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Odd Lots

  • Pertinent to my last two entries here: City Journal proposes what I proposed two years ago: To reduce the toxicity of social media, slow it down. What they propose is not exponential delays of replies and retweets to replies and retweets until those delays extend fifteen minutes or more. Like a nuclear reactor control rod, that would slow the explosion down until the hotheads cooled off or got bored and went elsewhere. Instead, they suggest Twitter insist on a minimum of 280 characters to posts. That might help some, but if the clue is to slow down viral posts, eliminate the middleman and just slow down responses until “viral” becomes so slow that further response simply stops.
  • A statistical study of mask use vs. COVID-19 outcomes found no correlation between mask use and better outcomes, but actually discovered some small correlation between mask use and worse outcomes. Tough read, but bull through it.
  • While not as systematic as the above study, an article on City Journal drives another nail in the coffin of “masks as infection prevention.” Graph the infection rates in states with mask mandates and states with no mask mandates and they come out…almost exactly the same.
  • Our Sun is getting rowdy, and getting rowdier earlier than expected. Cycle 25 is starting out with a bang. Recent cycles have been relatively peaceful, and nobody is suggesting that Cycle 25 will be anything close to the Cycle 19 peak (1957-58) which was the most active sunspot max in instrumental history. What Cycle 25 may turn out to be is average, which mean 20 meters may start to become a lot more fun than it has been in recent (slow) years.
  • And this leads to another question I’ve seen little discussion on: To what extent are damaging solar storms correlated to sunspot peaks? The huge solar storm of 1921 took place closer to the sunspot minimum than the maximum. The legendary Carrington event of 1859 took place during the fairly weak Cycle 10. As best I can tell, it’s about individual sunspots, and not the general state of the Sun at any point in time.
  • NASA’s Perseverence Mars rover caught a solar eclipse, when Phobos crossed the disk of the Sun as seen from Perseverence. The video of the eclipse was sped up, but it really is a startling image, especially if you know a little about Phobos, which is decidedly non-spherical.
  • I found this very cool: An online, Web-based x86/x64 assembler/disassembler. Although intended for computer security pros, I found it a lot of fun and it may turn out to be useful here and there as I begin to revise my assembly book for the fourth time.
  • Skipping sleep can lead to putting on belly fat, which is absolutely the worst place to have it. Get all the sleep you can, duh. Sleep is not optional.
  • How many stars are there in the observable universe? It’s a far trickier and sublter calculation than you might think. But the final number looked familiar to me, and might look familiar to people who do low-level programming.

Odd Lots

  • I got caught in an April Fools hoax that (as my mother would say) sounded too true to be funny: That Tesla canceled all plans to produce its Cybertruck. (Read the last sentence, as I failed to do.) I like Musk; he has guts and supports space tech. About his Cybertruck concept, um…no. It looks like an origami, or else something that escaped from a third-shelf video game. The world would go on without it, and he might use the money to do something even cooler, whatever that might be.
  • Oh, and speaking of Elon Musk: He just bought almost 10% of Twitter, to the tune of about $3B. He is now the biggest outside shareholder. This is not a hoax, and I wonder if it’s only the beginning. Twitter is famous for suspending people without explaining what they did wrong, sometimes for things that seem ridiculously innocuous. A major shareholder could put pressure on Twitter’s management from the inside to cut out that kind of crap. It’s been done elsewhere. And boy, if anybody can do it, he can.
  • Nuclear energy has the highest capacity factor of any form of energy, meaning the highest percentage of time that energy producers spend actually producing energy. I knew that from my readings on the topic. What shocked me is that there is in fact an Office of Nuclear Energy under the DOE. I’m glad they exist, but boy, they hide well.
  • The Register (“Biting the hand that feeds IT”) published a fascinating article about how C has slowly evolved into an Interface Definition Language (IDL). C was never intended to do that, and actually does a pretty shitty job of it. Ok, I’m not a software engineer, but the way to build a new operating system is to define the IDL first, and work backwards from there. C is now 50 years old, sheesh. It’s time to start again, and start fresh, using a language (like Rust) that actually supports some of the security features (like memory protection and safe concurrency) that C lacks. This is not Pascal sour grapes. I’m studying Rust, even though I may never develop anything using it. Somehow, it just smells like the future.
  • Drinking wine with food (as I almost always do) may reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. It’s not taken up in the article, but I have this weird hunch that sweet wines weren’t part of the study. Residual sugar is a real thing, and I’m drinking way less of it than I did 20 years ago.
  • People have been getting in fistfights over this for most of a century, but establishing Standard Time year-round may be better than year-round Daylight Savings Time. I’m mostly neutral on the issue. Arizona is on permanent DST and we like it fine. The problems really occur at high latitudes, where there isn’t much daylight in winter to begin with, so shifting it an hour in either direction doesn’t actually help much.
  • There is Macaroni and Cheese Ice Cream. From Kraft. Really. I wouldn’t lie to you. In fact, I doubt I would even imagine it, and I can imagine a lot.
  • Optimists live longer than pessimists–especially older optimists. Dodging enough slings and arrows of outrageous fortune somehow just makes the whole world look brighter, I guess.
  • Finally, some stats suggesting that our hyperpartisan hatefest online has pushed a lot of people out of political parties into the independent zone–where I’ve been most of my post-college life. 42% of Americans are political independents, compared to 29% who are Democrats and 27% who are Republicans. I’m on Twitter, but I don’t post meanness and (as much as possible) don’t read it. And if Mr. Musk has his way with them, I may be able to post links to ivermectin research without getting banned.

