Monday, March 30, 2020

The unpredictable yet predictable targets of SARS-CoV-2

I've tried to help myself and others discern SARS-CoV-2.

The best analogy I have come up with is as follows.

Imagine you have a less-than-mentally-stable-gun-carrying person passing through your town and possibly into your neighborhood. Let's call her Martha.

Imagine that Martha might walk down your street in the days that she was passing through your town.  Martha's presence would be unpredictable, she may be in your town for a few days or a few weeks, and she may be on your street 1x or 10x or 20x.  When Martha is present, with no pattern of frequency, with no predictable timeline, Martha shoots bullets in any direction, at random intervals.  And, Martha likes to remain in neighborhoods where people come out.

Let's imagine, for whatever reason, no one could stop Martha - though, for the sake of this imaginary exercise, let's imagine that if you never open your door to Martha, nor approach her, she could not fire at you (her ammunition would not, for example, go through your walls/windows.)  And, let's imagine that if Martha sees no person, she moves on to the next town.

In such an imaginary scenario, you would reasonably and practically never go anywhere in sight of nor in any proximate distance to Martha.  Ever. 

You would counsel everyone you know to stay away from Martha, too.  You would stay home until you had the "all clear" that Martha had left town.  And, if you went out for any reason, and saw Martha, you would steer clear of her on any street.

Martha doesn't intend to be mean or villainous, though, she does injure people.

Not all of her bullets hit live targets. 

Many of her bullets injure people. 

Some of her bullets kill people.

She shoots. She injures.  She kills.

SARS-CoV-2 is kind of like Martha.  It injures.  It kills.  It is unpredictable - while also being predictable. 

The only way to stay safe from SARS-CoV-2 is for you, and everyone you know, to stay away from "Martha"/SARS-CoV-2.

Of course, the problem with SARS-CoV-2 is that we don't know who "has it" and therefore, who, like Martha, is firing random penetrating "shots" at people.

And, of course, the greater problem with SARS-CoV-2 - and it is remarkably greater, is that in my imaginary scenario there is just Martha.  In the reality of SARS-CoV-2, every person that is infected, becomes a "new Martha" "shooting" at random intervals, at random frequency, in random directions, to anyone in their vicinity.

The only way to stop Martha from injuring or killing anyone, thereby, is to act, for a reasonable period of time over a few weeks - as if *every* person you meet is Martha - possibly, randomly, shooting you or anyone near her to injure or kill.

If left alone, Martha will go away.

If approached, Martha will maim, injure or kill more people.

More eery than Martha, SARS-CoV-2 multiples and replicates.

If left alone, Martha will go away.

If left alone, SARS-CoV-2 will go away. 

If we could get people to understand that SARS-CoV-2 is an "invisible" and nearly imperceptible "Martha" firing to injure some and kill others, perhaps we could better discern the need to be Safer At Home and to radically social distance - from anyone - as anyone could be "firing" lethal doses of SARS-CoV-2 into your body - injuring or killing you - or those that you love.

Be safe.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

What lessons will we learn?

While the future is always unknown, it seems particularly true right now with major fractures from SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 to our sense of well being, work, eating, travel, social-distancing - that now, more than ever, we feel disrupted.

My hope  -  my genuine and true and real hope  -  is that human persons will emerge better from this.  Better able to discern our mutuality, our basic human needs, our willingness to help one another. 

I'm optimistic on many days that we can be better.

I'm fearful on some days that we will learn no lessons and only repeat our persistent cycles of desire, greed, rivalry, displacement and "othering" that make us less human, one with another, and which distort our relationship to all of Creation.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Sharing from CNN - on SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19

Former CDC director: There's a long war ahead and our Covid-19 response must adapt

(CNN)  Different times call for different measures. When Covid-19 hit China, I was concerned, as were many public health professionals, about what could happen and urged rapid action to understand more and prepare. But few of us anticipated the catastrophic impact the new virus has had in Wuhan, in Italy and may soon have in many other places.

For most people, there is simply no frame of reference for this pandemic. Never in our lifetime has there been an infectious disease threat as devastating to society. Never in our lifetime have we seen a rich country like Italy face the need to ration respirators. And never have we seen the fear that millions of health care workers around the world feel about being infected by the virus -- justified fear we must address.

