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owedtojoy

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This isn't a meant to be a thread about the pandemic itself but whether and how it has made you view the world differently. We're still in the middle of experiencing an event most people will remember for the rest of their lives. Outside of the various imposts on our day to day lives, has anything emerged from the milling about that changes how you see the big picture? For me, #COVID19 is a storm (or rather, a slow-moving train crash) that has ripped away the trappings of gravitas, the sense of "It's OK folks. We know what we're doing." order in which governments necessarily clad themselves. A sense of just how close the bullet we just dodged came, firmly suggesting the limits of the ability of governments to deal with an engulfing crisis. You can almost glimpse this in the exaggerated calm and studied efforts to exude the sense of "We-know-what-we're-doing routines" in government announcements. They really don't. How much worse would it need to get before a storm such as this caused a status-quo smashing breakdown? Not all that much, I would suggest. A higher mortality rate. The news that having had the disease imparts no immunity. Not much at all.

None of which is to say that the current crop of leaders are especially bad, but a realization of how quickly events can get ahead of us and unmoor us from everything we've come to expect of how society works.

Any insight yerselves?

Anyway, happy Friday.
Some thoughts

  • The pandemic brought home in a complessed time frame the crisis of the natural world that has been happening since the industrial revolution, even before that .... the pandemic itself happened when a pathogen jumped from another species to prey on humans, just like flu jumped from pigs when we domesticated them, or cholera from a crustacean in the Ganges delta in the 19th century. This will continue.
  • It brought into stark view the gap between required policy and sceintific findings seen in climate change ... the science is fairly clear, but politicians say "Not yet!". Hesitation by politicians hoping for better news led to a lot of deaths in the pandemic before action happened. The political failures over the pandemic are only harbingers of what will happen when the policital failures over climate come into clearer view.
  • What surprised me: How the EU pulled together after initial wobbles. There is a way forward, not clear but the first step in a long journey.
  • More that surprised me: How we Irish went our own way, and pulled together in disciplined fashion, rather than the same-old "Item I on the Agenda: The Split". That may be fracturing now, as "normal " politics resumes.
  • Even more that surprised me: How badly North and South America managed the pandemic, except for Canada, and some smaller countries like Costa Rica.
  • Outstanding Leader: For a "lame duck", Angela Merkel was the best leader of a democracy in the pandemic. And also as a European leader, she showed touches of greatness.
  • In general, 2020 has not made me any more optimistic or pessimistic about the future. The same issues are there to be faced. They interlock like russian dolls
    • Pandemic
    • The World Economy
    • Global Governance, from the WHO, the UN, to the G7 and the incipient Cold War between the US and China.
    • The Crisis of the Natural World - climate change and mass extinctions (though not, I hope, of us).
  • These are problems, but the optimist in me says there are opportunities too.
  • The American Elections on November 3rd is going to be an important indicator of how these play out. The USA is still a dominant player, what its electorate determines is important.
 

owedtojoy

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My happiest memory ... watching two episodes of the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender every day after lunch with my wife and daughter, during the lockdown. We then went on to watch the spinoff The Legend of Korra.

Brilliant series, but I suppose it shows how dependent we were on wi-fi, the Internet and the electricity grid.
 

Ardillaun

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What have I learned:
- that experts haven't a clue
- that gloves are pointless
- that treating amazon packages as though they are a bomb is a waste of time
- that masks are torture
- ve to realise we have to live with covid and it's risks
What an interesting list! I clearly failed this exam.
 

Kevin Parlon

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As a brief aside, two books that are both incandescently brilliant and particularly apt right now

the_stand_stephen_king_novel_art.jpg
 

Kevin Parlon

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My happiest memory ... watching two episodes of the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender every day after lunch with my wife and daughter, during the lockdown. We then went on to watch the spinoff The Legend of Korra.

Brilliant series, but I suppose it shows how dependent we were on wi-fi, the Internet and the electricity grid.
Another positive: If your family and relationships are holding up, even if they are under strain, you're probably in good shape and likely to weather future storms.
 

