Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Plague Update #7 - First They Came For Our Alcohol...

As I become more accustomed to working from home its getting harder to maintain the basic standards of cleanliness and hygiene that I set for myself.  I think the wake up call really came when the mould in my favourite coffee mug moved out of home citing unsanitary living conditions.  Despite this vote of no confidence I have been incrementally cleaning my place up.  The truth of the matter is I rarely see my home in full daylight for any great length of time.  During the week I'm at work and I'm usually out during the day on weekends as well.  Now, having been subjected to a period of domestic incarceration I'm starting to realise that my home could be a bit cleaner.  So in five minute breaks from work I'm wiping down random surfaces and throwing away the occasional dust clogged item that I can't remember buying and have no use for.  This isn't as helpful as you might think because each clean bit is merely throwing the remainder into sharp relief but I like to think I'm achieving something.

While I have been starting my new career as a semi domestic the crisis continues to mount outside the walls of crumbling brick which protect me from the world.  Having seized pretty much every toilet roll in creation panic buyers are now sourcing alcohol before the insane restrictions the WA government have placed on its purchase get replicated across the country.  In what is probably a wise move given the amount of alcohol everybody is now sitting on the government has also moved to restrict access to firearms.  Fortunately I learnt my lesson from the toilet paper debacle and am now sitting on an arsenal that wouldn't shame a small country.  It would definitely be wise to phone ahead before dropping around for a visit.  That way I could persuade you not to come.

But it wasn't all guns and alcohol in the news today.  There is good news on the health services front.  Since all elective surgery has been cancelled private hospitals were planning to close and send all of their staff home.  Now in a staggering outpouring of community feeling these noble benefactors have decided that the government can pay them to make their facilities available to the general public should the pandemic reach trundling carts of bodies through the streets proportions.  Sadly it already has reached those proportions in Spain and Italy (although presumably not in Venice).

Down in Tasmania the premier of that remote and dismal land spent an uncomfortable press conference awkwardly answering questions whose basic thrust was "can we still have sex and if so, with whom?"  "Use your common sense," was his reply despite the fact that the attendees at the press conference were a bunch of heavily armed drunks surrounded by toilet paper.  In more uplifting Tasmania news my correspondent has been pointing out exactly how much of a degenerate, uncultured slob I am by waxing lyrical on her virtual tours of the worlds museums and watching live streaming of galapagos tortoises with her children.  All I've done in my spare time is play video games and stare at the ceiling.  It all went a bit wrong when she mentioned an online exercise routine she had intended to do with her children.  The children took one look and said "nope" leaving my correspondent to do it herself.  In their defence her children did at least watch, and snigger.  My correspondent is now aching in places she had forgotten she had which didn't stop her recommending it to me.  I thanked her politely and reported her to the authorities.

Up in Queensland a brothel has been fined for breaching social distancing rules.  Brothels are of course the hidden victims of this pandemic.  Maintaining a distance of over a metre between yourself and your customer(s) does make all but the most exotic of services pretty difficult to provide.  I anticipate Queensland will have a diuretic led economic recovery.  If you didn't get that joke you are a far more worthy person than I am.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Plague Update #6 - We Are All Sith Lords Now

Greetings disease junkies.  What do Australians have in common with Sith Lords?  Well apparently we both have to adhere to the Rule of Two.  This is the most number of people that can now gather together in a spirit of comradeship.  It's also the minimum number required to have an effective fight.  If your family is larger than two people this is the perfect opportunity to drive that irritating relative out into the cold.  Fortunately I live alone otherwise I'm pretty sure I would have come back from the shops to find my locks had been changed.

On a slight non-sequitur, how stupid are Sith Lords?  There can only be two, a master and an apprentice.  How does an apprentice become a master?  Dead man's boots.  That must be an interesting induction.
"So, you want to become a Sith Lord?  The first thing you've got to do is cast around and find the person you would most like to be murdered by, then teach them everything you know.  That couldn't go badly wrong could it"

On the subject of things that couldn't go badly wrong our government has decided to provide funding for those people who have lost their jobs to keep their jobs.  The money will go to employers who have to pinky swear, hand on heart, that they will pass at least some of it along to the employees they have stood down.  I can't help thinking that some people are going to get very, very rich.

