Happy Fourth of July

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. We wish all our American relatives and friends a Happy Fourth of July. Today we celebrate the national day of a unique country that, even with its many flaws, has been a great nation of socio-economic opportunities since it was founded in 1776.

Today we are having a very subdued celebration due to the ravages of the pandemic in our society, with millions of infected people and, sadly, too many deaths already. However, we believe that finally the local and state authorities have realized that this is a problem that will not go away with silly magical thinking and improvised measures.

Here in Dade County the beaches have been rightly closed for the whole weekend and there is curfew from 10 PM until 6 AM to dissuade people to carelessly congregate. Only with the concerted and honest effort of all the major institutions of society and the common citizenry will we be able, not only to surmount these sanitary challenges, but also to face the drastic economic consequences of the upcoming New World Order.

The American people will find the wherewithal , enthusiasm and faith to surpass them.

Happy Fourth of July!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Happy Father’s Day

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning and Happy Sunday. Today we are celebrating one of the nicest holidays there could possibly be and we would like to wish a Happy Father’s Day to you all. Humans are not born out of a cabbage but are the result of a loving bonding between a man and a woman that create the most wonderful phenomenon: a new human being.

Two years  ago we published an article in honor of our dear father Mario Laplume Salguero. We still stand firmly behind each and every word that we had used then. Moreover, watching our son Gian Luca become a great writer and cinematographer, we feel fortunate that his precious genetic material could be transferred through us to him.

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Muchas gracias querido Pápá.

Tus hijos y nietos te agradecen haberte conocido y disfrutado tanto. 

Que siempre descanses en la gloria de Dios Todopoderoso.

For those lucky enough to still have them alive, please congratulate them on our behalf.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful. 

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Général de Gaulle continue à nous inspirer

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. Yesterday we celebrated the 80th anniversary of the famous speech pronounced by Charles de Gaulle, then a young and little known French military officer, in the BBC studios on June 18, 1940. In it, he encouraged his fellow citizens to resist the Nazi occupation and disobey the puppet collaborationist regime of Général Pétain. He was addressing a nation that no longer existed from a civic standpoint but whose spirit of freedom had taken to the woods to join the Maquis–the clandestine resistance.

At the time, almost all the European continent was subjugated by the Nazis and the military prospects were grim. However, he urged all the remaining loyal French soldiers and professionals to travel to British held-territory to re-assemble for a fight. Thousands heeded his call and they reconstituted the French Army with the emblem of the Croix de Lorraine; aided by the Allied army, they finally ended the Nazi occupation in 1944.

Drapeau_france_libre_croix_de_lorraine

There was a bitter political dispute between Winston Churchill, the flamboyant British Prime Minister, and the upstart French officer, which delayed the planned discourse for a few days; Churchill wanted to wait until Pétain actually signed the armistice with the Germans. After the defeat in France and the massive evacuation of Dunkirk, the Brits stood alone, only protected by their insular nature and the might of the British Navy. Churchill had to walk a fine political line, trying to avoid making more enemies.

But there was another personal, and very important, difference between these two great political figures that has been discreetly avoided in history books. De Gaulle was at 1.96 meters a very tall man whose towering figure immediately caught the attention of everybody in the room. In contrast, Churchill was a short man, at 1.68 meters, who did not project a particularly attractive figure in public; his famously gruff, sarcastic and tempestous demeanor might have been a psychological compensation mechanism for it.

When Général de Gaulle toured several countries of South America in 1965, he visited our school, the Lycée Français of Montevideo, Uruguay. We were assembled in neat rows in the indoors gymnasium when he quickly stepped in with his retinue. He was so tall.

After a brief speech in French without a microphone to us (whose details we cannot remember) he waved his hand at all of us. Then the ranks broke off and the children surged forward to try to touch him. As we were in the fourth or fifth row, we resolutely climbed a mountain of students and reached the top. He was a little surprised to watch our stunt but, smiling, he extended his right hand; we could only grab his hairy wrist.

