Category Archives: COVID

Battles over AIDS privacy should block vaccine passports

AIDS was a very scary disease in the 1980s but gays successfully fought to keep their status private. The same reasoning should apply to COVID vaccinations.

It’s entirely possible that I am completely misremembering my 1980s and 1990s history, but I don’t think I am. If I’m correct about it, those battles should stand as a bulwark against an industry’s demands that people must show their vaccination status to take advantage of their services. (I’m talking to you airlines, stadiums, and any other place that demands proof of vaccinations.)

What I remember is that AIDS was terrifying when it first appeared because it was contagious and had a 100% mortality rate. Keep that mortality rate in mind as you contemplate COVID’s mortality rate in America.

The CDC’s numbers show that COVID has only a 1.8% mortality rate (577,857 deaths out of 32,446,915 cases). While I suspect both numbers are inflated because everyone who died with COVID was identified as having died from COVID and because the tests used to diagnose cases are way too sensitive, the relative number is probably close. So, again, we’re talking about a 1.8% mortality rate compared to the fact that AIDS started out more deadly than the Black Death in the mid-14th century.

What I also remember is that AIDS in America was most common in the gay community. This was so because of gay sexual practices (multiple partners, often in a single night, plus a form of sex that was more likely to result in blood flowing). That meant that gays were terribly worried that they would be stigmatized as modern-day lepers. That is, merely being gay would imply that someone carried a contagious disease with a 100% mortality rate.

This stigma meant that gays were denied health insurance, jobs, medical care, etc., simply because they were gay, irrespective of their actual health, Medical privacy suddenly became extremely important.

And here’s where my memory might be failing me but I don’t think so: To protect against a stigma that applied whether or not someone had AIDS, the gay lobby successfully mounted a campaign to make a person’s health status completely private. That health campaign was eventually federalized in 1996 as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (aka HIPAA).

HIPAA completely muzzles health care providers from sharing any health information about a patient without the patient’s explicit permission. The point is to ensure that, if someone has AIDS or any other contagious disease, that information is strictly between the patient and his healthcare providers. Employers don’t get to know. Family members, insurance companies other than the one currently covering the patient, airlines, sports stadiums, etc. — as to all of them, the information is in a lockbox and they don’t have the key.

While HIPAA applies only to health care providers because it was developed for a disease as to which there was (and still is) no vaccine, the principle behind it should apply globally. The way I see it, demanding proof of someone’s vaccine status should fall into the same “It’s none of your damn business” category as AIDS information or any other medical information. My body, my privacy — and you should not be able to discriminate against me because I opt for privacy.

If you are worried about COVID, get a vaccine, put on a mask, wash your hands, take your vitamins, and get out into the sun to boost your Vitamin D. You might also want to yourself that, if you’re under 60 and have no co-morbidities, you are as likely to die from COVID as you are to suffer from other unexpected life-snuffing-out experiences such as getting hit by a bus or lightning, dying from the flu, getting poisoned by bad canned food from China, getting shot by a criminal in a “gun-free” Democrat city, etc.

What you should not be able to do if you’re worried about COVID is force me to prove my health status to you. We already won this battle during the AIDS era and there’s no reason we should have to fight it again.

Incidentally, I’m not the first person to compare COVID to AIDS. There are reams of mainstream media and special interest videos on YouTube doing just that. However, they’re all just panic porn or Fauci reverence. None seem to be making the argument I’m making here, which is that the privacy fight of AIDS should apply with equal weight to a privacy fight about COVID vaccine status — and with the same outcome; namely, that it’s no one’s business but your own.

IMAGE: YouTube screengrab.

The message in the cold that I caught

I believe that there’s a lesson about masks — and what they’re really good at in today’s world — in the bad cold I caught.

I have a cold, a nasty, snuffly, sore-throat, stuffy-nose, I-feel-sick kind of cold. The same kind of cold that I’ve probably had 200 times before over the course of my life. When my nose isn’t stopped up, my sense of smell is perfect; my blood oxygenation is a marvel of good health; and I’m not running a temperature, so I’m not worried that this is covert COVID. It’s just a cold.

What I find interesting is the fact that I caught a cold in the first place. After all, for the past year, I’ve been practicing good virus hygiene: I work from home so I limit my interactions with other people and, when I go out, I wear an N95 mask (which I bought in a moment of prescience last February). I also keep my hands to myself and disinfect them when I return to the house or the car, always making sure to keep my hands away from my face until I’ve disinfected them.

