When ecdemics reveal the good and occulted things in life

The virus, the pandemic, the furloughs, the nouns – it all carries on and keeps the world fretting. Yet being immured from public life offers chances to reveal the good things we have occulted from ourselves.

In Malta, the rate of new coronavirus cases is lower than of those recovering from the virus. That is a swell thing; this kind of news is good and welcoming. Yet now there is the debate over how soon we should put the economy and everyday life back to “normalcy”. There is the idea that restarting businesses and gatherings will only welcome the second wave of infections. If that is the case, then how long should we suppress our day-to-day business and economic ventures?

My breakdown of draconian, the number thirteen word of the week, mentions a brief study that explored this exact question. It suggests that, at some point, we are going to have to buck up and embrace the virus in order to accumulate herd immunity. The research in no way suggests to be brash and neglect sensible lockdown measures, but it is does not advocate for long, draconian measures, either. No matter when we end lockdown measures, the research says, the virus is going to reach a peak level of infection. We have to find the middle ground between the defiant anti-lockdown protesters and the sluggard from Proverbs.

The challenge of find fresh ways to write about mainstay words on the list is, well, a challenge. Pandemic, the number two word this week, has only one other definition (Greek pandēmos Erōs, or vulgar love, which I am not even going to entertain in this post or blog) and the global news about it is repetitive. I punched in pandemic into my second-favourite online dictionary, Visuwords.com, to see what I could find. Visuwords unfurled a variety of similar or relating words to pandemic that I could expound on, and I had much fun in doing just that, although I may have needlessly created a headscratcher for myself.

Not letting the ecdemic occult the good things in life

As it is with most of the Words of the Week rankings, the more interesting words appear in the bottom-half of the list. One word that stands out is occultation. I naively anticipated for this word to refer to things of the occult. However, I was wrong, and I am glad that I was wrong, because then I got to learn something new and something about myself.

Learning about the word occultation coincided with a Zoom Bible study I had with our local church here in Malta: the topic of thankfulness. I was struck with the realization that I had not been thankful in the past year. I had let what other people have and I what I do not have occult the bigger picture: I am blessed with an amazing wife and family, I have a good job, I and those around me are healthy, and I live on a tiny, beautiful island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. I have all that I need.

Unfortunately, the density of housing and the obstruction of construction and cranes occult the natural beauty of the Maltese landscape and coasts. Luckily for Ashleigh and I, just a minute’s walk from our apartment is a spot where we can see Valletta and the Mediterranean Sea out in the distance. We can peer over the top the new apartment buildings being risen – most of which disrupt the ambiance of the island – and see the sea. Additionally, right before us in the foreground from this overlook, we can soak in the quiet life of a Maltese farmer.

A Maltese farmer tills his field while Msida and Valletta lie in the background.

The Words of the Week – April 21-28, 2020

Let us go on and take a look at the Words of the Week for April 21-28, 2020.

1. Furlough

As time marches on, more and more employees are being furloughed. Disney furloughs have reached 100,000.

When I started doing Words of the Week in the summer, I composed the listings as a parody of sports team power ranking – mostly in the vein of NFL.com. Since restarting this list, I have taken more of a reflective approach. The top twenty-five words provide a framework for me to reflect on my past week or wider topics. For a moment, now, I am going to dabble back into the sports-like perspective and take a look at furlough’s bench strength (otherwise known as its synonyms).

Furlough’s British counterpart is redundancy, and it has pink slip and heave-ho to support it, but they are not as sparkling as bum’s rush.

Bum’s rush is a noun meaning “a forcible eviction”. There is also a verb form of the word, one which my cousins and I often used. “Bum-rush” is “to attack or seize (someone) with an overpowering rush.” Whether when playing video games or backyard football, bum-rush was a favourite words of ours.

2. Pandemic

Collectively, as a globe, we are in a pandemic. Individually, as states or countries, we are affected by an ecdemic. Here is how:

A pandemic is an epidemic covering a wide geographical area.

An epidemic is a widespread disease affecting many people in a community or population simultaneously.

An endemic is like an epidemic, but it is contained to a particular locality.

An ecdemic is a disease that originates outside the locality in which it occurs.

Therefore, the coronavirus ecdemic caused by the Wuhan endemic led to a continental epidemic resulting in a near-global pandemic.

3. Quarantine

On average, across the world, we are nearing the end of our 40-day quarantine. That is, or would be, true if we took the old French meaning of quarantaine, “period of forty days.” Glass-half-empty types of people suggest we will head into an octotaine, perhaps even a duodecim-aine.

4. Noun

A noun is a person, place, or thing. (Let us see if that will stave off this word from the list.)

