In a Cabin in the Woods (not working on my manifesto – I ain’t even got one!)

Checking in, from beautiful Arnold, CA. (pop 3,288; elevation 3,999′) where the entire family is meeting up. But am working on a few things, as follows.

I’ve been working on the pulp-style space adventure from 28 years ago that I found 50 pages of when packing up to move. ‘Working on’ here means taking pictures with my iPhone, offloading them to my laptop, then using Googledocs’ OCR function to open them up as text. It kind of works! I will need another hour or two to clean up the formatting and obvious mistakes, and still need to find the penultimate chapter that somehow got separated from the other draft chapters and read it in. Still faster than retyping it, for me, anyway.

While the writing is obvious amateur first draft level, I love the ideas. I’ve got Dante in there – one of the bad guys is named Smarrita, as in:

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
ché la diritta via era smarrita.

In the middle of the journey of our life
I found myself in a dark wood
Where the straight way was lost

And the deal gone bad is with a race I call Selvans – our hero finds himself in a dark spot in the ‘woods’. And so on, I was being cute.

Funny: Brian Niemeier’s Soul Cycle (reviewed beginning here) is all about Dante in Space, and here I was, 28 years ago, writing a very different Dante in Space book. I would be happy to be half as good as Niemeier. Along the same lines, found a short story from back then where the premise is that explorers crash land on an Eden-like planet, only to slowly starve to death, as their bodies can’t break down the available nutrition – a variation on a theme from Michael Flynn’s Eifelheim. I’ve been obsessed with this thought for decades: that the chemistry of LAWKI is so weird and unique, with seemingly arbitrary ‘choices’ among chemicals and stereoisomers, with crazy things life-threatening prions, it would be amazing if encounters with alien life, no matter how superficially benign, didn’t kill us. I would think that the first step toward terraforming would be to nuke the planet from space, just to be sure. This is a theme in several short stories and two novels I’ve started drafting over the last 30 years or so.

Also, is anyone else bothered by the ‘enhanced’ pictures we get from the Hubble, and will no doubt soon get from the Webb? I look, and see nothing; I look, and see nothing even using fantastical modern tech. BUT – I don’t look, let that tech feed its input into spectrographs, computer algorithms, and other fancy stuff, and they produce:

Beautiful, but what is its relationship to reality? I don’t know.

This is also a ‘picture’ of the Pillars:

Also beautiful.

In what sense are either of those pictures real? Certainly, no naked eye look at the Pillars is going to look anything like either of these, even ‘naked’ eye through a powerful telescope. The question becomes: what information do we want to convey? In the old pulp draft, I have passages like these:

The small circular viewports on either side of the module cabin dimmed automatically for a moment, to protect the delicate eyes of the occupants from the brilliant flash of the cruiser disintegrating into plasma and dust. On the front viewer, a computer processed image revealed the details of the explosion, all extraneous light and radiation filtered away. On that screen, the ship neatly vanished into a gradually thinning aura. Neither man was watching,

and

The star cruiser appeared quickly, a sudden point of light, then a highly distorted image of a ship, trailed by a thousand house of mirrors reflections strung back into space-time. Then, just as suddenly, and with no apparent logic, a perfect little star cruiser was visible alone against the field of stars. Despite his predicament, Warner couldn’t help wondering how much of what he just saw was the result of the viewsys’s inadequate attempts to create a sensible image out of unknown inputs, and how much was “really” taking place. The question was nonsense, he reminded himself.

It’s a little bit like MiniTrue: somebody had to decide what is the important information, and arrange to have the ‘unimportant’ information filtered out.

Next, my beloved and I married 35 years ago on May 30; our older daughter married 2 years ago on May 30; our middle son married May 29th last year. Younger daughter married Jan 8 this year – but we let her and her husband come anyway. Joint anniversary celebration. Because 3 of our kids married over an 18 month period, it is now a running joke to remind our 18 year old son that he doesn’t need to get married anytime soon, it’s OK.

We, our 18 year old son, and our older daughter, her husband, and their 7 month old daughter are already here; the others are due in Friday morning and staying through Sunday. A rip-roaring anniversary hoedown! Elder son-in-law found a nice big cabin for us all.

It’s nice to have a family where everyone gets along. Anyway, we had lunch and a walk yesterday at White Pine Lake, a reservoir in Arnold. I walked to the dam and back:

The dam spillway
The creek flowing away from the dam.

And here’s the view from the back porch, where I sit typing this.

Temperature is sensory-deprivation-tank perfect: I was falling asleep earlier, sitting on the back porch, in shorts. Ideal.

Next next, our house is scheduled to hit the market tomorrow, if all things go well., with open houses this weekend. St. Joseph, please pray for us, that the Father may prosper the work of our hands to His glory! Meaning, of course, that we get a good offer soon, and find a good place to buy.

Starting next Tuesday, we will be staying in another very dear furnished rental in Auburn, and spending our time house hunting like mad. Not gonna look at the markets, no siree, not me, not one bit… AAAGH!

Interesting times.

The End of the Middle Ages

Prepping for the last lecture class before we start reviews and head into finals. Looking at the stuff I prepared last year, I can barely remember doing it. Probably something to do with the physical and emotional exhaustion from moving, and the continued attention demanded by the endless steps needed to get our house finally on the market. (target date: 5/26.)

Here’s a brief snippet.

Edward Peters, Britannica online

This, from Britannica, a source I use cautiously if at all. Here, the writer, describes the triumphal revisionism of the Renaissance writers, who so badly wanted to tout themselves as the best and the brightest that they ignored reality when needed. I’ve long wondered how scholars writing sometimes literally in the shadows of the great medieval churches, could not see how preposterous their claims of *obvious* superiority were. Example:

A nice church. I’d take it, Buuuut….
Clearly better than this? I think not. And I’m not even going with the High Gothic stuff here, which is the greatest architecture the world has ever seen.

Reports of the death of the Middle Ages have been somewhat exaggerated. What’s really been overblown are the achievements of the Renaissance:

The next (and, as it proved, final), steps taken in this direction (physics of motion – ed)  were the accomplishments of the last and greatest of the medieval scientists, Nicole Oresme (1325 – 1382). …devoted much of his effort to science and mathematics. He invented graphs, one of the few mathematical discoveries since antiquity which are familiar to every reader of the newspapers. He was the first to perform calculations involving probability. He had a good grasp of the relativity of motion, and argued correctly that there was no way to distinguish by observation between the theory then held that the heavens revolve around the earth once a day, and the theory that the heavens are at rest and the earth spins once a day. 

Then everything came to a stop. Given the scientific and mathematical works of Descartes and Galileo, but no chronological information, one might suppose the authors were students of Oresme. Galileo’s work on moving bodies is the next step after Oresme’s physics; Cartesian geometry follows immediately on Oresme’s work on graphs. But we know that the actual chronological gap was 250 years, during which nothing whatever happened in these fields. Nor did any thing of importance occur in any other branches of science in the two centuries between Oresme and Copernicus. 

James Franklin, Honorary Professor, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of New South Wales

Then, yea, there’s that.

There’s a bunch more, but now I’ve gotta go do class. Yes, I inflict this stuff on 15 year olds. Toughens them up.

End of Eras

Home stretch, as it were, of emptying our home. 27 years of stuff. Confusing thoughts and feelings about all this. But let’s not wallow in nostalgia! Or, at least, not just wallow in nostalgia…

First, the weather. As all 20 long-time readers may be aware, I’ve used this data set to track local rainfall for the last several years.

top of the page.

Our local flood control district has 32 automated rain gages set up across the county, and put up this web page with near real time automatic updates as shown. Over the past 4 or 5 years, I decided to use these numbers to get a more general idea of local rainfall, rather than just using the one local gage for Concord, CA, that seems to provide the go-to numbers for the press.

As discussed in previous posts, these numbers are both beautiful and flawed. Beautiful, in that they provide a real-world snapshot of rainfall over a couple of hundred square miles updated every 15 minutes. But, as a note on the page says:

The District does not warranty, guarantee, or certify the accuracy of the rainfall data. The data accuracy and availability can be compromised due to equipment failure, power loss, equipment defects, loss of calibration, or internet/radio communication equipment failure of equipment provided by others.

This disclaimer is on top of the inaccuracy built into the round numbers used as average annual rainfall totals per gage. Since accurate annual averages are of little use to the Flood Control District, it’s obvious they just took a guess and stuck with it. So, for example, the Ygnacio Valley Fire, Concord, station has an annual average of 17.00 inches. Exactly. They have been tracking rainfall at this station for 43 years; the annual average has not changed over the 5 or so years I have been watching it. And so on, for most of the gages.

