Bullet points: HOWTO catch up on coronavirus fast if you’ve been living under a rock (or enslaved)

Note: In 2020, I’m writing 52 blog posts, one per week, released Mondays or so…LIKE TODAY’s! This is Week 12‘s.

“It is not your fault, I know, but of those who put it in your head that you are exaggerating and even this testimony may seem just an exaggeration for those who are far from the epidemic, but please, listen to us” — intensive care physician Dr. Daniele Macchini, in translation from Humanitas Gavazzeni hospital in Bergamo, Italy, Friday 6th of March 2020. (Additional attribution information.)

Artwork possibly by Colombian Julián Valencia. I’ll try to update this info. (Source.)

Let’s say you’ve been living under a rock — or enslaved by time-consuming wage-work or an abusive chattel owner or months/years of lock up or an unhappy, exploitative marriage or other — and you exit that problem (at least partially) to simply arrive at another: everything’s suddenly different and everyone else has been talking, and continues to talk, about some sort of coronavirus deal. If you think that’s a joke, consider the number of people exiting various forms of confinement daily, not to mention the other scenarios in this paragraph.

Thankfully, you’re literate and you have about three hours on your hands, so what quality information should you read to catch yourself up on the scary COVID-19 disease caused by late 2019’s new version of coronavirus (a family of related viruses)?

Below are ten bullet points, plus a bonus eleventh, listing links to study up on, primarily — but not only — regarding the medical and practical sides of things, to help you catch up quickly on the pandemic. I’ve been reading about novel coronavirus (just a fancy way to say new coronavirus), since late February; that’s how I’m distilling down your reading to essential material. Required texts would differ regionally, of course, yet as a Seattleite previously from North Texas, I’m gearing the present post toward the United States. Seattle is also where the index case (aka patient zero) happened in this country, so compared with the rest of the US, Seattleites have had a head start on this new world. Without further ado:

1. On Friday 6 March 2020, Dr. Daniele Macchini, an intensive care unit physician at the Humanitas Gavazzeni hospital in Bergamo, Italy, wrote a Facebook post in Italian that the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera (Bergamo edition) republished the next day, probably contributing to an English translation appearing on reddit Sunday 8 March 2020. To perceive clearly and quickly how serious all this is, read Dr. Daniele Macchini’s March 6, 2020 message in Italian or English. Epidemiologist Silvia Stringhini might have been the Italian-to-English translator (see this twitter thread of hers), but I’m not sure. I’ll try to update the translator info. Here’s a Wednesday 11 March 2020 Snopes piece providing attribution information for Dr. Macchini’s post. Here’s Dr. Macchini’s staffperson page at the Humanitas Gavazzeni hospital.

2. On Wednesday 11 March 2020, Dr. Tedros, the director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), an agency of the United Nations, announced, after the agency had been tracking the disease from the start, that WHO made the assessment that day that COVID-19 is a global pandemic. Though definitions of “pandemic” vary, change, and are debated (here’s the WHO’s from 2010), pandemic etymologically means all people, indicating plainly that all humans, including you and me and everyone else, are at risk of exposure. Dr. Tedros’s announcement of the disease’s global pandemic status came in his opening remarks during one of the frequent novel coronavirus press briefings WHO has been holding. His announcement is a document well worth reading, short and well written and well structured, and it should be looked back upon by future historians. Dr. Tedros called for immediate intelligent action everywhere, what his announcement terms a “whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach” planetwide. Also, Dr. Tedros said this is the first pandemic in history that, in his judgment as WHO director general, can be suppressed and controlled, i.e. by humans acting knowledgeably (I presume he’d say this is because of the Internet/global communications). Below, the full 59-minute video of the Wednesday 11 March 2020 press briefing. Dr. Tedros’ opening remarks are from 1 minute to 9.5 minutes.

World Health Organization Wed. 11 March 2020 daily press briefing on COVID-19, 59 minutes

3. Understand four reasons why it matters that this coronavirus is new/novel. Coronavirus is a family of similar/related viruses. It’s important to emphasize that this brand new version from late 2019 is a new coronavirus, or meaning the same thing, a novel coronavirus, because, as Dr. Francis Riedo, an infectious disease and travel medicine expert from Seattle’s EvergreenHealth healthcare system, explained during a Saturday 29 February 2020 Washington state Department of Health press conference, a) No one has immunity to it yet, b) No vaccine for it exists yet, and c) No treatment agent targeted specifically at it exists yet. I would add d) Researchers, scientists, and similar still do not have enough information about it. A-D of course exclude unusual and strange possible situations such as personalized medicine for the powerful. If anyone can forward me the raw video for that press conference with Dr. Francis Riedo, perhaps at C-SPAN, I’ll add it here and credit your name/pseudonym as you specify. Or I’ll do it myself later.

4. Understand exponential growth. Addition and exponentiation are both arithmetic operations. Here’s an addition example: 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 12. Here’s an exponentiation example: 34 = 3 × 3 × 3 × 3 = 81. That exponentiation is 3 times itself four times. It depends, but disease spread can often be more exponential than straightforward addition. Exponential because each infected person, especially prior to becoming incapacitated (but possibly even then), can infect many people, not just another single person. This Tuesday 10 March 2020 Washington Post article explains it quite well: “When coronavirus is growing exponentially, everything looks fine until it doesn’t.” Two screenshots excerpting that WaPo article:

This Friday 13 March 2020 article at USA Today explains what exponential growth means in terms of overwhelmed hospitals running out of beds in the United States: “A USA TODAY analysis shows there could be six seriously ill patients for every existing US hospital bed. No state is prepared.”

On Monday 23 March 2020, CNN journalist Ryan Struyk tweeted CNN’s figures for the United States, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the country for each day in March.

5. Here’s a practical, comprehensive guide to novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19. This all-in-one coronavirus guide, started Sunday 8 March 2020 and updated daily, is by Ars Technica (Latin: the art of technology), a web magazine that’s been around for more than two decades in various incarnations. Condé Nast currently owns it (they also own Wired, The New Yorker, and plenty of others). If you spend an hour slowly and carefully working your way through that guide, you’ll be in pretty decent shape in terms of catching up. Other guides include this collaborative one out of Berlin, by a hacker and an artist, with input for healthcare professionals. This document/guide for COVID-19 mutual aid and advocacy resources across the United States might also be useful. If you have any other really excellent guides, please put them in the comments to this post or email them to me at DAL@RISEUP.NET.