Merci beaucoup, mon Général!

800px-Charles_de_Gaulle_au_micro_de_la_BBC

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Just a little delay

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning.  For the past few weeks, many readers contacted us to find out if we had already finished editing our new book Emotional Frustration – the hushed plague and when it would be finally published as both a physical and e-book formats. We proudly announce that we have finished that task and will send it to the publishing house.

In early March we had just sent a supposedly final version of the book  but the dramatic moments we went through thereafter, both personally and professionally due to the pandemic, made us re-consider our decision. It would have been dishonest to ignore the dramatic effects of the Social Isolation and Economic breakdown we were witnessing.

Not only we reviewed our previously finalized writings but, based on new articles of our page, we added more than fifty pages of new material with many updated references. Moreover, we dared to discuss some of the startling features of the coming “new reality” that will bear little resemblance to the familiar world we used to consider “as ours.”

Women will play a decisive role in rebuilding our lives inside and outside our homes, like they did after the Great Plague of 1348; their more assertive socio-economic role will bring major changes at the family, financial, labor and employment, civic realities. If we rely on them to help us get out of this morass, we should at least respect them more.

We present you a new page, which was added at the beginning of the new manuscript.

If only one person reads this book…we would feel very satisfied.

If only one person gets the message…our mission would be done.

If only one person is distracted from the Horror…we would be happy.

We were about to deliver the final edited version of this manuscript for its publication when the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic brutally broke in the public scene of the United States. Initially shocked like the rest of the population, we went into strict social isolation. However, as a practicing physician, we had to continue our duties as best we could. In the relative safety of our desk, we pondered whether we should publish it or not. We knew that there had been a complete shutdown of most publishing initiatives.

People cloistered at home deserve the possibility of substantive reading. Terrified by the darkness swirling around, they might like this little piece of light. Emulating the heroic example of Anne Frank, we should garner our moral strength. Dismissing any commercial considerations, we will go ahead with its publication.

In one of the poor quarters of Nàpule —where some of our kin had lived —a neighbor lowered, with a little rope, a basket with a sign from the balcony: inside it, passers-by could drop groceries they wanted to offer for others to pick up.

Chi può metta…Chi non può, prenda[i]

[i] In Italian, it means “Whomever can, put something…Whomever needs it, take it.”

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Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Celebrating Gian Luca’s 23rd birthday

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good afternoon. Today our son Gian Luca is celebrating his 23rd birthday with us. The special social circumstances prodded us to design a modest lunch with him in our apartment in order to avoid any contact in the recently opened up restos of South Florida. However, we will still have a nice chocolate and dulce de leche cake with three candles and wishes. He has his whole marvelous life ahead of him. Buenaventura.

We still remember when the Obstetrics nurse in Saint John’s Hospital of New York City handed us a small rounded ball of flesh and water with slightly slanted eyes (that Asiatic feature is an inherited anatomic characteristic of people from Basque origin) Aleluiah!

Celebrating Giani's 23 birthday

He has been a charming, clever, hard working and generous fellow who makes all his family proud. We just had a video chat conference with his mother and sister who are in two different countries but feel a strong affectionate bonding with the clan’s benjamin. He is the best friend I have ever had in my life. Thank you God Almighty for this gift.

Torta de cumple

Feliz cumple Giani querido!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Buona Festa della Repubblica

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. Yesterday, June 2, Italians celebrated, in a subdued manner, the 74th  Anniversary of the Proclamation on the modern Italian Republic, after World war II. The Festa della Repubblica used to be a joyous event in thousands of big and small piazzas all across the peninsula that were festooned with flags and filled with music.

However, due to the devastating toll of the Coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown, there was not a truly festive mood anywhere to be seen. In fact,  the main celebration was a modest speech by Sergio Mattarella, the President of the Republic, in the town hall of Codogno, the small  village of the province of Lodi in Lombardy, where the pandemic hit first.

Slowly but surely, the incidence of new infected patients and the mortality rate are coming down in the peninsula, which gives fresh hope to the battered population.

