Important stuff

While so many idiots are trying to replicate Medieval society by ‘taking a knee’ cancelling BLM heretics, ‘climate change deniers’ and all those other bagatelles, I’m busy watching the truly interesting stuff going on down in Texas. Musk’s project at Boca Chica for example has a certain Heath Robinson (or Rube Goldberg) air about it.

There’s a sort of wonderful chaos going on with spacecraft prototypes being built in plain sight while construction goes on all around. And the state has little to do with it. It is truly inspiring to watch.

And I’ve had a gutful with all the middle class white kids with nothing better to do making all the fuss in Seattle and suchlike. So I prefer to watch the minor miracles being performed rather than sink into the seething sick morass of self loathing being pushed by radical leftist morons, who no one wants to send home after a well deserved spanking. That and have their money supply cut off. Which they so richly deserve.

The one upside of this whole coronavirus pandemicky thingy thing is that many ‘liberal arts’ colleges are in financial difficulties, and a number have shut up shop for good with more to follow. So all the snowflakes will have to find something else to do. In the meantime, the riots will continue. Until the politicians let the Police off the leash and the courts hand out some serious jail time for these cultural vandals.

Anyway, I’m focusing my attention on the antics of Mr Bezos and Mr Musk who are currently doing wonderful things to advance the course of humanity, rather than try to drag us all down into a slough of pseudo-medieval conformity and corporate serfdom like the ‘protesters’.

What I want… (The simple desires of a complicated man)

A place to live,
Someone I love,
Somewhere to strive,
Maybe a dog,
A beach to walk,
That way I’ll thrive.

We’re heading off on the next great adventure. Family have been informed, with predictably mixed reactions. At least all the toilets are now working or we’d have nothing to go on.

Fuck it. Whose life is it anyway?

Regards,

Bill

Toilet troubles

Aaand as the Policeman said, to paraphrase an old joke, we’ve less to go on. One of our toilets is missing. Fortunately we have two bathrooms, but what this does is put one bathroom completely out of order. Specifically Mrs S’s domain. A matter that has led to some mild domestic friction.

As we currently live in rented accommodation, maintenance is our landlords issue to deal with. While the outside world appears locked down or subject to rioting and cities burn, more practical matters colour our days. Specifically being the minor inconvenience of being restricted to one bathroom. These frame built houses are warm and well insulated enough, but if you get a leak anywhere, it can be a real detective story to find where all the trickles come from.

The issues are that this; we live in a 1980’s built apartment where the wiring and plumbing don’t match the plans. For example, the shower pipework in one bathroom was never secured properly and has a habit of flexing slightly every time it is used. Now we find that there are two long term leaks in the second bathroom and utility room. Nothing major, little more than sweating from the joints.

The original build was bodged a little, presumably to keep things within schedule and price, as these things so often are.

The bathroom leak is from the wax sealing ring between the toilet and what is tweely referred to as the ‘black water’ outlet set in the floor. Meaning every time we flushed a droplet or two escaped from between the sealing ring and pipe into the surrounding floor. Over time this has caused a wet patch to lurk unseen between pedestal and floor, resulting in a small amount of staining in the apartment below.

So, the toilet has been disconnected and the floor is currently drying out. Which gives the guest bathroom a slightly surreal, but fortunately not too noisome, air. All the bathroom bits are sitting in the shower and the throne, so to speak, is sitting in a plastic tub like a rather unusual beige footstool.

The second leak is from where our washing machine overflow is plumbed into the wall. When the last washing machine was fitted, the overflow was bodged in and at the top end of the pipe, the wall fitting became slightly disconnected from the down pipe, only by a crack, but enough when the washing machine is spin drying that when the overflow backs up, a thimbleful of water sloshes out to trickle down the exterior of the pipe. Again, this gets between the studding and eventually stains the wall downstairs.

Christ alone knows what the wiring actually looks like behind the plasterboard. No wonder only a couple of the kitchen outlets can handle a microwave.

However, that’s a minor inconvenience as we’re heading out of Canada. My non-working days are currently filled collating quotes from movers, arranging cleaners for when we move out in September and all the sundry tasks associated with such a shift. Paperwork is the biggest burden. However, we are getting all our financial and legal ducks in a row and, toilet troubles notwithstanding, will be leaving Trudeaupia for good this year and the clock is ticking.

It’s been an interesting decade or so. Now it’s time to move on as things this side of the 49th are heading downhill with no likely hope of return. It’s only a matter of time before Ottawa and the provinces work out how to implement ‘social credit’ scores on the population using Covid-19 as an excuse. So we’re getting out to somewhere within reach of civilisation whilst we still have relative freedom of movement.

