Daily Archives: May 9, 2020

(Science Mag) ‘Finally, a virus got me.’ Scientist who fought Ebola and HIV reflects on facing death from COVID-19

I shared a room with a homeless person, a Colombian cleaner, and a man from Bangladesh—all three diabetics, incidentally, which is consistent with the known picture of the disease. The days and nights were lonely because no one had the energy to talk. I could only whisper for weeks; even now, my voice loses power in the evening. But I always had that question going around in my head: How will I be when I get out of this?

After fighting viruses all over the world for more than 40 years, I have become an expert in infections. I’m glad I had corona and not Ebola, although I read a scientific study yesterday that concluded you have a 30% chance of dying if you end up in a British hospital with COVID-19. That’s about the same overall mortality rate as for Ebola in 2014 in West Africa. That makes you lose your scientific level-headedness at times, and you surrender to emotional reflections. They got me, I sometimes thought. I have devoted my life to fighting viruses and finally, they get their revenge. For a week I balanced between heaven and Earth, on the edge of what could have been the end.

I was released from the hospital after a long week. I traveled home by public transport. I wanted to see the city, with its empty streets, its closed pubs, and its surprisingly fresh air. There was nobody on the street—a strange experience. I couldn’t walk properly because my muscles were weakened from lying down and from the lack of movement, which is not a good thing when you’re treating a lung condition. At home, I cried for a long time. I also slept badly for a while. The risk that something could still go seriously wrong keeps going through your head. You’re locked up again, but you’ve got to put things like that into perspective. I now admire Nelson Mandela even more than I used to. He was locked in prison for 27 years but came out as a great reconciler.

I have always had great respect for viruses, and that has not diminished. I have devoted much of my life to the fight against the AIDS virus. It’s such a clever thing; it evades everything we do to block it. Now that I have felt the compelling presence of a virus in my body myself, I look at viruses differently. I realize this one will change my life, despite the confrontational experiences I’ve had with viruses before. I feel more vulnerable.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

(CT) Dante Stewart–Ahmaud Arbery and the Trauma of Being a Black Runner

I was a college athlete; now I run and bike. I’ve run half marathons and completed an Ironman. But I can’t enjoy it like I used to. Where is the joy and freedom of getting out on the road, of training my body, when I have to wonder if one day I won’t make it to the end? I’ve been running all my life, and in some ways now, I have to run to keep it. My wife is legit afraid of getting that call: Your husband is dead.

Many believe that cases like the attack on Ahmaud Arbery are isolated. Or that they’re the kind of thing that can only happen in the South. No, this society has been taught anti-blackness. We see it in how they police our movements, criminalize our humanity, and avoid racial reckoning while enjoying the fruit that came from rotten trees—trees from which my ancestors hung lifeless.

Those wounds run deep even as I run today for my future, for my people, and even for my life. It’s a trauma that black Americans are forced to face, the tragic conditions of oppression, the audacity of whiteness. I couldn’t help but wonder: Why do they hate us so much?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Theology

(FT) Gillian Tett–Is it safe to go to the shops, see a friend or get on a plane? How to assess risk in the age of coronavirus

…our sense of risk in an epidemic is shaped by the question of who we think has the responsibility for handling it. [Anette] Mikes, for example, identifies four overlapping patterns in how different social groups handle risk. Sometimes it is considered the responsibility of individuals to manage risk (under the principle of caveat emptor). On other occasions there is a more egalitarian approach: everyone in a community voluntarily tries to protect everyone else. A third framework uses hierarchical controls: leaders manage risk by issuing orders.

Then there is a fourth option: fatalism, when nobody tries to manage risks at all.

In peaceful times, we do not often define which of these four approaches we rely on to keep us safe; or not unless we work in jobs explicitly focused on measuring or trading risk, such as finance (where the concept of caveat emptor often collides with hierarchical rules). But Covid-19 crystallises this. Some of us may want to handle the dangers of an epidemic in an individualistic way, like those Lansing protesters. Others, such as the governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, who imposed the lockdown, think that hierarchical controls are needed.

Nearly all of us probably have an egalitarian instinct too: we want to avoid infecting ourselves and each other. But few citizens — let alone politicians — want to stipulate explicitly how anyone should prioritise these approaches. Nor do many want to resort to the fourth option: fatalism.

So where does that leave governments and citizens? In a state of confusing flux, it seems, in most countries….

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

Another Prayer for Easter from Frederick B. Macnutt

O God, Who by Thine only-begotten Son hast destroyed the reign of death, and hast made us partakers of the kingdom of Thy love: grant, we beseech Thee, that as Thou hast begotten us again unto a living hope by His Resurrection, so also we may be kept by His power through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in Him, where He reigneth with Thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

Posted in Easter, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Finally, brethren, we beseech and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you learned from us how you ought to live and to please God, just as you are doing, you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from unchastity; that each one of you know how to take a wife for himself in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like heathen who do not know God; that no man transgress, and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we solemnly forewarned you. For God has not called us for uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

But concerning love of the brethren you have no need to have any one write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do love all the brethren throughout Macedo′nia. But we exhort you, brethren, to do so more and more, to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we charged you; so that you may command the respect of outsiders, and be dependent on nobody.

–1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

Posted in Theology: Scripture