Tag Archives: Contagion

As fiction becomes real

Who remembers George A Romero’s Dawn of the dead (1978)? I remember seeing it in the cinema. And the idea stuck with me. Dreams of having an entire shopping mall to myself. The idea stuck for a long time and even as games entered our lives, the setting was never close enough. The idea that we had an entire City centre to ourselves, preferably without the zombies. Not some game where the enemies spawn again, but a stage where there is a city centre, complete with 35000 zombies, a finite number and as we secure our place, grow our place, we renew the settings of security, safety and goods. And I voiced it before and now we seemingly have the game ‘The day before’ a game that seemingly is close enough to my dreams to make it a reality. The game can be played single player (a must for me). And the idea that the game will grow appeals to me. Consider that the mechanics, once they are ready allows for the game to seek us in other ways too. An alien invasion (Skyline, 2010), a pandemic (Contagion, 2011) and the list goes on. Now, I have no idea on how The Day before is set or how it works, but I saw a small play video and my old thoughts of Day of the Dead returned. The idea that you need to stamp out your safe space. Get goods, get sustenance, get ammo, find weapons and so on is very appealing. You wonder how far you get, how long you will last and none of that respawn shit. One life, and between 35,000 and 350,000 opponents. How will you fare? I wonder how far I will get. And for the makers of that game it offers a new kind of DLC/Expansion. We might have 3-5 locations to start, but the appeal to see how far you get in London, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Munich, Paris, Moscow and so on, the chance for the makers of The Day before (Fntastic) are close to endless and it does not stop there. The setting of a real final number is appealing on several levels. The idea to redo Day of the dead in Harrods London will be appealing to thousands if not millions of gamers. Setting up the New York City Police Department – 5th Precinct as your own fortress (Assault On Precinct 13 anyone?) is close to intoxicating. And from there the world of us getting close to the movies we watched will be enticing and I reckon for a large audience. In previous years it was merely a ruse, now with the PS5, it becomes an achievable reality. And as I see it 2022-2025 could optionally become great gaming years. 

And when the survival part in us is quenched we can return to our normal daily routine of being a sniper (Ghost warrior), or perhaps a racer (Gran Turismo) some will prefer their daily life as pilots (MS Flight simulator), no matter to what life we return, we do so knowing that more and better games are coming our way, preferably less glitchy then Ubisoft is making out to be. 

P.S. WordPress still has not fixed colours.

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Eradication

There are moments where we are all contemplating it, what if I was alone in the neighbourhood (get work done), what if I was alone in this mall (no queues), what if I am alone in this area (quiet), the list goes on and we have all had these moments. Nothing bad, we merely needed a moment. Yet some have a much larger need. Eco terrorists, extremists and so on. We also have a good degree of extinction movies and my issue is that in these cases (with a few exceptions) it is glued together on the premise of the averting hero. One such exception is Contagion by Steven Soderbergh. It is a clinical view of how bad tit could get and 10 years later we see COVID, the movie is a little more pessimistic yet all the markers seem to apply and it got me thinking. What happens when an eco terrorist sees his (or her) species become extinct, how angry could that person get? So what happens when that person decides to do something about it? Governments make the claim and they are getting us nowhere, but this person sets a new premise. As such I got to think on how that person could succeed. I took the DNA of one woman, one man and one female Bobono and I came up with a new spliced DNA (see image), this is as good as keynote would give it to me and as I have no access to Mathlab, this will have to do. It is merely a premise to a story mind you. 

This DNA virus would be 100 times more efficient than COVID, eradicating 96%-98% of the entire population, but in a stage where we pretend it could happen, what if it plays out, not unlike a story that Dutch writer Anne de Vries wrote in 1951 in her story of Journey Through the Night which is a WW2 story. I loved that book when I was a kid, it was a great book to read and the settings stayed with me. Now it is not in four parts, but three. The start of the unleashing, the ravaging of the disease and the aftermath. A story that gives us close to a decade (or two) on how it all unfolds. How the disease is left to the greed driven and left to the academics, the eco terrorist had done its homework and like the chest of Pandora, someone ends up opening it. Yet nothing happens and the people looking at it find nothing and that was exactly how it was intended to be, the five boxes are sent and four end up getting opened. The infected are unaware of what they had wrought and as they travel from place to place they become the infectors, from 5 spots we get to 25, then 125 and close thereafter close to two million infection spots, the point of no return has been reached and as people go on with their daily life people start getting sick, but at first there are no indications of what is wrong. Cases of Bloom’s and Werner’s syndromes get out of hand, they are moving from one in millions to one in 10,000 and there are other changes as well, explosions of cancer cases all over the globe and it takes a while before someone decides to look into genetic testing. The deed is done and as people are transferring it through touching things, through handshakes and other means, the population is infected before anyone has a real clue what is going on. So whilst we look at some crowd images and wonder ‘Who would be this stupid’ (well, they obviously), we start seeing that it is already too late, the eco terrorist got his or her wish.

As we see stupid people panic and others in the dark on what is going on, we see a much larger stage for part 2, how governments are in hiding, how politicians try to get to that isolated place, all whilst they cannot tell whether they or a family member is infected, as cities die off over the term of years we see the move into part three where the few surviving members are wondering how to survive, a planet with all the goods there reduced to a population of 253,000,000. Suddenly the tailor, the doctor, the farmer and the butcher are worth their weight in gold in any community. 

And that gets us to part 3 which I cannot yet tell as I have been focussing on part 1, the issues leading to part 2 are clear, the parts in part 3 less so. Yet the foundation of a story is set, the foundation of a premise exposing the useless factor of a stakeholder is naught. So whilst we look at some source giving us ‘how a narrow focus on air pollution limits can backfire’, as far as I could tell, none of them took a look at the EEA report from last year and took a hard look at the 147 locations causing 50% of ALL pollution, so can anyone consider that premise? 147 is a real number, an environmental agency gave us that and the media ignores it. They do not attack it, they do not question it, they ignore it. Why is that? And is it then any wonder that someone will think “If 98% of all the people are dead the pollution goes away as well”? It is the premise to a larger story, one the stakeholders do not want to hear about, because in the end they are merely unofficial lobbyists to those who decide where to spend their money and where to keep their profits. 

A stage we enabled and now that it is here, too many are in doubt of what to do next. Me, I merely write stories, like I come up with new games, new TV series and new movies. My mind is creative what others do with it is not my concern. 

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Is a coroner required?

Yup, that is at times the question. Not in all, but in some. You see, I am rewatching Contagion, Steven Soderbergh did an awesome job and now with Covid, it is almost a documentary (nyuk, yuk, nyuk). Yet this is not about covid, it is about mortality rate. It is in the beginning of the movie when Jude Law gives us “Print media is dead, I’ll save you a seat on the bus”. It is that part that woke up something in me. Yes, print media is dead, or to some extent it should be. So as we look into that direction we see a few items. The first is that the quote comes from a 2011 movie, so there is one side. We see all kind of magazines being removed from the magazine stands and that reinforces the view, yet in opposition we see Forbes giving us less than a year ago ‘Stop Saying Print Journalism Is Dead. 60 Magazines Launched During This Crazy Year’ (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/andymeek/2021/12/30/stop-saying-print-journalism-is-dead-60-magazines-launched-during-this-crazy-year/ ), yes that is one view to have and it is a relevant one. We get “the saga of print journalism over the last several years has been one of decay and rot; layoffs; budget cuts; shrinkage. And it’s easy to see where the pandemic has made all that worse. A moribund economy means fewer advertisers are spending money, which dries up print revenue, which means cutbacks, circulation declines, fewer employees, a greater reliance on wire copy — you get the idea. Proclaim your love of newspapers all you want” and we get in addition to that “NBA star Stephen Curry’s wife Ayesha Curry launched a quarterly food, home and lifestyle magazine called Sweet July with help from the publishing giant Meredith”.

We need to consider two things, the first is that new magazines are started all over the world, they al think that they have the formula that advertisers will want and people will want to buy. That is not a bad thing, it merely is a something that happens. A year ago some might have seen ‘News Corp announces end of more than 100 Australian print newspapers in huge shift to digital, this is as I see it a policy shift, it does not end the publication, it merely shifts it to the digital side. And that is what Forbes and others are afraid of, to be disregarded, so the 60 magazines sounds nice, but how many of them lasts beyond year 1? How many are left after years 2? In this it is not merely the buyer, it will be the advertisers, if they stay away, the publication ends and 60 minus 112 is still a negative number. In this I merely looked at one nation, when we add the New York Times we get ‘More Than 1 in 5 U.S. Papers Has Closed’ and that is almost two years ago. So in all this, the response from Forbes seems a little feeble and desperate. 

So is the print media dead? I agree with people stating that it is dying, but dead? No, I do not believe that this is the case, yet I do believe that print media needs to change, how? Not sure, but the catering to everyone will not work, in this it is like gaming. If you make a game that is supposed to please everyone, you end up with a game that satisfies no one. I believe that print media is on that same setting. I also believe that it is the reason why niche magazines will outlast most others. It is also why the dip on local newspapers are missing to a much larger extent. The people like their local news, the national newspapers will often not cover it, and as such we see more and more newspapers disappear.

And when we take the pulse of something like this we also need to consider what the fallout will be on a much larger scale. You see if they do not, those who advertised in print will only have the digital wave, all whilst examining the population per magazine might reveal a few alternatives and here the local newspapers can pick up the slack to a much larger degree, they are in a good place, the niche in some cases is beneficial to a much larger community and I reckon that we will see a lot more of that in 2022-2023. To those who ignore the setting of “Print media is dead”, that is your right and I have nothing against that, but I do recommend you get a data coroner to see where you can get a benefit or two, because the early bird that hesitates, gets worms.

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Paranoia vs Delusions vs Megalomania

We all have that situation, Am I paranoid? Am I delusional? Is it me? We see these parts in ourselves, at least most balanced people have that side in them, it is part of the checks and balances we build within ourselves. So, when we see the BBC article only 10 hours ago stating ‘Satellite traffic images may suggest virus hit Wuhan earlier’ we need to take a long hard look at the matters that play. TheBBC makes the endgame clear (just to cover themselves) with “The study has not been peer-reviewed”, yet that is merely the part that matters the least. A number of serious questions and levels of scrutiny are required on both Harvard University as well as Dr John Brownstein. Now, I am not stating that the study is wrong, I have not read it, as such I am in no state to comment on it, but I do have thoughts. The first is all that satellite traffic. We might throw that thought away, but I have other issues. For that we need to go back to 2013 (March and August) at that point we had issues with Chemical attacks in Syria and no one knew anything, not even the Americans, so they cannot identify a mass extinction event with Sarin, but they can give a larger view on the flu? Consider the idea that the US has been actively PROTECTING the user of a chemical attack, did you consider that? I had that thought the day it happened, but they all hid behind “The UN mission found the likely use of the nerve agent Sarin”, in all this we accept ’likely’? In that stage we now see all kinds of speculation by people a lot will not care about and I am the delusional one? Added to that the online surges? So what data is used, where did the data come from? Added to all this is the stage of the way it is presented, and linked to all this is data that requires a lot of scrutiny. Consider that someone makes a paper like this whilst we also see “But if the infection was present – undetected perhaps – some people could have been leaving Wuhan” all linked to people searching for flu symptoms? And someone made a paper out of that? 

