X Close

What we didn’t learn from foot and mouth There is always an alternative to excessive state action

A Ministry of Food official supervises the burning of cow carcasses. Credit: GERRY PENNY/AFP via Getty Images

A Ministry of Food official supervises the burning of cow carcasses. Credit: GERRY PENNY/AFP via Getty Images


February 22, 2021   5 mins

Quiz of the week, and your starter for 10: Identify the pandemic from the following information: Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College computer-models apocalyptic mortality rates, the Government bungles containment of the disease, movement (and civil rights) are restricted, a miracle-cure vaccine is preferred, the economy takes a hit of billions.

Covid-19? Those of us who live in the countryside might answer differently. We might  reply, “The foot-and-mouth epidemic of  2001”, the 20th anniversary of which we commemorate this month.

I do mean commemorate, as you do with disasters. On 19 February 2001, Craig Kirby, the statutory attendant vet at Cheale Meats abattoir in Little Warley, Essex, noticed blisters on a batch of lethargic pigs. The last epidemic of foot-and-mouth (FMD) had taken place in 1967, before Kirby was born, but he identified the symptoms correctly and called the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) — the forerunner of DEFRA. Four days later, an FMD case was confirmed on a run-down pig farm at Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland, which MAFF eventually determined as the source of the epizootic. (Owner Bobby Waugh was later convicted of having failed to inform the authorities of a notifiable disease, and feeding his pigs “untreated waste”; he was probably, to use a bon mot, scapegoated by MAFF, and the disease had  been existent in sheep flocks for weeks beforehand but undetected.)

By the time the epidemic, caused by the Pan-Asian O variant of FMD, was brought under complete control in January 2002, over 7 million cows, sheep, goats, pigs — essentially, all animal types with the Devil’s cloven-hooves — had been slaughtered. Businesses had gone under, ancient rights of way closed, parts of the country deemed no-go exclusion zones. The Cheltenham Literary Festival cancelled. The General Election postponed — for the first time since the Second World War — and the economy black-holed by £10bn, from revenue lost and the compensation given to the 2,000 affected farmers.

And life down on the farm was never the same again. The fun went out of it. Farming became so micro-managed by DEFRA after FMD you could need permission to move livestock to an adjacent field. In triplicate. While waiting six days. If you think some of Boris Johnson’s Covid-19 measures smack of Big State I can only tell you that the farming community have been the guinea pigs.

We farmed sheep back then in 2001, in west Herefordshire, where England runs into Mid-Wales. I remember foot-and-mouth well, although, curiously, not as cinema, but as single-frame images. The fracturing stress of it all, I suppose. We chained and padlocked all our gates to prevent anyone, and especially the MAFF death squads, coming onto the property. One midsummer’s morning I stepped out into the field behind the house, and on every ringing hill there were sky-blackening pyres of animals being burned, the barbecue stench filling the air. The village school closed due to the “smog” from roasting animal flesh. Troops in a Land Rover, rifles sticking out the front window, going up and down the lane, the soldiers having been conscripted for the slaughter of the animals. We were under siege from our own side.

Other fragments of memory: a friend hiding her pedigree pigs in the cellar. The wheels and the underside of the stock trailer being sprayed with disinfectant at Hereford cattle market by men in those plastic suits forensic pathologists wear. Disinfectant everywhere. Disinfectant on rubber mats for cars to drive over. Disinfectant on trays for boots to step in. Disinfectant coming out of the nozzle of a spray-gun.

We lived in disinfectant. And fear.

And we who lived in the country in 2001 lost our respect for computer-types. The establishment’s response to FMD was a bonfire of the sanities, not just in the science of retrospect, but in the common sense of the moment. So, let us fight through the smoke, to find the fire-starters. Beginning with Imperial College, London.

In the concrete towers of Imperial College computer-types, including Neil Ferguson, had been busy — busy modelling human diseases. At the press of a button in 2001, they decided their modelling worked for FMD, and FMD was so potentially catastrophic that the only answer was a “contiguous cull” — the slaughter of all susceptible animals within 3km of known cases. On the basis of Imperial’s computer model was determined the FMD-eradication policy of Tony Blair’s Labour government.

