Thursday, December 3, 2020

I’m Counting on You Guys

 Are people reading such things as this?

 “Science and the War on Truth and the Corona Virus.”

I am a scientist and this is my brief on what the world needs to know about science and COVID-19. Science is a method of truth-telling about the physical world and ways to improve quality of life. It is the most powerful enterprise that has led to improved healthcare, a more sustainable environment, a safer world, and a better “knowing and understanding” about the world we live in. Science is fun and spectacular. And it has rarely let us down, until now.

This is a superb article by Geoffrey P. Dobson*

·         Heart, Trauma and Sepsis Research Laboratory, College of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD, Australia

This scientist went for it.

 From Dobson’s article:

“Unlike bacteria that can thrive almost anywhere, a virus needs a living animal's cellular machinery for its replication and survival.

“Understanding how a virus has evolved the “tricks” to enter the body “undetected” is not fully understood.

For example: If the COVID19 virus enters our bodies, why do some people die horrific deaths, while others have flu-like symptoms, and 20-50% become asymptomatic carriers? And why do some children, a few weeks after contracting COVID19, suffer a hyper-inflammatory attack and succumb to cardiovascular complications and toxic shock?

These are hard questions for science to answer.

Science begins with a question and often ends up with more questions.


You can understand why high-school and college students aren’t drawn to be biological research scientists when it is under-valued, underpaid, and frustrating. So, they go into high tech instead, and make better computers—heavens, a computer doesn’t keep mutating on you. (Maybe smart computers do. Yipes.)

Hail to the hardy souls who attempt to wade into the muddy waters of biological research.

Many scientists, universities and research institutions are in “survival mode” because of cut-backs.

Hopefully, the current pandemic will drive home to politicians and lawmakers the societal role of a university, and that the current funding schemes are not working.

My husband lost his job because he was the end guy who adjusted extremely sophisticated and customized microscopes for PhD candidates doing research in Universities. They weren’t ordering because the University was either closed or simply didn’t have the money.

This nature of science with its questions and more questions is often used to attack the process in the media, which sends mixed messages to the public and politicians.”

Keep the people stirred-up, off kilter, and unable to make sense of the information presented and you have controllable people. I was shocked last night while watching the movie Mark Felt who was “Deep Throat,” second in command in the FBI, and investigator regarding the Nixon-Watergate break-in, that he said virtually the same thing.

Think of it, we are all presented with information, and as the aborigines of old who looked at the world and came up with different models regarding how it worked, we come to different conclusions.

Once the people of Mesopotamia looked at reeds growing in the water. They thought that once a reed was woven into a hat, it had certain magical powers. If it was used as a pen it had other powers.

Weren’t we surprised that when people reduced their driving and the air cleared? And it appeared that last spring sang abundantly with plant growth, and wildlife.  The people in India can now see the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas for the first time in decades.

Now we look at the world, too, and form opinions. Of course, we tend to look at data that supports our established view, and thus that view becomes driven into our psyche. It becomes so strong that sometimes we want to beat the other guy over the head with our view, and disrespect his.

I don’t know why this is so. We need Socretes to guide us. Oh yes, they poisoned him for polluting the minds of the young.  Whoops.

How we come to such different opinions is a mystery. Is it nature or nurture? I know we have left-brained people and right-brained people. We have people who think the world has done them wrong and people who believe the world has done them right. There are those who think a mistake is unforgivable, and those who think mistakes or failures are a part of the process.

I remember when I was a young mother hearing that when babies cry and get their needs met, they are taught that the world is a friendly place. When a baby is left to cry, they get the message that the world is a dangerous place, and they can ask and ask, and nobody cares.

Dobson asked Nobel Laureate Sir John Cornforth in 1993 wrote: “I think it is possible that our posterity 2000 years on might say something like this:

“These people had the first opportunity to secure the earth’s future and they squandered it. That might have been expected. They were imprisoned by the past and did not live long enough to break free.”

Let’s proved Cornforth wrong!

