Category Archives: science news

‘Impending doom’?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Dr. Rochelle Walensky is frightened at what she calls “impending doom” over the future of our nation’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

I think that if the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention worries about the virus, well, I think we all should worry, too. So, with that I’ll declare that I share Dr. Walensky’s concern.

President Biden is asking governors to reinstitute mask mandates. He is urging Americans to keep wearing masks. To keep practicing social distancing. To not congregate among strangers.

Yes, the nation has seen a decline in positive tests, in hospitalizations and in deaths from the pandemic. However, it appears that too many of us ae letting down our guard against the virus. It’s still killing Americans!

The Hill reports: “I’m going to lose the script, and I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom. We have so much to look forward to so much promise and potential of where we are, and so much reason for hope. But right now I’m scared,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing Monday. 

Spare me the criticism that she’s a doomsayer. That she’s crying “wolf!” where none exists. That she, in the words of the immediate ex-president, is an “idiot,” which is the label he hung on Dr. Anthony Fauci.

CDC director warns of ‘impending doom’ on potential new COVID-19 surge | TheHill

European Union nations are locking down again. Do we really want to join them? Do we dare allow this virus to seize control of our lives?

I am becoming increasingly concerned, too, that too many states might have let their guard down prematurely. Yes, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, that’s you, too!

I have no solutions to this, other than to echo Dr. Walensky’s concern. If she is worried about where we might be moving, then so am I.

Senator fuels peeve list

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

My list of pet peeves is lengthy.

It includes watching a politician lecture an expert on matters the expert knows far better than the lecturing politician.

My latest example of that occurred Thursday when U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, patronized Dr. Anthony Fauci over the value of wearing masks as a weapon to use against the killer coronavirus.

To be totally fair, I should stipulate that Sen. Paul is an MD. He is an ophthalmologist, so he isn’t a layman the way I am a layman. However, to listen to Sen./Dr. Paul lecture Dr. Fauci during a Senate committee hearing about whether mask wearing actually combats the virus makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

I guess I should declare once more that Fauci is the world’s pre-eminent infectious disease expert. He is The Man, the go-to guy, the doc who has served seven U.S. presidents from both political parties.

Fauci said categorically that wearing a mask is effective in preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, along with social distancing, frequent hand-washing and other measures.

Rand Paul persisted in trying to make whatever political point he wanted to make at Fauci’s expense. Dr. Fauci wasn’t having any of it.

I was delighted to hear Dr. Fauci push back hard against the know-it-all U.S. senator.

Abbott invites danger

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

OK, I listened to most of Gov. Greg Abbott’s talk at the Lubbock restaurant.

The Texas governor has rescinded a statewide mask mandate and told all business owners who cater to all clientele that they are now free to open “100 percent,” despite the presence of COVID-19 virus that is still infecting Texans and other Americans.

I have decided to ignore Abbott’s recommendation. I am going instead to heed the call of President Biden who is asking us to wear masks at least for the first 100 days of his administration.

Biden is making the more prudent decision. As for the business reopening, most of ’em will have to make that trip back without me, and likely without my bride as well.

I’m staying the course in mitigating the effects of the killer virus. It could have claimed a member of my immediate family and the memory of that frightening experience is too damn fresh in my mind to ignore.

Be careful.

And now … a good word about Operation Warp Speed

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Admittedly, this blog has spent a great deal of time, emotional energy and cyberspace over the past four years bashing, slashing and smashing at the Donald J. Trump administration.

Trump is about to exit the political stage in less than 30 days. I now want to say a good word about what — in a normal world — should stand as an enduring legacy to his term in office.

This isn’t a normal world. Operation Warp Speed is a creation of someone within the White House to define the mission of finding a vaccine for the coronavirus that has killed more than 300,000 Americans and nearly 2 million people around the world.

The COVID-19 virus arrived early this year. Trump dragged his feet in recognizing publicly the peril it posed. Then he owned up to its consequence. He also announced the strategy he said would expedite the research and development of a vaccine that could cure the world of the pandemic.

Trump predicted during his failed re-election campaign that we could have a vaccine by the end of the year. Skeptics scoffed. I don’t recall speaking directly to Trump’s boast, but it did ring a bit hollow. Others in the White House task force formed to come up with a response strategy said it would take longer.

Well, guess what. Donald Trump was right. Pfizer and Moderna have produced highly efficient vaccines that are now being administered around the world. A third pharmaceutical firm, AstraZeneca, is about to bring a vaccine on line.

There is plenty of debate about the impact that Operation Warp Speed had in delivering these vaccines. Some experts say the drug firms were well on the way to producing it already; others give Warp Speed a ton of credit for goosing the companies to delivering the goods in a timely fashion.

I am willing to dole out praise to Donald Trump for providing some of the impetus to get this vaccine developed and approved. But not all of it. Indeed, I am weary beyond belief of hearing Trump take undue credit for work that others did.

Drug company researchers and scientists worked their butts off to produce a vaccine with an efficacy level that experts have called “extraordinary.” Yet there was Trump the other day stepping into the limelight to say that no other politician in human history could have produced those kinds of results.

Mr. President, the program that came to be under your watch has done well. Accept the congratulations that belong mostly to the researchers … and then get the hell out of the way.

Turning the COVID corner? Hah!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

OK, Mr. President, let’s lay it on the table, shall we?

You keep saying we are “turning the corner” on the coronavirus pandemic. That is a lie. Which isn’t a surprise, given your penchant for lying.

Damn near every state in the Union is experiencing an increase in coronavirus infections. Yes, some of those states see a decline in deaths, which of course is good news.

But for criminy sakes, dude, stop lying about “turning the corner.” We aren’t turning anything resembling a corner in this fight.

Joe Biden has built his electoral lead on the back of your consistent denial over the seriousness of the killer disease. Holy cow, man! Didn’t your own infection, or the infections of your wife and son, Barron, teach you anything? Don’t answer that. I know it didn’t.

I’m glad you’re better. I am particularly glad to know that the first lady and young Barron are OK, too. Your cavalier attitude about the coronavirus, though, only proves your unfitness for the office you want to keep.

So, with that I guess I could ask you to keep up the charade.

Many millions of us know better than to buy into the nonsense you seek to peddle.

There he goes again … taking undue credit

There he was yet again, Donald John “Braggart in Chief” Trump taking credit he doesn’t deserve for the return of the U.S. manned space program.

Trump slathered himself with praise over the successful launch Saturday of the SpaceX rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla., saying that only on his watch could this effort have become a reality.

Actually, it was the result of an effort began a decade ago during the Barack H. Obama administration, which in fact was a continuation of an effort started during the George W. Bush administration.

According to National Public Radio: “Today is the culmination of three and a half years of renewed leadership in space,” said Vice President Pence, who called the launch “a tribute to the vision and leadership of a president who, from the very first days of this administration, was determined to revive NASA and American leadership in human space exploration.”

C’mon, man! Get real!

Yes, I have lamented the end of the space shuttle program, even with its two disastrous missions — Challenger’s explosion in 1986 and Columbia’s disintegration in 2003. However, the SpaceX program initiated by Elon Musk now holds a huge new promise of manned space flight for the United States, as it was demonstrated Saturday with the launch and the successful docking today with the International Space Station.

It has been many years in the making, long before Donald Trump soiled the presidency with his presence in the Oval Office.

But that wouldn’t dissuade Trump and Pence from taking undue credit. Hey, it’s an election year … so I’ll presume that everything now becomes fair campaign game.

Disgusting.

Finally, something to cheer!

Amid all the gloom and grief, and all the mayhem and misery associated with a global pandemic and the death of a man at the hands of brutal cops in Minneapolis, Minn., I found time today to cheer an event for which I have been waiting.

At around 2:30 p.m., Central Daylight Time, a rocket launched from Pad 39A at Cape Canaveral, Fla. It carried two American astronauts into orbit. It was the first launch of Americans from a U.S. launching pad in nearly a decade.

Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are orbiting Earth and will dock sometime tomorrow with the International Space Station.

I could not believe the flutter in my heart this afternoon as they counted down the final seconds before the launch. Then the Space X rocket lit up and burst off the pad toward Earth orbit.

NASA and Space X have teamed up for a historic event and this one was worth cheering … loudly, in fact. I was thrilled in a way I hadn’t been thrilled since I was a whole lot younger watching the early launches of the American space program with my mother.

Indeed, I thought of Mom today as I watched Space X roar into space, wondering how she would have reacted to the sight of Americans zooming into the heavens aboard an American-made rocket, from a U.S. launch pad. Mom would be proud, too.

Space X is the product of a company owned by Elon Musk, the zillionaire owner of Tesla. His company has designed a fantastic space vehicle. I noticed how they first-stage rocket was able to soft-land on a drone ship at sea in good enough shape to be used again on a subsequent space flight.

