Big Tech

August 31, 2020

The big tech companies—Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple—are coming under increasing scrutiny and many people think they are getting too big and that the government should do something about it. Whether or not they’re too big, I doubt that the government can do much to remedy the situation.

You might have noted the absence of Microsoft on that list. I can remember a time when it would have stood at the head of the list, if any other company even appeared on it. Nobody’s afraid of Microsoft any more, though. I thought at the time that Microsoft was its own worst enemy, and if Bill Gates and Steve Balmer had more brains and less ego they’d split the company voluntarily. The leaders of these companies should consider that today.

Once an amoeba or other single-cell organism gets to a certain size it has to split in order to continue to grow. Why don’t business leaders look at their companies this way?

Lockdown

July 26, 2020

For me, the COVID-19 lockdown has not been a great burden. I was already working from home one day a week, and there’s very little I can’t do from home, so switching to five days a week hasn’t changed that much. While COVID-19 has had a financial impact on the University of Texas, it’s not going out of business any time soon, and my services are still needed apparently, which means my job is fairly secure. (We have been told there will be no raises this year, but that’s not nearly as bad as getting laid off.)

I recognize that things haven’t been so easy for a lot of people, in many ways. There are costs to this lockdown, even if I’m not the one paying them.

The purpose of the lockdown is to reduce deaths due to the virus, and to the degree people observe it that will be the result. However, there will be other consequences that will lead to deaths from other causes. On the news the other day they said that screenings for colon and breast cancer have dropped 90% since this all started, which presumably means that in coming months more people will be dying from those cancers than would have been the case otherwise. (I had a colonoscopy in February, so I’m good for a few years.) I’ve seen claims that suicides and domestic violence are up, which is quite believable. In general, social isolation is known to correlate with poor health outcomes: humans are social animals that don’t thrive when alone.

So when some people say we need to lock down harder and others say it’s time for the lockdowns to end, both sides have some truth to their positions. Nobody really knows enough to have absolute certainty one way or the other. Also, there’s no reason to expect politicians to come up with the correct answer. We should have the humility to recognize  our ignorance and listen to those with other opinions.

History

May 30, 2020

59 years ago, my mother took me and Erick and Hans to visit her parents in Arizona. While we were there, on a small, black and white TV, I got to watch Alan Shepherd’s launch as the first American to go into space.

Today I watched the first manned American launch in 9 years on my laptop. It was in color, and the resolution was better.

I feel ambiguous

April 20, 2020

I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about this Babylon Bee article: America Prepares For Plagues 2 Through 10

The U.S. is still reeling from COVID-19, but people feel they’ve recovered enough that it might be time to finally start plagues two through ten.

“Everyone is really hardening their hearts — especially before going on Twitter,” says plague analyst Roderick Jordan. “And everyone has learned absolutely nothing. It’s probably a good time to begin on the next of God’s plagues.”

President Trump agreed. “I could do like twenty plagues,” Trump told the press at one of his daily briefings, “and I’m never going to change my ways.” Trump then took out his phone. “See? I’m sending an inappropriate tweet right now. I will never learn and I will never stop no matter what happens.”

It’s unclear what the next plague will be, but it is quite certain that everyone will complain about it but not change their ways at all until at least eight more plagues after that. Some wish, though, that God would be more specific on what wickedness they’re being punished for — as there is a lot of wickedness going on — so people know exactly which one to defiantly not stop doing.

I hope at least some of us have learned things and are changing for the better. You don’t see much evidence of that happening, though.

2020 so far

April 13, 2020

  • Plague
  • Locusts
  • Earthquakes
  • Volcanos
  • Tornados

I’d ask what’s next, but I don’t think I want to know.

Satire?

April 8, 2020

Bernie Sanders Drops Out As Campaign Goals Of Locking Everyone Up, Destroying Economy Already Achieved

As the coronavirus panic has already accomplished the aims of his socialistic policies, Sanders realized the country didn’t need his public service anymore. Unemployment has skyrocketed, grocery stores have empty shelves, and everyone is confined to their homes on penalty of arrest. This “idyllic paradise” is exactly what Sanders wanted in the first place, so he says he can leave the race satisfied that his vision has been achieved.

Two recent stories

March 30, 2020

If you haven’t lived in Texas, you might not be familiar with H-E-B grocery stores. (Chris worked at H-E-B while in High School and up until his mission.) They apparently were prepared for COVID-19: Inside the Story of How H-E-B Planned for the Pandemic. The last time I went to H-E-B (last week; the pharmacy I use for my prescriptions is there) they had hand sanitizer dispensers at the single entrance they had open.

Also, R.I.P. Sen. Tom Coburn.

Tom Coburn, the 72-year-old physician and former Oklahoma senator who passed away Saturday, battled the prostate cancer that felled him the same way he battled big spenders and spineless politicians in Washington: with cheerful, unrelenting persistence.

If you’re ever seriously ill, Coburn’s life is itself an inspiration. He contracted melanoma when he was 28 and working as manager of his family’s optical-lens factory. He was given only a 20 percent chance of living. He beat the melanoma, and his struggle convinced him to enter medical school and become a doctor. Years later, he contracted colon cancer and conquered that, too. In 2008, he had brain surgery to remove a benign brain tumor.

Then in 2013, he was told he had a rare form of prostate cancer, one that only 1 in 100,000 prostate-cancer patients suffer from. While the disease convinced him to retire from the Senate in early 2015, he remained optimistic. He fought the disease the way a general plans a battle and told The Oklahoman that if his treatment was effective he would live for another “five or 10 years.” He ended up lasting almost seven.

In between his illnesses, Tom Coburn built a successful medical practice that made him the largest employer in his hometown of Muskogee, Okla. He delivered more than 4,000 babies during his career. And at age 46, he ran for Congress in a solidly Democratic district that hadn’t elected a Republican in 73 years. He continued to deliver babies while in the House, giving up only after the Senate Ethics Committee ruled that such outside work was banned.

 

More spring flowers

March 28, 2020

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I can relate

March 26, 2020

America’s new paper of record, the Babylon Bee: Man Begs Internet To Stop Making Him Defend Trump

If this keeps up, Pavone says he may just resign himself to becoming a Trump supporter. “He’s the worst option except for everyone else.”

Spring

March 19, 2020

I believe Spring has arrived in Central Texas.

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