Loneliness is the worst world pandemic

– “I moved to X.  because of the war and I am lonely here, can you help me cope with loneliness?”

This incredible message was sent to us a few days ago by a knockout-blue-eyed- blonde professional lady from the Ukraine that we had met online in a chat space. How is it possible that she could not find a romantic partner anywhere she chose to settle? And if I were to tell you that she cooks. And she knits too

Loneliness is a major scourge of all nations that crosses all the socioeconomic, ethnic, age and cultural segments of our modern societies, significantly worsened after two years of social isolation and profound anxiety due to the Covid pandemic. The social and economic consequences have been progressively subsiding, but the mental and psychosomatic sequelae are not only resiliently persisting but for many individuals have even worsened. There are new triggers of anxiety and depression.

As we have repeatedly said in our previous articles and recent book, despite having the most advanced means of communication that mankind has ever known, we are more isolated and lonelier than ever in the history of societal communities. The terms loneliness and social isolation are related but not interchangeable. Social isolation is usually defined by objective measures like the number and depth of family relationships, social networking, participation in social institutions, etc. Loneliness is usually defined by subjective measures like personal perceptions of emotional deprivation and absence of inclusiveness plus the void of personal rapports.

Dr. Neil Charness, Director of the Institute of Successful Longevity, said: “Important risk factors for loneliness and social isolation are age (older people are more likely to report being lonely), physical and mental health (greater disability is associated with greater loneliness), lack of access to mobility options (driving, public transportation), lower income levels and living arrangements (living alone).  Taking on the role of full-time caregiver for a loved one can also led to social isolation.”

Note. This reproduction of Le Penseur by Auguste Rodin was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

Recognizing the deleterious effects on the mental and physical health of patients of modern nations, the United Kingdom, the very first Western nation to institute a National Health Service after World War II, took the initiative by creating a new Ministry of Loneliness with Baroness Barran as its first designated functionary.

In June 2021, inaugurating the Loneliness Awareness Week, Baroness Barran said: “Although life is beginning to feel closer to normal for many people, we are still in a critical stage when it comes to tackling loneliness. There is a large number of people who felt lonely before the pandemic and will continue to do so as lockdown restrictions ease.”  There is generous funding to set initiatives to foster the following.

a) Check in with a neighbor, recognizing that some people will be keen to get together in person once possible, while others might be more cautious.

b) Keep in touch with friends, family, and neighbors – for example calling someone or writing a letter, asking how they feel about getting out and about again, and considering whether going together would help both of you feel more confident.

c) Contact organizations – there’s a list of organizations on the Let’s Talk Loneliness website, which can offer support.

d) Set a routine with online activities, regular tasks or by volunteering. Rejoin groups that might not have met for some time, and think about how you can welcome others back, especially people not feeling very confident.

An online survey of 950 Americans carried out in October 2020 showed that: “36% of all Americans—including 61% of young adults and 51% of mothers with young children—feel ‘serious loneliness.’ Not surprisingly, loneliness appears to have increased substantially since the outbreak of the global pandemic.” However, the loneliness epidemic in the USA not only concerns the elderly, but also younger generations like the Baby Boomers, who have started to retire in droves since the begging of the 21st century, and the still employed Gen X.

In a November 27, 2022, New York Times article Dana Goldstein and Robert Gebeloff said: “in 1960, just 13 percent of American households had a single occupant. But that figure has risen steadily, and today it is approaching 60 percent. For households headed by someone 50 or older, that figure is 36 percent. Nearly 26 million Americans 50 or older now live alone, up from 15 million in 2000. Older people have always been more likely than others to live by themselves, and now that age group—baby boomers and Gen Xers—makes up a bigger share of the population than at any time in the nation’s history.”

However, there are encouraging signs that older people are positively reacting to their loneliness at home by reaching out for civic institutions in society to do voluntary services and even opt to become partially employed as caregivers. In our book Emotional Frustration—the Hushed Plague, we discuss it extensively.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

 What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Should we get our vaccines against Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a parenchymal infection of the lungs that presents with acute or subacute onset of fever, productive cough, pleuritic chest pain, localized râles, and radiological signs of consolidation. There are three categories of this disease:

  1. Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP)
  2. Healthcare- associated pneumonia (HCAP)
  3. Nosocomial pneumonia.

