Category Archives: Virus/pandemic

Hello, World: Meet Mark “The Mobilizer” Robinson-Instant GOP superstar!

A week in North Carolina politics is like a year anywhere else. (At least sometimes.)

This past week produced a bunch of memorable events. Topping the list was the overnight political superstar status that’s been conferred on the state by lieutenant governor Mark Robinson, who won the GOP primary to succeed term-limited Democratic governor Roy Cooper. Not yet settled is the contest for the most apt nickname for the firebrand Robinson: hot contenders in the Alliteration Division are Repulsive,” “Revolting ” and “Repugnant,” with polls saying that one’s too close to call.

Continue reading Hello, World: Meet Mark “The Mobilizer” Robinson-Instant GOP superstar!

A Mourning Meditation On Miserable Melancholic Multi-Millionaire Mitt


This map tracks the rise and fall of empires and once-great nations; it hangs on Mitt Romney’s Senate office wall.

As a Mormon, Mitt Romney presumably does not believe in Karma. But maybe, more informally, he could nod glumly at  the non-theological adage that what goes around comes around.

Or, more biblically, does he acknowledge that the scripture says we reap what we sow?

I have a feeling he does, now.

Or he should, at least when his money manager passes on the invoices for the $150K+ monthly he’s paying for 24/7 security for his four houses and his family. 

And what about when he ponders the fact that all his five sons have already quit the GOP.

(The figures come from published excerpts from the forthcoming book, Romney: A Reckoning,, by reporter McKay Coppins.)

Continue reading A Mourning Meditation On Miserable Melancholic Multi-Millionaire Mitt

Covid Diary: Karma is a Beech


The plane ticket said “Dayton, Ohio,” on American Airlines  flight # 5321, after a stop in Charlotte.

But I now realize that mentally it was really Florida airlines, the stop was in Orlando, or better, Pensacola, the plane was full of Floridians, and I was one of them:

Florida: The land of Pandemic, schmandemic. Phooey on “Don’t Say Gay” — now (& forever), it’s “Don’t Say Virus.” And if you talk about masks, remember some of us are carrying those new guns that don’t show up on TSA scans, and in Florida we stand our ground, shoot first and check our hearing aids later.

I wasn’t carrying, but may as well have been wearing mouse ears.

It was the same after I had actually landed in Dayton for a Quaker conference at Earlham, just across the Indiana line. The crowd there wasn’t huge, but the talk was continuous; and maybe contagious.

Then coming back, again all Florida, all the way: not one but three crowded airports, and two fully-packed airplanes. Plus I was  stuck in Charlotte for three hours (flight delay) and my gate area was jammed like Daytona beach in spring break (except everybody had more clothes on). I don’t remember any masks, and mine were safely stowed in a checked suitcase.

So I had a fine time with Friends in Indiana; but payback was waiting. I’d felt a bit punk at times during the conference, mostly ignored it. Once at home in Durham, coughing started, followed by general “flu-like symptoms”; not horrible, but not good. Tuesday I did a home Covid test: negative.

But by Friday, enough was enough. Went to Duke Urgent Care; arrived 20 minutes before they opened, got in line.

Once inside, their efficiency was impressive: you’d almost think they’d been through this drill 2200 times this past week.

(But that’s an exaggeration; it’s the weekly number of reported cases for the whole state, as of a few weeks ago. And reporting in the state is, choose one:


___That is SOO Last Year

___Don’t give a flip

___All of the above. )

None of this snark applies to the urgent care folks: they took me seriously, knew what to do, and got it done: stuck the swab stick up my nose; this time it came back positive. Next they took blood to see if it showed a clot coming on (no sign of one, thankfully). Finally sent me off to the pharmacy to get some new pills, aimed at warding off “complications” to which geezer patients are more vulnerable.

The pills are called WHAT??

EUA molnupiravir??

Try saying that three times quick. I think it must have been a finalist in the Most Unpronounceable New Med of the Week; maybe the winner’s company gets to charge more?

And I’m taking EIGHT of these red babies every day for five days?

Yes, and isolating too, though they told me if I feel better I can count the five days since last Tuesday. So I’m better enough today to be crabby, but am staying home anyway.

And I also noticed this knee-slapper in today’s Washington Post:

Tally of covid-19 cases after CDC conference climbs to 181

By Lena H. Sun

The tally of people infected with the coronavirus after attending a high-profile Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conference in April has risen to at least 181, the agency reported Friday. No one was hospitalized.

The CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service officers and alumni — the disease detectives deployed to identify and fight outbreaks — met April 24-27 at an Atlanta hotel. The conference drew 1,800 in-person attendees, the first in-person Epidemic Intelligence Service gathering in four years. Like many conferences, it was crowded, with much face-to-face contact, many events held in small rooms and lots of socializing, according to attendees.

About 70 percent of participants who responded to a CDC survey said they did not wear masks at the event.
The outbreak of covid-19 cases at the conference underscores the persistence of an evolving and highly infectious virus. . . .

[NOTE: Rumors that the next Epidemic Intelligence Service conference would be held in Florida could not be confirmed . .. .]

Good Advice For the Day & The Season

[NOTE: I have no secluded cabin for refuge, but have long hunkered down at home in a manner close to what’s described below. Had two vaxx and three boosters. The beast has missed me so far, but with several near misses; it has hit many friends, and my close family more than once, including just last month. When I go out (not often, mainly shopping, or an occasional furtive meal) I mask a lot. Maybe my biggest advantages are having sort of figured out ZOOM, and being very introverted. With an invisible IV paranoia drip.]

