Who spoke these words?

“we are starting to hear some bizarre autarkic rhetoric, when barriers are going up, and when there is a risk that new diseases such as coronavirus will trigger a panic and a desire for market segregation that go beyond what is medically rational to the point of doing real and unnecessary economic damage, then at that moment humanity needs some government somewhere that is willing at least to make the case powerfully for freedom of exchange, some country ready to take off its Clark Kent spectacles and leap into the phone booth and emerge with its cloak flowing as the supercharged champion, of the right of the populations of the earth to buy and sell freely among each other.”

‘go back to your country, we don’t want you here, you are a virus’

This also happened in the Netherlands.

I remember having started petitions about this as soon as it started happening in the UK. “Incidents include individuals being spat on and assaulted, with an unprovoked attack on a 26-year-old woman in Edinburgh, the beating of a university lecturer out jogging in Southampton and a physical assault on Singaporean student Jonathan Mok on Oxford Street in London.

Donald Trump was not helping. Boris Johnson was not helping.

How can we make this better? How do we create a strong voice against this sort of thing? I have so many questions and so few answers.

Politicians who say something – frequently quite innocent – that others misunderstand are often forced to resigned. When top politicians – sometimes “jokingly” – deliberately whip up aggression, they tend to get away with it and are often even applauded for it. I guess this is also why some people love watching mud-wrestling? But discrimination and hate tend to beget discrimination and hate. I have also seen it in myself. There is only so much you can take without getting really angry.

Behind it are real or perceived power imbalances and when Presidents and PMs signal that hate towards a specific group of people is okay, it shifts that perceived power imbalance even more.

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2021/may/19/confronting-hate-against-east-asians-a-photo-essay

24 May. Documentary about the pandemic. You may want to watch it.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/may/18/nurse-who-cared-for-boris-johnson-resigns-over-lack-of-respect-for-nhs-workers

After you’ve read that article in the Guardian, about how disgusted Jenny McGee from Invercargill became with how Boris Johnson expressed his gratitude in practice, watch this compilation to see what he said at the time.

(20 May 2021: And then read about the latest revelations, by following the link under the video.)

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/dark-money-investigations/uk-government-blocked-release-of-companies-in-vip-covid-lane/

UK inequality is like a diamond

So hard that nothing shatters it…

This morning, I filmed this short video below. A few hours later, I spotted this JAW-DROPPING BIT OF BRITISH NEWS in The Guardian. Turns out that there is no pandemic, according to close to 50% of Brits. Because if you lost your job because of the pandemic, that’s on you. Nothing to do with the pandemic, these people say.

“Despite the exceptional circumstances [of Covid], Britons are more likely to think that job losses caused by the crisis are the result of personal failure than chance.”

They also say this:

One in eight Britons think lower earnings and higher unemployment among black people are due to a lack of motivation or willpower. Because most black people have “less in-born ability to learn”.

‘scuse me???!

Britain has something that no other country has. The class system. It makes people believe that they have few options and it makes them overlook opportunities. (This class system also impacted India because it used to be under British rule and it meant that the associated cronyism became applied in India.)

It makes others believe this too. It makes others believe that lower-class people and others who have little income are inherently limited in terms of skills and abilities. But not because of their poverty. These people see the poverty of others as a result of who those others are. They don’t see their poverty as a result of lack of income as a result of massive inequality which also brings low wages with it.

I too became heavily influenced by British class thinking after I moved to the UK so I know very well how heavy its burden can be. But I am still much more aware of it than Brits.

In 2019, there was a day for which I had train tickets to go to London but someone told me that it would be better not to go to London that day. I listened to that advice and did not apply my critical thinking skills.

The person who gave me that advice – I won’t name any names – is the kind of person many people turn to for advice. He is heavily influenced by class ideas and at the same time, has no idea of the extent to which poverty alone can hold people back, because of the many practical implications that poverty has. And he sees these kind of people are powerless, not as people who  seem very different people when empowered. Appearances can be so deceiving.

