Update/Links/Thoughts

A. Life is a bowl of cherries. Really:

Three-in-one cherry tree, from the front yard orchard. Yes, the could be riper, but the birds are eating them as soon as they get really red. Plus, while the Bings should be almost black, the other two varieties don’t get much redder than those above. And they taste good.

A young lady we’ve known for years came by every day to feed the cat and water the gardens. She did a good job. While we were gone, the cherries hit their stride. It’s only one tree, so we’ll only get a few bowls worth per season – but fun. Next up: apricots and peaches, probably end of the month.

B. Back from the Epic Wedding Trip. 7 days, 6 nights, 4 states not counting airports and home. Some pics:

The restored and Catholicized chapel. Our son’s wedding mass is the first to have taken place in this lovely building.
The sanctuary. Much of the renovation had to do with creating a proper sanctuary, where Catholic altar and tabernacle replace Protestant pulpit and organ. The Latin is a from the life of St. Thomas Aquinas, who set his works before the tabernacle and offered them to Christ crucified. The image of Christ on the cross said: “You have written well of Me, Thomas. What would you desire as a reward?” “Only You, Lord,” Thomas responded.
This is the student center at Thomas Aquinas College New England. I don’t know that the picture captures this vibe, but I just wanted to grab a book, find a corner, and read as soon as I walked in. Cozy and scholarly at the same time.

C. In New Hampshire, the spell of the magic mask talisman has been suspended – one can go about bare-faced and walk up to people, and the gods, we have been assured, will not be offended; cross the state line into Massachusetts or Vermont, however, and the wrath of the gods will descend upon any who dare sally forth with undiapered visage.

For now. Our betters are pumping the brakes, mixing it up, because, as any animal trainer will tell you, being predictable with your rewards does not get as eager a compliance as keeping the animal guessing. To add to the hilarity: when the New Hampshire folks decided to remove restrictions, they didn’t just announce: “OK, nobody’s dying of the Coof anymore, so go ahead and take off your masks and feel free to walk up to people and shake hands.” Nope, that would be too easy. Instead, it was *scheduled* for Monday, May 31. As in:

Owner Balancing Treat On Dog's Head Causing Untold ...

D. Speaking of terrified, scientifically illiterate rabbits doing as they’re told, I’ve got a massive post to drop in the next day or two about analyzing risk. Sometimes, I think I’ve been uniquely prepared for the COVID hysteria:

  • worked in the actuarial department of a major life insurance company, picked up some basic knowledge of how risk is measured;
  • worked as an underwriter and and underwriting analyst for a few years, so I know how the pros apply those risk models;
  • used and helped design mathematical models for 25 years, and taught people how to use and understand them (I can literally say: I wrote the book (well, a fat pamphlet) on a couple fancy models used by thousands of people to do fancy financing).
  • analyzed and cleaned up data for these models so that it was useful. Unless you’ve had to do this sort of clean up on real-world data, you simply have no idea how much sheer judgement goes into what gets measured and how. E.g., financial reporting systems are about as well defined, well-tested, and well funded as any data systems anywhere. Every company has one or more, with trained professionals inputting data, and have been doing this for decades. Yet, a data dump of the raw inputs is chaotic, unclear, and confusing. The question I had: what cash flows took place when? Surprisingly hard to answer! Correcting entries are ubiquitous, and often raise their own questions. And so on.
  • read a bunch of medical studies. When our kids were babies, I, like every other new parent in America at the time, was constantly ordered and shamed to not let the baby sleep in our bed with us. But I knew that this practice, called a family bed, was common everywhere else in the world. So I searched around, found the studies, and read them. Insane. Bad methodology, dubious data, poor analysis, no criticisms and answers (meaning: a study should address the obvious criticisms and answer them – it’s called science.) Just out and out junk. Yet – and here’s the real eye opener – a protocol had been developed from these two junk studies, and every freaking pediatrician in America was pushing the no family bed nonsense. It’s Science! It’s the medical consensus! Also read a few studies on salt and blood pressure, and was likewise unimpressed. Then noted how nobody did studies on drug interactions until it was clear such interactions were killing people – who’s going to pay for such endless studies? I reached the conclusion, since backed up by all the failed attempts at replication, that medical studies are mostly – useless? Wildly overconfident? Wildly over cautious? Not to be taken at face value?

