on the beach eating ice cream with friends and family, and then jumped into the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean and floated there as fluffy white clouds drifted overhead and my scalp became a rather alarming shade of red. I got out and had lunch with my wife and fed bits of bread to a rooster who knew a sucker when he saw one. Then I jumped back into the water, floated there again and took a moment to be mindful of where I was and who I was there with, and what an actual privilege it was to be afforded this one last best time.

To be clear, six days earlier, as we were boarding the Nieuw Amsterdam, I think most of us knew we were running ahead of a storm. There had been some question of whether loading 2,000 nerds on a cruise liner was a reasonable thing to do at all, given it was clear the coronavirus had landed in the US and was beginning to break out. The cruise line had put restrictions on who could get on the boat based on their previous travel through hotspots, which meant one of the cruise’s performers had to stay off the boat, and the boarding process featured spot health checks of the passengers. Hindsight being what it is, we were lucky that these precautions actually worked as hoped. But we were lucky.

I made a resolution that while I was on the ship I would avoid news and social media. I had email so that if there was a career emergency, my editor, agent or manager could get hold of me, but I had arranged things so that there should have been nothing that whould have been an emergency during the week I was on the boat. We had departed on a Saturday; I was fully confident I wouldn’t have to think about the rest of the world until the next Saturday, when we returned to Fort Lauderdale.

In fact I made it until Thursday morning. Wednesday night my editor at Tor sent me an email, which was, basically: You have to call me immediately.

To which I replied: I’m in the middle of the ocean. There are no cell towers here. Just tell me. 

He responded in the early hours of Thursday, to tell me that my book tour for April had been entirely cancelled — and not just my tour; indeed, every event for every author my publisher published had been cancelled through April at least.

You have no idea what it’s like now, he told me. Everything’s changed. It’s been four months since last Monday. 

And I was all, well, shit, now I have to know. So I looked at the news.

He was right. Everything had changed.

For one, and very much least importantly in the grand scheme of things, no more cruise ships were going out. We were one of the very last to sail, and would be one of the very last to return.

By this time a lot of the performers and passengers on the cruise had also broken their news and social media fasts and were catching up on events in the world, and grasping what we were going to be coming back to when we arrived at port. Most of us also understood our first order when we got back to wherever it was we were going was to put ourselves in quarantine, for our own safety and the safety of others.

Because of that, at least some of us started looking at the cruise in a different light. The JoCo Cruise was always a good time — it’s why it had lasted for ten years and spawned a community that existed outside the confines of the cruise ship — but it was beginning to sink in that this might be the last good time for a while. Maybe for a long while. Or at least, the last good time we could spend with friends in reasonably close proximity, outside of the confines of our own homes.

So we enjoyed it. With the time that we had left to us, we enjoyed our time with each other. Our last best time. Then we came off the boat, got on our planes and came home to where we are now, and to the world as it is now.

We were fortunate. We were fortunate that during a cruise during a viral time, we avoided that contagion; it’s now been two weeks since we returned home, so we’re now outside the understood penumbra of its infection time. If any of us who were on the cruise get sick now, it’s far more likely that we got it here than there.

We’re also fortunate that we got to have this last, best time, with friends and music and laughter and blue skies and oceans to float in. It’s something that will help to sustain us through what we have now, and what is yet to come.

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acdha
6 days ago
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Washington, DC
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sirshannon
1 day ago
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(Hey! I’m a point of light in the last photo. Pretty sure I know which one.)

I realized yesterday that the last time I hugged friends was on this cruise. I wonder if I’ll ever hug a friend again.

Pressure mounts for further delay of Georgia’s May primary election

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Gov. Brian Kemp said Wednesday that he lacks the power to delay Georgia’s May 19 primary even as he announced he would issue a statewide shelter-in-place order amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The election is moving ahead despite pressure from all 11 of the state’s Republican members of Congress, who signed a letter Tuesday urging Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to change the primary date.

Kemp and Raffensperger, both Republicans, said Georgia election laws prevent them from postponing the primary. Kemp said he can’t use emergency powers that last until April 13 to move the May election.

“The attorneys I’ve talked to, I don’t have the authority under this (emergency) order to delay an election,” Kemp said. “I know there’s been a lot of talk about that. We’ve got our hands full in the COVID-19 fight.”

Raffensperger, who already delayed the presidential primary once, said he also lacks the authority to change it again. A state law allows the secretary of state to postpone an election for 45 days during an emergency, as Raffensperger did March 14.

MORE: A map of coronavirus cases in Georgia

MORE: Real-time stats and the latest news on the coronavirus outbreak

The election could still be postponed at a later date, Raffensperger said.

“If and when the governor extends the state of emergency, we can re-evaluate the situation and determine if moving the election is appropriate in light of the circumstances in order to best protect the health and safety of voters, election officials and poll workers,” Raffensperger said.

The Democratic Party opposed stalling the election, saying the government should make it easier for people to vote by mail by paying for postage on absentee ballots.

“Rather than delaying the vote, it is critical that the state expand vote-by-mail and make it accessible for more voters,” said Nikema Williams, the chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Georgia.

Calls to postpone the primary mounted this week with a combined effort from the state’s entire Republican congressional delegation.

“Georgia voters should not be asked to choose between exercising that right and following the guidance of federal, state, and local officials to keep themselves, their families, and our communities healthy,” the delegation wrote in a letter Tuesday to Raffensperger.

The letter was signed by U.S. Sen. David Perdue, U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Georgia’s nine Republican House members.

They’re backed by state House Speaker David Ralston, who said Wednesday that widespread use of absentee-by-mail voting in the primary would hurt Republican candidates.

All 6.9 million active voters in Georgia are being mailed absentee ballot request forms this week by the secretary of state’s office. Voters who return the absentee ballot request forms will be able to participate in the primary without having to come into contact with other people on election day or during early voting.

“This will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia,” Ralston, a Republican from Blue Ridge, said during an interview with FetchYourNews, a North Georgia news site. “Every registered voter is going to get one of these. … This will certainly drive up turnout.”

Republicans say high voter turnout favors Democrats, although that is not always the case. Ralston doesn’t want the mail-in primary to set a precedent for future elections in which heavier use of mail-in ballots drives turnout higher in the general election, when the parties compete against each other.

Ralston said he agreed with President Donald Trump’s criticism of proposals by Democrats for changes in elections such as increased voting by mail and same-day voter registration.

“The things they had in there were crazy. They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again,” Trump said Monday on “Fox & Friends.”

Though Ralston wants the primary date moved, a change in state law allowing it to be further delayed is unlikely during the suspension of the Georgia General Assembly amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Kemp’s broad emergency powers, approved last month by the General Assembly, allow him the ability to suspend state laws, take direct control of civil staffers, restrict travel and limit public gatherings. It’s unclear whether his powers will be renewed after they expire in two weeks.

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acdha
1 day ago
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Saying it out loud: “This will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia. Every registered voter is going to get one of these. … This will certainly drive up turnout.”
Washington, DC
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sirshannon
1 day ago
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Have the elections been postponed until Nov 2024 yet?

We Should All Be Wearing Masks

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This story ran a few days ago in The New York Times under the headline “More Americans Should Probably Wear Masks for Protection”, but when you read halfway down the article, there’s probably about it:

When researchers conducted systematic review of a variety of interventions used during the SARS outbreak in 2003, they found that washing hands more than 10 times daily was 55 percent effective in stopping virus transmission, while wearing a mask was actually more effective — at about 68 percent.

There is a lot of blame to go around regarding this entire pandemic — both globally and here in the U.S. — but the way that both the WHO and CDC have drummed into our heads the notion that we should not wear masks unless we’re sick is outrageously negligent. It’s not just wrong, it’s a lie. It’s nonsense to argue about the fact that wearing a mask — even a homemade one — is less than 100 percent effective. Nothing is 100 percent effective, and all evidence suggests that masks are, at the very least, quite effective.

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Life Reminder 25

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This is a time to rediscover the joy of reading stacks of novels. As you may have more time, you certainly have fewer distractions and the novel is perfect for escapism.

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sirshannon
3 days ago
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Who tf has more time or fewer distractions now?!
sfrazer
2 days ago
yeah, I wish my brain worked that way

SPEKTRMODULE 56

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SPEKTRMODULE 56
30 minutes and 31 seconds

This is an ambient / haunted music podcast curated by Warren Ellis, who is a writer from England.

I am at @warrenellis / warrenellis@gmail.com
and
http://warrenellis.ltd & http://orbitaloperations.com

We are #SPEKTRMODULE on social media.

It lives at spkmdl.libsyn.com

1) logotone by Dirty Knobs

2) “The Graverobber´s Hill” – Asath Reon (from Underworld Narrations – http://blackmara.bandcamp.com )

3) “Vulpes lagopus” – NETHERWORLD (from Algida Bellezza – http://glacialmovements.bandcamp.com )

4) “Final Frontier” – Sun Through Eyelids (from Centuries – http://blackmara.bandcamp.com )

5) “Aeriform” – Hilyard (from Promontory Drift – http://hilyard.bandcamp.com )

6) logotone

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The Last Best Time

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John Scalzi wrote about the experience being on JoCoCruise as Covid-19 started exploding in the U.S.
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