Take a deep breath

I came across this paragraph as I ate breakfast this morning:

“In 1848, revolutions broke out again in Europe. For several years economic recession and hunger had provoked food riots in parts of Germany and France. By early 1848, almost a third of the workers of Paris were unemployed. In February, as the crisis rapidly worsened, the Parisians rose and overthrew the July monarchy”.

The citation comes from David Gress’ fascinating “From Plato to Nato: the Idea of the West and its Opponents” (at page 327).

Now that the Covid-19 plague is upon us, and as everything shuts down to slow the rate of infection, we can read paragraphs like that with fresh eyes:

hunger riots

one third unemployment

As recently as 1848!

Our current crisis is being met with cancellations of large meetings, shutdowns of sporting events, self-monitoring, isolation, quarantines, and concerns for whether the wine collection would last more than a week. My pension continues to arrive via electronic transfer. I may be seriously inconvenienced. Mrs. Dalwhinnie may not be able to visit some of her aged patients. The crisis is serious, but it not catastrophic.

In the duration I may finally be able to finish Gress’ book. It is highly recommendable for anyone whose interests include western civilization: does it exist? (yes) What does it stand for? (quite a lot) Has its meaning changed over time (yes). I thought I was learned in history before I read this book; clearly I was in error. Gress appears to have read and remembered everything since the pre-Socratics. A tour de force.

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Bob G

On Sept 23, 2014.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report Tuesday predicting as many as 550,000 to 1.4 million cases of the Ebola virus in Liberia and Sierra Leone alone, by the end of January.

This was just in two countries. Recent studies put the mortality rate for Ebola at 60% and 65% which means that CDC was projecting death of …. I will let you do the math.

After the flu season is over and not much has happened because of Corona virus, we will be told that we masses should be thankful that everything was shutdown and thus averted the wipeout of the human species.


True, but Ebola was less transmissible than the current virus. Death rates = transmissibility x lethality. 3.5% death rate (say) x 100 million cases > 65% death rate x 3 million cases, for example.
You know this anyway, since you are clever enough to read Barrelstrength.

Bob G

The reason Ebola was less “transmissible” or had a lower “incidence” was because it had a high mortality rate, 60% to 65%, which meant that people died before they could transmit it. This is why the most lethal viruses are least likely to kill in large numbers.

My comment wasn’t regarding mortality rate of viruses but rather about the fact that one shouldn’t believe everything we are told especially if it is about the future regardless of source which in this case is uber-experts in the field, i.e. CDC. If we had believed CDC in that case everybody would have been walking around with full burqa on.

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