Repairing Pandemic Damage Not All That is Needed Now

To repair the damage done by these people in these times will not be easy. I may not see the wounds mended in my lifetime. It may take a generation or more. The social damage of the pandemic itself, the fear of our old social lives, in bars and restaurants and dance halls and sports stadiums, will take time to heal (although a percentage of people seem to know no fear already). We will hug and kiss again. But will there still be movie theaters? Will there be bookstores? Will we feel okay in crowded subway cars?

wapo/salman-rushdie

I would say that the lack of workers volunteering to die for minimum wage across the United States today in what is rapidly becoming a post-pandemic world says volumes about the actual rethinking that is going on right now. Whether we will turn these things we’ve learned about ourselves and our world into real world changes remains the question. I will say that if we don’t make the changes, heal the breaches in our lifetimes, those ills will fester and re-emerge the next time society hits a breaking point.

It wasn’t the name of the black man that police killed that made last summer’s protests a fulcrum to leverage change. It was simply the fact that the policeman killed another black man while the rest of the world was forced to watch him do it. The pandemic made change possible by forcing the entire world to become passive observers of what the rest of the world was doing in their lives and in their essential work. Essential work that appears to include killing random black people in every corner of the United States.

The next time we are strapped down and stretched thin like we were last summer, there might be some other breaking point that appears and fulminates the last great war, rather than just a call for the equal justice we all were promised. We really can’t afford to keep kicking the can down the road. We need to step up and make the changes now while the motivation is fresh and our intentions pure. I’m becoming deathly afraid that we don’t know how act of pure intention anymore, or even act at all.

facebook

Salman Rushdie: I’ve seen dictators rise and fall. Beware, America.

These “audits” don’t have to find anything; the fact that they exist at all is enough to do what they are designed to do: undermine voters’ faith in the system at the same time they indicate that no election result that elects a Democrat is legitimate.

heathercoxrichardson/june-3-2021

Long Haul COVID

spotifyVox – Unexplainable – The viral ghosts of long Covid

Covid-19 appears to be one of many infections, from Ebola to strep throat, that can give rise to stubborn symptoms in an unlucky subset of patients. “It is more typical than not that a virus infection leads to long-lasting symptoms in some fraction of individuals,” Iwasaki said.

In this week’s episode of Unexplainable, we dive into what we know about long Covid and what other viruses can teach us about the condition, including the leading hypotheses for what might be driving symptoms in Covid long-haulers.

Vox

I suspect that Long Haul is a syndrome like most sufferers understand Meniere’s to be; a group of symptoms that have divergent causes. It is the only way to explain the varied treatment outcomes. The people who don’t find relief from being vaccinated for SARS-Cov2 probably do have an immune system problem and not reservoirs of the virus. It is entirely likely that both causes are simultaneously true for different sufferers.

Meniere’s treatments that I find give me relief do cause worse symptoms for other sufferers. Different causes is the most likely explanation for these results.

From a letter to Vox

More than half of the 236 million people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 worldwide since December 2019 will experience post-COVID symptoms — more commonly known as “long COVID” — up to six months after recovering, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers. The research team said that governments, health care organizations and public health professionals should prepare for the large number of COVID-19 survivors who will need care for a variety of psychological and physical symptoms.

sciencedaily h/t to SGU #849

Anti-Vaccination Agitation

One way to look at it is this – a small minority now has the ability to hijack public health policy by waging their own shadow campaign on social media. They are accountable to no one. They can force the expenditure of limited public health dollars just to minimize the effect of their own campaigns. This is also an asymmetric campaign, because it is much easier to spread fear than proper information. At the very least it is reasonable to filter out their harmful misinformation from private platforms. Panels of experts can be used to provide the filter, and fair processes can be made available for appeals. At the very least these options need to be explored.

Sciencebasedmedicine.org
Sciencebasedmedicine.org

This article was about Gardasil. The vaccination worked, but social conservatives hated it because it gave women permission to be promiscuous. Think about what that means. They wanted people to suffer and die from a preventable cancer rather than vaccinate them against the cause of that cancer on the grounds that sex outside of marriage is bad and should be discouraged. They used vaccine fear to wage a war against this vaccine, and this isn’t even the first time, nor was it the last.

facebook/Stonekettle

That is the Conservative-Republican-Trumpist line now about the coronavirus vaccine:

Oh, we’re not anti-vax. We just don’t think vaccines work.

