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COVID19 - The Tale of Two Countries

As a techy and former programmer, there’s an old adage that everyone in technology knows and has recited at least dozens of times. That is: Garbage in, Garbage out. Put simply, you put bad code in, you’ll get a bad program out. It’s literally that simple. The same goes for decision making: bad data in, bad decisions out. It shouldn’t shock us that COVID is now such a polarizing issue here in the US. A polarized culture is our new normal. You could say it’s trendy. It’s trendy to have infinitely strong opinions, opposite of others, even when both sides are operating on the same information, even bad information. That’s where opinion comes in. We’ve been polarized on politics, abortion, LGBTQIA, forced vaccinations, 1 million other topics, and now we’re polarized by COVID19. Some walk in to the grocery store with a mask and see someone without a mask and immediately think, "what a careless moron." Others walk in without a mask and see those with a mask and think, "poor paranoid moron." Some think social distancing and economic shut down is completely insane… while others are passionate that we’re opening back up far too soon and we haven’t done enough.

It dawned on me recently that I have close friends, very wise, smart, level headed logical thinking friends, on both sides of this fence. So I ask, why is this? How did we get here? What data, or information, is driving this decision making process? Surely it’s not news. I can watch 10 minutes of Fox News, 10 minutes of CNN, and 10 Minutes of MSNBC, and come to 3 completely different outcomes… all of which are riddled with opinion based, politically charged, ideological based narratives, carefully designed to spin the story in to what we as a culture somehow (and foolishly) accept as "news." So I turn them all off and deduce, it’s just noise. I can’t trust it. They all have their own set of so called facts… as if real truth is relative, or fluid. And if we can’t accept the same facts, we’ll never accept the same news narrative, or the same decisions. Garbage in, garbage out.

So what facts do we actually have? Here are some simple ones that I’ve found. There are 328 million people in the US. As of now, the morning of May 11th, 2020, we’ve had 80,602 COVID19 deaths. As a percentage, the US has lost 0.0245% of its population to COVID19. That’s 2.45 hundredths of 1 percent. On the other hand Sweden has 10.23 million people, and has sustained 3,225 COVID19 deaths. Therefore, Sweden has lost 0.0315% of its population to COVID19. So their death rate, as a percentage of population, beats ours by 0.007%. That’s 7 thousandths of 1 %. Please recognize how small that percentage is. It’s not 1%, it’s not a tenth of 1%, it’s not a hundredth of 1%... it’s seven one-thousandths of 1%.

So I ask: what on earth did these two countries do differently to wind up with such a barely measurable difference in COVID19 death rate? The answer, the facts mind you, are astonishing. The US quite simply shut down. You’ve seen it, and you’ve lived it - mandatory quarantine, businesses closed, shelter in place, travel ban, no gatherings… I mean shut down. Shut it all down. As in, make the world stop turning if possible.

What did Sweden do? After all, they have our death rate beat by seven one-thousandths of 1%. Here’s what Sweden did, and don’t blink, because if you do you’ll miss it: nothing. Virtually nothing. While America shut down, Sweden did not. America stopped going to work, stopped driving, stopped flying, stopped going to church, stopped going to school, stopped eating out, stopped getting hair cuts, stopped socializing with so much as your neighbor, and stopped pretty much anything that wasn’t stopped prior to COVID. Sweden basically told its citizens (more or less), "Hey yall, there’s a disease spreading out there, try and use some common sense." Literally, that was Sweden’s COVID response measures. They had recommendations, while we had legal mandates. Sweden went to school, ate out, went to gyms, salons, work, gathered, and did nearly everything that they’d always done. It was business as usual. There is literally a grand canyon of difference in these two approaches. And for what difference? A whopping seven one-thousandths of one percent difference. You might say, well, they don’t have thick urban areas like New York City? And I’d say, well, they do, in their own proportional right. It’s called Stockholm. The fact is, 84% of America lives in Urban areas, and 85% of Sweden lives in urban areas. So factually, more of their country lives in urban areas than we do here in the US. Could that possibly account for a less than 1%.... or seven one-thousandths of one percent difference in the COVID mortality rate? I have no idea. I’m not a doctor, or an epidemiologist, or a news anchor.

But something huge is amiss here. Our outcome is virtually no different than Sweden’s, but we shut down while they stayed open. And our shut down quarantine mandates have created incredible repercussions. We’ve squashed freedoms while we murdered our record breaking economy. We’ve killed tens of millions of jobs. If you’re not one of them, imagine what it’s like trying to find a job right now, and put food on your table when not only is no one hiring, no one is going to work and companies are closing up shop left and right. There’s not enough internet space to list all the repercussions, but I can tell you there’s been a 24% increase in domestic violence, and suicide is up. A federal emergency hotline for emotional distress has recorded a 1000% increase in call volume for April 2020 over April 2019. America is quite literally, and collectively, going out of their mind.

