3/28/2020

Peaceful life

Mackerel was boiled with soy sauce, sugar and sake. Green onions and ginger were added to it. We are trying to have sea grown but not artificially reared fish. The former is rich with omega 3 unsaturated fatty acid which is beneficial to avoid arteriosclerosis. Even though we should have been more conscious of this long before. Maybe, better than nothing. Pretty good taste. It is a kind of typical family dish in Japan. 



The dish below is salad featuring broccoli harvested in the garden farm. Some of them are already flowering. I have planted 3 of broccoli in the garden farm.

There is another japanese plum tree fully blooming at the eastern end of the property. In total, we have 3 of japanese plum trees. Two of them, including this one, have been planted by my father while the newest one by myself. Japanese plum requires partner tree to bear fruits in early summer. To enhance bearing fruits, a small one has been planted in between the other old two. The photo below is a close up view of the new one.



It has been a peaceful day. On the other hand, the news tells the number of infected people has increased abruptly after the Olympic games was postponed. The governor of Tokyo even warned that we might had been in the beginning of overshoot. I still suspect they have limited the tests in order to show less infected people than real. Politics is inclined to utilize such a crisis to get more power. Wondering if people could notice that or not. 

I should not take it granted to have such a peaceful day. Peaceful and tranquil life is being threatened by things going on. 

3/25/2020

Anti-inflammatory drugs for COVID19

It is well known anti-inflammatory drugs so called NSAID are not indicated for any viral infection, including COVID19. Ibuprofen, one of the common NSAIDs, is told to exacerbate pneumonia in COVID19. It is not proved medically yet but is quite probable such an anti-inflammatory drug as Ibuprofen delays recovery or even aggravate the course.

https://www.bmj.com/content/368/bmj.m1086

NSAID could cause Reye syndrome, fatal liver/brain dysfunction syndrome, when given to the case of Influenza, especially type B. It is not clinically possible to tell COVID19 from Influenza or other common cold due to viruses. Knowing of the possibility to cause Reye syndrome with NSAID, we should not give any anti-inflammatory drugs, even including acetoaminophene, to viral infections. Even though some doctors may prescribe the latter one, which has less adverse effects than the other NSAID.

In rare cases with COVID19 or the other viral infections, a very serious condition named cytokine storm could occur and lead to multiple organ failure. It is a generalized too aggressive immune response to the pathogen. In that case, anti-inflammatory drugs should be tried. But in such a case, the patient is always so serious that he/she should be under the management by doctors at hospital.

Anti-inflammatory drugs give us only symptomatic relief. They should not be used for viral infections including COVID19.

PS;After writing this post, I have noticed this article on this issue. The effect of NSAID on COVID19 is not scientifically elucidated yet. At least, it is not advisable to give this kind of medicine to the patient of COVID19 at present. This article also mentions that ACE blocker has not been proved to deteriorate the course of COVID19.

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/03/20/science.abb8034

3/22/2020

Prediction of the peaked outbreak

In Japan, PCR tests are limited only for those in close contact with an infected person as already reiterated in this blog. Only 5% of requests for tests are allowed to be tested. That is told the main reason why the number of infected people remains rather small compared with the other countries.

Researchers of Imperial College London has published prediction of the infected cases in UK and USA. It is a horrible forecast. Without considering the overwhelmed healthcare especially for severe respiratory failure, the peak of the outbreak comes from May to June. Eighty one % of the population is expected to be infected. The expected deaths are 2.2 millions in US and 0.51 millions in UK in total.  

https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/ide/gida-fellowships/Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2pHXimauFMaS0MiA2tGlial7ed8tfCxR7K3HzvU420nYAAxLpUHwajvbs

The non pharmaceutical interventions could reduce the death rate. They include case isolation, household quarantine, social distancing especially of elderly and closing schools/universities. Among them case isolation seems to work best.

Case isolation depends on the right diagnosis. We should depend it on PCR tests result however the test's sensitivity is not ideal and could yield false negatives/positives if it is done as a screening test. History taking and examination by doctors may enhance accuracy of the diagnosis.

There are a lot of people insisting that PCR test is of limited value to mitigate the outbreak. They forget the fact we need to make case isolation by any means. We may utilize such as LAMP method for gene detection or immunochromatographic method for antibodies. PCR should be improved as well. Despite of the test defect at present, we should diagnose infected cases and put them in isolation as soon as possible.

Needless to say we should get ready for respiratory care intensive facilities to do with the peaked outbreak or overshoots coming up soon. 

3/21/2020

Boiled chicken wings

Chicken wings boiled with soy sauce, sake and sugar. Cooked for an hour, the meat is soft and tasty. 


I would have cooked pork spareribs. But it was not sold at the supermarket I always go for shopping. Whether it was not very popular or the supermarket is not doing with common people like me.

This was pretty successful. Honestly, most of the dish is not the meat but the bone. Bone could be a source of stock. But not suitable for commoners' dinner.

I have purchased a bit more of foods than usual. I am afraid the viral infection could overshoot very soon and it could be difficult to go for shopping then. I have heard of the difficult situation in the West Coast from a few friends this morning. I hope the situation might be settled down soon. The professional committee of the government announces only that the infection is under control not telling any actual data. I am afraid they have very few epidemiological data if any. How could they announce that way without any definite epidemiological data? 


