Pixel Scroll 5/25/20 Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Pixels How Do You Measure, Measure A Scroll?

(1) THE SANTA FE. Now he’ll really be George Railroad Martin: “George R. R. Martin Buys Part of Historic Santa Fe Railroad”.

George R. R. Martin, who wrote the book series that was adapted into the HBO series “Game of Thrones,” and two co-investors have bought an abandoned, 18-mile spur railroad line from Santa Fe to Lamy, New Mexico, with the intent of restoring it to its former glory as a tourist attraction, The Business Insider reported on Monday.

No price was mentioned for the purchase, which also includes 10 antique rail cars, two vintage locomotives, and a station house at Lamy currently leased by Amtrak that is part of its twice daily line from Chicago to Los Angeles.

“There are a lot of opportunities for a new tourist attraction,” Martin told the Albuquerque Journal. “COVID has thrown a monkey wrench into our plan. We had hoped to get things up and running in 2021, but now it won’t be until 2022.”

I’ve caught a train at the Lamy station, after visiting my sister in Santa Fe. It’s miles out of town — despite the city’s iconic railroad name, the Amtrak line doesn’t run through the city.

Martin explains his plans in more detail in his blog post “All Aboard for Lamy” which concludes:

…It is going to take a lot of work, more than a few bucks, and a fair amount of time to get the railroad running again.   There are tracks and trestles to inspect and repair, old historic coaches to restore to their former splendor, a dead locomotive to bring back to life.   And the coronavirus has slowed the process way down.   But sooner or later, we do hope to have the old Lamy Line chuffing and puffing once again, and we have all sorts of fun ideas for the future, live music and murder mysteries and train robberies and escape rooms and… well, we shall see.

And best of all, we won’t need to pull up the tracks when Christmas is over.

(2) CON CANCELLATION. Pulpfest, planned for August, has been cancelled, too. They made the announcement today: “There is Nothing Wrong with Your Television Set . . .”

…We regret to announce that PulpFest is being postponed until August 2021.

Although it is likely that businesses and events in the region where PulpFest is staged will be allowed to resume operations in June, they will have to follow guidelines issued by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

…Given the substantial risks involved and our desire to maintain the health and well-being of our many supporters, the PulpFest organizing committee voted unanimously to postpone this year’s convention until early August 2021.

(3) LEAP, BUT NOT QUANTUM. Chancellor Agard, in “Watch Legends of Tomorrow jump from Friends to Downton Abbey in exclusive sneak peek” on Entertainment Weekly discusses tomorrow’s episode, where the Legends jump from the world of a show like Friends to one like Downton Abbey to one like Star Trek.

(4) A HORSE, OF COURSE. Yesterday was the thirtieth anniversary of the debut of the third Back to the Future movie. Yahoo! Entertaiment put together a quiz — “‘Back to the Future Part III’ turns 30: Take this quiz to test your knowledge”. I really blew this one – only 6 out of 14. And one of my right answers was about how special effects manure was made – am I supposed to be proud of that?

… On May 24, 1990, the final film in Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale’s Back to the Future trilogy premiered in theaters. Directly picking up from the cliffhanger of 1989’s Back to the Future Part II, where Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) and the DeLorean time machine accidentally being struck by lightning, sending him back to the Old West. Part III picks up with Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) traveling to 1885 to rescue Doc and return him to the present. 

(5) SPACE FORCE REDUX. Netflix dropped a second trailer for Space Force, which they have cleverly called Space Force Trailer 2.

Steve Carell was also on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Thursday  promoting Space Force but he doesn’t talk about the show until 5-1/2 minutes into the segment.

(6) STILES REMEMBERED. Balticon 54’s website includes a tribute to the late fanartist: “In Memoriam: Steve Stiles (1943-2020)”. Includes lots of photos and art.

Steve Stiles became a science fiction fan in 1957; he’d been illustrating fanzines from then until his death, earning him the first Rotsler Fan Artist Award in 1998, and a Fan Artist Hugo in 2016. Professionally, he worked in numerous comic book genres since 1973 (horror, super hero, science fiction, humor), including the award-winning Xenozoic Tales and perhaps the first steampunk graphic novel, The Adventures of Professor Thintwhistle, with author Richard Lupoff.


