A question I finally answered for myself two years after I started fooling around with a newsletter.
All about Meniere’s Disease. Updated periodically.
When I’m questioned about why I’m retired already; or when someone airs doubts about my invisible disability, are you really disabled? the subject of Meniere’s disease is bound to surface. It is bound to surface because Meniere’s disease is the answer to both questions. If you just stumbled across this article on my blog and want to know, what is Meniere’s disease? I’ve never heard of it. I can understand that feeling. I’d never heard of it before its symptoms wrecked my life.Continue reading “Treating Meniere’s & Its Symptoms”
Governor Greg Abbott has fumbled the ball again.
Turner and others did express concern about Abbott’s decision to include religious worship as an essential service, leaving open the possibility of large gatherings at churches. At the news conference, Abbott encouraged churches to conduct their services remotely but said that if they must meet in person, they should follow the federal social-distancing guidelines.
“I’m unaware of a church that would want its constituents, its parishioners, to be exposed to COVID-19, and I think there’s enough public information right now for them to be aware of the practices that are needed to make sure that their members don’t contract COVID-19,” Abbott said in the interview.
There has been controversy, particularly in the Houston area, over church closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Pastors are in court challenging a stay-at-home order that Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced a week ago that restricts churches to online-only services.
To that end, Abbott’s latest executive order overrides “any conflicting order issued by local officials,” including those related to religious services. At the news conference, Abbott said local officials “still have flexibility to impose standards that they consider to be more strict” — as long as they do not conflict with his latest executive order.
There are at least 3,266 coronavirus cases in Texas, including 41 deaths, according to the most recent figures from the Texas Department of State Health Services. The cases are spread across 122 of the state’s 254 counties.
There have been 42,992 tests done in Texas, according to the latest numbers.Texasstandard.org
Churches are essential services when schools are not? This conclusion says more about Texas than most thinking Texans are going to be comfortable admitting. It also says a lot about Gov. Abbott’s ability to be an effective leader; that he is more afraid of the religious right than he is of the plague that is sweeping across the country. He also continues down the path that he has set himself on, thinking his state government is more understanding of what Houston, Austin and Dallas citizens need than the governments we have put in place to govern our cities.
If Harris county leadership says the churches are closed, then the churches are closed in Harris county. Look to see that provision of the order reversed, along with a lot of the bullshit his Republican legislature has passed over the last year hamstringing local governments. It won’t happen soon enough to stop the landslide of coronavirus cases that will stem from letting people gather in churches because church services are essential.
The number of tests conducted in the state are pathetic. 42k? The number of asymptomatic carriers that will be at church spreading the disease to other parishioners will ensure that the wildfire of COVID-19 will continue to burn out of control in Texas until hopefully the summer months bring it to an end. If we are lucky.
As the sailors aboard American military vessels at sea all start catching the coronavirus, and a predictable number of them start dying for lack of medical facilities, everyone should try to remember that we could have had a different president to handle this crisis if nine other Senate Republicans had the bravery that Mitt Romney had. Food for thought.
Wednesday’s Trump dump.
I keep hearing the phrase we shut the economy down being voiced by politicians and economists everywhere. What remarkable powers government actors think they possess. We told people to stay home, ergo there is no economy. How wrong they are.
Who cooks for you, Mr. Smith? Who does your washing, house cleaning, sewing, etcetera? The politicians and economists will answer something like we don’t measure that part of the economy. That is the error in their precept. All that work is essential, but they don’t measure that.
Adam Smith would have derided this work as women’s work, as have most men since his time. What they call women’s work is the most essential work anyone can do, and it is the exact same work that you cannot just stop doing. Calling something women’s work, and therefore not measuring that work, is the perfect example of confirmation bias. If it was important, the men would be doing it. However, women do most of the working in this world. They have to do most of the work because they are more than half of the population.
Maybe we should at least make the attempt to measure the work that currently goes unmeasured. We should at least make the attempt to measure how much of the economy is left when only essential services are running. Then we might get a baseline measurement as to how much work goes unrewarded in the parts of the economy they do measure.
All news outlets should follow NPR’s lead. There is no other way to counter the harm the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) is doing to the country other than to shut him off at the source. Don’t air the coronavirus briefings live. Edit out his misleading bullshit, then air the medical people talking about real stuff later. Save the parsing of Trump’s bullshit for people who want to explain what he says to the people who actually listen to and believe the OHM when he speaks. His Stormtrumpers.
