COVID-19 is Airborne

This Viewpoint suggests that infection control guidelines should be re-evaluated to account for the predominance of small particles within infectious aerosols. Protective devices available to health-care workers have a range of protection, increasing from surgical masks to filtering facepiece respirators to powered air-purifying respirators. Although these are indicated for close encounters, their limitations highlight the need for improved administrative controls, such as more rapid diagnosis and isolation, and the development of vaccines and treatments. These data support calls for the recognition of aerosol (ie, traditional airborne) transmission of SARS-CoV-2.144 This could facilitate the use of enhanced dilution and directional ventilation and other environmental control options—eg, air disinfection with ultraviolet germicidal irradiation,145 which might be especially helpful in congregate settings such as nursing homes. Implementation of improved infection control measures could prevent future morbidity and mortality among health-care workers.

thelancet.com

It is airborne. I wish they would just come out and say the word airborne in the media that is targeted at the general public. The average person isn’t going to care about the vagaries of the scientific definition of airborne. A reproduction rate over 5 (which COVID can have) means that the transmission is functionally airborne. Why quibble over the semantics?

If airborne transmission were shown to be a major factor, some experts have suggested it could be helpful to wear masks indoors, even in settings where social distancing is being enforced; that tighter regulations may be needed for ventilation and air conditioning to minimise recirculating air; and that it may even be appropriate to install UV lights in some buildings to guard against potentially infectious particles.

theguardian.com

This article from the New York Times details investigations into methods of transmission aboard the Diamond Princess back in January. Nothing short of a properly adjusted N95 mask or multiple layers of cloth over the mouth and nose will keep you from catching the disease when someone is standing next to you has it. This makes Trump’s fumbling of the supply chains even more damning than I initially thought it was. If masks had been mandatory and available early, a good portion of the deaths we have seen across the country could have been avoided.

nytimes.com

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response

I’ve experienced this all my life. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting in a library or a classroom with people reading all around me, books quietly being opened, pages being turned, people whispering what they are reading to themselves, whispering to each other, and this feeling of being tickled in my brain, up and down along my arms and legs, a feeling of static electricity all over my skin surface would occur. It happened a lot.

I could not explain it. I didn’t even dare tell anyone about it for fear of being laughed at or being told I was hallucinating. The feelings persisted though, throughout my life. Anytime I was in a quiet space and these soft, rustling sounds would occur, I would get that familiar feeling.

I wondered about it a lot. I have a very active imagination. I wondered if I was telepathic or empathic or…? Even in my wildest flights of fancy, I couldn’t explain it. I dismissed the telepathic fantasy because I couldn’t actually hear people thinking, try as hard as I might. Dismissed the empathic fantasy because it didn’t seem to have anything to do with a particular emotion or set of emotions.

It was sounds and textures. Touching skin and moving my fingers softly up and down the skin causes the sensations, too. A few years ago I stumbled across the phrase autonomous sensory meridian response or ASMR, and I filed away the fact that there was an explanation for this weird thing I experienced. It was brought back to mind with this episode of Shortwave.

Short Wave – The Squishy Science Behind ASMR – October 17, 2019

It’s an encore episode, yeah I know. This was the video that I first watched way back when. Back when I first ran across the term ASMR and wondered if this was the thing that I experienced.

Accidentally GracefulASMR Unfiltered | Simple Sounds and Soft Whispers – Apr 30, 2015

Last year, when the Shortwave episode first aired, The Wife and I queued up some of the kinds of videos that the episode airs clips from. ASMR Darling, CosmicTingles, JellybeanASMR and others. We established pretty quickly that she did not get a reaction from any of the videos. She also noted the thing that the host of Shortwave first questioned. These are all young women. Is this sexual?

It isn’t sexual, although it might be related to a sexual response. Hard to say. I am not turned on by these young women. I find their crowding the microphones creepy. I understand that they have to be close to the mics in order for the soft sounds to be captured, but still. The mic isn’t the camera. Try backing away from the camera. You might discover that the ASMR response is higher if you aren’t looking at the video but just listening to it.

I haven’t tried playing with floam, the gag that Shortwave ended the episode with. The response can be triggered by tactile sensations, as I mentioned previously. I’m not a big slime enthusiast. It just isn’t my thing. Slime with styrofoam bits in it always struck me as pre-dirtied slime. Really not my thing. But put me in a crowded library with people quietly reading any day. It is an interesting (if slightly distracting) sensation to experience.

