Wednesday, December 8, 2021

A generation or two later - What if Corona Virus were handled differently

A great theme for speculative fiction novels:

What would the future be like a generation or two later depending on how the Corona Virus were handled. 

A pessimistic version assuming that the Corona Virus were as destructive as some have feared, especially for the older people,  and the societies couldn't control the virus. Would we still be an aging society looking for young people?

I was intrigued by the possibilities as I read the news that China is now encouraging couples to have a 3rd child

Furthermore, there was the news about the very high and worsening level of inequality now. How would this change were the pandemic let loose?  An obvious historical parallel is the black death and the Renaissance in Italy

The Black Death marked an end of an era in Italy. Its impact was profound, resulting in wide-ranging social, economic, cultural, and religious changes. These changes, directly and indirectly, led to the emergence of the Renaissance, ...

 An optimistic version. Personally, in spite of being in the very high risk group, I am convinced that the societies have overreacted. I was reminded of this by the efforts to control the spread of Omicron variant

Here is a simple question: If the Omicron variant is thrice as transmissible as the Delta variant - as is suggested tentatively by the existing data - why are we putting so many people in one holding area? Will this not ensure that many uninfected people may actually get the infection?

Some of the major outbreaks of the infections might very well have been because of our societies' efforts to prevent the spread! 

In spite of such questionable implementation issues, damage from virus infections has been more-or-less contained. This reinforces my view that the light touch of Sweden remains the most sensible approach to the handling of the Corona virus, even though it is very hard to find any articles which do not predict failure and doom for that approach.

What if societies decided to handle Corona virus lightly, realizing how vulnerable human societies are, focused on the imminent issues facing human societies, e.g. climate, inequality, desperate migrations.

Obviously, the former will sell, the latter will not!

Saturday, December 5, 2020

A very clean memory

More memories of Andhra :)

My breakfast on each visit to Andhra was black grape juice and pesarattu. It probably started with a night's stay in Vizag on my way, I think, to Orissa. 

I can't recall how I wound up at the hotel, but it seemed nice from the outside. They had no A/C rooms available. Since it was just for a night, I decided to stay there even though I was taken aback by the room cost. After my experiences in the North, I had very low expectations given the price of the room!

However, the hotel lobby and the passage were clean and well lit. The room itself was very clean and remarkably airy. Sadly, I have forgotten the name of the hotel though the stay was very comfortable and pleasant.

Given the above experience, cleanliness doesn't have to be expensive. 

I have never understood - what prevents cleanliness in our societies?

 The 'rise and fall are the “Andhrapreneurs” ' reminded me of my first account with a private sector bank. I had always felt uncomfortable with private sector banks. A couple of interactions with their representatives had left me uncomfortable, similar to my comfort level in 5 star hotels, that is, I don't belong there.

On an impulse, I walked into the branch of Global Trust Bank in Panaji. I needed a demat account and they were on the list given me by the share broker. I was very surprised. 

  • It was clean and pleasant. 
  • It was tech savvy.
  • The person was genuinely helpful.
  • I felt at ease.
My relationship with the bank increased. There was once some financial interaction my parents had to do. They visited the GTB branch in Chandigarh and were very impressed as well. They too opened an account there :) Had it been nearer, that would have become their primary branch.

Even after the bank was taken over by Oriental Bank, these branches continued nearly as before. I believe part of the reason must be that the working environment in these branches was much better than in one of the original Oriental Bank branches I visited. 

I miss the absence of GTB and wonder 

I am sure the fate of entities like GTB would have been very different and India would be a far richer and better country.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Universalise Holidays

Wouldn't it be nice if the human society agreed to a common set of holidays but each group can give the holiday its own name and celebrate it in its own traditional way? 

The  following holidays would seem to be great for our current lifestyle:

1. One holiday each month.

2. Major holiday every quarter.

3. Each holiday will be on the 5th day of the week - may be the last one of the month.

4. Each major holiday will have  4th and 5th days off.

We will have the same working days - 1 to 5 with 6 and 7 being the weekend. However, some societies may call the weekend Sat/Sun, Thu/Fri or Mon/Tue or whatever their heritage demands.

No worries about which group gets how many holidays. Peace descends on Earth :)

Saturday, October 24, 2020

What is moral? How will the future judge us?

I found Flaubert's Salammbo on Gutenberg. It is an incredible book. How do we judge the behaviour and actions of the people in that time? Certainly not by applying the current morality to those times.

How moral is it that a person who has possession of a Van Gogh painting has assets worth millions while the painter got nothing. 

How moral is it that I can read ebooks only from the vendor from whom I bought the eBook reader?

How moral is it that our economic system is helping create monopolies like Amazon, Google, Facebook, Uber, etc. ? By their very nature, such services need a common platform. Shouldn't such services be distributed, co-operatives? 

I find it very difficult to believe that such services would not have been created or succeeded if the current economic system was not in place.

I wonder how the future generations will judge us.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

The lockdown will have to continue. There is no choice anymore.

Thinking about the inevitability of the lockdown being extended, I vaguely remembered a line from Kafka's Investigations of a Dog - Dogdom went down a path, feeling that they could always turn back.

Searched on and the part I recalled :

I can understand the hesitation of my generation, indeed it is no longer mere hesitation; it is the thousandth forgetting of a dream dreamt a thousand times and forgotten a thousand times; and who can damn us merely for forgetting for the thousandth time? But I fancy I understand the hesitation of our forefathers too, we would probably have acted just as they did; indeed I could almost say: well for us that it was not we who had to take the guilt upon us, that instead we can hasten in almost guiltless silence toward death in a world darkened by others. When our first fathers strayed they had doubtless scarcely any notion that their aberration was to be an endless one, they could still literally see the crossroads, it seemed an easy matter to turn back whenever they pleased, and if they hesitated to turn back it was merely because they wanted to enjoy a dog's life for a little while longer; it was not yet a genuine dog's life, and already it seemed intoxicatingly beautiful to them, so what must it become in a little while, a very little while, and so they strayed farther. They did not know what we can now guess at, contemplating the course of history: that change begins in the soul before it appears in ordinary existence,

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Exponential Growth and Lockdown

The lecture by Prof Albert Bartlett had made an immense impact on me. I vividly remember the discussion on running out of oil based on Hubert peak. While shale oil may have delayed the disaster and alternate sources of energy may prevent a collapse, but had we reduced our growth, we may have avoided the climate change issue!

The main lesson though is:
"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function."

What worries me about the current strategy is the same as in this article from Israel. I am not even sure if they have the parameters for the models right, in which case the predictions over the weeks can be way off.

Worse, it may create the illusion of having avoided the catastrophe which was never going to happen!

Applying a blanket lockdown over all the country implies that the authorities have no information about the potential spreaders, which is clearly unreasonable while claiming that there is no evidence of community transmission!

I am surprised at how scared people seem to be of even the shadow of Coronavirus, No wonder, the workers in farms are scared of working in the fields!

Meanwhile, the normal, routine illnesses are untreated.

The new normal?