Let us rejoice with the majestic display of the national flag’s green-white-red colors by the Frecce Tricolori, the acrobatic team of the Italian Air Force that has been a fixture  of the celebration for years. Yesterday one of the cameramen of the TG Uno newscast was standing in front of the monument to Vittorio Emanuele in Roma, pointing his lens straight up, when suddenly the field was filled with the different colored exhausts of the screeching jets passing by. Bellissimo!

Frecce Tricolori

Auguri per la Festa della Repubblica a tutti nostri connazionali!

Stay distant. stay safe. stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Cherchez le fric

You cannot expect most mortals to excel in the über-byzantine ways of Modern Politics.

Except for the Brits. The inhabitants of a little island managed to rule the planet with wits.

Their top diplomats used few words adorned with plenty of elegantly suggested threats.

Why did the British born and raised CEO of Sanofi open his mouth a little bit too much?

In an interview with Bloomberg News on May 13, 2020, CEO Paul Hudson said: “The U.S. government has the right to the largest pre-order because it’s invested in taking the risk…(the U.S. expects) that if we’ve helped you manufacture the doses at risk, we expect to get the doses first.” The American government had expanded a public—private partnership by injecting U$ 400 to develop a safe vaccine faster; the company has a vaccine development facility in Waltham, Massachusetts.

The not-so-subtle words of someone that should know better than ruffling the already-excessively-ruffled feathers of the public servants assailed by the clamor of their constituents to bring a vaccine to the market that will deliver us all from this ordeal, landed as a cluster bomb in the elegantly baroque hallways of the French government. Président François Macron expressed outrage at that statement and countered that a good vaccine should benefit all Mankind and should not be sold in a private market.

We watched in Le Journal of France 2—the most popular news program in France—on May 14, 2020, as Serge Weinberg, President of Sanofis-Aventis, made a special appearance to calm the public uproar that his subaltern had maladroitly produced a day earlier. He said: “there will be no particular advance given to any country.” He explained that his company has a small vaccine facility in Waltham but a much larger one near Lyon. They are making arrangements already to produce the vaccine in those two facilities plus several other ones to meet demand in other parts of the planet.

In a Washington Post article, Christopher Rowland, Carolyn Y. Johnson and William Yan said: “Johnson & Johnson’s race to manufacture a billion doses of coronavirus vaccine is ramping up in a small biotechnology plant near Interstate 95 in Baltimore. But even as technicians prepare to lower 1,000-liter plastic bags of ingredients into steel tanks for brewing the first batches of experimental vaccine, international concern is bubbling about what countries will get the first inoculations.” That Baltimore facility is the first one of four company planned ones as the production of a vaccine for the whole of Mankind will take an unprecedented manufacturing effort.

Designing and manufacturing a reliable, safe vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2 virus is a task of biblical proportions with no margin of safety errors for three major reasons:

a) It’s a novel virus that produces multiple effects in various body systems, for which scientists and physicians are still learning “sur le champ” in a paranoid environment.

b) Pharmaceutical companies are developing new biotechnology techniques that had not been tested before and demand caution as there is hardly any long-term safety data.

c) Unlike other pharma products that are eventually consumed by sick people, an approved vaccine(s) will be given to millions of healthy people all over the planet.

Herd Immunity is the indirect immunological protection that is afforded to an entire population by the presence of a sufficient number of immunized individuals in their midst—after they had been infected; this has occurred for measles, mumps, polio and chickenpox due to the massive vaccination campaigns promoted by authorities. As long as the number of immune individuals does not go below a certain threshold, the whole population is safe. If there is a community with lower coverage—like it happened with measles in Disneyland in 2019—there might be an outbreak. Some viruses like the Flu mutate frequently and its immunity only lasts a few months, requiring almost yearly updates. So far, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has not shown that propensity to change frequently, which would extend immunity to several months or years. However, we still do not know much about it and we should be prudent.

There are two ways to develop the Herd Immunity: option A and Option B.

