The Swedish approach to Corvid-19 revisited

From the NYT: “Normalcy has never been more contentious than in Sweden. Almost alone in the Western world, the Swedes refused to impose a coronavirus lockdown last spring, as the country’s leading health officials argued that limited restrictions were sufficient and would better protect against economic collapse.

“It was an approach that transformed Sweden into an unlikely ideological lightning rod. Many scientists blamed it for a spike in deaths, even as many libertarians critical of lockdowns portrayed Sweden as a model. During a recent Senate hearing in Washington, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the leading U.S. infectious disease specialist, and Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, angrily clashed over Sweden.

“For their part, the Swedes admit to making some mistakes, particularly in nursing homes, where the death toll was staggering. Indeed, comparative analyses show that Sweden’s death rate at the height of the pandemic in the spring far surpassed the rates in neighboring countries and was more protracted. (Others point out that Sweden’s overall death rate is comparable to that of the United States.)

“Now, though, the question is whether the country’s current low caseload, compared with sharp increases elsewhere, shows that it has found a sustainable balance, something that all Western countries are seeking eight months into the pandemic — or whether the recent numbers are just a temporary aberration.”

After having weathered high death rates when it resisted a lockdown in the spring, Sweden now has one of Europe?s lowest rates of daily new cases. Whether that is an aberration remains to be seen.

Poem of the day

Myra
by Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke (1554-1628)

I, with whose colours Myra dress’d her head,
      I, that ware posies of her own hand-making,
I, that mine own name in the chimneys read
      By Myra finely wrought ere I was waking:
Must I look on, in hope time coming may
With change bring back my turn again to play?

I, that on Sunday at the church-stile found
      A garland sweet with true-love-knots in flowers,
Which I to wear about mine arms was bound
      That each of us might know that all was ours:
Must I lead now an idle life in wishes,
And follow Cupid for his loaves and fishes?

I, that did wear the ring her mother left,
      I, for whose love she gloried to be blamed,
I, with whose eyes her eyes committed theft,
      I, who did make her blush when I was named:
Must I lose ring, flowers, blush, theft, and go naked,
Watching with sighs till dead love be awaked?

Was it for this that I might Myra see
      Washing the water with her beauty’s white?
Yet would she never write her love to me.
      Thinks wit of change when thoughts are in delight?
Mad girls may safely love as they may leave;
No man can print a kiss: lines may deceive.

Poem of the day

The Legacy
by John Donne (1572-1631)

When last I died, and, dear, I die
      As often as from thee I go,
      Though it be but an hour ago
—And lovers’ hours be full eternity—
I can remember yet, that I
      Something did say, and something did bestow;
Though I be dead, which sent me, I might be
Mine own executor, and legacy.

I heard me say, “Tell her anon,
      That myself,” that is you, not I,
      “Did kill me,” and when I felt me die,
I bid me send my heart, when I was gone;
But I alas! could there find none;
      When I had ripp’d, and search’d where hearts should lie,
It kill’d me again, that I who still was true
In life, in my last will should cozen you.

Yet I found something like a heart,
      But colours it, and corners had;
      It was not good, it was not bad,
It was entire to none, and few had part;
As good as could be made by art
      It seem’d, and therefore for our loss be sad.
I meant to send that heart instead of mine,
But O! no man could hold it, for ’twas thine.

Poem of the day

Love
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)

All thoughts, all passions, all delights,
Whatever stirs this mortal frame,
All are but ministers of Love,
⁠         And feed his sacred flame.

Oft in my waking dreams do I
Live o’er again that happy hour,
When midway on the mount I lay,
⁠         Beside the ruin’d tower.

The Moonshine, stealing o’er the scene,
Had blended with the lights of eve;
And she was there, my hope, my joy.
⁠         My own dear Genevieve!

She leant against the armed man.
The statue of the armed knight;
She stood and listen’d to my lay,
⁠         Amid the lingering light.

Few sorrows hath she of her own,
My hope! my joy! my Genevieve!
She loves me best, whene’er I sing
⁠         The songs that make her grieve.

I play’d a soft and doleful air,
I sang an old and moving story—
An old rude song, that suited well
⁠         That ruin wild and hoary.

She listen’d with a flitting blush,
With downcast eyes and modest grace;
For well she knew, I could not chuse
⁠         But gaze upon her face.

I told her of the Knight that wore
Upon his shield a burning brand;
And that for ten long years he woo’d
⁠         The Lady of the Land.

I told her how he pined; and ah!
The deep, the low, the pleading tone
With which I sang another’s love,
⁠         Interpreted my own.

She listen’d with a flitting blush,
With downcast eyes, and modest grace;
And she forgave me, that 1 gazed
⁠         Too fondly on her face!

But when I told the cruel scorn
That craz’d that bold and lovely Knight,
And that he cross’d the mountain-woods,
⁠         Nor rested day nor night;

That sometimes from the savage den,
And sometimes from the darksome shade,
And sometimes starting up at once
⁠         In green and sunny glade,

There came and look’d him in the face
An angel beautiful and bright;
And that he knew it was a Fiend,
⁠         This miserable Knight!

And that unknowing what he did,
He leap’d amid a murderous band,
And sav’d from outrage worse than death
⁠         The Lady of the Land!

And how she wept, and claspt his knees;
And how she tended him in vain —
And ever strove to expiate
⁠         The scorn that crazed his brain.

And that she nursed him in a cave;
And how his madness went away,
When on the yellow forest-leaves
⁠         A dying man he lay.

His dying words—but when I reach’d
That tenderest strain of all the ditty,
My faultering voice and pausing harp
⁠         Disturb’d her soul with pity!

All impulses of soul and sense
Had thrill’d my guileless Genevieve;
The music, and the doleful tale,
⁠         The rich and balmy eve;

And hopes, and fears that kindle hope,
An undistinguishable throng,
And gentle wishes long subdued,
⁠         Subdued and cherish’d long!

She wept with pity and delight,
She blush’d with love, and virgin-shame;
And like the murmur of a dream,
⁠         I heard her breathe my name.

Her bosom heav’d—she stept aside,
As conscious of my look she stept—
Then suddenly, with timorous eye
⁠         She fled to me and wept.

She half enclosed me with her arms,
She press’d me with a meek embrace;
And bending back her head, look’d up,
⁠         And gazed upon my face.

’Twas partly Love, and partly Fear,
And partly ’twas a bashful art,
That I might rather feel, than see,
⁠         The swelling of her heart.

I calm’d her fears, and she was calm,
And told her love with virgin-pride.
And so I won my Genevieve,
⁠         My bright and beauteous Bride.

Poem of the day

Une Nuit sur la Plage
by Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1981)

Sur le sombre Océan tombait la nuit tranquille ;
Les étoiles perlaient au ciel silencieux;
Le flot montait sans bruit sur le sable de l’île…
O nuit, quel souffle alors vint me mouiller les yeux?

Le froid saisit mon cœur, quand, muet, immobile,
Étendu sur la grève, et le front vers les cieux,
Je sentis, comme on sent que sur la vague il file,
La Terre fuir, sous moi, navire audacieux!

Du pont de ce vaisseau qui m’emportait, sublime,
Je contemplai, nageant sur l’éternel abîme,
Les flottes des soleils au voyage béni;

Et, d’extase éperdu, sous les voûtes profondes,
J’entendis, ô Seigneur, dans l’éther infini,
La musique du temps et l’hosanna des mondes.

Game of the week

Poem of the day

In morte del suo padre
by Ugo Foscolo (1778-1827)

Era la notte; e sul funereo letto
      Agonizzante il genitor vid’io
      Tergersi gli occhi, e con pietoso aspetto
      Mirarmi e dirmi in suon languido: addio.
Quindi scordato ogni terreno obbietto
      Erger la fronte, ed affissarsi in Dio;
      Mentre disciolta il crin batteasi il petto
      La madre rispondendo al pianto mio.
Ei volte a noi le luci lacrimose,
      Deh basti! disse e a la mal ferma palma
      Appoggiò il capo, tacque, e si nascose.
E tacque ognun: ma alfin spirata l’alma
      Cessò il silenzio e a le strida amorose
      La notturna gemea terribil calma.

Poem of the day

Thorp Green
by Branwell Brontë (1817-1848)

I sit, this evening, far away,
      From all I used to know,
And nought reminds my soul to-day
      Of happy long ago.

Unwelcome cares, unthought-of fears,
      Around my room arise;
I seek for suns of former years
      But clouds o’ercast my skies.

Yes—Memory, wherefore does thy voice
      Bring old times back to view,
As thou wouldst bid me not rejoice
      In thoughts and prospects new?

I’ll thank thee, Memory, in the hour
      When troubled thoughts are mine–
For thou, like suns in April’s shower,
      On shadowy scenes wilt shine.

I’ll thank thee when approaching death
      Would quench life’s feeble ember,
For thou wouldst even renew my breath
      With thy sweet word ‛Remember’!

Expertise? We don’t stinking expertise!

“Since the move, the agency has lost decades of expertise on a wide range of subjects, from climate change to antibiotic resistance, from rural economies to organic farming, leaving numerous projects in limbo and severely bottlenecking new research. Today, conversations between The Counter and more than 20 former and current ERS employees reveal that staff morale has plummeted. Many also assert that the agency is failing to live up to its mission due to severe understaffing and lack of stable leadership.”

That’s OK. All they ever did was kill trees by publishing reports.

A controversial relocation hollowed out USDA?s brain trust for food policy. This could spell dire consequences for food access and security.

Poem of the day

Hermaphroditus
by Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909)

                              I.

Lift up thy lips, turn round, look back for love,
      Blind love that comes by night and casts out rest;
      Of all things tired thy lips look weariest,
Save the long smile that they are wearied of.
Ah sweet, albeit no love be sweet enough,
      Choose of two loves and cleave unto the best;
      Two loves at either blossom of thy breast
Strive until one be under and one above.
Their breath is fire upon the amorous air,
      Fire in thine eyes and where thy lips suspire:
And whosoever hath seen thee, being so fair,
      Two things turn all his life and blood to fire;
A strong desire begot on great despair,
      A great despair cast out by strong desire.

                              II.

Where between sleep and life some brief space is,
      With love like gold bound round about the head,
      Sex to sweet sex with lips and limbs is wed,
Turning the fruitful feud of hers and his
To the waste wedlock of a sterile kiss;
      Yet from them something like as fire is shed
      That shall not be assuaged till death be dead,
Though neither life nor sleep can find out this.
Love made himself of flesh that perisheth
      A pleasure-house for all the loves his kin;
But on the one side sat a man like death,
      And on the other a woman sat like sin.
So with veiled eyes and sobs between his breath
      Love turned himself and would not enter in.

                              III.

Love, is it love or sleep or shadow or light
      That lies between thine eyelids and thine eyes?
      Like a flower laid upon a flower it lies,
Or like the night’s dew laid upon the night.
Love stands upon thy left hand and thy right,
      Yet by no sunset and by no moonrise
      Shall make thee man and ease a woman’s sighs,
Or make thee woman for a man’s delight.
To what strange end hath some strange god made fair
      The double blossom of two fruitless flowers?
Hid love in all the folds of all thy hair,
      Fed thee on summers, watered thee with showers,
Given all the gold that all the seasons wear
      To thee that art a thing of barren hours?

                              IV.

Yea, love, I see; it is not love but fear.
      Nay, sweet, it is not fear but love, I know;
      Or wherefore should thy body’s blossom blow
So sweetly, or thine eyelids leave so clear
Thy gracious eyes that never made a tear—
      Though for their love our tears like blood should flow,
      Though love and life and death should come and go,
So dreadful, so desirable, so dear?
Yea, sweet, I know; I saw in what swift wise
      Beneath the woman’s and the water’s kiss
Thy moist limbs melted into Salmacis,
      And the large light turned tender in thine eyes,
And all thy boy’s breath softened into sighs;
      But Love being blind, how should he know of this?

                        Au Musée du Louvre, Mars 1863.