As well as at least notionally supporting those struggling at this time of national emergency the government has taken long overdue steps to curb the freedom of old people.  Henceforth our prime minister has encouraged the elderly not to leave home without a handler.  Hopefully these leash holders will prevent a vast rise in geriatric instigated crime and anti social behaviour which has been the curse of our society for years.  Once the elderly are under effective house arrest they will be utterly dependent on a stream of people knocking on their door to see if they are all right while simultaneously breathing all over them.  We should have our pension bill knocked down to manageable levels by Christmas.

Of course it isn't all good news.  A bunch of doctors flew home from Peru and were placed into quarantine from which over thirty promptly absconded and travelled all over the country.  These are medical professionals, something to remember any time you get a little irritated because the halfwit in the street isn't taking this seriously.  The Western Australian police are taking this seriously.  Not satisfied with reducing the alcohol consumption of the state to one lake per person per day they are deploying drones to irritate people wandering around outdoors.  National emergencies are great for authoritarians because it gives them an excuse to do the sort of things they wanted to do anyway.

A senator from the Greens party (they're all pretty much interchangeable) suggested that the outbreak was an excellent reason to stop horse and dog racing (speaking of excuses to do what you wanted to do anyway).  I must say I agree with her, what with the bats and the seagulls and the quokkas surely we've had our fill of animal cruelty for a while and if you really do want to gamble get your significant other to dress up in a jockey costume while you toss money into a hole in the ground.

I've actually started to notice that something's changed.  Apart from the fact that I'm working from home.  I was out on the street yesterday (going to the shops for essential supplies officer, put down that cattle prod) and I noticed a large number of people walking dogs. Then I realised it was because there was nobody else on the street.  At the light rail station a masked cleaning crew were wiping down and santising every hand rail in the train and the only other passenger was interrogating the cleaners about the possibility of getting a job with their employers.  

Meanwhile scientists race to find a cure, and in some cases just ways to pass the time.  An astrophysicist tried to develop a device to prevent people from touching their faces and accidentally got four neodymium magnets stuck up his nose, as you do.  At least that's what he told the hospital when he turned up there and I'm prepared to bet a nose isn't the weirdest place they've had to remove neodymium magnets from.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Plague Update #5

Well we've gone twenty four hours without threatening to drive another animal species to extinction.  Things must be looking up.  Spending most of my waking moments (and a goodly number of my non waking moments) indoors is starting to have an effect on me.  I find myself spending an increasing amount of time talking to people who aren't there, jumping at shadows that aren't moving and I suspect that toaster is plotting against me.  Honestly if it wasn’t  for the relentless hours of soul crushing work I don't know how I'd get by.  Of course helpful voices have pointed out that I have spent most of my life talking to people who aren't there and jumping at harmless shadows but I'm pretty sure those helpful voices are imaginary.  As for the toaster, that bastard has been gunning for me for years.

In an attempt to silence the voices in my head, or at least give them competition, I contacted my Tasmanian correspondent.  She screamed and threw a potplant at the screen.  Once I convinced her that I was actually still in Sydney she calmed down, for a given definition of "calmed" and a given definition of "down".

"Why are you standing on a bench?" I asked.

"I've been drafted," she replied.  "I'm now one of Tasmania's first responders."

"What are you responding to?"


Apparently when Tasmania started shutting down its borders hordes of wilful grey nomads leapt into caravans and, taking advantage of the fact that the government was watching the airports, shipped themselves across Bass Strait by ferry.  Now, however, the government is wise to them.  Without a military to mobilise they have done the next best thing by forming the local population into crazed lynch mobs and have unleashed them to hunt caravan dwellers down with fire and sword.  At least that's what my correspondent said.  At this point it should be acknowledged that she has been stuck indoors for as long as I have and she has two children and two dogs; one of the dogs is a psychopath and at least one of the children has already demonstrated an unhealthy interest in cannibalism.  So it's entirely possible that my correspondent's mental state is little better than mine.

