Friday, May 28, 2021

NIH preprint "booklet" study complicates the theories on how SARS-CoV2 coronavirus started sickening humans, and where; nature is even more complicated than we think


NIH Clinical Center, Bldg 10, March 2015

I am placing this article as a subject of my “book review blog”, as I have used it since mid 2016 after I moved the actual major book reviews to Wordpress.  This a long medical article from NIH in Bethesda, MD, from Sept 2020, not peer reviewed yet, but like a booklet, and possibly very important in understanding the origin of Covid.

It is titled “An evolutionary portrait of the progenitor SARS-CoV-2 and its dominant offshoots in COVID-19 pandemic”.  The authors are Sudhir Kumarm  Qiqing Tao, Steven Weaver, Maxwell Sanderford, Marcos A Caraballo-Ortiz, Sudip Sharma, Sergei L K Pond  and Sayaka Miura with .Meredith Yeager, Associate Editor.  It is a preprint also published by Molecular Biology from Oxford University Press.

The article claims that some genomes sampled from China in December 2019 are missing (up to three) SNV’s (single nucleotide variants) later found in Wuhan and in very early samples from the US in Europe. 

There is an article (called an “Expression of Concern”) in the Tumori Journal in Italy “Unexpected detection of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in the prepandemic period in Italy”, Nov. 11, 2020, authors Giovanni Apolone*, Emanuele Montomoli*, Alessandro Manenti, Mattia Boeri, Federica Sabia, Inesa Hyseni, Livia Mazzini, Donata Martinuzzi, Laura Cantone, Gianluca Milanese, Stefano Sestini, Paola Suatoni, Alfonso Marchianò, Valentina Bollati, Gabriella Sozzi, Ugo Pastorino. 

The paper discusses finding SARS-CoV2 antibodies in asymptomatic persons as far back as September 2019 in Italy.

Both of these references appeared in a comment in the Washington Post May 27 to an article by Aaron Blake in a featured “The Fix” column, “What a proven coronavirus lab leak theory would mean”.

I offered the following comment on the Post article:

"The NIH article dates back to Sept 2020 and seems consistent with the Italian article.  I've seen reports of the virus in wastewater near Barcelona as early as March 2019.  So China might be credible in saying it came to Wuhan from an outside country. Yet the Majoing Mine virus from 2012 is very close to the SARS_CoV2 virus. Generally, it sounds as though scientists working with the virus could have become infected without symptoms, and spread it inadvertently.  The virus might have mutated in an immunocompromised person much more radically than usual (maybe because of cross reaction to other viruses or toxins in such a person), leading to spread of virulent disease, and it could have happened more than once. This sounds like a science-fiction movie plot, I know, but it makes some sense.  (Yet this did not happen 30 years ago with other viruses in people infected with HIV, when it could have?)  Somehow we have to put every strain on the table and solve a big jigsaw puzzle to figure this one out." 

 I would add now that it sounds plausible that scientists from multiple countries, including Italy, Spain, and USA could have visited an area with a bat reservoir of a very similar virus, possibly the Majoing Mine in SW Chia, and could have developed trivial or asymptomatic infections which they then passed on to immunocompromised persons accidentally.

Someone offered a wisecrack comment that I work for China!  No.

The post has an editorial to consider alongside this information, “Who were the first coronavirus cases?” 

Of course, this enumerative discussion leaves a lot of loose ends, and we’ve really got to start connecting the dots and solving the puzzle. I will add, personally, that unusual "coincidence" seems to happen in nature more often than you would intuitively expect.  It has in my own life, to say the least. Sometimes it seems like the observer changes the result! 

And yes, I would count myself as a “conservative” in this assessment.

Monday, May 24, 2021

New York Times uses "3-D staging" to present the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921; also, looting of small businesses by leftist extremists in Chicago



The New York Times has a special “3-D” article (“Interactive Race Massacre Article" where you can tour the Greenwood section of Tulsa, OK just before the May 30, 1921 white-committed massacre of the “Black Wall Street”, article and 3-D art work by Yuliya Parshina-Kottas, Anjali Singhvi, Audra D.S. Burch, Troy Griggs, Mika Gröndahl, Lingdong Huang, Tim Wallace, Jeremy White and Josh Williams

The 3-D technique would appear to be useful in stage presentations of historical events.

