Friday, March 27, 2020

ERs Like "War Zones" So How Did Two Stanford "Medical" Profs Misfire On COVID-19's Real Threat?



"If you people and your governors treated me nicer I'd make sure you had enough masks!"

"It's just keeps getting worse and worse, today we had to get a refrigerated truck to store the bodies for the already dead patients.  The frustrating thing about all this is it just feels like it's too little. too late.  Like we knew it was coming and did little or nothing. Five ventilators is all we have." Dr. Colleen Smith, Elmhurst Hospital, NYC

"I fully recognize I am choosing between saving peoples lives and saving peoples' livelihoods. But ultimately you can't have a livelihood if you don't have your life." - Illionois Gov. J. B. Pritzker

"Nurses who are testing positive are actually being asked to come in and care for patients and to wear garbage bags for protective gear." - Dr David Agus, CBS, March 26

"We are standing on the edge of the ocean in the dark. We’re waiting for the wave to hit and we have no idea how high the wave is going to be.... You have trusted the system your whole life to keep you safe.  You keep waiting for the system to kick in. But you realize no one’s coming to save us.” Dr.Vicki Jackson, head of Palliative Care, MASS General, quoted in NY Times

"Have you seen the HBO show ‘Chernobyl’? There are invisible risks that trail you, just like with this virus...”  -   Dr. Michelle Au,  Anesthesiologist, Emory St. Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta, Ga., quoted in NY Times

"We've ended up being far more unprepared than anyone expected,  and one of the main reasons for that is the failure of testing. None of the experts I talked to expected that America -with its biomedical power- would completely fail to roll out widespread testing for a new pathogen. The scope of that failure has really cascaded through the country's preparedness measures."  Ed Yong, Staff writer, The Atlantic


"When Trump stands in the White House briefing room and — in a performance that is played live for millions of viewers across the country — acts as though the situation is under control, there’s no sense of the devastation that is sweeping the country.  He fights with governors, he insults reporters, he attacks China, and he boasts about his own (rather disastrous) performance. Often, he flat-out lies. He misrepresents the science, frequently contradicting his own experts, and he twists facts to suit his preferred narrative." - Cody Fenwick, smirkingchimp.com

Even as we learned yesterday the U.S. has now attained the dubious distinction  of having the most confirmed COVID-19 infections, millions of citizens remain stupefied like zombies in Trump's perverted orbit.  See e.g.



What gives?  One Gallup Poll - totally unbelievable given the times and Trump's total incompetence-  saw 60 % of voters now approving of Trump's shitstorm response.  As I read it I decided not to mention a word to Janice as it would be another piece of evidence for her that most Americans are cretins and morons. How could they not be? There is something especially infuriating as well as depressing when one beholds the interior of ERs with a shortage of ventilators, and the dead bodies having to be put into refrigeration trucks for storage. This was revealed via a jarring video released on CBS yesterday morning showing the inside of an overwhelmed ER at Elmhurst hospital in Queens.  This was compliments of Dr. Colleen Smith, who believes - as I firmly do - Americans need to see what the hell is going on in our overwhelmed hospitals, ERs.  (Described by one EMS worker as a "war zone" on CBS this morning.  Of course, yesterday we beheld the sorry spectacle of these front line doctors, nurses, having to use Hefty Trash Bags as protective gowns.)

ERs are overloaded specially in NYC now at the epicenter of this COVID-19 eruption, but New Orleans is soon to follow and likely Miami too. All over, but at different levels, medical personnel in the U.S., are still being victimized by the incompetent buffoon in the White House. A buffoon and traitor who insists on conducting a state vs. state  social Darwinian "free for all".  Having states  try to outbid each other for desperately needed N95 masks and ventilators, instead of delivering these critical supplies via a national coordination.  But see that would take too much leadership skill, and devotion to the welfare of the nation as opposed to oneself- which Capt. Bonespurs lacks. 

So this derelict, deranged  pretender would rather play favorites in a crisis - giving supplies to those like Reepo Gov. Ron Desantis in Florida (still keeping his state mostly open) -  but denying resources like N95 masks, ventilators  to the Blue states like NY, NJ and California. As he told FOX news Wednesday:  "I'd help these Dem governors but it's a two way street. They have to treat us well, also."

Seriously,  Bonespurs?  They must  "treat you well"?    Are you suffering from the virus, on a ventilator? Are you having to wear trash bags in place of surgical protective gowns?  Are you having to re-use N95 masks over and over? Or  ask your relatives to sew them for you using Youtube instructions? Or is it you're not being "treated well" because those Blue state governors are more concerned with their citizens' lives than kissing your fat, orange ass? 

 But what would you expect from this narcissist, megalomaniac traitor who now asserts the media wants to keep the country shut down to hurt his re-election chances?  In the Turd -in -Chief's own words when asked about it:

"I think there are people in the media who want the country to do financially poorly because they think that would be very good in defeating me at the polls."

This shows the fetid, feral  imp cares more about resuming four more years of his traitorous, unconstitutional, authoritarian fascist regime than keeping Americans alive during this pandemic.  He is more obsessed with retaining unearned power than actually acting the part of a president who can coordinate national resources in a crisis. So ER Drs. like Colleen Smith don't have to make covert videos to reveal the actual situation in overwhelmed hospitals.

Meanwhile, on his 'All In' show Wednesday night, Chris Hayes featured ER Dr. Craig Spencer who noted:

"I've worked in West Africa during the Ebola outbreak, but there's something about this that feels palpably worse. One is knowing we're just at the beginning of this. Case numbers are increasing and you're already seeing hospitals without personal protective equipment, and ventilators and making these temporary morgues outside of hospitals.  This idea that in two or three weeks we're going to be somehow past this is just crazy, magical thinking."

And yet two Stanford medical professors (Eran Bendavid,  Jay Bhattacharya) in a recent WSJ op-ed ('Is COVID-19 As Deadly As They Say', p. A16, March 25) evidently think this is all huff and puff, no biggie. They write:

"If it's true that the novel coronavirus would kill millions without shelter- in -place orders and quarantines, then the extraordinary measures being carried out in cities and states around the country are surely justified. But there's little evidence to confirm that premise - and projections of the death toll could be orders of magnitude too high."

Going on to write that the fatality rate:  "is misleading because of selection bias in testing. The degree of bias is uncertain because the available data are limited."

Uh, whose fault is that? Three guesses, the first two don't count.  They then go on to make the point that "the differences in computation could make the difference in fatality rate, say between 20,000 and 2 million being killed.   Also "if the number of actual infections is much larger then the true fatality rate is much lower as well."

No argument from me there, but these two are guilty of overthinking re: fatalities,  and not keeping their eye on the actual "ball": COVID-19's  calamitous effects on hospitals, overrunning them with critical care patients - most of whom need to be on ventilators for 11-21 days. This compares to 3-4 days for patients recovering from ordinary flu, say, or other respiratory conditions.  The length of time for respiratory convalescence (on ventilators) means other patients - say suffering from cardiac arrest, car accidents, etc. are given short shrift- since there's no space in intensive care.  But when hospitals are slammed - everyone coming in at once- then too many will lose out, including COVID-19 patients.  As one nurse from a Madrid hospital  put it in a recent WSJ piece (March 24), referring to the surplus patients - many of them older:

"In normal conditions, we could have saved their lives. But now there's not enough space in the intensive care unit."

Reading the op-ed by the Stanford pair,  I concluded they have zero conception of the principle of  flattening the curve, the essential need to do so,  in order not to overwhelm health capacity to which the Madrid RN referred, e.g.

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Hence, the putative basis for social sequester  is not  totally preventing deaths per se  - as horrific and terrible as that aspect is - but rather avoiding an inundation of the health care system itself.  Often described by many drs. and nurses as an oncoming "tsunami". See for example:


With a Doctor in a Brooklyn E.R.: ‘We’re in Disaster Mode’

Inundation of medical treatment capacity arises from a sudden surge in COVID-19  patients needing critical care in ICUs. (See e.g. 'Intensive Care Bed Shortage Looms' WSJ,  March 25,  p. A6)  This is the aspect, including use of ventilators - which are in short supply-  these two supposedly educated profs miss. Evidenced on writing further:

"A universal quarantine may not be worth the costs it imposes on the economy, community and individual mental and physical health."

But if one grasps that the universal quarantine IS working, in relation to keeping medical resources from being surged into oblivion - then the claim is pure codswallop.    We KNOW it's working because one can easily see the data presented at the Johns Hopkins website, where it's glaringly obvious which nations (and states) are practicing successful social separation and which aren't.   E.g.

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html


 Further, one can also go to the Kinsa Health website,  e.g.
https://www.inputmag.com/tech/kinsa-coronavirus-live-tracking-is-ahead-of-its-time-but-we-need-more-data

And see clearly where (using the company's smart thermometer real time data) the atypical fevers are surging and which states are facing hospital and medical resources apocalypses - such as described by Dr. Colleen Smith at her ER in Queens, NY.


The two Stanford Profs are also clueless in respect to two, cold brutal facts that cannot be diminished by use of a PR puff piece on the op-ed pages of the WSJ (always glad to get PR from those with any medical credentials eager to play into the Murdoch company's spin game.)

1) It will take over a million confirmed cases and a ghastly number of deaths before we reach any "herd immunity" - the threshold pivot at which people can really be expected to return to open, non-quarantined living.

2) It will be from 12-18 months before we get a workable, feasible vaccine  And we know from  existing Kinsa fever and Hopkins data that if we rush back like Dotard wants, 2.2 million Americans alone could pay the price. Again, the fatalities are only one part of the story. With such a scale of deaths from COVID-19 the infections and critical patients would be 10-20 times more, from 10 - to 22 million. Effectively sending the U.S. health system as it is into the dumpster.

Again, it is the inundation of medical resources and hospitals that these two clowns fail to appreciate.    For example, as Atlantic Health Staff writer Ed Yong pointed out to Chris Hayes on 'All In' last night, because of the flubbed testing rollout we never got a handle on the virus' whereabouts. Hospitals with stored supplies to be distributed (and especially in case of a pandemic) had plans  "but which couldn't be enacted because we had no idea where the virus was or how many people were infected."

Adding: "By the time we did know it was everywhere  which sent states into a situation where they had to compete with each other for precious few resources from dwindling international supply chains."

Yong also observes, as I have, that too few Americans are able to process exponential growth, especially in terms of a disease quickly overrunning medical resources even if relatively few die. As he told Hayes:  

"Too few understand how quickly things can go wrong. This is exacerbated by the nature of this virus itself.  The virus has a very long fuse to it. So it takes a long time for symptoms to show up during which time people can spread the virus. Then it takes a long time for those symptomatic cases to end up in the ICU on ventilators.

What that means is we underestimate the proportionality of the response that's required. People see social distancing, they stay in their homes for several days and they think:  'What is this for?',  'Why am I doing this?'.  The reason we're doing this is to give the rest of the health care system enough time to prepare themselves.  

It takes so long for these events to develop and unfold that we need to instigate these social distancing measures  ahead of time, before they feel proportionate and for a long time during which they might not feel like they're working. Only then can we slow the spread enough.''


Incredible that an Atlantic Staff journalist has more depth of insight and understanding than the two Stanford medical profs, but there it is.  He gets it, and why we need the quarantine, they don't.  Neither does Dotard, who ought to be issuing an Executive order for a national quarantine, not calling for a premature end that will cost many more American lives.

Johns Hopkins real time data currently shows the actual number of Americans infected  by COVID-19 is probably 500,000.   If 80 percent have only light symptoms, but 20 percent are "moderate to severe" (including any respiratory distress) that is already 100,000 likely needing ventilators for at least 10 days- 2 weeks That is an incredibly intense hit on ICUs, given the total ventilator supply in the U.S. is estimated at only 160,000 - and if the worst infections soar to 2 million (not deaths just moderate to severe effects) the medical system is totally overwhelmed.  

