(Started with a bitter, snarky, angry attack on our reptilian governor-thing and his petty, society-destroying tyranny, but who need any more of that? So, cutting to the chase:)

Our beloved eldest daughter was married yesterday to a fine young man. We are all thrilled for her. Due to the current unpleasantness, the wedding Mass and reception were up in the air until two days before the event. She and her new husband are both meticulous planners, and so had had detailed plans for this wedding in place for months. God evidently wanted to send the message: you are not in charge, but I love you and will make it better.

Although the “Science!” on what is or is not allowed changes with the governor’s socks, the young couple decided a month ago they would be married on the 30th as originally planned, even if it was just the two of them and a priest. Then the diocese said: 10 people max, all masked, may attend the wedding mass. Then, two days ago, it was upped to 30 people. So we got to have a wedding mass with immediate family, bridesmaids and groomsmen, and a photographer. This meant, of course, that anyone who had to travel was not going to be there. When the wedding was originally announced, family and friends from as far away as London were planning to fly in.

This small, out of the way parish was willing to risk 30 people, for which we are eternally grateful. Aside: no pics where you can see individual faces – don’t have permission from the people involved.

About a hundred people gathered in the church parking lot – properly socially distant from each other, as the Science! – any day now – will clearly demand:

Signs with good wishes, balloons. Very touching.

Two weeks ago, when it became evident we were not to be ‘allowed’ to have a reception, we – the family – decided to become veritable pirates, and do some approximation of what we wanted to do, with implied obscene gestures and unprintable curses flung in the direction of Sacramento. I was ready to be the guy hauled off in handcuffs, if it came to it. Enough is enough.

We began to set up a wedding reception for 30 people in our backyard. The story becomes tear-jerkingly wonderful at this point: the number of people who showed up and worked like dogs to pull this off is truly amazing, and our family will forever be so grateful to them.

Tiny amount of background. We are not the neatest people. To put it mildly. We like projects, so there’s, um, stuff lying everywhere. I’ve got bricks and wood and, stuff, everywhere. My wife has her needlework and sewing and other artsy things. Similarly, basic stuff gets, um, less attention, e.g., we filled half a dozen large green waste containers with weeds and branches just cleaning up the backyard. So prepping the physical plant, as it were, was non-trivial. And that’s not the half of it.

But everybody pitched in. Start with our children: our youngest, 16, spent hours helping me clean up the yard, repairing broken things, hauling things around. He similarly helped my wife clean up inside the house. He took spreading wood chips and mulch on paths and other bare dirt areas as his own personal artistic project – and it looked good! At the last minute, he was arranging potted plants out on the patio to make sure everything looked good. Just a saint. What a good kid!

Next, one of the real heroes is younger daughter, 22. She flew back home from South Sudan two months ago as soon as a lockdown looked inevitable just to make sure she could be here for her sister. On an emotional level, it worked much better to have her be the coordinator with her sister than for either parent – the two of them could treat issues and decisions in a more jocular manner, important as the bride-to-be was understandably under incredible stress. Younger daughter took this role on with grace and style.

AND: baked this wedding cake:

Oops – doesn’t look like I took a picture of the finished product. It was utterly beautiful and charming, complete with Lego bride & groom figures on top.

AND: helped with fitting bridesmaids’ dresses, baking vast numbers of scones and sweet breads (the reception was a formal tea), shopping, coordinating, cleaning, bossing her brothers around, doing the layout and decorating – just amazing! Can’t say enough. All while remaining cheerful.

Next, older son, 24, flew in a week ago, the soonest he could get away from work. (He will be pulling major hours to make up for his time here when he gets back). Likewise, in a unterly cheerful and gung-ho manner, he threw himself into whatever needed doing, shopping, errands, and of course clean-up and set-up. His shining moment was on Friday night, when it became apparent that there was simply no way to keep the finger sandwiches cool – not nearly enough fridge/cooler space, and the pretty trays they were on could not be stacked much. So he brainstorms, finds 40 lbs of dry ice, some cardboard boxes, towels and a little desk fan, and puts together a makeshift refrigerator, large enough to lay out trays of little sandwiches so that they could be kept cool without smashing any of them.

Worked like a charm.

Awesome. Next, 3 bridesmaids decided early on they would come no matter what. Two of them, uncertain of the dependability of air travel, jumped in a car and drove 2 days from Colorado, showing up Thursday. A third drove up from Southern California. From Friday morning through clean up late last night, the three of them without a moment’s hesitation threw themselves into set-up and final cleaning – and acted like it was no big deal. Totally wonderful!

A friend of my wife’s, someone who works 40 Days for Life with her, just shows up – for 2 long days – and cleans windows, organizes project materials, just whatever needed doing, smiling and laughing the whole time.

A old school friend of our daughters agrees to mange final set up while the rest of us are at the wedding Mass, a 45 minute drive away. She lost out of the 30 attendees allowed at mass, but, just like everybody else, cheerfully pitched in.

Did you notice the clouds in that second picture above? Weeks of nice, if a little hot, weather before the 30th; weeks of warm, dry, sunny weather forecast starting today. The 30th itself? Scattered thunderstorms. So on Friday night, after the team set up the tables, my wife and I tarped and weighted them all, just in case. The old school friend was to come over a few hours early, pull the tarps, finnish the formal tea set up – complicated! – and then, once we called from the wedding Mass to let her know people were on their way, fire up water pots, set out the charcuterie and lemonade, cue up all the sandwiches and baked good, and have it all pretty and ready to go for when the guests arrived. 25% chance of rain at the scheduled start time, tapering off to nothing over the next 2 hours.

Halfway through final set up, as we are driving back, cloudburst. 1/2″ of rain over maybe an hour. She and a friend she brought to help her quickly retarp all the tables, bring in any food, and – wait. We get home, pouring rain, I grab a push broom and start sweeping an inch of water off the patio – it drains poorly – and we wait. Forecast says the storm should blow through any minute – and it soon does. HOWEVER, our back yard is completely shaded by two ancient walnut trees – a huge part of its charm – and every little stir of the wind brings further showers of drips off the leaves. So we wait some more.

Finally, the sun comes out and quickly dries things out. The tea that should have started around 2 p.m. starts after 4. But everyone was in a great mood, and had been socializing inside, and so were perfectly charming and happy as we rolled out the tea. Here’s some pictures:

From the patio, prior to final decoration of the bower elder son and I threw together.
With decoration, before we left for Mass, tarps still on the first time!
Closeup. It was pretty.
As you walk through.
Sorry, no final set-up pictures, as the guest were there before I could get any. You’ll have to imagine the charming tea sets, heaping platters of finger sandwiches, scones and sweet breads, and little bowls of clotted cream, lemon curd, apricot and berry jams – all homemade, of course. We’re crazy that way.
A little side table with wedding pictures of the parents of the bride and groom, plus gifts.

