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Belmont Club

The First Horseman

August 6th, 2014 - 3:36 pm

News that 8 persons in Lagos, a city of 20 million people, were infected by the dying Patrick Sawyer with Ebola and one — a nurse — had died sent a shudder of fear through Nigeria. Close on its heels reports that a businessman had died with Ebola-like symptoms in Saudi Arabia following a trip from a West African trip have prompted assurances from authorities that steps have been taken to keep the Haj from becoming a distributor of the disease to Muslim world.

Ebola is proving the proposition that when dealing with nature, if you lie you die.  Nowhere is this clear than in Liberia where the poorly educated population is hiding victims, abstracting them from hospitals, attacking doctors who they believe bring the disease or dumping Ebola corpses in the street, satisfied that by casting the infectious corpses out of doors to be torn to pieces and spread abroad by dogs and carrion, have solved the problem.

And in a way it is rational a rational response to irrational Liberian governance.

With less than half of those infected surviving the disease, many Africans regard Ebola isolation wards as death traps, he said.
‘They are therefore removing the bodies from their homes and are putting them out in the street,’ Mr Brown told Reuters.

The virus has closed down Liberia’s hospitals and killed its doctors.  Liberia’s institutions, never much good in the best of times, are being collapsed by the virus.  A chart from the Wall Street Journal tells a tale of rout. While Guinea and Sierra Leone Ebola statistics show a constant rate of infection, but Liberia’s slope is increasing as the days progress.  It’s getting worse faster.

Panic

Panic

Naturally the World Health Organization is meeting to decide whether the experimental drug Zmapp should be provided to the stricken African countries. Nothing like demanding a uncertified, unneeded product created by a morally defective capitalist pharmaceutical system to save the world. The LA Times reports:

the World Health Organization said it was convening a panel of medical ethicists early next week to consider whether experimental drugs should be more widely released.

A decision to allow two American health workers infected in Liberia to have access to an experimental treatment — while dozens of African doctors and nurses have perished — has ignited a controversy over the ethics of the decision, which reportedly sidestepped Liberian health regulations.

If the serum proves their last hope they’ll first demand it as a ‘right’– then commandeer it if necessary.  Necessity knows no bounds. But that cuts both ways. There may be no serum other than a few experimental vials. Reality doesn’t give a damn about Liberian health regulations nor WHO edicts nor speeches by president Obama. It cares about facts.

About who invested in medical research, and who didn’t; about who has good epidemic controls systems and which don’t; about which country have functioning border controls and which care about ‘immigration reform’.  And there isn’t any serum in production, then there’s no serum. The problem is that since our leaders have messed up the facts, they can’t fix things with speeches.

War, Famine and Pestilence all obey the laws of physics. The media, government and the academy have heretofore cared about the laws of political correctness and the tyranny of appearances.  Now we get to see who wins. In recent years it has become fashionable to claim the Narrative trumps reality. Yet you can’t bribe viruses, can’t “hide” infectious victims, can’t appease dictators and you can’t print money. As I’ve written many times before, nobody beats arithmetic.

Not even Saudi Arabia. If the Saudis don’t act rationally then the Haj can become one giant virus distribution system, their K street lobby notwithstanding. If Obama doesn’t close the border, if something can come along, something will come along .  Something like Ebola, which if unchecked will teach the Boko Haram and ISIS that chopping off people’s heads and having sex with hundreds of kidnapped African schoolgirls isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

The narrative of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is often given a mystical interpretation. But it can be viewed as a straightforward secular warning against folly. According to Billy Graham, the First Horseman is the great liar, the false prophet, the anti-Christ.  But even if you’re not a Billy Graham fan, and even if you hate him, it’s easy to see how a venal government, a debased culture, a system of self-deception can lead to famine, pestilence and war.

Corrupting the information store will get you every time.

It may be happening already. As I noted elsewhere, for the first time since the Second World War, globalization is contracting.  Air routes are being trimmed to detour around the threat of surface to air missiles posed by the Islamic world and on the Russian border. Diseases know the difference between real and paper countries. Liberia has announced the closure of its borders, and disease knows it has no borders.

ASKY and Arik, Emirates Airlines and British Airways have halted flights to West Africa.  And unless the situation is physically reversed, more and more destinations will be declared off limits. The map of Africa may slowly become blank again. Unless the trend is reversed the global elites will eventually reach the point the Chinese called ‘losing the Mandate of Heaven’.

