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103 Bits of Advice I Wish I Had Known

Kevin Kelly wrote . . . . . . . . .

Today is my birthday. I turn 70. I’ve learned a few things so far that might be helpful to others. For the past few years, I’ve jotted down bits of unsolicited advice each year and much to my surprise I have more to add this year. So here is my birthday gift to you all: 103 bits of wisdom I wish I had known when I was young.

  • About 99% of the time, the right time is right now.
  • No one is as impressed with your possessions as you are.
  • Don’t ever work for someone you don’t want to become.
  • Cultivate 12 people who love you, because they are worth more than 12 million people who like you.
  • Don’t keep making the same mistakes; try to make new mistakes.
  • If you stop to listen to a musician or street performer for more than a minute, you owe them a dollar.
  • Anything you say before the word “but” does not count.
  • When you forgive others, they may not notice, but you will heal. Forgiveness is not something we do for others; it is a gift to ourselves.
  • Courtesy costs nothing. Lower the toilet seat after use. Let the people in the elevator exit before you enter. Return shopping carts to their designated areas. When you borrow something, return it better shape (filled up, cleaned) than when you got it.
  • Whenever there is an argument between two sides, find the third side.
  • Efficiency is highly overrated; Goofing off is highly underrated. Regularly scheduled sabbaths, sabbaticals, vacations, breaks, aimless walks and time off are essential for top performance of any kind. The best work ethic requires a good rest ethic.
  • When you lead, your real job is to create more leaders, not more followers.
  • Criticize in private, praise in public.
  • Life lessons will be presented to you in the order they are needed. Everything you need to master the lesson is within you. Once you have truly learned a lesson, you will be presented with the next one. If you are alive, that means you still have lessons to learn.
  • It is the duty of a student to get everything out of a teacher, and the duty of a teacher to get everything out of a student.
  • If winning becomes too important in a game, change the rules to make it more fun. Changing rules can become the new game.
  • Ask funders for money, and they’ll give you advice; but ask for advice and they’ll give you money.
  • Productivity is often a distraction. Don’t aim for better ways to get through your tasks as quickly as possible, rather aim for better tasks that you never want to stop doing.
  • Immediately pay what you owe to vendors, workers, contractors. They will go out of their way to work with you first next time.
  • The biggest lie we tell ourselves is “I don’t need to write this down because I will remember it.”
  • Your growth as a conscious being is measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations you are willing to have.
  • Speak confidently as if you are right, but listen carefully as if you are wrong.
  • Handy measure: the distance between your fingertips of your outstretched arms at shoulder level is your height.
  • The consistency of your endeavors (exercise, companionship, work) is more important than the quantity. Nothing beats small things done every day, which is way more important than what you do occasionally.
  • Making art is not selfish; it’s for the rest of us. If you don’t do your thing, you are cheating us.
  • Never ask a woman if she is pregnant. Let her tell you if she is.
  • Three things you need: The ability to not give up something till it works, the ability to give up something that does not work, and the trust in other people to help you distinguish between the two.
  • When public speaking, pause frequently. Pause before you say something in a new way, pause after you have said something you believe is important, and pause as a relief to let listeners absorb details.
  • There is no such thing as being “on time.” You are either late or you are early. Your choice.
  • Ask anyone you admire: Their lucky breaks happened on a detour from their main goal. So embrace detours. Life is not a straight line for anyone.
  • The best way to get a correct answer on the internet is to post an obviously wrong answer and wait for someone to correct you.
  • You’ll get 10x better results by elevating good behavior rather than punishing bad behavior, especially in children and animals.
  • Spend as much time crafting the subject line of an email as the message itself because the subject line is often the only thing people read.
  • Don’t wait for the storm to pass; dance in the rain.
  • When checking references for a job applicant, employers may be reluctant or prohibited from saying anything negative, so leave or send a message that says, “Get back to me if you highly recommend this applicant as super great.” If they don’t reply take that as a negative.
  • Use a password manager: Safer, easier, better.
  • Half the skill of being educated is learning what you can ignore.
  • The advantage of a ridiculously ambitious goal is that it sets the bar very high so even in failure it may be a success measured by the ordinary.
  • A great way to understand yourself is to seriously reflect on everything you find irritating in others.
  • Keep all your things visible in a hotel room, not in drawers, and all gathered into one spot. That way you’ll never leave anything behind. If you need to have something like a charger off to the side, place a couple of other large items next to it, because you are less likely to leave 3 items behind than just one.
  • Denying or deflecting a compliment is rude. Accept it with thanks, even if you believe it is not deserved.
  • Always read the plaque next to the monument.
  • When you have some success, the feeling of being an imposter can be real. Who am I fooling? But when you create things that only you — with your unique talents and experience — can do, then you are absolutely not an imposter. You are the ordained. It is your duty to work on things that only you can do.
  • What you do on your bad days matters more than what you do on your good days.
  • Make stuff that is good for people to have.
  • When you open paint, even a tiny bit, it will always find its way to your clothes no matter how careful you are. Dress accordingly.
  • To keep young kids behaving on a car road trip, have a bag of their favorite candy and throw a piece out the window each time they misbehave.
  • You cannot get smart people to work extremely hard just for money.
  • When you don’t know how much to pay someone for a particular task, ask them “what would be fair” and their answer usually is.
  • 90% of everything is crap. If you think you don’t like opera, romance novels, TikTok, country music, vegan food, NFTs, keep trying to see if you can find the 10% that is not crap.
  • You will be judged on how well you treat those who can do nothing for you.
  • We tend to overestimate what we can do in a day, and underestimate what we can achieve in a decade. Miraculous things can be accomplished if you give it ten years. A long game will compound small gains to overcome even big mistakes.
  • Thank a teacher who changed your life.
  • You cant reason someone out of a notion that they didn’t reason themselves into.
  • Your best job will be one that you were unqualified for because it stretches you. In fact only apply to jobs you are unqualified for.
  • Buy used books. They have the same words as the new ones. Also libraries.
  • You can be whatever you want, so be the person who ends meetings early.
  • A wise man said, “Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates. At the first gate, ask yourself, “Is it true?” At the second gate ask, “Is it necessary?” At the third gate ask, “Is it kind?”
  • Take the stairs.
  • What you actually pay for something is at least twice the listed price because of the energy, time, money needed to set it up, learn, maintain, repair, and dispose of at the end. Not all prices appear on labels. Actual costs are 2x listed prices.
  • When you arrive at your room in a hotel, locate the emergency exits. It only takes a minute.
  • The only productive way to answer “what should I do now?” is to first tackle the question of “who should I become?”
  • Average returns sustained over an above-average period of time yield extraordinary results. Buy and hold.
  • It’s thrilling to be extremely polite to rude strangers.
  • It’s possible that a not-so smart person, who can communicate well, can do much better than a super smart person who can’t communicate well. That is good news because it is much easier to improve your communication skills than your intelligence.
  • Getting cheated occasionally is the small price for trusting the best of everyone, because when you trust the best in others, they generally treat you best.
  • Art is whatever you can get away with.
  • For the best results with your children, spend only half the money you think you should, but double the time with them.
  • Purchase the most recent tourist guidebook to your home town or region. You’ll learn a lot by playing the tourist once a year.
  • Don’t wait in line to eat something famous. It is rarely worth the wait.
  • To rapidly reveal the true character of a person you just met, move them onto an abysmally slow internet connection. Observe.
  • Prescription for popular success: do something strange. Make a habit of your weird.
  • Be a pro. Back up your back up. Have at least one physical backup and one backup in the cloud. Have more than one of each. How much would you pay to retrieve all your data, photos, notes, if you lost them? Backups are cheap compared to regrets.
  • Don’t believe everything you think you believe.
  • To signal an emergency, use the rule of three; 3 shouts, 3 horn blasts, or 3 whistles.
  • At a restaurant do you order what you know is great, or do you try something new? Do you make what you know will sell or try something new? Do you keep dating new folks or try to commit to someone you already met? The optimal balance for exploring new things vs exploiting them once found is: 1/3. Spend 1/3 of your time on exploring and 2/3 time on deepening. It is harder to devote time to exploring as you age because it seems unproductive, but aim for 1/3.
  • Actual great opportunities do not have “Great Opportunities” in the subject line.
  • When introduced to someone make eye contact and count to 4. You’ll both remember each other.
  • Take note if you find yourself wondering “Where is my good knife? Or, where is my good pen?” That means you have bad ones. Get rid of those.
  • When you are stuck, explain your problem to others. Often simply laying out a problem will present a solution. Make “explaining the problem” part of your troubleshooting process.
  • When buying a garden hose, an extension cord, or a ladder, get one substantially longer than you think you need. It’ll be the right size.
  • Don’t bother fighting the old; just build the new.
  • Your group can achieve great things way beyond your means simply by showing people that they are appreciated.
  • When someone tells you about the peak year of human history, the period of time when things were good before things went downhill, it will always be the years of when they were 10 years old — which is the peak of any human’s existence.
  • You are as big as the things that make you angry.
  • When speaking to an audience it’s better to fix your gaze on a few people than to “spray” your gaze across the room. Your eyes telegraph to others whether you really believe what you are saying.
  • Habit is far more dependable than inspiration. Make progress by making habits. Don’t focus on getting into shape. Focus on becoming the kind of person who never misses a workout.
  • When negotiating, don’t aim for a bigger piece of the pie; aim to create a bigger pie.
  • If you repeated what you did today 365 more times will you be where you want to be next year?
  • You see only 2% of another person, and they see only 2% of you. Attune yourselves to the hidden 98%.
  • Your time and space are limited. Remove, give away, throw out things in your life that don’t spark joy any longer in order to make room for those that do.
  • Our descendants will achieve things that will amaze us, yet a portion of what they will create could have been made with today’s materials and tools if we had had the imagination. Think bigger.
  • For a great payoff be especially curious about the things you are not interested in.
  • Focus on directions rather than destinations. Who knows their destiny? But maintain the right direction and you’ll arrive at where you want to go.
  • Every breakthrough is at first laughable and ridiculous. In fact if it did not start out laughable and ridiculous, it is not a breakthrough.
  • If you loan someone $20 and you never see them again because they are avoiding paying you back, that makes it worth $20.
  • Copying others is a good way to start. Copying yourself is a disappointing way to end.
  • The best time to negotiate your salary for a new job is the moment AFTER they say they want you, and not before. Then it becomes a game of chicken for each side to name an amount first, but it is to your advantage to get them to give a number before you do.
  • Rather than steering your life to avoid surprises, aim directly for them.
  • Don’t purchase extra insurance if you are renting a car with a credit card.
  • If your opinions on one subject can be predicted from your opinions on another, you may be in the grip of an ideology. When you truly think for yourself your conclusions will not be predictable.
  • Aim to die broke. Give to your beneficiaries before you die; it’s more fun and useful. Spend it all. Your last check should go to the funeral home and it should bounce.
  • The chief prevention against getting old is to remain astonished.