Since the annual per gage averages are numbers I use in my fancy-pants spreadsheet to estimate total rainfall as a percentage of average, all my numbers have at least this built-in error. I also watch (this is all for my own weird obsessive amusement) how many stations hit or exceed their annual averages, and by how much. Thus, this year so far, as of this morning – and it happens to be raining at the moment, so this will change – 21 out of 32 stations have gotten at least 80% of their annual averages, while 16 have hit 90%, 7 reached 100% and 1 has even exceeded 125%.

This is where it gets stupid. Or stupider. The Mount Diablo Peak station has, in every year I’ve tracked it, had both the highest rainfall and the greatest amount and percentage over average. This year, it shows over 130% of annual average. There are several other stations that have, in terms of percentage of annual average, consistently run way ahead of the other stations. On the other hand, the Kregor Peak, Clayton, station shows under 50% of its annual average this year – and it is maybe a couple miles, and visible from, the Mount Diablo Peak station. And a number of other stations similarly have fallen ‘behind’ the overall averages each year I’ve watched them.

Such consistent inconsistencies call my whole project into doubt. I don’t blame the Flood Control District in the slightest – all they want to know is how much rain is falling how fast and where, so that they can warn people that the creek’s gonna rise. My whole project makes little sense in that context; the ‘errors’ I’m spotting, that throw my numbers into chaos, simply don’t matter much if at all to the Flood Control District.

Nail in the coffin: this year, 5 or 6 of the stations have failed more often than not to report any usable numbers. Either blank cells, or data that fails the sniff test. That Ygnacio Valley Fire, Concord, station mentioned above happens to be the one physically closest to our home. Today, it shows no rainfall at all for the last several days, while 4″ deep puddles have been forming on our patio. So, not believable.

In order to use the data in my fancy-pants spreadsheet, I have to clean it up by removing stations with bad data. Since not all stations are created equal – annual average rainfall varies from 11″ to 33.50″, in addition to the inconsistencies mentioned above – it matters which stations one removes. Removing any stations because you don’t like the data is bad science. I think we’ve reached a point where even I can’t convince myself my analysis proves anything.

That said, we’ve reached 92% of annual average rainfall! Woohoo!

Next, we had to tell our 94 year old neighbor of 27 years that we’re moving out. This old gentleman has watched our kids grow up, and has put up with our dumb former dog, and just been a great all-around neighbor. He’s the kind of guy who will keep an eye on the whole neighborhood in a friendly way, and even go have a talk with any neighbor who is maybe not being quite neighborly enough. Best neighbor we’ve ever had.

He was pretty emotional, as were we. In the last few years, his dearly beloved wife died, he had a fall and broke bones, and finally, after decades where he seemed to have hit about 60 and just stayed there, he is finally showing his age. He’s almost house-ridden these days, with trips to the doctor and daily walks with caregivers his only outside activates. This, for a man who was forever puttering in the garden and driving himself to church and so on. Please remember him in your prayers.

Next, had my pianos moved yesterday. The upright from the 1890s is sitting in storage; I bit the bullet and had my 1927 Steinway sent in for restringing. Too expensive! But now seemed the time. So, for the rest of my life, at least, there will be a truly fine piano to play in my home.

Finally, this same neighbor has 4 sons but no daughters. He fell hard for our younger daughter, who was born while we lived here. He got to see her grow up from infancy. She became, I think, the daughter he never had. Plus, she’s a cutie and the sweetest kid, and was always kind to him. Well, this daughter of ours, married just short of 4 months, is now expecting her first child. Due in November. Very hard to get my head around.

The gravitational shift of having one granddaughter living 60 miles away was huge; adding a second grandchild makes it totally irresistible. When we move, we plan to be much nearer to both.

House is almost empty; the Insane Brick Project is about 50 bricks from completion; the house will look and be in better shape than it ever was while we lived here; POD in the front drive being loaded up; a storage unit packed to the roof. While a Friday departure date seems to have been a little optimistic, we should be gone gone by Monday. 30+ years in the area, 27 in the same parish. All over.

How to Lie with Data

It was Chesterton, I think, who said: No lie is more dangerous than when it is very nearly true. Propaganda is much more about very nearly telling the truth than about out and out lies. The big lies, the ones repeated over and over until they have beaten down the weak, are usually built upon small half truths. But even the most dedicated propagandist tells the truth much of the time – just not the whole truth.

So we hear that, finally, CDC officials have acknowledged that 43% Covid hospitalizations are *with* not *for* Covid; and that in 75% of Covid deaths the deceased had 4 or more ‘comorbidities’.

Statements such as these should cause a sane person not to trust anything the CDC says. Why is this being mentioned now, when those of us capable of looking at the data could have told- and did tell! – you the same thing back in March of 2020? So one is left playing Kremlinology, trying to suss out why we are being told this now, when one was labelled a terrorist for mentioning it a month ago?

Tedious but necessary background. Looking at any old actuarial mortality table for the US, we see the following pattern: almost everybody lives to be at least 50, then, between ages 50 and 100, almost everybody dies. Before about age 80, most Americans are dead. Between 50 and 80, a little less than half of all Americans die; the other little less than half die between 80 and 100. (Or so – only a comparatively tiny number make it past 100.)

From age 1 to 50, comparatively few people die. Leading causes of death in this age range are accidents, murders, suicides, plus some number of people who just drew a bad hand, and were sickly or caught some nasty disease. But taken all together, less than 8% of men and 4.5% of women don’t make it to 50. By comparison, a mere 15 years later, at age 65, 20% of all American males are dead – it took 50 years to kill off the first 8%, and only 15 to kill off the next 12%. The death rate accelerates from there. A 50 year old man runs only about a .5% chance of death that year; a 90 year old man has a 16% chance of death that year.

This should be common sense. Certainly, we are much more surprised and saddened when somebody under 50 dies; when somebody over 80 dies, it is, or should be, no shock at all.

Keeping this all in mind, let’s talk about ‘comorbidities’. I have 2 comorbidities – I’m fat, and have high blood pressure. Eventually – sooner rather than later, as I’m 63 years old – these health problems are likely to catch up with me and could even kill me. But short term, like over the next 5 to 10 years, probably not, but there’s certainly no guarantee. So my comorbidities are a cause for concern (and action! working on it!), but they are not, so far, interfering with my day to day life.

Now let’s talk about the population where most of the attributed Coved deaths take place: those in nursing homes and hospitals. Such people also have comorbidities, usually a lot of them. But here’s the difference, what is being lied about through omission: the comorbidities of nursing home prisoners HAS destroyed their ability to function. Their health is so poor that they are put in special places where others can care for their most basic needs.

Comorbidities among nursing home incarcerees typically include such things as cancer, renal failure, heart problems, severe respiratory problems. The CDC rules don’t allow ‘old age’ as a cause of death, so, when an old person whose body is failing in a hundred ways finally passes on, the doctor is forced to put something, or some short list of somethings, as the cause of death. Prior to the Covid panic, heart failure and pneumonia were top causes.

In this environment, where a large number of people are awaiting death, and where any old cold or flu is likely to push them over the edge, we add Covid. AND we put in very loose guidelines for a Covid diagnosis, AND we financially incent people to care for Covid patients, AND we remove all independent oversight (visitors) – well, it turns out an awful lot of people, with comorbiditeis like lung cancer and congestive heart failure are all the sudden showing up as Covid deaths.

While it is refreshing to see the CDC talking about comorbidities at all, it would be much more honest (yeah, like that’s gonna happen) to talk about where these people are dying – namely, nursing homes and hospitals. In a nursing home? You’re not long for this world,* Covid or not; not in a nursing home or otherwise very ill? Covid is no worry at all, no more than a cold or flu.

*with the usual caveat that those in dementia care sometimes live years until the decay of their bodies catches up with the decay of their minds. But those in for basic bodily sickness are unlikely to last for more than a year or so, usually much less.

Predictions from Last Year, and for This Year

William Briggs, Statistician to the Stars, asks every year for his readers to make predictions, then, early the next year, scores those predictions. I play along and then promptly forget them until reminded the following year when Briggs publishes the results.

His rules:

  1. Number your predictions, using numbers, like this.
  2. Limit your predictions to 5, a number less than 6 or more.
  3. No sports.
  4. Be specific and provide a way to verify your projections.
  5. Attach a probability word if you are less than certain.
  6. Verified predictions of our coming Doom will receive very little weight unless they are quite specific.

Here are mine for 2021, with Brigg’s comments after the quotation, and my comments in bold italics after that:

My 2021 predictions:

1. “By year end, the state will begin to take away the children of those who fail to comply with ‘public health’ orders, for the kids protection.” This indeed happened, but in isolated cases, usually divorces. Will pick up this year.

2. “A cold war will grow between the schools and those parents who (finally) see what the schools teach.” This happened, you terrorists. Will get worse.

3. “The lockdown it simply too intoxicating to ever end. A new strain will be ‘discovered’, CHILDREN ARE DYING!!!” Yes, twice over. Bingo.

4. “Websites such as this will either be simply eliminated, or, if small enough, shadow-banned.” We are shadow-banned in at least several universities, as anons have written to say.

5. “The election fraud stands, but something else – the inevitable power struggle among the victors, the sudden, unexpected collapse of China, somebody key breaking ranks, enough people starting to actively resist…” Not quite. I don’t remember exactly what I was predicting here – more chaos than we got, something like that. Maybe this year.

Here are mine for 2022:

  1. 2022 is the year the Branch Covidians are phased out and the Greta Fan Club takes over: more and more controls are enforced and less and less freedoms allowed, but the alleged cause gradually switches from fauxvid to Climate Change ™.
  2. Similarly, our all but mandated social scores, currently based on ‘vax’ status, will come to include some sort of carbon score or suchlike.
  3. “The rich” discover that they are not homogenous. The unending power struggles among our betters increase as saner heads try to reign things in. The Soroses and Buffetts of the world may have enough wealth in enough areas to ride out almost anything, but some people who imagine they are wealthy are going to discover they aren’t. Some rich people, for example, have much of their wealth in shipping or airlines. They are not as happy with the direction of things as are the more satanic vermin like Soros, whose fortune is based on currency manipulation. This one is likely complicated to verify, but can be read between the lines when certain industries push back against the control mechanisms.
  4. Public school attendance falls sharply. Private schools boom even as laws and regulations are enforced against them. Conflicts move from school board meetings into the actual schools. (Again, could be hard to verify, as the only reporting will frame the parents as ‘terrorists’ if it gets reported at all.)
  5. Prayers that the pope speedily comes to enjoy his eternal reward will increase in frequency and fervor, but he will hang on for another year.

You heard it here first! Maybe.

Obsessing About Weather: Acting Normally (for me)

Let’s take ourselves on wings of nostalgia as it were and try to help ourselves forget, perhaps, for a while, our drab wretched lives: Let us return to a subject written about here before the world lost its mind. All 12 longtime readers might recall my neurotic obsession interest in California weather. My interest was at first piqued by the incessant harping on and doomsday predictions over what, when looked at objectively, was just typical California weather. Namely: precipitation varies a lot from year to year here in the Golden State. Most years, we get less than average rainfall. Some years, we get a lot more than average rainfall. That’s the pattern evident in the data since there has data to look at.

So, a few years in a row of below average rainfall is not a drought. In any decade, you might get 5, 6, 7 years of below average rainfall, sometimes in a row. Such a pattern seems to simply be the way weather works here on the West Coast, at least since the last glacial maximum ended 10,000 years ago. The existence of California’s extensive system of reservoirs and canals testifies that at some point, some Californians understood that this is the pattern – and built a lot of reservoirs in an attempt to even it out a bit. That these reservoirs are sometimes near empty is a feature, not a bug. If they were always full, that would mean that precipitation around the state was always orderly and consistent. If they were always full, we wouldn’t need them.

Similarly, the three major rivers in the L.A. basin have been turned into concrete lined storm channels. 100 years ago, Angelinos got tired of having their city washed away about every decade, and so made sure the water from the occasional epic storm had somewhere to go. Most years, there will be more skateboarders than water in those channels. But once in a while…

Calling ‘average’ ‘normal’, so that mundane variation become, not ‘below average’, but ‘abnormal’ simply adds to the atmosphere of panic.

So: for the last year, we’ve been hearing about how California had sunk into an unprecedented drought since the epic rain year of 2016/2017 when, you may recall, 200%+ of average rainfall and snowpack nearly washed out the Oroville Dam. the state’s largest reservoir. That ended the then current unprecedented ‘drought’. Before that, the 2005/2006 epic rain year ended another unprecedented drought. And so on, back through the decades. As one remarkably sane meteorologist put it. there are only a few storms between drought and plenty in California.

How are we doing this year? Glad you asked. According to my crazy spread sheet*:

The at a glance summary section of my spreadsheet. The “gages over %” numbers show how many of the 32 total gages have reached the various arbitrary milestones. I’m just amusing myself.

The real accuracy here is probably more in the range of 10 percentage points, rather than the displayed 1/100th of a percentage point -but where’s the fun in that? So, despite the faux accuracy above, we’re really more like something between 70 and 80% of the season average as of today.

Any still here and not drifting into a coma may be interested in the overall pattern of rainfall over time in Contra Costa County, which I’ve determined from other datasets:

Again, while it would be easy (I do it all the time) to come up with a bunch of reasons why it’s wrong to do the math this way, and wrong to mix data from different sets, and so on, it’s also reciprocally hard to come up with any reasons the number would be very off – a bunch of different people calculating rainfall over many years and over a fairly contained and consistent area are not likely to get significantly different results.

The rain season here stretches from July through the following June. The seasonal pattern is something like this: On average, about 16% of total rainfall falls from July through November; about 10% falls in April, May, and June. The other 74% falls in December, January, February, and March.

Using the above as a baseline, as of the end of December, we get on average about 35% of our season total rainfall. This year, we’re at over 200% of expected average rainfall to date so far, and about 75% of the average seasonal total – with the bulk of the rainy season still to come. The Sierra snowpack, the melting of which following summer replenishes many reservoirs, is in a similar state: about 150% of average to date, about 50% of seasonal average.

So, we can stop worrying about the drought for now? Well – no. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for the rain and snow to just – stop. A near or completely dry month or two or three, even the peak months, happens regularly. It would be a little unusual if, after a very rainy first half of the season, we got a very dry second half – but hardly unprecedented.

Isn’t this all fascinating? No?

The table is set for a nice 200% year, which would shut up the drought doomsayers for a while, at least. Yet, alas, even only 100% isn’t a sure bet at this point. I’ll keep y’all posted.

*The Contra Costa County Flood Control District maintains a set of 32 rain gages spread across the county. These gages are meant to track current rainfall against a set of “critical antecedent conditions” so as to allow predictions of flooding. The tables on the web page are automatically updated every 15 minutes, allowing the obsessive attentive observer to watch the rainfall spread out across the county in almost real time. These gages are situated at various altitudes and terrain, so that the experts at the CCC Flood Control District can see where the water is piling up and where it will go. I misuse these gages to measure broad rainfall totals, doing a series of logically and mathematically dubious sums and calculations in order to arrive at the magic number you see above – EXACTLY 76.93% of expected seasonal rainfall has, well, fallen so far. Riiiight. Summing up rainfall and averages across a range of gages and then dividing to get percentages – not strictly scientific. I also do averages of averages, which also has its shortcomings. BUT – I tell myself – the situation is such that these iffy methods are probably roughly right. I’m not applying for grant money are trying to whip up some panic here – I just like taking a stab at a broader measure of rainfall.

Year-End Update (a little early)

A. First of all, gratitude to all the readers of this blog. Not sure why the beloved 100 readers (on a very good day) come back for more, but thanks. Just know that you’re only encouraging me.

The writing here has come out even more unfocused than my original intent, which was pretty broad. “Culture. Religion. Politics. Science. Philosophy.  Music. Art.” was the original charter 11 years ago. We do do that here, but also a lot of Home Improvement Projects and blithering about the books I intend to write. Which brings us to:

B: The ‘I should write a book about that’ books I’ve worked on here on the blog, ones where I might be qualified to have an opinion, are:

  • A book on the origins of the Catholic schools here in America, and how they have arrived at their current sorry (with very few exceptions) state
  • A more general book about the origins of schooling in America, circa roughly 1700 – 1940. An expose of the clowns and poseurs involved, and the paper-thin fantasy world that constitutes the foundation of all modern ‘scientific’ education.
  • The How to Think About Science book.

Starting with the last one first: as the Crazy Years progress, it’s painfully clear that ignorance of how science works is so far downstream from the real problems as to be all but irrelevant. The best case scenario, where someone reads my book, reexamines his world view, and changes how he thinks about things – sigh. Not happening in the real world.

And it’s not even the rejection of logic, which you have to have at least some grasp of in order to begin to understand how science works. Underlying both logic and the science is the notion that the world makes sense. That the world IS. Our well-schooled contemporaries specifically reject the very idea of shared objective reality in favor of a world willed into being by their own narcissistic selves. That any such world is definitionally inconsistent, and conflicts necessarily with anyone else’s similarly constructed world is not a problem for the dedicated narcissist. That they hold both to the sacredness of people’s self-constructed reality AND bow and scrap before the altar of social and political conformity isn’t a problem – they never expected the world to make sense. It’s Will all the way down.

When my teeth are set on edge by patently anti-science claims of ‘settled science’ and ‘scientific consensus’ or people doing as they are told claiming they are ‘following the science’ which they haven’t read and wouldn’t understand if they did, I imagined the problem was the general lack of scientific literacy, and thought I might be able to help a little by writing a book about basic science.

Silly me.

Therefore, I’ve reconsidered the point of this proposed book, why I would write it and who it is for. I’m reading Kreeft’s Socratic Logic now, and perhaps will write this book as a sort of follow-on with a focus on the specific application of Aristotelian logic used by modern science, insofar as it has any legitimate claim to our acceptance of its conclusions.

So, basically, a high-school level book. (Kreeft’s book is also supposed to be a high school level book, but it’s pretty tough. He, an expert, isn’t leaving much out, and there’s just a lot of logic that’s not obvious or simple. Good, but tough.)

Time frame: Once we’re moved and settled.

The other two books I get bugged by my kids to complete. They’ve heard some of the points I make about schooling from the cradle, and have found them to be true in the world. They’d like there to be a book (or two) summarizing these things. These works have been in the works for years now. It is time.

Time frame: Once we’re moved and settled. I’ve recommenced reading source materials. as evidenced by the last post.

#magnus pyke from Old School Science Fiction

C. Then there are the fun books I’m supposedly writing. Well, I set a goal for this past June for the first of several speculative fiction books I hope to write, and got thousands and thousands of words into them…

But I didn’t finish. May 2021 was when the insanity finally began to get me down. It started taking work to just get on with it, whatever ‘it’ happened to be at the moment. As it became clear I wasn’t going to get any of the spec fic done by June, I got distracted by a musical composition. Why? I have no idea. Writing music and writing stories really are very similar: you get an idea, you pound it into some sort of shape, you write the next part and the next part and so on, sometimes skipping ahead to more fun/clearer ideas, and then backtracking to write the connecting scenes. Then read it out loud/play or sing it, rewrite as needed, then get other people to read/listen, and take their feedback…

And I’ve gotten maybe 5 minutes of a 6-part Gloria written, with a minute or so more to write, plus outlines/sections for a Kyrie and Agnus, and a idea or two for the Sanctus. Haven’t even thought about a Credo yet.

Why I found it possible to write music and not possible to write fiction is anybody’s guess.

Time frame: I’ll keep working on the Mass while we pack up and prep the house; the books I’ll take up again once we’re moved and settled.

D. We gotta get out of this place. We had the house tented a month ago; getting quotes for painters. Spoke with the Pods people, looking to start loading out in January.

Yesterday, picked up 10 bags of ready mix; today used 8 of them to put in what I intend to be the last segment of the vast, endless front yard home improvement brick project. Scaled it well down from the original plans – no grotto, less fancy brickwork. Sigh. Need it simply not to look ugly and unfinished. So, simple wall topped by some redwood lattice.

Aaaaand – a million other things need to be done. Not to mention the final pack what’s left up and get out of Dodge push in a couple months. Then finding a new place to live….

E. In a somewhat round-about way, I’m looking for a job, specifically, seeing if a new Chesterton Academy that is to open near where I’d like to live might hire me to corrupt the minds of our youth, after the fashion of Socrates and Aristotle. And quote a lot of Chesterton. It would be nice to teach, and have a little income.

F. All in all, I’m very grateful, and have gotten past letting myself get too down about the current insanity. For the most part. I used to pray in thanksgiving for getting to live in a land of plenty in a time of peace. Now? I pray that God will remember His promise of mercy, and, for the sake of His Name, for the sake of the Blood shed by His Son, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, He will not judge us as our sins deserve, but rather forgive us yet again. That He will send Mary, who crushes the head of the serpent, Joseph, the terror of demons, and Michael the Archangel to lead the heavenly host down to cast Satan and his minion out of our lives, our nation, and our world, bind them and cast them back into Hell where they belong. Then, that He may grant us the strength to endure whatever we must and the grace to die to ourselves and live only for His Will.

Otherwise, who can stand?

Have a happy and holy Thanksgiving!

An Intrusion of Cockroaches

(Note: not judging people who have been forced, on pain of the loss of their jobs, to get the jab themselves. Rather, asking: where is the line? What will our betters have to demand of us to make us say ‘No.’? We all had better figure that out, and soon! And then say no and take the consequences. There is no elegant and peaceful out.)

There is nothing so horrible, brutal, and cruel that most people will not go along with it, so long as they think their peers are going along with it.

For centuries, at sites all around the Mediterranean, it was customary for infants and children to be sacrificed to the gods. One does not read of the Punic mothers of the infants ‘passed through fire’ to Moloch fighting to the death on the steps of the local tophet trying to save their babies. Instead, one reads of drums being pounded and priest shouting to drown out the screams of the infants being burned alive, lest their fathers go soft and regret their decision.

The parents, being good, loyal citizens and pious worshippers of the gods, did their duty. Life was cheap, even or perhaps especially the lives of helpless babies. Phoenician society – their families, friends, and neighbors – supported them in their decision. There are too many things so much more important than the lives of babies. Think what will happen to us all if the gods are not appeased? You want all that evil to befall us, simply because you are too soft to do the right thing? How selfish!

I hear an echo of this sense of duty in a story told about the Hatfields and McCoys: a son, having been shot and mortally wounded in a retaliation raid on the other family, was carried, screaming in agony, past his mother. She says: “Shut up, and die like a man.” – which he did. Obedient to the last. Motherly love.

Or the story told about how the Nazis “recruited” female prison camp guards. They would round up likely women – farm girls, shopkeepers, the sort of people the Third Reich could spare a few of – and, in large groups, place a Jewish woman in front of them. The candidates were then instructed to strike the Jew as hard as they could. Typically, something like 95 out of 100 would promptly do it. Four would need some cheering on, but would do it eventually. Only about 1 out of 100 would refuse – and get put in the same cattle cars to the same final destination as the Jews.

Women, supposedly the tender sex, would comply with orders to behave bestially toward another helpless woman. The about 3 to 5 out of every 100 who were already sociopaths (those are the numbers ‘experts’ throw around for the incidences of sociopathy) would find their true calling. The rest simply made accommodations in their hearts and minds, noting, first, that the state, the Fatherland, was telling them to do this, and they had been trained from the cradle in good Prussian-style schools that their entire worth lay in their service to the state; second, they did not want to endure the scorn of their betters and peers; and finally, that they didn’t want to die just yet. I think, given the innumerable examples from history, that that last cause is overrated. Fear of being ostracized in enough to turn most people into animals.

It is prudent to boil the frog slowly. The people in charge of the staffing the prison camps were perhaps in a hurry. They weren’t exactly trying to toss frogs into boiling water – they could rely on the decades of schooling by which the prison guard candidates had been softened up. Therefore, they could settle for a 99% success rate, and simple dispose of the occasional unsuccessful candidate.

The one thing they could not allow was for those who refused to comply to live. They must be isolated, at least, lest they, themselves, form a alternate community where not obeying the state is supported.

We, to our credit, needed more care: it took all of 19 months to move from ‘flatten the curve’ to ‘show your papers if you want to work or buy.’ To the cheering of throngs. 19 whole months. And, to our credit, there are still a significant number who have not yielded. But it’s terrifying how many reject plain English and move directly to the Just So stories:

Plain English: the ‘vaccines’ don’t work. They don’t keep you from catching, spreading, or dying from the disease. Therefore, because they don’t work, everybody must be forced to get them.

Just So story: but, but – jumble of words and terms very few who use them can explain or understand! Herd Immunity! Reduced risk! Asymptomatic transfer! Variants! If ALL these things, and a dozen more, are *exactly* as they are said to be, then, maybe – recall this is all theory, there is no history or evidence behind any of it – it would ‘reduce overall risk’ (something nobody using the term understands!) if *everybody* got the jab – that doesn’t work.

Clarity versus noise.

Now days, it seems maybe something like 80%? 85%? of us can be counted on to do exactly as we’re told, and to perform 2-minute hates on command against those who don’t. As anyone who has tried to reason with Normie knows, the reasoning that underlies this behavior is the language of compliance, not of evidence. *What* we are to comply with is not important, merely that we comply. They use the language of authority, which is the antithesis of the language of evidence and science.

The open question here: how much of that 80% is made up of true believers? How many have just slapped the Jewess because the price of not slapping her is too high, but don’t really believe she and her kind are responsible for the growing failure of the war effort? How many have, or soon will, offer up their own children to Moloch, because failure to do so puts you on team Emmanuel Goldstein, cast out of the company of the *good* people, and gets the two-minute hate directed at them – and what is the life of a child compared to that?

The Big Picture

Ed Feser, a very smart man and excellent writer, wrote a piece a couple days ago titled Covid-19 vaccination is not the hill to die on. As usual, it’s all very well thought out and clearly presented, what I’ve come to expect from Dr. Feser. My objections to it have little to do with the points he’s making, but rather from the big picture he assumes, a big picture I utterly reject.

Here’s the Big Picture based in reality: We have repeatedly forgotten. We have used the Memory Hole, and then rewritten what just happened. We suppress the cognitive dissonance with one Just So story after another. Our situation under the endless lockups and mandates, the maskings and travel restrictions, the wanton destruction of a million small businesses, the enforcement of compliance by a million Karens backed by medical, media, and government hacks and sociopaths, is not an environment within which doing as we are told and making seeming rational concessions is going to result in anything positive.

Our situation most closely parallels an abusive boyfriend/enabling girlfriend relationship. We, the abused public, are supposed to believe that it’s our fault, if only we would do exactly what he says, then he’d stop hitting us. And when we bring up his lies, we only get hit some more, so we’d rather believe that his lies are out fault, too, than confront him and get hurt some more. And only people who don’t understand us keep saying it’s his fault, that we have to stop listening to him! No! He’s a good boyfriend! Things will be fine once we learn to do as we’re told!

Dr. Feser chooses to largely ignore this history of lies and manipulation, or pretend they didn’t happen, or were somehow not the official positions, so that he can coolly argue from philosophical principles. Those principles, and his logic, are impeccable. But they are an irrelevant diversion. Implicit is the assumption that, if we just go along with the experimental drug jab, that, somehow, our violent boyfriend will finally calm down and things will be OK. If you keep in mind what has actually happened rather than swallowing the latest Just So story, the questions become: why not this hill? What would the right hill look like? In reality, we KNOW it’s not going to stop on its own, because it hasn’t yet for reasons that change after the fact, over and over. If not now, when?

Spelling it out, since many seem to have forgotten:

A. From the very first, from February and March of 2020 on, everything presented through the press about the SARS-2 outbreak was distorted, if not out and out lies. Every factor that could be used to terrify people was amplified; every factor that mitigated against panic was ignored or lied about. Examples:

  • The experience of Wuhan, where about 1,000 had died as of March, was always presented as if the population of dead people was effectively random, as if anyone could catch SARS-2, suffer severe sudden respiratory distress, and drop dead on the street. In reality, all but a very few of the dead were elderly sickly people. Healthy people were at very slight risk, just as they are now.
  • We all heard about Li Wenliang, the Chinese doctor who, according to the story, tried to warn everybody about SARS-2 in December 2019, then, contracted the disease and died in February – but not before posting a selfie with him on a respirator.* That he was one of very few people, as in single digits, who, in a city of millions, had not been sickly, elderly, or, usually, both before catching the bug was not emphasized.
  • We heard all about the Diamond Princess cruise ship, and the 14 people who, over the months following, died. We didn’t hear about the several thousand people on the ship – most people! – who didn’t even catch the virus, despite near-ideal conditions for spreading it: packed together, nowhere else to go, sharing facilities, breathing the same air. It was not emphasized that all 14 people who died were elderly passengers, that no member of the crew died. What the Diamond Princess demonstrated: that elderly sickly people are at some risk, but that the risk to younger, healthier people is effectively zero.
  • We did not hear about the USS Theodore Roosevelt 24×7, where out of 5,000 crew, only 3 got seriously ill and only one died – and he had underlying heart conditions. Why the one and not the other? We heard only horror stories where everyone was assumed to be at mortal risk; we did not hear about stories where no one reasonably healthy was at much risk at all.

B. Once the Coof spread to Italy, people totally freaked out, again assuming the Coof was something that could kill anybody. The average age of the Italian victims was 81 years old. Almost all the deaths took place in nursing homes – where old, sickly people go to die – or in hospitals – where the seriously sick people are. Nowhere was the overall poor state of Italian healthcare discussed, nor the standard practice under Italian nationalized medicine of rationing by age: old people go to the end of the line in virtually all cases. Once again, the data screams that younger people were at minimal risk.

By the time Covid had spread throughout Europe, the numbers from Wuhan, the Diamond Princess, Iran, USS Theodore Roosevelt, and Italy were readily available to healthcare people and governments. Any cool heads looking at those numbers (and there were thousands of us!) saw the obvious screaming from the numbers: This disease it not a meaningful threat to reasonably healthy people. Old, sick people are at risk. All the numbers that have come out since have confirmed this. Yet, rather than taking rational steps to protect the vulnerable, an entire mythology was created, under which millions of Americans would die if extreme steps to isolate the healthy from each other were not taken.

What this graph shows: People over 75, who have a high overall risk of dying, also have a high overall risk of dying if they catch COVID; that, conversely, if you are under 50, your risk from COVID is, effectively, zero – COVID adds nothing to your overall background risk. (REMINDER: everyone eventually dies of something. Risk is never zero until you are dead.) Also note that this is ‘deaths involving’ and therefore overstates COVID’s lethality. Graphs from anywhere in the world from every stage of the ‘pandemic’ show the same outcomes.

C. The whole idea of lockdowns was sold as ‘flattening the curve’. This is a slightly technical concept: the theory is that, by slowing the spread of a highly contagious disease, we can keep hospitals from being overwhelmed. In other words, millions would die who would have lived if only they had received proper medical care. Note and do not forget this: All the huge projected death numbers used to justify the lockups are based on two assumptions: that Covid was going to inevitably spread like wildfire, and that – IMPORTANT! DON’T FORGET – that Covid is imminently treatable, so that proper treatment circa 2020 would prevent millions of deaths. Thus, lockups would save lives by making sure proper medical treatment was available to those who did contract the virus.

Flattening the curve was said to be important because the *models* show that *most* of the *projected* deaths result, not from simply contracting the disease, but from patients not being treated due to the healthcare system getting overwhelmed. This is important not to forget: the models projected that so many people would get sick and require hospitalization that there would not be enough healthcare capacity to take care of them, that the death toll would rise out of control – the ‘people dying in the streets’ scenario – unless we ‘flattened the curve’. At no point in this argument is there a reduction in people who would die regardless of hospitalization – in a rare nod to reality, the models all assumed there’s a baseline number of people who are going to die no matter what ‘we’ do, it’s only excess deaths caused by lack of hospital capacity that lockdowns to ‘flatten the curve’ address.

DO NOT FORGET THIS! Lockups were justified to flatten the curve. The theory under which this was done does not support or even suggest the idea that lockups would somehow reduce overall deaths except insofar as those deaths resulted from hospitals being overwhelmed.

So, follow the logic: the curve – technically, the area under the curve – represents the number of people who will die no matter what ‘we’ do. “Flattening the curve” means taking steps to prolong the outbreak, so that the number of people who get sick and die at any one time never gets too high for the healthcare system to handle. 15 days is what the models suggest as the ‘right’ amount of time to lockup everybody. After that, lockups merely prolong the outbreak without saving any lives. That’s what the argument, as bodied forth in the models, says.

What happened instead:

  • Lockups were announced across the nation starting in March of 2020.
  • They quickly became indefinite, in direct contradiction to the theory under which they were imposed.
  • At no point anywhere in the nation were any healthcare systems under any real threat of being overwhelmed. The closest was New York, where a navy hospital ship and a National Guard field hospital were deployed, only to never admit a single patient, and, after a few weeks, to be quietly taken down & withdrawn. Side note: and you never heard about this, right?
  • By the end of April, 2020, Covid deaths had fallen to very low levels – but the lockups were not lifted. Never was an objective threshold announced that would trigger the end of the lockups, because no such threshold existed.
  • Locally (Bay Area, CA) the rules for lockdowns were as follows: churches were specifically closed; homeless encampments (of which we have many) were specifically exempted. Because?
  • In April, just as the death numbers were collapsing (just as Spring broke out across the country, and as was widely predicted by those of us who correctly viewed the Coof as another seasonal virus), states around the nation announced a switch to mail-in ballots. On what basis was the now-fading virus assumed to be a threat 7 months out, the kind of threat lockups would prevent?