Haircut

Finally managed to get a haircut today. Nothing much, just a usual shearing as my few remaining hairs upstairs were getting a bit wild and woolly. Wearing a surgical mask while having my hair cut was a first. Finding out that the barbers I managed to get an appointment at would be fined twenty thousand dollars if I didn’t wear a mask gave me a serious “WTF” moment.

Twenty thousand dollars? If that’s not taking the piss, I don’t know what is. Hey, but my less than flowing locks needed a thorough shearing and tidy up, so I played along, even if I do think it’s seriously over the top. The worst of this pandemic has been over for weeks. The time for masks has come and gone.

The worst is over Bill? What utter nonsense. We’re all going to die howwibly in pools of blackened pus if we don’t cower in our homes like frightened mice in full PPE don’cha know.

Erm.. Riiight. Let’s do the math, as our colonial cousins are wont to say. Reported stats are as accurate as can be expected at time of writing.

Global infection count; 5.9 million out of a global population of 7.7 billion. Total deaths of those who died whilst infected with the Covid-19 virus even if that’s not what actually killed them; 362,731 (29th May). I’m going to be generous and round the death figures up a bit to 385,000. Just to get a picture of what might be the final total. Doing that, we get a global death rate of roughly 0.005% as an estimate. Current actual percentage of deaths from the global population calculates to 0.004705987012987013%.

By contrast, estimates of the Spanish flu pandemic death count from 1918-19 run to 50 million out of a global population at the time of around 1.7 billion, which gives us a percentage death rate of about 2.941176470588235%. Just under three people per hundred. Working by those population figures, the Covid-19 death rate would produce an excess 850 excess deaths in the entire world. The Spanish Flu epidemic wins by a whopping 50 million to 850. So Covid-19 is 1/635th less lethal as the flu epidemic of 1918-19 was. Think about that. Less than six hundred times less likely to kill someone? That and the figures are bottoming out. This phase is over. SARS-Covid-19 is, epidemiologically speaking, a damp squib. At least until November, when cold and flu season starts to pick up again.

Never mind all the people who died awaiting treatment when there was excess hospital capacity and medical staff were being ‘furloughed’. This whole situation has been badly mismanaged.

Another thing which is filtering through to my attention is the excess death count in old people’s homes, which is where the majority of deaths have occurred. This only occurs where infected patients have been returned to these facilities before being fully recovered, thus spreading the infection into a vulnerable population where co-morbidities are abundant. This has happened a lot in Quebec and Ontario and is most prevalent in Democrat administered States below the 49th parallel. Not so much in Republican administered states. A state of affairs which brings mention of ‘corporate manslaughter’ drifting through my mind. Has there been a cynically applied policy to cull the elderly by certain administrations? A thought that makes my cynicism meter strain against the stop. If so, was it by malignity or just outright incompetence? Either way, when this is all over there will be many cases to answer.

Like being compelled to wear a mask while having a haircut, this whole situation has devolved from an unknown threat to the outright bizarre. It’s got to the point where far too many people are frightened of their own shadows. As are our ‘leaders’, although I think they’re more frightened of an ignorant and rabid mainstream media trying to score points in a propaganda war and are simply throwing bones to keep the dogs busy.

On the plus side, the carnations in our little deck garden are putting up a fine display, and our two roses are budding very nicely. Unfortunately, since we are leaving BC shortly for good I am going to have to give up my experiment with citrus plant growing. The Lemon tree and grapefruit plants I have been nurturing will have to go. Never mind, I’ve proved it can be done, so I can restart the experiment when we land elsewhere.

Old school

So, the evidence is in.

Fresh air, sunshine, good diet, moderate exercise and good basic hygiene are your best way of avoiding getting sick. From any respiratory disease. Extra Vitamin D and a little extra zinc won’t come amiss either. While a bunch of cowardly politicians shut down whole economies, making us all wait for some miracle vaccine, which may not work or even be downright dangerous as some have posited. For a virus that only really kills the already sick.

I tend to avoid flu jabs for two simple reasons. First; the mutation rate of this class of viruses is very high, so any vaccine will not work as well as one for say, Yellow Fever, Polio, Diptheria, Mumps or Rubella. Second; I react badly to that class of vaccination. It temporarily weakens my immune system. This is a personal thing and I’m not sure why it is.

For example; whenever I’ve had a flu shot I can guarantee that I will get the next influenza virus that the vaccine didn’t cover, which I tend to be rather vulnerable to. So, I politely demur when such a vaccine is on offer. I know I will get sick if I have the jab, so instead of vaccination I take my vitamins, get out as often as possible and and go my merry way.

