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Dr. Dreimer's Diary, 2020
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2nd Q, 2017
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Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth. (Oscar Wilde, 1854 -- 1900)
The idea for Dr. Dreimers diary came from the excerpts from the diary of Samuel Pepys published daily in the National Post. We thought it would be interesting to write a modern diary using the more formal language of an earlier era in this case we have attempted an approximation of 18th Century expression. What is perhaps most evident is the capitalisation of nouns, which gives an emphasis, and suggests a cadence entirely missing from current written expression. The language is more cumbersome and formal, and tends to favour the use of parallel structure for rhetorical emphasis.
Style is inseparable from attitude and tone. Dr. Dreimer observes mankind as if from a great height, or from another, more sensible century.
His judgements are often unflattering, and his scorn and disdain
palpable. They may be expressed directly, but are often revealed through an
ironic approval of some mindless folly. He may appear to some as a pompous
windbag; to others as a curmudgeonly but correct observer.
As it has turned out, the diary is not a conventional diary at all. Apart from the occasional references to the mythical Aunt Myalgia, languishing in the Shady Hollow Psychiatric Facility in downtown Toronto, or to the Lumpenbangen Studios in the inner reaches of Hamilton, or to the Haven of Wind-in-the-Pines at Silver Lake, we gain little insight into the trivia of Dr. Dreimers own life.
The diary is, in fact, a commentary on events in the news.
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April 3 Diary --
Reflections on the Plague VII -- Plaquenil
Reflections on the Plague VII (April 3)
COVID-19 and Trump Derangement Syndrome.
It is a Truth universally acknowledged that a Vaccine for COVID-19 is many Months distant. One of Lifes great Difficulties is that the Long Term is made up of a Series of Short Terms. In order to reach any Safe Harbour in the Future, it is necessary to navigate the Seas of Tide and Turmoil between now and then.
Thus, in the Interest of immediate Navigation, it has been proposed that Plaquenil hydroxychloroquine a drug used for Prevention of Malaria, and to treat Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis be employed to treat those with COVID-19.
The Argument, is, essentially, that the Drug allows Zinc to penetrate the Virus and destroy it. The following Link explains the Theory:
We have heard that the Idea arose from an Observation that those treated with Plaquenil for Lupus seemed protected from the Ravages of the Virus but we do not recall the Source.
The Theory has been tested in a Study done in France. The rather long Account may be found here:
Mr. Trump suggested not long ago -- that the Drug might provide an Answer that navigational Tool which would save lives between the Here and Now and the Safe Harbour of a future Vaccine.
It is true, of course, that no Drug is without Risk, and Plaquenil has Side Effects. It is also true that it has not been subjected to the Rigours of a proper Trial with Placebo Treatment for Comparison in the Treatment of COIVID-19. The only Evidence is "anecdotal." The Judgment that must be made is between the Risk of lung Damage or Death from the Virus and the Risk of Side-Effects from the Plaquenil.
Since Plaquenil has been used safely for other Indications our personal Choice would be to try it if we became infected with the Coronavirus and our Symptoms became frightening. We frighten fairly easily.
Doctors, of course, prefer to be infallible; they are leery of prescribing Something that has not been given official Approval for the particular Condition. They long for Safety in Numbers the Notion that they are adhering to the accepted and approved "Standard of Care."
The Response to Mr. Trumps Advocacy was initially underwhelming. We do not recall any mention of it in Canada at all. In the United States, it seemed to provide a welcome Opportunity to express Disdain for Mr. Trump. The Governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, threatened to revoke the medical License of anyone Prescribing Plaquenil for COVID-19.
It is true she has since changed her Tune. It turned out to be discordant with the Times. It is now claimed that she was "misunderstood:" her Aim was merely to protect the Supply of Plaquenil for those for whom it is currently prescribed. But if that was the Case why did she not say so? The Claim has all the Credibility of a deathbed Repentance.
Since Mr. Trumps initial Reference, Israel has sent Six million Doses of Plaquenil to the United States.* The Federal Drug Administration has allowed its use in some Circumstances.**
Most strikingly news of the Protocol has reached even Canada. A trial is about to be launched in Hamilton:
It may be that Efficacy shown in the French Study will not be proven. But any Port looks attractive when the Winds are high, and the COVID Rocks dangerously nigh.
