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.

What a Piece of, um, Crap: Another CDC ‘Study’

While in the early days, from March to about June 2020, I read a number of studies and reports regarding the current panic-induced PANDEMIC and lightly followed the ‘news’ – you can check the archives of this blog – since then, for the sake of my own health, I’ve read little. I was concerned about SARS-2 for about 30 minutes, which is how long it took, back in March of last year, to review the claims and the evidence purported to support those claims. Then, I became very concerned – about how the logical conclusions readily apparent even back then were ignored or misrepresented in order to induce panic.

It was clear, back in March, that this virus was a meaningful threat only to the elderly, that using the case fatality rate as if it were the infection fatality rate wildly overstated the risk, and that experiences that reduced panic (the USS Theodore Roosevelt) were ignored while those that could be used to pump up panic (the third world slums of Wuhan) were endlessly touted.

The initial models used to gin up the panic, with predictions of up to 11,000,00- dead Americans unless we we did exactly as told, in my expert opinion as a user and builder of mathematical models for 25 years, were criminally irresponsible crap. Garbage in, garbage out. In a just world, Ferguson would face a firing squad at dawn.

Seeing as the actual evidence was ignored or radically misinterpreted in nearly every case, I lost interest. Facts, evidence, logic clearly didn’t matter. A panic was wanted, and whatever was needed to gin one up was used.

Yet, here we go again: Longtime reader Foxfier linked in a comment to a new CDC ‘study’ wherein – take your pick – dishonest, lying propogandists with a lack of human decency that would make a pimp blush OR mindless, anti-science rabbits without two braincells to call their own and less understanding of science than your local astrologer, have decided that some new ‘cases’ in Barnstable County, Massachusetts require us all to mask up again. The estimable Dr. Briggs offers his usual concise break down. I’m here only to add some background and blow off some steam.

How is this study ridiculous? Let us count the ways.

First, the background information:

  1. the CDC report talks about Barnstable County. Where is that, someone not from New England might ask? It is more commonly called Cap Cod – you know, that quaint little tourist spot about 6 MILLION PEOPLE visit EVERY YEAR. If you called it Cap Cod, there’s a slight chance some people might have that moment of enlightenment, wherein they understand we’re talking about a popular tourist spot and so numbers in the hundreds may not mean much. Barnstable County has about 220,000 permanent residents. So, the numbers the CDC presents must be understood in the context of millions of people. July, the period under consideration in the CDC ‘study’ (I just can’t stomach treating this piece of propaganda as if it were really a study, thus the quotes) is a popular month for vacationing. Maybe 2 million individual people were in Cap Code over July?
  2. Because we’re talking about tourists here, the chances of identifying any particular disease vector are very small. Visitors might have had the bug before they showed up. They rubbed elbows with locals and other tourists everywhere they went. But by emphasizing masks, as the study does, the CDC focuses on one particular vector – one which can be used for future humiliation rituals and compliance testing.

Now to some actual numbers:

  1. The report says 469 ‘cases’ of COVID were reported in July across Cap Cod. Let’s see: if 2 million people passed through during July, that would show an infection rate of – wait for it! – 0.0002345. If you were so reckless – reckless, I tell you! – to have visited Cap Cod in July, you’d have run about a one in 5,000 chance of becoming a ‘case’.
  2. But ‘cases’ in the novel way the CDC uses the term for COVID and no other disease, doesn’t mean anybody got sick. As far as that goes, the CDC says 346 of those 469 ‘cases’ showed any symptoms. Symptoms include “cough, headache, sore throat, myalgia (aches and pains), and fever.” Oooo-kay. Certainly, people who vacation at the beach in the summer never display those symptoms unless from COVID? Never get tired, or too much sun, or overdo the activities? Only COVID, the genius virus, causes those things? Be that as it may, your chances of developing symptoms are 0.000173, or about 1 in 6,000. You also might catch a summer cold – the symptoms are identical.
  3. 5 people required hospitalization. Your chances of requiring hospitalization would have been 0.0000025, or 1 in 400,000.
  4. Your chances of dying of COVID were zero. Nobody died. Nada, even though 3 of the 5 of those hospitalized had underlying health problems.

Since this is exactly the kind of information that would cause RATIONAL PEOPLE TO THROW AWAY THEIR STUPID MASKS AND DANCE A JIG IN THE STREET ON THEIR WAY TO PARTY DOWN, the CDC ‘report’ does not emphasize these numbers. Instead, they – oddly, it seems to me – choose to emphasize that the drugs don’t work. Of the 469 ‘cases’, “Approximately three quarters (346; 74%) of cases occurred in fully vaccinated persons (those who had completed a 2-dose course of mRNA vaccine [Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna] or had received a single dose of Janssen [Johnson & Johnson] vaccine ≥14 days before exposure).”

Available numbers show that about 1/2 of Americans have been injected with anti-coof drugs as of today. If – and this is the kind of big if the CDC generally ignores, which is one way you know it’s a ‘study’ with nothing to do with science – the population on Cap Cod in July was injected at a similar percentage, then getting ‘vaccinated’ raises your chances of getting the coof and of getting hospitalized. Now, of course, it’s quite possible that ‘having gotten vaccinated’ correlates somewhat with ‘elderly, sickly, or both’ and ‘being a terrified little rabbit’. If so, the injections don’t so much increase your chances of getting diagnosed as identify you as the sort of person who’s run to get tested at the first sniffle. The important part: either way, nobody died. Either way, only 2 people who weren’t already very ill got very ill.

The ‘study’ also mentions that many of these infections were of the dreaded Delta Variant – you know, the more infections yet MUCH LESS FATAL version of COVID? The Coof was nothing to worry about for 99.5% of the population before it mutated into the much less virulent Delta form – you know, like viruses strongly tend to do, Darwinian selection pressures being what they are.

“Overall, 274 (79%) vaccinated patients with breakthrough infection were symptomatic. Among five COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized, four were fully vaccinated; no deaths were reported.”

So, we’re done? No vaccines needed – doesn’t improve your chances of avoiding infection, and you’re not going to die or even get very sick if you do get infected. Stripped of its use as panic-mongering propaganda, that’s what this ‘study’ says. So, we’re done now? Right?

This latest CDC report is, sadly, yet another idiot test: if you’re the kind of person who would pass up the $2.00 20 oz bottle of salsa for the 40 oz bottle on sale for $5, then this ‘study’ is for you!

People are buying the sh*t. We are so, so, screwed.

The Dream Virus

Inspired by a comment by El Borak on this post at Rotten Chestnuts.

For many decades now, it has been known that viruses always mutate, and tend to almost always mutate into less lethal forms. (1) Why viruses strongly tend to mutate into less virulent forms is basic applied Darwinism: a virus that kills its host is much less likely to spread than one that doesn’t. Dead bodies don’t get around much; people avoid dead bodies much more than they avoid live ones. Since any virus ‘wants’ to spread and replicate as much as possible, while its victims don’t ‘want’ to die, a milder, less fatal variation is much more likely to spread than a stronger, more fatal variety. (2)

Further, the fewer symptoms that announce a person is sick, the better, from the virus’s point of view. Having someone moaning in bed, or coughing up a lung, is not as likely to invite further interactions with potential future hosts, than a host that looks and acts more healthy.

The ideal virus would be infinitively infectious with no symptoms at all. And, indeed, at the moment it is likely you, me, anybody, has more virions in us than we have cells that are ‘ours’. They’re unimaginably small, for one thing, even compared to ‘our’ cells, and are simply everywhere. Some are symbiotic. But some are, evidently, just there. We humans have ‘coevolved’ with viruses for a couple billion years. They ‘know’ how to deal with us; we ‘know’ how to deal with them. In the normal course of things, viruses don’t ‘want’ to kill or harm us, and we are pretty much indifferent to their presence. Only once in a while does a mutation happen that increases the deadliness of a virus, and such mutations strongly tend to quickly fade out.

So we should have expected the COVID virus to a) mutate; and b) get more infectious and less and less harmful over time. And that’s exactly what the delta variant is: a more infectious but much less dangerous mutation.