That’s the point when people impeach their leaders not on the basis of party affiliation but on the basis of whether they want to physically survive  an epidemic or not; when competence finally matters. Perhaps we’re already there. Charles Krauthammer observed that things have reached the point when ’no one cares what Obama says’, adding he’s “almost animatronic”, like those plastic dinosaurs in a theme park, acting out his theme park presidency.

We often forget that the sacred texts of mankind began as practical documents.  They were checklists. And we may well rediscover this fact before the end. One can imagine the last two postmoderns crawling towards each other in the ruins of a once great city to die, and while waiting to expire engage in conversation to pass the time.

“Waldo,” the first said, “do you remember that tablet displayed in front of the Texas Statehouse. You know, back when there was a Texas?”

“Yeah, didn’t it have a whole bunch of stuff scrawled on it? Tell me again what it said,” replied the other.

“Waldo, it said, ‘thou shalt not kill.’ And ‘thou shalt not lie’.”

“Anything else?”

“Yes it also said, ‘thou shalt not steal’. Plus somewhere in the middle said, ‘thou shalt not have sex with people you weren’t married to.’”

“Yeah, I remember it now,” the second post-modern said. “What a bunch of hooey. It’s a right wing, nutjob, racist document called the Ten Commandments.  It’s a religious document.”

“No Waldo,” the first replied. “That’s where you’re wrong. It ain’t no religious document. I just figured out it was a survival manual.”


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Top Rated Comments   
Traditions, religion-based or otherwise, have always been about codifying success. At some point, social and biological success moved beyond luck and probability. The reason for this was that man figured out what behaviors were markers of failure. It was only natural for man to write down and pass on those religious beliefs and cultural traditions.

We have spent the past six decades denying the validity of our traditions. As if homosexual sex was ever going to produce the next generation. As if new concepts of family could supplant a cohesive, biologically-based unit. As if mass abandonment of the work ethic would provide for the dignity and meaning for life that could be instilled in each successive generation. As if drug and alcohol use are merely optional diversions without deleterious effects.

The Boomer generation smashed and set fire to the traditions that produced the world's most successful society. As some of us are neither convinced nor dead yet, they are still busily about their work. But, clearly, some laws just cannot be broken with impunity. The abattoir doesn't care where the meat comes from.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
I wonder Wretchard, why it is that the Africans cannot develop a vaccine for Ebola themselves. After all, have we not been told over and over again that evil racist whites are evil? Have we not been told that all cultures are equal, that Western scientific thinking is racist and not applicable to Africa? Very well. Let Liberia and Guiena and Sierra Leone and other places create their own research centers and staff them with their own doctors. I am sure they will find plenty of volunteer help from their brother African-Americans. They can then develop their own vaccines free from the evil white man.

As for the Haj, well, let it proceed as normal. The Islamic world has said repeatedly it despises the infidel. So, they need no medicine or medical advice from the Jew or Christian whom they despise. If someone attends who is stricken with Ebola, well, that is merely the will of Allah. Let it be.

One thing I know for sure, Wretchard. I no longer have the will to try to prevent people from suffering the consequences of the belief systems they profess.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wow. Wretchard, you surely know how to finish an essay.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (146)
All Comments   (146)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
''As I’ve written many times before, nobody beats arithmetic''

...which becomes clear in the after math
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
The latest in CDC double standards concerning Ebola treatment:

http://pissinontheroses.blogspot.com/2014/08/cdcs-lesser-of-evils-double-standard-on.html

"Thursday, August 7, 2014

CDC's "Lesser Of Evils" Double Standard On Health Care Worker Protection Indicates They Expect a Large Ebola Outbreak In USA

CDC apparently has made a "lesser of evils" choice to direct Doctor's and healthcare workers to risk their lives using only minimal Personal Protective Equipment [PPE] when treating Ebola patients. Prior to the outbreak, Ebola Biosafey Level 4 [BSL-4] regulations limited treatment of Ebola patients to only 22 hospital beds across the country which had the required BSL-4 treatment rooms and 'space suits'.

Those regulations meant that if a non BSL-4 hospital had been exposed to an Ebola patient, the hospital would have to shutdown the affect areas until they could be sterilized. It also meant that Doctors and healthcare workers exposed would be held under quarantine. Obviously, that methodology is not sustainable for a large Ebola outbreak as the medical system would collapse.