Other vaccines against viruses that do not mutate as quickly as those which attack the respiratory system I have no problem with. I am not an ‘anti-vaxxer’. Life has taught me that I have certain metabolic vulnerabilities like some people have allergies to shellfish or nuts, ergo I consciously avoid the things that I react badly to. The odd liver and bacon sandwich doesn’t come amiss either. Mainly because I like the taste, but also because liver is dirt cheap and chock full of things like vitamin A, folic acid, iron, and zinc in a readily digested form. All good for the immune system. On a cold winters day liver and bacon is always good for a boost when I’m feeling a bit peaky. An apple or orange at least once every other day helps too. Much tastier than any vaccine.

But then that’s always been the case. Well nourished people who get plenty of sunshine and fresh air tend not to get sick very often. This is simple old school stuff. And just because something is old school doesn’t mean it is bad or worthless. Quite the opposite.

Ghost town

A short musical (?) interlude. A blast from the 1980’s. Never liked it myself, and I never liked Coventry much, or the Specials, but having taken a perambulate around the malls and deep into downtown this morning, I think it’s appropriate.

Downtown Victoria BC, a normally slow Sunday bustle has everything but tumbleweed, and the only reason we didn’t see any of that was that we didn’t stay very long. Most of the stores are closed with only a few fast food places offering take-outs. Further out, malls are guarded by single worried looking security guards who apologetically tell any visitors that the stores are mostly closed.

This is a government created economic depression. No lives have been ‘saved’ from the coronavirus. Indeed a number will have been lost as the direct effect of an imposed lockdown which should have lasted three weeks at the most, then the restrictions lifted everywhere but care homes for the elderly and vulnerable with existing pre-conditions.

I haven’t reckoned the total damage to my investment portfolio yet, but between Mrs S and I we think we took a hit of forty to fifty thousand dollars. And we got off lightly.

Probability bingo

Got into a minor comments spat with a certain gentleman on Youtube recently over the Wu-flu pandemic lockdown that our spineless politicians don’t currently seem to have a plan for getting us out of. At least in Canada the lockdown rules are being applied very unevenly. Politicians may go to their Summer cottages or visit friends and family, but should your average John Q Public try it, the Cops are all over them like a cheap suit.

It’s a bugger if like me you need a decent haircut and you can’t get one because all the barbers are still closed ‘by order’. Although the politicians all look well groomed enough in their TV appearances. Doesn’t look like their significant others are doing their haircuts either. Boris Johnson excepted. We’re talking Canadian politicians here.

Anyway, I stated four known facts for which I had primary source information, a ‘thought crime’ for which this person labelled me and others ‘simple minded conspiracy theorists’. He may have been right about them, but I was not amused about being lumped in with the real tin foil hat wearers. He pointed anyone who was interested to a ‘debunking’ video by someone calling themself ‘potholer24’. I won’t link to it, but I found this specific ‘debunking’ video full of rather dubious rhetorical traps for the unwary.

In my quest for evidence this exchange gave me pause for thought and I thought I’d check my sources and run an additional evaluation of them. Were they primary as I thought, or simply part of anti-Chinese Communist Party propaganda from Australia, India, Taiwan and other English speaking Asian sources?

There’s a form of decision making I use that I call ‘probability bingo’, which loosely translates as “If the facts line up”, which is the process I use after a ‘reductio ad absurdum‘ exercise to cut through the media corn. This is the rational threshing floor upon which I try to winnow reliable facts from Fark. It’s not an exact process, but as a quick and dirty decision making tool, normally good enough.

My algorithm normally works like this; Someone has stated a ‘fact’ which to me sounds counter-intuitive, I ask myself – is this a real or a political fact? What is the supporting evidence? How accurate are the sources? Or are they simply trying to snow me with rhetorical tricks?

Say for example that someone makes the claim that the EU has kept the peace in Europe over the last seventy years. Do the facts support this? No. NATO has secured peace in the West in counterbalance with the USA forming the largest part of an occupation force along the eastern border of mainland Europe. The EU has no military component (yet), but it’s member nations, as a part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, have done so. The claim that the EU has ‘kept the peace in Europe’ fails the probability bingo test because it only crosses off one number on the probability bingo card, whereas NATO, as a military organisation, under the leadership of the USA, has provided a bulwark against possible aggression from the East and Soviet Russia, thus making at least one line across and a couple of diagonals as well on my probability bingo card. Not quite a full house, but close enough.

