friday five

From thefridayfive

1. If you could build a dream house, what rooms would it have?

A library, a sewing room, a craft room, an art studio, a LEGO room, offices for every member of the family, a tabletop gaming room, a toy room, and gaming console room with plenty of room for dance games and band games. An indoor pool - is that a room?

Oh and a room that was mostly just a wall to wall bed.

2. What is the best dessert in the world?

Things made with ricotta. Ricotta cheesecake, ricotta mousse, cannolis. Great. Now I'm really hungry and want ricotta.

3. What is your favorite thing to do on vacation?

Swim, or at least it was until I had kids. It's still a lot of fun, but anxiety inducing, because drowning.

4. What is your favorite time of day?


5. What relaxes you more than anything else?

Boring answer - nature. This relaxes anyone!

(no subject)

It's time for thefridayfive

1. Would you rather have the unpredictability of live theatre or the predictability of a movie?

Well that's a leading question! My answer has changed a lot - I formerly would say I didn't like theatre. I think it's because plays sold to adults are just more boring on average (please, not another showing of Death of a Salesman!) but I also loved live musicals as a kid. Now that I'm going to a lot of kids' live theatre, I really love it, it's just really fun. Going to a kids' movie, by contrast is really boring. The rub about live theatre is that it's more expensive, and so when you get a dud it really ruins your day. I'm looking at you, Tabby McTat! That one was rubbish.

2. Do you prefer the symphony and/or opera to a live band or the other way around?

I... don't go to see live music. I'd pick symphony though, if pressed. I think I've been to a total of one opera (for school) and one live band, and definitely at least one symphony, I think.

3. When you go to a museum, where do you head first?
It depends on the museum.

I do have particular patterns per museum. For instance, I didn't know the Ashmolean had an Egyptian wing until last year - like I'd been to this museum 10+ times before I figured it out! It's because the only obvious way to get to the wing is by turning left from the front entrance, and I'd always start my museum crawl by turning right and going down the stairs to the basement level - and so I'd never end up there. Technically you *can* get to the Egyptian wing from the basement floor, but it requires you to walk *through* the food court and walking up a flight of stairs- it almost feels like you're going where the kitchen would be - completely not obvious! And you can't get there are all from 2nd floor up.

4. Would you prefer a pub crawl or a sampling of beer or wine in one restaurant?
I've done a pub crawl, in that I made it to like max 3 pubs? Might just be 2, actually. I guess it's fun. I've never ordered a sampler in a restaurant. Dunno. I guess it depends on how much walking I feel like doing that night.

5. When you visit a new place, what is the first thing you like to visit – something recommended by a travel agency/travel book or something recommended by a friend?
I guess I don't travel enough for either to be a thing, but probably more friend recs than a book (since I don't use travel books or agencies). But probably mostly google.

subtweeting on lj about coronavirus

Arguing with what I thought was a complete idiot on Twitter thinking he's just some rando and it turns out he's a game programmer with 100k followers, went to UC Berkeley. I mean, it's a puzzle game, surely he can logic, but my mind is kind of blown by how he can program his way out of a paper bag given the lack of rigor in his thinking.

Basically, his argument was that the fact that Li Wenliang died, and was only 33 years old, meant that the overall fatality rate for everyone infected being 1% - which was estimated by a team of expert epidemiologists and based on real actual data- was too low.

Anyway, it's an interesting problem to figure out how his cognition went astray. I think it went something like this:

* News says mostly killing older people.
* News says famous doctor died of it. Only 33. This contradicts mostly older people thing.
* The fact that I know one 33 year old died means that 33 year olds dying is an expected and probable event.
* A probable event (33 year old dying) being less probable than an old person dying must mean and old person dying must be much more probable than I previously thought.
* I previously thought it was (5%-10%)?
* Ergo 1% is much too low an estimate for infection mortality rate.

In case you aren't aware why this is a completely bad and wrong train of logic, well there are a lot of reasons.

Li Wenliang being in the news and being 33 doesn't actually make this 33 year-olds dying more likely. This is a cognitive bias we all have; if we see something in the news we mentally raise its probability. This is often wrong. It's called the availability heuristic.

But let's assume, for the sake of argument, that Li Wenlian dying means we now know the infection fatality rate is 10% for 16-59! And we know older people is higher, but we don't know what it is, so n >=10%. Let's assume 0-16 fatality rate is 0%. And we know population demographics looks like this: 10% 0-15, 60% 16-59, 30% 60+. So we can say total infection fatality rate is between 9% and and 36%. A ha! His logic works!

Except the thing is don't actually *have* numbers on what percentage of people are killed by age, because age at death and ... death... is collected at the same time. Estimating total case fatality rate by using age specific case fatality rate is putting the cart before the horse! These estimates for fatality rate for specific age brackets are ALWAYS worse than the total fatality rate for all ages because you lose statistical power. When we have age specific fatality rates, we would calculate this using the SAME data we ALREADY used to estimate the infection mortality rate of 1%. But the data aren't good enough for this yet.

So basically, his train of thought requires us to live in a world where we know age specific mortality rate *before* we know the total mortality rate, and additionally, requires us to live in a world where "improbable" things, like a 33 year old famous doctor dying of the disease he's known for discovering, never happen.

The fact is that being famous doesn't stop you from dying in improbable ways. And things with a probability of 1% happen to us all the time. IUDs are >99% effective and I have a friend who got pregnant with one in! 1% may seem small to us, but 1% of a million is 10,000. Swine flu had a really low infection fatality rate of .01% and it left 200,000 people dead, because it just infected so many people. Improbable things, applied to a large enough population, become probable, and then they become certainty. You just have to hope *you* aren't the statistic, because someone out there always is.

Quote marks. If you're quoting something, USE THEM.

