Entries Tagged as 'Health'


I was diagnosed on 30-Nov-2020 with COVID-19 (a POSITIVE PCR test result)… and since that time I’ve been working remotely and struggling to function as near normally as possible.

While my symptoms were mild, I certainly will share with you that they didn’t go unnoticed. No temperature, but a dry (persistent) cough, runny nose, extreme fatigue, fluid retention (which may not have been due to COVID-19), and the inability to sleep soundly.

I can tell you that I’m certainly happy to see the worst of it in the rear view mirror — I got my second NEGATIVE PCR test result today (YEAH) — that and the expiry of my twenty day quarantine will allow me to return to the office.

There’s no way to know how long or what level of immunity I might have to the virus, but I will certainly redouble my efforts to keep a mask on my face, keep distance between me and others, and avoid any extraneous trips away from my home (which has had every surface sprayed and wiped) until after I’ve had two shots of the vaccine and time for them to have taken full effect.

There’s no question in my mind that a vaccine is by far a better choice than having another bout with this virus, and I encourage everyone to consider the science… ignore the hype and the publicity grabbing politicians.

Virtually Nobody

It affects virtually nobody..

Body Wash v Bar Soap

I read an article a couple weeks ago about things that set Millennials / Gen-Z / Gen-Y apart from Boomers… and I found one item in particular interesting: body wash v bar soap.

So I did some reading, and while I cannot attest to the rigors of the scientific method on comparing them for effectiveness, cost, waste, etc there is one thing that stands out very clearly.

One thing that is indisputable is that body wash has a horrible impact on the environment.


Yep, thing about it from a number of different angles.

First, body wash contains water; water is heavy, and that item has to be shipped (probably not made and purchased right next door to your house). Bar soap by comparison does not contain (much) water, and is far lighter.

Second, body wash occupies a significantly greater volume than bar soap, thus you can ship fewer units in a standard shipping container (or truck).

Third, what happens to that plastic container that body wash comes in when it’s empty? Do you buy refills by the gallon (I’ve yet to see that for body wash — yes for hand soap [but no the higher end hand soap]).

Forth, many body washes contain “micro abrasives” — and those aren’t minerals or natural… While I couldn’t find anything conclusive, I have to wonder if these micro abrasives might be polymers which are contributing to microplastic pollution.

Let me close by saying, I consider most choices to be personal; and none of us are completely green (no matter how snub the Prius and Tesla drivers might try to pretend to be). Choose the hygiene products you’re comfortable with, but don’t criticize a group of people who choose otherwise (and display how disingenuous you are about caring about the environment at the same time).

OK BOOMER — you win this one, irrespective of what other’s might think, use bar soap if you want.

NOTE: OK, we’re comparing similar quality body wash and bar soap, don’t think of comparisons of dollar store bar soap with a luxury body wash (or vice versa). There are good quality products, for all purposes, available in both formats.

I witnessed the horror of HIV 30 years ago. Here’s how we can conquer a pandemic

This is an article from The Guardian by Cleve Jones. I encourage you to follow the link and read it online along with images. It’s archived below for easy reference.

I witnessed the horror of HIV 30 years ago. Here’s how we can conquer a pandemic, by Cleve Jones

As the coronavirus rages across America, we would do well to remember the lessons, and victories, of the fight against HIV/Aids.

Thirty years ago this summer, we were one decade into the HIV/Aids pandemic and more than 100,000 Americans had already lost their lives. The nation was politically and socially divided as the virus decimated gay men and people of color. Our nation stigmatized and abused the individuals, families and communities who were suffering the most.

Early on, many thought HIV afflicted only gay men. Then we came to understand that African Americans were also severely affected. Neither community could easily trust a government that had failed to protect them in the past and neither had the resources to address the challenges of HIV on their own. The disease also spread rapidly within indigenous populations and other communities of color.

Sadly, then as now, too many people not immediately affected by the disease felt they had no stake in the fight against it. They believed it only happened to other people.

In the United States, largely because we initially perceived HIV as a gay disease, we failed to act with the speed and urgency required. This homophobia-driven indifference, compounded by racism, contributed to the deaths of tens of millions of heterosexual men, women and their children worldwide because the one nation supremely positioned to stop it in its tracks failed miserably.

