I found this meme on a Viva Frei video. (The link is to give credit; I'm not asking anyone to watch the video, which is an hour and 40 minutes long.)

I'm leaving it as it is for now, for those who enjoy puzzles. What's going on here? (I'll explain later.)

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, November 29, 2022 at 11:44 am | Edit
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I'll admit I'm astonished that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s shocking book, The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health has not generated more interest, especially since at the time I first wrote about it, the Kindle version was only $3. It's $15 now, and the hardcover close to $20, but I'd say it's still worth it at that price, especially if you can't get it from your local library. Or you can do what I do: put it on a watch list at eReaderIQ; for a brief time yesterday it was only 99 cents. At that price I would have bought copies for a few friends—if I hadn't been away from home for the whole day. I find the eReaderIQ service worth supporting, by the way: it really helps with playing Amazon's little games.

I understand that people might be skeptical, whether, as in my case, from distrust of the Kennedys in general, or from a reluctance to question authority—especially when questioning authority can get you shoved into a "right-wing extremist conspiracy theorist" bucket. If you have the courage to look around outside of your comfort zone, however, I predict you will find this book worth your while.

Here are two short (about 5 minute) videos from my current favorite Left Coast liberal academic scientists, whose genuinely liberal credentials I don't doubt, albeit they also sometimes find themselves flung into the above-mentioned bucket when their search for truth leads them in certain directions. Both videos contain Bret's and Heather's evaluations of the book, and more importantly, their evaluation of its documentation. The videos do well at double speed if you want to save time. Spoiler alert: Bret and Heather are even more concerned than I am, with better reason and authority.

This one is just over five and a half minutes long.

And this one four minutes.

As I said in my review of the book, if what Kennedy claims, with such extensive documentation, is true, why are Dr. Fauci and a whole lot of other people not in jail? If it's not true, why isn't Fauci suing Kennedy for libel? I expected outrage on all sides, refutation, corroboration, investigation.

I did not expect ... silence. That silence on the part of investigative journalists, academic researchers, and medical professionals almost scares me more than the book.

I understand that people's lives are too busy for them to want to tackle a long, dense non-fiction book, so I don't urge you lightly to read The Real Anthony Fauci. But for your own health, and especially for your children, if you can make time to read this book, or listen to it in audiobook format, it has my strongest recommendation. The story is as riveting as it is frightening, and I was surprised at how quickly I finished it. I do recommend the Kindle version; the primary reason I also bought the hardcover was the knowledge that Amazon can make a Kindle book "disappear" at any moment, even from my physical e-reader. Most of the time I'm more comfortable with physical books, but in this case I actually find the digital version friendlier to the eyes. Don't be put off by the fact that the e-book format appears to double the page count (934 vs. 480).

Those who know me know that I do not like horror stories. Even during my Girl Scout days I was not a fan of ghost stories around the campfire. The Real Anthony Fauci is a horror story par excellence, because most of the others are about situations we are very unlikely to experience, and this one has already happened to us—we just didn't recognize it. Nonetheless, I am, as Bret suggests, hopeful: Information is power, and this book has answered questions that have troubled me for decades.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, November 21, 2022 at 11:28 am | Edit
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The big news is—there is no big news.

Nicole, now a tropical depression, is marching through Georgia rather more peacefully than General Sherman did. It slipped by to the west of us, and although we were theoretically in its grip for much of yesterday, it might have been an unnamed, minor storm, or possibly the effects of a hurricane passing far off at sea. The rains gradually diminished as the day progressed, and only an occasional gust of wind reminded us that something meteorological was going on.

We even went out for lunch in the middle of it all, and noticed only a slight diminution in traffic, although some places were still closed. Not too surprisingly, these were mostly government, church, and medical facilities, institutions not known for being able to turn around on a dime and say, "Okay, it's all good, let's re-open."

There is still risk of flooding, as runoff from already-saturated ground fills already-flooded rivers, but in our own neighborhood we travelled on dry ground the roads that had been so devastatingly flooded by Hurricane Ian.

Were this a century ago, my relatives who lived in Deland would likely have thought it a pretty ordinary day, at least until they heard news from my great-grandfather, the mayor of Daytona Beach. That city, along with others on the east coast, took some significant property damage, though no loss of life.

