A Journal of the Year 3.0 Day 13

29th December 2020

Changed my clothes today (really, put some on rather than just gliding round in the bathrobe all day). Cut my hair, had a shave, showered and doused my locks in a panoply of product -water, paste, hat for half an hour, paste some more, gel, hairspray, water, in that order to get it to fall right. Welcome to Asian hair, which if it isn’t long stands up like a straight ‘fro or colludes into becoming a bowlcut when you’re not looking. Even cut my toenails and removed errant hairs that sprout at randomised places around the face (eg forehead, side of nose, ear lobe) that if left unattended will start reproducing. It’s annoying I can’t get manly stubble on the jawline but have to shave my cheekbones. There’s a global secret out there, we’re all freaks.

I am rejoining the world. I’m wondering if there’ll be burning wrecks outside and zombie streetkids -the UK healthcare system is a shade away from full capacity at the mo. Deaths are 6.6% higher in this last week (while in Germany it’s 21%), a sign of the new variants at work. What has been happening out there, while I’ve been gone?

Well… it all started when a lawyer in Shanghai travelled to Wuhan.

Yes, China has been at it again, busy jailing reporter/ blogger Zhang Zhan for 4 years, for her reportage of the new disease, and overflowing hospitals. The CCP is like that kid who innocently opened the door to the zombies, and has now been caught rewiring the security cams. Now it’s been very convenient to scapegoat a highly unpopular dictatorship for the virus -it fits with our civilisational narrative -and China is not entirely to blame for the infection. Though now it’s obvious the country isn’t doing itself any favours by further shooting itself in the foot, publicly, while still prancing about as stage villain to an audience of billions.

I will again remind in summary all our recent global goings on.

As acknowledged, the virus was first detected in South America and Europe 3-9 months before it hit Wuhan (likely in a less infectious format), notably as early as March 2019 in Barcelona, and following on in Buenos Aires, Florianopolis (Brazil), Barcelona again, Paris and London, Milan and Turin by November and December, according to sewage sampling done this summer, and coordinated by Oxford University. China’s patient zero was also in November, traced to the countryside around the city (and incidentally site of the World Army Games the month before). It took till December for it to spread to Wuhan, via a site where rural and urban folk meet -a farmer’s market.

China’s mistake was to treat it as a purely animal > human zoonotic disease, that could only be passed from beast to man. We get about three new types each year somewhere in the world, and they don’t warrant lockdowns other than the closure of the spreader site and track and trace of the attendants. As per policy, the authorities shut down the market and formally alerted the WHO on New Year’s Eve one year ago, only two days after it was first detected in a Chinese lab as a possible new strain of pneumonia. It also released the genetic profile of the strain to open source, public forum before a second death anywhere in the world. So far, so not guilty.

However, when evidence was increasing that it was human>human, with multiple doctors flagging the fact patients were coming in without any contact with the market or countryside, still nothing was acted on. A ‘super-spreader’ event was even allowed to continue by the mayor, a big city convention that many Chinese consider let it into neighbouring provinces.

China’s second mistake was following WHO advice (after presenting the evidence) that more was needed to confirm it was human > human. It took three whole weeks for the green light, or should I say red light.

The third mistake happened at a low level, but was by far the most damning in the eyes of the world: at about this time, well after it had already been officially documented and released to netizens and the press, the local police reprimanded Dr Li Wenliang for starting his chatgroup about the disease, fining him for fearmongering and making him sign a statement -his treatment in turn started to spread like wildfire across China’s social media.

In short the local authorities did not conform to the provincial or state authorities dealing with an epidemic. Who’d learned the hard way that cover ups could never be effective, and only resulted in shame, more infections, public investigations and reforms, as happened after SARS. Following public furore state missives swiftly followed up that any attempts at cover up would be ‘nailed to a post of shame for all of history’, and the police made to apologise to the doctor. But too late, the narrative was already on the wall, not just in China but the world. Li’s death from the disease only magnified him into a martyr for the cause, for free speech too.