It hardly needs saying that the mother of the bride worked her fingers to the bone on this, cleaning, baking, jam making, sewing, mothering. She hardly slept the last few days; she was still abed at 9:00 a.m. today, very unusual for her. Another hero. I’m sure I’m missing a few. But the number of people who cheerfully pitched in at the last minute to pull this off – and everything was lovely – was staggering. We are all so grateful.

Two families partied until around 9:00. Tea followed by cake and champagne and coffee, followed by some pizza and chicken. Social distance was not maintained. Nobody turned us in.

So, that’s where I’ve been the last few days. This morning, warmed up some coffee from last night, and grabbed some leftovers (a small mountain remains – we made 2X+ as much as could possibly have been eaten. Tradition!) and sat out on the patio typing this, a happy and grateful father of the bride.

Scones with clotted dream and lemon curd – heaven.

Fichte Reread Wrap-up: We Are the Enemy

Rereading Fichte after having read many more modern compulsory state schooling advocates, one is struck by the constant echoes of him. When, for example, William Torrey Harris recommends dark, ugly schools buildings removed from the delights of nature, the better to train children to focus on their intellectual development, he is merely echoing Fichte’s dismissal of direct experience, of the very idea of objective reality, in favor of developing in children the ability to form and be guided by subjective conceptions. Or when that Harvard woman in the news bewails the ‘evils’ of homeschooling, she is but echoing Fichte, who blames all the evils of society on the family’s role in raising their own children, and insists education is something the state must OF COURSE exclusively perform, so that mankind can progress to the next level of enlightenment. More on this below.

It’s been almost 7 years since I first read Fichte’s Addresses to the German Nation, the founding work modern compulsory state education and a declaration of war by the state on the family. In the Addresses, Fichte declares that the state has every right and a sacred duty to simply seize all German children, remove them from all contact with their families for the duration of their education, for their own good, but especially for the good of the Nation. He is a fiery, fanatical believer in the perfectibility of Man and thus of the State, believes the enlightened among us have a sacred duty to lead the unenlightened to the state-mandated Promised Land by whatever means necessary, and has identified education – state controlled, mandatory education – as the key to this Heaven on Earth.

The major thing standing in the way of achieving these ends, ends that justify, evidently, extravagant and brutal means, is the family. Within their families all children (with, I suppose, the exception of Fichte himself?) have been raised to be sensual, weak-willed sheep who do not love the Fatherland, from which all their virtue flows. Properly raised, these New German Men will be virtuous, selfless lovers of Truth, and, incidentally, obviate the need for a standing army. If the Fatherland needs defending, this properly educated, Fatherland-loving, physically fit generation will of course simply form an unbeatable, selfless fighting force against which no unenlightened mortals could possibly stand. (1)

Fichte delivered these Addresses as a series of lecture over the winter of 1807/8. He was evidently a very good orator; certainly, much of the Addresses read like fiery evangelical preaching. His audience for these talks, the admission fees to which paid the the Fichte family’s bills, were the sort of people who would pay money to be alternately flattered and harangued on wintry Sunday evenings. These were professionals living in French-occupied Berlin, butt-hurt over having had that loathsome creature Napoleon crush the previously invincible Prussian army like a bug. Literal blocks away from the site of these lectures, the government of the occupation had its offices.

Just because it’s easy to forget: in the early 1800s, around 80% to 90% of the population of Prussia, and every other nation as well, lived in the country. Farmers could only consistently produce 10-20% more food than was required to keep themselves alive; this put a cap on how many people could be engaged in activities other than farming. I mention this because farmers supplied not only the food, but also armies of any size of any nation. The major target of Fichte’s reforms, therefore, had to be the children of country people.

I’ve long suspected that the myth of the country bumpkin is a result of solid farmers not buying into the fantasies of city slickers. They must be stooopid, those country rubes, because all the smart people agree that anyone who disagrees with them is, you know, stupid. That there might be species of stupid just for those living in cities detached from the work of providing sustenance is an idea that seems to not have occurred to too many urbanites.

Perhaps this attitude has some parallels today?

Fichte begins with and sprinkles liberally throughout his talks the claim that Germans are responsible for pretty much all progress and everything good in the world. He partly attributes this to the natural character of Germans, partly to his claim that Germans have a natural language. The two causes interact: because German Germans never learned a conqueror’s language, they understand the world and express themselves plainly, in words that come directly from common experience. The pointed reference here is to the French, ethnically Germanic for the most part, as the Franks were a German tribe, yet conquered by Rome more or less and speakers of a highly degenerate form of their conquerors language. When he speaks of the German Nation, he means all native German speakers.

Fichte considered states as passing fads, almost, and sees them as each in its own way an expression of fundamental Germaness. The existence of separate German states is no major hindrance to his theories, in other words. One might say: German states are downstream from the German nation to which these Addresses are addressed. The high destiny of the German nation overwhelms and vouchsafes the purity and success of any truly German state. This primacy of German manifest destiny to lead the world to the next phase of Fichte’s 5 stages of human development will keep the state honest, as it were. In any event, Fichte never for a moment entertains the idea that any state pursuing his grant plan might be fundamentally corrupt. Nope: nothing can possibly go wrong with the state exercising its police power to round up everyone’s children and enforce isolation on them, imprisoning them for years with no visitation rights. Fichte goes farther: it is as CERTAIN as day follows night his education system will produce selfless, obedient, patriotic adults who will lead the German Nation and then the world to Nirvana.

Another familiar theme:

Now, assuming that the pupil is to remain until education is finished, reading and writing can be of no use in the purely national education, so long as this education continues. But it can, indeed, be very harmful; because, as it has hitherto so often done, it may easily lead the pupil astray from direct perception to mere signs, and from attention, which knows that it grasps nothing if it does not grasp it now and here, to distraction, which consoles itself by writing things down and wants to learn some day from paper what it will probably never learn, and, in general, to the dreaming which so often accompanies dealings with the letters of the alphabet. Not until the very end of education, and as its last gift for the journey, should these arts be imparted and the pupil led by analysis of the language, of which he has been completely master for a long time, to discover and use the letters. After the rest of the training he has already acquired, this would be play.

Fichte, 9th Address, pp 136

To sum up: a kid is to spend, effectively, 24 x 7 X 365 in school for around 10 years, learning to be a good German, how to really focus on the task at hand (2) but doesn’t learn reading and writing (and, one assumes, arithmetic) until something like age 15 or 16. If you can read and write, you don’t have to pay attention to the teacher as much – you can take notes, and review later. This will not do, as the child is to accept the state trained and certified teacher in the place of his displaced father, and fulfill his need for approval and love by pleasing that teacher. The magical education works, according to Fichte’s understanding of Pestalozzi, by having the student utterly emotionally dependent on pleasing the teacher, doing what the teacher wants him to do in the way the teacher wants it done, always eager for approval. There is no fallback: by design, a child who fails to please his teacher has no recourse, not to family, not even to books. His family has abandoned him, as far as he knows, and he’s not allowed to explore the world through reading, where he might come across other ways in which people interact.

