Logic and Just So Stories

The current panic is being fanned with a combination of logic fails and just so stories. Given two or more possible explanations, the most obvious and Occam’s Razor compliant one is dismissed or ignored in favor of another whose only real recommendation is that it keeps the panic going. The number of Just So stories, evidence-free speculations that then become enshrined unchallengeable TRVTH any questioning of which is ‘misinformation’ and brands anyone who talks about it officially as a ‘terrorist,’ grows daily.

Let’s hit a few low points:

  1. Near-Zero Flu cases since March, 2020.

Obvious Occam’s Razor Compliant explanation: Flu infections are being either misdiagnosed as COVID cases, or the patient has both COVID and the flu, and the flu is never tested for. Logic: since in almost all cases, symptomatic COVID has identical symptoms to the common flu – aches, fever, congestion, headache – someone presenting with those symptoms is very likely to get diagnosed with the Coof. In the current panicked circus atmosphere, a doctor is not likely to start with a flu test, and is unlikely to follow up a COVID diagnosis with a flu test. The unique COVID symptoms – sudden acute respiratory distress and loss of taste and smell – seem to appear in only a fairly small percentage of cases.

The Just So Story: Steps taken to stop COVID – masks, lockups, social distancing – are nearly 100% effective against the flu, even if demonstrably ineffective against COVID, such that the flu has been eliminated while COVID still ‘rages’. Logic: somehow, masks, lockups, etc., are very effective against one of two airborne respiratory viruses of exactly the same size and with exactly the same vectors, but utterly ineffective against the other. Further, the unmasked scofflaws have been spared the flu despite being assumed to be a reservoir from which the Coof has continued to spread.

Note: the CDC recently issued guidelines recommending that patients be tested for the flu even if they test positive for COVID, recognizing that a positive COVID test result doesn’t mean the observed symptoms are caused by COVID, which very often has no symptoms at all. It is logical to conclude that the CDC recommendation means flu testing werrte not being done – otherwise, why recommend it?

2. We’ve Been Masking Up for Over a Year, yet the ‘Pandemic’ is Still ‘Raging’

Obvious Occam’s Razor Compliant explanation: Since we’ve been masking up for over a year now, and yet the ‘pandemic’ is still with us, the simplest conclusion to draw is: masks are ineffective against COVID. Logic: All the pre-COVID studies, from 1918 until 2020, that showed that masks are not effective against airborne reparatory viruses, and current experiences, are most simply and logically explained by accepting the findings of these earlier studies. Masks are pointless, from a public health perspective. Fauci was telling the truth when he said people should not mask up.

The Just So Story: Sure, masks didn’t and don’t stop the virus, but things would have been so much worse had we all not masked up! Logic: There is precisely as much direct evidence for this Just So story – zero – as there is for the opposite theory: that not masking up would have made thing no worse and possibly better. Since masking has a cost – there is no free lunch – and is an imposition on people minding their own business, it is incumbent upon those making the claim and imposition to produce convincing evidence that masks work – and there is none. (No, the mere existence of ’70 studies’ doesn’t count as evidence, especially when contradicted by scores of studies done before 2020. Evidence would be a marked reduction in deaths, say, where masks are used, measured in a scientifically valid manner.) The tendency of frightened people to readily accept that which increases their fear and reject that which mitigates it is sufficient explanation for the near-religious belief that masks help against a virus that nonetheless continues to spread despite widespread masking.

Note: Reality rarely conforms to what is discovered in lab studies and predicted by nice theories. We require masks, the story goes, because COVID virions are deadly! If masks work, they are trapping those deadly COVID virions. These virions are then rubbed up against your face wherever the mask touches you, and get all over your hands every time you handle the mask, and get all over whatever surfaces they come in contact with. Therefore, if we believe that masks ‘work’ and are therefore full of deadly COVID virions, the protocol would be: scrub down and glove up before putting on, taking off, or touching the mask; scrub your face and anywhere else the mask touched, dispose of any used masks as the hazardous material they are by definition, and never, ever stuff one in your pocket, throw one in the trash, or toss one in the car. Also, masks should be changed every hour or so, hands gloved, scrubbed up, while touching nothing, then scrub up again afterwards, and put everything that came in contact with the mask – gloves, cleaning materials – in hazardous disposal. No one does this because no one truly believes masks work, that COVID is dangerous, or both. They believe it is important to conform.

3. We Must Get Vaccinated AND Keep Locked Up and Masked Up

Obvious Occam’s Razor Compliant explanation: If any of these measures, singly or in any combination, worked as any sane person understands ‘working’, the ‘pandemic’ would have ended long ago. A ‘vaccine’ that doesn’t keep you from getting sick and doesn’t keep you from spreading the virus simply doesn’t work. Therefore, the vaccine – and the lockups and masks – simply don’t work if the ‘pandemic’ is still ‘raging.’ Logic: If we are to introduce the concept of risk reduction, then we must consider ALL risks, not just risks specific to COVID. When we do that, we discover that vaccines, even if they are considered completely safe and completely effective, reduce overall risk for people under 50 by all but immeasurable tiny amounts. For children, it is utterly ridiculous – kids under 18 are at microscopic risk from COVID (about 400 total attributed deaths over 18 months on a population of 65 million kids. And those attributions are highly questionable) that any risk whatsoever from the vaccine – and no drug is ‘completely safe’, aspirin has killed people – is unacceptable. Hey, teacher – leaves those kids alone! If old people want the vaccine, sure, feel free. Making people take the jab if they don’t want to is outrageous, given the tiny reduction in overall risk.

