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Thursday, March 19, 2020

How ignorance and bad instructions fuel a pandemic.

COVID_19 epidemic has conquered the planet Earth.

Read this on covid19 and vaccination:
Today, the emphasis in the fighting coronavirus falls on the social distancing. That would be a perfect strategy if it would be possible to contain everyone for two weeks, preventing everyone from any contact in any form from anyone else. The key word is everyone. Clearly, that is impossible. 

Hence everyone has to be vigilant in protecting himself or herself from an infection.

And theoretically, everyone already knows how to prevent himself/herself from getting a virus, as well as what to do for not spreading it around.

For example, recently all media had stories about people voting in primaries and wearing a mask while doing that.
But as we see in the picture, some voters didn’t care to protect their hands. It is not a big deal if that person follows the instructions provided by the CDC, starting from “wash your hands”. But what if he/she doesn’t?

And even if people wash hands regularly, they may not do it the way they are supposed to. Check this instructions, for example (placed in a gym just two days before being closed for public).
The instruction says “Wash your hands … for at least 20 seconds”.
We can see in the video how students rub their hands for twenty second – while keeping the hands in water. That is what people reading the gym instruction could think of doing, too.

But that is a wrong way to wash your hands.

CDC says that soap should be on skin for at least 20 seconds (an example of good instructions).

In order to kill a virus soap has to be in a contact with it for at least 20 seconds. If you start immediately washing soap off your skin you may leave an active virus on your skin.

This example demonstrates that people at that school are ignorant.

An ignorant is not a bad word, it is a scientific term.

In science it is very common to use one term (or even a symbol) that represents a whole sentence.

For example, instead of saying “the rate of change of velocity” a physicists says “acceleration”.

In psychology, an idiot is person who does not use an ability to think (due to specific psychological issues often rooted in the early culture of the person).

A stupid is a person who has no ability to think due to genetic deficiencies.

And an ignorant is a person who does not have in his/her memory relevant information.

Why someone is an ignorant?

There might be several different reasons for that.

For example, one is a monk, a social outcast, someone who does not have information channels to/from the world.

Or, one may refuse to accept information one receives.

Or, one may have bad instructions from relevant people (or in general – bad education).

The latter reason is widely common, starting from the fact that many school teachers are incapable of providing good instructions to their students (mostly because teachers themselves had no good instructions on how to teach).

In our example, when an ignorant person does not wash hands according to the right instruction, he/she is definitely at a higher risk of getting and transmitting a virus.

This is why ignorance of some is a danger for all.

Next what CDC tells people to do is cleaning up surfaces they may touch, and not touching uncleaned or unknown surfaces with bare hands.

Why shouldn’t people be touching uncleaned or unknown surfaces with bare hands if they will wash those hands anyway?

Because people are … well … people. They forget things. They have many uncontrollable habits. Between touching a surface and washing hands may pass an hour, and there is a study that shows that a person can touch his/her face up to twenty times in one hour. That is why it is handy to have gloves, or tissues and use them when needed. Gloves or tissues may already be out of stock, but a zip bag or a plastic bag may work as well (one may get a roll of plastic bags, similar to bags in stores).

The problem is to keep in mind what you just did. If you used a tissue and your eye is itching, do not rub it with that tissue. On the contrary, if you used your hand to turn a doorknob, and your eye is itching, take a tissue and rub an eye with it (or use another hand – if it is clean).

To minimize a risk of getting a virus we all now have to be in a constant control of all our feelings and actions.

And that is NOT what we used to do every day.

Self-observation and self-control do not come naturally with genes by birth. When born, we all just have a set of various predispositions. But those predispositions evolve into habits and skills only as the result of the cultural influence on us during our first ten to fifteen years. No doubt Albert Einstein had good genes. But if he would have been left in a jungle with monkeys, he would become a monkey – a very smart one, but still a monkey. Without his family, books, and friends he would never be able to create any of his theories.

