THE ABSURD TIMES — STILL

new math

Posted in Uncategorized by @honestcharlie on July 7, 2020

I have finally learned Trump’s logic and mathematics as well as his statistical methodology. See, Gauss and Spearman were wrong. 99% of thermonuclear explosions are harmless.

Why Bother?

Posted in Uncategorized by @honestcharlie on July 3, 2020

THE ABSURD TIMES

Illustrations: I just had them and felt like sharing.

One more day

By

Czar Donic

Well, I can not even believe myself anymore when I write that this is it. This final edition, So why bother? Never lie on purpose, I always say.

Really, how obviously absurd can things get? Now the big story is how many record cases we have of covid. “We’ve beat this thing," the administration says. People even argue that they believe it. I simply cannot top that.

Israeli soldiers on Tuesday killed 27-year-old Ahmed Erekat at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank as he was on his way to pick up his sister, who was set to be married that night. Ahmed Erekat is the nephew of senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and cousin of Palestinian American legal scholar Noura Erakat, who says Israeli claims that Ahmed was attempting a car-ramming attack on soldiers are completely unfounded. “What we understand is that Ahmed lost control of his car or was confused while he was in his car. That was all it took to have a knee-jerk reaction … and immediately to cause the soldiers to open fire on him multiple times,” she says.

Jim

Posted in Uncategorized by @honestcharlie on June 28, 2020

It is Ridiculous

Posted in Uncategorized by @honestcharlie on June 14, 2020

THE ABSURD TIMES

With everything else going on, this continues unchecked.

Ridiculous Under Trump

By

Czar Donic

Before we get to our discussion, perhaps a few comments: The Confederate flag is a phony. The real one had a circular corner, much like the original U.S. flag. Also, both Davis and Lee said, paraphrased: “Hey, it’s over. We lost. Get over it." The statues were all erected years after both men had died. Lincoln had begun a “reconstruction” program to rehabilitate the south, but was assonated and the plan was stopped by his Vice President, Johnson, who was a segregationist and impeached. He was stopped from impeachment by one vote, By a senator featured in JFKs’ Profiles in Courage although Kennedy did not know that his vote had been bought with a bribe. Also, one of the most amusing statements by Obama was on late night television when asked why Donald Trump seemed to dislike him so much: “Well, it goes back to when we attended Junior High together back in Kenya while playing in a football game.”

Now to our feature: Angela Davis is a Ph.D. from the University of Critical Theory, usually referred to as the “Frankfurt School”. She began her dissertation with Adorno in Europe, but retured to the United States when she got news of the girls blown up in a church in Alabama and began her civil rights activity. She was able to complete her dissertation with Habermas who was already in the U.S. She is now a Professor Emeritus. (She also spent some time in prison as a Black Panther.) Later, Adorno apparently arrived in the U.S. long enough to advise Thomas Mann on the 12-tone theory of music by Arnold Schoenberg, but that is of little consequence in this context.

Here she is as recently interviewed on the program Democracy Now:

Amid a worldwide uprising against police brutality and racism, we discuss the historic moment with legendary scholar and activist Angela Davis. She also responds to the destruction and removal of racist monuments in cities across the United States; President Trump’s upcoming rally on Juneteenth in Tulsa, the site of a white mob’s massacre of Black people; and the 2020 election, in which two parties “connected to corporate capitalism” will compete for the presidency and people will have to be persuaded to vote “so the current occupant of the White House is forever ousted.”

2 cures

Posted in Uncategorized by @honestcharlie on June 5, 2020

Monday, June 01, 2020

A Couple of Viruses

THE ABSURD TIMES

The Decameron by Boccaio. I hope I’m not violating anyone’s copyright privileges. If I am, sue me. Actually, the stories in the book (I assume you’ve at least heard of it) are written during the great plague of the 14th Century but which lasted, more or less, until the 18th (and the virus still exists) in England (see Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year) and which Nostradamus managed to help contain. It is a collection of stories that supposedly were told by a group of well off citizens who shut themselves off from the city at large (we adroitly call this "social distancing" when it is really physical distancing) and told one another stories to pass the time. In the Monty Python movie you hear the chant "BRING OUT YOUR DEAD, BRING OUT YOUR DEAD". Well, That was part of the same plague. We had a more recent one called the "Spanish Flu" which killed 2 million back in 1919, but that one started in our Midwest at some army base (Kansas or Nebraska, I think). The difference then was a lack of mass communication. It did take place after the first Chicago Cubs World Series win, but still even before radio. Well, on with the show!

Some Cures and Viruses
By
Czar Donic

Before I start: some of this was put together before the so-called "Memorial Day" (during which nobody remembered anything) vacation, so I have to make it clear that none of it is to justify the hormone-driven, hyper-orgiastic, communal bathing and air-sharing activities that took place, things performed by morons with no idea of what contagion means. I seriously doubt that such moronic fools even read this, so this is done simply to absolve myself of any association with any of these low-life morons.

Damn it, it’s a matter of being pro-or anti-Trump whether or not you wear a mask? Come off it. I’m not playing that game.

Back when we had one of our profitable wars, I went back and buried myself in reading, starting from the Norman invasion (1060). Even memorized the Lords prayer in one of the dialects of the period, but it never came up in conversation. Now I think I’ll go back to Bach and work myself up. That does get on the dance floor much these days either, but who cares?

All these riots take me back to Chicago 68. Lot of the cops were friend/gang members I got along with. One asked me "Whose side youse on?"
Since he had to slip into his vernacular, I went into mine: "Man, like whadya think? I’m gonna wear a uniform like you and you wanna see me carry a stick? You seen me with a bat. Wanna give me a small bat? You nuts. "Sides, the chick over here look a lot better than your hairy friends. Wanna talk logarithms, base ten, make it easy?"
No problem, he says and I had my own bodyguards then. I also did him a favor, told him "Now stay away from the hairy guys with the tear gas ’cause it’s coming right back at cha."
Then I had to talk to one of the organizers and try to find one of them who could listen to logic. Tom Hayden was the most likely, but he laid back most of the time. Everyone knew Abbie, but who was he going to be at any particular time? No way to tell. A could of Northwestern Grad Students, but they were out of the city – Evanston. Finally, I get someone and let him know that first make sure you have some thick gloves because those things are hot and second, it’s best to try to throw it like a discus, but if you have time to handle it like a baseball, go ahead.

So, am I stuck in the old days? Seems not as we got MN right now and the Orange man fighting it out with Twitter. A real macho guy, eh? Well, MN is not Chicago, but you have the same things going on – only difference is that the MN mayor fired the cops and Daley ordered them to "shoot to main or kill." We had the same right wing asses saying "Looting brings firepower," as if he was real macho. We got the same old shit. Only thing was we had a division of labor.
See, in order to cover everything, we got together and all decided that the civil rights were the black peoples fight and Viet Name was for the White Boys to fight. We all knew what happened to any black leader who spoke up about foreign policy, so we went along.

Today things are different. Over 40 cities are seeing demonstrations and there is nobody to speak out. There is no JFK to speak about "when peaceful change is stopped, violent change is inevitable" (words to that effect). No MLK to say "Riots are the language of the unheard". When MLK was assassinated, Bobby Kennedy spoke to his campaign rally in Indianapolis and it was the only city that didn’t go up in flames. Even Bill Clinton spoke well about listening and calmed a national crowd. Forget about finding an FDR. We have a Donald Trump telling Governors not to be so weak and then placed in a bunker (where he should have been kept).
When we talk about and see the violence, we don’t see the white nationalists or white neo-nazis, but they are there, and are armed with spray cans Showing their historical and literary good taste one faction calls itself "The Boogaloo Boys," kind of a Charles Manson agenda. What do we get from Billy Barr? Easy, go after Antifa. Some progressives claim their lives were saved by such a group, but there are only individuals who act on an intermittent basis.
Anyway, much is going on, and the longer I’m doing this, the further behind I get. So I’m uploading it now:

In Minneapolis, the curfew started well. There were no police to be seen and it seemed as though Mayor Frey had settled things in a very smooth way. As soon as the murder took place, he fired all four cops that were involved and eventually murder charges were filed against the main cop who had his knee of the handcuffed guy’s neck for almost 10 minutes, and for the last three minutes the guy was already dead! It took awhile for these charges to be filed, however, and some were disappointed to find they were only 3rd degree.
Well, you have to look at what you need to prove for a charge to stick and 2nd and 1st degree involves convincing a jury of what was going on in the cops hard, if anything. Even proving that thought was a part of it would be tricky. Still, he was in charge of training, TRAINING, for field operations. Maybe he thought, THOUGHT, that some sort of immunity applied to him?
Well, things got going in other cities. This was NOT Grant Park. This was the entire United States with, in a favorite phrase, chickens come home to roost, although I never personally witnessed that particular phenomenon. Because of the ranting of the neo-fascist Trump, this was to spread. Now, this Trump guy, leader of the MAGA party, opened his ugly mouth and shouted "MAGA LOVES AFRICAN AMERICAN AND BLACK PEOPLE," COME HOME TO US! Well, he has 3% approval there and his followers march around with confederate and Nazi flags, carrying guns, and storm trooping the capital of the Governor of Michigan. Why is he kidding?
Of course, New York had to be included, as well as Pennsylvania, Chicago, Los Angeles, Oakland, and dozens of places around the country. His lawyer, Billy Barr, decided it was a left wing anarchist group and inspired by Putin. Whatever you want to say about Putin, he is NOT capable of organizing riots in all of those cities. CNN was attacked in Atlanta, a town mainly black in the middle with a ring of whitish suburbs around it. The mayor talked about being a mother and the first thing she did was call her son and ask him where he was because it was no place for a black child to be, no way. All the cops were white as far as we could see. She mentioned the great Ted Turner as well, and why not? Trump chose to go after CNN and a CNN reported was arrested live on CNN in Minneapolis just that morning, of course with a first name like Jose, what do you expect?
When they talk about "outside agitators," it sounds suspicious, but almost all of those arrested were from out of state. They were also pretty stupid. First, they started looting stores in the ‘hood, and second, even the Dollar Store! If you want to be a thief, do some thinking first.
So, this is not all about George Floyd, the guy what who was slowly and methodically murdered. That was just the spark that set it off. No, he was like the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austriawho was assassinated in 1914. And in that case, it was probably an excuse for something waiting to happen. Well, George Floyd’s execution, all 10 minutes of it, was recorded and appeared on television set across the United States. If it was a mass rebellion against anything, it was against racist neo-fascism.
And mass is the right word for it. One network put up a map of the U.S. where such demonstrations took place and the map was spotted, north and south, east and west, and there was no time to even start counting. Will this get anything done? All we know is that warm weather is in the country now and will be for some time, certainly until the election. Many people, maybe 40 million, are "laid off" and fired and many supposed to work from home. Right now, things do not look good for Republicans, but there is serious uncertainty about structural, let alone cultural, change – and this applies to all involved. It is a great deal to expect in a matter of six or seven months, and we should all know it.

Well, back to the other virus:
Now, Vietnam was bad, but Trump managed to kill as many as Vietnam and Korea combined in 3 months. I really didn’t think we could get more fucked up than we already were, but we underestimated his incompetence, and incontinence.

You know why the blond chick from New York went after Franken, don’t you? It’s because of the way Franken deconstructed Zuckerberg at the Senate hearing. Check it out at You tube.

As a sample, D.C., Brooklyn, rest of New York, Louisville (birth of Hunter Thompson and Mohammed Ali), Atlanta, Minneapolis, Denver, LA, Oakland all went up. That’s a hell of a lot of "outside agitators" for Putin to muster and organize. Putin doesn’t care about American Cops – he’s just glad to have a free hand on his continent.

Yes, we are getting tired of it. Maybe there are some things that would help.

Donald Trump says he has never taken a mind-altering drug in his life. Well, maybe he should start. It might be just the thing he needs to help put things right. Slip him a large dose of acid and send him on a trip. He’s been on trips before, so why not? Maybe being without an ego for 12 hours or so will help clear things up for him. Once he puts himself back together, if he can figure out how to do it, maybe he will make sense?

This is honestly getting ridiculous, so I’ll just leave one further bit of information. It really isn’t anything new, and it will probably go nowhere since it is difficult to capitalize on. You know how ever so often a network or wire service will release a bit of information and then suppress it forever? It just slipped though, that’s all.

Well, the last one came from a cable news outlet concerning New York’s subway system. To disinfect the damn thing, they’ve installed some lights that flash some ultraviolet light on the whole train while it is empty. Kills every germ and virus exposed. Now, people have known this a long time. At one time, long ago, I would sometimes get something on my left arm, curious in itself, that the Dr. said was growing. Shit! Something growing on my left arm? What is this world coming to? I want out. Where’s the next planet?

He told me not to worry. He took out a lamp he had used for years, ultraviolet, and placed a piece of paper on my arm, but with a hole in it so only that growing stuff on my arm was exposed, and zapped it for a minute or so. The stuff just died. Later on, some company found some sort of cream that would kill the same stuff and they could charge for it and that was the end of the lamp. I never had the problem again either. It must have had something to do with Lake Michigan, but never mind.

Later on I came across a remark in some forward or afterward by Bernard Shaw written in the late 19th or early 20th century. He mentioned that rivers usually were much cleaner downstream, even from filthy cities like London; say 20 or 30 miles downstream. The reason, of course, even in England which is not know as the land of sunshine, did have sunny days and the sun, with its ultraviolet light, would kill and disinfect the river along the way. Surely, we can figure out a way to get into the sun? Or maybe flood areas with ultraviolet light every so often?

I’ve noticed now that doctors are talking about how this stuff doesn’t stay around as long as they have been saying. I wonder if there is some connection?

Anyway, Memorial Day comes wherein we supposedly honor and remember all those we induced to die shooting and bombing one another for the mutual benefit of the tycoons of all countries involved. And then it goes. And everyone returns to work, resolved to despise any members of some other readily identifiable group.

See, it doesn’t matter as long as we can get people to hate other people rather than figure out that corporations and big money are screwing them.

So long for now.
* * *

We add the history of epidemics. It has some facts you may find surprising and useful. This is one program that still reports what’s going on. At one time, a group of corporations tried to take over the show, in fact the entire Pacifica Network. Well, enough people got together and stopped it from happening, but it was close. 9/11 came along and other opportunities presented themselves.

AMYGOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! Democracynow.org, The Quarantine Report. I’m Amy Goodman. Forty-eight states are at least partially reopening this week, even as more than a dozen states are seeing an uptick in cases, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns the U.S. death toll will pass 100,000 by the beginning of June. Last week, ousted U.S. vaccine chief Rick Bright testified that if the U.S. fails to improve its response to the virus, COVID-19 could resurge after summer and lead to the "darkest winter in modern history." Coronavirus hot spots Italy and United Kingdom are both also slowly reopening businesses.
This comes as the World Health Organization will meet virtually today with all 194 member states, and the global coronavirus death count passes 315,000 with more than 4.7 million confirmed infections. This is Dr. Mike Ryan, head of the World Health Organization’s Emergencies Programme, speaking at a recent briefing.
DR. MICHAELRYAN: To put this on the table, this virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities. And this virus may never go away. HIV has not gone away, but we’ve come to terms with the virus.

