Dan O'Heirity

In terms of my preferred data source – which is updated in real time for the number of confirmed cases worldwide and for the number of new deaths with these figures being reset at GMT+0 each day – as of today China has been responsible for a virus that has affected 196 countries worldwide, with a total of 387,404 cases and a total of 16,578 deaths.

Australia, the country where I live, has today seen 249 new cases bringing the total number of cases to 2,136 cases. Although Australia does seem to be “managing” the virus, it will not be long before Australia goes the way of the United Kingdom in requiring people to stay indoors unless they have a valid reason for going out e.g. shopping, exercising once per week or a medical emergency. In offering this opinion, I am not saying that Australia will see the kinds of figures for cases and fatalities that we are seeing in the United States and Europe because, for reasons that I can still not quite fathom, it would seem that Australia has the virus under some kind of control.

I usually have something to say each day about what is going on with supermarkets in Australia so here is today’s update. My supermarket was pretty much fully stocked with all products – tinned, dried, fresh meat and fresh vegetables – with the exception, of course, of toilet paper, paper towels and tissues, all of which were sold out. I have ventured on previous occasions that the panic buying of toilet paper can be accounted for, in my opinion, simply in terms of the irrationality and herd likely mentality of the masses.

However, today I came across the following quotation from an Associate Professor at Macquarie University Australia.

I think toilet paper is a necessity, and it’s hard to imagine living without it … that’s a psychological driver.

Honestly, I would have expected a little more insight from an Associate Professor because, as I have suggested before, on the basis of research that I carried out, it’s really easy to imagine living without toilet paper. Just do what the Ancient Romans did and use a sponge which is then disinfected and eventually discarded in favour of a new sponge.

I noticed for the first time that canned fish is the only tinned product that is not restricted to two purchases per customer. Rather one can buy as much of the stuff as one would like. Strange. People have cleared the shelves of tinned tinned meat, tinned vegetables, pasta sauce, curry sauce, pasta and rice but it seems no one really wants to buy canned fish which is really odd because canned tuna for example is incredibly healthy being low in fat, low in carbohydrates and very high in protein. Protein is an essential part of our diets with the recommended daily protein intake being 0.8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. So, eat a coupe of cans of tuna a day and you hit your recommended daily protein intake.

Each day I normally include a story about just how crap people are and today’s story concerns two men who allegedly entered restricted areas of supermarkets – likely the warehouse docking bays from the photographs that are provided with the story – across Supermarkets in Sydney’s South West suburbs so that they could steal toilet paper. In one case they threatened a staff member with a knife. Police Minister David Elliot said, “People need to grow up and look out for our most vulnerable.” I’m pretty sure that the thieves are not going to swayed in their behaviour by that platitude.

Today there was an article talking about the racism – verbal and physical abuse – that Chinese people are facing in the United States with President Trump apparently exacerbating the issue by referring to the Covid-19 virus as the Chinese virus.

Let us be clear, again, that the Covid-19 virus originated in China and so it seems perfectly reasonable to me to refer to the virus as the Chinese virus, particularly as the Chinese government has tried to cover up the outbreak, which began in November 2019, and would much rather that the world forget that the virus originated in China.

It is quite simply an indisputable fact that the virus originated in China and the impact of the virus across the globe will go well beyond contagion and deaths. There will be political, economic and social fall out. Australia, for example, has seen around 1 million people become unemployed overnight as a result of closing sports centres, cinemas, pubs, clubs and restaurants and that fact is the fault of China.

I have had it in mind for a while to pen something about the Zeitgeist of this age, that is the defining “spirit of this age.” On one line of argument, which granted would not be a very popular line of argument, the Covid-19 virus could be considered to be a rather good thing for the 21st Century Zeitgeist which has, in my opinion, become something of a sad affair. I say this because I believe that whilst we may have shifted from the information age to the experience age, the fact is that this experience age is an ultimately empty age, in which people are living lonely and attenuated lives governed by technologies and social media.

Now, something has actually happened in the world, something that requires people to think about who they are and what they do. And yes, before anyone raises the point, this is something of a privileged Western perspective on the Covid-19 virus. However, I’m a middle class white guy and I’m living in a privileged Western society. Anyway, back to the masses. Is it possible that the experience age – an age defined by continual self expression on the part of people with nothing meaningful to express – will somehow be transformed? Will people see that they are continually expressing themselves through technologies and media whilst, in the majority of cases, essentially having nothing worthwhile to express? Only time will tell.

First Published March 24th, 2020

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