Friday, April 24, 2020

Stopping the Virus and Halting the Descent to the New Dark Ages

a jumping off point
  •    Much has happened since the now well traveled February post, Descent Into The Dark Ages. (read it here) The acceleration of Covid-19 raised the stakes, underscored the case we made made and deepened the divide. It has now prompted a question humans may lack the capacity to answer.
  •     The 50th Earth Day passed, with cleaner air and a more resplendent Mother Nature than in decades, though she is giving evidence of a change of life and that too carry's questions and mortal consequence.
Lupine north of Cambria, Ca

 human frailty
   One of the planet's majestic locations has been off limits as we sequester to battle. 
    Here we share from our collection and though it is not being there, one draws solace, and empowerment from simply seeing what reigns at Yosemite in the High Sierra.
     So, we shall frame this conversation with images of the towering strength of nature. Our thoughts, like the human behavior we ponder, may borrow consequence or they may betray an incipient and temporal value especially when viewed between these frames and measured in such an exalted and dignified environment.  

we need data
   We do not know enough about the Covid-19 virus, or the why and how it attacks.
    We need data and an accelerated learning curve and with all dispatch and capacity! People at work on this say we need profiles to understand why it works differently on people. 
    The more we know, the more testing then becomes a piece of a targeted response. The global shutdown was the emergency panic button, because civil authorities, politicians and governments had not been paying attention. Scientists, journalists, authors, intelligence analysts and strategic thinkers warned us, and they were ignored. 
    There is a lot about this virus that is curious. It has made some think it could be an engineered virus or one that rapidly mutates. We just don't know. We need to learn about it. We urgently need to know how each of us, with our own specific biology, will react

and so what is the value of human life?
     In midst of this 21st Century pandemic, we begin to take measure. We compare when and how nations and their leadership reacted. And we are pushed to walk along the razor's edge of putting a relative value on life.
     How quickly do we "reopen" a devastated global economy? Fear of illness couples with fear of financial ruin for millions upon millions. Something has to happen and here again we measure how nations have responded. Who gets help, how quickly, efficiently, and in what proportion?
     This debate summons all of us to factor what is it worth? How quickly should we try to return to normal? It opens a debate about numbers. If the government provided more financial aid to everyday citizens, and small businesses, giving them more of a pad, could that delay the return to closer contact that in turn prompt's another outbreak? 
       We debate how much can the government afford? Is a payout now a way to avoid a larger economic crash? We are correct to ask why are huge and endowed institutions getting government funding? Why are large corporations, and successful businesses getting a bail out? Should those that avoid paying federal taxes get help? Should the Trump family business get aid?
       Dredged up is the old conundrum; Why do Republicans think first of business, and Democrats think first of individuals? 
        I wonder why and how have we turned human life into such a material and commercial pursuit?

    the divides
    There is no kind way to say this. Millions of Americans are unwise. They are poorly educated, bereft of a knowledge of history, uninterested in detail, have limited understanding of the complexity and nuance of government, get their "news" from dubious sources, often social media, were not schooled in critical reasoning, think of life as a kind of on going Super Bowl, live to be consumers, are identified as low information and yes, they can vote. 
     The most recent National Report Card found that only 15% of American 8th grade students had a "reasonable knowledge of US History." Education Secretary DeVos said "students can't discuss the significance of the Bill of Rights or point out a location on a map." We should be frightened by this. It is part of a multi year trend. So, perhaps I should say, millions of Americans are stupid.
a brewing storm
     So with that and this administration as a given, now factor in the push from business and the very real need to address the economic vitality of millions. In this mix, we frail,  imperfect and not so well informed bipeds undertake a calculus; what is an "acceptable" casualty rate to again turn on the engines of capitalism?
     The easier part of that, is how and when to pay for it. How much should government help? How hard should we press corporate, and some times untaxed wealth, to help make people whole. Those corporate empires need people to buy their goods or work for them. People come first. 
      The more dire questions is, what values most, life or the economy? I don't think humanity is up to that now, if ever?
     Military leaders have borne this awful math through history. Now that calculus jumps into the human drama in the disguise of what's good for business. Economic dislocation can prompt huge casualties of its own, and bring a human suffering and misery, so the mechanics of our governments and business sectors have to do something. But honestly, can we trust this government to make that decision? Can we trust the man who spends two hours an evening in some kind of insane performance to pull the trigger? He certainly is not up to it.
       Unprotected people protesting for opening the states, motivated by a tweet are part of an idiot storm. 
      A President, fit for the job, qualified and with the character of leadership would have made sure we, and the world, were better prepared. Doubt that? Consider the US response to all previous dangerous outbreaks.
       I worry that important issues, and aberrations that need "full on focus," may get kicked down the road, like so many other critical matters lost in the idiot storm since 2016.
     So, as we have sequestered, the earth is healing. And we've found new ways to live. We are learning lessons of freedom, restrictions and how to moderate the difference.     
     I've missed the human contact, and seek it, but not until we know more.

celebrating spring
Lana's garden, Cambria

I told my granddaughter this old Queen Anne's Lace is now a sparkler

Lana's Iris's 
My English grandmother and great aunts called them "flags."

Cheers to Hemingway! 
He demonstrates a good way to self isolate.

    Stay well. Take care of each other.

    See you down the trail. 


