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Woke up in the middle of the night - that whole "second sleep" thing - and decided to put a cap on the day.

Current mood

So let's talk about death, and how to use the knowledge of death to stay alive. This is not easy, but it's short.

Real short.
Most human beings cannot reason easily about death. We have an evolved blind spot which makes us "risk blind" - that's how we can smoke, drive cars too fast etc.

We have this blind spot because our ancestors who were too sensitive to risk, too aware of death, did not do so well.
A good example of this kind of blind spot is childhood amnesia, where children go through a sort of cutoff and forget their early childhood memories.

Oddly, this is not unique to humans… so we can infer it is not a disadvantage across multiple species.
So this blindness to death has an evolutionary purpose: it allows us to live. The fear of death also allows us to live, in that it keeps us away from lethal risks.

So a paradox: we are afraid of a thing we cannot see clearly.

This is the template for most horror boogiemen.
so cute.

So some cultures dismantle this blind spot through processes of initiation. "The yogi dying a little every day, lives forever."

Pretty much all initiations that count, across cultures, start with a confrontation with death. Blind spot repair.
I casually say to my friends "I'm about 10% likely to die if I catch this thing, because I'm 50 with pre-existing lung issues" and to me that's a statement of fact.

I got rid of the death-flinch. It made me a brilliant scenario planner for certain kinds of worst cases, like this
Now let me introduce you to my little friend, and particularly the infamous "dartboard of death."

This is a cognitive tool to allow you to see death clearly. You could call it a necroscope.

You use it to stop death sneaking up on you in your blindspots.
You can read more about the Dartboard of Death here:… I've had this tooling up for about ten years, a more evolved version of an earlier model. It's a really sophisticated tool for seeing death clearly enough to *stare him down*.

So you download the file and you take a big, big sheet of paper, and you draw the map: seven nested circles, divided into six equal segments radially. In the middle, you. At the edge, *death itself* in six forms: heat, cold, hunger, thirst, illness, injury. This is the necroscope
The first death is cold: this one is easy.

The clothes you wear, the house you live in, the heating in that house, the energy that feeds that heating, the markets that feed that energy.

That chain of cause and effect, keeping you alive, is a supply chain. It's an artery to you.
Many of these supply chains, these arteries, pass through hell.

Meat is a good example: it staves off Hunger, but at the cost of, well... I'm not going to show you the gory abattoir picture, but that, right there is a whole lot of unpleasant death in one place. So we won't look.
We could talk about human costs too. How's the quality of life for the person who assembled the laptop I'm typing this on?

I'm guessing pretty bad. This is a really complicated piece of hardware, it would take ages and ages to make, and it was <$1000 to buy

Somebody got screwed
Fuel for heating and transport comes from here.

So when you draw those arteries, to show yourself the things that keep you alive, many of them are icky. The less you compromise, the more clearly you see. Draw the truth on your maps, all the way into any hell you depend upon.
The necroscope shows you all the death you rely on to stay alive, not only the death that threatens you.

This is why it is hard to use: it requires such profound honesty and moral candour. To understand and protect your fragile life, a darkness must be faced: we exploit to live.
So the price of seeing clearly is that we must _see clearly_ that which we do not wish to know, as well as what we do wish to know. The truth cuts.

But now we can see what supports us in its fullness.… has a more detailed model, shows the links clearly.
So then let us take our foe, this coronavirus. To live, for now, you stay away from the virus. Stay home, don't go outside, you will be safe apart from bugs picked up from delivery guys.

Wear a mask, spray the boxes at the door, job done, good job right?

No, but *all the stuff*
Because, of course, these lentils and rice have a story, a history behind them too. There is a network of interconnected pieces which makes the food grow, we call it aiac (agro-industrial auto catalysis). Everything is connected.

Read more about aiac here…
So now our coronavirus story is a story about systems.

Hands up if you're emergency shopping off Amazon right now so you don't have to go to crowded, empty stores looking for things which are no longer there? There's our dependency: there's our risk. Bugs on the deliveries, say?
But the more profound question is this: how much more is in the supply chain? Can the people who make this food we are ordering online and eating work from home? I don't think so.

So now we get some really awkward problems. Farm labourers with sneezes. Agricultural impacts.
You bet this gets complicated, later. We can just send people about their business as if nothing was wrong, and *maybe* 5% of them will die, if the hospitals are full when they get sick.

Maybe a lot less if they're in their teens and twenties. Coronavirus does not hit the hard.
But you bet this is all going to be hashed out because _the virus infects the fabric of our civization_

That's what *pan*demic means: all of us, together, are connected by the risks we share or use our privilege to export to other people.

Who are those people who drop my stuff?
I'm drawing specific attention to our delivery infrastructure, and what can-and-can't be done "work from home" for a very specific reason. Our infection control relies on our ability to stay away from each-other, and delivery is super efficient in this regard. China prove this.
So let's go back to the dartboard: food and other bits and pieces are going to be delivered. Those things need to get into the warehouses, and then to us. Workers will be exposed to each-other, and masks/gloves/temp checks only go so far.

@JeffBezos has to hire immune survivors.
Immune survivors are not 100% safe - they may still get reinfected, data is still out on *exactly* how rare, but it's once in a blue moon.

People who don't get coronavirus also do not spread it to each other, or us parked at home. You also badly need these people in hospitals.
So, like it or not, society is going to fragment:

1) people who, if they get corona are likely to die (old, ill)
2) general "take your chances if you must" population
3) IDGAF teenagers
4) Immune service workers who do all the high contact stuff.

