Uncategorized

Fear For Sale

Ever since I had learnt that I could drop the leading ‘e’ in the word ‘extreme’ and get away with it, I knew that I was one of society’s thrill seekers. It started in the workplace with ‘xtreme programming’ but it wasn’t long before I had taken my adrenalin addiction home with me and I was indulging in xtreme ironing, xtreme polishing and even xtreme punctuation!!! There’s no getting away from it, we are all living lives that can sometimes get pretty anodyne, and the only remedy for that is a healthy dose of contrived peril – preferably accompanied by an orgasm, but not necessarily Inxs.

Thankfully, with the very real peril of COVID-19 on our doorstep, one needn’t go to the trouble of autoerotic asphyxiation to scratch the itch (though heaven knows I have more than enough Tesco plastic bags in my garage now to satisfy an army of pervy rock stars). For some of us (myself included) the onset of the pandemic was providing quite enough thrills and spills, thank you very much. So, whatever the rights and wrongs of the lockdown, there was a certain calm to be found in streets emptied of all but the odd and easily avoided zombie walking its zombie dog. I had found solace in the fact that I could stay alive simply by making my life not worth living. Sometimes depression can be a blessed release from anxiety.

But all has changed now. The virus is still out there, we are warned, and yet after 100 days of telling us it is our civic duty to stay at home, we are now told it is our civic duty to go out. So out I go, with only my home-made face covering to protect me (following suitable modification, a black balaclava I was no longer using has proven ideal, particularly since the word ‘rapist’ is now hardly visible). The situation is a little unnerving, I’ll grant you, but there is no need to get things out of proportion. The actual risk to the individual is now not nearly high enough to satisfy the connoisseur of the xtreme. So what we really need now is a new fear of worse to come. What we need is the promise of a second wave and the revitalised loss of liberty that will inevitably follow. If only there were a newspaper that could contrive that threat for us.

Thank God for the Daily Xpress

I’m not actually sure whether I should be giving credit to the Daily Xpress for breaking this story. I first heard of it yesterday in the Swindon Advertiser, but they were simply quoting ‘media reports’. I suppose I am just crediting the less illustrious rag because their version of the story was particularly xplicit. They didn’t just make a headline claim (‘36 Cities and Counties Could Face Lockdown’), they provided the data to back it up. Today, I have woken up to see the scoop actually attributed to Sky News, who themselves cite Public Health England as their source. Either way, the headline remains the same: Leicester is in lockdown and 36 other cities and counties are within days of enduring the same fate. The second wave, it seems, is coming round the mountain.

I happen to live in one of the areas on the hit list, and so I quickly became aware of the alarm and panic this revelation has caused locally. Fortunately, the local council was quick to settle nerves by reassuring everyone that they had no current plans for a local lockdown. I should say so too, since the Xpress article shows that in my area the number of new cases rose from zero to one between 20 June and 26 June.

Really? Are we honestly saying that the Daily Xpress, Sky News and now most of the internet is claiming that an area is on the verge of lockdown because the new infections rate has risen from none a week to one a week?

Well, read it and weep. That is exactly what is happening here. Take a look at the table of data provided in the Daily Xpress article yourself, and you will see that nine of the 36 areas that may be only hours from local lockdown have suffered an increase from zero to two or less per week. And of the others, most are in a similar position: barely any new cases a week is now giving way to an ‘alarming’ barely any new cases a week. Even in those very few areas where the new cases amount to more than a miniscule number, the values are still xtremely small and the increases are miniscule (i.e. a weekly increase that has accelerated by one or two at most). You might be able to make a case for Doncaster and possibly a couple of other areas, but that is it. Even Leicester’s relatively high rate of new virus cases had only increased by two a week during the fortnight in question. The reality is that, of the 36 areas supposedly on the brink of a second lockdown, all but a very small number are virtually free of the virus and the numbers are flat-lining. Even allowing for the tyranny of exponential growth, there seems to be little to justify the media hysteria.

Our local spokesman dismissed the stories as ‘worthless clickbait’. Well, worthless to you or I maybe, but to the mongers of this sort of fear, I am afraid the story has proven its worth many times over. Our need to be scared has been xploited. We have now all read the headlines and we are afraid – we are very afraid. And we’re loving it!