Save the Stormtrumpers? Sometimes it is best to let nature take its course; and letting the stupid people who believe the OHM die might be the only way to save democracy in the United States. This is a problem that they created. It is fitting that they pay the price for their own stupidity. Pay the price for relying on a single news source and never bothering to fact-check anything they hear.
FOX news is the common denominator. It is no wonder that FOX news is now worried about being punished for misleading the public at the beginning of the pandemic. Ya think? Maybe they should have thought a little harder about it earlier. Like in January, when it would have made a difference.
Trump was watching FOX before he stumbled into the presidency, and he’s still watching FOX as a replacement for all his daily briefings before he goes out and repeats the same shit he heard on FOX, shit that they say because he wants them to say it, tells them to say it. The problem for both Republicans in general and their president in particular is that they get their information from a source that makes shit up. Once you realize this simple fact, it becomes plainly obvious that we cannot allow anything like FOX news to continue to exist.
Either your information service contains real, factual information, or it can’t be allowed to continue. If the creator’s intent is to mislead, then the content should be squelched somehow. At the very least it shouldn’t be piped into every American’s home through an infrastructure paid for and maintained by public funds. If they go out and make themselves victims on purpose, there is little we can do to protect them from themselves.
Here’s how to not be mislead. Let Stonekettle Station translate the OHM gibberish for you, then fact-check the parts you still aren’t clear on.
Here is the Stonekettle Station OHM pandemic digest from March 29th. The one where Trump accuses nurses of lying to make Trump look bad.
Evangelical christians have been putting that bumper sticker on thier cars for years now. WWJD, What Would Jesus Do? As if they have exclusive access to the motivations and ethics that the semi-mythical founder of their religion would have espoused in any particular situation.
I sincerely doubt that they have that access; and the reason I doubt that they have that access is that so many of their leaders, including the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) himself, clearly don’t know what Jesus would have done in any given situation.
Take the current pandemic. The evangelicals that make up the entirety of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University have decided that they will ignore medical advice on the subject of the pandemic and return to business as usual. The OHM wants to curtail social distancing and declare that the United States is open for business right at the point where we might be getting an idea of just how big the problem we are facing is. Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said,
No one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that America loves for its children and grandchildren?’ And if that is the exchange, I’m all in.
Those of us who are 70 plus, we’ll take care of ourselves. But don’t sacrifice the country.Fort Worth Star-Telegram
No one aside from Dan Patrick, Glenn Beck, and assorted other evangelical leaders has suggested that the trade-off is between saving the lives of seniors in the community, and giving up life in the United States as we have known it. Nor is it the elderly alone that will die in this pandemic, have died in this pandemic.
Anyone with immune deficiencies. Anyone with weak lungs. Anyone with hypertension. Anyone with none of the above, young and spry and outwardly healthy to all appearances, can fall victim to this virus and die. If you believe otherwise, you are simply whistling past the graveyard.
Evangelicals who seek to preserve their ideas of capitalism at any human cost prove only that capitalism is part of their religion. This is the prosperity gospel raising its ugly head and letting us know that it holds the reins in the evangelical world. In prosperity theology, true christians make money because that is god’s reward to them for doing god’s work. It would take a televangelist to believe wholeheartedly that getting people to give you money for nothing more than saying words that your audience wants to hear is doing god’s work.
Maybe we should try explaining to these folks that Jesus was a humanist, perhaps the first humanist. Washing the feet of his followers? Feeding the multitude? Curing the sick and the lame? What? The miracles don’t hold water with you? They don’t for me either, but how about we just take Jesus at his own word on this subject?
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.Jesus
Jesus would never start the trolley (trolley problem) much less have to decide when to stop it. The prosperity gospel is bullshit, to put it bluntly. If you think that being a capitalist is making your closer to god, then you are the same kind of person that believed that slavery was approved of by god because it is in the bible. You are going to seek wealth anyway, better to say god approves of it than to be seen as one of the merchants and money changers that Jesus drove out of the temple.
If you are suggesting we ignore the warnings of people we pay to keep us healthy. If you are one of those people that thinks we can’t afford to let the markets stop for a month to make sure we have a handle on this crisis. If you are willing to let the poor, the sick and the elderly die simply because we can’t afford to take care of them; then you are exactly the kind of christian that helped make me the atheist that I am today. I will have nothing to do with hypocrites like you if I have anything to say about it.
I was inspired to go on a journey of epidemiological exploration by this segment of On The Media part of the show that aired on March 13, 2020.
This was the second or third podcast that featured an interview with Laurie Garrett, one of the scientific advisors on the film Contagion. She was in a segment of On The Media from a previous week, as well as being the subject of the Breaking News Consumer’s Handbook: Infectious Disease Edition episode of On the Media back in 2014.
Then there was this episode of Planet Money: The Disease Detectives or this segment from Morning Edition. It was beginning to look like everyone was talking about this movie. I remembered watching it, or at least starting to watch it. But I couldn’t remember more than the first few minutes of the film.
Contagion (2010) (Cinemax link)
Wesley Morris, writing for the New York Times, calls it an explanatory drama in his article. I think of it more as a detective story that understands why we might turn on a movie about a fictional pandemic while we are caught up in a very real pandemic all around us. We want answers, and by the end of the film we have those answers. The closing scenes alone are very rewarding, making the sometimes dry delivery of the film worth the wait, if any of you who watch it find that you feel like you are waiting.
I know why I didn’t remember watching the movie to the end the first time. When they start trepanning open the first victims skull and folding back her scalp, I’m pretty sure I bailed on the film. I almost did that again the second time, even knowing what it was I signed up to watch. We will be getting the most out of that frew week of Cinemax that got us access to the movie for free that first night.
After watching Contagion, I surfed over to check out the Netflix documentary that I had heard someone else talk about.
Pandemic (2020) Netflix
I wasn’t clear on whether this series was a documentary series or not until I tuned in to watch it. The first episode makes this very clear. It’s a documentary. All the episodes inter-relate, but there are different segments in each episode about the different facets of the problem of dealing with a pandemic in different countries. You come away with a pretty clear view of the problems we face dealing with any kind of healthcare crisis in the world, much less one as broad and crippling as the current coronavirus pandemic.
From doctors to anti-vaxxers and back again, the series gives you a broad but shallow look at healthcare in the world today. Since we all have a lot of time on our hands these days, and are probably curious about why we have a lot of time on our hands, this series should help you understand why that is.
Neither venture delivers the punch of an epic disaster movie, though.
Outbreak is just the kind of disaster movie you are probably looking for, if those two offerings aren’t to your taste. From devastating viral death rates to government cover-ups to an edge-of-your-seat ending, this film is everything the others are not. Including it being completely unbelievable to anyone with a shred of understand of how infections spread successfully or how government programs work. But it is a good popcorn movie with a rewarding ending. You can’t ask for much more in these times of stress and worry.
I’ve known a simple fact about MMO programmers for awhile now. They don’t understand why people have more than one toon to play in the first place. In their eyes, you play your one character and you only play that one character. You are, after all, only one person. One player.
As if any of us is really only one thing all the time.
They may understand a player wanting to be self-sufficient in gameplay, but it is their goal to keep you from being self-sufficient. They want you to trade with other characters directly or buy off the auction house. If you are a regular raider you will end up relying on your guildmates to help you because you will have no choice. The programmers and developers want it to be this way; and really, MMO stands for Massively Multiplayer Online. There is no point in dealing with strangers in a game if you can do everything yourself. If you can generate the food, potions, gear, gems and enchants all on your own then there is no working economy in the MMO, and the game will eventually die from a lack of players.
Getting beyond the simple desire to provide what you need to play without having to spend precious gold to do it, there are other reasons to play alternate characters (alts) than wanting to be able to max out all your professions and flood the auction house with goods that other players will have to buy from you. Sometimes you just want to be someone else in the game. And that someone else has to be capable of playing at the level that your other character plays at in order to be of any use to your friends that you have to rely on.
…and that observation brings me to the subject of this post. In the last World of Warcraft expansion, Legion, they introduced a new type of gear that was permanently equipped. It was called an artifact, and in Legion the artifact item was your weapon. You got that weapon at the beginning of the expansion and carried it to the end of the expansion, upgrading it as you went along. The linear nature of the item and the requirement that it had to be uniquely upgraded for each character essentially kept players from leveling any alt characters that could rival their first/main toons in power and ability in-game, without spending the exact same amount of time working on each and every alt that you wanted to level.
