Thursday 9 December 2021

Dr. David Agus, CBS News medical contributor: Hopeful news about Covid

Published on Dec 9, 2020 by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
YouTube: What Do We Actually Know About Omicron? Dr. David Agus Fills Us In On The Latest Science (6:28)
Covid expert and CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus makes his first visit to the show and briefs Stephen on the latest science surrounding the Omicron variant. Stick around for parts two and three of this conversation with Dr. Agus.

Published on Dec 9, 2020 by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
YouTube: "We're Going To Keep Having Variants" - Dr. David Agus On The Surveillance System Tracking Covid (3:05)
In part two of his interview with Stephen, Dr. David Agus explains why we shouldn't panic at the idea of a future that brings an unending parade of new coronavirus variants.

Published on Dec 9, 2020 by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
YouTube: "Travel Is Safe. Airplanes Are Safe." - Dr. Agus Offers Tips On Staying Safe During Holiday Travel (5:16)
In the third part of his interview with Stephen Colbert, CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus gives us reasons to be hopeful about where the pandemic is headed and offers tips on how to travel safely this holiday season.

Final Word I look at the qualifications of this man, and I have a high degree of confidence. I've written about influential people like Joe Rogan, podcaster, and Aaron Rodgers, quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, who ignore expert advice by not getting vaccinated and promoting unrecommended treatments such as ivermectin. I find it unfortunate these people hold sway over the public, spreading misinformation and delaying getting this public health crisis under control.

This interview conducted on December 9, 2021, gives me hope that we will get out of this mess.


Wikipedia: David Agus
David B. Agus is an American physician and author who serves as a professor of medicine and engineering at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine and Viterbi School of Engineering and the Founding Director and CEO of USC’s Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine. He is also the cofounder of several personalized medicine companies and a contributor to CBS News on health topics.

my blog: Ivermectin: I'm not taking medical advice from Joe Rogan.
From the outset of the pandemic, the supposed antiviral properties of the antiparasitic drug ivermectin has been bandied about left, right, and center. Even if expert sources of information like the CDC and the FDA said not to use it, people, especially those on the right led by Fox News, kept pushing ivermectin “propaganda”. Has anybody read the science, and if they did, did they understand what they were looking at?

my blog: Aaron Rodgers: I’m disappointed but I’m not surprised.
The stink is about Aaron Rodgers (b 1983), quarterback for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL). Before I get into my rant, a little background for those not in the know.


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Friday 3 December 2021

What I learned from parents who don't vaccinate their kids | Jennifer Reich | TEDxMileHigh

"Your personal choices affect other people in significant ways.
Vaccines work best when everyone uses them."

-Jennifer Reich, American sociologist

Published on Feb 7, 2020 by TEDx Talks
YouTube: What I learned from parents who don't vaccinate their kids | Jennifer Reich | TEDxMileHigh (13:00)
Why do some parents reject vaccines, despite evidence that they've helped generations of children stay healthy? When sociologist Jennifer Reich started interviewing parents about this growing trend, she realized it wasn't as simple as being ignorant or anti-science. In this fascinating talk, she explains why this movement is the symptom of a much bigger problem -- our broken beliefs about parenting & health. Jennifer Reich is Professor of Sociology at the University of Colorado Denver. Her research examines how individuals and families weigh information and strategize their interactions with the state and service providers, particularly as they relate to healthcare and welfare. Over the last decade, she has examined how parents come to reject vaccines for their children, in dialog with physicians, complementary healthcare providers, activists, and researchers. She wrote Calling the Shots: Why Parents Reject Vaccines. She & her husband have three children.


Wikipedia: Jennifer Reich
Jennifer Anne Reich is an American sociologist, researcher and author at the University of Colorado Denver. Her research interests include healthcare, adolescence, welfare, and policy. Her work on vaccine hesitancy gained widespread attention during the 2019 measles outbreaks. She is the author of three books and numerous journal articles.

Vaccine hesitancy
Reich spent nearly ten years exploring what motivates some parents to decline inoculations for their children, or delay them. Her interviews with parents and subsequent research are presented in her 2016 book
Calling the Shots: Why Parents Reject Vaccines. She sees vaccine hesitancy as a consequence of societal pressures on parents (especially middle-class mothers) to make choices that are uniquely suited to their own children in terms of health and education, to maximize their chances of success in life: "We do vaccines in a way that has been shown to be scientifically the most efficacious and the safest and also the easiest to distribute at a national level. But for parents who really prioritize each child in their family as an individual, they don't accept this kind of logic." Working full-time on their kids, these parents are inclined to disregard generic advice dispensed by health professionals.

Facing a steady stream of misleading information, pediatricians and public health professionals have to know what motivates parents to be reluctant about vaccines, and to adjust how they communicate, says Reich. She suggests pediatricians have more success having a fruitful dialogue when they can communicate with empathy, parent-to-parent. How to put the focus on collective benefits - explaining own inoculation better protects all children - may be a way for public health authorities to overcome the reluctance of many parents.


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Thursday 18 November 2021

Aaron Rodgers: I’m disappointed but I’m not surprised.

The stink is about Aaron Rodgers (b 1983), quarterback for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL). Before I get into my rant, a little background for those not in the know.


Aug 26, 2021 - Rodgers is asked about vaccinations in a preseason press conference and says he is “immunized." He elaborates further stating: “There’s guys on the team that haven’t been vaccinated," he said. "I think it’s a personal decision, I’m not going to judge those guys.”

Nov. 3 -- Rodgers ends up on the COVID-19 reserve list after a positive test. Reports reveal he is unvaccinated and is set to miss at least 10 days per the league's policies for unvaccinated players.

Nov. 5 -- Rodgers' appearance on the Pat McAfee Show ignites a social media firestorm as the Packers QB rips the fact his "personal health decisions" are no longer private.
NBC Sports, Nov 5/2021

Nov 15 - NFL rules requires that all unvaccinated players must wear a mask while indoors, but because the quarterback refused to wear one, he had to do his post-game press conference on Zoom.
Toronto Sun, Nov 15/2021

Aaron Rodgers lied about being vaccinated. He did not follow NFL protocols for unvaccinated players. Aaron Rodgers associated with his teammates and with the public while not wearing a mask.

You have the right to jeopardize your life, but you have the responsibility to not jeopardize mine.

The scientific consensus is that masks and vaccines work. What anyone does on their own time is their own business but if that person is in public, they have the responsibility to follow the rules. If you don’t wear a mask and you’re not vaccinated, you can’t visit the grocery store, eat in a restaurant, or associate with people in public places. I’m sorry if anybody chooses to not wear a mask or get vaccinated but to lie about it and jeopardize the safety, health, and possibly the lives of others is reprehensible.

Let me run over the significant points of this issue.

Respiratory Droplets
If you don’t understand this, you don’t understand the airborne transmission of infectious diseases. I’ve seen the science; I watched the videos. This is so obvious; how could anyone act otherwise? Masks, social distancing; it’s as plain as the nose on your face. Bingo! The Earth is not flat. Two plus two equals four.

my blog: What the heck is a respiratory droplet? – Nov 7/2021

Why don’t people know about this? If they did, if they truly understood, they couldn’t act otherwise. Who is going to knowingly risk their health or the health of others?

Living in Fear
When I put on oven mitts to take the casserole out of the oven, I don’t do it because I’m afraid of the oven. I understand heat; I understand ovens are hot; and I don’t want to burn myself. That’s not fear; that’s understanding how things work.

The Individual vs the Community
I’ve read personal accounts of people living in the Far East, echoed by the analysis of journalists and sociologists. In the Far East, there seems to be an attitude of putting the good of the community ahead of the individual. In North America, we stress the freedom of the individual over the community.

my blog: Masks: How we hate change. – Sep 28/2021
I was born in 1952 and grew up in an era where smoking was considered a right. Buildings, transit including airplanes, movie theatres, you name it, you could smoke there. And I’m reminded of the old joke: Having a smoking section in a restaurant is like having a peeing section in a pool.

