19th Century Optimism

Whenever I read most anything from the 19th century, or about the 19th century written before WWI, I’m dazzled by the frankly insane levels of optimism. People, at least the people doing the bulk of the writing in English, seemed to truly believe, to the point of taking it for granted, that people were simply going to create an earthly paradise soon and very soon.

And it hardly matters what their religious beliefs were. Protestants, Catholics, atheists all seem to agree that Utopia was right around the corner. From my education reading, Hecker and Brownson, two prominent Catholics, though America would lead the way. While perhaps not exactly heretics of the Americanism flavor, they both had at least one toe on the line. Both, in different ways, subtly and not so subtly dismissed the two millennia of the Church’s experiences with the intransigence of human nature. Nope, America was different, and if we’d just make more room for the Spirit (Hecker) or trust in God’s revelation of His plan in America (Brownson, at least some of the time), everything would soon be right as rain!

19th century Marxists, who thought of themselves as atheists but really worshipped a jealous god too mystical and gnostic for any Christian, believed that the Workers Paradise was happening any day now. Prior to the Russian Revolution, it was possible to pretend it would arrive without too much violence and bloodshed – and so they so pretended.

And the Puritan and their Unitarian children – Chesterton, for one such child – seemed to hold to two mutually contradictory ideas both pointed toward Utopia: On the one hand, the Unitarian emotional world seemed strongly inclined to a niceness solution. Everybody play nice, and things will be fine. On the other, the Puritan conviction was that everything will be fine, as long as we’re in charge. If things aren’t fine, it’s because we’re not in charge. (These two notions have long been merged into the dominant post-modern idea: playing nice means doing exactly as we, your betters, tell you. But that’s another essay.)

Only rarely does one run across a Msgr. Benson, who warns of the spiritual downside of such a manmade Paradise. He wrote in 1906, when it was still possible to believe that Socialism would solve all the merely human problems.

Instead of Paradise, we got both 1984 and a Brave New World. For now, and only after the Utopian optimists had gotten millions killed in wars and purges.

Chesterton himself came around to view optimism of this sort as insane and evil. The evils of modern, circa 1930, optimists and pessimists was something he seemed never to tire of exposing..

As a post-modern writer – or whatever it is I am – the optimism of the 19th century seems plain insane.

At the Walk for Life

In the other direction.

This year, I am leading my school in the walk for life. Almost all the students came and a whole bunch of parents came, plus our Chaplain.

This year, a small group of counter protesters showed up at the plaza where the march begins. Their message: the church doesn’t decide, the state doesn’t decide, the people decide! So 20 screeching harpies represent the people, while tens of thousands of walkers do not. Incapable of cognitive dissonance.

Anyway, so far so good. Another half mile to go.

At Least 3 in 1. Plus, a Weather Update

Blogs, that is. I started this blog lo these many years ago (11? 12?) to have a place to put criticisms of modern science, how it is conducted and reported. I’ve had the horror of watching all the worst trends in science and science reporting converge and amplify to produce mass hysteria, panic, and gross political manipulation. We’re all gonna die! Eventually! Of something!

Plus random social and religious commentary. That would be Blog #1. Then there’s education history and the social commentary associated with that. That’s become a larger part over time, although opportunity and interest come and go. Need to get on this.

Finally, are my feeble attempts at humor and writing, music projects, home improvement projects, and on and on.

I do plan to split off a strictly writing blog as soon as I get stuff ready to publish (no, really! This time, for sure!). Under a nom de plume, via a VPN, on a Linux box, from a secure location. This would be stuff I hope to make money on, and so need to play nice.

For the education and science stuff, I guess I’ll keep it here until I can’t. So, two blogs is the goal, if you can call it that. For now.

On the weather front, we did get 5 inches of rain over about 48 hours, over 6” in 5 days. Some places got a little less, higher elevations a lot more. I made the briefest check into what the media was saying – I’ll shower with soap and pumice later – and, as usual, they were playing this as some sort of epic disaster.

Sorry to disappoint – nothing much unusual happened. 5 inches of rain, high winds, some trees go down, some people lose power, a few mudslides – same old same old. The only thing really unusual – storms like this, which happen every few years, don’t often happen in October. Much more a December through March thing. I’m sure that this week’s storm of the century will be forgotten by next week.