Daylight Swearing Time

It’s that time of year again. That time of year where you exclaim “Fuck! How did it get to be 4:30 am already?” It isn’t. Except it is now.

RAnt(hony)-ings

…And it will go on being 4:30 am at this time of night until after 2:00 AM on Sunday, November 1, 2020. Then it will be 3:30 AM again. At least I have that to look forward to in November.


Imagine just for a few minutes, what it would be like for your GPS to calculate time variance based on degrees of longitude rather than twenty-four one hour time zones. In the same way your phone can change times for daylight savings, it can change time to keep up with your actual position on the globe. The device that you already rely on to tell you what time it is could just do the time calculation for your location and actually tell you what the local time is. The satellites that control GPS already perform these calculations just to be able to talk to each other and establish UTC for themselves.

 I’m just not going to comply with Daylight Savings Time until somebody in authority can explain to me what we’ve been doing with all the daylight we’ve saved for the last 200 years.

I mean the interest alone on all those photons should be enough to power every solar panel in the country for the next decade.

I’m just saying, somebody owes me some sunlight here.

Stonekettle Station

Coronavirus Panic

How the Trump administration is incapable of preventing a panic due to the very nature of what the Trump administration is. Also, how can you tell if you have COVID-19? What should I do to avoid getting sick?

It is the last day of February 2020. It’s a leap year this year so that means the date is the 29th and not the usual 28th. Every four years we add in another day so that the calendar that most of human society uses to mark annual time doesn’t slip off of the real cycles of the planet around the day-star, what we refer to as the sun.

We add that day into the calendars every four years (Every year that is exactly divisible by four is a leap year, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100, but these centurial years are leap years if they are exactly divisible by 400) because generations of measuring solar data had revealed that the previous most common calendar, the Julian calendar (created in 709 AUC, 45 BC) was off by some increment of days in the year, even though it too had an additional day every four years. For more than 2000 years we have been able to mark time uniformly through the use of science and observation.

This is an ironical fact. That the day that exists where it does in the calendar, exists because of science, is the day that marks the first US death of a COVID-19 coronavirus sufferer. He, and probably most of the people in his nursing home, has died and will die because of the Trump administrations denial of science and facts. This latest death that can be blamed on the Trump administration is just the tip of the iceberg. Just the bit of hell that we are about to collide with over the coming months when it comes to this sociopathic president, the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) and his unwillingness to accept reality as it exists around him.

…But I’m jumping ahead to the end of the story. For those who haven’t been keeping track of the subject of this latest adventure in epidemiology, I penned a quick piece on the blog the first time I heard a news story about the subject. At the time I wondered about its origins, and whether it stemmed from loosely regulated Chinese genomic explorations. I titled it:

RAnt(hony)-ings

…but the virus was rather quickly determined to stem from wet markets in the Wuhan province of China (Revenge of the Pangolin? -ed.) where the first cases of the viral infection surfaced. That was a month ago. Today, at the end of February, we have the OHM insisting that this coronavirus is a thing that is magically going to be going away while the stock markets crash around him, and his yesmen are running around declaring that the stock markets are crashing because Democrats want to get rid of president Trump.

All Things Considered – How The United States Failed To See The Coronavirus Crisis Coming – April 3, 2020

We also have the Russians cooking up conspiracy fantasies and spreading them all over the internet, some of which are being spread by Stormtrumpers. So it is only a matter of time before the OHM starts demanding to have Bill Gates prosecuted for creating the COVID-19 virus. For all you people who think this is a grand conspiracy playing out around us; just ask yourselves, what does it say about your belief in an all-powerful government/corporate structure that the coronavirus is so ineffective at killing people?

We’re going to give everyone in the world a bad cold! Mwah, hah, hah, hah!

Now, a worldwide pandemic caused by a virus that bears similarity to four other cold viruses, one that is novel or new and so hasn’t been encountered by your immune system before, is going to have a higher death toll than you would get from a virus that a good number of people’s systems are already partially resistant to. The best minds that I’ve heard speak on the subject compare what is about to happen to the world to what occurred during the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918-1919 (Wikipedia) We can postulate a 2% death rate from the virus based on statistics from the countries where the virus first emerged and spread, which means that 98% of people who catch it will be fine (80% will be fine without medical intervention. 18% of those who require medical intervention will survive. -ed.) Like this guy’s story.

