Monthly Archives: May 2020

Keep Calm and Stay Negative

by J. ‘Giant’ Patel, MD

I never did understand the ancient Chinese benediction. Interesting times aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. In fact now that I’ve experienced them for the first time, I don’t think I’d wish them on my worst enemy.

In these apocalyptic days you could be forgiven for thinking the New York Times was the New Testament—only there’s nothing fictional about it! Still, I doubt even St John, in his most malarial fever-dreams, during his own lockdown on Patmos, could have come up with headlines like these:

Comics Finally Grow Up: DC’s Batman to be Killed off by Zoonotic Respiratory Virus

Wave of Unattractive Babies Locked in for Early 2021 as Housewives Forced to Sleep With Own Husbands

With Pangolin Sector Bleeding $1bn a Day, Can an Edgy Ad Campaign Restore Faith in Locally-Slaughtered Product?

As promised, here are the top (and only) eight things you need to bear in mind during this crisis. By committing these knows and known’ts to memory you can cut your risk of becoming another statistic by 82%, say statisticians.

Remember, knowledge is power so avoid infection by using the proper terminology. COVID-19 is a syndrome, caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This is wrongly called corona, or coronavirus, by people who deserve to catch it, according to the latest doctors. It’s actually just one of several coronaviridae—the “novel” one identified last year. (Yes, the number 19 is a date, not an ordinal). 

Here’s a simple mnemonic: you wouldn’t say you “respect science,” would you? 

Of course not. The noun requires a definite article, or better yet the definite article.

Also known as chinaviruses, coronaviruses are members of the cervezavirus group.

Emergency surgery is still being performed throughout Europe and the US, but operating theatres and trauma clinics are at breaking point. As always, most of the strain on the system is due to the Big Cs—complications of childbirth, cerebrovascular crises, and cancer—so avoid having these until the pandemic blows over.

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If you must move from domicile to domicile, stick to the roads. Leave the canals and skies free for the use of essential workers like medical and executive types. And, of course, climate researchers. 

For the world’s leading scientists, videoconferencing is simply no substitute for meeting face to face. That’s where the hurly-burly of hypothesis testing takes place: at a United Nations IPCC retreat or Conferences of Parties, where up to 2,500 partygoers can come together to look each other in the eyes and ask questions, observing body language, vocal quality, pupil dilation and the rest of the 90% of human communication that occurs non-verbally [source: science].

Until a theory passes this test of peer approval, explains Harvard’s Naomi Oreskes, “it remains just that: a crank opinion.”

Social-distancing laws for conjoined twins—or Siamese twins, as they prefer to be known—differ from country to country. In a number of controversial cases in Europe, both twins have been fined for breaching the 1.5m rule.

If you and your Siamese twin—or Thai twin, to use the geopolitically-correct term—each have a paying job, this might be a risk you can live with.

Otherwise, why not use the pandemic as an excuse to get that separation you’ve been promising yourselves? Before you pencil the procedure in, though, always consult with your other half to make sure the date works for both of you. If you need to cancel because of a clash, it may be weeks or even months before your surgeon can fit you in again.

Hypercloroxaemia is no joke. We’ve still got surprisingly little hard data on the ideal blood-bleach level [BBL] for humans. What is emerging clearly, however, is that people seem to have different thresholds for experiencing the less desirable effects of imbibing and mainlining over-the-counter disinfectants. 

That’s why you need to stay on the lookout for delirium detergens (‘Lysol brain’) and other signs of Disinfectant Overdose Syndrome. The White House Coronavirus Task Force website lists the most common symptoms and is updated regularly as case reports come in.

If you think you or someone in your family member has overindulged on cleaning agents, don’t panic. A germ-based antidote is easy to prepare, using only the filth found in the average home. Garden fertilizer, shower-mold scrapings and kitchen waste are all rich in essential pathogens and can be diluted with water to taste. The resulting greasy broth should be taken by mouth—or, if rapid relief is needed, intravenously—until any excess disinfectant in your system is cancelled out. 

Once you’ve had the dreaded DDs, you won’t soon forget the dangers of drinking bleach irresponsibly!

Ever noticed how rat meat, when boiled or steamed, looks pretty much the same as de-shelled pangolin? So yeah, there’s probably something in that.

One thing you should binge on is television.

According to some doctors your so-called ‘mental’ health is almost as important as actual, real health. But in these times of medical angst, social alienation and financial stress, a bottomless well of depression is only a glance at the mirror away. To avoid it, simply distract your brain with an equally-bottomless feedbag of audiovisual stimulation. 

Climate Nuremberg recommends starting with The Orville, a show that’s been honored with just about every Most Original category the Emmy Awards have to offer. Set aboard a spaceship of the same name, The Orville stunned aficionados in late 2017 by bringing the ideas of sci-fi legend Gene Roddenberry to the screen for the first time. 

