Saturday, October 31, 2020

Tweet of the day

If you are an every day American, who lives somewhere close to paycheck to paycheck, or maybe have a little savings, why in the world would you vote Republican?

They are not interested in you, only enriching themselves and their friends.

It's time to stop defining yourself as a member of a party and start thinking about your own future, and that of the next generation.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Sciencing at home

This is cool. Use a bar of chocolate, a microwave, and a little math to determine the speed of light. We need so much of *this*

Sports and covid intersect

Baseball had a plan that they "followed" very haphazardly. It was just a mess all season.

So last night, it's game 6 of the series. Some player for LA had previously had an inconclusive result, so they tested him yesterday morning.

The results came back positive in the 2nd inning. But they decided to leave him in the game until the 8th - when news leaked about his positive test. Gotta try and win AmIRight?

He was taken out, and was told to quarantine, which apparently meant just going into a room in the stadium, and then coming out to celebrate with the team after they won - naturally sans mask and hugging everyone.

So the sham of their protocol was on full display.

There was a thought that the mlb was probably glad it ended in 6, because having to deal with an outbreak before game 7 would have been problematic.

As a friend of mine said "it's like putting your hand on the stove over and over again just to see if it's hot"


Saturday, October 24, 2020

What the Saints, and the Superdome, Mean to New Orleans - The Atlantic

It's funny. I went to a fair number of games growing up, in the orange bowl, and the JRS in Miami.

I had season tickets for a number years and generally enjoyed myself.

But then I outgrew it. The price, the heat, the length of the day, and the realization that it was about money and nothing more undid my excitement for going.

And so I gave it up. Yeah it was a fun lark, and sure, they can have at it and maybe some will enjoy it.

But the experience is very different. And nostalgia is great, but you can't live in the past.

The experience at home is so much better and you can still have friends over if you like.

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

Thursday, October 22, 2020

The Amazing Randi

Sadly he passed away yesterday, and I think Penn summed it up well. 

I had been an admirer of Randi's from an early age. I liked magic growing up; the notion of illusions and patter, to really sell those illusions, intrigued me.

I think the first time I became aware of Randi was on an episode of "Happy Days"

But it wasn't until a few years later, when he started talking and writing about debunking mishigas,  that I really became somewhat of a fan. 

He was using his understanding of illusions to show how easily people are manipulated and set about trying to take down the biggest of the charlatans. 

In the mid 1980s, I was attending a magicians convention and Randi was a speaker. After one session, I started chatting with him and got invited to lunch. My dad and I tagged along, and it was ... well ... amazing. He was fascinating and had led an interesting life. 

We exchanged contact info and stayed in touch a little, then my brother hung out with him a couple of times, and my mom almost went to work for him as an assistant. So we sort of, kind of, knew him. 

But he was always a little standoffish, and a little odd, truth be told. And when I saw the Penn Jillette movie "an honest liar," I understood he was even more interesting and deeper than I ever knew. And maybe a little weirder. 

Anyway, I saw him a few times over the years, at speaking engagements and the SCIOP events we attended. And one time, we happened to be on the same flight, so we chatted before boarding. 

Each time, he was as pleasant as ever, though he didn't specifically remember me. 

I was intrigued by the work he was doing. Always thinking rationally and asking others to do the same. 

I was glad to have met him. I was saddened to hear of his passing. 

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

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Statistics are hard! (Whine)

We hear numbers all the time. And in particular, as it relates to COVID, there's a lot of noise among all the numbers you hear.

And oddly, interpretation of them became a partisan political issue. One person says X and the other says Y and they both support the assertion using statistics.

The media try and "pick a side" and try and report on what they see, but they wind up just reporting on either X or Y and never really question what they are reporting.

It's that way here. In Europe. And in most of the countries where you have an educated population and a healthy GDP. I guess that's how this goes?

Anyway, I heard an Australian broadcaster yesterday who had the audacity to not just report on what he saw on a series of graphs but to ask "why?" ... and that question led to some deeper insights in what the number means.

Look, when it comes to COVID you have some key metrics: number of cases, number of hospitalizations, and number of deaths.

And people argue about whether the death was COVID-related or if there was some underlying factor. Or if the person died of "something" but never got tested for COVID. So is the number accurate?

It's easy to get confused.

But here's the thing: if someone tested positive for COVID and died, then they died *of* COVID. Yes, there may have been an underlying condition. And that condition may have contributed to the persons death. But would they have died from that condition at this time if they didn't have COVID?

This is an infectious disease that does amplify and exacerbate some conditions. And it is worthwhile tracking these conditions so we understand the virus. But to dismiss the deaths as not Covid, when someone tests positive is trying to promote an agenda.

I heard a state medical examiner explaining that it evens out anyway, which makes some sense. Some people may never have been tested. Some may have died of other causes. But the fact is they died.

You can see how hospitalizations might be similar.

Now to infection rate. There's a problem here. You get tested and... hey you're positive! Now quarantine yourself and maybe we do contact tracing, and maybe not. But you are just a data point - unless you get sick.

If we took the actual testing seriously, invested in more rapid testing, took the time to understand that a positive or negative test on its own isn't particularly helpful - the jury is still out on your ability to transmit and what positivity actually means - then maybe we could do something meaningful with the info.

But as it stands? Not so much.

So in the end, we get a stand-alone number of positive test results. It would be helpful to actually know the rate of transmission. To understand this number in the context of number of tests administered, or against the population on the whole.

And then, perhaps the most meaningful thing we can use is the number of deaths stacked against the positivity rate.

That statistic may be useful.

I have been looking at the (reported) tests administered. That's about 80 million. With a population of 330 million, that's roughly 1/4 of the country's population that's been tested. Some people have been tested more than once, so if we assume something like 40 million real people; and that takes us to closer to 1 in 8 people being tested.

Probably not enough to really understand the spread, and do something meaningful, but it's a start.

We also know the number of positive tests. It sits currently at about 8 million. Or close to 10% positivity rate.

But here we get stuck again with the numbers because we don't know some things about how frequently people get tested, or how that relates to the population, or where they got tested (say an urban or remote, so you don't know if there's an outbreak), or the transmission rate.

It's an indicator. But on its own it's not the most meaningful number.

As an indicator, it would suggest only 2.5% of the population has tested positive. Perhaps less, given the number of people who get retested.

But as it's based on the testing rate, that's probably not accurate or fair. The rate will go up if there's more testing. That's how math works.

Now the death rate against the positivity rate is meaningful. If we take the ~270k (.27 million to keep the units the same) Covid related deaths against the 8 million positive tests, we are at about 3% of the population who have died as a result of the virus.

But here's something interesting. Back in the July peak, the deaths vs positivity rate was about 2%.

So something is happening. What, though?

And you may realize that this virus has mutated since it was first discovered, so that makes the statistics less meaningful in a way.

It just keeps us guessing.

This is where we really need an organization like the CDC to step up and do their job, reporting accurately and consistently and tracking the spread. That's what they are chartered to do.

Unfortunately, though, the dumbass in the Oval Office decided to neuter them and further politicize everything about the spread.

He's now saying "we've controlled it and eradicated it" which is dishonest and misleading.

Even the stats can't support that.

So I suggest you question what you hear. What does it *mean*? Is it useful
On its own?

Don't get bogged down in the stats you hear or see. Think logically about why this piece of information is being shared.

Five Ways Marco Rubio Is Just Like Scooby-Doo

Plus he'll get into any cockamamie plan in exchange for a Scooby snack. 

And he stood on a stage after parkland and talked about his desire to keep taking money from the nra, saying in effect, "and I would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn't been for you meddling kids!"

Five Ways Marco Rubio Is Just Like Scooby-Doo

Five Ways Marco Rubio Is Just Like Scooby-Doo

Many have wondered how Senator Marco Rubio, a cowardly Miami native legally classified as a mollusk, remains so popular in Miami despite doing absolutely nothing for anyone in Miami. After a careful review of the Senator's record and talking to the men who used to hang out in the Tropical Park bathrooms that knew him as a youth, we discovered that the qualities that keep Rubio relevant are the same ones that skyrocketed Scooby "Dooby" Doo to popularity all those years ago.

Here are 5 ways Marco Rubio is just like Scooby-Doo.

They're both cowards

Scooby-Doo's cowardice is one of his defining traits. He runs from every problem he faces, whether it be a ghost, a monster, a bath, or personal responsibility. While Scoob's cowardice can get in the way, and indeed, sometimes instigates antics among his gang of meddling kids, he always redeems herself once Velma gives him a Scooby-Snack which gives him the courage needed to save the day.

Marco is also a coward unwilling to protect his constituents by standing up against his party's dog whistle immigration policies and is too petrified to criticize literally anything Trump has ever done. Like Scooby, Marco Rubio knows he is a coward, which upsets him, and he occasionally tries to eat a Marco Snack for courage. Unfortunately, "Marco Snacks" are just croquettes from Vicky's which are so oily they tend to just make him tired and not brave.

They both believe in consolidating wealth at the top

Senator Rubio loves low taxes and is a staunch believer in trickle down economics. The economic policies he supports lets the rich exploit the efforts of the working class by funneling profits up through essentially tax-exempt corporate entities. This is exactly like how Scooby-Doo uses a very-long straw to secretly suck up his friends' milkshakes before they notice, even though they did all the work of getting the milkshake because dogs can't buy milkshakes.

Scoob at least is honest and direct with his theft and says "ROUGH ROUGH SARRY, FRED" after he laps up Fred's sandwich with his tongue. Marco, on the other hand, is not an honest thief and would steal Daphne's pig to give to the butcher without any shame or even inviting her over for lechon.