5. Fascism

A few articles on the web have cropped up examining eco-fascism. One article reflects on how the far-right crazies seem to be latching on to the environmentalist movement as a means to propagate their ideology (the Christchurch and El Paso shootings being primary examples).

Furthermore, lunatics akin to mass shooters will embrace eco-fascism and weaponize a warped or otherwise mangled narrative of the coronavirus ecdemic for their heinous purposes.

6. Coronavirus

The ecdemic’s pace of affecting the Maltese island has slowed down noticeably in the last week or so, and restrictions may be eased in the coming days, but all hands are on deck in terms of immuring folks and preaching the gospel of Saint Quarantine.

7. Start

Doing something usually is not hard. Starting something, however, is.

My football career exemplifies this.

Football practices are hard. They are tiring, and often painful. As a player at Idaho State and later as a player-coach in England and Poland, there were days where I simply did not want to collide into other human beings (this has also carried over to my infant rugby career). However, the absolute worst part about football practice was getting ready for football practice. In college, ninety minutes of prep time was needed – the taping, the treatment, getting the gear on, stretching, and then doing some pre-practice drills. It is mentally and even physically exhausting to simply put football gear on.

Yet, once the whistle blew and coaches starting fuming and f-bombing and the great choreograph that is a football practice begins, the next two hours of sweat and blood, running, blocking, and tackling were all over in a flash.

Doing football practice was fun – hard, exhausting; I could lose up to fifteen pounds of water weight during a practice. Doing football practice in Europe is a whole lot of fun (and the post-practice beers with your mates is an experience any football player wanting to genuinely play and travel should have).

I have found many things in life the same way. Starting the dishes or a cleaning of the apartment is hard. Starting a new hobby or sport is hard. Starting a new habit is hard. Starting a workout is hard. Starting the day’s work is hard. Starting a homeless outreach was hard.

The start is hard. The doing is easy. The doing has tough moments, but the doing is rewarding.

I suggest for Nike to alter their slogan to “Just Start It”.

8. Corona

This is the Corona Australis. Pretty, is not it?

9. Adjective

The word red in “the red car” is an adjective.

10. Happy

While digging for other definitions for our number ten word this week, I came across “happy talk.” According to Merriam-Webster, happy talk is “informal talk among the participants in a television news broadcast” and “a broadcast format featuring such talk.”

How refreshing would happy talk be on network television? Happy talk exists in podcast and YouTube form. Joe Rogan’s podcast is perhaps the premier example of this. His guests are free to speak about their interests for one, two, or sometimes even three, commercial-free, unscripted hours. Joe had Bernie Sanders on the show, and Bernie was free to elaborate on his policies for ninety peaceful minutes. After those ninety minutes, I walked away still not favouring Bernie’s policies, but I at least had increased knowledge and understanding of where the now-twice-over defunct presidential candidate was coming from.

Another definition of happy talk is “optimistic talk.” This kind of talk would also be welcomed – on any medium.

11. Asymptomatic

California on 22 April urged for priority coronavirus testing on asymptomatic people living in “high-risk settings.” The Hill states that Coronafornia (tongue-in-cheek moniker and emphasis mine) is the first state to “move beyond the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s… recommendation to prioritize hospitalized patients and symptomatic health care works for testing.”

I did not have anything myself to say about this word, so I thought it best to regurgitate an interesting news article about it.

12. Culture

This word has been features on Words of the Week ever since I started doing this exercise. A long blog or essay diving into culture may be needed later on. (This is my way of putting off writing about culture for this week.)

13. Draconian

An article from the Centre for Economic Policy Research questions the effectiveness of early taken and staunch measures to “flatten the curve.” The dilemma, the writer states, “is that the drastic mitigation measures that aim at reducing the peak of the epidemic also prolong the epidemic, which may cause significant economic damage.”

The author does support mitigation measure for a prolonged period, but they find “drastic measures” economically unsustainable. “It may therefore be desirable to adopt milder, but more sustainable measures…”

In summation, the researcher seems to say that no matter how long or how short we keep things on lockdown, the virus is going to reach its peak – whether that is soon after we open things up, or much later when we feel that the coast is clear.

14. Socialism

I have heard it said (and I might have loosely quoted this in an earlier blog post) that we are the wrong species for socialism. It works for critters who operate as a hive, but we selfish human beings cannot ever justly redistribute goods and wealth equally.

Socialism is for ants – like these jet black monsters I nearly tripped over in Pembroke.

