Going Back to “Normal” In a Broken Society Was Never Going to Be Good Enough
by umair haque

The picture above (missing for this post).
Kids are pretending to die in an “active shooter drill,” as men with guns pretend to kill them. I bring it up because America’s had another shooting. That’s two in two weeks. That’s six so far this year. Things are going back to normal, my friends tell me. I don’t want to say what I think back to them: normal in America was already dystopian. And now, perhaps, you see the flaw in the logic of “things can just go back to normal.”

America is a deeply unwell society. What was “normal” — before the overt fascism of the Trump years? School shootings and mass murders. Kids having to pretend to die as masked men burst in and shot them with blanks — “active shooter drills.” Can you imagine what it does to a kid to have to pretend to be shot? To die? Then there was the “student debt,” the “medical bankruptcy,” people begging strangers online for money to pay for bills. All that was normal.

But a society like that is not normal. It’s just that all that has been normalised in America. What is all “that,” though? I want to explain it in a different way to you.

When my European friends visit America, or live there, or when I return to America, having lived so long in Europe, what strikes us is this. How mean and cruel and brutal American life is. American culture is. In Spain and France, friends — or just strangers — will greet each other with kisses and an embrace. That’s not some kind of pointless anecdote. There is real human warmth in these cultures. In America, it seems to have gone missing entirely.

Nobody is really friendly in America. I know they think they are, but they’re not. Americans don’t seem to know what is to be gentle, warm, kind. Hug and kiss an American and they’d probably think you were crazy, or maybe try to shoot you. Go to the store, the airport, school — anywhere — and simple social interactions are bizarre, dehumanizing, alienated things of people barking orders at each other. To Canadians, Europeans, Asians — literally the whole world — this way of being is deeply bizarre.
You can feel anger and rage pulsing through America like a shockwave. If you’ve lived elsewhere.

Nobody will be nice to anyone, really, kind, gentle, warm. It’s exhausting, wearying, depressing, if you can sense it. Americans have mostly lived no other way, so they can’t. But if you have — it shakes you. The aggression and hostility of American life is omnipresent — literally everywhere, inescapable, ubiquitous. At school, at the workplace, at the university — thanks frats — at the office, in church. There is nowhere you can go in American life to escape the shockwave of aggression surging through it.

Why do I bring all that up? Am I just condemning Americans? Of course not. I am diagnosing a certain kind of social illness. Rage.

It’s true that guns are a big problem, and I’d never want you to think that I’m not on the side of gun control. Of course I am. But beneath the surface of guns, there is a culture of omnipresent aggression, brutality, cruelty. That has resulted in a culture of rage.

Where do you see the culture of rage? Where don’t you? Turn on the cable news, and you’ll see talking heads screaming at each other. American pop culture is movies about death on an epic scale and video games where people just kill each other. Am I saying movies and video games are to “blame” for mass shootings? Of course not. But I am saying so much rage and anger and violence are signs of a deeply unwell society. In a very precise and technical and formal way.

What is it that makes American so angry, so aggressive, so hostile, so cruel? Why is it that that’s the very first thing anyone not from America notices — and why the world, for example, rolls its eyes at American tourists?

What’s immediately apparent to anyone from elsewhere is that Americans have reduced each other to commodities. In Europe or Canada, life is completely different. Schools are not just little arenas of violence, where kids are encouraged to compete brutally, for sports trophies or grades. The result is that there is less bullying — and far, far less violence like school shootings. The workplace isn’t like a prison — a place you have to go to have healthcare and retirement — because of course everyone already has those basics. University isn’t dominated by the stupidity and ignorance and violence of fraternities. Profit isn’t the sole motive of every aspect of human existence.

I could go on endlessly. The point is this. Take the example of going to the store. In America, you can go to the same Starbucks forever — and never know a thing about anyone who ever works there or goes there. That would violate a social norm. In Europe, you can’t not be friends with people, at least if you go to your neighbourhood bistro or cafe. That would violate the norm. American life is completely atomized, and because it is atomized, it has been dehumanized. What does that lead to?

America is a society that has undergone an almost complete process of social disintegration. Social bonds are almost entirely nonexistent anymore. Way back in the 90s, sociologist James Putnam began documenting this startling collapse of social bonds, in his famous Bowling Alone. In Holland, the number of people who think that most people can be trusted is almost 70%.

In America, it’s half that: just 35%. And that almost certainly overstates the number, because people tend to be polite in surveys.

Think about that for a second. Just three people out of every ten in America trust the rest. But can you blame them? I can’t.

Think about American life for a second. What is it, if we really think about it? It’s an endless war, a battle, a life-and-death contest, that you have to wake up and engage in day after day, every day, your whole life long, just to have the basics. Want healthcare? Want a tiny bit of money? Want to be able to have a place to live and pay the bills? Then you have to go out there and compete with everyone else for a “job.” That means, in plain English, some morsel of pointless work, whose only real purpose is to make billionaires richer. And you don’t even get a fair share of that.