6. Here’s the COVID-19 advice for the public section on the World Health Organization website. Study that material thoroughly. And better yet, start studying the COVID-19 section entire on the WHO’s website. It explains, among other things, that people of all ages, regardless of their other medical conditions or lack thereof, can become infected with COVID-19. All ages can die from it, again regardless of their other medical conditions or lack thereof (see also Thursday 19 March 2020 Bloomberg article). While a Monday 23 March 2020 WHO situation report says “For most people, COVID-19 infection will cause mild illness however, it can make some people very ill and, in some people, it can be fatal,” with the sheer quantity of “some people” — hundreds of thousands (or more) who will quite possibly become infected (hopefully not) — that means already overwhelmed hospital systems all over the planet will be in even more dangerous shape, especially countries without widespread access to healthcare such as the United States. Finally, it helps to understand the World Health Organization’s web address: https://who.int. WHO obviously stands for World Health Organization, but .INT is a sponsored top level domain that many in the United States might not be familiar with. It means international.

7. Understand soap and hand sanitizer. “Toilet soap” is the term for that category of soap everyday people are typically familiar with, such as in domestic cleaning or bathroom settings, as opposed to say industrial thickening soaps outside the realm of common experience. It depends, but regarding novel coronavirus, toilet soap may generally be more reliable than hand sanitizer (alcohol-based hand rub); however, hand sanitizer might be helpful for settings where people can’t access toilet soap: paid-workers taking hand sanitizer briefly out of their purses on public transit, for instance, or to replace toilet soap when people are at risk for certain skin reactions, including the hand dermatitis health care workers can get (and get fired for in some places) after years and years of washing their hands a zillion times on the job daily — that’s one reason why health care workers in specialized settings are often using alcohol-based hand rubs (hand sanitizer). Hand sanitizer may also be better for those directly caring for patients. On a daily ordinary human level, use regular toilet soap such as bar soap. The corporate bar soap, including Dial products, is marketed as antibacterial. But a virus causes COVID-19; thus, antibacterial doesn’t help with coronavirus specifically (viruses and bacteria are two completely different enemies/pathogens). Further, even the US Federal Death Agency, I mean the US Food and Drug Administration, wrote for consumers in May 2019 that there’s not sufficient scientific evidence to say antibacterial soap is any extra helpful against bacteria/generally, and they also wrote it (well, soap with the ingredient triclosan) may even be harmful, and not just because of antibiotic resistance. Prior to this pandemic, I used plain ol’ Dr. Bronner’s bar soap. A subcategory of “toilet soap” is “Castile soap,” Castile referring to a historical region in Spain, but meaning in practical terms the soap is based on olive oil. For toilet soaps to work against viruses (remember, not talking about antibacterial or antibiotic), you want them to be surfactants (short for Surface Active Agents) containing amphiphiles. Instead of trying to kill all the pathogens, the point of bar soap is more to escort the viruses down the drain. That part, and the part about amphiphiles and surfactants, I don’t understand fully, but suffice to say, Castile soap — or at least Dr. Bronner’s bar soap — is a surfactant with amphiphiles, so I feel comfortable enough to continue using it during this pandemic. Finally, the good information about handwashing for 20-30+ seconds, minding to clean each finger and cut your nails etc., is getting newly amplified due to this pandemic, yay! You’ll want to wash your hands like that regularly with soap and water. The soap details, and the soap vs. hand sanitizer debate, may be a lot more complicated than this (there are even studies about what to do, when washing your hands, with the ring or wristwatch you typically wear), but my bullet point write-up is a bit of a rush job. Here are resources: 270-page WHO report from 2009 about guidelines on hand hygiene in health care (may not apply to everyday folks); 7-page 2009 WHO brochure for those directly involved in patient care; Lisa Bronner of the Bronner family, consumer education / advertising, especially this post; under-5-minutes video, by TV personality and chef Alton Brown; US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention handwashing section; 13 March 2020 New York Times article praising toilet soap; World Health Organization handwashing post for World Water Day 2020. This research/writing should be continued further and may change as more is learned especially about novel coronavirus. I receive nada from Dr. Bronner’s and the Bronner family, I just like their stuff and frequently buy it myself.

8. Keep track of worldwide statistics using the following dashboards, but understand their limitations. Online dashboards give statistics for COVID-19 in different countries and their provinces, statistics such as number of confirmed cases, number of tests performed, number of deaths (often wrong since complications/comorbidities matter in determining what causes a death), and number of people recovered. However, there are lots of undetected cases, whether asymptomatic, mildly symptomatic, or very symptomatic and not counted. Asymptomatic (no symptoms) or mildly symptomatic (symptoms so mild they might not even be noticed) individuals can still be infected and transmit their infection to other people. Since the dashboards don’t track asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic cases, the true scale of the problem is bigger than the dashboards suggest. Further, some countries including the United States are not testing sufficently, and public health experts anywhere would presumably like to run more tests if possible. So, that means there are more people who are very sick and would count as confirmed cases if only tests were available enough — another reason the true scale of the pandemic is worse than the dashboards suggest. Finally, confinement facilities such as prisons, pretrial jails, psychiatric wards, detention camps, and others have a track record of not counting people accurately, to say the least (lockup facilities are targets for human traffickers), so that’s yet a third reason why already grim dashboards are not as grim as the full reality. On Wednesday 22 January 2020, the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering first publicly shared their dashboard (which has a frequently asked questions and an article in The Lancet). A version of the John Hopkins dashboard, at Esri/Environmental Systems Research Institute’s ArcGIS geographic information system website, might be easier to use. I also very much like https://nCoV2019.live/data, created around Wednesday 25 December 2019 by Avi Schiffmann, a high schooler near Seattle. All three of those pull data from authoritative sources and refresh very frequently. Here’s one for Canada by PhD epidemiology candidates @JPSoucy and @ishaberry2 at the University of Toronto’s public health school, with the COVID-19 Canada Open Data Working Group curating data. There’s another, very official government dashboard for Canada, but I lost track of the URL. If you have it, please post it to the comments on this post or email it to me: DAL@RISEUP.NET. Here’s global and regional COVID-19 data from the WorldOMeters.Info website, its sources listed at the bottom of its webpage. Finally, the World Health Organization’s great COVID-19 global dashboard.

Artwork possibly by Colombian Julián Valencia. I’ll try to update this info. (Source.)

9. As this Saturday 14 March 2020 reddit post suggests, and as the World Health Organization is changing to, don’t say “social distancing,” say “physical distancing.” As I put it: Humans are unchangeably social animals, so social distancing kills us / drives us extinct. Physical distancing is accurate and encourages people to keep interacting socially, checking on each other, talking via video or email or phone call, etc. If you’re afraid of becoming unpopular as a result of saying something unusual, namely physical distancing, nobody ain’t got no time for that lifestyle anymore. As George Orwell, Heather Marsh, Philip K. Dick, and plenty of others have said over and over, language is so powerful as to be coercive (even if the effect is sometimes only short lived). Words matter. On Friday 20 March 2020, at the daily press briefing on COVID-19, Dr. Kerkhove said the World Health Organization is changing from “social distancing” to “physical distancing” (video, see 17:40 to 18:40).

10. Review quality scientific literature or other medical expert information. If you recover from COVID-19, can you get re-infected with it later, or do you develop immunity? Very likely you develop immunity; still uncertain. A Thursday 27 February 2020 Reuters report said a Japanese tour bus guide got re-infected after recovering, but that report, a Friday 28 February 2020 Wired piece raised questions about the next day. The Guardian on Monday 16 March 2020 reported experts say the possibility of re-infection after recovery is “unlikely”, though more research is needed to be sure.

Then we have this 5.5-minute video, embedded below, by Science/Business Insider, uploaded to youtube by them Wednesday 18 March 2020. The short video uses authoritative sources, including the World Health Organization, to explain what coronavirus symptoms are like day by day. Very highly recommended:

Regarding the gastrointestinal (GI) system, two peer-reviewed medical studies about novel coronavirus in the fairly high impact scientific journal Gastroenterology, authored by different sets of Chinese doctors, are worth reading: 6-page PDF from Wednesday 26 February 2020 and 15-page PDF from Thursday 27 February 2020. By now you’ve learned the new coronavirus is spread by droplets from sneezes and coughs, and even droplets from talking and heavy breathing, and that the most common symptom is fever, with the second most common symptom being a dry cough, ANY OR ALL OF WHICH CAN THEN TURN INTO RESPIRATORY FAILURE AS FOR THIS MAN IN HIS MID THIRTIES, Clement Chow, an assistant professor of genetics at the University of Utah.

However, the Gastroenterology studies say the disease is also spread by the oral-fecal route (e.g., I assume, dirty diapers, oral sex, et cetera). A Wednesday 4 March 2020 research letter to the Journal of the American Medical Association disagrees, but does not cite the Gastroenterology studies. Though I’m not an expert, I say take the Gastroenteology studies extremely seriously and keep an eye on this/related research. The Gastroenteology studies also say COVID-19 can cause mild to moderate liver damage, and that some infected populations have shown less common GI symptoms — namely diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal discomfort — prior to the onset of the more well known respiratory symptoms. This all may change as further research is done, so keep an eye on this sort of thing and learn to read scientific/medical material. Yet also keep in mind the 2015 piece by Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals, a piece that includes this:

‘A lot of what is published is incorrect.’ I’m not allowed to say who made this remark because we were asked to observe Chatham House rules. We were also asked not to take photographs of slides. Those who worked for government agencies pleaded that their comments especially remain unquoted […] The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. As one participant put it, ‘poor methods get results’.

Would you like solutions to that massive worldwide problem? Here are solutions to that massive worldwide problem: “A societal singularity” by Heather Marsh and her GetGee framework for a collaborative global data commons for public information. I’ll try to write knowledge-bridging posts to connect that material of hers to COVID-19 soon.

The above ten bullet points leave a lot out, including political and economic material, such as international borders closing for whatever duration including the US – Canada border, but there’s enough to keep many readers busy for a while.

Bonus: The final eleventh bullet point, optimistic material, which comes in two parts. First, the 14-minute Friday 13 March 2020 Democracy Now! video interview with 17-year-old Avi Schiffmann, the creator of the https://ncov2019.live/data global dashboard, who’s been programming since he was seven and says “You can learn anything online.” His site has been visited by 35 million people and counting. Avi Schiffmann’s next project is a COVID-19 vaccine tracker to keep tabs on the progress clinical trials. The transcript is here and the video is embedded below.

Democracy Now! 14-min inspirational interview with https://ncov2019.live/data dashboard creator Avi Schiffmann, a 17 year old near Seattle

Second, this Monday 16 March 2020 Common Dreams article collects short videos, mostly social media posts, of physically distancing people singing, chanting, applauding with each other across balconies during covid19 pandemic. Includes Italy, the city of Wuhan in China, Lebanon, and Spain. To finish this blog post, I’ll embed items from the Common Dreams article below.

44 seconds of singing across balconies during COVID-19 physical distancing in Spain
https://twitter.com/SupYouFoundJay/status/1239231997584826375
15 seconds of chanting across balconies during COVID-19 physical distancing in Lebanon
~1-minute video of singing across balconies during COVID-19 physical distancing in Italy
45-second video of applause/ovation for healthcare workers during COVID-19 physical distancing in Spain
https://twitter.com/UnknowTalo/status/1238979243343843328
12-second video of applause/ovation for healthcare workers during COVID-19 physical distancing in Portugal
1-minute video of residents of the city of Wuhan in China chanting “Jiayou!” meaning “Keep up the fight!” or “You can do it!”

Creative Commons License

This blog post, Bullet points: HOWTO catch up on coronavirus fast if you’ve been living under a rock (or enslaved), by Douglas Lucas, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (human-readable summary of license). The license is based on a work at this URL: http://www.douglaslucas.com/blog/2020/03/23/howto-catch-up-coronavirus-fast-underrock-enslaved/ You can view the full license (the legal code aka the legalese) here. For learning more about Creative Commons, I suggest this article and the Creative Commons Frequently Asked Questions. Seeking permissions beyond the scope of this license, or want to correspond with me about this post otherwise? Please email me: dal@riseup.net.

Oops I missed Week 11

Note: In 2020, I’m writing 52 blog posts, one per week, released on Mondays or so…except when I’m not: I missed week 11!

Well, you know the drill: I missed another week of my blog, but hopefully I’ll be all caught up tonight and/or tomorrow.

(Source; person found them at thrift shop)

Creative Commons License

This blog post, Oops I missed Week 11, by Douglas Lucas, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (human-readable summary of license). The license is based on a work at this URL: http://www.douglaslucas.com/blog/2020/03/22/oops-i-missed-week-11/ You can view the full license (the legal code aka the legalese) here. For learning more about Creative Commons, I suggest this article and the Creative Commons Frequently Asked Questions. Seeking permissions beyond the scope of this license, or want to correspond with me about this post otherwise? Please email me: dal@riseup.net.