Reflections on the Plague VI (April 2)
It appears that complete Protection from virus-laden Surfaces is difficult. The determined Virus Warrior must assess each shopping Destination, and determine the appropriate Method of Defence ahead of Time.
It would seem advisable to have a Hand Sanitizer available with 70% alcohol to rectify any inadvertent Errors.
The Problem of purchased Food being infected seems difficult. We have heard that certified Fanatics do not bring the Box of Crackers inside. They open it outside, removing the plastic Containers within leaving the Box in the recycle Container. While Bananas and Acorn Squash could be washed with Soap Broccoli and Cauliflower would seem to be unsuitable Candidates.
The Death Rate from the Plague is not actually that high. It may be as high as Twenty Percent among the Aged but it may be less than Four Percent overall. True -- it is worrisome that the vulnerable do not seem to be only the Elderly and Infirm the Young and Healthy sometimes succumb. Thus one cannot see the Virus as an Example of a ruthless but not unexpected agent of Darwinian Principle.
While it is tempting to say that each Individual must determine his Willingness to take Risk make his own Path between Bravado and Fear the Issue has now been framed as one of Morality. Ones Actions should be determined, not on the Basis of personal Safety but on that of breaking the Chain of Infection. Breaking the Chain of Infection is a Benefit to Others who may be more vulnerable. On that Basis, no Degree of Fanaticism seems inappropriate.
But it should be noted that those in Government are not actually
expecting to prevent Infections: they merely wish to keep the Rate of
Infections manageable. The Vulnerable will still get the Disease -- but
they may benefit from a System of Care which is not overwhelmed. The
Government Wager is that there is a reasonable Chance that restrictive
Protocols over a short Period may lessen the Rate of Infection.
But such Protocols which involve, essentially, the shuttering of economic and social Activity cannot be extended indefinitely. People need to eat. Mankind -- social Animals -- cannot cower in Self-Isolation forever.
It seems entirely possible that fairly large Numbers of Deaths may be seen as the Price which must be paid for living in a dangerous World.
We have been very successful as a Species. We are used to the Idea that over Time we can control Everything. It is a commonplace Belief, for Example, that we can grasp the Knob that controls global Temperatures, and determine what they will be a Century hence. We do not like to believe that a Virus without Brain or Backbone can threaten our Existence.
Our Question is what will happen when the next Virus has a Death Rate of Fifty Percent?
It would seem prudent to fund an Organization which would keep very close Watch on Viruses arising in the Animal World. Rather than wait for a fatally dangerous one to appear unexpectedly it would seem appropriate to understand the Enemy as soon as possible his Capabilities and Vulnerabilities. The Superiority of Prevention over Cure has long been noted.
Reflections on the Plague V April 1
Our final Visit in Mariposa was to Walmart the Retailer famed for its Management of Supplies, and Devotion to all Things oriental. We put on our protective Gloves, and entered. There was no Sanitizer Kid to be seen! Possibly he was on a delayed Flight from Beijing.
In his Place, there was a small Stand with a single plastic Bottle. There were no Instructions: 1.Take Bottle to nearest Cart. 2. Spray Cart Handle. 3. Remove Cart from Line-up. 4. Return Sanitizer to Stand.
Lacking clear Directions, and hesitant to make up our own Protocol, we ignored the Bottle. It did not look particularly sanitary, anyway. We hurried in, eager to see what superior Supply Management and Oriental Devotion could offer.
In fact not a great Deal. Our favourite modestly priced Cat Food Whiskas was nowhere in Evidence. The more expensive Iams was. We were in a Quandary. If we purchased the Iams, and little Marco preferred it he would insist that we continue to supply it indefinitely. If we did not purchase it, we risked running out of his current Supply. We suspected that he would not take kindly to Table Scraps and Bread and Milk. This was the Protocol for the Cats of our Youth but, in the modern Era, The Feline Rights Movement has made significant Advances. We would risk active Hostility and possibly a Union Complaint.
We bought the Iams.
Apart from the Whiskas there was no Chicken to be had. And then
there was a very long Aisle which was completely devoid of any Product.
We thought at least there should have been a Sign:
YOU DIDNT REALLY THINK WE WOULD HAVE TOILET PAPER, DID YOU?
