Thursday, July 16, 2020

Questions that I would like to see answered

by Don Keith

Really, I'm not trying to cause trouble here. I know COVID-19 is one bad bug and we should mitigate as requested to help prevent its spread. That makes sense even in a normal cold and flu season. But please, help me find the answers to some questions the media seem to have forgotten to answer:

1- Why do media insist on showing us that "Total number of cases" line graph? Of course it is a steadily rising curve and will continue to get higher...unless we suddenly have NO new cases. The data are cumulative! With number of cases on the x axis and time on the y, the graph will get fatter as time goes on. Or until there are zero new cases. Or until time stops.

2- Corollary to that question: Why does the total number of cases since the beginning not equal the number of people who have recovered, the number of active cases currently, and the total number of deaths from the corona virus? You've either recovered, have it now, or died from it, right? Those numbers are not even close to each other. What happened to all those folks not accounted for?

3- Is it true that anyone presenting to a hospital with viral pneumonia is automatically classified as suffering from COVID-19? I've heard this from more than one reliable source. Even though there are many, many other causes of viral pneumonia besides corona. And if someone is tested, say, six times and is positive three times and negative three times, does that count as three more cases of COVID-19? I know people who have tested four times with two negatives and two positives. And each is still without symptoms.We've all heard those stories of test people submitting unused swabs that came back positive. Or that swabbed a peach that apparently has a raging case of COVID-19. I have no verification of those kinds of things.

4- How come we don't know why there has been a surge of new cases in many states over the last month that had previously been relatively unscathed? We've been studying this virus for six months now, and similar ones for years, and we apparently don't have a clue. You can't blame it all on the bars, the beaches, or the political party of the governors can you?

5- Corollary question to #4 above: Is it possible that this surge could be related to dramatically increased testing? See this article about accuracy of the current tests being done.

6- That, of course, would not explain the increase in hospitalizations and deaths. Something is going on. Surely the vast, well-funded communicable disease bureaucracy can tell us what's up and suggest ways to fix it. Besides everybody going into a bunker, I hope. I do hear phrases in the media like, "...deadliest day yet..." and "...record-breaking new cases..." But I do note that these are coming in states and areas where positive tests and deaths were very low before, so records are not that hard to break if there is an increase in either. And with far fewer cases in the past, that leaves a much bigger group with no immunity, right? Or am I way off base here?

7- And then there is that big grab bag of rumors, guesses, wishes, and naysaying. Do kids carry the bug and infect us old folks while they stay well? Are we killing more people by using porous,filthy, germ-saturated, carbon dioxide-trapping face masks than we are saving with them? Does the virus remain alive on an elevator button for about two seconds, two minutes, two hours or two days? (I've heard all four!) Does your blood type, diet, IQ, blood alcohol content, or sign of the zodiac have anything to do with your likelihood of catching this mess? Is stress really a factor? Do the meds we've been hearing about for months really help, and if so, why is nobody talking about it in the media? Has the death rate eased or not? And why, if a six-year-old comes down with COVID-19, is it "Dancing With the Stars"-program-interrupting breaking news? But if a thousand recovered people in the country are dismissed from the hospital today, we never get the word? Just the shots of somebody who looks like death warmed over being wheeled out, barely able to manage a weak wave to the cheering medical professionals lining the hallways, as if to say, "Well, we pulled one through, I guess."

Again, we're pretty far along with this thing now and we're spending billions worldwide, but either nobody is telling us what we really need to know...or I've been so busy living and writing and laughing and growing tomatoes in flower pots in the backyard that I've missed the answers to these questions.

More reading: this article contains some arithmetic. But dive in anyway. It will still make sense to most of you. And hopefully cause you to ask your own questions.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

News you may have missed while engaged on social media

by Don Keith

THEY TELL ME 95% OF YOU GET 100% OF YOUR NEWS FROM SOCIAL MEDIA these days…so I thought I’d bring you up to date on a few stories you may have missed.

You may have heard from others that both the Washington Redskins NFL team and the Cleveland Indians MLB team are considering new names because the ones they’ve used for most of a century are now offensive and causing considerable offense and psychic pain to some folks. But you may have missed these similar breaking stories:

The Dallas Cowboys are also coming under pressure to change their name. We’ve all seen those John Wayne and Clint Eastwood westerns in which the cowboys brutally shot indigenous Native Americans right out of the saddle. Plus, in some circles, the word “boy” is considered a racist term while also being sexist and discriminatory to members of the LGBTQ community, who are offended by any such crass, hurtful designation of gender. And environmentalists assure us that cow flatulence is destroying the planet while vegans are quite upset that we glorify beef in this or any other way. Some of the latter are proponents of renaming the Cowboys as “The Rutabagas.” They maintain the time has finally come when we should use names of prominent root vegetables for our athletic teams. (Remember, too, that Clint Eastwood, of “spaghetti western” fame, came right out in public and addressed the Republican National Convention several years ago, acting as if there was nothing at all evil in doing such a thing. Or at least he addressed an empty chair there on the dais. That, alone, should be sufficient reason to discard the “cowboy” moniker!)

Similar actions are imminent for the Oakland Raiders, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Pittsburgh Pirates. You surely know the atrocities committed by those similarly-named, lawless brigands not so long ago in our country’s history. Maybe you don’t, because you studied history in college, and most of it has been properly expunged—note that very soon, the American history textbook will be a pamphlet, as it should be!—but trust me, those were some bad thieving, killing, ship-sinking dudes. Or, I should say, misguided individuals who would have benefited from self-awareness therapy and anger management intervention by a qualified professional counselor. But that was before we recognized the value of re-directing taxpayer dollars from the police to such far better solutions for combatting crime. Yes, the pirates mostly robbed, pillaged and killed European explorers, which is no reason for criticism against them. As we now know, those imperialists were only interested in bringing the rule of their royalty, their religion, and their syphilis to the so-called New World. But the bandits also did some bad stuff to the indigenous people of the Caribbean, including burying chests of plunder and allowing the dead bodies of European imperialists to wash up on their pristine beaches, creating early pollution issues. Even worse than a plastic straw up the nose is having a dead European stuck to the snout of a struggling sea turtle.

Finally, I note that the San Diego Chargers will have to change both their names this fall, first because they are no longer located anywhere near San Diego, so it makes no sense to tie them to that city (don’t get me started on the San Diego Padres, whose name insults people everywhere who are hoping to remove any designation of gender in the words we use to describe each other, as well as that horrid name doing so much to crush the feelings of atheists, who prefer their tobacco-chewing, crotch-scratching athletes not be saddled with such a painful and Catholic title). But the real reason so many are having their feelings bruised by the name “Chargers” is because their team name shows a lack of respect for those who are being crushed by credit card debt and mammoth student-loan obligations. A number of truly woke organizations note that the team’s slavish devotion to the evils of capitalism should not be celebrated. And since free college tuition is absolutely a birthright (another strike against the old white men who wrote that silly constitution under which we continue to operate a nation), a four-quarter reminder every Sunday afternoon and again on the scoreboard/highlight shows of the economic evils promulgated upon us by greedy billionaires is simply not acceptable.

Okay, those are some of the top stories you may have missed while busy on social media perusing pictures of people’s cats and culinary dishes you could never make yourself in a million years (but still posted the picture from the recipe web site, hoping somebody might think you cooked it and took the photo). Stay tuned.