depopulating

Red alert, day four:

3 cases in Suffolk, 12 in Tower Hamlets (BBC).
Dow drops to three-year low. FTSE drops to eight or ten-year low.
Lockdown in New York and the Tri-State Area. No crowds of more than 50.
Finland is finally closing schools, banning gatherings of more than 10 people.
Richard Branson, worth £4 bln, sends home Virgin employees for eight weeks without pay.
140,000 gig workers unemployed in Ireland because of virus.
EU bans nonessential incoming foreign travel; UK citizens are not foreign yet so they can still go there.
Boris Johnson says everyone should avoid unnecessary contact but doesn’t order closures, putting event and venue organizers in an invidious and financially dangerous position.
Rumor is that over 70s will have to self isolate for four months.
Idris Elba has tested positive for coronavirus. Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson announced positive tests on March 13, the same day as Health Minister Nadine Dorries.
London shops start to reject cash.

In teaching news, lecturers in the US are resetting expectations because nobody can concentrate and it just seems humane. Interesting if this too becomes a permanent change (original tweet). Do it for YOU is a great reminder to students:

The 9:20 am Ipswich to Mile End coach is never close to full but it felt really empty this morning. Maybe half a dozen people maximum. New driver. At Costa Coffee, where I get a sandwich to go, the European baristas, which is all the baristas, were talking about going home before it’s impossible, and they were still talking about it four hours later according to a student.

At work, there are only a few people in, none from my department that I can see or hear. I offered a Skype meeting to the two dissertation students who had appointments, but they wanted to meet in person, so here we are. Other people are giving lectures from home with a greater or lesser degree of gung-ho-ness. You can’t put “Gave students a break” on your next teaching statement.

In the evening I saw two cyclists using the sidewalk, because there was room. The coach home was populated normally.

My landlord wants the inside windows painted and the painter can’t come tomorrow but may come Wednesday. For both personal flat history and market reasons, I need to enact being a compliant and easy tenant so I’m not pushing back.

It’s hard to do the mental flipflop where things that it took a lot of work to valorize as desirable, green and humanistic are now anti-social. Living dense. Taking public transport. (Cycling is still safe.) Meeting in groups instead of staying home staring at screens. Using cloth handkerchiefs and bamboo cups. Trusting infrastructure instead of hoarding.

Last night my school classmate Stacey (@AdventureWednesdays), who was preparing to live semi off grid in an Airstream and/or tinyhouse in Oregon, livestreamed a demonstration of making hand sanitizer from aloe vera gel, medical grade alcohol, and tea tree oil.

Things are moving very fast and yet very slowly in the sense we’re all waiting to get sick or die, or to hear about loved ones getting sick or dying. This is the sort of scene Nevile Shute wrote very well – the spreading radioactivity in On the Beach, the boatwreck in Trustee from the Toolroom. Memes are attempting to make light of it (h/t Nana):

Your grandparents were called to war. (Not just grandparents either.) You’re being called to sit on your couch. You can do this.

The difference is that after this wave hits, we’ll be trying to survive till jobs come back, as well as waiting for a return to normal, whatever we wanted that to be.

Posted on by Diana ben-Aaron
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