Thursday, August 06, 2020

Flash, Fireball, Shockwave

I took screenshots from the below video:


And I can understand why conspiracy minded people think this was an atomic bomb attack!  Supposedly there were 2,700 tonnes of Ammonium Nitrate in the burning warehouse and that is in the range of a tactical nuke, or what would be on an air-to-air missile like the AIR-2_Genie

 We've all seen film of the distinctive blast from an atomic device, but what makes it distinct?  Is it that it is atomic or is it just the amount of energy released?  I honestly don't know, but there was sufficient potential energy stored in that quantity of Ammonium Nitrate.

Finally, why bomb an already burning building?  Whatever is in there is already being destroyed and there will be many eyes on it, so any action would be noticed and filmed.           

Monday, July 20, 2020

The Physics of Masks and Moral Suasion

There is a war of ideas out there which often seems to boil down to "wear a mask" v. "masks are worthless" For the record, I think both of these positions are utterly stupid.

On the "wear a mask" side: Should I wear one at home, when I'm sleeping, out jogging on otherwise deserted roads, while driving? On the "worthless" side: It is intuitively obvious that as long as there is some retention, there is some protection. Two additional points here: 1. What is being filtered is not just a virion by itself but tiny droplets of saliva or mucous containing viruses. 2. The size of the infectious load (infectious particles) is a large determinant of whether you will get an infection.

What about the idea that if you don't care about yourself, you need to protect those around you: This is really stupid too: Masks mostly protect the person wearing it*. Regardless of how retentive the filter, when you inhale you force the mask to tighten around your face, when you exhale, you push it away from your face. There is bound to be more bypass around the filter material when you exhale than when you inhale. The second reason is distance: You are exposed to all the air you inhale, but the air you exhale does not go directly into the lungs of anyone else (unless you are giving mouth-to-mouth). The air you exhale becomes rapidly mixed with other air and this dilutes any infectious particles. Finally, the chances that you are infectious is very low, which means that the chances that your mask is doing anything useful is also, very low.

*Here is where it gets tricky: If you get infected, you increase the chances of infecting people you live with and some of them may be old or otherwise vulnerable. So it makes sense to protect yourself to protect them. No. Not all the time. If you are in crowded places where you can't socially distance it makes sense to wear a mask.

Common sense, not glib slogans.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

A couple of comments

Blogger dbp said...

Early on a 6-mile jog yesterday, I noticed a new Black Lives Matter sign, which are pretty common here in a distant suburb of Boston. What attracted my attention was a small epigraph at the bottom. Silence = Violence.

The more I thought about it (I had 5 miles to to go and I'm not fast) the more I thought, "This is the moment BLM has jumped the shark".

First we are informed that speech (of the wrong kind) is violence. Then we are preached that violence is speech. And now, complete passivity is violence. My head ached more in thinking how to unknot the logical contradictions, than my legs did in running in 90 degrees.

I will resist speaking on some things but if I'm forced to opine, I will say: BLM and ANTIFA sound nice In practice, the first will result in more black lives lost (mostly black men at the hands of other black men) and the second are (despite their name) fascist street thugs.

6/24/20, 9:14 AM Delete
Blogger dbp said...

Elie Wiesel had something to say about silence:

"...Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe."

Right now, it is obvious who is the oppressor. The people commanding me to speak are the oppressors.

6/24/20, 9:24 AM

Monday, June 01, 2020

Stages Of Decay

It happens pretty often, I go to the basement for something, (we have a fridge and pantry down there, so the something is usually food) and when I get to the bottom of the stairs I have no memory of what I came down for.  Naturally, the memory comes back to me once I have made it back up.  

On the other hand, I am able to look at data and see a trend, make a note of my prediction and track how well I've done.  I wonder if there are important people who got where they were because they used to be really sharp, but are now really dim but still considered trusted advisors.

Two cases in point:

Andy Slavitt has a wiki page and it is all very impressive.

And yet, on May 3rd, he made the below prediction:  Sites like this had shown case rates falling since anywhere from early to late April.  He predicts new cases of 50,000/day outside of NY.  What were they on Memorial Day?  Just under 20,000.  My searches show no correction or mea culpa.   Maybe he is in worse shape than me and just doesn't remember his very bad predictions.

