“I’m like a corporate political prisoner,” Donziger told me as we sat in his living room recently. The attorney, who is 6-foot-3, graying, and often used to be mistaken for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio when he was able to walk the city streets, was surprisingly stoic and resigned about his predicament during my two visits to the apartment he shares with his wife and 13-year-old son. But on this particular Wednesday, as the winter sunlight in his living room was dimming and the charger for his spare ankle bracelet battery flashed on a nearby shelf, his optimism about his epic battle against one of the biggest oil companies in the world seemed to be flagging. “They are trying to totally destroy me.”
…when you read stories like this one, It is easy to see why Glenn Greenwald thinks the US is behind all the bad things that happen in the world. I wonder if Chevron will ever be made to pay for the damage they’ve done?
Certainly, Gentlemen, it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinions high respect; their business unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasure, his satisfactions, to theirs,—and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own.
But his unbiased opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightenedconscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure,—no, nor from the law and the Constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.
I can’t speak to why the Liberal Democratic party allowed Jeremy Corbyn to run their party. I wouldn’t have, but then I’m not a Lib-Dem. They suggest that Bernie Sanders is too liberal and we should toss him out in favor of Joe Biden. I know why Joe Biden is winning, and I will vote for him in the general if he secures the nomination.
Since they had the temerity to offer suggestions to NPR as to what the US should do to fix our politics, I have some pointed observations to offer them in response. If the Lib-Dems wanted to stand a chance in the last election, they should have come out 100% against Brexit. They should have said “we aren’t leaving, and we aren’t holding another election. We are going to do what David Cameron should have done in the first place and are simply going to say NO. No Brexit because it is suicidal and probably racist to think that we should leave the European Union.” They should have said that, and left the subject at that.
The original Brexit vote was tainted by interference from outside of of the UK. Tainted by the interference of Vladimir Putin. The referendum results can just be set aside for this reason, and no other vote needs to be held on the subject.
I have some bad news for the Lib-Dems, the Tories and Biden supporters all three. There is no past to return to. Not for Britain and their Brexit dreams, and not for the Democratic party hoping to just bury the last four years in more Obama/Biden platitudes.
The United Kingdom is done for. I know this because it isn’t UKexit that Britain screams for, but Brexit. Northern Ireland and Scotland will likely leave the UK because of Britain’s folly. Ireland isn’t going to leave the European Union in any real sense, because it is a separate island, and one county on that island is part of the UK. Scotland will do their best to seperate themselves from the suicidal behavior of their brethren in Britain, hoping against hope that they will see what kind of hell leaving the EU will inflict on them. I think their hopes are in vain. I think Scotland will have to re-erect Hadrian’s wall to keep the Brits out, once they start to suffer.
Joe Biden represents a similar desire in Americans. He represents a return to normality in the minds of the people who are voting for him, in the same way that a renewed British empire attracts a questionable majority of Britain. Joe Biden represents a return to the days of Barack Obama, the days before we knew our friends and relatives were raging xenophobes willing to destroy our country to make themselves feel safe. Those days are over, and they aren’t coming back.
Elizabeth Warren was angling to put herself in the position where Joe Biden forced himself onto the stage. Elizabeth Warren had already moderated her healthcare plan so as to distinguish herself from the hardline stance that Bernie Sanders insists on, to his own political detriment. Elizabeth Warren represents the future. New ideas, new plans, a fresh approach to old problems. She would have made more moves toward moderation if Joe Biden not decided to take over the moderate wing of the Democratic party. Joe Biden, who pushed the woman out of the way so that he could appeal for a return to the good old days.
The Republicans have tried to recapture the days of Ronald Reagan with every single presidential candidate they have offered since Reagan left office, including the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) The OHM who stole one of Reagan’s soundbytes, make America great again. It isn’t a Trump tagline, it is a Reagan tagline, and Trump is a poor man’s idea of who and what Ronald Reagan was. They’re wrong, as stupid people are wrong about so many things, but that’s what they think Trump is.
The Democrats cannot erase Trump or the suicidal and openly criminal behavior of the Republican Party leadership. Not with Joe Biden, not with anybody. Trump will always be the forty-fifth president of the United States. As much as I would like to think we could pull an Akhenaten with him, even the ancient Egyptians couldn’t completely remove the pharaoh they wanted to forget. They didn’t have the internet to contend with, or half of the country bent on preserving the memory of the last four years in the hopes of continuing the trend of xenophobia and sociopathy that the OHM embodies.
Biden will fail to live up to the memory of what the Obama years were, because we can’t turn back the clock to 2008. We can’t unring the bell that the OHM rang, summoning the ghost of the Confederate South to his side. If we’re lucky the best he can do is delay the confrontation with them for another four to eight years. In the end, we will have to face down those demons and my kindly Uncle Joe isn’t going to have it in him to do that job.
Elizabeth Warren could do that job. She has attacked Trump in the past, and she has scored points on him that Joe Biden has not. After her losses on Super Tuesday, I don’t know if she can pull out a win now. But she deserves the right to take on Trump and prove that she can win against him. That women can win against the naked misogyny that is Donald John Trump. I hope she gets that chance.
I love the idea of infections being charted like a weather forecast, showing current infections and trending directions for new infections. This information would be very useful for parents, caregivers and the immune compromised, giving all of those groups a heads-up as to what symptoms to look out for when dealing with their patients and the public at large. Not just for COVID-19, but for all diseases in a population.
