Two Words on Wording (writing)

After thirteen months of hard work, more than a thousand hours of typing and re-typing, the manuscript for The Runner Stone left today for the editor. The manuscript was the 23rd rewrite. If you were an early “beta reader” you won’t recognize this version. But your help and feedback was the foundation upon which I could build this incredible story. While this may sound like the end of a long process, it is just the beginning.

Because there are so many writers and writer-wannabees and so few books, it is a very brutal course to take. I still think the odds are better for me if I wanted to start a boys band or join the circus. You have to have thick skin to be a writer with a learner’s heart. Editors can (and sometimes do) say the work, the 1,000+ hours of your life, is total crap. Or they can say “Well … with some major rewriting, like changing all the characters, change the plot, and reword 90% of it … we might make it work.” Sometimes they are kind. “Good work!” Then, with their expertise in wordsmithery, you have some hope for your work seeing the light of day.

Without the manuscript to cuddle, suddenly there’s a void in my life.

I’ve starting thinking about my next book. These two ideas will sound very autobiographical, but only loosely so. One is a book set on my street in Appalachia. The story would have to be some fictionalized tension to be interesting, such as dealing with one of the dark family secrets that people in Appalachia’s Bible-belt have (or the rest of the world for that matter), alcoholism, incest, rape, doubt, drugs, racism or an emotional abusive parent. Maybe a combination of those. But this is fiction–almost.

The other story, which would springboard from my own life, would be a story about man with cancer. He decides, as a way out of his nightmare, to commit suicide by trying (untrained and sickly) to climb K2 (second highest mountain on earth, and more difficult to climb than Everest). I haven’t decide which ending to take, that he succeeds in killing himself in the process (the most logical outcome) or that some how, almost like a miracle, he does it. The latter is a “Hallmark ending” but those stories don’t grab attention in the literary world. I thought of even making his cancer story a comedy.

The first book mentioned has my own coming of age in Application to draw from. The second has my experience with cancer to draw from, and I’ve been in the vicinity of K2 (in Pakistan) twice. So, I know that area of the world.

In closing, I want to mention a book I’m just finishing. It was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and extremally well-written. It is nonfiction, which I don’t read much any more. The title is Minor Feelings. The book, to my surprise, deals very candidly with racism. White on black racism. Asian on black, and white on Asian.

Yes, I do think racism and sexism can be over-stated. A feminist woman told me once (in the philosophical framework of linguistic deconstructionism ) that because I’m white man, then I’m automatically racist and sexist. She said she was not sexist or racist because she was of a minority class (meaning being a woman I think as she appeared to be white). However, with that said, I think is almost impossible to be raised in south, be white, and not be racist. This week, the Ahmaud Arbery hate crimes case illustrated this very well. Read the transcript. Some of my old childhood friends have stated, “If I caught a black man running through our neighborhood … hell yeah I would blow his head off. But I ain’t racist. There’s not a racist bone in my body.” We love to create the non-threatening narratives about the world, because within them, we don’t have to change. This is about writing not racism, but before I digress more, I will just say, if you are in touch with your racist views, this is a great book to read. If you “don’t have a racist bone in your body,” its an even a better book to read.

Pray for peace in the world.

Mike

House Keeping

I’ve been experimenting in ways I can make this web page easier and better for those who want to visit, and myself. As I’ve described before, this page is an Amalgam of three watersheds, 1) post-evangelical discussions, 2) my fiction writing, and 3) cancer.

I personally left evangelicalism in 1990 and landed in a wilderness of thought, which took me a decade of serious study to navigate. I dedicated my first blog (titled then, The Christian Monist) to that group of people who were trying to make sense of their evangelical experience and where to go to next. I had no intention of arguing with evangelicals or trying to persuade them to leave that subculture, but my heart was with those who had already left (or contemplating leaving) and met the same confusing wilderness as I had. We already live in a post-Christian society and the hemorrhaging of people out of different Christian cultures will only increase over time. My goal was to give a clearing within that wilderness, or an option for those who want to remain Christian, but perhaps, wanted to leave the interpretation of Christianity their previous subculture promoted. It was never meant to dissuade people from a particular church, etc., but how to think differently while maintaining a Christian identity.

