23 March 2020
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Things I Neglected to Mention in My Coronavirus Blog

MERS and SARS weren't dry runs for this pandemic, rather Covid-19 is a dry run for the next, much more serious one. There are plenty of diseases with death rates an order of magnitude or more higher. The long term solution is to learn to respond to novel threats much faster. I generally discount conspiracy theories, including the one that alleges that this coronavirus came from a lab. But that doesn't mean that future ones won't. If I wanted to write a doomsday novel, it would be about just how much damage to society an individual working alone could do. Hmmm.

Further musing on the subject of disease severity: I've been reading stories about people, especially medical workers, who get Covid-19 themselves, with varying severity including death. What determines the severity? What if an infected person sneezes in your face? Or, what if an infected person touches a surface, which you happen to touch half a day later and then touch your face? Seems to me that the amount of exposure in each case is different by orders of magnitude. Does this make a big difference? Or is it genetic? Or determined by entirely different factors beyond just age and "underlying medical condition." One would think that medical workers, who have greater exposure, get the worst cases, and from the stories I'm reading it seems they do. But it's all anecdote so far, which makes it impossible to tell. And, I wonder, is there some subclinical dose that will confer sufficient systemic immunity before symptoms set in.**

How to get ventilators: I can't help thinking that the Defense Production Act is one of the worst ways to get companies to make ventilators, and General Motors isn't one of the best companies to ask. How does the ability to make automobiles transfer to ventilators? Actually, I have no idea. All I (and most people) really know about ventilators is that they use power and have hoses. That's not exactly helpful. If you want hundreds of thousands of ventilators, follow this RIKL two-step process:

  • Publish blueprints, schematics, specifications, etc. on the web and broadcast the URL*
  • Ask for bids, either for the whole product or for parts

Stand back—you'll be flooded with quotations! Really! How many manufacturers are almost idle now due to lack of custom? How many could contribute to the ventilator enterprise if they knew what was needed beyond "more ventilators"? And how many owners and managers, mostly due to ignorance, shrug their shoulders and say "Not my expertise."

I'm glad to see that serological testing—looking for antibodies instead of virus particles—is starting to get some mention in the press. For example, one study in the U.K. indicated that 36% of the population tested had antibodies and, presumably, immunity. If that's close to correct for the U.S., it not only will affect the course of the disease for the whole country, but allow those who test positive for antibodies to go back to work.

The Spam Prophecy

The spam problem has abated to some extent. The most frequent spams I now receive in my inbox are "legitimate" to the extent that they are from real enterprises attempting to peddle non-fraudulent products. If I were someone who had a need for what they're offering, I could conceivably respond and make their day. The problem with this kind of spam is that it's so scattershot that I'm sure they send hundreds or thousands of emails to get a nibble, and there's no way to get them to stop.

The stupid, stultifying, fraudulent, idiotic, transparently preposterous emails are now getting caught by a filter. Unfortunately, once a month or so a legitimate email also gets caught, and so the server cannot silently discard them. Instead, twice a day, I receive a list of presumptive spam emails that I usually discard myself after a casual glance. This may be a mistake! Despite the stupidity of the spams themselves, they may encode valuable data. Remember how during the financial crisis in 2008 many ads were in the spam for "no money down" mortgages and "liar loans." Haven't seen those for years. Until recently it was all for free energy, prostate cures, girls of various nationalities who want to date me, and undetectable knives. It's been building to a crescendo of Coronavirus cures and exposes just in the past two weeks. Does this tell us something valuable?

A Different Joe - RIKLBlog: The Liner Notes

My toil has been rewarded recently in a very special way. My friend Joe Waltz makes records. A number of years ago he asked if he could use my blog on the cover of a record. I wasn't sure what he meant, but since the blog is free on the web, I said "Be your guest" and forgot about it. A few months ago, Joe—and let me emphasize that this is a totally completely different Joe from a different blogitem—reminded me in a most vinyl fashion that he had meant it.

See that blue patch? See the block of what looks like it might be text?

It is text. It's an excerpt from my blog. Is it lonely? No, it goes on for hundreds of blog items, on the jackets of all the records in the package. And the front cover. And the back cover. Hundreds of RIKLBlogs, printed on paper, enclosing actual vinyl records.

Above is an excerpt from the blue patch at the left. I am now a writer of "liner notes," something to which I never aspired. Even more remarkably, I have become, I am guessing, one of the most prolific writers of liner notes in the history of recorded music.

It is conceivable but highly unlikely that someone, some day, will read them.


Administrivia: RSS

I've been ignoring my RSS "feed" in recent years. It used to be automatic, but since switching (involuntarily) from Front Page to Dreamweaver, it now requires some effort on my part to update. I'll try to remember. RSS is a method by which my millireaders can receive an email when I post a new blogitem or update the web site. As you can imagine, you won't be overwhelmed by RSS emails. Or the blogitems or the web site, for that matter. OK, maybe slightly whelmed.

Your email program probably has a way to "subscribe." The link above or the one in the title block of every blogitem points to the feed. Follow the instructions for your email program such as Outlook or Gmail.

* In my usual dilatory way, I failed to publish this blog on the date indicated, and events have overtaken this item. A company whose name I read but have forgotten and can't seem to locate did just that. (Update 02 April 2020 - It's Medtronic)

** Out of asterisk order but also an update on 02 April 2020. The New York Times had an article on Corona Dose Response today.

Richard Factor


"Mr. Big"





I guess the stylized picture of a cat, possibly named Scat, is less scatological than what I understand is a recent emoji of a similarly named subject.

As often, no idea where I got it or what it represents.


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