What I’m saying is, we as a country are suffering from garbage in, garbage out. We’re not operating on reliable data, and we never were. No one knows how many people have had the disease, or have the antibodies. Just like no one knows how many people in China have actually died from it. It’s sad and exhausting to operate in this climate. And we can’t really blame it on politics. They themselves are making decisions off of terrible data, because we the people force them to. If they act, half the country is infuriated, if they don’t act, the other half of the country is infuriated. None of these "models" actually work. The amount that we don’t know about COVID19 grossly outweighs what we actually do know. But what we also know, is that Sweden did almost nothing, and America did almost everything, and the two outcomes were the same… not even one one-hundredth of one percent different. So wear a mask, or don’t wear a mask, but give grace to the other side - because neither side is making decisions off reliable information. We are living in our own micro world right here in our neighborhoods. Some of us are America, and some of us are Sweden. While the numbers might show there is no difference, the two sides can at least respect each other.

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The Indescribable Sound of Christian Music

You've probably been there - channel surfing on the radio, landing on a station and within a fraction of a second, you know you've landed on a Christian song. It's that indescribable sound that tells you with 100% confidence, this song is definitely Christian. You don't even have to hear a single lyric. Just hearing a half second of any part of the song screams from the highest mountain tops, Christian Contemporary Music (CCM) is hard at work. Or is it?

Let me ask you a question. Does Christian music suck? See, much of the world believes it does. We know this because they are voting with their dollar and their streaming playlists. If this is true, why is this? Why don't more people listen to Christian music? To get to the bottom of this, we need to understand why Christian music sounds the way it does.

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Political Elections

Dear voter,

If your candidate didn't win, there is still much to be happy about. There are mass groups of people that lose their minds and come completely unglued when elections don't fall their way. Don't let the emotion from undesired outcomes put you in that fragile group of people.

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School Shootings, Walk Outs, and Gun Violence

On March 14th, thousands of students all over the country walked out of class for 17 minutes to protest gun violence in schools. It's certainly easy to empathize with this particular movement. They've had enough. We've all had enough. Everyone wants gun violence in schools eradicated. At the very least, everyone, including both sides of the isle, can get on this train.

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Gun Control

Once again, the extremely predictable, semi-annual gun control debate is upon us... and just in time for the holiday season. Fact: each year there are about 11,000 deaths from homicide by firearms (“gun deaths”). This comes out to about 30 gun deaths each and every day. By contrast, there are about 1,060,000 abortions per year. This comes out to 2900 baby deaths per day (96 times more than gun deaths). Furthermore, Alzheimer’s kills 84,000 per year, the Flu kills 57,000 per year, suicide takes 41,000 per year, and Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease claims 149,000 per year. I know you saw that one coming.

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Dear Celebrity,

It seems there has been some recent confusion as to what we, the non-celebrity population of America, want from you. Whether you act on stage, on screen, or sing our favorite songs… there's really only one thing we want from you. What we want, and why you're paid, is because you entertain. It's show business. You put on the show, and we pay to see the show. In doing so, you provide brief moments of wonderful entertainment. And during those brief moments, we get to escape for that time, and enjoy your talent. We thank you for that.

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This is Why Tidal Will Fail

why Jay-Z's Tidal will fail

Update 4/21/2015: Tidal declared "Failure"
(less than a month after writing this).

My heart goes out to those select artists and celebrities who whine about not making enough money. Artists like Jay-Z, Madonna, Kanye, Rihanna, Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Chris Martin, and others backing the Tidal music streaming service... they are just scraping by aren't they? I mean, with pesky little net worths in the tens of millions, or even hundreds of millions, how do they get by? Bless their poor detached hearts.

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American Express Points Explained

American Express Amex Points If you are wondering which Amex card to get to maximize your points usage, this guide is for you. For regular American Express cards like the Green, Gold, or Platinum Amex, your point conversions looks like this:

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The Internet's Fake Problem

You may not realize it, but many of the videos you share, quotes you forward, and news articles that win your click are fake. Why? Money of course.

Have you seen the plane at the airshow that landed with one wing? It's totally awesome. And it's totally fake. What about the eagle that swooped down and picked up the baby in the middle of the park and flew off before dropping the baby to the ground? Also fake. Have you seen David Beckham kick 3 soccer balls an impossible distance only to land directly into 3 trash cans on the beach? You guessed it, fake.