Next:  Famous lawyer and wiki page owing smart man:  Ted Frank

He was so certain of his prediction that there would be more than 50,000 deaths in May from Covid-19 that he offered to bet up to $100,000 on it.  I was fairly certain that I would "win".  You can look at the data from the earlier link above and it is pretty obvious the number would be below 50k.  The reasons I didn't take the bet were that I figured that if I won, he would never admit it and I would not get paid, but that if I was wrong, he (as a skilled lawyer) would sue me for the money if I refused to pay.  So, a no-win, but can still lose type bet.  Anyway, the actual number who died in May from Covid-19, 42,339  Not only was his prediction wrong, while I maintained reasonable courtesy, he lobbed personal insults at me and then ended up blocking me. Added: The total deaths for June are 21,271. About half as many as may and still dropping.   It seemed a little deranged and reinforced my decision not to take his bet.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Land Of Coincidence and It Was Staring Us All In The Face The Whole Time.

Somehow an idea popped into my head last night and I tried to play it cool.  My wife does not like the long-form joke which ends up with a clever pun and she can sense when I am guiding the conversation in that way.

Me:  You know how they have these delivery services for food.

She:  Like Grubhub?
Me: Yes, exactly.  My idea is for one that delivers alcohol.
She:  I heard about such a thing, I can't remember what they are called...
Me: I have come up with the perfect name.
She:  What?
Me:  The Liquor Picker-Upper.

Later, I thought of another one:  Liquorty-Split, also later I saw an add on Facebook for quick alcohol delivery but I don't remember the name and since it is Facebook, I will never find it again.

Next:  My wife has a new hobby of making masks.  She has made a few for each of our kids and has branched out to their boyfriends and roommates.  I am normally the last one to come up to bed at night and so it falls to me to turn-off all the lights.  See that lamp over by the wall?  Once I turn that off, it is pitch black and I have to evade all the cords and other trip hazards, in pitch dark!  I was reminded of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire (whatever a shirtwaist is).  And yes, I could turn on another light first and use that to negotiate the maze.  But, I am usually pretty groggy and can be depended upon to never think of this.  So what is the coincidence?  First thing the next morning, I am reading Lileks, The Bleat and he pretty randomly mentions the same event:

"That's where we went on Memorial Day. All those paddlewheel boats, docked for the Duration. The pestilence would rip through that thing like fire through the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory."

Finally, the coincidence we all heard today:  The Central Park imbroglio in which two unrelated people up the ante on a dog being leashed in a place where it is the rule.  They both have the same last name, Cooper.  Of course, if this was a movie, they would meet again and be stranded someplace, or have to work together and yes, they would fall in love and it would be a romantic comedy. I think Damon Wayans and Katherine Heigl would work as the leads.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Messy Data

When you are looking at data and trying to find a trend, you can be stymied by smaller trends within the longer trend and they can dwarf the trend you are looking for.

Case in point is a long term trend in global temperature. The variation one sees every day is larger that what one might see in thousands of years, same for seasons. And added to that is the need to take readings all over the planet.

When it comes to looking for trends in the US Covid pandemic, we have unique sorts of problems in data messiness. There are weekly anomalies--the weekend changes people's schedules and so death reporting may lag by different rates on different days. Here, I spotted a very clear-cut Sun, Mon, Tue pattern from the Worldmeter site:

You see hints of this throughout the month or so, but this week and last week are especially clear. Another great example is Sweden.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Smart People Ignoring Debatable Issues as if they don't exist

I replied to this meme, which I've seen all over the internet for about a week, as follows: Some people think this is brilliant and others think it is idiotic and obtuse. Clearly there are two underlying views of reality which are different from each other:

I think the obvious two are:

1. Social distancing is working--the flattening of the curve is due to our efforts.

2. The economic costs are either being completely ignored as if they don't exist at all, or it is assumed that they are outweighed by the life saving benefits of the economic shutdown.

Added: Duh! The original purpose was to flatten the curve and keep the hospitals from being overwhelmed. The peak is happening in places like NYC and Boston and the hospitals are coping. So, mission accomplished. Phase 2 is to get out enough to continue with building herd immunity, but at a controlled rate so that hospitals remain able to cope.

I think both of these are debatable and it is obtuse to pretend they're not.

Useful and relevant links:

I case it wasn't obvious from the start--the complete abandonment, sometimes with hilariously idiotic justifications has really proven the point that it the "experts" are total BS vendors.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Let's Take Some Modest Risks

Given the certain economic disruptions we are going through, as well as the certain continuing loss of Human life, if this is not the time to try something risky, when would be the time?

We could be out of this fairly quickly if we took some reasonable risks and got out of the mind-set of normal drug approvals.

