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    August 2021
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    • The Lack of Belief In Good
      Are humans good, bad or neutral? It’s an old philosophical debate, and not just in the West. Confucius thought they were born neutral, for example, while the later Confucian Mencius felt they were good, noting that everyone who saw a child fall into a well would be horrified. Others, including many Confucians and the Christian church, with original sin, have […]
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The nature of the beast.

There sure are a lot of people on Twitter and in real life who don’t trust Anthony Fauci because his advice changes. Scientists are pains in the ass that way. But for those of us who DO believe Anthony Fauci is giving us the best advice as he knows it, it’s because we understand the nature of the beast we are dealing with. And once you understand it, you too will start to listen to Anthony Fauci with a different attitude.

Here’s the nature of the beast:

1.) Viruses are spread by many different ways. They can be inhaled or swallowed or via skin to skin contact.

2.) Once a virus gets into your body, it infects the cells. A single cell can produce many many copies of viruses. When the cell bursts open, it releases those many many copies of viruses into the body to infect other cells. Those viruses can infect specific cells in your body and make you pretty sick.

3.) The cells reproduce the virus according to the instructions that the virus passes to it.

4.) The cells slice up viral proteins and display them on the surface of the cell.

5.) Circulating T-cells recognize the viral proteins on the surface of the cell and start the immune response.

6.) The immune response will start fighting infection and raise your temperature.

7.) The key to winning is to have an immune system that will out pace the rate of infection. The more cells infected, the harder the immune system has to work to catch up.

8.) Viruses reproduce very rapidly.

9.) The more rapidly they reproduce, the more mistakes are made in reading instructions and making the proteins.

10.) Some of those mistakes, called mutations, will cause the virus to fail to infect or infect efficiently. They may lose the ability to infect other cells and reproduce. That’s good.

11.) Other mutations will make it easier for the virus to infect other cells. Or make it easier for the virus to infect other people because there is more virus in the body of the giver to pass to the receiver. Guess which mutations are likely to survive.

12.) The more people infected, the more chances of a mutation that will cause the virus to spread and infect.

13.) lather, rinse, repeat.

14.) The key to stopping this self perpetuating cycle is to stop the infections from spreading from person to person. This can be accomplished by vaccines that start the immune system response early and by social distancing. That way, the virus is taken out before the infection can really get off the ground and infect others.

Note that it doesn’t matter to the virus how this party got started. It doesn’t matter if it was the result of cooking in a mix of 32 animals at a market or was accidentally created in a lab. Although the former is far more likely, the nature of viruses and how they replicate and spread is exactly the same. Not only that but viruses can’t think. They don’t have the genome for thinking. All they’re interested in is making more copies of themselves. And they’re not even interested in that because they are not aware.

So, getting on Fauci’s back about some conspiratorial “gain of function” research is a major distraction that, while being ridiculous, also does not solve the problem of mutating viruses that are loose in the world.

It also doesn’t help to get in a high snit at Fauci because his advice keeps changing. His advice may change because the epidemiology may be changing somewhere along the path listed above.

Is the variant becoming more contagious? Then put your masks back on. Are there more people being infected by a single person? Then social distancing rules might need to be enhanced. Is the route of transmission changing? Then where you are, whether inside or outside or in a crowd may need to be taken into consideration.

Is the mutant changing to such an extent that the vaccine is not working as quickly as it used to? Remember, it’s a race between the virus replicating and infecting cells vs the speed and strength of the immune system. If adjustments need to be made to make sure your immune system wins, then you might need a vaccine booster to maintain high levels of circulating antibodies and T-cells. Or the vaccine may need to be changed to make sure that it produces the right viral proteins that your T-cells will attack.

So, this whole pandemic is like a giant experiment and parameters will need to be tweaked periodically to get the result we want. That’s why advice is changing.

I also didn’t mention that while we know a lot about coronaviruses, they are still new to our body of knowledge and even Anthony Fauci doesn’t know everything. As people like him fill out the details of what they know, the advise should get better. It’s just going to take time.

Meanwhile, the best way to make sure the pandemic ends is to do whatever possible to stop spreading it around. The virus is also non-partisan. It doesn’t GAF who you voted for in 2020. It is incapable of thought. And your immune system is not necessarily going to beat this thing. That depends on how healthy you already are and how much viral load you are going to get. If you have a pre-existing condition and the virus infects certain cells and tissues that are vulnerable, you’ll get sicker and the amount of time your immune system has to Mount an attack may not be adequate to keep you from dying. But vaccines can help speed up the reaction of the immune system to the virus. That’s why it drives the vaccinated crazy when the unvaccinated act like this is a political thing and the virus mutates while they have meltdowns over their ability to get on cruise ships and go to bars. Those people are friends of the virus even if the virus doesn’t care about them. Those people will help introduce the virus to other people. It will be like a giant networking event.

But if they choose to remain unvaccinated, then pretty soon, the only people who will get sick and die are the people who worshipped at the altar of the wrong party. It will be a weird variation of natural selection where the people who get taken out the most have not developed resistance to misinformation and tribalism.

