Just looking back on July last year…

Not many of us could have imagined that one year on we would still be dealing with the pandemic. Now, despite clear imperfections, mistakes and all that, the fact remains that Australia has done comparatively well. But even so…

Had an Alan Jones attack on FB last night…

Posted on  by Neil

No, not directly — but there I was watching YouTube music videos, not having the stomach to watch the undoubtedly excellent Four Corners last night — too depressing, I decided — when a “recommended” video attracted my attention: Alan Jones’s latest spray on Sky In The Dark.  Now Alan hasn’t been doing all that well. Probably explains why Sky are trawling YouTube.

Week one of Alan Jones’ new life as a Sky after dark talking head. So how did he go? Well, it wasn’t encouraging — from the strong opening night audience of 109,000 on Monday it was a slide to just 57,000 on Thursday.

Now some might argue that was low because the AFL and NRL games were underway on Fox Footy and Fox League. Paul Murray’s audience (after Jones) also fell sharply — to 66,000 on Thursday night from 94,000 on Monday. Sky will blame the footy for fall, but the channel’s management programmed Jones up against the start of the football, knowing that those codes and Jones share similar demographics — middle aged to elderly white men and the occasional women who are angry. If Jones and Murray had really rusted-on viewers (as we have been led to believe), the falls wouldn’t have been so big….

I’ll come back to Paul Murray later.  Oh and I won’t bother showing Alan’s segment — seek it out yourself if you must. I will however quote my FB spray.

I see (but will not display his idiocy) that Alan Jones, now on Sky In The Dark, has graduated from expertise in climate change to confident pronouncements on the uselessness of masks in limiting the spread of COVID-19. Says he has read medical sources. Wow. I have too. They tend not to support Alan Jones.

My cousin Julie, being an actual doctor (PhD and medical) researching in the public health area, has read even more. Certainly more than Alan Jones. Her latest post here was on how you should treat your mask — obviously endorsing their usefulness when properly used.

Jones is famous for talking a lot. I find his voice rather like chalk scraping on a blackboard — but that of course is subjective.

He has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Queensland, and completed a one-year teaching diploma at Worcester College, Oxford. He did win a Blue there for Tennis. (– Wikipedia) All of which makes him a great climate scientist and shrewd epidemiologist. Obviously knowing more than, to take but one of many possible examples, Raina MacIntyre.

Why on earth anyone would even listen to Jones is beyond me. His thesis, of course: “The freedoms of Australians ‘are being stolen on a false premise’ ” His loyal followers include this guy: “The Nazis made Jews wear yellow stars and also had the military manning checkpoints….”

I despair sometimes. Alan, shut the f*ck up!

Raina MacIntyre has said:

…the bottom line is no intervention gives you 100% protection, you have to use them in combination to reduce the risk, and until the time that we can vaccinate people, you really have to use these interventions in combination. And when you are out and about, you can’t always predict when you can social distance and when you can’t. There could be factors outside of your control where someone comes up right in your face and you weren’t expecting it, so given that unpredictability when you’re out and about, that also makes sense to use both the physical distancing and the masks.

Norman Swan: You and I talked a few weeks ago about the masks reducing the risk by about 60%. Does that bear out in the studies that this Lancet paper brought together?

Raina MacIntyre: Yes, so the masks reduce the risk by 67% in this study….

Raina MacIntyre: The debate and discussion around the use of masks is not driven by evidence, it’s driven by other issues, ideology and beliefs and issues that have not got anything to do with the scientific evidence, that’s all I can say.

Quoting there from Face masks, physical distancing drastically reduce coronavirus risk.

And I might add what my cousin Julie had to say in her FB post yesterday:

Social distancing is still most important (equivalent of road design and rules for car safety); Hygiene (hand-washing & cough etiquette) is the next most important (equivalent of a well built car driven properly) adding masks is like adding an airbag- it’s a last line of defence if things go wrong, it doesn’t make it safe to drive backwards down a freeway. It doesn’t make you invincible.

ALWAYS wash/sanitise your hands immediately after touching/adjusting/replacing your mask.

And please, please, please don’t snitch them from hospitals, doctors surgeries etc remember if our health staff are sick, dead or in quarantine they can’t save you or your loved ones.

PS yes, we did ‘change our minds’ on masks. Not because the facts changed but because it turns out Aussies are not good at following the rules when nobody’s looking and supply chains are better than at the start of 2020 as well as we now know more about the sneak factor of COVID.