Then, on 19 August 1990, after years of intense advocacy, George HW Bush signed into law the Ryan White Care Act. Senator Ted Kennedy, the liberal Democrat from Massachusetts, and Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, equally well known for his conservative Republican orthodoxy, had sponsored the legislation. It was named in honor of a brave boy from Indiana who contracted HIV from a treatment for his hemophilia and became a powerful public face for those suffering from the disease. The legislation passed both the House and Senate by overwhelming majorities of Republicans and Democrats.

Bitter rivals – representing polar-opposite ideologies – had reached across the aisle, worked together and crafted the legislation the nation needed to effectively fight the pandemic.

Today, the Ryan White Care Act represents a national framework for responding to a viral pandemic. It ensures not only access to healthcare and medications for people with HIV, but also access to food, housing, dental care and mental health services to address as many barriers to health as possible. It is an unquestionable success and demonstrates the power of federal leadership in addressing public health challenges. While our national response to HIV still leaves much work to be done, programs and clinics funded by the Ryan White program save lives that would be otherwise lost.

There are differences, of course, between HIV and the coronavirus, modes of transmission chief among them. But it is remarkable how many parallels exist: HIV and coronavirus were first identified in America in large coastal cities where thousands quickly died. Both diseases spread to marginalized communities, especially communities of color, where the impact has been disproportionate and deadly. Again we see state and local governments overwhelmed as hospitals fill with desperately sick and dying patients.

Thirty years ago, gay people were blamed for the pandemic. Today President Trump blames the Chinese. The notion of a “gay virus” then made no more sense than does that of a “Chinese virus” today. And both beliefs betray a deep ignorance and bigotry that have lethal consequences.

Traditional and social media are alive with nasty chatter from all sides of the debates about masks and economic reopening. It is easy to mock people with whom we disagree, but snarky memes and tweets do not move us forward. Our conversation needs to focus on who dies, why they die and how we can save them while we press for effective treatments and vaccines.

Service industry workers, first responders, teachers, food supply chain and processing workers, the elderly and immigrants die because society believes them to be disposable. In our rush for economic recovery, too many workers – fearing loss of both income and health insurance – are coerced to return to work sites that are not safe. These are the people who can’t work from home but provide essential services to those who can.

A compassionate and equitable response must replace anger and politically driven division. Access to testing, treatment and healthcare should not be determined by income, skin color, language, gender, sexual orientation or geography. Real economic support for struggling families and businesses as well as local governments must not be further delayed.

We must also accept education and trust public health officials. When political and opinion leaders mock scientists and question their recommendations without basis, they undermine our best efforts to slow transmission of the virus.

The daily, if not hourly, soundbites of sensationalistic news must be replaced with sober, scientific information and guidance on coronavirus. Politics needs to bow to public health. We need to depoliticize masks and mandates the way we once did with condom distribution and needle exchanges. In American society, we treasure individual rights and freedoms. But that focus on individualism can lead us to collective disaster.

Some of us are old enough to remember another ugly national debate about the use of fabric to save lives, in which one side claimed automobile seat belts were too uncomfortable to wear while the other pointed to research and studies to show their effectiveness at saving lives. Many Americans opposed a government requirement to use seatbelts and cited all manner of pseudoscience to discredit them, imagining them as an impingement of personal freedom. The debate was remarkably acrimonious, but today almost no one would question the simple fact that seatbelts save lives.

As we did 30 years ago, we need tireless advocates. In the early days of the HIV pandemic, we shouted “Silence = Death”, scaled research buildings and hijacked meetings to get our point across: inaction and political posturing were not acceptable. We marched in the streets and through the halls of Congress for funding, research and support.

The current political bottleneck that precludes action to save lives must be broken. We all have the responsibility to tell our elected officials – Democrats and Republicans – that they must do better.

For those of us on the frontlines in the fight against HIV in the 1980s and 1990s, it felt very much like we were at war. Today we have a self-proclaimed wartime president, but he has left every state to fend for itself without a coordinated national strategy. It is a recipe for disaster. HIV advocates understood the need for accurate, timely and regulated testing, without which we had no data or map to tell us where to allocate resources, no idea which prevention strategies worked and only a limited idea of how the virus worked. Today, without better testing, we can’t know with certainty whether coronavirus antibodies confer immunity, and if so, for how long, and our understanding of how the virus mutates is hampered.