…Strangely, it is the same argument they offer about their obvious racism. What their resistance is about now is still religion. Their religion of conservatism. Their invented Republican Jesus, the one who loves capitalism and profit more than he does the poor and the sick. Their belief that government can’t do anything good in the world.

I’ve heard this pushback from dozens of sources now. They just object to this one vaccination, not the general idea that vaccinations work. Either the science is real, or it isn’t. Either we have stopped Small Pox, Polio, etcetera through vaccination, or the entire business is a sham. A con job. Pick one side people, because it can’t be both sides at the same time. The vaccine works. It works and you should get it.

Postscript

This was originally posted as a quote on January 11, 202o and I have advanced and appended the quote with the current coronavirus crap. I have cut ties to family members now over this subject. When I found out that some of them had not gotten the vaccination recently, I wrote and then sent them a link to the recently published WWBD? A humorous dig at their reticence, their refusal to admit that medicine works.

I had not realized how deep the science denial goes in my family. One of them promptly stopped speaking to me. The other one sent me this article:

From recent reports it looks like this new variant we call Omicron, but I prefer to call #Moronic, will likely replace the Delta variant here and across the world IF it continues to spread like it has in South Africa. Good news is that in the about 3 weeks since Omicron made the news, there have been few hospitalizations and only one death as a result of Omicron which we are not sure if it was FROM Omicron or WITH Omicron.

therealdrstevenhorvitz

When I tried to explain to them that they had fallen prey to the same kind of snake oil salesman that had hoodwinked my mother all her life, that had me talking about waking up the sheeple for more than ten years, they promptly stopped talking to me as well.

Steven Horvitz D.O. is definitely coming right out of the same libertarian vein that most of the “I’m free to do whatever I want so fuck you” mentality that I was a part of during my early political activism. It is too early to say anything about the Omicron variant aside from noting that it spreads like wildfire and will soon overtake the Delta variant just as predicted. We won’t know how deadly it will be until long after that point, so the good doctor’s feigned knowledge on the subject is 99.9% bluster. (Dr. Steven Novella on Omicron)

Which is fine. If I can’t convince them to save their own lives, I’m not going to waste energy trying to save them from themselves without their begging me to help first. Since they’ve rarely had more than ridicule to vent at me for most of my life, I see little chance of them begging me for anything until long after Hell freezes over.

Accendi l’arcobaleno (Light Up the Rainbow)

I can’t understand a word of this song, but it still moves me to tears:

Accendi l’arcobaleno Song by Andrea Mingardi Simona Camosci and Coro in corsia

The composition reminds me of the way that We Are the World was presented back at the dawn of time, internet-wise. According to the segment of Deutsche Welle – Inside Europe 18.03.2021 (Dany Mitzman) that brought the song to my attention, the proceeds from the sales of the song will go to funding the education of more nurses in Italy and Europe. (Spotify Link)

“At that time of turmoil and sadness, and a profound need to cling on to something good, I wanted to write optimistic lyrics that would project me towards the end of this tragic event,” she tells the BBC.

When the Covid crisis hit Bologna early last March, she had just transferred from the local health centre to a specialist hospital clinic. After 36 years, she had been hoping to spend the final chapter of her career in a less frenetic environment.

Within a week her new workplace had become Bologna’s designated Covid hospital and she was at the checkpoint, filtering patients.

Simona’s idea was to put together a group of nurses to record the song, then use it to raise money to set up bursaries at the University of Bologna. If there was one thing the pandemic had highlighted, it was the scarcity of qualified nursing staff in Italy.

BBC

A hat/tip is owed to sky.it. It was because I discovered the video on their site that I knew it had to exist somewhere. Damn, was it hard to find on Youtube. The only way I ended up finding the official Youtube video was to follow a link from this Facebook profile that came up in a Google search for the nurses name. A hat/tip is owed to them as well. The fundraising link triggers trojan warnings on my internet security program, so I haven’t been able to go to the site without disabling security and I don’t have a disposable computer system to surf with at the moment. I consider that sentence to be a Fair warning for anyone who is concerned about internet security.

Mandated Vaccination

facebook.com/Stonekettle

The Atlantic & WNYC – The Experiment: The Crime of Refusing Vaccination – MARCH 25, 202

The Jacobson v. Massachusetts decision made clear that the government could mandate vaccination, arguing that collective good sometimes outweighs individual rights. But the line between the two is blurry. More than two decades after Jacobson’s case, the Court used the same logic in another decision, one the historian Michael Willrich says is among the “scariest U.S. Supreme Court decisions of all time.”