The article describes the callousness of the attacks, which came from the air also, and the refusal of insurance to cover the losses.

The picture above is a Wikipedia embed of the actual fire, click for attribution. 

Chicago 1940 

I also wanted to share a Chicago Sun Times piece by Manny Ramos, “Small businesses hit by looting reflect on night chaos;  It was kind of like ‘The Purge’”.  This is the story of the losses and rebuilding by Tess Porter, who owns a style shop emphasizing black fashion in Chicago. .

Friday, May 21, 2021

Jake Tapper, CNN anchor, also a novelist with "recent history" based fiction (hard to pull off)


White House, Dec 1, 2007

Jake Tapper, a CNN anchor, is getting quite successful as a novelist, with the second novel in his series of “Charlie and Margaret Marder” mysteries.  The first one had been called “The Hellfire Club”, set in the 1950s, and the sequel now is “The Devil May Dance”, 336 pages, from Little Brown.

The plot gimmick is that Attorney General Robert Kennedy, in 1961, contacts Charlie to infiltrate the “Rat Pack” to see if the mafia has intentions against the president.  Presumably all of this would have to be wrapped up well before Nov. 22, 1963.

There was controversy over the idea that the novel refers to a song with the same title as the book, and there was concern over copyright or trademark, and Tapper had to reassure everyone the song is fictitious.  He also put such disclaimer in the book.  Now, I could compose a song for him and work out a deal.  (I’ve already offered such to the David Pakman show, which was thinking about a musical jingle theme song and then wondered about the legal mess that could result.)

But what’s more remarkable is the idea of constructing an involved historical novel about national security in the past with fictitious characters as well as real people (like Hollywood stars of the day).  I’ve been leery of the idea because, well, the past has already happened and is settled.

Janet Maslin reviews the book in more detail for The New York Times, and mentions some of the problems of the day, such as the military draft.  Kennedy did not believe we could do without it.

I wonder how long the (adaptation) movie deals will take to materialize, and who will do the screenwriting. This material may lend itself more to miniseries treatment (sounds like Netflix).  One particular film pops into mind, "Seven Days in May" (novel by Fletcher Knebel ("The President's Plane Is Missing", which I read in 1971 when I was working for the Navy Dept) and Charles W. Bailey II.  Of course we can wonder about "The Manchurian Candidate" (1962 version, Richard Condon novel).  

The Kennedy assassination event and the period to follow as in some ways uniquely traumatic for me. But that’s another discussion.

Monday, May 17, 2021

NYTimes booklet article on law enforcement overreach in "entrapping" possible "predators"

Kiggins Theatre-9


Michael Winerip offered a disturbing NYTimes “booklet” article on Aug. 20, 2020, “Convicted of Sex Crimes, But with No Victims”.  The tagline, “an online sting operation to catch sex predators snared hundreds of men.  What were they guilty of?”

The article describes the history of Jace Hambrick in Vancouver, WA.  He answered an ad from a girl that jokingly claimed she was 13 but that came from an adult website that supposedly screened its users for being 18 or over (he believed she was well over 18).  Now this gets into what caused COPA (Child Online Protection Act) to finally be declared unconstitutional in 2007  (and is probably an Achilles Heel for a similar law proposed now for Canada). 

When Jace went to meet the girl we has arrested, and the magazine article goes into the gory details of plea deals and sentencing and the judge’s own temperament.  And the quirks of Washington state law. The upshot is that there is too much political gain for pursuing these kinds of cases.

In fact, the case sounds like one that would have fit onto NBC’s series “To Catch a Predator” which Chris Hansen, in the mid 2000’s.  On that series, many of the john’s were foolish and not very reputable people.  So it was easy to build public interest (and ratings) in the series.

This case sounds a little different, if you read his mom’s blog.

The legal hooker might be whether the defendant really had a right to assume the contact had been screened.

