People who know me know that I have been very critical almost from the very start of the whole global reaction to “Covid” and the unprecedented use of authoritarian measures such as forced masks and “lockdowns”, among other measures which have proven to be not only useless, but harmless.

I am also very wary of this strange mass vaccination campaign with a new technology whose long-term effects we do not know, and ideas such as “vaccine passports” (to my mind, vaccinations should be optional and never forced, directly or indirectly).

Now, many people are hoping that as the pandemic eventually subsides, things will get back to “normal”. But will they? Hasn’t “normal” already changed by the imposition of such norms and such technology?

Let’s say the pandemic ends, everyone is happy, we don’t hear so much about “Covid” again. Great. But then, some other virus comes up, or perhaps it’s “global warming”, or “bio-terrorism”, or some other natural or artificial accident. Won’t governments and authorities immediately go into the same, or perhaps even worse, measures?

Once they have been deployed, things like constant surveillance, almost total digitalization of money, education and entertainment, imposition of “social distancing”, etc, won’t go away. Just like having to take off your shoes or not being able to bring a water bottle before boarding a plane have never gone away, even if there was only one (very suspicious) case of a “shoe bomber” and, as far as I know, no cases of “water bottle” bombers.

So, no, I don’t think we will go back to “normal”, we are already in “normal”, this is “normal” now. Whether you like it or not.

(For more about where this “new normal” can take us, read my short story “The Great Unvaxxed” published at the Off-Guardian.)

I have to admit I never liked Dr. Seuss’s books. I don’t know why, but neither the illustrations nor the poems were attractive to me either as a child or as an adult, and they were not part of my childhood in any case. I was reading other stuff, such as Tintin, Asterix and classic fairy tales.

That said, the current announcement that the company now representing Dr. Seuss’ work will no longer publish some of his books because they can be “offensive” for readers is a bit troubling. The modern mania of changing the past to accommodate to the present’s preconceived ideas, as if we were somehow more enlightened or wise than any people in the past, is a form of insanity; in that case, we should “cancel” almost all literature written before the 20th century.

The books “cancelled” are not the most well-known or Dr. Seuss’s biggest best-sellers, so perhaps the publishers just wanted to discontinue them anyway, and this was just a good excuse. It is a bit suspicious that, while the books are characterized as “offensive”, none of the news articles explain exactly why. I had to search for the actual text of the books, and even then, the only thing I could find was that one of those books mentions, once, the word “Chinaman”, which has fallen out of favor. In other books, it appears that the problem is the illustration of foreign cultures in stereotypical clothes, but again, nothing particularly very “offensive”, except to modern sensibilities.

The reader can judge by himself. You can find two of the no-longer-to-be published books in pdf form here: “If I ran the Zoo” and “And I think that I saw it in Mulberry Street“.

A recent study by John P. A. Ioannidis and others, published at the European Journal of Clinical Investigation, seems to indicate that stay-at-home orders and business closures do not work or make little difference in containing the spread of COVID.

This together with the Chinese study showing that asymptomatic transmission is low or inexistent should put the final nail in the authoritarian measures taken in the name of health. I say should, but of course this won’t happen, and methods such as the “vaccine passports” such as the ones provided now in Israel are the way that will be chosen.

So now, besides masks and lockdowns, you will also have to be vaccinated, but even the vaccine won’t stop lockdowns and masks for a while.

A few days ago (August 24th) marked 121 years since the birth of Jorge Luis Borges. I am currently researching a bit about his life, as one of my future projects would be to write a new book about Argentinean literature.

Of course, a lot has been written about Borges, and I’ve read a lot of it. My father is a great fan of Borges and we had all his books at home, plus many other books about him.

And yet, there are always some new things that you can discover about someone, especially in the case of a writer of such importance. One of the things I didn’t know so much about was the period of his youth and the several literary projects during his early 20s, which included a mural magazine called Prisma.

I am also rereading quite a lot of his work. Not only the short stories, but also some essays (although of course, for Borges there is not always a difference between both).

It is always better to read him in Spanish, if you can understand the language, but if not, there are quite a few translations to choose from. Which one is the best? It’s difficult to say. I prefer the earliest ones, but here there’s a more detailed article describing some of the differences in each version, as well as a discussion of Borges’ work with Norman Di Giovanni, the only translator with whom he directly collaborated.

Here there’s one of his last interviews, the day of his 85th birthday, still in Argentina (he would die less than two years later, in Geneva). He seems pretty cheerful.

A statue of Miguel de Cervantes in San Francisco has been vandalized by Antifa and BLM militants. It is not clear what did they have against the greatest Spanish writer. Maybe they confused him with someone else? Maybe they are just destroying all white people statues at this point?

The fact that Cervantes was taken as a slave by the Turks after the Battle of Lepanto, where he lost use of his left hand, only adds to the irony. If they are protesting against slavery, they took the wrong guy.

In any case, it is a worrying phenomenon. In fact, the whole thing about vandalizing statues and monuments strikes me as extremely negative, independently of whose statue it is. Because it is an attempt at destroying or negating the past. Of course, in same cases, such as the toppling of the statues of tyrants at the end of Communism or other tyrannical regimes, this may be understandable, but in general it is not an advisable policy.

Apparently, during the recent protests, some statues were first decapitated before they were taken down. Heinrich Heine once said something to the effect that “those who start by burning books end up burning people”. We may also assume that “those who start decapitating statues end up decapitating people”.

At least they didn’t topple it.