The episode of The Experiment that is embedded above illustrates how easily we can be manipulated into thinking something that is good for us is bad, and it illustrates that the converse is also true. It is illegal to refuse vaccination when that vaccination is mandated by government, that is a basic public health criteria. This isn’t about you and your vaccine fears anymore than it is about me and mine. this is about keeping everyone in the population as healthy as we can, and the way to do that is to make sure that we achieve and maintain herd immunity through vaccination for easily communicable diseases.

This is why you should get your influenza vaccination as well as all the other vaccinations on the list of required vaccinations. Get them because you care about the people around you more than you care for yourself. If you can’t find it in yourself to do it for other people, do it so that you don’t get sick from an easily preventable disease. Wish for a vaccination for every communicable disease that you might casually be exposed to so that you don’t die from that disease, either (I see you hiding over there, Malaria) I do, and I hate needles more than anything else I encounter in day to day life.

I have little doubt that Stonekettle is right in the article embedded above. There is too much bullshit out there circulating for this to not be something that Russia is trying to seed throughout the United States in order to weaken us. That other shoe will drop eventually (if we can’t just take past actions as proof in and of itself) and then we’ll know for sure who is spreading the anti-vaccination bullshit this time around aside from the anti-vax idiots in our midst.

There should be a mandate to get the COVID vaccine just as there is for all the other vaccinations we undergo. The influenza vaccination should be mandated as well.  What form that mandate takes is the only real question left to answer. Do we just pass a law making refusing a vaccination a crime again, or do we try to nudge people in the direction of doing the right thing without holding guns to their head to get them to do it? Americans can’t seem to get away from doing everything that they can at the point of a gun. Maybe we should try something different for once.

Vaccination

I received the first injection of the Moderna vaccine yesterday. The Wife, in one of her near-daily outings to the doctor’s offices for the many (and growing) pains that plague her existence, noticed that there was a pop-up vaccination clinic at the hospital where her doctors offices are located, so she did what she always does when presented with an opportunity. She seized it. She got us both an appointment for the next day, and we went to get our first injections of the COVID vaccine.

We both have been on the list here in Austin for over a month now. I didn’t think I would qualify as 1-B. She did qualify when she checked and she begged me to check to see if I qualified or not. Sure enough, when I (honestly) answered all the questions asked, lo and behold I am also at risk and qualified to get the vaccine. Apparently, having a suppressed immune system is worth something after all.

The arm that I got the jab in is more than a bit sore today, and I feel like I’ve got a mild cold, the kind of cold that you almost feel ashamed to call into work to ask for time off for. Coughing, low fever, aches and pains. The stress is setting off my meniere’s symptoms too, but all in all this is a cakewalk. I’ve seen worse.

Short Wave – Afraid of Needles? You’re Not Alone – September 20, 2021

When I was a child I had to get a penicillin injection for some malady or other, I don’t remember what it was. The doctor and nurse failed to understand the fight or flight response that I would respond with after being jabbed in the ass with a needle, and the needle nearly broke off in my ass before the nurse and my mother managed to get me restrained. That is my first conscious memory of being vaccinated or injected with anything. It has colored my relationship with the medical profession and their favorite tool, the hypodermic needle, ever since.

Every time, through grade school, junior high, high school and into adulthood, every vaccination, from the TB tine test to the tetanus shot I had to get after stepping on a nail on a construction site somewhere, all of them have been greeted with the knowledge that this was the time when the needle would get me. It was finally going to kill me, like it tried to do that first time. None of those experiences come close to the one I had while trying to determine if I had a problem with my immune system.

Back when I was looking into causes for my Meniere’s symptoms, I consulted many specialists about possible conditions that could have lead to these symptoms. I have long thought that allergies were at the root of the cause for me, and I still don’t know one way or the other if this is true. But during the investigation I discovered that my immune system seemed a little sluggish, and the immunologist suggested we do a test to see if it really was a problem or not. I figured why not, and so I agreed to get a vaccination known as PPSV23 (Pneumococcal vaccine) and then get myself tested again to see how well my immune system responded to the vaccine.

After they jabbed me with that one, I really did think I was going to die, and the symptoms that I had following the vaccination only persuaded me further that this was true. Cold sweats. Hot flashes. Confusion. Body aches that had me hardly moving at all. The lymph node under my left arm, the arm that got the injection, swelled up to the size of a golf ball. I could barely move the arm, and I was essentially bedridden for a week with these symptoms.

