By Yoichi Shimatsu
Asia’s longest river flows today like a sweet sonata under sparkling moonlight, hardly the untamed power of Beethoven’s Fifth that it was prior to its captivity by the Three Gorges, those cliff-enclosed high dams, which has quelled its raging spirit of torrent and deluge. My favorite spot by that waterway, at least for lost poetry, is on its lower reaches at Yangjizi or Swallow Rock, shaped like an arc-winged harbinger of spring swooping over a rippling current. A local folk story, as opposed to the official record of a pompous clan funeral, says that China’s greatest poet Li Po (or Li Bai as he’s known at home) climbed to its dizzy heights and declared “I am standing upon a gigantic wine cup and from here hope to swallow it all in one gulp.” Nowhere to be found in the master’s attributed works, it wasn’t listed among the greatest of his poems even though the imagery brims with the daring of a free-style rock-climber. No pitons, no ropes, no chalk and no worries. For the diminishing handful of locals in the adjoining ferry-dock village, recently ripped down to make way for multistory apartment buildings, the legend goes that Li Bai then slipped on a smooth boulder, lost his balance and plummeted into the clashing waves, disappearing forever, a most fitting end for the world’s most celebrated drunkard. On the evening prior to his demise, Li Po recited his last major poem, a depressing “Saying farewell to friends in Jiankang (Nanjing)”. He had sailed there on a tiny boat to see first-hand the glories of the old Southern Dynasty capital, a Camelot of idealism and romantic poetry as compared with the brute realism of venal corruption at the Tang imperial court of his own time, but his hopes were shattered by the sight of broken tiles and collapsed rubble of the old palace, ashes and bones strewn everywhere, and so drank himself into a stupor before plying downstream through the gloom. So the haiku challenge, friends and Taoist poets, is: What killed the world’s greatest poet? The turbulent dragon of a river or his own inebriated negligence? Here for example is my pathetic attempt at a jingle: “I came, I saw, I – fall, idiotic of me – for wanting it all.” You surely can wax more lyrical. Outbreak In A Food Court
Now a scary outbreak has just happened a bit upriver, in Wuhan, terrorizing the fish mongers and food vendors at the old city market, where in normal times one could order the famous Yangtze yellow croaker with delicate snowy flesh simmered in yellow wine, the endemic sturgeon deep fried with ginger, carp stewed in well-aged miso or an assortment of five small fishes from the steamer. Culinary center for gourmands, Wuhan is one of the last places where one can bite into a venomous snake deep-fried into half-moon pieces or chopped into slivers for an energy-reviving soup before heading to a massage parlor. There are even cute chunky marmots from the Qinghai grasslands for a tasty stir-fry with red chiles spiced with Sichuan prickly ash called “mala” or, if you prefer the raw green peppercorns, hujiao. Of course, there are ducks and other waterbirds, which are raised nearby in their millions in trenches and ponds. My advice to visiting foreign friends or wusses from Singapore has always been to wash down the piscine feast by tossing back healthy shots of baishu, white alcohol that makes rotgut vodka seem like Chanel perfume. I really don’t want to tell you why that’s recommended instead of sauvignon blanc. So foodies, act now and fly to Wuhan immediately because the newest government edict is to ban all fishing along the entire 6,300 km (3,800 miles) length of the Yangtze. Things have changed now that the 1,000 stalls are temporarily shuttered with warning signs posted at the entrances, after a reported 60 cooks and customers were hospitalized with severe breathing disorders caused by lesions on their lungs. In a breakthrough, a pathology lab identified the culprit as a coronavirus, similar to the viral strain that caused the 2003 SARS crisis that killed more than 750 people in Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Beijing. At the time of SARS, I was trapped in Hong Kong, due to being banned from reentering Japan and, so to kill time during the epidemic, organized a public-health information team of microbiologists and herbal practitioners to promote novel methods for preventing SARS infections with simple low-cost procedures