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Sunday, 29 November 2020

Did Viruses Create the Nucleus? The Answer May Be Near. (Quanta)

Introductory note LO:

This article supports my long-held suspicion that viruses are (the) key in Evolution of all life forms (eg, animals, humans, plants, trees), even though viruses are not even part of Nature Magazine's Tree of Life. According to that categorization, viruses are "dead" because they do not "eat" and "poop". 

This article also explains why I have a different (macro) view on Covid-19

Viruses are not our enemy. Humans need to learn to cohabit with viruses as fighting viruses is futile and might even prevent (human) evolution.


Quanta title: Did Viruses Create the Nucleus? The Answer May Be Near.

Quanta subtitle: An unorthodox symbiotic theory about the origin of eukaryotes’ defining characteristic may soon be put to the test.

By: Christie Wilcox

Date: 25 November 2020

"Different as the cells from animals, plants, fungi and protozoa can be, they all share one prominent feature: a nucleus. They have other organelles, too, like the energy-producing mitochondria, but the presence of a nucleus — a well-defined porous pouch full of genetic material — is what inspired the biologist Édouard Chatton in 1925 to coin the term eukaryotes, which referred to living things with a “true kernel.” All the rest he labeled prokaryotes, for life “before kernel.” This dichotomy between nucleated and nonnucleated life became fundamental to biology.

No one knows exactly how the nucleus evolved and created that division. Growing evidence has persuaded some researchers, however, that the nucleus might have arisen through a symbiotic partnership much like the one believed to have produced mitochondria. A crucial difference, though, is that the partner responsible for the nucleus might not have been a cell at all, but a virus.

“What we [eukaryotes] are is a classic case of what they call emergent complexity,” explained Philip Bell, the head of research for the yeast biotechnology company MicroBioGen. Bell proposed a viral origin for the eukaryotic nucleus back in 2001 and refreshed the theory in September. “It’s three organisms that came together to make a new community, which eventually integrated to such an extent that it became, effectively, a new life-form.”

The discovery of archaeal viruses which construct nucleus-like and membrane-based structures in archaeal cells will be the strongest evidence of the viral origin for the nucleus. Masaharu Takemura, Tokyo University of Science

He and other researchers take their confidence from findings such as the demonstration that giant viruses build “viral factories” inside prokaryotic cells — compartments that, much like the nucleus, uncouple the processes of transcription (reading genes) and translation (constructing proteins). “I think it’s now the strongest model,” he said.

Most researchers who study the origins of eukaryotes might not agree with him; some still describe it as an idea on the fringe. But proponents of a viral origin point out that several recent discoveries line up conveniently with a viral model — and they believe that conclusive evidence in their favor is finally within reach.

A Viral Gift or Grift

Scientists generally think eukaryotes first came on the scene between 2.5 billion and 1.5 billion years ago, when evidence suggests that a bacterium took up residence inside a different kind of prokaryote, an archaeon, and became its mitochondrion. But a deeper mystery surrounds the emergence of the nucleus; no one even knows whether that ancient archaeon was already a kind of proto-eukaryote with a nucleus, or whether the nucleus came later.

Any origin story for the eukaryotic nucleus needs to explain several of its features. There’s the nature of the structure, for starters: its nested inner and outer membranes, and the pores that connect its interior to the rest of the cell. There’s also the curious way it compartmentalizes the expression of genes within itself but leaves the construction of proteins outside. And a truly persuasive origin story must also explain why the nucleus exists at all — what evolutionary pressures pushed those ancient cells to wall up their genomes.

For most of the past century and more, conjectures about the origin of the nucleus failed to answer at least one of those questions. But around the turn of the 21st century, two researchers independently came up with the idea that viruses were responsible for the nucleus.

In Japan, Masaharu Takemura (then a research associate at Nagoya University) was studying the biochemistry of DNA polymerases — enzymes that cells use to copy DNA — when he became interested in their evolution. “I performed a phylogenetic analysis of DNA polymerases including eukaryotic, bacterial, archaeal and viral ones,” Takemura, now a molecular biologist and virologist at Tokyo University of Science, recalled in an email. His analysis revealed that one group of viruses (the poxviruses) had DNA polymerases that were surprisingly similar to one of the major classes of polymerases from eukaryotes. He hypothesized that the eukaryotic enzyme originated as a contribution from some ancient poxvirus.

Takemura also knew that poxviruses create and replicate inside compartments within the cells they infect. This combination of facts led him to theorize that the eukaryotic cell nucleus was derived from one of these ancestral poxvirus compartments — a proposal he published in the Journal of Molecular Evolution in May 2001.

Meanwhile, in Australia, Bell had come to a similar conclusion for different reasons. As a graduate student in the early 1990s, he had taken an interest in theories about the origin of the nucleus, especially the idea that, like mitochondria, it might have started as an endosymbiont. “Five minutes of looking and I go, ‘Jeez, if it’s an endosymbiont, it’s not a bacterial one,’” he recalled. There were just too many differences between bacterial and eukaryotic genomes, he felt, like the fact that eukaryotes have linear chromosomes while bacteria tend to have circular ones.

But when he looked at viral genomes, he came across striking similarities between the genome structure of poxviruses and eukaryotes. “It took me nine years to publish the first version of the model,” he noted. Then it took 18 months of back-and-forth to get the paper published in the Journal of Molecular Evolution … four issues after Takemura’s paper.

Giant viruses are what Forterre, Takemura and Bell say are responsible for the origin of the nucleus.

Now, nearly 20 years later, both Takemura and Bell have independently updated their hypotheses. Takemura’s revision was published online in Frontiers in Microbiology on September 3, Bell’s in Virus Research on September 20. “He’s done it to me again,” Bell said, laughing.

Both scientists cited recent discoveries involving an extraordinary group of “giant viruses” as one of the main reasons for the updates. These viruses were totally unknown when Takemura and Bell published their initial hypotheses. Their genomes, which have more than 1 million base pairs, rival those of small, free-living bacteria in size, and they carry viral versions of genes for proteins involved in essential processes in cells. (There’s some evidence that the eukaryotic versions of several of these proteins came from these viruses.)

But most importantly, these giant viruses replicate inside complex, self-constructed compartments in a host cell’s cytoplasm, which is why these viruses, like poxviruses, are classified as nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses (NCLDVs). For these giant viruses, the compartments they make are “viral factories which are as big as a eukaryotic nucleus,” said Patrick Forterre, an evolutionary biologist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. Tellingly, the viral factories made by NCLDVs that infect eukaryotes also have inner and outer membranes like the nucleus. Giant viruses are what Forterre, Takemura and Bell say are responsible for the origin of the nucleus.

There are two possible ways the nucleus could have come from giant viruses, according to Forterre. “Either the viral factories became the nucleus, or proto-eukaryotic cells … learned from the virus in order to make themselves a kind of viral factory to protect the chromosomes,” he said.

Takemura thinks the latter is more likely: that a virus was more of an unintentional contributor to eukaryotic cells, as both the stimulus for an archaeon’s construction of a genetic barrier and the source of some of the genes needed to construct it.

According to his hypothesis, long ago, a giant virus constructed a viral factory, enclosing its own genome but also that of its archaeon host. But unlike most infected cells, this host managed to steal the virus’s barrier-building trick and constructed its own compartment — one that defended its genome against the virus. Over time, this semipermanent barrier evolved into the nucleus as we know it.

Note LO: see article for diagram "How Viruses Could Make a Nucleus"

Bell prefers the version in which a viral factory directly became the nucleus, as the process more closely mirrors the known behavior of viruses that infect prokaryotes today. “They’re more like Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” he said.

He believes an ancient giant virus infected an archaeon and set up a viral factory but didn’t kill its host cell. Instead, the structure managed to stick around. “And then the virus, which is a gene thief, stole the genes from the archaea and completely destroyed its genome,” he explained. That’s a common theme with viruses, especially giant ones — they take genes from their hosts, which makes them less dependent on their hosts. That might even help explain why so many mitochondrial genes have moved to the nucleus: “Over the years it has been stealing the genes from the mitochondria and starting to control it as well.”

So in a way, “the virus just wears the archaeon’s cell as a cloak,” Bell said. And if that model is right, he pointed out, “you could say at the heart of every human cell is a virus.”

Contested Origins

Since those early publications from Takemura and Bell, several discoveries have lined up well with the idea of a viral origin for the nucleus. Whole branches of the giant virus family tree have been discovered, for instance, broadening our understanding of their evolution and, in particular, the essential genes they’ve swapped with their hosts — ones they have stolen or, in some cases, perhaps given to cells.

In addition, in 2017 researchers discovered a virus that constructed a viral factory inside a bacterial host. Up until then, viral factories appeared to be exclusive to the viruses that infect eukaryotes, so finding one in a prokaryote bolstered the idea that something similar could have happened long ago to initiate the formation of a nucleus.

In the case of that virus, “this nucleus-like structure is not membrane-based,” Takemura said, which makes it distinct from many viral factories and eukaryotic nuclei. Still, he feels that this instance of a virus constructing a protective “compartment” around its genome inside prokaryotic cells “strongly suggests that in [the] ancestral eukaryotic cell … the same kind of compartmentalization by virus [could have] occurred.”

Just this year, researchers spotted pores in the double-membrane-bound viral factories of coronaviruses, which are eerily reminiscent of the pores found in cell nuclei. “If this result holds up, and assuming that the pore-forming protein was not derived from a eukaryotic genome, then it does blunt one argument against the virus model,” wrote David A. Baum, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in an email.

Still, Baum doesn’t buy the idea that viruses had anything to do with the origin of the nucleus. To him, the idea only complicates matters. “What problem in eukaryogenesis requires viruses as its solution?” he wrote.

Baum, along with his cousin, Buzz Baum, a cell biologist at University College London, has proposed a different hypothesis: that the nucleus is actually a remnant of the ancestral archaeon’s outer membrane. Essentially, they think an ancestral archaeon began reaching into the world around it and associating with bacteria through these exploratory blebs of membrane. Over time, the blebs grew and grew, until they fused together again — generating a new outer membrane and inner membrane folds that gave rise to other intracellular compartments. “The closest living known relatives of eukaryotes have extensive extracellular protrusions” that interact with prokaryotes, David Baum noted, “very surprisingly similar to the model we proposed.”

As for the evidence that viruses gave eukaryotes some of their most essential nuclear proteins, his chief concern is that it’s very hard to be sure about directionality. “Viruses are the ultimate kleptomaniacs,” he said, so they’re constantly taking genes from their hosts. “I think we’ve got to be very careful to ask whether we find similarities between viruses and eukaryotes. We don’t know whether they gave it to the eukaryotes, or the eukaryotes gave it to them.”

Purificación López-García, a microbial ecologist at Paris-Saclay University and a research director at the French National Center for Scientific Research, is similarly unconvinced that eukaryotes rely on what were originally viral proteins. “There is no evidence at all that there is any homologous relationship between viruses and cell and eukaryotic nuclei,” she said.

And if that model is right, he pointed out, “you could say at the heart of every human cell is a virus.” [Note LO: bold and yellow marking in quote by LO]

Yet López-García doesn’t agree with the Baums’ blebbing model, either. She and her colleagues don’t think that eukaryotes started with an archaeon engulfing bacteria that would become mitochondria. Instead, in their view, the archaeon was already living inside a bigger bacterium, the result of an earlier endosymbiotic event. “So in our model, the nucleus would derive from this archaeon, and the cytoplasm would derive from a bacterium,” and this duo took in the mitochondria-to-be, she explained.

But Takemura says these other hypotheses are flawed, because at best they “only explain the phenomenon that the nucleus emerged” — they lack the evolutionary rationale for why the genome was boxed up, and why the protein-making parts were excluded. That’s a sticking point for Bell, too: He doesn’t see how any of the other hypotheses explain the separation of transcription and translation.

The viral origin just makes the most sense and has the strongest evidence, Forterre said. “I don’t think they are really serious,” he said of the opposing theories. “I would say that viruses play a major role in this story.”

Awaiting Discovery

It will take a lot more evidence to convince scientists like the Baums and López-García to come around to Forterre’s point of view. But two decades’ worth of advances in technology may finally be bringing that evidence within reach.

Just this year, researchers from Japan announced that after more than a decade of trying, they had finally isolated and cultured Lokiarchaeota — archaea of the type believed to have been part of the original eukaryotic partnership. That could open the door to discovering viruses that infect these distant relatives of ours and visualizing exactly what those infections actually look like.

“If you were to find a new class of viruses infecting the Lokiarchaeota, that got inside the cells and set up camp there and opened pores to facilitate rapid flow of transcripts into the cytoplasm — that would be [more] compelling” evidence that viruses gave rise to the nucleus, David Baum said.

Bell noted that a trove of giant viruses was recently sequenced from the very same deep-sea sediments where Lokiarchaeota were discovered. He hopes someone will test whether any of these viruses can infect archaea and, if so, whether they build viral factories similar to those made by the NCLDVs that infect eukaryotes. Demonstrating that, he said, would be “game over.”

Takemura, too, is hopeful such a virus exists. “The discovery of archaeal viruses which construct nucleus-like and membrane-based structures in archaeal cells will be the strongest evidence of the viral origin for the nucleus,” he said.

Until that kind of extraordinary evidence is in hand, viral eukaryogenesis will likely remain controversial. But even if it doesn’t end up winning the battle for acceptance, every test of the theory reveals bits and pieces of our evolutionary past — and because of that, we’re getting closer and closer to learning the truth about where we came from."

Saturday, 28 November 2020

Dollar Loses to Euro as Payment Currency for First Time in Years (Bloomberg)

Bloomberg title: Dollar Loses to Euro as Payment Currency for First Time in Years

By: Alexandre Tanzi

Date: 19 November 2020

  • Data from Swift, which handles cross-border payment messages
  • Canadian dollar overtook Chinese yuan for the fifth position

The euro was the most used currency for global payments last month, the first time it has outpaced the dollar since February 2013.

Data from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, which handles cross-border payment messages for more than 11,000 financial institutions in 200 countries, showed the European Union’s single currency and the greenback were followed by the British pound and the Japanese yen. The Canadian dollar overtook China’s yuan for the fifth spot, Swift said.

Trade upheaval, a pandemic-induced recession and political disharmony renewed pressure to reduce the share of international payments in dollars. The U.S. currency has weakened more than 11% from its March peak, based on a Bloomberg index that measures it against a basket of major peers, and many observers are predicting its valuation to drop further.

The dollar remains the top funding currency, with about half of all cross-border loans and international debt securities denominated in the greenback, the Bank of International Settlements said in a July report. About 85% of all foreign-exchange transactions occur against the dollar and it accounts for 61% of official foreign-exchange reserves, the BIS said, adding that about half of international trade is invoiced in the U.S. currency.

Swift releases the data in its monthly RMB Tracker on the renminbi’s progress toward becoming an international currency.

About 37.82% of the Swift cash transfers were handled in euros last month, the largest portion since February 2013. This was an increase of more than 6 percentage points from the end of last year.

The U.S. dollar’s usage fell about 4.6 percentage points from December to 37.64% of transactions last month. The dollar peaked at 45.3% in April 2015. The British, Japanese and Canadian currencies together held 12.25% of transactions in October.

The yuan’s share fell to 1.66% of transactions, in its worse showing since April. The Chinese currency was ranked 35th in October 2010, when Swift started tracking currencies in this way. It progressed to the top six in 2014, where is has general averaged slightly less than a 2% share globally since."


Friday, 27 November 2020

When could you say 'No' to a vaccine?

Before the anti-vaxxer movement, it was common to refuse vaccinations on religious grounds. These parents are willing to sacrifice their children by withholding a life-saving vaccination because vaccines are not mentioned in their scriptures. These parents do not usually question vaccines as such. The anti-vaxxer movement does. 

Governments often allow such religious refusals because it does not affect the international minimum vaccination threshold of 95% (Dutch gov). Most likely, the anti-vaxxer movement is accountable and/or responsible for the slow annual decrease in vaccination coverage. 

Covid-19 has shown a remarkable development: the more likely a vaccine will be available, the less likely people will be taking that vaccine. The number of Dutch people that will take a corona vaccine decreased from 73% in June to 60% in November (eg, Dutch NewsI&ONOSVK). 

This decrease is not an increase in the anti-vaxxer movement. Many people have a "wait-and-see" approach (eg, side effects). Some people are skeptic about the potential quality of the vaccine following the high speed of development. 

I'm not an anti-vaxxer. To the contrary. In general, I take my vaccinations when advised. Nevertheless, I have never taken an influenza vaccination. I don't see the point and neither does my mother (86). Still, we both believe in vaccines, including their side effects.

I view vaccines from a risk-reward perspective (my blogs): what is the upside potential of a vaccine (eg, saving lives) and what is the downside risk (eg, side effects). Essentially, a pharmaceutical company does the very same: what is the investment of developing a vaccine (ie, risk) and will future profits be adequate to recover that investment (ie, reward). 

From a mortality perspective, the current Dutch corona fatality number (ie, 9,035) is still lower than the 2018 influenza deaths (ie, 9,400). Out of the last 10 years, 2 other influenza years are just below: 2015 (8,600 deaths) and 2017 (7,500 deaths). Source: Dutch gov. Based on an actual Dutch population of 17,150,210, the Dutch corona mortality is about 0.05% - or 1 in 2,000 people.

Thus far, the upside potential of a vaccine is minimal while the downside risk is still opaque.

The Medicine Song (1984) by Stephanie Mills

You need a little bit of this medicine 
Mama's gonna give you some medicine

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.

Thursday, 26 November 2020

Evolution vs Revolution

Change is inevitable. This is one of the few certainties in life - apart from paying taxes (eg, VAT). You can either resist change or adapt. However, resisting Change is futile because it will drain your energy until you break (eg, burnout). Ultimately, everyone breaks under pressure.

Closed societies resist Change. However, their internal pressure is building (eg, protests). At some point, a closed society can no longer handle the pressure and revolutionary change will take place (eg, Belarus, Cuban RevolutionFrench Revolution). China is a closed society.

In open societies, certain groups typically embrace Change (eg, youth). Some of these changes become mainstream while others perish. Change is like Evolution in those open societies. Evolution shows that some changes are initially unsuccessful. It took multiple attempts before multicellular organisms became successful (eg, animals, humans, plants, trees).

Some media claim that a new Revolution is on its way (eg, the Great Reset, Trump's coup d'état). It's merely wishful thinking in my view. Even the mass protests in Venezuela did not result in a Revolution. The ultimate criterion for any Belief system is the willingness to sacrifice your life for a (greater) Cause. Most people prefer to cling to their lives.

There are indeed signs that indicate (imminent?) Change. I do not dispute these signs. I just see a different causality; please also see my blogs on cause-effect

In my view, we were already heading for a Vacuum (my blogs). The coronavirus gave the final push. We are now seeing various efforts to leave that vacuum. Some people misread these efforts for an imminent Revolution.

I don't foresee a quick departure from the Vacuum as most governments have copied a failing coronavirus approach. 

Hence, I expect many more efforts for leaving the Vacuum. Some of these may - once again - suggest an imminent Revolution that will, however, not happen - and will not be televised.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (1971) by Gil Scott-Heron

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Superspreaders: who and why

Most articles on superspreaders are about the what and where questions. The why and who questions are rarely addressed. My recent blog on the "Mission, goals, strategy, tactics and operations of viruses" gives an indirect answer to this why question. From the perspective of a virus, superspreaders are essential for infecting as many people as quickly as possible

A recent "study, based on a giant contact tracing effort involving more than 3 million people in India, shows most Covid-19 patients never infected anyone else. The researchers found that 70% of infected people did not infect any of their contacts, while 8% of patients accounted for 60% of observed new infections" (CNN, 2020 study). Notebold markings in quote by LO.

From the perspective of a virus, superspreaders are people that have many social contacts. The study indeed shows that "[t]he young to middle adult age group is the one that is coming into contact with people. They are the people most likely to be outside the household. They are the ones taking the disease from one place to the other" (CNN). Note: bold markings in quote by LO.

In my country, some 3.2 million out of 17.4 million people - or 18.5% - are between 20-45 years (CBS). Hence, 43% of this Dutch age group would represent the 8% superspreaders. In India, the demographics are very different: at least 50% is between 20-45 years (Wiki). Hence, a small part (<17%) of Indian people between 20-45 years would belong to the 8% superspreaders.

From the perspective of a virus, it makes perfect sense using the age group of 20-45 years as these humans should be at peak strength. Using other age groups would only raise host mortality, which is not in the interest of a virus. A virus wants to keep its host alive, in order to multiply and spread. Hence, viruses reduce in strength once host mortality becomes too high. 

The interests of viruses (ie, spreading) and humans (ie, containment, prevention) are opposite. The stronger prevention (eg, lockdowns), the longer virus spreading will last. A wildfire scenario would normally be the best solution. However, national healthcare capacity is usually funded by governments and thus based on (historical) average use and never on peak use.

Given the above, it's no surprise that about 40% of all corona casualties happened at nursing and retirement homes, following the interactions between senior citizens and young to middle age adult staff, who were forced to do their job without an adequate PPE gear supply (my blog).