The next phase was circ. 2018 was when I felt I had said all I needed to say to that original group, had published my book Butterflies in the Belfry in 2017 (which summarized much of what I had written in those blogs) and wanted to move on to fiction writing, as a personal hobby and aspiration (to be a writer). That’s when I moved my blog to this address (thus the name jmichaeljoneswriter.com).

This of course was derailed when I suddenly became quite sick and was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in Jan, 2019. Because I already had this blog up and running and did not have the strength to try and create a new one, my updates on my battle with cancer were posted here. I was very fortunate that I had about 250 new people join this blog, friends and family who just wanted to know about my health. For their interest, I am deeply humbled and appreciative.

But then I ran into a dilemma. As my health improved and was no longer being consumed by my battle, I began write again (very candidly) about those issues which pertain to those who have left evangelicalism. The problem became when some people came to my site to find out about my health and then found provocative (from their perspective) writings that was intended for the post-evangelical crowd. For them, they either had no interest in Christian things, or they were Christians and had no interest in leaving evangelicalism. Some in that latter group mistook my writings as me trying to persuade them to leave, or to argue with them on issues that is part of their culture’s dogma. I regret that misunderstanding. Maybe it was painful for them as it was certainly painful for me as a handful felt called to write or confront me, that I have no relationship with God, not a real Christian, and, in at least a couple of cases, that I’m bound for hell. They were angry and it was painful for me.

I’ve always seen my calling in life as to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable within the themes of seeking truth, justice, but trying to do it with kindness and humility. Since my life may be much shorter than I used to think, my desire to fight with anyone over religion or politics is zero. I have great admiration for people who think nothing like me. It’s not personal. Many of my old friends are evangelicals, while I see that movement as my nemesis, I still love and respect them. Same with family. My voice is for those who are looking for answers when their Christian world no longer makes sense, with the point, there’s a good reason it doesn’t make sense and here are some real answers.

As I look at all the views and blogs, podcasts and etc, I still feel that my voice is an important tiny slice among the broad bandwidth of that noise. I’m sure there must be others who are saying the same things as me, but until I hear them, I feel that I must continue to speak … just maybe not here.

To reduce the opportunity for conflict I’ve been experimenting with moving my controversial discussions to a podcast formation. I think I’ve worked out the technical bugs during this trial, although I’m still an amateur. I have no illusions of grandeur that my podcast would ever have a big following, but as long as one or two people are listening, I will keep doing them. So, rather than having my discussions in everyone’s face who comes here, where the printed form appears in an e-mail for some, it will be more like the old stores that kept their alcohol, cigarettes, and dirty magazines behind the counter, creating just enough barrier that we middle schoolers would never ask for them. Okay, maybe that example didn’t work so well.

I may write here about non-controversial topics, my observations of the mundane and the extraordinary including issues that relate to dealing with cancer. But mostly I will use this written space for updates on my health and writing (BTW, Housekeeping is also the name of a fantastic novel, but I digress). By the way, my new book is going off to the editor in about two weeks and I’m getting excited.

I will now try to confine my discussions of the more controversial topics in an audio podcast. Those will be listed on my podcast page, which is in the menu on the header board of this page. So that way they are “behind the counter.” I’ve considered what heading I could file these topics under including my old one, The Christian Monist. However, I’ve decided to put them under the heading of The Rational Christian. My first podcast will be an introduction to the idea of the “Rational Christian,” to set the foundation going forward.

As always, thanks for your support in coming and listening.

The latest podcast, Rational Christianity; An Introduction, is here.

Mike

The Hermit at Loch Eyre.

I Got COVID, and Why That’s a Good Thing, An Insight

Introduction

No, I’m not the kind of person who would go to a “COVID party” to intentional get COVID, because it is “natural” and will give me “natural immunities.” The problem with that notion is first, it is like playing Russian Roulette with a ten-chamber revolver. One chance in ten you will have long-haul consequences from COVID and .5-1% you will die from your experiment. Remember, about 99% of all human suffering and death is from things that are “natural.” The other thing, the vaccines seem to show better immunity than a natural infection and have about million times less risk ( for every one person who has died from a reaction to the vaccine, almost a million have died form the actual infection). As typical for me, this article is a little long, however, the caveat is that it has some lessons for all of us, and not just me telling a personal story.