But, perhaps, we do not expect Walmart to have a Sense of Humour.
The Frozen Dinner Aisle looked as though it had been ravaged by a Destructive Dyson, which had hoovered its way from one End to the other decimating the Stock
Eventually we made our way to the Checkout where social distancing Lines were marked, on the Floor, with red Tape. After piling our Purchases on the conveyor Belt we foolishly removed our Gloves and placed them in the Cart. Then we discovered that Walmart Terminals are not tappable. We resorted to our coin Trick but alas the Coin would not activate the Rewards Touch Screen. We were forced to use our little Finger. It looked vaguely unhappy. We marked it for Amputation as soon as a Surgeon might become available.
And of course we realized that because the Cart Handle had not been sanitized our Gloves had passed any handle Infection directly to every Item we purchased.
Comparing Food Basics to Walmart it was clear that Food Basics was safer, and better stocked.
(To be continued.)
Reflections on the Plague IV (March
We were intrigued to discover the Effects of the Plague on Mariposa. If the tiny Village of Running Brook had seen the Birth and Adoption of the Sanitizer Kid surely Mariposa -- a much larger Town would not be immune from the general Panic.
Our first Task was to get Cash from the Bank. Although we suspect Cash might harbour the Virus we plan to visit the Silver Lake Waste Disposal Site where inordinate amounts of Cash are extracted for Permission to abandon surprisingly small Aggregations of Garbage. We have always paid Cash and although we suspect the Township will accept Jewellery, Gold Doubloons, saleable Pets, and Credit Cards, we do not wish to take the Risk.
The entire Operation went quite well. We wore plastic gloves which allowed us to open the Door of the Bank, and use the Touchscreen safely. When the Machine produced a single One Hundred Dollar Bill, a Receipt, and the Bank Card, we were able to wrap the Bill and the Card in the Receipt, and place all three in the Contamination Zone our left back Pocket.
The next Challenge was Food Basics. The Sophistication of the large Town was immediately apparent. In the Alcove near the front Door, where the Carts spend their leisure Hours. there was an accredited Sanitizer Kid. He immediately divined our Intention and pointed to two Carts close to the store Entrance. Waving his Spray Bottle in their Direction, he said, "Theyre done."
How cunningly clever! Instead of having to touch the Cart first, and risk Contamination before Sanitation we were presented with a Fait Accompli. We had only to determine the Credibility Level of the Sanitizer Kid. There is a Time for Atheism, and there is a Time for religious Belief. "Are you of good moral Character do you fear God and attend Church regularly?" we asked.
Receiving an Answer in the Affirmative, we placed both gloved Hands
on the Cart, and proceeded inside.
We did not notice much in the Way of Shortages. There was a Limit of one Package of Paper Towels per Customer. All the cheap Paper Towels were gone except for the Two-Roll Packages at $1.29. All the larger Packages promised Brand Recognition, superior Absorption, and enhanced social Status. But the Prices caused our usual Symptoms Palpitations and Shortness of Breath much like the Virus itself. We bought the Two-Roll Package.
At the Checkout, a Social Distancing Protocol was in Place. Customers were expected to deposit their Purchases on the Belt then move far towards the other End of the Counter. They were not to linger near the Cashier in order to engage in casual but intimate Chit-chat. The Terminal was tappable. Since we wore Gloves we did not touch any contaminated Surfaces directly.
Of course this Suggestion of Security is false. Any of the Items we purchased could have been contaminated. And what of the gloved Hand of the Cashier? Perhaps she had touched a contaminated Acorn Squash minutes before and passed the Infection to our own formerly pristine Example. And what of the Belt repository Victim to a thousand Items and their potential viral Load?
(To be continued.)
Reflections on the Plague III (March 28)
For many Centuries, Religion was favoured so it would seem by the Process of Evolution. It seems likely that the Tribe possessed of great religious Fervour would all else being equal triumph over the Tribe more prudently skeptical and carefully rational.
If you truly believe that God is on your Side, that Death is a mere temporary Inconvenience, and that God will reward you in the Afterlife then it seems likely you will be more bold, daring, and determined in Battle.
But another pertinent Fragment of Wisdom may be stated thus: Things go on often for a for a very long Time until they stop.
