2. No one wants to go back into full lockdown.
3. The mild hassle of wearing masks diminishes the rate of infection, and makes it possible for life to go on in rough resemblance to the way it was.
Yes, yes, yes, I know, but I am ignoring the squawking and flying feathers in the corner as being too tedious to engage with. All that carry-on does nothing to help and only hinders. Ditto all the nutters who carry on against masks – I am looking at you, Pete Evans – refusing to wear them as if they were a communist conspiracy.
Adam Hills put it brilliantly this week, in a tweet: “Imagine being one of the pricks in WW2 London that refused to turn your lights out at night, in order to stop planes bombing your house, because you didn’t want to be told what to do by the government.”
And that’s you, too, Alan. It is time to turn our lights out, or it will be lights off for too many.
Hatching and dispatching
Speaking of which, is Sydney in for a baby boom, nine-months post-Pause? I am, anecdotally at least, informed that is the precisely the case with maternity beds in the New Year rapidly being booked out. And it stands to reason, surely? With partners thrown together more than ever in their time together; with other possibilities of entertainment that involved going out at an all time low, it makes sense that the all-time favourite form of entertainment through the ages was also at an all-time high – and came complete with an inevitable consequence, even in the age of birth control?
Such a thing if it does indeed occur, has a long history. The most famous example in history was the “New York Blackout”, where it was famously claimed by The New York Times that nine months after a sudden blackout on the early evening of Tuesday, November 9, 1965 kept most of the Big Apple unexpectedly home for the night – with no possibility of going out and no TV or radio – one thing lead to another, and the surge was marked. It was, after all, an early-to-bed night for everyone and, with the means of birth control also sometimes difficult to find in the pitch black. There was a 17 per cent surge in births of “blackout babies” the following August.
Other data points to another likely thing when this is all over. When Hurricane Hugo completely smashed the south-eastern US in September 1989, wiping out much of the infrastructure, and placing couples together more than ever, within a year there were spikes in three things: births, marriages, and . . . divorces.
In that case it wasn’t just the fact people were thrown together that made the difference, it was, to quote one academic study, that the “life-threatening event motivated people to take significant action in their close relationships that altered their life course”.
I predict the same for Sydney. Look at most of the relationships around you, that you know well enough to understand something of their whys and wherefores. Most of the ones I know are either markedly weaker or stronger, and just about all are different.
Me? Thanks for asking. But I’m not saying. None of your busin… Sorry, just a moment. Yess, my petalllll! Coming now, darling!
We’ll talk later.
Zoom and doom
No, the Australian magazine industry is not totally finished, but gee its close. Tuesday’s announcement from Bauer magazines was something between the death knell and the death knock.
“What lingers most,” one of the sacked journalists tells me, “is the manner of the execution. After 11 weeks on hold without pay and no access to Jobkeeper, the staff of eight magazines received a text from Bauer early Tuesday morning alerting us to a Zoom update address at 9:30 am from the CEO, who announced none of the mags would be reinstated. No advance notice to the editors. Game over. Our Bauer days consisted of being stood down on Day One and then, months later, axed. The boys think it ironic that Australia’s highest profile health mag is among those magazines being ditched in a pandemic.”
This is how it ends. Not with a bang, not even a whimper. Just Zoom, and goodbye.
Joke of the Week
A little girl walks into a pet shop and asks in the sweetest little lisp, “Excuthe me, mithter, do you keep widdle wabbits?”
As the shopkeeper’s heart melts, he gets down on his knees so that he’s on her level and asks, “Do you want a widdle white wabbit or a thoft and fuwwy bwack wabbit, or maybe one like that cute widdle bwown wabbit over there?”
She in turn blushes, rocks on her heels, puts her hands on her knees, leans forward and says in a quiet voice, “I don’t fink my pet python weally gives a thit.”
Quotes of the Week
“The American people will decide this election. And the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.” – Joe Biden spokesman Andrew Bates, after Donald Trump refused to confirm that he would vacate the White House peacefully, if he lost the election.
“So much of the pandemic has been focused on what we can’t do. This is about what we can do – about seizing the incredible opportunity we have to rethink our streets, parks and public spaces.” – Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes saying that the pandemic had underscored the importance of public space to people’s mental, physical and social wellbeing.
“Don’t do those things that you might do when it’s not a pandemic.” – Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s advice about staying home to try to control COVID-19.
“My grandparents, my parents, went through the war, and I think the argument, you know, that we want to go to the pub more – really, just grow up, you know. Grow up. This is a problem the world is not on top of – go slap yourself on the face in the bathroom, come out and say, like kids say, ‘I’m ready to be good now, Mummy’.” – Former senator Amanda Vanstone, sick of people complaining about COVID-19 social restrictions.
“It’s devastating. We had no idea until the Zoom meeting this morning. Everyone’s head is spinning at present, the whole team … we truly believed we had a very strong opportunity to come back and secure Harper’s future in Australia.” – A staff member of Harper’s BAZAAR Australia, one of the magazine’s devastated staff an hour after they were suddenly told that the magazine has been closed.
“Victoria generally went crazy.” – John Maguire, joint managing director Lincraft Australia, about the great increase in the sales of cloth and elastic around Australia for home made masks.
“Children who come in contact with the criminal legal system are more likely to die an early death, to reoffend and to stay in the criminal legal system – including as adults. It’s a quicksand that traps these kids and their families for the rest of their lives.” – Cheryl Axleby, the co-chair of Aboriginal-led justice coalition Change the Record, making the case for raising the age of legal responibility from 10 to 14. There were almost 600 children aged 10 to 13 in detention in Australia last financial year. More than 60 per cent were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children.
“The reality is there is no free lunch. The tab always has to be paid and it is paid out of taxes and government revenues in one form or another.” – Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe, quashing any suggestions that the RBA will start printing cash to cover federal government debts, and saying that “helicopter money” would ultimately unleash inflation taxes on the country.
“I am scared to share my story, but at some point, someone has to stand up for the athletes. It has been made very clear that they cannot do this for themselves. The abuse needs to stop, or at least be stamped out of our sport.” – Mary-Anne Monckton, a winner of five national gymnastics titles, now a coach, after more than 20 former Australian gymnasts and coaches took to social media en masse to detail a gruesome history of physical, mental and emotional abuse in the sport.
Peter FitzSimons is a journalist and columnist with The Sydney Morning Herald.