Entries Tagged 'RickBright' ↓

Summer 2021 thoughts from North Texas

Note: In 2021, I’m posting a new entry to my blog every weekend or so. This is number 28 of 52; omg, the year’s more than halfway done.

The color photo shows a tray on a table at a Whataburger fast food chain store in Fort Worth, Texas. On the tray sit a large vanilla milkshake (over 900 calories) and a triple meat Whataburger (over 1000 calories). They look disgusting.
Fort Worth, TX, summed up? I took the Whataburger pic this weekend, but didn’t actually eat the “triple meat” burger or drink the large vanilla shake

I was travelling through central Washington state and northeast Oregon for a few weeks earlier this summer — now, in mid-July, I’m visiting my hometown of Fort Worth, Texas for not quite half a month. Besides seeing family and friends, I’m here to do research of a personal sort. Yet after six years as a Seattle resident, I can’t help noticing several things about the Dallas / Fort Worth metroplex, some bad, some good. I’ll share those observations. I was going to then provide news blasts about the current situations in Cuba, Haiti, and Germany, but this entry simply grew too long, and I gotta do some other stuff. Hopefully next week I’ll take on news blasts for those three countries. I’m an untimely fellow.

Bad stuff about North Texas

Graphic of SimCity game. Would you want to live here? Source.

Gridlock) Aside from traffic jams and the Lone Star State’s uniquely deregulated, isolated power grid — meaning during disastrous outages (including this year), Texas, its leaders boasting with pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps lies, cannot, unlike all other 47 contiguous states, receive energy sent as assistance from beyond its borders; the privatized electric system has yet to be fixed or replaced, even though lawmakers knew of its vulnerabilities: they chose to serve the power companies instead — I want to talk about another type of Texan gridlock. In Seattle, multitudinous fairy-tale roads wind up hills, passing idiosyncratic houses with quirky paint jobs, and in the distance are bridges, sailboats, mountains. Many of my Seattleite friends have never lived anywhere else, nor have they ever been to the South. Comparing my place of birth with the Emerald City’s highly commercial Northgate neighborhood (an exception to the usual Seattle beauty), I tell them North Texas is primarily composed of tract houses, billboards, strip malls, fast food joints, and car dealerships. That truth was really evident from the sky as my flight descended toward DFW Airport. During landing, I was reading the first chapter in a thought-provoking collection of essays from 2006, edited by Alvin M. Josephy, Jr.: Lewis and Clark Through Indian Eyes. It’s research for my fiction project set at least partially in northeast Oregon and 2036, because all time connects, and the colonial histories of NE Oregon often begin by trumpeting the settlers Lewis and Clark, whose expedition, commissioned by slaveowner Thomas Jefferson, journeyed, between 1803 and 1806, from Pittsburgh to the Pacific Northwest coast and back to St. Louis, thanks to aid from the enslaved, pregnant, and raped Sacagawea, of the Shoshoni and aged merely fourteen to sixteen years or so at the time of Lewis and Clark’s wrongly idolized quest. That’s not the version you heard in school, right? In the United States we aren’t taught the truth that Jefferson’s top goal for the expedition was establishing evermore commerce, nor that the explorers called the indigenous peoples Jefferson’s “children,” an insult that should call to mind Robert Filmer’s Patriarcha. Rivers also have hidden truths… In his essay Frenchmen, Bears, and Sandbars, in the Lewis and Clark Through Indian Eyes collection, Vine Deloria Jr. discusses how “Rivers do not, as a rule, create long straight embankments.” Indeed, rivers move over time, something a character mentions early in Cynthia Shearer’s excellent 2004 novel The Celestial Jukebox: “What you looking at there used to be the Mississippi River. Long time ago the river moved itself over […] River just change its mind and move sometime.” As the virtual flight attendants on the seatback televisions were politely ordering me to stow my tray table in the upright position, Deloria Jr. was telling me how Lewis and Clark misinterpreted Missouri River sandbar deposits, insisting with Enlightenment rationality that measurable straight lines must exist to explain the deposits as human-made, when actually they were natural phenomena. Lewis and Clark didn’t understand how chaotic rivers and Nature are. I glanced out the airplane window, and below, behold, North Texas, designed and coerced into “rationality” by long straight lines everywhere. Tract houses separated by long straight congested roads. Like some Cartesian grid Texans are all locked into. The pain caused by living apart from Nature should not be underestimated, even if Texan natives aren’t aware of it, as I wasn’t for a long time, though toward the end of my residency in Texas (I left at the end of 2015), I was frequently going to parks for just that reason. It makes me think of the ideology implicit in the 1991 Super Nintendo game SimCity, which I spent countless hours playing as a kid.

Screenshot of video showing tract housing in Fort Worth. Source.
Graphic of SimCity residential donuts. More industrial zones needed, but why? Image source.

A well-known strategy among SimCity gamers is to create “donut” neighborhoods: squares imposed on the land, usually in nine-by-nine arrangements, with train tracks or roads boxing them in, and a park in the middle to appease the unhappy residents. In SimCity, players are rewarded for engineering such supposedly rational cities. In real urban life, rivers are forced to flow “logically” in straight lines, like trees in some parks, lined up in discrete pots. As a video game-playing kid, I didn’t quite understand that these efficiency setups clash with harmonious ways of living with land, though I did play in undeveloped lots regularly, needing that. To be honest, not until very recently did I put two and two together, comparing rivers in rural areas with rivers in urban places, although a 2019 Seattle Public Library exhibit did briefly puncture my conventional consciousness on the subject. In Fort Worth, I grew up walking and jogging on the sidewalks by the Trinity River, and just assumed the embankments were naturally steep and unchanging, shaped conveniently for urban planners to impose at a moment’s notice, above either edge, unchanging sidewalks…

Despite Seattle’s beauty, the same story plays out there, too. Unfortunately I haven’t read it yet, but BJ Cummings’ 2020 book The River That Made Seattle: A Human and Natural History of the Duwamish looks amazing from this interview and this review. The book talks about how without displacing Salish indigenous peoples and trashing and forcibly diverting the Duwamish River, the city of Seattle as we know it wouldn’t exist. There would be no city forums for identitarians to debate which sect should get paid more wages for helping corporations drive us extinct. And in contrast to the dolla dolla bill, let’s-go-extinct-ASAP civilization of biz, which argues each individual is an autonomous sole proprietor capable of not caring what anyone else thinks, and worthy of paralyzing shame for any mistake actually caused by corporate destruction, I hope my discussion of rivers and gridlock ⁠— not to mention what volcano Mount Rainier and the Cascadia Subduction Zone might have to say — helps to show how people are in fact creatures of their environments, which of course doesn’t remove each individual’s responsibility to fight for something better. It’s interesting, too, how fiction-writing instructors typically badger writers into obsessing over their supposedly autonomous characters’ ex nihilo motivations, rather than learning about the settings they’re in: for instance, how does the local power grid, or train track, or river characterize a protagonist, or for that matter, a protagonist’s grandparents or neighbors? The so-called “Golden Age” of science fiction in the 1950s presented familyless protagonists singlehandedly subduing the universe; but in the ’90s, science fiction writer Octavia Butler presented characters with extended families walking fiery highways as refugees, an entirely different take on life.

Photo by me this weekend beside wonderful Trinity River in Ft. Worth

Coronavirus confusions) From observation, I guesstimate that ten percent, or fewer, of North Texans are masking. As of 16 July ’21, for Texans ages 18 and up, only 53.9% are fully vaccinated and only about 62.6% are partly vaccinated (one jab of a two-jab series). By way of comparison, in King County, home of Seattle, as of the same date and for ages 16 and up, 75% of residents are fully vaccinated, and 80.7% of residents are partly vaccinated. That’s all according to public health data managed by regional government entities. As for masking, given my observations a few weeks ago, in the Seattle areas that might be described as very progressive or Green Party-ish politically, for instance, inside co-ops selling organic foods, I’d guesstimate that indoors, 90+% of people are masking. How this came to be so politicized, I’ll address in a moment.

This does not look good. Source: John Hopkins Univ COVID-19 map.

A disproportionately high number of those masking in North Texas are individuals categorized on bureaucratic paperwork as minorities (and then identitarian activists tell us we must all heed our opponents’ paperwork). Sometimes those groups tend to have less resources to pay for healthcare yet simultaneously tend to sometimes have more empathy and altruism, gifts of being slotted into negative image roles (differing from the idealized images, you know, white businessmen in suits and the like, who tend to live in grandiose, puffed-up headspaces). Because some of the people I’m visiting indoors are elderly, I wore a high-quality mask the whole time, and received mockery for it. In crowded North Texas restaurants, diners aren’t masking whatsoever. The US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that’s fine if you’re vaccinated; the UN-based World Health Organization (WHO) disagrees, telling even vaccinated people to mask, since they might be asymptomatic carriers — however, growing evidence suggests those vaccinated with Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna are far less likely to be asymptomatic carriers; studies are underway in this regard for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — and in rare instances, vaccinated people can still become diseased with COVID-19 (a “breakthrough” case), including as a sufferer of Long COVID. Adding to everyone’s confusion, the CDC stopped actively tracking all breakthrough cases, and now tracks only breakthrough cases resulting in hospitalization or death. Meanwhile, the Delta variant of the virus, a more contagious mutation that grows faster inside people’s respiratory tracts than the original, currently accounts for at least a fifth of all United States cases, and COVID-19 is now on the rise in every US state; Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the country, just resumed mandating masks. Getting two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, as I did in March, is effective in protecting against the Delta mutation (though less effective than against the original novel coronavirus), so that’s the basis on which I’m travelling (while masking, handwashing, physically distancing, and meeting only outside insofar as possible), plus the greatly decreased likelihood of a person with an mRNA vaccination being an asymptomatic carrier, something a Harvard-trained doctor I know puts his trust in. Apparently the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines similarly protect decently, though not perfectly, against Delta. Perhaps surprisingly, nobody on my flight to Texas (I’ve yet to fly back to Seattle) caused any trouble; each passenger masked as required without incident. Based on this 2018 study suggesting window seat airline passengers are least likely to catch respiratory illnesses, I got window seats. But SNAFUs (Situation Normal: All Fucked Up) prevented me from getting tested knowledgeably, namely not receiving a timely response back from my primary care physician regarding how vaccination affects COVID-19 tests, likely because her underling completely didn’t answer my question. I asked something like: “How does being vaccinated, versus unvaccinated, affect COVID-19 serology and PCR test results?” And they replied something like, “Are you wondering what type of test you should get?” And it’s like, answer my question or link me to an answer! I’ve taken to replying to such responses, or front-loading my questions with, “If you don’t know the answer, it’s okay to just say that,” and I find interlocuters usually react better. Instead of them trying to extract my motivations. Really, I should have figured out about the testing myself. But testing-while-vaccinated is another example of coronavirus confusions people are enduring. I’ve shown zero symptoms, not even mild ones, since the pandemic began; in fact, I haven’t had any sort of respiratory illness in years and years, probably owing in part to a vegan/glutenfree and low-sugar diet as well as frequent cardiovascular exercise and better sleep than in my past. That’s not to brag; it’s to link you to experience and info that might help. Best I can figure from the CDC in July ’21, for vaccinated people, serology tests to detect past infections no longer work (due to confounding with the vaccine-produced antibodies), but swab tests to detect current presence of the virus do still work. I’d like to get that done prior to spending extensive time with (vaccinated) elderly people indoors, just to be on the safe side; will see how that goes in North Texas. Finally, as for all this being politicized, let’s not forget in February 2020, the Jeffrey Epstein associate and Putin asset, former and probably forthcoming US president Donald Trump called coronavirus a “hoax” (as he calls global warming a “hoax”), and his administration punished US Health and Human Services Department whistleblower Dr Rick A. Bright for Bright’s insisting “on scientifically-vetted proposals” to overcome the pandemic and for pushing “for a more aggressive agency response to COVID-19.” At least two-thirds of a million people dead of coronavirus in the United States since the pandemic started, a decrease in population handy for the oligarchs who, thanks to advanced technology, no longer need as many toiling masses. Locking down hard everywhere for just 100 days would end coronavirus; that’s feasible (see New Zealand’s zero-COVID approach), yet the authorities in the US and elsewhere apparently do what they can to ensure COVID-19 continues, a new permanent paradigm of endless variants, a bit like 9/11 introduced a new permanent paradigm, terrorists as military targets instead of law enforcement suspects and everyone a potential terrorist. Well, maybe the forthcoming University of Washington vaccine will help. Or maybe people will read about coronaviruses prior to 2020 so that they understand masking against respiratory illnesses is a sensible precaution commonly done elsewhere for decades — not tyranny. Next thing you know, libertarians will whine about having their freedumb right to litter taken. I do think those badgering vaccine-hesitant people generally need to have better appreciation for why so many are correctly suspicious of conventional science and conventional medicine, though quacks exist in the alternative science/medicine realm as well, see “the disinformation dozen” spreading fear, uncertainty, doubt, and denial around the coronavirus vaccines. As the last few years have especially shown, propping up subject matter celebs like Neil deGrasse Tyson or whomever, conventional or alternative, and then trying to cheerlead them into winning an advertising blitz on behalf of vaccines or whatever else, is insufficient; having a propagandized public is harmful, whereas having a public capable of self-education is helpful. That requires overhauling our information system.

The color photo shows a grassy residental lawn with a Trump 2024 sign and US flags.
Pic I took this weekend of a Fort Worth lawn near Camp Bowie

The Decline of North Texas Civilization) I’ve been in Fort Worth a full week, and I get a general sense of exhaustion and torpor from Texans. I’m also witnessing little things falling apart. It’s just an anecdotal observation, but the motel I’m staying in — the same as when I last visited two years ago — is even more run-down this time around. When I arrived, the bed lacked pillows, the bathroom lacked towels, and various objects were broken. I’m not the kind of picky person who makes a fuss over such minutiae; the point is merely that North Texas appears to be slowly breaking down. The world has moved on, as those Stephen King Gunslinger books say. I feel tired and lazy, too, which I think is probably a partial result of the overall lower quality of life here, decreases in things like water quality, relative to Seattle. Although that could be my imagination, or more about the odd feelings I’m experiencing around being back here. Except for family member funerals possibly, I don’t think I’ll return to Texas any after this, which is a big change to accept internally. I’m finding the research information I was looking for, and long-ago acquaintances don’t want to meet face to face, probably because deep down, we both know we’re no longer actually friends with a fun energetic connection, or even shared values and interests, beyond fairly superficial things like Star Trek … so that makes sense. I was just curious how their lives have played out, and if they have anything new and exciting to say. Despite half the region now differing — a change I’ll get to below — at least half this region will still likely celebrate the probable return of a Donald Trump presidency, howling once again their bloodthirsty approval for his ideas like bombing accused terrorists’ innocent civilian family members. I hope someday even more people emphatically and consistently insist loudly that adopting If they aren’t paying your bills, then fuck ’em as a civilization-wide strategy has negative consequences for all.

Good stuff about North Texas

Pic I took this weekend of the Boulevard of Greens storefront near where Camp Bowie and I-30 cross

Refuge) Prior to my leaving for the Pacific Northwest at the end of 2015, Fort Worth had only one dedicated vegan restaurant, the noteworthy Spiral Diner on Magnolia Avenue in the Near Southside neighborhood. That neighborhood has continued to develop admirably since I lived here, although I don’t know what the unhappy underbelly might be. Of course, besides Spiral Diner, restaurants for pho and thai and other non-USian (“ethnic”) vegan-friendly food have existed in North Texas for a long time, I think particularly in Arlington (where, an elderly Republican in Fort Worth, panicking from a diet of FOX News, once told me, non-white terrorists are assuredly lurking and soon coming to get us). But now, in 2021, there are more, specifically vegan restaurants even here in Cowtown. There’s Belently’s Love on Bluebonnet Circle, which I haven’t tried yet, serving TexMex. There’s also the amazing Boulevard of Greens, where everything is vegan and gluten-free. They offer a number of smoothies, juices, bowls (including with quinoa and broccoli!), and other invigorating items. Boulevard of Greens really has shifted my visit from miserable to manageable.

It also deserves mentioning that North Texas, especially Fort Worth, has a lot of art museums and other cultural institutions. There’s the Modern Art Museum, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, and the Kimball Art Museum. I’ll probably go see this exhibition at the Amon Carter of work by a photographer born in Saigon during the Vietnam War. The perfectionism of the classical music world can be misery- and stress-inducing, but the performances associated with the Fort Worth-based Van Cliburn Foundation can still be beautiful. And besides art, North Texas has plenty of parks. There’s a once frequent, but now rare due to that “rationally imposed” urban development, ecosystem in Arlington, a bog with unusual plants and animals, that I went to years ago. And of course, the excellent Fort Worth Botanic Garden, where I’ve gone many times. More than a decade ago, I wrote a blog post about a specific tree there, the biggest Southern Magnolia in DFW!

Before the pandemic at least, there were also multiple enjoyable bars/nightclubs with live rock music, that I used to frequent. I can’t find it in me to look up if there are any outdoor shows by musicians I once knew. Guess I just don’t relate to Texas anymore. Reminds me of the song “I’m Not From Here” by the great James McMurtry, himself born in Fort Worth: “Hit my home town a couple years back / Hard to say just how it felt / But it looked like so many towns I might’ve been through on my way to somewhere else […] We can’t help it / We just keep moving / It’s been that way since long ago / Since the Stone Age, chasing the great herds / We mostly go where we have to go.”

Wait, what?) Tarrant County, home of Fort Worth, has long been one of the reddest counties in one of the reddest states, Texas. But in the 2020 presidential election, Tarrant County went blue for Biden. Unfortunately, discussions of elections are dependent — a point still not often acknowledged — on secret, corporate, closed-source computerized vote-tallying. Who counted your vote, name the person! Where was your vote counted, go to the place! Can’t answer those, can you? Yet in the past in the United States, and in the present in Australia and elsewhere, people use(d) handmarked paper ballots, and the ballots were/are counted publicly, observably. Here’s a book and another book on the topic, worth reading. Not to mention the problems with democracy altogether (including direct, representative, and liquid): propagandizing hundreds of millions of people to come to an oversimplified consensus on things that don’t affect them and that they don’t know about, among other troubles. Anyway, I digressed. It’s just interesting to see my hometown turning blue for the first time in my life, if turning blue it indeed has. How can a person begin to appreciate perspectives considered very far-out, like anarchism, if they’re terrified of, or get screamed at or worse for, something as mild as voting for a Democrat? It takes a lot of strength to be a dissident. Maybe the reportedly Biden-blue Tarrant County heralds a change for the better for North Texas.

The Big Wheels, and Dignity) Since there’s little to no public transit in North Texas, I had to book a rental car for my trip. I reserved a polite, Seattle-sized compact vehicle (i.e., very small) and a GPS unit, one of those add-on devices that suction-cups to the front of the automobile. (Yes, I know most people just use their smartphones.) When I arrived, of course the rental car company had overbooked to protect itself against cancellations, so with few cancellations, there were no GPS units available. (And the capitalist Texans explain to each under how “rational” and “Enlightened” this system is, versus the depositories in Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1974 novel The Dispossessed, where nobody owns non-personal items, so if you want an object, just go grab one from the nearby depository, maintained by people who like to do that sort of thing and receive social approval for it.) With no add-on GPS units, the Alamo rental car company (Forget the Alamo, lol) asked me if I was okay with a car that had built-in GPS. I said yes. Except the only vehicle they had with built-in GPS was a Nissan Armada! It’s a full-size, Texas-sized SUV so huge it makes Suburbans and Hummers look tiny. I actually had trouble in a parking garage because the Armada almost hit the ceiling, and almost couldn’t squeeze through the entry lanes, you know with the lowered gate where you take your ticket. In US schools, you hear the word “armada” in connection with the Spanish Armada, a fleet which in battle with the British was completely destroyed! Maybe the Nissan marketers figured no one would remember such a trivial detail as the armada sinking. Once I figured out how to adapt my driving for the Armada — it brakes more slowly than a smaller car, for instance — I started having a hilarious time driving this ridiculous battleship, as a lone guy without a family to pack the air-conditioned seats. All other passenger cars, tiny next to my vehicle, fearfully defer to the surprisingly fast Armada, so I can easily change lanes at whim, king of the road in my big wheels. Guilty pleasure. More seriously, the Armada has Sirius XM satellite radio, enabling me to listen to — wait for it — Ozzy’s Boneyard. A few days ago, the channel/station/whatever was playing an interview with Ross Halfin. The rock photographer told a story about how, in short, a Led Zeppelin member (I forget which) disrespected him in person. Halfin said that after that, he decided never to let anyone else diss him similarly again; the radio hosts murmured their approval. What strikes me about this otherwise mundane conversation is that Halfin didn’t specify the means-whereby, how, he’d ensure others wouldn’t disrespect him — and the hosts didn’t ask. What actions does Halfin take when someone tries to disrespect him in person? What words does he say, and how does he say them? I mean, he (or most anyone) could say something like, Hey fuck you, I don’t take this kind of shit, a string of words that doesn’t exactly require a Ph.D. in Rhetoric to formulate (in fact, most intelligentsia I meet are completely clueless how to handle confrontational situations, stuck abstracting in their ivory towers). While bullies usually back down, what do you do if the bully doesn’t back down? What if it comes to fisticuffs, and what if you’re concerned about getting indicted for assault afterward? I’ve never seen a flowchart for this sort of thing, how to protect one’s dignity, the details. I think it’s extremely important and very overlooked. Insults have a way of piling up over the years, breaking down a person who’s never learned how to respond to them skillfully and quickly, making the person fall prey to internalized oppression and making the person suffer all sorts of health and psychological/sociological problems. Didn’t the civil rights movement in the ’60s address this? What if you don’t want to do a strictly nonviolence-only approach, perhaps because you’re itching to say, Hey shithead, cut it out, or I’m gonna run you over with my Nissan Armada! (Unless it sinks.) If you want to waste eight minutes of your life, here’s Out of Spec Reviews’ youtube take from DFW Airport on the 2021 Nissan Armada, so you can actually see this big-ass Behemoth. Or read about problems of car culture instead.

This blog post, Summer 2021 thoughts from North Texas, by Douglas Lucas, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (human-readable summary of license). The license is based on the work at this URL: https://douglaslucas.com/blog/2021/07/17/north-texas-thoughts-summer-2021/. You can view the full license (the legal code aka the legalese) here. For learning more about Creative Commons, I suggest reading this article and the Creative Commons Frequently Asked Questions. Seeking permissions beyond the scope of this license, or want to correspond with me about this post one on one? Email me: dal@riseup.net.

Whistleblower Dr. Rick Bright’s testimony, part 1.5 of 4

Note: In 2020, I’m writing 52 blog posts, one per week, released on Mondays or so. This is Week 20’s post. It continues last week’s Part 1 post about whistleblower Dr. Bright’s testimony.

Note: When in Texas I first began doubting the political party duopoly in the United States, the best argument against leaving the mainstream corporate culture seemed former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s: “There is no alternative” to biz, lesser evilism, etc. Since then, I’ve found and learned to see many good things too often drowned out by the volume of the duopoly and corporations. If you search my website, twitter, or just ask me (email dal@riseup.net or comment on my blog), I can point you to plenty of prosocial projects to participate in. Soon I’ll write a blog post listing projects I recommend organized by subject matter, etc.

Note: Regarding this post, yes I know conventional science/medicine, like alternative science/medicine, often leaves a lot to be desired to say the least, but I unfortunately don’t have time to get into that part of things in this particular post. If you want material on that topic, please see these by others, for starters: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

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

Same day as Dr. Daniele Macchini’s testimony from Italy, “Q: Mr. President, you were shaking a lot of hands today, taking a lot of posed pictures. Are you protecting yourself at all? How are you — how are you staying away from germs? THE PRESIDENT: Not at all. No, not at all. Not at all. […] Q: Have you considered not having campaign rallies? THE PRESIDENT: No, I haven’t. […] Q: Isn’t it a risk if there’s that many people close together? THE PRESIDENT: It doesn’t bother me at all and it doesn’t bother them at all.” Transcript provided by White House of Friday 6 March 2020 remarks by Donald Trump after tour of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta Georgia.

A week prior at a rally, Trump said: “[T]he Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. You know that, right? Coronavirus. They’re politicizing it. We did one of the great jobs [… The Democrats] have no clue, they don’t have any clue. […] this [disagreeing with him regarding coronavirus] is their new hoax.” Transcript of Trump rally Friday 28 February 2020 in North Charleston, South Carolina. I aim to help replace the Democratic Party and the Republican Party with prosocial self-governance (representative governance is by definition not self-governance); the point is, Trump called disagreeing with him on coronavirus creating a hoax.

Print out on my kitchen floor of the 5 May Washington Post version of Dr. Bright’s exhibits

Following my post last week providing an overview of Dr. Rick Bright’s background and whistleblower complaint, as well as the wider context of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, I’d planned to dig into his complaint to give you a rundown of it. Then in his testimony to Congress on 14 May 2020, he discussed the evidentiary exhibits he submitted along with his complaint. Finding those (some pictured above) turned out more time consuming and interesting than I anticipated. This quick post explains what’s up with his missing exhibits and what we can do about it.

Bibliography versus secrecy

Dr. Bright submitted his whistleblower complaint to the federal Office of Special Counsel on 5 May 2020, along with an unknown number of evidentiary exhibits. In case you’re not familiar, in law an exhibit is basically physical or documentary evidence; in this case, it’s evidence, such as emails, substantiating what he says in the complaint. The law firm representing Dr. Bright publicized his whistleblower complaint, with redactions and no exhibits; I mirrored that file here. On the same day Dr. Bright filed his complaint, the Washington Post‘s Yasmeen Abutaleb (Twitter; yasmeen.abutaleb@washpost.com ) and Laurie McGinley (Twitter; laurie.mcginley@washpost.com ) wrote about it, and linked a document WaPo published containing 27 of his exhibits. The Washington Post exhibits document (which I mirrored here) stops after Exhibit 60. That means, assuming Dr. Bright used a typical sequential numbering scheme and stopped after Exhibit 60, that 33 exhibits are missing, blocked from our view. So where are they?

Step one to finding the blocked exhibits: get organized. On 18 May 2020, I made a list showing which exhibits of his are missing from and which are included in the Washington Post exhibits document. The two journalists bylined on the Washington Post article haven’t replied to my tweets or emails seeking any additional information or clarification, but like politicians, ‘verified’ blue checkmark journalists often respond to volume, so you can contact them too; that’s why their contact info is in the above paragraph. Here’s a screenshot of my list to give you an idea what I’m yammering about.

This is just a screenshot of my list showing such as "Exhibit 1: missing from Washington Post version" and "Exhibit 2: included in Washington Post version"
A portion of my list

In Dr. Bright’s testimony to the federal House energy and commerce subcommittee on health (C-SPAN transcript; Rev.com transcript), he explained that he / his lawyer didn’t give some of his exhibits to the Congressmembers (i.e., he / his lawyer gave them only to the Office of Special Counsel), due to privacy and legal concerns. But Representative Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), chairing the hearing, asked him: “Would you be willing to share the other exhibits once you remove personally identifiable information?” He said “Yes.” Except, whether that means to Congressmembers or to the rest of us—the documents rightfully belong to the public—remains unclear, unless of course we demand or take them (see below).

Via MuckRock, I today submitted a public records request to the Office of Special Counsel for all the exhibits.

To recap: Dr. Bright’s whistleblower complaint is accompanied by exhibits, probably a total of 60. The Washington Post published some of them (less than half, 27). Where are the rest (more than half, 33)? Dr. Bright told Rep. Eshoo he’d make them available. But make them available to Congress — or to us?

Task suggestions

If you’d like to help find the exhibits, our records we’re so far wrongfully barred from seeing, below are some task suggestions toward that goal. Remember, science-y studies and common sense repeatedly demonstrate that (informed) action feels better than anxiety.

  • Ask the Washington Post journalists Yasmeen Abutaleb (Twitter; yasmeen.abutaleb@washpost.com ) and Laurie McGinley (Twitter; laurie.mcginley@washpost.com ) about the full set of exhibits. Where are they, do they have them, give them to us, why not, do it now! etc.

  • Ask Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) the same thing. Here’s her official contact info. Works better if you’re in her district, the 18th Congressional district of California, and/or if you throw money in her general direction, but neither is required to pick up a phone or keyboard.

  • Ask Dr. Rick Bright on Twitter the same thing. Look, I’m grateful for his whistleblowing too, but if in his testimony to the federal Congress he meant just giving the exhibits to them—and if so, they were speaking as if we don’t exist—I don’t appreciate that and neither should you, since we’re the victims here.

  • File open records requests for the exhibits. You can use MuckRock or submit them the old fashioned way. I hit up the Office of Special Counsel already but the more the better the odds they’ll hand the docs over. Somebody should try the relevant Congresspersons and subcommittee(s) too.

  • Stop asking and just take the fucking things, while trying not to get arrested in the process. (Example.)

Garnet yams + tempeh + broccoli, steamed

That’s it until next week. When today I wasn’t writing this post, talking with friends/family, pitching an article, and listening to music, I was cooking. Below, pics of what I made. The seasonings are celtic salt, black pepper, dill weed, garlic powder, sesame seeds, and lemon juice. Be sure to get your tempeh in a glutenfree variety, and then this meal will be vegan and gluten free.

Got that knife from the dollar store!
Throwing everything in the steamer makes cooking and cleaning healthy and efficient
Lightlife makes the only glutenfree tempeh I’ve found in Seattle so far
In Texas, it often seemed vegetables didn’t exist
Traffic jam in my steamer
NOW IS THE TIME to add seasonings
Finished! No, that’s not cocaine; it’s celtic salt, which unlike cocaine is good for you, and has more trace minerals than regular salt

Creative Commons License

This blog post, Whistleblower Dr. Rick Bright’s testimony, part 1.5 of 4, by Douglas Lucas, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (human-readable summary of license). The license is based on a work at this URL: https://douglaslucas.com/blog/2020/05/20/rick-bright-whistleblower-testimony-part15. You can view the full license (the legal code aka the legalese) here. For learning more about Creative Commons, I suggest this article and the Creative Commons Frequently Asked Questions. Seeking permissions beyond the scope of this license, or want to correspond with me about this post otherwise? Please email me: dal@riseup.net.

Whistleblower Dr. Rick Bright’s testimony, part 1 of 4

Note: In 2020, I’m writing 52 blog posts, one per week, released on Mondays or so. This Wednesday post is for Week 19!

Note: When in Texas I first began doubting the political party duopoly in the United States, the best argument against leaving the mainstream corporate culture seemed former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s: “There is no alternative” to biz, lesser evilism, etc. Since then, I’ve found and learned to see many good things too often drowned out by the volume of the duopoly and corporations. If you search my website, twitter, or just ask me (email dal@riseup.net or comment on my blog), I can point you to plenty of prosocial projects to participate in. Soon I’ll write a blog post listing projects I recommend organized by subject matter, etc.

Note: Regarding this post, yes I know conventional science/medicine, like alternative science/medicine, often leaves a lot to be desired to say the least, but I unfortunately don’t have time to get into that part of things in this particular post. If you want material on that topic, please see these by others, for starters: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

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

Same day as Dr. Daniele Macchini’s testimony from Italy, “Q: Mr. President, you were shaking a lot of hands today, taking a lot of posed pictures. Are you protecting yourself at all? How are you — how are you staying away from germs? THE PRESIDENT: Not at all. No, not at all. Not at all. […] Q: Have you considered not having campaign rallies? THE PRESIDENT: No, I haven’t. […] Q: Isn’t it a risk if there’s that many people close together? THE PRESIDENT: It doesn’t bother me at all and it doesn’t bother them at all.” Transcript provided by White House of Friday 6 March 2020 remarks by Donald Trump after tour of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta Georgia.

A week prior at a rally, Trump said: “[T]he Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. You know that, right? Coronavirus. They’re politicizing it. We did one of the great jobs [… The Democrats] have no clue, they don’t have any clue. […] this [disagreeing with him regarding coronavirus] is their new hoax.” Transcript of Trump rally Friday 28 February 2020 in North Charleston, South Carolina. I aim to help replace the Democratic Party and the Republican Party with prosocial self-governance (representative governance is by definition not self-governance); the point is, Trump called disagreeing with him on coronavirus creating a hoax.

Overview

Whistleblower Dr. Rick Bright is scheduled to testify before the United States federal House of Representatives on Thursday 14 May 2020 at a hearing titled “Protecting Scientific Integrity in the COVID-19 Response.” The hearing starts at 10 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (here in Seattle, that’s 7 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time). Find the House committee on energy and commerce webpage for the hearing here. You should be able to watch the hearing live online at this easy-to-remember URL: https://live.house.gov. It should be archived by C-SPAN here-ish, and maybe C-SPAN will stream it live online thereabouts as well. Here’s the PDF of Dr. Bright’s four pages of written testimony for the hearing; here’s his 89-page whistleblower complaint PDF.

In sum, Dr. Bright, a lifelong public servant and scientist to whom the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave its top award, and who as director of the US Department of Health of Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) spent years and years working on global pandemic preparedness capacity and response, formally stated to the US Office of Special Counsel this month that he was retaliated against by his supervisor Dr. Robert Kadlec as punishment for insisting “on scientifically-vetted proposals” to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and for pushing “for a more aggressive agency response to COVID-19” (among other related reasons), so he wants his position at BARDA reinstated — and that’s all putting it in really polite bureaucratic legalese, when the details, discussed/excerpted below, are far more frightening: Team Trump sometimes succeeded in stopping, slowing, ignoring, or taking away the practical protective measures Dr. Bright was fighting for, and instead Team Trump is trying to give you and those you care about treatment, even potentially fatal treatment, backed by zero evidence, zero clinical trials, no nothing except dolla dolla bills and secondary euphoria for his cronies. Though such sociopathy is right on track with history blue or red, read Dr. Bright’s whistleblower complaint and written testimony, watch his testimony live or afterward, and then do something informed about it.

Dr Rick Bright's whistleblower complaint to the US Office of Special Counsel printed out and stacked on my carpet
Some light reading at my place these past few days: Dr. Rick Bright’s 89-page whistleblower complaint

Wider context

Unless canceled, the testimony will happen at a time when the overt United States trade economy (as opposed to, say, covert human/rape trafficking exchanges or non-communist, prosocial sharing economy, or other daily facts typically not included in economist statistics) has just lost from the pandemic something like 20-22 million paid-jobs in a single month (April 2020), more than the country has ever lost in a single month throughout history (including the Great Depression) — and that’s downplaying the continuing crash, since the calculations rely on official statistics leaving out certain measures of people existing outside paid-work. Reuters journalist Ann Saphir explained the granular details quite well in an 8 May 2020 article, except then from the article’s first three paragraphs disappeared the all-important “perspective” of how this particular wiping out of paid-jobs compares with every past wiping out of paid-jobs in the U.S.: it’s eliminated more by a factor of 10 to 12. Since the piece still does not note this unadmitted change (among others) — already a Seattleite told me over the phone she didn’t know about the paid-job implosion, so it’s important for people to have this information accurately — I asked Ann Saphir in two tweets and an email to explain, but she hasn’t responded; will update if she does. I emailed Jennifer 8. Lee from the faded NewsDiffs.org project for pointers to ongoing projects that, like NewsDiffs once did, track unadmitted changes on mega-media websites, much like the time in 2013 when I asked NewsDiffs to track unadmitted changes on wikileaks.org as that hierarchical organization of Julian Assadnge’s was turning into the crap it is now (I stayed on NewsDiffs about this for a year until in 2014 NewsDiffs finally replied to me to decline), to see if the Internet can track unadmitted changes to Reuters articles, but I haven’t found a suitable project so far. It’s crucial because if you email someone an article, you have no guarantee that what they see is what you saw, and also sharing a hyperlink can lead to a criminal indictment, so there’s also no guarantee that the hyperlink you paste still leads to the same content it once did by the time the Department of Justice gets around to clicking it, a poorly understood issue. Ann Saphir I love your article! Just put the “perspective” back and explain what happened with the unadmitted changes and why!

I cooked lentils while writing this post…

If the trade economy’s collapse weren’t enough of a rude awakening, Dr. Bright’s testimony is also scheduled to come at a time when according to John Hopkins University, as of 13 May 2020 in the United States COVID-19 has killed some 77,200 people, far outstripping in less than half a year 58,220 people, the grand total number across decades of US military deaths in the entire Vietnam War. By the way, according to Avi Schiffmann’s global tracker dashboard, as of 13 May 2020 Vietnam reports a grand total for their confirmed COVID-19 cases, only 288, and on 8 May 2020, Reuters reported (at least they did on 13 May 2020 when I last clicked to their article!): “After proclaiming success in containing the coronavirus, Vietnam is positioning itself as a safe place to do business, capitalising on demand from international manufacturers looking to diversify their supply chains away from China.” Although the 77,200 deaths in the United States is a shockingly high number, that sad figure is simultaneously not even a third the quantity of the population of the city of Lubbock, Texas. That’s why many do not yet personally know someone COVID-19 killed or someone who has even showed symptoms, thus explaining, in addition to the international propaganda whether from this country or elsewhere, why I reckon some individuals I interact with are telling me novel coronavirus is a myth, etc. However, a lowball estimate for the total number of United States COVID-19 deaths by the end of this year, well, say roughly 750,000 — three-quarters of a million people — easily (if you’re not familiar with twitter, when checking out those last three links to an autodidact’s tweets, expand by clicking “Show this thread”). The total U.S. population is something like 329 million individuals. Barring dramatic change from, say, the public reading Dr. Bright’s whistleblower complaint and watching his 14 May 2020 testimony at https://live.house.gov and responding not by fearfully requesting but instead by forcing change, a fourth of a percent of USians will be killed by COVID-19 come 31 Dec 2020, bare minimum. The average person in the United States knows around 600 people. Obviously regions and lives differ wildly, but via back of napkin calculations and averaging things out, by New Years Eve 2020, pretty much everyone in this country who’s still alive will personally know at least one person, probably more, novel coronavirus will have killed. Once no longer deniable, this body count, still unimaginable in practical terms today (“What are you preparing for? What are you preparing for? What are you preparing for?” a Washingtonian demanded of me in February when I started sharing info on the disease the World Health Organization declared a pandemic on 11 March 2020; “it’s just the flu; won’t affect my life”) will place us in a very different rhetorical space than we’re in today. Lobotomizing yourself into a lemming by chanting “You care too much” and “You know, there really is a lot of good TV lately” might for the first time no longer be in. And nope, the United States has nowhere near enough hospital beds to handle what’s coming at exponentially faster and faster rates.

Behind the lentils, that’s turmeric-y cauliflower in garlic-y tomato sauce with ginger and olive oil and other stuffs

So to summarize the wider context around Dr. Bright’s testimony:

  • Trade crash: By a factor of 10 to 12, the United States just lost the most paid-jobs in a single month in its history ever
  • Pandemic: Pretty much any US resident still alive on New Years Eve 2020 will personally know at least one, probably more, individuals COVID-19 killed
  • Responsibility: As always, informed action urgently required now from each and every person

Dr. Bright’s biography

Wider context set, back to Dr. Rick Bright’s testimony on Thursday 14 May 2020 10 a.m. Eastern. Here’s (again) the 89-page PDF of the formal whistleblower complaint he filed to the US Office of Special Counsel on 5 May 2020, and here’s (again) a PDF of his four pages of written testimony. But who’s this Dr. Bright and why should you care? After all, many folks are incredibly busy trying to educate their squirming kids and fight off their drug-addicted deadbeat husbands and organize a neighborhood pod to resist their absentee landlords. Let me try to give you a short version.

Dr. Bright — whose monosyllabic aptronym, in the court of public opinion, might be an ace up the sleeve to trump Trump — is according to his written testimony:

a career public servant and a scientist who has spent 25 years of my career focused on addressing pandemic outbreaks. I received my bachelor’s degree with honors in both biology and physical sciences from Auburn University at Montgomery in Alabama. I earned my PhD in Immunology and Molecular Pathogenesis from Emory University in Georgia. My dissertation was focused on pandemic avian influenza. I have spent my entire career leading teams of scientists in drugs, diagnostics and vaccine development — in the government with CDC and BARDA, for a global non-profit organization and also in the biotechnology industry. Regardless of my position, my job and my entire professional focus has been on saving lives. My professional background has prepared me for a moment like this – to confront and defeat a deadly virus like COVID-19 that threatens Americans and people around the globe. I joined the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) in 2010 and from November of 2016 until April 21 of this year, I had the privilege of serving our country as its Director. During the time I was Director of BARDA we successfully partnered with private industry to achieve an unprecedented number of FDA approvals for medical countermeasures against a wide variety of national health security threats.
Headshot of Dr Rick Bright with US flag in background
Dr. Rick Bright’s official headshot from the office of the assistant secretary for preparedness and response, of the US Dept of Health and Human Services, that is, before, as his whistleblower complaint explains, “they had
taken Dr. Bright’s name and image off” and lied to his staff that he’d supposedly “accepted a new job” elsewhere, leaving only the image and bio of the ex-military Dr. Robert Kadlec, Dr. Bright’s supervisor who got rid of him after Dr. Bright successfully stood up to his pro-death bullshit repeatedly including to members of Congress and White House staff. Don’t like that? Tell the office of the assistant secretary for preparedness and response on twitter what you think while you watch Dr. Bright’s testimony

Dr. Bright’s whistleblower complaint gives more of his background:

He began his career researching viruses, immunology, vaccine development, and antiviral drugs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), then transitioned into the biotechnology industry to oversee vaccine and immunology programs as the Director of Immunology at Altea Therapeutics. In 2003, the CDC recruited Dr. Bright to return and he worked to evaluate the comparative merits of antiviral drugs and developed rapid tests for antiviral drug resistance to help combat avian flu. In recognition of his exemplary work, the CDC awarded Dr. Bright the Charles C. Shepard Science Award for Scientific Excellence – the most prestigious scientific award CDC confers. […]

In 2010, Dr. Bright joined the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) as a Program Lead within the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (“BARDA”) Influenza Division International Program. In this role, he was responsible for expanding pandemic preparedness capacity to 12 developing countries, providing each with tools and capabilities to respond to a pandemic. […]

Dr. Bright transformed BARDA into a larger, more stable, and better funded organization, hyper-focused on the single mission of developing drugs and vaccines to save lives. Dr. Bright worked tirelessly to lead a highly skilled technical team of government and industry partners in this mission. His efforts and successes were recognized and reflected in performance appraisals in which he was consistently given the highest possible ratings. See Bright Performance Evaluations, attached hereto as Exhibit 1. Dr. Bright and his team responded to the Zika and Ebola outbreaks and developed diagnostic tests, therapeutics, and vaccines that are being used today. When COVID-19 emerged as a global threat, Dr. Bright was uniquely positioned to lead BARDA in its crucial work of combating this existential public health threat.

But then what happened, right?

Dr. Bright sticks up for himself and you

Dr. Bright’s whistleblower complaint says — the first 26 pages are mostly this and bureaucratic paperwork details — that in April 2020 his supervisor Dr. Robert Kadlec and others “involuntarily removed” him from his “position as Director of BARDA and transferred” him to the National Institutes of Health without warning or explanation why as retaliation because he “insisted on scientifically-vetted proposals, and […] pushed for a more aggressive agency response to COVID-19.” The complaint continues, saying his “supervisor became furious when Congress appropriated billions of dollars directly to” Dr. Bright’s office and when he spoke with members of Congress. They liked, not Dr. Kadlec’s work, but Dr. Bright’s.

Health, right here, except?. Yet it’s missing steamed red potatoes, and there’s no more room…

Dr. Bright asks on PDF page 24 from the Office of Special Counsel “a stay, to be returned to my position as BARDA Director, followed by a full investigation.” On 8/9 May 2020, the New York Times reported that Dr. Bright’s lawyers said that, after looking at the complaint, the Office of Special Counsel did last week make “a threshold determination” that the Department of Health and Human Services “violated the Whistleblower Protection Act by removing Dr. Bright from his position because he made protected disclosures in the best interest of the American public” but this is nonbinding and useless if Trump and the public ignore. Here’s a 49-tweet thread helpfully exploring a 36-page OSS sabotage field manual from 1944 if, say, you’re pissed, ready to admit watching Frasier is downright boring, and you have handy a pair of pliers and some courage.

Now that pages 1 – 26 are finished, PDF pages 84 to 89 of Dr. Bright’s whistleblower complaint helpfully explain acronyms and job titles to go with various names, leaving us with pages 27 – 83: the 56-odd-page addendum submitted by Dr. Bright / his lawyers. This is the real protein of his whistleblower complaint.

To be continued…

This writer needs to go to sleep! I’ll post Part 2 soon, hopefully tomorrow, including what became of my lentils. Remember: https://live.house.gov Thursday 14 May 2020 at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Creative Commons License

This blog post, Whistleblower Dr. Rick Bright’s testimony, part 1 of 4, by Douglas Lucas, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (human-readable summary of license). The license is based on a work at this URL: https://douglaslucas.com/blog/2020/05/13/rick-bright-whistleblower-testimony-part1/. You can view the full license (the legal code aka the legalese) here. For learning more about Creative Commons, I suggest this article and the Creative Commons Frequently Asked Questions. Seeking permissions beyond the scope of this license, or want to correspond with me about this post otherwise? Please email me: dal@riseup.net.