Tags & Posts Using Them

Tagged: About


Tags applied to posts & pages so far: ϜΤΦ, About, Beauty, CatBlogging, CorporateLifeAndItsDiscontents, COVID, Math, MathInTheNews, NotableAndQuotable, Obscurantism, PharmaAndBiotech, Physics, Politics, R, Religion, Retirement, Sadness, SomebodyAskedMe, Statistics, TheDivineMadness

ϜΤΦ:

  • Mon 2021-May-10: Dracula and the vaccine
    Romania has one of the highest vaccine hesitancy rates in Europe, around 50%. They’re starting to get… creative.
  • Fri 2021-Apr-30: CORVID 19
    In Latin, “corvus” means crow. So the adjectival form used in biology for birds-such-as-crows is “corvid”. Sometimes people get confused in interesting ways.
  • Thu 2021-Apr-01: April foolishness
    Today is April Fool’s Day. Attrapons le poisson d’avril!
  • Thu 2021-Mar-25: Free Bird
    Let’s think about something other than COVID. Not Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird”, awesome as that is, but an actual free bird consorting with flying humans.
  • Mon 2021-Mar-22: The pandemic year in retrospect
    Time for perspective: we’ve been stuck in a pandemic for a year now. What’s the best summary of your experience?
  • Sun 2021-Mar-14: Pi Day: Are you still using decimal notation?!
    Today is Pi Day (3/14). You’re not still using decimal, are you?
  • Mon 2021-Jan-25: Today this blog got its first spam
    Honestly, what sort of idiot tries to sell fake Viagra on an obscure, crummy little blog like this? And on an old post at that?! (Please don’t answer those rhetorical questions, especially if you actually know the answers.)
  • Wed 2020-Dec-30: Serious adverse event frequency: about like getting struck by lightning?
    Explaining to COVID vaccine clinical trial participants that the probability of a certain serious adverse event is 1/50,000 or less doesn’t work. Most people instantly stop listening at the slightest whiff of mathematics, including ordinary numbers. But if you compare it to being struck by lightning, that makes sense to most people. Can you guess what happened next?
  • Tue 2020-Dec-29: Santa and the cops
    Here at Chez Weekend, there’s a rumor circulating that on Christmas Eve, Santa got pulled over by the cops?!
  • Mon 2020-Dec-14: My cat is a fin-de-siècle French night club cat?!
    Apparently the Weekend Publisher, occasionally also known as “my cat”, is the reincarnation of the spirit animal of a fin-de-siècle cabaret in Paris.
  • Sat 2020-Oct-24: At autumn in New England, thoughts turn to...
    At autumn in New England, thoughts turn to the extreme beauty of nature, the weather turning more comfortably cooler & drier, cinnamon and nutmeg smells everywhere, and… trebuchets, catapaults, air cannons, and other implements of imparting to pumpkins various levels of sub-orbital trajectories.
  • Fri 2020-Aug-07: What's that stupid avatar?
    Somebody asked me, “What’s that stupid avatar on your blog?” It’s a reminder that even simple questions show infinite complexity if you look closely enough. And sometimes even if you don’t!
  • Thu 2020-Jul-02: The Retirement of Iphegenia
    Somebody asked me, “What’s your retirement plan?”

About:

  • Mon 2021-May-03: Reviewing Google Translate for These Blog Posts
    A few weeks ago, we hooked up Google Translate for this blog. It’s time to review how well it’s been working… or not.
  • Mon 2021-Jan-25: Today this blog got its first spam
    Honestly, what sort of idiot tries to sell fake Viagra on an obscure, crummy little blog like this? And on an old post at that?! (Please don’t answer those rhetorical questions, especially if you actually know the answers.)
  • Fri 2020-Aug-07: What's that stupid avatar?
    Somebody asked me, “What’s that stupid avatar on your blog?” It’s a reminder that even simple questions show infinite complexity if you look closely enough. And sometimes even if you don’t!
  • Mon 2020-Jul-20: Math test post
    Just seeing if I can make the math typesetting work. Nothing to see here, kid… move along.
  • Wed 2020-Jul-01: Fiat blog.
    So… yet another blog? Really?!

Beauty:

  • Thu 2021-Mar-25: Free Bird
    Let’s think about something other than COVID. Not Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird”, awesome as that is, but an actual free bird consorting with flying humans.
  • Mon 2020-Dec-21: Winter solstice, Dodds's Day, and the Weekend Editrix's Day
    Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. It is not, however, the day of earliest sunset (of interest to night owls). Nor is it the day of latest sunrise (of interest to morning… people). Therein lies the tale of the analemma, first told to me long ago by a marvelous former colleague, Doug Dodds.
  • Sat 2020-Oct-24: At autumn in New England, thoughts turn to...
    At autumn in New England, thoughts turn to the extreme beauty of nature, the weather turning more comfortably cooler & drier, cinnamon and nutmeg smells everywhere, and… trebuchets, catapaults, air cannons, and other implements of imparting to pumpkins various levels of sub-orbital trajectories.

CatBlogging:

  • Mon 2021-Jan-25: Today this blog got its first spam
    Honestly, what sort of idiot tries to sell fake Viagra on an obscure, crummy little blog like this? And on an old post at that?! (Please don’t answer those rhetorical questions, especially if you actually know the answers.)
  • Tue 2020-Dec-29: Santa and the cops
    Here at Chez Weekend, there’s a rumor circulating that on Christmas Eve, Santa got pulled over by the cops?!
  • Mon 2020-Dec-14: My cat is a fin-de-siècle French night club cat?!
    Apparently the Weekend Publisher, occasionally also known as “my cat”, is the reincarnation of the spirit animal of a fin-de-siècle cabaret in Paris.
  • Mon 2020-Nov-02: Coronavirus & Elections: The Winter of Our Discontent
    The election is coming, with a possibility of right-wing violence and subversion. COVID-19 is forming up for another wave of infections. Winter is coming. It’s terrifying, but there are some things you can do.

CorporateLifeAndItsDiscontents:

  • Sat 2020-Sep-26: Petrov Day — The Day the World Didn't End
    Today we commemorate 1983-Sep-26: the day Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov prevented the end the world. Go thou forth and do likewise: save as much of the world as you can.

COVID:

  • Mon 2021-May-10: Dracula and the vaccine
    Romania has one of the highest vaccine hesitancy rates in Europe, around 50%. They’re starting to get… creative.
  • Thu 2021-May-06: Good news on vaccines vs variants!
    Some good news, for once: the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is now known to work quite well against the British & South African variants in the real world. Especially in preventing hospitalization and death.
  • Wed 2021-May-05: Immunity freedom day for the Weekend Editrix!
    As of today, the esteemed Weekend Editrix is 2 weeks past her 2nd dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and thus as fully immunized as it’s possible to be right now. At 3pm EDT, she is officially out of COVID jail! Well, more or less…
  • Fri 2021-Apr-30: CORVID 19
    In Latin, “corvus” means crow. So the adjectival form used in biology for birds-such-as-crows is “corvid”. Sometimes people get confused in interesting ways.
  • Sat 2021-Apr-24: The Billionth Dose
    As of yesterday, we passed a remarkable milestone: the billionth COVID-19 vaccination dose has been administered.
  • Fri 2021-Apr-23: JnJ Revenant
    Today the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) today recommended restoring use of the JnJ COVID-19 vaccine with warnings, and thrombosis treatment guidelines for clinicians. The CDC & FDA agreed, and lifted the restrictions. This seems to be very much the correct conclusion, albeit one arrived at far too slowly.
  • Wed 2021-Apr-21: Today the Weekend Editrix got shot (again)
    Today the Weekend Editrix got shot. Again. (The good way.)
  • Mon 2021-Apr-19: Politics vs mask use & vaccine uptake in the US
    Does political alignment in the US inform medically-relevant behaviors like mask use and vaccine uptake? Alas, yes: but not in a good way.
  • Fri 2021-Apr-16: Another study of clotting and COVID vaccines
    Another study has come out, comparing clotting risks of COVID-19 and various vaccines versus each other. What are the risks? And can we interpret the study the obvious way, or not?
  • Tue 2021-Apr-13: US pauses JnJ vaccine on thromboses
    Today the US regulatory agencies “paused” the use of the JnJ COVID-19 vaccine to investigate thromboses, similar to what’s been seen with the AZ/OX vaccine. How many, how bad, and what will a pause do?
  • Thu 2021-Apr-08: Reading the mRNA in the Pfizer & Moderna vaccines
    Have you ever wondered if you could make sense of the mRNA code in the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, if you could just read it? With some help, you can now do exactly that.
  • Wed 2021-Apr-07: Immunity freedom day!
    As of today, your humble Weekend Editor is 2 weeks past the 2nd dose of the Pfizer vaccine. At 5pm, I am officially out of COVID jail! Right? Not quite…
  • Sat 2021-Apr-03: Pfizer/Moderna vaccine mRNA sequences posted on GitHub
    Interestingly, some Stanford scientists saved a few drops of the Moderna vaccine, apparently ran them through their sequencers, and posted the sequences on GitHub.
  • Fri 2021-Apr-02: Well, that didn't take long
    As we’ve seen before, the biggest group of American vaccine refuseniks are White Republicans (especially men). Guess who’s swooping in to take up their vaccine supply?
  • Wed 2021-Mar-31: Today the Weekend Editrix got shot
    Today the Weekend Editrix got shot. The good way: Pfizer/BioNTech BNT162b.
  • Tue 2021-Mar-30: Proposed Darwin Award for vaccine policy
    Sometimes politicians pursue policies so breathtakingly out of touch with reality, you just don’t know what to say. (Understandably, because “breathtaking”.)
  • Tue 2021-Mar-30: Variants vs Vaccines
    SARS-CoV-2 is mutating, in increasingly dangerous ways. Can we keep up with booster vaccines for the variants, or even eliminate it once and for all?
  • Wed 2021-Mar-24: Today I got shot (again)
    Today I got shot (again). In the good sense: the second dose of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Tue 2021-Mar-23: AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine trial (and its further discontents!)
    Somebody asked me about the AstraZeneca press release on their new Phase 3 vaccine trial. AstraZeneca has done it again… just not in a good way.
  • Mon 2021-Mar-22: The pandemic year in retrospect
    Time for perspective: we’ve been stuck in a pandemic for a year now. What’s the best summary of your experience?
  • Wed 2021-Mar-17: The AstraZeneca/Oxford Vaccine vs Blood Clots
    Somebody asked me whether worries the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine and dangerous blood clotting seen in some patients were a real problem. You know what the anti-vaxxers are gonna say; what do the data say?
  • Wed 2021-Mar-10: Republicans vs Herd Immunity
    If a large enough clade of US persons refuse COVID-19 vaccination, herd immunity may never be reached. Right now in the US, that clade seems to be White Republicans. (World-wide, it’s of course more complicated.)
  • Mon 2021-Mar-08: I guess I like Dolly Parton?!
    There is an apparently famous American country music singer named Dolly Parton. I was never a fan because… country music, ugh! But it appears I need to be a fan of the woman herself, because of her philanthropy and her encouragment of vaccination. Hmm… I had no idea.
  • Wed 2021-Mar-03: Today I got shot
    Today I got shot. No, not the bad way (though gun control is a legitimate issue in the US). I mean, with the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Getting the appointment (and the 2nd dose) was Kafkaesque. The actual medical experience was pretty ok.
  • Fri 2021-Feb-26: Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 review by FDA external advisory committee
    Today the J&J COVID-19 vaccine gets reviewed by VRBPAC (Vaccines & Related Biological Products Advisory Committee) at the FDA, for an EUA (Emergency Use Authorization). Let’s have a look through their submission documents!
  • Mon 2021-Feb-01: COVID-19 vaccines: the need for speed
    Vaccine rollouts worldwide, with very few exceptions, have been slow & bungled. But we face a cruel equation: delay = death. Why do we tolerate this?
  • Fri 2021-Jan-29: JnJ COVID-19 vaccine interim readout: 57% - 72% efficacy, depending on… SOMETHING
    Today Johnson & Johnson/Janssen announced the interim readout (not final numbers!) of their adenovirus-vector based COVID-19 vaccine: 72% efficacy in the US, down to 57% efficacy in South Africa. We previously described the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna/Lonza vaccines as “beautiful”; this is “relatively pretty”. Pretty enough to do some good in the world, though.
  • Sat 2021-Jan-16: Is 'natural' immunity any better than vaccine immunity to COVID-19?
    Periodically, anti-vaxxers will say they prefer the ‘natural’ immunity acquired by recovering from a disease, because vaccines are ‘artificial’. Is that likely to be true for COVID-19? In a word: NO.
  • Thu 2021-Jan-14: COVID-19 loves Republican politicians
    Suppose you had 2 groups of politicians, but one of them thought a pandemic was “fake news”, refused to wear masks, congregated indoors with no social distancing, blocked public health spending, mocked public health guidance, was proud of their ignorance, and were just in general jerks about the subject. Do you think they’d get infected with the disease more often than their opponents?
  • Sun 2021-Jan-03: Formal scientific publication of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Phase 3 trial
    On 2020-Dec-30, the formal scientific publication of the Moderna’s COVID-19 Phase 3 trail in the prestigious New Englad Journal of Medicine dropped into public view. It’s good.
  • Thu 2020-Dec-31: The mutant coronavirus: will the vaccines still work?
    Somebody asked me whether the COVID-19 vaccines currently being used would work vs the mutant form of SARS-CoV-2 now driving COVID-19 in the UK. Looks like it probably will, though nobody really knows. What will definitely work: masking, social distancing, working from home, no gatherings beyond a single household, having adequate food & medicine stored, getting a flu vaccination, and not being a super-spreader of misinformation.
  • Wed 2020-Dec-30: Serious adverse event frequency: about like getting struck by lightning?
    Explaining to COVID vaccine clinical trial participants that the probability of a certain serious adverse event is 1/50,000 or less doesn’t work. Most people instantly stop listening at the slightest whiff of mathematics, including ordinary numbers. But if you compare it to being struck by lightning, that makes sense to most people. Can you guess what happened next?
  • Mon 2020-Dec-28: You're scaring me
    You all are scaring me, with your science denying, mask refusing, socially close quarters, holiday travelling ways. C’mon: wear a mask, socially distance, avoid indoor gatherings, get a flu shot. At least pretend to try you want to live until the vaccine is available, ok? Then maybe you won’t randomly kill the rest of us, who do want to live.
  • Fri 2020-Dec-18: XKCD explains it all
    Randall Munroe, the mad cartoonist behind XKCD, explains COVID-19 vaccine approvals. And channels Lord Rutherford. Simultaneously.
  • Fri 2020-Dec-18: Moderna vaccine passes FDA external advisory committee!
    Yesterday was also a good day: the FDA’s external advisory committee passed the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at 5:20pm EST on 2020-Dec-17. Late today, the FDA agreed and granted the Emergency Use Authorization.
  • Tue 2020-Dec-15: Another beautiful vaccine: a look into the Moderna FDA EUA submission package
    Somebody asked me about the contents of the Moderna EUA application for their COVID-19 vaccine. Summary: It is also quite beautiful.
  • Sat 2020-Dec-12: Are the Pfizer vaccine's efficacy confidence intervals sensible?
    Somebody asked me about the confidence intervals Pfizer reported for vaccine efficacy in various age groups. Some of them are negative! Are they sensible?
  • Thu 2020-Dec-10: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine passes FDA external advisory committee!
    Today is a good day: the FDA’s external advisory committee passed the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at 6:30pm EST.
  • Tue 2020-Dec-08: A beautiful vaccine: a look into the Pfizer/BioNTech FDA EUA submission package
    Ok, nobody asked me this time, because for once I got out ahead of them. It seems Pfizer/BioNTech submitted an EUA (“emergency use authorization”) package to the FDA. What’s it look like?
  • Fri 2020-Nov-27: AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine interim readout (and its discontents)
    Somebody asked me about the early readout this week of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine Phase 3 trial. Initially they said 70% efficacy. It’s not a stunningly good 95% result like Pfizer or Moderna; still, it’s a good, craftsmanlike bit of work. But then… things got weird.
  • Tue 2020-Nov-24: Some sense about vaccines from Hank Green
    Hank Green (notable web producer, author, and master of miscellany) recorded his weekly vlog to his brother about whether he would take a COVID vaccine. Roughly: “oh hell yeah!” (though far more entertainingly).
  • Wed 2020-Nov-18: On COVID vaccine protection persistence
    Everybody’s worried about how long the protection from a COVID vaccine will last, whether there can be reinfections, and so on. How much do we actually know about that as of now?
  • Mon 2020-Nov-16: Moderna/Lonza vaccine interim readout: 95% efficacy!
    Today the Moderna/Lonza vaccine trial vaccine trial gave its first interim readout: 95% efficacy! Also, 100% prevention of severe cases of COVID-19. Like last week’s Pfizer/BioNTech interim readout, this is again unabashedly good news.
  • Mon 2020-Nov-09: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine interim readout: 90% efficacy!
    Today the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine trial gave its first interim readout: 90% efficacy. This is unabashedly good news.
  • Wed 2020-Nov-04: Wastewater coronavirus RNA vs medical loads
    Previously, we mentioned there were data showing the level of coronavirus RNA in metro Boston wastewater, and speculated that it might be predictive of medical loads like hospitalization and death rates. The truth turns out to be weirder than that (comme d’habitude).
  • Mon 2020-Nov-02: Coronavirus & Elections: The Winter of Our Discontent
    The election is coming, with a possibility of right-wing violence and subversion. COVID-19 is forming up for another wave of infections. Winter is coming. It’s terrifying, but there are some things you can do.
  • Thu 2020-Oct-15: Statins & ACE inhibitors & ARB blockers as COVID-19 therapeutics?
    Somebody asked me (honest!) about a news item linking improved treatment outcomes for COVID-19 with patients using statin and ACE inhibitor drugs. Very preliminary stuff, and the effect size is not giant, but it is peer-reviewed and looks quite legit. Not gonna change the world, but even small bits of good news are welcome.
  • Wed 2020-Sep-23: COVID points of hope and evaluating a vaccine
    Looking for a glimmer of hope amid the COVID clouds? Worried about whether a vaccine will be appropriately safe & effective? You’ve come to the right place.
  • Wed 2020-Sep-02: What's in the Moderna Q2 earnings call?
    Somebody asked me (different “somebody” this time, though the same subject) about the Moderna Q2 earnings call. Do I look like I know the answer to questions like that?! On close inspection, though, it looks like a python swallowing a pig: a smallish company tackling a big problem with COVID vaccines.
  • Sat 2020-Aug-01: What's happening in the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine phase 3 start?
    Somebody asked me (really it’s the same “somebody” behind all of these) about the Moderna COVID vaccine phase 3 start. Basically, it looks like the start of a reasonably designed Phase 3 trial: the beginning of a long slog to test safety & efficacy.
  • Wed 2020-Jul-15: What's in the Phase 1/2 readout of the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine?
    Ok, so I finally tracked down the official Phase 1/2 readout of the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine (whose Phase 3 delay we commented on about 10 days ago). Here are some quick thoughts, but the top line seems to be very good.
  • Sun 2020-Jul-05: And what about the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine Phase 3 delay?
    Somebody asked me — same troublemakers, in case you’re curious — about whether the Moderna/Lonza Phase 1/2 vaccine trial looked reasonable and if the delay of Phase 3 start for a protocol amendment was reasonable. Sure seems so! No, it’s not an investment signal.
  • Sat 2020-Jul-04: What's in the Phase 1/2 readout of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine?
    Somebody asked me what’s in the Phase 1/2 readout of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine. Of course they wanted to know about the trial results, but they also wanted to know if it is an investment signal. It is not.

Math:

  • Sun 2021-Mar-14: Pi Day: Are you still using decimal notation?!
    Today is Pi Day (3/14). You’re not still using decimal, are you?
  • Mon 2020-Dec-21: Winter solstice, Dodds's Day, and the Weekend Editrix's Day
    Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. It is not, however, the day of earliest sunset (of interest to night owls). Nor is it the day of latest sunrise (of interest to morning… people). Therein lies the tale of the analemma, first told to me long ago by a marvelous former colleague, Doug Dodds.
  • Fri 2020-Aug-07: What's that stupid avatar?
    Somebody asked me, “What’s that stupid avatar on your blog?” It’s a reminder that even simple questions show infinite complexity if you look closely enough. And sometimes even if you don’t!
  • Mon 2020-Jul-20: Math test post
    Just seeing if I can make the math typesetting work. Nothing to see here, kid… move along.
  • Sat 2020-Jul-18: Lord Kelvin on quantitative knowledge
    Qualitative knowledge is real, but… quantitative knowledge is almost always better.

MathInTheNews:

  • Thu 2021-May-06: Good news on vaccines vs variants!
    Some good news, for once: the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is now known to work quite well against the British & South African variants in the real world. Especially in preventing hospitalization and death.
  • Sat 2021-Apr-24: The Billionth Dose
    As of yesterday, we passed a remarkable milestone: the billionth COVID-19 vaccination dose has been administered.
  • Fri 2021-Apr-23: JnJ Revenant
    Today the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) today recommended restoring use of the JnJ COVID-19 vaccine with warnings, and thrombosis treatment guidelines for clinicians. The CDC & FDA agreed, and lifted the restrictions. This seems to be very much the correct conclusion, albeit one arrived at far too slowly.
  • Mon 2021-Apr-19: Politics vs mask use & vaccine uptake in the US
    Does political alignment in the US inform medically-relevant behaviors like mask use and vaccine uptake? Alas, yes: but not in a good way.
  • Fri 2021-Apr-16: Another study of clotting and COVID vaccines
    Another study has come out, comparing clotting risks of COVID-19 and various vaccines versus each other. What are the risks? And can we interpret the study the obvious way, or not?
  • Tue 2021-Apr-13: US pauses JnJ vaccine on thromboses
    Today the US regulatory agencies “paused” the use of the JnJ COVID-19 vaccine to investigate thromboses, similar to what’s been seen with the AZ/OX vaccine. How many, how bad, and what will a pause do?
  • Thu 2021-Apr-08: Reading the mRNA in the Pfizer & Moderna vaccines
    Have you ever wondered if you could make sense of the mRNA code in the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, if you could just read it? With some help, you can now do exactly that.
  • Mon 2021-Mar-22: The pandemic year in retrospect
    Time for perspective: we’ve been stuck in a pandemic for a year now. What’s the best summary of your experience?
  • Wed 2021-Mar-17: The AstraZeneca/Oxford Vaccine vs Blood Clots
    Somebody asked me whether worries the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine and dangerous blood clotting seen in some patients were a real problem. You know what the anti-vaxxers are gonna say; what do the data say?
  • Mon 2021-Mar-15: US Senate: does one party filibuster more?
    Sen McConnell claims the Democrats abuse the filibuster! (Because of course he does.) But what do the data say?
  • Wed 2021-Mar-10: Republicans vs Herd Immunity
    If a large enough clade of US persons refuse COVID-19 vaccination, herd immunity may never be reached. Right now in the US, that clade seems to be White Republicans. (World-wide, it’s of course more complicated.)
  • Wed 2021-Feb-24: Why did Republicans block a Trump impeachment guilty verdict?
    It’s been a couple weeks, so we’ve all calmed down a little. But still… why did 43 Republican senators vote to block the obvious guilty verdict in Trump’s impeachment?
  • Thu 2021-Feb-11: Impeachment actions: sine qua non
    So. US politics: it seems The Creature is being impeached. Again. What can we do to make sure the impeachment makes a difference this time?
  • Mon 2021-Feb-01: COVID-19 vaccines: the need for speed
    Vaccine rollouts worldwide, with very few exceptions, have been slow & bungled. But we face a cruel equation: delay = death. Why do we tolerate this?
  • Sat 2021-Jan-16: Is 'natural' immunity any better than vaccine immunity to COVID-19?
    Periodically, anti-vaxxers will say they prefer the ‘natural’ immunity acquired by recovering from a disease, because vaccines are ‘artificial’. Is that likely to be true for COVID-19? In a word: NO.
  • Thu 2021-Jan-14: COVID-19 loves Republican politicians
    Suppose you had 2 groups of politicians, but one of them thought a pandemic was “fake news”, refused to wear masks, congregated indoors with no social distancing, blocked public health spending, mocked public health guidance, was proud of their ignorance, and were just in general jerks about the subject. Do you think they’d get infected with the disease more often than their opponents?
  • Sun 2021-Jan-03: Formal scientific publication of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Phase 3 trial
    On 2020-Dec-30, the formal scientific publication of the Moderna’s COVID-19 Phase 3 trail in the prestigious New Englad Journal of Medicine dropped into public view. It’s good.
  • Thu 2020-Dec-31: The mutant coronavirus: will the vaccines still work?
    Somebody asked me whether the COVID-19 vaccines currently being used would work vs the mutant form of SARS-CoV-2 now driving COVID-19 in the UK. Looks like it probably will, though nobody really knows. What will definitely work: masking, social distancing, working from home, no gatherings beyond a single household, having adequate food & medicine stored, getting a flu vaccination, and not being a super-spreader of misinformation.
  • Wed 2020-Dec-30: Serious adverse event frequency: about like getting struck by lightning?
    Explaining to COVID vaccine clinical trial participants that the probability of a certain serious adverse event is 1/50,000 or less doesn’t work. Most people instantly stop listening at the slightest whiff of mathematics, including ordinary numbers. But if you compare it to being struck by lightning, that makes sense to most people. Can you guess what happened next?
  • Mon 2020-Dec-28: You're scaring me
    You all are scaring me, with your science denying, mask refusing, socially close quarters, holiday travelling ways. C’mon: wear a mask, socially distance, avoid indoor gatherings, get a flu shot. At least pretend to try you want to live until the vaccine is available, ok? Then maybe you won’t randomly kill the rest of us, who do want to live.
  • Fri 2020-Dec-18: XKCD explains it all
    Randall Munroe, the mad cartoonist behind XKCD, explains COVID-19 vaccine approvals. And channels Lord Rutherford. Simultaneously.
  • Tue 2020-Dec-15: Another beautiful vaccine: a look into the Moderna FDA EUA submission package
    Somebody asked me about the contents of the Moderna EUA application for their COVID-19 vaccine. Summary: It is also quite beautiful.
  • Sat 2020-Dec-12: Are the Pfizer vaccine's efficacy confidence intervals sensible?
    Somebody asked me about the confidence intervals Pfizer reported for vaccine efficacy in various age groups. Some of them are negative! Are they sensible?
  • Tue 2020-Dec-08: A beautiful vaccine: a look into the Pfizer/BioNTech FDA EUA submission package
    Ok, nobody asked me this time, because for once I got out ahead of them. It seems Pfizer/BioNTech submitted an EUA (“emergency use authorization”) package to the FDA. What’s it look like?
  • Mon 2020-Nov-30: What size were the factions in the US election?
    So we just had an election. You may have heard there were some rather sharply drawn sides. How big were each of the factions?
  • Fri 2020-Nov-27: AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine interim readout (and its discontents)
    Somebody asked me about the early readout this week of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine Phase 3 trial. Initially they said 70% efficacy. It’s not a stunningly good 95% result like Pfizer or Moderna; still, it’s a good, craftsmanlike bit of work. But then… things got weird.
  • Wed 2020-Nov-18: On COVID vaccine protection persistence
    Everybody’s worried about how long the protection from a COVID vaccine will last, whether there can be reinfections, and so on. How much do we actually know about that as of now?
  • Mon 2020-Nov-16: Moderna/Lonza vaccine interim readout: 95% efficacy!
    Today the Moderna/Lonza vaccine trial vaccine trial gave its first interim readout: 95% efficacy! Also, 100% prevention of severe cases of COVID-19. Like last week’s Pfizer/BioNTech interim readout, this is again unabashedly good news.
  • Mon 2020-Nov-09: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine interim readout: 90% efficacy!
    Today the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine trial gave its first interim readout: 90% efficacy. This is unabashedly good news.
  • Wed 2020-Nov-04: Wastewater coronavirus RNA vs medical loads
    Previously, we mentioned there were data showing the level of coronavirus RNA in metro Boston wastewater, and speculated that it might be predictive of medical loads like hospitalization and death rates. The truth turns out to be weirder than that (comme d’habitude).
  • Mon 2020-Nov-02: Coronavirus & Elections: The Winter of Our Discontent
    The election is coming, with a possibility of right-wing violence and subversion. COVID-19 is forming up for another wave of infections. Winter is coming. It’s terrifying, but there are some things you can do.
  • Fri 2020-Oct-02: Election Night of the Living Beta Binomials
    As you may have heard, the US is about to face an election more conentious than any since the Civil War. With vote counting likely drawn out due to right-wing mischief at, for example, the Post Office, what are we to make of partial returns as far as predicting the outcome? And will there be zombies?
  • Fri 2020-Jul-03: Is the racial makeup of the Boston Police Department unrepresentative?
    Somebody asked me about this article in the Boston Globe by Vernal Coleman on the racial makeup of the Boston Police Department: does it resemble the community it polices?