We suspect that Religion is losing its Darwinian Blessing.
An Imam in Gaza, Jamil Al_Mutawa, has claimed that the present Plague is a Divine Revenge on the United States for its Israeli-Palestinian peace Plan.
Look how anyone who schemes against the Al_Aqsa Mosque is being shattered to smithereens...This is the greatness of Allah!
They talk about 25 million infected people in just one of the fifty [U.S.] states. Allah be praised. (Breitbart News, March 26)
Similarly, a Preacher on a Palestine television Program said the
Virus "is one of Almighty Allahs soldiers" unleashed on "those who
attack His believers."
The same Metaphor was used by Tunisian Cleric Bechir Ben Hassen, who lives in France:
"The virus is a soldier in Allahs army. Today, its toppling people as if they were insects."
Alas, it would appear that Allahs Soldiers bear Allegiance elsewhere. They are profoundly heretical -- they obey only the Promptings of their own Instinct for Survival. Iran, an Islamic Theocracy, has been significantly affected and the Virus has not spared Egypt, Malaysia, or Kuwait.
We understand that when the COVID-19 outbreak first appeared in Iran on February 19, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei proclaimed it a Hoax, a Conspiracy of its Enemies. It has now closed religious Sites which were gathering Places for the defiantly Faithful. It has decided to put Facts first, Religion second.
It would appear that when Religion postures in Pretense of
Immunity from natural Forces, it is on the wrong Side of the Darwinian
Argument. The Irrationality of Religion works not towards the
Preservation, but the Destruction of Believers.
(We will continue with our Account of Shopping Adventures in this Time of the Plague tomorrow.)
Reflections on the Plague II (March 27)
We climbed into the Soberly Unspectacular*and headed off. Our first Destination was Running Brook, blessed with Convenience, burdened with high Prices.
We needed Fuel, so we pulled into the larger of the two village Stations. We removed a piece of Paper Towel from our Bag of prophylactic Provisions, and used it to grasp the filler Nozzle. Then we realized we had no Means of pressing the Grade Selection Button without exposing our Finger to the viral Hordes on its Surface.
Rather than swearing, stamping our Foot, or calling for Assistance we did not want to expose our precautionary Measures to public Ridicule we used the extreme Tip of the Car Key, and made a mental Note to disinfect it as soon as possible. In the Meantime, it could, of course infect our Jacket Pocket. The Jacket would also have to be washed.
With the Fuel Tank filled, we returned the Nozzle to its resting Place, and surreptitiously placed the contaminated Towel in the Trash Receptacle. No one appeared to notice our Strategy. No one gawked or giggled. We were relieved.
As we approached the Entrance to the Convenience Store, we realized the Insufficiency of our Preparation. It had a metal Handle and we had brought neither Paper Towel nor Glove for the Task. We used a little Finger wrapped around the very top of the Handle. We made a mental note to have the Finger disinfected or possibly removed as a stern reminder as soon as practical. In the Meantime, we could brandish the little Finger to ward off Muggers or those whose Social Distance Protocol we deemed to be insufficient.
Contrary to our Expectations of rural Normality -- the Cashier was wearing blue Gloves. She eyed us suspiciously. We asked if the Terminal was tappable. She said it was. That solved the Problem of touching the Keypad. We then had an internal Debate. If we handed her our Rewards Card, it would almost certainly be contaminated by the blue Gloves, teeming with infection from other Cards. If we pretended we did not have a Rewards Card, our anxious Timidity would be exposed. We would also lose the Reward. We handed her the Card. When she handed it back along with our Receipt we found we were able to wrap the Receipt around the Card. Instead of putting it back in our Wallet thereby infecting the entire Contents we decided to designate our left back Pocket as a Contamination Zone and placed it there.
We proceeded with some Trepidation to the Grocery Store. The blue
Gloves at the Gas Station had shown we would not encounter Country
Bumpkinness or idyllic Ignorance. Already infected in the little Finger,
despondent and fatalistic -- ungloved -- we grabbed a Cart, and went in.