On the plus side, last year’s season total rainfall was 40% of average. This one storm put us over 35% for the season, with the rainy months still ahead of us. Yes, out here in sunny California, 6” of rain is over 1/3 of season average.

There are no more storms forecast for the next couple weeks, but we’ve already got more than we average through December. All this really means is the panic mongers will switch to something else. I am not willing to taint myself any further to check what nonsense is being reported, but I can guess: climate change! I’ve already read how this storm doesn’t really end the threat of wildfires, which only an idiot would say: landscape soaked with 6” of rain in less than a week don’t burn too good, especially with temperatures not getting much out of the 60s. Idiots gotta idiot, I guess.

More Family Humor

We were sitting around discussing the possibility of buying some land and building houses for us and the kids on it. I used the term ‘compound’ which didn’t go over well with younger daughter. “That is what it would be called,” I replied, “I won’t be writing a manifesto or anything “ She suggested ‘homestead’ which I objected to because it’s wrong – we’re not going to be homesteading.

Youngest son suggested we call our fantasy future digs a “fun size gated community.”


Pumping the Brakes, Replenishing the Supply

Too disgusted to look up this stuff again, so, mostly from memory, roughly: (I’ll list a few caveats in a note below)

  • About 0.5% of Americans are institutionalized in nursing homes. With a US population of about 332 million, that’s about 1.7 million people.
  • Nursing home residents have a median life expectancy of around 6 months. The 2.2 year average (not median) you often see comes from dementia patients, who make up about 45% of nursing home residents and typically live 5-10 years or more once incarcerated.
  • A little math: with a median life expectancy of 6 months, the non-dementia nursing home patient population of about 900,000 turns over about twice a year – that’s 1.8 million deaths per year in nursing homes in the normal, sad, course of things. That means that about 2/3 0f the annual 3 million deaths in the US are from seriously ill people in long-term (sic) care.
  • About 2/3 of deaths attributed to COVID are in nursing homes.
nursing home | Definition & Facts | Britannica

Above: How people who never go to nursing homes might like to imagine them. The existence of the burgeoning field of nursing home neglect lawyers suggests otherwise. And that was a trend before the Coof.

US deaths attributed to COVID peaked first in April, 2020, then fell off dramatically, only to peak a second time in December, 2020 – January 2021, then fell off a cliff. What if – just to toss a hypothetical out there – that 2/3 of all deaths attributed to COVID that take place in nursing homes was due, rather, to the removal of all independent oversight of nursing home care? Nobody but the ‘professionals’ and their terrified minimum wage staff get to routinely see nursing home patients. These are people who know that all they are doing is, at best, keeping grandma comfortable for the last few weeks and months of her life. When nobody else is checking, what’s the harm in speeding it along a little? Who wants to keep changing that diaper, or cleaning those bedsores? What’s the harm in upping the morphine dose? An IV is more convenient to me than having to spend 20 minutes getting gramps to drink a cup of water.

This is not to say COVID isn’t a nasty respiratory bug – to about .05% of the population. It’s just that, people being people, and some people being sociopaths, locked down nursing homes are a perfect place to speed along the inevitable outside anyone’s purview. So old uncle Bill dies in 3 months instead of 6 – big deal. Makes my life as a nursing home doctor or administrator easier, and the extra COVID care money is nice. To imagine this isn’t what’s happening, or at least a large part of what’s happening, strikes me as horribly naïve.

California is still a face diaper state, with only marginal ‘loosening’ of the house arrest/suspension of the right to freedom of assembly rules, but other states have ‘opened up’. I repeat the one prediction I’m sticking to: our betters will never surrender the power to lock us up, deny us the basic right of doing what we want to do, and placing infantile symbolic restrictions on us. And here’s one way it can be done:

Since the non-dementia population of nursing homes cycles through on an average of 6 months or so, the backlog of potential COVID victims is restocked, as it were, twice a year. The weaker inmates are going to go first, by and large, then the death rate will fall back to normal or below as the stronger weaken and die more in line with long-term trends. But then a new load of patients are incarcerated, and the process can repeat again.