AMYGOODMAN: Well, as global leaders prepare to discuss what to expect in the months and years to come, we’re going to look back today at the history of pandemics and how they end, with the renowned historian Frank Snowden. He’s a professor emeritus of the history of medicine at Yale University and author of the new book, Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present. Professor Snowden is joining us from Rome, Italy, where he traveled for research before the coronavirus outbreak and has remained under quarantine since. He has recently recovered from COVID-19 himself. He also lived through a cholera outbreak in Rome while conducting research there almost half a century ago.
In his book, Professor Snowden writes, quote, "Epidemic diseases are not random events that afflict societies capriciously and without warning. On the contrary, every society produces its own specific vulnerabilities. To study them is to understand that society’s structure, its standard of living, and its political priorities."
Professor Frank Snowden, it’s wonderful to have you with us, albeit from Rome, where you’re under lockdown. What an amazing history yourself, as you are an expert in pandemics. In Italy, you survived the cholera outbreak half a century ago, and now, though getting COVID-19, you have survived this coronavirus pandemic. Can you talk about those two experiences?
FRANKSNOWDEN: Oh, certainly. Thank you. I’m delighted to be with you.
And the cholera outbreak was in 1973. It’s one of the reasons that I was — I took up an interest in the field, because the sorts of events that I was witnessing as a young man were quite extraordinary. They included such things as — Naples was the epicenter. Rome was nonetheless affected, but Naples was the center. And cars with Naples license plates were being stoned in the center of Rome. And there are open-air markets in Rome, and the vendors there were having their stalls overturned, and they were being attacked by crowds as being guilty of spreading the disease.
At the same time, Italy, at this time, let’s remember, was the seventh industrial power in the world, in the 1970s. And the minister of health of this power went on television. And what he did was to say that the microbe that causes the cholera is exquisitely sensitive to acid, so all you need to do is to take a lemon and squeeze just a bit of it on your raw muscles, and then you’ll be perfectly safe. And, of course, if you believe that, you’re likely to believe just about anything. And so, it was this sort of event that caught my attention.
And later on, when I was studying something else entirely, there was a cholera outbreak in Italy, and I began thinking, in my studies, that actually this showed more conclusively what values were in Italy, in Italian society, what living standards were, and so on, than any other kind of work that I might do. And so I moved into studying the history of epidemic diseases, and I’ve been doing that alongside an interest in modern Italian history, those two things ever since. So, that’s the cholera story.
With the coronavirus story is that I finished a book, my book that you mentioned, kindly, in October. It was published then. And I had been quite concerned about the possibility of a major pandemic disease — not just myself, but many people were — and I wrote that in the book. And so, I was stunned, though. I didn’t know when it was likely to happen; I thought one day in the future. And so I was stunned that in December the epidemic started.
And then, by the time I came to Italy in January, it really began to ramp up. And very soon, I was living in the epicenter of the coronavirus at that time. So, that was a very important experience for me. I was not able to do the research I came to do, and I’ve devoted myself ever since to doing that. And I guess you might say that I had a little bit too much enthusiasm for my work and caught the disease myself — fortunately, a mild case, and I’m here to tell the tale, and so I was lucky in that regard. But I certainly have had a close look at this event, this series of events, in Italy, and I’ve been reading intensively about it and talking to people about it around the world.
AMYGOODMAN: And our condolences on the death of your sister just a few weeks ago.
FRANKSNOWDEN: Oh, aren’t you kind? Yes, that was not a result of coronavirus, but, yes, and I wasn’t able to go back. And that’s, you know, another part of the times we’re living in. Thank you.
AMYGOODMAN: I mean, your family history is so fascinating, your father the first African American envoy to Italy in the 1950s. He goes on to write Blacks in Antiquity and Before Color Prejudice. And your connection, all of these years, to studying Italy, until now — you are locked down there for months. Can you talk about the comparison of the lockdown there and what you’re viewing, your country here, the United States? You joked about — not really joked, but talked about lemon as a cure. Do you see comparisons to the president of the United States, President Trump, telling people to inject themselves with disinfectants?
FRANKSNOWDEN: I’m glad you asked that question. And I would say that what I’ve observed here, I’ve heard a lot of discussion across — in the States, about Italy’s terrible response to the coronavirus. And I find that surprising, because it seems to me quite the opposite.
First thing has to do with compliance. And there, I think a lot has to do with the messaging. That is to say that in this country, you have a single health authority, and it acted — it acted quickly and responsibly, and it imposed social distancing. And as it did so, there wasn’t a cacophony of noise from a president speaking differently from his advisers, differently from the governments of 50 states, from local school boards, local mayors, different members of Congress. No, there was one policy. It was announced. It was explained very clearly to the population that until we have a vaccine, that we have exactly one weapon to deal with this emergency, and that’s social distancing. And therefore, if we — Italians were told, if we Italians want to save our country, we have to do it together. We’re all in the same boat. This is the only means available to save the country, to save our families, to protect our communities, to protect ourselves.
And as a result, there’s been — and I’ve observed this even in the neighborhood where I’m living, that the compliance has been extraordinary. There haven’t been protests against it as in the States. And I would say that it’s interesting that the local newspaper — it’s called Il Messaggero, which means "The Messenger" — had an article in which it said this is the first time in 3,000 years of Rome’s history that the population of Romans has ever been obedient. And I think that’s because people were — the government was very clear. Vans went through the neighborhoods. There were posters everywhere. The regulations were explained to everyone. They were very severe, more severe than in the States. But people were justifiably afraid. The government explained why this was a danger, and people were afraid, and they wanted to do something.
I myself heard the kinds of conversations that people had when they were waiting outside grocery stores, were wearing their masks, and they were conversing with each other and saying things like "I wonder if this was like the way it was during World War II. Is this maybe the way it was during the Blitz in London, that everyone is in this together, it’s a terrible sacrifice, but this is what we have to do?" This was the attitude that I observed.
And now that I’m able to go outside again the last few days, I’ve observed on the streets again that this compliance is continuing. People have been well educated in the dangers of the coronavirus. And quite frankly, no one wants it to surge up again. I would say that’s the basis of it.
The opposite is happening and has happened in the United States, where we had, as I said, this cacophony of fragmented authorities all saying different things in an extraordinarily confusing way, and our great CDC, the world sort of model, the gold standard for emergency response, being underfunded and almost invisible throughout this crisis. So, it’s been staggering, a country that has extraordinary medical centers, has this extraordinary CDC, wonderful doctors, an extraordinary tradition of scientific research in universities, national labs like the NIH, and yet — and yet, when this virus approaches, it has been unable to respond — unwilling to respond, in a scientific, coherent way with a single message to the American public. And so the public is confused.
AMYGOODMAN: And you have the president also defunding the World Health Organization, an organization you have studied for years. You quote Bruce Aylward of the World Health Organization upon his return from China. Can you tell us what he said, Professor Snowden?
FRANKSNOWDEN: Yes. He said that the world — China has had a model response, and the world will soon realize that it owes China a debt of gratitude for the long window of opportunity it provided by delaying the further onset of this virus, which gave the world a chance to prepare to meet it. That’s essentially what he said on return.
AMYGOODMAN: Did he also talk about people having to change their hearts and minds to deal with this global catastrophe?
FRANKSNOWDEN: Yes. That was the second thing he said, that he said we must be prepared. And people said, "Well, how do we prepare?" And he said, "The first thing that happens is that we need to change our hearts and minds, because that’s the premise for everything else that we need to do."
AMYGOODMAN: Professor Frank Snowden, you have long studied epidemics, and I was wondering if, in the brief time we have together, though we do have the whole show — if you can go back in time to the bubonic plague and very briefly talk about the Black Death, caused by a bacteria, then move on to smallpox, how it wiped out Indigenous people, from Haiti to the United States, and its connection to — this caused by a virus — its connection to colonization, to colonialism. Start with the Black Death.
FRANKSNOWDEN: Oh, absolutely. The Black Death reached Western Europe in 1347. It broke out first in the city of Messina in Sicily and spread through the whole continent. And it lasted until, in Western Europe — the story to the east is rather different, but in Western Europe, the last case was once again in Messina in 1734. So, that makes, unless I have my math wrong, 400 years in which it ravaged Europe and killed extraordinary numbers of people.
Now, this is a disease that’s spread by fleas, also by — and they’re carried by rats. It also can be spread through the air in a pulmonary form. And it’s extraordinarily lethal. It’s something like 50% of those who get the disease from being bitten by fleas perish. Nowadays we have antibiotics, but at the time of the Black Death, we didn’t, of course, and so 50% of those afflicted died. And the pneumonic version of the disease is 100% lethal. Even today, it’s almost 100% lethal.
And so, this is an extraordinarily dangerous disease. Its symptoms are also extremely powerful, painful and dehumanizing, and patients die in agony. And this can — it strikes very quickly, and so people can also be struck down in public. And so this becomes a terrifying public spectacle as people collapse in the streets. So, this —
AMYGOODMAN: Professor Snowden, the people suffered from what? Buboes, these massive inflammations of the lymph nodes?
FRANKSNOWDEN: Yes. That’s as the disease spreads from the flea bite to the lymph node. There’s a massive inflammation, and you have a swelling, let us say, in your thigh or under your armpit or in your neck, that’s maybe the size of an orange, a large navel orange, under your skin. And it was said to be so painful that people even jumped into the — in London, into the Thames, into the Arno in Florence, to escape from the agony of this terrible pain they were suffering.
But there were other symptoms, as well: terrible fevers and also hallucinations, as people — it has neurological effects. That’s part of the dehumanizing side of it. There are these skin discolorations. There are many symptoms, and it’s an entirely dreadful and horrible disease.
It still exists, by the way. There are people who think that it’s just a medieval disease. No, there are something like 3,000 people around the world who die of bubonic plague every year, and some — a trickle in the United States, in the Southwest in particular, where there is a reservoir of it. So, it’s still there.
AMYGOODMAN: You knew a woman in Arizona who had bubonic plague?
FRANKSNOWDEN: Yes, I knew someone in Arizona who got the bubonic plague, because they’re a disease — endemic disease of prairie dogs in the Southwest of the United States. And if pet dogs are taken out into areas where the prairie dogs live, they can have an exchange of fleas, and the fleas can be brought back to a hotel or motel. And that’s what happened to my friend. There were contaminated fleas in the room where she slept, and therefore she became a — she survived but was a victim of bubonic plague in the 21st century. So, we could be —
AMYGOODMAN: Professor Snowden, you talk about the bubonic plague, the responses to it, being quarantined, the sanitary cordons, mass surveillance and other forms of state power. And I also want to follow that through with these pandemics, is you have — you also are a scholar of fascism and the direction countries can go when such a crisis happens.
FRANKSNOWDEN: Yes. Well, one of the things, I think, if a 15th century Florentine were to come back in a time machine today to look at what we as a society are doing, he or she would find it a rather familiar landscape. That is to say, the things that you’re saying were adopted and devised as self-protection by the Italian city-states that were at the center of the trade in the Mediterranean, and so were repeatedly scourged.
So, yes, there was this terrible disease, and they dealt with it by creating health magistrates — we call them boards of health — by creating the first forms of personal protective equipment, PPE, the masks, the long gowns, social distancing, hospital systems for dealing with this one single disease, the measure of quarantine — "quarantine" even being an Italian word, "quaranta," for 40 days, because people were locked down for 40 days before they were released. It had sanitary cordons. All of this was part of the defensive measures that we see today and that were also present during the Spanish influenza.
Public health was a legacy of the bubonic plague. So, while we look at these terrible events, we also need to remember that human beings are inventive and that there have been silver linings. The development of public health, the development of science and scientific medicine are also gifts of these terrible events. And indeed, I would say that the modern state is also part of — it was molded in part by the need for a centralized authority as part of our life protective system. So, yes, the bubonic plague does that, and it affected every area of society.
It’s not true to say that pandemics all do the same things. There are some things that have been repeated again and again. During the bubonic plague, the Black Death, the first years of it, there was this horrible surge of anti-Semitism across Europe, in France, in the Rhineland, in northern Italy, elsewhere. And this was, in a way, the first Holocaust, when Jews were persecuted and put to death, not just in spontaneous ways by crowds, but the bureaucratic apparatuses of political authorities were used to torture Jews into submission, to confessing crimes that of course they had never committed, and then they were judged and burned. The Holy Roman Empire did this, and local authorities and leaders of city-states. So this was a systematic purging and killing of Jews, who were thought to have — or so the case against them was that they were trying to put an end to Christendom and were poisoning the wells of Christians. And so, you have Jews tortured, broken on the wheel, burned alive, run through by the sword, and so on.
So, this xenophobia is — this blame, scapegoating, we see that today with the coronavirus. It’s something that can happen, has repeatedly happened, with the idea that this is a Chinese disease. It’s a foreign disease, we’re told, and therefore shutting borders against "Chinamen." And we see that Chinese Americans, children being attacked in schools, Chinese Americans afraid to ride alone on the New York subway and arranging to travel in groups so they won’t do that. This is part of a long-term legacy of these diseases. And we see it in Europe, as well. Chinatowns were deserted long before the coronavirus actually arrived. And the right-wing nationalist politicians of Europe have been using that, saying it’s been imported by immigrants. So, that’s one of the false stories that’s followed in the wake of this. So that’s another really terrible recurring feature of these pandemic diseases.
They don’t always lead to — you were asking about does this always increase state power. Well, certainly, the Black Death in Eastern Europe, there were authoritarian countries, and they used these draconian, violent measures. Yes, it was part of their assertion of power. Indeed, this is one reason that these draconian measures appealed, because rulers, not knowing what to do, this gave the impression that they did: They knew what they were doing, and they were taking decisive measures. And so, it was thought that these sorts of measures would possibly be effective, and would certainly be a display of power and resolution. So, we do see that happening.
But let’s take the Spanish influenza of 1918, when, again, it’s a good comparison to today, because it was the time — it’s a respiratory disease. It was terribly much more contagious than this and deadly. Something like 100 million people are thought to have died around the world as a result of the Spanish influenza. And people practiced social distancing. Assemblies were banned. The wearing of masks was compulsory. Spitting in public, which was very popular at the time, was forbidden, and there were heavy fines in places like New York City for doing so. But it doesn’t result — measures were taken, but they were revoked at the end of the emergency, and one doesn’t find this leading, as it may in some countries, to a long-term reassertion of draconian power by political authorities.
With COVID-19, I think the message is mixed. And remember, anything anyone says about it, we have to remember that this is very early in this pandemic, and so we’ll have to wait and see what the final results will be. But we know already that Hungary and Poland have witnessed rulers who use COVID-19 as a cover for ulterior motives of becoming prime minister for life, with the capacity to rule by decree, to censor and shut down the press, to put their political enemies under arrest and so on. And those aren’t public health measures. So, I would say, yes, it has this potential, but it’s not necessarily something that we’ll see around the globe, although there is that danger, and we’ve seen those two countries where it clearly is leading to exactly those results.
AMYGOODMAN: Frank Snowden, we have to break. Then we’re going to come back, and I want to ask you about smallpox, about Haiti, the island of Hispaniola, and about Native Americans. Frank Snowden, professor emeritus of history of medicine at Yale University, author of the new book, Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present. He is speaking to us from the lockdown in Rome, Italy. Stay with us.
[break]
AMYGOODMAN: "Killing Me Softly with His Song," performed by Marcella Bella. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The Quarantine Report. We’re spending the hour with professor Frank Snowden, professor emeritus of history of medicine at Yale University, author of the book Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present. He has devoted his life to looking at epidemics and teaching thousands of students. He is now in Rome, Italy, where he has been for months, coincidentally went there for another project but got caught in the lockdown, got COVID-19, has recovered from that, and we are lucky enough to have him as our guest for the hour.
Professor Snowden, take us to Hispaniola in 1492, a different version of history that we learn about Hernán Cortés and Pizarro, from the Incas in Peru to the Aztecs of Mexico, what happened in Haiti and in the United States when it came to smallpox.
FRANKSNOWDEN: Yes. Well, Columbus landed at Hispaniola, the first place. His idea — the Arawaks were the Native population, and there were a couple of million inhabiting the island when he arrived. His idea was that he would be able to reduce them to slavery. He wrote about how friendly the Arawaks were and how welcoming to him, his ships and his men. But I’m afraid that the hospitality wasn’t reciprocal. And Columbus’s view was this was a money-making expedition, and here it would be wonderful to have the Native population as mines in slaves, and mines to cultivate the fields.
The problem was that there was a differential mortality. This has come to be called the Columbian exchange. That is to say that Native populations in the New World didn’t have the same history of exposure to various diseases, and therefore not the same herd immunity to them. The most dramatic example is smallpox. Measles was another. That is to say that Native Americans had never experienced those diseases. Columbus and his men, on the other hand, had, because it was rife in Europe. And so, unintentionally, for the most part, the Arawaks simply died off as they were exposed to these new diseases, smallpox and measles, and by 15, 20 years later, there were just a couple thousand left.
And it was at this time that in Hispaniola there was the beginning — this is one of the reasons for the beginning of the African slave trade. The Native population of the United States died from these diseases, and so the Europeans turned instead to importing people from Africa, because they shared many of the same bacterial histories, and therefore immunities, and could survive being enslaved in the Caribbean and then in the New World, on North America and also in South America. So, we get the beginning of the slave trade in part as a result to this differential immunity.
This, then, on the wider scale of the New World, this was something that was — devastated the Native population. When the Spaniards, the British, the French came, the Native population contracted their diseases and just was destroyed. This destroyed the Inca and Aztec empires. In fact, they were so devastated, that they lost their religion. They thought the White man had much more powerful gods than they did, and so this drove the missionary and conversion experience, as well, and cleared the land for European settlers across the whole of the continent. This was a tremendous impact of smallpox disease. It’s called a virgin soil disease because they were so — the population had never experienced it and had no herd immunity.
There’s an irony that we can see. Let’s go back to Hispaniola, that is now the island divided between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. And let’s talk about Haiti. It was Saint-Domingue at the time, by the 18th century certainly. And let’s remember that the French — this is now an island that had become, extraordinarily enough to think, the wealthiest colony in the world, the jewel of the French Empire. And that is because of its sugar plantations. And the sugar was exported to Europe and was the foundation of French wealth in this period. And slaves are continuing to be imported throughout the 18th century at breakneck speed to cultivate the fields of sugarcane.
During the French Revolution, French power was neutralized. The attitude of the French revolutionaries toward slavery was entirely different. And you got this upsurge of the slaves with the greatest slave revolt in history, led by the Haitian Spartacus, Toussaint Louverture. And the colony was functionally operating under Toussaint Louverture’s control and was independent of France. Napoleon — there was regime change, however, by 1799, and Napoleon comes to power. And by 1803, he’s thinking that he wishes to put an end to this rebellion, to restore the Haitian rebels, to reenslave them and to restore the colony to being this economic warehouse for France. So he sends a tremendous armada, led by a general who was married to his sister Pauline. And it was something like 60,000 troops and sailors who were sent to the former Hispaniola, now Saint-Domingue, to crush the revolt.
Once again, we see a difference in immunity to disease that proved decisive. That is to say that yellow fever was something to which the African slaves had a differential immunity, whereas Europeans had no immunity. They had no history of experience with yellow fever. And so, what happens is that the French soldiers in Saint-Domingue begin to die at a rapid rate of a terrible epidemic of yellow fever that sweeps through the Caribbean and especially through Saint-Domingue. And what happens, by — Toussaint Louverture was very aware of this and took advantage of it, luring the French troops, not fighting them in pitched battles but only small guerrilla campaigns, waiting for the summer months to come, and an upsurge of the disease, which happens. And pretty soon the French commander writes to Paris to say —
AMYGOODMAN: Professor Snowden, I’m only interrupting because we only have a minute. Of course, Haiti becomes the first country born of a slave rebellion, as you are so graphically describing with an alternative view of history, that many may not have understood, with the role of disease. But in this last minute we have, I wanted to ask you about how pandemics end and what you think will happen now.
FRANKSNOWDEN: I think there’s not one answer to that. Pandemics are all different, and they end in different ways. Some die out because of sanitary measures that people take against them, so that we’re not vulnerable in the industrial world to cholera or typhoid fever, that are spread through the oral-fecal group, because we have sewers and clean, safe drinking water. And other diseases end, like smallpox, because of vaccination, the development of a scientific tool. So it really depends. Some diseases are not very good candidates for vaccines.
And I would say that COVID-19, I’m sure that we will develop a vaccine, but I also fear that it may not be the — it won’t be the magic bullet that people believe, that it will put this behind us, because the sort of features you want are, for an ideal candidate, like smallpox, a vaccine that doesn’t have an animal reservoir so it can’t return to us. A vaccine is an ideal candidate if in nature it produces a robust immunity in the human body, so people, having once had it, are totally immune for life. That doesn’t seem to be the case with COVID-19. So I expect it to become long-term with us. We’re going to have to learn to live with this disease. It’s probably going to become an endemic disease, and so we’re going to have to adjust to —
AMYGOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there. And I want to thank you so much, Professor Frank Snowden, professor emeritus of history of medicine at Yale University, author of the new book, Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present. I’m Amy Goodman. Stay safe.
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Posted by Czar Donic at 12:04 PM
Labels: Neo-Nazi, Riot, Trump, Virus, Whit Riot

