I like to take photos sometimes, documenting the city : subjective lens
I like to take photos sometimes, documenting the city : subjective lens
The past couple days, i’ve been reading more and more about the emergence of Zutors. That rich parents would do anything for their kids education, and pay a private tutors basically to video Zoom with their kids, at a price tag ranging from $20 to $65 per hour.
Yes! This is a great idea! Genius the person who came up with this strategy (that’s sort of what this brilliant idea for universities and high school was asking for) a strategy, hence business plan, marketing, social media platform etc.
So you mean that someone is totally profiting off this pandemic?
But more importantly, meaning that only the rich will be able to afford education here, and more than half the kids in this country will not be able to get that?
That’s not so right, wait, no I’m sorry that’s totally fucked up.
Can’t you tell me that schools aren’t able to be funded by the government to hire such tutors (“Zutors”) to do exactly that job for EVERY KID? Be it school teachers with added new hires if needed (create jobs hello!), allocating X amount of hours a day to each kid individually? Or maybe 2 at the time? Couldn’t the schools organize that with the help and a budget from the government? If we were all working together alas. And they, in charge, were all working on that (I don’t mean the schools who are trying to figure this out with no help) instead of pointing fingers at boogymen trying to divide rather than unite. So no, free market reigns. It really shouldn’t when it comes to education.
Before we do something
Witnessing the destruction of our country by a sick man
The alarms are ringing
This is the country we live in
The anger is mounting
Feeling powerless, disposable and manipulated.
I’m beyond enraged. And I still have a job, can put food on the table and am not black. So I can only imagine.
I’m so revolted right now, this might just be how revolutions creeps in.
Lockdown is a broad term, that has been used in most countries by now, yet all to some different degrees.
It entails several concepts.
Closing of borders
Closing all non essential business (what is essential varies from countries to countries)
Shelter in place (enforced or not, more or less restrictions on ability to venture outside of the space of confinement)
Limit or ban of outdoors activities
It is evident that these lockdowns were emergency mesures of last resort, that were implemented for lack of a better plan, and that a chain reaction was triggered between countries. it is probably fair to assume that all countries looked towards one another, mimicking, following what the previous one had done, and so on until it reached the whole world.
It all started with China ordering the first lockdown back in January. Then (i’ll skip other Asian nations) Italy was hit with the first European wave of the virus and ordered its country on lockdown in March. That was a shock to all. As much as the world had pointed fingers to the usual boogyman communist country that China is, criticizing their response (they did act too late) now we had a western country that pulled on the brakes to a full stop on its economy as well as locking their resident in their homes from one day to the next. Wild. France, Germany, Spain followed. America, reluctantly, but not so much, when you come to think of it, took the same turn. Too late unfortunately.
At that time, I personally felt proud of living in a world and a country who valued our lives the most, even if it was only 1% of us they were trying to save, over the economy. They were willing to put everything we filled our lives with every day, work, activities, school, aside from essential businesses, the economy to die basically, just to save a small amount of us. A part of me couldn’t believe it. In the horror of it all, I also thought maybe I was dreaming we actually weren’t controlled by the markets and corporations in the end, we humans were above all on the priority list. Wow perhaps I would wake up from this dream in the morning, Covid being just a bad dream, but now I had felt the connective-ness of our humanity, this huge magma of will as I called it back then in March, and despite the horror and looming despair from the economy about to collapse, it was nevertheless a beautiful thing. A sign that we as a specie, still knew what we had to do to ensure our evolution on this planet. And we were all willing to do it together. And some good would come out of it, environmentally, socially, we would all have some time to reflect on this situation to make the best of it on the other side. Learning, growing, taking care of each other, helping one another, in the end thats all that really matters. We would make it through, because we always do. As a specie.
In NYC things got rough quickly, logically and I’m pretty sure that everyone of us who had no choice than to be here will remember these times vividly. From the incessant ambulances wailing to the death toll mounting exponentially everyday, as much as the eerie emptiness of the city, the birds singing and our collective fate, locked in for some of us, braving the deserted city subway and streets for essential workers. The unusual sight of people wearing masks or whatever they could find to cover their face everywhere, gloves, to the odd dances we were doing while crossing other people on the street to avoid coming too close to one another.
New yorkers, we did great. Being disciplined without having the need for authority to enforce the lockdown. 99% of the people were doing it on their own. Perhaps some were out in the streets way more then they should of per recommendations. But can’t really blame them living in super small spaces, most of the time with roommates or families, people had to go for walks, runs, bike rides. But they all did it safely with masks on, and as we are finding out now, outdoors is actually the place to be. I recall thinking that for me it wasn’t too hard to stay inside all day, even in my windowless room, I had to work anyways, so I would give up my “spot” roaming the city streets, to someone who needed it more. Because they weren’t comfortable with being alone, or lived in tight space, just lost their job and were aimless, or whatever. To me, it was a collective effort, and if we all gave it as much as we could individually, and that threshold was different for everyone, it would have its way of balancing itself to nature and save the most people possible. Our lockdown was supposed to end on June 8th, but on May 30th, the protests started. There too, new yorkers did so with much consideration for the plague that we were dealt, all wearing masks and trying to keep distance in between them despite the rage.
Meanwhile on the other side of the country, where people also had been ordered to shelter in place and non essential business closed for a month or so under federal guidelines, not much of Covid was showing up. So they got impatient. And at the end of April, they blew it. Trump gave them his benediction to reopen businesses and do whatever they pleased. The rest is history.
That set up a chain reaction of influence throughout the world as well, where people started to question the lockdowns and mask wearing recommendations. And it went both ways. There were also the influence sphere of countries like Sweden or the UK and for a moment the Netherlands, who went for the herd immunity model, saying we are kind of not going to try to save this 1% of the population, because we believe it is more “ethical” to keep the businesses open in order to not crash the economy, not create unemployment and so on. And just like the Black Lives Matter and police brutality protests spread across the globe so rapidly later on too, around mid May, all but NYS and a couple more states buisnesses were re-opened as well as waves of other governments preemptively ending their lockdown under the pressure of their constituants.
The problem of this globalized herd mentality influence (follow each other) is that every situation in cities, countries, were different. At a different stage of the virus evolution. And so if Oregon which had maybe 200 cases and 2 fatalities opened up again, it wasn’t so much of an issue as it was in places where the infection was on the rise. We are seeing the full effect of this now, where the messages are so mixed up in the global dissonant noise, especially in the US (but in other places to a lesser degree too) it is the ultimate chaos.
In NYC so far, we’ve tame the thing. Probably not forever but for a bit. We worked hard at it. The collective “trauma” is real. I mean in all respect for the medical workers risking their lives everyday, overworked, drained, forced to distance from their families, and the people who actually got infected, hospitalized fighting for life, the rest of us were nevertheless all witness to this human tragedy unfolding, helpless and also scared, confused, newly unemployed, trying to grasp what was happening in this world.
So personally, when i hear or read about people who pretend it doesn’t exist, I get a bit angry.
Not at them necessarily, but at the government for failing to lead by exemple, for sending mixed messages, flip flopping, reverting response types. When the only way to successfully “control masses”, is to be consistent. Just like with babies. Not only does it appease them, but it also instigates trust. That is something unfortunately right now people are feeling, that they cannot trust governments in this country.
Likewise for the people who won’t wear a mask. Hard to say when you encounter someone on the street. I’m not one to judge, maybe that person has had the virus already and recovered? Therefore they don’t need to wear a mask? I want to trust that they are doing the responsible thing. But especially when an older lady walks by me without a mask on, i’m like hmmmm… I mean lady, come on, i’m wearing mine mainly to protect you! So what up? Why you not wearing one?
So now we are facing the reopening phase 3 tomorrow.
The problem we are seing with countries that have already reopened, and even those who had completely tamed the thing, is that the virus creeps back in. Or never entirely left, but as much as it is more containable on islands such as New Zealand or Cuba, here, there are no borders to states. They’ve required people from certain states to quarantine when arriving to NYC, but it isn’t going to be enforced.
And already, with this influence behavior chain of reaction, that can probably be attributed to social media (influencers anyone?) people in NYC right now, are not really wearing masks anymore. Maybe only 50% are. Especially in Brooklyn. Its insane how quickly people can adopt the herd mentality as to following each other off the cliff. Surely not wearing them at the packed outdoor bars and restaurants. It is impossible to drink or eat with a mask on. Oh well, everyone says, we’ll see! The sun is out, tomorrow is another day.
And luckily here in NYC, it looks like the virus isn’t showing its face too much these days. Maybe it is, we don’t know for sure that it isn’t silently ramping up, but we may have earned a little break. What I really cannot wrap my head around though, is that we just don’t know much if anything about the long term consequences of this virus on humans. I mean what if asymptomatic or mild cases lead to a slow but steady weakening of our immune system by attacking it over the years? They are already finding out that it potentially attacks the brain. Who knows.
Surely only 5 months in, previous cases are monitored but to monitor something, you need to know what you are looking for. So in this horrible scenario (and I’m sorry to even come up with it but this is the downside of creativity) all these people who followed each other off the cliff, basically as they would catch a benign flu in the future would start dying from it, one after the next. They didn’t fall to their death off the cliff because they were actually supermen and women and went on to flying away instead, but they just caught a simple flu afterwards, and died from it, their body unable to fight the smallest infection. Its horrible and wish I could erase this thought and its seed.
