Could Monkeypox Mutate into Smallpox? Part 1

Smallpox and monkeypox are both orthopox viruses, with a common ancestor. The genomes are sufficiently different that one genome can’t become the other, at least on the timescale of human history. Something equally devastating could happen, through convergent evolution.

Convergent evolution is the process by which two or more species, of no or distant relation, evolve to resemble each other, so as to fill a similar ecological niche. The most visible, widespread examples come from Australia. Beginning 2.5 million years ago, Australian marsupial mammals evolved that resemble placental mammals. There were marsupial lions and wolves, and others resembling bears and pigs. Yet placentals and marsupials forked at least 125 million years ago.

It is comforting to think that, unlike COVID, the pox viruses are remarkably stable. This is due to their double-strand DNA, which has inherent error correcting properties, reducing the rate of mutation. Unlike COVID,  a single-strand RNA virus which rapidly obsoletes vaccines with each succeeding strain, the same cowpox vaccine used by Edward Jenner in 1796 to immunize against smallpox would work today, if you could find it. And it would work against a number of animal  orthopox viruses, such as monkeypox. Sharing the same or similar serotypes, these orthopox viruses display identical or overlapping epitopes to the immune system.

Some pox virus features are less conserved than others. The replication machinery is well conserved. Orthopox virus DNA is a linear string that tends to fray in mutation at those ends, and that is where virulence is encoded. Over the historical time period,  orthopox evolution has not been seen of the kind that affects disease presentation. But all pox viruses are the products of profound evolution, with a common ancestor that may have been an adenovirus.

How then could monkeypox become as dangerous as smallpox? A surprising impediment to the answer is this: How smallpox was transmitted in the community is not known! See (NIH) What was the primary mode of smallpox transmission? Implications for biodefense. Quoting,

The mode of smallpox transmission was never conclusively established. Although, “respiratory droplet” transmission was generally regarded as the primary mode of transmission, the relative importance of large ballistic droplets and fine particle aerosols that remain suspended in air for more than a few seconds was never resolved.

It wasn’t resolved because the danger of the disease made design of rigorous studies impossible. All the knowledge gleaned from actual smallpox came from case-control studies, meaning you look for types of patients, which you characterize by findings. A gem from the paper:

In one survey, (Sarkar et al., ) 10% (Westwood et al., ) of 328 contacts had positive swabs, but only 12% (Kaplan et al., ) of those with positive swabs developed smallpox. Among 59 unvaccinated contacts 27% (Miller, ) were culture positive, but only one developed smallpox.

So if it’s not inhaled, it must be the infectious pustules, right?

In contrast to oropharyngeal excretion, scabs contained large quantities of virus regardless of disease severity (Mitra et al., ) and were shed for another week or more after throat cultures were negative. Scabs alone, however, were not associated with further cases (Rao et al., ; Mitra et al., ).

The definitive experiment, exposure of humans to smallpox aerosols, could not be performed, so resort was made to animal studies, with the relatively safe vaccinia virus as a model. Quoting,

The animal data show that artificial respirable aerosols were effective means of producing poxvirus infections, that the infectious dose by the airborne route could be very low, and that animal-to-animal airborne transmission of rabbitpox and variola was observed. They also suggest that inoculation of mucus membranes was less effective at producing a generalized rash than was exposure of the lower respiratory tract.

This is not a rigorous answer for smallpox in humans. It does raise a question. Other pox viruses transmit efficiently via aerosols. Transmission of monkeypox is currently thought to occur mainly through bodily contact, contaminated objects, and secondarily via large respiratory droplets. Could airborne transmission of monkeypox become more efficient, sustaining or enlarging an epidemic?

This has not been decided in all detail for smallpox. CDC favors transmission via large droplets while other sources implicate fine aerosols; see What was the primary mode of smallpox transmission?

See Figure 1. Smallpox case presentations suggest that by efficient airborne transmission, monkeypox could manifest as a more severe disease, with a big step towards smallpox virulence.

To be continued shortly. Several mechanisms will be discussed.

 

 

Zawahiri Killed in Drone Strike

(CNN) How Joe Biden and his team decided to kill the world’s most wanted terrorist.

I am of two minds about this. It is an impressive achievement of technology and intelligence. I probably would have pressed the button myself. Yet there is an argument of some force that it would have been more effective counter-terror to let him live:

  • Zawahiri was in ill health and immobile.
  • Ill health deprives one of ingenuity.
  • Immobility facilitates contact tracing and bugging.
  • He was an unpopular, uncharismatic leader, a factor in Al Qaeda’s relative inactivity.
  • He will be replaced; the role is now looking for an actor.
  • The replacement may have none of Zawahiri’s impediments.

See Baghdadi Dead; the Role Looking for an Actor.

 

(CNN) ‘Something has changed’: Stelter on Trump and Fox relationship

(CNN) ‘Something has changed’: Stelter on Trump and Fox relationship. Quoting,

CNN’s Brian Stelter asks his panelists about the shifting relationship between former President Donald Trump and Fox after the cable news organization decided not to cover one of his recent speeches.

The panelists did not entertain the ultimate possibility, that Fox would turn against Trump. Yet that is the implication of the WSJ and NY Post editorials. That Fox has not immediately followed their lead is not an expression of ultimate intent.  For Murdoch, a shift to another Republican candidate would be minor indeed, compared to the contrast of apparent communist sympathies at Oxford with his later life. Quoting Wikipedia,

Murdoch studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Worcester College, Oxford in England, where he kept a bust of Lenin in his rooms and came to be known as “Red Rupert”. He was a member of the Oxford University Labour Party,[21]: 34 [26] stood for Secretary of the Labour Club[27]

The process that will lead to this result is much more complex than print editorials, which often turn on a dime. Unlike the rational on-camera personalities of CNN, Tucker Carlson is a bionic implant in his viewers’ heads. Sanjay Gupta will doubtless attest that sudden reprogramming of the implant could result in a psychotic break. It must be done by degrees.

In place of the declarative freedom of the editorial, this is to be accomplished by putting Carlson in “learning situations”, where he interacts with the chosen replacement,  appears to learn from him, and assesses his personal characteristics. Such is the relationship with his viewers that many will experience the transition, not as Carlson’s, but theirs, as a vicarious experience like seeing a really good movie.

An as yet to be determined fraction of Fox viewers will say to hell with this. Yet even if bionic reprogramming fails for them, it may cool their passions, which in some cases verge on sedition.

Murdoch is 91. He wants to live forever, and takes megavitamins with young brides. With the nagging concern that forever might not be in the cards, he may want to do us a good turn.

Let’s hope so.

 

 

 

 

CNN Exclusive: FBI investigation determined Chinese-made Huawei equipment could disrupt US nuclear arsenal communications

CNN Exclusive: FBI investigation determined Chinese-made Huawei equipment could disrupt US nuclear arsenal communications.

You probably know that your cellphone communicates with the cell tower with radio waves. But how does the tower connect to the Internet backbone, by which your voice or message is sent to another user? This is called backhaul. In urban or suburban areas, fiber optic cable is usual, your voice riding a beam of light. In sparsely populated areas, where missile silos are located, microwaves are used, similar in principle to the frequencies of your phone, but much higher, so that one backhaul link can carry thousands of conversations.

The U.S. military has 5 MILSTAR satellites, orbiting 22,500 miles above the earth, part of MEECN. They are ancient, as satellites go; the U.S. has newer satellites with much higher performance. But MILSTAR was not built to be a speed demon. It has the virtues of reliability and survivability. It has one purpose, to ensure communication with the nuclear deterrent.

The MILSTARs communicate with the deterrent via a (Gunter’s Space Page) 20 GHZ downlink and a  44 GHZ uplink.  The downlink frequencies are bracketed by popular cell tower backhaul frequencies. See the chart at (Cerago) Wireless Backhaul Spectrum- Everything You Need To Know in 2022.

It is no surprise that Huwaei equipment can, with firmware modification, intercept and transmit on MILSTAR frequencies. The technological advances that make this possible, which are available to all equipment manufactures are:

  • High performance microwave semiconductors.
  • Flash A/D converters enabling software radio.
  • Frequency agile, synthesized transmitters.

Since the above has become universal, it comes down to:

Who do you trust?

See also (Reuters) To counter Huawei threat, U.S. should consider taking ‘controlling stake’ in Ericsson, Nokia -attorney general.

