Intersection of aviation and coronapanic: the flying COVID-19 testing lab

From a flight planning service (for Gulfstreams and similar jets):

As mentioned last week and in yesterday’s webinar, we now have a program to help you eliminate the wasted time and risks associated with securing pre-arrival COVID tests on international missions – by getting your N-registered aircraft certified as a mobile testing center.

You administer the tests yourself, safely and discretely onboard your own aircraft. Our lab partner … remotely analyzes the results and issues you a digital COVID test report – accepted in over 150 countries.

This is a new service we’ve been slowly scaling up over the past several months, and it’s proved to be a VERY EFFECTIVE alternate to trying to coordinate COVID testing abroad.

A reminder that the elites who order the various restrictions on crossing borders don’t necessarily have to scramble to meet those restrictions when they themselves feel like traveling…

Related: Let’s look at the other end of the spectrum of general aviation. Here are photos from a stop for Southern Soul Barbecue, walking distance from KSSI, during our Cirrus SR20‘s escape to the Florida Free State:

This Quik GT-450 is perfect for reassuring passengers that a Cirrus, Piper, or Cessna is comparatively safe!

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We care more about Afghan migrants than about homegrown indigent?

Prior to coronapanic, approximately 40 million Americans were suffering in poverty (HHS). To these unfortunates, 8 million were added via shutdowns, mask orders, and economic slowdowns (Bloomberg). Who is first in our thoughts when we’re looking to extend a helping hand? Afghan migrants, says the NYT. “Americans Stretch Across Political Divides to Welcome Afghan Refugees”:

In rural Minnesota, an agricultural specialist has been working on visa applications and providing temporary housing for the newcomers, and she has set up an area for halal meat processing on her farm. In California, a group of veterans has sent a welcoming committee to the Sacramento airport to greet every arriving family. In Arkansas, volunteers are signing up to buy groceries, do airport pickups and host families in their homes.

The moment stands in contrast to the last four years when the country, led by a president who restricted immigration and enacted a ban on travel from several majority-Muslim countries, was split over whether to welcome or shun people seeking safe haven. And with much of the electorate still deeply divided over immigration, the durability of the present welcome mat remains unknown.

(How many Muslims immigrated or traveled to the U.S. during this purported “ban”?)

Uber thoughtfully interrupted my locked iPhone with a notification:

(The canine portion of this image is a friend’s Samoyed puppy.)

Where does the urgent notification lead?

What’s interesting to me about this is that Uber has never notified me regarding the need to help the homeless encamped within a few blocks of their headquarter. From Working in San Francisco today (January 2019):

[the meeting is] inside of WeWork Civic Center on Mission between 7th and 8th wedged between a homeless encampment and emergency heroin detox center. I would recommend picking a hotel in another part of town. … Due to the layout and direction of the one way streets and traffic I’ve found cabs/Uber to work fairly poorly and often take longer than BART. I stopped using cars when junkies started trying to open my door at stop lights.

The described location is literally 2 minutes away from the Uber HQ. As with other rich Californians, it’s not that Uber couldn’t help these people, e.g., by funding construction of an apartment building or the rental of one or more apartments … it is just that Uber doesn’t want to.

Maybe it is because we have more hope for Afghan migrants than we do for people who’ve already failed within U.S. society? (they couldn’t even get organized to collect welfare, which in some states is more lucrative than working at the median wage)

I talked to a Harvard graduate and lifelong Democrat about this. She said “It will probably take three generations before they are fully integrated into American society.” I thought it was interesting that she assumed that adopting our value system was inevitable and desirable. (See also Omar Mateen, the most famous second-generation Afghan-American, reared by “All-American” and “moderate Muslim” immigrant parents.) Is it fair to call the assumption that immigrants would want to assimilate a sign of white supremacy? The U.S. is plainly richer than Afghanistan (Afghans are close to being the world’s least economically successful people), but is the U.S. value and moral system superior to what prevails in Afghanistan? Other than white supremacy, what is our basis for saying that our rainbow flag religion is better than Islam, for example?

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Meth head Sudafed policies adapted for PC sales

A lot of retail in Cambridge, Maskachusetts did not survive the coronapanic shutdowns and mask orders. Micro Center did however, and while up in Boston to retrieve the Cirrus SR20 I stopped in for nostalgic purposes. These are photos from August 26, 2021, shortly before the City of Cambridge went back to its indoor mask order (coronaplague was an emergency on August 27 when the order was enacted, but they decided to let COVID-19 rage until September 3 when the order went into effect), so masks were optional and, in fact, mask usage in the store was lower than the observed voluntary average in Palm Beach County.

As you can see from the below, people can’t buy a PC or video card without presenting a government-issued ID, similar to the process that would be required to purchase Sudafed (a precursor to meth, or so I am told). Even motherboards are limited to 1 per household. (When everyone in the same house uses a single PC, privacy can be compromised; see Au pair to green card.)

And, since I like to follow the examples set by our Presidents (even the one-termers)…. let’s remember that this is Pearl Harbor Day. (“I wonder how many Americans remember today is Pearl Harbor Day. Forty-seven years ago to this very day we were hit and hit hard at Pearl Harbor and we were not ready.”