They also fail to recognize a universal quarantine would not have been required if we had acted early and competently - with actual leadership- as opposed to frittering away the 40 odd day head start the Chinese provided with their strict lockdown, e.g. of Wuhan.  Having wasted that time, the only tool left in the tool box became the blunt one of quarantine.  It is the only one we have left now to prevent 160- 210 million Americans being infected - in the worst case projection of the CDC.  If even 5 % of the lower limit become critical, needing ICUs and ventilators, we are looking at 8 million critical care COVID -19 patients, enough to overrun and scuttle the whole U.S. health system. (Let us also please bear in mind while the COVID -19 patients occupy hospital beds there is no chance of other critical procedures being done. These may range from cardiac procedures, to gall bladder removals, to appendectomies, to cancer surgeries.  Hence, the more COVID patients occupying rooms the more the ancillary deaths will increase, i.e. from delayed but critical operations. )

A Harvard Global Health Institute analysis released last week examined several scenarios to estimate how hospitals in each of the U.S. health regions wold cope with surging COVID-19 patients.  It focused on adults and the results revealed the biggest shortfall in ICU capacity were consistent with those in an earlier WSJ analysis.  

The latter in tandem with the Harvard analysis disclosed the greatest vulnerabilities - chances of running our of bed space in ICUs-  were in those areas with the fewest existing ICU beds.   These are currently the states with the preponderance of Trump voters, rural voters who are given to believe any quarantine is a case of "liberal media hysteria."  Well thanks to their boy Donnie, they will soon find out just why that "hysteria" exists.

The report by Dr. Colleen Smith,

 In her jarring video at Elmhurst hospital in Queens NY,  showed how dark those WSJ, Harvard projections really are - and also how many other hospitals (in Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey etc - in last night's news) - are near the breaking point.  Once that breaking point is reached, as it will be throughout the nation because of Bonespurs' failure at national coordination, will we see more twaddle from the likes of the Stanford geniuses? Time will tell.

All of which also underscores the argument (by Jeffrey Lewis of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists) that the COVID-19 pandemic  is akin to a slow moving nuclear war or disaster, e.g.


Recognition of this by Scripps infectious disease researcher Kristian Anderson, led her to acknowledge (WSJ, March 26, p. A8):

"Life is not going to be back to what we consider normal for years to come. We need to figure out how we are going to function as a society for the next three years."

This sober take, let us note, is also one that any professional medical person would take in the wake of a limited nuclear war, or one in which a Chernobyl -scale accident occurred on every continent. Sadly, too many still are not processing this pandemic in those stark terms, for whatever reasons. Among those is the WSJ hack and flake Kimberley Strassel ('Big Government Contagion',  today, p. A15), who unleashes petty howls of objection at the House Dems for including (in the emergency aid package):

"$25 billion more for food stamps and child nutrition, $12 billion more for housing, $3.5 billion for child care,  and $900 million more for low income heating assistance."

Which she condemns as "a massive expansion of the welfare state."  In other words, let the lower tier unemployed plebes starve, go homeless, and freeze, but don't give the money proportional to the crisis we're in.  But why be surprised? All you need to know about Strassel is how she pumped the cockeyed conspiracy twaddle about Hillary, Fusion GPS, the FBI, Mueller and the Dems plotting to bring Dotard down, i.e.



Meanwhile, the latest poster boy for pandemic imbecility  - or maybe the "Kim Strassel Buttbrain Award of the Day"- goes to Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves. This cornpone yokel with maybe three brain cells in all, recently issued an executive order to keep his state open for business - even overriding a local lockdown ordered by Tupelo mayor Jason Shelton. Shelton was trying to do the right thing for his citizens, in line with current science as opposed to Trumpian fantasy, and was overturned by Little Boy Tate.  As Janice put it, "I just hope that redneck has enough ventilators, and if not, then body bags."  

The U.S. and many of the other nations now on the exponential  upswing could have avoided mass shuttering had they not fumbled the response at the outset.  That fumbling included screwing up delivery of proper tests - without which we are blind to the virus' whereabouts-  as well as capable contact tracing.  See, e.g.
No photo description available.


Thus our stats will grow worse while those nations (like Taiwan and Japan)  that had the sense to enact a national response and organized  a timely distribution of medical supplies are already recovering. Alas, the U.S. is not in that company as one can see by noting the infections curve which has a slope higher than even Spain and Italy.  Hopefully,  the two illustrious Stanford profs will process all these stats (and Ed Yong's points) which overwhelmingly confirm the benefits of social distance.  Yes, we can remove these restrictions - the "universal shutdown" (or what ought to be if Trump wasn't such an ignorant, compromised dolt) - but that can only be when either: a) herd immunity arrives, or b) an effective vaccine emerges.


See Also:


And:


And:

Trump Wants to ‘Reopen America.’ Here’s What Happens if We Do.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Examining Theism - And The Necessity Of Invoking God Concepts



As an atheist, who grew up a theist, it has been incumbent  on me to know what theism is so I can define it at length (including its various forms) to those who want to know why I am an atheist. It is also a curious  aspect that so many theists portray those who don't share their particular deity (i.e. theism) as "atheists".  In any case, let's explore this in more depth - including why  god concepts are needed in any religious discussions. This will be as a philosophical exercise but also affording readers an escape  from the obsession with COVID- 19 for a bit.

1. What is Theism?

I define Theism as any form of deity recognition that may or may not be backed up or formalized by a sacred book or “revelation”. If this last condition, especially, is fulfilled- then I say that the proposed Theism and God-concept also has a theology. Theism is therefore the advocacy of a belief in a particular God-concept, which incorporates a theology if a sacred text is integrated into its belief system.

For example, Yahweh, the Jewish deity, is set out in their sacred book, the Talmud. Thus Juadaism qualifies, and one can say that it is based on a "Talmudic Theism". So also does the Christian God, set out in the Bible, though there are various interpretations depending on which Christian sect one belongs to. Hence, it is dangerous here to postulate a "Biblical Theism" simply because no two Christians (unless they belong to the same sect) will agree on what that means. To the evangelical, it will mean biblical literalism or inerrancy, but I already noted the inherent problems with this:

E.g. http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2011/02/book-sure-to-stir-attention-no-not-that.html

http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2011/02/more-errors-in-king-james-bible.html

http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2011/02/q-tradition-satanic-origin-hell-no.html


Islam also qualifies, since Allah is explicated in the Qu’ran and the role of Mohammed his prophet. Similarly, Hinduism, since Brahmin is articulated in The Upanishads.

