Political Distance: Will Taiwan eventually close the island?

In the wake of new cases brought back to Taiwan, the government has announced travel restrictions for school teachers and all students below college level (i.e. not adults).  Infections worldwide have been much lower amongst children, so this is likely less about protecting kids than kids’ poor handwashing habits, bringing the disease back home with them.

[Addendum below the fold]

Virus Outbreak: Students, teachers barred from traveling overseas

The government has decided to prohibit students and teachers at high-school level and below from traveling abroad until the end of this semester due to the recent increase in the number of imported COVID-19 cases, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday.

Following discussions with experts, the Executive Yuan and other government agencies, the center decided that overseas travel would be inappropriate during the pandemic and made a recommendation that the Executive Yuan require that students and teachers at institutions below tertiary level not go abroad, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center.  The requirement would be in effect through the final day of classes, Chen said.

Summer vacation would allow ample time for self-quarantine.  Further down the item it says:

Prior to the CECC’s announcement, the National Students’ Rights Seminar in Taiwan, in response to the several local government following New Taipei City’s ban, said in a statement that it believed the local governments’ travel restrictions were in violation of Article 10 of the Constitution, which guarantees the “freedom of residence and of change of residence.”

Freedom of residence?  Their movement within Taiwan is not being restricted.  This nonsense isn’t going to fly, nor should it.

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Disease Soaked: Communal virus communion

The Greek unorthodox cult have decided that they will continue having “communion”. But unlike the catholics and wafers placed into mouths by hand, the Greeks drink from the same spoon.  Only the first person drinks from a clean spoon – if it’s washed and not handled.

In era of coronavirus, Greek church says Holy Communion will carry on

Greece’s Orthodox Church said that Holy Communion, the partaking of wine soaked in bread from the same chalice for atonement from sins, would continue despite the coronavirus outbreak.

Debate has raged in deeply religious Greece on whether it would be prudent for the Church to continue the ritual, where worshippers sip from the same spoon.

The Greek Orthodox Church attempted to put a stop to the chatter on Monday: “This cannot be the cause of the spread of illness,” the Holy Synod, the ruling body of the Church, said in a statement.

In other COVID-19 news, Taiwan’s health ministry announced the total cases are now 59, the newest all traced back to Taiwanese people who returned from vacations.

One of them was in Greece.

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What If This Happens: A hypothetical

Here’s a thought:

In the first three days after the 2001/09/11 attacks, the US’s air quality improved and pollution dropped.

What environmental effect will there be after close to a billion people in industrialized countries stop consuming fossil fuels and natural resources for a month or two?  Will we finally wake up and realize how much damage we’ve done, and how quickly we can change it?

I hope it’s a silver lining.

Anagram Play: Ha! Claiming one parent

Did you know the komodo dragon is a parthenogenic animal(See the title.)

I didn’t.  I also didn’t know it has W and Z chromosomes.  Females are WZ and males are ZZ, so only male parthenogenic offspring are viable.

A Komodo dragon with no male partner gave birth to three hatchlings

Charlie, a female Komodo dragon at the Chattanooga Zoo in Tennessee,

has proved to be the ultimate independent lady after successfully giving birth to three hatchlings without a male partner.

Even though Charlie and a potential mate named Kadal were placed together in hopes of breeding, the first-time mother produced the three brothers, named Onyx, Jasper and Flint, on her own through a phenomenon called parthenogenesis. It’s extremely rare among vertebrates: Only 70 backboned species can do it, which is about 0.1% of all vertebrates, according to Scientific American.

Komodo is definitely not an anagram of kodomo (child *, in Japanese).  They are aggressive and hostile, even within their own species.

[* corrected]

How To (And Not To) Respond: Putting money where empty mouths are

Talk about a hearwarming act of altruism and decency.

The ticket workers, concession staff, custodians and others who are paid hourly at NBA games will lose a lot of income during the shutdown.  The NBA players voluntarily (and NBA team owners after being shamed into it) have agreed to cover the lost income of workers at their arenas.  For a league that generates billions of dollars in annual revenue, this is a drop in the bucket, but will make a big difference to thousands of people.

Compare that with Cheetolini’s inept decision to pump a US$1.5 trillion giveaway to businesses on the stock market.  It was eaten up and disappeared in 30 minutes.  No explanation has been given for how this will be paid for except by continuing to cut off food stamps to 700,000 people . . . until a judge blocked the move because of COVID-19.