The scary part: it works great. Modern schooling attempts to achieve the same dynamic by telling the parents, who themselves were schooled in the same way, that they are bad parents if they don’t enforce homework on their child, effectively extending to the home and parents the duty to please the teacher. That the bulk of homework is busy work is the point: it’s not the work itself that is important, it’s the discipline that doing the work as commanded enforces.

Fichte is alive and well in modern schooling. ‘Educators’ are trained and filtered by their willingness to perform busy work and regurgitate nonsense on command, then certified. Teachers may and often do have goals and ideals of their own – these are at best irrelevant, as the structure of the schools is the message. You will sit in the class in which you are placed; you will do what the teacher tells you to do; you will ‘succeed’ by regurgitating what the teacher tells you. Anything else is at best superfluous.

You end up with well-schooled, ‘front row’ (3) people who are utterly convinced of their intellectual and moral superiority, functionally innumerate, scientifically and historically illiterate, convinced that regurgitating whatever the approved authority figure is saying at the moment is the apex of intelligence, and utterly terrified of examining the basis of their confidence. They react with anger to anyone who dares challenge them on any point of their received beliefs. They have received their identity through their schooling (as it was designed to do); any challenge to any idea is thus a personal attack, and proof the challenge is stupid and evil.

See, for example, the knee-jerk shutdown of criticisms of the current lockdown.

  1. I’ve read in a number of places that German soldier in the World Wars consistently inflicted 30% higher casualties than they received. Those soldiers were educated in schools founded by von Humboldt after the recommendations of Fichte, so maybe there’s something to this claim? But the Prussian state could never quite pull off the whole ‘seize all children from the cradle and prohibit all contact with their families’ thing – which is probably why they lost both those wars…
  2. The psychologist Alice Miller talks about how children are, of necessity, desperate for love and approval, which they get automatically in any even marginally healthy family. Parents and siblings who are not monsters hold and talk to the baby and interact with the child daily. She also mentions in a couple of her works the standards of German child-rearing manuals from the 19th century, how fathers were instructed to make sure their sons failed at certain tasks just so that they could be punished. Otherwise, if the child were to experience only love, acceptance, and patience, he may not learn to understand discipline and authority. All love is conditional, in other words. Somebody else will need to research what, if any, effect Fichte had on those manuals, or visa versa.
  3. From the linked article, proof, if any needed, that arrogance makes you stupid:

Front row kids:

Mobile, global, and well educated

Primary social network is via colleges and career

Intellect is primary. View world through framework of numbers and rational arguments

Meaning (and morality) comes from careers and intellectual puruits

Faith is irrational. They see themselves as beyond race and gender

View their lives as better than their parents and their children’s lives will be better than their own

Home ‘Improvement’ Update: Hosed

When we last checked in, like, yesterday, I had tried to MacGyver (for values of ‘MacGyver’ where he’s suffered debilitating brain aneurysms) a leaky hose. For reasons lost to the mists of History – yes, capital ‘H’ – (and shall remain so enmisted). I deployed a plastic sleeve, about a gallon of Shoe Goo, a few feet of nylon cord, thus:

After allowing the Shoe Goo to cure overnight, I applied some electrical tapea. A LOT of electrical tape:

I’m sure you all are dying to hear how it worked.

Time to failure: about 10 seconds. Slow drip. Then, over the next few minutes as I watered the patio plants, we reached this appalling state:

That would be a fail. A big fat dramatic fail mocking my insane yet evidently pathetic repair efforts. Geysers and puddles level fail. When I start getting cocky, y’all can remind me of this.

It isn’t stupid if it works. This is stupid. I sense a trip to Ace in my immediate future.

Rube Goldberg & Home ‘Improvement’

And now for something completely different….

From my farm boy entrepreneur father, I inherited the can-do attitude of simply thinking an awful lot of problems can be solved if you just go at it. In general, this has served me well. For example, I am generally willing to pay people to work on our cars or plumbing – I can do, sure, but lacking the expertise (and all those nice tools!) it’s better to have the pros do it. *How* I came to realize this involves, not some abstract considerations, but rather, flooding a bathroom and lying on my back outside on the asphalt in the dead of winter under a VW bug pulling on an accelerator cable. Among other equally, um, memorable, experiences. So, unless it’s pretty straight-forward, I’ll call the plumber or electrician (don’t ask) and take my cars in for service.

Plus I’m cheap. I don’t like throwing broken things out, and do like jury-rigging solutions out of stuff lying around. This leads to thing like the compost box that took several *days* to build out of an old oak futon frame, leftover wainscoting boards, and wire mesh scraps, among other things. On the plus side, works OK and it’s still there 3 years later; on the down side, I’m never getting that time back and could have made something at least as functional out of a couple sheets of plywood and some 2 x 4s in about 2 hours – which I will need to do in the near future anyway, as the needlessly complicated present one is falling predictably apart. .

So, got up early today, and was watering plants on the patio. The hose for the patio is one of those spiral stretchy ones that’s quite a few years old. A while back, it sprung a leak near the middle.

Do I say: old cheap hose, we’ve got our money’s worth, toss it, as the first leak is generally a sign of more leaks to come? Or: I’ll see if they have the appropriate hose patch kit at Ace?

OR: do I grab some electrical tape and have at it?

So the tape held for a short while, then started leaking, then spraying. Next, I tried slathering on some Shoe Goo and covering with duct tape. That was – not good. So, this morning, I decide to give it one more go. Because I’m kinda stupid that way.

I’m thinking the Shoe Goo wasn’t a bad idea, I just needed more and a longer cure time. And that the rapid failure of the duct tape effort might have something to do with goopy, lumpy terrain due to the previous attempts…

So, I cut out the bad section entirely, find a plastic sleeve thing that fits over the hose, slather on the Shoe Goo in a manner intended to cause the sleeve to spread it out when I shove it over the ends. And I stick it together…

Then I start worrying that there’s not enough strength along the length of the hose, that this patch will pull out when I drag the hose around. Soooo – looking around for something handy, I spy some nylon cord. Hmmm. Cut a few lengths longer than the patch job, and Shoe Goo them on. That doesn’t look right…

So I wrap the length of the repair in the cord, and Shoe Goo *that* on. Then decide that, after it dries, I’ll wrap the whole thing in electical tsape, extending a good 6″ on either side of the repair…

Did I mention that, while fiddling around with all this, I pulled the hose out of the sleeve at least 3 times, and, ramming back in means I’m also putting Shoe Goo on the *inside* of the hose, where it will not help and may very well clog the hose.

So, instead of throwing an old hose away, instead of looking for a repair kit next time I’m at Ace, I wasted spent a half hour doing this:

I wish I were confident that this is the most ridiculous repair job I’ve ever attempted, but I can’t actually be sure. Which is a little scary…

And then I’m going to waste a hundred feet of electrical tape to cover this monstrosity up. Any bets on how fast it springs a leak somewhere else, in the unlikely event this doesn’t just fail out of the chute or that I ended up clogging it up with Shoe Goo, or both?


