Sunday, June 28, 2020

Free Speech, Just Not For Me... The Anthem of the Muted Majority

"And I feel like a number
Feel like a number
Feel like a stranger
A stranger in this land
I feel like a number
I'm not a number
I'm not a number
Dammit I'm a man" ~Bob Seeger


Right off the bat, I know that I have already offended some of you reading the lyrics I chose for my introduction.

This may be your first foray into my blog, or a repeat visit, and that last line may have triggered you.

Why? 

Not because of the fear of numbers and math that many people profess.

Because of my use of a single word: MAN

Those of you who know me IRL, know that I am not a man, and those of you who don't, well, now you know too.

But your overwhelming compulsion to jump on "discriminatory" language has already led you to slot me into whatever negative stereotypes you favor at the moment.

However, forty plus years later, and the lyrics still fit, regardless of the "gender specific" word used.

This is sad, because if you peruse my other blog entries you will realize that I have great respect for numbers and wish that everyone would feel comfortable enough to use them in their everyday life.

For me, personally, to feel like a number in a negative sense is not a good thing.

Ironically, for all the almost universal dread of mathematics and numbers, our society has become obsessed with quantifying people - usually in a way to avoid human contact.

The result? I feel as though I no longer have a voice. My conversations about how I really feel on any topic are confined to the people in my life who I trust.

Otherwise, anyone who disagrees with my point of view declares open season and lumps me in with their preordained dismissive labels.

Don't believe me? This morning I received a video from a friend of mine, a woman I have known for more years than the Seeger song has been in existence. 

Click here to see/hear the hate speech from both sides. Warning: NSFW, and even I cringed to hear the language out of these seniors.

It is my understanding that we are guaranteed "freedom of speech" in the First Amendment to our Constitution. 

Nowhere in that amendment is there language limiting that freedom to "only speech agreed to by the listener", yet that has become the norm.

People who disagree with your point of view are free to hurl hateful invectives at you, become physically agressive towards you, and even attempt to interfere with your job, your residence, your way of life.

I no longer feel as though I have the right to express my views, even when confronted aggressively by another person expounding their opinion.

How has it come to the point where a multitude of individuals like myself feel muted?

Because we have become quantified by our age, our gender, our height, weight, eye color, hair color, shoe size, marital status, race, highest level of education, household income, place of residence, ad infinitum.

We have been slotted into categories that are used by any and all wishing to dehumanize their "opposition" in order to advance their own agenda.

Don't believe me? Rewatch that video above. The hateful phrases being slung freely by both sets of seniors are characteristic of our society in general.

Then watch this one, because it is how many of us silenced individuals perceive ourselves: 


How is this relevant? You can throw out all the polls and predictions presented by either side of an issue.

The numbers collected are invalid because of the sheer numbers of people who remain silent, fearful of expressing their opinions by the retaliatory activities of those who disagree with them.

Enough is enough. We are developing a society of Stepford Wives in which diversity is not only devalued, it is penalized.

We complain about the lack of innovation and invention from our country, which used to be in the forefront of the world in those areas.

How can we possibly expect to excel when our entire society is focused on homogeneity - and differences are punished?

Wake Up America! 

It is okay to be different!

It is okay to disagree!

IT IS NOT OKAY TO DISENFRANCHISE AND SILENCE PEOPLE THROUGH YOUR HATEFUL WORDS AND RETALIATORY ACTIVITIES!

Saturday, June 13, 2020

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Truth...

We are ALL human!

Part of being human is having free will to make our own decisions.

Repeat that phrase until it starts to sink in...

We are ALL human!

We are ALL human!

Yet something that has been lost in our perceptions of, behaviors towards, and treatment of other humans is that there are no absolutes.

Good and bad are artificial constructs, and humans are living organisms.

Part of reality is acknowledging that there are no absolutes, yet our society has become focused on polarization and characterization.

The "ugly truth" is that our society's ability to interact on a personal level has died an unnoticed death.

Instead we use snap judgments, appearances, and labels to place people in boxes so that we no longer have to discover who they really are and how they fit into the world.

Don't believe me? Let's play a game of Family Feud!

Take out a sheet of paper and list the first ten words that come to mind for each of the following phrases:

Homeless Person                      Recovering Addict                    Convicted Felon

If you were truly honest with yourself, the ten words you listed were ugly and limiting.

Nothing you listed would possibly allow any person in any of those groups to be productive and successful.

Each of those three phrases is used by our society to put a member of that group down at the bottom of a well (figuratively).

Then our subsequent actions become the water source that fills the well and drowns them.

This is what I refer to when I use the word "absolute".

It is easy to quantify a person by a label, and that has become the norm in our society.

Fast food, next day delivery, snap judgments, instant gratification - these are the hallmarks of who we have become.

More to the point, it is far easier to dismiss a person by quickly tossing them into a category that you have already tried and convicted in the court of your mind.

We are ALL human!

Which means that making snap judgments (based on physical appearance, behaviors, or anything else a person does) is no longer acceptable.

We are ALL human!

But in order to become more human ourselves, we need to take the time to learn who a person really is rather than characterizing them in a way that denies their individuality.

We are ALL human!

Don't be an ambassador for "the ugly truth" - revise how you characterize and treat others.

BE A HUMAN!

Saturday, June 6, 2020

The Pen is Mightier than the Sword - Part 2 - "What's In A Name?"

"What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By Any Other Name would smell as sweet"
~ Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare

And how true this is about roses, but unfortunately roses and humans are far different.

