A Journal of the Plague Year (34)

April 19, 2020

Making sense of the data coming in is a huge problem for the decision makers. So much is contradictory. Only if you are a “journalist” can you blame people for not seeing the future.

In Ottawa, in the Frozen North, 22 deaths are reported? in total, of which 19 are in one care home facility west of town. Non-essential border crossings to the US are to be extended for another 30 days. Also, the élizabeth Bruyère research institute reported that

…’“Outbreak is a very scary word, so we need you to know two things. The first is that in the response to COVID-19, given the vulnerable nature of our long-term care population, one staff member having a positive result is enough to declare an outbreak, regardless of where they acquired the virus,” the statement said.’

So an outbreak may be one case.

Just how some figures can be misleading, consider the figures for New York City, about which much raving nonsense is available on the Fake News media. The graph below shows the distribution of cases between NYC and other cities:

Note the vast difference between NYC and any other place in the US. At the time President Trump was shutting down travel to and from China, Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo were driveling on about …”travel on the subway, go out and mix, there’s no problem”. Meanwhile, real men were getting down to work.

Of course, it was exactly the wrong position to adopt and NYC is paying the price. Mayor de Blasio, don’t blame others for your bad call.

On another front, Nature reports that:

…An analysis of the blood of some 3,300 people living in Santa Clara county in early April found that one in every 66 people had been infected with SARS-CoV-2. On the basis of that finding, the researchers estimate that between 48,000 and 82,000 of the county’s roughly 2 million inhabitants were infected with the virus at that time — numbers that contrast sharply with the official case count of some 1,000 people reported in early April, according to the analysis posted today on medRxiv. The work has not yet been peer reviewed.

Here, antibody testing seems to reveal that vastly more people have been infected, without getting sick, and, presumably, generated antibodies in their blood. If that is true, then the infection fatality rate (IFR) is very much less than the case fatality rate (CFR).

…The Santa Clara team estimated an IFR for the county of 0.1–0.2%, which would equate to about 100 deaths in 48,000-82,000 infections. As of 10 April, the county’s official death count was 50 people. The study’s IFR is lower than the IFR used in models by researchers at Imperial College London, which estimated an IFR for Great Britain on the basis of data from China to be 0.9%. In another study, the same group estimated an IFR for China of 0.66%, and a study of deaths on the Diamond Princess cruise ship estimated an IFR of 0.5%.

All of which indicates a significantly smaller death rate than heretofore presumed. Which brings us to the point of considering when the economy should be opened up and wound up: people need to get moving. Some doctors, Jonathan Geach MD on Medium, are claiming that…

…The purpose of “Flatten the Curve” was to prevent the healthcare system from being overwhelmed with patients suffering from COVID-19. The reality is that the healthcare system is now underwhelmed and healthcare workers are being laid off and furloughed in droves as a result of healthcare centers having neglected patient care not related to COVID-19 in fear of a COVID-19 surge that failed to materialize on a nationwide basis. This means tens of millions of patients are failing to receive the medical care they need in a timely manner. Almost every hospital outside of the hotspots is empty.

[snip]…

If the goal of the shutdown was to flatten the curve and prevent healthcare system utilization, why are we still under a shutdown when the healthcare system is significantly underutilized and tens of thousands of healthcare workers are being terminated or furloughed? Why are we still denying non-COVID-19 patients the care they need when hospitals are sitting idle and laying off staff in droves? The only surge we’ve seen thus far is with respect to initial weekly jobless claims; tragically, there’s a good chance we will see a surge in suicides later this year as well.

Well, yes. When will there be a cool analysis of the situation? And from Neurologica blog, some mixed feelings about the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO has long been in the back pocket of the communist tyranny in China. But that’s not the worst part. By kowtowing to the PC world and “respecting” cultural differences, for instance, like “traditional” medicine, aka quack medicine, they have done a huge disservice to the developing world. As Neurologica points out:

…Perhaps most outrageous was then they straight-up endorsed traditional Chinese quackery. They [WHO] wrote:
The goal of this policy “is to promote the safe and effective use of traditional medicine by regulating, researching and integrating traditional medicine products, practitioners and practice into health systems, where appropriate”.
But we have heard this defense before – you cannot regulate nonsense. You cannot mix quackery with real medicine without destroying the scientific standards of medicine. This move only served to validate unscientific medicine. I cannot tell you how many times people have used the WHO position to justify their own use or endorsement of quackery, both personally and institutionally. It has had the exact effect that we warned about.

