Friday, March 31, 2023

Where We're At: It's Still Here!

Several people have been screaming into the void about how Covid works, how bad it is, and what we need to do to stop it now that we're dealing with another dominating variant: We're on to Arcturus now (XBB.1.16), guardian of the bear. I've collected three threads here explaining the current situation and desperately trying to correct ongoing misinformation.

Tl;dr version: Covid is a vascular disease that stays in the bloodstream potentially coming back to cause more harm later - we don't know longterm how it will affect people. (Chicken pox becomes shingles decades later.) It's getting worse and will continue to get worse the longer we ignore it and allow it to spread and mutate into more evasive variants that no longer respond to our current meds, and it can cause dangerous brain effects that go unnoticed. We need to wear masks until we have really clean air in every public building evidenced with CO2 monitors on display showing 700ppm or less. (Actually we need to wear masks until we have eradicated the virus, but that might never happen, so it's nice to have an endpoint to rally behind.) 

Here's @1goodtern explaining the big problem with the reality that this virus causes brain damage:
So one of my friends/colleagues tests before they go to see their elderly mother, which was the only reason they found out they had a new covid infection. They stayed at home and said they have actually felt great for the first ten days of their infection, except every single one of their messages has multiple typos and disjointed sentences, when they're normally very precise. And the messages themselves are full of inaccuracies and contradictions and misrememberings.

Hey ho. At least they feel great.

Just imagine if that was your pilot or surgeon, or a truck driver, radiologist, gas engineer, politician, cardiologist, air traffic controller, judge, paramedic, sewage handler, biochemist, nuclear plant engineer, rail engineer, pharmacist, armed response unit... 

Feeling great and not realising they aren't great is not a good scenario for restricting spread of the disease. 

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Step By Step: Engulfed by a Lack of Sensitivity

Marian Turski, Auschwitz survivor and Polish historian, made a ten minute speech in December 2021 that has become a more and more timely reminder to pay attention to how we think about harm to one another.

He explains the slow and slippery way a government can get us to accept evil in society. Here it is in full, and it just takes four minutes to read, but I've bolded some important bits:

Let's use our imagination and our thoughts to get to the early 1930s, to Berlin. We find ourselves in the Bavarian district. It's just three stops away from the tier garden, the zoo. There is a station of the metro there; there is park. And one day in those early 1930s, you can read an inscription on the benches: Jews must not sit on these benches. You could say it's unpleasant; it's not fair; it's not right, but after all there are so many benches around you can sit somewhere else. Of course you can. 

That district was inhabited by intellectuals, by the intelligentsia German of Jewish origin. Albert Einstein used to live there, Nelly Sachs the Nobel Prize winner, the politician and industrialist who was minister of foreign affairs. There was a swimming pool and over its door an inscription that read: Jews are forbidden to enter. You could say but there are so many places in Berlin where you can take a bath or swim, so many lakes, canals. It's nearly like Venice. At the same time, you can read somewhere else: Jews must not belong to German singing associations. So what. All right, they want to sing. They want to make music; let them just meet somewhere else. They will do their singing. all right.

What comes up later is an order, really, more of an order than of an inscription: Non-Aryan children must not play with Aryan children, with the German children. All right they'll play on their own. And then you read, we only sell bread and food to Jews after 5 p.m. Right. Less choice: this makes your life harder, but after all after 5 p.m you can still do your shopping. Now I warn you, I warn you, I'm getting used to that thought that someone may be excluded becomes mediated into our lives, the thought that somebody can be stigmatized, that someone may be alienated.

And that's how it is done: step by step, slowly. 

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Being Athletic as a Pre-existing Condition of Long Covid

Novelist Alisa Lynn Valdés connected the dots between her personal observation that athletes are getting Long Covid (LC) more often than sedentary people and capillarization. The number of small blood vessels a person has in their muscles (capillaries) can triple in elite athletes. I think she's on to something:

Long Covid is a disease of the capillaries. Most people I know with LC were athletes, like me. I was a fitness trainer, runner, dance teacher for decades. Turns out athletes have 200% more capillarization than sedentary folks. Maybe the truth is, LC is more common in fit people. People at higher altitudes also have greater capillary density. And...whaddaya know? People at higher altitudes are far more likely to develop Long Covid.

It's the capillaries. 

Long Covid is vasculitis. Infectious, inhaled, airborne vasculitis. In horses, coronavirus is literally called Equine Infectious Vasculitis. 

How many of us have hands that look like this now?

That's vasculitis

Long Covid also seems to be linked to an overly enthusiastic immune response rather than a weak one. People in medicine and science need to take a moment to recalibrate their minds to be open to new possibilities, with humility. 

After the truth began leaking out in 2021, the media quickly stopped covering it. This is a major problem in pro sports. 

The take home message here is not to sit on the couch more! It's to do all you can to prevent getting Covid and inadvertently giving it to someone elderly, immunocompromised, or in great shape! This virus is taking out our peak performers and destroying the brains of some of our brightest minds. 