3/19/2020

Another candidate drug for COVID19

Researchers of Institute of Medical Science, Tokyo University, announced that they had found another promising candidate drug for SARS CoV2. It is Nafamostat Mesilate, a protease inhibitor, which has been used for treatment of pancreatitis. SARS CoV2 requires a serine protease to invade into the cell. Nafamostat Mesilate seems to inhibit that process working as a protease. A derivative of this substance has been given to COVID19 patients in Germany with certain success. But it should be given at large dose. Nafamostat Mesilate seems to work at rather smaller dose.

Among depressing news regarding this disease in pandemic inundating in the mass media, this is a news of hope. The researchers told they had not published on this drug as a paper yet but, considering its importance for COVID19 treatment, they decided to publish it as an announcement. I was impressed at their conscience and passion as researchers in medical science. All the knowledge and experience should serve for the patients who need help.

Let's hope this drug turns out to be effective for the cases of COVID19. 

3/18/2020

Favipiravir as a treatment choice for COVID19

A good news has been come out of a Chinese site as I already posted in Facebook.

Favipiravir turned out to be effective for SARS CoV2, the pathogen of the novel Corona virus infection, as they say. No notable side effects. They are including it to the treatment protocol.

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-03/17/c_138887971.htm

Favipiravir is a potent antiviral agent discovered by Toyama Chemical Co. in 2014, presently FUJIFILM Toyama Chemical Co. It inhibits RNA dependent RNA polymerase and is shown to be effective against wide range of RNA viruses. Working on the gene itself, it is expected to develop less chances of treatment resistance not like the most preceding anti Inluenza drugs. It has been deemed a key medicine for bird Influenza viruses, another example of RNA viruses. Since SARS CoV2 belongs to RNA virus group, they have started using it to COVID19 cases in China. A Chinese Pharmaceutical Co. seemed to have obtained the production license from FUJIFILM Toyama Chemical Co.

I would emphasize that early diagnosis, as the general rule in infectious disease treatment says, is mandatory to get a good result from this drug. It is surprising there are a number of "professionals" still insisting the RT PCR tests are of limited value so that they should not give it even to the suspicious cases. Of course, the government and MHLW are the source of such wrong opinion. They would pretend to have the number of infected cases much lower than real. In Japan, only 5% of the suspected cases could be tested for diagnosis. It is a non sense and even inhumane. It is irrational from the epidemiological stand point. Since this drug turns out to be a curative one, those test denial people have lost their standpoint. 

I hope this drug will be given to many patients in early stage. Hopefully, the other candidates for the treatment will bring good results in the very near future as well. 

3/17/2020

Test, test and test

Our government is intending to limit the number of the test for COVID19. I could not help feeling they will have the outbreak progress and have those elderly and with underlying illnesses pass away. They just hide and falsify the facts. It is a willful negligence by the authority.

They have got through a lot of scandals through that evil way. The outbreak is not a political matter itself but is a phenomenon of nature which could never be hidden or never be falsified. It is an urgent issue if the healthcare system could do with the explosive outbreak or would be collapsed with too many patients.

In our country, the rule of funeral has been changed and those corpus died from unknown cause of pneumonia should be cremated in 24 hours after death. They are regarded as infectious with COVID19. The authority may be conscious that certain number of people are dying from COVID19.

No, it is not my intention to induce panic among people. But we should understand what is going on with the outbreak and should calmly deal with it step by step. People should be informed right and accurate facts. It is the first step for us to manage the ongoing crisis.

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/16/who-says-some-nations-arent-running-enough-coronavirus-tests-test-every-suspected-case.html

3/16/2020

Further increase of the infected cases

Further increase of the infected cases with COVID19 in various countries.

It is more obvious that Japan still goes on increasing the cases in exponential manner while S. Korea is reaching plateau of the cases. S. Korea seems successful to control the infection.

This graph shows thorough testing as S. Korea has done is mandatory to control the infection. Our government is still failing without adequate number of the tests performed. It has made miserable failure not only in quarantine but also in controlling the infection. 


There have been so called "professionals" who approved and even actively supported the maneuver or, exactly, the willful negligence by the government. Both of them have committed crime. 

3/15/2020

What the transitive graph of the number of the infected cases tells us

This graph shows the increase of SARS CoV2 infected people in each western country. I have quoted the same kind of graph in a previous post. This shows problems in Japan in more clear-cut manner.


The caption on the curve of the infected cases in Japan timidly says the increase could be really slowed or the slow increase could be due to limiting the tests. In our country, the tests are done only in limited number of cases. The number in Japan is one tenth or even less of the numbers in the other countries. The proverb of "No tests, no patients" could be applied to our country. As told in the previous post, the government tries to pretend that infection control has been successful resulting in the less number of infected cases here. It is in order to hold the Olympic games this summer, which is already quite unlikely to happen. 

In this graph, I noticed the curve of Japan goes up straight, that is, in exponential way while the other countries of major outbreak like Iran or S. Korea reaches plateau or lessening of increase in 3 or 4 weeks. If maneuver of infection control is successful and/or the society reaches plateau of immunity against this virus, the curve should be like those of Iran or S. Korea. The data is still preliminary and could not let us conclude definitely. But it should be concerned that the curve of the infected cases in Japan is straightly increasing. It might mean the infection control measures are not sufficient in Japan.

