Plus ça change …

Continuing …

“… plus c’est la même chose.” – Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

I begin this post with that quote because at the start of a “new” year it seems most appropriate. Our artificial designation of the calendar change (New Year used to be in March, never mind the change between Julian and Gregorian, adjustments thereto, or the other types of calendars still in use) and our societies’ assumptions of imposing further changes, or at least the hopes and illusions of them, on us … well it’s all really quite ridiculous.

For example; I have now lived in eight different decades.

Yeah, I’ve been around a while.

If I were to write an autobiography it might be called “From Warsaw to 100 Mile House” or something. I wouldn’t because I can’t remember not only fine details of but indeed great huge segments of my life. When I try to make sense of it, it just doesn’t. It’s been weird and at the same time not very interesting, even to me.

The point is, if we may get back on track here (it’s not called Wandering Words for nothing), that things don’t magically change on a particular date because of that date. You are not born on your birthday; rather you are born and that day becomes your birthday. But people are born, they live, and they die. We are acutely aware of the fact and have a psychological need to define the rest of reality in the same terms. That matter and energy can neither be created or destroyed we know, but we can’t come to terms with this because it is contrary to our own personal existence. So we fool ourselves into thinking time is a thing with a beginning and an end that can be quantified and measured and perhaps even traveled through in a direction other than always forward.

We may as well play the game. The consensus of opinion is that 2020 was pretty bad. Some argue from personal experience that it wasn’t, and the media has gone so far as to dredge up some experts to explain that there have been worse years. This is true: there have been worse years, and I’ve lived through several of them so I ought to know. I don’t expect anyone to listen to me (they generally don’t), but gee kids; I am a walking history book. There’s got to be some advantage to being this old, hasn’t there?

Perhaps not.

On a personal level 2020 wasn’t so bad for me. I am perhaps unique in my adaptability to endure a pandemic lock-down situation. I am by nature non-social (as opposed to anti-social, which is quite different) and the one good part of living off retirement income is you don’t get fired from it. In fact I got a lot of work done on the cabin. The worst bits were endless arguments (usually on-line) about the disease and how it was being handled with the hopelessly stupid people who made the situation worse and the empathetic feeling for all those who really did suffer. Very much like the wildfire disaster of 2017. In truth, for me 2019, 2018, and 2017 were all personally much worse than 2020. But if I look at it objectively and holistically with professional detachment as it were, 2020 was indeed a terrible year in general. A true nadir of existence.

It was made worse by a world-wide assortment of inept leaders whose utter lack of useful knowledge of any sort only served to amplify the raving ignorance and wanton stupidity of a population full of morons. Some demonstrations:

Metaphorical; Australian sees wastebasket on fire, grabs extinguisher, puts it out. Canadian waits until house is burning then starts checking the ads to see if there are any extinguishers on sale. American goes out and buys some gasoline to drown the fire with ’cause it’s wet so it ought to work like water, right?

Timing is everything; Virus first rears its ugly head in December 2019. Prime Minister flies planeloads of “trapped”, and potentially infected, citizens home as soon as possible. One year later he thinks about stopping people from getting on planes unless they test negative for the virus which has already become an uncontrolled pandemic.

When you don’t know, lie; Great Orange Leader says it will all be over by Easter, because admitting there is a problem would make him “look bad”. Eight months later his country has the highest infection rate in the world by a factor of 6 as well as 20% of the deaths from the disease despite having only 5% of the world population. His supporters claim he “warned everyone about how dangerous it is” when in fact he did exactly the opposite. The same supporters deny it exists at all, or say that it is no worse than flu. Until they contract it, that is.

Be prepared; Hey, we bought twice as many vaccine doses as needed for the entire population of the country! Uh, they won’t send them to us though. Seems they don’t really exist. Um, anybody got any vaccine for sale?

Financial forecasting; The Economy will be destroyed if we shut things down! Oh never mind: the rich people managed to get even richer after all, and no one else counts.

Progress in millimeters; Canada is pleased to announce they’ve almost vaccinated less than 0.02% of the population. Somewhat shy of the 12 million inoculations needed to break the transmission spread. Maybe some more lock-downs will help?

I did in fact predict quite a lot of this, as well as suggesting plans to re-order society to make things better and prevent future such occurrences. I won’t reiterate or even link to the relevant posts because no one listens anyway.

