Book Review: ‘Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs’ by Michael T. Osterholm PhD MPH, Mark Olshaker

For what this is, it’s pretty invaluable.

I first heard of Michael T. Osterholm when he appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast to talk about the COVID-19 pandemic and gave his very informed and personal take on what’s going on. In fact, I’d implore people to watch that episode, just to have a better grasp on fact vs. fiction in a time when there is a lot of misinformation and fear floating around.

You can actually watch the episode on YouTube and I’ll link it at the end of the review.

This book goes through the history of Osterholm’s work in this field, as he breaks down how they scientifically figured out a lot of viral mysteries over the last few decades.

This also talks about how pandemics can be prevented and what needs to happen for the world to take these things more seriously and learn how to protect itself. In fact, the writing has been on the wall for awhile and things could have been done to manage the spread of deadly germs and viruses.

Deadliest Enemy is superbly written and frankly, everyone should read it, especially now. There needs to be a collected effort from as many people as possible to push our governments towards taking these threats more seriously. Plus, it would be in everyone’s benefit to understand this stuff on a factual level, as opposed to emotionally reacting to sensationalist headlines and social media rumors.

If it’s hard to find a physical copy of this book, which I imagine is probably true now that the COVID thing has hit us this hard, you can download the Kindle version (see here), which I did.

Rating: 9.5/10

Talking Pulp: A Few Words While Dealing With the “Mexican Lager Viral Event”

This coronavirus insanity has made the world go bonkers. I think people are just scared and allowing the media and others to work them up into a panic that makes them hoard strange things like toilet paper and garlic.

In the meantime, I’m trying to keep my head up, maintain as positive of an attitude as I can while trying to weed out the bullshit, hysteria and conspiracy theories, in an effort to digest just the facts and maintain a rational mindset.

Since I know that I get a lot more readers here than I have followers on Twitter, I thought that I’d share something that I said on that social media platform a few days ago:

As someone who’s lived thru multiple bad hurricanes, it’s important to see how these things bring us together, as opposed to fixating on the a-holes that turn to fear, panic & general douchery. There are more good people than bad, even though sometimes it doesn’t look that way.

I wanted to expand on that, though, as Twitter limits the size of your tweets and you can’t always jot down your complete thoughts in better detail or context with just 280 characters. Granted, most people these days can’t seem to process information larger than a sensationalist clickbait headline but I digress.

So, here we all are, at an interesting time in human history. It’s the start of a new decade, mainstream culture has gotten really weird the last few years and frankly, people nowadays bitch about absolute nonsense and are always looking to get offended because they’re seeking out conflict where there is none.

An intelligent, rational person would probably think that we no longer have any real problems because the ones that people seem to get so worked up about don’t remotely compare to the gravity of a World War, the Holocaust, the Cold War, the Great Depression, Vietnam, civil rights, the Civil War or a plague. Now people get hella pissed because the President tweeted out something rude and crass. Granted, I don’t think Twitter really benefits the guy but whatever, I’m not going to diarrhea all over the Internet about it.

My point is, what’s happening in the world, right now, could be the biggest thing that’s happened in a generation. I’m not discounting 9/11 but this COVID-19 pandemic has already directly affected a lot more people and it doesn’t look like it plans on slowing down, as the world’s greatest minds are doing what they can to try and limit the damage it is going to cause.

Many people think that the governments are overreacting and maybe they are but ultimately, this is a more serious problem than what many are seeing it as. The reason why it is this big of an issue is our lack of preparedness. The writing has been on the wall for quite some time and this virus could have been more effectively countered at a much earlier stage.

More than anything, I hope this is a lesson and that those who have the ability and the power to do something about this, will be much more vigilant in the future. The spread of viruses needs to be more of a priority and I’m speaking as someone that doesn’t like big government and is pretty laissez-faire. But if I’m paying taxes, which I always will, I’d rather it go towards science, medicine and technological advances that can enrich the future and make it safer.

Most of us are good people. Most of us want the best for not just ourselves but also our neighbors. We live in a world where technology has made us closer and our communities aren’t just our local neighborhoods. Collectively, we should be working to survive and thrive. It’s in all of our best interest to make sure that the world is healthy on all levels.

Yes, there will always be shitty, terrible people. But we can’t let those few speak and act for the rest of us. They aren’t us and I think that many people lose sight of that when they turn on the news and see spring breaking Millennials being self-absorbed dipshits or normal people, full of fear, fist fighting over toilet paper and snack cakes. These people aren’t the majority but it is really easy for the majority to get pulled into this destructive, paranoid orbit and become what they fear.

I know it’s become a cliche statement but everyone should be the change that they want to see in the world. Be better, be positive, try not to lose your cool in times like this and know that, most likely, most of us will get through this.

We’ve had a pretty easy existence for a long time but once in a while, shit hits the fan. This is shit hitting the fan. But how we handle it is up to us. You control how you respond to the shit that the world throws at you.

In the end, this will be much easier to get through if more people have each other’s backs and we all try to help where we can. The media just exists to make money off of our fear, paranoia and insecurity, so it is in their nature to try and generate more, especially in times like these.

Learn how to read through the bullshit. Know the facts. Don’t take every rumor or clickbait headline you read as a stone cold truth. But also, be vigilant in your own life when it comes to the safety of yourself and your loved ones.

Honestly, I feel like everything I’m saying here, should be common sense. But when my social media and news feeds are full of 95 percent negativity, I thought that I’d have to put something positive out there.

People keep talking about flattening the curve, well… we also need to flatten the fear, paranoia and negativity. We need to be rational, logical and willing to build the world up instead of tearing it down.

Lets treat this threat as a reminder that we need to look beyond petty differences and actually see the good in other people, regardless of politics, religion or whatever other bullshit that divides us.

Human beings have been wired to seek out conflict; it’s in our nature. But we can also evolve beyond that and try to be something better. It’s on us whether or not we destroy ourselves or reach a higher purpose.

I don’t want to lose faith in humanity, as I see good, kind acts every day. So maybe it’s time that we all start making a real effort to push the needle in the other direction.

Retro Relapse: 30 Things You May Find In a Man’s Beard That Aren’t Poop

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2015.

Recently, some asshole did some bullshit study about how beards are full of poop. That asshole was immediately put on blast as many came out to debunk that libel against masculine plumage.

Snopes, who fact checks the crap out of everything, even spent time debunking the agenda-riddled claims of a person who is probably a hairless feminist with a grab bag full of phobias (Snopes article here).

The fact of the matter is, if you are into facesitting or other ass-to-mouth sort of activities, you may just end up with some feces in your majestic beard. That also doesn’t mean that you can’t take a shower like a normal person after some intimate tomfoolery. With a good scrubbing, you can have a shit free beard.

The thing is, it is probably pretty goddamned rare that some dude is just going to have some shit chilling in his whiskers.

This is why I have comprised a list of thirty things that are more likely to be found in a manly man’s beard. And if any of these seem unsettling, you aren’t a manly man or wouldn’t be worthy enough to court one. And again, all it takes is a good scrubbing to clean one’s facial mane. Just be clean people.

So here are thirty things more likely to be in a beard than poop:

1. whiskey
2. beer
3. coffee
4. steak blood
5. scales from a devoured Alaskan king salmon
6. piece of a hot dog or sausage
7. a whole piece of bacon
8. tobacco
9. hot sauce
10. mushroom sauce from a schnitzel eating contest
11. toothpaste
12. soap
13. pine tar
14. motor oil
15. hay
16. drywall
17. sawdust
18. scorched bits of hair from blacksmithing
19. precious metals and minerals
20. slobber from our beast dogs
21. cat tongue residue
22. lipstick from an admirer
23. glitter from an aggressive stripper
24. sweat from doing sports or man stuff
25. old baseball cards
26. attractive girls’ phone numbers
27. broken shards from a devoured Rammstein CD
28. wild fur from headbutting a bison
29. diamonds from coal that wasn’t immediately scrubbed out
30. a family of new beards hiding in the safety and comfort of the older more robust beard

Retro Relapse: New Year? New You? Keep It Simple

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2016.

Resolutions are stupid and 99.9% of us fail at keeping them. They are too extreme and come with too much pressure. And then we beat ourselves up over some impossible task that we were so certain we would do before coming to the realization that we underestimated the difficulty of the change or we just didn’t think it through well enough.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I haven’t since high school, when it was pretty much customary to return to class after winter break and tell everyone what your resolution was. Back then, it was better grades, to be better at sports or the one you didn’t say out loud, to get with that hot chick in your chemistry class.

As an adult, people join the gym on January 1st, go on some extreme juice cleanse bullshit diet or decide to do some sort of extreme behavioral modification – thinking they can completely change on an instantaneous whim like magic. Shit just isn’t that simple. Well, joining a gym and staying fit is fairly simple but those who fail seem to push too hard, too fast, right out of their comfort zone – physically and mentally.

There is nothing wrong with bettering yourself. Hell, one of the key points of life and growing older, is bettering yourself. You learn from your mistakes, you make changes, you adapt and you improve as a human being and at finding what you’re good at, what you enjoy and who you truly are. That is why growing older is truly fucking awesome.

And yeah, it is January 3rd, as I write this. Maybe I’m a few days late at reaching out to people regarding the New Year’s resolution hysteria. But then again, many of you may have already faltered at your annual promise already. That’s fine. Fuck it. Don’t hate yourself over it. Instead, be a bit more realistic because maybe you went hardcore out the gate and immediately crashed into a wall.

Think about the end result of what you want to achieve. If it is weight loss, getting diesel or something else, think about the end result of your ideal goal achieved. Forget about the time, the amount of work involved and trying to take it all on at once. Make it your decision to reach that goal, no matter how long it takes and at what pace. If you fall today, move forward tomorrow. Starting at an extreme rate usually has an equally or greater extreme rate of crashing and burning. Know your pace and don’t kill yourself over it.

Again, I don’t do the whole New Year’s resolution thing. I make goals around the beginning of the year that I want to achieve. They aren’t resolutions and they have nothing to do with it being a new year. It just so happens that New Year’s Day is just after the holidays and my birthday, a period of time where I am the furthest away from being a master of diet and fitness. In fact, I am pretty much drunk from Thanksgiving till around January 2nd or so. It just so happens that the beginning of the calendar year is a good time to hit the reset button.

Anyway, I look at where I am, decide where I want to go and I work towards it. I don’t try to hike twenty miles on a mountain trail on day one; I start slow and work my way up. I approach it realistically. If I ran out of my house, hungover but gung ho, in an effort to scale mountains and epic distances, I’d probably fall down the side of the mountain sliding down a trail of my own bourbon-scented puke.

If you’ve already quit, get back on that damned horse and get back to it. Just slow your roll. Exist in reality, you aren’t a superhero.

My time for getting my shit together is tomorrow morning. I always start on my first day back to work after the holidays. Besides, who wants to actually start their “new you” bullshit on New Year’s Day, hungover and fiending for a bag of McMuffins and a bottle of Excedrin Migraine?

As long as you keep working towards your goal, you are succeeding. And failure today doesn’t mean failure tomorrow. Unless you continue to choose failure.

Retro Relapse: Men & Adventure

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2014.

Men need adventure. I don’t know why, it is just in our DNA. It is something that burns at our very core and something that needs to be quenched once in a while, otherwise we start to turn into some formless goo of a person.

Most men today, are this goo. I guess that’s good for bossy bitchy women, as their goo men are more or less putty in their hands. However, to the good not-so-bossy non-bitchy women out there, you’ve got to understand our thirst for adventure and respect it. Just like men need their other men friends to go out and be men and shit, they also need to feel like Indiana Jones every so often.

I hike for my health, sure. However, I could just walk on the sidewalk or go to easy trails and still get pretty good results. I choose to hike in dangerous, swampy, murky and reptile-infested places because it is an adventure. When I complete a ten mile hike in the Everglades or nearby, I don’t just feel a sense of accomplishment from the miles I walked, calories I burned and the hot Florida sun I absorbed. I also feel accomplishment from knowing that I once again conquered an area of the world that most people are deathly afraid of even going into. I certainly feel great from doing the physical challenge but I feel more elation from the adventure. The times I was in real danger, I walked away feeling high.