Being an amateur in epidemiology and sociology, I may not be appropriate for commenting the consequences of this pandemic. But if I am allowed to comment a bit about it, I should say it could result in collapsed health care system and the economic regression.

Without making definite diagnosis to the suspected cases, they will be in close contact with their households and may visit health care facilities. Sure they will become epicenters of the cluster. And health care facilities suffer much, infection to the high risked inpatients and to the medical staff, from them. Being labor intensive industries, health care facilities could be easily collapsed with such a cluster epidemic. Like in Italy etc, the intensive care for respiratory failure should be overloaded easily. They say the intensive care beds for infectious diseases are almost fully occupied for now. The ventilators or ECMO for respiratory failure patients should be no vacancy very soon once the outbreak explodes.

It seems the government fears of the panic among people when they know what is really going on. I believe they are wrong. Knowing the disease in outbreak properly is the first step to do with the outbreak. Knowing that 80% of the cases are mild or even asymptomatic especially for young adult and children, they could stay home carefully observing themselves of possible progression to pneumonia. It will spare the reserve of the healthcare system. I am afraid the government is going the opposite way at present. 

Needless to say this outbreak would result in drastic regression of the economy. In Japan, the government has directly controlled the stock market through investment by the Bank of Japan and the annuity funds. The latter may result in reduction of the annuity which depresses the domestic demand. Increased number of the people may get even poorer. It will shrink the economy. The BOJ already got a few trillion JPY loss by the drop of ETF. It might have to print more money to balance the deficit. BOJ has enforced as much the low interest rate policy as possible. The banks, especially the local banks, are suffering much with it. Actually, some of them have have undergone business failure even if not bankruptcy for the outlook. Those banks have invested much for such high risk bonds as CLO. In the world economy in recession, such CLO or CoCo bonds would be collapsed. They say the extent of credit failure might be much worse than that in Lehman Bro. Holdings bankruptcy in 2008.

I have been much concerned about what is going on in Japan and the world as a  ex MD having worked in healthcare facilities as well as a retiree living with the annuity as well as small amount of investment to some world bonds. 

3/11/2020

Magnolia and camellia are coming out

Looking east from veranda, I found most of the magnolia flowers in the garden coming out. It has happened over a night. I knew the buds were bulging more day by day and thought it could bloom very soon. It was beyond my guess that they came out over a night yesterday. Sure surprising.

The view from veranda.


In my memory, it was early in April that this flower always had come out. It came out 3 or 4 weeks earlier than usual. It might have become earlier year by year without my acknowledging it. At least, it was early April 10 years ago.

Anyway, it is gorgeously beautiful. As I told it many times in the past, my mother used to love this flower and to tell me it came out when she noticed it in her latest years of life. The time we could enjoy it together has not lasted long.


A close up view. All the flowers seemed to have waited for arrival of spring. Having this flower come out in this way, spring always get full blown very soon. 


This camellia has started blooming for several days. Each flower gets matured at different pace. 


Magnified view. 

Finally hibernation is over with me. I will start planting various veggies very soon.






3/10/2020

A magic on the increase of infected cases

This graph shows the number of cases with SARS CoV2 infection in different countries. The vertical axis is the number of cases while the horizontal is the days after reports have been made.


I could not help grinning at this graph. Because it clearly shows some intention has worked in the curve of Japan to pretend the number of infected cases is increasing slower than reality. Since the basic reproduction number of this virus is estimated 2.2, the number of cases should have increased in exponential way. In the sensitive societies, the increase of cases should be in the same way wherever it may be. Comparing it with those of the other countries, it is quite obvious. Of course, it is our government that has done it. In the beginning of the outbreak, the government hesitated to show the real number for China and Olympic Games. They might be optimistic for the expansion of the outbreak. They have not hold any meeting with professionals at the governmental office until the beginning of February even though there have been some cases and cases of death reported by the end of January. Their apparently legal but ethically wrong policy seemed to lessen, or limit the number of the test for diagnosis at clinical sites even though much more was possible. They pretended such as RT PCR test has not been of use for "screening" of the infected cases due to its marginal sensitivity as well as to the small number of infected cases in the society. In some cases, the test has been performed even in postmortem.

As stated before, the test RT PCR has been of use for the person tested, for the society and as the basic epidemiological data to evaluate certain administrative measures taken to do with the epidemic. 

But they still keep the test capability much lower than needed. At present, it seems they would like people not to know the truth in order to avoid panic among them. They might think this falsification of the data helps to hide the probable collapse of medical care system which is thought to happen with explosive outbreak of COVID19. This collapse is just a nightmare which is going on Northern Italy now.
The medical staff could be infected and won't be able to go on working to give medical service.

What the government is doing right now is to legislate to declare emergency in the country. It would limit private rights. I wonder what this authoritarianistic government is intending to do. No wonder, they would try to hide the reality of total failure for what they have done in the past. A nightmare is going on here in addition to COVID19 outbreak.

What makes me feel sad is that 40% or even more people in this country is still supportive to the government as for the measure they take for this outbreak. Wondering whether they are cast a spell, are indifferent to their own situation or have become dumb in the past years. The PM Abe is compared to a magician who finally fails his plot with this outbreak by NYT, though.

