Lies Corrected While You Wait

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

America funded virus gain-of-function research in the Wuhan lab? No, we did no such thing, certainly not.

Oh, THAT gain-of-function research? Oh yeah, we funded that. Our bad.

I’m borrowing Sarah E. Hoyt’s new hashtag, seems appropriate for this situation: #headsonpikes

Joe Doakes

“No, it wasn’t gain of function research. It was research about increasing function. Different thing all together)”

Heroes Are So Hard To Find

It wasn’t that long ago, really. We had heroes among us. Now they are so hard to find:

These days, the men and women who worked through the whole pandemic are being shamed and patronized by the very people whose cushy existences they facilitated for a year and a half. The liberal elites who holed up in the Hamptons and didn’t have contact with the outside world for a year are ready to get back to their SoulCycle classes, even if it means firing a few people they once called “frontline heroes.” The irony of the same people who screamed in the faces of policemen at the height of a pandemic turning around to demand that these cops now shut up, stop asking questions, and get vaccinated is almost too much to bear.

Hamptons, Bryn Mawr, North Oaks — wherever. As Bridget Phetasy notes in Tablet, it’s the same dynamic we’ve known for decades now: limousine liberals, parlor pinks, trust fund Trotskyites, living their Best Lives and dancing among the ruins:

While normal people tried to figure out how to juggle work, child care, and living under the same roof for 24 hours a day, celebrities were having a ball. Locked up with only their phones and without their handlers, the public was treated to an unfiltered parade of narcissism on fire. Distraught about the postponement of Coachella, Vanessa Hudgens took to Instagram Live to lament that “like, yeah, people are gonna die.” Gal Gadot talked about how “we’re all in this together” and gathered a celebrity cast to sing a horrifying version of “Imagine” from their sprawling mansions.

Nearly any version of “Imagine” is horrifying by definition, of course, but we’ll leave that aside. Now that we’re in our 19th month of two weeks to flatten the curve, the gyre is widening:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Yeats wrote that over 100 year ago. I don’t recall attending any innocence ceremonies recently, but his point stands. We may not have mere anarchy any time soon, either: most self-identified anarchists are totally cool with the State, as long as it does their bidding. But I sense the agents of the State may not be able to make it stick. Back to Phetasy:

In L.A. County, only 54% of the Black population and 62% of the “Latinx” population have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Despite all the resources the city ostensibly devotes to equity and inclusion, it’s clear that these minority populations will be most affected by the mandates. If Black lives matter to you so much, shouldn’t you care that Black people will be excluded from restaurants and movie theaters and nail salons?

Caring is overrated, especially among the best. I don’t know what’s next, but in a world where self-regard has more cachet than self-awareness the center will not hold.

Go Home, Facebook. You’re Drunk

First things first; condolences to the family, and the entire nation, really, on the death of Colin Powell.

Now, let’s talk social media.This was how the “Drudge Report“ posting appeared;

Forget for a moment the “fully vaxxed“ bit; there’s plenty of inadequate reporters jumping up and down yelling “see! See!, Who need to be reminded that Powell was 84, had blood cancer, and was pretty much a poster case for Covid comorbidities.

No, I’m just wondering if that was the best, most tactful place for Facebook to throw its little “fact check“ blurb?

Counterintuitive

A broken clock is right twice a day.

Which is about 729 times a year more than the New York Times is right.

But here we are.

Excellent piece by David Leonhardt, on how the terrible news coverage of the Covid pandemic is a reflection of human nature (And, I will also infer, some of the worst aspects of modern American media culture). In this case, the fact that people love reductionistic stories with heroes and villains, and that journalists (and the business people they report to) are not only basically human, but know that that bit of human nature brings eyeballs and dollars.

And that’s been on display:

In the case of Covid, the fable we tell ourselves is that our day-to-day behavior dictates the course of the pandemic. When we are good — by staying socially distant and wearing our masks — cases are supposed to fall. When we are bad — by eating in restaurants, hanging out with friends and going to a theater or football game — cases are supposed to rise.