I guess the one good thing about being old is knowing you won’t be around long enough to see the final collapse of civilization.

Lessons we should have learned

There has been much revealed by the pandemic. All of it having to do with human behaviour and what’s wrong with that. Here, in no particular order, are some of the things we should take note of.

1). Never let your country become dependent on another for vital goods like food, clothing, housing, energy, or medical supplies.

2). Viruses happen. This was not the first outbreak nor will it be the last. It is possible to have plans of action at the ready to prevent the level of severity we’ve seen with this one, and a few basic precautions would reduce the effects of all sorts of diseases we normally put up with as a matter of course.

4). Even though only about 25% of people are staying home (over and above the number who normally do), pollution levels have dropped drastically around the world. HINT, HINT.

5). When it comes right down to it, essential workers don’t include CEOs.

6). A lot of what we think is necessary in our lives (and indeed in our society) really isn’t. Most of what we’re doing without is superfluous to our existence anyway.

7). The economy exists to serve people, not the other way around.

8). Hoarding is just another sign of selfishness, ignorance, and stupidity. It doesn’t matter if it’s toilet paper or money that is hoarded.

9). There are no rights other than those granted by the society in which we live. Society has the obligation to make rules it deems necessary for the continuance of the society, and it’s not totalitarianism to require people to refrain from behaviour that is damaging to themselves or others. In fact all law is based on that principal.

10). Putting morons and/or egomaniacs in charge of your country is a really, really bad idea. To further democracy, some form of intelligence test should be required for office holders and voters.

11). People who take advantage of others during times of crisis are the lowest form of humanity and should be permanently eliminated from society upon discovery.

12). The average citizen is really bad at managing an inventory of their own household. No wonder countries have difficulty keeping emergency supplies on hand.

13). If you think there’s things more important than being alive, you should take your own … advice.

14). There are entire industries we do not need at all; they serve only as detriments to society despite their appearance as having a positive effect.

15). Cities are a bad idea. The worst hit places during this pandemic are those with the highest population density. This is a microcosm of the world problem in general.

16). People are slobs. Things like single-use plastics are not a problem in and of themselves; only the improper disposal of them after use is. If it’s just tossed on the ground it doesn’t matter what kind of trash it is, it will do damage.

17). The concept of “economic growth” is a myth which has contributed greatly to the current over-all crisis, including facilitating the spread of the disease. Earth’s resources are finite, and only a few can be recovered once used. That recovery requires input of more energy, most of which comes in the form of fossil fuels which are also ultimately finite.

18). An economy based on the sale of new consumer items is idiotic and doomed to failure. Nothing is more damaging to the world than “throw-away” consumerism.

19). Everything has two ecological costs: the ‘capital’ and the ‘operating’. It is wrong to assume they are interchangeable or easily equitable. Encouraging people to buy new cars, for example, by offering bonuses to trade in “clunkers” falsely assumes the operating ecological cost improvement offsets the capital one.

20). Manufacturing of products that are out of sync with social goals is majorly detrimental to the world: e.g. “supercars”, which have no practical real-world application and therefor should not be in production.

We have a unique opportunity right now to recognize our failings and massively re-align society into something more sustainable. Inevitably we won’t do it as it will be far easier to fall back into the same sad habits that caused the crisis in the first place.

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This is why we can’t have a nice world

Addendum:

About a week and a half after Easter our new cases numbers here suddenly spiked. We went from having less than 30 new cases every day for four days to 71 in one day. This coincides with the predictions of results based on the number of people who decided to ignore the distancing rules and go play on the holiday. We are expecting continued high numbers from now on. Thank you, idiots, for not following the rules. The next holiday in May is likely to produce a similar upsurge, and will no doubt bring it into our area here. At that point it will be extremely difficult for me to avoid it, and I’ve only got a couple of N95 fire masks left.

It’s been fun. Ciao.

 

Clueless in Canada

After listening to our illustrious leaders tell us all about it, one has to wonder if they have any idea what they are talking about. I’m going to have to say “no, they don’t”.

One specific area of interest now is: when will things get back to normal? Our Prime Moron said “that information will be coming soon” which is monkey code for “I haven’t any idea”. I can’t really blame him for this as I doubt anyone has any idea. It’s easy to know that while the disease continues to spread and claim more lives we have to hunker down and try to slow its progress. But at what point does a change in numbers indicate it’s safe to open up the stores again?

