The Sun-Dried Tomato Violin

My 5-nearly-6 year old son Grandon complained his little 1/8 violin was boring.

Mostly he meant the sound, but the grain-less orange finish isn’t exciting either, so I decided to use it for a refinishing project.

My Sun-Dried Tomato Violin
Actual sun-dried tomatoes

(Grandon also has another view of it – looks like a volcano eruption. Well, if 5 year old’s had money I’d be a rich violin maker. I can do eruptions!)

I ran out of finish remover and tried to cover the remains of the orange with a dark brown stain and paint artificial grain. But it kept coming off.

Frustrated I (mostly) removed that and covered it in dark red, by go-to cover-up-mistakes violin color scheme. Hmm, not bad. Scrape off the edges to give it a little definition. I was going to stain those caramel and blend it, but I decided to ask Grandon. He likes things better when he chooses.

Keep the red and nearly-white. OK, so just a little Tung oil for gloss and done, except for the waiting. Neither of us wanted to wait more than a day, so I hung it in the sun to dry.

Outside, hanging in a bush, it just looked like a tomato drying in the sun. So I asked Grandon about the name. Keep that too. Thus I present to you, the Sun Dried Tomato Violin! (Awww…, thank you, thank you, really, it wasn’t anything, just covering up mistakes)

Back view, center left, looks just like the tomatoes

COVID Policy is about the Euphoria of Ruling the World

Every two-bit official can now order the world around them to stop. Just. Stop. Even judges. Doesn’t have to be a governor or mayor.

Forget the logic and think about how that feels for a minute. Consciously I’m sure they agonize over it. But the power is incredible. No one is unaffected by that sort of power.

If they admitted they didn’t need to be giving such orders, they’d suddenly feel empty and useless. Kind of like I did for a year after retirement. They don’t have to be getting anything else out of it to get hooked. Just the Endorphins. What does an alcoholic get? Drunk, broke, divorced, cited for DWI, but they can’t quit. It’s the same.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Thursday decreed that face masks must be worn in all counties with over 20 coronavirus cases. USNews

Maybe Texas governor Abbott can’t walk (no disrespect intended) but he can order you to wear a mask (no objection, actually) and not gather in groups of more than 10 people (not doing that either, but clearly somebody was).

The Texas forecast was not that bad. I’ve been modeling COVID trajectories for 4 months full time (yeah, retirement flexibility). I’ve published 3 papers on my work and built an international website. Let’s look at the EFFECT of the recent order. Previously, Texas had a pretty good forecast:

We were at the peak this weekend (July 4th) and economic recovery was a good 30% (of a year lockdown losses). Hardly any fall or winter cases despite continual step increases in easing.

Here is the transmission rate chart. It suggest the order was extraordinarily effective. Those points at the end are falling off a cliff:

Looks about like 10% more locked than before. Let’s assume by school in September some unlock about to the previous level will be attempted again. Here is what that looks like.

Oh look Mom, I made the number of deaths go UP 25% by locking down tighter. What?

Yes. Well, the near term cases fall off a cliff, so of course Texans will demand to be unlocked, and that’s what Gov. Abbott promised, “billing the measure as a requirement to avoid another economic shutdown“. There are already mask protests.

Look how slowly cases creep back even though the unlock is the same as now, and it’s high season for Coronavirus, winter. By March, when hopefully we are vaccinating people, a minor hump backs down. That’s when I think we’ll really let the horse out of the barn. And despite a vaccine cases will rise nearly to present levels, and the peak will be broader and thus more deadly.

If you think the level of information on coronavirus is a bit iffy (not the raw data, the inability to use it to make decent projections), then take my 12 minute survey which includes a video explanation (5 minutes) of how this stuff works, and gives you interactive access to the model right in your web browser. Uses Texas for an example, but you can type in the name of any state or country and it comes right up. Put in your own unlock levels and see if you’d make the grade as an epidemic manager! Ultimate gaming! Life and death reality! Click to begin your journey.