American life is a bitter, bruising, endless life-and-death contest. For things that people in every other rich country, and plenty of poor ones, simply give each other. Healthcare, medicine, retirement, education, income, housing, transportation, utilities. Americans have to compete with everyone else just to have a tiny, tiny share of those things. And if they don’t compete, they don’t get them, which means they’re left to die. If they can’t compete, or if they don’t win this game, even on some tiny level, again, they’re left to die.

Existence itself has become a battle in America. So who can blame Americans for not trusting each other? They are made to regard each other as adversaries, enemies, competitors, rivals. For the basics of life, whether money, food, water, or shelter. That is the way America is “institutionally structured,” which is a fancy way of saying “set up.”

But turning life into an endless life and death contest for the basics, where if you lose, you die — it has a price. When you’re forced to regard everyone else as an enemy, rival, competitor, adversary — they can’t also be your friend. Ally. Partner.

Sure, you can pretend they are — with that weird fake plastic mean smile Americans are famous for. But that’s just a game of make-believe. Americans are made to regard each other was enemies, so, unfortunately, they can’t be friends.

That is why America has undergone a process of social disintegration. That is why it feels so bleak and brutal and cruel. It’s why when someone like me or my European or Canadian friends visit or move, they feel alienated, weirded out, estranged. Nobody’s genuinely friendly, and everybody’s angry and cruel all the time, and strangest of all, they don’t know it.

What my Canadian and European friends are baffled by is this. Why do Americans live this way? All the things they’re made to compete with each other for aren’t really in short supply. They are just kept in a condition of artificial scarcity. There’s no real shortage of houses, or money, or work. It’s just that these things are kept artificially scarce, by America’s weird, failed systems. Hedge funds buy entire neighbourhoods and demolish houses — while Americans go homeless. Billionaires like Bezos and Zuck have all the money — while the average American lives pay check to pay check and dies in debt, just like a neo-serf. There’s no shortage of insulin — it’s just made cruelly, fatally unaffordable because corporations need to perpetually jack up their profits, into infinity.

Americans are made to live the way they do — a bleak, brutal existence of competition and adversariality — because their failed systems make them. In that way, America’s worse than the Soviet Union right now. The Soviet Union really did have shortages of basics. America doesn’t. Americans live this way — in a state of perpetual competition for the basics — because that’s the way they’ve been told is a good and just and noble way to live.

But it isn’t. The theory is false — the theory being more or less all of American economics, which basically says if we give people the basics, they’ll turn lazy and mean and violent and stupid. Not having the basics is what’s made Americans violent and foolish. Why? Because the price has been to destroy social bonds.

That might not sound like a big deal to you — “the destruction of social bonds” — but let me assure you, there’s little greater calamity a society can suffer. What is it called when I begin to distrust you? Regard you as an enemy? Someone who has to be vanquished?

America’s culture of rage has produced a hateful society. American society is so full of hate, it leaves the rest of us, who’ve lived elsewhere, exhausted and depressed, and plenty of Americans too. What do I mean by that? Do you really need more “evidence”? Weren’t the Trump years enough? How about two mass shooting in two weeks?

The first one, in Atlanta, was at the intersection of many kinds of hate — minority women were targeted. American life is permeated by rage and hate. And it spills over into violence. Real violence, like mass murder. All the time, over and over again.

And all that is because, at root, Americans live in a failed society, a failed state. Where artificial scarcities are used to control them. To force them into attitudes where everyone must everyone else’s competitor, adversary, enemy, not ally, friend, partner. Hence, America strikes the rest of the world — where friendship and warmth are norms, but in America brutality and cruelty are — as profoundly ugly and backwards and bizarre. It is.

I can’t think of any other society where rage and hate are as normal as they are in America, because people are made to compete, controlled by artificial scarcities — to the point that they are driven mad by them. Remember, we humans are deeply social beings. If we don’t have sociality — we begin to lose our marbles. And that is what appears to have happened to Americans. Not having sociality — true sociality — in society anymore, warmth, gentleness, friendship, has created the illusion that brutality, cruelty, selfishness, materialism, objectification, commodification, treating everyone else like something to be dominated, abused, acquired, discarded, are all normal. They’re normal in America, sure, but they’re not normal at all.

And when a society normalises dehumanization, brutality, cruelty, selfishness, isn’t it obvious to see how things like mass killings become, well, everyday events?

America’s a deeply unwell society. Americans still don’t really grasp it. They don’t feel how abnormal it is to live in a society where aggression and hostility are the only things that exist, because the only way people are allowed to regard each other are as rivals and enemies. All that’s normal in America.

