Another day with good old delta

Yes, omicron has arrived but right now, the dominant strain is still delta and we are at 18.36 percent positivity (as of 29 December). We are getting creamed.

Yeah, we sold our NFL tickets; can’t risk it at my age and with my elderly wife.

I know that the CDC is catching heat; the argument is that they are recommending something that people might actually follow rather than something safer that they won’t.

I can’t defend everything they recommended; for example my wife followed their “vaccinated adults don’t need to mask” and ended up with a breakthrough that required BAM treatment (late July).

But some of what they said “back when” was reasonable advice at the time. Example: the older variants of covid required a larger dose (viral load) to infect, so cloth masks did provide some protection..and they still do a decent job of filtering droplets released by the wearer.

But sure, now that delta came a long, you need a better mask (NK-95, KF-94) for personal protection.

I admit that I’ve become a bit bitter. Last year, I was whiny about being toward the back of the vaccination line.

Now, my anger is mostly at the COVIDIOTS who won’t get the shot, now with those who won’t mask in indoor public places and institutions who won’t create and enforce vaccine mandates.

And yes, I am still steamed at liberals who, back in the summer of 2020 were all “no large gatherings, unless it is a protest we approve of” and those who wildly exaggerated the efficacy of vaccines by using statistics in a very stupid way.

Yes, it does turn out that outdoor stuff wasn’t that bad, but one needs consistency when one makes recommendations. Liberals were downright hypocritical at the time and, well, why would a conservative trust what we say?

There is a ton of blame to go around.

But there are those doing things right.

Workout notes

Pull ups were harder than usual: weight gain? Cold? (29 F)

5-5-5-5, 10, 5-5-10-5-5 (chins, wide grip included)

push ups: 30 sissy, walk 10 (hard), 10 deficit, 10 legs up the steps (touch the chest).

Deadlifts: 10 x 134, 10 x 184, 10 x 224, 10 x 244 (all low); technique is improving a bit. Felt slight back tingles and decided to end with the 10 x 244; it was the best I’ve done at 10 reps and 244 is more than what I could do in Jan, 2020.

Dec 28: omicron

Workout: yoga class, some rehab, 1:04 bike (home: 20 miles; did 3 of those at a “new to me” higher resistance); glute feels good. But …not much walking at all.

Later: first snow of the season. Not the worst but..yuck.

Local: COVID numbers are awful.

Positivity rate: 16.95 percent.

So, we cancelled our trip to Indianapolis to watch the Colts vs Raiders; leave that to younger people.

So, omicron is here, though some of what we are seeing is pain old delta.

Yes, I am seeing reports from social media follow/followers who have close relatives in ICU’s.

Yes..this was 5 days ago…this is not something that is mild or “just a cold”. Look at the contrast. And remember hospitalizations are a lagging indicator.

Now the CDC has new guidelines for vaccinated, asymptomatic people. This is the science they are based on:

Sadly, there is still a ton of ignorance out there and I’ve taken to muting and scrolling past.

Random rants (empty inside, etc.)

Well, yes, it appears that we are getting another wave

New York Times. Fortunately football does not appear to be driving it, but I am still masking up for personal protection. (KN-95)

But though I am doing more than I did in 2020, I admit that my normally “not that charitable” attitudes have become worse; my “cup of care” is basically empty.

From the above NYT link, the vaccinated are 5 times less likely to get COVID and 13 times less likely to die from it (when one adjusts for age)

This chart is local and does not adjust for age; it does distinguish boosted from non-boosted. And even sans age adjustment (54 percent vaccination rate among the population), well, look for yourself.

But, none of this has any effect on the hard core anti-vax morons. “See: you can still get it and spread it”, they say. Yes, sober people get in car wrecks, non smokers get lung cancer, and fit people can get heart attacks.

Of course, they miss that point entirely, and frankly I am sick of it. And arguing is a waste of time.

Wokeness I made a small mistake of entering into a woke pile on…and encountered the following gem:

Look at the last line: that, IMHO, is what wokeism is about: the null hypothesis (base assumption) is the said figure is indeed a bigot (whatever flavor) and the burden of proof is on those who would refute the claim.