As for the other claims that the EU is somehow a benign institution and not a club for bureaucrats who could not run a bath in real life, one need only read the content of the EU’s own web site. It’s all there. The plans for a common Police force, armed forces and intelligence service. Ever closer union. Well it was when I last looked. If they’re bragging about it on their own web site, the likelihood that “It’s just a conspiracy theory” can be safely pointed to as a form of conspiracy theory in it’s own right.

Similarly; the probability bingo for the origins of Covid-19 tend to line up. Chinese state media were, several years ago, lauding one of the lead researchers from the Wuhan lab for bravery shown during his collection of bat virus samples to find the cause of bronchial infections to miners in caves some 40-50km from Wuhan. So there is a high probability of virus samples being brought back to that lab for inspection as that was his base. The Wuhan lab in question has also had multiple reports of poor containment protocols from US Diplomatic sources as far back as 2016. CCP employed researchers have demonstrated a singularly cavalier attitude to biological samples, even to the point of being found with such samples in their carry on luggage passing through US customs. Then there was the well publicised arrest and deportation of three Chinese researchers from a Canadian lab for nicking biological samples and sending them to China. Pictures have surfaced of Wuhan lab workers injecting bats / taking biological samples from them at the Wuhan lab wearing street clothes. Hardly good practice. The bat species host to the original Covid-19 variant A, were not known to be sold in the notorious ‘wet’ market of Wuhan. Assertions to the contrary have no supporting evidence apart from a couple of doctored photographs. So, the probability bingo score for a lab release is not a full house at this juncture, but one line across and a diagonal are good enough for an educated value judgement. Representatives of the Chinese Communist Party can threaten and bluster all they like, but the basic facts line up against them.

Nothing matters but facts. All else is rhetoric.

Because these observable facts line up, there is a high probability, but not yet conclusive proof, which incidentally, we may never obtain because of the major arse-covering going on in CCP quarters, that the original virus was being worked on within the Wuhan lab. Whether the Covid-19 viruses release was accidental or deliberate one can judge from the immediate reaction of the local CCP chiefs, who first went into denial, then panicked with massive over-reactions. The probability bingo score, or burden of proof if you like, indicates that this release was a cock-up rather than conspiracy.

That evidence of ham-fisted local covering up of the virus release by local Chinese Authorities is known and documented. The release became a pandemic because the response was delayed for weeks, thus allowing regional, then national and international contamination. The current propaganda blitz of denial, like “Oh no, it ain’t so” or “You’re a waaaacist” can be dismissed as pure “Quia inquam sic” (Because I say so) rhetoric and thus not credible as there is no hard data to back it up. Likewise ‘debunkers’. You cannot argue from a vacuum.

So, does this make me a ‘simple minded conspiracy theorist’? I say not. I may occasionally toy with conspiracy theories because there is a possibility they may contain some small truths, but I do try to moderate my curiosity with a well honed scepticism. As for being ‘simple minded’, I leave that for my last remaining reader to judge.

Breathe

Just had an unexpected alteration notification for our flights in September which had me going for a moment. Turned out to be nothing more than a change of aircraft, but my own reaction caught me off guard. I almost lost it. An unsuspected panic rolled up my spinal chord and tried to throttle my brain. Which came as a nasty shock. I had no idea I was so tightly wound up.

That was while I was still awaiting my Covid-19 test results and whatever fallout that might bring, so I suppose that was preying on my mind somewhat. Work too has been less than issue-free. Despite working hard to keep my little bit of the economy rolling, dark clouds were looming over my employment prospects, yet again. Still, these little anxieties creep up on you. What’s the one about being up to your arse in alligators while trying to remember that you’re supposed to be draining the swamp? Me too.

Two good bits of goodish news have followed on from Tuesday’s appointment, my cough has loosened up and the sensation of tightness in the old tubes has turned into each clearing of throat bringing up a little clearish sticky phlegm. So the extra vitamin D and Zinc supplements appear to have done their thing. And the Doctor just rang. Not his office, our new locum doctor. I am officially Covid-19 lurgi free. Which is nice. It was a different virus. Oh joy.

One thing that would lower my stress levels to below boiling is for the disappearance of the nightly seven o’clock chorus of rattling pans and wind chimes, honking horns and cowbell ringing. This, we are informed, is supposed to ‘thank’ hospital staff. How the hospital staff will know I have no idea, perhaps they have amazing hearing. Considering people are dying because they aren’t getting treated for heart disease or cancer because all the hospitals are waiting for a crisis that just went sailing on by in late March, I think those ‘thanks’ should be moderated somewhat. I also hear rumours that medical staff are being ‘furloughed’ because there’s not enough for them all to do. Which would tie in with my observations of the bored staff at the testing station on Tuesday.