We have to believe in humanity.

I’m counting on you guys.

 “When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.”
--Ralph Waldo Emerson


“Now that your eyes are open, make the sun jealous with your burning passion to start the day. Make the sun jealous or stay in bed.”
--Malak El Halabi


Friday, November 27, 2020

Look Out the Window

There’s a big wide wonderful world out there. It may not seem so at the moment, but when we crawl out of our caves it will be there waiting for us.

Since my daughter is a caregiver in an assistant-living facility, I see how small some people’s lives can become. They are sequestered away with the television as their keeper. They once had a life, family, children, good heavens, the lady she is caring for (I’ll call her Marie) escaped Germany as a child aboard the Kinder Transport. (Somehow, the Nazi’s let some of the children escape while keeping their parents.) Unlike Dr. Ruth (the sex therapist), who also escaped aboard the Kinder Transport, and whose parents were killed, Marie’s parents escaped Germany later on.

Marie went on to become an expert mathematician, even becoming a co-maker of a theorem. 

Now her life is the news, and body count. She thinks news will be fresh at the top of the hour. The trouble is, it’s the same news as the bottom of the hour. It is driving my daughter nuts.

I have heard that if we don’t work on ourselves, we become worse. they used to call it, “Set in your ways.” Without input, people can become depressed or melancholy. (There’s a pill for that.) Remember the old song Old Man River, “We’re tired of livin’, but fear’d of dyin’?”

Don’t do that. 

We’ll get through this current pandemic. We haven’t had to escape the Nazi’s or be shipped away from our parents. We just need to take care of ourselves and our families. This is a time to re-think our lives and priorities, and if you’re like me, give some thought to how it all works—you know, not what our parents told us, or our schools, but what we really think, down deep.

Who are we as people? 

I’ve heard that one way to seduce a nation is to make it so nobody can come to a sensible conclusion. Well, we’re sort-of there. We can have beliefs and ideas about what is happening. We can listen to one side or the other, but it appears we can’t really know what’s going on. So, we do what we are told. We cover our faces and stay away from people and close our businesses, or we get laid off and wonder what is the world is happening.

Once upon a time, I came up with the idea that it depends upon which window we’re looking through. Out one window, you see the birds chirping, the sun shining, and flowers in full bloom. Look out the window that opens to the back yard, and you see that clouds have obscured the sun, and people are fighting.

What is real?

I guess it all is.

Choose your window.

My daughter and I have found a fantastic way to have adventures without going anywhere, and to write a book in the process. We are two archeologists, young women in 1920, on the hunt for the mystery of three gold coins. These three coins together are a map to a treasure. The trouble is, finding the coins. We become separated from each other, and thus we are communicating through letters. She sent me to Peru, where I found, upon landing in Lima, that it was a booming metropolis, with shops, restaurants, theater, museums, and fine hotels. In the 1920’s it was frequented by the likes of Greta Garbo and Ernest Hemingway, and people rich enough to be gold coin collectors.

(Good old Google research.) One thing about a dictator, he can get things done, and President Augusto Leguia decided to transform Lima into a cosmopolitan city, not unlike some found in Europe. The streets crisscrossed using Parisian design, and many of the buildings copied ones you might find in Paris.

 I found I could use a telephone, and they did have limited air travel in 1920. Generally, however, people traveling long distances did so on ships. Lima today isn’t that of the ’20s and ’30s, for earthquakes, war, and politics have interfered.

When daughter’s bush plane crashed in the Amazon jungle on her way to meet me, natives applied the scrapings of a frog’s skin to her wounds. (They tie the frog’s four legs together, causing the stressed frog to secrete a fluid on his skin. That fluid is then scraped off and applied to burns or injuries. This treatment, she said, was to purge her of all negativity, and it caused her to purge all stomach contents as well.

“Well,” she wrote, “if throwing up is a spiritual experience, next time, I’ll just go to New York and eat Coney Island Red Hots until I puke. Why not save the frog the humiliation?”