He says he intended to have a conservation with her to encourage her to get off Craigslist.

Dr. Phil’s video shows him taking a lie detector test.

A fictitious screenplay called “The Sub” that I wrote and uploaded in early 2005 depicts a substitute teacher who helps a mature teen student make a fake id and gets arrested in a bar, and then the sub himself gets arrested and labeled a s.o.  At the time, the concept of the screenplay created a lot of controversy (Main blog, July 27, 2007 post).  There is some similarity to this case in that the subject perceived the teen as an adult.

Kiggins Theater in Vancouver WA, Wikipedia embed, click for attribution

Monday, May 10, 2021

"The Making of a Myth": Washington Post booklet on how a Texas security company paved the way to January 6


Landing at DFW 2018 

Emma Brown, Aaron C. Davis, Jon Swaine and Josh Dawsey provide a little booklet, “The Making of a Myth”, in the Washington Post May 9 (paywall).

This is a narrative of Russell J. Ramsland, Jr., who started his campaign in 2018 in a closed hangar in Addison, TX (near Dallas), in a windowless place where everyone turned in their cell phones first.

The article becomes a saga about Ramsland’s company, the Allied Security Operations Group, became a focal point on providing a want:  showing election fraud favoring Democrats existed when it probably did not.   The article maintains that this effort, with all the crazy litigation around “stop the steal” and the countersuits by Dominion Voting Systems, wound up driving the mob to the Capitol on January 6.

 There is interesting exposition on how, after the 2000 election and chad fiasco in Florida, there was great emphasis on automating machine counting, and I worked with those machines (on Windows XP) when I worked as an election officer a few times in the 2000's in Virginia.  Sometimes they could stall and have to be rebooted. 

I’ve embedded a video from Fox News with Lou Dobbs (who used to do Moneyline on CNN) from Nov. 17, 2020 and will remind the reader that there are “countervailing views” – Joe Biden is the president. 

Sunday, May 09, 2021

On Australia's Sky News, Sharri Markson previews her own book "What Happened in Wuhan", available Sept. 29, 2021

Rolling stock NO. A62 of Wuhan Metro Line 1


Sharri Markson, on Sky News Australia, discusses her new book “What Happened in Wuhan”, due on September 29, 2019, from Harper Collins, link. .

The video goes on to describe a 2015 Chinese document discussing the possible weaponizing of coronaviruses.  It also goes into some ironic  Chinese conspiracy theories.  

Sky News is a “conservative” channel, rather like US Fox News.  It vehemently opposed Australia’s lockdowns (especially in Victoria).

Picture:  Wuhan Metro line, Wikipedia embed, click for attribution 

Friday, May 07, 2021

"Origin of Covid—Following the Clues", long paper by Nicholas Wade

6VSB spike protein SARS-CoV-2 monomer in homotrimer

Here is a booklet-length paper on “Origin of Covid—Following the Clues", a long paper on Medium by Nicholas Wade, who writes for Nature and Science. The tagline is “Did People or Nature open the Pandora’s Box at Wuhan?” 

Wade points out the conflicts of interest, at WHO and even in the US NIH, which deter totally honest I investigation of the work going on in Wuhan Institute.

Wade discusses furin cleavage, comparisons to earlier forms if SARS, and some statistical observations that lead to the idea that the lab has something to do with it.

Spike protein monomer, Wikipedia embed, click for attribution. 

Update:  May 10:  Sky News has an interview with Wade.

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Is "self-help" more helpful to readers than fiction? A better investment of effort for authors? (Or vice-versa)


clearing after storm

Alice Cappelle gives her impressions on whether self-help books are a better use of a reader’s time than fiction.

The same question could be inverted and asked of authors. This even affects how authors treat social issues (especially "intersectional") in non-fiction.  Handbooks seem to meet readers "where they are" if they need to be "won over", in comparison to fiction, analysis, or (auto)biography. 

In general, she chooses fiction.  Stories can give us a lot more to work with in the transitions and philosophical conflict challenges people face (especially during political polarization).

Tyler Mowery and John Fish, in their video channels, have expressed similar ideas about the importance of stories.