But that, my friends, is why going back to “normal”

was never going to be good enough.


by Jennifer Calonia


As you develop your writing skills, it’s easy to adopt a few habits along the way. Some of these habits are helpful, like having go-to jargon when composing business emails or using a stream-of-consciousness approach when writing a rough draft quickly.

But not all learned habits are helpful in all contexts. Some can derail your message or leave your reader confused and even frustrated.

Your writing, at its best
Be the best writer in the office.
To take your writing skills to the next level, read our list of seven common writing habits to stop stat—and advice on what to do instead.

1 Procrastinating (instead, use time blocks)
Procrastinating on your writing might have served you well during undergrad all-nighters, but it’s not sustainable in a professional setting.

A handout by The Writing Center at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill delves into all aspects of procrastination, namely how making it a habit can leave you feeling deflated and stressed about the writing process. “Procrastination and perfectionism often go hand in hand,” the handout explains. It also attributes the procrastination to fear.

Let’s say you’re dreading writing an analysis, for example. In worrying about how your leadership team will receive your report, you might avoid working on it until the last minute. But procrastinating means you have less time to fix mistakes—making your initial fears that your writing won’t be up to snuff all the more prophetic.

Instead: Dedicate time in your calendar to think about your writing project and nothing else. Do this long before the deadline. This doesn’t have to be a long block of time—it could be twenty to thirty minutes. Keep these time blocks short. This manageable approach moves your writing forward and allows for self-editing, without the pressure to write perfectly in one sitting.

2 Overusing vague adverbs (instead, find synonyms)
Adverbs like “really,” and “very” add emphasis. It’s understandable why using them is a common habit. Especially if you sprinkle these adverbs into your everyday conversations, it’s natural for them to pop up in your formal writing, too.

However, overusing “very” and “really” is counterproductive and risks reducing the impact of your statement. Your aim in writing is to communicate clearly; descriptions like “very nice” or “really great” don’t convey that much. It can also lead to confusion: If five points on a memo are “really important,” then they all have the same value and therefore neither is more important than the other.

Instead: Play around with word choice. When you discover too many adverbs in your writing, turn to a thesaurus. Consider the noun’s true significance and choose a word that accurately describes it to keep “very” and “really” to a minimum. Grammarly can help you by suggesting more concise, powerful language.

3 Relying on turns of phrase (instead, get descriptive)
Familiar language can feel like an easy way to explain or describe a thought. Turns of phrase like “break a leg” or “go the distance” help your reader quickly get an idea of your meaning. But they aren’t useful for keeping a reader’s attention.

Relying on idioms and cliche phrases doesn’t help you hone your unique writing voice. Hackneyed sayings can also disengage your audience, leaving them disinterested.

Instead: Avoid overused language by using rich details and words to describe the subject. Adding more information and deepening descriptions leads to more engaging writing.

4 Writing run-on sentences (instead, embrace punctuation)
Crafting too many run-on sentences is a popular habit. A stream of consciousness might feel natural as you’re writing, but readers generally appreciate the chance to catch a breath (or two).

Not only can a run-on sentence be overwhelming, but it also risks confusing your reader. Lengthy, meandering sentences invite more misunderstandings about the point you’re making.

Instead: Look at your sentences and spot areas that lend a natural pause. Don’t be afraid of punctuation: Use a comma or semicolon, or create a full stop with a period. It may feel choppy to you, but tighter constructions make it easier for readers to absorb your message.

5 Overusing exclamation points (instead, refine your tone)
It can feel natural to want to use exclamation points in your writing. They’re nearly ubiquitous in casual writing like texting and social media. And, they’re useful for conveying enthusiasm, importance, or alarm. After all, what better way to express how you feel than an exorbitant number of exclamation points!!?!!?

In more formal writing, exclamation points are rarer. Sprinkling too many exclamation points throughout a piece or typing many in a row risks coming off as comical. They also take away from your message. Sometimes, there’s an argument for them. But in these situations, one exclamation point is enough.

Instead: Think about the tone or attitude you want to convey. Tone is a combination of word choice, punctuation, and syntax, all of which can effectively do the work of ten exclamation points.

6 Employing too much jargon (instead, write simply)
Unless you’re an experienced fishmonger writing a book specifically for other experienced fishmongers, avoid jargon in your writing. This goes for all writers of any subject—fishmongers et al.

Some jargon, when clearly explained, can be informational. However, too much jargon forces your audience to reread the text multiple times to understand its meaning. Not only does this lead to readers spending more time making sense of your writing, it results in frustration and bewilderment.

Instead: Keep your writing simple by using plain language and paraphrasing ideas into descriptions that a reader at any level can grasp.

7 Hedging (instead, write with confidence)
Hedging occurs when you insert qualifiers into a statement to avoid coming off too strong. Some examples of hedging include using words and phrases, like “I think,” “it looks like,” “somewhat,” or “this seems to . . .”