Medical Arguments with CIA Bill Burns (Putin) & CNN (NY Polio)

(CNN) The CIA chief says Putin is ‘entirely too healthy.’ What do we really know about his condition? Quoting,

CIA Director Bill Burns gave an unusually candid assessment this week, when he told attendees at the Aspen Institute’s annual security confab that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “entirely too healthy.”

Bill, he’s sick. The main question in my mind is whether he has two distinct diseases, Parkinsons and cancer, or a cancer that produces motor signs due to “mass effect”, the compression of functional nerve tissue by a growing tumor mass. See also Is Putin Seriously Ill?

***

(CNN) New York adult diagnosed with polio, first US case in nearly a decade. Quoting,

There is no cure for polio. Treatment to address symptoms may include medication to relax muscles and heat and physical therapy to stimulate muscles. However, any paralysis caused by polio is permanent.

This is FALSE. See (Mayo Clinic) Polio. Quoting,

Paralytic polio can lead to temporary or permanent muscle paralysis, disability, bone deformities and death.

See (ECDC) Disease factsheet about poliomyelitis. Quoting,

The paralysis can progress for up to one week. Permanent weakness is observed in two-thirds of patients with paralytic poliomyelitis. After 30 days, most of the reversible damage will have disappeared, and some return of function can still be expected for up to nine months.

The author apparently misunderstood the absence of treatments to reverse paralysis to mean “there is no reversal of paralysis”, which can spontaneously occur.

(CNN) Generals Wesley Clark vs. Mark Hertling; Are Weapon Stockpiles Sufficient?

(CNN) Generals Wesley Clark vs. Mark Hertling.

I share sympathies of both. If you’re not in the room, it is impossible to know whether appearances are the result of intelligent strategy. It is impossible for those in the room to be certain that intelligent strategy is correct  strategy. In the fog of war, nothing is known with certainty in the time frame in which it is relevant.

I had a nagging sense that I was helping the Kremlin project fear when I wrote Ukraine, is a Holocaust in the Offing? and (CNN) ‘I’m smiling’: Ret. Lt. Gen. Hertling reacts to Putin news; Putin takes Command. Since the Kremlin reads this blog, I don’t intend to elucidate possible strategies.

Clark expresses concern that contracts have not been let for Eastern bloc 152mm shells. The tooling may no longer be usable. Manufacture of ammunition leaves little room for error. A misformed shell can blow up a barrel. Here we recast this concern for precision weapons.

This conflict is an approximation of a match-up not seen before:

  • Red, massive, backwards, low-tech army structured for high-intensity warfare, accepting huge casualties as valid cost of conflict.
  • Blue,  superbly trained, high tech, large but averse to casualties, structured for limited conflict.

Blue self-examination has disclosed vulnerabilities in high intensity conflict that remain valid in the light of the surprisingly primitive incompetence of Russian forces. This concerns the long lead times, and complex supply chains, of precision weapons, and their Red counter, expendable human life.

U.S. stockpiles of dumb munitions are huge, feasible because they can be stored for decades in uncontrolled climates, with minimal degradation.  Gravity bombs, combined with separately engineered and maintained bolt-on guidance units, are a “sweet spot” of precision munitions. In contrast, the precision weapons supplied to Ukraine are unitary designs, with a common limitation.  The practical size of a stockpile is limited,  by initial acquisition costs, and ongoing costs that are roughly proportional to numbers:

  • Limited shelf life from deterioration of electronics, sensors, actuators, propellants, and lubricants.
  • High costs of periodic maintenance required to mitigate the above.
  • Sudden obsolescence due to vulnerability exploit, e.g.., the vulnerability of the AIM-120 to jamming.

The notion of a weapon that dies on the shelf came into focus with nuclear devices, which are made of mutually incompatible materials that gradually destroy the integrity of the device. A substantial part of  defense expenditure over decades has been to maintain nuclear devices,  small in numbers compared to conventional munitions stockpiles.   All precision weapons have analogous modes of decay, with significant cost for stockpile numbers appropriate to high intensity conflict.

The Ukraine war is a fraction of the planners’ vision of  high intensity conflict.  With no endpoint in sight, it is nevertheless instructive on the subject of stockpile depletion.  Wesley Clark is concerned with possibly sluggish speed of arms transfers. This may in the future become a lack of availability of arms to transfer. This implies an immediate need for more hot production lines.

