Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Still Growing A Lot

The number of covid cases continues to climb rapidly.
8/29/2021: 155,575 new cases / day -- Now (7-day average)
8/15/2021: 130,709 new cases / day -- 2 weeks ago
8/01/2021:  79,904 new cases / day -- 4 weeks ago
7/18/2021:  32,287 new cases / day -- 6 weeks ago
6/22/2021:  11,299 new cases / day -- Nadir for cases

Deaths more than tripled over the last 4 weeks, and are up by a factor of 6 since their nadir, 8 weeks ago.  If only 98% of deaths are among the unvaccinated (it was 99.8% in June), then that's one death among the unvaccinated every 68 seconds (and one death among the vaccinated every 55 minutes 23 seconds).  I know which group I'd rather be in.

8/29/2021: 1290 new deaths / day -- Now (7-day average)
8/15/2021:  678 new deaths / day -- 2 weeks ago
8/01/2021:  363 new deaths / day -- 4 weeks ago
7/18/2021:  266 new deaths / day -- 6 weeks ago
7/05/2021:  213 new deaths / day -- Nadir for deaths

Monday, August 30, 2021

America's Longest War

WASHINGTON (AP) - The United States completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan late Monday, ending America's longest war and closing a chapter in military history likely to be remembered for colossal failures, unfulfilled promises and a frantic final exit that cost the lives of more than 180 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members, some barely older than the war.

-- "Last troops exit Afghanistan, ending America's longest war" by Robert Burns and Lolita C. Baldor, apnews.com, 30 August 2021

Friday, August 27, 2021

Truth In Checkmate

The "ideas" of the average man are not genuine ideas, nor is their possession culture.  An idea is a putting truth in checkmate.  Whoever wishes to have ideas must first prepare himself to desire truth and to accept the rules of the game imposed by it.  It is no use speaking of ideas when there is no acceptance of a higher authority to regulate them, a series of standards to which it is possible to appeal in a discussion.  

-- José Ortega y Gasset (1883 - 1955), Spanish philosopher, The Revolt of the Masses (1929) Chap. VIII: The Masses Intervene In Everything, And Why Their Intervention Is Solely By Violence

Thursday, August 26, 2021

A Thread

You think that a wall as solid as the earth separates civilization from barbarism.  I tell you the division is a thread, a sheet of glass.  A touch here, a push there, and you bring back the reign of Saturn.

-- John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir (26 August 1875 - 11 February 1940), Scottish novelist, poet, and politician, The Power-House (1916) Ch. 3 "Tells of a Midsummer Night"

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

I Want Better

People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it.  Better yet, build it.  Predicting the future is much too easy, anyway.  You look at the people around you, the street you stand on, the visible air you breathe, and predict more of the same.  To hell with more.  I want better.

-- Ray Douglas Bradbury (1920 - 2012), American fantasy, horror, science fiction, and mystery writer, Beyond 1984: The People Machines (1979)

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

The Thing

Memory is the thing you forget with.

-- Stuart Alexander Chase (1926 -), American journalist and editor, Perspectives, 1966

Monday, August 23, 2021


We are issuing Department of Health and Human Services U.S. License No. 2229 to BioNTech Manufacturing GmbH, Mainz, Germany, under the provisions of section 351(a) of the PHS Act controlling the manufacture and sale of biological products.  The license authorizes you to introduce or deliver for introduction into interstate commerce, those products for which your company has demonstrated compliance with establishment and product standards. 

Under this license, you are authorized to manufacture the product, COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA, which is indicated for active immunization to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in individuals 16 years of age and older. 

The review of this product was associated with the following National Clinical Trial (NCT) numbers: NCT04368728 and NCT04380701.

-- Approval Letter addressed to Pfizer-BioNTech from the US Food and Drug Administration authorizing the used of Comirnaty, the Pfizer covid vaccine, 23 August 2021

Friday, August 20, 2021

Intellectual Integrity

I mean by intellectual integrity the habit of deciding vexed questions in accordance with the evidence, or of leaving them undecided where the evidence is inconclusive.  This virtue, though it is underestimated by almost all adherents of any system of dogma, is to my mind of the very greatest social importance and far more likely to benefit the world than Christianity or any other system of organized beliefs.

-- Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell (1872 - 1970), British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic, The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell, 1903-1959 (1992), p. 598

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Often Unintended

No wars are unintended or "accidental".  What is often unintended is the length and bloodiness of the war.

-- Geoffrey Norman Blainey, AC, FAHA, FASSA (1930 -), prominent Australian historian, academic, philanthropist, and commentator with a wide international audience, The Causes of War (1973)

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

New Variant

But even if you were such a libertarian extremist that you opposed vaccine requirements, there's no conceivable justification for banning private business from requiring vaccinations.  When Cruz insists, "No one should force anyone to take the vaccine -- including the federal government or an employer,” he is trampling on property rights and freedom of association, principles a small-government conservative like Cruz usually defends fanatically.  Suppose, for instance, you want to enjoy a cruise with the peace of mind that everybody onboard has gotten a vaccine, and a cruise line wants to sell you that experience.  A traditional conservative or libertarian would describe that as a capitalist act between consenting adults.  DeSantis believes the heavy hand of government should step in and make that contract illegal.

Let's not pretend Republicans would care about rights for anti-vaxxers if their ranks didn't include disproportionate numbers of Republicans.  Only the identity-politics aspect of the anti-vaxx, anti-mask crusade has driven Republicans to turn against their customary reverence for freedom of contract.  DeSantis hinted at the logic in unusually revealing terms two weeks ago.  "I'm sick of the judgmental stuff.  Nobody's trying to get ill here,” he lectured reporters.  "Let's not indulge that somehow it's their fault for not [getting vaccinated].”