Julie really is a highly qualified scientist in the relevant public health area.  I have meanwhile done my research and found, unsurprisingly, that NONE of the pundits on Sky In The Dark has any scientific qualification of any kind — and some, like Andrew Bolt, didn’t even make it through a BA. On the other hand are people like Julie and Professor Raina MacIntyre. Whose word weighs most, do you think? This is not argumentum ad hominem — it is simply asking “Would you buy a used car from that person?” Common sense caution. Oh, check out Raina MacIntyre’s CV. And read Victorians, and anyone else at risk, should now be wearing face masks. Here’s how to make one (updated 19 July). Watch:

Sadly though many echo this anonymous comment I found on The Blot Report (do check that site out!)

All these doctors, nurses, virologists, immunologists and epidemiologists keep saying Covid-19 is dangerous, but all these people who barely passed science in high school keep saying it’s not. It’s so hard to know who to believe any more.

Anonymous

Well, not really! People who know what they are talking about as against ideological warriors who REALLY don’t? Not a hard choice at all.

That brings me back to Paul Murray, who actually can be quite personable even if he seems most of the time to be a propaganda vehicle for the hard right of the Liberal Party. But he stepped out of the Sky line the other day — and aside from the fact that I pretty much agree with what he says, I recommend going on YouTube to sample the howls of hate that he brought on his head! And to be fair: that testing is a really good idea is a bipartisan position — hardly radical anarchist leftie! — supported by just about every leader from ScoMo and Albo down.

One example: “If it so contagious why such a ridiculous test Why are they breaking people’s Blood Brain Barrier They are infecting and killing people intenionally Why should we believe the media or the government You are all bought.” AAARRRGGGHHH!!!!!

Yesterday’s post on Jones and Sky In The Dark scored!

Posted on  by Neil

I am glad to say! Thanks, Maximos Russell Darnley on Twitter: “Neil has written an excellent piece beginning with a critique of Alan Jones disinformation monologue about mask wearing & #COVID19. Neil goes on to quote from the experts. What is it with the #MurdochCommentariat? Is it plain stupidity after all?”

Chuffed too by my niece-in-The-Shire! There are two electorates in The Shire: ScoMo’s and Craig Kelly’s. My niece lives in Craig Kelly’s. She commented on the FB version of yesterday’s post:

 I love what you have written here. Alan Jones is a thorn in everyone’s side. The ads he does to promote his show are filled with self importance and arrogance. He has very little real knowledge.

He needs to expand his reading and perhaps listen to those who actually know what they are talking about.

Thank you Uncle Neil for saying what I have been thinking. 

My cousin Julie was encouraged to post more too — and her employer also posted her.

Townsville public health physician Dr Julie Mudd is encouraging the Townsville community to play its part and get tested for COVID-19 if unwell, busting the myth that testing is painful.

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“When testing was first introduced, the world-wide standard was to take a swab of the space behind the nose which can be painful for some people,” Dr Mudd said.

“We now know that it’s just as accurate to test using a deep nasal swab, which swabs the inside of the nose itself and is less uncomfortable for the person being tested.”

Dr Mudd said the new technique was also suitable for children.

“Swabbing is completely safe and appropriate for children and we can modify as needed so that we don’t cause any unnecessary trauma,” she said.

“Early intervention not only means we can stop community spread, but it also means that we can monitor an individual and manage the virus and try to prevent it from becoming worse.

“In most instances we will able to manage a patient in their home without admission to hospital, and all testing and treatment is completely confidential.”

Dr Mudd also encouraged people to chat to their doctor if they have symptoms but test negative for COVID-19, as it may be an indicator of a different illness that will still need treatment.

From Julie comes this recommended reading — and very powerful it is too: The New Stability” by Anna DeForest, M.D., M.F.A. from The New England Journal of Medicine.

What else is there to say? You are dead, like so many others, and the rest of us are left to live in the absence of any certainty. We can’t go on, and we go on: back to work, back to rounds, back to the next case coming crashing in. It is no use to think about the future, our training, or what happens next. We are all attending now to a historic and global suffering, and learning the limit of the grief our hearts can bear.

Finally, a David Pope cartoon that appeared this morning in Loon Pond

pope (1)

So, that’s two posts from a year ago, And here we are — coming to you from lockdown in West Wollongong, NSW. And the Delta variant…