Today is officially Day 247 of me working from home from my apartment for my university library system during the pandemic. Or, in this case, not working, as this is my final week of holidays before I go “back” to work. Of course, since I am still at home when I “go to work”, all my days are starting to blur together: weekends, weekdays, holidays, working days. A couple of days ago, I actually had to stop and ask myself what day it was; I had forgotten it was a Sunday!
Social VR and virtual worlds such as Second Life have been my godsend, an opportunity for me to socialize while I remain stuck at home, with Manitoba stuck in a province-wide code-red pandemic lockdown. I now go for days at a time when I never leave my apartment.
This morning I loaded up Vanity Fair and went over to Muddy’s, where I fell into conversation with a man standing by the side of the dancefloor. I was doing what I usually do when I am in a club, right clicking on avatars and reading their user profiles, and he had such hilarious, sarcastic snark in his profile picks about all the things that drive him crazy in Second Life, that I had to instant message him, and we struck up a conversation. (I myself have a list of pet peeves in Second Life.)
And he was wearing a group title which I found quite amusing, so he very kindly invited me to join his private SL group, so I could sport it as well:
My recent blogpost, Making Plans on What I Want Done with My Possessions (Virtual and Real) in the Event of My Death, got a surprising number of views, and sparked some interesting discussions on the many Discord servers of which I am a member. I have now identified six people (three in my real life, and three from my social VR/virtual world communities), all of whom will have each other’s name and contact information, in case of any emergency involving me. I now need to draw up a Google Docs document with a list of my wishes and requests in the unlikely event of my death (COVID-19 or otherwise) to share with these six key contacts.
I have also called and emailed again the lawyer whom my financial planner recommended, in order to get the process started on drawing up a will, a financial power of attorney, and a healthcare power of attorney, and I have finally made contact (she apologized for not getting back to me sooner).
Manitoba’s premier, Brian Pallister, is currently taking a nosedive in the opinion polls for his handling of this public health emergency. The coronavirus pandemic is currently raging out of control in the province.
The biggest newspaper in the province, the Winnipeg Free Press, has been savage and unstinting in its criticism of his performance lately (and frankly, Brian deserves it):
In response to a question about whether he is doing everything he can to control what is, right now, arguably the worst COVID-19 outbreak in any province, the premier actually congratulated himself for bringing in the most stringent pandemic restrictions in the country.
But Pallister should have known that having the harshest virus–control measures is not an accomplishment worthy of applause; it is evidence Manitoba is now teetering on the edge of a public–health disaster.
Outside the “Atlantic bubble,” Pallister crowed, Manitoba is now “leading the country” in pandemic restrictions.
Pallister made this perverse claim citing a story by award-winning Globe and Mail columnist André Picard from last weekend that did, in fact, note that Manitoba currently has among the “toughest restrictions” in the country.
But Pallister should have known that having the harshest virus-control measures is not an accomplishment worthy of applause; it is evidence Manitoba is now teetering on the edge of a public-health disaster.
Bragging about having the toughest pandemic restrictions in the country is like standing over the smouldering remains of a house that just burned down and bragging about how your firefighters have trucks with the best water pressure in the country.
As case numbers increase expeditiously and the body count rises alarmingly, he has drifted further away from any suggestion that he or his government played any part in the current mess.
When he’s not overstating his province’s restrictions, he’s claiming (without any hard evidence) that Manitoba is the most generous province in terms of economic supports for businesses. And, after that, he lectures Manitobans on “not being the weak link” in the battle to control the novel coronavirus.
When Pallister is encouraging people to limit their contacts with people outside their households and to wear masks in all public places, he’s certainly not wrong. He’s just the wrong guy to be delivering the message, because he simply doesn’t seem capable of admitting that his government has miscalculated badly on both the magnitude and timing of public-health orders.
…Our low case numbers and deaths in the spring and early summer were clearly more a result of luck than competency. Now that we’re in a real pandemic crisis — one that registers on an international scale of severity — smugness and hubris should be set aside in favour of more decisive responses.
Pallister is quick to rage against any allegation that he or his government are to blame — even partly — for our current predicament. However, before he indulges in another grand mal bout of self-congratulation, he should close his eyes and try to visualize how that plays among the families of all those Manitobans who have died in the current outbreak.
Yes, Brian, like many Manitobans, I am (not so silently) judging you. As far as I am concerned, the next provincial election cannot come quickly enough.