Our analysis indicates that the CDC sees a real risk of the medical system collapsing from the adherence to strict Ebola BSL-4 regulations. And as such, it is better to risk the collapse of the medical system from an actual spate of healthcare worker Ebola infections at BSL1 facilities than it is to risk Ebola patients having no access to medical oversight ...
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
“The one significant thing I noticed when in the ME was the lack of original art of any real talent … Middle Easterners lack imagination. How else do you explain their lack of imagination?

Give me an I!
Give me an S!
Give me an L!
Give me an A!
Give me an M!
What does it spell?

Islam, for a number of theological, psychological, sociological, and historical reasons, stunts imagination. Actually, religious or political fanaticism of any sort tends to narrow minds. The Middle East hasn't been quite the same since the murder of Hypatia, and it hasn't recovered yet.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh, I dunno. Looks like it spells "I Slam". They do an awful lot of it, don't they?
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Islam forbids representational art because, idolraty. All decoration had to be geometric.

The most serious cause of stunting is the theological position that Allah literally wills *everything*. No cause and effect.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
ISIS Captures Largest Christian City...
Pulls down church crosses...
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/11018298/Islamic-State-pulls-down-church-crosses-in-northern-Iraq-as-200000-flee.html

A stitch in time woulda saved a LOT more than nine.
(But Barry Knows Best)
U.S. Weighs Airstrikes on Iraq, Starts Aid Airdrops
Bid to Protect Refugees Fleeing Extremists

http://online.wsj.com/articles/iraqi-militants-seize-christian-villages-1407404503
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Ottoman Empire did a reasonably good job of keeping up with the rest of Europe in weapons technology, while ignoring everything else – including the printing press. If it has to do with military tactics or weapons technology, Muslims tend to be very interested. The problem is that Muslims have historically lacked interest in anything that isn't military-related. In contrast, Jewish and Christian scientists tend to be interested in anything and everything, and this makes them aware possible military applications of essentially civilian technologies.

Muslim historians tend to be interested in the history of Islam, ignoring pre-Islamic societies and ignoring any non-Islamic society that is not an immediate military threat. In contrast, western historians study what interests them – including nearly everything. This necessarily means that western historians will have a better comparative understanding of history than the vast majority of Muslim historians. Narrow mindedness has very real costs for any society – and that includes China under Qianlong.

Japanese statesmen knew they didn't know, so they wanted to learn as much as they could to defend Japan from outside imperialists. Japan not only copied western technology, but it did some innovation of its own. It stole trade secrets with abandon, improved upon foreign technology, and it paid off.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Muslim[s]... tend to be interested in the history of Islam, ignoring pre-Islamic societies and ignoring any non-Islamic society that is not an immediate military threat. In contrast, western historians study what interests them – including nearly everything. ... Narrow mindedness has very real costs for any society I think you've just explained a facet of Captain Benghazi's ignorance of American history and culture.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have often wondered why "atheists" spend so much time and angst worrying about what does not exist, when there are so many genuine evils to occupy all that energy.

7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ask Rufus, he should know.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
I agree. Nobody devotes so much time and energy to arguing against the existence of Bigfoot or unicorns. That's an awful lot of reaction against a nothing.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
I once worked for a manager at a large utility company who had just returned from a company-paid one year executive MBA at Stanford.

I asked what was the most important thing he learned at Stanford.

His reply was "Perceptions are reality." I tried not to gag although I did roll my eyes.

He was later fired for falsifying environmental reports which cost the company $21 million in fines.

Guess reality showed him that reality is reality.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
I wonder how he perceives the unemployment line.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
OT, but reality related:
For Weather Geeks -

"The Hurricane Hunters used dropsondes to measure wind speeds and barometric pressure from 10,000 feet down to sea level, and instruments mounted on the nose of a WC-130J plane took readings at flight level. A wing-mounted radiometer capable of peering through clouds scanned the wave action on the ocean to gauge surface wind speeds."

http://hawaiitribune-herald.com/news/local-news/hurricane-hunters-find-iselle-more-resilient-expected

Climatology was one of the few college classes I took that I easily got an A Grade because of a true interest in the field.
...having a great professor didn't hurt, did the same in the Geology and Ecology Classes that Norman Sanders taught.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Traditions, religion-based or otherwise, have always been about codifying success. At some point, social and biological success moved beyond luck and probability. The reason for this was that man figured out what behaviors were markers of failure. It was only natural for man to write down and pass on those religious beliefs and cultural traditions.

We have spent the past six decades denying the validity of our traditions. As if homosexual sex was ever going to produce the next generation. As if new concepts of family could supplant a cohesive, biologically-based unit. As if mass abandonment of the work ethic would provide for the dignity and meaning for life that could be instilled in each successive generation. As if drug and alcohol use are merely optional diversions without deleterious effects.

