2020 and all that

Since the year is almost over, I thought I would have a small review of the year, from my point of view. From my perspective, the year started with nice warm weather, and rather remarkable sunsets. Australia had some terrible bushfires. Still, all was well where I live. NZ had some fires as well, although nothing like the Australian ones.

My daughter-in-law is Chinese, and her parents live near the edge of Hunan province, but her father travels to work in a factory in adjacent Hubei province, and in February that got locked down. I am not quite sure what happened exactly, but her father could not return home for nearly a week. That is putting in overtime! When Tian announced that Wuhan would build a thousand-bed hospital in ten days, I did not believe her, but they did, in the middle of a lockdown. The Chinese lockdown was interesting. Soldiers from the PLA would but paper tape over everyone’s doors. If you wanted groceries a soldier would take away the tape, you would go collect them, then the tape would be replaced. Break the tape and be naughty, an automatic six months in a Chinese jail, and you don’t get time off for good behaviour. Good behaviour is required, and avoids the consequences of bad behaviour. If your naughtiness could reasonably, in the eye of the party, have led to someone else getting the virus as a consequence of your behaviour, five years. The Chinese behaved and by all accounts the virus was essentially eliminated and life returned to normal in China in a couple of months, other than the odd outbreak from Chinese returning from somewhere else.

Inevitably, the virus landed in New Zealand, and our government tried a strategy of elimination. It was fascinating in that on day one I was out on the road running alongside the bank that encloses my property to cut back vegetation and make it easier for road users. A pedestrian came down the road and immediately crossed to the other side when he saw me. I live on the side of a hill, and I can look down on the main highway going into Wellington. It was weird: almost no vehicles. How could this be? During the major lockdown, my daughter brought me groceries once a week; she, being a senior physician at Wellington Hospital had a priority time for grocery shopping when all and sundry were not allowed. On a personal level, I had one scary moment when the lockdown was eased off. On the first evening, I went to a scheduled meeting that we all thought would be cancelled, but wasn’t. I was driving down what is normally one of the busiest roads in the valley when a van flew out of a commercial building and shot across the road, presumably being used to empty roads. Fortunately, I still have very good reflexes, and it seems good brakes.

The good news is that while there were the odd example of a leakage, the virus appears to be eliminated here, and sports events, summer festivals, etc are apparently going to proceed as usual. While the tourist/hospitality sector has been in trouble, and probably will continue to be, life in New Zealand has returned to normal.

At a personal level, I was invited to write a chapter on hydrothermal processing of biomass by a major book publishing company. I agreed, and that was settled prior to the virus outbreak. I sent in the chapter, but never heard any more about it. I suppose it gave me something to do over the period. I also finished and started revising my next novel, provisionally called “Spoliation” so please go to https://www.inkshares.com/books/spoliation to read chapter one.

The election here had the government returned with a record majority, while in the US there was a narrow defeat. What does this all mean? The most critical problems for 2021 will be how to fix the economies and how to deal with the virus. There are vaccines for the virus, but unless the virus is eliminated, it will stay with us, and now it depends on how long the vaccines work. My guess is revaccination will probably need to be frequent unless we do eliminate it, and I can’t see that happening as only too many countries do not see that as an objective. Meanwhile, the virus is mutating. As for the economies, what happens will be critically dependent on what governments and central banks do. We may be cursed with more interesting times.This will be my last post for 2020. Since it is summer here, and Christmas is imminent, I shall be distracted, but I shall return in mid January. In the meantime, I wish you all a very merry Christmas, and a healthy virus-free 2021.

4 thoughts on “2020 and all that

  1. Dear Ian:
    Happy Solstice!
    The strategy of ELIMINATING the virus was chosen by the Chinese dictatorship… And that was an excellent strategy. In the West, which used to long be at the forefront of civilization, and thus, of thinking, that strategy was not deemed necessary, by our “experts”. That was extremely stupid.
    Indeed what was going on? We were confronted to a new coronavirus. That should have risen alarm bells. There is no vaccine against common colds, caused by coronaviruses. Although vaccines were tried, for decades. Now the preceding and related SARS-CoV1 succumbed to hydroxychloroquine, and is not so easily transmissible, as transmissibility started after symptoms. By the time a candidate vaccine was developed, the virus was gone.
    In this case it became quickly clear that the virus transmitted before symptoms, and that, like SARS-C0V1, it was airborne. The latter point became obvious to Japanese scientists who caught the disease on that cruise ship, although they took maximal precautions.

    • Dear Patrice,
      Happy New Year, and a delayed Io Saturnalia!
      The Western response was, in my opinion, determined by money. People did not want to pay the price of eliminating the virus, not helped by the “conspiracy theorists” that insisted it was a mild flu. Other “experts apparently noted only a few cases, so it would disappear. What part of “exponential growth” did they not understand? My view – dollars. Can’t afford to lose some of them. Of course, now most are losing far more, except for the likes of Bezos who seems to have made an extra $70 billion.

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