He’s also being scientifically accurate, realistic, and honest, which is the scary part.
Rudderless, blindsided, lethargic, and uncoordinated, America has mishandled the COVID-19 crisis to a substantially worse degree than what every health expert I’ve spoken with had feared. “Much worse,” said Ron Klain, who coordinated the U.S. response to the West African Ebola outbreak in 2014. “Beyond any expectations we had,” said Lauren Sauer, who works on disaster preparedness at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “As an American, I’m horrified,” said Seth Berkley, who heads Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “The U.S. may end up with the worst outbreak in the industrialized world.”
He also has some suggestions for what the country needs to do to improve, not that our current leadership will care.
This is all kind of wrecking me. I’m home, totally alone, not meeting anyone, and having video contact at most with my family and students, which means I’m banging around in an empty house fretting. I definitely need to go read a book (not World War Z) or watch a movie (no zombie flicks) or play a game (dang, I don’t have much in the way of games on my computer) or something just to keep from turning into an obsessive ranting bearded prophet of doom. It may be too late.
That would provide ample entertainment for the rest of us, however.
chigau (違う) says
You have a cat.
Do you have a laser pointer?
PZ Myers says
I have a cat — a horribly evil cat. I have a laser pointer.
Do not taunt the evil cat.
Akira MacKenzie says
Meanwhile, people like my father look at the currently “low” death toll, start crowing that the worst is over and we should all go back to work again before the economy tanks. Dad, I had to be a bummer, but THIS SHIT HAS ONLY JUST BEGUN AND IT’S GOING TO GET A LOT, LOT WORSE NO MATTER WHAT BREITBART OR DEAR LEADER TRUMP SAYS.
Of course, since my father doesn’t handle political/religious opposition from his children (particularly from me) very well, I dare not say it. I just have to crank my earbuds up to the max to drown out his stupid, bigoted, uninform rants and ramblings.
Hey if you want, you can get in our game. usually we play every saturnight Dnd, Warhammer, etc.. now we are going to do it by Skype or Facetime or something
Marcus Ranum says
Make some tea or open a bottle of wine, and read some fiction. Something about a world that is not awful.
Bampa will end up shouting at kids to get off his lawn if this goes on much longer .
Not that we Brits have anything to gloat about ,bojo wasted 7 weeks fecking around with his herd crap .
And the NHS are short of PPE gear ,and we are short of medical staff because all the foreigners who used to work in the NHS
have left ,and the this govt are asking retired DRs and nurses to help out .
Akira MacKenzie says
This weekend I was supposed to attend Gary Con, but that got shut down when this shitstorm hit. A lot of us have moved our events to online venues to create a “virtual” convention. I’ll be running a few sessions of Empire of the Petal Throne this weekend. I’ve also been inspired to try to start up or join a VTT game of something for the duration.
PZ Myers says
Ooh, Charlie Stross just sent me an advance copy of “Dead Lies Dreaming”, his new book that will be out in October. That title…it sure sounds cheerier than what I’ve been seeing online.
Aachen on the Plains says
Nice! Hope it’s a pleasant change of attention.
@6, I’ve still got plenty of tea — but until I finally ventured out to shop today, no coffee — but am starting to run uncomfortably low on vin. Still have a case-ish worth of various beers, and several bottles of rum, port, whisk(e)y, and so on — but running low on the Absinthe, Pastis, and Farigoule de Forcalquier. Strangely, it looked like the local (and rather good) cave à vins is open in the morning (well, this is France, where vin is important… but an “essential service”?); I’ll check it out, perhaps, tomorrow morning when I anticipate completing my “necessities” shopping.
If I may recommend Disco Elysium? It is utterly wonderful and I think would suit your sensibilities.
The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs) says
If you like basic computer games, you can play a lot of older ones in emulation in your web browser (which blows my mind in every way, I must confess) over at archive.org. There’s a huge collection of old arcade games, they have Wolfenstein 3D and Prince of Persia, and if you feel like spelunking into the pre-web you can take a look at old published HyperCard stacks, in an actual Classic Mac emulator running in a browser window.