Odd Lots

Does Zinc Interfere with mRNA Vaccines?

During my reasearch into how SARS2 mRNA vaccines operate, a very odd notion occurred to me: Can zinc ions interfere with vaccines?

It’s an important question for Carol and me. At the advice of our doctor, we’ve been taking zinc supplements and an OTC supplement called quercetin now for well over a year. We’d been taking it for months before we got the Pfizer vacc.

(If you’ve not read up on mRNA vaccines yet, this short explanation for laypeople is the best I’ve seen so far.)

The Pfizer vacc is the first of its kind. Vaccination is the process of familiarizing our immune systems with a specific pathogen. This is generally done by injecting weakened or fragmentary pathogens into the patient. The immune system reacts to those weakened or fragmentary pathogens and develops enough familiarity with them to attack the little devils on sight.

Making large quantities of a whole or partial pathogen is a slow business. Because time was of the essence, Pfizer used a new mechanism called mRNA, which literally creates a sort of crude virus using RNA sequences. This RNA virus enters human cells in the patient and begins manufacturing parts of the target pathogen. In the case of SARS2, it’s the spike proteins. Our immune systems then recognize the spike proteins as enemy action, and kill anything having that specific spike protein.

I twitched a little when I figured this out. We’re infecting ourselves with a virus that makes virus parts in our own cells, thus avoiding the delay of having to generate gazillions of doses in vitro. It’s an elegant solution, sure, and we were able to get it on the street in record time. There are a lot of fistfights going on right now over the issue of serious side effects. I’ll leave that discussion to others. The issue here is fundamentally different from that of side effects.

Carol and I had plenty of zinc ions in our systems when we were vaccinated. The quercetin (taken daily) is a zinc ionophore. It “escorts” zinc ions into a cell. Zinc really doesn’t like virus replication, and stops it cold. This is how some clinicians have been treating COVID-19: by giving patients zinc and a zinc ionophore as soon as symptoms appear.

My question is simple: Can zinc + a zinc ionophore block the mRNA vaccine’s spike protein replication process?

Don’t say, “Of course not!” I doubt that question has even come up yet, given the media’s mad-dog attack job done on a certain zinc ionophore called HCQ. We don’t know. If you’ve seen somebody take up this question elsewhere, send me a link. I’ve begun to wonder if the shots we were given actually took, and if they did, to what extent. We reacted to the shots, which is a good sign. That doesn’t mean the generated immune response wasn’t weak, brief, or both.

The issue isn’t whether the vaccines work. The issue is whether we were in fact fully vaccinated at all. And y’know, about things like that I’d really like to be sure.