Never mind the pendants who argue the numbers are skewed or false: they have no understanding of statistics anyway. In order to be as “accurate” as they demand you’d have to test our over 7 billion people every day. There really is no practical way to get more in-depth information than the imperfect methods we are using. This isn’t about perfection; it’s about having some sort of guideline, arbitrary or not, to give us something to go by. Just as there is no absolute definition of temperature, so we have to make up some sort of scale for case results. Sometimes the methodology will change as we try to refine that scale and get a more accurate picture of the situation, but we should never be foolish enough to believe it is perfect or ever could be.

Thus we take our imperfect understanding of far-from-ideal data and muddle along. One day the numbers will stop going up, and a downward trend will begin. We can then pretend this means we are getting the upper hand with the disease and decide it’s okay to ease the restrictions. But at what point? When it just starts trending downwards? When it’s fallen by 50%? 100%? When there have been no new cases for a year? It is a difficult question, and one made worse by knowing that when the restrictions are eased there inevitably will be a rebound; a resurgence of cases directly related to the newly increased human interactions made possible by the easing of restrictions.

Even if it doesn’t go up immediately, we know it will come back. People will panic and scream and blame everyone. As long as there is no vaccine to truly break the cycle and prevent a resurgence we are living in a precarious situation, disease-wise.

And should we trust our leaders even when they sound the all-clear? Will we? Inevitably the answer to both questions is “no”. After all it was their disregard for the seriousness of the situation and their slow-to-act attitude that made it so bad to begin with. You can start anywhere you like with that too, as the Chinese tried to silence it the minute the problem arose and our own heads of state did no better. You could even blame them for allowing people to continue to promote anti-vaccine nonsense and endangering people with ‘alternative medicine’ rubbish, making society more distrustful of science.

Only science works, people. Only science.

To that end I note there are things which could have been implemented years ago to reduce transmission of many kinds of disease which have still not been put in place despite the pandemic. I despair to see waiting rooms at medical facilities which still haven’t got so much as HEPA filtration in place, never mind the specific UVC lights that can kill viruses without harming humans. Really this sort of thing should be standard practice wherever people gather, especially if they are likely to be ill when gathering there.

But science has been ignored and denied for years because it costs too much. Right. The USA just enacted a bill for $2.2 trillion to make up for the effects of a single virus just in their country, and that won’t be the end of it. As I write this we’ve just hit 1 million reported cases of COVID-19, and the US alone is expecting a quarter of a million dead before it’s over.

Yes, science is too expensive and we’ll just go back to the old ways as soon as we can. Who needs clear skies and clean water anyway?

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The Farcebook Farce

Gee, I haven’t ranted about Facebook for a long time. It had become quite irrelevant to tell the truth as the site is basically garbage and I haven’t been doing much of anything with it. So let’s back up and see how today is going.

After nearly killing myself yesterday by smashing up the ice on the driveway and then splitting more wood, I wake up today to:

1). Four inches of new snow;

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Today

2). No Internet connection;

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File image

3). Dead battery in Jojo;

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File Image

4). A moronic message from Farcebook saying I can not post or comment for 24 hours due to my offensive posting. What offensive posting? It seems they took exception to a nasty remark I made about them and their incompetent Artificial Intelligence post parsing. How dare I write in German! How dare I use Sarcasm! 

That whole thing started as a bunch of my friends and I were laughing at the fact that now that all the Farceboook employees have been sent home to die of COVID-19 in peace only their idiotic AI is employed to check up on what people write. You can’t complain about any violation of TOS as you get this dumb message:

FBMESS

But in the meantime their Anti-Intelligence algorithm is deleting posts about the forerunner of Jaguar cars because “SS” (Swallow Sidecars) is of course a Nazi term only. Someone noted Chevy Super Sport cars, which also use the initials, managed to get past but not the origins of Jag. It’s okay to be a Nazi as long as you’re an American Nazi?

The irony here being that when acting on an alleged offense to sensibility, specifically ‘promoting Nazism’, they in fact act like Nazis themselves. Hence I commented “Hail victory”, in German, and got banned because German is all Nazi all the time according to Farcebook’s AI. Can anyone not see the irony? It’s drowning in it! *Cue Alanis Morisette* (There’s an extra dimension to that which I won’t go into.)

