“The Hammer and the Dance”

“Flatten the Curve” is a great slogan and messaging tool, but it is not enough. We need a clear-eyed vision for how we get from now to a better future. 

The “Hammer” is the Protective Measures the world is struggling to put in place and maintain in spite of the naysayers and doubters. It works, but what is the end game? Do the same number of people have to catch this disease and some of proportion of them die, just dragged out over many months instead of one or two hellacious months of sickness and death ‘getting through it’? After all, the area under the curve of that now famous graph (posted below once again) for both With and Without Protective Measures looks much the same. 

Take heart. An end game for this pandemic is taking shape. It’s “The Dance” part of “The Hammer and the Dance.” The exciting thing it that the argument is coming from very bright, extremely dedicated, mostly young people pooling their efforts with the aid of the internet, pooling them in a network that ignores national boundaries. Settle down for a long, sometimes a bit wonky read and click on this link:


Even if this exercise in logic doesn’t catch fire, even if “Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance” doesn’t become the new buzzword, the concepts in this presentation are invaluable. These ideas in it need wide distribution, particularly to those in leadership positions, some of whom are foundering in their own bluster, bravado, and wishful thinking

Read. I hear hearty agreement from many medical friends I’ve already sent this link. If you also find this effort by Tomas Pueyo and his long list international, internet-linked collaborators valuable then click on and sign the petition to the White House contained in the document and then share this link with friends. The entire world is focused on this pandemic. Voices of reason and reasoned hope need to drown out the whiners and wishful thinkers. Everyone is listening. 

Keep to the high ground,

P.S. A few further musings: Nearly everyone has seen the “Flatten the Curve” graph shown below and nearly everyone regardless of political persuasion understands the basic idea: using social distancing and lockdown tactics we decrease the chance of overwhelming the health care system (as happened in Hubei and is now happening in northern Italy and New York City).

But, as one of my astute readers pointed out on his Facebook page, the area under the curve in the graph “With Protective Measures” is roughly the same as that depicted under the curve “Without Protective Measures.” That depiction suggests that, apart from avoiding the death of a few the health care system might otherwise save (were it not overwhelmed), were it not for that, it suggests we’re facing exactly the same numbers of infected and dead, just strung out over a much longer time period. That’s likely very wrong, as “The Hammer and the Dance” points out.

The purpose of all of what we need to do in this crisis is to buy time. We and our leadership need to use that time to support efforts that will give us understanding and tools, understanding and tools which, if properly implemented, will make the area under the curve “With Protective Measures” ever smaller. We can emerge from this challenge with much clearer understanding of how to deal with the next worldwide crisis–and with much better worldwide collaboration–or we can descend into tribalism, nationalism, and racism, as we cast about for someone on whom to pin the blame. I vote for collaboration. Get on board. Cast off those who cling to nationalism, racism, tribalism, and their misbegotten, contemptible characterization of Corvid-19 as “the Chiinese flu.” Those folks are not leaders and cannot be allowed to lead.