The Newsletter: Issue #13

Welp, it isn’t Friday the 13th, but it’s Friday and this is newsletter issue #13, and I also am pretty sure I saw a ghost yesterday, so let’s call this all a sign. A sign of what though? Not sure.

We’ll get to the ghost in a minute…

Around the World

So … monkeypox, huh?

Monkeypox has largely taken the stage, while COVID and its variants continue to absolutely ravage the world. The United States has more than 7,000 cases of confirmed monkeypox, with too many more than that suspected to count. As usual, we never learn from our mistakes, and are making the same ones we made with COVID. Among them have included stereotyping a group, being slow to act, and allowing misinformation to rule the public sphere.

We just do not ever learn from our lessons. Frankly, it’s embarrassing at this point.

On the note of lessons and never learning, COVID transmission around the United States remains at remarkably high levels. The vaccines are slow to be updated, and a 9/11’s worth of Americans continues to die every week against a disease that we know how to deal with at this stage. At least half of them from states reporting are in people fully vaccinated – the vaccines need updating, and urgently.

And yet, of course, economic interests come first, and so the CDC is moving to decrease mitigations even further, at the same time that they just released a report on the long term health effects of unfettered COVID infection in children and adolescents. Spoiler alert: it ain’t pretty, and will – I believe – go on to be among the largest marks of shame modern America has to bear.

Nancy Pelosi spent $90M of your taxpayer dollars to take a trip to Taiwan. I’m still unsure why that happened. And basketball player Brittany Griner was convicted and sentenced to 9 years in prison out in Russia.

Great times, amiright?

Around My World

So my big news right now is that I’ve started a podcast! I’m pretty excited, and you should be too – that is if you can tolerate the sound of my caustic and irritating voice.

I’m still working out the kinks, so if you do have a listen and have any thoughts or ideas, shoot me a message and give me your thoughts.

You can get a new episode every Monday on your preferred podcast platform, it’s on all of them. And in the days that precede that, the episode is loaded to YouTube where you can also listen to it in full. Your choice, let me know what you all think.

To that end, here is next week’s episode, available now on YouTube… or you can wait until Monday to listen to it wherever you listen to your pods.

You Can’t Unsee This

Have any of you seen the Dark Brandon memes? I still don’t understand them, one bit; and yet, they’re hilarious.

It probably only makes it more the strange that a few days after they went viral, a lightning strike injured two people and killed two others right outside the White House. Now I’m not the biggest believer in heavenly things (as with me and everything: it’s complicated), but y’all need to start paying attention to the Lord already.

STFU Fridays

Last night, it was very loud in my house and my husband was working late. My 5 year old could not get calmed down so as I always do when this comes up, I took him for a drive. He knocked out in a matter of minutes, but when I pulled into my driveway I decided that I should sit and wait a few just to make sure he didn’t wake back up when I carried him in.

I put the car in park and grabbed my phone, then looked down at it and immediately saw a white figure move rapidly right past my car window out of the corner of my left eye. No one was in my drive, on my street when I pulled up; so at first I thought it was one of my kids.

But the hairs on my neck were standing upright, and I got chills. So I texted my kids, because I thought: what if someone was trying to break in? They confirmed it was not either of them, it wasn’t my husband and wasn’t my dad… and the security cameras we have around our house showed no one.

To make things all the more creepy, when I got out of the car, it smelled strange. Like a dentist’s office – like the gases that you can smell when you walk in as you hear drills running and dental bills racking up rapidly.

So I’m pretty sure it was a ghost.

Naturally, I took to social media to share my story, and I told everyone in the house. The consensus was that I was full of shit: either I’ve gone insane, or am heading there. All of that may be true, but the insulting ones were the people saying I was just making shit up.

Well to all of them I say: shut the fuck up. Shut the fuck up with your skepticism that a world beyond exists, or questioning the validity of my otherworld encounters. The same as the existence or lack thereof of some omnipotent being striking the White House with lightning is no more disprovable than it is provable. You find out when you meet that ultimate human destination – we all do; everything until then is speculation. If we can believe in good vibes and prayers, it stands to reason we can believe in an afterlife where some resonating energy of people persists. Even if it’s just that: energy.

If anything this is a sign that Spooky Season is just around the corner, and I for one am ready.

What If COVID Is The Beginning of the End?

Of course my big disclaimer here is that I am not a doctor and have no science degree. But, I do believe heartily in climate change, and I would wager a guess that the pandemic caused by SARS-COV2 and all of its variants are actually the beginning of massive and catastrophic climate change.

We know that the ability for SARS-COV2 to jump so easily from bats to humans, and to continue to adapt and mutate into variants, was accelerated by climate change. This is a fact.

But what if COVID was actually the climate crisis… kicking off?

