Archive for the ‘COVID-19’ Category

Being a pro-vaxer

Monday, December 13th, 2021

So, many might wonder why I, who am so openly critical of the USA’s healthcare system, am so strongly pro the COVID vax.

The first and most obvious reason is most of the time doctors have no skin in the game. They don’t have to cure you to get paid. They can charge anything they want for fixing nothing, and as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, over and over and over they do exactly that. The only time I’ve seen doctors do a consistently good job is on things like heart surgery where if they don’t do it, the patient dies and they don’t get paid.

However, in the case of the COVID vax, they very *much* have skin in the game. This is their *lives*, and the lives of their friends, which are at risk. As such, I believe they did the best job they could with the vaccine.

Not only that, but vaccine technology is a international thing, and most of Europe has dramatically better healthcare than we do. (Hell, Cuba has better healthcare than we do). Because it’s a international effort, I also believe that it is trustworthy. While one country might suppress data, it is very difficult to believe that the entire world would do so or would even have a reason to do so.

So, despite my criticisms of the US healthcare system, I believe that the vaccine is 99.997% safe, is a better gamble than getting the virus without the protection of the vaccinate, and is something everyone who has the option (obviously some immunocompromised and currently under treatment for cancer do not) should do. We have seen independent reporting by many newspapers in many different parts of the country and even the world showing a average of a 7-1 ratio of non-vaccinated to vaccinated in the hospital. The vaccine is not *perfect* – I know of several cases where people (usually in their 80s, to be fair) have died after taking it. But it still increases your odds a *lot*, and, after all, the tab is being picked up by uncle sam.

COVID and religion

Sunday, May 2nd, 2021

I am curious how many less people would be dead of COVID if there were not religion in the world.

Impact of vaccines on cases.

Saturday, February 6th, 2021

So, supposedly the ‘experts’ are claiming that the current decline in COVID cases has nothing to do with the vaccines. My suspicion is these “experts” have not played with a computer simulation. (Source: USA Today)

In my simulations, spread of a virally propagating phenomenon is *extremely* sensitive to changes in Nsub0, the number of cases that each case goes on to generate. Lower Nsub0 by 8%, the output effect is much more than 8% reduced. Lower it below 1.0, the fire slowly goes out.

I do agree that some of the decline in cases is because we’re being more careful because of the peak in cases. But I also suspect some of why people are being more careful is there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s much more difficult to say “let’s remain vigilant for a indefinite period of time” than it is to say “let’s remain vigilant for five more months”, which is what we’re now looking at. As a result, people who ordinarily would be less careful are being more careful. I have several friends this is true of. Therefore, the vaccine has a psychological effect that lowers Nsub0, as well as the ways that it obviously physically reduces Nsub0.

Now, I’ll also acknowledge some of the reduction of cases is we no longer have incompetent clowns at the helm – the ship is now being steered by adults, and as a result we’re probably not going to run into every single reef we possibly could any more. All that said, I guarantee you at least 1% – and more likely 10-15% – of the reduction in cases is the result of the vaccine.

We’re #1! We’re #1!

Monday, January 4th, 2021

So, as of right now, the US is now *double* our closest competitor in terms of COVID cases – and our closest competitor is *India*, a country with 3x the population we have.

I’m inclined to blame a lot of things, including a incompetent, incredibly selfish government (especially the Republicans) which is only interested in it’s own selfish ends and not the needs of the people it is governing, our capitalism as a religion (call in sick for work? You’re barely making rent as it is..), our incredibly awful medical system that exists first and foremost to make more billions for the billionaires, with taking care of the health of the people who use it as a very distant second, let’s not forget our president who has the mentality of a toddler and the IQ of Alexa – he keeps thinking – and telling people – and apparently a lot of people are dumb enough or brainwashed enough to listen – that it will just go away. And of course let’s talk about how people on the right are both dumb enough and delusional enough to politicize *wearing a mask*. I guess the good news is there will be less of them next year, but the bad news on that front is unfortunately most of the ones who will die have already reproduced.

Yes, there’s plenty of blame to go around. But will we learn? Will we stop spending trillions on tools to blow up other countries so we can steal their oil and start spending trillions on price-no-object health care?

No, probably not. In the meantime a large and disturbing number of people want to overthrow the results of the current election (I can tell you, after personally digging through millions of rows of data, that the number of people cheating on the election is statistically insignificant. It wouldn’t even change a election won by only 20k. Republicans have just increasingly become believers of “if you can’t win, cheat” – and what better way to cheat than by claiming the other side cheated? I mean, it worked in 2016 – while we know Trump used to walk in on teens in beauty pageants and there’s any number of creepy pictures with him and various young girls, the message was pushed hard that Clinton was running a child sex ring. And people bought it.

I guess I shouldn’t let these things bother me since after all there is nothing I can do about them. But it is depressing as anything.

COVID vaccines – we’re not very bright sometimes

Thursday, December 31st, 2020

So, our strategy for COVID vaccinations is both lousy and stupid.

I quote USA TODAY: “More than 12.4 million vaccine doses have been distributed across the U.S., while nearly 2.8 million doses have been administered as of Thursday, per CDC data


We shouldn’t be handing the task of figuring out who gets vaccines to the government. We shouldn’t be doing *anything* to overcomplicate this. Whoever shows up to get a vaccines, gets vaccinated. First come, first serve.


While we may minimize deaths by trying to vaccinate the most vulnerable first, we are probably maximizing spread, because these are the people least likely to be travelling, working, etc. The most optimum situation is to just get shots in arms, as quickly as posssible. Ask people to make their best guess as to what wave they should be in, and then show up and get vaccinated.


We’re not going to hit the most optimum choice of who gets vaxxed when no matter what – I’d need weeks of playing with a computer to even approximate the right answer to that. But by trying to optimize it,  and inserting a bunch of bureaucratic bullshit, we might well hit the most pessimal case.


So, my basic message – which will get ignored – is, people running the country, every person who gets vaccinated is a minimum of one less case, and if they’re a busy, active, travelling, or interfacing with the people case, it’s like 3-300. Until we’re down to less than a million vaxes in reserve, give it to anyone who will take it.



Trump and COVID

Thursday, October 1st, 2020

I’m trying to figure out how I feel about thew news that Trump has COVID.

While I’ll be the first to admit that him dying of the disease that he helped spread would be a very poetic end, I also suspect I’d find it deeply unsatisfying. This is partially because I have two entirely contradictory thoughts about it – one of which I wish I didn’t have, because it speaks to me having a flaw that seems to be common to humans, and the other which I think most people would agree is reasonable.

The first thought is a desire to see him punished for the massive harm he’s done to our world and the people in it. While it’s true Trump hasn’t hurt as many people as Dubya, he has hurt millions and millions of people and made the world a less safe and less desirable to live in place. I generally don’t think we should punish people, although we should set them up for situations that invite rehabilitation, but there is a part of me that wants Trump to get repeatedly beaten by the very cops he told to be more violent when arresting people, and wants him to hear the slam of the jail cell and feel the steel bracelets and know that ultimately he did not get away with it. I don’t really like what this thought says about me – I know that anger is a reasonable response to being hurt and Trump has hurt us all, but I also don’t think it does any good for anyone to hurt back simply because we’ve been hurt.

The second thought is a desire for redemption for Trump. I want some sort of Hollywood-style character arc where he learns and grows, and if he dies now that becomes impossible – whereas if he lives through COVID but faces some of the fears that I would imagine are associated with having it and realizes some of what he’s done to the world maybe he can be a tiny smidge less self centered and less horrible in the future. I think this is something we should all want for each other.

Anyway, for the second reason I am going to wish him a full recovery but hopefully enough of a symptomatic experience to learn some things.

The delusional thinking is strong with these folks

Saturday, August 1st, 2020

So, I was looking at a list of everyone’s plans for COVID and schooling (this one) and I was impressed at how many people plan on reopening schools. We know from several recent event with school summer camps that despite the idiocy of the idiot-in-chief, children do in fact catch and spread COVID. As such, there is really no hope for a in-person reopening this year. Nonetheless, large numbers of people have deluded themselves into thinking this is what they should do. We also know, by the way, that in rare cases (maybe 1:10,000) COVID kills perfectly healthy children. So, this decision is likely to kill hundreds of kids.

Part of what’s frustrating to me is we see Trump being wrong, over and over. He keeps making statements that are obviously wrong. We’ve seen the GOP be wrong over and over about things that got people killed, and they just keep standing up and making more wrong statements and people eep identifying with them and loving them because after all, if they voted for democrats a bum somewhere might get a free beer and that’s the most horrifying thing that could ever happen. Never mind the hundreds of billions of dollars we spend murdering people around the world to prop up the petrodollar, never mind the ill will we’ve generated around the world that will be coming back on us for centuries by murdering people’s friends and family and/or getting people’s friends and family killed in our stupid proxy wars, never mind the obvious lies about things like weapons of mass destruction in order to make more money, it’s all about let’s make government small.. except the department of perpetual war (“Department of defense” my ass) which needs to be as big, bloated, and overpowered as possible.

And what’s frustrating is, obviously these people didn’t learn as their children were killed in the endless and stupid wars, so they’re not going to learn when their children die of COVID. They’re still telling themselves that COVID is “almost over” despite much historical data telling us that it’s only just getting warmed up, and they’re planning to reopen schools despite the USA having the world #1 record on both deaths and cases. I guess the USA also has the world #1 record for corruption and stupidity in government.

