Sunday, July 26, 2020

A reminder from lil marco

The reality is, without our Senate majority you can expect Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to go full throttle with their radical socialist agenda. We'll get a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and skyrocketing taxes on you to pay for it. This isn't the American way and we know this isn't what you stand for. 

This was an a fundraising email. It reminds us of exactly why Democrats should take back the senate. Finally we could take action on things that actually matter. 

And as for his "taxes will skyrocket" ummm, that's hyperbole. Our medical cost today is about equal to what Medicare-for-all would cost over the course of a decade. 

So this is absolutely what we stand for. 

Don't listen to the noise. Vote them out and let's lead the world as a nation that takes care of its people and is progressive!

Friday, July 24, 2020

That cognitive assessment

It seems odd that trump is so fixated on the test he took...3 years ago!

As far as anyone can tell it's the "standard" test used to evaluate cognitive decline. It's administered to people with various cognitive disorders, people who experienced head injuries, and for early evaluations of dementia, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's.

It is not "30 questions" but it typically scores 30 points. Doctors don't say you did great, or the best, it's just a tool for evaluation. And they don't give "extra" points (like giving a seal a fish) because that's not how it works.

The questions don't get harder, it's consistent in its design.

It's not administered at random or to everyone. It's only administered when there's some cause for concern. Perhaps trump took it as part of his medical evaluation when he ascended to the office; it does seem peculiar there hasn't been follow up that we know of.

And why do I know anything about this? Because my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's a few years ago, and during the initial evaluation, he took several variations on the test. It's more or less the same, it's just that the words the ask you to remember and the pictures they ask you about do change.

But what gets missed along the way is that there are no context clues. When trump gave an interview where he listed off some words, and then repeated them, he was picking objects he saw.

The words they give you - like Apple, table, horse - have nothing in common and wouldn't be seen in medical facilities.

But they do also quiz you on things like the date, where you are, and so on.

In my dads case, he had enough awareness to use clues around him to answer most of those questions. And then it got harder.

As for the test itself, it was interesting to watch his mind slip away. He had good days where he could do more of the test, some days he got some answers, other days it was different answers.

I believe he had an awareness of what was happening to him, though he couldn't say anything about it. Early on, he said he felt great and tried hard to stay sharp. When he'd take the test he'd talk about how well he did. IMHO I think he was afraid of what was happening and trying to tell himself that he was okay. Like trump, he sometimes talked about this test. It was a means of coping.

I'd Be curious how trump does on a test today, 3 years later. Is he trying to convince himself that he's okay?

At some point, they stopped administering the test to my dad. He had Alzheimer's. Every test and MRI told us that. There was no reason to conduct it. All it could tell us was generally how fast it was progressing.

But my mom kept giving him the tests. And while it wasn't helpful it was interesting. He kept having good and bad days. And some questions he couldn't answer at all.

Surely trump is cognitive decline, we deserve to know how severe it is and whether it affects his ability to govern.

Sunday, July 19, 2020


I hadn't watched this film, and in many ways, shame on me.

But, given where we are today in this country, we decided to make it family movie night.

The movie itself is quite good. You get a sense of what the era was like, and the struggles for social justice.

As I sat there and watched it, all I could think was that this took place about 100 years after the slaves were emancipated. And yes, there was "progress" but in so many ways the blacks were still held back. And so that progress rings a little hollow.

There were strides because of Selma. The voting rights act was big. And the court battles also helped.

...but here we are in 2020 talking about some of the same issues. The black lives matter movement extends on the same topics: all anyone wants is to be treated equally. But there are so many racists still out there who just don't care.

At least Martin Luther King, jr has Johnson's ear. I can't imagine that anyone has trumps ear.

How did Japan crush the coronavirus? Hint: #WearADamnMask

It was quite simple, actually. They got everyone to buy into the idea of wearing a mask.

If only our country could follow suit, even today, I'm sure we could get this virus under control.

But I guess we're too exceptional and too entitled to actually do anything that requires a little sacrifice?

You can read all about Japan's success here (as well as hundreds of other sites around the web).

Japan crushed COVID-19 by masking while Trump mocks masks | Trudy Rubin

Short. Sweet. To the point. That's the beauty Dave's iPhone.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

On mask wearing

Trump reminded us yet again that masks aren't really necessary because.... and here you can insert any talking point or hyperbole because it doesn't matter.

He goes on to remind us (as many opponents of masks do) that dr. Fauci had said early this year they weren't necessary and so "that is that," and anything he says now must be wrong or because of ... again insert whatever you like.

But here's the thing that he's missing. Scientists, engineers, doctors, and others can and do update their thoughts based on a little something called the scientific method...and while there is no exact, specific definition to this, it's been around for as long as we've been a nation.

The basic premise is that it follows these steps: systematic observation, followed by measurement, and then create a hypothesis and create an experiment to test that hypothesis. Repeat as needed, or as you learn new things.

What that means is that we take in new information, and test it against what we know.

You can have an opinion, like say masks have limited effect in society, but are necessary in some scenarios. And then you get new information, like masks do limit the spread of germs, and other countries have seen a positive effect from their use. So you form a hypothesis "masks would be helpful in society" and you test that.

Several studies were done, showing how mask wearing slows the spread of the virus.

We can accept the hypothesis that we laid out. And then you form a new conclusion. Oh look, masks on everyone would help. We should wear them.

So, in a way, he didn’t change his mind, rather, he updated his position based on new information. Which is what we do.

The challenge is always in presenting these conclusions, or findings. Because people often don’t want to be confronted with anything that sways their long-held beliefs, or contradicts what they know to this point (ie, the rebel flag is a symbol of “heritage” even though it was the battle flag of a losing cause)

So, the discussion about masks falls on many deaf ears because the guy at the top doesn’t care/can’t be bothered/doesn’t understand. If he just said “wear a mask” with some consistency, the conversation would change. And the science might be accepted.

Friday, July 17, 2020

A reminder: voting matters

Back in 2000, W Bush beat Gore to lead the nation. It all came down to a recount in Florida and the vote difference was around 650 ballots. That's it.

If a few more people had voted, things may have worked out differently.

And now, here we are in 2020, looking at our idiot florida governor and wondering if things could be different, and looking at the nitwit named trump and wondering what went wrong...

And here's the thing: in 2018 Bill Nelson was running for re-election against Rick Scott for the senate seat. If Nelson had won, it's possible that he might have been the vote to remove trump from office. And we wouldn't be in this predicament.

And the governor was on that ballot running against Gillum, who seemed to actually, I dunno, actually care about florida... rather than just sucking up.

If deathsantis weren't the governor maybe things would be different, because, you know, maybe there would have been an actual lockdown and a mask order.

....the reality is that both of those races trigged recounts. They were really, really close. I believe the senate seat was within 1,000 votes and the governor was 8,000 or so.

Voter turnout was higher than typical mid-terms, with about 53% coming out. But imagine if it was just 2-3% higher; there would have been 175,000 more ballots in play.

That could have made a difference.

So remember that when the time comes in November! Vote. Vote to remove this asshole from power. Vote to restore common decency. Vote to have your voice heard.

Don't sit home. Your vote can and does matter.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Sometimes I wonder about what will happen next

You turn on the news, or pop over to social media and you hear that Trump is staging a coup, or setting himself up to fail.  Or any one of a number of things.

Lets take a look at some of them, and I'll add a few of my own:
  • Trump is going to contest the result if he loses, essentially promoting himself to dictator - so much for a accepting the results.  But he certainly has laid the groundwork for this one by claiming there WILL be fraud.  Not sure what would happen here.  Turn to the Supreme Court?
  • Trump won't leave the whitehouse if he loses, setting up a showdown with the next administration - hey about that peaceful transition of power (which hopefully will spark some of those around him to act, maybe?)
  • Trump has "secret" support and will win anyway.  Like last time, its possible there could be some interference, but from whom and it what form remains anyone's guess.  Most world leaders hold him at arms length, and I'm not even sure he has Russia's support anymore.  He was a useful idiot, but the damage he's doing right now is probably better than what he could do over 4 more years time.
And now to some of my thoughts:
  • The GOP could simply cut him loose and see if they can make progress with retaining the Senate.  Which could spell an early demise for him - and perhaps they even encourage him to accept the outcome or to step aside before the election
  • He simply quits.  This is probably the most complicated outcome.
    • Option A is he quits just to muck things up.  He just decides not to seek re-election because people don't like and respect him, and so he pouts and leaves.  And that leaves the GOP scrambling to support Pence.  Or they look for a way to add a candidate (which seems unlikely).  Trump would create more damage from this than anyone can guess.
    • Option B is he quits, but he plans it so that Pence can pardon him.  It doesn't muck things up in quite the same way, but does cause some damage because of abuse of power issues.
In any case, the reality is that he is doing things today that are fairly damaging.  From his insistence that students go back to school, to not managing the virus at all, to trying to kick out students, to gifting money to donors, to just railing against everyone, to still fighting to withhold his taxes (there's only one kind of person who does that by the way: a criminal with something to hide), to his xenophobia, to his environmental responses, to his mishandling of the Russian bounty program, to his continual assault on our constitution, we will be damaged for many years to come.

So no matter what we are screwed for many years to come.

I guess we'll see where this goes.

A followup up on our response to the coronavirus

I was reading an article last night in Science Magazine (an actual science journal, with peer-reviewed information presented in a fact-based manner, without sensationalism, and no bobble head trying to tell you what to think) about the way the coronavirus has mutated and what that means going forward.

To summarize one key point, there is no belief among scientists that there is - or will be - any sort of permanent immunity.  That eliminates any thoughts of herd immunity or that this can simply run its course.  Nope, this will not go away.  Unless, as they say, we get really lucky and it mutates in a way that would mostly neuter it.  Or until we come up with a vaccine (which, again, likely will be a temporary thing, more like a flu shot that will need an annual booster).

So if we listen to science, then we understand things.  There is a very real danger in this virus. And people who continue to spout nonsense saying stupid things like "its not that bad" or "its a hoax" or "there's no real risk, we should just get back to life as we knew it" are missing the point.

They are putting us all at risk.  And the person who sits in the Oval Office isn't doing us any favors either.

Look, we can still find a way to fight this virus, AND return to a semblance of normal.  Want to know what we can do?  Two things.  First, and foremost, there should be a national policy of mask wearing.  That's a no brainer that's really easy, and if it was presented as a way to prevent the spread, maybe people would listen.

The second is a government action.  And its to provide enough testing to actual understand the spread and do more in areas where outbreaks occur, but allow life to go on a little in areas that don't have an uptick in cases.

If I look at Florida, we have 67 counties.  Lets say you put 100 testing centers in each county, that's 6,700 testing centers.  If we assume that all states are the same, you're talking about 335,000 nationwide.  Sure, some places won't need as many, and you could fill in with other types of testing (hospitals and clinics, etc) to fill in.  But make them all just available 7 days a week for anyone that wants to get tested. And for free.

You'd need a central repository for information of course, but why not work with a big player in the tech space to develop something relatively quickly to use.  There would be a cost, and additional sites to review the results - and that will be whatever it is, but think about the money "wasted' in the PPP and other things - surely this would be less costly and give you a bigger benefit.

You could create a team whose job it is to do followups and contact tracing - someone tests positive, lets take the time to figure out who they came into contact with and get as many of them tested as we can. (hey, look, in some cases you're putting people to work).

What would happen?  People might go and get tested anytime they feel sick.  They'd be likely to go back and tested again later.  We could be testing for the virus and antibodies.  We could be looking at the long-term effects of exposure.  And of course, we'd get better, faster, and more efficient with the testing over time.

If you tag it to drivers license or phone number or something, you would be able to easily keep track of everyone and their progress.

I mean, its going to be hard to setup, but you might actually start coming up with better means of testing, of getting good information that tells you something about the virus.

Its really fairly "simple" on the surface.  Its logical.  Makes sense.

And that's exactly why we'll never do it.

Broadway and job losses

After I saw Hamilton, I started watching more youtube videos about the performance.  And I stumbled onto this mini-series were Adam Savage goes behind the scenes to see how the show comes together.

Its a fascinating look at what it takes to put on a production, and just how talented some people are - people that you never see, and who get little credit.

I've linked several episodes below, and they are worth watching.  But consider for a moment that while we think about the performers being essentially unemployed while Broadway is dark - there are the unseen folks who drive the production and have other skills (likely most of them can't sing or dance and may never have a desire to!) are also out of work for now.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Anybody want to do something about coronavirus?

There's this weird thing happening in the US right now. No one seems to have any plans for how to deal with the coronavirus, and there's a lot of misinformation, and mistrust for scientists and public health officials for various reasons.

And then there are wild, and ridiculous conspiracy theories, and that all of this is a hoax because a friend-of-a-friend has this or that happen or they don't know anyone who got it, or everyone is lying. 

But my bigger issue has to do with the inaction on the part of our government. They have decided that the economy is the only important thing, and that public health doesn't matter.  They want to let the virus "run it's course" or let herd immunity take over. 

There are two inherent flaws in the logic: (1) there is absolutely no consensus or scientific evidence in support of the virus infecting you just once, nor do we know if you remain a carrier (or for how long) after you've tested positive or recovered. 

And (2) there is no plan to actually do anything other than throw our hands up. No research into finding ways to prevent the spread. No mask mandate to slow the spread. No real contact tracing. No increase in the amount or availability of testing to be able to see if the plan is working. Ideally you should be regularly testing large numbers of people to validate the virus isn't recurring.

So about the "let it runs its course" - without adequate testing this is likely to continue to propagate and hospitals will be filled for quite some time. And we don't know what that means. 6 months? (It’s already been 4 1/2) A year? Forever? And holding out hope for a vaccine that will immunize you forever is just silly. That ain’t reality. 

As for expecting "herd immunity" first let's look at what that means:

Herd immunity (also called herd effectcommunity immunitypopulation immunity, or social immunity) is a form of indirect protection from infectious disease that occurs when a large percentage of a population has become immune to an infection, whether through vaccination or previous infections, thereby providing a measure of protection for individuals who are not immune.

So in essence it's people who have an immunity protecting those that don't. It works for many things. And in theory it sounds like it would work with this. Only we don't know if you can develop an immunity based on having had it. 

If we were actively looking at people who had it, following its course, and understanding the virus on a large scale then maybe this would work. 

But going into it blindly and hoping for the best is stupid. Hope is never a strategy. You can't wish this away. 

And if it propagates to a larger number of people then the economy is doomed anyway. 

So the idea that the only focus should be the economy is nonsense. 

We're screwed. And the only way out appears to be new leadership. Just saying. 

Short. Sweet. To the point. That's the beauty Dave's iPhone.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Do as I say, not as I do.

But there's fraud with mail in ballots! Can't vote by mail...eyes roll....

... and then this happens.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

On Florida schools.

Funny thought: when the theme parks/amusements/attractions presented their plans for re-opening, I watched part of the live stream....Some lady from I Fly (indoor skydiving) gave her presentation from the passenger seat of a moving car. It was simply hilarious.

But now that I think about it, the lady in the moving car talking about how to safely re-open indoor skydiving got more attention than the entirety of Florida's public schools!

The governor never created a "task force" and never spoke with any districts, nor did the commissioner of education. And when the mandate came out last week for in-person 5-day-a-week schooling being to be offered, most school boards were shocked or surprised.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Music as a form of expression

I saw some random twitter thread where a musician was being criticized because his messages were “becoming too political, I just want to listen to your music...”

The artist responded by saying “it’s funny. If you listen to the lyrics of my songs, you’d realize that my songs express the same point of view. So thanks for listening.”

And that’s the thing. Music expresses something.  Whether it’s a love ballad or a political statement, music is often telling a story.

There’s an interesting thing that happened after the Kent a State Massacre: a music revolution was born. You can read more about it here

So, yes, even Devo‘s “whip it” is about American optimism - in spite of its somewhat silly lyrics. I’ve talked about “walking in the sun before” but how about “land of confusion,” whose meaning becomes clearer if you watch the video, or “it’s like that” which in many ways expresses some of things we’re seeing today.

What was punk rock, exactly? Listen to a song like “rock the casbah” which went mainstream  sometime and see what you think.

I just find it interesting that people miss the simple point. “I like the music...wait it’s about what exactly?!”

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The Surprisingly Controversial History Of Seat Belts | Wisconsin Public Radio

Funny how much the arguments against masks sound like the argument against seat belts...

Short. Sweet. To the point. That's the beauty Dave's iPhone.

I assume that’s racist?

Not living in Arizona, and with the world on fire, I didn't notice that "Sherriff Joe" is running for elected office.

You know, the guy who was convicted of unabashed racial profiling in his role as Sherriff, and was sentenced to prison for his crimes.

The same guy who trump pardoned. Meaning he was released from prison - but in a court ruling his conviction still stands.

And the amazing thing is that in spite of his felony conviction, he can run for public office.

And yet, people who were convicted of lesser crimes, who served their time, are often not eligible to vote.

What gives? Is it because our prison system disproportionately incarcerates black people? And a guy who's white and convicted of a crime just "made a mistake"?

I weep for our nation sometimes.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

We need more fun stories like this!

Watch the video. It's fun and innovative. 😁

Short. Sweet. To the point. That's the beauty Dave's iPhone. 

An update from the land of the idiots

Florida man (a/k/a our gov) has made clear he is not slowing the re-opening plans whatsoever. He wants business, schools, and theme parks open! And of course he refuses to mandate mask wearing.

He's been doing a lot of blaming for the increase in cases. Mostly it's "young people who don't follow the rules" and because they won't anyway, it's okay to just go ahead.

The word nitwit appears in the dictionary because of people like him.

About schools. The universities are expected to open "business as usual" with some guidelines in place for masks and gatherings. Each university has its own plan and they're all a bit confusing. Most are telling students to return for in person classes in August. (And the football team has already reported at most, because that's about $$$).

Broward county Public schools are an absolute mess. The school board came up with a lot of options (some of them kind of clever, like using high schools for grade school students to allow for more social distancing, and having high schoolers stay at home), but ultimately was leaning to a schedule of Mon and Tue with half the students on campus, wed as a cleaning day, then Thur and Friday for the other half on campus for all schools. The other 3 days would be virtual.

And then along came a vocal group of parents who argued that they have to work and school is important so students should all go 5 days.

And now the school board is reconsidering, sort of. But there are limiting factors.

(a) they've already mandated face coverings and social distancing; to that end they've capped class size at 14 to have students sit 6' apart. Typical class size is closer to 30 so there is a gap.

(2) budgets have been slashed by around 25% so there's no room to hire any additional staff. Nor will there be any programs beyond just required classes.

And (iii) class starts on 8/19 with teachers reporting on 8/12.

Without having figured out any of the big details, they haven't even begun to consider schedules, basic curriculum, bussing, etc.

Not to mention the safety aspect. Someone on the school board started asking what happens when a teacher gets sick? What about a student? They can't do the testing at the school, so they have to send them home and tell them to quarantine for 14 days - and they can return after that. How could that be enforced? And do they bear responsibility to pass along info to families if someone gets sick?

And, by the way, all 67 counties in Florida have to come up with their own plan and figure out the rules - because florida man doesn't think it's his duty to help. Nor can he provide any guidance.

A rational analysis of theTrump Russian bounty scandal

This is well thought out and reasoned. And if you are still supporting trump (and why would you be if you’re reading this? I’m too intellectual for most of you) then fuck off.