Roddenberry’s mythos had long been regarded as un-filmable—too anodyne and (at the same time) anhedonic to hold an audience’s attention. The challenge might have deterred a lesser show-runner, but for Seth McFarlane it was an Everest to be conquered, a bastard to be climbed because it was there. Fortunately for viewers, Fox had enough faith in the Family Guy auteur to give McFarlane full creative rope.

Imagine, if you will, a future where mankind has eliminated suffering and disease but without falling into the easy trap of replacing them with anything (such as humor, art, music, sexuality, running or any other expression of joy); a sterile paradise where diversity quotas and meritocratic principles turn out to be in complete non-contradiction after all. This is the civilizational matrix that produces our heroes, the crew of the USS Orville, and sends them forth as emissaries and explorers to alien worlds. 

Their mission: to discover backward new cultures and document their benighted ways on a strictly hands-off basis, like blue-helmeted eunuchs at a central African massacre. 

Producer and writer McFarlane also plays the show’s protagonist Captain Ed Mercer, and it’s his versatility as an actor which is perhaps the biggest revelation of all. You probably know him for being funny, but The Orville proves he’s equally at home with desperately unfunny material.

Purists have faulted the series for the occasional detail that deviates from Roddenberry’s vision. Most egregiously, some of the primary-colored uniforms that distinguish ranks within the Planetary Union fleet have been switched around. But the trifling scale of such objections only highlights how meticulously the show hews to its sources, all things considered.

Less astute readers may have formed the impression by now that The Orville is the only TV show, but this is far from the case, with up to several non-Orville-based programs also in existence. So even after you’ve enjoyed both seasons in full—making a total of 26 episodes—two or three times, there’s no need to switch activities. Scientists have estimated that the televisual product range of a single studio like Netflix is enough to keep you in a continuous state of diversion, even if you never sleep. So sit down, strap in, tap or swipe and veg out; you’ll never need to think about adult themes like your own life again.

Keep your distance. As a layperson, you probably have difficulty getting your brain around fancy scientific facts and figures like 1.5 metres and 0.000932 miles. But with a little lateral thinking, basic hygiene doesn’t have to do your head in! When in public, simply get a 4’11” woman or child to lie on the ground and act as a ‘compass,’ drawing a ‘Circle of Safety’ between you and any potential plague-carriers. 

But social distancing is a complete philosophy, and personal space is only one small aspect of it. The use of “othering” language at all times is just as important, so as to reinforce the us-versus-them relationship between Have-COVIDs and Have-Nots.

Fortunately the climate debate itself is the ideal rehearsal for this. As Nuremberg readers you’ve had years of practice deprivileging members of the out-group. 

It can be easy to think and speak of the sick as somehow human. While the pestiferous are certainly a higher species than climate skeptics, they should never be confused with fully-realized, worthwhile beings in the sense in which we recognize science-abiding citizens.

Change your locks regularly.

With the first reports emerging from Northern Spain and the Lombardy region of room-to-room transmission, scientists who study evolution say the virus is learning how to use door handles faster than anyone expected.

What Would Anton Chigurh Do? This one should be self-explanatory.

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At the end of the day, it’s about listening to that little voice of germophobia in your head.

Never eat a pangolin you didn’t flay yourself. Next time someone offers you pangolin flesh they cooked in advance—whether it’s a complete stranger or a good friend— politely but firmly decline, citing the latest common sense. Some people find this embarrassing the first few times, but a little social awkwardness is a small price to pay for avoiding pneumonia, death and possible loss of your sense of smell (anosmia).

If you must order pangolin at a restaurant, ask them to peel it in front of you. A good pangolinier should be happy to prepare the flesh at the patron’s table.

Take some ancient advice and lock your wives down in separate rooms. Familiarize yourself with the sexual-distancing laws that apply to you. The number of wives you’re permitted to have sex with at one time varies from country to country, and is continually changing as we learn more about the virus.

This post is not a substitute for advice from your Shari’a scholar.

Use science. As more and more members of the community recover from COVID-19 infection on a daily basis, so-called ‘convalescent serum’ has become a promising anti-viral resource. The question is how, exactly, to tap into this growing reservoir of immunity.

Taking a hint from historians, scientists recommend taking a hint from history’s great scientists: the pioneers of the vaccine revolution, to be precise.

Even when someone is no longer COVID-positive it doesn’t always mean they’re immune to another cause of death—like being proverbially ‘hit by a bus’ you’re driving. Pedestrian casualties are a daily occurrence and, while tragic, rarely attract much attention from the authorities. 