For maximum compliance, rules cannot be rational nor consistently applied. Arbitrary rules are best. Think of animal training or schools, insofar as those two can be distinguished. All the key rules, the breaking of which gets you into immediate trouble, are completely arbitrary. For animals, it’s stay until I say you can go, it’s sit, stand, roll over – for no reason except I say so. In schools, it’s bells, lines, grade segregation, permission slips – for no reason except I say so. That’s how you make the training really stick: keep the trainee guessing, desperate to know what it is you want NOW. If the rules made sense, then a dog or a kid wouldn’t need to hang on the trainer’s every word – they could figure it out. So rules are by design arbitrary.

Enforcement is equally arbitrary. Sometimes, a teacher will go ballistic if kids don’t get in line or talk in class; other times, a teacher will let it slide. Often, it’s the same teacher. This is designed to remove reason from the equation, to keep kids (and dogs) anxious and insecure. The only difference: good dog trainers do all this so that the dog can be happy in his role in the ‘pack’. The unhappiness of school kids is meant to be permanent.

Our betters will pump the brakes on COVID rules and enforcement. I’m playing the game now of seeing how far ignoring the rules will be allowed to go. So far, California and our county mostly go soft on enforcement unless someone makes a big deal out of it – that must not be allowed. As long as I don’t get confrontational, it seems I can do almost whatever I want. The bigger stores and churches are still scared Karen will turn them in. Otherwise, people seem pretty cool. But I expect this to change with the next ‘wave’. Because that’s how this works.

Death rates from COVID – attributed deaths ‘involving’ the Coof, per the CDC – have bottomed out over the last few months. We are approaching 6 months since the end of the last ‘wave’ – our nursing homes should be fully reloaded with soon-to-die patients within the next couple months. Unless nursing homes are reopened to everyone who wants to visit, which is very unlikely, I expect another ‘wave’ starting – well, whenever convenient starting in about August. Maybe they’ll wait for late fall, the traditional beginning of the peak of deaths in the US. The next wave will start whenever politically expedient. The state’s new power to restrict or remove our rights and freedom will never be surrendered voluntarily.

Note: Caveats to any numbers about nursing homes:

  1. What qualifies as a nursing home and what doesn’t was not at all clear when I tried to figure it out months ago. A large range of facilities, from hospices to rehab, might conceivably fall under the term.
  2. Is the definition of a nursing home the same from place to place and over time? Also unclear, but almost certainly not.
  3. What if someone is released from a nursing home to some sort of hospice care? When they die, how is that counted? I imagine this is unlikely in the age of the Kung Flu, but can’t be sure.
  4. Are nursing home patients sent to hospitals when they need more intense medical care? If they then die in the hospital, is that counted as a nursing home death or a hospital death?

I can’t see a way to get numbers about nursing homes about which I’m very confident. Nursing homes are ubiquitous, and people are generally sent there to die – that much is clear.

You Guys Are Lovely

In the midst of the despondency and despair tempting the children of light in this land of darkness, my Faithful Readers took an active, in terms of comments to the last post, interest in what I’m making for the family for Christmas Dinner. I’m touched, you guys are great. Therefore, instead of my usual doom and gloom:

Merry Christmas! And a Happy New Year!

Since you’re dying to know: First off, even more than usual, there will be several feasts over the holidays. I may be able to work some of the generous suggestions into the future dinners, but the Christmas Day one is now pretty much set. This year, our beloved elder daughter and her husband just moved into a house they bought in Sacramento. Yes, crazy kids these days, in their mid-20’s, have saved up enough to buy a freaking house in CALIFORNIA 5 months into their new life of wedded bliss. Our daughter has always been preternaturally responsible; if my new son in law were any more responsible, I’d have a dadgasm and die. Anyway: since they are living amidst dust and boxes at the moment, we all agreed that we’d cook up a dinner and show up on Christmas afternoon, to kick off the new digs proper-like.

Then, a few days later, Middle Son and HIS NEW, AS OF YESTERDAY, FIANCE arrive from New England by way of Alabama. So, we’ll do something again. Then, we try to do Epiphany as big as Christmas, because it is. Three pending feasts and counting.