All of the above are therefore forms of Theism. That, however, is where similarities end. To fix ideas, the typical western Christian regards his or her deity as a personal God, while the typical Hindu regards his or her deity (Brahmin) as impersonal. Even if all other things are equal, how can there be such a vast gap in human perceptions? The fact of such a perceptual chasm must mean either: a) God does not exist - at least as specified by either group, or b) God exists, but no human mind is capable of grasping even the most elemental conception accurately. Philosopher Joseph Campbell observes[1] :

"’God’ is an ambiguous word in our language because it appears to refer to something that is known. But the transcendent is unknowable and unknown. God is transcendent, finally, of anything like the name of "God". God is beyond names and forms.”

James Byrne[2] is equally adamant:

"The idea of God as Being is the creation of the philosophical gaze, a result of the drive to objectification which is the hallmark of the history of metaphysics. It is the ‘God’ which is argued about in theism and atheism, and which can only be a projection of humans"

This is the first hint that "God" does not really exist other than as a construct in the human mind, so when humans invoke the word "God" they are really objectifying something they don't have a clue about. (This is buttressed by the fact that so few are able to provide the necessary and sufficient conditions for it to exist, yet expect atheists to take their claims seriously!)


Byrne then goes on to cite the work of French philosopher Jean-Luc Marion (from his work, ‘God Without Being’, 1991) who challenges people to think of -G-O-D- or God in a non-conceptual way. That is, only with a strike through when the word is written, to indicate no one has the capacity to describe, grasp, conceptualize or manipulate the underlying entity. In effect, as Byrne observes, “to think -G-O-D- is unthinkable is to reject the entire basis of onto-theology.”

If then the entity is de-conceptualized it can’t be debated. Note, this is a different thing from being “beyond knowledge” as the agnostic would define it. It is rather, beyond any capacity for human thought at all! Thus, while the agnostic can insist his position is one of “impossibility of knowledge” of God (or supernatural) this new category prohibits even writing anything.

The questions raised here go to the heart of basic theories of knowledge. How does one "know" something? And more importantly, how does one know that he knows? Or, in the absence of knowledge, does faith enter as a kind of substitute? Citing the Bible is no kind of response, because Christians from differing sects will cite different knowledge or none at all based on it. (Those who cite none, will follow the rational example of the Jesus Seminar, which has shown that 88% of it can't be historical and hence must be either mythological or later additions)

2. Theism and God-concepts:

If Theism (which I will always capitalize) means different things to different peoples and cultures, how can one examine it with any uniformity or standards? There is one way, and that is to compare its God-concepts. If one were to take a random sample of 100 people from the phone book, and ask each to define God in his or her words, what would result?

I had occasion to do this in an informal survey prior to writing a newspaper article entitled Science and God.[3] In Barbados, I had phoned 100 people at random and asked each to articulate his or her notion of God. Amazingly, no two descriptions matched in every respect. The most startling aspect was that fully 56 were Christians (as opposed to 6 Hindus, 8 Muslims, 10 Jewish, 18 no religion identified, 2 agnostics). Some of the responses I received:

"Jesus is God"

"Jehovah is God"

"God is love"

"God is our Father and the creator of the universe"

"God is an impersonal, physical energy."

"Yahweh is God: the I-AM-THAT-WHICH-I-AM"

"God is the principle of creativity and action"


The great diversity of conceptions of God led me to conclude that what people really meant when they professed "belief in God" was a personal allegiance to a particular concept. Invariably, the concept was flawed and limited because it was abstracted from a personal background of awareness and conditioning, as opposed to a total comprehension of actual being. In other words, the lack of understanding of the underlying entity (assuming there is one underlying at all) renders all concepts relative! (Which also comports with James Byrne's contention that it is a "creation of the philosophical gaze").

There is simply insufficient information to distinguish one person's concept as the "one true God" to the exclusion of all others. This means that the Jewish concept of Yahweh, the Muslim concept of Allah, the Hindu concept of Brahmin and the Christian concept of the Trinity all stand in the same ontological relation. From an informational point of view, none can be selected as "true" to the exclusion of the others. If this be so, then it makes no sense to distinguish Theisms based on their respective scriptures, e.g. "Talmudic Theism", "Biblical Theism", "Upanishadic Theism" ..because all differences are collapsed and made relative.

As a corollary, the faith that people express is really faith in their own concept of Theism, fashioned from their own God concept(s). There is no Theism that is absolute, or uniquely true or valid in and of itself and moreover (given the subjectivity) one form of Theism can always be totally rejected by another on the basis of “sacred text” analysis and respective revelations.

This is completely analogous to there being inadequate information to distinguish one religion's claims as true to the exclusion of all others. In the case of individual religions, or religious traditions, the embodiment of the respective truth claim is found in a "sacred revelation," or holy book. For example, the Holy Bible for Christianity, the Talmud for Jews, the Koran for Muslims and the Upanishads for Hindus.

The problem is that the ancient writers, for each scripture, suffered from the same limitation of comprehension that their modern counterparts do. Their neural capacity was just as finite as that of present-day humans, and just as conditioned toward a particular conceptual allegiance. Take the account in Genesis and how it describes God's behavior: one instant creating the world and calling it "good" then becoming disenchanted and wiping it out in a flood, while bemoaning that a mistake was made. Now, a genuine God (God-GOD) can’t make mistakes (since perfection is surely a divine attribute). However, a human brain is quite likely to project its flaws onto its own concepts. Thus, the God making the mistakes in Genesis is actually an artifact: the projection of the ancient writer’s own ego onto his God concept, writ large.

It is truly amazing more otherwise intelligent people can't see this, something I can only atrtribute to intellectual blindness.