What we're learning about the novel coronavirus

    We learn more about this virus by the day, often by the hour and most of the news is bad. Here are five things we've learned in the past week:
    • The virus is much more infectious than influenza or the SARS virus, which it closely resembles. This week, new data showed that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, can live on contaminated surfaces as the SARS virus can, so it may spread, sometimes explosively, from doorknobs, elevator buttons and contaminated surfaces in hospitals and elsewhere. But we also learned that, unlike SARS, patients become highly infectious before they become seriously ill, explaining at least in part why Covid-19 acts like a super-SARS, far more infectious than its vanquished cousin.
    • It's not just older people with underlying conditions who become very ill and can die. Younger adults, previously healthy people and some children develop viral pneumonia. Although prior reports suggested that 80% of people got only mild disease, it now appears that about half of these people, despite not needing hospital admission, have moderately severe pneumonia, which can take weeks or longer to recover from.
    • Explosive spread will almost certainly overwhelm health care capacity in New York City and elsewhere, and lead to the inability to save patients who could otherwise have been saved. Today's severe cases are in people infected 10 to 14 days ago who got sick five to six days ago and have steadily progressed to severe illness. That means cases will continue to skyrocket for weeks after spread stops. Not only won't there be enough ventilators, there won't be enough supplies for the ventilators, hospital beds to support patients -- or health care workers to help patients.
    • Health care workers are in peril. Thousands were infected in China, more than 3,000 have been infected in Italy, protective equipment is in short supply in the United States, and as health care becomes overwhelmed, it becomes harder to provide care safely.
    • It's going to get a lot worse. Not only is the global economy in free-fall but supply chains for essentials, including medicines, are disrupted. Even China, which has successfully tamped down spread, is only now reopening its economy -- which produces components of many medicines people rely on -- and very slowly.
    This is a war. And in war, strategy is important. The leading concept, now remarkably widely understood, is flattening the curve. This is an important tactic to protect patients and health care workers from a surge that can overwhelm our hospitals, increase death rates and put health care workers' lives at risk. But it is not a strategy. A month ago today, my organization, which focuses on preventing epidemics, published a concept of operations showing the shading of containment into mitigation, and the need to pause contact tracing when it became impractical and scale up social distancing interventions (see link for details.)
    Today, learning from another month of experience from around the world, particularly China and South Korea, we recognize a third phase of the response: suppression of episodic outbreaks. In this new third phase, extensive testing and alert clinical systems can identify cases and clusters promptly, intervene extensively and suppress spread before widespread societal harms occur.
    The revised approach also recognizes that this is going to be a long war, and that we need to address the extensive risks to societal continuity, including health care for people with ongoing medical needs such as hypertension and diabetes, and the vulnerability of the supply chain for medicines and supplies.
    China has outlined an analogous approach, based in part on their experience with cases re-imported from other parts of the world. In China, Hubei province faced a peak that overwhelmed health care services, but other provinces were able to avoid this through aggressive containment (the purple curve below). China remains largely locked down, with only gradual reopening, and is urgently expanding health care capacity, preparing for possible clusters or larger outbreaks in the future.
    There are five priorities essential for successful implementation of the third phase of this strategy.
    Extensive testing and contact tracing. China has tested millions of people and traced more than 685,000 contacts. Contact tracing requires skilled public health professionals -- and sophisticated data management. Testing is required in multiple venues:
    • Health care facilities. Every patient with fever or cough and every patient requiring mechanical ventilation or with signs or symptoms of pneumonia.
    • Contact tracing. An army of skilled public health workers, potentially empowered by new data streams such as cell phone location trails, are needed to identify exposed people, who must be isolated for 14 days after exposure. How widely a circle of contacts to track, and how and how often to test contacts will depend on emerging information about who spreads the infection and when in the course of their illness.
    • Drive-through. Quick, safe, convenient drive-through testing facilities, as pioneered by South Korea, reduce the burden on health care facilities, reduce the risk to health care workers and others who patients may come into contact with, and identify infections among contacts and others.
    • Surveillance. We need tracking systems, including the Influenza-Like Illness system, to find spread and monitor trends. Syndromic surveillance systems will need to be tuned to detect possible clusters, and signals investigated immediately.
    Prepare for health care to surge safely. Every community in the country needs to ramp up the ability to safely care for large number of patients with minimal risk to health care staff. This means not only flexing up the number of beds and availability of oxygen and ventilators, but every aspect of health care including staffing, equipment, supplies and overall management.
    Preserve health and routine health care functions. We need to increase the resilience of both our people and our health care facilities, as rapidly as possible.
    • Increase personal health resilience. Underlying conditions greatly increase the risk of severe illness. This isn't just bad for patients who get infected, it will take up scarce health care facilities. There has never been a better time to quit smoking, get your blood pressure under control, make sure that if you have diabetes it's well controlled, and -- yes -- get regular physical activity. (Being active outside for at least 15 minutes a day also helps with vitamin D levels. Of all of the various proposed measures to increase your resistance to infection, regular physical activity and adequate vitamin D levels probably have the most scientific evidence to support them -- and can be done safely.)
    • Massively scale up telemedicine. We need to reduce the number of people attending health care facilities while at the same time preserving and improving health. The Administration issued flexible and constructive guidelines for Medicaid, but much more is needed. Patients -- especially those who are uninsured or who don't have a regular source of care -- need to be able to refill prescriptions, get medical advice and find a clinician readily.
    • Fix supply chain weaknesses. This is crucial for masks and other personal protective equipment, ventilators and supplies for ventilators, and laboratory materials. This is a good time to look at a core list of medications and ensure that the safest and most effective ones are available. For example, in another area where my group works globally, we've discovered that instead of 30 or 50 medications for high blood pressure, three would do for nearly all patients. Let's make sure we have life-saving medicines and worry less about which companies are making them.
    Learn intensively. If there is one key lesson from past epidemics, it's that getting real-time data is essential for a great epidemic response.
    • Most urgently, we must learn how best to protect health care workers from infection.
    • We need to know who is most at risk for spreading the infection, and at what point in their illness -- so that we can target contact tracing most effectively. This will help determine how wide a circle of contacts to track, and how and how often to test.
    • Who is at the highest risk for severe illness and death.
    • What works to reduce infection? What public health advice is being followed, and what is the impact? Some countries require that all patients, even those with mild illness, are isolated in facilities. (This could be done, for example, in college dormitories). Is this necessary and effective? Should it be extended to close contacts to prevent them from spreading the infection? The answer to these questions will depend in part on answers to other questions, such as how often people who never have symptoms, or people who are just beginning to get sick, spread infection.
    • Are there rapid point-of-care tests and how accurate and timely are blood tests for coronavirus infection?
    • Is immunity protective? Even if antibodies are reliably produced, this doesn't necessarily mean that recovered patients are immune from a future infection.
    For these questions, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local health departments, as well as public health agencies around the world, are crucial. They are the intelligence officers needed to guide our strategy and tactics, and they need to be both at the table when decisions are made and at the podium when policies are explained.
    And these are just the epidemiological questions. We also urgently need to know whether treatments work. The preliminary report on the value of chloroquine and azithromycin needs to be rigorously addressed. The disappointing finding that two anti-viral medications didn't improve survival in severely ill patients is a sobering reminder that until there are rigorous studies, we won't know how best to treat patients. Even if we can't dramatically improve outcomes, a treatment that reduces the need for intubation could save many lives.
    A safe and effective vaccine is of greatest importance. The world must do everything possible to develop a vaccine, while also recognizing that this may or may not be possible.
    Adapt to a new normal. The Covid-19 pandemic will change our world forever. Until it is controlled, we will all need to change how we wash our hands, cover our coughs, greet others and how close we come to others. We will rethink the need for meetings and conferences. We will need broadband for all as a public utility like mail or water. We will need to support the vulnerable, even if only because their illness can risk our health.
      Our strategy to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 will necessarily evolve as we learn more about the virus and the effectiveness of different interventions.