It is a worldwide leading cause of emergency visits, hospitalizations, and death; according to the World Health Organization (WHO) it is the fourth leading cause of death, killing more than 2.6 million lives I 2019. There are two major peaks of incidence:

  1. Children less than 5 years of age.
  2. Adults older than 75 years of age.

The combined mortality for influenza and pneumonia has radically decreased in the USA—from 23.7 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2000 to 15.2 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2019—due to the falling of smoking rates across all socio-economic segments of the American population and the increase of use of the corresponding vaccines. According to the American Public Health authorities, the best strategy to decrease the morbidity and mortality rates of CAP is to vaccinate the target groups:

  1. Age: individuals less than 5 years of age and older than 65 years old.
  2. Smoking history.
  3. Chronic Lung diseases: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Childhood Pneumonia, Occupational dust exposure.

The best strategy to decrease the morbidity and mortality of HCAP is to:

  1. Maintain critical pulmonary defense mechanisms.
  2. Reduce the incidence of intra-hospital infections and similar care events.

The most common pathogen producing Pneumonia is Staphylococcus Pneumoniae, which has been identified in almost a third of patients that had proper testing and approximately 40-50% of all blood cultures-confirmed cases. Patients with COPD often have tracheobronchial colonization with a mix of S. Pneumoniae, Hemophilus Influenzae and Mycoplasma catarrhalis. Heavy use of alcohol carries the risk of dangerous pathogens like anaerobic bacteria, which predispose to lung abscess and empyema, and the opportunistic emergence of gram-negative bacilli tougher to treat.

The American Thoracic Society (ATS) and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) noted in their 2005 guidelines that the three variants of pneumonia associated with healthcare facilities –HAP, VAP and HCAP— “are similar in that they often result from colonization, then infection by resistant gram-negative bacilli and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) necessitating broader empiric antibiotic therapy than that commonly used for CAP.”  These same ATS/IDSA guidelines do not recommend the routine use of blood cultures in the ambulatory setting, except in the following circumstances:

  1. Symptoms or signs of severe CAP.
  2. Suspicion of drug resistant or rare pathogens.
  3. No response to empiric antibiotic treatment after 72 hours.

The same ATS/IDSA guidelines recommend the pre-treatment use of blood cultures before initiating treatment in hospitalized patients who are classified as severe CAP, are being empirically treated for MRSA or gram-negative bacilli or have one of the following: a) cavitary infiltrates, b) leukopenia, c) chronic alcoholism, d) chronic liver disease, e) COPD, f) pleural effusion, g) no spleen, and h) admission to ICU.

Patients who do not have any life-threatening conditions can be managed at home. Pending the results of any blood cultures that were obtained, the 2019 ATS/IDSA guidelines recommend the following initial treatment for Pneumonia:

  1. Amoxicillin 1 gram three times per day.
  2. Doxycycline 100 mg twice per day.
  3. Or a macrolide monotherapy—azithromycin 500 mg on first day and then 250mg per day or clarithromycin 500 mg twice per day.

The ATS/IDSA guidelines recommend at least five (5) days of antibiotic treatment which should be extended 48 to t72 hours if there were any complications; when gram negative or Staphylococcus bacteria are present, treatment should be longer as these pathogens tend to destroy pulmonary tissue and provoke residual scarring.

Note. This 1802 caricature of the Anti-Vaccination movement by Edward Gillray was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

As it has happened ever since Edward Jenner introduced the life saving vaccines against smallpox, there are detractors of the Pneumococcal vaccination. What does the science say?

Pneumococcal vaccination has significantly improved over the past few years, as more variants are accounted for. A single agent, PPSV23, had been traditionally used for immunocompromised individuals and those older than 65 years; it is effective against 85 to 90% of the pneumococcal serotypes in our communities. Considering that the polysaccharide vaccines are not effective in children less than 2 or 3 years of age, we must use conjugate vaccines. In 2010 a 13-valent conjugate vaccine dubbed as PCV13was introduced in the market and its use has steadily decrease the incidence of the disease in children. In 2013 that vaccine was recommended for immunocompromised individuals and two years later for adults older than 65 years. However, considering the sharp decline of Pneumococcal infections in adults after he introduction of PCV 13 in children, they amended that recommendation already.

The influenza vaccine is a trivalent live vaccine that contains the three virus variants that are expected to be prevalent the year following its manufacture. Combined with the pneumococcal vaccine, it has been effective in reducing flu and pneumonia in the USA. However, their use is still limited due to poorly designed Public Health initiatives and lack of provider effective participation in vaccination campaigns.

A September 2022 communique of the CDC to physicians says: “The 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate (PCV15 from Wyeth Pharmaceuticals) and the 23-valent pneumococcal  polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23 from Merck, Sharp and Dohme) has been recommended for American children; those recommnendations vary by age group and risk groups.”