First, harvest the spinal cord from the body. Using a clean mortar and pestle, grind the nerves and cerebrospinal fluid into a paste, aiming for a consistency and taste halfway between cheap coffee and a molar pregnancy. Then dilute this with antibody-rich blood until the unholy elixir, or miracle jab, is easily drawn into a syringe et voilà! 

In less than 30 minutes you’ve produced the potion it supposedly takes Big Health eighteen months to discover, invent, and invent a way of producing.

Remember, inoculate yourself first. Then you can assist children and other family members who may be having difficulty getting the needle into their deltoids.  

Liquidate everything you own and put it in vanadium futures.

Thats vanadium with a V explain later DO IT NOW

Before becoming CN’s Senior Health Correspondent, Dr Jayant Patel spent a long medical career dealing with outbreaks of disease seemingly everywhere he was posted. His decision to wash his hands in 2005 was credited with finally putting an end to the wave of iatrogenic infections that had devastated Bundaberg Hospital in Queensland, Australia.


Together, we can survive COVID-19 and die of climate change

Sometimes, when your eyes have adjusted to the darkness, you start to discern in the dark even darker darknesses than you ever knew possible. Tomorrow you’ll forget the truth like a bad dream; you know this now, as surely as you know that in the morning everything you know about the dark will be an unknown unknown all over again. Scientists at Cornell West University’s Black Studies Institute now recognize fifty different shades of #000000FF, but only at night; when the cock crows they’ll deny it point-blank. At first light they’ll denigrate the whole, rich spectrum of sables by reducing them to the name of a crayon.

And so it goes right now, with this pandemic we’re waiting out. Yes, it’s a pain in the rectum. Yes, things are looking dark. But squint real hard and you might just make out, at the end of the tunnel, the light-extinguishing singularity that is climate change.

Nobody really wants to be killed by the new coronavirus. If it happens it happens, but let’s be honest: back in first grade, when Ms Strzlecki asked us what we wanted to die of when we grew up, how many of us said COVID-19?

Life has to end sometime so we can experience other things. But we’d rather be a little older when it happens, wouldn’t we? And we want it to be from climate. In our own house, a house we’ve paid off, a house echoing with the screams of children, the pitter-patter of tiny rats’ feet and the lamentations of the women.

There’s no social distancing in extremis. What keeps us living today is the promise of dying in the arms of our loved ones tomorrow—embalmed by fire, acid-etched by ocean, fused together in confusion, welded in holy matrimony. Flesh made lime, stone made incorruptible.

White or olive or Asian or female of color, we all return to black in this fantasy: black and charred like the burghers of Pompeii, the black from which you can never go back.

That’s the family thanatograph you carry in your mind’s wallet like the sepia icons of saints, next to your ass at all times.

(Have you ever wondered why we keep our valuables as close as possible to our centre of mass? The Aztecs must have known, because—with an understanding of both anatomy and Spanish that was centuries ahead of its time—they called the human pelvis la calavera mayor: the larger of two skulls.)

We’ve all made peace with our mortality by now. We know we’re going to die—a Guardian subscription and a couple of SPMs will do that. But it wasn’t meant to happen for another ten years, maybe 12 if the world gets serious about carbon austerity. Life owes us that much. The science owes us. Understandings were exchanged; elbows were shaken.

When an immediate threat like COVID-19 comes along, we start to question everything. At our lowest ebb we even lash out at the people who least deserve it: the climate scientists. Why didn’t they warn us?, we cry, shaking our fists at the atmosphere.

Then, as suddenly as it came over us, the rage recedes, leaving only a deep shame at our own ingratitude. Where do we get off taking every scholarly body of national or international standing for granted? What about everything they did predict—and I don’t mean the actual trends, which any farm-boy with a ruler and a Farmer’s Almanac could have extrapolated. I’m talking the thousands of extra things they’ve told us about, most of which won’t even come true!

And here we are ensconced in our homes, the opulence of which the first Emperor of China could never have imagined, bitching about a single false negative? Shame on us for taking out our wounded entitlement on the very people who’ve devoted their lives to giving us paper after paper after paper full of false positives. Once we turn on each other, the virus wins. The scientists might be smarter than us. They might fly Premium Business to tropical science conferences while we grow malnourished and deconditioned in our fraidy-holes. But at the end of the day we’re all in this together.

Viruses don’t last forever, unless ‘under the Siberian permafrost’ counts, and anyway, studies show that in a few years’ time kids aren’t going to know what Siberia is.

Life will find a way. It will return to the New Normal of weather death, diffuse disseminated ecolysis, climate acidification and cosmological anomie. Together we can make it through this vale of shadows and into the Black Hole of Carkoon that lies beyond. And all you have to do is everything Climate Nuremberg tells you.

Tomorrow we’ll summarize the world’s 2,500 leading Knows and Known’ts of COVID-19. Read them uncritically and I guarantee: one day we’re going to look back on all this and laugh mirthlessly.