18 April 2021
There’s been a lot of flapdoodling over Covid vaccinations, including new concerns that a tiny proportion of them (about 4 in a million) might have caused blood clots which, in an even smaller number of cases, killed people. To put that in perspective, two people in Cornwall might get a clot and 36 of the millions of people living in Greater London might get a clot, and they wouldn’t even fill the upper deck of one London bus.
There’s also a conspiracy theory that the vaccination will introduce a microchip into your system that will tell Bill Gates every time you have a bath, but you have to be pretty paranoid to believe that.
My wife and I are having our second jabs (or jags if you’re reading this north of the border) tomorrow.
I can understand why people are concerned that Covid passports might discriminate against people who haven’t yet been invited for a vaccination but once everybody’s been offered it, who cares? Surely requiring vaccination certificates from people who are going to gather closely together is just common sense, not an infringement of their freedom, because it must reduce the likelihood of more superspreader events. And if anti-vaxxers decide not to get vaccinated, they won’t be able to go to festivals and football matches, but that’s their choice.
Some of us are already used to carrying yellow cards in our passports, showing we’ve been vaccinated for yellow fever (and TAB / cholera), when going to certain countries and I’ve never felt my personal freedom was restricted by them.
When easing the lockdown, Boris Johnson admitted this will inevitably increase the number of cases. He claims the lockdowns are the major contributors to the recent reduction in infection rates while his health Secretary, Matt Hancock, claims the reduction is due to the success of the vaccination programme; and I thought they were on the same side. Anyway, Serco is waiting with bated bank account in case infection rates do start to increase again.
Remember Serco? Up there with G4S? Had to pay a fine of £23m to the Serious Fraud Office in 2019 for fraud and false-accounting in its electronic tagging contracts, and another fine for the inadequacy of housing for asylum seekers? Has since ‘won’ more government contracts? Was at the centre of the impressively useless £22bn ‘test and trace’ programme for which the National Audit Office subsequently found no evidence that it had reduced Covid-19 infection rates? Has a CEO called Rupert Soames (another scion of the Churchill family) who said the ‘test and trace’ team had done “bloody well” and trousered £4.9m in 2020 for his chutzpah? Another example of what floats to the top in slurry pits.
At least the vaccine seem to have been effective here in reducing infection numbers so we’re being allowed to meet a limited number of other people in the open air, subject to the rules of your region, but snogging strangers is still discouraged.
(For some of us older ones, ‘snog’ always used to be a noun: one would have a snog with someone but now one snogs them, which somehow overrides the implied consent in the first form and sounds much less reciprocal in the second.)
So we’ll continue to wear masks, keep our distance whenever possible and hope for the best but I do wonder if Gaia is behind the pandemic as part of a double-pronged attack on humanity. Having convinced us we can control epidemics by giving us a false sense of security with SARS, swine flu and AIDS, it’s now hitting us with a pandemic that we can’t control at the same time as we near the climate emergency tipping point.
So let’s turn our backs and enjoy the curiosities of life and that Prince Philip’s funeral service yesterday was attended by 30 representatives of different branches of his family, including Donatus, Prince and Landgrave of Hesse and Gormenghast and Prince Philipp of Hohenlohe-Langenburg and Gilly-Gilly-Ossenfeffer.
And, while racism still seems rife in the police, at least some of them still have their priorities right: a West Mercia police spokesperson said last week: “We are appealing for information following the theft of an award-winning rabbit”. The missing rabbit measures four feet from its scut to its bewhiskered hooter and a professional pet detective* has recommended closing Britain’s borders to ensure it isn’t taken abroad for a holiday in the Alpine lettuce fields.
Which reminds me that, since I mentioned coded ways to report abuse last week, I’ve heard about #RiceBunny which is used by Chinese women when discussing sexual harassment to avoid alerting Chinese censorship algorithms. The words ‘rice bunny’ are apparently pronounced “mi tu” in Mandarin.
I was also reminded this week that our car insurance comes up for renewal in late May so I must get some quotes. According to ‘Money Saving Expert’, premiums can be halved if you compare different insurers’ prices 23 days before the renewal date. Costs then increase as the renewal date approaches and leaving it until just before the renewal date will certainly produce higher quotations because insurers say that late renewers are statistically more likely to claim. Hmmm – it wouldn’t be because they no longer have time to find a cheaper price would it?
In one of life’s coincidences, a friend’s philosophy class now gets regular discussion notes by email and, shortly after I mentioned the human mind last month, she sent me a recent one on the mind. My immediate response was that, to me, the mind is a nebulous, indescribable link between brain and action / decision / conscious thought which develops over one’s lifetime, from the basic, earthbound, self-centred demands of the newborn to the intellectual and social interactions of adults. In modern day language, perhaps the brain is the hardware, the mind is the operating software and their interactions are application software.
However, shortly after I’d written this, it occurred to me that my metaphor was based on our current ‘scientific’ understanding of the world; had I lived in ancient times, I might have used a Hippocratic metaphor and linked mind to the balance between the four bodily fluids.
Recent studies of sub-atomic particles called muons may have found evidence of a fifth fundamental force of nature to add to gravity, electromagnetism, the strong force and the weak force. In an experiment, muons were expected to ‘wobble’ at a certain rate but actually wobbled much faster than expected so there’s a possibility that a fifth force could speed them up.
Wouldn’t it be exciting if this began to explain some of the apparent anomalies such as why the universe is expanding faster than our science thinks it should!
Well, I suppose we all get excited by different things, like waiting for one of the DoE’s pallbearers to trip at his funeral, drop the coffin and hear a voice from inside saying “clumsy oaf”. I did actually see a bit of the funeral when a gun was being fired every so often, followed by which a bell went bong and I found myself waiting to see if one of the shots missed the bell.
* Honestly, I don’t make job titles up. Their job probably involves discovering it was done by the ferret in the scullery with the chrysanthemum.