I mean, it’s their choice. I just think they should know what they’re getting themselves into. Because the beast has been doing this infection, mutation, spread thing for millions of years and it doesn’t know anything about the Florida mask mandate prohibition. It doesn’t know anything. It just keeps making copies of itself until we make it stop.


One last thing, there is a possibility that some seriously ill patients will get access to the monoclonal antibody treatment that the big Orange got when his immune system proved to be inadequate all by itself.

The thing is, that possibility was announced about a week ago and people in states like Arkansas, Florida and Texas are still getting seriously ill or are dying. That tells me 2 things.

1.) There is a limited supply of monoclonal antibody treatment. Otherwise, everyone would be getting it.

2.) If choices need to be made as to who gets it, there will be some criteria or decision tree that the patient will need to meet before they get an infusion.

If you are sick in a specific way, or older than a certain age, you may not get the monoclonal antibody treatment. You’ll have to rely on other treatments that might only buy your immune system a little bit more time and that time will be dragged out with you sedated and breathing with the help of a ventilator.

Just sayin’.

Dissenting opinion: Accountability is not a bug. It’s a feature.

I get the frustration that William and others have expressed that we are holding Democrats to a different standard than Republicans.

This is not actually true.

The truth is that we actually HAVE standards.

As Democrats, we hold ourselves to some standards and require accountability.

No human is perfect. People in power make bad decisions or behave badly or break the law. To some, power is intoxicating and drives this behavior. Yes, it happens on both sides.

BUT accountability happens on only ONE side. That’s not a bug, it’s a feature. Every voter should ask themselves: does my party have checks on bad behavior? Do they follow up accusations with investigations? Are there consequences for breaking the law? If the answer is “no”, then you have to wonder why anyone would vote for that party. The voter in that case is guaranteeing that their politician is going to screw them over someday because there is nothing to stop them.

I don’t know enough about Andrew Cuomo. If I had one observation about NY politicians it is that they tend to do amazing things to address a crisis. They’re brilliant really. But as time goes on, they squander their reputations with stupid personal behavior or latent fascistic alliances. There must be something in the water. (Note to self: bring bottled water when visiting friends in NY)

But if the investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against Andrew Cuomo has been thorough and he broke the law and there are witnesses, he should resign. What really bothers me the most is the threat of retaliation. That’s Harvey Weinstein territory there and none of us should tolerate it. If that’s true, we can only imagine who else he has threatened for whatever reason. It’s corrupt, it’s untrustworthy, it promotes secrecy and transactions outside the public’s perception or knowledge and it’s unacceptable.

Is that really what we want to stand for? That we will protect someone who is doing things that we don’t know about and isn’t accountable for?

It’s a bit different with Al Franken. I really feel he was railroaded. As far as I know, he didn’t break any laws and he didn’t hide anything he did as a performer or practical joker. Censure should have been enough.
But in both cases, accountability was required.

It seems unfair because only one party is doing it. To me, it means we have more people of integrity and character and that’s not a bad thing. We should be able to hold that up to voters and say that nobody’s perfect but who can you trust more? The people who do anything and get away with it or the people who set limits and face consequences?

Now, if only Democrats could put that into a focus group sound bite that conveys information without causing their target audience to get MEGO (My Eyes Glaze Over) That is where Democrats actually suck.

Nuance iz hard.

A Song For Our Political and Social Era

In the politics game, there are many to blame

And sometimes up is down

You might win for a while and risk a smile

But you’re always preparing to frown

Over all the years, the laughter and tears

You keep on hearing this chant,

“If you’re a Republican, you can do it,

If you’re a Democrat, you can’t”

So Thomas and Kavanaugh are both on the Court

But Cuomo and Franken are not

They were both thrown out of their elected jobs

And didn’t get the hearings they sought

But Matt Gaetz is doing well, and will show and tell

Of his conquests and photographs

When the Democrats say that he has to pay,

The Republicans point and laugh

They harass and rape, but even caught on tape

They just say it’s a hoax and a lie

For you, allegations subsume explanations,

And your own side will take up the cry

“He must resign, should be charged with a crime,”

They’ll threaten and urge and chant

“If you’re a Republican you can do it,

If you’re a Democrat, you can’t”

Your side says, “Me too,” their side says, “It’s you!”

As they try to fix all the elections

You want to make sure that you always are pure

And can give all the moral directions

You stand for morality, they stand for venality

But no matter how you rant

If you’re a Republican, you get away with it

If you’re a Democrat, you can’t

At the end of time, all of them made their climb

To petition at heaven’s gate

The pure ones expected they’d now be elected

And they’d cringe at their enemies’ fate

But the gatekeeper spoke, “Here’s the jest and the joke,

You can sing and recite and chant,

But Republicans can all get in, and the Democrats simply can’t.”

“Whether it’s sex, or bouncing checks, there’s a double standard here

You can cry and moan, and destroy your own

But they won’t even spare you a tear

And all of your virtue will only just hurt you

As your enemies mock and sneer

And they’re your own rules, you misguided fools,

You’re the ones who invented this cant,”

“If you’re a Republican you can do it,

If you’re a Democrat, you can’t.”