Whose Birthday?

After every few words I type on here, an ad comes up in Russian—ads annoy me at the best of times, but Rooshian ads I can’t understand,  while everyone but the tangerine dream freaks out about FireEye and SolarWinds, are unsettling to say the least.

Okay, I’ve banished Putin’s lot to the nether lands of my computer—let’s get on with the job.

I traditionally write something festive around this time of year—a period when Jews celebrate Hanukkah (love that random double k) and Christians celebrate Xmas—or rather, Western-influenced culture celebrates Christmas.

Hanukkah has bellicose roots, quite different from the birth of a child—it commemorates the recovery of Jerusalem from the Seleucid Empire—I lay claim to some historical knowledge, but I’d never heard of these Greek fellows.

But since a newborn is always a celebration, and Hanukkah is known as the festival of lights, we should rejoice. I, for one, am pretty happy—said goodbye to COVID and am at the top of my game, have some nice tinto squirreled away and can smell and taste it—I’m one of the lucky ones.

So what happy, festive stuff comes to mind? I’ll have to dig deep. As Larry Fortensky, Liz Taylor’s seventh husband, famously quipped in his wedding speech, “I know what to do, I know how to do it, the trick is to make it interesting for you.”

For sensible folks, it’s going to be a quiet Christmas, because the beast is on the loose—and as a holiday special, a new strain has been announced today in the UK.

Quiet is definitely my plan, and even if it wasn’t, travel bans would make it so—luckily, I have plenty of alcohol, and part of my plan is assiduous internal disinfection—although I draw the line at bleach.

One thing that’ll get us festive is a bit of music blended with comedy—here’s a clip from the very first Spitting Image show, a spoof Dylan protest about cheese.

Other highlights of this particular episode include the removal of Reagan’s brain and a hilarious piss-take of the Soviet politburo—definitely worth a look—I don’t think it’ll be up for long.

Yup, it’s going to be a quiet few days in Western Europe, although in the US anything can happen, and most probably will.

But the fact you’re reading this means you’re alive, and hopefully well—a very good start. It’s been a real tough period for the economy, and the next few months will be no different, but there is one thing to really celebrate.

Yes, it may be only one, but it’s huge. Throughout history, from the medieval plagues to the 1918 ‘Spanish’ flu pandemic, society has demonstrated very little solidarity—the same goes for Ebola or Zika—but this year was different.

We all know the risk of serious complications or death from Coronavirus increases sharply with age—this example, from a Covid calculator site, says it all:

A white man aged 45, BMI 36 with severe asthma, has a Covid-age of (45+13+11) = 69 years.

A healthy, fit thirty-five year-old has a probability of 0.03% of dying from the disease, whereas an eighty-five year old has a 6% chance, 200 times more.

I know that showing you a weird chart is hardly festive, but I couldn’t resist, perhaps because I made it myself. It shows that after the age of fifty, COVID is about 30% of the total chance of dying—at eighty-five that doubles to 60%, and below the age of thirty, it’s under 10%.

Percent ratio of probability of COVID-derived death to probability of death from any cause.

This explains why younger people are far less concerned than older folks, and why the economic, recreational, and other consequences of tiers and lockdowns are poorly accepted.

And yet, in Western Europe and elsewhere—but not in the United States, partly because its leadership was entrusted to a half-rotten citrus fruit—society has imposed those exact measures, at huge cost, primarily to save the elderly.

If nothing else offers hope this Christmas, Hanukkah, or just this year-end, this does—a society that is capable of such a selfless act, instead of just letting old folks die off in the traditional fashion, is worthy of great praise.

Moreover, this radical pattern of age-related death was not observed in either the bubonic plague or the Spanish flu—in the XIVth century, not many people lived past forty-five anyhow—if it had been, society would have been even more callous.

Older people—in particular those who have the means to do so—owe a debt of solidarity to the younger members of society, those who are often hardest hit by the economic tsunami.

And to artists, musicians, the people who provide all the pleasure we take for granted—if you can’t eat, you can’t play. That’s the gift I’ll be giving this Christmas!

So turn this favorite of mine right up, ’cause it ain’t Christmas without rock ‘n roll.

The India Road, Atmos Fear, Clear Eyes, and Folk Tales For Future Dreamers. QR links for smartphones and tablets.

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