So, for feast #1 at Elder Daughter’s house: Got a nice 5 lbs lamb roast AND about 3 lbs of wild-caught salmon at Costco. Menu will include The Usual: mashed potatoes, gravy, peas, homegrown sweet potatoes in some form, salad, homemade bread. Dessert will include cheesecake – my specialty – as well as assorted pies – wife’s specialties. I suspect son-in-law’s Napa connections (his home town) will supply the libations.

We have a local produce market that caters to ethnic cooking – ideal. I was there to grab a variety of apples – a very nice lady I knew back in New Mexico made the best apple pies, so I asked her what she did. Her rules:

  1. Make the crust from the recipe off the Crisco can
  2. use fresh cinnamon and nutmeg
  3. use a variety of apples

And that works. Classic straight up apple pie. So I always get a collection of apple varieties, favoring old school varieties like Braeburn and Granny Smith, and avoiding ‘delicious’ varieties, Gala, and Fuji on principle.

For reasons unknown, this produce market has a fishmonger attached. After (of course) buying the on sale but still dear salmon at Costco, I spot huge farmed salmon at this market at $7 lbs. Picked up a 5 lbs roast, threw it in the freezer. So, that will be featured at some point.

More updates as events warrant. Meanwhile,

Song of Angels Bouguereau - /holiday/Christmas/religious ...
My man Bouguereau comes through again.
Georges de La Tour - Oblates of St. Joseph
De la Tour. An early master of lighting effects.
Floaty Glowy Baby Jesus
The Nativity Painting by El Greco Domenico Theotocopuli
El Greco. Love Mary as a Spanish lady.
More El Greco. He paints souls.

For the Record…

I will not be taking any COVID vaccine for many years, if ever, and recommend no one take it, either. Because:

  • If it were possible to create effective vaccines against constantly mutating airborne respiratory viruses, we’d all get a one-time flu & cold shot and be done with it. Big Pharma would be highly motivated by the billions they would make on such a vaccine, if it were possible to make it. But we don’t, and nobody has done it. I will believe it when I see it, as in, years of evidence from disinterested parties.
  • Effectiveness and side effects will not be known for many months, probably several years. Beware rush jobs when billions of dollars stand to be made by them.
  • I will not allow our clearly corrupt government to decide for me what I have to do for my health. They don’t care about the 123K people killed by the lockdowns so far; why now so concerned with me and mine?
  • Finally, COVID is such a ridiculous low risk disease for me and anyone even moderately healthy, the idea that I’d need to take any steps at all beyond what one should take for the flu is Orwellian insanity.

Also for the record, I am not anti vax. I’m anti rushed, needless, government and big pharma mandated vaccines that stand to make some people much richer and are designed to humiliate into compliance anyone who dares flip them the bird.

Consider the bird flipped.

The tragically powerful story behind the lone German who ...

November is Gone Update (plus some d*mn virus math)

A. The level of idiocy remains at critical levels. It’s looking likely that about 220,000 ‘excess’ deaths will take place in 2020, of which about 150-170K might be attributable to the damn virus. Back in April and May, I didn’t think 100k was likely; now, I don’t know if it’s possible to back out the deleterious effects of the lockdowns with any accuracy. It is clear that about 50,000 ‘excess’ deaths (and counting) are not directly caused by the virus, but it’s harder, conceptually, to show they are caused by the lockdowns. The anecdotal evidence is strong, as is my bias to believe it – therefore, I’m exercising caution.

What the CDC data shows is significant upticks in deaths attributed to stress and panic related causes, such as suicide and heart attacks. It would take a massive independent audit, however, to show how many such cases show up in the COVID numbers. We know that sickly old people do in fact have their deaths speeded up by stress and loneliness, which the lockdowns have ratcheted up to inhuman levels.

So, as of now, it’s pretty clear that there are not 250,000 COVID deaths, or whatever count is being bandied about at the moment. At most, there could be about 170,000 COVID deaths, max (the 220K ‘excess’ deaths minus the 50K non-COVID ‘excess’ deaths). Of course, one could cook up a theory that the lockdowns saved lives that would have been lost to non-COVID deaths, such that the net – 250,000 COVID deaths minus the ‘saved’ (from flu? Colds? Traffic accidents?) gives us the 220,000 ‘excess’ deaths the CDC’s data shows. Far-fetched doesn’t begin to describe such a theory. That won’t stop people from proposing it.

