Movies, apps, and money: It’s the pandemic news from Britain

 

Boris Johnson responded to the news that a movie chain is closing by urging Britons to go to the movies. Or in British, go to the cinema. But the closure’s only temporary, so presumably your patriotic visit to the cinema can also be temporary. 

So can your exposure to the Covid virus.

How does going to the movies fit with the world-beating, Covid-containing rule of six that the government keeps explaining to us? As usual it’s simpler than you moaners are trying to make it sound. You can’t get together with more than six people at your house. Or at theirs. Or at the pub. Or outdoors. You can’t mix socially or go to the movies together. But you can go to the movies with, say, twenty-five strangers if you all happen to go to the same show. And if you happened to meet 24 ½ of your closest friends at the movies by accident, that would be okay because the accidental nature of the gathering keeps the virus from spreading. 

Virii are methodical little beasts. Throw a few random moves at them, like running into 24 ½ friends at the movies, and they get confused. Throw popcorn at your friends to remind yourself of what friendship and community used to feel like and the virii will be knocked out of their orbits.

And there’ll be those empty seats between you, which may genuinely help, although more and more evidence is landing on the side of nearly weightless aerosols dancing the virus through the air of enclosed, poorly ventilated spaces, in which case an empty seat may not be enough.

Irrelevant photo: mallow

Masks do help. The question is, will people keep them on in the dark while they eat their popcorn. 

Remember that the rule of six is a guideline, not a law. 

Or maybe it’s a law, not a guideline.

Oh, hell, no one knows anyway. Don’t worry about it. Enjoy the show.

*

Scotland’s Covid app isn’t the same as England’s. It’s called Protect Scotland, and–have I mentioned that the apps have glitches? A man downloaded it, picked up a ping, picked up another ping, and–I won’t take you through all the details–eventually figured out that the app thought he could catch the virus through the floor from the guy downstairs. Who must either levitate or be extremely tall and store his phone on his head to get within two meters of the upstairs phone, which (I’m going to assume) doesn’t live on the floorboards.

Or maybe the neighbor stores his phone on a top shelf. And the downstairs phone does live on the floorboards.

Anyway, I keep reading that the apps have glitches, but I wouldn’t have predicted that one.

*

Speaking of glitches, the one that disappeared some 16,000 positive Covid test results from England’s test and trace system may have been caused by a size limit on the files Excel spreadsheets can accept. Send anything more and it smiles serenely and cuts off whatever’s at the bottom of the file. 

Problem solved, at least from its point of view.

Excel’s habits aren’t news. In 2013, it masked a loss of–oh, something like $6 billion from JP Morgan’s books. So yes, this could’ve been predicted. 

The test and trace contract, by the way, is up for renewal. Given how expensively it’s been screwed up, I’m going to bet they’ll renew it.

*

The Bounce Back scheme, which was supposed to help small businesses survive the pandemic, may have been scammed out of £1.9 billion. The government was warned ahead of time–twice–that it was a vulnerable program but decided to go ahead. 

And Britain’s five biggest banks will make £1 billion out of it. Legally.

Another £238 million will be spent on work coaches to help people who lost their jobs in the pandemic by coaching them on interviews, CVs, and moving into growing sectors. You know growing sectors, like, um, hang on. Work coaching. That’s a field where they’re hiring. 

*

More evidence is landing on the side of Covid not spreading via contaminated surfaces. Scientists aren’t saying it’s impossible, just that it’s not the root of the spread. 

Yes, it’s still worthwhile washing your hands obsessively, and it may be worthwhile disinfecting the groceries and boiling the mail before you so much as look at it, but the real danger is in sharing poorly ventilated spaces with our fellow human creatures. 

 

23 thoughts on “Movies, apps, and money: It’s the pandemic news from Britain

  1. It’s rather a relief to read the sort of “same old same old” you’ve sent from The Isles. Over here things are getting “curiouser and curiouser.” I did vote early today, and there was a line, but we were socially distanced and masked and it went surprisingly quickly and smoothly. So that is done.
    There was a bright spot yesterday when Biden spoke from Gettysburg (which is to US history what The Battle of Britain is to you folks) And tonight the VP debate may be entertaining though more restrained than the one last week. Pence is a former talk radio host, but it isn’t likely he will fling feces the way his boss did. Though nothing is for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t written about what’s happening here with immigration, which isn’t same old same old–it’s horrible, but I haven’t been able to be remotely funny about it. You guys have gone through the looking glass. We’re just licking the nearer side.

      Like

  2. I have very limited experience with coding, but I was amazed when I read about the Excel spreadsheet dropping the data. I don’t know how much data they were expecting, but it seems that professionals might have used a database rather than a spreadsheet (room for much more data).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know zilch about spreadsheets and almost as much about Excel, but I do know that you could spend weeks rounding up the competence within this government and its contractors and not find enough to make a single can of corned beef.

      Liked by 1 person

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