The Just So Story: If everybody gets vaccinated, we reduce the overall risk from COVID by a significant amount. Sure, vaccinated individuals will still get get sick and even die, and still spread the disease, but by reducing the frequency and severity of infections, we improve the overall situation. Refusing to get vaccinated isn’t just putting yourself at risk, but putting the entire population at risk. Anyone who refuses to get vaccinated is a threat to this overall strategy, and must be ostracized, kept out of restaurants and bars, and will be labeled a ‘terrorist’ so as to be designated for further steps as needed, up to an including incarceration in a quarantine camp. Individual rights mean nothing in the face of the existential threat of COVID. Note here the casual totalitarianism of these claims – one is labeled a terrorist if one questions any part of this imminently questionable Just So Story. Yet – NONE of the underlying assertions is supported by EVIDENCE. Is asymptomatic transfer a serious problem? There is no evidence it is, and plenty of evidence it isn’t. Meaning: if I’m not sick, I pose no material risk to anyone else, even if I’m a ‘case’ of COVID. Therefore, if I simply stay away from people when I’m sick, I provide as much protection to everyone else as if I were vaccinated, even assuming in the face of all evidence, that the vaccines are both effective and harmless. (To be clear: what the evidence so far suggests is: these experimental drugs are somewhat effective for some limited time, and are mostly safe, for most people, at least over the short haul. They’re hardly a silver bullet.)

Note: The underlying ‘problem’ here for the pro-mandatory-vax crowd is the lack of dead bodies. Seriously, if people were in fact dropping like flies, such that everybody knew multiple otherwise healthy people who had died of COVID, then you’d have very little trouble selling people on all kinds of steps to prevent it. But they’re not. I am one of millions of people who personally know NOT A SINLGE person who has died of COVID. I know 1 person – an 87 year old friend from church – who was hospitalized, and she recovered in a couple days. The fact is, almost nobody knows any otherwise healthy people who have thus died. if they know anyone, it’s almost certainly someone who was elderly, sickly, or, most commonly, both. I have friends who have hardly stepped out of their home for 18 months because 3 elderly, sickly relatives of theirs, who could have dropped dead at any moment without surprising anyone, COVID or not, had deaths, as the CDC puts it, ‘involving’ COVID. These poor souls are incapable of admitting the obvious: COVID, if it did anything at all, merely accelerated the deaths of their relatives, and not by much. They weren’t living another decade no matter what, and most likely not another year. Harsh, but true. By now, for me personally, dozens of friends, family members, and acquaintances have had COVID. Every single one has completely recovered. Given that just under 1 out of 100 Americans dies every year, this is actually a little surprising. But there it is.

BUT – everyone has also been subjected to endless news stories about tragic deaths. There are always going to be tragic deaths. The only real question is: are there more tragic deaths than usual? The answer, looking at the numbers, is no, there are not. It’s called ‘life’ and life isn’t fair or kind.

Smorgas-bored

Got all these posts to write, from serious – more analysis of the current panic – to fun – review of Galactic Patrol the latest book I’ve read off John C. Wright’s essential scifi list. But that gets to be work, sometimes. So, instead, let’s fire up the flotsam randomizer, and see what floats by:

A. If anyone says ‘the world has too many people’ anywhere other than on their own suicide note, such a one is a murderous bigot.

B. Space Alien Footstep? Look at this:

The dappled lighting made this hard to see, so I put a red border around it.

This (hard to see in the picture, not hard in real life) is a near-perfect rectangle of dead grass in the backyard. It appeared a week or so ago. It’s about the size and shape of a cooler, maybe slightly bigger.

So – what? I can’t remember puttying anything on the lawn, let alone anything that would kill the grass. Nobody else here can, either. The unnaturally exact rectangular-ness makes natural explanations seem far-fetched….

Weird.

C. This deserves at least a dedicated post – Edward Feser’s latest, Ioannidis on the politicization of science, which begins with a link to a 2005 Ioannidis paper, Why Most Published Research Findings Are False Regular readers here know I’m saying ‘duh’ right about now. It seems that Ioannidis’ paper was well-received, back in 2005, in the sense that many scientists acknowledged its obvious truth. I trust you see what’s coming next: Ioannidis recently published another paper, applying his logic from the 2005 paper to COVID studies. As Feser says: ” In a new essay at The Tablet, Ioannidis reflects on the damage that has been done to the norms of scientific research as politics has corrupted it during the pandemic.”

These observations were not as well received.

I started a long response to Dr. Feser, which I may still complete, simply noting the observation that was the genesis of this blog – that, for the most part, one does not need to be a scientist to spot the errors in most papers, that logic, a basic knowledge of the history of science, and, most important, a fairly basic understanding of how science really works – what science can and cannot do – is sufficient to judge most claims made in the name of science. It’s not like it takes genius or a PhD to note, for example, that ‘cases’ are a moving target over time and space, with definitions and data gathering protocols being wildly inconsistent, such that any comparisons of one time with another, or one place or another, needs A LOT of ‘splaining – just assuming a change in the reported numbers reflects increases of infection purely is irresponsible, to say the least.

(Aside: you can separate out the posers at this point – they are the people who will say I’m nit-picking here. To such people, all technical criticism of methodology will appear as nit-picking, yet any knowledge of science history will show that such ‘nit-picking’ is how science works, when it does work.)

Good stuff.

D. Just one thing about E. E. Smith’s Galactic Patrol prior to the full write-up: you can spot a dozen Star Trek episodes and most of Star Wars right there, in a book written in the 1930s. Jedis, way cool mind powers, Hero’s Journey, evil empire, fight to the death. It might be faster to list what’s missing: Dark Father doesn’t get redeemed or even exist; the love interest is not the hero’s sister, and Chewbacca is played by a dragon and Yoda by a disembodied brain. With way-cool Jedi mind powers. Stay tuned.

Yesterday’s Homily

The soul of humility is obedience. Without the willingness to set aside our own wishes in obedience to proper authority, claims of humility are empty. That’s why St. Thomas, in his prayer after communion, includes “Let this Holy Communion strengthen us in love and patience, humility and obedience, and all the virtues.” Love is first – without love, no other virtue lives. Love endures in patience. But the very next virtues listed are humility and obedience – humility, the virtue corresponding to the fear of the Lord, and obedience, by which this humility is made real.

Yesterday’s homily was not about any of this. Instead, we were treated to the spectacle of a man inexplicably proud of his intellect – of which, in the years I’ve known him, has been on display with enlightening infrequency – telling us that love of self, neighbor, and God demands we do exactly what the latest COVID panic mongers demand, that failing to get vaccinated and wear masks means – he was specific – that we, the guilty, love not God, our neighbor, nor ourselves. He didn’t explicitly add: and are going straight to hell, but the implication was strong.

Further, he used the example of poor Cardinal Burke as the sort of “moron” who doesn’t mask or get vaccinated and thus, by ending up in the hospital (he has since recovered, thank God) with COVID, proves the truth of his position. The blessed cardinal is a man who is a) elderly, b) extremely busy and probably exhausted, c) probably interacts with thousands of people in a typical week, and d) is under insane levels of pressure and spiritual attack. And he recovered, like 99.9%+ of people who aren’t actively dying.

So imagine me and mine, who along with dozens of other people, are sitting OUTDOORS IN THE SUNLIGHT at mass, unmasked, hearing this dim bulb call a saintly man, who incidentally is vastly and demonstrably his intellectual superior, a “moron” for failing to do as he is told by such genius humanitarians as Fauci, Brix, and Ferguson. My wife tried to talk with him after mass, with the predictable dismissive results. (I was loading up the car w/ grandma at the time, and hadn’t even noticed she’d gone until she was almost through. I’m also a coward with a temper – bad combination for rational discourse when I’m pissed off.)

The totalitarianism of postmodernism has found ready adherents in the well-schooled. This Dominican (!) teaches at the local ‘catholic’ boy’s high school – ‘catholic’ in quotes, as they are of course too inclusive as to take a stand on anything as icky as Catholic dogmas. (Their sister school, the girl’s school next door, prays “In the name of the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sanctifier” because that Father-Son stuff can offend some poor snowflakes, and they want to be inclusive. While this girls school did allow for a Pro-Life club, they likewise allowed – on campus – an organized protest *against* the Pro-Life club. Very Catholic and inclusive.) I’ve had occasion to get to know the products of these schools – fine young cannibals, all. Any attempt at discussion of the faith is met with utter ignorance and indifference. Very well schooled rabbits.

Yet this priest’s high self opinion, expressed in meandering stories of his adventures in lieu of homilies with any reference to the feast or readings, compel him to attempt to shame and anathema a group of fine people who have had it with the lies he, himself, cannot acknowledge, lest his world crumble and he dies!

And that’s what we’re up against now: the panic rabbits have built their entire identities on obedience, on doing as they are told, on getting the pat on the head, the gold star, the participation trophy. This priest, as a high school teacher, is even more integrated into this system and has his identity and sense of self-worth even more tied to conforming and getting others to conform. Doing as he is told is the highest virtue, while defying the authorities warrants heavy anathemas. That’s been his life for 40 years.

Getting back to humility and obedience: Thomas notes that true authority, the authority we must always obey, comes from doing the will of God. A king is legitimate insofar – and only insofar – as he is doing God’s will. Yet I think Thomas, while perhaps having something to say about the idea that legitimate government rests upon consent of the governed, would agree with the sentiments of the signers of the Declaration of Independence: “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.”

The philosophical errors here are certainly overshadowed by the glorious vigor of people yearning to be free.

Thomas would of course be very, very circumspect regarding when a long train of abuses becomes intolerable, because he had knowledge of what it’s like when there is no king or other legitimate authority. Better to endure, and be obedient, whenever possible. Our sterling example in this was another St. Thomas, St. Thomas More. He harbored few illusions about Henry, yet loved and obeyed him to the very end – except when such obedience would contradict the law of God.

And we should be just a circumspect, and be humble in our judgements. In my case, I have made the judgement – and may God have mercy on my soul! – that obedience to these authorities causes more harm than good, and that the authorities have long since abandoned any defensible claim of legitimacy other than mere inertia. Therefore, I will not comply, except insofar as my noncompliance would get an innocent person – a store clerk, for example -in trouble. And that’s on a case-by-case basis.

A. Merritt’s The Moon Pool – Classic SciFi Book Review

The Moon Pool is the second Abraham Merritt book I’ve read from John C. Wright’s Essential Sci Fi Library. Published in 1919, the story concerns a first-person narrator Dr. Walter T. Goodwin, a scientist/adventurer traveling about Polynesia. He runs into Throckmorton, an old friend, who is in ragged shape and whose face flashes strange signs of ecstasy mixed with profound horror. He tells Goodwin that his wife and their companions were taken by some eldritch horror while he and his team were exploring some very ancient ruins near Borneo. Classic ‘can’t get the natives to help, they all leave for 3 days around the full moon, great evil lives in those ruins! Run! Ruuuun!’ situation – but of course they don’t. They discover some ancient gateway that only opens when enough moonlight strikes it, and out from which comes the Shining Horror. On three consecutive nights, the Thing grabs a team member until only a desperate and nearly deranged Throckmorton is left.

THE MOON POOL | A. Merritt | Later edition

On board the ship Goodwin and Throckmorton are taking to Australia for supplies to help get Mrs. Throckmorton and friends back, the full moon rises over the ocean. On the first night, Throckmorton is spared by overcast skies. But eventually, the moonlight reaches the ship – and Goodwin sees sees his friend taken before his eyes!

