Tales From the Bitface (Posts about coronavirus)https://devilgate.org/enContents © 2020 <a href=”mailto:martin@devilgate.org”>Martin McCallion</a> Thu, 11 Jun 2020 11:57:17 GMTNikola (getnikola.com)http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rssWhat Must Be Saidhttps://devilgate.org/blog/2020/06/04/what-must-be-said/Martin McCallion<div><p>I hope I don’t need to say this. But silence is complicity, so:</p> <p><strong>Black Lives Matter.</strong></p> <p>My daughter went to the London demo on Wednesday (note: there was no riot, contrary to some bullshit hashtag that was trending yesterday morning). I am <em>so</em> proud of her. Her whole generation seem so thoughtful, so engaged.</p> <p>Why didn’t I go? To be honest, it’s because I was scared. Not of the demo, or anything that might have happened there. I was scared of the virus. Of the close contact that was sure to happen. </p> <p>I gave her a lift to her friend’s house. They walked for two and a half hours to Hyde Park. I picked her up in Camden afterwards. But part of me wishes I’d gone myself. She said it was a much younger crowd than the <a href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2018/07/15/trumping-through-london/”>Trump</a> or <a href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2018/10/22/march-in-october/”>Brexit</a> demos. sure, it was a weekday, but more of us olds — me included — should have been there.</p></div>black lives mattercoronavirushttps://devilgate.org/blog/2020/06/04/what-must-be-said/Thu, 04 Jun 2020 20:00:24 GMTHow Iceland Beat the Coronavirushttps://devilgate.org/blog/2020/06/02/how-iceland-beat-the-coronavirus/Martin McCallion<div><p><a href=”https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/06/08/how-iceland-beat-the-coronavirus”>Great piece in <cite>The New Yorker</cite></a>, by Elizabeth Kolbert, about how Iceland handled the coronavirus. Which is by <em>actually</em> being guided by science. The experts decided what needed to happen, and it happened, without interference from politicians.</p> <p>Of course, it’s a country of less than 400,000 people, so the scale is different from even the UK, never mind the US. But it does make you dream of what might have been.</p></div>coronavirusicelandnew yorkerhttps://devilgate.org/blog/2020/06/02/how-iceland-beat-the-coronavirus/Tue, 02 Jun 2020 11:50:00 GMT‘We Have No Idea How Many of the Deaths Attributed to Covid-19 Really Were Due to the Disease’https://devilgate.org/blog/2020/05/29/we-have-no-idea-how-many-of-the-deaths-attributed-to-covid-19-really-were-due-to-the-disease/Martin McCallion<div><p>Dr John Lee, writing in <cite>The Spectator</cite> (paywall, but free access to a few articles), explains what pathologists do, and goes on to say:</p> <blockquote> <p>We are still struggling to understand coronavirus. I can think of no time in my medical career when it has been more important to have accurate diagnosis of a disease, and understanding of precisely why patients have died of it. Yet very early on in the epidemic, rules surrounding death certification were changed — in ways that make the statistics unreliable.</p> </blockquote> <p>— ‘<a href=”https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-way-covid-deaths-are-being-counted-is-a-national-scandal”>The way ‘Covid deaths’ are being counted is a national scandal</a>.’ </p> <p>We’ve moved from needing two doctors to certify death, to only one <em>if the cause is believed to be Covid-19</em>. And sometimes the ‘cause’ is decided from a statement from care-home staff, who are not usually trained medical professionals.</p> <blockquote> <p>So at a time when accurate death statistics are more important than ever, the rules have been changed in ways that make them less reliable than ever. In what proportion of Covid-19 ‘mentions’ was the disease actually present? And in how many cases, if actually present, was Covid-19 responsible for death? Despite what you may have understood from the daily briefings, the shocking truth is that we just don’t know. How many of the excess deaths during the epidemic are due to Covid-19, and how many are due to our societal responses of healthcare reorganisation, lockdown and social distancing? Again, we don’t know. Despite claims that they’re all due to Covid-19, there’s strong evidence that many, perhaps even a majority, are the result of our responses rather than the disease itself.</p> </blockquote> <p>It sometimes seems like we’re trying, as a country, to handle this whole thing as badly as possible.</p></div>coronavirushttps://devilgate.org/blog/2020/05/29/we-have-no-idea-how-many-of-the-deaths-attributed-to-covid-19-really-were-due-to-the-disease/Fri, 29 May 2020 10:24:19 GMThttps://devilgate.org/blog/2020/05/27/234242/Martin McCallion<div><p>Strange seeing this tweet from the London Cycling Campaign:</p> <blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>When it’s safe to cycle, people cycle. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/LockdownCycleFreedom?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#LockdownCycleFreedom</a> <a href=”https://t.co/pTrXoBkNjk”>https://t.co/pTrXoBkNjk</a></p>— London_cycling (@London_Cycling) <a href=”https://twitter.com/London_Cycling/status/1265660464547192833?