Discover more from Teams Human
Forcing Normal in the Roaring 2020s
Elite panic kayfabe is timeless but not permanent.
The Superspreader ‘20s
I find it breathtaking - the sheer volume, a seemingly endless supply of party photos in public. These are posted on social media by doctors, scientists, and even public health professionals parading their various conference activities during a pandemic.
This often includes people who are supposedly well aware of — or even experts on — the issues of pandemics. And while the current pandemic is still killing airplane load numbers of people per week,with many suffering short and long term - including higher risk of cardiac events. At times they seem to luxuriate in posting pics & selfies to social media that seem to spitefully delight in denying the reality of the current heartbreak.
So what if they’re outside for a group picture and just unmask to smile?
People who take their masks off for a group picture are not only risking potential danger in the moment, and a bad example. It's also deception. They're lying to the present and to the future.
“Normal” really never was what it was cracked up to be, but now some are working so hard at pretending an absurd version of normal. Forcing normal turns out to look quite abnormal in practice. But perhaps practiced absurdity becomes invisible to the practitioners because it feels normal after repetition.Humans tend to want to feel normal, because that’s where we find cognitive ease. But this is a very dangerous game to play with the reiteration effect in a pandemic. Normalcy bias can be deadly.
Just the fact big conventions are even happening in the midst of an ongoing pandemic would be bizarre enough. It seems inexplicable that they are being held by scientists, doctors and even air quality professionals. When you understand the risks and the danger, it’s hard to witness the social media posts of people in crowded rooms, doing dances, some masked, some not. No air filters visible at the indoor air quality conference. Conventions, conferences, and government meetings with immunologists and infectious disease specialists shunning masks. Sometimes they even act surprised (or call it ironic) when they contract COVID in a situation so obviously perfectly suited to infectious disease spread. It’s a theatre of the absurd and we see it all over the place - it was called out by someone at a meeting of the San Francisco Health Commission.
Theatre of the Absurd
Forcing normal is an exercise in kayfabe.In professional wrestling, everyone knows the spectacle is not quite as dangerous as it appears. In the case of forcing normal in a pandemic, everyone knows that it’s not safe to be taking wild chances with a novel virus circulating. Sometimes participants of these events are invited to prove their normalcy bias - or their willingness to pretend - with buttons and badges denoting their “comfort level” with the danger, hanging a lantern on it with a wink and peer pressure, cajoling engagement in the farce. One forces it at first, and then perhaps it becomes custom with the mere exposure effect coming into play.
This type of absurdity is not unprecedented. Just google “Roaring 20s parties” and you’ll see plenty of evidence. It’s apparent how over the top this is when you realize some of these photographs were of parties that likely took place during subsequent waves of epidemic flu and all the rampant infections - including smallpox,following the 1918 pandemic’s deadly rampage. The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, a marketing spectacle, was in 1924. Let that sink in.
The party photos from the roaring twenties are all from private archives of wealthy elite. That’s who was partying hard to the point of absurdity in the 1920s.The whole period of epidemics and life-threatening infectious disease was somehow memory holed behind a plastered patina of partying pics of elite ladies with bobbed hair smoking in public and their attentive dandies in boater derby hats, supposedly letting loose after the danger of the flu had passed, even though it’s debated whether it had any relation to the pandemic.(ibid.)
The Sanitarians knew
Things were not actually safe at this time. This was before the antibiotic era and before the push for public health interventions people died “easily and frequently” from infections.The roaring 20s were a time when many people were not roaring but instead hobbled with infections and wailing over the untimely passing of loved ones. Deaths from infection were not uncommon, nor was disturbing and disruptive infectious disease. Not just in 1918 from flu, but through additional surges of flu through the 1920s, and other types of infections or infections undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
And while the fancy people were whooping it up, there were also people arguing and pushing for public health measures: the Sanitarians.They had their arguments published, and called upon professionals, advocates, and supporters to write their U.S. Senators and Representatives.
John M Barry, author of the book The Great Influenza,remarked at a World Health Network meeting webinar that it took more epidemic surges over a decade in the 1920s to actually get legislation through Congress for solutions to this public health problem.
Though the Parker Bill by the amendments lost a certain effectiveness, it is still a very important measure, especially in its provisions for allowing the detail of U. S. Public Health Service personnel to other government bureaus; in granting a commissioned status to sanitary engineers and other scientific personnel of the service; in providing for a Nurse Corps; and in setting up a national advisory health council. Sanitarians are still interested in this excellent measure and keenly desirous that it be passed now. If it is not, the bill must be reintroduced and passed all over again in the next Congress. It would be helpful if sanitarians would communicate with their United States Senators and Representatives regarding this important matter. Do it now.
Although 1920 has often been declared as “the end of the pandemic” - the truth was more complicated, and was pointed out all along. Though perhaps not repeated enough. Most of the articles and references to the 1920s will repeat and repeat the idea that it was all prosperity and merriment. Again the reiteration effectseems to have solidified that idea. If 1929 and all that happened wasn’t enough to betray that story, consider that through the 1920s, the Sanitarians recognized the problems continued and were in need of solutions and action, including political action, and that call to action was published in the American Journal of Public Health in 1928.(ibid. footnote 18) Things did get moving, and public health advanced to a point where flu epidemics and a lot of infections became a thing of the past by 1950, including smallpox.(ibid. footnote 11)
It might seem like there was a moral vacuum then, and now,among elites especially, but in reality there were the Sanitarians, and today we still exist, we just don’t use that antiquated term. Nowadays we are called public health advocates and disabled justice activists. And now, as seemed to be the case then, we’re not given nearly as much limelight as the forced normal party crowd and their elite backers. Major media and all our cognitive biases, such as normalcy bias, appear to be exploited to keep a great many of us going about maskless in workplaces and social gatherings, which happens to be lucrative for certain sectors of society, and so they believe profitable. Just like in the 1920s. There is big money in influence peddling against attempts at mitigation.