Nowadays, parents with children experience a huge stress because children do not have yet a developed sense of self-control, they can touch anything and then lick their fingers. But there are also many grownups who due to lack of right culture (good education) still often act like children and also do not have much of self-control. Those people have a higher probability of picking up a virus and transmitting it to others.

This is why poor education of some is a danger for all.

Now, let’s move on to cleaning surfaces.

Many sources repeat the same list of products that kill a virus.
And there are many videos showing how cleaning is happening. But in many publications and videos we cannot see how exactly the cleaning process was organized. All we can see is people rubbing doorknobs, switches, remote controls, phones, rails, counters, etc.  Sometimes in the news you can see people spraying a solution on a surface and then wiping it up …
immediately, like in this video (at t = 1 min 18 s).

I myself saw the other day an employee at a supermarket who was doing exactly the same while cleaning up the carts.

It is very uncommon that a news person would also tell us that the CDC list also provides how much time one or another solution needs to act on a virus to kill it.
For example, if you spray Ultra Clorox, wait for 4 minutes and 30 seconds and then clear it up, it still will be not enough to kill the virus, because CDC says this solution needs 5 minutes to do that.

People who are ignorant of the time requirement put us all (including themselves) at risk. But they do that because people who had to provide them with good instructions – managers – did not do their job.

Since 2016, I’ve been writing about the decline in the quality of management in America (the full list in Appendix I), for example:

The COVID_19 pandemic only strengthens all those arguments.

Finally, let’s talk about lowering health risks in general.

One can find on the internet statements that garlic does not kill a virus, or a vitamin C does not kill the virus. And that is correct. But that does NOT mean garlic and vitamins are useless. The best remedy against any virus is a good healthy strong immune system. Anything that is good for an immune system is good, and anything that is bad for it is bad. Simple as that. When I travel to Russia I always buy there some immune boosters. Some of them recommended by a doctor, some by a pharmacist. They have been around for decades. Just as an example, one of the oldest is Interferon, or its newer version Виферон or Viferon.

But there are other, too. Many of those drugs, actually the vast majority of them, have been developed and produced by European companies and brought to the Russian market. But no American physician has ever mentioned to me any of them. Because American pharmaceutical market is one of the closest markets in the world. Pharmaceutical companies use FDA as a gate keeper, to keep competitors out. This is just one example of how greed of a few negatively affects the wellbeing of many.

In the end, I want to share my personal method to boost my immune system when I feel it is under attack.

When my son was very little he was very susceptible to any kind of a flu. Every year he was spending many days being sick. We went through many doctors, and many books searching for the way to make him stronger. My then wife even became a medical student to study pediatrics. Once upon a time we came across a book written by a pediatrician practicing in our city. My wife used her connections to make an appointment. I do not remember the name of that doctor, the title of the book, or anything he told us, except one advice. When we see that our sun may be getting sick, we need to start doing contrast showers. A contrast shower is a very simple thing – you stay for two-three minutes in a very hot water (not burning hot, but as much as you can stand), and then you turn off all hot water and crank up cold one. First time – just for a second, and then you switch water back to hot. Get warmed up again and in a couple of minutes repeat the “cold torture”, but now for a second or two longer. Do it four or five times; the last water before you shut the shower off should be cold (guilty – I do not follow this rule anymore). Repeat the sessions every four hours. During the illness, do it every day for four or five days in a row, even at night. Many years later I learned a term for this method – a healthy stress. The doctor told us that during each contras shower session our body ejects from some organs and injects in our blood some natural ferments or hormones that boost our immunities – don’t remember any details, though. When the time came to do this at home, at first I had to show my son that this was OK, so I did it myself when he was watching. Since then both of us use this method to boost our immune system – as soon as we feel that we may be coming down with a bug (damn you - sneezing-coughing-spitting-handy people). My son grew up strong and healthy (knock on wood), and so far, I have been avoiding any major flu-related issues (knock on wood, spitting over the left shoulder). Sometimes I do eat some garlic (and use in my nostrils some ointment that I got from Russia). And usually, after a shower I take hot tea with a lot of honey – the best sign that it works is if I get all sweaty.