The idea is especially alluring to anybody making an effort to be careful and feeling frustrated that so many other Americans seem blasé. After all, the Covid fable does have an some truth to it. Social distancing and masking do reduce the spread of the virus. They just are not as powerful as people often imagine.

The main determinants of Covid’s spread (other than vaccines, which are extremely effective) remain mysterious. Some activities that seem dangerous, like in-person school or crowded outdoor gatherings, may not always be. As unsatisfying as it is, we do not know why cases have recently plunged. The decline is consistent with the fact that Covid surges often last for about two months before receding, but that’s merely a description of the data, not a causal explanation

People like to see, Or think they see, their actions having an impact on the larger world.

Somebody has found a market feeding that impression, Including The very human tendency for people together in tribes.

The Karen tribe seems to be descended from the crowd of mean girls and bullies in junior high.

Shortage?

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

I’ve been following the debate on whether vaccine mandates will cause staffing shortages. Had a few tests done at the hospital this morning. Quietly asked the RN about the vaccine. She hasn’t gotten it, does not intend to. She’s with an “agency” which means she’s not part of the giant conglomerate health care provider and isn’t bound by their rules. She’s seen stuff, read stuff, she affirmed – strictly off the record and between her and me – that I’m not the only one with serious doubts. We’re not crazy no matter what they tell us.

I received excellent care from a non-corporate nurse, for which I am grateful and also amused. The regulation says any employer with more than 100 nurses must . . . oh, we’ve only got 90. Our sister (but completely independent) companies also have 90, each. And each nurse only works 29 hours for each company. They’re exempt. No vaccine. But excellent patient care. And the giant conglomerate can proudly announce their in-house staff is fully vaccinated with no staffing shortage.

Potemkin compliance all the way down. You watch, they’ll be ‘independent contractors’ next.

Joe Doakes

People underestimate the cost of widespread ignoring of laws because they are widely considered to be wrong, stupid, corrosive of freedom and the like.

It doesn’t end well. And it’s not the peoples fault.

Damn You, Ron DeSantis!

Is there anything re Covid that Florida’s governor can’t affect?

And I bet the Texas Abortion Law has something to do with it too.

Point Of Light

My high school and college classmate Pennie Werth died from Covid a couple weeks ago.

Pennie and me go way back – elementary school, anyway. In high school, we did the various high school plays together. And she played piano in the first band I ever got onstage with. It was in tenth grade, for a talent show, and Brenda Bassett, Troy and Dave Claude, Pennie and me played “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac, to a panel of judges who had last cared about popular music during the swing era, so we did not win, but it was unforgettable and enough fun to get me hooked on playing in bands – a monkey still on my back today.

She went on to be a special ed teacher, and a great one. She lived in the Houston area for many years, but she called me during the later years of the Pawlenty administration to ask about the then-governor’s “Super Teacher” program, which was going to pay high-achieving teachers six-digit salaries to do what they did well. It would have been great – she’d have been nearer her family – but I warned her, correctly, the MFT would have nothing to do with “merit pay”.

Even as a teenager, she had a sharp wit and a huge heart. And she kept it throughout her life.

I wasn’t the only one that noticed. This AP story came out around the time George HW Bush died, three years back (emphasis added):

Mourners had been lining up since 9 a.m. to attend the viewing. Among the first was Pennie Werth-Bobian, 56, a retired elementary school teacher from the Houston suburbs who first met Bush in the 1990s.

A friend cutting the former president’s hair at the Houstonian Hotel alerted Werth-Bobian, who stopped by and struck up a conversation. Bush asked that she return every month or so when he got his hair trimmed.

The second time they met, Werth-Bobian asked what she should call him, thinking “Mr. President” sounded too formal.

“‘Call me George,’” she recalled him saying.

She did.

“That’s what he liked about me: that I talked to him like I talked to my dad,” she said.

