Editorial – Aug 2020: No one is ever served by poor leadership.

Hello everyone

I end comment on last month’s editorial that it was getting increasingly impossible to satirise our current world situation was increased this month with the Russians cyber-attacking to discover the progress in western research into covid-19. Countries or rather world-leaders are acting to stereotypical type. The difference between reality and fiction seems to be crossing over each other.

Just look at Brazil. If it wasn’t for the tragedy in Brazil of more than 2 million infected and 4% of them dead already, around 78,000 people because 4% makes it look so small simply because their country’s leader did an even worse job of ignoring the problem than other country leaders. There hasn’t been enough time let alone research to know how many of the coronavirus survivors will succumb to other medical problems early from weakened immunity.

Even so, you have to wonder which of the media is going to compare how good the various governments or their leaders did in response to the coronavirus and who served their people first better. An indictment that the worst, hopefully, will lose their leadership roles, and their replacements will try to avoid similar mistakes by not reacting fast enough and with the right decisions, the latter is always going to be tricky.

To make a comedy of a tragedy when so many deaths are involved will always feel wrong yet to laugh at world leaders for being so idiotic might also put them out of office which might not be a bad thing and hope their replacements are better.

The quality of leadership is very hard to define. It’s more than barking out orders but understanding people and things that go beyond personal preferences or prejudices and simply doing the right thing for all where safety is concerned and doing it quicker than waiting to see what other countries do when the R factor jumps up. With the UK, it can hardly be not noticing what was happening abroad again. Leadership also needs to show not only making the right decisions but proven right decisions and not treating their populations as idiots or children. Respect comes from being honest and showing why decisions are made rather than keeping anything hidden in this current pandemic. I defy anyone reading here not to be angry at stupid leadership decisions.

When dithering or bad decisions are being revealed and, to be fair, anyone is capable of that, the important trick is to learn quickly and get it right. Doing the what I say and ignoring or your close minions with your own orders is tantamount to chaos as we have seen in the UK. Continual failure to do that is just bad leadership and hope the population has a long memory and a desire for change.

It does raise an interesting question as to what qualities make a good leader, no doubt complicated by different political systems across the world, although the same goal is mostly to do good for the people you represent. I use the term ‘mostly’ objectively because many leaders tend to serve their political parties first which often guides their decisions and not always for the common good. There might be economical needs but it isn’t as though any country is going to get out of this pandemic unscathed and not spending a lot of money. All the world’s countries are in the same boat and I doubt if any will have an edge when all of this is sorted out.

However, any pandemic, including our current one, means a lot of protocols will be in common than different. I’m applying this in case any of you might be considering what you need to know if you plan to write a story, metaphor, or otherwise on the subject. As SF writers, we tend to show both good and bad decisions and where they might lead than apply them to our current reality. After all, they don’t always happen in our reality…well, until now, that is.

Even so, there is no magic formula here and, where science is concerned, a lot of hard work in finding something that will work. Hardly the exciting kinds of things we expect in Science Fiction. Even so, the fact that espionage is being used to steal secrets or to get a step ahead in research is more in our fodder range but no idea where that will lead. When it comes to science and technology, countries will always see it as their territory to exploit and make money. However, success in finding a treatment or a viable inoculation for covid-19 does need to be shared worldwide and not an exclusive at a price. To do otherwise is not only financially inept but risks a further outbreak further down the line should covid-19 go through further mutations that we wouldn’t be aware of.

With the coronavirus, there are three key elements to recap. Scientists need to research the virus and find an inoculation or cure. Medical staff needing to treat the infected as best they can and information gleaned also supplied to the scientists to help them develop the picture of what they are working with. As is fast being discovered, covid-19 is a lot more complex than first thought and with prolonged side-effects in recovery. The main population needs to do simple things like social distancing and keeping away from people to reduce further infections. Into the latter, there is a matter of ensuring various sectors of the population have sufficient funds to compensate for any work restrictions.

Even so, I haven’t heard much about mental problems from the confinement yet. However, when you consider how many people have reacted to the relaxing of such rules by going to the beach and the sudden sweep of further infections, are we seeing people trying to do good for their families and forgetting some of the safety conditioning. None of which is helped by conflicting instructions. I hope those of you reading here recognise all I’ve said so far and this is mostly a recap for a worldwide audience.

