My Experience with Covid and Paxlovid

I recently made a trip to California with my wife and for a souvenir I returned with a case of the Chinese Commie Crud (tm Sgt. Mom). My SO has been fortunate not to have received the same luck so far. What follows is my experience with the virus and the drug that I was given, along with a slight side trip down the messy insides of the American health care system.

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Covid and Credibility

So it is fairly certain that Damar Hamlin took a hit to his chest at just the right time, angle and force to inflict sudden cardiac arrest. The correct term for this relatively rare occurrence is “commotio cordis”, although a fair number of comments to various news stories – comments from the public at large and experienced professionals alike – initially wondered if it was the result of a vaccination for Covid, since there seem to have been many incidents in the last few years of fit young athlete-types suddenly dropping from heart attacks during practice, games, or just going about daily life. Neo at Neo-Neocon attributes this to a wide-spread misunderstanding or misreading of statistics, arguing that sudden cardiac arrests in young and relatively young healthy athletes are happening about as frequently as they have pre-Covid – it’s just that we are paying attention and noticing such anomalies.
Perhaps; perhaps not. Perception, reality, anecdote, or data. The unsettling thing about this is that our trust in the accuracy of news and social media reports, of the studies of so-called medical experts and our elected officials and bureaucrats has been so degraded of late that it’s honestly hard to be certain of much, other than what was once considered to disinformation, or a conspiracy theory is now turning out to have been true after all. After so many exaggerations, reversals and outright fraud over the Covid epidemic it would be almost impossible for most people to accept any authoritative conclusions about the dangers posed by the Covid vaccines and boosters. What to credit in a climate of doubt and distrust, save that which we have either directly experienced first-hand, or those whom we trust have experienced and reported?

The trouble is that we never had – or were permitted to have had a free and fair public discussion about Covid, and those methods and means of effectively countering the epidemic, starting from the jump. Was Covid really that dangerous? The example of the Diamond Princess seemed to indicate that no – not that dangerous to healthy young adults or even older adults without pre-existing health issues. But the national and international news media, well aware that panic, disaster, and potentially massive casualties draw eyeballs and interest went all-out in scaring the general public out of their ever-loving minds. And then it was off to the races – the most threatening pandemic in living memory! OMG, they were dropping dead in the streets of Chinese cities! Shades of the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic! Mass graves! Overwhelmed hospitals! Packed morgues, full of the dead! We must do something – our phoney-baloney jobs are at stake! Harrumph, harrumph, harrumph!

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The Lightning Rod

I am thinking that Professor Emily “Litella” Oster (hat tip to NeoNeocon) did not expect so furious a reaction as she has gotten, by writing this particular article in The Atlantic Magazine. After having done her stalwart best for the Covid Crusade for more than two years – demonizing those who refused to get the vaccination or wear masks everywhere, or see our children locked out of school, or who suggested that ivermectin or chloroquine might alleviate the symptoms – Professor Oster now is suggesting that … really, it was all just a silly misunderstanding, she and her pals just got carried away but they meant well and didn’t know anything for certain, and why can’t we all just all forgive and forget?
To which the instantaneous and outraged reply is – not just no, but hell no. Hell no, with a napalm-degree flaming side order of very personal reasons why not.

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It was a matter for discussion at the last ChicagoBoyz Zoom meet-up this last weekend; how the development and widespread use of ultrasound technology likely has reframed the debate about abortion, over the last two decades. Trent T. affirmed how some of his contemporaries had named their children early on in utero, already knowing the sex of the child, and were sometimes devastated with grief when the mother naturally miscarried; as devastated as they would have been if the baby died at birth, or as an infant. The baby – their child – was real to them. They had pictures in indistinct black and white; proof that their child was already a child, not just a clump of cells. The existence of the embryo, the child – becomes even clearer, later in development.
The 3-D ultrasound of Wee Jamie in utero at seven or eight months was a stunningly accurate visualization of how he would look upon delivery some weeks later – strongly-marked eyebrows, amazing-long eyelashes, curving lips that carried out the family resemblance to my daughter and myself, and affinity towards showing his feet to the observer. The only question remaining to us was what color his hair and eyes would be, once he was delivered. (The hair is light brown, the eyes at this point an indeterminant hazel. God only knows what it will say when it comes to the identifiers on his drivers’ license.) My daughter treasured those prints of the ultrasound sessions – as she remarked now and again, if something happened to savage her pregnancy, they would be the only souvenir and proof she had that her son ever existed.

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Technologies Old and New

A roundup of stories/posts/videos I found interesting:

The Jacquard Loom is historically important,  not only for its direct impact on the textile industry but also for the inspirational role that it played in the emergence of punched cards and computers.  Jacquards are still very much a live industrial technology, although the warp threads are now lifted by computer-controlled solenoids or hydraulic cylinders rather than by direct mechanical linkage.  Several attempts have been made to create affordable Jacquard looms for home use, but they have foundered on the cost of purchasing and installing a solenoid for every warp thread.  Here is a very clever way around that problem.

Also, an explanation of how a traditional Jacquard works.

Speaking of the textile industry, I wrote a couple of years ago about attempts to automate apparel manufacturing, especially the work of an Atlanta company called Softwear Automation and their product Sewbot.  So I was interested the other day to see this piece about apparel automation in Bangladesh.

See also this report from McKinsey on Nearshoring and Automation in the Apparel Industry.

Reviving manufacturing in Singapore, with the aid of robotics.

Are electronic medical records actually a detriment to knowing the patient?

Outgrowing Software…Benedict Evans suggest that when everything is a software company, then the important questions are somewhere else.

Also from Benedict Evans: Are You a Seal?  (If you are, watch out for Amazon!)

Constructing a bridge in Praguein 1357.

Speaking of construction: Automation in the Construction Industry


(An earlier version of this post was published at Ricochet; member feed only)