More d&mn Virus

Clarissa’s blog states some numbers:

Across the US, 2,6% of all COVID deaths are of people under the age of 45.

In Massachusetts, only 14,8% of deaths are under the age of 70.

In Minnesota, 81% of all COVID deaths are in nursing homes.

In Connecticut, 6,3% are under 60 and 18,8% are under 70.

In PA, there are more deaths over the age of 95 than under the age of 60.

Worldwide, there are more deaths over the age 100 than under the age 30. Obviously, the number of people over the age 100 is massively lower than that of the under-thirties.

My comment (longer than her post. Pithy, I ain’t):

Also, it’s not like nursing home populations are homogenous. The majority of the people stuck there are going to die sooner rather than later. A 2010 study in SF showed 80% of nursing home patients died within a year of being admitted. but the average stay is still 2.2 years – because some, especially those with dementia and Alzheimer’s (and little else) typically live 5-10 years.

What you end up with is a churn: there’s a constant flow of patients who die soon – that SF study showed a median survival time of 3 months(!) for men and 9 for women. Those poor souls show up with one foot on the threshold of St. Peter’s gate, and pretty much promptly step over. BUT – as, anecdotally, I see when I go caroling at the same nursing home year after year, SOME residents live for many years, skewing the average stay high. The median ‘stay’ is like 6 months; the average is 2.2 years.

The takeaway: while some elderly people who would have otherwise lived a few more years no doubt died of COVID 19 in nursing homes, I’m betting – and that autopsy video you posted bears this out, where all 12 victims were extremely ill before they caught the virus – that mainly the virus is doing little more than accelerating the deaths of extremely sick people, if even that. The sad truth: people in nursing homes are put there to die; in the old days, if an 80yr old died, the cause of death was ‘old age’, with a nod, maybe, to the cold, flu, infection, or other otherwise minor illness that pushed them the last inch over the finish line.

Thus, even if everything was done right, as you described, chances are all that would have happened was that the ‘curve’ of deaths in nursing homes would have been ‘flattened’. As was always inherent in the math, the same number of people would have died, just spread out a little more. Applying this to the whole population, OTOH, only guarantees that the virus hangs around for longer and longer – until as Gavin Newsom clearly hopes, flu season starts up again, and an airborne virus that would have died out in the spring is given a second life.

The video mentioned above, in which a doctor describes a German report on 12 autopsies done on COVID 19 victims:

It’s a bit long and over-detailed for us non-specialists. The key points, from my perspective, are at 1:00 in, where he says some calming (to the rational mind) things about outcomes (although, since his numbers seem to be more case-based than population based, about 400% less calming than they should be), and most especially at 2:30 on, where he discusses the characteristics of the 12 poor people who died. Average age: 73; condition: all 12 were in extremely poor health BEFORE they caught the virus. All 12 already had one foot in the grave.

It’s a good video, but illustrates my main point in all these blog posts about the virus I keep throwing up: we humans are bad at assessing risk, and wildly, recklessly, and disastrously overestimate the risks of COVID 19. One could even say, based on the evidence, that we’re incapable of assessing risk: once frightened, we rush to embrace any bad news, and are incapable of integrating good news. Here, this doctor, a charming, even-handed fellow, even faced with the cold, hard reality that, with very few exceptions, COVID 19 doesn’t kill anybody UNLESS the victim is already very sick, drones on about the need to understand risks. The risks are in front of him; he even explains them, but he doesn’t understand them; the understanding he seems to be seeking will not change the risk profile of Joe or Jane average American one iota.

What risks? If you aren’t quite old and very sick already, you’d be almost better off wearing a helmet 24/7 just in case a meteorite were to hit you in the head.

The COVID Numbers You MUST Know

File:Lots of math symbols and numbers.svg

Basic, basic math, and therefore, evidently, beyond the grasp of virtually all doctors, journalists, politicians, pundits, and all us terrified sheep:

  • Percentage of people in the US in nursing homes: approximately 0.4%
  • Percentage of COVID 19 deaths in nursing homes: approximately 60%
  • COVID 19 death rate doctors are throwing around today: 1%

Here’s the math-is-hard part. Since the US is approaching 100,000 reported COVID 19 deaths, we’ll use that nice round number to make it easier:

  • 60% of 100,000 is 60,000. That’s about how many COVID deaths have taken place among nursing home patients – 0.4% of everyone
  • 40% of 100,000 is 40,000. That’s how many COVID 19 deaths have taken place among everyone who isn’t a nursing home patient – 99.6% of everyone.
  • US population is about 330,000,000. Multiplying the total population by 0.4%, we find about 1.3 million nursing home patients in the US . (The CDC agrees)

There are some fancier philosophical considerations that figure into any fancier math, but let’s keep it simple: let’s weight the quoted fatality rate by populations in and out of nursing homes. We’ll start by establishing a ratio based on the (wild, maybe) assumption that everyone is equally likely to catch the virus:

  • 60,000 deaths divided by 1.3 million nursing home patients = 4.615%
  • 40,000 deaths divided by 328.7 million everybody else = 0.012%

Of course, not everyone has caught the virus yet, so we need to change these imaginary deaths rates based on everybody already having caught it to reflect the 1% death rate being tossed about these days. What if everybody catches the virus, and the 1% death rate holds, but split between the nursing home patients and everybody else? That would mean 3.3 million Americans die, up somewhat from the 100K we’re approaching. In this scenario, using the numbers up above:

  • 152% of all nursing home patients will die. That seems unlikely.
  • 0.4% of everybody else will die. That’s 4 out of every 1,000.

Four out of 1,000 is bad. If a person had 250 non-nursing home acquaintances, on average 1 would die of COVID 19. If, again, EVERYBODY gets infected, and 1% is the real death rate.

But nobody any more is predicting 3.3 million deaths. Trends suggest we’re very close to topping out at a little over 100K. But, hey, what do I know? Here’s where you get to plug in your favorite guess of how many Americans will, in fact, die of COVID 19, and see what happens to your chances if you aren’t in a nursing home:

Let’s start with the popular guess of half a million dead. If you’re anticipating 500,000 COVID 19 deaths (which would require a wild reversal of all observed trends followed by an explosion of deaths – but hey, never mind, we’re assuming it’s your number to pick) then the likelihood of a non-nursing home patient dying is:

  • 500,000 divided by 3,3 million is right around 15%
  • 15% of 0.4 is 0.06%.

That’s well above shark attack levels, but within bad flu season levels. Comparable to ‘die in a car accident on my way to work’ level risk. Do you panic over driving to work and demand the government destroy the economy in order to save you? No? If you had 1,167 non-nursing home acquaintances, you’d lose 1 to COVID 19, on average.