They often shared family stories. Many of his tales involved George W. Bush, who she inferred was his favorite. Once, she said, Bush talked about Robin, his 3-year-old daughter he lost to leukemia in 1953, and his eyes welled with tears.

Werth-Bobian was newly married when they met, and asked Bush for advice.

“He said he and Barbara were best friends,” she recalled.

I’m still young enough to see this sort of thing as terribly unusual.  

Shuffle

The Pioneer Press and MPR report that the state of Minnesota is “selling” the former Bix warehouse – purchased in 2019 to serve as a “back up morgue” for the COVID thousands fatalities the state was predicting.

And since this is a government operation, you may be assured that when we say “selling“, we mean “shifting around the books, to further serve as a wealth transfer“:

The state purchased the refrigerated warehouse at 1415 L’Orient St. and the five acres of land it sits on from private ownership last year for nearly $5.48 million. Under pressure from St. Paul and Ramsey County officials opposed to the idea of warehousing bodies there, the state used the site instead as storage for personal protective equipment. On Tuesday, the board of the Port Authority will meet to vote on whether to purchase the site — which now sits vacant — from the state for $5.65 million, the property’s current appraised value and the purchase amount required under state statute.

Conservative social media or portraying this as a “boondoggle“. Nothing could be further than the truth.

Even if you ignore the conspiracy theory (launched and spread by me) that Ken Martin stored John Thompson there to keep them out of the public eye after the Hugo incident before the 2020 election, the morgue served its primary purpose; as a prop in setting an ominous backdrop for the public health security theater the state has been subjecting us to for the last 20 months.

Management Madness

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Two years ago, no one could work from home. Everyone had to come to the office so managers could supervise employees to ensure quality customer service and high productivity.

Last year no one could come to the office. Everyone had to work from home to protect employees from the deadliest virus ever known. Without management supervising us, productivity actually went up.

Starting in November, everyone must work from home, and everyone must come to the office, half and half. It’s a “hybrid” which sounds smart and trendy but actually combines the worst of both worlds. We’re doing it because . . . well, nobody really knows why, exactly. It just is. And since everyone is coming to the office but the deadly virus pandemic is still in effect, everyone must be vaccinated, even those who don’t want to work in the office, who are more productive working at home and who would prefer to continue working from home. Nope, must come to the office, must be vaccinated. And wear a mask plus move your desks six feet apart. But if we’re vaccinated and the vaccine protects us, why wear masks/social distance? If the vaccine doesn’t protect us (and masks/social distance weren’t safe enough to protect us last year), why are we back in the office instead of working from home?

Business magazines are asking what lessons we learned from Covid. Improvements in efficiency, distance working, employee satisfaction . . . no, none of them. We have learned no lessons and have no intention of learning any. It’s our way or the highway. Further proof that the whole thing was not a medical crisis, it was a political stunt.

Joe Doakes

If Dr. Fauci went on CNN and declared wearing aluminum foil Capri pants reduce the spread, I would expect edicts to follow shortly.

I Don’t Believe In Karma…

…but I believe what goes around, comes around.

Dr. Ana Navaro, celebrity physician of sorts, spends months wishing ghastly ill on the unvaccinated.

Dr. Ana Navaro on The View, last week:

Hope she gets better soon.

And yes, that means I am a better person than her.

Selective

A friend of the blog emails:

Everyone deserves Healthcare, Everyone must have health insurance. Unless we don’t like you.
I am seeing all the people who are cheering on Delta Airlines for raising the cost of insurance for the unvaccinated. These are mostly the same people who think everyone must have health insurance in the first place. But even beyond that, I see co-workers who used to complain about our company’s health insurance discount. The discount was given if you were a certain BMI, had low cholesterol, had low blood pressure. They complained because they thought it was so unfair to take all these things into account for their health insurance cost. (Things that actually do have some potential in higher costs for healthcare). But, here these people are now, saying the unvaccinated deserve higher premiums.
Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. I do believe in the vaccine myself and so I got it. And I encouraged my family to. And I talked with friends who were hesitant if they wanted to hear from me. And I trust that there will be shots for variants if we need them. But, that is my choice.
I just can’t go to the point of saying the unvaccinated deserve higher premiums more than others. In the hospital, there are plenty of patients who don’t follow medical advice. And we see them again and again. Sometimes we reach them at some point and sometimes we don’t. They suffer their consequences. And their medical bills likely are already higher, even if their premiums are the same. Forced compliance would not change anything. Forced vaccine compliance will not change anything, either, except tear all of us further apart.

