Thursday, June 3, 2021

Deafening Silence…..


“No matter how cynical you are, you are still naive.”

That quote is attributed to Bret Weinstein of the Dark Horse podcast. What does it have to do with anything? I’ll get to that.


We are still in the midst of the COVID19 Pandemic, it’s been 14 months and in Ontario the lockdown continues. It should be clear to everyone that governments at ALL levels have royally fucked up the management of the Pandemic. And worse still, it probably won’t affect the federal election coming, but may affect the next provincial election. One should never underestimate the stupidity of the voting public. We’ll see.


To date, any physical contact with my family (other than my wife) is still a no-no, and for me that may continue for some time. My struggles with Multiple Myeloma are ongoing. Currently I’m in the midst of treatment with a monoclonal antibody and two other drugs. That protocol is slated to become a monthly event soon (Biweekly now). As I tend to say, I have bad days and worse days, and I’m resigned to that.  


Even though I have been vaccinated twice with the Pfizer mRNA-Vaccine, its effectiveness for me, and most people with blood cancers is in the range of maybe 40% unless one is on treatment, which I am, then less so, according to the most recent small sample-size data. 

My doctor’s contend that’s better than nothing, and I agree. So effectively I’m depending on everyone else to be vaccinated, and I will still need to be very careful once things open up. However, there is a therapeutic drug that has shown excellent and amazing prophylactic (preventative) and clinical results for COVID19 but has been ignored and suppressed by the “gods of medicine,” the government, and the media for a variety of reasons. Of course I would rather be able to control my own future than rely on everyone else.


The drug is IVERMECTIN. I first heard about this drug many months ago from a good friend but I never bothered to really check it out. Recently (June 1/21) I watched a podcast - The Dark Horse (Bret Weinstein, Heather Heying) - that I subscribe to.


I’ve been watching that podcast since I saw this interview on Bill Maher’s HBO show in January.

That broadcast brought up the lab leak hypothesis for the origin of COVID19, which I’ve always believed and I’m even more convinced now. Of course that idea has also been suppressed by the “gods of medicine,” the government, and the media. However, today, that theory is gaining more and more credence even by Dr. Fauci himself


The Dark Horse podcast of June 1, 2021 has Dr. Pierre Kory talking about IVERMECTIN. Yes, its long, but a very compelling story. 


Kory presented his work to the US Senate on Dec. 8/20 and it became a YouTube video, but interestingly YouTube subsequently removed it because it also goes against “gods of medicine,” the government, and the media. But the video is here and here is the PDF of the testimony to the US Senate.

Here is the link to Dr. Kory’s group FLCCC (Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance).


So here we are, an apparently effective prevention and treatment for COVID19, used around the world, see Dr. Kory’s groups' website above. In fact, IVERMECTIN has been used in the United States and in some cases even demanded by court order in lawsuits by advocates for critically ill patients with stunning results.

Its almost impossible to believe that this story has been ignored, but it has, and that has got to change. The cynicism one must accept that this drug is being ignored because it could affect the Emergency Use Authorization for the vaccines, or that it may affect revenues for the vaccine developers is beyond belief. How naive can we be? 

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Happy to be a guinea pig....

Guinea pigs come in assorted colours 

In the midst of the ongoing human tragedy that is the Pandemic, the pugnacious people at PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) proffered some useless advice recently. Calling someone a guinea pig, a test animal, is an insult if guinea pigs can get insulted; its speciesism, a new micro-aggression.  Here is the tweet:

Why some pasty-faced vegan vermin decided to tweet this to out at this time is perplexing. Maybe it was meant as a bit of comic relief from the daily onslaught of COVID/Vaccine news, but I think they were serious.


All PETA people must be vegan, and of the most extreme kind. I wonder if they eschew fossil fuels, like oil, gas? Surely they must know they are animal by-products. How can they live with themselves knowing this?

A good friend and I have an inside joke about guinea pigs. I feel like one during my ongoing treatment for relapsed Myeloma, and all of us who look forward to being vaccinated against the current scourge, will be part of a monstrous clinical trial, Phase 4 actually, for the cutting edge anti-COVID vaccine technology that has just been developed. Not only that, we are all guinea pigs now as a result of the Pandemic. How will the virus affect us? Will the variants nullify the effectiveness of the vaccines? What are the lockdowns doing to the economy, our mental health, and on and on?