Oops I missed week 10

Note: In 2020, I’m writing 52 blog posts, one per week, released on Mondays or so…except when I’m not: I missed week 10!

Pending imminent collapse, tomorrow we return to our regular scheduled programming with a post providing a collection of links helping you get all caught up and advised on COVID-19 in about ninety minutes of reading. In the meantime, enjoy this music video, under one minute and embedded below: “Coronavirus! Shit is getting real!”

Creative Commons License

This blog post, Oops I missed week 10, by Douglas Lucas, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (human-readable summary of license). The license is based on a work at this URL: http://www.douglaslucas.com/blog/2020/03/15/oops-i-missed-week-10/ You can view the full license (the legal code aka the legalese) here. For learning more about Creative Commons, I suggest this article and the Creative Commons Frequently Asked Questions. Seeking permissions beyond the scope of this license, or want to correspond with me about this post otherwise? Please email me: dal@riseup.net.

How to make this amazing (but so far nameless) salad bowl, for great justice

Note 1: In 2020, I’m writing 52 blog posts, one per week, to be self-published every Monday. The first, today’s, is a day late, but you get the idea. :)

Note 2: Until now, I haven’t experimented with this new WordPress “Bebo” version and its Gutenberg block-editor, so there may be formatting / appearance / ux issues at the start of this 2020 series. Please bear with. :)

Note 3: I don’t receive any compensation whatsoever from the ingredients peeps or from the restaurants, stores, etc. that I’m linking. They’re here as examples, and I use all of them myself and recommend them except where otherwise specified.

Good news is everywhere. The anarchist daughter of the GOP’s gerrymandering mastermind just dumped all his maps and files online for public use (Vice, NPR, tweet and tweet by her). Correctly losing trust in sociopathic institutions and replacing it with trust in each other as a result of such inspirational stories, more and more folks involved in the peer support movement or on their own are refusing (conventional) psychiatry, slowly and successfully withdrawing off psychotropic pills after decades of Big Pharma occupation, then telling everyone about it, including last week in the Washington Post. There are even opportunities for celebrating and bonding in these new freedoms: after prison time in Russia a few years back for anti-Putin protest, Moscow-based anarchists Pussy Riot recently released their awesome new song “Hangerz” and announced dates for their first US & Canada tour, in March April May, benefiting Planned Parenthood. Especially with the Internet connecting individuals worldwide like never before, it feels as if there’s never been a better time to create networks and supports for prosocial, expansive lives.

Bad news is everywhere. In the words of multiple Holocaust and/or Auschwitz survivors in 2019 (Rene Lichtman, Ruth Bloch, Bernard Marks), ICE is equivalent to the Gestapo, their current ‘detention centers’ are really concentration camps where genocidaires crush minorities, and those at risk should leave the United States or stay to die. Exiting might not be so easy, however, as an example of the challenge from the past weekend shows: according to the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, more than sixty US residents, many of them US citizens, attempting to return home from foreign travel (a portion of them after attending a pop concert in British Columbia), were, while entering Washington state, interrogated for hours and hours by border patrol regarding their political views and loyalties; some were denied entry, and one activist says a migra source explains that this is a countrywide directive from above. Though exploring outside The Wall remains absolutely advisable for US residents, the threats are truly global, as a firsthand account Friday from Australia’s fire apocalypse indicates as one example of zillions, reporting that in Sydney and Canberra and elsewhere, people are dead, homeless, burned, frightened, suffocated with smoke, and sleeping in gas masks as their prime minister who’s fighting to criminalize protest against climate change vacations in Hawaii and scientists warn the disaster marks an irreversible tipping point. Finally, Iran just launched ballistic missiles at US forces in Iraq, and in response the bulbous TrumPharma monster (see below), aka the Cheeto in Chief, is bragging about having “the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world,” which like Obomber’s “finest fighting force in the history of the world,” is far beyond idiotic, especially since the US doesn’t control ‘its’ military or spy agencies anyway (private corporations do). From all those loser presidents there are no plans for peace ever, disarmament is an unheard term, and especially with the Internet increasingly clutched by corporations that silo users and capture control redirect and sell their lives like never before, many ‘adults’ seem to feel there’s never been a better time to hide under the bed, escape into corporate TV cartoons and scrolling, and slowly or quickly fade away as ex-humans.

Don’t you want to join Team Good News instead of Team Bad News? Upgrading your life, even to the degree of migrating to another country to avoid let’s say lockups and more tactically defeat them from afar, is not “unrealistic” or “you care too much,” but it is a major challenge, and cooking is a great way to begin replacing weakness with the strength required. Based on conversations and my own experience, those only partially stuck in the mindtrap of conformist, complicit lesser evilism often feel that practical routes to a fully authentic, stick-up-for-yourself-and-others life are nonexistent or nearly so, and thus the only choice is to remain in the comfort zone inert, blah blah blah. Thus, folks probably need straightforward suggestions for goals and the steps to achieve them, plus encouragement to figure out their own goals and steps autonomously.

Here’s a good-news goal for upgrading your life: make and eat this vegan, glutenfree salad bowl of mine by following the instructions in this post. Sounds simple and almost a Rembrandt comic book error: too much effort spent on a subpar theme. But, to take a single example discussed and hyperlinked below, the CDC thinks close to half of US adults alive today will at some point in their lives develop type 2 diabetes, so it’s the standard US diet that’s the real subpar error. Eating trash (not the good dumpster-dived kind!) day in and day out is far more culpable in our failure to address injustices than many of us like to admit.

This post is a guide to a kickass vegan/glutenfree salad bowl you can make regularly, quickly, and easily clean up, for an over 9000 power level. As English speakers have said for almost two centuries, you are what you eat. I find when I apply consistent discipline to diet and exercise and gratitude journaling, a lot of ‘mental problems’ thrown on me by The System simply evaporate.

