Herd Insanity

Today is Friday September 18th. Kia ora katoa.

Today there are no new cases of coronavirus, although there were 7 yesterday, all in managed isolation. All pupils at Chapel Downs Primary School in South Auckland have been asked to get tested. Another Maori elder has died from Covid 19, bringing New Zealand’s death total to 25. Two travellers from New Zealand have tested positive for Covid 19 on arrival in Malaysia.  There have been no new cases in the “community” for two days now. That must give us great hope and encouragement. In Australia there are 45 new cases and 5 deaths to report. That must be encouraging for them.

In the US, “herd mentality” is advocated by Trump. He means, it is said, “herd immunity”.  In the eyes of the rest of us, it’s “herd insanity”. The UK advocated this approach initially, before they instituted lock downs, (some) testing, and restrictions on movement and gatherings. The UK have hugely mismanaged the outbreak; in their case, as with the would-be Brexit agreement, they show enormous incompetence.  You can’t really believe that they want people to die; one assumes that their high death rate is the net effect of their mismanagement rather than malevolence.  With the herd immunity approach, estimates vary, but some say that one in three persons would have to contract Covid 19 for this to be true.  It’s not known for certain how this works, or even what the rate of re-infection may be; it’s also not known how effective a trusted vaccine would be, or at what level it should be administered to be effective.

In the US, it seems that human life has little, if any, value. We see this time and time again in the refusal to limit gun ownership, and the type of lethal weapons allowed; the refusal to acknowledge the need for universal health care, while having huge rates of obesity and ill health; the continued meanness to the poor and homeless; the way women are treated in general; and the violence in the way police treat most matters of protest or minor crime. To be a black person is to be afraid for your life. To be a white person, is to be afraid. You do not want to cross the police, even if you don’t know what’s expected of you. In many places (not just Flint, Michigan, or the city of New Jersey), the water quality is appalling, if indeed you have running water in your home. In many places, particularly poorer areas, chemical spill-offs causes contamination. The rich can afford better homes, better schools, a private jet, yachts, and holidays. The poor scrape by, millions of them without health-care insurance. Being a woman is seen by some as a pre-existing condition, despite the fact that every human being has at least one female relative!  Money speaks louder than human life, although Republicans claim to be “prolife”. What a heartless joke.  The US is just about the worst place in the world right now to have the coronavirus, unless you count India and Brazil. Most countries won’t allow entry to US citizens.

Then there is the insanity of many people continuing to defy the coronavirus, despite the continuing evidence: crowds thumb their collective noses by having parties, weddings, church gatherings, refusing to wear masks, and insisting that those who provide food continue working, sick or not, so that some can be “free” (to be idiots).  There are no consistent guidelines for schools to reopen, in spite of Trump’s insistence that they do so; sending your children to school must be a terrible test of your willingness to believe Trump at any cost. And still he mouths on, in spite of tapes where he acknowledged to Bob Woodward that the coronavirus was a deadly serious disease. There have officially been 197,000 deaths from Covid 19. The US media wonders how to mark the occasion of 200,000 deaths from Covid 19, a milestone which is fast approaching.

Back here, it has been very noisy. This is unusual for us. Last Saturday night there was a party. I couldn’t see where it was; I know noise carries at night. It wasn’t that bad – just high-pitched sounds of revelry, but this is unusual in our area.  Then on Wednesday and Thursday mornings, right on 8:30 am, noisy machinery started up, and went for several hours. Lawnmowing? Tree cutting? Digging? A circular saw? I couldn’t really see through the trees, but I suspect building is going ahead on the marshy ground below our house. I had decided to stay at home on Wednesday, but the incredibly loud noise forced me out. I went into the city, where I spent enjoyable time at Te Awe, the popup library in Panama St. I had lunch there, and spent some time reading the New Yorker magazine.

I am reading Camus’s The Plague (La Peste).  It is a very dense book, very well-written, It is a pleasure to read Camus again. I studied L’Étranger (in French) years ago.  So far, it is a very measured account of the effects of the plague on a city of 200,000 people on the coast of Algeria.

That’s it for now. Nga mihi.

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