Omicron as Variolation

My Irish grandmother Sade was a very funny woman, and if I have any gift for humor myself, it came down from her through my father. She had funny words for things, and it was years after she died that I realized that a lot of them were real words. “Oinchek” (or close) meant “goofball” or perhaps “dumbass” in Irish slang. “Redshanks” were Irish and Scottish mercenaries of the 16th century. Sade used the term for imaginary creatures who dug up her tomato garden; we pictured them as mice in red pants. “Gomog” hasn’t turned up in my research and may be Sade’s coinage, but it’s another term for “goofball.” Then there’s “omathaun,” (simpleton, fool) which I thought Sade invented until I heard it used in Disney’s Mary Poppins. And last week, when I first heard of the “omicron variant,” I initially read it as the “omathaun variant.”

Heh. In some respects, all the variants have been omathaun variants, judging by mainstream media reactions. Oh yeah…I keep forgetting…say it with me now…we’re all gonna die!!

Fecking ijits. (You can figure that one out for yourself. Sade never used it in our hearing but it’s real.) The South African researcher who identified the omicron variant told the media that the symptoms of omicron are “unusual but mild.” Reading her description, well, it sounds like the common cold. Milder, even. In fact, the symptoms are at such variance from COVID-19 that my first reaction was, is SARS2 really behind it? Evidently that’s been established to most everyone’s satisfaction. And that’s a good thing.

Omicron could end the pandemic.

Work with me here. I have no citations to offer; this is pure speculation on my part. Omicron appears to be what evolutionists and epidemiologists predicted long ago: a mutation that spreads easily but causes a less serious disease. What it leaves in its wake is natural immunity, which doesn’t exist according to the media, but to everyone with half a brain and some education, it does. (You can get thrown off of Twitter or Facebook for even mentioning it.)

If omicron really is SARS2, then a person who gets it, stays home for a day or three and then recovers, may come away with immunity to all variants of SARS2. The fistfight over whether natural immunity is stronger and longer-lasting than vaccine immunity is ongoing. Given that the CDC no longer states that the vaccines impart immunity at all, I’m betting that natural immunity is indeed stronger and broader and longer-lasting.

As Edward Jenner discovered circa 1790, people who had recovered from a mild disease called cowpox (many of them women who milked cows) didn’t get smallpox. Jenner found that deliberately infecting people with cowpox imparted immunity to smallpox. Jenner invented vaccination, which for a long time was called variolation, after variola, the scientific name for the smallpox virus.

Omicron may finish off an inadvertent ongoing regimen of SARS2 variolation. A great many people around the world have already fought off SARS2 and are now immune to it. Vaccinated people who get breakthrough infections will come away with immunity. Those who haven’t been infected will probably get omicron eventually. They may not even realize that they had it. Omicron may “fill in the cracks” of SARS2 immunity, and turn the damned thing from pandemic to endemic, like flu. People still die from the flu every year, and we don’t go into a screaming panic over it. Or…omicron could make SARS2 rare enough that it mostly disappears. Where’s SARS1 these days, anyway?

The comparison may not be germane; I don’t know. The important thing is to read news from many sources (including international sources) and not panic. From all I’ve read (and I read a lot) the end of the pandemic is definitely in sight.

Rant: One Jab to Rule Them All

I monitor the COVID scene pretty closely. I read the stats, I read research papers, and I read the stuff that Twitter and Facebook won’t let you post, even though I have to turn my crank filter up a little. (These days, my crank filter is usually at 5 or 6 just reading local Arizona headlines.) I read news that disappoints me, if it makes a good case. Last week, a columnist I follow pointed out that studies showing that ivermectin works against COVID tend to come from places where parasites are endemic. Knock out the parasites (which is what ivermectin definitely does) and you have people better able to mount a robust immune response against COVID. So maybe ivermectin isn’t an antiviral after all. (The long-form piece from which the analysis came is well work a look, even if it’s a slog.)

That said, I am appalled at the willingness of MDs and hospitals to stand around and wait for people to die, when a course of ivermectin costs almost nothing and as best I can tell (MDs won’t talk about it) the human formulation of ivermectin has few side effects taken at established doses. So why not try it?

Nobody can tell me. And nobody can explain the slobbering, twitching, eyes-rolled-back-in-the-head fury tantrums people in the mainstream media throw when anybody with a platform suggests it. I have a simple question: Will it hurt? If so, how?

