CONSEQUENCES, INTENDED & OTHERWISE
The Home Front
How Response to the Pandemic is Clearing the Air
“Here's an unexpected side effect of the pandemic,” tweeted a woman in Italy. “The water flowing through the canals of Venice is clear for the first time in forever. The fish are visible, the swans returned.” With Italy on lockdown, NASA satellite images show significant drops in pollution. And from the once smog-laden city where the outbreak originated, a young man tweets, “I'm in the central city of China-Wuhan, today the weather is very good, the blue sky, birds and trees have grown green! Under the control of the virus outbreak, our city will usher in a beautiful spring!”
Halting human activity in response to COVID-19 seems to be reversing (if only temporarily) some of the environmental devastation Rachel Carlson wrote about in her famous book, Silent Spring. Open your window and listen; can you hear more birds today?
A close-up of President Trump's notes for a March 19 press conference: "Corona" was replaced with "Chinese" Virus. (Jabin Botsford—The Washington Post/Getty Images)
STOP, LOOK, LISTEN!
Consequences: Intended and Otherwise
I intended to be back in Sevilla by now, but here I am in Pennsylvania, sheltering in place. I have a lot more freedom of movement than you have in Spain, but we all have WAY too much time to obsess about everything. For instance: Do you think it's possible that I inadvertently started all this months ago, when I invoked a pox upon Mitch McConnell? (I've read The Secret, about unleashing the awesome power of our thoughts...) I now see that I should have envisioned something non-contagious for him, like flatulence, or excessive nose hair.
New Yorker: How Pandemics Change History by Isaac Chotiner
Epidemics are a category of disease that seem to hold up the mirror to human beings as to who we really are. They reflect our relationships with the environment. They show the moral relationships that we have toward each other as people.
Pointing the finger:
Time: Trump's 'Chinese' Virus Is Part of a Long History of Blaming Other Countries for Disease by Becky Little
Associating diseases with specific countries has led to ethnic and racial discrimination, stymied efforts to effectively handle public health crises, and distorted public historical memory.
Changing the rules:
Slate: America Is a Sham by Dan Kois
Whenever the government or a corporation benevolently withdraws some penalty because of the coronavirus, it’s a signal that there was never any good reason for it in the first place.
Stuff You Should Know: The Pledge of Allegiance (15 min)
Salute your flag, and thank a socialist.
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