My brother informs me that his medical software company already does this with the data it collects. Here’s hoping we have forecasting ability available to everybody in the near future. It’s the right thing to do if we want to avoid needlessly hiding in our houses out of fear of catching some disease or other that might be circulating unbeknownst to us because no one is tracking those trends.
I have no use for any of the games that come under the name football. Not the game we call Soccer here in the US, and not the game they call Football here, either. The only reason this blog entry exists is so that I can record comedy sketch material that has been apparently lost to time.
Soccer is the real football, because it is played almost exclusively with the feet. That makes it the game that should be called Football. If the players can’t use their hands, except for the goalie, then that game is a football game. Plain and simple.
American football is Rugby played with helmets and shoulder pads. The only time the players use their feet, other than for running, is when they kick the ball, and those are special instances and usually special players that are set out in the rules of the game. Otherwise you use your hands to manipulate the ball. But you hold the ball, not smack it around with your hands, so the game isn’t Handball either.
Rugby fans know that they have to give their favorite sport a different name than Football, because in the places where they play Rugby, the sport called football is the sport that requires players to use their feet. Rugby and American football share some common sports ancestry with soccer/football.
If I was more interested in sports I’d probably be motivated to go look up some more stuff on the subject in order to make this blog entry longer and more interesting. Let its brevity reveal my true feelings about all sports. Can we talk about something interesting now?
At first I did blame him. You should say there is no loyalty if someone commits crime, but if someone didn’t, then you should not lie about people. Then one day I was so angry when they told me that a detainee lied about me. When I was tortured, I did not blame them anymore, because I was saying, “Wow. This is one way for Allah to show me that I am a weak person too.”
Not weakness. Fallibility. Choosing life over death isn’t a weakness. He lied to save himself. He’s human.
This is episode four in a series from WNYC and Radiolab. Like most of my long-term listening podcasts, I’ve listened to every episode, even some that aren’t on the current podcast list. Since they don’t link the other episodes in the series, I will link them here.
If the only other person that had my name that I could find on Google had been a detainee at Guantanamo, I would have wanted to understand that RAnthony the way that Latif wants to understand this guy. There is a American football player who uses RAnthony the way I do. I wondered who that guy was who was more popular than me.
In the first four episodes we discover just how little evidence existed for why we took him prisoner in the first place. In episode five we go into the Upside Down (is it a movie reference instead of a Stranger Things reference? I wonder) and discover the other side of Abdul Latif Nassir. What did we do to him? What have we done to him in the eighteen years we have kept him locked up. Locked up without trial. Without charges. Without a justifiable reason other than that we wanted to hide away what we had done to him, and to the other detainees in Guantanamo Bay.
Me? I wanted to be a writer since I was kid. It’s a sickness, writing. A weird mental disorder that makes you sit in front of a keyboard for hours, daydreaming and playing with ideas and wondering why anybody would read the blather on the screen. But my grandmother gave me a Hardy Boys book (#8; The Mystery of Cabin Island) for Christmas one year when I was about 8 or 9. I’d been an indifferent reader up to that point, but that book captivated me and my lifelong obsession with words began right there. Somewhere shortly thereafter, in a staggering moment of epiphany, I realized there were actually people out there who got paid to sit in front of a keyboard and daydream and those people didn’t have to put on pants every day. Hell they might not even own actual pants – unless you consider pajamas legitimate work apparel.
Our Google Chromecast delivered this ambient photograph that the Wife and I could not identify when we wandered through the living room on Wednesday. Was it a gear? Was it an organic growth? We couldn’t tell, so I took a screenshot of it on my phone. I looked it up today, and it is Gaudi. Specifically Casa Batlló. That explains everything.
(Pinterest embeds in WordPress are almost mythical; as in, I can’t do a damn thing with them or modify them even though they show up. I’m not happy about it, but that is what it looks like.)
…but I hear you saying “who the hell is a Gaudi?” Ah. You aren’t an archiphile. Let me explain then. Antoni Gaudí is one of the more infamous architects in history. Rather than go through the entire story of his most famous achievement, I’ll let 99% Invisible explain it all to you. Here is the audio for the episode,
But the webpage located here has a photo history about the longest-running construction project in modern history, La Sagrada Familia. There is no way I can do that story justice no matter what I say here. Let Roman explain it to you with words and pictures. Or you could just watch this short video,
I’ve never seen any of his work in person. Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain, where all of his structures are located, is out of my travel price range. But I’ve known of him by reputation for longer than I’ve actually known his name. Images of his works are almost unmistakably marked with the stamp of his unique genius. Only very recently has his style of design be utilized, and then only by a select few architects like Frank Gehry, are these flowing, natural designs practiced. It takes aviation design software to achieve what Gaudi did with strings and weights hanging from his ceiling back in the 192o’s.
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.
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:
…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.
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. 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.
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.”
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,
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.
…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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The math is a known quantity. With an R0 (are-naught) over 2 the coronavirus spreads, and it spreads fast. 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:
NO HANDSHAKING! Use a fist bump, slight bow, elbow bump, etc.
Use ONLY your knuckle to touch light switches. elevator buttons, etc.. Lift the gasoline dispenser with a paper towel or use a disposable glove.
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.
Use disinfectant wipes at the stores when they are available, including wiping the handle and child seat in grocery carts.
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.
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.
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.
…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.
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.
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. 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.
I swear I heard the word fruforah uttered by some englishman somewhere. I can almost here the voice. “All this fruforah is for nothing!” However, no search string that I’ve tried will give me a quote or anything like the word fruforah, even when I include the word brouhaha, which should have a synonymous meaning. It isn’t in the thesaurus either, so it isn’t a word. Well, it is now.