"We do have to get back to this sense of normalcy." - Dr. Leighanne Parkes
(An infectious disease and medical microbiology specialist at Jewish General Hospital in Montreal)
Influencers, experts or otherwise, tend to get featured in major media if they peddle absurd comments - even within articles that are about terrifying and heartbreaking, clearcut egregious tragedy.The heart that had belonged to two people - Joe Lunn and his transplant donor - was deemed not important by leadership. The publication felt compelled to include a doctor willing to declare the government should take no action to save lives like his.
Why do we have to get back to normalcy - whatever that means - at the expense of the lives of transplant recipients or anyone else? It’s absurd. There really is no good reason we can’t have some minimum standard of infectious disease mitigation - people want free masks providedand required in healthcare settings, including pharmacies, but preferably in all essential services.
This mythical "normal" people have in their minds, especially the people who benefit from the status quo - it never really existed. And what about this “return to normal” that people long for so much they are willing to risk life & limb to force it? Anything can be made normal anyway.So why not make salubrious and fair solutions normal?
A great many people have not in fact “returned to normal” and I suspect that’s the reason the status quo pushers have to keep pushing. They have to push to get the last holdouts back “out there” into the economy doing things that are risky but profitable to sectors such as fossil fuel and commercial real estate related industries(ibid. footnote 23) - such as commuting to in-person office workplaces and doing business and leisure travel. MarketWatch media sure thinks it’s important to report that the National Bureau of Economic Research says 45% of people in the U.S. said they will continue to take precautions, and 13% say they will continue social distancing in a survey they did titled “Long Social Distancing,”and the article points out that an unwillingness of workers to pack into in-person workplaces is causing labor participation to be down in the first half of 2022 compared with what was expected normally.(ibid.) Pfizer is seeing sales of Paxlovid increase from the lifting of mask mandates and people being willing “to get out there” and get infected. We can only hope that the profit from surges isn’t leading to gross shortages when people who try to avoid infection can’t avoid it and we all need “the tools” we were promised all at the same time.
The call is coming from inside the house
And instead “the tools” - or even useful information - government sources charged with infectious disease tracking, prevention, and public information, are themselves putting out misinformation in confusing attempts to normalize infection. The CDC was pushing that bizarre misinformation about immunity, claiming children should get infected with viruses to “move forward” with mass infection, contrary to science and respected healthcare professionals, such as National Nurses United who issued a correction.Sweden’s Public Health is putting out tv ad videos about covid that promote older people getting into a sauna together in close contact and close quarters which is surely a risk for transmission. Even the Chinese state affiliated media sounds like a conspirituality wellness influencer, posting on social media without evidence that you can boost your immune system with Chinese medicine after infection, while also erroneously claiming it’s the immune system that causes “the severe type” of covid. All of these examples fit the “Elite Panic” described by James B. Meigs, “When authorities believe their own citizens will become dangerous, they begin to focus on controlling the public, rather than on addressing the disaster itself.” And that seems like the only logical explanation for why they start claiming absurd nonsense.
And the propaganda appears to be working. Some “still coviding” groups are now turning into “coviding less” groups.People are feeling the peer pressure to, if not “go back to normal” totally, then move in that direction of “loosening up” to get out there and do more, perhaps in an embrace of the group risky shift effect.
Elite Panic got us Turbo Paralysis
I’m baffled by this obsession for normal. Normal was not great anyway. Normal led us to this shitshow. And most of the people I personally know would rather not get sick, and are outraged by the idea that ordinary people should be sacrificed on the altar of The Economy, and are expected to do so joyfully. Why give into this? This urgent push for normal is such an obvious straight up example of “Elite Panic”(ibid. footnote 36) - the prioritizing status quo power order over solving problems. This is not actually helpful, in fact, it’s counterproductive, as described by Peter M. Sandman and Jody Lanard about SARS-1 in 2003.
In the documentary “HyperNormalisation” - about the constructed fake world those in power designed to avoid facing the complexities of life - Adam Curtis remarked that those in control of things today seem unable to deal and the powerful have no vision of a different or better future.But this seems to be a recurring problem. In ancient Rome, they could’ve had a steam engine as far back as 285 BC possibly, but at least as far back as Heron in 62 AD. People complain now about what could have been by now if not for unbridled capitalist waylaying especially since the 1980s. But it could’ve been hundreds of years ago too if it wasn’t for Rome, and let’s face it, most civilizations, with people in charge pulling toward stasis and the damned status quo. For those in positions of power and leadership, Garrett Ryan explained in an episode of the podcast Event Horizon, that in Rome back then, stability was favoured and no incentive for funding progress. Nor apparently the general public good in an emergency or just because it’s good. As Robert Evans said in the podcast It Could Happen Here, “People like us worry will my community & I survive & people like them worry - will I lose power? This tug of war between disaster & political experiences between preparing... and protecting your ass leads to a phenomenon called turbo paralysis.”
