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.