Tag Archives: UK

‘Hope’ – by Terry Tyler

I’m a voracious reader so there are times when the pickings are lean. And then there are times when I discover one stunning, brilliant book after the other. This is one of those times and the first book I want to talk about is ‘Hope’.

This is the review I just left on amazon.com:

‘Most of us just want to live our lives, right? The world can be harsh but so long as we can kick back and relax with friends, get paid enough to put a roof over our heads and feel safe, we’ll be okay. Right?

That’s how ‘Hope’ begins. Three ordinary people – Lita, Kendall and Nick -sharing a flat and pretty much living the life most of us would recognize today. All three have jobs, but none of the jobs pay enough for them to live alone. Kendall works for Zest, a subsidiary of one of the largest corporations in the world. Lita and Nick are online influencers who earn enough from advertising to pay their way.
And then Kendall loses her job because she’s a size 16 and being too plump is not a good look for a company that sells health food.

The downward spiral that begins with Kendal quickly accelerates until suddenly the three flatmates can no longer afford the rent. Losing their little home is traumatic, but worse is to come – couch surfing followed by homeless shelters followed by a night in a church. And suddenly, the only option left to move to one of the Hope Villages set up by the state, and run by the same corporation that seems to run everything else in the UK.

I’ll be honest, at about this point, my sense of impending doom was so visceral I almost put the Kindle down. This is horror of a very plausible kind as the author weaves the story in such a realistic way that we can all see ourselves, or someone we know, in the plight of the characters. I’m ‘safe’, but someone I went to school with is now living in a boarding house, an older woman on her own with few resources – a statistic.

I can’t tell you what happens to Lita, Kendall and Nick, but I will say that there is some real hope as they begin to fight back against the system.

Would I recommend ‘Hope’ to other readers? You bet. With bells on. Terry Tyler’s ‘Hope’ may be one of the scariest books I’ve ever read, but it’s also one of the BEST books I’ve ever read. It challenges my mind and my emotions, stripping away the comfortable complacency that cocoons me from the real world. I may just want to live my life, but sometimes that life has to be earned. Sometimes we have to say ‘no’ to a system that treats people like animals that can be…culled.

Our world has not yet devolved into the nightmare of Terry Tyler’s Hope, but it’s heading in that direction. That is what’s so scary. ‘Hope’ is a story that should be read by every person who wants to keep kicking back with friends and feeling safe.’

‘Hope’ costs a ridiculous 70c. It was the best 70c I’ve ever spent. My thanks to D.Wallace Peach for introducing me to this fabulous story.

cheers,
Meeks


The Race Against Time

I’ve talked about beta readers before, and how vital they are for Indie writers. Well, Chris James, author of The Race Against Time, has been one of mine for a very long time. And I’ve been one of his since Repulse, the novel that started his climb to fame.

I am now very proud to announce that the latest novel in the story arc, The Race Against Time, is not only published, it’s hit the top of the best seller lists in the UK:

You can read Chris’ post about The Race here, and garden lovers can also check out some truly gorgeous photos of tulips (grown by Mrs James). 🙂

As someone who loves good science fiction, I can tell you that it was hard to focus on the technicalities of The Race because I kept wanting to read what happened next. That’s one of the pitfalls of beta reading when you grow to love the characters, which I do.

The Repulse Chronicles encompass one of the most innovative, immersive and, dare I say it, topical story arcs in modern science fiction. Chris James lives in Poland with his wife and family, and the story is about the invasion of Europe in the future. I say no more.

Congratulations to Chris for a job very well done. 😀

Meeks


How do you measure success in a pandemic?

I’m writing this as someone who lives in the most locked down city on Earth – Melbourne. We suffered through the first wave of Covid-19 and lost 820 people to the virus, but that death toll could have been much, much worse; during the first wave in Italy, 35,142(1) Italians lost their lives.

Returning to the first wave of Covid-19 in Melbourne, we eliminated the virus and kept it from spreading to the rest of Victoria and the other states by putting ourselves into a VERY strict lockdown. That lockdown included a curfew and a ‘cordon sanitaire’ around Melbourne. It worked. In fact, the same restrictions continued to eliminate the virus from Victoria until NSW, with the tacit approval of the Federal government, decided that we all had to ‘live with Covid’. Thanks to our long border with NSW, we could no longer keep the virus out.

The other States and territories – Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory and the ACT – continued to keep Delta out until Omicron came along. Western Australia is now the only state still trying to keep Omicron out. Across the ditch, our New Zealand cousins have not given up the fight against Covid-19 either. The battle may have changed from elimination to a fighting retreat, but it continues. The battle also continues in many of the countries of Asia, but we hear so very little about them.

I created the following spreadsheet from data published by https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries The website provides covid-19 related information about every nation on Earth.