Put your masks back on, please

The Washington Post

Opinion by Kathleen Parker
—  October 28, 2022

CAMDEN, S.C. — There is a tradition in my family of retreating to the woods when illness strikes.

One of my Revolutionary War forefathers, Tarleton Brown of Barnwell, S.C., had to abandon the siege of Augusta in 1781 when he contracted smallpox and returned home, such as it was.

The British, alas, had preceded him, reducing his family’s home to ash and leaving both his father and little brother dead. His mother and sister miraculously escaped both the king’s army and “the Indians,” as he put it in his 1862 memoir, “Memoirs of Tarleton Brown: A Captain of the Revolutionary Army” — a 28-page pamphlet published in New York and “Written by Himself.” Continue reading Good Advice For the Day & The Season

Monkeypox — New Virus In Need of a Response & A New Name

Monkey pox is a reminder — we need to prepare for emergent diseases

World Health Organization director may come under fire for declaring monkey pox a global health emergency, Gwynne Dyer writes.

“COVID-19 is broadly viewed as being a ‘once in a lifetime’ or ‘once in a century’ pandemic. Modelling work based on historical data shows that this is not necessarily the case,” reported the epidemiological startup Metabiota last year. That’s because “the frequency of ‘spillover’ infectious diseases like COVID is steadily increasing.”

It’s increasing because quick-killer pandemic diseases only started thriving in human societies when we began living together in large numbers. Lethal viruses and bacteria probably always “spilled over” into human populations from time to time, but if they infected little hunter-gatherer groups of 50 or 100 people they just died out along with the victims.

The natural home of those diseases were birds and animals that lived in big flocks and herds: lots of potential victims to sustain the transmission. But when human beings started living in big civilizations and domesticated some of those animals, the pandemic diseases happily transferred across and thrived among us, too.

For most of the history of civilization, successful transfers didn’t happen all that often: big new killer pandemics only came along every 500 years or so. However, now that there are eight billion people and millions criss-cross the planet every day, the disease vectors have more opportunities to spread and they move much faster.

At the moment, according to Metabiota’s calculations, it’s even odds that we will have another new pandemic on the scale of COVID-19 in the next 25 years. More precisely, they estimate the probability of another global pandemic as deadly as COVID to be between 2.5-3.3 per cent each year. It could even arrive next year.

Monkey pox is not that disease. Despite its rapid spread to so many countries, the majority of cases are men who reported intimate sexual contact with other men. There is an existing, fully effective vaccine for it (the same one that eradicated smallpox, which no longer exists in the wild). And hardly anybody dies from it.

So WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had some explaining to do when he broke a stalemate at his “emergency committee” and decreed that monkey pox is a global emergency.

He explained that it was to speed up research on “the new modes of transmission that have allowed it to spread,” and to press countries to use vaccines and other measures to limit the numbers infected. These are all sensible things to do, but they really don’t justify declaring a global health emergency.

What he carefully avoided saying is that he really intends it as a reminder of our peril and a spur to action.

Ghebreyesus is manipulating the system in a well-meant attempt to persuade the world to build better systems for containing dangerous emergent diseases in general, and he may come under serious fire for doing so.

But you can see his point, because we haven’t learned enough from our harrowing experience with COVID.

Just spending one-hundredth of what the world spent on fighting COVID to improve global readiness for dealing with the next pandemic — building local vaccine production facilities, regional labs with good analytical capabilities, and stronger reporting networks — could spare us another two years of the misery and loss we had with this pandemic.

If that’s Ghebreyesus’s real goal with this monkey pox business, it’s all right with me.

New York joins calls for the WHO to rename monkeypox over its ‘painful and racist history’

By Euronews and AFP — 27/07/2022

Image from Stanford Medicine

City authorities in New York on Tuesday called on the World Health Organization (WHO) to rename the monkeypox virus, a name that is seen as stigmatising and may cause patients to isolate themselves rather than seek care.

“We have a growing concern for the potentially devastating and stigmatizing effects that the messaging around the ‘monkeypox’ virus can have on these already vulnerable communities,” New York City Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan wrote in a letter to WHO’s Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The latter had already mentioned this possible change in mid-June when Tedros said the WHO was “working with partners and experts from around the world on changing the name of the monkeypox virus, its clades and the disease it causes”.

While the WHO said at the time that an announcement on the name change would be made “as soon as possible,” there have been no new developments in the month since.

On Saturday, the global body declared an international health emergency over the outbreak, calling it “extraordinary”.

According to the city’s Health Commissioner, concerns have been raised about “the painful and racist history within which terminology like this is rooted for communities of colour”.

In his letter, Vasan recalled the negative effects of misinformation during the outbreak of the AIDS virus (HIV) or the racism suffered by Asian communities after the COVID-19 pandemic, which then US president Donald Trump referred to as the “China virus”.

“Continuing to use the term ‘monkeypox’ to describe the current outbreak may reignite these traumatic feelings of racism and stigma — particularly for Black people and other people of colour, as well as members of the LGBTQIA+ communities, and it is possible that they may avoid engaging in vital health care services because of it,” Vasan added.

Anyone can get monkeypox, but since its emergence in Europe and the United States, the virus has been spread overwhelmingly among men who have sex with men.

New York is the most affected city in the US in terms of the number of current cases, with 1,092 infections detected since the beginning of the epidemic.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been 19,188 reported cases globally in 76 countries as of Monday.

Of those cases, 18,861 infections were noted in countries that have not historically been affected by the virus.