This doesn’t mean that a man needs to go out and do stupid shit and take ridiculous risks but facing hard and heavy shit and weathering the elements has a pretty big spiritual payoff and does wonders for the ego and a man’s sense of self. There are a lot of societal pressures on men, as to what makes a man. Well, first of all, fuck what anyone else thinks. Secondly, every man is different. Thirdly, one of the things that does make a man is adventure.

Finding adventure or even time for adventure in the modern world is difficult. We wake up, shower, eat breakfast, go to work, go to lunch, go back to work, go home, eat dinner, go to sleep, wash, rinse, repeat. That is our daily life and for some of us, we don’t really get to escape the modern adulthood cycle even on weekends. If we do escape work some days, it is usually replaced with errands. There is very little time for ourselves and when we have it, we are usually too exhausted to do anything about it.

As far as time goes, I do have the benefit of not having a wife and kids. I’m not saying that my lifestyle is preferable, it just is my lifestyle and it gives me the benefit of having more time to myself than most men my age. Although, I do have friends with wives and kids and a few of them are fortunate enough to have wives that allow them their time to themselves, as they also repay the favor, allowing their wives to have their own personal time. I think that’s a definite good sign of a strong marriage built on respect and understanding. But this post isn’t about marriage, so let me get back on track.

The thing is, you have to make time do get out there and do what you need to do to feed the fire inside. You owe it to yourself, you owe it to your significant other and your friends. If you have kids, you owe it to them because you certainly don’t want your kids to look back and remember you as that guy that would just conk out on the couch with a glass of whiskey every Sunday afternoon. The things that you really want for yourself and who you want to be ideally, are what you should be instilling in your children. Unless your ideal self and what you want for them is to be a semi-buzzed couch potato that can’t make it through the first half of a football game without passing out and snoring like a power chipper. And to the wives out there, is this who you wanted to marry?

Nowadays, adventure seems like something of the past that there isn’t room for in the modern world. Technology and innovation has changed a lot. For instance, nearly every inch of Earth has been explored and millions of people have scaled massive mountains. Treasure hunting has been reduced to retirees on Florida beaches with metal detectors and spades. Modern adventure has become a sort of simulation or a thing achieved through extreme quick fixes like bungee jumping, skydiving, base jumping, etc.

Personally, none of those appeal to me. I prefer roughing the elements on the ground and encountering seemingly life-threatening scenarios that way. Alligators and venomous snakes give me more of a rush, even though they mostly hightail it when you get near them. And I’ve yet to see a bear, boar, deer or panther that hasn’t ran away at the first sight of me. But there is always that chance of danger and being caught in the moment is what feeds my fire. But each man is different, you have to find what your thing is. Maybe figuring out what your favorite form of adventure is, could be an adventure in itself.

You can’t keep ignoring this part of yourself and tucking it away somewhere. It is a big part of what we are and not just men but human beings. Our entire history and our entire lives up until a few decades ago was nothing but adventure. That shit doesn’t just die because technology has made life easier. That’s like the best baseball player in the world quitting his sport to focus on playing MLB The Show from his couch. But that is essentially what we have done. We live vicariously through movies, video games and shit we see on the Internet but that doesn’t do anything other than make that fire burn more, at least for me. I’m not satisfied with simulation and watching someone else do it. I want the real thing.

Some guys are satisfied enough getting adventure through sports. It worked for me. I even raced cars for a bit and that did serious wonders for my adventurous soul. Everyone has got their thing or several things. It is imperative that you find it and act on it though.

It’s way too easy to keep making excuses and convincing yourself that you don’t have the time or energy to devote to anything other than your modern life cycle. Life isn’t about mundane cycles. Life is something you live and you aren’t living it passed out on the couch during your downtime. Teddy Roosevelt’s ghost is laughing his ass off right now.

Men need to experience and discover new things. Why have we stopped?

You see, adventure isn’t just about cheap thrills, adrenaline and the high you get, it is also about finding yourself, testing yourself and truly getting to know who you are, what you’re made of and pushing yourself even further than what you thought you could. That’s living life to the fullest and no one can say you wasted your time if you just went out and made the effort. You never know, you might like what you find.

Retro Relapse: The Truth About Strength & Resilience

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2014.

Whether you’re a man or a woman, chances are you’ve heard the phrase “You don’t know your own strength” at some point during your life. Never have truer words been spoken to you. It doesn’t matter if you are a strongman able to throw giant tires half the length of a football field or a petite girl trail running. Inside all of us lies more strength and resilience than we know. All it takes is that extra something to push it out of us.

I’ve had a few situations in my life where I’ve come to realize this after being faced with a scenario where I had to tap into something deeper in order to succeed or in some cases, survive. The most recent example came just yesterday, as I pushed myself harder than I should have and found myself in a potentially life-threatening situation.

I went hiking at Estero Bay Preserve, which I like due to the muddy and watery spots, as well as the changes in environment for a seemingly small area encased within the outer trail: a 4.5 mile loop. I have mapped out a course using every inch of trail available at this state park. My custom course is a hair over 6.5 miles, using unmarked trails I can extend it to about 10 miles. Yesterday, I attempted to do the 6.5 mile version because I knew that I could complete it in well under three hours and I needed to spend my day productively, as I was getting cabin fever sitting at home on a Sunday.

The mistake I made was starting at just before 1 p.m., as I usually start at 8-9 a.m. The reason why this was a mistake is that it was hot as shit outside. My weather app said it was 96 degrees but it said it felt like 105. It wasn’t unbearable when I started but by the time I got over 3 miles in, 96 degrees felt like 120. I found myself at a point in the trail where I was the furthest out and no matter which route I walked back, I had 3 miles ahead of me. In this situation, I chose the path of least resistance.

When things got unbearable, it hit me like a brick wall. Leading up to it, I felt myself getting hotter and I rested here and there but when it hit, it hit hard. I drank three liters of water, not to mention the two 20 oz. bottles I had within an hour before hiking. It didn’t seem to matter. My skin was extremely hot, my head felt like it was boiling inside and I was sweating profusely. When I got about another mile, I was still sipping on the water I had but I was no longer sweating. I felt the need to piss but my body couldn’t urinate. My vision was somewhat blurred and I was really sluggish as I continued down the trail. I was feeling the effects of what was close to becoming heat stroke.

Each time I got to a place with sufficient shade, I would rest for a few minutes out of the sun: sipping water. There weren’t a lot of shady areas, so the stretches between them seemed almost endless, as I struggled in the heat. When I got to some shade that I knew was less than a mile from my car, I could feel myself getting worse, even as I laid in the shade. I was alone, no one was there and I had to rely on myself to get me back to my vehicle, more water and a cold A/C. I didn’t think I could move at all but I knew I had to push myself because if I stopped again, I wouldn’t get up. I had carelessly put myself in one of the most dangerous situations I have ever been in.

But I got up, I pushed myself harder than I ever had. It was hard, part of me wanted to keel over and just wish for sunset and rain. I kept on walking. What was less than twenty minutes seemed like hours and I got hotter and hotter. I tried to distract my mind and think of other things but it wasn’t possible. It was literally hell but I didn’t stop.

After getting to my car, getting home, taking a cold shower for an hour and passing out, I woke up knowing that I had tapped into something that usually isn’t there. When I’m in the gym and need to push that extra bit, I do but I know if forced I could go even harder. Same thing goes for when I do other physical activities. If it gets too hard and there is an easy out, usually we take it. It isn’t until we’re forced or some other circumstance arises that most of us unlock that extra resilience and strength.

When I get to that point where I feel like giving up, I remember moments like this. I remember that I’ve faced some harrowing shit and walked away. I’ve also dealt with the worst that the universe could throw at me and overcome that. It’s not to brag because I’m not special. We all have this. We just have to remember it when we’re down or when we need to overcome an obstacle whether physical, mental or emotional.

