Tuesday, June 23, 2020

How the NYT Ruins Everything

As seen over at the Slate Star Codex blog:
NYT Is Threatening My Safety By Revealing My Real Name, So I am Deleting The Blog

I only found this blog a little over a month ago, via his sci-fi short story "Sort by Controversial" posted there.  If there's a concept of which everyone needs to be aware in this period of turmoil, it's the idea of "Shiri's Scissor" or "scissor statements" from that story.  (link to my all-too-brief discussion of this here)  Now it's gone.  Oh, I'm sure it's in some archive, somewhere.  (later: link to the short story at the Wayback Machine)  However the main written source of the idea is gone, and moreover its author is silenced.

The author has good and justifiable reasons for wanting to retain some small degree of anonymity.  For starters, he's a psychiatrist; other reasons are given in his farewell post, linked above.  A responsible news organization ought to understand such things and make allowances for them.  Evidently the NYT is no longer a responsible news organization.

I will have a polite message to the editor off later today (relevant contact information at the Slate Star Codex link above), and I hope that you can and will too.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

BBC Midwinter Broadcast to Antartica

Mostly as a reminder to self, this happens today at 3:30 pm CDT.  Details at The SWLing Post.

The time given is somewhat up in the air.  At the associated BBC page, the listed time is 21:30 BST, which is of course 3:30 CDT.  However, this is very much at odds with shortwave broadcast listings which always give times in zulu, which would slide things to 4:30 CDT.

Solution: try at 3:30 CDT, and if nothing heard try again at 4:30.  Per usual, persistence pays.

After Report: Broadcast was at 21:30 Z not BST after all.  Could barely hear signal at 9580 KHz, nothing at all heard at the other two frequencies.   Could just distinguish male from female voices.  Better luck next year!

Pumping Tires the Right Way

You know, you'd think this stuff was obvious, but obviously not.  Looking back over the years, thinking of the people I've seen struggling with this... guess this tutorial is needed.  Anyway, watch and learn.

One more bonus of having the stem at 12 o'clock is that if the chuck is a little loose, you can grab around the tire and the chuck with one hand while you pump with the other.

BTW, I have to say it again, even though they don't pay me: Silca pumps, because anything else is wrong.

Speaking of biking, off to ride in a few minutes.  After the coffee kicks in a little more.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

DeFord Bailey

Classic chuggin-down-th-line harmonica music, all solos, no vocals; not much else to say.  You ought to have at least a smattering of this in your collection.  Kind of hard to find, but the usual suspect has it for a fair enough price.

The recording itself is pretty rough-and-ready, but that's OK.  It's old material, passed through who knows how many copies.  It'd probably sound better over AM skywave anyway.

CD arrived yesterday, already listened to it twice.  It's that kind of music.

Happy Solstice

The exact time is 4:44 CDT today.  Be sure to get outside and enhance your vitamin D levels.

Friday, June 19, 2020

It's a Deadly Puzzle

As noted at Slate, COVID Cases Are Rising, COVID Deaths Are Declining, Why?

I'd been wondering about this.  Increased testing, a drastic lower shift in the median affected age, improving treatments; any and all of these could be behind this phenomenon.  I was guessing that it was increased testing driving this, but that was only a guess.

Digging around on the web however found that the number of tests administered per day in the U.S. is down by about 25% since the start of June. [edit 6/20: chart has changed, tests are UP about 20% since the start of June.  OK, things now make a lot more sense.] Not at all what one would expect, but there it is.  And this is right on top of when the number of confirmed cases began to rise.  Doubly perplexing.

So now for hypothetical causes, we have increased testing, lower median age, improving treatments, and the possibly that this troublesome yet fragile little 30k of RNA is starting to fray with repeated replication errors.  That last one would be really, really good news, but there's no hard data showing that this is happening.  The other three causes, yes, there's hard data there.  In what proportions?  Not enough information surrounding the data to tell.

Maybe we'll bumble into herd immunity sooner than we thought, and with somewhat less pain than we'd feared.  In the meantime, there's a world of people out there saying "hold my beer, watch this" and rushing out to do something stupid.  Don't be stupid.

Can't say it was fun at the time...

... but oh brother, did I ever appreciate her teaching a couple of years later when I was staring differential equations 201 in the teeth.  May my high school math teacher, Myra Ponder, rest in peace.

Up until her classes, everything had been easy.  Then all of a sudden, it wasn't, and I had to learn to study.  Just what high school should be all about.  What a great teacher.

Thank you, Mrs. Ponder.