How to keep people poor

Take their control away by forcing them onto prepaid power (and/or gas) and paying any housing benefits to their landlords.

It teaches them that they have no control over anything and even takes the overview away of what gets paid when to who.

They become powerless pingpong balls that way.

It’s treating adults as if they are fiver-year-olds.

Alternative? UBI  or  pay everyone’s rent/housing and everyone’s energy and fix the rent amount (per person?) to stop its often predatory nature from making people homeless and/or poor.

What happened on 21 May

I got a message out of the blue from someone in Florida that day. It appeared to be a response to an e-mail from me, but I had not written to him and I had not tried to call him either. Last year, he let me know that he no longer has a landline. In a later e-mail, at the start of this year, however, he wrote something that indicated that he does still have a landline. Strange. I don’t think I have his mobile number. Nobody rang me, according to my mobile. (I have no land line, haven’t had one for several years.)

Yesterday, I finally decided to mention it (in an e-mail, granted, but I am currently unable to call him and Zoom/Skype calls often don’t work out with this person; he usually ends up wanting to connect when I am not at my desk). Apparently, his landline had indicated, back in May, that I had called him but left no message. Again, I didn’t call him.

Apparently, he then called me. Again, my phone did not receive any calls.

Also, at the end of last year, one of his e-mails said that he no longer had a landline, but a few months later, he referred to his landline. Has now confirmed that he still has a landline. Okay, let’s assume that his e-mail last year only said that he was contemplating ditching his landline and that I’ve simply remembered it wrong. Still does not explain the call he claims he received and the call he claims he made.

I am not entirely sure what the nature of the issue is in this case.

I also received direct messages on Twitter since the start of March from someone claiming to be a friend of this person. The account no longer exists and on LinkedIn, that person mentions a different Twitter handle as a way of contacting her. The account that contacted me on Twitter at the time had the look and feel of her LinkedIn account and I had been told by e-mail that she was going to contact me.

What I found odd at the time was that when I asked her about her work, she gave me an excuse for not answering and said she would get back to me. (The reason why she contacted me was supposedly for professional reasons! Well, if I don’t know what someone does…)

Excuses for not answering questions about one’s professional activities and excuses for not wanting to make an appointment for a video call are often good indicators for an account being fake.

Here is the second contact attempt made from that Twitter account.

Very weird, certainly in view of the fact that she had previously “disappeared”. This is not a person I’ve ever met or talked with. She did not reply when I responded to this. 

And then there is the issue of me not being able to reach certain sites in the Netherlands from time to time (such as pension-related) and possibly the issue of my missing driving licence, not to mention the rest.

However, I certainly can’t rule out that the real issue is the person in Florida, with regard to that side of the strange things that continue to happen in my life. He’s done a few really weird things over the years off and on, granted. And after all, his Facebook account is also in the name of his friend. Okay, let’s assume that, for clarity’s sake. Okay, this does have the right feel to it. It’s also the application of Occam’s razor with regard to this. So I am dealing with more than one issue, one local and one Florida-based. Okay. Knowing that really helps.

(He may have gotten stuck a bit, to do with very specific high-level professional training he received in the past. That alone might explain it. It happens sometimes, when you are in that kind of profession. If not, then it is who he is.)

Now I still need to solve the rest. (Unless he’s flown over in the past and is paying local people to complicate my life, lol, which is a little too far-fetched, I think that the rest really is genuinely locally driven stuff, “as usual” for the locals.)

 

Amazon and the new book: Not working out…?

Here is a raw file for the interior of the paperback: pdf. It’s for Amazon, which for some reason refuses to update the cover and is now actively selling the book with a textually flawed cover (the back cover, in terms of layout and one weird typo) that I uploaded last week to see if the design would work out. They okayed it. They’re selling it with an interior file that is not up-to-date either.

If Amazon keeps refusing to update the cover and the interior file, I will pull the book, of course. 

Strange. Only a few days ago, I had to shut down my PayPal business account because of security breaches there.

Also, Amazon’s KDP account on Twitter then started pestering my timeline with ads but refused to respond. 

