Play Jaja Ding Dong

The 2021 Eurovision Finals are this Saturday, in Rotterdam. They’re being held in front of a live unmasked “test audience” of 3500 people. Last year we had colluded with friends of ours to get tickets to one of the semi-finals, had booked a place to stay and were all looking forward to the trip. I don’t have to tell you how that plan turned out.

Are these your plans?

Our best laid plans, yes.

Oh well, never mind.

Will Farrel (who I can’t say I’m generally a huge fan of) made a mockumentary to tide fans over. A bunch of prior year performers made cameos. That’s the origin of the the post title, by the way – and that character in the film is going to be delivering Iceland’s scores on Saturday.

Speaking of Iceland… their entry last year – Think About Things by Daði Freyr – was a favorite to win (Russia’s entry was another fan favorite). They’re back this year, and it seemed cruel and unusual that the band had to pull out of performing live when one of their member tested COVID positive. (Performers who would have been in last year were allowed to return, but had to come with a new song.)

At any rate, we watched the first and second semi-finals over the past few nights. Saturday we’ll likely have a couple friends over, order food, and watch the finals.

It’s another bit of normal, and I’m very happy to have it.

In less up-beat news, the India COVID variant I mentioned has done what things that grow exponentially do – it’s grown exponentially. Cases of that variant have grown 160% in the last week. That growth is against the backdrop of overall case counts declining – so it’s easy to miss, or ignore, when looking at the case charts.

The government has made repeated statements that most of those affected are eligible for vaccination but haven’t signed up to be vaccinated. Even assuming this is true, it neither solves the problem nor undoes the inexplicable delay to restrict travel from India as their COVID wave grew. In the hope of preserving the mid-June date for of relaxing remaining restrictions, second vaccinations for over 50s have been accelerated, and vaccination appointments have been opened for everyone 34 and older. In hotspot areas, vaccinations are being offered to everyone over 18. It’s a race, and the virus has a couple week lead, and unlike the immunity given by vaccination, the virus grows fast.

While on the topic of health – and bad news – Dawnise learned that a high school friend of hers has been diagnosed with cancer. Like too many Americans, she’s un or under-insured and has setup a go-fund-me to try to cover her potentially infinite care costs. The longer I spend living in countries with actual health care systems the less I can pretend to understand or rationalize this clearly broken state of affairs.

Can Doesn’t Imply Should

The UK is taking another step “toward normal” today. In England, indoor hospitality (read: pubs and restaurants) can resume; hosting parties of six people or two households. Outdoor gatherings up to 30 are okay, museums, theaters, and gyms can reopen. And snogging and shagging strangers is now legal again.

At the same time, there is significant concern about hot spots of “India variant” cases. The Telegraph reports (paywall) “total numbers have more than doubled in each of the past two weeks.” The official message from the government is that the planned reopening on June 21st is under threat, but today’s reopening will proceed as planned.

A recurring refrain in the UK is that Boris’ Tory government has taken many of its critical decisions a bit too late. Locking down. Restricting Travel. The timing of travel restrictions from India are currently top of the news cycle.

On June 1st, today will be “two weeks ago” – and there’s a little insistent voice in my head asking what we’ll wish we’d done, or hadn’t done, today when we look back in two weeks.

The scientific community is concerned – an article in The Guardian (paywall) quoted Professor Sir Mark Walport (you can never have too many honorariums ’round here) – chief scientific adviser until 2017 – who advised people continue remaining outdoors as much as possible, saying “my advice is that just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean you should.”

Wise words in many contexts.

The data emerging from the “India variant” hot spots seems to suggest the risk continues to be higest to the non-vaccinated. Fortunately there’s unlikely to be much overlap between young people not yet eligible for vaccination and those most likely to return to indoor activities.

That Telegraph article I mentioned? It reassures readers that the doubling in each of the last two weeks was “climbing from a very low base, with just 1,313 cases so far detected in total.” I guess the author never had to figure out how much wheat or rice ends up in the proverbial chess board.

People do not understand exponential growth.

Last week I read Michael Lewis‘ (The Big Short, Flash Boys, Moneyball) latest: The Premonition: A Pandemic Story. The inability to collectively grok exponential curves is a depressingly recurring theme. (The book is recommended, but not uplifting.)

On the “home front,” we’re both well. Dawnise is fully vaccinated, I’m between jabs. I’m anxious for my second, but reminding myself that the “first-doses-first” strategy has proven good for the collective, and the inter-vaccination duration seems to significantly improve efficacy, making it good for me individually.


I hate waiting.