“The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: ‘What good is it?” Aldo Leopold
Not to be forgotten is the synchronized flight of fifteen or twenty sandpipers skimming the breakers on Sachuest Beach. Such harmonized movement in sudden waves of perfect unison is called a murmuration[i]. I’ve seen a very large murmuration in the late summer migration of tree swallows over the berry bushes in the nearby wildlife refuge – hundreds of them dancing in flawless synchrony.
The sandpipers are fascinating to watch feed as the waves break on the shore. They hunt by sight for small invertebrates and bugs. Very quick to find their prey, they spot what we can’t see between the waves, running rapidly on tiny legs moving almost too fast to distinguish. Back and forth, along with their fellows in the flock, in and out of the water. Quickly out as the water recedes from one wave, dipping their short beaks into the wet sand to pluck out a small morsel, and retreating to the beach ahead of the next one but sometimes lingering if the water is still shallow enough. Suddenly at some unvoiced notice, together they will take instant flight and together swoop and turn west, south, changing directions in perfect unison and swoop to another hunting ground farther up the beach after a thirty second wonder of grace and speed.We learned something new last winter about sandpipers.
We were walking in January in bitter cold clothed in down and knit caps. The sandpipers were feeding. As we approached them, we watched one broken bird hopping on one leg. Very fast. Just about keeping up with his not disabled brothers. We asked each other what catastrophe could have hacked off its leg. Wondered how it could survive. Marveling at its iron will, balance, and persistence. On another walk, we started noticing other crippled fast hoppers. What terrible predator specialized in sandpiper legs? Perhaps a sandpiper trap set by wanton boys? What an unjust wild tragedy!
When we asked one of the curators in the small wildlife museum at the head of the beach, he laughed. When it gets bitter New England cold, and the saltwater temperature hovers just above freezing (about 28 Fahrenheit), their little fast legs get cold. The sandpiper will alternate curling one leg up into their bodies to conserve energy while they dip into the water to get some lunch and stay alive another day. Then hop crazily forward to keep up with the flock. No cruel leg eating predator. No nasty trapper. Adaptation and survival. Not the weakest of the group, but the strongest.
“Well, now that we have seen each other,” said the Unicorn, “if you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you. Is that a bargain?” Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
The COVID (SARS-CoV-2) virus is a primitive organism well adapted to invade human tissue and spread easily. Perhaps ‘organism’ might be a bit of a stretch, but its RNA structure does replicate itself once insinuated into a human cell and pilfers the requisite makings from the host cell and replicates and replicates. The virus replicates very efficiently, devouring its host and filling the host cells until they burst and disperse more viruses to invade more cells.
SARS-CoV-2 gets its marching orders from 30,000 base pairs of nucleic acid molecules in its RNA genome, which sounds like a
lot, but they are as nothing compared to what is found in one human cell. It’s not much more than voracious genes. Without getting too far into the bramble patch, nucleic acid pairs make up the DNA and RNA strings which comprise the genes of all living things.
To put some perspective into the primitive nature of this troublesome virus, there are 23 chromosomes and about 20,000 genes in the human genome in every human cell. Each chromosome contains between 50 to 300 million base pairs for a total of around 3.2 billion pairs. Thus, the COVID demon virus in the simplest terms is about 1/1,000 of one percent as complex genetically as a human being – barely classifiable as something truly alive. A lot of trouble for a tiny particle so small that the sharp head of a pin could hold about 15,000 of them. The little miseries have caused over 760 million confirmed cases of COVID and nearly 7 million deaths worldwide.[ii]
The origin of this rapidly mutating plague is a hotly debated topic. No one wants the blame for this baby. The two most popular theories, ignoring alien invasion, are a human caused lab experiment gone bad and a naturally occurring virus in bats or bat dogs that jumped the gap to mutate into being able to infect human beings. One major firestorm of the controversy is the unresolved contradiction between what the National Institute of Health (NIH) in chorus with Anthony Fauci and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) told us from the beginning and what the Department of Energy and FBI is telling us now.
Complicating the discussion is that the NIH and CDC have good reason to sustain the natural mutation zoonotic theory. The technical term for it is CYA. The alternative ‘escaped from the lab’ theory means the NIH grants through an intermediary to the Wuhan labs to develop gain-of-function SARS viruses created the thing that killed us after the ‘secure’ labs proved not to be so secure, including geographical coincidence for the first outbreak that supports the errant Wuhan lab Frankenstein creation theory of the virus.
A brief synopsis in an extensive, well documented article in “The Biologist’s Guide to Life” by Alex Washburne is all I have room for. If you would like to read a lot of his detail, there is the link to the article in the footnote.[iii] He presents compelling evidence that unique features of the virus are unlikely coincidences in nature, but highly probable occurrences in lab created, enhanced viruses. They have to do with the benignly named “furin cleavage sites (FCS).” In the footnote below, there is an excerpt from Washburne’s article that explains some of the detail.
FCS are a possible smoking gun. The gain-of-function genetic biologists at Wuhan most likely inserted a piece of genetic instruction that enabled a bat virus to cleave to and enter a human cell efficiently. They fabricated a chemical lock and key opening on the surface of the virus that hitherto did not exist and enabled it to get past the outer membrane of a human cell. Presto, it was in.[iv] It escaped out into the surrounding community presumably carried by a careless lab worker, and as they say in the UK, “Bob’s your uncle.” Oops.