On March 16, with FMD cases at 240, MAFF announced the implementation of Imperial’s contiguous cull. Enter the MAFF slaughter squads, killing millions of animals  — whether healthy or not — with a bullet to the head. If the creatures were lucky. Some animals got bludgeoned. Or drowned.

The poor bloody animals, about which no-one in authority seemed to give a shit, from the RSPCA to the NEC of the ruling Labour Party. Can you imagine the fuss if a fox had been clubbed? But fine, kill lambs any which way you want to ensure their silence.

The cull was absolute, inflexible. Sheep quarantined in sheds with full bio-security? Killed. Pet sheep, disease-free, brought into the sitting room for safety? Killed. It happened to Carolyn Hoffe in Scotland, whose house was broken into by MAFF vets and their armed Gurkha escort. In Devon vets were accompanied by police in riot gear, as the former broke into farms to perform the state-approved rites of the contiguous cull — the legality of which was always dubious, whether under UK law, or EU law. Or, indeed, natural justice.

By late Spring 32,000 animals a day were being exterminated. During the summer, the figure reached 92,000, and still FMD rampaged up and down the country. In some localities, the livestock were butchered in such gargantuan numbers that the corpses lay around in mounds for days, before burial or incineration. Lorries, leaking fluid from slaughtered infected cattle, went through uninfected areas, risking the spread of the disease. Death and smoke and blood. The British countryside  turned into an infernal Dantean vision in the summer of 2001. Tourism — surprise! — nosedived.

During the Vietnam War, a hapless US army officer explained infamously, “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.” Imperial College’s computer-modelling geniuses, one feels, took his advice to heart, assuming they had hearts. And 15% of Britain’s farm animals were slaughtered in the contiguous cull.

Because, in the mad, mad world of FMD 2001, guess who was not allowed to control the campaign against the epizootic? Veterinary experts. They were shoved aside by an unholy alliance of Imperial College computer geeks, Blairite politicos, and the National Farmers Union, the NFU (which soon came to stand for “No Fucking Use” down our way; the NFU is always touted as “Agriculture’s Voice”, when it represents a mere 30% of farmers, and is heavily bent towards agribusiness).

In the very earliest days of the crisis, the government’s very own foot-and-mouth experts — at the Animal Health Institute’s laboratory at Pirbright — informed Nick Brown, the Minister of Agriculture, that Imperial’s model was flawed. For starters, the model failed to take account of the variety of farming practices, the varying rates of transmission between different species, and exaggerated the effect of windborne spread. Pirbright’s Dr Paul Kitching condemned mass culling as “scientifically unsound”.

You see, there was always an alternative to the literal overkill of the overlooked animals in the great British barbaric barbecue. Vaccination.

Many tried to make Tony Blair see reason, including Prince Charles, who sent No 10 a scientific paper from Edinburgh University arguing the case for mass vaccination of livestock. It fell on deaf ears. Blair refused pathetically, pusillanimously to gainsay his own appointed FMD tsars, Professor David King (a chemist for god’s sake) and Professor Roy Anderson of — you guessed it — Imperial College’s computer-modelling department, the very people who deemed the contiguous cull essential. Blair was also swayed by Ben Gill, chairman of the NFU, who pleaded that vaccination would undermine Britain’s FMD-free status, damaging meat exports abroad. (If you want to play the numbers game, tourism to the countryside brings in ÂŁ10bn per annum — quite a tranche of it going to the many small farmers doing B&B — far more quids to the national coffers than lamb, pork and beef exports abroad; and, anyway, why not “Eat British”, Mr Ben? )

So, sense and compassion went up in smoke, along with millions of animals and billions of pounds sterling, and Britain’s green and pleasant land was turned into killing fields.

It need not have happened. The likelihood of vaccination being successful was not theoretical. The Netherlands also had an outbreak of FMD in 2001. So, your second question in quiz of the week: How was the Netherland’s FMD outbreak brought under control?

Correct! Mass vaccination.


John Lewis-Stempel is a farmer and writer on nature and history. His most recent books are The Sheep’s Tale and Nightwalking.