that Hong Kong health official Margaret Chan adamantly opposed while nurses and doctors were dying in droves. As reward for her authorization of funding for a new vaccine, which take an average 12 years to develop, test in clinical trials and mass produce (and which never materialized since), Miss Glaxo-Kline-Wellcome-Pfizer-Bayer of 2003 was awarded with appointment as director of the World Health Organization (WHO), fueling paranoiac suspicions that the secret agenda is population reduction. Cone Valves Not For Ice Cream One of the top microbiologists on that SARS-AI team has suggested to me that the root cause of the present infectious outbreak in Wuhan has to do with a vast range of mutations in the underwater biota inside the Three Gorges Dams. The vegetal matter, including fallen leaves, sunken trees and sewage, have radically altered the dietary possibilities for microorganisms, their oxygen supply and resistence to chemical exposure under enormous depth pressure, spurring genetic mutations by hundreds, perhaps thousands of microorganism species. Much of these genetically altered variants were trapped at lower levels under tons of rainwater and runoff, but recently the cone valves in the lower section of the Three Gorges dams have been released to relieve stress on the dam walls, which have been warping due to steel-bending under higher-than-estimated pressure levels from the original engineers and designers. The output, at explosive force, has shot out the mutant species into contact with a million times more oxygen, spurring a second round of mutation. Therefore a more mutation-prone variant of coronavirus is one candidate for research, as a serious emerging threat to human health, and there may be even more toxic pathogens now gestating inside fish, water birds and mammals exposed to the Yangtze waters. By an odd stroke of what I thought as bad luck, being forced out of China by total censorship, may prove to have been a life-saver for me, while the censors themselves start to fear the drip of tap water. One disturbing clue is perhaps important, and that is oxygen deprivation that these species have suffered over hundreds of generations by now, which explains why this first of possibly many new pathogens is targeting the lungs of patients, burrowing into lung tissue to get at oxygen-carrying corpuscules, apparently to directly source oxygen from the red blood cells. If so, the blood-thirsty pathogen can be expected to “excavate” and hollow out the internal organs and respiratory system in its hunt for hemoglobin. If this turns out to be its objective, then we are dealing with an army of millions of micro-vampires inside the human body, seeking a route to break into new human victims, a potential threat far more threatening than the burrowing creatures in the Alien series.
Full Article On Dam Bending HERE The dam operators are denying the visible evidence of structural bending at the Three Gorges, a sign that either the national leadership is too nervous to break the bad news or perhaps none of the engineers and medical researchers have told them any details at yet. Before pushing the envelope containing this message, take a deep breathe and hope, and if there is a moment for prayer, pray that China is not engulfed under a viral tsunami. However the censors and their bosses may hate it, the truth and openness to possible scenarios, for strategic planning and tactical response, is what saves lives and not the silent epidemic of censorship. The majority of deaths during the SARS crisis could have been saved, if people were willing to face the harsh facts and accept alternative solutions. Bug Busters Through it all in Hong Kong, and later during the avian influenza outbreak in Thailand, colleagues on our innovative team cured SARS with herbal therapy and then went on to shut down bird flu by encouraging poultry growers to stop using chlorinated water for chickens (chlorine destroys the paramecium host of the virus, which mutates away from the threat by jumping onto other species as temporary hosts). A paramecium is a one-cell microorganism that looks, through a microscope, like an ancient Roman galley ship with lots of oars, and its conversion of waterborne detritus into sugars provide the basic diet for the sweet-toothed coronavirus, which attacks lung cells only when deprived of those natural sugars by chlorine poisoning of the water supply.