As Dr. Alina Chan, who is a molecular biologist at Harvard and MIT, famously Tweeted about covered up COVID origins by the CDC and the unique furin cleavage site, “Put it this way, it is as if these scientists proposed to put horns on horses and 2 years later a unicorn shows up in their town. When they discover this unicorn and describe it to the public, they talk about every other feature except for the horn.” She makes a strong argument.[v]
“At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” Justice Anthony Kennedy, Casey v Planned Parenthood
A third curiosity in this collection of apparently unrelated curiosities.
Recently I attended a RI House hearing on a bill to authorize making every RI taxpayer complicit in abortions for any stage of fetal development. As regular readers can probably assume, my short testimony was two minutes in opposition (the limit they set, especially for dissenters to the narrative). I wrote a local letter to the editor that more fully describes the hearing if you have interest.[vi]
For the purposes of this post, here is a quote from my letter on one testimony in favor of the bill, “the glibness, smugness, and condescension of some of the testimony from academics and even ministers (was obvious). One particularly annoying discourse was another commonly promoted hypocrisy: the depersonalization of the unborn baby. When one started in about the absence of “ontological personhood” in the preborn, eyes glazed over.
With other issues, such as climate change, many of these same folks are quick to charge dissenters as ‘science deniers.’ In the debate over pre-born lives, their advocacy for science disappears as they ignore every embryology text in the land that demonstrates new human life is formed upon conception with her own unique DNA and is on a sure continuum to adulthood if uninterrupted by disease or violence. They understandably prefer to wax eloquently about ‘ontological personhood.’”
A characteristic of every war and injustice is that first the opposition or the minority to be oppressed must be depersonalized. Whether it’s the “gooks” or the “nigras” or the “fetal material,” first comes the theft of their humanity, then comes the degradation and death.
So how are these related in any way: a one-legged sandpiper, unicorns, the origins of a plague, and abortion?
Good question. You can decide whether there are any connections to be made.
Lack of knowledge in pitying the poor disabled sandpiper had me suggesting faulty hypotheses about malefactors and predators. Ignorance and assumption is not a preferred strategy to discover the truth, but it served me well for a while. Asking questions of someone who knew something real about the phenomenon soon disabused me of my ignorance and set us on a path to discover truth.
When government officials assume no one will question their self-serving explanations of what caused the disease they used to usurp almost unprecedented control of our daily lives and the economy, that’s a fabrication of a different order.
And when advocates of intentionally ending the lives of our tiniest and most vulnerable human beings obfuscate the true nature of their bloody deeds with philosophical discussions worthy of beer fueled sophomores ruminating in late night dorm sessions, my God, that’s a unicorn of a different color.
When we decide that we can arrogate to ourselves the definition of what’s good and what’s evil; when we decide we can create our own subjective reality, rather than discover what is objectively true, the ironies pile up like sundry flotsam, like green plastic bags of dog excrement, beer cans, and broken beach toys caught up in the accumulated red tide washed up after a storm on Sachuest Beach. Ironies and lies and confusion and death. We aspire to be God, and we are not up to the job.
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5
[i] I love the word “murmuration.” Related to “murmur” from the Latin “murmurāre” meaning to murmur, a low indistinct sound like a room full of people talking from a distance. Thought to be onomatopoeic originally. i.e. the word sounds like what it is. Thought to become associated with flocking birds, especially starlings which make a lot of noise when they are flocking and moving together.
[ii] COVID stats from the World Health Organization. To avoid sidetracking this discussion into tedious and unresolvable arguments, here is the link without comment about their reliability or what remains of the credibility of the WHO. For the purposes of this post, we can agree that COVID and the damn COVID virus has caused us much turmoil, sorrow, pain, and loss of every kind: friends, loved ones, multiple small businesses that we enjoyed and held someone’s dreams and hopes, and, or course, our freedom.
[iv] From the above referenced article by Alex Wasburne: “From the very first SARS-CoV-2 genome published from Wuhan, its genome was not like other SARS coronaviruses. In the middle of the Spike protein, there was a 12 nucleotide insertion referred to as the “Furin Cleavage Site” or FCS for short. The DNA sequence for this site was:
where R1 and R2 indicate the rest of the SARS-COV-2 genome on either side of the FCS (in other words, ignore the R1 and R2, let’s focus on the letters in the middle). Most of the SARS genome differs from close relatives by single mutations – an A where a close relative has a G, a C where a close relative has an A, and so on. The entire 12-nucleotide Furin cleavage site in SARS-CoV-2, however, is not found in any other SARS coronavirus.
Where did this insertion come from?
Furin cleavage sites were subjects of niche virological interest prior to COVID-19 because they are found in other viruses, including other very distant coronaviruses like MERS-CoV. A virus entering a cell has to do a sort of lock-and-key handshake with the host cell, and human cells have different ‘locks’ than bat cells. Furin cleavage sites, however, can make it much easier for viruses to “unlock” human cells. In Jargon, furin cleavage sites can facilitate receptor binding and reduce the barrier to entry, one of the main molecular biological hurdles that often prevents pathogens from entering a new host. Because the FCS is found in some viruses, and because it allow a virus to unlock human cells, researchers wondered in 2018: what would happen if we put a furin cleavage site in a bat SARS-CoV? Would it be better able to infect human cells?”
I enthusiastically suggest you check out and subscribe to Alex Wasburne’s Substack site using the link in the previous footnote. I shamelessly purloined this long quote, but the original has a lot more detailed and understandable explanation well worth your time along with many other posts of great interest.
I don’t know Mr Wasburne and this is not a paid endorsement. 😁 Just a recommendation from which I believe you will benefit.
[v] She co-authored a book on the subject. “Viral: The Search for the Origins of COVID-19.” Here is a summary she wrote with a link to the book: https://ayjchan.medium.com/the-evidence-for-a-natural-vs-lab-origin-of-covid-19-6946407f3310