I reckon it is time to massively scrutinize EVERYTHING coming from the US, yet too many listen to the words from Wall Street and they need a scapegoat or all these losses, all whilst we see that the lack of resources is the number two bad boy. 

Is China innocent?

I do not know that, and to be honest, I do not care. They had the Swine flu over there and a few other issues, yet it is and has always been clear that Wuhan was the start. The fact that the flu went to so many places left me puzzled from the beginning. I admit that I know nothing of Wuhan, as such I have no idea how much international traffic it sees, yet in february there was a clear picture and even then it took the media 10 days to give a clear Pandemic message, even though I had clearly shown that the dictionary meaning of Pandemic had already been passed and the global governments did close to nothing, their economies would not let them and now they are crying like little girls. All starting their own blame game. So whilst we are all looking at China (which partially makes sense) no one is wondering how governments and the people reacted when the WHO gave us all on January 30th “A Public Health Emergency of Global Concern”, yet what did the governments do? They underestimated the issue again and again and we see very little of that, do we? In this the South China Morning Post gave  “that China’s first confirmed Covid-19 case traced back to November 17th”, we can set the stage that there was an issue earlier, but there is also the stage of identifying the disease and in all that the larger issues is not blaming China, as I personally see it the lack of actions by governments on a global scale is a much larger issue, with the winner being President Trump making wild claims going back to March 2020, instead of closing the borders he let it all happen and now we see that the US has an optionally underreported number of almost 2 million cases infected whilst over 111,000 people died of the virus, 111,000 people that died of the flu. In all that less than 50% in the US are registered recovered cases. I reckon that this so called paper on a virus with wild statements like “they could not always compare satellite images taken on the same day in consecutive years due to cloud cover in some of the photo’s”, as I would like to call attention to the 2013 fiasco where implied wind and optionally dust too prevented the Intelligence agencies of seeing what was happening, it made all the difference to the dead people. 

 

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Just Saying “Haachoo”

We all get it, there is an overreaction at present, the overreaction (for the most) is people buying too much of whatever they do not need. So Saturday I saw a person getting back to the supermarket who wanted to return some of the toilet paper he had bought, I wonder if second hand toilet paper sells. He didn’t go to see if he can offload some of the toilet paper to his neighbours and break even that way. I did because 36 rolls is all they sold and 12 should keep me in shitty paper for at least a month, keeping more than that is a little excessive. My neighbours did not mind, they both paid their $5 and as such I broke a little better then even, I made $1 and created two happy neighbours. In my  case, 36 rolls was the only option. Yet as we see the supermarkets, we see empty shelves of toilet paper, tissues, pasta and a few more items. It is panic buying in a Coronaviral atmosphere, even as Coronabeer is not sold beyond the normal amounts it does.

Why is it overreaching?

I get it, we want assurances, yet consider the numbers. Around 170,000 people got it at present. Until last week, 93% of ALL cases were in China, Italy, Iran and South Korea. As such over 3 billion people got overly angst in regards to an optional infecting 1,000 people, that was then. Now we see that Spain (7,845), Germany (5,813) and racing to the top 6 positions France with 5,423 cases. We get it, it is the flu and this one is growing fast, but in the end, France is looking at a 2.3% mortality rate, which is still better than the 3.6% that is the global number. Italy with a whopping 24,747 cases see a rising 7.3% death rate. 

Now, I get it, it is scary, yet here in Australia, the mortality rate is set to 1.67%, a lot lover and now we see the stage where fear is more likely than not killing us before the flu will.

Yet the numbers show something else too, the numbers do not add up in all this. How did that one person in Suriname get infected? The one in Mauritania, Mongolia, or Gabon? There was one case in Gibraltar, but that person is now cured. We are all pointing at China, but the setting does not add up. There is even a case on St. Barths. How is this flu spreading, because all the information does not add up. It did for a while and now we see a pandemic and it is growing and growing in numbers on a stage that is not properly identified, as such the pandemic will only get worse.

For me I see one flaw, in all this there is no mention of Yemen, or Syria. I agree with anyone who states that they have enough problems, but this flu is larger than we think and these people need a lot, they do not need the Coronavirus to help a hand in killing them, yet that is also the larger issue. Two nations where the immune system is close to destroyed to bad water, no food and other means, the flu has a free reign in those places and even as the Middle East Eye gives us ‘Syria insists it is coronavirus-free‘, I believe that this is not the case and through there (and Yemen) it will spread further still. Beyond that, as we look at the numbers, the spread of the disease is largely uncontained as there are too many unknowns and as such when there is no containment, others will get infected, how? We cannot be certain.

It becomes a lot less certain when we consider the quote “Pakistani health officials said on Tuesday that at least five of their country’s cases originated from patients travelling to Pakistan from Syria via Qatar” as such, what else is being spread? And to what extent is Pakistan involved in the Syrian escalation? Because the last time I checked, refugees cannot afford a trip via Qatar, making Qatar also a larger target in other ways.