“In a Bush administration that lesson would not be forgotten,” said Bush, who was a Navy flier decorated for combat missions during the war. “It would guide my defense and foreign policy.”)

Should we be grateful to meth heads for preparing U.S. retailers to distribute motherboards, graphics cards, and PCs?

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Unable to cure COVID-19, physicians turn to planetary physics

“Action on Climate Change Is Urged by Medical Journals in Unprecedented Plea” (WSJ, today):

Editors of 220 leading medical, nursing and public-health journals from around the world called for urgent action on climate change, in a joint editorial published on Sunday.

The editorial, which appeared in journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, the British Medical Journal and The Lancet, warns that current efforts aren’t enough to address health problems resulting from rising global temperatures caused by emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

“Health is already being harmed by global temperature increases and the destruction of the natural world,” the journals’ editors say in the editorial. If unchecked, they say, rising temperatures “risk catastrophic harm to health that will be impossible to reverse.”

In their shared statement, the editors press for “fundamental changes in how our societies and economies are organized and how we live” to limit future global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels—a goal arising from the 2015 Paris climate summit.

“It is an unusual happening and it is driven by unusual circumstances,” Dr. Eric J. Rubin, editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, said of the editorial. “It is evident that climate change is a problem. What is less evident to people is that it is a public-health problem, not just a physical catastrophe.”

“Health professionals have been on the front-line of the Covid-19 crisis,“ Dr. Fiona Godlee, editor in chief of the British Medical Journal, said. “And they are united in warning that going above 1.5 C and allowing the continued destruction of nature will bring the next, far deadlier crisis.

I showed the article to a medical school professor friend: “Since doctors can’t help COVID-19 patients, they need something to stay relevant.”

I remain just as confused as ever about why people who predict impending climate doom also worry about COVID-19. Regardless of coronapanic level and government action or inaction, there is no country in which more than 1 percent of people have died with a COVID-19 tag (stats by country). If something like 50 percent of humans will soon be killed by climate change, absent some sort of dramatic coordinated action by all of the world’s nations (unprecedented in the history of humanity), why spend a huge amount of attention, time, effort, and money on COVID-19?

Maybe doom isn’t impending? The article itself contains enough information to predict certain doom. We are 1.1 degrees C warmer than 150 years ago:

Greenhouse-gas emissions from human activity have raised global temperatures by 1.1 degrees C since the Industrial Revolution began in the mid-19th century, according to scientific studies.

In the excerpt above, the article tells us that 1.5 degrees C is where Mother Earth will strike back by killing many or most of her human parasites. But if the mechanism by which we got to 1.1 degrees warmer is the greenhouse effect from CO2, isn’t it certain that there will be an additional 0.4 degrees of warming? Even if human C02 emissions went to zero tomorrow, wouldn’t there be enough CO2 in the atmosphere to keep us on the Venusian trajectory?

If the authors believe their own cited science, shouldn’t their recommendation be to shut down most health care services and put the money (20% of U.S. GDP!) into CO2 vacuums?

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How relevant is diversity and inclusion to AT&T?

Our Internet provider here in the Florida Free State is AT&T. I was trying to contact them about changing my name on the bill to “Greenspun” from “Greenstun” and somehow landed on about.att.com. Here’s what’s at the top:

If they stand for equality, should we infer that they don’t stand for equity?

As a child of the 1960s, of course I am all in favor of equality, e.g., Equality Feminism. Nonetheless, this is not why I am an AT&T customer. If I scroll down a little, I find out that the company gives equal weight to “Internet & Fiber” and “Diversity & Inclusion”.

I’m assuming that this is a profit-maximizing behavior, but I wonder why. Are American consumers equally interested in diversity and inclusion from an Internet provider as they are in the Internet service itself? Is it that regulators might stumble on this page and a lot of regulators are themselves affirmative action quota-fillers?

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Andrew Cuomo as the modern Boethius

Fortuna’s wheel has spun downward for Andrew Cuomo. Who could have predicted this? Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius, for one.

From Wikipedia:

In 522, the same year his two sons were appointed joint consuls, Boethius accepted the appointment to the position of magister officiorum, the head of all the government and court services. … In 523 Boethius fell from power. After a period of imprisonment in Pavia for what was deemed a treasonable offence, he was executed in 524.

He went from being the most powerful official in the world’s most powerful empire to being imprisoned, in other words. While in prison, Boethius wrote The Consolation of Philosophy. a book that was required reading for scholars until the Age of Enlightenment began in the 17th century. More than 1,000 years of being a touchstone for every educated person in Europe, in other words.

Here’s a question… what important intellectual work could Andrew Cuomo write during his corresponding period of being on the wrong side of the Rota Fortunae? What would it be titled and what would it be about?