As some have noted, $1,500,000,000,000 works out to US$4200 per person in the US.  For working people, a $4000 cheque would have been enough to keep them going while the entire country shut down for one to four months.  If those earning over US$200,000 per year (8% of americans) were excluded, the 300 million remaining would have cost $1.2 trillion and kept the economy going, recouped lated by taxes and the multiplier effect.  Instead the money was thrown into a bottomless pit, never to be seen again.

What does it take to prove to people how incompetent Cheetolini is?  That so-called “wealth gain” on the stock market since 2016 (only for the rich) has completely gone.


Ottawa is planning a stimulus package for Canadians, but it is small businesses and individuals who will receive it.

In 2008, Taiwan issued coupons that could be spent as cash, with a limited time period to redeem them.  I expect the same might happen again if necessary.


WHO Lives And WHO Dies: Italian doctors are faced with a horrible task

Conditions are dire in Italy.  The resources and medical personnel needed are insufficient for the task.  The Italian College of Anesthesia, Analgesia, Resuscitation and Intensive Care (SIAARTI) has told them to treat patients as if they were in a war zone: Treat those who are easy to save, and give palliative care to the rest.

This was preventable, but politicians kowtowed to China for money.

The Atlantic: The Extraordinary Decisions Facing Italian Doctors

There are now simply too many patients for each one of them to receive adequate care.

Now the Italian College of Anesthesia, Analgesia, Resuscitation and Intensive Care (SIAARTI) has published guidelines for the criteria that doctors and nurses should follow as these already extraordinary circumstances worsen.


“Informed by the principle of maximizing benefits for the largest number,” they suggest that “the allocation criteria need to guarantee that those patients with the highest chance of therapeutic success will retain access to intensive care.”

The authors, who are medical doctors, then deduce a set of concrete recommendations for how to manage these impossible choices, including this: “It may become necessary to establish an age limit for access to intensive care.”

Those who are too old to have a high likelihood of recovery, or who have too low a number of “life-years” left even if they should survive, would be left to die. This sounds cruel, but the alternative, the document argues, is no better. “In case of a total saturation of resources, maintaining the criterion of ‘first come, first served’ would amount to a decision to exclude late-arriving patients from access to intensive care.”

In addition to age, doctors and nurses are also advised to take a patient’s overall state of health into account: “The presence of comorbidities needs to be carefully evaluated.”

The doctors will be forgiven for choosing who lives and who dies.  Those who put them in this situation should never be.

By Leaps And Bounds: Do they only get a quarter of the birthdays?

I was debating whether to talk about February 29th and my annual calendar reform rant.  Real life kept me from that, and what I said on facebook didn’t seem noteworthy enough for here.

Then on March 7, Henri Richard died, age 84.  He died a week after his birthday, February 29, 1936.  Richard won eleven Stanley Cups in a twenty (*) year career is the second most successful in North American pro team sports, bettered only by the NBA’s Bill Russell (11 titles in 13 years).

(* correction, not fourteen)

Another famous person who was born on a leap day and died in a leap year was Louise Wood (Feb. 29, 1920).  She was the head of the US Girl Scouts from 1961-1972.  She died in 1988.

Other notable leap day people (good and bad) include:

  • 1840: John Phillip Holland, inventor of the modern submarine (from Ireland)
  • 1860: Herman Hollerith, inventor of the first tabulating machine used in the 1900 US census and founder of the Tabulating Machine Company (which later became IBM)
  • 1904: Jimmy Dorsey, jazz band leader
  • 1928: Joss Ackland, actor
  • 1940: Gretchen Christopher, singer of The Fleetwoods (#1 hits “Come Softly To Me”, “Mr. Blue”)
  • 1956: Aileen Wuornos
  • 1960: Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker
  • 1984: Cam Ward (2006 Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy, 2007 World Chamionshipship)

Sure, none of this is life changing, but it’s for the curious.

One thing I recently learnt about leap year babies: most people assume that in other years, their birthday is celebrated on Februry 28.  Maybe individuals do, but governments treat March 1st as their birthday.  When your eighteenth birthday approaches and it’s February 28th, you’re not legally eighteen until the first.  This will likely also apply to sixteen year olds wanting to drive in 2100, but….

Don’t Breathe: There’s a life form that doesn’t require oxygen

From the realm of the really cool:

Henneguya salminicola is a species related to jellyfish, a multicellular animal that does not need oxygen to live.

H. salminicola is a parasite that lives in fish.  It’s harmless to people, but leaves white spots on the fish it infects.

Animal that doesn’t need oxygen to survive discovered

24 February 2020

by Michael Le Page

Breathing oxygen is seen as a fundamental characteristic of multicellular animals, but we have found at least one that can’t do it.

