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VOLUME 18 No 10

EXAMINE THE NET WAY OF LIFE

MAY, 2020

 

IT TOOK A MONTH

A TIME OF DISCOVERY

WHETHER REPORT

NEW SHOW HACK!

©2020 Ski

Words, Cartoons & Illustrations

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EXAMINE THE NET WAY OF LIFE

cyberculture, commentary, cartoons, essays
 

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IT TOOK A MONTH COMMENTARY

About thirty days of shelter at home government orders, Americans have gone from stir crazy to angry.

The coronavirus pandemic has gone from panic orders to problematic enforcement.

In an election year, government officials believed their own rhetoric that they have the fast-take knowledge to solve a pandemic by fiat. The daily press briefing have inflated the egos of the president, governors and mayors.

Never in the history of the United States has the government shut down the vast majority economy in order to stop an illness spreading and potentially killing citizens. In order to justify the move, the federal government "spent" (i.e. printed more debt) in one month the equivalent of 45 percent of the U.S. GDP.

 

Coronavirus is a novel virus, meaning that it is a new form which humans have not had a chance to gain natural immunity. It is transferred by water particles from coughs, sneezes and human touch. It is a respiratory illness that can target any age group, but is more lethal to those persons with pre-existing medical conditions or compromised immune systems.

Asian countries continue to lead the world in pandemic response and results. Singapore has the lowest fatality rate of below 0.02 percent. Singapore locked down its borders and traced all suspected cases in January, 2020. Its authoritative based society made it easier for restrictions to be accepted by its citizens.

South Korea has led the world in testing for the virus. Several church and business center hot spots spiked the numbers of infected people and raised the death toll (still under the world average of 5 percent). But Koreas accepted the distancing rules and quarantine measures for so long. Young people defied Daegu authorities to go out on weekends to congregate. Some officials want violators to wear tracking bracelets to enforce distancing rules. It went into effect in late April, but it was not mandatory because of privacy concerns. This comes at a time when a week of no deaths were reported caused by the virus. The central government is going to start to ease the restrictions to allow businesses to re-open, but to follow social distancing and self-quarantine rules.

All governments face the same problems: massive business closures; surging unemployment; collapse of economic activity; and revenues off fifty to ninety percent. In the US, it appears that a month in real strict shut down has caused people to want or need to return to some normal. A $1,200 stimulus check does not meet the basic costs of an average family. Unemployment benefits have been slow to deliver because the system was overwhelmed by 20 million new applicants. The federal government has churned out trillions of new debt to pay for stimulus and relief checks.

Small business owners, like barbers, nail salon, tattoo, service providers, have lost 90 percent or more of their income. A government shut down did not save their businesses, who still owe rent, taxes, inventory, etc. Since the shutdown provisions appear to run through May, small business owners may never recover. In Chicago, a bar and liquor store, open since the day after Prohibition was lifted in the 1930s, has closed as the owner said he could not salvage his business because of the length of the shut down.

Protests have started in spite of the ban on public gatherings. Desperate people take desperate action. The is a growing fear that there may not be a quick bounce back recovery. Conspiracy theories are beginning to float around the interwebs which creates distrust in those officials who are calling all the shots. In countries where independence and personal freedoms are deep-rooted rights, shelter-in-place orders go against their very character. Workers want to work, not take a hand-out. People who have put their heart, soul and savings into their bar, restaurant, store, are not going to let it die without a fight.

Many countries around the world are now facing the difficult decision of when and how to ease lockdown restrictions due to the novel coronavirus. In the absence of a vaccine, it is likely there will be new waves of the epidemic, unless enough people have been infected to achieve herd immunity (assuming those who have contracted the virus retain enough protection and the virus does not mutate into a distinct strain) estimated to be around 60 percent. Unfortunately, government advisers in the UK, France and many other countries suggest only a few percent of the population have so far been infected. But does this add up? Like the proverbial canary in the cage, Sweden, which is encouraging social distancing but has not fully locked down, could guide the world. Here, the authorities claim the country is rapidly approaching herd immunity.

Yes, these lock down measures are required according to health experts. Sweden has decided that individual common sense was a better option than shutting down their country and economy. Sweden has not closed public institutions. It has asked its people to confined themselves if they have symptoms or have traveled to hot spots. Sweden is more an active, outdoor and healthy lifestyle culture. Sweden's positive tests and fatality rate is on the European average, on par with its neighbors who did shut down their countries. Officials said they decided to look for a long term solution: a herd immunity against the virus. Instead of isolating people away from the virus, Sweden thinks the faster its population is in contact with the virus, the quicker the nation can built up a natural immunity. Considering that some mathematical models show only six percent of those who get the virus show serious symptoms that require hospitalization, Sweden's approach is its own social-medical experiment on how to handle a pandemic.