But my point being that the kids recklessly trying to catch it because they think it won’t affect them much, need to be reigned in as to understand that actions have long term consequences. And for all those who just mindlessly follow, they need to think for themselves. Here again, we are betting that the virus is not anything of the sort, because if so, we would all need to just freeze in place. But there is a reason why since the dawn of ages, we try to AVOID getting diseases and viruses rather than trying to catch them on purpose. There is enough chances already of us getting it without trying hard at it.
So a bit of common sense would be helpful here again in this global discourse around the virus. And measure the consequences of assuming that we all ought to – take the risk of allowing for more infections faster because the majority seems like mild cases so far. The herd immunity school of thought. Or, as other health experts have been recommending, tip the balance the other way on the precaution scale, to try preventing as many infections as possible. Because we just don’t know YET. We will know more as time passes. Impatience, again.
Playing Russian roulette with life and death at the scale of a nation and the world, is a perplexing gamble. This isn’t the stock market or a business we are dealing with. Nor is it a scientific experiment. And I would question the psyche and moral compass of any man or woman who would lead us down that path, based on obvious nearsighted intentions or speculations on its outcome. One man’s narcissism and impatience could be a dangerous mix in governing a nation and in science. Hard to resist the compulsive need and thrill to play God amidst a pandemic.
The virus is real. The pandemic as well. But I’ll look at it as an allegory in a broader sense.
The pandemic, in general regardless of this one specifically, is nature telling us to look in the mirror. Asking us, do you still know how to survive? Can you survive amongst the modern society you’ve created and can it fonction, sustain you as a specie?
Clearly the answer is no. We’ve had to shut it down. Shut down society, shut down the economy, keep each other at a distance. Shut down our borders. For lack of a better plan. In earlier writings I had hinted at the idea that fighting a pandemic in 2020 was way harder then in 1918 or in the 13th century. We may have a medical advantage and more knowledge but they had no economy to save nor social distancing to do. They still had to fight the virus and survive. Close contact with family just like today is unavoidable, but they didn’t have huge circles of friends, nor did they work in offices, have to get into elevators nor live in buildings and high-rises. There was no mass transit, no hair salon. Not as many kids went to school, even less to universities. They didn’t work in or go to restaurants, bars, none of these things that we had to give up, and that some are desperately attempting to keep open, none of these things were creating resistance to fight the virus in previous pandemics. Sure we can wear masks for the time being and do all these things. But when looking through the lens of the allegory, the pandemic is saying these aren’t compatible. This doesn’t work. This system, made of way too many individuals owning non essential businesses, mass schooling, mass socialisation, the way all this functions is crippling us. But more importantly, in 1918 or the 13th century, there was barely any mobility compared to today. We’ve taken it to the extreme with mass traveling. And that, is the biggest flaw in our society, when looking through the lens of the pandemic.
In all previous pandemics, when the virus was contained and died in a village, or town or country, it could come back once, twice, maybe more. But not incessantly. And unfortunately in our times, extreme mobility will make it really hard to end the brushfire from spreading. We will be keeping the virus alive as long as it can hitchhike from one person to the next, one town to the next, country to the next and so on, across oceans back and forth. Incessantly. By millions of passengers, or even millions of people crossing from state to state every day. We will be keeping it alive until we reach herd immunity. At 70%, it means that between 1 out of 2 person, and 1 out of 1 (yes that’s almost everyone) will have to have been infected. So you know, when babies are born, that adds one more person to the total amount of people that needs to get it. Exponential. Its going to take a while…
Its safe to say that extreme mobility is the biggest problem of our society, when looking through this lens to assess what works and what goes against nature. Fighting a virus as a specie, every century or so, is nature’s test on humanity.
I live in NYC. There isn’t much of nature here, cities are about as bad as it gets in times of a pandemic.
I can’t tell you how a part of me wants to just hit the road, be it upstate for an escape or visit my family in Oregon. Whom I haven’t seen in more than a year.
But, traveling goes against the laws of the pandemic. Giving my body to the virus to potentially hitchhike its way up to peaceful Oregon. Or upstate.
And so you would ask, why would Nature be so heartless to keep me from seeing my family?
Or some would selfishly perhaps say, how dare you nature, screw you, family is the most important thing.
It all comes down to the choices we make.
As I said, I didn’t see my family for more than a year. If it wasn’t for the pandemic, I probably wouldn’t eagerly be thinking of seeing them. And if so, because of course I do from time to time, it would only be for a short amount of time, a week maybe. How hypocritical is it to make a choice to live thousands of miles away, in normal times, see each other a couple days in a year and think that now, in the time of a pandemic, it would be the most important thing to do, that I really need to see them for a couple days. No it is not. I don’t need to. I want to, it would be nice, but I don’t need to. We do have FaceTime and ways to connect the distance nowadays. Thankfully. Must I say, that a century ago, I probably wouldn’t live that far away from family.
And so the question that Nature is asking of me, regardless of her questioning extreme global mobility, is if that choice many of us make, moving away from our families is worth the price to pay. For our planet.
I made the choice to not see my nieces grow up day after day, or to have the ability to hang out with my sister and be part of each other’s life. Or she made it. Regardless we both moved away from our parent’s home. Neither of us thinking that perhaps one day, a pandemic would hit. Well today is the day. And so, I must answer that question and if answering no, being away from them isn’t worth the price to pay, then I should pack up that Moving van and hit the road.. For good. Not just for a couple days and come back.
Again, in 1818 or the 13th century, if one made that choice to move somewhere, it was likely forever. So a question to ponder deeply. Not to take on a whim.
So I sit back a bit, in this time of a pandemic which again, Nature is saying, sit in stillness rather than business, all we have is time, take it to reflect on what is essential. The answer will arise out of stillness, a ripple in the water, there is no rush, there is no urgency to move around incessantly. Once you get beyond the trepidations of the child within, who just wants something right away because thats what our generations are used to, instant gratification. We are spoiled. Impatience is one of our growing flaw as a specie, fed by binges on never ending feeds, fueled by infinite choices of information stream, activities, places, people and products.
And one could argue, but all these choices we have today, isn’t it a good thing? Part of the evolution? Rather than not having the choice? Like isn’t it awesome to be able to choose between 20 brands of toilet paper at the supermarket when facing that wall of choices and prices? I personally feel very overwhelmed in the toilet paper aisle. And many other aisles. Its like, no please, I don’t want to spend 10 minutes deciding what is the best and cheapest brand, at the same time, I don’t want to overpay for such basic essential products and it be so critical to require 10 minutes of our lives to ponder.
Well here is where the laws of the pandemic comes in.
In some instances, having a lot of choices can play well by the law, and in others it doesn’t.
And by the way, toilet paper is something that didn’t sit well with the laws of the pandemic quite obviously. In the whole world (or at least first world problems).
So it is our balance. Nature. Nature be the judge of what goes on and what changes. And how these thing changes are ruled by a set of laws.
The laws of the pandemic, obey the laws of nature
The first law to obey, is the protection of our environment.
The protection of our planet, of this Earth, to sustain it rather than destroy it. Its like the fondation of everything that is about to be built upon. Nature acts as the ultimate Checks and Balances. We filter the problem we are dealing with through this question, how can we fix it so that the solution goes with Nature rather than against it, so that the solution protects our environment rather than destroys it. And suddenly, we have way less choices as to which solutions to implement. And that it a good thing. Because we really only need to do one thing at the base of it all, is to preserve our planet.
The second law governs social protection.
The protection of our social fabric. We can all agree that we don’t want to live in a world that would completely isolate one from another, be it living with gowns masks and gloves or within an individual plastic bubble à la Flamming Lips (however could that could be for parties) or as we had little choice but to implement for lack of a better plan, locked in our homes for months, years or half a century to come. However good that would be for the planet and completely keep in check all the other laws of the pandemic, that would not be good for humanity. It remains a question for some, living in a virtual world vs the real world, continue to procreate using the tinder tool to match each other up, I think there is a black mirror episode relating to that scenario. FaceTime, Augmented Reality, travel in a virtual world, exercise from home, work from home, Social Media, Drones, Robots, all these tools could potentially allow us to remained sheltered in place indefinitely and still be able to communicate, connecting the world, even manufacturing and food production to some extend without moving. There would still be a lot to iron out in the next 50 years for such a lifestyle but it is forceable.
However, and that is the point of the balance scale for now as a specie and society, I think the majority of us would rather continue to have physical contact with more people than just our immediate family.
Because thats what it comes down to. Physical contact is different from socializing. Socializing can be done online. We’ve been doing that for probably 20 years by now, from the dawn of the internet to today’s social media, the world is socially connected and the generation of kids born around 2000, for the most part, from the developing world to the developed world (3rd to 1st I can’t remember what is politically correct to say here) we are almost all used to socializing online now.
The third law is economic sustainability. And I’ll talk about that later.
Typologies of spaces and social distancing
Time, silence and space are of the essence.
We are finding out that the great outdoors is the place to be. Not 100% safe without social distancing nor masks but it makes sense that the wild open space is on the opposite spectrum of the small, confined space of the elevator or small indoor space where air is trapped and cannot circulate.
What is nature trying to tell us?
Let’s go back live in the woods! Not quite, but maybe that we have overdone it in terms of relying too much on indoor space and the use of artificial air. A/C is also wasteful energy, so is electric heat and those goes against the rule of Nature, the first law of the pandemic.
Take the School equation problem for exemple. Let’s put this problem through the first law of the pandemic, that all solution must be beneficial for our planet. Or at least not destroy it.
Despite School being good for kids socializing skills – and this could be argued, not all kids strive in the physical school system – but the majority definitely seem to prefer this option. Parents aren’t only looking for day care to supervise their kids as they must work away too, they and teachers truly seem to think that school is good for the developmental behavior of humans. We will evaluate the solution through rule #2 and #3 later but for now let’s focus on rule #1.
School is indeed a major puzzle to solve. Not only does it takes place indoors, gathering hundreds if not thousands of kids or young adults at times and everyday, social distancing is difficult to implement in such setting, it mixes different age groups, involves people staying in an more or less large enclosed space, with sometimes windowless rooms like amphitheaters, for long amount of time. Everyday for many hours. The perfect storm. Through the lens of the pandemic. And it involves a lot of commuting, which not only pose a problem regarding people more or less obligated to rely on mass transit, not a fine place to be either in times of a pandemic, but the whole notion of commute, unless by foot bicycle or sail boat, is detrimental to the environment. And in our space typology chart, aside from countries that don’t rely on artificial air, at least in our country, also checks in the wasteful energy box. Back in 1918 pandemic, they didn’t have such sets of resistance, yet still resorted to closing schools. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t have internet yet. Nor the capacity to organise at a large scale, as we have.
But for sure in 1918, the fewer schooled children staying at home vs going to school, even if they still would have to forgo education a while (as we are lucky to have the online option at least) it wasn’t such a problem as mothers at that time mostly stayed home doing domestic work. I’m certainly not implying that we should revert to that and mothers shouldn’t work. But that configuration suited nature better.
And in that regard, if for the time being we shall flow with life as we know it, and physical school must remain for some, then I’ve outlined a possible solution on July 2nd. It would involve the government or companies paying one parent who would prefer that solution, 70% of their salary in order to stay home and home school their kids instead of working.
That would allow for the remaining who must be physically in school like essential workers kids and those who’s 2 parents want to or need to remain working, to easily spread across space and time, Monday through Friday but in very small classes, maybe even give the possibility to conduct some classes in parks or public spaces, therefore taking a lot of the pressure off the set of resistances that the school equation problem poses. And I can already hear the collective roaring that it is not financially viable. I can’t be sure, but it would be worth to do the maths. To balance the cost of implementing a one for all solution with all that it entails, from the starting headache point and it’s financial cost, more risk, insurances, more staff and teachers, more cleaning, more everything, weighted against the cost of paying all these parents a good chunk of their salary. Again, we are looking at a place like NYC. In a small town, classes may be less difficult to reduce in size, to space out, or to conduct outdoors.
Let Nature organically organize the chaos. People’s needs will be met naturally if we don’t force it and let it happen.
In terms of using public space to conduct classes, it seems like taking kids on daily walks through the city can be highly beneficial, combining physical activity with learning, instead of sitting still in a classroom. Or sit in a park, on a plaza like the greek forums, why not be creative with the solutions? How worse can it be for everyone than locked in a classroom sitting in stagnant air?
That could also create more space for other students for class to take place in that room if they must while another class is out and about.
Another point to note about silence, one of the 3 essence. It would be wise to discourage students talking during indoor class, leaving the teacher to more or less lecture. However encourage open discussions through walking or sitting outdoor classes.
And as the national recommendations are already outlining, no forced air, opening windows and doors to maximize fresh air intake and flow.
So this outline would obey both rules #1 and #2. If a natural repartition between the home schooled / distant learning student and those who take place on site was to lower the overall commute load on the city, it would be ideal. If we took the case of a Manhattan school for exemple, lets say that those who live the furthest away, perhaps in more suburban houses like Queens or Brooklyn with more indoor and outdoor space were to naturally opt for the home school option, this would allow for the closer students to commute by bike rather than mass transit, further reducing the commuting weight on the city. That point of balance would indicate that this solution is in perfect adéquation with Nature. For rule #3 here, doesn’t necessarily apply. But it will make sense when I explain it later.
There are many more problematic space typologies that we are trying to deal with, which outcome will depend more on all 3 rules.
Typology of spaces and how they rank in terms of the pandemic.
From safest to worse. All situation assumes that wearing a mask is mandatory except in (1).
1. Outdoors + Maximum Social Distance (Zero Density). Like being alone on a beach or in a park, obviously. Hike in nature etc… 100% SAFE
2. Your own room/apt/house alone
3. Outdoors + Social Distancing + Movement (like people walking, reduces the time spent at the same location where air could stagnate) + Silence. Like the silent marching protests
4. Outdoors + Social Distancing + Stagnant (like people sitting). An outdoor concert with seated audience spaced apart. Or a reasonably crowded beach.
5. Outdoors + No Social Distancing + Movement. Like a farmers market
6. Outdoors + No Social Distancing + Stagnant
7. Indoor House / Apartment + Social Distancing + Natural Air
8. Indoor Large Grocery Store / Hall type of space + Social Distancing + Movement
Could operate when infection is under control but non essential. If people refrain from talking, shouting, singing, they could be relatively safe
Church (Indoor + Social Distancing + Stagnant + Masks)
Gym * (Indoor + Social Distancing + Movement + Masks compromised when drinking water).
Restaurant / bar outdoor terrace seating with social distancing (Mask not possible when eating or drinking + Outdoor + social distancing + stagnant)
Not so safe but essential
Train / Bus / Subway / Short Flight (Indoor + Social Distancing Difficult + Stagnant + Masks)
Schools (indoor + Social Distancing Difficult + Stagnant + Masks Difficult for little kids)
Prison Jail (indoor + Social Distancing Difficult + Stagnant + Masks)
Playground (Outdoor + Social Distancing Difficult + Movement + Masks)
Definitely not safe but essential
Elevator (Indoor tight space + Compromised Social Distancing + Stagnant + Masks)
Hospital (Indoor + Stagnant + High Concentration level of the virus + Masks not possible when eating or drinking)
Long plane flight (Indoor tight space + Compromised Social Distancing + Stagnant + Masks not possible when eating or drinking )
Nursing Home (Indoor + Social Distancing + Stagnant + Population at risk + Masks not possible when eating or drinking)
Dwelling with several family members (Indoor + Compromised Social Distancing + Stagnant + No masks)
Risk of transmission too high, shouldn’t operate because unsafe and non essential
Gym * (Indoor + Social Distancing + Movement + Masks compromised when drinking water).
Small, confined indoor space with stagnant air and physical closeness are the killers. Exemples would be, night clubs, bar, as well as a small house / apt with several family members.
Further questioning needed for these typologies in regards to Agriculture and Manufacturing and the role they play in modern society : Processing plants, Factories, Farms.
Its not the end. Just taking a break.
Internet news media are more and more adopting subscription based model. Understandably, news media need to survive to operate online, faced with the decline of the print medium. And most papers I would consider absolutely reasonable and affordable, $50 / year for Atlantic (thats $4 / mo) its a no brainer for someone who enjoys sharp journalism.
But can’t help to wonder if this shift, how ever founded it can be as a business model aimed to survive amidst the decline of traditional news media, doesn’t contribute to the rise of misinformation and fake news through social media. Unfortunately when sharing articles from such newspaper, most people can’t access the content of these articles. But whatever is free (and potentially fake) is available to all to read.
In these dire times, ahead of November which is so crucial to the democracy of this country, and in light of these pandemic times, I’d urge the Times and others to revery to a free internet model.
On the front-page today is an inspiring piece about Maya Moore who sacrificed her career for social change, to help free an innocent man from Prison. And the piece rightfully asks what are we all willing to sacrifice for a cause, in the name of change. Because it is the only way to see change happen.
Equally pertinent, pieces written about Social Media platforms and their contribution to the misinformation and fake news scourge. And how advertisers are pulling out their budgets from Facebook amongst others, in order to fight these platforms complacency to let lies spread.
So i’m asking you, the NYT and other pillar outlets for ethical journalism, what are you willing to sacrifice in order to play your part as a trustful news entity in these special times and fight the spread of misinformation.
I’m an avid reader, and always thankful for the level of intelligence displayed by its readership along its editorial board. But I sulk as I read through the articles, knowing that unfortunately we are all, just preaching to the choir. And without an open door policy, this thoughtful reflection and much needed accurate information, will stay just here, where its the least needed within our closed door. When it should be reaching out to those who only access news and information through the lens of social media, littered with false information.
It isn’t just here. Mexico for exemple, in the light of this pandemic is grappling as well, along with America with the entropic rise of misinformation to no avail. How can we reverse the course of this scourge once again, as much as I would prefer not to use a war analogy, this looks just like it in terms of urgency.
Or we can be complacent too, believing that everything is going to work out comes November and in the future, that we can trust the American people to make the right choice for themselves. That would be true, if they weren’t consistently exposed to lies, manipulated by a powerful propaganda blinding their sight. We need a wake up call, to open their eyes and expose them to the truth. Just like the Resistance played a role in Europe to fight nazi propaganda and inform the people about what was really going on behind the lies, free underground newspaper then was one of the tools they had to diffuse the information that people needed to make the right choice for themselves. And so likewise now, it is really the only way to reach out to all the American people and expose them to the truth.
If I share a traditional news media article on social media now, only a few with a subscription will be able to read it. Most likely only those, who already know the truth. Find the error.