NotableAndQuotable:

  • Tue 2020-Nov-24: Some sense about vaccines from Hank Green
    Hank Green (notable web producer, author, and master of miscellany) recorded his weekly vlog to his brother about whether he would take a COVID vaccine. Roughly: “oh hell yeah!” (though far more entertainingly).
  • Sat 2020-Sep-26: Petrov Day — The Day the World Didn't End
    Today we commemorate 1983-Sep-26: the day Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov prevented the end the world. Go thou forth and do likewise: save as much of the world as you can.
  • Sat 2020-Jul-18: Lord Kelvin on quantitative knowledge
    Qualitative knowledge is real, but… quantitative knowledge is almost always better.
  • Thu 2020-Jul-02: The Retirement of Iphegenia
    Somebody asked me, “What’s your retirement plan?”

Obscurantism:

  • Mon 2021-May-03: Reviewing Google Translate for These Blog Posts
    A few weeks ago, we hooked up Google Translate for this blog. It’s time to review how well it’s been working… or not.
  • Fri 2021-Apr-30: CORVID 19
    In Latin, “corvus” means crow. So the adjectival form used in biology for birds-such-as-crows is “corvid”. Sometimes people get confused in interesting ways.
  • Mon 2020-Dec-21: Winter solstice, Dodds's Day, and the Weekend Editrix's Day
    Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. It is not, however, the day of earliest sunset (of interest to night owls). Nor is it the day of latest sunrise (of interest to morning… people). Therein lies the tale of the analemma, first told to me long ago by a marvelous former colleague, Doug Dodds.
  • Mon 2020-Jul-20: Math test post
    Just seeing if I can make the math typesetting work. Nothing to see here, kid… move along.
  • Sat 2020-Jul-18: Lord Kelvin on quantitative knowledge
    Qualitative knowledge is real, but… quantitative knowledge is almost always better.
  • Thu 2020-Jul-02: The Retirement of Iphegenia
    Somebody asked me, “What’s your retirement plan?”

PharmaAndBiotech:

  • Thu 2021-May-06: Good news on vaccines vs variants!
    Some good news, for once: the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is now known to work quite well against the British & South African variants in the real world. Especially in preventing hospitalization and death.
  • Sat 2021-Apr-24: The Billionth Dose
    As of yesterday, we passed a remarkable milestone: the billionth COVID-19 vaccination dose has been administered.
  • Fri 2021-Apr-23: JnJ Revenant
    Today the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) today recommended restoring use of the JnJ COVID-19 vaccine with warnings, and thrombosis treatment guidelines for clinicians. The CDC & FDA agreed, and lifted the restrictions. This seems to be very much the correct conclusion, albeit one arrived at far too slowly.
  • Wed 2021-Apr-21: Today the Weekend Editrix got shot (again)
    Today the Weekend Editrix got shot. Again. (The good way.)
  • Mon 2021-Apr-19: Politics vs mask use & vaccine uptake in the US
    Does political alignment in the US inform medically-relevant behaviors like mask use and vaccine uptake? Alas, yes: but not in a good way.
  • Fri 2021-Apr-16: Another study of clotting and COVID vaccines
    Another study has come out, comparing clotting risks of COVID-19 and various vaccines versus each other. What are the risks? And can we interpret the study the obvious way, or not?
  • Tue 2021-Apr-13: US pauses JnJ vaccine on thromboses
    Today the US regulatory agencies “paused” the use of the JnJ COVID-19 vaccine to investigate thromboses, similar to what’s been seen with the AZ/OX vaccine. How many, how bad, and what will a pause do?
  • Thu 2021-Apr-08: Reading the mRNA in the Pfizer & Moderna vaccines
    Have you ever wondered if you could make sense of the mRNA code in the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, if you could just read it? With some help, you can now do exactly that.
  • Sat 2021-Apr-03: Pfizer/Moderna vaccine mRNA sequences posted on GitHub
    Interestingly, some Stanford scientists saved a few drops of the Moderna vaccine, apparently ran them through their sequencers, and posted the sequences on GitHub.
  • Wed 2021-Mar-31: Today the Weekend Editrix got shot
    Today the Weekend Editrix got shot. The good way: Pfizer/BioNTech BNT162b.
  • Tue 2021-Mar-30: Variants vs Vaccines
    SARS-CoV-2 is mutating, in increasingly dangerous ways. Can we keep up with booster vaccines for the variants, or even eliminate it once and for all?
  • Wed 2021-Mar-24: Today I got shot (again)
    Today I got shot (again). In the good sense: the second dose of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Tue 2021-Mar-23: AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine trial (and its further discontents!)
    Somebody asked me about the AstraZeneca press release on their new Phase 3 vaccine trial. AstraZeneca has done it again… just not in a good way.
  • Wed 2021-Mar-17: The AstraZeneca/Oxford Vaccine vs Blood Clots
    Somebody asked me whether worries the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine and dangerous blood clotting seen in some patients were a real problem. You know what the anti-vaxxers are gonna say; what do the data say?
  • Mon 2021-Mar-08: I guess I like Dolly Parton?!
    There is an apparently famous American country music singer named Dolly Parton. I was never a fan because… country music, ugh! But it appears I need to be a fan of the woman herself, because of her philanthropy and her encouragment of vaccination. Hmm… I had no idea.
  • Wed 2021-Mar-03: Today I got shot
    Today I got shot. No, not the bad way (though gun control is a legitimate issue in the US). I mean, with the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Getting the appointment (and the 2nd dose) was Kafkaesque. The actual medical experience was pretty ok.
  • Fri 2021-Feb-26: Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 review by FDA external advisory committee
    Today the J&J COVID-19 vaccine gets reviewed by VRBPAC (Vaccines & Related Biological Products Advisory Committee) at the FDA, for an EUA (Emergency Use Authorization). Let’s have a look through their submission documents!
  • Fri 2021-Jan-29: JnJ COVID-19 vaccine interim readout: 57% - 72% efficacy, depending on… SOMETHING
    Today Johnson & Johnson/Janssen announced the interim readout (not final numbers!) of their adenovirus-vector based COVID-19 vaccine: 72% efficacy in the US, down to 57% efficacy in South Africa. We previously described the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna/Lonza vaccines as “beautiful”; this is “relatively pretty”. Pretty enough to do some good in the world, though.
  • Sun 2021-Jan-03: Formal scientific publication of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Phase 3 trial
    On 2020-Dec-30, the formal scientific publication of the Moderna’s COVID-19 Phase 3 trail in the prestigious New Englad Journal of Medicine dropped into public view. It’s good.
  • Thu 2020-Dec-31: The mutant coronavirus: will the vaccines still work?
    Somebody asked me whether the COVID-19 vaccines currently being used would work vs the mutant form of SARS-CoV-2 now driving COVID-19 in the UK. Looks like it probably will, though nobody really knows. What will definitely work: masking, social distancing, working from home, no gatherings beyond a single household, having adequate food & medicine stored, getting a flu vaccination, and not being a super-spreader of misinformation.
  • Wed 2020-Dec-30: Serious adverse event frequency: about like getting struck by lightning?
    Explaining to COVID vaccine clinical trial participants that the probability of a certain serious adverse event is 1/50,000 or less doesn’t work. Most people instantly stop listening at the slightest whiff of mathematics, including ordinary numbers. But if you compare it to being struck by lightning, that makes sense to most people. Can you guess what happened next?
  • Fri 2020-Dec-18: XKCD explains it all
    Randall Munroe, the mad cartoonist behind XKCD, explains COVID-19 vaccine approvals. And channels Lord Rutherford. Simultaneously.
  • Fri 2020-Dec-18: Moderna vaccine passes FDA external advisory committee!
    Yesterday was also a good day: the FDA’s external advisory committee passed the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at 5:20pm EST on 2020-Dec-17. Late today, the FDA agreed and granted the Emergency Use Authorization.
  • Tue 2020-Dec-15: Another beautiful vaccine: a look into the Moderna FDA EUA submission package
    Somebody asked me about the contents of the Moderna EUA application for their COVID-19 vaccine. Summary: It is also quite beautiful.
  • Sat 2020-Dec-12: Are the Pfizer vaccine's efficacy confidence intervals sensible?
    Somebody asked me about the confidence intervals Pfizer reported for vaccine efficacy in various age groups. Some of them are negative! Are they sensible?
  • Thu 2020-Dec-10: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine passes FDA external advisory committee!
    Today is a good day: the FDA’s external advisory committee passed the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at 6:30pm EST.
  • Tue 2020-Dec-08: A beautiful vaccine: a look into the Pfizer/BioNTech FDA EUA submission package
    Ok, nobody asked me this time, because for once I got out ahead of them. It seems Pfizer/BioNTech submitted an EUA (“emergency use authorization”) package to the FDA. What’s it look like?
  • Fri 2020-Nov-27: AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine interim readout (and its discontents)
    Somebody asked me about the early readout this week of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine Phase 3 trial. Initially they said 70% efficacy. It’s not a stunningly good 95% result like Pfizer or Moderna; still, it’s a good, craftsmanlike bit of work. But then… things got weird.
  • Mon 2020-Nov-16: Moderna/Lonza vaccine interim readout: 95% efficacy!
    Today the Moderna/Lonza vaccine trial vaccine trial gave its first interim readout: 95% efficacy! Also, 100% prevention of severe cases of COVID-19. Like last week’s Pfizer/BioNTech interim readout, this is again unabashedly good news.
  • Mon 2020-Nov-09: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine interim readout: 90% efficacy!
    Today the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine trial gave its first interim readout: 90% efficacy. This is unabashedly good news.
  • Wed 2020-Sep-23: COVID points of hope and evaluating a vaccine
    Looking for a glimmer of hope amid the COVID clouds? Worried about whether a vaccine will be appropriately safe & effective? You’ve come to the right place.
  • Wed 2020-Sep-02: What's in the Moderna Q2 earnings call?
    Somebody asked me (different “somebody” this time, though the same subject) about the Moderna Q2 earnings call. Do I look like I know the answer to questions like that?! On close inspection, though, it looks like a python swallowing a pig: a smallish company tackling a big problem with COVID vaccines.
  • Sat 2020-Aug-01: What's happening in the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine phase 3 start?
    Somebody asked me (really it’s the same “somebody” behind all of these) about the Moderna COVID vaccine phase 3 start. Basically, it looks like the start of a reasonably designed Phase 3 trial: the beginning of a long slog to test safety & efficacy.
  • Wed 2020-Jul-15: What's in the Phase 1/2 readout of the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine?
    Ok, so I finally tracked down the official Phase 1/2 readout of the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine (whose Phase 3 delay we commented on about 10 days ago). Here are some quick thoughts, but the top line seems to be very good.
  • Sun 2020-Jul-05: And what about the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine Phase 3 delay?
    Somebody asked me — same troublemakers, in case you’re curious — about whether the Moderna/Lonza Phase 1/2 vaccine trial looked reasonable and if the delay of Phase 3 start for a protocol amendment was reasonable. Sure seems so! No, it’s not an investment signal.
  • Sat 2020-Jul-04: What's in the Phase 1/2 readout of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine?
    Somebody asked me what’s in the Phase 1/2 readout of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine. Of course they wanted to know about the trial results, but they also wanted to know if it is an investment signal. It is not.

Physics:

  • Mon 2020-Dec-21: Winter solstice, Dodds's Day, and the Weekend Editrix's Day
    Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. It is not, however, the day of earliest sunset (of interest to night owls). Nor is it the day of latest sunrise (of interest to morning… people). Therein lies the tale of the analemma, first told to me long ago by a marvelous former colleague, Doug Dodds.
  • Wed 2020-Dec-02: Proposed source of the "Wow!" signal?
    The sad news about Arecibo brings up the topic of SETI. In better news, an amateur astronomer has proposed a particular star as the source of the famous “Wow!” event, using the Gaia Archive. Wait, what?
  • Tue 2020-Dec-01: Alas, Arecibo
    Alas, for the Arecibo Observatory/National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center is no more.
  • Sat 2020-Oct-24: At autumn in New England, thoughts turn to...
    At autumn in New England, thoughts turn to the extreme beauty of nature, the weather turning more comfortably cooler & drier, cinnamon and nutmeg smells everywhere, and… trebuchets, catapaults, air cannons, and other implements of imparting to pumpkins various levels of sub-orbital trajectories.