We are grateful.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, November 11, 2022 at 6:01 am | Edit
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Nicole, having become a hurricane long enough to harrass the western Bahamas and southeast Florida, made landfall around 3 a.m. just south of Vero Beach, a little further north than we expected. I had been awakened a few times during the night by wind gusts and the steady sound of rain. When I got up for real around 4:30 (normal for me), it was clear that our decision to take in the wind chimes, orchid, and trash cans last night was the right thing to do, but everything else was fine.

Of course the day is not over yet; Nicole is currently around Davenport (where we ourselves were on Monday for a friend's birthday party), and heading our way at about 14 mph. But it's now a tropical storm again, and although we are still warned of gusts up to 70 mph, sustained winds where we are look to be less scary than predicted. (I'll take that!)

I greatly enjoyed a few early-morning hours on our back porch, watching what we've had so far from the storm. Because our porch faces west, and the winds were largely from the east, I enjoyed a safe haven with barely an occasional light breeze, while watching the trees whip around somewhat impressively.

Once again, the biggest damage to our neighborhood is likely to be flooding, but we haven't ventured out yet to investigate.  Power outages usually come after the storm has passed, so we're not out of the clear there by any means.

Many thanks to those of you who have expressed your concerns, and offered their prayers.  I expect to do at least one more update, more if anything untoward happens.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, November 10, 2022 at 7:40 am | Edit
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Nicole is not a hurricane yet, but looks to become one in the Bahamas, and come on shore around Ft. Pierce in the early hours of tomorrow morning, aka the middle of the night tonight. I fully expect to be awakened at least once by our ear-splitting weather radio, hopefully for nothing more serious than that for which it awakened us during Hurricane Ian, and again two days ago.

We were briefly out of "the cone" but are currently back in it, as the predicted path shifts. Of course, the area of strong winds is a lot broader than the cone, and we've been feeling its rain for days. They are still predicting peak sustained winds of 45-60 mph with gusts to 75 mph, which is a "strong tropical storm." Nicole should be off our west coast by 1 p.m. tomorrow, and I'll give an update when I can.

There's a reason we hadn't packed the generator up from the last storm. I hope we don't need it, but with the storm coming straight at us, the ground once again completely saturated, and rivers and lakes still at flood level or very close....

We're still pretty much prepared from last time, though we're waiting till tomorrow to bring things in from outside. My concern when I awoke this morning was for an appointment I had this afternoon at 3 o'clock. Based on today's weather, there was no reason I shouldn't have been able to take it: there's almost no wind yet, and the rain has been steady but not heavy. However, when it was clear that many businesses were deciding to close early, I chose to go in the morning as a "walk-in." I say I chose, but really, I didn't feel I had much choice. Call it a nudge from God, call it hyperactive anxiety—but I couldn't rest about it, and decided I might as well wait for hours there than be unproductive at home. As it turned out, they were able to fit me in quickly and I even made it to the library to pick up The Bellmaker, before it closed at noon.  It was definitely the right decision.

Now we wait, hoping that our decision to wait till morning to batten the final hatches turns out to be a good one, too.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, November 9, 2022 at 7:13 pm | Edit
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In George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, most people agree that the climax of the story is when Winston finally breaks under torture and betrays his lover, Julia.

Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don’t care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones. Not me! Julia! Not me!

I've written before that I believe the climax to be elsewhere in the book, but Winston's failure here is also a powerful and decisive moment. We may hate Winston for his betrayal and despise him for his cowardice; perhaps instead we sympathise and just feel sad that he has been so completely broken. But how often do we ponder the truth that has been rammed home to me as we are once again directly in the sights of what threatens to become a hurricane.

We are all Winston.

I can keep my spoken and deliberate prayers under control for the most part. I can easily pray that God will diminish, disorganize, disperse, and divert the storm to wherever it will do the least harm. That's my standard hurricane prayer. But I can't deny that at another level, my heart is crying,

"Send it somewhere else! Not here!"

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, November 9, 2022 at 7:11 am | Edit
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I think our weather warning system is broken. Or in a different time zone. There was absolutely no reason to awaken us with an ear-piercing blast from the weather radio, telling us that we are under a tropical storm warning. Yes, it's important for us to know that the prediction for what is currently Subtropical Storm Nicole looks to be worse for us than it was for Hurricane Ian. Many places around here are still flooded from the previous storm. And it's important for us to know that Nicole will probably reach hurricane strength before landing, and currently looks to pass straight over us as at least a tropical storm. I needed to know that, because I was not expecting anything more than a little wind and rain, which is not unusual for this time of year.