(And, of course, if you prefer later console games, it is totally illegal to put the name of the game you like and “ROM emulation” into Google, find an emulator program like OpenEmu and a download site, and play things like Mrio 64 or Fnal Fantasy 4/5/6/7 or Legend of Zlda: Mnish Cap, so I am definitely telling you not to do that.)
Bruce Fuentes says
We have 6 lbs of Puerto Rican whole bean coffee and 47, no, make that 46 bottles of wine. Also, a fairly well stocked liquor cabinet. I guess i should order more coffee and wine. The liquor stores will be the last thing to close here in Wi, so will be good on that
johnson catman says
Bruce Fuentes @14: Well, liquor stores are DEFINITELY an essential service. If they closed, this would turn into a shooting apocalypse pretty quickly.
PZ, if you are looking for an interesting popular science read, “The Infinity Problem,” by Frank Close is a pretty good overview of modern theoretical physics–including electroweak unification, the Higgs boson, quarks, etc. It’s also a pretty good recounting of the politics that goes into awarding Nobel Prizes.
The physics is also correct (Close is a theoretical particle physicist).
If you want to interact with people and your computer can run it, Final Fantasy 14. Its an mmo. Id be playing it right now but gotta save money due to getting my hours cut thanks to the pandemic. At least I still have a job tho so I’m thankful for that.
@14, Yes, I found it amusing that in the UK, off-licenses (liquor stores) are considered “essential” and allowed to open. An admittedly quick search — I did not check the official French government site — suggests cave à vins here in France are allowed to open, albeit apparently one local authority tried to close them (a ban which lasted all of 24h), UPDATE: Halt on French local authority’s alcohol ban during lockdown.
I put my name into a list of potential volunteers as a gene jockey for coronavirus testing. 20 years since I pipetted anything, I have no current certifications for hazardous materials or anything, so maybe I can only help by doing childcare while researchers/technicians participate. I can give blood (apparently they are currently very short because community blood drives have ended during this time). I wrote to some folks that maybe their lab reagents or thermocyclers could be put to use.
Mostly I sit around and wonder how the testing occurs (like why the countries all seem to adopt different PCR protocols), and whether antibody tests will be important, that kind of stuff.
Watch Pushing Daisies or Middleman. They’ll cheer you up.
China knew in mid-December. The WHO knew on December 31 and didn’t test human-to-human transmission for three weeks.
Sadly, the only way those responsible will face consequences is by mob justice.
Oh PZ, we are here for you. I am depressed and fearful (having all the risk factors) and can see no end in sight. But at least I am here with my wife, and my children are very close by. I don’t have any useful suggestions. Have just read Neal Shubin’s new book, which is very good. Inspired me to re-read some Darwin. I have a number of Shakespeare’s plays on DVD which I am inspired to watch now having seen “The King” on Netflix – neither history nor Shakespeare. And I may , inspired by remembrance of times past (before 2020) try, yet again, to read Proust (or at least the first 3 books which is as far as I have ever sort of got). And I am making a point of reaching out more regularly to family and friends. Normally I assume people are alright unless I hear otherwise, but this virus reverses that.
But do not, I repeat do NOT, laser the cat.
Being isolated plus reading bad news constantly is a recipe for depression and other mental/emotional issues. I’m finding that out myself. Remember that feeling miserable is not going to help anyone. I hope you (and I) can find more pleasant things to focus on.
Intransitive@21, One problem is Island China (Taiwan) is not part of WHO (or the UN) due to Big China insisting it, and only it, is “China” (and Island China makes the same stoooopid claim, which doesn’t help in the slightest). From memory, Island China has been getting / reporting WHO data via the States.
springa73@23, “Being isolated plus reading bad news constantly is a recipe for depression and other mental/emotional issues. I’m finding that out myself.”
Indeed. I had to step away from reading the news, and commenting here at FtB (especially in poopyhead’s current [Pandemic and] Political Madness All the Time threads) for several days. Instead, I listened to some wonderful music — thanks to whoever it was here at Pharyngula who happened to mention Patty Gurdy — and audio books, but weirdly did not watch any films / shows or attack my pile of yet unread books. And I’m still in the process of cleaning-up my computer, and implementing a revised backup strategy for both it and the mobile.
Have you tried playing the game called Ball In A Cup? It’s a ball, on a string, attached to a cup. You flip the ball until it lands in the cup. It’s hours of fun. Oh, never mind, the evil cat might join in.
