Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

To make Comments write directly to Jim at jimt@quixotic.ca


Published on Tuesday, July 20, 2021

If I were a coronavirus…

Sunday July 18, 2021


COVID-19 cases have started surging again, in places like Brazil, India, Indonesia, and the U.S.. Reports blame the rise on anti-vaccine movements, distrust of authorities, misinformation, and government incompetence. 

            If I were a coronavirus, I’d be celebrating all of those.

            As a virus, I have only one goal – to get inside the cells of as many humans as possible, so that I can take over their cell mechanisms to make more copies of me, so that I can get inside more cells of more humans. 

            We viruses run the ultimate assembly line. All we need is victims. 

            There is one big difference, though, between our assembly lines and, say, Henry Ford’s. We don’t want identical copies. Perfect copies enable my hosts – people, like you – to learn how to deal with us. You develop “herd immunities,” although they take time. And lots of deaths, weeding out the crop, as it were. 

            Or you develop vaccines -- which, in my case, you have managed to do very successfully, and in an astonishingly short time.

            But when the assembly line makes mistakes, we can produce variants faster than you can learn how to control them. 

            As a coronavirus, every hour that you stall on banishing me forever gives me precious time to develop variants that you haven’t even imagined of yet.

            In Wuhan, my assembly line produced one kind of virus, now called the Alpha variant. But by the time I had spread to Britain, Brazil,. and India, my variants were running rings around Wuhan.

            India was like a petri dish for incubating variants. One and a half billion people. If you required a two-metre bubble around each one, there wouldn’t be enough India to contain them. India is crowds. Lots of people breathing the same air. A H

            So, not only the Delta variant. But then the Delta-plus variant. 


Infinite possibilities

            And now the Lambda variant, originally from Peru, but now found in 29 other countries.

            As a coronavirus, I wonder why you think we’re limited to the Greek alphabet. Every generation of every virus potentially carries a genetic mutation, which could become a wildly successful new variant.

            The failures die off. That’s the downside of infinite mutations. The upside is that as long as we’re allowed to multiply, we’ll stay ahead of you. 

            You’re so committed to linear progression that you think one variant logically leads to another. 

            Viruses don’t work that way. We’re more like quantum physics. We try every option, all at once. Every new coronavirus particle that deviates in any way from our basic model is a possible variant. 

            Millions of us, billions of us, will die because we’re less infectious than our ancestors. But any virus particle that proves fractionally more infectious moves our overall mission forward. 


Our allies

            That’s why we coronaviruses are delighted by deniers, right-wing governments, and protest movements. Especially anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers.

            The more of them, the more opportunities we have to develop new and more virulent diseases. When I make that claim, I’m not speaking only for COVID-19  coronaviruses .Also for chickenpox, SARS, flu, hepatitis A and B, and measles viruses. 

            Also, I suppose, for the bacteria that cause diphtheria, because they too are spread by aerosols.

            Not only do anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers leave themselves without protection, they get together in groups to protest. We viruses love groups. Especially groups that shout and cheer in unison. 

            U.S. health authorities now state that 99% of new Covid-19 cases occur among unvaccinated people. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

            When we do infect an anti-vaxxer, who refuses to wear a mask, we get turned loose in air that family members and children breathe.  Whoopee! It’s like winning the lottery. 


Our heroes

            All coronaviruses support the Republican party. Especially Trump disciples. They oppose vaccinations, masks, and lockdowns. They believe that the economy matters more than people’s health. 

            They make our job so much easier.

            Infectious disease expert Dr. William Schaffner, of Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, makes our point: “There are two Americas: the better vaccinated states and the less well-vaccinated states.”

            Our survival demands close contact among breathing humans. In shops and cafes. In sports stadiums. Or at the Calgary Stampede.

            Our heroes are Bolsonaro in Brazil. Modi in India. Kenny in Alberta. And for a brief glorious period, Trump in the U.S.  Without them, we’d never have had enough time to develop the Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Delta-plus variants that have relegated good old Wuhan Alpha to medical history. 

            If I were a coronavirus, that’s how I’d see it. 


Copyright © 2021 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups encouraged; links from other blogs welcomed; all other rights reserved.

            To send comments, to subscribe, or to unsubscribe, write jimt@quixotic.ca



Your turn


The responses to last week’s column broke into three groups, loosely: about old growth forests, about the unspoken mottos that mould our actions, and about credit. 


So Dawne Taylor wrote, “Appreciate how you articulated the different viewpoints of the various generations on money, spending and saving. [And on trees]If you are looking for a good read about trees in general , the intergenerational perspective, and our relationship with trees, suggest you read Richard Power’s novel, The Overstory.     Well written, won the Pulitzer Prize.”


Cliff Boldt: “For some time now, I have been railing at my premier and MLA suggesting that the forest industry is the ‘tail wagging the dog’.  Like General Bullmoose in the auto sector in the middle of the last century – ‘What’s good for the forest industry is good for the province.’

            “I don’t even get replies from either of them.

            “The forest industry, like the oil and gas industry won’t stop until the last tree is cut and last barrel is pumped. And those who speak for the trees are condemned as criminals.”