Putting in more plausible (but still likely far too high) numbers, like 200,000, gives even lower likelihoods. 200,000 deaths mean you have a 0.024% chance of dying if you’re not a nursing home patient, and so on.

Of course these numbers are just first-pass, get a feel for the landscape bogies. To get a more scientific estimate of the likelihood of any person dying of COVID 19, we’d need a team of actuaries to work on this. Actuaries are the highly trained mathematicians who estimate risk for insurance companies. Unlike us laymen, actuaries are really, really good at understanding risk. They divide people into groups or strata based on a number of risk characteristics, which characteristics are in turn based on years and years of experience and experimentation. Insurance companies have billions and billions riding on the accuracy of the numbers the actuaries come up with, which numbers are revised constantly in response to real-world outcomes. They’re good at their job.

The first thing an actuary would do is look at risk categories, and notice that 95% of the COVID deaths are of people already sick, generally very sick. Almost all are also very old. Sick, old people – the kind of people who end up in nursing homes. For otherwise healthy people, the risk of COVID 19 really is just background noise. (1)

People with no feel for numbers just cannot grasp how ridiculous this panic and resulting lockdown over COVID 19 are. YES, we should have done more to protect the elderly and sick; YES, it would have been prudent to restrict travel from hotspots; PERHAPS locking down NYC for a couple of weeks would have been prudent. But locking down suburban California or rural Montana and anywhere that isn’t a nursing home, hospital treating COVID patients, or perhaps megalopolis with decades of history of criminal mismanagement? For months on end? Shutting down small businesses and putting millions out of work – on purpose? INSANE.

What we have driving the panic are theories – highly dubious, emotion-packed theories. The ‘models’ are nothing but those theories and panic dressed in bad math and run on a computer – as anybody familiar with model building and data evaluation could have told you. (We certainly tried.)

Theories include the efficacy of general lockdowns – any science behind that? Cost benefit analysis? Social distancing – ditto? Nope – 6 feet is a magic distance in all cases; lockdowns save lives without costing other lives. We people who ‘believe’ Science! just *know* these things. To question them is heresy, punishable by burning at the stake!

And the government at various levels suddenly has the duty and power to unilaterally shelve constitutionally guaranteed rights of assembly and religious freedom, and effectively seize the property of business owners without trial or compensation, and throw millions out of work, due to a duty to manage risk just discovered lurking in some emmenation from a penumbra somewhere….

Bottom line: if you’re terrified of catching and dying from COVID 19 and don’t live in a nursing home, or are otherwise quite sick or very elderly, you need to start wearing a helmet at all times. NASA estimates 12-15 meteorites strike earth’s surface every day, after all. Sometimes, a lot more. A guy even died, once. An American woman had a meteorite barely miss her head, and leave her with a terrible bruise. Think of the children!

  1. In case you’re wondering, yes, I briefly worked as a number cruncher – like, adding up numbers from reports on a 10-key, very bottom of the totem pole – in an actuarial department as my very first real job out of college. I balked at the amount of work needed to get my math chops up enough to advance, and changed careers. Math really is hard, sometimes.

A Political Observation & Some More Charts

The top 6 countries by COVID 19 deaths are shown below. These 6 countries barely represent 10% of the world’s population yet account for 56% of all cases and 72% of all deaths:


A political observation, something all these countries share:

USA – election of a ‘right wing’ administration revealed the vulnerability of the culturally and politically dominant Left, which, predictably, completely lost its mind. Now, under the COVID noise, indictments are coming down against the 3rd tier of Leftist operatives.

UK – contrary to the wishes of the politically dominant Left, the nation voted not only to reject globalism and leave the EU, but then enabled the despised non-Leftist Boris Johnson to become Prime Minister and form a government.

Italy – The anti-globalist 5 Star Party came to power in 2018.

France – Macron, a lifetime Socialist Party member, has been under siege by the Yellow Vests for over a year. The Yellow Vests are a mixed bag, politically – hey, it’s France – but include ‘populist’ anti-government factions. While Macron is often portrayed as pro-business, a cursory look at what he’s up to shows he’s pro giant global business, and pursues pretty much textbook Gramsciite social destruction policies.

Spain – a history of conflict, often violent, between Communists (under whatever name) and more conservative elements. ‘Right wing’parties have been making gains in recent years.

Brazil – Jair Bolsonaro’s election in 2019 put in power pretty much the Left’s nightmare candidate. As Wikipedia sums up: “He is a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage and homosexuality, abortion, affirmative action, drug liberalization and secularism. In foreign policy, he has advocated closer relations to the United States and Israel. During the 2018 presidential campaign, he started to advocate for economic liberal and pro-market policies.”

Each of these nations has a Left that’s having its power threatened. Somehow, that correlates remarkably to more COVID 19 deaths…

Now for some charts. Have COVID 19 daily deaths counts fallen off a cliff? Why, yes, yes they have: (All charts from Worldometers)


This is probably as low as Italy will fall, as far as daily death counts go, as they count COVID 19 deaths very liberally, and, with an older population, they will not lack from nursing home patients with the sniffles checking out. But, on a populations 60M+, we’ve reached the statistical noise level of deaths.


Ditto. Also note that the declines started in early April – with the arrival of spring, which is what any sane person would have predicted.


French data is extremely noisy – again, hey, they’re French – but the overall decline is still there. Those spikes are all related to reporting lumpiness. Tiny numbers.


So here’s the one country, of the six ‘leading’ country, where the decline is not evident from the graph. Brazil has over 200M people; 750 deaths are, as always, personal tragedies, but, statistically? Barely registers.

I’ll keep more of an eye on Brazil.


Even the birth palce of COVID Panic Porn is clearly on the way out. This data shows an odd weekly cyclicality: down, down, down, off a cliff, down, way up, repeat. Reporting quirk? I’d assume so.

As noted previously here, England has implemented a policy of listing COVID 19 on the mandatory reporting list, along with the Plague, Mad Cow Disease, anthrax – because a flu-like infection fatal well under 1% of the time is just like those things. The net result: as the infection inevitably spreads, more and more people who test positive will show up in the counts regardless of COVID 19 actually contributing to their deaths, or, indeed, despite showing no symptoms at all.

So, realistically, we’ve reached bottom unless the UK changes its reporting rules. It may even go up.

Finally, the US:

Same pattern, same issues as with the UK data. Given the political investment in keeping the lockdown and fear going by political conmen like the reptilian Newsom, I’d guess this is about as low as the daily counts will be allowed to go.

I think I just insulted reptiles.

Bloodletting, Lockdowns, and Other Adventures in Medical Theory

The term science as used over the years means two related but distinct and consistently confounded activities. The first and most ancient meaning: Science is an organized, systematic approach to a subject. Under this rubric are such modern fields as Political Science, most of Economics, and Philosophy, as well as Chiropractic Medicine, Astrology, and Scientology. The key is an organized, systematic approach. Such an approach appeals not to controlled experiment or repeatable observations, but merely to logic built upon certain more or less reasonable assumptions supported by a set of anecdotes. Sciences in this sense may or may not comport well with reality.