Background

I was sitting in the Minneapolis airport in early 2020. It was my first trip to see my grandsons after my bone marrow transplant. I heard on the TV at the gate that a new novel coronavirus had been detected in Wuhan and it appears that several people in a nursing home in my state (Washington) had died from it. I knew then, despite our president on TV saying it was nothing to worry about (he had re-election worries), I knew it would have a huge impact on the entire world. Everyone with public health and virology credentials knew that. I also knew it would be especially troubling for me, personally.

Within a few weeks I got a letter from my doctor at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance warning me that I’m in the highest risk category from the virus since I had; 1) a bone marrow cancer, 2) I had gone through a stem cell transplant, 3) had renal failure, was 4) on chemo, and 5) was on high dose steroids. The only thing that was in my favor was being under 90 years old. I was instructed to go immediately back into isolation (had to do that for six months after the stem cell transplant).

At that juncture, the world knew very little about the virus, but data was starting to be collected. I signed up to be notified of new studies that pertain to my risk factors by the CDC and the Cancer Care Alliance. It was months before data starting coming in. One of the first studies (retrospective, meaning chart review) from Asia found that of the patients admitted to a hospital with COVID and with my exact diagnoses, 44% died in the hospital. Via conjecture, it was suggested that an even higher percentage, maybe even 100% would die within six months, but they didn’t know that for sure. This was with the original novel coronavirus (19).

Once the vaccines were out, and I read all the vaccine studies, while showing the vaccines were profoundly safe, they also were finding that as many as 80% of those with stem cell transplants had virtually no benefit from the vaccine. I got a letter from my doctor telling me that even though I had the first series of Moderna vaccines, to consider myself unvaccinated. Then came the finding that people like me who got one booster, had a better immune response, and two boosters, had a response almost as good as healthy people, but it was still unpredictable. However, to be safe, my doctor still warned me to take great precautions and live like I was unvaccinated and no indoor groups.

I did take great precautions. I ALWAYS mask in indoor groups (brief shopping trips). Mostly, I became a hermit and wrote books and blogs like this. People who come to my house had to test upon arrival, including my kids. Afterall, I had promised my family that I would do everything in my power to stay alive.

The vast majority of our friends were very sensitive to the battle I was in. It was not made any easier by the fact that Denise was working with COVID patients during the day and coming home to me at night. Then there were those insecure people, only a handful, who wanted to prove that they were a great patriot, or a good Christian, or who knows what, by coming up to me , mask-less and intentionally coughing in my face. I wear a mask to protect them, so my mask does not do much to protect me from them. The wife of one of those people died from COVID a few days after our encounter and for that I feel very sad.

Yes, I did worry and should have. I’ve watched people die on a ventilator and it isn’t pretty. I’ve seen them struggle hour after hour (sedated or not) as if they are fighting for oxygen. I have such a long and hard battle to stay alive in the past three years, I took no chances.

My son Ramsey had to miss Christmas due to testing positive on a home antigen test on the 24th, with no symptoms. He is vaccinated and boosted. Then, weeks later, he and his girlfriend came to celebrate Christmas and he retested at my house. It was a positive. In his frustration, because he felt fine, I tested. Guess what, my test was also positive. But it couldn’t be, could it? Denial because I felt perfectly fine (not considering my default bad feeling from my cancer). I had no COVID symptoms, none. So, Ramsey and I considered the test was in error. Rash judgment as Denise tested negative from the same batch.

Guess what, my test was also positive. But it couldn’t be, could it?

But then I read the studies of that particular test two weeks later. While false negatives are a problem, the false positive rate was only .4%. So for every 200+ positive tests, only one is wrong. Then I heard a group of researchers discussing that test and their conclusion was that if it is positive, you can bank on the fact that the COVID virus has colonized your upper airway. Then a light bulb went off. We were positive, had COVID but asymptomatic.

Discussion:

I wasn’t surprised that Ramsey was asymptomatic as a very high number of the young and healthy are. However, I was expecting to have serious disease if I had COVID. I am thrilled with the notion that I probably (99.5% chance) had COVID with no symptoms … zilch. The most rational explanation is that my 2 base doses of Moderna plus two boosters have made a huge difference in my body’s ability to fight the infection. I can’t say that with absolute certainty and I’m a great believer in intellectual candor. There is a possibility that I would have had no symptoms with the omicron variety even if I weren’t vaccinated, but I doubt it.