In an attempt to alleviate everyone's fears about the economy our prime minister came pretty close to destroying it by speaking of businesses in the country going into "hibernation".  He was trying to say his government would help them when they emerge but all anybody really heard was the prime minister saying that pretty much every small to medium business in the country was going to be living in a cave for the next six months.  The stock market reacted appropriately.  For a former marketing manager he is disturbingly bad at it.  No wonder he went into politics.

The government has graciously permitted parents to keep their kids home from daycare without losing their place or government subsidies.  Our government subsidises childcare, this is one of the reasons why the cost is so high.   Allowing parents to keep their kids home is a good idea if only because childcare is basically a disease pit where you send your offspring to build up their immunity.  It's less practical if what they catch is actually fatal.

I'm also starting to suspect that the pigeons have cottoned on to my plans to use them as an emergency food supply.  For the last week not one of them has approached any closer to my home than the edge of balcony.  I'll know the isolation is really getting to me when I start to miss them.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Plague Update #4 - Can We Please Leave the Damned Animals Alone?

Seriously there isn't going to be an animal left on the planet by the time COVID-19 is through.  The Humane Society has issued a public statement begging people to stop hating on bats.  Apparently panic stricken mobs have been storming castles all over the country not to kill the mad scientist in the basement but rather the bats in the eaves.  News that COVID-19 may have started because somebody ate a bat in Wuhan has tainted the entire species in the eyes of the suspicious and stupid ie most people.  Police are being flooded with reports of suspicious behaviour by thoroughly innocent bats.  The Humane Society is wearily pointing out that the species of bat which started this whole mess actually lives in China and is rarely granted a visa to visit Australia.  Any bats currently in the country are almost certainly innocent.  Although that doesn't mean you should eat them.  At least not without washing your hands first.

Moving from bats to hairdressers (as one does) the hairdressing industry is begging the government to shut it down.  So far the government appears to think that the danger of a bad haircut is worse than the danger of COVID-19.  The government announced yesterday that visits to hairdressers were limited to thirty minutes.  It was pointed out that any visit to the hairdresser takes longer than that at which point the government apparently shrugged its shoulders and said stay as long as you like.  This news could change by tomorrow, possibly twice.

Up in Queensland a northern Queensland politician has asked to close the border between northern Queensland and the rest of Queensland.  Unfortunately there isn't any such border so I'm afraid northern Queensland is stuck with the rest of Queensland much like Australia.  In Victoria (its the small, narrow bit underneath New South Wales) the government is charging ahead largely on its own initiative.  They have shut schools (well actually they just brought the Easter holidays forward but the effect is the same) and are muttering darkly about total lockdowns, the thing that New Zealand introduced yesterday.  Meanwhile in Canberra the head beekeeper of the Australian parliament (I'm not even going to try and explain that) has "socially distanced" himself from his bees.  So I guess the bees are screwed as well.

Reservists are being recalled and the Western Australian government has asked for the assistance of the navy in keeping a cruise liner out of harbour.  They probably mean that they want the navy to refuel it offshore or something but one gets the impression they wouldn't be entirely heartbroken if the navy simply put a torpedo into the thing.  Whether the navy will help or not seems unclear at this point as is whether the navy can help.  It would be a little embarrassing if it turns out our navy can't project power as far as a cruise ship just off the coast.  Nevertheless it would appear our military is gearing up. They've only just stood down after the bushfires.  Let's hope we don't have a war because frankly our defenders are going to be exhausted.

Social distancing is starting to take a hold.  I travelled to my office today, ostensibly for some on site technical assistance but actually to water my plant.  Now that most of the passengers are gone the public transport system is working with amazing efficiency.  I'm considering making virus prank calls to keep this level of service up.  Tomorrow is another day and that day will no doubt be another one of mixed messages and confusion.  And possibly a torpedoed cruise liner.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Plague Update #3 - Now We Have to Worry About Quokkas

OK, so where to begin.  Let's start with New Zealand where, according to the grizzled survivalist who stole my correspondents phone from his partially cannibalised body, the government has instituted a total lockdown.  Everybody must stay in their homes unless they have a really, really good reason for going outside.  Hunger is only an excuse once you've run out of relatives, pets and edible flower arrangements.

