Thursday, 27 October 2011

Bio-terrorism and the cure for the common cold

Sooner or later someone will use a bioterrorism technique to release a pandemic which actually helps people! It could be that the common cold is it's first target.

How to catch a cold

Everyone knows how easy it is to catch a cold but there are some things about the process that aren't common knowledge. Let's try an experiment. While you read this don't touch your eyes!

Imagine someone with a cold gets in a lift. They sneeze and a fine mist of spray spreads everywhere. It quickly settled though. They get to their floor and exit the lift. You call the lift from two floors down and the first thing you do when you get in is to press the button to select your floor. A button covered by a fine spray of cold virus.

So now you have the cold virus on your finger. Not a big problem, it's unlikely to get through the skin on your finger. Of course you could infect yourself with a cold by now eating something.

Touched or want to touch your eyes yet?

As you've probably found out by now, we touch our eyes all the time and as soon as you do, that  virus finds a warm, moist very thin membrane and promptly infects you. Ever noticed how a cold can make your eyes sore?

Deliberately spreading contagion

Now imagine a terrorist intent on using biological warfare. A good way to spread contagion would be to spread their substance on anything which people frequently touch. Lift buttons, push plates on doors, door handles, shopping cart handles, magazines in a shop,  newspapers and books in a library. Money! Forget the idea of sending letters. There are a huge number of ways of spreading any virus using things we touch.

Why there's no cure or vaccine

Now imagine a genetic researcher who has made a fantastic discovery. He/she has come up with a genetic fix which will forever stop people from catching the common cold.

Would you buy it assuming it's 100% safe and costs little? Of course you would!

So if this had been produced do you think you would get the opportunity? Frankly you would have as much chance as a celluloid cat being chased by an asbestos dog through the fires of Hell!

"Why?" I hear you ask. "If it was safe why wouldn't it be available?"

The answer is simple. The people who would be marketing this are the very people who make a fortune  every year by selling cold remedies. Are they ever going to willingly give up those billions of dollars of regular income?

That's why there are really no serious research projects into curing or preventing the common cold. None of the so called remedies actually cure a cold. If you buy them you might, if you are lucky, get some slight relief from the symptoms ...and you can get that effect with a simple home remedy. Here's the recipe:

An effective homemade cold remedy

In a tall glass:
  • add 2 fingers depth whiskey (cheap stuff)
  • add 2 fingers depth honey
  • add 2 fingers depth lemon juice
  • Fill the glass with hot water, stir well and drink.
  • Go to bed with a good book and relax or sleep it off.
If you find your symptoms are not better after an hour or so repeat.

Now I know what some of you are going to say. "I don't like whiskey," but believe me - this tastes nothing like it. It tastes good, relieves a sore throat, relieves congestion and after three of them you won't care about the cold!

OK - free advice over; now let's consider something else.

What bio-terrorism has to do with a cure

During the course of researching the first of our 'A Vested Interest' books - 'Immortality Gene' I had occasion to investigate gene therapy. It would be possible to alter a virus so that it inserts genes which prevent the common cold. If the virus remained infective, eventually everyone would find themselves immune to the cold virus.  Imagine a genetic researcher has produced that cold cure. It really works and he knows it's safe. But he/she can't market it for the reasons explained above. He/she can't announce it either without putting their life at risk. There's a multi-billion dollar industry at stake here remember?

The researcher knows the people of the world want the cure though. Does that researcher have the right to deny them it? Should they risk the wrath of the drug companies to make it available?

I think you'll find that the researcher would adopt the bio-terrorist tactics to release his/her product.

Sooner or later some well meaning person will do this!

Covid-19 Update

The common cold is just one of a group of viruses called corona viruses. At the end of 2019 a new corona virus appeared - COVID-19. We have little immunity to it and it became a global pandemic in 2020. The method it spreads by is exactly the same as with the common cold. As of today, 1st December 2020 there have been 63.3 million cases of it identified. There are probably far more cases where the symptoms have been minor and passed off as 'a cold'.
What makes Covid-19 different is that it does kill people. So far 1.47 million people have been identified as dying from it. There is now evidence that 10% of those survivors identified as Covid-19 cases will suffer a degree of permanent lung damage and 'long Covid'.
The older you are the more likely it is that Covid-19 will affect you severely and may cause your death. By the time you are in your 90s you have a 16% chance of death from it. Why is that?