So these mistakes are no different to many that have played out across the world, given the fact they had even more than ample warning and knew the coming severity, plus gifted an M.O. on how to deal with it from China and Asia. But putting all that into context the Party, now jailing a citizen journalist for four fucking years, hasn’t appeared to have learned its lesson (actually many Wuhan bloggers throughout that period who were critical of the response, ultimately disappeared for weeks at a time, reappearing to suddenly amend their ways and acknowledge the govt were, yes, trying very hard and doing so very well). Zhang Zhan has been on hunger strike since June; her lawyers are trying to persuade her to appeal.

It appears pattern recognition may not be the strongest aspect of China’s PR machine, or maybe it doesn’t give a flying fuck any more. The ‘wolf warrior diplomats’ (named after China’s dire bestselling, nationalistic film) that have worryingly been infiltrating China’s foreign policy admin -in response to Trump’s sabre-rattling since 2016 -are just stretching their muscle. For long China’s foreign envoys smiled politely whenever an awkward question was raised, changing subject to how pretty the flower arrangements were -then sprinting madly for the door and overturning all manner of vases n shit. Nowadays they launch Twitter wars with Trump and activists on either side of the spectrum, or even peddle conspiracy theories online (hinting C-19 was deliberately spread by US soldiers in the Army Games).

However, in better news the original wolf warrior Liu Xiaoming, who also happened to be the UK ambassador, just resigned two years before the end of his tenure. Infamous for his defence of Xinjianger ‘reeducation camps’ (really, they’re just colleges for vocational studies and puppy breeding and happiness), Hong Kong democracy blitzing (look at your own record, monster), and congratulating Britain on Brexit (hi five, new puppet!), he has marked his position throughout with many a memorable tabloid headline.

Hopefully it’s an end to his droning, and this phase of global repositioning, inline with the coming exit of Trumpist demagogue. Hopefully also a sign of things to come, not just in the public face, but in genuine reforms behind the state facade as infamously there are several competing lobbies beneath the smile. It appears both sides have scored wins against each other.

Honestly though, we have enough on our plates -CCP, please, just get with the programme, if not for our sake (collectively, the world), but yours. Many thanks in advance.

Free Zhang Zhan.

Yesterday

Tomorrow

A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 4

8th November 2020

It has come to pass. At 4.30pm yesterday CNN finally announced it would ‘project’ the winner of the US presidential race as Joe Robinette Biden Jnr, 46th President of the United States. Other networks followed shortly after, and Fox News finally caved last. Biden himself found out from his grandkids. It was his third attempt at the office, each try marred by personal tragedy such as the deaths of his wife and son -but it paid through in the end: at the age of 77 he’s the oldest US president yet, and the most popular with the highest amount of votes ever tallied, in his name.

s

WELL DONE AMERICA. Thank Fuck. Thank Pizza God. And well done Vice President Kamala Harris too, the highest office a woman has ever held in the country, and a person of colour on top (her father Jamaican and mother Indian). Beau, Doug Emhoff, will be America’s first Second Husband and the first Jewish person in that role. She becomes officially the most powerful woman in US history, though others point out the power behind the throne was often the wife, such as Eleanor Roosevelt and rumoured Hillary Clinton (back when her husband was busy adjusting uniform standards with his protein stains). CNN quipped that the Republicans and their channels will have to learn, ultimately, how to pronounce her name -‘Kommla’ not ‘Kamarla’.

Finally democracy can rehabilitate its own good name after four years in the wilderness, the bit where it went round shitting on everyone and starting fires.

The streets of every major US city celebrated, with CNN’s announcement igniting spontaneous rounds of applause, whooping (what else, where else), car honking and pan banging across the nation. A carnival atmosphere attempted social distancing (face masks, personal bubbles) but soon gave way to crowds marching and dancing in unison while waving banners, state and rainbow flags, the latter increasingly a symbol not just of LGBTQIA support but social diversity and unity.

The new Civil War has not come to pass, though counter protests also took hold, but rather muted given the majority of supporters were either too busy distancing themselves from the loser, watching in dazed silence at the news, or drinking themselves into clifftop oblivion. Trump was busy on a round of lone golf, having thrown in his Belgian lace hanky at the final hour, though he did find time later to continue the claim he’d been the true winner, and been robbed.

s

One can imagine The Great Orange Dolphin, swaddled now in silk comforters, a spherical mound beneath the bedcovers but for that cold glow of the phone light, watched by guards as Melania furtively, ecstatically packs her things, whispering febrile Slovene in the dark -the remaining staffers crumpled, heads in hands outside the door. Kayleigh McEnany, mascara dribbling, chain-smoking, calling faintly through the keyhole.

