Living in the age of Covid-19?

My partner asked me how I was doing on the phone. She remarked how I was managing with the changes well and I mentioned a quote I heard recently.

I won’t/can’t take credit but it speaks volume about right now… The quote came from the head of R&D which he was reminded of via the chief scientist.

“Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Be safe and stay connected…

We were overdue a pandemic, public health is absolutely critical

There has been many signs of the current pandemic which is upon us now, in retrospect. Bill gates talk from TED is a popular one people mention. But there has been many more including this one, Fowl plague from how we get to next.

One of the questions in the FAQ is spot on.

At this very moment the USA has surpassed China with the most amount of people infected. It doesn’t take a lot to see the problem of a pandemic with no public health care system.

USA tops the Covid19 chart with most infected

Has a case has been made for universal health care providing a better defense against pandemics, as people are less likely to stay away from medical treatment over fears of the costs involved?

The case for universal health care was made in the years following the Spanish flu in 1918, when more people died at the hands of avian influenza than in both world wars combined. This event made it abundantly clear that, in the midst of a pandemic, it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, insulated by health insurance or not: Everyone was at risk unless society was treated as a whole. This is, I believe, the strongest possible argument for universal health care; by definition ideas of individualism disintegrate in a pandemic scenario.

When I mention public health that extends to sick leave too as Vox’s video also explains so well.

Talking of Bill Gates, just this week TED did a follow up interview.

Lets cut the rubbish and talk about outbreaks in real terms

I’m hearing and seeing too much rubbish about the Coronavirus/Covid-19., including at the spa recently. I feel this is a good balanced talk about outbreaks, and there will be more.

Global health expert Alanna Shaikh talks about the current status of the 2019 coronavirus outbreak and what this can teach us about the epidemics yet to come. Alanna Shaikh is a global health consultant and executive coach who specializes in individual, organizational and systemic resilience.

This is something for many people who are reading too much stuff, guessing by the figures and filling in the blanks. Alanna makes too many good points about so many aspects of the current outbreak.

Step back and do the right thing, wash those hands and take some responsibility for your health care. Outbreaks will happen and its always just a matter of time. But that is not a reason to throw your arms up, blame different countries and bulk buy all the toilet roll you can get your hands on.

Cancelling flights to South Korea and Japan

expedia accept changes or not

I recently was able to cancel my flights to South Korea and Japan answering the question I prompted about flying to the far east during the Cornoavirus outbreak. My parents will be happy as they were worried. They weren’t the only ones but myself and my partner talked about it a lot. A point she made stuck with me, will a lot of the attractions, places and experiences in South Korea and Japan be mainly shutdown? The idea of going to a mainly dead rollercoaster park in Japan sounds great but will it actually be open? I noticed a tweet from Brian Suda about the Japanese government stopping large public events to stop the spread of the virus.

Japan has banned large gatherings, so this Sumo Tournament is being played to an empty arena.
Japan has banned large gatherings, so this Sumo Tournament is being played to an empty arena.

We were still going up till the point when Lufthansa changed our flights out again. There was a big change and I got a email asking me to confirm the change. I needed to read through the changes so didn’t click ok I’m good with this still a day later. In between a while bunch of new deaths happened in Italy and Flybe went under. People started taking things a lot more seriously as it was clear the incubation period of the Cornoavirus was something of a nightmare with people not showing signs of infection for 3-7 days. I was keeping an eye on the British FCO site, but noticed Lufthansa changed their policy.

Once I saw this I was straight on the phone to Lufthansa who were very helpful saying I could get a complete refund, then directed me to Expedia where I had booked my flights. After 2hrs 20mins waiting on the line for Expedia. A couple of call backs I finally got the verbal confirmation that my whole holiday would be cancelled and I would get a full refund.

The next day my partner did similar and after long calls and having to call back the next day was told the same. However within a day she got a confirmation email and told the money will be refunded in 5-7 days.