We, physicians, are notorious for missing that needed vaccination again and again. We paradoxically scold our patients for not getting their yearly flu shots, but….We never got one ourselves. We solemnly promise to get our flu and pneumococcal shots after we get the bivalent Pfizer Covid booster and the Holidays passed. Why? Because we want to minimize any risk, no matter how small it might be,  of interference with the plentiful food and drinks we are planning to load our bodies with. Hey. give us a break…We’re only human!!!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

The Covid 19 pandemic is not over yet

We are all extremely fed up with any discussion of the tragically deadly Covid-19 pandemic, especially those of us who suffered the irreparable loss of loved ones. We do not want to wear any masking anymore, except in crowded indoor spaces. We want to greet, touch, and hug family and friends. We want to be human again.

However, we should be careful not to toss our masks into the dustbin and engage in dangerous activities like having dinner in a crowded restaurant or board a plane to enjoy a leisurely dinner in the company of a few dozen people. Hold on just yet.

In an excellent article in The New York Times, Sharon Otterman said that the Omicron variant that accounted for most infections through the summer, BA.5, is now giving way to a variant soup—a mixture of different Omicron subvariants including BQ. 1 and BQ. 1.1, which are even more transmissible and better at dodging immunity.

The Center for Diseases Control, CDC, uses genomic surveillance to track the SARS-CoV-2 variants for sequencing; the Nowcast is a weekly updated model used to calculate the circulating variants in the USA. To provide more representative national, regional and jurisdiction—level estimates of recent proportions, calculations are made to track the spread of variants through the states and within the confines of the same state. The estimates are based on measuring the following

  1. Total number of reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, rc-pcr tests.
  2. Total number of SARS-CoV—2 positive RT-PCT test results.

One of the present challenges of the American Public Health authorities is that the testing is now done mostly at home and not in public facilities, which is masking the real extent of the viral diffusion. However, there are indirect signs that these variants might be spreading already as the New York City officials have noticed an increase in the nationwide surge of hospital admissions due to respiratory Syncitial virus, coinciding with the seasonal surge of flu. The three viruses act as a minuet—named in honor of the 18th century ballroom dance where two persons dance in triple time.

There are clinical indications that the approved vaccines are still working against these variants, especially to avoid the hospitalizations and their grave consequences. As the immunity wanes over time, there will be strong need for at least two doses of the vaccines plus one or two booster doses. Vaccines still work, but for how long?

The real challenge is to encourage more American citizens to get the booster shots to protect them form the more nefarious effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

What do you think. Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Should we get a Covid Ambivalent Booster vaccine?

After the strenuously prolonged Covid pandemic that lasted almost two and a half years, we are all tired of the subject, let alone getting yet another shot for the bug. However, that complacency by default can be dangerous as last summer there were about 40,000 deaths in the USA due to the still dangerous virus in our midst. The problem has been compounded by the incomplete rates of vaccination in the USA.

In a New York Times article, David Leonhardt said: “the situation is especially tragic because most of these Covid deaths could have been prevented—if only more Americans had received vaccine shots, including booster shots for older people and others with vulnerable health.” Even though the pandemic has lost its impetus and few patients become sick enough to need an urgent hospitalization, the rate of infectivity is still way too high in the non-vaccinated and the under-vaccinated.

In August 2022 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized  the Pfizer and Moderna companies to introduce the bivalent boosters, which not only protect from the ancient strains but also from the BA5 and other new variants; the were officially introduced on September 28, 2022. Most experts recommend people over 50 years old, and especially those with chronic medical conditions, to get a booster shot if they had not had one this year yet. The case for booster shots gets trickier for people under 50 years old because they are at much lower risk of contracting a serious Covid infection and, they might have had a bad experience with the initial shots and want to avoid taking time off work to recover. However, if they get infected, they might disseminate the virus to more vulnerable members of their families or need more days off work to get well.

David Leonhardt added: “the most effective way to reduce Covid deaths, however, does not involve boosters. It involves persuading more unvaccinated Americans to get their first shot. Their risks are far higher than the risks facing the unboosted. Unfortunately, public health officials acknowledge that they do not know how to increase that number very much. About four-fifths of the unvaccinated—a group that is disproportionately Republican—say that they will definitely not get a shot…” For the past few years, there has been a bitter Red-Blue or Democrat-Republican schism in the USA, whose sharp and explicit differences have seeped into all societal levels.

When we enthusiastically studied for so many years, and with great familiar and financial sacrifices, our Master and Doctoral degrees of Public Health at Columbia University in New York City, we did not have the slightest idea that those precious diplomas would put us squarely in one of the two socio-political camps of the USA. As Friedrich Nietzsche, a brilliant yet controversial philosopher, has sagely said:

“Madness is rare in individuals, but in groups it is the norm.”