Jesus H Christ on a velocipede! Is the world really this freaking stupid or are Mrs and I the last sensible people left alive in our neck of the woods? All Canada and the rest of the world needed to do was shut the door on mainland Communist China and the threat would have subsided long since. But no, the powers that be, at least here in Canada, are still busy trying to virtue signal everyone to death.

They’re not even intelligent enough to be considered halfwits.

Excuse me, I’m just off to collapse onto the bed with the relief that we’ve just successfully surfed over another series of mini-crises. I just need a little time out to breathe and count my blessings.

A testing time

Went for my Covid-19 swab today because I’d been feeling a bit tight in the old tubes and coughing more than I should. Also because I was a little curious. In retrospect this was a bad decision, but we can all be wise after the event, can’t we? Remind me never to go to a hospital again unless I really, really need to. Those people really scroll my knurd. They don’t seem to be able to take ‘No’ for an answer, which at one point began to seriously irritate.

Arriving at the testing centre a little later than my specified appointment time, I was requested to remain in my car and drive into a barnlike plastic canvas shed twelve feet or so high and ten wide staffed by three nurses in various forms of PPE. One in full PPE, the whole deal, plastic apron, surgical mask (Not an N95) and full plastic face shield, transparent arm length gloves, had a swab test ready. Another, a staff nurse or sister by the look of things wearing ordinary blue scrubs busily typed my details into a portable computer terminal. A third nurse sat in a chair some twelve feet away looking bored.

At no time did another vehicle arrive with anyone else for testing in the twelve minutes while I was there. I was the only one in the queue.

“Hi. Sorry I’m late. Took a wrong turn” I said and identified myself.
“That’s okay.” The girl in full PPE handed me a surgical mask. “Can you put this on?” So I did. “Can you describe your symptoms?” She asked, so I gave a brief rundown of my fairly mild symptoms which were easing. Hey, it was a sunny day and an excuse to get away from my desk, so why not?
“Can we do your blood gases?” Which was an odd request, but I said okay and they stuck that little gadget for measuring blood O2 levels on my finger. It came up within normal range. She asked me about my symptoms again and I spent the next five minutes explaining that no, I didn’t need to see a doctor, my symptoms were mild but easing. No, I’d spent far too much time indoors and probably needed more fresh air and exercise than anything else. And what I was suffering from was bronchial irritation, not chest pain.

It’s like I was speaking in another language, as she insisted on referring to a mild but receding discomfort and bronchial congestion as ‘pain’. No I didn’t feel feverish, no the condition did not ‘come and go’ nor the ‘pain’ radiate. I began to feel like these guys were seriously bored and wanted to talk me into a set of cardiac tests which were neither needed or wanted. Perhaps they were looking for something, anything to break the monotony. Besides, I had the full range of cardiac blood tests done last year and they all came up fine. Haematocrits well within range, platelets a little low, but that’s no bad thing. White cell count fine. Haemo goblins all happily wending their way through my arteries and veins. Heart problems flag up in those values long before they start causing infarctions (Heart attacks), this is basic diagnostics. Had the same conversation with a heart surgeon on this topic under 12 months ago and he confirmed that Bill Sticker’s ticker is tickety-boo. As did my GP on the follow up.

Finally, after me refusing for the third time to go for cardiac tests, the girl in full PPE announced that she was going to do the Covid-19 test. Which is the only reason I had attended in the first freaking place. So I closed my eyes and let her stick an oversize cotton bud up my nose and into my sinuses, which was more uncomfortable than the coughing and spluttering I’d been suffering from. Then she handed me a two page leaflet telling me what to do in terms of social distancing etc for every eventuality short of a meteor strike while I waited for my test results. After that exchange, somewhat reluctantly, they let me go and I took the pretty way home. Like I said. Maybe they were just bored.

This experience has reinforced the notion that this whole Covid-19 business is way overblown. The tests do little but find current infection. They do not either tell you at what stage of the infection you are at or track the more important immune response. If they’d just done the swab I could have been in and out inside three minutes. Hell, a simple blood test could have been done in that time.

Hey ho

When that I was and a little tiny boy,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day.

Well I’m going in to be tested for Covid-19. To have a naso-pharangeal swab sloshed around me sinuses and sent to stand on the naughty step for forty eight hours afterward to wait for my results to come in. To which Mrs S retorted. “Well Bill, what hast thou wrought?”

We’d discussed the possibility last week while I was feeling a few sparkles less than my usual glitter. I’ve had a little tight feeling in the tubes and a morning cough that seems to have a will of its own, so I thought “Why not? I might find out whether or not I’ve had the wretched disease so I can move on with my life.”

