Wednesday, August 26, 2020

A Short Note

Just to let regular readers know that I probably will not be posting much for a little while, as my time is required on a family matter (trying to get my brother into a seniors' residence).

Hope to be back soon.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

For Your Saturday Consideration

With apologies to anyone (well, almost anyone) who suffers from a reading disability, I enjoyed this, and hope you do too:

Thursday, August 20, 2020

The Dismantling Of Democracy

I'm not writing much in the way of commentary these days, partly because other matters require my attention and partly because I feel almost anything I say may simply be stating the obvious, especially at it pertains to our benighted neighbours to the south. Nonetheless, when I see items that others might have missed, I like to post them on this blog.

The following is one such item; the story is essentially another in an ongoing series of efforts by Donald Trump and his enablers (in this case Louis DeJoy, the new Postmaster General) to disrupt and dismantle what is left of American democracy. The images are disturbing, the implications frightening.

Please start at about the 13:15 mark:

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Americans Do Love Their Snake Oil

Fortunately, people like Anderson Cooper have the real cure:

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Know Your Limits

Having worn glasses since I was nine, I learned early in life about limitations. Being myopic meant having to accept that I could never become an airline pilot, play most contact sports (not that I was ever so inclined), be a 'cool-looking' guy, etc. Nonetheless, I managed to eke out a reasonably successful life within those parameters. A mark of maturity is accepting things you cannot change.

Since the advent of Covid-19, a new and apparently widespread affliction has emerged: the 'inability' to wear a mask to mitigate the spread of the disease. This has led to an array of problems, not the least of which is the accusation that 'sufferers' don't give a damn about their fellow citizens. And no amount of effort to convince them that they will not suffocate or become ill if they wear a mask seems to help.

I therefore have a modest proposal for such people. Like I did long ago, learn to live within your limitations:

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

The Bottom Line

While the emphasis thus far has been on the fact that wearing a mask protects others from contracting Covid-19, new research suggests that they are also effective in protecting the wearer.

The Journal of General Internal Medicine reports that there
are two likely reasons for the effectiveness of facial masks: The first—to prevent the spread of viral particles from asymptomatic individuals to others—has received a great deal of attention. However, the second theory—that reducing the inoculum of virus to which a mask-wearer is exposed will result in milder disease [italics added]...has received less attention and is the focus of our perspective which compiles virologic, epidemiologic and ecologic evidence.

Masks, depending on the material and design, filter out a majority of viral particles, but not all. The theory that exposure to a lower inoculum or dose of any virus (whether respiratory, gastrointestinal or sexually transmitted) can make subsequent illness far less likely to be severe... has been propounded for some time. Indeed, the concept of the 50% lethal dose (LD50), the virus dose at which 50% of exposed hosts die, determined via controlled experiments in which a range of exposure doses are administered to animals to calculate a dose-mortality curve, was first described in 1938. Other studies have examined the LD50—or the dose that leads to severe disease or death—for a variety of viruses in hosts or animal models.

The bottom line: Wear a mask.

Monday, August 10, 2020

When Pathological Liars Speak

Hold them to account.

Friday, August 7, 2020

O Brave New World

I have reached the point in my life where whatever optimism about the future I might have once held has given way to a searing, even corrosive pessimism. Looking at the world as it is would seem to preclude any other position.

And yet...

There are still those among us with vibrant visions of what could be, what is still possible even at this late date. It is perhaps best represented by what is known as the Green New Deal. One of its chief proponents in the United States is Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasion Cortz who, along with Avi Lewis, scripted and narrated a short film of what could be, the idea being to use art to fire the imagination of people. Writes Naomi Klein:
Just as [Molly] Crabapple and I started mulling over the idea of a Green New Deal short film, The Intercept published a piece by Kate Aronoff that was set in the year 2043, after the Green New Deal had come to pass. It told the story of what life was like for a fictionalized “Gina,” who grew up in the world that Green New Deal policies created: “She had a relatively stable childhood. Her parents availed themselves of some of the year of paid family leave they were entitled to, and after that she was dropped off at a free child care program.” After free college, “she spent six months restoring wetlands and another six volunteering at a day care much like the one she had gone to.”

The piece struck a nerve with readers, in large part because it imagined a future tense that wasn’t some version of “Mad Max” warriors battling prowling bands of cannibal warlords. Crabapple and I decided that the film could do something similar to Aronoff’s piece, but this time from Ocasio-Cortez’s vantage point. It would show the world after the Green New Deal she was championing had become a reality.
The following is the film that seeks to dispel the pessimism so many of us feel about the future.

Should you be interested in becoming more informed about the possibilities, I recommend Jeremy Rifkin's book, The Green New Deal, which offers substantial detail on how this brave new world can be accomplished.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

On The Covidiot, Anti-Masker Cohort

Those who read this blog with any regularity will likely know that when it comes to those who refuse to don masks as their contribution to our collective safety, I have only withering contempt. It is a contempt fueled by the fact that almost no medical condition exists precluding the use of these simple but effective life-saving devices.

Recently, Christine Sismondo wrote about some of the factors fueling these covidiots:
... social and cultural psychologists like [Hilary] Bergsieker have found the greatest correlations to be related to the society and culture people live in.

“People in more collectivist societies may be more willing to adopt things like mask-wearing that maybe impinge on individual preference but are good for the collective, which is one explanation for why mask-wearing has become so normative in East Asian societies dating back at least to the SARS epidemic of 20 years ago,” she says. “People have been more willing to wear masks out of a sense of care for and connectedness to others versus the individualistic tradition of a lot of the western nations.

“The issue is whether you see society as just made up of disconnected individuals, each of whom maximizes his or her own self-interest and their own preferences, versus seeing people as fundamentally interconnected,” she explains.

The pandemic, however, should be a massive object lesson in the fallacy of libertarian-ish notions about disconnectedness and individualism. No matter how wealthy and privileged someone is, it is next to impossible to protect oneself entirely against a contagious disease. Just ask Louie Gohmert. Or Bolsonaro. Or Herman Cain. Oh no, wait. You can’t ask Cain. He asserted his right not to wear a mask at a rally in Tulsa, Okla., and didn’t live to tell about it.
Wise words, but I leave the final ones to this astute letter-writer, whose suggestion earns my unequivocal approval:
Psychology behind mask resistance isn’t new, Sismondo, Aug. 4

Christine Sismondo’s questioning of people’s psychology to discover what motivates them to resist following the rules is fascinating human-interest reporting.

But focusing on quirks of personality overlooks a more meaningful discussion of the social responsibility a dissenting individual owes to society.

Henry David Thoreau maintained convincingly that individuals should not permit governments to overrule their consciences. Those among us who don’t want to follow the safety rules — masking, distancing, testing and contact tracing — during this deadly pandemic don’t have to.

But then, just like Thoreau, they must isolate themselves from society. Thoreau stopped paying taxes to protest his government waging war and withdrew from society to live alone beside Walden Pond.

Those advocating civil obedience as their legal human right should exile themselves during this pandemic.

Tony D’Andrea, Toronto

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Too Quick On The Draw

Newly-released bodycam footage of the arrest of George Floyd reveals he was in a blind panic when officers drew guns on him. His revelation that he had been shot in the past suggests he was suffering from a form of post traumatic stress, which would explain his resistance to the officers' attempts to detain him.

The following is disturbing to watch, and one wonders what the outcome would have been had the police not been so quick to point their firearms at an unarmed man.

Begin at the 11:00 mark.