Meanwhile actual Nazis on Facebook go about their daily abuses uninterrupted – because the AI can’t comprehend intent, only content. Words are not in themselves offensive; only how you use them can be.

In future I shall remember to insult Facebook only in English, so they can better understand what I think of them and their dilapidated failure of a social media web site. If FB dies of coronavirus I won’t cry any.

In the meantime I’m not having a good day. Fortunately I wasn’t planning on going anywhere anyway, except to get a new battery for Jojo and check the mail and … Look, it was going to be my one day out this week. Oh well, guess not.

 

A visit to the Dentist

Doorhandles.

Talk to receptionist about a meter away, neither of us wearing masks. Sit in waiting room with other patients and not even a HEPA filter running, never mind any UVC light. Go in to hygienist’s room with her – no masks.

Now to business. She puts her mask on ’cause now, suddenly, I could potentially have the virus. “Please rinse your mouth with this” because the virus doesn’t live in the mouth and probably wouldn’t be killed by this stuff anyway (although it tastes like it would kill anything, possibly even me).

Scrape, scrape, scrape.

Uh, why aren’t we using the water-pick thing which is faster and more efficient and doesn’t hurt so much when your hand slips? “To prevent aerosolization of the virus”. Uh-huh. Somebody might want to go back to medical school and take the virology course over.

Back to receptionist. Schedule next appointment? “Well … we may have to close entirely. Everything is pretty unstable right now.” Well enjoy this payment; it could be your last.

Come home. Look at news. “Dentists instructed to cease all non-essential services.”

So how serious is it?

They’ve closed the parks. ‘Cause you know parks are a major site for viral transmission.

Honestly the Prime Moron’s conference today amounted to “blah, blah, blah, bleeding obvious, blah, blah, blah” which translates to “we’ve utterly screwed this up and now we have no idea what to do so it’s lip service from here on out”.

Trudeau’s policies can be described as “too little, too late, and too stupid”.

I hate to say “I told you so” but …

Actually I love saying that, and I get to quite often.

What should we be doing now?

Open it all back up again and take our lumps, frankly. None of the measures instituted has any serious effect on slowing down the spread because they are all done too late to be effective. The best you can hope for now is to stop murdering the economy and destroying everyone’s life. But you have to accept that more people will get sick and more people will die.

This is true no matter what is or isn’t done. We can now only mitigate the economic effects by ending the control procedures which won’t work anyway.

This won’t happen. They will continue to play their game of make-believe. It has become not a battle of scientific fact to control a disease outbreak but a game of psychological warfare to convince people something is being done. Never mind that it’s the wrong thing and will not have any positive effect.

Worst of all, this unique opportunity to re-arrange society to something more viable will be lost to rhetoric and inaction. Once the crisis is past we will go right back to doing all the wrong things which made us vulnerable to begin with.

The Last Word on The Virus

(I promise to stop writing about COVID-19 soon. Really. After this piece upsets everyone who bothers to read it there won’t be much left to say, unless something significant happens in the world.)

Here we are, almost three months into the outbreak and the government is just starting to do things about it. The wrong things of course, because after all it is the government doing them.

Now they’ve got it into their heads to shut down … well, nearly everything. The idea is if no two people get together the thing can’t be transmitted from one person to another. After all it does not spontaneously generate, although some people don’t seem to understand this. For example we’ve had zero cases in this area, but people are still acting like it’s rampant in the streets (inexplicably taking their kids out of school, hoarding toilet paper, et cetera).

Let’s try to apply some sense.

First, we’ll start with my own test results which were negative. Yes it took over a week to get them back. Right there is a problem; you literally would be over the disease by the time you find out you have it. Strangely the PM’s wife got her results in a day. No inequality there, no sir! Any sense there was went out the window, however, as certain members of our community decided I was infected anyway (despite their utter lack of knowledge about the situation) and spreading it all over. This is known as “lying”, and my attorney assures me it’s actionable. The MLA and the hospital both had to put out statements saying there are NO cases in the area, but people still refuse to believe it. They want Armageddon.

So much for sense.

Now about this plan of closing down everything. There would be sense in that if they’d done this first. As it is they may be doing it last. You stop the spread at the start, when it’s only affecting a few people, not after it’s reached pandemic proportions. Consider Trump’s absurd travel ban plan: restrictions for everyone from Europe – except for citizens, et cetera. As if viruses check your passport before infecting you.