Note. This picture of Friedrich Nietzche was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

We will get a second booster shot before the wintertime sets in, as we are worried that the laxity of our safety measures may favor the Covid dissemination. Even if an infection does not reach the level of gravity to warrant a hospital admission, it still puts you at increased risk for the physical/psychological effects of Long Covid, which are quite significant for certain patients Amongst these we should mention gastrointestinal, cardiological, mood effects, etc. The featured image was taken the first time we got the Pfizer vaccine in Jackson South Medical center in Miami in January 2021.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

What is the scientific basis of Food Addictions?

Recently we watched six episodes of a Netflix series titled Chef’s table: Pizza where they describe the culinary excellence of six pizzaioli, three Americans, two Italians and one Japanese. Of course, they completely ignored the fabulous pizza makers of both Argentina and Uruguay where millions of Italians flocked from the 1880s to the 1930s, in one of the greatest human migrations of History. We are the proud descendants of those hardy peasants and workers that build those countries up. And being produced by “Americans” (sic), they failed to acknowledge the origin of Pizza.

Pizza is the perfect example of the kind of foodstuff providing us Umami pleasure. For centuries the Western civilizations recognized four types of taste: sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Until a Japanese scientist doing research in Leipzig in 1908 unmasked the mystery that Oriental cuisines had treasured for centuries: a fifth taste. Why did Europe and North America take so long to catch up with the Japanese? Because the recalcitrant colonial mentality of Westerners dismissed “what the chinks or japs eat” as disgusting fare based on strange sauces and fermented fish.

Umami is a taste provided to our palate by glutamate, a chemical compound, when it is associated with 5’ribonucleotides like insoate and guanylate. Japanese were more attuned to that delicate taste because they have used dashi for centuries; it is similar to the Western style soup stock but it is produced from dried seaweed kombu. Kikunae Ikeda developed the scientific concept of Umami when he was doing research on glutamate in the laboratory of Wilhem Ostwald in Leipzig, Germany. He stayed there from 1899 to 1901, doing research on basic elements of food like tomato, asparagus, fermented meats, and cheeses, etc., recognizing the taste of dashi. After extensive research efforts, Ikeda could isolate glutamate from kombu and prepared it in the form of salts of sodium, potassium, and calcium. Glutamate had been isolated from wheat in 1866 by Rithausen, who had found it to be insipid in taste. Thus, is how the infamous monosodium glutamate (MSG) came into being.

Note. This reproduction of Kikunae Ikeda was taken from Wikimedia Images.

In 1913 Shintaro Kodama, a disciple of Ikeda, identified 5 inosinates in dried bonito, a key component in the preparation of dashi; he found that the combination of glutamate and 5’nucleotides like inosinate and guasylate enhanced the intensity of Umami in certain foods. This work had been inspired by the earlier writings of Huizu Miyake, the first Japanese scientifically trained medical doctor who wrote that “good taste promotes the digestion foods.” That is a critical observation that paved the way for the industrial use of glutamate additives in the commercial food industry to generate addiction to it. Glutamate, together with other 70 types of Excitocins, arouse a pleasant excitement in humans by commandeering our Dopaminergic system, the neurological basis of Pleasure and Euphoria. (Sex also excites it) That is why we get so addicted to glutamate-laden tomato sauce, parmesan, prosciutto. Moreover, it is present in great quantities in fermented meats and vegetables. Now the sushi we consume in upscale restaurants is hardly made with freshy prepared rice anymore as they prefer to ferment it for at least one week before using it. Don Julio, one of the best grills of Buenos Aires, only serves aged meats and sausages in its menu. Mother Nature endowed our mothers’ milk with plenty of glutamate, basis of our lifelong bonding with the marvelous creatures that granted the Gift of Life to all of us.

Ikeda made the first scientific presentation of his discovery to his peers in the USA meeting of the International Congress of Applied Chemistry in 1912 with a paper titled “On the taste of the salt of glutamic acid.”  But it went largely ignored until a joint meeting of the American Chemical Society and the Chemical Society of Japan in 1979 in Hawaii brought this issue back into its well-deserved public limelight. Julius Maggi, a pioneer of the European food industry, designed appliances in the late nineteenth century to grind peas, beans, lentils, etc., to make nutritious and tasty dehydrated soups so the working women could have a ready meal for their children when they arrived exhausted from their factory jobs. Maggi teamed up with Fridolin Schuler, a physician, to design the first ready-to-made soup based on hydrolysate in the Swiss market in 1886; in 1908 he introduced his still famous soup cubes.