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>May 27, 2020</a></blockquote> <p><script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8”></script></p> <p>Cycling is up all over, apparently. Yet I <a href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2020/04/07/the-last-bike-ride/”>stopped cycling</a> for fear of putting extra strain on the NHS.</p></div>coronaviruscyclinghttps://devilgate.org/blog/2020/05/27/234242/Wed, 27 May 2020 22:42:52 GMTLying Sackhttps://devilgate.org/blog/2020/05/24/lying-sack/Martin McCallion<div><p>Nice to see the gentle description of Mary Wakefield in Wikipedia this morning:</p> <p><a href=”https://devilgate.org/images/2020-05-24/Mary%20Wakefield%20Wikipedia%20Entry.png”><img src=”https://devilgate.org/images/2020-05-24/Mary%20Wakefield%20Wikipedia%20Entry.thumbnail.png” alt=”The start of Mary Wakefield’s Wikipedia entry, this morning”></a></p> <p>In case you don’t know, Wakefield is married to Dominic Cummings. She works for <cite>The Spectator</cite>, and wrote the now-famous piece about her and Cummings’s experience suffering from Covid-19. All without mentioning their drive across the country. </p> <p>Hence the delightful opening — now removed, predictably — in Wikipedia, describing her as “a lying sack of potatoes”.</p></div>coronaviruscovid-19dominic cummingsmary wakefieldhttps://devilgate.org/blog/2020/05/24/lying-sack/Sun, 24 May 2020 09:06:27 GMTThis Is No Time to Unlockhttps://devilgate.org/blog/2020/05/12/no-time-to-unlock/Martin McCallion<div><p>Boris Johnson’s <a href=”https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/may/11/what-is-covered-in-the-uk-governments-lockdown-easing-plan”>update</a> to Britain’s — or in fact, <a href=”https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/12/stay-alert-or-stay-home-how-covid-19-lockdown-rules-differ-across-uk”>only England’s</a> — lockdown conditions has <a href=”https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/11/boris-johnson-coronavirus-roadmap-sow-confusion”>confused people</a>. But even if it hadn’t, it’s too soon for us to be opening things up again.</p> <p>By “us” I mean everyone: the human race as a whole.<sup id=”fnref:international”><a class=”footnote-ref” href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2020/05/12/no-time-to-unlock/#fn:international”>1</a></sup> Everywhere in Europe, to <a href=”https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/11/russia-to-end-national-covid-19-lockdown-as-cases-hit-record-high”>go</a> by the papers, there’s talk of easing lockdown conditions. In Australia people can meet in groups of up to ten.</p> <p>But the virus hasn’t gone away. It’s still out there, being breathed out and in. Waiting for our preventative measures to fail. Not to anthropomorphise it.</p> <p>It’s not over. It’s <a href=”https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/12/tories-lockdown-social-distancing-testing-second-wave-coronavirus”>not <em>close</em> to be being over</a>. I won’t be over till there’s a vaccine. Or a cure, but a vaccine seems more likely.</p> <div class=”footnote”> <hr> <ol> <li id=”fn:international”> <p>Don’t get me started on how politicians, at least here and in the US, have been referring to a “national emergency,” when it’s so much more serious than that. <a class=”footnote-backref” href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2020/05/12/no-time-to-unlock/#fnref:international” title=”Jump back to footnote 1 in the text”>↩</a></p> </li> </ol> </div></div>boris johnsoncoronavirushttps://devilgate.org/blog/2020/05/12/no-time-to-unlock/Tue, 12 May 2020 17:58:20 GMTNo More…https://devilgate.org/blog/2020/05/04/no-more/Martin McCallion<div><p>Sad to hear of the <a href=”https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/may/04/stranglers-keyboardist-dave-greenfield-dies-after-contracting-covid-19”>death of Dave Greenfield</a> from Covid-19. The Stranglers were not really like other punk bands. But they were the band that got me into punk. I heard ‘No More Heroes’ on the radio one weekend, after hearing my school friends talk about punk, and I never really looked back.</p> <p>I never saw them live, and I didn’t follow their career after the first three or four albums; but there’s a lot of good stuff in those early ones.</p> <p>Greenfield is, I think, the first musician of that generation to die from the pandemic.</p></div>coronavirusdave greenfieldpunkThe Stranglershttps://devilgate.org/blog/2020/05/04/no-more/Mon, 04 May 2020 18:15:56 GMTMask Societyhttps://devilgate.org/blog/2020/04/11/%20mask-society/Martin McCallion<div><p>Out to the supermarket today, because we were running low on a few things and our next delivery isn’t arriving till Monday. It’s the first time I’ve been out — except to the back garden — since the <a href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2020/04/07/the-last-bike-ride/”>bike incident</a>. Admittedly that was only four days ago, but like everything now, it feels a lot longer.</p> <p>And I felt some trepidation about it. The world’s a dangerous place: the very <em>air</em> is dangerous, depending on who you get close to. And some you can’t avoid, because pavements have a finite width, and some people <em>still</em> walk blithely two-abreast, or on their own but down the middle… honestly, people, keep your distance.