Again, so much for sense.

I think the main problem with this ‘barring the barn door after the horse has bolted’ tactic is that people do not understand in the first place what is important and what isn’t. So we have the sensible precaution of stopping entertainment events, a non-essential part of life, held on par with the idiotic overreaction of closing schools which are an essential part of life. Businesses and Government offices obviously need to be kept open. Legislatures? Well you can joke about how we’re better off when they aren’t doing anything to us, but really they should be doing their jobs now if they ever do them at all. They won’t and indeed can’t because this is a time when we need smart people who know how to handle the situation, but all we have are politicians who can’t even comprehend the basics of it.

Hey if you want to shut down something to stem the spread of misinformation, you’d better suspend Facebook’s servers. That has become the primary distributor of lies on the Internet (unless you count Trump’s Twitter feed). This applies to more than just the virus situation of course.

There are some characteristics of the infection that give us clues as to what actions we should take. The current proposed measures attempt to isolate and test the entire population, which is impractical in the extreme. Witness the fact that test kits are already in short supply, as are surgical masks (although the latter for no sensible reason). Instead we should isolate the most vulnerable segments of the population; those with other health problems who are at greatest risk of dying from the virus. This is a significantly smaller proportion of society and therefor much easier to look after. They can be effectively isolated, and anyone going near them tested in advance to be sure they are not infectious.

Meanwhile the rest of the populace can take sensible precautions, such as eliminating unnecessary travel and yes shutting down inessential gatherings for a while. It won’t eliminate the economic damage entirely, but it will reduce it and keep society running until this pandemic has passed. It is important that life goes on and that we understand some people will still get sick from this, and yes some more people will die. It is impossible to avoid this; we can only minimize the inevitable effect, including the disruption of daily life. (BTW the “social distancing” practice advocated by some professionals falls apart when you realize they say “1 meter” when we already know the airborne transmission range is nearly twice that.)

While we’re talking about life, let’s mention this mysophobic preoccupation with sanitizing every surface. The compounds being used for this are rarely effective against viruses (except in the form of physically removing them with the liquid used), but they do work on bacteria. Unfortunately not all bacteria are bad, and some are vital. Yes there really is a problem with over-cleaning, and it could be an environmental time bomb. Never mind the fact this is how MRSA developed or that an area free from bacteria can be an unrestricted breeding ground for viruses to mutate in. Yes, you could be making things much worse with all that cleaning.

Meanwhile the economic chaos being wreaked on the investment market should have been stopped with a total shutdown of all exchanges after the first 10% drop. Not some temporary “circuit breaker” interruption, but a permanent closing until the crisis has passed. Sure people would scream about that and complain that it’s “illegal” (it isn’t), but the alternative is proving to be even worse. If the markets were locked down for a couple of months the time could be used to pass legislation that would overhaul the way they work, eliminating the rampantly speculative aspects of investing as it is now.

On that same subject, if ever there was proof of the inequities of the existing financial structure it has come about from this pandemic. The idiotic plummeting of the markets, the massive disruption to business, and the fragility of the economic infrastructure laid bare before us all prove we need a better system. It’s somewhat amusing in fact to see that the people who complain about hourly wage workers and social assistance recipients are now taking it on the chin because those on the lower end of the economic scale aren’t spending their money to keep the wealthy rich. For any economy to work, the money (in all its forms) has to stay in circulation; anyone hoarding it makes everyone poorer, including themselves.

Speaking of hoarding, why are people doing this? I guess they don’t understand that from infection to symptoms is two weeks and from there to clear is another two weeks. In other words, the worst you’re likely to be holed up for is a month. Six weeks tops. The things they choose to hoard are another mystery, which points out they weren’t listening about symptoms or prevention and they also have basically no knowledge of how to manage their daily life without the disease, never mind with it. I strongly suspect there are millions of households out there with cupboards and freezers full of stuff who still have to go out and buy something to eat every day because they don’t know how to handle an inventory, even when it’s their own. Not everything keeps forever, you know. Not even frozen goods. Not even things intended for long-term storage.

Ah, it seems some of the hoarders are doing so to try and create artificial shortages so they can take advantage of their fellow citizens by selling them essential goods and obscene prices. Good ol’ price gouging! I mean entrepreneurialism!  These are one of the kinds of people our sustainable society could do without; the ones who take advantage of others in a crisis. The stores could and should have shut down this hoarding behaviour the moment it was detected, but chose not to. Perhaps we can have an inquiry as to why they didn’t.