A Couple of Viruses

Posted in Uncategorized by @honestcharlie on June 1, 2020

THE ABSURD TIMES

The Decameron by Boccaio. I hope I’m not violating anyone’s copyright privileges. If I am, sue me. Actually, the stories in the book (I assume you’ve at least heard of it) are written during the great plague of the 14th Century but which lasted, more or less, until the 18th (and the virus still exists) in England (see Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year) and which Nostradamus managed to help contain. It is a collection of stories that supposedly were told by a group of well off citizens who shut themselves off from the city at large (we adroitly call this “social distancing" when it is really physical distancing) and told one another stories to pass the time. In the Monty Python movie you hear the chant “BRING OUT YOUR DEAD, BRING OUT YOUR DEAD". Well, That was part of the same plague. We had a more recent one called the “Spanish Flu" which killed 2 million back in 1919, but that one started in our Midwest at some army base (Kansas or Nebraska, I think). The difference then was a lack of mass communication. It did take place after the first Chicago Cubs World Series win, but still even before radio. Well, on with the show!

Some Cures and Viruses

By

Czar Donic

Before I start: some of this was put together before the so-called “Memorial Day” (during which nobody remembered anything) vacation, so I have to make it clear that none of it is to justify the hormone-driven, hyper-orgiastic, communal bathing and air-sharing activities that took place, things performed by morons with no idea of what contagion means. I seriously doubt that such moronic fools even read this, so this is done simply to absolve myself of any association with any of these low-life morons.

Damn it, it’s a matter of being pro-or anti-Trump whether or not you wear a mask? Come off it. I’m not playing that game.

Back when we had one of our profitable wars, I went back and buried myself in reading, starting from the Norman invasion (1060). Even memorized the Lords prayer in one of the dialects of the period, but it never came up in conversation. Now I think I’ll go back to Bach and work myself up. That does get on the dance floor much these days either, but who cares?

All these riots take me back to Chicago 68. Lot of the cops were friend/gang members I got along with. One asked me “Whose side youse on?"

Since he had to slip into his vernacular, I went into mine: "Man, like whadya think? I’m gonna wear a uniform like you and you wanna see me carry a stick? You seen me with a bat. Wanna give me a small bat? You nuts. “Sides, the chick over here look a lot better than your hairy friends. Wanna talk logarithms, base ten, make it easy?"

No problem, he says and I had my own bodyguards then. I also did him a favor, told him “Now stay away from the hairy guys with the tear gas ’cause it’s coming right back at cha.”

