HermanCainAward

The Unbelievable Grimness of HermanCainAward, the Subreddit That Catalogs Anti-Vaxxer COVID Deaths

As the forum has grown, entries have started following a fairly standard format: The first few screenshots typically feature the individual in question deploying a remarkably consistent set (there are 30 or so) of memes. Some vilify Dr. Anthony Fauci or champion the right to be unvaccinated. Others warn people they're experimental rats or offer scripts that will properly punish wait staff for daring to inquire about vaccination status. Some deride masked liberals as "sheep" and the unvaccinated as proud free lions or refer to immigrants as vectors of disease or compare vaccination requirements to the Holocaust. Most of them treat the pandemic as a joke and frame ignoring it as brave or clever or both. The final few screenshots typically announce the disease, its progress, and the eventual death announcement, frequently followed by a GoFundMe for the family. [...]

What this massive record of human suffering really illustrates (in all its startling, repetitive sameness) is how seamlessly anti-vax communities reconcile themselves to the deaths their convictions will perpetuate. The posts about individual liberty and self-sufficiency devolve into abjectly dependent appeals: A call to "prayer warriors" is almost a required feature at this point. When someone dies, the grief is gentle and generic: He was a good guy, he got his angel wings today, it was his time, God called him home. Their families frequently express gratitude to the medical staff who cared for their loved ones. It is resignation, and deeply sad. And yet: Chilled though I've been by how this subreddit can rejoice at a death, I'm somehow no less chilled by how easily the bereaved normalize their losses. A 35-year-old man with three young children and a free vaccine available should not be dead! There is astonishingly little recognition of this. [...]

If these individual stories seem to change nothing, what about a cumulative record? Does anything besides schadenfreude happen when Americans see one after another after another after another of these stories? I'm not sure, but a new category has recently been gathering steam in the subreddit: the IPA (Immunized to Prevent Award). People post photos of their new vaccination cards, saying that reading the r/HermanCainAward finally convinced them they didn't want to "win." They get enthusiastically cheered on by commenters. "I'm not anti-Vax," one such comment reads, "I was just afraid and confused by all the misinformation out there. Genuinely frightened and confused. Taking a quick 5 minute look at this Sub-reddit brought me back down to earth. I'll be getting my first round of the Pfizer Vaccine early next week. Thank you for existing." There are more of these than you might expect; who knows if these stories are true, but if even some of them are, maybe these stories can, in the aggregate, persuade people who wouldn't be especially moved by specific cases.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

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58 Responses:

  1. My Schadenfreude gland has been squeezed dry.

    • Erin M. says:

      I'll gladly share some of my Schadenfreude - I seem to have an inexhaustible supply lately.

    • bibulb says:

      I'm just TIRED at this point. I don't take joy in any of this, I'm just tired and angry about the last year-and-a-half that all of their bullshit's cost me (and, oh yeah, THE REST OF OUR SOCIETY).

  2. Richard Campbell says:

    I love the reddit, but I would describe it as more "fucking hilarious" than "grim."

    • k3ninho says:

      Excuse me, sir, but my heart is bleeding. Have you no concerns for how I feel about this?!? [/end-mock-outrage]

      K3n.

  3. Jonny says:

    /r/HermanCainAward is my guilty pleasure. I know I shouldn't revel in the misery and suffering of others, but they are always such insufferable assholes that it strains my empathy well past the breaking point.

    I think the most horrifying thing about a lot of those stories are the number of people that are still pumping out Facebook anti-vaxxer memes WHILE THEY ARE DYING OF COVID-19, usually begging for "prayer warriors" to send them energy. It's crazy town. The cultural/political cult that those psychos are huffing distorts their perception of reality so badly that we are not even seeing the same colors anymore. I have relatives huffing this shit, and they legitimately sound exactly like the people on /r/HermanCainAward. It isn't a case of finding rare morons to make fun of. I've got book smart relatives that are almost certainly going to win a HermanCainAward. It's a cultural plague eating countless people, not just stupid people (but they are being stupid).

    If you want to read a real horror show, Neal Stephenson's new book "Fall; or, Dodge in Hell" lays out a terrifyingly believable future where these trends continue. The book itself is pretty mixed, with well over half of it being a pretty 'meh' fantasy novel, but tucked in there is what amounts to a novella.

    That novella basically lays out what America might look like in 20 years as the everyone's filter bubble drags them further and further apart. It's all the more horrifying for being so utterly believable and how everyone just accepts and gets used to their reality and consider it normal. Basically, it depicts a split between an urban core with a "reality based" belief systems, and a rural wasteland where the conservative filter bubble has found it's natural end. You get two cultures that are almost incapable of coherent communication, and only tolerate each other only through physical separation. It seemed a lot more sci-fi a couple of years ago; now it just seems horrifyingly prescient.

    For anyone who has read the book, I remember watching the January 6th insurrection and the follow up reaction to it and thinking "shit, this is our Moab". For me, January 6th was the day a bunch of dumb Trump huffing conservative memes attack the capitol, but for my conservative relatives, it was the day an antifa false flag operation went down and American democracy ended with the stealing of the election and the dictatorships of Joe Biden. There is no reconciling those beliefs.

  4. marinsteve says:

    I've seen this up close (Anti-vax friend dead) Statistics don't help. Maybe friends' and relations' adverse outcomes will boil up to the surface of Facebook after 4-5 more years and it will stop.

  5. Oh and I wanted to say, the article's author suffers from an unfortunately common left/liberal misconception: that right-wingers can be persuaded. Of anything, ever. People who are themselves susceptible to logical argument like to imagine that everyone else is too. It's a form of self-flattery. They are sure that all they have to do is find the perfect syllogism and the Trumpists and Qists will see the light and convert. Or maybe if they can catch them in (horror of horrors) HYPOCRISY they will disappear in a puff of self-contradiction. None of those things will ever work. Their brains don't work that way.

    • tfb says:

      While I have sympathy with this, I think it's both wrong and a very dangerous thing to say.

      First of all I am sure you do not mean that 'their brains don't work that way' literally, because that leads very quickly to some places that I am quite sure you don't want to go, and is also empirically easy to disprove.

      Secondly, assuming you mean that their minds don't work that way, then if you think that nothing will ever be able to change their minds then while that's not quite as bad it's actually still pretty awful: if whatever got into their minds has made it so they can never, ever be redeemed then, well, we might as well just kill them all or if we have qualms about that lock them up indefinitely.

      And again there is good historical evidence that this also is not true: bad things have got into large numbers of people's minds before and those people were, largely, eventually persuaded that those bad things were both very bad and false. Indeed I'm old enough and lived in the right place for a while to have spoken to some of those people (this is probably not easy to do now as so few will be left) and they told me exactly this, and I do not believe they were lying.

      So I think it's really important not to give up the way you seem to be doing. I don't know how you deprogram these people, and I'm not sure anyone really does (clearly 'rational argument' is not the answer), but I am pretty confident that it is possible to deprogram them.

      • Well I was thinking more like send them to an island, but yeah. They are not going to get fixed. What they have is not curable.

      • Dude says:

        With more than four million people dead, we don't have time for right-wingers' minds to get right.

        • tfb@tfeb.org says:

          I agree: we don't have time to change their stupid beliefs (4 million is a huge underestimate BTW: The Economist is estimating between about 10 and about 18 million with a best guess of 15). But we don't have to: governments have the power to override people's beliefs, if they choose to, so there's no need to change their minds to deal with the immediate problem they are causing.

          To be clear I would be absolutely fine with making vaccinations mandatory except in cases of clear physical health risk (not 'it will offend my special-snowflake beliefs'), with making wearing masks indoors mandatory, with really large fines for anyone who refuses either and with really large fines for anyone who refuses either and infects someone. Basically 'fuck your idiot beliefs, you will do these things or you will be punished'. I'd probably be fine (although I'm quite queasy about it) with withholding all but palliative treatment for anyone who refuses and then gets infected.

          So I'm fine with not sitting there waiting for them to change their minds while people die, but simply imposing sensible behaviour on them, however fiercely they whine. Governments do this all the time: no-one listens to me when I say I have a belief that paying my taxes is wrong (well, OK, they would listen if I was rich enough, but that's something else that needs to get solved.)

          What I'm not fine with is saying that a set of beliefs people have is 'not curable' and that they should be, collectively, sent to some special island.

          In particular let me be clearer about who the old men I mentioned speaking to in my initial response were: they were former nazis. I don't mean that in the idiot hyperbolic sense: I mean that they were men who had been young adults in 1930s Germany and who had been nazi party members. And not just because they had to be: they had believed the things nazis believed. And, when I spoke to them in 1991, they wanted nothing more than to say how terrible the things they had believed were, and I am really quite sure they were telling the truth: it is extremely awkward to watch a very old man in tears remembering what he once thought.

          If people can have their minds changed about that, they can have their minds changed about this. If you don't believe that they can then I think you have stared too long into the abyss.

          Well, I'm not going to comment again, as I can see at least some of the people who responded to my previous comment have very fixed ideas about these things which no amount of argument will change ... oh, wait.

          • Dude says:

            Who said anything about "send[ing] them to an island"?

            And paying taxes is the literal price of living in a society. The people who don't feel like paying them are people who don't care about people or society.