19 thoughts on “Fear For Sale

  1. Be wild, xpress an unwanted e and other letters that clutter from within – thus Lester, or Norn Iron…think how yor fingr tips will lov u wen u releas them from unecesary work.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Typical BBC. They think this misinformation is all down to conspiracy theorists on Facebook.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/53248531

    Nothing to do with the MSM, of course. They also take the opportunity to advertise their Fact Checking service. Ironic, having just delivered a massively misleading piece of fake news themselves!

    Like

  3. It seems more and more obvious that something is really off with what passes for decision making with out leaders.

    Like

  4. This is Sky News, doing the government’s propaganda work for them and scaring the pants off everyone to justify the re-imposition of local lockdowns. It’s another confidence trick. What has actually happened is that in these 36 areas supposedly at risk of being locked down to prevent a devastating second wave of infections, they have identified quite a few extra ‘cases’ (serological positives) from the recent introduction of Pillar 2 testing, which is basically volunteer home testing in the community using approved home testing kits and at government centres. Pillar 1 testing (in hospitals) has revealed a marked decline in cases in all areas, in line with the declining death numbers. Guess what? Pillar 2 testing (which data is not publicly available) has revealed in many areas that ‘cases’ are increasing, i.e. they are getting more positives (true and false). OMG, second wave screams Sky News, post lockdown increase in infections! Er, no, actually, it’s because they’re doing more Pillar 2 tests, so they’re finding more ‘cases’. If you think that’s just too obvious an explanation and there must be ‘something more’ to the government’s decision to lock down Leicester and seriously look at these 36 other areas, let me quote you a “Statement from Director for Public Health, Julia Burrows and Barnsley Council Leader, Cllr Sir Steve Houghton CBE, Chair of Barnsley Outbreak Control Engagement Board”:

    “The number of cases is Barnsley is higher than the national average. We are seeing transmission in the community across the borough, and like many places across the country, have had clusters and outbreaks in a handful of care homes, schools and workplaces, as we expected would happen.

    During May and June, we have also been able to monitor testing and spread out in the community (through Pillar Two testing). However, throughout this there have been two key issues in Barnsley that we are watching very closely and incorporating into our local control.

    Firstly, throughout the course of the outbreak we have seen higher rates of Coronavirus (COVID-19) locally than the national average. This is related to some natural variation in the disease; our proactive and targeted testing; our higher density of care homes; and our local population which is older than the national average and has higher rates of underlying diseases and other COVID-19 risk factors such as smoking.

    Secondly, we have seen a much slower reduction than the national average, such that daily cases levelled off through May and June, instead of continuing to reduce. This has been largely due to local clusters of cases including in a few care homes and workplaces.

    The good news is that now these clusters have started to ease thanks to local control measures, and we are seeing the early signs of a return to the reduction in daily cases across Barnsley.

    It is worth noting that, along with everywhere else in the country, we will also see the reporting of a lot of extra positive cases this week, which may seem concerning. Please be aware this is a result of the wider reporting of all positive tests from a wider variety of sources (Pillar Two) than was previously available. It is not about the actual number of cases increasing.

    https://www.barnsley.gov.uk/statements/01072020-numbers-of-coronavirus-covid-19-cases-in-barnsley/

    So, how does Sky News choose to spin this statement from Barnsley (one of the 36 areas at risk of being locked down)? By saying this:

    FakeNews media is doing a good job of promoting the government’s alarmism, as it attempts to find justification for the continuance of its catastrophic lockdown policies

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jaime,

    Yes, it had occurred to me also that those few increases that are statistically significant could be down to the pillar 2 testing. There’s just nothing there. But I’m not sure whether the MSM are doing the government’s job knowingly or whether they just have their own vested interest in alarmism.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. In the weeks since the street demonstrations and matches and riots, there has been an authentic out break and increase of hospitalizations due to the virus. ICUs are at or near capacity. It is starting to hit friends of friends and neighbors. This is a passing strange virus and in symptomatic cases is deadly serious. Cleary the ham fisted shut downs and isolation strategies don’t work in the real world.