Medically speaking, this is malpractice of the first order. There is no way Western governments should be contributing to an organization that is undermining the first principles of scientific modern medicine. “Alternative medicine” is an alternative to medicine.

And these guys in the WHO were supposed to be the experts? All their recommendations at the beginning of this unpleasantness were wrong.

At least we know why now.

Rebel Yell

See you one trade deal, raise you one plague

This is self-explanatory.

Our California correspondent writes from his bunker in ultra-liberal Berkeley:

“Whether it’s gene editing human babies, irresponsible AI research, creating space junk on purpose, or their ruinous virus research; China has way too little ethical/moral awareness for how much access they have to global catastrophe- causing technology.

“They either need a cultural realignment (ie elevation from their “insectoid” attitude), or the world (ie the western world) has to take their toys away (which they won’t allow – meaning global conflict).”

A Journal of the Plague Year (33)

Say “Ahhh!”

April 18, 2020

Now that we are all enjoying our coronacations we have time to think about what political leaders, scientists and experts are saying to us. The scientists, of which tribe I am a humble member, will in their better moments remind everyone that they might be wrong, and we really don’t know much about this new bug and its behavior. As the great physicist Richard Feynman said, “…any scientist speaking outside his field is just as dumb as the next guy.”

Worth remembering. When politicians crow about “listening to the experts” and making “science-based decisions” the experts are often wrong, and the science is vague and contradictory at times. How then to make a decision?

Many decisions must made with incomplete information and conflicting advice. That’s how it goes. Maybe later it was the right call, maybe not.

So, getting the economies rolling again. And helping those in trouble now. It seems that President Trump is getting all kinds of kudos from many people least expected to give it.

Alex Brummer writing in the UK Daily Mail writes:

…One of the great hobbies of the British public and commentariat is to mock US policy.

..[snip]

When Trump claimed that $70 billion (£57 billion) of loans to small businesses had already been made, there were loud guffaws. What we now know is that the scheme for small enterprises operated through the Small Business Administration, with the loans made by hundreds of commercial lenders across the country, has been a roaring success.
The $350 billion set aside was exhausted in less than two weeks and a further 700,000 SMEs are waiting on Congress to approve new funds.
The key to getting the money out was Mnuchin’s insistence that applications be processed on one side of A4 and all the normal credit checks set aside with the government taking on the risk of cheats and bankrupts.

Interesting.

Further:

The contrast with the UK, where the banks are patting themselves on the back for getting just £1 billion of small business loans out of the door while the sector and its self-employed owners sink into the mire, could not be more stark.
Trump may be crazy but the efforts of his business and financial team put those of Sunak and our own banking pygmies in the shade.

And in Canada, the Macdonald Laurier Institute , a sort-of establishment think tank, writes:

Last week’s aid package ticked all the Trudeau government’s electoral boxes, targeting Aboriginals, the homeless, women’s shelters, students and low-income earners. The business community was largely overlooked, except for banks being asking to defer mortgage payments for people losing incomes (despite the failure of working with banks to mitigate foreclosures in the U.S. in 2009). The government also largely neglected the problems of small businesses, such as restaurants, whose revenues are collapsing while property taxes and utilities still have to be paid. Offering temporary support to workers is basically pointless if their employer goes bankrupt. The U.K. understands this and is offering direct aid to small business.

It seems that Trudeau is simply out of touch with the real world, adrift in the fantasies of the chatterati.

…The contrast between the business community’s “can do” optimism and the public sector’s overall moroseness is striking. While the U.S. stresses a pharmaceutical resolution to the crisis, Trudeau offers only the prospect of “weeks or months” of social distancing.
Doug Ford’s government in Ontario seems the most disposed in Canada to view the private sector as a creative partner in solving the crisis. Ford cites companies switching their beverage manufacturing to hand sanitizers, auto part plants offering to convert to making ventilators, Canada Goose manufacturing medical gowns instead of parkas, and firms making phone banks available to Ontario Health to help field questions from a worried public. Ford asked the business community to “keep your ideas coming. If you have an idea, there’s no such thing as a bad idea.” By contrast, the federal government has only belatedly spoken of involving business in fighting the virus.