For high intensity conflict, hot production lines create supply chain dilemmas that cannot be resolved when domestic security cannot be assumed. Huge stockpiles are primary, deterred by perishability. Can this be mitigated?

This problem has degrees of freedom that become accessible if we slightly relax the usual criteria of optimal design, such as:

  • minimum weight, size
  • maximum yield, range
  • implied unitary structure

With some slack, we can design for maintainability. A stockpile then consists of a small proportion of ready-to-use devices, with the bulk in optimized storage:

  • Modular construction instead of unitary.
  • Bulk of stockpile stored in disassembled state.
  • Modules stored separately in conditions optimal for each: temperature, (inert) atmosphere…as required to exceed shelf life of the assembled weapon.
  • Reduced time for disassembly and reassembly  of ready stockpile.
  • Rapid assembly of modules as required to replenish ready stockpile.
  • Modular design may defeat some forms of obsolescence.

This applies to a hypothetical high intensity conflict. The unmet near term need is the response to possible Russian mobilization, best served by hot production lines, and additional contracts for long lead-time parts, such as sensors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reprint: Looking for a Job in Journalism

Teaser: Perhaps mystifying some that one person could write so broadly, the next article will detail novel means to  rescue Roe vs. Wade.

There seems to be an aura of mystery around Intel9. Is it:

  • A bunch of experts, who for reasons unknown, feel the need to write as a fictitious entity?
  • A back channel?
  • “Off the record” officials?
  • A political front?
  • Deep State?
  • The Illuminati?

None of the above.  It’s a job application. The broad knowledge, fine writing,  perfect grammar, and self-editing are all mine. For the impetus, see How it all started…”Forecasting World Events”. With my score of 9/4461 in the IARPA intelligence crowdsourcing program, I gave myself permisssion to start writing Intel9.  I write all of it. There are no assistants or outside help. The content is the result of personal research and thought.

Once you’ve decided to embark on web journalism, with a tiny, cheap hosting plan, how do you choose a voice, a take, an audience?

  • Mainstream journalism is so crowded, even massive resources do not guarantee success, as Reuters has discovered. Mainstream journalism is a non-starter.
  • If financial success is the only metric, and ethics of no concern, extreme politics in a histrionic voice, leveraged by questionable use of social media,  can acquire a national following. The Devil  owns  your soul.
  • The ethical choices are few.  The roads are hard. A unique approach is required, measuring success as other than numbers. My choice was and is to serve the elite, in as apolitical a way as possible. I have succeeded; members of government read, find it useful, and trust it as genuine and honest.

This voice hasn’t helped me with a job in mainstream journalism. The exigencies of a tiny web platform have forced a voice too different from the stylistic conventions, the who-what-when-where-why, and the mainstream audience target.

I can edit and write mainstream journalism. My skills can help others do their jobs with a little extra flare. As a conscious choice, I’ve been writing for the elite for 8+ years. I can make a conscious choice for you.

Sincerely,

Bob Morein

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Highland Park Shooting; I had a Bad Feeling the Night Before

(CNN) At least 6 killed in July 4th parade shooting in Illinois.

I had a bad feeling the night before. It wasn’t clairvoyance, insight, or prediction. In another time, it would be misplaced neuroticism. Now, strangely appropriate. A mind-virus, a meme, afflicts vulnerable young males, incubating in near silence like the rabies virus, fulminating to a state of calculated rage.

This is the dark side of human heredity; a capacity for violence in young men conveyed a survival advantage to the group. Civilized society requires suppression; it has surfaced as an infectious, murderous, self-perpetuating meme. Close contact is not required for transmission of the meme; any young user of social media can contract it.

With every incident, the meme becomes more contagious and more powerful. Like a pathogenic bacterium,  it develops a protective capsule that resists social healing and increases transmission.

There is no indication of a downtrend. It requires little skill, other than abandonment of wishful thinking, to predict this will get worse. If the U.S. possessed an electorate capable of a common will, measures might be taken to extirpate the meme. It requires the suppression of hate speech protected by the First Amendment.

Interstitial constitutional law requires that  First Amendment challenges are subject to strict scrutiny. Few have survived. Beauharnais v. Illinois is an exception, perhaps a starting point: Hateful speech offends the right to life. It is doubtful the current court would sympathize.

When there’s a will, there’s a way.  Sadly, the will is lacking.

 

 

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