Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Free videoconferencing service available

Cisco's WebEx videoconferencing service is probably the market leading service for big companies to have videoconference meetings.  They've made it available to anyone for free.  This stuff is the real deal (I work from home and use this every day).

If you work with a group that could use this - or if you can use it by yourself with friends or family - go get you some.  All you need is a browser.

Full Disclosure: I work for Cisco, but get no sales commission on these $0 orders.

So what happens when you shut down a country's economy?

Interesting things:
The ‘conservative’ Spanish newspaper/site abc.es. has a report about the food situation in Italy (in Spanish) which indicates the following, something our media seems to ignore, per my translation:  
‘Increasing woe in Italy due to the coronavirus: almost 3,000,000 people need food aid’ 
There’s a 10% uplift there, as the report gives a breakdown with more details. 
In Campania more than 530,000 people need food, almost 9% of the region’s population. More than 364,000 in Sicily, almost 283,000 in Calabria. Even Lazio has more than 263,000 people in need. One analysis says around 2,700,000 people need food aid. 
There is much discussion of raids on pharmacies and supermarkets, with police guarding them. 
And this is interesting:
And how long here before our food supply chains might disintegrate, when people have to laboriously shop 2 meters apart, queueing to get in, queueing to pay, as the capacity of the shops to serve customers is throttled, whether or not the products are limited or in short supply. Is there any modelling of how long this can go on, never mind if it should at all?
Here in Maryland there is a State-wide shelter in place order.  You can't go out except for urgent business, or you face a year in jail.  Can't wait until you need a reservation to shop at the supermarket.

Sky News Reports on Biden's Cognitive Decline

It would be funny if it wasn't sad. The Democratic Party has to know this is isn't viable. My bet is on Gov. Cuomo of New York taking it at the convention.

Monday, March 30, 2020

In My Front Yard

We live in town, but there is a river just a couple hundred yards away with a lot of undeveloped land on either side and a lot of the area has gone back to scrub. This barred owl showed up in a tree while I was working in the yard and I managed to get this shot just before dusk.

Coming To America

Italy is crumbling, the hospitals are overwhelmed, and violence and riots are coming.

We won't be far behind. Get your mind wrapped around the possibilities. Normality bias will slow your response to a rapidly deteriorating situation.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Disinfecting Your Groceries

Something most of us had not thought of. If the virus can live on surfaces for 3 or 4 days, how do you deal with the groceries when you bring them home?

Spread the word

Joe Diffie, Rest In Peace

Dead at 61 from Coronavirus.  I posted about him in the early days of this blog, on the topic of shuffling off the mortal coil.  I didn't expect to dust it off so soon, for someone taken from us far to young.  His music sure made me smile, and I hope that you've gone to Glory singing this.

Rest in peace, Joe, and thanks for all the great music.

(Originally posted 4 April 2009)

Joe Diffie - Prop Me Up Beside The Jukebox

Matt G has a serious post about what he wants done after dies. The comments are serious as well, and well worth a read - the whole subject is one that a true adult should address
square on, without flinching.

Until JayG arrived:
I've got one word and one word only for after I shuffle off this mortal coil:

Both of my reader's will be shocked to discover that I have more than a little of this sort of sense of humor myself. Which leads us to today's Saturday Redneck.

Joe Diffie was something of a Country music sensation during the 1990s, with 2 platinum and 2 gold albums, with 5 songs reaching #1 on the US Country charts and 17 in the top 10. His specialty was songs with a sense of humor - sometimes called "novelty" songs - like his 1994 song Third Rock From The Sun.

But today we're interested in his album from the previous year, with a song that hit #5. Prop Me Up Beside The Jukebox (If I Die). I love this video, because it captures the 1990s so well - mullets, big hair, and Larry The Cable Guy style ("wife beater") shirts. It's also completely slapstick comedy.

Matt G, there's a serious discussion on the serious topic of passing on from this vale of tears. Unfortunately, it ain't here.

