COVID-19: On Wearing Masks

There’s a lot of misinformation going around that spreading the idea that wearing a mask is pointless because it doesn’t significantly reduce your chance of avoiding the disease.

That idea doesn’t address the primary benefit of wearing a mask at all.

Here’s the important thing to understand: One of COVID-19′s major vectors for infecting others is via virus carried on moisture exhaled by infected individuals.

Even a simple mask considerably reduces the range and load you deliver when you breathe out if you have COVID-19. After you’re infected, usually there are 3 to 14 days before you become symptomatic. Not everyone is symptomatic, either; there may be no indication to you that you are infected. When someone is infected, wearing a mask can benefit many, many others while you are infectious and unaware of it, depending on your social interactions, distances, etc. over the course of those asymptomatic days.

If you continue going into situations where others could be exposed after you’re symptomatic and obviously still infectious, masks and social distancing will reduce the rates and severity of infection for others in that circumstance as well. Not that anyone should be out and about when symptomatic if it is in any way avoidable.

The rate of infections is a very important consideration: what we really don’t want is for someone to end up with severe symptoms when the healthcare facilities are operating at maximum capacity as has happened several times already due to people taking insufficient precautions such as masks, social distancing, washing hands, etc. If you need a ventilator, for instance, and they’re all in use, now you are at much higher risk of severe problems consequent to your breathing issue.

Even if everyone will eventually get COVID-19 and have to deal with it, it’s still eminently worthwhile to keep the rate down so those who need care can be certain they will get it.

On the other side of the coin, the higher the load in a healthcare facility, the more at risk the healthcare professionals are; that’s a cycle that even further reduces the facility’s ability to deal with additional cases. Every healthcare professional that cannot work reduces the ability of the facility to care for patients.

Everyone should be wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing. Both significantly reduce exposure of others when COVID-19 is present, and both work to reduce concurrent loading of healthcare facilities. As a bonus, these things also work to reduce the chances of spreading other diseases, such as the flu.

There’s another side to this as well. Although it is true that a simple mask does not reduce the chances of infection for the person wearing it by much, any reduction at all is a very good thing; for instance, if every infected person on average infects one other, and that is reduced to .95, then the disease will slowly recede. That’s enough reason to wear a mask all by itself. Likewise, if every infected person, on average, infects two others, and that can be reduced to 1.95, the load on healthcare facilities drops, which becomes very important when critically ill people need treatment — and that’s true no matter if you have COVID-19 or need your gall bladder removed. There are only so many beds in any one hospital.

  • Always wear a mask when others are present in public
  • Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others as much as possible
  • Wash your hands / use hand sanitizer, break “touching-face” habits
  • Don’t spread misinformation

Comparative Mortality

COVID-19 deaths / year: 219,000 and still counting [As of October 18th, 2020]

FLU deaths / year: around 40,000 to 50,000

What is actually causing these deaths?

The critical question to answer here is “What does death from X” mean?

It means if you hadn’t had the primary infection — flu, COVID-19, etc. — you would not have died from whatever actually killed you.

For instance, you may encounter the argument that “people aren’t dying from the flu, they’re dying from pneumonia.” However, when the pneumonia is a consequence of respiratory difficulties brought on by the flu — that’s when it is accurate to say that it was the flu that caused the death. The same is true for COVID-19.

Trying to distinguish a consequent fatal pneumonia from the flu (or COVID-19) and then saying there’s nothing to worry about is as absurd as saying “jumping off the cliff didn’t kill someone, it was hitting the rocks below, so don’t worry about jumping off a cliff.”

The jump was the primary cause of death; without it, the rocks would not have killed the jumper. You should definitely avoid such a jump.

The flu and COVID-19 are both exactly this kind of killer; if someone becomes infected and dies, then a directly related follow-on effect is very likely going to be what killed them, just as the rocks killed the jumper, but if the flu or COVID-19 is avoided, then there will be no consequent pneumonia to die from, either.

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OSX / MacOS and the 4K Desktop

So, I’ve made the move to a 4K display for my Mac Pro.

That's a lotta dots

That’s a lotta dots

Well, a 4K TV, really, but that’s only because there aren’t any reasonably priced monitors.

There are definitely both pros and cons to this. I’ll lay out what I’ve discovered after the fold.
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AA7AS 20m Propagation Report

Welcome to the AA7AS Propagation Report. Here, I give you the latest cold, hard scientific facts about what you can expect on the 20 meter ARO band.

Current Sunspot Cycle Analysis:

  • The current cycle has degraded below moped status. Further:
    • The chain has come off
    • Immediate status is stuck in a pothole
    • Handlebars are loose
    • The tires are flat
    • And… someone has stolen the seat
  • Protip: Clothes-pinning playing cards to the spokes is not a “linear” and will not count towards contest points.