The pandemic, and other pressing problems for humans, will not get fixed by magic. And if we let those forcing normal, going to fancy conventions and parties, decide our future, I think we will be stuck in a turbo paralysis. The people at the helm of society clearly have to be pushed, incentivized, lobbied, circumvented and or maneuvered, by at least a portion of the population, if society is to take any direction that leads to progress or salubrious action away from an often toxic normal. For example, as the environmental movement mobilized 10% of Americans and then Nixon passed “an unparalleled, impressive legislative and political trifecta” in the wake of the first Earth Day in 1970.Additionally somehow most of the inhabitants of Pompei managed to flee the volcano. Only about 2,000 people out of around 20,000 actually stayed behind in Pompeii to get pyroclasted into a grim posterity. Seeing what’s happened lately, I have begun to suspect that some Pompeii elites convinced some of their “essential workers” to stay behind and keep the economy going - just in case it didn’t blow all to hell. But clearly not everyone bought into that, in fact most people in Pompeii were like the Sanitarians of the 1918 Pandemic, they escaped in time to live out the rest of their lives elsewhere.
That pull toward stasis is so strong that society’s leaders were still putting a picture of an emperor on coins 100 years after the fall of Rome, which John Michael Godier described as seeming “like there's this yearning to get back to that status quo”(ibid. footnote 42) - yeah, it sure does seem like it. But it’s a pitfall, sometimes a downfall, and definitely the cause of setbacks, when normalcy is prioritized over dealing with catastrophe, or just general needs. Around 4,000 Mayans fled from the well-off city Kiuic in the Yucatan, never to return because of droughts that they likely had managed through well enough for ages, that is - until it seems a political cult destabilized the whole region leaving kings and leaders to abandon infrastructure to engage in cult rituals and political clout chasing.
Emperors on coins being more appealing than steam engines, cult politics being a bigger draw than a working water supply. Doctors prioritizing in-person conventions and air travel over safe access to healthcare for their patients. Enter your current pet peeve with the powers that be here.
When we know better, we can surely do better
There have always been things that have come about for people that made things seem “abnormal” or upsetting. Pandemics plague human history after all. As do disasters and preparedness for them - such as the old Duck & Cover Drillsof the Cold War Era. People lament the need for active shooter drills in American schools, but who would protest “lockdown” during an active shooter situation? Nobody. As Beth of LongCovidLife on TikTok points out, we wouldn’t just stop going to the gym or promote junk food with the mantra of oh, “just live life!” Exercising, dieting, cleaning, keeping smoke alarms in your home, and other risk mitigating choices is a central part of living life. And when there’s a fire, we put it out. That’s what living life is about. We wear sturdy shoes while hiking and apply sunscreen lotion at the beach. We practice fire drills in big buildings. And there's a good reason for that since it’s been shown that if people can’t see the fire or smell the smoke, and nobody tells them about it, normalcy bias can even lead people to ignore an alarm going off. Modern situations require new solutions, not some return to “normal” baseline ignorance of a less safe past.
What we really want is continuity,and cognitive ease. And that could be achieved, with actual mitigations that are protective and salubrious. And we can even accustom ourselves and each other to these measures so they seem less disruptive & not so surprising. We don’t have to do forced normal, or HyperNormalisation. I don’t want to normalize the pod people pretending all is well like we’re in a remake of the creepy movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Normal is just an illusion anyway. Since things change all the time. Only change is constant. And we can change things for the better.
"The ultimate, hidden truth of the world is that it is something that we make, and could just as easily make differently."
- David Graeber, The Utopia of Rules, 2015
“It would be helpful if sanitarians would communicate with their United States Senators and Representatives regarding this important matter. Do it now.”
- James A Tobey, 1928
People’s CDC COVID-19 Weather Report, Week of December 12, 2022
Deaths: The week of December 7, 2981 people died of COVID nationally. We are approaching a quarter million deaths in 2022.
Nature Medicine: Long-term cardiac pathology in individuals with mild initial COVID-19 illness
Thus, the imaging findings suggest that inflammatory cardiac involvement after COVID may be a pathophysiological commonality shared among all individuals, regardless of the expression of cardiac symptoms. The underlying pathological mechanism for the detected increase in myocardial water content remains unclear at this stage and may relate to changes in vascular, cellular or interstitial permeability, but it is unlikely explained by direct myocyte injury/necrosis, as thought to be the core mechanism in classical viral myocarditis.
Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow, 2013
(Very little repetition is needed for a new experience to feel normal!) … A single incident may make a recurrence less surprising. Some years ago, my wife and I were vacationing in a small island resort on the Great Barrier Reef. There are only forty guest rooms on the island. When we came to dinner, we were surprised to meet an acquaintance, a psychologist named Jon. We greeted each other warmly and commented on the coincidence. Jon left the resort the next day. About two weeks later, we were in a theater in London. A latecomer sat next to me after the lights went down. When the lights came up for the intermission, I saw that my neighbor was Jon. My wife and I commented later that we were simultaneously conscious of two facts: first, this was a more remarkable coincidence than the first meeting; second, we were distinctly less surprised to meet Jon on the second occasion than we had been on the first. Evidently, the first meeting had somehow changed the idea of Jon in our minds. He was now “the psychologist who shows up when we travel abroad.” We (System 2) knew this was a ludicrous idea, but our System 1 had made it seem almost normal to meet Jon in strange places.