Many of my social media “friends” are upset that the vaccines are unproven over long time periods. They seem to ignore the fact that there is a perceived emergency and putting an end to it ASAP is the goal. They also forget that modern medicine is just statistics over time, and doctors are 
really just practicing.


But I’m happy to be a guinea pig; grateful actually, in every sense. 

The drug protocol I’m being subjected to did not exist that long ago, so I’m going to be part of the ongoing data collection as will we all be in the current COVID Challenge.


Guinea pigs of course are docile mammals that share much human biochemistry, so we subject them to novel treatments and drugs trying to infer how these might affect people. Cruel, maybe, insulting, to our furry friends, well, that depends on the situation. In the life of a guinea pig, lab life might be considered very good, until your number comes up. 


Shortly after I was diagnosed with Myeloma, and against my physician’s advise, I searched through Google to find all the relevant data on Myeloma. What were the chances of survival? How long do I have? How does it kill? You know, given the tools, anyone would do that. It was not encouraging. Average life span after diagnosis was 29 months. So from my diagnosis in September 2018, it would mean February 2021 was it for me. The end should be right about now, or soon. But I’ve never thought of myself as average, and I have a reasonably healthy lifestyle. I partake in few of the so-called common vices; I’ve always been a chicken that way. Oops, sorry PETA. So I gave myself something more than average duration. Since I ended the initial treatment regime called CyBorD back in July 2020, my disease progression, as they call it, has been more or less stable. No major blood anomalies but some increase seen of the cancer is visible in bone marrow on MRI. So my doctor said lets catch it in the bud. Let me hasten to add that over the last couple of years there has been lots and lots of pain, huge amounts of fatigue, many constraints, no picnic, but here I Am. In some ways the Pandemic has had a positive impact. My wife (my wonderful helpmate) and I have been isolated for almost a year, that means that my very compromised immune system has been spared even a sniffle. We're very thankful for all the electronic devices we rely on for family contact. Of course there are outdoor "visits" when the weather allows, but.... 


So in January 2021, I’ve begun a new and promising treatment. It’s so new that an average survival time has not yet been determined, but so far on average it’s in excess of 32 months and counting. Doesn’t seem very long does it? One thing about cancer, it changes your point of view on everything.




Thursday, January 14, 2021

Unwarranted Premature Ejaculations!


In my last post four months ago, I predicted a second wave to the COVID19 Pandemic. I think most people will agree that the second wave has surpassed the first wave in intensity. Its reminiscent of the Spanish Flu 100 years ago, when the second wave was worse than the first.

We are ten months in to the COVID19 Pandemic now. Schools in Ontario are closed again. A provincial "stay-at-home" lockdown order was issued today for at least the next month. 

And yet as summer became fall and case numbers rose, many people prematurely called it a "CASEDEMIC," and for good reason. Testing ability all around the world had ramped up. In Ontario the graph below shows how testing has increased since April 2020. More tests equals more cases discovered. 

That did not translate to more hospitalizations and/or deaths at first. That gave rise to a host of video posts,  blogs and social media rants, claiming the Pandemic was over, here and in Europe and Asia. Hardly; the virus was just getting comfortable. It became particularly serious for our neighbours to the South. Cases spread through States that were relatively unscathed in the first wave, hospitalizations spiked and so did deaths. That also happened in Ontario and all of Canada. At the time of this post, the Americans had almost twenty-four million cases and almost 400,000 deaths attributed/related to COVID19. Things were not nearly as bad in Canada, but bad enough to stress our always stressed medical system as the lockdown in Ontario demonstrates.

Of course there is still considerable debate about the effectiveness of lockdowns. It may be too early to tell, but their effect so far has NOT been exemplary. For example, the Government of Ontario promised an "iron ring" around long term care (LTC) homes after the first wave. The result has been a dismal failure, nothing new for government, but a tragedy for thousands of families. Around 80% of the deaths from COVID19 have been in LTC homes. Here is the data for Ontario. That is about the worst in the world, and most of it can be blamed on government. Of course the socialists in our Parliaments and Legislatures blame the profit motive, but of course it is not that simple.

We all know the news was not all bad. Unlike what happened with the Spanish Flu, a third wave in the developed world is unlikely. As 2020 finally came to an end, several effective vaccines had been approved and were being administered by many nations around the world. Once again the private sector has rescued humanity. Yes, governments helped, but mostly by getting out of the way, and allowing quick approvals without jeopardizing on safety. That model could have lasting benefits for the future of medicine. We can hope.