After everything had cleared up, I got the immune test done and sure enough, the immune response was less than it should have been. A little more investigation showed, however, that I hadn’t gotten PPSV23 but instead gotten PCV13 (fewer variants) which meant that if I wanted to know how well my immune system responded to the correct vaccine, I’d have to repeat the experience again. So I did it. Again. As repeat performances go, that one was just as painful as the first one was, and as I was laying there bedridden for a second week, I realized on some level just how much my anxiety about the needle really made the entire experience so much worse than it had to be. The dread of the shot really wasn’t warranted, in a general sense. Because no experience before that one had been nearly as bad, and yet I still survived it, too.

Since that time I’ve gotten my flu shots twice a year, every year. I’ve donated blood a half-dozen times. Every time the needle is there and I just can’t look at it. Not if I want to stay sane. Every time the aftermath has been a cakewalk compared to those pneumonia vaccines. This vaccine, the COVID vaccine? It too is a cakewalk. I won’t be doing much other than watching TV for a few days. Even so, my lymph nodes are not visible under the skin yet; and for me, that is what cakewalk means when it comes to encounters with the needle.

texasstandard.org/typewriter rodeo

Featured image from NIH: Peer-reviewed report on Moderna COVID-19 vaccine publishes

Postscript

The second dose is frequently rumored to be much worse than the initial dose. I can only say that my second dose was less painful the first day, more painful the second day, and almost unnoticeable every day since. Other than the conviction that I was about to die for half of this last Saturday, from chest congestion that felt remarkably like pneumonia as well as body and joint aches that kept me from moving other than getting up to go to the bathroom, the experience has been a cakewalk, just like I said before. Much easier than getting a cold or the flu, which is not as bad as the disease this is a prevention for.

Don’t be stupid, go get vaccinated!

How does the mRNA vaccine work? Seize the forks!
Vick KrishnaHow mRNA Vaccines Work? – Mar 13, 2021

h/t to NPR’s Shortwave.

SpotifyShortwave – The Past, Present and Future of mRNA Vaccines
The EconomistGamechangers: Don’t shoot the messenger

The J&J vaccine is no different than any other vaccine ever produced. Go get that one if mRNA vaccines scare you, but got get a vaccination for crying out loud!

Trump Impeachment Anniversary

A year ago today, the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

In his plea to Senators to convict the president, Adam Schiff (D-CA), the lead impeachment manager for the House, warned “you know you can’t trust this president to do what’s right for this country.” Schiff asked: “How much damage can Donald Trump do between now and the next election?” and then answered his own question: “A lot. A lot of damage.” “Can you have the least bit of confidence that Donald “How much damage can Donald Trump do between now and the next election?” and then answered his own question: “A lot. A lot of damage.” “Can you have the least bit of confidence that Donald Trump will… protect our national interest over his own personal interest?” Schiff asked the senators who were about to vote on Trump’s guilt. “You know you can’t, which makes him dangerous to this country.’’

Heather Cox Richardson

A year later, a month away from Trump’s ouster from the White House after losing the election to Joe Biden, the damage that President Trump has done is all around us, impossible to ignore:

The Senators who voted to acquit President Trump are accomplices in the murders of all of the people who died unnecessarily this year. They are accomplices in the theft and corruption that they have enabled over all of the span of the Trump administration. The most corrupt administration in the history of the United States, hands down. They are as guilty as Trump is when it comes to the destruction of the US economy, a destruction that they are now stoking in hopes of destroying any chance of Biden being able to be successful in reviving the country before 2022.

These are the kinds of people that the Republican party sends to Washington. These are the values of the party of the Moral Majority laid bare. President Trump is actively working to destroy the country, and Mitch McConnell is helping him. Who wants to bet that the slowdown in delivery of the Pfizer vaccine isn’t Caudito Trump lashing out at the American public who rejected him?

Rachel Maddow won’t say it, but I will. I will go so far as to suggest that this is not only possible but probable. When Trump and his Republican lackies are willing to risk the kinds of global destruction we are potentially heading for right now if the United States collapses in upon itself in an orgy of self-destruction, what it means to plan for the failure of the Biden administration, the notion that a petty narcissist would stop delivery of life-saving medication out of spite is entirely believable.