    Like

  7. HUNTERSON7,

    Here is a graph of the absolute rate of change of hospitalisations in England over the course of the epidemic, along with the 7 day moving average. Sharp rise from beginning of March to early April, sharp decline thereafter to mid April, followed by a gradual rise to a much lower level and stable overall since late May, with just minor blips, up and down.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Let’s face it the hot weather and government promises that the imposed nationwide lockdown had worked did combine to generate public Xcesses. Who would have thought that staid old Bournemouth would have been the location where scads of people, all at the same time, went to boost their vitamin D levels. These, and other totally unpredictable raveups, caused Hancock to break out into a lukewarm sweat. This was compounded by some really bad comparison figures with other countries and revealed a government on the edge. Only a demonstration of raw power would suffice, and out of the hat came Leicester. [ Was it Leicester’s mayor that tipped the scales, with his white beard he looks a little like Corbyn.] But Leicester it was. And to ensure the whole country got the message, out of the sorting hat came 36 communities under the cosh of a future lockdown. But they miss-timed it. If they had waited just a little longer, the extended lockdown at Leicester story would have partly offset the dreadful unemployment figures. Can Bojo’s advisor remain, given such errors. Perhaps his eyesight needs further testing.

    Like

  9. John:

    But I’m not sure whether the MSM are doing the government’s job knowingly or whether they just have their own vested interest in alarmism.

    Sky News, of Beth Rigby fame, doing the government’s job knowingly? Pull the other one. (I know, you already have pulled the other one. Those risk manager habits die hard.)

    The non-conspiracist explanation in my own addled brain has a lot to do with internal panic due to the precipitous fall in advertising revenue – for the ironic reason that advertisers didn’t want their comforting product sitting next to horrible alarmism about a killer virus. Yet what does the customer, or at least the reader, want?

    We have now all read the headlines and we are afraid – we are very afraid. And we’re loving it!

    You hit the noggin on the dread there. Except I’m finding I’m very bad at the fear thing. Just can’t get worked up about it. I blame 62 years of the MSM for that.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Alan,

    I hesitate to play the race card here, but I think it may be relevant that the government was also under fire for not doing enough to protect the BAME communities. No-one can say that now.

    Like

  11. Richard, John,

    “FakeNews media is doing a good job of promoting the government’s alarmism, as it attempts to find justification for the continuance of its catastrophic lockdown policies.”

    I gave no judgement upon whether Sky (and other FakeNews media outlets) might be collaborating with the government in that respect (a full blown conspiracy theory) or merely doing the government’s dirty work for them by following their own rotten agenda independently. The effect is the same.

    Alan,

    “But they mis-timed it. If they had waited just a little longer, the extended lockdown at Leicester story would have partly offset the dreadful unemployment figures. Can Bojo’s advisor remain, given such errors. Perhaps his eyesight needs further testing.”

    It’s all part of Cummings’ Cunning Plan. We mere mortals cannot see the wood for the trees. Cummings can see it all clearly, especially now he’s got his new contact lenses from SpecSavers in Barnard Castle. All shall be revealed. In fact, a lot might be revealed later today with the result of the Simon Dolan court case hearing into the legality of lockdown. I’m just wondering, in the event that the clinical effectiveness of national and local lockdowns comes under serious scrutiny and in the event that the court rules that they are in fact illegal, where this all fits into Cummings’ dastardly plan for world domination? But I’m just speculating. The government may indeed have saved Britain from a model generated ‘hockey stick’ in total excess deaths (which have been declining steadily since the Indutrial Revolution.

    Like

  12. But it’s not just the government and the news media Jaime. It’s the people. A lot of them, anyway. Not you, because you’ve looked into it (though confirmation bias can affect us all). Not me, because I mostly haven’t looked into it but I’m not impressed with fear as a matter of principle. The strength of John’s post is that it very much included this populist aspect. Many were voting with their feet for Project Fear well before official lockdown. Those previously of Vote Leave who did so well to overcome PF in the lead up to 23rd June 2016 decided it wasn’t the right course to lose the bulk of the people in this. “I am their leader, so I must follow them” as the guy from French Revolution said as the mob rushed out to commit another atrocity. But we can still hope for something better than guillotines for all in 2021.