Professional athletes and career politicians have ready access to accurate and rapid tests, while most of the rest of us wait for tests that offer inaccurate readings or provide results days or weeks later, rendering them ineffective. Public health intelligence is just as important as military intelligence. President Trump may choose to ignore both, but we cannot. It is time we funded public health accordingly – for this crisis and for the next.

Worldwide, 35 million people have lost their lives to HIV, and the pandemic is not over. We have no cure and no vaccine. But we have learned that when we set aside our differences, when communities work together, when the federal government leads – with decisions based on science, compassion and common sense – we can save lives.

Even without a cure or a vaccine for HIV, we have succeeded in bringing the rates of infection and death lower than previously imaginable through life-saving medications that also prevent transmission. This is because we demanded and helped to create a sustained, long-term, science-based approach to addressing HIV. The Ryan White Care Act was a crucial component of our response then and is still saving lives today.

The thoughtful, long-term approach to addressing HIV exemplified by the Ryan White program needs to be replicated to address the coronavirus pandemic today as well as the inevitable health challenges of the future. Our very lives – and those of our family members, friends and neighbors – depend on it.

The president assures us that we will have a coronavirus vaccine soon, possibly by election day, but I well remember in 1984 when the former US health secretary Margaret Heckler told us a vaccine for HIV would be ready within two years. Thirty-six years later, we still wait for it. Empty promises won’t protect us from the threat of the coronavirus, but intentional action can.

I was there 30 years ago and experienced the horror of HIV. I also saw the power of bipartisan leadership once it was finally exerted against HIV. That is what we need today from the president, Congress and people of the United States of America. The Ryan White Care Act offers us a proven way forward. We need government and local communities to come together again and do the right thing to save lives.

This will almost certainly be a long-term challenge that will require sustained solutions, but we have shown that we can do it. There is a way forward.

Cleve Jones is a longtime labor and LGBT organizer, originator of the Aids Memorial Quilt and author of When We Rise: My Life in the Movement

Whitehouse.gov Petition – Require the federal government provide health care coverage to all full time employees

Require that the federal government require all agencies immediately implement provisions of The Affordable Care Act by providing health care coverage to all full time (working 30 hours or more per week) employees

…click here…


Shouldn’t the US government have to play by the same rules as business in the US — well the federal government has many full time employees who are not provided access to health care as part of their job. It’s time that changed.

Sign the petition.

We Predicted a Coronavirus Pandemic. Here’s What Policymakers Could Have Seen Coming.

Here is the preamble to a post from Politico which talks about an excercise on preparation for a pandemic eerily similar to the COVID-19 outbreak which happened several months later.. See the complete post We Predicted a Coronavirus Pandemic. Here’s What Policymakers Could Have Seen Coming.


The news of a highly contagious new virus jumping from China to the U.S. has caught many Americans by surprise. For us, the outbreak was more like déjà vu: Last October, we convened a group of experts to work through what would happen if a global pandemic suddenly hit the world’s population. The disease at the heart of our scenario was a novel and highly transmissible coronavirus.

For our fictional pandemic, we assembled about 20 experts in global health, the biosciences, national security, emergency response and economics at our Washington, D.C., headquarters. The session was designed to stress-test U.S. approaches to global health challenges that could affect national security. As specialists in national security strategic planning, we’ve advised U.S. Cabinet officials, members of Congress, CEOs and other leaders on how to plan for crises before they strike, using realistic but fictional scenarios like this one.

The experts we convened walked through just how Americans and the global community would fare—how the pandemic would stress resources, bureaucracies and international relations. We then had participants backcast to today, recommending changes to our current path that could help avoid or manage the risks of a pandemic.

What we found, overall, was that the world has changed in ways that make it far harder to contain disease—and some of the mistakes that fuel its spread have already happened in the current real-world outbreak. There is still time, though, to think more carefully about how to respond both to this outbreak and likely future ones.

