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posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday March 24 2020, @04:54AM   Printer-friendly
from the lock-em-down dept.

Politicians won't admit it yet, but it's time to prepare—physically and psychologically—for a sudden stop to all life outside your home.

[...] Whether you are reading this in your living room in Vancouver, office in London, or on a subway in New York City, you need to think hard, and fast, about two crucial questions: Where, and with whom, do you want to spend the next six to 12 weeks of your life, hunkered down for the epidemic duration? And what can you do to make that place as safe as possible for yourself and those around you?

Your time to answer those questions is very short—a few days, at most. Airports will close, trains will shut down, gasoline supplies may dwindle, and roadblocks may be set up. Nations are closing their borders, and as the numbers of sick rise, towns, suburbs, even entire counties will try to shut the virus out by blocking travel. Wherever you decide to settle down this week is likely to be the place in which you will be stuck for the duration of your epidemic.

To appreciate what lies ahead for the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom, pay heed to Italy, France, and Germany. The United States, for example, is currently tracking exactly where Italy was about 10 days ago. France and Germany, which track two to five days ahead of the United States, are now revving up measures akin to those taken by Italy, including lockdowns on movement and social activity. In a matter of days, the United States will follow suit.

[...] Once tough location decisions have been made, the household must be readied for a long siege. While panic-buying has led to stockpiles of toilet paper and hand sanitizer, getting through eight months of confinement with others will require a great deal more, both physically and psychologically. This is especially true for households that span generations.

Long-term confinement that includes children undergoing remote schooling and adults trying to work requires designated spaces for each individual, a powerful Internet signal and Wi-Fi router, and a great deal of shared patience. Everybody in the household must understand how the coronavirus is spread, and what steps each should follow to eliminate their personal risk of passing infection to others in the home.

The virus is transmitted by droplets and fomites[*]—it isn't like measles, capable of drifting about in the air for hours. It dehydrates quickly if not inside water, mucus, or fomite droplets. The size of the droplets may be far below what the human eye can see, but they are gravity-sensitive, and will fall from an individual's mouth down, eventually, to the nearest lower surface—table, desk, floor. You do not need to clean upward.

However, a newly published study, backed by the National Institutes of Health, found that the virus survives in "aerosols for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel." This means an uncleaned surface can pose a risk to members of the household for a very long time—a doorknob, tabletop, kitchen counter or stainless steel utensil.

[*] Wikipedia entry on fomites:

any inanimate object that, when contaminated with or exposed to infectious agents (such as pathogenic bacteria, viruses or fungi), can transfer disease to a new host.

[...] In addition to objects in hospital settings, other common fomites for humans are cups, spoons, pencils, bath faucet handles, toilet flush levers, door knobs, light switches, handrails, elevator buttons, television remote controls, pens, touch screens, common-use phones, keyboards, and computer mice, coffeepot handles, countertops, and any other items that may be frequently touched by different people and infrequently cleaned.

Researchers have discovered that smooth (non-porous) surfaces like door knobs transmit bacteria and viruses better than porous materials like paper money because porous, especially fibrous, materials absorb and trap the contagion, making it harder to contract through simple touch. Nonetheless, fomites may include soiled clothes, towels, linens, handkerchiefs, and surgical dressings

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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday March 24 2020, @06:26PM (3 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday March 24 2020, @06:26PM (#975132)

    I'm O.K. with the national popular vote not deciding the election... the rules are the rules, and presidential elections have been gamed to optimize to those rules for decades - Trump is far from the first to win with a minority popular vote. Maybe we should change the rules, but until we do there's not really any point in complaining about them.

    What I believe we really should do is erase the barriers to voting. If you're eligible to vote, voting (once) should be as easy as possible. Florida does pretty well at this: early voting open for weeks at convenient locations. Other states have varying degrees of shockingly discriminatory practices that are clearly aimed at shaping the outcome of elections.

    I'd also be very much in favor of anti-gerrymandering legislation, something algorithmic which would allow any petitioner to complain that the boundaries are drawn with "nonsensical" skew, and if they can propose a new set of boundaries which are, say, 10% less skewed than the current boundaries (according to some well accepted clustering algorithm), the legislature would be required to redraw the boundaries within 1 year or less to either the petitioner's proposed boundaries or other boundaries such that the legislature decides which exceed the low-skew measure of the petitioner's proposal. Unfortunately, that's way too much math for your average bear, much less politician, but I think when people saw the proposed map boundaries they'd support it overwhelmingly (unless, of course, they want the gerrymander skewed election results...)

    Meanwhile, we've got to deal with what we've got - just like the crappy level of true information coming in around actual COVID-19 infection rates, silent carriers, etc.

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  • (Score: 2) by sjames on Tuesday March 24 2020, @06:52PM (2 children)

    by sjames (2882) on Tuesday March 24 2020, @06:52PM (#975142) Journal

    The rules are the rules. I point it out to deflate claims of having "a mandate from the people". With a margin that small, there is no mandate. With the popular vote going the other way, there isn't really even a grudging acceptance.

    I agree on removing gerrymandering. Ideally I would like to see it determined based on objective criteria that could be processed with a 'blessed' piece of software (some sort of iterative optimizer most likely) based on a public database, but that's probably not going to happen.

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday March 24 2020, @10:37PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday March 24 2020, @10:37PM (#975230)

      I just about threw up on the TV when Bush W announced his "mandate from the people to continue the war in Iraq" based on his 52% victory.

      The problem with anti-gerrymandering software is that nobody would really trust/understand it. If there was a chance in hell of it passing politically, I'd try myself to work out an algorithm that both satisfies the math geeks and can be understood by at least 51% of the bears out there, it's possible, but pointless in the current political climate.

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    • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday March 25 2020, @12:30AM

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 25 2020, @12:30AM (#975267) Journal

      With a margin that small, there is no mandate.

      Thank you. With a 60% majority, the winner might begin talking of mandates. Low to mid 50%? He sounds like a damned fool when he mentions mandates. Given a 75% win, the winning party actually has a pretty clear mandate.