Dr. StrangeGov

El Jefe, one of my favorite contributors over at Juanita Jean’s Beauty Salon, has a great take on TX Gov Greg Abbott’s idiotic proclamation that TX is open for business, full capacity indoors and no masks required.

I should be clear about this – I think opening businesses under responsible, controlled conditions is great. All for it. But it’s not time to stop wearing masks and distancing. We still have 2,000 people dying of COVID in the US every single day. Most people would consider that unacceptable and do what they could to reduce the body count. But not Greg Abbott.

From the article:

Everyone needs to brace for the next big wave that is certain to come, extending the misery in Texas even longer. Texas’ response to the pandemic has been nothing more than piss-poor.  For comparison, let’s look at a country with similar populations with much better results: Taiwan.  Texas has 29 million people.  Taiwan, 24 million.  Deaths in Texas? 44,000.  Taiwan? 9.  That’s right, 9.  Taiwan did it right.  They never locked down, but implemented strong quarantine rules, contact tracing, and most important, PAID their people to stay home.  Like most of Europe, Taiwan took the financial stress out of the equation.  By contrast, Abbott and the idiots in the legislature added to people’s misery by providing little to no assistance.  Add that to Trump’s incompetence, and you get some of the worst COVID response on the planet.  Thanks for nothing.

Mississippi is also opening with no restrictions. Florida probably next. The usual suspects.

I realize my last couple of posts have been negative, kind of whiny. Having a hard time staying positive the last few days and not sure why. Another ugly loss by UK last night didn’t help. It’s probably time to take a step back, take stock of all the good things in life and refocus on those.

You win some, you lose some

On one hand, the Biden administration is doing exactly what any sane, responsible government should do – helping its citizens in a tough time. Thank you!

Biden to announce Merck will help make Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine. The agreement between the two major pharmaceutical companies could help speed up vaccinations across the country.

On the other hand, not so much.

Biden removes mention of Dr. Seuss from Read Across America Day.

Huh? Political correctness is out of control. Lincoln statues are being defaced, some educational institutions are removing Lincoln’s and Washington’s names from their buildings. From the article on the evil Dr. Seuss, “The move comes as Dr. Seuss’ work has generated controversy following a study highlighting a lack of diversity among the author’s characters.”

Seriously? This is what people are worried about? A lack of diversity among The Grinch, The Whos, The Cat in the Hat? Little Jessica Who? Maybe I’m having an old man’s “get off my lawn” moment, but this is ridiculous. Get a life, folks. Worry about something that matters; there’s plenty to choose from. Democracy under attack. Voter’s rights. Climate change. Mass animal extinctions. Human trafficking. Hungry kids in America and across the planet. Just pick one.

Said in a calmer way, the current inane trend toward judging historical figures by our moral standards and then removing them from history records is dumb and dangerous. Those who cannot learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

Hard to watch

Big week starting today. This is the week that Qanon believers say Trump will triumphantly return as President. And when he doesn’t, it’s because of a secret plan that we just can’t understand.

CNN interviews the believers.

Unfettered social media and constant disinformation reinforcement has rendered some of our population…well, there’s no other word for it, but delusional. They live in a different reality, and that’s frightening. Awful for them, and frightening for us.

Saturday with a touch of tinnitus

Today is the day that we get to see if my UK Wildcats are on a consistent performance upslope, or if they’ll fall back into mediocrity. Cats versus Gators at 1pm my time. I’ll go with the mammals.

Spent another Friday late afternoon enjoying the “new” stereo system. The new electronics, combined with the mighty M3s, are so much fun to listen to. I’ve discovered that ZZ Top’s La Grange is a killer recording, one of the best from the classic rock era. If only Rush’s recordings were as good. La Grange pops out of the speakers like the bearded dudes are right in the room.

And because of all the sonic meandering possible with the Elac music server and its built-in operating system (the Roon/Tidal combo) I’m discovering I like some very modern music. Billie Eilish was last night’s “discovery”. Her recordings are pure, very high fidelity, listenable at normal or “voice of the neighborhood” volumes. The bass on her recordings rendered through the M3s and powered by the Wyred4sound monobloc amps is…impressive. Room shaking, actually. Bad Guy is not just a wildly popular song – it’s an audiophile-friendly high-dynamic range recording.

Looking forward

I find that I don’t have much to write about lately. With the daily outrages of the Trump Crime Family gone, and COVID trending down, the topics of the past year are missing. That’s a good thing.

Also, I’m buried deep in work – team building and employee deconfliction in one gig, plain old team building and some political risk management in another, and loads of technical work on the quantum computing front. I’m writing use cases, creating architecture diagrams, writing detailed specs and reports – all the stuff I left behind twenty years ago when I became “manager” instead of “engineer”. It’s nice to know that I can still do this work.

I *am* making lots of travel plans again, and that’s fun. Travel starts again for me in late March, and then a steady diet of trips through June. It may not be the perfect time, but we’ll be vaccinated by then and as long as we (a) take precautions on airplanes and (b) only hang out with others who have also been vaccinated, I think our risk is low.

The desire to see the grandkids again is a constant physical ache. I’m missing so much. Almost four-year-old Hudson (above) has decided he can read all by himself, and asks for his his privacy to read. A chip off the old block. And Jessie is about to walk, just wandering around and smiling at everyone, as he does. I sure hope he keeps that happy personality as he grows up.

