Friday, 3 April 2020

Thought Picnic: Stop listening to those pandemic conspiracies

A marketplace of pandemic chimaeras
Yesterday, I had forwarded to me a WhatsApp message recording of a jumble of conspiracy theories that linked the Coronavirus, to China, to 5G telecommunications, to a new world order and the need to retain Donald Trump as the US President.
In these unsettling pandemic times, an environment of exploitation opens up for all sorts of activity, conspiracy theories are rife, peddlers of snake oil remedies makes even more outlandish claims, eschatologists reveal hair-raising visions of a precipitous end to the world, confidence tricksters engage to persuade you in a direction you’ll rather not go, you adopt new practices that contribute more to uneasiness, stress, and strain.
Tales from the crypt
Yet, what one needs is a sense of calmness and peace, the ability to relax without being overwhelmed by the terrifying news cycle, the worry about immediate issues, or the fear of an uncertain future.
The WhatsApp message was full of jumbled thoughts, bad science, stark ignorance, and too many fallacies to count. I had to upbraid my friend for not using his rational and logical thinking to consign the nonsense to inconsequential trash. Yet, to the unsophisticated, this appeals to their itching ears, it all sounds believable, it becomes their facts and it beclouds their outlook, heightening suspicion and diminishing trust.
The cult of mesmerised
When so persuaded, they expect you to be carried along with their winds of fantasy, if you resist, you risk losing the presumed respect they had for you. Having been deluded, it is almost like they have joined a cult of mesmerism and are behind a veil too thick and impervious to you being able to reason with them. They seek like minds with whom to reinforce their new insight.
In enough numbers, they can easily constitute a mob, like the arsonists who set a telecommunications tower alight in Birmingham having been implicitly instructed to go out and destroy the gathering of a menace ready to take away their view, status, standard and comforts in life. The sinister powers about to change the world into ways you cannot begin to countenance or accept. [Government slams 'baseless' conspiracy theory that 5G is linked to coronavirus – The Mirror]
They believe then commit
The words of Voltaire easily come to mind when these conspiracy theories gain traction, “They would can make you believe absurdities, will make you commit atrocities.” In times like this, one must be vigilant and sophisticated, be ready to debunk the absurd, question the assertions to the nth degree and do not let up without good answers. Mind what you believe that you will be convinced to commit.
Find incontrovertible sources, check the credentials of the purveyors, don’t be easily persuaded, read up on this not that well understood and don’t be unsettled by crazy fables that seek to capture and disable your rational mind.
Maybe it is best to give the new cycle a break, give little heed to the social media rumour mill and if you’re to be persuaded of anything, seek out the views of reputable experts, scientists, or professional. When a former director of public prosecutions said the teller at a car park thought COVID-19 was a global conspiracy, you could only resist the urge to laugh derisively, you might just muster a sense of pity too.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

#Coronavirus: Can commendable competence emerge from astonishing incompetence in the UK?

It’s damning incompetence all round
Every day appears to be overcast with a Coronavirus cloud, in the news, in our cities, in our limitations and expectations.
In the middle of this pandemic what is becoming obvious is the need for competence in government with the wherewithal to grapple with a complex and complicated issue that is presently impacting on lives in unprecedented ways. [The Irish Post - Virus crisis reveals Boris Johnson's astonishing incompetence]
It is literally impossible to deploy the kind of glib political spin that has been the stock in trade of the people who constitute our current UK government headed by Boris Johnson. People need answers to questions to which the usual obfuscation or verbosity with sophistry will not pass the muster. [Yahoo! News - Coronavirus: Two-thirds of Brits think the government has badly handled COVID-19 testing]
The numbers are real people
Today, the UK registered the 4th highest global death toll of 569 in the last 24 hours of people who succumbed to the COVID-19 virus bringing the 7th most deaths of 2,925 in a country that comes the 8th in the number of confirmed cases of 34,006. In the numbers and percentages game, there is a fatality rate of 8.6% and a recovery rate of 0.5% where China and South Korea have recovery rates of 93.7% and 58.4% respectively. []
Screen captured from
To suggest that the management of the pandemic in the UK has been abysmal would almost be forgiving, look at the statistics as each an individual, each person named and their survivors accounted for constitutes probably in a majority of cases an avoidable tragedy visited upon UK residents and citizens by their own leaders.
Before we lose the context of what is happening in our country, we need to refresh our minds with what Boris Johnson said in early March.
Is death so insignificant to them?
“That’s where a lot of the debate has been and one of the theories is, that perhaps you could take it on the chin, take it all in one go and allow the disease, as it were, to move through the population, without taking as many draconian measures.”
I must level with you, level with the British public, more families, and many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time.
These are the people who when the Prime Minister allowed the COVID-19 to move through the population with taking draconian measures like the lockdown, took it on the chin and died before their time.
You can only wonder how many more will take it on the chin before the government really does come to grips with this pandemic by scaling up tests for the infected and all frontline staff acquires and distributes PPE to all that need it at the point of contact with the public, and ensure hospitals are adequately equipped with ventilators at the point of need.
I still hope for better
I want to believe that this government can rise to the occasion as they are the ones in charge with the responsibility for which they must ultimately be held accountable. Their need to be truthful, honest and scrupulous cannot be overstated or we would lose confidence in them. [Reuters - Under pressure, UK government promises 100,000 daily coronavirus tests]
People are dying daily and much as one can readily blame them for criminal carelessness and the recklessness that has unnecessarily endangered lives our of lethargy, inertia and unpreparedness, one would hope they are more aware of the gravity of the task ahead of them to find the means to excel beyond their heretofore cack-handed gross ineptitude. I wish them all the success and there can be no refuge in excuses anymore.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Chasing waterfalls of life

Delivered from drowning in waterfalls
From the song Waterfalls (Lyrics) by TLC comes the refrain.
Don't go chasing waterfalls,
Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to,
I know that you're gonna have it your way or nothing at all,
But I think you're moving too fast.
When I saw the lyrics beyond listening to the song, I did wonder about the many waterfalls I have chased and fallen over the edge into a ravine, breaking somethings and because I cannot swim, I would have probably drowned.
Then Prince reminds me with “Let's go down 2 the holy river, If we drown then we'll be delivered.” [The Holy River – Prince Vault]
If I will be delivered, I can afford to sail on rivers and lakes, even the open sea and oceans, if I did fall over a waterfall, I will see rise from what all assumed was death to live strong. There are too many examples of where three letters could have led me to my resting place.
The reckless and careless things that have looked to pitch milestones in my story are hammered out of sight for the billboards for triumph through adversity. Something to meditate on, on the rivers and lakes, I can go boating, kayaking, or canoeing, over waterfalls, I probably want to go hang-gliding than falling over the edge in the thundering roar of cascading waters.
I am grateful for life and opportunity that comes my way unexpectedly and that is the stuff of a storied life. A hope and fearlessness of whatever lays ahead including waterfalls will not be the end of the story.

Thought Picnic: From chills to thrills in health updates

Singing of life
There was a time I was in a church choir just before Christmas, my croaky voice landed within the baritone range with the likelihood that if I had voice training, I might well have improved the range without straining my voice box.
For me today, I could either be singing ‘Good Christian men rejoice’ and ‘As with gladness men of old’, it is not Christmas, but I have had that state of mind. My Christian faith is a source and wellspring of hope and strength that I cannot relegate to insignificance. It gives me the ability to see beyond the inconvenient, the uncomfortable, the disturbing, and the difficult or seemingly impossible.
Banishing the anxiety
The muddled messages of the government about the extremely vulnerable needing shielding from the Coronavirus left me in a quandary that I was expecting a letter from the NHS informing me of my vulnerability and the need to stay indoors for 12 weeks. [GOV.UK]
Visiting the website today, I notice the cohort I belong to had been removed from the list, but that is not before I realised the full gravity of what the government was planning for those who are extremely vulnerable. In one of the worst expressions of an intention regarding the health outcomes, some people in Wales received letters that led one of the recipients to say, “It was like having my death warrant being sent by the grim reaper. It made me feel worthless.” [WalesOnline]
Asked to give up already
The intention, for the people with vulnerable conditions, if they did fall ill due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus or they had a deterioration in their health due to their underlying conditions to stay at home to be cared for by friends and family, not to call 999 for emergency services whilst agreeing not to be resuscitated if they stop breathing or their heart stops. The people were to grant prior absolution to medical professionals from following the Hippocratic Oath.
It is one thing to initiate discussion on your personal end of life care, it is another for your own GP to inform you that they will fill in a DNACPR (Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) form on your behalf because the state has decided the limited resources and personnel in a pandemic we were poorly prepared for makes you expendable.
Courtesy of WalesOnline [Link]