Politics:

  • Sat 2021-Apr-24: The Billionth Dose
    As of yesterday, we passed a remarkable milestone: the billionth COVID-19 vaccination dose has been administered.
  • Fri 2021-Apr-23: JnJ Revenant
    Today the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) today recommended restoring use of the JnJ COVID-19 vaccine with warnings, and thrombosis treatment guidelines for clinicians. The CDC & FDA agreed, and lifted the restrictions. This seems to be very much the correct conclusion, albeit one arrived at far too slowly.
  • Mon 2021-Apr-19: Politics vs mask use & vaccine uptake in the US
    Does political alignment in the US inform medically-relevant behaviors like mask use and vaccine uptake? Alas, yes: but not in a good way.
  • Fri 2021-Apr-02: Well, that didn't take long
    As we’ve seen before, the biggest group of American vaccine refuseniks are White Republicans (especially men). Guess who’s swooping in to take up their vaccine supply?
  • Tue 2021-Mar-30: Proposed Darwin Award for vaccine policy
    Sometimes politicians pursue policies so breathtakingly out of touch with reality, you just don’t know what to say. (Understandably, because “breathtaking”.)
  • Tue 2021-Mar-30: Variants vs Vaccines
    SARS-CoV-2 is mutating, in increasingly dangerous ways. Can we keep up with booster vaccines for the variants, or even eliminate it once and for all?
  • Mon 2021-Mar-22: The pandemic year in retrospect
    Time for perspective: we’ve been stuck in a pandemic for a year now. What’s the best summary of your experience?
  • Mon 2021-Mar-15: US Senate: does one party filibuster more?
    Sen McConnell claims the Democrats abuse the filibuster! (Because of course he does.) But what do the data say?
  • Wed 2021-Mar-10: Republicans vs Herd Immunity
    If a large enough clade of US persons refuse COVID-19 vaccination, herd immunity may never be reached. Right now in the US, that clade seems to be White Republicans. (World-wide, it’s of course more complicated.)
  • Mon 2021-Mar-08: I guess I like Dolly Parton?!
    There is an apparently famous American country music singer named Dolly Parton. I was never a fan because… country music, ugh! But it appears I need to be a fan of the woman herself, because of her philanthropy and her encouragment of vaccination. Hmm… I had no idea.
  • Wed 2021-Feb-24: Why did Republicans block a Trump impeachment guilty verdict?
    It’s been a couple weeks, so we’ve all calmed down a little. But still… why did 43 Republican senators vote to block the obvious guilty verdict in Trump’s impeachment?
  • Thu 2021-Feb-11: Impeachment actions: sine qua non
    So. US politics: it seems The Creature is being impeached. Again. What can we do to make sure the impeachment makes a difference this time?
  • Mon 2021-Feb-01: COVID-19 vaccines: the need for speed
    Vaccine rollouts worldwide, with very few exceptions, have been slow & bungled. But we face a cruel equation: delay = death. Why do we tolerate this?
  • Wed 2021-Jan-20: The adults are finally back in charge!
    Today was a good day: with the inauguration (and the constitutional mandate behind it) at 12:01pm, Biden & Harris and a (barely) Democratic Congress are back in charge in the US.
  • Thu 2021-Jan-14: COVID-19 loves Republican politicians
    Suppose you had 2 groups of politicians, but one of them thought a pandemic was “fake news”, refused to wear masks, congregated indoors with no social distancing, blocked public health spending, mocked public health guidance, was proud of their ignorance, and were just in general jerks about the subject. Do you think they’d get infected with the disease more often than their opponents?
  • Tue 2021-Jan-12: Apropos of nothing in particular, what exactly is 'sedition'?
    I was wondering what exactly it takes to commit ‘sedition’. Turns out, it’s kind of complicated. What with insurrection, threats to murder Representatives, Senators, and the Vice President last week, apparently everything is complicated.
  • Wed 2021-Jan-06: Democrats take Senate & Presidency; Republicans start insurrection & terrorism
    Today was when the Electoral College was to have been certified in Congress, sealing the fate of the presidential election. It is also the day the Democrats attained a majority in the Senate. Alas, it is also the day Republicans incited insurrectionists and terrorists against the United States government.
  • Wed 2020-Dec-30: Serious adverse event frequency: about like getting struck by lightning?
    Explaining to COVID vaccine clinical trial participants that the probability of a certain serious adverse event is 1/50,000 or less doesn’t work. Most people instantly stop listening at the slightest whiff of mathematics, including ordinary numbers. But if you compare it to being struck by lightning, that makes sense to most people. Can you guess what happened next?
  • Mon 2020-Dec-28: You're scaring me
    You all are scaring me, with your science denying, mask refusing, socially close quarters, holiday travelling ways. C’mon: wear a mask, socially distance, avoid indoor gatherings, get a flu shot. At least pretend to try you want to live until the vaccine is available, ok? Then maybe you won’t randomly kill the rest of us, who do want to live.
  • Fri 2020-Dec-18: Moderna vaccine passes FDA external advisory committee!
    Yesterday was also a good day: the FDA’s external advisory committee passed the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at 5:20pm EST on 2020-Dec-17. Late today, the FDA agreed and granted the Emergency Use Authorization.
  • Tue 2020-Dec-15: Another beautiful vaccine: a look into the Moderna FDA EUA submission package
    Somebody asked me about the contents of the Moderna EUA application for their COVID-19 vaccine. Summary: It is also quite beautiful.
  • Thu 2020-Dec-10: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine passes FDA external advisory committee!
    Today is a good day: the FDA’s external advisory committee passed the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at 6:30pm EST.
  • Tue 2020-Dec-08: A beautiful vaccine: a look into the Pfizer/BioNTech FDA EUA submission package
    Ok, nobody asked me this time, because for once I got out ahead of them. It seems Pfizer/BioNTech submitted an EUA (“emergency use authorization”) package to the FDA. What’s it look like?
  • Mon 2020-Nov-30: What size were the factions in the US election?
    So we just had an election. You may have heard there were some rather sharply drawn sides. How big were each of the factions?
  • Sun 2020-Nov-29: We need the Talmudic argument style… someday
    Somebody asked me about the style of argument used when discussing the Talmud, a centuries-long rabbinical dialog on Jewish Law. The style involves not so much winning (though there is that), but mostly about understanding multiple points of view. Sound like something the world could use about now?
  • Tue 2020-Nov-24: Some sense about vaccines from Hank Green
    Hank Green (notable web producer, author, and master of miscellany) recorded his weekly vlog to his brother about whether he would take a COVID vaccine. Roughly: “oh hell yeah!” (though far more entertainingly).
  • Thu 2020-Nov-19: Well, that was somewhat… unsatisfying
    Today the AP finally called Georgia for Biden, after the hand recount. But the Senate still hangs fire until the runoff in January. And apparently, 73 million Americans somehow voted for Trump?!
  • Mon 2020-Nov-02: Coronavirus & Elections: The Winter of Our Discontent
    The election is coming, with a possibility of right-wing violence and subversion. COVID-19 is forming up for another wave of infections. Winter is coming. It’s terrifying, but there are some things you can do.
  • Tue 2020-Oct-06: Today I voted
    Today I voted. You should too, if you’re an eligible US voter.
  • Fri 2020-Oct-02: Election Night of the Living Beta Binomials
    As you may have heard, the US is about to face an election more conentious than any since the Civil War. With vote counting likely drawn out due to right-wing mischief at, for example, the Post Office, what are we to make of partial returns as far as predicting the outcome? And will there be zombies?
  • Sat 2020-Sep-26: Petrov Day — The Day the World Didn't End
    Today we commemorate 1983-Sep-26: the day Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov prevented the end the world. Go thou forth and do likewise: save as much of the world as you can.
  • Fri 2020-Jul-03: Is the racial makeup of the Boston Police Department unrepresentative?
    Somebody asked me about this article in the Boston Globe by Vernal Coleman on the racial makeup of the Boston Police Department: does it resemble the community it polices?

R:

  • Wed 2021-Mar-17: The AstraZeneca/Oxford Vaccine vs Blood Clots
    Somebody asked me whether worries the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine and dangerous blood clotting seen in some patients were a real problem. You know what the anti-vaxxers are gonna say; what do the data say?
  • Wed 2021-Feb-24: Why did Republicans block a Trump impeachment guilty verdict?
    It’s been a couple weeks, so we’ve all calmed down a little. But still… why did 43 Republican senators vote to block the obvious guilty verdict in Trump’s impeachment?
  • Thu 2021-Feb-11: Impeachment actions: sine qua non
    So. US politics: it seems The Creature is being impeached. Again. What can we do to make sure the impeachment makes a difference this time?
  • Thu 2021-Jan-14: COVID-19 loves Republican politicians
    Suppose you had 2 groups of politicians, but one of them thought a pandemic was “fake news”, refused to wear masks, congregated indoors with no social distancing, blocked public health spending, mocked public health guidance, was proud of their ignorance, and were just in general jerks about the subject. Do you think they’d get infected with the disease more often than their opponents?
  • Mon 2020-Dec-21: Winter solstice, Dodds's Day, and the Weekend Editrix's Day
    Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. It is not, however, the day of earliest sunset (of interest to night owls). Nor is it the day of latest sunrise (of interest to morning… people). Therein lies the tale of the analemma, first told to me long ago by a marvelous former colleague, Doug Dodds.
  • Sat 2020-Dec-12: Are the Pfizer vaccine's efficacy confidence intervals sensible?
    Somebody asked me about the confidence intervals Pfizer reported for vaccine efficacy in various age groups. Some of them are negative! Are they sensible?
  • Mon 2020-Nov-30: What size were the factions in the US election?
    So we just had an election. You may have heard there were some rather sharply drawn sides. How big were each of the factions?
  • Fri 2020-Nov-27: AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine interim readout (and its discontents)
    Somebody asked me about the early readout this week of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine Phase 3 trial. Initially they said 70% efficacy. It’s not a stunningly good 95% result like Pfizer or Moderna; still, it’s a good, craftsmanlike bit of work. But then… things got weird.
  • Mon 2020-Nov-16: Moderna/Lonza vaccine interim readout: 95% efficacy!
    Today the Moderna/Lonza vaccine trial vaccine trial gave its first interim readout: 95% efficacy! Also, 100% prevention of severe cases of COVID-19. Like last week’s Pfizer/BioNTech interim readout, this is again unabashedly good news.
  • Mon 2020-Nov-09: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine interim readout: 90% efficacy!
    Today the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine trial gave its first interim readout: 90% efficacy. This is unabashedly good news.
  • Wed 2020-Nov-04: Wastewater coronavirus RNA vs medical loads
    Previously, we mentioned there were data showing the level of coronavirus RNA in metro Boston wastewater, and speculated that it might be predictive of medical loads like hospitalization and death rates. The truth turns out to be weirder than that (comme d’habitude).
  • Thu 2020-Oct-15: Statins & ACE inhibitors & ARB blockers as COVID-19 therapeutics?
    Somebody asked me (honest!) about a news item linking improved treatment outcomes for COVID-19 with patients using statin and ACE inhibitor drugs. Very preliminary stuff, and the effect size is not giant, but it is peer-reviewed and looks quite legit. Not gonna change the world, but even small bits of good news are welcome.
  • Fri 2020-Aug-07: What's that stupid avatar?
    Somebody asked me, “What’s that stupid avatar on your blog?” It’s a reminder that even simple questions show infinite complexity if you look closely enough. And sometimes even if you don’t!
  • Fri 2020-Jul-03: Is the racial makeup of the Boston Police Department unrepresentative?
    Somebody asked me about this article in the Boston Globe by Vernal Coleman on the racial makeup of the Boston Police Department: does it resemble the community it polices?

Religion:

  • Sun 2020-Nov-29: We need the Talmudic argument style… someday
    Somebody asked me about the style of argument used when discussing the Talmud, a centuries-long rabbinical dialog on Jewish Law. The style involves not so much winning (though there is that), but mostly about understanding multiple points of view. Sound like something the world could use about now?

Retirement:

Sadness:

  • Tue 2021-Jan-12: Apropos of nothing in particular, what exactly is 'sedition'?
    I was wondering what exactly it takes to commit ‘sedition’. Turns out, it’s kind of complicated. What with insurrection, threats to murder Representatives, Senators, and the Vice President last week, apparently everything is complicated.
  • Wed 2021-Jan-06: Democrats take Senate & Presidency; Republicans start insurrection & terrorism
    Today was when the Electoral College was to have been certified in Congress, sealing the fate of the presidential election. It is also the day the Democrats attained a majority in the Senate. Alas, it is also the day Republicans incited insurrectionists and terrorists against the United States government.
  • Mon 2020-Dec-28: You're scaring me
    You all are scaring me, with your science denying, mask refusing, socially close quarters, holiday travelling ways. C’mon: wear a mask, socially distance, avoid indoor gatherings, get a flu shot. At least pretend to try you want to live until the vaccine is available, ok? Then maybe you won’t randomly kill the rest of us, who do want to live.
  • Tue 2020-Dec-01: Alas, Arecibo
    Alas, for the Arecibo Observatory/National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center is no more.
  • Thu 2020-Nov-19: Well, that was somewhat… unsatisfying
    Today the AP finally called Georgia for Biden, after the hand recount. But the Senate still hangs fire until the runoff in January. And apparently, 73 million Americans somehow voted for Trump?!

SomebodyAskedMe:

  • Wed 2021-Mar-24: Today I got shot (again)
    Today I got shot (again). In the good sense: the second dose of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Tue 2021-Mar-23: AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine trial (and its further discontents!)
    Somebody asked me about the AstraZeneca press release on their new Phase 3 vaccine trial. AstraZeneca has done it again… just not in a good way.
  • Wed 2021-Mar-17: The AstraZeneca/Oxford Vaccine vs Blood Clots
    Somebody asked me whether worries the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine and dangerous blood clotting seen in some patients were a real problem. You know what the anti-vaxxers are gonna say; what do the data say?
  • Wed 2021-Mar-10: Republicans vs Herd Immunity
    If a large enough clade of US persons refuse COVID-19 vaccination, herd immunity may never be reached. Right now in the US, that clade seems to be White Republicans. (World-wide, it’s of course more complicated.)
  • Mon 2021-Mar-08: I guess I like Dolly Parton?!
    There is an apparently famous American country music singer named Dolly Parton. I was never a fan because… country music, ugh! But it appears I need to be a fan of the woman herself, because of her philanthropy and her encouragment of vaccination. Hmm… I had no idea.
  • Fri 2021-Feb-26: Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 review by FDA external advisory committee
    Today the J&J COVID-19 vaccine gets reviewed by VRBPAC (Vaccines & Related Biological Products Advisory Committee) at the FDA, for an EUA (Emergency Use Authorization). Let’s have a look through their submission documents!
  • Sun 2020-Nov-29: We need the Talmudic argument style… someday
    Somebody asked me about the style of argument used when discussing the Talmud, a centuries-long rabbinical dialog on Jewish Law. The style involves not so much winning (though there is that), but mostly about understanding multiple points of view. Sound like something the world could use about now?
  • Fri 2020-Nov-27: AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine interim readout (and its discontents)
    Somebody asked me about the early readout this week of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine Phase 3 trial. Initially they said 70% efficacy. It’s not a stunningly good 95% result like Pfizer or Moderna; still, it’s a good, craftsmanlike bit of work. But then… things got weird.
  • Thu 2020-Oct-15: Statins & ACE inhibitors & ARB blockers as COVID-19 therapeutics?
    Somebody asked me (honest!) about a news item linking improved treatment outcomes for COVID-19 with patients using statin and ACE inhibitor drugs. Very preliminary stuff, and the effect size is not giant, but it is peer-reviewed and looks quite legit. Not gonna change the world, but even small bits of good news are welcome.
  • Wed 2020-Sep-02: What's in the Moderna Q2 earnings call?
    Somebody asked me (different “somebody” this time, though the same subject) about the Moderna Q2 earnings call. Do I look like I know the answer to questions like that?! On close inspection, though, it looks like a python swallowing a pig: a smallish company tackling a big problem with COVID vaccines.
  • Fri 2020-Aug-07: What's that stupid avatar?
    Somebody asked me, “What’s that stupid avatar on your blog?” It’s a reminder that even simple questions show infinite complexity if you look closely enough. And sometimes even if you don’t!
  • Sat 2020-Aug-01: What's happening in the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine phase 3 start?
    Somebody asked me (really it’s the same “somebody” behind all of these) about the Moderna COVID vaccine phase 3 start. Basically, it looks like the start of a reasonably designed Phase 3 trial: the beginning of a long slog to test safety & efficacy.
  • Wed 2020-Jul-15: What's in the Phase 1/2 readout of the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine?
    Ok, so I finally tracked down the official Phase 1/2 readout of the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine (whose Phase 3 delay we commented on about 10 days ago). Here are some quick thoughts, but the top line seems to be very good.
  • Sun 2020-Jul-05: And what about the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine Phase 3 delay?
    Somebody asked me — same troublemakers, in case you’re curious — about whether the Moderna/Lonza Phase 1/2 vaccine trial looked reasonable and if the delay of Phase 3 start for a protocol amendment was reasonable. Sure seems so! No, it’s not an investment signal.
  • Sat 2020-Jul-04: What's in the Phase 1/2 readout of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine?
    Somebody asked me what’s in the Phase 1/2 readout of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine. Of course they wanted to know about the trial results, but they also wanted to know if it is an investment signal. It is not.
  • Fri 2020-Jul-03: Is the racial makeup of the Boston Police Department unrepresentative?
    Somebody asked me about this article in the Boston Globe by Vernal Coleman on the racial makeup of the Boston Police Department: does it resemble the community it polices?
  • Thu 2020-Jul-02: The Retirement of Iphegenia
    Somebody asked me, “What’s your retirement plan?”