What we’re really seeing here is society tearing itself apart. Not from the effects of war or famine or disease, but from the incredibly stupid reactions to a single, relatively insignificant virus. There have been outbreaks in the past, and they were handled better. But we did not learn from them and so when this latest infection came along we still had no plan ready, and this time we haven’t handled it so well. In fact it’s been a bloody awful mess. Even the healthcare professionals are making major mistakes, and the politicians in charge are totally at sea as usual.

It isn’t a matter of “letting the disease run its course” as “let” doesn’t enter into it: we have no choice. Without a vaccine to stave off further infection it is going to pass through the whole of society, effecting everyone to a greater or lesser extent (dreadfully it seems to have only two effects; either flu-like symptoms you get over, or death). We can slow it down a bit to mitigate the damage as much as possible and keep some semblance of sanity as life goes on, but we can do no more beyond that.

The good news is: 1). the virus is not that easily transmitted (it is not classified as “airborne”*) and; 2). 98% of people will survive it (the places where the death toll has been much higher have other factors causing the increase). The bad news is viruses don’t just go away because you survived the outbreak; until there is a vaccine the cycle will not be broken and COVID-19 remains a threat year after year.

Contrary to desires, we can not enact any plan that will give us 100% safety and effectively put us back to where we were before. It simply isn’t possible. Life does not have certainties, it has odds. To some extent we can control those odds, play the percentages and improve the probabilities, but never to 100% success. Unfortunately if you say to most people “Here is a wheel with 36 numbers on, you can pick 1 of them. What are your odds of winning?” most of them would say “excellent!” Then when they don’t win they’ll whine it was unfair and the government should do something about it.

All we can do now is accept the situation and learn from it. We see more people “telecommuting” and “tele-learning”, which they should have been doing all along anyway. Conferences as well need not be handled “in person” (especially not those taxpayer funded “working vacation” type meetings politicians are so fond of). We see industries devastated by shutdown, and need to evaluate whether they should alter their fundamental nature, have an over-inflated value to society that needs to be addressed, or indeed are necessary at all. Now is the time to re-evaluate every aspect of our world, and look to a future that makes more sense. Remember: viruses mutate into new forms; surviving this one just means we’re available for the next version. If we don’t learn the essential lessons, we’re still vulnerable. As it is the measures we take are just buying time; without a vaccine to break the cycle COVID-19 remains a threat. (I know I’ve said that twice.)

And yes I realize the likelihood of all this restructuring happening is about the same as that of winning the lottery. Perhaps not even that good. Probably around 7 billion to 1.

(Nota bene: students of history will recognize certain parallels herein to what happened from the Black Death in the 14th century. They are not coincidental.)

Editor’s note: I’ve proof-read, spell-checked, fact-checked, and edited this thing a dozen times already and I’m still not happy with its limited information, awkward structure, and omitted points. But not many people are likely to read it, it won’t change anything even if they do, and no one is paying me to write it so … buggrit.

*The size of the corona virus is large so it does not remain suspended in the air like the smaller rhinovirus does (this is the difference between aerosolized and airborne). This is why it is easier to catch the common cold; it can linger in the air after being exhaled by someone who has since moved from the space. Primary infection of both virus types is by inhaling them, with surface transmission to the respiratory tract secondary (the additional steps involved in moving the virus from an infected to a non-infected person increases the likelihood of removing or killing the virus before transmission occurs).

COVID could be good

The COVID-19 virus outbreak is having the right effect on the world.

Unfortunately it is doing so for all the wrong reasons, and the effect is only temporary. Once the ’emergency’ is over everyone will forget the lessons they should be learning and it will all go back to business as usual. Which is wrong.

So what is good about it?

Let’s start with improved hygiene. Face it, much of the ‘ordinary’ viral illness spread every year could be prevented if people followed the basic procedures they are observing now. Not the ridiculous extremes some people are touting, but the simple acts of cleanliness like washing your hands. It’s somewhat appalling to realize they haven’t been doing this all along anyway. Rhinovirus that causes common colds by the score can be greatly reduced by washing, covering coughs and sneezes, and wiping off dirty surfaces. Never mind the reduction in bacterial transmission. And if you don’t know the difference between bacteria and viruses please learn as it is important. For example that hand sanitizer that is currently selling for $200 an ounce has no effect on a virus, but will kill off bacteria. It’s still just glorified rubbing alcohol, though. Likewise antibiotics will not cure a viral infection, but are sometimes given to stave off a likely secondary bacterial one. In the short form, nothing is really efficacious against a virus save your own immune system, and a few things that would be have a damaging effect on you as well as the germ.

