Bullies on the playground

On the playground of life, there are always bullies. Sadly, though adults might be expected outgrow this insecure need to dominate others around them to feel safe, some never do.

Watching this play out at a national level has been something to witness. I am one of the many people who breathed a sigh of relief last Saturday as it became clear that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris had won the electoral vote. This was an indication, both from the popular vote and the electoral vote, that Americans are ready for the adults to resume control of our democracy.

Though clearly the bully-in-chief is not ready to vacate. No, indeed as stated prior to the election, the current occupier of the office had told us he would accept no outcome but victory.

Taken on a walk back in June 2020.

While some are shocked that he refuses to use any modicum of decency and responsible leadership, most of us expected this to happen. Not that we hoped for it, but it is not the shock that some journalists seem to express for this behavior.

Bullies do not concede because they cannot accept any reality that brushes them aside as irrelevant. The ego of a bully is fragile, driven by fear and narcissism. And yet: it has cowed many other Republicans into remaining quiet, or to deferring to being “within his rights” to investigate non-substantiated allegations of fraud.

They are scared. They know what can happen to non-loyalists. And they know that a peaceful transfer of power is likely given our constitution. Our institutions of democracy are not so fragile that we need to spend our energy worrying, tempting though it might be.

These days I need to carefully manage my news consumption, and limit it to daily doses such as “Consider This” from NPR. Otherwise, I can “go down the rabbit hole” of media. I realize that is unhealthy, and it does not serve me.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the nation, and rural hospitals are especially challenged during this time, I am sad that the obstruction of this transition only hurts Americans. While I am relieved that the adults will resume control of the office in 2 months, I also grieve the losses we will face in the meantime.

Stay safe and sane, friends.

Democracy has not (yet) failed us.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Stand down, Mr. President

As I write this, I balk at using the title “president.” Technically you hold this title, Donald, though you are anything BUT presidential.

I heard on NPR and in the local papers that you are coming to Rochester, Minnesota for a rally on Friday.

Why?

We do not support you. Please stand down, and stay away from our state.

The irony is not lost on us that you are visiting Rochester, the home of the Mayo Clinic, where outstanding medical professionals and scientists provide outstanding care to patients, while contributing to the advancement of science.

Scientists…you scoffed at a recent rally. Joe Biden will listen to the scientists, whom you have mocked repeatedly.

You are a disgraceful person, and you are not a leader. Your casual disdain for the health of Americans disqualifies you for this role. Science has saved your life, and yet you discredit it.

When you fail to protect the citizens to whom you have sworn an oath, you fail our nation. When your presence in our communities becomes a threat to public health, you must stand down.

Mayor Kim Norton of Rochester has expressed her concern about your visit, noting that the communities and states around the area are currently a hotbed for COVID and that your campaign will be bussing people in. This is irresponsible and reflects a disdain for health and for life.

The bulk of the COVID cases in the community of Bemidji in October were directly traced to your campaign rally in September. Your failure to take this illness seriously endangers all health care workers serving our communities.

We are so eager to send you home, Donald. You exhaust us. You anger us. You sow destruction and anxiety in the places you visit.

Minnesotans will speak loudly and clearly at the polls. I certainly hope you will keep your pledge not to visit the states where you have lost. If you never visit us again, it will be too soon.

Sincerely,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

I am not convinced

There are a few vaccine trials that have started in the United States in the Phase 3 stage. I tried to find out more about one of them that was covered by NPR about the COVID-19 Prevention Network. To be honest, I hoped to see some reports on the preliminary results of the Phase I and II parts of the trial.

I could not find any such reports on the website, or any indications of possible adverse effects that could occur in the phase III trial. I signed up to be part of the screening for the trial (and did not receive a confirmation email). There is not a research site near me, so that is probably why. I could not find relevant scientific information, even on the Clinical Trials.gov site where such reports are required to be posted.

COVID-19 prevention network

Quite frankly, I am skeptical. I believe that the only way we can get back to a “new normal” and something like a post-COVID-vulnerable era is to be sure that a vaccine is developed. And at the same time, I would not recommend that friends or family members sign up for a trial conducted by Moderna. According to my sources (which include Wikipedia), Moderna has has mostly unsuccessful trials. In addition, it has been criticized for being secretive and not publishing peer-reviewed papers for its trials.

This is a warning flag to me. It seems like a company that is good at raising a lot of funds, without a lot of results. Science takes time to advance, and it also requires collaboration, not secrecy, in order to work well.

What troubles me is that science that is rushed is not subject to peer review. In fact, I learned of a study in the Lancet that was completely suspect due to the methodology was retracted, and that was shocking given their reputation. I remember reading it and wondering how the data were compiled so quickly given the difficulties in aggregating  from different instances of EPIC and other health data systems. As it turns out, Surgisphere, the company that provided the data was not able to “show their work” and methodology to validate their conclusions.

If you plan to sign up for a trial, my advice is this: be wary. Ask a lot of questions. Make sure you have time to think it over before signing up. Do research on the company and their background. If you are not convinced, do not sign up. Have your own “friendly clinical researcher”* reviewer take a look at the materials you are provided. I am very sad to say that in this era of misinformation and disinformation being published, the public needs to be even more careful.

Wear your masks when in public spaces, wash your hands and take good care, friends.

-cristy@meximinnesotana.com

*And if I do have fellow clinical research colleagues reading these studies and coming up with different conclusions, I would love to hear your feedback as well. 

 

Why did it happen this way?

It did not have to happen this way. But a lack of competent leadership will do that. The U.S. has about a quarter of the worldwide COVID-19 cases. This puts “we’re number one” in a new light, no?

Daily cases July 16, 2020
Snapshot from Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center 7/16/2020

Don’t do it for yourself. Masks are not worn to protect you. Masks are worn to protect your community from small micro droplets that are released when you talk, cough or sneeze.

They don’t protect people completely, but they do slow the spread. And the main reason we want to slow the spread is so that hospitals are able to deal with the influx of cases. Also, maybe some of us care about human life and dignity.

My sister is a nurse. I don’t want her to have to deal with the results (y)our carelessness. Rural hospitals do not have the supplies that leaders claimed they would have. They must reuse the supplies they have. This is not a good situation.

Humans have difficulty with exponents. We think in linear ways, so these “hockey stick” curves work are not easily grasped. We saw this with the last big recession in 2008-2009. One minute it seemed things were fine: everyone was making money on flipping houses. And the next minute: financial disaster. Some saw the signs and warned us. But most people partied until they got laid off.

I get it. Or I try to be patient anyway.

Things don’t become serious until they are, well, SERIOUS. 

With nearly 14 million cases as of this writing, and almost 600,000 deaths so far attributed to this virus, one might think we could get a clue.

I know this is a rant.

I try to be more measured than this most days. My anger and disgust at the self-centered behavior I keep seeing, particularly in national leadership, is usually something I control. I’m a yoga teacher, for cripes sake. I meditate daily.

And yet.

My rage at incompetent leaders. Cannot. Be. Contained. Some days.

Wear your mask, wash your hands, keep your distances when possible. 

Your community thanks you for thinking beyond yourself.

***

cristy@meximinnesotana.com