So how in the world did I catch a cold which, last I heard, is a virus? I have two theories:

Theory Number One: Even an N95 mask will not block viruses or, at least, it won’t block all the particles that come my way. As many have pointed out, when people who work with drywall or other particulate matter take off their N95 masks at the end of the day, their faces under the mask are still covered with fine particulate matter. The mask blocks a lot but not all of the particulates. So, maybe that’s how I got this cold and could be how I’ll still manage to catch COVID, assuming I don’t decide to get a vaccine (and that’s assuming vaccine supplies arrive in my community, which they haven’t yet).

Theory Number Two: The N95 mask gave me the cold. This is my preferred theory.

Masks are meant to be used only once. The reason for that is cross-contamination.

Tear your mind away from the mask for a minute and think in terms of surgical gloves. You’re preparing chicken for dinner and you hate to touch the germy meat (uncooked, chicken is the most germ-laden meat), so you put on some nice surgical-style rubber gloves. When you’re done prepping the chicken, you don’t take your gloves off. Instead, you keep them on as you make the salad, prepare the potatoes, take the chicken out of the oven, and plate the food. After that, you carelessly strip off your gloves and leave them lying by the sink. You pick them up again after dinner, put them on, and use them to wash and dry the dishes.

The next day, you and everyone else in the family is horrifically ill with food poisoning. Should anyone be surprised? All that the gloves did was keep that E. coli away from your hands. In all other ways, they were the perfect vector for spreading the E. coli from the raw chicken to every other raw surface in the kitchen or on your food. The gloves were theater, nothing more.

That is exactly the case with the masks people wear. Ideally, we should all be going through N95 masks at a ferocious rate, several times a day if we’re not home. The way it should work is that, in the car, you disinfect your hands. Then, you put on a brand new N95 mask. You go into the grocery store and do all your shopping. When you get near your car, you strip the mask off and throw it away. You then disinfect your hands before touching anything (e.g., your steering wheel, gear shift, face, etc.). And you do this every time you put on and take off that mask over the course of the day. That’s the only way to prevent cross-contamination.

Of course, that’s not what anyone does. We all have our one mask. We carry it around in our car, purse, or backpack. We put it on and take it off constantly. When we’re with other people, they’ve done the same with their masks. In addition, many people have poorly fitting masks or they feel claustrophobic, so the mask repeatedly ends up below their nose, and then they keep pulling it up over and over.

The cross-contamination is non-stop and renders the masks completely useless — except, perhaps, to contain the big, gloppy droplets when someone with a cold, flu, or allergy sneezes or coughs, and even then that person handles the mask over and over after the fact. Those gloppy particulates are why, if you have a cold, it’s probably polite for you to wear a mask, as the Japanese and South Koreans have done for years.

I discovered the secret of preventing colds a long time ago: Whenever I return to the car, I disinfect my hands. Long before disinfectant mania, I had pump bottles of disinfectant in my car and I used it religiously. That’s because I figured out that the three big cold vectors in my life were shopping cart handles, door handles, and credit card readers (along with those icky pens). If I kept my hands away from my face until I reached my car, and disinfected before I touched anything, I stayed healthy.

Now, though, because of the whole mask thing, despite my hand disinfecting ritual, I’ve still got that mask collecting bacteria and viruses, and following me wherever I go,  It’s a snare and a delusion, as it is for everyone else. Perhaps next time I go to Costco, I’ll buy that big box of generic masks so I can end the cross-contamination game — except, of course, I know that those masks do nothing to stop the free flow of viruses, not to mention the fact that they’ve become a major source of pollution.

In my humble opinion, masks are not the solution; they are one of the problems.

Naomi Wolf nails it on lockdowns and totalitarianism

Naomi Wolf discovered the Bill of Rights during the Bush years and believes in it regardless of which party controls Washington, D.C.

Longtime blog readers know that I attended high school with Naomi Wolf. She was a year behind me, but a lot of her friends were in my year and, if my memory serves me correctly, she was in my English class with the brilliant Flossie Lewis (a teacher known to generations of Lowell students).

I was not a Naomi fan because, in honest retrospect, I wasn’t in her league. She was brilliant and beautiful, an airy-fairy hippie chick who managed to make it look easy to get good grades. She was never arrogant about her looks but she was arrogant about her brains and, quite sweetly, she put me in my place more than once.