The other real silver lining to this development is that there is also evidence that the greatest immunity is being fully vaccinated, boosted AND having had the infection. But don’t let down your guard to get infected, especially if you are not vaccinated and boosted.

Conclusion:

Now that I’ve experienced COVID and not only lived but had no symptoms, plus I may have super immunity, will it change my behavior? I’m not sure … probably, but with caution. First of all, my conclusions are not 100% and if I get it wrong, a horrible death awaits me and I’ve fought so hard to get to this point. A lot at stake. Secondly, I’ve grown used to and rather enjoy the life of a hermit.

If you are not vaccinated, please get the jab. If you are vaccinated and haven’t had a booster, get the booster and reduce your risk of severe disease and death (over vaccination alone) by more than double.

I hope this story encourages you in this long battle. Let’s stop making it political. We will get through this, even if there are more to come. If you are not vaccinated, please get the jab. If you are vaccinated and haven’t had a booster, get the booster and reduce your risk of severe disease and death (over vaccination alone) by more than double. Vaccines don’t replace our immune system, they simply prepare it so it is ready to fight the infection when it comes. If the immune system starts from a dormant state, the infection can harm us before the immune system has time to gear up. “Immunity” simply means a prepared immune system.

Stay safe, live in peace.

Mike

Spring Gives Eternal Hope

“Hope springs eternal in the human breast,” said poet Alexander Pope in An Essay on Man (1732). I say, spring gives eternal hope.

I’ve lived in a place once where there was no spring. Where you measured the April snowfall by chin-depths, quickly melting into May’s mud and finally a short summer’s heat. We pretended summer was spring, but it quickly evaporated into autumn showing us it was just a delusion.

Humiliating Pet Portraits: Up to His Neck in White Stuff - The Laughing  Stork

In the Pacific Northwest, there’s just enough snow to make you a kid again, until you must drive in it. Then you become nervous old man, or woman. But then comes the season of cold, black rain. A rain so cold that Mark Twain would probably say it, “You need to heat it up over a fire to give it a chance at snow.” It is depressing.

Dark Rain Wallpapers - Top Free Dark Rain Backgrounds - WallpaperAccess

They say that “If you have your health … then you have everything.” Therefore, I have nothing. I’ve lost the aspiration of ever having a day when I feel well again while I’m still on this earth. There will never be a day again that I’m not running from the Reaper, each blood test a near miss. So much to be hopeless about. But then—.

Sunday morning was a day, after going to bed with the sound and feel of the cold, black rain, you wake up to the sound of birds in a near-cloudless sky. Where the yolk-yellow sun slides up and over our jagged peaks and slips across the teal sky, leaving a trail like a snail and skirting behind sheer-laced cirrostratus clouds. Those clouds, only here or there, and dry, only for show.

Is this spring? No, only a prelude.

We had to go to the store, so why not go to store on the island south of us? For getting there requires driving through sharp curves and steep hill cathedral-ed by old growth firs and cedars, across two stunning, two-hundred-foot bridges over salt water, some of the most incredible bridges in the world. Then more ten miles where you are encircled on all points of the compass by zagged mountains carrying heavy winters snows on their strutting chests like the pied (white-chested) crow.

Pied Crow bird photo call and song/ Corvus albus

We so journeyed in a little convertible, my five-grand gift to myself when I was told I was dying will never travel again and will be hooked to machine four days a week until that death. It was a postage-size place of hopeless sanity, a way to get to the machines. But yesterday, on a much better day, it transported us under that yolk-yellow sun, through those catherdral-ed trees, and over the glorious iron-arched bridges into bliss.

There is nothing like living on a mountain lake in the spring. The otters are out, the eagles are as common as crows, the ducks parading in rows, and our mountain breathes in foggy breaths. Spring brings us hope. If such living makes you jealous—and it should—I will still trade it with you if the cancer stays.

I see the world in philosophical glasses, for me it is a must. It makes sense of everything, where we’ve been, what we really think, and where we are going. I tried it the other way and it did not work. In this new (30-year-old) framework, I’ve found an intimate personal-creator-God that makes sense of meaning and morals. For without, there can be neither.