So I thought about creating my own resistance news entity to diffuse the truth. But it’d be like a drop in the ocean at this point with no traction. I’ll still try, but if traditional news media were willing to take up the fight, their original fight and what news media stands for, the purpose it serves, it will undoubtedly be more powerful, efficient and successful.
If anything, I’d ask you to authorize sharing articles as PDFs or copy / paste of the text with a link to your original content as all of us take the fight into our own hands, to share your content and spread the truth. Thank you
Another request or suggestion to the traditional news media like the New York Times, would be to have a free section on your sites dedicated to debunking misinformation and disinformation / propaganda that takes the form of fake news distributed mainly through social media, but on other websites as well. With the traction of your established and heavy traffic websites, it would at least allow Search Engines to quickly reference your content. The research to debunk the mis- and dis-information is probably already done by journalists to feed their articles, so why not publish and diffuse this part, like a public database of facts check that can benefit from your high traffic traction, and make it accessible by all. Meaning free for all and without login required for data capture.
In a utopian world…
1- If the government / your company was to pay you 70% of your salary or self employed earning so that one parent could take care of their children home schooling / remote learning, would you do it ?
2- Or would you prefer to keep on working and send your kids to school in the midst of a pandemic ?
3- Would you take this as a concession or would you welcome it?
In favor of sending kids back to pre-school / middle school
If we have to take water from one vessel to pour into the other in order to maintain a balance of “acceptable” transmission, infection and death rate in a risk equation, then obviously taking the water out of the bar / restaurant / club vessel to pour it into the kids school vessel is a no brainer. But other more essential activities, like mass transit, could be a trickier equation.
Also, as much as I want to believe that kids aren’t really transmitting the virus, and as written about at the onset of the lockdown that keeping pre-schools open undoubtedly is grounds for keeping society as we know it functioning at its essential level, I also can’t help but to think about all the adults workers involved there from teachers to staff, in rather close contact with kids daily, can pose a moral problem.
With all the money that’s been thrown out the windows as urgency and panic dictated sending millions of checks to dead people, lunatic ordering millions of dollars of useless medicine, to bailing out huge corporations like airline companies instead of the people, to wasted money flowing endlessly to feed a speculative stock market amongst the wealthiest (and others as we are finding out) because they have nothing else to do or to invest their money in – I am sure the government has the means to make such payment to each parent who would need it. It is entirely possible. But unfortunately not the society we live in. Once again, helping the people vs. corporations, doesn’t seem to be on our governments’ agendas. It has never trickled down, and even less likely to do so in the future now. Not to mention the whole federal vs state problem here, maybe it is something that governors could implement at their level. A city like NYC could need it more than a remote town in Oregon. In the end though, it seems to not make much difference how densely a place is populated, if the virus has creeped in, without constant monitoring and preventive measures (social distancing, masks and hand hygiene) it will go on to infect the small town just like the big one. And we can wonder seeing the fatigue of people after having to implement this new lifestyle for 3 months, how will they not let their guards down after 6 months, a year or more of this.
In favor of keeping high school and universities as remote learning (for the most part)
The problem with children is that they need supervision. But any kid older than 13-14 years old can handle being at home on their own. I’m not saying its ideal but it isn’t such a big problem as to parents still being able to go to work without them needing to supervise them, nor school to supervise them. Latch kids have done ok in this world so far, tending to be more independent. The school environment is good for development for most kids, but not all.
As far as online learning, likewise, it has its good and bad. Some kids prefer it, some school subjects better suited than others, its a balance. Surely online schools can be improved. Once again, if the government was to invest in schools, then surely they could hire the best of Silicon Valley to come up with software or apps that would turn online school into a better experience. But no, instead they’ve been spending the last 4 months preparing for election. And greasing up the cronies.
Its clear that a dual approach or even multiple approaches could be more beneficial than a one for all solution here.
If the government were to give parents of small children the choice of either getting their salary compensated at 70% in order for one of them to stay home to home school their kid, that would allow the remaining work force (essential workers) that don’t have a choice then to send their kids at school to do so in much smaller classes. That could solve so many problems at once, from less commuting, to the most obvious, keeping everyone safer making their own choices.
For universities, it seems like the price of tuition in this country is just insane, starting young adults off with a load of debt at the start of their lives isn’t worth the trouble of pursuing the campus model. And I don’t say this lightly. Myself been considering going back to school next year for the benefits of being physically there rather than taking virtual classes, learning in a classroom from a professor and your peers, the social experience, I was really looking forwards to it. But I can’t help to question all the prices we have to pay for that and if in the end, at this time, it is worth it. More so, taking the water from one vessel to the other to keep an acceptable balance of transmission, the benefit of being able to send some of the children to pre schools and schools are more crucial then those of sending students back to universities.
* Update 07/08/20 : this is such a brilliant idea for universities (as well as high school), to adopt for the time being and perhaps the future, the classical tutorial model of learning online one to one with a professor (or few students). The active learning versus passive experience of an auditorium where students tend to just scroll on their phones while listening with one ear (and likewise passively watching a tutorial video) is highly more effective and therefore takes much less time. It is work for everyone, but the quality improves drastically. Aside from english universities, this model has always been used for music tuition as well. Its an old and tested model that I’m not sure why we have let go off through times. The author of this article argues that this model would justify the universities high tuition price. I still think that US schools are just silly expensive, setting you off in life on the wrong foot loaded with debt, but some middle ground could be found in experimenting with this good solution for remote learning during the pandemic
The algorithms of google, facebook etc. are responsible for the spread of misinformation (and propaganda / fake news).
When content (or web page) gets shared (or clicked) more, it appears at the top of google search page result. Therefore will be the first thing people click. Spreading further the misinformation.
When other relevant information gets tossed back down the page. Not many people scroll past the 3 top google results on a search page, let alone to page 2. Same principle for Facebook.
Silicone Valley has created a monster that they can’t seem to tame unless taking it down entirely. Rebuilding the algorithm that lays at its foundation.
There were 2 tsunamis
the most beautiful thing
from above, the waves were rising
Not from the horizon
but from the shores
the water was clear
as a lake like oil
This beautiful spectacle gave way to fear
as to not forget that we couldn’t just stand here
we had to move up the hill
as high as can be
Its always easier when you think of it
when you want to gather a few things
climbing up a hill
isn’t so easy
we could all have stayed put
the water never rose
that far up
But we didn’t take a chance
And this mindset gets draining, tiring
At some point
we are all bound to feel like letting go
And say just fuck it
Left to contemplate and revel
in the beauty and pleasures of life
We can gamble once, maybe twice
But at the end of the day
We need to climb up that hill
America was hijacked by conservative power. They refuse to evolve and are holding down the country while most of it and its constituents have moved on, changed, evolved to reflect a global shift. Stronger the pull, the more Trump’s America resist change.
When I became an American citizen, I was asked if I’d do anything for the Constitution. Startled by such a question, I answered that no of course I wouldn’t kill anyone or do anything against my morals “for the Constitution”. I was asked to revise (change) my answer to yes.
Fundamentally, I believe this is the problem. To hold on to a piece of writing (open to interpretation) almost 3 centuries old.
Despite the numerous amendments made to it, it remains at its immutable foundation, articles that we keep on, as knots, trying to untie, creating more knots.
The Constitution has come in the way of too many issues by now, from gun control to the electoral college, to our ability to respond to this pandemic today.
How many times people have heard and said, but we can’t do this, its unconstitutional. Obviously the Constitution operates as a safeguard and it is absolutely indispensable to keep the nation in check. But when the safeguard becomes a barrier, or even a danger, we can reasonably question it.
It is clear now that America went its own way in the response to the pandemic, compared to the rest of the world. The problem being that so far, our response (or lack of) has been utter chaos, maddening, infuriating (projected into the protests that started here) we are the only country in the world who has not been able to unite, the most basic survival instinct of human nature to fight the spread of a virus, over our response.
Blame it on our states separation, the obvious inability to respond at a federal level, but Europe as a whole was able so far to unite.
A lot of Americans took it to the streets to express their anger, unconsciously associating the disease to systemic Racism. The slogan “I can’t breath” (Eric Garner’s last words) used all while our society grappling with the notion of wearing masks for the first time to protect ourselves against the virus, is an eerie coincidence. We could label it synchronicity. If we were to psycho-analyse America and read into their collective unconscious, this would be the perfect signifier of the underlying confusion caused by this pandemic. A dilemma, disconnect in their mind, a sort of split personality of 2 clashing ideals they embrace separately but are entropically becoming incompatible. A choice must be made, which one, is still unclear in the American psyche. On one hand they are all wearing masks and accepting it as they protest, subconsciously fighting the “other America” who’s slogan toots their constitutional right to freedom to not wear a mask. All this while shouting “I can’t breath” for obviously other reasons. Or not. The signifier once again is the same but the underlying messages are on the opposite spectrum. Yet all reigned in by the same dictates of the Constitution.
Through Georges Floyd’s protests, an ocean of anger flooded the gates of America, not just about Racism and police brutality, but an overall feeling of we’ve had enough. We are ready to change, like it or not, we are going to change the course of this country’s history. While the other half is holding dearly to its conservative power. Including the Constitution. This is the fundamental dynamic of conservatism and once we understand that, that it is not the will of the people, a reflection per say of the people’s state of mind, rather a pull to keep the power where it is and not have it shift away- once these people who are supporting the conservative power to their detriment understand that, then only this country can start to move on.
