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Avoid Coughing to Save Lives (COVID-19)

March 15, 2020

We are inundated with messages to wash hands as if it were the most important measure we can take — yet little is said about the risks of coughing.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) makes clear that the novel corona virus (causing COVID-19) is transmitted “mainly from person-to-person…through respiratory droplets when somebody coughs or sneezes.” (Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/transmission.html)

CDC-still-learning-COVID-19-spread-by-coughing-15March2020-blackborder

In addition a recently submitted paper (March 8, 2020) from Wuhan University and other scientists in China found the COVID-19 virus in the air in hospitals. (Source: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.08.982637v1). We already known flu virus is found in the air.

Hand-to-face contact may or may not cause infection. CDC further states “It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavir…/2019-ncov/…/transmission.html

Yet the world is being told to wash our hands and rarely told the importance of covering our coughs and of avoiding areas where people are or have been coughing.

The primary receptors are in the deep lung (ACE2) and our fingers don’t go there — how does the virus get there? Small particles get there all the time, however — whenever we breathe. Many particles are emitted when people cough, including tiny particles.

Moreover, it is coughing and sneezing that most likely deposits the particles we are trying to wash off. Don’t give up on washing hands – it’s important for many reasons – but it’s long past time to emphasize people COVER THEIR COUGH so those particles don’t get all over and onto our hands and into our bodies in the first place.

SELF-QUARANTINE if you are coughing and AVOID people who are coughing. Unfortunately, covering a cough is at best partially effective.

Yes we should already be isolating – but many are partially isolating at most — or people are isolating in groups, some of whom may be infected or are not entirely isolating and may become infected – and we don’t know yet how infectious people with few or no symptoms can be.

I have a family of friends (including two small children) who have been washing their hands so much that their hands are cracking and bleeding. For all we know this could be another source of infection by the virus, theoretically it could be even more dangerous than touching the face – we don’t know yet. Blood-based path of infection could help explain why some people get diarrhea along with COVID-19 (two major areas for the receptor cells are in the deep lung and the intestines, so the bowels could get sick as well from the same virus — for example if the virus enters the cuts in the hands, spreads through the blood, and then somehow enters the receptor cells).

My hunch at this point given everything is that small particles are a significant source of COVID-19 infection, possibly the major source. Small particles by their nature typically stay airborne for long periods of time. In this case presumably the small particles would be emitted primarily by coughing, and also by sneezing.

Please alert anyone suggesting that hand washing is the answer, especially organizations doing outreach, to start emphasizing the key source of the particles. Teach people to avoid exposing themselves and others to coughing as if lives depend on it – they do.


Meggs holds a Master’s in Public Health (Environmental Health Sciences Division) from the University of California at Berkeley.

Cover your Cough to Save Lives (COVID-19)

March 15, 2020

We are inundated with messages to wash hands as if it were the most important measure we can take — yet little is said about the risks of coughing.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) makes clear that the novel corona virus (COVID-19) is transmitted “mainly from person-to-person…through respiratory droplets when somebody coughs or sneezes.” (Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/transmission.html)

CDC-still-learning-COVID-19-spread-by-coughing-15March2020-blackborder

In addition a recently submitted paper (March 8, 2020) from Wuhan University and other scientists in China found the COVID-19 virus in the air in hospitals. (Source: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.08.982637v1). We already known flu virus is found in the air.

CDC further states “It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavir…/2019-ncov/…/transmission.html

Yet the world is being told to wash our hands and rarely told the importance of covering our coughs and of avoiding areas where people are or have been coughing.

What’s more there is evidently no proof yet the virus can be passed by hand-to-face contact. The primary receptors are in the deep lung (ACE2) and our fingers don’t go there — how does the virus get there? Small particles get there all the time, however — whenever we breathe. Many particles are emitted when people cough.

Moreover, it is coughing and sneezing that most likely deposits the particles we are trying to wash off. Don’t give up on washing hands – it’s important for many reasons – but it’s long past time to emphasize people COVER THEIR COUGH so those particles don’t get all over and onto our hands and bodies in the first place.

SELF-QUARANTINE if you are coughing and AVOID people who are coughing. Unfortunately, covering a cough is at best partially effective.

I have family friends who have been washing their hands so much that their hands are cracking and bleeding. For all we know this could be another source of infection by the virus, theoretically it could be even more dangerous than touching the face – we don’t know yet. It could help explain why some people get diarrhea along with COVID-19 (two major areas for the receptor cells are in the deep lung and the intestines, so the bowels could get sick as well from the same virus — for example if the virus enters the cuts in the hands, spreads through the blood, and then somehow enters the receptor cells).

My hunch at this point given everything is that small particles are a significant source of COVID-19 infection, possibly the major source. Small particles by their nature typically stay airborne for long periods of time. In this case presumably they would be emitted primarily by coughing, then by sneezing.

Please alert anyone suggesting that hand washing is the answer, especially organizations doing outreach, to start emphasizing the key source of the virus. Teach people to cover their coughs as if lives depend on it – they do.


Meggs holds a Master’s in Public Health (Environmental Health Sciences Division) from the University of California at Berkeley.

HAND WASHING IS NOT GOING TO PREVENT THE PANDEMIC

March 13, 2020

HAND WASHING IS NOT GOING TO PREVENT THE PANDEMIC.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) makes clear that the novel corona virus (COVID-19) is transmitted “mainly from person-to-person…through respiratory droplets when somebody coughs or sneezes.” (Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/transmission.html)

In addition a recently submitted paper (March 8, 2020) from Wuhan found COVID-19 virus in the air in hospitals. (Source: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.08.982637v1). We already known flu virus is found in the air.

Yet the world is being told to wash its hands and rarely told the importance of covering their cough and of avoiding areas where people are or have been coughing.

What’s more it’s possible that the virus is not passed by hand-to-face contact, possibly making the widespread fear of touching the material world an unnecessary limitation on movement and action, an unnecessary stressor at a time that we need our bodies’ defenses to be optimal.

If anyone can demonstrate any evidence that the virus passes by hand to face contact and can explain how it then arrives in the deep lung please do. Until then it appears the hand washing mania is a dangerous misinformation which imparts a false sense of security (and misplaced stress and fear) on top of the failure of leadership, from Berkeley to the White House, to emphasize the danger of this pandemic. People should be isolating and anyone coughing even the slightest should be completely covering their mouth.

Some ideas (questions) for how the virus could possibly get from the face to the deep lung where ACE2 receptors are located in case anyone has any knowledge to share:

Could it be that:

1. There are cells with virus receptors in the oronasopharynx? The virus replicates in those cells, is released and makes its way into the bloodstream, and is carried to the alveolar region where it somehow connects with alveolar receptor cells?

2. There is a small amount of fluid in the throat that regularly makes it way past the glottis into the trachea, and somehow virus in the trachea makes it way down to the alveolar region?

3. There are macrophages in the oronasopharynx that pick up the virus, either because they have virus receptors or simply scavenge, and these macrophages migrate down to the alveolar region?

4. Given that a single virus is a nanoparticle, a virus physically navigates through a capillary wall in a mucous membrane in the oronasopharynx, enters the bloodstream, and is is carried to the alveolar region where it somehow connects with receptor cells? (I believe that at least some nanoparticles can pass through capillary walls.)

5. Particles with the virus attach to the face by contact or deposition from people coughing, and are then somehow released to the air and aspirated to the deep lung? (Added 3/14)

???

Thus far to my knowledge no biological explanation has been given for why hand washing would help. POINT IS HAND WASHING IS NOT GOING TO PREVENT THE PANDEMIC. STOP EMPHASIZING THAT OVER PROTECTION FROM COUGHING!

To be absolutely clear, of course hand washing is still important, if only to prevent other illnesses when health care services may be overwhelmed, so those with COVID-19 have more chance of living. Slowing the infection rate so health care resources are available to those who are sick makes a huge difference in the death rate. Also to be clear, yes it is certainly possible that hand-to-face contact might cause COVID-19 infection in at least some cases, evidently we don’t know yet. But ignoring the respiratory transmission is a deadly mistake.

My hunch at this point given everything is that small particles are a significant source of COVID-19 infection. Small particles might stay airborne for long periods of time. They are emitted primarily by coughing.

CDC-still-learning-COVID-19-spread-by-coughing-15March2020-blackborder

CDC is admitting they don’t know enough yet and again that the virus is thought to be passed “mainly from person-to-person…through respiratory droplets when somebody coughs or sneezes.”

CDC further states “It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavir…/2019-ncov/…/transmission.html

Please alert anyone suggesting that hand washing is the answer, especially organizations doing outreach, to stop giving a false sense of security and misplaced fear. Teach people to cover their coughs as if lives depend on it – they do.


Meggs holds a Master’s in Public Health (Environmental Health Sciences Division) from the University of California at Berkeley.

Bicycle Safety: Recommendation to Uber (dooring)

November 1, 2019

Recently I was struck by an Uber door in Washington, D.C. It sent me spinning not only across the asphalt and into a parked car, but on an odyssey to consider what Uber and other automobile-based rideshare services can do to eliminate dooring.

Attached is the policy recommendation document I sent to Uber today: memo-to-uber-bicycle-safety-passenger-doors-jason-meggs-01november2019

right-leg-injuries-caused-by-uber-door.png

More details of my injury, how to avoid dooring, why dooring is never the bicyclist’s fault, and what to do if you are hit by a car door, may be forthcoming but for now the focus is on changing the big players who have greatly increased injuries to bicyclists with unmarked cars making frequent passenger pick-ups and drop-offs.

I want to be clear that this advice is important for any rideshare company, not just Uber and not just in D.C. – and much of it is applicable to any passenger vehicle including personal/private vehicles, vans and taxis. Moreover certain issues are NEW to rideshare and as of Jan. 22, 2020 Uber and Lyft have NOT replied.
Please share.

THESE HARMS CAN AND MUST STOP NOW.

In Celebration of Slugs

July 2, 2016

Slugs!

Your Agent Meggsy (YAM i am) was enjoying a morning walking meditation in nature at a birthday retreat near the Pacific Coast south of San Francisco. Behold, what have we here? A slug! A big slug! A banana slug! We drew closer, intrigued by the fascinating intensity of this big beautiful slow-sliding slug.

meggsy-slug-tastic.jpg

Have you ever watched a true slug in action? They are miraculous, gently, slowly, steadily moving forward. So vulnerable. What is their role in nature? How do they survive, being such a giant treat exposed like this, moving so slowly? Surely there is some secret brilliance to their existence.

As we marveled at the slug for some time (during which friend slug made many centimeters of earnest progress), YAM realized that slug is often used as a derogatory epiphet. A “slug” is a term slung at a “slow, lazy person” perhaps because they constantly let others down. But whyever wouldst one malign the slug, who is clearly doing a lot of work here, out of frustrations in these heady human affairs?

Why, for that matter, why would we call someone a “bastard” to say they are wilfully harmful? Is there really any link with people who don’t know who their father is?

And what about all those body parts that are equated by anthropomorphized anger’s assignment? Is there really something so despicable about the anus? And so on for a thousand terrible terminological temper tantrums ad terminum.

Pondering this I peered over yon slug and noted some droopy flowers hanging above, truly a tiny stage set of languid torpor. Woe be to flowers that don’t perk up and entertain us!

meggsy-droopifiedfloraloozies.JPG

Rather than calling someone who lets us down a slug, we might more accurately (but not more moreso) call them a DROOPY FLOWER in grave enmity!!! ARGHHHH! DROOPY FLOOOOWERZZZ!!!

Yet it was so green, and so natural, even this seemed a bit…comical. And ineffective.

Now true, there are those who are fearsomely – phobically – phantasmagorically – terrified of slugs. Particularly big ones like these dear banana slugs. And at the other extreme, there are those who make much of them (such as the Banana Slug mascot at UCSC).

For me today, just to appreciate the peaceful, gentle, determined spirit of the slug exactly as it is, will do just fine, thank you.

Besides, they’re probably reducing carbon emissions — next up, air lifting beavers to save the climate!

 

[Update May 1, 2018: To see magical slugs-in-action check this video piece:

https://www.kqed.org/science/27260/banana-slugs-secret-of-the-slime ]

Gender-Neutral Pronouns, Please!

October 15, 2015

Have you ever wished you could speak about another person without specifying his or her or its [some would say “their”] sex (aka “gender”)?

Frustrating, isn’t it? Certainly in the various dialects of English. Perhaps even moreso in the many languages that demand a gender for each noun; some may even have a completely different conjugation for each person, depending on “their” biologically-defined identity.

star31

Desde eso

“Enough already!”  Isn’t it universal by now that people by nature don’t want to be stereotyped, limited, judged, and stuffed into a box?

Once upon a time, Your Meggsy sought to set this matter straight. After many inquiries with sympathetic individuals, some soul-searching and analysis, This Agent settled on a set of gender non-specific pronouns for use in English, “The Nas”:

It/She/He Na
It/Her/Him Nam
Its/Hers/His Ahz

To test this new proposal, we (at least, all those who entertained my determination, that is) created a looong list of example sentences, substituting The Nas for sex-con-straints-as-usual to see if using “Na/Nam/Ahz” would be awkward, ambiguous, or otherwise difficult for usage.

Example: She will take her high-frequency analyzer to verify its calibration and send an update to him.

Becomes: Na will take ahz high-frequency analyzer to verify ahz calibration and send an update to nam.

While gendered pronouns can help disambiguate assignment (and personifying an electronic instrument may be objectionable especially if it isn’t a cute droid like R2-D2), we were unable to break the new proposal in any tests in terms of spoken disambiguation and awkwardness, perhaps because of the linguistic similarity of both the beginning and ending of the new pronouns to the sound of the status quo’s existing options.

Even if we use the plural “they” to indicate a being without specifying a singular person’s “gender”, the word is similar enough to “na” (they~na) and likewise, “them” is similar in sound to “nam” (them~nam).

Testing further, assembling words that began or ended with similar sounds to na/nam/ahz still failed to create conflicts or confusion; certainly there were no more difficult situations than the many wacky and ambiguous possibilities English is already so famous for, and its lending to alluvial alliterations’ deluges of delusions. 😉

This testing was admittedly not nearly exhaustive as the process used for verifying the Loglan/lojban language(s)/project(s) to verify ahz/their lack of audiovisual and isomorphic ambiguity (despite my having used Lex and Yacc and a li’l bit’o Bison in mah day, e.g., to construct a JAVA compiler in old school (thus being one presumably more immediately able than most to conduct more rigorous testing). But it seemed unwarranted. Just use it. I didn’t “care” anymore; I wanted an option.

The world needed an option!

This was a personal imperative. I’d already identified a great wall of impassibility/ineffability falling from the fallacious fallibility and facetious faux-fascism forcing ferociously these lamely illuminary limitations of language.

While studying Loglan/lojban as a teenager, spending the nocturnal hours learning the first 1,000 words and ahz grammar in hopes of being the first fluent Loglan/lojban speaker in the world, my inspiration stemmed in no small part from frustrations with language itself, at least in my experience (primarily with various forms of American English). The promise of being free to express any concept was compelling.

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (from which Loglan begat) spoke to me deeply: the question of whether language restricts culture, or culture restricts language. Of course, like “Nature v. Nurture”, this was a conundrum limited by the narrowness of the times, yet critical to our evolution as a species capable of consciousness. It occurred to me that English and other major languages simply by virtue of their having overrun other languages were arguably languages of conquest and that peace would only be possible if we could find ways to communicate the many concepts that had been otherwise precluded — like a prison upon our consciousness — by established and royally- and culturally- and religiously-restricted/redacted languages.

Only much later, in the search for partnership, did Your Agent Meggsy learn with awe, admiration and joy, that some languages were long free of these chains.

Even later, much less joyously but no less in awe, a friend heard this concern about languages of conquest and confided cynically yet with compassion: “conquest is the language.”

“Conquest is the language.”

Yet examples exist!

Finnish, for example, to draw on personal experience, is a language I’m assured is free of compulsively-sex-defining pronouns. While acclimating to Finnish language and culture, in seek of partnership, some summers ago, Your Agent was most impressed to learn that in Finnish, one must actually do extra work to specify the sex of a person! Huzzah!

Essentially, in Finnish, all actions and actors are presumed equal across “genders” until specified otherwise, and thus all pronouns are by nature non-specific to gender. And “believe you me”, in Finland you would not assume that a “man’s job” couldn’t be done by a woman!

Cutting wood? Add in a “she” if you prefer. Or a “he.” Or nothing at all. We’re only talking about cutting wood, so it’s immaterial whether the person is biologically male or female. How refreshing!

Is there evidence that this language openness has led to societal openness? The leadership by women in Finland certainly supports the hypothesis that such freedom from self-fulfilling prophesies inflicted by “natural” language have important effects on socio-political outcomes. Finland was first country in Europe (and before the U.S., of course) to realize women’s suffrage, and first in the world to recognize women’s right to office.

My stay in Finland was full of tales of strong women; in one dramatic example, my prospective partner’s grandmother, at age twelve, climbed a grain silo and waited with but a shotgun to dispatch Russian warplanes should they pass overhead. (But then the sad legacy of war is invoked and the terrible trauma of losing half a population to the merciless onslaught of empires.) 

Did empowered women in Finland free the pronouns, or did the freed-up pronouns empower the women?

Does it matter? “Chicken and egg”, “nature v. nurture”, main thing is move forward.

Moving forward is possible; just recently Finland’s nearby neighbor, the country of Sweden, announced a “fresh infusion of 13,000 new words” to the dictionary of the Swedish Academy, including the adoption of a gender neutral pronoun (hen).

We all must know how bent-out-of-shape so many English speakers can get if deprived of sex identification of children and infants. “Is it a boy or a girl” seems the first question so many impose. With some attention and skill, when speaking of anyone doing anything, one can meander through the language omitting clues as to the sex of the subject(s) spoken of. Just see how the sexual unknowns tension builds then!

The urge to know and to classify can be so strong, but is it necessary? Is it innate?  True this is seen in many other aspects of existence as well. Where people are “from”, their “age” in annums, their calculated class, rationalized race, etc,. become major sticking points to communication and commonality in such a system of conformity and categorical closure. To hold the space for possibilities can seem difficult or even tortuous to so many people in so many situations. Why is this? Does it need to be? Can it be challenged, changed, transcended? (Trans-gendered, haha?)  Erk, sawwy. Back to theeewiusss:

There are so many examples where people have released these chains and accepted open possibilities, that evidence associates such freedom and acceptance with a healthier, more honest, and more harmonious society.

It still seems self-evident that without the means to communicate concepts, culture is constrained, and our potential to evolve our consciousness is curtailed, and may wither, atrophy, and die on the many fruited vine. Whoever or whatever takes our means to speak, does so to subject and even enslave us. What took our freedom of thought, our freedom to be?

For we yearn to be. Just as nature, requires nurture. 😉

Next stop on the linguistic sub-series: how to write about yourself and your experience without saying “I”.

Bees v. SUVs!!!

June 12, 2015

[About seven hours and seventy-seven minutes ago I realized it’d been about seven years and seven days since I posted this wacky article, the debut of the “Meggs Report” concept. Republished here now.]

Bees swarmed an SUV in front of Boalt Hall School of Law on Sunday, June 3, 2007 in hopes of mobilizing immediate action by the human species. (Video, linked from youtube to save bandwidth here, is 6:26 in length.)

BEES DEMAND ACTION
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCkbhmGlzk0
(Berkeley, CA) Calling for an end to “mean ag” and car culture, and seeking that the human species join a growing planetary alliance for the protection of mother earth, bees swarmed an SUV parked in front of Boalt Hall in hopes of securing legal and policy help for their cause.The bees, singing love songs for planetary harmony, announced a new era: “No More Mrs. Nice Bee.”

Bees are refusing to pollinate crops until their demands are met. The recent disappearance of bees, they sang, is in protest of increasingly harsh conditions imposed upon them by corporate agriculture, and a growing concern that a wave of mass extinction will only accelerate in the near future without an immediate and drastic change in course. The bees put the blame squarely on the heads of humans, who they say have exhibited astoundingly poor planetary citizenship for over 2,000 years.

“We got the idea from the Rand corporation report on swarming, which focused on Critical Mass bicycle rides as a military tactic,” said a cluster of buzzybooz. “We felt that if bicyclists are willing to brave offering an alternative in the face of, that we certainly can.” The bee troop noted that groups of bicyclists are gathering to protest in opposition to the G8 this coming Friday in towns around the world.

“Immobilizing this SUV may seem insignificant,” they admitted, “but it is a small taste of what is to come,” referring to the overall bee strategy for compliance from Homo sapiens.

“Next we will target gas station pumps and even refineries and oil tankers,” stated a spokesbee. The bees hope to leverage their potential impact by targeting particularly sensitive weak links in the petroleum-dependent “System of Destruction.”

North American bee colonies have converged for the first annual “Sting the System Honeyfest” Apiary Action Camp, which kicked off with a tribute to Tom Robbins’ Jitterbug Perfume, a novel in which bees hold the City of New Orleans captive in an allegorically similar, timeless drama of survival. “That guy understands us,” said the Queen Bee, who hopes that more humans will obtain consciousness.

“Well, that’ll keep me away from a car,” admitted one passing American consumer.

“Good plan,” said another passerby.

The Bush administration is expected to respond by issuing a code red terrorist alert, with the president vowing to see through new tax cuts for pesticides, sting-proof suits, and total eradication of the entire superfamily, Apoidea.

“I din’ like bugs to begin with,” he said.

Local sustainability advocates decried the Federal approach, saying it would lead to endless famine and suffering. “Like Einstein said: Without bees, we are lost. It’s time to face the music and own up to our responsibility to earth,” said Professor Buzz.

“They really are sweethearts. Just be nice to them. Seems like a reasonable request. Creatures treat you as you treat them,” said Dotty Tomorrow, 6, of Berkeley, who hopes to be able to live on planet earth in the future.


For more information about modern carfree cities, visit http://www.worldcarfree.net/ and http://www.carfree.com/.For more information about bees, take a moment to appreciate flowers and the foods which fruit of them.

Caution: this story contains satire and artistic license. The video has been edited. The bees really are pissed, though.

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by Jason Meggs Monday Jun 4th, 2007 3:46 PM

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by Jason Meggs Monday Jun 4th, 2007 3:46 PM
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