            No one has argued against the possibility that someone can change their mind, but with over 4m dead and millions more infected each day, holding onto the "they'll come around" delusion is just making matters worse.

            • jwq says:

              1. Jef Poskanzer said something about send[ing] them to an island:

              Well I was thinking more like send them to an island, but yeah.

              2. Not sure what your point is about taxes, but it does not appear to contradict what tfb wrote.

              3. Jef Poskanzer has argued against the possibility that someone can change their mind:

              ... misconception: that right-wingers can be persuaded. Of anything, ever.

              They are not going to get fixed. What they have is not curable.

              • Dude says:

                Not only did you badly cherry-pick comments, you chose to ignore the source of the taxes comment and show an utter lack of understanding facetiousness; and that's in addition to choosing a handle that half-assedly tries to catfish as if you're this website's owner.

                • jwq says:

                  How utterly predictable. Do you have anything to say that's not an ad hominem attack and contains some intellectual substance?

                  • Dude says:

                    Not my job to do your homework for you, trolly. I'm vaccinated against COVID, influenza, and respectability politics.

      • rjs says:

        There has been research that suggests that they do have fundamental problems with logical thought.

      • andyjpb says:

        Memes (In Richard Dawkins's "The Selfish Gene" sense) are just viruses of the mind that spread and replicate through mimicry and social pressure.

        Once you're "infected" they're just as difficult to cure as viruses that attack your physical cells.

        Most are harmless (just look at the wide variety of different sub-cultures and how they identify themselves).

        Some are not.

        The ones that are not are dangerous because
        a) they spread quickly (often through vectors of irrationally).
        b) they make the subject do things that aren't in their interests
        c) they are very difficult to "cure", especially with reason.

        Over the past 20 or 25 years, Internet companies have become incredibly good at developing and infecting people with memes. It happened before, but not it's been weaponised at scale.

        As a society, we still have a very, very poor understanding of how to treat them.

        • Steve H says:

          The ones that are not [harmless] are dangerous because:

          a) they spread quickly (often through vectors of irrationally);

          b) they make the subject do things that aren't in their interests;

          c) they are very difficult to "cure", especially with reason.

          Congratulations! You just described Advertising!

  6. Andreas says:

    Odd to think that so many of the people getting memorialized there are getting a more heartfelt tribute from it than they’re getting from their families.

  7. Beto says:

    It's sad to see all the people in the comments celebrating and/or mocking these deaths. These people are victims of a society that for years (generations?) made them scared. And I really don't think that stupidity and fear should be sentenced with death.

    Think of it this way: if you had grown in the same town as these people, with the same family, same circle of friends, same opportunities... what would be the chances that you would be an anti-vaxxer?

    • Zero? Because I'm not a sociopath?

      • Beto says:

        Of course not. You are special.

        Those thousands (millions?) of people, they are all sociopaths.

      • andyjpb says:

        Whilst I have no reason to disbelieve you, I will note that my experience is that those among us who are the surest of our opinions and beliefs are the ones who end up being most susceptible to these harmful memes (that I explain in a comment elsewhere in this discussion).

        You're "normal", right? ...and they're "not".
        To repurpose an idea from elsewhere, I might ask you to think back along your history.

        When did you decide to be "normal"? When did you make that choice?

        What specific, active thing did you do to become the way you with the beliefs you hold today?

        ...or did you just pick them up from your conscious and subconscious influences as you went along?

    • Dude says:

      No one celebrates people dying (unless you're a Republican politician), but these dead people are the exact same one who would say that whatever you experienced growing up is no excuse for the wrong you do as an adult.

      These people are literally spreading a deadly illness along with misinformation about said illness. They need to be held accountable about that. Period.

      • Beto says:

        > No one celebrates people dying

        No one other than the subreddit mentioned in the article and the comments in this post? The 3rd comment literally says "/r/HermanCainAward is my guilty pleasure."

        I agree that someone needs to be accountable for this, but I believe these people are victims. They're doing what they can with the limited and incorrect information they were given.

        • Dude says:

          They're "celebrating" the truth (ie. anti-vaxx thinking is bullshit) and the fact that many of them are finally getting converted by the death toll.

          And unless they're kids, these people are not victims. Every time they're confronted with the truth, they're either condescending assholes or violent psychopaths, so I have no more fucking sympathy for them or their smokescreen of "freedom" to spread this disease.

          It should be like driving: vaccination should be like licencing (especially since you have to show both) and wearing a mask should be like wearing a seat belt. These people are adults that refuse to do either - that makes them bad people.

        • jwz says:

          While it is certainly true that many of these people are victims of misinformation and circumstance, someone who was deceived into becoming a nazi is still a nazi, and they need to be held accountable for the real harm that they do.

