On September 30th, 2021, I, along with many family and friends, buried my brother Mike. He’d recently contracted covid, and thinking he had the flu, continued to live life as best he could until he finally realized he was seriously sick. With his comorbidities and his delay in taking care of himself, plus what I think is a poor standard of medical care, Mike had little chance of surviving.
The most common and quick question anyone asks is if he was vaccinated. I understand, as many are very fearful of this virus and hoping the vaccine is their panacea. Mounting evidence suggests that is not the case; vaccines are proving to be much less effective and long-lasting than originally advertised. Still, people are hopeful and looking for anecdotal evidence to help understand their personal risk. I don’t know for certain, but I believe he was not vaccinated. If this causes you to think he got what he deserved, or he didn’t deserve medical treatment, you’re an asshole. It really is that simple.
See his official obituary here.
My Euology to Mike
At the funeral, I was one of many to share memories and thoughts regarding Mike. This was my eulogy.
I was blessed to video conference into Mike’s hospital room the day before he was taken off life support. To my surprise, Mike was awake. He was moving his head and maybe responding to me. I told him he needed to get better because I wanted to kick his butt for not taking better care of himself. I don’t know if he understood me. In any case, he didn’t get better. Thank you, Kim, for giving me that last moment with him.
As kids, we got into a fair amount of trouble. Mom and Dad can vouch for this. One time, we were horsing around in the haymow after we were done milking cows one night. I was chasing Mike in a circle, up a pile of straw bales that had fallen over so we could climb them, then run across the top of the straw that was still stacked, and down a rope that hung from the rafters. I think the rope descent was about 15 ft. Normally, I would have no chance to catch Mike, who was 6 years older than me, but climbing up the straw was hard work and it nullified some of Mike’s speed advantage. My advantage was a willingness to jump to catch the rope at the top of the straw, rather than the more sensible approach of securely grabbing the rope before sliding down, which Mike preferred. As a result of my risk-taking, I determined I was gaining a half step on every lap and estimated I’d catch him in about 6 more rounds. At that point, I guess I just tackle him and I’m a winner or something; I have no idea how this game started.
The last thing I remember was seeing the rope just beyond my outstretched hand as I sailed by, and thinking “oh crap”, or whatever equivalent a maybe 7-year-old would think in that situation. The next thing I knew I was waking up in the living room, with my brothers and sisters breathing a sigh of relief; maybe things would turn out okay. When I stood up to use the bathroom, I fell as soon as I put weight on my right foot. We all knew the gig was up. This wasn’t something we’d be able to hide. It was a partial fracture, not a complete break, so in the final analysis, it was worth it. The memory is more important than the temporary injury.
When I boarded the plane to come back here for Mike’s funeral, the guy next to me was outgoing and talkative. He told me he was heading back to join a party with his family and asked why I was heading back. I somewhat tersely replied, “to bury my brother”. People around me got quiet and no one knew what to say for a moment, and then offered condolences and offering to pray for him. I thought about why I wanted to burden people around me with this. It was selfish of me and they didn’t deserve it. I realized I was a little angry.
Mike, I’m angry with you. I know you didn’t intend to die, but I wish you’d have taken better care of yourself, especially when you knew you were sick. You could’ve prioritized your family more, and your other obligations less. I know when you committed to something you did it 100%, but I wish you had made different choices.
I’m angry with myself, too. I didn’t enjoy enough experiences with you. I’d endure another bone break to have another good time with you, get another good story and a good laugh. I didn’t know we were running out of time. I’m not ready to say goodbye. My priorities weren’t the best either.
You remind all of us how important it is to live in the moment, to tell and show the people you love that you love them, to build experiences with friends and family, to make choices you won’t regret when you suddenly realize your time with them is over. You remind us we never know when we’re sharing time with someone for the last time. One time, it will be.
Thank you for those lessons and reminders, Mike. I’m still a little angry, but I’ll get over this and I’ll learn. I wish you could’ve taught me this in a less drastic and final way. Rest in peace, brother. I love you and I’m going to miss you.
Expounding on my Anger
I mentioned that I’m angry, and I am at several entities and people. The primary mistakes made here are Mike’s. He, and everyone else, are responsible for their health. If you outsource that to your doctor, some government institution, to your political party, you’re a fool. That said, it is hard for people to be informed when disinformation and lack of accountability are the norms.
Let me expound.
Government Health Institutions
The CDC seems to be much more concerned about its image than actually acting in a manner to deserve a positive image. Their lack of direction, in the beginning, is somewhat understandable as this was a new virus with little information coming out of China on the infection and morbidity rates. But once they decided on a course of action, they seemed to change into a completely political organization. How so?
- They refuse to change their guidance in spite of clear evidence their guidelines are ineffective, and some alternatives have promise. This seems to be a financial decision: if it doesn’t make a lot of money, it’s not a safe option. I suspect the underlying problem is more systemic: the CDC director is a political appointee; that makes the CDC a political organization.