Normalcy bias From Wikipedia
Normalcy bias, or normality bias, is a cognitive bias which leads people to disbelieve or minimize threat warnings. Consequently, individuals underestimate the likelihood of a disaster, when it might affect them, and its potential adverse effects. The normalcy bias causes many people to not adequately prepare for natural disasters, market crashes, and calamities caused by human error. About 70% of people reportedly display normalcy bias during a disaster. The normalcy bias can manifest in response to warnings about disasters and actual catastrophes. Such disasters include market crashes, motor vehicle accidents, natural disasters like a tsunami, and war.
Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow, 2013
System 1 has been shaped by evolution to provide a continuous assessment of the main problems that an organism must solve to survive: How are things going? Is there a threat or a major opportunity? Is everything normal? Should I approach or avoid? The questions are perhaps less urgent for a human in a city environment than for a gazelle on the savannah, aalenc and e: How , but we have inherited the neural mechanisms that evolved to provide ongoing assessments of threat level, and they have not been turned off. Situations are constantly evaluated as good or bad, requiring escape or permitting approach. Good mood and cognitive ease are the human equivalents of assessments of safety and familiarity.
The Decision Lab: Why do we prefer things that we are familiar with?
The mere exposure effect can result in suboptimal decision-making. Good decisions are made by evaluating all possible courses of actions based on their effectiveness, not their familiarity. When deciding between alternatives, we shouldn’t be choosing the familiar option, we should be choosing the best option. This is because sometimes the best option is not the most familiar one. Sometimes the most effective course of action is the one that is unfamiliar to us. Moreover, sticking with what we know limits our exposure to new things, ideas, and viewpoints. This limits the range of choices we are able and willing to consider when making future decisions, and narrows the perspective from which we make them.
Public erupts w/ comments when health director calls masks authoritarian at San Fran public meeting, June 7, 2022
Joe A. Kunzler:To hear the comment that wearing masks is authoritarian is theatre of the absurd.
CBC: Pro wrestling isn't fake, it's 'kayfabe' — a mix of fiction and reality we all employ by Matthew Lazin-Ryder - Sep 02, 2022
"I think one of the things that fascinated me most about philosophy was a similar thing to kind of what kept me interested in wrestling: the difference between appearance and reality — that perception of things might not accurately map on to how things really are." An entry-level bit of philosophy is from Plato, in The Republic, written around 375 BC. It's called the allegory of the cave, and is often used as a metaphor for the difference between appearance and reality. Plato describes most of humanity as prisoners locked in a cave, watching shadow puppets on a wall. The prisoners think what they're seeing is real, despite the fact that it's a construction from powerful people behind a wall. If a prisoner should escape, they'd not only see that what they thought was reality was a construction, they could see the true nature of the world.
Teams Human: Maybe skip Pandemic Buttons by Chloe Humbert
The Scarlet Letter of green, yellow, & red badges, wrist bands, and stickers at "professional meetings" & elsewhere. Why are professional conventions and workplace meetings ditching sensible pandemic mitigation measures like occupancy limits, mask requirements, & air purifiers, but then choosing to go through all the trouble & expense of these weird red & green buttons & badges schemes?
TV Tropes: Lampshade Hanging
Lampshade Hanging (or, more informally, "Lampshading") is the writers' trick of dealing with any element of the story that threatens the audience's Willing Suspension of Disbelief, whether a very implausible plot development, or a particularly blatant use of a trope, by calling attention to it and simply moving on. This assures the audience that the author is aware of the implausible plot development that just happened, and that they aren't trying to slip something past the audience.
Statista: Number of smallpox cases recorded in the United States from 1900 to 1952
The number of smallpox cases in the United States fluctuated between 1900 and 1930, with as many as 110,000 reported cases in 1920, however the number of cases fell sharply in the 1930s, and there were no cases at all in the United States from 1950 onwards.
Big Commerce: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Brings Spectacle to the Season
Kunle Campbell, September 19, 2019
Macy’s parade is nothing less than a spectacle. Creating a large and ostentatious holiday campaign is one sure way of reaching a wide audience and generating chatter around your brand.
Smithsonian Magazine: What Caused the Roaring Twenties? Not the End of a Pandemic (Probably) by Lila Thulin - May 3, 2021
These social changes applied mostly to more well-off white women, since other groups of women had been working and having premarital sex well before the ’20s. Prohibition is the backbone of 1920s mythology, which paints drinking as a glamorous indiscretion.
Biden’s “new normal” on COVID is neither normal nor new By MARTHA LINCOLN - LORENZO SERVITJE - June 26, 2022
As only readers in their eighties or nineties will remember, Americans used to die easily and frequently from bacterial and viral infections such as pneumonia, influenza, and tuberculosis. In the late 1930s and early 1940s — just shy of the "Antibiotic Era" — these high rates of mortality from infectious disease diminished drastically, mostly due to decades' worth of public health interventions, including improvements in sanitation and hygiene. These achievements were bolstered by the ability to treat bacterial infections with an expanding arsenal of antimicrobial drugs. In just seven years — from 1943 to 1949 — Americans saw the age-adjusted death rate from influenza and pneumonia get cut in half, dropping from 101.7 deaths per 100,000 to 45.1 per 100,000.