Everybody in my family smoked except my father and I. Years later, when I lived on my own, I’d visit my parents from time to time. When I’d leave, I’d drive a distance with the windows in my car wide open because I absolutely stunk of cigarette smoke. When I got home, I would strip off my clothes, shower, and put on something else. It was the only way to escape the stench of second-hand smoke.

Fast forward to today. I never thought I would live to see the day, but now, smokers no longer have first right. Clean air is the right, and while nobody has stopped anybody from smoking, smoking is not permitted indoors. Ontario first enacted laws in 2005 to ban smoking in all workplaces and now, people have the right to clean, smoke-free air. As I said, you can still smoke but now, I don’t have to inhale second-hand smoke. All right!

Your rights and your responsibilities
During the pandemic, people have talked endlessly about their rights but never about their responsibilities.

You have the right to jeopardize your life, but you have the responsibility to not jeopardize mine.

You have the right to drive anywhere you want. But you have the responsibility to drive responsibly. Follow the speed limit. Stop at all stop signs and red lights. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t text and drive. These measures are not about restricting your freedom; they are about ensuring the safety of all of us. You may have the right to drive anywhere you want but everybody else also has the right to drive anywhere they want.

Anti-science, anti-education, anti-expertise
You’re not going to tell me what to do! Fine. Don’t put on oven mitts when you take your casserole out of the oven!

The problem here is that the issue is about an infectious disease. Don’t wear a mask; don’t social distance; don’t get vaccinated; your behavior has a negative effect on others. Jeopardize your life but don’t jeopardize the lives of others.

Distrust of the government
Ronald Reagan mockingly said, “I’m from the government; I’m here to help.” Republicans stress “small government”. Many have a negative view of government, the authorities, and anybody in any sort of position of power. Are there things wrong? Yes. But now, the attitude of some is that everything is wrong, and there’s no good at all.

If the government says black; people say white. If the authorities say turn left; people turn right. If the regulations say to put on oven mitts; people do whatever the heck they want. There seems to be no analysis of right and wrong, good and bad, just the automatic negative response to any rule.

Aaron Rodgers is a danger
Aaron Rodgers is a danger to me, to you, his teammates, and the public. He claims to have done his research, but I’ve done mine, and I come to completely different conclusions. The pandemic is not a hoax; it’s serious. Respiratory droplets are the key, and the airborne transmission of infectious diseases is a real thing. Aaron Rodgers will listen to Joe Rogan and take ivermectin, but he won’t listen to Dr. Fauci and get vaccinated.

"I am not a doctor. I am a fucking moron... I am not a respected source of information even for me."
-Joe Rogan, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter, Apr 29, 2021

my blog: Ivermectin: I’m not taking medical advice from Joe Rogan. – Nov 9/2021

Howard Stern thinks Rodgers should be fired
On Stern’s broadcast of November 8, 2021, he said Rodgers should be let go.

"If there was decency in this world, I would throw this guy out of the football league so fast. What he did to his fellow teammates … this (expletive) guy, they should throw him out of the league so fast.

"This (expletive) guy … I know the guy’s a real good football player, that’s why they put up with his (expletive).

"Come on dude, really? That whole (expletive) game, 'Yeah, I have the antibodies.' First of all, I don’t know where these guys get their information from," Stern said. " ... He said he got his information from Joe Rogan. You got doctors who study in medical school. I don’t know what’s happened to this country.

"I don’t know why he’s wasting his time on football. He’s such a great researcher, he should go into the medical field. I say the next time this (expletive) head gets injured on the field, they should bring Joe Rogan in to fix the bones. They should have (Rogan) treat (Rodgers)."

'They should throw him out': Howard Stern, Jimmy Kimmel join in on Aaron Rodgers criticism  USA Today, Nov 9/2021

Final Word
I agree with Howard Stern; Aaron Rodgers should be fired. I’m sure that’s not going to happen because he’s a big-time sports figure, but as new rules come into force, employees refusing to be vaccinated are being laid off. The majority rules, and the government elected by the majority have made it mandatory in certain cases to be vaccinated to work. No vaccination, no work.

Government overreach? Authoritarian rule? Dictatorship, even? Do I want to associate with somebody who risks my health with sickness, hospitalization, and possibly death? Aaron Rodgers lied about being vaccinated. I assume the NFL treated him as vaccinated, that is, not following the protocols for non-vaccinated people (regular testing). Rodgers associated with his teammates in social settings and with the public while not wearing a mask. He downplayed the importance of health and safety recommendations, oblivious of the risks he was foisting on other people. As I’ve said, risk your own health but don’t risk mine; we all have rights, but we also have responsibilities.

The NFL has fined Rodgers a paltry fourteen thousand dollars while his four-year contract is worth $134 million. There is no doubt that Rodgers will get out of this with a slap on the wrist because he’s a BFD (Big F**kin’ Deal). However, if he was your average employee, I’m sure a company could terminate him with cause.

What Rodgers does for himself about his safety, his health, and his own life is his business. The important thing is that what he does should not, can not have an affect on my safety, my health, and my life. That is over the line; that is unacceptable. Heck, that is irresponsible, even reckless endangerment. I’d go so far as to call it criminal negligence. Rodgers tested positive for Covid. Has anybody done trace testing? Has Rodgers infected anybody else while he would have been asymptomatic? What if people got sick? What if people were hospitalized? How about died? Is that now a big deal to Rodgers?

It's obvious to me that Rodgers doesn’t understand respiratory droplets and the airborne transmission of infectious diseases. Covid is a mysterious inconvenience, something for others to be concerned about, not him. He gets medical advice from Joe Rogan, a self-declared fucking moron, but ignores the advice of Dr. Fauci, a career epidemiologist to seven presidents. As I said previously: The dinosaurs apparently became extinct because of an asteroid; humanity will become extinct because of stupidity.


Wikipedia: Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Charles Rodgers (b 1983) is an American football quarterback for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL). Rodgers began his college football career at Butte College in 2002 before transferring to the University of California, Berkeley to play for the California Golden Bears, where he set several career passing records, including lowest single-season and career interception rates. He was selected in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Packers.

Following a positive test for COVID-19, Rodgers was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list on November 3, 2021. He missed 10 days per the league's COVID-19 policies for unvaccinated players, including a game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Despite answering "Yeah, I'm immunized" when asked during the preseason if he had been vaccinated against COVID-19, he had not actually received a vaccination. Instead, he had received homeopathic treatment from his personal doctor. While unvaccinated, he committed multiple violations of NFL COVID-19 protocols for unvaccinated players, including attending parties with teammates while not using PPE and appearing unmasked at multiple postgame press conferences. For his behavior, he earned the nicknames "Kaaron Rodgers'" and "Throw Rogan". He was activated off reserve/COVID-19 list on November 13, 2021.

Aaron Rodgers Tells Pat McAfee His Side Of Vaccine Situation
The Pat McAfee Show, Nov 5/2021, YouTube 47:25

Packers players, coach respond to Rodgers Covid-19 comments
TMJ4 News, Nov 5/2021, YouTube 2:28 During press briefings, Packers players and head coach are responding to the latest comments Aaron Rodgers has made regarding Covid-19.

Aaron Rodgers said he did the research on covid vaccines. Here’s how he was wrong, according to experts
The Washington Post, Nov 5/2021
Rodgers, by relying on the advice of a podcaster rather than doctors, will get information in line with what he’s looking for rather than what’s factual, said Tara C. Smith, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Kent State University College of Public Health, who has studied the public perception of the vaccines.

“When people have these ideas in mind, you can go out and find things to support that,” Smith said. “That’s easy enough to do, but that’s not actually doing research. People like Rodgers and others who are publicly doubting vaccines take the opposite tack and just find research that already confirms their preexisting biases. And that’s not how science works.”

The Problem Is Aaron Rodgers Thinks He Has All the Answers
Sports Illustrated, Nov 5/2021
Rodgers told McAfee he is taking ivermectin on the advice of his new friend, podcaster Joe Rogan (the CDC does not consider ivermectin effective in treating or preventing COVID-19), and that the “woke mob” will be disappointed to hear that after 48 hours, he feels great. I am sincerely glad he feels great, but also: So what? I once felt great just 48 hours after eating at Applebee’s. What does that have to do with anything? This is a classic and frankly simple example of using anecdotal evidence to prove a point that can be proved with only statistics; it is the height of intellectual dishonesty, even if Rodgers is gullible enough to believe it himself.