JLewisStempel

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

39 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

A good and important article. I grew up in the countryside and it was F&M that fully awoke me to the evil of New Labour and the sheer, malicious incompetence of the British state. Essentially, F&M was an appetiser for Iraq. It is so easy to forget the blithe, destructive wickedness of those who rule over us. Articles like this act as a reminder.

D Ward
D Ward
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Here here. It was an evil policy yet Bliar got away with it.

I was talking to my daughter about it just a few days ago. I had in the back of my mind she was a baby when it happened- I remember driving to my parents and seeing the smoke from the burning piles of poor animals – but she wasn’t born till 2003 so I must have imagined her being in the car with us.

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
3 years ago
Reply to  D Ward

You’ll see smoke from Hell the day the fat starts spitting off Blair’s body down there.

Saul D
Saul D
3 years ago

Ferguson was also behind BSE/vCJD predictions. His 2002 paper suggested between 50-50,000 deaths from bovine BSE, rising to potentially 150,000 if ovine BSE was considered. To date there have been 178 deaths from vCJD, and just 7 in the last ten years.
Long-period statistical models, particularly if they include exponential growth of any form, have a tendency to go wildly wrong at the upper bounds.

Colin Reeves
Colin Reeves
3 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

“particularly if they include exponential growth of any form”
Too right. It has been well-known for some time that nearly all epidemics do not grow exponentially. Gerardo Chowell at Georgia State Uni and his colleagues have confirmed this historically. My own modelling over the past year has shown that an empirical power-law model fits hospitalization data better, and provides accurate forecasts up to 3 weeks ahead, while exponential models lead to absurd predictions like 4000 deaths/day.
If this epidemic has made anything clear, it is the limitations of mathematical models in noisy and chaotic environments. My fellow mathematicians and statisticians all know this in theory, but along comes the promise of research contracts, chairs and a moment of fame. “I see the sights that dazzle, the tempting sounds I hear.”
Of course, it’s even worse in the area of “climate change.”

Tony Barry
Tony Barry
3 years ago
Reply to  Colin Reeves

Prof Levitts said the same thing at the start of the pandemic. He noted growth was a Gompertz curve, not exponential. He even wrote an article in response to Neil Ferguson, but Ferguson ignored it.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Colin Reeves

Thanks for this,far better than I could argue it. I despair not of the modelling we’ve seen recently, but of the importance attached to it.
The 2-3 week forecasts are important as they drive hospital admissions. The long term forecasts are frankly silly, the data to drive the model still isn’t known – we still can’t decide if schools are tiny or significant driverrs of infection. The ‘Kent’ variant if it’s really 50% more infectious completely skews any modelling. Viruses generally mutate, the more tranmissable version will generally win. Wouldn’t like to try modelling it though.

Robin Taylor
Robin Taylor
3 years ago

“In the very earliest days of the crisis, the government’s very own foot-and-mouth experts
” informed “
that Imperial’s model was flawed”.
We should remember that in the very earliest days of this crisis, 13 March 2020, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, told Sky News that:
“If you completely lockdown absolutely everything, probably for a period of four months or more, then you would suppress this virus. All the evidence from previous epidemics suggests that when you do that, when you release it, then it all comes back again. So, the other part of this is to make sure that we don’t end up with a sudden peak again in the Winter which is even larger and causes even more problems. So, we want to suppress it, not get rid of it completely, which you can’t do anyway, not suppress it so much that we get the second peak, and also allow enough of us who are going to get mild illness, to become immune to this and help with the whole population response that would protect everybody”.
We should remember that the early approach was based on the Government’s Pandemic Preparedness Strategy formed in 2011. The pandemic strategy was to be used for influenza and other severe acute respiratory syndromes and was based on planners being prepared “to cope with a population mortality rate of up to 210,000–315,000 additional deaths, possibly over as little as a 15 week period and perhaps half of these over three weeks at the height of the outbreak”. There were no plans for closing borders, wearing masks or shutting down the economy, although it did envisage protecting the elderly and vulnerable.
It is not clear we would ever have reached 315,000 deaths in 15 weeks (or 155,000 over three weeks) during this pandemic, so it would seem that the Government lost its nerve and that since then the science has been following the politics.