That’s sums it up really. And in the US, as Nancy Pelosi is vying with Hillary Clinton for the title of the country’s most ghastly woman, Pelosi blocks a paycheck protection plan for small business while chomping on chocolates in her wall-protected mansion in Californistan.

Trump will crush them in November.

Rebel Yell

[PS Antibody testing tomorrow–now more bourbon]

A Journal of the Plague Year (32)

April 17, 2020

Internal Medicine reported the above under the heading “CDC: Risk in U.S. from 2019-nCoV remains low.” This from the FDA and the CDC: the “experts.” Experts are often wrong, sometimes hugely. Experts disagree with one another. Where does that leave the political leaders who have to make hard decisions?

In times like these nearly everyone is flying by the seat of their pants, so “listen to the experts” doesn’t really mean much, especially as the science they are relying on is uncertain, to say the least. Listening to the scientists is usually best practice, but they will be the first to say how uncertain everything is about the coronavirus right now.

Nancy Messonnier, MD, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases in the US, during a briefing that day said:

“I understand that many people in the U.S. are worried about this virus and whether it will affect them,… Outbreaks like this are always concerning, particularly when a new virus is emerging. But we are well prepared and working closely with federal, state, and local partners to protect our communities and others nationwide from this public health threat. At this time, we continue to believe that the immediate health risk from this new virus to the general American public is low.”

Bad call.

That, by the way, was the day that President Trump initiated the US–China travel ban.

And in Canada, Premier Jason Kenney of Alberta is asking some important questions of the supposed experts in Canada—namely, Dr Theresa Tam, El Supremo of public health in Canada.  Recall what the chief bloviator Trudeau-the-Lesser said:

“We will recall that a number of weeks ago in the beginnings there was discussion of whether or not we should entirely close our borders to China the way the United States did,” said Trudeau in front of Rideau cottage, where he was self isolating.
“We did not. We were able to manage it in a way that allowed for control and a non spread of the virus that gives us confidence that our public health officials are giving us the right recommendations for Canada.”
That smug comment and dozens more like it previously from Trudeau, other ministers and Dr. Tam, were rendered absurd and nonsensical just three days later when Canada finally shut down it’s [sic] borders to all non-residents except Americans.”

So was Canada getting the best advice from the experts?

Too bad Canada wasn’t getting that. It was getting unexamined lies from China and the blocking of sound science from Taiwan. By the end of January, opposition members of parliament had the facts and wanted Canada to follow Taiwan’s lead. They were called fearmongers and worse for their efforts.

As Premier Kenney properly suggested, Dr. Tam’s job is not to swallow the propaganda of totalitarian states obsessed with saving face, but to investigate all of the pertinent information and then recommend policy to protect Canadians.

Since we now know that she was another shill for the Communist Chinese tyranny, Jason Kenney’s comments are all that more relevant. The silence from the “journalists” is deafening.

Not to be left behind in the race to greater absurdity, Mark Carney is excoriated by Terence Corcoran in the National Post. Carney, you may recall, lately of some lucrative gig in Britain, is now droning on about “macroprudentialism”, another half-witted attempt to explain the ineptitude of the chattering classes when faced with a real disaster. After failing to anticipate the 2008 financial meltdown, which anyone with gray matter between their ears instead of brown matter, could have foreseen, they now attempt to see the way forward after coronavirus.

…As the world sinks into lockdown and decline, one wonders why the whole macroprudential policy preparations, underway since the 2008 financial crisis and formally installed in 2016, so obviously failed to prepare for the financial stability shakeup brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic?
There are two explanations. One is that the whole financial stability-macroprudential effort is an international bureaucratic collection of agencies dedicated to the pursuit of meaningless bureaucratic interventions.
The second explanation is that the macroprudential apparatus, from the IMF through to the FSB and down, was hijacked by activists pushing climate change as the dominant systemic risk of our time.

Yes, climate change was the great cause for concern—one degree Fahrenheit possibly between now and 2100 AD. Suddenly, real things happen and they’re all at sea.

After trying to destroy Canada’s basic economic wealth in oil and gas, maybe, just maybe, the political establishment of Canada, bereft of any kind of common sense, may get some. One can but hope.

