Outsourced: Is the coronovirus a pangolin-demic?

There have been accusations that the coronavirus began with bats (and attempted racist insinuations about mainland China’s eating habits), but scientists may now know either the source or at least the “potential intermediary host” as they call it: the pangolin.

Scientists identify pangolin as possible coronavirus host

The endangered pangolin may be the link that facilitated the spread of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) across China, Chinese scientists said on Friday.

[…]

After testing more than 1,000 samples from wild animals, scientists from the university found the genome sequences of viruses found on pangolins to be 99 per cent identical to those on coronavirus patients, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.

The pangolin is considered the most trafficked animal on the planet and over one million have been snatched from Asian and African forests in the past decade, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

They are destined for markets in China and Vietnam, where their scales are used in traditional medicine – despite having no medical benefits – and their meat is bought on the black market.

The country which eats bear paws and bear bile soup is eating pangolins.  And using pangolins in “traditional medicine” which helped decimate rhino populations.  How is it “traditional” if the animal isn’t a native species?

If this is the answer, that’s a good thing.  But as we have a knack for doing, we created our own problems.  Again.

 

Running Gag: This job posting is a joke

A job posting for a Taiwan-based factory appeared this week in multiple places. A company is seeking factory workers to put together components, and the ad targets Philippine people (most of whom speak English fluently) with college educations.

Taiwanese people and foreigners have been mocking it for its sexism, low pay and ludicrous working conditions. The posters and company are so shameless that they have made no attempt to change the posting or address the criticisms.  And yet the sad truth is, many Filipinas will be lining up and to apply for it.

The pay is underwhelming, to say the least.  By law, the minimum wage in Taiwan is NT$23,100 per month (US$765, C$1018).  NT$23,800 is PHP40,000.  That might do well in the Philippines, but here it’s barely enough to survive, even if contract workers live in dorms (which they usually do).  Most company dorms have curfew, so the employees usually do little more than work 5-6 days per week, shop for food on Saturdays and then party on Sunday afternoons.  (I’ve been to a couple of these Sunday matinee bars, they’re loud and wild.)

Earn as much as NT23, 800 or P40+++ plus OVERTIME!!!

The “qualifications” are a mixed bag.  Some make sense (e.g. no Colour Vision Deficiency, if working with transistors or other colour coded items; no sweaty hands, if working in a moisture sensitive environment), while others are utterly ludicrous (e.g. how do tattoos affect working?).  Do I need to tell you that “no left handers” made me roll my eyes?

Qualifications:

  • 20-30 years old / female
  • 157 cm above in height
  • Weight limit is proportion to height
  • With related factory experience
  • College graduate
  • Good in math
  • 20/20 vision no colorblind
  • No sweaty hands / no lefthanded
  • No tattoo

The body judgement and the potential for sexual harassment is what irked most people.

A screen shot of the original job posting and full text of the ad are below the fold.

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Death Camps: Calling it a hospital is woo, Han

If a video posted on twitter can be believed, China’s much ballyhooed “ten day hospital construction” in Wuhan looks like a hospital and more like a death camp within a city.  The rooms look like cells, with iron bars on the windows, locked from the outside and only an air lock to pass food and medicine through.  Will only doctors be allowed inside?  Will there be any doctors?

The text on the video says people will either walk out or be incinerated after they die.  Given Beijing’s murderous attitude towards human rights (“you are property of the state and disposable”), I’m tempted to believe it.  Beijing’s “official” numbers of “cured and dead” will likely be as fictional as US body counts in Vietnam.

Brain Drain: From the stupor bowl to the toilet bowl, then the kidney bowl

Another year, another “world championship” game played by the only country with teams.  I won’t be watching, and no, I’m not interested in the “drag queen” ads that will be shown.

What does interest me is seven years ago, Jovan Belcher of the Kansas City team succumbing to CTE, first murdering his girlfriend and then himself in front of his coach.  I want to know what Laurent Duvernay-Tardif “thinks” he will accomplish by playing a stupid and dangerous game instead of doing rounds in a hospital.  I want to know why that “sport” still exists.