Michael Upton
Michael Upton
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin Taylor

Some of us are not qualified to say where the truth lies, but in a year have not heard or read a word that persuasively suggests Robin Taylor is wrong.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin Taylor

Unfortunately, our hysterical media wouldn’t allow that approach to be taken. Think back to the media frenzy last April as deaths climbed inexorably towards 1,000 per day and then imagine the firestorm that would have faced the Government had there been no lockdown and a more Swedish approach adopted.

Jim
Jim
3 years ago

What the writer forgets to mention is that the Netherlands did vaccinate animals.
All vaccinated animals were then slaughtered because the Netherlands did not want to destroy their export industry
I was farming in Cumbria at the time. The PMs office contacted the vets at Carlisle to ask whether the farmers would do vaccination. The vets phoned farmers, I was one. The suggestion was that all cattle and then perhaps all sheep in Cumbria would be vaccinated. The problem is that milk from vaccinated cows has to be pasturised twice before it can be allowed out of the area (OIE regulations) and no dairy company in Cumbria would volunteer to do this because nobody would buy the milk. The government was asked to buy it for the armed forces (along with the meat which has to be treated differently as well under OIE regulations) Government refused to do this
So effectively vaccinating cows would have meant the farmer vaccinating them would bankrupt themselves because they couldn’t sell their produce
Because I, like a lot of other farmers, didn’t want to end up bankrupt and homeless, we said no to vaccination

Jerry Smith
Jerry Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Jim

It would be interesting to see the author’s response to these points.

David Hartlin
David Hartlin
3 years ago
Reply to  Jim

The author does mention vaccination, read the last line.

Allie McBeth
Allie McBeth
3 years ago
Reply to  David Hartlin

But not the after-effects!

David Hartlin
David Hartlin
3 years ago
Reply to  Allie McBeth

So what was the problem in the end?Science or markets?

Jim
Jim
3 years ago
Reply to  David Hartlin

Both. The OIE set very high standards. It was impossible at the time to test a vaccinated animal and work out whether it is vaccinated or has the disease.
Also because a high proportion of FMD outbreaks have been vaccine breakdowns, (or vaccine escapes) the OIE set very high standards for what must be done with milk and meat products from those animals to ensure they do not inadvertently spread the disease. Unless you live in a country where FMD is endemic, it is effectively financially unviable to meet those standards and find paying customers.

Richard
Richard
3 years ago
Reply to  Jim

I remember driving from Manchester Airport on the way to the family home in Cumbria at the end of August 2001 after an absence of some eight months. Something struck me as odd about a journey I’d done dozens of times over nearly 20 years, but it wasn’t until I reached Tebay that I realised that I hadn’t seen a single animal in a field throughout the entire journey. It was quite chilling.

Jim
Jim
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard

It was a nightmare.
I remember in 2002 going to Westmoreland show and people comparing it to ‘last year’s show.’
There hadn’t been a last years show, it had been cancelled. But they had effectively blotted the whole of 2001 from their minds as the only way of coping with it.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 years ago

One of the best articles that I have had the privilege of reading here. I remember it well and it was the most awful time (I am from a farming family). What happened in 2001 should have taught us not to rely on statistical modelling or the opinions of those who have no specialist knowledge of the subject at hand – which seems to be a Ferguson speciality. And indeed, not to trust the state to do the right thing; that is why we tussled our way to freedom for 400 years.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Thumbs up.

Alison Houston
Alison Houston
3 years ago

I’m so sorry you had to live through that. Blair is a psychopath and Ferguson has some weird additional Messiah complex. Thank you for putting yourself through the dreadful task of describing that time again, it is important that we never forget it. I think reporting on it had a very
profound effect on Peter Hitchens and has helped him to see far more clearly than his fellows what is going on today.

I have been watching the Adam Curtis documentaries The Century of the Self and The Trap, this weekend. Certainly the obsession with the mathematical models and game theory that so influenced Clinton and Blair have a great deal to answer for. Down with academics and politicians who think academics have the answers!