I always believed that the burden of proof was on the accuser (“the null hypothesis” is “not guilty”) but, IMHO, this is a distinguishing characteristic of a “woke.” If you want proof of guilt, or at least compelling evidence, I don’t consider you to be a woke.

General stupidity

Student loans came up and, more than once, I’ve seen college graduates complain that they regularly paid on loans and the amount owed never went down..or even went up. (yep, probably the same “mashed potatoes for brains” that tell me that I don’t understand logic or reasoning..but I digress)

Simple fact: loans come with interest, and every period of time (usually a month at a time) that you keep the money, interest accrues.Example: suppose you take out a loan of 100,000 dollars at 3 percent annual rate.Each month, the interest on the loan is 100,000 (0.029596/12) = 246.63.

That is, if you pay exactly 246.63, you would have paid the interest ONLY and not made the principle (the amount borrowed) go down at all!!!

If you paid 250 that month, you would have knocked off a whopping 3.37 off of that 100,000 dollar amount.If you paid 200 dollars, then you’d know owe 100,046.63 on the loan. The amount you now owe has gone UP, not down.

I remember back in 1985: I went to the “graduate student orientation” at the University of Texas. We were warned to be mindful of the debt we might accumulate. We were told something like “If you are getting a master’s in electrical engineering, you’ll make enough to pay it back. But if you are getting some sort of arts degree, you might not be able to, so watch what you borrow.”

But yes, you are supposed to take them seriously.

Extra Burdens And of course, I see all types doing “self advocacy.” Here is where I think much of this goes wrong: right now, people are mostly overburdened and overstressed. If you want something from them (more time, more effort, etc.) you have to explain why it is in their interests to make such an investment; something like “I deserve it” isn’t going to convince anyone.

It is as if activists and advocates think that if their cause is righteous enough, it should win, even without salesmanship or convincing. And it does not work that way. At least, I don’t think that it does, and I haven’t seen evidence that it does.

Rittenhouse verdict: my thoughts.

This might be a good place to see the legal aspects.

I think it is undeniably true that his actions..going to the protest armed like that..were stupid and irresponsible. I don’t know enough about the law to know if they were illegal.

Legal considerations aside: my worry is that this event just adds to the “shoot ’em up” culture; what if, next time, an armed protester sees someone like this as a legitimate threat and shoots first?

So, this celebrating the verdict disgusts me, even if the verdict was correct on legal grounds (don’t know enough to comment one way or the other).

But…the divisions and the reactions:

No, this verdict doesn’t mean it is “open season” on protesters. The victims in question, in one form or another, went after a man with a civilian version of an assault rifle.

No, Ritttenhouse is no hero. I’d never hire him for anything, much less a congressional internship. I would NOT want him on my campus.

Yes, this disgusts me:

And yes, I can see some of the emotion: though the eyes of some conservatives, it appears that someone “did something about” the looting and violence that seemed to go on, with impunity, at some BLM protests. “About time”, they say.

Yes, I’ve consistently denounced such violence and looting.

And yes, some liberals have been supportive of it..

And yes, some of the “woke” in academia compare the killing of those protesters with what happens ..in the workplace. Really. I have no doubt that things are sometimes unfair, but ..comparing this to getting away with shooting someone with an AR-15? Really?

Sigh…

It is kind of weird. I am well to the left of center in most of my views (by US standards). But I see this whole incident as a threat to order and public safety, which, if you think about it, is a very classical conservative way of thinking of things. From my point of view, some things are upside down.

Workout notes yesterday, did 32 minutes on the bike, after rehab (banded walks), pull ups (did 1-2-3-3-2-1, 5-4-3-2-1, 5-4-3-2-1, then sets to get 60 reps), push ups (much better range of motion), rows, curls, shoulder presses (10 x 85, 10 x 85, 10 x 90 seated, supported).

Things are looking up; yesterday, 14:20 mpm walking with breaks at 1.1, 2.1 after yoga; weighed in at 199.

Another asymmetry

The clip is mostly asking Democrats to “dial it back.” Yes, he acknowledges the rage from the right wing is more shrill and more intense.

But there is something. The block of rabid, right wing MAGAs is, frankly, larger than any block the Democrats have. And it seems that much that comes from liberals (at least on social media) is “oh, you believe this…I HATE YOU…don’t you KNOW how BAD I HATE you!!!” and that is supposed to convince someone.