It is important to note that science in this first sense is often, maybe even generally, the best we can do, and can be useful. Economics is very useful, for example, even if it is supported almost entirely by a large (and convincing!) set of anecdotes. It has not been proven experimentally, for example, that socialist governments *must* *always* impoverish their subjects, but the lack of a clear counterexample sure does give one pause, to say the least.

The second sense, the sense in which Newton and Feynman are scientists in a way Machiavelli and Sun Tsu are not, rests on its claims working in the real world. Valid controlled experimentation and replicable observations *demonstrate* what they claim; technological applications of these claims reduce them to truths, albeit conditional truths in the physical world. Physics and Chemistry and related fields are sciences in this second sense.

BUT – here’s the huge caveat: saying Chemistry is a science is not the same thing as saying that everything any particular chemist claims is science. And, a little more subtly, there can be well-founded scientific claims embedded within the claims of areas that are science, generally, only under the first definition.

As discussed ad nauseum on this site, in fact, the main original reason I started blogging in the first place: We owe allegiance to and are morally obliged to accept, however conditionally, only the claims of science in the second sense. Why? Because science in the sense of a systematic study of a topic must be based on more or less credible assumptions. A reasonable person may reject those assumptions. Phrenology has a clear subject matter and a well-defined approach. All you have to accept is that the shape of a man’s skull tells you important things about his temperament and intelligence.

Does it? Now is where a little skill in science, what I call scientific literacy, comes into play: even with the meager science chops I have, it is easy to imagine what a valid scientific (in the second sense) study to determine the relationship between skull bumps and personality would look like. Double blind, large populations, carefully spelled out rules of observation and measurement, elimination, as far as possible, of judgement calls about temperament, off the top of my head. Then, once again based on my simply having read a bunch of science, the second part: if such a study existed, any serious Phrenologist would *lead* with that study, and all the follow up studies such an interesting and useful science would of course generate.

But they don’t. Therefore, fraud, or at least, self-delusions.

The situation becomes more murky when there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to support claims, such as the innumerable people who will testify that probiotics or homeopathy have healed them. Good people of good will, no doubt. But do they? I don’t see anything like valid scientific studies to support these and many similar claims. If they existed, anybody steeped in science in the second sense would lead with them.

But they don’t. Does this mean they are wrong? No. It simply means an honest man owes them no allegiance, and that a scientifically literate man is all but compelled to note the lack of any real science to support the claims. If science in the second sense is being claimed, then a scientifically literate man is obliged to call foul.

Mostly, I assume, and it generally seems to be the case, that there’s little if any harm in most such claims. Go on a keto diet and get you probiotics from a tube, if you want, certainly none of my business. But sometimes…

And – a lot of other such stories. What I want to talk about today is that even radium water was supported by anecdotes and scientific theories. That golfer who died from drinking radium water – recommended by his doctor! – spent years telling anybody who would listen how good it was for him, improved his energy, and all in all made him feel great – right up until cancer rotted his bones out.(1) And the manufacturer had a theory – Radiation hormesis – that sounded pretty good to many people. It sounded like science, and, being scientifically illiterate, the average Joe doesn’t even know the right questions to ask.

Back to bloodletting. It’s customary to think doctors back in the old days were really stupid – bleeding people, thinking intentional blood loss was going to cure them? When bloodletting was done enough, it in itself would kill you! How stupid do you have to be?

Not stupid at all, it turns out. Doctors well into the 19th century still used it.

They had a theory. They still do. Some patients did recover, and, no doubt, credited the bloodletting as the cure to all who would listen. The nice doctor would tell the poor sick person they needed bloodletting with stone certainty; friends and relatives might testify to its effectiveness.

But those ignorant days are past, right? Doctors today rely on science in the second sense, well-understood, thoroughly tested practices supported by multiple rigorous studies…

Unfortunately, nope. For example, we older people are often prescribed several drugs at the same time. Drugs have a range of effects on people; few are universally effective: some people respond as advertised, but some just don’t respond for reasons that are poorly understood, if understood at all. And drugs interact. Sometimes, the interactions are well known, usually because they killed a number of people. Failing that, it’s unlikely that the drug interactions have been studied at all, let alone subjected to rigorous, scientifically valid research.

Think about it: a drug company spends many millions of dollars getting a drug tested. All in, it takes in the neighborhood of a billion dollars to get a drug to market. That drug – any and every drug – may and probably will be used in conjunction with any number of other drugs (and alcohol, pot, and goodness knows what else). To *scientifically* answer the question: how does this drug interact with aspirin? Tylenol? Blood pressure meds? Serotonin uptake inhibitors? and on and on, would take billions and billions of dollars. And then how about with both blood pressure meds and antidepressants together? And so on.

To require the level of testing to determine the risks (and, who knows? benefits) of combining multiple drugs would simply put the drug companies out of business. No one could afford the level of testing needed to figure all this out. No more new drugs for you! (2)

Thus, when people say medicine is more art than science, they ain’t kidding.

The topical application of all this: doctors are trained and formed in this world. They are not, and, insofar as they are practicing in the real world, cannot be, scientists in the second sense.

So, we are assured – we were, weren’t we? – that lockdowns were needed, because science! Nope, no science was involved – doctors had a theory, like they had with bloodletting and radium water. You think there are rigorous scientific studies proving lockdowns, on the whole, improve things? Has anyone even dared propose that such studies exist? Social distancing save lives! It’s science! 6 feet! 5 feet doesn’t cut it, and 7 feet is clearly excessive! Nope. Somebody has a theory, like ringing church bells to disperse the aqueous humors causing the Plague (it was perfectly logical science, in the first sense of the word).

Bottom line: at best, an increasingly credulity-defying position to hold, lockdowns and social distancing were reasonable guesses based on some untested and unverified theory held by doctors, doctors who are not scientists and are as likely as anybody else to be scientifically illiterate. No overall assessment of risk was performed, as in, do the likely costs of lockdowns and social distancing exceed the assumed, theoretical, benefits?

Nope. It’s theories all the way down – at best. No real science involved, nothing that would compel an honest, scientifically literate man to assent to these measures. More likely, it’s political corruption refusing to let a crisis go to waste, even if they have to manufacture the crisis.

It is so clear now that the costs of lockdowns and social distancing exceed by far any benefits that it is sheer evil perversity that any remain in effect. We need to explore ways to make the panic mongers and political operative pay.

  1. As the Wall Street Journal put it: “The Radium Water Worked Fine Until His Jaw Came Off”
  2. Whether this would necessarily be a bad thing overall is an open question. It has to be!

Schooling as State Control: Some More Fichte

As mentioned earlier, I’ve been rereading Fichte’s Addresses to the German Nation, since I now have a lot more historical and philosophical context than I had when I first read them several years ago. What follows are a few quotations that, this time, grabbed my attention, and a little light discussion.