Option A

If we do not enact Physical Distancing and Social Isolation measures, the virus will infect millions of people in just a few months; experts agree that at least 70% of the population must be immunized in order to get the necessary Herd Immunity. This is the approach taken by Sweden, which has not put up any radical measures. We must consider that it is a small country of only a few million people, living apart both from a physical and social standpoint. Have you seen Swedes holding hands in the street? This approach can overwhelm the care facilities and exhaust the available material needed to take care of a surge of critically ill patients in the large urban centers.

Option B

If we do enact those drastic Public Health measures, the incidence of new infections will slow down, which will not overwhelm the already existing facilities and allow authorities to increase their resources, both human and material; this is what is commonly referred as “flattening of the infection curve.” New cases will rise slowly, then plateau over a period of weeks or months before finally coming down. This is the approach that has been taken by most countries in the world at the present time.

For both societal alternatives, the arrival of one (or 2,3) useful and safe vaccines will accelerate dramatically the attainment of a protective immunity shield for all people. That is precisely why many governments (especially if they have vaccine producing facilities in their territory) are fighting a sordid war of words and elbows to be in the pole position once the  frantic race for massive vaccination starts in the near future.

Development of an effective and safe vaccine for millions of people is usually a process that takes many years, even decades. The design of one ( or maybe two or three) vaccines for the SARS-CoV-2 virus is being fast-tracked by several teams around the planet, sometimes carrying out animal experiments and the initial phase of clinical trials at the same time. There are at least four major techniques to achieve that feat in record time:

a) Use of harmless viruses to deliver their genetic material inside the cells so they can form proteins, which will eventually alert the immune system to produce antibodies.

b) Use of killed or inactivated fragments of the virus to engage the immune system.

c) Use of a novel technique of viral messenger RNA in order to stimulate the human cells to produce the viral proteins that will trigger a response.

d) Use of viral DNA to produce the same effect as the above-mentioned technique.

The use of viral DNA or DNA is a completely new scientific approach and there is not any industrial experience about how to manufacture that kind of vaccine in a large scale; if we consider that in order to reach complete immunity, humans might need two doses of the vaccine, we are facing the real need of producing billions of doses on short order. Experts believe that eventually there will be more than one candidate, which will facilitate the tackling of this colossal production of good vaccines in a few months.

In order to dramatically speed up the arrival of an effective vaccine, the American government—breaking all the conventional wisdom and past experiences on vaccine development—has created a special project called Operation Warp Speed. In an article in Science, Jon Cohen said: “The project, vaguely described to date but likely to be formally announced by the White House in the coming days, will pick a diverse set of vaccine candidates and our essentially limitless resources into unprecedented comparative studies in animals, fast-tracked human trials, and manufacturing. Eschewing international cooperation—and any vaccine candidates from China—it hopes to have 300 million doses by January 2021 of a proven product, reserved for Americans.”

On May 21, an article in Bloomberg News detailed the U.S. administration whooping investment of 1.2 billion U$ in the joint AstraZeneca-University of Oxford project to develop a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, which will start a large clinical trial in 15 days. The details are still coming out but there is already talk of a compromise for 1 billion doses.

If you are trying to guess which country will get the vaccine first, you must remember the answer of veteran sleuths to the question of what the motive of a heinous crime was.

Cherchez la femme!

Cherchez le fric!

Note – We have a little theory why Mr. Hudson committed perhaps the worst mistake of his life: he has spent too much time in the USA, the land of the brutish spitters of “truths.” Except for highly educated regions like New England and well-behaved ones like the Midwest, there are far too many spontaneous sauvages in this country who sincerely yet naively believe that just because something might be “correct”, it necessarily has to be “right.” We respectfully propose to the honorable Sanofis-Aventis board that they should grant their Demolition Paulie a leave of absence for a refresher stint in an English boarding school—with mandatory wearing of a good muzzle at all times, except in the refectory.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Is the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic starting to slow down?

