Serendipity: Cholera vs Coronavirus

Lambeth Cholera Outbreak 1848-49

The more things change, the more they remain the same. The following is from A N Wilson’s The Victorians describing the outbreak of cholera in London in the late 1840s.

It was not until the cholera microbe was isolated and identified by Koch in 1883 that [Dr John] Snow’s brilliant hunch—turning to circumstantial deduction—was proved. Snow tried—and [Edwin] Chadwick too—to spread the gospel of cleanliness as a guard against water-borne disease: the creation of good drains; lodging houses for vagrants; public washhouses; quarantine for local visitors. The coal-miners were the group that suffered more from cholera than any other—Snow urged that their work conditions be divided into four-hour shifts so that they did not need to use the coal pits as privies. In parts of London where the classes washed their hands—Belgravia—the rate of death by cholera was 28 in 10,000, compared with 186 per 10,000 in poorer districts. But, of course, such measures could not be introduced without control, and—as in the case with the Irish [potato] famine—the true laissez-faire liberal would, quite literally, prefer death to state interference. [Italics mine]

A History of Epidemics

The Covid-19 Epidemic Was Just One of Many Outbreaks

We’ve all heard about the Bubonic Plague in Medieval Europe, and even more recently in Daniel Defoe’s London (see A Journal of the Plague Year). Probably the worst were the combined plagues brought to the New World by the Spanish and the Portuguese. The native Meso-American population was to drop by more than 80% due to the combined ravages of smallpox, measles, and malaria (the latter was brought in with black slaves from Africa).

In more recent times, the British Isles have been ravaged by cholera. In his The Victorians, historian A. N. Wilson writes: “After 1832, there were to be three major cholera epidemics in Britain: 1848-9, 1853-4 and 1866. The first of these killed 53,000 in England and Wales, 8,000 in Scotland; the next killed 26,000—but 10,000 in London.”

More recently, the Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918-1919 infected approximately one-third of the world’s population and killed 50 million worldwide.

It is fortunate that vaccinations to fight Covid-19 have been developed. The pity of it is that many of the poorer nations do not have the vaccine, and many of the richer nations are populated by ignorant doofuses who refuse to be vaccinated.

Booster

I’ll Be Getting the Covid-19 Booster Shot Soon

Speaking as a Libtard Sheeple (and proud of it!), I’ll be getting the Pfizer booster shot as soon as I can. It was March 15 when I got my second shot, so it has been six months plus a week or two. I figured it was best to move quickly before the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters get approved and before all the school kids start lining up.

I’ll just call around to see who has the booster and make an appointment.

Air Rage

Flying Isn’t What It Used To Be

I remember my first passenger flight in 1959, from Cleveland to West Palm Beach via Jacksonville. It was like a special privilege. Other kids in the neighborhood expressed jealousy. It was only a prop plane, but we were to be served a special meal enroute with china and silverware.

Half a century later, I hesitate to fly any American carriers, mainly because the majority of passengers are American citizens; and I have lost my faith in my fellow Americans. I would rather take a European, Canadian, or Latin American carrier because the people on board are more likely to be better behaved.

Most of the fights that break out are related to the wearing of masks by rabid Trumpites who in their minds (such as they are) think that Covid-19 is fake news. People have to risk sickening and dying because of such asininity?

I like the idea of severe penalties for bad behavior on a flight. If I didn’t have to go through a thorough inspection at the airport, I would travel with a set of brass knuckles to help subdue violent passengers. Fortunately, the chances of needing them are minimal on Linea Aerea Nacional (LAN), Volaris, Air Canada, or Icelandair.

Unless American carriers take decisive action against passengers committing air rage, they will not get my business.

Hallelujah!

A Small Victory—With Large Consequences

Today I accompanied Martine to the Access Pharmacy in Westwood where she received the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine (AKA Janssen Covid-19 Vaccine).

Martine is a person of monumental stubbornness, so I was surprised that she decided to get the vaccine. In all honesty, it wasn’t my impeccable persuasiveness that did the trick: Her tête de Normande (referring to her Norman French stubbornness) was swayed by the Los Angeles City Council, which was going to make it hard for her to go to restaurants, movies, museums, etc. without either a vaccination card or a weekly Covid test.

Whatever the reason, I am delighted that she has disobeyed the KABC shock jocks and consented to possibly save her life.

My Fingers Are Crossed

No That’s Not Me: I Don’t Wear Ties

After months of bullyragging Martine about not getting her Covid-19 vaccination, Martine has finally made an appointment to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine tomorrow. There have been harsh words spoken by me (“That’s because you get all your info from Nazi radio!” “KABC Talk Radio is not Nazi radio!”). But the LA City Council’s unanimous vote on requiring vaccination proof for restaurants and other indoor locales finally did the trick.

I see this as a victory over the shock jocks of KABC, which I persist in referring to as Nazi radio.May all of them come down with Covid-19 complicated with a few other embarrassing ailments!

Since she made the appointment, Martine has been Googling all the negative info she could find about the shots, so I hope she doesn’t back down at the last minute.

