Monday, March 29, 2021

Covid is Like the Suez Canal


This morning CNN posted a link to an ingenious interactive tool where you try to steer a ship through the Suez Canal.   

You control the rudder and the power - and keep trying not to crash into the banks and create a monstrous traffic jam!  

Needless to say, despite my NYC street parking prowess I crashed numerous times.!


One morning you wake up and public health experts have put aside their directives, pleas and shaming - and, for one brief moment, set out to create something a new way of talking to the public - something that grabs us and leads us to discover ( in the safety of our online worlds) what it might take to control a pandemic. Maybe they even think of the ship stuck in the Suez canal. 

In the CNN article, the captain of the lodged ship Yasha Gupta explains the importance of the wind in particular because these container ships are stacked so high. 

"Wind is a particularly important consideration for container ships because the stacked containers lends them a dizzying height.  "So you can imagine it's just like a solid wall, which is faced against the wind,"  He says the wind effect is uncontrollable because the ship is in water. It's not possible to hit the brakes in the same way you'd stop a moving car.

I'm sure, if someone asked nicely CNN ( and designer Mankarious) could reimagine communicating mask wearing, or social distancing or getting vaccines in just such a great, useable way.  

Their disclaimer works for me and could be emphasized to the user of the health info. 

\Note: This is a non-scientific simplified interactive experience intended for illustrative purposes only. There are many factors that have not been accounted for, including (but not restricted to): the depth of water; proximity to the banks; interaction with passing ships; the turning circle; availability of tug boats and other weather conditions like visibility. We have also sped up the time it takes to maneuver a ship of this size. Master Mariner Andy Winbow and Captain Yash Gupta have been advisers.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Rand Paul's MASK OFF with Fauci: the old "theater" thing again

Yesterday Rand Paul and Anthony Fauci went at it again at a Senate Hearing.  

In this corner we have Rand Paul the Ophthamologist cum virologist and mask-less champion. 

In the opposite corner, Dr Anthony Fauci Director NIH National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease 

The sparring this time was about why we are still telling people to wear a mask after vaccination.  

NOTE: (Most of what I’ve put down is paraphrase)  You can listen in  - “Dr. Fauci, Senator Rand Paul argue over masks at hearing” 

Paul: with a right cross  -  If we’ve had the injection and we have immunity, then isn’t telling people to wear a mask just THEATER . 
Where’s the proof that we have significant re-infection, hospitalization and death?  

Dr. Fauci:  left & right cross  - Well as of YET in the US we don’t have a significant variant circling around.  So we can’t know that. 

Fauci: uppercut  -  Let me just state for the record, masks are not theater.  Masks are protective and we have….(interrupted)

Paul: right cross - If you have immunity (masks) are theater….you’re wearing a mask to give comfort to others. 
Where’s your proof that people can be re- infected? There is not proof.

Paul: jab -“telling people to continue to wear masks (even 2 masks) is“Policy is based on “conjecture”.  *

*The word implies some kind of “guess work”.  Fine for an episode of NCIS, but not really for Covid public health policies (including the many changing policies we’ve seen in the last year).   The recommendation to wear a mask even after vaccination and immunity is based on the scientific evidence available at the time.  

Fauci crosses:  The studies you’re talking about (BTW, he names the precise authors of the studies), were in-vitro (in a test tube or something outside the body).  Oh and BTW the authors clearly state that they don’t know if this protection would happen in our real bodies (remember I’m paraphrasing)

Paul: low blow   You want people to wear masks for another couple of years.”  “You’ve been vaccinated and you parade around with two masks for show….You’re defying everything we know about immunity by telling people to wear a mask.” 

Fauci: Gloves off -  You’re not hearing what I’m saying about variants. (despite multiple Paul interruptions about nanny state and rewarding people after they’ve been vaccinated by setting them free from their masks).

Fauci then gives a short, elegant and understandable presentation of the facts as they are right now in the US.  Troubling Covid variants 117, (UK) 526, 427, 429 (CA).

Would be so good and productive if public health departments and local agencies could get out good, understandable and repeated information about Covid variants: 
  1. What is a variant?
  2. Why should we care about them?
  3. What do scientists know about the Covid variants?
  4. What does this mean for protecting myself and my family, and my community?