Corcoran concludes:

By promoting the risks of far-off climate change and ignoring the real financial and economic risks of a pandemic, the macroprudes got what they wanted by helping to usher in a global economic crisis they claimed to be attempting to prevent.

Right.

Rebel Yell

A Journal of the Plague Year (31)

April 16, 2020

How widespread is the corona virus in the general population? An important question still unanswered. Some research is suggesting that the virus is way more common in the population than previously thought with some saying that up to 40 or 50% have been infected. If this were true, this would mean that a large proportion of the population had the virus, produced antibodies to defeat it, and suffered no symptoms or ill effects.

Dr Jack Siemiatycki is Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Montreal. In a timely article in today’s Ottawa Citizen, he draws attention to the highly relevant fact that:

…we don’t know such key information as the prevalence of the infection in the population, the trend lines of this prevalence and the proportion of infected people who are asymptomatic.
Although testing for the virus is being focused on the most vulnerable such as those in care homes and other institutions, and those diagnosed with symptoms or hospitalized, this tends to skew the data towards the sickest and does not give a picture of the general prevalence in the population.

…We see the tip of the iceberg; we need to know how many infected people are below [the] water line. We do not know if confirmed cases represent 10 per cent, 50 per cent, or 90 per cent of the truly infected cases in the population. We cannot use the numbers of “confirmed cases” to estimate prevalence or to track the progress of the epidemic. Similarly, we cannot compare the numbers across provinces or between Canada and other countries. Nor do we know what the case fatality rate is for COVID-19 because we do not know the denominator for such calculations – namely the number of people with the infection.

Here’s the rub. Only a random sampling of the general population can tell us this. Knowledge of this number is crucial to forming a correct idea of the real lethality of the virus and, not only how many people may be immune, but how soon the economy can be opened up again and in what order.

We would only need between 100 and 400 people tested each day in Ontario. This, carried out from as soon as possible to the end of the epidemic, would provide adequate statistical power to obtain adequately precise and accurate estimates of the prevalence and the trend in prevalence over time, as well as the proportion of asymptomatic cases.
The testing most commonly carried out now in Canada is a genetic test for the presence of COVID-19 virus in the body. Alternative tests measure antibodies to the virus in blood. The two types of tests are complementary, not redundant. As soon as the antibody test becomes available, it should be added to the proposed testing protocol.
Hopefully, this opportunity to track the epidemic will not be lost; time is of the essence.

Indeed. Until we get good data, further projections are subject to large errors.

A piece by Dr Nan Hayworth (Fox News) focused in on how the projected fatalities have been rapidly declining over the past few weeks. When President Trump instigated the travel band against China in January, and was roundly condemned by the usual suspects, the Democrats and the “press” (the propaganda arm of the Democrat Party), experts were projecting that 2.2 million Americans might die if radical measures were not adopted.

On April 1st, projections were for 100 000 to 240 000 deaths.

…Further progress was evinced on April 7, when projected mortality fell significantly in a widely respected model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), to between 49,431 and 136,401 American coronavirus deaths, with a median of just over 80,000. A day later the IHME’s median was adjusted downward again, to about 60,000.

Interesting. Again, “all models are wrong; some may be useful.” Only time will tell, but an inordinate fear can do more damage than a reasoned acceptance of risk. Now that’s something journalists don’t understand.

Another little snippet from Rebel Media today: Dr Theresa Tam, Canada’s El Supremo in public health, has been working for the Chinese-Communist controlled World Health Organization. Really.

Not just as a low-level doctor or bureaucrat. She’s actually one of only seven people on the WHO’s oversight committee for health emergencies.
So the WHO’s well-documented political corruption happened on her watch — when it was literally her job to stop it. She either approved of China’s meddling or was wilfully blind to it….
[snip]…
What’s so crazy is that Tam is still on the WHO’s oversight committee. That puts her in a conflict of interest — whose side is she on, Canada’s or China’s WHO?
Her loyalty to the WHO is why she has given such bizarre advice to Canadians — like telling us not to wear masks. That never made any sense — until you realize she was taking orders from China’s WHO…

…But it’s worse now because the WHO itself is the issue — can we trust them? Well, how could Tam even answer that: she was one of the seven people tasked with keeping them trustworthy. She can’t very well admit she rubber-stamped their corruption, can she?

Why aren’t the Fake News Media in Canada doing their job?