 

Obesity. Why Boris Johnson has got it wrong.

A brief off-the-cuff analysis

Boris Johnson on obesity

What CNN said

“Boris Johnson’s latest strategy to fight coronavirus aims to make Britain healthier”.

“Johnson’s government launched its Better Health strategy in an effort to combat the country’s high obesity levels amid the pandemic.”

What Johnson said

On 11 August, he posted a video of himself on Twitter.

“I was too fat.” 

“I’ve always wanted to lose weight for ages and ages”

“And like […] many people, I struggle with my weight.”

“If you can get your weight down a bit […] and protect your health, you’ll also be protecting the NHS”.

“We want […] to understand the difficulties that people face (with their weight).”

Why Johnson said that

COVID-19 attacks people who are in less than optimal health more fiercely. This includes obesity, but obesity is more complicated than carrying excess baggage. It is also about existing health disparities in society, disparities that became exacerbated by the first wave. That means that it is about poverty and air pollution, about racial discrimination and marginalisation, too, so it is about the whopping level of inequality Johnson’s country suffers from. 

With the second wave of COVID-19 likely ahead of us and many people having gained weight during the lockdown, Johnson is keen on raising his finger and tell the subjects what they must do to protect the NHS, the NHS about which so many people are worried that he will sell it off to the highest corporate bidder with no concern for the people who work there and the people who receive care there.

Food availability forgotten

Abundance

People like Boris Johnson live in abundance. They can order any kind of food in and they will get it, avocados and all. The rest of us, well, we aren’t all so lucky.

The lockdown

The stockpiling caught many people by surprise. Has Johnson seen the disappointment and quiet desperation on the faces of the people who wanted a tin of tuna or two or some sardines and found that they were all gone? So was all the salmon in the coolers.

Has he any idea how many people were eating lots of rice and tortilla chips and pasta and cheap cookies during the first weeks of the lockdown because they had no choice? They can’t build up food supplies at home. They had to cope.

Food deserts and poverty

There are areas in which predominantly poor people live. They have fewer options for food-shopping and the food in such food deserts tends to be more expensive. Because people have no choice, the supermarkets know that they’ll buy it anyway.

Has Johnson any idea how many people consume lots of rice and pasta and bread and cheap cookies and instant potato mash all the time because they have to?

It is often said that poor people do not have pots and pans or poor people don’t know how to cook. Poor people can have all the pots and pans in the world and may be former chefs but it will not help them if they do not have access to good food.

They get tins from food banks, too. Tinned sugared peaches, tinned sugared rice puddings and custard, instant noodles, cheap rice, tinned tomatoes, baked white beans in tomato sauce, tinned sausages or spam (or tuna), tinned spaghetti, orange juice, some cookies or chocolates. No leeks, no cheese, no salmon, no broccoli, no mackerel and no apples or grapes. No nuts. No avocados or pizzas or lasagnes or sushi or quesadillas. No vitamin and mineral supplements to make up for any deficiencies.

Corporate greed forgotten

The need for proteins

We all need a certain amount of protein in our daily food. This is not a weakness of poor people, but it is human biology. How much protein you need depends on your age and on whether you are for example pregnant.

Rich versus poor

Rich people’s diets can be a little too rich in proteins. It is a different story for poor people. Good protein sources tend to be more expensive foods.

The protein leverage hypothesis

It says that humans will keep eating, eating and eating to reach that minimum percentage of protein that they must have in their food. This theory was developed by David Raubenheimer and Stephen Simpson at the Charles Perkins Centre of the University of Sydney, Australia.

Corporate greed

If the human leverage hypothesis holds up — and as it makes sense, it likely does – this human requirement for sufficient protein and the urge to keep eating to obtain it creates great opportunities for greedy food manufacturers.

But Johnson did not mention the food industry. He wags his finger at the people and tells them that they are hurting the NHS. His government’s proposals to curb the food industry only appear to concern advertising and may well remain mere proposals.

UK government failing its people

When does Johnson start pointing the finger at the people who cause poverty and malnutrition instead? Obesity is often essentially a form of malnutrition and as Philip Alston has said, poverty is a political choice. Philip Alston was the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty who found the UK government unresponsive and in denial in 2019 when he told it what it was doing to millions and millions of Brits. The UK government shut its ears for Alston’s words and diverted its eyes.

Pollution effects and other health disparities

Air pollution

COVID-19 also disproportionately affects people who live in areas with high levels of air pollution. That — living with pollution — also tends to go hand in hand with poverty. Has Boris Johnson ever said a word about that so far? Not to my knowledge.

Discrimination

Health disparities that seem to affect people of certain ethnicities and with tinted skins more are, to a large degree, the effect of their discrimination and marginalisation.

Discrimination causes stress. Prolonged negative stress can affect health, including lowering one’s immune response. The chronic stress of racism can lead to chronic inflammation.

Discrimination, marginalisation and poverty also affect access to health care. Did you know that physicians are less likely to refer black people for testing, for example?

You do not need to have hate or even dislike in a society before groups of people become disadvantaged and marginalised. All you need is to have separate groups of people and a power imbalance from the beginning.

The groups that hold most of the power will prosper more and more while the people in the other groups have the low-paying, front-facing jobs in which they are at the highest risk for diseases like COVID-19. They are the ones whose bosses tell them to come to work even when they are ill. They live in the areas with the highest pollution, the dusty and mouldy homes with sometimes a lot of noise disrupting their sleep, the food deserts with the expensive supermarkets. They are also the ones who face the longest waiting lists to get medical care.

And they are the ones whose landlords may change the locks on their doors because of the high-risk jobs they have and the fear that they may bring COVID-19 home with them.

Investing in women and learning to listen

Who prepares food and who shops?

Often, it is still the woman in the household. It’s also women who hold the lowest-paying jobs. Investing in women and in eradicating gender inequality — in addition to working to eradicate racial and other inequalities — therefore should also help diminish health disparities.

Cooperation needed

The fact alone that Britain expected to have to stockpile foods and medications in view of Brexit is a strong indication that the UK government needs to learn how to cooperate better with others as well as organise itself better. That requires listening to people, also to those with dissident opinions, instead of conveniently dismissing them as an excuse to carry on business as usual.

To sum it up

Boris Johnson appears to be unaware of the social determinants of health and the health disparities that existed before COVID-19 came along. Whether people are poor, disabled, elderly, migrants or non-whites affects the chance that they are in optimal health and obesity can be part of that. The extra weight of people like Boris Johnson is a different story.

Further reading

Bouie, Jamelle. 2020. Why Coronavirus Is Killing African-Americans More Than Others. Higher rates of infection and death among minorities demonstrate the racial character of inequality in America. New York Times.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/14/opinion/sunday/coronavirus-racism-african-americans.html

Kumar S, Quinn SC, Kim KH, Daniel LH, Freimuth VS. 2012. The impact of workplace policies and other social factors on self-reported influenza-like illness incidence during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Am J Public Health 2012;102(1):134-140. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3490553/

Quinn SC, Kumar S, Freimuth VS, Musa D, Casteneda-Angarita N, Kidwell K. 2011. Racial disparities in exposure, susceptibility, and access to health care in the US H1N1 influenza pandemic. Am J Public Health. 2011;101(2):285-293. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2009.188029. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21164098/

Villarosa, Linda. 2020. ‘A terrible price’: The deadly racial disparities of Covid-19 in America. New York Times Magazine. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/29/magazine/racial-disparities-covid-19.html

There is also ample literature on the health effects of pollution, the association between poverty and health as well as between poverty and pollution and on the lack of attention for the good health of older adults. That race is a social construct and that racial disparities generally have more to do with discrimination and marginalisation than with genetics both appear much less well known. In itself, it tells the story of all disadvantaged groups of people, including for example the elderly, the poor and the disabled in the UK. The health disparities of these groups should not be seen as separate, just like pay differences for men and women and gender roles also have to be addressed if we want to make the world a healthier place for everyone.