3. The Advantages of using the term "God-concept" rather than "God":


Is there any advantage to acknowledging that a God-concept is what people are talking about when they use the noun "God?” I believe so. For one thing, the acknowledged use of the term God-concept reinforces the attitude of cautious forbearance mentioned earlier. The implicit relativism acts as a restraint, backing the believer away from a militant absolutism. Ideally, this should dispose him or her to be more tolerant toward unbelievers, and tolerant toward those of different religions. Far from being "wishy-washy," this affords humanity a hope that religious conflicts will one day come to an end. No more Jews versus Arabs, Catholics versus Protestants, or Hindus versus Muslims.

Far from acceding to evil, this necessary acceptance of relativity offers an escape from evil. It’s an admission of intellectual humility. An admission that human brains are too limited in capacity and function to access the fundamental answers to life or to have an exclusive grasp of the "one, true God," somehow denied to all those of other faiths.

The use of the term God-concept also recognizes implicitly (by acknowledgment of a finite intelligence confronting an "infinite" entity) that the nearly universal allegiance to God-concepts is separate from the issue of a factual existence of a deity. In other words, the widespread use and appeal of God-concepts does not necessarily mean that there is a genuine correspondent in reality, supernatural or otherwise.

In fact, humanity's penchant for articulating God-concepts could be dictated by brain architecture. The prevalence of God-concepts therefore reflects certain propensities or innate characteristics associated with the brain's hard wiring, rather than an "unconscious recognition of God." One of the most compelling lines of research has been that of Michael Persinger, of Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, in Canada (See, e.g. Persinger.: The Neuropsychological Basis of God Beliefs, 1983.)


4. The Different Theisms:


Finally, it is instructive to examine the differing Theisms.

Monotheism:

Monotheism represents a belief in one deity only, though that deity may also have human attributes. Thus, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity are all examples of Monotheism. However, Christianity differs from the other two, in that it allows for a God-Man identity, and moreover a salvation role for that entity.

By contrast, Mohammed is a Prophet only, not a God-Man Savior, and Jesus is also regarded as a Prophet in Islam. In Judaism, there is neither a major Prophet (in the same central role of Jesus or Mohammed) nor a special Savior that has already arrived. Some have differentiated Christianity from Islam and Judaism by referring to it as a form of personal Monotheism. That is, one infinite and all-powerful God exists (or more accurately, a God –concept that articulates it!) but personal connection is afforded by an intermediary human. Thus, the infinite God is rendered a personal God.

Now, it’s possible to interject additional facts here. That is, Christianity is not the only God-Man religion[4]. Others have existed from antiquity including forms created by the Egyptians (Horus) and the Persians (Mithras). A number of similar attributes apply to all god-man mythologies:

1- A virgin mother who immaculately conceives.
2- Acclamation of the progeny as a "Son of God”
3- Reared in a foreign land.
4- He re-appears in his native land, working miracles and preaching
5- He's persecuted by his people, declared a criminal.
6- He's seized by authorities after a major betrayal, then put to death.
7- He rises from his grave, confirming he was the special divine being his disciples proclaimed.
8- His followers start spreading the God-man mythology and are often persecuted for it.

Take the Persian God-Man, Mithras, the Savior designated in Mithraism, who was born of the immaculate virgin Anahita, who conceived him from the seed of Zarathustra. Like Jesus, Mithras was condemned before a Tribunal but he subsequently ascended into Heaven. Mithraists recall his suffering and death with a ritual almost identical to the Communion practiced by Catholics and Anglicans.

This and other records from antiquity disclose that the personal God-Man foundations of Christianity are in no way unique or original but likely plagiarized by early writers from pagan sources. The degree of coincidence between so many of the actions, events (from the birth to wise men, to miracles, and suffering, Ascension) points directly to this conclusion.

This isn’t what most orthodox Christians wish to hear, but one that must be considered nonetheless. Especially since it undermines the favorite refrain of so many “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ or perish in Hell!”

Polytheism:

Polytheism represents a theology and belief in multiple deities, each of which is worshipped in turn. For the purposes of this book, I only note it here for completeness and in passing, and don’t regard it as a major theistic system in today’s world. So I will not elaborate on it or return to it.

Pantheism:

This holds that nature and deity are bound up as one entity – most often either as a single oneness, or in terms of the regularities of natural laws. Thus, when one worships nature one worships God, or when one appreciates natural regularities – evinced in natural laws- one is indirectly worshipping God.

In terms of crude or unrefined pantheism, the totality of the universe, its energy and all relevant fields are equated to a “divinity”. This is, when one thinks about it, merely a mammoth expansion and extrapolation of Sun worship. Instead of worshipping one immediate celestial body, one is worshipping all of them as a collective.

A much more subtle form is natural law Pantheism which received much attention after Einstein referred to it as “Spinoza’s God”. When pressed to explain himself, Einstein went on to aver he didn’t believe in a personal God, but rather “Spinoza’s God, the order and harmony of all that exists.” In other words, the principle of regularity of natural law at work in the cosmos elevated to a kind of impersonal deity. However, it’s wise not to read too much into this, and it clearly doesn’t come across as anything to be worshipped!

Much more advanced than natural law Pantheism is Emergent Holism[5]. In this case, the universe emerges as more than the sum of its parts by virtue of being “holographic”. Perhaps the most important “deity” construct is David Bohm’s Holomovement, a higher-dimensional “implicate order” through which consciousness is enfolded as well as matter. Bohm’s “deity” at least has some scientific legs – sort of – since quantum mechanics has been used to fashion the end product. (Bohm uses a mathematical device he calls the “quantum potential”.)

The Bohm Holomovement and its consequences in providing a basis for miracles and so forth, has been popularized in books such as Michael Talbot’s The Holographic Universe. A neat thing that works out from cosmic holography, is that each and every one of us is literally a spark of the “divine”. So it kind of reintroduces a form of Gnosis through the back door!

It is hoped that this basic primer on Theism will help future bloggers in getting their facts straight about it, and also let them see that the claim that "theism is aligned with the reality of a transcendent God" is not valid, because one can only assert (based on what I've shown) that a particular Theism only embraces a relativistic God-concept which is based on objectifying a possible transcendant. Thus, the two claims are not the same.

As to the other canard often circulated about why Unbelievers "exhaust so much energy trying to disprove Theism, like trying to disprove the existence of unicorns or elves", this is a non-sequitur. The Unbeliever is not trying to disprove anything since it isn't his job to! He is not the one who's made the positive claim, he merely withholds acceptance of the Theist's claim already made.