Let’s end Optimism (before it ends us!)

Protesters demonstrate against the national security law in Hong Kong (01/07/20)
Democracy protestors in Hong Kong defying both COVID and a new law promising life sentences to protest removal of pro-democracy books from libraries, BBC

What? Yes, not a misprint. The handover of Hong Kong to China occurred 23 years ago this month. Oh, sure, it was ill-gotten in an Opium War. So what? China had been ripping off The West in trade for 5000 years and refused to accept any payment but gold for tea.

Gold for tea? You’ve got to be kidding? No, actually, not. Dire circumstances called for dire measures. You can’t really run a global empire without caffeine.

In 1842 in the Treaty of Nanking HK was ceded “in perpetuity.” By 1898 the British, feeling guilty already, rephrased it as a 99 year lease. Brilliant. No wonder the British Empire is no more. I could say something, maybe about Queens or something, but I’ll just let you ponder it. Napoleon at least lost fair and square in a fight.

A little connection with America too. Remember the Boston Tea Party? To help pay for their tea, the British Royal shareholders were granting the East India Company a tax-monopoly on tea imports to the colonies. Exploitative bourgeois American businessmen and slaveowners like George W. didn’t go for it, and fought an 8 year war to protect their own interests. The proletariat went along because they had all lost relatives and land in the French & Indian War (my ancestor in South Carolina – see you didn’t even know the war went that far south).

The real reason the British gave Hong Kong back was they were physically unable to keep it. It is barren rock. All the food and water are in Kowloon and China, which is not Argentina (Falklands, remember?), promised to march in the PLA. See The Globalist for this admission. Stuck with a poor strategic decision, in 1898 the British invented the “fiction” of the 99 year lease thinking they would solve the problem later, not really give it back. But later, beat by two World Wars, seeing the US unwilling to go against China in Korea, they started optimistically rationalizing.

Later, during the Thatcher era, and still later when accomplishing the handover, British desire to sell to the Chinese market was used as leverage by China to secure the Hong Kong deal. The British, in a way, simply sold it. Businesses in Hong Kong also were willing to kowtow to China for profit. See The Last Governor.

But the rationale was that China was softening, and this would soften them even faster. Hong Kong would not become like China. China would become, at least “more like” Hong Kong.

Even the Chinese were overly optimistic. “In 1984, China’s then senior leader Deng Xiaoping told Margaret Thatcher that if China did not become more like Hong Kong when it was time for the area to be fully integrated with China, then they would probably have to wait a bit for the transposition.Even the protesters are overly optimistic:

If we burn you burn with us.

The end of the Cold War, the belief COVID could be “contained,” the idea Democracy was a cure for all ills, that Globalism would make people more cooperative not just extorted and defiant? Optimism will end us.

Why I support COVID parties

I am 69 and isolating. But the cost to me of a year of isolation, at 69, is maybe 12% of my remaining lifetime.

US male life expectancy 78.5 years

My risk of dying from COVID in Texas is two orders of magnitude lower than that:

click for detailed Texas risk profile

My wife, 46, does not want to get COVID. That is the primary determinant of my isolation. If we already had COVID, I could send my son to school in mid August without worrying. We get everything. He won’t follow social distancing at age 6. The small private school will try, and most likely fail.

In Oxford, MS there were some large fraternity rush parties, superspreading events. Here is the county’s forecast following those events. The state forecast is similar, since those kids carry it everywhere. It wasn’t a deliberate COVID party, but my sister, who lives in Oxford and has a chronic lung condition AND a son entering college there, says there have been COVID parties among that age group.

click to enlarge at

Zoom in and you’ll see they are half way to the peak. There is no stopping it. Then by early August they are done.

I wear a mask. These kids don’t bother me. Scientific American says that the way this works is, for future generations babies will be born not immune, they will get COVID and few of them will be seriously ill.

That and not a vaccine is what will control it. It is a free country. If the young are willing let them.

Hospital resources, you say. 80% of people on ventilators were dying. Up to 50% of people on ventilators for that long will die if nothing is wrong with them. ICU availability is no cure. It’s a token effort, to make society feel like it is doing all it can. We’ve since learned most patients just need oxygen, not tubes and blowers. It’s a guilt trip. But why?

In a globalist society, everyone has to conform to the same ideas. That’s what makes it globalist. There is no room for freedom. For choice. Implicitly those leading the COVID fight are globalists, and compliance is more important than effectiveness.

There is something called the Fermi Paradox. It is the mystery of why, if planets are so common, don’t we see any galactic colonizing civilizations? They should be crawling all over the place.

The Fermi Paradox - YouTube

Well they aren’t. Possibly because to surmount interstellar travel civilizations must first become global. But global civilizations no longer can value diversity and fail from choosing a single approach to every problem until they choose wrong. For an introduction see Where are all the aliens? (Kurzgesagt YouTube science channel).

The bottom line: Within 3 weeks of a teen becoming infected at a COVID party, I can no longer get it from them. And their immunity reduces transmission for everyone. As long as they haven’t had COVID, they are dangerous to me.

That state that had the COVID parties? They are done. Today is their peak. COVID will decline so fast there it will make your head swim:

Why a vaccine will make you more likely to get COVID

Components of Transmission

A vaccine is typically reduces your chance of serious illness 30% to 70%.

Mask wearing reduces your chance of catching COVID by 75%. If you give up mask wearing after being vaccinated, you increase your risk by 5%!

Self-isolation, handwashing, minimal trips, avoiding gatherings, social distancing reduce your risk by about 75% or more. If you give those up, again you increase risk.

If you give up both masks and distancing and handwashing and resume picking your nose (we all put our hands on our faces 16 times an hour), then you give up two increments of 75% protection (total about 94%) in exchange for a 30-70% protection.

Percentage risk leads to infection as long as there are people to infect

Not only can your personal chances of getting COVID increase three fold, but everyone else’s can too. That’s why in modeling I frequently see mysterious rebounds months after vaccination begins, like this (the green bump):

Everything you want to know about cases trajectory constraints
click to see larger and updated on

That’s the US in April-May of next year, 2021, if we don’t already build a lot of immunity from infections now.

It’s like 1984 – War is Peace, Good is Evil, Low Infections Now is High Infections Later.

Vaccine can make it worse if you give up lockdown. So vaccine is not the end of lockdown. Immunity is.

The advantage of a vaccine is social. There are fewer people in the ICU. The same cases are processed over a longer period of time.

If you’ve had COVID all the costs and after effects are yours. So is immunity. It will be stronger and last longer than limited vaccine immunity.

The Erasure of All Things

Aunt Jemima (cornbread mix, biscuit mix, syrup, etc.) as well as Uncle Ben’s Rice will be renamed, and re-invented (two different companies involved, Uncle Ben following hours after Pepsico (Quaker) announced the Aunt Jemima re-do.

So … what? If sales were down, sure. And if so say that. These two stereotypes distill ideas from my childhood that have kept me favorably disposed toward blacks (African Americans, whatever they want to be called). I no longer see any reason for remaining favorably disposed. It is just an attempt to erase history, and it will become an attempt to erase non-black races. One has to be real careful not to use race for discrimination, and going around labeling things based on race is discrimination. If it starts, it is really hard to stop. Be sure to scroll down…


So what’s next?

Obviously, Dolly Madison. Here is the history of the brand images.

First, there is the real Dolley Madison, wife of President Madison, for whom the brand was named when introduced in 1937. But the brand was actually used in a movie in 1932 before it existed. The real historical Dolley Madison:


Wow, look at her expression. Quite full of herself. And that dress is as sexist as they come. So she was replaced with something a little tamer and a little blonder:


The bust line is quite a bit higher, and the smile is more innocent than plotting and sexy. But soon this was too racy as well.


Oh, well, drawn not photographed. The implicit sexuality toned down by the presence of the child in the background. By the way, humanity has figured out how to have children without sex, so I’m pretty sure something so historically conflicted and associated with exploitation will soon be taboo. The evolution continues toward abstraction and innocence:


Even more cartoon like, not realistically drawn. Sure, they are holding hands, but there is no sexual connotation. The real Dolley Madison must be rolling over in her grave.


Hmm, endorsement from famous cartoon characters. In the lower drawing, black and white line drawings. Even less realistic. But look at the icon at the top. This is what Dolley->Dolly leads to. First you drop the e, then you drop the whole body. This is hardly even an icon for a computer program:


But there is something fatally wrong still. She is still WHITE and a female that we cannot be sure will not marry a male and have a heterosexual family. We must set all doubts to rest. I understand Dolly Madison plans to announce a name change tomorrow and has hired these two spokespersons to restore flesh and blood honest characters to the cartoons:


I have it on reliable authority from the galactic forecasting computer that by 2120 the following will be the logo for the DDDB (D’Matis Desexualized Deracialized Bakery):


Women leadership styles in 2020

Mayor and police chief of Seattle.  Battered by the action. The topic of “Thelma and Louise” came up in the press conference.  In case you’ve been vacationing on another planet, 5 blocks of Seattle declared independence from the U.S.

Thelma and Louise

Something is wrong with this picture.  The police chief just does not look like she needs to be told Black Lives Matter.  Anyway, moving right along . . .

Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota.  If the voters want to distance or not distance over COVID, that’s their business.  But if they decide to throw rocks, well, the National Guard has already been called.

Noem and the Guard

So much for the police department.  Just skipping right over that move.  I guess she figured they already failed if the protestors got that far.  Um, yeah, probably.

Here are just a few of the possible Biden picks for VP.


Uh, can someone remind me of what any of them have actually done, besides the one at the upper right.  I know she totally blew her own presidential bid with weird ideas and gaming her genetic family tree.  Some of the odds makers think Michelle Obama.  That’d be odd.  Well, it doesn’t matter.  This next chic is going to roll over all of them.


Kold Killer, she is.  She might look flimsy, but I bet she’s got an implant in her head that activates nuclear missiles.  Probably she’s already done away with her brother.

I have just one question.  The world ruled by women was supposed to be, I don’t know, “different” or something.  How is any of this different?

America’s Color Revolution is in progress

As we speak, or browse the web, a district in Seattle has been declared police-free, the CHAZ or Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.

OK, so they are just protesting, right?

Hmm, depends.  If they start making demands and the government starts granting them without consideration of other voters, or possibly even elections, then it is a Color Revolution like in Ukraine.  There were a bunch of them.  They all failed.

For that matter, the Arab Spring revolutions, very similar, also all failed.

They didn’t fail to make changes or replace governments.  They failed to produce any good result.  They succeeded at producing miserable results and continuing war and poor economies and getting people killed.

The same thing will happen here.  We have no insurance policy against mass hypnotism and craziness.  It will infect us too, just like the virus.

It’s not just the protestors.  Our police behave just like the oppressive police in those failed revolutions.  I’m not saying one side is right and the other wrong.

I’m saying they are both wrong.

Color Revolutions fail because they don’t embrace the rule of law.  See

Color Revolutions aren’t spontaneous.  They are carefully organized and well funded.  See

People resort to revolution not because they are oppressed.  A continuously oppressed people just stay that way.  They happen because people lose what they have, rapidly.

The Seattle section that gave rise to Chaz is described here as “a hub of the city’s trendy arts scene that has been gentrified in recent years as tech workers drive up property prices.”