As of my most recent test, on Thursday, I am still testing positive for the virus. But by now, I don’t require much medical care. The nurses check my temperature twice a day and draw my blood, because I’ve agreed to participate in a clinical study to try to find a treatment for coronavirus. If I test negative three days in a row, then I get to leave.

Washington Post

As Jeff Jarvis noted on Twitter today, that report represents N=1 which makes it largely pointless. COVID-19 is a lot like the spanish flu in spread rates and death rates, as I noted previously. That means that if at least a billion people catch it, 20+ million people could die from it (214 million Americans infected, 1.7 million dead worst case projections from the CDC -ed.) So you will probably survive the virus if you get proper treatment and you aren’t in the group that is showing susceptibility to the virus. Who is in that group? People who have diabetes. People who have hypertension. People who have compromised immune systems. People like me, dear reader. You will probably live. I will probably die without hospitalization, and I might even die then.

Lipsitch predicts that, within the coming year, some 40 to 70 percent of people around the world will be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. But, he clarifies emphatically, this does not mean that all will have severe illnesses. “It’s likely that many will have mild disease, or may be asymptomatic,” he said. As with influenza, which is often life-threatening to people with chronic health conditions and of older age, most cases pass without medical care. (Overall, around 14 percent of people with influenza have no symptoms.)

Lipsitch is far from alone in his belief that this virus will continue to spread widely. The emerging consensus among epidemiologists is that the most likely outcome of this outbreak is a new seasonal disease—a fifth “endemic” coronavirus. With the other four, people are not known to develop long-lasting immunity. If this one follows suit, and if the disease continues to be as severe as it is now, “cold and flu season” could become “cold and flu and COVID-19 season.”

The Atlantic

Them’s the breaks. One might dismiss all of the noise around the emergence of COVID-19 as fruforaw, much like the noise and smoke around the so many other looming epidemics that have not turned out to be civilization ending events, if the stock markets hadn’t crashed and if the United States was actually prepared and ready for the millions of cases of people needing to be hospitalized and requiring ventilators in order to continue breathing and living. But we aren’t prepared, and therefore the smoke and noise probably conceal a real fire that needs addressing.

That part of the story was the good news, the part where 98% of the infected people will live. Now for the part where people are already dying here in the United States, today. The first death to the COVID-19 coronavirus here has been attributed to be this poor nameless man in Washington state (It wasn’t. The first death was weeks earlier in California. -ed.)

Health officials in Washington state said on Saturday a coronavirus patient has died, marking the first death in the U.S. from COVID-19, the illness associated with the virus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it’s responding to “the first possible outbreak” of the respiratory illness in a long-term care center in Washington. The death was not associated with that facility.

Health officials in Washington said 27 patients and 25 staff members at the center have symptoms associated with COVID-19.

NBCAPNew York Times

…which means that not only is the virus spreading in the US undetected, but that it has been spreading undetected in the US for at least two weeks already. The virus is spreading undetected because we have a president who is more concerned about re-election and the stock market than he is about the possible death toll that his mismanagement of this crisis might yield.

Mismanagement? Definitely. His political appointees to Health and Human Services (HHS) have violated CDC guidelines at every turn. They did not observe quarantine procedures in Japan where the passengers of the cruise ship were flown by helicopter after being evacuated from the ship. They then ignored the advice of these same officials and flew the sick people back to the United States.

TwitterNew York Magazine: Intelligencer

These same HHS officials violated quarantine on the Air Force base where the returnees from Japan were being housed, and then promptly got on planes full of people to fly back to the regions of the country that they had come from originally. All of them possibly infected with the virus that they were supposed to be trying to stop from spreading.

The CDC guidelines for dealing with the spread of infectious diseases have been built up over time, like our calendars and our understanding of the solar system was built up over time. Since Ignaz Semmelweis first proposed handwashing as a preventative to spreading puerperal fever among patients at the hospitals that he supervised, the ignorant have insisted that they knew better what should or shouldn’t be done when it came to the treatment of illness. Always, in the end, science wins out and procedures change so as to encompass the way the world really works, as opposed to the way that the ignorant want it to work.

Short Wave – The Surprising Origin Of Some Timely Advice: Wash Your Hands – January 31, 2020

The OHM doesn’t understand science. The Stormtrumpers who support him don’t understand science. His HHS political appointees don’t understand science. The Republican party itself not only doesn’t understand science, but actively denies science in their bid to stubbornly keep doing exactly the same thing they’ve been doing for the last hundred years. They deny science and their wilful ignorance might well get us all killed in the end, if the worst predictions of climate scientists come to be reality.