Using the NFL’s own pro-reference site and list of players who died from 2010 to 2019 (changing the URL is easily done), I looked at players’ age of death and what positions they played.  Which positions were the most dangerous (there is no “least dangerous”)?

Total deaths of ex-NFL players (2010-2019): 1359
Deaths of ex-NFL players age 20-55: 179
Deaths of ex-NFL players age 20-40: 65

Deaths of ex-NFL deaths by position 2010-2019, 
and how many died in that age range:

Position.....20-55.....20-40
QB.............3.........2
RB............22.........8
WR............13.........4
TE.............7.........4
OL............33........11
DL............40........10
LB............27........14
DB............19........11
KP.............5.........1

(Excuse the use of the PRE tag.)

It’s horrendous to think that almost 5% of deaths were men under age 40, and 13% were under age 55.  These number can’t be used to calculate a death rate amongst current and former NFL players, because that would require tracking all of them and I don’t have the time or resources.  Yes, all, including those who only played in training camps, since all of them will have played college and high school football.

These numbers would change drastically if you count other decades.  In the past 20 years, NFL tight ends have become receivers, not blockers, so modern players suffer fewer injuries.  Since the 1990s, NFL linemen have averaged over 300 pounds per man.  Mike Webster, the first high profile case of CTE, weighed less than 280 pounds when he played.  There were no 300 pound players in the 1980s.

You don’t have to be an expert in physics to understand F=ma, that when players are larger, stronger and faster they will cause and suffer more injuries.  NFL careers continue to get shorter and shorter due to the number of injuries (source: Wall Street Journal):

It’s not just shortened careers, either, it’s post-career misery.  Ex-NFL players suffer arthritis at three times the rate of the average US male, along with knee, back, joint and other chronic ailments.  And worst of all, the long term effects of Post Concussion Syndrome.  There are over a dead hundred players whose brains are in jars, proving the effects of CTE, but I worry more about the living.  Le’Ron McClain knows something is wrong with his head, but the NFL ignores him when it comes to liability and doctors don’t know how to treat him.  I fear he is in a long slow decline and will never be healthy again.  I hope I’m wrong.  And he’s only one of hundreds.

A hundred years ago, in 1905, Theodore Roosevelt threatened to ban football because of all the injuries and deaths.  He should have done it while he had the chance, the way many countries banned auto racing after the Le Mans disaster of 1955.  Injuries are so common in touch football (allegedly a “non-contact” game) that helmets are being made mandatory in many places after numerous head injuries.

 

 

 

Schools Out: This should interesting….

I just got word that the Taiwan government is extending winter vacation for children.  Normally public schools would go back on February 17, but it’s being extended until Februarty 25 because of the coronavirus (9 cases in Taiwan) and a resurgence in H1N1 (13 confirmed deaths).

I have no word yet whether this applies to my school, a private academy.  I am scheduled to work tomorrow.

It makes me glad I stayed home during Chinese New Year, cleaning my apartment, writing and giving my ears and voice a rest.  I didn’t see another person for seven days.

“May you live in interesting times”, as the Chinese curse goes….

Shut-Ins Shut In: Seven days of isolation

During the Chinese New Year holiday (January 23-29), I left my apartment only three times – buying water from the coin op machine, doing laundry, and visiting the supermarket 200 metres away (which was mostly empty of people).  Originally I had intended to go clubbing once and to see friends, but I got lazy and used the time to write.  I didn’t lock myself in because of the coronavirus, but in retrospect I’m glad I did.  When I finally did poke my head out on Thursday to go to work, everyone in sight was wearing a mask except me, on the street and on the bus.  I haven’t felt so out of place in a long time, but at least I wasn’t a carrier.

Guo Jing of Wuhan, China, stayed home seven days for her safety and kept a diary which the BBC published. She says people were kicked off public transit if they didn’t have a mask. I got weird looks on Thursday for not wearing one.

Below are some excerpts from the BBC item:

Coronavirus Wuhan diary: Living alone in a city gone quiet

Wuhan has been under lockdown since 23 January, to try to contain the infection. Transport is shut down, most shops and businesses closed, and people are being advised to stay at home.

[Guo] Jing is a 29-year-old social worker and rights activist who lives on her own. For the past week, she has kept a diary, which she shares here with the BBC.

Thursday 23 January – the day of the lockdown

I didn’t know what to do when I woke up and learned about the lockdown. I don’t know what it means, how long it will last and what kind of preparations I should make. […] Many more people are wearing masks. Friends have told me to stock up on supplies. Rice and noodles have almost sold out.

* * * * *

Friday 24 January – a silent New Year’s Eve

The world is quiet, and the silence is horrifying. I live alone, so I can only tell there are other human beings around from the occasional noises in the corridor.

I have a lot of time to think about how to survive. I don’t have any resources or connections.

* * * * *

Saturday 25 January – Chinese New Year alone

Today is Chinese New Year. I never have much interest in celebrating festivals, but now new year feels even more irrelevant.

In the morning, I saw some blood after I sneezed, and I was scared. My brain was filled with worries about sickness. I was wondering if I should go out or not. But I had no fever and a good appetite, so I went out.

I wore two masks even though people say it’s pointless and unnecessary. I am worried about [poor quality] fakes, so a double mask makes me feel safer.

* * * * *

Sunday 26 January – making your voice heard

It not just the city that’s trapped. It’s also the voices of the people.

On the first day of the lockdown, I couldn’t write [anything about it] on social media [because of censorship]. I couldn’t even write on WeChat. Internet censorship has existed for a long time in China, but now it feels even more cruel.

* * * * *

Tuesday 28 January – finally sunlight

Panic has driven a wedge between people.

In many cities, people are required to wear a face mask in public. On the face of it, the measure is to control the pneumonia outbreak. But actually it could lead to abuse of power.

Some citizens without a mask have been thrown off public transport. We don’t know why they didn’t wear a mask. Perhaps they couldn’t buy any, or they didn’t know about the notice. No matter what, their rights to go out should not be taken away.

She says a lot more in the item.  It reads like a creepypasta without a monster at the end.

 

The Suspended Believe: When atheists help christians

On Tuesday, January 28, the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) church in Nairobi, Kenya, publicly gave thanks to the group Atheists In Kenya (AIK) for their actions. Earlier in the month, seventeen students from SDA families had been suspended from their high school as punishment for missing a mandatory exam.

The test was on a Saturday. The SDA families were in church.

AIK wants Kenya to be a secular society where no one religion rules over others. They sent a letter of protest to the high school and one to the Nairobi News newspaper, threatening legal action on the students’ behalf.

The school relented and rescinded the suspensions.  The item doesn’t mention retaking the exams.

SDA Church thanks Atheists in Kenya for helping suspended students

The Seventh Day Adventist Church (SDA) has appreciated the support it received from the Atheists in Kenya that saw 17 students associated with the church who had been suspended on religious grounds allowed back to school.

In a letter seen by Nairobi News, Mr Arap Too an SDA church elder recognized the efforts made by AIK President Harrison Mumia in ensuring that the students are allowed back to school.

“Our pastor, elders and the entire leadership of the Seventh Day Adventist Church at Syokimau Airport view wish to most sincerely thank you for showing solidarity with our members who are learners at Kabianga High School in Kericho County,” Too said in the letter.

According to the letter, the 17 students, who were suspended after they refused to take examinations on Sabbath Day, had already been accepted back to the school.

AIK, through Mr Mumia, had written to the school asking the principal to respect the student’s right to worship and allow them back to school or he would sue the school.

“Religious freedoms must be protected. The cultural majority should be prevented from denying others freedom of worship and belief,” he said.

This is the behaviour of most atheists, not eyebrow raising.  Aside from atheists driven by ideology, most aren’t anti-religious, we just want theists to keep it to themselves.

According to the registration page of the Atheists In Kenya website, they are also Intersectional:

Who can become a member?