I suggest the effect is due to the accumulation of senescent cells. That's cells in your body which contain damaged DNA but not badly damaged enough  to cause cell death. It's these cells in your body which produce the effects of getting old.

So what causes this damage? 

  • Radiation you've been exposed to either natural background radiation or man made radiation will do this.
  • Chemicals can do this. Smoking, tars, solvents, heavy metal compounds, insecticides, herbicides, artificial flavors, food colors and sweeteners, preservatives and more.
  • Viruses can do this. Any virus, including that common cold virus can leave senescent cells which accumulate and eventually kill you.
Covid-19 and the 10% damage it causes may well be enough to tip those affected by aging into death but even those who survive will have their lives shortened. You need to protect yourself. Not only do you need to protect yourself from Covid-19 but also protect yourself from catching the common cold. It's time to press those pharmaceutical firms to finally create that anti-cold vaccine.
In the meantime - wear the masks, wear gloves, wash your hands, keep socially distanced, protect your eyes and try not to touch  them.

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Tuesday, 25 October 2011

A Vested Interest book 6 - Regret and Retribution

In case you are wondering a sixth book is on the way which we've titled 'Regret and Retribution'.

What about book 7? Well A Vested Interest was split when it got to 172,000 words. Regret and Retribution is currently at 78,000 words and nowhere near the end.

Picture by Ogarzong

Included in Regret and Retribution is a new location - Cayambe in Ecuador.

What's odd is that near Cayambe we needed a major cement factory and a new deep water harbour. We did a little research and discovered just a few miles to the northwest a major new cement factory has been opened at Otavalo. What about the deepwater port? A new one is planned, just where we need it at Manta. Draw a line from it to Cayambe and it passes through the Ecuador capital, Quito. How very convenient!

This particular location is essential. Nowhere else on Earth will do. Sooner or later this place will be a very important place, and not just in our book. I wonder why? Post your ideas here.

Monday, 24 October 2011

What's 'A Vested Interest'?

Back in March 2007 my wife, Shelia Chapman, started writing a story about what would happen if people lived forever. It featured a character Donna Rigden, an American, who crossed the Atlantic to live and work in the UK.

The male lead at the time was that of Richard Triplet, basically a nice guy but handicapped by too much money.  Yes - I know - you wouldn't mind a handicap like that.

I got involved helping Shelia with research and the male point of view. We felt it was important to write a plausible plot, one which even if it wasn't real, sounded real.

For about six months we worked on the story, adding characters as we needed them and sub-plots galore. Eventually we had a 700 page book and still no title or any idea of how it was going to end. We realized that we had the makings of a good story but it was far too long. Reluctantly we started deleting. Out went the long descriptive bits of Donna's journey. We killed the car chase by fake police; we lost the breakfast where Donna talked about cutting throats; we deleted Brenda's murder; we removed the reporter Jack Brantley. In the end we had a story 150,000 words long and no ending or title.

For a year almost it languished unfinished before suddenly I got an idea for an ending and with it came a title 'A Vested Interest'

We ended up with a story 172,000 words long, complete with loads of factual and grammar errors. OK the fun bit was over - time to get down to work.

It took us over two months to go through the book and correct everything. Having done that we went through it again. By the third time we went through it we began to feel it was ready for publication and set about investigating how that was done.

Extensive research on Internet indicated we needed an agent. Curtis Brown was selected and off went sample chapters and covering letter. A month later we had our first rejection. 'Well,' we thought. 'J.K Rowling had Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone rejected 15 times so that's not a disaster'. Off it went to another agent who rejected it also. After out third rejection we did a little more research.

  • Prologues are not a good idea in a first book.
  • Those first 30 pages have to get the reader hooked and wanting more.
  • A first book shouldn't be too long.
Our book had a prologue, no hook until chapter 3 and 172,000 words. Out came the prologue, in went the hook and we cut the book again ruthlessly but couldn't get it below 152,000 words. There was only one option - we had to split the story between two books. I didn't think it could be done without destroying it.

Shelia eventually found a way of doing it and she convinced me by saying 'We can put back some of that stuff we cut earlier.' So we did it.

Of course when we started writing again, we got more ideas and in no time at all we found the second book was too long again - so we split that too.

...and the 'A Vested Interest' series was born.
Unlike Stephanie Meyers we don't plan on making her greatest Twilight series mistake. We are dealing with immortals so the saga will go on (No - not vampires - a different kind of immortal)

That is... if you tell us you want more.