“It has lost the ability to breathe oxygen,” says Dorothee Huchon at Tel Aviv University in Israel. It remains a mystery how this animal, a parasite that infects salmon, gets the energy it needs without oxygen, she says, but it probably steals it from its host.

All plants and animals were thought to use oxygen to generate a fuel called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which powers cellular processes. The generation of ATP from oxygen takes places in structures called mitochondria.

Each mitochondrion has its own tiny genome that is separate from the main genome in the cell nucleus. But when Huchon and her colleagues sequenced the DNA of Henneguya salminicola, which is related to jellyfish, they thought they had made a mistake because they found no mitochondrial DNA at all.

Further studies confirmed the finding. When the team stained H. salminicola with a blue fluorescent dye that binds to DNA, no DNA was visible in cells outside the nucleus. By contrast, when they stained a closely related parasite, blue dots corresponding to mitochondrial genomes were visible outside the nucleus.

So while the cells of H. salminicola have structures that look like mitochondria, they can’t make the enzymes needed to use oxygen to produce ATP. “These are not true mitochondria,” says Huchon.

Age Out: Is this ‘The Plague’ in real life?

In their latest attempt to incite panic and sell ad space, the talking heads on Chicken Noodle News (CNN) are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of mass deaths in countries with less developed health care systems.  You can almost see the glint in their eye, hoping that much of the population in countries like Iran will be wiped out.  But given that about 80% of Iran’s population is under 54 years old, that’s unlikely.  It’s times like this I’m glad I live on an island that can isolate itself.

COVID-19 is peculiar in who it affects the most and least.  The average age of those who die is 75, and the vast majority of those who died were over 50 and had other health issues (e.g. diabetes, cancer, heart conditions, etc.).  Those least affected have been children under 10, youths under 20, pregnant women and women in general.  I have not seen any mention of deaths among pregnant women and those under age 20, and reports said less than 200 children worldwide were sick.  It makes you wonder if there’s something specific about age and resistance to the disease.  Medical staff in China who contracted the disease and died were younger (in their 30s), but they were constantly exposed and in close proximity, on top of working 16+ hours per day without days off since they began working.

If COVID-19 becomes a worldwide pandemic, it’s likely not poor countries or countries with large populations of young people that will be hardest hit.  Rather, those with aging populations and “first world lifestyles” will likely suffer the most.

Study of 72,000 COVID-19 patients finds 2.3% death rate

Stephanie Soucheray | News Reporter | CIDRAP News | Feb 24, 2020

Researchers from China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention today describe the clinical findings on more than 72,000 COVID-19 cases reported in mainland China, which reveal a case-fatality rate (CFR) of 2.3% and suggest most cases are mild, but the disease hits the elderly the hardest.

The study, published in JAMA, is the largest patient-based study on the novel coronavirus, which was first connected to seafood market in Wuhan, China, in December, and has since traversed the globe.

Death rate in critically ill: 49% or higher

A total of 72,314 COVID-19 cases, diagnosed through Feb 11 were used for the study. Of the 72,314 cases, 44,672 were classified as confirmed cases of COVID-19 (62%; diagnosis based on positive throat swab samples), 16,186 as suspected cases (diagnosis based on symptoms and exposures only), 10,567 as clinically diagnosed cases (from Hubei province only, diagnoses based on symptoms, including lung x-ray), and 889 as asymptomatic cases (diagnosis by positive test result but lacking typical symptoms).

“Most cases were diagnosed in Hubei Province (75%) and most reported Wuhan-related exposures (86%; ie, Wuhan resident or visitor or close contact with Wuhan resident or visitor,” the authors said.

Eighty-seven percent of patients were aged 30 to 79 years (38,680 cases). This age-group was the most affected by a wide margin, followed by ages 20 to 29 (3,619 cases, or 8%), those 80 and older (1,408 cases, or 3%), and 1% each in ages less than 10 and 10 to 19 years.

Of the confirmed cases, 1,023 patients—all in critical condition—died from the virus, which results in a CFR of 2.3%. The CFR jumped considerably among older patients, to 14.8% in patients 80 and older, and 8.0% in patients ages 70 to 79. Among the critically ill, the CFR was 49.0%.

A smaller study today based on 52 critically ill patients at a Wuhan hospital confirms this finding. Thirty-two of the 52 critically ill patients (61.5%) died, and older age and acute respiratory distress syndrome were correlated with mortality.

The authors of the smaller study also found that 30 (81%) of 37 patients requiring mechanical ventilation had died by 28 days.

I’m mostly joking when I ask if this is “The Plague” come to life.  Mostly.

Schadenfreude Felt: I wonder what Winnie The Pooh will say now

Winnie the Pooh (a/k/a Xi Limping, as he limps from one crisis to another) has manipulated the WHO and UN to prevent Taiwan from having information on COVID-19.  Taiwan has been getting information third hand from the US’s CDC.

The mass murdering regime in Beijing continues to fumble, mishandle and make the coronavirus situation worse.  Prisons in three different provinces have reported at least 500 cases of COVID-19.  Given the dictatorship’s attitude towards human rights (“you are property of the state and disposable”) and the appalling conditions in China’s prisons, I doubt they will receive any medical care.  I would not put it past them to lock the doors and leave everyone to die.

On Friday, came the first sign of hope: a company named Adimmune has announced they are developing a vaccine based on the COVID-19 virus.  Care to guess which country Adimmune is based in?  Click to read more….

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The Boy Scouts: Now as financially bankrupt as they are morally

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have declared financial bankruptcy to go along with their moral bankruptcy, having paid over US$150 million in compensation to victims since 2017.  Unlike the catholic cult or fundamentalist christian churches in the US, they lack the finances to continue paying victims, and they lack the political, judicial, jurisdictional and criminal connections to hide their crimes.

Documents coming out of the BSA show that they have covered up and been aware of sexual abuses by adult men from the very beginning of the BS, one hundred years. Over 7800 names are in the lists (source: BBC link below).  The BSA did the same things the catholic church did: call in favours to threaten and silence victims, pay hush money, and worst of all, move sexual predators from one troop to another instead of kicking them out.

BBC: Boy Scouts of America: Why is it filing for bankruptcy?

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has filed for bankruptcy as it faces increasing legal costs over sexual abuse cases.

A spokesman said the move would make sure that the organisation would be kept running and that compensation would be paid to victims.

The group has more than two million members across the United States but the membership has been declining.

Chief executive Roger Mosby said in a statement: “The BSA cares deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologises to anyone who was harmed during their time in scouting.

“We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to harm innocent children.”

Predictably, that guttersnipe and gutter trash Tony Perkins is repeating fictions after the BSA’s collapse:

Tony Perkins: The Boy Scouts of America collapsed because they gave in to ‘LGBT activists’

In an op-ed published at the Family Research Council’s website this Tuesday, FRC president Tony Perkins delved into what he sees as the culprit for the recent “collapse” of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) — a collapse that was one of the “saddest, most predictable ‘I-told-you-so’ moments of our generation,” according to him.

Perkins is referring to the recent Associated Press report that says the BSA announced its filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection amid a wave of sexual abuse lawsuits.


“The Scouts spent years in court just for the freedom to stick to their moral code,” Perkins writes. “They won — but to the organization’s dismay — the battle didn’t end. Waves of LGBT activists kept coming. The pressure built and built until finally, in 2013, under the leadership of Rex Tillerson, headquarters gave into the lie that compromise would be their salvation. Seven years later, the irony is: there’s nothing left to save.”

Is he stupid enough to believe 20 years of atheists and LGBTQIA people “brought down the BSA!” and not a century of pedophilia and rape? Does he arrogantly believe anyone besides MAGAts are stupid enough to listen to him?

As per usual, the ignorant and dishonest cast aspersions.  An adult male raping a boy does not “demonstrate homosexuality”, it demonstrates that a predator sought out and had access to boys because he had no access to girls.  The adult relationships of pedophiles indicates their sexual orientation, not the children’s genitalia.  Fifty percent of children are girls, yet they make up two-thirds of the victims.  Pedophilia is a crime of access and availability.


My “parents” were lazy when it came to anything they didn’t directly benefit from, so I was never involved in the BS of Canada.  Knowing what we do now, I’m glad I never was.

WHO Understands: If you owe someone, they own you

Well, this explains a lot:

The WHO refuses to share medical information with Taiwan.

The WHO’s social media “staff” are Chinese nationals.

The WHO and ICAO (a UN body) are silencing and banning any criticism of China’s policies.

The current “director general” of the World Health Organization was appointed in 2017, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia.

China “invested” in Ethiopia, buying and building massive infrastructure.

In 2018, China “forgave” Ethiopia’s interest free loan debt.

Clearly, the mass murderers in Beijing have learned the US’s playbook very well (e.g. weaponizing the IMF).

Who’s your debtor?


Age Gracefully: Five years or fifty three?