I’ve grown to despise the air-brushed religion I once was. For its purpose was a self-centered, group conformity with the purpose to make me appear better than I really was. A pretense. If not that, it was an equally self-centered seeking of emotional experiences that I/we baptized under “spiritual” labels. Because it is so self-absorbed and has no selfless end, I now call that “spiritual masturbation.” I do love emotions, profoundly, for what they really are, God-given to make use human, but not within them is encased the divine. If so, magic mushrooms are the true route to “godliness.”

I despise politics, for it is much like religion about pretense and power. They cloud the world with cliches and emotional reasoning rather than truth. Emotional reason always leads to tribalism and hate. Religious hate is the worse hate in the world. We could be living in a world without hate. Without hunger. Without war. Without injustice and without making nature so sick, that it must drive to the machine to stay alive. John Lennon was right on that regard. It is all within reach. Such a world is God’s aspiration and intention.

Then I think of the hope that spring brings me.  I spent Saturday with 3/5ths of my adult children in Seattle and yesterday the other two. My children, like spring, bring me hope. They are each doing well, and that has nothing to do with money. They are a legacy that tells me my life wasn’t a complete waste. It answers Private Ryan’s last question, “Was my life really worth it?”

My children see the world as it really is, not the way their religion, clan, or politics tell them to see it, to meet the “I am better than the rest” status, or some funky emotional experience, or my tribe is “in power” endgame. I hear them searching for meaning and morals within that world and they will eventually discover, like I did, that there are neither without an intended creation by a moral and meaningful God. But I hope they never discover experiences, religion, or politics as subsites for morals and meaning with the false thinking hope lies within it, for such thinking always disappoints in the end.

But I ended the day, the yolk-yellow sun slipping beyond the western spiky and snow-clad peaks. His visit wasn’t spring, but a respite, him coming out of his dark cave to stretch, to take in a deep breath, and to smile and a reminder that there is hope and real spring is coming.

Mike

Ramblings: A Word on Writing

In 2019 I had just devoted this blog to writing after a 18 year history as a forum for post-evangelicals. That “writing” blog didn’t get very far before I became quite ill from Multiple Myeloma and then converted the site (in part) to updates about my battle with cancer, causing that topic to overwhelm the rest. With all of that said, know that there are sill a few people who, like me, are aspirating writers who visit. This posting is for those individuals.

The Problem of Writing Rules

I’ve never been a big rule follower. I colored outside the lines as a kid and sill do. I don’t follow societal rules and are thus read by them sometimes as “odd.” I workd hard at not following stereotypes for anything. I’ve always said that rules are the tool that we use when we lack imagination.

In writing, as I’ve mentioned before, the “rule-makers’ are king, and king-makers. I knew this all along but ran into it head on when I presented the book I’m working on to a paid editor/coach in the genre “thriller.” She knows the industry and made it clear that it would be impossible for me to present my new novel to agents as a thriller, not to mention major publishers, because I did not follow the thriller rules.

Now, when I’m talking about rules, I’m not talking about the basic rules of grammar, which I’ve been known to violate. No, good grammar, when to use commas, semi-colons, or the em-dash, are rules that we must obey (unfortunately) to have a chance. But the new rules are really formulas devised by some un-imaginative people somewhere, that determines if the book would be financially successful. They look at the big money makers, like James Patterson’s series (which I personally find his writing horrible, but appeals to the American taste of action without intelligence, novels now following the plots of Bruce Willis movies) and create rules such as, each chapter must end with a hook, only third person point of view, how man adjectives you can use, how many exclamation points you can use, one hero must die, and the list goes on and on. If you were to violate any of these rules, it is hard to get anyone to look at it. By the way, I attended a workshop taught by James Patterson and it was all about sticking to the formula.

My solution was to re-write my novel for the 20th-something time, forgoing any ambitions of marketing it as a thriller but now as a “Mainstream Literary-Suspense” which allows more creativity and allows you to use your brain and not just sewing a bunch of cliches together with conjunctions. Right now I’m re-writing it once again because I had gone over the “allowable word count” unwritten rule among publishers. The manuscript was ready but the word count was nearing 150K. Agents say that they will not promote a book with more than 130K words. To give you a refence of extremes, War and Peace has about 575k words.

