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Technology Thoughts

SpaceX puts the US back into the space race today!

This is the most important thing happening today. I wish for a perfect launch and I’m hopeful for a resurgence of interest in outer space. Let’s get to Mars!

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Thoughts

Contact Tracing Administration – The future federal waste of tax dollars

Let’s count the days until the Department of Health and Human Services has a new division called the Contact Tracing Administration. Or, maybe it will fall under the Department of Homeland Security since virus infiltration into the nation is sure to be a national security threat.

I can see these agents now showing up at our homes with their little uniforms and most assuredly a badge of some sort. They’ll show up at your house because no one answers the phone call from an unfamiliar number.

The idea is to reach out to everyone who has tested positive for the virus, find out whom they might have inadvertently exposed and encourage them all to avoid infecting others. But an army of 180,000 contact tracers provisioned with telephone headsets and scripts does not guarantee that anyone will want to talk to them, much less follow their advice.

New York Times

These people will be the new TSA. They’ll be called Health Security Agents (HSA), Health Security Officers (HSO), or maybe Contact Tracing Administration Agent (CTA Agent). You know they’ll have to have a nifty three letter acronym.

I predict billions of dollars getting wasted so the government can create huge databases of who we are, who our associates are, and where we go. Combine that with the push to go cashless and the government will own you and your bank account.

Don’t think this can happen? I didn’t think the government had the power to designate some businesses essential and some not. I didn’t think they had the power to shut down the entire US economy. I didn’t think they had the power to shut down religious services. Somehow they don’t have the power to do these things but they did them.

Good luck to us.

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Thoughts

The word “hero” is to small to describe Tango Mike Mike

I’m not much of a flag waving guy. I prefer to wave the Constitution because that document is the most important in the history of the world. But today I’m going to wave a flag a little here because it’s Memorial Day and something needs to be said about heroes.

The word “hero” has been thrown around a lot these days. So much so that it is now applied to people doing their jobs for which they even get paid. And what I just said is not to diminish the work they do and to not say what they do is not important. But to call it heroic is another thing all together.

I just found out about a Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez. The word “hero” is not big enough to describe what he did. We need to use his example to define what true heroes are because to put people doing important work in the same class is insulting to the memories of men and women like Roy Benavidez.

Prior to his heroic efforts in Vietnam he was first sent there as an advisor and was seriously wounded by stepping on a landmine. The doctors told him he would never walk again and they were preparing to discharge him from the military. Benavidez wouldn’t have it. He secretly at night took it upon himself to rehabilitate his condition. He started by dragging himself across the floor of his hospital room to a nearby wall to prop himself up. It took him months but he was finally able to stand and after more than a year he actually walked out of the hospital. Did he go home? No. He went back to Vietnam by choice. But, what I just described above are not the heroics for which he received a Medal of Honor. That’s described below.

Three helicopters attempted extraction but were unable to land due to intense enemy small arms and anti-aircraft fire. Sergeant Benavidez was at the Forward Operating Base in Loc Ninh monitoring the operation by radio when these helicopters returned to off-load wounded crew members and to assess aircraft damage.

Sergeant Benavidez voluntarily boarded a returning aircraft to assist in another extraction attempt. Realizing that all the team members were either dead or wounded and unable to move to the pickup zone, he directed the aircraft to a nearby clearing where he jumped from the hovering helicopter and ran approximately 75 meters under withering small arms fire to the crippled team.

When he reached the leader’s body, Sergeant Benavidez was severely wounded by small arms fire in the abdomen and grenade fragments in his back. At nearly the same moment, the aircraft pilot was mortally wounded, and his helicopter crashed. Although in extremely critical condition due to his multiple wounds, Sergeant Benavidez secured the classified documents and made his way back to the wreckage, where he aided the wounded out of the overturned aircraft and gathered the stunned survivors into a defensive perimeter.

ronaldyatesbooks.com

Below is a short biography on Master Sergeant Benavidez.

Let the story of Roy Benavidez define the word hero and let’s not cheapen what he sacrificed just so others can feel good about themselves.

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Thoughts

Uncle Tom; An oral history of the American black conservative

The question is will African Americans watch this movie? If they do will they believe its content and/or will it change any minds?

The film debuts on June 19, 2020

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Thoughts

Scared of what is not dangerous

We’re now reaping what we have sowed. Anti-bullying, participation trophies, helicopter parents, no keeping score, no more valedictorians, safe spaces, cancel culture, and on and on and on. We’ve been softened to the point where we are scared of things that aren’t dangerous. We have met the boogeyman and he is us.

Imagine if an insurance actuary was so scared of something that she graded it 1,000 times riskier than the data showed. This might be a career-ending mistake. This is exactly what people have done regarding COVID-19: making decisions on fear and not data.

According to CDC data, 81% of deaths from COVID-19 in the United States are people over 65 years old, most with preexisting conditions. If you add in 55-64-year-olds that number jumps to 93%. For those below age 55, preexisting conditions play a significant role, but the death rate is currently around 0.0022%, or one death per 45,000 people in this age range. Below 25 years old the fatality rate of COVID-19 is 0.00008%, or roughly one in 1.25 million, and yet we have shut down all schools and day-care centers, some never to open again! This makes it harder for mothers and fathers to remain employed.

realclearpolitics.com
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Thoughts

Confirmed: SARS-CoV-2 no more infectious than Influenza

I found out about a free course offered by Johns Hopkins University to get certified to be a Contact Tracer. In the course they discuss the basics of the virus and its infectiousness. According to Johns Hopkins University SARS-CoV-2 (which causes the disease COVID-19) is NO MORE INFECTIOUS THAN SEASONAL INFLUENZA (See area circled in red in the slide above). Yes, you read that right. As part of training to become a contact tracer they teach you that you are at no more danger from getting COVID-19 than you are from getting the normal run of the mill average every day FLU.