But sure enough, when we entered the Store, we encountered a Sanitizer Kid, armed with a small Piece of white Cloth. Would we like to have our Cart Handle sanitized? We hesitated. We had already allowed our Hands to touch the Cart. The Damage was done. Death was pretty much inevitable. Instead of pointing out the Folly of Too Late Sanitizing which might have serious Sanitizer Kid Self-Esteem Consequences we said: "Sure, why not?"
In purchasing our two Jugs of Water, we found that the Credit Card Terminal possibly sensing our Trepidation and relishing the Thought of viral Spread refused to be tapped. Instead of swearing, stamping our Foot, or calling for Assistance, we tremblingly inserted our Card. Then there was the Problem of the Keypad. There was, of course, a slim Chance it had just been blessed by the Sanitizer Kid. But if that were the Case we would simply infect it with the certain Death we had acquired from the pre-sanitized Shopping Cart Handle.
In a flash of Inspiration, we drew a Coin from our Pocket, -- not the left back Pocket, of course -- and used it on the Keypad.
We then placed the Coin in the Contamination Zone the left Back Pocket. We picked up our Jugs of Water their surfaces doubtless teeming with viruses and left.
Running Brook the little rural Village had shown that it was no rural idyll but a savvy Centre of Fear. Our Preparations had been ill-conceived and woefully insufficient. We had been caught in three Viral Traps the Door Handle, the Shopping Cart, and the Water Jugs. Our Demise was certain.
But what could we learn about Viral Traps in the much larger Town
(To be continued)
*The practical Replacement for our magnificent 1989 Geezermobile now departed for the untrammelled Freeways in the Sky the "Soberly Unspectacular Vehicle."
Reflections on the Plague (March 26)
Being of advanced Age, and hence considered among the most vulnerable Group, we have decided much against our natural Inclination to follow the Fashion of the Times.
That Fashion dictates extraordinary Measures to stop the Plague in its Tracks by ceasing to have where possible Contact with others of our Species. By such Isolation assuming the Plague doth not already lurk within us we avoid Infection. And if we are already Host to the Malady we will not infect the fortunately Healthy.
This at any Rate is the easy Theory. The Practice may be more difficult.
In accordance with the Theory, we have left our Residence in Satanic Mills near the Megalopolis of Toronto to retire to Wind-in-the-Pines which sits at a suitably healthy social Distance from other such Residences at Silver Lake a smallish Body of Water which aspires but does not quite qualify to be considered Part of Muskoka the Playground of the Prosperous and Popular.
Our farewell Visit to Food Basics in Satanic Mills revealed the growing Panic. The two Litre Jugs of Water we are accustomed to purchasing a Nod to our Suspicion of the Fallen Angel Water Supply in Satanic Mills were nowhere to be found. There was no Chicken. The Pasta Aisle had been ravaged. There was no Shortage of Wines; it was comforting to know that the Management had been able to prioritize the Necessities.
There may have been other Shortages but we were too intimidated to
investigate. Every Surface seemed a viral Haven. We thought it best not
to stand upon the Order of our Going but to go at once.
Shortly after our Arrival at Wind-in-the-Pines, it became evident that our Stock of Food Supplies was insufficient for a lengthy Period of Isolation. We would need to visit the nearby Village of Running Brook, and the more distant Town of Mariposa. While Running Brook is convenient, it is shockingly expensive. We buy Water there but little else. We find that Emanations from high Sticker Prices interfere with our brain Circuitry; Palpitations, Perspiration, and Weakness at the Knees are the inevitable Effects. We can remain in Foodland for no more than five Minutes about the Time it takes to exchange our empty Container for a capacious Jug of distilled Water.
In Preparation for our Expedition, we activated our back-up Refrigerator in order to extend our Ability to purchase frozen Food. We set about the challenging Task of determining how to avoid touching virus-ridden Surfaces.
We took with us a supply of paper Towel, plastic Gloves, and a plastic Bag. We labelled the Bag: For Virally suspicious Material Only.
We suspected that we would be introducing Panic Behaviour to the idyllic rural Hinterlands. People would be going about their Business as normal. They would have heard Reports of plague-infested Toronto and ignored them. They would bask in their rural Safety and Superiority. If we were to wear plastic Gloves at the Supermarket, People would point and stare.
We would feel immediate Relief. The World would be its familiar self. The Plague would be a bad but irrelevant Dream.
(To be continued)