Then I had to talk to one of the organizers and try to find one of them who could listen to logic. Tom Hayden was the most likely, but he laid back most of the time. Everyone knew Abbie, but who was he going to be at any particular time? No way to tell. A could of Northwestern Grad Students, but they were out of the city – Evanston. Finally, I get someone and let him know that first make sure you have some thick gloves because those things are hot and second, it’s best to try to throw it like a discus, but if you have time to handle it like a baseball, go ahead.

So, am I stuck in the old days? Seems not as we got MN right now and the Orange man fighting it out with Twitter. A real macho guy, eh? Well, MN is not Chicago, but you have the same things going on – only difference is that the MN mayor fired the cops and Daley ordered them to “shoot to main or kill.” We had the same right wing asses saying "Looting brings firepower," as if he was real macho. We got the same old shit. Only thing was we had a division of labor.

See, in order to cover everything, we got together and all decided that the civil rights were the black peoples fight and Viet Name was for the White Boys to fight. We all knew what happened to any black leader who spoke up about foreign policy, so we went along.

Today things are different. Over 40 cities are seeing demonstrations and there is nobody to speak out. There is no JFK to speak about "when peaceful change is stopped, violent change is inevitable” (words to that effect). No MLK to say "Riots are the language of the unheard". When MLK was assassinated, Bobby Kennedy spoke to his campaign rally in Indianapolis and it was the only city that didn’t go up in flames. Even Bill Clinton spoke well about listening and calmed a national crowd. Forget about finding an FDR. We have a Donald Trump telling Governors not to be so weak and then placed in a bunker (where he should have been kept).

When we talk about and see the violence, we don’t see the white nationalists or white neo-nazis, but they are there, and are armed with spray cans Showing their historical and literary good taste one faction calls itself “The Boogaloo Boys,” kind of a Charles Manson agenda. What do we get from Billy Barr? Easy, go after Antifa. Some progressives claim their lives were saved by such a group, but there are only individuals who act on an intermittent basis.

Anyway, much is going on, and the longer I’m doing this, the further behind I get. So I’m uploading it now:

In Minneapolis, the curfew started well. There were no police to be seen and it seemed as though Mayor Frey had settled things in a very smooth way. As soon as the murder took place, he fired all four cops that were involved and eventually murder charges were filed against the main cop who had his knee of the handcuffed guy’s neck for almost 10 minutes, and for the last three minutes the guy was already dead! It took awhile for these charges to be filed, however, and some were disappointed to find they were only 3rd degree.

Well, you have to look at what you need to prove for a charge to stick and 2nd and 1st degree involves convincing a jury of what was going on in the cops hard, if anything. Even proving that thought was a part of it would be tricky. Still, he was in charge of training, TRAINING, for field operations. Maybe he thought, THOUGHT, that some sort of immunity applied to him?

Well, things got going in other cities. This was NOT Grant Park. This was the entire United States with, in a favorite phrase, chickens come home to roost, although I never personally witnessed that particular phenomenon. Because of the ranting of the neo-fascist Trump, this was to spread. Now, this Trump guy, leader of the MAGA party, opened his ugly mouth and shouted “MAGA LOVES AFRICAN AMERICAN AND BLACK PEOPLE,” COME HOME TO US! Well, he has 3% approval there and his followers march around with confederate and Nazi flags, carrying guns, and storm trooping the capital of the Governor of Michigan. Why is he kidding?

Of course, New York had to be included, as well as Pennsylvania, Chicago, Los Angeles, Oakland, and dozens of places around the country. His lawyer, Billy Barr, decided it was a left wing anarchist group and inspired by Putin. Whatever you want to say about Putin, he is NOT capable of organizing riots in all of those cities. CNN was attacked in Atlanta, a town mainly black in the middle with a ring of whitish suburbs around it. The mayor talked about being a mother and the first thing she did was call her son and ask him where he was because it was no place for a black child to be, no way. All the cops were white as far as we could see. She mentioned the great Ted Turner as well, and why not? Trump chose to go after CNN and a CNN reported was arrested live on CNN in Minneapolis just that morning, of course with a first name like Jose, what do you expect?

When they talk about “outside agitators," it sounds suspicious, but almost all of those arrested were from out of state. They were also pretty stupid. First, they started looting stores in the ‘hood, and second, even the Dollar Store! If you want to be a thief, do some thinking first.

So, this is not all about George Floyd, the guy what who was slowly and methodically murdered. That was just the spark that set it off. No, he was like the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austriawho was assassinated in 1914. And in that case, it was probably an excuse for something waiting to happen. Well, George Floyd’s execution, all 10 minutes of it, was recorded and appeared on television set across the United States. If it was a mass rebellion against anything, it was against racist neo-fascism.

And mass is the right word for it. One network put up a map of the U.S. where such demonstrations took place and the map was spotted, north and south, east and west, and there was no time to even start counting. Will this get anything done? All we know is that warm weather is in the country now and will be for some time, certainly until the election. Many people, maybe 40 million, are “laid off" and fired and many supposed to work from home. Right now, things do not look good for Republicans, but there is serious uncertainty about structural, let alone cultural, change – and this applies to all involved. It is a great deal to expect in a matter of six or seven months, and we should all know it.

Well, back to the other virus:

Now, Vietnam was bad, but Trump managed to kill as many as Vietnam and Korea combined in 3 months. I really didn’t think we could get more fucked up than we already were, but we underestimated his incompetence, and incontinence.

You know why the blond chick from New York went after Franken, don’t you? It’s because of the way Franken deconstructed Zuckerberg at the Senate hearing. Check it out at You tube.

As a sample, D.C., Brooklyn, rest of New York, Louisville (birth of Hunter Thompson and Mohammed Ali), Atlanta, Minneapolis, Denver, LA, Oakland all went up. That’s a hell of a lot of "outside agitators” for Putin to muster and organize. Putin doesn’t care about American Cops – he’s just glad to have a free hand on his continent.

Yes, we are getting tired of it. Maybe there are some things that would help.

Donald Trump says he has never taken a mind-altering drug in his life. Well, maybe he should start. It might be just the thing he needs to help put things right. Slip him a large dose of acid and send him on a trip. He’s been on trips before, so why not? Maybe being without an ego for 12 hours or so will help clear things up for him. Once he puts himself back together, if he can figure out how to do it, maybe he will make sense?

This is honestly getting ridiculous, so I’ll just leave one further bit of information. It really isn’t anything new, and it will probably go nowhere since it is difficult to capitalize on. You know how ever so often a network or wire service will release a bit of information and then suppress it forever? It just slipped though, that’s all.

Well, the last one came from a cable news outlet concerning New York’s subway system. To disinfect the damn thing, they’ve installed some lights that flash some ultraviolet light on the whole train while it is empty. Kills every germ and virus exposed. Now, people have known this a long time. At one time, long ago, I would sometimes get something on my left arm, curious in itself, that the Dr. said was growing. Shit! Something growing on my left arm? What is this world coming to? I want out. Where’s the next planet?

He told me not to worry. He took out a lamp he had used for years, ultraviolet, and placed a piece of paper on my arm, but with a hole in it so only that growing stuff on my arm was exposed, and zapped it for a minute or so. The stuff just died. Later on, some company found some sort of cream that would kill the same stuff and they could charge for it and that was the end of the lamp. I never had the problem again either. It must have had something to do with Lake Michigan, but never mind.

Later on I came across a remark in some forward or afterward by Bernard Shaw written in the late 19th or early 20th century. He mentioned that rivers usually were much cleaner downstream, even from filthy cities like London; say 20 or 30 miles downstream. The reason, of course, even in England which is not know as the land of sunshine, did have sunny days and the sun, with its ultraviolet light, would kill and disinfect the river along the way. Surely, we can figure out a way to get into the sun? Or maybe flood areas with ultraviolet light every so often?

I’ve noticed now that doctors are talking about how this stuff doesn’t stay around as long as they have been saying. I wonder if there is some connection?

Anyway, Memorial Day comes wherein we supposedly honor and remember all those we induced to die shooting and bombing one another for the mutual benefit of the tycoons of all countries involved. And then it goes. And everyone returns to work, resolved to despise any members of some other readily identifiable group.

See, it doesn’t matter as long as we can get people to hate other people rather than figure out that corporations and big money are screwing them.

So long for now.

* * *

We add the history of epidemics. It has some facts you may find surprising and useful. This is one program that still reports what’s going on. At one time, a group of corporations tried to take over the show, in fact the entire Pacifica Network. Well, enough people got together and stopped it from happening, but it was close. 9/11 came along and other opportunities presented themselves.

AMYGOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! Democracynow.org, The Quarantine Report. I’m Amy Goodman. Forty-eight states are at least partially reopening this week, even as more than a dozen states are seeing an uptick in cases, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns the U.S. death toll will pass 100,000 by the beginning of June. Last week, ousted U.S. vaccine chief Rick Bright testified that if the U.S. fails to improve its response to the virus, COVID-19 could resurge after summer and lead to the “darkest winter in modern history.” Coronavirus hot spots Italy and United Kingdom are both also slowly reopening businesses.

This comes as the World Health Organization will meet virtually today with all 194 member states, and the global coronavirus death count passes 315,000 with more than 4.7 million confirmed infections. This is Dr. Mike Ryan, head of the World Health Organization’s Emergencies Programme, speaking at a recent briefing.

DR. MICHAELRYAN: To put this on the table, this virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities. And this virus may never go away. HIV has not gone away, but we’ve come to terms with the virus.

AMYGOODMAN: Well, as global leaders prepare to discuss what to expect in the months and years to come, we’re going to look back today at the history of pandemics and how they end, with the renowned historian Frank Snowden. He’s a professor emeritus of the history of medicine at Yale University and author of the new book, Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present. Professor Snowden is joining us from Rome, Italy, where he traveled for research before the coronavirus outbreak and has remained under quarantine since. He has recently recovered from COVID-19 himself. He also lived through a cholera outbreak in Rome while conducting research there almost half a century ago.