Source : The Technium

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Seven Varieties of Stupidity

Ian Leslie wrote . . . . . . . . .

“There are so many kinds of stupidity, and cleverness is one of the worst.”
Thomas Mann.

Many words have been expended on the nature of intelligence, while the topic of stupidity is comparatively neglected – even though it is all around us, screwing us up. That’s probably because we assume stupidity is just a lack of intelligence. I think there’s more to it than that. It comes in many different forms; what follows is by no means comprehensive.

1. Pure stupidity

Let’s start with the most obvious type of stupidity: shit-for-brains (excuse the scientific jargon). The common sense definition of a stupid person is someone deficient in cognitive ability, specifically the ability to think and reason clearly. A stupid person has a low IQ. They flunk verbal reasoning tests and Raven’s matrices because they find it hard to spot patterns in data, manipulate language, or follow chains of logic. (I’m bracketing the question of whether analytical reasoning is intelligence – if it is, then according to the Flynn effect our ancestors were all morons – but the lack of it is what most people mean by stupidity). Presented with anything complex, the stupid person sees only meaningless chaos. Introduce a stupid person to a game and they will fail to understand the rules, even after they have been explained clearly and repeatedly, because they cannot learn, or can learn only slowly. Intelligence is inseparable from learning, something that it took AI scientists a long time to figure out; they spent years trying to design an intelligent machine until they realised it’s better to build a dumb machine that learns fast.1 What are the causes of this kind of stupidity? Genetics? The person may have inherited bad mental hardware. Environment? Maybe they grew up in a culture that never required them to learn or think. Or maybe they were poisoned: a recent study found that lead has been responsible for the loss of almost a billion IQ points in post-war America. Whatever its cause, stupidity in this sense means the inability to identify patterns, follow logic, or learn from experience. A stupid person is a novice at everything all the time.

2. Ignorant stupidity

Ignorance is also a common sense definition of stupidity: stupid people are people who don’t know shit about shit (another scientific definition). Now, ignorance is by no means always a sign of stupidity; any intellectual exploration, including science, depends on being aware of what one doesn’t know. But it’s also true that people who can’t draw on a bank of experience, technique or knowledge will find it very hard to cope with new problems and tricky questions. How do they get that way? Perhaps they have faulty hardware, as per #1, and so have been unable to acquire and retain information, or it might be that they haven’t been given the chance to do so: maybe they didn’t get much of an education, either from their parents or from school, and so lack the basic tools and frameworks needed to make sense of the world – verbal and mathematical skill, a knowledge of basic geography or political systems and so on. The education scholar E.D. Hirsch has observed that the ability to read a newspaper and have even the vaguest idea of what all the articles are about requires a level of general knowledge most of us take for granted. Background knowledge in any domain is like water for fish: we’re barely aware we have it but it’s what enables us to absorb new information. The less you know, the harder it is to learn; the less you can learn, the less you know – the stupider you get. This is the ignorance loop, and people with perfectly good hardware can get stuck in it.2

3. Fish-out-of-water stupidity

So far we’ve discussed common sense definitions of stupidity. It tends to be described as a lack of something – either cognitive horsepower (‘intelligence’), or knowledge, or thinking. This seems inadequate. Defining it only as an absence of brainpower fails to account for what I’m calling fish-out-of-water stupidity. People with powerful brains who have acquired a great deal of knowledge in one domain, and who are therefore regarded as exceptionally smart, tend to assume they will have exceptionally smart thoughts in every field of knowledge they wander into. They take their own accumulated knowledge for granted and believe that the facility it gives them in their field is merely a function of their all-round brilliance.

Now, to some extent, these experts are probably right to assume that because they’re smart at this thing they’ll be smart at other things too – there is such a phenomenon as general intelligence. But they can wildly over-rate how intelligent they are in new domains and end up making terrible decisions. Twitter has been great for revealing how scientists or historians can be stupid once outside of their academic field. Often, experts don’t even notice that they have moved into a foreign domain: the bankers who screwed up in the 2008 crash thought they were in the domain of risk when in reality they were in the domain of uncertainty. Regulators who were flat-footed during during the pandemic (more of a problem for the US than the UK) failed to clock that they were now in the domain of crisis management.

4. Rule-based stupidity

We often talk about stupidity as if it is an individual trait – something a person is or isn’t. It is commonplace to talk about smart people and stupid people, even among intellectuals: one of the few scholars to have taken stupidity seriously, at least somewhat, was the Italian economist Carlo Cipolla, who wrote an essay in 1976 called The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity which you can buy as a book. As you can see from this summary of it, Cipolla starts from the premise that the world divides into stupid and non-stupid people and builds his “laws” on top of it (‘Always and inevitably, everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation’). The essay is wittily written but I suspect the reason it’s still being read is that it is comforting. It is nice to imagine that a person is either clever or stupid – and that since I realise that, I must be one of the clever ones. It is more unsettling to think of stupidity as something that anyone, even you, can be captured by.

Stupidity can be systemic. The Santa Fe Institute complexity theorist David Krakauer observes that the Romans, as intelligent as they were in many ways, made no advances in mathematics. He puts this down to a numeral system that made it virtually impossible to do complex sums. Arabic numbers, imported to Europe in the Middle Ages (not as dumb as their reputation), are easier to manipulate. The new system made our civilisation collectively smarter, or at least less dumb. The tool or platform we’re using can keep us stupid, even when we’re smart. In fact, Krakauer’s view is that stupidity isn’t the absence of intelligence or knowledge; it’s the persistent application of faulty algorithms (itself an Arabic concept, of course). Let’s say someone hands you a Rubik’s Cube.

Consider three possibilities. You might know an algorithm or set of algorithms which enables you to solve it quickly, and look very smart (actually Krakauer would say that is a kind of smartness). Or you might have learnt the wrong algorithms – algorithms which ensure that no matter how many times you try, you’ll never solve the puzzle. Or you might be completely ignorant and just go at it randomly. Krakauer’s point is that the ignorant cuber at least stands a chance of solving it accidentally (theoretically speaking – don’t try this at home) whereas the faulty-algorithm cuber never will. Ignorance is insufficient data to solve a problem efficiently; stupidity is using a rule where adding more data doesn’t improve your chances of getting it right – in fact, it makes it more likely you’ll get it wrong.

Look around and you can see people trapped in flawed algorithms (if there is war, then it must be America’s fault’; ‘if there is a market crash then a recovery is just around the corner’) Rules of thinking inflexibly applied lead to stupid conclusions. You find a lot of stupidity among people who are highly partisan on behalf of a political party or ideology. Those people tend to be cognitively inflexible, regardless of which side they’re on. They are drawn to clear stories or chains of reasoning. The politicians or activists who capture them are skilled at building and disseminating these algorithmic structures of thought.

Very often, stupidity isn’t derived from an absence of mental materials but from a superfluity of them. It is the product of all the stuff we carry around in our minds and absorb from others: powerful algorithms, bad theories, fake facts, seductive stories, leaky metaphors, misplaced intuitions. The stuff that feels like solid knowledge even though it isn’t. As the old saying goes, it’s not what you don’t know that will get you into trouble but what you do know that isn’t so.

5. Overthinking-stupidity

When the psychologist Philip Tetlock was a graduate student he witnessed an experiment, designed by his mentor Bob Rescorla, which pitted a group of Yale undergrads against a rat. The students were shown a T-maze, like the one below. Food would appear at either A or B. The students’ job was to predict where the food would appear next. The rat was set the same task.