But there is absolutely nothing I needed to know about the storm that couldn't have waited a few more hours. My ears are still ringing and my head aching from standing with the radio in my hands, staring sleep-stupidly at the controls, trying to figure out how to shut it up. An event worthy of that kind of warning ought to be more immediately life-threatening, not about a storm that isn't expected to hit land for another two days.

Besides, I'm done with hurricanes for this year. It's mid-November! I know, that's technically still hurricane season, but quite unusual.

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, November 8, 2022 at 5:09 am | Edit
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There are a number of people—I certainly am one of them—who strenuously object to being unwilling medical guinea pigs in the matter of the COVID-19 vaccines.

I'm all for medical research, worked as part of a medical research team, and have been a willing human guinea pig in a few experiments myself. This work, when done carefully, knowledgeably, and ethically, is an essential part of scientific and medical advancement. But the ethically part is essential, and I don't think it's ethical to "enroll" masses of people in experiments for which there cannot possibly be adequate knowledge of the risks, and thus they cannot possibly give "informed consent." Plus, when there is no documented, adequate control group, not to mention that the experimenters have done their best to make sure there cannot be an adequate control group—well, then you've lost good science as well as ethics.

You're thinking I'm talking about the COVID-19 vaccines here, and I am—but that's not all. I don't know how many times we've been unknowingly subjected to these unethical experiments, but I do know that it has happened at least two other times in my lifetime.

Aspirin used to be the standard, go-to medication for children, even babies, with fevers or discomfort. I vividly remember the doctor recommending alternating doses of aspirin and acetaminophen when my infant daughter had a stubborn high fever. This was in the early 1980's, and for most people it worked just great. However, there appeared to be a possible correlation between aspirin use in children and young teens, in combination with a viral illness (often chicken pox), and a rare but sometimes fatal condition called Reye Syndrome. We had many doctors among our coworkers, and had no reason not to believe what they told us at the time: The decision to tell doctors and parents to avoid giving aspirin to children was a deliberate, national experiment: They thought aspirin caused Reye's Syndrome in children, but they couldn't prove it, so they hoped that if aspirin use went down dramatically, and so did the incidence of Reye, their point would be made. The disorder did, indeed, retreat significantly, whether through causation or merely correlation is still unknown. The cynic in me insists on pointing out that, whatever the stated reasons for this massive non-laboratory experiment, and whatever good might or might not come of it, one clear result was that a cheap, readily-available, and highly effective drug was massively replaced by one still under patent. The patent for acetaminophen (Tylenol) did not expire until 2007, and Tylenol was still reeling from the 1982 poisoned-Tylenol-capsules scare. Practically overnight, and with timing highly favorable to the pharmaceutical industry, Tylenol became the drug of choice for a large segment of the population.

The next example I remember of such a huge, non-controlled experiment happened in the early 1990's, and was not a drug but a parenting practice: the insistence by the medical profession that all babies never be allowed to sleep on their stomachs. Sleep position recommendations have flip-flopped several times over the years. The professionals never think it safe to leave that decision up to the babies and their parents, they just keep changing what it is that is "the only safe way for a baby to sleep." Personally, I think "whatever helps the baby sleep best" is almost always the right choice. (But I am not a doctor, nor any other medical professional, so make your own choices and don't sue me.)

Early in the 1990's the thought was that back-sleeping might reduce the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Indeed, there was a decline after the "Back to Sleep" push went into effect, though once again the experiment was unscientific with no significant control group. Certainly there were still parents who put their babies to sleep on their stomachs, but if there was any widespread study of them I never heard of it, and indeed the data was necessarily corrupted because the pressure was so great not to do so that few parents talked openly about it. And doctors, even if they were well aware of the advantages of stomach-sleeping, could not risk mentioning them to their patients. I remember vividly the one young mother who, months later, confessed to the pediatrician that her son had always slept on his stomach. The doctor laughed, saying, "Of course I knew that! Look at how advanced he is, and look at the perfect shape of his head!" But stomach-sleeping is still very much a "don't ask, don't tell" situation.

These massive, uncontrolled, and to my mind unethical experiments on the human population are justified in the minds of many because, after all, they "did their job." Deaths from Reye Syndrome, SIDS, and COVID-19 have all fallen, so who cares how we got there?

Well, I care—and so should anyone who believes in the scientific method, the Hippocratic Oath, and open, honest, and ethical research.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, October 29, 2022 at 6:09 am | Edit
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The idea that those who criticize Fauci are inherently on the right is insane and really makes the left look like a bunch of baboons, frankly, and you know, we're not—not all of us.