In New York City, the number of new cases of infected people with SARS-CoV-2 and the daily death toll have been dropping for the past five days. The gory spectacle of health care personnel hastily talking to the reporters while they are sweating profusely in their Mertian protective gear is fortunately gone from our evening news programs. So are the makeshift hospitals to take care of the patients and the refrigerated trucks holding the bodies of the victims. Some of the hardest hit hospitals like Elmhurst Hospital in Queens and Brooklyn Medical Center in the homonymous neighborhood have much lower Emergency Room visits and less admitted patients for the infection, an unexpected phenomenon that has puzzled Public Health experts and hospital administrators.[i]

Today in an unusually optimistic article in Les Echos—the most respected financial daily of France—Yves Bourdillon affirmed: “the pandemic wave is coming to a close, apparently. The new cases of the Covid-19 atypical pneumonias and the associated deaths decrease in absolute number in al the countries of the world during the past few days. This daily flux only represents no more than 1.2% on average of the total number of the registered cases and 0.5% of the deaths, according to the reference sites of John Hopkins University and Worldometers.” [ii]

Amongst the developed nations most affected by this pandemic, the daily rise of new cases has been 0.5% in the USA,  0.3% in Germany and 0.2% in France, Italy and Spain. Even though they register almost two-thirds of the deaths, their daily rate has significantly slowed down, except for occasional peaks—like yesterday’s surge in the USA that tallied 1500 deaths. We must consider that there must be many more cases than the officially counted ones, but the trend is unmistakable and gives hope.

There have been many hypotheses about this phenomenon, including the benefits brought by a change of weather with the arrival of summertime; however, in New Zealand located in the Southern Hemisphere, the same trend is observed, with hardly any new cases. The Social Distancing and Isolation have certainly contributed to the betterment of the statistics but this trend occurs in countries with differing policies; it is observed in countries like Switzerland and Norway that have enacted a light version of Social Isolation and countries like Japan and South Korea with more draconian versions.

Some scientists are wondering if this “ralentissement” [iii] is really an expression of a mutation of the virus to become a different infecting agent. Less infectious or more? Veteran physicians and administrators are warily watching the sudden decline of clinical activity in their now eerily vacant hospital beds and the spreading calm. Is it just a temporary reprieve before a second wave hits them? Nobody really knows.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

References

[i] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/20/us/coronavirus-live-updates.html?campaign_id=9&emc=edit_nn_20200520&instance_id=18629&nl=themorning&regi_id=57802664&segment_id=28532&te=1&user_id=459dba66f3e7ac37fa87a73994317eab#link-598d056

[ii] https://www.lesechos.fr/monde/enjeux-internationaux/la-pandemie-sessouffle-presque-partout-dans-le-monde-1204511

[iii] Term in the French language that means: “slowing down.”

Masturbation during Social Isolation – part II

No possibility of any social encounters. Not even the platonic kind. What to do?

After almost two months of Social Distancing and Forced Isolation, we are all fed up. With perturbed nights and never-ending weekends, we might feel entitled to a little fun.

Pour quoi pas? 

For such obvious reasons, people are recurring more often to “the company of one.”  

However, it has always been too difficult to get reliable data about Onanism due to the timidity or hypocrisy of respondents that, even though they practice it in earnest, deny it vehemently in written and oral surveys on this subject. But times are changing…

Under the auspices of the Trojan company—makers of the famous condoms—Dr. Robin Milhausen, a sex investigator of the University of Guelph, conducted a survey with his colleagues to find the incidence and prevalence of Masturbation now. They found that:

a) Men engaged in that practice at least once a week at a rate double than women (65% to 35%) but women reported a pleasurable experience more frequently than men did (38% of women to 29% of men)
b) 43% of women that did it on a regular basis reported that their latest one was more pleasurable, compared to 27% of women that did it occasionally.
c) Men who considered that their last practice was pleasurable were more likely to be more emotionally stable in their couple relationships.
d) 47% of women and 39% of men who liked their latest drill were more likely to say that they were satisfied with their sexual lives.
e) 54% of women used a vibrator to boost pleasure; of those 46% of them said that their latest drill was more pleasurable compared to 35% of those that did not use it.