It is the Believer's job to prove his entity exists, or more specifically in the context of my blog discussion on Theism, to show his God-concept is much more than mere relative concept and actually points to an abiding and REAL entity. We invest time and energy in this because, as Persinger has noted, God-concepts are too often invoked to wage bloody religious wars, kill doctors, or employ political force to suppress rights allocated to people (women and homosexuals come to mind).

Hence, there is absolutely NO similarity at all to "unicorns and elves"!


[1] The Power of Myth, Anchor Books, New York, p. 56.

[2] James Byrne, God, Continuum Press, 2001, p. 151.

[3] Barbados NATION, September 27, 1978, p. 14.

[4] For a full accounting of all “Christ” antecedents in pagan cultures and religions, see: J.M. Robertson, Pagan Christs, University Books, Inc., 1966.

[5] For a detailed accounting of the theories to do with this, see: The Holographic Paradigm and Other Paradoxes, Ed. Ken Wilber, New Science Library, 1982.

No, This Senior Will Not Be "Sacrificing" For The Economy, I.e. Donnie Bonespurs

Image may contain: 1 person, possible text that says 'Some dumb fucker wants us to sacrifice for this economy! Can ya believe it? Ican with the idiots we got runnin' things!'Image result for Trump as TraitorImage may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoorImage result for Trump the coward, imagesImage may contain: text

"Donald Trump did not close any business so he cannot open them up. He has no control over state shutdowns of business or opening them, only the governors do.  ...This is a president who believes there will be more suicide deaths than coronavirus deaths.  This is vile madness spewing from the mouth of Donald Trump... There will be no packed churches in the state of New York on Easter Sunday ."  Lawrence O'Donnell, 'Last Word', MSNBC, last night

"Trump has been using the daily coronavirus briefings as a stand-in for his raucous, fiction-addled rallies to spray dangerous, history-obscuring gibberish into the wind. He does not like it when Fauci, his own hand-picked face of SCIENCE, clowns him from the same podium. Because of this, Fauci may soon be gone. - William Rivers Pitt, 'Trump Will Feed You To COVID-19 To Keep The Money Happy', smirkinghcimp.com

"Let's just own it, a shelter in place is economically disruptive, it's very disruptive and hard on people. That has a lot of consequences. The problem with this virus is that it's insidious. It just grows and grows and grows in your community. And then when it becomes apparent, when your ICUs start getting full, it's too late in the game.  And calling for a shelter in place then is really a problem.  So he's wasting enormous amounts of time and the people who will pay for it are the people of Florida." - Dr. Ashish Jha,  Harvard University, Director of Global Health Institute, 'All In' last night, responding to FLA governor Ron Desantis reluctance to lock down the state now.

"Faced with the most dangerous threat to American life since at least the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the 45th president made matters worse." - Hayley Sweeland Edwards, TIME, March 30, p. 26

"If you ask the American people to choose between public health and the economy, then it's no contest. No American is going to say accelerate the economy at the cost of human life." - NY Governor Andrew  Cuomo, Tuesday, in response to Trump wanting to "open" by Easter

Well, it was only a matter of time before the vile memes launched by the pestilence fouling the White House would go viral and even infect the brains of assorted wingnuts - now salivating like rabid rats.  Not the least is the Swine-in chief himself showing himself again the be the traitor and coward he's always been. A traitor because his impeachment for trying to overthrow out general election still stands, and a coward because he hasn't the courage to stand and fight the COVID-19 virus like a man, or real president. (Say of FDR's or JFK's caliber - or even of Jimmy Carter's)

Trump's a traitor for twofold betraying our nation to the Russians, indefensibly and incontrovertibly. For that he deserves to be hung by his orange neck.  But he escaped even being driven from office - thanks to his asslicking cult followers in the Repuke party.  Trump is also a traitor for refusing to reveal the recent Intelligence report (published January 29 last year) showing the warp and woof of a global pandemic and its terrible costs, e.g.


On page 21 the  report states
We assess that the United States and the world will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or large- scale outbreak of a contagious disease that could lead to massive rates of death and disability, severely affect the world economy, strain international resources, and increase calls on the United States for support. Although the international community has made tenuous improvements to global health security, these gains may be inadequate to address the challenge of what we anticipate will be more frequent outbreaks of infectious diseases because of rapid unplanned urbanization, prolonged humanitarian crises, human incursion into previously unsettled land, expansion of international travel and trade, and regional climate change.”
And yet this POS has sat on it for over a year even as the COVID-19 epidemic and then pandemic erupted. TREASON!  A betrayal of the national security because in the face of knowing what was in the report he did nothing, NADA  to avert the oncoming plague, only wasting precious time insisting it was all a 'hoax".  All to protect his economic claims for re-election.   Which, if the latter were to happen,  would be the sorriest event in recent U.S.  history - rivaling the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Because by being willing to open the flood gates to counter the social separation guidelines and risk millions of deaths, he is a de facto terrorist.

Let's get clear what I'm talking about, okay? Trump, confirming once again he's our greatest (domestic)  national security threat has insisted "the cure cannot be worse than the disease" and that he is considering removing current restrictions "at the end of the 15 days" and even opening everything up by Easter Sunday "which will be beautiful".  Yeah, right, with 1 million dead in California alone given how the COVID-19 is already spreading like wildfire in states with little oversight on keeping people at home,  as seen in the Kinsa Health website, e.g.
https://www.inputmag.com/tech/kinsa-coronavirus-live-tracking-is-ahead-of-its-time-but-we-need-more-data

Pay attention especially to the map showing where the highest frequency of fevers (atypical) are occurring.  This is exactly why Harvard's Prof. Ashish Jha - when asked about Dotard's cockamamey "Easter" opening plans-   told Chris Hayes on 'All In' last night, 

"Here's the problem: We open up too soon, the virus doesn't care if you're a Democrat or a Republican, the virus is going to run rampant. And what's going to happen is that in four to six weeks all the places that open up again will see this influx of infections and their hospitals will get shut down. And then we are going to have to have a national lockdown, and it's going to last much longer and many more people are going to die."