May 25Towel Day which is celebrated by fans every year on May 25 as a tribute to the author Douglas Adams. Fans carry a towel with them as described in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The commemoration was first held May 25, 2001 two weeks after Douglas Adams’ death. [Via Rocketmail.]


  • May 25, 1977 Star Wars premiered. Later retitled as Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, it was written and directed by George Lucas. You know who the cast is so we’ll not list all of them here. Lucas envisioned the film as being in the tradition of Buck Rodgers which he originally intended to remake but couldn’t get the rights to.  Reception by critics and fans alike was fantastic with IguanaCon II voting it the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo over Close Encounters of The Third Kind. It holds a stellar 96% rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 
  • May 25, 1983 Return of the Jedi, the last of the original trilogy, premiered. Later retitled Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, it came out six years after Star Wars. It is directed not by Lucas this time but by Richard Marquand from a screenplay by Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan who co-wrote Raiders of the Lost Ark.  The principal cast is the same as the first film. Critics were ever so slightly less pleased with this concluding film of the trilogy but the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it an equally stellar 94% rating as the first film. It would win The Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo at L.A. con II beating Right Stuff and WarGames. Box office wise, it sold more tickets for most of its first eight week American run than any other film.  


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 25, 1915 – DeeDee Lavender.  Four decades an active fan with her husband Roy.  Together they were Secretary-Treasurer of the Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n in 1950.  They were at Aussiecon I the 33rd World Science Fiction Convention (I wasn’t), and Noreascon II the 38th (I was).  They’re in Harlan Ellison’s forewords to his collections I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream and Angry Candy; they knew Leigh Brackett & Edmond Hamilton, and were guests at the B&H homes in Ohio and California.  They were part of a Southern California fannish social group called the Petards, named by one of Rick Sneary’s famous misspellings, hoist for host.  Here she is with Roy at a Petards meeting in 1983 (Dik Daniels photo), and thirty years earlier in New York (L to R, Bea Mahaffey, Hannes Bok, DeeDee, Roy, Stan Skirvin; Mike Resnick collection).  (Died 1986) [JH]
  • Born May 25, 1916 – Charles Hornig.  Publishing his fanzine The Fantasy Fan in 1933, thus First Fandom (i.e. active by at least the first Worldcon, 1939), and hired, age 17, by Hugo Gernsback to edit Wonder Stories.  Founded the Science Fiction League with HG, 1934; later edited Fantasy; also Future and Science Fiction (they eventually combined); SF Quarterly.  See his notes on Nycon I, the first Worldcon, here.  (Died 1999) [JH]
  • Born May 25, 1926 – Phyllis Gotlieb.  Prix Aurora for A Judgement of Dragons (note spelling; she was Canadian).  The Sunburst Award is named for her first novel.  Thirteen SF novels, twenty shorter stories, eight poetry collections (the first being Who Knows One?).  Translated into Dutch, French, German, Italian.  Among her husband’s Physics students was Cory Doctorow’s father.  (Died 2009) [JH]
  • Born May 25, 1946 Frank Oz, 74. Actor, director including The Dark Crystal, Little Shop of Horrors and the second version of The Stepford Wives, producer and puppeteer. His career began as a puppeteer, where he performed the Muppet characters of Animal, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, and oh so patriotic Sam Eagle in The Muppet Show, and Cookie Monster, Bert, and Grover in Sesame Street. Genre wise, he’s also known for the role of Yoda in the Star Wars franchise. An interesting Trivia note: he’s in the Blues Brothers as a Corrections Officer, and is the Warden in Blues Brothers 2000. (CE)