In sum: lockups – specifically, the lockup of healthy people showing no symptoms of Covid – were imposed under one theory, a theory under which lockups of longer than 15 days were not helpful. Then, somehow, the reasoning changed, or rather, fear led people to accept the extension of the lockups without any logical explanation. Despite the collapse of Covid deaths at the end of April 2020, state governments committed themselves to keeping the Coof lockups in place through elections, by switching to mail in ballots, for which there was no other excuse. REMEMBER THIS.

D. Lies, damn lies, and statistics. From Day 1, the reported numbers around this panic have been nonsense. The media went with whatever sounded scariest, without any regard to what the numbers mean. A partial list:

  • What is a COVID death? Is is counted the same in Wuhan in January as in New York in March or California in 2021? By even talking of death totals across states and across time, let alone talking about cumulative worldwide totals, we are assuming that always and everywhere a COVID death means the same thing. Is this true? In Wuhan and China in general, it seems a Covid death is one where sudden acute respiratory distress resulted in death. That’s certainly what Dr. Wenliang meant by it – that was what he was raising the alarm about back in December of 2019. In the US, since about April of 2020, what the CDC lists is deaths ‘involving’ Covid, which, according to their methodology, is any death where the death certificate lists Covid in either part A – the sequence of events that lead to death – or part B – any contributing factors. Until October of 2020, a diagnosis of Covid was encouraged if the victim showed any 2 symptoms even without a positive test (after October, a positive test was required.) The only two symptoms where Covid differs from the flu are: loss of taste & smell, and sudden acute respiratory distress. Thus, someone in a nursing home, who has a 6-7 month median life expectancy once they are rolled in past the front door, who had a fever and a cough, or had aches and trouble breathing, was to have Covid listed at least in part B regardless of all underlying conditions and without a positive test result. Over half, and perhaps as high as 2/3, of all deaths ‘involving’ Covid have been among nursing home patients; 2/3 have been among elderly people. DON’T FORGET: about 60% of the time (the other 40% are dementia patients, who take longer to die) gramma or dad are in the home because they are dying of something. Having Covid show up as ‘involved’ in their deaths is not what a sane person means by ‘Covid killed them’. Yet these deaths ‘involving’ Covid are routinely reported as Covid deaths, AND rolled in with the deaths in China and the rest of the world as if the numbers represent the same thing.
  • The CFR, or Case Fatality Rate, is still reported as ‘your chances of dying if you get Covid. No. That’s would be the IFR – the Infection Fatality Rate. For an infection that causes NO or MINOR symptoms 98%+ of the time, the difference between the two numbers is likely to be extreme. Here’s why: if I have no symptoms, I’m a lot less likely to seek medical care, get tested, and become a ‘case’. Early on, before the terror set in, somebody with no symptoms was not getting tested; it was very likely somebody with minor symptoms was not getting tested. It’s a guess, but I’d guess that cases are outnumbered by infections by a wide margin: many millions of Americans and people worldwide have been infected, had no or minor symptoms (and acquired a high level of immunity!) but never became cases, because what sort of rabbit goes to the doctor for a cough and a low fever? One that goes away in a day or two and is treatable with Tylenol? Very sick people are thus overrepresented in case numbers, meaning the case fatality rate significantly overstates lethality.
  • Put the two together: deaths ‘involving’ Covid divided by ‘cases’ = CFR. Deaths ‘involving’ seriously overstate what a normal sane person means by ‘died from’; cases understate infections. Getting all basic math here: the CFR thus overstates risk. That’s how people have come to think they have a 1.7% (the current number off the CDC website) of dying if they get the Coof.
  • As of last week, about 435 Americans under 18 have had their deaths attributed to Covid – had deaths ‘involving’ Covid. There are between 70 and 75 million such kids in America. Vastly more have died of pneumonia than have had their deaths attributed to Covid. Is this information, available right off the CDC website, widely known? Why not? Why are we even talking about giving an experimental drug to kids who are at microscopic risk?

Note: these are the official numbers readily available from the CDC or John Hopkins. If you look at the numbers reported through the press (and then referenced by political hacks), it gets much worse. One recent example: Apoorva Mandavelli is an award-winning science reporter. She recently reported:

  • Over 900,000 kids had been hospitalized since Covid broke out. Correction: actual number was over 63,000. Ms. Mandavelli was off by a factor of 15.
  • Sweden and Denmark had started offering single doses of the Moderna ‘vaccine’ to children. Correction: Sweden and Denmark had halted the use of the Moderna ‘vaccine’ for children.
  • The FDA is meeting next week to authorize the Pfizer/BioNTech ‘vaccine’ for children. Correction: this issue will be discussed next month.

Note what’s going on here, and in similar ways in a limitless number of other examples: Basic information that 5 minutes of googling around could get good, properly sourced confirmation for is instead reported without sources on Page 1 and then ‘corrected’ on some back page. The errors only go in one direction:

  • 900,000 versus 63,000. Where did the 900,000 number come from? People should get fired over this level of incompetence, instead of receiving ‘science’ ‘journalism’ awards. (Also note no context is provided – that 63,000 number over 19 months is completely mundane, the sad but simple reality that a certain number of kids end up in the hospital every year.)
  • The Swedish and Danish governments published some announcement about their policies regarding use of the Moderna ‘vaccine’ for children – right? Otherwise, where did this ‘information’ come from? How could an award winning ‘journalist’ get something so basic so wrong?
  • Again, the FDA scheduling a discussion of using the Pfizer/BioNTech ‘vaccine’ on children has to have come from some official notice somewhere, almost certainly available online. How could an award winning ‘journalist’ get something so basic so wrong?

In all three cases, the ‘errors’ favor panic: huge numbers of children are being hospitalized! Sweden and Denmark are jabbing children! The FDA is rushing a meeting to approve jabbing children! OH NO!!!! I have yet to see an error made in the other direction.

E. Following ‘the Science’. Let’s say I was telling you about a baseball game I saw where the home team was down 19 runs in the bottom of the 9th, when 20 consecutive batters hit home runs on 20 consecutive pitches to pull out the victory. Or that I’m a lawyer who came across a case in the morning, had it heard at noon, appealed, and had the appeals court rule in the afternoon, appealed again and was heard by the Supreme Court that evening. Do those scenarios sound plausible? The more you know about baseball and our legal system, the less plausible they seem, if utterly ridiculous implausibility can be called less plausible.

So, to pick one example: within days of the beginning of masking mandates, we were being told that 70 studies had confirmed that masking slows the spread of Covid. Now, those of us familiar with how real science works saw immediately that the very idea that 70 studies could be conceived of, spelled out in sufficient detail to perform, funded, and executed, then undergo the criticism and review essential to science, all within a few months or weeks, AND that all 70 of those studies reached the same conclusion, is every bit as unlikely as 20 consecutive home runs in the bottom of the 9th or getting the Supreme Court to hear your case on the same day you first filed it. In other words, completely laughable.

Yet, in this and in all other cases involving Covid, raising any question about any study or report presented as ‘the science’ immediately got one labelled a crack pot, a denier, and, ultimately, a *terrorist*!

We few who are scientifically literate, who know that only con men and frauds tell you to ‘follow the science’ without having reviewed and understood the evidence first, have been protesting in vain since Day 1 of this preposterous panic. No, the ‘science’ has not shown:

  • That Covid is particularly deadly to the vast bulk of people. Rather, it is a threat to shorten the lives of those already dying of something else – people in nursing homes, for the leading example. Otherwise, to everyone else, it is not even as deadly as the common flu.
  • That lockups, masking, social distancing, and travel restrictions of healthy people, and the destruction of millions of small businesses, are somehow necessary to prevent millions of deaths.
  • That asymptomatic people are a significant disease vector. This is a *theory* for which there is precious little *evidence*, yet all lockups, masks, social distancing, travel restrictions of healthy people are based on it.
  • That ‘vaccinating’ children protects anybody. Kids are at effectively zero risk (as close to zero as bitter reality allows) so the jab doesn’t protect them, and since asymptomatic transfer has not been shown to be a serious problem, all we are doing by giving kids the jab is allowing old people to imagine they are safer while putting kids at risk of side effects.
  • That the lingering effects of Covid are any worse than the lingering effects of pneumonia.