          • jwilkes says:

            I'm not familiar with any effort to hold Nazis accountable that had a rule to "redact names" of the Nazis.

    • Elusis says:

      I mean... I did grow up in the same town as these people, same schools, same civic orgs, same white privilege filter bubble.

    • Elusis says:

      I mean... I did grow up in the same town as these people, same schools, same civic orgs, same white privilege filter bubble.

      I even went to COLLEGE with them (just two hours up the road from the town I grew up in, over half the school first-gen folks, probably over 90% from in-state).

      I got my mind right. What's there excuse?

      • Elusis says:

        *their

      • thielges says:

        Yeah kids deserve more credit for independent thinking. I grew up in the racist stew of the Deep South and was constantly exposed bad thinking and lies. Once I found a KKK newsletter on the street and was intuitively appalled by the garbage they were propagating. I think I was 11 at the time so was drawn to the cartoons more than the words. They contained abhorrent exaggerations that were so far from reality that even a kid could tell they were wrong.

        Credit is due to the public school faculty who actively countered that trash. But most of all to my parents who set great examples to follow. David Duke once came to our southern Louisiana door canvassing with his veiled packet of vileness. Dad immediately sent him on his way with words of condemnation.

        • Nick Lamb says:

          Right, in the Princess Alice experiments, it's notable that children who don't believe in Princess Alice (they've been told she is invisible and will supervise them in the set task while the experimenters are absent) and just cheat anyway are seen to make a rudimentary attempt to discover if she's real first by e.g. passing their hand through the space they're told she occupies. Children are naturally inquisitive, discovering that some of the things grown-ups tell you about the world are plain wrong is both incredibly likely (even the most clear sighted and well-meaning adults are mistaken sometimes) and valuable for anticipating the uncertain environment you live in which is not in fact the world the grown-ups told you about.

          Once they can pass the Smarties test (understanding that other people have distinct beliefs from yours, so if you know something surprising about what's in the Smarties tube other people don't necessarily have that knowledge) and they start lying it's not by any means difficult for a developmentally normal child to put this together.

          Most children won't discover their grown-ups were wrong about something quite as important as Rebecca ("Newt") in Aliens -- though not accepting this is a deadly respiratory virus comes close, but an inability to re-assess what you're told based on available evidence is a recipe for disaster and no amount of "empathy" overcomes that. To the extent anything can be said to be "their fault" this is definitely their fault.

      • jwz says:

        I think this comment on Metafilter also makes that point pretty well:

        They believed whoever was telling them that COVID is a hoax, that vaccines are dangerous, that their immune systems would take care of them. They believed these lies enough to act in accordance with those beliefs and ultimately to die because they fell for this misinformation.

        They believed these things because of their vile priors. Because they were racist, because they were dominionists, because they believe their people are better than others, because they believe that they're entitled to prop up their own lives with the deaths of as many people as it takes. With the exception of the very young, the very old, and the profoundly mentally ill, they were "deceived" because they wanted to be and have arranged their lives around the belief that they can think and feel whatever they want without consequence. They've been encouraged in their beliefs by awful people, which hasn't helped, but that doesn't mean they were implanted surgically by third parties.

    • bibulb says:

      These people are victims of a society that for years (generations?) made them scared.

      I feel like you're eliding both how society's "making" them scared, and what things they've "been made" scared of.
      I might agree that those aren't worth death sentences, but making them the conceptual victims here removes both their agency and their responsibility in what's going on right now. I certainly don't wish death on them, but I'll also say that their manufactured fear is what put us ALL here, and as such they've done a very good job of terminally fatiguing my sympathies for them.
      (Although - while "holding a political-medical-philosphical belief that is explicitly conducive to irrational and antisocial behavior that dramatically increases risk for everybody during a pandemic" shouldn't be an automatic death sentence, I also recognize the fact that THEIR beliefs are putting ME at risk. I see very little reason to coddle the people who are deliberately fucking around with my safety even moreso right now than their usual "I don't see the problem with Nazis and the like" bullshit.)

      …If you had grown in the same town as these people, with the same family, same circle of friends, same opportunities... what would be the chances that you would be an anti-vaxxer?

      stares in suburban Southeast Texan

  8. Mitch says:

    Just Redditors doing what they know best: Acting like holier-than-thou fuckheads that pretend they care about the lives of others but really just see it as entertainment for those they disagree with to suffer in some way.