Prop Me Up Beside The Jukebox (sognwriters: Howard Perdew, Rick Blaylock, Kerry Kurt Phillips)
Well I ain't afraid of dyin', it's the thought of being dead
I wanna go on being me once my eulogy's been read
Don't spread my ashes out to sea, don't lay me down to rest
You can put my mind at ease if you fulfill my last request

Prop me up beside the jukebox if I die
Lord, I wanna go to heaven but I don't wanna go tonight
Fill my boots up with sand, put a stiff drink in my hand
Prop me up beside the jukebox if I die

Just let my headstone be a neon sign
Let it burn in mem'ry of all of my good times
Fix me up with a manequin, just remember I like blondes
I'll be the life of the party even when I'm dead and gone

Prop me up beside the jukebox if I die
Lord, I wanna go to heaven but I don't wanna go tonight
Fill my boots up with sand, put a stiff drink in my hand
Prop me up beside the jukebox if I die

Just make your next selection and while your still in line
You can pay you last respects one quarter at a time

Prop me up beside the jukebox if I die
Lord, I wanna go to heaven but I don't wanna go tonight
Fill my boots up with sand, put a stiff drink in my hand
Prop me up beside the jukebox if I die

Oh, prop me up beside the jukebox if I die

What the media is not reporting about the virus

38 year old Michigan Man says drug combo recommended by Donald Trump saved his life:
Santilli said he became seriously ill March 18 “with severe cardiac and respiratory issues” and was admitted to Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in metro Detroit.

According to Gruber, “Santilli said the biggest problem was waiting for test results that took four days to come back. In the meantime his condition worsened by the hour, and he thought he was going to die.”

“Santilli says he was slowly drowning and was convinced he ‘would not live until midnight.’ That’s when doctors made a decision he says changed everything,” Gruber said.

The survivor said the drug combination began to work “within a few hours.”

Santilli credited Trump for his survival.

“Donald Trump recommending that medication combination saved my life and a lot of other people’s lives,” he told Gruber.

Santilli criticized Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) for her recent threat against doctors and pharmacists, and believed it is a “terrible decision,” adding, “She is sentencing people to death.”
Confirmation today from a larger study in France, too.  If I get this damn thing (assuming I haven't already) then I don't care if the combo isn't "proven" - I'd want it.

Oh, and the Michigan Governor is a twit.  If this combo actually shows that it saves a lot of lives, I don't see how she gets re-elected.  Dumbass.

Oh, and it sure would be nice if the media would actually cover stories like this.  Eventually they will have to, if the drug combo turns out to be effective.  But this is why way more people trust Trump about the virus than trust the media.

Requiescat in Pace

I have been thinking for several days about this post. We are in the midst of an unprecedented event. Someone is dying of Covid19 every 9 minutes in New York alone. All of us have been affected.

These deaths aren't statistics. They are people. People that had lives, families, friends, and dreams. And people continue to die of other things every day as well. The gunblogging community has had some recent losses and now there's been another one.

Say Uncle's wife died suddenly from a heart attack. I don't even know Say Uncle's name. I'm just a reader. But he posted a family picture. They look like they were in their 40s, with three teen-aged children. In the middle of their lives. And now she is gone. There are no words of comfort that don't sound like meaningless barking. I know.

May you find peace and renewed life.

The Basilica of the Hagia Sophia as a musical instrument

The Hagia Sophia was for a thousand years the most famous church in Christendom.  Built by the Roman Emperor Justinian I in Constantinople, the church is unlike anything that came before, or since. When the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople in 1453 and finally put an end to the Roman Empire, the Hagia Sophia became a mosque for a while.  Ataturk turned it into a museum in the 1920s.  You can visit it if you find yourself in Istanbul.

But there is to this day a ban on any musical performance there.  Since the Eastern Orthodox liturgy is sung, there has been no way to know what it sounded like back in Justinian's day.  Except now the science of acoustics and digital signal processing has brought this sound back to life after more than 500 years.

