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    • Let me first say I don’t mean to make light of the coronavirus with this the title of this thread. All of us should be washing our hands for 20+ seconds, staying in if we feel sick, and following the advice of CDC. I also understand that coronavirus has taken lives and I don’t want to minimize the loss of any life. 

      With that out of the way, something that has been on my mind is how the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) reveals just how woefully underprepared we are both as a nation and as a global community to handle a really serious virus. I’m not saying COVID-19 isn’t serious. It is, but thankfully it doesn’t seem to greatly harm people who are below the age of 60 and don’t have serious preexisting conditions. In some ways that makes this virus more dangerous in that it makes the vast bulk of the population not care about it as much as they should, but on the other hand, it is a fact that most of us will likely get this virus and end up not experiencing serious health consequences as a result. It’s like a variant of the flu/pneumonia only we don’t yet have a vaccine for it. 

      Once we do get a vaccine for COVID-19, my understanding is we should be fine and long-term, I believe that we will be fine. At least when it comes to this particular virus. It’s not like it’s the first coronavirus that we’ve encountered and it most certainly won’t be the last. 

      However, what if COVID-19 not only was a major threat to the elderly but also to younger people as well? What if it spread even easier and faster than it does? What if it wasn’t so easily remedied by soap and water? What if it was much more dangerous to an even higher percentage of the population? Would we be able to handle a virus or outbreak of that nature? 

      So far, it looks like we wouldn’t. That I think is what’s most frightening. One thing I want to compare this to is earthquakes. Out here in the Bay Area, we talk a lot about getting ready for “The Big One.” The 8.0 or greater earthquake that could cause mass amounts of destruction. 

      We need to also think about getting ready for “The Big One” on a global scale when it comes to the possibility of a mass outbreak of a deadly disease or virus. Going back to an earthquake analogy, it looks to me like the coronavirus is the equivalent of a moderate/strong earthquake. A moderate ranges from 5.0 to 5.9 and a strong earthquake ranges from 6.0-6.9. This feels to be in between those two ranges, so somewhere between 5.5 and 6.5. An earthquake that will do slight damage to buildings and other structures, but may do a lot of damage in very populated areas. Perhaps some of that will be determined by how effectively we respond to it. 

      But, what could be around the corner is a viral outbreak that’s the equivalent of a major earthquake (7.0-7.9) or a great earthquake (8.0 or more). A major earthquake does “serious damage.” A great earthquake “can totally destroy communities near the epicenter.” What we could be staring down the barrel in the future if we don’t take this outbreak seriously is a viral infection of epic, biblical proportions that can totally destroy communities. 

      So, if you’re wondering why we should take coronavirus seriously, in my opinion that’s why. We need to view this as a humble reminder that our lives can change in an instant thanks to a virus or a disease. If we take this seriously and do our absolute best to learn from this, we could save who knows how many lives. If we don’t take this seriously, we may end up in a situation that makes this coronavirus nightmare seem like a bad little dream. That is what should be motivating us to nip this in the bud and learn as much as we can. 

      Finally, I believe staying calm and keeping a level head is the key here. Panicking and freaking out like it’s the end of the world does nobody good. Once again, we need to take this seriously in a cool, calm, and collected way so that we are better prepared for something that is even worse. 

      We’ll get through COVID-19. This won’t be the virus that kills all of us. The vast bulk of us will be fine. But the possibility of an even more serious outbreak coming along and doing even more damage has to have us on the edge of our seats. It highlights into focus the importance of funding the sciences, medicine, and the very real threat that viruses and diseases have. We need to view this as a trial run and learn as much from this as we can. 

      Note: Click here to check out the earthquake models I was referencing. 

    • I think the first thing we need to do in primary school is to teach children not to touch their face so that when they are adults that nasty habit has been trained out of them.

    • It is a good idea

      Just got a Remind Message from PTO that they are collecting money for donations for food as so many more people will not have work over next few weeks and then also offering to drop off food.