My vote is a work that shows that the 7 elements of the modern catechism are not in conflict. Here they are on a Sign of Justice:

Black Americans are the biggest losers from low-skill immigration (NBER), so “Black Lives Matter” and “No Human is Illegal” are in apparent contradiction. “Love is Love” refers to the full slate of LGBTQIA+ and therefore the next line, “Women’s Rights are Human Rights” doesn’t make sense because the term “Women” is no longer precisely defined. “Science is Real” is the kind of thing that Plato would have liked to consider. Is #Science real like a table is real? Or is #Science more real than a table because #Science is already an ideal form whereas the table is merely an attempted (imperfect) implementation of a real table form? “Water is Life” is confusing without reference to the other elements of belief. Is distilled and UV-sterilized water life? Is it “injustice” when Harvard discriminates against Asians? If so, why doesn’t that threaten justice anywhere, much less everywhere?

I’m not sure what this work would be called.

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Wave of death among the elderly bankrupts Social Security

COVID-19 is the world’s greatest source of cognitive dissonance. We are informed by the CDC that roughly 640,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. The same agency tells us that deaths are concentrated among those who are old enough to be collecting Social Security:

Roughly 80 percent of the deaths are 65+.

We are informed by our brightest science-following minds in the media that COVID-19 has been killing people whose best years were ahead of them. Maybe the median age of a death in Maskachusetts was 82, but, absent coronavirus, those 82-year-olds being killed would have lived to 92 and, thus, collected an additional 10 more years of Social Security checks.

What happens to a financial enterprise when the obligation to send 10 years of month checks to hundreds of thousands of people goes away? “Social Security trust funds now projected to run out of money sooner than expected due to Covid, Treasury says” (CNBC, August 31, 2021):

The Social Security trust fund most Americans rely on for their retirement will run out of money in 12 years, one year sooner than expected, according to an annual government report.

The circumstances, which were exacerbated by the Covid pandemic, threaten to shrink retirement payments and increase health-care costs for Americans in old age sooner than expected.

So… our minds are supposed to simultaneously hold the following truths:

  1. COVID-19 kills mostly people old enough to be entitled to Social Security.
  2. The average old person killed by COVID-19 was healthy enough to live for at least another 5-10 years.
  3. Social Security will become insolvent as a result of not having to send checks to those killed by COVID-19.

Unless I am missing something obvious, the human mind is a wonderfully supple device!

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Coronapanic is a huge boon for tenured faculty

A friend gets a guaranteed salary as a tenured professor at M.I.T. If he wants to drive away from his comfortable home, fight through the Boston traffic (back with a vengeance), and work all day in his office, he must comply with all of the procedures laid out at https://covidapps.mit.edu/covid-pass:

He prefers not to deal with this and therefore he has opted out of the system. What’s the consequence to him of failure to comply? He doesn’t have to commute and doesn’t have to work with students except in the rare instances when a student is able to pin him down and demand a Zoom meeting. Excluding infancy, he’s never worked less in his life.

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Cambridge, Maskachusetts back under a mask order

From August 27, “City of Cambridge Issues Emergency Order Requiring Use of Face Masks in Indoor Public Places, Effective September 3, 2021”:

The City of Cambridge issued an emergency order requiring that face masks or coverings be worn in indoor public places. The order takes effect at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, September 3, 2021. It applies to everyone over the age of two years old, with exceptions in alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines.

“I am grateful to everyone in Cambridge who has taken our public health guidance seriously, gotten vaccinated, and done their part to help protect themselves and our community,” said City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “With the rapid rise of the Delta variant, we are issuing this mask order for indoor public places to reduce the spread of the virus and to protect those who live, work, learn, or visit our city. As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will take a data and science-informed approach to our pandemic response.”

“With schools reopening and COVID-19 cases increasing due to the highly infectious Delta variant, instituting this mask mandate for indoor public places is a critical measure to help minimize the spread of the virus,” said Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui.

It’s an emergency situation. COVID-19 is on a rapid (presumably exponential) rise. We have at our disposal a critical measure that we know will save lives. So… let’s wait a week before applying this critical measure!

Separately, my Uber driver in Cambridge on August 27 described what happens in the patchwork coronapanic landscape of Maskachusetts. “They closed the gyms in Boston, so thousands of people started coming to my gym in Quincy,” he said. “It was so packed that I couldn’t use any of the machines.”

Harvard, meanwhile, is #FollowingTheScience by closing the outdoor venue of Harvard Yard to walk-throughs… from 5 pm to 3 am (so everyone who wants to visit Harvard Yard must be sure to crowd in during the limited opening hours!).

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In-person versus virtual learning effectiveness

Now that the school year is upon us, with periodic coronapanic shutdowns following positive PCR results, it seems like a good time to share the results from our MIT ground school course. We’ve taught this as an in-person class multiple times and once as a Zoom plus prerecorded lectures class (MIT Video Productions recorded the 2019 lectures). Considering only registered MIT students, scores on the FAA practice test were approximately 10 points lower (out of 100) after the virtual class compared to the in-person class.

(Of course, I don’t expect the demonstrated ineffectiveness of virtual instruction to convince the Shutdown Karens to reopen schools! #AbundanceOfCaution and #FollowTheScience)

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