Atheists In Kenya Society membership is open to all — whether you’re an atheist, theist, agnostic, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, scientist, humanist, free thinker, pantheist, historian, philosopher, feminist, secularist or human rights activist you belong here. We’ve been around since 2013. We are Kenya’s largest and only atheist society. We are a community that cares about science, humanism, secularism and discovery. We reject the notion that religion is a pre-condition for morality.

The AIK sound like good people doing good work.  Below the fold are two more Nairobi News items (from 2018) about the AIK.

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rEUnited: not “Scotxit”

English thickheadedness and xenophobia may have passed “Brexit”, but the feeling wasn’t universal.  Scottish leaders are already eyeing a second independence vote, and the way they’re talking, they have no intention of asking for London’s permission this time.  Scotland never wanted to leave, and it’s a safe bet that the EU knows it and would welcome them back.

The 2014 independence vote may have failed, but only by a 5.4% margin, and being dragged out of the EU against their will may change voter opinion.  When (not if) Scotland secedes, it will not be “Scotxit” or any other silly name. They’re not “leaving”, they’re going home.

Scotland will be rEUnited.

Then the question is how England will respond.  Will it be as violent with the Scots as it was with the Irish or the Spanish were with the Catalans?  Given England’s history of oppression, they’re capable of it.  But knowing they’re alone this time may change London’s attitude.

Scottish Leader Says Its Time for Independence

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Friday said she was ready to step up the campaign for Scottish independence, as Brexit has set the country on the “wrong road.”

[…]

“As of 11 p.m. tonight the U.K. that Scotland voted to remain part of, a U.K. inside the EU, the status quo that a majority voted for, will no longer exist,” she said.

“There will be a material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014,” she said, referring to the last referendum on Scottish independence.

[…]

Scottish newspapers on Friday marked Brexit with pro-European front pages, reflecting the majority vote north of the border with England to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum.

“Short changed: Isolated, worse off, weaker and divided,” said the Daily Record.

Pro-independence daily The National wrote: “Dear Europe. We didn’t vote for this. Remember to … Leave a light on for Scotland.”

Sturgeon committed to persuade more Scots to back independence, as a new poll suggested a slim majority were now in favor of the country ending its three-centuries union with the United Kingdom.

If any wall needs to be built, it’s Hadrian’s.  Seize the land permanently and make it Scottish.

A Price You Can Live With: In Illinois, insulin is now $100 per month

In a display of basic decency that a republiclown could never muster, Illinois’s governor JB Pritzker has signed legislation capping the price of insulin at US$100 per month.  Compared to Canada and Mexico, it’s still overpriced, but at least now people won’t have to “ration” it and risk their lives.

Illinois governor signs law capping insulin costs at $100 per month

The Illinois governor has signed a new law that will cap out of pocket insulin costs at $100 for a 30-day supply.

Diabetes affects approximately 1,300,000 adults in Illinois. People with Type 1 diabetes and some with Type 2 diabetes need insulin, but price hikes make insulin difficult to afford for the uninsured, and those whose coverage requires significant cost sharing, according to a release from Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker’s Office on Jan. 24.

“Health care is a right for all, not a privilege and that is why I am so proud that we created an insulin price cap that successfully puts patients above profit,” according to Gov. JB Pritzker.

According to the British Medical Journal, it costs between US$72 and US$133 to produce a year’s supply of insulin for one person.  Not one month, but one year.  At US$50 per month, that’s still a 400-500% profit.  From Business Insider, 2018:

Insulin prices could be much lower and drug makers would still make healthy profits

As prices for diabetes treatments continue to roil consumers, a new study suggests that manufacturers could make both human and analog insulins at low costs and still pocket a profit.

[…]

“Anyone with Type 1 diabetes should be able to buy insulin for under $100 per year, including the long-acting forms,” said Andrew Hill, a study co-author and senior visiting research fellow at the University of Liverpool. “Pharmaceutical companies cannot justify charging governments $532 per person per year in the U.K. and $1,251 in the U.S., let alone similar amounts in low- and middle-income countries.”

As Goldman Sachs asked in 2018, “Is curing patients a sustainable business model?”

