Thursday, February 17, 2022

My Week with Covid-19 - Playing the Odds and Winning

Yesterday, the Indianapolis Star published a story about a woman who refused to get the Covid-19 vaccine and regretted it when she ended up hospitalized with the virus.  While she escaped death, she wanted her story published as a warning to those who resist getting vaccinated.

It didn't take long for a reader to comment that the Covid-19 vaccine is not a "vaccine" because it is not 100% effective against people getting and spreading the disease.  

Ridiculous.  A vaccine does not have to be 100% effective for it to be a vaccine.  People get vaccinated against the flu every year, but vaccinated people sometimes get the flu anyway and can spread it. The reader cited the polio vaccine as an example of a real vaccine, apparently oblivious to the fact that even the polio vaccine wasn't 100% effective.  I looked it up.  Two shots of the polio vaccine gave 90% protection.  A third shot boosted that to 99%.  Still not 100%. Breakthrough polio cases still happened despite the vaccine.

The reader also bemoaned the Star for not publishing stories about those who refused the vaccine and only got mild cases of Covid-19.  Of course, those cases exist.  A lot of them in fact. But why in the world would one want to take chances with their health?  It's all about playing the odds. And the odds are that if you are vaccinated and boosted, you are much less likely to get Covid and, if you do get it, the symptoms from the disease are likely to be much less severe.

I know that from personal experience.  My 90-year old mother was coughing a few weeks ago so I tested her for Covid and found out she was positive.  A friend of mine insisted I also test myself.  I didn't see the point.  After all, I didn't really have the traditional Covid symptoms.  And like my mother, I had been vaccinated and boosted.  Yet I also tested positive.  

For the next week, my mother and I were (separately) in isolation.   Her coughing subsided after a couple days.  She had no other symptoms after that and felt fine.  The forced social isolation was by far the worst part of her Covid experience.  (I am much better at being isolated.)  My symptom-less Covid experience continued throughout the week.  I must say I have never felt better during the week I had Covid.

At the same time, I had my symptom-less bout with Covid, others were being hospitalized and dying from the disease.  Many others avoided a trip to the hospital, but had significant health complications, such as difficulty breathing, fever, etc.   Even those who eventually tested negative for Covid, may still have health consequences that could last for years.  

There is one thing in common with almost all of these people mentioned above - they didn't get vaccinated and boosted when urged to do so.  Nearly 950,000 Americans have died from Covid, almost all of whom were pre-vaccine or who refused to get vaccinated when they had the opportunity.

Yes, if you don't get vaccinated and boosted, you still may have an asymptomatic Covid experience like I had.  But the odds of that happening are much lower if you are fully vaccinated.  So why take the risk?

Friday, February 11, 2022

Last Week in Political Stupidity and Courage

Last Friday, the Republican National Committee passed a resolution censuring Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) for their work on the bipartisan January 6th Select Committee which is responsible for investigating the attempted insurrection.  In the resolution, the RNC states that the investigation is the "persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse."

"Legitimate political discourse" is a phrase that will live on in infamy.  The sheer stupidity of including that phrase seemed lost on RNC Chair Rona McDaniel and the RNC committee members.  It didn't take

Rona McDaniel
long for politicians, Republicans and Democrats, to pounce on the language in denouncing the RNC resolution.  Immediately, McDaniel tried to walk back the offending language, saying that the phrase "legitimate political discourse" only referred to those who were protesting peacefully on January 6th, not those who were involved in the violence that day that resulted in 140 police officers being injured trying to repel the attack, and the ultimate death of five participants.  

The RNC's assertion is nonsense.  The January 6th Committee was formed solely because there was a violent attack on the Capitol that day. The goal of the Committee is to find out who was behind it, including who funded it, and to consider measures to ensure it won't happen again.  The Select Committee would not exist if it was simply a peaceful protest on January 6th.  The problem for MAGA world is that some high-level Trump officials, and perhaps Trump himself, appear to have been involved in encouraging and organizing the assault on our nation's Capital which was aimed at stopping Congress from counting the electoral votes.