    • Except elementary school students in Taiwan don't get bused to school. They either walk or get taken there by their parents. One usually don't live too far from one's elementary school (they seem to be all over the place) and so busing them insn't exactly feasible or economical. But I like the idea for other countries.

    • As someone who is living in Taiwan where we have been dealing with this for almost two months now, I find the reactions in the Western world right now a little strange. I can understand the reasons why things are getting closed and suspended and postponed and cancelled and all that and why people are worried, but on the other hand, I think a lot of people are really over-reacting. Here in Taiwan all we have done as a result of COVID-19 -- which was back when the Western world didn't think about it too much -- was stipulate that people taking public transportation had to wear a mask, delay the start of the second semester of school for two weeks, and tell everyone to wash their hands. I still get my temperature checked every morning when I get to the school, but right now that's all I have to worry about in regards to COVID-19. And the fact that it might be a long time before I am able to go back home.

    • I read it twice, first several years ago, and just now after seeing your recommendation, and I am still wondering why I read it in the first time 😟 I just didn't find it that engaging.

      It just seemed too neatly contrived. Maybe that's just my overly critical opinion at work. Or maybe Shakespeare and Sci-fi is too big a leap for my mind.

      I love Shakespeare, and I love good Sci-fi but find good Sci FI too rarely.

      I wonder what others thought about "Station Eleven" ??

    • I liked it well enough. It was definitely ‘neatly contrived’ so no arguments there. I think it was probably overrated in the press, but that often happens when literary authors write speculative fiction, because that’s when SF reaches the mainstream and reviewers who aren’t used to it suddenly go ‘gah, mind blown’.

      I only mentioned it because it was the last post-plagueopolypse I read, so it was fresher in my mind. But there are tons of books on this theme. Frank Herbert, Michael Crichton, Mary Shelley, Jack London, and George R. Stewart all wrote books about the course or aftermath of a pandemic.

    • World War Z! At least there, the protagonist could fight their way to a kind of safety. 🥺


      I wonder if your point about mainstream reviewers, who are usually Sci FI readers, are more easily impressed, is absolutely correct. Or maybe, I'm just not "literate" enough! 🙀

      But then I've only been reading science fiction since John W Campbell was the editor of Astounding Science Fiction back in the late 1950s. 👽

    • About touching our faces - you know there is good research showing that we, humans, do that for 4-6 weeks, intra-uterine, before we are born? More often with our left hand?

      And not only us, but other species touch their faces as well - many primates, and even some canines in maturity.

      I don't have the links handy before me right now, but a quick google search will display much of the real research that has been done about facial touching over the last fifty years or so. There is a lot of it.

      I suspect it will be challenging to get folks to stop doing it all the time - but one CAN do it when they are working in a sterile surgical field. It is done by surgical doctors and nurses, in operating rooms, for many hours at time, every day, all across the globe. It MAY resume when the personnel have left the operating room or the hospital environment.

    • I wonder if your point about mainstream reviewers, who are usually Sci FI readers, are more easily impressed, is absolutely correct. Or maybe, I'm just not "literate" enough!

      It's as absolutely correct as a single point of data can be! 😁

      I make this point based on my observation that when those who mainly read mainstream fiction tend to get all excited for a literary SF novel, I often read it and think it was only OK, and it seems to me that the excitement comes from things that have been a mainstay of SF for a long time, rather than from the writing, so I often wonder what the fuss is all about.

      To give an example, my wife bought be a copy of Foe by Iain Reid, which was getting a lot of press in the newspaper books sections (which rarely if ever cover SF). The Wikipedia article gives you a sense of its reception.

      I thought it was well-written - and creatively written - but it was also (to me as an avid reader of SF) completely predicable and I could see the 'twist' before I was halfway through. In fact, I read the second half of the book mainly expecting there to be some second twist that I didn't see coming since so many people said it was surprising - but there wasn't. You'll find this book on the 'Fiction' shelf, not the 'SF' shelf.