Note. This image of Juius Maggi was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

Some studies have indicated that incorporating the Umami taste in low salt food increases its attractiveness, an important feature for the cuisines of nursing homes to entice older people to try their dishes, even though they use little salt. Moreover, these products increase the salivation of these older people, a key stimulant to eat. Blaylock and Weiner in their book titled Excitocins: the taste that kills claimed that there were scientific studies in animals that showed how the over-excitation of their dopaminergic systems produced neurological damage. However, better structured animal studies and later clinical trials in humans, should be designed to clarify it. As many issues in life, there should be an equilibrium with lessened collateral effects.

Our Roman ancestors used Garum, a mixture of fermented fish to put some savor in those Legionnaires’ rations in their extended warring campaigns in Europe and Asia. It is certainly an inherited taste seared in our genes. We can still remember how our wife at the time (the mother of our children) insolently took a rounded piece of Pecorino cheese (we had bought it in an Asti market to ferment it further) out of our hotel room’s fridge and dumped it in the wastebasket. We know that its strong odor was diffusing around, attracting the attention of the cleaning staff, but that did not excuse her brutal sabotage.

Madonna Santa!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Is the Western societies’ Abundance really over?

One of the more lasting consequences of the tragic pandemic we have gone through for almost two years—besides the worst legacy of millions of lost lives, including some dear members of our own family—is the firm certitude that society changed. No longer we have the hopeful belief that tomorrow will be better than our present, with the suspicion that there might be another pandemic in the near future, with unforeseeable social, economic, and human costs to each and every one of us. No exceptions.

The barbaric Russian invasion of Ukraine has compounded all those fears of the inhabitants of the European continent, long accustomed to the economic bonanza and social harmony that the Post-World War II institutional order brought them. The raw images of civilian casualties from a senseless war in Europe has shaken the confidence of the still wealthy Europeans with the fear of worse times to come. One of the most affected countries has been France, with a generalized shutdown of all public lights at 9 PM sharp and the draconian restrictions of energy expenditures.

Note. This reproduction of Camille Pisarro’s Bountiful Harvest was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

Kim Willsher recently wrote in a The Guardian article: “Emmanuel Macron has warned the French they are facing sacrifices and what he called ‘the end of abundance’ at his government’s first cabinet meeting after the summer holidays. The president, speaking before ministers at the Elysée, said the country was at  a ‘tipping point’ and faced a difficult winter and a new era of instability caused by climate change and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine…His cautionary and sombre speech, which were immediately criticized as ill-judged and a snub to the country’s out-of-work and poor who had already made sacrifices, came after a summer of extreme temperature, widespread wildfires , droughts and rains.”

In our book Emotional Frustration – the Hushed Plague we predicted that Western societies would make a re-evaluation of the critical role played by Minorities and the poorest members of society—overwhelmingly hired by the service industries to keep our communities functioning in times of extreme duress like a pandemic. The French unions reacted angrily to Macron’s words as they prepared to resist any legislative move to curtail their earned labor, unemployment, and pension benefits. However, the rest of French society tends to grudgingly agree that all the segments must share the sacrifices to affront the upcoming energy shortages next winter. The shortage of fuel and gas will not impede the social manifestations of discontent.

In Germany, the ruling coalition government announced several measures to counter the dire consequences of inflation and high energy prices for consumers. They are:

  1. One-time payment of Euro300 to consumers to cover their energy costs.
  2. A planned price cap for the basic energy consumption of the families.
  3. Retirees will also receive that stipend, but students will receive Euro 200.
  4. The successful 9 Euro ticket implemented last summer to use the public transportation all over the country will be extended with a higher price.

In a Bloomberg News Online article, Julian Lee predicts that rapidly replenishing gas and fuel storage capacities and reducing the amount of energy consumed by the citizenry will not be enough to stem the nefarious effects of Russia’s shortage. At present Germany has replenished 80% of their gas storage but their functionaries believe that they need to quickly find more alternate sources of fuel for the winter. The interrupted gas delivery system from Algeria to Europe, now supplying only the Iberian Peninsula, as it stops at the French frontier, will be eventually completed. However, the national interests still complicate the negotiations as the French insist that it should stop in their country and not proceed along to Germany and others.

These draconian measures will certainly have lasting psychological and physical effects on the inhabitants of Western Europe that we will pointedly discuss in future articles.

Stay distant.. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

Resolutely, Resiliently Working from Home

-“Doctor…Our bosses pretend to put the genie back into the bottle—too late.”