- They provide no context for their numbers, and choose numbers that are more scary. In the early phases of the pandemic, it was about the number of cases. Then, as the pandemic was peaking, it became about deaths, which is much Should I be worried that more important than cases, but until then the death numbers didn’t look scary enough. Even then, they had to treat anyone who dies with Covid died from Covid regardless of the facts. Then, as the number of deaths stopped being scary, it became emergency room capacity, and as of January 2022, we’re back to the number of cases.
- And missing from all of this was any context. Should I be concerned about 37,000 deaths in a month? Is that a lot? Is that a 1% increase in deaths, a 10%? Are emergency rooms at capacity unual this time ofzyear, as many viruses are seasonal? Does it mean there’s no more emergency room capacity at all, or at capacity for the rooms setup to handle Covid cases, another important distinction the media doesn’t want to discuss. I think it matters if we’re going to force businesses into bankruptcy and destroy the value of the currency in response.
- Some people say this doesn’t matter; any deaths from Covid are excess deaths and should be prevented, but why are deaths from Covid so much more important than deaths from heart disease, traffice accidents, alcoholism, etc. Why this religous aspect to Covid, wich must be stopped at all costs, but other causes of death are accepted as a normal part of life? I try to be a rational person, and this doesn’t make any rational sense to me. People are irrational about Covid, after watching “fear porn” about Covid for years.
- By the way, not watching mainstream news has been one of the most useful choices I’ve made. There’s little news; it’s mostly propoganda, and what news there is doesn’t really affect me. If it’s real news that affects me, I’ll get it from more reliable sources, fed to me at a much slower rate, through weekly or montly newsletters of interest.
- Here’s an interesting chart that tracks excess deaths. This gives some context on the deaths. It’s somewhat debatable as it’s clear Covid death numbers were being inflated, at least in 2020, but the trends are clear. There have been 4 peaks to Covid deaths so far, and deaths have been at the normal level during the summer of 2021. That didn’t stop the mainstream news and politicians from screaming about Covid though. Not that Covid stopped being a concern in those times; my point is the heavy bias toward fearmongering without any context.
- A thank you to Mark Edge of FreeTalkLive.com for providing me the link. I stopped into the FTL studios in March of 2020, and I was disappointed I didn’t get to meet him.
- They’re opaque on their reasoning and ignore real-world evidence. Instead of explaining their guidance, which would expose them to questions, they simply repeat their guidelines like robots. At no time is there any discussion of how effective their recommendations are, or any analysis of results that bring their recommendations into question. They are absolutely not following the science.
- For example, when asked why Texas didn’t have the expected (dare I say, hoped for) rise in Covid cases when they dropped the mask mandate, Dr. Fauci guessed maybe because they’re outside. He has no idea, and has no interest, it seems, in learning why. This is simply how the CDC seems to operate.
- When questioned on why people who’ve had Covid and recovered should get vaccinated (after ignoring the possibility of natural immunity for over a year), they made up the idea that it might help protect against the Delta variant. The had zero evidence of this; they just made it up to support the “vaccine only” ideology. Then this study came out that disagreed strongly. But that’s just not an option for the CDC; so they did their own studies to show the vaccines can work better. Any explanation for the Israeli study results? Can anyone replicate your results (that’s not paid by big pharma)? Color me skeptical.
- It’s clear the vaccines are not effective at preventing people from getting Covid. The NFL gives some insight as they test everyione, unvaccinated every day, and vaccinated people weekly. Covid is running through the NFL for the 2nd straight year, and it’s clear it’s not due to unvaccinated players as they must test negative every day. It’s possible the vaccine reduces the window when the virus is transmissable, but again, how much time and how does this actually affect transmissibility? For all the screaming about science, there’s precioius little of it.
- They continue to deny the risks of gain-of-function research, which they actively fund. They now try and redefine what this term means to try and divert the questions. If you believe it’s important to do gain-of-function research, say it and justify it.
- One argument is it’s important because other nation states are doing it so we need to do it for defensive reasons. If that’s your justification, maybe, just maybe, don’t pay a potential adversary to do it for you.
- They ignore steps people can take to improve their health and immunity. They’re part of the “vaccine-only” cult-like mentality. This mirrors the “abstinence-only” thinking conservatives had toward sex education back in the 80s and 90s. Knowing how not to get pregnant might make you more likely to have sex, so keep that danger in play. Likewise, the vaccine-only cult want’s to increase compliance by trying to suppress and take away anything else that might make Covid less deadly.
- Some lifestyle choices have clearly been linked to reducing Covid morbidity, such as vitamin D supplementation if you’re levels are low (and most people’s levels are low), losing weight, eating less junk food, exercising more.
- Embarrassingly, health clubs and outdoor venues were shut down, liquor stores were kept open. Obviously, health wasn’t a top priority here.
If you still watch any of the mainstream media organizations, I have to ask, what is wrong with you? The only thing that makes sense is you like to hear your emotion-based believes reinforced. It’s clearly not because you care to know what’s happening in the world and learn about alternative opinions. There is very little news on the “news” channels; it’s mostly 1-part news to 9-parts opinions about that bit of news.