Peadar Laighléis
Peadar Laighléis
3 years ago

Looking from the other side of the Irish Sea, I recall how smug the Irish media were about the performance of Bertie Aherne’s government here at the time in comparison to Tony Blair’s response. Just recall the agricultural lobby was relatively much more powerful on both sides of the border in Ireland at the time, and I only recall one recorded outbreak in the Republic and three in Northern Ireland at the time. However the writer’s depiction of armed troops on patrol in the English countryside reminds me the Dublin satirical magazine The Phoenix took a pot shot at the Irish Defence Forces at the time which was something like an Irish joke. The Army Ranger Wing, which are the special force in the Irish Army, were dispatched to the Cooley Penninsula to cull the feral goats there – Cooley is just south of the border on the Irish Sea coast and the four outbreaks I refer to all took place in proximity. What the well-trained, well paid members of the ARW were not prepared for was how wild goats had learned were the border was and what it meant to them through the Troubles which had only come to an end a few years before. A few of the goats were killed, but the rest charged to the safety of Northern Ireland where the Irish Army elite could not follow. I don’t think the citizens of any civilised state expect the men at arms they fund to be deployed against defenceless animals.

Rachel Chandler
Rachel Chandler
3 years ago

Maybe we have to ask ourselves why democratic governments take action and justify policies on models and forecasts that are unlikely to be “right”. The problem is an electorate that expect them to “do something”. We are treated like infants because we don’t want to accept the reality that life is uncertain. This problem has come to a head with SARs-cov-2 and won’t go away until the increasing numbers of middle-aged vulnerable (on medication for metabolic disorders) take more interest in their health, questioning their descent into ever more drug dependence.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago

Thumbs up.

Simon Webb
Simon Webb
3 years ago

Just before FMD broke out I was seconded to work within government. I was told to go along to MAFF for a briefing and witnessed Sir Richard Wilson (head of the civil service) introducing a brigadier and telling them, in no uncertain terms, ‘we are working with the military on this (cull) but let me be clear , you do as he says.’ I was new to working with civil servants but thought something must have gone very wrong. I spent the next 5 years, and particularly the response to 9/11, witnessing the dangerous mix of arrogance, ignorance and incompetence of the civil service. Blair had got rid of the old off-message impartial civil servants and replaced them with new labour clones, who are still there today. We can blame the politicians and the academics but at the heart of the rot is the civil service who have never learned any lessons where they cocked up because they always find someone else to blame. Just look at Grenfell – the root cause was Prescott changing rules and responsibilities within his remit, but the inquiry hasn’t even considered it yet as there are easier targets to blame e.g. the fire service.

Last edited 3 years ago by Simon Webb
Gerry Fruin
Gerry Fruin
3 years ago

In deepest West Wales it was a fact to many farmers that the disease was spread by heroic ‘news reporters’ racing from one farm to the next sneaking ‘undercover’ to get the latest entertaining pictures of slaughtered animals.
In my area they did not arrive! Why? Well they were told at the border that if they tried to access any farms they wouldn’t be leaving. A bit strong, and you may think melodramatic and this article tried to paint a real situation that was totally unnecessary and led by spineless ignorant cretins. Rural people are brought up with animal deaths, not likeable but this evil period was sick beyond words
Who ignored and exacerbated this? (or tried to). The world’s leading broadcaster. Yes the BBC.

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago

Charlatan of the century?
Professor Neil Fergusson.

Apocalyptic predictions on CJD, Foot and Mouth and Sars-Cov-2.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

Scenario from the infamous “550,000 deaths if we do nothing” Imperial Report No 9 :
Table 4 which shows a series of possible scenarios with different restrictions in place.
For an R of 2.4 with case isolation + social distancing + home quarantine + school / university closure worst death scenario is 39,000 over 2 years – not exactly apocalyptic given how things have turned out
People should take the time to read the original sources – the actualite is always more nuanced and interesting than what is spewed out by most news outlets (read Jim above)