Rebel Yell

A Journal of the Plague Year (30)

April 15, 2020

The corona virus is going to re-write much more than the balance sheets of many nations and companies. Mostly because nobody knows how that re-write will work out. Economics is about to have a Close Encounter with the Real World. Even in tiny Montenegro, China has a $US 750+ billion stake in future development:

…It’s hard to identify one weak link in the chain,” said Scott Morris, co-author of the study, titled “Chinese and World Bank Lending Terms: A Systematic Comparison Across 157 Countries and 15 Years”, and a CGD fellow. “It’s the whole chain.”
Chinese loans have helped fund much-needed energy, mining, hydropower and other infrastructure projects in more than 100 developing nations under the estimated US$8 trillion Belt and Road Initiative, spurring economic growth and improved living standards.
Belt and Road Initiative explained
But analysts say China’s singular lending practices leave many developing countries increasingly vulnerable in the current environment.

Now that the credibility of China has evaporated, due entirely to their response to the coronavirus outbreak, one important lesson is apparent: credibility is difficult to build, but very easy to lose…maybe forever.

Well, they lost it.

No, there’s no second chance or try. That was it. The only time you really have to deliver and not f*** up and you didn’t. Sorry pal, you’re toast.

Which is why President Trump is right yet again; WHO deserves everything it gets; or rather, doesn’t. Long time coming. Many other international institutions have a reckoning approaching.

On another front, there may be a possibility for journalists to convey the reality of scientific uncertainty. Perhaps. From science20.com:

Not much has improved. When famous television anchor Jake Tapper was recently caught not bothering to even be skeptical about a claim by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that President Trump called COVID-19 a “hoax”, he washed away his inability to separate his politics from his job by saying the President lies so often he wasn’t skeptical when the Democratic Rep. “mischaracterized” Trump.

So Republicans routinely lie in Tapper’s mind while Democrats mis-characterize so little he never assumed it would be an issue. He did not use terms “lie” and “mischaracterize” by accident. The public is right not to trust smart people who use language to manipulate rather than inform. If you want them to trust you, avoid it. You will get caught. Don’t be a Jake.

Which describes pretty much the behavior of the Fake News Media today. Their credibility is a thing of the past. Anyway, the Internet has not yet been destroyed and remains a font of information and data. Forget the China Newspeak Network and do your own work. It’s all out there.

Rebel Yell

My ambivalence towards Trump

It is confession time. I was watching the interview between Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution and Kim Strassel of the Wall Street Journal yesterday. There came the moment at minute 41:00 of the interview when Peter Robinson expressed perfectly how I feel about Trump, as Peter described Trump’s leadership style. Peter holds his forehead and gropes for the right closing question to ask Kimberly Strassel, and he says, “…a lot of people who like Trump (small pause) can’t stand him up to this point” and then he notes how people may have shifted to a more positive view over the past few weeks as the Donald has handled the coronavirus epidemic.

I think I will adopt that phrase as exactly capturing my ambivalent feelings: “Even people who like him can’t stand him“.

I would still vote for him in a heartbeat.

Robinson’s comment was the preface to a more comprehensive question to Strassel about whether in the past few weeks Trump has become “the country’s President”, the guy we need to succeed. To that I say, yes, we need him to succeed.

To the Trumpophobes my reaction may be seen as tragically inadequate, and to the Trumpophiles it may be seen as insufficiently zealous, perhaps. Insufficient zeal is not yet a thought crime. As a position on the Donald I am sticking to it. I like him but I can’t stand him. But he has my vote.

Which is about as relevant as approving of Caesar Augustus if you had lived during his reign, I suppose.

A Journal of the Plague Year (29)

April 14, 2020

British blogger Guido Fawkes reports today that polls taken in the US, UK, Germany and Sweden show a significant increase in public confidence in governments, local and central, healthcare, essential retailers, manufacturing and other. However, the institutions recording a colossal drop in confidence in the polls were—you guessed it—the media!

It’s hardly surprising. Bloviating nonentities posing as journalists have shown themselves to be nothing other than a waste of space.
In an interesting article in politico.com [here] (believe it or not), Mike Leavitt, former HHS Secretary under President Dubya Bush, notes that:

“In advance of a pandemic, anything you say sounds alarmist. After a pandemic starts, everything you’ve done is inadequate.”

