Pandemic Ethics Overflow, Including The Funniest Story So Far [Updated]

1. The funniest pandemic-related story comes out of Australia, and it goes in the “Scientific incompetence” files. Or maybe the “Sure, we should always trust the judgment of scientists” file. From The Guardian:

An Australian astrophysicist has been admitted to hospital after getting four magnets stuck up his nose in an attempt to invent a device that stops people touching their faces during the coronavirus outbreak.

Dr Daniel Reardon, a research fellow at a Melbourne university, was building a necklace that sounds an alarm on facial contact, when the mishap occurred on Thursday night.

The 27 year-old astrophysicist, who studies pulsars and gravitational waves, said he was trying to liven up the boredom of self-isolation with the four powerful neodymium magnets….“I had a part that detects magnetic fields. I thought that if I built a circuit that could detect the magnetic field, and we wore magnets on our wrists, then it could set off an alarm if you brought it too close to your face…

So he made millions of people around the world slap their foreheads in amazement.

2. About those idiots who drank the fish tank cleaner: The emerging facts, after so many headlines blamed the husband’s death on the President’s misinformation, show this was more fake news. The Arizona woman who said that she and her 68-year-old husband ingested a substance used to clean fish tanks after hearing President Donald Trump enthuse about the potential value of chloroquine (but not fish tank ccleaner constaining the chemical)  as a cure for the Wuhan Virus is a Democrats, opposes Trump, and has given thousands of dollars to Democratic groups and candidates over the last two years. In late February, she gave to a Democratic PAC, the 314 Action Fund, that is part of the  “pro-science resistance.”It has even used the death of her husband to attack the White House.

Now the surviving fish tank-cleaner gourmet admits that she and her husband were both Democrats, not Trump supporters. But she  told NBC News that she took the fish tank cleaner to follow Trump’s advice.  “We saw Trump on TV—every channel—and all of his buddies and that this was safe,” she said last week. “Trump kept saying it was basically pretty much a cure.” Naturally, nobody checked her story: it was too good an opportunity to get Trump.

Now the women admits that she heard about the potential benefits of chloroquine, an antimalarial drug, in news reports, and decided at the “spur of the moment” to try  it “We weren’t big supporters of [Trump], but we did see that they were using it in China and stuff,” Wanda told the Free Beacon. “And we just made a horrible, tragic mistake,” she said. “It was stupid, and it was horrible, and we should have never done it. But it’s done and now I’ve lost my husband….We didn’t think it would kill us. We thought if anything it would help us ‘cus that’s what we’ve been hearing on the news.”

But at least she was able to spin the story so the  the news media would falsely say that the President was responsible for them drinking fish tank cleaner, so it wasn’t a total loss.

3. Don’t negotiate with pandemic profiteers. In Phildadelphia, owner Joel Freedman closed the former Hahnemann Hospital last year. The vacant medical center has 500 beds, and obviously would be a valuable resource as the city fights its virus outbreak. But Freedman wants $6 million from the city to pay for a lease, and was determined to get every bit of money out of the derelict property he could, so Mayor Jim Kenney cut off negotiations, saying, “In the midst of a public health crisis, with the numbers of positive cases increasing daily, we simply do not have the time to continue in a lengthy negotiation.”

Enjoy your empty hospital, jerk.

4. I still find it difficult to believe any Governor would do this. The Governor of Rhode Island  decided to deploy police and the state’s National Guard for a house-to-house search for unauthorized…. New Yorkers. Over the weekend, the Rhode Island National Guard and  local police officers set out  to identify New York state residents in local neighborhoods  notify them about newly imposed quarantine requirements for visitors from the Empire State. After complaints from New York officials and  the ACLU, Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo crafted a new order requiring anyone entering the state from New York or anywhere else to quarantine for 14 days, making exceptions only for public health, public safety, or healthcare workers. Jim Geraghty accurately reflects my reaction, which is that there has to be something better than this.

I’m trying to think of a decision that would do more to stir public panic than members of the military going door-to-door with police and checking the legal residency of those inside. There’s plenty of precedent for using the National Guard in emergencies, but even in the worst of circumstances, National Guard leaders understand the importance of not creating the impression that the area is under martial law and all traditional protections under the law have been suspended….

There are a lot of things that the Rhode Island National Guard could do to help in this crisis. Going door-to-door looking for non-state residents is not one of them. Rhode Island is the smallest state in the union; some of the cars on the highways are no doubt traveling from Connecticut to Massachusetts and vice versa or from other states. The Fourth Amendment would probably prohibit police from stopping any car with out-of-state plates simply for that reason.

Our liberal friends have warned the world about the barely repressed fascist impulses of conservatives and Republicans for a long time. What would they think if a Republican governor were deploying the National Guard door-to-door demanding to know what states people were from?

This also seriously undercuts all the “We’re all in this together” happy talk, don’t you think?

5. Finally, Big Lie #9. I am officially designating “President Trump claimed the virus was a hoax” as a Big Lie of the Resistance. I had resisted doing this because, unlike the other eight, this is a specific rather than a general lie, much like the similarly unkillable “He called white supremacists  good people.” That one, however, fits neatly into one of the existing Big Lies on the list, namely #4, “Trump is a racist/white supremacist.”

This story pushed me over the edge. Laura Krolczyk, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center’s  vice president for external affairs, wrote on Facebook, “Trump supporters need to pledge to give up their ventilators for someone else … and not go to the hospital. After adding that Trump supporters should “barricade themselves” inside churches to ride out the pandemic, she added, “Also don’t cash your stimulus check. It’s all a hoax. Chew some ibuprofen and be on with your day.”

She was fired. I won’t muse about whether that kind of blatant political nastiness should have cost her job, but the woman worked for both Hillary Clinton and Senator Gillibrand. Big Lie #9 is obviously going to be standard equipment for Democrats, and it needs to be called what it is.

[NOTE: this lie was eventually subsumed by the current Big Lie #9, explained here.]

12 thoughts on “Pandemic Ethics Overflow, Including The Funniest Story So Far [Updated]

  1. Fish tank lady also says she had just prepared her husband his favorite meal. I’m sure there’s no way this turns into a murder charge.

    • Maybe I watch too much Dateline and 20/20, but that was also my first thought. Perhaps her former husband discovered how much of their retirement accounts instead contributed to this recent increase in political donations…

  2. #2. What? A leftist lied about an event to frame a conservative? That…well seems to happen with just about any highly publicized ‘hate crime’.

    #4. You need to be a little more cynical. Try it. You will be disappointed less often.

  3. #3 “Enjoy your empty hospital, jerk.”

    Property-owner Noel Freeman needs to keep company with Mayor Jim Kenney here … or at least visit him once in a while.

  4. #3: Considering the recent (well, not really) trend of elected officials to be increasingly dictatorial in style and substance, I’m surprised the city didn’t just invoke Eminent Domain and TAKE the facility outright. (Maybe that’s what comes next.)


  5. 1. This is what happens when a person uses synthesis- and tactics-related mindsets to be creative and clever, without engaging strategy-related mindsets that point out, “this thing I’m doing could injure me. I’d better take steps to prevent that.”

  6. Re: No. 4; Rhode Island Hoppers.

    It seems Gregg Abbott, Texas Governor, has done the same thing. When I heard this on the local news last night, I thought I misunderstood the order. Apparently, not. Here is a link to an executive order requiring limited travel to and from Louisiana:

    Click to access EO-GA-12_roadway_quarantine_for_COVID-19_IMAGE_03-29-2020.pdf

    I am not sure this is enforceable and, for the most part, Abbott is a reasonable guy, but this is a head-scratcher.


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