Meanwhile in my sunkissed (and apparently disease riddled) homeland things are getting more serious but how serious and what exactly you're supposed to be doing about it seems to vary depending on what government representative is currently speaking.  Our prime minister hit the airwaves earlier today in an attempt to remove any clarity that might have been seeping into the national consciousness despite the government's best efforts.  The prime minister said we should all stay at home unless we are an essential worker.  He then defined "essential worker" as "anyone with a job".  I have a job.  If my continued working is essential to this nation then we're in far more trouble than simply COVID-19. 

I think the real problem is that our politicians are working with an internal conflict of interest.  I get the impression that they are trying to be clear and give decisive, honest and helpful information.  However every fibre of their being requires them to obfuscate, deceive and fill their sentences with blather and bullshit.  You can actually see the strain as they attempt to produce sentences that possess meaning and are genuinely helpful.  Sadly as yet they haven't got it quite right and the slightest question makes them revert instinctively back to their usual operating procedure.  This helps to explain why our Services Minister claimed there had been a cyber attack on the government welfare website when it had actually just crashed due to the number of people trying to access it.

While the government stumbles various businesses are stepping up to the plate.  It turns out we do have some sort of a manufacturing sector after all and they're busy making face masks and hand sanitiser and all of the stuff we would usually import from somewhere else.  My favourite example was the boutique distillery which normally produces its own gin but has now converted to making sanitiser.  I can't help thinking all they really had to do was take the juniper out of their original recipe.

My Tasmanian correspondent deigned to contact me this morning.  I really don't think she needed to spray sanitiser onto the screen while we were speaking but I decided not to argue.  Now that it's cut off from the rest of the world Tasmania has had an encouragingly low incidence of COVID-19 cases.

"Do you think the quarantine's working?" I asked.

"No," she replied.  "We just don't have any kits to do the testing."  The entire of Tasmania is either healthy or teetering on the edge of the grave.  Apparently only time will tell.  I wished my correspondent luck but she had already started bathing her computer with acid.

Further north Queensland is busy erecting barricades at the border with NSW (I get the impression they've wanted to do this for years but have only now got a legitimate excuse).  The Queensland premier made stern comments about her determination to protect the health of Queenslanders and simultaneously confirmed that two by-elections scheduled for the weekend would still be going ahead.  When it was pointed out that this would involve large numbers of people gathering in a reasonably confined area she suggested that those who are feeling sick should stay home, probably good advice at any time.  Fortunately for the continuation of democratic government in this country Australians do not have a constitutionally-protected individual right to vote which means that even if only three people and the local cat actually vote the results are still legitimate.

At least in Western Australia the government is taking things seriously.  With most people expected to be in their homes the government has limited alcohol purchases to the equivalent of a hundred standard drinks a day per person (I am not joking).  The government seems to have a pretty realistic idea of what will happen when people are forced to spend more time than usual with what are ostensibly their nearest and dearest.

Still on Western Australia a cruise ship is approaching port and is being prepared for rather like the plague ships of old.  No non residents will be allowed off the ship.  Those who are disembarking will be whisked to a specially built quarantine camp on Rottnest Island where they will be kept until they die or are obviously not going to.  The responsible government minister explicitly compared this high grade response with the shambling disaster in Sydney where it was decided to release plague carriers into society.  It seems pretty impressive but now I'm worried that if COVID-19 can jump species then Rottnest's quokkas will be at risk.  We have to keep at least one alive so Roger Federer can take another selfie with it the next time he's in the vicinity.  If food supplies for the quarantine camp run low the quokkas could be in danger for completely different reasons.

On a personal note my parents have barred me from their house.  This isn't usually too much of an issue but my mother's birthday is coming up and I usually drop by to remind them what I look like.  My father and I spoke last night and he pointed out that my brother is in poor health and both my parents are at the circling the drain section of their lives.  It was suggested it might be risky for all three if I took a two hour public transport journey to visit them.  I told my father that was a risk I was prepared to take.  He told me if I turned up he would set the dogs on me.  I pointed out they didn't have any dogs.  He said he would source some specially for the occasion.  I decided to wish my mother a happy birthday by phone.