  • Born May 25, 1946 Janet Morris, 74. Hey I get to mention Thieves’ World! Yea! In that universe, she created the Sacred Band of Stepsons, a mythical unit of ancient fighters modeled on the Sacred Band of Thebes. She has three series, both listed as SF though I’d call one of them fantasy,  the Silistra quartet, the Kerrion Space trilogy and the Threshold series. And let’s not over overlook her Heroes in Hell series she wrote,most co-authorEd with her husband Chris Morris, some with C J Cherryh and David Drake. (CE)
  • Born May 25, 1950 – Kathryn Daugherty.  Engineer.  Married four decades to James Stanley Daugherty.  Back when FORTRAN wasn’t even Two-tran she fed punch-cards to a Control Data CDC 6400.  For ConFrancisco the 51st Worldcon, Official Editor of the con committee’s APA (Amateur Press Ass’n, a collection of fanzines) The Never-Ending Meeting.  At Bucconeer the 56th Worldcon, headed Contents of Tables; a typo made it “Contests of Tables”: in each newsletter I announced “Today’s winner is the Picnic”, “Today’s winner is the Periodic”.  Chaired Westercon LIII, a hard one: it was at Honolulu, see my report here [PDF; p. 11].  Luckily not exhausted; she and JSD were Fan Guests of Honor at Baycon in 2001, and Loscon XXXI (2004).  Joined me in liking Mission of Gravity.  Obituary by OGH here.  (Died 2012) [JH]
  • Born May 25, 1952 Al Sarrantonio, 68. His horror short stories are brilliant and they‘ve earned him a Stoker for 999: New Tales of Horror and Suspense and a Jackson for Stories: All-New Tales, the latter co-edited with Gaiman. His Masters of Mars series is SF and he’s written a Babylon 5 novel as well, Personal Agendas. (CE)
  • Born May 25, 1953 – Stan Sakai.  Lettered Groo the Wanderer comics; since 1984, author of Usagi Yojimbo comics about samurai rabbit Miyamoto Usagi, who has (wouldn’t you know it) crossed paths with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  The rônin lifeis hard.  During the most recent Year of the Rabbit (2011), the Japanese-American Nat’l Museum in Los Angeles had an Usagi Yojimbo exhibit.  Sakai has won a Parents’ Choice award, an Inkpot, six Eisners, an Inkwell, two Harveys, two Haxturs (Spain), a Plumilla de Plata (Mexico), a Cultural Ambassador award, and a Nat’l Cartoonists Society award.  [JH]
  • Born May 25, 1960 Eric Brown, 60. Well-deserved winner of two BSFA awards for his short stories, “Hunting the Slarqye” and “The Children of The Winter”.  He’s very prolific, averaging a novel a year over the past three decades and countless novellas and short stories. As far as SF goes, I’d start with his Binary System and Bengal Station series, both of which are superb. And I’m going to single out his Sherlock Holmes metaverse novel, The Martian Menace, in which The Great Detective meets and defeats those Invaders. (CE)
  • Born May 25, 1966 Vera Nazarian, 54. To date, she has written ten novels including Dreams of the Compass Rose, what I’d called a mosaic novel structured as a series of interlinked stories similar in to The One Thousand and One Nights that reminds a bit of Valente’s The Orphans Tales. She’s the publisher of Norilana Books which publishes such works as Catherynne M. Valente’s Guide to Folktales in Fragile Dialects, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress anthologies,and Tanith Lee’s Lee’s Sounds and Furies. (CE)
  • Born May 25, 1982 – Bertrand Bonnet.  Six dozen reviews in Bifrost (French-language prozine; European SF Society award for Best Magazine, 2016), of Blish, Le Guin, Pohl (with and without Kornbluth), Resnick, Tolkien (including the Letters, yay).  [JH] 


  • Non Sequitur’s birds learn about their ancestors.
  • Non Sequitur sells foresight.
  • Non Sequitur has an SJWC intervention.
  • Mikey Heller drew a comic about a cat café. It’s got sjw credentials, sf, everything!

(11) LID OVERFLOW. In The Full Lid 22nd May 2020 Alasdair Stuart takes a look “at how now is very much the time for Strange New Worlds and what the Short Treks set on Pike’s Enterprise can teach us about the show’s tone.”