The vaccines themselves are unique because two of them - the ones that use mRNA, demonstrate new medical tools that may revolutionize the way vaccines are made in the future. This is an unforeseen benefit of the COVID Pandemic. The use of RNA as a therapy will also have a positive effect on other areas of medicine.

Once we get vaccinations going, hopefully with lots of private involvement (pharmacies), we could be seeing the end of the Pandemic by late summer.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Opinions are like assholes – Targeting COVID19 So far.....


In the immortal words of Clint Eastwood (Dirty Harry Callahan) The Dead Pool (1988):

“Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one.” I will add ...and most of them stink.


The vast majority of people that I interact with on social media and in my life in general can't tell the difference between a Golgi body and a goal post. But I can. I've spent 40 years of my life immersed in academia, studying, then teaching science and biology, a field that requires some knowledge of all three of the major groupings of Science, Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

Even though I’ve retired from teaching and formal academics over 13 years ago, my interest in science and biology has not waned. So if this sounds like I have superior knowledge of things biological compared to the average layman, maybe I do. Read the rest with that in mind, and yes I have opinions too.

Opinions on COVID19 depend on ones point of view. As a septuagenarian with advanced Multiple Myeloma and other co-morbidities, an infection with SARS-CoV-2, for me, is possibly a death sentence. Myeloma already is, thats just a matter of time. To be sure, facing ones own mortality has a way of altering one’s views short term, because the longer term is more uncertain. So you’ll pardon me if I disavow complete objectivity, but I’ll try to be as objective as possible.

We are six months into our COVID19 Pandemic here in North America and some predictions have come and are coming true. First off, many people predicted a major Pandemic...eventually, as you can see here

Some predictions about the future were totally off. Like this one in 2015: "Climate change is the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century."

Here is what British science writer, Matt Ridley said in a recent interview about that prediction.....


“......We went into this pandemic hysterically terrified of climate change. What climate change actually means is that by the 2060s and 2070s, the average temperature of the world will be a couple of degrees warmer. That is essentially all we are saying. How did we manage to get to the point where we put that way above all other scares in importance, and neglected the pandemic threat? The World Health Organization (WHO) said in 2015 that the greatest threat to human health in the 21st century is climate change. The WHO is meant to keep us safe from pandemics. This suggests to me that in 2015, the WHO was not doing its day job. We are now seeing the consequences.”

This is what Canadian Public Health thought about the WHO pronouncement in October 2019, just a few months before the Pandemic.

If that doesn't make you wonder about WHO and Canadian Public Health, you are NOT paying attention.

The prediction that a Pandemic was coming is not particularly prescient. Pandemics occur regularly, but this one was treated differently. The virus spread from China to Italy and the rest of Europe at jet-like speed before it arrived in North America. Then came the government enforced lockdowns. Those were not widely predicted. The early affected countries seemed to set the tone for the lockdowns. The first lockdown occurred in China, this was followed by parts of Italy.

Our governments in Canada and the US were unbelievably unprepared, almost surprised by the speed of events. One would have thought that the first SARS outbreak in 2003 would be a teaching tool for this one. Canada's largest city, my home town was ground zero for SARS CoV-1 back then. Lessons (like this one) were written by the main actors during that event. Did our governments pay attention to these? Nope. Look at these snippets from that event in Toronto 17 years before the COVID Pandemic:

“Evidence suggests that SCoV is transmitted via contact and/or droplets ….. and that the use of any mask (surgical or N95) significantly decreases the risk of infection…”

“…epidemiological evidence suggests that transmission does not occur prior to the onset of symptoms or after symptom resolution…” “….underscoring the importance of a rapid, accurate diagnostic test.”

“Atypical presentations of the disease have been described also complicating the diagnosis…”

“….Interestingly, the disease has been rare in children and if present appears to be milder…”

“…More frequent is a mild variant of the disease that includes mild respiratory symptoms with fever….”

“…Advanced age is the most important risk factor for death with patients older than 60 years having a case fatality rate of 45 percent…”

infectious agent was spread by respiratory droplets in the great majority of cases, and some patients were more infectious than others….” 

I would say that all of the above and more was useful information for this novel Coronavirus, but similar to one that was already studied. Did they use the information? Did they take precautions? Was there any thinking going on by public health officials? None that could be discerned.