Rob Nock
Rob Nock
3 years ago

And very interesting post in the comments in an interesting article at https://www.independentsciencenews.org/commentaries/why-china-and-the-who-will-never-find-a-zoonotic-origin-for-the-covid19-pandemic-virus/ (Independent Science News) about how strange it is that the WHO seem determined to deny the possibility of Covid having escaped from a lab.
“On this day 20 years ago foot and mouth disease was first noted in pigs at a slaughterhouse in Essex, initiating what eventually became one of the biggest foot and mouth disease epidemics in history. The official inquiry into the epidemic was published in 2002 (Lessons to be Learned Inquiry Report, July 2002). This report states that ”The exact source of the FMD virus implicated in the UK outbreak will never be known.”. The chief veterinary officer concluded on the origin of the virus that ”The source of the virus for the 2001 epidemic was most probably infected or contaminated meat or meat products but it is unlikely that the origin of this material or the route by which it entered the UK and reached Burnside Farm will ever be identified”. Alternative theories of the origin of the virus were considered but, surprisingly, the possibility of a lab leak from the Pirbright Institute was not mentioned at all. Considering that the virus was almost identical to a strain isolated in South Korea in 2000, that this lineage was geographically restricted to countries in the Far East and that this virus was present at Pirbright and also being studied in animal experiments, it is surprising that the possibility of an accidental escape from the laboratory was not addressed in the official inquiry. An limited outbreak of foot and mouth disease virus in UK in 2007 was confirmed to be caused by accidental escape of virus from Pirbright. Therefore, given that it happened in 2007, it is retrospectively of concern that such a possibility was not considered in 2001.”

William Murphy
William Murphy
3 years ago

It was late 2019 and I was one of the audience listening to a lecture in Camberley.

Subject: Climate Change….. As predicted by computer models.

Lecturer: Emeritus Professor of Atmospheric Physics… From Imperial College.

The great thing about predicting climate change is that you won’t be around in 2100 when your forecasts mature. And by then everyone will long have forgotten that you ever existed.

David Bell
David Bell
3 years ago

Regrettable Imperial and Mr Ferguson has a long and undistinguished history of this sort of thing

Angus J
Angus J
3 years ago

“Many tried to make Tony Blair see reason…”

Always a difficult task, on any subject.

Peter KE
Peter KE
3 years ago

SAGE, DHSC, PHE and Imperial are all useless and the damage caused unnecessary damage to our society.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago

“Bonfire of the sanities”. Brilliant.

William Murphy
William Murphy
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

I loved it too. I recall some Argentine guy commenting that the way the British government handled F&M in 2001 was simply proof that we have too much money. Or too much in Government hands.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago

Computer models-“Garbage in-garbage out”. Computer models that are used in predicting the “coming climate disaster” (always coming, never arriving) cannot “predict” past weather when fed all known information.

Sean MacSweeney
Sean MacSweeney
3 years ago

It still surprises me that anyone would listen to anything the morons at imperial college would come out with, governments should automatically discount what these idiots spout

Stephen Hoffman
Stephen Hoffman
3 years ago

A new fusion of tech, media and government has cast its nets over us. It gained ground with FMD and now it’s blossomed with Covid-19. But we’re smart, right? We can find a way out of this maze? Nope. We like to think of ourselves as the animal who uses tools—language, ideas, computer models. But tools use us. The unappetizing submission of computer geeks like Neil Ferguson to this ugly fate is what makes them prosper in times like ours. Deep down they see that we abhor the stench of burning animals less than we revel in the sheer technological marvel of our divine overlord—computer code.

Stephen Hoffman
Stephen Hoffman
3 years ago

A new fusion of tech, media and government has cast its nets over us. It gained ground with FMD and now it’s blossomed with Covid-19. But we’re smart, right? We can find a way out of this maze? Nope. We like to think of ourselves as the animal who uses tools—language, ideas, computer models. But tools use us. The unappetizing submission of computer geeks like Neil Ferguson to this ugly fate is what makes them prosper in times like ours. Deep down they see that we abhor the stench of burning animals less than we revel in the sheer technological marvel of our divine overlord—computer code.

Chris Milburn
Chris Milburn
3 years ago

The parallels to the handling of the COVID situation are uncanny. I think the next step is shooting all the potentially infected humans.