In an academic paper, there are practical applications for hedging. But in the workplace and everyday writing, it resonates as too uncertain and cautious. It can even undermine your credibility from the start.

Instead: Keep your business writing strong by removing hedging phrases and words. You can write assertively while maintaining a polite and professional tone without hedging.

Outgrowing these common writing habits takes ongoing practice. That’s where Grammarly can come in. The Grammarly Editor provides suggestions to help strengthen your writing, from catching common mistakes with sentence structure to offering clarity rewrites.


Detailing the arguments for and against this concern with input from experts.

by Shin Jie Yong

We are all-in into vaccinating as many people as possible against Covid-19, with mRNA vaccines at the forefront. So, we might as well go all-in into understanding the little intricacies of how mRNA vaccine encapsulated by lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) might interact with delicate cell types — such as neurons in the brain — that a few experts have raised.

Before going further, the conclusion herein is that the actual risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection or Covid-19 largely outweighs the hypothetical risks of the LNP-encapsulated mRNA vaccine. But there are still a few concerns left unanswered, which deserve more transparency.

Current vaccines rely on spike protein

Nearly all the vaccine candidates for Covid-19 — such as the mRNA, DNA, viral vector, recombinant protein, viral-like particles, and peptide-based vaccines — rely on the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein to induce immunity.

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines consist of an mRNA genetic material encased within LNPs that can fuse with muscle and immune cells upon injection. The released mRNA then instructs the cells to make spike proteins, which are expressed on the cell surface to trigger various aspects of the immune system.

The AstraZeneca-Oxford and Johnson & Johnson adenoviral vector vaccines use a harmless modified adenovirus to deliver DNA into the cell to make SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins to induce immunity.

The Novavax peptide-based or protein subunit vaccine uses purified spike proteins of SARS-CoV-2 to induce immunity.

The Sinovac and Sinopharm inactivated vaccines use dead SARS-CoV-2 virions with the spike proteins intact to induce immunity.

While these vaccines all rely on the SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins to train the immune system in one way or another, only the mRNA vaccines use the innovative LNP technology to deliver the mRNA into cells.

For simplicity, the spike protein mentioned from hereon belongs to SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

Lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) hypothetical risks

The mRNA vaccine is injected intramuscularly through the arm. This method is preferred because large muscle cells have high vascularity, so the injected biomaterial can easily reach the systemic bloodstream and lymphatic system.

LNPs fuse with and enter mammalian cells easily. As mentioned, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines use LNPs to encapsulate the mRNA genetic material for more efficient cell delivery.

Thus, the combined intramuscular injection and LNP technology would enable the mRNA vaccine to reach a broad range of cell types. The mRNA might even reach delicate cells or places that we don’t want them to, such as neurons in the brain or spinal cord.

In fact, LNPs are often used to overcome the problem of the BBB blocking medical drugs from entering the brain. Given that the BBB and blood-spinal cord barrier are lipid-soluble, the LNP-encapsulated mRNA vaccine might be able to enter the brain and spinal cord.

As a result, brain cells that express the spike protein might be marked as foreign by the immune system. For example, cytotoxic T-cells, which kill virus-infected and cancerous cells, might see the spike protein-expressing brain cells as a threat. Unlike muscle cells and many other cell types, neurons in the brain rarely regenerate.

Jacob Wes Ulm, MD, Ph.D., a geneticist, explained this concern in detail in a letter to the British Medical Journal, as well as in a public comment to an article about mRNA vaccines on January 2021:

…it seems that they [mRNA vaccines] can enter a much broader tissue range compared to even attenuated virus vaccines…And since the mRNA vaccines would induce SARS-CoV-2 viral spike protein expression, that seems to mean that people who get the mRNA vaccines are going to have a much greater range of cells and tissues vulnerable to cytotoxic [T-cell] attack…with side effects that may not manifest for years (with cumulative damage and chronic inflammation).

“This is where the picture gets aggravatingly murky,” Dr. Ulm added, mentioning that there seems to be no comprehensive data on the cellular localization — i.e., which types of cells the biomaterial enters— of the LNPs used by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

Although there have been past studies on the cellular localization of LNPs (more on this below), different LNP formulations would enter different cell types, Dr. Ulm stated, so “we don’t know where in the body they’re going,” adding that:

The nightmare scenario would be if e.g. the mRNA vaccines’ lipid nanoparticles are, indeed, crossing the BBB and getting endocytosed into critical glial cells, like oligodendrocytes, or even worse, into neurons themselves in the brain and spinal cord, putting a bullseye on these critical cells for cytotoxic [T-cells].