      In a fourth phase, a vaccine, if one can be found, or global elimination efforts, if they can succeed, would either end the pandemic or, if not, force us to adapt to the continuing threat for the indefinite future. We face weeks and months of fear and tragedy. Leaders at every level must be frank that this is frightening, unprecedented and irrevocably changes how we provide care and prepare for the future. But it is also a time to recognize that we are all in this together -- not only all in the United States, but all of us globally. Spread anywhere in the world increases risk everywhere. We have a common enemy, and, working together with a common strategy, we can build a new normal that minimizes risk, maximizes collaboration and commits to shared progress.

      Monday, March 09, 2020

      Kiss more & touch nothing! ;-)

      Quoted from Bill Bryson:
      For years, Britain operated a research facility called the Common Cold Unit, but it closed in 1989 without ever finding a cure. It did, however, conduct some interesting experiments. In one, a volunteer was fitted with a device that leaked a thin fluid at his nostrils at the same rate that a runny nose would. 
      The volunteer then socialized with other volunteers, as if at a cocktail party. Unknown to any of them, the fluid contained a dye visible only under ultraviolet light. When that was switched on after they had been mingling for a while, the participants were astounded to discover that the dye was everywhere—on the hands, head, and upper body of every participant and on glasses, doorknobs, sofa cushions, bowls of nuts, you name it. 
      The average adult touches his face sixteen times an hour, and each of those touches transferred the pretend pathogen from nose to snack bowl to innocent third party to doorknob to innocent fourth party and so on until pretty much everyone and everything bore a festive glow of imaginary snot. In a similar study at the University of Arizona, researchers infected the metal door handle to an office building and found it took only about four hours for the “virus” to spread through the entire building, infecting over half of employees and turning up on virtually every shared device like photocopiers and coffee machines. 
      In the real world, such infestations can stay active for up to three days. Surprisingly, the least effective way to spread germs (according to yet another study) is kissing. It proved almost wholly ineffective among volunteers at the University of Wisconsin who had been successfully infected with cold virus. Sneezes and coughs weren’t much better. The only really reliable way to transfer cold germs [viruses] is physically by touch.
      Bryson, Bill. The Body: A Guide for Occupants (p. 34).

      Saturday, March 07, 2020

      COVID-19 ( Coronavirus) & Global Climate Change

      Virus and disease are natural parts of the living order.

      It is sad to recognize that in the same decades that we have "mastered" vaccinations and thousands of people working in teams with Rotary or the Carter Foundation have eliminated Polio and the Guinea Worm, that "we" have given rise to a new virus in COVID-19.

      While the science is not yet settled on *precisely* how and where the Cornavirus emerged, it seems clear it was from "wet" markets, where unclean animals were caged/sold in Wuhan, China.

      It seems to me, no "single" person is to blame and instead, "we" as humans are to blame.  And in a few weeks, the spread of a "single" virus - microscopic - has killed thousands, infected hundreds of thousands, and  . . . if my sense is correct, will "live with us" "forever" and will kill millions.  (I predict over 150 million will die in the next few years.  It will spread to "everywhere" humans live.)

      What will kill tens of thousands, at minimum - will do so quickly.  It's tragic.

      On the not-so-quick side of the time-scale is the anthropogenic (human created) change in our climate over decades.   The scale of Global Climate change is BOTH microscopic and macroscopic - and the links I share to microplastics and the loss of the ice sheets are just two of thousands of examples!

      It seems to me human hubris and human "growth" and human practices of exploitation continue nearly unabated - certainly across human species.

      While human persons might give priority to our own sense of self - we are still inhabitants in Creation with all other living things.

      I'm a realist by-in-large - already shared with my family that each of us, will, in due time, be infected with COVID-19 - though perhaps human ingenuity will find remediation methods or cures quickly, perhaps.

      Even still, human ingenuity MUST turn to find ways to live more wholistically, carefully, attentively, and with kindness toward the lives of all living things.

      Sunday, March 01, 2020

      Catching up on 2019 reading!

      I've read more books than I've had time to record.  Hoping to catch up with that soon.  

