Sunday, 28 June 2020

Trump’s music. Travel plans. Going back to work in cities. Babies.

His country might be battling (and seemingly not very well) the virus but Mr Trump needs to keep on campaigning. Politics trumps (excuse the pun) public health concerns in most countries apparently. The latest bit of a problem on the campaigning front comes from Rolling Stones who have objected, not for the first time either, to their song “You can’t always get what you want” being used at a Trump rally. Another cease and desist order has been issued or maybe they plan to sue him. We shall see. So that’s Tom Petty’s family putting a cease and desist order in place recently and way back in 1918 Neil Young objecting to one of his songs being similarly used. It must be hard for a campaigning politician when the best songs belong to musicians who oppose you and despite all your wealth you can’t always get what you want!

Here in the UK the Channel Tunnel reports record bookings as travel to and from parts of mainland Europe is about to open up. Maybe a mobile home and going through the tunnel might be the safest bet for the immediate future if you need to travel. You wouldn’t even need to get out of your vehicle during the crossing. By contrast, a friend of mine who in recent years has travelled regularly between Manchester and Hamburg to visit her aged mother posted this:-

"Covid-19: What's the most risky?

"The common denominator is being indoors, being crowded, being there for prolonged periods of time, noisy environments where people are coughing and shouting, and so there’s more droplet transmission." (Sir Mark Walport, the former government chief scientific adviser)

I think this is a good summary of what's the most risky in terms of catching covid-19 and I'll bear that in mind:

indoors - crowded - prolonged - noisy

The sad thing for me is, for instance, that once flights have resumed, airports will meet all 4 criteria.” 

She’s not planning to fly just yet!

In general people are not rushing back into city centre either according to some reports:-

“New analysis of early June mobile phone data by the Centre for Cities thinktank shows footfall in London, Liverpool and Manchester was just one fifth of what it was before the country went into lockdown in March. Cities in Scotland and Wales, where tougher restrictions are in place, have been the hardest hit: Cardiff has experienced only 12% of its usual footfall and Edinburgh only 14%.”
Many of those who can do so are happier to continue working from home. The whole social dynamics of cities will change. So suburban shops and cafes will see and increase in business but city centre cafes and restaurants will lose the lunchtime trade from busy city centre office workers and the passing trade of all the commuters who pick up, or rather USED to pick up, a snack to eat during their commute.

While lockdown has been going on quite a few of my former students, those from the very last cohort before I retired, now hitting the grand old age of 30, have been having babies. Putting aside the oddness and the possible anxiety of bringing a child into the world in the middle of a crisis, lockdown has provided these young families with the opportunity for the young fathers of these babies to spend far longer with their new offspring than they might otherwise have done, even with paternity leave. Most have been really happy to do so. A little bit of serendipity and the prompt to start thinking about clouds and silver linings!

On the subject of babies, yesterday I read this article about experiments in “growing” lambs in artificial wombs rather than inside sheep. Sheep were chosen for the experiment for the offspring being closest in size to human babies, among other factors. All the signs point to a successful development, one that could allow seriously premature babies to continue gestating in an artificial external womb rather than taking their chances of survival in neonatal intensive care units. Many or indeed most of the problems of these babies could be eliminated. In science fiction fashion it could become a normal alternative to carrying a child in the womb for nine months, solving problems of infertility, difficult birth and postnatal depression. What it didn’t mention was the question of bonding. Many pregnant women (the fortunate ones), and some expectant fathers, establish a close bond with their child well before birth just because the ”bump” is always with them. And because all the movements of the developing foetus can be felt by the mother. Would the same be true of a baby growing in a sort of bag or tank, even though the parents could see the development progressing?

That’s an interesting possible “new normal”!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

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