As I’ve shared before, I am saddened by how our short, internet-based, attention spans are redefining writing. Some in the field say that in the near future computers will write our books. I want to cry here.

With that very long introduction, I wanted to share an interview (below) that I heard on NPR this morning.  Lan Samantha Chang’s new book, The Family Cho, is hitting the markets. I’ve read some of her previous works and they are quite good. She is not an aspiring writing anymore than Stephen Curry is an aspiring basket ball player. Besides being a professor of creative writing, she leads the very prestigious “Iowa Writer’s Workshop.”

If you listen to her interview, you will see her also pushing back on the technocratic trend in writing of making it about the rules.

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1078478658/1078478661

Podcast-How Did We Get Here? A Brief History of Western Civilization–The Philosophical Perspective

America is on the cusp of a new, smaller (I hope) dark ages. The search of classical, universal truth has been replaced by baseless-tribal beliefs. This podcast takes a very quick “drive-by” look of how the West has searched for truth over the past 3,000 years. Listen here.

COVID Omicron Footnote-Bottomline

I said I was done with this. Two things happened. We got a notice that a friend of Denise’s died this weekend from COVID. Sad. Secondly, there were statistics, which I had not found, that I have in hand. Statistics don’t lie, but people do lie about statistics. Among people who really know the most about COVID and the vaccines are certain that COVID is still far more deadly than it should be and that vaccines are profoundly safe. Vaccines are literally about a million times safer than getting COVID and this is still true after 2 billion doses world-wide. History will not be kind to those who spread false information that the vaccines are dangerous, that other treatments work better (or anywhere close), that COVID is not real or serious, or worse, that there is some grand conspiracy by the scientists to make you sick to make money, make Christians sterile, may you gay, or some other bizarre agenda. I am encouraged that Joe Rogan said this morning he is repenting from lying about COVID on his show. I hope that is true. I’m embarrassed that my old culture, the evangelicals, are among the worst for believing and promoting these lies, lies that kill. They are due for a grand repentance as well. So here’s the bottom line as of the end of December. GET VACCINATED! IF VACCINATED, GET BOOSTED!

Status per 100,000 in America December 20211UnvaccinatedVaccinated but UnboostedVaccinated and boosted
COVID Omicron Infection Rate725.6354.8148.6
COVID Death Rate7.8.6.1
1 https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/71/wr/mm7104e2.htm

Stay safe. I do care about you. I will not allow false information to come in under the comments. Mike

My Response to the Collins-Fauci e-mail Controversy.

Edward, I’m going raise my response to one of last comments here as I’m afraid it will get lost in the comment section.

So, you raise the question of the emails between Fauci and Francis Collins in 2020 when they discussed “shutting down” the published statement paper known as the “Great Barrington Declaration.”

I will be honest and say that I did not give this the amount of study it deserves as I don’t have the time today. So, what I will write will be my surface impressions after about 30 minutes of reading.

Yes, you are correct, the e-mails are real. I will also concede, with a casual reading, that I’m a bit disappointed in Fauci and Collins’ personal conversation about this. The issue at the time (2020) was worthy of a fair debate. I don’t know who the signers are of the Barrington Declaration, but their credentials do appear worthy.

With that said, I think two things. On behalf of the signers, I think they are correct to state that Fauci and Collins mis-characterized their position as just “letting the virus rip.”

On the side of Fauci and Collins, I think history has proven they were probably mostly correct. It would have been very difficult for our societies to have achieve a natural herd immunity with such a rapidly evolving virus. I know several, including my daughter-in-law, who are in their second natural infection. Millions would have died with no mitigation such as social distancing and masking.

Then it gets into the political discussion of “Shutting Down the Economy” which is mischaracterization itself. Mask wearing and social distancing along with vaccinations does nothing to the economy. But I digress.