Rescorla applied a simple rule: food appeared on the left 60% of the time and on the right, 40%, at random. The students, assuming that some complex algorithm must be at work, looked for patterns and found them. They ended up getting it right 52% of the time – not much better than chance and considerably worse than the rat, which quickly figured out that one side yielded better results than the other and so headed to the left every time, achieving a 60% success rate.

Smart people, or at least people who have come to believe they are smart, dislike strategies that incorporate the inevitability of error. Confronted with what looks like randomness, they won’t throw up their hands and go with the flow. They wish to impose themselves on the world. That kind of intellectual ambition can lead to insight and innovation but it can also lead to stupidity, when errors are energetically and skilfully defended.

Once a clever person has adopted a mistaken belief it is very hard to talk them out of it: ‘cognitively sophisticated’ people are if anything more susceptible to flawed thinking than average, because they are so skilled at bending reality to fit the model of it they have constructed. I suspect this tendency is associated with high verbal fluency, a quality I used to admire unreservedly but now view with suspicion. People with the ability to speak brilliantly off-the-cuff are also likely to be very good at finding instant and persuasive justifications for whatever it suits them to believe at any point. The right words just magically appear, perfectly turned, glistening like truth.

You can observe another manifestation of overthinking every time you use a product or app that is so crammed with ingenious features it’s impossible to use, or watch a movie that has everything going on except a coherent story. Clever people have a tendency to add features to a product or movie or argument rather than subtract them, which can produce stupid outcomes.

I am particularly wary of cleverness when applied to social and political questions, which can’t be solved with maths. In this I’ve been influenced by some clever thinkers. You can trace a fundamental divide in Western thought between those who believe that knowledge and rationality invariably make us smarter and those who warn they can also make us dumber. On one side, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Voltaire, Paine, Russell; on the other, Socrates, Montaigne, Burke, Nietzsche, Freud, Wittgenstein. The latter group includes thinkers who are, in their different ways are interested in the ways that human intelligence generates a unique kind of stupidity. These are my guys.

6. Emergent stupidity

Quite often in organisations that do stupid things, it’s hard to pin the stupid decisions on any one person even in retrospect, and there may be no stupid individuals involved. Sometimes, as with Enron, the people are very smart. Stupidity can emerge in the same way that intelligence emerges in a flock of geese, or an ant colony, or the cells and synapses of the human brain. When a group of individuals are following a few simple rules in co-operation with each other, then collective behaviour which is much smarter – or much stupider – than the sum of its parts may emerge. In any organisation, leaders should reflect on the simple rules that people follow even when they’re not thinking, and ask if they’re more likely to generate intelligence or stupidity.

There is no innate human drive to avoid stupidity. We evolved to survive and thrive and that means getting along with others – that’s our priority, most of the time. The good news is that getting smarter and getting along are not necessarily at odds with one another; the bad news is that they often are. In my book CONFLICTED I show how avoiding open disagreement reduces the collective intelligence of any group. The more that members of a group follow a rule like ‘agree with the consensus’ or ‘agree with the leader’ the less gets contributed to the general pool of ideas and arguments. The shallower the pool, the more likely it is that something stupid will crawl out from it, covered in slime.

7. Ego-driven stupidity

We’ve talked about stupidity mainly as a cognitive phenomenon but of course it’s deeply bound up with emotion, and with the sense of self. We could probably name seven varieties under this heading alone but the basic principle is that the more insecure a person feels, the more willingly they will make themselves stupid. Psychologists call it ‘identity-protective cognition’. We might call it the ‘I’m with these guys’ effect.

There is a well-established correlation between the propensity to fall for conspiracy theories and feelings of anxiety, specifically the feeling of not being in control. You could see this in action after 2016 when the online left in the UK and US started feeding hungrily on conspiracy theories about Brexit and Trump. Lots of clever people felt helpless and scared and displaced and made themselves stupid in response.

Political extremists and conspiracy theorists crave the safety of clarity. It’s not just the ideology or conspiracy theory to which people are drawn, but the community that forms around it. The ideology or theory is like a park or stadium – it is social infrastructure. You like being there, and your beliefs are the wristband. If you’re worried about being thrown out you’ll do everything you can to show how loyal you are to these beliefs, and how little you care about the opinions of outsiders. Even if it means repeating and believing stupid things.

I wrote positively about Twitter last time so I think I’ve earned the right to say that it’s also a space where the forces of stupidity converge and dance. You have experts who feel compelled to pronounce on matters outside their expertise. You have insecurity and status anxiety: everyone jostling for followers, likes and retweets. You have people doing their thinking in public, in the gaze of peers and enemies. You have ideological communities and sub-cultures who are also up in each other’s faces all the time, in-groups gaining energy from out-groups. The result is that some quite stunningly stupid threads go viral and get celebrated by lots of smart people (you’ll have your own examples – this one is a doozy). But it’s also an interesting laboratory in which you can observe the process of someone struggling to manage and reconcile affiliations with different groups. People can have more than one identity to protect – a scientist may want to maintain a ‘good scientist’ identity with peers and a ‘good liberal’ identity with the public. It’s revealing to see which one they go with when a conflict between these identities arises. More often than not they choose unscientific stupidity (a recent example of this below the fold).

The truth is that stupidity is often an act of will: people make themselves stupid, when it suits them. That humans are able to do this at all is, in its way, quite impressive. The English psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion fought in the First World War, and his ideas were shaped in part by that experience. Bion was fascinated by the way that people shut down their capacity for thinking and reasoning when they go into battle, figuratively as well as literally. His theory of how people learn was unusual in that he incorporated the fact that we don’t always want to know. People don’t just miss out on knowledge; they unconsciously resist or reject it. They seek minus knowledge, which Bion called -K. Failing to learn from experience stems from fear of thinking about what we don’t know, and sticking to the reassuring heuristics and habits at hand. Learning from experience, according to Bion, requires the hard, uncomfortable work of thinking about our own emotions. Put it that way and you can see why many of us so often choose stupidity.


Source : The Ruffian

Infographic: A Comparison of NATO and Russia’s Military Strength

See large image . . . . . .

Source : Twitter

Charts: Omicron Variants Spread Rapidly in South Africa

COVID cases exploded last week

No Omicron variant in the last 2 weeks on Nov 1, 2021

25% cases are caused by Omicron variant in the last 2 weeks of Nov 15, 2021

88% Omicron cases on Nov 29, 2021

Source : Our World in Data



See large image . . . . . .

Updated on December 5, 2021

Pulmonary Embolism Is Common and Can be Deadly, but Few Know the Signs

Michael Merschel wrote . . . . . . . . .

U.S. Public radio fans knew NPR books editor Petra Mayer as an exuberant lover of science fiction, romance novels, comic books and cats. “If it’s fun and nerdy, I’m all about it,” she declared.

Friends and family now are mourning the loss of the witty, bubbly 46-year-old. She died earlier this month of what her parents said was a pulmonary embolism. Few details were released about the circumstances of her sudden death. But experts said it highlights the need for greater understanding of pulmonary embolism, also known as PE.

“Unfortunately, PE can strike people at all stages of life, from the young and healthy to the older and not as healthy,” said Dr. Karlyn Martin, an assistant professor of medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

Pulmonary embolism is the third-leading cause of cardiovascular death. But, Martin said, people are much less aware of its symptoms.

“I think if someone had chest pain, they immediately think, ‘Heart attack!’ and go to the hospital. But they don’t similarly think, ‘Oh, I could have a pulmonary embolism! I should go to the hospital right away.’ So, it’s not infrequently that we have patients who had symptoms for days to weeks even before going to the hospital to find out what’s wrong.”

According to American Heart Association statistics, pulmonary embolism was a factor in more than 36,000 deaths in 2018, the most recent year for which data is available. The rate has been climbing, for reasons that Martin, who led a 2020 study on the trend, said are not clear.

Pulmonary embolism is usually described as a blood clot that travels to the lungs. Blood clots in arteries, which carry blood from the heart, can cause heart attacks and strokes. But clots in veins are called deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. Those clots, often originating in the leg, can travel, or embolize, to the lungs.

When those clots stop in the lungs, pressure builds up in the right side of the heart, Martin said. “Eventually, the heart can fail, because it’s strained so much.”

Even large blood clots might not produce symptoms, said Gary Raskob, a board member of the National Blood Clot Alliance. He’s also dean of the Hudson College of Public Health at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City.

And about a quarter of the time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the first symptom of pulmonary embolism is death.

Risk factors for deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism overlap and include having a major surgery and being in the hospital with acute illness for several days in a row, Martin said. For women, both estrogen-based contraception, such as birth control pills, and pregnancy can raise the risk of blood clots. According to AHA statistics, pulmonary embolism is responsible for about 9% of pregnancy-associated deaths.

Cancer and its treatments also are a significant cause of blood clots, Martin said. So is long-distance travel.

Age also is a risk factor, Raskob said, with more cases happening as people reach their 40s, 50s and 60s.

But it’s also affecting younger people more frequently. Martin’s 2020 study showed that after a decade of declines, the number of pulmonary embolism deaths among people 25 to 64 years old increased an average of 2.1% each year from 2008-2018.