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Tuesday 9 November 2021

Ivermectin: I'm not taking medical advice from Joe Rogan.

Update 2022-02-07 below

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Desperate people do desperate things.

From the outset of the pandemic, the supposed antiviral properties of the antiparasitic drug ivermectin has been bandied about left, right, and center. Even if expert sources of information like the CDC and the FDA said not to use it, people, especially those on the right led by Fox News, kept pushing ivermectin “propaganda”. Has anybody read the science, and if they did, did they understand what they were looking at? The slightest hint of anything positive has turned into possibility and if it doesn’t kill you, what the heck, what harm could it do? Who knows? It may very well do something!

For some reason, mainstream media, CNN as but one example, has taken to referring to ivermectin as a drug for deworming animals. I always knew the drug as a treatment for parasites in humans and had no idea it was used in veterinary medicine. No matter. It was obvious to me that referring to deworming animals was an attempt to make fun of anybody using ivermectin as a legitimate treatment for the coronavirus. Since the drug is only available by prescription, and I’m guessing going to a doctor represented a stumbling block for self-experimentation, the only way of getting it was to buy it from veterinary supplies where it’s available over the counter. Bingo, the origin of ivermectin is for deworming animals!

I didn’t want to get involved in this fight. I, for one, follow the experts, the CDC, the FDA, etc., and had no intention of self-medicating myself with the next fad proposed by an ill-informed, desperate fringe group. I wear a mask; I social distance, and I got vaccinated when told to do so.

But here we are. It is what it is, and I feel I have to speak up because others want to voice their opinion without doing their homework. I’m sick of listening to people tell me what they believe when I want to hear what they know. And if you don’t know, please sit down so we can all hear from somebody who does.

Never have so many said so much while knowing so little.

Correlation vs Causation
On Monday, I feel sick. On Tuesday, I eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. On Wednesday, I feel better. On Thursday, I detail how the protein in peanut butter combined with the natural flavoring of fruit provides the body with an antiviral boost to the immune system, contributing to the cure of colds, flu, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, and hangnails.

Independent scientists doing independent research can independently arrive at the same results.

That’s science. That’s not an opinion; that’s a fact. Just because two events happen at the same time, it does not mean one event caused the other. Things in life can merely be a coincidence.

What is the origin of Ivermectin as a treatment for Covid?
Preamble: Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease caused by a parasite. (Wikipedia) Ivermectin, an antiparasetic, is used against this parasite. Malaria is not a virus.

During the Zika outbreak of 2015, researchers were frantically looking a treatment for the virus and thought to look at ivermectin, an antiparasitic drug used to combat malaria, because it was widely available. They discovered that the drug had an effect on the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne flavivirus. However, it is important to note that the amount of ivermectin was greater than that necessary to fight malaria and questions were immediately raised as to the danger to human beings. Subsequent investigations failed to prove ivermectin was effective as an antiviral in human beings in the fight against the Zika virus. (The British Medical Journal, Feb 2, 2016)

Based on this idea, back in April 2020, researchers at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute in Melbourne, Australia published a paper saying that the drug ivermectin killed the Covid virus in vitro, that is, in a petri dish in a laboratory, emphasizing that trials would have to be conducted to determine if this worked in humans. Since then, other trials have questioned these results, not necessarily finding an antiviral causation, and pointing out that the amount of ivermectin necessary to kill the virus is toxic to humans. Various organisations have attempted to warn the public as there have been examples of people poisoning themselves by self-administering the drug. (Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Apr 3, 2020) (APF Fact Check, June 29, 2021) (The New Daily, Sep 24, 2021)

Dosage of Ivermectin
The alarm about using this drug is about purchasing it from veterinary supplies, the drug being destined for animals, especially horses. In the United States, the average human being is around 180 lbs. (81 kg). The average horse weighs 880 lbs (400 kg).

The recommended dosage of ivermectin for a human being is 3 milligrams. For a horse, it can be as high as 1,200 milligrams.

The Washington Poison Center, Seattle, Washington, reports a five-fold increase in calls regarding ivermectin.

A second important point is that for humans, ivermectin is prescribed as a one-dose treatment. Alternative anti-covid treatments have people taking the drug on a daily basis, and since ivermectin takes several days to flush out of the system, a daily dose means the drug builds up in the body to toxic levels, so the individual inadvertently poisons themselves.

The Danger
Is there any evidence ivermectin can treat COVID-19? We analyzed the prominent scientific studies -Salon, Aug 18, 2021
Despite promising words in some studies, experts say ivermectin is a false hope for treating COVID-19. Here's why

Dr. Benhur Lee, a Professor of Microbiology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Ivermectin has been shown to inhibit a broad spectrum of DNA and RNA viruses with no underlying unifying logic (HIV, influenza, Dengue, Zika, pseudorabies virus, polyoma virus, adenovirus). These results were all based on in vitro test-tube/cell culture work; to a virologist, that raises eyebrows.

In vitro" refers to studies that take place in test tubes, petri dishes, or otherwise outside of human patients. Lee used an example to explain how what happens in vitro might not necessarily translate to the human body.

“I can increase the concentration of sodium chloride (table salt) by 50% to my tissue culture cells and show inhibition of most viruses," Lee said. "But I don't go asking people to eat as much salty food as possible to combat virus infections, much less SARS-CoV-2.

Hoping ivermectin works based on "in vitro efficacy studies" is "magical thinking."

Dr. Benhur states that the amount of ivermectin needed to stop the virus is toxic to humans.

In other words, if you put enough of just about any substance in a petri dish containing the coronavirus, at some point, you’re going to kill the virus. That doesn’t, however, make the substance an antiviral.

I reminded of the famous White House briefing in 2020 when t**** suggested to Dr. Birx she look into disinfectants. (NBC News, Apr 24, 2020) By the way, Dr. Birx looks so uncomfortable, listening to t****’s lunacy, it appears as if she’s hoping the Earth would open up and swallow her.

Shortly thereafter, I saw a funny meme going around social media:

To be fair, if you inject disinfectant into your body, you will not likely die of Covid-19.

I still chuckle at that one, but I do have to shake my head. People are scared. People want answers. And people are desperate. But on the other hand — and this is truly insane — a significant portion of the population, hypnotized by Fox News and other media personalities of The Right, completely distrust the government and any associated expertise. Dr. Fauci? The CDC? The FDA? Masks are not necessary. Vaccines are bad. The Washington Post details how this tactic is an integral part of the Republican playbook, making it all that much more difficult to get the nation to pull together to defeat Covid, or do anything constructive at all! (Conservatives have long stoked distrust in government — and now we’re paying for it, Oct 12, 2021)

I’m writing because of Joe Rogan and Russel Brand
Background: Joe Rogan is a podcaster (Wikipedia). Russell Brand is an English comedian, actor, a radio host. (Wikipedia)

Joe Rogan has been reported as to be antivax and to promote the use of ivermectin.

On Oct 13, 2021, Joe Rogan had a three-hour conversation with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The important point of this convo was Rogan going after Gupta about CNN's repetition of ivermectin being a dewormer for horses without recognizing its use as an antiparsetic for humans.

4 key moments from Dr. Sanjay Gupta's appearance on Joe Rogan's podcast, CNN, Oct 15, 2021

On Oct 20, 2021, Brand posted one of his podcasts where he talks about Joe Rogan and takes CNN to task for stating ivermectin is for deworming horse when the drug is, in fact, an antiparasitic for both animals and humans.

“They Outright LIED!!!” Joe Rogan EXPOSES CNN & Don Lemon's Rebuttal
Russell Brand, YouTube 14:09, Oct 20, 2021
As Americans' trust in media dips to the second lowest on record, could CNN's coverage of Joe Rogan's Covid medication serve as an example as to how this has come to be?

“You Dumb Mother F*****” Joe Rogan UNMASKS CNN’s True Agenda
Russell Brand, YouTube 15:37, Oct 28, 2021
As CNN releases a fiery statement regarding its feud with Joe Rogan, we look at the network's corporate relationships.

One point for Brand.