    Like

  13. Getting back to the BBC’s efforts to portray this story as fake news spread by conspiracists on Facebook:

    The fact is that just about every facet of the MSM had been running with this story. Even the BBC themselves had jumped onto the alarmist bandwagon with, “Leicester lockdown ‘will be seen in other cities’, professor warns”.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-53234823

    In that article they had acknowledged the role of the press in pushing the alarm, when they wrote, “Prof Wright’s comments come after several newspapers, including the Daily Mail, reported that Doncaster could be one of the next places at risk of having a local lockdown imposed.”

    And yet yesterday the BBC was blaming Facebook conspiracists, just so they could put in a plug for their Fact Checking service. Never knowingly duplicitous, the BBC had quoted the following under their own cynically alarmist headline:

    “The increases in some local authorities that have been reported are mainly sporadic and are being uncovered as we scale-up testing and contact tracing activity. Importantly, the overall levels of coronavirus in Yorkshire remain low and steady.”

    But, of course, it is the headline that sells.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Richard, you can’t run a country on popular opinion driven by fear. As we have seen, popular opinion is very easily manipulated anyway. Popular opinion a week ago – at least among the establishment – was that BLM were the greatest thing since sliced bread and a lot of people were willing to go along with that. Look where we are now. Mass U-turn. People are crying out for Farage to be reinstated, but not the poor sod who was sacked from his engineering job and his unfortunate girfriend who was also sacked for the crime of being his partner. A week is a long time in Popular Opinion. We have to go by the facts as currently revealed. In saner times, it was the government’s job to sort out the facts from the hysteria and act accordingly, for the greater good, even in the face of widespread opposition from the media and the public. That doesn’t seem to be the rule anymore. Th ‘greater good’ has transformed into an unbalanced emotional knee jerk reaction based upon the fear of condemnation from those focussed upon the apparent immediate good.

    Like

  15. Richard,

    “…for the ironic reason that advertisers didn’t want their comforting product sitting next to horrible alarmism.”

    It is interesting to note just how much of the advertising has now switched to tales of corporate concern for our well-being in these times of horrible alarmism. I have commented before that everything from conservatories to oven chips are now a token of just how much their manufacturers care for us. And I thought it was the NHS that was on the frontline. Benevolence, it seems, is the new commodity.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. John,

    “I hesitate to play the race card here, but I think it may be relevant that the government was also under fire for not doing enough to protect the BAME communities. No-one can say that now.”

    I actually think it may be the opposite. Leicester’s Mayor has criticised the government for its delay in sharing the Pillar 2 data. He says he has still not been given street level detail on the testing and that, if he had been provided with this data in early June, he could have identified exactly where the outbreaks were and done more to contain them. I suspect, though can’t confirm, that the communities where infection was highest were probably Muslim Pakistani neighbourhoods or businesses. I suspect that the government did not share this information because they were concerned about being seen to target specific ethnic groups and thus keen to avoid the accusation of racism. So instead, what they’ve done is lock down an entire city rather than target specific outbreaks within that city. Which is absurd, but then so is allowing young white girls to be raped and abused for 30 years to avoid accusations of racism.

    Like

  17. Yes, the government has to be seen to address the BAME problem but can’t be seen to use the ‘blame’ word. Their coyness is understandable though. Only yesterday I was watching a community leader saying that the spike was due to the government only dispensing COVID-19 information in English, thereby leaving many in Leicester to die in ignorance. I would have thought a bit of local initiative would have solved that problem. But there you go, it’s all down to government racism apparently.

    As I say, it would be better to leave this subject alone. It’s toxic.

    Like

  18. A few weekends ago, the Express or Mail published a geographical map of deaths in the UK. I punched in my postcode and out came the results of the Parliamentary constituency in which I live, in Herts. 8 deaths. And yet, even now, I see morons queuing to shop in masks, some of them not covering the nostrils, all of the wearers touching and fiddling with the masks, thereby compromising them. 8 deaths.

    I checked my 80 year old mother’s constituency. 7 deaths! Croydon South.

    This is no Black Death

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.