There is a strong genetic component, Raskob said, so anyone with a family member – “particularly if you have a first-degree relative, parent or sibling, or grandparent” – who had a pulmonary embolism might be at heightened risk. If you’re admitted to a hospital, he suggests asking the doctor whether you might be at risk – and, if so, what protective measures will be taken.

But somewhere between a third and half of blood-clot incidents are what scientists call “unprovoked.” “In other words, they have no identifiable risk factors for the condition,” Raskob said.

Given the many unknowns, he said, being aware of symptoms is critical.

In the legs, symptoms of a clot would include pain, swelling, redness or warmth, especially if one leg is suddenly more swollen than the other.

If a clot has moved to the lungs, it can cause chest pain or shortness of breath. Less commonly, people have a sensation of their heart racing, Martin said, or they might cough up a little bit of pink- or blood-tinged sputum. Every once in a while, people can have pain in the upper part of their back.

Raskob said anyone with symptoms should seek medical attention right away. “We can look with an ultrasound. We have a simple blood test. So you don’t have to risk a potentially fatal condition.”

To prevent problems, keep your body moving on long car and plane trips, Martin said. “Sitting in the same place in the same position for eight to 10 hours in a row really can increase chances of having a blood clot.”

Sudden, unexpected death from pulmonary embolism, as apparently happened with NPR’s Mayer, is not common, Martin said. But she urged people to “seek out attention if you have the symptoms. And most of the time, if we make a diagnosis quickly, we can get started with appropriate treatment. And most people do recover.”


Source: American Heart Association

Video: Xpeng HT Aero – Street-Legal Helicopter

The flying car is to be launched in 2024.

Watch video at You Tube (3:37 minutes) . . . .


Read also at CNBC

Chinese EV maker Xpeng touts flying car that can also operate on roads . . . . .

Chart: Years of Work Needed to Buy an Apartment

Source : Statista

Long Read: COVID19 PCR Tests Are Scientifically Meaningless

Torsten Engelbrecht and Konstantin Demeter wrote . . . . . . . . .

Lockdowns and hygienic measures around the world are based on numbers of cases and mortality rates created by the so-called SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR tests used to identify “positive” patients, whereby “positive” is usually equated with “infected.”

But looking closely at the facts, the conclusion is that these PCR tests are meaningless as a diagnostic tool to determine an alleged infection by a supposedly new virus called SARS-CoV-2.

UNFOUNDED “TEST, TEST, TEST,…” MANTRA

At the media briefing on COVID-19 on March 16, 2020, the WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said:

We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test.”

The message was spread through headlines around the world, for instance by Reuters and the BBC.

Still on the 3 of May, the moderator of the heute journal — one of the most important news magazines on German television— was passing the mantra of the corona dogma on to his audience with the admonishing words:

Test, test, test—that is the credo at the moment, and it is the only way to really understand how much the coronavirus is spreading.”

This indicates that the belief in the validity of the PCR tests is so strong that it equals a religion that tolerates virtually no contradiction.

But it is well known that religions are about faith and not about scientific facts. And as Walter Lippmann, the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and perhaps the most influential journalist of the 20th century said: “Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.”

So to start, it is very remarkable that Kary Mullis himself, the inventor of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technology, did not think alike. His invention got him the Nobel prize in chemistry in 1993.

Unfortunately, Mullis passed away last year at the age of 74, but there is no doubt that the biochemist regarded the PCR as inappropriate to detect a viral infection.

The reason is that the intended use of the PCR was, and still is, to apply it as a manufacturing technique, being able to replicate DNA sequences millions and billions of times, and not as a diagnostic tool to detect viruses.

How declaring virus pandemics based on PCR tests can end in disaster was described by Gina Kolata in her 2007 New York Times article Faith in Quick Test Leads to Epidemic That Wasn’t.

LACK OF A VALID GOLD STANDARD

Moreover, it is worth mentioning that the PCR tests used to identify so-called COVID-19 patients presumably infected by what is called SARS-CoV-2 do not have a valid gold standard to compare them with.

This is a fundamental point. Tests need to be evaluated to determine their preciseness — strictly speaking their “sensitivity”[1] and “specificity” — by comparison with a “gold standard,” meaning the most accurate method available.

As an example, for a pregnancy test the gold standard would be the pregnancy itself. But as Australian infectious diseases specialist Sanjaya Senanayake, for example, stated in an ABC TV interview in an answer to the question “How accurate is the [COVID-19] testing?”:

If we had a new test for picking up [the bacterium] golden staph in blood, we’ve already got blood cultures, that’s our gold standard we’ve been using for decades, and we could match this new test against that. But for COVID-19 we don’t have a gold standard test.”

Jessica C. Watson from Bristol University confirms this. In her paper “Interpreting a COVID-19 test result”, published recently in The British Medical Journal, she writes that there is a “lack of such a clear-cut ‘gold-standard’ for COVID-19 testing.”

But instead of classifying the tests as unsuitable for SARS-CoV-2 detection and COVID-19 diagnosis, or instead of pointing out that only a virus, proven through isolation and purification, can be a solid gold standard, Watson claims in all seriousness that, “pragmatically” COVID-19 diagnosis itself, remarkably including PCR testing itself, “may be the best available ‘gold standard’.” But this is not scientifically sound.

Apart from the fact that it is downright absurd to take the PCR test itself as part of the gold standard to evaluate the PCR test, there are no distinctive specific symptoms for COVID-19, as even people such as Thomas Löscher, former head of the Department of Infection and Tropical Medicine at the University of Munich and member of the Federal Association of German Internists, conceded to us.

And if there are no distinctive specific symptoms for COVID-19, COVID-19 diagnosis — contrary to Watson’s statement — cannot be suitable for serving as a valid gold standard.

In addition, “experts” such as Watson overlook the fact that only virus isolation, i.e. an unequivocal virus proof, can be the gold standard.

That is why I asked Watson how COVID-19 diagnosis “may be the best available gold standard,” if there are no distinctive specific symptoms for COVID-19, and also whether the virus itself, that is virus isolation, wouldn’t be the best available/possible gold standard. But she hasn’t answered these questions yet – despite multiple requests. And she has not yet responded to our rapid response post on her article in which we address exactly the same points, either, though she wrote us on June 2nd: “I will try to post a reply later this week when I have a chance.”

NO PROOF FOR THE RNA BEING OF VIRAL ORIGIN

Now the question is: What is required first for virus isolation/proof? We need to know where the RNA for which the PCR tests are calibrated comes from.

As textbooks (e.g., White/Fenner. Medical Virology, 1986, p. 9) as well as leading virus researchers such as Luc Montagnier or Dominic Dwyer state, particle purification — i.e. the separation of an object from everything else that is not that object, as for instance Nobel laureate Marie Curie purified 100 mg of radium chloride in 1898 by extracting it from tons of pitchblende — is an essential pre-requisite for proving the existence of a virus, and thus to prove that the RNA from the particle in question comes from a new virus.

The reason for this is that PCR is extremely sensitive, which means it can detect even the smallest pieces of DNA or RNA — but it cannot determine where these particles came from. That has to be determined beforehand.

And because the PCR tests are calibrated for gene sequences (in this case RNA sequences because SARS-CoV-2 is believed to be a RNA virus), we have to know that these gene snippets are part of the looked-for virus. And to know that, correct isolation and purification of the presumed virus has to be executed.

Hence, we have asked the science teams of the relevant papers which are referred to in the context of SARS-CoV-2 for proof whether the electron-microscopic shots depicted in their in vitro experiments show purified viruses.

But not a single team could answer that question with “yes” — and NB., nobody said purification was not a necessary step. We only got answers like “No, we did not obtain an electron micrograph showing the degree of purification” (see below).

We asked several study authors “Do your electron micrographs show the purified virus?”, they gave the following responses:

Study 1: Leo L. M. Poon; Malik Peiris. “Emergence of a novel human coronavirus threatening human health” Nature Medicine, March 2020
Replying Author: Malik Peiris
Date: May 12, 2020
Answer: “The image is the virus budding from an infected cell. It is not purified virus.”

Study 2: Myung-Guk Han et al. “Identification of Coronavirus Isolated from a Patient in Korea with COVID-19”, Osong Public Health and Research Perspectives, February 2020
Replying Author: Myung-Guk Han
Date: May 6, 2020
Answer: “We could not estimate the degree of purification because we do not purify and concentrate the virus cultured in cells.”

Study 3: Wan Beom Park et al. “Virus Isolation from the First Patient with SARS-CoV-2 in Korea”, Journal of Korean Medical Science, February 24, 2020
Replying Author: Wan Beom Park
Date: March 19, 2020
Answer: “We did not obtain an electron micrograph showing the degree of purification.”

Study 4: Na Zhu et al., “A Novel Coronavirus from Patients with Pneumonia in China”, 2019, New England Journal of Medicine, February 20, 2020
Replying Author: Wenjie Tan
Date: March 18, 2020
Answer: “[We show] an image of sedimented virus particles, not purified ones.”

Regarding the mentioned papers it is clear that what is shown in the electron micrographs (EMs) is the end result of the experiment, meaning there is no other result that they could have made EMs from.