Her view is of a slashed painting of George Washington, golf club imbedded, lording over scattered copies of The Art of the Deal and DVDs of The Apprentice Season 3. Every curtain closed throughout the wing in utter silence, but for one torn and hanging by a thread, the other leading into the huge bundle of Versace bedding. A globe that opens out into a display for alcoholic beverages and discarded Big Macs burns surreally in the corner that no one is bothered or high ranking enough to put out.

And far, far away a loon calls into the night.

Trump looks unlikely to give up from cold dead hands, given that if he ever gets past first stage, he’ll be looking at a beckoning spell in prison, from his incalculable tax-dodging alone. Orange is the new black.

s

This is a turning point, a page to be flipped after so much domestic and geopolitical damage. A return to support for the Paris Accord that aims to stem greenhouse gases, to NATO and WHO, battling right now the worst crises since WWII. To a nation riven by racial, religious, generational, political and class divides, between the haves and have-nots, the 1 percenters and The Rest, the urban and rural, the north and South, east and west, natives and non-natives, Black and White and all in between. Diversity is strength in numbers, in duality and pluralism, not diremption trammeled into so many lines through political chicanery for the pathologically selfish and threatened. To climb the ladder then burn it behind you should never become cultural creed.

s

Okay, enough soapboxing, we’ll have much more of that in the next few days. The transition period is a whopping ten weeks, and inauguration in January by all counts. For the time being lets hope everyone settles down, puts away their hunting rifles and camo, and concentrate on the task at hand -not just political change but the giant viral cloud threatening the world in the greater scope of things.

Yes, that.

So, MINKS.

Cute little fuckers. Minks apparently are a new biohazard, spreading a fancy mutation that’ll be harder to vaccinate against. Outbreaks earlier in Spain and now Denmark have seen all their captive populations culled by the millions, and a global populace now wobbling about whether a zombie apocalypse might actually manifest, as we all secretly know it’s bound to happen one day (though the WHO did respond in saying it was entirely normal and expected to have differing zoonotic strains).

s

It remains to be seen whether our farming and hunting practices require a sea change, increasingly seen in the last new human viruses and global pandemics -SARS, Bird Flu, Swine Flu, MERS, HIV, and Ebola. Due to the size of the human population now, 7.8 billion and counting, we should maybe all just go veggie -the risk is rising alongside every year we grow so exponentially, at 200,000 extra babies each day. The mountains more of meat we will need to feed those lives adds ever more risk -throughout history every time Man gets jiggy with Nature we correlate with a new round of infectious, incurable disease. Such as Bubonic Plague or Smallpox or Spanish Flu (that actually originated in a Kansas farmstead), coming from rats and livestock when we began farming then mass-farming, then industrial farming.

s

s

But then:

s

But then

s

But then

s

Ah, the dichotomy of individualism. We know we shouldn’t do it, we know it even kills other souls without mercy, yet we do it (sorry about that). Democracy or benevolent dictatorship? Anarchy or Facism? Shame culture or guilt culture? I decide, or we decide?

Our world is built on hierarchy, a form we like to think is about efficiency. We just haven’t worked out how the mad scramble to the top is meant to impose order, that the fact no matter where we are in that jungle we will always be in competition, between the winners and losers, and invariably the vast majority will always think themselves the latter. That life will not stop and take a breath (or at least a laboured final few, possibly via an ICU) unless that Hell Is Other People In Competition ever lets up.

s

Okay, like I said. I step down from the soapbox, and will myself rummage through the fridge, pausing then nibbling on pieces of packaged death, like any member of a guilt culture is wont to do. Because I’m worth it.

Anyhoo, for what it’s worth, nice one Mr Biden. You big baby squash your facey baby you x. I may now light a candle, and sway in the spirit of collective beatification. So please now, heal the world.

Make it a better place.

For you and for me and the en-tire human race. There are… people dying, if you care enough for the living, make a better place for you and for me.

Save it for our children ye-ah!

Yesterday

Tomorrow