 

Clearly, Dotard - the  blowhard, bombastic maggot that he is -  does not grasp any of this, or that the "15 days" marker was an optimum case projection. That was  assuming Trump and his cronies didn't fuck up any critical aspect, like getting sufficient tests out and from multiple sources - like South Korea did. But as we know Trump's clown cabal fucked up multiple aspects, from failing to get out enough test kits, to waiting too long to declare a pandemic (calling it a "hoax" for the first 2 weeks),  to not delivering enough medical supplies where needed. In the latter case, forcing medical workers to compete for N95 masks and ventilators etc.  (Not even mentioned yet is how this Turd has caused a global buying panic by blowing more smoke out of his ass about the malarial drug. The run on the drug has left a number of African nations - where malaria is rampant- with short supplies.)

Meanwhile, Captain Bonespurs and his asswipe administration have led us to a precipice of national disaster: a medical care system at the tipping point of having to triage virus patients,  millions of workers still with no pay, and health workers now crying and begging for protective personal equipment, and imploring we the citizens to  "stay in while we fight for you."  In the midst of these travails, instead of vowing to hold strain, be patient and adhere to the current medical guidelines to social distance - this yellow-bellied coward wants to throw it all to hell. He wants every manjack going back to work because the "American economy wasn't meant to be shut down for years."  But no one said "years"!  (Well, ok, at most it could be 18 months if a vaccine isn't ready, according to a study by an epidemic modeling group at Imperial College London .
But most medical specialists,  like Dr. Anthony Fauci, said it could be a matter of months.  Emphasis here on "could be", based on the data. Meanwhile, this social sequestering - while mildly discomfiting- is advised to protect our hospitals from being overwhelmed.  Also, protecting our own nurses, doctors from themselves falling ill, and infecting more of the patients they treat.  I would have thought any leader worth his salt, and especially who proclaimed being a "wartime president", would grasp that.  But clearly Donnie Doturd doesn't.

Moreover, the Kinsa Health site (link above) featuring a map tracking atypical disease with high fevers (COVID-19 proxy) shows clearly that social separation has worked, namely for those states who've demanded citizens shelter in place.  Does Trump grasp any of this? No, because he has his head halfway up his own ass. (To use Janice's apt parlance)

Now the orange fungus, fretting over his precious economy,  would simply torpedo that and allow our millions of medical heroes to die as well as millions more Americans to become infected by leaving their shuttered homes to prematurely return to jobs that may afford no protection - and zero sick days off. 
So once more this swine has proven he isn't fit to collect dog poop in parks, far less run a nation. As Maureen Dowd put it in her recent NY Times piece:
Image may contain: possible text that says 'rump 1S just a petrified sales- man who believes in perception over reality. He thinks if he can create the perception that this is going to be a quick fix and there's a little pill coming, then the stock market will roar back, along with his 2020 momentum.' 
Now, not to be outdone in his vermin DNA by Dotard, we see a Texas cornpone, inbred, cracker by the name of Dan Patrick, e.g.
Spouting that seniors (like wifey and me)  ought to be "willing to sacrifice for the economy".  Uh no, Sparky, in no way will I or wifey sacrifice for Donnie Traitor Bonespurs' fevered fantasies to put his economy back on track. So he and his team of refuse can re-elected to an even more disastrous term. No way in hell. To quote Janice: "So this fucking moron wants us to die in one of the most horrific ways known, namely drowning in our own fluids, to prop up Trump?"  Yep, you got it! "Fuck them!"
Patrick, the lieutenant governor of Tex-ass, touched off an outpouring of anger when he declared to Tucker Carlson that people like him — grandparents in their twilight years — should risk death so people can stop social distancing to avert economic calamity.  NO, folks, you cannot make this shit up. It's for real.  Fortunately, the scum is taking some blowback given we see not all Americans have become Trump worshipping zombies.
But let's examine this "case" a bit more, so any skeptics are clear why this is a god awful idea. This is mainly for the lot who may also be part of the 53 percent who approve of the job Trump is doing with the pandemic.  I itemize below each argument for why Trump's "opening up" the nation is horse manure:

1) The rescinding of any shutdown will merely explode the COVID-19  infections, contaminate work places and wreck both the economy and the health system. Anyone with an IQ over 100 can see it can't be otherwise, even Dan Patrick.  You would basically be unleashing millions of people to return to their regular work places- including at restaurants- with a 100 percent potential to infect millions of citizens.  (NO way to keep that 6 ft. distance of separation) And oh, btw, not only the elderly but the young will be infected as the most recent CDC data show.  The data .  The report, issued last Wednesday,  revealed that nearly 40 percent of patients  aged 20 to 54 are sick enough to be hospitalized.  And oh, btw, that often means with respirators or ventilators given the virus has turned one or both lungs to pulp.

So, to make a longer story short, making a bet that only the older citizens will die in some kind of "sacrifice" to preserve the big spenders and 1 percent - is a bloody fool's bet. 

2) The weak point of the economy's future is not how fast we just open things up, but how fast we get the virus community spread to get to zero.  In other words, the economic health of the nation is contingent on the subduing of the COVID-19 spread in the many states afflicted, not on opening millions more people to feed the infection.

3) The basic weakness now is one of removed demand, given people must remain sequestered or sheltered to slow the virus' spread.  The sheltering means no access to theaters, sports arenas of stadiums, restaurants or bars.  No money spent at any of these places to fuel consumption and we know consumption is 70 % of GDP.  The best initial antidote to this is to do exactly what the Reeptardos object to: "Dropping helicopter money" to all those - especially lower tier workers - who desperately need it.  This means vast deficit spending in any decent bill, and with a total that will likely end up being in the vicinity of $6-7 trillion.  Why so large? Because multiple checks of $1200 - $2000 will be needed until the self isolation period ends, i.e. is officially accepted by medical experts (e.g. virologists) not by the brain dead traitor Trump. 