When Blizzard introduced Battle for Azeroth (BfA) they destroyed the special powers of our artifact weapons, rendering them useless aside from the ability to transmogrify their unique appearances onto our new weapons (I especially like the blue and cinnamon bear models for druids) and they introduced the new artifact that we would be using for the entire BfA expansion, the Heart of Azeroth. That artifact has a similar leveling system to the one that was in the weapons in Legion, without all the unique appearances that made leveling up your artifact in Legion something that you enjoyed doing.
Since there is no player reward for leveling the artifact, there has been a lot of complaining about the limitations that the Heart of Azeroth and the azerite system imposes on players, and the additional work that goes into leveling each and every alt through the exact same grind that each player has done on their main toon.
I skipped most of Legion, so I didn’t spend a lot of time working on and gaining abilities with my artifact weapons before they took them away from us. I also didn’t notice that the azerite system in the Heart of Azeroth was really any different than the grinding that was required to level weapons in Legion. I do miss my alternate characters and I haven’t taken the time to level alts in any real shape or form since Mists of Pandaria ended. Since Warlords of Draenor bored me into playing different games for over a year.
So this is me, dusting off my keyboard for a little bit of reflection on the subject of artificial limitations and the programmers that think we can’t see them out there setting limits on us.
Back in the day, I wrote quite a few pieces on this subject. I wrote one on endgame materials scarcity in Wrath of the Lich King. In Cataclysm I mused on the quandary of Murglesnout and marveled at the amount of materials it took to make a single trinket for my inscriptionatrix. During those brief span of years I managed to get myself kicked off the forums multiple times by moderators intent on maintaining the illusion that the game was fun, fun, fun! all the time.
I last ventured onto the forum during the great #NoFlyNoBuy revolt, where I penned a piece titled Flight Has Always Been a Perk; An Example of Confirmation Bias. After the end of Warlords of Draenor, as Legion was being rolled out, I got fed up with the design philosophy of the developers at Blizzard and decided to take a year off of World of Warcraft.
When I came back to the game at the end of Legion, I swore to myself that I wouldn’t take the game seriously anymore. I deleted half my characters in order to prove to myself that I was serious about not taking the game seriously. If the developers at Blizzard decided not to put flight into the game, well, that was the game I was playing when I signed up. If they decided that you had to work three hours a day, every day, just to keep up in the game, well, that was the game I was playing. Admittedly, I don’t spend more than my subscription fee to stay in the game anymore, so my gifts to Blizzard for their content has dropped off a bit since I first subscribed back at the end of Burning Crusade.
This is me, trying not to take the fun things in life seriously. But still, I think it bears mentioning that I would have a lot more fun in the game if I just could play my alts at the same level that my main toon can play without having to spend months of additional work building their artifacts up to the level that my main is at.
This week Blizzard introduced what they are calling the Echoes of Ny’alotha system into Battle for Azeroth, making it possible for players to purchase the essences they have earned on their mains for the (empty) Heart of Azeroth on their alts. The most common response to players who rebel at being asked to spend even more time in-game grinding on content is,
What? Do you want free gear then?
Now that you mention it, yes. Free gear would be nice. I really don’t see why we are required to re-level alt gear through several layers of endgame content just to be able to play with our friends. But wanting free gear is beside the point here. Essences for the Heart of Azeroth artifact are not gear. The Heart of Azeroth does take up a gear slot on your character (your necklace) but it is not gear in the normal sense of gameplay anymore than the Legion weapons were gear in the normal sense. Most of us have been working on leveling the Heart of Azeroth for two years. It isn’t something you can just replace with a better piece of gear when it happens to drop in dungeons or raids or quests.
Essences serve the same purpose that relics served in Legion weapons. Unlike Legion relics, essences are assembled through specific actions by the player and are a permanent part of the Heart of Azeroth. In other words, essences are not gear that drops and you can equip or replace them as you desire. They are more like talents that you can select after you have enabled them. For as long as World of Warcraft is called Battle for Azeroth, the essences will be part of your Heart of Azeroth.
Essences are the key to being able to do your job in a raid setting, and some of us want to raid on more than one toon. Asking people to work through content they have already done, on toons they no longer want to play, to get essences they’ve already earned once, is insulting. Blizzard should just make the damn things account wide. The way they should have been treated from the beginning of BfA.