The plan is to take a detailed look at the final or near final numbers from the CDC in January, and back into some totals. Without that audit, there’s no good way to really sift out the effects of the lockdown versus the virus. I expect the excess deaths – which are merely the difference between the CDC’s estimated weekly deaths and actual deaths as counted by death certificated submitted to the CDC (with a lot of small, often pointless, and needlessly complex adjustments) – to stay right about 220K, or perhaps even drop some, as some of the sickly elderly who might have hung on until Christmas in a normal year are already dead.

The overall story remains the same: the original forecasts and model used to gin up the panic, put together by the non-scientist, non-medical finance guy and operative Ferguson, have proven wildly inaccurate. Real world experience has confirmed what I, and everybody else who took an intelligent look at the original numbers out of Wuhan, the Diamond Princess, Italy, etc., noted: the overall real-world fatality rate was nothing like the 2-4% Case Fatality Rate range typically reported. The real infection fatality rate – the number of interest – couldn’t be over about 0.25%, and is probably lower. This virus is no more deadly than a bad flu – the 1969 and 1958 flus were worse; 2018 was almost as bad. The 2017 pre-COVID planning literature, prepared by the same CDC that’s helped create the panic, did not propose lockdowns or mask for scenarios an order of magnitude worse than this – the theoretical benefits of lockdowns and masks do not offset real costs.

The CDC data, at least, the reporting of it, is already being monkeyed with. As William Briggs noted, the weekly fatality graph used to go back many years, but now only goes back a year. This is suspicious, as a glance at the longer-term pattern made it clear that, while 2020 was shaping up to be a bad year, it wasn’t significantly worse than many preceding years, and that the pattern of more deaths in the winter and fewer in the summer was playing out exactly in 2020 – that what one would expect to see, based on history, without lockdowns and masks is exactly what one did see with them. My confidence that any numbers that can be used to expose the fraud will remain available has thus decreased.

But we’ll see.

UPDATE: Seems someone has already done what I proposed above.

As seen on Clarissa’s blog

What this chart shows are the breakdowns between attributed COVID deaths and *excess* (as defined above) deaths from all other causes. You get this by looking at the details for each category the CDC tracks. They forecast, based on history, population growth & aging + some really minor adjustments, is of how many death there ought to be in each category. Here’s my comment from Clarissa’s blog post:

Last I checked, CDC shows 220K excess deaths total so far this year. If the attribution of every excess death shown here to the lockdown is roughly true – seems likely & reasonable – then there are fewer than 100K total deaths caused by COVID, rather than deaths where COVID appears anywhere on the death cert, which is the way you get that 240K number, as you noted. Even that 100K number is almost certainly high, as the bulk of COVID deaths – between 60-70% – were nursing home patients & other very sick elderly people, who had a median life expectancy of about 6 months even if they didn’t catch the virus. Over time, these slightly premature deaths would (if the lockdowns ended) show up as lower deaths in the corresponding age bands over the next year. But the lockdowns, and the deaths they cause, mask this effect.

Also, could you please post the source link? I know it’s on the picture, but tiny, I can’t quite make it out. Eyes are getting old. Thanks.

So, if these calculations are correct, and barring some unlikely and counterintuitive offsetting effects somewhere in here (somehow, many thousands of lives were saved from non-COVID death by COVID, lockdowns, and masks) the total death toll from COVID is under 100K; the total excluding very sick elderly people is maybe 30-40K. Most of that 30-40K seems to have had multiple pre-existing conditions.

Thus, as the CDC correctly believed right up until they stopped believing it around April, 2020, lockdowns do more harm than good. Lockdowns kill people, and, unlike routine airborne respiratory viruses like COVID, lockdowns are completely preventable and don’t run their course within a few months.

B. I want to do something, but I don’t know what. I’m praying harder than I ever have for God’s mercy on our country, because if we get what we deserve based on our sins, the Great Leap Forward will look like a picnic. I’d like to do something to put our little infant sociopath of a governor in his place. But I don’t even know how to fly a helicopter. (That’s hyperbole for your spy bots.)