But, maybe this works only for me. Maybe, this is just a placebo effect. I don’t care, as long as it keeps me out of a flu.

In conclusion, the #1 rule to fight an epidemic is - be smart.

Treat yourself like you are at the same time a virus carrier and a healthy guy (sort of like the Schrodinger's cat). 
If you were a virus carrier you would have to do all you can to prevent a virus get from you to others. If you are a healthy guy, you want to do everything you can to keep a virus away. So - THINK!

Today, the emphasis in the fighting coronavirus falls on the social distancing. That would be a perfect strategy if it would be possible to contain everyone for two weeks, preventing everyone from any contact in any form from anyone else. The key word is everyone. Clearly, that is impossible. That is why the government needs to employ creative measures, for example, in addition to cleaning up shopping carts using the proper strategy, greeting every customer with a pair of gloves, and simply do not allow anyone without gloves to shop. In the light of a two trillion dollar relief package, this measure would cost a tiny fraction of it, but would greatly lower the risk of transmitting a virus from one person to another.

Appendix I


Sunday, March 15, 2020

In Politics Thinking Makes All The Difference

This post is a part of the series about management and managing. To have the full picture I would recommend to read also at least these three:


In Management Thinking Makes All The Difference

Two guys walk on the street. They see something laying on a ground far away from them. The first guy says: “Hey look, there is a piece of chocolate over there at that spot on the ground”. The second guy says: “No, it doesn't look like chocolate to me, I'm gonna walk to it and check it out”. He walks to the  spot and gazes at it. “No, I’m still not sure if that’s chocolate, I need to smell it.” He bends over and smells it. “No, I’m still not sure if that’s chocolate, I need to taste it.” He gets on his knees, bends over as much as he can and licks it. “No, one lick does not help”, he says, takes a piece of it and puts in his mouth. “Oh, yes, that’s chocolate”.

The moral of this tale is simple.

The first guy was able to recognize the substance from the first glance from far away – he had vision.

The second guy does not have vision. He must to chew on things before he realizes what those things are.

The full version of this tale is at the very end of this post.

The second guy is the embodiment of the current American elitepolitical, financial, even intelligence services. And BTW: that is why America now is in such a dreadful state.
 All (meaning – way too many) people who comprise American elite have lost vision, have lost the ability to foresee future, they have to “put it in their mouth” before they will be able to start acting. Hence all they do is RE-acting, i.e. acting based solely on the events of the past.

Their ability to thinking ahead has not been developed because it has never been used, because it has never been in demand - for this generation of managers - of all fields and all levels (some insight on why is in this post).

For the last thirty years American elite existed for achieving one and only one goal – more and more money.

And for the last 30 years, in order to achieve that goal, they didn't have to do anything really knew. All they had to do was to follow the same recipes they used to use before, because those recipes worked just fine for them.

NOTE: those recipes worked just fine ONLY for them.

Of course, they had to be seen innovative – because that was a trend, a fad, that was fashionable and prestigious. So, thy pretended to be innovative.

They did things that looked innovative.

On the surface their actions looked pioneering, but in reality those “innovations” were mostly cosmetic.

It was like inventing a new paint for a car or a new shape of a rear-view mirror, or trying new rubber for tires or belts.

But keeping the engine and transmission exactly the same.

And today, American managers of all sorts and levels have forgotten how to really innovate, have forgotten what an innovation is and instead of actual innovations keep promotion fake innovations – when new products or new services aren’t really new, would only look new on the surface, but substantially would remain the same or even worse than before.

I have been collecting examples from different fields of practice and describing them in my posts:

Naturally, politicians, political pundits and analysts did not escape this loss of vision. The political history of the last four (well, it was actually at least twenty) years is a good demonstration of this fact. Since I have covered it in great details in multiple posts available on my Politics page I will mention here only a couple of things.