It’s fascinating to me how quick DFLers go from “Healthcare is a right – full stop!” to “keep the anti-vaxxers out of the hospital”.

Things That Can Get You Banned From Facebook

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

America is a rich and spacious nation while India is a poor but populous nation.

One province that I’ve never heard of – Uttar Pradesh – has about 240 million people, roughly the size of the US if we leave out California, Texas and New York. They are now Covid-free. Seriously, their case rate is less than 1-in-a-million.

What’s the secret? Ivermectin.

Yes, yes, all the usual disclaimers: it’s Gateway Pundit which is unreliable. Here’s the report on MSN, which doesn’t mention Ivermectin but instead credits tracing, vaccination and curfews, all the things that don’t work anywhere else in the world but mysteriously worked in India.

I know what you’re thinking: the reports are clearly fabrications. Indians are ignorant savages incapable of counting correctly so the numbers are clearly wrong. They have religious objections to eating cattle so they’re obviously fanatics who can’t be trusted to tell the truth. Their medicine is so primitive they can’t tell if people are sick or not which is why the case count is so low.

But still . . . if they had bodies piled up in the streets rotting as flies swarmed around them, don’t you think somebody would notice? If nobody in the entire province has severe enough symptoms to be noticed, shouldn’t we ask why not? What do they know that we don’t know? What are they doing that we’re not doing?

I have a suspicion the US suffers from such overwhelming cultural imperialism that we can’t imagine – literally cannot make our minds imagine – that somebody else might have a better solution which does not involve the latest fad, the newest technology, the wokest thinking.

Instead, our cultural leaders tell us to pay no attention to all those healthy people over there. You, you’re going to DIE unless you do as we say. Because those healthy people are stupid, not smart like us. They must be. We’re Americans and they’re not. QED.

Joe Doakes

If there is anything this pandemic – or, really, the messaging response to this pandemic by our authorities and counter authorities Dash has taught me, it is “be relentlessly skeptical of everything and everybody“.

Still – as Joe says, if hospitals in Uttar Pradesh aren’t clogged with covid patients, and the only variable between their response and New York City’s actually is “the I drug“…

Innumeracy

According to the associated press, the Covid pandemic has tied a “grim milestones“: The death toll is even with that of the 1918 Spanish influenza:

The delta-fueled surge in new infections may have peaked, but U.S. deaths still are running at over 1,900 a day on average, the highest level since early March, and the country’s overall toll stood at close to 674,000 as of Monday morning, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, though the real number is believed to be higher.

Of course, if you are remotely numerate, you know the lede that got buried – in this case, down in paragraph seven:

The 1918-19 influenza pandemic killed an estimated 675,000 Americans in a U.S. population one-third the size of what it is today. It struck down 50 million victims globally at a time when the world had one-quarter as many people as it does now. Global deaths from COVID-19 now stand at more than 4.6 million.

But watching social media this past few days, it’s pretty clear – they’re not aiming the story at people with math or critical thinking skills.

Darn Those Science-Denying Trumpkins!

Vaccine mandates are on the hit list…

…of Black Lives Matter:

At a protest Monday in front of New York restaurant Carmine’s, Chivona Newsome, also a co-founder of the group, said of the vaccine mandates, “What is going to stop the Gestapo, I mean the NYPD, from rounding up black people, from snatching them off the train, off the bus?”

She further issued the threat that BLM was “putting this city on notice that your mandate will not be another racist social distance practice” and that “Black people are not going to stand by, or you will see another uprising .” She said vaccine verification “is not a free passport to racism.”

