Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ah, the news.


Wanna talk about the news?   You're crazy.  Ick.  Wow.  I don't think I'm imagining it- my impression is that the news, in particular the "Big News" has gotten just astonishingly horrifyingly worse in the past few months.  Not one thing after another; but 10 things, after another, all life-threatening for the planet and/or our species, and/or any remaining shreds of what we used to call "civilization".

So; I want to share this with you; I'd encourage you to go to YouTube, see it full screen, and maybe turn your screen brightness up a bit, as this clip is a little dim (it's supposed to be dusk in the movie, for one thing.)  I've sworn that one day - I'm going to DO this.  On a crowded street.  The time is ripe.



I think- it would be good to start a movement of THOUSANDS of people DOING this - around the world.  The world is revolting yes?  This would fit right in.

And it is by far the most cogent comment on the world and news I know of.  And Steve Martin had it nailed in 1987.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ebola- keep your fingers crossed.

Thank goodness- the worst did not happen in the USA.  Or a lot of other places.

But as this sound and really pretty hopeful article keeps repeating- now is not the time to relax.  Rather it's the time try to get ahead of the virus.

Ebola cases are currently stabilizing in Guinea and Liberia; but accelerating (after a drop) in Sierra Leone.  "The exact causes of the lull are unclear." The perpetual frustration of epidemiologists; pathogens can surge, and recede- without any obvious reasons.  In this case one factor may be burial customs- the people in the epidemic areas have actually changed the practices, because of education on the risks.  People apparently can be taught.  That's hopeful, all on its own.

The long range risks are still there, alas.  With thousands still sick, and thousands of survivors sent home but possibly still infectious via semen or breast milk, the virus still has the largest chance it has ever had to get out of Africa- and into India; China; Europe...

So; fingers crossed.  Yes, we could actually get lucky.  But- I'd rather not rely on luck, when a virus is involved.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Listen to the Silence, too.


As part of our "how to understand the world" theme here; I'll point out that what the media is not saying is very often as significant as what they are.

I've been searching the web since last night; and cannot find any official news about the state of Dr. Craig Spencer, being treated for Ebola at Bellevue Hospital in NYC, that is more recent than 2 days ago.  And only one other blogger who has also noticed.  Not a peep from CNN or anyone else.

That's scaring me a bit.  The entire world seems to be assuming that of course, he'll recover; since he's being treated in the USA, etc, etc.  He did receive a blood transfusion from an Ebola survivor; several days back; and that was about the end of the updates; that he was "tolerating" the transfusion well.

This is a young man who deserves to get well, and to be appreciated for his warm humanity.  If he made any mistakes, it was the grave sin of believing what he was told by his superiors.  "This is safe." they said.

I fear the social consequences too; if he does not recover- dies- the impact on our fear and chaos levels will be very large; and very little of that would be beneficial.

Listen for when the crickets quit.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Yes! No! Maybe....Not!


So; who to believe?  About which?

I think I wouldn't worry about it, since between Governors declaring public health emergency quarantines, but not enforcing them, and nurses deciding to ignore Governors, and judges deciding their job is to judge science, not law....  you're not getting any of the choices in here, anyhow.

Crazy, yes?  This is some of the damage caused by fear-panic in plagues.
Current results; the State Troopers in Maine are no longer sure if they should obey the Governor's orders; or wait for court clarification.  Citizens - have no idea who to listen to.

There is a saying in all the armies I can check on; so old it defies attribution; "Order, counter-order, disorder."  Chaos is just around the corner; when people do not know who to follow or who to trust.

The business world has a similar Law: "Even a bad decision is better than no decision."  A little more subtle, but proven true repeatedly.  Make a bad decision?  You may find that out quickly, and change direction.  No decision?  The Universe will decide for you, and you probably won't like it.

So who's in charge here?

Yep, I don't know either.



Sunday, October 26, 2014

School Shootings. (so you can avoid this if you wish.)


Old-timers here know my opinion.  Which has just been clearly demonstrated, again.

This young man, almost certainly, would never have chosen this method of suicide, if it hadn't been pounded into him repeatedly that this is a great way to die.

I will not belabor it; I already have here.  The reason for bringing it up at all is that the present instance is a change; a metastasis of the disease.

This is blindingly obvious to me; and I truthfully am unable to comprehend how it is NOT obvious to everyone.

These events are suicides; every one of them.

A certain type of potential suicide will choose this path- not because it hurts people; but because it makes the shooter an instant world-wide celebrity.  Next week, everyone will still be discussing how your potty-training made you a killer, your face will be everywhere; they'll write books about you, and every time a similar suicide happens, they'll run all your stories again, with photographs.  Immortality, really.  By god, the world will never forget what a shitty deal you got.

We don't publish names and photos of rape victims; and no one suffers because of that horrifying restriction on our "right to know!"  The fact is, the papers love these events now- because they make SO much money off them.  Someone needs to document the money; imagine the headline then: "Numbers reveal CNN makes $130 Million for every school shooting."  They do, you know.

This young man experienced something traumatic last week; probably with his cousins, and it was difficult to live with.  In normal times, he might have hanged himself, alone.  That would be horrible, and should be prevented if possible.