This is really cool stuff, man. It’s cool for those of us old enough to remember the excitement and romance that used to be associated with space travel.

I am no Pollyanna. I know this is expensive, even with a privately ownership taking the lead on this kind of exploration. However, I have long believed — and always will believe — that humanity was put on this good Earth to venture as far as possible to explore.

I am just glad to see American technology being brought back into the picture once again to take that next “giant leap for mankind.”

Given the troubling context of the times, it was a welcome sight to this old man’s eyes.

Looking forward to this launch

It has been a good while since I’ve felt this kind of excitement preceding the launch of a rocket ship … but here it is.

They’re going to fire a rocket into space on Wednesday with two astronauts aboard. The launch will occur at Cape Canaveral, Fla. The rocket will be a Space-X ship and it will take place under the auspices of NASA, the U.S. space agency. The rocket will ferry the astronauts to the International Space Station.

It’s been more than a decade that U.S. astronauts have launched from an American launch pad. We have been flying Americans into space aboard ships launched from Russia.

The Space-X launch is a big deal in that it signals a potential return of manned space flight in the nation was able to put men on the moon, was able to set many space-flight records.

I plan to watch the launch when it occurs Wednesday.

My excitement over this launch is beginning to remind me of how excited I used to get when I was a boy. I would awaken every morning during the Mercury space program of the 1960s. I would watch and wait — and then wait some more during the delays — with my mother. We would cheer the Redstone rockets as they lifted off the pad. They graduated to the Atlas rockets for the orbital flights. Eventually we would cheer the monstrous Saturn rockets as they hurled astronauts toward the moon.

I certainly got excited during the launch of the initial space shuttle launches, beginning in April 1981 when the Columbia took off with John Young and Robert Crippen aboard.

The shuttle program ended. Since then we have relied on the Russians to take our men and women into space.

Now we’re getting back into the space game with the Space-X ship set to take off.

I’ll be in front of the TV … cheering the launch just like the old days.

‘I don’t know who he is; I’ve never met him’

Donald J. Trump’s response to the scathing testimony from a fellow he demoted in the midst of an infectious disease pandemic speaks volumes to me.

Dr. Richard Bright is now a whistleblower who is reporting to Congress about what he believes are serious shortcomings in Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Bright once led the administration’s effort to search for a vaccine to fight the virus, but then questioned whether Trump was correct to push a drug with little known affect on the COVID-19 virus.

Trump got angry and pushed Bright aside, sent him to a midlevel post in the National Institutes of Health.

OK, so Trump responded Thursday to a question about Bright’s testimony. He said he doesn’t “know him; I’ve never met him.” He said he doesn’t “want to meet him” and that Bright sounds like a “disgruntled employee.”

Let’s ponder that response for just a moment.

If Donald Trump is telling the truth — and that is a highly dubious presumption — then he has just revealed to the world precisely why his pandemic response has been such a hideous failure to date. The man chosen to lead the vaccine research effort is unknown to the commander in chief who wants to be known as a “wartime president”?

Suppose, too, that Trump is lying, that he really has met Dr. Bright; that tells me plenty as well about Trump’s reliability, his leadership and his command of the situation.

Bright said the fight against the pandemic lacks a coordinated national effort. Gosh, who do you suppose should be providing that national coordination? Hey, I’ll take a stab at it: The responsibility belongs to the president of the United States.

He has failed!

As Bright told the congressional committee: “We’re in deep s**t.”

Politicians should cease setting back-to-normal schedules

The feeble efforts by human beings to predict when they’ll be able to declare victory in a fight against a deadly virus make me want to … pull my hair out by the roots.

One such human being happens to be the president of the United States, who keeps insisting he has a preferred date in mind when he can start relaxing guidelines brought to bear by the coronavirus pandemic.

How many times must we tell Donald John “Stable Genius” Trump what should be patently obvious? Politicians cannot dictate to a deadly virus when it should stop sickening and killing human beings! We need science to determine when that will occur. We need human beings with deep scientific backgrounds and experience battling infectious disease to take the lead on this endeavor.

Donald Trump wants to establish some “flexible guidelines” that would dictate whether or to lift some of the stay at home directives that governors have issued. He keeps saying he wants a May 1 deadline to reopen the economy; then he talks about some states loosening restrictions even sooner than that!

C’mon! Let’s quit this game-playing!

We need science-based facts. We need to stop trying to outmaneuver a virus. Here is one more obvious fact that still needs to be brought up once more: A killer virus is no respecter of human deadlines, human wishes and human goals.