The Constitution is enslaving all of America into submission to its power in place. And we need this power to shift away from the hands of the conservative power if we want change. it’s not just semantics, it is fundamental in order to finally be able to give a voice to the people of America vs. states through elections. With the people’s vote, and other constitutional amendments that could finally be made to reflect the people’s will in this country, rather than state power. It is clear through this pandemic that this system isn’t working for us, and we’ve got 5 months to amend this in order to save our democracy.
So why not draft a new Constitution and unify this country in favor of the people?
With so many changes on their way, maybe laying down the foundations as a start, would facilitate all the rest to fall into place. And make sure the people’s vote – all the people – is accounted for comes November. To start with.
Thereafter, from gun laws to universal health care to free education, we can have the people, all the people of this country, weight in to make a choice. Not just the power in place. But black, brown, white, low income and middle class. And the upper class, 1%, power in place too (but in numbers, they are the minority).
Georges Washington, a founding father, was a slave owner. Slavery is inscribed at the root of this country, in the draft of the Constitution. In other words, the mindset of those who drafted the Constitution at the time were doing so with the notion that a slave / owner relationship was inherent to society and therefore would prevail. This argument applies to other countries whose models were built around the US Constitution as well.
Despite Washington and other founding fathers turning against slavery to support abolition by the end of their lives, it was too late. The foundation of the Constitution as written remains, a testimony of them making the choice to integrate slavery, rather than abolish it.
Not to tear down his legality to this country and the world. It’s not the point. But this country, and the world, have changed since. He had seen it changed in his lifetime already.
Besides, like a Bible or Quran, the Constitution is often brandished to short circuit solutions that we all can envision for our country in today’s world. Just like Christians may use the Bible to bolster pro life agenda, the (mis)interpretation of the Constitution leads to abuses. Could be better exemples, like the Coran and Jihad.
The idea of the American Constitution has been hijacked the same way Marx’s communism ideal has been by Lenin, Stalin and Mao. To serve their personal power interests.
The framework of the Constitution drafted in theory for the people, like the communism manifesto drafted by Marx, aren’t in any way relevant or empowering the people of America, nor did it the people of Russia or China.
In a way the foundations for capitalism and for communism have so far, never reached a governmental structure that worked in favor of the people.
The writings being open to interpretation, were used instead to serve politician’s access and griping of power.
From intellectual elite under Lenin to corporate interests in Trumps America (and predecessors).
The communist failures have always been framed as boogeymen, from the western – mostly capitalistic point of view, and vice versa.
In reality, the foundation of these 2 frameworks were too vague to be able to assert today that either of them has ever functioned as far as governments go.
It took 4 months back in 1787 to draft the first Constitution. We have 5 months, lets do it. Rebuild the foundation of the Constitution for the people today in the 21st century, in mind.
* Update 07/10/20 : this article explains everything, laying out why the age old arguments for maintaining the electoral college are no longer valid. Thank you Jesse Wegman for shedding the light for all Americans recounting a discourse (probably learned in school) that they forgot to fact check.
Lets not forget Amendment 2, a deeply rooted conviction causing too much grief in this country, needs to be addressed now while we are at it.
A hundred years ago, the majority of people’s main preoccupation in life wasn’t to go to the beach, to have a drink with friends at a bar, or dinning in a restaurant, manicure, movies, gym, partying etc… people’s main preoccupation wasn’t entertainment or distraction. What life meant to them, was something else. Build a family, shelter, have food, and build security against hardship. And still the case for most today, but what we fill our lives with, has taken a different collective aspiration, and maybe distracting from what is essential.
Not that some didn’t enjoy times of distraction back then, or seek them, but it wasn’t a priority of life. Sure the roaring 20’s happened in NYC after the Spanish flu and before the Great Depression. But that was mostly an expression of big cities. Because there, yes, priorities started to shift. Harder to build a life around traditional values of the time, society in big cities shift towards culture, socialisation and a sort of hedonistic pursuit after the war. Where’s the chicken, where’s the egg in an urban environment, I don’t know. But somehow a new way of life emerges. Was the Spanish flu pandemic already back then, a precursory test of nature on this new way of life?
Evidently, we have in a century, pushed that way of life to its extreme.
Seeing the picture of an oblivious crowd flocking to the beaches in Britain, packed as tight as can be in the middle of a pandemic, is saddening. For not its dramatic comparison to a herd of kamikaze, it at least says one thing. That everyone is willing to die rather than be taken away from the distractions, entertainment of life. This has become, in todays society the most essentiel meaning of life, so it seems.
For others, the followers, it may be that they rather hide from the truth, from reality because they cannot “take it”, they cannot fathom it, and revel in oblivion and delusion. That the pandemic doesn’t exist, or that somewhat they have super power, are invincible, maybe even are super heroes in the case of Americans tooting their right to freedom.
They cannot adapt, thinking or feeling that the pre-pandemic way of life, is the only thing they can perceive as normal life.
Once again, pandemic address our ability to adapt as a specie.
For sure our ways of life would not seem normal at all for anyone coming from an era prior to the 20th century. Should it matter? Should we let these people flocking to the beach know that the meaning of freedom doesn’t lie on the surface, the signifier, a symbolic picture of beachgoers, the choice made to act upon what one wants rather than need. That having perspective, and reaching real freedom may mean delaying instant gratification. That feeling free, isn’t the same as being free.
Or is that too deep, too dooming, too much for our fragile overprotected, worry free generations. Yes with an “S” as I’m counting at least 3 generations here who have had the luxury to live in a western world pretty much rid of trauma when you compare to the first half of the 20th century plagued by a pandemic, great depression and 2 world wars. For the generation living through these times, this was the normal way of life. Some of them still alive today, may also perceive – like the people of the past 20 centuries – that the 21st century, isn’t “normal” living.
Nature will always reward those who adapt the fastest. That is a constant through the evolution of humanity.
I would like to know why every damn day, even twice a day sometimes, I receive an email from Twitter with a Donald Trump tweet when I have NEVER ever absolutely NEVER followed his account. Can you give me an answer, Twitter?
This is the assumption :
The recent spike in positives cases in FL / TX etc.. right now is the result of their opening back business the first week of May (and not the result of Memorial day weekend), 1 month too early, despite the advisory to keep the lockdown in place until May 15th at least, June 8th in NYC. To top it off, in these states, without wearing masks and doing minimum to none social distancing.
The start of the spike in these states happened around June 21 perhaps a week prior. That is a 6 to 8 weeks window. Between the time these states reopened from a virtual free of cases state, as the whole country was on lockdown, to the start of the spike. And these states had very little cases to start with. Lets hope its a spike that gets addressed asap and doesn’t end up turning into a peak in 2 weeks.
If we apply that same assumption to the case of NYC, where the first ever wave of cases started spiking up the last week of March, peaking mid-April, then the point of no-return here must have been the first week of February, where many asymptomatic people may have unknowingly spread the virus throughout the city. And beyond.
With this assumption in mind, if NYC had locked down in January, or these now spiking states would have follow through on the lockdown for another month, in hindsight, we would probably be in better standing, like in Vietnam, South Korea, to name a few countries that have kept it under control, health wise at least. The economic impact being difficult to avoid all together.
So thats a lesson to learn. Once a single case is declared, is when we need to start implementing measures. And so far, it is what they seem to be doing in countries like China, New Zealand and a few others. We’ll see how we can sustain and implement this yo yo, schizophrenic push and pull, open close method on the long run, but for now it is the only way we know to avoid doing what we had to do again for so long here in NYC. Yes the economy will suffer. Yes it will be long and painful, socially, physiologically and psychologically…. It is just a matter of making it more bearable. We need to catch the one virus case “before” it spreads, at case zero. The “before” factor being the hard reality we are faced with this virus.
Looking into the future full opening up of business planned for phase 4 in NYC, if we apply the same timeframe to the protests that started June 1st for exemple, and in all logic and by nature goes against the principle of social distancing, despite wearing masks and having a bigger percentage of the population in NYC already being immune, we should see the spike of these protests, if it happens, around the last week of July. If we do, then we know that facemarks do not protect that much outdoors, hence not indoor either, and / or that our herd immunity being somewhere between 6-10% in NYC isn’t enough to protect the population.
If we don’t see a spike at the end of July, and we are betting on this, we first need to compare the difference between the protests in NYC where people were not socially distancing outdoors, but mostly wearing masks, and the people flocking at the beach in other states for Memorial day (at a week interval) where mask wearing was just not happening despite the lack of social distancing. We are measuring here the effectiveness of wearing masks outdoors, since social distancing was obviously not happening in either case.
We also need to compare the data between NYC protests and other big city protests (perhaps the ones in Minneapolis or LA) where people there were also mostly wearing masks, but unlike us, these cities among others, didn’t yet have as much built in herd immunity since they have been way less cases there until then.
The idea is to determine if wearing masks outdoors is a big factor in slowing down the spread or not. We are probably more sure that it does so indoor, even though we know it isn’t 100% protective. When in doubt, go the safe way, and wear the mask. We can only hope that they do, and the factor at play in NYC protests is more so masks then herd immunity. If not, its going to be painful until we get there, at this rate another 3 years if we don’t find a vaccine sooner.
Social distancing still seems like the safest bet, but obviously much harder to implement. Lockdown being the most intense form of social distancing.
