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.