The PVP Diaries #51

Update 5-28

MOAR DAYSHBOORDZ! We’re up to six now:

Six dashboards

This new one shows some interesting data for a change. Click through to the link – it’s a little expansive for a useful screenshot. Here’s a carefully chosen selection that I am somewhat dishonestly using to present the picture I want you to see. I wonder if anyone else does that:

Activity tracker

There’s some more red triangles at the page (two more), but they both involve testing capacity, not the actual sickness. There’s plenty of hospital bed capacity, and only 5% of occupied beds contain patients with COVID-19. Keep in mind that being in the hospital while having COVID is very different from being in the hospital because of COVID. But that’s a number you just don’t see parsed out anywhere.

I mentioned recently that graduating to Phase 2 of normalization comes on a case-by-case, county-by-county basis. The county that contains the state capital just received approval. This is my surprised face:


The religious service guidance is out. This, too, is Phase-dependent (somehow I remember something like that from my electronics days in the Army):

Phase 1:

Phase 2:

Some people think the timing indicates that Trump is to blame for this. Some people think that the timing indicates that Trump is to credit for this. Some people are just getting back from their visits to essential businesses like pot shops and liquor stores, and will share their valuable opinions freely once they log in.


*It’s FEWER, you friggin’ halfwits.

I’m just a guy measuring life by the cubic yard:


Sometimes you flow, sometimes you ebb. Yesterday ebbed hard.

I’m just about over it. I did make it about halfway through that pile on the left yesterday, but I’m not enjoying the work like I was 2 weeks ago. At leas it’s keeping me busy. Today I’ll seal the pavers, which means putting out the word to the not-so-dead-end street that the kids all need to stay off of it until tomorrow. They’ve had the run of the place for the duration of the lockdown, and because our house is on one of the ends of the course that they travel, the patio sits right in the natural turn for any loops they make during their games. The problem I’ve noted with kids – all of them – is that they are kind and respectful, and they listen and they understand, and then they turn from you and just forget everything you’ve said. I’ve made several areas off-limits to their feet- places where plants are growing or the shrubs are a bit too delicate to be run through, and every single day I catch them running through there anyway.

There is a childless couple on the street who was long ago singled out by one of the moms on the block as being not nice enough to her children. She’s one of those sorts who cannot bear the thought of someone else telling her children off, no matter how much they may need to be silenced or put in their places. She bristled and still speaks disparagingly of the time when the childless ones placed a large garden/shrubbery area off limits to the kids on the street. I hear her exaggerating the terms of the story every time she tells it, so that by now it sounds like the neighbor came out waving a butcher’s knife and chasing the kids away from her hydrangeas behind a flood of curses and threats. Ok, ok, so not quite like that. But certainly it has changed from the reality of “can you kids please not play in this area,” to the perception of, “GET OUT OF THERE RIGHT NOW YOU DIRTY VERMIN.” Increasingly, we behave in person the way we do on the internet.

Yesterday the childless ones, along with the widowed mother of two teenagers, asked us all to please make sure our kids stopped climbing the trees in their yards. There’s a special discomfort in asking a kid to stop doing something so quintessentially tied to childhood as tree climbing. The neighbors are not ignorant of this. You never want to be that person. But I’ve seen the harm that climbing can do to a healthy tree, and I get it. Several months ago I banned them all (5 total kids who are old enough to do it) from climbing a cedar in the yard, because the branches just couldn’t handle them. The lowest ones – even large, healthy ones – were drooping desperately so that I had to do some undesirable pruning to save them. It took a solid two weeks of telling all of the kids, sometimes individually, sometimes gathering them up and telling them collectively, before they actually stopped climbing it. They’re good kids, but playtime erases their brains.

Anyway, the “please keep the kids out of our trees” message came to the neighborhood via text yesterday, as well as in person. I thought it was handled well. Not everyone else felt the same way. But as a species in general, there is perhaps nothing at which we do so dependably poorly as receiving criticism. Most parents, when told, “please ask your kids not to climb my trees,” hear “you are a terrible parent of terrible children.” Criticism and correction are taken as personal insults instead of opportunities for reflection and improvement. You don’t have to agree with every criticism you receive, I always tell the kids, but you don’t have to fight about it, either. Don’t be petty.

