Category Archives: science news

Docs are invaluable

These social media messages can be so instructive. This one caught me eye and I want to share it.

The nimrods who bitch about the doctors, scientists, researchers and drug company executives are all too willing to throw themselves at their feet when they get sick.

The COVID-19 virus continues to ravage us. It is infecting us at an alarming rate … still! Yet we hear from the red-state rubes that they don’t trust the vaccines being offered; they mistrust the advice of learned medical and scientific professionals, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the world’s pre-eminent infectious disease expert; they rely on livestock medication that the docs say is bad for you.

Then they get sick. They are hospitalized. Then they depend on the very same docs who warned them to get vaccinated, to mask up, to practice social distancing; they want those folks to make ’em better.

Hypocrisy? You bet!

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Are they astronauts? No!

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Sir Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos have flown to the edge of space.

I have heard a bit of chatter in recent days over whether these two zillionaire business moguls are astronauts now that they have “slipped the surly bonds of Earth,” if only for a few minutes.

I’ll go with “no.” They are not astronauts. They are rich guys who hired space professionals to do the heavy lifting. They were merely passengers aboard their respective ships.

The others? I’ll give Wally Funk — the 82-year-old female test pilot — a pass on the astronaut claim. She flew on Bezos’s mission alongside Bezos and two others. She had trained to fly as an astronaut in the early 1960s; then NASA killed the woman in space program, denying Funk the chance to actually fly into space.

I once got into a snit (one of many) with a critic of this blog, the late Andrew Ryan, over my dismissal of U.S. Sens. Jake Garn and Bill Nelson, who flew aboard two shuttle missions. I declined to consider them astronauts, even though they trained alongside the space pros with whom they flew. I’ll concede that Andy Ryan was right and I was wrong about Garn, a Utah Republican and Nelson, a Florida Democrat.

Oh, and what about the third U.S. senator to fly on a shuttle mission? You’ve heard of this guy: John Glenn, an Ohio Democrat. He flew as a Mercury astronaut in February 1962, the first American to orbit Earth. Thirty-six years later, he took part in a Discovery shuttle mission.

Two very cool things about Glenn’s shuttle flight need mentioning. One is that NASA’s other astronauts did not need to translate the language they spoke while training with Glenn; the great man was fluent in astronaut-speak. The second aspect of the launch was when the shuttle’s engines ignited and the ship lifted off, the public address announcer declared the launch of Discovery carrying “six astronaut heroes and one American legend.”

Bezos and Branson may be legends in their own minds. Neither of them is an astronaut.

Biden’s not to ‘blame’

John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I am among the last people on Earth to criticize the media, given that I am among those who are still pursuing the craft (more or less) and that I believe the media are doing a good job of reporting the news.

That all said, I want to chide the media for suggesting/implying/inferring that President Biden is somehow to “blame” for the administration falling short of its goal of achieving “herd immunity” against the COVID pandemic by the Fourth of July.

Let us ponder this briefly …

Joe Biden promised to make the vaccines available to anyone who wants it. He delivered the goods there. The shortfall in getting 70 % percent of the nation inoculated is because of those who have bought into the right-wing claptrap about the vaccines.

President Biden has done what he can do. He has sought to persuade Americans that the vaccines are effective and will not cause undue harm to anyone who receives any of them.

Biden inherited a mess when he took office. The previous administration botched many aspects of its handling of the pandemic from the get-go. Yes, it enacted Operation Warp Speed in its effort to get vaccines developed and for that I am grateful. But the previous POTUS managed to contradict and undermine the medical experts he brought on board at every turn.

We continue to make progress against the pandemic, although it has slowed dramatically with the delta variant surge that has kicked the Biden administration in the teeth.

As for putting “blame” on President Biden for falling short of its herd immunity goal, well, the media should look instead at those who are outshouting the rest of us with their baseless condemnation of the vaccines.

We just didn’t know about this

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Mary Wallace Funk is my newest hero.

She goes these days by the name of Wally Funk. She became a household name this morning when she rocketed for a few moments into space aboard Jeff Bezos’s rocket that took off from the Trans-Pecos region Texas.

Why is she my hero? Because as a boy I was keenly interested in the space program created during the Eisenhower administration, developed later during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. However, there appears to have been huge gap in my knowledge of the early years.

I did not know a thing about the women who took part in those early developmental years. Wally Funk was one of them. She trained right along with the Mercury Seven astronauts selected to be the space pioneers. Then the National Aeronautics and Space Administration canceled the women’s program. So help me I do not recall ever hearing about this program as I was being taught in public school way back then in Portland, Ore.

Wally Funk becomes oldest person to fly to space 60 years after she was denied the opportunity (nbcnews.com)

Wally Funk never got to fly into space.

Until this morning a little after 8. She and Bezos and his brother Mark and Oliver Daemen, a teenager from The Netherlands rocketed off the desert floor near Van Horn. They zoomed to the edge of space. They were weightless for a few moments. Then they returned.

She trained right along with the Bezos brothers and Daemen. Jeff Bezos joked that just as Wally Funk outperformed her male colleagues in the late 1950s and early 1960s, she did the same while training for the rocket ride aboard the Blue Origin ship named New Shepard.

What’s important to note here is that Funk now is the oldest person to fly to space. She broke a 23-year-old record held by a fellow who flew as part of the Mercury program in 1962 and then took part in 1998 as a crew member aboard the shuttle Discovery. You’ve heard of this guy: the late John Glenn. As an aside, I still get chills when I watch the shuttle blast off with Sen. Glenn aboard and the NASA communicator announces the launch of the ship carrying “six astronaut heroes and one American legend.”

Well, Wally Funk likely won’t ascend to legendary status.

However, as of this morning this intrepid pioneer is my newest hero.

Well done, Wally Funk.

UFOs? Absolutely

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

A few of the leading media talking heads have been yapping lately about unidentified flying objects.

Which brings me to this question: Do I believe in UFOs?

You bet I do!

Now, before you think I have flown off the rails, I need to stipulate one important caveat: I do not believe that UFOs are alien beings that have flown to Earth to invade us, to observe us, or to just make us ask dumb questions.

I also want to stipulate that I have seen hundreds of UFOs over my more than seven decades on Earth. I don’t what they are. Hence, they were “unidentified.” However, this speculation from some media types about whether the UFOs might be from some world out there carries as much weight as the discussions about a second gunman in Dealey Plaza the day President Kennedy was murdered … which is to say that I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted all by himself.

This UFO chatter serves only to give some folks something about which to talk. That’s it.

I am not inclined to get into any discussion about whether we’ve been visited by space creatures. It’s just not in my wheelhouse.

However, we need to come up with another name for those things we see that we cannot identify. The term “UFO” takes on an entirely different meaning that it does not deserve.

‘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.