But it would not even have occurred to him to shoot his cousins also- except that at his age, they've been having "shooter lock-down" events at school since he was in kindergarten.  Obviously, this is what's expected.

Never publish the names.  Never publish the photos.  Never discuss their "reasons" (which baffle the authorities always).  If the shooters are "erased"; there will be no shooters.

Can anyone explain why (besides the money) this is not obvious?

Because I literally don't get it.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Ebola 12. The Mali Border.

I saw this photo first yesterday, on BBC.  It has been haunting me; literally; ever since.  I've been on and off about whether to share it here; it seems to have mostly vanished from the media feeds; I would guess because it is too disturbing; thought provoking, bottom of the pit sad, and frightening.


The file I uploaded is high enough resolution for full screen; get it big enough so you can really see it.

My narrative:  This beautiful woman has dressed up, neat and lovely in her good clothes; for a day in town.  A treat, pretty certainly.  She has put worries aside, for just a little while.

Then she is abruptly confronted.  Required to stand still and be monitored.

To see if she is going to be the next to die.



She knows she needs to stand, for the good of all.  She stands.  She wishes she could run away from the muzzle of the thermometer; which feels like a gun; though she knows perfectly well it isn't.

She can't run; there isn't anywhere to run.  She has already seen death, or knows it is coming closer every day; and there is nothing to do; but stand.  And wait.


I find the panic in our press and among our officials offensive beyond belief.  These people on the Mali border are not panicked.  They're doing all they can to cope; and live, while they can.

With nothing but words from the rest of the world, to help them.  She knows.

I have a lot of contempt boiling inside these days, too.

She haunts me.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Ebola 11 — New York City, and Mali.


And what can one say?

I hope Dr. Spencer pulls through.  I really hope he was not shedding virus in the NYC subway system Wednesday evening.  Or into the NYC sewer system, with the large resident rat population.

Will rats spread Ebola!?!  Gasp!  We just, plain, totally, absolutely DO NOT KNOW.

I guarantee you will hear a pundit from NYC today scoffing at the idea of rats becoming infected, probably citing the CDC, and, dripping scorn, "Oh, this has just never been known to happen!"  And that's totally true.  "We" haven't seen it.  You need to learn to recognize that language as intentionally misleading, however.  This is what the CDC has to say, buried in the technical bits:

"...these viruses naturally reside in an animal reservoir host or arthropod vector. They are totally dependent on their hosts for replication and overall survival. For the most part, rodents and arthropods are the main reservoirs for viruses causing VHFs. The multimammate rat, cotton rat, deer mouse, house mouse, and other field rodents are examples of reservoir hosts. "

Generally, for the entire class of viral hemorrhagic fevers.  Spencer had diarrhea before he went in to the hospital.  Ebola is known to be able to survive for 1-2 days outside the body.

And what can you do about it?  Not a darned thing.  What can the Mayor of NYC, and the Governor of NY do about it?  Not a thing; we'll just have to wait and see.

Amid all the utter nonsense still being broadcast by the major media; I found the video below yesterday.  I recommend it highly; and I'll say that scientifically, I'm in 100% agreement with this man's views.  But so far, he's the only one from the inside of the Epidemiology world who is pushing these points.  Keep in mind this is a talk to an audience primarily of his peers; highly educated public health workers.  Sometimes he talks very fast, and in jargon; but most of it is quite easily understood.

I admire Dr. Osterholm greatly- he has huge courage; and stamina, to speak out in this fashion.  It will make him no friends, and change few minds, and no one will ever thank him.  And he knows it; and keeps at it.  Someone made the mistake of placing him as Director of The Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.  How a diligent, intelligent, articulate, and fully competent scientist wound up in that seat, I do not know.

I won't try to imbed the video here, that seems to go goofy; so just go right to YouTube.

http://youtu.be/UkMKUa0sxBQ

Incidentally, I am not at all a fan of the person who posted the video; I'd have chosen differently, but this was the only version I could find.

And in Mali.  That story is a complete heartbreaker.  The stories haven't settled yet, but it's clear it was a small child- whose mother/ or father/ or grandmother (I've seen all 3) died of Ebola in Guinea; and relatives took the the child into Mali to place it with a relative who could care for it.  Ebola rode along; on "public transport"; the child has Ebola.



As Osterholm states, repeatedly; we don't know anything about the virus in this outbreak.  And the very most dangerous thing you can do; regarding controlling panic in the population - is lie to them,  Us.  When all the people in NYC do not believe what the "authorities" tell them- then we'll have chaos.

So; gloomy.  One weird cheerful aspect; a pessimist blogger is already on record as betting that now, no more doctors will travel to West Africa to help; because they are not truly protected.

I know a bunch of doctors.  I'm going to bet the opposite.  I will bet you there is a substantial uptick in US doctors volunteering to go.  You have to be crazy to want to be a doctor in the first place, right?  There you go.  Doctors want to be needed; it's a basic motivator.  Nobody needs them more than West Africa.

And hopefully, next time- returning doctors will go to a lovely lodge on an island off Maine; and stay there relaxing for a month.  No, not 21 days.  We utterly do not know that's a real limit; it's just the one we've seen so far.