coronavirus open thread

Social Distancing Open Thread

Get out the board games

Hope you’re all safe; hope you’re all washing your hands; hope you’re all hunkering down. Our federal government (here in the US at least) has failed in pretty much every way it’s possible to fail and to a large extent we have to rely on our state and local governments — and each other.

In some ways the most horrific thing I’ve learned in the last few days was this: Trump, who hits new lows as a president and as a human being on a daily basis, has been trying to basically buy a German firm working on a vaccine that he wants to be available exclusively in the US.

Here are some other articles I’ve found useful in making sense of all this. Some of them are disturbing, but we can’t successfully confront what we don’t understand.

The Quiet Terror of Coronavirus, by Talia Lavin, GQ

Cancel Everything, The Atlantic

Social Distancing: This is Not a Snow Day, Medium

These simulations show how to flatten the coronavirus growth curve, Washington Post

The Worst-Case Estimate for U.S. Coronavirus Deaths, NYT

Infected people without symptoms might be driving the spread of coronavirus more than we realized, CNN

Please post any other articles and resources you’ve found to be helpful.


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216 replies on “Social Distancing Open Thread”


English peas and lentils are not the same thing. I dislike english peas’ texture. Lentils are awesome.

I fully agree. I hate the taste and mouthfeel of peas but I love lentils (especially in curry or stew).

OK, which of those are the icky green ones the size of a pinky fingernail with sometimes a wrinkled outside, which turn into green mush in your mouth that oh shit quick need an empty box or somethi<BARF!!> too late.

I think you’re describing peas. Lentils come in a variety of colors, aren’t as wrinkled, and are smaller.

Red lentils are awesome. Red lentil soup is a real comfort food, and could hardly be easier or quicker.

@Victorious Parasol,

Thank you. I shall have to try some of those out, once I get a handful of other dishes out of my way that I need to do. Those rolls look interesting, though I’m wary of starting up a yeast culture for use in just one recipe. Unless I do the Croc Pot bread recipe(s) someone else here was talking about. That could be a use for it too. (And these are quick oats; I somehow forgot to check that in my previous post. >.< )

And now I’m getting the urge to look up some of these breads that are just oil, flour, and water done up in a frying pan. Got some extra flour that I need to find a use for, too, and that kind of bread sounds easy and fast enough to make, at least.

Regarding cooking classes in schools: In the US, Bush The Younger’s “No Child Left Behind” legislation resulted in school cutting nearly everything on the curriculum that did not affect standardized test results. (Except sports, of course. Though it could certainly be argued that those DO affect standardized test scores, given the amount of academic cheating schools engage in to prop up their athletes.)

I never played sports in high school and I rather resented how the school’s music program was constantly in a state of fundraising while sports got all the money they needed and then some. If anything I’d imagine that’s gotten worse since I was in high school seeing as that was a while ago.

There are a number of disturbing things here.

There’ll be some adaptation, of course: gyms could start selling home equipment and online training sessions, for example. We’ll see an explosion of new services in what’s already been dubbed the “shut-in economy.” One can also wax hopeful about the way some habits might change—less carbon-burning travel, more local supply chains, more walking and biking.

Not mentioned in the article: the “shut-in economy” will replace a lot of stuff that accepted cash transactions (B&M stores, cinemas, gyms) with online versions that require credit cards (Amazon, Netflix, Peloton), with the effect of marginalizing everyone with bad credit or simply too poor or with too unpredictable income to get credit. (Or worse, it will make such people even more vulnerable to predatory lenders who are allowed to operate unchecked.)

It gets worse:

We’ll adapt to and accept such measures, much as we’ve adapted to increasingly stringent airport security screenings in the wake of terrorist attacks. The intrusive surveillance will be considered a small price to pay for the basic freedom to be with other people.

Moreover, unless there are strict rules on how someone’s risk for disease is assessed, governments or companies could choose any criteria—you’re high-risk if you earn less than $50,000 a year, are in a family of more than six people, and live in certain parts of the country, for example. That creates scope for algorithmic bias and hidden discrimination, as happened last year with an algorithm used by US health insurers that turned out to inadvertently favor white people.

(I’d quibble about how certain they are that it was inadvertent.)

All of us will have to adapt to a new way of living, working, and forging relationships. But as with all change, there will be some who lose more than most, and they will be the ones who have lost far too much already.