If this is in fact the case, which I have no doubt that it is because Johns Hopkins University is the authority, what is going to happen to our society when the next flu season rolls around? Or say when a bad flu season rolls around? Do our “experts” and scientists expect the economy to shut down because of this? This is ridiculous.

What is a Contact Tracer anyway? We hear about them in the news all the time as being critical to the nation opening back up and life returning to normal. Well contact tracers are the people that will be intruding into your life to find out where you’ve been and who you associated with under the guise of stopping the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

The people employed as contact tracers aren’t the problem. They will be people like you and me and most likely just people looking for a job. Especially in this time when the government shut everything down. You can be sure a contact tracer’s job will be essential. The problem will be the data they will compile and what happens to it. The data will be a treasure trove of information about where you’ve been, who you associate with, and what you do in your spare time. I don’t know about you but unless we’re dealing with a disease that is like Ebola or a flesh eating bacteria that will kill you in a few days employing these human data miners is a huge infringement on our private lives and personal liberty.

I did pass my course by the way with a grade of 97%. According to them I made two errors. One error I believe is theirs. Here is the question:

Why is building rapport with cases and contacts important for contact tracing? Select all that apply

1. To help them understand that you are in charge

2. To help educate them about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19

3. To help increase the chances that they will effectively isolate and quarantine.

4. To help collect complete, accurate information from them

I answered that 3 & 4 were correct. They said that I should have also included #2. I believe they are incorrect because educating someone about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 won’t help me contact trace. It will only let my interrogatees know about the virus.

My other error is most likely my fault. Here is the question:

In the following exchange, which active listening tool is Jacob using: paraphrasing or reflecting?

Contact: Geez, how could I be sick? I’ve been doing everything I can to avoid this. You’ve got to be kidding me!”

Jacob: You’re angry that you spent time nearby someone with coronavirus and upset that this is happening.

1. Paraphrasing

2. Reflecting

I said Jacob was paraphrasing when supposedly he was reflecting. To me they are the same thing. It’s just repeating back what the other person said. I know I lack the empathy needed to discern between the two. The distinctions are subtle to me.

What they call paraphrasing and reflecting I call annoying parroting. I don’t need someone to validate what I just said. I find it patronizing and quite frankly full of bullshit.

Here’s my certificate by the way.

I wonder what this gig pays?

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Thoughts

What happened to the ACLU?

This is the organization that used to stand up for due process and defend the rights of even the worst people.

If you were looking for more evidence that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been losing its principled approach to civil liberties, look no further: The group has filed suit to thwart Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s recently proposed reforms to bolster due process protections for students accused of sexual misconduct.

Reason.com
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Thoughts

LA Times finally wakes up and realizes that collapsing economies do more harm than viruses

How are the United States and other developed nations supposed to help when we’ve shut down our economies? As many fathers scream at their children, “Money doesn’t grow on trees!”

Born and raised in Brazil’s drought-ridden northeast, she moved with her partner to Rio de Janeiro in 2018, in search of work. He was hired as a janitor; she began selling meals on the street, and soon they were bringing in $280 a month — enough to start saving to one day build a house back home.

The novel coronavirus pushed that dream out of reach. Lima, who has diabetes and heart problems, putting her at higher risk of dying if she contracts the virus, stopped working once the pandemic took hold in her sprawling slum, known as the City of God.

Now it seems that if the coronavirus doesn’t kill her, hunger may.

“We have to pay the rent, and we don’t have the money,” said Lima, 48. “I haven’t even been able to buy beans.”

The economic devastation the pandemic wreaks on the ultra-poor could ultimately kill more people than the virus itself.

The United Nations predicts that a global recession will reverse a three-decade trend in rising living standards and plunge as many as 420 million people into extreme poverty, defined as earning less than $2 a day.

As for the 734 million people already there, the economic tsunami will make it harder for them to ever climb out.

LA Times
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Thoughts

Once infected you’re immune for life?

Professor Delores Cahill from the University College Dublin says that the worldwide response to COVID-19 is wrong and there was no need for the lockdown and few people should have died.

If she is not correct she should be interviewed by the main stream media and her ideas debunked. But, I’m willing to guess that she is correct and she will be ignored.

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Thoughts

Software engineer rips apart COVID-19 propagation model that locked down the world

So now we learn that the software used for modeling the propagation of COVID-19 across the world is shit software. It’s something that is over a decade old and written using poor programming practices. It appears to have been translated from one language to another, the same inputs produce different outputs (which it’s not supposed to do), and the modelers knew of all the bugs in their system and tried to cover it up by saying that averaging out the results would be accurate.

A software engineer, formerly of Google, went through the code and was appalled at what he/she found.

The Imperial code doesn’t seem to have working regression tests. They tried, but the extent of the random behaviour in their code left them defeated. On 4th April they said:  “However, we haven’t had the time to work out a scalable and maintainable way of running the regression test in a way that allows a small amount of variation, but doesn’t let the figures drift over time.”

Beyond the apparently unsalvageable nature of this specific codebase, testing model predictions faces a fundamental problem, in that the authors don’t know what the “correct” answer is until long after the fact, and by then the code has changed again anyway, thus changing the set of bugs in it. So it’s unclear what regression tests really mean for models like this – even if they had some that worked.

lockdownskeptics.org

Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx used this information to help convince President Trump to shut down the country. President Trump’s initial instinct that this was not that big a deal was correct and he should have stuck to his guns.

In essence, we shut down our country and the world for a virus where around 97.5% of the people that get infected fully recover. 2.5% become critical and a percentage of them die. I wish #PeakStupid wasn’t true.