Of course nobody wants to get sick.  Nobody wants to die in a car crash or go to prison, either, but some people drive drunk or commit felonies anyway, and generally people like DeSantis judge their behavior. ...  What principle grants somebody the extraordinary right to walk onto another person's property and spread a deadly virus?

-- Jonathan Chait, Intelligencer, A New Variant of COVID Denialism Has Emerged, 16 August 2021

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

On Average

There are, roughly speaking, an equal number of vaccinated and unvaccinated Americans.

This week, on average, a vaccinated American died of covid every day.  Some days it was 2 vaccinated Americans.

This week, on average, an unvaccinated American died of covid every 2 minutes and 10 seconds.

7-day average daily deaths as of 08/15/21: 678
Percentage of deaths among the unvaccinated: 99.8%

Please get vaccinated if you can.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Highly Unlikely

Well, first of all, the mission hasn't failed, yet.  There is in Afghanistan -- in all parties, there's been corruption.  The question is, can there be an agreement on unity of purpose?  What is the objective? 

For example, it started off -- there were going to be negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan National Security Forces and the Afghan government.  That -- it didn't come to fruition. 

So the question now is, where do they go from here?  That -- the jury is still out.  But the likelihood there's going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely. 

-- President Joe Biden, responding when asked, "Mr. President, how serious was the corruption among the Afghanistan government to this mission failing there?", Remarks by President Biden on the Drawdown of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, 8 July 2021

Friday, August 13, 2021

Matthew & Adriana!

Congratulations to the newlyweds, my nephew Matthew Appleman, and his lovely bride Adriana. 

Thursday, August 12, 2021


A rationalist, as I use the word, is a man who attempts to reach decisions by argument and perhaps, in certain cases, by compromise, rather than by violence.  He is a man who would rather be unsuccessful in convincing another man by argument than successful in crushing him by force, by intimidation and threats, or even by persuasive propaganda.

-- Sir Karl Raimund Popper (1902 - 1994), Austrian and British philosopher and a professor at the London School of Economics, Utopia and Violence (1947)

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Progressively Adequate

Knowing reality means constructing systems of transformations that correspond, more or less adequately, to reality.  They are more or less isomorphic to transformations of reality.  The transformational structures of which knowledge consists are not copies of the transformations in reality; they are simply possible isomorphic models among which experience can enable us to choose.  Knowledge, then, is a system of transformations that become progressively adequate.

-- Jean Piaget (1896 - 1980), Swiss developmental psychologist, famous for his work with children and his theory of cognitive development, Genetic Epistemology (1968) -- First lecture

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Too Familiar

I have been too familiar with people.  My sense of humor can be insensitive and off-putting.  I do hug and kiss people casually, women and men.  I have done it all my life.  It's who I've been since I can remember.  In my mind, I've never crossed the line with anyone, but I didn't realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn.  There are generational and cultural shifts that I just didn't fully appreciate, and I should have.  No excuses.

-- New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's, announcing his resignation, 10 August 2021

Monday, August 09, 2021

To Blink Facts

It is as fatal as it is cowardly to blink facts because they are not to our taste.

-- John Tyndall (1820 - 1893), Irish physicist, Fragments of Science, Vol. II (1879), Science and Man

Friday, August 06, 2021

I Just Think That They Pong

Sea lions are not like seals, the fools,
They have articulated flippers,
Go to private boarding schools,
And wear expensive slippers.

Sea lions are so snooty,
They are smooth and trim,
And none of them are cutey,
Because they're all too slim.

Sea lions get up my nose.
They show off to crowds,
They prance about and pose.
They're far too pompously proud.

I'm not saying they're stercoricolous,
Don't get me wrong,
I'm not at all jealous.
I just think that they pong.

-- Sebastian Seal, Novosibirsk, Siberia, 21 February 2010

Thursday, August 05, 2021

A Sea Lion

Geography is the key, the crucial accident of birth.  A piece of protein could be a snail, a sea lion, or a systems analyst, but it had to start somewhere.  This is not science; it is merely metaphor.  And the landscape in which the protein "starts" shapes its end as surely as bowls shape water.

-- Annie Dillard (30 April 1945 -), American author and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1974, Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters (2009)

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Contrary Assumption

We have lived by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. ...  We have been wrong.  We must change our lives, so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption that what is good for the world will be good for us.

-- Wendell Berry (5 August 1934 -), American philosopher, poet, and social activist, The Long-Legged House (1969), "A Native Hill"

Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Author And Finisher

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected?  I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us.  It cannot come from abroad.  If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher.  As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

-- Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865), 16th President of the United States, The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions: Lincoln's address to the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois (27 January 1838)

Monday, August 02, 2021

Still Growing

The number of covid cases continues to climb rapidly.

8/01/2021: 79,904 new cases / day -- Now (7-day average)
7/18/2021: 32,287 new cases / day -- 2 weeks ago
6/22/2021: 11,299 new cases / day -- Nadir
2/17/2021: 77,814 new cases / day -- Previous comparable rate

Deaths are up, but not nearly the 3x from nadir that cases made me fear.  Perhaps breakthrough cases, which rarely result in death, are diluting the death rate.  With about 1/2 of Americans vaccinated, the current death rate among the unvaccinated is about twice what it appears compared to, e.g., 1 year ago when 0% of Americans were vaccinated.

8/01/2021: 363 new deaths / day -- Now (7-day average)
7/18/2021: 266 new deaths / day -- 2 weeks ago
7/05/2021: 213 new deaths / day -- Nadir for deaths