3/08/2020

Farce of onion

Since my wife has purchased a lot of onions at one time, I have tried to cook farce with them. The name, farce, was not familiar to me until cooking this. But it is only onion stuffed with minched meat seasoned with bouillon.


So it will be a few days continued we take this dish for dinner.

3/06/2020

Red ume and the outbreak of COVID19

Red ume or red plum is coming out in the garden.



The same kind photos have been uploaded here before. Yes, it happens at this time every year. I guess I have mentioned that my parents must had enjoyed watching these flowers in front of their house when they were alive. Things wag on in the same way every year. I often wonder who will enjoy these flowers when I quit this world. Who knows? 

I have started plowing the ground at a corner of the yard. I will plant potatoes  and tomatoes there later. The same gardening and farming still goes on as last year. I don't know how long I could do that. Being on the ground is a pleasure for me. I don't know why but feel I am a part of the flow of lives whenever standing on the ground. The soil is where lives were grown and where we are coming back when we leave the world. 


With the failure of the government to control the outbreak of COVID19, it seems to prevail all over in our country. The situation is worst in the big cities like Tokyo where crowds of people are in closed spaces like the commuter trains with the passengers packed like sardine. I have planned a practice of piano trio with the niece who plays piano and a violinist friend in Tokyo in the end of this month. But it was postponed after April. My nice, a nurse in chief at the National Cancer Center in Tokyo, said the hospital is messed up with a number of COVID19 suspected patients.   

So I would spend days at home playing cello and doing house chores in peaceful mind. COVID19 is not an illness which healthy adults won't need to be scared at. But it could be harmful to aged people or to those with underlying illnesses. Hopefully, every friend of mine won't get infected with it or won't get serious if infected. Keep away from crowds of people from whom you may get infected. 

3/03/2020

N95 mask

N95 mask is to protect the wearer from inspiring small droplet containing pathogen or airborne one. The ordinary surgical masks are not able to do that. Even though this protection effect is sometimes questioned, this mask still remains one of the main stays for medical staff dealing with outbreak of viral infections.

My wife told me there were several dozens of the mask with her. I remembered in the outbreak of SARS in 2003, I had purchased a lot of the masks and had given some of them to her to use at her practice. Fortunately, she and the staff had no chance to use it and kept them in storage.

SARS was more virulent than COVID outbreaking now. About twenty % of the victims were thought to be medical staff. The authority has announced the people to consult to the local medical facilities when they had any complaints reminding them of SARS. It was a terrible announcement since we were not equipped against SARS at all. Purchasing boxes of those N95 masks was one of the coping strategies for a small medical facility like mine those days. This mask has reminded me of the situation driving us into a corner those days.


Fortunately, this SARS COV2 is not so virulent  for healthy adults as SARS virus those days as I said above, even though the case mortality rate is up to 20% for elderly people. But in case a few medical staff are infected with it and have to leave their office for a couple of weeks, small medical facilities may have much difficulty to carry it on. Actually, I don't think this kind of mask is very potent to prevent from infection. It might be, however, of some help, if any, to the staff working at such facilities. I would look for anyone who needs it for medical service and donate them to such a facility. 

Recent discussion at the Upper House in our country, MHLW has disclosed they had not investigated mortal cases with pneumonia at elderly care facilities since the outbreak of COVID occurred. Those cases may include death due to COVID. Our government seems to be negative to investigate and publish the basic data of this disease in outbreak. We must have another newly emerging infection in the future. To get ready for such an infection, basic epidemiological data should be highly required. Our government is quite unwilling to record what is going on now. It is not an attitude of the government of a civilized country.

Early diagnosis is mandatory for treatment of COVID

This review of diagnostics, therapeutics of new Corona Viruses' diseases in J. Clin. Med. is interesting.

I am dazzled to see how many researchers have been involved in this field of investigation. Presently ongoing epidemic of COVID may be settled down with their relentless efforts sooner or later. Combination of antivirals seems to be promising. And I am more convinced early diagnosis is necessary to control these emerging infections as the general rule of any infection tells.

It is also clear that early detection of virus genome is essential for the appropriate treatment. Serum antibody tests are not of use in that standpoint.
Our government has intended to make the number of infected people regarded less than real in the first step of administration against this COVID. Actually, as I posted in the other article in this blog, they have controlled and limited the availability of the only diagnostic test. Even though it has been not so sensitive and has limitations as a diagnostic tool, it is the only test available for early diagnosis at present. The authority has not let the test done for clinical demand. They seem to have been concerned only with the Olympic Games being planned in this summer. If our country goes on being contaminated with this virus for another few months, it might become impossible to hold it this summer. It would deprive them of much profit from the event. Some researchers and even doctors have falsely insisted that RT PCR test is of no use. However, early diagnosis as well as further investigation for more efficient diagnostic tests is mandatory to give chance for early intervention and/or treatment to the patients.

2/28/2020

Chaos due to COVID 19 epidemic

Since the government has decided to close down schools, from elementary to high, all over in the country, for a month, there is much confusion going on at various places and people. It will be starting in a couple of days.

For example, the parents should care for their young children while schools are off. Now both of the parents are always working and won't be able to take a long holidays to care for them. The staff at the schools are also embarrassed with this decision. It is the end of schools' year now. There are a lot of events planned there in this season. It might be quite tough for the teachers to deal with them at closed schools. It seems the Prime Minister would do something grandstanding against his reputation that he has not done anything meaningful for this epidemic by himself. Even though the Ministry of Education frowned on the PM's decision early in the morning yesterday, the official residence of the PM bulled it through and announced the decision without approval by the Ministry of Education or of the other offices related with this policy, or exactly, an impromptu idea.