So the trendy-arts people, out of work because of COVID-19, having their rent driven up astronomically by west coast technology companies (Amazon, Microsoft, Tableau, Cray, Zulily, Redfin), currently financed by unemployment if they are lucky enough, have time on their hands and a lot of legitimate complaints.  But the one that they see as getting the most traction is BLM due to George Floyd.

Color Revolutions don’t “succeed” because they are organized by people who aren’t able to actually seize power in the target countries.  If the US sponsors a color revolution in Ukraine, it isn’t going to actually take power.  No one in Ukraine planned it and is competent to assume power.  If some liberal organization funds BLM in the US, likewise it isn’t going to actually seize power, and the politicians associated with ultra liberal (or ultra conservative) organizations are usually incompetent.

What happens is these color revolutions just make a mess out of society.  Wise up and go home.  Don’t be somebody else’s stool pigeon.  I’m speaking to both police and demonstrators.

About half the US, some argue more, have been trying to remove their President for 4 years.  Many would embrace “any means necessary”.  It looks uncertain whether they will be able to remove him in the next election.  So they protest.

A few years ago the “other side” held protests, the Tea Party.  Since they gained some political power, the country has been gridlocked politically.

I am simply chronicling the demise of our political system.  I’d say “go get a job” but that’s not politically correct while COVID-19 is “in the air.”  Unless you are an essential worker.

Well, that is the rub, isn’t it?  Only the essential workers are actually needed by society.  The rest is just make work, entertainment.  All proposals to solve this (UBI, etc.) amount to the same thing.


The Curious Distribution of Country Populations

If one plots a histogram of country populations, it is NOT a bell curve:

country populations linear scale

This means it is not random, at least not Gaussian random, and the populations are not independent of one another.  There is some relation.  But if plotting on a log population scale there is more of a traditional shape:

country populations log fit

It’s not exactly a bell curve, nor even a Pareto-Levy distribution.  Though it has fat tails they are not just extended but up turned, severely at the low end with countries under 100,000 population (countries are plotted at the top end of the bracket they fall in).

Earlier I wrote: “If you have some idea what’s going on, please leave a comment.”  No one responded.  But eventually I stumbled across what this is.  It is a Log Normal Distribution.

Instead of the sum of many small random variables, which produces an ordinary Gaussian distribution, it is the product of many small random variables – multiply them together.

An example of such a mechanism is if the growth of an entire country depends continuously on a certain small factor, an interaction with others, a resource such as a harbor, mine or farm, etc.  If the dependence is on-going, not just a one time consumption of a resource, then a multiplicative product describes the relation.  OK, that makes some sense.  It’s not so strange.

But this is.  Such a distribution is a maximum entropy distribution.  Things will tend toward that distribution over time, inevitably.  Once achieved it is stable.  You won’t permanently change it by having a demonstration and overthrowing the government, no matter how much you want to.

So is our world country distribution going to change to knock off the points that stick out?

It already has.  The above chart doesn’t reckon in the European Union.  The point that sticks up too high is 7 countries that can be distributed back either into the EU or the Russian block.  They aren’t really independent countries.

Adding the EU to the chart would be a dot to the right of the US, filling some of the gap with India and China.

And some day India or China might break up.  Both have no real majority language and are composed of essentially separate regions speaking their own language:



Spaceflight vs. Covid-19

Virgin Galactic says they are unsure how COVID-19 will affect their future operations.  After all, it is largely financed by profits from Virgin Atlantic, an airline.

SpaceX was going to send cargo ships to Mars in 2022 and crew in 2024 to start building not a base, but a city.

SpaceX Mars Colony

I guarantee you the US Government’s plans are nothing like that.  Boot-prints and gone.  And little chance of ever pulling it off within the political funding cycle.  I should know.  I worked on it for 45 years.  That number should tell you something right there.