We chose a new strain of coronavirus for our scenario because scientists agreed that this was a likely pathogen for a future epidemic; recent outbreaks such as SARS and MERS were also caused by the coronavirus family. The future we described was based on the research of deep subject matter experts who have studied recent epidemics, including our colleagues in the Center for Strategic and International Studies Global Health Security program and researchers with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

The parallels between our exercise and today’s real outbreak aren’t exact. We assumed a research laboratory-created virus first released in Europe (by accident or intentionally—we left it deliberately unclear); the real-world SARS-CoV-2 virus likely originated in wild animals sold at a meat market and was first detected in Wuhan, China. But other aspects are extremely similar: In our scenario, the virus was highly transmissible and had a 3.125 percent lethality rate. So far, the true rate of the new virus is unknown, but according to the World Health Organization about 3.4 percent of reported COVID-19 cases have died.

So what happened, as our exercise unfolded—and what do Americans need to know about what might happen next?

Continue on Politico

When American big business is behind something…

I’ve been around the block a few times, and I tend to pay attention.

One thing that’s almost an invariant in the world is that if American big business is behind legislation it’s because it serves their own interest and greed — not the public interest.

The only thing American big business cares about the public for is finding new ways to milk money from them and insure that the public pay more than their share of taxes.

With very few exceptions American business (and the ultra-rich American’s that run those businesses) are self-serving, and only looking out for their interests and profits.  They are motivated by greed.

So when the pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, large hospitals, and health care industry get behind a plan that doesn’t seem to improve anything for the American public it should be clear to everyone who they’re looking to improve things for.

The real problem in America is that special interest groups run the country; and almost all politicians who’ve been in office more than two terms (and most presidents) cater to their interests and don’t want to really change the status quo.

Those who are elected to serve the public interest actually serve no interests but their own!

– Caveat civis –

Off Shore Drilling

For years the oil and gas companies have been telling us (the American public) how safe off shore drilling is, and they’ve been trying to convince us that they have contingencies for anything that might happen, and that there’s no substantial risk to our environment.

Well, take a look at the Deepwater Horizon oil platform in the relatively tame Gulf of Mexico and the inability of the world’s largest oil company to stop (or even really slow) a huge oil leak and consider who ill prepared the oil companies would be to handle a spill anything like this is the Gulf of Alaska (or any place near the Artic) in the middle of the Winter — or what could happen in the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic seaboard during hurricane season.

Yes, I think it’s a travesty that the Federal Government didn’t have any contingency plans for oil spills of this magnitude — but don’t point a finger at the current administration; you’ll find that’s been years and years in the making (and least you forget, we just had an “oil and gas man” in the Whitehouse for eight years), but in the end, it is the industry itself that is ultimately responsible for the impact of their decisions to use such a small amount of their profits to insure the safety of their endeavors — and it is the companies that should be made to pay for the damages they’ve caused.

Damages to the coastal ecosystem of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida are increasing hourly as BP does little to stem the disaster — except possibly try and contain the public relations damage.  While BP stock is down 40%, first quarter 2010 saw record profits — and in the end, I suspect BP will find a way to pass all the costs and loses onto consumers and reward their investors.  BP CEO Tony Hayward has already assured investors that the company has “considerable firepower” to cope wit the severe costs… but missing are statements to the world that they’ll commit the “firepower” it’ll take resolve this disaster.

Bottom line, perhaps rather than increasing the leases for off-shore drilling it’s time to pull back all the currently unused leases and start heavily fining the oil and gas industry for any and all violations.

NASA Satellites’ View of Gulf Oil Spill

Unhealthy lies and the truth about health care reform

On 18 August 2009 John Groom published an article on CreativeLoafing that might give you a little more perspective on the health care reform battle.  It’s dated, but still very relevant.

The article starts off…

For weeks, health insurance companies, Republican political operatives and politicians, and their media cheerleaders have thrown a thick blanket of lies over the national debate of health care reform. By now you’ve heard the one about how Obama is going to pull the plug on your granny. Maybe you also heard that illegal immigrants would soon be enjoying free health care on your dime. Or that new health care policies would be a bonanza for abortion clinics.