I fear, ultimately, that the beginnings of some unease on our not-so-dead-end street have been sown. We need to be let out of our cages, soon, all of us, so that we can finally have the freedom to choose how we want to get the hell away from each other.

Respect your neighbors, Comrade Citizen!

7 thoughts on “The PVP Diaries #51”

  1. “I wonder if anyone else does that:”

    *Everyone* does that. I can think only of two individuals who may not: Mr. Spock and Data. And I have my doubts about Spock. The question is, how honest is everyone else about doing it? To that point, I found it interesting that one of the graphs– Re, I think– actually had a confidence interval represented in the graphic, and– and!– an explanation (hover over the green circle).

    You know what a great project would be for someone extremely well-versed in information graphics, statistics, and cognitive science would be? Look *objectively* (I know) at how each state presented the relevant information. A straight up observational meta-analysis of how the data were analyzed in each state, and how they were graphically presented. Man. It would be a lot of work– this well-versed investigator(s) would need to be blind to the states, etc.– but it would be fascinating. (E.g., Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative, Tufte, 1997).

    Great final sentence, btw.


    1. “The question is, how honest is everyone else about doing it?”

      The question is, how many people genuinely (incorrectly, naively) believe they’re not doing it?

      I had one math class in my creative writing degree. It was largely financial math – interest rates and such. But we did probabilities, talked about confidence intervals, and had a good section on dissecting HOW data is presented, and WHAT is presented and not presented in studies. We had an assignment to find an article that took a side on a particular issue (I used “Roundup causes cancer in humans”), then track down the actual studies that are cited in the article, and see how the article twisted or otherwise masked the data to appear in a certain, bias-confirming way. It didn’t get very deep, being a core curriculum class, but I’m guessing it was just enough of an eye-opener for the 18-20 year-old students, about all the lying and misdirection that their flimsy worldviews rest upon, to make them forget very quickly that they ever took that class. He was a very young professor who suppressed his biases very well. I liked him.

      The best day was when he crushed the entire class (except one old guy in the front row), and especially one very vocal young woman, by showing, at great length, the overwhelming evidence against the theory that GMOs are harmful to humans. As well as the laughable paucity of evidence supporting it. He encouraged everyone to go home and do their own research (so easy now with the internet, these kids have no idea) and come back with what they find. The subject never came up again.


      1. Here we go. John and I can be amused for days by this sort of crap. A few years ago there was a report in the popular literature (internet) of a study that conclusively showed that allowing your dog to sleep on your bed was detrimental to your health. It was freaking everywhere and the reaction was something to see. Turns out the sample size was 40, 30+ of whom were women >40, and single. AND were recruited from members in that group activity where you and your dog and a bunch of other lonely women get together and do tricks with your dogs most of which were of the pip-squeak variety. And people took this seriously.

        I took an elective class in high school back in the dark ages when students were assumed to be able to choose what classes they wanted to take. “Fundamentals of Thought and Expression.” See? That’s the impact it had on me! It was baby logic, discussion of use of color, font, imagery &c. in print advertising. Made an impression.

        Glad you had that Prof. It really burns me up sometimes when I hear the yacking about how all professors are left-wing shills. I do not know the status on this, but there’s a book coming out, targeted at a non-academic audience, “Dissenting Philosophers.” We know a lot of the other contributors. They are not left-wing shills. If the book gets any traction, I think some may be surprised to learn this.


  2. Of Tribulation, these are They,
    Denoted by the White —
    The Spangled Gowns, a lesser Rank
    Of Victors — designate —

    All these — did conquer —
    But the ones who overcame most times —
    Wear nothing commoner than Snow —
    No Ornament, but Palms —

    Surrender — is a sort unknown —
    On this superior soil —
    Defeat — an outgrown Anguish —
    Remembered, as the Mile

    Our panting Ankle barely passed —
    When Night devoured the Road —
    But we — stood whispering in the House —
    And all we said — was “Saved”!


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