American Journal of Public Health and THE NATION'S HEALTH - The Influenza Epidemic of 1928-1929 with Comparative Data for 1918-1919 * - Selwyn D. Collins - February 1930
It will be seen that since January 1, 1920, there have occurred six more or less definite epidemics. The epidemic of 1928-1929 was the most important since that of 1920. The peaks of these six epidemics occur all the way from the early part of January to the early part of May, and the peak of the pandemic of 1918-1919 occurred much earlier in the fall than was the case in 1928-1929.
From Wikipedia: Spanish flu - Misdiagnosis
During the deadly second wave there were also fears that it was in fact plague, dengue fever, or cholera. Another common misdiagnosis was typhus, which was common in circumstances of social upheaval, and was therefore also affecting Russia in the aftermath of the October Revolution. In Chile, the view of the country's elite was that the nation was in severe decline, and therefore doctors assumed that the disease was typhus caused by poor hygiene, and not an infectious one, causing a mismanaged response which did not ban mass gatherings
Google - Dictionary Definitions from Oxford Languages - sanitarians
noun: sanitarian; plural noun: sanitarians
an official responsible for public health or a person in favor of public health reform.
American Journal of Public Health - LAW AND LEGISLATION - JAMES A. TOBEY, LL. B., DR. P. H. Pass the Parker Bill - 1928 (NIH.gov)
Pass the Parker Bill-A vigorous resolution urging Congress to pass the Parker Bill for federal health coordination over the veto of the President was adopted by the Association at its 57th Annual Meeting in Chicago in October, 1928. The second session of the Seventieth Congress convenes December 3, 1928, and will adjourn March 3, 1929. The time for action is short, but there is time enough for this desirable procedure. The principles of the Parker Bill have been indorsed by the American Public Health Association every year since 1925, and Congress finally adopted the measure, somewhat amended, in May, 1928. Apparently due to the influence of General H. M. Lord, Director of the Budget, President Coolidge vetoed the bill on May 18, giving as reasons the fact that one section was considered un- constitutional and that the bill tended to " militarize " the U. S. Public Health Service. The palpable fallacies of these arguments have already been discussed in this department. Though the Parker Bill by the amendments lost a certain effectiveness, it is still a very important measure, especially in its provisions for allowing the detail of U. S. Public Health Service personnel to other government bureaus; in granting a commissioned status to sanitary engineers and other scientific personnel of the service; in providing for a Nurse Corps; and in setting up a national advisory health council. Sanitarians are still interested in this excellent measure and keenly desirous that it be passed now. If it is not, the bill must be reintroduced and passed all over again in the next Congress. It would be helpful if sanitarians would communicate with their United States Senators and Representatives regarding this important matter. Do it now.
John M. Barry - The Great Influenza, 2012
The strongest weapon against pandemic is the truth. Read why in the definitive account of the 1918 Flu Epidemic. Magisterial in its breadth of perspective and depth of research, The Great Influenza provides us with a precise and sobering model as we confront the epidemics looming on our own horizon.
John Barry Speaker Session Feb 2, 2022
The New York Times best selling author John M. Barry joined The World Health Network for an exclusive speaker session Feb 2, 2022, at 5pm EST to discuss his book The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History.
Teams Human: Mere Exposure Effect, leads to Exposure by Chloe Humbert
After repeated exposure to something it becomes familiar, and even if it’s false or bad, it can come to be viewed as true or acceptable - even favorable, simply because it feels familiar.
Common Dreams: We Are Not 'In This Together': The Biden Adminstration's Covid-19 Policy Is Still Killing Vulnerable People by Maggie Mills
This open disregard for human life has been presented by our government as a uniquely American obligation to respect each other's "choices". But having a neurological disease and compromised immune system during a pandemic is not a choice. Death and suffering have been normalized to such a horrific extent that the vulnerable are now expected remain "civil" when asking not to be disposed of so that others can keep social plans intact. The moral vacuum of the current moment is shocking. Those at high risk have been left to fend for ourselves. Most of us are hiding at home, looking for a meaningful way to divide up the 20,400 hours and counting we've spent trying to dodge Covid-19. Many of us have been forced to forgo essential medical care, isolate ourselves from our families and social networks, and choose between our lives and our livelihoods. In the absence of any financial support, many high-risk people who've been told that they should stay home can't afford to do so. The physical, psychological, and financial stress is overwhelming.
The Lever: How The Koch Network Hijacked The War On COVID, Dec 22, 2021 - Walker Bragman & Alex Kotch
As Omicron surges, a shadowy institute filled with fringe doctors appears to be part of big business’ two-year strategy to legitimize attacks on pandemic interventions.
CBC News: Joe Lunn spoke against lifting pandemic rules to protect the vulnerable. He died after contracting COVID-19, Sep 28, 2022
An immunocompromised man in Thunder Bay, Ont., who feared the consequences of relaxed public health measures died last month after testing positive for COVID-19. Joe Lunn, a heart transplant recipient, told CBC News in March that he was worried about the Ontario government's decision to do away with vaccine certificates in public places. He had also expressed concerns about its plans to end mask mandates, saying he felt safer in public when others were also taking precautions against spreading the virus.
Petition To: Canadian MPs, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos, The Canadian Government Needs to Distribute Free N95 Masks to the Provinces - Bill Comeau
There is one available protection that avoids lockdowns and stricter measures, has been proven to be effective in reducing infections, is benign, cannot be evaded by new variants, and adds little burden to the freedom of Canadians: masks.
