There are a number of political angles to the Coronavirus, and I think many lessons to be learned. Let’s hope people are listening.

Reporter Without Borders has found an incredibly clever way to distribute the works of journalists who have been censored by their own governments. It involves the game of Minecraft. Really!

Mentioned links:

US and Canada suspend non-essential travel between the two countries

Baltimore Mayor Begs Residents To Stop Shooting Each Other So Hospital Beds Can Be Used For Coronavirus Patients

Baltimore mayor under pressure after ‘space to destroy’ remark

The Uncensored Library

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Show transcript

Phrases like “social distancing”, “flattening the curve”, “exponential growth”, and even just “wash your hands” are either entering the cultural vernacular, or are just being said a lot more often. The reason, of course, is because of the Coronavirus aka COVID-19.

In episode 283, I said that I didn’t think that this would be similar to a disaster where you had to shelter in-place while the government worked to restore basic services. In that respect I was right, but I didn’t consider that we’d be requested or (in some places) required to stay home as much as possible anyway. I still have water, electricity, and Internet access, so it doesn’t feel like a disaster, at least inside my four walls. But I understand that my little microcosm of the world is not actually the world. And I think that’s one of the problems that we’re having. Some people are comparing news reports to their own experiences and thinking the media are overblowing the threat. Some are and some aren’t, but let’s not give in to spreading an “underblown” conspiracy theory. Social media is still just a tool that can be used for good or for ill, so to speak. Let’s be careful out there.

Politically speaking, I think this is a teachable moment regarding the role and the capability of the federal government vs. the states. A tweet, linked to in the show notes by Molly Jong-Fast, who is an Editor-at-Large at the Daily Beast, said this, “So the states are basically governing themselves because our president doesn’t know how to president at all?” Let that sink in for a bit. States, she may be surprised to find out, have their own governments, and they have been governing themselves for a good long time. Even better, they are closer to the people, and more responsive to local needs, than a federal government that could be thousands of miles away and beneath many layers of bureaucracy. We rely too much on DC rather than relying on our state and local governments, and ourselves, and each other. The Left talks a lot about doing things together, but when it comes down to it, they are addicted to DC.

Another thing I’ve notice from a political angle is that suddenly borders seem to matter again. Countries including the US are closing their borders to all but trusted traffic. Canada and the US will be closing their border to all non-essential traffic and illegal crossings at the Mexican border will be immediately returned, Italy has already been on lockdown, and other countries are seeing how having actual border security is a good thing. It needs to be in place generally, but especially for times like this

A similar flip-flop took place in Baltimore, where the mayor pleaded with residents to stop shooting each other, because the hospital beds that the wounded were using were needed for COVID-19 patients. Mayor Jack Young said, “I want to reiterate how completely unacceptable the level of violence is that we have seen recently. We will not stand for mass shootings and an increase in crime.” Sounds good to me, though that statement also sounds like they have been standing for it previously. Yeah, that may be a little unfair, but I do recall that a previous mayor of the city said the police should, “give those who wished to destroy space to do that”, following the funeral of Freddie Gray who died in police custody. So this has been “stood for” before. Just keep that in mind, as well as the fact that there hasn’t been a Republican mayor there since 1967. Maybe it’s time to take a different stand.

Well, the economy is certainly going to take a hit, and DC is doing what it can to try to mitigate the damage. Various ideas include giving everyone $2,000, suspending home foreclosures, suspending student debt or payments, and a number of other things are on the table. This could get into the trillions of dollars, but this is certainly an emergency. The problem is that we haven’t been saving for a rainy day. Instead, we’ve borrowed against that rainy day, and now we’re $23.5 trillion behind. What we wind up with is more piled-up debt that will continue to rob the economy for interest payments. Borrowing should be done in emergencies like this; not as a standard operating procedure. And as I’ve said, it’s up to us to vote for representatives that will do that, and not punish them when they don’t bring home the pork.

So here we are in our homes, many of us teleworking, many with the kids at home. First of all, let me suggest that you not only stay within your four walls. Spring has started so enjoy the outdoors. You can still take walks in the park, eat out on your deck if you have one. Keep that social distancing, but don’t get cabin fever.

Secondly, there’s a lot you can do online for entertainment other than just catch up on your binge watching on Netflix. Museums have virtual tours, for example. And I’d like to suggest something else; Minecraft.

Your kids are probably playing it while they’re home from school, but I’m talking about a very novel way of using it. Reporters Without Borders is a group that supports journalists whose work is censored because their government doesn’t want it to be published. What they’ve done is use a feature of Minecraft where you can write your own text into an in-game book. So they setup a Minecraft world and built in it an incredibly impressive library. It’s beautiful to look at, but inside are books of articles that have been censored. There are different rooms in the library for various regions of the world. It is an incredibly clever way of distributing these articles.

One of the big things it avoids is oppressive governments doing a simple web search to see where these articles might be posted and shut them down. When you download this Minecraft world, you have your own copy and you play it on your own computer. Presumably someone could create a public server with this world, and make it available to those who don’t want to download it.

This is a brilliant and unconventional use of a game, and I just love this idea. If you’re interested in finding out more and downloading the library, go to It’s got a small tour of the library so you can see what it looks like as well as download and instruction links. Give it a look.

Filed under: Coronavirus (COVID-19)MediaMedicine