Though this may seem to be a round-about way of discussing the Wuhan outbreak, you by now should understand the relationship between sugar and potentially lethal virus mutations. They need to get energy by eating, nothing extraordinary in that behavior. So far, Chinese medical authorities have claimed that the airborne transmission between humans is nothing to fear. That’s only due to my expert team recommendation in the SARS crisis (ignored at first but later quietly implemented) was to install virus-suppressing aircon systems in wards and hallways of hospitals. Airborne transmission happens only when viruses are abundant in the indoors air. If someone coughs over a steamy seafood hotpot, the odds of being the next patient will rise exponentially. The Dream of Green Energy In China, it is taboo to assign blame on the Three Gorges Dam, 300 kilometers upstream from Wuhan, for any sort of problem, environmental, social or medical, even though it’s the 600-kilogram gorilla in the Wuhan food court. That series of huge hydropower dams (Greta Thunberg, please take note that it’s the world’s biggest green-energy project ever, which replaced dozens of coal-fired plants) had the immediate effect of stopping Old Man Yangtze from flushing out the annual build-up of carcasses of dead animals, sewage leakage, farm waste including pesticides and fertilizer, urban gunk like illegally dumped motor oil in gutter runoff or tons of plastic. The surface of the Yangtze is now as flat as a broad noodle, with gentle waves lightly moving sideways in the wake of passing freighters and sand-hauling barges rather than downstream. In its lower reaches, the tides from the Pacific are the only natural source of water motion, meaning that along most of the river’s length the filth settles to the bottom or floats idly as particles. Now imagine the sickening stench if your toilet stopped flushing, increasing the bacterial load in your indoor air. Whew! Stay out of the commode and drive to Walmart to use their sterilized facilities! And pick up some air freshener and hire a plumber. Pescivore Attacking Frugivores Life adapts to nearly any challenge, and viruses must survive kill-offs of its host paramecia by finding another host, just like a person must move on and find a new job after the boss fires you. Following a forest fire or an attack by leaf-shearing locusts, coronavirus will locate another sugar producer, including humans for good reason of our sweet tooths, as is happening again 17 years after the Guangzhou-Hong Kong outbreak, when the bug jumped from toddy cats (civets who drink naturally fermented palm-sugar wine in date trees.). After imbibing the virus-bearing paramecia, these civet cats were shipped in cages from Indonesia’s Kalimantan region on the island of Borneo to the restaurant tables of South China in 1993, where their meat was served up as an aphrodisiac, or as the Chinese put it, to make a man stronger, for you can guess what. So fruit-eating animals or frugivores, bats for example, can become a carrier of coronavirus and ebola if there are no paramecia left to host the virus. A frugivore fish may sound strange, since fishes are not usually swimming on trees. Yet in hotter regions of the world, wild figs and dates drop by the millions into the Amazon and along the upper Nile. Frugivore fish have pharyngeal teeth, which are molars set back into their jaws, so that they can fill their mouths with soft food to mash with those grinders. This feeding habit raises the question, which variety of fish from either the Amazon or the Nile is most abundant in Chinese aquaculture and on dinner tables? Surely, not the piranha. It is the tilapia, which when raised in aquaculture ponds subsists on a high-carbohydrate cereal diet for rapid weight gain. Cereals, of course, contain high starch content that is readily converted into sugars, a perfect diet inside ponds that house coronavirus when their host paramecia are killed off by pesticides. Tilapia aquaculture requires vast amounts of insecticides to suppress sea lice along with other parasites feeding on the biological detritus from the stagnant waters flowing down from the Three Gorges into surrounding ponds and lakes used for fish-raising. Unfortunately the vast amount of industrial chemicals and pharmaceuticals in the river, for example medications flushed through humans and expelled in urine, are toxic for microorganisms like the paramecium, and so its death throes trigger rapid mutation by the coronavirus to escape into another temporary host species, meaning water fowl, pigs and humans (the unwholesome trinity for contagious diseases). Sugar-Coated Toxins The Chinese, with their new addiction to gluttony after a centuries of mass starvation and opium dependency, are suffering from over-consumption of toxin-laced foodstuffs that promote obesity and immune-deficiency. The ongoing swine flu epidemic that