Monday, March 16, 2020

The Coronavirus And The Plague By Albert Camus

So, unless you have been hibernating through the winter, you've probably heard about the Coronavirus disease 2019, otherwise known in short as COVID-19.  It apparently started in China and now has embarked on a world tour.  Its arrival in the United States has caused pretty much a freakout with schools and libraries closing, events canceled, travel bans, and other assorted disruptions to daily life.  The latest where I live is the closing of bars and restaurants.

The hope is to slow the spread of the virus so that hospitals and other healthcare resources don't get overwhelmed and have to make difficult choices about divvying up care.  Whatever the good intentions, the actions taken against the virus's spread will certainly have consequences, primarily economic.  So far, most of the criticism has come from the political right, which makes sense since they typically represent the moneyed interests of the country, but some independent voices have also questioned the wisdom of these political decisions.  But others such as Nassim Nicholas Taleb have noted that the earlier to panic in a situation like this, the better, so even an overreaction is much preferable to the alternative.  This video is probably the easiest way to get his point about the importance of stopping this thing early.  Comparisons with traffic deaths and flu deaths don't quite fit the exponential risk that COVID-19 brings.

So, it looks like we're basically living in The Plague by Albert Camus, which has always been one of my favorite books, but I never wanted to live in it (it could be worse; we could be living in The Stand by Stephen King).  If you're not familiar with The Plague, it details the spread of a disease in one city and how the people respond. It is a good illustration of Camus's take on existentialism as well as a good read.  It is often interpreted as an allegory, but it can be read as just a tale of quiet heroism against a disease.  So, if you have some free time now due to COVID-19 or just want to get away from the tv news, it is a good book to read given the circumstances.  And, if you finish it and need a laugh to get through this challenging time, then please feel free to check out my books, especially the latest one.

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