In his book, Professor Snowden writes, quote, “Epidemic diseases are not random events that afflict societies capriciously and without warning. On the contrary, every society produces its own specific vulnerabilities. To study them is to understand that society’s structure, its standard of living, and its political priorities.”

Professor Frank Snowden, it’s wonderful to have you with us, albeit from Rome, where you’re under lockdown. What an amazing history yourself, as you are an expert in pandemics. In Italy, you survived the cholera outbreak half a century ago, and now, though getting COVID-19, you have survived this coronavirus pandemic. Can you talk about those two experiences?

FRANKSNOWDEN: Oh, certainly. Thank you. I’m delighted to be with you.

And the cholera outbreak was in 1973. It’s one of the reasons that I was — I took up an interest in the field, because the sorts of events that I was witnessing as a young man were quite extraordinary. They included such things as — Naples was the epicenter. Rome was nonetheless affected, but Naples was the center. And cars with Naples license plates were being stoned in the center of Rome. And there are open-air markets in Rome, and the vendors there were having their stalls overturned, and they were being attacked by crowds as being guilty of spreading the disease.

At the same time, Italy, at this time, let’s remember, was the seventh industrial power in the world, in the 1970s. And the minister of health of this power went on television. And what he did was to say that the microbe that causes the cholera is exquisitely sensitive to acid, so all you need to do is to take a lemon and squeeze just a bit of it on your raw muscles, and then you’ll be perfectly safe. And, of course, if you believe that, you’re likely to believe just about anything. And so, it was this sort of event that caught my attention.

And later on, when I was studying something else entirely, there was a cholera outbreak in Italy, and I began thinking, in my studies, that actually this showed more conclusively what values were in Italy, in Italian society, what living standards were, and so on, than any other kind of work that I might do. And so I moved into studying the history of epidemic diseases, and I’ve been doing that alongside an interest in modern Italian history, those two things ever since. So, that’s the cholera story.

With the coronavirus story is that I finished a book, my book that you mentioned, kindly, in October. It was published then. And I had been quite concerned about the possibility of a major pandemic disease — not just myself, but many people were — and I wrote that in the book. And so, I was stunned, though. I didn’t know when it was likely to happen; I thought one day in the future. And so I was stunned that in December the epidemic started.

And then, by the time I came to Italy in January, it really began to ramp up. And very soon, I was living in the epicenter of the coronavirus at that time. So, that was a very important experience for me. I was not able to do the research I came to do, and I’ve devoted myself ever since to doing that. And I guess you might say that I had a little bit too much enthusiasm for my work and caught the disease myself — fortunately, a mild case, and I’m here to tell the tale, and so I was lucky in that regard. But I certainly have had a close look at this event, this series of events, in Italy, and I’ve been reading intensively about it and talking to people about it around the world.

AMYGOODMAN: And our condolences on the death of your sister just a few weeks ago.

FRANKSNOWDEN: Oh, aren’t you kind? Yes, that was not a result of coronavirus, but, yes, and I wasn’t able to go back. And that’s, you know, another part of the times we’re living in. Thank you.

AMYGOODMAN: I mean, your family history is so fascinating, your father the first African American envoy to Italy in the 1950s. He goes on to write Blacks in Antiquity and Before Color Prejudice. And your connection, all of these years, to studying Italy, until now — you are locked down there for months. Can you talk about the comparison of the lockdown there and what you’re viewing, your country here, the United States? You joked about — not really joked, but talked about lemon as a cure. Do you see comparisons to the president of the United States, President Trump, telling people to inject themselves with disinfectants?

FRANKSNOWDEN: I’m glad you asked that question. And I would say that what I’ve observed here, I’ve heard a lot of discussion across — in the States, about Italy’s terrible response to the coronavirus. And I find that surprising, because it seems to me quite the opposite.

First thing has to do with compliance. And there, I think a lot has to do with the messaging. That is to say that in this country, you have a single health authority, and it acted — it acted quickly and responsibly, and it imposed social distancing. And as it did so, there wasn’t a cacophony of noise from a president speaking differently from his advisers, differently from the governments of 50 states, from local school boards, local mayors, different members of Congress. No, there was one policy. It was announced. It was explained very clearly to the population that until we have a vaccine, that we have exactly one weapon to deal with this emergency, and that’s social distancing. And therefore, if we — Italians were told, if we Italians want to save our country, we have to do it together. We’re all in the same boat. This is the only means available to save the country, to save our families, to protect our communities, to protect ourselves.

And as a result, there’s been — and I’ve observed this even in the neighborhood where I’m living, that the compliance has been extraordinary. There haven’t been protests against it as in the States. And I would say that it’s interesting that the local newspaper — it’s called Il Messaggero, which means “The Messenger” — had an article in which it said this is the first time in 3,000 years of Rome’s history that the population of Romans has ever been obedient. And I think that’s because people were — the government was very clear. Vans went through the neighborhoods. There were posters everywhere. The regulations were explained to everyone. They were very severe, more severe than in the States. But people were justifiably afraid. The government explained why this was a danger, and people were afraid, and they wanted to do something.

I myself heard the kinds of conversations that people had when they were waiting outside grocery stores, were wearing their masks, and they were conversing with each other and saying things like “I wonder if this was like the way it was during World War II. Is this maybe the way it was during the Blitz in London, that everyone is in this together, it’s a terrible sacrifice, but this is what we have to do?” This was the attitude that I observed.

And now that I’m able to go outside again the last few days, I’ve observed on the streets again that this compliance is continuing. People have been well educated in the dangers of the coronavirus. And quite frankly, no one wants it to surge up again. I would say that’s the basis of it.

The opposite is happening and has happened in the United States, where we had, as I said, this cacophony of fragmented authorities all saying different things in an extraordinarily confusing way, and our great CDC, the world sort of model, the gold standard for emergency response, being underfunded and almost invisible throughout this crisis. So, it’s been staggering, a country that has extraordinary medical centers, has this extraordinary CDC, wonderful doctors, an extraordinary tradition of scientific research in universities, national labs like the NIH, and yet — and yet, when this virus approaches, it has been unable to respond — unwilling to respond, in a scientific, coherent way with a single message to the American public. And so the public is confused.

AMYGOODMAN: And you have the president also defunding the World Health Organization, an organization you have studied for years. You quote Bruce Aylward of the World Health Organization upon his return from China. Can you tell us what he said, Professor Snowden?

FRANKSNOWDEN: Yes. He said that the world — China has had a model response, and the world will soon realize that it owes China a debt of gratitude for the long window of opportunity it provided by delaying the further onset of this virus, which gave the world a chance to prepare to meet it. That’s essentially what he said on return.

AMYGOODMAN: Did he also talk about people having to change their hearts and minds to deal with this global catastrophe?

FRANKSNOWDEN: Yes. That was the second thing he said, that he said we must be prepared. And people said, “Well, how do we prepare?” And he said, “The first thing that happens is that we need to change our hearts and minds, because that’s the premise for everything else that we need to do.”

AMYGOODMAN: Professor Frank Snowden, you have long studied epidemics, and I was wondering if, in the brief time we have together, though we do have the whole show — if you can go back in time to the bubonic plague and very briefly talk about the Black Death, caused by a bacteria, then move on to smallpox, how it wiped out Indigenous people, from Haiti to the United States, and its connection to — this caused by a virus — its connection to colonization, to colonialism. Start with the Black Death.

FRANKSNOWDEN: Oh, absolutely. The Black Death reached Western Europe in 1347. It broke out first in the city of Messina in Sicily and spread through the whole continent. And it lasted until, in Western Europe — the story to the east is rather different, but in Western Europe, the last case was once again in Messina in 1734. So, that makes, unless I have my math wrong, 400 years in which it ravaged Europe and killed extraordinary numbers of people.

Now, this is a disease that’s spread by fleas, also by — and they’re carried by rats. It also can be spread through the air in a pulmonary form. And it’s extraordinarily lethal. It’s something like 50% of those who get the disease from being bitten by fleas perish. Nowadays we have antibiotics, but at the time of the Black Death, we didn’t, of course, and so 50% of those afflicted died. And the pneumonic version of the disease is 100% lethal. Even today, it’s almost 100% lethal.

And so, this is an extraordinarily dangerous disease. Its symptoms are also extremely powerful, painful and dehumanizing, and patients die in agony. And this can — it strikes very quickly, and so people can also be struck down in public. And so this becomes a terrifying public spectacle as people collapse in the streets. So, this —

AMYGOODMAN: Professor Snowden, the people suffered from what? Buboes, these massive inflammations of the lymph nodes?

FRANKSNOWDEN: Yes. That’s as the disease spreads from the flea bite to the lymph node. There’s a massive inflammation, and you have a swelling, let us say, in your thigh or under your armpit or in your neck, that’s maybe the size of an orange, a large navel orange, under your skin. And it was said to be so painful that people even jumped into the — in London, into the Thames, into the Arno in Florence, to escape from the agony of this terrible pain they were suffering.

But there were other symptoms, as well: terrible fevers and also hallucinations, as people — it has neurological effects. That’s part of the dehumanizing side of it. There are these skin discolorations. There are many symptoms, and it’s an entirely dreadful and horrible disease.

It still exists, by the way. There are people who think that it’s just a medieval disease. No, there are something like 3,000 people around the world who die of bubonic plague every year, and some — a trickle in the United States, in the Southwest in particular, where there is a reservoir of it. So, it’s still there.

AMYGOODMAN: You knew a woman in Arizona who had bubonic plague?

