8/8/2020 08:21

Rehposolihp's Stone

In the middle of a modern pandemic it has been both too hard and too easy to find anything funny. On one side, the threat to human life is real and continuing. On the other side, the muddled response to that threat are laughable; even the most careful and reasoned tactics are informed by ignorance of the full nature of the disease: its manner of transmission, its mechanisms of harm, the immunity which humans may be possible are all profoundly uncertain after months.

If only, I keep on saying, we knew today what we will know in another 5 years!

By this point in time we can be pretty confident that there is a disease, that it is caused by a particular virus, that it is contagious, and that some people die. We are less sure about whether the virus is transmitted through long-lasting aerosol particles or only by larger, less widely dispersed droplets. We are having trouble pinning down just how large a fraction of cases result in life-threatening disease. There hasn't been enough time to learn how long or strong any immunity may be or whether immunity can be induced by a vaccine.

The disease is real enough and so is the response of people around the world. The real threat and the real response are not always well matched; not all the moves in the actual reality game are well played.

One response is militant denial. In actual reality human beings use denial as a defense against overwhelming threats of all sorts, so the denial of pandemic risk is to be expected.

One example is in Anchorage, Alaska, where "Superior Court Judge Eric Aarseth ... issued a temporary restraining order against ... indoor dining ... Aarseth said ..., 'A property interest cannot outweigh a person's interest in life.' The diner, however, remained open on Friday afternoon, its tables packed with customers ..."

We see denial also at the other end of the country and of the economy. "Surging U.S. stocks, Treasuries[,] and gold prices have come to the brink of simultaneously notching record highs for the first time in history". In actual reality the economy has been battered, millions of people are out of work, some sectors (such as travel and tourism) are essentially shut down, only government bailouts have held the economy together and their future is currently being debated. Still the market is assigning higher and higher values to everything, militantly denying reality just as much as the customers at the diner.

Rehposolihp's Stone is the one which turns gold into lead. It must surely be coming into play soon.

• https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-alaska/covid-stricken-anchorage-wins-court-ruling-in-diner-dispute-idUSKCN253334
• https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-stocks-new-high-analysis/bull-everything-rally-leaves-investors-wondering-what-to-own-idUSKCN2532UQ