Ardillaun

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Some thoughts

  • Even more that surprised me: How badly North and South America managed the pandemic, except for Canada, and some smaller countries like Costa Rica
Not to derail the thread but many of us Canadians are not that impressed with what has happened in the nursing homes of Quebec and, to a lesser extent, Ontario. By contrast, Uruguay and Paraguay do appear to deserve honourable mention (so far) in the Americas.

 

owedtojoy

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Not to derail the thread but many of us Canadians are not that impressed with what has happened in the nursing homes of Quebec and, to a lesser extent, Ontario. By contrast, Uruguay and Paraguay do appear to deserve honourable mention (so far) in the Americas.

Many Governments got the care homes wrong, including Germany, Ireland, Italy and the UK.

I did not mean to imply that any Government was perfect, but some definitely managed better than others.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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No
As a brief aside, two books that are both incandescently brilliant and particularly apt right now

the_stand_stephen_king_novel_art.jpg
Always thought The Stand was King's most powerfully rendered story and the largest in scope and ambition.
 

rainmaker

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World cases are about 22 million. Deaths 792k. That's about 3.5%, no?
That percentage would probably have been a lot higher had most of the world not taken lockdown measures.
 

Mercurial

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For me, #COVID19 is a storm (or rather, a slow-moving train crash) that has ripped away the trappings of gravitas, the sense of "It's OK folks. We know what we're doing." order in which governments necessarily clad themselves. A sense of just how close the bullet we just dodged came, firmly suggesting the limits of the ability of governments to deal with an engulfing crisis.
So, global Brexit.
 

Ardillaun

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At one level a pandemic functions as a sort of international audit. This one has shown striking differences in administrative effectiveness and the collective ability to follow health directives. For many Western countries it has been a humbling experience.
 

petaljam

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At one level a pandemic functions as a sort of international audit. This one has shown striking differences in administrative effectiveness and the collective ability to follow health directives. For many Western countries it has been a humbling experience.
Some of them are still in denial about that though.
 

Kevin Parlon

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At one level a pandemic functions as a sort of international audit. This one has shown striking differences in administrative effectiveness and the collective ability to follow health directives. For many Western countries it has been a humbling experience.
Very well put, but I would argue it has shown up governments more than the citizens who have by and large responded to government indecision and error with (very probably misplaced) trust and compliance.
 

Ardillaun

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One hazard of the lockdown has been the demon drink. I recently came across two brilliant memoirs about alcoholism by female writers:


I think women are more reliable witnesses regarding the perils and destructiveness of booze - there’s less bravado in their tales, more shame and dread. After an incident of drunken, public nudity in Nicaragua, Leslie Jamison had to be told by the hotel guard, “No more visitors”. Knapp eventually managed to stay sober but never kicked the smokes and died of lung cancer at 42. Jamison’s work has a more academic feel and contains a great deal of information about AA as well as vivid sketches of the travails of many writers like Jackson, Berryman, Rhys and Carver, and singer Billie Holiday. As she puts it, ‘Yearning is our most powerful narrative engine, and addiction is one of its dialects’. A central theme is how artistic creativity interacts with both addiction and subsequent sobriety:


Of course eventually, writing becomes very difficult to manage. John Berryman described some events that convinced him to try AA which included a stay in Dublin:

Wife left me after 11 yrs of marriage bec. of drinking. Despair, heavy drinking alone, jobless, penniless…. Seduced students drunk…. My chairman told me I had called up a student drunk at midnight & threatened to kill her…. Drunk in Calcutta, wandered streets lost all night, unable to remember my address…. Many alibis for drinking … Severe memory-loss, memory distortions. DT’s once in Abbott, lasted hours. Quart of whisky a day for months in Dublin working hard on a long poem…. Wife hiding bottles, myself hiding bottles. Wet bed drunk in London hotel, manager furious, had to pay for new mattress. Lectured too weak to stand, had to sit. Lectured badly prepared…. Defecated uncontrollably in a University corridor, got home unnoticed…. My wife said St. Mary’s or else. Came here.
Kinda hard to believe he escaped unnoticed from that corridor incident. This is closer to the raving end-stage male drunk we are used to.

However, there is also clearly a challenge in making sobriety as attractive a subject, as many authors have discovered. Recovery is about routine and cliches and they are deadly for the writer.

Here’s a friendly review:



And, for balance, a curiously hostile one:


The stories have many similarities - both authors suffered from anorexia when younger and were very much at the high-functioning end of the addiction spectrum - but their distinctive styles make them worth a look.
 

fat finger

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The stories have many similarities - both authors suffered from anorexia when younger and were very much at the high-functioning end of the addiction spectrum - but their distinctive styles make them worth a look.
Interesting. One theory of alcoholism is it is not a drink problem at all but an eating disorder, which would be supported by the above. But there doesn't seem much material available coming from that point of view.
 

Emily Davison

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Some thoughts
    • These are problems, but the optimist in me says there are opportunities too.
This is the one I like the most, you’re an optimist, to my pessimistic side. The world being made up of both sides. You see light, and that gives me light.

Charlie Bird was raging on the radio this week, I said isn’t he marvellous standing up for older people, and he was magnificent in his rage.

We will live thru this we humans.
 

Super Caley

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One thing which has struck me is the curious analogy between the immunological phenomenon of a cytokine storm, (an apparent over reaction of the immune system which causes more problems for the body than the pathogen it is reacting to) and the 21st century response of our modern globalised inter-connected human society.

When all this is over, it seems likely that when we add up the costs of the response to the virus, it will massively out weigh the benefits. Even within our own health system we may already be heading in that direction, with missed cancer diagnoses and delayed treatments etc, and that's before you consider the harder to quantify things like loneliness of nursing home residents, mental health effects, developmental delay and regression in children etc etc. And that's just in the rich west. Consider the warnings about famine, the disruption to the battle against treatable diseases such a malaria and (ironically) the impact on the WHO vaccination programme in developing countries, and it's not hard to see a sort of self-destructive global psycho-social cytokine storm.

But doing something about that is probably easier said than done and I don't pretend to even begin to know how to address this dilemma. Obviously, as with the immune system and any invading pathogen, there has to be some reaction. But as with cytokines, once you, for example, release the dogs of fear it can be quite difficult to call them back again before they've done more harm than good.

If the immune system, which is the complex product of millions of years of evolutionary fine tuning, is prone to occasional destructive over-reaction, then maybe it should be no surprise to find that human society is too.
Realising the existence of this problem might be the big, long term learning point from all this.
 

recedite

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Maybe the biggest long term change will be the acceptability of "working from home" and the positive impacts this could have on traffic congestion this coming winter.

What strikes me about the Lockdown is how easy it was to take away civil liberties in countries with a long history of freedom and democracy. I think this only happened because the virus started in China. Lockdown was the natural authoritarian response, and it worked reasonably well for them. As the virus traveled west, other countries followed suit, but in a less effective way, simply because they could think of no other response than the one the Chinese had pioneered.

Here in Ireland, we are simply waiting for some other country to rescue us, by providing a vaccine.
At the same time, we laugh at the Russians, and dismiss their vaccine as "not properly tested". Maybe not, but it must be at least as legitimate to offer a vaccine that has skipped some lengthy trials, as it is to deprive people of their normal freedoms, their livelihoods, and their normal hospital/health system.
 

Super Caley

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Maybe the biggest long term change will be the acceptability of "working from home" and the positive impacts this could have on traffic congestion this coming winter.

What strikes me about the Lockdown is how easy it was to take away civil liberties in countries with a long history of freedom and democracy. I think this only happened because the virus started in China. Lockdown was the natural authoritarian response, and it worked reasonably well for them. As the virus traveled west, other countries followed suit, but in a less effective way, simply because they could think of no other response than the one the Chinese had pioneered.

Here in Ireland, we are simply waiting for some other country to rescue us, by providing a vaccine.
At the same time, we laugh at the Russians, and dismiss their vaccine as "not properly tested". Maybe not, but it must be at least as legitimate to offer a vaccine that has skipped some lengthy trials, as it is to deprive people of their normal freedoms, their livelihoods, and their normal hospital/health system.
The Russian vaccine might not be as improbable as it first appears;

If you think about it, it's probably the product of,er .. how shall it put it....the pooling of lots of data from various countries
 

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