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How Pandemics Change History


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Here we fucking go again.

If we can read the article and identifiy the facts in it, and comment on those rather than any politics, we might start the thread off in a more interesting way. Otherwise it'll have to be canned like the last one. Can we do it??

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Nice work Andrew, and thank you for taking the lead here and orienting the thread correctly. Your comment certainly remarks on the wide variance in morality and strangely... individual coping mechanisms. And to the profiteers, fuck them!

You can see this even into the twentieth century with that wonderful film by Ingmar Bergman, “The Seventh Seal,” where the plague is a metaphor for what Bergman was worried about in 1957, which is nuclear war. One can see that it has all the things that I’ve been talking about with regard to the plague, including the danse macabre with which the film ends. You’d see paintings of the Grim Reaper coming, and it really is an example of the persistence of this artistic response to death.

I'm certainly a fan of ethnographic art film that leverages historical events as a catalyst in which to explore ideas and themes and somehow find myself curious how future filmmakers will exploit the catastrophic Covid-19, where this could lead and what it could say in a larger context. This virus, as other before it, will touch and influence so many lives... as storytellers it will be an interesting challenge to not only leverage this event, but finesse it beyond the mediocre. Let's see what comes.

BTW, the first film I saw as a child was The Andromeda Strain.

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How pandemics can change history? Well, sometimes a lot...

160-180 AD. The Antonine plague, some kind of smallpox, measles or bubbonic plague, strikes the Roman Empire at the very apex of its life. Weakened, the Empire is attacked simoultaneously by a coalition of barbarians on the Rhine and the Danube. After a lot of efforts the invasion is pushed back, but the Romans from now on will be always on the defensive, integrating more and more Germans in their amry ranks. Moreover, the impact on society was quite strong, with an economic crisis and an inflation which never stopped to rise for the next 150 years. It marked also the rise of other religions, in particular "revealed religion" like Christianity and Mithraism.

1919. The Spanish flue is widespread all over Europe. In the same year the treaty of Versailles was taking place among the belligerants of WWI. The US president Wilson, which was respected from the other parties and was supportive of softer terms against Germany, got sick from the flu and went back home. This left France a free hand to impost harsh terms on Germany. 16 years later Hitler came to power.

XVI-XVIII century. All the topic on smallpox, measles and the conquest of the New World, even if I don't think they are so much related.

1347. the Black Death kills one third of Europeans, but the other two thirds remaining made a leap forward. 100 years later there was the Reinassance, printing press, oceanic navigation, artillery, a strong middle class, the establishment of countries based on nationality like in France, England, Spain, Portugal, etc.

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8 hours ago, Andrew Reid said:

Here we fucking go again.

If we can read the article and identifiy the facts in it, and comment on those rather than any politics

I don’t have much faith. It’s not about politics anymore. It’s about hate and the fear and loathing that breeds it. 

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This is from Patricia Claus (a journalist ) who also mentions an 2003 epidemic if anyone can comment 

 

“Is this pandemic dangerous? Of course it is. Is it going to affect the economy? It is. But this is not the end of the world as we know it.

For a little historical perspective, the SARS virus had a fatality rate of 9.63% and the MERS virus had one of 34.45%. The Swine flu caused 12,469 deaths in the US and a total of 575,400 worldwide. And the bottom of the world’s economy did not fall out during those times.

Let’s all just take a breath and step back a bit from the 24/7 media frenzy. It is a part of human nature to want to be part of the herd, to not be left behind. But remember, this herd mentality can lead us off a cliff too.

The world faces similar emergencies pretty much every 5-10 years due to the constant mutation of viruses. In our opinion, there is no need to exaggerate the threat quite as much as is being done today.

Yes, it now appears to be true that the virus can live in aerosol form in the air for three hours and on surfaces for three days. That is cause for some major, and ongoing, disinfection and spring cleaning in our homes and public places.

And because the virus is especially dangerous to the elderly, without question, they must be protected.

One of our writers remembers the 2003 SARS outbreak very well, actually being diagnosed with that flu himself. Schools had closed for a month back then in Greece (15 days + 15 days off for Easter); that situation was very similar to what we face today. Who on earth remembers this now? No one. That’s why we think we need to put everything into perspective.

Yes, of course we need to be extremely careful, and not spread it to the elderly. And this virus does seem to be more easily spread due to its aerosolization and ability to live on surfaces. But the virulence of the coronavirus is so much less than some of these other pandemic viruses that we have lived through before.

As to the reasons exactly why so many are losing their minds – here are a few, gleaned from some astute observers of society today.

Twenty-four hour, mega-hyped Coronavirus headlines with bright red graphics and banners.

So-called news outlets designing and building Coronavirus sets and backdrops to get people to watch.

Scrolling headlines identifying the latest cases and deaths.

Nonstop discussions with experts with differing opinions.

The media focusing on the deaths — and never mentioning the recoveries.

This is fear-mongering on a billion-dollar budget.

Like it or not, the media, especially television, is the real controlling force in our world today, and the coronavirus seems to be a very lucrative disease for the networks.

Watching these nonstop, breathless warnings and dire predictions can lead to being excessively focused on oneself and one’s own family, to the detriment of others — the same mentality of feeling that it is justified to hoard everything within sight. This is a danger to ourselves and to the fabric of our society.