The signs are everywhere. From the inability to get the pandemic under control, the constant mutations that are now spitting out at such a speed of rapidity, every day a huge new list is spewed out by the World Health Organization; to the other emerging co-infections that are wreaking havoc around the world (such as the hepatitis that is mysteriously causing liver failure in kids all over the world, many of whom had confirmed cases of recent COVID and adenovirus). COVID is now the most transmissible virus in recorded history, and it became as such in just under two year’s time. Ebola is also an epidemic again, with the second death confirmed today; animals are seeing their own viral outbreaks, including hemorrhagic rabbit disease, and bird flu has been spreading through out North America for a while now.

As if this weren’t enough, today China announced its first confirmed case of H3N8 influenza in a human. This sort of just flew under the radar of the news cycle, but anyone that knows anything about avian influenza knows that this is bad news. There are several types that, if they become more transmissible between humans, will obliterate half the human race. This is not hyperbolic either; at least one avian flu cropping up monthly now has a greater-than 50% mortality rate.

It seems like disease is spreading more far and widely than ever before, and it’s mutating and adapting to be able to jump from animal to human to animal again with increased speed as well. I’ve seen enough documentaries to know that this was to be expected as a piece of the climate changing – our ecosystem is changing, and in many ways falling apart.

But again… what if this isn’t just arbitrary and minor change, but rather the beginning of the catastrophe?

Last week, right before Earth Day, several scientists got a little blurb at the bottom of the news screen for chaining themselves outside their office building to raise attention to the pending doom the world faces if drastic measures are not taken. The United Nations then issued a statement saying we have 36 weeks to reduce carbon emissions from every major carbon emitter in the world; and this doesn’t even take into account the real thing not being discussed: methane from commercial farming. (Why is no one talking about this?) Then, on Earth Day, a Buddhist and climate activist lit himself on fire in front of the Supreme Court over the catastrophe descending upon us all.

And then, everyone just went about their weekends.

But what if these warnings are too late? Obviously they’ve mostly fallen on deaf ears, and the media cannot be bothered to report on them, or even when they do to do so with the urgency of the message contained. Don’t Look Up wasn’t supposed to be a How To manual, but it sure as hell seems that it is being treated as one. And what if we really are too late? Certainly, I’ve seen some scientists on Twitter suggest that at this point, it’s about survival. I know you’ve all seen some of those takes too. When we look at the way our government is handling COVID at this stage (well, all along)… maybe that’s true.

Maybe they even already know.

It’s a grim thought, but when you look at the somewhat-state of nature, post-apocalyptic world we live in today, it’s hard not to see this as the actual turning point. The point from which we realize there is no return. Through the last two years of this pandemic, the world has also seen bizarre weather phenomenon – hurricanes of untold strength, tornadoes where tornadoes typically don’t … land… I’m not suggesting a Biblical apocalypse (though I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if one day we see people shooting up into the sky, should God and the Rapture actually be what’s real).

I’m saying that what I see COVID as now is the beginning of the climate crisis that scientists have been warning us about for years. And just as the COVID variants changed in ways and on a timeline that defied the science as we knew it, the climate crisis and how it will play out has as well.

And it makes sense to me – a non-scientist. In the climate catastrophe, everything we knew about the empirical world changes. The true hubris of modern science leads us to believe we know exactly how and when it will all happen, but the truth is: we don’t. COVID reminds us of that. …that science really doesn’t know until after the fact. After it has data it can test with. Like the way economists don’t know a recession has occurred until after we’ve been in it for several months, couldn’t scientists not know the climate catastrophe has begun until after it’s had a while to observe and gather the data?

This certainly makes sense to me.

People always say “yeah, if we handled COVID this poorly, just think how we’ll handle climate change!” Except COVID is climate change. COVID has been made worse by the organic processes that result of a changing climate; just as the human behaviors that caused the changing climate have fed into the trajectory of the pandemic. But I think it’s time to delineate between climate change, and climate catastrophe. Between the slide to the end, and the end.

What if COVID isn’t the slide to the end? What if COVID is the beginning of the end?

The Newsletter: Issue #10

So much is going on in the world, and in my world: it’s a little bit of a whirl wind. I’ve been trying to post more in general, keep up on my social media following; and to keep up on this newsletter too. So let’s get to it.

Around the World

Somehow I got sucked into the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial. I’m never into these types of things – like ever – but then I see it streaming live on my For You page on Tik Tok, and I’m hooked.

One thing I think that I’ve noticed above all the details, the commentary, the cutting off the middle finger thing – all of it; is how authentic Johnny Depp is. Between his clarity on specific details of conversations, his bizarre hair dos, facial hair, and attire/accessories, to his remarkable pride in having quit using opioids, Depp – in all his weirdness and classically Depp deadpans – is unapologetically himself. Does that make sense? Regardless of the trial, or how it all turns out, that is what I take away from this.