(4) Are about to make *bank*.
As society becomes increasingly dependent on immune service workers to be our low-risk backbone pay and working conditions will improve. Their honesty and professionalism become key to our safety: they have to maintain infection control protocols so the goods are delivered clean.
Now, I want to draw attention to something.

The same "class" or "capitalist" reflex which causes us to generally overlook delivery people also turns into not thinking clearly about infection running along supply chains

And that's what the Dartboard of Death is for: seeing death
Every human being that you depend on is a potential infection vector or if they get sick, their illness can hit your "work from home lifestyle" as (for example) your internet fails or your deliveries stop arriving

When this happens? You have to go out into the risk zone outside.
Right now, I worry about my fruit. Arrives once a week from some organic farm somewhere, where it's picked by human beings that could catch corona and sneeze on stuff.

Is it safe by the time it gets to me, or do I need to leave it out for days for the virus to die off on it?
I want to paint you a picture here: a web of interconnection, and every element on that web can get infected, because it's all made of people.

We are only as safe as our dependencies, and if you pay people minimum wage to do safety critical jobs, you get TSA level performance.
Now, let's talk about the class politics of the "work from work" vs. "work from home" class.

Work from work is service industry and physical infrastructure. The infrastructure people are already safety critical. But service industry people have never been safety critical til now
I guarantee you, half of the disasters we will get implementing "work from home" will be caused by class politics where we expect people to guard our homes from coronavirus for minimum wage.

This is before we get into the situation at the hospitals, which is a whole other thing.
Everything is safety critical now. That means everybody gets paid, because if they goof off it can kill you. You're paying for infection control professionals, not delivery people.

The retraining alone is going to be huge. Plus paid sick leave.

Or you get the Pandemic TSA right
Now the hospitals.

Guys, you know how bad this is, right? They run out of intensive care beds and incubators fast (UK by 5th of March?) and people start dying in corridors soon after.

Medical staff are not really trained for this level of death.

It's only been theory thus far.
People that were close to the AIDS crisis, on the medical or cultural front lines, saw this kind of mortality in the 1980s. But the rank-and-file medics have *nothing* to prepare them for this.

20 minutes of mindfulness a day won't do it.

We need the Pentagon's PTSD research.
What's in the Pentagon's PTSD management toolkit? We don't know.

At a guess, anti-depressant and other drug regimes to stop people getting PTSD, and lots of screening methods to detect it and get people help/rest immediately.

And we have families to consider too. Medic's kids.
Because the medics, god bless them, are at war. In most of the scenarios in front of us, they are going to see more casualties this year than WW1 field medics saw over the whole war.

Plus many of the will get infected, and some of them will die - while being cared for by friends
Like it or not, in a free society, there is going to be a pervasive renegotiation about what the people we depend on get paid, because their lives are about to become vastly, immeasurably more complicated (and flat out worse) and we need them over-performing, not bill-worrying.
Now, let me tie this all together

1) Pandemic means *society* gets sick, not simply individuals

2) Most of the "cast of thousands" are now safety-critical infection control workers

3) Medical staff are now Special Forces

Think of what WW2 did for women's role in society. That
We are looking at a very large scale social transformation *as a critical part of surviving this* but it is not a communal feel-good transformation of elites.

Rather, it's a professionalization of previously menial roles, and a total renegotiation of hospital staff pay and roles
Plus we have a new social caste, the (nearly entirely) Immune Survivors who will be able to keep stuff running while a lot of other people are sick. Government thinks 60% immune by winter: implies 10% get infected per month for 6 months.

6 million covid cases at a time. No way.
Resistance to these inevitable social changes will simply result in worse suffering and more deaths: continue to under-pay Amazon workers and they'll come in to work sick. Treat the hospitals like factories rather than temples and doctors will get ill and not come back afterwards
Because these roles are now *vastly* more important and vastly harder and more responsible than they were before #COVID19. The social renegotiation *is* our ability to fight the disease, avoided infection by avoided infection, while antivirals, vaccines and other medicine is made
Final topic: a lot of us are going to die, possibly including me. I'm doing sensible stuff, but my lungs are fucked up. 10% mortality if I get infected, I'd guess, and 50% odds of getting infected.

For older people the stats are so much worse. Care homes etc. very bad things.
We have traditionally, as a culture, shunned death.

Compare this to

So we, as a culture, better get used to renegotiating our relationship with death now. Everyone you know is going to lose somebody close to them. Everyone you know will bury somebody.
Only they won't, because there aren't going to be any funerals. People will largely have to grieve in their homes with very close family. This will intensify the emotions.

I think this is going to be really bad. We may need an awful lot of internet-based grief counselling.
The internet is not a good medium for displaying emotion, or comforting the grieving. It's cold, technical, harsh. It's good for harmlessly transmitting anger, but not hugs.

Can we change that? A different kind of discourse? An emotional language which carries feeing? New poetry
We are going to need to be present in each-other's lives, without being present in each-other's lives. What kind of cultural change begins here?

Education? Dating? How is life going to work in these times? Kids who can't visit parents for fear of infecting other old relatives?
Again, our ability to get this stuff right is our ability to not have people get infected needlessly. It's preventing people dying of grief because there were no funerals and no support. It's families which never see each-other.

How long does this last?

It depends. Two years?
Large scale infectious disease changes society. The last time this happened was AIDS before we had treatment, and veterans of those times, particularly doctors who helplessly lost so very many patients, may be our best guides to the present in which we find ourselves.
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