In fact, one 2017 study vaccinated mice against influenza viruses with LNP-encapsulated mRNA vaccine. While the mRNA vaccine immunizes the mice, the study found traces of the mRNA in the brain at 0.4 ng/ml. However, the amount of mRNA found in the muscle injection site, proximal lymph nodes, distal lymph nodes, and spleen were much larger at 5680, 2120, 117, and 87 ng/ml, respectively.

That said, this is also consistent with what the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) assessment report of the Moderna mRNA vaccine has reported:

Low levels of mRNA could be detected in all examined tissues except the kidney [in rats]. This included heart, lung, testis, and also brain tissues, indicating that the mRNA/LNP platform crossed the blood/brain barrier, although to very low levels (2–4% of the plasma level).

Therefore, these reports suggest that the LNPs can carry bits of the mRNA vaccine into the brain.

But we still don’t know what would happen after the mRNA vaccine enters the brain (more on this below).
Notably, for the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine, the assessment report by the U.K. government is a bit vague, stating that:

Information regarding the potential distribution of the test articles to sites other than the injection site following IM [intramuscular] administration has been provided and is under review as part of the ongoing rolling assessment.

Last month, I received an email from Goh Kiang Hua, MD, a consultant general surgeon, asking if I’ve come across any scientific data on what happens to the cell that makes and expresses the spike proteins upon receiving the mRNA vaccines.

I couldn’t find such any, except for the abovementioned EMA’s report that I found posted in an mRNA discussion google group that William Steward, Ph.D., founded.

Dr. Ulm couldn’t either, publicly commenting that:

I used to work in gene therapy and recall how we’d obsess on tissue tropism for our vectors before considering clinical trials, so I’m bewildered that this information seems almost absent for an almost entirely new vaccine modality…Without knowing more about the specific LNP formulations and their cellular and tissue trafficking patterns, we just can’t say much of anything with certainty.

Note that tissue tropism or trafficking patterns mean which tissue or cell types the biological material might enter, similar to cellular localization.

The surgeon then mentioned cases of immune thrombocytopenia — a life-threatening blood clot or platelet disorder — occurring shortly after mRNA vaccination. While no causative link has been confirmed, he considered that maybe the LNPs had carried the mRNA vaccine into the megakaryocytes (platelet-producing cells) in the bone marrow. The megakaryocytes then express the spike protein, only to be marked for destruction by cytotoxic T-cells. Platelets then become deficient, causing thrombocytopenia. Of course, he emphasized that these are just speculations.

This may be an ‘off-target effect’ of mRNA vaccines. For example, a literature review published in Pharmaceutics in January 2020 stated:

Cell-specific delivery of mRNA would be beneficial for the development of mRNA-based therapeutics. This can enhance the delivery of mRNA molecules to the targeted cells and hence reduce the required mRNA dose, as well as reducing potential off-target effects.

Overall, I see that many experts have raised hypothetical concerns of where and which cell types the LNPs might carry the mRNA vaccine into. Depending on where the mRNA ended up, the subsequent mRNA-induced spike protein expression might possibly trigger biological reactions we don’t want.

For more context about this issue, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has also covered it last week, featuring Dr. Ulm’s concerns on the cellular localization of LNPs.

Screenshot of an article published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on 10th March 2021.

Why it might not be a problem
A few past studies have investigated the cellular localization of LNPs carrying an mRNA that encodes luciferase, a protein detectable via imaging scan. With this method, researchers can visually see where or which cell types the LNPs had carried the mRNA into. In a word, the luciferase visualization is a proxy for mRNA cellular localization.

A 2015 study administered LNP-encapsulated mRNA into mice via various routes. The intramuscular route is one of the most effective ones, resulting in mRNA localization mostly in the liver and, to a lesser extent, the muscles, spleen, and lungs. The mRNA-induced luciferase protein expression peaked at about 5-hour and declined thereafter.

A 2017 study injected LNP-encapsulated mRNA vaccine into mice and found that the mRNA disseminated mostly into the muscles, lymph nodes, spleen, and liver. But this study also found traces of mRNA in the heart, bone marrow, kidney, lung, stomach, rectum, intestines, testes, and brain. The mRNA-induced protein expression peaked at about 6-hour.

A 2019 study injected LNP-encapsulated mRNA vaccine into macaque monkeys intramuscularly. The mRNA ended up entering the liver the most, followed by the spleen and muscles. The luciferase protein expression only lasted about 8 hours and then declined.

A 2021 study administered LNP-encapsulated mRNA vaccine into mice via various routes, including intramuscularly. Scanning the mice’s body revealed some degree of luciferase expression. While specific body parts were not mentioned, the brain didn’t appear to be one of the areas the mRNA entered. The mRNA-induced protein expression was highest within the first 24 hours and mostly gone by day 6.

Nevertheless, whether the LNP formulation of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines is the same as these studies remains unknown.