Look at it this way. Here’s a picture of the amazing (but so far nameless) salad bowl. If you’re eating this and similar every damn day, rather than alcohol sugar caffeine nicotine gluten dairy carcasses etc, you’re obviously well on your way toward firing on all cylinders:

This, my salad bowl, is the objective

Versus if you’re eating like this waste of space, this TrumPharma thing pictured here last January offering White House guests McDonald’s and Burger King, pretty soon you’ll be swarming with invading thoughts telling you you’re no good, life is all about predators and prey, might as well win the victory over yourself and love the war of all against all, can’t beat ’em join ’em, that kind of crap:

Eat like Trump, die by Trump

A quick note regading upgrading your diet: if you’re now eating trash — alcohol sugar caffeine nicotine gluten dairy carcasses — and you tweak it in just one way for just one week — alcohol sugar caffeine nicotine gluten dairy carcasses — and don’t see much improvement, please know that firing on all cylinders really requires a whole bunch of bugfixes over a great deal of time; realize developing healthy strength isn’t a ten-second thing but a lifelong journey.

For the Jedi it is time to eat as well

While Star Trek surely outmatches Star Wars, the endearing movie line quoted above from Yoyo (or Yoda or whatever) shows that the supposedly mundane matters more than we often give it credit for. Allegedly inspirational youtube videos featuring bodybuilders grunting, retired professional assassins screaming at troubled audiences about making their beds, and embarrassing synthesized symphonies shaking your speakers frame becoming healthy and strong as a miserable toilsome struggle of straining and ex nihilio willpower, rather than as what would be accurate: a daily, almost pastoral problem of diligently reading up to select suitable dressings, remembering the courage to value going to the grocery store/market over the muddled angst regarding the frenemy crush who rarely texts first, and simply getting organized and planning ahead, not to join the grandiose lemmings at some lesser evilism corporate shoutfest, but to instantiate your real authentic values, one step at a time. In short, keep your (not their) objectives in front and take care of the necessary little things to accomplish them, exhilirating piece by exhilirating piece.

One of the tiny tasks for establishing the capability to make this salad regularly was finding bowls to actually put the salad in. I found these gray concave half-spheres with lids at Tarjay for cheap. They hold about eight imperial cups (roughly 2.3 liters), if you don’t go above the rim with overflowing kale or other nutrition-packed ingredients. They are the perfect size for a giant salad bowl giving you genuine, not grandiose fantasy, health and strength.

Unfortunately, the bowls strike me as rather suspect. Probably they’re bad for the environment and health, just on the general premise that if some commodity seems too good to be true, it likely is. What are these rubbery-ish bowls made out of, anyway? If you understand with specificity why these bowls are problematic, please explain in the comments. I will say these bowls are easy to clean, quite convenient, and their noncolor helps keep the visual focus on the food. So yeah, have some bowls…no not the Black Sabbath kind, not like that, I mean food bowls to put salad in:

Suspect but convenient bowls from Tarjay, plural

Suspect but convenient bowl from Tarjay, singular

My salad bowl is based on the Bliss Bowl from Seattle’s excellent Chaco Canyon Cafe. Sadly, this new year, they just stopped making and selling their Bliss Bowl, and possibly their orange turmeric dressing that goes with it, but thankfully we have my and soon your versions. Mine uses all the same ingredients as theirs, except I replace their brown rice ingredient with the healthier, less carb-y and more protein-y quinoa, which I cook in coconut milk with the super-beneficial spice turmeric added (and celtic salt). Oh, and unlike me, Chaco Canyon Cafe knows how to present a visually stunning arrangement of their ingredients. How can the following not look empowering?

Bliss Bowl from Chaco Canyon Cafe

Another shot of the Bliss Bowl from Chaco Canyon Cafe

Here are the nine ingredients to give yourself every advantage possible. Kale, spinach, red cabbage, cucumber, avocado, sesame seeds, dressing, edamame, and either brown rice (in Chaco Canyon Cafe’s Bliss Bowl) or quinoa cooked in coconut milk with turmeric spice added (in my version). Those links are to individual ingredient pages on the fantastic, you-need-it-now website The World’s Healthiest Foods, run by a not-for-profit foundation and George Mateljan. Not only does The World’s Healthiest Foods disseminate quality knowledge on the nutritional benefits of each ingredient, but the webpages advise how to select those ingredients at the grocery store/market, how to store them (refrigerator? countertop?), how to prepare them, recipes, nutritional data, basically everything you need to know. All the webpages list at the bottom references including peer-reviewed scientific studies. (Science! — for those too stuck on those faraway journals and just now learning that peer review is, lol, ghostwritten by contractors, that even the editor in chief of The Lancet worries half of scientific literature is simply false, and that instead of dismissing your and your loved ones’ lives as mere anecdotal evidence, it’s actually great to undo problematic filters and understand your own experience and that of those around you as worthy sources of knowledge.)

Now the rad dressing. Previously I bought the orange turmeric dressing weekly from Chaco Canyon Cafe, but it seems they’ve stopped making it. The ingredients in their orange turmeric dressing were: extra virgin olive oil, safflower oil, orange juice, garlic, turmeric, apple cider vinegar, sesame seeds, salt, mustard powder, agave syrup, and sesame oil. I don’t know the proportions of those ingredients or anything else about their preparation of their dressing. I’ve switched to Lemon Turmeric Vinaigrette & Marinade with Avocado Oil, available at Seattle’s PCC and made by the goofily named Primal Kitchen. Both contain(ed) turmeric and work well with this salad bowl, fuck yeah. Someday I’ll make my own dressing and post here to tell you about it.

Orange turmeric dressing from Chaco Canyon Cafe, nevermore?

PRIMAL SCREAM DRESSING

Let’s get into this

Each salad bowl serves one really hungry person. It’s a good meal to eat early in the day, and then you can go without eating much the rest of the day besides little things like an orange, a bunch of pumpkin seeds, maybe a small dish of lentils and veggies, etc.

When making this salad, in the interest of saving time, begin by initiating the prep for the two ingredients that take the longest: the edamame and the quinoa. Throw a saucepan on the stovetop and heat enough water in it to cover eight ounces of shelled edamame that you can pour out of a frozen bag into the saucepan once the water is at a roiling boil. You’ll then turn down the boil to a simmer and keep the heating edamame in there for, oh I don’t know, five or ten minutes or something, turning the temperature up a bit as necessary. The linked edamame is non-gmo soy. Probably not the best food in the world, but not bad at all either as far as I know, and an easy way to put a bunch of good protein into the salad bowl. For the quinoa, similarly throw another saucepan on the stovetop, and fill it with the appropriate amount of coconut milk. 3/4 cup of dry uncooked quinoa, a good amount for one of these salad bowls, needs a little more than twice that amount of coconut milk, say 1.75 or just under 2 cups. You want to bring this coconut milk in the heating saucepan to a roiling boil, then turn down the temperature so it’s simmering rather than making weird boiling evaporating coconut milk. The coconut milk will supply some cream-like taste and, unlike water, some protein. Pour the dry uncooked quinoa in, as well as some celtic salt (more trace minerals than regular salt) and a ton of turmeric spice. Stir, and keep stirring as you work on the other ingredients (below). Adjust temperature as necessary. Quinoa is challenging to make correctly; it takes practice; it requires the right temperature and proportions to get as much fluff/volume as possible without burning or otherwise messing up stuffz. All the turmeric-y, celtic salt-y coconut milk will eventually absorb into the quinoa, or otherwise vanish, leaving you with a basically liquidless saucepan full of yummy fluffy warm quinoa. The chief point of quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), a very high quality grain-like seed, is that it’s super high in protein (among other nutrients). Keep calm, plants have protein.