That is to say, if the authors of these studies concede that their published EMs do not show purified particles, then they definitely do not possess purified particles claimed to be viral. (In this context, it has to be remarked that some researchers use the term “isolation” in their papers, but the procedures described therein do not represent a proper isolation (purification) process. Consequently, in this context the term “isolation” is misused).

Thus, the authors of four of the principal, early 2020 papers claiming discovery of a new coronavirus concede they had no proof that the origin of the virus genome was viral-like particles or cellular debris, pure or impure, or particles of any kind. In other words, the existence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA is based on faith, not fact.

We have also contacted Dr Charles Calisher, who is a seasoned virologist. In 2001, Science published an “impassioned plea…to the younger generation” from several veteran virologists, among them Calisher, saying that:

[modern virus detection methods like] sleek polymerase chain reaction […] tell little or nothing about how a virus multiplies, which animals carry it, [or] how it makes people sick. [It is] like trying to say whether somebody has bad breath by looking at his fingerprint.”

And that’s why we asked Dr Calisher whether he knows one single paper in which SARS-CoV-2 has been isolated and finally really purified. His answer:

I know of no such a publication. I have kept an eye out for one.”

This actually means that one cannot conclude that the RNA gene sequences, which the scientists took from the tissue samples prepared in the mentioned in vitro trials and for which the PCR tests are finally being “calibrated,” belong to a specific virus — in this case SARS-CoV-2.

In addition, there is no scientific proof that those RNA sequences are the causative agent of what is called COVID-19.

In order to establish a causal connection, one way or the other, i.e. beyond virus isolation and purification, it would have been absolutely necessary to carry out an experiment that satisfies the four Koch’s postulates. But there is no such experiment, as Amory Devereux and Rosemary Frei recently revealed for OffGuardian.

The necessity to fulfill these postulates regarding SARS-CoV-2 is demonstrated not least by the fact that attempts have been made to fulfill them. But even researchers claiming they have done it, in reality, did not succeed.

One example is a study published in Nature on May 7. This trial, besides other procedures which render the study invalid, did not meet any of the postulates.

For instance, the alleged “infected” laboratory mice did not show any relevant clinical symptoms clearly attributable to pneumonia, which according to the third postulate should actually occur if a dangerous and potentially deadly virus was really at work there. And the slight bristles and weight loss, which were observed temporarily in the animals are negligible, not only because they could have been caused by the procedure itself, but also because the weight went back to normal again.

Also, no animal died except those they killed to perform the autopsies. And let’s not forget: These experiments should have been done before developing a test, which is not the case.

Revealingly, none of the leading German representatives of the official theory about SARS-Cov-2/COVID-19 — the Robert Koch-Institute (RKI), Alexander S. Kekulé (University of Halle), Hartmut Hengel and Ralf Bartenschlager (German Society for Virology), the aforementioned Thomas Löscher, Ulrich Dirnagl (Charité Berlin) or Georg Bornkamm (virologist and professor emeritus at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Munich) — could answer the following question I have sent them:

If the particles that are claimed to be to be SARS-CoV-2 have not been purified, how do you want to be sure that the RNA gene sequences of these particles belong to a specific new virus?

Particularly, if there are studies showing that substances such as antibiotics that are added to the test tubes in the in vitro experiments carried out for virus detection can “stress” the cell culture in a way that new gene sequences are being formed that were not previously detectable — an aspect that Nobel laureate Barbara McClintock already drew attention to in her Nobel Lecture back in 1983.

It should not go unmentioned that we finally got the Charité – the employer of Christian Drosten, Germany’s most influential virologist in respect of COVID-19, advisor to the German government and co-developer of the PCR test which was the first to be “accepted” (not validated!) by the WHO worldwide – to answer questions on the topic.

But we didn’t get answers until June 18, 2020, after months of non-response. In the end, we achieved it only with the help of Berlin lawyer Viviane Fischer.

Regarding our question “Has the Charité convinced itself that appropriate particle purification was carried out?,” the Charité concedes that they didn’t use purified particles.

And although they claim “virologists at the Charité are sure that they are testing for the virus,” in their paper (Corman et al.) they state:

RNA was extracted from clinical samples with the MagNA Pure 96 system (Roche, Penzberg, Germany) and from cell culture supernatants with the viral RNA mini kit (QIAGEN, Hilden, Germany),”

Which means they just assumed the RNA was viral.

Incidentally, the Corman et al. paper, published on January 23, 2020 didn’t even go through a proper peer review process, nor were the procedures outlined therein accompanied by controls — although it is only through these two things that scientific work becomes really solid.

IRRATIONAL TEST RESULTS

It is also certain that we cannot know the false positive rate of the PCR tests without widespread testing of people who certainly do not have the virus, proven by a method which is independent of the test (having a solid gold standard).

Therefore, it is hardly surprising that there are several papers illustrating irrational test results.

For example, already in February the health authority in China’s Guangdong province reported that people have fully recovered from illness blamed on COVID-19, started to test “negative,” and then tested “positive” again.

A month later, a paper published in the Journal of Medical Virology showed that 29 out of 610 patients at a hospital in Wuhan had 3 to 6 test results that flipped between “negative”, “positive” and “dubious”.

A third example is a study from Singapore in which tests were carried out almost daily on 18 patients and the majority went from “positive” to “negative” back to “positive” at least once, and up to five times in one patient.

Even Wang Chen, president of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, conceded in February that the PCR tests are “only 30 to 50 per cent accurate”; while Sin Hang Lee from the Milford Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory sent a letter to the WHO’s coronavirus response team and to Anthony S. Fauci on March 22, 2020, saying that:

It has been widely reported in the social media that the RT-qPCR [Reverse Transcriptase quantitative PCR] test kits used to detect SARSCoV-2 RNA in human specimens are generating many false positive results and are not sensitive enough to detect some real positive cases.”

In other words, even if we theoretically assume that these PCR tests can really detect a viral infection, the tests would be practically worthless, and would only cause an unfounded scare among the “positive” people tested.

This becomes also evident considering the positive predictive value (PPV).

The PPV indicates the probability that a person with a positive test result is truly “positive” (ie. has the supposed virus), and it depends on two factors: the prevalence of the virus in the general population and the specificity of the test, that is the percentage of people without disease in whom the test is correctly “negative” (a test with a specificity of 95% incorrectly gives a positive result in 5 out of 100 non-infected people).

With the same specificity, the higher the prevalence, the higher the PPV.

In this context, on June 12 2020, the journal Deutsches Ärzteblatt published an article in which the PPV has been calculated with three different prevalence scenarios.

The results must, of course, be viewed very critically, first because it is not possible to calculate the specificity without a solid gold standard, as outlined, and second because the calculations in the article are based on the specificity determined in the study by Jessica Watson, which is potentially worthless, as also mentioned.

But if you abstract from it, assuming that the underlying specificity of 95% is correct and that we know the prevalence, even the mainstream medical journal Deutsches Ärzteblatt reports that the so-called SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR tests may have “a shockingly low” PPV.

In one of the three scenarios, figuring with an assumed prevalence of 3%, the PPV was only 30 percent, which means that 70 percent of the people tested “positive” are not “positive” at all. Yet “they are prescribed quarantine,” as even the Ärzteblatt notes critically.

In a second scenario of the journal’s article, a prevalence of rate of 20 percent is assumed. In this case they generate a PPV of 78 percent, meaning that 22 percent of the “positive” tests are false “positives.”

That would mean: If we take the around 9 million people who are currently considered “positive” worldwide — supposing that the true “positives” really have a viral infection — we would get almost 2 million false “positives.”

All this fits with the fact that the CDC and the FDA, for instance, concede in their files that the so-called “SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR tests” are not suitable for SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis.

In the “CDC 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel“ file from March 30, 2020, for example, it says:

Detection of viral RNA may not indicate the presence of infectious virus or that 2019-nCoV is the causative agent for clinical symptoms”

And:

This test cannot rule out diseases caused by other bacterial or viral pathogens.”

And the FDA admits that:

positive results […] do not rule out bacterial infection or co-infection with other viruses. The agent detected may not be the definite cause of disease.”

Remarkably, in the instruction manuals of PCR tests we can also read that they are not intended as a diagnostic test, as for instance in those by Altona Diagnostics and Creative Diagnostics[5].

To quote another one, in the product announcement of the LightMix Modular Assays produced by TIB Molbiol — which were developed using the Corman et al. protocol — and distributed by Roche we can read:

These assays are not intended for use as an aid in the diagnosis of coronavirus infection”

And:

For research use only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures.”

WHERE IS THE EVIDENCE THAT THE TESTS CAN MEASURE THE “VIRAL LOAD”?

There is also reason to conclude that the PCR test from Roche and others cannot even detect the targeted genes.

Moreover, in the product descriptions of the RT-qPCR tests for SARS-COV-2 it says they are “qualitative” tests, contrary to the fact that the “q” in “qPCR” stands for “quantitative.” And if these tests are not “quantitative” tests, they don’t show how many viral particles are in the body.

That is crucial because, in order to even begin talking about actual illness in the real world not only in a laboratory, the patient would need to have millions and millions of viral particles actively replicating in their body.

That is to say, the CDC, the WHO, the FDA or the RKI may assert that the tests can measure the so-called “viral load,” i.e. how many viral particles are in the body. “But this has never been proven. That is an enormous scandal,” as the journalist Jon Rappoport points out.