If you are in a tiny minority…no matter how righteous your cause is (or you THINK it is), rage will not change anyone’s mind. It is the wrong game plan, FOR US.

Maher goes on to note how it is NOT about “the issues.”

You can’t win over people who HATE YOU…and we seem to seek out such hate. There is an asymmetry here.

Now about the “National Divorce”: I want one. But I don’t want 2 countries. I want THREE. I don’t want MAGA-land (and their insistence that COVID is a hoax, or overblown…denial of science). I don’t want woke-a-stan either where even BRIDGE OPERATORS (they make a draw bridge go up and down) have to pursue equity and social justice

and any semblance of merit is called “white supremacy” and sex is a social construct. I don’t want the police abolished.

I want a third country which has a mix of people who can at least agree on some kernel of reality and have arguments/discussions on how to proceed from there.

The fissures in our society

Yes, when COVID first hit, the large blue urban states suffered the most. But currently, that is no longer true; the states hit the hardest tend to have mediocre to low vaccination rates, and ..yep..the Republican states.

And so it goes; vaccination and risk mitigation behaviors tend to break along party lines, even as some notable Republicans (e. g. Mitch McConnell) have tried to encourage masks and vaccinations.

Yes, science is hard. Yes, liberals are on the right side of this issue. But the very fact that “liberals are for it” turns others off. Some conservatives admit this.

Yes, sometimes loud liberals say some moronic things and “liberals say it” does not mean that anyone else should trust it. But once something gets polarized in this manner, doing something that requires all but universal community buy-in (like stopping the spread of a contagious virus) becomes all but impossible.

What is ironic is that much of what I learned about safety (risk mitigation, redundancy) came from my time in the nuclear Navy…one of the most conservative institutions in the country!

Now I cannot blame liberals for conservatives balking at these measures; some of the blame is can be placed on their placing INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM above and beyond responsibility to the communities in which they live.

But I can say that liberals are absolutely awful at convincing. They are even awful at what I call constructive shaming.

For one: people are more likely to accept a message from someone that they respect, and a first step is to, well, become worthy of respect yourself. And I don’t mean “you think that you are awesome” or that you think that others should respect your opinions; I mean, do something that earns the respect of others..which cannot be coerced.

IMHO, too many liberals deny human nature; to them, everything human, including thoughts and unconscious bias, is a social construct, that can be overcome with a good scolding.

And too many are concerned with thoughts rather than actions; no, we often do NOT act on thoughts. Yes, I am aware that he is a conservative but..

What is frustrating at times that many of the liberals who say ridiculous things (e. g. making kids memorize times tables is oppressive or “gate keeping”) are themselves very good at certain things (e. g. math, science); in a dual way, they remind me of some of the brilliant engineers I have met who are also…young earth creationists!

They say “religion poisons the mind” and I think there is a kernel of truth to that, for both the conventional religions and the secular ones (e. g. wokeness)

Being out of touch with today’s woke

Oh so long ago, ok, I did my undergraduate work from 1977-1981, and graduate from 1985-1991, there was one thing I wanted: to be treated fairly. As long as I had the some opportunities and was evaluated by the same standards everyone else was evaluated by, I was fine.

Keep in mind that within my lifetime, people were openly denied opportunities solely based on things like race and sex; that is, no matter how much aptitude and willingness to work they had, they were not given a shot.

That had changed when I entered the fray.
I was given a “fair whistle” (saying people use when talking about basketball..to get treated fairly by the referees)

I was good with that.

Yes, it is possible that some evaluating me might have thought that, statistically speaking, Latinos had lesser aptitude and perhaps I was the one special case that did. But I was judging my experience on an individual level; I really did not care about their thoughts about group norms.

And that makes me an out-of-touch dinosaur.

Why Democrats will continue to struggle…

Others have had things to say:

And Ann Coulter..bless her heart, has a point.

Matthew Yglesias has point:

But why?

One thing: language. Take the concept of “racism”. Many (most) think that if you treat people in a colorblind manner, you are not being racist. Not so with the woke activists:

The upshot: mortgage company wants to, well, make a profit. So they create financial criteria which will ensure that, but such criteria DOES make it harder for disadvantaged minorities to get a loan. So, to the woke: the company is being racist.