Heating up frozen, shelled edamame

Turmeric-y quinoa heating and fluffing up in coconut milk

Turmeric, a colorful yellow spice used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine and others, will make you STRONG if you consume it daily, enabling you to defeat enemies within and without. Although the nutritionist Dr. Michael Greger is a pro-gluten guy, whereas for me gluten (including the vegan staple seitan) causes GI problems (and the sources I trust say gluten causes problems for pretty much everybody, just in varying degrees), Greger’s videos/transcripts at NutritionFacts.org on turmeric have plenty of Science!-compliant information about the benefits of the spice. Greger recommends daily consumption, as do other experts. Turmeric improves exercise performance, seems promising for fighting Alzheimer’s and risk of Alzheimer’s, aids with anxiety and depression, and provides many more boons that really all you have to do to comprehend is read and experiment and turn off the blaring alarm bells we all (ok, almost all of us) seemingly have programmed in by TrumPharma-style propaganda insisting food is irrelevant, futility is maturity, curl up and die. Don’t listen to that nonsense, move forward with gobbling turmeric daily, and since it has doubled as a dye for centuries, if you get it everywhere like accident-prone me, try baking soda to remove the stains.

Next, with your ever mightier hands, seize the spinach and kale and tear off little pieces of each glorious green leafy vegetable. Then tear those little pieces into even littler pieces, because that’s quite like chewing your food before even putting it in your mouth. Hurried, we tend not to chew enough, which stresses our digestion as this great Seattle webpage on stress and nutrition explains. Put the tiny pieces of spinach and kale into the bowls. When I took the pictures included throughout this post, I was not yet hip to the idea of tearing ingredients into super small pieces, so my images here don’t reflect that kickass strategy…next time!

Spinach and kale are some of the most empowering vegetables you can eat. As the World’s Healthiest Foods website explains (see links above), both are very anti-inflammatory, and of all plant sources, kale is the firstmost, and spinach the secondmost, rich in the nutrient lutein, which protects eye health, a concern for computer types staring at glowing screens for epic stretches. [Note added 3 February 2020: a Seattle-based optometrist told me last month that lutein does not help with screen-induced vision problems, but that it does help with macular degeneration. I’ve no idea what is true in this regard, and the truth might be complicated, but I thought I’d make a note here. You should still get enough lutein!] Eating green leafy vegetables, i.e. kale and spinach, slows cognitive decline and is linked to sharper memory. And holy shit, according to the CDC in 2014, close to half of today’s adults in the United States will eventually develop type 2 diabetes; but, a systematic review and meta-analysis from 2010 suggests “increasing daily intake of green leafy vegetables could significantly reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.” Do you want be conquered, sublated into Team Bad News, victimized by TrumPharma ideology, stuck staring at the wall and mumbling Guess that was my life, or do you want to resist exuberantly by equipping yourself with kale and spinach? Eat kale and spinach, and you’ll turn into a rocket like Popeye. Boom.

Tell ’em, Popeye

Spinach, meet bowl

Spinach and bowl, meet kale

Moving right along, we have hulled sesame seeds. Often these can be easily purchased in bulk, poured from the bin into a cute container you can keep in the fridge for several weeks at least, before they start smelling rancid and need to be tossed. Sesame seeds provide iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium, and other needed nutrients, which human bodies are often depleted of and begging for, in little convenient seeds you can spread atop meals fast, no sweat. I want to tell you more about sesame seeds, but though it’s rainy and dark and cold here, I gotta get to the gym, not to brag but, if you need it, if you’re bleary-eyed on the couch watching forgettable Family Guy-type animated cartoons screech at you with piercing volume, to impart to you that it’s so thrilling, and endows you with such confidence and productivity, to actually build health and strength by doing fun stuff like going to the gym and eating this salad. Beating yourself up or briefly soaring in your skull using scam inspirational videos ain’t gonna help; pursue the little practical details one step at a time — maybe you need to find that old, unused pair of running shoes in the closet? That could be it for today. Accomplish that, then more tomorrow.

Sesame seeds from PCC

Sesame seeds snowing on kale and spinach

Time to rock and roll — no more pathetic Domino’s, engage the red cabbage and cucumber. Of all types of cabbage, World’s Healthiest Foods (see link above) recommends red cabbage (sometimes appearing purple in color) as the most nutritious. In the grocery store’s produce section, it’s a big sphere, purple-ish in my local place, hard and solid, doubles as a projectile weapon to hurl at opponents. Upping intake of red cabbage improves blood levels of beta-carotene, lutein, and total blood antioxidant capacity, while decreasing total cholesterol, total LDL cholesterol, and total oxidized LDL. Red cabbage’s anthocyanins make the vegetable a standout anti-inflammatory food. Domino’s doesn’t do any of that. Prepping the red cabbage is straightforward. Cut the head in half, and then just tear pieces off the halves with your badass bare hands (not so much the outermost layer, which can be inferior and touched by random environmental dirt grime etc). Smaller and smaller pieces, and then put the pieces in the bowl. And, cucumber. Scientific studies suggest cucumber is anti-diabetes food, according to the World’s Healthiest Website, which you totally would enjoy reading and reading and reading. Wash the cucumber off, put it on your cutting board, slice it up and put the slices in the bowl. You want to be on Team Bad News with the TrumPharma thing? Eat McDonald’s Quarter Pounders. Else, eat cucumber. Simple as that. You are what you eat.

Adding in red cabbage (added more later)

Get in there, cucumber

The above ingredients and the following one, avocado, you can add to the bowl in pretty much any order, but don’t forget to keep an eye on the edamame and quinoa on the stovetop burners. I don’t yet have proportions figured out for the kale, spinach, red cabbage, cucumber, sesame seeds, and dressing. Just put a bunch of each in to fill the bowl, gauging by what seems right. Eventually I’ll figure out nutritional information for the entire salad bowl, such as total number of calories and carbs, macronutrient ratios, etc.