I’ve watched several of Brand’s videos where he starts by saying he’s not a medical expert, and he’s not giving out medical advice; it is up to us to determine what best for our own medical treatment.

An observation: CNN, questionable, Rogan bad
Whether it’s Russel Brand, Fox News, or other media personalities on the Right, everybody piles on CNN for this odd emphasis on ivermectin as a horse dewormer, but nobody is taking Joe Rogan to task for promoting ivermectin. CNN has committed a peccadillo while Rogan is spreading Covid misinformation. Statistically, nobody will get sick or die because of CNN but people could become sick or die because of Joe Rogan.

Joe Rogan tests positive for Covid
On Sep 2, 2021, Rogan released the following video, announcing a positive test.

Joe Rogan says he has COVID-19, ABC7, Sep 2, 2021, YouTube 2:35, 2:35
0:15 We immediately threw the kitchen sink at it. All kinds of meds, monoclonal antibodies, ivermectin, Z-Pak, prednisone, everything.

Joe Rogan says he has COVID-19, has taken controversial drug ivermectin - CNN, Sep 2, 2021
Rogan's revealing his positive diagnosis comes after he dismissed to some extent the usefulness of the vaccine on his podcast, "The Joe Rogan Experience," which is exclusively available on Spotify.

In April, Rogan told listeners that if a 21-year-old asked him if they should get vaccinated, he would suggest they don't.

"If you're a healthy person, and you're exercising all the time, and you're young, and you're eating well, like, I don't think you need to worry about this," Rogan said.

He later clarified his comments, saying he is "not an anti-vaxx person" and that he is "not a respected source of information, even for me."

I watched Rogan’s video announcement and his kitchen sink approach to dealing with the situation. I saw a man who was scared and had no idea of what he was doing, desperate to try anything. In looking back on Rogan and his talk of Covid, I very much see a macho bravado attitude, typifying the tough guy American of the Right. I find it odd. In reading the Wikipedia article on Rogan, I discovered he had voted for Bernie Sanders which right there tells me we would see eye to eye on politics, and yet, he demonstrates repeatedly the same distrust as The Right for authority and expertise. His promotion of ivermectin tells me that he heard the rumor of positive results of the drug killing the virus in vitro (in a petri dish), but read nothing of the subsequent studies, showing no causal link as an antiviral in vivo (in human beings).

I’m disappointed. One could argue that media personalities like Joe Rogan and Russell Brand are just ordinary folk, spouting their opinion — all of us must listen with caution. I note that Fox News sells Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson not as journalism but as “opinion” shows.

However, I feel these people have a greater responsibility than us ordinary folk in researching what they say because of the influential power they have on their audiences. I remember hearing Rush Limbaugh at the beginning of the pandemic say on air, “Covid is just the common flu. Nothing to worry about.”


Influenza, the flu, kills on average thirty thousand people a year in the United States. Covid killed a half a million people in the first year. (Measuring Mortality In The Pandemics Of 1918–19 And 2020–21, HealthAffairs, Apr 1, 2021)

Final Word
While Joe Rogan and Russel Brand are public figures and podcasters of some renown, they are both just people, and I would put forward that the average person does not do their research and so develops opinions and a worldview based on what they hear from around them: family, friends, peer group, news, social media, politicians, etc. I admit that the average person is not going to take the time I’ve taken to look things up, read various sources including medical journals, and try to get to “the truth”. Even then, I’m sure there are those who will still not believe my article.

Would I take ivermectin? No. It’s an antiparasitic; it’s not an antiviral. Taking the drug is a misinformed act of desperation. I trust Dr. Fauci, the CDC and the FDA, and I have every intention of following their recommendations. I’m not going to self-diagnose or self-medicate.

But let me qualify that. I do not believe medical science has all the answers. However, I believe medical science has far more answers than I do. Dr. Fauci is only human, and I’m sure he will make a mistake from time to time. However, I’m sure that Dr. Fauci as a career epidemiologist is going to make far fewer mistakes than I will as a person with no medical training whatsoever. In other words, I trust but I also know I’m not going to get 100% perfection. I’m certainly not going to get my medical advice from Fox News, t****, or Joe Rogan; that would be asking for trouble. Incompetent people tend to have incompetent opinions. Anybody offended? Let me cite the Dunning-Kruger Effect: Never have so many said so much while knowing so little.

“I am not a doctor. I am a fucking moron. I am a cage-fighting commentator … I am not a respected source of information even for me. But I at least try to be honest about what I am saying.” -Joe Rogan, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter, Apr 29, 2021

Several years ago, a reporter asked a Republican senator about climate change, and he replied, “I don’t believe in global warming. But I’m not a scientist.” Think about that. A man with the power to vote on policy just admitted he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Everybody wants to give their opinion. But then they want a Get Out of Jail Free card by qualifying their lack of expertise in case they’re wrong.

They have two choices:
  1. Educate themselves.
  2. Shut the f**k up.

Joe Rogan has millions of listeners for his podcast. He has influence. He has a responsibility to do his homework before he opens his mouth. In reference to ivermectin, he’s wrong. If I can research this topic as I’ve done in this article, so can Rogan.

I will continue to get medical advice from Dr. Fauci, not from Joe Rogan.

I like Russell Brand but his laser-like focus on this one particular aspect of CNN’s reporting, misses the bigger picture that CNN is correctly following the recommendations of the experts like Dr. Fauci: wear a mask, get vaccinated, and don’t take ivermectin. I’ve seen several of Brand’s videos, and he starts off by saying he’s not a medical expert and does not pretend to give a medical opinion. In this case, he’s done just that. By siding with Rogan about CNN’s peccadillo but not taking Rogan to task about ivermectin, Brand contributes to Covid misinformation and gives ammunition to those who distrust mainstream media. Now, how am I supposed to trust Brand?

Have my words made a difference? Is anybody going to listen? Probably not, but it’s been interesting putting this article together. I now know why the authorities don't recommend ivermectin, and I agree with them. I feel I better know what’s gong on. I think I’ll reward myself with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Cartoon by Jon Adams, The New Yorker
(I apologise. I do not have permission to repost this, but it is too good to pass up.)

Update 2022-02-07
The following article goes into detail about the origins of the misinformation about ivermectin, compromised studies, and plagarized reports distorting the conclusions of the original scientific papers.

‘You will not believe what I’ve just found.’ Inside the ivermectin saga: a hacked password, mysterious websites and faulty data.
Marketwatch, Feb 7/2022
How a drug used to treat parasites for decades became the hot and controversial drug of the pandemic.

Several prominent medical figures have found themselves in hot water during this pandemic for making what turned out to be unsubstantiated claims. Were they themselves duped or were they caught up in the dazzle of their 15 minutes of fame?


Wikipedia: Correlation does not imply causation
The phrase "correlation does not imply causation" refers to the inability to legitimately deduce a cause-and-effect relationship between two events or variables solely on the basis of an observed association or correlation between them. The idea that "correlation implies causation" is an example of a questionable-cause logical fallacy, in which two events occurring together are taken to have established a cause-and-effect relationship. This fallacy is also known by the Latin phrase cum hoc ergo propter hoc ('with this, therefore because of this'). This differs from the fallacy known as post hoc ergo propter hoc ("after this, therefore because of this"), in which an event following another is seen as a necessary consequence of the former event, and from conflation, the errant merging of two events, ideas, databases, etc., into one.

Wikipedia: Ivermectin
Ivermectin is a medication used to treat parasite infestations. In humans, these include head lice, scabies, river blindness (onchocerciasis), strongyloidiasis, trichuriasis, ascariasis, and lymphatic filariasis. In veterinary medicine, the medication is used to prevent and treat heartworm and acariasis, among other indications. Ivermectin works through many mechanisms of action that result in the death of the targeted parasites; it can be taken by mouth or applied to the skin for external infestations.

Wikipedia: COVID-19 misinformation
COVID-19 misinformation refers to any kind of subject about the COVID-19 pandemic that has resulted in misinformation and conspiracy theories about the scale of the pandemic and the origin, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the disease. False information, including intentional disinformation, has been spread through social media, text messaging, and mass media. False information has been propagated by celebrities, politicians, and other prominent public figures. Multiple countries have passed laws against "fake news", and thousands of people have been arrested for spreading COVID-19 misinformation. The spread of COVID-19 misinformation by governments has also been significant.