destroyed the national pig herd over the past year is a case in point, hogs being fed on a high-carb diet, which lowers disease-resistance and weakens immunity. Fattening in the waters sourced from the Three Gorges, tilapia are the pigs of aquatic species. How to survive the sugar-and-virus cycle? Having been recurrently exposed to pathogens and radioactivity during field research, my diet objective is to avoid carbs, fruit and surgary gunk like ice cream, or sticky distractions like eggs, and try to subsist on meat and internal organs from grass-fed herbivores grazing in less contaminated pastures, basically cattle and sheep, even if that means a lot of hotdogs, your essential vampire diet. By reducing consumption of chemical-tainted vegetation down to red and yellow roots and avoiding greens laced with radioactivity and e-coli, this survival strategy is basically counter-vegetarian and anti-sweetness to cope with a near-total toxic environment. No tilapia or other fish either, unless forced to by courtesy toward bar owners in Fukushima. Having a sour attitude toward food, as in heaps of sauerkraut, is essential in this Dark Age upon us, a regimen that enabled me to survive SARS, bird flu (in the heart of the infection zone) and radioactivity. By contrast, foodies are zombies, since the fastest way to die horribly is not to restrict one’s diet. Neither are gay bathhouses recommended for survivalists for reasons of other viruses. Then again, for those who don’t care about longevity, but only that life is short and sweet, why not fly across the Pacific to gorge yourself on the Big Three dining pleasures of roast pork, farm-grown fish and delicious fruits. Just be sure to wash down the feast with a long swill of a liter or thereabouts of 60 percent (120 proof) white lightning to kill the bugs. Bon Apetit! Crawdaddies Make Your Skin Crawl
While I’m at it, going down my list of dietary restrictions, or you could call them phobias, there’s crayfish aka crawdaddies or as called cutely in Mandarin “xiao longxia” (little lobsters). While returned to an online media office near the banks of the Yangtze river two summers back, I spotted some shiny specks poking out of a dried-up pond down below the office windows and so took a photo but never looked at it. Later, after arrival of autumn rains, I noticed an intruder trying to break the wing of a big white bird, an egret, on a dry patch in the pond. So I opened a window and started taking pictures of the wildlife abuse. When the assailant heard my shouts, he looked up in surprise and rushed over to hide in the tall reeds, as I continued snapping to get a close-up. I asked an intern to phone the environmental agency and email them the photos. Meanwhile, the egret struggled to stand up, hobbled unsteadily and then flew off, to my relief, while the criminal slipped away in the opposite direction. The Chinese staffers reacted in disbelief to my loud comment: “If this was the USA, I would shot that bast, bad guy.” One of the youths protested: “But it’s only an animal.” My response was typically Americano: “And so are you,” adding “I wouldn’t shoot to kill but to help him understand what the rest of life is like with a broken wing.” The provincial environment office said to send over the evidence. As my temper cooled, I downloaded the suspect’s photos, and then thought to check on that earlier photo of the shiny white spots, and retrieved the file. They were skeletons, and I recognized them. “That’s Big Girl, the Saint Bernard from next door and the two others were stray mutts with the others who live at the factory across the way.” Then it dawned on me. A gang of poachers was raising crayfish and fresh-water crabs in the pond to sell to restaurants, and pumped up their profits by feeding their crustaceans with the bodies of local dogs they tied down in the muck.
I explained this crime against people’s stolen pets and the bacteriological threat to diners, and then asked these college students: “After witnessing what just happened, would you still eat crayfish?” The unanimous answer, that being China and they being Chinese, was “Of course, they’re delicious.” It was the great novelist and commentator Lu Xun who wrote that essay on the history of China being a story of cannibalism, and since the Shang Dynasty of 4 millenia ago, some cravings have not ceased (the same can be said of Mexico for anyone’s who’s ever eaten a ceremonial dish of posole). There are recent stories, which I will not get into here, or I will ruin your appetite forever. So there in a tiny crayfish shell is why 60-plus patients and probably hundreds, maybe thousands more unreported “victims” of coronavirus have been felled in Wuhan, after consuming floating garbage and someone’s pet, just upstream a short distance. My favorite quote about food addiction is: “Gluttony is an emotional escape, being a sign that something is eating us.”