Saturday, November 14, 2020


 The pandemic is on everyone's mind these days, as it should be.  So far there are 54,318,841 cases world wide, and 1,318,044 deaths to date.  (Worldometer).  In the U.S. we have 11,226,038 cases and, so far 251,256 deaths.  (Worldometer - U.S.)    This is terrible.  And the restrictions placed on us to try to control it are irksome, and it's spiraling out of control because we're getting tired of them.

But in a historical context, how bad is it really?  A little over a million dead worldwide, out of a population of 7.8 billion.  That's one in 6,000 people, world wide, roughly .017% of world population.  In the U.S., with a population of 331,740,396, it's one in about 1,320 people, or .76% - worse than the worldwide stats, but then we are the number one hotspot these days.  Population statistics from the World Population  Review for the U.S..

A recent Candorville cartoon claimed that the 1918 flu killed 1 person in 75.  This is a little simplistic, because estimates of the total number of deaths range from 17.4 million (.95% of world population) to 50 million (2.7%) to 100 million (5.4%).  World population at the time was estimated at 1.8 billion.  (Numbers from the Our World in Data article on the Spanish flu.)

Compare that to our estimate for the coronavirus of .017% of world population and .76% of U.S. population.

For an even more horrific example, consider the Black Death (bubonic plague) which devastated Europe in the mid-14th century.  Wikipedia says it "is estimated to have killed 30% to 60% of Europe's population." That's between 1 in 3 and 1 in 6 people.  It took until 1500 to reach the population Europe had in 1300.  And at that period, medical knowledge was rudimentary and hospitals were run by religious orders. We now know it was caused by a virus carried by rats and fleas; the actual cause of the bubonic plague wasn't identified until the mid-19th century. So people died from a nameless disease and didn't know where it came from.

I'm not saying we have it easy right now.  I'm just suggesting it could be worse.  We're also flooded with news about our pandemic, every day, all day, on general media sources and social media.  We've also come to believe that modern medicine can cure everything, because up till now it's done a pretty good job overall.  So we have trouble believing it can't cure this.  It may yet, there are promising vaccines on the way.  Until they get here, mask up and remember - it could be worse.

Monday, November 09, 2020

Election Results

I admit I was very relieved when the press called the 2020 election for Joe Biden on Saturday.  I felt relieved and happy all day, although unlike some people I didn't go out and dance in the street.  This was a major change from the 2016 election, in which I was happy all election day until the votes started piling up for Trump in the evening.  After it was clear he had won, I spent about three days in a sort of stunned coma, before I recovered enough to resume normal life. I had a really bad feeling about that presidency, and it gives me no satisfaction at all to realize I was right.

Now, 2 days after the election was called, my elation has subsided.  They're still counting votes, but it's clear that Biden is winning both the electoral college and the popular vote, by solid margins.  But Trump is still there, and he's refusing to concede, claiming election officials are concealing massive voter fraud and Democrats are conspiring to "steal" the election from him.  Unless someone can eliminate his Twitter feed, we'll never be rid of him.

I'm also disappointed in the Democrats.  I can't quite identify what they did wrong, but they were convinced they were going to sweep both houses, and I think it went to their heads.  As it is, the Republicans are on the edge of retaining a Senate majority and the  Democrats have lost seats in the house, and we're facing another 4 years of Mitch McConnell refusing to do anything the President or the Democrats - or the people of the United States - want him to do.