People's CDC: The change in mask guidelines for healthcare is dangerous, unethical and based on flawed data
The new guideline recommended masks only need to be worn in healthcare settings when COVID Community Transmission rates are high, based on the CDC map. This change is dangerous, unethical and based on flawed data. Sign our Petition.
People’s CDC: Petition to Drug Stores: Stop In-Store COVID Exposure & Transmission!
Please join us in calling for pharmacies to stop the spread of COVID (and other viruses) inside stores by signing our petition. And we invite you to use this letter in part or full, if you’d like to send the message personally to your local drug store.
Teams Human: Essential Services Need Mask Requirements
A letter to send to government representatives, healthcare providers, transit authorities, store managers, and community leaders.
Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow, 2013
System 2 can reset the expectations of System 1 on the fly, so that an event that would normally be surprising is now almost normal. Suppose you are told that the three-year-old boy who lives next door frequently wears a top hat in his stroller. You will be far less surprised when you actually see him with his top hat than you would have been without the warning.
MarketWatch - People are ‘long social distancing’ due to COVID-19. Economists say that’s contributing to a drop in labor-force participation. By Zoe Han, December 2022
Knowing that COVID-19 has not gone away, some people are not yet prepared to let their guard down, according to a working paper distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Some 13% of U.S. workers said they will continue social distancing as the economy opens up and cases fall, and another 45% said they will do so in limited ways. Only 42% said they plan a “complete return” to the activities they participated in before the pandemic. The study, titled “Long Social Distancing,” estimated that unwillingness among workers to be in close proximity to others — which in many cases is prudent, especially for those who have underlying conditions or elderly relatives — reduced labor participation by 2.5 percentage points in the first half of 2022 compared with what economists would normally expect to see. That translates to $250 billion in potential annual output, representing a drop of nearly 1 percentage point.
PFE.N - Q1 2022 Pfizer Inc Earnings Call MAY 03, 2022 / 2:00PM GMT
Angela Hwang - Pfizer Inc. - Group President of Biopharmaceuticals Group
So I think when you add all of this up, what we are seeing is the fact that there is demand for this product. We also see that the social -- the removal of the mask mandate, the social distancing requirements that have been removed. You also know that in the EU that just in the last week, they've removed the emergency period of the EUA. That means that people are going to get out there. We know with all of that, infections are going to increase, and that's the role that PAXLOVID can play. So we're intently focused on working with national governments, state governments, in helping them to educate, to take great lessons learned from around all the different countries to help them to utilize PAXLOVID. And importantly, what we're also seeing is that it's not as -- we don't have any inventory on hand. Every dose that we produce is being shipped out and is being ordered. So I think all of these give us a lot of confidence that there is a demand for PAXLOVID. We know what we need to do to support the utilization of PAXLOVID, and we'll continue to drive that throughout the year as we anticipate further surges in COVID infections.
Teams Human: The Pfizer earnings call: profits driven by surges
At the 2022 1st quarter Pfizer Inc earnings call4, Angela Hwang said with the removal of mask mandates and the emergency period, “That means that people are going to get out there. We know with all of that, infections are going to increase, and that's the role that PAXLOVID can play.” Hwang also said they’re “intently focused” on working with governments, and that there’s “a lot of confidence that there is a demand for PAXLOVID” and that they “anticipate further surges” of infections.
National Nurses United Press Release: Increased RSV infections are not due to “immunity debt,” but failure to protect public health
Many children were already exposed to and infected with RSV in 2021. In fact, the positivity rates for RSV were higher in 2021 than they are now in the United States. Additionally, RSV infections only provide partial immunity, and individuals remain susceptible to repeat infections throughout their lives. Unfortunately, the CDC appears to be promoting this idea of “immunity debt” as the reason behind the current surge in respiratory viruses and hospitalization, especially among children. During the CDC’s Nov. 4 media advisory, the agency explicitly stated that because of a lack of immunity, “these children, if you will, need to become infected to move forward because it’s a disease [RSV] very common in children.” However, claiming that children need to become infected to clear their “immunity debt” provides little benefit to children, ignores individual risks for severe infections (particularly among immunocompromised children), and disregards the science about the virus.
Folkhalsomyndigheten.se (The Public Health Agency of Sweden) (video)
Films for ongoing campaign, Women who bathe in a sauna (in Swedish 4:5, subtitled) The film is available in Swedish and Polish, the format is 4x5 and 9x16.
Liu Xin刘欣 @LiuXininBeijing China state-affiliated media posted on twitter
COVID is not something to fear. Even if you are infected you can boost your immune system to mitigate the effects. Li says. "The severe type of COVID is not caused by COVID itself. The virus storms the immune system. Chinese medicine can stop symptoms from becoming too severe."
Commentary: Elite Panic vs. the Resilient Populace by James B. Meigs, May 2020
Disaster researchers call this phenomenon “elite panic.” When authorities believe their own citizens will become dangerous, they begin to focus on controlling the public, rather than on addressing the disaster itself. They clamp down on information, restrict freedom of movement, and devote unnecessary energy to enforcing laws they assume are about to be broken. These strategies don’t just waste resources, one study notes; they also “undermine the public’s capacity for resilient behaviors.” In other words, nervous officials can actively impede the ordinary people trying to help themselves and their neighbors. As in war, the first casualty in disasters is often the truth. One symptom of elite panic is the belief that too much information, or the wrong kind of information, will send citizens reeling. Elite panic frequently brings out another unsavory quirk on the part of some authorities: a tendency to believe the worst about their own citizens. Too often, the need to “avoid panic” serves as a retroactive justification for all manner of official missteps.