This is a very unusual edition of my Sunday Classical posts - the focus is less on the music than on the building.  The experience of the divine was captured in a unique way in the church, one that could not be experienced in the same way anywhere else in the world.  The architecture merged with and changed the sound in a way that was entirely sui generis; the rising (or setting) sun lit the interior in a way that was described as liquid gold.  While we cannot experience that today, we can get a feel for what it must have been like with the musical recreations of the group Cappella Romana, electronically enhanced to match the acoustics of the Hagia Sophia.

This is a very different experience from western church music, which we have seen here many times.  There is an outstanding (and long) discussion of this experience and how they recreated it at the podcast Byzantium and Friends.  It covers different aspects of the religious experience in that church - the sound, the decoration, the lighting, and how they all came together as much more than the sum of the parts.  I expect that Peter Grant, Lone Star Parson, Rev. Paul, and maybe Tim Wolter might want to listen to it despite the length (over 60 minutes).  Other people might want to click through that link which will lead them to a documentary about how the sound was recreated, which is included on the DVD of Cappella Romana's performance of Lost Voices Of The Hagia Sophia.  I expect that the DVD experience will far surpass MP3, because of the surround sound effect.

Hat tip to Peter Grant, who posted about this a couple weeks back; I ran across the podcast which adds a ton of depth to what he wrote about.  If you, like me, are a history nerd, then this is a great way to spend some time while you are isolating at home.

Friday, March 27, 2020

The Queen Of The World explains things

TQOTW posted this on Facebook, and I thought I'd reproduce it here in full:
Warning - rant ahead!
One of the most isolated places people can be right now is jail, especially if no visitors are allowed in. So why are jails and prisons releasing prisoners due to the virus??? It’s happening all over.
Cities are refusing to arrest criminals due to the virus.
Suddenly places notorious for supporting more gun control laws are seeing gun and ammo sales go thru the roof.
Blaming it all on the virus that the media has blown out of proportion.
In the beginning the democrats wouldn’t listen to Trump. Later they blamed him.
It’s time to wake up!!!
Yes the virus is real, yes people die. But it is still no where near the numbers seen every year related to regular flu virus.
So why would the media and the liberals want to blow this up?
Think about it - the economy was going better than it has for many, many years. Jobs were brought back to America. Unemployment was way down. Women, blacks, and Latin Americans were supporting Trump. Crime is going down. There was no Russian collusion. There was no improper phone call with the Ukraine. Illegal immigration was waning.
And now we’re seeing democrats trying to take advantage of emergency aide efforts by tacking on all kinds of bills to support their everyday causes and thereby holding up whats needed now. Blackmail! Give us what we want or screw all the people that need help right now! Instead, if they have their way, people will need to first become desperate and then HAVE to rely on the causes they’re trying to tack on now. (Example: Unemployed, homeless, and hungry - I need planned parenthood because I can’t care for a baby now)
They tried scandals, they tried collusion, they tried Impeachment, they fought allowing illegals in, they pushed gun control. This is the only means left to reverse the economic growth, reverse the unemployment, reverse support for the president.
And it’s a misuse of power, a lack of concern for the people of this country, and a purely evil political agenda!
Think beyond the daily headlines, ask why there is so much conflicting data, have you heard of any prison deaths due to the virus, why wouldn’t every politician put aside their political agendas and differences and do all they can to help people and the issues related to this virus now, how and why can anyone blame the president for this - how can you blame AMYONE for this? They didn’t blame Obama and didn’t go this overboard - why?
Why hasn’t the CDC been held more responsible for their enormous blunders?
So many questions to be asked and they come to you if you think it thru instead of taking whatever the media throws out there as gospel.
Releasing criminals is where this rant started. Just one more attempt at reversing the winning we’ve been enjoying over the past 3 years.

I wonder if I have had - and recovered from - the Kung Flu

I had respiratory trouble - graduating to bronchitis and then pneumonia - last month.  It's actually been a long slow recovery over the last two months.  Given the reports that Kung Flu cases are underreported by a factor of ten, I am really wondering if I caught it and (mostly) recovered.

I guess the only way to tell is a test for the presence of antibodies and nobody is going to do that as I (mostly) feel better and am (mostly) asymptomatic.  This is a good example of what I've been talking about - the data are notoriously incomplete.

