The unbearable absence of socialization

In the last 3 months, socialization has been a dirty word, banned from polite circles. This episode has felt like some black and white science-fiction chapter where aliens invaded and occupied planet Earth.

Ellen, Jean-Michel, Tamara

Direct physical contact with other people was prohibited, or severely restricted. But human beings (like wolves) are pack animals, and deprived of associating with their kind, they languish… and howl at the moon. Yes, I have done it…

Socialization was discouraged mainly due to the lethal threat wielded by the invisible enemy. Harmless looking people could be infected, and like foreign saboteurs, they could wreak havoc on society. The safest way to avoid disaster was then to hunker in your bunker.

But isolation negatively affects the human animal. To remain healthy, he needs to regularly associate with his species. And with time, and with a partial abatement of the pandemic, the desire for socialization has grown stronger.

Every state and every county in the US initially implemented stringent measures to avoid widespread contamination. Slowly, carefully, authorities have relaxed their protective measures, and people are tentatively coming out of their shells.

In Marin County, many stores have reopened and restaurants have been allowed to serve meals outside. This encouraged many people to sponsor these places, and we did too.

Then, following the example of our very social neighbors, we also reached to renew old ties. But some people are still hesitant to rejoin their flocks. My advice to them is as follows:

 Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet.” Oliver North

Taking Oliver’s suggestion in stride, my wife and I invited Jean-Michel P. and his girlfriend Ellen to share a drink and a bite with us.
Due to intensive construction in my property, we cannot come said Le Facteur, but why don’t you come yourselves to my place? I have a new pétanque court and we could play a few games.

Did you say pétanque? What is it? I vaguely remember something about it… Oh yes, a game I played a long time ago… But I am not sure that I would remember what to do…

In closing…

Well, we went to Jean-Michel’s lair and we had a great time. We ate, we drank, we reminisced, and yes, we played pétanque on his  beautiful new court. Of course, we all wore masks (all created by industrious Tamara).

I had not played the game for at least 3 months, and it showed. Jean-Michel and Ellen trounced us! But I remained polite and professional… even though I briefly of murdering them.

Altogether, a pleasant day of renewed friendship and reexperienced socialization.


Stop the non-sense

Stop the non-sense and come down to earth.

Protest demonstrations are praiseworthy as long as they remain orderly and peaceful. But the minute they degenerate into chaos and vandalism, a disciplined police force is absolutely necessary.
And what about when a madman barricaded in his house threatens to kill wife and children…? Who are you going to call? The Holy Spirit?

In any protest, there are well-intentioned citizens… and opportunists looking for trouble or monetary gains. Arson and looting are their way of showing support for their cause.
Talks about disbanding police departments are utter non-sense. If it ever happened, expect unmitigated violence and countless innocent victims.

A society without a police department is bound to hit the reef very quickly. The vacuum created by such an absurd decision would inevitably give birth to different factions fighting for supremacy. And I don’t even dare to imagine what would happen to a country already awash with guns. The combination of social unrest and armed citizens makes for a very volatile combination.
I am pretty sure that nobody wants a Lebanon reoccurrence (15 years of civil war) in a society controlled by armed thugs.

In every barrel, there are some bad apples, but you don’t dispose of the entire barrel because of a few tainted fruits… I don’t know of any perfect organization where every member is beyond criticism. And so are police departments. Some cops are racist and abuse their power, but I believe that the majority of them want to do a good/difficult job.
So, stop the non-sense and consider reasonable alternatives to disbanding police forces.

Reforms, training, and sustained discipline are what are necessary, not some ill-thought idea. Policing a community is a difficult, thankless job and the bad guys are not always in uniform. This is absolutely not an excuse for brutality, but a daily reality.

When stopped by a police officer, do not resist, do not run. Do what experts recommend when confronted by a brown/grizzly bear: play dead. Remain still until the bear leaves the area. Resisting is futile and risky. The cop might be high strung, and you could also be nervous. A volatile combination. Just stay calm and comply with his/her demands. I doubt very much that if you obey, you would be slammed to the ground.

An army is only as good as its command. All the police chiefs ought to be held accountable for the behavior of their troops. If a soldier misbehaves, throw him in the brig, fire the general, and retrain the troops.

So again, stop the non-sense and consider serious reforms instead of disbanding police forces.


The benefits of contact tracing

I just downloaded a Contact Tracing app called Healthy Together.

With all the chaos (and absence of social distancing) resulting from numerous demonstrations all over the country, a second wave of Covid-19 seems inevitable. It is thus wise to be prepared for this eventuality.

This application (available in the Apple App Store) keeps track through WI-FI of all the people you have recently been in close contact. If you suddenly develop symptoms associated with COVID- 19, medical authorities will know who might have infected you.

“The Healthy Together app helps you assess your symptoms, find the nearest testing center, view test results, and learn what to do after you’ve been tested for COVID-19.”

When you install this app on your phone, it first asks about a dozen questions (Yes or No) regarding the state of your health. From then on, it will ask daily to self-report how you feel; you will have to answer 7 or 8 questions, an easy task that can be done in less than a minute.

It will then assess your symptoms, and if need be, direct you to the nearest COVID-19 testing center. You will also get prompt results and be told what to do next.

In the eventuality of a new outbreak, contact tracing will make it easier to identify the people who have been contaminated.  It can be very helpful to prevent a widespread resurgence of the pandemic.

Some people are worried about privacy and are suspicious of this application. But as it is today, we have very little privacy left, and your life might be more valuable to you than your privacy.

In any case, the also app states the following:

“Users own their data and can delete their data at any time. The use of your data is limited to COVID-19 response efforts. Any location data will be automatically deleted after 30 days.”

To sum it up

The Utah Department of Health is already using contact tracing and urges everybody to participate in this program.

So, what have you got to lose? Some thin shreds of privacy? Is it not worth it to save a few lives…

The more people participate in this program, the safer we will all be.