There is also the stage of consideration around “It was not immediately clear whether the infections could have originated in Qatar, where cases have risen to 337” (401 as per yesterday), even if that is a larger rise in the Middle East where, as per yesterday, Saudi Arabia had 118 cases, Oman had 22 cases, and Bahrain had 214 cases, the stage is larger than we realise because in a setting of non clarity containment cannot be reached. In all this, humanitarian help in Syria and Yemen could be spreading it faster, they have a better immune system and as such until they get noticeably sick they might be spreading the disease to dozens upon dozens more. and whomever they give it to, those infected will hit the mortality rate hard, they are malnourished, have underlying health issues, they tend to be dehydrated and have no way of keeping clean. It is a much larger stage that we cannot predict and it will hit every one of us in one way or another.

In all this, the mortality rate went from 3.4%, to 3.6% (last week) and is now set to 3.8%, as what stage will governments take the lead and have actual solutions in place? The fact that containment is not reached implies that whatever solution they think of is merely a non solving patch on a hole that hides a few other holes that are not patched at all. 

Am I exaggerating? 

Consider that last week 4 nations had 93% of all the cases, that has now dwindled down to 75.1%, the numbers and nations with cases are growing and we see no actual answers and no factual solutions other than post event considerations, giving a much larger rise to hysteria. and in all this the mortality rate does not add up. Globally it might be 3.8%, yet in Sweden it is 0.28%, in the US it is 1.83% and Italy wins with 7.3%, which is a lot higher than China with 3.9%, the numbers do not add up and the media is not informing a hysteria driven population, all whilst the guardian gives us ‘UK coronavirus crisis ‘to last until spring 2021 and could see 7.9m hospitalised‘, in this I wonder how spring 2021 is tested? There is enough doubt on the lack of containment, as such we have much larger fish to fry than ‘A Complete List of Trump’s Attempts to Play Down Coronavirus‘ (source: NY Times).

The setting in any war and believe me, this is a war against the flu, we need to set the stage of containment, as this is not achieved we see that the flu will win in the end. Personally I am not fuzzed, I will be either dead or better employed, either way is a win for me, yet for the US government, the flu is not about the sick (at https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/12/business/economy/coronavirus-response-wall-street.html), it is seemingly about the volatility of Wall Street. And as we are being fed “The Federal Reserve, in a drastic attempt to ensure Wall Street remained functional as volatility roiled even normally staid bond markets, said it would promptly inject as much as $1.5 trillion in loans into the banking system and broaden its purchases of Treasury securities. But neither the Fed’s actions, nor a plan by the European Central Bank to offer cheap loans to banks and step up its bond-buying campaign, were enough to assuage investors, who sent the S&P 500 down 9.5 percent“, we need to consider that there is a mechanism to keep wall street afloat, even when the sick are being denied that. The lack of containment pretty much guarantees it.

And as we are being given (in this case by the Financial Times) “Spain has followed Italy’s lead in imposing a shutdown on its entire population to fight the coronavirus, while France is closing all non-essential shops and restaurants” in this we forget about one small little event. If there is no containment, how does it help and for the matter of imposing self isolation for two weeks, will that actually solve it? Consider that the people were infecting others BEFORE the disease struck them, is the idea that they are still contagious after they feel better two weeks later that strange? Consider that on  December 4th 1872 a ship was found its crew missing, we used that event (Mary Celeste) in several weird occurances, yet the idea that a cured population becomes a Mary Celeste, is that so far fetched? In this Live Science dot com (at https://www.livescience.com/can-coronavirus-be-cured.html) gives us “Currently, however, there is no cure for this coronavirus, and treatments are based on the kind of care given for influenza (seasonal flu) and other severe respiratory illnesses, known as “supportive care,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)“, and as we accept the numbers giving us that 77,450 have recovered, can we be sure that they are not still spreading the flu? I am not telling you, I am asking, because I do not know and it seems that there are plenty of medical specialists in the dark. The quotes we can consider in the article give a larger rise to it and as such the over acting governments are merely showing that they are at best partially limiting the events of spread of the virus implying that the virus could last a lot longer.

There are too many unknowns and the fact that the numbers show that there is no actual containment, are my thoughts out of bounds? It is in that path that I see the actions of the WHO (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/13/european-countries-take-radical-steps-to-combat-coronavirus), slightly out of bounds. I agree with the language, but it cannot be connected to actions, actions require us to acknowledge that we know how to contain this and the numbers show a different story, containment is not reached and as far as I can tell, it was never merely a Chinese issue. It might have grown there faster and more radical, but the rest of the world got infected in other ways, and the medical world is staring in one direction all whilst they have no clue on the powers and the spreadability of the Covid-19 virus. It became a pandemic too quickly and we are now getting the smallest confirmation that the movie by Steven Soderbergh called Contagion (2011) was optimistic, it seems that we have to learn that part the hard way. In those days Manohla Gargis of the New York Times gave us :”“Contagion,” Steven Soderbergh’s smart, spooky thriller about contemporary plagues, is a paranoid freakout for the antigovernment, Tea Party age“, I merely wonder how she will react when Covid-19 comes knocking on her front door.

To support it we get Warner Brothers giving us: “the film ranked 270th in views in the company’s catalog at the end of 2019, when the existence of COVID-19 was not yet public knowledge. Now, it’s the second most-watched movie, bested only by the Harry Potter films“, it seems that the people are being made aware of what was out there and the fact that it is becoming reality will fuel more than a few wandering minds. We might all see this as providence, but it isn’t (at present), apart from the mortality rate not being on par, we have another consideration. It is the fact that there are cases in Mauritania, Mayotte, Mongolia, Suriname, Eswatini, St. Vincent Grenadines, Honduras and the Channel Islands, all with less than 5 cases, yet how did THEY get it? Containment is almost non existent and that is a larger need, when we walk the street we see 50-150 people, and there is every chance that up to 10 have Covid-19, up to ten in every street, that is the reality we face, not now, but in a weeks time? Who knows?

In a setting of non containment, the flu gets free reign, we have known that for decades, and often in the workplace.

 

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The other side of sickness

Sky News gave me the idea last night. I was half awake (hence: half asleep) when the news (at http://news.sky.com/story/de-niro-offers-100k-reward-to-media-for-truth-about-controversial-childrens-vaccine-10771445), when de news stating ‘De Niro offers $100k reward‘ became visible. When I woke up completely (a few hours later), I saw the full Monty: “De Niro offers $100k reward to media for ‘truth’ about controversial children’s vaccine“, which was a little more descriptive. Now I am not media, but I have decided to take a look at it. First off, it is never a good idea to meet your idol when he is still alive, but I think Robert got through it OK. What more is there on the article?

The first part is “willing to publicise criticism of a controversial children’s vaccine“, which is an odd start, so the important part is Thimerosal, which is the medication part that needs to be scrutinised. The other part we get is “a substance containing mercury, in the generalised MMR vaccine, which protects children against measles, mumps and rubella“, now we are off to the races. You see, Mercury is toxic, so is Arsenic. Yet Arsenic was used in the past as a treatment (in very small doses) against Syphilis. It is not the only example. In small doses it is used against Osteoarthritis, which contains a substance that got someone ‘accidently’ poisoned to death in the 60’s, yet in those days Boron (the substance in question) was not tested for, because the body will have it. It is merely the concentration that took care of the non-breathing part in the end.

So what is the story with Thimerosal? Let’s start at the beginning.

last_case_07Vaccines go all the way back to 1798 (roughly) when a man named Edward Jenner decided to pioneer a solution against Smallpox. The solution he came up with was to infect a person with the cow version of the disease so that the human body would see the weaker version as a threat and the body would be fast and more effective fighting the actual disease. So I grew up in the 60’s getting all kinds of vaccines and injections, the conclusion in my case was that I have had no real dangerous diseases for well over 35 years. The World Health Organisation proclaimed that after vaccination campaigns throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the WHO certified the global eradication of smallpox in 1979.

So vaccines are seen as a good thing, so what changed our minds?

There are a few issues that have grown that give voice to the anti-vaccination feelings. Yet, there is documentation out in the open showing exactly the opposite. I witnessed this in the Netherlands (at https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4914a2.htm), in the time frame between April 1999 and January 2000, which gives us the quote “a cluster of five cases of measles was reported among the 390 students attending a religion-affiliated elementary school in the Netherlands. Persons belonging to this religious denomination routinely do not accept vaccination. Municipal health services (MHSs) investigated and found 160 suspected measles cases among children attending the school. By February 4, 2000, 2961 measles cases, including three measles-related deaths, had been reported by 35 MHSs to the national registry. This report summarizes the investigation of the measles outbreak in the Netherlands, which indicated that measles can be a severe disease among unvaccinated populations in the Netherlands“. This alone should clearly show the essential support for vaccines.

Yet now we see the second element in this. You see, the population on a global scale is getting wearier and less trusting of vaccines. It is a $26 billion market and is expected to grow to $61 billion in the next 3 years. We are confronted with flu vaccines and there is no clear proof or documentation that they are actually a benefit. Even as the 60’s were a clear indication that the foundation of vaccines was sound and essential, the movement of big pharma and the essential need for profit has given vaccines the place where it potentially leaves too bad a taste in the mouths of too many people. This is the place where Thimerosal finds itself in. Mistrusted because of the makers and mistrusted due to a lack of proper information and in similar size the massive misinformation that we now see on the lack of benefits that other medications (like Multi vitamins) find themselves in, and to some extent, the media has been too often, little to no help at all. To a larger extent, they are chasing facts, or not showing the dangers ahead of time in too many cases. At http://www.globalresearch.ca/big-pharma-and-big-profits-the-multibillion-dollar-vaccine-market/5503945, the Canadian Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) gives us “While the main fixation of anti-vaccine groups is an old, discredited study linking vaccination to autism, another is a conspiracy theory circulated online that both doctors and pharmaceutical companies stand to profit financially from vaccination—which supposedly leads to perverse incentives in advocating for the public to vaccinate. But that argument is historically unfounded. Not only do pediatricians and doctors often lose money on vaccine administration, it wasn’t too long ago that the vaccine industry was struggling with slim profit margins and shortages. The Economist wrote that “for decades vaccines were a neglected corner of the drugs business, with old technology, little investment and abysmal profit margins. Many firms sold their vaccine divisions to concentrate on more profitable drugs“, at this point I offer in opposition, if that was true, why would there be a sudden rush to get into vaccines? If certain diseases have been eradicated, would the need for vaccines not decrease? If the flu cannot be cured through vaccines, what is its benefit? Two question that have not been properly addressed ever. The press have remained on the surface too often and too long. There is too much profit in advertisements for the media, too many concessions and the people notice, the people at large deduce their own wisdom and facts in what they see. Are they wrong?

What is Thimerosal?

The National Centre for Immunisation Research & Surveillance (NCIRS) gives the following Factsheet where we see “There is no evidence that thiomersal in vaccines has caused any health problems except minor reactions, such as redness at the injection site“, another fact shown, a part that seems to be ignored in a few points of visibility. It is “Methyl mercury is more potent; it accumulates in the body because the time taken for the body to eliminate it (known as the ‘half-life’) is about 50 days. Ethyl mercury (in thiomersal) does not accumulate in the body to such an extent, because its half-life is only about 7–10 days“, the dangerous side I was aware of, or the danger I perceived is not a factor here.