Although living, a rose does not have free will and is incapable of making choices and changing its nature when it becomes necessary for survival.

Humans can, and will, adjust any aspects of themselves that they are able, when they realize that happiness and success depend upon that change.

A human will further their training and education. A human will seek professional help for a problem. A human will stop their substance abuse. A human will reform themself.

Unfortunately, there are aspects of being human that a person cannot change. Skin color, age, visible disabilities, these are all aspects that are difficult to alter.

Yet not only are these visible aspects of humanity used to make snap judgements, people use other information to also discriminate against their fellow human beings.

This human behavior is systemic and institutionalized, and even ingrained into our society at every level, and has been going on for decades.

Don't believe me? When is the last time that you filled out any type of "official" paperwork when you weren't asked to indicate your gender and racial background?

Just as the human race encompasses a broad spectrum of descriptors (race, gender, religion, political affiliation, social background), so does the discrimination.

Making laws and rules to "correct" the issue is not only unsuccessful, it causes the development of additional problems. (University of California v Bakke is just one of many examples.)

For the record, I don't believe that there is "reverse discrimination". I do believe that discrimination occurs when any member of a group treats an individual differently based on not belonging to that group.

When you attempt to advance one group for opportunities and reduce the availability for others as a result, you are contributing to the problem.

Yet government agencies, educational institutions, and employers chest thump and give each other "attaboys" for on-boarding easily identifiable "minorities", as long as those minorities aren't a potential problem.

Ever wonder why we have a serious problem with homelessness, addiction, and criminal recidivism in this country?

Those populations constitute individuals that transcend any visible or societal quantifiers, and they are discriminated against at a far higher rate than any other "group" you could name.

The homeless are unable to get housing because they don't have "references" or a current address. They are often unable to gain/maintain employment because of their lack of a stable living situation.

Addiction is considered a disabling condition, and just as a diabetic has that condition for life, so does an addict. Addicts (as opposed to casual drug users) are covered under the ADA, and are therefore not subject to discrimination in hiring practices when reasonable accommodations allow their employment.

Most employers won't hire someone they know is an recovering addict, even when that individual will agree to random testing and lengthened probationary periods. I know of one company CEO/President that did just that despite positive interviews, references and recommendations from multiple individuals within the company. (Ironically enough, in that instance the company has a number of government contracts.)

Individuals with a criminal record? Not only can't they find employment and housing, they are unable to escape their poor decisions from the past. Despite our society claiming that they are willing to "let bygones be bygones", anyone with a criminal record, even just a misdemeanor, is often denied on a rental application and a job application. (Unless you are rich or a social media cause celebre - then you find offers falling into your lap.)

Small wonder that many individuals in these three populations "relapse". They are unable to secure simple things (home, work, stability) that most of us take for granted.

Even in their daily social interactions, the instant an individual is suspected or identified as being homeless, an addict, or having a criminal record, they are ostracized or treated differently (and not in a positive uplifting way).

It is impossible to finger point any one group in our society as discriminatory offenders, just as it is impossible to define any one group as the victims.

Anyone can change their social media profile for an hour or a day. Anyone can brag about the "efforts" they make that last an hour, a day, a week, or (rarely) a month. This is not new behavior. Most of these individuals will be on to the next cause within a short period of time.

Instead, point the finger at yourself. Ask yourself what you can do to change your practices and beliefs. Ask yourself what you can do to help the least of these. Ask yourself how you can lead others to make a change.

Life Matters! Truth Matters! Behavior Matters!

Friday, June 5, 2020

The Rule of Three - Liar's Poker

Gather round kiddos, because today's math lesson is about exponents.

Why exponents? Because it directly applies to lying behavior.

Studies have shown that for every lie you tell, you need to tell three to keep it going or cover it up.

So you tell one lie.

Next you tell three lies to cover that first one up.

For each one of those, you tell an additional three lies.

The actual equation is 1 + 3^n where the exponent/power is determined by how far out you are from the original lie (which is represented by the 1). The base of three is the number of lies you tell to cover each one lie.

Example? You tell a lie, then you tell the three lies to cover it up. Now you need an additional three lies to cover each of those. And for each of those, another three lies.

1 + 3 x 3 x 3 = 28 lies

Now consider that the average person these days has difficulty remembering a phone number, which is only ten digits.

(About the only number most people remember is 867-5309, and Jenny Jenny isn't going to help you now.)

By the time most people get to that second round of dissembling, where the total is only ten lies, they are having difficulty keeping track of what they have already said.

That's when things should start to unravel, and often do in most cases.

Unfortunately, in this day and age of everything being documented and available on social media, the skillful liar will review the original lie and any supporting falsehoods in order to build a coherent, uniform story.

This is especially easy for those in the public eye, as their every breath and gesture is endlessly recorded and analyzed and available on social media platforms.

So although it is easy to see the lie unraveling for an individual you know personally, it isn't always easy to identify the same problem in a public figure.

Hallmark behaviors that can indicate "rehearsal" in order to cover up/explain a story would be lengthy periods of time before beginning an explanation or rationalization of misstatements, as well as multiple successive "press releases" with additional details and/or clarification.

In terms of personal behavior - if you don't tell lies, you are able to continue to provide a consistent story.

Let your word be your bond, lest you become one of the 10-15%.

Not that long ago, humankind used to be able to trust a person who took an oath that they were telling the truth.

Be that person who is known for their veracity, and it will make your life so much easier.

Truth Matters!