End of an era

From CNN, “Fry’s Electronics suddenly closed all of its stores overnight, ending a nearly four-decade run in business.”

Another pandemic casualty. I’m sad about this because walking through Fry’s was always a treat for me. As a gadget enthusiast and geek, nothing matched Fry’s for the sheer volume of electronic gadgets, raw parts, and geekery. When my stupid expensive refrigerator broke down, I used the Internet to find out what was likely wrong with it, then went to Fry’s to buy solder, a soldering iron and some fifteen cent capacitors. I mean, where are you going to find a selection of capacitors from picofarads to microfarads? And a dozen different choices for soldering irons? Only at Fry’s. I fixed my refrigerator with one of the fifteen cent parts and saved about eight thousand bucks. That was a good day.

The rise of Fry’s as the uber-electronic-parts store 40 years ago also parallels my technology career. They started just about when I started, so I hate to see them shut down. And I hope my refrigerator doesn’t break again, because now I have no idea where to get basic electronic parts.

(Almost) on the road again

With expectations to have both our vaccine shots completed sometime in March, I’ve started travel planning again and it feels great. Just the planning and anticipation is a pleasure – not to mention the travel itself. Right now I’m looking at trips to KY (a couple of them), to Hawaii and to Napa.

It’ll be especially great to see Dad, the kids and grandkids again. What a long year…

Ruh-Roh

OK, we think the pandemic is bad. Scientists are concerned that we might be headed for another Adams Event, in which our magnetosphere fades away just before the magnetic poles switch and we have a few centuries of environmental collapse. This last happened 42,000 years ago, causing humanity to retreat into caves to avoid being cooked by solar radiation.

This dramatic turning point in Earth’s history—laced with electrical storms, widespread auroras, and cosmic radiation—was triggered by the reversal of Earth’s magnetic poles and changing solar winds.

The researchers dubbed this danger period the ‘Adams Transitional Geomagnetic Event’, or ‘Adams Event’ for short—a tribute to science fiction writer Douglas Adams, who wrote in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that ’42’ was the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

Though the event would be horrible – pretty much the end of normality, maybe the end of civilization – I loved this quote:

Using radiocarbon dating—a technique to date ancient relics or events—the team tracked the changes in radiocarbon levels during the magnetic pole reversal. This data was charted alongside the trees’ annual growth rings, which acts as an accurate, natural timestamp.

The new timescale helped reveal the picture of this dramatic period in Earth’s history. The team were able to reconstruct the chain of environmental and extinction events using climate modelling.

“The more we looked at the data, the more everything pointed to 42,” says Prof. Turney. “It was uncanny.

“Douglas Adams was clearly on to something, after all.”

So as much as we thought 2020 was the worst year ever, the Universe might be saying “Hold my beer…”.

Tough week for Texas

Saw this political cartoon today. It’s too good not to republish. I’ll reiterate that any schadenfreude I might feel is 100% for the politicians and bureaucrats of Texas, not its citizens. Like Ted “Cancun Cruz”. The citizens are victims of their “leaders” bad decisions. I hope they get warm soon.

Alien invasion

One year after it all started, we’ve reached the grim milestone of 500,000 Americans dead due to the pandemic. Our family went into semi-lockdown mode in late February 2021. Ninety days later, in June, we knew it (the pandemic) was bad. On June 5th I wrote that 112,000 people had died of COVID-19, and the total could be twice that number before it was over. Wishful thinking.

Five hundred thousand. Imagine a city the size of Louisville, KY, with every person dead and gone. Just empty. More people killed than any of our wars since the (un)Civil War. Actually, as many US deaths than WW 1 and WW 2 combined.

And that’s what a lot of people don’t get about this disease. It’s a war. It may not touch you, or it may kill you. It’s a fickle, invisible enemy. But it’s a war and we should spend whatever it takes to win it, on both the epidemiology and economy fronts. Every person should do their part to win the war (wears masks, doh!) and the Government should prop up businesses and families with direct payments and/or debt relief.

Imagine if aliens (the outer space kind, not the not-born-in US kind) landed in the US and killed 500K Americans, invisibly but inexorably, week by week. You think we wouldn’t mobilize? And do you think that anyone would worry how much Federal money was being spent to win the war? Well, that’s pretty much what happened. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is an alien that invaded us. And we should pull out all the stops to defeat it and make sure our survivors are OK.

Cold day in hell

I have a lot of sympathy for the people of Texas this week, as their power grid failed during a historic cold snap. Prehistoric living conditions during a pandemic…pretty horrific.

Their cretinous politicians are trying to blame renewable energy, notably wind, as the reason. That’s BS, as wind is only 10% of Texas’ generation capacity. The extreme cold has also made their major energy source, natural gas, unreliable because lines and meters are freezing. The real reason that TX power id down is that decades ago TX lawmakers decided they didn’t want to cooperate with the Feds and other states in an interstate power grid, able to send and receive electricity across state lines. As a result Texas has its own independent power grid, the only one in the lower 48 states, managed by ERCOT (ironically named the Electric Reliability Council of Texas).

Texans will want someone to blame for this. They should start with their idiot “conservative” politicians and ERCOT’s leaders.

Update, a few hours later: Texans should start their blame game here.

“Former Texas governor Rick Perry suggests that going days without power is a sacrifice Texans should be willing to make if it means keeping federal regulators out of the state’s power grid.”

What a maroon.