Most of the screamers we’ve seen at health care town hall meetings are obviously, at best, very uninformed about details of proposed reforms. What you may not know is that those uninformed views are largely the result of a deliberate, cynical campaign of outright, blatant dishonesty the likes of which this reporter hasn’t seen in nearly 40 years of following politics. Washington Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein summed up the risk the GOP is taking with its current tactics: “By poisoning the political well, they’ve given up any pretense of being the loyal opposition. They’ve become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems.”

For the complete article see: Unhealthy lies and the truth about health care reform.

Remember, question everything.

Actually, that’s not in the Bible

(CNN) – NFL legend Mike Ditka was giving a news conference one day after being fired as the coach of the Chicago Bears when he decided to quote the Bible.

“Scripture tells you that all things shall pass,” a choked-up Ditka said after leading his team to only five wins during the previous season. “This, too, shall pass.”

Ditka fumbled his biblical citation, though. The phrase “This, too, shall pass” doesn’t appear in the Bible. Ditka was quoting a phantom scripture that sounds like it belongs in the Bible, but look closer and it’s not there.

Ditka’s biblical blunder is as common as preachers delivering long-winded public prayers. The Bible may be the most revered book in America, but it’s also one of the most misquoted. Politicians, motivational speakers, coaches – all types of people – quote passages that actually have no place in the Bible, religious scholars say.

These phantom passages include:

“God helps those who help themselves.”

“Spare the rod, spoil the child.”

And there is this often-cited paraphrase: Satan tempted Eve to eat the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden.

None of those passages appear in the Bible, and one is actually anti-biblical, scholars say.

But people rarely challenge them because biblical ignorance is so pervasive that it even reaches groups of people who should know better, says Steve Bouma-Prediger, a religion professor at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.

“In my college religion classes, I sometimes quote 2 Hesitations 4:3 (‘There are no internal combustion engines in heaven’),” Bouma-Prediger says. “I wait to see if anyone realizes that there is no such book in the Bible and therefore no such verse.

“Only a few catch on.”

Few catch on because they don’t want to – people prefer knowing biblical passages that reinforce their pre-existing beliefs, a Bible professor says.

“Most people who profess a deep love of the Bible have never actually read the book,” says Rabbi Rami Shapiro, who once had to persuade a student in his Bible class at Middle Tennessee State University that the saying “this dog won’t hunt” doesn’t appear in the Book of Proverbs.

“They have memorized parts of texts that they can string together to prove the biblical basis for whatever it is they believe in,” he says, “but they ignore the vast majority of the text.”

Phantom biblical passages work in mysterious ways

Ignorance isn’t the only cause for phantom Bible verses. Confusion is another.

Some of the most popular faux verses are pithy paraphrases of biblical concepts or bits of folk wisdom.

Consider these two:

“God works in mysterious ways.”

“Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”

Both sound as if they are taken from the Bible, but they’re not. The first is a paraphrase of a 19th century hymn by the English poet William Cowper (“God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform).

The “cleanliness” passage was coined by John Wesley, the 18th century evangelist who founded Methodism, says Thomas Kidd, a history professor at Baylor University in Texas.

“No matter if John Wesley or someone else came up with a wise saying – if it sounds proverbish, people figure it must come from the Bible,” Kidd says.

Our fondness for the short and tweet-worthy may also explain our fondness for phantom biblical phrases. The pseudo-verses function like theological tweets: They’re pithy summarizations of biblical concepts.

“Spare the rod, spoil the child” falls into that category. It’s a popular verse – and painful for many kids. Could some enterprising kid avoid the rod by pointing out to his mother that it’s not in the Bible?

It’s doubtful. Her possible retort: The popular saying is a distillation of Proverbs 13:24: “The one who withholds [or spares] the rod is one who hates his son.”

Another saying that sounds Bible-worthy: “Pride goes before a fall.” But its approximation, Proverbs 16:18, is actually written: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

There are some phantom biblical verses for which no excuse can be offered. The speaker goofed.

That’s what Bruce Wells, a theology professor, thinks happened to Ditka, the former NFL coach, when he strayed from the gridiron to biblical commentary during his 1993 press conference in Chicago.

Wells watched Ditka’s biblical blunder on local television when he lived in Chicago. After Ditka cited the mysterious passage, reporters scrambled unsuccessfully the next day to find the biblical source.