Goodwin thinks the story is too insane to tell the crew, and has no hope of finding Throckmorton alive out in the ocean, so he keeps quiet. He gathers the equipment he needs, then gathers a set of heroes: Larry O’Keefe, the brave, dashing, handsome Irish-American aviator who happens to go down with his plane within sight of Goodwin’s ship, and Olaf, a giant Norwegian sea captain who had his wife and daughter taken by the Shining Horror and is attempting to follow them. They set out for the ruins…

Merritt has a wonderful archaic vocabulary, and loves detailed descriptions of everything. He also has an over-the-top pulp sensibility about adventures and love. Of course, there’s an evil but irresistibly beautiful priestess and a pure and valiant Handmaiden of the Silent Ones, both of whom fall madly for O’Keefe. The love triangle plays out in the most dramatic, swashbuckling way possible. Narrow escapes, betrayal, evil Russian scientist, human sacrifice, mistreated slaves, frogmen, deadly plants, poisonous jellyfish of doom – and the Shining One, a creature of unparalleled beauty – and evil!

I made the mistake of reading other people’s reviews of this book, who modern readers give 3.3 stars, on average. One even said they were repelled by the obvious racism – Merritt commits the unforgivable sins of mentioning the Chinese tend to have slanted eyes, and that Polynesians tend to be short and wide – and other such horrors. That his heroes include frogmen and some of these same Polynesians doesn’t seem to register with woke readers. Pshaw! If you get into the spirit of the thing, this book is loads of fun.

I don’t know enough to say how old or widespread or, indeed, original, the tropes found in this book are, but Merritt is the earliest stuff that I’ve read that includes many of them – anti-gravity, ancient civilizations under the earth, many different intelligent species, panspermia, the whole natives won’t go there, stupid white man thing, disintegrator rays, evil Russian scientist, spring to mind. Goodwin is always making scientific asides and footnotes to make it seem real – Merritt was as up on the ‘modern’ science of 1919 as Verne or Heinlein was on the science of their times.

Merritt had an obvious influence on Lovecraft, seems to me. While the exotic adventure story is certainly nothing unique to Merritt, I don’t recall anyone else who creates such a brooding sense of horror blended with science – until Lovecraft. Edgar Rice Burroughs definitely does the exotic setting in fine detail thing, and the over the top adventure and love story stuff, but not with the science background – at least not to the degree of Merritt. I’m sure there are a number of threads leading to and from Merritt in the world of speculative fiction – I’m not well read enough yet to point them out with any confidence.

Kindle has that wonderful lookup function, with bailed me out a number of times with Merritt’s vocabulary. I recalled ‘lambent’ and ‘ebon’ from The Metal Monster, but he had some new ones here. I like learning new words, bring ’em on!

So, 5 stars. Lots of fun. Indulge your inner Indiana Jones and just go with it, and it’s great.

Cheery Sunday Thoughts

Just kidding. Over on Rotten Chestnuts, Severian references a theory of brain washing/thought control by a Robert Lifton, a psychiatrist of whom I readily admit I’ve never heard. Some of his ideas are familiar, but I did live under the same roof with a cult deprogrammer for a couple years in my youth.

Severian’s take is well worth reading. Here, since I don’t know what I’m talking about, I whittle it down to a few observations on Lifton’s ideas as transmitted via the article linked by Rotten Chestnuts. The following quotations are from the just-linked website. Quotations in italic, my comments in plain text, any highlighting is by me.

1. Milieu Control

Control of communication within the group environment resulting in a significant degree of isolation from the surrounding society. Includes other techniques to restrict members’ contact with outside world and to be able to make critical, rational judgments about information: overwork, busy-ness, multiple lengthy meetings, etc. [First thought: school. We old guys reminisce about the hours of childhood we whiled away unsupervised. Now, kids are never trusted to be alone, and have their every moment filled with school busywork. Age-segregated classrooms = “multiple lengthy meetings” during which individual thought is strictly discouraged. Not to mention, you know, lockdowns & masks.] Lifton: “The most basic feature of the thought reform environment, the psychological current upon which all else depends, is the control of human communication. [If you can lock everybody up, restrict their ability to associate, maybe mask them so as to add a level on anonymity – that would work.] [This includes] not only the individual’s communication with the outside…, but also…his communication with himself... [Questioning the Coof or the elections is badthink. Don’t even go there! ][T]hought reform participants may be in doubt as to who is telling what to whom, but the fact that extensive information about everyone is being conveyed to the authorities is always known… [Let’s have everybody everywhere present papers to do anything outside their own homes. Let’s call out all the deniers and scofflaws.*] Having experienced the impact of what they consider to be an ultimate truth…, they consider it their duty to create an environment containing no more and no less than this ‘truth.’ [The group member] is deprived of the combination of external information and inner reflection which anyone requires to test the realities of his environment and to maintain a measure of identity separate from it…”

Severian points out that this process isn’t just about what we typically think of as cults, but that elites of whatever kind undergo the same processes. This establishing of in-group credos and rules that must be followed to identify who is and isn’t in an elite – the Kool Kids Klub, as I call it – parallels and mutually reinforces the argot and shibboleths used only by the elite. For example, talking about sex differences signals out-group membership. The in-group discusses gendered roles. Some chosen topics can only be discussed using in-group language; other topics simply cannot be discussed at all. See: the automatic preemptive dismissal of any discussion of evidence, either for the Coof or the validity elections.

8. Dispensing of Existence

The group arrogates to itself the prerogative to decide who has the right to exist and who does not. [Antifa leaders have casually stated that they will need to kill 125 million of us to bring about their Marxist utopia. Freire mentions in passing in his Pedagogy of the Oppressed (required reading in our education schools) that rights are contingent upon acceptance of his revolutionary vision, a round about way of saying his properly-educated children can kill us if it advances the revolution. Sometimes, the group’s decision of who gets to live is quite literal.] Usually held non-literally, this means that those outside the group are unspiritual, worldly, satanic, “unconscious,” or whatever, and that they must be converted to the ideas of the group or they will be lost. If they refuse to join the group, then they must be rejected by the group members, even if they are family members. In rare cases this concept gives the group the right to terminate the outsider’s life.[Not nearly as rare as one might imagine. These are the operative principles in all the ideological totalitarian regimes known to man.] Lifton: “The totalist environment always draws a sharp line between those whose right to existence can be recognized, and those who possess no such right… [O]ne underlying assumption makes this arrogance mandatory: the conviction that there is just one path to true existence, just one valid mode of being, and that all others are perforce invalid and false… For the individual, the polar emotional conflict is the ultimate existential one of ‘being versus nothingness.’ [The misalignment between reality and their belief system leads the more aware to simply embrace nihilism. The fanatic is fanatical because, without his fanaticism, he is nothing; the more cynical/realistic recognize their beliefs as being self-contradictory morasses; their murderous rage masks despair and meaninglessness.] He is likely to be drawn to a conversion experience, which he sees as the only means of attaining a path of existence for the future… The totalist environment… thus stimulates in everyone a fear of extinction or annihilation… A person can overcome this fear and find… ‘confirmation,’ not in his individual relationships, but only from the fount of all existence, the totalist Organization. Existence comes to depend upon creed (I believe, therefore I am), upon submission (I obey, therefore I am) and beyond these, upon a sense of total merger with the ideological movement. Ultimately of course one compromises and combines the totalist ‘confirmation’ with independent elements of personal identity; but one is ever made aware that, should he stray too far along this ‘erroneous path,’ his right to existence may be withdrawn.”

Interesting to think, as Severian invites us to think, of this process as characteristic of elites as well as cults. Or is elitism just another cult?

Finally, compare this analysis of elitism to Lewis’s ‘inner rings’. Is there a difference?

* Clarissa, who grew up under the Soviet Union, explains how this works. In fact, her post deserves its own post here.

Thursday Updates, Including Interaction with the Medical Community

A. Another first for me: replaced two dishwashers. No, I’m not hiring manager for a restaurant. Going on 16 years ago now, we went with two dishwashers in our remodeled kitchen – a good choice, very handy, especially with 5 kids at home at the time. But 16 years is like 90 appliance years – these things were failing in their final cause.

Old units awaiting their fate.

On Monday, I made the drive down to the former Sears Outlet in San Leandro to pick up 2 out of box display models of a couple cheapish but well-rated Whirlpool dishwashers, thus saving about $250 over the best retail prices I could find. Bonus: Worked in a side trip to a TLM in Oakland on the way back. Of course, this means I, at 63 years old, am hauling dishwashers in and out of my minivan. Fortunately, these modern units are very light.

Next up: watch a bunch of YouTube videos on how to install dishwashers. Then, spend a couple hours on my knees and back turning water off, unscrewing, unhooking, unwiring, and sliding old units out, then screwing in, hooking up, plugging in, turning water on, and shoving new units in. Only needed 1 (one) trip to Ace for parts! Ickiest part: a lot of gross stuff, including stuff mysteriously glued to the floor, had accumulated under the old dishwashers over the years. Cleaned it all up, so that, in a decade or so, when the next guy replaces the dishwashers, he’ll have a cleaner floor to look at.

Much better. Need to clean those smudges off the front. The important thing: it cleans dishes real good, and doesn’t leak!

Only difficult part: the drain hose hook up for the unit next to the main sink (the 2nd unit is connected to the rinse sink on the kitchen island) is to an air vent located way to the back behind our oversized sink. No way you can even see it; had to lie on my back and disconnect and reconnect the hoses by feel. Let us pray I did a good job – it will be a pain in the back most literally to fix it if it leaks.

Now to load the old units in the minivan and take them to the appliance disposal center, where, last time, it was about $25 a pop for them to take the junkers off my hands. My dad fu is strong. 😉

B. School starts again in a couple weeks. I will be teaching a combined History/Lit class to nine 8th and 9th graders this year. From Greece through the Middle Ages. Should be fun, especially since I will not be creating the class plans and assignments from scratch this year, and also since it’s a combined class, not two classes like last year. Maybe 3 total hours of classroom time per week.

C. Pizza! This Saturday, when it is predicted to be 100F outside, we will be holding a pizza party for the third consecutive weekend – younger daughter’s birthday, little brother’s family visit, and now kickoff for the new school year. I invited the Board, students, and their families – at least 25-30 people, could be much higher.

From the top: Margarita, some Frankenstein abomination, and the house special: smoked salmon, goat cheese, and capers on an Alfredo sauce. These were the last 3 coming out of the oven last Friday.

Should be fun. A pizza party ends up taking about 3-4 hours of prep, then 3-4 hours of standing in front of a blazing hot oven. I enjoy it, but it leaves me pretty worn out by the end.

D. Had to go see my doctor, where we eventually got around to discussing my non-vaccinated status. The discussion went nowhere. He was getting pissed by the end. I kept asking for numbers, he’d show me gross numbers, I’d try to explain what they meant, round and round. He’s convinced 600K+ people have died of the Coof; I point out that 2/3rds of that number don’t show up in the total deaths; I’d say his chance of dying if he caught it is about 1 in 50,000 (young healthy male) while he thinks it’s 1.7% – the gross number you get from the John Hopkins report, which includes all the sick, old people – of which he is not.

It was too rushed. That a doctor would confuse the risk of a population for his personal risk is not inspiring. Let’s say 50,000 Americans die of breast cancer each year (making it up) – his chance of dying of breast cancer remains zero (almost) – because he’s not a woman. I assume he understands that. But then to turn around and accept a ridiculous 1.7% fatality rate as applicable to him, when by far the major risk is to elderly, sickly people? I also asked him if 5 to 10 years of children hospitalization data was available, so that we can rationally judge if COVID has in fact measurably increased juvenile hospitalization rates. He ignored it.

Really nice guy, good doctor and all – but, like 99.9% of everybody, doesn’t understand numbers nor science. Facts do not speak for themselves – they require understanding of the factors that fed into them before they can be understood.

42.

ADDENDUM: Another family ‘tradition’: losing the can opener. Sure, we’ve had plenty of standard manual can openers over the years, but is seems we inevitably lose them until we have only one – and then lose that one, until ut turns up someplace we all swear we already looked for it. Most common use: to open cans of evaporated milk, which several of us prefer in our tea.

So, years ago, when one of our can openers broke, we fixed it. Broke again, fixed it again. Finally, the handle was unsalvageable, but the business end was still good, if unuseable. So we threw it in a drawer, because the next time I had the woodworking tools out, I would just make it another handle, and then we’d have *2* openers to lose.

That was years ago. This morning, I noticed the forlorn opener fragment, and said to myself, I did: why not now? So, I found a suitable scrap of walnut, grabbed a saw, a rasp, drills, sander, clamps, and got to work.

At first, it was going to be strictly functional – just get a handle on it that won’t give anybody splinters, through some tung oil on it, call it a day. Buuuuut…

It started looking good. Walnut is beautiful. So, by the time I had got it all fitted up, it was looking pretty cool. So, last step before oiling: glue in the metal part.

After 15 seconds of looking around, I opted for Super Glue – because, you know, there was a tube in the junk drawer. Checked the fit and alignment one more time, then shot some glue into the cavity, applied a little to the plastic sleeve, and started twisting it in…

And the glue instantly set up about halfway in, with the business end at an odd angle. The amount of force it would take to move it would have broken the wood:

Oh, well. We’ll just lose it anyway.

Portents & Omens

We’ll start with the more traditional:

Tonight, the full moon rising over Concord, CA, was large and red: (Phone camera does not do it justice.)

The state is on fire, I hear, which not only makes the moon look red, but is a portent in itself.

Next, and this is a weird one: a possum became roadkill a block up our street. Nothing out of the ordinary in that – except a full on 6′ wingspan freakin’ vulture was pecking at it this afternoon. On a residential street in the middle of California suburbia. Never seen that before.

Blood moons, infernos, vultures. All end-timey and everything.

On a more serious note: Clarissa reports that upon her return to campus, she discovered that her college library had disposed of 80% of their humanities books over the summer – without asking or informing the faculty, not even a department chair such as Clarissa. Didn’t sell them, didn’t give the faculty and students a chance to pick through them, didn’t give them away – destroyed them.

The only thing surprising about this is that it’s surprising. Think of any educational initiative over your lifetime. 10 to 1 you only heard about it either after the fact or as part of some political game. This is no accident. Back in the first half of the 19th century, Horace Mann had a heck of a time getting his program of state-controlled compulsory schools past the voters. Seems the fine people of Massachusetts were slow to see the advantages of taxing themselves in order to be forced to surrender their children to the state for education. New England was already literate and numerate – somebody was buying all those copies of the papers running the Federalist debates and making the Last of the Mohicans a best seller modern publishers could only dream of, and somebody was running all those cottage industries and farms.

Mann got lucky, in the ‘never let a crisis go to waste’ sense, and used the scary influx of poor, dirty, uneducated, and Catholic Irish immigrants to get his program through – while the natives themselves didn’t see the need of schools for themselves, they were much more easily convinced that those papist potato-eaters’ kids needed the right kind of Jesus pounded into their skulls.

The other people who learned from Mann’s experience were the freshly-minted educators – not teachers, no, those had been around for millennia, but certified, Prussian-trained Educators. They saw that the unenlightened masses were nothing but a hinderance to their program, and thereafter sought to cut them out of the process as much as possible. Thus, sympathetic state legislators and governors would set up State Departments of Education with broad and vague powers. These departments all worked together and with the college schools of education – they were the same people, the heads of state education departments and the chairs of university ed schools, educated in Prussia or by Prussian-educated Americans, sharing in Fichte’s vision of using compulsory schooling to turn the population into obedient sheep. From Day 1, the gatekeepers were able to simply shoulder out anyone with any other ideas, thus becoming that which they desired to create: a large body of mindless drones incapable of any independent thought.

The educational ideas and policies created by our educational elite are never honestly debated. They are concocted in the dark and presented as fete accompli. Remember how Common Core was just there one day, with no warning or discussion? That’s typical, and has been for almost 200 years.

So the librarians – educators all – at Clarissa’s university saw no point to consulting anyone. They, and they alone, get to determine which books the students and faculty will have access to. Clarissa mentions how, back in the Soviet Union where she grew up, libraries presented slim pickings unless you were interested in a book by Brezhnev. Now, her university library presents the students with lounge chairs and racism posters instead of books.

From several sources, I’ve seen videos of outraged parents protesting the imposition of Gender Theory and Critical Race Theory in their local grade schools at their local school board meetings. Never discussed, never brought to a vote, just wacko theory imposed against the wills of the parents. Poor fools! I totally support the thinking of these parents, but if they imagine the professional educators on the school board are going to change based on something an ignorant, racist parent says, they are delusional. Those professional educators are absolutely unshakably certain they are right, and that the positions of the parents are exactly the ignorant, racist, sexist, patriarchal, and so on, ideas that they, the educators, have been established to root out and destroy.

Parents are the problem compulsory state schools were founded to solve.

Let’s Distract Ourselves From the Current Insanity, Shall We?

What insanity are we attempting to escape, however breifly?

