Category: Solving the wrong problem

Whatever You Think, You’re Wrong

Cool things, random thoughts, advice, and independent thinking from someone who’s been around the sun a few times.

  • In difficult times it’s natural to want an expert to tell you the definitive answer. We don’t deal well with uncertainty. Right now the social medias are chock full of people pontificating, lecturing, and shaming people by posting whatever “expert” opinion happens to fit their view of the world. The problem is… nobody really knows diddly squat yet. Seriously. Whatever you think we know is probably wrong to some extent. Every study you cite, I guarantee I can find an opposing study that says the opposite. It will be years and massive amounts of data analysis before we really understand this zombie bat flu virus. Seasonal influenza is probably the most studied virus ever – and we still don’t fully understand everything about it. This shit is complicated and takes a crapload of research to make any meaningful progress.

    This doesn’t mean there aren’t elements of truth in all the stuff you see being posted. It’s just that the real truth is nuanced, and will take a lot more data and time to tease out. Is Hydroxychloroquine an effective treatment? Possibly, given a very specific set of conditions we don’t understand yet. Are masks effective? Probably, given certain environmental conditions. Lockdown vs herd immunity? Way too early to fully make a judgement. The point is that real science takes time. Take every breathless claim posted on Twitter/Facebook/YouTube with a grain of salt.
  • The real failure is our governments inability to react quickly to actual measurable trends. They pick a one size fits all strategy and choose to die on that hill rather than adapt when data shows things aren’t what we originally thought. The under 65 and no comorbidities crowd aren’t impacted in any statistical meaningful rate by this pandemic. So why aren’t we modifying our approach to protect just those folks? Instead we’ll make everyone suffer because, god forbid, we admit we didn’t fully understand when this started. Changing your approach with the arrival of new (verifiable) data is the very foundation of good science. I think I read that somewhere.
  • We were finally able to join the modern era in internet speed. We live in the very first neighborhood built in our city so our infrastructure has been lacking. I was very pleased a number of years ago when we were able to upgrade to DSL and a blistering 33 Mbps download speed. They just ran fiber to our area and this morning I’m seeing 881 Mbps. Praise be, as the Handmaidens say.
  • Our hospital is virtually out of hand sanitizer. At least two-thirds of the containers on my floor are empty. How is this possible? As usual, reality on the ground doesn’t match the fancy claims our government makes.
  • I never saw Breaking Bad when it came out. Binge watched it the last couple of weeks. What a fantastic series. Just started Better Call Saul and it seems equally good.
  • Joe Rogan’s podcast jumping to Spotify is an interesting development. Google/YouTube’s censorship strategies are starting to get noticed.
  • In our corner of the world, this has been a cold, wet spring. It needs to get warm and dry soon or I’m going to lose it. Every day my motivation to go outside and recreate dwindles… which leads to my not caring what I eat. This is a poor combination. Sitting at home reading internet conspiracy theories on the social medias for hours is no way to go through life son

Song of the day: “Shut up and let me go” The Ting Tings

Won’t Get Fooled Again

Cool things, random thoughts, advice, and independent thinking from someone who’s been around the sun a few times.

  • Peaks out from under covers… is it safe to come out now?
  • I’m going to go out on a limb and say – it’s ok to use a little common sense now and again. Are you old, have known comorbidities, immune or pulmonary compromise? Taking care of a family member in that situation? Then I’d take this very serious and isolate yourself. Don’t feel well or have a cough? Wear a mask and be respectful of distancing. Be mindful of washing your hands or using hand sanitizer more frequently. Otherwise – it’s time to rejoin society. Go out get some sun, eat out at a restaurant, and interact with your fellow human beings. We cratered our economy. It needs to get going ASAP or we’re facing a dark future. We just printed $7 trillion dollars out of thin air. That’s not sustainable.
  • I have now used the 3-2-1 method of smoking my babyback ribs twice. They come out fabulous. I won’t be going back to my old method.
  • The government experts suffer massively from institutional inbreeding (TM Pat Mac). They appear completely unable to think out of the box and react to new or changing information.
  • That permit we were waiting for? Not only got it, but got the preferred date we wanted. We’ll be climbing Mt Whitney via the main trail mid-August. I’ve done it previously, but a few people in the group haven’t. This is a consolation prize for our failing to summit via the mountaineers route a few years ago. We turned around 300 yards from the summit.
  • My hospital issues one paper surgical mask that I have to wear for 12+ hours and make last three shifts. I don’t know where all these millions of masks are going you hear about on TV, but they’re clearly not filtering down to the healthcare workers in my state. I have sores on the top of my ears from wearing the damn mask for so long.
  • Interesting cross training observation. I did almost exclusively skate skiing all winter. No running or mountain biking since last fall. Starting running again now that it’s spring and it felt like I was starting all over. Sore muscles and gasping like a three pack a day smoker. With mountain biking it felt no different than last fall. No change to climbing or endurance.
  • I have not tried to get the COVID serologic test. I probably should. The last time I posted to this blog I’d gotten sick after Mrs Troutdog traveled to Vegas. Felt crummy for a handful of days and spiked a mild fever for a few days. This was early Feb. I think it’s a 50/50 that it was the China virus.
  • The toilet paper hoarding is further example that humans are easily frightened herd animals that will do unexpected and dangerous things when spooked. The hand sanitizer and disinfectant hoarding I get. But TP? Seriously people? I hope it’s a wake up call that you need a reasonable food and water supply, sanitation items, guns and ammo, a good first aid kit, and apparently now toilet paper. Dr Fauci and Govs’ Newsom, Whitmer, and Coumo aren’t coming to save you when SHTF. Oh, and bourbon. Plenty of bourbon.