They are both totally divorced from their ethnicity

It's a well-documented fact that "Scoob" is a DINO (Dog In Name Only) who spends all his time with humans who keep him around only for the sake of saying they have a dog. He's clearly treated as lesser than his peers, with only shaggy making any attempt to understand dog culture.

Marco-Doo is the only prominent Hispanic Republican in the Senate, with the notable exception of Ted Cruz, who is such a hated twerp he would definitely be Scrappy-Doo by analogy. Rubio, like Scooby, totally eschews his Hispanic heritage and culture only displaying it when he wants to bark at the cat of communism.

They both have brown hair

In Scooby's case it's more like fur and he has a lot more of it since Rubio isn't a dog and is going sort of bald too. But either way, brown.

They're both two-dimensional characters obsessed with taking down 1960's era villains that don't pose a threat to anyone anymore

For all his faults, Marco Rubio, like Scooby-Doo, just wants the people who own him to think he is a "good boy, yes he is, a very good boy." And like his cartoon counterpart, Marco Rubio thinks the way to achieve affection is to fight 1960's-era villains. For Scooby-Doo, this makes sense since he is a cartoon character from the 1960's. But Marco Rubio isn't a cartoon dog from the 1960's, he is a U.S. Senator.

And Fidel Castro is dead.

Bit even for all of his posturing about Castro and the problems with communism, Marco wants so desperately to have his tummy rubbed by the white man in the ascot that he is willing to ignore Trump's dealings with Castro and the Cuban government over the years. What's worse, with all of his obsession with what has happened in Cuba or Venezuela long ago, he ignores the many issues happening back home in Westchester where he may or may not used to have gotten handjobs from strange men in the Tropical Park bathroom in the 90's. Zoinks.

Friday, October 16, 2020

About science

I saw it several of the comments on Nyes video, and I've heard it before, "he's not a scientist"

Which always make me bristle. Anyone who studies science is, by definition, a scientist.

And what is the definition of science? The systematic study of the world.

And a scientist is someone who studies the natural world or has training in the sciences (of which engineering is one of these sciences)

And how does one do this? Why using a systematic approach with a little thing called the scientific method.

Failing to grasp these basic principles illustrates the problems we face. People are uneducated and don't care. They dismiss science rather than accept truths.

You want to debate the causes of climate change? Go right ahead. But when the evidence suggests there are changes in climate - more (and more destructive) storms, patterns that are outside of the norms for when winter starts, ocean temperature rise, so changes to ice sheets - those are things that are demonstrably happening. And we can and should study them and understand the consequences and act accordingly.

Put aside your conspiracies or thoughts of some kind of deep state. And act in our own best interests, as humans who exist on this planet.

Of course, that's just one example. There are more things like that to consider.

Go out. Observe. Take notes. Learn. Grow. Maybe try a simple experiment yourself just to see how easy it is to study something and draw a conclusion.

21st century Flat-Earthers? 'What?' Bill Nye talks science and exploration

I realized a few days ago that while I have an intense dislike (perhaps hate) for trump and people who support him, back him, and otherwise enable him, my biggest problem is that he is distinctly anti-science.

You can say whatever you want about his policies and attitudes about a variety of subjects, but at its core is the fundamental problem that basic facts, the observable universe, doesn’t matter. At the core of it all is this sort of weirdness where he saying “what are you going to believe - your own eyes, or what I’m telling you?”

Science is the one truth, and if we can’t support that, then we really have nothing. Flat earth, really? Anti vaccine? Anti science? If that continues to build, then we really are doomed as a society, perhaps as humans.

So like I say “stop the insanity!”  Don’t dismiss science and fall into the stupid trap.

And by the way, he points out that Article I, section 8, clause 8 of the constitution reads:

  • To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

    I would agree that this is one of the bigger problems as it relates to people being anti science. They are so aligned with Murica and our constitution... but only when it fits the narrative. Being anti-science is unAmerican!

    Monday, October 12, 2020

    Regeneron CEO: Trump ‘is a case of one’ and ‘weakest evidence’ for Covid-19 treatment

    "The president's case is a case of one, and that's what we call a case report, and it is evidence of what's happening, but it's kind of the weakest evidence that you can get," Schleifer said.

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

    Saturday, October 10, 2020


    Orange on the outside.
    Hollow on the inside.
    Must be thrown out in November.

    Thursday, October 8, 2020

    Covid drug given to Trump developed using cells derived from aborted fetus | Coronavirus outbreak | The Guardian

    This is the kind of shit that makes me laugh aloud.

    "Abortion is bad! We have to ban fetal tissue use!"

    It's used to literally save his life and...everyone is happy?!

    And then he says everyone should access to this treatment.


    Dumbassery is alive and well!