  1. Yesterday, had an old friend over, with her husband and year old son. They wore masks, and would not come inside. Nothing so unusual about that. But – this friend eats organic, avoids doctors, dreads antibiotics, and was going to move out of our house (she used to live with us) if we tented for termites. Yet, when the same people – sometimes, the very same human beings! – who assure her that eating organic isn’t protecting you from anything, that doctors are to be trusted and obeyed, that antibiotics are perfectly safe, and that the pesticides used in termite tenting are safe when used correctly – when those same people tell her the ‘vaccine’ is completely safe, that everybody else is first and foremost a disease vector, and that, in any event, she and her husband and her baby, three young and vigorously healthy people, are at serious risk from a virus that hasn’t killed anyone they know who was even moderately healthy – boom! suddenly, having reservations as to the reliability of the directions given by those government people is eeeeevil.
  2. Let me get this straight: I have to take an experimental ‘vaccine’ because it doesn’t work – right? It doesn’t protect against getting the infection, doesn’t protect against spreading the infection, has by definition unknown mid- and long- term effects and effectiveness – but I have to take it. If it worked, then people who are worried could take it and stop worrying – you know, like anyone does WITH EVERY OTHER VACCINE YOU TAKE. But no – this ‘vaccine’ must be taken by everyone because it doesn’t in fact work, on the theory that maybe then the Coof Gods will be placated and make this horrible plague, the victims of which develop nothing worse than cold symptoms 99%+ of the time, go away?
  3. Here in Northern California, our scientifilicious betters have determined that the particularly strain of COVID we have here is so intelligent that it knows whether people are inside or outside, such that we are only ‘safe’ inside masked up but could, conceivably, not mask up outside. I guess back when they were making everybody stay inside, outside was too dangerous, but now the genius virus knows only to be dangerous to unmasked people inside…?
  4. Speaking of genius viruses, it seems to be widely believed that the steps of masking up, staying a magical 6′ apart, and staying locked up for months on end have ended the flu as a disease. For now. So, of two airborne respiratory viruses with virions exactly the same size and which employ exactly the same vectors for spreading (and which have exactly the same symptoms 99%+ of the time) the steps taken to reduce COVID eliminated one, such that no flu deaths have been recorded since March of 2020, but had no evident effect on the other – that seems reasonable to people. Sure, it’s magic all the way down.
  5. So, Christmas and Easter are cancelled again. Because nothing in the situation is going change between now and then to make things ‘better’ – flu season will start before any drop in ‘cases’ can be confirmed to the satisfaction of the all-seeing CDC and its toadies, the nursing homes have been restocked with dying old people whose deaths will be attributed to COVID – death ‘involving’ the Kung Flu, as the CDC puts it – so since the ‘vaccine’ doesn’t work, we’ll see ‘cases’ increase starting now, and not taper off until maybe February, once the elderly sickly have been wrenched untimely from this mortal coil. Then, as Easter approaches, the CDC, upon examining the entrails of freshly gutted rights and liberties, will determine we’re not safe *enough* to gather for Easter. Bet on it.

So let’s think about something else! OK?

Family Sayings. Everybody has these, right? Ours are typically movie-related. I’ll doubtless think of a bunch more once I’ve hit publish. Off the top of my head:

  1. “Is there air? You don’t know!” Sniff. “Seems OK.” Often, we skip the setup, and just sniff and say “seems OK.” Galaxy Quest, of course. Used in any taste testing or when stepping into the new situation.
  2. “What you mean ‘we,’ Pale Face?” I remembered this as a Bill Cosby joke, but evidently not. It dates back earlier. One source said a late 50’s Mad Magazine, of which my elder brothers had many, so maybe I saw it there. The idea: The Lone Ranger and Tonto are surrounded by hostile Indians. The Lone Ranger says something like “looks like we’re in deep trouble!” and Tonto replies: “What you mean ‘we,’ Pale Face?” So say someone utters something like “we need to tidy up” the others are likely to reply as did Tonto.
  3. “I hate being right.” Galaxy Quest, again. When things get ugly fast, as predicted.
  4. “Cute as a bug’s ear.” A favorite saying of my Oklahoma farm boy dad.
  5. “Any help would be – helpful.” Monte Python & the Holy Grail.
  6. “Good pig country.” Ditto. Used when trying to make the best of a bad situation.

And I’m sure there are a dozen more that have escaped my fading memory…

You?

Peak Harvest Day: Picked some okra, some beans, and a few large cling peaches – nothing special. BUT picked probably 40 ripe figs off our little fig tree out front, and dozens of our small freestone peaches. And there are plenty more where those came from.

Roughly one day’s pickings from one little fig tree:
This fig tree, It’s only about as tall as I am.
Plenty more where those came from. Totally understand the Biblical use of fig trees as symbols of peace and plenty.

Plenty more where those came from. No pomegranates this year, no idea why it took the year off. But there are a couple dozen nice big pears, and some minneolas for fall/winter. Something – I strongly suspect it’s a possum I’ve seen around – seems intent on eating our butternut squash plants. Leaves, fruits, growth tip of the vines – there today, gone tomorrow. I’ve got plants in 4 different locations – it’s found 3 of them. I managed to put a milk crate over one squash, which seems to have escaped so far. Last year, we had 20+ squashes, and still have 3 left. This year?

Tomatoes have been tasty but few. Okra has been enough, beans were a waste of space. We’ve got all the basil, oregano, and rosemary anyone could need. Look to have a good potato and sweet potato harvest. This is all on a 7,000 square foot suburban lot, where the backyard is all but unusable due to two ancient walnut trees. Just a front yard orchard with two raised beds, some planters and some boxes and pots. So – pretty good, I guess.

Pizza Party: Yesterday, celebrated a belated birthday party for younger daughter by having a backyard pizza party!

Preheating the oven. Wee bit of overkill.

Pizza was good. My little brother and his family are in town Friday, so that’s another pizza party; then the 28th is another, then…

Night of the Long Knives?