This is not only because the term “viral load” is deception. If you put the question “what is viral load?” at a dinner party, people take it to mean viruses circulating in the bloodstream. They’re surprised to learn it’s actually RNA molecules.

Also, to prove beyond any doubt that the PCR can measure how much a person is “burdened” with a disease-causing virus, the following experiment would have had to be carried out (which has not yet happened):

You take, let’s say, a few hundred or even thousand people and remove tissue samples from them. Make sure the people who take the samples do not perform the test.The testers will never know who the patients are and what condition they’re in. The testers run their PCR on the tissue samples. In each case, they say which virus they found and how much of it they found. Then, for example, in patients 29, 86, 199, 272, and 293 they found a great deal of what they claim is a virus. Now we un-blind those patients. They should all be sick, because they have so much virus replicating in their bodies. But are they really sick — or are they fit as a fiddle?

With the help of the aforementioned lawyer Viviane Fischer, I finally got the Charité to also answer the question of whether the test developed by Corman et al. — the so-called “Drosten PCR test” — is a quantitative test.

But the Charité was not willing to answer this question “yes”. Instead, the Charité wrote:

If real-time RT-PCR is involved, to the knowledge of the Charité in most cases these are […] limited to qualitative detection.”

Furthermore, the “Drosten PCR test” uses the unspecific E-gene assay as preliminary assay, while the Institut Pasteur uses the same assay as confirmatory assay.

According to Corman et al., the E-gene assay is likely to detect all Asian viruses, while the other assays in both tests are supposed to be more specific for sequences labelled “SARS-CoV-2”.

Besides the questionable purpose of having either a preliminary or a confirmatory test that is likely to detect all Asian viruses, at the beginning of April the WHO changed the algorithm, recommending that from then on a test can be regarded as “positive” even if just the E-gene assay (which is likely to detect all Asian viruses!) gives a “positive” result.

This means that a confirmed unspecific test result is officially sold as specific.

That change of algorithm increased the “case” numbers. Tests using the E-gene assay are produced for example by Roche, TIB Molbiol and R-Biopharm.

HIGH CQ VALUES MAKE THE TEST RESULTS EVEN MORE MEANINGLESS

Another essential problem is that many PCR tests have a “cycle quantification” (Cq) value of over 35, and some, including the “Drosten PCR test”, even have a Cq of 45.

The Cq value specifies how many cycles of DNA replication are required to detect a real signal from biological samples.

“Cq values higher than 40 are suspect because of the implied low efficiency and generally should not be reported,” as it says in the MIQE guidelines.

MIQE stands for “Minimum Information for Publication of Quantitative Real-Time PCR Experiments”, a set of guidelines that describe the minimum information necessary for evaluating publications on Real-Time PCR, also called quantitative PCR, or qPCR.

The inventor himself, Kary Mullis, agreed, when he stated:

If you have to go more than 40 cycles to amplify a single-copy gene, there is something seriously wrong with your PCR.”

The MIQE guidelines have been developed under the aegis of Stephen A. Bustin, Professor of Molecular Medicine, a world-renowned expert on quantitative PCR and author of the book A-Z of Quantitative PCR which has been called “the bible of qPCR.”

In a recent podcast interview Bustin points out that “the use of such arbitrary Cq cut-offs is not ideal, because they may be either too low (eliminating valid results) or too high (increasing false “positive” results).”

And, according to him, a Cq in the 20s to 30s should be aimed at and there is concern regarding the reliability of the results for any Cq over 35.

If the Cq value gets too high, it becomes difficult to distinguish real signal from background, for example due to reactions of primers and fluorescent probes, and hence there is a higher probability of false positives.

Moreover, among other factors that can alter the result, before starting with the actual PCR, in case you are looking for presumed RNA viruses such as SARS-CoV-2, the RNA must be converted to complementary DNA (cDNA) with the enzyme Reverse Transcriptase—hence the “RT” at the beginning of “PCR” or “qPCR.”

But this transformation process is “widely recognized as inefficient and variable,” as Jessica Schwaber from the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine in Toronto and two research colleagues pointed out in a 2019 paper.

Stephen A. Bustin acknowledges problems with PCR in a comparable way.

For example, he pointed to the problem that in the course of the conversion process (RNA to cDNA) the amount of DNA obtained with the same RNA base material can vary widely, even by a factor of 10 (see above interview).

Considering that the DNA sequences get doubled at every cycle, even a slight variation becomes magnified and can thus alter the result, annihilating the test’s reliable informative value.

So how can it be that those who claim the PCR tests are highly meaningful for so-called COVID-19 diagnosis blind out the fundamental inadequacies of these tests—even if they are confronted with questions regarding their validity?

Certainly, the apologists of the novel coronavirus hypothesis should have dealt with these questions before throwing the tests on the market and putting basically the whole world under lockdown, not least because these are questions that come to mind immediately for anyone with even a spark of scientific understanding.

Thus, the thought inevitably emerges that financial and political interests play a decisive role for this ignorance about scientific obligations. NB, the WHO, for example has financial ties with drug companies, as the British Medical Journal showed in 2010.

And experts criticize “that the notorious corruption and conflicts of interest at WHO have continued, even grown“ since then. The CDC as well, to take another big player, is obviously no better off.

Finally, the reasons and possible motives remain speculative, and many involved surely act in good faith; but the science is clear: The numbers generated by these RT-PCR tests do not in the least justify frightening people who have been tested “positive” and imposing lockdown measures that plunge countless people into poverty and despair or even drive them to suicide.

And a “positive” result may have serious consequences for the patients as well, because then all non-viral factors are excluded from the diagnosis and the patients are treated with highly toxic drugs and invasive intubations. Especially for elderly people and patients with pre-existing conditions such a treatment can be fatal, as we have outlined in the article “Fatal Therapie.”

Without doubt eventual excess mortality rates are caused by the therapy and by the lockdown measures, while the “COVID-19” death statistics comprise also patients who died of a variety of diseases, redefined as COVID-19 only because of a “positive” test result whose value could not be more doubtful.


Source : Off Guardian


Read also

Fact check: Inventor of method used to test for COVID-19 didn’t say it can’t be used in virus detection . . . . .

A Message To Fauci: You Are In No Position To Dictate The “Greater Good” . . . . .

重温香港過去三年「鬥地主」之路

上月中,路透社報道指中央向地產商施壓,地產商在澄清之餘,恒基、新地、會德豐及地產建設商會均指支持甚至配合政府增加土地房屋供應,恒地李家誠在《文滙》專訪中,稱發展商可扮演更積極角色。不過,路透社報道刊出後兩周,具體行動暫時只見新世界宣佈成立非牟利房社企,新世界解釋,社企自去年起籌備。

施政報告下周出爐,各大傳媒已引消息預告,政府將大動作覓地。《立場》整理四大地產商把持新界農地的現況、近年發展商如何「盡社會責任」捐地、借地,以及政府有關政策。

研究土地房屋的本土研究社陳劍青認為,發展商所謂「捐地」,在背後仍「有賺」,而政府土地政策仍是親商界,兩者的舉動只是「令到你感覺佢地係做緊嘢」,解決房屋問題或者只是一廂情願。

誰是最大地主?

說地產商在新界坐擁大量農地,但到底有多少?《立場》翻查四大地產商的業績報告及傳媒報導,發現單計四大地產商在新界的土地儲備,已至少有948.1 公頃,即是 50 個維園,亦是全港 4900 公頃農地的兩成。

其中,恒地在業績報告中直認是全港擁有最多新界土地發展商。截至今年 6 月底,恒地有約 4460 萬平方呎(414.3 公頃)新界土地,其中138 萬平方呎位於粉嶺北及古洞北新發展區、614 萬平方呎位於洪水橋新發展區。

新世界方面,截至 2020 年12 月底,集團的新界農地應佔土地總面積達 1,646 萬平方呎,其中近 7 成(218.4 萬平方呎)位於元朗、一成三位於北區(1879.7 萬平方呎),其餘分佈沙田、大埔及西貢。

新鴻基地產及長實年報均未有直接交代新界土地儲備面積,摩根士丹利及摩根大通就預測新地有約 3,100 萬平方呎農地(約287 公頃),數字僅次恒地;長實則有 1,000 萬平方呎(約 92.9 公頃),是四大發展商中最少。

陳劍青提醒,地產商或會透過中介公司持有土地,未有計入年報數字,連查冊亦未必馬上發現。換言之,地產商實際可以控制的土地面積可能更多。

官媒 19 年發文後 新世界等四地產商一蚊借地

地產商的土儲積累多年,但「鬥地主」的輿論則在 2019 年初見。在反送中運動期間,中國官媒將土地房屋問題、香港「深層次矛盾」的矛頭指向地產商,甚至直接提出要《收回土地條例》收地。

2019 年 9 月,《新華社》及《人民日報》先後發文,將反修例運動的「深層次矛盾」是源於高樓價、上流機會不足,《人民日報》文章提到「地產商是時候釋放最大善意,而不應只打自己算盤、囤地居奇」,建議動用《收回土地條例》收地。

至 10 月,長實創辦人李嘉誠提到希望從政者對年輕人「網開一面」,中央政法委微博「長安劍」發文批評是縱容犯罪之餘,更在文章中形容李嘉誠等房產商「囤地圈錢」。

當時最先反應的是新世界,9 月底已宣佈借出 300 萬呎農地建公屋及社會房屋。其後恒地、會德豐及新鴻基亦在 19 年 11 月、20年 1 月以類似形式,借出合共 122.8 萬呎土地建屋,年期 7 至 8 年。(詳見下表)

新社聯上周二(29日)公佈,將在錦田營運過渡房屋,最快 2023 年落成入伙,其實就是 19 年恒基借出的土地。

建制力銷收地 林鄭僅「打開口牌」

2019 年 9 月同樣正值施政報告前夕,建制派力銷動用《土地收回條例》收地,民建聯在《東方》頭版落廣告稱「收地建屋 刻不容緩」,工聯會就見發展局局長黃偉綸,就連經民聯立法會議員、永和實業董事長林健鋒亦說贊成收地,僅指要按地段、性質彈性處理。

當時,地產及建造界議員石禮謙形容倡議是「打地產商」、創造矛盾,直言政府是由於民望跌至谷底才想「做啲嘢」,令人覺得政府有做工作。

最終該年轉在網上公佈的施政報告就提出,收茶果嶺等三寮屋共 20 公頃土地,計畫未來五年會收回 400 多公頃私人土地。

20 年未見捐地 21 年夏寶龍發言後即「土地共享」

地產商「捐地潮」以及收地呼聲主要在 2019 年下半年維持,土地議題在 2020 年淡出輿論中心。即使政府去年 5 月推出「土地共享先導計劃」,亦一度乏人問津,未見引起太大關注。直至今年 3 月初,先有政府動用「尚方寶劍」,收回錦田 108 幅私人土地,涉 12.3 公頃,部分為長實、恒地持有;同月國務院副總理韓正提到香港社會貧富懸殊大,需解決房屋問題,土地議題再次回到公眾視線。

今年 5 月,政府再收粉嶺及元朗的三塊土地,共涉 1.59 公頃,為新鴻基及新世界持有。7 月,政府「完善選舉制度」後,港澳辦主任夏寶龍籍《港區國安法》實施一周年研討會,表明希望香港告別劏房及籠屋。

夏寶龍發言後一周,政府公佈接獲南豐發展申請土地共享計劃,是計劃推出一年多以來首有發展商申請;8 月,再有新地、恒地及會德豐地產申請土地共享計劃。

2019 年至今,京官、官媒言論及港府、地產商行動
地產商「捐地潮」主要在 2019 年下半年維持,至 2021 再有京官發言才再有行動。

陳劍青:土地共享僅「政府出雞,地產商出豉油」

回看 19 年以來官媒及中央官員放話後,地產商借地、捐地,政府亦有收地。不過,陳劍青認為,地產商及政府只是努力表現自己,「令到你感覺佢地係做緊嘢… 純粹係一種感覺」,指地產商本身沒有誘因為政府降決問題。

他解釋,所謂的「捐地」項目,地產商仍然「有賺」。他以恒地及會德豐的土地共享計劃申請為例,發展商曾計畫在該片社山村的農地建千多個單位,反映地段本身不適合大規模發展,但今次的申請一舉將預計落成量加大至逾 1.2 萬,扣減 7 成資助房屋,仍有超過 3000 單位供私人發展。他續指,地段位置偏遠,政府要額外建道路基建,形容是「政府出雞,地產商只係出豉油」。另外,發展商亦會將官地範圍計入頂目,如南豐的大埔汀角路計畫就有四成是政府地。

他批評,政府其實可以直接收回土地建屋,但反而推出計畫「夾埋啲地產商,好似與虎謀皮」,又質疑過渡性房屋只是「幫地產商過渡、幫佢地平整土地」,無助解決問題,「起完幾年之後就會冇咗,如果到時房屋問題再嚴重咗咁點?」

他亦不滿政府收地速度,指林鄭 2019 年預告五年收 400 多公頃地,但 2 年過去,僅收 13.89 公頃新界地,明顯是「交唔足功課」。

本研社料精簡城規程序 非打壓地產商

本土研究社成員夏淳權估計,施政報告仍然會加快覓地,但方向似是精簡城規程序、放寬濕地緩衝區地蹟比,「好難話係打壓」。陳劍青續道,林鄭過往的土地政策都是親商界,比如之前提到「土地共享」、原址換地發展新界東北等,反而是鼓勵囤地。他又舉例說,現屆政府提出「基建先行」,會為發展區建交通配套,但審視棕地時卻未有同一標準,「棕地又唔基建先行?」

他表示,其實就算未動用「尚方寶劍」收地,只要設一手樓空置稅,已對樓價有大影響,但去年撤回議案,「咁咪繼續炒,繼續有個投資需求」,直言政府一直避開需求面向的問題。他分析,政府仍要依賴地產商稅收等,相信未來一年土地政策都未必有大變化。

遊戲規則已改變? 陳劍青:「壟斷」一詞或成地產界可變動紅線

不過,陳劍青認為,路透報道提到「不再容許壟斷行為」一句可堪玩味。他表示,「壟斷」一詞或成地產界可以變動的紅線,「你唔知佢之後會唔會無端端就拎隻字出嚟,話你有意圖、助長(壟斷)行為… 呢個對香港人可能司空見慣,但對一個大企業嚟講, 要睇 foreseeable future 、估到未來賺幾多錢」。

他認同,恆地擁地最多,最首當其衝,而且又多建「納米樓」,與中央要「告別劏房」的口號大相逕庭;而新地囤地量亦不少,形容新界東北北環綫附近一帶全都是新地的土地,「新田站都變新地站」,相對之下長實近年的土儲就未見再大增長。

本土研究社亦分享另一個觀察,他們在 2019 年的研究發現,中資參考傳統地產商模式囤地,包括雅居樂伙建旺集團擁 200 萬平方呎南丫島地。陳劍青指,目前中資地產商擁有的土地比傳統地產商是「蚊比同牛比」,而且傳統地產商已霸佔「靚地」,中資只有較難發展的祖堂地、濕地,如往後放寬祖堂地買賣、濕地緩衝區限制,或會有利中資坐大。他笑言,遊戲規則可能如地產商所願無變,只是要「換莊」,改由中資進駐


Source : Stand News

HKU – One of Asia’s Most Prestigious Universities Is on the Frontline of a Battle for Democracy

Students and lecturers at Hong Kong’s most prestigious university returned from summer break this month to a very different institution.

The Democracy Wall at the University of Hong Kong (better known as HKU) — a pinboard where students once shared political thoughts — is gone. The student union, which once advocated for students, is all but defunct, with four of its members facing charges of advocating terrorism.

Although many students and academics were happy to be back on campus — many for the first time since the start of the pandemic — a political chill hangs over the university that some staff say is influencing how they teach.
While the Hong Kong government told CNN the city’s universities “continue to enjoy academic freedom,” four current HKU staff who spoke with CNN on condition of anonymity said they are more cautious about what they say in class, afraid that their own students could report them to authorities.

The self-censorship began after June last year when Beijing imposed a controversial and sweeping national security law on the city. Since then, more than 140 people have been arrested under the law, including activists, journalists, politicians and educators, and, of those, 85 have been charged.

HKU — the city’s highest-ranked university with more than 30,000 students — can be considered a microcosm of Hong Kong. Some HKU staff say a climate of fear and uncertainty surrounds what constitutes a breach of the law. And they warn that, like the city itself, the freedoms and rights that once set the university apart from those in mainland China are fast in decline.

“Academic freedom has been eroded. Freedom of speech has been eroded in this university,” said one university lecturer, who asked to be referred to by the pseudonym Gordon as they still work at the university. “To pretend that it hasn’t is ignoring reality.”

The creeping changes risk jeopardizing HKU’s status as a world-class institution, some faculty members say, by undermining its efforts to attract top staff and students — threatening the future of one of the city’s most prominent bastions of free speech.

HKU students arrived on campus this month wearing face masks — a requirement in the city to protect against Covid-19.

Almost two years ago, they wore face coverings for a very different reason.

In November 2019, students concealed their identity with masks as they barricaded stairways of the university’s campus with couches and tables. Together, they amassed slingshots and Molotov cocktails, turning their university into a fortress against riot police who swarmed outside, armed with tear gas.

At the time, the city was months into a pro-democracy movement that had seen angry Hong Kongers — many of them students — face off in street battles against police.

The political situation unfolding both on and off campus frequently crept into classroom discussions — some professors even referred to the protests as examples in their classes.

Some lecturers publicly supported student demonstrators. The day students turned HKU into a fortress, professors braved the tense face off to negotiate with police. Throughout the protests, staff helped students when they got arrested and provided mental health support, according to students and faculty.

Those protests were brought to a sudden end by pandemic restrictions — and by June 2020, an increasingly frustrated Beijing had found a more permanent solution: a national security law in Hong Kong.

The law established the crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign countries or “external elements.” Some crimes carried a maximum penalty of life in prison. Although the law was vague and wide-ranging, authorities initially said the law would only target an extremely small minority of offenders.