My friend the avocado. You want to put a whole avocado in the salad bowl. And you might consider eating a whole avocado a day. They bring the cardiovascular, anti-inflammatory, phytonutrient, and other benefits. Plus they taste awesome. They’re messy as hell when I try to prep them, though. I attempt the “nick and peel” method, but I still get avocado all over my fingers and hands, and little flakes of avocado skin end up all over the floor and everywhere else. Here’s the nick and peel method, from the page on avocado from World’s Healthiest Foods (see link above), a method World’s Healthiest Foods gets from the California Avocado Commission:

Use a stainless steel knife to cut the avocado in half lengthwise. Gently twist the two halves in opposite direction if you find the flesh clinging to the pit. Remove the pit, either with a spoon or by spearing with the tip of a knife. Next, take each of the avocado halves and slice lengthwise to produce four avocado quarters. The use the California Avocado Commission’s “nick and peel” method to peel the avocado. Just take your thumb and index finger to grip an edge of the avocado skin and peel it away from the flesh, in exactly the same way that you would peel a banana.

Avocado added; blurry photo, dizzy with salubrius joy

Almost finished. Once Operation Quinoa has restored peace to the galaxy by allowing you to starve the TrumPharma types around the planet of their power, i.e., starve them of you, because you’re no longer getting drained by their vampirism and making them grow like giant bulbous monsters, but instead, you’re off doing cool things with all this sacred energy from this vegan, glutenfree, salad bowl — in other words, once the quinoa has finished cooking — scoop the quinoa out of the saucepan and onto some paper towels. Pat it dry with more paper towels. Dump it into the salad bowl. As for the edamame, which I don’t have any additional pictures of, once that’s finished, pour it out into a strainer sitting in the sink, shake the strainer to remove excess water, pat extra dry the strained edamame with paper towels, and then into the salad bowl it goes. Add dressing to taste. Stir the whole thing. Your mission is complete.

Who can disapprove of bold yellow quinoa?

My finished salad bowl from directly above, plus a gutter of kitchen tile on left

Now that you and I have made and chowed down on this amazing (but so far nameless) salad bowl, for great justice, we’re on Team Good News and ready to keep charging. I’m off the gym. One last thing. Since I can’t call my salad bowl a Bliss Bowl, as that’s Chaco Canyon Cafe’s version and not mine, I need some clever new name for my version. If — while you help me and others abolish states and corporations and more importantly replace them with prosocial structures — you come up with a name suggestion, please put it in the comments!

Creative Commons License

This blog post, How to make this amazing (but so far nameless) salad bowl, for great justice, by Douglas Lucas, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (human-readable summary of license). The license is based on a work at this URL: http://www.douglaslucas.com/blog/2020/01/07/how-to-make-this-amazing-but-so-far-nameless-salad-bowl-for-great-justice. You can view the full license (the legal code aka the legalese) here. For learning more about Creative Commons, I suggest this article and the Creative Commons Frequently Asked Questions. Seeking permissions beyond the scope of this license, or want to correspond with me about this post otherwise? Please email me: dal@riseup.net.

My Knee Looks Cool (under the Eye of MRI)

Sometime in October or November 2011 I underwent an MRI to better determine the extent of the damage my right knee took after a fall and the incident surrounding the fall, which I can’t really discuss due to a temporary court injunction. Nevertheless I can show you how cool my knee looks under a big magnet’s gaze.

Whoa, it’s, like, all knee and stuff!

Almost a decade ago I suffered a grade three (i.e. full) ACL tear in the same knee, and had surgery to build a new ligament thingy. So that explains the two titanium screws visible in the pics. Two orthopods told me this 2011 scan is not too terribly conclusive, and for now I’ll have to leave it at that.

Here’re my 27 knee MRI pics as a Flickr set. And here’s a post of mine about the MRI pictures of my brain! If I had an MRI in my backyard, I’d MRI everything.

OMG KNEE!

The skin on this knee bears a big scar from the surgery. I also have a hardcore scar on my other knee from walking into the edge of a truck’s front license plate (don’t do that). My third and final scar is on my chin, just below my mouth. I was bench-pressing and as the spotter happened to look away my suddenly puny pectorals failed and the bar slammed into my chin. Good thing it didn’t fall right in my face! The spotter was really apologetic (after I, cursing, returned from running laps around the gym to lighten the pain). Then I went hom; with blood all over me, I wasn’t Schwarzenegger enough to finish the set. Why not just stick to push-ups, folks?

Tonight a genius idea struck me: my brain MRI pics would look great on a T-shirt. Like so:

T-shirt’s Front

T-shirt’s Back

Except for consciousness, granular things, abstractions, etc., let’s digitize the world!

Creative Commons License

My Knee Looks Cool (under the Eye of MRI) by Douglas Lucas is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at www.douglaslucas.com. Seeking permissions beyond the scope of this license? Email me: dal@douglaslucas.com.

Man Versus Soap

WHY does soap have to be so complicated? The other day my wife handed me some alleged body wash that apparently claims as its primary function “exfoliation” — or “moisturizing” — or some other ludicrous buzzword. Look, soap marketing people, here’s what I want when I take a shower:

  • Stuff to shampoo my hair
  • Stuff to condition my hair
  • Stuff to clean my face
  • Stuff to clean my body

I do not need or want to infuse my hair or any other part of me with complexities, I don’t care about the bottle texts’ creativity, I just want to wash off, okay? Though…I admit…this might be fun to try out:

Caffeinated soap

P.S. I blogged this while about 30,000 feet over New Mexico and Texas!

This is your (my) MRI’ed brain on Babel Krieg

I’m a smart guy, but am I human? To transform the question into something more suspectible to an objective answer: Do I actually have a brain? Due to happy circumstances that I shouldn’t entirely disclose, recently I discovered — free of charge! — that I do indeed have a brain. Actually, I underwent brainy MRIs twice before, but it’s always a celebration to be reminded I have cerebration.

I can haz a brain!

To cerebrate or not to cerebrate, that is the question. Whether ’tis nobler to improve your kinesthetic sense, or perhaps field-guide to improve your mind’s eye instead? Those ways of thinking aren’t valued enough on too many of today’s life-altering tests. Ultimately, the best approach: develop what you could call good metacognition (cognition about one’s own cognition), or what you could call good intrapersonal skills (like social skills, except these govern the warring factions of your psyche). Then your brain might be as big as mine obviously is in these pictures.

