My previous essay was entitled Vaccine Hesitancy. I follow that essay with a similar title, Vaccine Hesitancy 2.0, because I think this is a very important issue that needs urgent attention. The fourth surge can be entirely laid at the feet of the unvaccinated, as it is only the unvaccinated that require hospitalization and are the ones that are dying. Folks, there is no one else to blame. I am puzzled by this new phenomenon, which in my half-century experience in medicine and surgery has never come up, except in a group of people called anti-vaccers, who refuse to vaccinate their children for a variety of reasons, religion, fear of autism, and just general kookiness. But to see almost half the population fear vaccination is a new phenomenon. I have heard some pretty screwball reasons for not getting vaccinated. For instance I don’t want to become sterile, or they inject microchips into you so they can control you, or Bill Gates and Anthony Fauci created the virus so they could profit from the sale of vaccines. These are among many more crazy conspiracy theories that are just off the wall. Two main demographics are afraid to get vaccinated, white Republican males and people of color. There are not many characteristics linking these two diverse groups. But both have a deep-rooted distrust of big government. I think it is that issue that fuels most of the fear of vaccination.
Past vaccinations have mostly come from medical research and have been promoted by the medical profession. This is the first time that the government has been the agency that has promoted vaccination. I have given a lot of vaccinations over the last half-century and have not seen any serious consequences. I realize that bad things can happen, but they are extremely rare, like one in a million. The purpose of vaccination is to eliminate the much more serious consequence of the diseases that they are designed to fight. Those diseases have a mortality of a lot higher than one in a million.
When I was drafted into the military during the Vietnam conflict, I was the physician in charge of the vaccination program at my Base. I did not give the shots. My nurses did that, even though most of them outranked me. I was just a Captain then, and many of them had been in the military much longer and were Majors or higher, but I was professionally higher in rank. As soon as the FDA fully approves the Covid vaccines, the military will incorporate those vaccines in their mandated panel, as the danger of having the majority of the fighting force open to this plague is an untenable risk to national security.
- COVID-19 (corona virus)
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Japanese encephalitis
- Meningococcal meningitis
- Pneumococcal disease
- Tick-borne encephalitis
- Yellow Fever
- Covid-19 still voluntary at this point
But in two years and thousands of doses, I did not have one serious event, including getting mine. The worst was a couple of recruits who fainted. See above for the shortlist of vaccinations that could be given depending on the deployment of the soldier. Working in emergency rooms for more time than I care to admit, I shot a lot of DPT, and DT (Diphtheria +Pertussis+ Tetanus and Diphtheria+Tetanus) vaccine into people’s arms, along with a lot of MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) and Trivalent Polio Vaccine during my days as a General Practitioner, again not one significant reaction. But a lot of kids did not get Measles, Mumps, Rubella, or Polio, all of which have serious consequences, including death, and Rubella can cause horrible heart defects, brain abnormalities, diabetes, and deafness if a pregnant mother should get it. Until Jonas Salk came up with his Polio vaccine, a lot of people got “Infantile Paralysis,” which destroyed their lives! I remember the braces that some of my schoolmates had to wear so they could walk. The “Iron Lungs” on the Polio wards at LA Couty Hospital during my Internship were a sad testament to those that did not get vaccinated.
The Covid vaccines are very safe and statically more so than all the ones I used, which have a risk ratio of 1 to 1,000,000 of serious reactions. The Johnson and Johnson, the supposedly most dangerous of the Covid vaccines, has a death risk of 1 to 3,500,000, making it three and one-half times safer than what I dished out. People please get a grip! Think and look at the evidence! It is not rocket science! The anti-vacc rhetoric is changing. More and more radio and TV personalities are promoting getting vaccinated in their message. Even Phil Valentine, a well known conservative Radio personality who is seriously ill with Covid, is pleading with his audience to go get vaccinated! Add to that Mitch McConnell (Senate Minority Leader), Steve Scalise (Minority Whip), Sean Hannity, Steve Doocy (both Fox TV hosts), every physician member of Congress on both sides of the aisle, 17 in all, except for Rand Paul who has had Covid, Kamala Harris, Karim Abdul-Jabbar, Barack and Michelle Obama, Tyler Perry, Rupert Murdoch (conservative billionaire and owner of Fox), and many more.
55 professional organizations produced a joint statement to demand all workers in health and long term care should be mandated to be vaccinated including: The American Academy of Family Practice (AAFP), the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American College of Pharmacy, American College of Physicians, American College of Surgeons, American Medical Association (AMA), American Nursing Association (ANA), American Pharmacists Association, American Psychiatric Association (APA), American Society of Hematology (ASH), Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), American Hospital Association (AHA), and more! All UC schools have just announced they will mandate vaccination and most colleges and universities across the country have done the same or are on the verge of mandating vaccinations. These are some of the smarter people we have on this planet. I leave it to you to decide what that makes you? If you do not believe our doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and academics, nothing I say will change your mind. I feel sorry for you, and “MAY GOD HELP YOU!”
Even Donald Trump and Melania got their vaccination, for God’s Sake!
Pandemics have been around forever. One of the earliest discovered was from 3000 BC, ironically in a village in China that was wiped out, killing everyone. In 430 BC the Plague of Athens killed 100,000. The Antonine Plague 165 to 180 AD in the Roman Empire, killed as many as 10,000,000. The Plague of Justinian, 527-565 AD made several appearances said to have reduced the population of the world by 10%. The Black Death also made multiple appearances, starting in Asia and marching across Europe through Russia, France, and England. An estimated 60% of the world’s population succumbed to the Plague. The Spanish Flu, 1918-1920 infected 500,000,000, with 20% dying, the worst pandemic so far. There have been many more, at least 20 major pandemics, defined as a mortality of several millions up to 60% of an entire continent, and a few hundred of lesser pandemics and local epidemics. I don’t know if Covid 19 with 4,070,341 deaths (Johns Hopkins estimates to date) has yet made into the major league.