For anyone new here: Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814) was the founder of modern compulsory state schooling – schooling of, by, and for the state. He inspired von Humboldt, who embraced his goals and implemented his program in Prussia starting in 1810. Horace Mann and the other founders of American state schooling traveled to Prussia in the first half of the 19th century to admire and learn from the Prussian Model of state-controlled schooling. Many got PhDs from Prussian universities – the PhD was invented at the University of Berlin, founded by von Humboldt, where Fichte was chair of philosophy and Rector. The U of Berlin was the first modern research university, intended to train the elites who would become the implementers of Prussian Schooling and to further train the products of such schooling, for the good of the state.

Harvard, always the leading University in America, became a research university over the last few decades of the 19th century under its president Charles Eliot. As Wikipedia puts it:

But Eliot’s goal went well beyond Emersonian self-actualization for its own sake. Framed by the higher purposes of a research university in the service of the nation, specialized expertise could be harnessed to public purposes.

Eliot had spent 2 years in Europe studying schooling. The threads leading from Fichte to all modern state-controlled schooling are solid. We are to this day attempting to implement his program.

It’s key to understand Fichte to understand how we’ve gotten to where we are today: school versus parents for the souls of the children.

In his 9th Address, Fichte expands on the requirement that children be removed for all parental control and influence for the duration of their education, which will be supplied by state-certified Masters:

To put it more briefly. According to our supposition, those who need protection are deprived of the guardianship of their parents and relatives, whose place has been taken by masters. If they are not to become absolute slaves, they must be released from guardianship, and the first step in this direction is to educate them to manhood. German love of fatherland has lost its place; it shall get another, a wider and deeper one; there in peace and obscurity it shall establish itself and harden itself like steel, and at the right moment break forth in youthful strength and restore to the State its lost independence. Now, in regard to this restoration foreigners, and also those among us who have petty and narrow minds and despairing hearts, need not be alarmed; one can console them with the assurance that not one of them will live to see it, and that the age which will live to see it will think otherwise than they.

9th Address, pp 127.

See how that works? Petty, narrow-minded people with despairing hearts will be alarmed at having the state seize and physically remove their children from them for duration of their education, for the purpose of training them to restore the state to its proper independence. Such people – us! – are to be consoled with the assurance that none of us will live to see the state restored to its glory. We may miss our children, but we won’t have to endure the glorious future.

A little later, Fichte endorses the methods of his older contemporary Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi as key to his new national education. Problem is, Pestalozzi endorsed mothers as the key to education, assuming much valuable learning would be done in the home under their care. He even wrote the Mother’s Book, because, of course, mothers needed to be told how to do it right.

Fichte will have none of it:

His book for mothers contains the foundation of his development of all knowledge; for, among other things, he relies very much on home education. First of all, so far as this home education itself is concerned, we have certainly no desire to quarrel with him over the hopes that he forms of mothers. But, so far as our higher conception of a national education is concerned, we are firmly convinced that, especially among the working classes, it cannot be either begun, continued, or ended in the parents’ house, nor, indeed, without the complete separation of the children from them…. Not until a generation has passed through the new education can the question be considered, as to what part of the national education shall be entrusted to the home.

ibid, pp 138

A key part of Fichte’s love for Pestalozzi resides in the later’s emphasis on the child’s need for constant supervision and management, that education must be under the control of masters or terrible things will happen. Fichte wants to make sure the state is the one training and paying the right kind of masters.

Napoleon at Jena. The bad guys in Fichte’s world.

Fichte tosses out the family from any roll in educating their own children. What about that other great educational force, the church? In America, prior to Mann & Co., Americans believed that the education of children belong solely in the hands of families and their churches. By the end of the 18th century, the population in America was near 100% literate, as home, churches, and private schools educated almost everyone, apart from slaves who were purposely kept uneducated. As Orestes Brownson commented, in America, having the state educate our kids is making our servant into our master. It was a century-long battle to get Americans to accept the goodness and necessity of state-controlled schools.

The Prussian army. Also, after a fashion, the bad guys, as they lost to the French!

In Address 11: On whom will the Carrying-out of this Scheme of Education devolve? (answer: the State), Fichte recaps history, where, according to him, the state stayed out of education for pathetic reasons.

In modern Europe education actually originated, not with the State, but with that power from which States, too, for the most part obtained their power—from the heavenly spiritual kingdom of the Church. The Church considered itself not so much a part of the earthly community as a colony from heaven quite foreign to the earthly community and sent out to enrol citizens for that foreign State, wherever it could take root. [note: ‘foreign’ is about as strong a put-down as Fichte uses, the opposite of German, his highest praise.] Its education aimed at nothing else but that men should not be damned in the other world but saved. The Reformation merely united this ecclesiastical power, which otherwise continued to regard itself as before, to the temporal power, with which formerly it had very often been actually in conflict. [note: Luther sought to have the state seize monasteries and turn them into state schools; much of his correspondence was with secular leaders urging them to pursue various programs. Eventually, we reached the point today where German churches are state-supported institutions.] In that connection, this was the only difference that resulted from that event; there also remained, therefore, the old view of educational matters. … The sole public education, that of the people, however, was simply education for salvation in heaven; the essential feature was a little Christianity and reading, with writing if it could be managed—all for the sake of Christianity. All other development of man was left to the blind and casual influence of the society in which they grew up, and to actual life. Even the institutions for scholarly education were intended mainly for the training of ecclesiastics. Theology was the important faculty; the others were merely supplementary to it, and usually received only its leavings.

Address 11, pp 164

Finally, is there any role for the Church? (He’s talking Lutheran, or at least. Protestant, churches here. That the Catholic Church might have a role was of course beyond consideration.) Not really:

Now, if for the future, and from this very hour, we are to be able to hope better things in this matter from the State, it will have to exchange what seems to have been up to the present its fundamental conception of the aim of education for an entirely different one. It must see that it was quite right before to refuse to be anxious about the eternal salvation of its citizens, because no special training is required for such salvation, and that a nursery for heaven, like the Church, whose power has at last been handed over to the State, should not be permitted, for it only obstructs all good education, and must be dispensed with. On the other hand, the State must see that education for life on earth is very greatly needed; from such a thorough education, training for heaven follows as an easy supplement. The more enlightened the State thought it was before, the more firmly it seems to have believed that it could attain its true aim merely by means of coercive institutions, and without any religion and morality in its citizens, who might do as they liked in regard to such matters. May it have learnt this at least from recent experiences—that it cannot do so, and that it has got into its present condition just because of the want of religion and morality!

ibid, pp 166

There’s a lot going on in this paragraph:

  • Fichte asserts that the Church has at last surrendered its power to the State, and that this is a good thing;
  • The state has an entirely different aim for education than the Church
  • The state should not ‘permit’ the Church, which should be ‘dispensed with’
  • The state is concerned with education for life on earth. Earlier, Fichte described how this whole afterlife business interferes with men doing what men – German men, of course – need to do to bring about heaven on earth, that we obtain immortality through making the nation stronger and better, and need to embrace the goals of the nation (German, of course) and focus on that
  • The state has previously ignored religion and morality in education, but now must take it up. Earlier, he argues that state education IS simply education in religion and morality, that reading and academics can and should be delayed until the end of the educational period, if indulged in at all. The important thing is to teach children to love the fatherland and do what they are told by their masters.
  • “Recent experiences” include having their armies crushed and lands overrun by the loathsome French, who, even as Fichte was delivering these talks, were sitting in the seats of power just blocks away.