Musk was going to finance SpaceX’s Mars plans from selling electric cars (Tesla) and internet service (Starlink).  Well, COVID-19 has nicely shut down his electric car factory and he is suing Alameda County.  Fat lot of good that’ll do by the time it is settled.  He should just go ahead and move it.  But even then, a lot of people are not going to have money to buy the cars.  At least 40% of the world has been shut down.  And there was actually complaint about him launching a Starlink payload during the shut down.

What you are seeing is the first hints of a Fermi Catastrophe.

A Fermi Catastrophe is one kind of solution to the so-called Fermi Paradox.  There are lots of stars older than the sun, and so Earth should have been visited by an extraterrestrial civilization, or at least their probes.  We’ve no evidence for it (despite conspiracy theorists – they call them theorists because there is no physical evidence).  So where are the aliens?

My theory is they were all destroyed by a social catastrophe.

If you thought I was going to say by a virus, sorry to disappoint you.  COVID-19 is not by itself lethal to civilization.  By the wildest estimates it might kill only one in 200 people, raising by half the annual death toll, and then be gone, lost to herd immunity.

COVID-19 is potentially lethal to our civilization because of our reaction to it.  We are killed by our own efforts to avoid getting sick.  Much like most patients who die, do so because of their own immune reactions.  The virus is already declining when they die.

My argument briefly is as follows:

  1. The energy and coordination needed for interstellar travel requires an integrated planetary civilization.  Or businessmen equivalently powerful.
  2. A planetary civilization, regardless of form of government, will be dominated by consensus.  Even assuming it forms a consensus to attain interstellar capability, it still must then deal with other problems as they arise using consensus.  That is, a single planet-wide approach, more or less.
  3. Due to the time required to develop and execute interstellar missions, many unrelated problems of intense magnitude will confront this civilization.
  4. Due to the consensus approach, it must make the correct choice every single time.  Evolutionary diversity of approach no longer exists.  Therefore we could say this civilization is designing itself.
  5. We don’t have examples of successful systems any more complicated than an aircraft ever having been “designed.”  An aircraft is extremely simple compared to either a civilization or a life form.  The longest civilizations of the past lasted barely more than 1000 years, not nearly enough time to reach interstellar capability.
  6. Economies are not designed.  Lots of governments tried that (e.g. communism) and it never works.  Major modifications to our economy are usually terrible.  The long-term damage from the COVID lockdown is still not comprehended by governments.
  7. Non-planetary civilizations don’t consume all the resources necessary to make a civilization, and their fall does not happen everywhere on the planet, it is not catastrophic.
  8. Successful businessmen who might finance interplanetary or interstellar travel will eventually be crushed by one of the consensus decisions of their civilization.
  9. Some situations are not even determinable in advance.  A solution can only be expressed as probabilities, but the civilization must choose one consensus approach.  Eventually, however small the chances of their being wrong, it catches up with them.
  10. Therefore eventually a catastrophe befalls every would-be interstellar (i.e. consolidated-planetary) civilization, and its members who might be capable of organizing and funding such efforts.  This prevents them from becoming an interstellar civilization, and so I call it a Fermi Catastrophe.

Note, Fermi just asked “Where are they?”  The Fermi Paradox was postulated and described in 1975 by Michael Hart.  It was simply inspired by Fermi’s question.  Lacking any other valid argument with which to dispute Hart’s conclusion (which goes much further than I do), it has become popular of late to criticize him for dragging Fermi’s name into it.  That is really spurious argumentation (the Strawman Fallacy, i.e. attacking something other than Hart’s actual argument, something that can be easily attacked).

The following distinguish Hart’s, Fermi’s and my arguments:

  1.  Interstellar travel is too difficult (Fermi’s assumption).  Civilizations are confined to planets.
  2.  Civilizations don’t exist because they would achieve interstellar travel and we don’t see them (Hart).
  3.  We can’t prove it one way or another if the prohibition against interstellar civilizations prevents us from investigating.  So the distinction is irrelevant (Shuler).