I also take a look at excellent, furious and overlooked movie Assassination Nation and Bog Bodies, a superb crime graphic novel out this week. Signal Boost is big this week but the YA/MG Author spotlight that follows it is much bigger and full of amazing books.

This week Stuart also launched The Full Lid Plus! A monthly supplement covering Disney Plus.

It’s first issue covers what we learn in the first for episodes of The Mandalorian and looks at award winning free-climbing documentary Free Solo. Oh and Will Smith sings.

The Full Lid Plus is published monthly and run off a paid subscription model, Details at the link.

Stuart’s Hugo Voting Packet for 2020 is also available at his website. “It touches on all my non-fiction work, has links to every piece and a consolidated PDF of everything too.”

(12) NO GO. It barely got out of California:“Virgin Orbit rocket fails on debut flight”

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit company has tried unsuccessfully to launch a rocket over the Pacific Ocean.

The booster was released from under the wing of one of the UK entrepreneur’s old jumbos which had been specially converted for the task.

The rocket should have ignited its engine seconds later but engineers had to terminate the flight.

Virgin Orbit’s goal is to try to capture a share of the emerging market for the launch of small satellites.

It’s not clear at this stage what went wrong but the firm had warned beforehand that the chances of success might be in the region of 50:50.

The history of rocketry shows that maiden outings very often encounter technical problems.

The firm is sure to be back for another attempt pretty soon – depending on the outcome of the post-mission analysis.

(13) FLOCKING OFF. [Item by John A Arkansawyer.] I just noticed this monologue from the May 18th Late Night with Seth Meyers. There was no genre-related sketch that night. However!

When Seth Meyers first started broadcasting from home, he apparently (to my eyes, at least) ordered several feet of cheap respectable-looking trade paper and hardcover books from a local used book store. One that caught my eye was Shardik, which has a lot of whitespace on the spine and that weird symbol. The two copies of a book about Thessalonica were the big tip-off to me these were surplus and not garage detritus.

And then there was The Thorn Birds. No one seemed to believe Seth Meyers was a Thorn Birds fan.

Soon Meyers moved out of his garage and into his attic, where he has a plain backdrop…and an end table with a small stack of books. I’ve seen two dust-jacketed books claiming to be The Thorn Birds and one unjacketed copy between them. The Janelle Monae clip has a stack of Thorn Birds, Thorn Birds II: More Thorns, and Thorn Birds III: Something written in script too fine for me to read.

But the best one yet you can see in this clip, in the lower left-hand corner:

(14) JUST WHEN THE PREZ LEARNED HOW TO PRONOUNCE IT. BBC reports “WHO halts trials of hydroxychloroquine over safety fears”.

Testing of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for coronavirus has been halted because of safety fears, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

Trials in several countries are being “temporarily” suspended as a precaution, the agency said on Monday.

It comes after a recent medical study suggested the drug could increase the risk of patients dying from Covid-19.

(15) DON’T KNOW HOW GOOD YOU’VE GOT IT. And we close with this benediction from The Onion: “Nation’s Politicians, Law Enforcement, Corporate Executives Marvel At Futuristic Utopia They’re Living In”.

“To think that I have all this at my fingertips, whether it’s automated high-volume stock trading or unlimited surveillance footage of my employees, it’s like something out of a science fiction paradise,” said pharmaceutical executive Ron Pollard, who claimed previous generations of police officers, elected officials, and business leaders could never comprehend the world of unlimited possibilities that has been created for them, where they are free to do whatever they want all the time.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Lise Andreasen, Cat Eldridge, Alasdair Stuart, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]

71 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/25/20 Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Pixels How Do You Measure, Measure A Scroll?

  1. @Cora Buhlert–

    I just heard a report on the new today that India is increasing the production of hydroxychloriquine and is planning to use it to treat COVID-19 patients. Besides, Indian doctors are likely more familiar with the drug, its risks and side effects, since malaria still is an issue in India. Maybe this will generate some useful data that tells us if and under what circumstances hydroxychloriquine is effective.

    The company is increasing production because, for now at least, they have an increased demand.