Dianne X. is a successful, qualified professional of the Commercial Real estate industry that has been working in a hybrid form for two years already. Out of the blue she received a memo last week that all personnel should report back to the office in July. She has earned her right to work from home three days per week and only report to the office two days to attend meetings, courses, train the rookies and show properties. She has voiced her opposition to management’s Orwellian demand  to give up her hard-earned privilege and she has received the solidarity of many of her colleagues.

If the myopic honchos, that fill the top-heavy management of Corporate America, harbor the illusion that they can corral all women back into their holding pens, they got a Big Surprise coming their way.

There is a significant difference between the concept of Home Office and Working from Home, which most of us have been practicing even before the pandemic struck. In order to engage in a Home Office set-up you need two elements to play:

  1. Specialized equipment for use at your residence and good connectivity.
  2. Focused strategy to maximize your efficiency while working alone.

What most people did doing the pandemic is much more modest proposition dubbed as Working from Home, which only entailed basic equipment and enthusiasm. But slowly and steadily the “home-stayers” learned daily, with its difficulties, how to work and produce meaningful results for their employers while being at home. Slowly a culture of trust spawned as the employees learned that it was in their best interests to keep the wheels of commerce running to the satisfaction of employers. The traditional bureaucratic arrangements in companies sought to control the employees by always “keeping an eye” on their subjects’ use of time. However, that tight supervision never prevented employees to check their personal emails at work, spending took much time at the water cooler to gossip and to stealthily take time off.

Moreover some people were never comfortable in the office settings to begin with. Minorities and Women may feel “out of place” in an environment still largely run by older white men that have a tough time understanding their very special needs. Individuals with young children at home love the idea of sharing parenting duties. To dispel the widely held belief that people working from home are loafers that use paid time to engage in personal activities and not the business of the corporations, a recent study showed that individuals working at home spend on average 48 more minutes per day on their work duties. Freed from the travails of grooming themselves and enduring large commuting times to their offices, they are much more efficient.

An interesting phenomenon dubbed as Nightshift means that when dinner is ready at your home, you interrupt your work for an hour to share the meal with your family. But oftentimes, the employees do not go with their kindred to watch a Netflix series at the living room and instead eagerly resume their tasks at their working stations.

If any of these so called Masters of the Universe harbor any illusion that they can just crack the whip like in the good old times (before the pandemic) and millions of ladies doing a delicate balancing act by combining work and family needs in a hybrid work environment, will stand up in attention like a meerkat family in the Serengeti plains…well, they are in for the rudest awakening of their lives. Instead of hoarding more mola, you should date more ladies. Or you can make it easier for your limited manly brains and read our new book Emotional  Frustration – the Hushed Plague to gently, slowly imbibe your underdeveloped minds with the secret workings of the feminine psyche.

Wake up, you dummies!!!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Being very young and very lonely in France part II

We are continuing our discussion about Loneliness in the Young French citizenry.

Based on their individual and familiar evolution, the researchers distinguished four basic types of profiles. They are:

I—Inhibited Lonely people

These youngsters have encountered problems during childhood (family or school violence) and suffer of loneliness. Their early isolation has hampered their ability to develop lasting relationships of trust. Defiantly, they only care to have a few friends, and they usually cannot rely on their families. Their primary objective is to access an independent status (employment, lodging, mobility) which is a prerequisite for their social integration.

II—Resigned Lonely people

These youngsters had the same harmful conditioning stimuli than the first group, but their plight extended into early adulthood for which they recoiled into their inner sanctum, i.e. their nuclear families. Safely cocooned there, they seem not to suffer from their isolation, which is of paramount importance for their sense of well-being. They strive to maintain the equilibrium in their family bonding.

III—Assumed Lonely people

These youngsters do not suffer the crippling conditioning in their childhood but when entering their early adult age, they voluntarily decide, for professional, familiar, or geographic reasons, to limit the physical interaction in their friendly network. They feel fine with their arrangements to “have friendship at a distance.”

IV—Wounded Lonely people

These young people were first exposed to loneliness in their early adulthood when they face failure in their studies, work, marriage, etc. They feel “en décalage” vis-à-vis their pairs and believe that they lost friends due to their real or imagined failures. Retreating into the safety of a solid core of vetted friends, they hope to make a comeback after they have resolved their issues and are ready to meet new people.