</p> <p>In keeping with my <a href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2020/04/02/wear-a-mask-and-celebrate-your-immune-system/”>recent exhortation</a>, I wore a mask. Just a bandana, but as I said there, anything is better than nothing. And hey, it reminded me of The Clash in the <a href=”https://youtu.be/ttJBdr6eBuo”>”Bankrobber” video</a>.</p> <p>Sainsbury’s was fine. A spaced-out queue of about ten people outside, one-in-one-out, and maybe only five people in the shop at once (it’s one of the small Sainsbury branches, I should note). All very well handled </p> <p>People with and without masks — some kind of face covering, at least — I’d estimate at around 30/70. Some with were also wearing gloves and looking very overheated. </p> <p>But there’s a feeling of society — there already, and that I think might grow — when you’re masked: you see someone who isn’t, you shy away; while when you see another mask wearer you make eye contact. A small nod passes between you: we’re different. We’re connected. We’re doing something they’re not. Or maybe just, we have the same fears.</p> <p>On the way back I passed a bus stop, where the only person waiting was an NHS worker on her way to a shift at Homerton Hospital (I assume, because that’s where the bus goes). A month ago I’d have wondered why people wear their staff passes outside of their work. Today it’s a badge of honour.</p></div>coronavirusmasksshoppingsupermarketshttps://devilgate.org/blog/2020/04/11/%20mask-society/Sat, 11 Apr 2020 11:48:05 GMTThe Last Bike Ridehttps://devilgate.org/blog/2020/04/07/the-last-bike-ride/Martin McCallion<div><p>I came off my bike today. Don’t worry, I’m not hurt, beyond a couple of scrapes. But as I was going down — you know how people say things go into slow motion? It wasn’t quite like that, but I did have time to think, “Shit, I hope they don’t have to call an ambulance.” And once I was down and realised that nothing was broken, I thought, “I hope no-one comes running to help, cos I’ll have to wave them away.”</p> <p>No-one came to help, of course — mainly because there was no-one around. But all this is ironic, given that I read a piece a week or so back by a keen cyclist, saying he wanted to ride, but wasn’t going to, because if he got hurt then he’d be taking much-needed resources from the NHS.</p> <p>”That’s very noble,” I thought, and then proceeded to completely ignore the implied advice.</p> <p>No longer. From now until this is over, I’ll be exercising indoors, or at most, in the garden. It’s a shame, because I do love to get out on the bike, especially in the spring. But everyone has to put up with limitations during this, and this is a pretty minor one.</p></div>coronaviruscyclinghttps://devilgate.org/blog/2020/04/07/the-last-bike-ride/Tue, 07 Apr 2020 11:04:09 GMTWear a Mask! And Celebrate Your Immune Systemhttps://devilgate.org/blog/2020/04/02/wear-a-mask-and-celebrate-your-immune-system/Martin McCallion<p><a href=”https://xkcd.com/2287/”>Yesterday’s XKCD</a> “Pathogen Resistance” turns things round and shows the current crisis from the point of view of the virus. It is genius. And even has a <cite>Watchmen</cite> reference in the mouseover text.<sup id=”fnref-6473-Rorschach”><a href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2020/04/02/wear-a-mask-and-celebrate-your-immune-system/#fn-6473-Rorschach” class=”jetpack-footnote”>1</a></sup></p> <p>But more importantly, and unrelated: it turns out that <a href=”https://slatestarcodex.com/2020/03/23/face-masks-much-more-than-you-wanted-to-know/”>wearing a mask — any kind, even just a scarf</a>– will help to reduce the spread of the virus. This is contrary to what we were told initially, but it makes complete sense even without technical analysis. <em>Anything</em> coming between someone else’s droplets and your lungs, or your droplets and someone else’s lungs, is better than <em>nothing</em> coming between them.</p> <p>It’s like wearing a cycling helmet: I’ve always thought that something between my head and the ground, should I come off, is better than nothing.</p> <p>And there are <a href=”https://ragmask.com”>designs online for making masks</a> out of any old cloth. I feel <em>#blessed</em> that my daughter has an A-level in textiles and a sewing machine.</p> <p>On the question of masks, though, something has been confusing me since this all started. And to an extent, before that, really, when I’d occasionally see people out and about wearing what appeared to be a hospital-style mask. Which is, where did people get such things? How did they come to have what looked like professional medical supplies in their private possession? Aren’t these things <em>controlled</em>?</p> <p>Clearly not, for the last one. And I wondered <em>why</em>? Why did people have them? Now, that seems like a foolish question. And it ignores the cultural differences, whereby in parts of Asia it’s considered rude not to wear a mask if you are sick. Makes sense, though I always wonder how horrible it is if you sneeze while wearing one.</p> <div class=”footnotes”> <hr> <ol> <li id=”fn-6473-Rorschach”> “We’re not trapped in here with the coronavirus. The coronavirus is trapped in here with us.” <a href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2020/04/02/wear-a-mask-and-celebrate-your-immune-system/#fnref-6473-Rorschach”>↩</a></li> </ol> </div> coronavirusimmune systemmusingpoliticsxkcdhttps://devilgate.org/blog/2020/04/02/wear-a-mask-and-celebrate-your-immune-system/Thu, 02 Apr 2020 17:57:11 GMT