They should have consulted Wells, who is now director of the ancient studies program at Saint Joseph’s University in Pennsylvania. Wells says Ditka’s error probably came from a peculiar feature of the King James Bible.

“My hunch on the Ditka quote is that it comes from a quirk of the King James translation,” Wells says. “Ancient Hebrew had a particular way of saying things like, ‘and the next thing that happened was…’ The King James translators of the Old Testament consistently rendered this as ‘and it came to pass.’ ’’

When phantom Bible passages turn dangerous

People may get verses wrong, but they also mangle plenty of well-known biblical stories as well.

Two examples: The scripture never says a whale swallowed Jonah, the Old Testament prophet, nor did any New Testament passages say that three wise men visited baby Jesus, scholars say.

Those details may seem minor, but scholars say one popular phantom Bible story stands above the rest: The Genesis story about the fall of humanity.

Most people know the popular version – Satan in the guise of a serpent tempts Eve to pick the forbidden apple from the Tree of Life. It’s been downhill ever since.

But the story in the book of Genesis never places Satan in the Garden of Eden.

“Genesis mentions nothing but a serpent,” says Kevin Dunn, chair of the department of religion at Tufts University in Massachusetts.

“Not only does the text not mention Satan, the very idea of Satan as a devilish tempter postdates the composition of the Garden of Eden story by at least 500 years,” Dunn says.

Getting biblical scriptures and stories wrong may not seem significant, but it can become dangerous, one scholar says.

Most people have heard this one: “God helps those that help themselves.” It’s another phantom scripture that appears nowhere in the Bible, but many people think it does. It’s actually attributed to Benjamin Franklin, one of the nation’s founding fathers.

The passage is popular in part because it is a reflection of cherished American values: individual liberty and self-reliance, says Sidnie White Crawford, a religious studies scholar at the University of Nebraska.

Yet that passage contradicts the biblical definition of goodness: defining one’s worth by what one does for others, like the poor and the outcast, Crawford says.

Crawford cites a scripture from Leviticus that tells people that when they harvest the land, they should leave some “for the poor and the alien” (Leviticus 19:9-10), and another passage from Deuteronomy that declares that people should not be “tight-fisted toward your needy neighbor.”

“We often infect the Bible with our own values and morals, not asking what the Bible’s values and morals really are,” Crawford says.

Where do these phantom passages come from?

It’s easy to blame the spread of phantom biblical passages on pervasive biblical illiteracy. But the causes are varied and go back centuries.

Some of the guilty parties are anonymous, lost to history. They are artists and storytellers who over the years embellished biblical stories and passages with their own twists.

If, say, you were an anonymous artist painting the Garden of Eden during the Renaissance, why not portray the serpent as the devil to give some punch to your creation? And if you’re a preacher telling a story about Jonah, doesn’t it just sound better to say that Jonah was swallowed by a whale, not a “great fish”?

Others blame the spread of phantom Bible passages on King James, or more specifically the declining popularity of the King James translation of the Bible.

That translation, which marks 400 years of existence this year, had a near monopoly on the Bible market as recently as 50 years ago, says Douglas Jacobsen, a professor of church history and theology at Messiah College in Pennsylvania.

“If you quoted the Bible and got it wrong then, people were more likely to notice because there was only one text,” he says. “Today, so many different translations are used that almost no one can tell for sure if something supposedly from the Bible is being quoted accurately or not.”

Others blame the spread of phantom biblical verses on Martin Luther, the German monk who ignited the Protestant Reformation, the massive “protest” against the excesses of the Roman Catholic Church that led to the formation of Protestant church denominations.

“It is a great Protestant tradition for anyone – milkmaid, cobbler, or innkeeper – to be able to pick up the Bible and read for herself. No need for a highly trained scholar or cleric to walk a lay person through the text,” says Craig Hazen, director of the Christian Apologetics program at Biola University in Southern California.

But often the milkmaid, the cobbler – and the NFL coach – start creating biblical passages without the guidance of biblical experts, he says.

“You can see this manifest today in living room Bible studies across North America where lovely Christian people, with no training whatsoever, drink decaf, eat brownies and ask each other, ‘What does this text mean to you?’’’ Hazen says.

“Not only do they get the interpretation wrong, but very often end up quoting verses that really aren’t there.”


By John Blake, CNN