So this morning I made the call to my Doctors office, saying I’d like to be tested. Just in case. They said they’d give me a call back. Five minutes later I got a call from a call centre worker, to whom I recounted my rather mild symptoms. She said she’d get back to me. Another five minutes late the phone rang. It was the call centre person again, who gave me an approximate testing date. Tomorrow. Late morning. To which I said “Fine. I’ll be there.” I looked up the site online and this was followed ten minutes later by another incoming call. From the same call centre worker. “I’ll get the nurse to call you.” A nurse has time to call me? Okay. Two more brief calls from a nurse, who took a short medical history from me to confirm what I had on my records matched hers and we arranged the time. With detailed instructions on where to go, who to talk to and what to do.

But not so fast Mr Sticker. During the calls I established that the local health bods are only checking for if you’ve got the wretched Chicom Disease in the here and now, not running blood tests for antibodies so they can get a picture of the Provinces immunity. Which would be a far more useful picture to have, as, if as I strongly suspect, that immunity to this nasty bug is a lot more widespread than the politicians and media might think. Wouldn’t that be more useful to know? Track the immune response within a population rather than trash the economy by locking it down forever and ever? Or does no one have a cheap and reliable blood test for the two main types of antibodies? Or are the public to wait forever for a vaccine? Which won’t do anyone much good if they’ve already had a bout of a disease and their white blood cells have already been programmed to produce antibodies when a particular infection occurs. Because that’s the simple model of how your immune system works. Infection / exposure, recovery, immunity.

Yes I’m aware of what some of the ‘experts’ have been saying, and some of it doesn’t make sense. My training is thirty plus years out of date. But I can remember enough to get by, and what I don’t know, I know where to look and who to listen to. The thing is that there’s a whole heap of plain, unadulterated bollocks being talked by otherwise educated people. Like about disease spread and how immunity is generated.

Now I wasn’t a hundred percent sure, so I looked it up that you can have innate (Natural or Nonspecific) immunity, which may be hereditary, natural, species, racial or individual. Acquired (Specific, Adaptive or Memory) immunity like from being vaccinated. Or finally an active or passive immune response. For a more in depth description, follow this link. All biological pathogens follow this response. This is the state of our knowledge. Immunity 101 for dummies. All else is wild speculation.

If I have managed to catch a bout of the dreaded lurgi, it may mean even more time sitting alone in my office with just four screens for company. But I’ve managed almost nine weeks so far since March 10th. Nine bloody weeks.

At least there are some reasonable buds on the roses. Hey ho.

The wrong experts

What is it with believing in mathematical models? Modelling is great for certain purposes like fluid dynamics and airflows where most of the variables are known and can sometimes help find out where the modelling is lacking. I’m not saying mathematical models are useless, but if they are incomplete or worse still, written in spaghetti code, they’re probably worse decision making guides than playing pin the tail on the donkey.

Let’s take for example the mathematical models for Covid-19 mortality from Imperial College. They have been way off by orders of magnitude. And when I say way off, the models predicted tens of millions of deaths. We were all going to be dropping like flies and have our worthless cadavers thrown into ditches. The reality is, at the time of writing, well under three hundred thousand deaths globally. Current public data here. Add to that little snippet that we are past the yearly peak for respiratory illness in the Northern Hemisphere.

The Imperial college models have failed time and time again. Their stochastic methodology is deeply flawed and has led to several public policy disasters, the current protracted UK lockdown being but one. Another was the foot and mouth epidemic that decimated UK agriculture in the 2000’s leading to kilometre long pyres of dead cattle burning in British fields. The one before that, Creutzfeldt Jacobs disease variant (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) that was going to see millions of gibbering and senile zombies lurching around Britain if anyone so much as looked at a British sourced beefburger. Total deaths over the last three decades? Under three hundred and fifty. A number of those being vegetarians who had never so much as sniffed animal protein. The vast majority of cases from sources like contaminated human growth hormone and badly sterilised implants, but none via blood transfusions, as the mathematical models from Imperial predicted.

They call the UK Governments advisory body SAGE. What form this sagacity is supposed to take makes you wonder. Perhaps SAGE could do with some better experts.

Baking day

And today’s special is ….. wait for it Pork pie! Aaaand a game pie made with chicken, bacon and a little sausage. Unfortunately the local deer have vanished, so no venison. Not enough bunnies around either. So I had to make do with what protein was in the fridge. The leftover sausage meat filling some store bought frozen puff pastry. See below.

However, the hot water pastry is all my own work, and the game pie facsimile on the top left looks good, with the one pound (ish) Melton Mowbray style pork pie top right even better.