With that background, and an amateur’s love of the scientific method, I was not buying the claims of pandemic, the outputs of models, the cleanliness of the data, and the ‘logic’ for panic and lockdowns. Looking into it, it was puke-level idiocy. And yet, here we are.

E. Briggs captures a good bit of what I’m trying to say in my upcoming post on risk analysis in this week’s COVID post:

Many people sent me this Lancet note about the difference between relative and absolute risk reduction. I’ve warned us many times to use absolute numbers (in any situation, not just this), because relative numbers always exaggerate (unless one is keenly aware of the absolutes).

Here’s an example. Suppose the conditional (on certain accepted evidence) risk of getting a dread disease is 0.001, or 0.1%. A drug or vexxine is developed and it is discovered (in update evidence) the risk of getting the disease is now 0.0001, or 0.01%.

The absolute risk reduction (ARR; conditional on the given evidence) is 0.001 – 0.0001 = 0.0009, or 0.09%.

The relative risk is a ratio of the two risks, and the risk reduction ratio is 1 minus this, or 1 – 0.0001/0.001 = 0.9, or 90%.

That relative 90% reduction (RRR) sounds much more marketable than the actual 0.09% reduction; indeed, it sounds 1,000 times better!

Here from the the Lancet piece are some numbers using published results, recalling, as the authors do, that everything is conditional on the evidence, which is always changing.

VaccineRRRARR
Pfizer95%0.84%
Moderna94%1.2%
Gamaleya91%0.93%
Johnson & Johnson67%1.2%
AstraZeneca67%1.3%

For instance, the CDC says only 300 kids 0-17 died with or of coronadoom (a terrific argument kids don’t need to be vexxed). Population of this age group is about 65 million. We don’t know how many infected or exposed or this group, but you can see that differences between vaccinated and unvaccinated kids would be very small.

Read the whole thing. I only dare write anything on something the esteemable Briggs has already written on because even this level of math is off-putting to some people. I focus on the narrative part – why is it that huge reductions in risk might be meaningless, when the underlying risk is originally very small, as in the COVID risk to kids 17 and under. When pestered by a friend about why I’m not getting the vaccine, I replied: I will not take experimental drugs to lower my risk of death from COVID from something like 0.01% to 0.005%. She immediately changed to the ‘protect others’ tack, so I let it drop.

Alas! If information mattered, we wouldn’t be in the state we’re in.

F. And then there’s this. And this. I tend to go data=>analysis=>political speculation, or perhaps claims=>evidence=>reasons/explanations=>politics. Therefore, I have only really lightly touched on the politics/corruption/coup aspects of the Coronadoom – because I foolishly keep expecting people to care about the truth of the claims first. Yet ‘truth of the claims’ is nowhere to be found in the thought processes of the many, who instead substitute ‘whatever belief maintains my good standing in my group.’ Most people seem to go my social group’s position=>politics. Don’t ask why you need to raise your hand and get permission to go to the bathroom – JUST DO IT, DAMMIT! That sort of training, where group position is paramount and approval is always contingent on mindless obedience, is a large part of what got us to this point.

Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

13 thoughts on “Update/Links/Thoughts”

  1. Favorite magnet in our house:
    https://www.cedarwrites.com/shop/magnet/life-is-a-bowl-of-cherries-magnet/

    so I grinned.

    The church looks a lot like a BIG version of our (small town Iowa, packed every week) parish– wonderful.

    And it’s probably because my mind instantly fills it with people, but the picture catches the “vibe” well for me. It’s a rec area made with the idea of actually being used, not looking busy. (I hate having to dodge around folks’ rumps in a “relaxing” area.)

    1. Nice magnet!

      My wife’s newest saying, after wandering around the Thomas Aquinas College New England campus for a week: the Church needs to get more stuff built by rich Protestants a hundred years ago as the various denominations die off, because back when they had style and built to last.

      1. Well, you won’t be horrified by the property taxes or the utility bills (folks from some states will be), the biggest adjustment is that folks’ response to our six kids is “Oh– (we/my sister/my parents) had (five to nine)!” rather than at best “my, I don’t know how you handle it, I was overwhelmed with two.”

        There’s not a lot of virtue signaling, too. A little, but compared to “every coffee shop has a Mandatory Political Statement” it’s wonderful.

        I do highly suggest it, I think it’s my favorite state thus far.
        (I am familiar with California, Oregon, Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Florida and Mississippi.)

      2. We will soon start a novena, probably to St. Joseph, asking for guidance: should we stay in CA, which I love and has been home for all my life, or should we get out now, while the getting in good, and move someplace more rural, less expensive, and less radically azure? I’m also thinking of it as a fall back for my kids, who are quickly getting married off and all of whom love kids in any quantity. An ‘if things get rough, here’s where you go’ plan.

        I can totally understand resentment of somebody who waltzes into town and pays cash for a bunch of property, because he sold his suburban CA house on 1/6th of an acre.

      3. Des Moines Airport is freaking AWESOME for 1) getting into, 2) flying out of.

        Easy to use, and lots of flight options.

        Better, there is a minor cult of politics here– not “red,” or “blue,” but “politics matters.” The idea that you need to play by the rules, it MATTERS.

        The liberal guy on Election Night for WHO (talk radio, you can listen in to get an idea) was the one who was having borderline rage over the stupid polling tricks they were doing to buff the Dem turnout, like telling people the polls were closed *they had to leave the line* in red areas, and the polls are closed *but you can get in line* in blue.

        Plus the stuff is just stupid fertile, here. It breaks my mind, since I changed sprinklers in NorCal as a pre-teen and they have huge fields of corn here *with no water systems at all*.

      4. Well, when you wrote, “Alas! If information mattered, we wouldn’t be in the state we’re in.” that’s what I started to wonder about you.

        Well, you could move to Michigan. We have water. And it wouldn’t take as many capable-of-sustained-rational-thought folks to shove politics in a rational direction. It even happens from time to time. Unlike, say, where you live now.

      5. Seriously considering moving. Michigan seems awful azure from way over here in CA, although the area around Grand Rapids sure is pretty. I imagine reality has a little more of a toehold after one gets out of the cities?

        Not sure why, but this story about the Mongols springs to mind: a well-fortified city refused to acknowledge their lordship. The horde road to the walls, gathering as many of the surrounding peasant farmers as they could, driving them before them. They filled the trenches with peasants, and drove their siege works over their bodies to the walls, as the citizens watched in horror. While it sucked to be one of the people inside the city, it sucked more to be one of the herded peasants.

        Our modern barbarians would probably think that this was a cool idea, since I and mine are subhuman to them.

  2. That is a very beautiful church setting. I’m sure it was a lovely wedding with a beautiful bride, handsome groom, and great looking bridal party! Congratulations again!

  3. It’s a truly beautiful church. But I am sorry you lost the organ. Calling God’s good gifts protestant or Catholic or Jewish or whotnot is just foolishness. If its good, or beautiful, or true, it is His.

    (Also, of course, *I* think organs are Lutheran, and we have the best music 😋)

    1. Ha! If you got Bach on the keys, God is truly present! Only a fool would disagree.

      While everyone admired the old building interior, and preserved it as much as possible, certain changes – moving the organ to make room for the crucifix, tabernacle, and altar, putting in a center aisle for processions (we Catholics are big on processions) – were needed to make it usable for Catholic services. A Catholic is likely to be disoriented in a Catholic church without the ‘I preach Christ, and Him crucified’ crucifix smack dab center, and a tabernacle and an altar beneath it.

      They put an organ in the choir loft where it belongs… 😉 Don’t know if it was the original that had been in the sanctuary, or if they needed to get a smaller one.

      Anyway, yes, everyone loved the chapel as it was, a masterpiece of late 19th century building. Now, instead of sitting empty and slowly rotting, there are people inside it praying every day. I gotta think God is cool with that outcome.

  4. My family who live in Wisconsin love it there. My son-in-law works for the bishop of Madison, who is quite good (both the bishop, and the son-in-law), and they attend a lovely EF parish. Went to a granddaughter’s first communion on the Feast of Corpus Christi with a Solemn High Mass with a priest and deacons who know what they’re doing, and of course a thurifer (a grandson) who is the best! Haven’t heard the gospel chanted in Latin since watching Pope St. John Paul II’s installation Mass on TV.

    They don’t live in Madison, but in a sane (not Dane) county to the west. Eight years ago, the city council turned down the then-mayor’s suggestion to adopt as their official motto a remark by an earlier gubernatorial candidate: 77 square miles surrounded by reality.

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