Lord, remember your promise of mercy. For if you remember our sins, Lord, who could stand? For the sake of the Sorrowful Passion of your Son, have mercy on us and the whole world! Amen.

Lord, have mercy! Christ, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Holy Mother Mary, Queen of the Angels, pray for us!

St. Joseph, Terror of Demons, pray for us!

St. Michael, Prince of the Heavenly Host, defend us in battle!

C. About a week ago, started learning the 2nd movement of the Moonlight Sonata, the one everybody forgets is even there, as the 1st and 3rd movements are epic. Been working on a dozen or so pieces from the Well Tempered Clavier and on the Sonata Pathetique for years now, and have years to go at this rate, and I needed a break.

Almost got it down, as it’s very short and repetitive. Here’s someone who really can play it:

I find it very beautiful and fun.

D. Bunch of good stuff happening on the family side, but I’m sworn to silence for now.

E. I need to remind myself that I’m one of the most blessed and happy people I know, great marriage, wonderful kids, nice home in a beautiful state, lots of friends. Thank you, Almighty Father, giver of all good gifts.

Upon Second Thought…

This one is for my Christian and especially Catholic readers. I may have come off as too pessimistic and almost despairing. That’s not the right attitude here.

http://www.andrewgrahamdixon.com/archive/readArticle/257, via Wikipedia.

There are legions of angels, flaming swords drawn, ready to fight this fight, which is clearly not of flesh and blood. God, in His infinite mercy and wisdom, does not expect us fragile, weak humans to stand alone against demonic forces – humility, let alone sanity, demands we seek help.

Blessed Be the Host of the King of Heaven, a Russian icon from the 1550s, via Wikipedia

There’s help. We have to ask, and get out of the way, and do whatever small part we are called upon to do.

After first asking Our Father to remember His promise of mercy, the promise he made to Abraham and we, his children, forever, and beg Him not to remember our sins -for who could stand? – we can then ask for the help of those beings which were given by God the task of protecting us.

First and foremost, that would be Mary, Queen of the Angels, their holy commander and the one, after only Christ Himself, most feared by Satan.

How to Crush a Serpent – TTC
That would be Mary’s foot pinning the serpent’s head, with, I think, Jesus’s foot on top to finish the job.

My son looked over my shoulder as I looked for images, he liked this one a lot:

More teamwork.

Next up would be my patron, St. Joseph, given the job of protecting Christ and His Mother:

St. Joseph, Terror of Demons.

He followed orders, did what he was told to do: take Mary into his home, flee to Egypt from Herod with her and her Child, return with them to the Holy Land once safe, then spend the rest of his life providing and caring for them.

And the Gospels do not record a single word he said. He is called Terror of Demons: what could be more terrifying than a guy with Jesus in his arms and Mary at his side?

St. Joseph, Terror of Demons
©Cecilia Lawrence
May 16th 2019
11×14 inches
My apologies to the artist for using without permission, too good to pass up. You can find/purchase prints here: https://www.shopmercy.org/st-joseph-terror-of-demons-10-x-18-canvas-print-3399.html. I’m putting one on my wish list.

Therefore, I resolve to keep this image in mind:

God has sent His legions to protect and defend us; Mary, their Queen, with St. Joseph on her right and St. Michael on her left, leading countless legions of angels, flaming swords drawn, as they descend to save us from the clearly diabolical situation we find ourselves.

And we must be humble, keep our focus, and follow orders. The first order: pray without ceasing.

Lord, have mercy!

Christ, have mercy!

Lord, have mercy!

Beloved Mother Mary, whose humble ‘Yes’ brought Emmanuel, God Among Us, Queen of the Angels, Crusher of the serpents head, lead your legions to save us!

St. Joseph, Terror of Demons, defend and protect us! Pray that we have the grace to follow your holy example, and be humble, brave, and obedient to God’s word to us.

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, cast into Hell Satan, and all evil spirits that prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls!


COVID Link of the Day

From Clarissa’s blog. She has been posting helpful link regarding the current unpleasantness. I merely note that one does not have to have the sterling credentials of this Swedish doctor to notice, upon little more than inspection, that most of his points are valid.

UK policy on lockdown and other European countries is not evidence-based The correct policy is to protect the old and the frail only This will …

COVID Link of the Day