Burbidge Principle

“A guiding operational principle in my life was activated: If frustrated in one’s endeavor by a stone wall or any kind of blockage, one must find a way around — another route towards one’s goal. This is advice I have given to many women facing similar situations. I tell them: Try it, it works.”

-E. Margaret Burbidge quoted in Margalit Fox, “E. Margaret Burbidge, Astronomer Who Blazed Trails on Earth, Dies at 100.” The New York Times. April 6, 2020.

The Sane Prepper Mantra: Common Sense Rules for Prepping

“Prepping should be:

* Responsible. It is smart and normal to get ready for emergencies.

* Valuable. The whole point is to actually benefit from prepping if you should ever need it.

* Easy. Don’t waste hundreds of hours digging through incorrect and confusing content.

* Affordable. Almost any budget can cover the basics of prepping.

* Comforting. Have the peace of mind that you and your family are ready.

* Fun. It’s challenging and fun to figure out how to become a more self-sufficient person. It’s like Boy/Girl Scouts for adults.”

-The Prepared, “The Sane Prepper Mantra: Common sense rules for prepping.” ThePrepared.com. January 8, 2018

I haven’t gone into this article in detail, mostly marking it for later reference. It looks like a companion piece to Doomsday Planning for Less Crazy Folk.

A Mass Message From My Doctor

Thought I’d pass this along in case your doctor isn’t as good as mine. Unsolicited, fantastic advice that everyone should read.

“Coronavirus and Clinic Updates:  

…The crisis of Coronavirus is the exponential growth. The number of cases are increasing 30% per day. So however many cases we have today, we will have 10 times as many in 10 days and 100 times as many in 20 days. We worry about having enough hospital resources to care for folks if the outbreak spreads too fast. As you can imagine our health care system will be challenged. Many of us are taking extra shifts in the hospital. This week is calm, but I suspect the next month will be difficult.  

As long as a sick person does not cough into your face, masks won’t help much. The way most of us will get this virus is by touching it with our hands and then touching our face. It seems to be spread by mucus on hands, and its also found in stool. So basically it’s spread like the flu (respiratory droplets) and spread like norovirus (stomach flu). And it’s much more severe. And it can be spread before you feel sick. So it’s basically a perfectly designed virus. Not good for us.  

Many patients will be contagious for days before they ever feel sick, and can spread it by touching doorknobs or preparing food for others. [Note: The CDC says there isn’t any evidence that coronavirus can be transmitted through food. He’s a good doctor, but no one’s perfect.] This is why hand washing and staying away from other people are the two primary ways to avoid covid. Masks help the sick person not spread covid, but they don’t prevent healthy people from catching it. So please save the masks for health care workers.  

If you get a cough and fever, you could have COVID and you should call to discuss. Especially as flu season winds down, the likelihood of COVID as the cause of fever will go up. Most patients don’t need to be tested, you just need to self quarantine and stay away from other people. As testing becomes easier to get, we may start testing everyone – but we are not there yet. Still a huge backlog. The major reason to get tested is if you have to work; Or if you are risk factors for a poor outcome: age > 60, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, cancer, HIV, weak immunity.

If you get severely short of breath, you should call our office or go to the ER. Generally, this would not happen all of a sudden, it’s usually after being sick for 7 days. Patients with covid who get sick, go from initial symptoms to needing the intensive care unit on day 7 -10. So it takes some time. Most young healthy people will never need to see a doctor. We are sending the majority of covid + patients home…Mortality in the USA is still only 1%. Mortality is greater when older than 60. And especially over 80. So keep grandchildren away from grandparents[.] Young kids do not seem to get sick, they can still carry the disease and transmit to others who might have risk factors.

A new symptom being described is loss of taste or smell. In South Korea where they tested widely, 30% of covid patients had loss of taste or smell, even without fevers. So if you have that symptom, you may not get sick but you are contagious, so avoid people for 14 days, wash those hands like crazy. Most people get sick within 5-6 days of exposure, but some take as long as 14. Which is why we’re using 14 days as an estimate for quarantine.

Information and thoughts about moving forward are changing every day. I encourage you to get your medical information from Dr. Fauci and other medical and public health experts, not from politicians or pundits. The CDC’s website has great (and scientifically accurate) information. I hope this has helped…”

Berkson’s Paradox

“My go to example of this (I don’t actually know if it’s true, but it’s a nice illustration) is that professional tennis players tend to be either tall or fast – tall tennis players tend to be slower, fast tennis players tend to be shorter.

You could come up with some complicated biological explanation about why these two traits might be negatively correlated, but it would be wrong, because they’re not negatively correlated in the general population, or at least not to the same degree. The reason is much simpler than that: Short, slow, people will rarely play tennis professionally.

As a result, if height and speed are entirely independent of each other (even if they’re slightly positively correlated!) when you look at professional tennis players they will become negatively correlated, because it’s more likely to be one or the other than it is to be both.

This may seem like a weird niche edge case, but once you start noticing it it’s everywhere.

-David R. MacIver, “Berkson’s paradox is everywhere.” DRMacIver’s Notebook. March 15, 2020.

The Wikipedia examples aren’t really accessible. But, I think the basic idea is that if you select according to two criteria, then when you look at the resulting set, you might see relationships between those two qualities that don’t exist outside that selected set. It’s one example of why correlation doesn’t equal causation. The cause was the selection criteria and not any relationship between the two qualities.