The terrible worldwide SARS-Cov-2 pandemic, and its associated Social Isolation, for the past two years has significantly compounded the loneliness situation of young people all over the globe, including the more developed societies like France. In an article dated December 7, 2021, Axelle Davezac, General Director of the Fondation de France wrote: “The Public Health crisis has shaken our daily lives, our projects, our relationships with other people. For a year already, another epidemic has stealthily diffused: the loneliness, which hits one person over four. And the youngsters were not spared, as 21% of them have come across a situation of isolation in 2021, and a third of young people claim that they feel alone quite frequently.” Precisely at the very same early age where the cardinal sociability rules and tenets of material independence are cemented, two protracted years of Social Isolation have hit the 15 to 30 years old-age group. She claimed that 21% of young people were in a situation of compromised relationships due to isolation, more than nine points than data from one year before. The quality of their relationships with their entourage had degraded during this period, ushering a feeling of loneliness quite pronounced; one third of the French youngsters said that they usually felt alone, twelve points more than the median for the French population at large.

Note. This reproduction of Toulouse Lautrec’s Une amie de Suzanne Valedon was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

There are two major post-pandemic digital concerns for Very Young People:

I—La peur du décrochage

Many young people in their formative years are experiencing the fear of becoming disconnected, either because access to fast Internet services is often expensive in our societies or they have a tough time to buy the needed software and applications. They feel as if anytime, unexpectedly, a sinister hand could “pull the plug” of their connectivity and leave them totally stranded in the digital pathways of Life.

II—L’angoisse de l’écran

She also had some troubling words for all those that had to endure the attendance of study and college courses through web connections, without any physical interaction with their fellow students and teachers for months on end. She said: “But the anguish has also invaded all those who, alone in front of their screens have experienced growing difficulties to self-motivate, to grasp the content of the courses, to establish contacts with their fellow students and teachers.”

We will continue discussing these critical issues in articles soon to be uploaded.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Being very young and very lonely in France part I

-“Doctor…Scores of great Parisian girls feel miserably alone like me—we need much more gorgeous men like you to rescue us.”

Alina X. is a knockout blonde-blue eyed Slavic young woman who, through her sheer business acumen and manifold efforts, became the owner of a luxury fashion store in the most coveted neighborhood of Paris: le 16th arrondissement, where rich people live and play. We met her last week because she saw our humble profile in a dating app and contacted us for friendship and … je ne sais pas quoi. When we read her personal summary, we could not believe our eyes. When we started chatting, she quickly “spilled the beans” on moi. She told us that her case of romantic loneliness is not an isolated one as there are thousands upon thousands of gorgeous Parisian ladies that cannot find a suitable partner due to men’s proverbial imbecility and sickly obsession with sex. We suggested to her to read our new book  Emotional Frustration – the Hushed Plague.

Note. This reproduction of Marcel Dega’s L’Absynthe was taken from Wikimedia Images.

By Edgar Degas – Google Art Project: Home – pic Maximum resolution., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20303082

One of the signs that there might be something afoot in La Ville Lumière is the considerable number of beautifully manicured dogs and cats that you see paraded by their young owners. As for lonely individuals (and not couples)  in New York City and other large American cities, it usually comes down to an empirical rule of thumb (similar in its smart crudeness to the one women used for ages inversely linking the cylinder potency of a guy’s car and the size of his penis)

Show me how far you go to prep your doggie and I will guess how empty your Romancing attic is.

By some accounts, almost half of the Parisian population, are now living without a sentimental partner. How can this be? A study by the Fondation de France has shed some light on this issue.

 Commissioned by the above-mentioned foundation, the Centre de Recherche pour l’Étude et l’Observation des Conditions de Vie (CREDOC) conducted in 2017 a survey of French citizens aged 15 to 30 years old to find the causes and incidence of loneliness in this age group. In this humongous survey, 18% of the individuals aged 15 to 30 years were interviewed to ascertain their objective situation regarding their social isolation and vulnerability. They can only count on one social network (12%) or none (6%) These individuals have scant social interactions and very limited ones with their families, friends, neighbors, associated members, professionals, college or schools, etc. They found that 1, 4 million of young Frenchmen and Frenchwomen have only one social network and 700,000 have none at all. There are four levels:

I—Friendship level

It is the very first level of sociability for humans. They found that 77% of individuals aged 15-30 years old (60% of all the French individuals with a similar age) develop this kind of sociability. 65% of individuals aged 15-30 years old develop dense contacts with family members that do not live with them (47% of French individuals of similar age)

II – Neighborly level

Contrary to popular lore that assumes that lonely young people do not talk with their neighbors, they found that 49% of the 15-30 years old do have regularly engaged exchanges with their neighbors.

III – Associative level

They found that a large number (40%) have a high level of participation in social institutions, including political parties, charity organizations, clubs, etc.