I have to go now.  I just have time for a sanitiser and tonic before dinner.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Plague Update #2 - Won't Somebody Please Think of the Seagulls

Well that escalated rapidly.  COVID-19 is officially something to be taken seriously.  Businesses are being shuttered all over the place although "essential services" like bottle shops remain open.  With the exception (so far) of my home state every other political subdivision of my nation has closed its borders; in extreme cases local councils are digging trenches along their boundary lines.  I tried to contact my Tasmanian correspondent for her opinion but she refuses to accept calls from "illegal aliens". 

Showing the level of decision and efficiency that has made Australia what it is today the federal government refused to close schools but also told parents they needn't bother sending their kids to them.  So business as usual really.  Also while we were slamming border gates shut all over the country we were simultaneously herding the disease ridden off cruise ships and forcing them to mingle with the local community with the results you might expect.  I'm pretty sure our government is trying, I'm just not sure what it is trying to do.

Despite the somewhat mixed messages issued by the above I for one knew the situation was serious when our federal Services Minister grudgingly conceded that perhaps not everyone currently applying for government assistance was a worthless, good for nothing parasite.  He didn't do it much more graciously than that but the fact that he forced the words past his lips at all is indicative.  There are also fears about the spread of COVID-19 in prisons although whether that means we should let everybody go or lock them all up indefinitely is currently a matter of debate.

Across the Tasman my New Zealand correspondent informs me that his nation went from "everything's under control" to "pick which one of your children is likely to provide the most in the way of emergency rations" in less than twenty four hours.  The New Zealand navy has deployed its ship.  It is currently being rowed vigorously around the island nation guarding against viral incursions.  Meanwhile the entire population has been told to stay indoors unless they have a really good reason for going outside.  My correspondent told me all this while cringing in a stairwell as the mother of his child stalked him with a kitchen knife and a jar of meat tenderizer.

Back in my homeland there is good news on the employment front.  Apparently our unemployment service is going to have to hire thousands more staff to help them deal with all of the people who have been put out of work.  Once the crisis abates all of these people will be fired and there won't be anyone left to process their unemployment claims.

What really brought home the enormity of the situation to me was the seagulls.  Circular Quay is normally awash with these avian gangsters assaulting, threatening and occasionally simply persuading people to give them food.  With the crowds in the city gradually abating (and the people from the cruise ships getting whisked to hospital) these seagulls are now wandering around in a state of bewilderment.  They're also looking distinctly slimmer.  If COVID-19 goes on for much longer it will achieve something humans have never managed which is to get rid of seagulls.  I for one will miss them.

At some point, and that point is rapidly approaching, I'm going to have to source toilet paper.  Food is less of an issue as I'm getting it home delivered and by home delivered I mean food is being thrown at my door by terror stricken delivery drivers who are uncomfortably aware that their job description involves them coming into contact with the people most likely to be sick.  And me.  This delivery method works fine for pasta but I've learned not to order soup.  In the long term I'm setting traps inside my apartment and confidently expect to have six months supply of pigeon meat before long.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Plague Update

Well I am currently sitting in the wreckage of my holiday attempting to persuade a whole bunch of travel and accommodation companies, teetering on the edge of bankruptcy themselves, to give me some of my money back.  And it is that sentence that tells you how minor an inconvenience COVID-19 has been to me.  I'm not sick (so far) and so far I have been able to source most of the things necessary for my own survival.

When the pandemic struck my personal response was measured, calm and sensible.  Unlike certain others I didn't charge out hysterically and buy a lifetimes supply of toilet paper in an afternoon.  The result of this is that I am currently calmly, sensibly and in a measured fashion cutting up sheets of newspaper into convenient strips while a bunch of hysterical nutjobs are sitting on enough toilet paper to last them for approximately thirty five years.  I have learned my lesson.  Never again will I be seduced by the siren song of common sense.  The next time there is even a hint of illness in the air I will respond with monomaniacal irrationality.  And if you happen to beat me to the last roll of 3-ply on the shelf I WILL FEAST ON YOUR HEART!!!