There seem to be no much consideration on the effects and side effects of this policy by the PM or his office. The government has tried to hide the reality of epidemic without testing for the pathogen with RT PCR tests, which have been highly needed by the workers of medical facilities. The government has seemingly limited the number of the tests all over. It seemed to have intended to falsely show the number of the cases lower than real without letting RT PCR tests done as needed. Without knowledge of the size and localization of the epidemic, it must be difficult for anyone to evaluate how effective such a policy would be when the course of this epidemic will be investigated in the future.

The government says they will let the private laboratories to do the test and the capacity of the test will be increased much. It is not yet determined who would care for the suspicious cases and execute the test for them. The primary care facilities are not ready to do that. Economic and man power support will be necessary if they ask the primary care facilities to do that. If the primary care personnel is infected with this virus, they could not carry on their medical service. It means the medical service will be collapsed then.

2/25/2020

Hiding the reality is not solving the problem

Bob W6CYX let me know of development of anti SARS-COV 2 vaccine in the US. Surprisingly quick!

https://www.wsj.com/articles/drugmaker-moderna-delivers-first-coronavirus-vaccine-for-human-testing-11582579099

Regarding the situation of this COVID-19 in our country;

We are at the last minute which determines if we could control the outbreak or not. There are a lot of cases which could not be traced as for the infection route. But our government is quite unwilling to provide even the RT PCR test for the diagnosis to the clinical facilities. Only 3000 plus cases a day could be tested at present even though they estimate almost 100,000 cases possible if the private sector of this laboratory medicine is allowed to be involved in it.

It seems the government wanted the world to deem our country as a less infected area. It was to hold the Olympic games in the summer and to do for China which told our government to minimize the apparent outlook of the outbreak. Their logic is no test, no patient. What a ridicule!

If the outbreak occurs nation wide, which is quite possible, the number of the patients will reach almost 30% of the population at maximum. If it is estimated lower, for example, at 10%, there could be 2 million "severe" cases. Of course, it won't happen at the same time, it could be a devastating burden to the medical system in Japan. The total number of the beds, including beds for the recovery or chronic phase patients, is only 1.25 million. As it is occurring in China, the medical staff could be infected with this virus, which results in reduction of man power in the medical system.

Hiding the reality of outbreak, what is our government is going to do? It won't be of use to solve the problem but is sure to aggravate the situation. It may trigger panic among the people.

Let's hope the vaccine above mentioned or clinical trial of various meds will turn to be successful in the very near future.

2/23/2020

Hamburg steak with broccoli and carrot glace

One of my favorite stunt, hamburg steak. Boiled broccoli, home grown, and carrot glace were featured.


It might be a common sense but I found adding small amount of soy sauce and brown sauce together with trace of salt would make it taste rich. 

It is always good t harvest such as broccoli in the garden farm, which has survived this severe winter.

I should get ready to plant new vegetables very soon.


2/22/2020

Early spring

It's getting warmer now. They say it's record high temperature in this season. At my age, this early arrival of spring is welcomed. Waking up in the morning, I feel I could behave freely without that freezing atmosphere. But I am still afraid this could be a sign of global warming. We should keep eyes wide open for that climate change which could be a real burden to the next generation.

I am less active on the air. There are too few who enjoy real ragchewing any longer. It is not so rare that I bitterly switch off the radio after calling CQ in vain for some time. There are only few who understand what joy it is to communicate on CW. The pleasure of CW communication is hardly delivered to the next generation. It is regarded as replaceable with digital mode. These two modes are essentially different and not comparable each other. We should have witnessed of the pleasure of CW communication. Now it is almost impossible to do that. It must be how the history of CW communication is going on. No complaints. I am rather grateful to have spent the best days of that communication method from '60s to now. 

Japanese apricots are fully out at present.



Daffodils and later magnolia may follow them. It won't be too long before the spring is fully blown here.

Looking forward that arrival, I would prepare for gardening and farming in the garden.


The trend of populism in politics

I know it's of no use to submit something political in such a blog as this one mostly doing with hobbies. But the present situation in politics, mainly of the Prime Minister Abe's behavior, is too terrible.

He controls all the three powers of the nation by himself even though he is only the head of the administration as well known. It has been done through abuse of his power over personnel affairs. To establish rule by his own power, he is going to assign a person who obeys anything for him to the position of the attorney general. In Abe's administration, a lot of politicians, mainly of the ruling party, have committed political crimes like giving illegal treatments to the electorates or receiving bribery from various companies etc. Most of them have not been accused since the prosecutor's office is on the side of the administration. When the great yes-man to the Prime Minister takes the position of the attorney general, P.M.'s ruling would be completed.

In the other countries, we could see the same kind of politicians as our P.M. are ruling their countries. They are invariably products of political populism. Their policy is closely related with ultra right extremism with hatred toward minorities or misogyny. They bring discrimination in the society, either domestic or international. They seem to energize themselves with such negative enthusiasm of supporters.