WebMD: Is Ivermectin Approved to Treat COVID-19?
The FDA hasn’t approved ivermectin to treat or prevent the illness caused by the coronavirus.

Scientists have been studying the drug to find out if it can treat COVID-19, but they need more information before they can say whether it’s safe or effective. That’s why major groups like the FDA, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the World Health Organization say you shouldn’t take ivermectin for COVID-19 unless you’re enrolled in a professional medical study called a clinical trial.

The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from the coronavirus is to get vaccinated. The COVID-19 vaccines are approved for everyone 12 years old and up. They’re generally safe and effective, with the benefits outweighing any risks.

The same can’t be said about taking ivermectin for COVID-19. If you’re not under a doctor’s care, it’s possible to take too much and overdose, which can lead to seizures, coma, and death.

This is how easy it is to get ivermectin, the dewormer drug that conspiracists say cures COVID-19
Salon, Sep 1, 2021
Telehealth platforms make it easy to get off-label prescriptions of the anti-parasitic drug with bad side effects

Is there any evidence ivermectin can treat COVID-19? We analyzed the prominent scientific studies
Salon, Aug 18, 2021
Despite promising words in some studies, experts say ivermectin is a false hope for treating COVID-19. Here's why

Fringe Doctors’ Groups Promote Ivermectin for COVID despite a Lack of Evidence
Scientific American – Sep 29, 2021
Much of the public interest in ivermectin as a treatment and prophylactic for COVID can be traced to a study led by Australian scientist Leon Caly that was in the spring of 2020. In that work, scientists added very high concentrations of the drug to cells grown in petri dishes and reported that it prevented the virus that causes COVID from making copies of itself. Similar studies in the past have indicated that ivermectin has antiviral properties when added to lab-grown cells: it blocked replication of viruses that cause dengue, Zika, West Nile, AIDS and other diseases. Prior to the pandemic, however, only one clinical trial had evaluated ivermectin specifically for a viral illness (dengue fever), and it showed no clinical benefit. (National Library of Medicine, May 18, 2021)

References: Origin of Ivermectin as a treatment for Covid

Ivermectin and Covid-19: how a cheap antiparasitic became political
Pharmaceutial Technology, Apr 19, 2021

Study finds anti-parasitic drug could kill coronavirus in 48 hours
Pharmaceutial Technology, Apr 6, 2020

Lab experiments show anti-parasitic drug, Ivermectin, eliminates SARS-CoV-2 in cells in 48 hours
Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Apr 3/2020

The amount of ivermectin needed to kill Covid-19 is toxic to humans, says Prof Salim Abdool Karim
Time Live, Jan 28, 2021

Why You Shouldn’t Take Ivermectin for COVID-19: Doing so can send you to the emergency room.
Clevland Clinic, Aug 30, 2021

Is ivermectin going to kill you? Probably not unless you take the dosage meant for horses
Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Washington, Sep 18, 2021
"In horses, ivermectin doses run up to 1,200 milligrams. For humans, the recommended dose is about 3 milligrams." -Dr. Scott Phillips, medical director, Washington Poison Center

During a Zika virus outbreak in 2015, Phillips said researchers found that high concentrations of ivermectin could prevent the virus from replicating and reproducing.

Ivermectin to prevent ZIKV transmission: a word of caution
BMJ, London, England, Feb 2, 2016
The achieved plasma levels [dosage of ivermectin] are sufficient to have an impact on malaria transmission. However, plasma levels fall short of concentrations that are likely to affect the survival of Aedes mosquitoes, even if the highest currently used dose of 800 μg/kg is administered (see figure). If ivermectin is to be used for control of the transmission of ZIKV, even higher doses of ivermectin are necessary for which the safety profile needs to be determined in long-term pharmacokinetic and safety studies.


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Sunday 7 November 2021

What the heck is a respiratory droplet?

You step outside on a cold, winter day, and you exhale. You see your breath. The cold has condensed the bits of moisture in the exhaled air and formed a mist. When you exhale, you’re not only breathing out air but dampness from your lungs, your mouth, and your windpipe. Those bits of moisture are called respiratory droplets. The important aspect of this phenomenon is that these droplets, having been formed inside your body, can contain infections from your body. These droplets can hang in the air for minutes, even hours. Somebody else, walking by, can inadvertently breath in those droplets, infecting themselves. This is the airborne transmission of infectious diseases.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I watched several videos published by various study groups, demonstrating droplets and their spread, and the effectiveness of masks.

YouTube: How Well Do Masks Work? (Schlieren Imaging In Slow Motion!) (8:20)
It's Okay to be Smart, Jul 4, 2020
Wearing a mask is a cheap and easy way to help stop the spread of airborne infections like COVID-19. It’s also a sign that you want to help protect other people and have them protect you… that we’re all in this together. Here are some awesome slow-motion schlieren imaging experiments to demonstrate why masks work!

Wearing a mask is not perfect but provides protection to the user. But more importantly, a mask protects other people from a potentially infected (asymptomatic) person. It stops or slows down the spreading of respiratory droplets and consequently, infection. It’s not perfect. Heck, nothing is perfect, but doing something sure beats throwing your hands up and capitulating!

We should have done this years ago
I’ve read several personal accounts of people living in the Far East. People comply with the rules because they have always worn masks. Why? In the Far East, the general attitude is to put the good of the community ahead of your own. Have a cold? Wear a mask. But here in North America, personal freedom outweighs the good of the community. Me first even if I have a cold.

This past year, it’s been reported the annual flu/cold season has been milder. Why? Because more people were wearing masks, reducing the transmission of disease. We all should have been wearing masks decades ago but have come to believe there’s nothing to do to protect ourselves from the common cold.

In January 2018, a colleague at my company called me over to ask for my help. I stood at the door of her office, taking her red nose, weeping eyes, and cough. When I asked her why she wasn’t at home, she told me she had too much work to do so like brave soldier, she came in to get her work done. I said thanks for coming in to infect all of us.

Shortly thereafter, I got sick with the flu. I couldn’t get out of bed for 48 hours and needed two weeks before I was recovered enough to go back to work. There is no doubt my colleague got me sick. If I was still at work (I’m now retired), today, I would go to management and the board and ask for, no, demand a company policy demanding sick people stay at home. A brief Google search turns up that the lost productivity due to sickness adds up to tens of billions of dollars.

Out of sight, out of mind
Except on a cold, winter day,  we can’t see respiratory droplets. We all have a tendency to ignore what we can’t see. On a number of occasions during this pandemic, I looked out my window on a nice, sunny day wondering just where the crisis was. Everything looked all right in the world. But then I looked at the headlines, read the interviews with frontline workers and realised that while my life went on uninterrupted, others were not as fortunate as me. Never mind being hospitalised, I didn’t want to get sick and spoil my good fortune. I chose to be prudent because I believed the authorities. My logic: I would rather be cautious, and it turns out to be not necessary than to not be cautious and get myself into trouble.

40% could have been saved
As of this writing, three quarters of a million people have died from Covid in the United States. On February 11, 2021, The Guardian newspaper reported on a study by a Lancet commission, stating that the U.S. could have averted 40% of deaths if the country had taken a more pro-active approach to dealing with the pandemic. While t**** is not to blame for the pandemic, I believe he, along with Fox News and other media personalities of The Right are criminally negligent for downplaying the severity of the crisis. They’ve all made things worse, especially in convincing a significant percentage of the population to not wear masks and not get vaccinated. Like my co-worker who came into work sick and infected me, none of these people see the consequences of their actions. Their personal inconvenience is more important than my health.

Final Word
It pays to be prudent. It’s better to err on the side of caution. These may seem like platitudes, and you may therefore tend to ignore them, but in the middle of a public health crisis, I think they’re more important than ever. Whenever I hear about an antimasker, I immediately think this person does not know what a respiratory droplet is. The science is there, and the science is clear. Ignoring it is sticking your head in the sand. Not believing it is, well, I could say unfortunate but what I really mean is that it’s unfortunately stupid. The dinosaurs became extinct because of an asteroid. The human race will become extinct because of stupidity.