You can watch the video by Boris Johnson here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtwFoTzVdZs

Survivors of Covid-19 show increased rate of psychiatric disorders

Here you have it. The bridge that may finally make people see that “mental” conditions are in fact physical and that it’s the mental health stigma that is bonkers.

(Also, could we be trying too hard to stamp out the human aspects of what it means to be human – to be alive – and turning people into perfect little robots? What would life be like if we never had ups and downs? At all? Btw, one guy – I won’t mention his name; he is a geologist – once told me that when he smoked cigarettes – not weed, but cigarettes – his ups were less high and his downs less low.)

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/aug/03/survivors-of-covid-19-show-increased-rate-of-psychiatric-disorders-study-finds

(31% of COVID-19 survivors suffer from depression. Read the article in The Guardian to find out what else plagues them. We already knew that psychosis is linked to COVID-19 as well. Psychosis is also linked to the recovering from physical brain trauma.)

SARS-CoV2, wastewater and seashores

A few months ago, someone in Florida sent me a link to a news item – I think it was from Yahoo News – in which a professor in California was warning people to stay away from the seashore as she was sure that they would get infected by the ocean surf there.

I dissected the article and had to dismiss it as panicky nonsense. It for example mentioned the rapid spread (in Wuhan) as an argument but Wuhan is nowhere near the sea and everything that was ascribed to marine spray could much more easily be explained through asymptomatic spread. The existence of the latter was not even mentioned in the item. I did not expect the virus to be able to play a big role in the marine environment on the basis of my very limited knowledge in this area.

Just now, I spotted an article written by Kristen Kusek, who I know from my time in Florida. She is now the communications director at the place where we both were into marine science, while she also pursued journalism at the Poynter Institute a bit further down the road.

USF’s College of Marine Science has started the first American program to look at the virus in wastewater. I had earlier heard about the virus having been detected in sewage in, I think, Venice.

https://www.usf.edu/marine-science/news/2020/usf-partner-in-costa-rica-launches-the-countrys-first-program-to-detect-coronavirus-in-wastewater.aspx

It is very important to keep in mind that the virus having been detected waste water (or anything else) DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU CAN CATCH COVID-19 from it.

I also saw this:
https://coloradosun.com/2020/07/21/poop-early-coronavirus-warning-colorado-wastewater/

It was time for a quick update.

I found this:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S004313542030436X

At first glance, this seems to confirm my assessment. Good.

Here is more on the topic:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S004896972033151X

https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/S004313542030436X?token=01D96FD19564AA8CCAF293E95112CB80711556EDFB30B8701D6895EEEAECA0747FB112F019F2BDD2877DDAC55EE331B7

https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/S004896972033151X?token=7D077B4CFF621AF2C66AAE410611192580B09C4F7AFA638CD1CBE5BB26F6121305BABE2F25608A43C70A06F0D6BC74B0

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666016420300049

As I live in an island city, with a stormwater sewage overflow to the east of us and a (treated) sewage outlet slightly to the east of that, along the seashore, such questions have local relevance. So far, nothing to worry about.

(Please note that this does not mean that the situation will stay this way, but at this point, there is nothing to indicate that it won’t. That’s okay. We have plenty on our plate as it is.)

Is cruelty cool?

My book titled “Is cruelty cool?” will become available on 31 August.

This book is for people who believe that cruelty gives you edge. But it is not only for them.

This book is also for all the otherized people in England. The 3million and all the other non-UK citizens, the disabled, the women, the feebleminded, uppity females like me who don’t know their place, the poor, the elderly, many of the educated and of course everyone whose skin is not lily-white (including Priti Patel even though she keeps repeating that she wants to reduce the number of people like me, the low-skilled cheap labour that supposedly forces the UK government to keep wages low and the English poor).

It’s for black people and native-American people in the US and it is for people who are workplace bullies or who used to be workplace bullies and for people who are the target of workplace bullying and community bullying or who have a friend or colleague who is being bullied in the community or at work as well as for some employers. It might be good if a few more English politicians other than Priti Patel would read this too but most of them are likely too busy feeding voters crap. The kind of crap that encourages cruelty…