New York is discussing making it illegal to drink or eat in public without proof of vaccination. It seems like mandatory vaccination and passports are needed. Someone’s personal decision to not be vaccinated affects other people, and they might see insurance rates rise or certain public activities removed because their choice affects everyone. This is, of course, controversial, but when health becomes political, everything is controversial.
It’s not just about protecting yourself. This is about protecting everyone around us. A comedian and MC friend tell me that a Shambhala festival party happened in their Salmo area in Canada, inviting a mix of cool cats and the Qanon kooks, anti-vaxxers, and conspiracy folks that have taken over spiritual groups this year. A huge spike in cases 10 days later can’t be a coincidence. Photos of 120,000 maskless folks at Lollapalooza in Chicago are a severe cause for concern too. They came from all over, and all over they will return, Delta Plus with them. What is going on with people?
I’ve seen Delta Variant go from 20% prevalence in the UK to 99% in a month. Now it’s taking over America and Canada as well. They say it’s 60% more transmissible than the Alpha (Kent) strain. Now that we have the Lambda variant wrecking havoc across South America and Delta has entered their region, we will get to see Delta and Lambda fight it out; which super strain will be most dominant? It’s like watching Mothra fight Godzilla and King Kong for a Kaiju super showdown. In the end, the virus strains will win, not the people. “What doesn’t kill you mutates and tries again.” So mask up, stay home, get vaccinated.
The Olympics are a thing. Two local CQers won gold in Tokyo! China and Canada seem to be doing quite well.
On July 6, 2021, Mary Simon, a former broadcaster, and diplomat from Kangiqsualujuaq, Nunavik, was appointed the new Governor-General in Canada. She’s represented the Inuit people to the Canadian government and the US and worked on the Inuit people’s inclusion in the constitution in 1982. This is the first indigenous appointment to this top job, at a time where the government is being pressured to examine all 139 “Indian residential schools” after more than 5296 children’s bodies were discovered in the first handful that was examined by radar/radiograph. There are 130 or so left to check, and it is thought that thousands of more bodies will be discovered. The last residential school in Canada closed in 1996, after a century of the government and church attempting to eliminate native cultures and peoples from Canada in a disgraceful and violent genocide of cultural assimilation. Mary Simon is one step in the right direction towards reconciliation and healing, but there are many more to go.
I have been putting off my diary for most of the summer so far because I’ve been enjoying my life, my writing (Amos, a joy to write fiction and a break from reporting disease and deaths and gloom and despair, as I’ve done for 16 months now). But the pandemic rages on, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t make at least a menial effort monthly to keep a record of our life. I don’t spend much time on social media anymore these days. The same memes telling people to wear a mask are being circulated 16 months later, people still trying valiantly to make the right analogy to appeal to those who are not working as a team, but instead, presented with the same data as everyone else, more concerned about rights and freedoms and the perception of conspiracy and infringement than the actual emergency and pandemic in front of their noses. The emergency that brought China together has, as my Canadian friend Rhett told me, made many westerners paranoid and out for themselves only — the opposite of what we need to navigate this emergency and the ones to come, like climate catastrophe and the green new deal we need collectively to manifest. I can’t stand it anymore. The good news is, I am happy living my life, less digitally, more old school, with my family and friends, happy, healthy, grateful, and lucky.
July 15 was ‘Freedom Day’ in the UK. While experts protested and I cringed at the universally short-sighted lifting of mask and quarantine restrictions in many countries, even as the Delta plus variant wave is rising around the world, somehow, inexplicably, the UK case numbers are going down.