    Plenty of legitimate reasons not to want these specific vaccines. Now, I have nothing against conventional vaccines and think they're one of the best inventions in existence, but I'm not about to inject myself with a new closed-source product from companies that have immunity from litigation if someone is injured by the vaccines (And many have been, the most frequent injury being Myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart). I would hope the people frequenting a website like this would at least be somewhat skeptical of what's actually inside them, seeing as we already have to deal with the NSA putting backdoors into our computer hardware. Something administered to hundreds of millions, if not billions of people should not be in the hands of for-profit corporations, especially when they have (And Pfizer isn't the only one guilty of this).

    • sobuy says:

      Pfizer (and I think Moderna) have published the mRNA gene sequence used in their vaccines. They have also been independently sequenced.

      Here's an article about how the "source code" works. It's kinda neat:

      https://berthub.eu/articles/posts/reverse-engineering-source-code-of-the-biontech-pfizer-vaccine/

      And here's the "source code" for the Pfizer/Biontech vaccine (web archive because the original link is dead... [rant] turns out that despite the fact that a lot of people are "concerned", not a whole lot of people are actually BOTHERING to archive and scrutinize this information [end rant]):

      https://web.archive.org/web/20210105162941/https://mednet-communities.net/inn/db/media/docs/11889.doc

      • thielges says:

        Thanks for that article. It was an easy read and quickly explains how the Pfizer mRNA vaccine works in terms familiar to those working in the computer and information sciences. It is even readable by non technical people.

        Bert Hubert is an amazing writer. He takes the cover off of this amazing machine and shows us what is inside and how it works.

      • Nik says:

        DNA for programmers! I laughed on the inside as I read that, it's so simple when framed appropriately.

        There's a joke in there about simplicity in software taking millions of years to achieve as well.

    • margaret says:

      given a choice between the very real effects of covid and the hypothetical's you list i'll 100% take my chances with a vaccine. seriously, you should talk with a real doctor about your concerns.

    • thielges says:

      "I would hope the people frequenting a website like this would at least be somewhat skeptical of what's actually inside them, seeing as we already have to deal with the NSA putting backdoors into our computer hardware."

      If you're concerned about nefarious organizations sneaking unwanted stuff inside of you then why focus on vaccines when there are other manufactured products that we take inside our bodies without question? It is even possible to alter your genes through oral ingestion.

      A rational Evil Scientist would not use something as spooky as a leading edge vaccine as a vehicle, they'd use Coca Cola.

    • Dude says:

      Now, I have nothing against conventional vaccines and think they're one of the best inventions in existence, but...

      The anti-vaxxer equivalent to "I'm not racist, but..."

  9. bq Mackintosh says:

    An open letter to the folks who read this and say, "Oh I have plenty of schadenfreude left! This is great!"

    To be human, be first humane. Only after that may you be clever, or happy about your own rightness and others' wrongness. Whenever we mix up that order of operations, it comes at the cost of being human.

    Be first humane.

    This is, of course, the core argument in favor of vaccines. The core argument in favor of vaccines is not I am right and you are wrong, vaccines work and I'm right, and if you die because you're wrong you're also proving how right I am because my rightness literally killed you.

    Mr. Zawinski draws a fair amount of audience in large part because of his intolerance for mediocrity, and the zest with which his delivers his contempt therefor. Viz. any number of reviews of recently watched TV and film, or his thoughts on crypto-currency. But if you read closely, you see that there is a deep principle at play here. "The privilege of having 'no time for idiots' is in fact 'status seeking', he wrote recently.

    It's easy to miss: the same unvarnished contempt shown for foolishness in the form of lousy plots and the codification of money laundering thinly veiled as a privacy issue also applies to inhumane schadenfreude. Smugly taking satisfaction in grief of families and friends that inevitably comes from all of these completely preventable deaths isn't cool. It isn't justified. It isn't humane.

    This is a common thread I see in much of what Mr. Zawinski writes: being right or competent means fuck all compared to the moral imperative of not being a dick. Bezos, Musk, and Zuckerberg don't get skewered here because they're bad at stuff or they're dumb; they get skewered because they're not nice. Because they do not listen first to their humanity, and instead listen first to their self interest.

    Also quoting from our host, "They need to be held accountable for the real harm that they do." Indeed they do.

    And if we cannot hold people accountable for the real harm they do while also holding on to our own humanity, then (a) we lose any argument we had in the first place about how getting a vaccine is the humane thing to do; and (b) we lose our own humanity along the way, because we couldn't be bothered to be right and kind at the same time.

    • Dude says:

      You lost me after trying to defend the people whose idea of being "humane" is letting their fellow humans die of pandemic as they themselves defend January's attempted coup.

      • bq Mackintosh says:

        Well that's odd. Can you quote me the part of what I wrote where I defend anti-vaxxers? Short of that this is just a straw man and a weird straw man because it's the opposite of my stance on the matter.

        • Dude says:

          Says the guy who literally accused pro-vaxxers of being inhumane because they won't put up with anti-vaxxers and their deadly bullshit.

          • bq Mackintosh says:

            Yes, I did in fact ask you to quote the section to support your earlier allegation. It's not hard; the whole thing I wrote is just right up there ^ .

            You didn't quote it, because your allegation is a weird straw man in which you assert that that I'm on a side that I'm not, said things I didn't, mean things I don't.

            You're bizarrely picking a fight with a person who, for months, doesn't put up with pro-disease nonsense and holds people accountable for the foreseeable consequences of their actions. In other words, you're picking an inexplicable fight with someone on your side.

            It seems, then, that the only thing we disagree on is this I believe it is wrong and inhumane to gloat over the deaths of others and the grief of their family and friends.

            Look, my grandmother spent most of WWII building bombers to drop bombs on nazis, and she was right to do so. There are times when the only right thing to do is take up arms.

            But there are no times at all when the right thing to do is be smug and gleeful about other people dying, and the suffering of those around them. Not even when you and I are right, and they are eagerly wrong. Even then death sucks; even then orphans are not a thing to celebrate; even then the community is not improved by more dead people.

            You're a passionate advocate, and you stand on the right side of an important — even crucial — issue. But when you become so charmed by your own rightness that you're willing to attack the person fighting next to you and cry, "Enemy! Enemy!" while doing so, you've lost at least a little perspective.

  10. グレェ「grey」 says:

    Ooph, I usually love me some schadenfreude, but this hits a bit too close to home in ways that may take me a while to articulate in the written word (apologies in advance for the TMI).

    I lost my mom to complications related to COVID-19 in April of 2020. Albeit, that was before vaccines were available, so in her defense, she would not have made such a list, but that is sort of a technicality. Apparently, she had been diagnosed with dementia and had been admitted to a nursing care facility (wherein she presumably contracted COVID-19 and subsequently passed away). However, she had an accident in 2018 and I visited her in a nursing care facility, here in San Francisco known as Arden Wood, which has a Christian Science affiliation. My mother, was a Christian Science practitioner.

    Now, before you knee jerk with ignorant statements about Scientology (no, they are not related) or not being able to see doctors (no, medical treatment is not prohibited in Christian Science), what gets me is: she was out of state in Massachusetts at the time. Massachusetts, is where Christian Science originated. Mary Baker Eddy (the "discoverer and founder of Christian Science"), supposedly had a vocabulary second only to Shakespeare in the English language as far authors as unique words utilized. Christian Science, popularized the term science in the English language. Albeit, in its usage, it was more in relation to the idea of science as knowledge, rather than science as a methodology. Though, there are prayer methodologies in the Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (one of the primary texts of Christian Science) which I have attempted to explain to others as most closely resembling something similar to a proof theorem as one might encounter in a Geometry class. It is an unusual religion to understate it, an American, matriarchal sect of Christianity, just for starters. Moreover, the "Mother Church" is in Boston, Massachusetts. There are parallels to Arden Wood in Massachusetts, care facilities, with Christian Science affiliations such as Chestnut Hill Benevolent Association. However, she was not admitted to such a place.

    This is where my tale starts to seem conspiratorial, I suspect her second husband, a resident of Lexington, Massachusetts, had her admitted to a nursing facility in Belmont, Massachusetts against her will. When I last saw my mother, circa November, 2019 she seemed out of it, drugged. Her husband, had me arrested (which is a much longer tale of dysfunction which began back in 2014, but I'll omit it from additional discourse for now, because I have more to share about vaccine related dysfunction). So, while my mother's passing is fraught, and settling her estate is even more fraught with some things maybe I will get into later, the vaccine stuff really hits home.

    For example, I was not vaccinated for the chicken pox. I eventually contracted them, spent some days out of school, and was mostly miserable. If in older age, I develop shingles, I will place the culpability upon my parents. Thankfully, I have been told there may be vaccines for shingles though I need to research them further. Certainly, I remember having religious exemption notes submitted to schools in my youth. My parents even objected to me attending sex-ed class in middle school, so instead I ended up working (unpaid) as an assistant in the principal's office during that period, which certainly didn't help me with my social acceptance among my peers, which was never particularly great.