Why do vaccines take so long to develop? Ideally, you want to stimulate a strong immune response but also not kill or sicken people who take the vaccine. This takes time. Once you find the right answer (what exactly are you giving and at what concentration) you need to scale-up production. This is fine for diseases that have been constant problems and maybe Covid will fall into this category. What is likely is that Covid will burn itself out long before any vaccine is available, if we follow the normal template.

What I suggest is a kind of variolation, but with much more control and far less risk and which could provide almost immediate (modest) benefits.

Viruses can be made in cell culture by transfecting with plasmids which contain the viral genome. Lately this has been done and modified by taking out some piece of the viral genome such that any viral particle made in this process can not replicate but can still enter a target cell. This is the basis of viral gene therapy.

What I suggest is to use the same technology to make Covid-19 virus but leave-out some essential function, I think the reverse transcriptase gene makes sense. We could widely administer dilute dosages at pilot scale. The risk would be low and while there would likely be low immunity, it would increase the viral load needed to cause illness and would allow for higher dosages to be safe once production ramps up to the point where they are available.

A crash program could be providing low dosages in a month and higher ones in three.

Useful and relevant links:

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Field Notes From An Outing To The Grocery Store

Some things were weird and surrealistic:

--The store was more empty than normal for a Wednesday (I have Wednesdays off and often shop on this day).

--Other than a few things (I am looking at you, pasta and paper isles) the store was well stocked with the usual items.

--People dressed normally and people with full regalia of protective gear shopped harmoniously. Neither type seemed alarmed by the presence of the other type. I found it really creepy: Are we in a zombie apocalypse and some oblivious people haven't noticed or is everything normal and some people are overcome by paranoia?

Some things never change: A shopper who was putting away his cart at the same time as me, left his cart where his poor aim had left it; stuck on the corral railing. Lackadaisical! And then just to prove the point, he was ahead of me in the lane exiting the parking lot. It widens into two lanes, one for a left turn that gets backed up since they have to wait for a light and the right turn, which is normally empty since you can take a right without waiting for a light. He stopped about 15 feet behind the car ahead of him in line. I had room, barely, to get by since that was where the lanes widened. But the next car behind Mr. Oblivious will block the right lane. It reinforces my general rule: If somebody does a thing half-assed, they do everything half-assed.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Italian residents hug Chinese people to encourage them in coronavirus fight

Great example of a liberal rich country in which virtue signaling has backfired on them in a major way.

Now they are paying the butcher's bill with the lives of their grandparents.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

The Tree of Liberty

And what country can preserve it's liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it's natural manure.

Joe Biden is exactly what Thomas Jefferson had in mind. The only kind of politician who envisions the US Military opening fire on civilians, is the kind who is a tyrant.

Added: In true Biden fashion, the F-15 does not carry the Hellfire. What do you want to bet that if Trump made such a gaffe, it would have gone un-fact-checked?

Saturday, January 25, 2020

What Does The Document Say About All This?


The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.


The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.


The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

It seems as if the House can impeach for any reason, with the only requirements being one of votes and at least claiming the offense is Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

The Senate is also pretty much free, beyond the two thirds requirement.

No court can review these actions and so there is no case law or precedent. Sure, people can say, "They didn't do it this way last time". But so what? No court can overturn such decisions.

Added: Many Democrats and some "Republicans" are saying that impeachment is like an indictment and so the Senate is required to conduct a trial with witnesses called. As above, the Senate has sole power to try and can set whatever rules they choose. But also, many Democrats crowed that Trump's presidency will forever be stained by impeachment. In criminal and civil law, there is no stain attached to your name or conduct if you are found non-guilty. So there is a little bit of having your cake and eating it too with all this.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Friday, January 10, 2020

Three Bands

Three bands have similar (to me) names and because even though I like them all, I am not their number one fan and therefore get them totally mixed up.

The Stone Roses:

The Gin Blossoms: We saw these guys last Summer with Collective Soul.

The Wallflowers: Jakob Dylan, their front man is great in the recent documentary: Echo In The Canyon

I had been meaning to post this for a while, but every time I remembered the last band, I would forget one. Hopefully this post will allow me to keep all three in my head at the same time.

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Iran Retaliates!

The expected reply has come from Iran for our killing of their general, Qasem Soleimani.