I think both left and right can smile at that. It is one of my favorite quotes in this excerpt from DarkHorse Podcast #143, though it's just one small part. The larger topic is the capture of our most venerable institutions, such as journalism, academia, and science, by ... Something. Bret and Heather don't have a name for it, but find it has become too obvious to be ignored. They leave out government, but maybe that goes without saying.  (20 minutes)

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, October 11, 2022 at 8:36 am | Edit
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Our internet came back while we were at church this morning. It took much longer to be restored than power did, but I know which one is more important! I was also impressed that it came back without our intervention—we didn't even have to reboot the modem. We weren't suffering, just burning through data by using my phone as a wi-fi hot spot, so it's good to have the house wi-fi back.

Our water supply has been fine throughout, but since the beginning the city has asked residents to cut down on our water use (read: don't flush so much, take short showers, limit laundry), and we're still doing that. We have a wonderful sewage treatment program that produces water that's good for irrigation and washing cars, and it's so popular they still have to limit its use during times of drought. But these are not times of drought, and when the big storage tank is full, it is full, and the overflow goes into the Little Wekiva River. It's perfectly safe—except that the last thing the overflowing Little Wekiva needs is more water.

Here's a video Porter took early this morning, showing both that the flood waters have receded considerably and that they still have a long way to go. To reiterate: this is not our street, but a couple of blocks away.

In between all of the cleanup (which for us is a LOT less than it might have been), we've ventured out a few times: Friday, to Outback for dinner with our neighbors; Saturday morning to church to help clean up the campus (Porter), Saturday afternoon to one of our very favorite museums, the Morse in Winter Park. There we encountered our first evidence of flooding outside of our neighborhood: nothing that hindered our travel, but water was bubbling up through a manhole on one street. Today was a completely normal Sabbath, except that the choir may have spent a little more time than usual exchanging stories.

I've said for a long time—at least since Porter had a job in New Orleans after Hurrican Katrina went through—that you never know what kind of leadership you have until hard times come. It's like insurance: it doesn't matter who your company is, or what kind of policy you have—as long as you don't need to make a claim. I'm very pleased by how our local government and utilities responded in this crisis.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, October 2, 2022 at 7:07 pm | Edit
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WE HAVE POWER!

It actually took us a little while to realize that power had been restored: we have to disconnect from the grid when we connect the generator.  Given what you saw in the video in this post from yesterday, I am very impressed with Duke Energy.  It seems many of us learned a lot from the Year of the Hurricanes (2004).  The infrastruction is more robust, and better response systems are in place.  It's hard to believe we were little more than 24 hours without power.  We've now entered that blissful and blessed period when we have heightened awareness of and gratitude for the amenities we rarely otherwise contemplate.

Speaking of blessings:  We had been anticipating three days, perhaps much more, of miserable, hot, humid weather, with no air conditioning, non-working fans, and un-functional pools.  Instead, Ian brought with it a most amazing respite from the temperatures-still-in-the-90's weather of last week.  It was 63 degrees when we awoke this morning!  Now that the storm is gone, the temperatures are expected to rise again, but only to the 80's for this week and with much lower humidity, they way.

Time to get on to other work.  We're still without internet, and I don't want to overdo the phone wi-fi hotspot usage.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, September 30, 2022 at 11:38 am | Edit
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Having watched the sensationalized devastation caused by Hurricane Ian, and seen too much of it even in our own neighborhood, it's time for some good news.

What I love best about hurricanes is that neighbors come out and talk to each other! They're walking around, assessing the situation, they're outside cleaning up, they check in on people, they help each other ... and we re-discover that most people are really nice.

Guess what? Not one person of all those we met on our walks asked us about politics. And absolutely no one asked if we were vaccinated.

I wonder why one kind of emergency (pandemic) makes people nasty, suspicious, and exclusionary, while another (hurricane) brings out the best in us.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, September 29, 2022 at 7:21 pm | Edit
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We lost power just after I published the last post. Here you can see why we are not expecting restoration any time soon. This is one street downhill from us, houses that back up against the Little Wekiva River, which in this storm shattered by 12 inches its previous crest record of 30'.