IV—Labor and Study level

One in two individuals aged 15 to 30 years old socialize outside their work or college environments with their colleagues. They found that 79% of the students aged 15 to 30 years old have social contact with their fellow students outside the classrooms.

In the 15 to 30 years old there is paradoxically more social isolation for the young adults than for the younger members of the group. There are four reasons:

  1. Absence of family Life and Sentimental Bonding. They found that 39% of young individuals aged 15 to 30 years old live less frequently with family members (against 46% of the greener individuals) and have less romantic bonding (20% against 35% of the greener individuals)
  2. Degraded lodging and transport privileges. They found that only 53% of Isolated young adults in that group are satisfied their lodging arrangements, compared to 63% of the younger members of this group. Only 45% of Isolated young adults are satisfied with their transportation arrangements compared with 53% of the younger members of that age group.
  3. Lower level of studies. They found that 13% of the isolated young adults have a college degree against only 8% of the younger members of their group.
  4. Higher level of unemployment. They found that 22% of the isolated young adults are unemployed compared to 12% of the younger members.
  5. Lower incidence of alcohol and cannabis consumption. They found that 36% of the isolated young adults do not consume alcohol compared to only 23% of the younger members; 85% of the isolated young adults do not consume cannabis against 79% of the younger members.
  6. Addiction to the little screens. They found that there is s higher incidence of this addiction in the younger members, with more than fours per day on average.

Based on this data they divided the isolated French 15 to 30 years-old in four groups, which are extremely relevant for individuals in other modern societies as well. Do not miss Part II of this article. We will discuss these four groups and the different value assigned to their failures.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Are face masks still necessary?

“To wear a face mask. Or not to wear it. That is the question.”

On March 29, 2022, Adeel Hassan wrote an article in The New York Times saying that: “The highly contagious Omicron subvariant known as BA.2 , which led to a surge of coronavirus cases in Europe, is now the dominant version of new US. cases…Last week, the World Health Organization reiterated that BA.2 was the dominant version of Omicron around  the world.”

Despite the humongous pressure exerted in Washington, D.C., by the extremely powerful Transportation and Entertainment lobbies, the Center for Diseases Control (CDC) extended the draconian mask mandates for two more weeks until May 3rd. Even though we are tired of all the pandemic restrictions, we understood the logic of that directive for precaution in the face of an unknown threat still brewing out. New coronavirus cases started to uptick lately, with thousands of people becoming infected.  However, the more widespread coverage of the vaccines and the booster shots has markedly limited the hospital admissions and the morbidity; therein lies the danger that the real impact of the BA.2 variant is being under-counted as many patients consider it “a bad flu” and oftentimes ride it out, without even getting a test.

On April 18. 2022, Florida Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle struck down the mask mandate in a 59-page decision arguing that the agency had exceeded its legal authority under the Public Health Act of 1944. As soon as her decision was published officials , the Transportation authorities said that they could not enforce the mask provision in airports, bus and train stations, airplanes under the US jurisdiction, etc. We saw in the newscasts how as soon as flight attendants announced the decision over the airplanes’ loudspeakers, which provoked great joy in the cabins, the passengers started to unmask and swing their masks in the air in sigh of defiance.

Do we still need to wear masks for safety precautions? The answer is Yes and No.

Most Public Health experts agree that for fully vaccinated people that are in open spaces like the street, parks, outdoor cafes, etc., there is no need for them at present. However, the tighter the proximity with other human beings becomes, the greater need for wearing a mask to avoid infection. First of all, customers must respect the guidelines set by the businesses they patronize. A sign at the door that demands to wear a mask, must be respected, especially to avoid violent situations with staff. In an indoor space with great ventilation and tall ceilings, the need is relative. However if there are too many people inside and the physical space is limited, it is advisable to wear a mask. How do we asses if there is enough ventilation? Simple. If your nostril receptors can easily catch the various smells originated in human activities, like smoking, then the ventilation is poor indeed. Better to wear a mask then. Similarly even if there is not a Federal Mandate to wear a mask inside a plane at present, who would be foolish enough to risk a business trip or a family vacation? Sadly from the looks of it, there are plenty of people willing to play that Lottery.

The critical issue of demanding schoolchildren to wear masks is much trickier. First of all, children under 5 years rarely become sick of Covid 19, except for some tragic cases. Forcing students to wear masks inside the classrooms can be a self-defeating proposition as the children pull out their masks in the recesses to play together. Moreover, the USA has been somewhat of an outlier in this issue as most modern nations did not oblige Kindergarten and Primary School students to wear them.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.