That’s a lot of data and the forest tends to get lost in the trees so I created a subset(2) of the data to show the difference between the Asian approach to Covid-19 and that of most Western countries. I’ve included Australia and New Zealand as part of Asia, because that is what we are.

In the screenshot below, the data is sorted by total deaths:

Iceland did the best with just 46 deaths while the USA did the worst with 904,038 deaths, but Iceland has a very small population while the USA has a very large one. In the next screenshot, I sorted the data according to deaths per million in order to account for differences in population size:

Iceland appears on the top of the list, again, because something is screwy with the ‘per million’ figure. I suspect a human error resulted in the decimal point being left off, but I’m too lazy to look up the population of Iceland to be sure.

Setting Iceland aside, the data suddenly reveals two surprises:

  1. China does the best with just 3 deaths per million. [Remember that China has a population of roughly 1.4 billion people]
  2. Hungary does the worst with 4,285 deaths per million.

Hungary is the country of my birth. It’s a small country with a small population [roughly 9.6 million]. That population is now smaller by 41,229 people. I’m glad my parents are no longer alive to see what has happened to their country. That said, the USA and the UK have the dubious honour of having the second and third worst results after Hungary.

So how do you measure success in a pandemic? Is it money saved? Or lives?

In a recent video, Dr John expressed disbelief that China would continue to eliminate the virus ‘in the age of Omicron’. In the comments, all sorts of theories were raised, most denigrating China’s strategy as futile, draconian and only possible in such a tightly regulated nation. The unspoken assumption was that no sane person would want to live like that.

I’m not an apologist for China because I don’t think it needs one. Yes, the Chinese government probably is guilty of human rights violations, but people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. The murder of George Floyd in the US brought the plight of Black America into sharp focus. When police feel they can kill Black Americans without fear of consequences, that’s a human rights violation. When children can be murdered at school because there is no gun control, that’s a human rights violation.

Here in Australia, the media shone a spotlight on our asylum seekers recently, but only because a famous tennis star was locked up with them for a very short time. What we’ve done to asylum seekers in the name of ‘stopping the boats’ is also a human rights violation. Would they be treated the same way if they were white and came from a European country?

But our human rights violations aren’t restricted to asylum seekers. The ‘deaths in custody’ of hundreds of First Nations Australians doesn’t rate a mention unless there’s some political twist to the story. That’s an ongoing human rights violation, yet no one wants to haul Australia off before the Court of International Justice in The Hague. Is it because we belong to ‘us’ and everyone else is ‘them’?

I’m sure China’s strategy of elimination isn’t motivated by pure altruism, but I suspect the Chinese government has worked out that its economy depends on the health of the populace. Dead people can’t manufacture anything. Dead people can’t buy anything either. Maybe that’s a lesson all neo-liberal governments need to learn.

Vaccines are great but they’re not a silver bullet that will save us from the inconvenience of old fashioned contagion control. To save lives, we have to have both. To save our economies, we have to save lives first.

Meeks

(1) Finding the number of total deaths in the first wave [for Italy] was surprisingly hard, or perhaps I didn’t search for the right terms. In the end, I had to calculate the number of death [for Italy] from a graph put out by the WHO:

https://covid19.who.int/region/euro/country/it

If you go to that graph and hover your mouse over each column, you can see the total deaths for that period. I copied the raw numbers into the spreadsheet below so I could get a total just for the first wave in Italy:

(2) The data I used for the comparison between Asian and Western Covid-19 results is detailed below:


Omicron may be the successor to Delta

I first heard about the Omicron variant last night, from Dr Norman Swann:

Little is known about the Omicron variant of Covid19, but it is being blamed for a sudden, sharp spike in new infections in South Africa:

Dr John Campbell explains what we know about the new variant, and what it may mean for the pandemic in this must see video:

The dot points I took from the video are:

  • Omicron has 32 mutations which may make it more infectious than Delta,
  • The mutations may allow it to elude the immunity supplied by vaccines [ALL vaccines],
  • No one knows whether Omicron will make you more sick or less,
  • It has already escaped from South Africa into Hong Kong and Belgium,
  • Most of Europe and the UK have just banned travel from South Africa,
  • The travel bans are to give scientists time to find out more about Omicron, and for Pharmaceutical companies to tweak existing vaccines to be more effective against the variant,
  • Both the US and Australia have adopted a ‘wait and see’ attitude,
  • By the time we ‘see’ how dangerous Omicron can be, it may well be too late.

On a personal note, I’m booked in for my second AstraZeneca jab this Monday. I was hoping to enjoy a latte before Christmas, but I guess I’ll ‘wait and see’ how bad Omicron gets before the Offspring and I emerge from self-isolation. I really, really hope this variant does turn out to be a ‘storm in a tea cup’. 😦

Meeks


Covid19 – no herd immunity any time soon

The numbers are in: neither natural infection NOR vaccination will provide herd immunity in the near future.

Why? Because herd immunity implies permanent immunity, and it ain’t happenin’. BOTH types of immunity wane within a matter of months, not years.

Antibodies are produced after your body either fights off a natural infection or is immunized via vaccine. The numbers show that well over 90% of people 18 and over [in the UK] have already produced antibodies against Covid. As the vaccination rates are nowhere near that high, those figures must include people who have developed natural antibodies as well.

Yet infection rates are soaring.

Clearly herd immunity has not been achieved. Herd immunity describes what happens when a virus can’t spread because it keeps bumping up against people who are already immune to it. Those people provide a barrier between the virus and those who are not immune…the fresh meat.

We’ve known about the vaccines’ immunity waning since early 2021 when information started coming out of Israel about Pfizer, but we haven’t had definitive proof that natural infection waned as well. Now we do. Both types of immunity:

  • reduce the likelihood of death and/or severe disease,
  • but neither will last forever,
  • and neither will permanently stop the spread of infection:

In the video, Dr John shows that both UK health and the CDC in the US have admitted that herd immunity is most unlikely, at least in the near future. Covid19-Delta has become ‘endemic’ amongst all populations. We can hold it at bay, but strategies based on the concept of ‘herd immunity’ will fail.

What does that mean? It means that:

  • Covid19-Delta is here to stay.
  • Getting sick or getting vaccinated will only be a ‘Get out of Jail’ card for a short time – 4 to 6 months.
  • The fully vaccinated will require boosters for the foreseeable future.
  • The unvaccinated will continue to be at risk of serious disease and death because they will NOT be protected by the immunity of the herd.
  • Not immune people can be both the UNvaccinated and the FULLYvaccinated. The difference is that the FULLYvaccinated are much less likely to die.
  • Not keeping up with boosters is likely to dump people into the as-good-as-unvaccinated group when it comes to infection, hospitalisation and death.
  • Masks in high risk settings are likely to remain necessary.
  • Lockdowns in areas of high infection will become necessary as hospitals are overwhelmed.
  • Social unrest is likely to escalate.

It is disappointing. Very. Disappointing.

It’s also scary because the people who have been brainwashed into believing Covid is just some kind of global conspiracy will say “See, I told you it was all a con. They said the vaccines would make us safe and now they’re saying they won’t.” Meanwhile, the anti-vaxxers will say “See, vaccines don’t work!”

The truth is rather more nuanced. Vaccines do make us safe, but not permanently. I think of it as a maintenance issue. When we first get new brake pads fitted to our cars, they work perfectly. With time and wear and tear, they work less and less well. If we don’t have them replaced, they’ll eventually wear out completely and then we’ll have a potentially fatal accident.

Sadly, that may be too logical an argument for those who’ve lost faith in public institutions. And science.

I’ve often wondered what it must have felt like in the past, when civilizations unravelled, when dystopia happened for real. Now I really don’t want to find out.

Meeks


The real face of Covid-19 – apology

Apologies everyone! The video /was/ available when I published this post but apparently it is now ‘private’. I’ve just tried a number of channels on Youtube and they’re all blocked. I have no idea what happened. Maybe Sky News waved the big copyright stick? 😦

This is the only still image I have:

I was trying to get a pic of the padded restraint.

Updated April 23, 2020, Australia

One image that will stay with me forever is that of a patient, a large man in his fifties perhaps, trying to take the plastic hood thing off his head. The staff had to tie down his hands. They did it to try and save his life, but I know what he was doing. The hood thing wasn’t enough. He felt like he was suffocating, and in his desperation he thought that he would breathe better if it came off…

I almost drowned when I was 21. How and why doesn’t matter. What matters is that I still remember what it felt like not to be able to breathe out. I remember the desperation. There is no logic at that point. It’s all animal instinct.

I hope that man survived, but I fear he didn’t. One of the scary statistics I’ve read since this pandemic began was that of all the people sick enough to be intubated [put on a ventilator], only about 50% survive.

50% – toss a coin. Heads or tails. Life or death.

Financial interests in Australia, the UK and the US are calling for the lockdowns to be eased. They think the danger is over because the curve is starting to flatten. But the people pushing for a return to ‘normal’ see human lives only as a statistic. I hope that at least some of them watch this video and realise that this thing can still get away from us. And if it does, we could all end up like Bergamo in Lombardy.

Meeks


Covid-19 – some potential good news

Just a very quick one today. According to Dr John Campbell, there may soon be a simple test to see if someone has developed immunity to the Covid-19 virus. This is important because it would mean that those who test positive for the antibody [the ‘warrior’ part of the immune system that remains after the virus is killed] could then safely go back to normal life. Safely for us, that is.

I hope some enterprising person comes up with an official button or arm band or something that would identify these ‘safe’ people so the rest of us don’t have to fear everyone on the outside. That would be a huge relief.

No comments.

cheers

Meeks


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