And so it goes....
Wednesday, January 20, 2021
As of 11:49 am. EST we have a new President, and the prior disgraced, FAILED demagogue/traitor and faux “wife” are exiled to Mar-A-Schlago (where the call-girls shall no doubt have quite a $$$ week ahead)... and I feel compelled to yet again post this bit of music:
....may those of us who honestly care about this country, its history and its Constitution, be up to the monumental task ahead.
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
Maybe time for a head massage ASMR video as the week moves on:
...and a recent piece here on ASMR in the age of pandemic:
Sunday, January 17, 2021
Saturday, January 16, 2021
Knuckledraggers in search of love, bumble onward…
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
This is where we’re at as a country:
…and, in turn that piece links to this one:
If you’re on Twitter you can continue to follow the storyline here:
The next two weeks could well be unlike anything America has ever seen before.
Monday, January 11, 2021
It's Monday, and time to watch for needed impeachment proceedings in Wash. DC. -- assuming of course that VP Pence is unable to get half the Cabinet members (who are incompetent at their own jobs), to declare, the obvious, that the President is incapable at his. And so, as we await the next upcoming coup attempt (pssst... anybody keeping tabs on Michael Flynn lately?), perhaps also a moment to revisit this old post from over 3 years ago:
Friday, January 8, 2021
Ummm, quit with all the #%@^&!! optimism… covid is with us to stay for quite awhile… at least that is the precautionary presumption we ought be taking at this point in time.
In America, the surge we’ve experienced since Thanksgiving was totally predictable (indeed, even without a holiday there would have been a surge at about that time (what we have, as some have said, is more of a surge upon a surge), and now we will soon face the far greater surge from Christmas and New Years, when people came together in far larger, more boisterous, and extended gatherings. And then there was that wonderful super-spreader event in Wash. DC on Jan. 6th, involving unhealthy doofuses from all over the country, now returned home (if not in jail) and spreading their newly-acquired infectivity elsewhere, especially perhaps, to other like-minded victims-to-be.
Yet I keep hearing optimism from those reading about, or even getting, vaccinated, that we have turned the corner. Don't hold your breath. The first effect of the vaccinations will almost certainly be to contribute to a further spike in covid infections… at the very time when many (most?) hospitals will be out of beds for treating such… and good luck if you suffer a heart attack, stroke, seizure, gunshot, major injury, etc. during this time period. You can thank Donald Trump for the lack of care you’ll receive while millions of taxpayer $$ are spent on his medical care, safety, and golf outings, to keep this criminal functioning… but, I digress.
People receiving their first (of 2) vaccine inoculations will, after months of restraint and constrictions, feel suddenly safer and freed up to do as they wish… even though they will have been told otherwise… I’ve seen this ‘liberating’ attitude even in very bright people I myself know. Yet, these folks are hardly yet protected against the virus, and even once receiving the 2nd dose it is likely at least 2 more weeks before full protection sets in. In short, many people getting vaccinated WILL still get infected (and spread the infection) well before anything close to full immunity sets in. And a good chance that vaccines in the live population will not match the claimed 90+% effective results of the reported short-term experimental outcomes. Figure, at a minimum,10% of the recipients receiving little if any protection from the vaccines, but nonetheless acting as if they are protected. Also, figure in some folks, getting the vaccine midway or later in the year (in the disreputably slow roll-out of this fiasco) facing a virus that has circled the globe several times with a multitude of mutations, some of which make it more resistant to current vaccines in use.
Then of course you have the 20+% of the American population who will probably resist ever getting the vaccine, and another 15% who will want to wait some months to watch the results in initial users. And by the time you’re done adding such figures up the likelihood of reaching herd immunity (if you can ever even find agreement on a %) in America in the next 18 months seems unrealistic.
There has been huge over-emphasis on, and false confidence in, epidemiology studies from which little can be firmly concluded. Comparison of various country results for firm conclusions is especially illogical given the 1000s of variables uncontrolled for. Uncertainty is the rule of the day. But crunching numbers is what we love to do, and so it shall continue… with the corrections to the crunched numbers coming months later… followed months on by the corrections to the corrections… and then, well, on and on. I've never seen an epidemiology study that tells me anything much say about coffee consumption and never expect to (pretty impossible), nor have I seen one on covid that is terribly enlightening or precise... but admittedly, such studies are better than nothing at all, at least as a starting point.