      Sometimes I feel like this blog is "sloppy" as a professional tool, though I remind myself it is my web-log and online "journal" as much as anything.  It's for me! :-) 

      Quite often people ask me about books and/or I recall something I read and don't remember which book informed my perspective . . . unless I have some written record to prompt my memory. 

      Some recent readings:

      I love science books like this. 

      From an review: "This was a book that once I started reading I couldn't put down. It isn't perfect but what is? This book is a chronological accounting of one stubborn scientist's dream of taking a radio image of the shadow of Sagittarius A* the black hole at the center of our galaxy the Milky Way.The author brings out the difficulty of doing this very well. The frustration of this undertaking is palpable through great descriptions of getting many very smart people together manning radio telescopes all over the world that had to deal with equipment problems, weather issues and the fact that they all had to start together. The book also explains the quagmire of bureaucratic hurdles that had toe overcome from both a scientific and financial standpoint."

      In truth, I don't remember finding this book to be compelling.  Like other books on sleep (yes, I said sleep) this book supposes that timing is perfect and once we time perfect events, all other things will come into play. And yet, we can't time everything.  So many things and external factors lie outside our control - where/how/when we can get to work, get rest, plan for events, have time or space between events to make things better. This book assumes the reader (creator of their life) has the social/physical/life space to implement each of these suggestions - and too many people do not.  As a single example, I may be better off with more sleep, my own circadian rhythms, but, if my boss says I have to be in the classroom at a set time, I can't NOT be there.

      From an Amazon review who loved the book:  

      "In this intriguing book, Pink examines the importance of good and bad timing. He begins by explaining how our individual chronotype (easily established) determines both our mood and our ability to perform at any given time of the day: how it affects our professional and our ethical judgements, as well as our physical function. . . . Pink also gives practical suggestions for dealing with less than ideal conditions, as well as hints and tips to improve everyday life. . . . the most useful thing about this book is his Time Hacker’s Handbook: salient points from each section are condensed into summaries full of hints and tips and practical exercises that appear after each of the first six chapters.

      Pink explains in detail: why having a coffee before a power nap makes sense; why combining a lunch break with an education session at 1pm (as some teaching hospitals do with their Grand Rounds) is counterproductive (ditto 8am lectures for University students); when the worst time to be a hospital patient is, and why; and the reason some people have the so-called “mid-life crisis”. He looks at the effects of starting one’s career during a depressed jobs-market; why a mid-point (in a project, in a career, in a life) can cause a slump or a spark; how to overcome a bad start; when to quit your job; when to get married; when to exercise; the importance of breaks; and much, much more.”

      A compelling read!  A widening income gap (that any person working with the poor and homeless has seen for years) - growing disconnection from the wealthy/political leadership (not just the elite) in what matters for the lived reality of most persons in most towns - and the growing disparity between types of persons which need not exist.  American culture/infrastructure is shifting - moving - crumbling (?) - only the next years will tell for sure.  I hope Herbert is wrong.  I fear he is correct.

      From the publisher: "working poor and the middle class. After filing his last column in 2011, he set off on a journey across the country to report on Americans who were being left behind in an economy that has never fully recovered from the Great Recession. The portraits of those he encountered fuel his new book, Losing Our Way. Herbert’s combination of heartrending reporting and keen political analysis is the purest expression since the Occupy movement of the plight of the 99 percent.     Herbert reminds us of a time in America when unemployment was low, wages and profits were high, and the nation’s wealth, by current standards, was distributed much more equitably. Today, the gap between the wealthy and everyone else has widened dramatically, the nation’s physical plant is crumbling, and the inability to find decent work is a plague on a generation.  . . .  Searing and unforgettable, Losing Our Way ultimately inspires with its faith in ordinary citizens to take back their true political power and reclaim the American dream."

      Brewer summarizes/details much in the way of the brain/neuroscientific data about how we process data/crave/pursue ideas based on how we are wired.  However, the book offers little to teach persons how to change.  Much of what is here is found in other books - and, of course, in the scientific journals on addiction/habits/cognition.

      From an Amazon review: ""The Craving Mind" by Judson Brewer  . . .  was deeply disappointing in one important sense, and unfortunately I am not able to recommend it. The critical problem is that it doesn't fulfill the second half of its title, "How We Can Break Bad Habits." The book begins well and describes the methodology the author used to test mindfulness as an aid to cigarette cessation. He describes the protocol his program used to help the smokers. Great! The entire rest of the book, however, is about research and without practical steps that people can use to conquer their own addictions.  . . .  active next steps never happen. I started wondering if perhaps this book just outlines research and if perhaps the author hasn't formulated practical suggestions for his readers. The author mentions near the end of the book, however, that he DOES have a program. . . .  If you want the practical steps that can really help you, you need to pay a $26/month subscription. If this book were intended to simply outline research in the field, I would've given it five stars. But knowing that he intentionally withholds his help from the readers of this book is something I find unethical. He offers readers nothing concrete they can do other than modify his smoking cessation program to their addiction. A better title would be: "The Craving Mind: ...Why We Get Hooked and How You Can Pay My Company $26/Month to Help You Break Bad Habits.""


      Not sure how I wandered into this short set of anecdotes from an actress.  Maybe I hoped this expanded hometown graduation high school speech would offer something I could share with my daughters.  It's no David Foster Wallace.  Not worth the read.

      Perhaps shaped by the time when it was written, and my cognitive and attentive space in reading this book, I did not "get into" the book, even as I lament that I had not read the book earlier in my life.  Narrating his lived experience as a slave, this book chronicled and still shapes how we discern what white persons living in what is now America, did to Africans they forced into subjugated slavery.

      The power of positive thinking. Think and Grow Rich is the mantra of "The Secret" to extending one's life and growing in wealth, health, etc.  I don't buy it.  

      I do think we can think differently - and thus - shape the way we perceive where we are and how we are in life - but we can't CHANGE fundamental aspects of our lived reality/culture/genetics/connections such that "thinking positive" thoughts enables us to become billionaires, etc.

      Not a book I can accept, though the history of the frame/form of the positive thinking "new thought" movement(s) was excellent at the start of this book.

      From an review: "“One Simple Idea” is a compelling book that traces Americans fascination with positive thinking and self-help teachings. What began as a mid-1800s alternative spiritual movement called New Thought has transformed into the secular self-help books and seminars of today exemplified by the motivational guru Tony Robbins. Today positive thinking is ecumenical embraced by Christians like Joel Osteen and Norman Vincent Peale (who influenced Donald Trump), and those in alternative spirituality like Deepak Chopra.
      Author Mitch Horowitz is no Pollyanna apologist for positive thinking. In this book he soberly assesses what he sees as the movement’s strengths and weaknesses.
      The New Thought movement that began in the 1800s had several positive cultural effects, according to Horowitz. First, it was a form of DIY spirituality that empowered individuals to have their own spiritual revelations apart from an established church. It legitimized what we would term today an individual’s spiritual search. Second, the positive thinking movement practiced tolerance, seeing truth in all religions, and was ahead of the curve on racial and gender equality. It was among the first to welcome women ministers and spiritual teachers.”

      I enjoyed the short chapters of historical detail in this fun book.  Nice to get away from longer pieces.  Not every story narrated was a gaffe/mistake - though the events narrated did reshape history.  (Doesn't every event, technically, reshape history?)  

      From an review: "101 Stumbles is a collection of essays mostly written by Bill Fawcett, but with several other contributors including noted alternate history/SF writers like Harry Turtledove, Eric Flint and Mike Resnick. As the title suggests, the authors discuss famous historical mistakes such as the Aztec's indecisiveness over what do with the Spaniards or General MacArthur's complete refusal to see that the Chinese were getting ready to intervene in the Korean War, with the earliest mistakes coming first in the book. Thus, an alternate title for 101 Stumbles is "The Big Book of Hindsight", but to be fair Bill admits early on that they are aware of this and are using these mistakes as a teachable moment for the present and future."

      Not as enjoyable as the first books I ready by Bryson many years ago - as his books have become seeming too focused and detailed (?) with gaps (?) - though, this was not bad reading. 

