This week in reaction

As our society moves into lockdown, there is no point at all warning about COVID. You warn about things before they happen, not when you are in the middle of it. Yesterday everyone in the family got a text from our GP advising us that everyone over 70 and the immunocomprimised should self-isolate.

At this time one has done the preparations you can, and it is a matter of keeping a relentlessly positive attitude. You can be quite productive when those who think that they have a duty to regulate you are not able to meet with you, because they have had to self isolate. So back to a more discursive look at the news and trends, not focusing on the current infections.

No, the reactionaries are not taking that kind of substance, but it appears that frugality, gardening, families and borders are suddenly in fashion. It’s amazing what a survival challenge can do.

The inevitable ANZAC COVID 19 bits.

Adam’s a bit of a cynic. In the 13th century, a good viral pneumonia would kill, and the plague was lethal in 12 to 24 hours. COVID ain’t that: it will merely stuff up the health system for a reasonable length of time.

Something is going on and it’s not a virus. Speaking of which, I’m at home with the sniffles, also known as the dreaded man flu. It ain’t the Wu-flu as the symptoms don’t match, but I haven’t been sick for almost two years so this is one hell of a timing. So I’m at home, feeling pretty dreadful and with time to peruse the internet.

As I said, something is going on. The stats for this virus are what I would describe as lame-o on the old death by pestilence chart. Viruses such as SARS are openly mocking this Chinese Johnny-come-lately, while the Black Death and Smallpox are sitting in the big boys’ chairs and not even acknowledging that this virus even exists. In other words, as viruses go this one is an omega male.

And yet, the Western world is collectively losing its mind. Leading the way with the hysteria is Europe as borders are closed and businesses shut down. With economies being on life support propped up by historically low interest rates and money printing since the 2008 financial crisis, and with some nations such as Germany already teetering on a recession, this sudden rush to throw the baby out with the bathwater seems to be completely insane.

The Australians have closed their borders. Good on them: we have done the same. But that does not change the behaviour of those who are in the country. Only God can do that — and the profiteers will profit. Foolishly, if done by one ethnic group.

This virus is exposing the cracks in the mulitculti facade. The reason for all the un-Australian behaviour is because Australia is chock full to the brim with un-Australians. Our elected leaders and unelected bureaucrat classes have been importing them en masse for 20 years. So when Morrison declares that this is not who we are as a people, he is absolutely spot on but not in the manner in which he intended.

There have been many first hand accounts of groups of “Chinese-Australians” appearing in country towns and besieging unsuspecting supermarkets. They strip the shelves in front of disbelieving locals and they care not one bit for their behaviour and how it will be perceived. This is their cultural mentality and it is what we have imported in simply massive quantities. Flush with all of their purchases they pile them up in the caged trailers attached to their vehicles and speed off to the next target, finally completely the journey in one of the major cities where the goods are stockpiled for unloading at massively inflated prices.

This has consequences, because people don’t know what is available.

The challenge that consumers face is a quantity assurance problem (my RMIT colleague Vijay Mohan came up with that term). They can’t be sure that when they go to the supermarket to buy widgets that the supermarket will be stocking widgets. Under normal conditions the supermarkets perform a valuable warehousing function – they store goods until consumers need them for more or less immediate consumption. This is a more or less egalitarian function – in a capitalist economy the stores are normally full of stuff that anyone can buy more or less at any time. During abnormal times, the supermarkets cannot perform that function because consumers do not trust that the goods they want to buy will be at the store (or any store) when they go to buy. At this point it pays consumers to perform that warehousing function themselves.

Economists are familiar with this story – it is a version of the Diamond–Dybvig bank-run model. Everyone withdraws their money from the bank because they think everyone else will withdraw their money.

Historically there are two broad categories of solution to this form of market failure: black markets and price increases & rationing.

Right now the supermarkets are rationing – and yesterday we saw the government threaten hoarders. We also see black markets springing up.

