There are a small number of movies that had a profound impact on me as a child. Having grown up in the generation for whom nuclear war was the looming threat, many of those formative movies concerned the aftermath of nuclear war.

I particularly remember Fail Safe and Dr. Strangelove.

And On The Beach, about the Australian community awaiting the fallout from a nuclear war in the Northern Hemisphere that destroyed any other human life on earth, or at least any human life that the submarine crew in the movie could find.

I thought about On The Beach today.

This morning I returned from Ithaca to Rhode Island. Previously, as I posted, Cornell announced that students should not return to campus after spring break in two weeks, with all classes to be held ‘virtually’. I suspected with other colleges and universities moving more quickly, that the two week deadline would not stick. And stick, it didn’t.

Yesterday afternoon, the Cornell President released a surprise campus-wide statement announcing that all on-campus classes were suspended as of 5 p.m. that day, and all students who could were advised to leave campus and Ithaca as soon as possible.

Effective at 5 p.m. today (March 13), we are suspending all classes on the Ithaca campus for three weeks. We are doing this for several reasons. First, as noted above, it accelerates social distancing. Second, travel may become more difficult in the coming days, and we want students to be able to get to their homes. And third, we recognize the significant stress that students are under currently, making classroom learning difficult.

All undergraduate students and most professional students are strongly encouraged to return as soon as feasible to their permanent home residences; you must leave campus no later than March 29, unless you receive an exception to stay in on-campus housing….

I implore each of our students to comply with this directive. You can do your part to help de-densify the campus and make it safer for those who need to stay by leaving as soon as possible.

Students already stressed from having to pack up and not return from spring break now were told to leave right away.

The trickle of campus and community closings now has turned into a cascade around the world. It’s as if the world is awaiting the equivalent of nuclear fallout.

So for the next few weeks, at least, the view I’ll be seeing as I sit and type is what you see in the featured image. My ‘beach’ of sorts.

Waiting for a Wuhan coronavirus fallout that may or may not arrive.


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