15. Verb

A verb is:

a word that characteristically is the grammatical center of a predicate and expresses an act, occurrence, or mode of being, that in various languages is inflected for agreement with the subject, for tense, for voice, for mood, or for aspect, and that typically has rather full descriptive meaning and characterizing quality but is sometimes nearly devoid of these especially when used as an auxiliary or linking verb.

16. Love

Something that I loved this week was watching The Resistance Banker on Netflix. It is a Dutch film about the Dutch underground devising an underground banking system to help payroll afflicted Jewish families and even financing the Dutch Railway when they went on strike during World War II. It is a solid movie worth your two hours.

17. Somnolent

Somnolent is an adjective meaning to be “inclined to sleep” or “tending to induce drowsiness.” The word has been called to action to describe current city life while most of us are encouraged to be quarantined.

Victor Davis Hanson of the Hoover Institute, in an op-ed, wrote, “The somnolent economy is analogous to a patient who is to be brought back from a forced coma. No one quite knows how, or even if, the economy will fully awaken.” He continued to say that Trump (and really all heads of power) have a lose-lose situation on hand: start the economy back up to save it at the risk of infecting swathes more people, or keep things on lockdown in the interest of human health while forsaking the economy.

This opinion piece together with the study mentioned in the analysis of draconian (13) concurs that we are heading into a difficult decision (and by “we”, I mean the government. But, I guess that can mean me, since, at least in America, the government is, ideally and theoretically, “We the People”; so, yeah, I guess I must include “me” when I say “we”) about when to free ourselves up again.

We cannot stay cooped up for so long. At some point, it seems, we are going to have to embrace the herd immunity principle.

18. Occultation

Occultation is a noun describing the “state of being hidden from view or lost to notice; disappearance from the public eye.”

A California-based company, GeoOptics, Inc., created a new data processing solution called GeoPRO, or the GeoOptics Processor for Radio Occultation. Sounds cool.

 You can read the nerdy-nitty-gritty details here, but the new system designed to improve the accuracy of weather data from GeoOptics’ own “radio occultation satellite constellation.” Sounds useful.

19. Racism

Racism – our old fiend to the list.

The uptick of racist acts towards Asian American since the coronavirus began is shameful. Vox dives into America’s “deep-seated anti-Asian biases”. The effects of these biases was never a foreign concept to me. Not far from where I grew up is a historical site and park commemorating the Japanese-American internment camp in Minidoka, Idaho during World War II.

20. Staff of Life

Merriam-Webster says this means “a staple of diet; especially: bread.” The word has cropped up around the Internet since, apparently, bread-making has become a go-to quarantine activity for many families.

Bread was definitely a staple of my family’s diet growing up, especially in the broodje form, but also in the traditional toast form. My father raised me to appreciate burnt toast; both of my grandmothers blessed us with hagelslag to put on toast (“chocolate ants” we called them as kids).

The chleb of Poland, the ħobż (especially ftira)of Malta, and the baguettes of France were the staffs of my wife and I’s lives in these countries.

Slices Of Brown Bread With Typical Dutch Food Hagelslag Chocolate ...
Hagelslag – it’s better than Nutella.

I would be tickled to find an English translation of the Gospels to quote Jesus as saying “I am the staff of life.”

21. Novel

The novelty of working from home and having church from home is wearing off, but they are indeed beginning to feel like normal things in life. Nothing can replace congregating in the same building on Sundays for church, but there it is refreshing and exciting to see the kind of online content different churches are putting forth.

22. Transitive

A role-player for the number 15 word in this week’s list, transitive is of a grammatical construction as it carries over an action from an agent or subject to an object. You can distinguish a transitive verb from a non-transitive verb if the verb only makes sense if it exerts an action on an object.

Transitive and non-transitive verbs were not exclusively taught when I was a lad – like most grammatical elements in English. We just simple know!

[Hmm. Somethings feels missing in that last sentence…]

23. Xenophobia

The fear or hatred of strangers or foreigners is slightly different from racism, but this word still carries a nasty zing to it (stemming in small part to its beginning “z” sound).

The coronavirus has made xenophobes out of all of us, especially during the initial outbreak. We became fearful of people who travelled from faraway lands suffering through an endemic.

24. Combust

With so many people on lockdown with their families, it is all but certain that emotions and temperaments are very combustible these days. According to this article, money and family issues are the top two reasons for arguments.

What is number three? Deciding what to watch on television.

25. Virus

Virus, the reason why we are all in this mess, takes the caboose at number 25 this week.

Germany is to start testing vaccines against the coronavirus this week. Vaccine or no vaccine, here is to believing that this will all end sooner rather than later.

4 thoughts on “When ecdemics reveal the good and occulted things in life

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