The above image and caption is from the CDC site. https://www.cdc.gov/media/subtopic/images.htm
I could not emphasize enough that not one of you, nor I, can explain that caption.
If I break it down grammatically, like 8th grade sentence-diagramming, it says, “The particles contain cross-sections.”
What does that mean? Is there a problem when particles contain cross-sections?
Beyond this, “spherical extracellular viral”, and “through the viral genome”, and “seen as black dots” are also utterly unintelligible to me. To be clear, I’m saying that even after reading “seen as black dots,” it would be silly for me to say, “Oh, I see what you mean,” given that the entire image is black dots against a white backdrop.
COVID is black dots? Stop the press!! It’s all over my phone screen!
All this is on my mind partly because of that line I included in my recent “stupid” post about the stupidity of COVID illustrations, and partly because I’ve been listening to a podcast called “Closer To Truth” which is some sort of fun “X-Files”-feeling, state-of-physics-today (in layman’s terms) show. It generally accomplishes its purpose, but the other day one of the interviewees referred to an illustration to make his point about multiverses and the size of everything. This use of illustration to explain truth, then, triggered me again.
The simple fact is using illustrations to convey truth bothers me.
A little backstory: Before modern script writing, like alphabets and even syllabaries before them, man often used something like emoji’s to communicate across great distance, time or space. We might call them pictograms or hieroglyphs. And when it came to numbers, some cultures used certain animals to express differences between say hundreds, thousands, and whatever they thought (but couldn’t utter) was bigger than thousands. A cow might mean hundreds, a frog, thousands, and an infamous one to express the largest amount was a stick figure of a man apparently examining the grandness of the starry night with open arms. To our eyes and ears and minds, this fact—this use of pictograms by our ancestors—is intriguing at best, and downright embarrassing at worst. But here we are again, using artist’s renditions to explain “truth”.
So what should happen instead? Here’s an example. If you’re tempted to ask, “Is there a multiverse?” The person you’re asking should say, “That’s the wrong question.” (The physicists would admit that.) The right question is, “Will our children think the idea of a universe is a quaint, but obsolete understanding of things, in the category of earth-as-center?”
And my point here is not physics, but reasoning, dignity in fact, so I need to say that if my children are going to think in terms of multiverse, they’d be fools for doing so because of illustrations. This is no different than how I believe you’re foolish if any part of your atheism or belief in evolution comes from the illustrated sequence of a monkey gradually standing upright.
Same goes for COVID. Is there a new virus or illness or health issue on Earth? Whatever our opinion, we’d be foolish if we based it on an illustration.
Another example of getting at truth properly: I knew I could be a pilot because I saw planes fly.
And another (negatively): Not one writer of the Bible uses an illustration—whether clay, or ink, or tapestry—to persuade either their contemporary audience or us.
I must insist on decrying the use of illustration when it comes to truth because, interestingly enough, the experts keep using it. At its root, an illustration can only ever be truth in the sense that the illustration commissioner, upon reviewing the piece, says, “That’s exactly what’s in my mind.” That the illustration matches his imagination can be true, but that does not move the argument along. The further—and necessary—step of “…and what’s in my mind is truth,” is not contained in or advanced by the truth that the illustration matches the mind. The man behind the imagination still has work to do. The truth debate is between individuals. Talk to me. Use your words. I’ll listen.
Don’t be fooled, folks. If someone pulls out an illustration to answer your truth question, still or motion, assert your manhood or womanhood; give yourself dignity and ask them to use their words.
In the podcast episode linked here: Uncommon Knowledge, you’ll hear an excellent episode about the pandemic.
Two key points: Herd Immunity is defined as when you spread the virus to one person or less—not some miraculous moment when a community is completely free of the disease.
Secondly, the interviewee preaches harder than any actual sermon I’ve heard in years and years and years—and he doesn’t even raise his voice (nor is he a preacher). He says that all the folks claiming to want to protect the poor, the elderly, and the children in pre-pandemic times had their chance to shine during the pandemic—and blew it. Those groups have all suffered the most because of the lockdowns. (If you’re not seeing the connection, try, the people who were going to stay employed during lockdown were all in favor of it, no matter who said what about how negatively it would effect the poor, the elderly, and the children of the world. Way to go, hypocrites!)
Okay. I feel like this second point may turn-off some possible listeners, so I want to be clear. The doctor guy didn’t rub it in anyone’s faces or anything. He’s compelling throughout. I rub it in their faces because I am under the stress that we all are this week as we see what happens to our co-workers come Nov. 1.
In the last such post, I offered that one handle on the pandemic was to consider that it was the result of the absolutely damnable wasted opportunity to keep our citizenry educated. (Public Schools must be abolished.) Today, I want to comment on another aspect of the uncertainty, and in so doing add a second handle.
Much like an earlier post which attempted to take a god’s eye view of white-collar managers’ all-time favorite sport of office-switching, which I wrote in order to lambast the clearly superficial effort that somehow still takes place, today we’ll similarly view the present uncertainty with a view from the sky.
To do this right, we need to spend a minute on assumptions. There are six.
1. To be a pilot you must be brave. So in a pilot’s eyes, everyone choosing to alter their lives because they might die is cowardly. When afraid, learn. Your fear will disappear with knowledge.