* Update 07/01/20: this sums up the most important element to keep in mind when dealing with conclusions here, wise words from M. Osterholm in the Washington post:
“Unfortunately, we live with the elephant sign philosophy. I put a sign up in my front lawn three years ago to say ‘no elephants allowed.’ I have not had an elephant on my lawn in three years. So you think, see, it works! Epidemiology requires we think about much more than that.”
To be clear, here the elephant sign could be that because there has been no spike in cases attributed to the protests in NYC, we are lead to believe that wearing masks outdoors without social distancing is safe. Overlooking the fact that maybe the reason why the virus didn’t spread during the protests was that very few people if any, had the virus to begin with. Since NYC had just succeeded at not only flattening the curve but apparently also bringing down the amount of positive cases to virtually none after almost 3 months of intense lockdown.
Also, as new findings come and go each day, it seems that they are finding out that perhaps only 20% of people infected may infect others. And within this range, the “super spreaders” when combined with a large scale event where people greet, speak, sing, shout, hug, shake hands, and are rather physically close, thats where potentially many people got infected further spreading it to many different communities and locations at the onset of it all. With vs without masks, indoors vs outdoors, these are the factors we are trying to measure today, in contrast with these events happening months ago when the virus wasn’t officially declared, yet ramping around the world while no one was protected.
And so imagine if we all believe that wearing a mask outdoors is safe therefore allowing more and more outdoors gathering without social distancing, and a super spreader fresh out of Texas joins in a protest in NYC, but the reason why there wasn’t any resulting cases from the protest was because there was no infections to begin with, not because we were protected by masks, here we go. Exponential growth, we are back into full lockdown again. This would be a bad scenario, and what unfortunatly epidemiologists have no choice but to plan with in mind. Because we don’t know nearly enough yet about the ways this virus works, they ought to always proceed with caution. We can take bets, like right now they are taking the bet that wearing masks outdoors without necessarily social distancing is safe enough. But it is a huge guessing game, and if not the case, would be disastrous.
However even in such case today, on a more positive note, hopefully people continue to get tested regularly when attending forms of events where social distancing isn’t possible. Then, unlike at the start of the pandemic, they could self-isolate right away and we wouldn’t have such dire situation as we did back in April. This is everyone’s responsibility to assess the amount of risk we take on a daily base and to be strong enough instead of callous, to put up with the consequences. And hopefully, tests continue to remain free for everyone, and we can continue to mass produce them to have enough for everyone.
These bets apply to outdoor dining as well to some extend although the 6 feet distance is applied between parties tables. We could then evaluate outdoor concerts. For indoor measures, grocery stores, elevators and planes among others. The indoor bar / restaurant / club problem is obviously different and probably on hold indefinitely, since people can’t wear masks when drinking or eating.
I was never into that concept I still fail to understand. Because when i work, i try to focus so any noise, people coming and going, talking to you etc.. is a bit counter productive. Unless you are wearing noisecanceling headphones and in that case, why not just go to a silent place and forgo the headphones.
But if you mean socializing by “working” then it could be done online.
Stop calling this new generation “doomers” they are just realists.
Coming from France, where people are overly pessimistic and landing in America where traditionally people are overly optimistic, I can sense this new generation being right there in the middle, grounded in reality. They aren’t fooled by political lies, they don’t fall for the popularitiy contest of the herd, the bullies. They’ve been exposed to global thoughts, early on interacting (mind you, digitally) with people all around the world. They are grounded in reality. I feel sorry for the older generations who’ve been overly sheltered and cannot handle anything less than confort. Living in a rather uneventful world, for the better of course (boomers to millenials) but our great-grand parent’s generation, those who lived through the 2 world wars, the great depression and other turmoil that spilled incessantly through the first half of the 20th century would say: suck it up. The reality. Magical thinking doesn’t work. Harsh, but the resilience they have built within themselves throughout these times make them much more apt to sustain the psychological and economic hardship that this pandemic is bringing to us. Its not about you, you aren’t the only one affected, the whole world is. Each and every one of us. We can face the truth, make the best of what we have, life is worth living despite its condition. Take care of the other, you will find a new meaning in living. We take care of each other. You don’t need to get ahead of anyone or anything, all we have to do as a specie, is to defeat this virus and we will, as well as rebuilt a new society that can sustain this kind of test of nature. Nature is forcing us to reevaluate our humanity, and how we live amongst each other in a society. I don’t see no doom as long as we can adapt. But shielding ourselves from reality doesn’t help to confront the problems, and more importantly to find solutions.
If we hadn’t spent the last 3 months thinking everything is going to magically resolve itself super fast and without a dent in our economies, lives, psychological well being, a sort of common delusion by burying the problem and pretending it doesn’t exist, we would have actually start racking our brains for solutions to sustain the next 3 years – as health officials and other economic advisers had warned, its not doom, it just is, reality, the sooner we would have prepared, the sooner we would be apt to handle it and adapt. Instead, people get now this double wave negative cusp, where they all thought that after the lockdown, they’d be able to resume all as if nothing happened (thanks to evil loans!) but now they are faced with reality, that it won’t. A double downer. Shifting in isolation mode was hard enough. Seeing the positives sides of it would have helped better prepare psychologically for the next 3 years, and acknowledging that whatever business you ran, work you did, would have to shift (for most people) tremendously to be able to adapt through these times. And more importantly, realizing that our system was broken and unable to handle this, we could have spent 3 months trying to gather our effort to pressure our gouvernements into the right direction to face this test of nature. As the people and our needs. Instead, we let our gouvernent inject trillions into big corporations (as in there would be no unemployment resulting from this, cause you know, America always bounces back!) we let them waste millions on medicine that don’t work because a lunatic thought that his gut feelings were right, instead of injecting this money to the people who now more than ever needs to have access to free health care. And we let them, and perhaps you, inject trillions too speculating in a bubble stock market that is obviously ready to burst, with once again all this wasted money that could have been directed towards building, securing, organizing, protecting our future decade. I love magical thinking. But not when, clearly there are better ways to think. I can’t help to make parallels between the declines of empires, Rome or others and how it has, most certainly at all times occurred with this sort of magical thinking mindset.
Just take the restaurant and hospitality industry case to start with. Because everyone should be able to understand the basic equation. If they were even making a profit pre-pandemic at a 100% capacity / occupancy, then what happens when they have to slash their space and capacity to half in order to comply with social distancing? 3 solutions, either double the prices on the menu, half the price of their rent, or redenominate / devaluate the dollar. Simple enough. Not to implement, I mean in the amount of options we have. Yet everyone is just egger to reopen without thinking it through, taking out loans after loans in the hope that it will work out in the future.
Or take that great solution of dining outdoors. I love dining outdoors! Such a great thing. In the summer. So what happens now in the fall and winter? Or on rainy days? How can a restaurant that was even making a profit before all this can hope to be making one in the mist of this? Or did we all agree that businesses didn’t need to make a profit? As in Amazon, and other giant tech companies? How does it work? Its called, a speculative bubble and here, mindset. Who’s going to take the fall, is the million dollar question. Because once the funds dries out, the cliff is high. But I guess everyone is ready to take a plunge. Or are they? All these small and medium businesses we are luring into reopening, do they understand that no one will take a chance on them or help them when that happens? Free falling simply because they are out of luck. And that, in my understanding of business and economics, or even just as a human being, sounds just like a really bad business or life plan. Why try to get ahead, whats so appealing in the idea of having all this money when times like this shows us that all we really need is to sustain life in a equalitarian manner.
Everyone holding on for dear life to things as they used to be, is the definite wrong direction when these times are testing humanity on our capacity to adapt.
Lets go back to the restaurant exemple.
Solution 1 is to double the menu price. Already high prices pre-pandemic, restaurant eating is still a luxury for most aside from big city dwellers. But for the 40M newly unemployed people, that’s probably not going to work out at all, and for the rest of us probably not either because it will become out of reach. So that leaves the very rich only, to be able to entertain themselves at restaurants, bars and cafes. Will they be able to maximize the already half capacity business operation ? And for all of us here, goodbye for now, it was fun and delicious while we had the option.
Solution 2 to half the rent prices. Well that sounds good right, but how does the landlord owner deals with his share of mortgages, payments etc… to turn a profit as well? Should the government help at this level? Seems like it would be a welcomed help, but for one, it doesn’t look like they are remotely considering these kind of options, and 2, not sure how viable it is in the end, for either business models, the commercial space owner and the restaurant owner. Given that right now people are probably rejoicing finding confort in doing things “like we used to” but once again, with unemployment on the rise and the notion that social distancing is the fondation of our lives in the next 3 years, it is safe to assume that, just like solution 1, it is off to start on the wrong foot.
Solution 3 devaluate / redenominate the dollar. This makes the most sense to me. If $10 now equals $100 or other amount to all of us, its a form of reset that will surely create economic devastation, but at least it is controlled from the top of macro economics, and a uniform applying of this will reach through individuals, to small business to big corporations all at once solution. It could spare a lot of headache if we were willing to even consider such option from the get go to save us more grief. But I doubt.
Solution 4. A gouvernemental buyback of all small to medium businesses who need to sell because simply not viable in this social distancing time of a pandemic. Just those that operate with social contact as their fondation (think restaurant, bar, theater etc…) Wow thats crazy, but why not. If I were a restaurant owner, I would want to sell asap. Rather than spend the next 10 years trying to overcome the economic impact of these 3 pandemic years. But of course, no one would be crazy enough to buy such a business now. Or they would, because we live in a speculative model. To me, this is what needs to stop and what this test of nature is showing us to do.