While we’re talking about annoying – these same people are going to slowly acknowledge that OK, COVID wasn’t a democratic hoax but they’re going to continue to assure us that global warming is. Their base is either stupid enough or brainwashed enough to continue buying into this point of view – one of the things I’m slowly wrapping my head around is we’re either really good at manipulating people’s points of view or a lot of people are just not very bright to begin with and completely unable to master skills like critical thinking and.. this one might be kind of important.. recognizing that they’re being sold large amounts of bullshit by a propaganda machine.

Anyway, if we do continue with the school reopening, I predict the failure.. and the deaths.. will be epic.

The insanity of democracy

Wednesday, July 15th, 2020

So, being wrong should count against you, politically. Not, this is my opinion wrong, but, factually wrong. And the GOP has been *epicly* wrong about COVID – the amount wrong they are is going to come with a huge body count. We can reasonably guess they are similarly epicly wrong about global warming. They were epicly wrong about the weapons of mass destruction thing and a whole bunch of people ought to be sitting in jail who are instead being re-elected and cheered on for their awfulness. But I digress.

The astonishing thing is I *know* that my conservative friends are going to continue to defend their party even though it’s been demonstrated that *the GOP is out of touch with reality*. Time and time again.. the Laffer curve, anyone? History tells us that it didn’t work, yet of course we’re doing it again. Masks? Of course COVID is just like the flu and we don’t need masks.. on this one, of course, they are slowly bending because otherwise they won’t have a constituency. Which, I guess, is just evolution in action.

The problem with democracy is the majority of the voters aren’t paying attention or have no real memory to speak of for events. So even though the GOP should be at this point a tiny fraction of a percent of congress, if people were voting them out every time they were factually wrong in a way that got people hurt or killed, they play to people’s emotions and people continue to re-elect them even though they are hurting us all.

Individual freedom vs. Group safety

Wednesday, June 24th, 2020

So, I’ve seen a lot of epicly dumb posts surrounding COVID. There’s obviously some people who don’t understand the ideal gas law or gas diffusion, there’s obviously some people who are paranoid schizophrenic to levels that make me look totally sane (I especially love the people who are convinced God will protect them. Evolution in action, I tell you)

One of the interesting questions is to what extent the group has the right to restrict freedoms of the individual for the best interests of the group. This is a slippery slope, and it’s very difficult to figure out how down it you should go. Common sense says that given how much wearing a simple mask reduces transmission, that requiring wearing masks is a reasonable thing. After all, we put up with being required to wear clothing (although I do think that there should not be laws requiring wearing clothing – I actually think this is more restrictive and less reasonable than requiring people to wear masks *where there is a demonstratable large safety advantage to the group*)

Anyway, I’m sure it’s a subject that people will be debating for centuries, and I don’t know what the right utopic answer is – I suspect the answer is different people will want different things. I also suspect it’s one of those things where the winning answer might be to have people inside a virtualized world where they have unlimited freedom even though their “real” body is subject to restrictions for the good of everyone.

COVID, government response to economic situation, etc

Monday, April 20th, 2020

So, I notice the government is still thinking of economic stimulus in terms of let’s keep those dollars circulating. This makes sense because if all the dollars end up in the hands of the billionares, the dollars are suddenly worth nothing at all and the rest of us will create a new currency. However, in terms of keeping us all alive and healthy during this pandemic, passing out money is not the right thing to do.

We have no idea if the USD is even going to be worth the paper it is printed on when this oil war is over, and certainly if the government keeps printing money idiot economists are going to tell us it should be worthless. (There is some level at which this is true, but we’re obviously nowhere near that level if we’re having to loan money into existence)

Anyway, the right solution is to hand out ration booklets, a la WWII. Except, no money changes hands. You’ve got coupons for N calories of food – you can choose whatever food you want, we probably would exclude luxuries like lobster which would still be paid for in USD, but for the most part anything we can cheaply and easily mass produce goes on the list of things you can buy with your coupons. You’ve got coupons for N kwh of electricity, N cubic feet of water, N gallons of gasoline. We have some sort of arrangement via which you can barter the ones you don’t need for the ones you do, and we also give out more resources to the essential workers than to the folks just staying home.

We combine this with rent and mortgage forgiveness for your primary residence, and 0% interest on all outstanding secured debt until the emergency is over.

You see what I’m doing? I’m putting us on the bucketed currency system. *This will work* much in the way that printing checks for $2000 a person per month will simply result in the price of rent becoming $2001 for each person. Essentially this recognizes that capitalism is flawed, and very poorly suited to deal with this type of situation, but we shouldn’t starve to death in the midst of plenty, so let’s temporarily use production for use instead.

Of course, the powers that be won’t do this. They’re not smart enough, or they wouldn’t want to be in charge of things. They also lack mental agility, and even if they didn’t most of our citizens lack the mental agility to consider this situation a war, and know that we need to use different approaches during wartime than we do during peacetime.