Victoria is not a great place, if like me, you are a fan of traditional English savouries. Our local stores have not seen a Pork pie since November 2019. So I have to cook my own. Which I do rarely, but the recipe is fairly straightforward. I won’t post the text on the main blog as it can get a bit involved, but I will give the how-to’s their own page under ‘cooking for conspiracy theorists’ along with my recently perfected recipe for Szechwan sauce, which makes fried rice zing and heats the mouth nicely rather than give you paint stripper breath or send you running for the cold tap.

That’s it really. Today has been a baking day because some chump thought it would be a wonderful idea to shut down a resource I needed to do my job effectively. Yes, because that’s exactly the right time to shut down ten percent of the companies online infrastructure. I shouldn’t complain really because it means I got to cook some old time favourites. It makes a pleasant change instead of staring at spreadsheets all day.

Oh, one last thing for my one remaining readers edification and amusement. A series of parodies culled from YouTube made by some very talented and bored people. Enjoy.

And finally (although there are many, many more)

Fresh air and exercise

Work is frantic at the moment. I’m busy. But I try to get out of my office every couple of hours when the sun is shining to roll up my sleeves and just breathe deeply for ten minutes. This I believe will help me shrug off any potential lurgi because sunshine helps with vitamin D production. Vitamin D being essential to the immune system. I’ve also been taking extra Vitamin D (200UI per diem) and zinc supplements (The dietary kind) and some Echinacea, which I’m told helps the immune system shrug off upper respiratory tract infections. Not sure if they work, but, as the man said plummeting past the 30th floor, “So far so good.” A well balanced diet should have enough D, Zinc and other substances, but a little extra never hurts. I’d take a little Quinine as a precautionary anti-viral, because you need all the help you can get in this current pandemic, but it’s not available over the counter over here. Well, not that I’ve seen. So I’ll go without. Besides, if your immune system is in good nick, you probably won’t need it. Let your mast-t white blood cells do the heavy lifting.

Hey, I’m in one of the vulnerable age groups, so it pays to be cautious. I go by what I was first taught at home, thence later in hospital; mask up, take a supplement, keep your hands to yourself and wash your own hands frequently. And get out in the fresh air for a walk as often as possible. That which is disparaged as ‘folk wisdom’ by the powers that be over here in Canada, who have hardly covered themselves in glory during this pandemic. They’ve done all the wrong things; kept people indoors, fined them for ‘unnecessary journeys’, even chasing them out of public parks and off their front yards, which is incredibly stupid and counter productive. To reiterate; Fresh air is good for you. Staying indoors not good. Do I have to add ‘FFS!’. The Federal Liberals are totally unfit for purpose. As for that Tam creature (Some say it’s not a proper woman) repeating bad health advice just like the current leadership of the WHO. Stay indoors? Whoever gave that direction needs a serious reality check. Especially to an outdoor nation like Canada.

To be blunt, anyone forcing you indoors on a sunny day wants you to get sick. Seriously. This is because any house, no matter how well cleaned, is a sink of infection. Germs and viruses are a part of our lives. We ‘shed’ them all the time as part of our bodies natural processes. E.Coli, the various forms of Staph.aureus and a host of others are endemic (a disease or condition regularly found among particular people or in a certain area). to any household. Especially if you have kids. Even if living alone you swabbed your kitchen tops and bathrooms you’d be amazed at the various stuff you’ll find lurking thereon. You could of course burn everything to the ground, but even then something microbial would remain.

By way of a visual proof I’ve been trying to track down an old 1970’s public information film for schools about a suburban family who had paint put on their hands and were allowed to just go about their daily routines in a house mockup. Within five minutes, the spread was obvious in big paint splodges in some of the most surprising places. Not just doorknobs but everywhere. Furniture, clothing, carpets, walls, doors, windows. Everywhere. Each of those paint marks, the narrator told us, was where microbial agents (Bacteria & viruses) had spread to.

It is also useful to point out that bacteria and viruses do not, on the whole, like ultraviolet light in concentrated doses. There is a lot of UV in natural sunlight outside on a sunny day, even here above the 48th parallel. Which is why I step out onto our modest deck at every opportunity. If I had a garden I’d be out in it. Fresh air and the great outdoors are good for you, not only in promoting vitamin D conversion but also in killing the lurgi. Keeping people indoors, especially for those with darker than Northern European skin, could be classed as attempted genocide (I know, I know, it’s a bit of a reach). We are outdoor creatures at heart and this pandemic should drive that lesson home with a five pound lump hammer. Hiding indoors is not good for anyone. Viruses and bacteria luurve indoors. They hate UV.