Solution 5. We don’t need to social distance anymore because we all move around in a clear plastic bubble with oxygen tanks attached…. No need to change anything to our ways of business then. Wow
And here we go. The top white house economist just resigned today. “Mr Philipson is one of the few top administration officials who holds a Ph. D in economics.”…. “the lack of a top white house economist comes as the administration predicts a far rosier economic path than most independent economists have projected.”
Once we fit all the pieces together, a new world will arise
Back then during the 1918 flu pandemic or even longer time ago during the black plague, people didn’t work in offices or go to barber shops nor restaurants. At least in 1918, not at the scale as we do nowadays. Nor were there as many kids or young adults going to school and universities. So it was more manageable in terms of social distancing.
Today, its a cluster fuck, i don’t know how modern society can deal with it. We have to find solutions.
Working from home without wearing a mask all day, or going in the office wearing a mask all day. If given the choice, its a no brainier. At least for me. I have no problem wearing it when I need to, but if there is an alternate option, like working from home rather than from an office, where in NYC one has to brave the subway, the confined space of an elevator and sit next to several other masked people, I don’t think I would consider this a viable option, even for “only” 3 years.
For one, limit the in-office visit to meetings. Once a week or so. Same for school.
As for bars and restaurants, I guess the only solution is to lower the rent so that they can still operate and make a profit at half capacity. I don’t see any other alternative. Or obviously double their menu price but that seems like a doomed solution. It would be in normal times, let alone during the worse recession and perhaps depression ever.
For stores, i think the problem is less critical as people can choose to shop online or go in a store with a mask for 15 minutes or so. The time spent in a store is limited, and as long as stores enforce reduced traffic to maintain enough distance between people it should be doable. But obviously if they wanted to forgo of their space and rent, and retain employees to work from home and deal with shipping, it could be a better profit for them.
what a world, just trying to see the glass half full
Today I got some news, tested negative for the virus antibodies. Didn’t quite know what to do with that news at first.
So I thought for a while, what it meant to get tested, and what these results meant, even if temporary and not 100% reliable…
I guess the negative test result means for me that by social distancing, wearing a mask, washing hands and to some extend doing the lockdown, it is possible to dodge the thing. Maybe at some point I started to doubt that, thinking that no matter what, in this city, we were doomed to get it. And this is true too, but the goal is still to try delaying it, for the greater good.
And likewise, a lot of people are probably starting to believe that they cannot avoid it, hence letting their guards down. That is not a good thing.
This is why maybe it is also important to get tested, to get reassurance that we can avoid it and were on the right path taking precautions as a collective. There is of course an element of luck at play but that, for sure no one can control, just like life.
Despite the fact that test results aren’t 100% reliable either. But we got to start somewhere, trusting something, or else we will never get out of this bag of worms. Just like we all thought at the onset, and like they did in Cuba, mass testing does prove efficient.
When I walked in the testing place, it was just because I’d been meaning to do so for some time now but it was either not possible yet, and then when it was, the line was huge every time I walked past it. But last Thursday, there was no line, so I walked in. I wasn’t really sure anymore what was the point of getting tested, if basically the minute we walk out of there, we could potentially get infected by someone or something. Eventhough at the onset of the pandemic, all we could wish for was to get enough supplies for everyone to get speed tested so that we would know who needed to self-isolate right away, and the rest could just go about regular life. That was I believe, the hope we all had collectively.
As many others probably felt in this state of confusion, living in such a dense populated city as is NYC, the small part fatalist in me started to believe that no matter how careful I was to try to avoid getting the virus, no matter how hard I tried, I was bound to get it. And thats true to some extend, as I wrote at the start of all this, 70% of us will eventually get it in a 3 years time frame.
Another selfish part of me also started to wish I had antibodies, contracting the damn virus previously without noticing it, be done with it and resume life. Well I didn’t. And for a minute there, I wasn’t sure if I felt disappointed or happy.
It quickly became clear. I actually succeeded at keeping the virus at bay. That the collective efforts weren’t in vain. That doing the social distancing thing, wearing a mask and washing hands all the time does works, to some degree even in rat packed NYC and is totally worth it. And so I shall continue to do so without questioning it.
The will to pursue dodging the virus was never motivated by a fear of dying. Of course I don’t want to die, but my chances of dying from the virus are not much more than those of getting hit by a car. Not saying it can’t happen, this thing is so unpredictable for now, but so is life. At the same time, just like I’m not going to throw myself at a car just to test the odds, I’m not going to test the odds with the virus either. Not sure about these kid’s logic going for the “lets all try to get it” approach. I understand the feeling behind it, but the logic seems flawed. However for some people, the odds of dying from this virus are clearly way higher. As an individual, selfishly, I wanted to get it already. But for the greater good, I didn’t because the virus would be transmitted to others, maybe at risk, through me. So I was always and will continue taking a part in this collective magma of will to break the chain of spreading. Because if I get it, asymptomatic or not, I will potentially and unknowingly transmit it. And I can’t live with the idea of potentially affecting or killing someone else unknowingly. And whatever nature is testing us to do to prevent this, and by extension what our civic duty is requiring, isn’t really that difficult to do.
We’ve had 3 months of “training”. Because yes these practices require a bit of adaptation, as to not be forgetful, being aware that whenever you touch a door knob or package, come in contact with someone, these are all possible hitchhikes for the virus. And so you must wash your hands, make sure the mask is tight enough around your face else whats the point etc. But once we integrate all these processes, they become second nature. Its not difficult, it just takes practice until they become automatic, just like when learning an instrument for exemple. And so it becomes less daunting or annoying, depending how you look at it. We all (or at least those willing) had a chance to learn, and some like me, even had the luxury to do so without having the pressure of learning all these new habits while interacting with others by necessity hence exposing yourself and others to more risk.
Since the start of the lockdown, I’ve been wearing a mask from the moment I step out my door until I come back. I don’t even think of it anymore. Its really pointless to fight it, the sooner you get the habit in, the faster you adapt, the sooner you can start doing things without it being in the way. I go out, it comes on. I come back, wash hands, take it off, and yes wash hands again. I haven’t found a better solution yet, so the hand washing twice avoids the mask washing more often… Masks and packages go into a sort of “possibly contaminated” area. Far from the rest. Social distancing as much as possible while still keeping somewhat sane, and obeying these rules set for myself back in March at the start of all this. First rule being to wash hands every time i feel or need to touch my face. So would I be pissed if I got the virus after doing all this? Probably. But its not like we have a choice to not try. At least for me, as always, I give it everything. And if it fails, so be it. But I can sleep at night (well, this isn’t one more thing to keep me awake anyway) and I know I’ve done all I could to protect our humanity. Not just friends and family, but everyone.
Moreover, what it means is that the more people succeed at this new job we have, of breaking the spreading chain link, the more time doctors and medical field can find better treatments, and the least people die.
* Update 06/27/20: for more information about antibodies, read I’m a viral immunologist. Here’s what antibody tests for Covid-19 tell us (Opinion | The Guardian)
blowing bubbles in thin air, thats about it for today
According to Smokey’s world one shall handwash their clothes in silence
The monster washing machine
One should use a broom although still an enemy. But that could potentially be a prey
The vacuum cleaner is the worse
Is blood bath scary
Stuck in the stillness of the world
What a place to be in peace
Contemplating the delusions of the crowned
The lights give me a sense of time
It’s 2am 11 hours gone by
Spacing out in all the confusion
If that was a rock under a tree overlooking the ocean I’m sitting on
Every day at sunset contemplating the waves
Will they bring fishes then rain
But it’s just my kitchen chair I’m sitting in
Overlooking the sink
Contemplating the mess
When she’s confused she cleans
She noticed everything
Everything is an event something new
Experience what it is wonder what it is
The subway vibrations passing beneath us
The plant leaves that can be eaten
The walls that can be climbed
She is very particular about cleaning
People passing by ankles and shoes and socks and feet
Hands doors sometimes magically shut sometimes magically you can go through
Even if we on paper “end” lockdowns, people won’t be going out in public in droves until we have a mitigation plan in place. They won’t be cramming into planes, hotels, bars, restaurants, cruise ships, tourist attractions, sporting events, malls, stores, etc anytime soon. So the notion that ending the lockdowns (again without a plan) is going to magically get the economy back to where it was before in an instant is bunk.
Having said that, and after losing 57,000 Americans to COVID-19 just in April (WITH social distancing), I never thought that we as a society would reach a point where we are actually discussing how many tens/hundreds of thousands of extra Americans (working Americans) should die to eek out an extra 1 trillion more in GDP (out of a 19 trillion dollar economy), and those leading the conversation are the wealthy/corporatists doing so from afar, from the remote safety of their basements. Actual death panels.
And if they push too far on this and cause additional waves of dead working Americans in the process, it won’t be long until the torches and pitchforks start coming out. People aren’t going to take lightly losing a parent, grandparent, sibling, friend, colleague, just so some hedge fund operating from a distance can scrape out another 2% in capital gains.
Speculation goes hand in hand with the bait and switch we’ve been fed, steadily, for decades. No manufacturing? No problem. No real jobs? No problem. No healthcare for all? No problem. Healthcare for which some pay two and three times more than the rest of the world? But we have the best! Pandemic and no supplies? No problem. We’ll start making them at full capacity in a few months. Meanwhile, take $1200 and see you in six months.