Reading the letter sent a chill down my spine, the prospect that if anyone falls gravely ill that no medical heroism would come to your aid, rather you’ll be left to expire. The thought that when I had the January, what could be cured with a few doses of antibiotics would have refused me until the bacterial infection presents sepsis resulting in agonising death does not bear thinking of.
From despair to great relief
This in my view is the culmination of the mendaciously, heartless and evil herd immunity madness that the UK government proffered on the 12th of March. Allow the vulnerable to be strafed by the Grim Reaper without respite, their martyrdom a glowing statistical sacrifice to the greater good of giving up their places in the health service to the presumably more deserving because they are younger, healthier and maybe still have more to contribute to society. Such is what makes cynics of a more caring humanity.
This morning the British HIV Association published an update, the first line was the summary and answer to many anxieties about vulnerability. “So far there is no evidence for a higher COVID-19 infection rate or different disease course in people living with HIV (PLWH) than in HIV-negative people.” [BHIVA]
Even better personal news
A few hours later, I got a call from the specialist nurse from my hospital, as my consultant had sent me a tweet that my scheduled appointment for the 3rd week of April will be by telephone rather than a visit to the hospital. We had a discussion regarding the results from my last visit in October, if there were any changes to my condition and how I was faring in my broader life.
One piece of information that would have determined where I was in the vulnerability spectrum was the CD4 count, it was the highest it had ever been from a nadir of 20 to over 400. For the past decade, it had struggled to stay in the 300s and now it had breached a somewhat magic figure. That made really happy and glad.
Obviously, that was because I have been religiously taking my medication which keeps the viral load undetectable, but I also think the beginning and growth of a romantic relationship has contributed in no small measure to my sense of wellbeing. I have my Brian with an I to thank for that. There is a life to live out there, a world of abundance to thrive in and love of inestimable value to appreciate, cherish, and enjoy.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Quarantined in my self-isolation

No fun in this
If I am to be honest, I am not enjoying the sequestration, quarantine, self-isolation, or social distancing rave of the moment as part of the scheme to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. Much as I am a confessed hermit, I still like social interaction with other people and more on the physical than the virtual.
This social interaction is the equivalent of the grooming observed in a band of gorillas, we are all social beings. At least, I have not developed the ability to commune with inanimate objects and by that derive the benefits I would otherwise gain from seeing fellow human beings.
Obviously, I have to calm myself down and relax, there is another week and a half left of this matter and it could be extended. I would hate to think of what effect it would have on those of us who live alone at home or are used to social events that were so suddenly snatched away.
Sacred cows of our society
In our society, we lose objectivity when anyone suggests a cause is for charity, we are unquestioning and quite generous to charitable causes. You only have to watch the money mountain grow at nightlong television events like Sport Relief in the spring and Children in Need in the autumn, we have been had in a cult and many exploit it.
One other cult is our beloved and revered NHS, founded in 1948, we would not have anyone touch our National Health Service, yet, it has been raped, pillaged, starved through the decades, shedding many of its social underpinnings for the profit motive, but it is being called upon to fight this Coronavirus epidemic hobbled, restrained, underfunded, under-resourced, under-equipped and radically politicised.
A disservice to the NHS
It is not enough to throw money at the problem, someone should be solving the problem of throwing the NHS personnel in the middle of a pandemic without Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) against a virulent and highly contagious pathogen. Much as we applaud the NHS, we cannot justify sending them on a suicide mission for that is not what they signed up for.
They are there to save life and it only behoves the authorities to provide tests, protection and tools for them to perform excellently without having to be kamikaze heroes. Medical personnel are dying, many are gravely ill, and others are in isolation away from the battlefront where they are needed, because of failings in the system.
Exploiting our NHS love
To heap insult upon injury, NHS staff are being threatened with disciplinary action if they voice the dangers in their working environment, that is just unconscionably evil and whoever suggested that action should be booted out of the NHS forthwith.
On the message to the public, it was easy to attach the need for us to stay at home to the cult of the NHS. We are to stay at home to save the NHS, yet, the NHS staff are not given adequate protection and support to save themselves from ever-present danger at work and being vectors that take it to their homes. The government has been utterly derelict in their duty. Lest we forget it was used to drag us into the madness of Brexit that has consumed this country for 4 years.
If only we could see
I remembered reading books by Lobsang Rampa in my late teens which covered paranormal and occultic themes. In one of his narrations, he was in a physics class where electromagnetism was being demonstrated with iron filings used to visually show electromagnetic waves. He told the class he could see electromagnetic waves and he apparently went through a test of his assertion with him being able to tell when the waves were present or not.
Won’t it be wonderful to have that kind sight to see where the Coronavirus is, in the air and on surfaces and by that be able to navigate the world without interacting with it except when found in enclosed places with others or when someone expels droplets by sneezing or coughing?
Back to my feeling at the beginning of the blog, this self-isolation is having the effect that I want to further isolate and extricate myself, I feel I am losing the mental capacity to call up people and engage, I am tired.