Another breakfast, another Today programme, more Diddledum and Diddledee. The latter, Martha “I’ve got a beehive in my bra, more on that story later” Kearney, has refined her primary distraction technique of singing rather than speaking her questions so well that at least one listener half expects the answers to come back from the chorus in a Gilbert and Sullivan opera. They never do though; instead yesterday morning we had the drone of Nick Gibbs, the schools minister, warbling on about keeping children safe, and ramping up the tedious testing charade, now rendered even more farcical by the discovery that a drop of Ribena can put the kybosh on a school. Earlier this week, the Telegraph compiled a dossier of the devastation triggered by over-reaction to the covid threat in schools, a litany of intellectual and social larceny that has seen schools and facilities closed, play time like prison camp, and, most bizarrely of all, escorts on trips to the loo, to make sure kids “don’t go off and meet other children and cross-contaminate bubbles”. Rosa Klebb, it turns out, is alive and well in British schools.
“The killer never came. The fact that it was feared is one of many things to show how little experts understand the flu, and thus how shaky are the health initiatives launched in its name. What influenza needs, above all, is research.” Neustadt and Fineberg, The Swine Flu Affair, 1978Reviewing the TV series Holocaust in 1978, Clive James said that “Santayana was probably wrong when he said that those who forget the past are condemned to relive it. Those who remember are condemned to relive it too.” We shall probably never know whether the scientists and politicians who led the global and national Charges of the Light Brigade into the Valley of Covid — theirs not to reason why, theirs but to tell the lie, ours not to question why, ours but to do and die — knew of the past, but chose to ignore it, or whether they were negligently unaware of it. But one thing is certain: the unprecedented — that poor overwrought and overworked word — arrival of a virus of pandemic potential eighteen months ago is anything but unprecedented. There have been a number of pandemics over the last century, and so there is much past to be remembered, including among the many others the 1976 swine flu nondemic.
A clip, heard on Radio Four’s The Film Programme yesterday, reminded Dr No of a vaguely remembered article by Milos Forman, director of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which posed The Czech Question: Do You Want to Live in a Zoo or a Jungle? On the one hand, Forman suggests, “Life in the zoo is somehow comfortable. You don’t have to try hard and you still get your food. True, you don’t have any choices: you eat what they give you, but you do eat. And you are protected: No tiger will attack you, no snake will bite you. True, you are in a cage, but so are the tiger and the snake”; on the other, he suggests “the jungle is alluring, beautiful. You can see it in the eyes of East Germans when they cross the wall. They are fascinated by the variety of colo[u]rs that life in the jungle can offer. And you are free! You can go wherever, whenever and however you wish. But you can get lost, or attacked by the tiger, bitten by the snake, stung by parasites or leeches. It will not be easy for people who have lived for decades in the zoo to adapt”.
Further proof, were further proof needed, that the World Health Organisation (WHO) is Not Up To Scratch (NUTS) can be found on its website in documents that are completely at odds with each other. On the one hand, one corps of the health fascists wants governments to ban — without a shred of evidence — all alcohol for all women of childbearing age, a preposterous example of coercive healthism so extreme that could easily fill a post of its own. On the other hand, another corps of the health fascists breezily endorses — no need to worry about that side effect nonsense round here — covid mRNA vaccines for all but all women of childbearing age, despite animal studies showing that the vaccine is very likely (we can’t yet say certainly, as we shall see presently) preferentially concentrated in the ovaries. One blasted precautionary principle so large it can be seen from space, another blasted precautionary principle so small not even an electron microscope could detect it. Truly, the WHO is NUTS.
Florence Nightingale diagrams continue to do the rounds, both literally and figuratively. Variously also known as wedge diagrams (correct), coxcombs (misnomer, Nightingale’s coxcomb was the whole package), rose charts (by any other name, would still go round in circles), polar area charts (sometimes correct), and, in this parish, ring piece charts (for reasons that will become apparent), the general view seems to be that they are pretty and informative, and come with the added kudos of a shine from the Nightingale lamp. If they were good enough for dear Flo, then they are more than good enough for us. Dr No happens to think rather the opposite. They are always messy, often confusing, and, worst of all, frequently misleading.
Who pay checks the fact checkers? A intriguing post by a Bad Medicine reader led to information on facebot, of all places, suggesting that a vaccine manufacturer funds factcheck.org, facebot’s fact checker, so Dr No decided to follow the money, and dig deeper. What he found is interesting, in the faux-Chinese way. In the three months ending on 31st March 2021, factcheck.org received $53,501 from a health foundation that has over $2 billion invested in Johnson & Johnson, the pharmaceutical giant and leading covid–19 vaccine manufacturer. Specifically, the $53k grant funds factcheck.org’s SciCheck’s COVID-19/Vaccination Project, which aims to “to increase exposure to accurate information about COVID-19 and vaccines, while decreasing the impact of misinformation.” An independent fact checking organisation with a mission to debunk vaccine misinformation, funded indirectly by a vaccine manufacturer. What could possibly go wrong?
Let’s get the definitions out of the way. Unqualified, apartheid means the repugnant South African system of segregation by race. It comes “from Afrikaans, literally ‘separateness’, from Dutch apart ‘separate’ + -heid (equivalent of -hood)”: apart-hood. The word itself doesn’t make any reference to race, it just happened it arose in South Africa, and by its use there, unqualified, it came to mean racial apartheid. But the word — apartheid/apart-hood, or apartness, or separateness — can apply to any form of segregation. The phrase sexual apartheid makes perfect sense, segregation of the basis of sex. So to does the phrase religious apartheid, segregation on the basis of religion. And so too does the phrase covid apartheid, segregation on the basis of covid status. The repugnant state of racial apartheid can very meaningfully be found mirrored in the repugnant state of covid apartheid. Once you have separateness, or segregation, on the basis of this or that, you have apartheid; all that is necessary is to specify the basis of segregation, and then you have a fully formed phrase of clear meaning.
An article published yesterday on off-Guardian, which coincidently makes welcome use of an earlier Dr No post on covid death certification, points out the menace of politicians and the MSM using cumulative covid deaths as a sort of fat crocodile, that only ever gets bigger, leaving so many to wonder who the crocodile will eat next. Like the gift that keeps on giving, it is the crocodile that keeps on growing. As the article says, cumulative covid deaths are about as useful as a cumulative unemployment counts, because neither tell you what is happening now. Yet there is another cumulative death count that paints a rather different picture, and does have some merit in putting the pandemic in perspective. It is the cumulative all cause death count.