Upon a second reading, there is a ton more to Fichte than I initially picked up. He is the prophet for the Messianic State, a true believer in the German people’s natural superiority and leadership, and sees the Spirit unfolding in history as being the ultimate reality. He solves the noumena/phenomena issues by simply declaring our subjective experience of the world IS the world. Thus, he wants education to focus on developing in children the ability to construct in their minds conceptions independent of any reference to the outside world. These images would include first an idealized Fatherland, to which all love ad devotion would be directed.

Fichte was that kind of personality who is either your staunchest friend or worst enemy, a sort of super-high functioning Borderline Personality case. He was certainly heroic in certain respects, such as nursing his wife back to health, despite the risk he would catch her disease (he did – it killed him), and on the other hand get himself fired for being a self-righteous jerk.

More as time allows.

Panic Porn

(From an email I sent to a local Catholic homeschooling group:)

Be not afraid – a constant refrain in Scripture. Yet, here we are, terrified of what by any objective standards is a minor disease, willing to listen to any bad news that comes our way, and unwilling to hear the growing mountain of real evidence that has been accumulating from the very beginning of this panic. If you find yourself hanging on every word you see on the ‘news’ that fans your feelings of terror, perhaps you’re addicted to Panic Porn.

When we watch or read the ‘news’ about COVID 19, when we spread the tragic stories the ‘news’ focuses on, and then ignore the publicly known facts that tell us this panic is wildly overblown, what we are doing is indulging in Panic Porn.

Panic Porn works the same as that other pornography: it seeks to short-circuit our thinking and get directly to our emotions, to generate a gland-level response. In other words, it is irrational and addictive – after a while, it becomes a habit to watch the ‘news’ simply to get that adrenaline rush we human animals experience when we get terrified. Then, it becomes a vicious cycle: we can’t even hear the good news or anything that counteracts the fear, but instead listen only for what terrifies us, that gets us that next adrenaline rush. 

You think I’m exaggerating? We all know people who are *terrified* of COVID 19, and who can’t even hear the facts that might calm them. Maybe we ourselves are. We have a friend, right now, who may be dying in the hospital, who is on dialysis, because she was *terrified* to go to the hospital for the routine care she needed – her health and life really are threatened by her previously-controlled but now out of control diabetes, because the (microscopically small) possibility she might catch COVID 19 lead her to delay and stall until, now, she’s really in trouble. And there are more where she came from, not to mention the very real health threat of endless anxiety, continually having your body flooded with fight-or-flight chemicals. Strokes, heart attacks, depression, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, turning to drugs and alcohol – these are real. Once we can take an objective look at the actual numbers, we realize the panic is much worse than COVID 19. 

We, as Catholics, have got to stop feeding this panic. Remember, this group is formed of people who distrust our schools, who, after looking at the conventional wisdom and bucking the disapproval of family and friends, decided to do what’s right and take the education of our children into our own hands. Right? And yet now, we hang on every scary word the media tells us about COVID 19- the same media that would criminalize homeschooling if they could, that defames the Church at every turn, and which, as we all know from personal experience, has no qualms about lying to get what they want. Stop listening to people who hate you!!!

Once we STOP indulging in the ‘news’, once we break the Panic Porn addiction, we are ready to hear the reality of this virus. BUT – while we are in panic mode, we can’t even hear what’s really going on here. Note that I’m not at this point interested in political interpretations of WHY this is being done – that’s a later step, after we get a grip on what is really happening.

So, what is really happening? Note: I won’t watch or listen to the Panic Porn, I go read the stuff on the CDC, WHO, John Hopkins and Worldometers websites to get my numbers and information. This stuff is no secret, it’s just that the ‘news’ is not interested in it. Plus, I’m a numbers guy, scientifically literate, and use and built models for a living. Others with my background observe the same things: 

  1. Compared to how many people live in America, very few people are dying of COVID 19. 100,000, which, based on the reported numbers and trends, looks like the likely peak, sounds like a lot, but that’s a small number compared to the almost 3,000,000 Americans who die every year, year in, year out, and the 330 million people who live here. For comparison, around 75,000 Americans died of the flu in 2017-2018. There have been a number of flu years with over 100,000 deaths in America. COVID 19 is not the Black Death. 
  2. With very few exceptions, COVID 19 kills only the very sick. In the Western world, about 60% are nursing home patients, who are – let’s be honest – in those homes waiting to die. Even in nursing homes, COVID 19 kills generally only the very sick. 
  3. Only about 5% of the people who die weren’t already sick – that would be about 4,000 Americas so far, or about the same number who drown each year. BUT: the Panic Porn will make sure we hear about this small (compared to 330M Americans!) number of people. 
  4. Therefore, a healthy person has a tiny, tiny chance of dying of COVID 19. As in, you are much more likely to die driving to work than from this virus. So, common sense – don’t visit frail or sick people if you are sick. Otherwise, wash your hands like your mom told you. And don’t panic. 
  5. Coronaviruses are very, very common, and very fragile. Many common cold viruses are coronaviruses, for example. All it takes is a little sunshine to kill them.  SARS, the last coronavirus outbreak that anybody noticed back in 2002, promptly died out once the weather got nice. This is typical, and also why nobody had even heard of coronaviruses before this year. It is simply panic mongering to pretend COVID 19 is very different and worse than any run of the mill virus.
  6. ‘Novel’ viruses, including novel coronaviruses, are everywhere all the time. All viruses mutate – take novel forms – all the time. There’s nothing about COVID 19 being ‘novel’ that makes it any more worrisome than any other ‘novel’ virus. 
  7. Once spring rolls around, this virus will die out – UNLESS we crowd people together indoors out of the sunlight! If we continue to do that, we very well might get a recurrence in the fall. The virus started dying off in Italy and Spain once spring weather arrived. The cases and deaths started dropping in mid-April. NYC and the Northeast had a very late spring this year, but now deaths are dropping there as well. This is not some magic worked by lockdowns, this is what any scientifically literate person would expect based on history. 

These are just the top items anyone could figure out with a little math and some basic science background. There are many more reasons to reject the Panic Porn, but these are the easiest to grasp.

The ‘news’ is not our friend. They hate the Church, and they hate us. Stop listening to them! Don’t give in to the Panic Porn!!