    I also, was not vaccinated for measles. When I was in my junior year of high school, my sister (five years my elder) bicycled across Europe for six weeks. When she returned, she returned with a case of the measles. However, while she was in bed for a week or so and healed? I was taken out of school (right towards the end, just before finals) and had to complete my homework and finals from home. One of my friends, had a father who was an MD in the US Army and told me that our circumstances had even been documented in a medical journal! However, during those three weeks of quarantine as I experienced it, my only outlet aside from a telephone, was a 2400 baud modem and my parents' crufty Mac Plus. There was no "shelter in place" where I could put on a mask and go grocery shopping. People implicating that the restrictions which have been going on since the pandemic in March of 2020, is quarantine, inspire resentment in me. I think they don't really know what it is like to be in a real quarantine. Let alone, with their Zoom calls and such, I don't think they understand how constrained communication was, even for someone who was tech savvy, in the early 1990s who was in similar predicaments. The only silver lining to that entire ordeal, from my vantage was: that despite being quarantined for three weeks, at least I did not contract the measles! Moreover, I am unaware of my sister having passed it along to anyone else. So, the quarantine seemed to have served its purpose as a disease vector inhibitor at least. Yay, science works when people adhere to the prevailing medical recommendations apparently!

    Since becoming an adult, and leaving my parents' home, I have had vaccinations. I've had other medical treatments too. For example, I used antibiotics for an ear infection which was so severe when I was in University that I was effectively deaf for a few weeks, one of my ear drums ruptured, and I still have some hearing loss in my right ear. I was amazed at the efficacy of antibiotics in remediating that clearing up the infection in a few days, particularly given that my parents had never sought medical treatment for my ear infections in my youth which I also suffered from repeatedly. Albeit, I was not terribly impressed by the Vicodin/hydrocodone my girlfriend at the time (and later wife, and even later, ex-wife) offered me for pain relief.

    In University, emboldened by the success of that treatment for an ear infection, I also got treatment for ingrown toenails. When, as a teenager I had asked my parents to somehow help heal that affliction in my agony, only to have them have me call a Christian Science practitioner who would "pray" for me. Whereas a single visit to a podiatrist who carefully used a local anesthetic and some snips to trim things and gave me a tube of antibiotics to apply locally seemed to heal something in a week which had plagued me for years previously in my life as a minor in a religiously abusive Christian Science upbringing. I would later learn of the term "spiritual bypassing" to explain some of my parents' behaviors. Albeit, though the ingrown toenails have never returned, my toes are irreparably damaged in ways that are difficult to explain in words, but if you could look at them it would be obvious.

    In May of this year, I obtained a vaccination for COVID-19. Alas, it's been more than a year since my mother passed away, and I am still contending with settling her estate. Her husband was given 9 months leeway to be at my parents' property, and he has a restraining order filed against me. Meanwhile, I was provided with a "4th restatement" of my mom's trust, which is dated from late November 2019, not long after her husband had me arrested for the last time. I have requested previous versions, to see if any verbiage changed in previous iterations to no avail. I can't help but suspect that there may be more going on than I am being told.

    Lamentably, I also do not have $5,000+ (such sums are what I have been previously quoted for legal retainers) to retain an attorney to help me in this matter. Not to mention, the named trustee of Wells Fargo, has advised me that by seeking legal counsel, I may put any claim I have to any of the assets in my parents' estate into jeopardy. Subsequently, even if I could afford such counsel, it seems as if maybe it would be ill advised or leave me even worse off? Meanwhile, Wells Fargo is apparently mandated to liquidate my parents home for distributing assets between me and my older sister. They purchased it in the 1980s, and it has been paid off, and its annual property taxes are approximately $6,000/year. Finding a comparable home in California with such low payments, seems like an impossibility now. However, while my sister's half of our parents' estate goes to her outright, my designated half is to be kept in a trust, with my son named as successor. Additionally, it turns out that Wells Fargo deducts approximately 2.5% annually on trusts, and in seeking alternatives (I use a credit union for my personal finances, but credit unions do not meet the legislative criteria in the state of California required for trusts apparently) Fremont Bank for example, deducts 3.5% annually. In other words, whatever assets are bequeathed to me in liquidated form, will evaporate at a pretty terrible rate even if I do not spend them. I am amazed and upset, though perhaps not entirely surprised that it is even legal for banks to charge such things. If you have any alternative to trusts for your relatives and friends after your passing, I sincerely recommend pursuing them. Most certainly, avoid banks entirely, they seem predatory, to understate it. I know some get off on findom, but I don't, particularly not nonconsensual paradigms which seem to approximate it.

    Then there's this doozy:

    "Apart from such directions, the Trustee shall pay to or apply for the benefit of the Settlor such amounts of income and principal as the Trustee deems reasonably necessary for the Settlor's comfortable support, health, education, maintenance, comfort, and welfare to maintain the Settlor's accustomed manner of living."

    That's an excerpt from the "4th Restatement" and I am the "Settlor" in that terminology, apparently. Isn't legalese amazing? There's also the terminology "irrevocable trust" as contrasted with a "revocable trust" the nuances of which are occluded to me, though supposedly these things are intended to help speed up distribution of assets rather than wait for probate processes, in practice, that has absolutely not been the case.