Here’s what was shared by El Borak:

1) Do a duck duck go search for “technical briefing sars-cov-2 variants of concern”
2) The first item or two will lead you to a gov.uk link. Click it.
3) Download the latest “Technical briefing” This is official “raw” data about Covid and its variants by Health England. The latest is #19, published July 23.
4) Scroll down to Table 3, page 13 and look for the Delta line.

More than 229,000 cases (now more than half of all British cases since Day 1). 461 deaths. An overall Case Fatality Rate of .2% (2-in-1000. 1st line, p.15). That includes all the diabetic octogenarian grandmas who got missed in the first wave. For people under 50 the CFR is 0% (penultimate line, p 14).

Those are official numbers, so you can assume, probably, that they’ve made them look as scary as they could get away with.

But they are not scary. A virus that kills 45 people under age 50 in more than 200,000 cases — who now all have immunity — is as close to the dream virus as you can get.

Chaser: of the 460 total deaths from Delta, only 165 (36%) had not taken at least one holy jab. The rest loved CNN.

Anybody listening?

  1. The counter-example was the Spanish Flu during WWI. A virus is ‘looking’ for more hosts; men in the trenches who got mildly sick stayed in the trenches, while those that got more seriously ill were taken to hospitals. The mildly sick only exposed a shrinking population of non-immune soldiers (those who had not already caught and recovered from the virus) while those who got more sick and were taken to hospitals got a chance to expose many more non-immune people, both on the trip and in the hospitals themselves. Thus, this one time, selection pressures actually favored a more virulent version of the flu. In the big picture, this odd environment that selected for symptoms bad enough to get the victim removed from the front briefly made the Spanish Flu more deadly, before it, like every other virus in history, mutated itself out of the news. Or so the story goes.
  2. I’ve often wished I had gone into evolutionary biology – it’s endlessly fascinating. One idea I had as a kid when I first read and read about Darwin, a notion I have yet to find in the literature (not that I’ve done anything like an exhaustive search) is the idea that life has evolved to evolve, that any successful living thing – and that’s every living thing that exists – has a genome that has gone through millions upon millions of selection cycles. Genes that produce characteristics that provide an advantage only once every hundred or thousand or million cycles would still get selected for. Think of grasshoppers – they have the genetic hardware to become locusts, a behaviorally and physically different animal. Yet many generations may pass before whatever it is that triggers that transformation occurs. Those genes persist through many generations where they are not expressed. Why? Or hybrid vigor: why is it that when closely-related but long separated populations mate, the results are so many outliers? Hybrids are smaller, bigger, stronger, weaker, and so on, than their parents. Why? Well, what if selection pressures over millennia had favored rolling the dice, feature-wise, whenever sufficiently divergent populations interbred? The environmental question: what kept those populations apart, and what has changed to bring them together? When an evolutionary environment changes – meaning, definitionally, the selection pressures change – then whatever form was selected for in the previous environments may no longer be favored. Maybe a bigger version would be better – or a smaller, etc. So, coded into every genome by natural selection acting over millions of years is a hybrid function: the advantage goes to more varied offspring in an environment of unknown but different selection pressures. I don’t know if that makes any sense – I’d need 10,000 words or more to spell it out any better.

A Gripping Tale of Getting My Teeth Cleaned, and Other Exquisite Drama

These remarkably clean, white, straight, unchipped teeth are not mine. Is there such a thing as a teeth model? I bet there is…

Got my teeth cleaned for the first time since the Coof. Walked in, the guy working reception told me to put on a mask. OK, dentist with a lot of elderly patients probably needs to put them at ease…

Next, the hygienist comes out. There are 3 who work for this dentist, two of whom I know pretty well from the last 25 years of being his patient. This was the 3rd, who may have done my teeth once or twice over the decades. So I don’t know her well enough to kid around with her. Well, she’s got the thermometer gun and the finger thermometer thing, and starts quizzing me as she’s taking my (perfectly normal) temperature.

She finally asks: “Have you been vaccinated?” I respond: “Do you know HIPAA?” She responds, a little flustered, “I think we can ask…” I go, “Maybe, but I don’t need to answer.”

Awkward silence. Finally, I add: “I’m not sick.”

Aaand -she let it go.