If the difference between science, and, indeed, logic, and everyday judgements had to be summed up in one phrase, I’d pick Confirmation Bias. Viewed from the place where we understand that we humans tend to believe what we want to believe, the whole rigmarole of theory => tests => data => conclusions can be seen as an attempt to short circuit our passion for leaping to conclusions. To get to the starting line, we need clear definitions, well-thought-out tests, careful collection of data, and rigorous reasoning. And even that’s not enough, as the history of science shows: we need, desperately, CRITICISM. We will miss something, guaranteed, unless we, the logician, the scientist, at least keep that Good Angel of Criticism in mind, that voice speaking for our opponents and reminding us to think how this is going to look to them. Then, and only then, would the prudent soul throw it out for public criticism.

And put it out there they must! The hallmark of anti-science, of Lysenkoism, is attacks on critics, claims of special esoteric knowledge that magically immunizes your theory from all attacks. Nobody needs to silence their critics if their evidence is strong. Nobody needs official government backing of their position if they’ve made a strong case.

All this came to mind as I read today’s post by Severian. I, in my dark little heart, really, really want there to be a Night of the Long Knives – far from me and mine, of course. This is not only profoundly uncharitable, but raises the issue of confirmation bias: every time I see any of the former golden boys or girls in trouble, such as Cuomo is facing now, I start thinking and – forgive me! – hoping that a whole bunch of people who deserve it are going to get it at the hands of their former ‘friends’. Then, as long as I’ve decided to go there anyway, that the tables then turn, French Revolution style, and that same Committee for Public Safety set for Step One falls into the hands of people who see that its only a matter of time until they’re next in line for the guillotine, and therefor decide that the Cult of Reason wasn’t such a hot idea after all, and anyone associate with that sent to the front of the line. A feeding frenzy results, in which, like the fall of Belbury in That Hideous Strength, Our Betters are murdering each other because they know if they don’t, they’re next. And then they’re next anyway.

Alas! Lewis pens an ending where the only thing left of Our Betters are two smoldering craters where the University and Government Institute used to stand. I’m not sure I can see things working out so neatly here in the real world. Perhaps the most real thing in that whole fairy tale is that Curry, the officious and manipulative don at Edgestow, whose machinations were instrumental in assembling the Progressive Element at the college and welcoming the N.I.C.E to the neighborhood, survives. He puts on a good face, mourning the loss of the College (and the many people there who died!) while imagining his statue standing the the new college quadrangle, as he, the lone survivor, rebuilds Edgestow and is remembered as its second founder. History is full of Richard Richs.

And we should pray for these people and ourselves! Lord, remember your promise of mercy! Do not judge us as our sins deserve. Rather, for Your Name’s sake, forgive us all, especially those most in need of Thy mercy! Send Michael and the Heavenly Host to cast Satan and his minions out of our country, and bind them and cast them into Hell. Grant us the strength to suffer what we must, to Your glory. Your will be done.

Amen.

Coof Insanity Update

Let us summarize the findings of the latest CDC study reviewed in the last blog post:

  1. In July, there were 476 ‘cases’ of the Dreaded Coof in Cape Cod. Cape Cod has a permanent population of 220K, but gets between 1 and 2 million visitors in July.
  2. Deaths: NONE. NADA, Not a one.
  3. Hospitalizations: 5, of whom 3 has multiple preexisting conditions. So, *2* people who were reported as otherwise healthy got sick enough to require hospital level care.
  4. The anti-Coof drugs don’t work: while about 50% of all Americans are have taken the drugs, 74% of the ‘cases’ and 4 out of 5 of the hospitalizations in Cape Cod in July were people who had received the duly approved magical shots.
  5. Of the 476 ‘cases’, 346 showed ‘symptoms’ of COVID. These symptoms are, and I quote: “cough, headache, sore throat, myalgia (aches and pains), and fever.” In other words, these symptoms of COVID 19 are the same as the symptoms for a cold, a flu, overdoing exercise, getting too much sun, bad allergies, having an asthma attack, and on and on. Were these other possible causes controlled for, as science demands? Nope.

Let’s use nice round numbers: say the Cape had 1.78 million visitors this July – certainly within reason, since they get about 6 million visitors per year and July is peak vacation time – to go along with the 220K full time residents, for a tidy total of 2 million people. Could be less, could be more, but this seems reasonable to me, and makes the math easy. Therefore, if you were so reckless as to visit Cape Cod this July:

  1. You ran a 1 in a million chance of getting seriously sick from COVID if you weren’t already seriously sick. *2* such people got sick out of the 2,000,000 people we’re estimating passed through.
  2. You ran no chance of the Coof killing you – nobody died.
  3. Other than that – a few people, a tiny fraction of a percent, got what amounts to a summer cold.

AND – the Vexx don’t work. They don’t stop you from catching the Coof. The Dreaded Delta seems to be more infectious and much, much less dangerous than the ‘Alpha’ version (which wasn’t ever very dangerous anyway).

So what do our [LONG STRING OF EXPLITIVES DELETED] ‘public health’ officials do here, today, in California, supposedly based on this ‘study’? Why MANDATE MASKS INDOORS. Because – oh no! – there was a increase in *CASES* in Cape Cod, once visitors, in their hundreds of thousands, descended upon it in July. The ‘study’ presents no evidence that masking or not had any part in this ‘increase’ in ‘cases’, but just to be ‘safe’ they’ve decided to swaddle us all in bubblewrap and stack us like cordwood in some out of the way place until 2032. Which makes as much sense, and has as much evidence to back it up, as having us mask up again.

The evilest evil part of this: we’re heading into flu season in a month or two. As you may have noticed, miraculously, no one has died of the flu worldwide since March of 2020. Wow. Since the symptoms of the flu and of the Coof ARE THE SAME (see the list from the CDC above) and the flu really, truly does exist, then the absolutely mundane and predictable annual increase in flu infections and deaths, seen every year prior to 2020 for decades, will AGAIN be attributed to COVID. We WILL have a new ‘wave’ of the Kung Flu, even with some deaths, to keep us all terrified and locked down.

There is a special and especially warm place in Hell being prepared for the perpetrators of this evil fraud.