Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

About five years ago, I was talking to the hiking guide on my daughter’s Girl Scout troop excursion. Upon hearing what I do, he asked a few basic questions the way people often do when learning about my profession. At some point I casually mentioned there was a serious antibiotic resistance problem and were overdue for a major pandemic. After he left, I wondered if he thought I was a psychopath. …

We need people vaccinated now, not masked.

A sample of the masks we made to fit the five different face sizes in my family.

In the summer of 2017 the region I lived in suffered a gas shortage, the impetus of which was Hurricane Harvey. It appears to have started as people filled up the gas tanks in their cars as preparation for the hurricane. An understandable reaction to the possibility of power outages and difficulty securing resources, both of which a hurricane can cause. In that region, hurricane threats occur every few years. I personally will get gas on those occasions if I’m below half a tank. If I have more than that, I’ll wait because I know I have enough for nearly…

Empires fell, survivors scarred, one-third of those infected killed, this was no “small” pox.

Image credit: James Gathany;

Disease would typically begin with generalized viral infection symptoms: fever, muscle pain, fatigue, etc.; sometimes nausea and vomiting were involved. Pustules would show in the mouth first. A few days later skin lesions would begin to form; not superficial lesions, these were deeply embedded in the skin, and slowly leaked over days. Once emptied, the pustules formed a scab that would eventually fall off. In some unfortunate individuals, large sections of pustules would merge forming large scabs, they would eventually fall off in “sheets” of skin. These skin-sheet cases were fatal more often than not. …

Unfortunately, it won’t lead to an immediate increase in doses.

Image by Pixabay

This past Thursday, the Biden administration announced they would support waiving patent protections regarding COVID vaccines. This was met with support from much of the world and consternation from much of the pharmaceutical industry. Patent and intellectual property rights are just one of the many issues contributing to the dearth of vaccine doses available to much of the world. I don’t downplay the embargo that was placed on the raw materials needed to produce the vaccines, but patent protection and intellectual property rights combined to create the largest hurdle to defeating this pandemic.

I need a chair, but not just any chair will do

Raw materials are of course critical to…

Here’s a hint, it has to do with vaccination across countries.

Image by RawPixel

When infectious diseases spread, epidemiologists can use several measures to gauge the relative successes and failures of various governmental regions. Countries, states, counties, and municipalities can be compared to similar governmental entities for analysis.

There are many elements one must consider when making these analyses. Population size, density, age, living standards, and education level, are just some of them. There is nearly an endless amount of analysis that can be done, not comparing false equivalencies is important to ensure the analysis is valid. Comparing false equivalencies is one way lies are introduced, I’ll get into that later.

The United States…

How much do I tell you to ensure you come back?

Illustration of the author by author’s wife.

When I was a teen, I wanted to be a history professor. I know, no teen wants to do that. History professors didn’t even want to be history professors, they just kind of fell into it. I suspect most of us just fall into most of the things we do. I find it interesting to ponder all the coincidences that occur as we fall in and out of each other’s lives. I now realize my desire to be a professor stemmed from my inclination to analyze, dissect, and explain things. …

Free COVID Vaccinations Should be our Model for all Vaccines

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Last March, when the American public was beginning to wrap their minds around the pandemic, I wrote an editorial about the need for free vaccinations. That piece was published in The American Journal of Public Health behind a paywall, so I forgive you for not having read it. The thesis of the piece is for wealthy countries to freely vaccinate the world, not just for COVID-19 but for other respiratory pathogens as well. I argued, and still do, that we should do it for both moral and economic reasons; the current pandemic proves my point. …

On the occurrence of immortality

Image adapted from

On the plains of Kansas in the early 20th century, cottontail rabbits with strange horn-like protrusions were found by locals. After capturing some, these quizzical creatures were sent for analysis to the Rockefeller Institute in New York. Researchers there found that if they ground up these protruding growths and injected it into hornless rabbits, they too developed horns. This was a baffling outcome but within that result, lay an important clue.

It turned out that some of the previously healthy, newly injected rabbits went on to develop squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer. Upon closer, microscopic examination of…

How this Veteran sees that day.

Photo by Justin Casey on Unsplash

I can’t count how many times someone has wished me a Happy Memorial Day. I am quite certain this comes from a place of genuine sincerity; therefore I never respond outright negatively. In my mind, I imagine myself replying with a clear and direct “Thank you” and leaving it at that. In reality, it may not come across as friendly or appreciative as I hear it in my head.

I really don’t want to come across as ungrateful or rude, but it has probably happened more than once. I have reasoned that is exactly what would happen if I tried…

The real power of flu vaccination is in preventing a repeat of 1918.

Image adapted from

It takes special trains to carry away the dead. For several days there were no coffins and the bodies piled up…we used to go down to the morgue…and look at the boys laid out in long rows. It beats any sight they ever had in France after a battle.

The above quote comes from a physician at Camp Devens in Massachusetts regarding the 1918 flu pandemic. Colloquially known as the “Spanish flu”, it was by far the deadliest flu pandemic in human history. …

Ryan P. Gilley

Professional Scientist, Amateur Historian, Poor Mans Philosopher, probably some unsavory things as well.

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