“The national security law is a crucial step to ending chaos and violence that has occurred over the past few months,” Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam said, as the law came into force last June. “It’s a law that has been introduced to keep Hong Kong safe.” In a statement to CNN, the Hong Kong government said “law-abiding people will not unwittingly violate the law.”

But in the year since it was imposed, a pro-democracy newspaper closed down and nearly all of the city’s leading pro-democracy figures have been either jailed or fled overseas. Protests, which once took place almost every week, have stopped — and while authorities have said that is due to Covid restrictions, others see it as a way to suppress dissent.
And at HKU, once a beacon for freedom of expression and thought, some say it has already had a chilling effect.

Sarah Cook, Freedom House’s research director for China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, said political discussion at Hong Kong universities was once as free as at Western institutions. The university’s openness had been “gutted … almost overnight,” she said.

A Hong Kong government spokesperson said universities continued to enjoy academic freedom, but also had the responsibility to make sure their operation complied with the law.

HKU said it continued to uphold the principles of “academic freedom and institutional autonomy.”

“There are no boundaries to research and studies provided that they are within the law,” a HKU spokesperson said.

Fears in the classroom

HKU lecturer Amy, who isn’t using her real name for fear of repercussions, says she has become more anxious about covering certain topics since the national security law was imposed. She increasingly feels as if her classroom is becoming isolated from the real world.

Three other current academics CNN spoke to for this story said they too were cautious over what they said for fear of running afoul of the national security law.

On campus, rumors circulate among professors and students that a student who got a grade they didn’t like reported their lecturer to the National Security Hotline, set up so the public can inform authorities about breaches of the national security law, according to two lecturers. The police did not confirm these reports, although a spokesperson said the hotline had received more than 100,000 pieces of information since it was launched in November 2020.

Rumors like this only add to the fear and chill that have swept over HKU.

When HKU switched to remote learning during the pandemic, two professors told CNN they refused to upload recordings of their lectures as they were concerned that any off-hand comments made in class could be used as evidence against them.
Amy said the university’s leaders used “double speak” that only added to the confusion.

“The senior management of the university has insisted that we still have academic freedom, and that we should not self-censor. But then in the next sentence, they’ll tell us to be careful and not to break the law,” said one member of staff, who asked to be known as Mary.

The Faculty of Arts held a meeting last year with a member of the university’s senior management team to ask for more specific guidelines on how the national security law would affect what they could write and study, according to two people who were present.

During that meeting, staff asked whether they could still teach about topics such as democracy in Hong Kong, Amy said. They were told they would not have to worry, if what they were saying was academic. They were also told “not to incite students,” although it was not made clear what would be considered incitement, she said.

“I have found myself sometimes saying innocent things that sound like an incitement that then I have to turn around and make a joke that I’m not inciting people,” she added.

Professors say this vague advice has left them unsure what could see them reported to police.

A university crackdown

As students enjoyed their summer break, a sign of what the national security law means for the university was unfolding on campus.
National
security police officers raided HKU’s student union on July 16, removing evidence as onlookers and media peered through the glass doors outside.

For more than 100 years — almost as long as the university has existed — the association represented students on campus. Now, it was being targeted by police for giving some a voice.

On July 7, the student union had passed a motion expressing its deep sadness and appreciation for the “sacrifice for Hong Kong” of a man who had killed himself shortly after stabbing and seriously injuring a police officer in a busy shopping street. In politically charged Hong Kong, where months of protests led many to see the police as the enemy, a minority saw the attacker as a martyr.

Authorities characterized the attack as “terrorism,” and police quickly branded union leaders as “messengers of terrorism.”

Two days after passing the motion, the student union withdrew it — but it was too late. The city’s leader Lam said she was “ashamed” of the university.

HKU management took action. They said they no longer recognized the union, meaning other services funded by the union — such as Campus TV — face uncertainty over how they will operate.

HKU said the situation would not affect the “continued commitment of the University to facilitate and support extra-curricular activities on campus.” Hong Kong police said 32 students attended that meeting.

The HKU council said it would “until further notice and subject to review” ban all students who attended the meeting from campus and refuse them access to any university resources. These students’ presence on campus “would pose serious legal and reputational risks to the University and have negative impact on its other members,” the HKU council said in a statement.

An email seen by CNN which was sent to some students in August asks them to indicate whether they attended the July 7 meeting, whether they proposed or seconded the motion, and how they voted on the motion.

And on August 18, four members, ages 18 to 20, were arrested and later charged with advocating terrorism, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Some faculty members agreed the student union’s motion had been in poor taste — but they disagreed with the decision to bar the union from campus and prosecute the students. HKU law lecturer Eric Cheung resigned from his position on the university board over the decision to bar the students from campus. “I feel very sad when a university doesn’t nurture students and help them correct their mistakes,” he said, according to broadcaster RTHK.

Seven members of HKU’s 60-member court, which oversees the university and is headed by the city’s leader Lam, issued an open letter to the university council, asking them to withdraw the decision to bar members from campus and claiming the university had stripped students of their right to education. The ban remains in place. Lam was not one of the seven signatories.

“They’re trying to shut down all student political activity and campus political speech. As much as possible, they want to eliminate any student organization that might have political content or engage in political activity,” said Chris Fraser, a professor who left HKU for the University of Toronto in July this year.

One fourth-year government and law student at HKU, who was active in the student union in the past, said after the arrests, he and his friends removed everything in their dorm rooms they thought could breach the national security law.
“I think all students are sad … that normal students are deeply affected by the incident,” he said.

Some faculty staff worry that this latest incident may only worsen the chill felt over the university.

“I think that it’s going to have a serious effect on classroom, debate and discussion and also just open discussion on campus,” said Mary.

“Because by making an example out of a student union, I think it’s going to deter students from feeling that they’re safe, having political discussions, or breathing into more general discussions on campus,” she said.

Not all students feel the same way — one 25-year-old master’s student at HKU who is from mainland China said the national security law didn’t necessarily make him feel safer, but at least it prevented protests. “(The protests) were like a strong medicine that suppresses the symptom but also hurts the body itself.”

The broader issues

For years, HKU has been one of the most highly ranked universities in Asia, and a place renowned for political discussion. It counted top political leaders among its alumni, including Hong Kong’s current leader Lam and Sun Yat-sen, who helped overthrow the Qing dynasty to found the Republic of China.

In 1923, when Sun was asked where his revolutionary ideas came from during a visit to his alma mater, he responded: “I got my idea in this very place; in the colony of Hong Kong.”

Today, his revolutionary zeal would likely breach the national security law.

For onlookers, that raises questions over the future of the university — whether it can still maintain its international standing as freedoms grow more restricted, and what this means for the future of the former political hub.

HKU did not provide details of whether application numbers had dropped since the NSL was passed. The government, meanwhile, insists the national security law isn’t hurting universities.

“With the restoration of law and order and a stable environment in Hong Kong, our universities can refocus on research and academic development, strive for academic excellence, and seize the unprecedented opportunities presented by the technological advancement and development of our country and the region, and in doing so continue to enhance our position as the regional education hub and our ability to attract international talent,” a government spokesperson said.

And for now, HKU’s rankings have not tumbled — it’s still placed 22nd in the world in the most recent QS World University Rankings. But the rankings are based on five years’ worth of data, meaning that any effect on its international reputation since June 2020 is unlikely to be reflected for another few years, according to QS rankings spokesman Jack Moran.

A former student who graduated last year and who asked not to be named described a degree from HKU as a fine wine — one from 1995 is great, one from 2020 is not.

Gordon, a current member of faculty, says he was warned by a headhunter to leave Hong Kong as fast as possible. “The longer you stay, the more it looks like you’re kind of complicit with the system. And you’ll be tarred with it,” he recalled the headhunter saying.

At the heart of the fear is that Hong Kong University becomes more like institutions on the mainland.

“Until the national security law, it was night and day between what it’s like being at a university in China versus a university in Hong Kong,” Freedom House’s Cook said.

Traditionally, Hong Kong has embraced academic freedom, dialogue and debate — all qualities that set it apart from mainland China. Academics could produce research critical of the government, and students and faculty were able to share different views without fear of repercussions.

But now, people who have dedicated their lives to making Hong Kong University a world-class institution think Beijing and the Hong Kong government don’t care about academic freedoms, Cook said.

“The universities really represent that more liberal culture that is such a big part of Hong Kong’s identity as a city, and so different from what the Communist Party has imposed in mainland China,” she said. “There’s a reason why they’re going for the core artery, that they’re moving into what is at the heart of so much of Hong Kong.”

“I don’t think that there’s any way to decouple academic and politics,” Mary said. “I think to suggest that you can cleanse it of politics is naive, or at worst, misleading.”

That in turn would lead to a major brain drain, as students went elsewhere, and universities struggled to recruit staff, even for academic subjects that didn’t touch on sensitive topics, she said.

A current member of faculty, who asked to be identified as Helena, said every time one of her students gets accepted into an overseas post-graduate program, her heart feels “a little lighter.”

“Although I’m sad that Hong Kong is losing that person, I understand they’re going to be free and safe,” she said.

Every day, Helena wonders what her limits are, and what would make her no longer continue to work at the university. “We have to kind of grapple with ‘how long are we useful? Or do we become kind of, you know, just an instrument?'”


Source : CNN