That concludes today’s Sunspot Cycle Analysis.

Current f0f2

Current f0f2

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What is a Voicelid?

On the ham radio bands, a voicelid is an operator who is transmitting voice within, or partially within, a portion of the band traditionally reserved for data.

For instance, the USB carrier frequencies 14.230 MHz and 14.233 MHz have traditionally been reserved for slow scan television operations (also known as “SSTV”) for more than 50 years now:


20 Meter ARO Band

20 Meter ARO Band


So with regard to these frequencies, USB voice operation above 14.227 MHz (presuming 3 KHz voice bandwidth, which is generous) and below 14.236 MHz self-identifies the operator as a voicelid, as would (non-traditional, to say the least) LSB carrier point operation below 14.239 MHZ and above 14.230 MHz.

This is true both during non-contest and contest periods. Contests provide no legitimate excuse to intentionally interfere with others — that’s not radiosport. That’s simply rude, as well as outright forbidden.

This does not apply to USB voice transmissions on 14.230 or 14.233 that are actually SSTV related — those are part of normal SSTV operations.

So take a little time to learn about traditional non-voice allocations on all of the bands you operate within, and carefully respect the tiny bits of bandwidth they occupy. This is one of those important bits of operational knowledge that distinguishes the skilled radio operators from the unskilled ones.

#voicelid #sstv

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Hey, IAU: Some Reasonable Definitions

The IAU has, in relatively recent years, been fiddling with the definitions of what objects such as planets are. Quite aside from disrupting everyone’s general understanding for no good reason whatsoever, they did this very poorly.

Here’s a set of criteria for defining a body as a planet:

A Planet…

Planet Pluto

Planet Pluto

  • …is a natural object, such as a rocky ball or a ball of gas, or combination thereof, in hydrostatic equilibrium, which is to say it has enough mass to have pulled itself into a long-term stable oblate spheroid (like Earth) or sphere.
  • …isn’t in a long-term stable orbit around a significantly larger object of a similar nature to itself (in other words, it’s not a moon.)
  • …hasn’t lit up its own fusion reaction

That may not be a perfect set of criteria, but I submit that it is at least close. Also much closer than the IAU’s profound lapse of judgement.


Planet Ceres

Planet Ceres


So yes: Pluto is (still) a planet. We could, if we were being really anal, quibble about it being number nine; There’s Ceres, a 950 km diameter planet located in the asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter, for instance (at the left) which makes Pluto (at least) planet ten as counted outwards from our star; but Pluto is definitely a planet.

Unlike, for instance, Vesta (below), which is just as clearly an isolated fragment of something larger:

Vesta

Vesta

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How to wear a garter belt

Here’s something for ladies new to best lingerie practices. As with many things, when it comes to garter belts and panties, there’s a right way to combine them, and a wrong way. Look carefully at this:

icgarters
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Why I don’t Like Public Theaters

Over the years, I’ve put together a home theater with a big screen, great sound and quality seating. I no longer go to public theaters. During that time, based on quite a few excursions to public theaters, a number of notable disadvantages consequent to public theatergoing have become clear to me:

  • No ability to pause — bathroom breaks and snack fetches cause content to be missed
  • Unclean public bathrooms — not interested in sharing my bathroom breaks, or having to wait
  • Ridiculously expensive snacks, and usually they suck balls anyway
  • People spilling their drinks, providing un-asked-for shoe washing
  • People smacking their lips over their popcorn or whatever, and/or loudly chewing with their mouths open like insufficiently socialized 3-year olds
  • Children (and adults) who interfere with the experience by crying and/or sobbing and/or just general yapping
  • Over-sharing: coughs, sneezes, B.O., bad breath, perfume overloads (why do so many old ladies drench themselves in perfume? One of life’s great mysteries…)
  • Theater ads and admonitions are incredibly obnoxious
  • You can’t replay — or skip — previews
  • The watch-once-with-strangers nature of a theater ticket as opposed to the watch-many-times-with-family-and/or-friends nature of a blu-ray
  • You’re stuck with their schedule, not yours
  • Crying babies, babbling teenagers, any and all generally loud and obnoxious theatergoers
  • The inability to go back and replay a part of the movie when the dialog is so poorly miked and/or spoken that you can’t understand it easily (all too common)
  • Somewhere to drive to when there’s actually no need to drive
  • Waiting in lines. For tickets. For snacks. For the bathroom, for crying out loud.
  • Trying to find parking
  • The possibility of poor viewing angles/distances
  • Uncomfortable and non-cuddly seating
  • Then there are the idiots who don’t turn off their phones, or sit there with the damned things glaring in the corner of my eye
  • Theaters can’t compete with the resale value of a blu-ray if the film turns out to be something you don’t favor
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Just hang on

roct

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