Days later I still haven’t received my conformation email or any refund (expect that not to come quickly). So I called up again today, this time after getting cut off (but it taking only 50mins on hold) I got verbal conformation again. But even at the moment of writing this, there is still no email.

I did notice they now (in the last day) have a form to do it without calling up… I’ll be filling this one in too.

I’m sure its all fine but I’ll fill the form because 3 times is a charm?

Although we are keeping an eye on the worldmeter for the virus, as we may take advantage of one of those very cheap flights to somewhere with minimal infection?

Update 11/March at 22:17

Expedia refund

I finally got my email from Expedia… Took a long time but finally I can relax.

Airbnb’s extenuating circumstances policy

airbnb and the coronavirus

As the coronavirus contuses to cause large disruptions across the world. I now have more of a answer to my airbnb question, should i have hosted a chinese person in my airbnb?

Come in a bit late is Airbnb’s extenuating circumstances policy.

What does this policy mean?

Eligible reservations can be cancelled without charges, including:

  • Guests who are travelling to or from severely affected areas (for a list of areas affected and covered by this policy, check below)
  • Hosts who are hosting in or welcoming guests from severely affected areas (for a list of areas affected and covered by this policy, check below)
  • Anyone who can’t complete their trip due to official travel restrictions, medical or disease control duties, flight or ground transport cancellation initiated by the provider due to COVID-19, or suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19

What happens when a reservation that falls under our extenuating circumstances policy is cancelled?

  • The guest will receive a full refund (including any fees)

  • Hosts won’t incur any cancellation fees

  • Airbnb will refund all fees

  • Hosts can accept new reservations for those dates

  • Superhost status will not be affected

Well at least we are now clear… I guess? However I certainly expect a lot of prejudice behavior coming from the policy change. How would anyone know any difference to be honest?

Goodbye handshake in the wake of the coronavirus?

coronavirus-elbow-shake

Ok you got to have a bit of fun in the wake of something which might turn out to be an epidemic. I certainly feel Vice were thinking this as they wrote the click bait headline, Seize the Coronavirus Moment and Abolish the Handshake Forever. However I got to say there is good points about the handshake.

Life desk senior staff writer Hannah Smothers recently wrote about how groups from Silicon Valley investment firms to Canadian minor-league soccer teams were banning handshakes in an effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus. Instead of banning handshakes, everyone could simply wash their hands—something that is always a good idea, especially when we are staring down the barrel of a global epidemic.

I disagree that we should keep on shaking hands with each other, as if the very act of doing so is not totally deranged. Think about it: You walk into a party. Someone’s like “Hey, Kristy Marceline!” (Your name is Kristy Marceline.) “Come meet my friend David.” You hold out your hand. David holds out his. You clasp hands and move your claspèd doublehand up and down and up and down with a lot of force to prove to that you’re happy to see each other. You use a lot of force, but not too much force, as shaking hands with David too strongly or too weakly will make him think that you’re a terrible person, fundamentally flawed to her core.

This is ridiculous logic, and we just accept it on a daily basis without thinking twice!

Like the writer, I get the historical reason but maybe its time for something different. For example friends of mine have been doing the elbow bump, which has some strong legacy in the outbreak space.

Kid N Play's new greeting post epidemics?

I was thinking about something quite different… something like Kid n Play’s power dance move the kickstep. Yes I can hear you laugh but heck its one of the most dirty parts of our general body space and you are still looking each other directly in the face. Although I admit theres a lot of timing needed and maybe its best done with close friends for those mis-steps? It certainly bring something to those boring meets at least.

In light of the coronavirus, is a holiday in Korea and Japan a good idea?

Smuged Tokyo street

I booked a holiday to Korea and Japan last year. Thinking this would be a great idea and the flights were a decent price. Interestingly I was thinking about a stop over in Hong Kong for a week but it was getting expensive so decided against that.

Of course with the political tensions in Hong Kong with China last year, I was thinking that was lucky. But then the coronavirus suddenly made the holiday plans a lot less appealing.

I’m looking on the brightside of it all, ignoring the media hype engine. But the notion of a pandemic does make think its likely a bad time to go away on a flight, let alone to two super crowded places?

