Strange Times

If you asked me 3 months ago if I would be looking for toilet paper for 4 days and then waiting behind 2,000 socially distanced fellow costumers at our Costco to get some, I’d have thought you were nuts. And then, like a happy Muscovite of the 70s, I was able to get some.  Because you can do without a lot of consumer items, but toilet paper isn’t one of those items.

Of course things were different for a Muscovite under the Communist Party versus here. In the Soviet Union, if people saw a line, they automatically got into it because they knew there was something worth waiting for.

And here our shelves are full , other than paper items and hand cleaner.

In Sacramento, a key to knowing that the state workers aren’t working is the freeways. And the freeways have been fairly clear.

To tell you the truth, at this time I was supposed to be on the road. I had originally intended to go to Brazil, and when this started to break, felt another road trip around the US (and possibly bits of Ontario, Canada) would be fine.

These days it’s a matter of calling to see who is open and who isn’t. Found out I can still take my old SL to my independent shop friend, where he rebuilt much of the front suspension among other things. So the car, at 203,000 miles, will be ready to hit the road when it is possible.

For many years, I was amused at my germaphopic sister. Until recently, she worked in the test kitchen of a Fortune 100 company, helping to determine what you see on your supermarket shelf. She’d get a  bit nuts in my opinion as to refrigeration expiration dates. Among other germ-related things.

But lately I am seeing her point. For the most part.

In general, I think a few bad germs are good for you. Keeps your immune system busy and strong.

Although I believe that if we knew what every door handle or fuel pump handle contained, we wouldn’t want to leave our homes. These days I carry latex gloves to handle the fuel pump, but I don’t dwell on the bugs. I wash my hands a bit more.

And some of the numbers I have read from several sources about this virus verify the importance of a strong immune system.

50% of people will get it but not even know that they have it. 30% will recuperate at home, and the remaining 20% will require hospitalization.

And if you die from it, generally there will be another pre-existing condition that taxes the immune system. Not always but in all probability.

As I have said from time to time, I enjoy history. And almost buried in history is the Spanish Flu Pandemic from 1918-1920.

Because the “Great War” was such a cataclysmic event, nearly buried is the fact that the epidemic killed far more people right after that war- an estimated 50-100 million people.

And I learned something interesting about it yesterday – According to the author of this book, it started in 1918 at an Army base in Kansas *.  And how did it become known as the Spanish Flu?

To maintain morale, World War I censors minimized early reports of illness and mortality in Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States. Newspapers were free to report the epidemic’s effects in neutral Spain, such as the grave illness of King Alfonso XIII, and these stories created a false impression of Spain as especially hard hit. This gave rise to the name Spanish flu. 

As a strain, I wonder if this COVID-19 is as deadly as that Spanish Flu? Hard to say. Certainly the numbers don’t even approach the 1918 pandemic. As of this evening, in the world there have been officially 1,260,104 cases with 69,082 deaths.

Officially.

182 countries are affected.

The world is a lot more connected than it was in 1918. I doubt in 1918 that they even knew about social distancing or viruses.

Just my opinion, but the connectivity can be a double-edge sword. Anyone can pose as an expert, and anyone can post to YouTube.

Plus we probably haven’t been getting true data. Back in the early 60s, when mainframes were first becoming widespread in large companies, these computers were considered infallible  and programmers were considered as a priesthood guarding the data, they had a saying called GIGO.

Garbage In, Garbage Out.

Predictions and models are only as good as the data we apply.

Is this a transformational event? 

There has been an ongoing battle in the west between the globalists and the nationalists.

The recent elections in the US and the UK are a reflection of that battle. President Trump was elected in a major part by millions of Americans who were disaffected by the loss in manufacturing overseas. And the Brits voted to leave the EU.

Is it wise to have critical segments of your economy and country – such as prescription medicine – manufactured overseas in countries?

Subject to their own needs?

Or whim?

BEIJING, China, March 16, 2020 (LifeSiteNews 1) ― A communist-controlled Chinese newspaper threatened that if China banned drug and medicine exports to the United States, America would be helpless to combat an epidemic.

Stung by America closing its borders to travelers from the coronavirus-ravaged country, China’s state-controlled news service Xihua stated, “If China retaliates against the United States at this time, in addition to announcing a travel ban on the United States, it will also announce strategic control over medical products and ban exports to the United States.”

“Then the United States will be caught in the ocean of new coronaviruses,” it continued.

We even learned about some of our multinational corporations. Most such as GM have been stepping up to the emergency –  making critical items such as ventilators – but at least 1 – 3M, had been selling their N95 masks not to our medical people here who desperately need them, but overseas people. That simply offered cash.

It apparently mattered little to most of  their brokers – some 20 of them. But it did matter to at least one broker.

As reported here last Monday, brokers in the U.S. have been facilitating sales of N95 masks to foreign buyers throughout the health crisis. I shadowed one broker who refuses to sell to foreign buyers during the pandemic, but the broader sales network—unrestricted by U.S. laws that have allowed the export of medical supplies around the world—includes players engaged in these deals.

After this story broke, reporting appeared in multiple news outlets showing that foreign exports of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies have been continuing during the pandemic.  
President Trump in the last day or so invoked the Defense Production Act, which will prohibit the exportation of these critical items.

…By the end of last week, an exchange erupted between the Trump administration and the 3M Company MMM (makers of N95 masks) regarding use of the Defense Production Act to influence production and limit export of critical medical supplies. President Trump said in a tweet: “We hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their Masks. “P Act” all the way. Big surprise to many in government as to what they were doing – will have a big price to pay!”3M released a statement saying “3M and its employees have gone above and beyond to manufacture as many N95 respirators as possible for the U.S. market,” and warning that “ceasing all exports of respirators produced in the United States would likely cause other countries to retaliate and do the same, as some have already done.”

But other countries, protecting their own interests, had already restricted their own exports.

In fact, back in January China starting buying billions of masks overseas, leaving hospitals in those countries critically short of those items.

When the Wuhan-originated virus was at its peak, the Chinese government went on a global campaign to recruit Chinese-owned companies in foreign countries to raid stocks of the items … China saw a ‘rapid growth in imports of commodities and key consumer goods’ comprising 2.46 billion medical supply items.

There will be some transformation in America. How extensive it will be remains to be seen.

I hope that I can take that trip soon.

 

 


 

*Full Disclosure: I did not read the book, but an Internet acquaintance of mine of many years, and a published author and retired respected surgeon, had read [see comments] the above referenced book. 

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