The Pen is Mightier than the Sword - Part 1 - Binary Value THE CURRENT MATH PROBLEM

Based on some of the news headlines this morning, I felt that a second math problem would give a meaningful example of the binary nature of human life.

The statement "10-15% of all people" is an easy illustration to use.


A quick review of the math you need to use - it is called the "percent equation" and works like this:

n = % x t

n is the number of people that fit the description
% is changed to a decimal (move the decimal point two places to the left)
t is the starting total population

Using this information, lets look at a room full of ten people (since ten had been set as a gathering limit under COVID-19 restrictions).

n = .15 x 10

Under this equation, that means 1.5 people in that room. Imagine being with a group of people you know very well, and discovering that 1.5 of them fit the description given.

But under the binary nature of life, that actually means two of those people who you know. Think about those people - do you really believe it?

Know your math! 

Know that life matters!

Know that you can bring change!




Thursday, June 4, 2020

The Pen is Mightier than the Sword - Part 1 - Binary Value

The biggest myth of all time?

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

This is false!

Language has a power that transcends time and context and is evidenced by quotes, literature, and even movie lines that are repeated, retweeted, and treasured.

So when you begin chanting words that you feel are relevant, take the time to examine them for the unspoken context.

The minute you add any descriptive adjectives, the opposite meaning also arises, and that is part of the power of words.

A prime example is an airline slogan: "Fly the friendly skies of United!"

This was a marketing piece of genius. Not only does it convey the impression that United is a pleasant and friendly experience, it also insinuates that any other airline is not friendly.

Apply this thought process to current events.

To truly advance the conversations that need to occur, the slogan that people should be chanting right now is the following:

LIFE MATTERS!


No qualifiers, no adjectives, no restrictions; no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Here's a simple math problem similar to ones that I did with my middle school math students early in the school year:

How many people are born each second if there are 360,000 people born a day?

The purpose of this math problem wasn't necessarily to assess their division skills, as they were allowed to think/pair/square (try it themselves, work with a partner, work some more with a group of four, then report back) to solve the problem. They were also allowed to use calculators during the exercise.

The real learning experience was for them to start thinking about their answers to problems. 

In this example, 360,000 ÷ 24 hours in a day ÷ 60 minutes in an hour ÷ 60 seconds in a minute = 4.16666667 (it is really 6 repeating but the calculator rounds the number).

After the "square" time, I polled groups for their answer. I then asked them to think about it for another minute and then report back again. Some of the groups decided to use a mixed number instead at this point.

This is the point where the real discussion began. I asked students if there were such a thing as 4.17 (or 4-1/6) of a human, and if so, what did that mean?

Some of the descriptions revolved around being an amputee, but it was as though nobody had ever discussed the fact that life was a binary concept. 

A person is either 1 (alive) or 0 (not alive/dead). We continued with a discussion on whether there were any possible conditions that would give a life a fractional/decimal value instead of 1.

I think the saddest part of the discussion that we had in my classroom is that up until this point, most of these developing adults had never been told that a human life had a meaning, a value, which wasn't any less or any more than any other human life, regardless of any qualifiers, adjectives, restrictions; ifs, ands, or buts about it.

When was the last time you thought about it from this perspective?

When was the last time that you had this discussion with anyone around you, especially the younger generation?

LIFE MATTERS!

All conversations must begin with this as a starting point.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

The Rule of Three - Choose Wisely

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is the best illustration of this principle.

At the climax of the movie (the point when all the threads play out, not the end) Elsa and Indy are in the chalice room.

They are tasked with choosing the correct grail that will grant healing and eternal life.

Elsa goes first and chooses an ornate grail to give to Walter Donovan.

Choice 1: Do the wrong thing.

Donovan is not the archaeologist, so he thinks that the size, the gold, and the gems, mark its importance, drinks from it, and dies.

Elsa knew that it was a deadly choice, but deliberately chose wrong, and killed a man.

Choice 2: Do nothing.

The look that Elsa and Indy exchange when this occurs illustrates the second option.

That is the choice that Indy made when Elsa made her choice. He knew that it was the wrong grail, but did not speak up or stop her.

Choice 3: Do the right thing.

And Indy did just that, in choosing the real grail to heal his father, even though it could have been grabbed at any point by any of the others there.

Our country is at a precipice, and it is precisely because people have either never been taught the rule of three, or they take choices 1 and 2.

There were four officers at the scene with George Floyd, one did the wrong thing, and three did NOTHING.

But they weren't the only ones at the scene, and those other people also did NOTHING. In fact, based on the number of videos and/or photos that surfaced immediately afterwards, they chose to do the WRONG THING.

There were people saying "Stop" and "You're hurting him" and even at least one of the other officers also spoke.

But none of them ACTED, which is usually necessary in doing either the right thing or the wrong thing.

None of the spectators put down their cell phone camera long enough to call 911, step forward to attempt to stop the murder, or any other action that could have led to different circumstances.

Groups of protesters out on the streets are being converted into violent mobs looting by small actions.

Had someone actually done something at the scene it might have been the tipping point that would have mobilized at least one of the officers to do the right thing.

But the time is past for that type of speculation, because everyone at that scene made their choice and propelled history forward to the point we are today.

Unfortunately we have come to a point in our society also, where Choice 3 has become far more painful than Choices 1 and 2.

If you choose the wrong thing, there may possibly be negative consequences, however many times those choices become glorified and memorialized and create a social media hero.