So, while I’m disappointed in the e-mails (without knowing the full context) I will state that when I researched this topic, the web was full of the vaccine deniers spouting that this e-mail exchange was the “smoking gun” that there is a grand conspiracy to market a dangerous vaccine that is ineffective just so “Big Pharma” including Fauci and Collins can make money by killing you and your family. That is a bold-faced lie. But there is a wholesale effort going on by the vaccine liars on the far right (Fox News/ Joe Rogan) and on the far left (Robert Kennedy, Jr.) to make themselves feel important, and rich. When someone uses false data, they are evil and up to no good. When someone compares mask wearing to the holocaust they have some emotional motive that is far beyond telling the truth. By the way, you may know that Robert Kennedy Jr. and his wife required everyone that attended their home Christmas party last year to be COVID vaccinated. Factual. But I digress again.

While disappointed in they way they handled this, based on their life’s work, I have complete confidence that Collins and Fauci were acting on what they thought would cause the least suffering of our people. I will repost your link to Collins defending himself. and people can take it for what’s its worth.

Fauci and Collins, while fallible, are not the devil. The devil are those who intentionally lie for profit, at the expense of our health. You can add the Purdue Pharm (Sackler family) to that list.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

Mike

Ramblings: COVID Revisited

Here are some things to think about over the coming months. The computer models that have predicted the COVID patterns very well, show us some ominous predictions for the coming three months. But it doesn’t have to be. First, it is very true that the omicron variant is slightly less powerful than the delta version, it is far more contagious. It is not the common cold. So, while a lower percentage of people will die from the infection, because so many more will be infection, the death rate will be higher than delta.

So, in the next three months in American, approximately 63,000 dear souls will suffer horrible deaths. Some of them small children. Some teenagers. Some in their twenties through fifties and many older. However, I will compare how our behavior could alter that outcome.

If we followed narrative 1 (see below, follow the science) the following is how we can change the future:

  1. If we all wore good masks, fitted well (covering the nose), at the appropriate times (indoors with people we don’t live with), the number of deaths could be reduced by half. It could be reduced even more, even near 100%, if wore good masks perfectly like our medical providers do who work in COVID wards every day, in very close proximity to actively infected patients and have never picked up the infection.
  2. If everyone was fully vaccinated, meaning complete vaccine initial doses and at least one booster, we could reduce the number of deaths to about 3,000 rather 63,000 people. This is why we still promote vaccines, because they are by far the safest and most effective way to fight this pandemic.
  3. If (only one) monoclonal antibody, sotrovimab is used early, it could reduce deaths to about 3-10,000. However, it is in very short supply.
  4. The new antiviral pills show much promise, but are in short supply and the actually reduction in deaths is not clear yet but possible could reduce deaths to 25,000.

If we followed narrative 2 (see below, conspiracy theories) this is how our near future would change:

  1. If we took all the vitamins and “natural treatments” that have been claimed to prevent COVID, the number of deaths in three months might drop to 60,000. There is a little evidence that people with low Vit D, especially dark-skinned people, might do a little better if they took Vitamin D supplements. Do it, it won’t hurt unless you overdose.
  2. If we used the treatments promoted by narrative 2 to treat the COVID infections, hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, the death rate in three months would still be 63,000 because the research is clear, so far, that these drugs have no benefit.

Discussion: I have made several posts in the past on COVID and finally gave it a rest. But as we are all getting tired of this pandemic, and the computer models show that it could last several more years in various forms (we hope for the lessor) I thought it was time I spoke up again. The treatments will continue to get better.

After having countless discussions about COVID with COVID conspiracy theorists, I hung up my gloves (a boxing term). While some of my friends who have been fighting this same battle, gave up with the notion that if people want to believe lies, and they die from those lies, then so be it. That is not my position. I do know people who believed the conspiracy theories and have died. I don’t want people dying, especially from a pandemic of lies. It breaks my heart to see suffering when it can be so easily prevented.

First, I must be clear. In the realm of science, there is no debate about the safety and effectiveness (efficacy) of the vaccines. They are promoted most because they are far, far, far, more effective and safe than the other choices.

It is beyond the scope of this rambling to discuss why the lies persist. I have observed that virtually every evangelical I know has chosen to believe the Narrative 2, as well as most people who are conservative, politically. Someone smarter than me will figure out the social reasons for this. But COVID is not a political entity. Scientists who work are this are not blue or red scientists, Christian or atheists. They have a sincere desire to know the truth and to reduce suffering. Why the conspiracy theorists do their evil work is anyone’s guess. But I will borrow a statement I saw on a sign at the recent “Anti-COVID-vaccine” rally in Washington D.C., “Follow The Money.” So, let’s do that.

Follow The Money

Donald Trump = Net Worth, 1 Billion (self-proclaimed), started promoting COVID conspiracy theories when he, rightly, was concerned that the COVID pandemic could threaten his re-election. College drop out. No training in science of any kind.

Joe Rogan = Net worth, 100 Million Dollars, much from promoting COVID conspiracy theories. High school only. No training in virology or vaccines.

Robert Kennedy Jr = Net worth, 50 million dollars, most from promoting anti-vaccine and COVID conspiracy theories (Full time profession for years). Law degree, no medical training. No training in virology or vaccines.

Tucker Carlson = Net worth, 30 million, salary from “Fox News,” 8 million dollars/year. No training in virology or vaccines.

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Antony Fauci – net worth, 10 Million Dollars, $868,000 / year salary and benefits none tied to promoting vaccines. Fifty years in viral and epidemiology research.

Greater than 90% of the world’s medical providers, researchers believe that vaccines at the safest and most effective tool in fighting COVID, virtually none of them have a financial interest in promoting vaccines. Of the epidemiologists and virologists, those who know the most about viruses and vaccines, more than 99% believe, based on the research, that vaccines are the safest and most effective tool to fight COVID. Very few of them work in an industry where they are rewarded financially for promoting vaccines. Does it really make sense that all these smart and devoted people have been brain washed or that they are intentionally harming you and your family in order to make money?

When you do not know a lot about topic, and you are competing against those who do, your biggest weapon is make up false conspiracy theories, where you promote a narrative that the other side, those who know the most, are corrupt and are hiding information that would endanger your lives just so they could make money. Therefore, your baseless information has a fair chance of winning the hearts of people.

Narrative 1: (Follow what science is showing us)

A COVID-19 viral infection, while is mild for many, it is deadly for some and has long-haul symptoms for many. It has nothing to do with politics or religion. It is worst than the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. The only reason it is not as bad as the Black Death (plague) is that our medical treatments are so much more advanced today than in the Middle Ages. If there was no treatments, millions in America would be dead, not just one million, from COVID.

COVID vaccines are extremally effective and the most effective way of preventing serious illness. Because so many people have refused to get the vaccine, and in many parts of the world they don’t have access, there is still a heavy load of virus in circulation. Because of this, the virus is constantly mutating, requiring a stronger dose or booster of the vaccine. Almost two billons doses have been given world wide and very close data is collected about outcomes. It does not cause infertility. Bad side effects are extremely uncommon. Death from COVID very common.

Anti viral medications and other treatments have great hope in reducing deaths, but are in short supply. Prevention is always easier than treatment.

Narrative 2: (Made up conspiracy theories, completely baseless)

COVID is overstated by the liberals. It is no worse than the common cold.

The vaccines are dangerous and the injury and deaths from them are being hidden. (Robert Kennedy Jr. Uses profoundly distorted data in his propaganda)

Hospitals are being paid to falsify deaths from COVID (a profoundly ridiculous statement, makes good movies and books but detached from reality).

It is better to get the virus, which is natural, than a vaccine which is not. (Cancer is “natural” I will tell you first hand that it sucks! Those who say a vaccine is a drug and is not natural has no clue what they are talking about. Nothing is more natural than a vaccine which simply prepares our natural immune system to work most effectively against the virus.)

The reason that hospitals are struggling right now is because they have fired so many people for not getting a COVID vaccine. Insanely ridiculous. Most hospitals have had to let go 2-5% of their staff due to vaccine non-compliance. The increase caused by dying COVID conspiracy believers, has taken 50-90% of hospital beds.

Footnote: I have read volumes of data from both sides of this story (no debate). If you have some “data’ that disputes anything I’ve said, and from a reliable source than from some loud-mouth high school drop out, I would be happy to read that. Send it to me under comments. But do know the spirt I write here is my concern for you and for the people of the world. COVID has touched my friends and family and I want nothing more than your good health, not just to win an arguement.

Gloves Digital Art - Boxing Gloves Hanging In Change Room by Allan Swart
Hanging them Up Once Again
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