Nobody can tell me. Er…nobody will tell me. At this point, I don’t think I need to be an MD to know the answer. It won’t.

I think I know something else. I think I know why the media is doing all that slobbering, apart from the fact that they’ve had lots of practice and are mighty good at it. Stand by. I’ll get to that. In fact, that’s the whole point of this rant.

But first, let’s talk about the new antiviral pill that Pfizer has ready to roll, pending FDA approval. Pfizer is claiming that its new drug, Paxlovid, cuts hospitalizations and deaths by 90%. Even the Washington Post is bullish on Paxlovid.

So why hasn’t the FDA granted Pfizer an EUA allowing the drug to go on the market immdiately? The drug companies had such good results that with FDA approval they ended the tests early.

Still no pills. It’s possible that Pfizer is arguing with the FDA and the Biden administration about pricing. You know damned well the pills won’t be cheap. New drugs never are.

In the meantime, I stand scratching my head over news that in the world’s most heavily vaccinated countries, new cases and hospitalizations are off the charts. One might almost begin to entertain a certain sneaky but unavoidable suspicion that the vaccines don’t really work. Sorry: A vaccine that protects for four or five months (if that) doesn’t work. And then there’s the question of what “protection” actually means. Recall the stealthy walk-back by the CDC of what the vaccine is capable of doing. They silently erased the statement that the vaccines grant immunity to SARS2 from their web site, replacing the word “immunity” with the non-technical term “protection.” The next step was to state that the vaccine doesn’t prevent infection, but merely makes the infection less dangerous. Oh–the vaccine doesn’t keep the vaccinated from spreading the disease. So…what does it do again?

Gibraltar is 118% vaccinated (the number includes non-Gibraltar Spaniards who commute to their jobs on the island nation) and the virus is eating them alive. Ditto Ireland, with 91% vaccinated. How is that possible?

Still no EUA and no pills. And I have a theory as to why: Treating COVID-19 patients as soon as symptoms appear will end the pandemic. If you get the virus, you get natural immunity. Eventually, people capable of spreading infection become so sparse that the virus has nowhere to go that it hasn’t already been.

And that’s good, right? End the pandemic with (ok, sure, expensive) pills?

Depends. I’ve identified something about the pandemic that I call the “One Ring Effect.” Sauron sank so much of his power into the One Ring that destroying the One Ring ended not only his power, but Sauron himself. Ever since the vaccine was first available, it was sold as The One Solution. It soon became forbidden to talk about treatment or natural immunity. The media, government, Big Medicine and Big Tech all were screaming that THE VACCINE IS THE ONLY THING STANDING BETWEEN US AND DEATH!!!!!

Taking Ireland and Gibraltar into consideration, well…no. And hell no.

If Pfizer’s pills work (and from what I see online I suspect they do) those pills can stop a SARS2 infection in its tracks, before the infection becomes serious enough to warrant hospitalization but after natural immunity develops. It might take six months or a year, but it will reduce the virus from a death-threat to a minor nuisance. Get symptoms, get tested, get pills, get over it. No more pandemic.

Now, if the vaccine didn’t stop the pandemic but pills do, then all that screaming was for nothing. Government at all levels will lose face to a degree history has never before seen. The public will realize that they’ve been fooled by people who claim to be experts but are just power-drunk political hacks, who poured all their power into The One Vaccine. Those little Frodo Pills threw the pandemic into the volcano, greatly diminishing the power of governments to bulldoze a country into totalitarian mandates that do nothing but generate ill-will.

Governments will not like this. And since the mainstream media are mostly government cheerleaders in ugly clothes, they won’t like it either. There will be other consequences too, but I’ve made my main point: The pandemic was to a great degree about power. The powerful don’t want it to be over. They oversold themselves as protectors. This is why there was so much slobbering over HCQ, ivermectin, and almost anything else that was a possible treatment. From gormless mask-fetish busybodies in grocery stories all the way up to the highest levels of government, SARS2 provided a sense of power and meaning. People who have little power and no identifiable meaning in their lives just love it and want it to last forever.

Bring ’em on, FDA. Those pills will change the world. Oh–and they will change you, too. Get used to it.

Ok, this was a rant. You know what a rant is, right? (I don’t do them often enough to have a reputation for them.) I am not an anti-vaxxer. Carol and I have had our shots. Angry or accusing comments will be nuked without regret.

Odd Lots

  • Sandia Labs has invented a way to extract metals from coal ash, including rare-earth metals used in batteries and electronics. Furthermore, they do this using food-grade citric acid, which is relatively benign from an environmental standpoint. The treatment makes the coal ash residue much less toxic, and thus easier to dispose of.
  • It took a few seconds to decide if this listicle item was in fact satire, but it seems to be factually accurate, to the extent that facts are presented. Behold a stack rank of The Most Miserable Cities in America. Arizona has both ends covered: Bullhead City is the most miserable city in the state, but Scottsdale is said to be the happiest city, and Phoenix the city with the greatest job security. The Phoenix suburb of Gilbert has the lowest poverty rate, not just in Arizona but in the whole country.
  • A lot of misery is caused by debt. Here’s another stack rank of our 50 states (it’s a long piece; scroll down to find the full table) this time by debt per capita. Arizona is #42, which I consider pretty good. Wyoming is #50. My home state of Illinois is #4. and, as usual, the king in this wretched wreck of a castle is…skip the drumroll, please–New York.
  • Mary Pat Campbell operates a fascinating site called Actuarial News, which aggregates articles about economics, risk and statistics in many areas, including COVID. She’s an excellent aggregator, in that her capsule summaries save time for me by letting me decide quickly whether a piece is worth reading in full. Highly recommended.
  • Arizona has administered 8,197,928 doses of COVID vaccine as of today. 59% of the population is fully vaccinated, while 69.5% of eligible persons are fully vaccinated, including 88% of the over-65 cohort. Unfortunately, the state does not track breakthrough infections, which are a topic of great interest to me right now.
  • Every new Windows 10 machine I’ve bought in the last couple of years has pestered me to “get even more out of Windows” at boot time. You can’t kill the screen except to delay it by 3 days. Here’s how to kill it so it never comes up again. I’ve done this on three machines so far and it’s worked every time.
  • Antarctica just had its coldest winter on record . Average temp there went down to -61.1C, the coldest ever recorded. Russia’s Vostok station went down to -79C, (-110F) just one degree from the coldest temp ever recorded on Earth. Brrrr! As for fear of the Antarctic ice melting and killing us all, well…don’t sweat it.
  • From the No Shit, Sherlock department comes a revelation that full-fat dairy products do not increase heart disease risk. I’ve been following the high-fat/low-fat issue for 20 years, and this is not new knowledge. Of course, the knucklehead interviewed at the end said that non-tropical vegetable oils are even healthier than dairy fat. To the contrary.
  • A study performed by a Native American health service found that treating COVID-19 patients with monoclonal antibodies was very effective: Only 17% of infected patients treated in the study were later admitted to a hospital, and only 3% died.
  • Here’s another drug to watch for early-intervention COVID-19 treatment: fluvoxamine (Luvox) which is a well-understood SSRI antidepressant that also has anti-inflammatory properties. See this paper published in the journal Open Forum Infectious Diseases.
  • Merck has a new antiviral in testing with “phenomenal” success against SARS-COV-2 . It will cost $70/pill. Why is there a furious war being waged against ivermectin? It’s a well-understood and safe generic that costs $2/pill. Meanwhile, much of the health industry, including hospitals, clinics, pharmacists, and even doctors (who should know better) are standing around watching people die, even as evidence is piling up that ivermectin is effective against early COVID-19. Merck’s new drug may be a gamechanger, but the game is crooked as hell.

  • Since we’re talking about diseases, I’ll throw this in: Certainty is a disease. An interesting piece from Inc explains how certainty is a key element of the Dunning-Kruger effect. My own views go like this: Certainty and competence are inversely related. The more certain you are, the less competent you’re likely to be. Many years observing humanity suggests to me that the more you scream about how right you are, the more likely you are to be wrong.

