Category Archives: Politics vs. math

A Florida coronavirus film noir in four acts

June Florida Coronavirus

The dramatic June resurgence of Covid-19 cases in my current home of Florida strikes me as film noir that has been playing out in four acts. You could write this story in a number of ways, but I see the plot line as a battle among the exciting(?) mathematical concepts of uncertainty, probability, and fecundity, with some ugly politics thrown… Read more »

Mail voting – an auditor’s dream

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mail-in-ballot

My Certified Public Accountant certificate is in retirement status, so I am not speaking in an official capacity here. But if I were still a legit CPA, I would assert that the best mail-in systems around the U.S. are much more secure than any in-person voting process in the country. For one thing, they are much easier to audit after… Read more »

Justice Gorsuch and the two conservatisms

Republican coalition vectors

Religious conservatives were taken aback by the recent Bostock v. Clayton County Supreme Court case, and especially by Neil Gorsuch’s blunt affirmation of the rights of LGBTQ people in the workplace under his “textual” reading of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. I see this as an unequivocally good decision, but the “surprise factor” here is worth some… Read more »

Worth a read: Galileo and the Science Deniers by Mario Livio

Galileo and the Science Deniers

“[T]he present Pope, who abhors the liberal arts and this kind of mind, cannot stand these novelties and subtleties; and everyone here tries to adjust his mind and his nature to that of the ruler.” Piero Guicciardini, describing Pope Paul V (1550–1621) Astrophysicist and Hubble Telescope guru Mario Livio suggests that you substitute the name of some current political ruler… Read more »

College after coronavirus #3: Sports

Note: This is the last of three posts about threats to higher education exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. The second part of this series, on the campus social experience, is linked here. This week the president of the University of Michigan, a pretty good school from which I hold a couple of “credential papers,” announced that, if there are to… Read more »

College after coronavirus #2: The social holding pen

Note: This is the second of three posts about threats to higher education exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. The first part of this series, on “education versus credentials,” is linked here. I was like most of my 18-year-old male peers in 1969 when I went off to attend an engineering school in northern Michigan. I wanted my own car. I… Read more »

Driving drunk in Coronavirus World

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Covid risk of harm

Whenever I get into my car, even on a nice day while wide awake and sober, I am taking on the risk of death. And very late every snowy winter’s night in Minnesota, some guy is out on the road driving fast and drunk. Which one of these risks is most like the “Coronavirus World” in which we currently live?… Read more »

The ethical theory of “Sucks to be you!”

Coronavirus history US

Utilitarianism is a classic “vector” of ethical theory, a structured way to decide “the right way” to resolve life-and-death dilemmas like the one facing us today. This is a versatile model, one that that has continued to re-emerge in modified forms ever since its roots in the writings of Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806–1873). The coronavirus news… Read more »

The person behind the mask

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The Lone Ranger

The debate over the general public wearing masks to combat the coronavirus has taken a decidedly political turn. Especially in public places like grocery stores, you could bet with good odds on which television news networks the various customers watch the most. Vice President Pence goes without a mask in public appearances, even visiting at-risk nursing homes, not because he… Read more »

Living Shirley Jackson’s story ‘The Lottery’ in real-time

Closed Iowa Counties

Note: This blog entry was first published in @LauraRBelin’s  Bleeding Heartland blog on Monday, May 4, and is re-posted here for my audience. I have updated the Iowa death chart and its explanation to include several more days of data. History since that earlier chart has been mixed. The daily growth rate in Iowa COVID-19 deaths has dropped slightly to… Read more »