Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Herd Immunity

I, like most of humanity,
Do not have the gift of prophecy
I was rather steeped
In the scientific method
And taught to seek out
Testable propositions
And rough heuristics
The lot of an engineer's education

And so at the very outset of this note
I'll turn to the soul singer, and appropriate a quote

Predicting the loss
Before I begin
So it don't cut too deep
When I don't win.
I hate it when I'm right
Much rather be wrong
I'd rather be wrong

My notion is that we're all players in a shell game
But that shame and fear will ultimately force the required political change
My falsifiable contention, however, had a part that I found loathsome
I wrote it weeks ago, sheltering in place, all by my lonesome

Let's keep the following proposition
At the back of our mind
Per the avuncular Doctor Fauci:
It is the virus that sets the timeline

Consider the distinctions
Between the following precepts
And remember, internal displacements,
Are strictly human concepts.

There's a markedly different,
Some say, alien scheduling
In the mode of operation
Of coronavirus RNA.

All these ongoing efforts
To shift the Overton window
Of received and conventional
Wisdom in this great USA

The walk of shame is a Hollywood fiction
Those recent examples notwithstanding
The Jacob Frey exception
Only proves the inconvenient rule

Boycotts, protests
And marches out of school
Wearing surgical or cloth masks,
Some tried social distancing
We listened to the young and old
The activists speechifying
Assisted by the customary
Red and white megaphones
The thing that lingers however is this:
The others, those others, play hardball
In this rigged Game of Thrones

The City of Brotherly Love
Just last week was taken over
By peaceful crowds
Singing old spirituals
And chants for social justice.
Rousing, yet graceful,
It was quite the scene.
But it also pays to be mindful
Of the fervent bullets that struck
And brought a summary end
To an earlier, righteous dream

Back in their big white mansions
Or second homes and apartment blocks
They're watching the dismaying parade
Of their "human capital stock"
The Dow Jones index just staged a surprising rally
Aided by reassurances from the Treasury
After the earlier, historic market rout
"It's a temporary inconvenience, there's no doubt"
You see they've gamed the whole scenario out
Their armies of public relations consultants
Advised a change of course: swiftly backing down
From the old faithful threat
Of "tremendous" military clout

A research note, it was short and savage
Factotums of The Great Vampire Squid
Suggested using the Fed's leverage
And minor fiscal action to keep the lid
On things. But here's the rub of Scrooge
The Ghost of Looters past
"The impact's going to be huge!
Tremendous! A one-time twelve hundred dollar check!
It will certainly be more than enough
Great again, for everyone to last"

Still, the phantom thread of greed
Lies at the heart of the matter
It explains the strategic retreat
To the hastily fortified bunker
And panic rooms serviced
By the crew of essential workers
At least those who manage to pass
The suite of rigorous testing,
Temperature checks tuned to their class

There's also all those actuarial tables
Now being furiously recalculated
By deputies of the Sage of Omaha
"As the Ewe proverb says, oh my brother",
We were reminded by Ananse the Spider,
His voice sounding as if gripped by a fever dream

"He who tests the depth of a river with both feet must be prepared to swim"

Now this winter of our discontent
Has gone on long past the month of Lent
Mardi Gras in New Orleans this year was a superspreading event
We're measuring the cost in excess deaths - a great amount.
We also know that after the earlier Sermon on the Mount
Came the reaction from Judas Iscariot, the young disciple
Our own Caesars obviously think they are nigh invincible
Free to discard the cautionary warning of The Mosquito Principle
Which simply states, with no equivocation or debate,
A simple phrase:

"Mosquitos don't discriminate"
More important, neither do viral clumps of RNA
Even in God's blessed and anointed country: the almighty USA

And so we heard the cries raised at the rally
Against The System and The Colossus
They yelled "Rhodes must fall"
To unhearing ears in limousines
That passed the scene, driving right along
The loudspeakers were playing their own song

And now to the Charge of the Light Brigade
The honor guards dressed up in their finest
Paramilitary stylings
Boxy, futuristic zombie uniforms
Courtesy of designers and celebrity architects
Straight from the prison and military industrial complex
Water cannons and helmets readied,
They were "locked and loaded"
A fearsome sight it was,
There were even recent graduates
Of the School of the Americas
With some sternly perched
Up high on their mounted horses

Everyone tried to step aside,
The crowd suffered and scattered
But a few were manhandled,
Or rather trampled
And some simply faltered
A double wound, this wrathful injury
Additional cases of assault and battery
It was those behind black-tinted windows, they said,
It was those privileged lives that really mattered

Throughout this ceremony of blood
And continued police brutality
Displayed in the full view of all humanity
They were learning the wrong lessons
Of the tale of the Sword of Damocles
'Twas Uncle Ben, if I recall correctly,
My memory of superheros is hopeless,
Who earlier said to Ananse the Spider

"With great power comes great responsibility"
A controversial opinion, even in the Spiderverse
That elevator pitch to those Masters of the Universe
Fell flat; it was an audience of rogue authoritarians
And Bunker Boys, all waiting for the barbarians
They still couldn't quite comprehend all this furor
So we may all yet reap The Wages of Thermidor

And so on to my gallows humour
Writ in the face of a covidious Reaper
I really wish this jaundiced zinger
Doesn't end up being a keeper
The short term gains are clearly treasured,
I do love to see this grand community
With decision move one step forward
While members of the Cult of Nostalgia,
Heads bowed, yet firmly averted,
Stay in denial, and look squarely backward
A bet about what happens over the long durée
Predicting the outcome of societal interplay
It was an amusing statement, I thought, a paradox for a day
That narratives of change may well get burnt by the sun
I hope history proves me wrong about this one:
There'll surely be time enough to assign the blame:

America's real herd immunity is to shame

Lions attack the modern traveller - p.50

See previously: Shell Games (Part I. Shame Cultures) for fuller context.

Herd Immunity, a playlist

A soundtrack for this note (spotify version)

  • Mountain of When by Amel Larrieux
    Simple ingredients: drums, chimes and her ethereal voice. Yet the song excavates the terrain of shame cultures and buyer's remorse. I am continually lost in its hypnotic mantra, it unravels me at each listen.
  • White Mansion by Prince
    The Revolution was started in Minneapolis, Prince fashioned his unique sound. The album, a second coming, was titled Emancipation.
  • One Step Forward by Les Nubians
    An Afrofuturist groove from an album that also features "Temperature Rising"
  • Winter in America by Gil Scott-Heron
    This urban griot preached and prophesized our cultural soundtrack of televised revolution. He is sorely missed, but his legacy lives on. The music and his lyrics should have the last word.

The muse wills what she wants, I am her faithful servant

I nominate this note to the Things Fall Apart Series. Observers are worried.

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