This, however, is profoundly an information and trust problem. Right now a lot of information and trust is lost in supply chains and there are good reasons why that has happened. Going forward, however, to build a resilient economy we are going to have to re-incorporate a lot of that lost information and rebuild trust in our economic institutions and processes.

In the meantime, the rethink of what we do is starting, beginning with conference leave. Virtue signalers need to virtue signal. Yes, I have traveled for conferences, but when you are doing this a lot (and most years I travel two to three times) the idea of doing a massive multipresenter role meeting looks good. It’s not carbon footprint that will be a worry: it’s quarantine.

The medical colleges of Australasia have made it very clear that we and our professional colleagues understand the science of climate change, and the implications. The profession knows the impacts of a changing climate will be felt first and most strongly by those least able to cope: the poor, the indigenous, and those at the extremes of age. These are our patients, and our families, and eventually they are us.

The ASMS is currently negotiating a new MECA, on our behalf. No doubt we are asking for the usual things: more pay and rations, better conditions, a bit more input into running healthcare, and probably some more CME money.

While these are all valuable in themselves, for ourselves, perhaps we should remember our leadership role in society: leadership with respect to public health issues and the responsibilities of medicine, leadership with respect to science, and leadership in how we behave.

Perhaps the time has come to relook at how the CME part of our contract is constructed. CME related air travel raises some serious questions.

Is it sensible to be asking for more money to spend on air travel, when the planet needs us to travel less?

Is it honest to think that we should all be jetting off to conferences and holidays, when the science is clear: humans need to rapidly draw away from fossil fuel consumption?

Are we leading our communities by taking ever more flights?

Can we encourage virtual attendance at meetings using high fidelity virtual reality suites?

Can we create the wording for a MECA that would enable learning and valuable education, but not encourage profligate use of jet travel?

Should there be financial incentives to achieve a high state of medical knowledge, without unnecessary plane flights?

Could SMO’s live with a carbon budget, as part of a CME budget?

Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (NZ Senior Doctors Union)

In real life, I’m talking to the press saying that researching vaccines and cures is good, but going off and using stuff because of animal studies or rumours is unwise. The hypothesis being suggested may be proven in clinical trials: at that point we need to make all that we need. Fortunately, New Zealand still makes drugs.

The Manosphere

Most of the bloggers within the manosphere are introverted, and look forward to not having to interact with… anyone. There has been a move towards seeking the beautiful, and the true, which leads to God.

Photo by Frank Eiffert on Unsplash

I didn’t know how to pray when starting out, because I had never done so in my life. All I knew about prayer was what Hollywood movies depict. I did a web search on “how to pray Orthodox,” since I was originally baptized as a child in an Armenian Orthodox church. I found a Greek Orthodox resource called Orthodox Prayer, which has been most helpful for me to establish a beginner prayer rule, especially their handy PDF worksheet. As I learn more about the faith, I have added specific prayers that suit my spiritual needs.

Wherever I live, I assemble a humble prayer corner that is aesthetically pleasing. It consists of two icons (one of the Theotokos holding infant Jesus and the other of Jesus), two wooden crosses, a blessing cross I like to hold while praying, and a prayer rope I use for the Jesus Prayer. In the morning, I pray after waking and then begin my day. At night, I pray once more before laying in bed. I read for some time and right before closing my eyes to sleep, I say one more short prayer that does not make the assumption I will wake the next day:

Into Your Hands, O Lord, I commend my soul and my body. Bless me, forgive my sins, and have mercy on me. Amen.

There is a large gap between the morning and evening prayers where you can easily “forget” about God, especially if you live in a large city and have a day that is filled with distractions. When I come across something that is naturally beautiful, I sometimes recite a simple doxology multiple times: “Glory to God, glory to God in all things.” In other moments, if I feel anger rising within me or am frustrated from having to wait in a long line, I recite the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” The Jesus Prayer helps remind me that I’m experiencing no real pain or suffering compared to what Jesus endured, and that only through Him can I overcome the small and big trials of this world.