Ultimately, obsessively trying to kill every single germ that is in our vicinity is a game we cannot win, because no matter how many precautions we take, how many surfaces we disinfect — we simply cannot control everything.

Wash your hands, wipe down doorknobs and handles, cover your coughs and sneezes and stay home if you are sick or have been around someone that is sick. Social distancing, staying a meter away from others while we are in public, is a great idea right now.

And by all means, obey any and all travel restrictions that have been put in place for the good of everyone.

But there is no need for blind, apocalyptic panic — or mindless hoarding — whatsoever.

We must try to keep our economies going as much as we possibly can, through whatever means we can, while still obeying all the restrictions placed on us.

The world is not coming to an end, we will get through this — and we will learn a great deal in the process.”

 

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14 hours ago, Andrew Reid said:

we need as human beings to realize that we’re all in this together, that what affects one person anywhere affects everyone everywhere"

Societies are taking drastic measures, not because it's a virus of dangerous mortality, but it's a virus that of dangerous mortality to people that are medically vulnerable.  Taking steps to protect the most vulnerable in society is reassuring.

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15 hours ago, Andrew Reid said:

If we can read the article and identify the facts in it, and comment on those

It's been a weird century for America, Andrew.  We were tempered by the mid-20th for obvious reasons, but we're pretty much back to our standard MO.  As for the facts of the article and the author's assertions, there's no doubt history has shown us that health, food, shelter are the pillars of society.  When one of 'em wobbles, so do we all. 

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1 hour ago, fuzzynormal said:

Good 'ol Michael Crichton.  Still dealing with his storytelling impact on cinema all these years later.  Quite a populist's legacy with that guy.

How do you mean?

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1 hour ago, User said:

How do you mean?

Jurassic Park sequels still happenin'.  You ever read his books?  Might as well just be publishing them in the Final Draft format.  Not necessarily a bad thing.  They're breezy reads, they just feel like a movie script even as a novel.

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Ah yes... thanks.
Yes he has certainly left his polished mark on the mass collective psyche... fear, panic, and the triumph of good over evil. Never read the books... I'm sure there are enough around that if we had to keep warm, we'd be fine ;)

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On 3/21/2020 at 7:20 AM, odie said:

This is fear-mongering on a billion-dollar budget.

That reminds me of a certain "news" network that was constantly warning Americans that Obama was coming to take their guns away, and that the Ebola threat was all Obama's fault. And was happy to support a president who flat out lied about Obama not being a US citizen. 

Fear mongering on a billion-dollar budget, indeed.

 

On 3/21/2020 at 7:20 AM, odie said:

Wash your hands, wipe down doorknobs and handles, cover your coughs and sneezes and stay home if you are sick or have been around someone that is sick.

Unfortunately, it appears that transmission from person to person is quite likely when someone who has Coronavirus is still asymptomatic. Because in the US we didn't rush to provide testing kits and have a comprehensive testing strategy, the spread of the disease is far worse than it had to be.

 

On 3/21/2020 at 7:20 AM, odie said:

The media focusing on the deaths — and never mentioning the recoveries.

I've seen on CNN's website interviews with people who have recovered from Coronavirus. They all have said the same thing: Don't get coronavirus. It sucks.

 

On 3/21/2020 at 7:20 AM, odie said:

Watching these nonstop, breathless warnings and dire predictions can lead to being excessively focused on oneself and one’s own family, to the detriment of others...

Which is why we need medicare for all in the USA; so people will STOP being focused excessively on oneself and one's own family, to the detriment of others.

 

On 3/21/2020 at 7:20 AM, odie said:

For a little historical perspective, the SARS virus had a fatality rate of 9.63% and the MERS virus had one of 34.45%.

The mortality rates of SARS and MERS were higher than Covid-19. But Coronavirus is much more contagious (at least in today's world). At the END of the SARS epidemic, only 8,000 people WORLDWIDE had tested positive for SARS. As of today, over 44,000 people have tested positive for Covid-19... in the USA alone. Worldwide over 400,000 people have coronavirus. So that is an infection rate of over 50 times what the infection rate was for SARS. (Most likely, the number of people who are infected is significantly higher and is severely under-reported, as countries like Iran, China, and North Korea are suspected of covering up the number of actual cases and deaths from Covid-19).

On 3/21/2020 at 7:20 AM, odie said:

The Swine flu caused 12,469 deaths in the US and a total of 575,400 worldwide.

And we should avoid another 12,469 deaths in the US by pretty much any means necessary. Swine Flu was horrible.

On 3/21/2020 at 7:20 AM, odie said:

The world is not coming to an end, we will get through this — and we will learn a great deal in the process.”

Yeah, what we learned is that even after experiencing SARS, MERS, and Swine Flu, politicians will ignore the health of the people if they think that strong action to curb a pandemic would affect their ability to get re-elected. 

 

On 3/21/2020 at 7:20 AM, odie said:

Ultimately, obsessively trying to kill every single germ that is in our vicinity is a game we cannot win, because no matter how many precautions we take, how many surfaces we disinfect — we simply cannot control everything.

Absolutely NO ONE is obsessively trying to kill every single germ in their vicinity. What they are trying to do is get the governments (federal and local) to implement better testing and dedicate more resources to fighting this and other diseases. 

On 3/21/2020 at 7:20 AM, odie said:

The world is not coming to an end

For the people who DIED of SARS, MERS, Swine Flu, and will die from Covid-19, the world will certainly come to an end for them.

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