The catalyst for those remarks was an incident at Carmine’s last week wherein three black women from Texas were charged for assaulting a hostess at the restaurant, allegedly over a vaccine verification dispute and, as a lawyer for the women subsequently claimed, because the hostess, who is of Asian descent, used a racial slur.

And it doesn’t just seem to be just BLM:

Morning Consult found that Biden’s approval dropped a striking 12 points among black voters since September 8th, the day before the White House announced a comprehensive new COVID-19 mitigation plan that included a new OSHA rule, which, when drafted, will demand workplaces with 100 or more employees either require their workers to be vaccinated against COVID or submit to rigorous testing for the virus.

“President Joe Biden’s sweeping federal rules to mandate vaccines hasn’t hurt him with the overall electorate, but it appears to have spurred a weakening of his standing with one of the most reliable pieces of the Democratic Party’s coalition: Black voters,” Morning Consult noted.

Now – getting everyone to connect the dots from “unequal and racially-tone-deaf enforcement of arbitrary Covid regulations” to “unequal and racially tone-deaf policy” in general? That’s the challenge.

RIP, Property Rights?

A Massachusetts case on its way to the SCOTUS – and hoping to be the roughly 1% of cases granted a review – will have an immense impact on private property rights.

At issue in Desrosiers v. Baker is the legality of several COVID-19 lockdown orders issued throughout 2020 by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker. The lockdown orders, which were some of the most draconian in the nation, generally banned all private assemblies that did not have a political or religious purpose after 9:30 p.m., no matter the size or location.

The orders imposed significantly stricter restrictions on assembly in “private residences” than on assembly in public settings. The orders encouraged “the public’s unselfish compliance,” and were enforceable variously by misdemeanor criminal penalties, civil fines, and court injunction. These penalties also applied to hosts who failed to cooperate with government requests for “lists of attendees at social gatherings.”

The Massachusetts lockdown orders even included a quasi-adultery ban, in effect at all hours, on assembly involving close physical contact by the un-cohabiting, instead of by the unmarried. Under the orders, “participants who [were] not members of the same household” had to keep six feet of distance from each other at all times. The orders warned that a “gathering shall violate this provision where, no matter the number of participants present, conditions or activities at the gathering are such that it is not reasonably possible for all participants to maintain this degree of separation.”

I’m not sure what I’m more worried about – a Roberts-led majority deciding there’s a prudential reason to allow government extraordinary powers in a state of emergency, or the near-violent reaction of Big Karen to having their power, and their reason for existence, struck down.

OK, definitely more worried about “a”.

I accept “B” as a foregone conclusion.

More, Faster

If the Feds (and the State of Minnesota’s) response to Covid were being driven by public health rather than politics (or, perhaps worse, a clumsiliy-politicized approach to public health), the “national conversation” would include a serious look into the effects of acquired immunity – the level of natural immunity that people who’ve had and recovered from Covid have.

There have been 40 million diagnosed cases of Covid in the US, and it seems inevitable that there are many millions more – some estimates say well over double. Let’s be (what else?) conservative and say “several million”.

The fact that this nation isn’t systematically testing for antibodies, and not only studying the effects of acquired immunity but publicizing the output of those studies, is to say the least troubling.

The fact that we apparently need a Senator to clue our “public health” apparatus into asking, and publicly discussing, this basic question should be enough to make anyone question the results the bureaucracy is actually looking for.

Armageddon Denied

Just a few weeks ago, COVID numbers from the Sturgis motorcycle rally and, we were breathlessly assured, “super spreader event“, turned out to be lower, per capita than any sample of over a half million people in the general population.

The numbers came out just in time to tamp down a bit of the excitement Minnesota is “Karen“ population was feeling at warning Minnesota, yet again, of impending doom over the state fair.

Which didn’t prevent Karen from Karening.

But all good things – I like the inflated feeling of self importance one gets from being a joyless Jeremiah – come to an end. The numbers from the state fair just aren’t that bad.

State officials say 228 confirmed COVID cases have been traced back to the State Fair as of Friday. For a little perspective, there were more than 1.3 million people in attendance.

During the period of the state fair, they were roughly 1400 new cases detected per day in Minnesota – a rate of 254 cases per day, per million Minnesotans.

228 cases over 10 days, across 1.3 million people, breaks down to a rate of about 180 cases per million per day.

In other words, assuming the math in my head is correct (Not to mention the numbers coming from the Minnesota Department of health), Minnesotans who went to the fair were almost a third safer than Minnesotans who didn’t.

Could we stop the hysteria over public events held outdoors, already?

Being Locked Down And Nothingness, Part II

As I pointed out yesterday, I didn’t have a lot of personal sturm und drang during the “lockdown”. Life changed, of course – but I don’t think I especially did.

I was listening to an NPR science show a few weeks back. It discussed new discoveries about the interconnectedness of pleasure and pain – literal pleasure and pain,, in this case, and their role in addiction.

Doing something pleasurable triggers a jolt of dopamine – which is pleasant, and makes you happy. Doesn’t matter what the pleasure impulse is – a small victory, a shot of bourbon, sex, a good TV show, it all triggers dopamine. Of course, there’s an inner pendulum of sorts – as the body experiences pleasure, it pushes back, so the pleasure is followed by nearly equal, nearly opposite pain. Sugar is followed by crash; Big victory is followed by “so, what’s next?”.

One of the article’s many points was that humans have more stimuli for dopamine now than ever before; 24/7 entertainment, smart phones, porn on demand, drugs from caffeine to Fentanyl and everything in between. Humans aren’t built for all the pleasure modern times presents them; eveolutionariliy, everyone in the world is a virtual Norwegian Bachelor Farmer, expecting an aescetic life.

And this past 19 months have stripped away a lot of the stimulation people used to get – and made some of the more transient ones, video games and cell phones and the like – old hat. Buzzes get old; to quote the great psychiatrist Axl Rose, “I used to do a little but a little didn’t do it, so a little got more and more”.

And “creatives”, I think, are much more addicted to more dopamine, more need for stimulus and variation, than most.

And those are the ones writing the extended laments of the misery of thjis past two years.

Checked And Balanced

A state district judge has thrown out a lawsuit by a group of parents Who were seeking an order requiring the governor to issue a state wide mask mandate and to reinstate the state of emergency.

Thankfully, the judge shot the request down:

“While this court is gravely concerned about the public health consequences of the failure of school districts to implement the guidance of the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health regarding the use of masks for children, teachers, and staff in K-12 public schools,” the judge wrote in his ruling, “the judiciary cannot order a co-equal branch of government to exercise its discretionary, political judgment to implement a specific educational policy.”

In other words…

… (Mitch takes a deep breath)…

…the parents wanted a member of the judicial branch to compel the head of the executive branch do seize all of the authority of the legislative branch.

Sure, we have a public health crisis. We have an even bigger crisis in civics education in this state.

Out Hateful Racist President

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Black people make up 13.5% of the US population but only 10% of vaccinated people.

Executive Orders closing entertainment venues and employment opportunities to the unvaccinated, will have a disparate impact on Blacks.

Disparate Impact discrimination is a hateful and invidious form of racism.

The Usurper in the White House is a hateful racist. We must remove him from office at once, so Kamala can be elevated to cure the building of the taint of racial discrimination.

Republicans should introduce Articles of Impeachment based disparate impact racial discrimination. No, of course they won’t pass. But it’ll be fun hearing the explanation why the Hater in Chief should remain in office instead of allowing the First Black Woman President to heal the nation.

Joe Doakes

I suspect the next step would be a state of emergency…

Being Locked Down, And Nothingness, Part I

Back around the fall of 2020, in respect to the mewling avalanche of navel gazing in the media and among parts of my social circle about how 2020 was “the worst year ever”, I made two observations.