There will always be critics. It is a question of credibility, which at least half of Americans do not believe the crazy talk of President Trump.

 

To keep people from becoming stir crazy, at least three states have decided to relax some rules to allow some businesses to reopen. Golf courses may open with limited golfers. Some restaurants may open if patrons are kept six feet a part. Mandatory masks in all public spaces. But these limited rules are so vague that Georgia businesses have no idea what to expect: patrons or violation citations.

At least one positive thing happened during home confinement. Animal shelters have found homes for abandoned dogs and cats. It appears that people still need some form of companionship or fellowship in their lives. Pets can be a healing comfort in troubled times.

It will probably take another month to determine whether the shut down worked, or whether national discontent will will itself into re-opening the world pre-pandemic. Politicians must realize that this is still an election year. Angry voters will vote out incumbents, the very people currently micro-managing their lives.

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A TIME OF DISCOVERY HOME BOUND

It took a global pandemic for bachelors to begin to forage in their kitchens.

Because restaurants and bars were closed, people had only grocery shopping or home delivery available. Social media has come alive with people beginning to toss pantry items in a pan to create edible dishes. Cooking food has probably been the number one new discovery during this lock down.

Being an essential service, I have not stopped going to the office. My work load is still consistently busy, but we have staggered client office contact visits.

But evening and weekend down time has not been used as a time of vegetation. An hour a day is set aside to learn a new language, Korean, which is more difficult than first thought because it is a contextual language. A vacation two years ago spurred an interest in Korea and its culture. I have gone through 32 hours of language tapes. This program's process is to listen to conversations to pick up the language as a young child would in his or her home. It is hard when the speakers seem to be speaking different words because the language has similar sounding word pairs and three different variations of the “o” sound. And, Koreans speak fast in the opposite grammar order of English. Overall, it is a worthwhile quest.

The second most discovery for many home bound people has been doing art projects. Quilters will also quilt. Knitters will always knit. But down time makes it easier to plan the next project. But many non-artists have decided that art and craft projects can be fun and entertaining. People have started using downloadable adult coloring books to pass the time. Some have gotten paint and brush on canvas. Others have started doodles and cartoons.

I have always drawn something every day: editorial cartoons and caricatures. For this site, SHOW HACK!, the monthly cartoon, takes anywhere from 6 to ten hours to complete. So art has always been around the homestead. But I have done some different things, like abstract painting, to mix things up. I also have sketched out ideas for a hand drawn comic/graphic novel and another literary novel. (I am in the process of finalizing formatting the first novel I finished in January, 2020 for e-publication later this year.)

The third item is also knowledge based; people are re-discovering science by being immersed in coronavirus news. I often watch science and nature documentaries than network television shows or cable reality show stupidity. Education does not stop with one's last diploma. Due to the recent interest in Asia, I have watched many Korean, Japanese and Chinese history programs which does give me some modern day insight on the deep seeded hatred and cultural issues between these nations.

NETFLIX has indicated that it signed up 16 million new subscribers since the virus shut down orders. When you do not have to leave the house for an 8 to 10 hour work day, it is easy to start binge watching television series or movies. In some ways, it was a godsend for new streaming services like Disney +, HBO Max or Apple TV, that their audience is begging for new content to pass the hours. But for media conglomerates like Disney, the shut down of amusement parks and movie theater releases have smashed its current revenues and profits.

Finally, the Marie Kondo cleaning mantra has found some new followers. Cleaning, laundry, small home improvement projects have kept the home bound busy with . . . busy work. The real estate markets have collapsed so stay in place literally will mean that you will be living in your home for a long time. The only problem is that cleaning supplies are in short supply. The internet is filled with life hacks and bio-friendly alternatives to chemical soaps and disinfectant sprays.

The whole time spent away from work should motivate most people to try something new.

 

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THE WHETHER REPORT

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STATUS

Question: Whether current on-line education classes for COVID-19 closed schools will substantially change how students are taught in the future?

* Educated Guess

* Possible

* Probable

* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

* Doubtful

* Vapor Dream

Question: Whether there will be a deep recession because of the global economy shut-down?

* Educated Guess

* Possible

* Probable

* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

* Doubtful

* Vapor Dream

Question: Whether the surge sovereign debt for social programs prolong a deep recession ?

* Educated Guess

* Possible

* Probable

* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

* Doubtful

* Vapor Dream

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