Personally, I would feel guilty as hell if I found out I was asyptomatic and infected someone. I wear a mask to protect myself but more importantly, I wear a mask to protect others, my family, my friends, and even a stranger in a store. Respiratory droplets are real. Airborne transmission of disease is real. And I'm not living my life in fear; I am merely accepting that at this point in time, taking the necessary measures is the prudent thing to do. As it said in a meme: When I put on oven mitts to take the casserole out of the oven, I'm not afraid of my oven.

We all need to do out part to protect one another. We are all in this together.

You have the right to jeopardize your life, but you have the responsibility to not jeopardize mine.


Need more convincing? my blog: Masks: How we hate change - Sep 28/2021

Wikipedia: Respiratory droplet
A respiratory droplet is a small aqueous droplet produced by exhalation, consisting of saliva or mucus and other matter derived from respiratory tract surfaces. Respiratory droplets are produced naturally as a result of breathing, speaking, sneezing, coughing, or vomiting, so they are always present in our breath, but speaking and coughing increases their number.

WebMD: What Are Airborne Diseases?
Airborne diseases are bacteria or viruses that are most commonly transmitted through small respiratory droplets. These droplets are expelled when someone with the airborne disease sneezes, coughs, laughs, or otherwise exhales in some way. These infectious vehicles can travel along air currents, linger in the air, or cling to surfaces, where they are eventually inhaled by someone else.

Airborne transmission can occur over relatively long distances and spans of time. If you go into the bathroom that someone coughed in minutes before, it could be a danger. This makes it possible for airborne diseases to infect larger numbers of people and more difficult to determine the causes due to a lack of person-to-person contact.

Airborne transmission has varying capabilities. Airborne diseases can travel distances greater than 6 feet and remain infectious in the air from minutes to hours. This largely depends on the type of ventilation and preventative measures inside the building.

Mayo Clinic: How well do face masks protect against coronavirus?
Can face masks help slow the spread of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19? Yes. Face masks combined with other preventive measures, such as getting vaccinated, frequent hand-washing and physical distancing, can help slow the spread of the virus.

YouTube: Droplets from speaking caught on high speed cameras - from Japanese study on micro droplets (5:34)
Fast Life Hack Clips, Apr 4, 2020: from NHK World Japan
In the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, a new research reveals how tiny droplets carrying the virus can remain in the air for some time.

YouTube: Infrared video shows the risks of airborne coronavirus spread | Visual Forensics (6:12)
The Washington Post, Dec 11, 2020
To visually illustrate the risk of airborne transmission in real time, The Washington Post used a military-grade infrared camera capable of detecting exhaled breath


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Sunday 24 October 2021

I wrote a book. So what?

I had never thought of writing. In 2010, I tried blogging, my soapbox for propounding my view of the world. But was there more?

In 2011, I participated In NaNoWriMo. I wrote my fifty thousand words in eighteen days. In 2012, I worked through November in twenty-six days. Finally, in 2013, with a spark of inspiration, I rattled off my fifty in just eleven days. For some reason, this third effort felt as more of a complete effort, a jewel in the rough, but something worth developing. Fifty days shy of three years (2.9 years), I clicked on the Publish button on September 22, 2016.

"All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my closeup."

I'm sitting here, five years later, realising, "So, what?"

Despite my marketing efforts, people still have no idea who I am. I've hardly sold anything. I've tweeted, posted on Facebook, done book tours, arranged ARC reviews, given away free copies, done just about everything short of standing on my head. How does anyone stand out in a crowd? I've come to realise, it's quite a crowd, and while marketing is important, luck is the big factor in success.

Being an indie author is an uphill struggle.

According to Wikipedia, there are 2.2 million new books published each year, 300,000 in the U.S., 150,000 in the United Kingdom, 20,000 in Canada. The book review section of The Washington Post states they get 150 new titles each day. Each day! What are the chances of anyone getting noticed? Even if somebody has written the next classic, there’s the harsh reality of statistics. Having the public choose any particular book out of the annual American field of 300,000 strikes me as being the equivalent of winning the literary lottery. Congratulations, E. L. James: over 70 million copies of the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy sold!

By the way, the above is about new books published each year. According to Google, there are over 150 million books in existence! Literary lottery, indeed!

There's a lot of junk out there, which means the public is leery of investing their time in anything unknown. Who wants the literary equivalent of a bad movie? "I want two hours of my life back." Cheers to the risk-takers who brought E. L. James to the forefront.

The Guardian – May 24/2012
Stop the press: half of self-published authors earn less than $500 by Alison Flood
Despite the splash caused by self-publishing superstars such as Amanda Hocking and EL James, the average amount earned by DIY authors last year was just $10,000 (£6,375) – and half made less than $500.

Considering all the above, writing is not an undertaking which is statistically successful. Why in Heaven's name would anybody in their right mind take on such a task? I guess the key word here is "right mind".

"Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well." -Stephen King, On Writing (my book Review, Dec 27, 2010)

I will interpret that as meaning one does it for the love of it. I can certainly say that I'm not doing it for the money! Ha!

Self-publishing: I'm doomed!
Ron Charles of The Washington Post clearly states his position, No, I don’t want to read your self-published book. Kathy English of The Toronto Star says that the Star does not review books by self-published authors. And why do these people take such a stance? Roger Sutton of The Horn Book lays it out succinctly, The real problem is that most self-published books... are pretty terrible.

But now, I'm going to say something which is probably a little strange. Maybe very strange.

I wouldn't read my own book.

That, for me, was quite the revelation. First of all, I don't often read just any book I find. I don't have all that much free time so it's not like I'm in need of something to wallow away the hours. Maybe if I had a four-hour trip ahead of me, maybe if I was stuck in a cottage on a rainy day, I might randomly pick something off the shelf but for the most part, I pick things I know, authors I'm familiar with, themes I can count on to amuse me. I wouldn't read my own book.

I realise I'm not helping my cause, but I'm actually not surprised that nobody reads my book. Well, almost nobody. Time is precious and who wants to run the risk? This is where I can joke about dead authors becoming popular so maybe I could help my sales if I committed suicide. Or this is where I can joke about going on to the next project and let the rest of the world to catch up to me. Somewhere, I saw a professional author suggest that marketing will eventually take care of itself, and the best thing an author can do is write the next book. Writing [is about] enriching your own life.

Doing Something Different
I would be lying if I didn't admit to having moments of fantasy, my name in lights, fame, fortune, admiring fans. But the realistic side of me reined in that craziness to carefully examine the practical side of writing. First off was to admit right up front that I had no idea of what I was doing. In the acknowledgements of my first novel, in thanking those who provided me with editorial assistance, I wrote:

What did I know about writing? The first time somebody told me I had a dangling participle, I checked to see if my fly was open.

I swallowed my pride, and I asked for help. I knew so little about the subject matter, I didn't understand that I didn't understand. That old saying is oh, so true: "The more I know, the less I know." I was very much displaying the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

I resolved to keep at it, to work with more than one person, and strive to get a favourable consensus of opinion. This is where I joke about Mom liked my book.

I make great use of beta readers, using the service Fiverr to find them. Like everything, some are good, and some are bad but the important thing for me is to have another set of eyes look at my work. Once again, referring to the acknowledgements of my first novel:

Beta readers: they are too numerous to mention, but I sincerely thank each and every one of them. They pointed out things I didn’t see or couldn’t see. I wear glasses, however it turns out I’m myopic literally and literarily.

Final Word
I'm writing this on October 24, 2021. I've published two novels and five small collections of short stories, and I've sold merely hundreds of books. I remain unknown and don't see that changing anytime soon. What to do? I'm editing novel number three, going through a series of beta reads to fine tune my work. Once I'm satisfied, I will hire professionals to copy edit and proofread my work before clicking on the publish button, sometime in 2022. Will I sell a million copies? I wish! But I will have a personal sense of satisfaction of having accomplished something. I will have enriched my life.

My blog: Marketing My Writing: So far, a bust! - Sep 26/2023
I'll start with the classic joke: Look at what I've done, and now do the exact opposite, the supposition being that what I'm doing is wrong.


Shameless plug: my books on Amazon

IDG – Apr 10/2010: Google: 129 Million Different Books Have Been Published
For those who have ever wondered how many different books are out there in the world, Google has an answer for you: 129,864,880, according to Leonid Taycher, a Google software engineer who works on the Google Books project.

Note: Wikipedia states 2.2. million new books are published each year. The above article was published in 2010 so if I take 130 million plus 2.2. times 10, I arrive at about 150 million in 2020.

Wikipedia: Books published per country per year
TOTAL: approximately 2,210,000

The Horn Book - Sep 30/2014
An open letter to the self-published author feeling Roger Sutton
I can imagine how frustrating it is to have your book refused possible review coverage by the Horn Book simply because it is self-published. But here is why that situation is unlikely to change anytime soon... The real problem is that most self-published books... are pretty terrible.

The Washington Post - Oct 1/2014
No, I don’t want to read your self-published book by Ron Charles
At The Post, we’re getting about 150 books a day. A day. And these are books that had to find an agent. And then a publisher. And then were professionally edited. And now are being professionally marketed by people with money on the line. Many of these books, of course, are bad, but many — far more than we can review — are interesting, engaging, informative, moving, timely and/or newsworthy for various reasons.

The Toronto Star - Jun 19/2015
So many new books, too little time and space: Public Editor by Kathy English
Deborah Dundas, who has been Books editor for almost a year now and has been reviewing books here since 1999, told me the Star is inundated with “hundreds” of books every week from publishers throughout North America and beyond. As well, although the Star does not review books by self-published authors, she nevertheless receives “endless” email pitches from those who self-publish.

my blog: Book Review: On Writing by Stephen King - Dec 27, 2010
Who on this planet doesn't know the name Stephen King? Born in 1947, this American author has written and published 49 novels including 5 nonfiction which have sold over 350 million copies. Of course, his fame has spread even further as a number of these books have been turned into successful films: Carrie, The Shining, It and Misery to name but a few.

my blog: Writing: Amanda Hocking: indie author goes viral - Mar 2, 2011
Amanda was born in 1984, just your normal girl from Austin, Minnesota. However, over the years, she has apparently written over a dozen novels, all unpublished. She got the idea of self-publishing her work and started in April 2010. Huffington quotes Amanda as saying, "As of Tuesday, January 04, 2011 at 9 PM, I've sold over 185,000 books since April 15, 2010." She states that she started with Kindle in April 2010 and has not sold less than 1,000 copies per month since May 2010. The newspaper USA Today, Feb 9/2011, states that in January 2011 alone, Amanda's 9 published titles sold 450,000 copies, 99% of which were eBooks.


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Wednesday 20 October 2021

Cancel Culture, Supposedly

I hear people complaining about being so-called cancelled. Woe is me! Of course, Godwin's Law takes over and now, it's the "Gestapo of Political Correctness" subjugating the masses to make them conform to what those G.D. libtards feel is socially acceptable.

Fine. Then I go look at the complainant and see what's been suppressed. I find racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, along with lies, misinformation, distortion of the facts, conspiracy theories and outright stupidity, coupled with an attitude of anti-education, anti-science, anti-expertise, anti-government, and anti-authority goddamnit, nobody's gonna tell me what to do! Fifty years ago, a nut would stand on a soapbox at a street corner with a megaphone. The potential audience was limited. Today, that same person can get their message out to millions.

We’re back to a fundamental question: We all want freedom, but should anyone be free to falsely yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater?

My Personal Experience with Facebook
I've had my knuckles rapped. On September 21, 2020, I posted the following meme. I believe this clearly indicates my pro-mask, pro-vaccine stance while being critical of those who downplay the severity of this public health crisis.

On September 21, 2021, one year later, I received this notification from Facebook.

Along with the removal of my post, Facebook also punished me by disabling my ability to post for 18 hours.

I forgot to take a screenshot of this, but somewhere was the threat that repeated infractions could lead to me being banned from Facebook.

Am I angry? No. Am I concerned? No. Am I amused? Most definitely. Why? Let's unpack this.


The Social Media Police
The giants, such as Facebook and Twitter have been loath to step in. Think about this. Collectively, we use social media to post our opinions. But then, we collectively became concerned at the outrageousness of the extreme ends of the political spectrum and asked, demanded, and have legislatively coerced these giants to censor these people. In other words, we can't control ourselves; we can't censor ourselves, so we're asking somebody else to step in. We're asking social media to play parent to us as feuding children.

Think about that. Collectively, we can’t police ourselves, so we have to ask somebody else to police us.

But what about that policing? Overzealous? Too tough? Too “politically correct”?

Let’s look at the stats. Facebook has 2.89 billion users. The world’s population currently stands at 7.9 billion. That means 37% of the people on the planet are using Facebook. Holy cow! That’s a lot of users.

Referring back to my above run-in with the Facebook censors, do I think a human being looked at my posting and manually clicked on the button to punish me? Considering my posting had been online with no problems for a year, I assume this is a new rule, but I also think this rule was carried out by an automated routine. Did this routine look at my wording? Did it look at the child trying to stick a knife in a wall socket? How does any of this promote suicide? Did the routine miss my sarcasm?

First off, I repeat that we’re in this mess because collectively, we can’t control ourselves. Secondly, the media giants are faced with an overwhelmingly complex problem of properly identifying and dealing with trouble. How to accurately zero in on what is the cause of the problem? Suicide prevention is a good thing but does my meme have anything to do with promoting suicide?

I worked in I.T. (Information Technology) for 30 years and can say from experience that computers are complex. I mean like really complex. Facebook has an enormous headache in trying to police the world and despite the advances in A.I. (Artificial Intelligence), computers remain stupid, doing only what we tell them to do. It isn’t that easy to instruct a machine to make the distinction between suicide prevention and political satire.

As such, I expect the pendulum is going to swing too far in the other direction, and now that Facebook is trying to take on this policing task, it’s not going to hit a bullseye on the first try. Heck, it may never hit the bullseye. Whether it’s a human being or a computer instructed by a human being, the rules, or the algorithms written to enact those rules, may cast a wide net, ensnaring what some may consider as being the innocent. The final decision may end up in some sort of court, to be decided by some sort of jury. I repeat Facebook is doing this because collectively, we couldn’t police ourselves, and we asked them to do this.

In the past few years, I’ve been startled, surprised, and shocked to discover that the level of intelligence and knowledge of your average citizen is, at times, appalling. I’ve heard people state that they believe such and such without a shred of evidence, never mind that such and such at first glance is patently absurd. To paraphrase: Never have so many said so much while knowing so little.

High-ranking Democratic Party officials, including Hillary Clinton and John Podesta, were involved in human trafficking, running a child-sex ring in the basement of a pizzeria.
-Pizzagate, 2016

This was absolutely insane, but this is but one example of the craziness being passed around the Internet. While I believe there are mischief makers making up sh*t because they get a kick out of stirring the pot, I also believe there is a significant segment of the population that is ignorant, myopic, and ripe to be led off on a wild goose chase. Armed with a laptop, an Internet connection, and Google search, all of a sudden, your average Joe has turned into a world-class sleuth tracking down “the truth” in quotations marks. While I’m sure there are bad things that go on in the world, government corruption, exploitation of the masses by big pharma, corporate tax fraud, etc., I do not believe there is some sort of illuminati who sit in a conference room around a board table, plotting on taking over the world. This idea has been floating around for centuries and considering they still haven’t taken over I have to assume these so-called illuminati must be pretty incompetent.

Cartoon by Jon Adams, The New Yorker
(I apologise. I do not have permission to repost this, but it is too good to pass up.)

How does the world work? Nobody knows so we make stuff up. We invent gods or the God. We invent unprovable explanations because we lack the science to properly describe things. And if none of that works, we invent conspiracy theories: Somebody has to be in control, pulling the strings; none of this could happen by chance.

Stochastic Terrorism
t**** is guilty of inciting the insurrection of January 6, 2021. Period. Full stop. Fox News is complicit, including Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Jeanine Pirro. Other far-right personalities such as Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, and Ben Shapiro to name a few also contributed.