Song of the day: “Won’t get fooled again” The Who

I Have A Booty Issue

Cool things, random thoughts, advice, and independent thinking from someone who’s been around the sun a few times.

  • I have a confession. I think about booty way too often. No, not that booty you filthy animals, this booty. Pirates Booty, a tasty snack that has no nutritional value. It’s like crack though… once I start I can’t help myself. How come we never get addicted to say, carrots?
  • Whenever you hear/see that a bison attacked someone I always cheer for the bison. It’s usually a clueless tourist doing stupid shit and Darwin has a way of taking care of business. In this case, the poor guy and his girlfriend did nothing wrong. Except I wouldn’t have gone back to the same park after the first attack.
  • My refrigerator died. The freezer went to minus 14 and the fridge part had no cooling at all. I’m usually not very good at fixing things, but I consulted Dr Google and YouTube. Ordered a $40 part from Amazon, one trip to the hardware store and we’re back in business. We live in an amazing time. The entirety of all human knowledge is instantly available to us. It wasn’t that long ago and this would have been at minimum an expensive repairperson or more likely a new fridge.
  • I really like this post on Maximum Enthusiasm. I was reminded of it yesterday. Mrs Troutdog doesn’t like to cross country ski. She will, however, go snowshoeing. I don’t get snowshoeing at all. Why go clomping around like an uncoordinated 5 year old when you can glide and go fast? Anyway, I went snowshoeing with her yesterday. And after being slightly grumpy for the first ten minutes (because real athletes don’t snowshoe), I actually really enjoyed myself. I even said that it was the perfect way to end the afternoon. Life is what you make of it.
  • The United States is going to lose the 5G war. The implications of that are very serious and will define our role in the next tech revolution. This is a very good article on it that barely touches the subject. We need to take the China threat seriously. Too bad this sort of thing never gets discussed in elections.
  • I hope everyone survived the holidays and that your Festivus feats of strength and airing of grievances went well. I’m not one for New Years resolutions. Tim Ferris suggests that a review of last year is more productive than making resolutions. I’ll probably just stumble forward day to day without much of a plan. Its worked so far!

Song of the day: “Who will save your soul” Jewel

The Shocking Truth

Cool things, random thoughts, advice, and independent thinking from someone who’s been around the sun a few times.

  • I am utterly flabbergasted at the number of people, in today’s day and age, that don’t wear a seatbelt in the car. Somewhere in the ’80’s the seat belt chime was standard in every vehicle. You have to go out of your way to not put on your seat belt today. Every single week (yes, EVERY week) there’s someone on our hospital floor who was ejected during a motor vehicle crash. Here’s the shocking truth just in case you weren’t aware… when an object travelling at a high rate of speed comes to a sudden stop – all that energy has to go somewhere. That energy is you being shot out of the vehicle like a cannon. Trust me, the outcomes aren’t good. Shattered pelvises and femurs from hitting the dashboard on the way out. Broken arms, destroyed shoulder joints. Broken ribs and pneumothoraxes. And last but not least – life altering head injuries. Wear your damn seatbelt.
  • On a whim I ordered a pair of pants from an ad I saw on Instagram (I never do that). So far I’m really impressed with the Northbound Gear pants. Tough, warm, and good fit. We’ll see how they hold up over the ski season.
  • We’ve set a record for the most number of days without a sunspot. It’s a good thing the sun has no impact on climate.
  • My resting heartrate is definitely bradycardic. We have so many stroke patients on our floor I’m freaking out now about my stroke risk. Time to make an appointment with my doc so he can talk me off the ledge of hypochondria. I’ll also be asking to add the Apo B test to my blood panel to find out more about my cardiovascular disease risk. Which is silly because I know that regardless of the result, the answer is to be strict with a better diet. Which I won’t do. I like nachos too much.
  • The Senate just passed the most recent National Defense Authorization Act. Under this deal we will be borrowing $2.75 Billion every single day to fund it. Eh, pocket change. Walking around money. But what’s really important is that you get outraged over this shinny object over here…
  • Gordon protects his little humans every day. We don’t deserve dogs.

