Monday, 30 March 2020

The Virus Times: An admirable act of recklessness

While out for my state sanctioned stroll on Sunday I walked past my local Boots, which in non-pandemic times would be in the busy shopping area of the town. On the other side of the street I saw a solitary elderly man trudging past with a walking stick. With his other hand he was eating what looked like a Magnum ice cream. I watched as he ploughed headlong in to the cold bitter wind, a reminder that winter's sting still lingered. He appeared completely absorbed in the pleasure of eating an ice cream, as if it was the only moment that ever existed. Someone should tell the Buddhists you can reach enlightenment via frozen desserts. He seemed oblivious to the altered social landscape around him. Had he not read of the medical advice for the over seventies to cocoon themselves? Why would such a feeble man take such a risk just to buy dessert?

Now, while I agree that the elderly should quarantine themselves and that this man was somewhat reckless with his well being, I couldn't help but think there might be other factors to consider before passing too harsh a judgment. The fact that such a frail old man was out walking to the shops indicated that he might live alone. If he had any grown up children maybe they lived far away and so there was no one to pick things up for him. Perhaps his daily walk to the service station and a few warm words with the staff while he grabs a newspaper and some confectionery is the only bit of human contact he has since his wife died. He is probably aware that death is something he will most likely face sooner rather than later, with or without contracting Covid-19, and that he has no intention of surrendering his daily pleasures until the grim reaper drags him from this world sucking on a double caramel Magnum.

So, was he reckless and irresponsible? Yes. However, there was also something admirable about this old man refusing to surrender his last morsel of autonomy. Watching him bent over on his walking stick, struggling forward in to the harsh wind as he enjoyed his ice cream reminded me of one of those gnarled and wizened trees you see in a stark landscape that lunges defiantly and indomitably against the elements. Only weeks ago as I rushed about with my busy life I don't think I would have noticed an old man eating an ice cream. Now in the eerie stillness of the Covid-19 era all of life is perceptible.


  1. [1/3] To the future or to the past, to a time when thought and men are free, when men can trust each other and do not live alone—to a time when sanity exists and reality cannot be denied. From the age of conformity, from the age of State-enforced solitude, from the age of the Surveillance State, from the age of doublethink—greetings, 6079 Smith W!
    I used to read your old blog regularly, commenting now and again, iirc, under the pseudonym ‘Stranger Here Myself’; no reason for you to remember but we had no disagreements—not that we were ‘on the same page’ as I was to the Right of you, but we maybe were reading the same book (your Generation F at least). You seem to have since moved Rightwards—but so have I, so I’m still to the Right of you, ha!
    …If Left & Right remain relevant (see David Goodhart’s ‘Somewheres’ and ‘Anywheres’).
    …If any of the old politics still have meaning within our new global dystopia.

    Corona time.

    I admit to panicking at the beginning myself. (Yup, let me tell you about virus particle size and what grade of filters you require, and eye and ear protection, and what you need to decontaminate your PPE…) Even the rich and powerful were catching it, and I was transfixed by those dashboards clocking up cases and deaths.
    But then I noted they recovered… Huh.
    (The rich have access to better medical treatment you say? But I was told this was the Apocalypse Plague; thought I’d been transported to Poe’s Masque of the Red Death; turns out, it’s Hello Magazine.)

    The Diamond Princess is most useful barometer: isolated environment where initially almost everything went wrong that could. So, how did what has been frequently described as a ‘floating petri dish’ do between first COVID-19 test-positive on 1st February, through final guest disembarkation on 27 February, to date (2 April)?
    1,045 crew & 2,666 passengers—3,711 in total (average age on board 58).
    Tested positive: 712 (19.19% of those on board—suggests virus not quite as infectious as claimed)
    ‘Recovered’: 619 (86.94% of tested positive).
    Asymptomatic: 318 (44.66%); 265 (83.33%) of latter aged 60–89.
    Active cases: 82 (11.52%), of which 15 (2.11% of the 712) reported ‘Critical’.
    Died: 11 (1.54%)
    11 falls short of the horror story the media is pushing; and figure should be viewed in light of an ‘estimated 200 passenger deaths a year’ on ocean cruises. Esp. as they aged 70–89 and had health issues.
    (Also see Eschenbach, W. (2020, Mar 16) Diamond Princess Mysteries. Watts Up With That.)

  2. [2/3] Recommended sites and articles:
    A Swiss Doctor on Covid-19 (at least daily updated; see esp. 1st Apr update for despatch from Italy about how panic is at least exacerbating mortality problems; cf. with ‘Woman is first UK victim to die of coronavirus caught in hospital’).
    Lee, J. (2020, Mar 29) How to understand—and report—figures for ‘Covid deaths’. Spectator. (And author’s linked companion article: How deadly is the coronavirus? It’s still far from clear.)
    Hart, J. (2020, Mar 19) The Coronavirus Dashboards Will Doom Us All. medium.
    12 Experts Questioning the Coronavirus Panic, Off-Guardian, 24 Mar 2020.
    10 MORE Experts Criticising the Coronavirus Panic, Off-Guardian, 28 Mar 2020.
    The BlogMire, from (Pastor) Rob Slane; posts well supported by links, and many comments likewise.