Massachusetts just got a bad batch of masks from China. I blame Trump. It’s the feds’ job to source and procure in emergencies. Trump has abdicated the power of the feds in favor of each state for itself. Hundreds are dying daily but yet Republicans want everyone back out.
The stock market is representative of what we’ve become: a nation that has no use for its population.
What the difference a day makes
Resilience we made it past another day
We are still free
Is feeling free a good mesure of what can be done and what cannot
As we individually have to assess because there is no get out of jail card we will get.
In life we took risks and now is when we figure out how to get out of this
It may mean take more that’s what they’d like us to do to save the economy and don’t we all want to save it
But it’s hard not to question some of its practice
The ways we have contributed to society all our lives and now a society that was supposed to protect us isn’t. It’s saying it cannot exist, starting with social distancing to the non functioning at its core of the right to protection. We have to figure it out on our own the natural way
So why should I give it more
The family as the first form of society
That’s how people live during wars
A constant fear lurking
If you can erase it
Go about everything almost like before just with a little more uncertainty that you’ll make it through the next month
The problem being the more of us doing this the more uncertainty it brings to tomorrow for everyone
It’s a dilemma
Because if not this, then it will be what we are doing now for the next 2 years.
Is that risk worth taking as a society
The general will
Or is it asking for more protection guidance and willingness to comply for safety if there was a plan in place
That would bail most of us if we couldn’t work for the next 2 years. That We could afford to eat have a roof over our head and just by trimming the fat we could stay put and make it through
Where to situate the general will
Unthreading the fabric of society
Doesn’t come at no cost for it
People who are protesting the lockdown, not practicing social distancing (er… in a protest glued to each other) not wearing masks or doing anything to protect themselves and others are like reckless drivers taking a gamble on life, like smokers, alcoholics, people taking risk at every chance they get. Fine if that’s your gig and you don’t mind putting your life on the line for nothing. The problem lies when you are endangering others. With your reckless living. If you are a silent carrier, and the person you infect is at high risk, you are killing her or him. May you had been obeying the lockdown, the chances of this person coming into contact to you would have been lessen. Probably non existent. So live with that. Wear your trump cap while protesting a lockdown ordered by trump himself. That makes a lot of sense. The Trump brand.
You could catch this virus so randomly. As said previously, the only 100% safe way to not catching thus not spreading it is to come in contact with nothing exterior (food package, deliveries etc…) and no one. How much you are willing to give, how far you are willing to go to stop the virus. Is only upon you. No society or government can tell you. But this magma of will, that we create, all of us as a force to stop the virus, the bigger it gets the faster we stop it. So the more you give up, the quicker it stops. But if we all interact with only a quarter or even half the people we usually interact with, that will amount somehow to the time it takes to kick that virus out. A magma of will, the will to give things up as we knew them, we took for granted but in the grand scheme of things aren’t essential. It’s hard not to see your parents or your kids, grandparents for 2 years. Or your significant other. But if needed, we can do it. It gets a bit easier when weighting socializing. Friends and acquaintances, the fun in life, the bars the restaurants, the manicure pedicure. But for the teenagers, the kids, the college students, it’s taking a chunk out of decisive formative times out of their life. Or just perhaps they get to do it differently then we did. It may not be for the worse. When judged and compared with what we know, it’s of course griming. But for centuries before us, people have been doing it differently. The form, not the essential existing. That will never change.
So let’s give as much power as possible to this magma of will. That’s what we are trying to do here. It’s not about politics, it’s not about ourselves, it’s about being the best we can as a specie. The virus too is trying to be its best possible. It’s about winning as a specie against a virus. In biological terms. If you remove the science, the doctors, the governments and it was just this earth, animals and us, that’s what we do. We try to survive against those who attack us.
Why not take our focus off other things. That aren’t as important right now.
Why not rise up and try to make a better place in consideration of this huge force coming at us. If it’s only a 2-3 years ordeal, society and government as we know it in the US might be able to persist, relatively unchanged and a lot of people will suffer greatly from it. But if it were a 50 years ordeal like the plague or even 40 years like AIDS (this epidemic isn’t over yet) then we need to readjust a lot of things for society to function. Given the infection rate and for exemple how the south in the US generates 50% of HIV diagnostics between 2010-2016, things may get hard down in the South. In the US, the AIDS epidemic killed 16,300 people in 2017. That’s less than half of how many people died from COVID in the last 2.5 months only in the US (37,782 to this day).
Needless to say, that if the COVID-19 pandemic was to last 50 years, major adjustments to our society needs to be made, health care wise. If we need to practice major social distancing reducing our ability to work thus to have heath care, how are we supposed to get treated if infected.
Or not, not adjust anything and make life a living hell for the majority, so that the big corporations can continue to profit. We just feed them, grease them oil them. Instead of taking care of people’s need.
“In the midst of the twin crises that we face — the coronavirus pandemic and the meltdown of our economy — it’s imperative that we re-examine some of the foundations of American society, understand why they are failing us, and fight for a fairer and more just nation.[…]
The absurdity and cruelty of our employer-based, private health insurance system should now be apparent to all. As tens of millions of Americans are losing their jobs and incomes as a result of the pandemic, many of them are also losing their health insurance. That is what happens when health care is seen as an employee benefit, not a guaranteed right. As we move forward beyond the pandemic, we need to pass legislation that finally guarantees health care to every man, woman and child — available to people employed or unemployed, at every age.
The pandemic has also made clear the irrationality of the current system. Unbelievably, in the midst of the worst health care crisis in modern history, thousands of medical workers are being laid off and many hospitals and clinics are on the verge of going bankrupt and shutting down. In truth, we don’t have a health care “system.” We have a byzantine network of medical institutions dominated by the profit-making interests of insurance and drug companies. The goal of a new, long-overdue health care system, Medicare for All, must be to provide health care to all, in every region of the country — not billions in profits for Wall Street and the health care industry. […]
In addition to millions of lower-income families not having any health insurance, Covid-19 virus is vicious and incredibly opportunistic in attacking people with pre-existing conditions and weakened immune systems. For a wide variety of socio-economic reasons, it is the poor and working class in this country who are exactly in that position as they suffer higher rates of diabetes, drug addiction, obesity, stress, high blood pressure, asthma and heart disease — and are most vulnerable to the virus. Poor and working-class people have lower life expectancies than rich people in general, and that tragic unfairness remains even truer with regard to this pandemic. […]
Further, while doctors, governors and mayors tell us that we should isolate ourselves and stay at home, and rich people head off to their second homes in less populated areas, working-class people don’t have those options. When you are living paycheck to paycheck, and you lack paid medical and family leave, staying home is not an option. If you’re going to feed your family and pay the rent, you have to go to work. And, for the working class, that means leaving your home and doing jobs that interact with other people, some of whom are spreading the virus. […]
If there is any silver lining in the horrible pandemic and economic collapse we’re experiencing, it is that many in our country are now beginning to rethink the basic assumptions underlying the American value system. Should we really continue along the path of greed and unfettered capitalism, in which three people own more wealth than the bottom half of the nation, and tens of millions live in economic desperation — struggling to put food on the table, pay for housing and education and put a few dollars aside for retirement? Or should we go forward in a very new direction?” […]
I get very tired of the politicians and pundits who tell us how difficult it is to bring about fundamental changes in our society. “It always seems impossible until it is done,” Nelson Mandela is widely reported to have said. Let’s get to work and get it done. — Bernie Sanders: The Foundations of American Society Are Failing Us
I truly hope business goes well for you. You, choosing to endangering others for your own gain or comfort. I do hope you the best. At the same time, I’m not certain that you will do so great as a business for the next couple months, years or lifetime. I’m not convinced people won’t be self disciplined and rule it as unnecessary. I mean dying or infecting someone for having gotten a pedicure is not worth the risk. Temptation will be there, let the people be the judges. Let the health care system be the mesure of those choices we make. The less we social distance the bigger load on it. And failure.
Unless we fix it.
Then maybe we have a chance at resuming life with its superficial and inessential filling.
Play your oil prices games your market stocks
We’ll just chill here until you’re done
Hope for the best we won’t pray
Unlike you we are trying to survive
We will play we will sleep we will dance
From one day to the next
Hoping for the best
There isn’t much more we can do
All stopped in our tracks
But we made it past the dawning of another day
There was WWI then WWII
Make it III with a global pandemic
In assessing each country on the globe
How they do, how they compare
The lessons to learn or the ways some failed
Evaluating their system
From health care to the state of précarité most of the population find themselves in globally
We aren’t doing so well
Pull on the brakes
The quilter is king
Let the music flow in
Seep the moments what it feels to be alive
Just alive with nothing else
Nothing to distract you, to fill in, to make,
This is what I need
A moment of peace when the world stops
Only in my dreams
There isn’t a menacing end
A place to dream like a child with no fear
In my dreams there’s peace
I pull on the brakes real hard
Come to a full stop
If Smokey’s going to be okay
Then I’ll be okay
She will spend her cat life in confinement
In between four walls can’t get out
Her whole life
We can do it for a while
We are part animal
She lays there contemplating
She sleeps she eats she plays
She gets bored she looks for ways to communicate
As she lays here listening to Louis Armstrong
Breathing letting go the stress
There is no stress it’s a lovely day
In her cat life
Those comforting voices
This thing maybe from the past
When you hear the buzz of the city life
This thing maybe from the past
Each on our own on this earth to survive
We are pulling hard on the brakes all together
In order to stop the monster
Let all your demons out the door