My birthday is coming up – August 9th. It’s the Year of the Metal Ox, so maybe hard work is what’s called for instead of Tibet, Xinjiang, Sanya, or a dream trip somewhere in the world. So, as the metal ox suggests, I will work hard to do what I must with my writing and advocacy and hope it fulfills me. I have a sunburn, and it reminds me of my time in Mexico. It’s nice, the little things. The Canadian border will open to vaccinated Americans, and we hope the tourist dollars will not also be paid in blood. I will be 42, the number that the author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy referred to as the meaning of everything. Taking that to heart, I am trying to decide everything I can about my life, my purpose, and accomplish my goals as much as I can before I turn 43. This will be a very decisive year for me, so I continue to work hard every day. August 9th will also be the release of the new IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, rumored to draw the broad conclusions that the extreme weather emergencies at catastrophes have now gone beyond and reasonable anomaly and are the cause of human-caused global warming and climate change. This is not a surprise to most people but will hopefully quiet the critics who oppose any efforts made to save ourselves and our planet on principle.
Last month, the small Canadian town of Lytton, BC, broke the record for hottest Canadian temperatures, between 46-49C for 3 days straight, killing 200 senior citizens before it caught fire and burned to the ground. This is a sign of things to come, should we not manifest a Solar Punk alternative to mass extinction.
I’ve been invited to travel to Shanghai at the beginning of September to be a keynote speaker for the World Forum on China Studies, to speak on behalf of and directly to the youth of China. I am hopeful the epidemic situation will be safe to travel by then, and my publishers have told me they can also schedule some book release events over the same time to make it a rare and useful visit for me outside Chongqing and in China’s most international city. I’ve decided to write a blunt yet hopeful speech that will hopefully stoke the fires of the (well deserved) nationalistic pride Chinese felt at their gold standard COVID response and extend that spirit of cooperation to the existential climate emergency. I was required to piece together a 200 word abstract for their event program. Here it is:
Solar Punk is the vision of lush green cities with rooftop gardens fuelled by clean energy, a harmony of technology and nature, and the only solution to the existential climate disaster facing us.
The COVID-19 pandemic left the world grappling to make hard choices today for an easier tomorrow. In stark contrast, China showed a single prolonged lockdown could avoid years of lightswitch opening and closing, recover the economy, and protect a generation of children from long-Covid.
The west’s struggle to make hard choices today for a better tomorrow was a dark mirror of our global failure to address climate change, while China’s collectivist society was a lighthouse to the world. China is uniquely positioned to become the SolarPunk leader of climate action on the global stage.
President Xi Jinping said, “lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets,” and in Guangxi, we are building the world’s first carbon-neutral forest city. Our forest coverage has grown from 12 percent to 23 percent since 1980, planting forests the size of Germany in the last five years and contributing 1/4 of the world’s recent re-greening.
China is the world’s largest solar power producer and must continue to speed up the timeline to preserve the planet. Solarpunk China is the world’s best hope, and for our youth, our greatest opportunity.
My book is coming along well. I’ve posted the first part, ten chapters, to alpha readers for comments and am working on the big middle section. I have about 35,000 words out of a planned 80,000 written, and I hope to get it to beta readers in the fall. It’s a tough schedule, but I like the pressure to keep me working hard.
We had family over for lunch and went to Chris and Jacob’s for dinner. She loved her oil portrait from a renowned Beijing painter of the iconic snow day picture she loves, and she got me a necklace as my early birthday present.
I bought a PS5. Xiaolin was not impressed, an understatement. “Another game machine” was all she thought. Sometimes that culture clash is real, but I do my best to be patient because the benefits of my life here far outweigh the difficult moments of misunderstanding.
Some of my friends are shifting to online classes, and the news says medium-and-high risk cities (those with active cases, I presume) will push back fall school … perhaps a month. I don’t know if that will affect me or not. My friend’s gym (he owns) is closing down temporarily, and I believe mine, and most of them, are also closing for safety. It’s better than because we have a full-blown outbreak, but it’s a bit of a bummer not to have access to the pool and gym, but hey, it could be a lot worse.
Xiaolin got 3rd shot. We’re fully vaccinated now, and we’re working on vaccination passports. One day, we will travel again.
Kai shares his diary exclusively with iChongqing. Kai has been writing about the pandemic since his lockdown began on January 23, 2020. You can follow his fight against COVID-19 on his blog, www. the invisible war. co, or find his first collection, Kai’s Diary (The Invisible War), the story of Chongqing’s battle against the COVID epidemic in book stores and on Amazon.
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