Please wear a mask whenever you're inside a public building until we can clean the air and have CO2 monitors attached to the walls that consistently show under 700ppm.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

International Long Covid Awareness Day

Now we have a delegated day, today, to remind the world of the number of people who have lost their lives or livelihoods to this ever-mutating virus. Worldwide, about 1 in 1,000 have died so far, and almost 1 in 100 are living with long Covid

That's not 1% of the people who got Covid, or 1% of people who got long Covid, but 1% of all people in the world, or 65 million people. There is NO cure, so we have to focus on preventing cases of Covid.

Last month, a Wall Street reporter warned, that for months Federal Reserve officers insisted that the dwindling supply of workers from Covid was elevating inflation levels, then they suddenly decided to stop tracking it. She reported,
"It's premature to say that Covid is no longer an economic issue when long Covid has such a significant effect on America's workforce, economists and health care officials say. . . . The bottom line is that long Covid is why the labor force participation rate has not recovered to pre-pandemic levels"

Monday, March 6, 2023

Where is My Mind? On Freud and Neuropsychology

Freud got some things right, and this isn't a post to slam him. But he understood the whole concept of the unconscious mind upside-down. It's a lot like Aristotle's science, with the cause and effect going in the wrong direction. It's still pretty impressive how far they got as they laid the foundations for entirely new fields of study. I assimilated most of what's below from neuropsychologist Mark Solms's 2019 Wallerstein Lecture. It's fascinating, but over three hours long, and he talks really fast! I'm just a novice in this field of affective neuroscience, and I don't know enough to be sure his confidence in this theory is warranted, but it's a really interesting way to understand ourselves.  

Here's the gist of it.  

Freud figured that the conscious part of our mind, the part that's aware of our world and ourselves, was something that could be located in the brain, but he placed it in the cerebral cortex, the outermost area that does all the thinking. That makes sense because it's how we connect to the outside world. However, according to Solms, the conscious part is actually way in the innermost region of our brain at the upper part of the brain stem. This has been backed up with studies on people with encephalitis that have found that it's not essential to have a cortex in order to have emotional responses and an awareness of the world and self. When neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp had his students guess which rats didn't have a cortex, they guessed incorrectly because the rats missing this intellectual part of their brain were friendlier, more lively and interactive; they didn't have a cerebral cortex inhibiting their movement toward total strangers much like happens with the subdued inhibitions of friendly drunkenness.  

Sunday, March 5, 2023

In the News...

A couple unnerving things happened recently that I'm just catching up with. First, the CDC quietly added an update for guidance around certifying death from Covid last February. The controversial bit is here:

And then the NACI announced that bivalents are waning in effectiveness, and people really need two doses, BUT the only people allowed a second one are the immunocompromised and over 65. The funny thing is that it doesn't appear to be because there aren't enough to go around, since so few people are getting the shots at all anymore. For those who actually want more protection, you might not be allowed to get it. Once the bulk of us are over five months from a vaccine, we're all basically back to pre-vaccine times. 

For the love of all that is good in this world, please wear a mask when you're in a public place!!

In other news, Ford raised $6 million in the biggest political fundraiser in Canadian history that was also one of the first to be completely closed to the media, so that's not sus at all. And the Antarctic sea ice is at the lowest levels ever recorded! 


It's not just that we're facing enormous problems that's frustrating, but that we have the solutions, so many books and conferences and accords on how to prevent climate change and the Delphi Consensus telling us exactly what to do to prevent the spread of Covid, but we're just not going to do those things. 

It's a funny world. 

And I'm just doing the math trying to decide if I should take CPP at 60 or 65. For me the pivot point, when you get more money for waiting, is at age 72. So the big question is, what are the odds I can survive the next 15 years?? 

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Understanding Long Covid

A couple days ago, Martin Kulldorff, a Swedish biostatistician, was at a White House roundtable discussing Covid when he said, 

"We knew about [infection-acquired immunity] since 430 BC, since the Athenian plague until 2020. Then we didn't know about it for three years, and now we know again."

Many classicists online jumped all over that for two reasons: The first, that the Athenian plague virus was one and done, closer to Ebola than a Coronavirus. People didn't seem to get it twice, so getting it once was protective IFF you survived that one case. 

The second issue is that 25% of people died from it within three years, including Pericles, their leader.

(For context, Socrates was about 40 at the time, and Plato was born just after it had run its course. At the end of this post, I included Thucydide's record of the time for a terrifying comparison to our current situation.) 

On the same day as the roundtable, an episode of The Agenda discussed how we should understand Long Covid in order to best address this healthcare crisis, and nobody advised getting it in order to avoid getting it. Guests included Dr. Fahad Razak, the former scientific director of Ontario's Covid-19 Science Advisory Table, Internist at St. Michael's Hospital, and Associate Professor at the University of Toronto, Dr. Raywat Deonandan, Epidemiologist and Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Ottawa, and Dr. Jennifer Frontera, Professor of Neurology at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, and of the World Health Organization brain health neurology and Covid-19 forum. They were all more or less on the same page, so this brief summary of the video doesn't clarify who said what: