Viral Times

A viral novel to inject hearts with hope and health

Ancient medicines you can grow or spin

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Stromasys BoxAn article on the Slate website interviews a medical researcher whose specialty is discovering ancient remedies to diseases. One such remedy, broccoli, was so often prescribed that the Roman leader Cato advised all residents of the city to grow their own. In one instance it appears to have been used for colon cancer treatments.

Then there’s the spider webs.

In the world of Viral Times these are the remedies pursued, tested and used by naturopathic healers like Angie Consoli, the woman who finds the prospect of recovering love that she lost in the viral pandemics which sparked AIDS Ultra. Given the right cocktail of these healing arts, diseased people without medical plans sometimes survive without pharma medicine.



Written by Ron Seybold

March 6, 2012 at 3:18 pm

A Kindness Virus, and H5N1’s Flaws

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Viruses exhibit legendary behavior, especially in the power of their ability to spread. It’s one reason why something that spreads without any barriers is said to have “gone viral.” Now there’s a website that’s devoted to the concept of kindness spreading like a virus.

Good Virus has a 2-minute movie that leads you into a site that’s devoted to the mission of revealing kindness as an essential human element. We’re all infected with it.

The purpose of Good Virus is: 1) to illustrate that—contrary to what you may see, hear and read in the news—kindness is all around us (THE GOOD) and 2), to inspire people to spread that kindness (THE VIRUS). Good Virus is all about the small things, tiny acts of kindness that don’t cost a lot of money or oblige praise. The essential premise of this project is that many small acts of kindness may make more of a difference than a few big ones.

In Viral Times, one unstoppable defense against disease is love. Love breeds faith, and any faith in immunity raises the level of natural immune system defenses. A wide range of other healing arts are needed to survive a pandemic. But inducing kindness is simpler than raising the level of T-cells. Plus, the former can lead to the latter: meditation for example, shown to be an element in the increase of immunity.

If there’s a learning curve to spread the virus of kindness, nature compensates with a few barriers for disease viruses. There are natural flaws that a biological virus can exhibit in spreading. Scientists report that H1N1 doesn’t spread as effectively as a flu virus. From the journal Science we learn that aerosol transmission hasn’t been a feature of “bird flu,” the root of H5N1. Good thing.

A distinctive feature of avian influenza viruses in general, and H5N1 viruses in particular, is that they are incapable of being transmitted among humans by aerosol. Because pandemic influenza strains originated in avian influenza viruses, it can be argued that past pandemic influenza viruses were once avian influenza viruses that “learned” how to jump to and transmit by aerosol in humans.

The New Flu in Viral Times is a precursor to other disease. Nothing is more effective than the flu in propagating itself. Good Virus’s film states that scientists believe kindness spreads like a flu virus, however. So go spread a virus.

Written by Ron Seybold

March 5, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Pharma titan Pfizer adds natural immunity product

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Pfizer, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical enterprises, has bought the makers of Emergen-C. The vitamin C supplement is filling out the Pfizer consumer product portfolio, according to my friend Tracy Staton, who reports for FiercePharma.

Pfizer is snapping up the company that makes Emergen-C, those ubiquitous vitamin C packets that sell for some $10 a box. The world’s biggest drugmaker will add California-based Alacer to its consumer health operations, acquired along with Wyeth in 2009. “Emergen-C products add to and greatly complement our market-leading dietary supplement portfolio,” Pfizer Consumer Healthcare President Paul Sturman said in a statement. Alacer makes about 500 million Emergen-C packets a year, Pfizer said. The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Viral Times unfolds its story in a near-future where pharmas like Pfizer are allied with health insurance providers to create the PharmAlliance. This latest news shows Pfizer is expanding its business to include products like the 30-cent-a-day Emergen-C which don’t require medical insurance coverage, or a prescription, and so will never fall out of high-profit patent drug status. Patent drugs can have a very finite lifespan of profitability, while viruses have an infinite lifespan because they evolve as needed. The disease will usually outlast the drugs, if a virus is at work.

For example, Pfizer is struggling to maintain its client base for Lipitor this year, extending its own “co-pay” program to keep the brand-name version cheaper than the single generic version. Tracy reported in a separate article that WellPoint, a very large healthcare insurer, is now planning to stop covering Pfizer’s brand-name cholesterol drug April 1, favoring its generic rivals instead.

Tracy was an early workshopping reader of Viral Times before she took her MFA in writing from Texas State. She reports on pharmas for the Fierce group, as well as works as an associate editor for American Way magazine.

Written by Ron Seybold

February 28, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Chinese flu remedies have antiviral powers

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Chinese doctors have researched 472 herbs for antiviral activity, and 10 have antiviral activity. Patinia villosa, is one of the active herbs in Eurocel, a Korean product distributed by Allegry Research Group. Eurocel is to be taken twice a day, 2-3 capsules in each dose.

In his book Viral Immunity, doctor J.E. Williams reports that the active ingredient in Patrinia is a wild perennial plant used in Japan and Korea to reduce liver toxicity. Williams treated a patient with Eurocel and said the patient’s levels of ALT (Alanine aminotransferase) were reduced by 50 percent. In healthy bodies, ALT levels in the blood are low. When the liver is damaged, ALT is released into the bloodstream. The liver, of course, is the body’s engine for eliminating toxins.

Williams’ book is one of the dozens of volumes that make up the medical foundations of Viral Times. It’s one that bears some of the most numerous colored tabs, marking significant remedies. (The Little Book of Germs is another well-thumbed guidebook I’ve used.) In the viral times of 2020 — with pharma remedies just as ineffective as ever against viruses — more affordable compounds like Eurocel (about $4 a day) are a part of the healthcare regimen for the uninsured masses. With widespread demand for these compounds, prices may drop even further during a long-term pandemic. Patents don’t exist for natural remedies, so prices are lower. But the PharmAlliance combine keeps working to discredit and block such natural remedies.

There’s plenty of groundwork for PharmAlliance in our current day. Tamiflu, one of the trade names best-known to describe oseltamivir, is controlled via patent (and so much more expensive) by Gilead Sciences. Wikipedia reports

The patent held by Gilead Sciences and is valid at least until 2016. Gilead licensed the exclusive rights to Roche in 1996. The drug does not enjoy patent protection in Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and several other countries.Gilead is politically well connected: Donald Rumsfeld served as chairman from 1997 until he became U.S. Secretary of Defense in 2001; former Secretary of State George Shultz and the wife of former California Governor Pete Wilson serve on the board.

No matter how you look at it, these board members have a proven history of waging wars in the name of defense and protecting the interests of commercial investors. Given enough of a public emergency, the potential for monopoly drug ownership during a wartime against viruses will skyrocket. And so can be born the PharmAlliance, a combine of pharma and insurers.


Written by Ron Seybold

February 19, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Brain mapping gives us a path to understanding love

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A new book from Judith Horstman on how brain activity affects love includes a message about how much fMRI scans have taught us about the neuron dances that our minds do when we’re in love. From an article and interview with Horstman in the Marin Independent Journal:

We know more about the brain in love than ever before, thanks to technology such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) that maps brain activity in real time. And it’s shed light on how taking the Pill might affect the men that a woman’s attracted to (which could possibly be the reason behind some divorces); how love can be addictive (especially for women); how meditation might make you a better lover (who wouldn’t want to be?); and how taking acetaminophen just might relieve some of the often devastating pain of being jilted.

Horstman’s book “The Scientific American Book of Love, Sex and the Brain: The Neuroscience of How, When, Why, and Who We Love” examines how our biggest sex organ builds the emotion we all need. In Viral Times, Jenny Nation wins a Nobel Prize for her research into mapping brain activity in 2017. The discoveries lead her to develop a new drug that will impart love to all who take it — a most holy kind of love.


Written by Ron Seybold

February 7, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Posted in Media reporting, Viral Times: Novel

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Herbs and oils can inhibit viruses

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Natural herbal remedies are on the medical list Angie uses in my novel Viral Times. I mention echinacea in chapters where this naturopath’s healing and protecting those with the New Flu, or even HIVE-5. It’s not a cure, but it can make it harder for viruses to replicate in a body where there’s a steady dosage level of echinacea. This herbal is taken internally, as a tincture, a tea, or even as capsules. Although we can’t know how effective the herb will become when it’s grown in 2020, the demand for a stronger echinacea is bound to spark some fresh breeding. It’s a lot like a Z-Pack of antibacterials — you need to stop using it for awhile once you’ve been on it, or its healing effects will be reduced.

Our world of the present is infused with these ancient remedies, ones we will come to rely upon as the insurance complex reduces the range of the populace that can afford traditional medicine. Lemongrass, witch hazel, slippery elm root, licorice, lavender — all these can boost the body’s ability to heal and repel viral effects. Look for them in a healing tea together. It’s okay, adding honey won’t inhibit the healing effects.

St. John’s Wort has antiviral properties as well, but it doesn’t play a role in Viral Times. The plant can suppress viral growth in cells. It’s applied as an oil when it’s most effective, and that’s going to trigger some fear in a society of 2020 that’s under siege from a touch-transmitted virus like HIVE-5. But we don’t have that struggle today. It’s got side-effects at high dosages that include extra sensitivity to the sun; sunburns are more likely. As an anti-viral, scientists have tried to separate the active ingredient hypericum out and put it in capsule form. But for the moment it’s only offered as a homeopathic remedy, meaning that a minute amount of the substance is used. And there’s tea, too, since it comes from a plant that grows throughout the US. St. John’s Wort has an classic history as a natural anti-depressant — and that’s also a state that will raise your immunity in Viral Times.

Written by Ron Seybold

February 6, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Press time arrives for Viral Times

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My novel Viral Times has gone to the printing press at last. Eight years of hope, rewriting, workshopping and research has delivered a 276-page saga that was born after an epic gestation. A release party is on tap in Austin, at the Writer’s Workshop, on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012 — since the novel’s story ends on a Sunday. Printed copies of the book will be available on Amazon and from this website, as well as in readings around Texas. An ebook is on its way to Barnes & Noble and Amazon as well.

There are many people to thank for their energy and patience over the years it took to finish this first novel. It almost feels like the close of a movie, when those many minutes of credits roll over the screen. Writing the acknowledgements turned out to be a joyful trek down the lane of history. Now the new life of the book begins, as I work — like every author — to share my newborn with the world of readers.

Written by Ron Seybold

January 26, 2012 at 11:59 am

Posted in Viral Times: Novel

Bird flu goes airborne after modification

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20120108-182153.jpgA story in the New York Times reports that scientists are learning that avian flu has acquired airborne transmission ability after it was modified for increased strength. The experiments were part of studies to learn how the virus behaves. Now this virus can survive in the nose of ferrets, mammals whose nostril temperature is 4 degrees C cooler than a bird’s gut, where H5N1 usually grows.

The article points out that there’s a difference in ferret noses and those of us higher order mammals. One point cannot be smoothed out, however. The crossover point of animal to human is a step closer after this discovery. That kind of crossover is a prospect for triggering a pandemic.

Written by Ron Seybold

January 8, 2012 at 7:15 pm

Posted in Public health, Virus protection

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The future is here. Are you wearing anti-viral gear?

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Sex. Disease. Love. Fear. Faith. Grief. Star reporter Dayton Winstead juggles all these in Viral Times, when a viral pandemic of HIVE-5 and AIDS Ultra drives out full-contact sex. After millions die in less than a year, new SimSuits on a network give the world the technology to experience SafeSex’s passion, lust and climax in simulations as real as any forbidden embrace. But love takes a beating in Viral Times. Casualties of loved ones mount in a pandemic that spreads through touch. Dayton’s lost wife haunts his heart and drives his work through a losing battle.

Although SimSuits keep the virus at bay, they also open the door for attack. Nobel-winner Jenny Nation’s evangelistic faith sparks the geneticist’s mission to erase the SexNet, the Suits’ lure, plus any sinner who wears one. On the seventh day after her ultimatum, Nation’s engineered virus Mighty Hand will sweep through the net and into the Suits to infect the millions who believe they are safe. She places her faith in a God that kills any who love outside His laws.

Humiliated and broken by a counter-attack against his investigations, Dayton meets Angie, a naturopath with her own losses in love and sex to bear. Spreading the medicine of natural immunity through ageless practices and cures, she finds herself on a head-on course with Mighty Hand’s death and Dayton’s love. Mighty Hand threatens to change their world forever, unless Angie and Dayton can find and forestall the first biological virus to attack through a network. Only if they can touch upon acts of faith—and believe that their past might heal the future—will they hope to recover love during Viral Times.

Viral Times: Going viral on 2-12-12 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple’s iBookstore and more.

Written by Ron Seybold

January 8, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Posted in Viral Times: Novel

Humans wait at the end of the virus growth chain

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Flu has been with humans for thousands of years, but the rise of arboviruses sparks an era of desperate disease, a battle we are losing. These arboviruses—named after the arthropod mosquitoes, fleas and ticks bearing them—have skipped the virus trademark of preserving a human host. The arboviruses prefer reservoir hosts, birds which don’t catch the virus and only carry it. They enter the bird, whose blood kicks up the virulence a notch. The bird then offers up a more deadly virus to the bug’s next vector, the mosquito. Once a human is infected, the virulence is turned up beyond our natural immunity. This is one spark that heats up the world of 2018, when the trouble begins in Viral Times.

Written by Ron Seybold

December 27, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Posted in Virus behavior

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