FRANKSNOWDEN: Yes, I knew someone in Arizona who got the bubonic plague, because they’re a disease — endemic disease of prairie dogs in the Southwest of the United States. And if pet dogs are taken out into areas where the prairie dogs live, they can have an exchange of fleas, and the fleas can be brought back to a hotel or motel. And that’s what happened to my friend. There were contaminated fleas in the room where she slept, and therefore she became a — she survived but was a victim of bubonic plague in the 21st century. So, we could be —

AMYGOODMAN: Professor Snowden, you talk about the bubonic plague, the responses to it, being quarantined, the sanitary cordons, mass surveillance and other forms of state power. And I also want to follow that through with these pandemics, is you have — you also are a scholar of fascism and the direction countries can go when such a crisis happens.

FRANKSNOWDEN: Yes. Well, one of the things, I think, if a 15th century Florentine were to come back in a time machine today to look at what we as a society are doing, he or she would find it a rather familiar landscape. That is to say, the things that you’re saying were adopted and devised as self-protection by the Italian city-states that were at the center of the trade in the Mediterranean, and so were repeatedly scourged.

So, yes, there was this terrible disease, and they dealt with it by creating health magistrates — we call them boards of health — by creating the first forms of personal protective equipment, PPE, the masks, the long gowns, social distancing, hospital systems for dealing with this one single disease, the measure of quarantine — “quarantine” even being an Italian word, ”quaranta,” for 40 days, because people were locked down for 40 days before they were released. It had sanitary cordons. All of this was part of the defensive measures that we see today and that were also present during the Spanish influenza.

Public health was a legacy of the bubonic plague. So, while we look at these terrible events, we also need to remember that human beings are inventive and that there have been silver linings. The development of public health, the development of science and scientific medicine are also gifts of these terrible events. And indeed, I would say that the modern state is also part of — it was molded in part by the need for a centralized authority as part of our life protective system. So, yes, the bubonic plague does that, and it affected every area of society.

It’s not true to say that pandemics all do the same things. There are some things that have been repeated again and again. During the bubonic plague, the Black Death, the first years of it, there was this horrible surge of anti-Semitism across Europe, in France, in the Rhineland, in northern Italy, elsewhere. And this was, in a way, the first Holocaust, when Jews were persecuted and put to death, not just in spontaneous ways by crowds, but the bureaucratic apparatuses of political authorities were used to torture Jews into submission, to confessing crimes that of course they had never committed, and then they were judged and burned. The Holy Roman Empire did this, and local authorities and leaders of city-states. So this was a systematic purging and killing of Jews, who were thought to have — or so the case against them was that they were trying to put an end to Christendom and were poisoning the wells of Christians. And so, you have Jews tortured, broken on the wheel, burned alive, run through by the sword, and so on.

So, this xenophobia is — this blame, scapegoating, we see that today with the coronavirus. It’s something that can happen, has repeatedly happened, with the idea that this is a Chinese disease. It’s a foreign disease, we’re told, and therefore shutting borders against “Chinamen.” And we see that Chinese Americans, children being attacked in schools, Chinese Americans afraid to ride alone on the New York subway and arranging to travel in groups so they won’t do that. This is part of a long-term legacy of these diseases. And we see it in Europe, as well. Chinatowns were deserted long before the coronavirus actually arrived. And the right-wing nationalist politicians of Europe have been using that, saying it’s been imported by immigrants. So, that’s one of the false stories that’s followed in the wake of this. So that’s another really terrible recurring feature of these pandemic diseases.

They don’t always lead to — you were asking about does this always increase state power. Well, certainly, the Black Death in Eastern Europe, there were authoritarian countries, and they used these draconian, violent measures. Yes, it was part of their assertion of power. Indeed, this is one reason that these draconian measures appealed, because rulers, not knowing what to do, this gave the impression that they did: They knew what they were doing, and they were taking decisive measures. And so, it was thought that these sorts of measures would possibly be effective, and would certainly be a display of power and resolution. So, we do see that happening.

But let’s take the Spanish influenza of 1918, when, again, it’s a good comparison to today, because it was the time — it’s a respiratory disease. It was terribly much more contagious than this and deadly. Something like 100 million people are thought to have died around the world as a result of the Spanish influenza. And people practiced social distancing. Assemblies were banned. The wearing of masks was compulsory. Spitting in public, which was very popular at the time, was forbidden, and there were heavy fines in places like New York City for doing so. But it doesn’t result — measures were taken, but they were revoked at the end of the emergency, and one doesn’t find this leading, as it may in some countries, to a long-term reassertion of draconian power by political authorities.

With COVID-19, I think the message is mixed. And remember, anything anyone says about it, we have to remember that this is very early in this pandemic, and so we’ll have to wait and see what the final results will be. But we know already that Hungary and Poland have witnessed rulers who use COVID-19 as a cover for ulterior motives of becoming prime minister for life, with the capacity to rule by decree, to censor and shut down the press, to put their political enemies under arrest and so on. And those aren’t public health measures. So, I would say, yes, it has this potential, but it’s not necessarily something that we’ll see around the globe, although there is that danger, and we’ve seen those two countries where it clearly is leading to exactly those results.

AMYGOODMAN: Frank Snowden, we have to break. Then we’re going to come back, and I want to ask you about smallpox, about Haiti, the island of Hispaniola, and about Native Americans. Frank Snowden, professor emeritus of history of medicine at Yale University, author of the new book, Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present. He is speaking to us from the lockdown in Rome, Italy. Stay with us.

[break]

AMYGOODMAN: “Killing Me Softly with His Song,” performed by Marcella Bella. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The Quarantine Report. We’re spending the hour with professor Frank Snowden, professor emeritus of history of medicine at Yale University, author of the book Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present. He has devoted his life to looking at epidemics and teaching thousands of students. He is now in Rome, Italy, where he has been for months, coincidentally went there for another project but got caught in the lockdown, got COVID-19, has recovered from that, and we are lucky enough to have him as our guest for the hour.

Professor Snowden, take us to Hispaniola in 1492, a different version of history that we learn about Hernán Cortés and Pizarro, from the Incas in Peru to the Aztecs of Mexico, what happened in Haiti and in the United States when it came to smallpox.

FRANKSNOWDEN: Yes. Well, Columbus landed at Hispaniola, the first place. His idea — the Arawaks were the Native population, and there were a couple of million inhabiting the island when he arrived. His idea was that he would be able to reduce them to slavery. He wrote about how friendly the Arawaks were and how welcoming to him, his ships and his men. But I’m afraid that the hospitality wasn’t reciprocal. And Columbus’s view was this was a money-making expedition, and here it would be wonderful to have the Native population as mines in slaves, and mines to cultivate the fields.

The problem was that there was a differential mortality. This has come to be called the Columbian exchange. That is to say that Native populations in the New World didn’t have the same history of exposure to various diseases, and therefore not the same herd immunity to them. The most dramatic example is smallpox. Measles was another. That is to say that Native Americans had never experienced those diseases. Columbus and his men, on the other hand, had, because it was rife in Europe. And so, unintentionally, for the most part, the Arawaks simply died off as they were exposed to these new diseases, smallpox and measles, and by 15, 20 years later, there were just a couple thousand left.

And it was at this time that in Hispaniola there was the beginning — this is one of the reasons for the beginning of the African slave trade. The Native population of the United States died from these diseases, and so the Europeans turned instead to importing people from Africa, because they shared many of the same bacterial histories, and therefore immunities, and could survive being enslaved in the Caribbean and then in the New World, on North America and also in South America. So, we get the beginning of the slave trade in part as a result to this differential immunity.

This, then, on the wider scale of the New World, this was something that was — devastated the Native population. When the Spaniards, the British, the French came, the Native population contracted their diseases and just was destroyed. This destroyed the Inca and Aztec empires. In fact, they were so devastated, that they lost their religion. They thought the White man had much more powerful gods than they did, and so this drove the missionary and conversion experience, as well, and cleared the land for European settlers across the whole of the continent. This was a tremendous impact of smallpox disease. It’s called a virgin soil disease because they were so — the population had never experienced it and had no herd immunity.

There’s an irony that we can see. Let’s go back to Hispaniola, that is now the island divided between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. And let’s talk about Haiti. It was Saint-Domingue at the time, by the 18th century certainly. And let’s remember that the French — this is now an island that had become, extraordinarily enough to think, the wealthiest colony in the world, the jewel of the French Empire. And that is because of its sugar plantations. And the sugar was exported to Europe and was the foundation of French wealth in this period. And slaves are continuing to be imported throughout the 18th century at breakneck speed to cultivate the fields of sugarcane.

During the French Revolution, French power was neutralized. The attitude of the French revolutionaries toward slavery was entirely different. And you got this upsurge of the slaves with the greatest slave revolt in history, led by the Haitian Spartacus, Toussaint Louverture. And the colony was functionally operating under Toussaint Louverture’s control and was independent of France. Napoleon — there was regime change, however, by 1799, and Napoleon comes to power. And by 1803, he’s thinking that he wishes to put an end to this rebellion, to restore the Haitian rebels, to reenslave them and to restore the colony to being this economic warehouse for France. So he sends a tremendous armada, led by a general who was married to his sister Pauline. And it was something like 60,000 troops and sailors who were sent to the former Hispaniola, now Saint-Domingue, to crush the revolt.

Once again, we see a difference in immunity to disease that proved decisive. That is to say that yellow fever was something to which the African slaves had a differential immunity, whereas Europeans had no immunity. They had no history of experience with yellow fever. And so, what happens is that the French soldiers in Saint-Domingue begin to die at a rapid rate of a terrible epidemic of yellow fever that sweeps through the Caribbean and especially through Saint-Domingue. And what happens, by — Toussaint Louverture was very aware of this and took advantage of it, luring the French troops, not fighting them in pitched battles but only small guerrilla campaigns, waiting for the summer months to come, and an upsurge of the disease, which happens. And pretty soon the French commander writes to Paris to say —

AMYGOODMAN: Professor Snowden, I’m only interrupting because we only have a minute. Of course, Haiti becomes the first country born of a slave rebellion, as you are so graphically describing with an alternative view of history, that many may not have understood, with the role of disease. But in this last minute we have, I wanted to ask you about how pandemics end and what you think will happen now.

