On this world day of the sick, under the patronage of Our Lady of Lourdes, ‘tis perhaps requisite that we ask how bad is the coronavirus. By ‘bad’ we mean, how lethal, and how easily transmitted, which go together. If a virus is too lethal, then it burns itself out, killing its victims before they can spread the disease – that is, the virus, which ‘wants’ to replicate itself as much as possible – to others. Other viruses are quite easily transmitted – the rhinovirus of the common cold – but are almost completely non-lethal, so spread away. According to some, the current coronavirus has a spread rate – measured as R0 (r-naught) – of perhaps 2.3, which means that any given carrier will infect that many other people, on average, and it has a lethality rate of perhaps 1%. Of course, these initial numbers are coming from Communist China, whose politburos take lying as a way of life. It could be worse – one estimate is that 60% of the world could become infected, which means millions of deaths – or it could be not as bad as we may now imagine.
Still, who wants to take risks? There is a cruise ship currently cruising around – as is their wont – with no confirmed cases of coronavirus, but whom no one wants in their docks, just in case. There is a fine line prudence to paranoia, and we seem in proximate danger of falling off the cliff.
On that note, Joaquin Phoenix, who just won an Oscar for playing the origins of the deranged, psychopathic Batman villain, the Joker’, seems himself not to be playing with a full deck. In his rambling speech, he said this:
We go into the natural world and we plunder it for its resources. We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and when she gives birth, we steal her baby. Even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. And then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal. I think we fear the idea of personal change, because we think we have to sacrifice something, to give something up. But human beings at our best are so inventive and creative and ingenious, I think that when we use love and compassion as our guiding principles, we can create, develop and implement systems of change that are beneficial to all sentient beings and to the environment.
Ah, all that guilt-ridden milk in coffee and cereal, and cows mooing for their young; or, as he puts it, their ‘babies’. Joaquin, with all his millions, seems to live a life of culinary asceticism beyond most the most extreme of the early desert Fathers…And at least they were denying themselves for God. But for cows?
I am not a dairy farmer, but know a few, and am rather certain that they would have their doubts that cows are capable of such depth of feeling. I do know that cows want desperately to be milked, and will feel immensely uncomfortable if they are not.
I suppose Mr. Phoenix does not feel the same compassion for real babies, especially of the unborn variety, ‘stolen’, by hook and by crook, from the wombs of their mothers.
Ah, but Joaquin the Joker lives in his own fantasy world. In some dark sense, one might hope that, if the coronovirus should prove as lethal is it might, our society may wake up to real hazards in our midst, and that life is more fragile than some may think.
Then again, who really cares what coddled and cocooned actors say? The Oscars have just hit their all-time ratings low, and about time. As one hopeful headline has it, like aquarius, ‘the age of the celebrity is over’. One may always hope.