The Boomer generation smashed and set fire to the traditions that produced the world's most successful society. As some of us are neither convinced nor dead yet, they are still busily about their work. But, clearly, some laws just cannot be broken with impunity. The abattoir doesn't care where the meat comes from.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Chesterton said that tradition is the democracy of the dead.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Honor thy Father and thy Mother" does not mean just to call them every Sunday. It also means not to bring dishonor to them by your bad behavior. It also means not to carelessly cast aside the traditions and wisdom of the ages. The Boomers did exactly what they should not have, dishonored their ancestors.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm beginning to see that the Western cultural design margin had such depth that it allowed westerners to come to believe that the massive replacement of unfashionable 'old' traditions -- hard-earned traditions and the cultural practices which had allowed our survival and unprecedented [thrival] growth -- to comfortably ignore the reality of how human things actually work within a stubbornly human-resistant world...And despite all the signs and portents of reality reasserting itself, the proglodytes gleefully throw away our survival manual to gorge themselves on a mess of pottage.

Humankind, it seems, is blessed and cursed with being the most self-deceptive creatures to have ever walked, crawled, slithered, or swum the planet. We're so smart we can turn our collective imagination into happiness or miserable death by immanetizing the very same thought.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is, of course, where Progressivism goes most wrong. They've been burning design margin for most of a century, nodding to each other about how much BETTER they're making things, no sign yet of the various failures that the hated conservatives and other bitter clingers predicted, hey we're still able to borrow enough to buy all we want ...

Even among those who understand instinctively, not one in a hundred can state the principle: Traditions are how we got here and most of them are essential to keeping on.

I hope to live long enough to see whether Progressives ever reach a point where they can no longer deny it. At the moment I suspect they'd rather die ... perhaps they'll have their wish.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Unsk said: My take is when the FDA denies the use of an experimental drug on a terminal or near terminal patient ...

This is an argument that gets really complex, about what if anything the FDA should try to do and be allowed to do, and what rights individuals should have, etc. Remember in many countries you don't need a prescription for drugs as you do in the US, and Lord knows what gets sold over the counter in foreign countries much less on late night tv here in the US. Then there are the habits of big pharm and the very real difficulties in new drug technologies, and even were I dying of ebola I would not automatically say yes to trying some new drug, I mean there might soon be fifty guys lined up by my bedside offering me new, secret drugs, even fifty legitimate pharms, and we all knowing that thirty of them won't work and five of them will kill me anyway, with the remainder of partial usefulness and unknown side-effects. I suppose at some point you spin the bottle and go with whatever, but it's not that simple.

SE said: Your assertion that "Of course Africans can develop vaccine for Ebola themselves" is more of an indignant declaration devoid of any facts to sustain it.

Well first, I think you may have misinterpreted Alexis' post, and second as a logical possibility it remains potentially true, though the likelihood of things are as you say. Yet I keep shouting that there are old and simple techniques that you'd think would and could be tried by virtually anyone with (or without) a medical degree and a good high school laboratory, and I hear no stories of these things being tried - not today, or anytime in the last fifty years, etc. Perhaps "if it were that easy the Americans would already have packaged it" is on their minds. I suppose this actually supports your argument, though.


7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
The CDC has raised its response to the Ebola outbreak to Level 1, its highest, and used on only two previous occasions: " . . . it has been activated because of the surge of personnel being sent into the affected countries. . . . According to the CDC, level 1 is 'all hands on deck.' The CDC has only been to level 1 three times in the history of the emergency operations center, which opened in 2003. Previously, it was activated for Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the H1N1 influenza outbreak in 2009."

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/08/07/cdc-issues-highest-level-alert-amid-ebola-outbreak/
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled."--Richard Feynman, on the Challenger disaster.

But we have erected an entire government and governing philosophy (liberalism in its US sense) on the basis that facts do not matter, all that matters is what we want,a nd what we want is to be comfortable and self-righteous--Tinkerbelle government, if you will.

This does not end well.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Kevin Williamson on the Ebola Drugs and the FDA:http://www.nationalreview.com/article/384757/when-regulation-kills-kevin-d-williamson

My take is when the FDA denies the use of an experimental drug on a terminal or near terminal patient, they are engaging in the denial of that person's Fifth Amendment Right to "Life, Liberty and Property". In my mind, that denial of the right to Life is a criminal act and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
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