From The Boston Globe, 03/05/2020 (but all other papers have very similar pieces).

1. It does NOT matter at all what will Warren do. Her actions will NOT affect the outcome of the Democratic convention and the Presidential elections in any way. Her actions will not even affect much her own political future. Exactly because of the fact that her actions will not make any difference in the “big game”. Why no one writes about that? Because that requires a different type of analysis – multi-variable-long-term analysis. It is much simpler to just describe what possible actions Warren cold do: “she can quit today, no she can quit tomorrow, she can endorse Bernie, no she can endorse Biden” – because that is just a trivial recitation of obvious actions. It is no different from describing a man on a crossroads:

“He can go left, no he can go right. Or he can turn around and go back. Or he can stay until he starves to death. No, if he stays eventually he will have to walk somewhere because he does not want to die, if he wanted to die he would just already kill himself”.

2. First - “looks to be”? It looks like the author cannot count to two. Who else could go forward except Sanders and Biden? Realistically. Authors and editors cannot even analyze their own texts on the matter of logical consistency.

But more importantly, it is not going to be a “two-man race”.

Well, on the surface it may look like that, but in reality, it will not.

Because Sanders is over.

Bernie is burned.

Super-Tuesday results is a case when a tie is equal to a loss. 
This is why the original title for this post was 
Bye Bye, Bernie? Or How can you really make history?

The 538 model predicts that the convention most probably will be contested.

That means it will end up nominating Biden, who himself already has a hhigher chance to get 1991 delegates than Sanders.

Of course, there is still a scenario when Bernie Sanders will get the nomination. For example, if Joe Biden gets a coronavirus. But the probability for such a scenario is almost zero.

I have no doubt that Bernie Sanders will continue running till Biden will officially be elected as the Democratic presidential contender.

But for me this is simply not wise.

I would like to use an analogy that is very clear (a big plus), but only for people who play chess (a huge minus, since American establishment does not play gambits, or Chess).

Position #1.

Ask a chess master who will win in this position, and he or she will tell you – that depends on whose move is now.

But a novice will be playing until the very end by actually moving the pieces on the board.

Let’s say the whites have to make the first move. In that case soon the position would look like this (the fastest way to win):

Position #2.

In this position the next move is again to be done by the whites.

If the player playing the blacks would have had some experience, he/she would simply give up. But an inexperienced player would still keep playing until the white pawn would become the queen.

Position #3.

And even now some of the novice players playing for the blacks would still keep playing, maybe in the hope that the player playing the whites would make a huge mistake. But under normal circumstances no opponent playing the whites would do something completely stupid (unless – on purpose, to lose the game).

Whatever Sanders will be doing from this point forward will not get him the nomination. He now is in position #1, and position #3 is inevitable (no one will let Biden to lose the game).

However, Bernie Sanders still could make history.

A real political history.

He could quit his race for the nomination right NOW, register as an independent and immediately start running for the office of the President.

As I wrote many many times (using a polemic language): “Everyone who believes that the third-party candidate can become the President is an idiot. But everyone who believes that because of that the third political party is irrelevant is an even bigger idiot”.

So, Sanders would not be able to win THAT race. He would not become the President.


he could do much better!

He could prove that the two-party system is not impenetrable.

He could even quickly register his own party, and prove that the third party matters in politics – even in America.

This is what Bernie Sanders should tell his followers.

