Britain’s subsidy on eating out is due to end this month, and it sounds like servers will breathe a sigh of relief. It’s brought money into pubs, cafes, and restaurants, and along with it, crabby, demanding customers.
One server said, “Last week I had someone swearing at me on the phone. They wanted to book a party of 20. I tried to explain there’s no way we could book in 20, the only thing we could do is we have got tables outside. He told me I’d ruined his day.”
You know how it is: Nothing says “Let’s have a good day” the way ruining someone else’s does.
I don’t know what it is about having part of your meal subsidized that puts people in a temper, but any number of servers report that it’s been horrible.
Having advised English secondary schools against using face masks when they reopen, the government has now changed its mind and is giving head teachers (if you’re American, that means principals) discretion over whether to require them or encourage them, although how much encouragement a mask needs is anyone’s guess.
A fair number of schools had already said they were going to require (or encourage) masks anyway and the World Health Organization has said it’s a good idea. (Okay, I’ve simplified WHO’s advice, but we’re in the neighborhood.) So the government’s avoided the embarrassment of a showdown with the schools and instead is having a showdown with its own MPS, who are saying things like:
“Masks should be banned in schools. The country should be getting back to normal not pandering to this scientifically illiterate guff. It is time to end the fear. And keep it away from our kids, thank you very much.”
“We need to embed Covid and proportionately live with it.”
My favorite is the statement that Boris Johnson–that’s our alleged prime minister–has been “reprogrammed by aliens.”
So yes, we’ve confused WHO and Dr. Who, but we’re on top of this. It’ll be fine.
Speaking of our alleged prime minister: Dominic Cummings, who is Johnson’s brain and quite possibly his programmer, although I don’t think he’s an alien, already caused a lot of trouble by breaking his own lockdown rules, getting caught, and swearing blind that he drove 60 miles to make sure his eyesight was good enough to drive–.
Should we start that over? Dominic Cummings hasn’t been an easy presence in 10 Downing Street, and I don’t think anyone would argue that he’s united the country. Today, though, it’s his father-in-law in the news. He told a visitor (who told the world) that Johnson will be stepping down in six months because he’s struggling with the aftereffects of Covid-19, which he caught by being an idiot.
Not that I blame people who catch the disease. Only the ones who think the rules of epidemiology don’t apply to them.
Johnson denies that he’ll step down. Number 10 denies that he’ll step down. The father-in-law’s in hiding. Cummings has stolen a tardis and is not available for comment.
The father-in-law’s a baronet. That’s not a weapon, it’s a title–the lowest order of hereditary title, and it’s available to commoners, so feel free to be snobbish about it. It gives you–or him, really–the right to be called sir. But only by people willing to call him that. Its rare female equivalent is a baronetess, and if you find one with your birdwatcher’s field glasses she will probably not want to be addressed as sir. Or siress.
The Oxford Vaccine Group says it just might have enough data gathered before the end of the year to bring its vaccine before the regulator for approval.
And that doesn’t say the regulator will approve it.
Anything leaning that heavily on the word might is a kind of non-news item, but it appeared in a large enough range of publications to make it look like news. Presumably they put out a press release. Maybe they decided we all need cheering up and a press release is cheaper and more practical than tea and cookies. Or maybe they’re afraid we’ll forget them and start looking to Russia and China for salvation. Either way, please join me in a cup of tea, a cookie, and a shred of hope.
Or a biscuit if you’re holding out for British English. I’m very nearly bilingual and happy to work with either version of good cheer.
Okay, that’s enough with the good cheer. You knew it couldn’t last, didn’t you?
The world now has the first fully documented case of someone getting Covid a second time. The man’s 35 and was diagnosed in March and again in August. The two infections have some genetic differences, which says that this isn’t a single infection that hung around.
It’s not clear whether the genetic differences are enough to have made his body not recognize the second version. All anyone can say so far is that nobody should count on being immune. Beyond that, no one’s drawing sweeping conclusions.
At least in Europe, the coronavirus is becoming less deadly, although it’s not clear why.
If you divide England’s Covid deaths by its cases (and England follows the European pattern in this), you get a fatality rate of 1% in August but 18% in April. And if you take those figures too seriously, you’ll be misled, because deaths lag a couple of weeks behind infections and because testing has changed during that time.
Still, something seems to be going on. It could be that the disease is infecting a younger group, who are, wisely, less prone to dying to if. It could also be that hospitals are treating it more effectively.
One set of scientists thinks a variant of the virus, known by its friends and family as D614G, is more infectious but less deadly. A second set thinks that’s not so. I think we’ll find out occasionally, so let’s wait and see.
For a while there, it looked like scientists in Antarctica might have found a parallel universe, created in the big bang right with ours. In it, left is right, up is down, and time runs backward.
Then it looked like they hadn’t found one at all, damn it. A new paper argues that the pulses that hinted at the parallel universe were reflections off the ice formations.
Am I disappointed? Damn right. If time was running backwards, there’d be a way out of the pandemic. Not to mention climate change and anything else we’ve screwed up, although I’ll admit there’s an awful lot of stuff in the past to not look forward to.