The Japanese company TENGA—makers of sex toys—conducted surveys worldwide about the frequency of Masturbation to prepare a 2019 Self-Help Pleasure report. In the particular case of the USA, they found the following:

a) Americans ranked fourth in this agitated sport—84% of respondents—behind Germany (89%), the United Kingdom (91%) and the world champion, Spain (93%)
b) The three more common reasons to do it were: sexual satisfaction (31%), reach sexual climax(25%) and relief of stress (21%)
c) Heterosexual and LGBT Americans were more likely to drill on a regular basis—91% and 94% respectively—compared to women (78%)
d) Men are more likely to start at a very young age—13 years old on average—and women usually start several years later.
e) Contrary to men, women find the practice more pleasurable than the real act; 37% of women considered that the solo practice was better than sex, compared to 33% of men.
f) Non-LGBT individuals consider than sex is much more pleasurable.

Dr. Julie Richters, investigator at the University of New South Wales, conducted a survey of almost 20,000 Australians to study their solo practices. They found that:

  1. 72% of men and 42% of women had masturbated in the past year.
  2. Half of the men (51%) and a 24% of the women had done in the past four weeks.
  3. In the past year, two-fifths of respondents—63% of men and 20% of women—browsed some pornography material in various presentations.
  4. 21% of women and 15% of men had used a sex toy.
  5. 19% of men and 15% of women had practiced digital-anal stimulation.
  6. 7% of men and 4% of women had engaged in oral-anal stimulation.
  7. 7-8% played sexual roles or engaged in cross-dressing.

We will prudently give our distinguished readership a few days to digest this data; in a follow-up article, we will discuss the possible benefits of Onanism for all genres.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

(This article was based on our upcoming new book Emotional Frustration – the hushed plague)

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.
Don’t leave me alone.

 

Thanks for your fabulous service

Dear readers and fellow bloggers;

Good afternoon. As a physician that has worked uninterruptedly during this terrible pandemic (even though we follow the Social Distancing protocols enacted by the City of Miami and State of Florida authorities) we must acknowledge that our dedication has been buttressed by the countless workers that have stood their ground and helped us.

Today we are introducing the beautiful Ms. Bre Wyche, star cashier at the Publix Supermarket branch at Mary Brickell Villlage in downtown Miami; last week she took care of us gracefully and diligently when we staged a quick foray to do our monthly shopping spree there. Today we went back for a refund and to buy certain items, for which we insisted on taking the opportunity to get her picture. (she is a very shy girl)

Beautiful Bre

Isn’t that smile bewitching?

After our incursion last week, we felt obligated to send an email to Mr. Todd Jones, CEO of Publix, to let him know what an outstanding service she had gently provided to us. According to his biography, Mr. Jones started in 1980 at the very low-end of the ladder (he was a front service clerk, a.k.a. bagger of groceries, in the New Smyrna Beach facility) and worked tirelessly until becoming the top executive of the largest employee-owned grocery chain in the USA. He should know a thing or two about merit-based progress.

We wrote to him: “when we were almost done, I suddenly said:’Oh, I forgot to pick up the garbage bags.’ You know what she said:’Don’t worry…I’ll go get them for you.’ And took off…She asked me what the specifications of what I wanted where and went out to get it. Can it get better? Yes, indeed. She came back with five variants of the perfumed Glad bags AND laid them out for me on the conveyor belt to chose from. I chose the lavender. This is what I call outstanding service. Please nominate her for employee of the month.”

Mr. Jones kindly answered my message, thanking me for sharing the anecdote as they love to hear that their committed employees are doing a great job every day of the week. As a front-end employee, Miss Bre is relatively exposed as she touches what we do.

Thank you very much to all the employees and administrative personnel of Publix Supermarkets for showing us, with big and little details, that they care for our families.

Stay distant.Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.