This pattern of online communication is a pet-peeve of mine:

1. Person quotes something without using quote marks or block quote.
2. People reply to it as if it was an original statement.
3. "Um guise this is a quote, I guess you morons are too stupid to get the reference."

When quoting something, use quote marks, otherwise a) it is plagiarism, and b) you have absolutely no right to feel superior to others for not realising you've quoted something, because that is the correct, normal, and appropriate assumption to make in the absence of quote marks.

On rhetoric around vaccines and autism

Someone posted this on Facebook. I wrote this in response and didn't post it because I have learned to mask ;).

I see this argument a lot and I think it's problematic.

Lots of the diseases we vaccinate against we vaccinate against BECAUSE they can cause disability. Measles causes blindness. Rubella causes deafness and intellectual disability if congenital.

It's also intellectually dishonest to frame this as an equal risk of death versus an equal risk of disability. In reality, any disease or poison that carries with it a risk of disability also carries with it a smaller risk of death.

If a vaccine caused disability at a greater rate than it prevented it, the NHS and the CDC and every other national healthcare system would stop giving it. Full stop. I worry that this argument gives credence to anti-vaxxers who think vaccines DO cause brain injury and that that the CDC and NHS wouldn't stop giving a vaccine even if it did and therefore aren't!

What anti-vaxxers get wrong is the probabilities. They *believe* there's a greater risk of a vaccine injury than a disease injury from not getting the vaccine. They are wrong in the facts of the matter, not the idea behind it.

On small gods

It wasn't until I saw the look of shock pass over my (Catholic) MIL's face when my son casually mentioned "the lemonade god" that I realised had been inadvertently raising my kids under the religion of Terry Pratchett (in whose books there are a multitude of rather silly gods).

Of course the gods in his books are based on the very long human history of animism, which is still practised, and on which plenty of other religions are based on or emerged from, i.e. shintoism in Japan, Domovoy in Russia.

I don't think it's a coincidence that monotheism only emerged once we developed writing; with oral history, a multitude of gods can emerge from a single god; only when a god is trapped in black and white on a sheet of paper does it remain the same god.

School fundraising and gambling

Does anyone else find it weird how embedded raffles and tombolas are in school fundraising? In the UK gambling is legal, but you have to 18+ in order to participate. Lotteries have to be state run.

Sure, they're great money makers for the school, but that's because they're a fundamentally exploitative method of commerce. You have to be over 18 to prostitute yourself, make or view porn, or buy alcohol or cigarettes too. Yet we engage children in "light" gambling as if it were a totally normal, okay thing. It'd be like if for a school fundraiser we encouraged children to run kissing booths, sell photos of themselves wearing swimming costumes, and sell and purchase candy cigarettes and alcoholic chocolates.

I am now the proud new owner of an IUD!

On Tuesday I got my copper coil IUD. It sounds weird to say but I really enjoyed my appointment. I love talking to the doctors at the sexual health clinic because it's uncouth to talk about sexual health in public and it's one of my favourite topics of conversation! As usual, she asked if I was in the medical profession (my last appointment with a different gyn asked the same thing.) Nope, I'm just a nerd that's super into women's health.

The insertion itself was pretty easy. I dilated to 10 cm with both of my pregnancies so my cervix is more "open" than a nulliparous woman's would be. And they apply novocaine gel as well. It was approximately as uncomfortable as a smear test (en-GB; pap smear in en-US).

I've had some bleeding but I'm not sure if it's related to the insertion or the fact that I stopped taking the minipill (I had to go back on it before I got the IUD because they want to be absolutely sure I wasn't already pregnant.) I actually started spotting the morning of the appointment. I had to take some ibuprofen, once immediately after the appointment, and then I took some again that night for cramping, but haven't taken any since. I'm only bleeding enough to warrant pantyliners at this point but it's ongoing. Google says it might happen for a month.

The gyn was very light on info about aftercare; she didn't say whether or not I could wear tampons for the bleeding. I googled it and I received a range of answers between "no wait", "24 hours" and "4 weeks"??? The main risk is of infection of the uterus, and inserting anything into the vagina can introduce bacteria. But I think the risk is overall quite low and not worth waiting on. Four weeks seems excessive to me considering that it's 6 weeks following childbirth, and an IUD insertion is nowhere near as traumatic to the uterus as childbirth!

Extremely lazy friday 5

The friday 5
1. Do you have a favorite piece of jewelry? Describe.

This one:

2. Is there a piece of jewelry that you wear daily? Describe.
This one:

3. What is the most costly piece of jewelry you own?
Probably my wedding ring.

4. What piece of jewelry would you secretly (or not so secretly) love to own, but do not? Why don't you?
Not really. Not a huge jewelry person, TBH.

5. Is there a piece of jewelry you once owned but no longer own? What happened to it?
I have lost a fair bit of jewelry. Nothing expensive though. 

Twice exceptional

There's a trend in parenting now to call your kid "2e" (short for twice exceptional.) Yes, it's so common there's a universally agreed upon shorthand for it.

What it means is that your kid has some sort of serious issue but you console yourself with the fact that your kid is really good at something else. So, if I were delusional, I'd call my kid 2e because even though he's having serious problems in the school and the school had forced us to waste precious NHS resources trying to get him diagnosed with something, he's like, really good at playing puzzle games.

Mums - your kid is not twice exceptional. If he's good at one thing and bad at everything else, that's just once exceptional. Other kids? Other kids are twice exceptional, maybe three times exceptional! If they're good at everything, we in ye old days called that a Renaissance man or a polymath.

Having a kid with a serious issue is hard. It's *great* if they don't have universal delays and only have issues in one area. But that doesn't actually mean they're twice exceptional. It just means they're lucky to not have a universal delay, but still not as lucky as all the other kids that turned out normal. Sorry.