Our PandemicOkay, clearly this is an awesome time to be alive. Take notes. Your grandchildren will be asking you questions about it. If you survive that long.
I've been asked what I think about all this; on a metaphysical level. I usually say something like..
"Well, we asked for it. That's a certainty. The bigger question is, why? What purpose does it serve each of us, and us collectively. In short, what's the up-side? There has to be an up-side. And a big one."
It will get worse, much worse before it gets better. Some parts of the world are looking at absolutely massive casualty rates; akin to a world war. But even the countries with the lowest rates are going to run out of places to put the bodies pretty soon, and then what? Undertakers never had it so good. For a while, anyway.
Third time's a charm. SARS got caught out; not spiky enough. MERS is failing to make its mark. But at last we figured it out! SARS-CoV-2 is devastating. As the Coronavirus family learns more and more about our physiology, its strains are becoming increasingly lethal. Of course, we are feeding them the data. The 21st century looks like it could be a battle ground: Us vs Virus.
Which is to say, another little gem is on the way. Of course. And oh if only our governments hadn't been so busy tweeting and vying for power and gain, they might have been doing their job; governing and protecting their nations.
Most governments lack solid leadership, because we put them there. To our vast shame we have elected leaders for the cut of their suit, their looks, the quickness of their speech, their sex-appeal, cleverness, fame. And what they could do for us, personally.
Admittedly, we haven't been given a lot of choice. But again, we rigged it that way, didn't we?
Fortunately, being masters of our own larger fate on this wee planet of ours we engineered a wonderful wake-up call. To not only our apathetic leaders and crumbling systems, but to ourselves.
How quickly those things that were so important in January vanished into thin air with a "poof!". They were important, you vaguely remember but mustering energy in that direction is slow going. What with all the bombs going off.
So it goes. UN calls for a global cease-fire? I mean, Duh!
Soldiers! Get the fuck home!
For some reason I keep singing Braintax's "Last One Out Turn Out The Lights". That bit around three minutes in that begins, "We're fugitives from nature..".
So, we could have done better. Let's start now.. Leaders! Scientists do their jobs so that you can do yours! Ignore good science at your peril. You saw this coming and did nothing. Even when it had waltzed right into our homes. Not ignoring it now though, are we?
What would I have done if I was in power? Well, easy to answer that, after the fact. But for sure, I would have been well prepared. It's in my nature. Not having a TV and not paying attention, the first I realised it was a pandemic was when I walked into the completely empty pasta isle in Lidl, thought, "WTF?". A couple of weeks ago I had been wondering if I could catch this thing from my Chinese eBay parcels; now I'm worried about my neighbours.
"Buy enough to survive for two weeks", they tell us. No need! I could feed my family for a month, easy, on my supplies. Know your food, and keep lots of dried beans and seeds, always! And another couple of months after that on protein and green powders, probably. They seem to have reproduced at the back of the cupboard.
As el-primo, I would have listened to my own advisers, who would be top-notch by the way, and used this information to formulate a Plan Of Action. This would have been right after the SARS outbreak, it goes without saying. If that was my job, I'd be doing it right, see. Potential pandemics would be right up there on my list of "things to look out for".
First whisper of a potentially deadly virus, I would have shut borders instantly (brain-storming and extrapolating likely scenarios with my best scientists, of course). No shit. No one, no thing comes in to the country unless it's been a month in quarantine. Until we know better. You can do without Olives for a month, right?
Anyone with Coronavirus symptoms; we immediately deploy a HAZMAT-suited investigation team to track all contacts and test test test. Contain without mercy!
Or, you know, something like that. Retrospect is wonderful stuff. If it helps us do better. Be better. I would have stamped that thing out. Total curfew unless completely essential, and with permission. I would have been ruthless as fuck and the public; after the rest of the world had disintegrated into chaos; would thank me for it. And I wouldn't care. I was doing my job, is all.
Viruses give me the willies. Always have. I watched every episode of ReGenesis when it first aired and was shitting myself from the get-go, found it difficult to get to sleep after a few other episodes, too. I do wish Peter Outerbridge would get more lead roles.
I try to watch one episode of TV every night. There just so much good stuff getting made these days, and so much already made, just as well, eh! I'll never get through even a fraction of all the good stuff, but I did find myself watching a show called "Counterpart" a few weeks back and it is remarkably prescient! It is also fantastic television.
One episode, iirc: "The Sincerest Form of Flattery"; the writers use an entire episode to (finally!) give us one crucial back-story whilst weaving its effects through the narrative; is one of the finest pieces of television I have ever seen. Ironically, the star, J. K. Simmons, who knocks it out of the park whenever he is on-screen, is almost completely absent. Most of the other episodes are staggeringly good. A few are merely excellent. Two seasons only. Madness.