Evil cat in the cup?
The mildly deranged penguin plays a similar game, Trebuchet launched cat to aninteresting place (swimming pool, Mediterranean Sea, superyacht in the harbour, on a eejit’s head, a trampoline, the local(-ish) Foreign Legion, orbit …).
Duckbilled Platypus says
I’d recommend a couple of waste-away-the-hours computer games:
If you have only hours to spare, Dear Esther. It’s a walk across a deserted island with a spoken monologue as you reach places. You will be tempted to piece together the story from the fragments thrown at you. There is no score, not even much in the sense of game mechanics – you don’t win or lose, you just walk towards the end and draw your conclusions. There is some incredible design to admire along the way. Closest thing to literature I’ve seen in a game engine.
If you have plenty more, Red Dead Redemption 2. Despite the bad press it got because some players used it to show off abusive, misogynist behavior, it is miles apart from their GTA franchise and I believe Rockstar made an effort to steer away from the usual cowboy movie stereotype gender roles (even if they did not entirely succeed at times). The story is compelling enough, the voice acting is great, the game is astoundingly huge and ridiculously detailed, but really, even if you aren’t into the game mechanics, it is an utterly satisfying and peaceful experience just to ride horse through its magnificent 19th century Northern America scenery (provided you are not attacked by gunmen or animals). It’s living picture book of your country’s natural wonders, and an ode to its beauty.
Trickster Goddess says
Re: liquor sales
Ontario also left the liquor stores stay open as essential services. As their health officer put it, although in politer language, forcing tens of thousands of alcoholics to suddenly quit cold turkey would cause a secondary health crisis.
Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says
My best friend and I have a coop campaign in Total War: Warhammer 2, the girlfriend and I started a huge new world in Civilization 6, I set up a Minecraft realm for her kids and I, and in my alone time I have Red Dead Redemption 2. I may be sick, but quarantine is, at least, not boring. The food and liquor stores deliver, as does the firewood guy. I wish I had some kind of workout equipment tho, I think my legs are atrophying.
So jealous you got an early copy of Stross’s next Laundry Files book! Can you ask him to send me one too?
Ian King says
The wonderful thing about the internet is that it gives you access to as many games and movies and books as you could ever want. I’d recommend Disco Elysium, it’s the best game I’ve played in a very long time, and as an RPG I’d guess it’s pretty accessible.
I’m currently reading Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco, which is absorbing me quite nicely. Or try Gnomon. Reading that is like going slowly insane anyway.
@ 11 blf & johnson catman
an “essential service”?
Why not? The Province of Ontario has deemed liquor stores and bicycles shops essential.
@ 29 Trickster Goddess
forcing tens of thousands of alcoholics to suddenly quit cold turkey would cause a secondary health crisis
And he was right, not to mention sparking a likely crime wave. B&E’s, muggings, etc.
Shoplifting a bottle of Listerine and chugging it probably ties up police, ambulance and emergency room staff for hours. And this can happen when the LCBO is open.
Given we have Ford at the helm, the province seems to responding fairly well.
Well….. For reading material at the moment, I’d suggest Graydon Saunders’ Commonweal books. In order: The March North, A Succession of Bad Days, Safely You Deliver, Under One Banner, and A Mist of Grit and Splinters. They are not “alternate history”. They aren’t on Earth at all. He drops interesting hints about that, including the use of the French Revolutionary Calendar. They’re available on Google Books, so you can get them while sheltering at home.
Mike Smith says
I am re-watching season 5 of Supernatural. It plays a little different at the moment but still good.
Anyway when all of this is done we are going to have a ton of examples of ideologues killing people. Ron DeSantis, Florida governor, refusing to issue a shelter in place order is a strong early contender…but I would like to put a word in for Tate Reeves, Mississippi governor, being the worst of the bunch so far. He countermanded all local shelter/work at home orders today. It is novel approach to say the fucking least.
I would suggest that you look into Jackbox Party games. Either try to set something up with your friends to play online, or maybe search for a Twitch streamer who’s playing it and ask if you can join in.
It’s not much, but it’s something. A little goofy fun and some additional social contact, sort of.
We still haven’t finished opening boxes since we moved into our house near the end of September. A PHD and a retired Latin teacher can certainly collect a huge number of boxes of books!
While my husband works from home, I’m opening at least a box per day, while trying to keep up with laundry and house cleaning and cooking home cooked meals for us every day. I really don’t have time to be bored. I love watching cooking shows for inspiration, and I’m lucky to get to watch one of my recorded shows per day. I would love to have a day to just binge on a fun cooking competition show.
A humble game suggestion.
Marcus Ranum says
Also recommending disco elysium and the outer wilds. I did reviews of both over at stderr.
You got 5 times the dead of Germany, but only three times the number of inhabitants and you are a few days behind us. But I’m making a very gloomy prediction: Out of 10 people who believe T*ump right now, maybe one will change their mind because they become abhorred when the death toll rises and they lose loved ones. One will probably die. The remaining 8 will by then be so invested in the belief that Trump is doing a great job that nothing will make them change their mind, because changing their mind would mean taking some personal responsibility for the evil they supported.
I’m somewhere between remote teaching and home schooling (more on this later today on Affinity) and I have a lot of garden to keep me occupied. While others seem to think that being at home is a wonderful opportunity to clean, I have decided that since nobody comes to visit anyway cleaning can go fuck itself.
We took our gaming online to Roll20. It seems to be working so far, and we can still hang out with friends. I’m in New Zealand, where we are taking our lockdown seriously.
Oh, and very jealous about the Stross book. The Laundry Files is one of my favourite series.
There’s a good (free) tabletop game simulator on steam. We used it a few times when my sister-in-law was feeling lonely at the other end of the world. Maybe that’s something to play with your wife and/or kids after the grandkids are in bed?
Graeme Adamson says
All the best for the isolation, PZ. We’re doing it here in South Africa too.
Trickster Goddess (#29) –
If there’s a bottle of pure vodka in a liquor store, it might be worth picking up to make your own disinfectant. I wouldn’t drink the stuff but I keep a small bottle around for first aid.
Intransitive@43, Whilst perhaps vodka can be used as a disinfectant (I have no idea), it should not be used in hand sanitiser. The reason is simple, you need at least 70% alcohol in the sanitiser, but vodka is “only” c.40%.
(Below is a slightly edited cross-post from poopyhead’s [Pandemic and] Political Madness All the Time thread.)
On making your own hand sanitiser: Not a good idea.
Some quick searching confirms experts suggest you do not make your own hand sanitiser. Broadly, it’s difficult to get the concentrations right; the alcohol is harsh on your skin and you can actually hurt your hands; and the stuff is difficult to use properly. Through washing with soap and water is preferred, albeit carefully-made sanitisers, used properly, do work when hand-washing is not possible.
For example, from Hand sanitizer or hand washing: which is better against coronavirus?:
Also, WHO’s guidelines for making sanitiser, according to CNN (Don’t try to make your own hand sanitizer just because there’s a shortage from coronavirus), are “intended for populations that do not have clean water or other medical-grade products in place.”
Whilst cave à vins &tc may be considered “essential”, Shooty McShootfaces are very definitely not. Nonetheless, US gun industry groups urge lawmakers to keep gun shops open:
I’ve been playing builder games like Dawn of Man and Surviving Mars. They are relaxing and engrossing. I bought a veridesk so I don’t spend hours at a time sitting in thee same position playing games.
(Slightly edited cross-post from poopyhead’s current [Pandemic and] Political Madness All the Time thread.)
Here in France, SNCF deploys hospital TGV:
A science-led response with an excellent and basically free healthcare system and (largely-)integrated transport that does advance planning and drills / tests. What a radical idea!
Goddamnit. I’ve been trying so hard to be rational and reasonable but also optimistic and calculating. Stupidly pretending we can get through this and we won’t be a cliche apocalypse movie. Trying really hard not to listen to that little crying voice inside of me that new better all along. Goddamnit hell. Fuck.
I’ve been doing everything right. I have food and supplies, I’ve been washing my hands, cleaning my doorknobs, isolating and working from home. And it doesn’t even matter because now I realize I haven’t been sanitizing my laundry basket and didn’t take my bread out of the bag and put it in a bowl so the virus is already inside the house. Hopeless. Hopeless, and lonely.