Tuesday, September 8 – The Metaverse

Humility is a strange thing. The minute you think you’ve got it, you’ve lost it. It’s important to remember to be humble in these strange times. But I am excited and proud to be able to give you a double dose of good news off the bat: big news on the Vitamin D front. The thing I’ve been saying for six months, long before most journalists picked it up, has now been backed up more than ever by two incredible new studies. Vitamin D saves lives.

 In a JAMA study, in almost 500 people studied, patients were 1.77 (almost twice as likely) to be admitted to the hospital for critical care of COVID when vitamin D deficient. So you’re only half as likely to get a “bad case of COVID” that requires hospitalization if you’re taking Vitamin D.

 Second, in a small study by Reina Sofia University in Cordoba, Spain, given a vitamin D analog (calcifediol) (523 micrograms, a fairly substantial dose) to speed its absorption into the body, one group was given standard care and the other standard care plus vitamin D. Treatment: Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin (HCQ+AZ). Now we are talking appropriate doses – not the 400-600% toxic doses that were carelessly given to patients in the WHO and Oxford trials.

Of the patients that didn’t receive the Vitamin D analog, 50% required admission into the ICU. 7% of them died. Of the patients that received the Vitamin D analog, 2% required admission into the ICU. None of them died. Now, this was a small study, but nonetheless, remarkable results, and I hope the WHO or Oxford or someone is willing to do a much larger study. Vitamin D looks to be incredibly promising, and this study was found to be right 999 times out of 1000, statistically, so there’s no excuse not to pour millions into a big flashy study today and get everyone taking it. Why doesn’t the government send packets of Vitamin D and Zinc and other FDA approved vitamins to every home? Instead, the Canadian Dietary Association claims there’s no such thing as “fine-tuning your immune system” —- please fire their social media manager for gross incompetence!

One thing that is of interest and is difficult to talk about, because of the racially and historical oppression of science and medicine to people of colors and minorities, is the idea that while 42% of the US population has Vitamin D deficiency, it is 82% of black people and 70% of Hispanics, as quoted by my trusted source, Dr. John Campbell citing a Healthline and JAMA study—dismissed as “Frankenstein eugenics” by some (including a well respected medical professional I consider a brother and authoritative voice this year, yet, I am not sure if he has taken the time to read this research and parse it out). This is taken seriously and reported with empathy by others, not to shame anyone but to say, look, if people of color are disproportionately being affected by COVID, some factors such as diet, access to medicine, education, and wealth are some factors, yet if we can see the Vitamin D deficiency as a precursor to a bad case of COVID as a scientific rather than politicized reality, then those who are deficient can be given supplements cheaply and easily, and we can lower the case fatalities across the board. To me, that is a worthy goal, and worth dipping my toe into the ‘controversies of race in medicine’ – if I can help one person save a life, I will forever be grateful for the effort made to have this conversation.

 In Chongqing, my first week back is easing me into the fall routine. Monday was August 31, canceled. Tuesday and Wednesday, I taught nine classes and lost my voice almost by the end of it, but, got through and finished by lunch or early afternoon and made it to the gym by the afternoon. Thursday and Friday, I had off to write, as I didn’t have my campus B schedule yet. Friday evening, we tutored, and it was good to have the kids back in our place, and I’m being sincere. The anxiety is gone. Saturday was our marathon: 8 hours of classes. Halfway through, a boy got into a fight with his grandfather and refused to be dragged into our room and wandered away, victorious. By the end, we hung in there. It was doable. Sunday was my first day off. Incredible. 

We had a big family lunch. Our son, Jinn, is getting married on an auspicious day close to the spring festival. You might read elsewhere in the metaverse: Danish’s son is getting married, and it’s to twins! But here in this world, Danish is dead, and my son is a good boy. We met with him, Cici, her twin sister, and mother, and discussed the details of the wedding, dates, plans, etc. over a nice Kaoya lunch and soup. I know some of you might be angry, “I’ve barely got my life together and Kai’s son is already kicking ass at life,” well, that’s true, but it helps that I’m a time traveler. Remember, you’re only ever competing with you, so just do your best every day.

Later we had a super nice bbq with homemade mushroom soup and then went to the movies to see Nolanson’s new film, Tenet. It was spectacular, smart, complex, interesting, and fantastic in IMAX. Ok, it was a bit overwhelming, too loud, and the guy behind me kept clearing his throat and coughing a little bit. I jumped each time, but he either had his mask on or coughed into his hand. Still, I finished my drink before I went in and didn’t touch my mask until I was outside again.

The Burn happened, sort of, this week. It was different and much more spectacular in Bernie Sanders America, where it was a respectful and socially distanced physical event. In our corner of the metaverse, we saw a VR Burn, an elite corp Flyranch geezer burn, a Baker Beach and Ocean Beach burn, and a “let’s crash the playa” burn. Feelings are quite conflicted; some quite angry, I’m sure there will be much drama to follow.

 It’s the first day of French school back in Ontario, Canada, and we have an update. Breaking news Monday, September 7: 8 Ontario Schools have COVID-19 positive cases. Sainte Anne (Ottawa), Saint Francois d’Assise (Ottawa), Roger Saint-Denis (Ottawa), Laurier-Carriere (Ottawa), Franco-Ouest (Ottawa), Ross Drive PS (Brampton), Edna Staebler PS (Waterloo), Briarwood (Mississauga). That’s 8 Ontario French schools with positive cases on the first day. English schools open tomorrow. Megarrah B., a friend of my friend Cadence, said that two of those cases are teachers, so let’s closely follow this one. Let’s see what happens by October 1. We tried for those of us who have been advocating for remote learning in Canadian schools similar to Mexico & other countries. Premiers didn’t listen (@fordnation) thanks @imgrund. 

Now to show some empathy for those in charge, they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If they shut down the schools and economy, the parents and workers will protest and riot. If they don’t, they’re responsible for a spreading plague and mass death event. Only by ‘dancing with the virus’ and using all of our tools to locate accurately, contain, and lockdown the virus can we responsibly do things such as work, school, and socialize.

SARSCOV2 is a complicated virus – hijacking super complicated cell machinery systems is not easy, but this is astounding. So maybe not a cytokine storm, a bradykinin storm theory offers another idea about COVID-19 attack theory. 

The Bradykinin Storm hypothesis: “neither the disease mechanism nor treatments for COVID-19 are currently known. Here we present a novel molecular mechanism for COVID-19 that provides therapeutic intervention points that can be addressed with existing FDA-approved pharmaceuticals. The virus’s entry point is ACE2 (angiotensin-converting enzyme two receptors), which is a component of the counteracting hypotensive axis of RAS (renin-angiotensin system). Bradykinin is a potent part of the vasopressor system that induces hypotension and vasodilation and is degraded by ACE and enhanced by the angiotensin 1-9 produced by ACE2….the very atypical patterns of the RAS is predicted to elevate bradykinin levels in multiple tissues and systems that will likely cause increases in vascular dilation, vascular permeability, and hypertension. These bradykinin-driven outcomes explain many of the symptoms being observed in COVID-19.” – the supercomputer study analysis.

This supercomputer performed an analysis on gene expression data from cells from bronchial fluid, from COVID-19 patients, compared to healthy cells. We see downregulation in ACE and up-regulation in everything else. COVID-19 is not just hijacking us to replicate; it’s going inside cells and monkeying around, causing them to disregulate what proteins and receptors they make to amplify the viruses’ impact. Leaky cells create excess fluid in the lungs and tissues, lowered blood pressure, and hypotension.

The takeaway is that all these precursors, large proteins that get clipped and turned into bradykinin’s that attaches to receptors, releasing PGI2, nitrous oxide, EDF, etc. that lead to vasodilation, opening blood vessels up, etc. ACE sees bradykinin and can break it down. Some functions increase and decrease blood pressure, but the study has some interesting implications for better treatment.

Great explanation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDbRfur36sE

“That bradykinin-storm-induced leakage of fluid into the lungs convinced with the excess hyaluronic acid would likely result in a Jello-like substance that is preventing oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide release in the lungs of severely affected COVID-19 patents. Therefore the findings of Garvin et al. suggest that the Bradykinin Storm may be responsible for the more severe symptoms of COVID-19”. 

Good news: the study is showing that Ivermectin, an FDA-approved antiviral, blocks entry to the nucleus (binds to the important alpha subunit), disrupting COVID’s ability to enter, replicate and mess with our cells.

Ivermectin known antiviral study.

This Bradykinin hypothesis explains why Vitamin D, Zinc, Ivermectin, Hydroxycholorqin, and Quercetin together provide a potent cocktail for treatment. Now let’s see some large scale studies quickly!

The Bradykinin storm is a big part of this, for sure, there’s also a cytokine storm to watch out for, and coagulation problem, but I have an interesting tip and anecdote about that.

In Germany, some hospitals are using a dipstick to test urine for possibly kidney/organ failure. We know a subset of the COVID patients will get sicker, and by testing the urine, we can catch possible organ failure before extensive damage is done.

If we are aware of this, aggressively anti-coagulating the blood can protect from some damage to the heart and brain and other organs caused by clots. 

Once you’re at risk for deterioration, starting antiviral medication would provide a better case outcome.

I was thinking recently back to one of the first outrage stories of China’s handling of the Wuhan outbreak, and my gut feeling was that those who cried bloody murder at the thought of welding shut doors to prevent a pandemic are idealistic that have never had to make or live with hard choices. While it’s easy to say “the ends don’t justify the means” and “we can’t sentence a person to death to save a million,” isn’t that exactly what justice and prison are based upon? They are interfering with the happiness of those harmful individuals so that the greater collective body may prosper? 

I remember people freaking out at the online video claiming to be Chinese city workers in Wuhan welding shut people’s doors. Of course, it seems “extreme,” but was it really any more extreme than putting someone under house arrest or in prison? Was there any example of a “fire that someone couldn’t escape from,” which was the big go-to worry? At the time, I tried to look deeper into the story, and from my understanding, many people who were home quarantining in those early days were simply told not to leave and had food brought to them. A string was put around their door. For those who repeatedly violated quarantine and were putting their family, friends, neighbors, community, and all of China at risk, the door was welded shut to keep them inside. This was seen as draconian and ‘uncivil.’ In retrospect, now that China can safely open schools, companies, and have people working, paying rent, the economy is running again, I wonder if people in countries that still haven’t seen the extent of their own’ pandemic horror’ might want to reflect upon what it’s like to have to make some hard choices. Masks for all quarantined infected and enforced good behavior limited the number of casualties, the strain on our health care system, the time children had to take off school, and the number of businesses and people that went bankrupt. The “looser” restrictions in some western countries created conditions that are much more protracted, difficult, and in many ways, more traumatic for more people. Hard choices upfront can save a lot of grief later. The US scoffed at the fierce enforcement of a Chinese lockdown but now close to 200,000 Americans have died, and millions are sick, and the economy, businesses, schools, and the mental health of so many are suffering. I am proud, ultimately, of any country that did the right thing and reacted swiftly and strongly. As I wrote in The Invisible War, “Everything we do before a pandemic will seem alarmist. Everything we do after will seem inadequate.” — Michael Leavitt,

It’s better to be seen as alarmist than inadequate.

During a trump boat rally, several boats sunk. I feel like this says so much about everything trump stands for: his policies fail, Trump’s America is sinking. His followers do not seem like capable captains or competent seamen. And his administration is taking on water, as the many rats flee his sinking ships. He did not drain the swamp: he is a swamp monster, born of the American justice system’s inequity and cruelty and systematic oppression of minorities and the poor and working class. “(White people) need to be coached up, and they need to be educated about what the heck is going on in the world,” Seatle Seahawks head coach Peter Carroll said. “Black people can’t scream anymore, they can’t march anymore, they can’t bear their souls anymore to what they’ve lived with for hundreds of years because white guys came over from Europe and started a new country with a great idea and great ideals and wrote down great writings and laws and all of that about democracy and freedom and equality for all. And then that’s not what happened, because we went down this road here and followed economics—rich white guys making money—and they put together a system of slavery, and we’ve never left it. It has never gone away. And Black people know the truth, and they know exactly what’s going on. It’s white people who don’t know. It’s not that they’re not telling us; they’ve been telling us the stories. We know what’s right and what’s wrong. We just have not been open to listening to it. We’ve been unwilling to accept the real history. We’ve been taught a false history of what happened in this country, we’ve been basing things on false premises, and it has not been about equality for all, it has not been about freedom for all, it has not been an opportunity for all, and it needs to be. This is a humanity issue we’re dealing with. This is a white people’s issue to get over and learn what’s going on and figure it out and start loving everybody who is part of our country and wants to our country, wherever they want to come from.” I just wanted to quote that because it’s pretty smart. 2020 is not just a COVID-19 issue, it’s opened up so many wormy cans, and we’ve decided that society does not function equitably for anyone anymore. We are ready for a redo. We demand something that works for everyone.