And then we have all the problems in reporting. Recently the very credible BBC News tweeted:
“Covid: Nurse 'angry' over positive test despite vaccination
To which Jim Chalmers responded:
“Journalists are going to have to learn that if (a) a vaccine is ~95% effective; (b) millions of people are getting the vaccine and (c) covid is widespread, someone getting vaccinated and later getting covid is not even *close* to being a story.”
Yes, so many medical stories or headlines as written are not news at all, and yet will be taken as ‘proof’ of whatever point-of-view one wishes reinforced. And so it goes.
Another big unknown is the long-term variable effects of the virus on different organs both in those infected with quick recoveries or even asymptomatic, and those hospitalized for longer terms. Could take years to understand these health effects.
Maybe my cynicism is ill-founded (though for this year it's generally been on target), and all will go well… I’ll be getting my shots in a couple of months when available for my risk group, and will do so based on the science. Maybe, out of fear or peer-pressure, enough others will eventually also relent to receiving the vaccines to actually attain ‘herd immunity’ before the end of this year… but at this point it’s hard to see how that is likely to happen (70+ million voted for the anti-science dipwad in the White House; far easier to foresee many of them dying of covid, than proceeding to get a vaccine or follow PPE advice). Or, maybe the virus will peter out of its own accord before herd immunity is even attained. But if you’re planning for the future, i.e. the year ahead, it seems best to assume masking, social distancing, hand-washing, high unemployment, huge government deficits, increased mental illness, crime, divorces, and economic/political/social stresses and upheaval of all sorts are bound to stick around for quite awhile.
January 6, 2021, was of course a horrid day in the history of America, though I’m not sure it was really any worse than November 8, 2016, the day deranged Donald was absurdly elected, or January 20, 2017, when, conspiring with neo-fascist-sympathizing mentalities Bannon, Miller, and Gorka, he delivered the wretched Third Reichian inaugural speech, that made the next 4 years clear to anyone with their eyes and ears open, and some knowledge of history.
Luckily this unfit, half-wit regime will soon be out of power, but likely still best for us to remain strapped in for a wild ride through 2021… all the worse of course if civil war, in some form, comes to America, and makes covid among the least of our concerns. House-to-house fighting can ruin your day.
Ohhhh, Happy New Year folks.....
....Lastly (to end on a lighter note), this is how someone on the Web re-did an old Far Side cartoon:
Wednesday, January 6, 2021
Recently saw a web-post of someone listing their 5 favorite just-for-fun math books to read and got me to wondering what I might choose for such a list from my own bookshelf. There have been so many entertaining, fun reads in popular math over the last few decades (including MANY I don’t have on my bookshelf) it’s a near-impossible choice, but in a quick-scan here’s what I came up with in no particular order (in large part these are volumes that can be picked up, turned to any page or section, and land upon some fun or interesting content for the lay-reader; and oddly, with the exception of Ben’s book, these are mostly older offerings):
1. Curious and Interesting Mathematics by David Wells
2. Mathematical Fallacies and Paradoxes by Bryan Bunch
3. Math Charmers by Alfred Posamentier
4. The Colossal Book of Mathematics by Martin Gardner
…and, of course:
5. Math With Bad Drawings by Ben Orlin
Friday, January 1, 2021
To begin the new year an appreciation, from Dan Rockmore, of 3 creative mathematicians no longer with us, Freeman Dyson, John Conway, and Ronald Graham:
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
A recent Dave Richeson tweet generated these two links to great pieces having to do with lexicography and the circularity of words (including mathematical or computational aspects):
Monday, December 28, 2020
A new round of always-fun lateral thinking puzzles from Futility Closet today:
...and here's an hour-plus of science-writer John Horgan talking to science-writer Amanda Gefter:
Friday, December 25, 2020
Thursday, December 24, 2020
"High school mathematics content is a wonderful vehicle for teaching powerful, human thinking."
James Tanton on the Covid-19 'teaching crisis' and mathematics education: