Wrong Quarantine?

In what seems the distant past of late summer 2019, I posted about an interesting science fiction novel by Greg Egan, Quarantine (1992). The post didn’t get many views back then — only 13 that August, and only 27 total by the end of the year. And through 2020, it only racked up another 37 views. (That’s 64 total for those keeping score at home.)

Then, this January, the post got 257 views — 161 in the first three days. After being largely ignored for a year-and-a-half, something made the post go mildly viral. No one commented, so I have no idea how or why the post got so much traffic.

I have a thought it might have to do with the title.

Given the current COVID-19 crisis, I’m wondering if the title, Quarantine, is the attraction. Based only on headlines I saw, there was apparently a big uptick in interest in pandemic-themed movies such as Outbreak (1995).

Unfortunately, if that’s the case, the book isn’t about viral outbreaks at all.

Quoting from my post:

When the story begins, Earth has been cut off from the stars since 2034 by The Bubble, which suddenly appeared out beyond Pluto (at about twice the distance to the ninth planet).

The Bubble, which has all the characteristics of a black hole event horizon, hides the stars and locks humanity inside. No one knows the how, why, or who, of The Bubble.

The quarantine in question is imposed by unknown aliens or forces and has nothing to do with viruses or disease. In fact, the story is an interesting riff on the Many-Worlds Interpretation of quantum physics.

So if it was a search for a pandemic tale, it would have been disappointing to discover this wasn’t that. That might account for that lack of comments or Likes. (Maybe I should be glad that WordPress doesn’t have a Dislike or Thumbs Down button.)


Being a data geek (and a data lover), I couldn’t resist visualizing the data:

At first I thought it would be a classic ring decay, but it’s turned out to have a fairly long tail. (It even got one view today.)

It’s not reflected in the graph, but there was zero activity on any of the days prior to the big bump.

Maybe I’m easily amused, but it’s been interesting watching the spike and fade.


It occurs to me my theory about the attraction being the impression given by the title…

[I have the impeachment trial playing on another screen, and every time Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) gets up to speak, I have to stop and listen. He is so compelling and impressive!]

Where was I… Right.

It occurs to me my theory about the attraction being the impression given by the title might be wrong. A spike like this must be due to someone posting a link, which implies they know what the book is about. Surely no one would post a link based on just a book title?

Although I guess there really is no knowing when it comes to people. They do the strangest things.

So it ends up being a little mystery.

§ §

Speaking of quarantine and pandemics, I pulled an updated (as of today) copy of the COVID dataset I wrote about last week. The data is starting to look a little better.

To begin, here’s a look at the cases reported per day:

As you see, we’re seeing a sharp drop in reported cases, despite our increasing tests, so that seems very good news. (The red curve is the unsmoothed daily data; the blue curve is the smoothed data.)

Even the death rate is starting to trend down:

Except for today — let’s hope that’s not at trend. Wonder if it has to do with New York under-reporting nursing home deaths. Would they have tacked those onto the day for today, maybe?

You might find this chart interesting:

It’s a calculation of deaths/cases, so it’s the death rate per infection rate.

One thing that’s interesting is that, in general, the world is getting better at not letting people die from COVID. (France kinda lost it there in early April.)

It’s also interesting that the USA has done much better throughout than either Great Britain or France, but not as well as Germany.

Fortunately, these days all four are getting a handle on treating the disease. (I haven’t looked at many other countries. Those I did mostly look like France and Great Britain.)

§ §

And on that note, I’m going back to the Impeachment coverage. Today has been pretty interesting, and we haven’t had to listen to too much infuriating lying bullshit from Twitler’s sad excuses for attorneys.

The House Managers are in closing arguments now. I wish Pence would have spoken up, but they did get some good testimony read into the record. Maybe, just maybe, the pressure is getting strong enough on the Republicans that we might secure a conviction.

One can hope. If we don’t, we may as well toss out the whole Impeachment clause of the Constitution, because if these aren’t Impeachable offenses, high crimes and dereliction of duty and oath of office, then nothing ever will be.

It may not be apparent, but this is an inflection point in our republic. Pray that the Republicans have some shred of honor and duty left.

[Update later that day: Nope. Except for seven GOP Senators, the rest are spineless cowards who shirked their oath and duty. Our Republic continues to tremble on the brink of the precipice. Be afraid. Be very afraid.]

Stay quarantined, my friends! Go forth and spread beauty and light.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

6 responses to “Wrong Quarantine?

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Bottom line, if you catch COVID in the USA now, you have only about a 2% chance of dying of it. Down from over 5% at the worst time last year.

    And pity those countries that approached a 15% chance. Very scary!

  • SelfAwarePatterns

    Occasionally someone links to one of my posts on Reddit, or someone with a large following on social media links to it. When it happens, I see a large surge in traffic to that article. But it virtually never results in comments or anything else. (And when it does, then tend to be trollish.) If it happens on Twitter, they’ll often tag me, and sometimes there’s a little discussion there but not on the log itself.

    Part of the issue, I think, is that most of those people don’t have WordPress accounts, so they can’t Like it, and they’re generally not interested enough to comment.

    Looks like the impeachment business is over. They got seven Republican votes, including one of my senators (which is surprising), but still far short of what they needed. That two thirds threshold is a very high one.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Yeah, I figure something like that must have happened. And the more I think about it, the more I think they must be interested in the SF novel rather than any pandemic thing. Maybe it was the title that drew them initially, but then they liked the idea of the novel or something. [shrug]

      I do figure the lack of comments and Likes is due to it not being people with WP accounts. Or at least not having an account that lets them contribute somehow. Totally agree about the lack of interest, and I can certainly do without any trolling.

      Yep, the Impeachment is over with the expected result. They’re calling it the most bipartisan Impeachment (attempt) in history, because of the seven Repub votes. Only ten votes shy of a conviction; it was close, but no cigar. Still, it’s one for the history books. Only President Impeached by the House twice.

      Now it’s up to the Georgia DA, the courts in New York, very possibly an investigation and prosecution by the DOJ, and maybe even some major civil lawsuits by the survivors of January 6 (or on behalf of those who were killed).

      This ain’t over, and if we don’t clean up this mess, it’s just going to happen again, and maybe next time it won’t be someone so incompetent at being a wannabe Dictator as Twitler was.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        I actually allow people to comment without logging in, which is probably why I do get the few trollish comments. I’ve thought about tightening it down to logins only, but for some reason Google login isn’t an option for blogs with custom hostnames, which means people would have to have WordPress, Facebook, or Twitter.

        Hopefully one of the many criminal investigations gets somewhere. It’s where Trump may be really vulnerable. And if all he can get is the same clowns he had here to represent him, they’d be eviscerated in an actual court of law. Even if they can only get him on tax evasion (it’s what brought Al Capone down), that’d be enough.

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Wow. I just watched the Doctor Who holiday special from 2020-2021, Revolution of the Daleks and it’s possible it’s the worst Doctor Who story I can recall seeing.

    Badly conceived, poorly written, boring, predictable, and an aging John Barrowman is not a good look for an immortal.

    I looked forward to a female The Doctor, but I’ve never really thought Whittaker had the right gravitas somehow. She’s okay, but one Tenet and Smith set such a high bar. Regretfully I’d have to rank her as the one I’ve liked least.

    More importantly, Chris Chibnall was a huge mistake in my book. He wrote the script for this one, and… I thought it was pretty awful. Chibnall, perhaps, is too much a fan, too besotted with ‘in the weeds’ ideas or something.

    Certainly way too heavy-handed with the social significance. What we really needed now was a rousing escapist adventure, and instead we got a boring as hell piece of shit. I nearly turned it off halfway through, and that’s never happened to me with Doctor Who before.

    The scenes between the companions and the Doctor were just sad, and I don’t mean that in a good way. I mean they were pathetic.

    Whittaker and the two male companions are leaving the show, the one who really needs to be booted out is Chibnall.

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