Of course the other big obvious going on in the world is that COVID is going masks off-balls out, and yet the government is scaling back its efforts and funding in ways we probably never saw coming, no matter how bad things have been. (Just remember: it can always get worse, right?)

With variants upon variants cropping up that are just, to many of us, terrifying, it’s hard to really know what to believe. And yet, the doctors of Twitter and the mainstream media seem to have also flown the coop. Some, like Leana Wen from CNN, have gone batshit crazy, blocking major figures in public health, and even Marked by Covid (the largest national advocacy and lobby group for survivors and families of victims from COVID 19) from viewing and reacting to her comments on social media, all the while accusing the world of bullying and harassing her for having unpopularly eugenic views; while others, like Jeremy Faust, have decided it’s time to monetize.

I find the latter to be, frankly, stunning. This guy started writing a newsletter less than a year ago, and has fewer email subscribers than little old me, and yet he’s still thinking it’s a good time to grift. For $5 more a month than your favorite 99 cent game app on your iPhone, or regular emails from WaPo, you can get, as Faust describes it: “…after I publish, I realize that there are more considerations worth sharing for people who want to go deeper…”

Whenever I criticize this, people say “running a website isn’t free, Heather.” Sure, yeah, I definitely know that. As evidenced by the website I run, here. But if you are doing something for the sake of public health, monetizing a website that can be thrown together, maintained, used to host your email server, and give you a unique domain, for around $100 a year or less, when you’re a doctor that also makes high dollar media appearances… well, I don’t know… monetizing your very important medical information and advice seems sort of grossly capitalistic.

But America is a capitalism, and our healthcare is for those with the means only, right?

One more thing that is absolutely bananas to me going on in the world, of course, is this:

Around My World

It’s a bit of a shit show in my personal life. We really are not adjusting to the new house well at all. My kids and their entire communities are around 30-45 minutes away from home (depending on the day and traffic). This isn’t a situation where we are like the military, where moves and changes are expected and a part of life. We will continue to get our kids back to our old city to be with friends and their sports and social stuff, it’s just … really really stressful to juggle it all (and the cost of gas doing so).

Of course you guys all got my email yesterday about Hello Kitty Toaster coming back for a pop in.

Meanwhile, at our new house, I’ve recently discovered that across from our house is a home that I am 90% sure is occupied by squatters.

The people that own the home live in Texas for the bulk of the year. They just keep this home to use casually when they visit their adult children in town. Now we’ll save the fact that people that own multiple homes only for one to sit empty most of the year, while the rest of us scramble for any slum we can find to pay 46% of our monthly take home pay to live in, are making me more upset by the day, because these types of practices (their right, or not) have irreparably harmed my family, I still feel something of an obligation to … at the very least investigate.

I’m finding myself become more and more like Tom Hanks in The ‘Burbs, by the day. I’ve camped out on the living room couch for about two weeks now, waking up in the middle of the night, taking photos of the lights on, searching around the gated and upper-middle income community in which we live for any signs of something amiss… I even considered buying binoculars.

I’ll keep you guys posted.

You Can’t Unsee This

Presented without comment:

STFU Fridays

Again, with the masks.

I know, I know, but hear me out: even if you don’t give a shit about masks, you only care about yourself and what you feel in terms of protection, and you are just done with this whole pandemic…

… you could still keep your fucking mouth shut to those that still mask.

Monday the mask mandate for travel and public transportation was lifted by some dumb-dumb judge with no public health experience or expertise whatsoever, and the world cheered. (I wrote about it HERE.)

Within a day, accounts of people being shamed and bullied for still wearing masks cropped up.

The highest profile person I saw post about it was Trump’s Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, who has – oddly enough – become the voice of reason these last several months. You really know things are bad if any of Trump’s folks are the voice of reason, but we can save that conversation for another day. Adams went to board a flight, and a Delta pilot made some snarky comment about how he should take off his mask and breathe the fresh air. Adams posted about it on Twitter, and the anti-maskers went WILD on him.

Really? Just shut the fuck up. The fact that these people got what they wanted, but did not stop it there, indicates – at least to me – that it was never really about freedom or their personal choice. It was about an ideology and what the masks represent: weakness, fear, and probably a little bit of racism towards cultures in which face coverings are the norm.

Gross.

So to them, I say: shut the fuck up. Just shut your fucking mouth, and cough all over people all you want. You won! At least for now. We’ll all still be there to empathize with you when COVID bites you in the ass, because the data doesn’t lie on the promise that sooner or later, it will.

One more thing…

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Happy Weekend!