COVID-19 Narratives (3): A Physician’s View of the Front Lines

[An anonymous submission by a physician at a New York City-area hospital.]

If you wanted to concoct a story of a cruel, vengeful god who plotted to induce madness upon all of humanity, you could not do better than the COVID-19 pandemic. Under normal circumstances, all it takes is a few sensible, simple, commonsense hygiene practices to prevent infectious illness from becoming a major public health problem. As diseases go, the usual suspects are pathogens we know well (influenza, rhinovirus, etc.), whose disease courses tend to follow a familiar and predictable narrative: prodrome, syndrome, convalescence, immunity. Serious illness is an exception to the rule with these players, and it clusters predictably in familiar groups of outlier hosts: the very old, those with severe medical problems, the very young. These individuals are at risk roughly as to how old, close to being newborns, or medically complicated they are. Continue reading

“All Right, Very Bad Weather”

George Reisman, Objectivist economist, on “The Alleged Threat of ‘Global Warming,'” from his 1998 book, Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics (“A complete and integrated understanding of the nature and value of human economic life”):

Currently, the leading claim of the environmentalists is that of ‘global warming’. It is alleged that man’s economic activities, above all the burning of fossil fuels, are increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This will supposedly raise the average mean temperature of the world by several degrees over the next century and will cause a rise in sea levels because of melting ice. …

Perhaps of even greater significance is the continuous and profound distrust of science and technology that the environmental movement displays…The one thing, the environmental movement holds, that science and technology can do so well that we are entitled to have unlimited confidence in them is forecast the weather–for the next hundred years!

It is, after all, supposedly on the basis of a weather forecast that we are being asked to abandon the Industrial Revolution or, as it is euphemistically put, “to radically and profoundly change the way in which we live”–to our enormous material detriment. …

The meaning of this insanity is that industrial civilization is to be wrecked because this is what must be done to avoid bad weather. All right, very bad weather. …

Indeed, it would probably turn out that if the necessary adjustments were allowed to be made, global warming, if it actually came, would prove highly beneficial to mankind on net balance. (pp. 87-89, all emphases in original).

Continue reading

The first thing we do, let’s criticize all the lawyers

I stick it to the lawyers’ guild at this discussion at Lawyerist.com. I’m responding to Sam Glover (and others), “Why Are Lawyers So Expensive? I’ll Tell You Why.” As far as I’m concerned, he doesn’t.

Ironically, I’m the Pre-Law Advisor at Felician College.

I might add that some of my best friends are lawyers. Seriously.

Postscript, November 2, 2014: I was away for most of the weekend, so I didn’t visit Lawyerist.com to see how the Expensive-but-So-Totally-Worth-It lawyers had responded to my criticisms of their special pleading for their inflated fees. I just did.

In four days, the author of the piece, Sam Glover, who conspicuously “LOL’d” my initial comment, has backed off, shut up, and moved on without responding to anything I said. I’ve now asked another commenter, who admitted to increasing his fees on the basis of snap judgments of his clients’ “unrealistic expectations,” whether he’d be willing to universalize that judgment and allow service providers in other fields–doctors, therapists, mechanics, plumbers, educational institutions, insurance companies–to do the same without legal interference, oversight, or regulation. I’m morbidly curious to hear the answer.

It’s not that I lack respect for the legal profession as such. It’s a necessary and valuable profession with many noble practitioners. Nor do I much mind that such people have large incomes and live accordingly. What I mind is how many others of them are arrogant, misologistic sophists who thrive on the undeserved deference they get in our society, and who, despite their inflated egos, six-figure incomes, and delusional self-conceptions, cannot argue their way out of a paper bag. There are plenty of lawyers out there fitting that description, and a great number of them seem to congregate at Lawyerist.com. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them billed for being there–in which case I don’t mind giving them a run for their money. Unfortunately, I can’t bill for it, but philosophers don’t live by bread alone.

By the way, I should probably add that not only are some of my best friends lawyers, but so are some of my best former students!