How could such a politician get power in politics? Why would the voters support such a politician? It should be investigated from various aspects of society and/or politics. It seems like a trend in the history and may take sometime to understand what is going on right now. At least, what I could say on this issue at present is that negative or destructive energy comes from deteriorated emotion and intellectuality of people. Such populists are only reflecting such change in the society even if not mentioning of the ill effects of the mass media and the internet on stereotypical idea formation of populism.

I am much concerned about this problem. It may be involved with the life of the next generation.

2/14/2020

COVID-19 epidemic seems to start here

Here are a few patients of COVID-19 infection who have been infected without any prior contacts with the patients in Japan now. One of them is a medical doctor in Wakayama Prefecture. The tertiary infection has been started.

As for this epidemic or even pandemic, I am not very pessimistic for the outcome right now. Even more virulent SARS than this virus infection could be stabilized in several months. Hopefully, it could be controlled very soon.

But the government won't take this impending crisis very seriously. Their strategy in urgency for this pandemic is stressed on, at first, pretending to have smaller number of patients in our country and then alleviation of the impact on the economy. It is not the time for them to do with economy yet. I believe the impact firstly would be loaded on the local medical care system.

The local medical facilities are not equipped with the proper diagnostic tests nor proper staff. The government has determined to force the patients to be hospitalized at the peculiar facilities assigned for infectious diseases. Surprisingly, the number of beds for infectious diseases is only 113 nationwide. It is as plain as daylight that those beds will be full when the pandemic goes on. To treat respiratory failure due to pneumonia, they should be equipped with respirators or NPPV, which is less plausible.

The diagnostic test kit will be, as the news says, available by the end of March. It is still RT PCR method, which turns out to be only 40% of sensitivity at present while pretty accurate in specificity. This means the current estimates for the infectivity is lower and the fatality or severe case rate is higher. Together with the long incubation period, this means the prevalence is subtly going on in the society. The presence of tertiary infection cases could not be explained without this subtle prevalence. The border quarantine is impossible at present. The diagnostic kit with improved sensitivity should be provided at the local medical facilities as soon as possible.

The local medical system could be collapsed if most of the personnel is infected or even goes on ominous course of the disease. It means the other patients than this COVID-19 infection cases would suffer much from the process. The local medical system is fragile to such a crisis. The government should support it by finance or the other ways.

In some time, this virus should prevail all around. We should stay home if we have only common cold like symptoms. It would lessen the burden on the local medical system.

Our government is very eager to get more armaments from overseas or to attract investment for casino. But unwilling are they to provide proper measures against such pandemic going on now or the natural disasters we had in the recent years.

2/10/2020

Schoenberg String Quartet Nr 2

The modern classical music is the genre I have respected but still kept away. Recently, I listened to the 2nd string quartet by Schoenberg and felt I understood why he had had to go into atonality from his earlier work of late romanticism in the expression of extravagant emotion.

It is composed of classical four movements, the first two in tonality while the last two in atonality. It is also a remarkable and unique point that, in the last two movements, he has employed soprano solo to sing the poem by Stefan George.

He has stepped into atonal dodecaphony with this string quartet. It is a real epoch making piece in the history of modern music. This technique of composition has exerted much influence on the composers in 20th century and there after.

It is he has married to a sister of Zemlinsky named Matilda. Zemlinsky was a composition teacher whom he had lesson on counterpoint for several months. It is amazing it was the only professional training for composition he had had in his life. What a genius!

Matilda has had an affair with a young painter and left for him for a while. Nothing is easy to imagine what shock Schoenberg has had at this event. In the beginning of this quartet we could hear a motif of his moaning with sorrow possibly reflecting his experience with Matilda. This motif is repeated a few times until it lastly appear in the beginning of the 3rd movement titled Litanei. The poem soprano sings in that movement is to ardently ask for personal relief from sadness in life. Emotion of grief in his mind might require a new music genre which should overcome the limit of late romanticism. That is what I felt and interpreted this work. Following his life in this way, I guess it is possible for us to understand the reason why Schoenberg has stepped into this new genre of expression.

Either this explanation is right or not, this piece is a really historical work by a genius. I must confess it is not easy for me to be indulged myself in this genre of atonality. This piece makes me, however, feel closer to it.


This performance by Juliard String Quartet is almost aggressive. A great performance in fact. Some people wonder why they have not re-recorded this piece after this one. I bet they thought they had done the best in this performance and had no room to record it again.  

2/09/2020

On novel Corona Virus epidemic

So far as I have understood on the novel Corona Virus (nCoV) infection epidemic, it seems to be characterized as below;

1)There are sizable number of asymptomatic carriers and mild cases not differentiated from simple common cold.

2)It could be contagious during the incubation period.

3)Different from the epidemic in China, there seems less worsening rate in the other countries. Hopefully, this might be due to natural selection of the more virulent strain and/or spontaneous mutation in the process of epidemic.

These characteristics are different from SARS which caused epidemic in 2003. There were more than 800 fatal cases. The medical staff was the target of this highly virulent virus. I still remember I should do with it at own small private practice without any equipment necessary to prevent infection those days. It was a real frustration. So far, the clinical features of this nCoV seem different from SARS or even MERS.

We might be able to infer that the border strategy at quarantine is not of much use to prevent epidemic. Actually, the passengers of a big cruiser where some of them  turned to be infected have been confined to the ship for days. I believe the closed narrow space of the ship is apt to cause further prevalence of the pathogen even if they are separated there.