 

Cower And Kowtow: When you’d rather kill people than upset Beijing

How serious the coronavirus is depends on where you get your sources and who you believe.  But I think we can all agree it’s a major concern and countries have a good reason to have accurate and up-to-date information on the spread of the disease.

Given that fact, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) needs to explain why they refuse to provide Taiwan with information on the disease, and why a PRC national in charge of their twitter account is banning anyone criticizing the ICAO.  As Jessica Drun of the Project 2049 Institute says, “This is how a virus spreads.”

UN aviation agency blocks critics of Taiwan policy on Twitter

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has blocked numerous Twitter accounts — including ones belonging to Capitol Hill staffers and D.C.-based analysts — after facing online criticism for excluding Taiwan from membership.

[…]

Jessica Drun, a non-resident fellow at the Taiwan-focused Project 2049 Institute criticized ICAO in a Jan. 22 tweet:

Want to drive the point home that two orgs, @WHO & @icao, refuse to share knowledge w/ Taiwan authorities. This means civil aviation authorities for one of busiest regional airports do not receive up-to-date info on any potential ICAO-WHO efforts.

This is how a virus spreads.

Jessica Drun (@jessicadrun) January 22, 2020

Drun noticed on Jan. 25 that ICAO had blocked her on Twitter.

Qining Guang, a Chinese national who previously worked for the Civil Aviation Administration of China, is responsible for ICAO’s social media accounts, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Numerous other Twitter accounts were blocked around the same time, Axios has learned, including the accounts of several Hill staffers, analysts and an English teacher in Guangzhou. The accounts had posted similar criticisms.

It’s reckless and petty behaviour by the criminals in Beijing.

Made To Suffer: Bill Lee cares about rapists, not children

Tennessee, 2020:

Tennessee rape-ublican governor Bill Lee has signed a “law” which allows the state’s adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQIA people, and using public tax dollars to do it.  All under the hate-based fiction of “protecting the children”.

Tennessee governor signs anti-gay adoption bill

Tennessee has become the latest state to assure continued taxpayer funding of faith-based foster care and adoption agencies even if those organizations exclude LGBTQ families and others based on religious beliefs.

Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed the bill Friday without fanfare or an official announcement, making it the first law to be implemented in Tennessee this year.

Previously, Lee said he endorsed the law because he believed defending religious liberty “is very important.” The Republican has often cited his Christian faith throughout his first term as governor.

It looks to me more like he is protecting rapists, pedophiles and murderers who want access to children, but doesn’t give a damn about the kids.

Tennessee, February 2019:

Father charged with rape after missing Tennessee girl is found in Wisconsin

A 14-year-old girl who disappeared from Tennessee more than two weeks ago has been found alive in Wisconsin and her father is now charged with rape, authorities said Thursday.

The girl is “doing fine,” Sheriff Tommy Jones of Monroe County, Tennessee, said Thursday.

Randall Pruitt, who adopted the girl, was arrested Thursday in Tennessee and charged with rape, the sheriff said. “(The girl) would be the victim in that,” Jones said.

There’s more below the fold….

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Septic Tank: Brexit is the free-for-all before the free fall

Boris Johnson and his cast of clowns decided to “commemorate” brexit by melting down circulating coins to create a septagon.

In five years, they’ll commiserate over the country when its economy has gone septic.  And they’ll blame everyone except themselves.

Brexit day 50p coin unveiled by Chancellor Sajid Javid

A commemorative 50p coin marking the UK’s departure from the EU has been unveiled by Chancellor Sajid Javid.  The coins bear the inscription “Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations” and the date of 31 January.  Mr Javid had first ordered production of the coins in advance of the UK’s original 31 October departure date.

But the Brexit delay meant about a million coins had to be melted down and the metal put aside until a new exit date was confirmed.

The clowns were melting down coins before the election, so certain they were going to ram it through parliament.

Don’t be surprised if these “commemorative coins” turn out to be lower quality metal than standard coins, and Boris Johnson is the new Septimius Severus.  The Romans destroyed their own coins and economy that way.  And I’ll bet his Tories committed some form of financial corruption as they did it.

Followup: Critics are already at work on this.