So many people are opting for Choice 2, and do nothing. When things go wrong, these individuals quietly slip away or hang at the fringes, remaining quiet rather than attract attention.

Choice 3 has become painful - during the riots we have seen multiple images of people being assaulted to the point of death when they try to stop assault, theft, and looting. They become at a minimum the target of screaming and profanity.

In the "normal world" laws have been developed to protect "whistleblowers" because a person making the right choice can be targeted for job persecution and harassment.

Moving forward, keep in mind that every time you make a choice, you are making one of three. Let it be the right one!

Sunday, May 31, 2020

" The Frozen Chosen"

Over half of my life was spent working with members and families of the 10th Mountain Division.

They survive in every shade of the skin rainbow, every spectrum of the spiritual scale, the span of their diversity is staggering.

But they key concept is that they survive.

They survive life events that would cripple many people, for they experience more than just the births and deaths, marriages and divorces, graduations and new homes.

They start with boot camp, ten weeks when they leave home and do their initial training in the military.

This is not like going away to college because they can't call home whenever they get lonely, or need money, and they can't leave to go to a concert or a sporting event (or home to get their laundry done and a real meal).

Their days are filled with physical training that rivals that of the most extreme personal trainer, as well as education in a variety of disciplines.

And that is where most movies that portray the "Army experience" end. But it isn't truly the end, just the beginning.

After boot camp comes AIT - Advanced Individual Training. Depending upon the individual soldier's MOS (job description), this can last anywhere from four weeks to a year.

Now although this segment of a soldier's training is more like college, don't ever lose sight of the fact that a member of the military is considered on duty 24/7/365. They are at work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

That not only means that they work that schedule, so do their family members. Once they have signed on the dotted line, they have sacrificed their celebrations and personal life events to serve.

But the sacrifice doesn't end there.

Once the solider receives a duty assignment, they move there, often across the country, to a new home, new climate, unfamiliar faces.

This post is titled "The Frozen Chosen" because Fort Drum, NY has affectionately been renamed that in military circles - "Those who get Chosen, get Frozen".

Many of the soldiers stationed at Fort Drum have come from far sunnier climates where PT (physical training) gets cancelled for snow on the ground. In NNY, however, it is "business as usual" until the snow is above your waist.

They weren't aware when they purchased their vehicle that AWD or 4WD was a better option than a nice stereo package, and it makes driving from October to May interesting for them until they get acclimated.

But those are little things compared to the deployments.

Most of you can't imagine being separated from your friends and family for weeks, let alone the months these soldiers experience. They are allowed home for a "block leave" (approximately two weeks) every four to six months, and sometimes almost half of that leave is taken up with the travel time.

They work in areas of the world where contact by phone or technology is limited by resources and time differential, as well as any adverse conditions where they are deployed.

Still don't realize who these guys are? Just Google 10th Mountain Division and you will see the places that they are currently stationed (and have been continuously for years).

And now they have been called up, mobilized, and asked to do the unthinkable

They are now on call to be stationed in their own country, putting their lives at risk at the hands of fellow citizens to protect fellow citizens.

These are the brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces and cousins of those both wreaking havoc and being victimized by the destruction.

They are going to a duty station to deal with situations that they have seen in multiple countries around the world with primitive and oppressive conditions, but this is in their own country.

Once again, they are putting their lives on the line for their country, but now that life is at risk by their fellow countrymen.

If this isn't a wakeup call, that our heroes are being asked to serve once more under circumstances none of you would willingly face, then there is no hope for you.

Enough is enough!

You have dishonored George Floyd, you have dishonored your neighbors, your employers, your friends with the theft, arson, and destruction.

Will you now dishonor those who have willingly put their lives on the line for you at home and abroad?

Think about it!

Saturday, May 30, 2020

A Slippery Slope: Flinging Poo and Other Wrongs

The title of this blog entry is in NO WAY meant to trivialize the current events, as they are horrendous beyond description.

However, none of this should have come as a surprise to anyone.

To say that you "don't understand" how these events could have deteriorated so rapidly means you simply haven't been paying attention.

We live in a society where individuals feel free to use social media to threaten, harass, and bully others. This is not limited to children/teens/young adults - even so-called mature adults participate in this.

Evidence? Look at the "name calling" that occurs after any election. Both the winner(s) and the loser(s) - through their supporters and proxies, if not personally - unleash unlimited vitriol and insults on those who supported the other candidate(s).

When even our purported leadership has a marked lack of respect for the individuals under their "guidance", why would we expect others to behave any differently.

Last time I checked, it was nobody's business if or how I voted, and to attempt to discover the specifics and to persecute me or anyone else because of it is inappropriate.

(Can you imagine being at a second floor level meeting of your peers and hearing the leader of the meeting say "If any of you support 'Candidate X' you can just jump out that window right now!"? I was there.)

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I work at an establishment that normally has what would be considered a middle to upper class clientele. We are under no obligation to provide restrooms because we do not serve food or beverage.

Over the past month, on an almost daily basis, the customers have defiled our bathrooms.

Would you like details? They have urinated and defecated on the floor, wiped feces all over the toilets and sometimes the walls, jammed the toilets with paper towel and then shat on top of that.

One woman even stepped over a garbage pail to enter and exit the bathroom first thing in the morning (the pail was in the door overnight to allow the floor to dry after cleaning). She decided to throw enough paper towel in the toilet to clog it, rather than using the garbage pail that she couldn't possibly have overlooked.