But we can see a trend in these studies — that intramuscular LNPs injection tends to deliver the mRNA into the muscles, liver, spleen, and lymph nodes. This cellular localization pattern is also consistent with the EMA’s assessment report of the Moderna mRNA vaccine, although they also found tiny mRNA traces in other cell types, such as the heart and brain.

Thus, we can be assured that the brain is most likely not the main tissue or organ that the Pfizer-BioNTech’s and Moderna’s LNPs enter.

In a detailed post in the mRNA discussion google group, Dr. Goh reasoned that the mRNA vaccine is unlikely to reach the brain from the arm injection site owing to the many obstacles along the way.

The mRNA vaccine would have to first escape from the densely packed muscle cells at the injection site into the lymphatic system and bloodstream. And living cells present throughout such route could take up the mRNA vaccine anytime. “Along the way, especially in the capillary beds of the lungs where the blood flow is slow, the LNPs face multiple hurdles as the whole route is lined by living cells,” he explained.

“If the LNPs survive the journey so far, the next stage is equally if not more treacherous.” The mRNA vaccine then has to resist tremendous force as the heart pumps blood throughout the body. “If the LNPs disintegrate from the turbulence, the mRNAs will be rapidly destroyed by ribonucleases,” he said. But, “those that remain intact will be sent to the WHOLE body.” Still, he further cautioned that “the structural integrity of these LNPs after being expelled from the [heart’s] left ventricle is doubtful.”

That said, here is where the brain or other organs might encounter the LNPs.

However, the brain is shielded by the BBB. So, even if the LNPs are about to enter the brain, the BBB cells could take up the mRNA vaccine, and the spike protein production might just be limited to the BBB.

Assuming the mRNA vaccine crossed the BBB successfully and entered the brain, we still don’t know what might happen after that.

Maybe the mRNA gets degraded once it enters the brain. Maybe the neurons will take up the mRNA and express spike protein on its surface, triggering cytotoxic T-cell attacks. But this is further assuming, Dr. Goh pointed out, that the T-cells would also cross the BBB. In fact, T-cell trafficking into the brain is highly regulated to prevent unwanted inflammation, so it’s not easy for T-cells to cross the BBB. The next question would be if such neuronal injury is severe enough to trigger diseases. Maybe the neuronal injury is just a little stressor that may not be detrimental health-wise.

Still, one could argue that immune cells in the brain, like microglia, might attack neurons that take up the mRNA vaccine. We know mRNA vaccine activates T-cells, but whether brain immune cells are also activated has not been studied.

It’s also worthy to note that mRNA doesn’t stay in the cell for long; it’s gone after being translated into proteins. Indeed, studies studying mRNA vaccine — in the bulleted points above — show that the mRNA-induced protein expression peaks within a few hours and then declined sharply, lasting only for a few days. As T-cells belong to the adaptive immune system, they take about 7–15 days to activate.

Dr. Goh further reminded us that participants in phase I clinical trial are still being followed up closely for nearly a year now. “This is probably the most closely watched vaccine roll-up ever in the history of vaccinology,” he stated. “To date, thankfully, there has been no signal of any long-term issues of concern.”

What to make of all this?
Overall, authorities and pharmaceutical companies may want to provide more transparency on the hypothetical concern of LNPs carrying the mRNA vaccine into areas we don’t want them to.
However, if such concerns are legitimate, it’s hard to imagine that health authorities and pharma have overlooked them. The more likely scenario may be that such concerns were considered but deemed of low concern for reasons discussed above.

Ultimately, human organ systems are complex. Theories or hypotheses alone do not always translate to the real biological phenomenon. We have seen far too many times that in vitro (test tube or cell culture) and in vivo (animal) study results failed to be replicated in humans. And these in vitro and in vivo studies are usually based on theories or hypotheses that scientists wanted to test out.

Lastly, we must also weigh the LNP mRNA vaccine’s hypothetical risks against the coronavirus’s actual threats. Not only is Covid-19 life-threatening among the vulnerable populations — such as older adults, people of color, and people with underlying medical conditions — but long-Covid or post-Covid syndrome is another serious threat to the young and fit.

Steve Pascolo, Ph.D., co-founder of CureVac, is one of the earliest researchers to advocate for mRNA vaccines’ potential in 2004. He also has an impressive publishing record on mRNA vaccines and was kind enough to respond to my email inquiring about this topic. Dr. Pascolo admits that some cells that take up the mRNA and express spike proteins on their surface might get destroyed by cytotoxic T-cells.

But he added:
…that is what happens to a much higher grade and in all organs when we get infected by SARS-CoV-2…or vaccinated with live viral vaccines…With the mRNA vaccine (30 micrograms in the muscle) the eventual destruction of cells by CD8 [cytotoxic T-cells] would always be very minor compared to what happens in infection when the viruses infect virtually all cells in all organs and the immune system is fully activated to get rid of it…”

Thus, the mere 30 micrograms of mRNA vaccine injected intramuscularly pale in comparison to the actual virus infection in the capacity to trigger cytotoxic T-cell attacks in the brain or elsewhere. And yes, SARS-CoV-2 is capable of invading the brain and many other organs.