Seriously, stop doing that. Let those dinosaurs die. I stopped watching the mainstream media long ago, and it was one of the better decisions I’ve made. Even if they cover actual news, am I really affected by some killing in Texas? I’m not. If it’s really newsworthy, it’ll be discussed by more credible sources.
The Medical Cartel
You may not think of medicine as being run by a cartel, and by definition, it may not be, but it clearly functions as one. Every medical provider must be approved by a single organization, the American Medical Association (AMA). All doctors who follow the AMA guidelines are reasonably safe from being prosecuted or losing their AMA-granted license to practice medicine.
So, doctors really must do what the AMA, and therefore the CDC, says, or risk losing their license. How do you treat Covid? Give them Remdesivir, because that’s the approved treatment despite its huge failure rate, and alternatives will not be applied. If you want to break ranks with the AMA, you need to do your research upfront and find alternative treatments.
It gets back to you being primarily responsible for your health. If you completely outsource this, that’s on you. Definitely listen to doctors, but maybe not just one, and maybe not just doctors who are required to be subservient to the AMA. Cartels like the AMA have little interest in taking chances they’re not convinced they must take.
My brother Mike
As I mentioned earlier, you are the one primarily responsible for your health. The disinformation from political pundits was relentless, and there are reasons to be cynical about all the hype and fear-porn being sold. Yes, the death rate from a Covid infection is about 1%, although, with the horrible job done in tracking true causes of death over the last year, it’s hard to be confident that number isn’t inflated. But if you have some of the factors that make you a higher risk, you need to consider your chances are lower. Mike had several of these, but I won’t expound on what as I don’t know personally.
Despite the vaccine’s long-term safety being unclear, at some point, you need to consider if it’s worth the risk. With Mike’s risk factors, I don’t think he made the right call. Still, it’s his call and I can certainly understand refusing to be coerced to take a medical treatment that’s being supported by political bias and misinformation.
I discussed this in my eulogy. I wasn’t as close to Mike as I could have been. We all get busy with life and we don’t take the time to reach out and feed our relationships. I need to do that more. Mike and I disagreed on many things and agreed on many others. I don’t find echo chambers the most useful type of relationship. I valued my time with Mike, and I should’ve cultivated this more and got more from it.
This post has become more about my thoughts regarding Covid and how it’s been handled than about Mike. Well, it’s my blog, so there’s that, but it’s also relevant because I believe Mike and I would’ve had a lot of common ground on this, and I have no doubt the religious-like fervor around Covid was a factor in Mike’s choices. I wish this was a discussion with him rather than a posthumous post.
Don’t hear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying you shouldn’t wear masks or get vaccinated, or boosters every 6 months if that’s what you believe is your healthiest option. I am saying you shouldn’t follow this guidance blindly like some non-player character. It’s clear the CDC has been wrong over and over again, and they will continue to be because, as a political organization, they’re not able to admit any failures. Any time a virus spreads where the vast number of people are complying with the CDC guidelines they insist. without any evidence or real analysis, people really aren’t obeying the rules. As a friend and co-worker said to me long ago, you cannot manage lies; people cannot make good decisions based on false or incomplete information. Sadly, this is the situation with the US government health system. Think critically. Ask intelligent questions. Listen to, and try to understand, contrary viewpoints. Be empathetic (a.k.a., don’t be an asshole). Health is not a religion.
I’ve criticized various mainstream sources. Some misguided people might ask what sources I recommend. Here are a few I’ve found to be informative. This is just a sampling that seems relevant to this topic.
- The dark horse podcast
- Bret Weinstein and Dr. Heather Heying discuss may aspects of health. They’ve done numerous podcasts on Covid, and have the background to know what they’re talking about. Nevertheless, as they sometimes venture outside the accepted talking points, they’re in regular danger of being canceled in some degree (which simply increases their credibility to me).
- Breaking points news cast
- Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti cover the news without any favoritism to the 2 major parties. That said, they do tend to favor government solutions to most everything, so I often don’t agree with their proposed solutions, but the information is good. Bear in mind there’s a lot of “this is stupid” talk, so if you disagree you’re, by extension, stupid. It does get old, but the information is good. It’s the only broad-topic news source I listen to these days.
- The Intercept
- Glenn Greenwald’s reporting is excellent. He’s regularly dissecting the lies and misrepresentations of the mainstream media. He’s a gay socialist the liberals and mainstream media love to hate.
- “The Premonition: A Pandemic Story”, by Michael Lewis. It discusses some of the history of various government health organizations and their people. It’s critical of the CDC, especially how they seem much more interested in writing academic papers than helping the medical community respond to health issues, and the history of its politicalization.
As for Mike, I wish I could tell him I’m sorry that I didn’t stay in touch with him more; that we didn’t share more time together. I’m sorry I wasn’t more influential in his health choices, although he was a very stubborn man and I don’t know how much influence I would’ve had. It does seem to run in the family.
I wish I would’ve said goodbye to him like it might’ve been our final goodbye. That’s the most impactful lesson I’m taking away from this. Be aware that every meeting could be your last with that person. Don’t take this for granted.