It’s too easy to tap out.

Retro Relapse: The Fitness of the Modern Man

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2014.

You go to the gym, you lift, you spin, you even hit a speedy blue ball with a racket. Sometimes you run, sometimes you swim and sometimes you stair climb. You eat celery and tuna and only drink water and protein powder mixed with water. You tore your half-shirt last week when flexing in front of the mirror for a Vine. All that is great and fantastic but compared to the men of ancient times, you’re a pussy.

Don’t worry, it’s cool, I know that in this regard, I’m a pussy too – it is what it is.

The fact of the matter is, no matter how many crunches you do or how many power squats you scream through, some ancient Mongol savage could probably conquer a dozen of us in about 30 seconds. We’d be nothing but easy-to-kill food for all the old school warriors of every badass race in history. And no matter how hard we work to improve ourselves, we’d never be more than a sandwich or a nuisance to those people. Their world is gone but if they still existed and hadn’t evolved into us, they’d pillage the shit out of us in no time.

You see, it doesn’t matter how strong you are or how fit you are, you’re still doing it all wrong. And that’s okay because as society has evolved, we don’t need to be rabid beasts roaming the desolate wilderness for a minute form of anything considered sustenance. We no longer have to hunt and gather and thus, life is pretty fucking easy.

Apart from that, we no longer have to find ourselves in constant battle with neighboring tribes who want our land, our food, our water and our women. We don’t have to be on edge constantly because we have a society that is organized and for the most part, civil. We have air conditioning, hot water, television, movies, the Internet, fast food on every corner, a Starbucks wedged between every corner and a multitude of vices we can use to distract ourselves from a world that is nowhere near as tough as it used to be. Shit’s simple.

Looking at the Aztecs, Vikings, Mongols, Apaches, Spartans, Medieval knights, musketeers, Roman gladiators, Ming Dynasty warriors, Rajputs, old school Persians, Comanches, Centurions, Zandas, Maoris, Samurai and Ninjas we’re just fucked. Even Neanderthals would probably just grab us and crush our heads between their palms like the Hulk trying to squash a grape. And the truth is, these guys didn’t work out. They didn’t need to. Their whole existence was a workout. Us modern men, if we’re on top of things, schedule an hour (maybe two) to go to the gym and maximize our time in that short of a window.

The thing though, is that modern men aren’t training for the oncoming wrath of another warrior tribe, they are training to look good above all else. It’s a fashion show and a lifting competition; it’s no longer about survival. Apart from athletes who work out and train for performance or badass motherfuckers like the Green Beret, Navy SEALs or Delta Force, fitness has become a dick wagging contest. Sure, some people do it for health. In fact, most people claim it’s for health. Reality dictates something different than the rhetoric though when you see swollen dudes screaming at each other pressing bars with hundreds of pounds on them all in an effort to impress and outshine their fellow dude brahs.

I’m not saying that this is wrong or trying to paint it as silly or pointless. Truth is, I want to bench press school buses and have the physique of Dwayne Johnson. I think ultimately, most guys would want that (and many women too). I’m just not going to kid myself and pretend that I’m some Herculean barbarian that could eat an entire village for brunch and make a stew out of their weakling souls. As hard as any of us work, unless we are living in a cave whittling battle axes with our teeth and walking 30 miles per day over mountains and through swamps to find 4 oz. of protein, we’ll never be what we were.

But that’s okay, as a society, we’ve earned our much easier lifestyle. We’ve evolved to not have to be the barbarians of old. However, those old habits are still ingrained in our DNA. At a primal level, we probably are still fighting for survival despite the theatrics. Additionally, we’re still competitive because that’s what we are.

Keep working out, stay healthy, eat good but maybe cut out the effeminate low calorie beers because Mic Ultra would just piss off the brutes of old.

In the end, live a long and prosperous life because we deserve it. It was the old warrior and barbarian ways that led to our success and the luxury of not having to remain warriors and barbarians. Let’s just hope that a magical rift in time doesn’t appear because then we’d just be the meat in a Viking omelette.