What is stochastic terrorism? In a nutshell, somebody makes inflammatory statements in the hopes of stirring somebody, anybody up enough to commit an act of violence. I heard t****'s speech. I saw him watching the TV afterward. He truly hoped the crowd would successfully storm the capital and take over so he could slip in and declare himself their leader.

The Pandemic
At the beginning of the pandemic, I watched Sean Hannity and other right-wing media personalities echo t*** by saying that every year, the flu kills thirty thousand people in the United States, while; the coronavirus had only killed five thousand people, so no big deal. All of these so-called pundits forgot to annualize the numbers. Take five thousand, multiple it by 52 weeks, and you end up with 260,000. Is that number large enough for ya? By the end of the first year, Covid-19 had killed a half a million people in the United States.

As of this writing, so many on the right are refusing the vaccines but some are promoting ivermectin, a medicine for treating parasites. Anti-maskers are incensed at their freedom being taken away but know nothing about respiratory droplets and the airborne transmission of infectious diseases.

No Big Deal
The Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918 saw 50 million killed worldwide with 675,000 in the United States. Today’s pandemic has almost five million killed worldwide but with a far greater population. Adjusting for population, the comparable number of deaths for the United States would be over two million so we can argue that today’s pandemic is far less virulent than the pandemic of 1918. I’ve heard people use this point to argue for less stringent measures: no masks, mandatory vaccination requirements are government overreach, etc. I have to make note of one important point:

Those who say today’s pandemic is no big deal are alive.

I believe it pays to be prudent. I think it’s better to err on the side of caution. According to the latest headlines, covid deaths are rare among the vaccinated, and nearly all deaths in the United States are unvaccinated.

In February 2021, The Lancet Commission, tasked with assessing the health policy record of t****, stated that 40% of the deaths from Covid-19 could have been averted if rates had corresponded to those of other high-income G7 countries, the equivalent of almost three hundred thousand people. (The Guardian)

I can write that, and you can read it because we’re alive.

Social Media Filters
As I said, we can’t control ourselves, so we have to rely on someone else to control us. Whether Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc., are the tech giants going to get their filters correct? Let's add on top of the technical challenges that what should be censored is subjective.

I've been mulling over this article for some time but was finally prompted to write while reading an article by a blogger who reported being censured by Google. In talking about the pandemic, this blogger, who seems to take exception to the current vaccines as not being fully vetted and their mandated application, stated that WHO, the World Health Organization was putting out propaganda. He used the word propaganda which refers to biased or misleading information. Do I see a pattern? The Right, such as Fox News and cohorts, prone to the psychological condition of projection, constantly sends out the message that the Left is spreading “propaganda” while, in fact, the Left is putting out a message based on accepted “science”. Example: Dr. Fauci and the CDC promote vaccines while Fox News discusses ivermectin. I can see Google attempting to use the word “propaganda” as a flag for those trying to discredit a legitimate organisation such as the World Health Organisation. Is Google always going to get this right? Probably not. But we did ask them to do this.

Final Word
I've heard it said that despite the technological advances, humanity has not progressed spiritually. We have unprecedented access to information but remain as dumber than ever. We have the means of speaking to world, but as testimony to the Dunning-Kruger effect, we completely overestimate our understanding of the situation.

As I said, we can't control ourselves, so we're now asking social media to control us, a formidable task fraught with difficulties such as overreach. With 37% of the world population as its users, Facebook would ban little ol' me and not give it a second thought.

How big of a task is it to police 2.89 billion users? In a recent episode of Last Week Tonight, the host John Oliver pointed out that Facebook’s attempts at filtering out unacceptable material appears to be solely concentrated on the English language. Oliver showed a Vietnamese radio personality as crazy as Alex Jones whose message goes out unfiltered on social media. On top of it, Facebook is merely one of several communication platforms where individuals blindly pass around postings with no checks and balances. Pizzagate? Heck, say anything you want. Who’s going to prove you wrong?

As the old saying goes: “Perception is everything” or “Perception is reality.” We make jokes about people thinking the world is flat; the joke being is that we all know it’s not flat. And yet, there are a lot of people believing stuff which easily doesn’t pass the smell test, and we somehow accept this as all right.

I return to my initial statement: Should anyone have the right to falsely yell fire in a crowded theater? Of course, the debate is now on as to whether “falsely” is correct or not.

With rights, come responsibilities.

I repeat: Anyone who is anti-mask and anti-vaccine does not understand respiratory droplets and how they contribute to the airborne transmission of infectious diseases. Or, like the smoker who rejects the scientific evidence of the link between smoking and lung cancer, their own personal view is more important than the good of the community. They are so focused on their freedom; they do not respect my freedom. Like a smoker who smokes in front of me and makes me inhale second-hand smoke, an anti-mask and anti-vaccine person doesn’t care if they risk my life. Like the smoker who says smoking is not a health risk, the anti-masker is saying the coronavirus is a hoax or at least, an overblown issue. It pays to be prudent. It is better to err on the side of caution. You have the right to smoke but you have the responsibility to not smoke in public. You have the right to not wear a mask and not be vaccinated, but you have the responsibility to follow the rules where masks and vaccinations are required. You have the right to jeopardize your life, but you have the responsibility to not jeopardize mine.


Posted by Moveclips, Jan 18, 2015
YouTube: The Day the Earth Stood Still (4/5) Movie CLIP - Klaatu's Speech (1951) (2:37)

Klaatu: I am leaving soon, and you will forgive me if I speak bluntly. The universe grows smaller every day, and the threat of aggression by any group, anywhere, can no longer be tolerated. There must be security for all or no one is secure. Now, this does not mean giving up any freedom except the freedom to act irresponsibly. Your ancestors knew this when they made laws to govern themselves and hired policemen to enforce them. We of the other planets have long accepted this principle. We have an organization for the mutual protection of all planets and for the complete elimination of aggression. The test of any such higher authority is, of course, the police force that supports it. For our policemen, we created a race of robots. Their function is to patrol the planets—in space ships like this one—and preserve the peace. In matters of aggression, we have given them absolute power over us; this power can not be revoked. At the first sign of violence, they act automatically against the aggressor. The penalty for provoking their action is too terrible to risk. The result is that we live in peace, without arms or armies, secure in the knowledge that we are free from aggression and war—free to pursue more pro?table enterprises. Now, we do not pretend to have achieved perfection, but we do have a system, and it works. I came here to give you these facts. It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet. But if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder. Your choice is simple: Join us and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration. We shall be waiting for your answer; the decision rests with you.


Wikipedia: Shouting fire in a crowded theater
"Shouting fire in a crowded theater" is a popular analogy for speech or actions made for the principal purpose of creating panic. The phrase is a paraphrasing of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.'s opinion in the United States Supreme Court case Schenck v. United States in 1919, which held that the defendant's speech in opposition to the draft during World War I was not protected free speech under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The case was later partially overturned by Brandenburg v. Ohio in 1969, which limited the scope of banned speech to that which would be directed to and likely to incite imminent lawless action (e.g. a riot).

The paraphrasing differs from Holmes's original wording in that it typically does not include the word falsely, while also adding the word "crowded" to describe the theatre. The original wording used in Holmes's opinion ("falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic") highlights that speech that is dangerous and false is not protected, as opposed to speech that is dangerous but also true.

Wikipedia: Stochastic Terrorism
The first mention of the term "stochastic terrorism" appears to be in a 2002 article written by Gordon Woo entitled "Quantitative Terrorism Risk Assessment" in the Journal of Risk Finance.[36] The term is used to suggest that a quantifiable relationship may exist between seemingly random acts of terror and their intended goal of "perpetuating a reign of fear" via a manipulation of mass media and its capacity for "instant global news communication".

Wikipedia: Cancel culture
Cancel culture or call-out culture is a modern form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles – whether it be online, on social media, or in person. Those subject to this ostracism are said to have been "cancelled". The expression "cancel culture" has mostly negative connotations and is used in debates on free speech and censorship.

my blog: Masks: How we hate change - Sep 28/2021
To mask or not to mask, that should not be a question.

my blog: The Enemy Is Us - June 15/2019
We are our own worst enemy.


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