Friday, May 08, 2020


Last night, I finished Lara Spinney’s brilliant book Pale Rider about the Spanish Flu. My only regret is that I did not read it before the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic as it would have been quite helpful in navigating some of the debates that we have had over the last months. Among many things, Spinney points to the effectiveness of voluntary rather than mandatory measures as one of the lessons of the Spanish Flu. In fact, much of the book can be read as a vindication of the philosophy of Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell (who by the way gave a very balanced interview with Trevor Noah the other day).

As for voluntary measures, I had to smile when I received my Google Timeline update for April, telling me that I had visited exactly one city (Umeå) and that the “highlight of the month” was my visit to the contact lens optician.

In a couple of hours, I will have my annual performance review over Skype and planning for the year ahead with the head of the department. Having invested in a Sony Handycam HDR-CX405 to use with my green screen, I feel ready if the decision will be to not resume campus teaching in the fall, especially as I just received the six packages of illy that I ordered in response to any future coffee rationing :-)


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