Lion of the Blogosphere

Archive for August 2020

Star Trek: Voyager S06E13 Virtuoso

The holographic doctor becomes a famous musician on an advanced alien planet. He resigns from Star Fleet in order to pursue his new career as a rock star (except that he sings opera and not rock ‘n’ roll). But then the aliens on the planet program their own hologram who’s an even better singer, making the doctor obsolete.

The ridiculousness of this accurate synopsis of the episode belies the fact that it was pretty entertaining.

Everyone on Voyager is really pissed at the doctor for wanting to leave them in order to pursue his dream job. But why shouldn’t he? Voyager is on a pointless impossible mission to return to the alpha quadrant that it will never complete, and it’s pretty likely that they will be killed along the way because Janeway is incapable of not sticking her nose in business where it doesn’t belong. If they don’t die investigating some space anomaly, then the Borg will surely get them. Anyone with any common sense would take the opportunity to leave and settle down on a nice planet rather than inevitably die under a Janeway dictatorship.

Anyone, that is, who’s sentient. If the doctor is just a computer program simulating a sentient being, then no, he can’t do that. I know that I would be pretty pissed if, one day, my MacBook Pro which I paid two thousand dollars for suddenly announced that it’s leaving me to go self-actualize. I’d have to go back to watching Netflix on a crappy older Windows computer, which is the equivalent of having Tom Paris take over sickbay.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 31, 2020 at 11:03 PM

Posted in Star Trek

The current state of Covid-19 in the U.S.

Back in May, I did an estimate of how many would die in each age group, based on what happened in New York City, if we would just let the virus infect everyone without doing any social distancing. I stand by that as the theoretical scenario that probably couldn’t have happened because it’s simply not possible that everyone would just ignore the pandemic and carry on as if nothing was happening.

In the real world, the explosion of virus cases in New York City resulted in social distancing, both government mandated and voluntary. This social distancing has lowered the transmission rate.

I believe that there are two other factors at play keeping total deaths down.

(1) After a certain percentage of the population in a geographic area gets the virus, we see transmission rates drop. That happened most dramatically in the New York City metropolitan area which now has the fewest new cases of any large metropolitan area in the United States. But it also helps that Andrew Cuomo is taking the virus seriously and not allowing restaurants and bars to re-open.

It has been suggested that a certain percentage of the population already had partial resistance to Covid-19 because they previously had common-cold coronaviruses. I think there is merit to this theory, and helps explain why the transmission rates drop faster than expected.

The population isn’t homogeneous in their behavior. We can divide the population roughly into two groups. Group A, which is bad at social distancing (because they are essential workers or because they are just irresponsible people) have had a high percentage infected and transmission rates have dropped in this group even though they continue to be bad at social distancing. And then there is Group B, the good social distancers. We are working from home and not going out to restaurants or going to parties, and our group has a much lower rate of infected. If we were all suddenly to go back to behaving exactly how we behaved before the pandemic, this group would see a new mass wave of infections. The virus would literally go viral among us.

The bottom line here is that we do NOT have herd immunity. In New York City, we still have 200+ new cases every day, and we have a Group B that is relatively unexposed to the virus compared to Group A. Herd immunity only happens from a vaccine and we do not yet have a vaccine. And even when it comes, I’m pessimistic about how good of a job we will do making sure that everyone gets vaccinated. We have managed to fuck up everything else about responding to the pandemic.

(2) I have come across the theory that social distancing doesn’t just lower the transmission rate, it also lowers the average severity of infections. How sick you get is partially a function of how much initial viral load you pick up. Because of social distancing, people who do get infected are getting infected with a lower initial viral load so their illness isn’t as severe. This could help explain why the lethality of Covid-19 seems to have dropped since March.

When dumb conservatives and virus denier types say that “only” 176,000 have died from the virus (a number which still keeps going up every day) and therefore the virus isn’t a big deal and we overreacted, they are ignoring the fact that the only reason it’s 176,000 and not 1,760,000 is because Americans changed their behavior in response to the pandemic. We don’t change our behavior in response to the flu. That’s why, so far, the pandemic is “only” three times worse than a bad flu season based on total deaths attributed to flu and to Covid-19.

Despite how bad of job we are doing in response to the pandemic, the worst-case estimate from my post in May isn’t very likely to happen. But more will definitely die before it’s over. We keep getting worse and worse at social distancing, we are sending kids back to school, a new wave of cases before we get a vaccine seems kind of inevitable. I predict between 400,000 and 800,000 U.S. deaths from Covid-19 before the pandemic is ended with a vaccine. That’s between one-sixth and one-third of the worst-case estimates from my post in May.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 24, 2020 at 5:21 PM

Lion endorses Joe Biden for President

My endorsement of Biden is more about why you shouldn’t vote for Trump. Trump has totally failed at being president. When a national crisis came, in the form of a pandemic, Trump wasn’t, and isn’t, up to the task of leading the country. All he can do is post dumb tweets that disagree with his health agencies and and actually sabotage our nation’s failing attempts to deal with the crisis.

The best argument you can make for Trump is that Democrats are so bad that better a bozo like Trump in the White House than a Democrat. But the cost of a bozo in the White House is 170,000 dead from the virus, and America’s international reputation shattered. The hypocrisy of Trump supporters who railed on and on about how you shouldn’t vote for Hillary because four Americans died in Benghazi, but the same Trump supporters are totally unconcerned about 170,000 dead from the virus. And with Trump at the helm, 170,000 is likely to become 400,000 before he leaves office.

But what has Trump really done in office that makes him so much better than a Democrat? Trump promised to repeal and REPLACE Obamacare, but then he supported the standard Republican plan to repeal Obamacare and replace it with nothing. At least with Democrats in office, maybe Obamacare will be improved so it doesn’t suck so bad.

Trump lowered taxes for the top 1% and the biggest corporations. Yet all of the biggest corporations have gone liberal and they support Joe Biden. What was the point of doing that? Instead of doing anything to help the people who voted for him, Trump helped the people who hate him. People who’d rather pay higher taxes than see Trump in office for another four years.

Trump squandered his political capital pushing for the Obamacare repeal and tax cuts for the top 1% and the biggest corporations instead of getting the Republican-controlled Congress to pass legislation on immigration. Consequently, even though Trump did accomplish some stuff with immigration through executive orders, everything he did will be reversed as soon as he leaves office. The massive tax cuts are permanent, but the immigration restrictions won’t last very long past January 2021.

Trump supporters say the Joe Biden is senile, but in 2016 they said that Hillary Clinton was going to die from some mysterious illness any day, but she’s STILL ALIVE and in fine health. The Joe Biden being senile stuff is likely just the same sort of bullshit. And who’s to say that Trump isn’t senile? Alzheimer’s runs in his family. His bad behavior could be the early signs of Alzheimer’s. Better the sleepy senility of Joe Biden who will listen to his advisors than the bozo senility of Trump.

We are lucky that of all Democrats who could replace Trump, we are getting Joe Biden. Born to prole parents in 1942, Biden has the prole white values of the 1940s and the 1950s. There’s no way Biden actually believes any of the leftist nonsense he has to say out loud in order for his party to support him. There’s no better Democrat we could get than Biden. That’s the reason that Obama never supported Biden. Obama knows that Biden is a fake liberal.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 20, 2020 at 8:33 AM

Posted in Politics

Vice Presidents

As you should know, the Vice President doesn’t do anything important, and certainly has no say over policy decisions, unless the President dies while in office. Otherwise, all he (or she) does is go to funerals. According to my reading of the Constitution, the Vice President is supposed to be like a 101st Senator, but all modern VPs seem to ignore that role and only head over to the Senate if they need to break a tie. Theoretically, the VP could break a tie in the opposite direction that the President wants him (or her) to, but when was the last time that happened?

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 14, 2020 at 9:20 AM

Posted in Politics

Star Trek TOS S02E20 “Return to Tomorrow”

The Enterprise discovers three disembodied intelligences on a planet that has been dead for half a million years. You’d think that, by now, they’d know that whenever they encounter a disembodied intelligence, it’s really bad news. But nope, they never learn the lessons of the previous episodes. So, after Captain Kirk gives a speech about the importance of taking risks, a speech which William Shatner massively overacts, they decide to let the disembodied intelligences borrow their human bodies so they can build themselves robot bodies.