      From the publisher: "With dazzling wit and astonishing insight, Bill Bryson—the acclaimed author of The Lost Continent—brilliantly explores the remarkable history, eccentricities, resilience and sheer fun of the English language. From the first descent of the larynx into the throat (why you can talk but your dog can't), to the fine lost art of swearing, Bryson tells the fascinating, often uproarious story of an inadequate, second-rate tongue of peasants that developed into one of the world's largest growth industries."

      I liked the book before reading it - that, no doubt, is my cognitive bias and lived experience shaping my perception of my moods/abilities.  The books premise is simple - found in the title.  The science is not strong, though my bias wants to make more of it.  I do have a biased belief that being out-of-doors makes us more human, smarter, kinder, healthier, happier, more social, more "in-tune" with "the world around us" and much more.  From the publisher: "From forest trails in Korea, to islands in Finland, to eucalyptus groves in California, Florence Williams investigates the science behind nature’s positive effects on the brain. Delving into brand-new research, she uncovers the powers of the natural world to improve health, promote reflection and innovation, and strengthen our relationships. As our modern lives shift dramatically indoors, these ideas―and the answers they yield―are more urgent than ever."

      Some people love this book.  I couldn't pull it off.  Didn't make it too far in.  From an review: "At the heart of gender politics is the question of whether men and women are inherently different, or are shaped by our experiences. The Power takes this on by asking, what would happen if women gained a physical advantage over men? Would the world be transformed into a nurturing, empathetic utopia? Or do women and men who get power inevitably exploit it?

      The novel is framed as the manuscript of a (subservient) male academic called Neil, writing five thousand years in the future, which he has sent to ‘Naomi’ for review. He is trying to make sense of events that occurred in our present."

      Knowing the author wrote in the 1960's/70's and that it's shaped by Zen Buddhism might help.  A fine read, nothing at all compelling in the whole piece as necessary for discerning the key ideas.

      From an review: "the highest happiness, the supreme spiritual insight and certitude are found only in our awareness that impermanence and insecurity are inescapable and inseparable from life."

      From another review: “ . . . To live perfectly in the moment, to understand that the experience and the "experiencer" are one in the same just as a wave is not part of the ocean, but is the ocean, all of it - I can begin to fathom how one would be able to shed so much pretense and predispositions. . . . In any case, a worthy read, but definitely not a book if you're looking for "10 Ways to Reduce Anxiety." It is rather an exhortation to awareness."

      From the publisher: "Ten thousand years ago, our species made a radical shift in its way of life: We became farmers rather than hunter-gatherers. Although this decision propelled us into the modern world, renowned geneticist and anthropologist Spencer Wells demonstrates that such a dramatic change in lifestyle had a downside that we’re only now beginning to recognize. Growing grain crops ultimately made humans more sedentary and unhealthy and made the planet more crowded. The expanding population and the need to apportion limited resources created hierarchies and inequalities. Freedom of movement was replaced by a pressure to work that is the forebear of the anxiety millions feel today."

      This long, though well shaped review: "The enormous change brought about by the invention of agriculture is well documented. . . Geneticists have now discovered numerous recent mutations to the human genome which resulted from the abrupt change in our environment and our diet. The story which the author develops explains in detail both the scope of these changes and the fact that the impact of those genetic mutations and the dramatic shift in the human environment is still unfolding. He goes on to consider the potential future impact of the tools which geneticists have now developed, which could permit designer children as in the movie Gattica. Thus the initial chapters of the book are powerful and enormously important. . . In the final chapter the author summarizes the issues which suggest humanity is on an unsustainable and catastrophic course. He then proposes a `solution' by suggesting that we need to learn to `want less.'  . . . Mr Wells has left us with just the slogan and no further practical guidance. But it is an important an important start and Pandora's Seed is an important book despite my few critical comments."

      Stories of kindness where lives are transformed as a result. That's it.  For those who need compelling stories to tell in "chapel" or a sermon - this has good tales.

      Simple reading.  Not "my style."

      From an review: "“Delightful… Schroff’s uplifting book underscores the power of simple connections and our ability to protect and guide others who are in need of compassion, charity, and acceptance.” Source: Publishers Weekly."