    The media is deliberately whipping up panic. E.g. they headline story after story about people dying from coronavirus but if you read the details (where you can find them) you find story is always more complex—they’re elderly, and nearly always with serious underlying health issues too. It’s not at all clear that corona-chan is causing, or even contributing to, their deaths (and some qualified people doubt accuracy of these new tests for a new virus—might be many false-positives). Often """diagnoses""" are not from medical staff but mere guesswork from hysterical family.
    E.g. Mother, 65, with no underlying health problems dies from coronavirus and her NHS worker daughter is desperately ill after they attended funeral where 17 mourners caught the disease (Daily Mail).
    A mother with no underlying health conditions has died from coronavirus after attending a funeral where 17 mourners suspect they caught the disease. …
    But within days her niece Susan Nelson, 65, who had no underlying health conditions, became ill, and died of suspected Covid-19.
    Now 16 further family members all suspect they have the virus after catching it at the funeral—including Susan’s husband, daughter, a niece and a great-uncle. …
    “She died back in February, but we have just had so many people contract the virus that I can only think it was from then. …”

    Not a single medical opinion, no tests, no autopsies, just witterings of relatives (perhaps seeking their 15 minutes). And 65 is not a bad age to reach. As for ‘no underlying health problems’, article pics show she is morbidly obese.
    Is this Nineteen Eighty-Four and thanking BB for raising chocolate ration from 30g to 20? Or just feminist fat-acceptance ‘healthy at any size’ bs?

  3. [3/3] To provide some perspective:
    ONS records 10,645 people having died of all ages from all causes in England & Wales, week ending 20 March; w/e 21 February, 10,841; w/e 17 January, 12,990. Less people died w/e 20 March than every other week this year—wither the great spike of deaths from the Dread Apocalypse Virus?
    In comparison, w/e 23 March 2018, 11,913 people died (E&W). 2018 recorded 76,603 dying just from ‘Diseases of the respiratory system’—daily average of 210. And we coped without turning our country into a prison.

    ‘Virus’ is a scary word—ever had a ‘cold sore’? Aka ‘Herpes simplex virus’, remains with you for life; it is believed most of population has virus. Chickenpox—aka ‘varicella zoster virus’: common childhood sickness, another virus remaining for life. Glandular fever—aka ‘Epstein-Barr virus’, ditto.
    ‘coronavirus’ is actually a family of viruses ranging from common cold to more serious afflictions like SARS and MERS; and while HMG’s ‘High Consequence Infectious Diseases’ page lists both of latter under HCIDs, ‘As of 19 March 2020, COVID-19 is no longer considered to be a high consequence infectious diseases (HCID) in the UK. … more information is available about mortality rates (low overall) …’
    iow, HMG deems COVID-19 less dangerous in GB than SARS or MERS, which we dealt with without driving economy off a cliff and imposing a tyranny that is historically unprecedented and undreamt of in any dystopian fiction (even Winston Smith could leave his flat for a walk as often he wanted—before arrest, anyway).

    We have been had. And contemplating the universal support for the Prison State from every party, from Conservatives to IRA-Sinn Féin, and the similarity of govt. responses across the world; is it simply the mass-hysteria that once produced the Dancing Mania and witch-hunting frenzies but now given greater scope due to mass-media—TV, social media and internet—accessible by all, and boosted by the SJW mindset desperately seeking safety from all possible risk? Or are the NWO-conspiracy types right after all, if only by accident?

    Not even the Black Death warrants this level of oppression: an entire population under house arrest. Road blocks preventing movement. Dog-walkers menaced by police drones, while council drones with loudspeakers harangue people, ordering ‘Stay home! Protect our NHS!’ Police prohibiting selling Easter eggs and other items arbitrarily deemed by them not ‘essential’; entering people’s homes to break up parties. Centuries of hard won liberties shredded.
    What little was left of our eroding community destroyed, as citizens cross the road to avoid each other, and become squalid little Stasi spies snitching on each other.
    Our economy deliberately crashed and burned (seems the debate between Keynes and Friedman has been jettisoned for Pol Pot’s theories).

    If only it was just Britain, we could look on amazed at how Parliament and its minions suddenly spazzed out, going collectively insane; all the Public ‘Servants’ turning into the ‘Masters’ they long hankered to be. But it seems to be the entire world—there seems nowhere to escape to, if one were able (even occupied France only suffered a night curfew). This increasingly feels like the collapse of civilisation—and far faster than Rome did.
    (Despatches from HMP UK)