Everything is refundable except the flights; like many others I’m waiting watching the Foreign office site for South Korea and Japan to see if the advice changes and the airline will offer a refund?

I do think things will be ok but the risk of getting caught up in something which is developing fast doesn’t seem like a great holiday, especially if having to self quarantine in a hotel room for a week!. Add the potential health risk to myself, partner, family, friends and the general public.

Right now if the airline refunds the flight, then Korea and Japan can wait I think? What would you do?

Should I have hosted a Chinese person in my airbnb?

Airbnb and the Coronavirus outbreak

Recently I hosted a person from mainland China in my Airbnb. Its certainly not the first time and unlikely the last. They were nice, quiet and respectful of the rules.

But I was talking to a few people and they asked me if I had thought about the Coronavirus (COVID-19)? I laughed it off but honestly I did think for a bit before accepting the booking. The thinking wasn’t long especially because I wasn’t happy to ask the question and somewhat discriminate on the grounds of nationality (this is also against Airbnb’s policy)

Talking to others, they felt I wasn’t taking it seriously. Although I will say more people die of the flu and TB than COVID-19! The frenzy in the press is getting insane.

So I had another look at the policy and noticed a addition for the Coronavirus outbreak

The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency. Affected hosts and guests can find info on our Extenuating circumstances policy for coronavirus page.

This is something which seems to have taken the Airbnb community groups and others by storm

Looking deeper into the new policy I found this part…

For reservations with guests travelling from mainland China to destinations outside of mainland China

The extenuating circumstances policy applies to any reservations booked on or before 1 February 2020, with check-in date of 1 April 2020 or earlier. This applies for guests travelling from mainland China with reservations outside of mainland China, or hosts outside of mainland China with guests travelling from mainland China.

Other scenarios that require documentation

Regardless of reservation date, the extenuating circumstances policy applies to reservations of all global hosts or guests who must change or cancel travel:

  • In order to comply with disease control restrictions implemented by relevant governmental or health authorities;
  • In order to perform medical or disease control duties in connection with the COVID-19 outbreak;
  • As a result of flight or ground transport cancellations initiated by an airline or ground transport provider due to the COVID-19 outbreak;
  • In the event that they are diagnosed or suspected of being infected with COVID-19 by a medical or health authority.

We ask that all community members be mindful of respect, inclusion, and our nondiscrimination policy when interacting with other members of our community.

So I think I did the right thing. Its not right to discriminate on the location. My guest was fine! However for those worried, you know what I’ll be doing if anything negative happens to my health (ha!)

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Feb 2020)

Smartcity - Wakanda

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking at the sorry state of the UK during our EU withdrawal or the tech press panic over the coronavirus.

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this happening with young people leading the way on climate change.

Anonymous still legion?

Ian thinks: Nice summary podcast about the book, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous

Curious about hacking?

Ian thinks: Excellent growing resource explaining the origins of hacking in a balanced way through different interviews and press coverage

Fediverse Is here to stay

Ian thinks: English language CCC (Chaos Computer Congress) videos I found. Really good points made about open society and Aaron Swartz

I imagine Vice’s journalist has a awful uber rating

Ian thinks: So clearly outlines the case for Uber to disappear in to the past and what ride sharing really could be.

Cities which work for their citizens not the other way around

Ian thinks: Citizens as sensors, rather than a thing to be sensed; is a good primer for future smart cities

Tracking through podcasting

Ian thinks: Interesting talk from the CCC about tracking and advertising through podcasting.
[English audio stream in downloaded video]

The real drug dealers get away with murder

Ian thinks: Its so easy to point the finger at the darknet markets, but Jack really hits home with the true crime lords.

How is that advert following you around?

Ian thinks: If you don’t understand how cookies work and why you really should reject those cookie banners, this is idea for you.

Sexual harassment, anonymity and

Ian thinks: Sigi’s story told by herself is a powerful one in the era of Background on the story.
[English audio stream in downloaded video]