Thursday, March 26, 2020


My Son-In-Law, a Chief on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, is in quarantine.  One of the men on his crew tested positive for the Kung Flu, and so now he's in (sort of) isolation.  He feels fine, but I guess we'll know more in 7-14 days.  I hope it turns out like this:

Wonder what's happening in the People's Liberation Army Navy?

It Didn't Seem That Important

There are no good solutions

pessimal/pes im l/adj.[Latin-based antonym for optimal] Maximally bad. “This is a pessimal situation.” Also pessimize vt. To make as bad as possible. These words are the obvious Latin-based antonyms for optimal and optimize, but for some reason they do not appear in most English dictionaries, although ‘pessimize’ is listed in the OED.
Aesop writes about how everything seems to be going wrong about the response to the Kung Flu:
Pandemic suppression may indeed fail.

Probably because too little, too late, and kabuki theater screening at airports, when we should have shunted everyone into mandatory quarantine for 30 days before entry was allowed, starting in early- or mid-January.

If only the CDC hadn’t pooch-screwed the test kits so hard that the dog will never walk right again.
You're going to need a bigger blog post to list everything that the Fed.Gov, State(s).Gov, and Local.Gov are doing wrong, not to mention the Solons who run the Hospitals (and who are threatening to fire nurses who wear masks).

I would add to his list:
  • Failure to designate a single hospital in a city/region as the Kung Flu Medical Center, and isolating all patients (and a significant portion of the PPE) there.  At the very least this will slow the spread of the virus among medical workers and protect capacity for non-virus emergency care.
  • No centralized procurement of cloth masks (of course these are not as effective in preventing infection as disposable ones, but given the massive mask shortage a million cloth masks that can be washed in bleach daily isn't nothing.  Probably more important for general population and first responders, but not nothing.
  • No non-crappy models of Kung Flu disease spread.  Granted, all computer models are always wrong to a greater or lesser extent, but what we have right now makes the climate models look like Nostradamus.  Add in the terrible data being fed into the models and you are better off simply ignoring all model output.
  • The entire western world is being driven into a depression.  Millions are out of work, with more on the way.
  • The pain is falling disproportionately on the working poor.  Since a lot of these live in proximity to the Gimmedat community, their suffering will inflame anger in the group most likely to loot and riot.  I think we're two weeks away from the first big one, probably less than that.
  • The Fed.Gov is ramming through a $2T, 2000 page "bailout" law that is guaranteed to be larded with goodies for everyone other than the people who are most hurt by the shutdowns.  If 50% of this money does anything other than line the pockets of well-connected special interests it will be a miracle.  This by itself will do further damage to the economy, putting more people out of work or raising inflation (hurting the working poor).  Or both at the same time.
Quite frankly, I can't imagine how things could be worse.  Aesop's worst case scenario of a melt down in the medical community seems to be happening, and every government response I see looks like another toe gets shot off the Body Politick.


It may be that there just is no solution.  I wish I could be more optimistic, but I don't see anyone doing anything remotely sensible.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Is the Italian medical system infected?

The data out of Italy are really interesting.  The pattern of deaths there suggest that very old, very sick people catch the virus in the hospital.  In other words, the virus is simply the coup de grace for very sick elderly patients.  If this is the case, there are very strong implications for the US:
We have to, must, keep the virus out the medical system. 
  • We need to seriously quarantine the sufferers away from other sick people.
  • We need to set up testing facilities at all medical centers and test the medical personnel daily.
  • In areas with a number of COVID-19 infections, we need to set up separate field hospitals. There are a number of commercial versions of these that are expandable by adding modules, and are pathogen-tight, with airlocks at the doors, HEPA exhaust filters and negative air pressure maintained throughout. We know how to do this stuff, we’ve just got to do it.
  • We need to test in-hospital patients at the time of their arrival and continue to test them at intervals during their stay.
  • We’ll have to be very careful with visitors to patients in the hospitals
It’s a big job, and we absolutely have to do it.
Note that we should be doing all of this anyway, but The Powers That Be seem too busy threatening to fire nurses that wear N95 masks.