“If we keep running against Biden we have no chance to get the nomination. Unfortunately, that is the cold truth. Political forces behind Biden will not let me win the nomination. However, it does not mean we are over! On the contrary, we will bring the fight to our opponents! If we simply accept our faith we will not be able to push our progressive agenda. That is why we will have to leave the Democratic party and form our own movement. And that is why I will run for the office of the President of the United States as an independent (or the third-party candidate). In October we will assess our strength. I believe that our movement will have strong support all over the Country – so strong that Biden will not be able to win without our votes. Our ultimate goal is to defeat Donald Trump and to push our progressive agenda. And for that in October I will sit with Joe Biden and I will make him to accept our conditions, I will make him to promise that his cabinet will have our people, I will make him to promise that his agenda will include our plans. And he will promise us all we need, because otherwise on the election day we will stay home. If Biden is not able to understand how important progressive agenda is - he is worth than Trump! We will not allow corporate Democrats use our political force for their own good. We will make them to respect us and to propel our agenda.”

That would be the beginning of the new political era in America.

That would be a true political history in the making.

That would be the real political revolution Sanders has been talking about for so long.

That would be his political legacy.

Technically, he could start this path right after he will lose the nomination (and he will), but at least he would have to start preparing right now (and technically, it does not have to be him).

And as I wrote long time ago Democratic establishment should support this scenario, because in November that will bring voters who otherwise would just stay home.

However, I see zero chance for this to happen.

If Bernie Sanders would have been smarter than he is, and less arrogant than he is, he would not call himself a “socialist” in the first place (like I suggested). He would have invented a different term (there were and still are so many good options). If Sanders wants to look in an eye a person who is responsible for his defeat he needs to look in a mirror. Calling himself a “socialist” has cost him the nomination and the loss to Biden. Democratic voters expressed many many times that there was only one quality they were looking for in a future nominee – an ability to beat Trump. That is why on the Super-Tuesday they voted for the two most familiar faces. They did not want to take any risk with selecting someone relatively young – politically (even Warren, even in Massachusetts).

People who felt like “let’s be radical” voted for Sanders.

People who felt like “let’s be reasonable” voted for Biden.

If Sanders would not have called himself a “socialist” he could get votes of people who felt like “let’s be reasonably radical”. But now those votes went to Biden.

Plus, Sanders did not even try to find a different language to talk to African-American voters. He used for them the same “free college, Medicare for all” appeal he used for white voters. Instead, he should have been talking about racism, reparations, special interest of African-American population. And BTW: African-Americans should ask themselves - why do they keep electing mostly white politicians?

Hence, since neither Sanders nor his advisers were able to figure out such simple things, I do not believe they will be able to figure out a more complicated thing like “the third-party tactics”.

Thank you, World, for our existence!

It is fun.

Sad …

but fun.

Fun to watch.

Sad to exist.

Dr. Valentin Voroshilov

The full version of the tale.

Two guys walk on the street. They see something laying on a ground far away from them. 
The first guy says: “Hey look, there is a piece of chocolate over there at that spot on the ground”. 
The second guy says: How do you know?
1st.  “Well, it is brown, it looks solid, it looks like a part of a large rectangle, also it is shaped in many smaller rectangles, and there is a piece of a wrap around it.”
2nd. “No, it doesn't look like chocolate to me, I'm gonna walk to it and check it out”. 
He walks to the spot and gazes at it. 
2nd. “No, I’m still not sure if that’s chocolate, I need to smell it.”
He bends over and smells it. 
2nd. “No, I’m still not sure if that’s chocolate, I need to taste it.”
He gets on his knees, bends over as much as he can and licks it. 2nd. “No, one lick does not help”, he says, takes a piece of it and puts in his mouth. “Oh, yes, that’s chocolate”. 
1st. I told you.
2nd. And who are you? Why should I listen to a nobody?
1st. “Well, maybe not to put that thing you picked up from the ground in your mouth?”
2nd. I do whatever I want to do to make me feel good about myself”.
1st. OK, I guess we all want to feel good about themselves, but use different means for that”.

In this tale, the second guy is the embodiment of the current American elitepolitical, financial, even intelligence services; in terms of intelligence and arrogance. 

And BTW: the original version of this tale did not use chocolate, it used instead another brown substance.

But to illustrate the point chocolate works as well.