If I had gone to London that day, I might have returned with a boatload of paid work and if not, then I would not have wasted my train tickets – I did now – and have had a good day out. And in times of stress, such little bits of leisure are very important, particularly if they take you out of your regular environment and habits.

That I did not go to London, that’s fully on me, however.

 

In the video, I mention the CAB. I know that there is a lot of variation among the CABs but their main problem seems to be that they, too, operate with a class system mindset. They see powerlessness. Depending on where you are in the UK, there may be better advice options for you locally.

But… please, try to think from true strength as opposed to from weakness and powerlessness. Because thinking from strength will support you and carry you.

And don’t confuse admitting to feelings of insecurity or fear with weakness. See them and embrace them. Don’t fight them. If you don’t fight unpleasant feelings, they will move on. If you fight them, they will cling to you. 

When I was in my twenties, I bought a book that taught me about this stuff, that you shouldn’t focus on how poor you are – if that is your challenge – but more or less pretend that you already are where you want to be.

Stay well. Be prosperous and resourceful. You deserve it.

Kids are suffering under the burden of the lockdown

Today, I happened to pass two children who looked really miserable. I waved at one of them and it helped a little, I noticed. (She started to smile but was not sure what to think as I was wearing my face mask and she couldn’t see me smile.)

I saw a third one knock on a door or press the doorbell and then run away fast. All three were children on their own, though one of them was accompanied by adults a few paces behind the child.

Yesterday, I signed a petition asking that children be allowed to play with a friend in spite of the lockdown. I didn’t look into it but it made sense.

Today, I was not thinking of that petition at all. I was struck by the children’s faces. And that made me remember the petition and realise that the reality behind that petition is… more pressing than I realised.

Kids are starting to feel really miserable.

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Excellent COVID-19 resource for decisionmakers at various levels

I started attending various webinars some time ago, like lots of people, and like lots of people, I also got a little webinar fatigue at times.

A great series continues to be organised by the National Academy of Medicine and the American Public Health Association in the US, looking into many topics such as the science of the virus, finding vaccines, health inequalities and so on.

Today’s session, on mitigating direct and indirect impacts in the coming months, was excellent for decisionmakers at all levels – also in the UK! – because it addressed a lot of practical aspects and many angles of the pandemic.

It mentioned the need to provide free wifi, talked about telehealth (telemedicine) and developments expected to take a decade suddenly being realised in a mere three weeks, about the complications food deserts pose, about the politicizing of the pandemic, about how to cope with emergencies such as hurricanes and related evacuations, how to remedy the impact the pandemic is having on non-Covid-related healthcare (such as people with heart attacks not seeking help out of fear of catching the virus), the healthcare clinics getting into financial difficulties as a result (as, I think, we saw earlier with those two doctors in California who owned a small chain of facilities and saw their turnover drop so dramatically that they resorted to unorthodox action), the challenge and need to communicate well and perhaps have ambassadors explain the purpose and reasoning behind social distancing, the massive impact social distancing has on the infection rate and the risk of people that people will no longer observe distancing when lockdowns are relaxed and developing a false sense of safety, and so on and so forth.

Here is a link for a model (simulator) that people can play with to explore the effects of lifting lockdowns: https://budgetmodel.wharton.upenn.edu/

The video recording of the webinar will be online soon, at covid19conversations.org:
https://covid19conversations.org/webinars/summer.

The slides have already been uploaded, but not all presenters used slides and the Q&A of course is not online yet either. I’ll post the unedited transcript below.

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Why governments in the west have responded the way they have

A friend of mine in Florida responded that she had really enjoyed listening to this. That is a great compliment, coming from her. She is a microbiologist who used to work at the HRS Sarasota County Public Health Unit (now retired). I remember a fierce discussion we had when I was setting up some lab experiments of my own and wanted to add a guaranteed abiotic control.