November 21 – My Classroom (In the Year of the Rat)

When Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old woman, fell to her death from her balcony while six police officers entered her apartment during a domestic disturbance call, no one asked her opinion on gravity. Questions swirled around how the Toronto, Canada woman fell, or was pushed, off her balcony and why police don’t have more training in social work and de-escalating situations, but the issue of a 6th-floor tumble being fatal was accepted as undebatable. We can discuss defunding the police and reallocating resources to the communities, Black Lives Matter as a movement, and systemic social change, but there’s little point in discussing how we feel about gravitational pull towards the center of the Earth or what would happen if we lost gravity—- likely — we and everything we cared about would float off our planet, into the limitless, mostly empty, cold black abyss of the universe. I honestly don’t understand how people feel they have the right to have opinions on facts, science, and math. For the record: masks work, vaccines work, medicine works, and 5G is just a faster phone signal that opens up a world of life-saving remote medicine and driverless cars. I remember when people who didn’t understand science couldn’t call their opinion “alternative facts,” they just failed science class and had to do it all over again. Like it or not, the world is round and gravity is real.
I wish some of those anti-maskers, new world order conspiracists, and anti-lockdown anti-vaxxers anti-science folk would drift away, though, or fall off “the side of the earth,” to be honest, but that doesn’t make gravity any less real or our planet any less round. As part of my theme for the week of saving myself from the endless void of social media, though, I am done being toyed with. Done.

First, it was my old frenemy, Ian, once a close mate who became a super hater when I began writing my diary in earnest a year ago. He took issue with many details that essentially boiled down to his sincere belief that I’m just not smart enough to write nonfiction with a science bent. He’s entitled to his opinion, as bullish as it is, but once he contacted my literary agent, my publisher, and various media outlets to try to get my deal canceled, I realized this was a toxic friendship and cut him off. Recently, he came back to apologize to me, not to say he was wrong, but that friendship was more important than ego. While I did appreciate the sentiment and told him so, I wasn’t willing to let him back into my life. “Fool me once, shame on him, fool me twice, shame on me,” and so forth.
Then, I had enough with the infamously buffoonish Canadian anti masker Chris “Sky,” but I’ve taken to calling him Chris Dirt since he’s been grounded. He flew to Europe, broke a quarantine order when he returned to Canada by speaking at a Toronto anti lockdown protest, and then broke it again when he flew to the east coast to speak at a Moncton anti masker rally. He was arrested on the plane for refusing to wear a mask and then flown back to Toronto with more charges. He kept trying to tell me that Canada should not use masks or lockdown mandates because China no longer uses them. I explained to him that we did use them so well that we no longer needed them and have since relaxed our domestic bubble except when there’s reason to raise our local vigilance level. We still use masks in subways, busses, and on planes, as well as some malls and the Apple Store, but since my city of Chongqing hasn’t had a local community spread cases in more than 200 days, it’s pretty relaxed when you walk down the street or eat at a restaurant. He couldn’t understand the “nuance,” and I use the term loosely, that someone who’s earned something through hard work should have a privilege that someone that hasn’t done has— perhaps growing up as an “honorary VP” in his father’s construction company gave him strange ideas about his privilege. I explained that, unlike the actual medical doctor in the thread, he was insulting, he didn’t go to medical school, and only the doctor was allowed to practice medicine. But none of that penetrated his obtuse psyche, and when he tried to gaslight me into pansplaining my actual Chinese lockdown experience, I told him enough was enough—blocked too.
Next, a publisher friend tagged me in a post that read, “someone, please explain to me why Wuhan hasn’t had a second lockdown” and said, “my friend Jorah Kai can speak on this.” The original poster replied, “please ask him, I’m curious.” This is what I wrote, thinking that this was an excellent opportunity to explain the different pandemic approaches and what Canada and most of the rest are doing wrong, hoping that if enough people realize the error of operating in shortsighted ways, they might demand a better, longer-term solution.