Did I mention, J. K. Simmons is astounding, playing two versions of himself, often in the same scene; one kind but meek and downtrodden, the other a dangerous spy. There is a parallel world, you see; an experiment gone wrong back in the 80s, and we create and (both) discover a gateway between our worlds, and secretly exploit it.
Why do I mention all this, you ask. Here's where is gets interesting. Years back "their side" suffered a global pandemic, a virus that swept the Earth killing Millions. Image of a playground, a kid coughing, the other kids (most in masks), panic-stricken, back away from the child, run.. It's a government ad.
FAILURE TO REPORT ILLNESS IN A FAMILY MEMBER OR FRIEND IS A CRIMINAL OFFENCE, PUNISHABLE BY IMPRISONMENT ...
Or words to that effect.
People walk about in masks, shove their hands into UVC sterilising cubbys when they enter and exit places*. It's truly terrifying. Because it's us now. Counterpart was made in 2017, FYI.
Oh if only our leaders watched quality TV, instead of masturbating to youtube videos of themselves. I have a Platonic view of national leaders, you will note. Should be a job taken seriously; performed by those most suited to the task. Democracy is seriously flawed, but sadly it looks like it's the best we've got, so far. Though I do dream of something better …
Oh. Escapism. That is the underlying point of the nightly TV. I managed about ten minutes tonight, beginning season two of "Preacher", because, well, I like Elvis. Apparently that hilarious Irish vampire was in Emerdale. Well, the actor. Who knew?
Then, for some reason, I felt compelled to share a few thoughts on our current challenge. Maybe it's because my cold is getting worse. Pretty sure it's a cold, anyway. More coughing now. Hmm. No fever.
Which reminds me; ever tried to take a toddler's temperature? I wonder if those IR-thingies work, no-contact, see. I must look into it. But then again, they'll be like a thousand bucks each right now. The back of the fingers on the forehead is probably best.
I'm trusting Chinese electronics with my own temperature checking; a mains-powered PID, which hopefully continues to separate the mains and sensor circuits effectively, though it does tingle a bit. Sensor voltage, I tell myself.
I think if you are healthy, it might be an idea to be injected intentionally with Coronavirus and get it over and done with. You isolate for a few weeks then come out and help. Also with the herd immunity. Get your country moving and all that. Sure, some will die, but many, many will die anyway.
I had a birthday the other day and statistically, I've massively increased my chances of catching Coronavirus, literally overnight. Fortunately my physical form looks and operates like one decades younger, and I'll likely get no more than cold symptoms. My celebrations were more muted than planned, however; no restaurants, for starters.
So it goes. Sploodge all over the newsrooms cubicles when we hit a Million Cases. Won't be so much for the Two Million Cases announcement, I bet. If there are still working newsrooms. Besides, the worst devastation will likely hit places where we can only estimate. The Third World will be decimated. Who even knows how many people there are there to begin with?
The sobering irony of all this is that the various drastic "safety" measures; mass closures, social distancing and such; will likely kill way more people than the virus **.
Please consider that for a moment.
This kind of knee-jerk is common with impulsive humans. My Awesome Government inc. would have thought this through a dozen think-tanks and realised that in the end; life is precious, but living, more so.
Maybe as El-Primo, I would have simply announced..
"In concert with Gaia we have created a purge. Search your hearts for ways to be better, and do better for the beings around you. We must evolve as a species or some day soon, die.
The time to make the most of your lives and those you love, is now. Kiss your fathers and mothers and grandparents and children and set your affairs in order. Do not panic. Breathe deep. Life is good. Don't cling to it. Enjoy it! See value in it. Live it!", and stuff like that. It would be a time of reflection and evolution, but mostly of celebration.
Trade would boom, restaurants and other gathering places hosting parties, folk spending fearlessly. Life would go on, and undertakers would laugh. Herd immunity would build rapidly. We'd be ready and save those who could be. Those who cannot would die.
Most importantly, we would learn. And in that learning become better custodians of this magnificent planet we temporarily call home.
How temporarily is up to us. Nature (guided by human's basic physiology and deeper purpose) has plenty more tricks up her sleeve, on a scale of deadly to genocide.
Or not. Our choice.
** I'm not entirely sure about this site, but the article is thought provoking. i.e., "A study by researchers at Imperial College London linked 500,000 cancer deaths to the Great Recession. They found unemployment and health care cuts lead to these half a million tragedies.".