In fact our illustrious Prime Minister was mostly concerned with anti-Chinese racism in early February as case counts began in Ontario and B.C. Young JustinT had barely finished chastising Canadians for the racial stereotyping of the Chinese, when the Chinese virus arrived in his own house carried by his wife. The Chinese Communist Party, which young JustinT “admired,” deserves much of the blame for the entire debacle that followed.

Despite intelligence and plenty of evidence to the contrary, our governments did a piss-poor job of preparing for a Pandemic and compounded that by failing to inform the population at the start.

The stable genius in the United States at first denied the seriousness of COVID19, even though he was advised of the opposite. Apparently, he didn't want to start a panic, but was OK with a disaster.


The general population knew better. News media were reporting shortages of toilet paper and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers. People were preparing. The WHO finally declared the Pandemic on March 11, 2020, the next day my wife and I forayed out on one last shopping binge looking for masks, gloves, and wipes, but only found gloves. We bought more toilet paper, and canned foods all the while thinking that we may have to hunker down for a few weeks. Schools were just closing for the March break and we thought they may have to shut for several weeks following. We did not imagine 6 months.

The next day sports leagues began cancelling games. Everything seemed very spontaneous and without direction, very ad-hoc and ultimately surreal.

Back in late February and early March, Washington State had outbreaks in a retirement homes - that should have been a big red flag for public health everywhere. But of course it was mostly ignored. 

Here is what happened in another Washington event: “ outbreak occurred following attendance of a symptomatic index case at a regular weekly rehearsal on 10 March of the Skagit Valley Chorale (SVC). After that rehearsal, 53 members of the SVC among 61 in attendance were confirmed or strongly suspected to have contracted COVID-19 and two died. Transmission by the airborne route is likely.” See this linkThis above was a demonstration of just how contagious the virus was from a sick contagious individual, and how it was spread, possibly as an aerosol (that is disputed) but likely by droplets when he coughed and sneezed in a closed space (that is not disputed). Again, that was mostly ignored.

Skagit Valley Chorale outbreak

The news from Europe, especially Italy was very disturbing.


I could only imagine hastily called meetings going on here at home in workplaces, businesses, in local and regional government offices about next steps. It began to dawn on many of us that this might take a while and to be safe, some changes must be made.

Our government leaders were caught with their pants and skirts down, and suddenly realized that our medical facilities were finite and largely unprepared. In fact they were unprepared in normal times with long wait times, and for many who needed urgent care, this was about to become a disaster.


We were soon inundated with TV and radio ads from government urging everyone to wash their hands often and stay home so as not to overwhelm the already inadequate healthcare system. We were all urged to “flatten the curve” for the sake of the health care system. Hospitals postponed “elective” surgeries and physicians discovered that video and telephone “consults” worked. Worsening outcomes for cancer, cardiac patients and everybody on a waitlist were about to become collateral damage.

Turns out that the hand washing advisories were probably over done. The evidence now shows that touching contaminated surfaces (fomites) was a MINOR method of transmission. The virus is transmitted by droplets primarily, as you would expect with a respiratory virus, and of course the government and public health officials poo-pooed wearing masks (even though it was recommended with SARS-1) but made a very big deal of washing hands.

In fact our chief public health people actually discouraged masks at first, then reversed that advice. The entire mask issue became a debacle as I've already discussed here.

Businesses of all sorts produced radio and TV commercials that were incredibly alike and eerily resembled this cartoon.


News stories from the New York City region served to terrify because public health there could not keep up with the surge in cases and deaths.


By this time everyone that could, went online, and suddenly everyone became an epidemiologist.


Many of us stuck at home with literally no where to go, discovered “Zoom.” That did not help and in many ways things became worse. There was also a sudden uptick in the sharing of idiotic memes and jokes by email. That lasted for weeks.


Traffic jams had disappeared overnight. Businesses and entertainment had shut down. There was no where to go, and it became eerily quiet especially in urban areas without traffic noise and air travel. Delivery vans (delivering food etc.) soon became the major traffic in many neighbourhoods.

Soon the conspiracists came out online. The most idiotic ones called what was happening a “PLANdemic” that was planned and started by the likes of Bill Gates or George Soros, or some scheming media and government leaders to subjugate humanity. Or, the whole thing is a hoax - never mind all the deaths in China, Italy, New York etc. Or, the virus was engineered in a Chinese lab in Wuhan. Or, COVID19 is no worse than the flu (it isn't) Many unsubstantiated claims were circulated. Most were hilarious to me anyway, but the conspiracists were serious.