Roosh V

This reminds me of Scott, who moved from Southern California Congregrationalism to Serbian Orthodoxy, driven by theology and who prays the hours — Scott took down his old blog for reasons, completely understandable. A man has to make a living.

Adam hits the boomers hard because the Australian is telling them to stay away from the grandkids. Difficult to see the grandkids when they live in another country — it has always been expensive, (they live somewhere obscure, and God bless the daughter and son in law for so choosing to move out of the diverse city) but now the borders there and here are shut.

I note with approval the version of Civilization he is using.

70 is the new 50 didn’t leave them time in the past to worry about grandkids but now they have the wonderful excuse that this Chinese plague is all about them. So new normal my arse. Bet they still expect the grandkids to line up in the shop queues for them though. I can picture the guilt trips and emotional blackmail right now.

For myself I am doing my bit during this time of pestilence. For example, while playing Civilization VI I make sure to include China in the set up and then to target them mercilessly during the game to the exclusion of all others. Funnily enough, the other AI civs seem to be in on the deal as well. As soon as China is wiped out we all shake hands and then start the game again. Rinse repeat. What do I care? They’re not my people.

I lived in Chinese society through my first marriage, and one of the reasons it imploded is because I’m not their people. I’m nonconformist, English, now colonial. The people we sprang from were great. We have fallen.

This extraordinary man (who providentially survived the 1914–18 Great War that wiped out so many like him) believed profoundly in good education for the children of the poor, such as he had been, and spent all his life teaching such children in state schools. He was a pioneer of England’s first teachers’ union. He was a strict Baptist who read only nonfiction. There was not one novel in his crammed bookshelves. All the stories he thought he needed to know were in the Scriptures. When I recall him, I think I have a pretty good idea about what Oliver Cromwell’s Ironsides must have been like: scornful of their foes, mighty in battle, utterly English, full of the Bible.

Peter Hitchens

The Ladysphere

Kea has been keeping me up to date with much of what is going on here, and I’ve been showing her stuff that has been emailed to me. There have been many pictures of empty shelves, and discussions of confusing demands from the state, the federal government (for those of you that have one: Kiwis don’t) and employers. Elspeth says pretty much what Kea is saying with me but we are seeing a lot of people losing their jobs already here.

The seed was this: what does it say about the society that we’ve constructed when you consider that people staying at home, cooking meals in their own kitchens, spending less money on unnecessary junk, and expending the effort to educate their own children are things that will collapse our economy, cost millions of jobs, and put us into a tailspin?

There are, of course, real human costs to what is happening right now, and I am not at all happy that people I know -and a few I love even- are facing a lot of uncertainty in their lives with their hours being cut or eliminated altogether, their fears of bills going unpaid, and general anxiety as our governmental systems, local and national, have determined that the way to stem the spread of the Chinese virus is to lock down the entire economy.

Another good thing that is ushering in these “evil” developments is one that I never thought I’d see. A lot of these precautions are being taken out of an earnest effort to protect the old and infirm from the ravaging effects of this virus on their demographic. That we are willing to go to such lengths to protect that segment of the population is completely out of character for us as a generation.

The question, and I totally understand that there is a real toll this would exact, is whether we should be so quick to just jump back into what we all know as *normal* life: the eating out, the thoughtless shopping trips and extravagant vacations, the depositing of our kids in government indoctrination centers under the guise of education. This mess has exposed what most of us already knew; that school is mostly a daycare and meals program for many families. I haven’t even mentioned our dependence on international manufacturing for the sake of cheap goods and cheaper labor.

Economics is the name of the game, and I understand that. My husband is working now without missing a beat, but I am not so foolish as to believe that if this thing extends past April, that it won’t begin to affect us as well.

It makes me guilty to think I’ve been talking hardware today. That’s probably a good place to end this: I’m running late on it anyway.

Stay safe, be careful, and care for those you love. The only things that are eternal are our God and his people.