    Doctors in India likely do have a lot more experience with hydroxychlorquine, its risks, and its side effects–in malaria. Which is a very different disease than COVID-19. And any opinion they have on its usefulness against COVID-19 are just as much anecdata as anyone else who hasn’t done controlled studies yet.

    India produces excellent doctors, and excellent medical research doctors. But there haven’t been hydroxlychloroquine COVID-19 controlled studies, yet. Why do I say that? Because Indian medical researchers are quite familiar with getting their papers published, and actively participate in international medical research communication, and nothing turns up from India when I’m seeing lots and lots of controlled trials of various sizes and kinds, on the use of hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19.

    And yes, Dann, they’ve tested different dosages, and different timing of doses, and different times during the course of the disease.

    All of those trials that include controls have at best shown no useful effect, and have mostly shown increased death. These have been the kind of studies that get cut short early, because ethical researchers can’t ethically continue them, because they are killing the patients.

    The next controlled study that shows a medically positive effect will be the first.

    And at some point, someone has to say, enough is enough.

  2. According to the news report I saw (only in German alas), the Indian Council for Medical Research is well aware of the WHO warnings, but is recommending the use of hydroxychloriquine under certain circumstances anyway, because tests carried out in India (mostly, the drug was given to people living in cramped conditions, where social distancing is difficult to imposisble, for prophylactic purposes) showed little to no side effects. I assume they used the lower dose used for malaria prophylaxis. Specifically, they want to administer hydroxychloriquine to medical personnel for prophylaxis under strict medical supervision.

    There did seem to be a hint of desperation along the lines of “If we administer it right, it won’t hurt and it might help” in the whole plan, but I doubt that the medical council would deliberately endanger the lives of medical personnel or kill patients.

    Of course, this does not mean that people should use hydroxychloriquine, unless prescribed and under medical supervision, because the drug is dangerous. Nor does it mean that the drug actually does have any medical benefit – at least not against COVID-19.

  3. @Dann665: I’m getting things from all directions and what I said is modest hyperbole, but contains the requisite kernel of truth. It contains something about the size of a kernel, but much less productive; what you said is not by any means modest hyperbole. What you are proposing is the same sort of false equivalence I’m seeing in a periodic local column about attempts at common ground; there is just no comparison between mainstream criticism of the Cheetoh and the liquid manure flowing from him and his — and the extreme criticism, most of which still has more truth than the average remark from Trump, doesn’t get a fraction of the attention and circulation.

  4. Dann665: All you have to do is look at free trade to see how things have flipped. The GOP used to be pro-free trade while the Dems opposed it. Now that the President opposes free trade, both sides have flipped positions.

    Actually, no. You have do a lot more than that, if you want to make a believable point. You have to provide specific examples of who has flipped, what they were saying before, and what they’re saying now, and draw a line which makes it clear that the change in stance is due to Trump’s change in stance.

    This is just more bogus strawman stuff.

    And I’ll point out something I’ve pointed out before:
    Liars are convinced that everyone lies.
    Thieves are convinced that everyone steals.
    People who will oppose things just to be contrary and obtuse are convinced that everyone else behaves the same way, too.

    This is why the Puppies were so convinced in 2016 that if they put popular works on the Hugo slate, Worldcon members would be “forced” to No Award works they actually liked.

    Of course, that didn’t happen, because Worldcon members are smart enough to be able to distinguish between good work and crap, and aren’t going to No Award something they genuinely believe is award-worthy just because it was slated by the Puppies.

    This was something that Puppies were unable to get their heads around, because the vast majority of them are people who will oppose things just to be contrary and obtuse — and they’re convinced that everyone else must be the same way.

    If you believe this too, then you might want to be taking a good, hard look at yourself. Everytime you make these sorts of false arguments, you just damage your credibility even further. I don’t know where you spend most of your time hanging out on the internet, but it seems to be causing major damage to your ability to think rationally.