On a related note, Dogs poop in alignment with the Earth’s magnetic field, a study finds. I knew it all along. If you’re ever watched a dog pace back and forth in stern consternation looking for *the exact spot* they need to lock onto before relieving themselves, you know it’s either magnets or a mineral-related fertilizer equation they’re processing in real-time. What’s the meaning? Good question, but I’m so happy science is on it and I can’t wait to find out. The world is magical, wonderful, and full of awe-inspiring beauty in its simplicity. I’ll fight for it until my dying breath. Also, I love dogs more than I like most people.

(Canadian Prime Minister) Trudeau was back on TV last night, begging Canadians to stay inside as provinces reach record second wave daily cases and enter various stages of home lockdowns once again. As he says, “don’t go outside. Got a birthday party to go to? Just cancel. Just stay home.” I wonder when that stopped — as far as my dad’s been concerned it’s been a pandemic for nine months and he’s been isolated and working from home. If everyone in Canada had his civic duty and responsibility, the virus would have been dead in its tracks. I suppose with the ebb and flow of infections, people feel free to do risky things which then creates more infections. We call it ‘Dancing with the Virus.’

In breaking news, Shaolin casually mentions to me the hot gossip from our students last night. Shanghai has an outbreak that is troubling and some schools may close down. It’s not a citywide lockdown – yet, but the situation is fast-moving. The students hope the schools don’t close here again, but I’m going to increase my vigilance and precautions. I hope we can quickly get control of it and stamp it out. We have, so far, and I am sure we can again.

“Why isn’t there a severe second wave in Wuhan” is a good question. The answer is because the first wave took us by surprise, and it was a serious outbreak before we knew what was happening. Because 30-50% of cases are asymptomatic, you can’t just stay away from sick people like Sars1, and you have to take precautions. Everyone wears masks and limit social encounters, close schools, and businesses until it’s safe.
Then, once it’s safe, you limit who comes into your city, testing and quarantining them for 14 days until they test negative. Finally, when all cities have done this, your bubble is the whole country, and you can test people that arrive into your country and quarantine them for 14 days until it’s safe for them to enter.
The simple answer to why China is 99.9% COVID free is that we did an eight-week hard lockdown of everyone in their homes to figure out who’s sick and trace their contacts (which we did well with technology, AI, etc.). We tested and quarantined many people and found and treated all people with the infection. If you were an asymptomatic carrier, you were still quarantined until you tested negative. the world called this “harsh” and “draconian.”
My city of 34 million people has not had the COVID community spread in more than 200 days. We have had about a dozen cases where someone entered with the virus, we caught it in the quarantine, and they were isolated until they tested negative. Each of them was an averted outbreak. When a city finds 4-10 or whatever, a small number of cases (Qingdao, Kashgar, for example) lock down the whole city for a week, test millions of people, and repeat the process. This is how you treat a pandemic.If people went into the streets during a pandemic without masks to protest, we would arrest them and charge them with spreading a deadly plague, and that would be another way to keep it from spreading.We got the job done. As a result, our schools are open (safely), our businesses are back, we get our hair cut, go to bars, go for dinner. All safely. We have 0 cases in almost every city. If we find cases, we lock down and treat them and then open them again. Our 8-week lockdown allowed us to recover, and China is one of the only countries whose GDP will still grow in 2020.
As I like to say in my book, and have been known to say online, “the West couldn’t afford an eight-week lockdown, so they bought a two year one.”

The thing that alarms me the most is we could very well see Wuhan, NYC, or Lombardy Italy style outbreaks in major cities all over the West this winter. Each of those required a national effort to defeat medical teams and resources from all over the country. In fact, 20% of American hospitals are full, with thanksgiving and Xmas around the corner. Doctors are crying on TV. Nobody cares. It’s going to get ugly. When they start popping up in every city, you lose the ability to fight it like that, and then you lose the war altogether. This was why we worked so hard in China to fight the virus because we knew what could happen if we did not.

To my disappointment, the poster replied that while all this information sounded well and good, this was a rhetorical question to her, and she wasn’t really looking for the answer. Also, since at one point the WHO and Fauci had said there wasn’t asymptomatic spread, they weren’t allowed to change their opinion in light of finally getting around to the piles of evidence we had in China almost from Day 1, and so she didn’t accept that asymptomatic spread was real. As such, based on many faulty, paranoid, and “new world order, the mask spreads 5G, and the government doesn’t want us to have pizza parties with our friends” sort of thinking, she concluded this was just the flu, and the pandemic was a lie. I made an honest effort to unpack it, with a few articles that were science-based but quickly saw she was not open to reading articles or updating her opinion based on facts. I apologized and said I couldn’t spend any more time on the issue, left my blog links, CTV News link to my original lockdown diary, and a link to my COVID-19 Chinese lockdown book on Amazon.

I’ve realized that there are two kinds of people. As binary and rigid as this sounds, I believe, in this case, it is justified. Those who hold opinions believe to be true based on empirical evidence and science that will consider contrary or evolving points of view and adapt to facts and information to try to hold a current and accurate idea with the truth in mind. These people are generally good critical thinkers, and while they might hold a preference, they believe getting to the truth is more important than incorrect notions. For example, I might wish the environment was AOK, but it’s more important for me to accept that industrialization and burning carbon has drastically damaged Earth’s life support system, and as inconvenient a truth as that might be, only by starting at acknowledging it can we progress to adapting, changing our behavior, using technology and community to address the problem and fix our planet. I believe these people are well suited for the problems of today and tomorrow, educated, intelligent, and reasonable. These people I would consider good friends and an asset to our species.

There’s another kind of people, often due to fear, ignorance, cognitive bias, odd and paranoid conspiracy theories, prejudice, and other negative personality traits that tend to actively reject reasonable assumptions, emerging evidence, and critical thinking instead of creating dangerous and divisive fantasies that often put the first group of critical thinkers on the wrong side of the issue in their minds, painting the scientists as villains instead of plucky heroes. They are excellent water muddiers but not good at much else.

I’m not saying conservatives are stupid people but I’m not sure they know what the word means. They generally have the worst environmental records so they certainly aren’t conserving the environment, which is arguably much more important than money (actual food air, and water trump abstract numbers) to everyone except them. Perhaps they’re conserving money, except when it goes to military-industrial spending or tax cuts for billionaires. I’m not calling them all monsters but wanting a few dollars saved at the cost of people’s lives shows a lack of empathy, and when the poor rise up and start leaving guillotines in front of Jeff Bezo’s house, it might be worth paying a little more in taxes so society can function better and appreciate your contributions making it a safer place for everyone. Ok, I take it all back: for some reason that I can’t fathom, conservatives are generally anti-environment, anti-science, anti-social services, anti-working class, and terrible at managing the pandemic. Looking at Alberta, the only Canadian province that doesn’t have a mandatory mask law in place and the recent surge of cases that, per capita, is 4 times as big as the current numbers in our biggest city, Toronto, their doctors estimate by the end of December their hospitals and healthcare workers will be completely overrun and verging on collapse. I don’t think conservatism will save us, but perhaps working together will.

I was talking to my mom recently about how much of a counterpoint they might have regarding vaccines for COVID, many experts predicting a pandemic, and spending years warning leaders to prepare better than they did. I tried to put it as clearly as I could. “Say you were driving, mom,” I said, “and I’m in the backseat watching the road, and you’re fixing a song on the radio. I scream, ‘Lookout! There is a bump and a turn and a ditch ahead!’ And you don’t react fast enough, drive off the road, and we lurch into the ditch with a messy crunch. Was I part of an elaborate conspiracy with ditch diggers and new world order folks to derail you and damage your car? I mean, I did predict it didn’t I and isn’t that convenient?” We both laughed. It sounded ridiculous. Of course not. It wasn’t a global cabal of me and hole diggers. I just saw something that she didn’t, warned her, and when she didn’t respond in time, our trip and our car got trashed. This is a pretty exact and apt metaphor for the experts and the government. They told leaders to get ready, to prepare, and to get more PPE and supplies ready, yet, when the pandemic came, most countries were not ready and not even agile enough to quickly prepare, some going so far as to muzzle scientists and throw away their playbook, giving the virus free rein to infect millions of people and cause mass death and destruction.