See Me, Feel Me (1969) by The Who

See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me, Heal Me

Note: all markings (bold, italic, underlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Consciousness: everything follows Why (6)

"Despite centuries of analyses, definitions, explanations and debates by philosophers and scientists, consciousness remains puzzling and controversial []" (Wiki). Recently, I had an epiphany: you cannot explain what consciousness is until you know why it exists. Hence, a new blog in my series: Everything follows Why (my 2017 blogs: part 1, part 2, part 3part 4part 5).

So, why does consciousness (my blogs) exist? I think, feel and believe consciousness exists to prevent chaos (my blogs), adapt to Change (my blogs), and to maintain balance and symmetry (my blogs). In this view, the entire Universe must be conscious, including (dark) matter and (dark) energy. This view is called panpsychism, "one of the oldest philosophical theories" (Wiki).

Answering the why question enables me to answer the what question. I think, feel and believe that consciousness must be a network of energy and information, similar to a Wi-Fi network. Everyone (eg, life forms) and everything (eg, matter) is connected to that network.

The interface, linking-pin or On-Off switch with that network is our Soul (how question). Hence, everything must have a soul: animals, plants, rocks, trees. This ancient view is called animism. Wiki: "The animistic perspective is so widely held and inherent to most indigenous peoples that they often do not even have a word in their languages that corresponds to "animism" []".

My view also corresponds with the scientific belief in quantum mechanics that no information in the Universe can be deleted or destroyed. My view also explains why creation and/or inspiration feels like borrowing from that network. All creative people have that borrowing feeling; see the 2009 TED Talk by author Elizabeth GilbertYour elusive creative genius (transcript, video). 

Before my 2013 burnout, I only felt the energy of this network. My 2013 burnout crushed my Beliefs (eg, Money). I felt a choice: repairing my old Self or building a new Self. I chose for latter. This choice resulted in a migration from Beliefs to an Awakening (my blogs), the individual stage following the collective development stages of Needs, Wants & Beliefs (my blogs).

After surviving my burnout, I'm conscious the network is sending me ideas and inspiration - besides energy. I have a choice in accepting though. I've always known that I like teaching others what I have learned myself (my blogs). My new role in the network fits like a glove. 

Cloud 9 (1987) by George Harrison

Have my love, it fits you like a glove 
Join my dream, tell me yes

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.

Monday, 23 November 2020

The dark side of empathy

About a month ago, I noticed a remark on Facebook by someone whom I know well. At least, I thought so. He posted a tirade against people with a different Covid-19 view. He stated that such people do not even deserve a vaccination or a hospital admittance. I decided not to question his views. I did wonder about the reasons for his emotional rage a.k.a. anger

Essentially, there are two opposing views on Covid-19: the micro and macro perspective (my blogs). The micro view is rooted in empathy (ie, emotion) with the corona casualties. The macro view is rooted in ratio and - to some extent - in the Greater Good theory or utilitarianism. The micro view (probably) assumes a lack of empathy in people having a macro view. 

My mother (86) often says to me that I should care less about "things". I cannot because caring is in my genes. Not caring is not an option to me. At times, I care too much about "things" and then I start to suffer. It may take hours, days and sometimes weeks, to regain my balance. This phenomenon is part of the dark side of empathy (eg, Amazon, BOL, NPR, my 2019 blog).

Notwithstanding the above, I have a macro view on Covid-19. My empathy belongs to people who own businesses that may go bankrupt, young people lacking job prospects, poor people thrown back into extreme poverty, sick people forced to wait for surgery. The difference is that these millions of people are still alive, while the thousands of casualties are already dead.

NPR (2019): author Fritz Breithaupt "says our ability to identify with others' feelings can also fuel polarization, spark violence and motivate dysfunctional behavior in relationships, like helicopter parenting." I suppose this is the explanation for my introductory paragraph above. 

I must admit there is a substantial difference between my verbal and my written communication. My blogs represent the rational me, while my conversations often show the emotional me. My blogs apply the view of Persian philosopher Rumi (1207-1273), who once stated: “Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”

I think, feel and believe that the dark side of empathy is part of a much bigger concept, called the Dark Side (my blogs, Wiki). This quote by Lorraine Toussaint sums it up well: "We all have a dark side. Most of us go through life avoiding direct confrontation with that aspect of ourselves, which I call the shadow self. There's a reason why. It carries a great deal of energy."

The Dark Side (2018) by MUSE

Note: all markings (bold, italic, underlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.