And now a moment of silence for the victims of the American Domestic Terrorist Attack- RIP Jojo Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber. If you even stand for Black Lives – your life is devalued. I can’t stand how some people are defending the shooter and his mom, who drove him across state lines armed with automatic pistols (a felony offense), with the idea he was some kind of hero. There is no legal militia. They were not deputized. What do you call armed insurgents who shoot people and create panic? Terrorists. According to the FBI, they are white national terrorists, the #1 threat to peace in America. I say, to hell with that kid, man, why is there so much hate in the world? When people’s lives suck, they look for someone to blame instead of working harder and making something of themselves. I think that’s why there are so many poor ass rural white folks in trump country; they lost all their auto jobs and shit. Now they drink too much, no money, no health care, no dreams, no idea what to do, and they see people of color, new immigrants to America, be it Mexican, Chinese, whatever, working hard, getting educated, making their lives mean something, and it attacks them — with all their “white privilege” and historical “top dog position” they’re just some poor sap with no money instead of getting off their ass and doing something they drive around pretending they won a war for slavery 200 years ago and wanting to shoot people who actually are kicking ass at life. TO. HELL. WITH. THOSE. PEOPLE, MAN.

As I write this, men are drilling holes all over my home. They’re preparing to fill the house with gas. My beautiful sanctuary is in shambles, as I scramble to save what I can from the mess.  

I leave you with a thought. “HOW DOES IT HELP…TO MAKE TROUBLES HEAVIER BY BEMOANING THEM?” – SENECA

Life contains a lot of suffering, it’s hard. However, people increase their suffering by holding onto their troubles and magnifying them. This is done whenever you moan, complain, play the victim. The alternative is to look at your adversity, find out what you can learn from it, take responsibility for your growth, and move on.

Very little can be gained by floundering in self-pity or blaming the world for your disaster. These things are hooks that hold you to the past and pull you down into the streams of your suffering.

“WHEN WE ARE NO LONGER ABLE TO CHANGE A SITUATION, WE ARE CHALLENGED TO CHANGE OURSELVES.” – VIKTOR FRANKL

This idea loops back to Epictetus’ Dichotomy of Control. There are many things around us that we have the ability to change. However, there are more things that are totally outside the sphere of our control.

When we find that we have done all we can to change our circumstances, but we still suffer, we are then tested to look inside ourselves. 

We have the capacity to lessen distress by transforming how we regard our circumstances. Can we find something positive in it? Are there any possibilities for growth? Will, this trial make us more resilient in the future? Can we learn anything from this?

“DON’T EXPLAIN YOUR PHILOSOPHY. EMBODY IT.” – EPICTETUS

 The benefits of studying philosophy can be profound. There is a massive wealth of practical knowledge hidden in the pages of books and essays. 

 There are also benefits in discussing our philosophy, how we deal with challenges, and our views on some of life’s more difficult problems.

 However, Epictetus points out that reading and discussion are only part of the puzzle. To see the full benefits of our frameworks, we need to personify them. We need to practice what we preach, walk the walk, and not just talk the talk.

As I sign off, there is another bit of good news: more schools in Canada are looking at outdoor classes, all year long. We are learning from our past selves, what worked in 1918-1920 for the Spanish Flu pandemic will help us thrive despite COVID-19. More lessons from the pandemic can be read here.