So that’s what we’re dealing with, and that’s why it’s hard to explain things on the internet. We all have dug in opinions; the problem is you can only really negotiate with those that are willing to look at facts honestly and evolve based on what they read. When you find out someone doesn’t do that, you might as well throw in the towel. You’re just wasting your most precious resource: your time.

I got a bit cranky on Friday morning. I have to work hard to be patient, because I work a lot, six days a week, and when I feel people aren’t respecting my time, I find it difficult to humor them the way they often expect to be humored. I probably come across as a bit brash, or abrupt, but I sincerely believe if they took a minute to appreciate where I’m coming from, they’d understand. I love to teach great students, intelligent and passionate students, more than lazy and slower ones. That’s probably universal, but I don’t mind slowing down as long as a student is earnest and honestly trying their best to learn and improve. When I get lazy students, slow students, and students that are used to just being ignored and left to coast and they are obstacles in my classroom as I try to vibrate the group to new epiphanies and learning models and mythologies — I really show them in no uncertain terms they have to shape up or ship out. I hope it’s sustainable, but I follow my heart, and wherever it takes me.

I want to tell you a little bit about what I do and my (home) classroom. I taught for eight hours again Saturday, and when a few kids started coughing and sneezing, it raised my hackles; of course, it’s uncomfortable. But I’m hardly unprepared. First of all, I am running two HEPA filters on full to clean the particles in the air and remove expelled virus and bacteria from their hovering respiratory droplets, trapping it in the filter and expelling clean air. I also have a reverse ionizing and HEPA filter mini purifier and a reverse ionizer necklace. I’ve also got the screen door wide open with a fresh breeze freshening up the room.
Ventilation is great, really important for health, and I’ve got probably the safest classroom in the world in this respect. I’ve also got my flu shot, which is more than 60% effective this year. It’s a good one. No, I didn’t have any side effects other than a sore shoulder for about a day. I go to the gym at least four times a week, about 12-15 hours of training, and Shaolin and I just started with new trainers. On Friday, they worked us over for a couple of hours, and I was drenched in sweat by the end of it. A day or two later, I could barely walk, my legs so stiff and sore I felt like a baby deer, but I know if I keep it up with them, I will get very toned. While they, striving for perfection, informed me I have a fair bit of fat I could stand to lose, I was pleased to see that my body fat index was well below the “obesity comorbidity level for COVID,” which was a primary goal of my staying alive long enough to write a stack of great books before I kick the bucket. What else do I do? Oh yes, when the kids start coughing and sneezing, they put on a mask to protect the others. If they have a bad cold or fever, they don’t come to class. That’s it, that’s pretty good, I think. It’s strict but fair and appropriate. I think if other classrooms around the world made similar efforts with their kids, we would see far fewer infections this winter, but I think ventilation is probably the biggest factor that is overlooked despite the near-constant warning of experts.

What else? Oh, the vaccine. We have three on the horizon now, and they look very good and promising, but we don’t know how long they will last for, and really it’s too early to just go wild and hope they save us. For months we’ve known Vitamin D3 and ivermectin was a great combo to avoid serious COVID, and most people ignore that, so I don’t see why the vaccine is our great hope. Do you want a great hope? Stay home, wear a mask, take Vitamin D3 and if you get sick, take ivermectin. That’s what the science says. That’s what I would do. We have 20% of American hospitals and nearly all of the Western Canadian ones full, and new cases are still popping off. We saw 200,000 COVID cases in a single day in America, hit 250,000 deaths, and Canada’s grim new predictions could see 60,000 new cases a day by December if we don’t buckle down and smarten up. We have American Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner, and schools are still open, despite being proven superspreader locations. People just don’t have the resources to be safe, so we’re stuck mopping up the carnage that we neatly avoided in some countries by doing the hard thing first. Thank you so much, Chongqing, I think, for keeping me safe this year.