And that is the crux of the CRT stuff: racism, intentionally or not, is so baked into our institutions that being “objective” is to perpetuate racism. Most of the country, including many minorities, do not agree. (For what it is worth: this is why I am a fan of government investment programs to enable higher risk people to have a shot at things like home ownership. Make the criteria race neutral, but it will end up helping minorities more than others)

Anyway, that is one albatross around the neck of Democrats.

Here is another example: take homelessness. Hard working small business owner, of course, wants customers. Maybe they set up a booth in a festival held in a center city area. Organizers know that people won’t come unless they feel safe, so they take measures to discourage homeless people from camping/congregating in said areas.

“Activists” complain…manage to get said measures taken out. Homeless congregate, which leads to customers staying away, and the small business owner loses that opportunity. How do you think said business owner and potential workers are going to vote?

And that, in my opinion, is how liberals drive people away from the Democratic party. They take up the cause of the tiniest of statistical minorities and expect everyone else to turn their lives upside down to accommodate the wishes of said group…and scream that they are bigots if they don’t.

Yes, a colleague did remind me that the general public does not attend college social science seminars, but the Republicans find ways to do so, and blast out every “if you don’t memorize the 30+ gender pronouns you are a bigot” rant from a professor and tell the public “THIS IS WHAT OUR COLLEGES ARE DOING.” Seriously; I’ve been accused of doing such things, and I teach math!

And do we ever hand them ammunition to use on us…

And so, the Republicans have to be truly dreadful to lose…and in 2020, they were, at least at the top of the ticket.

Why COVID/delta is so difficult to discuss

This tweet sparked quite a bit of discussion:

The short answer might be something like:

  1. Risk factors have changed..in a bad direction:

2. Delta CAN (and has) spread outdoors:

Two recent studies have found that outdoor transmission of COVID could be more likely as the Delta variant continues to spread through the population. The first paper, which is still awaiting peer review, outlines a wedding in Texas in April. Even though the wedding was held outdoors under an open-air tent, an outbreak of the virus led to six fully vaccinated people becoming infected and one subsequently dying, Salon reports.

The authors point out two guests who had tested negative for the variant before traveling from India, but likely infected the other guests, who all later tested positive for the variant. They wrote: “With no histories of vaccine breakthrough, this suggests Delta variant may possess immune evasion in patients that received the Pfizer [vaccine], Moderna mRNA [vaccine], and [the] Covaxin [vaccine].”

The second case in question involves the Pendleton Whisky Music Fest, an outdoor concert held on July 10 in Oregon that has so far had 64 COVID infections connected to it. While it’s unclear how many of those who contracted the virus were vaccinated, state health officials launched an investigation into the event, saying in a press statement: “This outbreak is the first one of its size and scope to be traced to an outdoor entertainment event since the lifting of statewide COVID-19 prevention measures at the end of June.”

3. Infections are increasing among the vaccinated.

Now as far as the science goes: true, most spread is via aerosols…indoor. But the delta variant is much more contagious and the outdoor spread is more like droplet spread.

So…these together means that “masking makes sense” in that situation.

But discussion…OMG… it is problematic because:

  1. Things change very rapidly. It was only weeks ago that mainstream articles declared that “breakthrough infections are rare.” (pre delta articles). So, someone who is reasonably well read might have bad information.
  2. Conditional probability is hard for some to grasp. Example: a few weeks ago, it was said that there were 1400 deaths out of 125K breakthrough infections. That is 1.1 percent..similar to the 1.7 percent overall. But that was conditioned on having a breakthrough, and it is a reasonable conjecture that the elderly and more immunocompromised might be more prone to breakthroughs.

    Or, when the NYT released an article that vaxxed people could spread it as easily as vaccinated ones, that was, yes, conditioned on being infected to begin with and the best current data I’ve seen would indicate that a unvaccinated person is 9 times more likely to become infected to begin with.
  3. Mitigation is hard for some to understand. “you might need a mask even if vaccinated” means, to them “oh, vaccinations don’t work?” Or: “X got infected though they were masked” means “your mask doesn’t work?” Risk REDUCTION is the goal; risk ELIMINATION is impossible.

And so…discussion is often confused and frustrating, even when talking to others in good faith..even when the others are neither evil nor stupid.