Last Friday, saw another development.  Former Vice President Mike Pence found his backbone.  Speaking at a Federalist Society event in Orlando, Florida, he said "President Trump is wrong" to claim he could not have overturned the 2020 election.  CNN reports: 

Former Vice President Mike Pence called out his former boss by name on Friday, saying that "President (Donald) Trump is wrong" in claiming that Pence had the right to overturn the 2020 election on January 6, 2021.

Speaking at the Federalist Society Florida Chapters conference near Orlando, Pence delivered his strongest response yet to Trump's ongoing efforts to relitigate the 2020 presidential election, calling it "un-American" to suggest one person could have decided the outcome.

Pence warned against conservatives who continue to insist the vice president can alter an election, and said it could be a problematic position for Republicans in the next presidential contest.

"Under the Constitution, I had no right to change the outcome of our election, and (Vice President) Kamala Harris will have no right to overturn the election when we beat them in 2024," Pence said.

Pence has spent years cowering in Trump's shadow fearful that expressing any opposition to Donald Trump would doom his chances of eventually becoming President.  By that calculation, the Federalist Society speech should have been the final nail in the coffin holding Pence's political career. But a funny thing happened after the speech.  Pence earned praise across the political spectrum, including from Republican elected officials and donors who are desperate for a leader who will finally speak truth to power. 

Pence's Federalist Society speech is no doubt too little, too late when it comes to reviving his political career.   But for Pence it is a refreshing change that his political fortunes have finally ticked up, if only slightly.


I can't pen a political column discussing political stupidity last week without mentioning Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.  Admittedly, I'm not an Abrams fan.  Her claim that voter suppression cost her the 2018 gubernatorial election is even more bogus than Trump's claim he won the state in 2020.  Yet, Abrams, unlike the former President, is constantly given a pass from the media when it comes to her Big Lie.

Last week, a photo was published of Abrams appearing maskless sitting on the floor in front of a throng of school children all wearing masks.  Abrams has denied that she violated CDC protocols.  While I'm not sure I buy that, her actions belie a political stupidity that is undeniable.  How could she not know that the photo would be used against her?  The photo is so damning, it may help end her political career.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Beijing Is Too Warm, Has Too Little Snow to Have Been Chosen to Host the Winter Olympics

CNN published an article a few days ago bemoaning the lack of snow and cold at the winter Olympics and that all the snow had to be man-made. Of course, CNN immediately set about blaming global warming:

It would be hard to hold a conversation over the deafening sound of the snow machines preparing the Olympic venues northwest of Beijing. They are loud and they are everywhere, blowing snow across what will be this month's most-watched slopes.

It is almost beautiful -- except that the venues are surrounded by an endless brown, dry landscape completely devoid of snow.

In an Olympic first, though not an achievement to boast about, climate variability has forced the Winter Games to be virtually 100% reliant on artificial snow -- part of a trend that is taking place across winter sports venues around the world.

Just one of the 21 cities that have hosted the Winter Olympics in the past 50 years will have a climate suitable for winter sports by the end of the century, a recent study found, if fossil fuel emissions remain unchecked.

As the planet warms and the weather becomes increasingly more erratic, natural snow is becoming less reliable for winter sports, which forces venues to lean more on artificial snow.

Nowhere in the article does the author provide meteorological data suggesting Beijing, thanks to global warming, has less snow or is warmer than it was decades ago.  I couldn't find any data showing such a trend. 

What I did find though is that Beijing is simply not far enough north to have reliably cold weather during the Winter.  Beijing is 2,757 miles from the equator.  Indianapolis, Indiana is 2,748 miles, just nine miles less.  Indianapolis averages two more inches of snow during the winter than Beijing.  Indianapolis averages high temperatures of 39 degrees during February.  Beijing averages high temperatures of 42 degrees in February.

No one in their right mind would suggest Indianapolis gets enough snow or is cold enough to host the Winter Olympics.  Why then Beijing?

Undoubtedly the answer is politics.