You know the saying that “Sunlight is the best disinfectant” – well it’s true. Kind of. For a given value of “truth”. The more intense the UV, the less bacteria and viruses like it, although like with all things, too much is harmful to human skin and eyes. This is one of the reasons why flu season tails off in Spring and sunny countries like Australia haven’t suffered so much as northern Europe. It’s also why cultures that cover themselves top to toe will suffer more from any given infecting organism.

Bearing the aforementioned in mind; any tickets and fines issued to people just for being outdoors should be thrown out by the courts. And anyone ratting out their neighbours just for going out should be identified, permanently ostracised, bankrupted, ridden out of town on a rail and exiled to somewhere they can do no more harm. Like Antarctica. They are not fit for decent society. Only closet Nazis (Not the imaginary kind, the real nasty little sh*tes with all the social graces of a herd of incontinent Wildebeest) tell on their neighbours for something so petty. These are the same closet Nazis who will cower in their closets when the real bad guys are prowling about you understand. Oh they talk the big talk about ‘community’ but never, ever step up to the plate when needed. When the sunlight of disclosure hits them, you can have endless fun watching the bastards scuttling for cover like cockroaches.

Anyway, rant over for now. Work calls and I’m feeling fairly chipper having been given one of the nicest compliments I’ve ever had from Mrs S. Came completely out of the blue last night. I was being my usual jocular self prior to settling down to read in the front room when she said; “You know what Bill, there’s no-one I’d rather be in lockdown with.”

I must be doing something right. TTFN.

Coping

Working from home as we do, Mrs S and I are naturally immune from the worst effects of lockdown. We are used to being isolated from direct human contact because of the very nature of our online life. Although normally we get out once a week for a meal or a drink, just to remind ourselves of the general idiocy of the general dyslexic. Which, when we get to do, is oddly reassuring. However there comes a point where even we get stressed. Eight weeks without a timeout is rather extreme, so a much overdue break would be nice.

The golf courses locally have been open for over a week, but nowhere to go afterward, or we’d be cadging invitations to the nineteenth hole, even though both of us detest the silly game.

On the plus side Mrs S is finally discovering the worth of my somewhat eccentric sense of humour and is applying it to herself. She is finding my twisted punsterism somewhat therapeutic, as I do. It’s a useful coping strategy. We have to find our fun where we may. Just to lighten the load.

I’m sure there are many scientific papers written on coping mechanisms in solitary and not so solitary confinement, perhaps even those on the negative social and psychological effects of enforced indolence. And I’m still of the opinion that all the fines issued by the Police should be cancelled / thrown out by the courts.

On the topic of fun. Mr generally annoyingly smug Vietch has an obtuse but highly entertaining sense of it. Plus an excellent prop. See below;

Well it brought a smile to my face.

Who was that masked man?

To the dump, to the dump to the dump dump dump… as the loan arranger sang while riding into the sunset with a dustbin on the back of his horse.

On the home front, Mrs S has picked up an unpleasant 48 hour tummy bug. No idea where from. We haven’t been going out much over the last seven weeks except for essential purposes and have been doing the whole physical distancing / wearing gloves and masks. I had the same thing on Wednesday / Thursday and I’m pretty good about washing my hands and personal hygiene. So it must be something we ate. This led me to flush out things like the butter dish, clean the fridge and eliminate any food borne vectors as much as possible. Which is all you can do under the circumstances. She’s on the mend, poor lamb and will be fine by Tuesday.

This post is about masks (again)

Having actually worked in the front line in a hospital, we were used to wearing masks, and I even got a severe wigging on one occasion for picking up a filter, rather than a surgical mask while doing my OT (Operating theatre) placement several decades ago. The guy below reinforces what I was always taught, that the standard surgical mask is just as effective, if not slightly more so, than the much-vaunted N95 respirator.

Of course those selling N95’s will tell you different, but they are wrong because all face masks leak around the edges. The only way to get containment is with a full, air sealed Level A Hazmat suit with an independent air supply and / or filtration. The all over type with big hoods and clear panels. Or an aqualung respirator with positive pressure.

Besides, if you’re working in OT, the standard surgical mask is way more comfortable and doesn’t chafe or leave nasty red marks on your face after only half an hour. All any mask will do because, as I have said before, a masks primary purpose is reduce the radius of infection. Which is why surgeons and operating theatre staff wear surgical masks plus disposable clear face shields. Masks to contain the droplets that we all emit when breathing, and face shields to prevent backspatter from possibly infected patients. Prior to HIV and MRSA, highly infectious patients were rare, so wearing a face shield was not as common as nowadays.

A Sarcastic gentleman abroad.

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