We have slowly clawed ourselves up over the course of millennia in our pursuit of understanding who we are and what our place in the universe is. That is what science is. It started with accurate measurements of the world and then the solar system more than two thousand years ago, and now we are mapping the genome and altering the course of mindless natural processes for the first time in man’s history. And the OHM wants us to throw it all away because he might not get re-elected if we do what we should be doing right now.

The OHM has put his Vice President, Mike Pence, in charge of the political process that will govern how we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. This fact should scare you if nothing else will. Mike Pence tried to cure the AIDS epidemic with prayer, when he was governor of Indiana. He prayed before he finally agreed to allow needle exchanges, which is probably code for he asked his wife what to do, and she slapped him and told him to allow the exchanges to occur.

However, Mike Pence will now control all communications at the federal level as it pertains to the emerging pandemic. Which means we won’t hear anything about the subject, except that it is all under control. They will be able to say this because they currently aren’t testing anyone for the virus (Now they say they will test. -editor) They aren’t testing because the first test kits they made were faulty and so did not give reliable results, and they aren’t approving widespread use of any new kits they might make.

It has gotten so bad that New York is now creating its own test kit so as to be certain that they will have enough kits to meet the projected demand for them in their state. They are only the first state to do this. Every US state will have to commision the creation of their own kits, eventually, if they are serious about tracking the progress of this virus across their populations.

The OHM will never admit that his own HHS officials spread the disease because of their reckless behavior, their violations of quarantine procedures. But the most likely culprits for these non-travel related COVID-19 cases are those very same officials. The science-denying president and his science-denying supporters are now betrayed by their own wilful ignorance. If the death toll of twenty million people could somehow be limited to their numbers, I would count that as justice served. It won’t happen like that, unfortunately. So millions of innocent people will now die because political operatives in the United States can’t bear to be held responsible for their own actions.

I thought we were supposed to be the free people. Freedonia? So much for that idea. Now our leaders are no better than the ayatollahs in Iran, pretending that our people are not dying while glorying in their ability to retain political power behind the mask of religion. This is what happens when you let the wrong people run your government. This is what happens when you deny science. I hope our children live long enough to learn from our bad examples.

Life Kit – 5 Ways To Prevent And Prepare For The Coronavirus – February 28, 2020 (Shortwave podcast)


On March 4th we learned that patients aren’t being tested, even though they showed symptoms for the COVID-19 virus. One of them was not tested for five days. Five days.

Morning Edition – Delays In Coronavirus Testing Creates Confusion, Questions – March 4, 2020

What are those symptoms?

COVID-19 symptoms can range from asymptomatic to severe pneumonia leading to organ failure and death. COVID-19 in most people is mild and resembles the common cold. According to the WHO, symptoms include fever (87.9%), dry cough (67.7%), fatigue (38.1%), sputum production (33.4%), shortness of breath (18.6%), sore throat (13.9%), headache (13.6%), muscle or joint aches (14.8%), chills (11.4%), nausea or vomiting (5.0%), nasal congestion (4.8%), diarrhea (3.7%), coughing up blood (0.9%), and conjunctival congestion (0.8%). Symptoms generally occur an average of 5-6 days after infection, but the range is from one to 14 days.

Sciencebasedmedicine.org

(graphic removed / text revised 3/17/20. I hated linking to a Medium article in the first place. Medium uses paywalls. -ed.)

Embedded – Covering Covid: Not Enough Tests – April 4, 2020

Our not testing people, canvassing cities looking for cases among the homeless, the park goers, the partiers, going door to door in residential areas, is how the spread of the virus continues unabated. Italy demonstrated this as reported today (March 17, 2020 – Financial Times) reducing transmission in the town where this has been tested to zero. You’d think we’d have figured this out given the excellent demonstration by South Korea (not to mention China and Singapore, but we don’t have to go as far as they did to have an impact) of the effectiveness of easy and thorough testing of the population, but apparently not.

The math is a known quantity. With an R0 (are-naught) over 2 the coronavirus spreads, and it spreads fast (the R0 in Wuhan might have been as high as 6 before China cracked down and forced quarantine. It could be as high as 6 to 9 if we were not trying to practice social distancing. What is R0? -ed) The fact that people can be (and frequently are) asymptomatic means that there are a lot of infected people out there who don’t even know that they are already infected. If you are in the groups that are at risk (elderly, immunocompromised, hypertension, lung disease, diabetes, etc) then you should not be in a group of people that you don’t already spend all your time around, and those people should not be near other people if they can help it. Those are the math facts that we have to deal with for at least the next month, and I say we because I am a member of the at-risk group just like a lot of other people.

Here are some tips from a virologist concerning how to avoid infections, viral or otherwise:

  1. NO HANDSHAKING! Use a fist bump, slight bow, elbow bump, etc.
  2. Use ONLY your knuckle to touch light switches. elevator buttons, etc.. Lift the gasoline dispenser with a paper towel or use a disposable glove.
  3. Open doors with your closed fist or hip – do not grasp the handle with your hand, unless there is no other way to open the door. Especially important on bathroom and post office/commercial doors.
  4. Use disinfectant wipes at the stores when they are available, including wiping the handle and child seat in grocery carts.
  5. Wash your hands with soap for 10-20 seconds and/or use a greater than 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer whenever you return home from ANY activity that involves locations where other people have been.
  6. Keep a bottle of sanitizer available at each of your home’s entrances. AND in your car for use after getting gas or touching other contaminated objects when you can’t immediately wash your hands.
  7. If possible, cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue and discard. Use your elbow only if you have to. The clothing on your elbow will contain infectious virus that can be passed on for up to a week or more!

From Snopes.com: Did a Noted Pathologist Write This Viral Coronavirus Advice Letter? (yes he did) I’m going to have to work on not shaking hands. I’ve trained myself not to touch my face over the course of the last fifteen years, ever since my immunologist informed me I was immune compromised. Realizing that having to take antibiotics was the least worst outcome (worst? Painful death) from casually infecting myself with pathogens that I willingly put on my face, in my eyes and nose.

I don’t use the sanitizers much because I have been a compulsive hand washer since I was pre-pubescent. I have to make myself not scrub the skin off my hands on a regular basis. He goes on to recommend zinc lozenges later in the quoted text. Taking zinc to prevent or limit infections borders on woo for me. But, if it makes you feel better to take it, knock yourself out. I won’t be doing that.

Short Wave – Coronavirus Can Live On Surfaces For Days – March 18, 2020

…and be ready to do all that you can (within reason) to avoid getting sick. The Trump administration will not be letting just anybody get the COVID-19 vaccine if one becomes available.

TwitterForbes

WikiTribune has a Sub-Wiki for the COVID-19 epidemic. If you are like me and want to be up to date on the subject of the now-occurring pandemic, feel free to join me over on WT.Social.

I don’t have an account for the site at this link Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE but here is a image of the site as it displayed on March the 5th. The timestamp will tell you what time in the morning I was still obsessively working on the blog.

Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE

That link may or may not give you the site. I have no idea. Modeling scenarios run along these lines,

Here’s the grimmest version of life a year from now: More than two million Americans have died from the new coronavirus, almost all mourned without funerals. Countless others have died because hospitals are too overwhelmed to deal adequately with heart attacks, asthma and diabetic crises. The economy has cratered into a depression, for fiscal and monetary policy are ineffective when people fear going out, businesses are closed and tens of millions of people are unemployed. A vaccine still seems far off, immunity among those who have recovered proves fleeting and the coronavirus has joined the seasonal flu as a recurring peril.

Yet here’s an alternative scenario for March 2021: Life largely returned to normal by the late summer of 2020, and the economy has rebounded strongly. The United States used a sharp, short shock in the spring of 2020 to break the cycle of transmission; warm weather then reduced new infections and provided a summer respite for the Northern Hemisphere. By the second wave in the fall, mutations had attenuated the coronavirus, many people were immune and drugs were shown effective in treating it and even in reducing infection. Thousands of Americans died, mostly octogenarians and nonagenarians and some with respiratory conditions, but by February 2021, vaccinations were introduced worldwide and the virus was conquered.

New York Times

To get to the better modeling scenario we need to flatten the curve,

Twitter – Dr. Siouxsie Wiles h/t to Sciencebasedmedicine.org

…and raise the line,

Twitter – Benjamin Kerr h/t to Liz Specht whose tweet I removed in favor of the NYT opinion article that offered an over/under analysis of the pandemic modeling. I also removed the tweet from drg1985 (Dr. David Robert Grimes) because, while his input was helpful at the time, it wasn’t really what I described it as when I first wrote this article. -ed.