  5. @Lis Carey

    I would appreciate links to those credible reports of doctors suggesting that they are using hydroxychloroquine successfully in certain cases,

    Okay. “This first report on pharmacological management of COVID 19 from South Korea revealed that HQ with antibiotics was associated with better clinical outcomes in terms of viral clearance, hospital stay, and cough symptom resolution compared to Lop/R with antibiotics or conservative treatment.”
    Another: “Hydroxychloroquine application is associated with a decreased mortality in critically ill patients with COVID-19”
    Another “Early Hydroxychloroquine Is Associated with an Increase of Survival in COVID-19 Patients: An Observational Study”

    I would appreciate links to those credible reports . . . that healthcare workers in some countries are taking it as a prophylactic measure.


    all the studies that include a control group have not shown good results.

    Not true; several of the studies linked above include control groups.

    Adding zinc to hydroxychloroquine may be the key; nearly all of the studies which are “bad news” for HQ do not include zinc (I say “nearly all” because I want to allow for the possibility that there are some that include zinc; I don’t actually recall any.)
    Link: ” we found that the addition of zinc sulfate to hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin was found to associate with a decrease in mortality or transition to hospice among patients who did not require ICU level of care.”

    Here is a Lancet op-ed laying out the case for the prophylactic use of HQ in India.

    There is plenty of evidence that supports continued investigation of HQ, both by itself and in combination with other drugs. There is also plenty of evidence that says it may not be helpful, and that it may even be counterproductive in specific circumstances. But to say, without any qualification, that it is not useful or is killing people is being just as ignorant of science as the president is being when he advocates its use without qualification.

  6. This blog (from Israel) provides a good deal of information about CV news and studies that I don’t see elsewhere. The blogger has a definite point of view, but he does include links to news and studies that support it and are in opposition to it.

  7. @bill–Those are promising links on hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19, but they are all preprints, i.e., not yet peer-reviewed, and none says that it has a control group.. But the authors were working with the assumption that they would be peer-reviewed, and they will be. So, promising, but “should not be used for clinical guidance.”

    The “Done” link–A study with 211 subjects, and no control group for PEP, and, the paper says, “no adequate control group.”

    Next link, again, preprint, no control group, appears to have been conducted in one facility only though I’m not betting my ice cream tonight on that last.

    Not interested in op-eds or blogs. The other links are to papers written in the expectation that they will be peer-reviewed; blogs and op-eds never are.

    But overall, yes, this is a serious response.

  8. @Lis Carey — You originally asked for “credible reports,” not peer-reviewed papers, so I think you are moving the goal posts here. At any rate, it can take as long as a year for a paper to move through preprint/peer review/corrections/final review/publication, so expecting to see peer-reviewed papers so soon after the start of the pandemic is very optimistic.

    none says that it has a control group

    Perhaps we are using different definitions of “control group”? I learned that when you are testing for effect, you have two groups — one which receives the agent being tested, and one which doesn’t, and you compare outcomes. The group which does not receive the agent is called the “control group”.

    The first paper I linked (“Okay”) had 22 patients with HQ + antibiotics, 35 patients with lopinavir/ritonavir + antibiotics, and 40 patients managed with “conservative treatment”. The group of 40 is the control group.
    The second paper (“Another” #1) had 568 patients, 48 of which received HQ, and the remaining 520 were a control group.
    The abstract for the third paper (“Another” #2) doesn’t give sufficient detail to cite numbers, but clearly there are patients which received HQ, and patients which did not, and the latter are the control group.
    You are correct that the paper in the “Done” link does not include controls, but it was cited to show the existence of the use of HQ as a prophylactic measure (as you requested), and not to show how effective it was. Obviously, a clinical demonstration of effectiveness would require a control group.
    The “Link” paper and the Lancet op-ed were provided as information only to any Filers who have stuck with us this far, and not in specific response to your posts.

    Not interested in . . . blogs.

