Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Monthly Archives: August 2022

Literary Pickpocket

”Writers don’t read the way civilians do. Civilians read to enjoy. Writers read to steal — to find some style or fact or device they can use in their own work. As the narrator puts it in Wallace Stegner’s novel “Crossing to Safety,” his English professor friend “came to the tradition as a pilgrim, I as a pickpocket.”

– David Brooks, “How to Find Out Who You Are

If We Can Alter Our Genome, Why Can’t We Control Monkeypox?

We all saw this play out in March and April of 2020 with COVID, yet here we are again, making the same mistakes with Monkeypox. Caught up in the last mess as an ER nurse, It seemed like we failed completely. How could we have been so unprepared?

Watching the current crisis unfold, it occurs to me I wasn’t factoring in one important variable.

Solving problems in the lab is very different than solving them in the real world. Once your cohort becomes the entire population of the country, much less the planet, it becomes exponentially more difficult to control.

Labs are orderly. People are messy.

This is not to make excuses for the apparent failures of our government and public health agencies. Rather, it’s just an acknowledgement of why the problem of controlling viral outbreaks seems to fail with depressing regularity.

It’s true we eradicated smallpox and polio, but that was in a time before the Internet, and both of those initiatives took years, if not decades, to implement.

Of course, back then there were no social networks, no tsunami of misinformation, and no ability to attempt to fact-check epidemiology much less immunology. Two topics, BTW, that cannot be fully understood by trained medical professionals, much less the population at large.

Sadly, controlling global populations seems to be a fools game at worst, or a process taking years at best.

In the meantime, try to avoid skin on skin contact with other humans.

The Falling Price of Technology

In 1983, Yamaha released the DX7, a groundbreaking new form of synthesis. The first affordable digital synthesizer, it would help define the sound of pop music for the next decade. It cost $1,995.

In 2002, Native Instruments were the leader in developing software instruments. Some were original designs, some recreations of hardware. That year they released their emulation of Yamaha’s DX7, calling it FM7 and adding many new features that wouldn’t have been possible in hardware. It sold for $350.

Today, I got an email advertising a sale. Native Instruments FM7 is now available for $10.

Yeah, you heard right. $10.