Some folks even doubted the nature of the disease. Was it really a virus or was COVID caused by “5G networks?” Such a ridiculous idea it is just unworthy of further comment.


All the talk about protecting the health care system seemed to work because it was never overwhelmed here, unlike Italy or New York City or other places in the States later on.


What quickly became obvious was that the health care system failed to protect the elderly in long term care across the country. Local outbreaks raged through those operations and its there that the majority of COVID deaths occurred in the early days of the Canadian outbreak. Things were so bad in some elder-care homes, that the military was called in to rescue survivors. It was the proverbial “shit-show” in these long term care facilities, a black mark against government controlled healthcare and a disaster for many families across Canada.

Then came the drug therapy advocates with their own conspiracy theories. Based on the unfounded claims of the idiot in the White House and some random medical mavens who claimed this drug or that miraculously cured COVID. None were shown to be really effective let alone a cure, and only a few showed any real clinical effects that could be proven in a double blind study. So far the only drugs that have been proven to have any effect are steroids like dexamethasone and an antiviral remdesovir.

Then came the contrarians, claiming the lockdowns were unnecessary (probably), or we should have followed the Swedes (maybe), or that masks are totally useless or even dangerous (unlikely), or the Pandemic is over (also unlikely), lets all go back to the way things were (not going to happen).


People with higher paying jobs could work from home during a lockdown. People with lower paying jobs generally cannot if they have jobs at all. Many had lost their jobs and income because of the government’s lockdown over reaction. Almost as penance government began shovelling money almost indiscriminately out to the people negatively affected. This added enormous debt to governments everywhere, an effect that will certainly outlast the effects of the virus.


Early on some folks predicted social unrest as a result of the forced lockdown. Of course no one predicted what form the social unrest would take though it was easy to predict who would be affected.


The pandemic became the perfect storm for the resurgence of the civil rights movement as a result of a few very unfortunate police actions. The continued presence of apparently racist police officers combined with smouldering frustration in Black and Indigenous communities after years of endless discrimination, sparked worldwide demonstrations, riots, and vandalism. The latter two have probably caused considerable resentment in the broader community, as I’ll point out later. Unfortunately this gave undeserved prominence to groups like ANTIFA and “Black Lives Matter” that advocated completely irrational demands such as defunding the police. Libertarians would be happier if police were de-tasked of certain functions, but that's a longer story.

Throughout most of the very warm summer (in these parts) businesses were allowed to reopen in stages. Case counts dropped, deaths dropped, many people, especially the younger population became complacent. Strangely, even as the Pandemic seemed to wane several governments instituted mask mandates, finally acknowledging how the virus was primarily spread. Perhaps public health officials were anticipating and attempting to ward off a second wave, we’ll see.

In August, most sports leagues restarted competition, but without audiences, just on TV - very weird (especially the cardboard cutouts in the stands), but at least it offered many an escape and live entertainment. Each of the Leagues pandered to the current civil rights unrest, by highlighting the dubious importance of the political group “Black Lives Matter” and so-called racial justice. Did the fans really care? We got a hint when the first NFL game (in Missouri) was held in front of a small physically distanced crowd that booed when the players at pregame linked arms in a salute to “racial unity.”

I suspect there will be much resentment at the political shenanigans of the sports leagues. How that will manifest itself later on is anyone’s guess. But pandering to intersectionality and racial unity does not mix with sports entertainment IMHO.

The mask mandates just triggered more civil unrest, and more so-called “expert” opinions (see top) and discussions on their effectiveness especially online.

As case numbers ticked up in early September schools reopened with much parental consternation and considerable variation across the country.


We’re 6 months in, and winter is coming. Will there be a second wave? No doubt, its just a matter of how big. Its well known that schools drive pandemics, will it happen this time?

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Media Bias - from objective to plain objectionable.

My personal view of Canadian Media bias.
 In August 2020, CBC Newsworld covered the Pandemic versions of the Democratic then Republican National Conventions (DNC & RNC) each evening during their run.

I watched bits of both occasionally. One evening (August 26th) I watched part of the RNC coverage. After one of the speeches the host and the CBC Washington correspondent introduced two American commentators. One was a Democratic strategist, the other a Republican strategist. I thought, good we were going to be offered two different viewpoints on the speech just presented. Boy was I wrong. Turned out, both commentators were very much anti-Trump as were the host and the Washington correspondent. There was not even the pretence of objective analysis. Not surprised, I thought how typical of CBC.