There are no treatments for infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (Covid-19) no matter what the OHM says or tweets about. If you haven’t figured that out already, then I’m amazed that you can tie your shoelaces by yourself in the morning.

sciencebasedmedicine.org

Quinine is an ingredient in a proper gin & tonic. It is not a real treatment for illness no matter what anyone tells you. Quinine was a treatment for Malaria more than a century ago. Malaria still exists because we’ve never developed a vaccine for it. Maybe now that malaria is appearing in Florida again we will get around to that.


On March 16th the national directive to practice social distancing was issued, but without any enforcement provisions at the local level. We are now eight days into the fifteen days that the OHM originally requested, and some cities (Austin) and states (Texas) are issuing directives based on their powers to quarantine as established in previous epidemics. If you think that social distancing and mandated quarantines are not effective, look at this comparison chart and see the difference a few days made.

The Rachel Maddow show – April 23, 2020 (Feedly download link for the video)(A better image from later in the pandemic -ed.)
RACHEL MADDOW – Doctor whose prescience saved countless lives reflects on first stay-at-home order – April 23, 2020

We have yet to see if the state or federal governments have made any headway towards ending this crisis by mandating a ramping up of production of necessary goods or by authorizing the creation of necessary extra hospital beds. (No. They didn’t. -ed.) The OHM is busy trying to steal money from the American people by creating a 500 billion dollar slush fund that his treasury secretary can then hand straight over to him as compensation for all his golf courses and hotels being closed. Not happening.


Editor’s note. I pulled the last addendum from the Crake article I wrote in January (and linked previously) and I moved it here and expanded on it significantly. I’m freaking out about the virus as I sit here editing, and I know that freaking out is not helpful.

Voilà, I’ve written a sanity mantra that I can read to myself as many times as it takes to put myself to sleep until this pandemic has run its course. May we all be there to witness that. I am scrapping most attempts at further writing on this subject and burying myself in World of Warcraft for the next two weeks, two months, however long it takes. Maybe something non-virus-related will occur to me in the meantime. As I come across new information on the pandemic I may or may not edit it into this article. So if the article looks like it has changed, I have now told you that it would.

Everything we do before a pandemic will seem alarmist. Everything we do after a pandemic will seem inadequate.

Michael Levitt, former Secretary of Health and Human Services

Blue Dot is 30

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

Carl Sagan – Pale Blue Dot
NASA/JPL – Voyager 1 image of the Earth

In 1989, Voyager 1 was about to leave our Solar System. Dr. Sagan, who was a member of the mission’s imaging team, pleaded with NASA officials to turn the camera around and take one last look back at Earth before the spaceship left our solar system.

He then presented that grainy image of the pale blue dot to the world in this press conference.

The Planetary SocietyCarl Sagan unveils the Pale Blue Dot, 1990

Hat/tip to the Planetary Society. The featured image is the composite family portrait that the blue dot picture is part of.


Editor’s note. I ran across a story a few months ago that reminded me of this photograph, and while I was digging up the image at the Planetary Society website I realized that the image would be thirty years old today.

Rather than quote a story written for the twenty-sixth anniversary I wrote the above quick piece and scheduled it for the thirtieth anniversary date. NASA had been planning for this date longer than I had, though. They had been working on an updated image, and they had scheduled the release of the image for the day before the actual date so that news of it would make headlines on papers and websites well in advance of the anniversary. That’s the kind of impression you can make when you wield the manpower and economic force of a national agency.

nasa.gov

Daily Beef: Essential Oil Isn’t

It’s all the rage these days. You can’t swing a dead cat on the internet without hitting someone trying to sell you essential oil.

Our presenters will explain how to build a daily immune boosting routine, how to manage digestive issues, how to use oils during your pregnancy and so much more! Plus, we’ll have a special guest talking about why we created the Online Oil Oasis. You won’t want to miss a single minute!

DoTerra promotional information

Mother was into essential oils for the last few years of her life. Right up to the point where the cancer she refused to admit she had killed her. Part of her insistence on doing things the natural way was from her early education in Christian Science. At some point during her life she shifted god into nature and was convinced that living naturally, organically, was good for her. She did fine with that belief until she started denying the findings of science.