Sunday marks my 53rd birthday.  I’m also celebrating it as the fifth anniversary of my transition, though I usually do that at New Year’s. I don’t remember the exact date that I said, “I have to transition or I’m going to die,” all that matters is that it happened.

I wrote a mini-autobiography (with songs) on facebook.  I won’t repost it here because it’s too long (a main post, thirteen comments and fourteen video links).  However, everything on the post is “public” so those not logged in can read it (as far as I know), you just can’t react.  I limit comments to my friends list due to harassers and “chasers”.

Though it’s only five years out of fifty three and seems like a short time, the distance I’ve come is amazing: starting out close to a mental breakdown; tentative steps in experimenting with makeup, clothes and wigs; going public; socializing and making friends; living openly full time (aside from work).  The only downer about my time since coming out is that I can’t take HRT.  I did for a few weeks about two years ago, but it put such a strain on my heart I ended up on heart medication for eight months.  (Better, now.)

Out of curiosity, I looked up famous people born on the same day.  Many I’m glad to be associated with, and one, I’m like…aiyah!  No, no, no!  The first name is my favourite of the bunch, though I’ve watched the entirety of “The Doctor’s” career.

Famous people I like sharing the day with:

1953 – Roberta Williams (games designer for Sierra Online)

1955 – Janice Dickinson (who helped convict Bill Cosby)

1957 – LeVar Burton (and 2335 – Geordi Laforge on Star Trek)

1964 – Christopher Eccleston (Dr. Who, 28 Days Later, Cracker)

1973 – Cathy Freeman (Australian olympian)

1975 – Vanina Ickx (race driver)

1979 – Valentino Rossi, aka “The Doctor” (MotoGP 7x World Champion, 115 career wins)

It is just me, or does Valentino Rossi look like Krusty the Clown from The Simpsons?

People I’m okay to share the same birthday with:

1951 – William Katt (Greatest American Hero, Carrie)

1952 – James Ingram (singer, who sadly died last month)

1959 – John McEnroe

1960 – Peter “Pete” Willis (guitarist, Def Leppard)

1961 – Andy Taylor (guitarist, Duran Duran)

1958 – Tracy Lauren Marrow (aka Ice-T)

Those I’m embarrassed to have the same birthday:

1935 – Sonny Bono

1942 – Kim Jong-Il

Here are some notable historical events from February 16:

1881 – The Canadian Pacific Railway is incorporated and operating. Without the promise of a national railway in 1871, the western half of Canada (BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon) would have joined the yanquis. Instead, Canada became a coast-to-coast nation.

1959 – Fidel Castro becomes Prime Minister of Cuba

1968 – In Haleyville, Alabama, the first 9-1-1 emergency telephone system goes into service.

1978 – The first computer bulletin board system is created (CBBS in Chicago, which I mentioned a month ago).

1985 – Hezbollah is founded.

2005 – Russia ratifies the Kyoto Protocol, becoming law.

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How Diseases Taxi: Taiwan’s first COVID-19 death was a cab driver

A cab driver is the first Taiwanese citizen or resident to die from COVID-19.   He is the ninteenth known patient.

While it is important to find out who he caught it from, it’s also important to find out who was in his cab afterward.  Did he pass it on to others?  That could be difficult if there were no in-car video camera.  Some cabs take payment by credit card or Easy Card (metro cards for bus and subway), but even those who do ususally use cash.

Unfortunately, the title is cringeworthy.  It’s not the “Wuhan virus”:

WUHAN VIRUS/Taiwan reports first death from coronavirus infection (update)

Taipei, Feb. 16 (CNA) Taiwan on Sunday reported the nation’s first death from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), a 61-year-old male living in central Taiwan, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

The patient, who had Hepatitis B and diabetes, had not traveled overseas recently and no known contact with COVID-19 patients, according to Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC. The authorities are still working to determine how the man became infected.

“This could be Taiwan’s first community transmitted case,” Chen noted. The man is the nation’s 19th confirmed coronovirus patient.

CNA has learned the unidentified man was a taxi driver who had many customers that regularly travel to and from China, Hong Kong and Macau.

The health authorities are now checking the man’s phone records, medical records and CCTV footage of his travel history within the country in order to determine how he was infected with the deadly virus.

Multiple sources will tell you diseases are never be named after people or places because of the inherent racism and judging of people from that area.  Calling it the “Wuhan virus” plays into anti-China racism, just as “Zika”, “Hanta” and “Ebola” names do.

The PRC has taken the step of destroying paper currency from the Wuhan area.  Do they know something they’re not telling?  (Warning: South China Morning Post – link above – is a known PRC mouthpiece.)