Sosh

This Picture Describes Succinctly What I Am NOT!

I used to work at Urban Decision Systems with a Vice President named Jay W. McBride, whom I liked and respected. Once, when I complained about another VP, Jay said that he was a “sosh,” pronounced like the beginning of the word “social.” As Jay was a lifelong Mormon, I wondered if this was a term used in his background to describe people who were essentially social butterflies.

One thing I am not is a sosh. That’s why I did not find the Covid-19 quarantine particularly onerous. I made a point to contact my friends regularly over the phone, but I did not attend any super-spreader events frequented by people who could not stay away from large groupings of their social cohort.

By now, I and most of my friends have been vaccinated. (Martine continues to be a holdout, but, like me, she’s not a sosh.) I have visited with my good friends from San Pedro and Altadena, and look forward to re-establishing several other connections.

But will I ever attend a large party? Perhaps. If I do, I will probably arrive late and leave early, as is my wont. I derive little pleasure from talking in person to many people, particularly if they are strangers.

Rejoining Society

The Vaccine: E-Ticket to Normality?

Having been vaccinated for Covid-19, I have, in effect, rejoined society. I am now visiting my friends who have likewise been vaccinated. Not coming with me, however, is Martine, who refuses to be vaccinated.

Martine is no anti-vaxxer who believes that nano-sized microchips are injected into the body with each shot. She is simply afraid of most medications, whether in pill or injectable form. Her doctor wants her to take Vitamin D3 supplements, but she gets an adverse reaction if she goes beyond a minimal dose.

I have long suspected that the Covid-19 Vaccination Record Card is going to be a useful piece of paper, whether for travel or work. Despite the efforts by Republican governors to outlaw mandating the card for this purpose, I think they will fail. Until I got the vaccine, even my own doctor did not want to see me: I had several “visits” in the form of telephone calls.

It is my hope that eventually Martine will get vaccinated. Martine’s family comes from Normandy in France. She therefore has what the French call a tête de Normande, in effect a head like granite block—impervious to argument. Perhaps she will eventually see the light, but she won’t take action based solely on my urging.

Republicans

What Comes First? The Death of the Republican Party or the Death of Our Democracy?

As much as I hate talking about politics in America, I cannot shut up when I see one of our two political parties attempt to destroy the country even as they destroy their own party. It’s like a race to the bottom—that shit pit of death cults and failed states.

I can hardly believe that over 70 million Americans have drunk the Republicans’ poisoned Kool-Aid. I regret to say that the woman I love is one of them. Martine not only refuses to get the shots protecting against Covid-19, but she keeps trying to show me “evidence” from right-wing websites which the AM talk radio pundits cite for their over-the-air lies. Take a look at Natural Health News for its take Defending Health, Life and Liberty (followed, of course, by the obligatory American flag).

These people are the enemy. Follow their advice, and risk dying. Martine is convinced that the Covid shots are more dangerous than the disease they were formulated to fight. She says that her health is too fragile for the shots. How would she fare, however, if she contracted the coronavirus? Better? I don’t think so.

If Martine doesn’t want to take the vaccine, I’m not going to force her. But I have nothing but contempt for her “news” sources. The Republican cultists have created their own plastic bubble of destructive falsehoods in which they, and perhaps ultimately all of us, are weakening and perhaps failing.

America First?

Dragging Our Flag Down Into the Mire

Sometimes, I think the United States was destroyed by our victory in the Second World War. It seemed that we found ourselves alone at the top of the heap even as we were surrounded by countries in ruins. That’s when the hubris set in. We were free to make mistakes, lots of mistakes, while trumpeting our prowess.

In an article for The New York Review of Books for November 19, 2020, Pankaj Mishra wrote:

In Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation (2006), Jonathan Lear writes of the intellectual trauma of the Crow Indians. Forced to move in the mid-nineteenth century from a nomadic to a settled existence, they catastrophically lost not only their immemorial world but also “the conceptual resources” to understand their past and present. The problem for a Crow Indian, Lear writes, wasn’t just that “my way of life has come to an end.” It was that “I no longer have the concepts with which to understand myself or the world…. I have no idea what is going on.”

It is no exaggeration to say that many in the Anglo-American intelligentsia today resemble the Crow Indians, after being successively blindsided by far-right insurgencies, an uncontainable pandemic, and political revolts by disenfranchised minorities. For nearly three decades after the the end of the cold war, mainstream politicians, journalists, and business people in Britain and the US repeatedly broadcast their conviction that the world was being knit together peaceably by their guidelines for capitalism, democracy, and technology. The United States itself appeared to have entered, with Barack Obama’s election, a “post-racial age,” and Americans seemed set, as President Obama wrote in Wired a month for Donald Trump’s election, to “race for new frontiers” and ”inspire the world.”

Well, that didn’t happen. We had Trump for four years, and suddenly it appeared that we were headed for the dissolution of everything we held dear, while dumbasses from Red States crawled out of their caves and began to shake the foundations of our democracy.

It’s not over yet by a long shot. The one sentence I remember from my high school civics textbook is, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” So we had best wake up.