Eugene Linden
home   |   contact info   |   biography   |   publications   |   radio/tv   |   musings   |   short takes   

Latest Musing

Imagining a Post Pandemic World

How might a post-pandemic world look and feel? Let’s imagine a creative team at a New York City advertising agency pitching a campaign in 2050 for a new perfume (more than most products, perfumes are sold by attaching to the dreams and aspirations of their times).  The Big Apple, ...

continue

Latest Book

Deep Past
Buy from Amazon

more info

Articles by Category
endangered animals
rapid climate change
global deforestation
fragging

Books

Winds of Change
Buy from Amazon

more info
Afterword to the softbound edition.


The Octopus and the Orangutan
more info


The Future In Plain Sight
more info


The Parrot's Lament
more info


Silent Partners
more info


Affluence and Discontent
more info


The Alms Race
more info


Apes, Men, & Language
more info

THE LAWS OF PHYSICS FOR BABIES


Friday June 23, 2006

[Since a number of friends have had babies in recent months, I thought I resurrect this musing on the unique physics of the baby world] THE LAWS OF PHYSICS FOR BABIES

Close observation of babies has led me to believe that the infant universe is characterized by its own physics, quite distinct from particle physics or the Newtonian laws of motion. I welcome and will periodically post suggestions about additional laws of the baby universe.

LAWS OF MOTION:

1) The Inflationary Universe: Obects tend to recede when you reach for them.

2) The Boomerang Effect: Once successfully grabbed, however, objects usually reappear after being thrown, with the special exception of objects made of glass or metal.

3) The Relativity of Gravity:

       a) Gravity and Acoustics. Gravity can be temporarily reversed by generating noises, but only in the presence of other people. The speed of this reversal is directly proportional to the decibel level of the sounds generated.

       b) Gravity and Context. Gravity spontaneously and unexpectedly reverses itself when approaching stairs, antiques, and the Thanksgiving dinner table.

FLUID DYNAMICS: 1) Animal Spirits: Fluids have a vital forces that causes them to splash and spill unless contained in bottles and sippy cups.

MATERIALS PHYSICS:

1) Conservation of Shape: Once broken or bent, objects tend to reappear in their original configutation.

2) Transformation: When reached for, shiny metal objects tend to recede and then become transformed into plastic or rubber.

GRAND UNIFYING CONSTANT: The Attractive Pull of Mommy: the one universal force.

contact Eugene Linden

Short Take

Relaxing COVID-19 Restrictions will Kill, not Save, the Economy


 

[This is a more developed version of the previous Short Take}

Those who want to relax mandates on self-isolation and social distancing to save the economy have got it exactly backwards. Reopen society too soon, and we risk destroying the economy as well as public order and our shaky democratic institutions. The reason comes down to two words: supply lines.

 Supply lines for necessities such as food are already under stress. Those going to grocery stories encounter random instances of empty shelves and vegetable bins. Smithfield Farms shut down a South Dakota plant that supplies roughly 4% of the pork in the nation after over 500 of its workers tested positive for the coronavirus. Other giant meat processors such as Tyson have also shut down plants for similar reasons. Farmers in the West are having trouble finding workers to harvest the crops now reaching maturity in the fields. And even if they manage to get the crops picked, farmers are out of luck if the truckers fail to show up, or the flow of packaging for their products get interrupted. 

Right now, these disruptions are episodic, but that should be concerning because we haven’t even seen the end of the first wave. What we have seen is that vital front-line workers such as nurses, doctors, EMT’s, and other first responders have had trouble finding protective equipment and maintaining morale. Some have staged walkouts over the dangerous conditions, and these are workers with a sense of mission.

By contrast, for most of the hourly-paid workers who keep supplies made, distributed, and sold, their work is a job that pays the bills. It would be appropriate if society recognized that they played a vital role, but mostly these workers encounter demanding bosses, monotony, and surly customers. If sick, they are not going to work – nor would we want them too. And they are not likely to risk their lives if going to work exposes them to contagion.

Disruption of one link, e.g. the trucker that delivers food the last mile, could halt a supply chain. COVID-19 is a threat to every link. Should a second wave hit before there is a readily available, cheap and effective treatment, it’s a very high probability that many supply lines will be disrupted and filling the gaps could easily overwhelm the nation’s businesses. 

Even today, on the evening news, we see images of vast caravans of cars lined up to get supplies from food banks. Imagine two weeks of empty shelves in the stores that feed our cities. How likely is it that civil order could be maintained in that situation? Will people suffer in silence if they realize that they can’t buy food for their kids because our leaders reopened the economy before a treatment was available because they wanted to prop up the stock market (which is how it will be portrayed)? If we want to look analogues for what life is like once supply chains break down, they’re readily available today in cities like Mogadishu, Kinshasa, and Port au Prince. 

 Thus far, the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic seems to be a mélange of Boss Tweed, Don Corleone and Inspector Clouseau. For the next act, the administration has a choice: Churchill, who bolstered British morale during the London Blitz, or Pol Pot, who sacrificed millions of his countrymen for a bad idea. Let’s hope those around Trump can convince him that the cure for the disease is the cure for the economy.
 



read more
  designed and maintained by g r a v i t y s w i t c h , i n c .
© Eugene Linden. all rights reserved.