The dentist himself is a great guy, but not completely free of Branch Covidian dogmas. At least, he didn’t seem too worried, and made noises about the whole thing being overblown.

Walked out to talk to the reception guy and pay my bill. Didn’t mask up. No issues at all.

Next, went to mass this morning at a parish where, during an earlier stage of the Covidiocy, the priest had one day moved a daily mass inside because it was pouring rain outside – and got upbraided by Karen. She, you see, would rather have old people catch their death of cold out in the rain than see 30 masked up people in a church that seats 500 sitting 10+’ apart. Because something something.

Anyway, not sure if this is a milestone or tipping point, but for the first time since this insanity took hold, an obvious majority of the people in church were unmasked. Now, the masked-up people get to feel like the weirdos, and have their finely-honed instinct to comply triggered. You don’t want to be the last person wearing a mask, do you? One can only hope.

Finally, I’ve been working, off and on, on a COVID dictionary. Here’s a sample:

A Covid Dictionary

These are trying times for speakers of standard English. A lifetime spent using simple words to convey clear ideas leaves one ill-equipped for understanding what one reads and hears today. Here is a possibly helpful dictionary of terms currently in vogue, for those wedded to the now archaic idea that words are to be used to communicate. 

In today’s brave new world, any dictionary has an ever-contracting useful life. The notion that words should correspond to anything in objective reality is viewed as a dangerous anachronism. Therefore, the definitions below are good only for the current moment, and will be changed as soon as found expedient by our present wordsmiths. 

Believing the Science: An act of faith performed by acolytes who have not read the studies, would not understand them if they did, but parrot exactly what the nice people in lab coats on TV tell them to. 

Conspiracy Theory: a ritual allegation that relieves the speaker from all obligations to look at evidence

COVID Case: anyone who shows any signs of having, or ever having had, any of the symptoms common to a cold, flu, seasonal allergy, asthma, or related afflictions, or who gets a positive test result on a COVID test, regardless of how many cycles the test is run. Archaic: someone who presents for medical care while showing clear symptoms of COVID – never use case in this sense!

COVID Test: a highly sophisticated and, as used, highly oversensitive test wherein, when desired, a sample is processed as many times as it takes to get a positive result. Standards call for 40 or more cycles in cases of COVID, while other uses of the same technology to diagnose other diseases stop at 20 to prevent rampant false positives. 

Denier: See ‘Conspiracy Theory’

Established Science: A set of ever-changing dogmas found politically useful regardless of evidence or valid criticism. 

Scientific Consensus: The principle under which people defend the ideas that bloodletting is a good treatment for a wide variety of diseases, and that heavier bodies fall faster than lighter bodies. Antonym: Scientific Method. 

Pandemic: Any real or imagined health problem the government declares to require massive government intervention to address. 

Have a nice weekend!

Some Badthink, While We Still Can

Perspective is important. One constant gotcha is scale. Saw something like this once, couldn’t find it, so I mocked it up myself:

On the very, very small chance anyone tries to look at the numbers, they are most likely to see something like this:

What you are supposed to notice: that scary red line way up over the weekly death totals from previous years, starting in March, 2020.

(What you are not supposed to notice: the dotted green line, which shows deaths from all causes other than COVID in 2021. That dotted green line should be – should be, by all common sense – ABOVE all previous years except 2020. The population has risen and aged significantly over this period; we should expect year over year death numbers to be higher. Yet, by some miracle, if it weren’t for COVID bringing the total 2021 solid green line up to where it might reasonably be, significantly fewer people have died in 2021 than history and common sense would have predicted. Makes a fellah wonder…)

What do these numbers look like if we put the deaths on the same scale as the population? They look like this:

All numbers from MacroTrends here and here

What this chart shows is the gradual increase in US population over the last decade, and a death rate consistently just under 1%. That means around 3M people die in the US every year in the normal course of things no matter what we do. Next, we will add in the attributed number of deaths ‘involving ‘ COVID in 2020. (2021 has been effectively flat, so I’m ignoring it). Note, not the number of excess deaths claimed by the CDC, which is about 360,000, but the 500,000 number of COVID deaths that is still getting tossed around. In other words, I’m following the ‘use the worst numbers in the worst way’ practice used incessantly by the media and government:

If you have good eyes and look very carefully, you can barely detect a tiny bump up for 2020. As tragic as any particular death may be, on a population basis of 333 million, even 500,000 additional deaths doesn’t change the big picture at all. If this seems cold, first, note that numbers don’t care.