As a youngster I had an obsession with the NEWS, learned from my father probably because of his peacetime and wartime experiences in Poland. He was an avid NEWS watcher and listener.


Growing up in Toronto, with just a few TV and radio stations, it never crossed my mind that the NEWS would be biased based on the station reporting it. That was probably true of most of my generation in the 1950’s and most of the ‘60’s. For me the NEWS was the truth, why would I doubt it? I was also fortunate, like all my neighbours, to get NEWS from American and Canadian sources because of our proximity to the USA. 


In reality, I was growing up during a rare blip in journalism and media. Commercial sponsors that wanted the broadest media appeal possible to market their products funded print journalism as well as TV and radio broadcasting. Journalists and their editors were encouraged to aim at the mushy political middle in their reporting to attract the largest possible audience. But throughout the history of media, that was not always the case.


Before radio and TV, political parties often funded Canadian and American print media. So what appeared in their stories and reports were typically very partisan, and not that different from today. 


Eventually the expense of publishing newspapers became difficult for political parties to finance, and sponsorships moved to business and industry. Those folks wanted broad appeal and NEWS reporting became more objective and less partisan by necessity. We were in a Cold War with the Soviets and political parties themselves were also ideologically similar back then, as were the readers and later listeners and watchers. 


Of course the media do not officially support political parties these days, print media will endorse parties and candidates prior to elections. However, in practice day-to-day most mainstream media outlets have adopted the prevailing cultural norms and today have a definite leftish tone (see above graphic). Certainly that’s true across Canada. Many Canadians lament the bias of mainstream media, but history shows bias was the normal condition.


As the culture continues to shift left, so has much of the mainstream media.

In Canada, smaller NEWS outlets (mostly online) are funded by donations. Many of these are on the right end of the political spectrum. Since the culture is largely left-wing, the larger privately funded media sources (the print media, CTV, etc.) have attempted the pretence of objectivity just to keep a broad based audience but actually most lean left because it is politically acceptable. Publicly funded (government) media sources like the CBC and TVO, have moved hard core left, because they do not depend as much on broad private sponsorship. They get government funding regardless of the crap they produce.


The graphic at the top (adapted from here) is my non-scientific impression of some selected Canadian media outlets. Most of the mainstream media are on the left. The right side is populated by small \, relatively new organizations.

Here is an American version of my graphic thats available online:

American media bias.
 Of course, just like in Canada, American media is owned by just a few companies, all of which come with their own biases.


The only way to avoid media bias these days is to read, listen to, and watch a variety of legitimate media outlets. The key is how to discern what is legitimate. My graphic (above) makes an attempt at demonstrating this. Thats according to my opinion at least. We may disagree.


While dispassionate objectivity is still taught in journalism schools, most practicing journalists shed that constraint, very quickly as they settle in with a like-minded employer.


Today the cultural shift left has gone so far as to invite gross censorship and censure-ship of journalists who stray from supposed cultural norms. Publishers and other media owners do not want to risk offending anyone because they fear losing sponsorships. Maybe they don't realize it but that fear is itself very offensive. Diverse opinions are scorned by editors and publishers to the point where today, many journalists are in revolt. (See The new Mcarthyism - Cancel Culture) That's a good sign, in my opinion, push back even from the lefty journalists who realize that diverse opinions are what makes our Western civilization work.


Monday, August 17, 2020

Anti-mask mania...yes it is!

Really, its a question? Mask UP!
During the first few months of the COVID Pandemic lockdown, politicians, health officials, and hospitals agonized over the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for front line health care workers. It was headline news.

PPE consists of masks, face shields, gowns and gloves - all disposable, and all essential in protecting doctors, nurses, orderlies, etc. from infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID19. 

Think about that, the PPE protects the healthcare worker and is essential for them to do their job. That was clearly understood by virtually everyone at the start. At the same time, the general population was told by experts and idiot politicians that masks are ineffective and should not be used and anyway masks do not protect you, they protect others from you. Of course, that contradicts the “personal” part of PPE. Worse still, the idiot politicians supported that or in the American case denied what seemed obvious, and the issue of masks became a political football.
 Eventually the idiot politicians and public health officials changed their collective little minds and suggested that masks be worn to protect “others.” That ‘suggestion’ became a legal requirement in many jurisdictions locally and regionally, ordered by governments and backed by public health officials around the world.

So apparently front line healthcare workers and public health officials almost everywhere are convinced that masks provide some degree of protection if used properly. Sure, there are a few exceptions, and I choose to ignore them, because the front line workers are the real experts. They wear masks and there is nothing theoretical about it. 

Is there any evidence that wearing masks can reduce virus transmission in the general population? Fortunately there is. Hong Kong has experienced several epidemic outbreaks over the years because of its location. There, its a cultural norm to wear masks in public. During an outbreak its almost universal as this quote suggests:


“Not wearing masks in Hong Kong is like not wearing pants nowadays,” Alex Lam, a Hong Kong lawyer, told the Wall Street Journal in April.”


This article makes the point of comparing Hong Kong to New York City:
 “New York City, with a population of about 8.4 million, has had over 28,000 coronavirus deaths as of May 18. Meanwhile, Hong Kong has officially recorded only four Covid-19 deaths, despite having 7.5 million residents.”

Masks are just part of Hong Kong’s story, but there is little doubt they play a role. 

I am, of course opposed to the official mandates that require masks to be worn. Certainly property owners and businesses have the right to demand masks be worn inside their building. Why would anyone refuse? (Only CovIDIOTS would) My view is simple, if wearing a mask can protect against virus transmission, even partially, then everyone should, as a matter of courtesy and self defence.

But of course courtesy is not a universally accepted trait and I’m constantly reminded of the number of stupid people that somehow exist. An anti-mask backlash ensued in social media, on the street, and in the news. Much of it was against mandates, I get that. But a good chunk of the online protests were just against the very idea of wearing masks. People trotted out “experts,” “peer-reviewed studies,” wacky YouTube videos, all sorts protestations exhorting people not to wear masks. I was frankly dismayed and annoyed. What motive could these people have? Why are they so determined to deny what reality seems to confirm every time a health care worker steps into a room with a COVID patient?


Its common for libertarian thinkers to be contrarian, so I’m not totally surprised at the social media reaction to masks. I just have trouble with their motive.

Maybe the official science does not totally support masks, but neither does it totally deny their effectiveness. The practice of wearing masks seems to have an effect. If nothing else it reminds people to take care. Enough people have died to prove this is a nasty, nasty and unpredictable bug. For me ALL LIVES MATTER! 


We’re going to have a second wave of COVID soon, I expect it to be worse, maybe far worse than the first. Most professional healthcare workers and virologists believe droplet and aerosol transmission is the main method the virus is transmitted. If wearing masks in any way lessens the impact of a second wave, then why not mask up? 



Friday, August 7, 2020

The new McCarthyism

In early July of 2020, in the midst of the COVID19 Pandemic, a letter appeared in Harper’s Magazine dealing with what was called “Justice and Open Debate.” Over 150 people signed the letter, most with ties to the literary world, writers, editors, commentators etc. Without mentioning the term, it complained about the creeping “cancel culture” in the press and media. Something I have written about before. I’m happy to see others consider it a danger too.


Later on in July, Bari Weiss, a writer, editor and former columnist for the New York Times, resigned with this letter to her employer. Both letters dealt with the “chill” that writers face when they write something that strays from the common consensus. This quote from the Weiss letter:

“..... standing up for principle at the paper does not win plaudits. It puts a target on your back. Too wise to post on Slack, they write to me privately about the “new McCarthyism” that has taken root at the paper of record.” BW 

What is this new McCarthyism, this cancel culture?

According to, Cancel culture refers to the popular practice of withdrawing support for (cancelling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive. [It's] generally discussed as being performed on social media in the form of group shaming.” Similar terms are “doxxing” and “deplatforming” Deplatforming conservative and right wing speakers at universities have been a common occurrence for a number of years now. One just has to listen and look at the drivel that comes out of most universities to understand why.


Of course it goes beyond just shaming for those shamed and one does not need to be famous to be affected. It damages careers, jobs, and ultimately its character assassination often unjustly and inappropriately delivered.


There is nothing wrong with publicly castigating the comments and the commentator for something said or written. But harmful comments need to be evaluated on their harm and degree of offence. Some comments do not rise to the level of public shaming, some do. Some are not offensive at all, but simply innocuous opinions that don’t really require a response. Of course there are evil people with evil and dangerous intent that need to be outed and ultimately marginalized. That makes it important to discover intent. Trying to be objective when evaluating speech and written work is all-important. But in many cases intent is ignored and the response of the evaluators is excessively harsh. Why?


In late July, while being grilled at a ridiculous anti-trust hearing, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, (Bezos testimony - this is great) commented that social media is a 'nuance-destruction machine' when asked about his views on 'cancel culture.' In other words, comments on Facebook, Twitter and the like, can be easily misinterpreted. Nuance disappears in the new world of triggering and micro-aggression. 


That’s part of the problem and the rest almost entirely involves identity politics. With that, civil discourse is stifled on all sides of the spectrum and that further polarizes individuals and groups.


Here is a troubling example. A former colleague and friend, who worked as a teacher for the largest school board in Canada, made what I consider an innocent post on Facebook. He commented that there was a “distinction between peaceful protestors in a just cause and violent rioters who undermine that cause.” This was related to the violent anti-racism protests occurring in the States at the time. After reading this, some irate and unknown to him, social justice warriors lodged a formal complaint against my friend to his employer. The employer instantly suspended him for possible “human rights violations,” banned him from school property, accused him of “discrediting the teaching profession,” put a formal reprimand on his record, and even threatened further investigation including possible termination of his contract. Naturally he was pissed to say the least, and fortunate to be close to retirement. And that’s exactly what he did, thankful to distance himself from those idiots.

I have studied and taught biology for over 40 years and have never encountered such low level life forms as those bits of slime that forced a career to end so undeservedly. Of course the idiot Board admins were no shining example of fairness and good judgment. These are the folks responsible for the education of our children and grandchildren, and that is what is most distressing.

This video puts forth a libertarian view of cancel culture:

 This is also a good link:

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Political Party Package Deals & Principles

Casting a ballot during an election is often a problem for libertarians and classical liberals. They would be the first to say its rare to find acceptable candidates advocating for the right mix of socially tolerant ideas as well as fiscal responsibility in government. Unless there is the rare appearance of a true Libertarian or libertarian-like candidate, the aforementioned voters would have to mark their ballots while holding their collective noses or abstain from voting entirely. It's a dilemma.

This problem is almost always because political parties offer package deals. What are “package deals?” They’re party platforms that are often a hodgepodge of inconsistent positions. Rarely do political parties hold principles consistent with strict social tolerance and fiscal responsibility, both important to libertarians. Parties cater to groups of people that have been influenced by prevailing social and cultural norms and popular economic beliefs. They also get labelled as being right-wing conservative or left-wing liberal in modern parlance.

As an aside I would challenge the common meaning of these terms “right-wing and left-wing.” For example, its common in the mainstream media to call communists and socialists left-wing, and fascists right-wing. But fascism is as authoritarian as communism in practice. Recall that the NAZI Party, the prototypical fascist party, were national socialists! How is that different from regular socialists? Really, its not.

So my preference, for the North American situation, is to define left-wing as authoritarian with huge government interference in all matters, and right-wing as the opposite, classically liberal and with little government interference in all matters.

But that’s not how it works in real politics. For example, many so-called right-wing conservative parties claim to be fiscally responsible (and rarely are), and advocate rights, but also would deny women access to abortion, and deny everyone access to recreational drugs. At the same time so-called left-wing liberal parties would tax and spend to support dubious social programs yet allow women the freedom to choose and also not penalize the recreational use of drugs. Of course libertarians and classical liberals share traits that tend to straddle both these supposed left and right positions as well as other issues. How does a libertarian choose?

Thats why it’s important to support libertarian parties, candidates and ideas. It's the ideas that eventually change the culture, and voicing the ideas in an election campaign and giving people the option to vote for them is often the only way people are exposed to them. Like this from the USLP:

USLP Presidential Candidate 2020

In Canada many ideas that had origins in Libertarian Party platforms and thought have already been adopted, even though Libertarians rarely make a dent in election results. Ideas like allowing Sunday shopping, equal rights for gay relationships, allowing beer to be sold in supermarkets, and legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, have all been part of past Libertarian platforms, and now in Ontario, and much of Canada they are par-for-the-course.

Yes, its true that in practice these ideas are not precisely in line with libertarian preferences, but thats the way politics works. Good libertarian ideas start off as a whisper that gets louder as the culture changes. Eventually the ideas are ripe enough for implementation when the time is right and then some unprincipled mainstream party runs with them and wins. This gradual shift in political discussion is the concept of the Overton Window, which I have used to create policy for the Ontario Libertarian Party.

Having said all that, the only way to influence people in our system, especially voters, unfortunately, is to get involved in politics and help construct those package deals.