Because I’d known her personally, I paid attention to Naomi’s career trajectory in the 1990s. (Note: I’ve never seen or spoken to her since high school.) I read The Beauty Myth and, for a brief while, became a bristling third-wave feminist. I got too busy with life to hang onto that notion, though, and then had children. Because I was then a Clinton supporter, I was envious of the fact that Naomi was in the Clintons’ inner political circle. Still, I was able to laugh when I learned that she had given Gore advice in 1999 about his color choices to make him more appealing to voters.

As I hewed right and Naomi remained on the left, I became less impressed with her, as I am with all leftists. She spoke out in support of burqas and vaginas, acknowledged that abortion is homicide but still supported it, constantly attacked George Bush, was anti-war and anti-Israel, and worried about chemtrails. In other words, a leftist crackpot, albeit a brilliant one. She really fell apart when she wrote a book about all the people executed in Victorian England for being gay, without understanding that none were executed. She’d misunderstood the historic records, which is apparently a fairly common problem for Naomi and is her greatest weakness. She’s brilliant but careless. It makes it easy to undermine all her positions, whether or not they’re good.

And it turns out that some of Naomi’s positions are good — at least her position about a free, constitutional society that honors the Bill of Rights. Beginning under the Bush presidency, because of the various anti-terrorism acts that went into effect then, Naomi suddenly became an ardent civil libertarian. Where Naomi gets huge points is that she has continued to be an ardent civil libertarian regardless of which political party holds sway in Washington, D.C.

Because of that intellectual honesty, Naomi has been horrified by the lockdowns and the whole package of power grabs in which both the state and federal governments have engaged, using the excuse of the Wuhan virus to do so. For that reason, Tucker had her on his Monday night show.

Frankly, Naomi didn’t say anything you and I haven’t been saying for a long time. What made it unique was that it was coming from a leftist. Suddenly she’s another Glenn Greenwald — an honest leftist fighting back against the totalitarianism coming from leftist governments. Also, because she’s really bright, Naomi said all these things well. I urge you to watch this video and take it very seriously, especially Naomi’s point about the very small window of time we have left to push back before losing our rights forever. I do what I can with my writing because that’s my one and only strength. What can you do?

The Wuhan virus has accelerated existing trends

The Wuhan virus has sped up existing processes, such as hastening inevitable deaths, changing the business world, and exposing the left.

You’ve probably read that 94% of Wuhan virus deaths happened to people who already had compromised health, whether from extreme age or diseases that were already putting stress on their bodies. Statistically, the members of that 94% cohort were more likely to precede the rest of us in death, even without the virus. What the virus did was to grossly, and tragically accelerate the process.

Learning the above data made me realize that the Wuhan virus has been an accelerant in many areas of American life. That is, it’s presence in America resulted in existing trends suddenly exploding into warp speed. Or for those of us who still remember long-playing records, the Wuhan virus took trends that were proceeding at 33 1/3 RPMs and ramped them up to 78 RPMs.

First, as noted above, the virus struck people who were fragile because of advanced age or ongoing health conditions, but weren’t facing imminent death, and killed them.

Second, the virus speeded up the move to telecommuting. I’ve been telecommuting since the early 1990s. The technology then was already good enough for me to do my legal research online and email my word product to my clients (all of which were law firms).

Over the years, it’s gotten even better. Back then, I had to get my court filings to the clients at least 24 hours in advance so that my clients could create the multiple hard copies needed for filing with the court and sending to opposing counsel. Now, the briefs never even become hard copies, while all the evidentiary documents are instantly scanned. Many courts don’t want paper filings. The valiant bike messengers who used to keep San Francisco legal practices afloat by whizzing through traffic to get last-minute filings to the courthouses became unnecessary.

I’ve just given you one anecdote about one field. However, the Wuhan virus suddenly turned the white-collar world into a telecommuting world. Take this story about Pinterest, one of the many entirely online businesses that realized that office space is an unnecessary expense:

Pinterest, a social-sharing site popular for pinning recipes, home inspiration and more, has canceled its large San Francisco office lease.

The lease was for 88 Bluxome, a high-rise complex to-be-constructed near Pinterest’s existing San Francisco headquarters. The company cited a shift to work-from-home due to the coronavirus pandemic in its decision. Pinterest will keep its current city offices, however.

“As we analyze how our workplace will change in a post-COVID world, we are specifically rethinking where future employees could be based,” Pinterest  Chief Financial Officer Todd Morgenfeld said in a statement Friday. “A more distributed workforce will give us the opportunity to hire people from a wider range of backgrounds and experiences.”

The termination fee for the 490,000-square-foot office space is $89.5 million, Bloomberg reports

In New York, it’s currently a big question whether the highrises that have stood vacant for months will ever fill again. This article notes that New York office towers emptied before — after the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic and after 9/11 — only to fill up again. Back then, though, telecommuting was not an option. (Even in 9/11, the technology wasn’t the same as it is today.) Also, back then, big-city mayors (at least, Democrat big-city mayors) hadn’t welcomed crime and intentionally driven out the middle and the monied classes.

Third, the virus speeded up the left’s antics. Antifa is nothing new. When Trump was elected, Antifa mobs started flexing their muscles in Berkeley and Oakland. Those were warm-ups. The dislocations of the Wuhan virus was like the starting gun for the Antifa mob. They were warmed up and waiting on the starting blocks for the signal. I’m willing to bet that what’s helped their virulence is the fact that a lot of people who previously had jobs are now getting money for free. This is especially true for teachers and criminals, both of whom have seen a diminution in their work thanks to the Wuhan virus:

Fourth, alternatives to disastrous public schooling have gotten a giant kickstart. Parents have been unhappy with public schooling for a long time, but it was always easier to keep the kids in the schools while hoping for the best. With schools refusing to teach, parents are opting for pods, tutors, and homeschooling. Many are discovering that their students are doing very well when they’re removed from the pathologies of public school. The ones who were beginning to run with a bad crowd aren’t, because there are no more crowds, let alone bad ones. Parents who were dismayed by leftist indoctrination are enjoying its absence.

Fifth, Americans got a really swift look at the Democrats’ dark heart thanks to its Zoom convention. If it hadn’t been for the virus, the convention as televised would have looked like an energetic, ebullient affair. We would have had endless crowd shots of visually diverse people happily screaming their support for Kamala and Biden. There would have been speeches complete with applause and balloons and all sorts of happy stuff.

For their convention, though, the Democrats opted for grim settings, dark colors, and small spaces. Not only was the convention visually terribly depressing, but the depressing speeches without applause lines became even grimmer. And then there was the fact that, without a visually diverse audience that the TV cameras could pan (Look at all the black people! Look at all the Hispanic people! Look at all the people with rainbow flags!), it became very obvious that the people leading the Democrat party are mostly old and white.

As the Republican convention showed, it didn’t have to be that way. Republicans opted for visuals that were expansive, bright, and uplifting. In addition, they chose diverse speakers, rather than the Democrats’ tried-and-true reliance on diverse spectators. Americans were treated to people white people, black people, Native American people, Hispanic people, handicapped people, and more, no longer on the floor cheering, but on stage speaking. And they didn’t speak about misery and hate. They spoke about an American unity premised on values and hard work.

I don’t think those fundamental differences in vision would have been so obvious with traditional conventions. That was something else useful that the Wuhan virus accelerant exposed.

Sixth, the Wuhan virus is speeding up the inevitable, and much to be desired, demise of American colleges and universities. These institutions have been ground zero of the leftist takeover of America. If you’re wondering why corporations not only paid obeisance to Black Lives Matter, but also paid millions in hard cash, it’s because their managerial ranks are filled with graduates of those colleges. All of the worst ideas in society today were incubated in American colleges. Readers know that I’ve been complaining for years about how much they cost, how little they teach, and how completely they indoctrinate.

Thanks to the virus, though, the colleges are afraid to re-open. They’re holding online classes, but refusing to give tuition refunds for all the social, hands-on, in-person experiences the kids aren’t getting. The refunds should also cover all the infrastructure costs the colleges and universities aren’t incurring.

Parents who see what their kids are learning are going to realize that they’re paying for nothing or for worse than nothing. Instead of encouraging kids to go to college, parents will start urging kids to get a job or learn a trade. They’ll realize that the knowledge colleges once had something of a monopoly on is freely available online.

The parents of boys will be grateful that their sons are no longer constantly at risk of being accused without due process of sexual assault. And all those parents who mindlessly believed that fake statistic that 1 out of every 4 college women will be sexually assaulted will no doubt be happy to have their daughters safely at home.

That’s six things that got sped up thanks to the Wuhan virus, and they’re all fundamentally important. Do you have more ideas?

Image: Speed (cropped), by Ton Boelaars. CC-BY-2.0.

Bookworm Beat 6/19/20 — the corporate pandering, Aunt Jemima edition

Can we still laugh at the leftist war on every American institution and value, including Aunt Jemima pancake mix? Read these memes and then you tell me.