2. Normally, to be cowardly is thought of as weak and unmanly, but for the purposes of this thought experiment, it’s fine. Because at least we know where each other stands. And now that you’ve admitted your fear, you can overcome it.
3. We know that the virus doesn’t kill us at an alarming rate. So we shouldn’t fear contracting the virus. Got CoVid? So what? Yet we still live in fear.
4. We know the positive test result doesn’t mean we will have symptoms. Tested positive? So what? Yet we still live in fear.
5. We know that people who wear masks still test positive and still show symptoms and still die from the virus. You’re wearing a mask?! So what? Yet we still wear masks. Yet we still fear.
6. Another assumption: Something should be different today due to the timeline being different. Just like our perspective changes the higher our altitude, our understanding of the situation should be different now than it was in March. Why? We’ve had more time.
Assumptions stated. Now let’s talk.
So what’s the difference? We now know that the only real burden the pandemic places on us is that we don’t have enough hospital rooms/beds. That’s it. If there were enough hospital beds, the, ahem, leaders would have nothing to write home about. If there were enough hospital beds, we’d no longer be afraid. If there were enough hospital beds, we’d know, in precisely the same way as we do with all the other diseases we’ve been living under threat of, that if we get sick, we go to the hospital.
Now let’s imagine I’m really onto something and that we fix it. More hospital beds? Poof! Done.
Now let’s take a look at our planet from the heavens. With me? What do you see? Yup. Me too. We moved people from one place to another.
Aren’t we smart?
Aren’t we compassionate?
Aren’t we little scientists?
Aren’t we really doing it?
Here’s the thing. As I get older, I’ve been struck by the thought that you’re not older than me. You’re either the poor performing football star of high school or the poor performing partier of college. In both cases, you never learned how to read. You didn’t know what you were doing then, and you still don’t. And yet you get a thrill out of having something to do. Well, guess what? You’re still illiterate. And if you’re not reading, then you aren’t doing anything. You’re certainly not helping. You’re middle management at best.
Building a hospital bed helps stop the pandemic? I won’t have to wear a mask because we built more hospital beds? Are you serious?
You were a placeholder before the uncertainty began and you’ll be a placeholder when the uncertainty is over. Why? Who knows? Because you want to be. That’s probably why. What I’m asking is that you stop playing adult and start living as one. Life includes disease. No amount of hospital beds can fix that. Have a different fear than running out of hospital beds? Fear something besides “overburdening” the healthcare system? I’m all ears. And then I’ll help you overcome that one. For now, stop telling me what to do. You’re as stupid as you were in high school and college. I didn’t listen to you then. I won’t listen to you now.
Mitch Albom released an Op/Ed that reads no different than anything I’ve ever consumed of his, which is albeit not too much. He has a knack for reasonableness. Today, he was not reasonable. That’s because, today, he defended scapegoating.
In his post, “Coronavirus represents a war of the Everyman,” Mr. Albom asserts, “In fact, I would argue, it’s the biggest issue question facing the U.S. today. How many can be sacrificed? What’s the ‘dead’ number we can live with?”
Later, while arguing that the disease is no less dangerous despite any flattening curve, he writes, “You can get this disease, not know you have it, act irresponsibly, spread it, and indirectly be responsible for someone’s death. If that doesn’t bother you, then you are either soulless, or a president who thinks it’s cute to not wear a mask in an auto plant where everyone else must.”
And to kick things off, before unleashing those two doozies, he describes the virus as, “…a monster that attacks through the air but is animated by unlikely foot soldiers: Ourselves.”
At first, it sounds like he is sticking to undeniable and unassailable truths, but listen closer a second time.
“What’s the dead number we can live with?”
Now wait for it…
“You can…indirectly be responsible for someone’s death.”
Mr. Albom: someone’s body’s inability to heal itself from a virus does not make asymptomatic me responsible for their death.
Reader, wait! Before you think me callous, lend me your ear.
If all asymptomatic folks get back to normal life, no mask, no social distancing, no nothing—a return to actual normal life—handshakes and hugs, then what happens? We diffuse the blame. That’s what happens.
It won’t have been that the right-wing, gun-toting nut-jobs currently storming the Bastille caused the second wave, the second peak. And it can’t become the socialist, no consequence libtards who claim, “It was Trump!” that smugly prevent the second wave, the second peak.
Like the Senate who took down Caesar as a group, it will be all of us who are indirectly responsible for all COVID deaths. And when “all of us” are responsible, it means “none of us” are responsible.
As clearly as I know how: Asymptomatic individual humans will never be culpable or responsible, directly or indirectly, for deaths during “pandemics.” That is, unless asymptomatic individuals keep behaving in such a manner as to create scapegoats.
Mr. Albom: Don’t put on the mask. I know you’re scared. But sometimes people die. You of all people should know this.
Actually, every time, people die.
And Mr. Albom: Guess what? You aren’t responsible. Your pen can’t stop death. Your words can’t stop death. Your research can’t stop death. Your experts can’t stop death. Your mask can’t stop death. But your behavior can relieve your pain like a laugh can relieve sadness. Don’t put on the mask. You won’t have killed anyone, no different than before.
But when asymptomatic you puts on the mask, you put on something more. No different than Aaron the Israelite Priest of old put the sin on the goat, you put the virus on me.