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Leavitt warned several administration about the real possibilities of a pandemic and its likely effects, but no-one listened. Well, not exactly; they listened and then lost interest as all governments do.

And for his troubles, that health secretary — Bush appointee Mike Leavitt — was mocked as an alarmist by political rivals and late-night comics, even as that year’s threat of avian flu petered out around the globe.
“Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt recommended that Americans store canned tuna and powdered milk under their beds for when bird flu hits,” host Jay Leno said on the Tonight Show in 2006, a recurring bit where he ridiculed Leavitt’s warnings. “What? … Powdered milk and tuna? How many would rather have the bird flu?”
Speaking to POLITICO this month, Leavitt described a trap that health and national security officials know too well: Prepare too early and you’re called Chicken Little. Act too late — and millions may die.
“In advance of a pandemic, anything you say sounds alarmist,” Leavitt explained. “After a pandemic starts, everything you’ve done is inadequate.”

Back in those days, late night talk show hosts like Jay Leno were comedians; now, they are, like Colbert, just unfunny left-wing bores posing as comedians.

Anyway,

“In advance of a pandemic, anything you say sounds alarmist. After a pandemic starts, everything you’ve done is inadequate.”

That’s how it turns out. No matter how hard the political leaders are trying to deal with the situation, a disaster that nobody in our times has any experience of, the execrable bloviators in the media will always find a way to bitch and divide rather than try to help. That‘s one reason for the poll result shown above.

Even worse for the media is when leaders, like President Trump, are making a positive difference. As Dr Nan Hayworth notes on Fox News,

The first major blow against the disease was struck by President Trump in January when he imposed restrictions on travel from China. This decisive step has been credited with sparing millions of Americans from exposure to the virus, buying crucial time we needed to delay the wave of severe illness now familiarly known as the “curve.”
It’s been estimated that without any mitigation efforts by either state or federal governments, up to 2.2 million Americans would have died from COVID-19. President Trump’s travel restrictions on China were joined subsequently by bans on travel from Europe, the United Kingdom and Ireland, further limiting the introduction of the novel coronavirus from abroad.

Originally, death prediction posited up to 2.2 million across the US. Real data coming in, modifying model predictions has led to significant downward projections:

Recent reports show coronavirus hospitalizations across the U.S. to be far lower than expected, with a notable days-long fall in new hospitalizations in New York, where the pandemic has struck hardest. The state now projects a need for roughly 20,000 to 30,000 beds, compared with the 110,000 that Gov. Andrew Cuomo had previously said would be needed.

Unfortunately, the truly despicable nature of some in the media, particularly MSNBC, a font of lies, gave rise to another lie:

MSNBC host Chris Hayes, for example, floated the outlandish conspiracy theory that the administration had deliberately inflated previous counts to make the revised projections look better….
…Hayes’ resoundingly ridiculed hypothesis is decisively refuted by experts, including Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, leaders of the Coronavirus Task Force, who have described how the nation’s steadily evolving response to COVID-19, and the volume and speed of data collection, influence models’ assumptions and predictions day by day.

I have some sympathy with all politicians and leaders in this era of chaos. They are trying their level best to deal with a disaster that they have no experience of. Instead of reporting the news to the best of their ability, much of the media is focused on squeezing the pustule of their own self-aggrandizement.

Let’s make sure we never let them forget it.

Rebel Yell

Two narratives, utterly different

One is by Charles Eisenstein, which will beguile you in its loveliness and wisdom. He may be right. It is a long read but worth the effort. (Even if by the end you suspect it to be hippie shit). There are many insights along the way that resonate with me, about “safety culture”, the dreadful epidemic of “staying safe” at all costs. Eisenstein concludes:

“The virus we face here is fear, whether it is fear of Covid-19, or fear of the totalitarian response to it, and this virus too has its terrain. Fear, along with addiction, depression, and a host of physical ills, flourishes in a terrain of separation and trauma: inherited trauma, childhood trauma, violence, war, abuse, neglect, shame, punishment, poverty, and the muted, normalized trauma that affects nearly everyone who lives in a monetized economy, undergoes modern schooling, or lives without community or connection to place. This terrain can be?changed, by?trauma healing?on a personal level, by systemic change toward a more compassionate society, and by transforming the basic narrative of separation: the separate self in a world of other, me separate from you, humanity separate from nature. To be alone is a primal fear, and modern society has rendered us more and more alone. But the time of Reunion is here. Every act of compassion, kindness, courage, or generosity heals us from the story of separation, because it assures both actor and witness that we are in this together.”