Song of the day: “Freaking Out” Juiceboxxx

A Case For Universal Basic Income

I should start out by saying that I do not agree with implementing a Universal Basic Income (UBI). However I recently listened to a podcast with Andrew Yang, a 2020 presidential candidate, and he made the most compelling case yet for it. I think the alarm bell he’s ringing is true… I’m just am not convinced UBI is the right solution.

Mr. Yang’s premise is that due to AI and automation one-third of all working Americans are going to lose their job in the next 12 years. Most of these workers are going to have a very hard time finding new employment. He makes the case that it’s not realistic to think that you’re going to re-train a truck driver from rural Iowa to write code. By giving every working age American $1000 a month you provide a safety net that will be put back into the economy in the form of gas, groceries, fuel, etc… A UBI paid for by a VAT tax. You have a choice of taking the UBI or social services (e.g. food stamps) but not both.

I agree that the coming AI boom is going to displace mass numbers of people. The Mckinsey research group estimates between 400 and 800 million people will be replaced by automation by 2030 worldwide. In the US, the top ten professions are mostly all lower wage jobs. The top five are:

  • #1 for males – truck driver
  • Retail sales
  • cashier
  • office clerk
  • food prep
  • customer service

The mean annual income in the US is $46,000. Every single one of those most common jobs listed is replaceable by automation. A third of the country out of work is a recipe for a real economic crisis that I’m not sure we can survive. The taxpayers are going to pay one way or another – in the form of food stamps, medical, etc…

There are folks who claim we’ve always had revolutions in technology that displace workers – let them #learntocode (don’t put that on Twitter!) The difference between the first and second industrial revolutions and today’s displaced workers is twofold; first the scale of displaced workers was much smaller and second, those revolutions actually spawned a middle class. An uneducated displaced farm worker could move to the city, work in a factory and support a family. Today it’s actually those lower-middle class jobs we’re removing.

So what’s my solution? I don’t know. As a libertarian-ish person I have a very hard time seizing taxpayer money and giving it to others because they made poor decisions and aren’t busting their ass to improve themselves. I also recognize that a mob of hungry, desperate people rioting with pitchforks isn’t in societies interest either.

Most politicians will push for ungodly expensive government boondoggle spending programs to “re-train” workers. Those are usually bottomless money pits with little positive outcome. I applaud Mr. Yang for at least being brave enough to raise the issue and give a plausible solution.

Is UBI the right solution? The more I think about it, the more I’m on the fence. It’s not often I stumble upon an issue where I don’t have a clear opinion. What do we do with 100 million people in this country out of work and no skills to bridge the gap? I’m curious what you think? What’s the right answer? Is this even a problem? Maybe the revolution will happen slower than we think. It’s certainly worth having a discussion… but I suspect we’ll ignore it until too late.

Notions Of Cool V.010

A random list of things and shower thoughts that an old guy (who still thinks he’s 20) finds cool or worth pondering.

  • The problem with the gun control debate, as is the case with so many things in government, is that it’s busy solving the wrong problem. The gold standard should be to apply the law retroactively to all the high profile shootings and ask, “would this have stopped it?” In virtually every case the answer is no. So why continue with feel good measures that only impact the 99.9% of law abiding gun owners?
  • Found a great Netflix series, Black Mirror. There are four seasons of independent episodes – think modern Twilight Zone. Worth your time.
  • Had to spend $1800 to have a crew remove snow from my roof. Was getting seriously worried about the weight. Lesson learned for next year.
  • Had a patient who has complete left side hemiparesis from a new stroke tell me: “when I fart now it’s the strangest feeling… only one butt cheek flaps”.
  • I just heard about the #learntocode controversy on twitter. More to come on this. The fact that our outrage culture has an issue with this amuses me. The thought that Twitter is banning people because of it is disturbing.
  • Wingsuit flyers. Yeah, no thanks. Cool to watch though.
  • One more storm, then forecast for March is dry and warmer. I see some serious vitamin D, spring skiing in my future.
  • I mentioned melanoma before. Scared me enough that I have my first ever dermatology appointment in two weeks.

Song of the day: Amerie “Thing”

I Just Don’t Care


You see Bob, it’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care.

Peter Gibbons

I don’t care what your cause is. Saving the whales. Education. Transportation. Border walls. Healthcare. Wars. Infrastructure. Climate change. Everyone has their hot button interests. I’m sure they’re all worthy in some way. There’s just one problem. WE CAN’T PAY FOR ALL OF THEM.

As someone once said, eventually you run out of other peoples money. Whatever topic is your burning issue, the one that gets you to fire up the Facebook meme machine… great, more power to you. Advocate the hell out of it. But what I do want you to do as a responsible citizen, is tell me what you’re going to cut to pay for it.

You don’t get to just add spending any more. You want to fund research for the mating habits of the snowy plover? Great! Tell me what existing program is less important that you’ll cut funding for.

Could you imagine? We freeze local, state, and federal funding at it’s current point. Every single program, existing and proposed, has to compete for a fixed number of dollars.

Sorry, I’m under the weather and may have had too much cough medicine. I nodded off and had a weird vision of government. Carry on.