“Guadalupe”

Here’s a story of how I tried to remove a fake story marginally related to COVID-19 from Wikipedia, and, at least for now, achieved the opposite and contributed to its dissemination and perpetuation.

On a BBC-produced podcast (in Russian) I heard a story about Lupe Hernández, a nurse who allegedly invented hand sanitizer. The story was born in a 2012 Guardian article, which was subsequently quoted by viral Facebook posts and a bunch of news sites in Spanish and a bunch of other languages, and even mention in an academic nursing book published by Springer. In the last few months hand sanitizer became more popular than ever, and so the story regained popularity.

When contacted for confirmation, the original Guardian story’s author said that “she couldn’t remember the source, and that her notebooks are in storage facility she currently can’t get to”.

The podcast, as well as a thorough LA Times article, conclude that the whole story is probably an urban legend and that the person probably never existed. No one was even sure whether it’s a woman or a man, even though the original story said “she”.

The podcast did mention that there is a very short Wikipedia article. I proposed it for deletion. The result of the deletion discussion was that the article was kept and renamed to “Lupe Hernández hand sanitizer legend”.

Before it was renamed in the English Wikipedia to be an article about a legend, it was also translated to Spanish and French, as an article about “Guadalupe Hernández”, a female nurse who invented hand sanitizer, even though zero sources say that her name was actually “Guadalupe”. Sure, you can assume that “Lupe” is short for “Guadalupe”, as some imaginative writers did, but why do we do it on Wikimedia sites?

I’m still of the firm opinion that the subject should be completely removed from Wikipedia in all languages, as well as from Wikidata, but there’s only so much I can do about this. If any of you know French or Spanish, can you please make sure the articles in your languages are not too awful, or perhaps consider proposing them for deletion?

And if you think I’m badly wrong about it all, please do tell me, too.

Air Holes

I drank a glass of something that tasted like water and somehow found out that it was Phenylalanine. Recalling that it’s a lethal poison, I rushed to check whether I can save my life. I found the website of the people who invented it. It was written in a modern informal Web 2.0 style and said something like this:

The only antidote is to drink as much clean cold water as you can to dilute the toxicity during the first 18 minutes since intake. After that you can try drilling air holes in your casket, but we doubt that it will help.

I drank a lot of water and it saved my life.


It was a dream, of course. Phenylalanine is not a lethal poison, and it’s likely that we all consume a lot of it every day. It’s not the first time that I dream about poisoning from a substance that is not a poison in real life; last time I remember this happening, it was Papaverine.

Most curiously, it was in English. That probably has something to do with the fact that despite preaching to use native languages, I still mostly search the web in English for useful life-saving stuff, and that I get most of my humor in English as well.

It may also have something to do with Stan’s Previously Used Coffins.

People Speaking – Therapist

— “So why did you say that your therapist is so great?”

— “‘Cause she helps me make good decisions.”

— “What decisions for example did she help you make?”

— “To leave my job.”

— “To leave your job? Is that it?! But I told you not to take that job in the first place! If you would listen to me you would save yourself the suffering from that terrible boss and the money you paid the therapist!”

B

When i became vegetarian, everyone told me that i am going to lose all the B12 i have and die in terrible pain. Well, i have been vegetarian for over four years and my B12 is steadily going up.

Cancer

I met a school friend and found out that she has cancer. It was very sad. And then, instead of killing her, it turned her into a phonograph.

My highschool friend had cancer. First it made her shrink, then it turned her into a phonograph.
My highschool friend had cancer. First it made her shrink, then it turned her into a phonograph.

Then i was offered to host an “Amazing Race“-style reality show. I accepted the offer, ‘cuz the money was good, but quickly found out that all the contestants are totally disgusting people. So i asked to quit. To convince me to stay the producer offered me a free trip to Barcelona. But i refused. So he told me that thanks to me the show enjoys high ratings and promised me to donate half of the advertising revenue to cancer research. So i recalled the sad story of my school friend and agreed.

Shortly after i arrived at Barcelona, a phonecall from an ISP salesperson woke me up.

P.S. I sincerely wish Jade Goody and her family all the best.

Made Me Cry – Nikita

My nephew Nikita came to Israel to spend the summer with his grandparents – my parents. It was all fun, until two days before his flight back to Moscow he was hospitalized in Rambam with a bad case of peritonitis.

So his flight is postponed, of course. A week after the operation he can still hardly eat and walk. My parents sit at his bed in the hospital twenty-four seven and they are terribly tired, so i came to help them.

Today i sat with him for a few hours. He mostly slept. The TV was on with a low volume and i watched Music 24 (nonstandard1), the Israeli music channel.

The golden age of the music video has ended in about 1996. Back then MTV was the undisputed Master of the Universe and local videos, although very low-budget, aspired to the international big brother and had a lot of character. These days, however, nearly all Israeli music videos can be grouped into three sets:

  1. The singer is walking around the streets of Tel Aviv. And it’s the same couple of streets in all of them.
  2. The singer is walking around his rented apartment in Tel Aviv, makes coffee, watches TV, talks on the phone or goes down to the street to buy cigarettes.
  3. A huge close-up on the singer’s face. Obviously, this group is the most disgusting. I guess that too many video directors fell in love with Sinéad or – worse – with Alanis (Flash2).

By a rough count, nine out of ten videos falls into one of these, which is quite astonishing and depressing. It can ruin even good songs. But there are exceptions.

Eviatar Banai‘s video for “Yesh li sikuy” (Flash) is a quiet little masterpiece of music video making. The song itself is one of the all-time masterpieces of Israeli music; It is from Banai’s debut album. It’s black and white and it shows people in a bar lip synching to the song, subtly conveying the mood of the line they are singing. (Can you spot Banai himself there?)

Somewhere in the middle of the song there are those lines:

אמא שרה לבן בלילה,
אמא כאן לידך כל הזמן.

Mummy sings to the son in the night,
Mummy’s here near you all the time.

In the video a pregnant woman is singing the last line. You can hardly notice that she’s pregnant until she touches her belly. This subtlety is pure beauty.

I guess that it would make me cry even without the unfortunate circumstances, but sitting there in the hospital near sleeping Nikita while his mother was far away in Moscow did put things into a perspective.


I started writing this entry a few days ago. It was a pretty crazy bunch of days since then.

Nikita’s mother – my sister – Olga finally came to Israel today after fighting with travel agencies for a few days. His health became better.

Yesterday i bought him Gossip’s Standing in the Way of Control, a CD for which he was looking for months, in Moscow and in Israel. Finding it wasn’t easy. He was particularly happy to receive it, which may have contributed to his slowly improving health, too. Despite his current condition, i envy him; i don’t think that i shall ever be as touched by music as i used to be when i was his age.

Anyway, for the night he put it in a drawer next to his hospital bed and in the morning it wasn’t there. There is a slight chance that with all the fuss around him the CD was just misplaced and will be found, but everybody is sure that it was stolen.

I’m amazed. What a terrible scumbag someone must be to steal a rare CD from a sick child. I mean, i would at least understand the motivation if it was something famous, but even i hardly know this band, so what kind of a low life would want to steal it? He can get – what? – 20 NIS for it in a used CD store? Fukker.


1 Actually, the site seems to be mostly functional, but the videos use CastUp technology, which is IE-only. I never managed to install the Firefox plugin they offer, and even if it would work, it would only work on Windows. By the way, i (still) work for the company that recently announced the acquisition of CastUp. What do you know…

2 Sinéad O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” is not on YouTube. Alanis’ Head over Feet video is still there…

MY EARS!

I went to The Stooges concert on Saturday.

The show was excellent. Iggy did all his crazy antics without a shirt. Mike Watt was super-cool and had a little anchor pendant (he comes from a family of sailors).

But the sound was too loud. I didn’t feel it for the most of the time, except the end. But after the show my ears started ringing. Which is perfectly after a rock show. But they keep ringing until now – two days later. A lot of people are complaining about it – see the talkbacks on NRG and YNet.

No more rock shows without earplugs.

I always thought that only wussies put earplugs on a rock show. From now on i strongly prefer to be wussy than to have permanent damage inflicted on my ears. I really hope that this will pass.

This one drops the payload

I gave blood every six months for almost eight years. It gave me a warm feeling of saving people’s lives and an insurance that would entitle me to have free blood transfusion in case i would, God forbid, need one.

Last time i gave blood, a year ago, i received a letter from the Israeli Blood Bank director, Dr. Eilat Shen’ar. The letter said that a test had shown that i was found positive for Hepatitis C, but then they re-tested it and found that it was a false positive. Nevertheless, she wrote, i am kindly asked not to donate again.

My physician confirmed that i’m negative and healthy.

It pissed me off, so i called them and asked for an explanation, mentioning that i have the O-negative blood type, which is in high demand. They told me that it is Standard Procedure and advised to wait one year and call again.

I won’t tell the long story of the bureaucracy and the misunderstandings on the way, but after a year i did that test and today i got the results. False positive again. They don’t want my blood, even though they know that i’m healthy and that it can save someones life in case the bank runs out of O-negative, which often happens, especially in Israel, with all the explosions and the wars, not to mention the numerous car accidents. Standard Procedure, they say.

I am not a doctor, but even they admit that it’s not a matter of science but rather of bureaucracy. Here’s a proof that bureaucracy kills. Now i feel really bad, even though i probably did my best here. The best you can is good enough, you say? I am not convinced.