More Machine than Man

To tell the truth, I’m no neuroscientist. (Although that was my first declared major at TCU.) Maybe my brain isn’t impressively sized. I remember once arguing with another kid — maybe I was five or six — about IQ tests. His thesis? IQ tests tell you ‘how smart you are.’ My retort? ‘I’m smart — and no damn test can convince otherwise!’ Apparently that means I’m stupid, since some study or other showed convincingly that most stupid people think they’re smart; or, were the tests stupid? Does it matter, for individuals guiding their lives? Just go learn! Now!

NES Contra Final Boss

Campaign to snailmail all 535 United States Congresspeople to ask for a genuine public option

I hereby announce my campaign to snailmail all 535 United States Congresspeople personalized letters before the year is out, in favor of a genuine, government-run public option. So far I’ve snailmailed 4; 531 to go.

Image: Timothy Morgan

(Image: Timothy Morgan)

Here’s sufficient info to learn how to snailmail members of the US Congress, regardless of what your stance is on whatever issue. Here’s a frequently-updated priority list of which US Congresspeople to contact in favor of a genuine public option, though you of course might choose others to write.

Maybe you doubt the efficacy of writing US Congresspeople. I understand, especially when, for instance, the pharmaceutical and health product industries lobbied the US Congress $1.2 million per day in the first three months of 2009 (not counting advertising & other efforts, including whatever’s under-the-table). Despite much information to the contrary, citizen snailmail (especially when personalized) does reach US Congresspeople, or at least their staff, without too much delay. Evidence:


  • In 2009 The Washington Post persuasively reported a professional lobbyist firm snailmailed astroturfed (fake grassroots) letters to US Representative Tom Perriello. So if they expect fake letters to work, you should expect real letters to work. I can’t resist mentioning Shakespeare: as the New York Times put it, “Generated mail is a pretty old idea. In Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar,’ Brutus is persuaded to assassinate Caesar in part by letters of support from the public — letters that were actually faked by Cassius ‘in several hands … as if they came from several citizens.'”

  • On 10 Sept 2006, The Pottsville Republican & Evening Herald published a story about a 10-year-old girl, Taryn Kitchenman, who wrote US Representative T. Timothy Holden a letter. She wrote him: “I was wondering instead of putting [the new playground] downtown right by the old one, could you put it in Arnots [her neighborhood]. I was wondering because we only have one playground and it is not that good. We don’t have swings, we don’t have a good basketball court. I am only 10, I am not allowed downtown. Try and help me.” She received a reply the same week. Presumably this was a snailmail letter (and not fax or email “letter”).

To prove that I’m serious about my campaign, below I’ll post the letter I sent US Representative Nancy Pelosi yesterday. In an attempt to protect myself against discrimination and stigmatization, I censored out a very small portion of the letter, though presumably the letter is now public record somewhere. I’ve also PDF’ed the letter so you can see the formatting in case you want a guide for your own snailmail. Because you’re going to write your own personalized letter(s) — or do something equivalent or better — right?

Douglas Lucas
[street address]
Fort Worth, TX 76109
[email address]

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Office of the Speaker
H-232, US Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

16 September 2009

Dear Representative:

I’m writing to support your insistence that a healthcare reform “bill without a strong public option will not pass the House” (your Press Release, 3 Sept. 2009), to agree with your statement that if “a vigorous public option is not included, it would be a major victory for the health insurance industry” (your Press Release, 3 Sept. 2009), to ask you to continue to insist on a strong, government-run public option — which, as you know, does not mean a co-op plan such as that of Senator Max Baucus — and to ask you to fight any spin attempting to pass off a co-op plan as a “public option.” I’m a self-employed writer and tutor in Fort Worth, Texas, and, just out of college, I’m working toward a public-school teaching certification. Like many Americans, I have a pre-existing condition — in my case, [type of pre-existing condition]. I lose my BC/BS disability coverage in February.

My medicine for this one illness alone costs nearly $1000 per month. Without reliable health insurance, I cannot responsibly teach public school. Sure, a school would provide me with group coverage, but what if I were laid off? COBRA only goes so far; high-risk pools only go so far. Just as you chose a career in civil service to help others, so I want to help others, and a government-run public option would give me a strong safety net so I could focus on teaching. A co-op plan wouldn’t have the membership clout needed to compete with private insurance. The Iowa state government tried a nonprofit co-op — and it died in two years (New York Times, 17 Aug 2009). Just like a trigger plan, a co-op plan would take longer to start than a government-run plan, and we don’t have any more time. According to a 2007 American Journal of Medicine study, an American family files for bankruptcy in the aftermath of an illness every 30 seconds. In 2009 the Center for American Progress explained that every day, 14,000 Americans lose their health insurance: 2,190 in your state, 470 in mine. Every day. It is a moral issue.

Thank you for fighting in favor of a strong, government-run public option. Please keep fighting.

Sincerely,

[hand signature]

Douglas Lucas

Can I Have Some Healthcare Reform Democracy Please

The public option, says the Chicago Tribune in 2009, is a “government-sponsored insurance policy [that] would be offered alongside private plans.” It’s a Medicare-like option American citizens could select voluntarily if they so desired, and that taxed American citizens would pay for, as they already pay for other public goods/services ranging from air traffic control to zoos.

In an effort to take some of the right-wing food coloring out of the swimming pool, here’s some information, as opposed to dis-information. By itself, the information below doesn’t prove the public option a good thing (though the public option is a good thing). But it does make you sigh and wonder where the hell the (representational, constitutional) United States democracy has gone off to. Here’s a hint about some of the above-the-table answers.

If you hate the public option but still want a lesson out of this, it’s that you should look at primary sources as much as possible when learning stuff. Preliminary research seems to indicate teens today, for example, have practically no media literacy training and typically don’t think about sources’ credibility.  Finally, you should watch President Obama’s speech about healthcare reform tomorrow (Wednesday September 9th), which might change the ballgame quite a bit.

N.B. The information below is subject to irrelevancy as time marches on.

Click the graph below to see that the American citizenry definitely supports the public option. Sources: Quinnepac (July); Washington Post / ABC (June); New York Times / CBS (June); Wall Street Journal / NBC (June); if you want the others, you could start by looking at the source information near the bottom of this page.

Americans support public option

A supposedly Chinese curse says, “May you live in interesting times.”