There are days I can believe this.

Then there is the old-fashioned realist, Fred Reed, talking about men and their favourite activity, war.

“Nobody (except feminists) says the obvious, that all of these evils are committed by….

“Men.

“It is always men–some other men, of course, men of another race or country, or religion or tribe or social class. We ourselves–men–are pure. But however you cut it, it is men.

“The crucial problem for humanity is, probably always has been, how to control men, how to to harness their vigor and inventiveness for the common good while restraining their penchant for destruction, mass homicide, individual murder, rape, pillage, depravity, and foolishness.

“Wars are the vilest masculine behavior. They never end. Wars are not about anything. They are just wars. Men always find something for them to be about, but really they are just what men–men–do.

“The martial urge is deep in the steroid chemistry. Little boys want to play with guns. If you force dolls upon them, they shoot each other with dolls. When grown up, to the extent they ever are, they fight wars. If there is no reason for war, as for example now, they invent reasons. The Russians are coming. The Chinese are coming. North Korea will nuke us. So will Iran. We must gird our loins and fight, fight, fight.”

By the time you have finished reading Fred Reed, you may be ready for Charles Eisenstein’s more idealistic approach. Maybe.

A Journal of the Plague Year (28)

Daily New Cases in Canada Thus Far [from Johns Hopkins University]

April 13, 2020

Local hospitals and medical facilities in and around Ottawa have been bracing for an influx of corona patients. The Ottawa Citizen reports under “…that is a surprise”:

The daily report from Ontario’s critical-care system on Friday showed just two additional coronavirus patients admitted to an ICU anywhere in the province the day before. Despite having to treat over 530 confirmed or possible COVID-19 people, almost 78 per cent of the province’s expanded ventilator capacity remained free.
The patient volume was well under the “best case” scenario depicted in Ontario-government epidemic modelling released earlier this month…

[snip]

But even so, the dearth of apocalyptic scenes in Canada’s ICUs seems to offer at least a glimmer of hope, especially after the release of federal government modeling Thursday that predicted 11,000 COVID-19 deaths in a best-case scenario.

It will be very interesting to see how the predictions pan out. After all, experts are often wrong. The tragic cases are mostly from care homes for the aged and infirm. About half the total deaths in Ontario are from various care institutions. Ontario cases below:

One might have thought that the SARS outbreak of 2003 would have taught our governments a lesson. The Liberal government of the day committed to incorporating possible pandemics and public health emergencies with national security in considering threat assessments. Wesley Wark, a visiting professor at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, is quoted on CTV News:

“…Despite the idea that we were going to do this with the national security policy, it just never happened.”

Further…

But there is “absolutely no evidence” the major players of the security community have collectively focused efforts on a pandemic threat-assessment mission, he said. There is also no indication the Public Health Agency of Canada has conducted its own open-source assessment of the threat in recent years, Wark added.

Now that’s food for thought, especially as we now know that this virus has caused more damage to the world than a million terrorists.

On the medical data front, a study from NYU Langone Health Center focusing on New York City looks at the biggest factors in US hospital admissions related to Covid-19. [Full paper available on medRxiv [here]]. The study covered over 4 000 patients and found that the chronic condition that was most associated with critical illness [in Covid-19] was obesity. This was found to be more of a factor than any cardiovascular or pulmonary conditions. Obesity is pro-inflammatory and that in itself can lead to over-reaction of the immune system.

Writing in?The Lancet, virologist Gregory Poland notes:

…we have an increasingly older age demographic across virtually all countries, as well as unprecedented rates of obesity, smoking, diabetes, and heart and lung disease, and an ever-growing population of people who are immunocompromised—all comorbidities that lead to significantly higher risks of severe disease and death from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In turn, these huge numbers of people who are more severely affected by this virus require ongoing and more complex care, overwhelming many times over the capacity of medical systems to care for them.

When will people start to realize that being fat is a health problem, even without Covid-19, and that the “all body types are equally beautiful” mantra is self-indulgent bunk?

Rebel Yell