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David Chilstrom
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Imagining how the "Swedish Strategy" might work at the level of the auto-immune system: "Hey dere you Corona punks. Now don't you go makin a ruckus. Ve don't vont no trouble here. Keep yourselves spread out, no closer dan 600 nanometers between you and the cellular membranes, and no groups of you little buggers larger than six at a time. Now you be goot or be gone! "Vat's that you fellers doin over there? Don't be loitering around dem alveoli. Didn't you get da 600 nanometers memo? Bugger off or ve going to make a Svedish meatball out of you. "Seriously, cut that out, or ve go over there and kick your sorry asses. I'm not jus a horsin around! Scat you varmits. "Gus, ve got to go over dere and kick some ass. Oh coffee break? Yes, ve do that first and then kick some ass. "OK boys, break's over. Pass out the billy clubs. Vat's that? Time for my favorite Svedish soap opera? OK ve watch TV first, den ve give them little buggers the heave ho. "Boy, dat vas a goot show. Vat you say? A two parter? Heck, ve can watch that, but then ve gotta get out there and show them vandals vot for. "Boy, dat vas a really, really goot show. Vat? Time for another coffee break? OK, ve got to keep ourselves strong and alert. But after break dere vill be hell to pay."
Toggle Commented Apr 25, 2020 on Cassandra shrugged at Michael Prescott's Blog
Love the title "Cassandra Shrugged". Good to see you still have your wry sense of humor. You've done a great job Michael in laying out the collateral damage caused by the reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. Very thought provoking. This has been a test of the global pandemic response system. It's not the zombie apocalypse virus that some warn could threaten humanity one day, but it's just bad enough to show how even a moderately lethal virus that is moderately transmissible can wreak global pandemonium. We can learn from this and, hopefully, when the next pandemic rolls around we will do better. Most readers of this blog are likely in the "Death OK" camp. Rather than viewing death as lights out forever, we likely share the optimistic perspective that death is the doorway into what Robert Crookall called "the supreme adventure". Despite seeing that death, in itself is not a bad thing, I think we would also likely agree that death caused by alcohol induced vehicular homicide, or manufacturer negligence is not the same as death by Cancer or, for that matter, death by COVID-19. Where needless death can be prevented we should do so, within reason. All deaths are not created equal. As a variation on the philosophical trolley problem, imagine a one fire engine town where a nursing home is on fire on one end of town and on the other is a burning schoolhouse where children and teachers are trapped inside. In this situation our moral calculus demands that we sacrifice the elders in order to save the children. I think, if there were time to put it to a vote, even the residents of the nursing home would agree to this choice. It's the right thing to do. Were COVID-19 especially lethal to children, our resolve to put out the viral fire would and should be even stronger than it is now. This is no value judgement against those, like me, in their "golden" years. Healthy elders are a vital part of a healthy society, but we are also more likely to be ripened grain for the reaper. Our work on Earth is mostly finished. Up until 1972 U.S. forest management policy was to put out or control all forest fires regardless of their origin. Research into how forests recovered from wildfires showed that fires play an important and beneficial part in the long-term health of the forest. Firefighting efforts were shifted from putting out all fires to establishing protective zones for cities and homes. The “Let it burn” philosophy was famously (or infamously) put to the test during the 1988 wildfire in Yellowstone National Park; burning nearly 800,000 acres. Viral outbreaks are analogous to wildfires. It's doubtful that a "Let it burn" philosophy would or should ever be sanctioned with respect to epidemics. We know what the world was like when epidemics flared out of control and decimated or destroyed entire communities. And though we can dispassionately witness the positive effects to the ecosystem with respect to forest fires, it's much more difficult to turn a blind eye to human death and suffering. Perhaps, letting epidemics sweep through a population, like a pack of wolves picking off the stragglers and unlucky, would have an overall beneficial effect on the human herd. That's a very difficult ethical discussion to have and, in the heat of these times, perhaps not possible. Like Michael, I have my own quarrel with "materialist" science and I find the resistance in the medical community to alternative therapies perplexing. When solutions are put forward to managing the symptoms of COVID-19, the usual pharmaceutical suspects are put forward. What if "the magic bullet" lies in Acupuncture, Reiki, Herbal Medicine, Homeopathy, or some other "quack" remedy? As President Trump is fond of saying "It couldn't hurt to try." Finally, I'd like to touch on two of the spiritual aspects of this crisis. Prior to stay at home orders, there was good evidence of a loneliness epidemic, especially amongst seniors living alone. Given that elders are particularly vulnerable to this rampant virus, and should exercise extra caution, the "loneliness epidemic" amongst that cohort will only get worse. There are abundant volunteer opportunities here that would prove mutually beneficial. Secondly, we are social creatures that flourish in congregating with the pack; be that in a bar, in a church, concerts, sports events, and so on. Coming together is not just good for the economy, it's good for the soul. I fear that our virtual lives will continue to increase at the expense of our social health. Though forums like this do provide an outlet for self expression and social exchange, it's nothing like a hearty conversation over food and drink. May you find peace and joy in the midst of these "interesting times".
Toggle Commented Apr 24, 2020 on Cassandra shrugged at Michael Prescott's Blog
Human beings have a deep instinctual fear of epidemic disease. We know through stories passed down by our ancestors that terrible plagues have ripped through communities like a viral firestorm consuming young and old alike.In this enlightened age when we can map the genome of a "novel" virus in days, our current best defense is the brute club of keeping our distance. How so 1918 is that? So yeah, it's weird, strange, seeing people in America wearing face masks in public. Would John Wayne wear a face mask? Hell no pilgrim. It's un-American. One of the ways that we conceal our dis-ease is by telling ourselves hopeful stories. Here's a happy one from another comment here: COVID-19 "may end up producing the same death toll as a *very* severe strain of seasonal flu, but the deaths will be bunched together in maybe six weeks, rather than being spread out over six months." Who needs a so-called "expert" like Doogie Downer, M.D., when one of our very own has channelled from on high a vision of God's beneficent grace. I poke fun at my fellow commenter, because I've made the same kind of dumb ass observation along the way. It's comforting to delude yourself into believing that you sorta know when, in fact, you really don't know jack. As for the experts (and I mean the unenclosed by quotes kind), their projections are educated guesses, based on experiences with other viruses that the current bug may resemble. This microbial terrorist is what our former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld might call a known unknown. It's an enemy that we know is lethal, but we're not quite sure how lethal. It's very contagious, but we don't know yet just how contagious. Will it subside over the Summer? Maybe. Will it be back with a vengeance in the Fall? Hope not. Will people who catch it once be immune from future infection? That would be awesome, thank you very much. But actually, no one really knows for certain, and that kind of uncertainty is a ripe fermentation chamber for elaborate concoctions of all sorts to soothe our anxiety. There is a small subset of questions where even a duffer like me can make a squishy guess with a reasonable measure of confidence. Public venues of all sorts will have a lousy year. Companies that previously frowned on telework will be more accommodating and flexible, at least until the all clear is sounded. Those great employment numbers before the bug bit won't be back for awhile. And don't bother looking at your 401K for now. Watch a movie on Netflix instead. Take the advice of the British government in 1939. Keep calm and carry on.
Toggle Commented Apr 15, 2020 on Strange days at Michael Prescott's Blog
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Apr 15, 2020