And so on. The absolute horrific face of satanic anti-science: attempting to use government force to silence critics. No, no, a thousand times no! Criticism is not optional in science! Any claim must, as in MUST, have the evidence supporting it presented to the scrutiny of adversarial critics, and answer their objections. Then, and only then, is any claim considered to have been supported by science – and even then, such claims are conditional and tentative. That’s how science works. The very idea of authority apart from evidence, of ‘scientific consensus’, is a certain sign con men and frauds are at work. ‘Expertise’ counts for exactly nothing – evidence is everything.

F. Just So stories. At every point, in the unlikely event anyone even notices that the story has changed and that our leaders have contradicted themselves, out roll the Just So stories to explain away the contradiction so that we can continue to panic. It has become an art form – raise the obvious contradiction inescapably embedded in the various panic claims, and no intelligence is spared in coming up with an story that explains the contradiction away. A few examples:

  • When Fauci at first said masks for the general public were not a good idea, and then changed to saying that masks were absolutely necessary, he told the following Just So story – he had to lie to us the first time for our own good, so that medical professionals could get all the masks they needed, and only when supplies for the medical profession were secured, did he dare tell everybody to mask up. DO NOT FORGET THIS. Fauci has stated as a principle that he will lie to us for our own good. AND because we little people are not allowed to question the claims of our self-appointed betters, our own good is exactly and only what Fauci says it is. If he feels it is for our own good that we stay panicked, then he will – by his own admission – lie his ass off to keep us panicked. These are the people we are trusting for information, indeed, we are officially ‘terrorists’ if we fail to trust them!
  • That asymptomatic people are a serious threat to spread Covid. On the off chance that we notice that there’s no good evidence this is true, we are told the Just So story that it might be true, there are anecdotes, and thus we need to act as if it is true, otherwise we are putting everybody at risk. Thus, the need for those restricting our rights to provide the evidence is reversed: they can restrict our rights unless we provide evidence that they shouldn’t – and they are the sole judges of all evidence. We’re simply ‘terrorists’ if we don’t go along.
  • That the same measures that have utterly failed to end the ‘pandemic’ have somehow ended the flu. Flu deaths have all but disappeared worldwide since March, 2020. The obvious explanation: since the flu and Covid have almost exactly the same symptoms, flu deaths have been misattributed to Covid. The Just So story: the same masks, socials distancing and lockups that have failed to stop one airborne respiratory virus – Covid – have miraculously stopped another airborne respiratory virus of the same size that uses exactly the same vectors. 20 homers in the bottom of the 9th!
  • That the claim that Covid can be successfully treated REQUIRED by the flatten the curve argument doesn’t disprove the complete lack of any good treatments that is the sole justification for the rushed approval of the ‘vaccines’ and the subsequent mandates. If I can’t be saved from Covid by routine medical care, then ‘flattening the curve’ doesn’t work; if routine medical care can save me, then vaccines are not needed. I can just hear the Just So stories being generated to explain this away. Reality: we were being told whatever story was believed to trigger enough panic so that we would comply with restrictions of our rights. When lockups were being justified, one set of stories; now that vaccines are being mandated, another set of stories.

There is plenty more to be said, but I’m stopping here for now. Bottom line: REMEMBER. REFUSE TO MEMORY HOLE INCONVENIENT TRUTHS. We have been lied to over and over again. We have been manipulated and abused. Notice that I didn’t even discuss here whether the experimental drugs being mandated are safe and effective. I merely point out that the people who insist that we get them in order to travel, to socialize, to buy and sell, to live a life not as a cockroach ARE THE SAME PEOPLE WHO HAVE LIED TO US OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

Therefore, for me, this ‘vaccine’ mandate is the hill to die on, as is this latest masking command. I will not comply. Dr. Feser’s logic is impeccable; his implied premises – that we are dealing with sane people with good intentions – is, frankly, crazy. We are not dealing with people of good intent. We are the abused girlfriend. Nothing we do is going to appease our crazy, abusive boyfriend. He has no intention of reforming. He like things just they way they are, where he gets to bully and belittle and gaslight us. If you disagree, please state the objective, measurable events (that make any objective sense) that would cause our leaders to announce an end to the Covid panic. Well? I’ll wait.

* In a fashion that could not have been any more striking or convenient, the heroic young doctor with the pregnant wife stands up to the Communist government, gets censured and threatened for spreading panic, then becomes one of the very few healthy people who dies of Covid – but only after posting pictures of himself in a lovely state-of-the-art hospital room wearing a respirator. Please note: in reality, Wuhan is a third world hell-hole, slums and tenements and poverty everywhere, where the likelihood of any sickly elderly commoners getting admitted to anything like the room in the doctor’s selfie is zero. But it makes for good propaganda.

Education History Book Review: Shield’s Making and Unmaking of a Dullard

Thomas Shields (1862-1921), a priest and doctor of psychology at Catholic University of America, wrote his Making and Unmaking of a Dullard in 1909. Although written in the form of a dialogue taking place at weekly dinner parties over the course of months, it is universally considered his autobiography. As a dialogue, it is a resounding failure: no one besides the author comes off any deeper than a cardboard cutout, nor contributes much of anything except leading questions that simply interrupt the flow of Shields’s story.

Archive.org is wonderful

This book reinforces an impression long held: the central figures in American education history are, almost without exception, unimaginative mediocrities. Horace Mann or William Torey Harris would, I imagine, bore one to tears ov er a beer, if they every did something so common; Shields comes off as precisely the sort of academic Silence Dogood or Mark Twain would have a field day with. The one exception, whose native brilliance sometimes shines through his prose, is, alas, a force for evil. John Dewey is a sharp dude, and a horror. Other intelligent men, like Brownson and Hecker, merely wrote about education without being crowned as ‘educationists’. And they have their own issues.

Back to Shields. Here is the list of participants in the dialogue, with as much as I can glean about their personalities and roles:

  • Mr. O’Brien – the host?
  • Mrs. O’Brien – The O’Briens make obvious statements or ask obvious questions
  • Miss Russell/Miss Ruth – model teacher in the Lee School; “eminently qualified to enlighten us on the characteristic features of the modem school- room.” She provides the latest news on education trends.
  • Judge Russell – her father? A judge, who also had a horrible experience in school but overcame it to become a judge. A gruff, elderly voice. O’Brien announces at the beginning that Judge Russell will need to keep the peace between the next two characters.
  • Dr. Studevan – Shields
  • Professor Shannon – Shields’s adversary, I guess. He provides the current wisdom, and reads articles from magazines. Maybe the Simplicio of the scene?

Bottom line: except for the O’Briens, each of these characters delivers a brief monologue or two early in the festivities, makes a few remarks, then, essentially, disappears half-way through. I never once wondered what the Judge or Shannon was going to say about anything – they, and all the characters, are, effectively, furniture.

One fascinating thing: complaints made about the schools in 1909 sound oddly modern. For example, Shannon quotes at length from G. Stanley Hall: *

“Many of the boys, especially in the upper classes of the high schools, are so out-numbered that they are practically in a girls’ school, taught by women at just that age when vigorous male control and example are more needed than at any other time of life. The natural exuberance of the boy is often toned down, but if he is to be well virified later, ought he not in the middle teens, and later, to be so boisterous at times as to be rather unfit for constant companionship with girls ? Is there not something wrong with the high school boy who can truly be called a perfect gentleman, or whose conduct and character conform to the ideals of the average unmarried female teacher? Boys need a different discipline, moral regimen, atmosphere, and method of work. Under female influence certainly — as, alas, too often under that of the male teacher — form now always tends to take precedence over content. The boy revolts at much method with meager matter, craves utility and application. Too often, when the very germs of his manhood are burgeoning, all these instincts are denied, and he is compelled to learn the stated lessons which every one else in the country is learning at his age, to work all day with girls.”

“the February number of Munsey’s

I think this is meant to be a dig at Shields, as he was (I think – have to look through the notes) a major proponent of women teachers, which would mesh with the weird otherwise content-free adversarial relationship between Shannon and Shields. Also, it’s worth remembering that American ‘educationists’ had only recently managed to sell the idea of high school for everyone. 15 or 20 years earlier, few would be talking about high school age boys not getting enough exposure to manly-men in school, because teen age boys weren’t in school for the most part.