What Trumpismo and its supporters have done is prove that Adam Schiff and the Democrats who impeached President Trump a year ago undersold us on the hazard that the country could face in his hands. If only we could go back in time, what would we say to them? What could we say to the Republican base that might possibly have changed their minds?

300,000 Dead Americans

We went from 200,000 to 300,000 in less than three months.

We hit 100,000 officially dead to the Coronavirus back on May 27th. It took 4 months to get to 200,000 from that number. It is expected we will hit 400,000 dead by January 20th, a mere 2 months away.

Joe BidenPresident-elect Biden Delivers Remarks on the Electoral College Vote Certification

I wouldn’t even have known we passed 300,000 today if Joe Biden hadn’t observed that we passed that landmark after marking the victory that was recorded by the electoral college today. A grim pairing for a grim year.

Fuck you 2020. Let’s hope your next of kin is kinder than you were.


I hate being right.

washingtonpost.com

Toxic Isolation

Perhaps even before the virus, before Brexit, we had all been quarantined in our own naked individualism — an isolation far more toxic. There we were, incarcerated and alone inside the penitentiary of our temporal identities with no faith or care for anything other than the fleeting fulfillment of our wayward wants. This is the divide that British people have to reach across for there ever to be any real sense of unity among us. Ultimately, it is the island of self that we must either leave or remain trapped within.

NYTimes – Brexit: What Were We Thinking?!

Is This It?

In the cool light of an impending winter’s day, watching as the world economy spirals down the drain of the Coronavirus pandemic; as the various nations of the world including the vassal states of my own country flex their muscles to assert their dominance, and lastly in light of the naked insanity of our president and his supporters, is it completely reasonable to ask the question:

Is this it? Is this the end of us?

The question could be answered in a number of ways. Parsing the question, it depends on what you mean by the word us. The human race will continue on, and the world will continue spinning just like it always has. In that sense the answer is no. No, it is not the end of us. Some form of government will continue. Other nations will take over our leadership role. This process has already started and will continue whether we want it to or not.

A different take would be to observe that every empire in history has fallen. They rise, and then they fall. We watched the Soviet Union dissolve before our very eyes just over thirty years ago. This could be the point in time where the empire that the United States maintains falls apart.

Maybe our empire should fall apart. Maybe we shouldn’t have an empire in the first place? I’ve been warning people for years that the US is one major crisis away from ceasing to exist. Some people laughed when I first proposed this problem back in the day, the problem that the United States is a paper tiger.

A paper tiger in that, the American people don’t want an empire. They never have wanted one. The federal government in Washington D.C. established one anyway. They did it in our name, at the urging of power brokers of previous generations. Stealing the lands of our neighbors and putting native peoples to the sword in a fair approximation of England or France or any other empire-building nation of previous generations.

We have built a military that is unrivaled in the modern world, spending blood and treasure at a phenomenal rate to the benefit of our corporate masters and even to the benefit of the assembly line workers that build all the armaments that we currently deploy. We can, with pinpoint precision, remove any threat that we recognize as a threat with that military. We can do this and we have done this, right up to this point in history.

We are the wealthiest, most powerful nation in recorded human history. How can we just cease to exist?

…and here we are laid low by a virus, the simplest form of life on this planet. Life so simple that it barely qualifies as life in the first place. It is a little bit of replicating code that has evolved to use the larger bits of life around it to make more of itself without ever knowing what it was doing. It just does what it does, and we can’t stop it.

We can’t stop it. Not with jet planes or nuclear weapons or all the money in the world can we stop it. We can’t stop it unless we accept that we have to stop it, and then make that the thing we need to do now instead of building jet planes and nuclear missiles. This is the biggest crisis we’ve faced in our lifetimes, bigger than the crash that happened in 2008 that we still haven’t recovered from. It is possible that we are living through the greatest crisis in recorded human history, when our children’s children look back at this time through the lens of history.

The future of the United States as a political entity is a small thing compared to the effect that a pandemic can have on the human psyche. In the end that is really all that matters. Unless we can grasp the threat we face right now and answer that threat. Unless we put aside the petty dictators and their Trumpismo’s and focus on the real threat, the fear that this virus inspires in us all and the impact that its continued existence unchecked in the world represents, then the United States will be done for in spite of its globe-spanning military presence and its corporate reach.

…and just maybe, in the end, that is the way that it ought to be.

Featured image: IFLScience How Long Do We Have Left Before The Universe Is Destroyed?