      To give a slightly different illustration, my favourite novel read last year was Sarah Canary by Karen Joy Fowler, which was highly literary and only weakly SF, but it was a remarkable book for provoking deep thoughts. Fowler wrote the book in such a way that SF readers would accept it as SF, but non SF readers would accept it as normal 'fiction'. If you read the Amazon reviews, you'll find a lot of people questioning how the book was SF? They simply didn't get it.

      So, my feeling is that most people who are only buying off the 'fiction' shelf aren't really equipped to judge SF on its speculative merits, only on its literary merits. By extension, some literary authors might attempt to tackle grown well-trodden by SF without being similarly equipped, and in that case might write a books that satisfies one crowd but not the other. And reviewers from the one crowd might not be able to properly judge the merits of these books, either, which can lead to some readers being turned off. This goes both ways, to be sure. My wife (who insists that she likes SF because she read Dune 30 years ago) seems patently incapable of enjoying most of the SF novels I gotten her to try - she just doesn't know how to relate to them.

    • I think it’s about routine as far as keeping your hands away from your face. I suspect people with contacts who use rewetting drops throughout the day are better positioned to establish a routine if they can use each top off as a mental reminder. I’ve noticed that I’ve caught myself a couple times washing my hands “normally” and then catching myself before the water is turned off and redoing it for longer. I personally think the Ivory soap bar 🧼 of my youth had a much heavier lather than pump soap and therefore required more effort and time to remove it.

    • Aw, com'on - Everyone loved "Dune" and the face masks, and riding the worms etc - I forgot the blue eyes

      I just finished Ian McEwan's "Machine Like Me" and rather enjoyed it, but it didn't feel like a sci fi book so much as a literary book that just happened to include a fully functional ( sexually ) sentient male robot as a third partner to a couple in London.

      Now rail machine guns in space battles in "the Expanse" seems like sci fi - just sayin'

    • To the original post in this thread - re: lack of preparedness for Corona. I wonder if the fact that there were two earlier bouts with Corona -SARS, and then MEARS, that were successfully dealt with overseas, that hasn't allowed the US and its agencies to underestimate just how dangerous the latest Corona virus causing Covid 19 is.

      The reaction of financial markets in the last few weeks has obviously caught a very great number of people asleep at the wheel - we all sat and watched China quarentine whole cities without every really contemplating the grave financial and mortal risks we would all soon be facing here in the US. If one looks carefully at the disaster occurring in Italy and France, right now, we should no longer be nearly so smug.

      It is going to be a very interesting spring/summer - I say very sadly.

      Hunker down and stay safe, if you can.

    • I've been using Dawn liquid simply because it is cheap, doesn't dry one's hands out too badly, and is QUITE effective at liquifying and mobilyzing fats and oils - like the fats in the virus capsule.

      NOW, I HAVE NO PROOF WHATSOEVER that Dawn is better than bar soap or Dial soap or Tide or whatever, but I do know it very quickly removes fat and grease from cooking ware, so my faith comes from that. And if I recall correctly, a 1/2 gallon jug used to be less than $10 bucks or so. Back in the Pre Virus phase of the world

    • Experience with SARS here in Toronto is definitely being touted as an advantage in the local media.

    • Taiwan seems to have handled this better than any other country! Had we been more prepared like them, we wouldn't be running around like chickens with their heads cut off. I agree that everyone here in the United States is panicking and over-reacting. Or at least not reacting in the right way. The constant moving of the goal posts indicates to me that nobody knows what to do.

      Btw, I'm still grinding away at Chinese and Japanese! Where in Taiwan do you live at? Are you in Taipei?

    • SARS was the time when the United States should have gathered together an organized plan about how to deal with a pandemic. Instead, it's like jazz. They're just improvising as they go along and its proving to be a disaster, imo.