I am amazed by the resistance to vaccination. It is unbelievable that so many are willing to shoot themselves in the foot out of ignorance. It is not a political issue. It is not a constitutional issue. It is a health life and death issue. Vaccines have been around for several hundred years ever since Edward Jenner discovered that giving people an infection with a weaker virus prevents the deadly form of smallpox from killing you. Absolutely everything we do just by living, does have risks. Lightning kills 1 person in 15,000. You are more likely to get killed by a Sunday drive in the country. Car accidents have a lifetime risk of 1 death in 100 people. We all eat. The odds of dying from choking on food is 1 in 2535. Drowning, electrocution, and natural disasters all are risks we face every day, not to mention the myriad of all the allergic, traumatic, and other viral, bacterial, degenerative, and autoimmune diseases that lurk around every corner. 40% of humans get cancer sometime during their life, and anywhere from 20 to 50% will die of it depending on the type of cancer and at what stage it is discovered. The death rate of the vaccine is 1 in 3,500,000. The risk of death if you get Covid 19 is 2% (1 in 50) for the unvaccinated and 0 for the Covid vaccinated. Does that give you a hint?
I do understand our right not to have anything injected into us. That would be a constitutional right, but by you exercising your constitutional right infringes with my constitutional right not to get the virus from you. That means you must stay away from me, and I need to know who you are. You will need to wear an armband, or better yet, a tattoo on your forehead, as well as a mask.
Everyone that goes to school must be vaccinated. Every military enlisted person must have multiple vaccinations, as I did when I was drafted during Vietnam. If you drive a car, you must be insured, and you must obey all the rules of the road. You are not allowed to walk around with a gun at your side. And you certainly cannot go around shooting people, and by extension, you cannot spray your Covid 19 on me.
Shifting the goal post in dealing with this pandemic has been confusing and admittedly unfair. Wear a mask, don’t wear a mask, wear two masks, keep a distance of 3 feet from other people, now keep a 6 foot distance, or maybe 15 feet. Unfortunately, science is not infallible and not always right. It is an evolving field as new knowledge and new developments are introduced. When I learned my trade fifty years ago, I was taught the sum total of medical knowledge of the time. Fifty years later, most of that does not apply anymore. If I did 90% of what I do as I learned it, I would be sued or, worse, go to jail. There are obligations and even mandates we must obey if we live in a communal society. If we do not conform to the required standard, society has a right to take corrective action. Depending on what risks we pose to our fellow man, society can reprimand us, imprison us, all the way to executing us, which by the way the constitution allows and is not unconstitutional, by far more of an infringement than having you wear a mask, I think. I am surprised that lawsuits have not materialized if you can prove that someone or some institution contributed to your getting infected.
It is not comprehensible to me as to why the most vaccine-hesitant are Republican males and people of color. It is because of Donald Trump’s efforts that the vaccines have become available as quickly as they have. And everyone in Trump’s family, including Donald Trump, has been vaccinated. A little more understandable is the distrust of the black population ever since Tuskegee. Public announcements from Trump and prominent people of color, like our VP, to encourage vaccination would do a lot more than anything Anthony Fauci could say. It would save lives!
If you are not yet vaccinated, you have not educated yourself adequately, and are endangering others by your stubbornness. You are the one who infringes on my constitutional right to live in a safe environment and not to get infected. Everything we do has a risk-benefit ratio. I spent my entire professional life working within that risk-benefit equation. The risk-to-benefit ratio of getting vaccinated vastly tilts to BENEFIT for you and society. Take my word for it!
One summer evening, I had brought my 90-year-old mother up to our house for a jacuzzi. It is not easy to get a 90-year-old woman to step down into a hot tub at 104 ̊F. Furthermore, not very wise. She fainted after a few minutes, and I had the daunting task of lifting her out with the help of my wife. Luckily lying down and out of the hot water, she recovered quickly. I expected her to be limp and quiet for a while, but instead, she started talking animatedly about the past, family secrets I had never heard before.
I was unsure if these things were from her imagination due to the brief period of unconsciousness or if these were true, until now, long after she died at age 99. What finally convinced me that her stories were likely true?
I recently decided to have my DNA checked to research my ancestry. I spat into the glass test tube, labeled it, and sent it off. Two months later, the results came back, confirming a 24% European Jewish ancestry. That would fit with my mother’s story that night.
The story starts in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Europe was in turmoil, and the Habsburg Crown was anticipating war. My father was not yet born. Stephan Iwasiuk was a railroad official who would be needed to supervise troop movement in the central part of the empire. He had to leave his home in Bucharest and move to Graz for several months. He left his wife, Katerina, and his first child Josephine, still an infant. His wife decided to rent out a spare bedroom for much-needed financial help. A Jewish portrait painter and musician who was en route to Jerusalem from the north of Bucharest, rented the room. When Stephan returned from Graz, Katerina was with child, a rather inconvenient situation! Naturally, the artist had to move out of his rented room and moved on, reportedly to Jerusalem.
My father was born on December 31, 1905. Stephan accepted him as his son. They named him Vladimir, which means “Peace in the Land,” very much like the German name “Friedrich.” “Friede means peace, and Reich means “Land.” Vladimir had two half-sisters who held his birth status against him. “You are not the same as us,” they said! They made sure that later my mother knew the shame that Vladimir brought on them. Nevertheless, Vladimir was a smart and talented child. His adoptive father, Stephan, took him to Graz, and for a while, Vladimir was educated in German-speaking schools. As a student, he excelled in everything especially artistic talents. He got himself into some trouble copying an Austro-Hungarian paper monetary note so precisely that he was accused of attempting forgery, but exonerated because it was only the front of the banknote.
Vladimir was an independent student. He knew the lessons taught in school before the teacher presented them. He went to class only to see if the teacher taught them correctly, eventually going to medical school and getting his M.D. degree.
Photo of my father’s family ca. 1916 in Graz, taken in the middle of World War I
From left to right: Vladimir, Katerina, sisters Josephine and Helen, Stephan, unknown woman possibly Stephan’s sister.