Indeed, experts in the mRNA discussion google group who first raised the hypothetical risks of LNP-encapsulated mRNA vaccines are still pro-vaccine, agreeing that SARS-CoV-2 or Covid-19 is the larger threat.

To conclude, this article doesn’t intend to undermine the mRNA vaccine but to better understand its subtle intricacies that might be important. Hopefully, there will be more research on this matter. If at all such concern is an issue, which is unlikely, we could still find ways to circumvent it.

If not, then we can safely dismiss one worry we have.

Either way, it’s worth knowing.


A psychology-based approach to conflict
By Michael Easter

About five years ago my significant other and I were in a dumb argument. I wasn’t backing down. She wasn’t backing down.

Stalemate, I vented to a friend. I explained to him in agonizing detail why I was right, why my significant other was wrong, how the world would be better off if I could just get her to understand this — and did this guy have any advice for convincing her that I was right? His response: “Do you want to be right or happy?”

This question has since saved me a lot of headaches and led me to discover something important about the human mind.

Psychologists theorize that our capacity to reason didn’t develop so we could find better beliefs and make better decisions. Reason likely evolved so we could win arguments. Convincing others we were right helped us gain status and influence. In a debate our brain acts like our puff person, using reason as a weapon to protect us and make us look good.

Our brains always default to picking the evidence that helps us and ignoring the information that doesn’t. For example, here’s a fun game: Ask someone if they think they’re always right. Unless the person is some sort of egomaniac, they’ll usually laugh and say, “of course not.” Yet ask that same person if they think they are right during any one specific argument or debate and they will assume they are correct. And so, by default, we think we’re always right.

This mechanism probably made sense during the crucible of human evolution. It oftentimes still benefits us today. But in our safe, comfortable world the majority of our everyday disagreements — in relationships and at work — are astoundingly inconsequential in the grand scheme of our lives. When we ask ourselves, “do I want to be right or happy?” we insert perspective into the equation. Choosing the latter option can be uncomfortable in the immediate short term (we’re fighting against our pit bull brain). But over time it has a way of dissolving the bullshit that causes our everyday suffering. And when bullshit dissolves it becomes fertilizer, bringing growth.

“Do I want to be right or happy?” can even give us perspective and clarity to see another important fact: We probably aren’t right in most arguments. And neither is the other side. Time changes our worldviews. Most of us can look back on past arguments and realize that there are very few where we were totally, undeniably, universally right. We overreact more than we underreact. And who we are and what we know and hold true is a moving goalpost. A hill we’ll die on today is one we’ll happily cede tomorrow. Yet we all suck at seeing this in the moment. Even facts humanity holds universally true — like gravity — will likely be overturned in the near future, according to physicists.

So “Do I want to be right or happy?” is now a question that I try to ask myself any time another person and I face a discrepancy in perspectives. I am not perfect at asking this question. Wouldn’t even say I’m good at it. But when I do find myself in moments of tension with others, remembering to ask myself if I want to be right or happy buys me some emotional space and perspective and cuts down on my daily suffering. And that feels like happiness.

P.s. If you’re interested in how evolution has shaped our brain and influences our modern behaviors (both good, bad, and ugly) and how you can outsmart your evolutionary impulses for better physical and mental health, you might enjoy my book, The Comfort Crisis. It’s out May 11th. You can pre-order it wherever books are sold — but I’d love it if you order it here from an independent bookstore that conducts non-profit writing workshops for disadvantages kids and teens.

7 Little Things That Can Tell You A Lot About Someone

Potent habits that can reveal a person’s character

by Anthony J. Yeung

Without a doubt, one of the best life skills there are is the ability to gauge a person’s character and personality accurately. It’ll help you find stronger relationships and avoid a lot of pain and frustration.
Of all the many different methods, I’ve learned seven over the years that have helped me tremendously—either they were the sign that led to a long, fulfilling friendship or they were the warning before things fell apart.

Note: Please don’t use these to condemn or judge people. Everyone has bad days and our personalities can change. (If anything, we should look at our own character before evaluating others.)
Also, keep in mind each thing on its own might not say much; but together, they can reveal a lot. From there, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to be friends, clients, or lovers with them—or not.