They fired 10 or so ballistic missiles at military bases in Iraq, which housed American troops. If early reports are true, all they did was make some holes in the sand and caused no casualties or meaningful damage. Now the news media has been telling us that these missals are like Skuds, except that they are modern Persian miracles and are very accurate. So this opens two possibilities: They are very accurate and the Iranians missed on purpose. They wanted a face-saving gesture for their domestic audience, but did not want to make the US feel like we have to retaliate in any meaningful way. The other possibility is that their missiles are crap.

I am inclined to this latter possibility because of the other two embarrassing f-ups they just endured: At Qasem Soleimani's funeral, 56 people were reportedly killed in a stampede. A Ukrainian jetliner was apparently shot-down shortly after takeoff from Tehran and right after their missile barrage ended. I say apparently because; 1. The Iranians are not sending the flight recorder to Boeing for analysis. 2. Ukraine has suspended flights into or out of Iran, not something you do over mechanical troubles.

Monday, January 06, 2020

What Is The Use of a Popular Opinion?

I got a comment from somebody I know IRL from a post in Facebook and there was something about it that seemed, off. Let's see what you, the reader, think:

David as much as you are entitled to your opinion, you seem to always be on the side of what most consider wrong.

What is the use of a popular opinion? I guess it depends on whether it is a hidden popular opinion or an open popular opinion. Let me elucidate. The Emperor's New Clothes (Kejserens nye kl├Žder) by Hans Christian Anderson is a case of a hidden popular opinion: Everybody saw that the emperor was naked but they were afraid to say it. Only once a child said that the emperor had no clothes was the spell broken. An open popular opinion is one that is popular and widely stated. Here, what is the value in stating it yourself? To show that you are part of the herd? It is at best, an act of cowardice (wanting to belong) or of stupidity (stating facts that everyone already knows).

As to the specifics of this Facebook post, it was an article on the killing of Qasem Soleimani. This article did't take a position on the wisdom of the killing, which is why I think my interlocutor didn't read the article before he commented. But he knows I'm a conservative and probably assumed (correctly) that I approve of the killing. Most of the media has been highly critical, including the piece I posted, but I often post fair-minded articles that do not exactly hew to my own views. In any case, in spite of the MSM being fairly uniform in condemning the attack, I think that most Americans, once they find out about the career of Mr. Soleimani, are pretty much in favor of his demise.

Us little people are the ones saying, 'but the emperor has no clothes', in this situation

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Field Experiments

On the penultimate day of our stay in Mexico, we did a very uncharacteristic thing, nothing. My wife is very task oriented and wants to go, go, go, when we are on "vacation". I want to do things and have experiences too, but relaxation is one of those experiences.

After early morning activities, a run for me and work-out at the fitness center and/or spa treatment (I can't remember now), we had a late breakfast in our suite and then suited up for some pool-time. We secured lounge chairs, towels and umbrellas with the help of Hector the protector and then spent all day ordering drinks and food. In between the refreshments, there was swimming in the pool and playing in the waves of the ocean.

I have an active mind and there was plenty of time to just watch people and try to figure out their situation. My eyes were especially drawn to one particular lovely young woman and her companion. She had a radiant smile featuring bright white teeth and intelligence plus humor. Some of the humor could have been from the steady replenishment of whatever tropical concoction they were ordering--some white frozen-looking thing. The first thing I wondered was whether or not the companion was a brother or a romantic partner. They looked similar, but had they not shared the same ethnicity I would never have considered them siblings. They were not doing anything obvious like kissing or holding hands or hugging, but she seemed more focused on the guy than I remember seeing in brother-sister relations.

One thing I noticed, purely by accident is that auditory input can really be filtered: When I was reading a book on my Kindle, there was a constant din of voices but I could not isolate any one or tell what anyone was saying. But when I looked at the young woman and saw her mouth move, I could hear her voice! She was about 80 feet away. I couldn't make out what she was saying, but the occasional word came through. My mind must be able to filter sound using visual cues. I am pretty sure this is something known before now but I had no idea it was so pronounced.

Later, two of my daughters were wading around in the pool and the girl came over to them and the three of them had a long conversation.

This fits right in with my (other people too--it's not as if I invented the concept) belief that we live inside of a computer simulation. Anyway, they got--as they say, "the tea" on her. She is only 16 and her companion is her brother who is attending Tufts. They also indicated that she seemed pretty hammered. She came over to the girls to compliment their bathing suits.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Just in case...

Given the way things are in the world, I might get kicked-off of Facebook for this comment, so I'll just post it here too.

I think the Kennedy's should stay out of politics and stick to their core competencies of flying airplanes, piloting PT boats, driving cars over bridges and snow skiing.