  1. I've walked Anze so much, he turns away when I get his leash. One of these days I'm going to attempt the "strenuous" trail up the side of Mt. Conjeo, the view should be great. All of that and I am so tired of Donald J. Trump's bullshit.

  2. You are posing some relevant questions. . . But are you confidant you have the answers? How much should be paid to maintain or save one life? Who should get the transplant kidney? what price? Who should get the ventilator. . . Or is that a moot point?

  3. Although it wasn't my specialty, I do know a little bit about virology, and infectious diseases. The corvid is not a new virus, it's a new strain. We've seen it's like before, and have not developed a vaccine for any of them. It's far different than the 'normal' influenza strain, and not easily classified, identifed, or guarded against. I think we've opened pandora's box, and we will not like the contents. And they won't be over this summer. Far from it. I don't have a solution. Changing government leaders will help, but virus does not care about leaders. It can be diminished, and putting good minds toward a possible 'cure' or other treatmens will have to do. But we have to choose to do that. It's called vote.

  4. Cheers to the "art" of Mother Nature-- Be well dear friends!! peacexo

  5. Hemingway is riding out the idiot storm. I have my bluebirds just a week away from finishing up with their first brood. The garden is beautiful.

    Don't know if it's the Lysol I injected last night but need to cut this short. Give me liberty and give me death.

  6. Really nailed it here. Government has evolved, over time, into an entity that does not serve The People, but acts as a siphon of wealth and resources into the coffers of those who pay to put them in position. With relatively few exceptions. This does not serve society well on any count. Most especially in a crisis, when disaster capitalism reins supreme, enabled by a lack of protection for the People and large, regular doses of confusion and misinformation from where we should be receiving the opposite. It is my opinion that we should never have conceived of running this country as if it were a "for profit" business and instead approached it like the FAMILY it needs to be.

  7. This is a response from MM Mcguire who encountered technical issues and emailed.

    Unfortunately, a large segment of the population is viewed as “expendable” by the powers that be. Look at the meat processing factories—lots of black and brown people doing a job no one else will take and being offered no protection or means of social distancing. NO accommodation made to adjust to the new situation we are in. And no factories closed until so many workers were infected that they couldn’t operate. No matter, there’s plenty more of those people to exploit, use up, and throw away. And now this notion is being extended into hospitals and other areas where nurses, doctors, and other first responders are also expendable. Why else even contemplate the possibility of a second wave of infection just to get people back to work. The only reason this is getting any press or attention is because NOW people are afraid of a pork chop shortage.

    And, one can’t expect people who can’t find the U.S. on a world map to have ever read any great thinkers, philosophers, etc. (John Stuart Mill on Liberty) who have investigated social relations and obligations. They don’t understand the difference between “freedom” and “license”. They wave the constitution around to justify their actions but have never read a word of it, nor would they understand it if they did. Someone recently said, “The Constitution, it’s like a foreign language.” Oh, yeah, it was Donald J. Dumbpster. Remember when we had a president who was a constitutional scholar?

  8. What is your agenda in phrasing this as life vs business? This is life vs life.

  9. Hello Tom:

    The photos are quite beautiful. The intensity of the light is especially appealing for a fellow (me) who lives in a perpetually cloudy location.

    In regards to the Covid-19 situation, I agree with virtually everything you have written here and in the last several essays that I recall. The one thing that keeps coming back into my mind is this notion:

    With everyone worldwide, basically doing the same sorts of things we are in the US, to me it seems so wrong the presumption/talk of the "total world collapse" economically. I am not saying this to be a doubter... I am nearly 100% certain that most of us (the regular folks) will pay, and will pay dearly for this 4+ month sojourn.... but to my manner of thinking it *really* should be situation where there is no net loss or gain because everyone is in the same basic economic situation. But, instead of everyone working to keep things an even keel so that when it is safe to do so, everyone can move back into their prior life.... what is going to happen is that some folks will work like hell to take advantage of this situation so that THEY can make money off of the back of the "regular folks". I mean.... for instance, I am confident that most folks will be losing HUGE amounts of their retirement funds and this loss will be disproportionately larger than the real effect of a loss of 4+ months of putting money into retirement. But, at the same time, I fully suspect sometime in the future (perhaps 2, or 3 years from now) the stock market will be back to its peak or near peak again.... but... folks retirement incomes will NOT have returned to their pre-Covid-19 levels.... and probably will not do so for 20 years.... simply because of the folks who (instead of working towards the common good) will instead work to game the system off the backs of the "regular folk".

    In my opinion, with this occurring worldwide, it SHOULD be a "zero-sum game" sort of situation where everyone remains where they were before the pandemic. But, that will NEVER be due to greed.

    I really like your cat, Hemingway!!!! Hemingway is a favorite author of mine, and I have something akin to close to 50 or so biographies about his life as well. Since I cannot see your cat's toes... I have to ask..... might he be a polydactyl cat (extra toes)? Hemingway had many of the semi-feral cats he had in Key West that were polydactyl and some folks refer to these felines with a lot of extra toes as "Hemingway Cats".


    1. I agree with the logic of your thoughts and wish that indeed it would be a zero sum game. Some nations have responded in ways to keep things on an even keel. You know the story in the US and I fear that a sense of obligation will soon evaporate--Republican's control the Senate.

      Indeed Hemingway is a polydactyl and carries extra toes on all four pads. Hemingway is also a favorite author here.