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The New Normal - Face Masks Forever
Kirt's Cogitations™ #322

RF Cafe University"Factoids," "Kirt's Cogitations," and "Tech Topics Smorgasbord" are all manifestations of my ranting on various subjects relevant (usually) to the overall RF Cafe theme. All may be accessed on these pages:

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Pollution face mask wearing in China c2013 (ZDNet.com) - RF Cafe

Pollution face mask wearing in China, c2013. (ZDNet.com photo)

Covid-19 Wuhan Flu face masks NYC (Forbes.com) - RF Cafe

COVID-19, aka Wuhan Flu, face mask wearing in New York City, c2020. (Forbes.com photo)

About a decade ago, photos began appearing on news websites showing Chinese citizens walking around wearing face masks in order to filter out the massive air pollution pouring from city factories and coal-fired electric power generation plants. Articles were written advising on the best types of face masks to use while visiting or working in China. The only topic about China competing for shock factor at the time was the rash of suicides at Foxconn as the poor soulless, hopeless workers who build our inexpensive electronics products jumped from upper factory windows and roofs.

Since around March of this year, nearly every location in the United States and around the world is looking like China did for the entire last decade. A worldwide pandemic was declared because of a deadly virus which originated from the Wuhan area of China. State governors, with a few exceptions, instituted draconian rules mandating the wearing of face masks and proper "social distancing" (a contrived contemporary controlling term I detest as much as "shelter in place"). Heavy legal and financial penalties are threatened for noncompliance. Some relief came by summertime as shuttered businesses were allowed to re-open under reduced capacity conditions. As autumn progresses, many of the restrictions have been reimposed. An awful lot of people have lost their lifetime investments of money and effort due to the mandates.

Now, the streets of the entire world look like those in China, so last year's photos of pollution-plagued Xingtai and Baoding do not seem so alarming this year - and evidently for years to come. Isn't that convenient? Maybe the answer to getting rid of mandatory face mask wearing is to solve China's air pollution problem so their citizens do not have to walk around with them on, then the rest of us can be free again. One way to clean the air there would be to require that they comply now with the air quality standards set forth by the worshiped Paris Accord on climate, rather than giving them developing nation status and a pass until 2030.

Intense debate continues over the effectiveness of mask wearing due to the extremely small size of the virus compared to cloth weave spaces. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a list of studies on mask wearing, but all conclude that unless the wearer is careful to frequently wash it and wear it properly, not much - if any - protection is realized. I frequently see many people with the non-N95 surgical type masks that are worn wrong, and/or are filthy, and/or have a degraded surface. I've even seen ones worn inside-out, meaning the former "contaminated" outside now faces the mouth and nostrils. I've seen people wearing the clear plastic face shield loaded on the inside with spittle and maybe even snot - very gross.

Many people, including doctors and virologists, believe at this point the COVID-19 virus has weakened as the most potent strains die with their hosts and the surviving strains mutate into less potent forms. The Wuhan Flu tests have been shown to overproduce positive indications as they trigger on impotent virus fragments and otherwise contaminated or compromised samples. As a result of the overly cautious mandates, population herd immunity for COVID-19 and all other viruses and infectious diseases is being lessened. Yes, people suffer and die from COVID-19, but studies show the overall impact of people who suffer and die from lack of medical services, socialization, and a meaningful existence (through work) may be even greater. We still do not have reliable numbers for cases where someone dies because of COVID-19 as opposed to dying of some other malady while also having COVID-19. Evidence also exists of medical personnel purposely inflating the COVID-19 numbers, further muddying the waters.

Perhaps the biggest tragedy with COVID-19 is that the whole thing has been so politicized that nobody can be trusted. The same politicians who told us in January and February that there was no danger and we can go to Chinese New Year celebrations in the U.S. are now blaming the ones who were ringing early warning bells. State governors who transported vulnerable elderly people from hospitals back to nursing homes to die are now lecturing the rest of us on refusing to take responsibility for our actions. We have been admonished endlessly to "trust the science" or to "listen to the science," except now they are encouraging people not to take the new vaccine, developed by the world's top scientists, because it might not be any good. After first being told we will wear face masks and observe social distancing until a vaccine is ready, now the national "expert" says since the impending vaccine is "only" 90-95% effective, we'll all need to keep wearing masks because even if we get the vaccine, we might be part of the 5-10% that is doesn't work for. These people are insane!

When the promised vaccine is available, Melanie and I will be in line for it. We've gotten annual flu shots for as long as I can remember. We are both 60+ in age and healthy and do not often get sick, so being a "Guinea pig" for the sake of our fellow men is probably not a big risk. Maybe by doing so the brave social warriors at the news outlets will feel safe to get one, too. Of course my guess is that privately they'll use their privileged positions to obtain some of the first administered shots while publically bad-mouthing the effort. Some of those same people have likely been secretly taking one or more of the prophylactic treatments like hydroxychloroquine.

Yes, any suffering or death due to COVID-19 is tragic, but never forget: COVID-19 originated in the Wuhan area of China and was allowed by their communist government to propagate throughout the world. Contrary to what many would like you to believe, Donald Trump did NOT create it in a White House lab off of the Oval Office.

Children wearing face masks in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, c1972 - RF Cafe

Children wearing face masks in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, c1972

Here is an interesting tidbit I ran across about mask wearing (voluntary, not mandatory) history in the U.S. For those who were around at the time, memories come to mind of the U.S. in the 1950s through the 70s where in places like Los Angeles and Pittsburgh the air was so thick with pollution that visibility on an otherwise clear day was less than a mile. If you watch some of the Prime Time television shows from the era (e.g. Dragnet c1968), you can see the pollution in the background. You probably have not seen photos (to the right) of the people who went around with handkerchiefs on their faces in the worst of the areas. Through environmental regulations that came with heavy penalties for violation, things were cleared up significantly. Scientists and engineers came up with methods for scrubbing industrial and transportation exhaust, while also developing new fuels and machinery that were more ecologically friendly. I am far from being a Big Government guy, but I do concede that there are things that if left entirely to the whims of individuals and corporations, greed (and a bit of stupidity) can ruin the quality of life for all.

When working at Westinghouse Oceanic Division in Annapolis. Maryland, in the 1980s, many of the engineers there had transferred from the headquarters area of Pittsburgh. They all had stories of how their mothers tried to keep windows and doors closed as much as possible since otherwise black soot built up quickly on surfaces in the house. Their floors needed constant washing to remove traipsed in soot. That was so for everyone in the area, not just those who worked at the mills. Most would have been kids there in the 1950s and 60s at the height of the pollution. Famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who lived in his well-known Fallingwater estate near Pittsburgh, was asked once what the best course of action would be to fix the city's woes. His response was, "Raze it and start over." As I drive past the city on I79 a few times each year, I can tell you the city is vastly cleaner today with no obvious air pollution, though scars of the past remain.

 

 

Posted November 18, 2020

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