Not once has a customer approached an employee and reported that there was a problem with the bathrooms, or that they were sorry for the mess they left.

We employees have been left to discover the chaos when we have entered the bathrooms to use them.

Luke 16:10 (KJV) ~ He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.

How is this applicable? If you can't be appropriate with the little things, you certainly won't be appropriate with the larger issues.

The ugly truth lurking below the so-called "good life" in America is that we have generations of people who either do not know how to do the "right thing", or just don't want to bother.

The minute it becomes an issue of choice, too many people will do the wrong thing and choose what will benefit them rather than do what is right.

Killing anyone is wrong. Taking anything that doesn't belong to you is wrong. Destroying or damaging someone else's property is wrong. Causing harm to others is wrong.

Until we recognize these simple values and take action to oppose wrong regardless of personal consequences, nothing should come as a surprise.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Who Wants To Predict The Future? COVID-19 Data Forecasting for Beginners

Let's get back to some basic math. 

Here is the data from May 22, 2020 as posted on the Florida COVID-19 Website.

It reveals some interesting information.


To begin with, the mortality rate of COVID-19 for the State of Florida is 4.4% (2,190/49,451 X 100 - divide the number of deaths by the number of positive cases and multiply by 100).

The mortality rate for Palm Beach County is 6.1% (311/5,072 X 100). This is the HIGHEST rate for any county in Florida. Yet it has been less than a week since the "defcon" rate for this county was upgraded.

So how can you prognosticate? Start by the realization that we have become a society so self-centered and focused on the fulfillment of personal desires that the responsibility for the greater good means nothing, and is often considered an inconvenience.

Combine that with the mobility rate practiced by citizens in their quest for self-enjoyment, and you have a recipe for spread and spike in the Coronavirus in Florida.

The county immediately to the north has repeatedly had to put in place "protective" guidelines (including closing boat ramps and requiring id for use of public beaches) as a result of the refusal of Palm Beach County residents to take reasonable protective measures.

Yet rather than behave responsibly, those residents continue to ignore reasonable guidelines (masks, social distancing, basic restraint) and impose their indifference to risk on others.

We have become an "immediate gratification" society, and if it doesn't happen within minutes of our expectation, we get angry. Look at the success of Amazon Prime as an example - "Next Day Delivery" has fueled an upsurge in the "I want it now!" syndrome.

It should come as no surprise that when there isn't an immediate upsurge in infection rates or deaths, people become even more lackadaisical in their precautions.

Let's look at some simple prediction guidelines. 

In terms of time frames, there are no absolutes - the time from exposure to symptoms has been given as a range of two days to two weeks. And the range from exposure to death can be three to five weeks. 

But these aren't absolutes either, just an approximation given a "perfect world" and laboratory conditions, as well as anecdotal evidence.

So now let's look at some Florida metrics. Notice how there is a subtle manipulation of the perception right out of the gate. 


The data in this histogram below doesn't show ALL of the new Florida cases, just those for individuals identified as Florida Residents. Yet there are many people in Florida that have residency elsewhere.

What does that mean in practical terms? The actual number of new cases in Florida is far higher than that shown when you add in the "Non Florida Residents".

Now look at the high data point on the left of the above graph - on April 23 the number was 1.2K, so by extrapolation, there should be a "spike" in deaths anywhere from one to three weeks later, give or take.




Voila, on May 4 - a "spike" in the data on the graph. And once again, keep in mind that this data is ONLY those individuals identified as Florida Residents.

Given the recent termination of the data chief for the Florida COVID-19 website I found it quite intriguing to see a "glitch" in the histograms for the Resident Deaths.

Above is the data posted on May 23, 2020, and below is the data from May 22, 2020.



In the graph from May 23, the death data reported for May 22, 2020 is 2, and for May 21,  18.

Yet ironically enough, the reporting on May 22 had the number of deaths on May 21 set at 2.  Somehow, 16 more deaths on May 21 "magically" appeared in 24 hours.

Once again, bear in mind that these numbers are only Florida Residents, not the data for deaths of people in Florida who are not identified as residents.

So how can you "predict the future"? Look once again at the histogram below.


There are two more "spikes" in the data as of yesterday. On May 16 there were 1.1K new cases, and on May 20, 1.2K new cases. (In case you aren't sure - K is shorthand for 1000, so 1,100 and 1,200 respectively.)

Given extrapolation, that means around today (one week after the May 16 spike) there should be a spike in deaths that could last a week or more. There should be a second spike beginning on or around May 27.

If you look at a calendar, that means there is going to be an overlap of those spikes in death rates. After all, the above two spikes were only four days apart.

Ironically, the first spike occurred two weeks after Florida entered it's Phase One reopening. This precipitated many individuals ignoring the ongoing request by the governor to continue to practice social distancing and wear masks.

And this is where "flatten the curve" comes into play. It is intended to reduce the strain on the healthcare system that will be caused by wave after wave of overlapping surges in hospitalizations based on these spikes.

What is the solution? 

Recognize that "There are no rights without responsibilities," means that although you have the right to freedom, you have the responsibility to not endanger your fellow humans with your flippant behaviors.

Mask up, keep your distance, be responsible.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A MATH TEACHER LOOKS AT COVID-19: By the Numbers (This Speaks For Itself)


Anyone who has ever paid even the smallest amount of attention should be aware that statistics is one of the most fluid and easily manipulated fields of Mathematics.

Collecting the data is easy. Just count and record.

But when it is time to verify what you are attempting to prove, or disprove, you need to use some form of statistical computation.

