Saturday, May 2, 2020

Week 7: Rising Hopes: Well-Placed, Mis-Placed

When I write these weekly posts marking the progress of the pandemic (and my aforementioned descent into madness), I can't help but think of the opening title sequences of Babylon 5 and how they changed over time:
Season 1:  It was the dawn of the third age of mankind
Season 2:  It was the year the Great War came upon us all.
Season 3:  It became something greater: our last, best hope for victory.
Season 4: It was the year of of fire, the year of destruction, the year we took back what was ours.  It was the year of rebrith, the year of great sadness, the year of pain, and a year of joy.  It was a new age.  It was the end of history. It was the year everything changed. 

Season 5: ... um, we used up all the good stuff in season 4, we got tired, and didn't have an opening speech like the previous seasons.

So, where are we?  I am thinking week seven is season 4.  Some good, some bad.  Things are opening up.... prematurely.  Furloughed Spew (that would be the LA kid for newcomers) got her unemployment benefits.  The CDSN held a conference and developed recommendations.  Much confusion about whether universities will be open in the fall (mine will be online is my guess).  The South Korean re-infected turned out to be false positives.  PM Justint Trudeau banned a heap of guns.  A Canadian naval helicopter was lost at sea.  I could go on. So, topsy-turvy kind of week, eh?  For some reason, seven weeks seems a lot longer and more shocking that six weeks.  Time is strange in quarantine.

For the Saideman quaranteam, it was a mostly good but mixed week.  No new infections, which is always good news.  I managed to get into Costco at the beginning the week and found everything I needed.  Even TP, which is now being mailed to my mother-in-law.  Really.  We tried an online organic grocery delivery system.  Mrs. Spew's reaction: meh, maybe better to do in the summer.  More zooms with friends from long ago and far away plus max Saideman zoom with siblings, cousins, and the cousins' kids.  Adding really young kids to a zoom changes the dynamic in fun ways. 

On Monday, the Canadian Defence and Security Network held a zoom conference.  The idea is that in this time of crisis, the least we defence/security academics could do is brainstorm and come up with policy ideas.  We asked the Canadian Department of National Defence to give us questions or scenarios, and we took those and did what we do best--think and argue.  We came up with a two page policy brief that we will share on Monday (didn't want to release at 5pm on a Friday plus having a French version to share is the right thing to do).  I presented some of the findings at a CDAI webinar on Friday and got a good response.  This has become the basis for an internal grant proposal (Carleton has been great at initiating new programs to employ students who have few other summer job prospects), which is this weekend's task. 

In terms of benchmarks, or is it milestones, I finished the grading of my MA class except for the papers with extensions.  I still need to read some dissertation proposals from my PhD proposal workshop, so the Winter term is not yet over, grading-wise.  Reviews go out, review requests come in--the academic tides have not changed much.

For those that accept this thing is going to take some time, I think we have found our rhythm, more or less (implicit plug for latest Battle Rhythm episode?).  It is easier for me to say since I have no kids at home.  For my friends with small children, well, I am sorry that things are unlikely to change soon.  I am just glad my friends are tough enough to handle going without haircuts for several weeks.

Isn't that the big surprise here?  That haircuts would be the thing that the snowflakes on the right would use as their rationale for opening up the economy?  I am not sure what I would have bet on seven weeks ago, but I would not have imagined that haircuts would be a thing.  What would tempt me to climb out of my quarantine hole and demand an opened economy?  The call of ultimate frisbee is strong, so the desire to run and jump and hang with people might tempt me to violate the quarantine .... if I was much more self-centered than I have admitted in many posts here (Happy 11th anniversary to the Semi-Spew!).  Yes, the appalling thing about the minority (and it is an overplayed small minority) pushing for the end of quarantine is how amazingly self-centered they are, how devoid of empathy they are.  Then again, they are mostly Trumpists, so, of course.

Damn, I had tried to avoid politics for an entire post and failed.  So, how's your week?

No comments: