Overly Simplified.

Once more, I’ve been thinking. You’ll notice I do that, every day, forever. The past few days I’ve had many thoughts on the simplification of life, the world, the events of the world, our societies, our economies, and how everything, everywhere, works. Mostly, none of the thoughts have been good.

It’s a complicated process to explain, this simplification of life that backfires, and results in life not working at all. But it’s all tied to an innate need people have to feel in control of their lives, and their worlds, and to feel safe.

To understand the depth, width, and scale of this topic, I need to provide many examples. It will take a while to illustrate this, so this will not be the only time I speak of this overly simplified world people insist on making.

Since this topic is observable across every aspect of life on this planet, I can start with pretty much any aspect of life, and illustrate the process. Where to start? How about here?

I have several friends who have chronic physical illnesses. These range from ME/CFS through EDS, IBS, Crohn’s Disease, and an entire book of names. I’ll start with ME/CFS, just because it works as well as any of the rest of them.

ME/CFS is, typically, not considered a disease by many people. It’s considered, “laziness”, and “a play for disability benefits”. This is the case because there’s not a precise definition for ME/CFS. In other words, it has no physically documented causes. You can’t run a blood test for it. You can’t see it in an MRI scan of the patient. You can’t see it in CAT scans. Or X-Rays. Or EKGs.

Conventional medical testing used to identify the conditions people are dealing with never identify ME/CFS. This is because ME/CFS is not typical. And therein lies the problem, and the chaos that overly simplified thinking produces.

The best understanding I’ve found, to date, of ME/CFS is difficult for most people to understand. It’s something that happens at the cellular level of the human body, where the body’s cells enter into a constant, unending, self preservation state, similar to when the body is at risk of starving, freezing, or other traumatic situations. The cells go into a mode of conserving energy. They stop producing energy. They shut down.

The result is, the ME/CFS patient has no energy. It hurts to move. It hurts to breathe. It hurts to listen to the heating and cooling systems in their house. It hurts to turn on a light in the room. It hurts to pull the covers of the bed on. It hurts to take them off.

With the cells of their bodies effectively shut down, and not producing energy for use, movement becomes limited. No energy in the body, no energy produced by the cells of one’s muscles, means no movement. Movement burns what energy does exist. Movement is contrary to survival, at the cellular level. Movement shuts down. When these people do move, they end up burning what little energy they have, and can remain nearly motionless, and in intense pain, for days afterward. Sometimes, even for weeks.

Food does not solve the problem. Exercise does not solve the problem. Therapy does not solve the problem. The problem is at the cellular level of the body. Until the cells can be reset to function normally, instead of in an emergency state to conserve energy, and maintain life at all cost, the problem continues to exist.

These symptoms, this cellular condition, is something that medical testing procedures don’t address, and don’t identify. The result is the lament, “ME/CFS doesn’t exist.” With ME/CFS victims being informed there is nothing wrong with them.

Welcome to overly simplified medicine. Where medicine as practiced assumes we know everything, and test for everything, and can identify everything, and can solve everything. And anything that we can’t identify, can’t fix, can’t test, simply doesn’t exist.

We have no problem with physical conditions like broken bones. Those are easy to observe, and identify. We also have methods of solving the conditions of broken bones. Bone replacement. Bone mending. Bone reconstruction. We know how to fix broken bones, such as broken legs, and fingers.

ME/CFS? We can’t even identify its causes. So it doesn’t exist. We don’t know how it works, so it doesn’t exist. We can’t correct the problem, so it doesn’t exist.

It comes down to black and white, as a staggeringly simplified view of the world, and of diseases, and of how the human body works, and interacts with the environment we all live in. It comes down to a desperate, ingrained need to feel in control of ourselves. Of our environments. To feel safe.

For ME/CFS to exist, we have to admit we don’t know what it is, we don’t know who can or can’t get it, we don’t know how to treat it, we don’t know how it works. We have to admit we are not in control, we don’t know everything, and we aren’t nearly as safe as we want to be.

As a result, to maintain that image of safety, security, stability, and control, many people have concluded ME/CFS doesn’t exist. It can’t exist within their framework of reality. They don’t know anyone who lives with it. They don’t know anyone who knows what it is, or how it works. They know that ME/CFS victims apply for disability benefits, when medical testing shows there is nothing wrong with them.

It all adds up to an overly simplified view of life. A view limited to the perspective, and experience of the individual, and the individual’s need to feel safe, and secure, in their life.

The result? ME/CFS spreads, slowly, within a segment of the population of the world, and most people don’t even admit it exists.

It’s life. Overly simplified. In the names of security, safety, and comfort.

I’ll speak more about this overly simplified life in additional posts. As I’ve said already. I see this over simplification of reality in virtually every aspect of society. There is much more to say about it.


Imperfect Copies Are A Problem

Take a freshly painted work of art, or a photograph that’s printed the first time. Now, feed it through a copy machine, and compare the copy to the original. Repeat the process, using the copy to create a second copy, then the second copy to create the third. What you find is, gradually, imperfections creep into the copy.

Take a large digital image, with 100 million pixels, and make repeated copies of it. Computers do an amazing job, but everyone knows, sooner or later, bit level errors do turn up. You can’t copy that much data perfectly every time.

Take a small clump of RNA (we call them viruses), which has millions of components, and have it replicate endlessly. You see the same process, with imperfections appearing in the copies. Tiny imperfections, certainly, but they are imperfections.

In most cases, the imperfections in copies can be ignored. Either they are insignificant in size, or they don’t change the image enough to make any difference. Sometimes, they wreck the image, and the image gets destroyed. Sometimes, they enhance the image in surprising ways.

I bring this up because it’s my understanding of how viruses work. The virus duplicates itself, endlessly, but not quite perfectly. Imperfections appear in the duplicates. Most of those imperfections are harmless, or meaningless. Some of those imperfections actually damage the virus, making the virus less virulent, and thus killing of virus copies that have those imperfections.

But, sometimes, if enough copies of the virus get made, copies show up that have improvements in them. That make the virus more virulent. That make the virus better at making copies of itself, and spreading faster. That help the virus infect animals, and spread.

When you remove all limits to the rate at which a virus can copy itself, the rate at which such changes occur may not increase, at a statistical level. However, due to the unlimited way in which the virus spreads, the appearance of such improved copies of a virus will become more frequent. It’s like making more copies in less time. The more copies you make, the better the odds that one will have an improved ability to spread, or copy itself.

This is where people can take individual actions to reduce how rapidly such changes happen in a virus. If people can take action that slows down the rate at which the virus replicates, they slow down the rate at which the imperfect replication process can produce an imperfect copy that improves the virus, and makes the virus more virulent.

Some societies understand this. They use social methods to slow down the virus replication process. They wear masks. They practice social distancing. They wash their hands thoroughly. They care about their neighbors, and want their neighbors to be safe from the virus.

Some societies do not understand this. They reject social methods to slow down the virus replication process. They refuse to wear masks. They refuse to practice social distancing. They refuse to wash their hands. They want personal freedoms above everything else, even if their neighbors get sick and die.

This is what is happening in the world now, from my perspective. A significant section of the world population is effectively not attempting to slow down the virus replication process, and instead, is letting the virus run wild, and replicate at will. This increases the number of copies of the virus that get made. And as I’ve already said, the more copies that get made, the more times the virus can make an imperfect copy that improves its ability to spread.

In the case of the SARS-Cov-2 virus, you can see this replication process at work, with new variants of the virus occurring. In each case, the significant new variants were identified in parts of the world that do not have social practices that slow the replication process of the virus down. The Delta and Omicron variants are the best examples. Simply identify where those variants first appeared, and it becomes apparent that letting the virus run wild, and make endless copies of itself, improves the odds that the virus will make an imperfect copy of itself that increases its ability to make copies of itself, simply because more imperfect copies of the virus turn up, since the virus can make more copies of itself.

Things like vaccines can help the body form defenses that limit the rate at which the virus can make copies of itself. This is why we have vaccines. Not to prevent the virus from happening, but to limit how many copies of itself it can make. If the virus can’t make copies of itself, the number of imperfect copies decreases, and the chances an imperfect copy of the virus gets made that improves the ability of the virus to spread, decreases.

A vaccine does not prevent the virus. It’s not supposed to. It’s not meant to. It’s purpose is to reduce the rate at which the virus can replicate itself. It is, again, a social tool to limit the rate of replication, and thus the rate of change, that a virus can have.

Now, we have societies, and sections within societies, that are rejecting this tool, the vaccination, and insisting on allowing the virus to replicate endlessly. As I’ve already said, this replication process is the cause of virus variants that improve the spread of the virus.

These social behaviors that make no effort to limit the rate of replication of a virus leave me wondering how the societies based on them have survived, and how many times those societies have endured hardships, and diseases, they didn’t need to endure.

Suffice to say, it is an educational experience to watch how the societies of the world behave when a virus, such as the SARS-Cov-2 virus, spreads to every society. It becomes very apparent, looking at virus case numbers, which societies believe in limiting the rate of replication of the virus, and which societies don’t. It also becomes very apparent how limiting the rate of replication limits the number of imperfect copies that improve the virulent nature of the virus, while not limiting the rate of replication increases the rate at which imperfect copies appear that improve the ability of the virus to spread, and make additional copies of itself.

It is something I have been watching, and thinking about a great deal in the past two years, as the COVID-19 virus has spread across the planet.

When The Baby Has No Bowels At Birth

There are things I always have to ask, always have to think about, always wonder about. Like this one, for example.

I have a cousin, I won’t name him, but he’s within two years of my age, and he has daughters. One of his daughters recently gave birth to a baby boy. The baby boy was born with his bowels outside of his body. His bowels are dead. The baby can’t digest food of any kind, and is dependent on intravenous feeding. Obviously, the baby can’t survive by conventional means.

After a couple of months, there is an option to try to keep the baby alive. It’s not an inexpensive option, and there is no guarantee it will work. In fact, there is a high probability it won’t work, and the baby will die.

The option requires the baby, and baby mother, to be flown across the country to a specialty hospital that has baby bowels available, and can attempt to transplant at least some bowels into the new baby.

The family has some insurance, but not enough. And Medicaid has declined to fund the procedure. Statistically, as I have indicated above, the procedure is high risk, and does not have a good chance of being successful. From a financial perspective, where managing risk, and limiting losses and failures are concerned, the Medicaid decision makes sense. It’s likely the baby will die even if the surgery is performed, and is a success.

The result is, the family is now trying to raise the money for the surgery, in an effort to give the baby any chance at all of surviving, knowing that even with the surgery, the baby might not survive.

I bring this up because of thoughts. In particular, about the abortion rights question, and about the topic of giving every unborn baby a fighting chance. In particular, I ask the question, what would you have done, and what would you do?

That the baby was born with his bowels outside his body says much about prenatal care, and well baby checkups during the pregnancy. In particular, it says that the checkups and care were not performed adequately. Given the current capabilities of ultrasound systems, and other imaging technologies, it would have been, and should have been, obvious during the development of the baby, over the course of his mother’s pregnancy, that this was a problem.

Instead, due to the costs of such care, and the limits of insurance in the country, the state of the baby was not known until the baby was born.

Had the condition of the baby been known, what would have been the appropriate action or actions to take to correct the condition. Would it have been possible to perform in-vitro surgery on the baby to open the baby up, and move the bowels back inside the baby, to allow them to develop? Or, would it have already been too late, as the bowels, outside the baby’s body, died, having been cut off from blood flow, and the protection they would have had inside the baby’s body?

If it became apparent during the pregnancy that the baby would be born with no bowels, and would die without surgery that had a low success rate, what would have been the best option for the family, for the mother?

I am left questioning the idea of bringing such babies to full turn, and having them born, only to have them die in a few weeks, or months, knowing that the medical system in the country can’t really help them.

And yet, here we are, as a country, rapidly banning the use of abortion in all cases of pregnancy, and forcing babies to be carried to term, no matter what. With the result that we will have babies born with such conditions. Babies that will not survive. Babies that will be born dead, due to lack of functioning body parts, such as hearts with holes in them, skulls that did not close, leaving brains exposed, brains that did not form, and other such problems.

I have heard the argument of it being a natural process, and working as designed by God. But I’m left wondering why God would allow us to develop the technologies to identify such difficult pregnancies before the babies are born, if we aren’t supposed to use them to make decisions about the viability of such babies.

I have always questioned the black and white perspective of any topic, and as you can see from the above, I have questioned that perspective with much thought and observation. I don’t see any black and white answers to such a question. But I do wonder if, sometimes, abortion is the correct thing to do, because such problems as these occur.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2021/11/15 (Week 225)

Daddy always told me, “Never take anyone at face value.” Took me a lot of years to figure out what the hell he was saying, but eventually, I did figure it out. Never trust your first reaction to anyone. Never take anyone’s actions, or words, by how they appear. Always look deeper. Always learn who they really are.

Sitting in my chair at that meeting, Daddy’s words echoed in my head, and for good reasons. Every last person at that table had their own motives, their own agendas, their own goals. And none of them matched what they were saying.

Laura sat to my left. Pretty lady, and I admit that. But, pretty as she was, she had an ugly side when it came to the project. She was ruthless with the schedule. “George can finish this set of functions by a week from Sunday. Larry can get the new module written by then too. That way, Sue and Tim can test things out for 5 days, with George and Larry on call, to fix any problems they find in testing.  And in 3 weeks, we can have this update ready for production.”

So much in there she didn’t say. Like how George and Larry could spend all night, every night, during that time frame, getting the work done. After all, what’s 60, 70, even 80 hours of work, when Laura’s project management future was at risk?

Next to Laura was Steven. He was the project manager for the hardware team. He was like Laura. All business looking, never got mad, nice guy. And would crucify his wife and both his kids, if it meant the hardware was ready in time. Steve never worked a minute extra. That was what the hired help was for.

Across the table  from Laura was Henry, who was in charge of the project contract for the US Navy. Henry minced no words, and declared everything had better be ready for production on time, since it was going to be fielded in one month. Henry didn’t care how it got done, as long as it was done.

Across from Steven was Mr. Edwards. That’s it. He didn’t have a first name. He was Mr. Edwards. He worked for the base commander. “I find these timelines acceptable. I’ll be happy to inform the Admiral the update will be ready on time, and working.”

At the head of the table was the President of the company I worked for. “I’m glad we had this meeting, and have been able to straighten out the kinks in the plan, and clarify all the details.” The man would fire anyone who didn’t meet a deadline. Because. Not meeting a deadline made him look bad. No one was allowed to make him look bad.

There we all sat. At that table. At that meeting. And not one honest word was said.

“Remember, the contract does not allow for overtime, or comp-time. Only the flat rate 40 hours a week. That’s it.”

“Oh, we don’t work overtime. Our people know that. They plan ahead, and schedule things properly.”

Laura, Steven, Henry, Mr. Edwards, and the President, would all go home on time that afternoon. They’d eat dinner with their spouses, and their kids. They’d go to the PTA meetings, or the school orchestra performances, or the basketball games. They’d be there for their families.

George and Larry were working 65 hours a week, for 40 hours pay. Full time employees. Exempt from Overtime. No overtime for them. And they worked 65 hours a week, because they couldn’t afford to lose their jobs.

George told me he hadn’t seen either of his kids in the past month. He left the house each day before they got up, and worked until after their bedtime. His wife had stopped fixing any food of any kind for him. George was living on fast food breakfast biscuit sandwiches, black coffee, candy bars, potato chips, 4 16 ounce cans of energy drinks a day, and grocery store bought, throw it in the oven and cook it pizza at night. He was main lining ibuprofen, like a street junky mainlined crack.

Larry was divorced. His daughter never spoke with him. She’d sent him a birthday card a few weeks ago. She’d scrawled, at the bottom, “I hope you die soon, you  bastard.” He lived in a trailer park, and drove a 1981 Ford Pinto. I don’t know how he kept it running. Larry was brilliant. Larry was an alcoholic. Sometimes, he coughed blood onto his keyboard. No one in the company would touch Larry’s keyboard.

And there were Laura, Steven, and the President. Killing George and Larry.  And they knew they were killing them. So what? They were just expendable human resources. Tools to be used, and replaced when they broke.

And every deadline that got met, every birthday that happened, every time someone’s kids made honor roll in school, Laura, Steven, and the President all called time out, for cake and soda, to celebrate the occasion.

My Daddy said, “Never take anyone at face value.”

He was right. I always look deeper than that. I always look for what’s inside their cold, empty, ruthless, heartless souls. Just behind that facade they hide behind.

Who cares how many words

The picture for Week 225 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge got to me. I had to figure out how to put what it said to me into words others can read if they wish. You can learn about Miranda’s challenge here. The stories people share for the weekly challenge are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed.

#ThursThreads Week 487 : I Can’t Abandon Them.

After my shower, and my pain pills, I sat down at the kitchen table, and Deborah put a plate of bacon, scrambled eggs, toast with jelly, and a glass of straight whiskey in front of me. “You need it.” She rested her hand on my shoulder, “Harvey. It’s not your fault, what happened to me.”

I didn’t say anything.

“It’s not your fault I’m broken inside.”

I tried to eat something. Failed. Grabbed the whiskey, downed it, trying to wash away everything I felt. Failed. Again.

“You got me out.”

“I wasn’t soon enough.”

“You got me out.”

I poked at the eggs with my fork. “Is she broken already?”

Deborah didn’t say a word.

“I’m already too late again, aren’t I.”

“Please, Harvey. Eat something.”

I shoveled in a bite of the eggs, then a slice of the bacon. Then, I looked at her.

“You already know. Why are you asking me?” Sometimes, I swear she could look right through me, straight to my soul. “You already know.”

“Sometimes, I think I have enough scars, and maybe I should stop. Forget everything. Go somewhere, and drink myself dead.”

Those empty eyes she had. Me knowing she couldn’t care about anyone, or anything, that she was empty inside, as she looked through me. Her empathy reading me like a book. “You won’t.”

“I won’t.” I finished the eggs. “I can’t abandon them. Other hidden ones.” I even tried to smile, “Her.”

“You’ll save her, Harvey. Like you saved me.”

249 Words

It’s Week 487 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who show up every week.