So who was my grandfather? I know he was an artist. I know he was Jewish. I know he came from north of Bucharest, either what is now Moldavia or the Czech Republic. I am less sure of his name but as a child, I overheard the name “Korngold” on several occasions from my parents, but I am not certain of that. I know that the Korngold family also had their roots in Austro-Hungary, somewhere north of Bucharest. My biological grandfather reportedly left for Jerusalem and presumably died there. There are several cemeteries there, one of which is devoted to only Jews. It is directly behind the “Temple Mount” and the “Wailing Wall.” I spent a day combing through the graves there looking for the name “Korngold” but alas did not find it.
Now for the mystery. All my research lacks clarity, and I could not produce the smoking gun. BUT what piqued my interest was the resemblance of the most famous of the Korngold family to people in my family and me. Coincidence? You be the judge. If there is any relation, it would be Eric’s father, brother, cousin, or another close relative who traveled to Bucharest and rented a room.
I have a strong interest in classical music. In my research of various composers, I came upon a photo of Eric Wolfgang Korngold as an adolescent. He was born in Austro-Hungary in 1897. His father and his uncle were musicians. If there were any Korngold’s that were also painters is not known to me. Eric Wolfgang, being Jewish, left Vienna in 1935 with the evolving power of the Nazis. He came to the U.S. and composed for the movie industry. Before coming to the U.S., his most famous work is an opera, Die Tote Stadt (The Dead City), premiering in Cologne in 1920 with Otto Klemperer conducting. His most well-known movie scores are The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938 Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland) and The Sea Wolf (1941 Edward G. Robinson).
In the photos below, I want you to focus on the prominent eyebrows, the protruding ears, the noticeable philtrum ( the vertical groove between the nose and upper lip), the oval face, the shape of the nose and its junction with the forehead, the rounded chin, and the hairline. I added Vladimir, even though he does not support resemblance, at age 38 for reference and the stereotypical Jewish appearance. Keep in mind that phenotype (the outward appearance) serves as a surrogate for genotype, meaning DNA, and DNA does not lie! (see my essay by that name on my website gusiwasiuk.com).
Vladimir Iwasiuk above age 38 below age 11
As a little boy, my father took me on house calls. He was a doctor in a small village in Austria. In those days 70-80 years ago, doctors still made house calls. I remember the exact moment when I decided that I, too, wanted to be a doctor. I was around six years old. My father had taken me to another house call—this time to an elderly woman who had severe headaches related to high blood pressure. Not many effective treatments were available then. One rather old treatment, that since then has been relegated to the dust bin of outmoded medical procedures, was removing some blood from the patient until the blood pressure went down.
Bloodletting has been around for centuries dating back to ancient Egypt and Greece. It is hardly ever used now except in some rare conditions where it still is the only thing that works. It is when the body manufactures too much blood, polycythemia rubra vera. When I was a child I witnessed this procedure. I recall the patient’s face in anguish from pain, the white porcelain bowl to collect the blood, the tight rubber tourniquet around her arm, the insertion of a large-bore needle into the vein at the elbow, and the bell-like quality of the blood’s sound striking the porcelain. I still remember the smell of the alcohol to cleanse the skin that, in my childhood understanding, was interpreted to be the smell of blood. Mostly I recall her face becoming relaxed. The furrow of the brow was less noticeable, and a subtle smile appeared, sort of like the smile of the Mona Lisa. I knew then and there that I wanted to be a doctor and help people! It took twenty years, but that is what I did from then on. Several lessons emanated from that event. Keep your eye on the ball and do where it leads you to achieve your dreams. Once you do what you love to do, you shall never have to work another day of your life!
I, too, wound up in a small town. I always preferred being a large fish in a small pond rather than being a small fish in a large pond. Santa Paula, California, provided this for me. I became a Board-Certified General Surgeon! My skills ranged from removing deeply penetrating lemon tree thorns from lemon picker’s hands, to removing cancerous colons, breasts, thyroids, etc. that is what general surgeons do in a small town. The town was located on a state highway Route 126, not much of a highway then, more like a two-lane country road. As time went on, it became busier and busier with traffic, as it was the only connection between the Coast and the Central Valley without taking a detour through Los Angeles first. The road was not built for that kind of traffic, too narrow, too many blind curves, too many unmarked side roads that had no stop signs, much less stoplights, too much farm traffic slowing things down for the impatient truckers that had things to do and places to go. That road got the unofficial title of “Blood Alley” and with that honed my skills as a Trauma Surgeon. For several years I was the only surgeon in town.
The growing trauma business created a lot of all-nighters for me. One evening the Neurosurgeon in the next town had invited my wife and me out for dinner. We had several dogs, and they all needed to be let out to pee before we left. There was this little Chihuahua who was quite particular as to where she would leave her messages. We were late, and I became impatient. Finally, she found the right spot, and we were off. Our house was off the aforementioned 126 State Highway. As soon as we rounded our driveway onto 126, the car ahead of me seemed to explode and be thrown into the ditch next to the road. The car’s lights went out, and I could smell gasoline. I pulled over and ran to the car that was turned on its side. I now understood the large bang and why the car left the road. It was a head-on collision. The other car had also left the road, and I did not notice any signs of life, which I confirmed quite quickly. Both the driver and the passenger were slumped over and were pulseless. Now I looked into the other car. The driver was alive but obviously in distress. The passenger in the back was dead. A girl in a bride’s dress in the front passenger side was wedged against the dashboard. She could not breathe. As much as I tried, I could not dislodge the seat to give her an airway, and she suffocated right in front of me. The only live one left was the driver. I could see that if he did not get to the hospital, he too would not make it. There was no time to call an ambulance, and getting him out of the car with neck precautions was not possible. I did what I could, took him up to my hospital right into the operating room. At surgery, I found that his liver had been completely torn off the Vena Cava, the main vein in the abdomen. I did a procedure that I had only read about but never done, bypassing the torn vein with a plastic tube from the heart to below the torn vein. Unfortunately, there are more papers written about this procedure than survivors of it. So he, too, did not survive. Tragically they were all going to their wedding rehearsal. The driver was the groom. Had my Chihuahua found a spot to pee right away, that would have been my wife and me in that car.