Odd Lots

  • Research shows that ivermectin works. Here’s a paper published this past July in The American Journal of Therapeutics. I’ve read in a number of places that ivermectin is one of the safest drugs known. No, the FDA hasn’t approved its use against COVID-19. The Pfizer vaccine wasn’t FDA approved either until a few days ago. I can’t help but think that people are dying needlessly because of all the government screaming and yelling about people taking horse medicine, when taking horse medicine is a vanishingly small phenom. If ivermectin has no serious side effects, why not let doctors try it? What’s the downside?
  • Here’s a 30-page review of evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of ivermectin in treating COVID-19. Again, if it’s a safe drug that’s been on the market and widely studied for 30+ years, why not let people try it?
  • It’s become harder and harder to find evidence of the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) in combination with zinc. I’ve looked. The early clinical experience emphasized that the two work together or not at all. I find it weird that nearly all the studies I’ve seen test HCQ either alone or with azithromycin–but not zinc. Clinical evidence shows that the combo doesn’t work well on late and severe cases, but rather when symptoms first appear. Still, if ivermectin works as well as recent studies show, HCQ’s moment may have come and gone.
  • I may have backed the wrong horse. Recent research seems to show that the Moderna vaccine generates twice the antibodies as the Pfizer vaccine does. Now let’s see some research on the rates of breakthrough infections versus vaccine type.
  • Here are some recent stats on the prevalence of breakthrough infections. The real eye-opener would be to know which vaccine is best at preventing breakthrough infections. That said, the chances of breakthrough infections occurring is very low. If you don’t read the paper, at least skim down to find the odds chart. Cancer risk is 1 in 7. Breakthrough infection risk is 1 in 137,698. I like those odds.
  • Ugggh. Enough virus crap. Let’s talk about something else. My pre-2000 pandemic penny jar (a thick glass bottle that once held cream from Straus Family Creamery) continues to fill. Last week I got a 1950-D wheat penny. A few days ago I got something a little odd: A 2 Euro cent coin from Ireland, dated 2002. It’s almost precisely the same size as a US penny, and if I didn’t look closely at coins I might have missed the fact that it was 19 years and an ocean away from home. Getting pennies from the 1980s is an almost everyday thing now. The penny jars are clearly still out there and still emptying into the McDonald’s till.
  • We lived near Santa Cruz for three and a half years and never visited its famous Mystery Spot. It turns out that mystery spots, roads, hills, and holes are all over the place. Here’s another interesting compendium. Yes, it’s bullshit. Yet I get the impression that it’s often very clever bullshit, and I wouldn’t mind getting a look at one or two.

Odd (COVID) Lots

  • Here’s an excellent summary of studies of SARS-CoV-2 mask effectiveness from Swiss Policy Research. It’s not an article so much as a list of research studies and papers from mostly European sources, all with links. A number of very clear graphs indicate how infections have mapped to mask mandates. The news is all bad for mask fetishists: Masks do not appear to have any significant effect on the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Be sure to watch the video, which supports my long-term contention that masks propel aerosol viruses via jets around their edges. Given how far air from those jets travels, I’d guess that being next to a person jetting around a mask is more dangerous than standing the same distance from somone not wearing a mask at all.
  • Here’s another solid item from Swiss Policy Research on COVID-19 treatment protocols. The US seems peculiarly reluctant to actively treat the disease with known protocols like zinc plus an ionophore or (for no reason I can discover) ivermectin. Yes, ivermectin does work. There is some recent research suggesting that HCQ + zinc will not work, but against that is a fair amount of research, some pioneered by Dr. Zev Zelenko in New York. Here’s the study to which Dr. Zelenko contributed.
  • If masks don’t work, what’s the best thing to do? Our doc suggested taking quercetin plus 50mg zinc gluconate every morning as a preventive. Quercetin is a strong ionophore that escorts zinc into cells where it can stop viral replication. Note that not all zinc is created equal. The bioavailability of zinc oxide is essentially zero. Stick with sulfate or gluconate. Quercetin is OTC; we use the NOW formulation that includes bromelain. Whether quercetin is as strong an ionophore as HCQ is something I’ve researched and found nothing useful. I find it interesting that quercetin is used in Erope to treat existing infections, and not merely as a preventive.
  • Nitay Arbel posted a link to a study suggesting that the Moderna vaccine’s protective effect is longer-lasting the the Pfizer vaccine’s. If you’re interested in pandemic science at all (as opposed to pandemic politics) bookmark his site and check it regularly.
  • Here’s a paper that discusses the differences between ivermectin and HCQ against COVID-19. The TLDR summary is that ivermectin acts against both early cases and more advanced cases, while HCQ+zinc work far better in early cases than advanced cases. HCQ alone doesn’t work at all. I’d suggest bookmarking the page because it contains a huge number of links to pertinent research of all kinds.
  • If you’ve never supplemented zinc before and are confused by all the options, this page will lay it all out. It’s a subtler business than I originally thought.