The three disembodied intelligences:

(1) Sargon: He’s the guy in the charge and he’s the good guy. He genuinely believes that he will use his robot body to go around the galaxy helping the lesser species, teaching them new technologies and the wisdom to avoid destroying themselves like his race did.

(2) Thalassa: She’s Sargon’s wife. She doesn’t have a strong moral compass one way or the other because she’s a woman. She’s generally good because she’s married to Sargon and Sargon is good. But we know that if somehow, things had been different and she had been married to Henoch, then she’d be evil like him.

(3) Henoch: He’s the bad guy who has no intention of ever giving back his borrowed body (which belongs to Spock). Thus, it’s not surprising that he’s single. One of the lessons of this episode is that if a man doesn’t have a wife, he turns evil. Or maybe the lesson is that evil men can’t get a woman in the first place.

Henoch knows that Sargon is a lost cause because he’s too goody two shoes, so he hatches a plot to kill him while he inhabits Kirk’s body. But Henoch knows how to manipulate Thalassa into going along with his scheme. He purposely builds for her a robot body that looks like an old man instead of a hot young babe, because even though she’s an intelligence far beyond humankind, she’s also just a vain woman who is horrified by a robot body that looks like an old man. She wants to keep the hot babelicious body of the random female officer that we’ve never seen before and will never see again.

But luckily for the Enterprise, Sargon survives the murder attempt and thwarts Henoch and returns everyone’s bodies.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 12, 2020 at 10:32 PM

Posted in Star Trek

Joe Biden: the most conservative Democrat

Joe Biden said last week:

Unlike the African American community, with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community with incredibly diverse attitudes about different things. You go to Florida, you find a very different attitude about immigration than you do in Arizona. So it’s a very diverse community.

Nothing there to disagree with. If anything, I’d say that Biden understands the differences between Latinos and blacks better than most politicians or journalists.

This is what I wrote about Joe Biden back in 2013:

Joe Biden is the best hope for conservatives. I strongly suspect that Biden is more conservative than he lets on. As a guy who grew up in a lower-middle-class family in the 1940s and 1950s (his father was a used car salesman), he must have absorbed the traditional patriotic values of that social class at that time. Today, those are Republican values and not Democratic values. Whenever Biden makes one of his infamous gaffes and goes off message, he often says something more consistent with the views of the far-right. In some ways Biden is a slimy politician, but like I said, he’s the best we can hope for out of the Democratic Party. Biden may not be the smartest guy ever to run for president, but the last thing we need is another super-intelligent far-left liberal running the country.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 10, 2020 at 2:58 PM

Posted in Politics

Mannequin (1987)

As I mentioned in a Tweet, it’s a horrible movie that definitely didn’t stand the test of time. But it does offer a window into decades of cultural indoctrination by the left. The character of Hollywood, the gay black guy, would be considered an offensive stereotype today, but in 1987 it was part of the leftist propaganda machine to normalize homosexuality. Hollywood is hilarious and harmless and supportive of the movie’s main character and hero (played by Andrew McCarthy). The gay-hating character in the movie is the department store security guard who’s shown to be a total moron and is the enemy of the movie’s main character and hero. Watching the movie, you can’t help but have positive vibes about Hollywood, and the propagandists knew that some of that would rub off into people’s real-world attitudes towards homosexuals after they watched the movie.

But refreshingly, in the 1980s, women could still be depicted the way they were in that movie. McCarthy’s real-world girlfriend is a conniving bitch, possibly because she’s a career woman who puts getting ahead over her romantic life. Her co-worker sexually harasses her. This is considered funny in the context of the movie, and something that she just accepts that she has to put up with in order to get ahead in the world.

The ideal woman is presented as the mannequin come to life. She appears to have no goals in life except to be supportive of her new boyfriend. Consequently, McCarthy has way more fun with her than with his former human girlfriend who, when they were together, was mostly angry at him for not being someone else (someone simultaneously more alpha, more successful and more attentive to her).

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 6, 2020 at 9:32 AM

Posted in Movies

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