  1. How they keep their commitments
    They’re not always big — like swearing under oath or wedding vows—but we actually make a lot of commitments in life like:
    • “I’ll let you know about the meeting by Friday.”
    • “I’ll be there in 5 minutes.”
    • “I’ll call you at 6 pm.”
    Yet we don’t always keep them. Now, life happens and it’s important to give some leeway, especially for things outside of our control. But if you notice a pattern where someone fails to follow through with any of their commitments—or regularly changes them—it can reveal someone who isn’t reliable, doesn’t hold themselves accountable for the things they say, or doesn’t value you all that much.
  2. How they treat people below them
    “You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”
    — Malcolm S. Forbes
    A common test is how people treat service staff at restaurants, cafes, etc. It’s a decent one, but to me, I think the bigger picture is how people treat those who can do absolutely nothing for them or to them. (Waiters, on the other hand, can definitely do something to you if you’re a jerk so it pays to be nice.)
    Strangers on the street. People selling flowers on the sidewalk. Janitors. People “below” their position at work. How does someone treat those people or talk about them? It can tell you a lot.
    I remember being at a cafe on a Friday night that was packed with people going to bars and clubs. A homeless man walked in selling flowers and people started rolling their eyes and laughing at him. Sure, they laughed, but what did their actions say about them?
  3. How their car looks
    Years ago, I had a client who was a surgeon at a leading hospital and who used to interview new residents. I never forgot what he told me.
    “It’s not allowed,” he would say with a chuckle, “but I’d love to just go to the parking lot and see inside their car.”
    It wasn’t to judge the kind of car they drove or how fancy it was. It was to look inside and see if it was clean, organized, and tidy, or if there were food wrappers and empty soda cans everywhere.
    He had a point. In Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell shared a study where the personality of 80 students was assessed by those students’ closest friends versus complete strangers who only spent 15 minutes visiting their bedrooms.
    The complete strangers, it turned out, were more accurate.
    “What this suggests is that it is quite possible for people who have never met us and who have spent only twenty minutes thinking about us to come to a better understanding of who we are than people who have known us for years… If you want to get a good idea of whether I’d make a good employee, drop by my house one day and take a look around.”
    —Malcolm Gladwell
    Obviously, if you can visit someone’s home, even better. But anytime you get a ride from someone, it might tell you quite a bit about a person, their identity, behaviors, and how they think and feel. How you do one thing is how you do everything.
  4. How they act when they make a mistake
    We all make mistakes. But when you address it in a respectful, kind, and fair way, how do they respond?
    • Do they apologize and commit to avoiding it?
    • Do they make excuses, get defensive, or go silent?
    • Do they blame you, accuse you of making it a big deal, or go back in time and list your transgressions (that they never mentioned before and have been saving just for this occasion)?
    Sadly, I’ve had to let friends go because of this, but it was the right decision. I believe the true mark of a person isn’t how they act when things are going well; it’s how they act when things are not going well. There’s always going to be some conflict and disagreements in any relationship, but how they respond in those moments can reveal a lot about their character and ego.
  5. How they act when you make a mistake
    On the other hand, if you make an honest mistake and apologize, how do they respond?
    • Do they respect you and share how they feel? Do they take it in stride?
    • Do they make things personal and say, “You always ” or “You never _?”
    • Do they belittle you, hold a grudge, or insult your character, intelligence, etc.?
    If it’s the last one, it doesn’t always mean they’re “bad” people. (Maybe they had a tough upbringing and it’s how they were raised.) But it definitely reveals a bit about their “true colors” and how they’ll act when times get tough.
  6. How they act with people they want something from
    I’ve noticed some people have a “split personality.” For example, when some guys see women they’re attracted to, they suddenly act friendly and happy; once those women leave, they’re back to their old selves. I knew guys like that and, if we went out on a Saturday night, their eyes would dart all over the room searching for women as they half-listened to their own friends.
    The thing about people like this is they don’t really have an established sense of self—who they are changes completely depending on who they talk to. And they only put on their “A-Game” when they’re around a person they like, they admire, or they want something from.
    Do they put on a special show around certain people? Do they “kiss up” to people above them while ignoring people below them? Do they “friend hop” to climb their way up the social ladder? Take notice.
  7. How their real-life compares to social media life
    I once knew a guy who was obsessed with how he was portrayed on social media—his posts, profiles, and stories were designed to present him in the best light possible. Yet in reality, he was just a relatively average guy who was good at his job.
    We eventually had a falling out, but looking back, this was one of the biggest warning signs. Because, like on social media, he was overly concerned with how people thought of him, he made his friendships calculated, and he chased validation and approval.
    Check how someone acts on social media versus reality? Do they always need to put on a show, humblebrag, or showcase every “amazing” detail of their day—even though their life is ordinary? It can say a lot about how a person thinks, how they feel, and what motivates them.
    Again, the point of these checks isn’t to judge someone. (After all, my ex-friend wasn’t a “bad” guy; we just had different personalities.) It’s simply to gauge someone’s personality—in that moment—and see if it aligns with your values, your goals, and what’s important to you.
    Because once you surround yourself with people who match those important things to you, you’ll find awesome relationships that will grow and grow over time.

I hope it helps…..