Another benefit has been a great reduction in travel, even locally. What’s so good about that? Less fuel consumption and resulting lower pollution. No, really. The social shutdown is actually showing up already on views of emissions and climate change. Amazingly positive effect in a really short period of time. It really gives you hope for the future of life kind (only we know … it hasn’t got one).

The third major benefit is probably not so obvious, because it looks like an unmitigated disaster: the stock market decline. What’s good about that? Well in the first place no real wealth is affected because real wealth is fixed at the resources available to a given society and that doesn’t change just because of some arbitrary numerical evaluation. No, it doesn’t. What does change is that basically the rich people are eating each other alive financially, and they deserve it. The only reason they are so rich is because of the poverty they’ve inflicted on others. This isn’t some sort of socialist-communist rant, is a factual observation of economics that only con artists try to deny: no one gets rich in a closed resource system (which is any and all of them) without someone else getting poor. Wealth is not “created” (except in terms of falsified statements to convince banks to loan you money by proving you don’t need it), it is redistributed. The billionaires are reverse Robin Hoods, robbing the poor to give to the rich – themselves – like Dennis Moore. (There is a weird paradox that goes along with this wherein the richer they become and the poorer they make others the still richer they must become to be “as rich” because the uneven distribution stifles the economy and drives inflation, making the value of their money go down as the quantity of it goes up.)

There is a fourth part as well, and it starts with this Wall Street Syndrome. The fact is that the stock market and its various forms are no longer a means of investing but instead have become the biggest casino on Earth. It’s gambling, not investing. If the profits from the company this quarter aren’t as large as expected (instead of merely present), the stock value goes down. People even wager on that and ‘borrow’ stock they haven’t got to sell at top prices as they expect to cover those sales once the value drops. Almost 2/3 of “investing” these days is really speculation, and not based on any solid financial standing of any given company. The whole system needs a drastic overhaul, with much of the current accepted practices outlawed. This would stabilize the economy as nothing else could, and begin to change the economic mindset from constant demand of ever greater quarterly payouts to long-term consistency and planning.

From there we go to spreading that idea across the whole of society. Not just economically, but holistically. We should realize that the first industries hardest hit by the irrational social effects of this truly insignificant viral outbreak are the ones that need to be re-examined for their sustainability or indeed actual need. (See my earlier piece on a Sustainable Society).

None of this will happen, of course, as the virus is no place near as bad as the hyperbole makes it out to be. So far the world-wide infection rate has been less than 1/100,000 of the population and the unlucky few who have contracted it have a 98% chance of survival. By contrast, influenza which can largely be avoided by vaccine still manages to kill about 300,000 people per year. In more localized statistics, places like Italy and Iran are much worse off and you have to then consider what underlying differences there are to make their infection and death rates so much higher than the ‘norm’.

Once coronavirus is out of the news by dint of its lackluster staying power or is pushed aside by the start of World War III or something everyone will go back to business as usual and we’ll still have the same major problems we had before this insignificant one came along and got promoted as the new Black Death by an ignorant, nay stupid populace. COVID-19 is no place near as dangerous as the idiotic behaviour it has triggered.

Addendum: the amount of utter nonsense I’ve been reading about this and other viruses of late makes me wish it was going to wipe out half the population. Preferably the stupid half. Even when you explain the reality of it, people steadfastly refuse to believe the truth no matter how well-documented the facts or what qualifications the conveyor has. It’s like they have a built-in need to be wrong, or to be scared by something. It’s like with a zombie invasion; you can’t convince them that is impossible either. It is for that reason that I am not uttering one word about my own legitimacy in presenting this essay as factual, because no one would accept any. I can be just as trustworthy as anyone else spewing nonsense on the Internet.

Except in this instance it’s not nonsense.

What’s that phrase they always use? Oh yes: “do your research!” *LOL*

Or to paraphrase Pogo (Walt Kelly): We have met the enemy, and it is us.