  • Thimerosal is also known as thiomersal, hence the quotes from different sources have these two names.

Now we get the issue that is also a cause for concern and it is not the controversial accusation of autism. The issue is that if we accept the initial fact, then why are we given “the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) asked vaccine makers to remove thiomersal from vaccines as quickly as possible as a precautionary measure“, when we look (at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/131/1/149) the quote “Overwhelmingly, the evidence collected over the past 15 years has failed to yield any evidence of significant harm, including serious neurodevelopmental disorders, from use of thimerosal in vaccines“, personally I would love to see that data! There is also “Dozens of studies from countries around the world have supported the safety of thimerosal-containing vaccines. Specifically, the Institute of Medicine, and others have concluded that the evidence favours rejection of a link between thimerosal and autism“. The AAP publications show 7 links to academic papers confirming this.

There is also: “Although there are clear neurotoxic effects of methyl mercury absorption, ethyl mercury has not been associated with those consequences“, so one mercury is not another, yet how deep has this been investigated? As we see that ethyl mercury might have been a massive push for the profitability that vaccines became, there is still the question on the need for vaccines. I am not debating that the larger good exist, that evidence was given in the Netherlands, a place where Measles suddenly resurfaced, in a place where vaccination was rejected on religious reasons. As we reject ‘en mass’ to a larger extent on flu-vaccines and on the pharmaceuticals that need too much profit and as it is seen by many at the expense of them all.

Projection, publication against the interpreted fear and rejection through despise of the pharmaceutical community.

Yet in all this thimerosal is just an element, the actual vaccine in all this is the MMR vaccine. Robert De Niro did not oppose the MMR vaccine, just the use of thimerosal. When it comes to vaccines, there is one paper that does have an impact. It is a paper by Ami Schattner published in 2005 called ‘Consequence or coincidence?: The occurrence, pathogenesis and significance of autoimmune manifestations after viral vaccines‘, which could be seen as alarming (at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264410X05003506) giving us “Very few patients may develop some autoimmune diseases following viral vaccination (in particular — arthropathy, vasculitis, neurological dysfunction and thrombocytopenia). For the overwhelming majority of people, vaccines are safe and no evidence linking viral vaccines with type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis (MS) or inflammatory bowel disease can be found“, with the emphasis on “The occurrence and significance of autoimmune manifestations after the administration of viral vaccines remain controversial“. Now, if you picked up on it, you will state that Autism is not an autoimmune disease, then you are right. Now for my speculation in this part, if the creation of a Immune system disorders is rare, I am speculating that the creation of autism through vaccination is even more rare than that. A vaccine is the introduction of a disease to the body, so the immune system is actually directly attacked. If that does not abnormally react, the consideration that another disease like Autism, which is a neuro developmental disorder seems extremely unlikely unless the vaccine was specifically for a neuro based disease, and at present it seems less and less likely that it is the case.

An escalation that we are confronted with all due to a fraudulent paper from Andrew Wakefield et al, who decided that 1998 was a good year to misrepresent facts and opposing the MMR vaccine in support of a competing vaccine. It would be my speculated assumption that greed got in the way of his better angels and more likely than not, to an even larger extent by that competing brand as well. It is that competitive approach, with support of a former academic that the mistrust has grown in the people, especially the parents on a global scale. There it is that we find thimerosal, removed in many places as a mere precaution. That against a large supported foundation that thimerosal is not dangerous. So does this make the view of Robert De Niro incorrect?

No!

I believe that he is asking valid question, in addition, let it be sad that his view as stated: ‘he just wants a safer way to prevent diseases‘ is a noble one, especially in an age where the profit needs are pushed through too often and too fast. Procon.org gives us (at http://prescriptiondrugs.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=005528) a list of 35 FDA approved drugs that were later pulled from the market. This includes Accutane that was on the market for 27 years, Cylert for 30 years and Darvon & Darvocet for 55 years. Now, we have to accept that the tests then were not on a level we have nowadays, yet when we read the effect of serious toxicity to the heart, with a death toll of well over 2100 deaths between 1981 and 1999, there is an issue and as such, the request from Robert De Niro is not that outrageous. In opposition we see that the overall testing is a lot better, and if there is enough support that the half-life of Ethyl mercury is 7-10 days, there should be clear warnings with using it, but if there is enough support for the safety, what is the problem? I see it to some extent in ‘does not accumulate in the body to such an extent‘, to what extent does it accumulate? That is the serious question that needs a clear answer. Are there exceptions? Is there an issue to the parts that do accumulate? Questions that are not available at present (as far as I can tell), so in all this Robert De Niro is asking the right question and it gives concern, because is the AAP consideration we see in ‘removing thimerosal use in preservatives as a precautionary measure‘ also a misrepresentation? Is it a precaution, or was this released in 2013, in the time of the Obama Administration, voiced as such to prevent an anti-vaccine panic from happening?

Is that so far out of bounds? The problem is that for the most the media does not have the knowledge, the many who do have the knowledge tend to work for pharmaceutical companies, or they work for government installations working for politicians who depend on the support of pharmaceuticals. It seems that in no way will the people be more likely than not be properly and correctly informed, that part has been proven for almost two decades.

The only part that worries me is that in the end, it is the $100K payment from Robert De Niro for the media to take an optional serious (opposition) stand. When you google FDA you see very little actual news, when you Google Pharmaceuticals you get loads of news, and 99% linked to awards, pricing, acquisition and profit performance. This is exactly why the people are getting less and less trusting of pharmaceutical companies. It is not merely a marketing thing, it is a distrust that comes from several paths of information.