Statistics:

  • Thu 2021-May-06: Good news on vaccines vs variants!
    Some good news, for once: the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is now known to work quite well against the British & South African variants in the real world. Especially in preventing hospitalization and death.
  • Mon 2021-Apr-19: Politics vs mask use & vaccine uptake in the US
    Does political alignment in the US inform medically-relevant behaviors like mask use and vaccine uptake? Alas, yes: but not in a good way.
  • Tue 2021-Mar-23: AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine trial (and its further discontents!)
    Somebody asked me about the AstraZeneca press release on their new Phase 3 vaccine trial. AstraZeneca has done it again… just not in a good way.
  • Wed 2021-Mar-17: The AstraZeneca/Oxford Vaccine vs Blood Clots
    Somebody asked me whether worries the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine and dangerous blood clotting seen in some patients were a real problem. You know what the anti-vaxxers are gonna say; what do the data say?
  • Mon 2021-Mar-15: US Senate: does one party filibuster more?
    Sen McConnell claims the Democrats abuse the filibuster! (Because of course he does.) But what do the data say?
  • Fri 2021-Feb-26: Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 review by FDA external advisory committee
    Today the J&J COVID-19 vaccine gets reviewed by VRBPAC (Vaccines & Related Biological Products Advisory Committee) at the FDA, for an EUA (Emergency Use Authorization). Let’s have a look through their submission documents!
  • Wed 2021-Feb-24: Why did Republicans block a Trump impeachment guilty verdict?
    It’s been a couple weeks, so we’ve all calmed down a little. But still… why did 43 Republican senators vote to block the obvious guilty verdict in Trump’s impeachment?
  • Thu 2021-Jan-14: COVID-19 loves Republican politicians
    Suppose you had 2 groups of politicians, but one of them thought a pandemic was “fake news”, refused to wear masks, congregated indoors with no social distancing, blocked public health spending, mocked public health guidance, was proud of their ignorance, and were just in general jerks about the subject. Do you think they’d get infected with the disease more often than their opponents?
  • Wed 2020-Dec-30: Serious adverse event frequency: about like getting struck by lightning?
    Explaining to COVID vaccine clinical trial participants that the probability of a certain serious adverse event is 1/50,000 or less doesn’t work. Most people instantly stop listening at the slightest whiff of mathematics, including ordinary numbers. But if you compare it to being struck by lightning, that makes sense to most people. Can you guess what happened next?
  • Fri 2020-Dec-18: XKCD explains it all
    Randall Munroe, the mad cartoonist behind XKCD, explains COVID-19 vaccine approvals. And channels Lord Rutherford. Simultaneously.
  • Tue 2020-Dec-15: Another beautiful vaccine: a look into the Moderna FDA EUA submission package
    Somebody asked me about the contents of the Moderna EUA application for their COVID-19 vaccine. Summary: It is also quite beautiful.
  • Sat 2020-Dec-12: Are the Pfizer vaccine's efficacy confidence intervals sensible?
    Somebody asked me about the confidence intervals Pfizer reported for vaccine efficacy in various age groups. Some of them are negative! Are they sensible?
  • Tue 2020-Dec-08: A beautiful vaccine: a look into the Pfizer/BioNTech FDA EUA submission package
    Ok, nobody asked me this time, because for once I got out ahead of them. It seems Pfizer/BioNTech submitted an EUA (“emergency use authorization”) package to the FDA. What’s it look like?
  • Wed 2020-Dec-02: Proposed source of the "Wow!" signal?
    The sad news about Arecibo brings up the topic of SETI. In better news, an amateur astronomer has proposed a particular star as the source of the famous “Wow!” event, using the Gaia Archive. Wait, what?
  • Mon 2020-Nov-30: What size were the factions in the US election?
    So we just had an election. You may have heard there were some rather sharply drawn sides. How big were each of the factions?
  • Fri 2020-Nov-27: AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine interim readout (and its discontents)
    Somebody asked me about the early readout this week of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine Phase 3 trial. Initially they said 70% efficacy. It’s not a stunningly good 95% result like Pfizer or Moderna; still, it’s a good, craftsmanlike bit of work. But then… things got weird.
  • Wed 2020-Nov-18: On COVID vaccine protection persistence
    Everybody’s worried about how long the protection from a COVID vaccine will last, whether there can be reinfections, and so on. How much do we actually know about that as of now?
  • Mon 2020-Nov-16: Moderna/Lonza vaccine interim readout: 95% efficacy!
    Today the Moderna/Lonza vaccine trial vaccine trial gave its first interim readout: 95% efficacy! Also, 100% prevention of severe cases of COVID-19. Like last week’s Pfizer/BioNTech interim readout, this is again unabashedly good news.
  • Mon 2020-Nov-09: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine interim readout: 90% efficacy!
    Today the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine trial gave its first interim readout: 90% efficacy. This is unabashedly good news.
  • Wed 2020-Nov-04: Wastewater coronavirus RNA vs medical loads
    Previously, we mentioned there were data showing the level of coronavirus RNA in metro Boston wastewater, and speculated that it might be predictive of medical loads like hospitalization and death rates. The truth turns out to be weirder than that (comme d’habitude).
  • Mon 2020-Nov-02: Coronavirus & Elections: The Winter of Our Discontent
    The election is coming, with a possibility of right-wing violence and subversion. COVID-19 is forming up for another wave of infections. Winter is coming. It’s terrifying, but there are some things you can do.
  • Thu 2020-Oct-15: Statins & ACE inhibitors & ARB blockers as COVID-19 therapeutics?
    Somebody asked me (honest!) about a news item linking improved treatment outcomes for COVID-19 with patients using statin and ACE inhibitor drugs. Very preliminary stuff, and the effect size is not giant, but it is peer-reviewed and looks quite legit. Not gonna change the world, but even small bits of good news are welcome.
  • Fri 2020-Oct-02: Election Night of the Living Beta Binomials
    As you may have heard, the US is about to face an election more conentious than any since the Civil War. With vote counting likely drawn out due to right-wing mischief at, for example, the Post Office, what are we to make of partial returns as far as predicting the outcome? And will there be zombies?
  • Fri 2020-Jul-03: Is the racial makeup of the Boston Police Department unrepresentative?
    Somebody asked me about this article in the Boston Globe by Vernal Coleman on the racial makeup of the Boston Police Department: does it resemble the community it polices?

TheDivineMadness:

  • Thu 2021-Apr-01: April foolishness
    Today is April Fool’s Day. Attrapons le poisson d’avril!
  • Sun 2021-Mar-14: Pi Day: Are you still using decimal notation?!
    Today is Pi Day (3/14). You’re not still using decimal, are you?
  • Tue 2020-Dec-29: Santa and the cops
    Here at Chez Weekend, there’s a rumor circulating that on Christmas Eve, Santa got pulled over by the cops?!
  • Mon 2020-Dec-21: Winter solstice, Dodds's Day, and the Weekend Editrix's Day
    Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. It is not, however, the day of earliest sunset (of interest to night owls). Nor is it the day of latest sunrise (of interest to morning… people). Therein lies the tale of the analemma, first told to me long ago by a marvelous former colleague, Doug Dodds.
  • Fri 2020-Dec-18: XKCD explains it all
    Randall Munroe, the mad cartoonist behind XKCD, explains COVID-19 vaccine approvals. And channels Lord Rutherford. Simultaneously.
  • Mon 2020-Dec-14: My cat is a fin-de-siècle French night club cat?!
    Apparently the Weekend Publisher, occasionally also known as “my cat”, is the reincarnation of the spirit animal of a fin-de-siècle cabaret in Paris.
  • Sun 2020-Nov-29: We need the Talmudic argument style… someday
    Somebody asked me about the style of argument used when discussing the Talmud, a centuries-long rabbinical dialog on Jewish Law. The style involves not so much winning (though there is that), but mostly about understanding multiple points of view. Sound like something the world could use about now?
  • Tue 2020-Nov-24: Some sense about vaccines from Hank Green
    Hank Green (notable web producer, author, and master of miscellany) recorded his weekly vlog to his brother about whether he would take a COVID vaccine. Roughly: “oh hell yeah!” (though far more entertainingly).
  • Sat 2020-Oct-24: At autumn in New England, thoughts turn to...
    At autumn in New England, thoughts turn to the extreme beauty of nature, the weather turning more comfortably cooler & drier, cinnamon and nutmeg smells everywhere, and… trebuchets, catapaults, air cannons, and other implements of imparting to pumpkins various levels of sub-orbital trajectories.
  • Fri 2020-Oct-02: Election Night of the Living Beta Binomials
    As you may have heard, the US is about to face an election more conentious than any since the Civil War. With vote counting likely drawn out due to right-wing mischief at, for example, the Post Office, what are we to make of partial returns as far as predicting the outcome? And will there be zombies?
  • Thu 2020-Jul-02: The Retirement of Iphegenia
    Somebody asked me, “What’s your retirement plan?”
Written Wed 2020-Jul-01