In analyzing the released data for my earlier blog entries regarding COVID-19 in FL, I had to dig for numbers that may not have been part of the released reports. 

For example, when looking at a certain county directly to the south of me, I determined the percentage of people testing positive, and deaths, based on the actual population of the county, in comparison to the population of the entire state.

Much to my dismay, the actual rates for both were far higher than when just examining the raw numbers. That meant that those individuals travelling north from their homes to access public amenities where I live were a far greater risk than presented because their likelihood of exposure/infection were a relatively high percentage compared to more populous counties.

I applaud the local county governance for being aware of the threat and responding with a variety of actions, including appropriate law enforcement activities, designed to limit the influx of those who were trying to bypass restrictions in their own county.

Meanwhile, another issue has arisen. From this point forward, the numerical data you look at may not be as accurate as one would hope. Click here for censorship at its finest.

The data chief for the website that I was using as a primary source of numbers is no longer employed there. The rumored cause of her termination is that she wouldn't tweak the numbers.

Before we move into a discussion of statistics, lets look at some simple math - computing combinations.

We can quickly summarize some of the simple numerical categories: a) total cases, b) total cases of Florida residents, c) hospitalizations, d hospitalizations of Florida residents, e) total deaths, and f) total deaths of Florida residents. 

For each of these categories, the former data chief had one of three decisions: under report, give the exact number, or over report.

So there were at least six categories, and three possibilities for each choice. 

But this isn't basic multiplication (6 x 3 = 18) because that doesn't take into account all the possible variations.

Rather, it is: 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 = 729 different possible reasons that her termination may have occurred just using these basic categories.

If you want to speculate, it will take you a while to list all the possibilities that the spin doctors wanted, and then examine other sources to hunt for clues. Let me remind you that this list of categories isn't complete, I just picked the obvious ones quickly visible on the website.

So rather than taking any more time examining the termination issue, lets move on to the issue of statistics. 


When I took Educational Statistics as part of my Master's Degree, my professor made it clear that if the data doesn't support your hypothesis/thesis, just try a different statistical analysis. 

For every type of data, there are usually AT LEAST three different formulae that can be used to analyze the numbers, and one of them should work in your favor if you have a valid topic.

If you enjoy the concept of taking a hard look at statistics presented in the media, try this book (one of my favorite authors): A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper, by John Allen Paulos

But meanwhile, think about it - you should realize that every statistic that you have been given to date regarding COVID-19 can now be called into question. Death rates, positive test rates, hospitalization rates...all of it may have been manipulated to provoke an emotional response from you (and probably was).

Why terminate a data chief? Because if she is giving accurate raw data, there will always be a nerd like me out there who can use it to educate people, and undermine the spin that everyone is trying to put on it.

Educate yourself. Learn some basic math skills. Demand accurate numbers.

The numbers don’t lie, people do.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Open Your...Mind (Not Your Restrictions)


I just need to put this out there.

Personal observations?

  • Over 60% failure to wear masks and/or social distance. 
  • Walking past signs that say "Mask Required" and ignoring/laughing.
  • Getting "up close and personal" (two feet or less) with essential employees.
  • Getting "up close and personal" (two feet or less) with other individuals.
  • Pretending that COVID-19/Coronavirus doesn't exist and that it is "business as usual".
  • Increasing number of license plates from states that have higher restrictions.
Be kind, be human, be respectful.

Wear a mask and keep your distance.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Covidlocks - A Fairy Tale from 2020

Covidlocks was born sometime in 2019, to the best of her recollection. After all, a young virus like her doesn't have much memory regarding her genesis in a lab.

When she reached an age when it was perceived that she would be able to survive on her own, she was released to find her way in the world.

She enjoyed travelling, and so quickly made her way around the world, sampling from all that humanity had to offer.

In time, she arrived in a new country, and quickly realized that something was different. Her arrival was greeted by hostility, and she found locked doors and shuttered businesses everywhere she went.

People were keeping their distance from her, and even were wearing masks. She began to find it difficult to travel.

But still she persisted, and entered in. And then she found that this was a place of contrasts and disputes.

Despite the fact that from north to south, east to west, and every area in between there were vast differences in climate, speech, and way of life, there were those that wanted to treat everyone identically.

Even Covidlocks realized that just as fish don't climb trees and cats don't behave logically, expecting to use a single "one size fits all" approach was not going to scare her off.

So she decided to find a place to stay to further study this diverse society.

The first place she tried to stay was shuttered tight - windows and doors locked and at first no answer to her knock on the door or ring of the doorbell. The beings within peered carefully out through small gaps in the stacks of toilet paper piled in front of the window - they were masked and gloved and armed with spray bottles of hand sanitizer.

When Covidlocks loudly asked for a place to stay, they screamed at her to stay away, and immediately began spraying the inside of their window with the sanitizer.

The second place she approached looked like there was a party in progress. Crowds of people were hugging and touching each other, not a mask or glove in sight, and it was packed wall to wall with all types of organisms.

Covidlocks spotted a family in the corner that she recognized as members of the Streptococcus clan, and she decided that she'd better find a different place to stay.

The third dwelling looked fairly normal in comparison to the first two and she decided to take her chances. After knocking on the door, the individuals within opened the door with a request that she remain on the porch while they heard her out.

Although they were masked, they made sure that they spoke clearly enough that Covidlocks could understand what they said. When she presented her request for a place to stay, they let her know that she could use their guest room that had it's own entrance and bathroom, but that they would appreciate if she did not attempt to use any of the rest of the house.

