Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.


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This may be the beginnings of the 1918 Flu epidemic of our time, so what else is there to write about? I’ve lived through two “big events” in my life, for want of a better word. I lived in Berkeley when the Loma Prieta earthquake hit, and 9/11, the “Pearl Harbor” of my life. The first was a local disaster, the second a national disaster. There was stuff during the 60s, the JFK and MLK assassinations, but I was a kid and insulated from it. This could be number three, a global disaster this time. I hope not, but here we are.

At this point, the end of February 2020, the Coronavirus (Covid-19) has spread to two dozen plus countries, some of which don’t have the medical infrastructure to cope with an epidemic. Covid-19 appears to be less lethal than the 1918 global flu pandemic, but an order of magnitude more lethal than the annual flu season. If it becomes a pandemic, millions may well die. For the record, an epidemic is a contagious disease that affects a local region. A pandemic is an infectious disease that spreads worldwide. There have been four pandemics the past century:

(Credit: CDC. Used legally.)

The dividing line between epidemic and pandemic is a bit fuzzy, but at this juncture no one is calling Covid-19 a pandemic, but it sure seems headed that way. The ugly truth is that diseases jump from animals to humans fairly regularly, and diseases can mutate, so sooner or later another pandemic was inevitable. This is why sensible countries prepare for them. China  learned a lot from the SARS epidemic nearly 20 years ago, and their response to this one has been pretty massive. That China still couldn’t contain Covid-19 bodes ill for the world.

In America, Wednesday night Trump held a press conference to talk about Covid-19. It was not reassuring. I mean, he tried, at least he didn’t encourage panic. He basically said Covid-19 may not get here, and that the USA was super prepared for it. He suggested hand washing, never a bad idea. He randomly bragged about questionable achievments, saying his Muslim ban was part of preparations for this. He claimed the Stock Market collapsing was because of the Democratic debate. I’d say he can’t be serious, but I think he is. He pooh poohed the fact that he had cut funds and fired all sorts of public health officials, saying we can just hire good ones back. Which is the equivalent of saying “We don’t need an army, if we need one we’ll just hire a bunch of people.” It doesn’t work that way, dealing with natural disasters is 90% preparation, so bragging about winging it was pretty weird. And then he appointed Vice President Pence as the Coronavirus coordinator, a science denying ideological extremist with a record of making an epidemic worse. Did I mention I was not reassured? So far looks like Trump is going to try and spin and BS his way through this. We’ll see, I wish Trump resounding success in dealing with this crisis.

My current theory is that Trump really does think he’s this great leader and he’s on top of things. The fact that tens of millions of people wildly agree … doesn’t actually make it so. What he is doing is more akin to performance art than leadership. He’s like a pro-wrestler who thinks it’s all real. All well and good if all he has to do is pro wrestling. Wrestling is over, barring a miracle, Covid-19 is going to kill a lot of Americans during the next year. Hundreds of thousands is not out of the question. More Americans died of the flu in October of 1918 than died in all of America’s wars until then. It was a big deal, it might be happening again.

And beyond the virus, global economic disruption is a near certainty. Today (Thursday 27 February 2020) was the biggest one day stock market drop by one measure. Yikes. So, today’s reasonable speculation. Just like 2008, the economy takes a huge dump, especially the economy of the rich. I mean that’s what a dropping stock market means, the rich are losing money. Trump and the GOP will lose the election to some hopey-changey Democrat. And when said Democrat gets in office, just like Obama, they  make it their mission to make sure the rich get all their money back from the taxpayers. They will call his (or her) program ‘qualitative pleasing’ or some such. And when all is said and done the rich in America will be richer than ever, and the rest of us will be scraping by in a gig economy at best. <ducks>

Weird days. Odd writing about an unfolding event that might just kill me. I’ll be able to devote a blog to that. I hope. Have a great weekend everyone, stock up before the hoarders get there.

(Image: The Tower of Babel, painting. Inspired to post after watching Trump’s press conference. Credit: Pieter Bruegel the Elder  (1526/1530–1569))


Written by unitedcats

February 28, 2020 at 9:06 am

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