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Texas, Traffic, and Phones

Ahhh, the great state of Texas. Everything is bigger in Texas, right? Big cities, big hats, big hair - we Texans just love big. We have big cars and big trucks to get to our big stores and we drive big distances to go to big stadiums to watch big people play sports on big screens.

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What Little Girls Wish Daddies Knew

This is a snippet from an article that Tara Hedman, Registered Psychotherapist, wrote recently. Put simply, this is a very transparent list of what daddy's little girl wish her daddy knew. As a father of two girls, the weight of this text is quite pressing.

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Son of God Movie

The new movie about the life of Jesus Christ by Mark Burnett & Roma Downey hits theaters on Friday February 28th.

Go see this movie. On opening weekend. Make it happen.

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iPhone Won't Pair With Bluetooth?

Having trouble pairing your iPhone with your new Bluetooth device? Clock radios, wireless speakers, headsets, and several other devices made by iHome, Philips, Ion, Logitech and Sony may have trouble pairing the Bluetooth with your iPhone, but it's not necessarily the Bluetooth device's fault. The cause is probably on your iPhone.

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Tom Thumb Wine - Is it a Scam?

Tom Thumb's recent marketing campaign boasting you can, "Save 30% on bottles of wine priced $20 and over," sure sounds intriguing, but a quick visit to a store proves otherwise. This massive ad run by Tom Thumb is not only a scam, but it tells us that Tom Thumb must think their customers are as dumb as a box of rocks.

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Timeless Rock Playlist

  • Slither - Velvet Revolver
  • Show Me How to Live - Audio Slave
  • Walk - Foo Fighters
  • Kings and Queens - 30 Seconds to Mars
  • Supermassive Black Hole - Muse
  • Fuel - Metallica
  • Cherub Rock - Smashing Pumpkins
  • Dolphins Cry - Live
  • Crawling in the Dark - Hoobastank
  • Humans Being - Van Halen

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Best Bottle of Wine Under $10

It's like the endless search that can't be finished. You think you've found it, but another year passes and that $9.75 bottle of wine that was so great last year just isn't the same this year. Years ago it was Veo Grande that made their mark on the under $10 category, but for whatever reason they couldn't keep the level of quality consistent year to year. So one year it tastes great, and next, well.. perhaps more like sand and water.

Hear me now, believe me later - this bottle continues to satisfy. Year after year, this proprietary red blend has kept the quality and the value pricing. Fleur De Lyeth is the best bottle of red wine under $10. I know some of you might argue shelf space hogs like Yellow Tail, a coastal Mondavi, Bogle, or what have you, but I would say different. While all those bottles have had their time in the spot light the quality consistency from year to year fluctuates like Texas weather. It just can't be trusted. And by no means am I dogging those other brands, but their entry level priced wine just isn't holding up right now.

You want to spend less than $10 on a bottle of red, and impress your company? Don't bother rolling the dice on several dozen bottles of junk in that $6 to $10 range. Just find the Fleur De Lyeth, and call it a win. You can't make nine dollars and change taste any better.

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History Channel, The Bible - Mark Burnett

If you aren't watching the new miniseries on The History Channel by Mark Burnett and his wife Roma Downey, it's not too late to start. And if you missed the first installment, set your DVR because they are re-airing it multiple times.

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Muse Concert in Dallas at AAC

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Muse Review in Dallas on 12/2/2015 Here
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Some pictures of Muse in Dallas @ AAC on March 13th, 2013.

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Who is to credit for building my business?

Government? Obama? Exactly who built whatever it is that I have?

I went to work for KPMG in the late 90s. I got the job there because my parents sent me to Baylor University after my lukewarm high school performance. I was a Sigma Nu at Baylor and there I met a friend named Jocelyn. She walked my resume in to KPMG and landed me the job after one 45 minute interview. I was trained in web technologies at Baylor, which ultimately got me hired at Scient, which I left KPMG for. My friend Chad called me from Scient and convinced me to leave KPMG. At Scient I learned the important stuff to all things internet and web.

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Facebook Fatal error: Uncaught CurlException: 28:

Are you a Facebook developer getting that error? Sure you could spend hours reading forum after forum about how everyone else is having the same problem, or you could read the fix below.

Here is the fix to the error:

1. Find your facebook.php file
2. Find this line:
  CURLOPT_USERAGENT => 'facebook-php-2.0',
3. Add this line under that line:
  CURLOPT_SSLVERSION => 3,

Save. Upload. Done. : )

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