After agreeing to the terms, Covidlocks decided to head out to see what else was available. Feeling a bit hungry, she decided to search for a restaurant.

The first restaurant she approached looked dark and deserted, and when she peered in the windows, she saw the chairs stacked on top of the tables and cobwebs and dust.

The second dining establishment had tables packed so closely together that the wait staff could barely move between them to deliver food. There wasn't a mask or glove in sight on diners or employees.

Covidlocks decided to move on, and found a third place to eat. After a brief walk, she found a welcoming location that had both indoor and outdoor seating. She noticed that three out of every four tables inside had the chairs set on top to prevent seating, and outdoors she saw that the tables were placed quite a distance apart. All of the employees were wearing masks, and there was even a box of masks available for patrons to take one if they chose.

She watched a table leave, and immediately a busboy wearing gloves came over, cleared away all the dishes, and wiped down all the surfaces of the table and chairs with a cloth repeatedly rinsed in a bucket that smelled of bleach.

Covidlocks sat down and enjoyed a meal, not the best she had ever had, but the level of comfort in the environment made up for the food deficiencies.

After her meal, she decided to take a stroll to see what recreational amenities were available. First she passed a large skate park, gates locked and signs posted announcing its closure due to Pandemic. Shaking her head in disbelief, she didn't understand how an activity that by its very nature required distance could be considered "unsafe".

As she continued on her way, she noticed a beach with sunbathers packed towel to towel with not a speck of sand visible. People attempting to walk down the beach, in search of seashells or exercise, found it difficult to wend their way through the crowded bodies.

Finally, as she passed a public boat launch, where people waited their turn to put their boats in the water to go fishing, a stray gust of wind caught her long golden hair.

Covidlocks realized that it had been far too long since she had a blow out. She decided to find a salon to tame her unruly locks.

The first place she approached had a "Newly Reopened!" banner across the front, proclaiming its status. All the chairs inside were full of waiting customers, and there was a line going out the door. Every seat was full and not even the nail techs were wearing masks.

Covidlocks moved on to find another parlor. The next one, although it had six chairs, only had a single person working, and a sign on the door stating "Regular Customers Only, Call in Advance for an Appointment". A second sign proclaimed "Masks Required and Documentation of COVID-19 Negative Testing Mandatory".

Not feeling the love, Covidlocks moved on. She found a third spa that was open, and noticed that as a customer was leaving the beautician was wiping down the equipment and chair with Clorox wipes. As she entered, she noticed that the only chairs in use were spaced a body's length apart, and that all the employees were wearing masks. She made an appointment and was told that she needed to be on time or she would lose her place.

After her blowout, Covidlocks went back to the place she was staying to relax and contemplate life for a while. She reviewed everything that she had seen and experienced that day, and realized that she needed to FaceTime her Uncle Darwin later.

Apparently, despite her uncle's belief that nature would provide for adaptation of the fittest, she realized that the "common sense" gene had bypassed around two-thirds of the population.

Covidlocks realized that in times of difficulty, most people over or under reacted, often to an extreme degree. In their zeal, they attempt to impose their beliefs on everyone else, often with a "one size fits all" approach that is impractical at best.

Covidlocks knew that the "new normal" was like herding cats. Everyone had their own opinion of how best to proceed and most of it was not rooted in sound beliefs and practices. She lay back on the bed, perceiving that everyone was in for a bumpy ride and would need their rest.

The moral of this story? "It is time to turn away from self-interest and return to morality."

Thursday, May 7, 2020

COVID-19 As A Metaphor for Social Media Behavior

After an unfortunate social media episode the other day, I came to a realization.

COVID-19 behaviors are just a public manifestation of what has occurred behind screens and keyboards for over a decade now.

We live in a society (both here in the USA as well as in quite a few other countries) in which it has become routine, commonplace, and even acceptable to say and do things in a virtual environment which would be considered outrageous and unacceptable in face to face interactions.

My "aha moment" came about after an individual, whom I have never met or interacted with in person or online, chose to direct a snarky comment at me in an interchange I entered with two close family members. When I questioned the behavior, a second individual, whom I have never met or interacted with in person or online, informed me that once you comment on social media, you leave yourself open to whatever happens.

Really? Would either of these two individuals have walked into the middle of a real-world conversation with three family members, after eavesdropping, and directed comments at one of the three whom they have never met?

I would hope not, but after the public behaviors I have seen exhibited during the COVID-19 coronacrisis, I am no longer sure of the innate common sense of many members of society.

Rather, in my perception, the social media behaviors which have long been festering behind closed doors and furtive texts and posts have now exploded into everyday life like a pustule. Many individuals are no longer able to distinguish acceptable behavior from flat-out rudeness and this has become evident in how they conduct themselves in public.

Remember the scene from Alien? The snarky comments from strangers, the cyber bullying, the inappropriate interchanges have have exploded full bore, with teeth and an insatiable appetite, out of the virtual realm and into real-life encounters.

Case in point? One of my co-workers is an amazing guy who is always ready to help others and has a vast wealth of knowledge in a number of areas.

The same night I was "schooled" in having to passively accept being attacked on social media, he was confronted in real life for no apparent reason. He offered to help a couple who were patronizing our place of essential employment. Initially they declined assistance, but then the wife asked him a question. Just as he was attempting to respond, the husband began screaming at my co-worker, liberally using profanity and insisting that his wife leave the store with him.

He repeatedly informed my co-worker, at an extremely loud volume and peppered with profanity, that he needed to learn "customer service". The irony is that my co-worker was one who bends over backwards to help customers and meet their needs.

There were several other customers who witnessed this episode and couldn't understand what happened, as the outburst was unprovoked.

Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident. Patrons in our workplace have refused to follow social distancing guidelines for employees and made statements to the effect of "If you are that f***ing paranoid, stay the f*** at home!", calling employees an a$$ repeatedly for refusing to return stained/damaged merchandise, and otherwise exhibiting socially detrimental behavior.

One individual insisted on paying in cash, and when told "no" threw a product on the counter, breaking it and propelling parts of it into another customer.

Another customer, when the restriction on cash was finally loosened, licked his fingers before touching each bill and then tried to press it into the hand of the cashier.

What immediately comes to mind is the concept that "there are no rights without responsibilities". People have been spewing that they have the "right" to congregate and behave in ways that can contribute to the spread of of COVID-19, without being willing to assume the responsibility for the consequences.

Unfortunately, the consequences in this case can prove fatal to individuals of all ages, whether or not they are immuno-compromised. One of my co-workers whom I am honored to call a friend contracted COVID-19, unable to breath with a high fever. This virus is real and a real threat, not a myth.

And how does this relate to social media behavior? For years individuals have felt free to post and comment whatever strikes their fancy, regardless of how it could affect anyone. They have relied on the relative stealth afforded by not having to look a person in the face.

Unfortunately, now that has spilled out from behind the keyboards and the screens and is occurring in the real world. Perhaps the enforced "stay at home" blurred the already tenuous boundaries in some of these individuals minds and allowed them to lose all pretense of civility.

Is this really what we have become as a society? Maybe now is a good time to become introspective and examine how we really would like to be seen as an individual and as part of a bigger organism.

But somehow, I feel like I am preaching to the choir and my musings will fall on ears that are deaf to the wake-up call that they desperately need.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

A MATH TEACHER LOOKS AT COVID-19 STATISTICS Part Two AMENDED

I hear a lot of chatter being thrown around the webiverse regarding Flu deaths compared to COVID-19 deaths.

It is patently obvious to me that many of you did NOT listen to your middle school math teacher, because accurately making this comparison involves computation of Unit Rate.

"When are we ever gonna need this?" NOW! 

Before you open your virtual mouth and let your fingers fly over that keyboard or tap on that screen do some simple division.

Why? Because when someone starts talking about apples, and you start describing oranges, you make yourself look like a fruitcake!

Unit Rate is a very simple concept. To compare numbers accurately, you must base them on the same single point of reference.

You have all seen unit rate on the shelf labels in grocery stores: it informs you how much an item costs per ounce, or per pound, or per any other unit by which it is sold.

Unit Rate involves division. For the comparison in question, COVID-19 deaths compared to Flu deaths, divide the total number of deaths to the time period over which they occurred.

USA COVID-19 Deaths (so far): 66,385 over a period of three and a half months (first USA case was January 21, 2020) or 103 days.

USA Flu Deaths: 62,000 (this is an estimated figure from the CDC based on modeling as an actual number of deaths isn't available due to reporting issues) over a period of twelve months or 365 days.

So the Unit Rates for an accurate comparison of these two is as follows:


TypeMonthlyDaily
Flu5,167170
COVID-1918,968645

These figures were derived by taking the total deaths and dividing by the period of time involved (months or days). And because there is no such thing as a decimal or fractional part of a person, the result was rounded UP.

Now let's start playing "Nerd Bingo" for those of you who would prefer to ignore the basic math.

Even if the number of deaths for Flu were the same as COVID-19 (raising the Flu death toll to 66,345),  the following results occur:


TypeMonthlyDaily
Flu5,529182
COVID-1918,968645

And for those of you who are still insisting that the Flu is worse, let's use the absolute upper value that the CDC reports as possible for deaths due to Flu - 79,000:


TypeMonthlyDaily
Flu6,583216
COVID-1918,968645

Finally, using that last value for Flu deaths, and projecting out a possible longer period of time here in the US (first Chinese case - November 17, 2019 which leads to a time period of 5-1/2 months or 168 days):

TypeMonthlyDaily
Flu6583216
COVID-1912070395
So regardless of how you tweak the numbers, COVID-19 is at least TWICE AS BAD as Flu.

Stop making yourself look ridiculous by comparing apples to oranges and do the basic math!

(And while you are at it, stay six feet away and wear a mask!)

Recent claims by armchair scientists and back-seat medical professionals tout the figure of 37,305 by the CDC as the most accurate count of COVID-19 deaths. So let me repost the data using that figure :

At 62,000 Flu deaths per year

TypeMonthlyDaily
Flu5167170
COVID-196783222

At 66,345 Flu deaths per year
TypeMonthlyDaily
Flu5529182
COVID-196783222

At 79,000 Flu deaths per year
TypeMonthlyDaily
Flu6583216
COVID-196783222

So even at the WORST CASE Flu scenario, COVID-19 has already beat it, hands down! 

And that is with all the precautions that have been put into place regarding masks, social distancing, partial/full shutdowns - things that have not been put in place for the Flu.
Let's face it, the numbers don't lie - COVID-19/Coronavirus is WORSE than people realize!

So suck it up buttercup. Put on your mask, stay six feet away, and stop the kvetching.

In the words of Ghandi, "There are no rights without responsibilities!" and some of you just don't get it.