  1. Tell that to anyone alive in 1942, or 1916 (or the 1918 Influenza), 1861, or any of the various Bubonic Plagues. Those that didn’t hit you with a brick would laugh a bitter, condescending laugh.
  2. Worst ever? It wasn’t even the worst in my lifetime, from my perspective.

This last observation was a little controversial in some parts of my social circle – but among years in my life, 2020 might have cracked the bottom five, maybe. Just off the top of my head: 2008 was horrible, 2003 was a grueling slog of unemployment, 2000 involved all the fun and frolic of a divorce and 1988 was a hideous morass of depression.

So – 2020 was #5 on the *hit parade. At worst.

I posted that list on another, lesser social media platform than this blog. And it drew…

…well, some agreement, and a particularly harsh reaction from some parts of my social circle.

I’m not going to say 2020 was fun – it was terrible, and for reasons that went beyond Covid. And 2021, so far, is worse; more people in my life, speaking for myself, have died of Covid this year than last year. Again, neither year comes close to topping any of the years I listed above.

It’s heartening to see others making the observation:

No one can or should emerge from that world-historical shock without a heightened sense of life’s transience. It is the lockdown, the pause in “busy-ness”, that has been infused with more meaning than it can hold. What started as twee high jinks about banana bread became a sour reappraisal of modernity by its principal winners: the educated, the urban, the mobile. 

It is mortifyingly non-U, in fact, to say that I enter the post-lockdown world with no new angle on life. But there it is. I am going to go out as much as I did before, thanks. I am going to travel as much as the friction of new rules allows. If some urbanites crave an Arcadian life, I encourage them to find it in the obvious places instead of bending cities to their tastes. To the extent that I have changed at all, it is in the direction of more speed and zest: passing some of my forties in an Asian megacity is a goal now, as it never was before.

No doubt, my failure to have a Damascene lockdown reveals an impoverished imagination. But then which side is more bovinely stuck in its ways here? What stands out about the great odysseys of the soul I keep reading is their familiarity. Metropolitans have always been prone to credulous nature-worship. Families have always been prone to urban flight. Mid-life ennui has always been dressed up as some fault with the outside world. What is new is the respectability that such attitudes have acquired over the past year and a half. In other words, the lockdown hasn’t changed these people any more than it changed me. It just dignified existing impulses.

Read the whole thing.

But I think there was one other factor at work.

More tomorrow.

Statistical Rhetoric

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Article on vaccine hesitancy uses risk graph that shows what they want it to show to support their argument, not what it ought to show for me to make up my own mind. Odds of dying fully vaccinated are 1 in 137,000. Yeah, versus the odds of dying from what? Car accident? Hot air balloon crash? Carnival knife thrower? Who cares? In an article about vaccine hesitancy, the correct comparison is odds of dying while fully vaccinated versus odds of dying while not vaccinated. If you’re trying to convince me to get vaccinated, then show me the vast improvement in the odds resulting from the vaccine. Instead, the next graph shows just the opposite. Odds of NOT dying from Covid are the same as the ordinary flu, except for the elderly infirm.

I lack the math skills to convert the second chart into the first chart but I’m guessing that in a nation of 350 million people with only 650,000 deaths (and those are deaths counted using the phony numbers), my odds of dying from Covid while not vaccinated are only 1 in 538. Given most of the deaths are elderly infirm, my odds are actually better, maybe 1 in 1,000 about the same as drowning or a motorcycle accident, risks that I consider slight enough to ignore. And since I work mostly from home and rarely travel, my odds of meeting an Covid-infected person to catch the bug and die from it are even lower, just as my odds of dying from snake bite are much lower than the national average, which is lower than the global average.

I hate articles that use misleading graphs like that. They actually heighten my vaccine hesitancy.

Joe Doakes

My favorite example from the last week; the star Tribune breathlessly pointing out that 69 people had gotten infected with Covid at the Minnesota State fair.

Which turns out to be an infection rate per million roughly 1/4 that of the general population.