Which should also help avoid an ugly scene in the meat section. 

With my holiday plans in ruins I sank to a level of desperation so great that I actually decided to go and visit my Tasmanian correspondent instead.  She informed me with ill disguised glee that Tasmania had decided to quarantine itself from mainland Australia and that I wouldn't be let in.  In the interests of strict accuracy that previous sentence should be amended to "had decided to quarantine itself from the mainland even more than usual".  My nation's southern most extremity has locked the door and is huddled under the blankets until the world gets better.  According to my correspondent there has been no discernible difference.

Meanwhile my employers have decided that everybody should work from home for a while.  Exactly how long hasn't been determined but its entirely possible we may never go back.  The offices haven't actually been locked down which is useful as at least one particular staff member has sneaked in, ostensibly to pick up his laptop but actually to water my plant.  Working from home certainly has its advantages.  Firstly there is the matter of clothing.  This is usually required in the office, certainly human resources informed me of this in no uncertain terms when I attempted to test the fact.  Secondly coffee is only a few steps away which means I have essentially spent the last week on a manic caffeine bender.  It remains to be seen how that will work out but its amazing how many hours there are in the day when you don't spend any of them asleep.  So far the hallucinations have been manageable and my tendency to jump ten feet into the air at the slightest sound is not actually a function of the coffee.

Across the Tasman my New Zealand correspondent tells me that COVID-19 hasn't been a major issue so far although precautions are being taken.  I was astonished and I'll bet you are too.  I had completely forgotten I had a New Zealand correspondent.  To be fair communications with our eastern neighbour have been a little problematic ever since Australia's major export to them turned out to be criminals.

People hope we will learn something from this outbreak and this may be a guide to a new and better way of doing things.  Such people are utopian idiots.  The sheer astonishment they have shown at the panic, the hoarding and the deranged toilet paper fixation prove that they're idiots.  There is nothing particularly surprising about any of this.  There have been situations like this in the past and the general public has responded to them in exactly the same way.  If these social commentators are incapable of learning from history it is a little unfair to expect anybody else to.  I have to go now, I need to decide which of my hand towels are the most expendable.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Switzerland (via Finland)

"What do you guys know about Switzerland?"

It was an innocent enough question I thought but when I posed it to my tech support their eyes narrowed and the air suddenly got a lot chillier.  I don't how they manage the climate control in my apartment from Minsk but I could actually see the ice forming on the exposed surfaces.

"What do you know about Switzerland?" they demanded.

"Same as everyone else I guess; chocolate, fondue and army knives."  They nodded approvingly.  Then because I just couldn't help myself, "Also; tax evasion, money laundering and Nazi gold."  The temperature promptly dropped back down to ninth circle of Hell levels.  "I'm planning on taking a holiday there that's all."  I smiled in what I hoped was a reassuring manner.  They backed away slowly and decided to believe me.

"Why are you taking a holiday in Switzerland?"  Their tone wasn't exactly hostile but it did manage to indicate that hostility could be accessed very quickly if needed.

"I've never been," I replied.

"So what?  You've never been to Finland either."

"Oh that reminds me, I'm also going to Finland."

Finland was apparently much safer territory than Switzerland because my tech support relaxed and started providing me with a list of must see tourist attractions and for some reason Helsinki restaurants that could be relied on to prepare rotten herring just so.  Things were going very swimmingly until I had to mention that I might just drop across the Swiss border in Liechtenstein for a few days. 

"We may have to kill you."


"If we told you that we'd definitely have to kill you.  It's probably better if you keep us undecided for as long as possible."

"Guys I'm just going on a holiday.  Catch trains, photograph historical whatnots and picturesque nature thingies, ride the occasional zeppelin that sort of thing."

Eventually I persuaded them of my innocent intentions and the next thing I knew I had a dictionary sized list of "favours" I could do for them while I was on holiday.  One of them included looking after a Swiss banker although I was a little concerned to note that they had put the words "take care of him" in inverted commas.  I probed delicately on that subject.

"Oh that means we want you to kill him."

"Thank god, I thought he was going to expect sexual favours."