I believe the authority should provide simple diagnosing kit for this pathogen, in stead of RT PCR used for diagnostic test, not suitable for mass screening, at present. And there should be certain number of facilities in each area/district which could hospitalize and treat severe cases.

Most of all, we should never be panic with this issue.

I was surprised to know the budget for the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Japan has been reduced to 2/3, that is, only 40 billion JPY per a year, for the past 10 years. I am afraid the health issue of the people is only of secondary importance in our country. They pay 4 times of this budget for a stealth air fighter imported from the US.

PS:This evening, BBC has reported that a Chinese researcher indicated a possibility of airborne infection with nCoV. If it is right, together with infectivity during incubation period, ordinary quarantine methods turn meaningless. Observing the wide spread infection among the passengers on the cruiser, this should be quite possible, I am afraid.

2/08/2020

Stone warehouse

Stone warehouse used to be a symbol for wealthy farmer here. It is told to have been built after the war between the faction to overthrow Shogunate and the Shogun in the end of Edo era back in the 19th century. Wealthy farmers or merchants wanted to avoid things not burnt from fire. 

Yesterday, again on the way of walk, I have found a couple of such warehouse made with Ohyaishi, the stone produced in Ohya area in this prefecture. 


This is one of them at a house of a friend of mine. Some Ohya stones were crumbled down on the ground. Possibly due to the big earthquake in 2011. I have visited him and his family once in a while since my parents and aunt had been good friends to the grandparents of the family years ago. A wonderful family who have lived in the belief of Christianity. I have never noticed of this warehouse in the past. We could find something new when walking around.

They have lived on with dairy since their grandparents generation. However, the price of milk getting so cheap, the young couple has given it up some years ago. Most japanese farmers own much smaller business than those in the western countries and are confronting much difficulty to compete with products imported from those countries. Our government has "sold" our farming business including dairy to the US and to the TPP participants. I am sure these farmers should give it up sooner or later. The food self-sufficiency rate in caloric base is only 37% in Japan. It seems our government won't care for the food security at all. When a world wide famine occurs, we will be short of food for sure.  


Another stone warehouse at a neighbor of my friend's home. Pretty well managed one. 

In cold and crisp air, it was fun to walk around for an hour. The Nikko Mountains were seen in the northwestern direction. Some mountains are covered with snow.


In the riverbed golf course, some people were playing golf. The lawn was not lively yet. There was a big tree in the course.


Fast walking for an hour has exhausted me a little bit. It was good for me to sweat a bit outdoor, though.

1/30/2020

Essential fatty acid issue

Recently, some kinds of essential fatty acids are often getting into the news, whether in academism or in mass media. Excessive intake of omega 6 variety is thought to cause chronic inflammation and arteriosclerosis while omega 3 counteracts it. In nutritional science, the ratio of omega 6 to 3 is always questioned. Modern menus of meal is apt to get it higher than ideal value.

Generally speaking, omega 6 is abundant in beef, especially, those fed with artificial feed made from corn etc while omega 3 is dominant in beef grass fed. The same findings apply to fish. Artificially grown fish is told to contain more omega 6.

I am sorry to say that American or Aussie beef contains much estrogen as growth promoter in addition to this fatty acid issue.

Since I knew of this info on nutrition, I have been trying to avoid omega 6 abundant items and to augment taking omega 3 rich foods. Another aspect of my personality says it won't matter with us at our age for now. But it is not meaningless to be aware of those food items promoting aging and aging related illnesses.

Here is such a menu. Cod fish as meuniere. This cod is naturally grown one.


It is a headache how to avoid imported beef in the menu. Japanese beef is too expensive. I wonder if chicken imported from Thailand is OK for this issue. Worry is not exhausted.

1/23/2020

Ume flowers coming out

Unintentionally looking up a ume tree in the garden, I found a few floweres had come out. So early in this winter.


This tree is located at the most advantageous place for plants in the garden, where they get sunshine all day long. The other ume trees are not blooming yet.

It was the coldest day according to our traditional calendar a couple of days ago. It rarely goes over 10 degrees C in the daytime. But it won't go below -5 degrees early in the morning, that has been the usual temperature in this area at that time. It often went down to -10 degrees C at that time in the past.

I am afraid it could be a phenomenon of the global warming. When I mention of this global issue in such as Facebook, a lot of people argue against me. If we investigate the transition of the average temperature or of the CO2 concentration in the air etc, we easily reach the conclusion that the global warming is an imminent issue in the world.

Finding these flowers coming out, I could not help feeling complicated. A pleasure to have earliest sign of spring arrival while it could be a sign of the global warming.


1/22/2020

Bjorn Andresen

Bjorn Andresen, a film star, made world debut with the famous movie, Death in Venice, in 1971. It was a story of an old artist fascinated by a beautiful boy Bjorn played in the movie. The artist was destined to die. The music featured the Adagietto from the 5th symphony by Mahler was pretty impressive.


I was not very concerned about this movie at the time it was started to run in theaters. It was when I started study at a med school and was occupied with music in the orchestra starting career as a cellist.

However, this boy played by Bjorn Andresen was unforgettable for his beauty for sure even if we were not interested in the story itself. He was the aestheticism of this story himself.

