Don’t panic . . . but be informed.

If you have a copy of the Hitchhiker Guide (the actual guide, not the novel) you would be reassured by the words “Don’t Panic” in bold letters on its cover.

These days, that’s difficult to do. From moral, to political, to existential, we’re constantly pushed toward panicking. Even when you have the resolve to follow a steady course, it’s difficult doing so when everyone around you is running the opposite way screaming in fear.

So, easier said than done. But not impossible.

Yes, I’m referring to . . . COVID-19.

Right now, it’s difficult knowing how this will play out, so the two extremes are of no help.

Meaning, listening to Trump saying he’s very smart and telling us not to worry shouldn’t push you toward “oh my FSM, oh my FSM, we’re all gonna die!” camp . . . but probably not all the way there.

Pandemics have long been a worry and the last big one — the Pandemic of 1918-1920 — was pretty bad . . . and made worse by the government deliberately downplaying the severity of it (because of WW I).

For them who don’t read anything longer than three words along with a photo of a cat, these next few links are wasted, but history’s one major benefit is information.

The Wikipedia article is HERE.

A 2017 Smithsonian article on the Spanish Flu is HERE. It’s long but contains lots of information that should give you pause.

HERE‘s another link with perhaps more specifics and links to the response of the government and the medical community.

Anyone who wants to can find more data on what was a pretty bad time for the world.

Here’s the thing . . . it’s never been the question IF we would have another such event; the question has always been WHEN.

Is COVID-19 it? Are we at the beginning of what will be another world-reshaping event?

Too early to tell, but there is a possibility the answer is “yes”.

Mind you, there have been lots of exaggerated and unwarranted panics over most people’s lifetimes. So many that people have become inured to them (well, not all people). Something happens and we see people panicking and we say “there they go again!

This could be another such time. The question is whether you are a “growther” or a “base-rater“. The terms are explained HERE but can be summarized thus:

Growther — the spread of the disease is exponential and the numbers will look like this:

American Hospital Association “Best Guess Epidemiology” for #codiv19 over next 2 months:
96,000,000 infections
4,800,000 hospitalizations
1,900,000 ICU admissions
480,000 deaths

For comparison, the 2019 flu:
35,500,000 infections
490,600 hospitalizations
49,000 ICU admissions
34,200 deaths

Base-rater — the spread is subject to changing conditions and they are less convinced by analytical and mathematical arguments, and more persuaded by what they have seen in their own experience. They tend to be pragmatic and rooted in the moment.

This approach is often more reliable . . . until it isn’t. Meaning, because they’ve never seen something like the worst-case scenario before, they don’t think it’s likely to happen.

I’m assuming the logic goes something like “if it were likely, it would have happened more often“.

Remember, I’m in the Don’t Panic camp.

BUT . . . it’s one thing to not panic, but it’s another to think there’s nothing to worry about.

There’s also the fact I’m primarily a numbers guy and this THREAD summarizes the bad scenario (the growther argument) pretty well, while all the base-rater has to offer is that, you know, things often work out not as bad as we fear.

Here’s the thing with the base-rater argument . . .

. . . you can make fun of the fear by exaggerating the response (no one ever said those things will kill us all — at least not any rational people) . . . but people still died.

That chart becomes less funny if we start with this line . . . 

1918-1920 – Spanish Flu kills 20 to 70 million people.

So, where are we with this COVID-19 stuff?

I think we have a problem and until the severity is known, it’s prudent to take precautions.

I’m in a pretty good situation because I don’t socialize much and generally avoid people, especially crowds of people. Meaning, my life isn’t all that impacted by this outbreak other than I’m a bit more careful.

When we lived in Colorado, we got used to having extra food in the house (blizzards and stuff) and that was a continuation of having gone through the Northeast Blackout of 2003 while living in Michigan (wanna hear about my concern with massive solar flares?)

Basically, we always have extra food, something easily done if you shop at Sam’s or Costco.

All that’s happened now is that we added a bit more, primarily to minimize having to go shopping. We’re perfectly content with avoiding stores, restaurants (we rarely eat out), and people in general (and some in particular).

That said, it’s difficult to be complacent even while not panicking. This could be a major pandemic and it could mess with a lot of people’s lives, and that’s never a good thing.

And, I can understand the panic buying we’re seeing. Given the mixed messages we get from media and authorities, one can feel lost. Buying toilet paper is something people can do; it’s an action people can take to give the illusion of having some control.

Hawaiʻi is where we first heard of lines to buy toilet paper but that’s because it’s an island; there are no toilet paper trees there and any disruption in the supply chain is of concern for even basic staples.

I’m less concerned that our local stores will run out of toilet paper . . . but they did run out of hand sanitizer. You can make your own with alcohol . . . but they ran out of that as well . . . and Clorox wipes. Luckily, a gallon of bleach will net you a lot of virus-killing solution (1/3 cup per gallon of water) and you can buy plastic spray bottles, and make your own wipes out of old t-shirts or other fabric.

I’m sure they will restock the essentials soon and it could be all this blows over in a month or so . . . but once you become aware of the possibility of these things happening, you tend to err on the side of caution.

The bigger worry is that we have a large population that will listen to these kinds of assholes:

Let’s face it; Americans are not known for being scientifically savvy. Something like 50% of them believe the Earth was populated by incestuous families . . . twice.

These are the kinds of things they listen to (and make no mistake, these guys have large audiences): HERE, HERE, HERE (this one is especially funny…not), HERE, HERE, . . . I could go on and on.

And that’s before we get to the politics of the thing.

It’s no wonder I have a low opinion of about 65.7-79.8% of the population. Granted, some people take comfort in that photo . . . but try to imagine that scene with people praying to Mecca or to Zeus and you get an inkling of what I feel like when I look at that. 

And now, a bit of levity (if none of that was funny) to carry you out:

Not funny? OK, here’s some non-virus jokes.

I debated whether to post this last one . . . but, in the end, humor exists for humor’s sake and we must allow it unfettered access . . .

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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