As pointed out by many, many people, what a sane layman means by a disease killing somebody bears little resemblance to how the press has reported the CDC ‘death involving’ numbers. Most likely, at least 2/3rds of the deaths attributed to COVID are elderly, sickly people who were already dying of something else. People in nursing homes are there for a reason, and are most likely going to die soon, COVID or not. Yet we count them and panic while simply ignoring into oblivion the INEVITABLE, INESCAPABLE death toll of the lockdowns themselves.

Next let’s consider a pandemic about the existence of which there is little dispute: the Black Death. The numbers are not hard, as people at the time were too busy burying the dead and trying not to die to do any large-scale demographics for our benefit. Roughly, 30%-60% of the population of Europe died over the years 1347-1351. The population may have been as high as 75 million. Since we’re just ballparking here, and have to guess anyway, we’ll use a mathematically reasonable 4% annual death rate, which is about the guesstimate for agricultural pre-modern societies. I’m open to better suggestions here, but I merely point out that up or down a percentage point or two won’t make much difference to overall picture I’m painting.

Putting this into a graph, and making the simplifying assumption that the Plague killed about the same percentage of people from 1347 to 1351 so that the total adds up to about 60%, the graph looks something like this:

For illustration only. I’m not using hard numbers, but then again, no one else is either.

The first point is that you can actually see changes in deaths: from about 3 million a year as a baseline to almost 10,000,000 deaths in 1347, and the about 40 million who died over the duration of the Plague.

The second thing to note: the population went down, and went down drastically. It was centuries before the overall population of Europe again reached 1300 levels. Meanwhile, under COVID, the US population ROSE, and continues to rise.

The CDC is claiming COVID increased the death rate in America by about 10%, from about 2.9 million to about 3.2 million. That’s counting every ‘death involving’ COVID as a COVID death and ignoring INEVITABLE, INESCAPABLE deaths due to the lockdowns and masks. The The Black death increased the death rate about 300% annually, from about 3 million deaths to about 10 million deaths per year.

I have heard more than one person compare Sars2 to the Black Death. No. To get in the ballpark, a hundred million Americans would have to die, 20 times even the wildest overestimations floating about.

To put it in personal terms, every European during the Black Death saw his chances of dying a horrible death soon go up astronomically; COVID adds a tiny fraction of a percent more risk to an average, reasonably healthy American. During the Black Death, people had not just heard about a fatal disease, but saw many, many people in their families and villages die before their eyes. Mass graves, containing hundreds or even thousands, were needed to dispose of the dead. Death was an immediate, irrefutable fact for all but the most isolated Europeans. In America, while everyone who listens to the media has heard of COVID deaths, almost nobody personally knows an otherwise healthy person who died of COVID. Not elderly, not obese, not diabetic, not having underlying heart or lung issues, not having survived cancer (the the damage to their immune systems and overall strength surviving cancer usually entails).

Claiming a person so ill that they were consigned to a nursing home was killed by COVID defies common sense. Mortuaries are not and never were overworked any more than usual; hospitals are not and never were overwhelmed any more than usual. A cold is as much or more a threat than COVID to about 99% of everybody.

Footnote: I was so pleased and relieved to see back at church today someone who could have become, if she had died, the first person I personally knew to die of COVID. She’s a wonderful lady, 87 years old, generally vigorous but having had a couple falls in the last few months. She refused to wear masks or otherwise go around terrified. She is said to have caught the disease, ended up in the hospital – and then recovered just fine, like 99.9%+ of reasonably healthy people who catch it. Something is going to get her – something is going to get all of us! – but I’m so thankful it wasn’t the Coof in her case. May she live another decade! Everybody else I know who has had it has recovered promptly. A few had lingering symptoms. People seem to have forgotten catching that flu that just won’t go away, takes a couple months before we feel truly right. Used to be a sign you were human. Now, it’s a sign of the Apocalypse.