    Your privilege, but if you are interested in the ongoing scientific progress on CV, and how the medical community is reacting to it, this blog contains links to many actual studies, and to serious commentary on them by what appear to be competent medical professionals. For example, today it mentions a paper describing protective T-cells for Covid-19 from previous SARS-1 exposure. Obviously, read everything linked with a critical and skeptical eye.
    And FWIW, I’ve read summaries of several studies that bad CV outcomes (read “death”) are strongly correlated with Vitamin D deficiencies (as are many other illnesses and pathologies). In other words, very few patients who die of CV have recommended levels of Vitamin D. And I’ve read in more than one place that zinc may have preventative/treatment effects on CV (sorry, no cites beyond the paper linked above); it has long been known to have general antiviral properties. Both Vitamin D and zinc, when taken in recommended doses, are safe and inexpensive. I and my family take supplements of both, and I suggest it to friends and extended family. YMMV.

  9. @Bill —

    Both Vitamin D and zinc, when taken in recommended doses, are safe and inexpensive. I and my family take supplements of both, and I suggest it to friends and extended family. YMMV.

    I take both as well, though for other reasons. I was amused to read today that some folks are advocating them for Covid — but at least these truly are harmless in recommended dosages!

  10. @bill:

    You originally asked for “credible reports,” not peer-reviewed papers, so I think you are moving the goal posts here.

    Nope. Not peer-reviewed = not credible. Even reviewed material has been withdrawn in the past, but reviewing at least provides some crosscheck that desperately-desired results can in fact stand up.

  11. @Chip Hitchcock — If you only count peer-reviewed as credible, then it is unrealistic to ask for credible reports this early in the game. The fact that I or others do not provide them is not because the hoped-for results do not exist, but rather that it takes more time than has occurred since the pandemic research started to get them through the system. Ask again in a year.

    And your outright rejection of preprints as non-credible puts you outside the mainstream of the scientific community. Preprint servers like Arxiv (hosted by Cornell Univ) for the physics and mathematics community, Chemrxiv for chemistry, bioRxiv and medRxiv (both hosted by the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory) for the biological sciences, are valuable means of communication in the scientific fields. All of these preprint servers do screen incoming papers; while not fully peer reviewed, the editors of these servers reject obvious bogus material, and screen for plagiarism and that which is potentially dangerous or way outside of accepted scientific norms. The National Institutes of Health in the US and the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council, both of the UK, all allow researchers to cite preprint papers in grant applications. Nobel laureates publish and cite preprints. Proof of the Poincare Conjecture, one of the seven Millennium Problems in mathematics, has been published only in preprint at Arxiv but has been accepted as “solved” (the mathematician responsible, Grigori Perelman, was offered the Fields Medal and the $1000000 Millennium prize for his work but did not accept them.) Individual papers published in preprint may end up needing correction or extension, but on the whole, preprints have been accepted as credible by scientists, and there is no reason to reject them simply because they are preprints.

  12. bill: If you only count peer-reviewed as credible, then it is unrealistic to ask for credible reports this early in the game.

    Exactly. This is the point that everyone has been making, which you keep refusing to acknowledge. There are no credible reports this early in the “game” — and you need to stop claiming that such reports exist.

  13. @JJ — Of course I refuse to acknowledge the point, because it is faulty. “Credible” and “peer-reviewed” are not synonyms, and aside from a few Filers, nobody I’ve ever run across treat them as such.
    The preprints I have cited are from respected scientists at mainstream institutions who are following rigorous accepted protocols — why would these not be credible? They have professional reputations to uphold, and don’t benefit from publishing shoddy research. Credibility comes from how the work is done, not from who reviews it. Credible doesn’t mean proven, it means likely to be so.

    Science is a process, and yes, peer-reviewed is a step further along the process than preprint. But it is an incremental step and not a quantum leap.

    If you want to say a particular paper isn’t credible because of a fault in methods or something, that’s a fair cop. But to say it isn’t credible because it hasn’t gone all the way through the process is dumb.

  14. bill: “Credible” and “peer-reviewed” are not synonyms, and aside from a few Filers, nobody I’ve ever run across treat them as such.

    Your lack of experience with people who are knowledgeable about what constitutes scientific credibility is not the same thing as a fact.

  15. @Bill —

    @Contrarius — If you’d like to see some serious, rather than amusing, discussion of the relationship between Vitamin D and Coronavirus:

    Nope, not today. I’m doing other stuff today than reading through and thinking about studies and so forth, which is why I haven’t become involved in that aspect of this discussion. But thanks for making the effort!