If there is one reason I don’t play alts in BfA, this is it. This was true for Legion as I mentioned previously. I can’t just get on an alt and play when I want to play an alt. I have to grind through lower level content, or even more of the same content I’m already playing, in order to play the alt and do the other thing I wanted to do with it if that other thing requires that I be competitive.
Blizzard insists that their new currency system allows essences to be account-wide. There still aren’t account-wide essences if I have to buy them after working to get them on one toon. I can’t believe that real people are applauding this new currency system. If I have a 120 toon, all the essences I’ve earned on other toons should be available to that toon. Like pets are, like toys are, like mounts are and, oh yeah, like heirloom gear is! those things really are account-wide. Why should I have to work to gain the things again at all? I’ve already done it once.
I have other games I’d rather be playing, will be playing. I don’t need to be given more work to do in game in order to be able to play the parts of the game I want to play. If I’m starting over, then I have other games I am neglecting that I probably should start instead.
What should outrage us is not what appears or is suspected to be Burr’s insider trading, but that any representative of the US government, and in this case a particularly high-ranking one, is permitted to own stock. It is as if there is no relationship between government decisions and market developments. The fact that this is possible, that a powerful senator like Burr can be deep inside of the government and yet play the market, exposes the exceptionally high levels of corruption permitted in our political system.thestranger.com
Behind its success so far has been the most expansive and well-organized testing program in the world, combined with extensive efforts to isolate infected people and trace and quarantine their contacts. South Korea has tested more than 270,000 people, which amounts to more than 5200 tests per million inhabitants—more than any other country except tiny Bahrain, according to the Worldometer website. The United States has so far carried out 74 tests per 1 million inhabitants, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show.Sciencemag.org
If you think #MAGA means anything other than Misguided Appallingly Gullible Americans, you are the person these tweets were written for.
I’ve skipped several podcasts in this series. I’ve listened to them myself, but I haven’t felt the need to put them on the blog since the treas… …er, impeachment trial of Donald John Trump began and then ended. The whole thing has sort of felt meaningless in the face of the treason of the American people by the members of the Senate.
I expected the traitors to act they way they did, but that doesn’t change the shock of what they did in reality do. For once in my life the thing I expected to happen, did happen. No one was more shocked by this than I was.
However, the quarantine subject is something that is probably bothering everyone right now, so I thought it warranted advertisement.
The episodes I missed on the blog (and on Twitter) were:
- 38 – Prosecutorial Discretion – Prosecutors recommended that Roger Stone, an associate of Donald Trump, be given a heavy penalty after being convicted of seven felony counts, including lying to authorities. But after intervention from Attorney General Barr, and tweets from the President, those recommendations were rescinded. What can his case tell us about presidential interference and prosecutorial discretion?
- 37 – War Powers and Impeachment Update – After Donald Trump ordered the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, many wondered if the two countries were on the brink of a major conflict. This incident is only the latest in the long-standing fight between Congress and the President over who has the power to make war, and if an act of violence against another state can be legitimate without Congressional approval. This episode also includes an update on the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump, which began earlier this week.
- Bribery – Bribery is one of the three offenses listed in the Constitution as grounds for impeachment. Even though that is attempting to bribe Ukraine is the act that precipitated to Trump’s impeachment, it’s not explicitly listed in the articles of impeachment. Why is that?
- Confrontation Clause – Since the beginning of the impeachment proceedings against the President, Donald Trump has insisted he has a right to confront “the whistleblower,” the anonymous member of the intelligence community who set the whole thing in motion. There is a Confrontation Clause in the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which says a defendant in a criminal case has the right to face their accuser. But does this clause apply to the impeachment hearing against a president in Congress?
- Foreign Affairs – Donald Trump says he should not be impeached as President, since there was ‘no quid pro quo’ on a phone call where he asked the Ukrainian president to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. But does quid pro quo need to be explicitly stated to be a legal issue? And can private citizens like Rudy Giuliani represent America on foreign policy issues?
All of them contained information that I didn’t know about constitutional law, but none of them made me jump up and say this episode will change everything. Well, the bribery episode almost got me tweeting. Almost. The rest of them made me shrug and say I don’t see how spreading this around changes anything. So I didn’t bother. I’ll move the introduction post up to the front of the list again, eventually. Until then it will remain linked here.