It is a common delusion. Much more common than Christian Science itself is. Most people think organic and natural signify good things until you point out to them that poisons are natural and organic. They are simply natural or organic poisons. Too much water can kill you, as the most basic example. Organic simply means that whatever the product is, it once was alive. Natural means that it can be found in nature. That’s it. That is all that the words mean.

An essential oil contains the smell of the thing. That’s all they are, the smell conveying particles of whatever is infused into the oil. There is no more and no less to the product being marketed as essential. Marketed as something you need or require, need or require being mistaken for smell (essentia) Essential, not essential. It smells like something, not you need that something.

The real problem I have with essential oils is the exaggeration of their effects. If the only claim that proponents of essential oils made was “this smells good, I think you’ll enjoy it” I wouldn’t be writing this at all. That’s not the case, though. The benefits of essential oils are exaggerated because exaggeration sells. Websites like this one make extraordinary health claims like curing colds, asthma, bronchitis, hypertension, liver congestion, heart palpitations, depression, and boosting your immune system (what does that even mean?).Other websites make fanciful claims like “restore your body’s natural energy balance” – a claim so bad it’s not even wrong.

Skeptoid

Every time I go on a Meniere’s help group or talk to a layperson about my disability, almost without fail, someone will suggest I try some essential oils because they will fix whatever problem I’m complaining about at the time. Never fails. These days I have to actively restrain my own desire to lash out when whoever it is looks down their nose at me and pronounces the phrase essential oil.

I’ve tried essential oils. I still have some DoTerra oils that mom had amongst her possessions when we cleaned out her apartment. Tons of DoTerra branded products from vial purses to empty sample containers to dozens if not hundreds of different types of oils that she had read somewhere did this or that for her.

The Breathe formulation does open the sinuses when rubbed under the nose. Several of the essences in the formulation are known astringents. Astringents cause the skin to tighten, opening passages in the sinuses if you rub the oil under your nose. This is a known effect discovered by science. This isn’t because it is natural or organic, it is the chemical formulation that has this effect, an effect that can be duplicated artificially if needed. It’s simply cheaper to get the essence from the natural source. If it isn’t cheaper there are artificial manufacturers out there supplying the cheaper product. The chemical process will still work exactly the same, and you can save a buck at the same time.

The Digestzen has ginger in it. Ginger has long been used to calm digestion. I prefer chewing a Gin-gins to the grassy flavor of Digestzen, and excessive oil in the stomach is an agitant all in itself. Have a ginger ale. It’s all natural.

I can (and probably eventually will) go through every single oil that people offer to me as something that will fix my vertigo and dizziness. Mom offered me dozens when she was still with us. None of her magic concoctions worked. I wanted her concoctions to work, which is half of the necessary equation. The other half, science, simply wasn’t there to put the treatment over the line to make it effective. If it didn’t work when mom dispensed it, it isn’t going to work when a stranger suggests it. Zip it before I lose my temper and tell you what I really think of your woo.

Climate Change: Australia’s Wildfires

The fires raging across the southern half of the Australian continent this year have so far burned through more than 5 million hectares. To put that in context, the catastrophic 2018 fire season in California saw nearly 740,000 hectares burned. The Australian fire season began this year in late August (before the end of our winter). Fires have so far claimed nine lives, including two firefighters, and destroyed around 1,000 homes. It is too early to tell what the toll on our wildlife has been, but early estimates suggest that around 500 million animals have died so far, including 30 percent of the koala population in their main habitat. And this is all before we have even reached January and February, when the fire season typically peaks in Australia.

Scientific American Blogs

Hat/Tip to Cool Physics and Mopery With Intent to Gawk

New York Times: The Daily
Stitcher – The Daily – January 13, 2020


Today, ExplainedOne billion animals dead – Monday, January 13, 2019

Feedback for Tom Steyer

I’m the only candidate who will declare a national climate emergency on day one of my presidency. If the climate crisis is one of your top issues, chip in $1 to our campaign today.

Posted by Tom Steyer on Sunday, December 29, 2019
Facebook – Tom Steyer

I welcome all who want to contribute to the conversation to the table. The problem with this single-issue approach is that the president doesn’t (or shouldn’t) propose legislation except in a general sense. The president needs to do things like keep the peace with other nations (like Iran) and handle crisis like hurricanes and earthquakes (See Puerto Rico) the climate falls into that latter category, but it still falls to the legislature to write the laws that the executive then enforces.