You can see how these people will not be expecting mail delivery today. (In theory the mail is being delivered to our zip code, but I'm not holding my breath for it.) You can see that the electrical box is not in any shape for carrying current. And if you look on both sides of the house, you can see where the Little Wekiva River is pouring into the street, aptly named Little Wekiva Road. In a previous update I was hard on the engineers who designed the expensive improvements that were supposed to fix the Little Wekiva Road problem, and I still fault them, since this road floods even during normal storms. But no road construction, no drainage improvements, can handle the sudden influx of a river that overflows its banks. I heard an official on television blaming past developers who built houses in a flood zone, and past governments that allowed it. But we've been here more than 35 years, and although the low-lying parts of the road always flooded some, it was never anything like this. The kids used to ride their bikes through the flood waters without getting wet (if they were clever), and the houses themselves never flooded. My own suspicion is that it is not past, but recent construction that has made the difference, by paving the fields that used to absorb the rainwater.

Be that as it may, a few people in our neighborhood made out badly with Ian. We are without power and internet for an indeterminant period; we have a pool enclosure screen panel to replace; and we haven't had a chance to inspect the roof for damage, but all in all we have nothing to complain about.

I had been looking forward to an enforced time when we wouldn't have much to do but sit around and read—I have just finished Brian Jacques' Martin the Warrior and am eager to devour Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying's A Hunter-Gatherer's Guide to the 21st Century—but that time came in the middle of the night when we were trying to sleep. Now it is (almost) life-as-usual. Except a bit darker, and we both reflexively flick on the lights as we enter each room.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, September 29, 2022 at 2:12 pm | Edit
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Ian is now officially a tropical storm. It has passed southeast of us, but still hasn't reached the coast; it's creeping along at 7 mph. "Passed" is perhaps not the right word, because this morning we are experiencing the same winds and rain we had all night. We are officially under a "tropical storm warning" instead of a "hurricane warning," but only the name has changed.

It wasn't the most peaceful of nights, but that doesn't stop us from being grateful for what sleep we had. Quick checks in the middle of the night and this morning revealed no obvious damage inside, and what little we could see of the outside (in the dark, from inside) looked pretty good. All night we heard the sounds of small branches landing on our roof; we learned long ago that they sound a lot bigger than they really are. Waving tree branches frequently set off our neighbors' motion-sensor floodlight, waking us up to let us know we still had power—not altogether a bad thing. And we received full assurance that our weather radio works just fine, producing a sound piercing enough to wake us thoroughly.

I would, however like to make a few suggestions for the service's software. (1) It is not really necessary to wake us at 3:17 to inform us of a flash flood warning until 6:15 a.m., then again at 3:25 to extend the warning to 6:30, then at 4:50 to let us know it's now in place until 6:45, and at 5:42 extend it to 8:15, and at 5:51 to tell us that the endpoint is still 8:15. We know it's going to be like that all morning; why not just say "till noon" and be done with it? (2) We want to know upgraded warnings (e.g. tropical storm to hurricane, or watch to warning) right away. Feel free to wake us up. But if you're downgrading the warning (e.g. hurricane to tropical storm), that news can wait till most people are awake. 

At the moment, we still have power, for which we are beyond thankful. There are a lot of people nearby who don't, however, and we remember that with previous hurricanes, the outages have come after the storm has passed. So we remain hopeful, but cautious.

What we don't have is internet. I'm posting this while using my phone as a mobile hotspot. Spectrum says, "An outage is affecting your Spectrum services. We're working quickly to restore your service." That notice hasn't been updated since eight o'clock last night, however.

We did get an update last night about our Cape Coral folks: significant damage to yard and porch, but the house was okay and so were they.

One of the newscasters we heard yesterday emphasized the importance of helping children feel a sense of adventure during events like this, rather than overwhelming them with adult concerns. He's right. It's up to the adults to model the calm reactions and coping skills that build resilience in children. When I was growing up, blizzards and winter power outages were fun! Clearly not for my parents, who had to deal with keeping the family safe and warm, cooking on a camp stove, worrying about frozen water pipes, and cleaning dirty cloth diapers. But they made it an adventure for us.

We remain grateful for your prayers, and to all those who expressed concern for our well-being. So far, so good.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, September 29, 2022 at 6:20 am | Edit
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I normally don't like watching TV coverage of hurricanes, because it is always sensationalized and apparently calculated to evoke panic.

But today was different.

We watched quite a bit of news of various channels, and I was actually impressed by the coverage I saw on our local ABC affiliate, WFTV Channel 9.  Maybe they've learned that in an era when hype and panic are in the air we breathe, the only way to get people's attention is to be calm and reasonable.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, September 28, 2022 at 8:18 pm | Edit
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