Death Life

Lessons of a pandemic

In early January the bells started ringing, “Alarum, alarum.”

By the 3rd of January China formally notified the USA of the outbreak. On the same day, South Korea announced enhanced quarantine and screening measures for individuals entering from Wuhan.

Over the next grueling 3 months tens of thousands were infected and thousands died in China, before the epidemic there was brought under a semblance of control.

Today, on the 19th of April, the epidemic in South Korea seems controlled, with fewer than 10 new cases in the 50-million-strong country, despite an outbreak in the Shincheonji religious group that went on to infect thousands (KCDC report). Taiwan has been even more successful.

Meanwhile, the UK is on its way to becoming one of the worst affected country in Europe, and the USA (let’s call it Usania) is doing even worse under its cartoon villain president.

The orange skull of pestilence.
Any resemblance to any contemporary world ‘leader’ is purely coincidental and unintentional.

The first hundred days and change of the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 have thrown up a few moral and practical lessons.

How to be a Good Man

Very simple. Look at the cartoon villain president of Usania. Do not be like him. Do not behave like him. You will be a good man.

How to be a Poor Deluded Fool

Keep supporting the cartoon villain president of Usania. Keep pretending that he is smart and thoughtful.

How to be an Economic Murderer

Pretend that money is a real thing that actually exists, rather than a mental tool humans invented to manage social interactions. Pretend that the economy is a real thing, rather than an abstract concept. Pretend that GDP is a real thing, rather than an abstract yardstick for measuring market value (another abstract thing). Worship the economy and the GDP and sacrifice human lives to it.

How to be a Negligent Murderer

Pretend you can’t get sick. Pretend that you can’t infect anyone else. Pretend that a virus cares about your opinions. Then attend an astroturf protest against measures to save lives, all the while egged on by the cartoon villain regime leader of Usania.

How To Write A Realistic Story

Write a realistic story. Look at recent history. Make the story an exaggerated cartoon with grotesque, unbelievable characters. Look at recent history again. Make the characters more crass and stupid.

How to Pretend You’re Doing a Good Job

Say you’re doing a good job. Blame everybody else. Blame the messenger. Demand an investigation into your neighbor. Repeat you’re doing such a good job. A huge job. The biggest job.

How to do a Good Job

Work with other people. Share knowledge. Be kind. Be smart. Build a community. Invest in others. Respect others. Respect science. Respect expertise. Be reasonable. Admit failures and learn. Trial and error.

How to Infect a Cat With Coronavirus

Sneeze in its face.

How to Love and Save Your Fellow Humans

Respect their two-metre personal space. Don’t sneeze on them. Wear a face mask. Don’t shake hands. Do grocery shopping for them if they’re sick. Ask them if they need masks or any other help.

How Guns Stop Viruses

They don’t.

How Community Collapses in the Face of a Crisis

Usually it doesn’t. People pull together and work for the common good. Unless there isn’t really a community there after all. Then a crisis strips the cracks bare for all the world to see, if it only looks.

How Resilient the Tourism Industry Is

Not very.

How to make a Government Look Decent

Don’t be utterly incompetent. Don’t march under the banner of the rat’s anus. Do a little bit better than other governments. Don’t sacrifice the elderly to make your numbers look better. The map is not the territory.

How to Learn that 2 + 2 = 5

Watch Fox News. Teaching the world that 21st century propaganda is much like 20th century propaganda.

I’ve read pieces that suggest that Usania can still come out of this pandemic looking good, if just its cartoon villain president comes to his senses and begins to act presidential.

I think that’s unlikely.

The sound of anglophone presidentes and primo ministeros calling for investigations of China and sterner measures sound like desperate attempts at distraction. They’re working on distraction from their failings, instead of focusing on saving their citizens. They’re looking for scapegoats instead of accepting that with power comes responsibility.

Certainly, the propaganda will sway many.

But in the agora of the world, the star of countries who respond well to the coronavirus pandemic nationally and internationally will rise. And the star of those who fail nationally and act selfishly internationally will fall.

And for now, there’s one country that looks like its digging a big hole for itself. The biggest hole. Bigger than any other hole. The best hole. A hole in one. And the bigger that hole gets, the harder it’ll be to get out. And that hole’s already mighty big.

Which is a real shame, because my Chinese language skills are non-existent and I really like writing in English.

And now, some completely unrelated music. Because music is music.