Back to Shields. His laboriously-told story is that, at the age of 9, his teacher judged him unfit for any academic pursuits, labeled him ‘Studevan’s omadhaun’ (an Irish term meaning fool) and sent him home to work on the farm. Shields’s says that he had learned how to read and perform the multiplication tables, but had merely been advanced too far – he couldn’t quite manage the 3rd Reader, had been humiliated and terrified into a silence he could not overcome. Thus, from age 9 to 16, interrupted briefly at age 13 by another failed attempt at school, he stayed home and worked on the farm. He forgot almost all the math and reading he had learned, and accepted the judgement of his teacher and family: he was simply a dullard, incapable of any intellectual achievement.

As he entered his 16th year, a slowly-developing sense that he wasn’t so dumb after all accelerated. Farm work left a lot of time for thought, and he tried to figure out the various measures used on the farm, and the working of the farm equipment. Finally, he became obsessed with building a stump-puller based on his understanding of how levers and pulleys worked, secretly modified an abandoned machine to that end, snuck it out to the fields when his family was at Mass – and yanked up some stumps.

Now convinced that he could at least become a mechanic, he began to pursue knowledge, recovering his ability to read, and, I suppose, the rest is history. At least, this is where the story ends.

Early in the story, the interlocutors discuss how the dullard – by which they seem to mean any child uninterested or incapable of doing as they are told – is the bane of all teachers. Miss Russell and Professor Shannon read or recite statistics and stories illustrating the appalling frequency of dullards – half of NYC kids, for example, were, in modern terms, not performing to grade level. Shannon generously points out that a huge percentage of those kids are immigrant children trying to learn English at the same time they are trying to keep up in school, but allows that, even so, there a lot of idiots out there.

Finally, the create something of a taxonomy of dullards. They identify 7 ways a kid can become an idiot:

  • heredity,
  • disease,
  • environment,
  • malnutrition,
  • defective senses,
  • fright,
  • alternating phases of physical and mental development

I don’t know anyone who would argue that the first 6 causes are not real, and, in the story, no one disputes them. Note here that Shields creates a single class – dullards – into which he puts all kids who are not cooperative or responsive in school. The nearsighted and hard of hearing are classed with the bored and violent, and the truly mentally deficient, and so on. But Shields is not interested in the first 6 causes because they do not apply to him, and so they are not developed at all. Instead, we focus on his pet theory: that kids alternate phases of physical and mental development, and that trying to get a kid to learn when he’s in a phase of physical development is futile and injurious. Pardon the long quotation, part of which I’ve already quoted in my earlier preliminary review – here is Shields explanation of his theory:

“A full explanation of this physiological phenomenon, Judge, would involve a treatise on the physiology of the nervous system, but stripped of technicalities the important facts in the case are these. All vital functions are controlled by nerve currents. The quality and quantity of every secretion, as well as body temperature, respiration, and the circulation of the blood, depend upon appropriate nerve currents. And not only this, but the nutrition and growth of every organ and gland, of every cell in the body, are dependent upon the same source. A broken bone, for instance, if it be deprived of its proper nerve supply, will never heal.

“On the other hand, the process of mental development, as indeed all the phenomena of consciousness, rest upon high tension nerve currents in the cerebral cortex. Now, it frequently happens that a boy or girl grows very rapidly for a few years, during which period the physical organism makes such demands upon the nerve energy that the cortical tension is lowered and there is not sufficient nerve energy left to carry on the work of rapid mental development.

“We all know how injurious it is, for example, to indulge in mental work immediately after eating a hearty meal. When food enters the stomach it originates nerve impulses that draw the blood away from the brain for use in the processes of digestion. If brain activity be indulged in at this time, the blood is withdrawn from the viscera and forced into the brain under an increased pressure to furnish the required nerve energy and thus the digestive process is delayed and sometimes the digestive apparatus itself is injured.

“Now, we have a similar conflict going on between mental and physical development. It seldom happens that during childhood and youth the balance is preserved between the growth and development of the body and the growth and development of the mental processes. The extent to which this balance is disturbed and the length of time that each phase continues varies within wide limits.”

“If you exclude the children who have become dullards through any one of the six causes just enumerated, and arrange the children in any third or fourth grade room in accordance with their physical development, you will find them fairly well classified inversely as their mental capacity, that is, the brightest children will be the smallest and the largest children will be the dullest. Here and there puzzling exceptions to this rule will be found, but these are not sufficient to obscure the general truth.

“The eagerness and ambition of the smaller children, coupled with their quickness of movement, indicate high cortical tension. If these children are constantly over stimulated, as frequently happens, their physical development may be retarded for some years. In extreme cases they are to be found among those children whom over-fond mothers are in the habit of regarding as too bright or too good for this world. Less aggravated cases not infrequently result in permanent invalidism. This is particularly true of girls when the period of over stimulation is carried beyond the twelfth or the fourteenth year. If these precocious little ones escape disease and death from over stimulation they will finally reach a time in which the balance swings in the opposite direction and physical development, so long retarded, sets in with unusual rapidity. The ensuing mental phase is characterized by lack of energy which to the uninstructed is pure laziness.

“If the pupils are at this time entrusted to incompetent teachers the discouragement into which they fall is likely to degenerate into permanent dullness from which they make no further effort to escape. And thus it happens that precocious children are seldom heard from in after life. I am quite convinced, however, that when the precociousness is not due to inherited or acquired disease this result may be prevented by competent teachers. But in the present condition of our schools the chances of permanent success are much better where the physical development of the child is in the ascendant during the early years of school life. Here the danger to health from over stimulation is avoided and when at last the processes of physical development begin to slow up, if the discouragement is not too deep, mental life may awaken to a new vigor.

“Either extreme, however, is difficult to manage and may prove dangerous in the hands of incompetent or careless teachers. A balance between the two processes of development is the safest and may be considered the condition of typical children. The development of these children should accordingly determine the work of the grade and their condition should form the ideal towards which the teacher should constantly strive to lead the developmental processes in the atypical children.”

CHAPTER V – Alternating Phases of Physical and Mental Development

Recall that Shields is a professor of psychology at Catholic University of America, under Fr. Edward Pace, founder of the Psychology department at that school, and a student of Wilhelm Wundt. To quote Wikipedia:

A survey published in American Psychologist in 1991 ranked Wundt’s reputation as first for “all-time eminence” based on ratings provided by 29 American historians of psychology. William James and Sigmund Freud were ranked a distant second and third.[6]

So the ‘scientific’ stylings of Shields are by no means some outlier – he’s but one step removed from the greatest psychologist of his age. It would be straightforward, if a bit time-consuming and tedious, to, you know, *test* those theories of his, after the manner of actual scientists, plenty of whom were contemporaneously extant. But psychologists prefer insight, after the manner of Hegel and Marx – you just *know* what’s what, because you’ve thought about it at and you’re just so smart and enlightened. Rather than examining those perplexing outliers – guys like me, who have always been among the largest and quickest children in any classroom I’ve ever been in – indeed, rather than setting up any sort of systematic approach to examining his assumptions, Shields just runs with it. He concludes – and keep in mind, he is among the most influential ‘educationists’ in American history – teachers need to retard the progress of – dumb down – the smart kids in order to save them from the all but inevitable sickness, death, or at least invalidism, that will inevitably result from letting them study what they want.

The key aspects here:

  • Highly trained teachers are essential
  • Constant monitoring of students is essential
  • Any error in technique can have devastating consequences
  • Graded classrooms are essential
  • The average student’s learning capacity (within a graded classroom) is the standard to which all students will be held.
  • Exceeding that standard is as bad or worse than falling beneath it
  • All of the above are Science!(tm)

How about, just for kicks, another set of conclusions from the same data Shields presents?

  • Schooling from age 9 to 16 is unnecessary – Shields got none, and he became an elite professor at an elite university
  • Better to grow up on a farm and do useful work than go to school.
  • If you skip 7 years of schooling, you can catch up in a matter of months.

Shields does have Shannon Simplicio point much of this out, only so that he can mock him and (very unconvincingly) shoot it down.

It is from men like Shields and thinking like this that modern schooling has been built.

Next up: F. V. N. Painter’s Luther on education; including a historical introduction, and a translation of the reformer’s two most important educational treatises (1889). About half-way through. All I can say: if you want to understand why Catholics wanted nothing to do with public schools, Mr. Painter will explain it to you.

* Hall is another 19th – early 20th century psychologist, the usual mixture of eugenics fanatic and ‘educationist’. Then as now, psychology, perhaps even more than other academic fields, attracts nuts and mediocrities who, enabled by education and certification, are then hellbent on telling saner, happier people how to live.