FRANKSNOWDEN: I think there’s not one answer to that. Pandemics are all different, and they end in different ways. Some die out because of sanitary measures that people take against them, so that we’re not vulnerable in the industrial world to cholera or typhoid fever, that are spread through the oral-fecal group, because we have sewers and clean, safe drinking water. And other diseases end, like smallpox, because of vaccination, the development of a scientific tool. So it really depends. Some diseases are not very good candidates for vaccines.

And I would say that COVID-19, I’m sure that we will develop a vaccine, but I also fear that it may not be the — it won’t be the magic bullet that people believe, that it will put this behind us, because the sort of features you want are, for an ideal candidate, like smallpox, a vaccine that doesn’t have an animal reservoir so it can’t return to us. A vaccine is an ideal candidate if in nature it produces a robust immunity in the human body, so people, having once had it, are totally immune for life. That doesn’t seem to be the case with COVID-19. So I expect it to become long-term with us. We’re going to have to learn to live with this disease. It’s probably going to become an endemic disease, and so we’re going to have to adjust to —

AMYGOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there. And I want to thank you so much, Professor Frank Snowden, professor emeritus of history of medicine at Yale University, author of the new book, Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present. I’m Amy Goodman. Stay safe.

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Science as Ideology

Posted in Uncategorized by @honestcharlie on May 15, 2020

THE ABSURD TIMES

Illustration: We found this amusing and probably quite true. I do know that at one time Fauci was asked “Why don’t you stop him?" when he was talking about Trump’s remarks. He laughed a bit and said, "What am I supposed to do? Knock him down, away from the microphone?” Fauci’s ability to maintain his sanity in times like this are awe-inspiring.

Let’s Try One More Time

By

Czar Donic

The entire Covid-19 incident, or pandemic, has not really been very interesting as it has served to make every story or news event into some sort of version or aspect of itself. Perhaps it would be best to establish a few ground rules before we proceed.

In the current Zeitgeist, science has been relegated to the status of just one more ideology. It ranks along with Monotheistic religions, Conservatism, Liberalism, Socialism, Communism, and Fascism – Capitalism was banished during Teddy Roosevelt’s administration to be replaced by Democracy, Manufacturing, and so on.. Often, several of these are linked together. For example, what is now called conservatism is often linked to Christianity (one of the monotheistic religions), often with absurd results if, as we do here, one considers Science as more than simply one more ideology.

It is foolish to try to argue why this independence of Science exists at all, especially when it seems to conflict with one of the other ideologies. If, for example, you believe that the earth is only 6,000+ years old, there is no point in my trying to convince you otherwise. I well-remember one discussion wherein I was provided with what the other consider “proof”. He had seen an illustration of a man, seemingly a “cave man”, walking next to a giant dinosaur. Surely, this was proof enough?

Well, foolishly, I tried to point out that what he had seen was drawn by someone and not real. He described the dinosaur so that I was able to determine that it was, at least a herbivore. He needed clarification. Once he was aware of that, he became more convinced. I pointed out that the animal would first probably take a bite out of him to determine that he wasn’t a plant and then spit him out, but he did not take that information very well. If I remember correctly, he told me that I was “evil” and had best get to church and save myself.

At that point, I ended the conversation and resolved never to argue the importance of Science with anybody, only one of two resolutions I have always maintained. The other was a New Years Resolution never to make another New Years Resolution. I never saw any point in creating my own failures.

So, Science, for our purpose, here, is important.

I have more to say on the subject, however. I recently stated that I saw 300K+ Covid deaths in the U.S. with 500K+ deaths world wide and that we had about 4% of the world’s population. I am now seeing nearly 80K deaths In the U.S. and nearly 300K deaths world-wide. This is quite a disparity. I suspect that the last figures, as of March 15, 2020, are probably more correct, but reliable data is difficult to obtain as much of it has to do with testing and analysis. There are about 15 different private company’s with tests for the virus and each of them requires different machinery and equiptment, a result of private medical research and development. The latest figures given are about 80K dead here and 330K in total. Number of cases is also rather imprecise, the latest I’ve seen listed the states as having about one and a half million, with Russia second with about a quarter of a million or, as our new outlets would have it, Russia is second only to the United States in cases.

Now, I have a bit of a surprise for many and that is that given a random sample, the larger the population, the smaller the sample one needs to establish a reliable estimate. This is very counter-intuitive, but I have personally worked out the math involved twice, and it does hold true. It involves Probability Theory and the word “Theory” always causes suspicion in the common mind, but it does work. (No, I am not about to try to do it again – I’m way too tired and lazy.) However, we need to start with a random sample and even what that is can be controversial – a reasonable definition would be one in which everyone has an equal chance to be selected and that just will not be done. Not with the current economic and political situation. We can point out, however, that the U.S. has about 4% of the world’s population and that figure should indicate that we are not being very effective.

With all of the restrictions imposed because of this virus, movie and television production has been hampered. Late night shows are all done remotely, guests on those shows appear remotely, and it all lends a strangness to the situation. One program on CBS called ALL RISE, a show about an African-American woman who became a judge, was done remotely in an attempt to keep things going, but it has failed. News programs still manage to operate, but they have always relied on remote reporting, especially since CNN began operations using satellite technology.

I need to make a hard transition here, and it is best I simply do it abruptly. There are those of you who are completely tired of contemporary events, the political situation, and so on. Up until this point, I have tried simply to focus on science and its role in society today. From this point forward, we will be commenting on the political manipulation and so on that has been going on, so those of you who do not want to see or read anything about that should simply delete or ignore further from here on.

***

Now, for the two of you who are left: you probably know that Trump recommended people should take some sort of anti-bacterial material, perhaps drink it. It turns out that about 6 years ago, Ricky Gervis (I’m not sure about the spelling, but he is on CBS after Colbert at night – assuming those shows are still functioning) said that the fact that they have to put DO NOT DRINK on bottles of bleach proves that U.S. voters could elect anyone as President. The quote was resurrected (pun intended) just recently. We have also recently heard of an ObamaGate! What does one say to that?

We know that with all the layoffs from the Covis pandemic many have lost their health insurance, but they still are against Universal Health Care. They actually seem to fear some nebulous force called “Socialism”. They swallow without thinking the idea that Pol Pot, the dictator in Cambodia was a Socialist and believe that the same things would happen to them under an American form of the NHS. (Yes, I’ve treated some of our mercenaries who were tortured by Pol Pot’s employees.) Pol Pot was no FDR. He was appointed by Henry Kissinger.

Our corporations are doing well because they have told investors that profits will be higher because they have no intention of hiring back many of the employees that are still alive after this pandemic. Republicans support Trump by 80%, the latest I heard.

Many of Trump’s supporters still support him even though he is responsible for the severity of this disaster. Back when he could have done something constructive, he was afraid it would make him look bad. At that time we had only about 200 cases of the virus and a cruise ship landed with American citizens who had the virus. He blocked their entry because it “would double” the number of cases and “make him look bad.” Look at it now. His followers do not care – as long as he hates Mexicans, he is their favorite. Yes, they are stupid.

Most of Republican support comes from the elderly. One of Trump’s advocates, Lindsey Graham recently said that, regarding Social Security, “some promises may have to be broken.” Even if everyone knew he said that, it would not change a single vote in the next election – if there is one.

In this recent hearing on Capital Hill, Dr. Bright, who was pretty much fired (details are still murky) for saying that a drug endorsed by Trump had no positive effect and sometimes does harm. He has filed a whistleblower complaint. The most information can in a string of rapid questions from Rep. Kennedy who listed them for five minutes and conveyed more information that all the previous members. It will have no effect.

People are now having mental health problems from being confined to their homes as a result of this, so they are being encouraged to go out as if things were normal. After all, if they are going to be mentally sick, why not let them get physically sick too? Then at least they will sense that it is real.

Liz Cheney, one of the more right wing nuts of the past has said: “Dr. Fauci is one of the finest public servants we have ever had. He is not a partisan. His only interest is saving lives. We need his expertise and his judgment to defeat this virus. All Americans should be thanking him. Every day.” Naturally, since he bases his statements on science and fact, he is not popular with Trump Republicans. Trump says he is either confused or trying to have things both ways. He used the phrase “all sides of the equation”. Ever wonder how many sides there are in an equation? Never mind.

This is getting a lot longer than I expected, but bear with me a bit longer. I promise to stop and go off and do something else, somewhere else, sometime.

This is not the Spanish flu – it is a different virus. The population was smaller then. More people died then (so far). There were no wide spead mass media outlets to cover it. Still, the town or cities where the newspapers paid attention to it had far fewer deaths than other cities (such as Philadelphia) that did not. Today, there is so much coverage, both right wing and left wing, that it is as helpful as having none at all.

We can point out that the measels virus has not been eliminated, the black plague virus has not been eliminated, and the only reason they have not been much of an issue is vaccination. Right now, it does seem that Oxford, of all places, has advanced greatly in developing one against this virus. I hope so. It would be more efficient than in the hands of a private profit driven industry.

At any rate, that is enough for now. I am really tired of all of this. Farewell!

11 May, 2020 18:12

Posted in Uncategorized by @honestcharlie on May 11, 2020

Full length

Posted in Uncategorized by @honestcharlie on May 1, 2020

It is probably best to link or bookmark this as it is a full length movie. https://youtu.be/Zk11vI-7czE

Dylan and the American Dream

Posted in Uncategorized by @honestcharlie on April 28, 2020

JVP posted the reference and I recorded it from Spotify.
It is apparently newly released and refers to how we got from JFK to Donald Trump. I would say it is a sad song. It is about as long as Alices’ Restaurant.

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