Here we get to Vexxed, a movie by no one else than the debunked and fraud driven Andrew Wakefield who became writer director of the movie after he was gutted in court. A five-member statutory tribunal of the GMC found three dozen charges proven, this was on 28th January 2010. It includes 4 counts of dishonesty. In addition the panel ruled that Wakefield had “failed in his duties as a responsible consultant” which tends to be a very serious charge. The 1998 publication was, on the findings of the GMC’s, noting that elements of the manuscript had been falsified, fully retracted.

The fear the paper brought by Andrew Wakefield have had consequences, a false paper that led to vaccine mistrust and resulting in serious illness and deaths, which now beckons the question, if this result repeats after the movie, can Andrew Wakefield be arrested and convicted of murder? The paper has issues that there was no intent to endanger lives, but the movie is a repeat of the previous event, intent can be the natural acceptance of a repeated fact. The issue I see is that pharmaceutical companies have actively created waves of mistrust fuelling the existence of conspiracy theories, the movie Vaxxed could be seen as such. I have not seen the movie, so I am keeping an open mind, yet the truth is that I am a child of vaccines in the old age, in this new age, where it is less about health, and more about profit, the voice of conspiracy theorists might have valid views. I say again ‘might’, I wonder how these people look at a movie like Contagion, the masterpiece of Steven Soderbergh who shows in a fictional setting the nightmare that the CDC faces in an ongoing fight to find solutions of some of the most contagious and in some cases still incurable diseases. I reckon that if you feel you want the truth, seeing Vaxxed, whilst never seeing Contagion will never ever get you the truth. Because the fear we see in Contagion was a reality after WW2. Millions in a weakened state and diseases like the measles were running freely all over the world, now we see statistics from 1980 with 851,849 European cases, to 16,899 cases in 2014, a clear decrease due to the vaccine regime of the 50’s and 60’s. Now see a mortality rate of 0.1% – 0.2%, whilst in 1900 the mortality rate in the US was 4% for measles. Smallpox in the periods 1900-1904, had a mortality rate of around 11.5%, we can claim (to some extent) that even though there were mitigating circumstances (like hygiene), vaccinations have been a great success. There is little to no opposing debate on that.

So how is this for the MMR vaccine and thiomersal?

This is the issue that Robert De Niro is raising and in addition to him raising this he is asking very valid questions. It is however equally important that a person like Andrew Wakefield should not be taken at his word. This is not merely him versus the world, when you look at all the information, the competitor he promoted remained silent for all this time as far as I have been able to ascertain, there was no open outrage of this competitor coming with academics showing valid numbers in opposition of the tribunal findings, in addition no evidence that there was a danger, that part has never ever been shown. Did the news dig there, did we get a clear low down from the World Health Organisation (WHO)? Is it that far-fetched that as the Andrew Wakefield scandal caused an increase in morbidity due to lower vaccinations that both the WHO and the CDC would have a clear need to intervene with facts? Are these questions so strange?

In that same part we see the Huffington Post in 2014 giving us, via columnist Lawrence Solomon quotes like “Merck, the pharmaceutical giant, is facing a slew of controversies over its Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine following numerous allegations of wrongdoing from different parties in the medical field, including two former Merck scientists-turned-whistle-blowers. A third whistle-blower, this one a scientist at the Centers for Disease Control, also promises to bring Merck grief following his confession of misconduct involving the same MMR vaccine“, from that point of view, the moment Vexxed was announced, the CDC should have a clear voice stating the issues (if there are any) regarding the MMR vaccine, in equal measure, if Lawrence Solomon is ‘merely’ a columnist, why this news did not make it to the front pages on a global scale, and if this was not true, why did the Huffington Post run with it? (at http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/lawrence-solomon/merck-whistleblowers_b_5881914.html), it even has links with the court documents, which is even more of a concern.

In conclusion I need to state that if we accept that the Andrew Wakefield disaster came with deaths when the paper was published, the deaths that could be proven to stem from Vexxed require the courts on a global scale to indict Andrew Wakefield with attempted murder for those who get sick and murder for those who die due to non-vaccination. This is not a ‘maybe’ or a ‘freedom of speech’ issue. When it causes the intentional deaths of others it is murder, plain and simple!

As for Robert De Niro, he does make a case to get medical solutions to the people in a safer way, but which way cannot be stated, because it is a track that takes a long time, he has the option to get the support of the media and the medical profession to take another really serious look at thiomersal. I still had questions and next to Robert De Niro, I am the clever one (read: nothing wrong with my ego)!

This gets us to the final part that the Washington Post gave us in May 2016. The quote “create an impression that there was a link by falsifying the data“, which we basically covered earlier, yet to see it this harsh is still important and it changes the taste of the movie by a lot. In here we also see “Actor Robert De Niro, who has an autistic son, originally lobbied to put the film on the schedule for the Tribeca Film Festival in March. But several days later, he said he had a change of heart“, which is another matter, in that that his questions and the fact that he puts up $100K is still valid, perhaps even more valid. It is my interest that gets piqued with “Dozens of top journals — including the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of Paediatric Infectious Diseases and the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders — have published papers that looked into a possible link and found none“, with the part that the visibility of all this has not been that high, it is my believe that whomever puts the Robert De Niro story out (as it is valid news) should also show all links to these journals, because as it is, Andrew Wakefield gets, due to the global scepticism of pharmaceuticals, a little too much consideration.