Ruth Buzzard: “There is not much that I believe in but I have two absolute, without exception, beliefs.  I am against the death penalty, and I am against cutting old growth forests.  There are a lot of things in this world that can be fixed by future generations if they see the mistakes of their ancestors, but those two cannot. When you execute a person, no matter how terrible his crimes, you cannot change the verdict if subsequent evidence is found. And logging old growth forests cannot be reversed or the trees replanted by subsequent generations.  These two are absolute, irreversible, final acts.

            “Old growth should never be logged.  NEVER!”


Isabel Gibson had a similar thought. She suggested a fourth motto worth living by: "If you can't fix it, don't break it." 

            She continued, “We're a little quick to take what we can't make; to use up what we can't replace; to break what we can't fix.”


Bob Rollwagen offered other examples: “Forty thousand oil wells have been drilled in Alberta, and when each one becomes unprofitable they have been abandoned, you wonder who is in charge. These dead wells are a blight on the landscape, leak oil into the environment and the public has to pay to clean them up. The Alberta Government has just ignored them for decades. They just take the revenue and provide a GST tax free ride for their citizens. 

            “If you look hard enough, there is probably a similar situation in every province. Ever since Seniors Care Homes have been needed, no one has ever provided the appropriate revenue to do it with care and dignity. I have been in many and witnessed it for decades. The best care is only for the privileged. This is why 70% of all Canadians killed by Covid were in these facilities.”


Ruth Shaver tackled the necessity of credit: “It is well-nigh impossible to operate in the United States without access to credit. I got myself in trouble and out again with credit cards, and then spent almost 13 years living in parsonages with no bills that count toward a credit score in my own name. I almost didn't get an apartment when I moved to take an interim position where the church didn't have a parsonage because I didn't have any open credit to have a score. I'm not sure how long I'll need to stay here making monthly payments before I have a working credit score again, which frosts me no end. 

            “Debt is a way for other people to make money and we should be able to live without going into it if we so choose...especially once we've known and overcome the dangers of too much monetary, petroleum, or arboreal debt!”


Mirza Yawar Baig sent along a story about one of his blood donations (the topic of a column two weeks ago). It’s long, and he writes too well for me simply to cite a few excerpts, but he gave me permission to give you a synopsis. At a tea plantation in India, one of the labour force, a pregnant woman, was likely to die without a transfusion. Baig sponteneously offered his blood. Later, a delegation from the workers came to him, thanked him, and said he was the first member of management who had ever given blood to a member of the working class, a woman, and a Dalit, an “untouchable”, at that.

            Years later, he met the woman whose life he had saved by donating that blood. And with her, the woman’s daughter, now studying to become a doctor, to serve her people. 






If you want to comment on something, write me at jimt@quixotic.ca. Or just hit the ‘Reply’ button.

            To subscribe or unsubscribe, send me an e-mail message at the address above. Or subscribe electronically by sending a blank e-mail (no message) to sharpedges-subscribe@lists.quixotic.ca. Similarly, you can un-subscribe at sharpedges-unsubscribe@lists.quixotic.ca.

            You can now access current columns and seven years of archives at http://quixotic.ca

            I write a second column each Wednesday, called Soft Edges, which deals somewhat more gently with issues of life and faith. To sign up for Soft Edges, write to me directly at the address above, or send a blank e-mail to softedges-subscribe@lists.quixotic.ca

            And for those of you who like poetry, you might check my webpage https://quixotic.ca/My-Poetry. If you’d like to receive notifications about new poems, write me at jimt@quixotic.ca, or subscribe yourself to the list by sending a blank email (no message) to poetry-subscribe@lists.quixotic.ca(If it doesn’t work, please let me know.)






To use the links in this section, you’ll have to insert the necessary symbols. (This is to circumvent filters that think some of these links are spam.)

            Wayne Irwin's “Churchweb Canada,” is an inexpensive service for any congregation wanting to develop a web presence, with free consultation. http://wwwDOTchurchwebcanadaDOTca. He set up my webpage, and he doesn’t charge enough.

            I recommend Isabel Gibson’s thoughtful and well-written blog, wwwDOTtraditionaliconoclastDOTcom. She also runs beautiful pictures. Her Thanksgiving presentation on the old hymn, For the Beauty of the Earth, Is, well, beautiful -- https://www.traditionaliconoclast.com/2019/10/13/for/

            Tom Watson writes a weekly blog called “The View from Grandpa Tom’s Balcony” -- ruminations on various subjects, and feedback from Tom’s readers. Write him at tomwatsoATgmailDOTcom (NB that’s “watso” not “watson”)



            The late Alva Wood’s collection of satiric and sometimes wildly funny columns about a mythical village’s misadventures now have an archive (don’t ask how this happened) on my website: http://quixotic.ca/Alva-Wood-Archive. Feel free to browse all 550 columns


Comments (0)Number of views (27)

Author: Jim Taylor

Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: COVID-19, coronavirus, allies



"gate of the year" #MeToo 150th birthday 1950s 1954 1972 1984 215 3G 9/11 A God That Could Be Real abduction abortion Abrams abuse achievement Adam addiction Addis Ababa adoption Adrian Dix affirmative action aging agnostics Ahriman Ahura Mazda airlines airport killings Alabama albinism albinos Alexa algorithms Allegations allies Almighty Almighty God alone ALS alt-right altruism Amanda Gorman Amanda Todd Amazon American empire Amerika Amherst amnesia analysis Andrea Constant Andrew Copeland Taylor anger animals anniversaries Anthropocene antidote Ants aphrodisiac Apologies apoptosis App Store Archives Ardern Aristotle armistice Armstrong Army and Navy stores Art artifacts artists ashes Asian assisted death astronomy atheists atonement atropine Attawapiscat attitudes attraction audits Aunt Jemima authorities authorities. Bible autism automation autumn B.C. election B.C. Health Ministry B.C. Legislature B-2 baby Bach bad news baggage Bahai Banda banning books Baptism Barabbas barbed wire barbers barriers Bashar al Assad BC BC Conference Beans bears beauty Beaver Beethoven beginnings behaviour bel-2 belief systems beliefs belonging benefits Bernardo Berners-Lee berries Bible biblical sex Biden Bill C-6 billboards billionaire BioScience birds birth birthday birthdays Bitcoin Black history Blackmore blessings blockades blood blood donations blood donors Bloomberg Blue Christmas boar body Bohr bolide Bolivia Bolivian women BOMBHEAD bombing bombings bombs books border patrol borrowing both/and bottom up Bountiful Brahms brain development brains Brazil breath breathe breathing Brexit broken Bruce McLeod bubbles Buber Buddha Buddhism Bulkley bulldozers bullets bullying burials bush pilots butterflies butterfly Calendar California Cambridge Analytica. Facebook cameras campfire Canada Canada Day Canadian Blood services Canal Flats cancer Canute Capitol Capp caregivers Caribbean caring Carnaval. Mardi Gras carousel cars Carter Commission cash cats cave CBC CD Cecil the lion. Zanda CentrePiece CF chance change Charlie Gard Charlottesville Charter of Compassion Checklists checkups chemical weapons Chesapeake Bay Retriever Chesterton Child Advocacy Centre child trafficking children Chile Chile. Allende China chivalry chocolates choice choices choirs Christchurch Christian Christianity Christians Christina Rossetti Christine Blasey Ford Christmas Christmas Eve Christmas gathering Christmas lights Christmas tree Christmas trees Christopher Plummer church churches circle of life Clarissa Pinkola Estés Clichés cliffhanger climate change clocks close votes clouds Coastal GasLink coastal tribes coffee coincidence collaboration collective work colonial mindset colonies Colten Boushie Columbia River Columbia River Treaty comfort communication Communion community compassion complexity composers composting computer processes conception conclusions Confederacy Confederate statues confessions confidence Confirmation confusion Congo Congress Conrad Black consciousness consensual consent conservative Conservative Party conspiracies conspiracy constitution contraception contrasts Conversations conversion therapy copyright coral Cornwallis corona virus coronavirus corporations corruption Corrymeela Cosby Cougars counter-cultural Countercurrents couple courtesy courts Covenant Coventry Cathedral COVID-19 CPP CPR CRA Craig crashes Crawford Bay creation creche credit credit cards creeds cremation crescent Creston crime criminal crossbills cross-country skiing Crows crucifixion Cruelty crypto-currencies Cultural appropriation cuneiform Curie curling cutbacks cyberbullying Cystic Fibrosis Dalai Lama Damocles Dan Rather dancing Danforth dark matter darkness Darren Osburne Darwin data mining daughter David David Suzuki de Bono dead zone deaf deafness death death survival deaths debt decision decisions decorations deficit Definitions Delhi Dementia democracy Democratic denial Denny's departure Depression Derek Chauvin Descartes Desiderata despair determinism Devin Kelley dew dawn grass Diana Butler-Bass dinosaurs discontinuities discussion dissent distancing diversity division divorce dog dogs dominance Don Cherry Donald Trump donkey Donna Sinclair doorways Doug Ford Doug Martindale Dr. Keith Roach Dr. Seuss dreaming dreams Drugs ducks Duvalier dying Dylan Thomas earth Earth Day Easter Eat Pray Love Ebola e-cigarettes eclipse economics Eden editing editing by committee Edwards-Sawatzky ego Egypt eight-track tapes Einstein either/or election Elizabeth Gilbert Ellithorpe email embassy emergent emotions Empire encryption English Entropy environment epiphany epitaph Erika van Oyen erosion Esteban Santiago eternal life eternity ethics Ethiopia Eucharist eulogy eunuchs evacuation evacuation orders Evangelical Fellowship Eve Evelyn Glennie Every Note Played everything evil Evolution Exodus expectations experience experiment exploring explosions extinction extinctions extradition extremes extremism eye for an eye Eyes Facebook fairness faith falling leaves False Creek Farmworkers fascist fate Father Knows Best fatherless Fathers Father's Day Fathers'Day fear Fearless Fosdick feathers Fedex feel feminine hygiene Fentanyl Ferrier Fibonacci Field figure skating Fire fireball
Copyright 2021 by Jim Taylor  |  Powered by: Churchweb Canada