Category Archives: Blumbers

Weekly Commentary

Sep. 5, 2021 Blumbers

I regret that I have been ill. I tried my best to avoid the inevitable but this has been a hard virus to avoid. The good news is that I was somewhat healthy to begin with. I will be taking further risks with all the various booster and variant immunizations going around. This raises a more important question. What if I had no health insurance? Everyone should have healthcare. It is a basic human right.

Meanwhile why am I getting all these calls for help from Texas?

Copyright 2021 DJ Cline. All rights reserved.

May 2, 2021 Blumbers

Mission of Gravity

You know how much you know something by teaching it to others. Apparently kids go through a stage where they keep asking why. Sadly I am still asking why. Every kid asks about gravity. I give demonstrations of things like hammers falling to the ground but what I really need is two rocks in the asteroid belt gradually attracted to one another over millions of years. It would be the world’s most expensive science project.

With a nod to Hal Clement and Mr. Stubbs.

Copyright 2021 DJ Cline

Apr. 18, 2021 Blumbers

Catching Up

Regular viewers will note I have been a little lax in my postings. I am busy taking care of more than a little routine administrivia and will hopefully be back on top of things soon. My thought are always with you.

Copyright 2021 DJ Cline All right s reserved.

Apr. 11, 2021 Blumbers

Lessons Learned

The more I think about all that has happened in the past year made me think about  what have I learned from it. Yes, I was more prepared than most, but what would I do differently? I think there is a book in there somewhere…

Copyright 2021 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Apr. 4, 2021 Blumbers

Time Well Spent

What do you do when you cannot do anything? There is always something you can do. I cleaned everything twice. If I could not make use of it, I gave it away. The schools were closed so I taught someone to read. I also taught someone how to play chess and now they can beat the computer. I thought about several problematic science fiction stories and turned one apocalyptic plague story into a comedy. Most importantly, I helped one family avoid eviction. Tragedies can sometimes bring out the worst in people, but it can also bring out the best. There are a lot of good people in the world, be one of them.

Copyright 2021 DJ Cline all rights reserved.

Mar. 28, 2021 Blumbers

Not Helping

When the coronavirus outbreak came, I had a friend who had trouble breathing. His insurance company wanted to put him in an assisted living facility, which I though would have been a death sentence. I did everything I could to keep in him alive because that is what you do. You don’t throw a friend overboard. You band together and help. He just got his shot. Don’t kick a man when he is down, he might recover.

Copyright 2021 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jan 24, 2020 Blumbers

Our Long National Nightmare

Our long national nightmare is over. Let us not do this again. Let us conduct ourselves as professionals going forward and looking forward. If you had told someone five years ago that any of this would happen, they would not have believed you. So let’s make this unbelievable. The system works when we make it work.

Copyright 2020 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jan. 17, 2021 Blumbers

Covid Anniversary

I first heard about the coronavirus a year ago. Buying a whole bunch of toilet paper no longer seems so crazy now does it?

There is going to be another one and we need to prepare. We need to dramatically improve our heathcare in America. I do not want to have to get close to you to ask if you have insurance. If you can walk into the emergency room you are a customer and a patient.

I was trying to figure out how to think how to thank all the healthcare workers I have met over the past year. One woman wisely suggested we pay off all their student loans. After all I would rather worry about a highly contagious  incurable virus than paying off my student loans.

Still waiting for my shot. The future is running a little slow here.

Copyright 2021 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jan. 10, 2021 Blumbers

Signless of the Times

This was the week that all the Trump political signs disappeared in my neighborhood. There were not that many and even termites avoided them. As for Wednesday afternoon, it was all fun and games until somebody got hurt (killed). Hopefully we can move forward despite all the best efforts of selfish short-sighted people. At a basic level, democracy is a popularity contest. When you lose an election it means a lot of people do not like you. Maybe it was something you said, over and over trying to make it true. It is more than psychology, it is math and some things do not add up.

Thanks Nancy, you were there when it counted to count.

Copyright 2021 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Dec. 30 , 2020 Blumbers

Another Roaring Twenties

Having a near Covid experience makes you think about what you have accomplished. I know for a fact I have helped thousands of people find work. People in the future will not know that unemployment in the United States was a death sentence. It led to the spread of disease and more death. I campaigned continuously to get universal healthcare which you will hopefully take for granted.

I have written decades of little quips whether you liked them or not. Without my comedy there is only your drama.

I have covered the rise of the Internet and social media and refused to silenced or intimidated. I politely ignore you or am ignorant of you.

I have documented the rise and fall of caring about each other, fashionable or not.

While I mourn the loss of bookstores, like Ben Franklin, I look forward to the new editions.

Get ready for another roaring twenties. 23 skidoo.

Copyright 2020 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Dec. 20, 2020 Blumbers

The Flu Next Time

Yet another anniversary for the world’s longest running website. After 2020, I am surprised to still have electricity. My intention was to keep going until the lights went out, giving future students enough to write their homework assignments. Of course many kids out there are studying at home waiting for a new Socrates to to start asking questions in the marketplace.

Remember this will happen again. We were lucky it was influenza and not the Ebola virus. We need to prepare to care for people better than we have been. There won’t be time  to ask what kind of health insurance a new plague victim may have. We should build healthcare as a basic human right and treat them immediately. What’s more we should help them miss work to get better. Even more important is that they should affordable housing where they can stay until they get better.

What humanity has learned is that the Internet can show us how to employ and function without increasing our carbon footprint. It is the time of year to quote Jacob Marley “Mankind was my business.”

Indeed.

Nov. 22, 2020 Blumbers

Thanksgiving

Four years ago I would have been pretty beat up by the election results. This year is a somber affair. A drunk uncle who crowed about the victory is no longer with us, having voted for the wrong person.

Still I get to serve the crow with sweet potatoes and remember all those we have lost and work toward it never happening again.

Copyright 2020 DJ Cline all right reserved.

Nov. 15, 2020 Blumbers

World Series

Boy, some people cannot take a hint. It is not fixed, it is math. If you don’t have the numbers, you lose. You need to concede to  figure out what you did wrong and decide if you want to try again.

Buy a baseball team and study it. Notice everybody takes a turn at hitting the ball. There are still rules but we agree to take turns. Otherwise baseball would be a contact sport.

Welcome to the real world. Even when it goes into extra innings. Play ball!

Copyright 2020 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 18, 2020 Blumbers

Website Anniversary

We are approaching another anniversary for what I consider the world’s oldest website. Moving from place to place it has been 25 years of constant updating. Hopefully it will be another 25 years depending on how you vote. Please vote. It is going to be really close.

I have been in elections and won by one vote. You can make a difference.

Copyright 2020 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 11,2020 Blumbers

Covid 19

I have been wearing masks and dodging Covid19 for months. How long will my luck hold? Long enough for me to vote? Many of you will be able to vote by mail. Do so at your earliest opportunity. It is important to vote. Oh, you might lose your health insurance. Copyright 2020 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Aug. 23, 2020 Blumbers

Close shave

Driving down the roadI looked in my rear view mirror and saw guy using an electric shaver, like he was Don Draper from Madmen or the Norelco Santa Claus. Who is still making these devices? Should we put money into Aqua Velva?

Copyright 2020 All rights reserved.

Aug. 16, 2020 Blumbers

Traveling Light

I’ve been on the road so long  I am used to the routine. Physicist Leo Szilard used to carry two suitcases with him at all times.  I wonder if this is what there rest of our lives will be like?

Copyright 2020 All rights reserved. 

Aug. 9, 2020 Blumbers

Yesterday was the eight day of the eighth month. I am still on the road. Interesting story. A woman had her home destroyed in a fire. The insurance company would only pay if they had pictures of all the household. This brought up an important point. Do you have pictures of all your stuff online? Makes me think twice about acquiring lots of stuff. Meryn Cadell has a song about her stuff. Recommended.

Copyright 2020 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

May 17, 2020 Blumbers

 

Written Testimony
House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health

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Scientific Integrity in the COVID-19 Response

Statement of

Rick Bright, Ph.D

For Release on Delivery Expected at 10:00 am
May 14, 2020

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Good morning Chairwoman, Eshoo, Ranking Member Burgess and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee. Thank you for inviting me to testify today.

I am Dr. Rick Bright, a career public servant and a scientist who has spent 25 years of my career focused on addressing pandemic outbreaks. I received my bachelor’s degree with honors in both biology and physical sciences from Auburn University at Montgomery in Alabama. I earned my PhD in Immunology and Molecular Pathogenesis from Emory University in Georgia My dissertation was focused on pandemic avian influenza. I have spent my entire career leading teams of scientists in drugs, diagnostics and vaccine development — in the government with CDC and BARDA, for a global non-profit organization and also in the biotechnology industry. Regardless of my position, my job and my entire professional focus has been on saving lives. My professional background has prepared me for a moment like this – to confront and defeat a deadly virus like COVID-19 that threatens Americans and people around the globe.

I joined the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) in 2010 and from November of 2016 until April 21 of this year, I had the privilege of serving our country as its Director. During the time I was Director of BARDA we successfully partnered with private industry to achieve an unprecedented number of FDA approvals for medical countermeasures against a wide variety of national health security threats. This was a major and unprecedented accomplishment and one that I and the conscientious employees of BARDA take great pride in.

On April 21, 2020, I was removed from my positions as the Director of BARDA and HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response by HHS leadership and involuntarily transferred to a more limited and less impactful position at the National Institutes of Health. I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government invest funding allocated to BARDA by Congress to address the COVID-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit. While my intention in testifying today is to be forward looking, I spoke out then and I am testifying today because science – not politics or cronyism – must lead the way to combat this deadly virus.

The world is confronting a great public health emergency which has the potential to eclipse the devastation wrought by the 1918 influenza which globally claimed over 50 million lives. We face a highly-transmissible and deadly virus which not only claims lives but is also disrupting the very foundations of our societies. The American health-care system is being taxed to the limit, our economy is spiraling downward — leading to mass unemployment — and our population is being paralyzed by fear stemming from the lack of a coordinated response and a dearth of accurate, clear communication about the path forward. Americans yearn to get back to work, to open their businesses and provide for their families. I get that. We need a national coordinated strategy to look at all of these pieces and to ensure that they fit well together. To conceive and implement this strategy, our government must draw on the guidance of the best scientific minds.

In my position as BARDA Director, I led portions of a coordinated response; development of vaccines, drugs and diagnostics. In January of this year, I pushed for our government to obtain virus samples from China and to secure more funding for BARDA to be able to get started quickly on the development of critical medical countermeasures. HHS leadership was dismissive about

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my dire predictions about what I assumed would be a broader outbreak and the pressing need to act, and were therefore unwilling to act with the urgency that the situation required. Understanding that the United States had a critical shortage of necessary supplies and PPE to deal with a pandemic, in January, February and March, 2020, I pushed HHS to ramp up US production of masks, respirators and other critical supplies, such as medicine, syringes and swabs. Again, my urgency was dismissed and I was cut out of key high-level meetings to combat COVID-19. When I was nevertheless able to convey these urgent concerns by speaking directly with a senior White House advisor and with members of Congress who better understood the urgency to act, I faced hostility and marginalization from HHS officials. And finally, when I resisted efforts to promote and enable broad access to an unproven drug, chloroquine, to the American people without transparent information on the potential health risks, I was removed from BARDA.

While I am unfortunately no longer leading BARDA, I am an expert in these areas and fully understand the grave risks we are facing. I continue to believe that we must act urgently to effectively combat this deadly disease. Our window of opportunity is closing. If we fail to develop a national coordinated response, based in science, I fear the pandemic will get far worse and be prolonged, causing unprecedented illness and fatalities. While it is terrifying to acknowledge the extent of the challenge that we currently confront, the undeniable fact is there will be a resurgence of the COVID19 this fall, greatly compounding the challenges of seasonal influenza and putting an unprecedented strain on our health care system. Without clear planning and implementation of the steps that I and other experts have outlined, 2020 will be darkest winter in modern history.

First and foremost, we need to be truthful with the American people. They want the truth. They can handle the truth. Truth, no matter how unpleasant, decreases the fear generated by uncertainty. The truth must be based on scientific evidence – and not filtered for political reasons. We must know and appreciate what we are up against. We have the world’s greatest scientists – they must be permitted to lead. Let them speak truthfully without fear of retribution. We must listen so that the government can then take the most powerful steps to save lives.

Most Americans want the same thing – a return to normal. The normal of 2019 is not going to return, but we all have an opportunity to shape the new normal of 2020 and beyond. With the participation and cooperation of every American, this can be achieved. We have a long history of uniting in response to adversity. Each of us can and must do our part now. However, it is critical to get this right. As my colleague Dr. Anthony Fauci testified on May 12, 2020, we must not rush blindly, or act too quickly, in returning to our daily lives. If we ignore the science, we stand a dramatically increased risk of worsening the spread of the virus in the coming months. This could lead to more widespread outbreaks and to many more lives lost throughout the remainder of this year.

To do our part, we need to hear one message in a voice that is clear, consistent, trustworthy, and backed by the best science available. In previous outbreaks, Americans listened to our public health experts at the CDC. They were the daily face and the voice guiding Americans during prior outbreaks including Ebola, Zika, and the H1N1 influenza pandemic. As an example, in 2009, the CDC, along with Elmo, taught Americans how to sneeze in a way that minimizes risk of contagion. Today, we need clear and simple messages to teach us how wear a face cover, when and how to safely go outside or back to work or back to school. It’s that simple.

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While waiting for a cure (which, I believe, will come), there is much we MUST do. With clear leadership, honest communication, and data-driven solutions. We must:

  • Increase public education regarding the basics — handwashing, social distancing, appropriate face covering, self- and dependent monitoring, and frankly, our leaders must lead by modeling the behavior.

    o These simple measures reduce the number of people exposed and can buy us valuable time.

  • Ramp up production of essential equipment and supplies, including raw materials and critical components.

o Shortages of critical supplies and protective gear increase the risk to our frontline healthcare workers; they deserve the necessary equipment to protect themselves while treating their patients. First responders must also be given protective equipment. And we now see a courageous segment of our workforce – essential workers who keep food on our tables and keep our society running. They too deserve our appreciation and support.

  • Facilitate equitable distribution of essential equipment and supplies – eliminate the state vs. state competition. Establishing a national standard of procurement and distribution increases efficiency and reduces costs.

  • Finally, we need a national testing strategy. The virus is out there, it’s everywhere. We need to be able to find it, to isolate it and to stop it from infecting more people. We need tests that are accurate, rapid, easy to use, low cost, and available to everyone who needs them. We need be able to trust the results so that we can trace contacts, isolate and quarantine appropriately while striving to develop a cure.

    As I reflect on the past few months of this outbreak, it is painfully clear that we were not as prepared as we should have been. We missed early warning signals and we forgot important pages from our pandemic playbook. There will be plenty of time to identify gaps for improvement. For now, we need to focus on getting things right going forward. We need to ensure that we have a plan to recovery and that everyone knows the plan and everyone participates in the plan. Congress has taken important steps to support the response; and we have more to do. We need your help to get us through the crisis.

    We Americans, working cooperatively with our global friends, can and will succeed in finding a cure for COVID19, but that success depends on what we do today. We must unite and use all available tools and measures we have to stem the damage this virus has wrought.

    We will either be remembered for what we did or for what we failed to do to address this crisis. I call on all of us to act – to ensure the health, safety, and prosperity of all Americans. You can count on me to continue to do my part.

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