The clip quoted above shows how Bjorn Andresen has lived until now. He was originally a music student. While he was in the film business for several years, he did not like to be remembered as the role in this film. He seems to have quit that business and now is living as a piano teacher with his family. In the clip, when he was asked by the director at the interview of recruitment of players to take off the sweater, he didn't do that while smiling at him. It might mean he has already owned himself and won't do what he would not. That may be why he has quit this apparently showy business but started his own way in music.

I believe Mahler has pursued relief from death throughout his life. It is well understood by his biography by Bruno Walter or his desire to avoid composing the 10th symphony, which has been the last number of symphonies by the other precedent composers in their lives. With the beauty in his music, he seemed to try to get away from the anxiety of death. The theme of the movie, Death in Venice, seems to be a product to compensate absurdity of death with beautiful being. Has it been successful?

Bjorn Andresen, such a beauty in his youth, got old and lost his beauty. Such beauty even in the virtual world of novel or film won't last eternally. Everyone gets old and is not immortal. His way of life seems to tell us that. I was a bit relieved to know of this fact.

The clip says Bjorn owes much to Chopin. Beauty in abstract music. He says he has been making dialogue with Chopin. In the first scene of the clip, there is his saying as follows;

"The rare moment of happiness that I have known, I owe them to the piano. I still have long conversations with Chopin.

Paris, 2005. Interview."

1/21/2020

Another tiny shrine in the farms

I have left this blog for a while. Things are going on uneventfully here. We are getting into the mid winder season for now. Sun is getting a bit brighter and shining for longer time for now, though.

I am taking a walk every several days. I know I should do that oftener. This chilly weather tends to keep me indoor. It is not very good for physical as well as mental health, as you know. I am trying to walk a bit more.

I found another walk path south of here, where they had not developed much. A lot of farms and forests there. It is a scenery in this area a few decades ago.

On the way of walking, there is a bush and trees along the road. I guess it is an abandoned property. It is impossible for me to go into there and to know what there has been. I still suspect it was a place some family had lived for a long time and the people had gone somewhere or had died. Not sure. But it is definitely a certain prospect there will be more houses and properties abandoned in the very near future. Unfortunately, demographics tells that and there is no measures taken by the government.


This is the road I walk. Surrounded by farms and forests. A few houses ahead and on the right side on this photo. It is too narrow for a car or even a person to go through. You may see a small forest on the left side on this photo. Whenever walking through beside it, I always wondered what it was. Maybe, a small shrine?


I have guessed right. There was a small shrine building among the cedar trees. A lot of weeds and bushes. It seemed this tiny shrine had not been well cared for.


A small signboard told this shrine was derived from the ruler in this area in the 12th century. The person named Nakamura, the same as the present place name, who had contributed much to the Samurai Yoritomo Minamoto in the conquer war in Tohoku area was assigned to the regional lord in Sendai in Tohoku area. In the memory of this event, Nakamura has ordered to build this shrine.


Of course, this shrine building is too new for that explanation. Even if it was a fact the regional ruler ordered to build one or a series of shrines, this must not be such shrine itself. But those having built this building in the later years would authorize it from such a historical event.

In that tiny building, cleaned up tidy, there was a small altar. A sake bottle and a cup were offered before that. It may mean this shrine was not totally forgotten.


On the way back home, I found a pretty big hill covered with cedar trees. I guess it is a kind of ancient tomb. I didn't dare to adventure to look up there since there was no path to the structure if it was really something ancient. Maybe, when I put on a shoes I could go through this muddy farm.

Previously, I have uploaded an article in this blog regarding a pretty big shrine in this area. It was also told it came from the era of Nakamura in the 12th century. There must be the other ones in this area. I could not help feeling amazed at the ancient people who worshiped and maintained those shrines. I believe they were kind of anchorage for them. Even though the present Shinto shrines should be discarded because of the recent history they have lead this country to the cruel war, I believe these unfamous shrines should be delivered to the next generation as an important cultural heritage.

1/01/2020

What Ghosn case tells us

It was a real surprising news Carlos Ghosn had escaped to Lebanon at the very last moment of the last year in this way.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-47113189

Some people say he should get trial even if he had complaints about that. He was living in our country under our justice system, as they say.

I doubt it from a few reasons.

One is that what he has been accused is a kind of matter within a corporate. It should have been questioned at the board of directors or, at least, at a meeting of shareholders. It smelled like an internal struggle in Nissan Co. Ghosn has received much more salary than the other corporate tops ever in Japan. They say the prosecutors have focused on that from our traditional common sense among people. But the economic disparity is another issue which should be discussed apart from filing case to the court.

The other point is the hostage justice in our justice system exactly described in this paper mentioned above. Prosecutors carry on detention of a criminal suspect until he/she confesses about it. This has caused a lot of false charge by prosecution in the past. From the standpoint of basic human rights, this system should be abandoned.

Lastly, most important at present, the prosecutor office acts in accordance with the administration, either as an direct order or in account of the will of the administration. Our present Abe administration has controlled them with the personnel affairs managed by the cabinet. Those suspects whom the administration takes as rebellious or hostile to them could be detained for weeks or even months while those close to the prime minister or the administration could be spared for being arrested or being accused. Nomocracy is being in peril of forfeit in Japan.

Apart from this Ghosn case, the prosecution system should be reformed as soon as possible.