A marathon runner on my Twitter dropped dead this week, of COVID. It’s frightening how you can feel fine but be turning blue and suffering big time hypoxia. If you have childlike symptoms, get an oximeter and check yourself daily. If you don’t, do it anyway. People have been asymptomatic, felt fine, and suddenly dropped dead because their body was deprived of oxygen. I bought an oximeter online this week for about 35 RMB or $6 Canadian. It arrived today, and I checked Shaolin and I. We’re great. What an easy fix to keep my worries and anxieties away. I’m proud of my ability to do everything I can to mitigate the pandemic risks. If I get it, if I got sick, I would know that I did my damned best to stay healthy. The funny thing is that Chongqing is one of the safest cities, and China one of the safest countries in the world right now, but most people I know still will not do what I do, even though they live and work in much more dangerous conditions. It’s hard for me to understand, but we each do what we do and live with the consequences.

It’s easy for me to be critical of my home country’s failings compared to China’s success, but I do think not enough blame is laid squarely at Trump’s feet. I know it’s a cliche to blame him for so much but hear me out: even though we acknowledge he pressured the CDC to downplay the pandemic, masks, and the dangers of children spreading COVID in schools, Canada still looked to the CDC for those exact recommendations and was supremely let down in all regards. He also inherited a pandemic playbook that he threw away and literally closed the pandemic prevention office to fund an extra mile of chain link fence on the Mexican border. This idea of losing real protection to fund a symbolic, empty and useless protection based on perpetuating racist stereotypes is the heart of the problem as I meditate on the Year of The Rat, a complicated image that is negative in the West, and positive in the East. The West has been steadily declining for years, accelerated by Trump’s shenanigans, while the East has been steadily rising, and in the last few years, trips back to North America, Central America, and Europe felt like traveling in time back into the past. Now, post-pandemic, with China having recovered and economically growing, technologically racing ahead as people back home in the West are just trying to hold onto their homes, survive as a majority of businesses and industries shrink and die, I can’t imagine what the disparate landscape will look like in two years. Though, I know that the climate catastrophe makes a lot more sense seeing how shortsighted and inadequately many countries dealt with the pandemic. Being unable to grasp the enormity of both problems fully, they focussed more on the cost and inconvenience of action rather than the exponentially growing cost of delaying and inaction, and in the end, I like to say the West said they couldn’t afford an eight-week lockdown, so they bought themselves the two years one. It’s really tragic, totally avoidable, and it didn’t have to be this way.

On the news, Trump’s ‘legal team’ has lost 32 straight lawsuits, winning an insignificant one (1-32) about poll watchers being closer to the counting. There is no chance for him to reverse the democratic landslide for his opponent, Joe Biden, but insiders are saying his plan is to muddy the waters enough that his party can make a power grab. In any other country, the USA would decry this a fascist coup. This is his America if they can withstand his manipulation and get him out, and so far, Michigan lawmakers have rebuked his attempts to overturn the election, and Lindsey Graham’s craven attempt to call out Georgia’s Secretary of State and ask for him to refuse to certify election results and throw out legal ballots, then hopefully their country can recover. Many experts said a second Trump term would have destroyed them. Rudy Giuliani, formerly hero mayor of New York during 9/11, was sweating so badly his hair was running away from him, or maybe he was sweating merlot as he gave a press conference full of baseless accusations that major media networks simply refused to show, citing it was too fraudulent and politically divisive to have any merit.

Still, although Trump hasn’t attended a COVID-19 task force meeting in over 5 months and the head of the pandemic task force, VP Pence just took a week-long holiday during the worst spike yet, the White House promises they are focussed on the needs of Americans and global citizens. “We’re working on mass distribution of the virus,” Treasury Secretary Mnuchin tells CNBC, presumably meaning the vaccine. Or does he? Cue twilight zone music any time now. This would all be deeply concerning to all of us but I also take comfort in the fact we’ve been in the pandemic long enough that TV shows have caught up and police procedurals like SWAT and FBI Most Wanted all wear masks and complain about isolation during quarantines and access to PCR tests. I was getting tired of every show being a fantasy adventure where hugging and handshakes were part of normal life.

We went downtown with the family and walked around and noticed the first 3D billboards in GuanYinQiao next to a more traditional swan water and light show. Baby Ethan loved the swans, I rather fancy the 3D billboards. Totally cyberpunk. Pretty cool stuff.

Detroit, formerly known as Motor City, used to be one of the largest economies in America, but mismanagement and a failure to invest in the mainly black communities by prejudicial white managers led to both losing automotive supremacy as European and Asian auto giants made huge gains and left them in dire straights. While the 1967 riots were a turning point in the city’s fortunes, Detroit’s decline began in the 1950s. Powerful historical forces buffeted Detroit’s single-industry economy, and recovery strategies were largely unsuccessful. I think this is a clear example of the global shift from America the Great (for some) to the present-day decline of the empire (and Western dominance on the global stage). Around the same time, as China and other Asian countries began manufacturing for the world, prosperity boomed, creating more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the world, America included. It is this loss of the ‘happy middle (working class) as globalization and automation, AI and technology left large swaths of the West floundering that demanded nuanced solutions, such as Andrew Yang’s UBI or Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warrens democratic socialist wealth tax and promise of free education and health care, or AOC’s promise of a Green New Deal, a shift away from world-killing carbon burning to create millions of green energy jobs in wind, hydro and solar power. These are honest, good, and appropriate ideas, and while they aren’t guaranteed to succeed and won’t be easy, a critical thinker doesn’t need to examine them for too long to realize they’re the best hope we, collectively, have.

The problem is, for every good critical thinker, we’ve got a poor one, who would rather blame a racial stereotype, or a scientist, and is afraid of change, afraid of acknowledging reality, and rather than simply bury their heads in the sand and hope the progressives save the world, they choose to actively fight us at every turn, compounding our already difficult situation. They are screwing up our mask efforts, lockdowns, and COVID response; they are delaying our Green New Deal until the point that we might be facing a new mass extinction (2030 isn’t that far off for a global 1.5-degree tipping point that at this point is almost inevitable), and they are electing buffoons like Trump to sit and pout (is it POTUS or POUTUS?)  in the white house when literally anybody else would at least attend health briefings and let the experts do their damn jobs. It’s been a really bad year for democracy, and I’m not saying it can’t work, but we need a lot more emphasis on education and a lot less elitist and lobbyist corruption of the will of the people for it to work as intended. Perhaps that’s what seven years in China, that prizes education for kids over personal entertainment and experience will do to a person – even a former superstar DJ.

I saw a video of a Biden and Trump supporter arguing, and it came out they were both Bernie Progressives who went opposite ways when his candidacy was stolen from him, against the will of the people by those who feared his work: Big Pharma, who kill people for profit, Big Oil, ditto, Big Banks, ditto and so on and so forth. If Trump is employing a small and inept coup and should be stopped, I think at some point the democrats who kept Bernie from winning both the 2016 and 2020 primaries should also be held to account for their part in thwarting democracy too.
The people united. Rutger Bregman, the Davos Wrecker, just posted a great new video denouncing veneer theory, the idea that no, we aren’t basically a bunch of selfish monsters, but we are good; generally, we can work well together, and it’s the systems that prevent that, be it capitalism or Catholicism, that have promoted veneer theory and selfishness for millennia that need to be examined. Westerners are often scared of words like “socialism,” but all enjoy firefighters, police, roads, and schools, even if that access isn’t equal. Often, we see socialism for the very rich and rugged individualism for the poor, and that’s just not going to get us where we need to be by 2030. The pandemic has made all of this very clear, and so I’m optimistic when I hear about a ‘Great Reset’ that will focus on environmental stability, economic justice, and a reframing of society that is new and improved. Of course, with trust in government and orgs at an all-time low in the West, many are skeptical and fearful. That’s just part o the landscape now.
It’s all so different here, on my mountain in China. I’m so grateful for the perspective. Even if I don’t always see everything, I feel like I see a lot.

My world around me may be strange and hard but I manifested it with my hope, love, and dreams. With my magic.

So I’m not saying I’m getting old but young grandpas look like strong manly men and new parents look like kids so I think that says something.

I agree with Rutger that we are all basically good when our needs are met. Maybe it’s time we got rid of the obstacles and institutions that keep us apart and helped each other work together to make a new world we are proud of.

Kai has been writing a diary about COVID-19 since his lockdown in Chongqing China began on January 23. You can follow his fight against COVID-19 on his blog,, 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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