Masks as Inadvertent Variolation

Yesterday’s post on the effectiveness of masks reminded me of something I had taken notes on over a year ago: masks as variolation. The insight wasn’t original to me, but alas, I don’t recall where I first saw it.

Variolation, if you’re not familiar with the term, is the process of generating immunity to a virus by exposing people to small amounts of the virus. It was invented for (and named after) smallpox (variola). The process, however, can be applied to other viruses. I wonder if wearing a so-so mask within a population carrying SARS-CoV-2 would allow the inhalation of enough virus to cause antibody generation via a mild or even asymptomatic infection, but not enough to cause a full-bore and possibly severe symptomatic case.

This isn’t where I saw it, but an article in the New England Journal of Medicine from late 2020 makes precisely this point. In my article on masks I was talking about the aggregate effectiveness of masks, which depends on how many viruses you inhale through the filtration medium–and how many viruses are squirted out through jets at the edges of your mask when you exhale. No mask is perfect. A lot of them are worthless, but quite a few are effective enough to reduce viral load by some percentage, which obviously varies by the type of mask and how it’s worn.

Which brings me to my pet peeve, which is pertinent here: The media never talks about COVID-19 deaths. They only talk about cases, which can include mild or asymptomatic infections–or, in truth, false positives on the fluky PCR test. What the media absolutely will not talk about is natural immunity, that is, immunity conferred by an actual infection with the pathogen. We know such infections happen. We have no idea how prevalent they are. My hunch is that many or most of these new cases are not cases as generally understood (a sick person!) but positive tests from people who have had an infection and threw it off, perhaps thinking it was a cold or without even knowing they’d had anything at all.

I’ve seen studies indicating that natural immunity is stronger and longer-lasting than vaccination immunity. This post on The Blaze mentions some of them. What this means is that the “exploding case count” the pornpushers are screaming about could well be a count of positive-test people who now have natural immunity and will probably never contract the disease again.

How could this be? Simple: The vaccine gives you a quantity of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which teaches your immune system to recognize the virus by its spikes. An actual COVID-19 infection teaches your immune system about the whole damned virus, spikes and everything else.

Obviously, nobody wants to catch the disease, since the panic industry has pushed what I call “mask-it or casket” porn, typically just-so stories of some guy who claims the vaccine is fake and then dies of COVID the next day. The vaccine is not fake; Carol and I got it as soon as we were eligible. (I do wonder whether we would test positive under PCR. It might be worth the cost of the tests to find out.) What I’m talking about is that huge unknown: how prevalent natural immunity is–and how we came to get it.

Masks don’t protect you completely (as the government seems to imply) but they protect you some–and maybe enough to generate that natural immunity without suffering from the disease itself. That’s variolation.

As several of my friends have found, even mentioning “natural immunity” on Twitter or Facebook will get you banned, most likely because natural immunity argues against all the panic, and argues in favor of our hitting a degree of herd immunity (also a ban-attractor) soon or even already. Remember: A case is a positive test, symptoms or no symptoms. It’s very rare to contract the disease again after you’ve had it and thrown it off. It’s much more common to contract it after vaccination. (We’re ready for that, though given the prevalence of comment harpies, I’ll share details only with people I trust, and then one-on-one.)

Now, this notion of masks as variolation is just speculation. I bring it up because it exposes a huge gap in the coverage of COVID-19 that we’re getting from conventional online sources, who are censoring all mention of natural immunity and its related topics. It’s also why I keep my own instance of WordPress on my own hosting service rather than an account on the WordPress site. I don’t talk about controversial topics very often, but when I do, I don’t want the conversation to be suppressed.