Again several life lessons: Life is fleeting, and you need to treat every day as if it is your last on this earth. If some minor inconvenience interferes with your plans, do not fret, as this may prevent you from a much more serious consequence. Whatever misfortune befalls you, accept it with grace, as you do not know what potentially worse scenario is waiting to strike you just around the corner.
That same road provided one other event which I will not forget any time soon. Not far from my home was a blind curve. An 18 wheeler decided he was going the wrong way. Although the truck driver, being high in his cab, could see the oncoming traffic. The oncoming traffic did not see him. He was halfway through his turn when five field workers came around the curve, and their car went right under the semi. For reasons I cannot explain, the ambulance brought five heads up to the emergency room, and I was called, a visual about which I still have nightmares. That curve was now justifiably called “Dead Man’s Curve.” So what to take away here: 1. Do not make U-turns in a curve even if you see the oncoming traffic. 2. Decapitation is not a surgical disease, but I already knew that from medical school.
My father stopped practicing medicine when he was 70 years old. He wanted to stop earlier, but economics would not allow it. When I was 70, I thought that I should do the same, and I did. But an opportunity came along that I just could not pass up. I had some experience teaching young doctors when I finished my surgery residency, and it was a rewarding experience, but it did not last long. The County of Ventura that administered the County Hospital fired all-volunteer surgeons and replaced us with an all-new staff of surgeons that were dedicated to that one institution with no private practice. That ended my first teaching job.
Just as I thought that I was going to retire, I was offered the job of Program Director of a brand new surgery residency. To be Program Director and Professor of Surgery was a dream come true. For the next five years, I did what turned out to be the most rewarding time of my entire career. The title “Doctor” comes from the Latin verb docēre “to teach.” The first doctorates were awarded at the Universities of Bologna and Paris in the 13th century. It was a license to teach in theology, law, and medicine. Later medicine became the standard for the common usage of Doctor (M.D., Doctor of Medicine). The others took on the title Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy), J.D. (Doctor of Jurisprudence), and D. D. (Doctor of Divinity). I have always wanted to teach, and here was my opportunity. For the next five years, I first founded a new surgical residency and built it from just one to a total of fifteen residents. I got the program accredited with the ACGME (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education). Believe me, that was not an easy task, but one I am particularly proud of! Teaching is a task that allows the teacher to leave a bit of himself with his students, an opportunity to leave a legacy!
Throughout my career in the health sciences, I have had several experiences when colleagues or even mentors reached an age where they started to show signs of “losing it.” One of the most horrifying of such events was when an elderly surgeon who failed to stop when he should have, became confused during a surgical procedure and had to be escorted away from the operating table. When I took on my new job as a professor, I sought counsel from one of my former mentors and the Program Director of my surgery residency, who was already retired by then. I asked him, “When should I quit?” I was hoping for a lucid and erudite answer. Instead, he said, “You will know!” As it turned out, his answer was very erudite, and I did know. The lesson I learned, “Listen to your good inner angel and your own body. They will tell you.” When your start having to look up answers to questions too often, which your students ask you, and when they are right more often. When you have trouble running up the stairs to cardiac arrest codes, when your Chief Resident calls you in the middle of the night to tell you the patient whom we had operated on that morning does not look all that good now, and you get heartburn, or is it chest pain? YOU KNOW!
BLM is a muddled concept, in a puzzling tribe, that puts into action another bewildering pseudo-intellectual notion, CRT. Are there any lives that do not matter? Does using outdated Nietzschean philosophy (thinly veiled in CRT) fight racism? Someone should tell them that fighting fire with fire is, by in large, a failed metaphor that does not work most of the time; water usually works better! The actions of BLM have given the impression that Black Lives Matter believes that it has an entitlement that allows them special license to act out and not be held accountable for behavior to which the rest of us must conform. The justification for this is the presumed oppression the white supremacists have exerted for centuries. Is BLM superior to the rest of us? Are not all of us, at times, subject to discrimination for a variety of reasons? Jews, Catholics, Mormons, Asians, Mexicans, and many groups in the not too distant past have experienced it, like the Irish, the Italians, and more offensively the Krauts, the slant eyes, the Degos, the wetbacks, and I could go on forever with names and ethnic slurs that would stun you, some of which have been lobbed my way. And others, you would be surprised, never to have heard before.
Individuals, too, have been singled out from English royalty to the homeless. Almost all of us are subject to discrimination of one kind or another. Most of us look at the source and suck it up. In past experiences, I have considered it below my dignity to respond. Responding seemed to me like giving them some legitimacy. Blacks are not the only group to feel that sting, and slavery is a bit too far away historically to dredge it up now. Besides, modern slavery needs to be addressed more urgently than ancient history. Hominids tend to separate themselves from other hominids based on their differences, appearance, belief systems, social status, wealth, religion, jobs, and a whole host of subtler divisions. That is unlikely to ever change as long as there are differences, real or perceived. Being white will not give me the standing to become the social equal of a Morgan Freeman, a black human, or a Bill Gates, a multi-billionaire human. That too is discrimination, but it is not racism, and it is equitable because that is how it is among chimpanzee tribes, lion prides, Canadian geese, bees, and even humans. It is how nature is set up. It may not be fair and not right, but it is.
Homo sapiens are hominids that migrated out of Africa some 200,000 years ago, and in that process, migrated north into Europe. In that sense, we are all African American, African Asian, and African Europen. We came into contact with the Hominids that preceded us in our migration, the Neanderthals, 40 to 80 thousand years ago, and inevitably crossbred with them. When exactly some of us lost the African pigment is not certain and NOT IMPORTANT, but the northern latitudes got less sun, and we needed more of those photons to convert 7-dehydro-cholesterol to pro-vitamin D3, which then isomerizes to active vitamin D3. The pigment melanin absorbs light, preventing that step. Those of us that make less melanin broke fewer bones, and Vitamin D3 makes our bones more fracture-resistant. If a Neolithic man or woman broke a femur, they became sabertooth tiger food. According to Jane Goodal, civilization started when Homo was able to care for an individual that broke a femur. It takes months for that bone to allow weight-bearing. It took compassion to provide the help and nurturing to enable a human to heal a femur.
It is the melanin content of our skin that assigns race to us rightly or wrongly. There are other traits of homo sapiens that are different in our species. Some of us have lost muscles in our forearms that gave us better grasping abilities, muscles that control our ear to catch sound better, or digestive enzymes that can process cow’s milk. Why those criteria are not used to separate us instead of skin color remains an arbitrary conundrum. Skin color is a very superficial (as in skin deep) reason to separate races. Black lives, as it turns out, are one genetic locus different from white lives! It comes down to the MC1R gene that provides the instructions for making the melanocortin 1 receptor. That is not enough to separate us! Nor is it enough to cause a riot, loot, and burn down businesses in protest of a concept that is not based on any meaningful concept. Those humans that self-identify as the oppressed blacks fail to consider the history and are just a touch too fragile. Yes, slavery existed and still does. There are more human slaves now than there ever were in all of history. Some estimates put that number at 45,000,000. They are of all colors and on all continents. As many black slaves work in Africa’s diamond mines in abject horrifying conditions as do yellow slaves in Southeast Asia’s clothing industries and rice paddies, many of them children sold into slavery by their parents, as do white slaves sold by sex traffickers all over the world. The discrimination with which we deal, whether it is based on skin pigment or social status or level of education or income or religion or ethnicity or whatever in America is minuscule at this time compared to what Southeast Asian children suffer in sweatshops in which they are forced to work, or blacks in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) diamond mines who live and die in squalor and desperation. WHERE ARE THE ANTI-RACISTS THAT SHOULD BE FIGHTING THAT INJUSTICE? It is a lot easier to buy another pair of Nikes or a De Beers blood diamond for their girlfriends.
Nevertheless, America is the most liberated of all countries in the world. If you have the drive, the smarts, the persistence, you can achieve more in this country than in any other, regardless of color, ethnicity, or religion. That is why people risk their lives to come here. I came to this country (legally, I might add) with literally nothing to my or my family’s name. Because of my parent’s drive to succeed and instilling this in me, I achieved whatever I wanted to achieve. It cost sweat, some tears, and sacrifice, but it was worth it. If you do not have what you want, you need to look within yourself for the reasons and not blame society, the law, your skin color, the constitution, systemic racism, or whatever, for your self-perceived failures.
I recognize that some homo sapiens exist who consider themselves superior to others for a variety of reasons, including their skin pigmentation. You are not obligated to believe them! In fact there is no scientific or any other basis for their belief. It is a mistake they make, just as the belief that their God is the right God, and everyone else’s God is the wrong God. Not so long ago, we believed so strongly in the wrong ideology that we burned people alive because they claimed that we revolved around the sun. It took science, education, patience, and the age of enlightenment to change that mistaken human belief, and it could not have been done any other way. It was not until 1983 that the Catholic church apologized for prosecuting Galileo for suggesting such blasphemy, even though he was right 350 years before.
Reasoning with people who have wrong concepts ingrained in their souls is almost impossible, but nevertheless needs to be pursued, even if they wind up carrying their belief to their grave. That does not, however, mean the entire country is to blame for the minority that has mistaken ideas. Most of us have slowly evolved out of those ideas. Even Kamala Harris admitted that this is not a racist country (I have it on video)! Our society does not allow those mistaken concepts to guide their behavior, and we have recourse against those Homo sapiens that use their mistaken ideas to harm us. We have come a long way from the Emancipation Proclamation! I do not deny that we need to continue to evolve and grow to become better Homo sapiens because there are things that could improve, be more enlightened, and just. It will, however, not be achieved by burning down buildings, smashing windows, destroying public works, art, and history. Those activities actually make things worse, reinforce and give strength and perhaps lend validation to the bigots and their mistaken ideas. It is Prophets like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King who have hit upon the successful formula to reverse unjust history. We have established acceptable means to change those concepts that are mistakes and have civilized methods to right those wrongs, and most of us recognize that we have evolved into cultivated, thinking Homo sapiens. As long as there are people on earth, there will be societal problems and people who have mistaken beliefs. It is for that reason society needs to remind us that there is a right way and a wrong way to solve our problems. These reminders are the laws and those that are charged to enforce those laws. Defunding the police is like taking the muzzle off the vicious dog. That just makes for more dog bites. In our case, more gunshot deaths. Unlike, as in arithmetic, two wrongs do not make a right!
We must look at all our options and for us to depend on ending the use of fossil fuels as the only rodeo may be a bit too naïve. It would be a Shakespearian Tragedy if we did all that AOC wants us to do and CO2 levels dropped, and nothing happened to global temperature. A little foreshadowing that could give us a clue, during our Covid 19 shutdown, CO2 levels did drop by 17%, but shockingly no corresponding temperature drops occurred. This, of course, is too short a time frame and not sufficient evidence, but it does raise a question, especially when CO2 was 25% lower in the 1930s when we had some of the highest temperatures recorded. With these paradoxes, we need real numbers rather than just computer models before we find out that some computer glitch occurred. By the way, the climate models do not all agree. They vary by significantly different predictions. What we are fed are the averages. Sometimes the minority report has the real truth. Keep in mind that predictions are not evidence.
Global warming has brought us some positive news. The earth is “greening”! Biomass is expanding all over the globe due to the warmer climates extending to latitudes further north. The growing seasons are also extended, and CO2 is actually a fertilizer that makes plants grow faster and bigger. Overall, cold kills more people than heat. In fact, all causes of death related to climate are shrinking over the last 100 years, as shown in Bjorn Lomborg’s book, False Alarm.
If indeed it turns out that CO2, and cow belching and farting, is the leading causes of global warming, turning all our vehicles into Teslas, killing all the cows, and becoming vegetarians, other than making Elon Musk even richer, is likely to be too much for our culture to achieve in the 12 years we have left. We must have other arrows in our quivers.
Renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and hydroelectric sources are nowhere near enough to fill the void that will be created by the elimination of carbon-based fuels. Besides, they only make electricity when the wind blows, or the sun shines. Wind produces 8.4% of US energy, Solar comes in at the spectacularly low level of 2.3%, and Hydropower rivals wind at 7.3%. Germany drank the Kool-Aid of renewable energy and abandoned Nuclear power for renewables. They are at 52% of their energy supplied by renewables, despite tremendous costs to the government and the German people. Germans pay 37.5 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity, compared to the 15 cents we pay. As a consequence, they use only a third of what we use. They do remain faithful to their dogma and use the other renewable, like wood, to make up much of the difference. Of course, they do not have enough of that either, so they buy it from us. It is shipped to them in diesel-powered ships and trucked in from Bremerhafen to the rest of the country, also with diesel trucks.
Someone should tell them that the pollution of carbon-based sources kills many more than nuclear energy ever has. Nuclear turns out to be the safest source of energy.
That brings me to the question as to why our “environmental Nazis” shun nuclear so much? It is strange that the safest source of energy is so maligned. Hydrocarbons kill tens of thousands, from coal mining accidents to lung diseases. Wind machines are possibly the most environmentally unfriendly to birds, especially the larger variety such as falcons, eagles, egrets, and many others. Perhaps Green Peace has not heard of that yet. The anti-nuclear crowd has some very questionable motivations for their position. Prominent California politicians have been caught leading anti-nuclear protests, which have benefited them from the takedown of coastal nuclear plants, as oil properties they own are more essential than ever. Now, with nuclear out of the way, they would become surprisingly more profitable. Has anyone mentioned “Conflict of interest?”
Nuclear energy solves so many issues, such as pollution, being energy dependent on other countries that are not necessarily our friends, pipelines that could cause environmental catastrophes and change the landscape, and of course, CO2 production. Very little is heard about Thorium that sidesteps many of the objections to Uranium and Plutonium. It is safer, degrades faster, does not have run-away fission meltdowns, is plentiful, is difficult to weaponize, and harder to hide. It can burn up exhausted fuel rods that are an issue as to where to store them. Spent Thorium is less of a storage issue. This sounds like a much better option than all the other alternative sources of energy, and costs less than eliminating fossil fuels.
If CO2 is the primary problem, then other avenues of addressing CO2 production have been mostly ignored. Trees are wonderful CO2 converters. Looking at atmospheric reflective formations such as clouds or substances, such as ice crystals, and some more intrusive chemicals like SO2, have been mentioned as means of reflecting the sun’s rays back into space (geoengineering). Storing energy in more efficient batteries, or some other physical devices utilizing gravity, for example, that could release the energy later, have not been given a chance. The enormous energy of the moon reflected in the tides has hardly been exploited.
Eliminating fossil fuels is a one-trick pony that does not give credit to the human ingenuity we possess. There are legitimate climate scientists questioning the urgency of this “Deal,” and there is certainly not 99% unanimity. We are delegating way too much that appears to be more political than science to a Brooklyn bartender and a defrocked ex-Vice President who jets around the globe, not giving a damn about his carbon footprint.
It is perhaps the wrong time to write an essay about global warming in the middle of a heatwave and drought. The technical definition of a desert is 10 inches or less rainfall per year. We have hit that marker 60% of the time in the last 70 years in the Los Angeles Basin. In the distant past, droughts have lasted decades and even several hundreds of years. When you live in a desert or a near-desert, what do you expect? This is not a drought and not a heatwave. This is NORMAL for us!
There is little debate about the issue that the earth is getting warmer. The “deniers” don’t argue that point. They do, however, question the mechanisms of global warming and what we could, should, or should not do about it. In the words of Al Gore, “The science is settled!” If you really care, you need to read a book written by Steven E. Koonin, Unsettled ?. He served as Undersecretary for Science, US Department of Energy under the Obama Administration. As a scientist and as a policymaker, he is in a good position to tell us the real deal. The book is full of graphs and charts that dispute the “settled” charge. I admit it is not an easy read with much to digest. As to why the science is not settled takes Dr. Koonin 283 pages to explain and would be impossible to recount in this essay. But this is an issue that is a lot more complex than we were led to believe. Take my word for it or read the book, Unsettled?. The science is definitely not settled to a level where we have sufficient information to make irrevocable life-altering decisions that will transform not just energy but economics, construction, transportation, and agriculture. It will also require massive new taxes, retooling the labor market with deleting large swaths of the workforce and retraining millions for as yet undefined jobs. The point of all this is to lower human-generated atmospheric (anthropogenic) CO2. Something that has not yet met the ultimate test. Does lowering anthropogenic atmospheric CO2 really lower the global temperature? That double-blind controlled test has not yet been done! The real fanatics don’t even consider climate the main goal. The primary push is to change the way we live, reverse the industrial revolution, gain control of how we work, play, travel, become educated, earn a living, and are governed. It is about globalization and control. Once WE have gained control changing the climate will be a snap. Never let a crisis go to waste! They say.
Half the world population believes that global warming will cause the extinction of humankind, and soon. Many of the media-driven alarms are, in fact, not true. Extreme weather is the same now as it was 100 years ago. The recent media loves to report the record highest temperature and the hottest summer, but when fact-checked, is not the highest or hottest. The recorded hottest temperature was in 1913 in the Mojave desert when it reached 134̊ F, when CO2 was 301 ppm. The hottest summer happened in the 1930s, coinciding with the dust bowls, when atmospheric CO2 levels were 310 ppm, 100 ppm lower than now. This poses the question, if atmospheric CO2 is the driver of global warming, how will lowering its level reduce those record high temperatures? All the accords, so far, the Kyoto Protocol, the Copenhagen Accord, the Durban Platform, and most recently the Paris Agreement have been jokes. No one has come anywhere close to cutting greenhouse gas emissions at the agreed-upon levels.
Fires have always existed and are no worse now than in the past, if in fact not better if you look at the numbers. In the 1920s, the US lost 40 – 50 million acres a year to fire. In the last six decades, we have lost less than 10 million acres a year, 75% less because of better forestry management and better fire fighting equipment and techniques.
Climate change has many names that give it an urgency: climate crisis, climate breakdown, climate catastrophe, climate emergency, global heating, and environmental destruction. This is media hype and not a fact if you study the actual numbers.
Droughts are cyclic. In one place on earth, they may be worse, but in others, there are fewer droughts. Looking at it globally, it is about the same. Cyclones, hurricanes, and tropical storms are not worse. They do cost more because there is more infrastructure for them to destroy now than there was in the past, but that is not a legitimate measure of worsening winds. In 1960 there were just 3 billion inhabitants on the earth. Now we are almost 8 billion we have have built a lot more houses, skyscrapers, ice skating rinks, universities, and McDonalds.
Sea levels have not changed nearly as much as Al Gore’s book, An Inconvenient Truth predicted, a 20 foot rise by now. At the beginning of industrialization in 1900, the rate of change in sea level was 1mm per year. It rose to 3mm per year in 1940; then dipped back below 1mm per year in the 1950s and 1960s. It is back to 3mm per year now. Even if sea levels rose at ten times that level yearly, it would take 2,000 years to reach the level depicted by National Geographic, a bit of hysterical literary license that looks more like fear-mongering.
The arctic and antarctic ice cover tend to be opposite in receding and growing. Currently, the south pole has had an overall positive trend in the last 40 years, while the north pole is losing ice. It was that way during the medieval warming about a thousand years ago when Greenland was actually green. Eric the Red (named for his red beard) established a settlement on the ice-free southwest coast of the island, and at least 5000 Vikings flourished there for about 400 years when the “Little Ice Age,” starting in 1300 and ending in 1850, drove them out.
The Green New Deal sets us on a path of spending trillions of dollars and will require us to change our life and lifestyle to accommodate the necessary alterations that are supposedly needed to bring down the CO2 levels that are said to be the main culprit causing global warming. Before embarking on this life-altering path, we need to know as much as possible about the what’s and wherefore’s of the science. Not only are the basics not settled, such as what really is going on, and what can we do about it, but also, is all doomed in 12 years or less, or is there much more time? What options do we have? Are there other answers we need to research? It reminds me of the joke of the guy who fell off the 1000 foot cliff but manages to catch a branch of a bush to which he is hanging on for dear life. He calls for help from anyone up there to help him. Finally, he invokes the Almighty to save him. The clouds part, and a booming voice says, “You must have faith!” “I do!” the hapless man screams. “Then you must let go of the branch.” After a long pause, the man yells, “Is there anybody else up there?”
The Greeks named “the atom” as that which cannot be divided further. It is the smallest particle. Democritus, Leucippus, and Epicurius proposed that dividing matter into ever smaller particles leads to particles that cannot be divided further, “the atom.” The ancient Greek word, atom, means uncuttable. But they were wrong! Ernest Rutherford came up with the idea of what an atom is made of and is what is now considered the Rutherford atomic model. It is a dense central nucleus of protons and neutrons surrounded by a cloud of electrons that orbit around the nucleus. A lot of empty space exists beween the electron cloud and the nucleus. If you place a football at the 50-yard line representing the nucleus, the electron cloud is at the goalposts with nothing in-between. Quantum tunneling is the phenomenon where particles can go right through solid barriers like ghosts go through walls. Could all that empty space allow that to happen? The knife to cut the atom turns out to be quite elaborate, the LHC (Large Hadron Collider). Near Geneva, in Switzerland, is the largest, most powerful particle accelerator ever built. It is a circular tunnel, 100 meters underground, 27 km in circumference, that propels particles at near the speed of light in two beams going in opposite directions, and then the particles are made to smash into each other. It turs out, atoms are divisible! These particles are pieces of the atom called Bosons, Hadrons, and Fermions. To date, the count of these particles is 59.
All these particles have a variety of qualities, from electric charge, to spin, and mass. The Higgs Boson (also called “the God Particle”) is what gives everything mass, and is one of the more recent discoveries.
Newton (1642 -1726) was the go-to guy for astronomy, physics, and mathematics for hundreds of years. Then came the Quantum boys and girl – (Madam Skłodowska aka Curie) in the early 1900s. The founding father was Max Planck, but others contributed, like Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Paul Dirac, Wolfgang Pauli, and Erwin Schödinger. Einstein was not a fan of Quantum Mechanics but still influenced its direction with his special and general theory of relativity. The central ideas of Quantum Physics are that the very small world has different rules than the world of Isaac Newton which we can see.
The Copenhagen Interpretation
The great minds of Quantum Mechanics came together in Copenhagen and came up with a loose set of temporary compromises, still being debated today called the Copenhagen Interpretation, which concluded, among other things, that a state does not exist until it is observed. The act of observation forces the particle to choose what it will be. This also concerned Einstein. His famous retort was that the moon was still there even if he didn’t look at it.
Very small particles can be both a particle and a wave. It can even be at many places all at once. Identifying where a particle exists is not certain until it decides where to land. Particles can become “entangled” with each other through one of four mechanisms. Once they are so entangled, whatever happens to one will influence what happens to the other instantaneously, even if that particle is on the other side of the universe. This idea really rankled Einstein. He called it “Spukhafte Fernwirkung” spooky activity at a distance. One cannot know both, where a particle is, and at the same time how fast it is going (Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle). A particle could be in several places at once. And two opposite states can simultaneously exist until they are observed (Quantum superposition).
The act of observation forces which state exists. Schrödinger’s dead cat thought experiment has a cat in a box that is both alive and dead until it is observed to be one or the other.
Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck was a German theoretical physicist who was advised not to study physics since everything had already been discovered, he was told. His response was that he didn’t want to discover anything new, just to understand what had been discovered. He was a Professor at the Berlin University. In the early 1900s, he formulated his Quantum theories. He took a year’s sabbatical from the University to travel around Europe to explain his theory. Despite his brilliant scientific mind, he could not drive a car. He had to hire a driver. When he returned to Berlin to give his last lecture, he had a severe cold and could not talk. He decided to cancel. His driver talked Planck into letting him give his talk which he by now had heard hundreds of times. Plank agreed, and it went as planned until, during the question period, a wizened old physicist asked a question that the driver had no idea how to answer. As Planck was sitting in the audience, the driver cleverly turned the tables on the smart-aleck questioner. “I can’t believe such a basic question would be asked in this sophisticated group, and to prove it, I will let my chauffeur answer that!”
I just barely got through college physics 101. To get my experiments to come out correctly, I fudged some data, which the professor figured out faster than entanglement could. “There is something fishy here!” he exclaimed. Quantum mechanics is vastly more complicated. The concepts are admittedly difficult to understand, and even Einstein didn’t either. How a particle can be in two places at once, how the cat is both alive and dead, how information can travel, from one end of the universe to the other instantaneously, when the speed of light is the fastest anything can travel are concepts that just fly in the face of what we know. You may wonder why I even bother to try to understand. The problem is that these impossible concepts are why we can watch TV, why our GPS takes us to the right address every time, why atomic clocks keep perfect time, how superfast computers work, how the salmon return to their birth stream, how Magnetic Resonance Imaging takes pictures of our brain, and why we should not detonate even one Hydrogen bomb any time soon.
This is just the beginning of what is in store for us. The idea of time travel sounds impossible, but the fact that time and space are called space-time because it is made of the same fabric suggests a possibility. Gravity slows down time, the stronger it is the more it slows time and even stops it inside a black hole. Theoretically, we could just walk upstream the time continuum to get to our past or downstream to get “Back to the Future” (?) If space can get a wrinkle in it, and a wormhole can drill through that carpet of space, we could travel to the end of the universe in no time at all(?) If we are all made of quanta, then a very sophisticated quantum computer could disassemble all the parts of our atoms, transmit their structure to entangled computers instantaneously to one of Alpha Centauri exoplanets and reassemble us there (?) Sounds crazy!
A bit controversial but definitely worth your time at $16 from Amazon but much less ($1.99) as an e-book.
Race has evolved into a divisive issue that faces our nation. I have written this monograph to clear up my own confusion and try to answer some of the questions that I have had. I hope to answer some of yours as well. I include the early origins of mankind, our evolution, and some of the controversies of race. I am not a geneticist, anthropologist, or paleontologist, even though much of this book expounds on those topics. I am, however, an applied scientist and am now a retired Professor of Surgery. I have practiced my profession for over half a century and have learned some things, and come to some conclusions, that I believe worthy of sharing with you. In my job, I have dealt with all races as patients, colleagues, allied health professionals, and students from college to graduate and professional school. Most recently, I have dealt with postgraduates in the profession of surgery, teaching the art and science of cutting on human beings to cure disease and alleviate suffering.
One thing that I will share with you now is that once you get below the skin, we all look the same! Race has become a more consuming topic. It has evolved from its first inception when described in the 1700s by Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, zoologist, and physician in his Magnus Opus, Systema Naturae. Since then, much has changed. Above all, we now have mapped the human genome, and guess what? There is no scientifically classifiable division of H. sapiens into various races. Race is supposed to be a grouping of humans based on shared physical characteristics. 99.9% of DNA is shared. There is only a 0.1%variablility. Besides being only a 0.1%variability, the shared physical characteristics blend, and blur across groups. There would be at least 300 groups that share many, but not all, characteristics to conform to the definition of a group with shared characteristics. We have trouble dealing with three to four racial groups. How would you like to deal with 300 racial groups? The first grouping, and still the most utilized, is skin pigmentation. I would expect this from the mindset of the 18th Century. Little did they know that skin color is the least significant in groupings of H. sapiens. Melanocytes are the cells that make melanin that gives us the pigment. All races have the same number of melanocytes. It is one locus on our DNA double helix, the MC1 R locus, that directs the melanocyte to make melanin. There are muscles that some of us have that others don’t. There are diseases that affect some of us and not others. There are some of us that can’t drink cow’s milk, which makes some of us deathly sick. Caucasians have more type A blood, while Asians have more type B blood, and the Blacks have both A and B. Eye shape is often the defining characteristic of Asians. IQ turns out not to be a very distinguishing characteristic. Too many social factors enter into it. Primary education, culture, and parental pressure factors more than race. Neil deGrasse Tyson, a black Astrophysicist, is said to have an IQ of 142. While Philip Emeagwali, a black computer scientist, is ranked at 190, 30 points higher than Einstein. There are studies dating back to World War II showing black troops from northern states outperforming white troops from the south on average. IQ matches better with social class than race in multiple studies. We are left with skin color, facial features, hair texture, and a few other physical traits that are basically meaningless. We are making much more of it than it deserves! My point is that race does not have meaningful characteristics to allow us to separate H. sapiens, and skin pigmentation is not enough. Nevertheless, the topic is timely and does deserve discussion.
The exact appearance of racial origin is not known. It is clearly environmental adaptation that gave rise to the most obvious trait, skin pigmentation. I delve into our evolution, from coming down from the trees, migrating across the savannahs of Africa, nearly becoming extinct with only a few hundred females with reproducing capabilities surviving during two separate natural disasters in our short 200,000 years of existence, outperforming and out surviving our competitor hominids, likely even eating some of them. I have compiled a series of thoughts, ideas, and musings on the subject of human origins, evolution, and race, based on my readings, my life experiences, and my own ideas. I have tried to be as factual as my study of the subject has allowed. These are my observations and interpretations as a pre-woke college graduate, to the best of my knowledge and abilities. My conclusion (spoiler alert!) is that we need to start acting like we believe our name, Homo sapiens (wise Human)!