Coviding Less Facebook Group
This is a space for those of us who were "still coviding" and are now looking to loosen up, branch out, maybe try things we've avoided since March 2020. This group is NOT about dropping all precautions and returning to "normal" pre-pandemic life. This group is about doing more, but doing it thoughtfully and still cautiously. This group is evolving.
Teams Human: The risky shift - you’re not imagining it by Chloe Humbert
The Risky Shift Effect is the term for how groups sometimes veer toward groupthink accepting and promoting more risk over time.1 The group trolley cart wheels do sometimes have a pull toward risk, pushing the envelope, and sometimes things go sideways off the rails. Some won’t notice it at all, and that’s because they’re going along with the shift. Others will notice the shift and feel compelled to go along with it anyway. During this ongoing pandemic I have noticed this tendency, and I’ve heard many such stories from others. There are many examples of groups veering toward normalizing less caution over time.
“Fear Is Spreading Faster than SARS” – And So It Should! by Peter M. Sandman and Jody Lanard (Risk = Hazard + Outrage, The Peter Sandman Risk Communication Website) 2003
The paradox is that efforts to squelch the anxiety (“allay the public’s fear” is the usual phrase) can actually induce the panic it aims to prevent. Resilience is likelier when authorities ally with the anxiety, harness it, and steer it instead of trying to prevent it. Of course even superb handling of the public’s fears may not prevent panic if the epidemic gets bad enough. There has often been some panic during the great epidemics of the past. But panic will be likelier and more widespread if the authorities have been minimizing the risk than if they have been acknowledging it candidly and compassionately. This is partly about false positives and false negatives – what the medical profession calls “the worried well” and what we might appropriately call the complacent sick. One of the lessons the SARS epidemic has taught us, or retaught us, is that a few sick people who are insufficiently concerned (or insufficiently screened) can wreak havoc.
HyperNormalisation (2016) by Adam Curtis, documentary (youtube video)
We live in a strange time. Extraordinary events keep happening that undermine the stability of our world. Suicide bombs, waves of refugees, Donald Trump Vladimir Putin, even Brexit. Yet those in control seem unable to deal with it. And no one has any vision of a different or a better kind of future. This film will tell the story of how we got to this strange place. It is about how over the past 40 years politicians, financiers and technological utopians, rather than face up to the real complexities of the world - retreated. Instead, they constructed a simpler version of the world in order to hang on to power. And as this fake world grew, all of us went along with it because the simplicity was reassuring. Even those who thought they were attacking the system - the radicals, the artists, the musicians, and our whole counterculture actually became part of the trickery. Because they too had retreated into the make-believe world. Which is why their opposition has no effect and nothing ever changes. But this retreat into a dream world allowed dark and destructive forces to fester and grow outside. Forces that are now returned to pierce the fragile surface of our carefully constructed fake world.
Popular Mechanics: Why Heron's Aeolipile Is One of History's Greatest Forgotten Machines By Addison Nugent, Nov 29, 2020
Some debate has been put forth as to whether or not Heron was truly the first to invent the aeolipile. One Heron’s idols Ctesibius (285 B.C. - 222 B.C.) wrote several treatises on the science of compressed air and its use in pumps. Later, Vitruvius (c. 80 B.C. - 15 B.C.) described a device, also called the aeolipile, that consisted of a metal ball partially filled with water placed above a fire to produce steam forced out of an aperture at the top. But Vitruvius doesn’t describe any moving parts, a key distinction from Heron’s vision.
John Michael Godier’s Event Horizon: Hidden History of the Ancient World with Dr. Garrett Ryan (youtube video / audio podcast)
Auto-Transcript: Garrett Ryan: in the Roman World there is no industry catalyzing this development you know there are innovators like Heron of Alexandria who have obviously the skills to make machines you know the aeolipile heron steam engine is not very efficient in itself but it's the principles are all there um for a practical steam engine he could have done it if he wanted to but he didn't want to because there was no need for it there was no demand for it you know there are applications certainly um for things like it you know the the English famously the first steam engines are pumping out mines you know in places like the Midlands and Wales um and the Romans had their own deep mines in Spain they could have pumped out with steam engines um but they never made that particular leap because there wasn't this culture of innovation there wasn't this uh drive to incentivize um anything like it and so I think it was never likely that the Romans were going to make the leap to a Industrial Revolution just because um the people running Society the whole bent of the culture was towards stasis basically towards keeping things in the status quo keeping things stable and not in funding these madcap ventures and when there was no obvious goal for those Ventures John Michael Godier: that's interesting because we might actually have an example that backs that up if you look at the fall the end or the actually the dissipation of the Western Roman Empire it continues on in some form in that you've got these these Visigoths and these all these groups still putting a picture of an emperor on their coinage for at least 100 years into the Dark Ages and then lo and behold you know Charlemagne comes along and you which was 800 A.D and he looks like a Roman Empire Emperor on his coins so you it seems like there's this yearning to get back to that status quo where else do you see that in in that period Garrett Ryan: well I mean really that the whole political culture of the Middle Ages is made in the shadow of Rome and it's hearkening back to Rome so that's the great Exemplar you know that's the Empire that worked the the incredible stability of the Empire until the very end stuck people's minds
It Could Happen Here Podcast: Into The Wild Orange Yonder, Robert Evans (audio podcast)
Most of these [elites] are just as blindsided by the disasters racking our world as anyone else. Because they’re the kind of people who are capable of taking power they look out for themselves first. and in chaotic and dangerous times [elites] default to what they know best leaning on culture war bullsh!t and hiding from scrutiny. The sheer amount of information coming in can be blinding and the best course of action is generally unclear. Elites are actually more likely to be blinded in these situations than the rest of us. A mayor or a president has much more info incoming & his concern is always more complex than what needs to be done to protect people… what is politically safe? what do my donors want? and how will what I do be spun by the media? are also on his mind. People like us worry will my community & I survive & people like them worry will I lose power? this tug of war between disaster & political experiences between preparing... and protecting your ass leads to a phenomenon called turbo paralysis.