Having persuaded my tech support that wet works really weren't within my skill set and promised to say hello to the Prince of Liechtenstein for them I am now ready for my holiday.  I just need to hope that the corona virus currently wandering around northern Italy doesn't decide to pop across the border to sample things Swiss.

Disaster Management In Action

Plague sweeps my fair (if currently slightly charred) land.  The citizenry cringe indoors barricading themselves against outsiders, fearful that the mere presence of a stranger will bring disease and the slight chance of death if you're old, feeble or already unwell.  To be fair the plague is sweeping a good number of other lands as well and the reaction has been the same in most.  This is where the human race steps up and shows its mettle.  As the corona virus (or whatever we're calling it nowadays) takes hold the human reaction has been immediate, decisive and rather stupid.  The stock markets melted down and those barricades we're all building are apparently made largely of toilet paper rolls.

This has got to be the silliest response to a potential public health disaster I can imagine.  If we were in danger from a sudden outbreak of explosive diarrhoea then it would make sense but in the disease riddled post apocalyptic wasteland these people are imagining toilet paper is going to have the same value as petrol in a Mad Max movie.  I can't help thinking we'd respond to a zombie apocalypse by stockpiling air freshener and breath mints.

The truly silly thing about it is that toilet paper is one of the few things we still manufacture in this country so the likelihood of us running out is low.  Things we are likely to run out of include iPhones and pharmaceuticals but strangely we're not stockpiling them.  Meanwhile our government has announced that it is implementing the nation's emergency plan.  What that plan consists of wasn't gone into in any great detail and at the moment it seems to consist largely of telling people its being implemented.  This is probably an attempt to reassure the terrified public assuming any member of the public can take time out from the vicious battle for the last toilet paper roll on the shelf to pay attention. 

The remainder of the government's advice consisted largely of attempting to persuade us to behave like civilised human beings.  You know, wash our hands, sneeze into tissues, don't whip up race riots against the Chinese, that sort of thing.  Once upon a time it was expected that parents would teach their children this stuff as a matter of course but the government is probably justified in assuming that that doesn't happen too much any more.  On that last point our Chief Medical Officer went on television to point out how concerned he was that the corona virus might engender hostility towards the Chinese and that this needed to be countered.  I'm glad he's on top of that.  Hopefully a human rights lawyer somewhere is working on a cure for the disease.

Fortunately private enterprise is stepping up to the plate.  Then it is washing that plate, sanitising it and locking it up in a sterile environment.  My employers have airdropped bulk shipments of facemasks and hand sanitisers onto the affected parts of China.  I'm sure this is sheer altruism and not a desire to get our Chinese employees back into the office as quickly as possible. Qantas nobly flew some Australians out of Wuhan and have been praised to the skies by the prime minister for doing so.  Flying people places is what Qantas does on a daily basis and the publicity generated is probably a good return on investment.

Closer to home the Reserve Bank has cut interest rates which everybody agrees was an appropriate response.  I guess the less you have to pay on your home loan the more money you have to spend on toilet paper.  People are worried about the economic impact but I think it could be our salvation.  Discretionary spending levels have been at worryingly low levels but if we buy enough toilet paper we could pump sufficient money into the economy to get the country humming along.  It could certainly be the salvation of this government as they now have a perfect excuse not to produce the budget surplus they've been bragging about.

Within my little team we're alert but not alarmed.  Very, very alert as it turns out.  I cleared my throat and was immediately deluged with a barrage of toilet rolls that gave me a nasty concussion.  It wasn't even a cough I swear.  I can't even see my colleagues anymore.  Those who aren't hunkered inside remote bunkers working from home have built themselves toilet paper forts that reach to the ceiling.  Building management has installed hand sanitisers in all of the lift lobbies.  This is a great idea as the murderous scrum for the sanitisers has completely taken people's minds off how long it takes for the lifts to arrive.  I staggered into the lift after lunch bruised and bleeding with hand sanitiser dripping from my hair.  Once in the lift I couldn't help myself, I faked a cough and got an uninterrupted trip to my floor as everybody else decided to take the stairs.

One wonders what we would do if we got a pandemic that actually killed a lot of people.