    I already have a B.A. from University, so I am not exactly eager to pursue much additional education at the moment (my pursuit of doctoral programs to no avail notwithstanding), though I am told maybe I would get approval to get a pilot's license as I could apply it to becoming a commercial pilot, since the prospect of changing careers from IT seems particularly appealing given how predatory my experiences have been in that field over decades, taking some wood working classes on Japanese joinery I would appreciate too, but it seems as if there was less mention as far as those being approved. Health, presumably might cover medical expenses. The rest of that? It is so vaguely worded that when I asked one potential trustee advisor at Mechanics Bank whether that would cover for example, buying property, since rent and mortgage are not explicitly mentioned in the document (and also, because I've been struggling as part of the so-called "working" homeless for years), such requests would have to go to a committee, and he advised me that they would likely be denied. So, I guess I will just keep being homeless then? Despite theoretically, eventually having $ from my parents' assets being placed in a trust overseen by a bank which I won't be able to access without approval by a committee of strangers, who have a vested interest in distributing as little to me as possible, since they have contracts which guarantee them dividends from those funds even if they never approve to pay me a single penny, perpetually infantilizing me. Who the heck thought that should be a legal paradigm that anyone should ever be able to foist upon another?

    Call me crazy, but somehow, begging from an abusive parent with dementia when she was alive still seems better than begging from a bank which has been convicted in multiple class action lawsuits.

    Meanwhile, the Mechanics Bank trustee advisor repeatedly told me that requests for vacations or traveling, would also likely be denied, even though at no point did I ever mention such things. It is almost as if bankers are predisposed to telling me "no", even when theoretically, it's about spending money which was intended for me. Why my mother decided to give my sister her half of the assets outright, but put my half of the assets into a trust because, well I guess my mom didn't trust me and thought I was a drug addict or something? I have no idea, she was clinically diagnosed with dementia sure, but long before that, years if not decades earlier, I already got the sense that there were a lot of things off about her.

    I asked my sister if she would perhaps help me retain legal counsel, and was denied. I get that my parents treated her preferentially while they were alive, and clearly in their death, that is even more obvious. It doesn't exactly help that while I contended with physical, emotional, religious, financial and neglectful forms of abuse under my parents, under my sister I also contended with sexual abuse, and unlike Jeffrey Epstein, or Ghislaine Maxwell, my sister has never been in court over such abuses. I'm pretty sure I at least broke the cycles of abuse for my own children, who hey, also got vaccines and medical treatment when necessary and not a lot of religious malarky.

    However, maybe I am stuck on the anger stage of grieving, or maybe I am just contending with the "gift that keeps on giving"(/sarcasm) of dysfunctional family dynamics, but even though my mom died of COVID-19 too early to have been a schadenfreude sort of despondence given that there was no vaccine she could have got, it just seems as if I cannot laugh at more misery and sufferance among others who had such opportunities for vaccinations, and squandered them.

    Just as I can't really see a silver lining to my present estate settling predicament so much as wish there were a way out of it somehow that didn't involve big banks which seem intent on destroying whatever was left of my parents' legacy and I won't even have much in the way to show for it beyond memories of the adversities.

    I get The Simpsons' Nelson "ha ha!" knee jerk reaction desire, or as Homer phrased it, "it's funny because it isn't me" in general. However, maybe it's because my lungs are burning with unfiltered air due to the forest fires in California, since late July or maybe it's because there's no real way to polish a turd of a parent, even an abusive one, dying? Regardless, I just can't really see what good there is in adding to the it.sh show of pandemic miseries perpetuating. Mortuary humor, I get, it helps EMTs or those on the battlefield get through their days and maybe, if they're lucky, sleep, or at least laugh which is good for the soul even if they're surrounded by rings of hell, but this doesn't seem as if it is it. Kicking people while they're down, even metaphorically speaking is still awfully grim. It's not the sort of empathetic compassionate response which purportedly makes the human experience one which has some silver linings. So, great, there is a reddit group for people who saw the dead people who were anti-vaxxers and that helped them get vaccinated? To me that reads more like bullying than a note of positivity to take away from the entire horrid ordeal. Right now, the only "real" silver lining is that while the USA has exceeded the 1918 pandemic fatalities, the population was also smaller then, so relativistically speaking, maybe we are not quite as bad off yet? Seems pretty dubious to me.

    • Elusis says:

      Hey, seriously - if you'd like help finding a therapist to talk to about all this, hit me up. elusis (at) gmail

  11. elm says:

    Nebulization of a Mixture of Iodine and Hydrogen Peroxide is a terribly underrated Pink Floyd song. Easily the standout on the album Series of Increasingly Hazardous At-Home Treatments.

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