The checks sent out to over 60 million at home citizens will enhance aggregate demand - allow them to pay for their groceries, pay utilities, and perhaps even rent. In other words, inject money nearly of the same amount given back into the fractured economy so it can get off the "respirator". (No pun intended)

What we cannot do, is use the Republican  (conservative) solution of a one time only payment of $1200 then expect sequestered workers to get the rest of what they need (I list them in the order they've appeared in WSJ op-eds, editorials):

- By taking out loans at (hopefully) low interest 

- By asking  landlords, for instance,  for "forbearance" in paying the rent

- By going to the unemployment office and seeking further extension, i.e. if any passed bill doesn't cover adequate time (already in the past week 3.4 million have flooded unemployment offices with filings)

- By raiding their 401(k) plans to get the extra money needed (WSJ, 'The Emergency 401(k) Button').  Th Journal's illustrious editors suggest that the "10 % penalty be waived as well as the usual income tax."  Hence, "this provides an option for people who need the cash without blanketing everyone."

Yeah, ok, but it trashes their retirement plans and we know most Americans are already having great difficulty saving up money. Let's also cite another genius idea from the feckless austerity capitalists:  Allow citizens  to raid their Social Security money as well.   (This is akin to the idea trotted out sometime last year as a "solution" to the paid leave issue. I.e. instead of placing the onus on the employer for such leave the employee is able to raid his Social Security. So if 12 weeks are needed for time to care for a sick kid or spouse, and that adds up to $4800 - then just deduct it from the total projected S.S. earned.)

But none of these ideas are worthy of serious consideration because they all seek the most painless shortcuts - for the capitalist oligarchy - but the most painful for workers.  This is why Dems need to hold out for a better package.

4) Any proper emergency package for business must also include doing something for the $500 billion - or whatever amount is planned for support. In the UK, for example, businesses large and small will get their needed windfalls but they must retain their work staffs and keep paying them over the lockdown duration. In other words, it isn't a "freebie" like the Repukes and McConnell demand in this emergency bill.  Thus, the Democrats are not "blocking" the bill as too many block head media reporters frame it, they are refusing to allow a slush fund laden corporate social welfare package to screw workers.

5) The greatest risk to the economy right now, is not millions being shut in, but rather massive and overleveraged corporate debt. ('Corporate Debt Poses Financial Risk', WSJ March 20,  p. B1).   As we learn (ibid.):

"Serious strains are starting to appear in the $1.2 trillion market for loans to high risk companies, which have borrowed record sums in recent years as investors chased bigger yields"

Assisting this borrowing madness has been the Fed with its rock bottom interest rates. Again, as we note:

"Years of low interest rates and easy credit have allowed companies across the board to borrow big, building a record $10  trillion mountain of debt"  

Which lenders expect to be repaid on time, but which may not be.  Therein lies the real danger to the economy no matter how soon the country returns to business.  Thus, former Fed chair Janet Yellen worries about the overleveraged corporate debt exacerbating any downturn.  Does Dotard even know about this aspect? Does the genius TX Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, before sputtering out his seniors should sacrifice for America bollocks?  Do any of these muscle brains, including the irrepressible Doturd know about the peril the banks are in because of this lending spree?   Since the scale of the coming default wave is "impossible to assess" (WSJ, 'Banks Have Nowhere To Hide',  March 20, p. B12)

 Greg Ip et al, e.g. 'Lessons for the Coronavirus Crisis from Six Other Disasters',
https://www.wsj.com/articles/lessons-for-the-coronavirus-crisis-from-six-other-disasters-11584719497

Laid out the central idea, i.e. governments and the public always face a trade off between public health, safety and economic stability. The "more one prioritizes health and safety the bigger the near term cost to the economy.


This is why, for example, dangerous oil refineries and petroleum  processing plants - say in the Houston TX area - are allowed to exist there, literally within earshot of homeowners. The home owners know what they are getting, i.e.g possible explosions, chemical releases into the air with toxic fumes, so they can't complain too much. The way the powers -that- be work it out, is that the lower numbers potentially killed will be worth the benefit of  having the plants, refineries there.  Costs- benefits computed by special Pareto-based capitalist algorithms.


But  such shortcuts in safety cannot apply to the COVID-19 pandemic for the reasons given earlier by Harvard's Dr. Ashish Jha.  How bad can the damage to the GDP be?  Contingent Macro Research estimates if the current quarantine measures last through March, the U.S. economy will shrink 5% in the second quarter. If, however, restrictions last through May and there are 50,000 deaths globally (very likely given the exponential rise) the U.S. economy could shrink 10 % in the 2nd quarter and 3 % in the 3rd.  If the measures last through the end of June the hit on the economy would be 12%  And in a worst case scenario, as forecast by the Imperial College group - with social isolation lasting 12-18 months, we'd be looking at a 35- 45% shrinkage.  But the alternative is to open up and see 2.2. million Americans die.  Perhaps ruminating on this, these horrific stats, John Cochrane of the Hoover Institution (Hoover was the president who led us into the Great Depression) saw fit to spout this codswallop in a WSJ op-ed today ('Flatten the Coronavirus Curve At A Lower Cost', p. A19):

"A blanket lockdown can't go on. Keeping every business closed and every worker at home until a vaccine is available won't work..Government officials need to work with a scalpel, not a sledgehammer."

Missing the key point that we wouldn't have had to use the "sledge-hammer" had the Trump  bunch managed not to screw up every step in the process - from expeditiously getting out the testing kits, to diminishing the pandemic using the term "hoax", to failing with the medical supply chain.   As for unwisely pushing to reopen all businesses, I'd advise Cochrane to reread Prof. Jha's solid rebuttal to this twaddle.   

If he's not impressed, then he ought to process Thomas Friedman's description of exponential growth in relation to the virus, e.g.

"The virus is like a loan shark who charges 25 % interest a day. We borrowed $1 (the first coronavirus patient to appear). We then fiddled for 40 days. Now we owe $7,500. If we wait three more weeks to pay we'll owe almost $1 million."

Now, just imagine if - in 17 days- Dotard actually issues an Executive order to open all states for business by Easter. Think of borrowing another 1 million or so (cases).  Anyone want to bet this ends nicely?  Then I have a plot of ocean side land in Barbados to sell you for a Bajan buck! (U.S. 0.50)

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