And they won’t accept that. The part the article completely leaves out is that at some point this will lead to mass social unrest in any country that lets people be as badly marginalized as the US does, and that part of that mass social unrest will be widespread disobedience of the quarantine rules and subversion of any surveillance measures, especially if (or rather, when) the latter get misused to crack down on marginalized groups and on political dissent. When that happens the virus will run rampant and what will actually happen is that we’ll end up dealing with this pandemic exactly how hundreds of generations of our ancestors did: by just suffering through it, even if that means dying in large numbers.

Except, maybe, in the countries that do as much as possible to keep anyone from being too marginalized. Nordic social democracies, I’m looking at you.

I’m guessing the US, Italy, Brazil, UK, and other countries with far-right governments, extremely entitled 1%ers, and yawning gulfs between haves and have-nots will be failed states perhaps as soon as by the end of this year, and certainly within the decade. We ran out of time to avert that outcome sometime between “Hope and Change” turning out to be hollow and the first outbreak of the virus in December 2019 (and quite likely it was during the 2016 primaries). Even if Bernie had swept Super Tuesday 2020, it’s now clear it would have been too little, too late.

Canada is teetering on the border of the two outcomes, but I’m not optimistic here. The wealthy will not want to give up money (and power!) by letting the poorer strata of society be comfortable and safe enough not to revolt; and when those poorer strata do revolt the wealthy will crack down with surveillance-guided state violence, which will only make the revolt worse. It will continue until the state collapses into insolvency and loses the capacity to keep the police and soldiers paid enough to stay loyal, at which time those will turn on the wealthier stratum and the results will not be pretty — same as innumerable military coups in the 20th century, or in declining ancient Rome for that matter.

Anywhere this pattern occurs the revolt will start among economically somewhat disadvantaged but ethnically privileged groups: white men, especially of the lower middle class. Such are used to not being elite, but not being especially downtrodden either, and suddenly finding themselves unable to work, unable to socialize as normal, likely facing some degree of actual food insecurity, and with the only ways out of that involving submitting to being gouged by predatory lenders and greedy telcos, they’ll start engaging in disobedience in varying degrees, and when the wealthier stratum gets scared enough of them spreading the virus that’s when repressive crackdowns will begin — and with them, escalation by both sides until the country’s institutions and state finances have been reduced to smoldering wreckage.

Wait, did I say they’ll start engaging in disobedience? In some parts of America, they already have.

I dont have a credit card and I use the internet and pay online. I have a bank card for my current account.

I don’t have home internet, outside my phone data. So, even if I could telework, I really can’t.

But, at least everyone else in the room my cubicle is in is off teleworking, so I can feel like a social distancing pro!

Other than taking public transit for 1 hour, 20 minutes total per day. That’s not so pro.

I’d love to stay home but don’t have that luxury right now because I’m not in the vulnerable groups and I don’t live with anyone in the vulnerable groups, so my employer’s kinda all “we need you (until we don’t)”

Also, waiting on all the folks hoarding to finish hoarding, so I can finally pick up the few essentials I’m running low on.

I haven’t been able to get a bag of flour for weeks. I’ve got a few cups left in my pantry, but I’d like just ONE bag for when I inevitably get sneezed on riding the bus.

Kudos and thanks to all the healthcare workers, struggling restraunts shifting to takeout in a rush, delivery drivers / truckers, sanitation, and grocery stockers / cashiers for being the mvps of this situation.

I’d say go thank them, but really don’t. Stay home (unless you really need something) and thank your local Safeway/Freds/Local market clerk by not giving them the dread sickness.

@Surplus, Naglfar: LOL no worries, it was a typo. Still hanging in there, still going to work. Friday + social distancing/voluntary confinement = should be damn near deserted.

Got a semi-persistent throatache, but pretty sure it’s due to anxiety from the situation (happened before); no fever, no coughing or sneezing beyond the usual (every. single. breathing allergy. yay.), or anything else symptom-like AFAIK.

@Surplus: So basically we might be headed towards a semi-cyberpunk dystopia. Yay. I hope you won’t feel too offended if I say I wish you’re wrong (but if you are, it may be because something even worse happens, so it evens out).

@ paireon

we might be headed towards a semi-cyberpunk dystopia

Must confess, I’d envisaged something a little more Thunderdome; rather than me just me mooching round Sainsbury’s in yoga pants.

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