So as we gave the smallest consideration for the other side, we must give vision to what is an actual solution for the children of the world, in that the questions of Robert De Niro remain valid, we need to get solution to the people in a safer way and some questions regarding thimerosal remain, perhaps the journalists who are vetting to get a $100K bonus will take another look and answer those questions too. It is not some conspiracy theory thing, it is merely how the AAP decided to voice it, not wrong, just in a way that left us with questions.

 

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The virtual reality of it all

Well, I would have expected my gaming ideas to come from many places, the Guardian was not one of them to be honest, but there you have it, we find information in all kinds of places. reason here is the other BAFTA, not the one eloquently mentioned by Stephen Fry (aka Reaver to gamers), but by the Gaming BAFTA, which will be awarded on March 12th (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/feb/10/alien-isolation-2015-bafta-video-game-award-nominations). There are many titles that will be mentioned, many will become non winners, and remain nominees none the less and one will stand out. Let’s take a look at those categories and some of the games mentioned.

Artistic Achievement

This is the only place where we see Ubisoft shine, to be more precise their graphical teams, no matter how I spoke out against Ubisoft and how they neglected Assassins Creed, their graphical teams did not. These graphical gurus did show a level of excellence that has been from out of this world. No matter how many bugs we see in Unity, the graphics were unreal, as were they for Black Flag; it is a well-deserved nomination and a possible winner, although they will compete with their own title Far Cry 4 here.

Audio achievement

There is one title that stands out, more important, the title itself is an achievement that many will have waited for, for a long time. It is Alien: Isolation and it puts the SEGA logo back on the screen in a most wonderful way. This alien game is not about blasting, it is about staying alive. This is the one perfect horror survival game that places the genre in a new light whilst remaining true to the atmosphere of the original Alien movie. The Evil Within scratches the surface of this genre, Alien: Isolation breaks through the skin and leaves you sweaty with possible heart problems, just like the original movie from 1979. The game truly takes you to the nerve wrecking ordeal of sharing a spaceship with an alien in the most unwanted way. The audio is every bit as important as the graphics and the audio team delivered like nothing you ever faced before.

Best Game

Is always a hard nut to crack, many games stand out in their own way, for various reasons, SEGA is the strongest nominee here, but a truly exceptional game delivers on many fronts, as such all titles deserve to be there, personally Destiny is as I see it, the least likely title to win, as it depends too much on multiplayer events, yet, this does not take it out of the race, I wonder how the silent title in the back (Monument Valley) will do. It is a silent gem, the use of the masterpieces of M. C. Escher are not to be ignored. There is a mesmerising element in this game that is as addictive as a game like Minecraft ever will be. As I mention addiction, I must warn you to stay away from nominee handheld game ‘Threes’. what seems like a simple game of addition, will turn from one second into the next into a game of addiction and your next set of threes is only one little swipe away. I reckon that in this category it will be a fight between Monument Valley and Threes and either should be seen as a worthy winner.

 

I can go on but you will have to take your own look and see what you think should be the right one to win. The important element here is that we see two parts of gaming that are now clearly impacting business. The first one is quality, yes, I started with the good side of Ubisoft as their graphical teams truly deserve it, but overall Ubisoft bungled the ball and an event like this, where they should be in domination, they are only attending in the most minimalistic of ways. The critique on several levels for Far Cry 4 and the massive failure Assassins Creed: Unity has shown to be, should be a clear indication that Yves Guillemot needs to clean up his divisions and he needs to do it no sooner than 5 minutes after the gaming BAFTA’s have ended.

The second part in all this is originality in gaming. SEGA is showing that in no small matter, in addition, we see Minecraft mentioned a few times, but the stellar part is that silent achievement Monument Valley, developer Ustwo under guidance of fearless leader Neil McFarland shows that independent developers are the future in more ways than one. The Creative Assembly (those behind Alien: Isolation and the old EA sports games) are not indie as such, but they are a far stretch from a massive developer like 2K and Ubisoft, which in addition show those larger developers that the true gems are in the mind of a person and not in the massive visibility of a division.

It will be interesting to see who is elected winner in these BAFTA’s for the mere reason that those who decide might not be the group that largely play these games, the one part that will be interesting to see is that the audience might see the real Ellie (Ashley Johnson), it is always nice to meet the person you kept safe in a digital world, even if she looks nothing like the digital character, an issue Jonathan Irons who will be portraying Kevin Spacey won’t face any day soon. I am eager to see Cliff Martinez on the stage, hopefully for winning the BAFTA for Far Cry 4, which was an excellent piece of work. I have been a fan of his work since Solaris and Contagion, two of his many created master works. As a debut game, Hitman Go definitely takes a shine. They changed a shooting assassin into a tough puzzle game with pawns shaped like Sebuteo figurines, but in the style of Hitman 47 and the goons he goes after. However, in that same category we see Shovel knight, a true retro game, based on the best of the best old style console games, whilst looking new fresh and fun to play. It is a fun achievement for both the new and the seasoned gamer.

So we will all be looking forward, or in some cases dreading this awarding evening. The only worry might be that the people who casted their votes and enjoying a horror survival stealth game is too low, which might impact SEGA to get a decent amount of the 6 nominations it received. We will see it all on March 12th and no matter who wins, I feel certain that the winning views will entice several players to take a look into nominated and winning games they had not considered playing before, that in itself will make the gaming BAFTA a great event for nominee, winner and gamer alike

The full nomination list can be found at http://www.bafta.org/sites/default/files/uploads/baftagamesawardsnominationslist.pdf

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