Climate is near the top if not actually at the top of problems that need fixing. It simply isn’t the only problem that needs to be addressed right now. Personally? I’m still voting Elizabeth Warren.

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Fish Oil

I was prescribed fish oil in the last year of the last millennium. Fish oil was supposed to treat my triglyceride levels that had topped 300 at the time. This was back in the days when there was just fish oil, and you took a lot of it. There was little understanding of what was desired in the supplement, but the doctors back then were pretty sure that you should be taking fish oil on a daily basis to lower bad blood cholesterol. I was prescribed nine 1400 milligram softgels, to be taken every single day. That meant that everything tasted like fish oil for several years. Everything tasted like fish oil until they started enteric coating the softgels. I got pretty creative with how I took them, so as to limit the flavor and gas that the fish oil imparted to everything. There was no mention of what kind of fish oil in that original script. Omega 3 might have been a known thing at that point, but it wasn’t on my radar.

As we scrolled past 2000 and headed for the middle of the next decade, researchers started to get a better understanding of what kind of fish oil was desired. That was when Omega 3 fish oil became a thing. Omega 3 was what they were finding made the difference. When I learned this fact I did the math and figured out that I could cut my dosage to two or three softgels if I bought the right kind of fish oil, a reduction that was grudgingly okayed by my GP of the time.

But then the next set of research results came back, and it looked like the researchers were backpedaling on the benefits of fish oil in avoiding heart attacks. I tried to get the doctors to let me stop taking the stuff because I hated having to work around the taste of the oil in the back of my throat all the time. At every visit, the general practitioner and then the cardiologist kept insisting that I had to keep taking the nauseating stuff. I humored them and kept taking it, but I stopped worrying about how much and how often.

Fresh Air – The Science And Environmental Hazards Behind Fish Oil Supplements – July 9, 2018

I stopped worrying until the last of my current keg ‘o fish oil from the warehouse shopping club started to run low, and I went looking for a replacement bottle. It was when I checked the Omega 3 content of the brand I had been taking against the new bottle’s Omega 3 content that I realized that I had been slacking off the one thing that might have been keeping my cholesterol at bay. That my recent adventures with angioplasty might have been partly of my responsibility. The brand I had been taking had about a third of the Omega 3 of the brand that I had just purchased. Which meant I should have been taking 9 of the damn things just like I had been doing at the beginning. So the bottle that I had been dipping out of for over a year probably should have only lasted about 3 months, and there is no telling for how long I haven’t been meeting the minimum dosage of Omega 3 that the cardiologist expects me to take.

Healthline – 17 Science-Based Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

How much is that? you might well ask. I had no idea, so I asked the cardiologist today and they said EPA over 660 DHA over 60, twice a day. I had to look on the bottle label to find out what EPA and DHA were references for, and only then realized that EPA and DHA are two different kinds of Omega 3.

1400 mg of fish oil is a completely misleading measurement, and a straight reading of Omega 3 isn’t enough to know whether what I’m taking is the right stuff or not. Nope, now I need to be taking those two specific variants of Omega 3 (EPA and DHA) and those are the minimum numbers, twice a day.

If I die from a heart attack, it will be obscure nomenclature that kills me. You can put that on my tombstone.

Tricorder?

Magnetic lines of force … or actually Christmas lights on a canopy making a tunnel over the road? All three pictures…

Posted by Jim Wright on Friday, December 20, 2019
Facebook – Stonekettle Station

Stonekettle Station has a tricorder. Well, almost a tricorder. If the device captured all measurable energy in the recording field and not just the visible light, they’d have a tricorder. The future is now.

In the science-fictional Star Trek universe, a tricorder is a multifunction hand-held device used for sensor (environment) scanning, data analysis, and recording data.

On May 10, 2011, the X Prize Foundation partnered with Qualcomm Incorporated to announce the Tricorder X Prize, a $10 million incentive to develop a mobile device that can diagnose patients as well as or better than a panel of board-certified physicians.[12] On Jan 12, 2012, the contest was officially opened at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.[13][14] Early entrants to the competition include two Silicon Valley startups,[15] Scanadu and Senstore, which began work on the medical tricorder in early 2011.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tiny Christmas Planet. Sowell Farms, Milton, Florida. Private farm that puts up thousands of lights every year for a…

Posted by Jim Wright on Thursday, December 19, 2019
Facebook – Stonekettle Station