Commemorating Earth Day with a Little Legislative History Jonathan Coppess Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics University of Illinois April 22, 2022 farmdoc daily (12):55
Forged in the wake of an oil spill and by the flames of a burning river, history demarks the origins of the modern environmental on the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, amid the troubles and turmoil of the Vietnam War at the end of the tumultuous 1960s. Within the first four years of its existence, the movement achieved an unparalleled, impressive legislative and political trifecta. The National Environmental Protection Act (1970), the Clean Air Act (1970), and the Clean Water Act (1972) were all enacted by strong, bipartisan votes across two congresses. In addition, President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970 with Congressional acquiescence.
NBC News: Pompeii family's final hours reconstructed
“75 to 92 percent of the residents escaped the town at the first signs of the crisis”
Sightseeing Tours Italy: Did anyone survive in Pompeii?
“Archaeologists have determined from past documents and artefacts that there were around 20,000 people living within the city at the time of the eruption. From studying the skeleton remains, they estimated that around 2,000 people died in the eruption.”
Teams Human: Alarm is appropriate, the volcano is erupting by Chloe Humbert
The the story of Pompeii is riveting. One may be led to think initially that the people frozen in place by the volcano were merely caught unaware. But only about 2,000 people out of around 20,000 actually stayed behind in Pompeii to get pyroclasted into a grim posterity. The vast majority were alarmists who fled the city — in abject fear of the volcano… and escaped in time and therefore lived out the rest of their lives. What led that minority to stay behind? Normalcy bias? Propaganda? I wonder if perhaps elites convinced some essential workers that they needed to stay behind and keep the economy going. Perhaps some felt they had no other good option and just hoped for the best.
Lost World of the Maya | National Geographic (youtube video)
Auto Transcript: Bill Ringle: perhaps a better way to think about it is a political ideology and of course it had religious overtones cult's perhaps the wrong word because it suggests something kind of small-scale and extra-governmental this was political ideology front and center George Bey: the maya knew about droughts they were probably a civilization designed to respond not only to managing rainwater but managing a lack of rainwater too it's not a surprise they left what becomes the question for us is why they don't come back Narrator: so why didn't stairway's residents and the king of Kiuic survive these droughts as they clearly had in the past the extreme intensity of these droughts was disastrous making a carefully managed response their only hope but bey and ringle speculate the north's political establishment was falling into disarray distracted by the cult of the feathered serpent Bill Ringle: the collapse in the northern mile apparently began during the 9th century and that's also the time period during which this feathered serpent ideology was introduced and this undoubtedly led to rivalries with respect to power brokering Narrator: Ringle thinks the political situation may have become so extreme that there was no longer any governmental system capable of organizing their return. with a stable government the northern maya might have survived but it wasn't to be and within a century the major cities and towns of the north just like the south were left in ruins today the empty jungles of the yucatan serve as a reminder that even great civilizations can fail
Virginia Museum of History & Culture: Duck and Cover: Civil Defense in Virginia in the 1950s
President Harry Truman established the Federal Civil Defense Administration (FCDA) in 1950 after the outbreak of the Korean War. As part of the Alert America campaign, the FCDA flooded the public with some 400 million pieces of survival literature that attempted to educate and reassure people that simple civil defense procedures would protect them from a nuclear attack. People received maps showing evacuation routes, families were encouraged to build their own bomb shelters, and countless schoolchildren watched the movie “Duck and Cover” and practiced hiding under their desks when they “see the flash.”
Beth LongCovidLife New Heights in Covid Denialism (TikTok video)
If we were talking about heart disease, kills millions of people every year. No one would go — People die every day. I'm not gonna go to the gym, I'm gonna stock up on my fried foods and just live life right? People with this mindset have had to become so flippant to death and disability to justify their own selfish actions. It’s heartbreaking that we’ve ended up here.
Human behaviour during a fire alarm | iHASCO (youtube video)
Members of the public being secretly filmed, a fire alarm is activated. What do they do What would you do? This excellent piece of film shows the importance of a fire warden and fire awareness
Human beings possess a deep-rooted and insistent need for continuity. Once we understand the anxieties associated with the loss of cherished convictions, the tenacity of clinging to old beliefs can be understood. We often argue, for instance, about the need for social change, and we tend to explain conservatism as ignorance, cowardice, or protection of privilege. This is true in some cases, but our resistance to change is often traceable to a universal conservative impulse, which is more pervasive and profound than simple prejudice or class interest.