However, our current predicament is still unknown territory. Relaxing the isolation and more coronavirus cases are rearing their head and classed as a second spike when they are the first spike waiting to strike again. Not so much like a waiting cobra but literally like a common cold but more deadly waiting to be passed on to the next person once confinement is eased. The rulebook needs to be defined by events than trying to return things to a normal that is not possible yet.

What governments do next is a bigger problem with juggling. There’s not only a need to get people working to keep the economy going, a need to educate children but a matter or preserving life which means more isolation. Even though it has been established the elderly and those with immunity medical problems and some ethnic groups are most fragile, the rest of any country’s population are still carriers. Covid-19 appears to have at least 6 variants now, with 2 of them being considered potentially fatally extreme which only complicates things further as to whether one type of inoculation will stop all of them.

Doing the right thing is still down to leadership and although short term plans aren’t difficult to work out, none seem to be working on long term plans. After all, we’re still at least another year away from a successful inoculation unless something existing is found to work.

In many respects, the world after this pandemic is resolved has to change. Certainly, there should be more government-funded scientists trained up for problems like this. We’ve seen the benefits of reduced pollution and, potentially, some companies may allow more of their employees to work from home where applicable. New world-building is going to be fun for an SF writer who wants to present a different type of future to what we have today. Quite what that will be will be up to our imaginations to explore.

The worse negative effects are going to come from firms closing or cutting staff and the unemployment that will result. In some respects, businesses have parallels to governments and those who have little regard to their employees should get whatever they deserve if they don’t preserve their employees’ jobs. Even so, employment has suffered such things before and better firms are likely to replace them.

Quite where and what this radical new world is likely to be like remains to be seen yet. Again, for the SF writer, exploring such changes should be welcome and at least test where any extremes will lead us.

Although I’ve been looking at the negatives from the past 6 months, I do think I ought to balance things a little. The reliance on science to solve the crisis should be something you need to impress on your sprogs and hopefully some of them will be encouraged to take up one or more of the sciences as a career. After all, they will be reading how the cure is discovered. We need to prepare and train a new generation of scientists and medical people ready for the next crisis of this nature to strike our world. After all, with the next pandemic, we might well think this one was mild in comparison. Now that is a scary thought.

Thank you, take care, good night, and trust your judgement when it comes to being safe.

Geoff Willmetts

editor: www.SFCrowsnest.info

A Zen thought: Breath is the essence of life. Don’t be without it.

What Qualities Does A Geek Have: To examine something before making a decision.

The Reveal: No one is without some form of prejudice, its how we keep it in check that makes us stronger.

Observation: With the original ‘Planet Of The Apes’ (1968) there was nary a sign of the mutates that appeared there. I wonder if John Brent’s arrival from the past and his part in ‘Beneath The Planet Of The Apes’ (1970) was the change in the timeline that put the Mutates on the map.

Observation: The fascination with animation and magic is that we like to be fooled.

Observation: Those who pat themselves on the back for what they see as a good job invariably means no one else has believed their delusion.

Observation: Here’s something to ponder on for racial equality, why are there only Caucasian and Oriental from the likes of Phicen and other companies and nary anyone of colour.

Observation: Here’s something to speculate upon when I had a low blood sugar. I wonder why the CERN circuit was never designed as a Mobius strip? I mean, it would have twice the distance in a smaller space, except would the particles stay in line?

Observation: On the 25th July, where I lived had a massive storm with a dash of lightning and thunder. With the lockdown and things being a lot quieter, it made the sound of the downpour louder and fresher. Who would have thought that would happen?

Observation: Do you ever wonder about people who use the phrase, ‘You know what?’ and then proceed to tell you about it?

Observation: There is one major problem with fingerprint removal as indicated in ‘The Men In Black’ movies, it just makes such people easier to identify. Even with the current computerised scans, it still takes time to match prints because there are so many of them. There are thus only a few people with no fingerprints at all so if they come up a second time, their photo-reference would be very easy to identify even if they don’t give the right name. Fingerprints aren’t only used for identification but to improve grip, especially with those guns…now…what was I saying?

Feeling Stressed: Distraction is extraction.


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