  16. @JJ

    Your lack of experience with people who are knowledgeable about what constitutes scientific credibility is not the same thing as a fact.

    And your unsupported assertions are no better.

    You’ve put a fair amount of bandwidth lately into insisting that positions not supported by peer-reviewed work are not credible. Well, back at you.

    Can you provide any third-party support for the position that preprints in general are not credible? I won’t be as rigorous on you as you are on me, in that whatever source you cite doesn’t have to come from a peer-reviewed paper. If you can provide a mainstream position from the scientific community (not some random individual scientist speaking on his own behalf) at large, I’ll accept that as (for lack of a better word) “credible”.

    I’m just looking for some sort of reasonable justification for this strange belief that scientific work is of no value at the preprint stage, but somehow “credibility” attaches after, and only after, peer-review.

    (And I’ll note that it was Lis who asked for credible reports, and that she accepted the reports I provided as “serious”. Lis, thanks for the civil interaction. It is greatly appreciated.)

  17. @bill–

    (And I’ll note that it was Lis who asked for credible reports, and that she accepted the reports I provided as “serious”. Lis, thanks for the civil interaction. It is greatly appreciated.)

    Careful, bill. I’m probably not the only one who notices that you’re saying this after having complained about the fact that I didn’t accept them as being as good as peer-reviewed papers.

    And they’re not. They’re a serious response because they’ve to reasonable certainty been done in expectation of peer-review and with the level of care that requires. Definitely more relevant than small, local studies with no control and no expectation of being submitted to peer-reviewed journals, or an op-ed, or a blog
    All of which, by the way, play a valid role in the scientific process, but no, they’re not peer-reviewed, and don’t provide the same level of support for any claim that peer-reviewed papers do.

    I spent much of my career as a librarian in pharma and biotech R&D. Knowing the difference between the different levels of credibility accorded to different types of papers really was a core part of my job.

    And when multiple different studies, run by different institutions and different mixes of scientists, testing different ideas about how a particular drug might successfully treat an illness, including different dosages and different times of starting the dosing, all start shutting down those studies because they’re seeing an increase in deaths rather than a decrease–you can fairly say that’s not peer review, but what it is, is medical researchers shutting down studies they had high hopes for, because killing patients is not the goal. That clear a “we can’t ethically continue this study” result isn’t common. It is very disturbing for the scientists involved. They really hate having to do that, but they do it because, if you get that clear a result, that’s what you.

    But they don’t do it lightly. It’s not a conclusion they want to come to.

    And yeah, when more than one group does it, it’s quite convincing. At least to people who aren’t holding on to fantasies.

  18. bill: You’ve put a fair amount of bandwidth lately into insisting that positions not supported by peer-reviewed work are not credible.

    I don’t know in what universe 2 comments comprised of exactly 58 words constitutes “a fair amount of bandwidth”, but maybe your universe is still running on dial-up.

    Lis has pretty much said exactly what I would have said, only more articulately. There are actually standards for “credible” medical research, and they’re not defined by you.

  19. I’ve been following Josh Marshall at Talking Points memo as he works through questions of credibility and research as a journalist without a scientific background. This article struck me as a good example of what can be accomplished, given the abilities and limitations of a competent non-scientific journalist:

    Big Questions about Blockbuster Hydroxychloroquine Study

    As you can see, he doesn’t come to any firm conclusions, except about the limitations of his knowledge. It’s not much, perhaps, but what it is, I find trustworthy.

  20. Here’s a blog post about hydroxychloroquine by a doctor/researcher: https://respectfulinsolence.com/2020/05/22/cult-of-hydroxychloroquine-versus-arrhythmias/

    His professional specialty is oncology, specifically breast cancer, but he has studied epidemiology as well as how unfounded ideas (both quackery and honest speculation) spread. (There’s a lot more about covid-19, hydroxychloroquine, and some of the suggestions from the crank fringe, like drinking bleach, on his website, but this seems most relevant.)

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