Glasshouse talk

I debate sometimes about telling stories I hear from other people’s lives- people I know now- are those mine to tell ? Is it ok to tell them ? But some of those stories have a life lesson to them and in my opinion need to be shared for their value. Here is one such happening- calling it a tale would make it sound like it was made up but this happened and just yesterday at that.

The Moroccan friend of mine who shared her Thanksgiving meal in November( seems so long back but just five months ago), sent me a message that the first day of their fast ended up not on a good note. A time for celebration culminated in an incident where two people ended up hurt and badly.

Her uncle, who lives in the state capital, had his house burgled last night. He lost all his savings and precious stuff stored in a safe inside the house. The masked burglars entered the house through the basement, made their way up to the first floor bedroom, encountered the Uncle and her cousin, stabbed each of them with knives, in fact, butchered would be the better word and left them bleeding. They were rushed to hospital, the neighborhood had ten police cars there looking into the matter and the men are now making as quick a recovery as they can.

Unemployment and starvation are real- they exist- a few people sitting in closed rooms with the luxury of “working from home” might find the lockdown an easy adjustment( though they have to do childcare themselves or find living with their families in short quarters a tiresome task). In fact, as many leaders including Prez Trump talk and want to open up their states, one can understand where their thinking points come from. Starvation and over crowding and abuse and possibly violence, including gun violence, theft, fights and everything that is not so nice, is more likely to kill more people than the COVID virus itself. The media criticize leaders who talk of opening up shops and businesses as soon as possible, saying it is too early to talk of an opening up and we are only making our way for a second wave of the COVID epidemic.

People who live and work in “glasshouses” can afford to preach, for except for a select few, they might not be affected by the virus or the economic shortfalls of lockdowns. But what price the mental health issues that accrue ? The children who have no go but to play on their tablets, the men and women who itch to be out but cannot ?

I would say the Swedish government despite the risk they took by keeping their economy open through the epidemic, achieved a healthy level of herd immunity- there were casualties of course but time has shown that perhaps this drastic, different method worked better than the method of pushing the high point of the epidemic further and to a later date. Its probably better to face the music now than later, in this case.

R is overrrr…

After struggling an entire term with an R software and codes that would never run, the last class of this very eventful course(not) was over on Wednesday(22nd of April)- rest in peace, course in surveillance- you will not be missed.

The issues I had with this course were:

  1. The course was based on a knowledge of R
  2. Every course assignment was provided with R codes and all we had to do was run it on the software- the issue was almost always the codes would not work- I spent four to five days on a single question some days- a waste of totally good days.
  3. Course instructor and Teaching Fellow ( my opinion) were learning on the course- while the course was going on and were a little better than us students at it.

In keeping with the course and lack of help and coordination between the professor and the teaching fellow, the answers to the Assignment 4 were provided by the professor himself, after the whole class complained about the non-compliant R codes. So he modified the last assignment into an oral presentation of the answers he provided- resulting in every group providing almost the same answers. The course thus ended on a funny note and there will probably be one happy course director- an equitable distribution of grades.

One of the things insisted on by the University is equity and social justice and the last assignment proved to be just that. We live in an equitable time period, an era of the COVID, which is a highly equitable virus- it affects everyone- though the press often seems to portray that it affects the minority populations more than others, as a public health person, I believe that is not entirely true. The virus seems to know no boundaries or favor any ethnicity and thus has succeeded in uniting the whole world into one mass of suffering. And thus ended my tryst with R.